Those unheralded Winter Olympic athletes

Chances are pretty strong that an overwhelming majority of Americans cannot name more than a handful of athletes competing in the Winter Olympics. If you went out on the street and conducted a survey asking people to name at least one Olympic athlete, I bet more than 70 percent could not name at least one. Even these so-called sports experts who host sport talk shows would probably have a hard time naming even 5 athletes competing in South Korea. They would have no problem naming 100 NFL players but the Olympics is a totally different ball game. The fact is, Olympic athletes are among the most unheralded athletes in the world. And in some ways, that is what sports should be all about.

A couple of thoughts came to my mind last night while I was watching something called women’s biathlon. You know, the sport that combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. I have to admit it was the first time ever that I have seen a biathlon event. A couple of the competitors were in their 30’s. One of the announcers mentioned that it was the last Olympics for one of the women. This had to be the biggest moment in her life. The last chance to go out on top in a sport she has probably dedicated many countless hours to. I could not help but to root for this woman even though she was from a different country. The Winter Olympics is filled with so many athletes like her. Individuals competing in virtually anonymity for the one chance of glory.

As a former athlete myself, I can deeply appreciate the sacrifices that a majority of these athletes have to make. Many have full-time jobs in addition to the overwhelming amount of training they must go through. While many of their co-workers are enjoying the comforts of a nice warm bed in the morning or a few drinks during happy after work, these athletes are up at the crack of dawn or a sacrificing valuable social time in order to chase a once in a lifetime dream. The thought of standing on that podium stand during the medal ceremony drives these athletes to push even harder. A medal is the end goal for them.

I really admire the pressure these individuals have to put up with as well. In most sports, there are several opportunities if one fails. If a quarterback on a football team has a bad game, there is always next week to look forward to. For an Olympic athlete, there is not next week to look forward to, there is 4 years later to look forward to or maybe never. One bad start or a slip and all that training and sacrifice goes down the drain. These athletes are under incredible pressure to perform not only for themselves, but for their country.

I know for some, watching the Winter Olympics is not the most exciting thing to watch on television. I look at it a different way. It is fun for me to watch anytime type of athletic competition. Some of the events are totally new to me. I am learning just like everyone else is. Even though I do not understand some of the sports, I can certainly appreciate the vast amount of effort they have put forward to be an Olympic athlete. Every one of us should at least watch some of the games. Even though only a few will end up with medals, all these athletes are winners in my eyes. I wish them all the best of luck.


The best gift on Valentine’s Day is free

Well it is that time of the year when many guys are filled with a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you cannot escape the constant non-stop advertisements for that day. Everything from chocolates, jewelry, flowers and pajamas are gifts suggested for that desperate guy who is trying to score for some major brownie points for that special gal. As someone who is currently single and has been through all of this before, let me offer some advice, please be creative with the gifts and also do not forgot another gift that will leave a bigger impact on her than all of these gifts combined.  It is free and simply comes from your mouth. No I am not talking about some deep and passionate French kiss. I am talking about the words that you say to your sweetheart. Never underestimate how important they are to win her heart.

Don’t get me wrong, buying your lover a special gift on Valentine’s Day is very important. Women love to be pleasantly surprised with a well thought out gift. But it does not mean anything if you turn around the next day and speak to her in a very condescending manner about some issue. Or tell her how dumb she is for not following instructions on how to do her taxes. Perhaps you mockingly joke about her putting on a few pounds. It might sound funny to you, but to her, it is not and very hurtful. Those harmful words can pretty much eliminate any brownie points you may have garnered from buying her a nice gift.

On the other hand, a huge compliment will go a long ways in capturing her heart forever. On Valentine’s Day, make a huge effort to say something to her that will totally floor her. Maybe she is really big into volunteering at a local homeless shelter. Tell her what a huge heart she has. Or maybe she has a unique sense of humor that you cannot get enough of. Tell her that and make it known how important that is to you. Tell her that she often brightens your day with her humor. Or maybe her smile melts you. She will feel so special and important if you mention these things.

I know these things seem to be very simple things to think about in a relationship, but it is amazing how many guys neglect how important the words they say or not say. Building up your sweetie with compliments and kind words are lasting impressions, much more so than that same old box of chocolates. Never underestimate the value of what comes out of your mouth and your tongue. A kind compliment from you might be the most meaningful thing she will receive this Valentine’s Day. And it will not cost you anything! In fact, why not make it a point to compliment her everyday, not just Valentine’s Day?

Thoughts on Trump’s first year

Last weekend marked the one year anniversary of one of the most unlikely administrations to ever take the oath of office. Who would have ever thought that President Donald Trump would have been sworn in as our next commander-in-chief? I fully did not expect him to beat Hillary Clinton, nor did many millions of people all around the world. His victory will go down as one of the biggest political upsets ever, not only in this country, but the world. So how is he doing after one year in office? If you listen to CNN all day, you might think his presidency has been a total failure so far. It is no secret that the folks over at the Clinton News Network and many other mainstream media outlets absolutely detest the guy. They seem to have a common goal of wanting to destroy his presidency at all costs. However, many others including myself, see through all of this media bias and recognize some of his accomplishments and many that are sure to come.

If you would ask me what I think it his biggest accomplishment so far in office would be, I would not hesitate and say that it is easily the tax reform package that his administration crafted so brilliantly. New reports that many thousands of workers are receiving bonuses from their companies since this legislation has passed should come as no surprise. Cutting taxes, especially corporate taxes, has been a proven way of stimulating our economy for years. Trump fully understands this and isn’t it great to finally have a person in the White House who understands a little bit about business and how to boost our economy? I expect the economy to continue to grow in the upcoming year and Trump deserves a ton of credit.

Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement was another huge accomplishment that Trump deserves much credit for. This agreement would have been very costly for the United States and would have been another unnecessary burden on the tax payers of this country. Trump was wise enough to see that this deal was a bad deal for the United States and he had the courage to pull out.

One of the things that really helped him get elected was his stance on immigration and I have to give Trump props for the way he has handled this topic since taking office. Unlike other administrations who have failed to do anything about immigration, Trump realizes how important immigration reform is to our security as well as our economy. He is working hard to do something about it. It is only a matter of time before some type of immigration reform is in place and it is about time!

Of course, there are some negative things to mention about his first year that deserves to be mention. His failure to repeal and replace Obamacare certainly ranks right up there. Some of his endless tweets leaves a lot to be desired. I just do not know how effective it is to attack those who disagree with you on social media and call them names. I would expect the President of this country to be above that nonsense, but that is just Trump’s style and it may just hurt his image among people.

The Russian collusion story never goes away and that is certainly a thorn in this administration. I have a hard time believing that President Trump colluded with the Russians to help win the election. To me, this story is complete nonsense and a waste of time and money. However, this story serves as a huge distraction to his administration. Hopefully it will end soon.

There is no doubt that Trump has gone through a huge learning process during his first year as President. Running the country and dealing with some of those Washington lawmakers is probably much more difficult than Trump ever expected. Being the CEO of this country is much different than being the CEO of some real estate company. Especially when you have to deal with a media and many members of Congress who would like nothing than to see you fail.

Overall, I believe that Trump is doing a better than average job so far. He is on a good track to make America great again. As just an average United States citizen who is also a voter, I cannot see any huge reason why he does not deserve to a second term. I expect President Trump and his administration in this second year of his term to continue to build on some of his first year successes and make America even better.


Thoughts on the NFL playoffs and a bold Super Bowl prediction

The NFL crowned champions in both the AFC and NFC conferences last Sunday and now we are down to 2 teams playing in the Super Bowl next weekend in tropical Minneapolis. As a resident of the Twin Cities, I am thrilled to have the game in my backyard. It will be fun to watch some of the activities leading up to the big game. As far as attending the game goes, forget it! I do not have an extra 4k around to spend on a ticket! Regardless, I would like to mention some observations that I saw during the playoffs and make a prediction on the Super Bowl. Now granted, I am not one these highly paid sports writers who are probably much more knowledgeably than I am. I am just a fan with a few opinions and here are a few takes of mine on what went down during the playoffs.

1) Biggest Surprise. Prior to the playoffs starting, how many so-called experts had the Philadelphia Eagles going to the Super Bowl? The Eagles were in disarray at the end of the regular season. They lost their starting quarterback to a serious knee injury and looked terrible at the end of the regular season. Things did not even look good for them in the first half of their game against Atlanta. Suddenly, the Eagles got hot, came back to beat Atlanta and beat the Minnesota Vikings in rather surprisingly easy fashion with a back up quarterback.

2) Where is that vaunted defense? Along the lines of surprises, the collapses of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Vikings should be mentioned. If someone would have said to me that Jacksonville would have a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter of their AFC championship game against the New England Patriots, I would easily put money on them to win the game. They have one of the best defenses in the game and for them to give up two late touchdowns was rather surprising. Even more surprising was the way Nick Foles and the Eagles scored and moved the ball at will against the Vikings top rated defense.  Sometimes there is nothing a defense can do against a hot quarterback.

3) Most memorable moment. The walk-off touchdown catch by Stephan Diggs of the Vikings during the Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints game will go down as one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. It is easily the most memorable play of this year’s playoffs and that game was also the best game of the playoffs so far.

4) MVP of the playoffs. I know everyone will say that Tom Brady should be the MVP so far and I can’t disagree, but what about Nick Foles of the Eagles? I might just have to give him the nod. He has really stepped up his play during the playoffs. Will he continue his fine play during the Super Bowl remains to be seen.

5) Wait till next year. So which team that was eliminated during the playoffs have the best up side for the future? You say to yourself, wait until next year. I would have to say it would be the New Orleans Saints. A great young team on both sides of the ball with a good veteran quarterback. They will be serious Super Bowl contenders next year.

6) The Patriots last hurrah? One has to wonder how much longer Tom Brady will keep on playing, especially at his high level. How much does he have left in his tank? Is that great dynasty coming to an end? Will Bill Belichick come back to coach the Patriots next year? These are curious thoughts that I have about the Patriots.

Now for a prediction on the Super Bowl. It would not surprise me if the Eagles win. They are playing extremely well and their defensive line might give Tom Brady fits. I just cannot bet against Belechick, Brady and the Patriots. Their experience will help them win this game 27-17 and the dynasty continues.



An NFL playoff game for the ages

Throughout the course of NFL history, there have been some rather spectacular playoff games and moments that people are still talking about today. Who can forget that incredible immaculate reception during the Steelers, Oakland game in the early 70’s? Or the big catch during the Dallas, San Francisco game in the 80’s? Last year’s Super Bowl was one of the better and most dramatic post-season games that I have ever seen. And lets not forget the incredible play at the goal line during the Patriots, Seahawks classic Super Bowl in 2015. I thought I had seen it all until I sat down last Sunday and watched a playoff game that I will never forget. The Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints game will go down as one of the most dramatic playoff games ever and the ending might be the most stunning ending ever to a playoff game.

Before I go any further, let me just put out this disclaimer. I am a huge Minnesota Vikings fan so naturally, this post is easy to write about. Perhaps if they had lost, it would not be such a great game of the ages! But either way, the last quarter kept me on the edge of my seat. 4 lead changes in the last 3 minutes of the game. And then the play that everyone is talking about, the walkoff long touchdown pass. That play is now called the “Minnesota Miracle”. I have seen a few football games end on a long touchdown pass, but never with so much at stake. Prior to the pass, I was just hoping the Vikings would somehow get the ball down in field goal range. Things looked very dire for the purple at that point. The Saints had a one point lead and Vikings only had 25 seconds to work with along with a long distance to move the ball.

Whether you are a coach, player or fan, you never want to give up hope ever in a game. Perhaps the Vikings could throw a long pass downfield and get a pass interference call. A miracle was needed and it came. I will never get sick of seeing that final play. In many ways, the Vikings were extremely fortunate to win because the Saints defensive back made an epic mistake during the play. You could also question the roles of the other defenders during the play as well.

Maybe this play and win will be just the thing to erase the string of bad luck the fans and organization have had to endure for the past 50 years. Sometimes a win like that is precursor to a special moment for the team. You just know that it is your year. Regardless, as a fan, I will never forget the “Minnesota Miracle”.  Those are the moments that you just crave for as a sports fan of a particular team. That game and play will still be fresh in my mind some 20 years from now. It is just nice to be on the good side of a miraculous play for a change. An even better thing for us Vikings fans would be seeing our team win the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned. Now that one miracle has occurred, will winning the Super Bowl be another miracle in store for us?

The sad thing about this DACA situation

It has happened again! The federal government is in shutdown mode, and naturally, there is a lot of finger-pointing going around. Who is responsible for this shutdown? In my mind, the answer should be very obvious and it also shows why a certain political party needs to look in the mirror and determine who they are really representing.

A bunch of Republican lawmakers in Washington got together and produced a rather fair spending bill that would fund our military and extend a children’s health insurance program for another 6 years. Many families greatly depend on this program for their ailing children, some of whom are dealing a hard cancer fight. The military funding is a no-brainer; I would think our military personal should get the highest priority when it comes to any spending discussions. Unfortunately, this bill was not good enough for several Democrats who insisted on lumping the DACA program for children of illegal immigrants into this new spending bill as well. Never mind that this unconstitutional program created by Barack Obama still has a few months to go before a resolution is needed. The Democrats are acting like this must be done immediately, and therefore are not supporting the new spending bill. Thus the federal government is being temporary shut down. Yes, you are reading this right. The Democratic party is being exposed as to what they really stand for. They would rather adhere to the needs of people living here illegally than to our military and children with special health needs. Shame on them!!!!

There is a great deal of bi-partisan agreement that a resolution to this DACA mess needs to happen. Contrary to the beliefs of some, Republicans do not want children of illegal immigrants to suddenly get deported. That would be rather cruel. Many of these individuals have grown up in this country and are good and successful people. Some are brilliant students who could add much to our country. There has to be a way where they can apply for citizenship and have a pathway for citizenship. But having said that, why not also increase security around our borders so illegals have a tougher time entering this country? Or if they do, they will have to face tougher and swifter consequences than before. So a person who is thinking about entering this country illegally will think twice before trying to do so. Any resolution to the DACA program must, and I repeat must, include some kind of  border security reform. It is only a matter of common sense.

Sadly, many key members of the Democratic party cannot tie in stricter border security with any new DACA reform measure. For these lawmakers, anything less than having open borders is not acceptable. Of course, we all know why they are against stricter immigration reform. They want as many to come over here and become citizens because these people represent many new voters and supporters of the party. The children in the DACA program are potentially future Democratic voters.

Maybe this latest shutdown will really wake people up to the truth about what is going on with DACA. It is all about getting more voters in their party even if that means putting our military and children of people who are here LEGALLY in peril. This latest shutdown may have severe consequences for the Democrats come this November. Putting the needs of illegals ahead our military and children is just not right.

Oprah for president?

There is little doubt that Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest celebrities that this country has ever known. Her television shows were widely popular and she is generally looked upon very favorably by a vast number of people. The big question is whether that vast popularity can translate into a presidential run in 2020 against President Trump. Speculation is running wild these days that Winfrey may just enter the race. Should she enter the race and compete against Trump? Is a good idea that someone with absolutely no political experience suddenly become a leading candidate to run this country?

This latest speculation over whether Winfrey will run is just another example of a rather disturbing trend that is taking place in our country. Winfrey gives a rather emotional speech last week and people automatically qualify her as being capable of leading us. It is the same way with other popular celebrities. Someone can say something that really resonates with a number of people, and suddenly they are deemed as being a very worthy presidential candidate. Never mind the individual has no background in politics or running for office. We automatically assume based on a small sample size that someone is fit to run for office and I find that extremely disturbing. Politics is suddenly becoming some sort of popularity test rather than a test of good or bad policy decisions. If we think for a minute that a well-liked famous person should automatically be qualified to run for office, then we are only fooling ourselves.

Beneath all of that fame and fortune, what really qualifies Oprah to become our next president? I want to ask this question to all of you who thinks that she should run. First of all, would Oprah run as another hard-core liberal with huge unsustainable plans for the country? How would she deal with our ever-increasing good economy? Would she reverse what Trump is doing and greatly raise taxes on big corporations? How would she handle immigration and foreign policy? Health care? These tough questions should be grilled into any first-timer who thinks they are the people’s choice to run this country. Who knows, maybe Oprah has some great ideas and she should be considered. But I and many people have our doubts.

A few weeks ago, I had made a prediction that in 2018, the Democratic party would try to get Michelle Obama to run for the presidency in 2020. They need a popular new face to run against Trump. Perhaps I picked the wrong person. A popular black woman is the perfect candidate to run against Trump. If you disagree with her positions, then you are either a racist, against women or both. Surely this would only add more fuel to the belief that Trump is a racist.

In all likelihood, I think it is an extreme long-shot that Winfrey runs. The Democratic party will probably seek out a high-end far left-wing liberal such as an Elizabeth Warren to run against Trump. I just cannot believe that anyone such as Winfrey would want to subject themselves to that kind of torture. I often wonder the same with Donald Trump. Why would anyone with that kind of money want to run for office? Why not just retire and enjoy the rest of your life? Oprah should do the same. It is cute to speculate whether she would run or not and what type of race it would be. It would be a made for television race. But would that be good for this country? It is sad to see politics becoming such a reality show.