Media from San Diego did not waste anytime in welcoming one of their newest players to their professional football team. Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o was drafted in last weekend’s NFL draft to the San Diego Chargers. The controversy surrounding the player has been well played up over the past few months where it was uncovered that he deceived the public to believe that he lost his girlfriend to cancer only to find out that he himself was being deceived the whole time.
When the hoax was made public a couple months ago, people had their fun and fill of imaginary girlfriend jokes and naive college boy pokes. Unfortunately for Manti Te’o, a new team and new career could mean new jokes, or a rehash of the old ones all over again.
On Tuesday, the San Diego Union-Tribute laid out the welcome wagon for Manti Te’o with a cartoon picture depicting the matter of his fake companion in an unfavorable light. The cartoon shows the football player walking alone on the beach with his arm slung out in the air, seemingly around an invisible girlfriend where he utters, “Honey, I think we’re going to love living in San Diego…” This, the latest of many attacks of isolation in regard’s to Te’o.
In January 2013, a sports blog Deadspin posted an article claiming that Te’o’s girlfriend, that died a day after his grandmother, did not exist. Te’o has since admitted that two months after the alleged death, the conspirator admitted to him that he had made the story and the girl up. He, nor the University of Notre Dame knew how to handle it until it all came to light from the Deadspin article.
Since then, Te’o has received an onslaught of criticism, and some support here and there. But there was no lack of social media meme’s that made its way around the internet. There were questions about his social skills, how it would affect his playing career and even questions about his sexuality. This, and poor performances in both, the National Championship game and the NFL Combine, caused his stock to drop in the draft. The Chargers general manager is obviously hoping that his worth on the field will transcend his personal life criticism.
Not for nothin’ but if the jokes are starting already from his own team, what is he going to expect from other teams and fans alike? Not only that, what should we expect when the season starts and he actually starts playing. He’s definitely not going to get a warm welcome from an opposing team. The hoax first reared after the final game of his college career. There was nothing else to talk about when came to Manti Te’o. It’s often said that winning cures all, but if Te’o excels on the will we see the end of these jokes?
It’s quite exciting when an NFL placekicker kicks the game winning field goal, particularly if it’s for your team. But when the kick goes the opposite way, literally, everyone always seems to want to blame one person. Probably rightfully so but when it does come down to the final seconds of the game, the kicker lines up behind ten blockers and the ball does not make it through the uprights, one name comes almost immediately to mind. Kickers aren’t the most memorable guys on the field. They don’t throw for 400 yards or make spectacular runs from scrimmage. They can barely make a tackle. Often known as the most non-athletic on the team, their job really just has them limited to just one thing. But as our American culture and our pop culture increasing become more and more linked, the lines of fantasy and reality become blurred, and when the most unrecognizable person on a football team becomes the goat at the end of the game, we’re forced to think of one person. Is Ray Finkle really the most well-known kicker of all-time?
We all know the story of Ray Finkle (yes, I am talking about that Ray Finkle). The fictional kicker of the Miami Dolphins from the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a quite popular movie of the 1990s starring comedian Jim Carey. Finkle missed a field goal in the Super Bowl which lost the game for his team. Ray Finkle was essentially the antagonist of the story, where after being vilified for years he decided to take the identity of a she and orchestrate a kidnapping of the subject of his/her anger and the alleged reasoning behind the missed field goal. The movie has left us with a couple of terms that we associate with real-life football such as “laces out” and “wide right”. Both were really harped on by Ray Finkle, or his alter-ego, Lt. Einhorn. And it being the missed field goal that was the focal point of the movie, we now almost instantly associate any kicker missing a field goal with one of those two terms or Ray Finkle himself.
This past weekend we had two high-profile NFL football games end with the losing team missing a field goal in the final seconds of play. It’s unfortunate for the teams’ kicker that the game came down to solely his responsibility on whether or not they would win or lose the game, but many games often rely on the kicker to seal the deal. Garrett Hartley and Lawrence Tynes both have experienced great highs in their careers. Both have been to and won a Super Bowl, and were quite instrumental in their team’s success in those years, but on Sunday neither were able to connect for the win. Now some of us would have to think real hard to figure out what team either of them plays for, but it’s not hard to figure out who’s famous for a missed field goal.
Not for nothin’ but we all (some of us) know the name of the kicker on our favorite football team, but you’d be hard pressed to think of a kicker on another team. At the same time, if you’re a football fan, or a fan of pop culture, you’ve probably seen the Ace Ventura movie and know the name of Ray Finkle. An infamous name in a famous movie. So if you can’t think of the name of your kicker, or any kicker for that matter, why not place the blame of a missed field goal on the name that has been taking the blame for years. Oddly enough, if Finkle is not the most well-known placekicker in history, then he has to be the reason why at least half the football watching world knows that laces matter when kicking field goals.
Millions of us around the country witnessed something quite inconceivable Monday night. The NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers came down to a final and literal toss-up catch. The ball goes up, two players from either team go up to catch it and what happens after that will go down in history. The Seahawks were down by five points and a touchdown in the final seconds of the game would have given them the win. The ruling on the field was touchdown for Seattle. They would go on to win the game. But the controversy would start immediately. What happened in the catch was when the two players went to get the ball, it looked to many people that the defensive player caught the ball for an interception but the offensive player had his hand on the ball and wrestled it away on the ground. The ruling on the field was simultaneous catch, touchdown Seahawks. But the ruling in public opinion was they got it wrong.
The scrutiny rest on the shoulders of officiating crew, who as everyone knows are not the normal referees who officiate games in the NFL, whereas the regular referees are involved in a contract dispute and have not been with the league since the start of the season. The replacement refs, are not professional referees, they have not officiated a game on the level of NFL professional football and may not be as adapted to calling a game properly. Its been one of the hot topics of discussion this year as many calls have been missed and some just called wrong. Specifically regarding the final play in Monday night’s game between the Seahawks and the Packers, there are two calls that could be up for debate. One call was when the wide-receiver Golden Tate pushed another defender in the back. While that was an obvious offensive pass interference, a flag in that scenario was not likely. But it was not an easy play to call for the referees. There’s even two referees with two different calls on the field, one signalling touchdown and another signaling no touchdown. Perhaps if the proper refs were on the field there may have been one call, the right one.
The NFL stands by their decision, that the right call was made on the field. The official rule states: “If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.” Going by that rule, that’s what the refs ruled on. Joint possession and the tie goes to the receiver. Even by the rule where all touchdowns have to be reviewed, the officials in the booth upheld the call, meaning they did not find enough evidence to overturn it. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the play again the next day with a fresh set of eyes and determined that the on-field ruling stands and released their statement Tuesday morning.
The game after the catch was technically not over, but the fiasco caused disruption and no one knew what was going on. Media interviews were being conducted in the middle of the field, players were going off in the locker rooms, referees had left the playing field. All of this when the game had to be finished. If a touchdown was the ruling on the field, then every touchdown in regulation time has to be concluded with an extra point or a conversion attempt. It took several more minutes for players to come back and the field to clear before that could happen.
In the aftermath of “the catch” we’re seeing an outcry from fans, players, coaches, analyst, and essentially everyone who saw the play. There very well could be some Seahawk fans who didn’t see the play the way the referees called it Monday night. Again, a lot of the protest is being directed to the replacement referees. Replay after replay of the final play of the game has been play thousands of times across network and cable television shows Tuesday morning. Some say it was an obvious interception by the defender M.D. Jennings. Yet there are some who see it the other way. Seattle played their best against one of the top teams in the league and when it came down to it the advantage went to them. The Green Bay Packers are saying that they should not have let the game get into that position and they should have played better to win the game where a last second touchdown wouldn’t have been applicable. But for those who have no allegiance one way or the other a blatant atrocity to the integrity of the game was made. Now all that’s left is blame and pointing fingers.
Not for nothin’ but I can deal with the two teams playing to the final minute, makes for a good game. I can take that referees called the game as the saw it, regular refs are making judgement calls too, you got to call it like you see it. And I’ll accept this even being a bad call, worst calls have been made on a larger impact scale. But my issue has to lay with the review of the play. The replay officials are not replacements. Are we being led to believe that after further review there was absolutely no way that the play on the field was the wrong call? Replacement refs have nothing to do with reviewing the play. If the NFL wants to stay with the stance that there was no interception, that Jennings did not have control of the ball when his feet were on the ground, and that some how Tate had control of the ball, then there is a fault in the system. Unfortunately there isn’t anything anyone can do about it at this point. The product of professional football that the NFL puts out is a business and a sport that millions of us pay money to watch week after week. And the sad part is that even if instances like this continue we’ll still likely to keep watching and rooting.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are “All-In”, according to their 2012 season marketing campaign. It’s not uncommon for professional sports teams to rev-up the fan base with various promotions, ticket offers and pep rallies, all the while showing off the new athletic product on the playing field. Last year the Jaguars finished with a disappointing 5 – 11 regular season record. Their season was full of upheaval and disorder. They started the season off by releasing their long time quarterback David Garrard. After a couple of bright spots, including runningback Maurice Jones-Drew leading the league in rushing, they went downhill with rookie Blaine Gabbert at the helm. The season ended with the firing of coach Jack Del Rio and the sell of the team by Wayne Weaver, long-time owner and founder of the franchise. Now a new season is here, with new leadership, and the new owner Shad Khan wants to let everyone know that he and his team are fully committed to turning things around for a positive outcome this season. The new push and the slogan for this season is seen all around the city of Jacksonville and on television and radio ads. The Jacksonville Jaguars players, coaches and owner are all “all in” and its shown in everything they do.
Marketing groups for professional sports teams normally put a push behind their product. It’s used as something to assemble the masses in an upbeat manner and prepare them for the season. In fact, the slogan “All In” is not something we haven’t heard before. It has been used by a few sports franchises, even in professional football. It has popped up a lot in our recent pop culture. In its current usage, the term “all in” probably comes from the game of poker. When playing poker, a player may express his bet as “all in” essentially wagering everything he or she has. Since the early 2000s poker has exploded, specifically no-limit Texas Hold’em. It being one of the forms of play with no limitations in pot size and betting amounts, tends to see significant action from competitors, all of whom know that at one point through the course of their game they very well may be all in, whether they like it or not. In the game, when it’s a players turn to act they can check, bet or raise. All in is a form of a bet or raise where the player puts his chips at stake, but it also sends a message that the player is willing to risk it all on the current hand. By definition it has to be a strong move full of confidence. Whether a bluff or if you really have the best hand, your end result will be in you doubling your position that you were in before or making all your opponents fold to your bet.
So what does this all in bet mean for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Well if they’re going to use the term then they should know what it means and it’s repercussions. Poker players know that putting all their chips in one bet is a risky move and very well could see them sidelined. Do the Jaguars realize that, or are they just saying “all in” to be catchy? More importantly, if you started with a little, moving all in is more of a desperation move than anything. Jaguars only won five games last year. They didn’t come anywhere near the playoffs, so yes, it would seem that they are desperate to give their fans something to cheer for this season. But if you go all in, you can only win as much as you put in. Maybe it’s that effort that the Jaguars want to covey in their message. But then again, if you’re going up against a superior opponent, one with significantly more chips than you, your all in bet only prolongs your inevitable demise.
Not for nothin’ but the Jaguars shouldn’t gamble on their season. The correlation between the two types of games football and poker are quite significant. Of course they’re both competitive in nature, but the similarities don’t have to end there. As the Jacksonville Jaguars have reminded us, the terminology between the two can be interchangeable as well. The Jaguars are taking an all or nothing attitude to this season. Just from their previous position, their all in battle cry screams more desperation than strength. Just as a poker player has to have the best hand if his all in bet is called, the Jaguars are going to have to have put out a product that’s better than everyone else’s product. No team will fold to them as they go all in. Part of the desire for any player who pushes all in is making sure you have the goods. The other part is making sure everyone folds in case you don’t. If everyone folds and no one plays, you live on to play another hand no matter what. So as a favor to themselves, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to remember that. If you push all in, you will get called, and what happens after that is left on the table…or on the field in their case. They can talk a good game, but they have to back it up too. Fortunately for them, the all-in bet does work every time, but once.
The country is abuzz about a new sports hero. The 2012 Summer Olympics has brought us a new athlete, the likes that have not been spoken of on this level and reverence in years. America’s latest champion is none other than Olympic gymnast Gabriel Douglas, or as she’s been affectionately identified in social networks, “Gabby”. Gabby Douglas is definitely the new “it” girl; having gained the national fame and notoriety that garners the most prominent celebrities in the world. As she steals the hearts of America this first week of the Summer Olympics, she is forcing our country to recognize her accomplishments as the first black person in the history of the Olympics to win the gold medal for the individual all-around in women’s gymnastics and the first American to win gold in the same Olympics in the team competition and the individual all-around. With that in tow, Gabby, or “The Flying Squirrel” if you will, is easily becoming the 2012 version of what was captured by swimmer Michael Phelps in 2008. She is vaulting her status and her sport into our society like it never has been before. But being as innocent as she seems, and realizing what she has done, does Gabby Douglas have the potential to go beyond the impact of Phelps and enter the realm of Tiger Woods status?
Tiger Woods status would put her in the crowd of the greatest and most popular athletes we have ever seen in the United States. That’s the class of Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali and Babe Ruth. The motivating story we hear from Gabby gives us the account that she never gave up and went through a lot of test in her young life to achieve her dreams. From Virginia Beach, VA to London, Gabby-fever is taking over. America is rallying behind her like no other in this Olympics. Her name is highlighted much more than her swimming counterpart Michael Phelps. Although Phelps did go down in history as the most decorated athlete in the Olympics, it looks as if he’s taking a back seat, perhaps rightfully so. We were introduced to Phelps in 2004 and in 2008 he won America over. This year will be his last Olympics and the proverbial torch is being passed. Yes its true in this Olympics Phelps also has more medals, but who has more congratulatory tweets from celebs and endorsement deals in the works?
But how far can Gabby take it? Gabby is 16 years old and, in all intents and purposes, she’s in her prime in her sport. Gymnast started out with the 20’s being their prime years, but the world eventually figured out that the smaller and lighter ones were the people who could perform the more difficult task. So, Olympic gold medalist went from 20-somethings to teenagers and in some cases tweens. This is Gabby’s first and probably her only Olympics. There have been other great gymnast who manage to revive the magical run of one Olympic games to four years later to another, but it is quite rare for a gymnast these days. When 2016 comes around, will Gabby be forgotten about? How will that affect her popularity? She may never have the chance to top Michael Phelps medal total.
Not for nothin’, but Gabby Douglas has the it factor. And whatever it is, whether it’s a phenomenon, a wave of nationalism, or just great athletics, Gabby Douglas is the reason America has to celebrate most of this Olympics. She’s inspiring a nation and rallying thousands to have a renewed interest in gymnastics. Just as Tiger Woods did with golf, we could see a new era in a sport that many have not paid much attention to. Well we are paying attention to Gabby and the world is paying attention to the United States of America because of it. All of which is making her the most talked about person in America over the past week. And being the most talked about person, far surpasses the most talked about Olympian and the most talked about athlete in general. Go Team USA. Go Team Gabby.