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How Bill Belichick and the Patriots Toppled the NFL Empire

Here we are on the other side of yet another New England Patriots victory.  Nobody can deny that Tom Brady is exceptional — probably the greatest NFL Quarterback of all time (as much as it pains me to say that).  However, the Brady and Belichick era is marred by controversy and that dims the shine of their accomplishments more than a little.  Not only does it harm the history of the Patriots, but it’s brought about the end of the NFL’s glory days.

It all started with “Spygate” back in 2007 when the Patriots were accused of filming the New York Jets.  While it’s not against league rules to film other teams, the filming can only be done in authorized areas and the Pats were caught offsides (ha).  There were huge fines and docked draft picks and it was a mess but when it was all said and done, we’d entered a new era of football.

“Deflategate” was the next big issue for the Patriots.  Under normal circumstances, I posit that some under-inflated footballs wouldn’t have been a huge issue in the NFL.  However, with that single incident of cheating by the Pats, normal circumstances went out the window.  Suddenly there was mass pandemonium involving physics, a media circus, and an intense investigation.  Again there were docked draft picks and the incredible suspension of Tom Brady.  And the NFL was tainted forever.

The Patriots keep winning.  Some of that is skill but there’s always that inkling of doubt in the back of everyone’s minds.  It leaves a sour taste in the mouth.  It’s left the NFL open to quite a bit of scrutiny, too.  If the games were more intriguing, if we weren’t guaranteed another Patriots win, would people be so interested in the inner workings of the NFL?

Since the Pats have started their indefatigable winning streak, we’ve seen the NFL attacked for other things that had previously gone overlooked.  The concussions.  The domestic abuse.  The black-listing of players fighting for social justice.  Perhaps people do care more about these issues today.  Though I deeply believe if there was more chance within the NFL standings, people would still be willing to look past some of the NFL’s indiscretions.  Thanks to the Patriot’s striking ability to win at any cost, a Pandora’s box has been opened that the NFL can never again close.

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Hating the Hate

B0017Today I was literally knocked over by all of the hate in the world.

There were two separate “religious” organizations on campus today preaching “God’s word” through hate. Hate the gays, hate the Muslims, hate those who hate our words, etc. I did not even engaged the men who were preaching yet as I walked past one shouted my way.

“You should be ashamed, foul temptress!  God hates your sinful ways!  Repent!”

All this evil because I decided to wear a low-cut shirt today.  He doesn’t know anything about me yet he judges me with one breath and in the next he professes only God can judge.

I have always believed that you can’t teach a pig to sing.  No amount of discourse will ever change my way of thinking and likewise, I will never be able to change this man’s beliefs.  Since these groups always appear on campus I’ve developed a thick skin and continue to ignore the razors they profess to be the teachings of God.

Then I walked past another group, a non-religious political action group, that wants to help the people in Ferguson.  While I admire their desire to better the community I was overcome with grief because their efforts will be in vain.  I’m a Saint Louis native.  For twenty-one year I lived and breathed the stagnant air that surrounds the politics of race in Saint Louis.  To help the people in Ferguson will take so much more than these young activists realize.

These kids have never even set foot in Ferguson, let alone the state of Missouri, so they have no concept of the racial discrimination that is so deeply rooted in that area.  It is embedded in generations and is passed down like a family heirloom to children and grandchildren.  In order to help Ferguson, they must help the surrounding area shed the segregation that has caused a divide that runs wide and deep.

I am usually fairly unflappable but today the hate spewing from so many directions, near and far, was too much.  I was suddenly so overcome with grief that I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.  I had to take a step back and think about all the good there is in the world right now.

I doubt the world will ever “make love, not war” but that doesn’t mean I have to let the negativity being me down with it.  Hate is everywhere these days and I hate it.  From now on I will make a conscious effort to dispel the hate from my own life and I will work harder at making the existence of others a more positive experience as well.

I hope you will join me.

Hometown Proud? Never Again.

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This is the kind of thing you’d expect to see in Syria or the Gaza Strip.  This isn’t Small Town, USA.  You don’t expect to see this in quiet Midwestern towns.  Granted, the suburban town of Ferguson isn’t some quiet back country road but Saint Louis isn’t the bustling metropolis it once was either.  This kind of thing shouldn’t happen here (or anywhere for that matter).

Since transplanting to Minnesota two years ago I rarely tell people where I’m from originally.  The few times I did mention my home state I heard things like:

Isn’t that the murder capital of the United States?

Oh!  That’s the one with that “legitimate rape” guy!

So I guess you’re a bible thumper then, huh?

Do you hate gays and blacks?

Obviously, Missouri has painted a wonderful picture of itself so far and this thing in Ferguson is just the icing on the cake.

Growing up I was all too aware of the racially charged views in the area.  I was exposed to it on a near daily basis whether from family, friends, friends of friends, etc.  Everyone knows it is there even when we try to politely ignore the tension.

I’d like to say that I’m surprised by the events but I’m not.  Alas, Ferguson was a pressure keg just waiting to ignite.  It could have happened anywhere in that city where racial tensions run deep.

These riots however have gone on far too long.  Should the police have shot an unarmed black teen?  Never.  However, looting, rioting, and destroying buildings was not the answer.  That does not help the cause of the African Americans in a town where those of another color are often classified as animals.  Those who are still rioting don’t even know what they are protesting anymore.  These are just young, dumb punks taking advantage of a situation that doesn’t pertain to them.  Of 74 rioters in the city last night, only 4 of them actually lived there.

It could have stopped there.  It should have stopped there.  Now, they’ve taken it too far and they can’t get it back.  Any progress that might have come from this has been obliterated.  It was a chance for Saint Louis to open doors and pave the way for better race relations.  Now, it will be decades before that will ever have a change to return.

Disgusting, Saint Louis. I will never be hometown proud after this.

Remembering Madiba

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I think the love that is being shown in memory of Nelson Mandela is incredible.

I always get concerned when I see twitter posts celebrating the 2,013th birthday of America and people are stunned to discover the Titanic was a real thing.

This time, however, I haven’t seen anyone ask who Nelson Mandela was. His name seems universal. He touched everyone young and old. People just know.

My parents heard via news texts on their phones.  Friends were watching local TV programs that were interrupted to relay the news.  I was at work when the announcement popped up on my news feed.  As the story spread like wild-fire, everyone in my office stopped what we were doing to turn into the news.  Where I was, it was as if the world stopped to collectively mourn a man we had never met but whom we all knew.

Nelson Mandela was an incredible person. He was a bright light in a dark world. Hopefully the world will continue to carry his light forward. The world will be a little less bright without him in it. Heaven however has gained its brightest star yet.

Thank you, Madiba.