Monday, December 29, 2008

As the Season Ends

Another regular season in the NFL has come to an end. I, of course, have several observations.

First off, of course, the Giants. They have home field advantage and are the #1 seed. There is no one in the playoffs who the Giants cannot beat, most especially at home. They should go into the playoffs healthy and prepared. I think that they hit their low water mark against the Eagles and Cowboys (when the Giants were banged up) and played well against Carolina. True they lost to the Vikings yesterday, but it took the Vikings’ first string to defeat the Giants’ second string by one point. I am not overly concerned and am optimistic. I am, however, well aware, that they would not be the first #1 seed that is one game and out. Dallas learned that last year.

Speaking of Dallas....

The Cowboy are built like a Fantasy League All Star team. On paper, they have the most talent in the NFL. Their biggest problem is that Fantasy League All Star teams are on paper and the players do not have to play together. Football, in real life, is the consummate team sport. One All Star or even a handful of All Stars do not help you win. Quarterbacks need a solid offensive line, capable receivers, and a running back who can run enough to keep the pressure off the QB. The defensive side of the ball is much the same way. A great line with a bad secondary gets you nowhere. A great line helps a secondary a great deal; and conversely, great defenders aid in giving the line assistance by allowing blitzes. Last year the Giants won the Super Bowl with one All-pro player. One. The one thing they did have down, however, was an excellent concept of team. They were in it together, no matter what.

The Cowboys have Tony Romo. Poster boy. The next really big game he wins will be his first.

But, if I own the Cowboys and want to fix them, and have a shot as being a team, the first thing I do is cut Terrell Owens. Owens is a terrific receiver and capable of making really big plays, but he’s toxic to a team. He is disruptive in the locker room, always in front of cameras after games and motivates opponents like no other. Perhaps worst of all, however, in huddles he says the worst four words a quarterback can hear over and over again. “Throw it to me.” No matter how good the quarterback is, it is difficult to get past this and they will try and will look at that receiver first, often missing open guys. Worse is that they often attempt to force passes in when they should throw it elsewhere. The Giants had a player like this in Jeremy Shockey and when he got hurt, Manning got better. A lot better. Additionally, Jerry Jones ought to hire a football professional as his GM and get out of there.

Of course, actually, they should keep TO and Jerry should stay involved. It’s certainly better for the other teams in the NFC East...

It’s good that San Diego won the division. After Ed Hochuli hosed them earlier in the season against the Broncos, this was a just win. It is sad, however, that an 8-8 division winner is in the playoffs and the Patriots were 11-5 and didn’t make the playoffs. And Arizona is 9-7 and won their division. Oh, and the Colts are 12-4 and the Chargers have home field advantage against them. Weird.

The Jets bet the farm that Brett still had it in him. They forget that older players tend to fade later in the season. Also, Chad Pennington was NOT going to lose this game. After being unceremoniously dumped he had something to prove. And he did. This cost Mangini his job. Mangini demonstrated in his career with the Jets that he was far better at whining than winning...

The sad thing is that they will blame all of this on Brett Favre. Too much rested on him and no player can do it all.

The Falcons and the Dolphins deserve a lot of accolades. These are two, classy organizations that got the short end of the stick with coaches and some players. They came out on top this year and did it well.

It was good to see Michael Bush of U of L have a breakout game in Oakland. Oakland made a smart pick with him and had the patience to let him heal. They actually have some talent. They need a good coach and for Al Davis to stay out of things.

I always love how people say how bad Donovan McNabb is and then he comes back and is brilliant. He has always been really good. This is a team that never runs and hasn’t had a solid power runner and hasn’t had very good receivers for a long time. Yet, everyone wanted to blame McNabb. Then pinheads, one in particular decided to RUSH in and decree him to be over-rated. Give the guy the right players and he’ll kill you. Unfortunately the Eagles seem to finally have receivers...

Lovie Smith seems to be in the Brian Billick school of coaching. You don’t need a top flight quarterback... They both made it to the Super Bowl one time and then....

Did the Cowboys fold against the Eagles or what? Oh yeah, high priced talent, Roy Williams and the ever brilliant Adam Pacman Jones....

And lastly, the Lions. I’d make no one untouchable and make some trades to get some higher caliber players in. Besides that, if you spread some of the current people around the league you’ll make other teams worse!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mike Lupica's Column on Dick Cheney

My favorite sports writer is Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. I grew up reading the Daily News and I read it every day online. Considering that I am a lover of New York sports teams (have I mentioned anything about the Giants???), I read the sports section regularly and I like Lupica the best.

This article appears in today's (December 22, 2008) Daily News and Lupica is reflecting on Dick Cheney. There aren't many columns by Lupica written that are not about sports, but this one is worth sharing:
Mike Lupica

I'll be thrilled to see you go, Dick Cheney

Monday, December 22nd 2008, 3:33 AM

Pellaschiar/AP

U. S. Vice President Dick Cheney is saying goodbye, not a moment too soon for his many detractors.

At least Dick Cheney, as wrong a guy as we've ever had this close to the presidency, goes out in character, thinking that he and George W. Bush were right about everything. The problem is that Cheney's character now sounds as weird and unhinged as Jack Nicholson's in "A Few Good Men."

There was Cheney on the Fox television network Sunday, always more a home to him than Yankee Stadium is to Derek Jeter, defending the last days of a dying administration and a dying Republican empire, defending Bush and Iraq and Donald Rumsfeld, defending Guantanamo and torture and surveillance and all the rest of it.

Cheney never got around to defending Scooter Libby, the felon who was once his chief of staff, but maybe that was because he ran out of time.

He did go after Joe Biden big Sunday, because Biden said during the campaign that Cheney was the most dangerous vice president the country has ever had.

"If [Biden] wants to diminish the office of vice president, that's obviously his call," Cheney said to Chris Wallace.

No, Cheney is the one who diminished that office. He goes now, and not a moment too soon. When Wallace asked him Sunday about polls showing the approval rating for this administration at 29%, Cheney shrugged and said, "Eventually you wear out your welcome in this business."

He made it sound as if that was something that happened just the other day. The truth is, Cheney wore out his welcome a long time ago the way this President did, long before the economy tanked, because of a war in Iraq that he wanted more than anybody.

But then Cheney, whose five deferments during the Vietnam War were an all-time world record for a major American politician, has always loved any war that he didn't actually have to fight himself.

Dick Cheney also had this to say about Joe Biden Sunday:

"I think that President-elect Obama will decide what he wants in a vice president. And apparently, from the way they're talking about it, he does not expect him to have as consequential a role as I've had during my time."

He sure did have a consequential role under Bush, had the kind of influence no vice president has had in many decades. It is one reason the world is a more dangerous place now than it was nearly eight years ago, no matter how much he and George W. Bush take bows for everything they've done since Sept. 11. As if it has been the two of them on that mythical wall that Nicholson kept yelling at Tom Cruise about in the movies, the one Nicholson said we desperately needed him to defend.

Yesterday Chris Wallace said to Cheney, "If the President during war decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?"

"General proposition, I'd say yes," Cheney said.

And Nixon told David Frost, quite prominently, that when the President does something, it's not illegal. From the beginning with Cheney, even more than with Bush, the law was whatever he said it was.

He goes out the door as stubborn and defiant and out of touch as ever, talking about the way he defended and protected the Constitution. Talking now because soon nobody will care what he says. Saying that history will be so much kinder to him and Bush than their current critics. It can only mean Cheney believes history is dumber than Donald Rumsfeld's postoccupation strategy in Iraq.

What history will determine, more accurately, is that Cheney - who came to his position from a company called Halliburton, the home office for war profiteering - tried to hijack the Constitution, with the war in Iraq and just about everything else.

"I was a Rumsfeld man," he said on Fox on Sunday, talking about the secretary of defense eventually fired by George Bush two years ago.

Of course he was a Rumsfeld man. They were going to take out Saddam Hussein and be "greeted as liberators," as Cheney said, "in the streets of Baghdad." They were going to finish the job that Cheney felt George W. Bush's father, Bush 41, didn't finish in the first Gulf War. Bush 41, an actual war hero of this country, clearly wasn't tough enough for Dick Cheney, who would have said or done anything to start a war with Iraq.

But there were never weapons of mass destruction, and Cheney didn't know or didn't care or both. Now more than 4,000 men and women from our armed forces are dead, and the number of wounded and maimed is beyond imagination. And on his way out the door, having diminished his office and this country's standing around the world, Cheney is still going to tell you all about it.

This was more his war than his President's, more than Rumsfeld's. He seemed willing to say anything to justify it. Scooter Libby was willing to do even more than that. It is why Libby ended up getting himself convicted of lying and obstruction of justice for his role in the Valerie Plame case, forcing Bush to grant Libby executive clemency and commute his sentence.

But it is Cheney, Libby's old boss, who seems unable to tell the truth about the last eight years in America. It is why the movie to talk about with him really isn't "A Few Good Men." It is "Dr. Strangelove."

The Earth Shook and the Wind Blew!

The Giants running backs are known as Earth, Wind, and Fire. Last week the Giants were without Brandon Jacobs, aka, Earth.

Jacobs us 6'4 and 265 pounds which is roughly the size of a defensive end. Jacobs actually has good speed and good moves, but his hallmark is running at people and running over them. He batters an opposing defense.

Derick Ward is Wind. He's not as big and has great moves and has a lot of speed.

The Giants, after playing puny for two weeks came back to life against Carolina in the biggest game of the season. The Earth shook and the Wind blew for over 300 rushing yards against the NFL's hottest team.

Now, the Giants are the NFC #1 seed. They were the #5 seed last year and all the playoff games were on the road. Now all their games will be in the Meadowlands.

And one thing for sure. Winning the Super Bowl last year. Remember, the fluke?

It wasn't.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Great Lesson of Christmas


The Puritans did not really celebrate Christmas. It is not that they didn’t believe in the birth of Jesus or that they wanted to eliminate the infancy narratives from the Bible, but they did believe that a huge celebration of Christmas was paramount to missing the point about the coming of the Messiah.

Much of our celebration of Christmas comes from Germany. Gathering around a Christmas tree and singing carols comes from beloved German traditions that have become a part of our lives. Christmas is not just for Germans any longer.

A friend of mine once went to Japan and he said that in Tokyo they celebrated Christmas in a huge way. Christianity has never really been accepted in large sectors of Japan and the influence of Christ on that country is minimal. However, the influence of Santa Claus is huge and so they celebrate the “Santa Claus Christmas.”

In all reality there are two Christmas celebrations. One is about the birth of Jesus and the other is the coming of Santa. They run concurrently and we celebrate both, something as one, but, in many ways, separate. Often we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve and Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

In the Gospels the birth of Jesus is not as huge an event as often perceived. In the four Gospels, Jesus’ birth is only mentioned in two, Matthew and Luke. And, if you read the two Gospels you’ll find remarkably different stories.

In Matthew and angel tells Joseph, in a dream, what is going to take place in Mary’s body. In Luke the angel comes and tells Mary and mentions nothing to Joseph.

In Luke there is no room at the Inn. In Matthew Jesus is born at home in Bethlehem.

There are shepherds in Luke; wise men in Matthew.

John the Baptism is Jesus’ cousin in Luke but Luke has no star. Matthew has a star, but there is no mention of John the Baptist being related to Jesus.

There really are only two things the stories have in common. They have common parentage with Mary being a virgin and God being the Father; and the birth takes place in Bethlehem. We generally meld the two narratives together to develop the beloved story, often missing the fact that the story is less about grandiosity and awe, and more about the humble and anonymous birth of the Messiah.

The people had prayed for a Savior and God heard their prayers. And while looking to the Heavens waiting for the Messiah to show up on a cloud surrounded by singing angels, the Messiah was born in an occupied land to a peasant couple with no fanfare and little notice to anyone.

At the time people who knew how God was sending the Messiah. They were all wrong. God moved as God chose to move and people missed it.

I am constantly reminded, at Christmas, never to presume I know all that much about God and what God wants and how God is going to move. I hear a lot of people who know all of this, who know God, who know what God wants, and who will tell everyone they know how God is going to move.

But I am reminded that on the most important issue of all, the coming of the Messiah, the people who knew were all wrong. The only people who truly ‘got it’ were a peasant couple no one had ever heard of. And such is the great lesson of Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren and Barack Obama

Rick Warren is giving the Invocation at the Inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

Good idea?

Bad idea?

Obama's point is admirable. He is deliberately choosing a person with whom his disagrees on some significant issues. It is showing an amazing amount of tolerance on the part of Obama.

It is interesting to note that on the same day that Obama chose a man who was one of the leaders in California in overturning a gay rights law, Obama made his strongest statement ever on his affirmation of gay rights. It was, in fact, the strongest statement ever by an American President.

I really don't know the answer. On one hand, Warren is a fundamentalist and a Calvinist. I could not disagree with him more on his theological positions. Many, if not most of his social positions are very much in line with the Religious Right. On the other hand, Warren has shown greater concern for poverty and climate issues than many from this perspective. He has also been significantly more respectful of people who have differing opinions of him. One commentator opposing him referred to him as Jerry Falwell in a Hawaiian shirt. My sense of Falwell is that he used Christianity as a defense for his own bigotry; and I don't see this about Warren.

Conversely, Obama has been spiritually nurtured by the Religious Left. a perspective that is largely unknown and ignored by the mainstream media. It might have been an amazing thing to have chosen someone from this perspective.

Or, from a purely political perspective, Obama choosing a young face in the Religious Right might mean that he is seeking votes from that portion of the population many of whom are disenchanted by much of the hate and the bigotry that was often promulgated by the likes of Jerry Falwell. It just might be a shrewd move on his part. Or a cynical move. Who knows.

The one thing I do wonder about is this. Obama seems to be demonstrating a great deal of generosity towards a person and a perspective with which he doesn't agree. I wonder if that generosity would be or will be reciprocated.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Amazing

I find it amazing.

Some fool in Iraq takes his shoes off and throws them at President Bush. The President ducks and the first one misses him demonstrating quick reflexes. The second one he sees coming and dodges it. In postmortems the President pretty laughed the event off.

But then the amazing stuff happened. All the networks had 'special analysts' on to explain what happened. The analysis went like this. If a person takes his or her shoes off their feet, and throws those shoes at a person speaking in front of the group, that demonstrates disrespect on the part of the shoe thrower and a contempt for the potential receiver of the flying shoe.

So, in the Middle East, if you take a shoe off and throw it at someone, it is an act of disrespect and contempt.

As opposed to the United State where, when you take a shoe off and throw it at someone, it is an act of, what, respect and high regard?

At the Party Conventions this past summer not one speaker for either party was given the respect of having shoes thrown at them. Either this demonstrates a complete lack of regard for the speakers or, in the United States, if you take a shoe off and throw it at someone, it is an act of disrespect and contempt. Which, of course, it obviously is.

I am not an expert on all things cultural but if someone had called me up and asked me what the thrower was trying to express to the President, I would have at least guessed on the disrespect angle. Duh.

I guess that there isn't too much else in the news.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Random Observations

Say what you will about George W. Bush. He had great reflexes. When the guy threw the shoes at him he ducked at just the right time. The second throw was not a big deal because he was prepared. But Bush did a great job not getting hit on the first go around.

Speaking of President Bush....is it my imagination is it he and the Democrats working together in opposition to the Republicans in Congress? It is ironic because he generally offered no compromises with the Democrats before and now seems in love with their ideas.

Rod Blagojevich is not going to have a happy Christmas season. Where does one begin with him? Does one observe that we ought never elect a person with a name no one can pronounce? Do we not vote for people who use Miracle Grow as a hair treatment? It sounds like virtually everyone knew he was corrupt and remained silent. No one, however, seems to be passing an opportunity to toss him over the side of the ship. Sad thing is that this fool totally deserves it. What a sleaze! The best thing he did for Obama was to call Obama a word the speaks of maternal incest. What a sleaze! At this level of sleaziness and dishonesty and maggotry about the only thing left would be to be a host on talk radio.

In watching the football game last night, it struck me that the next time Tony Romo goes to Cabo for a romantic getaway, he should take John Madden instead of Jessica Simpson. Madden just couldn't stop speaking about how wonderful Romo is. The man sounds absolutely smitten!

Part of the difficulty of the McCain/Palin campaign was an utter cluelessness about technology. There were tons of Blackberries handed out with contact information, private e-mails, phone numbers, cell phone numbers, and many e-mails on them. The campaign decided to sell these off for $20.00 a piece which is really, really cheap so they got rid of them all very quickly. BUT, they had the mistaken notion that if you let the battery run down, all the data would vanish. They know nothing about flash memory and so all these Blackberries hit the market with contact information, private e-mails, phone numbers, cell phone numbers, and private e-mails on them. They didn't realize that they had to erase the data. My ability to be dazzled and amazed is, again, stretched...

Caroline Kennedy looks like she's really interested in New York's Senate seat. One pol in New York warbled on about how unprepared she is. I guess the fact that she's one of the country's leading Constitutional scholars is not a big deal...

Sarah Palin's turkey slaughter turkey got a lot of money on E-bay. In watching that scene, I keep having to remind myself, this is not Tina Fey, this is not Tina Fey, this is not Tina Fey....

People always weep this time of year for college students. Papers are due and exams are there to be taken. Been there, done that. There is a group, however, who truly do deserve our sympathy. We ought to really pity the professors who must sit and read the masterpieces their students have written. I've actually taught some classes on a college level and was amazed to discover that many students and the English language are not on speaking (or at least) writing terms...

Monday Morning NFL Musings

Only two games left in the regular season.

My Giants are not looking good. In the last two games their offense has been downright offensive. They have only scored one touchdown and it was a garbage touchdown at the end of the Eagles game. Last night against Dallas the offensive line of the Giants did mostly LOOK OUT! blocking for Eli and the performance was abysmal. They have injuries and people out and an offensive game plan that is still including what they do not have. This is a bad time for them to have gone so completely flat.

Interesting note about last night's game, however. It was a critical game for Dallas, not so much for the Giants. The Giants are playing for a bye week and which seed they will be. NEXT week, win or lose last night, is the really critical game. They are in trouble, however, as they are flat, flat, flat and Carolina is torrid. The Giants end the season against an excellent Panthers team and the Vikings who have an amazing hex on Eli Manning. The Giants may have already won their last game this year. We'll see what happens next week.

The Falcons seem to be the real deal. Talk about a turnaround. Oh, and the Redskins are obviously pretenders. I'll give the Bengals credit; they may be a lousy team but they've played the NFC East teams tough. As for the Bengals, I would update my resume if I was Marvin Lewis. The Bengals should hire Steve Kragthorpe. He will enable them to maintain their misery and help alleviate the misery at U of L...

Some really bad officiating this year. At the Seattle/St. Louis game an official used the Jumbo tron to call a penalty. Terry Holt has called him out on it. Holt will get fined for telling the truth. So will the Ravens Head Coach who had a call reversed giving the Steelers a touchdown when, it was painfully obvious the plane had not been broken. When games turn on the calls of officials instead of the play on the field, that is wrong.

It's hard to believe that the Packers were in last year's NFC Championship game and that the Falcons and Dolphins were so woeful. I really like the Packers and they are an amazing organization. I suspect that a lot of blame will go on Aaron Rodgers but he is a young quarterback and it is a tough league. The reality for the Packers, however, is a porous defense. Defense wins championships.

The team I really felt bad for yesterday were the Chiefs. The game just slipped away. What a painful way to lose.

Detroit obviously has some good players. The Colts offense was way too much for them, but the Lions can get a whole lot better with some new players coming in. The sad thing about them is that they are a team loaded with high draft picks!

Who are the best teams right now?

In the NFC I think that the Panthers are the team to beat. They are solid and they are hot at the right time.

In the AFC I'm probably wrong, but I have some thoughts. I am not a big believer in the Titans. I've seen Kerry Collins close up and he does not come up big in big games. Collins is one of those guys who, when he is good, is very, very good, and when he is bad, he is awful. I don't believe he will take the Titans to the Super Bowl and, least of all, win it.

I'm also not that enthused about the Steelers. Frankly, I am not a big believer in Big Ben. He can get careless and he doesn't have the team he had a few years ago when they really didn't need him to play big in the Super Bowl.

In the AFC, I'd put my chips on the Colts. They are playing well at the right time and I think that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. And, yes, even is Brady was healthy, I'd choose Manning over him in a heartbeat. And Manning can come up big when he needs to.

It would be great to see a Manning bowl this year but I doubt it's going to happen unless the Giants rediscover their talent.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Colin Powell's Comments

Colin Powell made a recent observation that he believed that Sarah Palin is a person who is one of the more polarizing figures on the political stage and exemplifies the growing polarization of and in the Republican Party. Interesting to note, in recent polling data, her approval rating across the nation is in the 30's and amongst the Republican base is in the 70's.

She is, it appears, part of the contingent of the party that sees itself as more ideological that pragmatic. Solutions are found by sticking to an ideology and if the ideology doesn’t work, stick with it anyway, because it will some day. People who listen to Rush Limbaugh here this kind of rhetoric all the time. It’s always fun to note that these theories are labeled as principles whether they prove to work or not.

It is interesting to see the demographics of the last election. Cities and college towns voted overwhelming for Obama. Small rural areas voted overwhelming for McCain. Sarah Palin played into this by intimating that real American values come from small towns and the rural areas. For people who grew up in large cities or major metropolitan areas, her words were and are personally insulting. Colin Powell said that he was raised in the South Bronx and there is nothing wrong with his values. Indeed, many people who are good, upstanding citizens, were raised in cities and major metro areas.

Part of the problem is that what built the nation is often misconstrued. Throughout the campaign the Republican candidates repeatedly said that the United States was built on small businesses. In small towns and rural areas that is certainly true. However, in large cities and major metropolitan areas, the United States was built on manufacturing. It was the large factories that employed people and the mass production of products that changed the course of American life.

Before World War II people marveled at American production and we were seen as people who loved to manufacture fun things for ourselves. Hermann Goering noted that the United States would never be a manufacturing threat because we were too busy building cars and making razor blades. Pearl Harbor and our entry into the war demonstrated that our manufacturing ability could turn on a dime. We built tanks and planes in such a quantity that we fought two wars at the same time, and won both, decisively.

Unlike Karl Rove who sought a permanent Republican majority I see the nation through a different lens. I see a nation that needs at least two, probably more political parties. If for nothing else, having opposition keeps one honest. The old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is certainly true. No one party should have all branches of the government for very long-----unless they do a magnificent job------and we haven’t seen that as of yet.

For the Republicans, it is time to get back into the game. Colin Powell is right. Sara Palin and people like her are polarizing and will never reach people in the cities and major metro areas. I guess I’d decree her fifteen minutes of fame to be over, and find someone a lot smarter, a lot better educated, and a lot more pragmatic than her to be in a leadership position.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Random Observations

I am not sure about how I feel about 'bailing out' the automobile industry. If any group deserves to go down in flames, they do. This is most especially true of GM. On the other hand, the collapse of the automobile manufacturing industry impacts such wide swaths of the country and of the economy. What is interesting to note is that the Washington crew was delighted to wine, dine, and pay the bankers, but they bristled at the big three----who represent some of the last vestiges of American industry. People like to say that the nation was build on small businesses whereas it's probably really built on factories. Or it was. It is ironic to note that as factories have collapsed, so has the American economy.

Cal Thomas wrote a column speaking about pessimism in America and how people need to have hope. I guess he missed the crowds on election night who seemed to be delighted and celebrating hope. I guess when your guy loses pessimism sets in. I guess Cal needs to get out more.

OJ Simpson will probably spend a lot of years in jail. I do hope that people are able to get over the sadness of this....

I have a sense that George W. Bush is not going to miss being the President very much. I can't blame him.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Real Life and Pro Sports


Plaxico Burress is the wide receiver on the New York Giants who caught the winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. In the NFC Conference championship game, he torched the Packer’s defense in a way they had not been abused all season. Burress is an incredibly talented player and was, up to this year, a major star for the New York Giants. Last year he played in great pain and people often reflected on his courage to play through pain.

This year has been a different story. He signed a huge contract and played a great first game of the season and other than that, was not a huge factor in the Giants’ success this season. Personal issues and, frankly, stupidity on his part, led him to a suspension and he was also injured again. He was becoming a distraction on a very solid team that increasingly looked like didn’t need him very much.

On Friday night, wearing a lot of ‘bling’ and carrying wads of cash, Burress showed off a gun he had in his pocket to protect him from criminals. During the course of the evening, he was fumbling with the weapon and it fired and the bullet went through his thigh. The good news is that it was essentially a flesh wound that left little damage and will be fine. The bad news is that carrying that gun in New York City was a felony that has a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 ½ years.

It is looking like his next games might be in the penal league with Michael Vick throwing passes to him. The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg weighed in and suggested that if Burress is not prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, it would be a travesty. When the judge imposed bail of $100,000.00 it signaled that the New York criminal justice system is not playing games with Burress. Burress could easily afford bond, but the amount of the bond is steep.

In recent years we have seen several professional athletes caught up in major legal problems and even jail time. A tragic issue with this is that as they face the criminal justice system and even jail time, they have a ‘deer in the headlights’ look of bewilderment.

The problem? Often the star players in high school get very special, some would say, pampered treatment. People often identify with the high school teams and they want their teams to do well. Often teachers and administrators are willing to overlook some things to accommodate these great athletes.

In college these young folks are often given major scholarship money and the best accommodations on campus so they can play on the school team. Again, many colleges use sports to help define who they are. And, again, often things are overlooked with the star athletes that might not be overlooked with other students.

If you have ever watched some of the pro players in the NFL or the NBA being interviewed and they sound like they are barely literate, it is chilling to note that they have high school diplomas and four years of college. Many or most of them do not have degrees from the colleges, only trophies from their triumphs on the field of play. It should be noted, however, that Penn State football players have a very high percentage of graduates. Whatever one thinks of Joe Paterno, he has high expectations of his players in their conduct and their academic performance. Sadly, very few see him as a role model for a college coach, whereas he ought to be.

Then they become pros. The professional sports leagues offer big, big money. Many of these players can barely read and they are making an annual salary higher than their local high school’s annual budget. They have big money, and buy big houses, and fast cars, and live life in the fast line. All the while there is the expectation that they are protected because they are the team’s star player.

And then they rape a woman.

Or they sponsor dog fights.

Or they kill or attack someone.

Or they shoot themselves in the leg with an illegal gun.

Or they get drunk and drive.

The list is endless. And suddenly they find themselves arrested by police officers who are unwilling to overlook something because this perpetrator is a star.

They come before judges who see them first as the defendant that they are, and less as a player on a team.

They are placed before juries of people who are working hard for a lot less money and who obey the law.

Plaxico Burress is in big trouble. He carried a loaded gun in a city where carrying a loaded gun is a felony. He is facing a mandatory sentence of at least 3 ½ years. His only hope is that he is able to make some sort of plea agreement where he gets less time. It is hard to imagine, probably impossible, for him not to spend time in prison.

The NFL, of late, has recognized that they have a problem on their hands with players running amuck and breaking the law. The NFL has taken this seriously and lots of players have been suspended for significant period of time costing them major money. Many teams have been unwilling to sign such players.

The Giants are, like they always have been, a family-owned team by families with fine reputations. Tom Coughlin and his high expectations of players and their conduct is a reflection of a franchise that has been around a long time. The Giants have proven themselves to be more than willing to remove players on their roster who have become distractions.

When pampered people get away with a lot and they confront a society that is less tolerant than their school or teams, they have that deer in the headlights look of horror. How can they be doing this to me?

Perhaps this is a statement or a reminder that pampering people or loosening the rules for star players do little good for the schools, and ultimately does very little good for the players. Real life is out there waiting for everyone; even the star of the team.