Tag Archives: Sports

Eulogy for Ermey and Earle

Last week we lost two legends from different worlds, but each helped shape young men and provided the rest of us with entertainment. R. Lee Ermey was a Marine drill instructor turned actor who was most famous for playing drill instructors. Earle Bruce was college football coach who made his mark at his alma mater and was inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame.

Ronald Lee Ermey was born in Emporia, Kansas on March, 24, 1944.  A bit of a troublemaker as a child, Ermey was arrested at 17 and offered the choice to join the military or join the jail. He opted for the Marines and found his footing, eventually becoming a drill instructor. He served in Vietnam for 14 months before being medically discharged for injuries he received during that time.

Ermey began his movie career as an advisor on Apocalypse Now, but Coppola appreciated his expertise to be front of the camera too, and put him in a helicopter as a pilot (Ermey originally worked with aviation in the Marine Corps). His breakout role was as Gunnery Sargeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, still his most famous role, and one that established Ermey as the epitome of drill instructor in any media. This was not Ermey’s first time playing a DI, as his first significant role in The Boys in Company C.

Ermey would go on to play numerous military men in all facets of entertainment, including cartoons and games, but he occasionally stepped outside of his frequent typecasting, such as in one of my favorite roles of his as Coach Norton in Saving Silverman. His advice in that movie may not be the best to follow, but damn it, it’s funny.

Ermey also starred on television, with a pair of shows on the History Channel back when it was good, Mail Call and Lock n’ Load. Enjoy this compilation of some of his greatest (and goofiest) moments as well as his immortal role as essentially himself:


Earle Bruce was born in Cumberland, Maryland on March 8, 1931. He attended The Ohio State University and looked to play fullback for the Buckeyes. However, just as he was preparing to suit up in 1951, a torn meniscus brought an abrupt end to playing days. Instead of letting Bruce leave the game he loved, the Buckeyes’ first year head coach, a man named Wayne Woodrow Hayes, asked Bruce to stay on the team as a coaching assistant. Woody Hayes went on to become the most legendary coach in Ohio State history and one of the most legendary in football history. After his frustrated punch at an opposing player forced the school to terminate him in 1978. It was apparent that following Hayes would be an enormous task, but who better to rise to the occasion than then-Iowa State coach, Earle Bruce. Bruce was ready to helm the Buckeyes after success with the Cyclones, and the University of Tampa, as well as a magnificent stint at Massillon High School where Bruce remains the only undefeated head football coach – at the school Paul Brown made a power! Paul Brown!

As head coach of his former team, Bruce posted a terrific 81-26-1 record and won four Big Ten Championships. Most importantly, he was 5-4-1 against Bo Schembechler’s Michigan Wolverines, an even better record than his predecessor and mentor, Woody Hayes. Famously, or more accurately infamously, Bruce’s 1987 Buckeyes team faltered compared to his others which all won at fewest nine games. Nevertheless, in the 1987, the Buckeyes’ star receiver and future NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter was kicked off the team due to improperly signing with an agent . The loss of this all star was felt severely and Ohio State went into the final week of the season against rival Michigan with a measly 4-4-1 record. Out of character for a successful coach after one lackluster season, the board pressured Ohio State’s athletic director, Rick Bay, to fire Bruce. Bruce was never truly loved by some of the top dogs on campus, but in a place where Woody Hayes was God, no one, not even the university president, got to make a move on the football team with out Woody’s okay. Unfortunately for Bruce and Buckeye fans everywhere, Woody Hayes died in March of 1987. Without his great backer and protector, Bruce was again on the chopping block, and with the Carter scandal and a mediocre record, the people in power got there chance to push him out. Despite this, athletic director Bay resigned rather than fire Bruce, so the Buckeyes lost the biggest names in their sports programs in succession the week of the Ohio State-Michigan game.

Earle Bruce may have been down and almost out, but he had coached under Woody, and had made his own name as his successful successor, so he had one more game in him as the OSU coach. He was permitted to stay to finish the season, and finish he did, leading the Buckeyes into Ann Arbor to post a second half surge and beat Bo’s Wolverines one more time, 23-20. Each player on Ohio State’s sideline wore headbands that read “Earle” to honor their coach, whom they loved.

Bruce served as a mentor to many of the best players in his day, as well as to many of the top coaches of current football, including Nick Saban, Mark Dantonio, and Pete Carroll. Current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer first served as a graduate coach on Bruce’s Buckeye staff and cites him as the biggest influence in his life besides his own father. Meyer remained close to Bruce until his death from Alzheimer’s last Friday.

Earle Bruce was beloved by many, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003, yet he received a greater honor in 2016 when he joined the elite short list of people who have been invited to dot the “I” in the Ohio State Marching Band’s famous Script Ohio.

Thanks for reading and watching! Feel free to send me any comments, queries, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to return here next week for the State of the Season.

Until next week,

Alex

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This is Madness! This Is MARCH!!!

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, so they say (at least Stanley Kramer), and this is just the month for it because the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is just the occasion to manufacture such madness. As I’ve stated before, each year, my friends and I like to not only compete against each other in the most entertaining annual guessing game we all get tired of after the first week when our brackets are #rekt, but we also like to throw a wild card into the mix that might just cut the brakes and jump out the back of a moving van filled with gasoline: we make a mascot bracket!

The gist of a mascot bracket is simple. You take a look at the matchups on the bracket, but instead of weighing the merits of each team by whatever degree of whatever metrics you choose, you weigh how hilarious each team’s mascot looks and advance the funniest, goofiest, strangest, or most awesome anthropomorphic assemblage of fur, feathers, and funky clothing until you have crowned a champion. Today, I’ll be walking you all through this year’s bracket to see who is the best (in my eyes – don’t like it? Make your own blog!). Ready? No? Too bad! Here we go!

I will include links to my favorite picture of each mascot in their school’s name. Bear in mind that each mascot’s full history is in play. All right! Let’s start in the top-left corner on most brackets that is the South region.

Round of 64

South

Virginia Cavaliers vs. University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers – The Retrievers had a great American East tourney run to clinch a spot in the big dance, but none of that matters in the mascot bracket, where the muscular, mustached Zorro-like Cavalier of UVA gets the edge over the grimacing Labrador.

Cavaliers

Creighton Blue Jays vs. Kansas State Wildcats – There are a lot of Wildcats in college athletics, but none as scary as the KSU cat. As much as I like the more happy faced Jay, I cannot deny the incredible guitar playing by Willie the Wildcat in the GIF I found. I never said the pictures had to be static, after all.

Wildcats

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Davidson Wildcats – Proving my point immediately about the number of Wildcats in college sports, this catty matchup features more wild takes on the wildcat, but even with Kentucky making a more loveably dopey version to join their freakish historic hellcat, they have a looooong way to go to get on Davidson’s level of derp cat.

Davidson Wildcats

Arizona Wildcats vs. Buffalo Bulls – Jesus Christ that’s a lot of cats! The emphasis here though is on the competing couples, and as much as I love the horrible hair on the lady Bull, the floppy hat-adorned, angry hick looking tomcat practically wins this one on his own.

Wildcats

Miami Hurricanes vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers – Like other Loyola Universities, the Ramblers of Chicago have a wolf as their mascot thanks to the coat of arms of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Some may see my selecting them in this matchup as favoring Jesuit schools as I attended such educational institutions for half of my academic career, but I am more picking them because the angry ibis of Miami is scary.

Ramblers

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Wright State Raiders – Wright State is the first of many teams from my native Ohio in this year’s tournament, and I like what they bring to the table. I don’t know how good their basketball team it, but damn their mascot game is strong. Currently they are represented by a wolf, but in the past the Rowdy Raider, a wide-eyed Viking has led the charge into games. I LOVE the Rowdy Raider. In every picture I’ve seen him in, he always is looking away from the camera at a distant wall or ceiling as if he’s contemplating the serious shit he’s seen. Perhaps that’s why he was replaced by the more focused wolf. Either way, Rowdy’s the mascot I’m looking to here, and Tennessee’s Smokey is almost certainly the first of many to fall before this Viking’s vacant gaze.

Raiders

Nevada Wolfpack vs. Texas Longhorns – It’s a family affair for the Wolfpack against Bevo, and why wouldn’t it be? Like they always say, the family that mascots together, advances together. Okay, so nobody’s ever said that until now, but it applies here.

Wolfpack

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Georgia State Panthers – Panthers, so hot right now! Regardless, the GSU Panther is a little too Kansas State for my liking, and Cincinnati gets props for having the criminally lesser-represented binturong, more commonly called a bearcat, as their mascot, even if theirs has awful taste in shorts.

Bearcats


West

Xavier Musketeers vs. North Carolina Central Eagles/Texas Southern Tigers – Okay, for these games we need to first tackle the First Four teams’ mascots to get to the matchup in the Round of 64. In this case we have an Eagle who is experienced at taking on Tigers, but I give it to Texas Southern’s Tigers for actually having two tigers. Good on you Texans for actually having multiple tigers when the word is plural!

However, the victory is short lived when you take on the musketeers who have the special edition Blue Blob pop up against rival Cincinnati.

Musketeers

Missouri Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles – Truman the Tiger might be the saddest mascot I’ve ever laid eyes upon, but that only works in his favor.

Tigers

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits – A strong match in the opening round! I do my best to check my bias at the door, but there is an Ohio State rug outside of it. Regardless, that old, sad looking nut gets the advantage over the floppy-eared rabbit, who honestly, isn’t even the best mascot in his state. That honor goes to Charlie Coyote at South Dakota. Look at him show up Jack here.

Buckeyes

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans – There are about as many bulldogs in college sports as there are wildcats, but the especially wrinkly bulldog of Gonzaga stands out among them and bests the freaky-faced Spartan of UNCG.

Bulldogs

Houston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs – The Cougar is not overly impressive to me, but human mascots like the SDSU Aztec don’t score as many points as cartoonish animals.

Cougars

Michigan Whimpering Weasels Wolverines vs. Montana Grizzlies – Michigan has had mascots in the past, including living Wolverines named Biff and Bennie loaned by the Detroit Zoo, but they currently have nothing. I look upon the complete history of all mascots in this comprehensive study of mascot analysis, but only if the team has one during this season. Is this a stupid technicality that I made up on the spot to disqualify Michigan because I hate them? Yes. Would I have pulled this on any other school? No. Your point being?

Regardless, the Grizzly from Montana looks ready to Chuck Norris some shit up.

Grizzlies

Texas A&M Aggies vs. Providence Friars – The A&M Aggie  live Collie is adorable, especially when gnawing on a Bevo chew toy, but this dog stands no chance against a previous Mascot Bracket Champion in the frightening Friar from Rhode Island. Anything that looks like screaming Donald Sutherland from the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is terrifyingly well positioned for advancement in this tourney.

Friars

North Carolina Tarheels vs. Lipscomb Bison – This is a fairly weak contest, but the Tarheel is good enough to move on.

Tarheels


East

Villanova Wildcats vs. Long Island Brooklyn Blackbirds/Radford Highlanders – More Wildcats, and more First Fours. Firstly, let’s post the Blackbirds up against the Highlanders. Here we find a surprising contender for the big prize in Radford’s history of mascots. Formerly, they had Rowdy Red who looks like Elmo’s grandpa who’s not a fan of the riff raff who have moved onto Sesame Street. Currently, they have a more of a traditional Highlander… if a Scottish Chuck Norris is your idea of traditional Highlander. Needless to say, they advance.

Against another vicious Wildcat in Villanova, I still like whomever Radford is going with.

Highlanders

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – More typically football powers, these schools have made basketball  waves this season. Their mascots have always gotten into the public eye, but of the two, it’s pretty easy to see the superior player.

Hokies

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Murray State Racers – Once again: cartoonish animal suit beats human in themed clothing.

Racers

Wichita State Shockers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd – Bonus points to Marshall for putting a literal twinkle in the eye of their mascot, but one does not simple surpass WuShock in all his wheaty glory.

Shockers

Florida Gators vs. St. Bonaventure Bonnies/UCLA Bruins – For the Bonnies vs. Bruins it seems to point towars the buffer version of the bear from Ted, but wait, what’s this I see in the past of St. Bonaventure? A tremendous historical mascot! Bonnies 4 sho.

Now can they beat out the Gators? Albert apparently invested in some Lasik and has more reptilian eyes, but that derpy basketball-snouted dog is just too much.

Bonnies

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks – Ripoff Yosemite Sam takes on John Cena with an ax. Again, the nod is given to the cartoony guy over the beefcake with the plaid shirt posing as a mascot.

Red Raiders

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Butler Bulldogs – Hogs or dogs? The pig is big.

Razorbacks

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Cal-State Fullerton Titans – Purdue Pete is a soulless monster with a sledgehammer but no emotions. The Titans have an irritated looking elephant. This is one of the few instances I lean toward the human with a helmet costume, if for no other reason than I fear for my life if I pick otherwise.

Boilermakers

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Penn Quakers – Oatmeal man is a challenger, but my perennial favorite Jayhawk is a thing of beauty.


Midwest

Jayhawk

Seton Hall Pirates vs. NC State Wolfpack – Oh this is a good one, but history proves to be on the side of Seton Hall.

Pirates

Clemson Tigers vs. New Mexico State Aggies – I love me a funny tiger over humans in minimal themed attire anyday.

Tigers

Auburn Tigers vs. Charleston Cougars – There are bunch of Tigers in this tournament too. I guess Wildcats must have already been overdone so these schools opted for an even bigger kitty. Regardless, of the size difference in these two cats, the Dale the chipmunk take on Charleston’s Cougar gives them the victory.

Cougars

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Arizona State Sun Devils/Syracuse Orange – ‘Cuse wisely switched from once being the Orangemen to simply the Orange, and they also wisely manufactured a magnificent mascot that I think outsears Sparky.

In fact, I think it even outperforms the Horned Frog.

Orange

Michigan State Spartans vs. Bucknell Bison – As much as the egregiously-muscled Sparty would enjoy this post’s title, he won’t enjoy my ruling here when he’s compared to that incredible Bison.

Bison

Rhode Island Rams vs. Oklahoma Sooners – Oklahoma’s mascot answers the question of what Ben Stiller would look like if he were a horse, but Rhody the Ram wins this round.

Rams

Duke Blue Devils vs. Iona Gaels – I prefer the Blue Devil that looks like it was stung by a swarm of bees, but even its bloated face cannot match the freaky Freddy Krueger grin and monstrous mutton chops of the Gael.

Gaels


Now it’s on! Onto the

Round of 32

South

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Kansas State Wildcats – Gotta still dig that guitar.

Wildcats

Davidson Wildcats vs. Arizona Wildcats – The second straight round of Wildcats on Wildcats for Davidson, and they’re on for a third.

Davidson Wildcats

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs. Wright State Raiders – Further searching did unearth an earlier Loyola-Chicago mascot called Bo Rambler, but when it comes to historical mascots, I still love that Viking on LSD.

Raiders

Nevada Wolfpack vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – If cartoons have taught me anything, it’s that dogs chase cats, but it never said anything about Bearcats.

Bearcats


West

Xavier Musketeers vs. Missouri Tigers – Blue Blob for the big win!

Musketeers

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs – Good ol’ goofy nut.

Buckeyes

Houston Cougars vs. Montana Grizzlies – Chuck Norris-y bear over over-mascaraed cat.

Grizzlies

Providence Friars vs. North Carolina Tarheels – Not contest here.

Friars


East

Radford Highlanders vs. Virginia Tech Hokies – I am so glad this pursuit led me to this fantastic Highlander.

Highlanders

Murray State Racers vs. Wichita State Shockers – WUSHOCK!

Shockers

St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – This was a tough one, but the ruby red mustache of that raider edged out the Bonnies.

Red Raiders

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Purdue Boilermakers – Is the hog still hot? Like it was at a luau.

Razorbacks


Midwest

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Seton Hall Pirates – Rock chalk, baby.

Jayhawks

Clemson Tigers vs. Charleston Cougars – The claws are coming out in this one which sees the Tigers having a sharper swipe.

Tigers

Syracuse Orange vs. Bucknell Bison – Happy fro Bison for the win!

Bison

Rhode Island Rams vs. Iona Gaels – I like these Rams; they’re gonna go places someday, but not against these Gaels.

Gaels


Sweet 16

South

Kansas State Wildcats vs. Davidson Wildcats – I’ll tell you one thing: a Wildcat is going to win. The charm of the K-State guitar jam has waned in the face of adversity… specifically this face.

Davidson Wildcats

Wright State Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – That Viking’s eyes are bigger than most mascots… which allows them to see the trophy awaiting the winner of this tourney.

Raiders


West

Xavier Musketeers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes – This battle for Ohio shall be won by the silly. It was a tough call between rolling blob and cross-eyed Brutus, but I laughed the most at the motion of the blob.

Musketeers

Montana Grizzlies vs. Providence Friars – The bear is good. However: No. Contest.

Friars


East

Radford Highlanders vs. Wichita State Shockers – It takes a hell of a mascot to knock out a power like WuShock, but damn it, Radford has a hell of a mascot.

Highlanders

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks – I’m kind of boared with this bacon, but am loving that kooky cowboy.

Red Raiders


Midwest

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Clemson Tigers – Please.

Jayhawks

Bucknell Bison vs. Iona Gaels – Puh-leese!

Gaels


Elite 8

South

Davidson Wildcats vs. Wright State Raiders – With no more Wildcats to face off against, Davidson loses its mojo. Also, that Viking dude has me staring at the wall in wonder. Have you ever, like, looked at a wall?

Raiders


West

Xavier Musketeers vs. Providence Friars – It’s tough, but the blob is less freaky deeky.

Musketeers


East

Radford Highlanders vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – The aren’t enough guns even in Texas to combat this Texas Ranger of a Highlander.

Highlanders


Midwest

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Iona Gaels – The cartoonish happiness of the Jayhawk prevails over the cartoonish demonic grin of the Gael.

Jayhawks


Final Four

Wright State Raiders vs. Xavier Musketeers –  These mascots have put a lot of time in to face off against an opponent they live about an hour away from. The complete assemblage of mascots has helped both of these, but I’m losing my shit over the previous Rowdy Raider Viking dude.

Raiders

Radford Highlanders vs. Kansas Jayhawks – I love these matchups! What a solid Final Four. Nevertheless, there can be only one, and we get closer to that with only two. Much as I love that Jayhawk, this is the year of the Raider and Highlander.

Highlanders


Championship

Wright State Raiders vs. Radford Highlanders – It’s tough, but it’s really not. It’s the MVP of this Mascot Bracket, the Rowdy Raider, who brings home the plunder for his team.

Champions

Wright State Raiders

Soak it up, boys; you’ve earned it.

Thanks for reading and rolling along with that ridiculous ride. I quite enjoyed it, and I hope you did too! Drop me a line with any questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to dribble back here next week for more fun.

Let the chaos begin!

Alex

Fantastic Franchises of Football

Congratulations Nick Foles and the Eagles! I mean, sure, I was rooting for your team to win the Super Bowl mainly because I didn’t want the Patriots to win and out of hope that an Eagles win will give us an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia based on the victory that will hopefully be on the same caliber as “The World Series Defense” which was inspired by the Phillies 2008 championship, but I was still pulling for you. No matter where your fanatic devotion or one game loyalty lied last night, you have to be pleased that we were treated to an entertaining game that will stand as more than merely one of the 53 Super Bowls played to date. Philadelphia will certainly remember it as their first time hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but even the most casual football fans will appreciate the magnificent game played by Nick Foles, especially the play where he became the first player to throw and catch a touchdown in the same Super Bowl (this is how you catch the ball, Tom):

Bravo Nick, you reminded us that you can really light it up from under center in a dazzling way… almost as dazzling as the clean look of clothing washed with Tide! That’s right, this post was a Tide commercial all along! (Please hang out with me, David Harbour….)

After that historic Super Bowl game, I took a look back at the games of Super Bowls past and started to wonder, who is the best franchise to play in the big game? There will undoubtedly be debates about the best players and teams to play in the game, and even the best games to be played on Super Sunday (Joe Montana, 1989 San Francisco 49ers, and Super Bowl XLII, respectively for me), but determining the top franchise based on its performance in the Super Bowl is a little easier, at least regarding being able to look back on multiple statistics, and chiefly, who won the games, how many they won, and how much they won by. This is what I spent some time perusing today, and I compiled a ranking of each NFL franchise’s aptitude in the Super Bowl. I considered a few key factors, like those I just described, especially winning percentage, as well as margin of victory throughout all Super Bowls that franchise has played in, whom they beat (and lost to). To break some ties I also considered how specific games went, and assessed game control for both the winners and losers.

I admit that I am no statistician, and this list is highly dependent on my personal opinion of what separates certain franchises where the aforementioned winning percentage and margin of victory (the difference between the number of points the franchise’s teams scored in the games and the number of points scored against them) could not as clearly determine an order. If you are interested in what I referenced to compose this ranking, then feel free to peruse the metric I made for it:

Best NFL Franchise Performance in the Super Bowl Metric

If you can live with that, then perhaps you’ll love this!

First, I’ll give a “you’ll get there someday… maybe” shout out to the four franchises that have yet to make it to the Super Bowl beyond hosting it:

Cleveland Browns – Ugh….

Detroit Lions – At least we’re not Cleveland!

Houston Texans – We’re still pretty new to this and have played all right.

Jacksonville Jaguars – We’re also newer and made it to the AFC Championship this year!


And now, the rankings of super Super Bowl participating franchises from worst to best!

28.) Minnesota Vikings (0-4) – I was really rooting for a Minnesota-Jacksonville game this year, but alas, the Norsemen of the Land of 10,000 Lakes did not get a chance to bring some bite back to the Purple People Eaters in the big game at home. They look a little better now that the Eagles won it all, but historically they have not played well in the Super Bowl, with all four losses being by at least two scores.

27.) Buffalo Bills (0-4) – Everyone in western New York knows they were soooo close in that first Super Bowl. A one point loss that could have easily been a two point win if it wasn’t for… I’m not even going to say it. The three consecutive Super Bowls that followed were not even close though.

26.) Los Angeles (then San Diego) Chargers (0-1) – Just one appearance to date for the Bolts of southern California, but they were soundly thrashed by their superior northern California cousins from San Francisco in it.

25.) Atlanta Falcons (0-2) – So, so close to cruising to victory last year before a miraculous (or more likely hellish) comeback from the Patriots that saw these birds get sunk in the only overtime in Super Bowl history. The earlier loss came from Denver, which is not something to be proud of.

24.) Carolina Panthers (0-2) – Barely above their NFC South fellows, the Panthers have also suffered defeats to the Patriots and Broncos, but each of theirs were late game losses by fewer points.

23.) Tennessee Titans (0-1)The Titans literally came as close to victory (or at least overtime) as any Super Bowl runner-up has.

22.) Arizona Cardinals (0-1) Perhaps the most amazing final few minutes in any Super Bowl came at the heartbreaking expense of the Cardinals who played an excellent game to cap a terrific season.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) – How do I have a two-loss Super Bowl franchise set above two that nearly won the only one each had been to yet? When the franchise you lost to twice by only nine combined points is the San Francisco 49ers at the peak of the Bill Walsh dynasty, then you have a pretty good argument. Especially when Joe Montana does this.

20.) Denver Broncos (3-5) – The Broncos are without a doubt one of the best teams at getting to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for their fans, they are also one of the worst teams once they actually get into the game. They have been on the losing end of some of the most lopsided scores in the game’s history throughout it’s history, including a 45 point defeat by the 1989 49ers I referenced earlier. Altogether, the Broncos have been outscored 36-148 in their eight appearances in the grand game. Nevertheless, they have come away with three Lombardi Trophies.

19.) Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1-2) – They scored their win in that oh, so close game against Tennessee, and suffered close defeats to the Chuck Noll dynasty Steelers and the 2001 Belichick-Brady Patriots.

18.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) – After last night’s victory, the previous two defeats (one also a close one to those B&B Patriots) don’t sting as much.

17.) Miami Dolphins (2-3) – Still the only franchise to have a Super Bowl champ that went undefeated in the regular season and postseason en route to carrying their coach, the great Don Shula (my university’s most well-known alumnus!), across the field. Unfortunately for Miami, their three losses were rough ends to otherwise amazing seasons.

16.) Seattle Seahawks (1-2) – It should be two if only they would have handed Marshawn Lynch the ball at the two yard line instead of throwing a pass! A pass! No matter how this most recent Malcolm Butler bullshit goes, he’ll always have that interception that never should have happened. Good job whipping the Broncos though!

15.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) – The first runners-up in any Super Bowl got to kick off the big game by getting kicked around by Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr’s Packers, but they got a trophy of their own against the Vikings a few years later.

14.) Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – The original team from Baltimore that now resides in central Indiana has gone half and half on the SB stage, thanks to legendary quarterbacks Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning each winning on one of two trips to the game.

13.) New England Patriots (5-5) – Some may be surprised to find the Patriots in the middle of the pack, but their record in the game is 0.500, and their wins have all been one score in games that went down to the wire. This is not to take away their five wins, still tied for second all-time, but their five defeats have not been as close, especially in their first Super Bowl against the shufflin’ Chicago Bears. Like the Broncos, they are great at getting to the game, but not the best at winning it, especially if Eli Manning is under center on the other side.

12.) New York Jets (1-0) – It’s hard to deny a perfect record, although it is a small sample size. That being said, this still remains one of the greatest sports upsets in history and served to show that the supposed parity between the merging football leagues was not as great as it appeared.

11.) New Orleans Saints (1-0) – Besting Peyton Manning is no small feat, especially on the biggest stage. And let’s not forget that second half opening onside kick! Gutsy play that finally brought the big game hardware to the Big Easy.

10.) Chicago Bears (1-1) – Super Bowl XX is the game that solidified Mike Ditka as a coaching legend. Da Bears were da champs after crushing the Patriots in the first Super Bowl for both teams.

9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) – The best of the single showing bunch thanks to an annihilation of the Oakland Raiders.

8.) Washington Change This Name Already (3-2) – They were 1-1 against the Dolphins and also bested the Broncos and Bills on the way to three victories. Now if only they can get rid of that racist logo and team name.

7.) Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (3-2) – No matter where they’ve been (or where they’re going) the Raiders have been the scariest looking franchise in the NFL thanks to some wild fans that remind us that the term is short for fanatic. They get the narrow edge over the Change the Name franchise by virtue of beating them handily head-to-head in Super Bowl XVIII.

6.) Baltimore Ravens (2-0) – The last of the unbeaten franchises is held back purely because the franchises above them have slayed in the Super Bowl. However, the Ravens have been no slouches in their numerous playoff appearances. They fortunately were not permitted to steal away the Browns history when they were stolen away from Cleveland in 1996, but since joining the NFL as an expansion team, the Ravens have made their own history with two wins over two of the best Super Bowl franchises.

5.) Dallas Cowboys (5-3) – The claim to be “America’s Team” may be contested by any of the franchises I have ranked above them, but one thing that cannot is that the Cowboys and their pals at the top of this list have earned their keep. Dallas gets extra props for having won over many decades.

4.) New York Giants (4-1) – Who would have thought that Peyton’s little brother would help ascend this franchise into the top five among Super Bowl champs? Well, he did, and he and the Giants bested the B&B Patriots twice to do so, including being the lone loss on the 2007 Pats resume. They also beat the Broncos and Bills, but lost badly to the Ravens.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – The owners of the most rings, the Steelers have been in the hunt for the big prize as regularly as the Cowboys, but they get the edge over them due to their 2-1 record against the Boys in the Bowl.

2.) Green Bay Packers (4-1) – The winners of the first two Super Bowls, the Pack Attack has gone on to beat the Patriots and Steelers to vault themselves into the silver medal slot on this list. Their lone loss came to the best of those Broncos teams by only a touchdown.

1.) San Francisco 49ers (5-1) – For all the analysis of various football factors, the answer to the question “who’s the best Super Bowl franchise?” was obvious from the start. The 49ers arrived to the Super Bowl mix somewhat late, but once they made their way onto the dance floor, they quickly took it over. After besting the Bengals in each franchise’s first Super Bowl, they cruised past the Dolphins to spoil Marino’s greatest season, then posted an historic final drive against the Bengals in the sequel to their first major matchup. The next season they absolutely obliterated the Broncos, 55-10, in the biggest outpouring of points and margin of victory by any team in any Super Bowl. A few years later, with Steve Young at the helm of the ship Joe Montana made, they outshot the Chargers. Since then, San Francisco has only made it to one other Super Sunday showdown, the Harbowl between brothers John and Jim Harbaugh. John’s Ravens got the better of his big brother’s 49ers, but only by three points thanks to a furious San Fran rally following a bizarre half-hour blackout in the stadium.

When all is said and done, the 49ers have won five Super Bowls by a combined 99 points and only lost one by 3. When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, no other franchise has proven to be up to the task like the San Francisco 49ers.

Thanks for reading! Rush back here next week for more hard-hitting and concussion-inducing fun!

Sports yeah go!

Alex

O-H-I-O! Rip His ****ing Head Off!

We are a mere five days away from the most important football game of the season. If you are a college football fan, this rings true for you no matter whom you support (although some teams do play earlier than Saturday). This is Rivalry Week, and there is no shortage of signature matchups with big stakes for the teams involved and beyond. To name a few, Auburn and Alabama once again face off with national title implications on the line; Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Florida-Florida State duke it out in cross-conference games; Northwestern-Illinois, Indiana-Purdue, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Washington-Washington State, and Oregon-Oregon State all battle for their respective states. All across the USA there are major meetings where the records are thrown out the window and the lofty goals of championships are set aside; these teams involved in rivalry games are focused only on winning the game that matters most and claiming whatever trophy and bragging rights they can earn with such a victory.

For the greatest of these games, the individual aspirations of each team are cast to the wind for a showdown at high noon this Saturday. For Ohio State and Michigan, the fiercest rivalry in the sport, the number of wins and losses do not matter. Year to year for each team, there is but one game in the entire season that matters – the remaining 11-14 are just bonuses if you win them. When Ohio State won the inaugural College Football Playoff in the 2014 season, they played some incredible games including major wins over Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon to round out the season that also featured critical wins like a shootout at Michigan State and a double overtime survival at Penn State. These are all awesome games for Buckeye fans, but compared to the one that took place on the fourth Saturday of November, they do not mean much. Even though the Wolverines were an uncharacteristically lackluster 5-6 coming into that game and Ohio State was a 10-1 juggernaut cruising along with their sights on the big prize they would eventually win, this was not a game either side took lightly, and despite the final score, was a game that was decided in the fourth quarter.

Such has been the case for so many of the games in the lengthy series that began in 1897. From the first competitive contests in the 1910s, through the heralded Woody versus Bo Ten Year War, and to last year’s amazing game of the year double overtime thriller, the Ohio State-Michigan series has been the most compelling rivalry series for over a century. The past two years, I have discussed the games that were celebrating their 10 year anniversary, with the fourth quarter comeback that the Buckeyes mounted in 2005, and the #1 versus #2 Game of the Century in 2006, standing front and center on this webpage. Today, I continue that trend with a look at the less outwardly thrilling but individually amazing effort put forth by Chris “Beanie” Wells in 2007.

A few days ago, Ohio State demolished their other historical rival Illinois, as has been the case for the greater part of the past few decades. The last time the Illini scored a win against the Buckeyes was in 2007, when they came to Columbus and eeked out a 28-21 win in an impressively upstart year for them. That was the first defeat the Buckeyes suffered that year, and coming in the critical eleventh game of the season, it seemed to knock the Bucks out of the National Championship running – they would go on to not only make it to that game for the second year in a row, but thanks to a smattering of chaos in the final week of the season, they made it in as #1! Aaaand that was worse for them than if they had been #2, but again, the other games don’t matter compared to the The Game. The Buckeyes went into The Game in 2007 with a 10-1 record, that “and one” still water-droplet-covered fresh. Michigan was 8-3, powering through a season bookended by dual losses. After the shocking starter where they lost to Appalachian State, followed by an annihilation from Oregon (both in Ann Arbor, Michigan), the Wolverines did not look great. Nevetheless, they were pretty good, and rattled off 8 straight wins, before falling once more to the other Big Ten weasels , the Wisconsin Badgers at always tough to play Camp Randall Stadium. In spite of all this, entering the game against Ohio State, Michigan hardly looked like the lesser team, and the matchup appeared to be fairly even.

And so it was. The game itself was classic Midwestern sports, with weather dictating the flow for all four quarters. Thanks to playing to his team’s strengths, Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel got the better of Michigan man Lloyd Carr for the final time before the great head coach retired. Chiefly, the team’s strength in lead running back Chris Wells. “Beanie” beat up the Wolverines on their soggy home turf by churning up 222 rushing yards in a rain-soaked contest that, like all football games, was truly determined by the battle between the offensive and defensive lines. The Buckeyes bested the blue weasels by keeping stars like Chad Henne and Mike Hart in check (along with the winds and water), holding Michigan to a field goal and grinding down the clock when the Ohio State offense had the ball. Some Tressel-typical tricky formations helped confuse Michigan’s defense and set up Chris Wells’ first touchdown of the day to send Ohio State to halftime with a 7-3 lead.

Shortly after halftime, Michigan was forced to punt once again, and the Buckeyes took the ball back all the way for the score… because of help from a block in the back penalty (the first of the game on Ohio State). Fortunately, Beanie was glad to be back from the half and didn’t make us wait too long to get the score anyway. Check it out here.

Such was The Game for 2007, Tressel topped the Wolverines for the sixth time (he would add three more wins in as many contests with the team up North) thanks very much to his inventive schemes, strong players, and of course, Beanie Wells. the Buckeyes seemed bound for Pasadena to face off against a Pac-10 team in their first Rose Bowl in 11 years, but the aforementioned chaos sent them back to the BCS Championship.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Rivalry Week even though only half of us football fans actually will. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, send them along to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

I also want to add well wishes for the family of Terry Glenn who died in a car crash early this morning. He was a former NFL Pro-Bowler who played wide receiver for the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Dallas Cowboys, and The Ohio State University Buckeyes before that. A Columbus, Ohio native, Glenn had some shining moments in his professional career, but he led a frequently troubled life. Hopefully he is at peace now and his family and friends can find some.

Go Buckeyes!

Alex

We Got Lucky

Unfortunately for all of us, the question mark hanging over Tom Petty’s dire health status last Monday was answered definitively shortly after it’s announcement. The 66 year old rocker from Gainesville, Florida first hit it big with the group Mudcrutch, which he later rejoined in 2007 and toured with in between Heartbreakers tours. He also co-founded the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with his good friend George Harrison. Also working in that band with the Heartbreaker and Beatle were Jeff Lynne of ELO, Roy Orbison, yeah, and if that’s not enough also Bob freakin’ Dylan. But Petty is best remembered for his main act as leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a band that just celebrated their 40th anniversary with a final tour that proved to be all too final for fans. I feel privileged to have gotten to see them on this last tour, but more than that, I feel privileged to have heard the Heartbreakers at all. Today, as I have done more times than I have liked, I am remembering the main man of the Heartbreakers in all his bizarre glory by compiling a list of 40 of my favorite songs of his in honor of his biggest band’s anniversary. However, I have a few entries from his time with the others I’ve mentioned. Let’s start with one of my favorites. It comes from the second Heartbreakers album, You’re Gonna Get It! which has my favorite cover of any of theirs (see above).

“Baby’s A Rock and Roller” – Loud, proud, and powerful Petty and the Heartbreakers. A distinctive announcement that their girl can rock and roll and so can they.


“A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)”

“All or Nothing”

“Breakdown”

“Candy”

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” – One of Petty’s hilariously or disturbingly weird (or both) videos that doesn’t much relate to the context of the song, but is certainly entertaining. To be fair, the tales of Alice in Wonderland are always kooky.

“Don’t Do Me Like That”

“End of the Line” – One from the Wilburys that prominently features Petty.

“Even the Losers”

“Feel a Whole Lot Better” – A cover of The Byrds classic that deals out the same degree of “stay out of my life” declaration with Petty adding an extra dose of

“First Flash of Freedom”

“Handle With Care” – The most famous of The Traveling Wilburys songs. Roy Orbison is amazing on this. Petty mostly signs backup, but it’s still a great one he helped to make.

“Here Comes My Girl” – The most normal, well-behaved of his videos by far.

“Honey Bee” – Gotta love this rendition of the blues classic. Fun to play on guitar!

“I Need to Know”

“It’s Good to Be King” – What a weirdo.


“Jammin’ Me” – How I love him so.

“Learning to Fly” – Superior to the Pink Floyd song of the same name.


“Listen to Her Heart”

“Lover of the Bayou” – One from Mudcrutch.

“Makin’ Some Noise” – The final verse refers to a real occurrence when Petty heard a guitar being played in a California canyon and responded by playing his back. Soon they were jamming!

“Refugee” – My friend Mike’s favorite from Petty. At least back in college. Tastes change’ this song’s appeal has not. Still awesome.


“Running Man’s Bible”

“Running Down a Dream” – After a couple grounded videos we’re back to bizarre.


“Something Big” – One of my favorite of Petty’s “story songs” that tell a narrative of some character hewing out a rough existence whilst being thwarted by his own vices.

“The Damage You’ve Done”

“The Waiting”


“Too Much Ain’t Enough”

“Trailer” – My favorite from Mudcrutch.

“Walls” – A good song to have at your wedding. This “Circus” version is my favorite tempo.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – This one has received a lot of attention in the last week as it features an all-star line up of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers playing at the Rock Hall’s Induction Ceremony in 2004 in honor of George Harrison who was inducted posthumously as a solo artist that year. The reason why it has popped up so frequently in the wake of Petty’s death is because it features him singing while then-newly inducted Prince – one of last year’s most notable and surprising deaths – shreds the living heck out of his guitar making it cry with intensity that is all to our delight. This was the only time that the two legends played together. Amazing. The look on George’s son, Dhani’s face as Prince comes up is the same as the look on all of ours.

Like Prince, Petty also had the honor to play the Halftime Show at the Super Bowl, and while I still maintain Prince played the greatest Halftime Show ever seen, Petty got to do it at the greatest Super Bowl ever played (Super Bowl XLII), and he put on quite a show too.


“Wildflowers” – Perhaps the most appropriate farewell song to the man himself”

“Yer So Bad”


“You Don’t Know How It Feels” – One of my favorite (I have said that a lot, but I mean it) songs to play when I’m not having a great time. I’ve never actually rolled another joint, or even an initial one, but I have sang about a ton whenever this song comes on.

“You Got Lucky” – Yes, we did, to get to hear this man’s magic.

“You Wreck Me” – Played this to great applause at wedding a few weeks back. Yes, much of it was mine, but many others clapped to! The easiest three chords to play to sound badass with.

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – The first of Petty’s songs that I listened to after hearing the initial report of his death. Creepy video; phenomenal song.


“I Won’t Back Down” – My sister’s favorite.

“American Girl”

“Free Fallin'” – My favorite!

Thanks for reading and listening! Be sure to fly on back here next week for the latest celebration of Mach 1 Day (October 14th). Until then, if you wish to drop me a line, send your regards to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Keep kooky,

Alex

“Nobody’s Perfect”

In the first week of June 2010, Major League Baseball was in full swing (we’re off to a great start on the puns). I was home from college on break, and like the previous summers, I spent most of my days tuning in to watch the Detroit Tigers play baseball. In fact, never has there been a year where I paid more close attention to the baseball season and the daily goings-on of my favorite team. Couple that with the midweek series the Tigers were playing with the Cleveland Indians, the next closest and next most admired team of mine, and I was positively giddy to sit my ass on the couch and occasionally leap up and scream with delight or disgust, depending on the action on the most valued diamond in American hearts. And on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 2, I was… doing something completely different. I missed the game! Knowing there was a game on, I went out somewhere I do not remember and did something I do not recall. This is not to say that I got shitfaced and the whole day is a blur; I simply felt like doing something else that day. There are 162 regular season games in the MLB season, and, as much as I like the Tigers, I am not watching all of them unless somebody pays me to. I had already watched a number of games since April, and I set my sights on enjoying that day some other way instead. Besides, there was not much to get excited about regarding the game that day. The Indians were not bad, but the Tigers had lately had command of their contests together, and being a division opponent it’s not like the Tigers and Tribe wouldn’t meet again soon. Now if Justin Verlander had been pitching that day… my eyes would have been glued to the television and I wouldn’t have blinked because every time he threw the ball something amazing could have happened (this is still true). I mean, just four days earlier, Roy Halladay had thrown a Perfect Game for the Phillies. A Perfect Game! One of the rarest and most incredible feats in any sport, let alone baseball, and we were filthy with them in early 2010! Dallas Braden threw one for the Oakland A’s earlier that May, then came Halladay’s. Verlander, the Tigers’ ace pitcher, seemed just the man to step up to that mound next. Verlander had been a showstopper since his breakout rookie season in 2006 when he won Rookie of the Year and helped the team capture the American League (AL) pennant, and he would go on to win both the AL Cy Young Award given to the best pitcher each season, and the AL MVP in 2011. Even without that knowledge of his future accomplishments, I was pretty jazzed to see #35 take the mound. Nothing against him, but compared to Verlander, fellow Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga, the man who was slated to pitch on June 2, 2010, did not demand to be seen each time he grabbed his glove. Galarraga was a good, but not great pitcher. A solid addition to any rotation who gave your team a reliable outing against most lineups and could hand over a competitive game to the bull pen past the 6th or 7th inning. He had been the Tigers’ best rookie the year before, but not anywhere near the instant phenom status that Verlander cemented himself during his rookie year. Naturally then, Armando Galarraga, on a day when myself and many others were not paying particularly close attention, threw the 21st Perfect Game in Major League Baseball history.

Only… he didn’t. Not technically, anyway. If you look in any official records it will state that Galarraga won a complete game one-hitter because Indians shortstop Jason Donald safely hit a single with one out left in the game.

Only… he didn’t. Technically, yes, but anyone with eyes can look at the replay and see that what should have been the final out was a tag of first base appropriately done by Galarraga himself. Galarraga beat Donald by a relatively wide margin compared to most baseball close-calls, but first base umpire Jim Joyce signaled “safe” and was immediately met by boos and a livid Jim Leyland, the Tigers’ manager. Galarraga was initially surprised by Joyce’s call, but quickly gave the man a smile. A few superfluous pitches later, and Galarraga had his first complete game shutout while Joyce had a number of pissed players and coaches come up to him and scream in his face about how wrong he was. And the man took it. Every. Single. Word. He stood stoically, letting the emotions of the angered men crash into him like the pounding waves of a storm at sea smashing into the breakwater. Then he went back and lived his life as usual.

Only… of course he didn’t! You don’t just pick up and carry on from that! Jim Joyce, the man who was the most beloved of all umpires in the MLB, was instantly the most hated man in baseball. Move over Steve Bartman, the town of “Everyone in Baseball Unfairly Hates You” has a new mayor and he’s the last man anyone expected to receive that scorn. Just like Armando Galarraga was the last starting pitcher anyone expected to pitch a perfect game in June 2010. That’s what makes sports so beautiful and terrible. We play the same games over and over and over again to the point where even the most devoted fans need a break from the monotony every once in a while. But sometimes, when you least expect it, and often featuring the people you least expect it from, we get a game, a play, a moment where something truly incredible happens. Sometimes it is as glorious as Galadriel in Lothlorien, but too frequently it takes a turn down that “All shall love me and despair!” thing she did that one time. Even though I did not see the game, I saw all of the coverage that lasted morning, noon, and night for the remainder of that season going over every last detail of it. As a baseball fan, and especially as a Tigers fan, I was wound up. Many other people were even more wound up, and Jim Joyce was not a well-liked man in Detroit, Michigan that evening and the next day. This moment brought out the worst in too many of us.

But not the two men in the crux of it all.

Joyce, upon seeing the play on replay from other angles, realized he was wrong and immediately apologized. He sought out Galarraga in the locker room and told him face to face that he was sorry. Galarraga forgave him. As surprising as that was, deep down we knew that the moment he flashed that smile after Joyce called Jason Donald safe at first. Galarraga became Joyce’s greatest supporter in the midst of the biggest call of the man’s career. He summed up the unfortunate situation with humor, truth, and irony, by simply saying, “Nobody’s perfect.” You were, Armando. You and Jim Joyce who owned up to his mistake and offered his sincerest apology, were the epitome of sportsmanship in the sweltering heat of early June, and I’m not talking about the weather. While every other talking head was clamoring for instant replay (which this did help along), or more savagely fro Joyce’s head, Galarraga and Joyce were honest and kind to one another, and helped set the tone for all their peers to adhere to. The next day, Joyce was the lead umpire. Before the game began, Jim Leyland sent Galarraga in place of one of the coaches to deliver the Tigers’ lineup card to Joyce.

The brief interaction between the two men was one of the glorious moments of sports; a reason why we play these games. Even after a stunning occurrence, baseball, like life, goes on. Galarraga and Joyce helped to bring everything back down to Earth so that we could get back to playing ball. It may not say so in Cooperstown, but that wild evening and ensuing afternoon proved to us all that every once in a while a shitshow of a situation can end in perfection.

Armando Galarraga retired from baseball in 2015. He had other great games, but this was certainly the highlight of his career. It’s easy to lose how thrilling the game was (you bet your ass I watched the replay) and that magnificent catch center fielder Austin Jackson made late in it to preserve the perfect game. Check out the outs and crazy finish here:

Jim Joyce recently announced his retirement after 30 years of umpiring. While this will always be the situation that Joyce is best remembered for, it should not be forgotten that he saved a woman’s life by giving her CPR after here heart stopped in 2012. The woman was working for the Arizona Diamondbacks and collapsed before the game.

Here’s hoping retirement is good to both men and their families, and that we all can make the most of the biggest moments in our lives with as much humility and understanding as they did with theirs.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Come on back here again next week for another round of whatever may come to mind.

Todos sabemos que fue perfecto,

Alex

 

A Super Show of Support

Boy, those birds sure can blow it against the Patriots! Last night, the same old stuff from New England won the Super Bowl once again, this time in the championship game’s first ever overtime contest at the expense of the shoulda, coulda, woulda Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons had the Pats dead to rights, leading by 25 points in the second half, but they just could not put the game away. The ending of the game may have been rougher for the Seattle Seahawks to see, as the Patriots won by handing the ball off to their reliable running back at the goal line to score the game-winning touchdown, something every team’s 12th man knew the Seahawks should have done against New England just two Super Bowls ago.

Last night’s game had one the most incredible finishes in football history, let alone Super Bowl history, but overall it still ranks behind the big game from nine years ago. The monumental stakes of the 2008 Super Bowl XLII matchup of the we-do-this-all-the-time Patriots and the New York Giants were greater than any other. The Pats were undefeated at 18-0 and looked like they could steamroll anyone, and they had already beaten the Giants to add to that reputation. However, the game was close the whole way, and the Giants put together a bonkers final drive highlighted by this unbelievable play and ensuing touchdown:

But I didn’t come here to talk about the game, oh no. I came here to talk about the halftime show and the commercials! Just not in the away I normally would. Instead of watercooler talk of what commercials were the funniest (not really any of them) or which part of the halftime festivities featured the weirdest wardrobe (or lack thereof – thanks Janet!), today I want to discuss a bit about the tone of the these forms of entertainment. The normally routine chuckle-worthy advertisements and spectacle-centered singing show were still present, yet mostly set aside to profess a message of peace, equality, and inclusiveness.

Coca-Cola, Budweiser and most poignantly, 84 Lumber of all merchandisers, all pressed points for the importance of opening your arms to people. These points were further exemplified by halftime performer, Lady Gaga whose rooftop diving entrance kicked off with an extremely abridged version of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” and an excerpt from the Pledge of Allegiance,

One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

We Americans have really put that “indivisible” part to the test over the years – if you thought last year’s election was bad, you wouldn’t believe what we did in the 1860s! The American Civil War was fought for everything else in that back half of the pledge: keeping the US as one nation, with liberty and justice for all, including the people who had been wrongfully considered property for too long. We have come a long way since then, and while freedom has been extended to many more than before, we still have trouble keeping the whole New Colossus theme that is emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty. The famous sonnet from poet Emma Lazarus features the memorable declaration from Lady Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Thankfully, in the midst of fear pointed in the wrong direction, there are many who stand with smiles of welcome to people whose only real difference with them is where they were born. We are all humans, and we are all deserving of the rights granted by the United States’ Constitution, not by virtue of having filled out forms, or by having been lucky in where your mother gave birth to you, but because every human is worthy of those rights. There is nothing more elaborate to it. All people deserve respect and the opportunity to make this world a better place. I know not everyone chooses to do this, and I’m not saying that people desiring to be American citizens should not bother with applying for citizenship. By all means, I encourage you to go through the necessary channels to officially be recognized as a citizen of this country because you, the persevering immigrant are what continues to make America great, now as ever. Nevertheless, under no circumstances should you be denied the chance to apply for citizenship. There is no need to make the process more tedious with the aim to weed out certain groups, and an all-out ban is damnably unconstitutional. That is not America, because we are the nation that opens the door, not slams it shut.

Thanks for reading! Direct any comments or questions to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to rappel down this way again next week.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

Alex