Draft 2019: No Getting In Howie’s Head

Roseman

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If we have learned anything from Howie Roseman, it’s that he always has an ace hidden up his sleeve, ready to play it at the exact moment when the competition is sleeping on him.

That said, with the 2019 NFL Draft fast approaching, it outwardly appears that his cards are on the table.

At least as much as they can be for a guy always looking to play the angles for the benefit of the hometown Eagles.

This offseason, he has fortified the roster for coach Doug Pederson and staff with an evenhanded distribution of veterans, leaving no real gaping holes to be addressed in the draft.

When you are playoff team that one season removed from a Lombardi Trophy, that is a good place to be.

And that’s where the Bird are — able to draft the best player available.

While it’s lip service that every team uses, it’s pretty obvious here.

“Let’s not be biased toward a particular need, because that’s where we make mistakes,” said Roseman, likely still haunted by the ghosts of Danny Watkins and Marcus Smith, among others. “That’s one of the things that’s exciting where we are right now. We can go play right now. We think we’re a pretty good team. So we go into the draft knowing we don’t have anything that we have to fill at any position.”

The Birds enter the draft with the following picks: One first (No. 25), two seconds (No. 53, No. 57), two fourths (No. 127, No. 138), one fifth (No. 163) and one sixth (No. 198).

Trades are likely, and I’d say it’s a 50-50 chance Roseman stays at No. 25 in the first round, which could set in motion a chain of events to acquire more picks or just target some select prospects and call it a draft.

Roseman could either use one of the second-round picks, along with No. 25, to move into the 15-20 range. He could also trade back, maybe even out of the first round altogether, and add the third-round pick – and maybe the seventh — they don’t have.

It would be about their board, and where they can get someone they covet.

Let’s now take a look at who the Eagles have at each position, and who are some possible fortifications are for the draft Because of the front office’s due diligence in the offseason, the possibilities are so endless that a lot of names are being thrown at you:

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK: While there should be legitimate concerns that Carson Wentz will make it through a whole season healthy, the Eagles are insisting they are comfortable with relatively untested Nate Sudfeld as the backup.

“When you’re able to find a guy like Nate and develop him, that’s like drafting a quarterback,” said Roseman in a pre-draft press conference. “That was just as good as any quarterback we could have taken certainly in the middle rounds.”

The Eagles also added Luis Perez from the suddenly defunct AAF, but he is strictly practice squad material for now.

Going with just Wentz and Sudfeld would save a spot on the active roster, but it would risky if – or when – Wentz goes down. The question would be if they go on the street for a veteran on a one-year deal or add through the draft. If they choose the latter option, it certainly wouldn’t be until Day 3, and likely not until the fifth or sixth round.

Names to consider are Ryan Finley (NC State), who holds three academic degrees, Jordan Ta’amu (Mississippi) and Eric Dungey (Syracuse). Easton Stick replaced Wentz at North Dakota State. He doesn’t have the same arm or size (6-2, 220), but he is mobile. Kyle Shurmur (Vanderbilt) is the son of Pat Shurmur, for whatever that’s worth.

RUNNING BACK: The need for a No. 1 back seems to have been filled by trading for Jordan Howard. Roseman expressed optimism about young backs Corey Clement and Josh Adams, who led the team in rushing last as an undrafted rookie who began the year on the practice squad. It’s hard to tell where Wendell Smallwood fits in, especially in the final year of his rookie deal, but he has shown enough to round out the group. Boston Scott and draft bust Donnell Pumphrey are also in the mix, if only as tackling dummies for the preseason.

Before the trade for Howard, there was a lot talk about the Eagles going for the running back with one of their top three picks, and maybe even trading up to secure Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, but that seems less likely now. Still, there are some names to consider on Day 3. There are two backs with Day 2 skill sets – Rodney Anderson (Oklahoma, pictured below) and Bryce Love (Stanford) – who should be available in the fourth or even fifth round because of injury issues. The Eagles could draft one, and provide a red-shirt year by stashing them on IR to get healthy. Temple’s Ryquell Armstead could be a late-round sleeper, but the Eagles have not had an Owl in camp – even as an undrafted free agent – since quarterback Adam DiMichele in 2009, which seems to indicate something a bit more nefarious about the relationship with their stadium tenant. Some small-school backs that could be add in the fifth or sixth rounds are athletic freak Jalin Moore (Appalachian State) and Wes Hills (Slippery Rock).

Anderson

WIDE RECEIVER: Just like Howard at running back, bringing back fan favorite DeSean Jackson to take the top of the defense takes away the immediate need for reaching for a receiver earlier in the draft. Alshon Jeffery is the No. 1 receiver while they could do worse than Nelson Agholor in the slot. Meanwhile, with promising Mack Hollins back after missing all of last season, they are in decent shape at the top of the depth chart. While there are some in-house names – Shelton Gibson, Greg Ward Jr., Braxton Miller, etc. – it would not be out of the question to draft a receiver.

With Clement coming off of injury, and no known punt returner on the roster, they could look at the draft’s better return men who are also receivers. Those names include Parris Campbell (Ohio State), who has been timed in the sub-4.4 range, and Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), who is not as fast (4.5ish) but has the more sudden moves that often work better in the big leagues. Julian Edelman clone Andy Isabella (Massachusetts) looks the part, but does not have much return experience. Georgia’s Mecole Hardman would be a steal in the fourth round, if he lasts that long. Raw as a receiver, he brings 4.3 speed and return skills. Later in the draft, they could look to fil the need with his Bulldog teammate, Terry Godwin, or a small school playmaker such as Alex Wesley (North Colorado) or Penny Hart (Georgia State).

It would be a mild surprise not to hear one of these names called by Roseman and Co. (second in command Joe Douglas loves small-school talent).

TIGHT END: After catching the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, all Zach Ertz did for an encore was set a record for receptions for tight end in a season. Meanwhile, Dallas Goedert should easily build on what was a promising rookie season. Richard Rodgers was resigned as a safe bet to be the third tight end, and there are some other in-house candidates, but Roseman could pull the trigger on the right tight end at the right time in the draft.

With the draft class at tight considered strong, the fact that the Eagles are covered here could help push other talent into their lap.

An intriguing name would be Trevon Wesco (pictured below) of West Virginia, which has served as a farm system of sorts for the Birds in the past. Wesco is 6-3 and over 270 pounds, and is also raw, but he could be a core special teamer and, heaven forbid, line up at fullback without burning a roster spot on a traditional fullback.

Wesco

OFFENSIVE TACKLE: A lot of mock drafts have the Eagles drafting a replacement for Jason Peters, and maybe even moving up to do so. Names mentioned include Greg Little (Mississippi) and Bobby Evans (Oklahoma), who both possess the requisite size and athleticism to warrant high picks. This is where we would need to be behind the curtain to know what the Eagles are thinking, long-time. Do they believe Halapoulivaati Vatai, who breathes the rarified air of starting left tackles who won Super Bowls, can be the replacement? Was Jordan Mailata, a rugby player out of Australia, just a PR stunt when drafted in the seventh round last year?

Remember what Roseman said about Sudfeld, and how the time investment being more valuable than a rookie. Also keep in mind that the tackle class, overall is considered mediocre. We don’t want another Danny Watkins, do we?

GUARD/CENTER: Whether or not the Eagles add tackle early, they will likely look to the interior line at some point, probably on Day 3. Brandon Brooks, two years removed from a Pro Bowl season and one removed from a ruptured Achilles, may not be ready to start the season. Stefen Wisniewski is gone. Isaac Seumalo is slated to start at left guard, but we’ve heard that song before. Good things have been said about Matt Pryor, last year’s sixth-round pick, but he could be regarded more as a tackle who can play guard than a pure guard. Meanwhile, Roseman may have to make arrangements for replacing center Jason Kelce, who talked about retirement a bit this offseason.

Versatile Beau Benzschawel (6-5, 317) of Wisconsin would be an ideal developmental choice.

And, while the presumption that offensive line coach/running game coordinator Jeff Stoutland’s fading connection with Alabama will mean drafting players from there, a good fit would be pivot Ross Pierschbacher (6-3, 309), who also has experience at guard.

RossP

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE: This where the rubber meets the road. If this is not the strong spot of the whole team, it is at least on the defensive side of the ball. Two big reasons for that are Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and depth. Defensive line also happens to be the strongest spot in the draft, inside and outside, and Roseman has not been shy about pointing it out. A smoke screen, or will the Birds reload for the future while giving themselves a killer rotation in the present.

While Michael Bennett was dealt to New England, Brandon Graham was resigned in a pleasant surprise, and will be joined at defensive end by promising third-year man Derek Barnett, who should be back healthy after missing most of last season.

Malik Jackson was brought in to play alongside Cox, ostensibly replacing Timmy Jernigan. And welcome back, Vinny Curry. An end by trade, he can slide inside on passing downs.

However, with it unclear if Chris Long will retire, it is not out of the question to add an end – even with last year’s fourth-round pick Josh Sweat expected to make more of an impact.

Inside, the backups are journeymen Trayvon Hester and Bruce Hector, so a top-end talent there would be almost unfair.

And there are plenty to choose from. In reality, the Eagles could use their first three picks on defensive linemen and justify it as a sound move for the present and the future. Nothing makes a suspect secondary more stable than a line that creates passing downs by stuffing the run and then getting pressure on those passing downs.

So which players could we see in green, should they go this route?

A wild card is Ed Oliver of Houston. He missed most of last year with an injury, had some bouts with immaturity and is a tad bit undersized (6-3, 285) to play inside in some schemes (there is some talk of him being an oversized middle linebacker). Draft projections have him all over the map, and reports are that the Eagles are intrigued. A one-time projected top 5-10 pick, he’d be a no-brainer at 25 but maybe not worth the risk to trade into the 15-20 range. That’s because there are other interior linemen to be had at 25, or even by trading back.

Names include a pair of Clemson stalwarts, 340-pound Dexter Lawrence and athletic Christian Wilkins (pictured together below), and Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State. Another option, oft-mocked to the Eagles, is 6-7 Jerry Tillery of Notre Dame, whose character matches his skill set.

Clemson DTs

As for defensive ends, highly productive players like Joe Jackson (Miami) and Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech, pictured below), who was brought in for a visit with the Eagles, could compete with Sweat if Long does not return.

One more name to keep in mind is Zach Allen of Boston College. At 6-4 and 280 pounds, it is unclear if he is best suited for inside or outside in the NFL. That perceived negative would be a positive for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who values versatility. Allen was productive in college (18.5 career sacks) and is known for his high motor. He’d be a reach at 25 and probably would be gone by later in the second round, but would be the type of system fit they could add with a trade back (like with Goedert last year).

jaylon-ferguson-louisiana-tech-1530389969

LINEBACKER: If there is any position of need, this might be it. With Jordan Hicks now in Arizona, Nigel Bradham is the only impact linebacker. Kamu Grugier-Hill would be the next man up, and there is also hope Nathan Gerry progresses. Behind them, there is newcomer L.J. Fort, who is more of a special teams ace than a full-time starter, and Paul Worrilow, a similar veteran who missed all of last season with a serious knee injury.

The Eagles could get by with a mix and match approach to buoy Bradham, who can play the middle but is more effective outside, or they can address it in the draft.

If the Eagles trade up in the first round, this could be where it happens. The top middle linebacker is clearly Devin White of LSU, but it would take a lot to get where they would need to be – somewhere in the 5-10 range (Detroit has put a for-sale sign on its No. 8 pick, for example) – to get him. Would they trade No. 25, one of the seconds and a second next year – or throw in, say, Agholor – to do it, though?

Next up, and also a plug-and-play talent, is Devin Bush (pictured below) of Michigan. There is a chance he slides to No. 25, but do the Eagles take that chance?  Another option would be to trade back into the early second round and consider Mack Wilson of Alabama.

After those three, the next group of middle linebackers are rated as either going late in the third round or early in the fourth. Without a third, and not picking until later in the fourth, that would not work without some maneuvering – or some luck.

A late-round steal could be Jahlani Tavai (pictured below) of Hawaii, who had about a million tackles for the Rainbows as a four-year starter. He has requisite size (6-3, 245) to match his tenacity, but his 4.75 speed could limit him to being a two-down player.

Tavai

If the Eagles wanted more of an athletic hybrid to play outside, Florida’s undersized Vosean Joseph (6-1, 226) could fall into the laps with one of the second round picks.

SECONDARY: This group incurs the wrath of the fans, but too many draft picks have been invested to realistically think another will be, right?

Well, maybe.

The Eagles have shown interest in some of the draft’s top corners – i.e. Byron Murphy (Washington) and DeAndre Baker (Georgia), while avoiding Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin like the plague – but that could be a smokescreen.  All they would be asking for are same growing pains, and bites on double moves, they already have with the young corners they have invested picks in the last few years.

There are some intriguing Day 3-type prospects, though, who could end up in whatever shade of green the Birds decide to wear. There has been a lot of buzz around Jimmy Moreland (James Madison, who showed up well against the big boys in the post-season but measured in at 5-11, 175 – not ideal in an era of bigger corners. Another smaller-than-ideal corner from a lower level is Washsburn’s Corey Ballantine (5-11, 198, pictured below), but he brings some return chops to the mix. Blace Brown, out of Troy, who finished his career with 12 interceptions. He has bloodlines – Herschel Walker’s nephew – but an ACL injury in December of 2017.

Corey-Ballantine-NFL

All we know is that Ronald Darby was brought back. Roseman went out of his way to give a vote of confidence to Sidney Jones, the second-round pick of two years ago who has had trouble staying healthy. They also have Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and late-season surprise Cre’von LeBlanc in the picture.

At safety, Rodney McLeod was one of several veterans to restructure his deal to stay put alongside Pro Bowler and team leader Malcolm Jenkins. Veteran Andrew Sendejo was brought in as a free agent to be the third safety, while Tre Sullivan also remains. They could add a safety of the future – Deionte Thompson (Alabama), Taylor Rapp (Washington), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida) or Nassir Adderley (Delaware) have been associated with the Eagles in some mock drafts – but there is also a question of if they view one of the young corners (Maddox, Douglas or Mills) as a safety down the road. Would they burn a Day 1 or 2 pick – or any pick – with the other needs mentioned above for what amounts to a luxury?

With Roseman, anything is possible.

He holds the cards.

Too Much PC Not OK

tiger-woods-3

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — This past Monday was the most manic of Mondays I’ve had in quite some time.

I emerged in such grumpy old man form that I may as well had been wearing a moldy cardigan sweater.

Set against the backdrop of the surreal Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, there were two other dueling issues I wished would go away.

There was Tiger Woods winning the Master’s Open.

And there was Pete Buttigieg officially throwing his hat into the ring of a million Democrats in the quest for the presidency.

I have nothing against Woods or Buttigieg, and I have nothing against the need for political correctness –especially in the era of your president (not mine) setting such a low bar for civility.

But I can’t help but think, in both cases, that we may be dealing with political correctness run amok.

While I regard golf as a four-letter word, it was a big deal when Woods lived up to his advance hype and won his first major tournament in 1997, but all I learned in a career of journalism was lost with a headline from a Philadelphia paper that read “Tiger Wins One For Us All.”

Did everyone – i.e. “us all” — win that day?

And, in those pre-Internet days of steadfast rules, first names in headlines were for middle school papers with faculty advisors who napped through production.

After a stretch of dominance in his “sport,” Woods fell into oblivion with physical and personal issues.

And yet, he remained the biggest name in the game. News reports would start with “Tiger (not Woods) is 17 strokes behind in 45th place after the second day of the XYZ Invitational” without even a mention of who was winning.

Because of his name – his brand, if you will – he stayed on tour long enough to hit a ball in a hole a few less times than everyone else last weekend.

Sorry, not quite the “comeback of the century” it was made out to be, and I’m willing to stray from the PC script to say it.

Meanwhile, the situation with Buttigieg is less benign, as the need to vanquish your president (not mine) grows by the tweet.

And being PC is not OK if we want to KO the current claimant of the presidency in 2020.

“Mayor Pete,” already drawing hecklers about his sexual orientation, is not the right choice – at least not right now.

And something tells me he will be.

Just like something told me your president (not mine) was going to be the GOP nominee. We were at a Loretta Lynn concert (yes, she is still alive) in Lancaster, and she said her son, Earl (eye roll), wanted to make a political statement.

He bellowed the name of your president (not mine), at which point a surprising roar came from the throng.

Cult 45 was alive and well.

Something similar happened recently, when Bill Maher didn’t make it all the way through Buttigieg’s last name of 1,001 pronouncements when the crowd erupted in raucous cheer.

Even though his platform is a bit Hillaryesque, “Mayor Pete” already has rock star status.

In a foot-shooting drill, PC-minded Democrats are so quick to show how enlightened they are that that they are not considering that the chances of this realistically working with a thick-headed national electorate that can’t see past the idea of the spouse of the president being a man.

I get it with “Mayor Pete,” I do. He is the antithesis of your president (not mine). With no alleged “bone spurs,” he actually went to war. He’s well-educated, well-spoken and insightful.

After the Notre Dame fire, for example, he went on French TV and spoke French in the interview.

Big change from a current “president” who butchers the English language, huh?

But he is also 37 and is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana — a small town in a middling state.

MayorPete

How about moving on to the Indiana governor’s mansion and/or the US Senate before taking a serious run at the White House when we are more open-minded?

The fear here is that he will get chewed up and spit out in a general election, thus ruining his promising brand so severely that it may take Tiger Woods-type comeback to be viable again.

And the embarrassment of another loss on the left will be pretty severe.

Democrats need to build a farm system as in baseball, with the likes of “Mayor Pete” and AOC as blue-chip prospects rising up through the ranks.

Putting this mayor – gay or straight – in the presidential race now would equate to promoting someone from single-A to the big leagues.

You’d root for the kid – you know, just to be PC – but he’d be overwhelmed.

Nominating the first openly gay man for president in 2020 could backfire into winning the PC battle just to lose the war in the quest for the larger and more pressing issues (health care, gun control, education, environment, etc.).

We’re past the point of trying to prove a point, as we are at the point of no return.

Any day of the week.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on April 21, 2019

Music Is In The Blood

My Chem

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE –– Sometimes it seems that there are two types of people in this world, and I don’t mean those who believe windmills cause cancer and those who know better.

It’s those who get Bruce Springsteen and those who don’t.

And I did everything in my power to have my own flesh and blood “get it,” but my turn at the plate ended while working a full count — and fouling off a few pitches for the sake of drama — before striking out, big-time.

The result? Sofia, now 12 going 21, is too set in her music-loving ways to open her heart and mind – let alone her headphone-covered ears – to the Boss.

The best chance at indoctrination came in September of 2016, when we took her to her first Springsteen concert at Lincoln Financial Field.

It was a moment I had dreamed about, except that everything that could have gone wrong did (in spite of a killer set list).

What would be the 33rd time I saw Springsteen live, and the first for Sofia, was also the first I left one of his shows early (fortunately, all we missed was a rendition of “Shout” and “Jersey Girl” in the final encore).

We got out of the packed parking lot quickly, too, but I am still carrying a heavy burden of guilt that missing a traffic jam can’t erase.

The guilt is religious in nature, even though I’m not a religious person.

I have experienced spirituality, with Springsteen concerts topping the list.

I have many converts to the Cult of Springsteen on my resume – including the wife — with concerts being the quickest route to saving souls.

With the one that mattered most, that of my Sofia, I failed.

She entered the show in question ambivalent and left miserable.

Hot and miserable.

The myth known as global warming was in full force, sending Sofia and her mommy to the first aid area several times to cool down (I still insist that if Chris Christie wasn’t one section over, there may have been some breathable air for the rest of us).

It’s almost like she still has PTSD from the experience – I guess dehydration will do that to a kid – and she shrieks at the sound of almost any Springsteen song for more than one chord progression (for non-music peeps, that’s not long).

The mission of mercy was nothing new.

For her own good, Sofia has been dragged to see a lot of other vintage acts.

That list includes Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Natalie Merchant, America, Gordon Lightfoot, Loretta Lynn, The Eagles and Paul McCartney.

Other than McCartney (the Beatles are universal) – and maybe Mellencamp – she was not too impressed.

Then again, I was not impressed when forced against my will as a kid to sit through some shows that made me just about break out into hives.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Sofia may not be interested in Springsteen or Dylan live – or fully understand why I cried like a baby when Tom Petty died — but the bands she now lives and breathes are making her just as passionate about her own thing.

I can work with that.

Just the other day, when a split second of a Britney Spears song accidentally came on, she changed the car radio to the Springsteen-only station (E Street Radio) on Sirius Radio.

“Even this (the Springsteen song, which I believe was a live version of “Dancing In The Dark”) is better than that (the Spears song),” she said, before quickly grabbing a CD from her meticulously alphabetized CD wallet that looks more like a suitcase that a stewardess would insist be placed in the overhead compartment of an airplane.

So, there is hope.

A lot of it, actually.

It is noteworthy that Sofia even recognizes Britney Spears, whose peak popularity predated her 2007 birth, and that she also knew instantly it was Springsteen she changed the channel to in her haste to escape Spears.

The bigger victory is that my little girl is as passionate about music as I was at the same age.

The apple doesn’t fall from the tree, even if when it tries to be a peach.

The only difference is that she knows every word of every song by My Chemical Romance and Twenty One Pilots, which I have been drafted to taking her to see in Atlantic City this summer, the way I once knew every word of every song by The Doors or The Cars.

She knows the life stories of the band members and, just like her father who never really grew up, searches for deeper meanings of the songs in a way that will also drive into trying her hand at writing her own.

While she swears she has not yet left Taylor Swift and Sabrina Carpenter in the dust, it is evident Sofia has moved on to a more alternative genre the way I did to Classic Rock from AM radio at her age.

“The only truth is music,” said beat writer Jack Kerouac.

My baby – and she’ll always be my baby (even at 12 going on 21) – knows the truth.

And the truth – whether you get Bruce Springsteen or not (or not yet) – can set you free.

 

Eggs That Went Over Hard

Rambo

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Mischief Night? For all the nights I went out looking to make mischief, I was never a big fan of feeling obliged to do it by stringing toilet paper around a tree.

And once I got hit the head with an egg from a passing car while walking down a street, I was a flat-out abolitionist.

But there is something about April Fool’s Day that gets my blood circulating.

Just one day, and so many fools in waiting, is too enticing to ignore.

The best playground for me has been Facebook, and I have pulled some good ones.

A few years ago, for example, I posted that a song I co-wrote was going to be recorded by Pat Benatar (I was flattered that so many believed it, unequivocally, that it pained me to drop the truth bomb).

Ditto when I posted I was just hired as the New York Times as a blogger.

This year, while I got a few people in private messages, I kind of swung and missed.

My morning “Movie of the Day” post of Ghostbusters as an all-time favorite, over the likes of The Godfather or Rocky, didn’t really get much mileage.

But it did get me thinking,

Wasting the time and money on a horrible movie, usually on the advice of others touting it, has made a fool out of me quite a few times, leaving me with more egg on my face than on that Mischief Night.

This has happened more times that I’d like to admit, with the common thread generally being comedies that didn’t make me laugh (I know better than to expect much from reboots and action/adventure nonsense).

Here are some examples:

1) Caddyshack – Maybe I’m being too hard on this one, but it’s all about where you are coming from as a viewer. I went to overnight camp every summer, so “Meatballs” from the same era connected. I got it. It rang true. Maybe if I grew up around country clubs and worked as a caddy or whatever, some of this 1980 offering would have been the slightest bit funny. Since my only experience around golf courses was on miniature golf courses, I was miserable trying to get through this. Plus, in full disclosure that you will see again on this list, any humor that involves the quest to kill an animal falls flat in Gordonville. The only redeeming quality was the theme song – “I’m Alright” – by Kenny Loggins.

2) Animal House – I know I’m in the minority here, but I’m still waiting to see the humor at what everyone else seems to think was a comedy classic. I like to laugh as much as the next guy, and I’m not trying to come across as an elitist, but this 1978 offering was an insult to every brain cell in my head.

3) A Fish Called Wanda – I knew my future wife was the girl for me when we saw this in a crowded theatre in 1988 and both couldn’t wait until this alleged comedy – complete with more animal cruelty for cheap laughs – would end (even though everyone around us was forcing laughter because of peer pressure). They say the running time was 109 minutes, but it felt like 109 years.

4) Ghostbusters – Another one that everyone said I had to see, so I followed the 1984 throng and saw it. Only thing worse was the theme song by Ray Parker Jr. (and we are talking about one of the worst songs ever recorded, so it’s not saying much).

5) A Taxing Woman – One more 1988 alleged gem that failed to shine, and I hang this one on the critics, all of whom seemed to be in collusion to tout this Japanese film that was made in more unwatchable by irritating background music.

6) Any of the Rambo Sequels – And it’s sad because the first in the series, “First Blood,” was not bad (fond memories of sneaking into the movie on a Friday night with my boys). While that one even descended in more explosions and less dialogue as it went along, it still had more “script” to it than all 19 sequels combined.

7) The Babe – For some reason, somebody thought there needed to be another movie made about Babe Ruth in 1992 and that John Goodman would be the right person to play him. Wrong and wrong, and Goodman has admitted as much himself after this 1992 flop.

8) Rocky IV – To be fair, I worked in an electronics store in the mid-to-late 1980s that sold this things called VCRs. We only had three movies to play: “Top Gun,” one of the forgettable “Back to the Future” movies and this fourth in the “Rocky” series that has since redeemed itself with “Rocky Balboa” and the two “Creed” movies. However, “Rocky IV” was, pun intended, rock bottom. It was heartbreaking to think what it had turned into after such a wondrous original, not to mention nauseating to watch 62 times a week.

9) The Godfather Part III – With the original being my all-time favorite and the second ranking third, behind only “Rocky,” nothing – not even bad reviews – was going to keep me from seeing it on opening night on Christmas Eve in 1990. I actually didn’t hate it, like the other movies on this list, but it was the biggest disappointment of my movie-going lifetime.

10) Vanilla Sky – in 2001, Cameron Crowe was set to direct a dream team cast – Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Kurt Russell – but dreams often turn to nightmares. I still don’t know what it was about, and I really don’t care.

This Column first appeared in The Times Herald on April 7.

 

Meet Bernie Sanders, Minority Candidate

Sanders

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – While it should seem like another needless diversion from the real issues that eat away at the heart of a nation teetering on the brink of a modern-day Civil War,

I’m willing to give the premature speculation about the 2020 election a pass right now.

The stakes are simply too high to ignore the conjecture.

One thing is clear, no matter how these news network talking heads try to spin it, they can’t do the dirty work and win over fickle hearts and minds.

California Sen. Kamala Harris and other female candidates – namely Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota – receive plenty of free airtime, but are failing to gain much traction in the polls.

These same polls show former vice president Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hovering up around 26-28 percent as co-leaders.

Even the appearance on the scene of Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke has not done much to alter this early horse race, one which also had the so-called experts quickly to decrying the lack of diversity.

They wonder, openly, about the problem of something other than “another old white man” trying to knock your president (not mine) off his good ‘ol boy perch.

What the experts are really trying to articulate is that the Democrats, if they want to rally the support that will result the necessary turnout in key swing states to stem the tide of madness, there must be a total flipping of the script with a candidate coming from out of the historical box.

In the case of Biden, I get it. He is an old-school Democrat who served, dutifully, as Obama’s second in command. But he has a long track record, and a lot of it is not only centrist but more than a bit Old White Mannish.

That leaves Sanders.

First, a disclaimer.

If you know me, you already know he is my chosen candidate going back to his unexpected serious challenge to Hillary Clinton.

Two points about Sanders that I want to point out, as I don’t hear them enough – if at all – when the field is evaluated.

He may be an “old white guy” in appearance, but he shouldn’t be easily passed off as such.

As exemplified by support among young voters, ranging from white college kids in the heartland to female Latinas in California, his ideas are perhaps the youngest of any candidate in the field.

And, while it may not PC – or convenient — to go there, he is also a minority, too.

If we felt the earth move and Sanders claimed both the nomination and the White House, he would be the first Jewish president.

And that would be quite an accomplishment, perhaps more than other groups (in the U.S., there are more women than men, for example, and more women of color than total Jews).

Because of decades of intermarriage, it is impossible to pin down exactly how many Jews there are in the United States, but the number is believed to be in the range of 5.5 and 8 million.

That sounds like a lot until you break it down to its percentage – somewhere between 1.7 and 2.6 percent of the total population.

His serious run for the White House was made even remarkable considering he did well where the Jewish population is not heavily concentrated.

Sanders won in states where he may have been the first Jew most residents had seen outside of maybe a Seinfeld rerun.

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I’m talking about Oklahoma and North Dakota and West Virginia, where Jews make up 0.1 percent of the population (he barely lost South Dakota, where there are less than Jews, around 250, than there are at the King of Prussia mall right now).

Flukes? How about Utah and Wyoming, where Jews make up a whopping 0.2 percent of the population. He won those – and several others — with percentages around 1 percent.

This was one of the biggest untold stories of the last primary season, and it shouldn’t be hushed up again.

Jews have suffered their own unique forms of persecution and degradation in their American experience, and it is far from a thing of the past.

Anti-Semitic incidents are way up during the era of your president (not mine), as we have the chants of Charlottesville ringing in our ears and the shooting up of Pittsburgh synagogue last October weighing on our hearts.

All the talk about women candidates, including women candidates of color, is important. O’Rourke comes in the side door as at least a young white guy trying to draw JFK comparisons.

Sanders, unlike Biden, is unique in many ways.

He is an Independent, as a Democratic Socialist from a small New England state (where Jews make up 1 percent of the population). He is older, yes, but attracts the aforementioned young voters who don’t seem to care about his ethnicity.

But the media should care – if only because a possible election would make history as much as that of a woman or someone else of another ethnic group trying to prove that anyone but an old white man can grow up to be president.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on March 31, 2019.

 

The Worth of Words

Words Matter

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — A lot has happened in the wake of the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

That nation’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – yes, one of 25 elected female leaders around the world — said “our gun laws will change.”

“Our” means “theirs,” not “ours.”

Despite way more mass shootings – defined as four casualties (fatalities or injuries) – our leaders mislead us toward generic thoughts and prayers and said it’s “too soon” to talk about gun control.

Then they wait us out, until emotions are quelled and they can double down on an arcane interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, New Zealand – which already has strong gun laws in place — used one incident, with 51 fatalities, to vow to do more about gun control than we have with all those thoughts and prayers put together.

The Australian mass murderer, a sworn white nationalist so devoid of remorse that he flashed a white power symbol through shackled paws, had a manifesto praising – among others – your president (not mine).

That is not insignificant.

And it is not new.

In 2017, in Quebec City, Alexander Bissonette killed six in a mosque in Quebec City. The follow-up investigation revealed a fascination with your president (not mine).

When they say the POTUS – no matter who is in the chair — takes on the role of leader of the free world, this is why.

It is an awesome responsibility, and words matter more than, say, the leader of Uzbekistan or Albania.

Your president (not mine) insists upon all the absolute power that he thinks comes with the position, but none of the responsibility riding shotgun with words mattering to the point that it can be a matter of life and death.

And not just in New Jersey or New Mexico, but in New Zealand or Newfoundland.

Whether it is inciting violence abroad or at home – or issuing thinly veiled threats about who will be on his side in an armed domestic struggle — it is conduct unworthy of the office to act like a drunkard on a bar stool looking for a fight before last call.

Take it from someone who watches “The Sopranos” on a continual loop. Tony Soprano has 10 times more tact as a mob boss than your president (not mine) as King Pompous on his throne.

Scoff if you must, but consider the response when asked to comment on the tragedy – in a country that he probably couldn’t find on a map — your president (not mine) sent in the punt team and flew by the seat of his hindquarters.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” he said.

Other than that, this response was … very, very … huh … pathetic.

Not to mention hypocritical.

How so?

This is the same misleader of the free world who raises the vigilance level against all Muslims when statistics not only show a small percentage (roughly 6-8 percent, depending on the source) are radicalized to some extent.

And nothing legitimizes it better than when he fans the flames, making himself the radical Muslims best recruiting tool.

Think about the “logic” your president (not mine) uses for his babyish insistence on building a wall at the Mexican border and for putting separating children from the parents and putting them in cages.

He says it is all about crime, but undocumented workers commit crimes at a much lower rate than current citizens (56 percent fewer criminal convictions, according a study published in the Washington Post).

He cites drugs, when the vast amount of drugs come in from ports of entry (i.e., 25 kilos seized the other day at Port of Philadelphia).

For these pet projects/peeves, he twists stats for his own use when preaching to his unknowing choir.

When it comes to backing a car into a crowd of counter protesters on the streets of Charlottesville, shooting worshipers inside a black church in South Carolina or a synagogue in Pittsburgh — or mosques around the world — it is all conveniently dismissed as random.

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Since his followers like his plain and simple talk, let’s keep in that tongue.

Plain and simple: We have a white man in the White House who, by Making America White Again, made some with “serious problems” feel empowered enough to act out.

Your president (not mine) may not want to own it – he rarely does – but the deed is in his name.

The FBI reported last year that hate crimes rose for the third straight year, with white nationalists leading the way.

All the while he referred to himself as a “nationalist.”

Say what?

In a job with enormous consequences, one where words matter, it is just another glaring example of poor usage of language that will inevitably have consequences down the line.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald  on March 25, 2019.

Nothing New to See Here

Dubyah

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — While the talking heads on the tube were all aghast at the news of ultra-rich people scamming to get their kids into “elite” schools, I’ll pulled my shoulders out of my sockets – again – with a shrug.

As long as Bruce Springsteen wasn’t implicated, which I highly doubted, I was good.

And really, the news was not news at all.

It certainly wasn’t breaking news, largely because this drill of our culture catering to lifestyles of the rich and famous has left us all broken.

The rich getting over, usually at the expense of the poor, is one of the world’s oldest professions – right up there with, well, the world’s oldest profession.

I’m reminded of a line in the movie “Platoon” where the Charlie Sheen character, Taylor, is admonished by a black soldier, King, that, “the poor are always getting (bleeped) over by the rich. Always have. Always will.”

Emphasis on always.

As in always.

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It’s a reason I don’t get into tongue-clucking mode when a kid from a poor or middle class background gets a 6-year, $11 trillion contract — with a $34.5 billion guaranteed signing bonus – to put a ball through a hoop or hit a ball with a wood club over a fence from some filthy rich owner trying to outbid other filthy rich owners.

Turnabout, in these rare instances, is fair play.

But these are rare instances.

For the most part, it is the other way around, and we should not be surprised by the latest scam.

Maybe the national networks saw it as a chance to talk about something other than All the President’s Men II, but it is really all connected.

While your president (not mine) signs bills to be unforgiving with the student loan debt that almost all of the rest of us needed to keep literal pace with the Joneses, let’s look at his disloyal highness as a prime example.

He got into Penn (after a stint at Fordham).

How did that happen?

It’s all a bit murky, but Penn clearly seems less than boastful about an alum in the White House than he is about being a Penn alum in the White House.

Though barely remembered by professors or fellow students, he somehow walked away on his bone spurs with an economics degree (transcript sealed).

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And his kids – the spawn of the bible-signing devil – all managed to gain entry into elite schools: Donald Jr. (Penn), Ivanka (Georgetown, Penn), Eric (Georgetown) and Tiffany (Penn, Georgetown).

Meanwhile, our first lady entered America on an Einstein visa (insert laugh track).

George W. Bush? Not quite the sharpest tool in anyone’s shed, and yet he went to Yale.

There are pictures of “Dubya” as a male cheerleader, so there is more evidence of involvement in student life that that of your president (not mine), but you still have to wonder how he landed there – given the fact that he is, well, him.

“Dubya” – despite a middling 77 average at Yale – moved on to Harvard Business School.

See, there was an open rule on the books that students were grandfathered into these place based on bloodlines – as in blood of the blue variety.

A rule? Yes, a rule. Talk about an exclusive country club where the poor kids earn their way in on tips from parking the cars.

George H.W. Bush went to Yale. So did his father before him, Prescott Bush.

Sensing a pattern here?

And it’s not limited to just Republicans.

The Kennedys all went to Harvard (Ted even got booted for cheating and then somehow reemerged after a military stint).

The difference, as opposed to the current “first” family, is that they were clearly edified enough by their Ivy League schooling to master critical and nuanced thinking skills.

There are zillions of more examples of how rich people made sure their offspring, deserving or not, were inserted into the race a few laps ahead of a field trying to run it honestly.

On its face, creating something better for the next generation — if only in enlightenment — is at the soul of what’s left of the American dream.

Anything beyond that, and we see how badly the system is broken.

This new twist on it, though fairly elaborate and so slimy that it makes you want to take a shower just from reading the sordid details, is nothing new.

Simply put, it involved a whole lot of cheating and bribing – all under the guise of money going to charity.

Sounds bad, and it is bad.

But is it any worse than when poor kids went to fight in Vietnam while the rich kids went to college (or their daddies paid to have them diagnosed with mystery ailments like bone spurs)?

Any worse than serving from 1968-74 in the Air Force and somehow never setting foot in Vietnam (i.e. “Dubyah”)?

Any worse than working people paying twice as much than the wealthy in taxes?

Any worse than traitor Paul Manafort, and his so-called “blameless life” of turning American dreams into Russian schemes, getting a lighter prison sentence than a poor person – especially of color — would for a lesser crime?

Yeah, this one had intrigue – with some celebrity names to make it tawdry – but let’s be real.

It is neither new nor news.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on March 17.