Category Archives: Pet Peeves

No Treats For These Tricksters

Teen Trick2



GORDONVILLE – What you do in your own hometown is your own business. If you want to contribute to the moral decay of our culture, I can’t stop you.

Here in Gordonville, though, there will be a zero tolerance for Halloween 2015 – which also happens to be Halloween 8.0 for Sofia (for the record, she couldn’t decide between between a witch or a Native American girl, so she is going to be a Native American witch).

While other Temple alums were celebrating like it was VE Day when it was announced that the unbeaten Owls would be facing traditional power Notre Dame at 8 p.m., as the featured game of the week, I felt a little piece of myself die inside.

And when I explained it to Sofia, she gave me those eyes – and you dads with daughters know what I’m talking about – and asked me, “but aren’t I more important than a football game, daddy?”

And for emphasis, she reminded about DVR.

Not the same, though. I mean, navigating our development and taking candy – half of which she’ll have to toss because of her peanut allergy anyway – while knowing the game is going on is just going to eat away at me faster than Chris Christie devouring a meatball sandwich.

My best bet is get her to move fast – and we moved pretty fast last year, so much so that my mother fell on her butt (scary at the time but funny now) trying to keep pace – and then turn the reins over the better half while I make it home for kickoff.

The issue, of course, is the home front. We usually leave candy out with a “Help Yourself” sign while taking Sofia around, and then we do it in person once one of us – and it will be this year – gets “tired.”

By 8 p.m. the rush should be pretty much over.

But it won’t be.

And then we have the criminal element — the ones who will get the door slammed in the faces if they ring the bell.

You know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about teens – usually boys – who are too goofy to be invited to any age-appropriate co-ed parties and who ruin what is intended for the little ones.

Some look old enough to be driving house to house, and it wouldn’t be surprising to learn they are (a moving violation in Gordonville). They violate other Gordonville ordinance by barely wearing anything resembling a costume, and barely muttering a proper “trick or treat.”

You extend the basket of candy. Instead of taking two or three items, they scoop up a dozen (as if that’s going to help their skin conditions clear up).

Then, they leave without a thank you.

It’s not my fault these I-Don’t-Wanna-Grow-Up kids don’t have a life. Go get one on your own time. Leave me out of it.

I blame the parents!

The Gordonville PD has let it slide in the past, but not this year.

Not when Temple is playing one of the biggest games in program history.



The Curse of Old Dirty Knee




GORDONVILLE – I tried being Superman.

It didn’t work out too well.

It was that day in first grade when we got wear our Halloween costumes to school, and the Man of Steel was my superhero of choice.

There may be no comic book chronicling this adventure but Superman’s Kryptonite on this day was the double-knot on the back of the Woolworth’s get-up. While going to the little boys’ room, it didn’t come untied before a calamity occurred.

To raised eyebrows of classmates, I returned as Peter Pan – same as Kindergarten –that afternoon.

Although my grandmother’s first cousin created the Green Lantern, and pretty much got screwed out of royalties, my forever match to anyone sounding like a comic-book hero is, fittingly, out of the music world.

That would be Adam Ant, who scored a hit in 1982 – more than a decade after the Superman costume dried out — with the song “Goodytwoshoes.”

The otherwise forgettable new wave ditty featured the memorable line: “Don’t drink, don’t smoke – What do you do?”

That’s pretty much me these days.

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke.

For that matter, I don’t play golf or hunt or fish or hike or play poker with the boys.

What do I do?

I obsess over things I can’t control.

A lot of things I can’t control.

The list is so long that I can only go partial here:

-Snowstorms on days when you can’t stay home;

-Walking the dog in the rain (unless you don’t mind him pulling a “Superman”);

-People talking behind my back (probably about my dwelling on things I can’t control);

-People stabbing me in the back (probably because I act too much like Julius Caesar);

-A tick giving me Lyme Disease;

– iTunes changing the rules so that you need to give up your first born to shuffle songs;

– My real first-born, Sofia, having her feelings hurt at school and …

-The Philadelphia Eagles.

No matter what I want them to do, it seems that those Birds – with the brains to match — are going to do what they want anyway.

And the years pass, leaving me at 44th anniversary of Superman’s most embarrassing moment, without the one thing I want most from the wild world of sports – a Super Bowl title for my Birds.

Just one.

Not two in a row. Not three in four years.

Just one.

But it remains elusive.

I have been a fan for long, long time.

How long? My first game by my father’s side was at Franklin Field in 1970, making Lincoln Financial Field my third stadium.

In second grade, I traded in my Superman outfit for an Eagles uniform – the one with the white helmet and green wings – and went accident-free that Halloween of 1972.

I have been through too many owners and coaches to name, dreadful seasons and many where they were just good enough to not be quite good enough.

In the last 25 years, as I have grown into an alleged adult, the Eagles have had the best record in football — for teams who haven’t won the Super Bowl, that is.

My mantra has been to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

I protect myself in a veil of pessimism, trying to elude jinxes by exuding negativity.

This approach as kept me semi-sane.

But I went another way this year. I went public on and predicted the Eagles would win it all this year.

And now, as it seems highly unlikely, I’m going for a ride on the crazy train.

I really had no basis for this out-of-character prognostication, other than that we were due.

And after Temple beat Penn State at the Linc, eliciting real post-game tears and leading to an item a notch below a Super Bowl win coming off my Sports Bucket List, I threw caution to the wind.

Hell had already frozen over, I surmised, so why not continue skating unfettered on the Pond of Dreams through the NFL the season?

Yeah, why not?

Well, because we have to consider the very real possibility that the Eagles are living under some sort of curse.

That’s why not.

It has become abundantly clear that the ice in hell was meant for only one bird, that being the Owl of my alma mater, and the wounded wings of the Eagles.

The 2015 Eagles now look more like Dream Team 2.0 (a reference to the 2011 Eagles that loaded up on free agents and failed to make the playoffs) than the one that will theoretically make my dreams come true.

While I don’t like to get my hands dirty – proven by the fact that I got a D-minus in Archaeology 101 while suffering from a bad case of Senioritis at Temple – I decided to go on my own dirt-free dig to get to the bottom of the source of the curse.

If all those annoying Bostonians can point to the selling of Babe Ruth to the Yankees – so that the team’s owner, Harry Frazee, could finance a musical called “No, No, Nanette” (no, no kidding … that was the title) – we can find something to that put a hex over our most beloved, and irksome, franchise, too.

The Eagles won titles in 1948 and 1949 and again in 1960, so the curse had to come shortly thereafter.

If JFK was assassinated here, we’d be set, but he wasn’t. He was shot dead in Dallas. How many Super Bowls the friggin’ Cowboys have won?

Five. That’s how many. Five.

See what I mean? Not that easy.

I came up with two finalists to match the since-broken “Curse of the Bambino” in Boston: “The Curse of the Dutchman” and “The Curse of Old Dirty Knee.”

It seems 1960 quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, aka The Dutchman, was promised the head coaching job here the following year but the promise was not kept.

Sounds plausible. A broken promise. A broken heart. Broken dreams for decades to follow.

But the numbers – like negative turnover ratio — don’t add up to a spiked ball in the end zone.

Van Brocklin did get his chance to coach in the NFL and the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback will not be confused with Vince Lombardi. He coached the Minnesota Vikings from 1961 to 1966 and the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 to 1974 and got the playoffs just once. His career record: 66-100-7.

All due respect to the last guy to quarterback a team in this town to the Promised Land — not counting Chuck Fusina and Philadelphia Stars of the USFL or Willy Whoever and the Philadelphia Soul of the AFL — but we were probably better off.

That brings us to theory No. 2. Van Brocklin’s backup in 1960 was Sonny Jurgensen, whose primary role in 1960 was to hold for placekicker Bobby Walston (also the tight end, who kicked straight-ahead with more accuracy than Caleb Sturgis). That job earned him the short-lived moniker of Old Dirty Knee (only part of his uniform that got dirty was his knee from holding the ball).

Jurgensen got to take his place under center in 1961 and responded with 32 touchdown passes (still a franchise record that likely won’t be broken any time soon). For reasons that remain as mysterious as why Sam Bradford was seen as an upgrade over Nick Foles, Jurgensen was traded in 1964 to the Washington Redskins for a cornerback named Claude Crabb (I couldn’t make that up) and quarterback Norm Snead.

While Crabb was here for two seasons, ringing up a grand total of zero of his 10 career interceptions, Snead was an OK quarterback (think Mark Sanchez) on teams that ran the gamut from middling to hideous.

He actually scored the first touchdown of the game on a scramble when I made my aforementioned trip to Franklin Field in 1970 (a 35-20 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals). Snead made a Pro Bowl in 1972 (after moving on from the Eagles to the New York Giants, of course) but he was no Sonny Jurgensen, who was selected to the 1960s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983 after retiring in 1974.

And speaking of Lombardi, who made his household name in Green Bay (his only loss in a championship game was to the 1960 Eagles), he finished his career in Washington with Jurgensen as his quarterback. The legendary coach, for whom the elusive Super Bowl trophy is named, said Jurgensen was the best quarterback he had seen.

Note Jurgensen, not Norm Snead.

Ouch. It hurts my fingers just to type that.

Sure, opinions are like teeth, everybody has them until they fall out, at which point you are too old to really care anymore.

This is mine, the trade of an all-time great quarterback for a guy named Claude Crabb and a Tier II signal-caller named Norm Snead.

Forget the whiz and onions. Put that in your cheese steak and eat it.

We are now living under the Curse of Old Dirty Knee.

It sounds like a Spaghetti Western, but it is unfolding in the shadow of cash-only spaghetti restaurants in South Philly.

How do we break the curse?

Better call Superman.

A real one, not a first-grader who can’t untie the back of his costume.



Memo to NFL: Keep The Change




GORDONVILLE – Is one’s gut instinct always the best?

Let’s put it to the test.

When my Internet trolling led me to the headline that that NFL was about to convene to consider more rules changes, my gut screamed “nooooooo” … kind of like your pooch running into the street with a bus coming. (This actually happened the other day, but said school bus was stopping anyway and Rex did a U-turn and came back on his own, realizing that a walk was no fun without yanking my shoulder from its socket).

If there is anything the NFL doesn’t need, it is more rules about its rules – unless they are passing a rule banning future rule changes (except one to address my pet peeves of players showing up officials by making official gestures for what they think should be called and announcing whole teams, instead of individual starters, at games).

But upon further review, not all proposed rule changes are created equally. With that – presuming you can put down your NCAA bracket, seeing if one school you couldn’t find on a map beat another one you never heard of before and never will again – join this mad scientist in his lab as he places the proposed changes under the microscope.

Here is the list of the 13 proposed changes:

1.  Move kickoffs to the 40-yard line, from the 35, where they are now.

Reaction: Well, this would bode well for touchback-challenged Alex Henery, the Eagles’ kicker, but it seems a bit extreme. It didn’t seem too long ago that the league moved kicks from the 40 to the 35 to avoid touchbacks (I remember lining my men up at the 40 in electric football). Hey, NFL, let’s cut to the chase. You want to take kickoffs out of the sport? Just do it then. I grow weary of your foolishness.

2. Making all personal fouls reviewable.

Reaction: About time! (Note: I don’t come by exclamation point easily, either.)

3. Eliminating overtime in preseason games.

Reaction: I shouldn’t even comment, because this is a done deal. It’s more about time and money than the risk of injury, despite how it will be spun. Honestly, since I’m certifiable, I enjoy preseason games. It’s only rookies and journeyman on the roster bubble who are playing that late in the game anyway, so why not have a chance to get a longer looksee at them? I get the final preseason game, when rosters have been trimmed, so maybe only have overtime in the first two preseason games. In the third, maybe if one or other teams have already been in one, then they can opt out of it.

4. Extending the goalposts vertically by 5 feet on each side.

Reaction: Hey, why not have them moving, too. It can like a game at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

5. Moving extra-point attempts to the 25-yard line, making it a 43-yard try. (This was proposed by the Patriots.) The competition committee separately is proposing one preseason game this season where extra-point snaps will take place from the 20.

Reaction: Proposed by the Patriots, because they are annoying like that, this is a bit extreme. I can live with the counter-proposal of the competition committee to make a preseason the guinea pig, but only from the 20. Maybe the whole idea will die a slow death from there.

6. Adding six cameras to all boundary lines on the field to supplement TV camera angles.

Reaction: The more eyes, the better.

7. Allowing any officials’ decisions to be challenged by coaches, not just specific kinds of plays.

Reaction: This goes to a deeper issue. The league needs to re-evaluate how its games are officiated. The old methods, in a changing sport, are increasingly inefficient. This would be a start. Not a destination, but the start of a journey.

8. Protecting players from getting their legs rolled up on from the side — and not just from the back — as a penalty.

Reaction: Since this happens by accident most of the time, I’m not sure how it can be regulated, but leave it to the NFL to fake concern about injuries with rules that will affect outcomes of games and not reduce injuries at the same time.

9. Allowing the referee to confer with members of the NFL officiating department in New York at the league office during replay reviews.

Reaction: Stealing from the NHL again, eh? Be careful what you wish for, as those Canucks north of the border need some fine-tuning as well (just ask the Flyers). That aside, absolutely.
10. Changing review rules on the recovery of a loose ball — aka, the “NaVorro Bowman rule” from the controversial NFC championship game non-call — in the field of play.

Reaction: Yes, yes, yes. Pet peeve of mine for years. This would necessitate an overdue reorganizing the replay section of the NFL rulebook, meaning two for the price of one.

11. Keeping the clock running on quarterback sacks at all times of the game.

Reaction: Ok … why?

12. Changing pass interference so that it can be called within a yard of the line of scrimmage.

Reaction: Something to consider, but it doesn’t seem like a pressing matter.

13. Enforcing defensive penalties behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, instead of from the end of the play or from the spot of the foul.

Reaction: Never quite understood why it is done how it is now in the first place, so … come on with it.

The Pesky Bylaws

The above are all on the field of play. What also intrigued me, and hit at some questions I have longed to see answered, are off-the-field issues that will be addressed this week at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Here is a look at the few being bandied about that won’t put you to sleep:

1. Raising the number of active players on game-day roster from 46 players to 49 for non-Sunday or Monday regular-season games, excluding Week 1. The league has Thursday games throughout the season, as well as some late-season Saturday contests.

Reaction: I have a major issue with Thursday night games to begin with, and rarely – if ever – is there a well-played one (at least by both teams). And the league, claiming to have an interest in player safety, has major cojones to even have Thursday games for teams who aren’t coming off their bye weeks. The human body wasn’t meant to play football on a Sunday and again on a Thursday. So, yeah. Heck, yeah. Not the ultimate solution, but at least it is the recognition of a problem.

2. Raising the practice squad roster size from eight to 10 players.

Reaction: There are rumblings of a new spring league, the A11FL, so player development is essential. Why not? No downside.

3. Allowing teams to test and time up to 10 draft prospects at their own facilities, and allowing any rival team to come witness the testing and timing at the other team’s facilities.

Reaction: This is a snoozer, and was not going to make the final cut here, but it was proposed by your Philadelphia Eagles. Way to be on it, boys.

4. Allowing a team with a retractable roof to open or close its stadium roof at halftime, and not having to determine before the game whether it will be open or closed.

Reaction: Makes sense in theory, but it opens the door to controversy.

Welcome to the big-time.

This column originally appeared at

The Lame Gang


Pet Peeve: UMC Suburbanites — white, Asian, black, brown, green — throwing around gang signs in their social media pictures. You want to be urban? Here’s a idea. We can go on a little field trip. We’ll pile on a bus and let you all out in the Badlands of North Philly or in Watts, collect your cell phones and make you get off the bus. We’ll back in 48 hours. Enjoy, yo!