Category Archives: Sports

The Witch Hunt of Kate Smith

kate-smith-1

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There are some true American heroes that, for one reason or another, don’t quite receive their just place in in the history books.

A few who come to mind are Thomas Paine, Susan B. Anthony and Woody Guthrie.

Another is Paul Robeson, a true Renaissance man if there ever was one.

As a black man born in 1898, he seemed to either break down barriers – or get around them – with an uncommon ease and grace for his time when mutual respect between races, and ethnic groups, barely existed.

One of the first blacks to attend Rutgers, he endured physical punishment from prospective teammates to earn a place on the football team.

Robeson was also on the debating team, honing skills that would serve him well with a lifetime of political activism that later got him blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

Although he earned a law degree from Columbia, Robeson became a successful stage actor and singer, leaving behind a long discography while engaging in social activism.

Why do I bring up Robeson, other than because he should not be forgotten by time?

Because one of his recordings was a song titled “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.”

The lyrics of this song, written by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, are beyond offensive and blatantly racist.

But Robeson still recorded the song, which would seem to be an off choice for someone of such steadfast conviction about who and what he was.

However, research reveals the song was meant as a satirical jab at racists (one of the writers, Brown, was Jewish and likely keenly aware of prejudice).

In that context, it is a poke right through the eyes of their white hoods of the many out-in-the-open Klan members of the time period.

The Marx Bros. also referenced the song in the movie “Duck Soup.”

And Kate Smith recorded it as well in 1931 (the same year as Robeson).

Although it was recorded as recently as 1970 by satirical song master Randy Newman, who once wrote and sang how “short people have no reason to live” to make a point, it seems that only Smith will be punished.

Since Smith has been dead for 33 years, there is no way to know if she was performing the song for reasons other than that of Robeson or Newman.

But unlike them, she has been posthumously singled out and put on trial like a Salem witch – without a chance to defend herself or her motives – as both the hometown Flyers and New York Yankees, a team so reluctant to sign black players that they reportedly passed on Willie Mays, have taken steps to make sure the singer of “God Bless America” is vanquished from history.

Truth be told, the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 – and again in 1975 – was a highlight of my wayward youth. The whole Kate Smith thing – the playing of “God Bless America” and her showing up in person before Game 6 of the finals in 1974 to belt out the song – was a bit silly to me (and I was the ripe old age of nine).

The fact that the Flyers erected a statue of her was embarrassing, but taking it down – now – is beyond mortifying.

Left in the place of where the statue once stood, we have yet another downright blatant case of political correctness run amok.

In the final analysis, this is more about what is or isn’t fair when dealing with what I regard as the most valued possession any person has, that being their legacy.

Yes, Smith also sang “Pickaninny Heaven,” another song – one she dedicated to children in a black orphanage to “cheer them up” — with offensive lyrics (watermelons and such) that was yanked off YouTube (and yet we can still watch the alleged cinematic masterpiece, “Birth of a Nation,” whenever we want).

These ignominious events caused me to research Smith a bit more, and I found nothing – as in zero – that the woman held any racist views.

After World War II, in terms of social and political stances, she was a non-entity.

At worst, she was a product of her time. More than likely, as time passed, she was embarrassed by the poor song choices made for her to sing.

And, in her prime years, keeping pace with the hit parade was a grind. You had to keep cranking out song after song, or someone else would take the same song and have a hit with it instead.

Considering artists don’t have much say or control today, they certainly didn’t back then.

Smith’s parents scoffed at her career aspirations and wanted her to become a nurse, but she chose a career as a singer. It was make it or break it. If someone said “sing this, it will be a hit,” she sang it.

That’s not an excuse, and maybe she could have risen above it all, but there are more egregious acts that are overlooked.

Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford, for example, were vehement anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers who opposed our entry in World War II.

No statues of Lindbergh are being torn down, and plenty of people – myself included – drive Fords.

Walt Disney was purported to be a bigot, and yet people – of all creeds – pour into his resorts.

Andrew Jackson was responsible for heinous policies against Native Americans, and yet he remains on the $20 bill.

Many of the founding fathers – including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – owned slaves.

Their legacies remain untarnished.

But not that of Kate Smith.

Sounds like fodder for a song – one that a man with the character of Paul Robeson would have been proud to sing.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on April 28, 2019.

 

Another Mock for the Mockery

Simmons

 By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The smart money is on the Eagles drafting Alabama running back Josh Jacobs in the first round Thursday night.

The rumor mill is now spitting out the name of mercurial wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown as being linked the Birds.

Nay, I say.

I’d be shocked if the brain trust – Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, Doug Pederson and the senior scouts and most valued assistant coaches – didn’t lay it on the line at pick No. 25.

That’s if they even stay at No. 25, as it is just as likely they either move up 5-10 spots or drop back as far as the early second round and pick up additional picks.

Since my request to have the phones at the NovaCare Complex tapped was denied, I’m not privy to what conversations with other franchises may or may not be going on.

So we will stick the board as currently constructed and take a run at a Mock Draft, which will be a delicate combination of who I would take in my dream job as Eagles’ GM and who they are likely to take based on past tendencies.

Away we go:

First Round (Pick 25) – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

I think this is guy, I always he would be the guy and I would be shocked if the 340-pounder (give or take a few in either direction) would not be the guy. While boasting a larger-than-life personality in the spirit of Jerome Brown, Lawrence is similar to Brown in the sense that he is more than just a run-stuffer. At the NFL level, he will at least collapse the pocket enough to make the life of his fellow linemen easier. And if their lives are easier, so will those of the linebackers and secondary. Meanwhile, in a division where your team faces Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott twice a year, another run-stuffer is not a luxury.

Dexter

Second Round (Pick 53) – Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

With a knee injury that will likely keep him out of action for most of the season, this would be a red-shirt selection of a guy with first-round talent whose stock may have dropped a bit anyway because of character concerns. Eagles’ fans are rightfully wary of this whole scenario because cornerback Sidney Jones, taken under similar circumstances in Round 2 in 2017, has yet to stay healthy and really do much. However, each situation needs to be judged on its own merit.  This would be a case of stealing a Top-15 talent and storing him up for later. There is no reason to rush Simmons, who could also use the year to soak up the mature culture of a NFL locker room anyway. Some mocksters still have Simmons going in the window of the late first round to early second, and he still might, but I have been following this stuff for too many years to see it happening.

Second Round (Pick 57) – Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech

Whether or not Chris Long retires, and even if last year’s fourth-round pick Josh Sweat emerges, more depth is needed here around starters Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. While Vinny Curry has flown back to the nest, he is likely to be used a lot inside on passing downs. He’s 6-5 and will likely play at 260-265 has a NFL-ready burst off the edge that will give teams fits when coming fresh off the bench into games on obvious passing downs.

Fourth round (Pick 127) – Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

Anderson, when healthy, is one of the most talented backs in this draft. Despite three season-ending injuries, he could be snatched up on Day 2 (second or third round) by a team enamored by tape from his 2017 season that saw him use his cutback skills to accumulate 1,442 yards and 18 touchdown and look good doing it with his long and strong 6-1, 220-pound frame. Since the Eagles have the committee in place behind newly acquired starter Jordan Howard, there would be no reason to rush Anderson into action.

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Fourth Round (Pick 138) – Ross Pierschabacher, C/G, Alabama

Out goes Stefen Wisniewksi, in comes another player with a name worthy of the final round of a spelling and who sports similar characteristics. While it is presumed the Eagles will be looking for a tackle in the draft, my gut tells me they will look more toward the interior and spend another year evaluating Halapoulivaati Vatai and Jordan Mailata as long-term solutions before spending draft capital on another. Wisniewski’s departure via free agency, Brandon Brooks coming off a knee injury and Jason Kelce hinting that the end of his career his nearing makes the interior a more pressing need. And while their paths did not cross at Alabama, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s blocking schemes are still used there, easing any learning curve – assuming one is even needed for a player who started 42 games at guard for the Crimson Tide before sliding over to center last year.

Fifth Round (Pick 163) – Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia

This pick may be off the grid a bit, as the Eagles boast an excellent 1-2 punch at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but the 270-pound Wesco is a freakish athlete for his size who may just be scratching the surface. Conceivably, he could line up at tight end while Ertz and/or Goedert line up in the slot. And if someone does a Vulcan mind meld with Pederson, convincing to use a fullback, Wesco would be epic in that role. Plus, last year’s draft was the first since Roseman return from exile that a player from West Virginia was not drafted.

SIXTH ROUND (Pick 197) – Jahlani Tavai, MLB, Hawaii

He may prove to be just a core special teams guy at the NFL level, but the Eagles would be pulling off a major heist is the best defensive player to come out of Hawaii in ages continued showing the knack for the football that led to him collecting 391 career tackles, including 41 for a loss, and 17 ½ sacks in his career. There is also an arrest charge in his file, which hurt his draft stock but may help the team that grabs him late.

Tavai

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

CBS, NFL Take Wrong Turn

Medical Grass

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — So here we are.

The national holiday known as Super Bowl Sunday.

But there is not much to celebrate here in the mythical town of Gordonville, where Main Street has been gentrified with used record stores and all-night diners.

Last year? Yes. This year? No.

When the game ends, and the Lombardi Trophy is handed to the winning team (my prediction is the Patriots in a walk), it will officially end the reign as champions for our Eagles.

A year ago, and unlike Super Bowl 39 (I don’t believe in Roman numerals, as we are not in Rome, although the fall of that empire and our own is eerily similar), I didn’t attend in person.

I was at the best place in the world. A house of a friend with a roomful of diehards totally fixated on the game (with the local broadcast on the radio and the volume of the TV, with the irksome network crew, turned down).

I get chills now – I am, right now – thinking about how the room erupted when Brandon Graham stripped Tom Brady and Derek Barnett fell on the ball.

When Brady’s Hail Mary pass fell to the ground, I made my way out of the room and sat by myself and cried like a baby for a good five minutes.

What can top that?

Not much, not even another Eagles’ title – although they are more than welcome to win it all again whenever they’d like before I am in my rocking chair with two or three marbles rattling around upstairs.

So here we are.

The following year.

There will still be plenty of those Super Bowl parties, which I abhor almost as much people who make snide global warming remarks whenever it’s below freezing where they happen to be drawing air that particular day.

These are really the polar opposite of what I experienced last year, as barely anyone in those rooms will give two hoots about the game while dipping their chips in guacamole dip.

There will be men – I’ll let women slide on this – who barely know who is playing, and couldn’t name you more than 5-10 players on either team.

Everyone will drink their foreign lagers and play their block pools and only shut up to watch the commercials.

And they will see commercials for all kinds of nonsense, like people buying each other $50K vehicles for Valentine’s Day. There will be ads for beer and online sports gambling, while some sort of nonsense scrolls under the screen about drinking – and gambling — responsibly.

It seems like anything and everything is fair game.

But it’s not.

CBS, the network broadcasting the game this year, rejected a 60-second ad for medical marijuana.

Read that again, and let that sink in.

There will be ads for ailments such as adult acne and leg pain, with side effects so severe that that they may led to any of the 21 conditions approved for the use of medical marijuana in our state (and 29 others, including the District of Columbia).

Puritanical much?

State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17th), who teamed with State Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48th) in a successful bipartisan effort to legalize the use of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania, couldn’t help but note the irony.

“Preventing people from hearing about the benefits of medical marijuana, while at the same time happily advertising booze, dangerous drugs and fast food is a strange and disturbing choice,” said Leach. “Apparently the network doesn’t think their viewers are smart enough to handle a simple message responsibly, which is truly sad.”

Again, to make it clear, this has nothing to do with recreational use – although an entertaining one with Grateful Dead fans would be a hoot – but for medical marijuana.

The ad reportedly featured three patients whose suffering has been eased by medical marijuana.

The 60-second PSA-style ad (CBS is charging $3.2 million for 30 seconds) reportedly shows some uncomfortable stuff:

-A Colorado boy who suffers from Dravet syndrome (his mother says her son would have dozens to hundreds of seizures a day and medical marijuana saved his life).

-A Buffalo man says he was on opioids for 15 years after three back surgeries and that medical marijuana gave him his life back (even though he lives in Buffalo, where shoveling snow is not ideal for back health).

-An Oakland man who lost part of his leg in military service says his pain was unbearable until medical marijuana.

Funny how the NFL, which is surely the neck that turns the head that is the network in these final decisions, hoists the pomp and circumstance of the military but backs off from the other side of the story.

This is the same circuit that is on the precipice from allowing the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas, which is in the only state where prostitution is somehow legal.

So here we are.

The Eagles are no longer World Champions and a major network – with a league where officials are borderline incompetent — can’t get over itself.

I’ll watch again, because that’s what I do.

It’s wired in my DNA.

But there are no tears of joy this year.

There is no joy in Gordonville.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on Feb. 3, 2014.

Hey You, Get Off Of My Lawn

Grumpy

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There are a lot of people I like.

You know who you are.

All eight of you.

Everyone else?

Eh, not so much.

I have followed a collision course from my younger self and, right on time, became a grumpy middle-aged man.

A combination of Archie Bunker, Frank Costanza, Fred Flintstone and Andy Sipowicz.

Perhaps, on a good day, a little bit of the great curmudgeon philosophers — Bob Dylan and George Carlin — sprinkled in.

And I guess we can’t forget Sonny Corleone, had he not met his premature fate as a younger hothead.

While you’re getting off my lawn and turning down the Justin Bieber noise, keep the following grievances in mind as I dance around my Festivus pole:

1) This “Merry Christmas” Thing: I do know a lot of people from a lot of backgrounds. Life has been good to me that way. And guess what? I know no one — at all — who ever said you can’t say “Merry Christmas.” As matter of fact, even though the holiday is now past us, say it twice and call me in the morning. There are real societal outrages right outside your window. Why create one that doesn’t exist?

2) Road Work At Rush Hour: A necessary evil. I get it. What I don’t get is creating a backup on a major thoroughfare between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. Unless it’s an emergency, go have breakfast at your local diner. Speaking of which …

3) Male Waiters At Diners: I expect to be waited on by an old-school waitress — not waiter — with a bouffant hairdo who calls me “baby” and “honey” and has a natural instinct to fill up my coffee (and remembers I’m a decaf guy) and pre-butters my toast. I have nothing against male waiters in other dining scenarios — like, say, certain authentic ethnic restaurants (even if they are faking the accent for effect) — but we really don’t need the world spinning off its axis any more than what it already is, do we?

4) Casual Cyclists: I’m all for exercise (especially if I’m not the only doing it), but can’t they stick to the bike path? It’s not like we haven’t made them a few hundred to use. As far as I know, if a cyclist is on the road — even if it’s merely to get to one bike path to another on the other side — they are supposed to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist already stuck behind rush-hour roadwork. The next cyclist I see actually yield the right of way — or actually stop at a stop sign — will be the first. And don’t even get me started on the way they hog the roadway, oblivious to the world, once they are on it.

5) Royal Families: They can do what they want in the UK, but we won the Revolutionary War (in all the history books, if you’d like to check). If there any leaves floating about from the John Adams family tree, no thanks. Same for Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bushes. Suggestions of Michelle Obama running are just as bad as those of Chelsea Clinton. And don’t get me started on Ivanka (my eyes just rolled so hard that I got a detached retina). We are better than thinking certain bloodlines are better than others.

6) Guys Who Aren’t Sports Fans But Pretend They Are: You know the type? They show up at a Super Bowl party asking who is playing and then they ask the line (a real sports fan could care less who does or doesn’t cover the spread). Listen, buddy, if you don’t follow sports, that’s fine. Just be upfront about it. I don’t play the stock market. I don’t hunt or fish. I don’t even know how to play poker. I don’t have a woodshop in my house. If you’re into those things, I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to fake my way through a train-to-nowhere conversation. I’m into sports, so don’t insult mine. This is especially if the game in question is a life-or-death scenario involving a Philadelphia pro team or Temple. Speaking of which …

7) Ersatz Dallas Cowboys And/Or Penn State Fans: If you’re from the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area, or if you attended Penn State (or one of its 32,492 satellite campuses), fine. I’ll even be nice about it. I’ll let you slide on Penn State if you are Pennsyltuckian, and maybe even on the Cowboys if you are from a place in the country cursed with no pro team and have a weird fetish about blue stars on silver helmets. Otherwise, for your own safety, keep moving. You are morally bankrupt and spiritually corrupt. Side Note: Villanova is a national basketball program that happens to based on the Main Line. Unless you went there, which probably means you are from North Jersey or Connecticut anyway, zip it.

8) Lincoln Was A Republican: Easy there, cowboy. Not quite. We’ll get into this more down the line, but let’s leave this here for now: Lincoln was a progressive, which is what the Republican party was then but the polar opposite of what it is now.  If you have to go back nearly 16 decades — doing a selective hop, skip and jump over a clear role reversal in between — you don’t have much to go on, do you?

9) Self Checkout: When people in our moral conscience to the north — Canada — are refusing this concept of eliminating minimal wage jobs, it’s mirror time for us in the US. So wrong on so many levels, it’s yet another sign of apocalypse.

10) Unwanted Calls: Don’t tell me about a Do Not Call List. Been there, done that. No such thing. We still live with daily calls from weird numbers (i.e. 111-111-1111). Because I’m me, a stubborn curmudgeon, I sometimes call back and turn the tables. The best joys are when I get someone clearly from a foreign country trying to tell me his name is Tom or Joe — or Archie, Frank, Fred or Andy.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald (www.timesherald.com) on Dec. 30, 2018.

 

 

Missing My Missed Opportunities

SingleBullet

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — And there I was, in the VIP Room at Presidential Caterers, acting like a 12-year-old kid in the presence of Dick Vermeil.

The guest speaker for the 17th Annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet was holding court with many willing sycophants, and I was among the jesters hanging on every word and hoping my laugh track was synched up with the guy talk that strayed into activities that are against the law in Gordonville: Hunting, golfing and feeling sorrowful if Penn State chokes away a game.

I never got Vermeil alone – except briefly by the cheese and crackers to tell him that John Pergine gives his regards – but I had ample opportunities to let him know I was no ersatz Eagles fan.

And I refrained from saying two words that may have sent him on an infamous tirade and out the door.

Those words: Mike Michel.

Who? Sigh, let’s go through the past darkly.

While the Eagles steadily improved through the 1970s, particularly with Vermeil’s arrival, their kicking game remained atrocious.

Until it was solidified by drafting a kicker (Tony Franklin) and a punter (Max Runager) after the 1978 season, one which saw Vermeil guide the Birds to the playoffs for the first time since their championship season of 1960, it was a litany of no-leg names: Kickers like Happy Feller (no lie), Horst Muhlmann (as awful as his name) and Ove Johansson (made a 69-yarder in college and couldn’t make a 69-footer in the pros) and punters like Spike Jones (the band leader would have been an upgrade) and Rick Engles.

After Engles proved no better than Jones, Michel was brought off the street corner halfway through the 1978 season to take his place.

He had been a draft pick of the Dolphins, and punters aren’t drafted that often, so there was anticipation in the air when Michel dropped back for his first punt at the Vet.

Whiff City.

I don’t mean shank.

I mean whiff.

He did something we were beyond as young teens in the schoolyard. He missed the ball altogether.

At that point, you could even boo – or look for Santa Claus to accost with snowballs or beer bottles. We just laughed as Michel averaged 3 yards on his first three punts.

He became mediocre enough as a punter to ride out the season, but Vermeil made the fateful choice to have Michel – an OK college kicker at Stanford — also serve as a placekicker when Nick Mick-Mayer was injured.

In the playoffs against Atlanta, the Eagles built a 13-0 lead – despite a missed extra-point and field goal by Michel that would have made it 17-0 – and fell behind, 14-13, before Ron Jaworski drove them into field goal range (and some guy named Oren Middelbrook almost made a diving one-handed catch for a touchdown). With time running out, Michel missed a 34-yarder that would have made everyone’s Christmas merry (the game was played on Christmas Eve).

Not asking Vermeil about Michel was not the first time I chose discretion over valor, and it put me in mind of my handful of chances with Sen. Arlen Specter, as it just so happened that two days after the banquet, Nov. 22, was the 55th anniversary of the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy Jr. in Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

In a past lifetime, in the more isolated atmosphere of editorial board meetings, I had more than one chance to go a few rounds with the late – and occasionally great – Specter.

We talked current events, and he decried gridlock inside the beltway and gerrymandering, but we kept the past buried.

Here in Gordonville, it was only fitting that a turkey shoot on Nov. 22, 1963 took place on Turkey Day 55 years later.

While we only display Festivus poles in public, it is taught in our schools that the assassination remains unsolved.

The official story – one that Specter, then an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia with wide-eyed ambitions, helped sell for the Warren Report — is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone by hitting JFK with pinpoint accuracy with two shots after missing the car with the first.

Instead of Mike Michel, I could have gone with “single bullet.”

The problem with the theory was that one of the two connecting bullets zigzagged up and down and in and out and all around in order to do all the damage it did – all while emerging in nearly pristine condition on a stretcher at the hospital.

With witnesses hearing shots fired from other directions, including the grassy knoll that would have provided ideal cover for a gunman to fire the kill shot, there had to be an explanation to tie it all up in a neat little bow.

And as the years passed, and in spite of a multiplicity of theories that get shut down, the damage to the truth was permanent.

Specter was able to carve a solid career for himself as a politician – Philadelphia DA from 1966-74 and US Senator from 1981-2011 — and was one of the few Republicans, which he was for most of his career, I voted for on a regular basis.

But he still lost points for being a willing participant in this trail gone as a cold as the current president’s heart.

Football coaches, like Vermeil, can learn as they go about saving a roster spot and hoping to get by with a punter as a placekicker, as he never treated the kicking game as an afterthought again.

There appears to be no such contrition from Specter, who passed away in the fall of 2012.

If I had questioned him on it, my only satisfaction would be to have a story to tell while in my rocking chair.

While Specter would have reverted to the form that made him captain of the Yale Law School debating team, I would have reverted to the form that made me an oft-penalized captain of my street hockey team.

But that wouldn’t have made him right, or me wrong.

It would just make me part of the 61 percent of Americans, as compared to 33 percent, who believe “others were involved” in the assassination.

The explanation from those who don’t want us to believe it in a conspiracy is that we can’t handle the truth, with that truth being that a loser and loner like Oswald could kill such a powerful and wonderful man.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not even living in that galaxy, let alone zip code.

If a total dingbat can become president – witness Exhibit A on the news every day – it is more than conceivable that a doofus like Oswald could kill the president in a time when security was a lot more lackadaisical.

The problem is that the evidence, despite the efforts of the likes of Specter, is as shaky as a kick off the foot of Mike Michel.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 2