What up world? This Earl and I’m back with another edition of The Blog About Nothing. The Super Bowl kicks off this Sunday with the New England Patriots taking on defending National Football League champs the Seattle Seahawks. The NBA is picking up steam on their way to the All-Star break, and pitchers and catchers are to report in a few weeks. As most of us here in the Northeast dig out from the recent snow storm and pray that a thaw out will soon come, at least we will start getting some signs that spring is eventually on it’s way.
This week I’m listening to some old Kendrick Lamar. Got some Overly Dedicated coming through the headphones. This project got the Compton, California rapper on the radar back in 2010 and was a pre-cursor to what was to come with Section.80 and Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. So, I’m taking it back to the beginning with one Cali boy, while I kick off this blog talking about another Cali boy. Let’s do this!
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is an interesting person to me. The man nicknamed Beast Mode has been in the news this week. Those familiar with the Lynch story, knows that he’s a guy who brought himself out of Oakland, California and that he has no love for the media. He’s had an awkward and difficult relationship with the media since his days as a star college player for the University of California. His “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” attitude might have brought more attention this week, but I have one question for the guy.
Why can’t he just play the game? I don’t mean the game of football, I mean the game of life. Marshawn is a real dude, and nothing wrong with that, but his standoffish stance is costing him money. For a man who is dedicated to charity, and he does do a lot for his community in Oakland, the attitude he takes with the media, the crotch grabbing he does on the field, and the unnecessary money he gives away in fines does more harm than good in my opinion. Marshawn has been one of the best running backs in the NFL over the past few seasons, but because of his own self-inflicted wounds he will never get that recognition.
I get that he doesn’t WANT that recognition but think of this scenario: Lynch goes all Beast Mode on Sunday and the Seahawks win a second Super Bowl. What happens if Lynch is named the Most Valuable Player? Will the NFL actually award one of its public enemies with the honor, and will the man himself accept it knowing that the award invites more media pressure that he doesn’t want? Interesting scenario, but it’s one that could very well happen. Can you see Marshawn Lynch look into the camera and say “I’m going to Disney World!”? I can’t. Can you see him on the press tours? I can’t. However, if he goes off on Sunday that’s exactly what can happen.
That’s why I don’t get why he doesn’t play the game. I understand that the NFL can be an invasive force. It’s a complaint that players have of commissioner Roger Goodell and the inflexibility and rigidity he’s shown during his rule, but I have to believe there is a way for Marshawn to keep his realness and still play within the confines given to him. He should only look at his teammates Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin. The corner back and wide receiver, are both graduates of Stanford University, and both men are very outspoken. Often they poke their fingers, noses, and every damn thing else at the NFL and they maintain that realness without their pockets being dented for every damn thing. I can’t see why Marshawn can’t play the media game, still be a bit of an ass, and avoid the silly fines.
It may all come to naught though in the long run. It’s been reported that some members of the Seahawks have grown tired with the antics, and despite the year left on his contract, the team may look to move on from him. He’s 28 years old and entering the stage of his career where running backs start to decline. The Seahawks need him, and head coach Pete Carroll is the right guy to deal with him, but it’s easy to see the team moving on from Marshawn. Damn shame if they do, but if they do, Marshawn has to know that he brought it upon himself. You can be your own worst enemy, and the game can shut you out if you don’t play by it’s rules. He’ll likely be fine with that, but it’s a shame really.
As far as the Super Bowl itself, I don’t really have a prediction about the game. Last year’s edition saw the Seahawks get out on the Denver Broncos early and that led to a boring game that ended in a 43-8 blowout. I don’t expect a blowout this time around. The New England Patriots have been here before. Quarterback Tom Brady is about to start his sixth Super Bowl, and with the exception of the two losses to the New York Giants, he’s won the game three times. Despite the DeflateGate nonsense, he appears to be calm and confident. As he should be.
Looking at this game it appears to be pretty even. Both offenses are solid, but not spectacular, and while the Seahawks have the better defense, I don’t discount the Patriots defense at all. This game is a true coin flip, but if I have to pick one team to win I’m going with the Seahawks. I think they are more prepared to run the ball on the Pats, and lean on their defense to get the win. So, I expect Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to stretch the Pats out with his athleticism, some short passing, and a lot of Marshawn Lynch to win a close game. Final score? Seattle 23 – New England 17.
Changing gears to college basketball, I’d like to say congrats to Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K for his 1,000th win as head coach. I just wish it didn’t come against one of my alma maters in St. John’s University at Madison Square Garden. The Johnnies fought hard all game, and held a lead for a large portion of it, but at the end of the day the talent of Duke won out. Led by talented freshmen Tyus Jones, and Jahlil Okafor the Blue Devils grinded out for the win. Duke is 17-3 this season, and have been struggling some in Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 4-3 record, are on their way to another NCAA berth, and if young Okafor who is tipped to be the #1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft picks up steam the Blue Devils could be making some noise deep into March.
My beloved Johnnies? Despite being ranked in the top 25 a month ago, the team is once again heading towards NIT status. I’ve complained enough about the direction of St. John’s basketball in this blog space, so I’ll spare you but I will keep saying that it doesn’t matter who the head coach is at the University. It doesn’t matter. Why? As long as they can’t keep the top notch local kids home, there’s no real rebirth here. The glory days of the 1980s and 1990s are gone. That reason is two fold: the top players that come out of New York City don’t want to stay home, and truth be told the elite players that come out of New York City is starting to get few and far between.
Think about it. There has been Lance Stephenson (of the Charlotte Hornets), Kemba Walker (also of the Hornets), Joakim Noah (of the Chicago Bulls) and a handful of players with City roots who’ve made it to the NBA but what is the last heralded City player to make an impact on the NBA? Some will argue for Carmelo Anthony. Not me though. Melo may have been Brooklyn born, but before finessing his way to the Knicks, he was more than happy to tout his West Baltimore upbringing. So I can’t count Melo. The last real elite New York City player I can think of is Stephon Marbury. He of the 1996 NBA Draft. He of the disappointing NBA career, which for all of his shortcomings came from his own self-inflected wounds.
Can’t really think of another New York City product that has been a star since his high school days, then his college days, and then became an NBA star since Stephon. Tying this back to the Johnnies, it’d be great if New York City did develop that next huge star and he stayed home but that kid doesn’t appear on the horizon. This week the McDonald’s All American rosters were released. Not one player in the five boroughs were on the roster. Well the boys roster anyway. The girls roster did have a player from Brooklyn, from a high school I know well (not the one I attended) and the ‘hood is proud, but I’m waiting for the day another elite player comes through our streets and finds his way up to Jamaica Estates and reps for the Red Storm.
I’d like to believe that in life we all have a figure that you feel sorry for. You look at that person, you look at their career, or their circumstances, and you can’t help but think if that person got that break, or that moment, they’d turn it around and be successful. Maybe, it’s just me, but I love the story of the underdog making it big. I also love the story, of the character that was supposed to be big, who struggled, but eventually found their way out. I want the best for people. For myself, for anyone. Just my nature.
Anyway, my goodwill is going out to soccer player Freddy Adu. Some may remember the Freddy Adu story. Ghanian born, but raised in the Washington D.C. area and finds himself signed to Major League Soccer team DC United at 14 years old. At the young age of 14, he is labeled the next coming of Pele (a label that has been bestowed to many flame outs since the end of THE actual Pele’s career), and he was expected to compete in a league full of men. Despite Adu’s acumen and flashes of natural ability, he hasn’t succeeded. He’s had plenty of chances with Major League Soccer, the United States National Team, and moves abroad but it hasn’t panned out.
However, Adu is still only 25 years old. He’s sitting on the bench of a Serbian team (which clearly ain’t good) but there are rumors of yet another return to Major League Soccer. Now Adu’s downfall has been that he hasn’t endeared himself to his coaches, and despite the natural talent he hasn’t showed much in the way of being technical and meshing into a side, but he is still only 25. He’s young enough to launch a successful second act (if not third, fourth, or fifth act according to who’s counting).
He’s got a good left foot, he showed willingness when he was younger to beat opponents off of the dribble, and he can play a creative ball forward. Getting back to MLS, playing him as a left midfield in a 4-4-2, or a winger in a 4-3-3 formation can be appealing. He might also consider a move to left back. Why? It’s the weakest position the USMNT has right now. He’s an extreme longshot to get back into the National Team picture, granted, but the Stars and Stripes have a lot of soccer to play in the next two years with World Cup qualifying, Olympic qualifying, Gold Cup, and Copa America play. Moving to left back, and turning in solid perfomances MIGHT be the quickest way for him to get back into the picture.
Now that’s wishful thinking, from a wishful fool, but we’ve seen this play out before. It’s the perfect Hollywood story. Kid eventually comes good, and we Americans do love a good success story. Maybe Freddy becomes that, maybe he doesn’t, but if he does come back to the United States and plays in Major League Soccer then I’ll keep my eyes out and root for him.
Another story we like to see play out is when two men finally step into the ring and face each other after avoiding each other for years. OK. Not sure if we all love this story, but I do think fans of the sweet science had to love what took place in Miami this week when Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao met face to face at a Miami Heat game. The two men exchanged phone numbers, and met later on at a Miami hotel for a discussion.
Now, Mayweather-Pacquiao is about six years overdue but who wouldn’t want to see that fight? After all the trash talk, after all the ducking, and all the industry politics that have kept the two apart, who wouldn’t want to see the only mega fight the sport has finally happen? If the two men can agree on a contract, a venue, and get HBO and Showtime on the same page then sometime in 2015 the mega fight to end all mega fights (until the next one) will finally come to light.
I’m a boxing fan. It’s one of the many things I inherited from my father. I’ve said it before but I grew up watching and taping Pay Per Views. I don’t order Pay Per Views now that I’m grown, since I prefer to just find a link online the next day, but I’d order Mayweather-Pacquiao. Both men are past their primes, and if I had to pick a winner I’d go with Mayweather, but just to finally see this grudge matched settled would be bliss.
Boxing is on an upswing. We have a charismatic American heavyweight champion in Deontay Wilder, and thanks to shadow figure Al Haymon, boxing will return to prime time television with NBC’s P.B.C. series that will kick off later this year. P.B.C. is promising to place big name fighters on network TV and in primetime. One of the early fights will pit Danny Garcia vs. Lamont Peterson and those two are one of the bigger names in the 140-147 weight classes. So, considering the boost the sport has been getting it’d be phenomenal if we finally, FINALLY, get Mayweather-Pacquiao.
It looks possible. It also looks like it might not happen. Politics in boxing often find a way to trip things up. The networks of HBO and Showtime rarely do business together. Mayweather doesn’t do business with Top Rank promotions who promote Pacquiao and there is that well deserved sentiment that Floyd ducks fighters that can beat him. He may be undefeated but he has avoided some pretty good fighters over the years. Will he keep ducking Manny? Likely but let’s hope he doesn’t and he and Manny finally get it on! Let’s get ready to rumble!!
I’m done. The word count shows that I’m creeping up on 2,500 words and well that’s a lot. Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting www.7poundbag.com. Peace.
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