The Turbulent Flight Of A Falcons’ Fan


I watched the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s National Football League (NFL) playoffs.  It was a lot of work.  It’s pretty sad when you can’t relax and feel confident that your team can hold onto a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.  

That’s the plight of being a lifelong Falcons’ fan.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Finding defeat in certain victory.  

The first season I really followed the Falcons was in 1977.  That was the first year of the “Gritz Blitz” and a defense that set a record at that time for only allowing 129 points during a 14-game season.  

There have certainly been some bright spots along the way.  

The biggest moment was when Morten Anderson kicked the game winning field goal against Minnesota in the 1998 National Football Conference (NFC) championship to put the Falcons in their first Super Bowl.  I was a very elated fan.  

That elation was soon turned to another disappointment when the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. 

Other disappointments that have conditioned me to be cautious over the years:

  • Dallas Cowboys 30, Atlanta Falcons 27 (1980 NFC Playoffs)
  • San Francisco 28, Atlanta Falcons 24 (2012 NFC Championship Game)
  • Green Bay Packers 48, Atlanta Falcons 21 (2010 NFC Playoffs)
  • Dallas Cowboys 20, Atlanta Falcons 17 (1978 NFC Playoffs)

So even with the victories, the Falcons have never had that “mojo” that a team needs to win consistently – especially in the playoffs.  The image of Danny White leading the Cowboys back in the 1980 playoffs is still burned into the memories of Falcon fans.  My stomach gets upset every time I see that game. 

So forgive me if this seems a little negative.  It isn’t just negativity, it has been my reality for the past 40 years. Expect disappointment but always hopeful.  

I mean, the Cubs did win the World Series so anything is possible right?

Please don’t call Matt Ryan “Marty Ice” because that will mean a pick six is going to happen.  I try not to be negative.  Really I’m not.  

When my wife asked me if I was excited about watching the Falcons’ game Saturday, I honestly answered “No” because it’s never easy.  Watching the Falcons is a lot of work.  I was physically worn out after the game. 

That’s the life of a Falcons’ fan.  

So now after a big win over the Seahawks, the Falcons will play again next week.  I don’t care about who they play.  It really doesn’t matter.  I know it’s going to be another three hours of work.  

Advertisements

It’s Not My Fault….

blameToday is National Blame Someone Else Day.

And you only thought it was bad enough that it is Friday the 13th.

National Blame Someone Else Day is celebrated on the first Friday the 13th of the year.  This year it is today.  This was invented by Anne Moeller of Clio, Michigan in 1982 when her alarm clock failed to go off, creating a series of bad things that happened to her throughout the day.  That day happened to be Friday the 13th.

Personally, I have been the blamee instead of the blamer this week.

“Check your area again.  You must have lost the disc.”

It’s funny how people will shift the blame when they are put on the hot seat.  We also call it “throwing someone under the bus”.

Blaming someone else tends to have a pay-it-forward affect.

Well, today is the day to do it and now there is an “official” day for it.  But, at midnight, the blame will wear off and you will be back to your old self again.

Something tells me this isn’t just a one day thing.

Here are some things to remember about blaming others:

  • People that have trust issues only need to look in the mirror.  There they will meet the one person that will betray them the most.
  • Blame doesn’t empower you.  It keeps you stuck in a place you don’t want to be because you don’t want to make the temporary, but painful decision to be responsible for the outcome of your own life’s happiness.
  • Blaming others is an act of refusing to take responsibility.  When a person can’t accept the fact or the reality, they blame another person or the situation instead of taking accountability.
  • You can get discouraged many times, but you are not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else and stop trying.
  • When you keep blaming others for every mistake you make in life, one day you will look back and realize you where the mistake all along.

Hey, I didn’t write this.  Someone else did.  It was Anne Moeller’s idea to make it National Blame Someone Else Day!

 

 

PRO Chess League Season Checkmates Today

US-NORWAY-RUSSIA-CHESS-CHAMPIONSHIP

Are you ready for some….chess?

I know.  I can’t contain my excitement either.  Although there won’t be crazed fans packing sports arenas for this league, this is a serious sport as the PRO Chess League begins their matches today for the start of the 2017 season.

The Professional Rapid Online Chess League evolved from what was the United States Chess League (USCL) which was an online chess league for the past 10 years.  PRO Chess will have faster time controls, provide more flexibility in forming and managing teams and allow “free agent” acquisitions from all over the world.

The league features 48 teams from five continents and top players such as Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.  Names that will make you forget Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott.

Okay, maybe not but these are some big names in this league.   The league is aligned into Blue, Red, Green and Orange Divisions:

chess2

 

 

 

 

Blue Division (Eastern North America and South America)

  • Atlanta Kings
  • Buenos Aires Krakens
  • Carolina Cobras
  • Columbus Cardinals
  • Miami Champions
  • Montreal ChessBrahs
  • New Jersey Knockouts
  • New York Knights
  • Patagonia Penguins
  • Philadelphia Inventors
  • Toronto Dragons
  • Montclair Sopranos

Red Division (Western North America)

  • Dallas Destiny
  • Minnesota Blizzard
  • Portland Rain
  • Rio Grande Ospreys
  • San Diego Surfers
  • San Francisco Mechanics
  • San Jose Hackers
  • Seattle Sluggers
  • St. Louis Arch Bishops
  • Webster Windmills
  • Las Vegas Desert Rats
  • Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers

Green Division (Western Europe and Africa)

  • Abuja Rockstars
  • Amsterdam Mosquitoes
  • Apeldoorn Apes
  • Cannes Blockbusters
  • Dublin Desperados
  • Hamburg Swashbucklers
  • London Towers
  • Stockholm Snowballs
  • Reykjavik Puffins
  • London Lions
  • Lagos Leatherbacks
  • Marseille Migraines

Orange Division (Eastern Europe and Asia)

  • Belgrade Sparrows
  • Budapest Gambit
  • Delhi Dynamite
  • Gorky Stormbringers
  • Johannesburg Koeksisters
  • Ljubljana Direwolves
  • Mumbai Movers
  • Odisha Express
  • Riga Magicians
  • Shymkent Nomads
  • Norway Gnomes
  • Amaravati Yodhas

Teams will play for six weeks starting today through February 15th.  At the conclusion of the sixth week, the pairings for week seven will be made to ensure that teams fighting for playoff spots will face off against each other in order to provide the most balanced matches for playoff positions.

All matches will be covered live on http://www.chess.com/TV beginning at 11 a.m. EST.

 

Savannah Hosts 19th Hockey Classic

savannah1

Savannah, Georgia does not have a minor league hockey team but for the past 18 years they have been a hockey town one weekend during the winter.  This weekend, the Savannah Civic Center will the host  the 19th Annual Savannah Hockey Classic featuring four college hockey teams from the Southeast. Teams from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida and Florida State will compete for this year’s Thrasher Cup.  Florida State won the cup last year.  Georgia Tech has won the most Savannah Hockey Classics with seven.

On Friday, Georgia Tech plays Florida State followed by Georgia versus Florida.  On Saturday, Florida faces Florida State then Georgia plays Georgia Tech for their rivalry showdowns on the ice.

For the four schools, ice hockey is not a scholarship sport.  They are self-funded club sports teams and they receive little funding from their schools.

The Georgia Ice Dawgs will be favored to win the Thrasher Cup this year which goes to the winner of the tournament.  The Ice Dawgs have a 21-3 record and have beaten Georgia Tech and Florida already this season.

Thrasher Cup Titles:

  • Georgia Tech (7) – 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012
  • Georgia (6) – 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013
  • Florida (3) – 2010, 2014, 2015
  • Florida State (2) – 2008, 2016

 

 

 

Driving 101: Making Safe Decisions

driving

Yesterday I was in the turn lane on Old Hickory Boulevard waiting to turn onto Highway 70 South when suddenly a car wedged in between me and the car ahead of me to go across to the Tigermarket on the other side of the road.  I did not see them coming from McDonalds on the opposite side.  I really didn’t think I had allowed enough space for someone to do that nor did I think I would have to.  The driver just zipped on through regardless of oncoming traffic.

It was not a wise decision but the driver made it to the Tigermarket only to use it as a shortcut to get onto Highway 70 South.

Wow.

And how many times has this happened – you are driving on the road and someone pulls in front of you which causes you to either brake lightly or quickly depending on their lack of depth perception.  Then to see that there are absolutely NO cars behind you and the driver would have had plenty of time to enter the roadway.

I have seen drivers take too many chances because of impatience or negligence.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Darting across four lanes of traffic just feet away from an intersection is not a safe choice.

Approximately 95% of all vehicle accidents are caused by indecision or poor decisions on the part of drivers.  That really isn’t a gamble worth taking.  Even if you aren’t injured in an accident, it is still very frustrating to deal with police reports and insurance companies.

Ways to make better decisions:

  • Be patient.  You’re not the only one on the road.
  • Don’t be distracted.  Keep your eyes and attention on the road.
  • Pull onto the roadway when it is safe.
  • Slow down.  Going faster doesn’t help your odds.
  • Use your signals and communicate effectively with other drivers.

On the other side of this issue, if you see someone making a bad decision, take the appropriate action to avoid an accident.  This means driving defensively and making allowances for the boneheads that shouldn’t be driving.

Be careful out there and be patient!

 

Does God Like Me?

I know we aren’t supposed to ask that question but I am sure all of us have at some point.  Sure, the Bible tells us that He loves us and we are told God is love but I can’t help but wonder if He likes me.  

Face it.  We all have people in our lives that, if they weren’t related to us or we didn’t have to work with them, we wouldn’t even be friends with them.  They totally rub us the wrong way by just their mere presence.  We might love some people because we’re supposed to but that doesn’t mean that we like them.  Sometimes I wonder if God feels the same way about me.  Yeah, He’s supposed to love me but sometimes I don’t feel like He likes me very much.  

Sure, I know it’s not true but I’m human.  I’m not one of those super-spiritual Christians going around talking in the King James Version language.  Sadly, I have tried it before.  I tried to be everything that the church expected me to be.  I wanted to be super-spiritual but I failed at it – miserably.  I wanted to be one that was so close to God that I could pray for the sick and they would be healed and all the other things I heard was happening to others but it didn’t happen for me.  That’s not me.  So does that mean that God doesn’t like me?  I think it’s more like either God couldn’t trust me with those gifts or that it just wasn’t what he had for me.

Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to figure what God wants.

Yeah, I think He likes me.  I just don’t think I’m one of his favorites but that’s okay with me.  

Here’s some things that make us feel that God doesn’t like us:

  • He doesn’t talk back to us.  Well – not in the way we do with other people.  I have always said that’s a huge thing because God doesn’t talk back to us.  
  • The world has billions of people in it, how can He even remotely know who I am?  He does but my brain can’t comprehend it.
  • I’m not perfect.  That makes me feel that I can’t measure up but God doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  He’s not waiting to slam us when we do something wrong.
  • When I hurt where is God?  In the times I have hurt so badly physically and cried out to God, the pain only got worse and not better.  I’m not hurting today so that’s something.

So are those reasons for me to give up?   No.  Just because I can’t explain it with a sound theological answer doesn’t mean I don’t believe God likes me.  Am I foolish for believing?  Perhaps.

The fact is however, I am not God.  I can’t make God be or act the way I want Him to act.  I suppose He has his reasons.  

So what do I do to remind myself that God does like me?

  • I remind myself of the things He has done for me.  No, they aren’t many supernatural-type things that have happened but we can all count our blessings.
  • Keep talking to God.  There is no reason to stop talking although it is extremely difficult when you prayer and see absolutely no results.  
  • Listen to encouraging music.  Just recently I found the song “Never Been A Moment” by Micah Tyler that encouraged me.  Encouraging music energizes the soul.
  • Read the Bible.  Yep, still need to do this one.  I know it sounds cliche but it’s something that we need to do to remind God of His promises toward us.  Most of the time I listen to the Dramatized Audio Version of the Bible.  
  • Listen to good sermons.  This one is a tough one.  Good preachers are difficult to find who truly preach sound Biblical doctrine.  I have a handful of podcasts that I listen to.  I don’t want to hear any pimping for money or using their position for political agendas.  

I know that God probably has those days He just shakes His head at me and wonders what’s going on.  I just hope He will still like me regardless.  

Friday Flashback:  First NFL Wildcard Game


As the National Football League (NFL) heads into the first weekend of the wildcard round of playoff games, today’s flashback goes back to the very first wildcard playoff game.  Prior to 1978, the NFL had one wildcard that joined the other three division winners in the divisional playoff round but in 1978 the NFL added an additional wildcard qualifier in each conference which created a week where the two wildcard teams played to join the other division winners the following week.

The Atlanta Falcons hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on December 24, 1978 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.  The Falcons were in the playoffs for the first time in team history while the Eagles qualified for the first time since 1960.  The Falcons won the game by overcoming a 13-0 deficit by scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the game.  The Eagles had a chance to win the game when quarterback Tom Jaworski completed four passes to get the Eagles to the Atlanta 16 with 13 seconds left.  Philadelphia’s kicking problems came back to haunt them as their punter, Mike Michel, had filled in late in the season.  Michel missed a 33-yard field goal, then the Falcons ran out the clock to win 14-13.

Atlanta quarterback, Steve Bartkowski was 18 for 32 pass attempts for 243, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  The leading receiving, and perhaps the reason the Falcons won the game, was Wallace Francis who caught six passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.  

The Falcons advanced to play the Dallas Cowboys the following week in the National Football Conference (NFC) Divisional playoffs and fell short, 27-20.

In 1990, the NFL added another team from each conference which created two wildcard games and the format that exists today.  There has been a proposal to expand the playoffs again from the current 12 to 14 teams with only the top team in each conference receiving a bye in the first round.  

Personally, I have been in favor of totally scrapping the divisional alignments and simply grouping teams in 16-team conferences with the top eight teams in each qualifying for the playoffs.  This would eliminate a team with an 8-8 record of less from either qualifying or winning a division when they are clearly not the best team in the conference.  

Whether or not wildcard games are a good idea, I was not against it in 1978.

Cursive Writing Makes Me Curse

cursive

I have recently tried to start writing cursive again.  Now I know one reason it is called cursive because I want to curse when attempting to make it legible.

It’s not easy.   The only thing I have been able to write reasonably well is my signature.  Other than that, it looks like a second-grader wrote it.   The truth is that a second-grader could probably do it better.

I was taught in school how to cursive write but somewhere I reverted back to printing.  It definitely isn’t like riding a bicycle.

Cursive writing is a form of writing where some characters are joined together in a flowing style.  It is mostly used for making writing faster such as taking notes.  It is also known as script or longhand.

I have started learning it again to write better on my iPad with a stylus.  Since you can’t really rest your palm on the tablet when writing I thought maybe using cursive would make it better.

It doesn’t.

So why write cursive anyway?

For one thing, it is a lost art form where one can add their own personalization to writing.  Today in a world or emails and text messages, writing is like an old friend that we don’t keep in touch with anymore.

Writing has benefits that typing does not.   Handwriting is more personal unlike typed letters on a computer or smart phone screen.  When someone writes you a letter, it means a little more that they put the effort rather than typing it in an email.

Studies have shown that you improve your understanding and recall when you write instead of typing.

  • You can write more words faster and express more ideas when writing by hand instead of a keyboard.
  • Cursive writing helps the brain with visualizing what is being written.
  • You are more involved in writing than you are when you are typing.
  • You are human because you can make mistakes.  That adds a personal touch to your writing.

I am going to continue to work on my longhand and hopefully I can be patient enough to let it flow again, especially writing in the journals I keep.  I will try to limit my cursing and do better at cursive.

Driving 101:  New Year’s Resolutions For Drivers

As we enter 2017, it won’t be long until the holidays are behind us and we get back into the usual daily driving routines in the Music City.  The light traffic over the past two weeks were nice but soon we will be reminded why traffic is a pain here. 

While most people have a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, I have come up with some for Nashville drivers:

  1. Be more patient on the roads.  Instead of being quick to get angry at other drivers, practice a little patience. 
  2. Slow down.  Don’t drive so fast.  We are all trying to get somewhere too. 
  3. Do what you are supposed to do.  You know the rules – follow them. 
  4. Wait before you honk.  Don’t be so quick to lay on the horn unless it’s absolutely necessary. 
  5. Don’t drive so aggressively.  This isn’t a NASCAR race.  It’s okay to let people in front of you.  
  6. STOP RUNNING RED LIGHTS!
  7. Let it go. When someone cuts you off let the rage go.  It isn’t worth it to escalate the situation.  

If Nashville is truly the most friendliest city in the United States, why don’t we start driving like it?

Happy New Driving Year everyone!

My First NFL Game


I have been a football fan for as long as I can remember and watched many National Football League (NFL) games on television.  From my very first memories of watching Joe Namath to the first season that the Atlanta Falcons made the playoffs, I always wanted to go to a game in person but it never happened until Sunday.   My wife got us two tickets to the Tennessee Titans’ final regular season game against the Houston Texans for Christmas.  Although there were no playoff issues to play for on either side, it was still an awesome game and experience.  The Titans jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held on for a 24-17 win and their first winning season since 2011.  

So why had it taken me this long to go to my first game?

I grew up in a strict religious home so it was not allowed to go to events where alcohol was sold.  Other times either I didn’t live near a team or it was just too expensive or some other reasons.  It is always difficult to pay a lot of money to go and risk sitting in the wrong place where people have no regard for anyone else.  This can really ruin the whole experience.   There’s also the logistics of getting to the game, parking and navigating through the crowds.  

I have been to two NFL games before but I was working as a writer/reporter then and it’s not quite the same when you are working.  It’s just a whole new experience when you go to a game as a fan.  You don’t have to worry about keeping stats or writing a game story, you can just enjoy the game.  

Here are a few observations about going to an NFL game:

  • Everything is much smaller than you think.  On television the stadium seems a lot bigger.
  • You don’t have television commentary.  You don’t know any of the back stories of the players or inside scoops about what is going on down on the field.
  • I had to remember to watch that I could watch the action on the field and didn’t have to watch the game on the jumbotron.  
  • It’s not as easy to take a bathroom break like you can watching at home.
  • You get to experience the elements and energy in the stadium.  It’s like you are part of the game.
  • You see what happens during commercials.  They have contests with fans doing different things to win prizes.
  • You get free stuff.  We got Titans’ calendars for 2017!
  • Witnessing the guy sitting next to you chew tobacco and spit in a pizza box the entire game.  (It is the personalized Nashville experience)
  • Instead of changing the channel, you have to be forced out by stadium personnel and join the herd of people leaving the stadium.

Now my wife and I have experienced the professional teams in the Music City.  We loved going to see the Predators (hockey), not so much the Sounds (baseball) and wasted our money watching the Venom (indoor football).  We will be back to a Titans game in the future.