Alliance of American Football to Kickoff in 2019

alliance-of-american-footballAnother professional football league has plans in the works to fill the void for football fans in the offseason of 2019 when the Alliance of American Football (AAF) plans to begin play in February 2019 with eight teams with the championship to be played on the last weekend of April 2019.

Yes, we have heard this one before haven’t we?  The last time we heard something like this was a league called Major League Football which failed before it even took the field a couple of years ago.  Of course, there were the more notable leagues such as the United States Football League (USFL), XFL and World League of American Football/NFL-Europe.

What makes this one so different?

This new league is backed by television and film producer Charlie Ebersol, Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian, four-time All-Pro Jared Allen and two-time Super Bowl champions Justin Tuck and Troy Polamalu so this kinda gets your attention that it could be a legitimate effort.

Personally, I love the rule changes that this league will offer such as:

  • Eliminating kickoffs and allowing the offense to start on the 25 yard line
  • In place of the onside kick, the trailing team will receive the ball on their own 35 yard line facing fourth down and 10.
  • Instituting a shorter play clock and fewer commercial breaks in the interest of shortening the total time of game
  • Eliminating the extra point requiring two-point conversions after every touchdown

The league will have eight teams playing 10-game schedules.  There is no word yet on where those eight franchises will be located but is planned to be announced in June. I would guess that teams would be placed in New York, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Diego, San Antonio and San Jose.  I would think a new league would want to take advantage of cities that have been snubbed by the NFL.

The CBS Sports Network will televise games during the season.

The AAF will not be affiliated with the National Football League (NFL) and will most likely have their rosters filled with players who aren’t drafted by NFL teams, former players or players that have been cut from NFL teams.

Other spring leagues that have failed in the past:

  • United States Football League (1983-1985)
    • usflKey Personnel:  David Dixon, Donald Trump, George Allen, Sid Gillman, Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, Marv Levy, Bill Polian, Steve Young
    •  Teams
      • Arizona Wranglers/Outlaws
      • Birmingham Stallions
      • Boston/New Orleans/Portland Breakers
      • Chicago Blitz
      • Denver Gold
      • Los Angeles Express
      • Michigan Panthers
      • New Jersey Generals
      • Oakland Invaders
      • Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars
      • Tampa Bay Bandits
      • Washington Federals/Orlando Renegades
      • Houston Gamblers
      • Jacksonville Bulls
      • Memphis Showboats
      • Oklahoma Outlaws
      • Pittsburgh Maulers
      • San Antonio Gunslingers
  • World League of American Football/NFL-Europe (1991-2007)
    • wlafKey Personnel:  Tex Schramm, Oliver Luck, Mike Lynn
    •  Teams
      • Birmingham Fire
      • Montreal Machine
      • New York/New Jersey Knights
      • Ohio Glory
      • Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks
      • Sacramento Surge
      • San Antonio Riders
      • Amsterdam Admirals
      • Barcelona Dragons
      • London Monarchs
      • Frankfurt Galaxy
      • Berlin Thunder
      • Cologne Centurions
      • Rhein Fire
      • Scottish Claymores
      • Hamburg Sea Devils
  • XFL (2001)
    • xfl2Key Personnel:  Vince McMahon, Tommy Maddox, Galen Hall
    •  Teams
      • Birmingham Thunderbolts
      • Orlando Rage
      • New York/New Jersey Hitmen
      • Chicago Enforcers
      • Las Vegas Outlaws
      • Los Angeles Xtreme
      • San Francisco Demons
      • Memphis Maniax
  • Major League Football (2014) – never played
    • mlfbKey Personnel:  Wes Chandler, Dave Campo, Ted Cottrell, Galen Hall
    •  Teams
      • Alabama Airborne
      • Arkansas Attack
      • Florida Fusion
      • Northwest Empire
      • Ohio Union
      • Oklahoma Nation
      • Oregon Crash
      • Texas Independence
      • Utah Stand
      • Virginia Armada
  • Professional Spring Football League (1991) – never played
    • psflKey Personnel:  Vincent Sette, Rex Lardner
    •  Teams
      • Arkansas Miners
      • Carolina Cougars
      • Miami Tribe
      • Nevada Aces
      • New England Blitz
      • New Mexico Rattlesnakes
      • Oregon Lightning Bolts
      • Tampa Bay Outlaws
      • Utah Pioneers
      • Washington Spirit
  • All-American Football League (2010) – never played
    • AAFL_LogoKey Personnel:  Doug Dickey, Shane Matthews, Mike Jones, John Fontes, Andy Kelly
    •  Teams
      • Alabama
      • Arkansas
      • Tennessee
      • Florida
      • Michigan
      • Texas
    • Note:  The league teams had no nicknames and were going to target college football fans including playing in college football stadiums.

A-11 Football League (2014) – never played af11

  • Key Personnel:  Scott McKibben, CEO & Executive Director at Oakland Alameda Coliseum Authority.
  • Teams
    • Bay Area Sea Lions
    • Chicago Staggs
    • Dallas Wranglers
    • Denver Gold
    • Los Angeles Express
    • Michigan Panthers
    • New Jersey Generals
    • Philadelphia Stars
    • Tampa Bay Bandits

So will this new Alliance of American Football make it and walk past the graves of other failed leagues?  I love football but I have to admit that it has always been difficult to get into spring football leagues.  As much as I love football, I like having the break and having a second-class football league doesn’t seem appealing to me.  Football leagues usually cost a lot of money and new leagues have to be able to suffer the financial losses to survive.

The new AAF hopes to involve fans in the league with a better version of the NFL.  Fans will be able to stream AAF matchups live via a free app, while also accessing integrated fantasy options with real prizes — for themselves and the players they root for. Ebersol also says the league will offer “family pricing” with more affordable tickets to games.

Do I think it will last?  No.  History is against it.  It will be an accomplishment if it lasts two seasons.


Children’s Television Then And Now

childrenTVIf you have toddlers today you are probably aware that the options for viewing children’s television programs are more varied than they were in the past.  With YouTube and other sites, children now have more options than ever before.  Back in my day, it was mostly limited to whatever was on Public Television and early weekend mornings.  There were no DVD players, smart phones or any mobile device to view children’s programs away from the television set.

Back in my day some of the shows available to me were:

Captain Kangaroo

This was a show which ran for 30 years from 1955 to 1984.  The show featured Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo who would tell stories, meet guests and interact with puppets.   Not really one of my most viewed personally.

Romper Room

This show targeted children five years old and younger.  The show ran from 1953 to 1994.  The hostess and her group of children on the show would feature 30-60 minutes of games, exercises, songs, story-telling and moral lessons accompanied by background music.  The most notable part of the show was at the end of the broadcast when the hostess would look through a “magic mirror”.  I remember watching this show and waiting for that “magic mirror” and hoping for my name to be called.

The Electric Company

This show ran from 1971 to 1977 and featured mostly sketch comedy to entertain and help elementary school children develop their grammar and reading skills.  The original cast included Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, Bill Cosby, Judy Graubart, Lee Chamberlain and Skip Hinnant.  One of my favorites mostly because they had Spiderman.  I liked it better than Sesame Street.

Sesame Street

This long-running show began in 1969 and combines live action, sketch comedy, animation and, of course, puppetry.  Sesame Street is the home of Bert and Ernie, Big Bird as well as the original show for the Muppets.  I watched the show because it was difficult to ignore the Muppets.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

This show which included many puppets, characters and music.  The show featured Fred Rogers who would speak directly to the viewer about various issues, taking viewers on tours of factories, demonstrating experiments, crafts and music.  Rogers was known for his opening and closing songs such as “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”.  I was not a fan.  Didn’t watch this show much.

sesameChildren’s entertainment is a lot different today.  It is no longer limited to public television or a major television network time slot.  Here are the top shows today:

  1. Sesame Street (PBS)
  2. Super Why (PBS)
  3. Team Umizoomi (Nick Jr.)
  4. The Wiggles (Treehouse TV)
  5. Dora the Explorer (Nick Jr.)
  6. Bubble Guppies (Nick Jr.)
  7. Sid the Science Kid (PBS)
  8. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (PBS)
  9. Caillou (PBS)
  10. Paw Patrol (Nick Jr.)

If you can’t wait for these shows to air and need something for your toddler now.  Here are the top picks on YouTube:

  1. Little Baby Bum
  2. Sesame Street
  3. Blippi
  4. Baby Einstein
  5. Story Bots
  6. Mother Goose Club
  7. PBS Kids
  8. AlphaBlocks
  9. Pancake Manor
  10. ToyLabTV

It’s really funny now to see how many options there are now.  And you think kids get bored NOW?  Yeah, when we were away from the television, we had to entertain ourselves.  Those long trips in the car were indeed long trips in the car.


Baltimore Returns To Fourth Straight Final

cupThere was a time when the Baltimore Blast could not seem to break through in the early days of their franchise.  Each time they faced the New York Arrows they would come up short but the times have changed and now the Blast are the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) dynasty.


In the Eastern Conference final, the Blast jumped out to a commanding 7-3 lead at halftime as Tony Donatelli, Daniel Peruzzi and Adriano Dos Santos scored goals in the second period against the Milwaukee Wave.  The Wave stormed back in the third period to close within 7-6.  Baltimore’s Vini Dantas took back the momentum as he jumped in front of a Wave clearance attempt and headed a ball past a surprised Josh Lemos into an open goal a minute into the fourth quarter.  The Blast scored twice more to seal the win and their fourth trip to the championship game.


The Monterrey Flash broke open a 3-3 game in the Western Conference final against the San Diego Sockers in front of a home crowd of 6,086 fans with goals from Edgar González and Omar Santillan to put the Flash up 5-3.  The Sockers outshot Monterrey 8-3 in the fourth period but the Flash weathered the storm and capitalized on some crucial defensive breakdowns to wrap up the win.

The Ron Newman Cup final will be played in Monterrey on March 25th in a rematch of the 2015 final won by the Flash in a thrilling two games to one series.  The Flash won the series deciding game 4-3 in overtime.  The 2018 final will be a one-game final.

Monterrey posted a league-leading 20-2 record in the regular season.  They have outscored their playoff opponents 23-16.  The Flash sat out the last two seasons before re-entering the league this season.

Baltimore is seeking their third straight championship.  The Blast defeated Sonora Soles in the last two finals winning both deciding games in overtime.   Baltimore finished the regular season 17-5.  All five losses have been on the road.




The Lord Told Me….

Yeah, I see the way you are looking at me right now. I’ve done the same thing when I hear someone say that. It’s almost certainly an eye roll and a sigh.

“Okay, let’s hear it. What did “the Lord” tell you?”

Hey, I have fallen for this too. There was a time I would be in awe of someone who would say that. I have met people who have called themselves prophets, prophetesses and those who claimed to have a “word of knowledge” from the Lord. I used to wait anxiously to hear what these people would say or hoping they would give me a “word”. I have even tried it myself. Yeah I know. Creepy right?

It is very wise to be wary of people who say they have a word from the Lord. Too many people have abused this claim and instead of something divine, it becomes a game of Simons says.

“The Lord says touch your nose.”

“The Lord says laugh.”

“The Lord says bark.” (Oh believe me, this has happened.)

All this stuff really gives God a bad reputation that He didn’t ask for and it’s really not fair. You don’t need these super spiritual people to hear from God. You can hear from Him yourself. You don’t need a spiritual circus sideshow to do it.

The problem is that people are lazy. They want the easy answer without having to find it themselves. You don’t need a spiritual psychic to find out what God wants you to do. You just need to spend the time to do it yourself.

Like I said, I have fallen for this stuff too. I have been in awe of these people when I should have been in awe of God and seek Him for myself. No, it isn’t always the easy way. Seeking God for yourself can be hard.

If any of these people say they have a word from the Lord and it is in contradiction to the Bible they are a false prophet so you’d better beware of these folks. Don’t let yourself be manipulated by their guilt trips or warnings that you could blaspheme the Holy Ghost. They love to use those tactics to play upon your fear.

Listen to me. God will speak to you. I can’t say that it will be in an audible voice, a burning bush or an angelic visitation. God does it in many ways and methods. I have learned that you just can’t assume how God will speak. Sure, sometimes He absolutely does use other people and when He does, it is awesome.

I have learned that many times God will speak through circumstances in your life. I know that’s not a super spiritual answer but you just have let God do what He wants to do. If He wants you to know something bad enough He will find a way to get through to you. Sometimes we get anxious and impatient but I’m pretty sure that God isn’t worried.

I have always wanted to hear the audible voice of God. I went through a period in my life that I pleaded and begged God to speak to me so I could hear Him with my ears but He never did. You know what? God isn’t going to be manipulated into doing anything. We aren’t going to command Him like a genie in a bottle. We aren’t His master.

The truth is that God loves us and He wants to have a relationship with us. I know that some of those TV preachers and extreme religious people have tainted who God really is but God is interested in us and in every aspect of our lives. He wants to be included. Hey, I am not smart enough to explain this to you or to try to convince you of it. I just know He’s a God that isn’t looking to strike you with a lightning bolt and send fire down from heaven.

I love the quote from the movie “Facing the Giants” when Coach Grant Taylor says “God can do whatever He wants to do, however He wants to do it. And He chooses to work in our lives because He loves us, because He’s good.”

If you ask me in what ways God has spoken to me, I would say mostly through circumstances in my life but He has also used other people with a timely word that I needed. Not one of those “the Lord said” but something I needed to hear in the right place at the right time. Many times I have found direction when reading the Bible and applying it to my situation. Sometimes by just sitting quietly – which is a lot harder than you think it is. There have been times He has given me a sign like the time I needed to know if He wanted us to move to Nashville. I was in a store looking through T-shirts in Tampa, Florida and the moment I got that prayer out of my mouth I pulled out a shirt that had Nashville, Tennessee on it. Yeah, you can think what you want but that was a God moment. You don’t have to believe it but when it happens to you it is pretty amazing.

As far as these people who have had a “word from the Lord” for me, it never turned out to be accurate or even helpful to me. I got burned by them and I learned from it. I’m not super spiritual or a perfect little praying hands Christian but God does speak to me. I just have to listen. That’s the hardest part.

Driving 101: Show Some Respect

I get it.  We are all in a hurry to get to places we need to be and we don’t have time to be slowed down by other traffic or issues on the highways.  We are wrapped up in our own world and oblivious to others but there comes a time that we should stop for a minute and show some respect.

I have seen too many times when a funeral procession passes by that other drivers either ignore it and keep driving by or use it as an opportunity to pass other drivers who have stopped as a sign of respect.

Is it really people being that selfish and impatient or do they just not know the rules about this?

The rules vary from state-to-state so check with your state on their rules for when you encounter a funeral procession on the roadway.  For the State of Tennessee, Code 55-8-183 states:

(c) (1) Unless complying with the specific order of a law enforcement officer, no operator of a motor vehicle shall knowingly:
(A) Fail to yield the right-of-way to a properly identified funeral procession progressing across an intersection in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (a)(1);
(B) While following a properly identified funeral procession along a two-lane street, road or highway, pass or attempt to pass a properly identified funeral procession; or
(C) Drive or attempt to drive between the vehicles within a properly identified funeral procession.
(2) Each violation of subdivision (c)(1) is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00).
(3) For purposes of this subsection (c), to be a “properly identified” funeral procession, the procession must be indicated by a flashing amber light and a auditory signaling device mounted on the lead vehicle or by other properly identified escort, and a flag or other appropriate marking device on each vehicle in the procession indicating that the vehicle is part of the funeral procession.

Is it so hard to simply pull over for a few seconds until the deceased and immediate family passes by?  What if it was your family or your loved one?  We all look at this a little differently when it affects us.  I know that the times I have been part of the family that it always was comforting to see drivers show respect.  It does give you a sense of hope in humanity.

Yes, it is a moment of inconvenience and it slows us down but wouldn’t you rather slow down for a few seconds than to be IN the funeral procession?funeral-procession-etiquette-1519247332


Nashville Predators Hit 100 Point Mark

preds02The Nashville Predators stormed out to a 3-0 lead in their Central Division showdown with the Winnipeg Jets and held on for a 3-1 lead.  They also reached the 100 point total in the standings and with Tampa Bay losing, they find themselves tied for the best record in the National Hockey League (NHL) at this point.  This is the sixth time in team history the Predators have notched 100 points in a season.

To quote the grouchy Sergeant from Stripes:  “Lighten up Francis”.

The Predators haven’t won the Stanley Cup yet.  There is still a month left in the regular season and then the grueling Stanley Cup playoffs where anything can happen. The Nashville Scene recently said that the Predators are making it look easy.  Have they even watched a Predators’ game this season?  The Predators have definitely NOT made it easy.  They have had a string of two-goal comebacks as well has taking big leads only to hold on at the end.  I wouldn’t call that easy.

The Predators are 9-0-1 in the last 10 games but that means nothing yet.  Anything can happen.  Injuries.  Scoring Droughts.  Goal keeping issues.  A hockey season is a very tentative thing which is prone to emotional ups and downs.  It is a game of streaks.  I’m always very worried about a team peaking too soon and I hope this isn’t the case with the Predators.  Sure, it would be nice to be the #1 seed in the playoffs and have home-ice advantage but what good did that do for the Chicago Blackhawks last year?  It’s all about the team that is hot when the playoffs start.

preds01Need scoring?  Nashville has a roster full of them.  On any given night any of them can light the lamp.  This is a team that really doesn’t have just one player to go to for scoring.  Sometimes the problem is that their aim is off.  In the recent shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Predators hit the post NINE times.  At times their shot selection isn’t very good either.  Slap shots from the point are often blocked and easily turn into an offensive rush for the other team.    The defense is pretty solid but at times they tend to turn it over.  I am especially worried when P.K. Subban has the puck in the defensive zone.  While he is a good defender, he will often make poor choices on getting the puck out of the zone.  He needs to make better decisions.  Lately, he seems to be the weak link in the defense.

Goalkeeping is pretty solid as Pekka Rinne is having the best season of his career.   Rinne is currently 38-9-4 right now.  He is in the zone.  His backup, Juuse Saros isn’t too shabby either.  Saros, who is 7-5-6 is a rising star of the future but he is very capable when he has been called on to start.

As for special teams, the Predators are fifth in the NHL in the Power Play.  They have been really streaky.  They will go long streaks without converting and then suddenly strike.  The Power Play is very unpredictable.  When they have the puck in the offensive zone they tend to make too many passes and take very poor shots.  This area could really come back to bite them.  As far as their penalty killing, it is pretty good.  In fact, the Predators are tied with Florida in leading the league with 10 shorthanded goals.   Viktor Arvidsson is especially exciting to watch when he is in there because he looks for any opportunity to make an offensive surge.

So with all that said, I’m still not comfortable with the Predators at the top of the Western Conference standings.  In spite of what the Nashville Scene thinks, it has not come easy.  No lead has been safe.  They have only had 14 games where they have won by at least three goals so in the rest of the games, it has been anything but easy.   But, maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe those close games and games when they have had to overcome adversity will get them battle tested and ready for playing in April, May and June.  All they will need is 16 wins for the Stanley Cup.

Reaching 100 points is awesome.  Being the top team in the Western Conference is great.  Tied for the top team in the NHL is amazing.  Winning the Stanley Cup will make it all worth it.


MASL Division Champs Advance

San Diego Sockers defeat Tacoma to advance to MASL semifinals

The Ron Newman Cup kicked off the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) postseason with four division titles on the line.  Here is how they fared:

Eastern Division:  Baltimore defeated Syracuse 2 games to 0.

The two-time defending champs didn’t exactly breeze through their divisional series with Syracuse.  The Blast edged the Silver Knights 7-6 and 5-4 to sweep the series.  Baltimore took a commanding 5-1 lead into the final quarter of the opener of the series and held off the Silver Knights as they were outscored 5-2 in the final quarter.  Baltimore built yet another lead in game two with a 4-1 lead in the third but Syracuse stormed back to make it 4-3 early in the fourth.  Baltimore’s Daniel Peruzzi scored with less than four minutes left to give the Blast an insurance goal which stood up in the end after another Syracuse goal with seconds left.

Central Division:  Milwaukee defeated Cedar Rapids 2 games to 0.

Max Ferdinand scored the game winning and series winning goal with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter then the Milwaukee Wave held on 9-8 to advance to the semifinals.  Ian Bennett scored Milwaukee’s game winner 44 seconds into overtime for an 8-7 win.

Southwest Division:  Monterrey defeated Sonora 2 games to 0.

Brayan Aguilar had a hat-trick for the Monterrey Flash in game two to clinch the series 9-5 after winning the series opener 8-7.   The teams were tied 5-5 in the third quarter of game one when until Carlos Farias scored back-to-back goals to take a 7-5 lead.  Monterrey held onto the lead to take the opener on Sonora’s home turf.  Franck Tayou had a hat trick for Sonora.

Pacific Division:  San Diego defeated Tacoma 2 games to 1.

The San Diego-Tacoma series was the only division final that went to a tie-breaker game.  Tacoma opened the series with a 5-2 win at Tacoma.  The Sockers rallied to win game two at home by routing the Stars 9-3 to force a mini-game.  The Sockers stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the first five minutes to cruise to the series-clinching win.  Five different players scored for San Diego.

The division winners will now advance to play in a one-game semifinal match.  The Baltimore Blast will play the Milwaukee Wave in one semifinal game and the Monterrey Flash will face the San Diego Sockers in the other semifinal.  The Blast edged the Wave in last year’s semifinal game while the Sockers lost to Sonora