Fall 2013

Category for archiving purposes.

13 Things About 2013

13 Things About 2013

by Tuesday Morning Tailback

As the regular season ends and we anticipate the 11 elimination games of the playoffs, Tuesday Morning Tailback has come up with a list of observations from the 2013 season. Some of these you may find obvious, some profound, and some just plain wacky.

1. The Denver Broncos Have the Greatest Offense – Ever. This past week left absolutely no doubt as the Broncos became the first team to eclipse 600 points in a season while Peyton Manning broke the all-time single season passing yards mark. Manning also built on the passing touchdowns record he broke last week, padding it to an incredible 55 (the old record was 50). And just to shore things up, kicker Matt Prater broke the record for most extra points in a season, the same season in which he kicked the longest field goal ever. Still, the team must win three more or all this is for not.

2. St. Louis Rams Have the Brightest Future of the 20 Teams That Missed the Playoffs. If you look closely at the Rams’ season, you’ll see that they were much better than their 7-9 record would indicate. With impressive wins over the Colts and Saints and very tight losses to the Seahawks and 49ers, the Rams played with heart all year despite the fact that they had a backup quarterback and other key injuries most of the time. Add to this, the #2 overall pick which they’ll get from the Redskins along with their own first round pick at #13 and you’ve got a bright future in St. Louis.

3. Bill Belichick Really Does Know How to Coach. The odd man with the strange array of hoodies only added to his strong legacy this year when he led the New England Patriots to yet another AFC East Championship (that’s 11 in 14 seasons as coach) and the second best record in the AFC. This was in a year when the Patriots lost Wes Welker to free agency, Aaron Hernandez to a murder charge, Rob Gronkowski to another major injury and three key players on defense – Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Tommy Kelly. The playoffs will be tough but, even if they don’t go far, this has to be one of the greatest coaching seasons ever.

4. The Steelers Got Screwed. I’m no apologist for Pittsburgh, but I thought it was galling of the NFL to admit the rather minor mistake of missing an off-sides in the Kansas City-San Diego game, while ignoring the fact that an obvious fumble returned for a game winning TD was whistled dead. In either of those cases had the correct call been made, the Chiefs would have won the game and Pittsburgh would have made the final playoff spot instead of San Diego. Combine these gross mistakes with the bad calls in the Minnesota game, the overblown Mike Tomlin sideline incident, and another terrible whistle-dead call on an apparent Steelers touchdown in Baltimore on Thanksgiving night and there legitimately is much to gripe about in Pittsburgh.

5. The ‘Stick’ Will Be Missed. One of the last remaining classic stadiums in the NFL may have seen its last days. Candlestick Park, the terrible old stadium with odd corners that was never really built for football but saw more than its share of legendary action, will be replaced by yet another sanitized, revenue-generating facility in the Silicon Valley that regular fans won’t be able to afford. Now, I realize that the 49ers were one of the last holdouts with legendary, ancient stadiums, but as I wrote about in 2011, tradition means something in the NFL and it will ultimately suffer because of rapid re-generation.

6. Kyle Orton Is Exactly the Same Quarterback as Tony Romo. So, the Dallas Cowboys lost a close game late when their quarterback, who had a decent game and made some impressive throws earlier, choked with a late interception to end all hope. There’s nothing new to see here.

7. Those Shanahans Really Did Need to Be Fired. Near the beginning of this calendar year, I wrote a half-parody called Those Shanahans Need to Be Fired, which was really more about scapegoating and the city of Washington than the talents of Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle. Well, yesterday the axe really did fall after a dismal 3-13 season.

8. Changes Aren’t Permanent, But Change Is. That 3-13 Redskins season mentioned in #7 is one of several examples of 2012 playoff teams free-falling to the bottom. You’ve also got the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and (worst of all) the Houston Texans, who finished with 14 consecutive losses. On the flip side, is the rapid rises of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, with Andy Reid leaving one for the either and both benefitting greatly.

9. Michael Vick Should Stay in the Doghouse. On that Eagles note, let’s hope that the Michael Vick “rehabilitation tour” has finally run its course. Please don’t make us roll over and beg for mercy.

10. Northern Tears Continue to Flow. Early in the season, we chronicled the incredible championship droughts of three once-great teams from about a half-century ago. Well, after all three showing signs of life midway through the season, the Detroit Lions blew a cakewalk to their division title by dropping their last four games, the Buffalo Bills refused to rise above mediocrity, and the Cleveland Browns continued to be self-fulfilling prophets of doom. Well, there is always next year.

11. Aaron Rodgers Is a Good Quarterback. I cannot express how impressive that 4th-and-8 play, with the game and season on the line, was by Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. Rodgers, who had missed 7 games with a shoulder injury and had played gingerly all game, went against the blitz and against the grain with no safety valve to launch the ball 50 yards in the air for the winning touchdown. All this in a winner-take-all game between the longest rivals, Packers and Bears. Wow!

12. NFL Red Zone Really is the Best. We kind of trashed Scott Hanson and NFL Red Zone because of their off week last week, but during this past Sunday with frantic action affecting playoff scenarios all over the place, the seven hours of commercial free football proved to be the best seat in the house once again.

13. Eli Manning Has Multiple Personalities. Someone ought to write a series called “The 10 Seasons of #10” chronicling the incredible roller-coaster career of Eli Manning. Has there ever been a quarterback who was twice clutch in Super Bowl championship runs but had some very shakey interception-infested seasons in between?

Now for the second season. Enjoy the NFL playoffs!

~

Tuesday Morning TailbackTuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.

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Ugly Season Ends in Beautiful Victory

Ugly Season Ends in Beautiful Victory

by J.D. Cook

Final Score: NY Giants 20 Washington Redskins 6

When football is played in ugly, nasty, horrible weather it is nothing short of beautiful! My favorite foul weather to see a football game take place in is snow. Since the temperature today was a bit too high I got to watch a dreary cold rain game instead. That was fine by me! Both teams were playing for pride and pride alone. I was honestly a bit worried about the Redskins as they have been on a massive loosing streak of late giving them extra incentive to land a victory and have been looking better in recent games. Unfortunately for them the rain completely nullified all of their talent. The Giants managed one long drive in the first half capped off with a touchdown to emerging receiver Jerrel Jernigan. In the second half the Redskins played ultra conservatively throughout even though Eli Manning was off the field turning the Giants into what should have been a feast for the win hungry Redskins. On a short 4th down far in their own territory the Redskins elected to punt the ball instead of going for it. Now it was deep in their territory but it’s the final game of the season and probably Mike Shanahan’s tenure in Washington. Why not just go for it? Well I am glad they didn’t because on the first offense play after that punt Jernigan scored his second touchdown on a reverse.

It was exceedingly nice to see the Giants with a spark on offense even after Manning went down at the end of the 1st half effectively ending his season. To be honest I did not even know who our second string Quarterback was until he took the field. Curtis Painter did an ok job standing in for Manning in the second half. It was nothing to write home about as he only completed two passes but he didn’t make any major mistakes and managed the team, keeping us in the lead. Enough about the offense though! The defense was what really won this game! Justin Tuck once again showed the New York Giants that he is one of the few players who should escape the inevitable off season axe that is coming down with two sacks and a forced fumble. Along with him linebacker Jon Beason put up a big game leading the team in tackles with eight. Add to that mix Antrel Rolle who should be in the pro-bowl with the season he has had and I think the Giants are actually pretty solid on defense heading into next season. I think we need to supplement these players with fresh defensive linemen, linebackers and corners but I wouldn’t be surprised if a good amount of things stayed the same on this side of the ball. They can in no way be blamed for the teams woes this year and they closed out the year with a resounding beat down of the Redskins just to drill home that fact to management.

This game had a hilarious 11 fumbles and interceptions. I mean you know both offenses are as bad as the weather when that happens. I’m just glad we had guys playing with as much heart as Peyton Hillis. This will probably be his final game as a New York Giant but he helped the offense immensely contributing a hard hitting runner as well as a champion’s drive to win despite the team’s losing record from the first day he joined the team. That said the Giants biggest needs right now all surround the offensive running game. They need new running backs and linemen to regenerate the ground attack necessary to carry the Giants into the post season again. I am excited to see what happens this off season and I hope that while rebuilding our management does not loose sight of those that have helped us on the past decade of success.

Until Next season I bid you all a very fond farewell!

Let’s Go Big Blue! (in 2014)

***
New York Giants Blog by J.D. CookThe Giants Blog is published every Monday during the NFL season while the New York Giants remain viable contenders (which in 2011 was right to the end and their Super Bowl championship). On the weeks when the Giants have a Monday night game, the blog will be published on Wednesday. The blogs are thoughtful (albeit heavily biased) analysis of the Giants’ performance from our editor-in-chief and Giant fanatic J.D. Cook.

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Happy ‘Comic Book’ Holidays

Happy ‘Comic Book’ Holidays

by J.D. Cook

Today’s Comic Book Commentary will unfortunately be a bit short due to the Holidays but I do have an announcement for the coming weeks! I will be doing a countdown of the Top 5 Comic Book Stores in Pennsylvania. I may also follow that up with a countdown of the 5 best Comic stores in New York City. So make sure you check out the site next week to discover what the 5th best comic store in Pennsylvania is!

Now onto last week’s comics! I’d love to discuss the shocking twists and turns of Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man but I unfortunately could not get a copy of it! I did pick up Saga issue 17, Thor God of Thunder issue 16 and the Uncanny Avengers issue 15. All good stuff in its own right but I need to know what happened to my favorite bully turned super hero Flash Thompson! Luckily this loss was supplemented by the happy surprise of a new issue of the Private Eye! First onto Brian K. Vaughan’s other big work in progress Saga.

Words cannot express how shocked I was with a certain even occurring near the end of Saga issue 17. I do not even think I can properly talk about it. One of the many great things about independent comics is the sense of finality when a character is dispatched. Marvel and D.C. can never really kill any of their characters. They are a continually ongoing mythology that also supplies their company with large amounts of cash. Whereas independent comics usually exist to give the world great stories. Such is the case with Saga and the recent character death. I really do not want to go into detail on it for fear of spoilers but I will say it was completely unexpected and completely final. There was no sense that the dead character would ever be back. Although interestingly in the Saga universe ghosts are a very real thing. Baby Hazel’s babysitter is in fact a ghost so I suppose the dead character could come back but I do not think he will and Hazel’s babysitter was a ghost because it was her duty to be spiritual protector of her planet after she died. So Vaughan may have intentionally explained that to assure readers that characters becoming ghosts was not the norm thus bringing me back to immense sadness over the loss of the character who I cannot name. Anyway I will say no more for the grief is still to near. If you like comics and have not been reading Saga you are doing yourself a disservice. I mean I even wrote an article inspired by it saying that the Best Science Fiction is in Comic Books in my first ever Comic Book Commentary article!

The Private Eye is another fascinating work worthy of an article dedicated specifically to it. Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin started the series online only. People can pay whatever they want or not pay at all and download a copy of the PDF. I love this idea immensely but I acknowledge it will probably only work for established creators. That said I’d love to be proven wrong on this count. Anyway the story is that after everyone’s internet history was revealed to the world people banned the internet and started dawning disguises to hide their identity whilst living life in order to keep their privacy. It’s a really fantastic science fiction concept that is near and dear to my own ideas on the internet. The primary story is a classic noir detective tale. A dame hires detective to look into the death of her sister and they discover a dark and evil plan! In this case it turns out the villain wants to…wait for it…re-establish…THE INTERNET! NOOO! You have to read the series to understand all the great moments of it. The detectives grandfather is from our own tech obsessed generation and he is a hilarious preview of what we Millennials might just end up as; primarily tech dependent.

Onto Uncanny Avengers! The steam keeps building in Rick Remender’s epic. I believe Captain America has now been dispatched. Isn’t it ironic that I talked about how Marvel never kills characters and then I discuss the one book on the market right now where characters are dying like crazy? Well in the case of Uncanny Avengers I believe all the deaths will be wiped away by good old time travel. That said it is still pretty gut wrenching to see characters you love killed in brutal fashion. The Apocalypse Twins continue to prove themselves as interesting and compelling villains while the story builds. I’m still waiting for Kang to rear his ugly head and hopefully when he does it will change everything!

Lastly Thor was good but not great. The Accursed story arc started out really interesting bringing Malekith, who was the primary antagonist in Thor: The Dark World, back into the Marvel Universe but the story has gotten less interesting in the last two issues. Hopefully the ending will surprise and delight me!

Until Next ‘Thor’s Day’!

Past Comic Book Commentaries

Eon Viant
Red Branch Publications ‘Cascade’
Comic Book Catchup
Laying the Hammer Down on ‘Thor’s Day’
Boycott X-Men: Days of Future Past

NFL Dead Zone

NFL Dead Zone

by Tuesday Morning Tailback

NFL Red Zone is one of the best ideas to come around in recent years. Debuting in 2009, this premium channel offers live, commercial-free NFL coverage on Sunday afternoons during the regular season. The mission of the channel is in its name – to display live coverage of the most crucial action once a team moves into the “red zone” (within opponents 20 yard line).

Based in NFL Network studios, the channel is hosted by Scott Hanson. With his national “remote control”, Hanson selects what action to show of the sometimes ten concurrent games, promising to show every score from every game. This “whip around” coverage also is used to show quick replays of big plays such as turnovers, deep pass completions, and other important key plays.

I first came across Red Zone as a subscriber to NFL Sunday Ticket, and soon made the determination that this one channel was all I needed to enjoy Sunday football. So, for the past few years, I have been an avid consumer of this channel and it had never let me down. Until this past Sunday, December 22nd.

During the nine early games (usually the most effective part of the Red Zone experience), Hanson seemed overly fascinated by the Cowboys-Redskins game. Sure, this game had some playoff indications, but nothing even remotely close to the Saints-Panthers game on at the same time, which was close throughout and came down to the last second. The most egregious failure came late in the game, when NFL Red Zone decided to stick with the Cowboys game during the garbage-time kneel-downs and MISSED the live action of Peyton Manning throwing his 51st touchdown to break the all-time, single-season record! In the irony of ironies, Red Zone viewers were watching Tony Romo kneel down as a Fox analyst praised his brilliant day (225 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception), while at that EXACT SAME MOMENT Manning was breaking a record for the ages during a ho-hum 400 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions day.

The late games were no better. Even though there were only five games, Hanson nearly totally ignored the Giants-Lions game (and I felt this first hand, having a Lions fan and a Giants fan in my presence). By the second half of this game, we were starting to take notes, and Hanson did totally ignore all but the very end of a half where the Lions overcame a 10 point deficit to eventually go up by 7 and the Giants rallied back to tie the game and send it to overtime. During most of this time, Red Zone spent long spans showing live coverage of the Patriots-Ravens game (a New England blowout from start to finish), even staying with this game for long spans between plays and only showing New York-Detroit scores on replay. What happened there?As J.D. Cook put it in his Giants Blog this week; “It was like being stuck at the mercy of some kind of television Big Brother.”

Now, I realize nobody’s perfect, and Hanson and Red Zone were pretty much flawless through 15 weeks of this season, so it is almost a shame that our first mention of Red Zone is in a negative light. But this is the time of year to bring your ‘A’ game and we fans expect better than we got on Sunday. We have one week left to decide the final playoff spots and Red Zone will have its heaviest load of 15 games this coming Sunday afternoon. I’m sure Hanson and the network will get back on their game, cover only the best live action, and recover nicely to finish out the season. After all, Tony Romo will not be playing.

~

Tuesday Morning TailbackTuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.

Other Sports Related Articles

Christmas in Detroit

Christmas in Detroit

by J.D. Cook

Final Score: NY Giants 23 Detroit Lions 20

23-20 is a historic score for the New York Giants. That was the very score they defeated the Green Bay Packers by in the 2007 N.F.C. Championship Game. It was also the score they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by when I saw them live in Lincoln Financial Field under the threat of death by rabid Eagles’ fans. So it is nice to see that score when the Giants defeat my little brothers favorite team the Detroit Lions. In essence Christmas came to Detroit in the form of a Giants win for me!

I was impressed by how well the Giants played in the first half of the game. They seemed calm, cool and collected. On offense they didn’t make any major mistakes and drove down the field for a score. On defense the Giants held the Lions to only 3 points which is extremely impressive considering how high powered the Lions offense has looked this season. In the second half it looked like things would take a decidedly droll turn as the Lions scored a touchdown and got a safety. As usual the Giants offense was not able to do anything to give the defense a break and never really established the run. Thankfully the Giants defense stepped up to the plate as Will Hill returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game. In overtime the Giants did enough to win on offense by getting into field goal range. The defense also held Matt Stafford from scoring a single touchdown! All is well that ends well and now we take the Detroit Lions down into the off-season with us! Muhaha! Unfortunately I did have one big complaint with this game but it had nothing to do with either team.

I was stuck watching NFL Red Zone today. I already didn’t really like the idea of it as I am a fanatical Giants fan. I enjoy watching other football games but when the Giants are on the rest of the world kind of falls into my peripheral. Red Zone forces you to watch only those teams that are in ‘the Red Zone’ and the NFL Network controls what you view. It’s like being stuck at the mercy of some kind of television Big Brother. I do not like anything about the concept but I can usually tolerate it when I have to. Sadly this was one of the Sundays I had to deal with it and it just seemed like the the N.F.L. Network knew it. They kept focusing on the blowout match up of New England vs Baltimore or the Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh game instead of the Giants / Lions game…even when the Giants game only had 2:00 minutes left! They’d also linger on every other team while they were on challenges or time outs forcing me to watch the Giants game online during critical drives! It was a pretty maddening day of football! Thankfully it was made less disgusting by the taste of victory.

Next week we close out our season at a resurgent Washington. They may not have their starting quarterback and they may have a bunch of issues in the locker room but they have been playing their opponents tough of late. Hopefully we can close our lost season out with a strong victory. Last year we ended the season by blowing out Philadelphia and that gave me a pretty good vibe going into the off-season. Obviously that good vibe didn’t turn into anything this season but it was nice. So here’s to one last victory for what has been a fairly consistent Coughlin coaching staff and team before Ownership hopefully guts a large amount of it in the offseason. Here’s to a bit of change to make us a playoff team again next year!

***
New York Giants Blog by J.D. CookThe Giants Blog is published every Monday during the NFL season while the New York Giants remain viable contenders (which in 2011 was right to the end and their Super Bowl championship). On the weeks when the Giants have a Monday night game, the blog will be published on Wednesday. The blogs are thoughtful (albeit heavily biased) analysis of the Giants’ performance from our editor-in-chief and Giant fanatic J.D. Cook.

Other Sports Related Articles

Eon Viant

Eon Viant

by J.D. Cook

The best part about reviewing comic books is that people occasionally send me stuff I get REALLY excited about. This was the case with Eon Viant.  The story follows a crack team of soldiers before focusing in on the main character Gabriel Honor. He is a man with a nearly unlimited amount of power. Essentially he is a living interface with the world. So he can manipulate bricks to become a chain around an enemy, turn cars into his personal guns or anything else he wants to do involving the world we live in. He is dubbed an Eon Viant by his peers, hence the comic book’s title. Obviously the story wouldn’t be very interesting if he was the only Eon Viant though. In the pages I read he came up against two foes that had his powers and one of them wielded those powers with arguably more skill and knowledge. You will have to read the comic book for yourself to see if he comes out on top.

Releasing a comic book on the web is a tricky prospect this day in age. Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin have probably done it better than anyone else with the Private Eye but that is due at least in part to their experience and popularity among the main stream comic book industry. It is much harder and daring for a virtually unknown creator to do the same thing. So it is immensely impressive to see the series creator James Hill doing just that, especially on facebook! It is a good way to start building the series and not have to go through a publisher to do it. William Allan Reyes’ art is fantastic. Although it is black and white it never fails to give depth and excitement to every panel. It certainly seems to be influenced by anime and I think that might be why I like it so much. As I read the story I just sort of pictured it all happening like an anime in my head.

One of the tricky things about Eon Viant is that it is a story told in snap shots. So pages don’t exactly directly follow one another. There may be a fight about to happen on one page and on the next the victor is standing over his foe. Even with the snap shot style I think most readers will be hooked on the story by page 16. This style is done because the comic is trying to drive interest in the story and it’s one of many reasons I’d love to see this as a full comic book. Eon Viant’s creator James Hill is currently running a Kickstarter for the story. I highly recommend checking it out HERE and putting some money into seeing this awesome story get further developed. I mean how else will I find out the back story of the Universe Gabriel inhabits? Or if he will turn on humanity and the House of Knights?! I’m hooked on this story and I definitely need to see it come to fruition so that I can get my fill of it.

See you next ‘Thor’s Day’ for another Comic Book Commentary!

Past Comic Book Commentaries

Red Branch Publications ‘Cascade’
Comic Book Catchup
Laying the Hammer Down on ‘Thor’s Day’
Boycott X-Men: Days of Future Past
Uncanny Venom, Hilarious Captain America

Forging His Fate through Failures

Forging His Fate through Failures

by Jeff Thomas

How poker adds fuel to Paul Pierce’s competitive fire

Failures, disappointments, upsets: these are just some of the bitter experiences a poker player endures on a daily basis. Like many of their more physically-gifted counterparts in major US sports like basketball and football, these card gamers also go through the process of either succumbing to the constant pressure of an everyday struggle for supremacy or rising above adversity and feeling the ecstasy after a hard-fought battle. For NBA veteran Paul Pierce, he has probably been through and seen almost all imaginable challenge that faces the life of a superstar athlete; but sitting in front of the world famous green tables of poker, the test of battling against some of the world’s most vicious card sharks proved to be a different beast on its own.

Proudly wearing the colors of the world-famous Boston Celtics for 15 years – before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last summer – Paul Pierce has constantly shown basketball fans his tenacity and drive towards achieving greatness. Coming out of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program, the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft strived hard to reach his goals; weathering the bumps and bruises en route to his first – and only – NBA Championship in 2008. To say that this accomplishment was simply the cherry on top of his illustrious career is a huge understatement, as Paul Pierce always dreamt of becoming the greatest. He loved the challenge. And coming into the tail end of his legendary basketball career, “The Truth” saw a rather solacing ground this time in the world of poker.

As a relatively newbie in the live tournament poker circuit, Paul Pierce has not yet come remotely close to his hard court achievements. In fact, he has notoriously made a few unproductive attempts in the World Series of Poker Main Event. However, Pierce – like the fierce competitor that he’s known to be – has exhibited the same respect, passion, and hunger he shows during basketball games while playing poker. This ideal isn’t foreign to athletes like Pierce, as some of the world’s most well-known sports figures have also crossed the same road as the Oakland, California-native – but accomplished a rather different result. A partypoker blog once featured the rise of a female poker player named Kara Scott, and documented the beginning of her promising career in the world of Texas Hold’em. From being a TV sports presenter from Brighton, Scott impressively beat out fellow sports personalities in the PartyPoker.com Sports Stars Challenge III to fully legitimize her status as a force to be reckoned with on the felt.

Of course not every athlete can have the same fate as Kara Scot’s. And for Paul Pierce, there’s nothing wrong in getting the short end of the stick when playing live tournament poker. Because sometimes that’s where competitors learn the value of accepting the harsh realities of failure and improving oneself in order to achieve greatness. Now along with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, Pierce has learned to accept his new role as one of the reliable players off-the-bench. Together they have slowly found their stride after a dismal start to the season and learned to adjust on-the-fly just like how a promising poker player and a world-class basketball talent should.