Archive | August 2011

Meeting Greatness

The sun came up this morning and the shock has worn off. Pat Summitt stood in front of her family, fans and all of women’s basketball world and gave us the 4-1-1.

It touches a nerve with me for a personal reason.

My father, Big Northside Chip, is dealing with the same situation.

He and Pat Summitt are the same age.

He and the Tennessee head coach have the same will to fight.

I’ve had a few opportunity to talk to Coach Summitt. My first was a long time ago. 1993 NCAA second round at Knoxville. I was doing radio commentary for my campus radio station who was covering the ballgame (special shoutout to all the WNUR Radio peeps for Northwestern!!) Northwestern had beaten Georgia Tech in a first-round game a few day before. Yeah, we were dreaming the dream. Survive And Advance.

Coach struck me as very regal, yet very humble. By 1993, Summitt already had three national championships. She was the face the game then as she is now. Yet, she didn’t big time anybody…even a collegiate radio crew from the opposing school. She gave us 5 good minutes and we got quite an interview. There was one thing she said, “It good to have an opportunity to play a team we’ve never seen. It’s great for the game to see more schools see the value competitive opportunities for women. We congratulate you all for being here.”

The game itself was a tough one for my team. Tennessee stomp on the pedal early and before you know it, we were down 49-8 at one point. By the time we got over the shell shock, we played well but it was too late. We lost 89-66. But, I left impressed by the grace of a great coach.

Views I’m Feeling Today: ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel on how Pat Summitt’s influence continues to affect her players long after they’ve left Tennessee. Kara Lawson: Coach Will Remain Focused

Pat Summitt with Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post: Dealing with the diagnosis.

Something from a blog I’m feeling that’ll make you think.

I was reading something from one of my recommended blogs. You know kids say the damnedest things, but more often or not those things the say are on the mark.

Black Girl In Maine has one about one of those moments. You think kids don’t see what’s going on? 

We Are With You, Coach Summitt!

Over 1,000 wins, 8 National Championships, and a high place among those who represent true grace and excellence in competition.

Coach Pat Summit, women’s basketball nation is praying for you and we are all with you!

Looking Back And Looking Ahead

When this ol’ world starts getting me down..that’s when its good to have the Little League World Series going on. Of all the excellent play seen this week, the Rhode Island-Pennsylvania game and the Mexico-Japan game were among the best matches I’ve seen in any sport so far this year.  Nothing like seeing the pure joy of young people at play.

Closer to my home base, I hear the popping of the pad. Football is underway. After work, I often find myself checking out the town Pop Warner team practicing. More of the pure joy of young people at play.

When do we lose the joy of play? When do we resign ourselves to cloudy days. When do we get cynical? When do we see joy as a exception and not as a rule?

Where was the tipping for Nevin Shapiro you think? Or perhaps he was already born cynical, or at least with the idea that everything has a price tag. The real sad thing is that for a good share of the University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes football team, they allowed themselves to be price tagged by a vicarious jock sniffer. If you haven’t read the account of the reporter who broke the story, check this out. 

Shapiro had bling and ching. Now, he wants to sing.

Shapiro apparent dropped a lot of big checks to “The U” and to the U’s stable of NFL caliber ballplayers, and keeping in line with the stereo du jour, a good number of them, including a heavy majority were black. I shake my head in sadness again know full well, that this rotten fish will smell for quite sometime and unfortunately stick to a lot of future kids looking to get their game and study thing at the college level, regardless of what penalty the NCAA gives the university in this case

What I think Miami should get? Two years of a “death penalty”.

Switching from one football state to another, more gloom and doom coming from the state of Texas. No, I’m not talking about the Longhorn network or that punishment closet at Texas Tech.

Texans like Rick Perry would have made me root for Santa Anna

Texas Governor Rick Perry is running for President in that very crowded, and slightly unhinged, Republican starting grid. This past week he talked about the nation’s debt pointing it out as the “big black cloud that hangs over America”. Now some have stated that could be a veiled shot at that guy with the rather deep tan that resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Others, mainly conservatives and perhaps a few a black blogosphere, see this is as another excuse to put on the those Field Negro RC-2190 sneakers and chase racism at a dead sprint.

My opinion? I heard the quote (and you can too) . You can make up your mind on it. However, while Perry was talking about the debt this guy also understanda which side the bread is buttered on and the constituency he is courting. Words like that, even in a nuanced way,  will strike a cord. Its no secret that one big play in the GOP’s playbook is geared toward the making Barack Obama the “other”, making him sound like and be like something “not American” . You can bet that has we roll toward Iowa and New Hampshire that we will hear the President’s full name a lot. To many people hearing”Barack Hussein Obama” is the perfect mantra that says subliminally, “he’s not like you” and “he doesn’t see America the way we do”.

But then again, you can say that about Rick Perry. After all, this guy a year ago was calling for something the return of the “Long Star Republic of Texas”. After all Mr. Perry did say ““Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that,” Perry said. “My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.”

Tim Wise said it best after the 2010 elections, “by then you will have gone  all-in as a white nationalist movement – hell, you’ve all but done that now.”

Division and derision will be the play should the Republicans face third and long deep on their side of the field vs. President Obama next year.  Even with the disagreements I have with the Obama administration on a number of key issues, I see the GOP facing a lot of those third-down situations and I don’t see them having a quarterback who can convert them. The GOP record and rhetoric have proven and will continue to prove this theory again and again.

Quite frankly, I see them much like the Addams Family…

I hope they return to their coffins when the sun comes up

     They’re creepy and they’re kooky. They’re greedy and they’re spooky. They’re altogether loony…They are the G-O-P!

Turning to a safer sport, NFL Football. A couple things made me smile Sunday. First, San Diego Chargers 20, Dallas Cowboys 7.  Anytime you beat “America’s Team”, its never a bad thing.

Secondly, I’m interested to see if this year’s Michael Vick Second Chance Award Winner continues to play well.

Welcome back Plexiglas! Just remember if you feel the need to take a gun to the nightspot you seriously should reconsider going to that establishment.

Plaxico Burress. The man has paid his debt to society. It was a good game, but it was preseason and it was against the Bengals. I hope he continues to play well, and that he perhaps stays home more often and curls up with the good book instead of venturing out into the New York night and getting in some mischief.

And now, something that always makes me smile..

Lookin' at my Armitron its about that time 🙂

Through all the choas, strife, the 2012 campaign where whoever wins you get a same you can believe in. Amid the torrents of a bad economy, a revolution in Tripoli and bad reality TV. After a summer of  flood, potential nuclear disaster and the City of Omaha fighting over a deal for their firefighters…The one constant that makes a smile worth smiling and gives a good solid escape is Nebraska Football. GO BIG RED! 🙂

And Finally, a edition of Northside Chip’s “What Was Said/What Was Meant”

What Was Said: “The next superintendent of Omaha Public Schools a laser-like focus on improving student achievement and eliminating the African-American achievement gap. “The next Omaha Public School superintendent will have a profound impact on Omaha’s future workforce,” — Nebraska Governor Dave Heinemann

What Was Meant: “The next Omaha Public Schools superintendent wont get any help from me.”

 

School Days, Rainy Days, Strange Days Indeed.

Its the first day of the school on The Northside Corner. To our future Northsiders, stretch your mind and your butt will follow.

To all the parents: Please resolve to be an active participant in your child’s education if you haven’t already. Know your child’s teacher. Know the resources. Make sure they know who you are, and if can..volunteer, mentor, be in your school’s PTA. Too many people complain about the state of education in our country. Very few actually get active enough to turn complaint into solution.

And it doesn’t take a lot of time to do that, and it worth making the time.

I dedicate following to my mom who was a dedicated schoolteacher.

Let’s  resolve to END TEACHER BASHING. Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of dedicated people will be standing in front school classrooms from Bangor to Honolulu. Some will be hardened veterans. Some will be fresh out of grad school or college. Some will be moving into new schools or new towns. Some maybe returning to the classroom after a time in another field. Others may be transitioning from another field to develop the next generation of what they’ve been. All deserve our support for a job that is underappreciated, insulted and belittled all too often.

As you drop off your child to the schoolhouse, take one minute to meet, greet and thank that teacher. Each day, they have the future of our nation in their hands. They can always use a hand from the rest of us.

In the fun department. I’m ready from the Monday Nitro. NASCAR’s romp on the road at Watkins Glen. Football preseason is in full swing, and this week your truly unveils Northside Chip’s Omaha Stories. During my romp home from Native Omaha Days, and went through the hoods and talked to some interesting people. I plan on sharing what I saw and heard on the Corner.

In the not-so-fun-part of the fun department. Hullabaloo, WHAT THE HECK? Texas A&M to the SEC? And then not to the SEC? Ego, thy nickname is “Aggie”.

I’m not one to get all irate over the continuing perestroika in college athletics. To me it isn’t about students or fans. This is about suits in the suites flashing cash and flaunting clout. However, Texas A&M action seems to be driven more from the continuing inferiority complex Texas A&M has when it comes to Texas. Now that Texas has their Longhorn Network, its only worse.

At the same time, I just have to shake my head and grin at the fellows in Austin. The University of Texas is playing their hand well. They know that whichever way the well turns, they have every out. If they have a Big XII, they will have the money advantage. If they don’t get their way, they go it alone. If they decide to go it alone, they have the wherewithal to do it.

Don’t hate Texas, because you ain’t Texas. If any school had the advantage, they’d play it.

Now strange days? That was what I saw in Iowa over the weekend. First there was the debate where every GOP hopeful except for Ron Paul had the same platform, “We just wanna get rid of Barack Obama!” Nevermind how they’ll govern once they get him out.

But remember, the Republicans aren’t really  into that governing thing.

But that isn’t the freakiest thing. It was the straw poll. Michelle Bachmann came through with a meaningless victory on paper at first…But then Tim Pawlenty decided finishing third means “fuhgettaboutit” and dropped out and a first other may as well. This may be a sign of how the primary season of 2012 could go.

For me? Its a sign of a continuing complaint of mine: The whole campaign season is too dang long!

    If I were king. No events before January 2nd of the election year. No primaries before Feburary 14 th. During the primary season, any campaign ads can only be ran within 5 days of a primary or caucus and only in the states holding a primary or caucus.

Once the primaries end. NO POLITICAL ADVERTISING OF ANY KIND outside of news coverage of the conventions until one week after the last major party convention.

During the general election campaign, advertising is allowed until 7 days prior to election day. At that point. It’s a blackout. NO ADVERTISING. NO TELEVISION. NO SIGNS. NO 527s. NOT EVEN A BUS BENCH.

What will this proposal do?

1. It will shorten the campaign season.

2. Hopefully, it will tighten the focus and get voters looking at the campaign while lowering the risk of campaign fatigue for the voters.

3. Hopefully it will lower the ridiculous amounts of money it takes to get elected.

Nah. The politicos will never buy it. 🙂

   

Here’s To Football :)

           Saturday August 6. A special day.

          In Canton, Ohio the next great ones enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Les Richter.  Chris Hanburger. Richard Dent. Ed Sabol. Marshall Faulk. Shannon Sharpe. Deion Sanders.

          Each certainly worthy. Four of the six, I’ve seen their work up close. Dent was one of the best defensive players I’ve seen since I started watching the pro game. Faulk, was always fun to watch. He was a Swiss army knife running back. Shannon Sharpe was ultimate H-back. He was the next evolution of the tight end an offensive weapon.

          And yeah…”Prime Time”. Say what you want about Deion Sanders. He was great at what he did. He cut off half the field, and if he had open field after an interception or a punt, you were giving up six. I never saw a player that could flat out accelerate like Deion Sanders.

        And then there’s Big Ed. To me, Ed Sabol ties this class, and every Hall of Fame Class together. He ties generations of football fans together. From old fans who saw the game grow before their eyes, to the youngest fans of today who will tell their grandkids how great Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers were 30 years from. Because of NFL Films, we have a comprehensive record of this sport and that is something this football fan doesn’t take lightly. To be able to see the greatness of a Johnny Unitas or a Jim Brown is special. Its true, it pails compared to being alive at the time. But, to have the frame of reference to see not just in oral history but in actual fact is something valuable and special.

         There are some who say that Ed Sabol should not have a bust in Canton today. I would contend that because of him, all those busts sitting in the Hall of Fame now and every one that will be placed there afterward will shine a little brighter because more eyes got a glimpse of why those player were that great. You can thank Ed Sabol for that.

     I’m a giddy football fan today. The Hall of Fame puts in a new class. The training camps are open. The lockout is over.

     And down in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Huskers get it going again!

     Today, practices open. 27 days from now, Saturday September 3, 2011. Chattanooga open the season. Nebraska begins a new year in a new league with new promise, and #20 preseason rankings.

     Friday was fan day in Lincoln. The day where all the Big Red faithful get some time to meet the ballclub and get autographs. The columnists at the Omaha World-Herald, Tom Shatel and Sam McKewon are asking if the fan day should be just for the kids. They’ve gotten more than a few comments on it. Some people who went report that they saw grown menfolk cutting little kids in autograph lines to get a Taylor Martinez or a Bubba Starling. I find some of the reports a little hard to believe, but then again football fanaticism can lead to strange behavior.

     I’ve never been an autograph person myself. I do own a few and gotten a few, but for the most part I’d rather actually interact with some noted person, shake their hand, let them know how much I enjoy what they do. You maybe talk for a little bit and then you keep it moving. You are happy, and I find they are, too.

    I don’t buy the concept of being “too old” to want to get an autograph. No more than I buy the concept of being “too old” to wear a jersey. Let people enjoy their thing their way, as long as they aren’t being destructive or rude to other folks whats the harm? Now when some autograph shark is cutting in front of a kid for an autograph that they are probably going to sell anyway? That’s being rude and I think that is where other adults fans need to check that person.

    I agree with the concept that at times we take sport fandom a little too seriously. Every fan is guilty of it at some point, myself included. However, trying to put an arbitrary “grow up” edict is going too far the other way to me. Yeah, I’ll agree that sometimes, you can do better than rocking some jersey just out and about, but to say no one should? That’s a little much. (My personal rule — 1. I only wear custom jerseys with my name on it, and the new I choose on it.)

    To me, as long as they aren’t being overly drunk or stupid and are positive supporting the teams, let fans be fans and don’t restrict fan day to just the kids. I agree with Mr. McKewon.

The culture of Nebraska football is passed down to kids. But it’s passed down from adults.

   Besides, there are worse thing you can flag grown men on. Like why a grown man with a wedding band on his hand can be in a strip club by himself. 😉

 

WHY?

           I saw them Saturday night at the Spaulding Bar in North Omaha. Three homies I hadn’t seen since much of since we graduated high school. Three cats I was tight with when we were just plebies at Morton Junior High. My boys Clarence Brown, Kevin McGee and Kerry Baker.

           It was a joy just to see them. Pounds and daps all over the place. The pure happiness of seeing old running buddies who were…well….old….and perhaps wiser for the wear. Clarence was the in service and been all over the world. Kevin had gone into business and Kerry? Man, Kerry was on a wild ride. He got into a little trouble out of high school, landed in jail for a little bit, but he got himself together and along the way just bit by the writing bug. A few months ago, his first novel Playboy Mack hit the shelves, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. The story is a semiautobiographical sketch of a player-turned-hustler and the choices he makes both good and bad. It’s a gritty, but good read and it got my attention. I was planning to have the author himself join us on the Corner for an interview for this blog. That interview was scheduled to be conducted Thursday August 4.

          But what happened on the afternoon of Wednesday August 3 changed those plans, and perhaps much more. Kerry puts on work at a barber shop when he’s not writing. Cutting hair. Mind probably on his wife and the upcoming sequel to Playboy Mack.

         Two men entered the shop with guns. They opened fire and then fled. Baker was left greviously wounded.

         As I write this, Baker is in an Omaha hospital in critical conditionOne news reporter said he looked “lifeless” on the stretcher.

        WHY? Right after a fun and wonderful Native Omaha Days, WHY?

        WHY? Why did two violent, evil men stalk and shoot a man just living his life and trying to do well for himself…WHY?

        WHY? Why is a black Nebraskan 18-times more likely to be the victim of a homicide than any other ethnic group in the state?  WHY?

       WHY? This is the third such incident in the past 3 days alone in Omaha WHY?

       WHY?

      And the bigger question….What are we as North Omahans going to do about this ridiculous level of violence?

      North Omaha, can we do better ? North Omaha, will we do better ? North Omaha, we must do better!

      UPDATE: Omaha Police reports that the injuries are no longer life-threatening.