Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lock-out OR Conspiracy? You be the judge...

In 4 more weeks, the NFL regular season is over and we are headed into the playoffs. Can you believe it? The post-season will be here as quick as Santa! 
And just think, we almost didn’t have any football this year….remember?
No? Yeah, me neither.
Seems like an absurd, distant headline, doesn’t it?
From back in July: “I know it’s early to say this but the NFL is on the verge of not having a season. Any NFL fan sees this as a tragedy and if they are as pessimistic about the situation as I am they are either 1) coming to terms with the possibility of there not being a season and experiencing the most boring fall/winter ever or 2) cursing the players and the owners for wanting more money.”
Well, the lock-out lasted a whopping 135 days - messed up mini-camps, some OTAs…and… so what?
For all the gloom and doom predictions, this 2011 season has been just as thrilling and loaded with parity as any I’ve ever seen!
And, ironically, it seems to me that the “uh-oh-lock-out” headlines did nothing but draw even more attention to the NFL in the off-season – way more attention than a “business-as-usual” off-season ever could have.
Hey, wait….do I smell a conspiracy? Ok, I won’t go there. Just not that kind of blog.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Pass the pizza and bring on the playoffs!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Al Davis: Visionary, Legendary, Feminist? Yep.

There have been a lot of colorful adjectives used to describe Al Davis over the years – some scathing and others admiring. With his passing this last weekend, people have been reflecting back to see what made this man the extraordinary figure and force that he was for the NFL.

One thing that most might miss: Did you know that in 1997 Al Davis hired the first female CEO in the NFL?  Her name is Amy Trask. And she is STILL the only woman in the NFL with those credentials.
Amy Trask grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a degree in political science and a law degree from the USC Gould School of Law. She became a fan of the Oakland Raiders while at Berkeley.

“I did an internship for the Raiders [1983] while I was in graduate school in Southern California. It had long been a dream of mine to work for the Raiders,” Trask has said.
After completing her degree in political science in 1985, she worked for a law firm in L.A. But two years later, she reunited with her Raiders’ and Al Davis, who had remembered the young intern.

In 1997, Davis promoted Trask to the top post inside the Raider Nation. She’s still there today, and all reports indicate she will be for a long time to come.
In interviews, Trask has shared that one of the guiding principles of the Raider organization is that young people should chase their dreams, no matter how ambitious. “I dared to dream. It's a message we should carry to young women everywhere, and even little girls. Take advantage of your opportunities. Don't sell yourself short.”

What  has she said about working for Al Davis?  In an article by Whitney Holtzman,, she was quoted as saying, “It's a privilege and an honor to work for him and for the organization.”
Away from football, Trask is an avid animal lover – she even serves on the board of directors of the Animal Rescue Foundation - loves horses and equestrian activities and reportedly, her favorite food is “desert”. This is a woman I want to call my “B.F.F.”  

In a world built by testosterone and in an organization denoted by masculine bravado, to have an inspiring, idealistic woman with a heart at the helm seems like a pretty progressive move by Mr. Davis. I think he should be credited for that.
And if you think about it, that’s who Al Davis was for the NFL: a man who could recognize talent and was willing to bet on it.

From Larry Garcia of, “Al Davis hired Art Shell, the first African-American coach in the NFL; and how about Super Bowl coach Tom Flores, who was the first Hispanic coach in the NFL? John Madden had no head coaching experience, but he took the Raiders to AFC championships, playoffs and a Super Bowl. Gruden turned the Raiders around and made them both a playoff contender and a championship caliber team.”
Thanks to Larry Garcia for this toy box full of great information about Amy Trask. Take a minute to check out the entire article, it’s a great read!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Let's get this season kicked-off, Mom...

The message said “So, is Arizona this good, or is Denver that bad…I hope you are watching this game!” The agony was palpable - a fan feeling the pain of a pathetic performance by their team in the fourth game of the pre-season. Now, that’s a fan right? Attached to a game that most relate to as meaningless? I mean, this must be someone who really LOVES this game.

The message was from my mom.

And when I heard it, I couldn’t quit smiling. I thought, “And this is how it turns out I love football.”

She was calling me about the 4th pre-season game between her beloved Denver Broncos, and “my team”, the Arizona Cardinals. It was not going well for the Broncos.
The message meant great news for me – NOT because the Cardinals were winning. It wasn’t that at all. It was a great message for me because it meant football season is here, and I could look forward to many funny, passionate, silly exchanges between my mom and I about this sport that we love so much.

I know most people probably think of sports – and football, especially – as something that men and fathers and sons can connect over.
But, I have to say, I LOVE when my mom and I talk pigskin as much as any other “girlie” thing we might talk about. In fact, it’s kinda nice to talk about something just for the playful, insignificant fun of it.

I think sometimes women find that there are just too many people to take care of, things to worry about, boo-boos to kiss, birthdays to remember, showers to host, to just indulge in fun for the sake of fun.
Mom, I can hardly wait for this season to kick-off.

Love, Heather

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why is this pre-season "Must See TV"?

Question: Why bother taking up space on your DVR and time away from your fading summer to watch pre-season NFL football? 

The average NFL fan knows that the games don’t really predict anything about their favorite team’s season. And there’s no point in paying too much attention to most of the new guys. They’ll more than likely be cut or relegated to the practice squad.
The players – the ones who have contracts and rosters spots in place already – want little to do with it. After all, each pre-season snap increases their chance of injury and it’s not really “worth” their time. Players only make a few thousand dollars during the preseason. The big bucks only kick in once the regular season starts.

These teams haven’t had any offseason meetings, no OTAs (offseason training activity) no minicamps, nothing. Many of these guys only met their coaches for the first time just a few days before training camp started. So, what we’ll see for the most part is sloppy football from lack of practice.
So, why watch?

I’ll tell you why: This preseason might be the most important in the history of the NFL.

At least for rookies and guys on the “bubble” this year who only have 4 games and stunted training camps to “wow” coaches. That’s a tiny window of time to either grab a roster spot or find themselves back at work at the carwash in Muncie, Indiana. 

To quote comedian Jay Mohr’s post on Twitter, before the Jets played the Texans on Monday, “I am freaking pumped for JETS football tonight. Love 4th qrt in preseason. 1 missed tackle is 1 lost career.”

And there you have it – watch because during the 3rd and 4th quarters of these games, you just might catch some pretty fantastic football. Remember, each player in the NFL was one of the BEST players and athletes on any college football team and they have their lives – at least their life’s ambitions – at stake. To me, that’s a game worth playing and worth watching.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Say, "Cheese!" Mr. Rodgers!

I have never been to Wisconsin. I have never liked cold weather. I would never wear an enormous slice of fake cheese on my head, although I do like brats.

But let me tell you, this weekend I will be leading the parade in front of the Green Bay Packers band-wagon! They are now MY TEAM and I’ll be cheering my lungs out for them this weekend. I want them to win it ALL!

Well, when I say “them”, I really mean “him”. Him: Aaron Rodgers.

Ever since Brett Favre waved goodbye to Green Bay with his tear-soaked hanky in March 2008, Aaron Rodgers has been nothing but classy, composed and competitive. Amidst the endless circus of media and mayhem that has been the “Favre Follies” for the past 2 ½ years; Rodgers kept his mouth shut, and kept improving.

This year, Favre hit an all-time low – looking more and more like a desperate, middle-aged, pervy uncle than the hero he had been in Green Bay the day he rode out on his white horse. Fast forward to the end of his career (let’s hope) on the frozen ground in Chicago in December. And the rumors that he couldn’t keep the fly to his “real. comfortable. jeans.” zipped up. No end could have seemed more pathetic and anticlimactic for a man who seemed destined to be a beloved legend.

Now, nothing could be a more fitting closing comment on Favre’s football epitaph than the bitter irony of “the back-up,” Aaron Rodgers, rising to the top, when Favre has hit bottom.

God speed, Mr. Rodgers, and “Go, Pack, GO!”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bengal Chris Henry’s Last Season Took My Breath Away

Roman culture tells us of the gift-giving gesture of Saint Nicholas, whose acts of compassion for those in need evolved into the idea of charity within the Christmas holiday. Today, we often refer to this time of year as the “season of sharing.” So it’s ironic that when former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, Chris Henry died just before the holidays more than a year ago, a most charitable season of sharing emerged.

On December 16, 2009, NFL star Chris Henry died from injuries suffered when he fell from a moving vehicle. Although the tragic incident initially received some national attention, it quickly faded away. Very recently, a final redeeming chapter emerged from a very sad story.

Chris Henry’s mother Carolyn Henry Glaspy, was devastated by her son’s senseless death and made a decision in hopes of furthering the meaning and value of his life. Although Chris had not signed up to be an organ donor himself, when his mother realized that his passing was imminent she chose to have his organs donated.

In all, four individuals’ lives were saved with Chris’ lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas. Just recently those individuals and their families had the opportunity to meet Carolyn personally and thank her for her most unselfish act. Donna Arnold was one of those recipients, getting a kidney and pancreas. Her husband poignantly said about Carolyn and the experience, “Life is not about the breaths that you take, but the moments that take your breath away…this was one of those moments.”

Chris Henry’s last season was not played on a football field, but in the lives and families of these organ recipients. It was most definitely his finest season. So as I wrap up this year, and reflect on how my 2010 season is concluding, I’m so proud of Carolyn Henry Glaspy’s courage, compassion and commitment to make people aware of the importance of organ donation. And I reflect upon a moment more than ten years ago, when at a small reservation health fair I learned about the disparity of organ donation in Native communities. Recent statistics said that only 12 Native Americans donated an organ in a year when more than 1,400 Native Americans were on the transplant waiting list. So I sat at a little table and registered to become an organ donor.

I doubt my story or my moments will ever make national news, but on this day and in this moment, a professional football player, his mother and a woman from a tiny town on the Navajo reservation share something special. And it takes my breath away.

by Patty Dimitriou

* Please consider joining me and the 90 million Americans who have signed up to be an organ and tissue donor at