Praising KISS Lead Guitarist Tommy Thayer

by Terri Bey

One year ago, on September 19, 2018, on the finale of America’s Got Talent, the rock band KISS played “Detroit, Rock City.” Their lead singer Paul Stanley announced that their upcoming tour, starting in January of 2019 would be their last. Titled the “End of the Road,” the tour started on January 31, 2019 in Vancouver, BC and ended in Denver, Colorado on September 12, 2019, with dates in Mexico City and a European Leg in between. Due to bassist Gene Simmons needing a medical procedure, the band’s Salt Lake City show on September 13, 2019 was postponed. Additionally, their shows in Oakland, CA on September 16th and in Los Angeles on September 20th were postponed until March 6, 2020 and March 4, 2020, respectively. The band is currently on break until KISS Kruise IX and an Australian and Japan swing in November and December of 2019. Go to http://www.kissonline.com for more information.

Now, I have only seen one show on the ongoing “End of the Road” Tour in Louisville, KY. You can read my review here: https://edgerules.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/kiss-rocks-louisville-on-end-of-the-road-tour/ . However, throughout the tour, I have been watching videos of just about every show, either posted on Youtube or Facebook by the band’s official Social Media person, or by fans who attended that particular show. The band sound very tight. Drummer Eric Singer and bassist Gene Simmons are a very cohesive unit as a rhythm section. Paul Stanley is the master of ceremonies for the band. However, this blog will be about the man who I think deserves a lot of praise, and that is lead guitarist Tommy Thayer.

Tommy Thayer at Louisville, KY “End of the Road” Tour Stop, March 12, 2019
Photo: Terri Bey
Copyright: Terri Bey

As most KISS and rock fans know by now, KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer took over for original KISS lead guitarist and guitar legend Ace Frehley at a private show in Jamaica on March 6, 2002, when Ace Frehley left earlier that year, after last performing with KISS at the Salt Lake City Winter Games Closing Ceremony. Thayer’s first official concert with KISS came on February 28, 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, when the band played the KISS Symphony Concern with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with David Campbell conducting In fact, when Ace Frehley left, according to a recent interview Tommy Thayer gave to Australia’s Heavymag magazine, Thayer said, “There never was really a moment where they said, ‘We want you to join Kiss.’ I don’t even really remember saying that they wanted me to be the guitar player. It was just kind of like, ‘Tommy, we’re doing this.'” (https://heavymag.com.au/the-kiss-aussie-finale/)

In the same interview, he said that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley told him to “grow his hair,” as he was going to be playing lead guitar ( https://heavymag.com.au/the-kiss-aussie-finale/ ) , as Thayer had short hair at the time in 2002. The reaction to Thayer’s playing the role of the Spaceman was swift. Many long-time fans in the KISS Army objected to Thayer wearing Ace Frehley’s iconic makeup and costume, particularly those online. In spite of those objections, Thayer has remained with the band and is the longest tenured lead guitarist ever in KISS, as 2020 will be his 18th year playing for the band.

As for my feelings about Tommy Thayer taking Ace’s place, well, I felt the same when Eric Singer took over for Peter Criss and wore Criss’ makeup. It took some getting used to, but Gene and Paul wanted to continue the band, so that is the business choice they made. I make no bones about Ace Frehley being my favorite original member, but he left, and Paul and Gene wanted to continue. Would I like to have Ace Frehley in the band wearing the makeup he created, and playing the licks he created? I absolutely would. However, the man had every opportunity to stay in the band, but made the decision to leave. KISS owns the makeup rights, and wants to continue, so Tommy Thayer is playing instead. Maybe Ace will learn that decisions have consequences.

As most fans also know, but for those of my readers who don’t know, KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer has been involved in KISS for quite a long time, way before he donned the makeup. Thayer grew up a KISS fan and was born in Beaverton, Oregon on November 7, 1960. He started a band with Jamie St. James called Black ‘N’ Blue, known for “Hold On to 18” ( https://youtu.be/ATjErr7FNCs ). The band opened for KISS in 1985. Gene Simmons produced two of the band’s records, “In Heat” and “Nasty Nasty.” When Black ‘N’ Blue split circa 1989, Thayer went on to record an album with the band, Harlow ( https://youtu.be/Dd9tJWxBRYg ), then played on Doro Pesch’s self titled album and joined Shake the Faith for their album, “America the Violent.” Thayer, in the aforementioned interview with Australia’s Heavymag magazine, revealed that he also worked with Australian artist Jimmy Barnes ( https://heavymag.com.au/the-kiss-aussie-finale/ ). Per Thayer’s social media accounts, he recently did some guitar work on a project with former Chicago singer and bassist Jason Scheff. One of Scheff’s best known songs with Chicago is “Will You Still Love Me” (https://youtu.be/d_l-st8Q1S0 ).

Tommy Thayer eventually worked behind the scenes with Simmons doing “whatever needed to be done,” Thayer has said in various interviews. Tommy Thayer has written several KISS songs with Simmons, such as “Betrayed,” “The Street Giveth and the Streeth Taketh Away,” and “Childhood’s End.” Thayer also played lead guitar on just about all of the songs on “Psycho Circus,” except for “Into the Void, ” “In Your Face” (bonus track) and ” You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best.” Thayer also helped behind the scenes with the Official KISS Conventions in 1995. Thayer also was the road manager for the Psycho Circus and Farewell Tours as well. He also coached Ace and original drummer Peter Criss to get them back into the swing of things for the Reunion Tour. Thayer also produced the band’s “KISS: The Second Coming” Video, and other KISS related videos.

From watching the “End of the Road” videos, and from seeing the Louisville show, Tommy Thayer has been particularly amazing on this tour. He has really come into his own as a performer over the years, and he plays Ace Frehley’s licks faithfully, and Ace’s solo faithfully. Thayer has added a bit of his own style during the guitar solo as well. I mean, the man is just killing it on this tour. Thayer has an amazing work ethic, and it shows in the concerts. Thayer looks like he owns the place on this current tour, when I watch him.

Tommy Thayer shooting rockets in Louisville,KY on March 12, 2019
Photo: Terri Bey
Copyright: Terri Bey

In closing, I wanted to shine the spotlight on Tommy Thayer as I think fans need to know how much Thayer has contributed to the band, both on and off-stage. Thayer is an important part of the history of the band, whether fans like it or not. Thayer is also an amazing person, as I have met him several times, both as the road manager for the band, and with KISS. Thayer is a hard working person, and very kind-hearted. Thayer is awesome to the fans, as well. I have not heard one fan complain about meeting Thayer. I also have to “fan-girl” a little bit and add that Tommy Thayer is easy on the eyes, shall we say. ANYWAY, Thayer is very philanthropic, and raises money for various charities, such as St. Jude and Make-A-Wish and others. Tommy Thayer is a great person all around and I am proud to support him.

Tommy Thayer and I at the 2019 Indianapolis KISS Expo
Photo by Terri Bey
Copyright by Terri Bey
Tommy Thayer signing my End of the Road Tour Program
Photo: Terri Bey

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A Review of the First Quarter of the 2019-20 NFL Season

The first four weeks of the 2019-20 NFL season has gone by, and there has been plenty of material to discuss. There have been some pretty good play on the field. Of course, much of the first quarter of the season has been, to the chagrin of the NFL, who wants to celebrate the League’s 100th season, dedicated to off the field controversy by one particular, now former NFL wide receiver and also, a dirty player, who just received a long and deserved suspension. Ironically, both of these players are linked, and I will get to that later.

There has been plenty of good things that have been going on during the season, and that will be highlighted in this blog. Sometimes, the mainstream media likes to highlight all the bad things, and even try to make wins look like losses. Earth to the Boston media, I am looking at you, especially the Boston Globe. So, without further ado, here is my review of the first quarter of the 2019-20 NFL season, giving my readers the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The GOOD of the first quarter of the 2019-20 NFL Season

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is having a great start to the season at age 42.

What else can be said about the seemingly ageless wonder named Tom Brady? To paraphrase a line from the song, “Ol’ Man River,” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, “Ol Man Brady, he just keeps rolling along. Through four games, Brady has thrown for 1061 yards, 7 touchdowns against 1 interception. Brady has a completion perception of 62.1% ( https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BradTo00.htm ) Brady is doing this with a battered offensive line, new and injured wideouts and a retired Gronk. I expect this offense to get better as the season goes on.

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is lighting up the NFL.

Patrick Mahomes is being Patrick Mahomes. What else is new? Yes, he had a bit of adversity against Detroit in Week 4, but he again found a way. Mahomes has a completion percentage of 67% and has thrown for 1510 yards and 10 touchdowns ( https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MahoPa00.htm ). I know I am getting ahead of myself, but as an NFL fan, I am looking forward to seeing the Chiefs vs Patriots clash on December 8th. That should be lots of fun.

The Buffalo Bills Bills Team, especially their defense, is for real.

I know, it is Buffalo, and I know to some I might be falling for Buffalo a little too early, but from observing the Buffalo Bills, this team is for real, especially that defense. I know, yes, they came back against the hapless New York Jets. Yes, they destroyed the New York Giants. Yeah, despite their own QB Josh Allen’s mistakes, they beat the Cincinnati Bengals. However, they stood toe to toe with the Patriots Week 4. Their defense made Tom Brady look terrible. The Bills probably should have won that game, had Allen not thrown three interceptions, and the Bills had not had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Patriots special teamer Matt Slater. There will be more on this game later, but I want to say that people should not sleep on this team, unless the team gives us a reason to do so.

The Patriots’ defense is just incredible.

Some were wondering if the defensive effort against the Los Angeles Rams in SB53 was a mirage and what would happen to the defense when Brian Torres left to be the Miami Dolphins head coach. Well, as you can see from the unit’s performance, the SB53 performance was no mirage and the unit is a terror for opposing offenses. The Patriots defense has only allowed 1 offensive touchdown in the first four games of the season. As I mentioned earlier, they intercepted Bills QB Josh Allen 3 times. The Patriots defense allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to score 3 points in the season opener. DB Devin McCourty especially, is coming into his own as a top defensive threat, and Jamie Collins has been lights out, since his return to the team from the Cleveland Browns.

The Second Coming of the “Monsters of the Midway” is in Chicago.

Another team that has an incredible defense is the Chicago Bears. As QB Mitch Trubisky will be out for awhile with a dislocated left shoulder (non-throwing), this team will have to rely on their defense a bit. In their Week 4 match-up against the Minnesota Vikings, even without some of their best defensive players, the Bears defense just terrorized Vikings QB Kirk Cousins all afternoon. Even when the Bears offense has been just average, this amazing defense with Khalil Mack, Akheem Hicks, etc. has helped to carry this team to a 3-1 record.

The BAD of the first quarter of the NFL 2019-20 season.

Antonio Brown needs help. Seriously.

I am sure most people, myself included, are tired of hearing about WR Antonio Brown and his drama. I won’t go into the sordid details here, as my readers are pretty familiar with them already. I want to say something about Brown, though. I am saying this, because I care about his well being. I think the man needs help. I am not a psychiatrist, but I think there has to be some sort of issue with him. I mean, at his last stop with the Patriots, he could not help himself and go on social media and discuss a woman and post photos of her CHILDREN. I mean, I don’t know what he was thinking. No sane person would be doing this or any other of the stuff he was doing. Some seem to think that the hit the then Pittsburgh Steelers WR Brown took from the then Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfect in that 2015-16 Wild Card Game has affected Brown adversely and has contributed to his behavior (https://youtu.be/o8iFSP_S5h8 ). Again, I’m no doctor, but that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Vontaze Burfect also needs help. Seriously.

Remember earlier in the blog, I’d discuss two players who’d be linked? Well, they are Antonio Brown and now Oakland Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict, who has been suspended for 12 games for a vicious hit on Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle, where Burfict launched his body and hit Doyle helmet to helmet. As he left the field, Burfict smiled and blew kisses to the crowd. Burfict is appealing the suspension, as is his right under the CBA. While I am suspecting that the suspension will be likely reduced on appeal, the NFL is sending a message that this behavior will not be tolerated and Burfict certainly deserves it, given his track record. Some will want to know why didn’t New England Patriots CB Jonathan Joseph not get ejected and/or suspended for his hit on Bills QB Josh Allen, who left the game with a concussion. Bills head coach Sean McDermott was crying about, “There is no place for that in this sport.” Seriously, there is no comparing the two. Jones lead with his shoulder, and Allen was running into a couple of defenders, and dropped his head. It was a bang bang play. Burfict LAUNCHED his body into Doyle’s head. I feel badly for both Doyle and especially for Allen. I hope both guys will be OK.

As for Burfict, I know there are folks calling for his career to be ended. It appears to me that he has a terrible impulse control, because nothing fazes him. None of the previous suspensions have sent the message to him that he can NOT purposely harm players. Burfict may very well have, and I am just speculating, damaged at least one in Antonio Brown with his hits. I don’t like to call for someone to be permanently banned, but Burfict has to realize that he is in a new NFL that is going to emphasize player safety, even though the NFL themselves can be hypocrites themselves about that issue. Burfict has to also realize he can not hit other players with the purpose of harming them so they can’t play and feed their families. Burfict has to want to change his behavior on the field, or else he should be banned from the NFL.

The UGLY of the First Quarter of the 2019-20 Season

The Coverage of the Patriots/AB and Tom Brady after the Buffalo Game.

If anyone thought I was going to let the media off the hook, they were wrong. I will start by saying I was very disappointed with how the media “covered,” more like torpedoed the New England Patriots for acquiring the mercurial WR Antonio Brown, after his release from the Oakland Raiders. I have never seen such false outrage from media types like ESPN, and Sports Illustrated over a signing in my life. Yes, Brown had a ton of baggage, but his signing was not the equivalent of the Titanic disaster. Brown’s behavior with the Raiders was unprofessional, but certainly NOT ” the most unprofessional by an athlete in history of sports,” like ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said.

Of course, after Brown’s signing, this lawsuit is filed against him by a former trainer claiming he raped her. The media goes nuts of course. About a week later, a one Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated comes up with other allegations of abuse by Brown by another woman, and social media exchanges from Brown which include her kids. That exchange forces the Patriots to dump Brown. During this media frenzy, the Patriots were shamed, and the media, especially the Boston Globe, where writers like Dan Shaunssey and Ben Volin wrote ridiculous articles saying the Patriots should not take any credit for getting rid of Brown. The funny thing is that now that Brown is gone, where is the media frenzy that surrounded these allegations? Where is Klemko? I guess since Brown is gone, the media who went nuts over this story don’t really care about the most important people, the actual victims.

Now, lets discuss Tom Brady and his terrible game, statistically in Week 4 against Buffalo. Again, we have to give credit to the Buffalo defense who did their job. They would have made even Patrick Mahomes look pedestrian. The problem is, though, media types like Nick Wright, Eric Mangini, Cris Carter, etc., would have given Mahomes a pass and made excuses for him. Heck, even when the Manning brothers, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Farve played in the past, they even got passes, and such for bad games. Well, Tom Brady has a bad game, and these supposed “experts” start with the nonsense of “age is catching up,” “noodle arm,” “hidden injury,” and “the defense is going to have to carry Tom.” The Brady hate is just plain disgusting. Even in the Boston media, I saw some ridiculous articles, one saying how the Patriots didn’t deserve to win the Buffalo game, and others writing nonsense about Brady and the offense “struggling” as if it always has been. I mean, one bad game, and the offense is already “struggling?” Brady is entitled to have a bad game, and deserves the same respect as many of the quarterbacks, past and present that I listed.

Winless Teams: Does anyone want to win?

Wow. There are six winless teams left. I take that back. The winless Cincinnati Bengals will be facing a winless (one tie) Arizona Cardinals team, this upcoming Week 5, so there will be one less. However, the Denver Broncos came close to beating the Chicago Bears, but for a roughing penalty that most likely should not have been called, and for the refs putting time on the clock for the Bears. The New York Jets are beset with injuries and QB Sam Darnold battling the effects of mono. Washington has quarterback issues. It would not surprise me if head coach Jay Gruden is fired before the year is out. The Miami Dolphins are a total disaster. They can’t buy a win.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Feedback appreciated.

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A Response to University of Rhode Island Associate Professor Kyle Kusz’ Claim that Tom Brady is a Symbol of White Supremacy from a Tom Brady Fan, Who is a Person of Color

by Terri Bey

In all my years of being a fan of the NFL and of the New England Patriots and especially, their QB Tom Brady, I have seen a cottage industry develop, which is to pretty much destroy and discredit the Patriots Dynasty and Tom Brady’s greatness. I hear fans from the other 31 teams trash them. I hear pundits from various networks, sports sites, and on Youtube Channels trashing the Patriots. The NFL, with that ridiculous “Deflategate,” despite real science proving otherwise, tried to discredit Brady. I have seen it all.

All this aside, some recent comments in an attempt to discredit Tom Brady that I read from a one Kyle Kusz, an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island, just took the cake. I mean, these comments were beyond the pale. Kusz contributed to a book titled, “The Palgrave Handbook of Masculinity and Sport.” Kusz’ chapter was titled, “Making American White Men Great Again: Tom Brady, Donald Trump, and the Allure of White Male Omnipotence in Post-Obama America.” The basic premise of the chapter was that the reason that Tom Brady is so popular is due to white supremacy, white rage, and Brady’s association with current President Donald J. Trump.

Before I continue with unpacking Professor Kusz’ claims, I want to tell my readers that I am mixed-race. I am part white, part black and part Cherokee Indian. I am very proud of my heritage and of who I am. I am not revealing my political affiliations, but I just think that we fans need to remember that these athletes are out there for our entertainment. I think people tend to get way too wrapped up in which athletes or entertainers, for that matter, support which candidate or political candidate. People say, “Stick to sports/acting/music.” Well, maybe we should just “stick to being fans.”

Let’s start with some of Professor Kusz’ claims about Tom Brady in his chapter. What I will do here, is put HIS comments in bold italics, and my response will be in the “normal font,” like so.

From the Chapter, Kusz writes:

But for the rest of this essay, I want to offer some developing thoughts on Trump’s repeated use of white sportsmen—but particularly his twitter-based affection for Tom Brady—as dog-whistles to communicate his brand of white supremacy. I contend that Trump has used white sportsmen like the late Joe Paterno, Bobby Knight, and Brady as dog-whistles to connect on an affective level with American white men from various regions of the United States so they feel like Trump is a politician who finally understands them and will fight to protect and preserve the white male prerogative for men like them.

Mr. Kusz, you are a “white male.” Brady is an international superstar, especially in South America, where his wife, supermodel, Gisele Bundchen is from. I would like to know how Joe Paterno and Bobby Knight also figure into all this. It sounds to me that Mr. Kusz wants to bring down successful white men, just because Donald Trump mentions them in his tweets.

Kusz then writes:

Like Paterno and Knight, Brady has suffered a much-publicized fall through his role in the recent Deflategate scandal. … Brady’s devotees have ardently alleged that he’s been railroaded by a NFL Commissioner who has capriciously wielded the institutional power of his office to illegitimately punish a living legend—in Trump’s vernacular ‘a true champion and winner’—who will one day be immortalized in Canton, Ohio.

Wow. Where do I start with this nonsense? First of all, it appears that Kusz has some sort of mission to tie Paterno, Knight and Brady together. It doesn’t make any sense here, as far as “scandals.” How can Kusz put Brady’s alleged participation in an alleged “ball deflation scheme” in the same category with former Indiana University Men’s Basketball Coach Bobby Knight’s putting his hands around the throat of one of his players, and the late, legendary Penn State Football Head Coach Joe Paterno’s ALLEGEDLY turning a blind eye to defense coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse acts, for which Paterno got fired? I say “allegedly,” only because there are still disputes over what Paterno knew and when, even after the Freeh report.

One other thing, Tom Brady’s ridiculous 4 game suspension was hardly a “fall,” unlike Paterno and Knight. If Kusz really understood how the NFL overreacted to what was basically an equipment violation, and how ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, with information he got from an NFL source tweeted out that “11 of 12 of the Patriots footballs were under the legal limit,” information that turned out to be wrong, and Mortenson KNEW it was wrong, Kusz would have realized that Brady was railroaded. No commissioner would have suspended Brady or any player for such a minor violation like that, especially when real science does not support their alleged “scandal.”

Kusz then writes:

The coded language of Trump’s tweet reveals that part of Brady fans’ impassioned fury about Commissioner Goodell’s punishment of Brady can’t be explicitly named. There are at least two racial dimensions to Brady’s supporters defense: 1) they seem unable to believe that a living white male NFL legend would not be protected by the League; and 2) they sense that Goodell targeted Brady because punishing him—a player who embodies all the virtues of all-American white sporting masculinity—would allow the Commish to deflect mounting criticism that his previous player conduct punishments were guided by a personal racial bias that was unfairly targeting black players. Who better to use to alleviate such an allegation than a white quarterback whose ‘I’m just here to play football’ pose, ferocious competitive spirit, and proven record of success makes him the ultimate symbol of American-state sanctioned white male perfection. What other act would better mitigate the Commissioner’s momentary development of a racial conscience?

I had to read this three or four times, because I just could not believe that this guy believes what he is saying. Patriot fans, lawyers, and pundits, who were NOT fans of the team, were skewering Goodell over how he handled, or rather mishandled “Deflategate.” Did this guy even pay attention during the nearly 18 month saga? What does RACE and Donald Trump have to do with this? More black players are punished by the NFL Conduct Policy, because proportionately, there are more of them in the NFL. Goodell punished Brady because the other 31 team owners wanted the Patriots hit hard over missing molecules in a ball, and many of them, such as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, and Giants Owner John Mara felt that the Patriots weren’t punished enough for Spygate. I should remind the professor that Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who also is friends with Donald Trump, and is WHITE, served a four game suspension for a Violation of the Conduct Policy over being accused of rape for the second time. I see that the professor is not upset with Big Ben.

Oh, one other thing. Patriot fans, like myself, and others who weren’t fans, were saying Brady was innocent because, as I said previously, science, and I am not talking about that fake science the NFL got from Exponent, but REAL SCIENCE did not support “Deflategate.” The Ideal Gas Law, PV=n x RT, which is high school physics, explains why those balls were naturally under-inflated. Period. That is why Patriots fans were ardently defending the man. Race had nothing to do with it.

Let’s look at another item that Kusz includes. Kusz spoke to CampusReform.org, and the following is from the article ( https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=13765 ) :

Kusz claims that since Brady “plays in a sport where 67% of the players are African-American,” the fact that most of the individuals whom he brings with him to the Kentucky Derby are white “tell[s] a more particular story about the racial company he chooses to keep.”

“It is a vision of Brady as a wealthy, white man who apologetically enjoys, and has even made a habit out of, spending time with other wealthy white men who treasure time ‘with the boys’ over all others,” adding that the choice of the Kentucky Derby “suggests his performance of white masculinity shares much in common with President Trump’s” in that the Derby is a “class-exclusive leisure activity” where most of the attendees are white.

This professor is really reaching here. As a horse racing fan, who HAS been to the Kentucky Derby several times, and the last one I attended was in 2015 when American Pharoah won and started his march toward winning the Triple Crown and into greatness. Yes, Tom Brady and many OTHER celebrities are up in Millionaire’s Row. However, Kusz is totally wrong that the Kentucky Derby is a “class exclusive leisure activity.” There are people from all class divisions who attend the Kentucky Derby. There are those like myself who can just afford General Admission, especially many of those college kids in the Infield. There are those who could afford the more expensive seats that go for hundreds of dollars. Of course, there is the aforementioned “Millionaire’s Row.” Sure, most are white, but there are people of all nationalities and races and backgrounds who attend this race.

However, it looks like to me that Mr. Kusz is trying to insinuate that the Kentucky Derby is some sort of activity for white supremacy, and Kusz is dead wrong. Racing is already under attacked by extreme animal activists. One of the sport’s biggest events doesn’t need another misguided attack by someone who doesn’t know anything about the sport.

As far with whom Brady associates himself is concerned, I don’t see how hanging out with mostly white friends at the Derby or any other event for that matter makes Brady a symbol of white supremacy. Besides, I don’t see why Brady has to justify why he is friends with whom to some professor anyway. Earth to Mr. Kusz . I go to plenty events where I meet up with many of my friends and acquaintances. Guess what? Most of them are white also.

In conclusion, I find this latest attack on Brady to be beyond the pale. Tom Brady is admired by fans like myself because of his perseverance, his willingness to work hard, his work ethic and his great character. In his diatribe, all Professor Kyle Kusz does, is attempt to turn all of Brady’s good qualities into something ugly and, of course, racist. I mean, who else would write nonsense like, ” [Brady’s] is a tale of his being an athletic underdog who has only become one of the NFL’s all-time best quarterbacks because his strong work ethic, strict discipline, and smarts have enabled him to overcome the doubts and minimal opportunities afforded him by so-called football experts in college and upon his entry into the NFL. This tale transforms the flesh and blood Brady into the fantasy of the self-made American man, a figure that has been instrumental historically in masking, protecting and preserving the white male prerogative in American institutional life. ” But it also subtly situates him within the racial politics of our times as the humble, hard working white guy who seems to lack any trace of social privilege, doesn’t display any inflated sense of entitlement and thus can be cited by defenders of the status quo to deny the idea that any systemic racial and gender privileges exist at all.

I have plenty of friends, who happen to be white and male, who work hard, and are “self made men.” They also have strong work ethics. This professor seems to think that there is something “racist” and “privileged” about it. What is wrong with having a strong work ethic, regardless of race? Brady worked hard for what he got, as many “ordinary people” have. Working hard for what you have is a good virtue to have. It has nothing to do with race or privilege. Stop making it about privilege and race.

In closing, I find it very disappointing to see a sure-fire First Ballot Hall of Famer being unfairly attacked by some professor, who has to play the race card. I don’t think Tom Brady is a racist. I don’t think any of his admirable qualities qualifies as racist. Only this professor with an agenda to push would think a great work ethic by white males would think that’s “racist.”

Thank you for reading and feedback is welcome.

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

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2019-20 NFL Season and Super Bowl 54 Preview and Predictions

by Terri Bey

On Thursday, September 5, 2019, the NFL will be celebrating its 100th NFL season with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Chicago Bears in the two storied and legendary rivals’ 199th meeting opening the 2019-20 NFL regular season. Kickoff will be at 8:20pm, EST on NBC. I am sure there will be plenty of pre-game celebrations by the NFL, so check your local listings for that. This does break a recent tradition where the previous year’s Super Bowl champion hosting an opponent on their schedule and celebrating their victory and such, one last time. In this case, the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots who will raise their sixth banner at Gillette Stadium, when they face their opponent, the six-time Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh, are relegated to Sunday Night Football on September 8, 2019 with a kickoff time at 8:20pm, EST on NBC.

Even though in this blog, I will give you my predictions for the 2019-20 NFL season, I want to say a couple of brief things about the defending Super Bowl Champions. First of all, I think that the NFL and the networks could have down SOMETHING so the Patriots could have had their game against the Steelers or whichever opponent on a separate night, and not relegate it to a ho-hum Sunday Night Football game. If anyone has watched SNF, you have to put up with all the pre-game stuff with highlights from that week’s game. So, on September 8th, fans have to watch all the highlights and and injuries from Week ONE, instead of just concentrating on the pre-game celebrations from Gillette Stadium. I get that 2019-20 is the 100th Season of the NFL. I just think that somehow and someway the Patriots game could have been scheduled to play on Friday the 6th or Saturday the 7th. The Patriots are the defending champions, and their game deserved to be treated as special, not some ordinary “Sunday Night Football” Game.

The second thing I want to say is that ever since the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl and won it, there has been crying about “fairness” and changing the over-time rules. Everyone who watched the AFC Championship game between the Patriots against the Chiefs who is reading this should remember what happened. In essence, the New England Patriots defeated the much favored Kansas City Chiefs in OT to advance to Super Bowl 53 to face the Los Angeles Rams who defeated the New Orleans Saints, also in OT. In speaking of THAT mishap, I admit that the Rams benefited from a very obviously missed Pass Interference call. Yes, Saints fans and you all in the Saints Organization, we all know it was a very badly missed call. However, I am NOT so sure that this rule change for PI review was really needed, because NOW, it looks like every little PI call or non-PI call is going to be looked at with a microscope. Oh, and by the way, a facemask call was missed that should have gone against the Saints earlier in the game, and in the OVERTIME period, when the Saints got the ball, QB Drew Brees threw an INT, and then Rams QB Jared Goff marched his offense into position for the game winning FG. So, both teams got their hands on the ball.

Many people from Chiefs Coach Andy Reid to writer Peter King in a ridiculous article giving his Super Bowl 54 predictions, https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/01/super-bowl-54-prediction-nfl-fmia-peter-king/ , where King talks about a “Fairness Super Bowl,” are whining about how it wasn’t fair that the Patriots got to Super Bowl 53 because of the OT rules. Let me clear up some of those myths, right now. The current rules were changed once already because of people whining about how “Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers didn’t get the ball.” I also wonder if people watched the actual game. Andy Reid was physically there. Was he mentally there? The Chiefs’ powerful offense, led by the NFL’s new “Golden Boy” Patrick Mahomes was kept scoreless at halftime by a score of 14-0. Whose fault was that? It was AFTER halftime, when the Chiefs offense decided to get on their horse, so to speak and make this a game. The fact that the Chiefs were scoreless at home, by itself ,should tell anyone with a brain, that this game had no business going to OT. I mean, the Chiefs had the LOUD CROWD behind them. Arrowhead Stadium is also supposed to be one of Tom Brady’s “houses of horrors.” Does anyone remember 2014 Week 4 when the Chiefs just destroyed the Patriots? The Chiefs had plenty of chances to win this game in regulation. Their first half performance didn’t help them. Had nothing to do with the OT rules.

Let’s continue. In OT, the Chiefs had MORE opportunities to finished off the Patriots. There were three 3rd and long situations. Did the Chiefs stop Brady and the Pats offense? No. Does Andy Reid take action and call for something called a TIME OUT to give his obviously tired defense a rest? No, of course not. People are whining about the so called bad call that cost the Chiefs the possible game sealing interception. People need to look at the game tape, because Dee Ford was off-sides.

This nonsense about “fair,” is ridiculous. Life isn’t fair. The Chiefs had all the advantages in this game, and just because Patrick Mahomes, who I like, did not get his hands on the ball in OT because his defense could not get the ball back in a game that should NEVER have gotten to OT in the first place, doesn’t mean the Patriots didn’t win the game fairly. I guess had the coin flip gone the other way, and Mahomes had thrown the game winning touchdown and had defeated the Patriots, the outcome would have been “fair” in the eyes of many jealous haters. Well, that is not how life works. The Participation Trophy attitude has to go, and just because an outcome doesn’t go the way you want it to, doesn’t mean the rules aren’t “fair.” We need to also stop changing rules or wanting to change rules because people don’t like the outcome, or a team that many don’t like keeps on winning. You change a rule because it will help the sport, not to try to stop a team or athlete you don’t like from winning. Stop wanting greatness to disappear.

Now, that I have gotten Super Bowl 53 out of my system, here are my predicitons and preview for the 2019-20 Regular Season and Super Bowl 54:

PREVIEW OF THE 2019-20 NFL REGULAR SEASON

AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE:

AFC EAST OVERVIEW:

This is the division where, to many folks’ dismay, the defending Super Bowl Champion resides, in other words, the New England Patriots. The Patriots are like the Great White Shark in “JAWS,” and their division rivals, the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins portray Oceanographer Matt Hooper, Shark Hunter Quint and Police Chief Martin Brody, the three men assigned to try to catch and kill the “predator” and try to knock them off their perch. Only Miami in the past dozen or so years has been able to knock off the Patriots, but that was in the 2008 Season.

Miami has a new coach in former Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flories. However, it appears the team has done a fire sale in trading a few good players like their LT Laremy Tunsil and LB Kiko Alonso. The Jets added former Steeler RB Le’Veon Bell. I can’t for the life of me figure out what Buffalo did. The Patriots lost LT Trent Brown to free agency and C David Andrews to pulmanary embolisms. The Patriots also have some new faces on their wide receiving core. Their defense, should they play up to their potential, will be nasty this season. Of course,they have QB Tom Brady playing in his 20th season and Head Coach Bill Belichick.

The Great White escapes, barrels and all.

  • New England Patriots: 13-3
  • New York Jets: 8-8
  • Buffalo Bills: 7-9
  • Miami Dolphins 6-10

AFC NORTH OVERVIEW:

This division could be one of the most interesting divisions in the NFL. There are lots of questions for each of the teams. Can the Baltimore Ravens, who jettisoned now Denver Broncos QB Joe Flacco, win with QB Lamar Jackson? Can Jackson win with his arm as well as his legs. Jackson recently praised the current offense. It will be interesting to see how good the offense will be. Ravens fans can definitely count on the defense being excellent. Will the Cincinnati Bengals be able to dust themselves off from a rather disappointing season? That remains to be seen.

Now that the two “drama kings,” former WR Antonio Brown (Oakland Raiders) and Le’Veon Bell are gone from Pittsburgh, will the Steelers be able to function without the dis-function? Can QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR JuJu Smith Schuster and company and the Steelers defense lead the Steelers to the Promised Land? The first team offense and defense looked great in the pre-season. Looking forward to seeing them this season. I want to add that if the Steelers fail to make the playoffs, I don’t want them or their fans to blame the Patriots. I also want to add that even though Brown and Bell brought much of the drama to the team, Ben Roethlisberger’s calling out Brown on his now defunct radio show didn’t help matters. Now, that the drama is gone, this is Ben’s team. Much hype has also centered around the newly vamped Cleveland Browns and their QB Baker Mayfield. Can he live up to the hype? Can newly acquired WR Odell Beckham Jr. behave himself? The team looked pretty good this pre-season. I am not on the “Browns to the Super Bowl” bandwagon, but I think the Browns could make some noise this season.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5
  • Baltimore Ravens: 10-6
  • Cleveland Browns: 9-7
  • Cincinnati Bengals: 6-10

AFC SOUTH OVERVIEW:

With the sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, and with Jacoby Brissette at QB, the Colts look a bit more vulnerable. I was going to give them a much better record had Luck been under center, as their whole team looks a lot better. Many people like the Jacksonville Jaguars with new QB Nick Foles, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. Can Foles get on another “magic carpet ride” and lead the Jaguars to a Super Bowl Title? Can RB Leonard Fournette stay healthy? We will see. I do expect the defense to do much better than last year.

The Houston Texans have me scratching my head. They traded away one of their best defenders, Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks pretty much for a song and a sandwich. Yes, I know the team received a 3rd round draft pick and two players, but I don’t know what head coach Bill O’Brien, who is getting GM-like power, was thinking. Is he making the same mistake that fellow head coach Jon Gruden might likely have done when he traded away Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears last season? Maybe. Look, QB Deshaun Watson is a terrific player. and and J.J. Watt is still pretty awesome. However, RB Lamar Miller tore his ACL in the pre-season. WR DeAndre Hopkins is still on offense, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in this team. In Tennessee, can the Titans offensive line keep QB Marcus Mariota upright? I saw their defense against the Patriots in their Week 2 pre-season match-up, and the defense didn’t blow me away.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars: 10-6
  • Indianapolis Colts: 8-8
  • Houston Texans: 7-9
  • Tennesse Titans: 7-9

AFC WEST OVERVIEW:

Much like the AFC East Division, this particular division is fairly easy to handicap. Of course injures will strike every team in every division in the NFL, unless something happens to their star QB Patrick Mahomes, I am almost positive that the Kansas City Chiefs will be the division winners. Looking at them offensively, on paper, they are a powerhouse. Troubled WR Tyreek Hill miraculously avoided a suspension for his off the field issues. The team has star TE Travis Kelce, and newly acquired RB LeSean McCoy, a surprise release from the Buffalo Bills. McCoy played with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chiefs defense has a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. He should definitely improve the team’s pass rush, as he is known for coaching the 2007 Giants defense that helped the team win Super Bowl 42.

The only team that might be able to even challenge the Chiefs are the Los Angeles Chargers with Phillip Rivers at quarterback. The team has an awesome offense and defense, even without their embattled RB Melvin Gordon. Would they be better with him? Of course, they would, but I am sure they will carry on without him. Of course, we have the Oakland Raiders. They are a mess. The huge story from Raiders Camp is the war that brand new WR Antonio Brown is having with the NFL over a darned helmet. Are you serious? Brown is used to wearing a Schutt Air Advantage helmet, and has been wearing it since 2009. The NFL will not allow him to wear it, as it is not approved by The National Operation Committee on Standard for Operating Equipment. The issue was that not that the helmet that Brown was using was unsafe, but that it was over ten years old. Anyway, Brown was not going to be allowed to play, unless he complied. Brown lost two grievance hearings. What a mess. Oakland brass said Brown is “either in or out.” The Raiders were not fooling around, either as they fined Brown $53, 950 for missing two practices. Brown was NOT happy. On the Helmet front, Brown FINALLY has a helmet he likes, a Xenith Shadow Helmet. I am SO glad that is over. You can sense my sarcasm, I hope.

I have spent so much time talking about the Oakland Raiders that I nearly forgot about the Denver Broncos. This team could surprise as their defense is still led by the brilliant OLB Von Miller, and has most of the 2015 Super Bowl winning defense. Can new starting QB Joe Flacco show the NFL that the Ravens made a mistake in letting him go? New head coach Vic Fangio is a defensive minded coach, as last year he was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. I think he could possibly get this team back into the playoffs, should some expected participants fail to get in. After all, there are always new faces in the playoffs, when one or more teams who made it the previous year falters. Denver could be one of those new faces this year.

  • Kansas City Chiefs: 12-4
  • Los Angeles Chargers: 11-5
  • Denver Broncos: 9-7
  • Oakland Raiders: 5-11

AFC PLAYOFF SEEDS:

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Los Angeles Chargers
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC PLAYOFF SCENARIO:

  • Los Angeles Chargers d. Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Wild Card Round
  • Pittsburgh Steelers d. Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild Card Round
  • New England Patriots d. Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Divisional Round
  • Kansas City Chiefs d. Los Angeles Chargers in AFC Divisional Round
  • New England Patriots d. Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Championship Game

NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE:

NFC EAST:

Let’s discuss the team with all the drama that finally ended in the morning of September 4, 2019. If you guessed the tug-of-war between Dallas Cowboys star RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys over his contract/holdout, you are right on the money. Elliott and the Cowboys agreed to a contract worth up to 6 years and up to $90 million dollars, with a $50 million dollar guarantee. The team definitely needs him, as the consensus is that head coach Jason Garrett is coaching for his job. I agree with this. QB Dak Prescott is good, but Elliott is essential to the team.

It appears that the crown jewel of the NFC East, the 2017 Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are going under the radar. QB Carson Wentz is back, and hopefully can stay healthy the entire season. The team doesn’t have Nick Foles anymore. I thought the team looked really good during the pre-season on both sides of the ball. Their bitter rivals Washington and the New York Giants are both messes, however. Will Washington’s first round pick Dwayne Haskins eventually usurp starter Case Keenum at quarterback? Will Washington eventually mend fences with Trent Williams?

The New York Giants received the Bronx cheer from the brutal New York press core to the man on the street over their sixth round pick, QB Daniel Jones. People thought the Giants lost their collective minds. Well, Jones played very well during the pre-season. Could the Eli Manning Era be coming to an end sooner than later? Was Jones’ playing that good or was it a mirage? Stay tuned, Giants fans.

  • Philadelphia Eagles: 11-5
  • Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
  • New York Giants: 7-9
  • Washington 4-12

NFC NORTH:

Let’s start with the Chicago Bears. Will QB Mitch Trubisky take a step forward in his development? Much is expected from the defending NFC North Champions. Matt Nagy returns as head coach, but the team has a new defensive coordinator in former Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, replacing Vic Fangio, now the head coach of the Denver Broncos. I suspect that the Chicago defense will still be as good as last year with Khalil Mack leading the way.

There has been quite a few teams with off-season drama, and one of those teams was the Green Bay Packers. As most people know, the Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy with one or two games left in the season. There were lot of allegations about the difficult relationship between QB Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy during the off-season. The Packers also had a terrible regular season last year, which saw Rodgers try to play through a tough knee injury. The team has a new coach in Matt LeFleur, and LeFleur has a new offense, and LeFleur and Rodgers have reportedly had some sort of “thing,” over how much Rodgers was going to be able to audible, or change the play at the line of scrimmage. Can Rodgers get along with LeFleur? Even though Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the best quarterback in the division, can he stay healthy? Can the Packers improve on defense as well?

As for the other two teams, will Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia be feeling the hot seat, if the team stumbles out of the gate early? Can the Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford stay healthy? Can the Minnesota Vikings depend on QB Kirk Cousins to close the deal? What I mean is that Cousins is a very good quarterback. However, if I needed a quarterback to win my team a big game, such as a game that could decide the division, etc., Cousins is not one of those guys I would pick. Cousins needs to prove he can do that. The rest of the of the team is very good. They can be sneaky good. I just don’t trust Cousins.

  • Chicago Bears: 10-6
  • Green Bay Packers: 10-6
  • Minnesota Vikings: 8-8
  • Detroit Lions: 5-11

NFC SOUTH:

Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers. Much has been made of Panthers’ QB Cam Newton and his injuries. He hasn’t been throwing much because of his shoulder injury and he suffered a minor foot injury against the New England Patriots in their pre-season game. Newton is reportedly ready to go for Week 1. Newton is facing the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. Good luck to him as he will need it.

While I will get to the Los Angeles Rams later, I will now discuss the team that lost to the Rams in that rather controversial 2018 NFC Championship Game, the New Orleans Saints. Yes, Saints fans and you all in the Saints Organization, we all know it was a very badly missed call. However, I am NOT so sure that this rule change for PI review was really needed, because NOW, it looks like every little PI call or non-PI call is going to be looked at with a microscope. Oh, and by the way, a facemask call was missed that should have gone against the Saints earlier in the game, and in the OVERTIME period, when the Saints got the ball, QB Drew Brees threw an INT, and then Rams QB Jared Goff marched his offense into position for the game winning FG. So, both teams got their hands on the ball, thus we again need to stop pushing for rule changes when we don’t get our way.

Now that I have gotten THAT off my chest, I am going to continue to say that the Saints can go one of two ways. The team can let what happened in said NFC Championship Game eat at them, and let it affect their new season, or they can put it aside, and move forward and have a great season. I think with star QB Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton at the helm, this team can have a great season. I expect this team to be in the thick of the playoff race at the end. I also expect, and yes, I am tipping my hand, the Saints and Rams, along with the Eagles to chase the coveted #1 seed.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a complete mess. Yes, Bruce Arians is the new coach and “quarterback whisperer,” but he is going to have to do more than “whisper”to get through to QB Jameis Winston. Winston, in my view is playing for his job. I mean, he goes from brilliant to terrible from one throw to the next. I don’t get it. The rest of the team is competent, enough. I just don’t get Winston’s wild inconsistency.

As for the Atlanta Falcons, former NFL MVP Matt Ryan should have a decent season. Their star WR Julio Jones and the organization are supposedly “close” to a deal, per Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The team has issues on their offensive line. That won’t help Matt Ryan stay vertical. The team recently re-hired K Matt Bryant. The Atlanta Falcons don’t impress me much, but their talent may be able to give their fans a decent to good season.

  • New Orleans Saints: 12-4
  • Atlanta Falcons: 9-7
  • Carolina Panthers: 7-9
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10

NFC WEST:

Let’s start with the defending divisional champion and divisional conference champions, the Los Angeles Rams. The team just signed their QB Jared Goff to a four-year, $134 million contract extension that includes a record $110 million in guarantees. The Rams have pretty much backed up the Brinks Truck to Goff’s house. In all seriousness, the Rams are “all in” on Goff, who had a great season last season and lead his team all the way to Super Bowl 53, where his team fell to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

I am expecting the Rams and head coach Sean McVey to have another great season, as most of the team is still together. Of course, there will be higher expectations, and teams have more tape on Goff. Can Goff lead this team to another Super Bowl and win it? Can Goff forget about his poor performance in Super Bowl 53? Can the team’s vaunted defense do a repeat performance? I think this team will definitely compete for the top seed.

The Arizona Cardinals will be the Cardinals, even with QB Kyle Murray looking pretty good during pre-season. Murray will have his growing pains. WR Larry Fitzgerald is aging, but he will have highlights, and be a security blanket for Murray. The defense doesn’t impress me. I think they will be finishing last in the division.

The last two teams in this division I will discuss are the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. As there are so many good teams in the NFC, I think the Seahawks just miss out on the playoffs, even though Russ Wilson is still QB and they have acquired Jadeveon Clowney in a trade. I am not confident with their team in general. As for the San Francisco 49ers, there are lots of questions surrounding QB Jimmy Garoppolo. There are those who are concerned about his interception rate in practice, and that awful performance in pre-season action. There are those who are wondering about his recovery from that ACL tear suffered last season. I think Garoppolo will be fine. The rest of the team is pretty solid.

  • Los Angeles Rams: 11-5
  • Seattle Seahawks: 9-7
  • San Francisco 49ers: 8-8
  • Arizona Cardinals: 5-11

NFC PLAYOFF SEEDS:

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. Chicago Bears
  5. Green Bay Packers
  6. Dallas Cowboys
  • Los Angeles Rams d. Dallas Cowboys in NFC Wild Card Round
  • Green Bay Packers d. Chicago Bears in NFC Wild Card Round
  • New Orleans Saints d. Green Bay Packers in NFC Divisional Round
  • Philadelphia Eagles d. Los Angeles Rams in NFC Divisional Round
  • New Orleans Saints d. Philadelphia Eagles in NFC Championship Game

SUPER BOWL 54 PARTICIPANTS AND PREDICTION:

New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints

Winner of Super Bowl 54: New England Patriots

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.

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Lessons All Fans Can Learn From Colts QB Andrew Luck’s Retirement

by Terri Bey

On the evening of August 24, 2019, the NFL world was rocked by the shocking news that 29 year old star QB Andrew Luck, who played for the Indianapolis Colts was going to retire from the sport. Reactions ranged from disbelief to shock to palpable anger as Colts fans booed Andrew Luck at that night’s pre-season game during the half-time break, as Luck walked off the field with his teammates. Many NFL players, such as newly retired New England Patriots star TE Rob Gronkowski and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman came to Luck’s defense, as did many in the media. There were those who derided Luck’s decision, such as FS1’s Doug Gottlieb and former QB Steve Beurelein, as well. Many Colts fans are upset to the point that they want refunds for their season tickets.

I have to agree that I was stunned to read about Andrew Luck’s retirement. I was at a Titanic Conference in Pigeon Forge, TN, and I saw the news on Instagram in my hotel room. I had to check ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s Twitter page to make sure this news wasn’t a hoax. It was no hoax. As more information was coming in about Luck’s retirement, I totally understood his reasons and in this blog, I will discuss some lessons all fans can learn from Luck’s retirement from the NFL. This blog is not ONLY for sports fans, but fans of all OTHER kinds of entertainers as well. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Lesson #1: Athletes don’t owe fans anything.

Several online comments I kept seeing went something like, “Why did Luck retire right before the season?” “Luck signed up to be a NFL player voluntarily.” “The poor baby millionaire. The sport was too tough for him.” I saw many of these comments along those lines. I also saw people complaining about their fantasy team, and how the Colts team was going to be terrible, and many other entitled comments like that.

Luck said that he was retiring, in essence because “the injuries have taken the joy out of this game” for him. Well, the man suffered several injuries, such as a punctured kidney, a shoulder that kept him out for the 2017 season, and now an ankle injury that has put him back on the cycle of injury and rehab. Luck was putting his body on the line for the entertainment of fans. To put your body out there, and risking serious injury, an athlete has to really have a lot of passion for the game. I don’t really care how much money said athlete is making. There is a lot of mental wear and tear on his or her body as well as physical wear and tear. If that mental wear and tear is preventing the athlete from “living the life they want to live,” as Luck said in his press conference, no amount of money will be worth it to them, and they won’t enjoy their profession,and they won’t be good at it either. Besides, an athlete’s well-being and his/her future, like being able to play with his/her kids and being able to walk down the street normally is way more important in the long run.

My point is that these athletes don’t owe us fans a thing. Yes, these people chose to be athletes. However, it is not as if Luck woke up one day and said, “I think I will be a quarterback for the Colts, and just try it out for a few years, and if it gets too hard, I will quit.” No, Luck and many of these athletes trained hard, and went to practices, and worked for YEARS to get to this level of professional football. This was Luck’s lifework. Luck had to walk away because the injuries and the mental strain was too much for him to enjoy HIS life. Sure, fans buy the tickets, but THEY are not the one taking the hits, and getting hurt and having to go through that injury-rehab cycle. Luck had to make the decision for himself, his wife and child that is coming along, and most importantly, his own health and well-being.

Lesson #2: Athletes are not slaves for the fans.

This lesson goes hand in hand with the first lesson. Many fans have this attitude that just because they pay for tickets, merchandise and all that, they can do what they want. While that is true, there is the old saying, “Just because you can, does not mean you should.” In other words, these athletes don’t belong to us, just because we buy tickets. I realize that these athletes voluntarily became NFL players. However, that does not mean they have to be slaves to us as as fans, just because we shell out hundreds of dollars to see them play. These athletes are human beings with families, just like we fans are. These athletes have to make personal decisions that are best for themselves and their families. Yes, I concede that these professional athletes make a lot of money. That doesn’t mean athletes are less human and it doesn’t mean that fans have the right to act put out because players like Luck or even Rob Gronkowski had to retire because the sport to which they dedicated their lives made their personal well-being unbearable. If fans are going to argue that “Luck voluntarily took the risk of being an NFL player,”, we are going to have to accept that he can voluntarily stop taking that same risk of being an NFL player, whether fans like it or not.

Lesson #3: Management is not always right.

The final lesson is that management is not always right. I have noticed that when it comes to labor vs management issues, most Americans that I have seen, tend to side with management. I don’t understand why there is such sympathy with management in cases like this. I see many people blasting Luck for his timing, and former NFL QB Steven Beurelein blasted Luck and suggested that Luck “should have gone on IR,” and “retired after the season.” Again, Beurlein, a journeyman QB at best, is trying to tell Luck how to handle his life. Earth to Mr. Beurlein, that is not up to you or even the Colts. It is up to Mr. Luck.

Why don’t the naysayers like Beurelein and others put the blame where it really belongs? I mean, sure, announcing a retirement two weeks before the season was probably shocking, but I am sure management and ownership had to have known this retirement was coming, or that Luck was thinking about retirement. Why isn’t Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s feet being held to the fire? Why didn’t Irsay start looking at quarterbacks a few weeks prior to this announcement? While I’m at it, I place the blame for Andrew Luck’s retirement at the feet of both Jim Irsay and former Colts GM Ryan Grigson. Let’s look at some statistics here. From 2012 to 2018, Andrew Luck was sacked 174 times. I already mentioned a couple of his injuries. One of the main reasons Luck was sacked so much was because Ryan Grigson, who was the Colts GM from 2012 to 2016, did not so much as provide Luck with an OFFENSIVE LINE to protect the team’s star quarterback. Grigson’s poor drafting of players to help Luck out didn’t help either. The Trent Richardson trade was also a total disaster. I probably should not keep beating a dead horse, so to speak, but if Grigson and Irsay had accepted their 38 point beatdown in a certain AFC Championship game, and not have instigated a witch-hunt over missing molecules of air, and had given Luck said offensive line, etc., perhaps Luck would not have had to retire.

Again, I think this siding with management ties in with the slave mentality fans have about professional athletes. Management has to take a portion of the blame in this retirement. The Colts had a huge opportunity to have a wonderful QB with a bright future to potentially lead the team to multiple Super Bowl victories, and in my opinion, they had a huge part in blowing it by poor drafting and not getting an offensive line to protect him. Somehow, though, fans will blame the retirement all on Luck, because he is the one on the field. I just think fans need to be a bit more skeptical of what management says or does.

Conclusively, I wish Andrew Luck the best in his future. I wish him good luck, and I hope that he will be able to find peace. This retirement decision could not have been easy for him. I am glad that he made the decision that was best for his own well-being, and for his family. God bless Andrew Luck.

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Several Great Qualities about Tom Brady to Appreciate on His 42nd Birthday

by Terri Bey

As his fellow New England Patriots teammate Ty Law from the 2001, 2003, and 2004 Super Bowl winning teams enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame today, August 3. 2019, as part of the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class, Patriots QB Tom Brady celebrates his 42nd birthday, and from judging from his winning his and the team’s 6th Super Bowl, and his performance in Patriots Training Camp, he is showing no signs of slowing down. This should be a very historical year for him and the NFL, because no QB at age 42 has played a full season. I have every confidence that Brady will be able to do it, lead his team back to the post-season, and put a clown suit on the doubters once again.

Anyway, I am writing this blog to discuss why Tom Brady should be appreciated by not only the NFL, but sports fans,and the general public. Brady has many great qualities that should be admired. In this blog, I am going to discuss several of those great qualities about him. I realize that the latest thing is to focus on the negative these days, but I think it is about time to focus on something positive for a change.

Feedback is welcome and encouraged. I hope you enjoy this blog, as I discuss several great qualities about Tom Brady on his birthday.

Let me start by saying, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TOM BRADY!!”

Let me start by discussing his LONGEVITY at the quarterback position. On Sunday night, September 8, 2019, when the Patriots open their season, and release their sixth brand new banner, and take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also have six Lombardi Trophies, Tom Brady will be playing in his TWENTIETH season. Try to even imagine that. For the past 19 years, with the exception of the 2008 Season, when he was unfortunately knocked out for the year with an ACL tear suffered in the first game of that season, Brady has been playing quarterback through mini-camps, OTAs, pre-season games, regular season games, post season games, Super Bowls, and taking all those hits, too.

Brady is, to steal a phrase, “still here.” I don’t need to list all of his accomplishments, do I? We all know he has 6 Super Bowls from 9 Super Bowl appearances. Brady owns most, if not all post-season records. I could list more accomplishments, but I don’t think it’s neccessary. I know he hates being called this, but many people call him the “Greatest of All Time,” or simply, the G.O.A.T.” His accomplishments warrant that moniker, but the man plays this game, because he loves it. Period.

Another quality that I find admirable in Tom Brady is his ability to LET SLIGHTS OR PERCEIVED SLIGHTS INSPIRE HIM, instead of playing the “Oh, woe was me.” card. I mean, that “chip on his shoulder” just keeps getting bigger every time someone either says something negative or “Brady can’t….”, and that is one quality about Brady I love so much. It is one quality I wished I had. As most people know, especially Patriots fans, “Brady hating” by both mainstream media and sports outlets, and also on all Social Media is a cottage industry. I could write a whole blog, just on that. However, all the hateful nonsense coming from so-called “experts” like Chris Simms, Rob Parker, and Shannon Sharpe does is inspire Brady to kick more butt.

My favorite example of a perceived slight inspiring Brady was after the Patriots demolished the Los Angeles Chargers last post-season on their way to a sixth Super Bowl Title, Brady, in a post-game interview, pretty much called out all those media jokers who bashed the team all year. The media then turned into Captain Renault from “Casablanca” (“Shocked! Shocked!) and acted like they didn’t say what they said. (https://youtu.be/KZbvgIB903U )

Of course, we all know Brady has used his experience at Michigan, his Alma Mater and the fact he was a sixth round pick to be part of that chip on his shoulder. Who knows what he will use to inspire himself this year? We will see. However, to the doubters, this is fair warning. If you doubt Brady and are dumb enough to say it out loud, and I am including players on opposing teams, it is more probable than not that Brady will put a clown suit on you.

I also love Tom Brady’s LEADERSHIP and WILL TO WIN. Brady is also highly respected not only by his teammates, but by the coaching staff, and by head coach Bill Belichick, who has praised Brady many times in various press conferences. There have been times where Tom Brady’s leadership and will to win has carried his team to victory, where victory was so uncertain. For example, Brady led the team from not one, but two two touchdown deficits against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014-15 Divisional Round Playoff Game. Famously, Brady won his first Super Bowl against the highly favored St. Louis Rams in SB 36, by leading the team down the field, and getting the team in position so then Kicker Adam Vinitieri could make the winning kick. Most famously, in Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons led by 2016 MVP Matt Ryan, Tom Brady . despite throwing a pick six in the first half, and the offense only scoring 3 points in the first half, and being down 28-3, led a furious Silky Sullivan-like comeback to win Super Bowl 51 in the very first over-time in Super Bowl history. Brady and the Patriots won not only Super Bowl #5, but Brady was named the MVP for the game.

In conclusion, Tom Brady has had a long and storied career, and I hope that his blog will help people to appreciate him, his longevity and his greatness. Brady says that he plans to play until he is 45. Of course, I would like to see it happen, but even he says, “We are all day to day.” I hope that Tom Brady’s accomplishments are appreciated now. I think it is absolutely remarkable that Brady has been able to sustain such greatness for this length of time.

Again, I hope Tom Brady has a great birthday. and I hope that he is appreciated for what he has done for the NFL.

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Preview and Prediction for the 151s Belmont Stakes

by Terri Bey

This Saturday, June 8, 2019 will be the 151st Belmont Stakes, the final race in the Triple Crown Series. The race is currently run at 1 1/2 miles at the famed Belmont Park Racetrack in Elmont, Long Island, New York. The Belmont Stakes is the longest of the three Triple Crown races and the oldest at 151 years. There is obviously no attempt at a Triple Crown this year, but there have been plenty of editions of this famous race when there was no Triple Crown at stake. In many of those occasions, the race has been won by horses who won one of the two other races, the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, and you think, “If only…” A couple of these Belmonts I recommend are the 2001 Belmont, won by Point Given (https://youtu.be/KtmWIWTh9bw) and the 2005 Belmont, won by Afleet Alex ( https://youtu.be/1P4tZ-wVCXQ), both of whom lost the Kentucky Derby. I also recommend the 1995 Belmont Stakes, won by Point Given’s late sire, Thunder Gulch ( https://youtu.be/HmIYs4cQKhU ), and the 1984 Belmont Stakes won by the late Swale, a son of the late 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew ( https://youtu.be/Vv_8Tv5bhFA ) , both of whom won the Kentucky Derby, but not the Preakness. Then you have the horses who don’t run in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown who either have upset the Triple Crown like Tonalist did in 2014 to California Chrome ( https://youtu.be/lJKcC0EaUuk ) or when there’s no Crown, most famously, the late Conquistador Cielo back in 1982 off of a 4 day break after winning that year’s Metropolitan Mile against older horses (https://youtu.be/HaSN_GDvdk4 ) .

As you can see, if you watch the videos, the Belmont Stakes can be an exciting race, even if there is NO Triple Crown on the line. The question that I have for this current field of 11 is can they make this race exciting and memorable? Can War of Will add his name to many horses who have won 2 legs of the Triple Crown, regardless of combination? Will the ghost of the 2019 Kentucky Derby disqualification hang over the Belmont if War of Will doesn’t win? Will another horse come through and muddy the already cloudy waters of deciding who is the best 3YO in the country? I will try to answer that question in this blog.

THE 151st BELMONT STAKES:

  • Racetrack: Belmont Park
  • Post Time: 6:48PM, EST
  • Network: NBC
  • Date: June 8, 2019
The Field for the Belmont Stakes
Credit: Andheretheycome.com

Horses with no shot to win:

Joevia– He ran 11th against similar company, such as Tax and Tacitus in the Wood Memorial. I would toss.

Bourbon War– He finished 8th against these horses in the Preakness. He is a closer, and the Belmont Stakes, despite the distance being 1 1/2 miles, doesn’t tend to favor closers. Yes, he is by Tapit, but I like the other two Tapit horses much better.

Sir Winston- He ran a credible second to Global Campaign in the Peter Pan Stakes, but against horses like Tax and Tacitus, he runs out of the money. If you like long-shots, maybe you might want to take chance.

Tax- Yes, this son of Arch has tangled with Tacitus, but his 14th place finish and the fact that his connections nearly backed out of entering him in this race should tell you all you need to know of his chances of winning.

Horses with a chance to win:

Spinoff– I realize that he finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby. However, trainer Todd Pletcher has him in good shape, and I think he might be one of those horses, much like the 2004 winner Birdstone, who didn’t run well in the Kentucky Derby, but bounced back to win the Belmont.

Everfast- This horse was one of my “tosses” in my Preakness Stakes column two weeks ago. I will say one thing. I keep learning a lot in racing, and one thing I learn is that this sport will humble you, even though I am not even a bettor anymore. Trainer Dale Romans knows his stuff, and that horse ran his heart out to finish second to War of Will. I will never doubt Dale Romans again in a big race. I would put this horse in your exotics.

Master Fencer– I like this horse to have a good chance to at least hit the board. He has been training well, and even though he gave his connections a little scare, when he stumbled during training, he was fine. He looks good in his workouts.

Horses with the best shots:

Tacitus– Tacitus is the current favorite at this point. Beware of Belmont favorites as 24 of the last 32 Belmont favorites lost this race. He is trained by Bill Mott, and he handles all surfaces well, including a 4th at Belmont Part in a Maiden Special Weight as a 2YO. Tacitus handles traffic problems well, as demonstrated in his trip in the Wood Memorial. He breaks from Post 10, so he should not have an issue with the outside post.

War of Will- After that disastrous and controversial trip in the Kentucky Derby, War of Will prevailed in the Preakness Stakes, despite getting the one hole, and Bodexpress stealing the spotlight by tossing his jockey and putting on that sideshow that fascinated America. I mean, one would never have known that War of Will won the Preakness. Anyway, this time, War of Will gets the 9 post, and that should not bother him. If his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione gets him to the front easily, and sets a good pace, I think he can wire the field.

Intrepid Heart– This is the other Todd Pletcher horse in the race. In his last start, the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, he finished a distant third behind the winner Global Campaign and runner up Sir Winston. He is a son of Tapit, who has a penchant for siring Belmont winners. Tapit could tie Lexington, born in 1850, should Intrepid Heart, the aforementioned Bourbon War or Tacitus win on Saturday. The horses sired by Tapit who have won the Belmont Stakes are Tonalist in 2014, Creator in 2016 and Tapwrit in 2017. One other thing going for Intrepid is that his broodmare sire, Touch Gold also won the Belmont Stakes in 1997.

I know Intrepid Heart has slightly higher odds, but I really like his chances in here, if the pace falls apart.

PREDICTION:

Winner: The only other horse besides the now sidelined Omaha Beach that I really liked during the entire Triple Crown prep season was War of Will, so I am going to stick with him.

Your winner is War of Will.

My long-shot special in this race is Intrepid Heart.

I hope my readers enjoyed this blog. Feedback is welcome.

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