Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be Careful Where You Put Blame In Jaguars Loss

Looks like Dominic Rhodes was right. Today at Lucas Oil Field the big brother got the best of his up and coming younger sibling as the Jaguars fell to a well prepared Colts team 34-24.

The 10 point victory both is and is not misleading. Tyjuan Hagler's 41 yard onside kick off return was a garbage score but the Jaguars 67 rushing yards discloses the fact that Jacksonville was playing from behind the entire game thanks to a rebirth of the feared Peyton Manning.

Sure would have been nice to see the faulty one.

If we are being totally honest, had Austin Collie not been taken out due to a concussion Manning might have doubled his output. With the weapons of Collie, Garcon and Wayne at his disposal, the first half was a clinic on how to confuse a defense. Jaguars defenders were turned around and out of position as if they were looking for that last seat in a game of musical chairs.

There was, however, no quit from the visitors. Garrard, statistically, out performed his counterpart and save an overthrow of Jason Hill that was intercepted on a sure scoring drive, he might just have been the hero we have seen in some of the great wins this season. Behind some shaky protection which allowed David to get pounded on multiple occasions, number nine kept picking himself off the turf, allowing the surprising Jaguars to show everyone that you had better be prepared to play 60 minutes of football.

And it was not just David making plays. There was a Mike Thomas punt return for a touchdown, a Marcedes Lewis acrobatic one handed catch and a wasted sack by Daryl Smith.

In the end there were simply too many mistakes to overcome. The aforementioned interception, an unfortunate fumbled punt by Thomas, problems with the toss pitch and a questionable fourth down attempt are but a few guffaws that the Colts managed to avoid while the Jaguars monopolized them.

However, when all is said and done, I blame myself.

I knew my role in this team's success and I failed to live up to my obligation. The same long sleeve teal performance shirt was worn over my gray Nike cold weather shirt (temperature appropriate). The beard was not cut, except for the bits of mustache hair which had begun to obscure my mouth.

But instead of the Jaguars visor or Live Strong head warmer I grabbed my Jaguars ski cap. There was a third layer on the torso: a short sleeved UNF tee shirt. For the first time all season I watched an away game from other than the comfort of my own home.

Consider this. The good luck beard, Amish style, began growing before the home game versus the Titans. After that travesty the full beard was adopted. Since then loses made perfect sense based on what I did. I was on the Appalachian Trail for the Kansas City game and I was in the gym for the first half of the Giants game.

Dressed properly and in attendance for the home games, while on the coach for all of the Cowboys and Titans games, the formula was obvious but my hubris got the best of me when I agreed to cheer on the teal and black from Chicago Pizza at the Jacksonville Landing.

Now in my defense my daughter was performing at the Landing at 4:15 so I would have missed her troop's rendition of songs from Suessical the Musical. But I have seen it twice already this month. Watching a Jaguars home playoff game is a rare bird that has not shown it's beak in 11 years. The decision should have been easy regardless of what the wife and kid said.

The universe has its laws and she is unforgiving when you break them.

So while you are reading the articles and listening to the comments on who to blame and why, give the players and coaches some slack. This one is on me.

- Brian Fullford

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Sportswriting History

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Bit of Christmas Glee

The standard reply when asked if I really watch Glee is usually, "Well I have a 10 year old daughter and she just loves it." Truth is, I love it too. It is a weekly one hour musical that often serves to tug at some string within my heart.

Tonight's Christmas episode embraced The Grinch storyline with Sue Sylvester as the loathsome green antagonist. There may be no better villain in all of TV land. It also included a comical portrayal of Brittany and her belief that Santa Claus is real.

Looking beyond what has become a tired storyline of Finn and Rachel was the embodiment of what many want from the season: belief in better.

Finn consistently pressed to look beyond the verbal and physical revulsion to the choir caroling through classrooms. He pressed that others had it worse when the club came across Sue's Grinch inspired trashing of their tree, choir room and theft of gifts for needy children.

Brittany, to the shock of her friends, treated Christmas as if she were five. Artie, her wheel chair bound boyfriend, pleaded that no one disclose the truth. He had them go to the mall to sit on Santa's lap to show they too believed. They even went as far to ask the football coach (a hefty woman) to dress up as Santa and break into Brittany's house so she could take back the Christmas wish the mall Santa said he would honor: that Artie would walk.

What each managed to do was elevate those around them.

Finn's demand for being in the season found the club in the teacher's lounge where a cold Sue's heart was eventually melted. As she watched her fellow educators donate what little they had to replace the pilfered gifts, the power of giving finally overcame her years of holiday pain.

Brittany's belief inspired someone (we were made to believe the coach as she smile secretly outside the choir room doors) to pay a large sum of money to purchase a device which helped Artie walk. With the students questioning who made such a sacrifice, they happily attributed it to a Christmas miracle.

For a moment there was a collective belief things could get better.

In the end the glee club, at Sue's bidding and with Sue, are found in Schuester's house decorating a new tree with all the "stolen" presents under it. Ms Sylvester discloses the truth of how and why and we end with the two enemies wishing each other a Merry Christmas, refuting Will's belief that he would be alone for Christmas.

There is not a whole lot of digging to be done here: the message is obvious. As was recently noted by a friend on Facebook, "If people put half as much effort coming up with solutions to problems as they do complaining about problems the world would be a better place."

It is as basic as Camus's call to imagine Sisyphus happy: Or in the words of historian Howard Zinn:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.”
The season is about something which transcends any religion which claims ownership and it is a sentiment which is not isolated to believing in any deity. It is a simple reminder that a single act, one which serves to make at least one person happier, will contain within it the fact of immediate change and the hope for permanence.
We should not be ashamed or feel stupid that we sometimes need to be reminded of this truth. Some of us can not remember where we left our keys, our glasses or our wallet half the time. Maybe that is really what the message is: Beyond being hopeful that our actions can change others, the belief that an other's actions can change us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thoreau is Thankfully Low on Oil

I replace the oil in my car because the engine needs it to run efficiently and cleanly. My engine is not concerned with alternate theories of peformance. It was built in a way which requires a degree of maintenance, of which draining and refilling the oil tank in short regular intervals is a necessity. If there is resistance within the engine then it will overheat and die.

Humanity is not like an engine. Progress is contingent upon friction. In school, children are challenged to consider new ideas, and hopefully process facts not as static events but items through which greater questions can be asked and answered.

But not all progress is good nor is all friction beneficial. Friendships have been lost due to constant irritation.

Henry David Thoreau reminded me of these things while I sought his comfort from beyond the grave. Having recently read commentary on the tweet by Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson along with biased political commentary implying only Republicans are incompetent, I sought out words of solace. This is the one of many which stood out.

Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe.
Henry David Thoreau

The religious element is obvious, though often forgotten. As one who has worked with children and youth in a church setting, there is such a strong desire by many parents and educators to ensure a sanitized approach to their belief system. Doubt is not promoted for fear of falling. When has weakness become something which we honor?

But the extension of doubt and faith, first, must be directed at the individual. Friction discloses many things, of which a lack of patience and ignorance hold the standard.

Where is the educators faith that the child and the teacher will attain a level of communication which will edify? Where is my faith in self that allows me to digest news without a poisonous level of disdain for the source or those who align to the opinions?

Approaching the Other's argument requires a level of doubt to our own position. In turn the want is that faith in our ability to disrobe those items which fail to retain validity will be dropped.

Yet there is never dignity lost in saying, "Let me think on this."

While looking for a selfish easement, Mr. Thoreau turned the mirror. If our reading, our speaking and our watching is only a service to where we are then it is best to remain locked away. The perenial faith is that "good for" will win out. The doubt is the accessory.

My reminder is that unless disclosed, there can be no understanding of how the other sees it. I must be allowed to see my faith justified. I must understand to where my faith should be applied. This cannot be given without doubt.

The wisdom is knowing when viscosity serves the room.