Category Archives: NFL

Why Just Sticking To Sports Will Never Work

One of the hottest topics in the sportswriting niche of the world has been the following online debate, kicked off by Bryan Curtis over at The Ringer.  The name of his piece was "The End of 'Stick to Sports'", and it was a thinkpiece that truly got writing minds thinking.  "Sportswriters have been awakened by Donald Trump’s presidency," the byline read.  "Is that what their readers want?"

It's had an interesting effect on the entire sportswriting community - a response veering from general agreement, to "we never really did stick to sports anyway" and "I will always stick to sports and let others talk about politics."

What it isn't is cut and dry.  I think the problem with this so-called "debate" is that it attempts to make sportswriting into a binary choice - either you stick to sports or you have your sports explore other topics.

Art is not a series of binary choices, and if you agree sportswriting is a form of art, then "sticking to sports" will never work.  It's like saying to Lady Gaga "stick to singing show tunes".  It doesn't work that way.
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Story Of Philadephia Eagles’ 1968 Mud Bowl Parallels 2016 Election

How do you write about sports when it doesn't feel like a game anymore?

This is the crux of the question I've been struggling with over the last few weeks.

Like many of you, I was shocked at the election of Donald Trump to become our next President.  Also like many of you, I paid as he did things differently when it came to talking about the political foes he defeated, how he went about assembling a cabinet, and how he engaged the press.

Everything about this point in time in history feels historic.  No set of Americans have ever elected someone like Donald Trump as President.  Nobody, not Trump of the mobs of Twitter people that seem to follow him, have used Twitter to attack people so directly almost like a weapon, especially focused at journalists that are trying to get at the truth.

Frankly, nobody knows what's coming next.

So how do you write about sports at a time like this?  How do you compartmentalize what you're feeling about the election, and crack open the vault which waxes philosophic about Lehigh's latest and greatest postseason award for football, or latest achievement in basketball or wrestling?

The answer appears to be to look to history - and to look to sports - to find narratives.  And I found one.

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Goodbye St. Louis Rams, Hello St. Louis Billikens?

Cruel doesn't begin to describe what Stan Kroenke has done to fans of the St. Louis Rams.

He didn't only move the Rams back to LA this week.  "On his way out he decided he had to torch the city, saying 'Any NFL club who signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin,'" a not-so-cheery recap from the fans recapped on MMQB.  "This from a guy who proudly claims he was named after two amazing St. Louis baseball players. It was a completely classless act of revenge from a little man who profited greatly by being in St. Louis. He not only made himself look pitiful, he also made the NFL look like a heartless organization that only cares about money."

St. Louis is now left with a stadium that isn't yet paid off, the Edward Jones Dome, and no football team to play games there.

Nobody asked me, but to me, this presents the opportunity of a lifetime for the private, Jesuit Division I school in St. Louis.
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Ryan Spadola Press Conference Quotes, 8/26/2013

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

Today, Jet head coach Rex Ryan led his daily press conference with heaping praise about WR Ryan Spadola, who, in case you've just woken from a seven month nap, has been fighting and clawing to make the roster of the NFL's New York Jets.

This morning, on the first roster cutdown day, there was still doubt whether Ryan would make the 53 man roster.  Even when four camp wideouts were released this morning, it still wasn't a done deal.

But that was before the announcement that WR Braylon Edwards was cut.  And it was also before Rex Ryan spent a couple of minutes on talking about him.

Suddenly, he went from "bubble" to "in".
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Lehigh’s Summer of Pro

During the football season, I've gotten in the writing habit of picking a "Sunday Word", and using it to describe what happened the previous week.

I've been slack in getting this going this preseason, but the only possible word that can perfectly summarize this Lehigh football offseason is "pro".

The NCAA's big ad campaign for years now has been that "most athletes go 'pro' in something other than sports".  And for the great majority of Lehigh athletes, year-in and year-out, this is still true.

But this offseason we've seen an unprecedented number of Lehigh athletes trying their hand at 'pro' ball - and Lehigh fans everywhere couldn't be more thrilled or excited.  There are a lot of "pro" adventures to follow for Lehigh fans right now, and it's damned exciting stuff.
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Boykopalooza

Future NFL players spend their drafts differently. 

Some spend it in celebration with friends in the city, or surrounded by family at home.  Some of the big names have the cameras embedded with the players, awaiting with baited breath their reactions, or their expressions of relief.

But LB Billy Boyko didn't do much different than he does many weekends.

"Boyko, the all-league linebacker from Northampton, spent Saturday working on cars at Maple Grove Raceway," the Morning Call reported, "where his family is immersed in the drag racing scene."

Working on his father’s dragster during "the season opener of the Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail," a release from the Maple Grove Raceway said, he "kept two cell phones in his pockets at all times," awaiting the call from his agent about a possible late round draft pick or a late free agency pickup.

Saturday night, the phone rang with a call from the Raiders.
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Eagles Training Camp Bites the Dust at Lehigh

I've often said privately that I thought that the departure of Andy Reid would probably be the end of Eagles Training Camp at Lehigh.

With the hiring of new head coach Chip Kelly, this sad day for the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh University has finally come.

In a noon press release, the Philadelphia Eagles organization announced their intentions of holding preseason training at the NovaCare complex and having some free practices at Lincoln Financial Field.

I can understand why the Eagles did it, but it's a decision that makes me no less sad.
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