Tag Archives: Andrew Luck

The U.S. Open is here! I’m in heaven as always. Some superstitious cows amuse me.. And a shocking retirement announcement from an NFL star

 

It feels like the night before Christmas, y’all.

I know, I know, I’m Jewish. But the U.S. Open tennis tournament starts in, oh, about 13 hours from the time I’m typing this, and as always, I am super-duper excited.

I am so damn lucky for many reasons in life, but one is that for the past eight years I’ve lived less than 45 minutes away from the greatest spectacle in tennis, and for the past six I’ve been lucky enough to have an up-close seat as a writer covering the tournament.

Every year I say this to myself when I look around the Bud Collins Media Center, and see some scribes or broadcasters muttering or complaining about something: Are you freaking kidding me? You people have the best job ever, getting to come to the U.S. Open, FOR FREE, and someone else is paying you to be there, and you get free food! And great seats to the matches!

The Open is amazing, and I’m expecting another great tournament. Since this is my blog I ought to first let you know a few of my U.S. Open preview stories have already been published; first, in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., I profiled Jessica Pegula, a super-nice woman who I’ve known and covered for years, who has made a huge breakthrough in the rankings this season.
And then for my new “regular” tennis writing gig at Tennis.One, I did a quick-hitting Open preview for the men and the women, with first-round matches to watch, three players who may win the whole shebang, and other fun stuff.

OK, on to a few other scattered thoughts as this two-week extravaganza gets underway.

— Can’t remember the last time I had this little clue who’d win the Open on the women’s side. You can make a case to me for nine different players, at least, and I’d buy in. Naomi Osaka, the defending champ? Maybe, but her year hasn’t been great since Australia. Ash Barty, the French Open champ? Maybe, but she too isn’t playing great. Serena? Sure, why not, but there are so many psychological, emotional and physical factors she has to deal with this year here at Flushing Meadows.
I’ll pick Wimbledon champ Simona Halep, but really I have no clue (aren’t you glad some people are paying me to cover this?)

— As for the men, well, that’s much easier. Bet almost everything you own on Novak Djokovic, who is by far the best hardcourt player on the ATP Tour. Bet the rest on Rafael Nadal. And say a little prayer for Roger Federer, who will need everything to go right to win.

— Coco-mania is in full swing here. I’m speaking of course of 15-year-old Coco Gauff, playing her first Open and drawing huge crowds last week at practice wherever she went. I attended one of her sessions for a story I’m working on for the Palm Beach Post, and it was pretty raucous when she signed autographs. Gauff is a great, great kid off the court, definitely someone to root for. She starts on Tuesday.

The Open is here! Happy times are here again.

**And now, just because this made me laugh hard, a video of cows all thinking they have to jump over the white lines on the road, and doing it beautifully.

Hilarious. It’s like they’re superstitious baseball players or something.

**And finally today, it’s pretty rare when an NFL superstar retires in his prime, two weeks before the season starts, but that’s happened Saturday night.

Shockingly, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, age 29, announced his retirement. Luck has been battling injuries for several years, and hasn’t played at all this preseason due to a calf injury.

After a constant cycle of injury and rehab, the mental and physical toll finally got to be too much for Luck.

I say good for him. Let him get out while he can still enjoy his life. The NFL chews these men up and spits them out, leaving them broken.

And it was despicable that when news broke Saturday night at a Colts preseason game, and Luck trotted off the field at halftime, some Indy fans booed him.

How dare he try to protect his future health and life, right??? Awful.

My man Pearlman has a great column up on Luck, the booing, and how he made the right decision.

I start my new career as a teacher (finally). The Jets mercifully pull Sanchez, and win. And the best photos of the year

substitute-teacher-comes_o_818591

Big day for me today.
My professional teaching career will finally begin.
Got a phone call Sunday night from the New York City Dept. of Education automated substitute teacher line, asking me if I wanted to work on Monday.
The call surprised me for several reasons, mostly because after just finally getting registered and approved last week, I was told I wouldn’t even be in the system for another week or so.
But hey, after three months of waiting to be allowed to sub, I’m not complaining.
And  so off I’ll go, to a school I won’t name in a borough I won’t name, to sub in a grade I won’t name (hey, not about to get myself in trouble by talking in too much detail about my new gig yet).

Should be an interesting and challenging life as a sub. At the very least, I’m sure it’ll give me good stories to tell all of you.

I just hope kids don’t still throw erasers at subs; I can’t duck as well as I used to.

McElroy

**My jaw dropped toward the table at my favorite local sports bar at about 3 p.m. Sunday, when something I’d been hoping and praying for finally happened:
Rex Ryan, after months of stubbornly refusing to bench the woefully performing Mark Sanchez, actually pulled the plug and took out the man we all know isn’t the answer at quarterback.
And while we expected Tim Tebow to one day get a chance this season, it was third-stringer Greg McElroy, who may turn out to be the best quarterback on the roster, who got in the game.
I was thrilled. As were the fans at MetLife Stadium, and I’m sure, the Jets players. McElroy wasn’t sensational in the win, but against the beyond-putrid Arizona Cardinals (Ryan Lindley might be the worst NFL starting QB I’ve ever seen, though to be fair, he’s Arizona’s third-stringer, too), being efficient and OK was enough.

McElroy led the Jets to the 7-6 win, and we fans got to smile. Rex, sweetheart, bubeleh, please leave McElroy in next week. Give the kid a chance; it’s not like the Jets are making the playoffs anyway.
And besides, now that the win screwed up the Jets’ chances of a Top 5 draft pick, might as well try to win a few games.

Some other NFL thoughts from a pretty darn exciting Sunday:
I think it’s crazy the NFL went ahead with the Kansas City Chiefs game a day after one of their players, Jovan Belcher, murdered his girlfriend and then shot himself in front of the Chiefs’ head coach and general manager. There’s no way that the team or coach could’ve been emotionally prepared to play a game after something like that. The Chiefs did play, and won, in a very surreal game at Arrowhead Stadium (thankfully, the Chiefs offered no such “moment of silence” for the murderer.)

I’ll be very curious to see if any brain damage or head injury issues result from his autopsy; sadly it’s always possible now, with history shown that brain injuries can cause violent acts.

— In less-important football news, gotta be impressed again by Andrew Luck. Down 12 in the fourth quarter, he rallied the Colts to beat Detroit on the last play of the game. Man, Colts fans are gonna be spoiled; Peyton Manning, then Luck playing QB for them.
— How in the world did the Ravens let Charlie Batch, Charlie freaking Batch, beat ’em 23-20? Why do I have a feeling these two teams will meet again this year in the playoffs?

Fans of France kiss before their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match against Ukraine at Donbass Arena in Donetsk

**Finally today, I love great photo montages, and the Reuters news agency has put together its best photographs of 2012. The one above looked cool to me because it’s pure joy in the middle of a crowd, but there are so many other incredible images in this gallery (especially No. 14 and No. 18), it’s well worth your time to check out.

Good News Friday: Michael Jackson blows me away in new doc. Andrew Luck makes a 6-year-old cancer patient happy. And the cabbie who returned $900,000.

After enduring about 1 1/2 quarters of some of the most disgusting, disgraceful football you’ll ever see from a team (thanks, New York Jets, for nearly making me hurl what was a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner), I flipped over to ABC at 9:30 p.m. to catch what I hoped would be a terrific show: Spike Lee’s documentary on Michael Jackson’s legendary “Bad” album, from 1987.

It was sensational. It’s been a few years since MJ died so I hadn’t been thinking about him much, but when you think about how phenomenal that “Bad” album was, with five consecutive No. 1 singles, it boggles the mind.
I know there’s no way to measure something like this, but Jackson had to have had the greatest chasm in history between “incredible, once-in-a lifetime talent” and personal demons/screwed-up life.

The documentary, told through the eyes of most of the people who worked on “Bad,” basically illustrated how uniquely talented Jackson was; who knew that among his other many talents, he could’ve sung bass but chose not to? Who knew that he laid down all the harmonies and lead vocals together for his songs?

The man was a true genius, with his feet, with his voice, and with his musical brain.
Other things I learned from this doc, and I highly recommend watching it if ABC put it online…

— After years of wondering, now we all know who the heck “Annie” is, during the highly-addictive “Smooth Criminal” chorus “Annie are you OK?”  She is a CPR dummy that Jackson was working with while learning CPR during the writing of the song. Never in a million years would I have guessed that.
— The model at the end of “The Way You Make Me Feel” video was told not to kiss him at the end because MJ was shy.
–The funniest thing in the doc was seeing Sheryl Crow as a Jackson backup singer, with incredibly big hair. I know it was the 80s, but I never knew Sheryl rocked the Aqua-Net that much.
— Very moving sequence with everyone Lee interviewed getting choked up when talking about Jackson’s death. It’s obvious how almost everyone who worked with him loved and admired him.

We’ll never see anyone like Jackson again, and 25 years after “Bad,” it was great to be reminded of that. Bravo, Spike Lee.

**There are so many reasons to like Indianapolis Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck.
By every account, he’s humble. He graduated from Stanford in three years, but stayed a fourth year because he loved college football so much.
In his rookie season, while trying to replace the legend Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, he’s shown poise and accuracy in stunningly leading the Colts to a 6-4 record so far.

But here’s why I like Andrew Luck today: My good buddy Jeff Pearlman lives next door to a 6-year-old kid named Andrew Cohen, who cruelly suffers from a rare cancer called neuroblastoma.
The poor kid has had a rough life, but last year he took a liking to Andrew Luck, that really good Stanford QB.
Well, thanks to Luck being alerted, he sent Andrew this signed football to help him in his battle.
Look at that kid’s face. And then tell me that athletes aren’t role models, and can’t have an enormous impact with just a small little gesture.

**Finally, here’s to the most honest cabdriver in the world, from Thailand.
A man named Sia Ka Tian returned $900,000 left in his cab this week.

Sia Ka Tian, 70, found the money a vacationing couple left in his cab on Monday, and turned it all in to authorities. The grateful couple gave him a little reward, but I loved Tian’s quote.

“The money is unimportant to me. It doesn’t belong to me, so how can I use it?”

A good soul, that Mr. Tian is.  Now, what the hell that couple was doing with $900,000 in a cab is another matter…

Another miserable football Sunday. A car-meets-cow story makes me chuckle. And honoring the Vets today, and every day

It’s not too often that both New York football teams get spanked and embarrassed on the same day.
The difference is, Giants fans probably aren’t too worried about their team’s 31-13 defeat to the Bengals; the Giants go through this November swoon every year, and hey, they’ve won two Super Bowls in the last five years so they can’t be complaining about anything, ever, in my book.

The Jets, though… jesus that was ugly on Sunday. You would think, after 30 years of this, I’d become numb to losses like this; hell, this season has seen plenty of games like Sunday’s desultory 28-7 defeat to Seattle: Defense plays pretty well, keeps ’em in it, but offense is so horrendous that it can’t score even once, and eventually defense falls apart.

I’m sick and tired of complaining about Mark Sanchez, I really am. Because the story never changes: He makes terrible decisions. He fumbles while getting hit more than any quarterback I’ve ever seen. He has a lot of problems throwing the ball where his receivers can catch it.

I don’t know why we fans see all of these problems and yet Rex Ryan is a blind man in a cornfield here. And I also don’t get why so much of the football media says “Well, if you bench Sanchez for Tim Tebow, there’s no going back. Sanchez is ruined forever for the Jets.”

First of all, that’s b.s., quarterbacks have gotten benched and returned all the time! And second, what the hell are you ruining right now in the future? he’s not the answer for next year, or ever! Bench him, throw God’s quarterback in there, and see what the heck happens.

But nope, there’s nothing quite so stubborn as a stubborn-ass football coach. And so we Jets fans get seven more weeks of awful offense.

Joy.

Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts today:
— Wasn’t at my usual sports bar perch Sunday so I missed the Falcons-Saints game, but man, looks like it was a hell of a tilt. Not surprised to see the Saints come back to life this year; no matter how bad their defense is, they still have Drew Brees.
— You would think these showboating idiot NFL players would learn not to throw the ball away on a TD return before crossing the goal line, but nope, Denver’s Trindon Holliday did just such a stupid thing Sunday. He got away with it because the refs missed the call, but what a stupid move.
— Any particular reason Norv Turner hasn’t been fired yet? Because he’s like three years overdue.

— Maybe we all were wrong about Cam Newton and his awesomeness last year. Man does he look lost out there.
— I know it’s unlikely still, but how great would an Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning playoff duel in the AFC be?

Copyright of Gail Fischer, www.gailfischer.com

**There are some things I miss about living in a sleepy town in upstate New York (Glens Falls), and stories like this are one of them. My great friend Will Springstead sent it to me, and as soon as I saw the headline, I was hooked:

“Police officer escapes injury during collision with cow”

The rest of the story is here, with my favorite part being:  “Murphy said the Dodge Charger patrol car may have to be totalled, but insurance or the cow’s owner should cover the cost.”

Well sure, everyone’s got cow insurance, don’t they?

**Finally today, a salute to America’s veterans on the day we honor them most. I am exceedingly lucky to have been born in a generation where I was never required to perform military service, so I’ve never had to put my life on the line like so many millions have.

All I can do is thank them for their bravery and heroism, and be grateful they’ve done what they’ve done for the last 200 years.

Check out the video montage above; I think it’s a beautiful reminder of all who have served.

1 day out from Election Day, and the end of Mitt Romney. Andrew Luck and the Steelers star on an NFL Sunday. And the Hurricane Sandy concert rocked

Finally, the endless campaign is about over.
The undecideds have all finally decided. The constant barrage of emails begging me for money (which have turned my stomach in the past week as the really important reason to give money and time, the recovery/relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy, is so much more vital) are through.

What will happen Tuesday? Obama will win. Oh sure, I’m a little concerned and pissed that the state of Florida seems to be pulling some more crap by turning people away from the polls and cutting hours early, but I cannot believe this election is going to come down to Florida. Too many things would have to break right for Romney all at once on Tuesday for him to win this election. He’d have to get Ohio and Florida and Wisconsin and Virginia and that’s just not happening.

The Senate is what concerns me more; I’ll write more about that in Tuesday’s blog.
Right now though, I’m feeling two conflicting emotions: I can’t wait for Tuesday night to get here, because I freaking love the thrill of election nights.

And two, I can’t wait for Tuesday night to be over.

**Some NFL thoughts on a rare day when I didn’t see much football, but caught up through highlights:

— What in the name of Steve Pelluer is going on with Indianapolis? The Colts were supposed to be terrible this year as rookie QB Andrew Luck learned to play the position at the pro level.
Except he threw for 433 yards Sunday in beating the Dolphins, and Indy is now 5-3 and very much a playoff team in the AFC. Crazy to see that both Peyton Manning’s former team AND his current team have the same record. And check out this speech (above) by Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who’s battling leukemia and has been away for the team for a while, but came to the game Sunday and gave this stirring post-game speech.

— Terrible collapse by the Giants Sunday against the Steelers; Eli Manning and the offense apparently fell asleep at halftime and did squat in the fourth quarter. Even though they won, thought it was a terrible idea for Mike Tomlin to run a fake FG down 20-17 in the fourth quarter. Way too big of a risk. But a hell of a win for the Steelers.

— I guess Obama’s doomed; the Redskins lost their last home game before the election, and 17 of the last 18 times, that means the incumbent party in the White House lost the election. Oh well. President Romney it is.

— How good is the Bears defense? Every damn week they score a TD. My best fantasy football move ever was picking them up in week 2.

–Those Seahawks uniforms are by far the ugliest thing in the NFL right now. Except for Mark Sanchez’s quarterback play, of course.

**Not sure how many of you saw Friday night’s Hurricane Sandy benefit concert on NBC, but it was just outstanding. Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera, Sting and others performed in a quiet studio and all sung beautiful, somber songs that really captured the mood of New York right now.

(The one bizarre note of the whole show was Jimmy Fallon, God love ’em, singing lead vocals on “Under the Boardwalk” while Springsteen, Joel and Steven Tyler sang backup. Whose idea was that?

The full one-hour concert (which can be seen here)  raised more than $22 million for the Red Cross. Fantastic job, all involved.