Tag Archives: Carolina Panthers

A mom writes a hilarious late-excuse note, claiming her daughter suffers from “teenage-ism.” “SNL” takes on Trump in season premiere brilliantly. And the Jets stink, the Falcons soar, and other NFL thoughts



A Happy New Year and L’Shana Tova to my fellow members of the tribe this morning…

There are all kinds of reasons parents offer up in excuse notes, explaining why kids are late.

Ninety-nine percent of them are boring and routine. That’s why when we get a letter like this from Nicole Poppic, a California mom to 14-year-old Cara, it goes viral and makes people laugh. Well, I laughed pretty hard.

Seems that on a recent morning young Cara wouldn’t get out of bed, put headphones on while Mom was talking to her in the car, then asked for an excuse note.

Nicole, who like all parents has a limit on how much shit she will take from her kid, responded first with a perfectly reasonable act:

“I reached over and took her phone off her lap, unplugged her headphones, and threw her phone out the car window,” Nicole told Today.com. Then she wrote with this beautiful and cutting missive (above), explaining her daughter was late due to “teenage-ism.”

Some excerpts: Adolescents across our great nation are afflicted (with teenage-ism) and there is no known cure. This morning she suffered from an inability to remove herself from her bed and also felt the need to talk back to her birth-giver.
She seems to be recovering her senses after watching her cell phone fly out the car window.

**Next up, me and millions of others were probably waiting with baited breath to see what “Saturday Night Live” would cook up for Saturday’s season premiere, given all the shenanigans that happened with the Clinton-Trump election race last week. (I mean honestly, there is so much Trump awfulness flying around that I literally can’t keep track. The idea he might not have paid taxes for 18 years seems like a huge deal, but by Wednesday six more things will have taken its place.)

Happily, “SNL didn’t disappoint. Alec Baldwin, a loathsome human being himself but a pretty good actor, did a great Trump impression, and Kate McKinnon of course killed it again as Hillary. This whole opening sketch is brilliant, but my favorite moment is McKinnon’s oh-so-subtle pushing her jaw back in place after one of Trump’s statements…


**Finally today, lots of great sports stuff happened over the weekend (I don’t follow college football much, but that Louisville-Clemson game was wild, and I’m genuinely interested in the baseball playoffs this year because the Mets, Indians, and Cubs are compelling storylines) over the weekend, but before getting into all the NFL stuff like usual, wanted to link the great Vin Scully’s final sign-off after 67 years of Dodgers broadcasts.

— My cousin and fellow Jets-diehard Rob texted me last Sunday to say the Jets season was over already, at 1-2. I scoffed at him, told him he was crazy, nothing’s over after three games.

Yeah, they’ve played four games now. Season’s over. They ain’t making the playoffs. Awful effort at home against Seattle Sunday (if Russell Wilson was that good hurt, what the hell would he have done healthy?), three more Ryan Fitzpatrick picks, and a defensive performance that reeked of the Kotite years. At the Steelers and at the suddenly-struggling Cardinals the next two weeks will probably equal 1-5.

All I can say is: NHL season begins soon!

— Matt Ryan, welcome back to the “Good NFL QB Club!” We’ve missed you buddy. Wow what a performance from the Falcons Sunday. Matty Ice passed for 503 yards (300 to Julio Jones, above) as Atlanta crushed Carolina.

— OK, everyone who had Carolina and Arizona, the two NFC championship game teams last year, both 1-3 after four games, please raise your hands. Didn’t think so. Reason No. 4,532 why I don’t gamble on sports.

— ‘Bout time the Patriots lost without Tom Brady. Congrats to Rex Ryan, you beat a team playing with an injured 3rd-string quarterback. Now Brady will come back and the Pats will go 14-2.

— The L.A. Rams are somehow 3-1. I thought they looked horrible on “Hard Knocks” this summer. Usually it’s the opposite, the fabulous behind-the-scenes show makes a team look great, then they stink in real life. Call it the “Reverse HBO Jinx” this year.

— Finally, Antonio Brown of the Steelers got a 15-yard penalty for, I don’t know, humping the air during a game Sunday night. Meanwhile, I saw at least five shots to the head of players Sunday afternoon that weren’t penalized. Sure, NFL, you’ve got your priorities straight.

Good News Friday: Some more tales from the stay-at-home Dad files. A real NFL hero, the Panthers’ Thomas Davis. And every Billy Joel song ever, ranked.


My son will be five months old on Tuesday, and I swear every day in my mind I ping-pong between “I don’t know where the time has gone” and “Wow, it’s only been five months?”

One of the joys of being a stay-at-home father is that every day, I seem to notice something new about how he’s growing, changing, and making my life so much better.

But you don’t want to hear about the mushy stuff. So here are some of the stranger thoughts and occurrences, as I present my latest installment of “The Daddy Files.”

— So I’m not sure if this is a typical baby thing or not, but it’s uncanny: Every night we put him down smack in the center of his crib, and within seconds my son scoots his way up to the top right corner, and sleeps with his head practically up against the edge of the crib. Whenever I go in and move him back to the center, he still gets back to the top corner within a few minutes.

I mean, is that particular spot the most comfy?

— The single most important item in your home when you have a baby? The Oxy-Clean spray that gets stains out. God, the number of outfits that have been saved by a quick Oxy treatment. Seriously, they could charge 50 bucks a bottle for it and I’d still pay it.

–I truly had no idea poop came in so many colors. Every time I change a diaper it’s like opening a bag of Skittles.

— He giggles now, often uncontrollably. Best sound in the world.

— Is it OK that I, as a perennially and permanently short person, am beyond excited that at his last checkup my son was found to be in the 75th percentile for height? I know, I know, it doesn’t really mean anything yet. But damn, as a 5-foot-5 1/2 inch person, I would so love for my spawn to hit, I don’t know, 5-9?

— People warned me that as a stay-at-home parent I’d be desperate for adult contact during the day. But honestly, between reporting for my freelance writing gigs and the fact that the grandparents are always checking in, it hasn’t been that bad.

— He’s a fantastic night sleeper, going 10-11 hours a night. But he’s not a great napper. Still, that’s a much better problem to have than the other way around, I know.

— I have conquered my previous, all-encompassing fear that I’m going to drop him.
Now I’m always worried that when he rolls over he’ll conk his head into a table and give himself a concussion.

Is that progress for my mental state?

**Next up, I consider myself a pretty big Billy Joel fan, but I’m nowhere near at the level  of Christopher Bonanos, a writer for vulture.com. The other day Bonanos compiled an exhaustive list of all 121 recorded original songs by the Piano Man, and then ranked them.

It’s pretty much guaranteed to annoy most fans like me because he has some of my favorites ranked way too low (“Goodnight Saigon” is only No. 38, but”Say Goodbye to Hollywood” is No. 14? And “She’s Always a Woman” is way too lowly ranked), but it’s also fascinating to read why he rates certain songs higher.

Go ahead and lose yourself in the list for 10 minutes. And No. 1 is an inspired choice.


**Are you as sick of the braggart Seattle Seahawks, the (possibly) cheating New England Patriots, and the squirrelly, morals and facts-challenged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as I am?

This week, with all the fallout from the Super Bowl, the story of a wonderful NFL player got lost in the shuffle a bit. Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers won the league’s Man of the Year award, and man, is this guy deserving.
Let me just tell you about some of the wonderful things Davis does: His hometown of Shellman, Ga., never had a playground when Thomas was a kid. So once he made the NFL, he built one. He sends two needy students from the Carolina area to college every year, on him. He buys Christmas presents for 300 kids who might not otherwise get any, and his Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation established an after-school leadership and mentoring program.

He also throws a lavish Thanksgiving dinner every year for victims of domestic abuse living in a women’s shelter.

In short, Thomas Davis is a wonderful human being, who deserves to be celebrated just as much as the arrogant Marshawn Lynches and Rob Gronkowskis of the world.

“I do things like that because I love to see kids have smiles on their faces,” Davis has said. “As a young kid, I knew my circumstances, I didn’t have the opportunity. I know as a leader of the community, I can give back. I want to be part of the solution.”

“12 Years A Slave” a devastating movie experience. The Carolina Panthers? And other NFL thoughts. And a video for Veterans Day


There’s only been once in my life where I walked out of the movie theater after seeing a flick and said “Man, that was fantastic. But I don’t think I could ever see it again.”

That one movie was “Schindler’s List,” and I’m sure you can imagine why I never wanted to see it again. Too horrifying, too devastating, too just … emotionally draining.

Last Friday, I had that experience for the second time, after seeing the most remarkable film I’ve seen in many a year: “12 Years A Slave.”

Surely you’ve heard about it now, the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free African-American man living in New York in 1841 who was kidnapped and forced into slavery for 12 years, before finally being freed.

It is not a movie for everyone, because some people will find the violence and abuse repugnant. But it’s the most honest and searing portrayal of slavery I’ve ever seen in any form of media (kind of amazing that a British director, Steve McQueen) made it.

Even though you know what will happen to Northrup as the film goes on (and the lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic in showing his different emotions, from anger and disbelief, to resignation), every scene has power. Michael Fassbender is brilliant as Northrup (his name gets changed to Platt early on in the movie)’s slave owner.
The other actors are terrific, too, including Patsy, a young slave Fassbender’s character becomes obsessed with. But it’s the story and the script that are so moving, and so at times difficult to watch. You see the cruelty, yes, but you also see the surprising tenderness, the shocking indifference to that cruelty, and how powerful the human spirit can be.

This is such an important movie, and I hope it stands the test of time as the definitive look at the shameful period in America’s past where half the country thought it was OK to own slaves.

Go see “12 Years A Slave;” it ought to be required viewing for all Americans. And I have a feeling it’s going to win a boatload of Oscars.

**Today is, of course, Veterans Day, a day many of us get off from work and then barely give a second thought. I wanted to put a video symbolizing the day up here, but didn’t want to find a cliche “soldiers in battle” thing. So I thought this was cool: A series called “Heroes Hangouts.” These online discussions bring together veterans, civilians, active duty and military families face to face around the world to discuss everything from P.T.S.D. to fundraisers for veterans causes.

Very cool group.


**Finally, Sunday was the Jets’ bye week, which means it’s my most stress-free Sunday of the fall. The day was even better thanks to Tennessee and San Diego both losing, as (and I can’t believe I’m saying this this season) it helps the Jets with the wild-card race.
As usual, some crazy finishes in the NFL Sunday, including…

— Where the heck did the Carolina Panthers come from? Five straight wins, including a 10-9 slugfest over the 49ers Sunday. Man oh man, that Carolina D is ferocious. They’re a legit threat now, if Cam Newton can make a few plays per game.

— I can’t believe that these Hail Mary plays still work, but thanks to the Baltimore Ravens falling asleep, the Bengals got to send their game to OT with a last-second TD catch by A.J. Green. The Ravens won, but man, after giving up this play, they really didn’t deserve to.
— Watched a lot of the Giants-Raiders game. Terrelle Pryor may be an NFL quarterback one day, but he’s really far away right now.
— I thought for sure the Jaguars would go 0-16, but nope, they actually beat somebody. Good for them; no one deserves to lose every time out.
— It deserves to be said every week: Calvin Johnson is not human. Just an incredible physical specimen. If he and Serena Williams ever had kids, they would move our species forward a few notches, don’t you think?

The Carolina Panthers make a boy’s dream come true. An uplifting story of a man wrongly imprisoned for 27 years. And the nature photos of the year

Happy Friday everyone. I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories, as you know, so when I heard about what the Carolina Panthers did for an 8-year-old boy named Jack Bolton, I just about melted.

Bolton lives in North Carolina and is a huge Panthers fan. He also suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, an awful genetic disease that attacks muscles in the spinal cord. He’s had the disease from birth and has never walked or crawled.

Jack’s wish was to coach the Panthers, so for one day last week, the team was his.
The whole 5-minute video is great, but my favorite parts are when Coach Ron Rivera reads Jack’s speech to the team, and when QB Cam Newton asks for his autograph.

“He’s been coaching his classmates at recess for several years and thought he was pretty good at it,” Holly Bolton, Jack’s mother, said.

“He doesn’t smile pretty much at all. And I’m trying to think of when I’ve seen him smile that big, and it’s never been that big ever,” Eleanor, Jack’s sister, said.

So good to see teams do stuff like this.

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(Another great football story today? Brian Banks, the linebacker who 10 years ago was falsely accused of rape by a school classmate and spent five years in prison, took the field for the Atlanta Falcons in a preseason game. He finally made the NFL. What a great scene.)

**Next up, a story that doesn’t have a happy beginning or middle, but has a pretty incredible ending. A very talented sportswriter named Brandon Sneed (full disclosure: he’s an “e-migo” of mine; we’ve exchanged emails from time to time) has written the remarkable tale of Billy Dillon, a one-time baseball prospect from Florida who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he had nothing to do with.

Sneed did a ton of reporting on this story, and the twists and turns had me dropping my jaw. What makes this a “good news” story, I think, is Dillon’s transformation while in prison, and his complete lack of anger toward his plight now. He seems incredibly well-adjusted in his new life, but man, what happened to him was just outright disgusting.

It’s a long story, but well worth your time. Truly an absorbing tale.

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**Finally, a few beautiful photos to send you into the weekend. National Geographic Traveler magazine has announced the winners of its photo contest.

This picture above didn’t win, but I thought it was the most striking. Check out all the honorees here, to see some breathtaking beauty.

One of the funniest typos I’ve ever seen. An NFL player’s awesome vote of confidence. And which is better roadkill, turtles or snakes?

As I’ve said here a bunch of times, I love typos. They crack me up constantly, partly because I’m an old newspaper editor who’s allowed some cringe-worthy mistakes into the paper from time to time (hey, we all have war stories), and also because they’re damn funny.
Well, this one from Amazon.com is one of my all-time favorites. In an ad for the Sonic Care teeth-cleaning system, the copy was supposed to read “Sonic Care Healthywhite Power Toothbrush.”
Instead, the ad read “Sonic Care Healthy White Power Toothbrush.”

I love it. It cleans your gums, and re-affirms your desire to wipe out all non-Caucasians at the same time!

**Next up today we have my new favorite Carolina Panther, Ryan Kalil, and a wonderful gesture he just made. Now, I don’t know Ryan Kalil from Ryan Seacrest; he’s on offensive lineman for a Carolina team that might be decent this year.

But Ryan doesn’t want to let the Panthers’ play do the talking yet; he took out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer the other day, and it’s a beautiful thing.
If I were a Panthers fan, I’d totally go out and buy tickets after reading this (below).

**Finally, I have no idea why this man, Mark Rober, decided to do this experiment. But I was fascinated by it. He decided to put rubber snakes, and rubber turtles, on the road to see which ones drivers would swerve to avoid more.
94 percent of people, he found, just kept driving over ’em. I love America.