Tag Archives: Colin Kaepernick

Wrapping up a fabulous and weird U.S. Open, where Stephens and Rafa shone and I peed next to a Hall of Famer. Remembering 9/11 on this day, always. And Week 1 in the NFL, when both NY teams stunk

So much to get to you today, I hope this blog doesn’t go 2,000 words or something. Of course I, like most of you, have loved ones living in Florida in the path of this hellacious Hurricane Irma, and I’ve been worried about them most of the weekend. Thank God so far my friends in Tampa, Miami and Orlando seem to be doing OK. But the videos and photos from the weekend were just awful. The ocean receding in Tampa? Roofs being blown off in Miami? Godspeed to all down there.

Want to write more today about the terror of hurricanes, and about my son’s 3-year-old birthday party Saturday and why it eerily felt like my wedding.

But I’ll get to that Wednesday. Today, I want to start with the U.S. Open, which was wacky, wild and wonderful. So many top players were missing this year (Serena, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka) that you knew some different names would show up in the late rounds. But Sloane Stephens? Kevin Anderson? If you had both of them playing after Labor Day, you were in the distinct minority.

Stephens was once a rising phenom in the tennis world, beating Serena at the Aussie Open three years ago and seemingly destined for the Top 5. And then… not so much. Her dedication to tennis was questioned. Stories about how she just wanted to be famous, and her attitude, were abundant. Then her results suffered, she was injured and didn’t play for nearly a year, from summer 2016 to this summer, and her ranking fell to 957.

And today she is the U.S. Open women’s champion. She was flawless on Saturday in the women’s final, pummeling Madison Keys all over the court, smiling and consoling and acting stunned at the amount of the winner’s check she earned (hey, $3.7 million IS a lot of money.)

I have no idea if this will propel Stephens into being a consistent force at Slams, or if Keys will learn from this experience of being overwhelmed on the big stage after playing so brilliantly in the semis. But I do know that both Stephens and Keys are worthy of praise and admiration today.

— I’ve seen a lot of beautiful displays of sportsmanship after a match is over, because tennis players almost always comport themselves as sportsmen (or women.) But this one, this one I’ll never forget, and will pretty hard to top. Sloane Stephens, the champion, moments after winning a Grand Slam, stands at the net consoling her sobbing good friend, Madison Keys, on the loss. Really sweet moment.

— And on the men’s side, to quote my friend Jon Wertheim, how about on Jan. 1, 2017 I told you Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would combine to win all four Slams this year? You’d have laughed so hard and then recommended a good psychiatrist.
But it happened. Sunday Nadal put on a clinic in the final against Anderson, a 31-year-old South African who’d never gotten this far. As disappointed as I was that Federer and Nadal didn’t finally play in New York this year, in the semis, the Federer fan in me is glad they didn’t. Because Roger was shaky the whole tournament before losing, and Nadal was playing extraordinarily well, I think Rafa would’ve beaten Fed easily.

As it was, Nadal had the easiest road to a Slam, maybe ever, not having to beat even one Top 25 player. But that doesn’t matter; he was on his game and is such a worthy champ.

— So as I’ve mentioned a few times in the past few weeks I was once again fortunate enough to be credentialed as a reporter during the U.S. Open, and it was once again the best gig ever. I wrote 14 stories, for seven different newspapers, covering men’s, women’s and juniors players.
The USTA and tournament organizers make it ridiculously easy for us journalists, giving everything we could want, and you will never ever hear me complain about getting into the U.S. Open for free, receiving a meal per diem that actually goes pretty far, and getting sweet seats on every court (for a few non-marquee matches on Ashe Stadium I actually was sitting ninth row, baseline, where all the fancy people usually sit.

A couple of behind-the-scenes memories from my third straight year covering the Open:

— I peed next to NBA legend David Robinson. Not something that happens every day. I wandered into the closest bathroom near the afore-mentioned sweet Ashe Stadium seats last Tuesday, and a second after I approached the urinal I heard large footsteps, and a very large African-American male peeing to my left. He finished before me (hey, he was a Navy officer, I’m guessing he does everything fast) and as he turned away from the urinal I caught a glimpse of his face. Me and David Robinson, emptying our bladders together. Good times. (No I didn’t ask to shake his hand).

— Definite journalistic highlight was getting to ask Roger Federer a question in his pre-U.S. Open press conference. I really, really don’t get excited about talking to athletes anymore, I’m way too jaded/experienced for that. But this was Roger freaking Federer, maybe my favorite athlete of all time. So it was pretty cool.

— Got to see wheelchair tennis up close for the first time. Truly extraordinary watching what these athletes can do. Except for being allowed two bounces to return the ball, the rules are almost all the same. Watching these players spin and push themselves all around the court was inspiring.

— Finally, when I was 9 years old I watched Boris Becker win Wimbledon at 17 and I went outside my house right after the match and started hitting tennis balls against a brick wall on the side of our house. To say Becker inspired my love of this sport is an understatement.

I saw him several times walking around the Open this year, and spoke to him for 20 seconds about a match we were both watching on a TV monitor. The little kid in me was very excited about that.

**Next up, today is of course September 11, which means we should all stop and take a few minutes to think about the events of that horrible day in 2001. It’s been 16 years now, and it doesn’t seem any more real.

I watch this video (above) and a few others like it every year, and as I type this thousands and thousands of motorcycles are roaring into Manhattan as they do every year for the 9/11 ceremony, and this anniversary will never, ever be forgotten.

Sixteen years. Wow.

**Finally today, because I’ve rambled long enough in this space, I’m going to cover Week 1 of the NFL very very quickly, and briefly. Here goes:

— The Jets stink, as we expected. Fifteen more losses to go, and we get the No. 1 pick in the draft!
— The Giants might stink, which is unexpected.
— The Houston Texans hosting a home game two weeks after the worst storm in the history of the city seems crazy to me. Although this story makes me think maybe it was a necessary distraction for the city.
— Tom Brady lost at home. Always noteworthy and always puts a smile on my face.
— I can’t remember an NFL season where I was less excited for opening day. Lot of possible reasons why, but I was really just not into it.
— There are a lot of shitty, shitty quarterbacks in the NFL. Methinks Colin Kaepernick won’t be unemployed all season.

Advertisements

Good News Friday: Trump slams Kaepernick, QB donates to Meals on Wheels. National Puppy Day is a good excuse to run puppy videos. And NBA players’ secret weapon: Peanut butter and jelly

And a Happy Friday to you all! The March Madness games last night were mostly terrific (though that hideous West Virginia-Gonzaga game practically made my eyes bleed), I’m very impressed with Kansas and Oregon, and I think we’ve got great Elite 8 games coming this weekend.

We start off Good News Friday with that old lightning rod of controversy, Mr. Colin Kaepernick. You can have whatever opinion you want about his decision to kneel during the national anthem last year, but what he did last week was pretty phenomenal, and selfless.

During one of his masturbatory “rallies” that our President seems to need to have every few weeks, Donald Trump bragged about shutting down the free speech of an American citizen. He rambled about a story he read (by Mike Freeman in Bleacher Report) saying that Kaepernick, an NFL free agent, remained unsigned because some NFL owners feared a powerful, negative Tweet from Trump if they signed him.

Ridiculous, of course. Kaepernick is unsigned at the moment because he’s just not very good at playing quarterback in the NFL. Anyway, Kaepernick heard Trump’s taunt and responded beautifully: He donated $50,000 to Meals on Wheels, one of the incredibly vital programs Trump’s merciless budget proposes to cut.

This after Kaepernick also helped a Turkish Airlines plane deliver supplies to a much-needed, and ravaged, area of the world: Somalia.

Kaepernick, in association with a charitable effort known as Love Army for Somalia, has helped convince Turkish Airlines to donate the use of a 60-ton airplane to help ferry necessary food and supplies to war-torn regions in Somalia.

Two beautiful, selfless acts that will help people in need. Good job, Colin.

**Next up, apparently Thursday was National Puppy Day, and I’m here to tell you if you lived in New York City like I do you’d think EVERY day was National Puppy Day, since there are more dogs than people in this fine city. (And let me tell you, no dogs anywhere are pampered like NYC dogs. I’m telling you, some of these pooches have bigger wardrobes than I do.)

Anyway, in honor of this hugely important annual event, I present to you a video of puppies frolicking, because it’s Friday and it’s pretty impossible to watch this video and not smile:

**Finally today, I thought this was such a fun story and a serious story and a well-written story and a brilliantly-executed story. Baxter Holmes, a writer for ESPN, has investigated the biggest trend in the NBA: The incredible rise in popularity of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches among players. From the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett nine years ago starting to eat them before games, to now, where basically every single team has most players eating them, PB&J has completely swept the NBA.

As a connoisseur of peanut butter and jelly for most of my life (I prefer Smucker’s Grape and Skippy creamy, if you must know), I found this story wildly entertaining. Holmes delves into why they’re so popular (instant energy, the nostalgic feeling of comfort food from childhood) and all the different ways NBA teams provide them, at home and on the road.

Really, this is a wonderfully fun story to read, and it made me happy, and gave me some good news, that such a simple snack is so beloved.

My favorite quote is from a team nutritionist, Dr. Cate Shanahan: “The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is absolutely never going to not be in the NBA. And I feel confident saying never.”

** All right fine, here’s another puppy video. Enjoy…

 

An NFL QB stirs up a whole big shitstorm by sitting for the National Anthem. A crazy ping-pong double play in baseball. And a ridiculous and sexist pronouncement by a middle-school teacher

Kaepernick

It’s Monday! But more importantly in my world, it’s the start of the U.S. Open! Apologies in advance if you’re not into tennis, but there’s a pretty big chance there’ll be a lot of tennis on the blog and in my Twitter feed the next two weeks. I’ll be linking a lot of the stuff I’m writing (I’m covering 4 players for various newspapers) here and on Twitter. I’m beyond psyched and beyond lucky to get to watch tennis and make a little $ doing it. Here are two things I wrote last week: First, a look at U.S Top 50 women’s player Madison Brengle for her home state newspaper in Delaware, and then a profile of rising American player Lauren Davis for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

It’s extraordinarily rare that anything that happens in an NFL preseason game is worth talking about.

But Saturday night and all day Sunday social media and the sports world were all up in arms over what a once-famous but now kinda forgotten NFL quarterback did.

During the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers game Saturday, Colin Kaepernick refused to stand like all of the other players and fans. He sat on the bench, in full uniform, in protest of the conditions African-Americans face, and how they’ve been treated by law enforcement.

Kaepernick, who is biracial and was adopted and raised by white parents, spoke after the game about why he did what he did.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

I am one of those people who has been pleading/begging athletes with a huge platform to take stands on social issues, when their voices carry so much more weight than others. So I think what Kaepernick did took guts, courage and a whole lot of backbone.

I 1,000 percent support his right to protest in whatever way he sees possible. Those who scream and yell about supporting America and how disrespectful he’s being absolutely get to be heard. But so does he.

Kaepernick is going to get enormous blowback from this. He’ll probably lose fans (though honestly, he was a rising star a few years ago and his play has fallen off pretty drastically, so I don’t think his locker was all that stuffed with fan mail) and endorsers and the vulgar, talking yam Trump will probably condemn him (heavens no!).

But this is a man who looked at the chaos around him and decided to protest in his own way, following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

Good for Colin Kaepernick. More athletes should take a stand like this. Excellent column on this from Will Leitch of Sports on Earth.

**Next up today, this was kind of cool. The Dayton Dragons minor league baseball team pulled the old “line drive off the pitcher’s back, then off the umpire’s foot, then to the shortstop who steps on second and throws to first” double play.

Happens every day, right?

yogapants

**Finally today, my good friend (and fantastic social worker and family coach) Catherine Pearlman had a pretty shocking experience at her 8th grade daughter’s Back to School Night for parents last week. With her permission, I’m sharing this here (she first shared it on Facebook), because sadly, I have a feeling this gym teacher moron is not alone in this thought.

This is, in short, what the gym teacher (a female teacher, by the way) told parents: Your daughters cannot wear yoga pants or leggings in class, because the boys can’t really control themselves, and could get an erection. And that could be embarrassing for them, and we don’t want that, so your daughters can’t wear yoga pants or leggings.

I mean… I don’t even know where to start. First, I cannot believe this is a school policy (and Catherine learned afterwards that the assistant principal was upset the teacher said this, and spoke to the teacher about it, but the teacher apparently said it again to another group of parents.)

Second, are you freaking kidding me??? We’re going to be so sexist and tilted toward boys that we’re so afraid they won’t be able to control themselves when they see a cute classmate in yoga pants? Let me tell you something, what we wore in gym class (boys and girls both!) at Burr Junior High was a pair of ugly maroon shorts and a gold t-shirt, and there was never a chance in a million years anyone got excited. Gym class is NOT in any way a sexy place, especially in junior high.

And third, really, boys getting a hard-on because a girl looks nice in leggings is something we’re afraid of? You ask any 12 or 13-year-old boy, and they will tell you: They get 14 erections a day. Literally ANYTHING can get a young boy in the midst of puberty an erection.

Just disgraceful. I hope that teacher gets suspended.

A great Saturday in Westchester Co., walking for a great cause and then picking pumpkins with the little guy. Insane finishes all over NFL Week 5. And why I can’t wait for Hillary vs. Bernie tomorrow night

WalkwayoverHudson.FOJ

Had a fabulous weekend slightly upstate, one of those perfect autumn weekends when you realize why James Taylor writes all those songs about fall in the Northeast.

Saturday the Lewis family went to two great events (well, one event and one outing): In the morning we attended the Friends of Jaclyn 3rd Annual Pediatric Brain Tumor Awareness Angel Walk, done over the Walkway over the Hudson pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (pictured above)

I’ve written about my love and support for FOJ before; they’re the grassroots organization that pairs up pediatric brain tumor patients across the U.S. with college sports teams who “adopt” them, and greatly improve their quality of life, and lift their spirits.

I write stories for their website each week and have really come to so respect and appreciate what they do. Saturday’s walk honored those who have passed away from the insidious disease, and there were singers, bagpipers, and hundreds of family members, athletes and coaches there to pay tribute to those who still fight, and those who’ve passed. There was an incredibly beautiful moment at the end, when doves were released to commemorate those who’ve died. (Have you ever actually seen how beautiful a flock of doves are when they fly in formation? It took my breath away.)

After that we took the little guy to his first Harvest Festival, where he got to play with a whole heap o’ pumpkins, go on a hayride (it was a little bouncy for his liking, but still fun) and look at some farm animals from behind some chicken-wire fencing.

He was a little baffled by the whole scene, as to be expected, and some of the pumpkins were bigger than he was. But it was a great time (and cider donuts too!)

Just a terrific fall weekend all-around.

JAYCUTLER

**My weekly quick-hit NFL thoughts on a day the Jets rested, the Eagles finally woke up, and we saw a ton of great finishes:

— The NFL RedZone channel is crack cocaine, and Sunday at 3:30 I stepped up to the pipe, thank you very much. It just so happened that my boy’s nap time coincided with the last half hour of the 1 p.m. games, so I got to see the fantastic Redskins-Falcons finish (oh Kirk Cousins, from hero to zero so quickly), the great Browns comeback win over the Ravens (I know they stink, but once again, the Browns are so fun to watch), a terrific Jay Cutler throw and comeback, and the Bengals thrilling win over Seattle.

All that happened in like a half hour. And it was glorious.

— The Bengals impressed me the most; Cincinnati might really truly be for real this year. Seattle had the game won, on the road, in the fourth. Andy Dalton, I know, no one believes in him because of his playoff failures. But maybe he’s maturing into a winner? Maybe?

— It’s sad watching Brandon Weeden play QB in the NFL. It just is.

— A not-so-bold prediction: The Philadelphia Eagles will win the NFC East. They’re the best of a terrible division, and Sam Bradford will get better every week.

**Finally today, I’ve refrained for the most part at writing about the three-ring circus that is the GOP presidential field, because frankly there’s just so much crazy going on there that I don’t even know where to start, and because I know most people aren’t even paying attention to the 2016 race yet, and because I’m finding the infighting among the crazies (Carson, Trump, Cruz, etc) so hilarious, and because there’s a perfectly electable candidate who’s the only GOP candidate Dems like me are scared of (Marco Rubio) and no one in the Republican primary electorate seems to like him.

But for me, it’s time to start talking politics because tomorrow night we get the first major event of the Democratic season, the first debate. How will Hillary hold up under what I’m sure will be tough questions about emails and other topics from her, umm, colorful past? Can my original pick for this nomination, Martin O’Malley, finally do or say something to get some attention and some traction?

And most importantly, what I’m SO looking forward to seeing, is Bernie Sanders thundering away at Hillary and her sudden shift to the left. He has all kinds of material he can use against her, including her sudden shift against the Trans Pacific trade deal just announced last week, and her sudden interest in racial justice issues, and against big money in politics (she and her husband have been swimming in it for decades.)

It’s ridiculous that there will be only six Democratic debates this cycle (as of now), as Hillary pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the DNC, clearly set this up to give HRC as smooth a path as possible.

So it’s imperative that Bernie seize this moment and really show he’s a legitimate, credible alternative to her.

Get your popcorn ready. CNN, 8:30 p.m. Should be fun.

Thinking about death after a trip to the cemetery. The Giants and 49ers look awesome. And Alan Grayson, stirring it up again against Walmart

In between Thanksgiving meals, Thanksgiving leftovers, having my annual Thanksgiving weekend dinner with old friends and all that, I went to two cemeteries last week.

No one I knew died recently; I just went to visit my grandparents. Hadn’t been to their graves in a long time (they’ve all been dead for at least 10 years), but something made me want to visit.

Cemeteries are a strange, strange place. Very quiet, and very still, and especially when you’re there by yourself, you sometimes feel a little silly standing there talking to a piece of granite for a few minutes.

But I think it’s important to visit people who were once so important in your lives, even if they can’t really hear or see you anymore. So I talked to them, and told them about some of the milestones in my life they’d missed: the college I graduated from, the career I had as a journalist, my marriage that failed and the one that’s upcoming that I’m so excited about.

It felt good, almost like visiting an old friend. I wish Larry Lewis and Ruth Lewis and Don Kouvant were still here, to meet my fiance and one day meet some more grandkids.

I miss them very much, but cherish the time I had with them. As I was leaving, I promised them I’d come back and visit soon.

I hope I remember to honor my word.

**While still trying to swallow the bile from the Jets’ loss last Thursday (you know it’s bad when even Fireman Ed decides to quit, I took in some good football Sunday. My usual Monday ramblings…

— Now that looked like the Super Bowl champs on Sunday night. The Giants got their swagger back, Eli looked like Eli again, and they even looked like they could run the ball a little. I’m sure Giants fans will still find ways to complain about Eli, though; funniest thing I heard in a while was last week on WFAN, a caller started his point with “I’m not a big Eli fan, I know he won two Super Bowls … and the Jets fan-host, Joe Benigno, practically sputtered, “You know, I wish I could ever get to a point with my team where I say I’m not that big a fan of a guy who won me two Super Bowls!”

Don’t worry Joe, it won’t ever happen.

— I think Jim Harbaugh is crazy for yanking Alex Smith in the midst of a terrific winning season, but man, this Colin Kaepernick kid looks pretty good. Never thought I’d say this, but maybe the Jets can get Alex Smith for next year?

— I know a lot of obnoxious Steelers fans, so it was nice seeing Charlie Batch and friends screw up so royally Sunday.
— Only a Norv Turner-coached team can give up a 4th and 29 in the 4th quarter. I love me some Norv.

**If you follow politics fairly closely, you probably remember Alan Grayson. He’s a liberal Democrat from Florida who had a pretty eventful one-term in Congress a few years ago, standing up to Republicans, and the Iraq War, but got himself into a whole heap of trouble when he called his 2010 opponent “Taliban Dan” and ended up losing his seat.

Basically, Grayson is someone I admire for speaking his mind, but he goes a little too far sometimes. On Thanksgiving, though, I loved what Grayson did.

Just elected to the House again from a different district, Grayson spent his Turkey Day at a Florida Walmart, handing out turkey sandwiches and reminding Walmart employees how badly they’re treated by not being allowed to unionize. Most Walmart “associates” make around $10 an hour, by the way.

So Grayson gave each employee a paper bag that had three things in it: A turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, and a letter explaining their right to organize.

Much to my shock (yeah, right), Grayson was thrown out of the building.

OK, it was a stunt, but it certainly was worth a try. And the fact that one of the largest employers in America refuses to let its own employees bargain for rights, and get needed protection, is just one of the many, many reasons I am disgusted by Walmart.