Tag Archives: Dak Prescott

Remembering Steven McDonald, a NYPD legend who just died. Harry Truman’s grandson goes back to Japan, movingly. And Aaron Rodgers cannot be stopped; neither can the Packers

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Friday was a very emotional day in New York City, especially if you’ve lived here for a while or grew up in the city or on Long Island, as I did.

In 1986 a 29-year-old police officer named Steven McDonald, whose wife was pregnant with their son Conor, was shot and paralyzed by a teenage robber in Central Park. McDonald instantly became a tragic hero, not just because he was a quadriplegic, but because a year after the shooting McDonald forgave the shooter.

“I’m sometimes angry at the teen-age boy who shot me,” McDonald’s wife Patti Ann said then, reading a letter Steven had dictated. “But more often I feel sorry for him. I only hope that he can turn his life into helping and not hurting people. I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life.”

McDonald spent the rest of his life preaching peace and forgiveness all over the world. He became an inspiration to millions, and each year appeared on the ice at the penultimate New York Rangers game of the year to give out the “Steven McDonald Courage Award.”

He made public appearances, his son grew up to be an NYPD officer, and he stood for so much that was good, and just, in the world. If Steven McDonald could forgive the man who took away his legs, and his ability to breathe on his own, what right did any of the rest of us have to hold grudges?

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Twelve thousand police officers came to McDonald’s funeral Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

Twelve. Thousand. I was at the Rangers game Friday night and the team made several tributes to McDonald, including a beautiful video honoring him during the game.

At the end of it, Conor and Patti Ann were given a standing ovation,  they embraced and cried after what must have been an incredibly difficult day. The crowd stayed on their feet and chanted Steven McDonald’s name, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one at the rink with goosebumps.

A great man was lost. But he will always, always be remembered.

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**I’ve written here before about my love for the fantastic NPR story-telling series “The Moth,” which I listen to on its podcast regularly.

Actually, check that: What I usually end up doing is let a bunch of stories pile up, then listen to them all at once when I need a lift. Every once in a while I’m gobsmacked by one of these fantastic tales, as I was last week when I heard this phenomenal tale by Clifton Truman Daniel.

Clifton Daniel is the oldest grandson of Harry Truman (I think I actually met Clifton, a distinguished journalist, when I first started working at the Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News in 1997), and as such has had to live his life dealing with his grandfather’s complicated legacy.

On no issue is that legacy more complicated than the President’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. Clifton Daniel has had varying feelings about the historic attack, and in this moving story he tells of how Japanese people in America have approached him to discuss it.

But it’s only when he goes to Japan as an invited guest, to a memorial service about the bombings, that true understanding comes. Listen to this beautiful story, about forgiveness, age-old memories, and how strong people can be. This one really knocked my socks off.

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**Finally today, the NFL playoffs finally gave us some decent games after a dreadful opening weekend.

OK, they gave us three decent games and one great game, starring Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packer quarterback who is pretty freaking unstoppable right now.

The Dallas Cowboys had a terrific season, and their defense has been great, but the Packers and Rodgers just picked ’em apart Sunday. Rodgers just waited, waited, waited and then hit an open receiver time and again. I have no idea how he’ll be stopped, by Atlanta next week or in the Super Bowl.

Green Bay jumped way ahead 21-3, the Cowboys and their fabulous rookie QB Dak Prescott came all the way back to tie the game at 28, then the kickers took over. Mason Crosby of Green Bay nailed a 56-yarder, then a minute later after one of the most clutch catches you’ll ever see (Jared Cook, pictured above) he nailed a 51-yarder.

The game was terrific, Rodgers is raising his “all-time NFL QB” ranking a few notches every week, and I’m just glad the Cowboys got beat.

Couple other NFL playoff notes…

— Oh, Andy Reid. Andy, Andy, Andy. Once again, your team has a great regular season, a playoff bye, a raucous home crowd… and yet once again you come up short. All credit to the Steelers, who have a terrific team peaking at the right time. But boy did the Chiefs lay an egg. From Travis Kelce’s drops to so many stupid penalties to (wait for it) clock and timeout mismanagement from Reid, Kansas City gave this one away.

As I said on Twitter after the game: “It’s stunning to see a favored Andy Reid team lose  in the playoffs.” — said no one, ever.

— I briefly got excited when, while at a birthday party Saturday night at a restaurant, I checked my phone and saw “Pats 14, Texans 13.” But then I realized there’s no way Tom Brady is losing a playoff game to Brock Osweiler. Patriots are going to the Super Bowl.

— Atlanta looked great on offense, but I have no idea how their defense will stop Rodgers next week. We’re looking at a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl and man oh man that will be fun.

The Golden Globes were more blah than usual, but saved by the amazing Meryl Streep. And a dull NFL wild-card weekend hopefully leads to better games next week

 

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

The Golden Globes are usually the best awards show of the season, because they’re unpredictable and fun and have winners who never win the other big awards.

But Sunday night, I don’t know if it was just that the host was bad (sorry Jimmy Fallon, but this isn’t your best role, can’t Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host this show every year? They’re beyond awesome), or that the crop of movies was blah, or I just wasn’t in the mood, but for the first two hours the Golden Globes were boring as all get out.

Then, it was time for Meryl Streep’s lifetime achievement award, and man, did business pick up. Nobody in Hollywood is more admired than the amazing Ms. Streep, for her grace, for her unparalleled talent, and for her kindness toward others.

Viola Davis gave Meryl a wonderful tribute, some clips from her many phenomenal performances were shown, and then the greatest actress of our lifetime spoke.

And she spoke about the man who in less than two weeks will actually be our President.

Surgically, beautifully, she called him out for what he is: A mean, thoughtless, ignorant jerk who conned millions through his use of insults and fear-mongering.

This short speech was phenomenal, and needs to be watched. “When the powerful use their position to bully, we all lose,” she said. Here is a woman speaking from the heart, about what so many have felt. By far the best thing at Sunday night’s ceremony. (If the speech isn’t embedded below, click here to watch it)

Some other highlights and lowlights from the show (as always, most of the fashion comments come from my beautiful and talented wife):

— The best thing on the show besides Streep, I thought, was Kristin Wiig and Steve Carell’s hilarious bit about the first animated movie they’d seen. Such great deadpan and timing!

— Viola Davis was stunningly beautiful in her dress; Emma Stone looked “airbrushed,” and Mandy Moore looked amazing. Nicole Kidman, I believe, will still look gorgeous at age 113.

— “The Americans” stars were robbed once again, but I was thrilled to see Sarah Paulson win for her Marcia Clark portrayal in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” and Tracee Ellis Ross gave a heartfelt and winning speech after her win for “Blackish.”

— Really lame, stupid and borderline offensive of the writers to make lame Sofia Vergara accent jokes (come on, her saying “anal” instead of “annual?” That’s Howard Stern-level humor), and portray Goldie Hawn as a ditzy old lady not able to read a TelePrompter. Just bad.

— Do awards shows really need a DJ? Apparently. Qwestlove didn’t get to do much but he’s always fun.

–Didn’t see “La La Land” and don’t plan to, but “Moonlight” sure as heck looks amazing. And I can’t wait to see “Fences” as soon as I can.

— Seriously, bring back Amy and Tina next year. And every year from now on.

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**Finally today, that was one shitty NFL wild-card weekend, eh? Four games, and not really a great game among ’em. Hell, there wasn’t even a good game among them, although Giants-Packers was at least compelling for 2.5 quarters.

This happens fairly frequently on wild-card weekend; sometimes the matchups just aren’t good. Still, we should have at least two good games next weekend. Couple thoughts on the slop that took place Saturday and Sunday…

— The Dallas Cowboys are the happiest team in the world this morning, since the Giants, the only team that’s beaten Jerry Jones’ boys all year when they were playing all their regulars, are not coming to Texas next weekend to try to beat Dallas a third time. The boys from New Jersey played a miserable game Sunday, although part of that was because Aaron Rodgers played superhuman quarterback for the final three quarters.

I still don’t think the Cowboys are making the Super Bowl with a rookie QB and a rookie running back, but their road got a lot easier with the Giants losing.

— I feel really badly for the Raiders, of all teams. They were having a sensational, dream-like season for 14 games, going 11-3 and looking like a real title threat.

Then their star quarterback, Derek Carr gets hurt, and they don’t win again and they’re forced to play a kid making his first-ever NFL start (Connor Cook) in a road playoff game. No way that goes well.

— I think the chances of Donald Trump coming out of the closet as a gay man on Jan. 20 are greater than the chances of the Houston Texans going into New England next week and beating the Patriots. I’m just sayin.’

— The two “good” games I see next week are the NFC contests: I guess the Steelers could upset Kansas City, but I just don’t think Pittsburgh’s D is all that great this year. But I think the road teams are very frisky next week in the NFC. Seattle looked very solid and have all kinds of playoff experience, and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons certainly have a choking history in the playoffs.

And the Packers, winners of seven in a row, with a QB playing out of his mind, absolutely could steal that game in Dallas. Rodgers is on a different plane right now, just totally locked in.

And really, who doesn’t want to see Jerry Jones unhappy?

The Jets stink less than the Niners, the amazing Lions roll on, and more NFL thoughts. Walter White invades “SNL” and it’s glorious. And why on a personal level I’m thrilled Army finally beat Navy in football again

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OK, I admit it, even with my beloved New York Jets having a miserable season, I’m starting to get sucked back into the NFL.

It’s December, we’ve got crazy-weather games going on now, like in Green Bay, New Jersey and in Miami on Sunday, the division races are heating up, and best of all, we’ve got new teams who haven’t been heard from in a while looking playoff-bound.

I’m looking at you, Tampa Bay Bucs, and you, Detroit Lions (9-4! A 2-game lead in the division!) and you, Miami Dolphins (who I still loathe from my childhood but man, they have been bad for a loooong time.)

Some thoughts from Sunday’s games, when the stretch run really began…

— Hell of a win from the Giants Sunday night. Cowboys had won 11 straight, but the Giants forced star rookie Dak Prescott into some bad interceptions, got a late TD from Odell Beckham Jr., and grabbed the victory. Always twice as bad for me when the Jets are having a miserable season and the Giants are actually good.

— But hey, the Jets won on Sunday, an absolutely meaningless victory and something that hurt their upcoming NFL Draft position. I swear, we were driving home from Long Island around 4:30 and I turn on the Jets-Niners game figuring it’s maybe 3-0, or 7-0, and hear that it’s 14-0 San Fran five minutes into the game. I immediately called my Dad to find out what the hell had happened.

“They’re the worst!” he declared. But alas, they rallied behind Bryce Petty, who probably isn’t going to be a great QB but found a way in the 4th quarter and OT to lead the Jets over a miserable Niners team. The Bryce Petty era, get excited!

— Anybody out there had the Lions having a 2-game division lead with three to play? Didn’t think so.

— Being a Redskins fan must be all kinds of fun. Kirk Cousins gives you heart attacks every week, then does just enough to help you win.

— Finally, not NFL-related but the great CBS announcer Verne Lundquist called his last college football game on Saturday, and he offered this beautiful send-off at the end of the broadcast. He’s a class act and a guy who never took himself too seriously. Thank goodness he’s still going to be doing March Madness; his pipes are so perfect for that event.

**Next up today, taking a break from the Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump theme for a week, “Saturday Night Live” brought out a heavy hitter to talk about the insanity of Trump’s Cabinet picks so far.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new Drug Enforcement Agency czar, a high school science teacher from New Mexico, Mr. Walter White.

“Breaking Bad” fans, Heisenberg is back!

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**So Saturday was the annual Army-Navy football game, something I have recently begun to care about, which I’ll explain in a minute. The Naval Academy had won 14 consecutive games in the rivalry, which is crazy considering usually the teams are even and trade wins every year or two.

It really is an amazing scene, the Army-Navy game; I’ve never been to one but for years watching it on TV it looked awesome.
The reason I have cared more the past few years about the game is because the U.S. Military Academy has been phenomenally involved with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, the charity I’ve talked about a lot on here that my wife and I support big-time and that I do volunteer writing for.

A few years ago the Army football team adopted a young cancer patient named Sean Callahan, and in the spring of 2015 let him play in their spring game. The video below, which I think I ran here once before, always makes me smile (especially Sean’s TD dance at the :50 mark).

Talking to several of the players for a story I wrote on Sean, the love for him in their voices and the appreciation they showed for having the opportunity to serve our country, really moved me.

Army finally beat Navy on Saturday, 21-17, breaking that long losing streak. Sean Callahan died on August 22, 2015. I’d like to think that somewhere in their celebrations on Saturday, a few of the players thought about Sean with a heavy heart.

Go Army.

Kate McKinnon belts out an unforgettable “SNL” opener. The Redskins and Chiefs look like they’re for real, while my Jets continue to stink. And Gregg Popovich speaks some truth

Kate McKinnon is a talented actress and comedian. She may go on to do many incredible things in her career, win awards, make lots of money, and entertain millions.

But I’m 99 percent certain that when she dies, this performance will be a part of her legacy, her eulogy, a mark of her time on Earth.

“Saturday Night Live” had a very tricky job this weekend; they could’ve trotted out Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and mocked the pain millions of Americans were feeling. They could’ve had McKinnon as Hillary try to go for laughs upon losing an un-lose-able election.

Instead, using the death of legendary songwriter Leonard Cohen as inspiration, “SNL” sent out McKinnon dressed as Hillary Clinton, sitting down at a piano all by herself, and belting out an emotional version of “Hallelujah,” with some lyrics changed at the end to suit the situation.

I don’t know about you, but I watched with my jaw on the ground. Amazing, powerful, beautiful performance.

Host Dave Chapelle’s opening monologue was pretty terrific as well, if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, the last three minutes are pretty great.

Bravo, SNL. Pitch-perfect job at giving  your audience what it needed.

Oh, and in case you had forgotten what the next four years could be like, read this.

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**So it’s been a pretty crappy season of NFL football, I think most of us could agree. But Sunday finally gave us a day where we had great finishes, outstanding plays by superstars to win games, and a little bit of separation between the best teams and the not-so-bests. (Yeah I know that’s not really a word. I’m going with it).

Of course I have to mention just briefly the beginning of the Bryce Petty era for my Jets. Umm, yeah, didn’t go so well. They scored six points against a bad Rams team and the Jets are 3-7 so, yeah, go ahead and play Petty the rest of the season please, see if the kid has a future.

In more interesting games…

— Wow, that fourth quarter of Steelers-Cowboys was fantastic. Four lead changes, a hell of a drive by Ben Roethlisberger to put Pittsburgh ahead, and then Dak Prescott, who looks more and more like the next huge NFL star, comes down and leads the ‘Boys to the win. Cowboys are 8-1, and Jerry Jones is happy, and I don’t like it when that happens.

— Ever see the winning points of a game scored on a blocked extra point returned for two points? Me, either. But Denver did it and beat New Orleans. I love how players are totally timing jumping over the center to block kicks now, incredible athleticism.

— Anyone notice Kansas City was 7-2? I sure as heck haven’t. Another impressive win that few will pay attention to. I know everyone in Philly was sick and tired of Andy Reid, but guy seems to always have winning teams.

— Redskins seem to be good again, which is always fun because then I get fewer screaming calls from my buddy Tony that being with, ‘MIKE, THIS TEAM IS KILLING ME!!!” followed by me reminding him for 10 minutes to calm down and it could be worse, khe could be a Jets fan.

— The hell has happened to the Packers? No, seriously, they gave up 47 points to a mediocre Tennessee team on Sunday. That’s un-good.

— My mid-season Super Bowl prediction is Seattle vs. New England. Because even though they’re 8-1, not sure Dallas is a sure thing. Also, I want to see 500 more replays of Seattle throwing at the end of their last Super Bowl against the Patriots, because that was fun.

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**Finally today, check out this amazing photo, taken by Dutch photographer Tomas van der Weijden of the Kamchtaka Peninsula in Russia (you know, our new best friend, Russia!). It’s a volcano, it’s a meteor, it’s pretty amazing. If you’re a photo fan and want to know how he created it, check this out here.

And then, I thought this was some pretty remarkable stuff from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, on last week’s election. Unlike most jocks and coaches, Popovich has always been a thoughtful, intelligent speaker of truths of what he sees around him.

And in this interview, he makes a whole lot of sense, in his angry, thoughtful tones, about what America chose last Tuesday.

A perfect response from a newspaper publisher, as Trump nutjobs threaten her office and employees. “SNL” hits another homer with debate skit. And the Cowboys are for real and the Panthers are toast

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There are so, so many awful things going on now in the Presidential race, a race that gets uglier and uglier by the day. The GOP candidate keeps talking more and more about cheating and rigged elections and whipping up his supporters into such a frenzy, and it’s having such a deleterious effect. The hatred, the vitriol, the sheer “war mentality” that we’re saying every day on the news is just so vile. For a long time I tried to fool myself by saying “This will all go away on Nov. 9, when the schmuck goes back to TV where he can be a harmless buffoon again,” but now I wonder just how long his poison will seep into our society.

One of the things that as an ex-newspaper scribe I’ve paid a lot of attention to is papers that never have endorsed a Democrat, or haven’t for 100 years or something, telling its readers it should vote for Hillary Clinton. Because Trump is just that toxic. What has happened, sadly, is those newspapers have been subject to harassment, death threats, and all kinds of awfulness.

For the most part, the newspapers haven’t gone public with it. But the Arizona Republic’s publisher didn’t want to stay quiet, and she wrote this amazing essay about exactly what has happened since the Republic endorsed Clinton. Mi-Ai Parrish wrote one of the best things I’ve read all year; I urge you to read it.

Quick excerpt: “To those who said we should be shut down, burned down, who said they hoped we would cease to exist under a new presidential administration, I give you Nicole. She is our editor who directs the news staff, independent of our endorsements. After your threats, Nicole put on her press badge and walked with her reporters and photographers into the latest Donald Trump rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz. She stood as Trump encouraged his followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists. Then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair. Nicole knows free speech requires an open debate.

Parrish’s defense of liberty and press freedom is fantastic; she is absolutely right to call out these criminals for what they are. And the last few lines hit home.

Nov. 9 can’t get here soon enough.

**Next up today, every week “Saturday Night Live” has been given incredible material from this Presidential campaign, and you would think it might be hard to keep making up quotes that are funnier or more ridiculous than those surrounding the vulgar, talking yam Mr. Trump.

But gotta give it up to “SNL,” they keep bringing the funny. This was maybe my favorite skit yet, especially the opening “sizing up” by the two candidates, and then Kate McKinnon’s remarks about the four women from Bill Clinton’s past who were present at the debate.

McKinnon’s going to become quite famous the next four years…

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**Finally today, yesterday was one of those joyous Sundays where I didn’t have to watch the New York Jets lose. OK, OK, it’s because they don’t play until tonight. Still, a happy day! Some quickie-thoughts on another NFL Monday where I’m reminded no one knows anything about what will happen in this league…

–OK, this Dak Prescott thing is no longer a fluke, nice little story about a quarterback filling in for a starter and maybe giving the Cowboys a QB controversy. No, after Dallas thrashed Green Bay on the road, 30-16 Sunday to improve to 5-1, there’s no way on Earth Tony Romo should get his job back. Prescott finally threw an interception, but he’s looking like a 10-year vet, and it looks like he’ll be a huge star in this league.

Which means, because he plays for the Cowboys, we’ll all start hating him soon.

— The Cowboys are for real, and the Carolina Panthers are toast. Super Bowl runner-ups are inexplicably horrible this year. I mean, I know a lot of Super Bowl losers have tough seasons the next year, but this bad? The pride of Charlotte gave up 41 points to a bad New Orleans team, and even a late furious rally couldn’t prevent them from going 1-5. Cam Newton looks pedestrian, the defense stinks, and they’re not going to the playoffs this year. Wow.

— Hey, a Colin Kaepernick sighting! On the field, and not just during the national anthem! The 49ers QB who has sparked a whole lot of athlete activism the last two months actually played in a game Sunday. He didn’t play great but wasn’t terrible, either, going 13-of-29 for 187 yards and a touchdown. But he also wore a cool Muhammad Ali T-shirt to his post-game press conference, so I enjoyed that. Let’s hope Kaepernick starts playing well and continues to get his message out.

“I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody,” Kaepernick said. “For the equality that this country says it stands for.”

Exactly. Keep talking, Colin.

— Do the Giants play more crazy games than anybody else, or does it just seem that way? Eli and enormous brat Odell Beckham Jr. pulled another one out of the hat Sunday over the Ravens.

— Finally, very few people care but my man Cody Kessler had another terrific game for the winless Cleveland Browns, throwing for 336 yards in a 28-26 loss. If you want to know why I root so hard for Kessler, check this out.