Tag Archives: Plaxico Burress

A thoroughly entertaining “Muppets” movie. The Jets almost kill me again. In a win. And a heartbreaking story about homeless kids

I had every expectation that I would the love new “Muppets” movie. Loved The Muppets as a kid, and had heard nothing but great things about this resurrection of the franchise.
I am so happy to report that “The Muppets” was fantastic. Brilliant. Filled with heart, humor and plenty of interesting story plot points to keep the kids and the adults laughing (in the theatre I was in, it was split about 50/50 kids to adults).
Jason Segel, who basically persuaded Disney to do another “Muppets” movie, is terrific. Amy Adams is great, and the new Muppet, Walter, is a great addition. I got misty-eyed when Kermit sang “The Rainbow Connection,” it’s the truth. Miss Piggy was as charming as ever.
There were also a few ingenious winks at the grown-ups in the crowd (Amy Adams had the best one of these, which I won’t spoil), and a genuine sense that this was a labor of love.

Can’t recommend the movie highly enough. Watching this film was like watching a family you loved getting back together.

**Another week, another Jets game that had me pulling my last remaining hairs out.  This time my boys in green and white did almost everything possible to lose (fumbling punts, throwing interceptions, forgetting to cover receivers) but pulled one out of their rears anyway, 28-24 over Buffalo.

Some quick-hit thoughts from the Jets’ roller-coaster win:
— Say this about Mark Sanchez: Every throw he makes is exciting for someone. Sometimes he throws it to the wrong team, but on just about every strike he hits somebody in the hands.  Sanchez again made some awful decisions Sunday, threw a terrible interception that led to a TD and easily could’ve had two or three more passes picked off. But the kid made two fantastic plays at the end (helped by a great catch by Plaxico) to help the Jets win. As my fellow die-hard friend David texted me after the win, that’s what makes Sanchez so infuriating. He clearly has the talent to be great, but I don’t know if he’ll ever put it together.
— Can anyone on the Jets catch a punt and not fumble? Anyone?
— Jets aren’t going to the playoffs. They’re just not very good. Sunday confirmed all that in spades.
— Forget about his ridiculous and classless and not all that funny end zone dance imitating Plaxico Burress. The reason Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson should be infamous today is because he dropped a wide-open possible TD pass on his team’s final drive. Brutal.

–Speaking of which, my man Bob Costas brilliantly called out these moron NFL celebration artists on “Sunday Night Football” in this scathing two-minute essay. Costas is 100 percent right.
A few more scattered NFL thoughts:
— Boy the Tim Tebow haters have to really be mad today. Another win for Denver’s wonderboy QB.
— Here’s something you don’t see every day: Chargers kicker Nick Novak, a short time before his missed FG at the end of the game that would’ve won it, decided to take a leak on the sideline.
He took a leak, then pissed away his team’s chances (Ba bum bump. I’m here all week. Try the veal.)

**Eight months ago, “60 Minutes” did a wonderful but heartbreaking story about homeless families in Central Florida, and what the true impact of this economic recession has been. Sunday night they caught up with the kids they were following. Things have gotten worse. Watch this and see what this recession has wrought: So many homeless children, with no end in sight.

A huge win for the Jets, Tebow-mania begins, and other NFL thoughts. The play of the year in college FB. And politicians + science = hilarity

I knew they were in there somewhere.

After six games of my New York Jets looking very little like the fabulous 2010 team, the 2011 Jets showed up big-time in the second half of Sunday’s win over San Diego.
Man, my heart could barely take it. But this time the drama was worth it. My boys rallied from 21-10 down to convincingly beat the Chargers, 27-21.
Some quick-hit thoughts on a victory that may vault the Jets into a strong run at the playoffs:
— OK, Plaxico Burress, you’re still an idiot for shooting yourself in the leg three years ago. But you earned your Jets salary Sunday. Three TD catches, each one a thing of beauty.
— Mark Sanchez, you’ve taken a lot of (well-deserved) criticism from Jets fans and media this year. But except for one really poor throw in the first quarter, you played very well Sunday. Excellent touch on the Burress passes, good poise in the pocket, and he ran for a huge first down late in the 4th quarter.
— ‘Bout time the Jets running game showed up. Huge day for Shonn Greene. Again, please.
— Philip Rivers is a terrific quarterback. But why does he always seem to shrink at crunch-time? And how good is Darrelle Revis?
— Such a strong game for the Jets in the tackling dept. Seems like they missed way fewer than they had the last few weeks.
— 4-3 now, with a bye, then Buffalo on the road and New England home. Gotta at least split those. Win them both, and suddenly a division title is back in play…
See how quickly I can get giddy after a big win?

Some other NFL thoughts from Sunday…
I could hear the screaming from my old state of Florida Sunday, as the most popular man in state history, Tim Tebow, won his first NFL start. Who cares that he was awful for the first 56 minutes of the game against Miami? The Bronco signal-caller led his team to an 18-15 overtime win.
Truly readers, unless you’ve lived in Florida, you cannot fathom how huge that man is in the state. God-like status doesn’t even begin to cover it.
— Hey Carson Palmer, great debut! Three interceptions for the Raiders.
— Sixty-two to 7. That was an NFL score Sunday. Saints over Colts. Oy.

**Check out how nuts this final play of the Michigan State-Wisconsin football game was on Saturday night. Game tied at 31, final play of regulation, the Spartans throw a Hail Mary and watch the craziness ensue. Oh yeah, instant replay is a great thing…

**Finally, my best friend Clay sent me this and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s a story from Scientific American magazine, and it details the many, many ways that politicians and celebrities have royally screwed up talking about science over the years.
Seriously, public figures talking out of their you know where should just be quiet and stick to what they know.

My favorite of these wonderful, horrible quotes?

Sally Kern, Oklahoma State Rep. (R), presenting some skewed social statistics:

“Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell of this country.”—March 11, 2008

It ain’t pretty, but I’ll take it: A Jets win. A coach who knows how to have fun. And Kenny Anderson coaching at a Jewish High School? Yep.

All right, so it wasn’t a thing of beauty.
So the New York Jets still have no clue how to start a football game well, and didn’t get much of a running game going, and frustrated me a few times Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.
Still, after three straight losses, I ain’t complaining. The Jets did what they had to do and beat the pathetic Fins, 24-6.
Some quickie thoughts before I go to bed and root for my cough to go away:
— Here’s what the Jets need to do, as once again Monday I had to watch their offense play horrendously until the middle of the 2nd quarter: About 40 minutes before game time, the Jets need to play an intrasquad scrimmage outside the stadium. Yep, get all warmed up and pretending its a real game, and that way once kickoff comes, they’ll think it’s the second quarter and start playing well.
I mean seriously, two years of slow starts call for drastic measures.

— Great job by the Jets O-line Monday. Mark Sanchez had plenty of time to throw. He wasn’t always accurate, but that’s not the line’s fault.
— Sanchez played well, but I’m still worried about him. In his third year, he should be better than this.
— Man, the Dolphins are awful. I mean, maybe the worst I’ve ever seen them.
— The MNF announcing crew is beyond putrid. I mean Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, it seems like they’re watching a different game than everyone else. And they never shut up!
— Darrelle Revis: He’s good. Plaxico Burress? Not so much.
— 3-3 now for my boys, with two huge games coming up, against the Chargers and then Buffalo. Win them both, and the division title may still be within reach.

**I love a coach who knows how to have fun and connect with his students. Marquette basketball coach Buzz Williams is one of the good guys. Friday night at Midnight Madness for college basketball (and God am I happy college hoops season is back; I may get to go to Duke-Michigan State on Nov. 15 at the Garden and my word will I be happy about that), Williams led his student section in “Sweet Caroline.”

All kinds of awesome.

**Kenny Anderson has had about 11 lives as a basketball player/famous person. He was an amazing NYC high school prodigy, then a fantastic college player at Georgia Tech, then a pretty good NBA player. He also made some incredibly stupid decisions and said some incredibly stupid things, the most famous being, during the NBA lockout of 1998, that he needed $20,000 of “hanging around money” to feel good.

Well, Anderson retired a few years ago and, not surprisingly, found that no one wanted him and his baggage to coach them.
So where is he now? Hilariously, he’s the head coach at the Posnack Hebrew Day School in Davie, Fla., a private high school.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of a former NBA star coaching a bunch of 5-foot-7 Jewish kids in Florida cracks me up tremendously.

It sounds like a great reality show: “He’ll teach them the crossover dribble, and they’ll teach him the Torah! Tune in Wednesdays at 8!”

My new hero

lanceallred 

So my heroes used to be Don Mattingly, John McEnroe, Wesley Walker and Mark Messier.

I’d say with the exception of McEnroe, I chose pretty wisely as a kid. I thought Johnny Mac was so cool for the way he blew up at umpires and humiliated them, until I grew up and learned that for all his remarkable talent, he was just a big baby and remarkably immature. I outgrew McEnroe and was sort of ashamed that I used to love him.

But I’ve got a new hero now, and he’s kinda different from any other role model I’ve ever liked.

His name is Lance Allred, and he’s a 6-foot-11, deaf, OCD sufferer who’s a former Fundamentalist Mormon and grew up on polygamous compounds in Montana and Utah. He’s been battling in basketball his whole life, and for three shining games in 2008, finally made the NBA.

He just wrote an astonishingly honest, hilarious, forthcoming and tragic book about his life called “Longshot,” and I finished reading it last night.

To say it’s one of the best sports books I’ve ever read would be an insult, like calling Rembrandt just one of the 17th century’s best painters. Allred’s book is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in my life.

Unlikely, you say? Wait till you hear his story. He was an awkward, gangly child who was seen as a bit of an outcast since his father “only” had one wife. He became deaf immediately after being born but was undiagnosed for years.  He was told by a Sunday School teacher that he couldn’t hear because of sins he’d committed in a previous life (I hope that teacher got fired immediately, but I’m sure he didn’t.)

Eventually, his parents broke away from the compound and moved to Utah, before another family split made them homeless for a short while.

As a kid, Allred struggled to find his place (you know how kind kids can be to children who are different), and he finally did on the basketball court. Of course, that only brought more suffering. A much-beloved coach at the University of Utah named Rick Majerus treated Allred unconscionably while he was there, humiliating and destroying Allred’s confidence and once telling him he “was a disgrace to cripples.” (Majerus was eventually investigated for his behavior, and resigned from Utah shortly after Allred transferred).

Allred became a star at a smaller school, but then found himself battling through the bizarre and highly unpredictable world of minor league basketball in Turkey, France, and the United States (if for no other reason, buy the book to hear Allred’s wickedly funny description of travel life in the NBA Developmental League). 

There were so many times Allred wanted to quit, and so many times coaches and others gave up on him. But he finally made it to the NBA, if only for a few days, and when you get to that point in the book, you almost feel like cheering.

In his beautiful writing style, Allred weaves metaphors about life and basketball together with meditations on religion, the monotony of practice, and too many other topics to count. He refused to blame others for his failures, and is quick to credit others for his success. He’s funny, smart and had me looking at some things in a whole new light.

I got to meet Allred last month at an NBA summer league camp, after having heard about him on this NPR podcast, “Only A Game“. I wrote this column about him for my newspaper, and I was so impressed with his intelligence and humility that I knew I had to read his book. It blew me away.

Lance Allred will not become a major superstar, of  that I’m pretty certain. But he’s why I love sports; proof that beyond the reprehensible reputations of Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress and Barry Bonds there are good guys with amazing stories to tell of will and determination.

I defy you to read this book and not become a fan of Lance Allred. If money’s tight and you’re not able to buy “Longshot,” you can probably find it at your local library.

“I do not care about the money, or the fame,” Allred writes in a letter to God in the book. “I just want to say that I set an “unreachable” goal and I made it.”

He certainly did.