Tag Archives: Tom Brady

The latest Democratic Debate was fantastic for all. Another dramatic weekend of NFL football, and I’m conflicted. And great news out of Iran, as a reporter is freed

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Whew. That was one crackling, energetic, informative and substantive Democratic debate Sunday night.

If you didn’t watch, you missed a doozy. I know it was on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend, but hey, this is sadly as close to a big audience as the DNC is going to allow the primary candidates this year, and all three of them put on a hell of a debate. (here’s a 2-minute video recap)

Quick thoughts on the 2-hour affair:

— Bernie Sanders was outstanding on the economy. He had his best debate yet (yes I’m biased as a supporter of his), being forceful, shouting less and pointedly telling voters the differences between he and Hillary Clinton. He dominated on the economy, and scored morality points by refusing to talk about Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct. He did nothing to hurt his recent rise in the polls.

— Hillary was very strong as well. She dominated on foreign policy; she wipes the floor with any candidate in either party on that one. She tried hard to paint Sanders as a position-shifter on guns and was effective in trying to say his health care plans are unrealistic. She attacked Bernie as strong as she ever has, and yet… she was still unable to explain how she’d be tough on Wall Street, when she’s taken so much of their money.

— Martin O’Malley had about two minutes to speak the whole night. Poor guy was railroaded but I thought he had some great answers, critiquing Hillary on her Wall Street ties, and on drug treatment.

— Bottom line for me: If Democratic primary voters think this election is about the economy, Bernie has a great chance to score the big upset. If it’s about terrorism or foreign policy, Hillary wins as expected.

— It’s ridiculous we’ve had only four Democratic debates, and no more before Iowa. Ridiculous.

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**Next up, another dramatic weekend of NFL football, setting up a fantastic Championship Weekend next Sunday. Patriots at Broncos, with Brady and Manning facing off probably for the last time in a big game like this. And then Carolina hosting Arizona, the two best teams in the league all year going head to head. Fantastic stuff.

Couple thoughts from the weekend, and then one big thought that gave me a lot of pause, that I’ll hopefully expand on more in another post.

— That was an incredible comeback by Seattle Sunday, down 31-0 and roaring back to only lose 31-24.

— But then again, you have to also fault Seattle for getting totally destroyed in the first half. Where the hell was the defense?

— The Arizona-Green Bay game was just nuts. Nuts. Arizona finally takes the lead late, gives up a 4th and 20 to Aaron Rodgers to keep the game, alive, then this ridiculous Hail Mary (the 2nd of the year for Rodgers!) that tied it and sent it to overtime.

Then in the extra period, the Cards’ Larry Fitzgerald makes that incredible catch and run, and Arizona wins.
After the game, I went on Twitter and as usual after a big sporting event, people were losing their minds with excitement. I got caught up in it and Tweeted something to the effect of “no matter how many CTE lawsuits and concussions happen, football will survive because of awesome games like this.”

Well, my good friend and former boss Dave saw that and we got into a terrific text exchange. Dave likes to call me on things I say and write, which is good, because we all need to be checked sometimes.

His solid point Saturday night, which I am trying to square my heart with, is that he can’t really get excited about football anymore knowing the longterm damage it does to so many brains, and bodies. And he wondered how I could justify still obsessively following the NFL when I know the horrible pain it causes.

He said “I don’t think, as a society, we should simply excuse the real effects as the price of a great game.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot for the past 24 hours. I don’t have a good response. It bothers me that I read and write about the horrors of what football does to a person, and yet scream and yell on Sundays and can’t wait for next week’s title games.

Definitely something I need to think more about. And maybe change my behavior.

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**Finally today, it’s not often there’s any kind of good news out of Iran, but Saturday we finally got some in the “case” against Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Rezaian, an Iranian-American, had been detained for more than a year on ridiculous and nonsense “spying” charges after he was reporting for the Post in Tehran.

The Iranian courts had arrested him, did God knows what to him in the notorious Evin Prison, and allegedly sentenced him to death just a few months ago.

Finally on Saturday, after months and months of negotiations, the U.S. and Iran struck a deal to release Rezaian in exchange for other Iranians held in America also being released.

It was a prisoner swap, and no one’s ready to back-slap Iran for doing a wonderful deed. But Rezaian is by all accounts a first-rate reporter who did absolutely nothing wrong, yet was imprisoned for 545 days.

Thank God he’s free.

 

The Jets with a stunning, thrilling win over the Patriots, as Belichick makes a rare stupid decision. “Master of None” a superb new Netflix show. And the rapist who made sure his victim got home safely.

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Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. It’s been several hours since the New York Jets pulled off an always-satisfying, and always-rare, win over the Patriots Sunday.

And I’m still jazzed. Damn, that feels good. I’ve said before that a victory over New England, since it’s so uncommon, feels like two wins instead of one. And this one certainly does.

Where to start? Well, for once Bill Belichick didn’t come off as such a genius. Coach Hoodie seemed to make major blunders throughout the game, starting with the end of the first half when he inexplicably decided not to try to score more points, with 1:50 left, 2 timeouts, and his team trailing by 7.

But Billy boy saved his best brain work for OT, when after winning the coin toss, he told his captain to say the Pats wanted to kick off. This meant, if the Jets scored a TD, New England wouldn’t get the ball at all and the game would be over.
Which is exactly what happened.
Because Ryan Fitzpatrick, God bless his journeyman soul, led the Jets downfield for a beautiful TD. I don’t know what the hell has gotten into Fitz this year, but this isn’t the QB I watched so many years in Buffalo and Houston. This guy is calm, poised, and after a shaky start, played a terrific game Sunday.

And Brandon Marshall… you complete me. I never saw Don Maynard because I wasn’t born yet, but Marshall’s the best Jets receiver of my lifetime. At least he’s having the best season of any Jets receiver of my life. He’s been so clutch, and so huge, in so many games.

The Jets defense also was fantastic, though to be fair, I think the Patriots were down to the kids from “Lucas” on the offensive line and at wideout by the end. Brady is just so fricken good, he almost pulled out a win anyway.

Ah, so much fun to beat the Pats. Now the Jets have set me up for the ultimate heartbreak: Having to beat Rex Ryan and Buffalo next week to get in. Bills, nothing to play for, Rex desperately wanting to beat his old team, Jets in a great spot… what could possibly go wrong?

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**Next up, I’ve been reading and hearing over the last few weeks about how fantastic Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix comedy, “Master of None” was. I’ve seen it on a bunch of “Top 10 shows of the year” lists, my favorite TV critic Alan Sepinwall had raved about it, and word of mouth about it was great.

Still, I wasn’t a big fan of Ansari or “Parks and Rec,” his last show, so I didn’t immediately watch.

Big mistake. The wife and I have been binge-watching it this weekend and it’s absolutely terrific. We’ve seen eight episodes (of 10) and it’s getting better and better.

The show, ostensibly, is just about a single man (Ansari) in his 30’s, working as an actor, hanging out with his friends, and having adventures both in dating and professionally. But it’s much more than that.

The writing is sharp and real; the chemistry among the actors (none of whom besides Ansari are famous) is terrific, and the stories told are fascinating.

One episode has Ansari’s character, Dev, vying with another Indian actor for a role in a TV show, since “you’re only allowed one Indian per show.” Another hilarious episode has Dev and his Asian friend Kevin trying to repay their parents for giving them a great new life in America by learning about their journeys.
And maybe the best storyline so far involves Claire Danes and Noah Emmerich in guest-starring roles, playing comedy so well.

It’s the rare show that treats its audience as intelligent adults; the relationships seem real, the dialogue is really funny, and it’s just a great, great show.

Can’t wait to watch the last two episodes; this is definitely a show you should check out.

**Finally today, I’m a few weeks late on this but just got around to reading it this weekend, and it’s brave and powerful and fabulous so I wanted to share it. Alisson Wood wrote this in the New York Times Week in Review a few weeks ago, about the time she was a college student, working as a waitress in a diner, and was raped by her boss, a manager at the restaurant.

The headline “Get home safe,” my rapist said” doesn’t grab you, nothing will. After committing his sexual assault in his office, Alisson’s boss helped her into her car, then followed her home.

It took years for her to come to terms with what happened, and her essay brings forth all her emotions. It’s difficult, important writing, and it’s done very well.

Rapists come in all shapes, sizes and demeanors; the stereotypes are often very wrong.

It’s a terrific essay and I highly urge you to read it.

A movie I’ve seen WAY too many times: Brady slays my Jets. How many tragedies can Oklahoma St. endure? And a beautiful profile of master NPR interviewer Terry Gross

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There are some movies I love to watch over and over again.

I can’t view “The Princess Bride,” or “Coming to America” enough, and if “The Shawshank Redemption” or “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” are on, I’m stopping to watch for at least 10 minutes.

And then there’s the movie I can’t stop watching, even though I really want to. It’s a movie I’ve seen so many damn times before, and it stars a pretty-boy quarterback who wears No. 12 for the New England Patriots football team, and in this movie that runs on a loop twice a year in the fall, the quarterback slices and dices the defense of my beloved New York Jets.

Oh, sometimes the script changes a little bit, sometimes the green and white get closer to beating the Pats; sometimes it hurts more than it does others.

But the ending Does. Not. Change.

I watched it again Sunday, and once again I got suckered in, thinking maybe this was a director’s cut or some new spliced footage coming in. My boys played a strong first three quarters: Ryan Fitzpatrick looked real good at QB, the defense bent but didn’t break, and even without the customary strong running game, the Jets were in every position to win.

The Pats were dropping passes, settling for field goals, and as soon as the Jets’ Brandon Marshall hauls in that pass to put the Jets up 24-16… only he drops it. And of course the Jets kick only a field goal, and of course Brady marches New England down the field for the go-ahead touchdown, and you know the rest.

Every damn year. So frustrating, because this Jets team is good enough to beat the Pats. But it never changes. The movie reel never runs out before the bad guys win.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Forty years old and I’m still yelling at my TV over a stupid football game.

One day Brady will retire, and the movie might change. Maybe.

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**Usually, interviewers dream about, or are desperate to interview one or two famous people they’ve never gotten to talk to.

In the case of NPR’s queen of awesome, Terry Gross, it’s celebrities who fantasize about being interviewed by her on her iconic NPR afternoon radio show, “Fresh Air.”

Seriously, listen to some of these quotes from this fantastic profile of her in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine…

‘My No. 1 fantasy of all time is to be interviewed by Terry Gross.’’

‘‘I have gone so far as to rehearse answers to specific questions. … ’’

‘‘Every single time I hear a Terry Gross interview, I wonder what it would be like for her to do some research on me and do an interview.’’

Terry Gross has hosted “Fresh Air” for my entire lifetime (since 1975) and she’s quite simply the best interviewer on the radio, TV or anywhere else. This profile by Susan Burton really goes into who Gross is, how she gets inside her subject’s heads so, and what makes her tick. When I listen to her, I often find myself saying “that’s a great question, I wonder if I would’ve thought to ask that.”

She’s a maestro, and this profile is well worth your time today.

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**And finally today, you may have heard about the awful tragedy that happened Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla. when a car driven by a drunk driver plowed into a parade celebrating Homecoming at Oklahoma State University, killing four people and causing dozens of ther injuries.

It immediately made me think: Is this poor school cursed? This is the third major tragedy the school has suffered in the past 14 years, all tied to the athletic program.

In 2001, a plane crash carrying men’s basketball team personnel and broadcasters crashed in a snowstorm, killing 10 people.
Ten years later, in Nov. 2011, women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were among four killed in a plane crash in Perry County, Ark., while they were on a recruiting trip.

And now this. It’s unfathomable, and awful, and no school deserves to continually go through this. It’s amazing that three tragedies like this have happened to the same place; I can’t imagine one small community having to go through all this.

Spare a thought for the people in Stillwater today, as old wounds just get dredged up again.

A fabulous video on if we treated the arts like sports. A Michigan law disgustingly discriminates against gay adoption. And a father turns funny kids sayings into art

Thoughts on a Monday morning while pondering why God hates Cleveland, how if Kyrie Irving were healthy the Cavs would’ve been planning a parade in Ohio right now, and knowing damn well that no matter who wins this NBA Finals series, LeBron should be Finals MVP…

It’s obvious to millions of people in this country, even to sports diehards like me, that we put way too much emphasis on athletics in America.

And that of course extends to the media, which covers people like Alex Rodriguez, LeBron James and Tom Brady as if they were the most important humans who ever walked the face of the Earth (“what, they can hit a ball far over a fence or throw it 50 yards? Of course they should be treated like kings!”)

However, since it’s not like sports are suddenly going to be de-emphasized, in place of say, the arts, it’s up to comedians like Owen Weber to produce brilliant parodies like this (above), sent to me by my smart and funny friend Will. It’s a “Sportscenter”-like take on how shows about the arts would look if they were given the same God-like status in our culture as sports.

My favorite part? “The stage-presence-enhancing drugs.” Brilliant.

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**Next up, it’s fairly depressing for liberals like me to look around at the enormous majority of Republicans running statehouses and state legislatures these days, and the draconian laws they’re passing.

Truly, I could write a post a day, seven days a week, for months just on the anti-choice, discriminatory bills against gays, minorities, and any other group that isn’t a while male that gets passed, usually under the radar. Sure, the GOP-led Congress is doing nothing, but truly insidious laws are being passed in places like Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.

Today, though, I want to focus on Michigan, and a remarkably shameful piece of legislation just passed.

From the Detroit Free Press: “On Wednesday, Republican majorities in both chambers approved a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies — including those who take taxpayer dollars to place children who are in the state’s custody — to discriminate in the practice of their work. They can deny services to families that violate the agency’s religious beliefs, including unmarried couples, same-sex couples and those who hold different religious beliefs.

The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care — entirely out of the equation.”

So once again, just like in Indiana last spring, the Michigan legislature has legalized discrimination, telling anyone, like an adoption agency, that they don’t have to let gay couples adopt.

This is disgusting, and as has been discussed before, oh so stupid; committed gay couples are just as likely, if not more likely (thanks to the fact that it’s infinitely more difficult for them to adopt) to be good parents for those kids who need homes.

I really think that, 25 years from now, this idiotic thinking is going to look so bizarre to people, that simply because of a couple’s sexual preference, they weren’t allowed to be parents.

And hiding behind “religious reasons” is just oh so cowardly.

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**Finally today, my friend Amanda pointed me to this pretty hilarious post on the ScaryMommy.com blog, highlighting the work of Martin Bruckner. He’s a Dad who runs a Tumblr called “Spaghetti Toes” (the name comes from overhearing his wife say to his daughter, “Please don’t put spaghetti between your toes” at the dinner table,” something I’m sure I’ll say at some point in the next year or two to our son), and what he does is take utterances by parents to little kids, or vice versa, and makes art out of them.

The one above might be my favorite, but I love this one too:

Scarymommy.tiredandoutofgasCheck out more at Bruckner’s Etsy.com site here.

 

A damn entertaining Super Bowl, with some great commercials to boot. And Serena and Djokovic rule again at Australian Open

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Never in Super Bowl history have so many jaws hit the floor at the exact same time as they did a little after 10 p.m. Sunday night, in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.

You don’t have to ask what I’m talking about. From sea to shining sea, all 110 million football fans watched the Seattle Seahawks just GIVE away a championship to the New England Patriots in the final seconds of Super Bowl 49.

At the 1-yard-line, with :30 left, with the BEST SHORT-YARDAGE BACK in the NFL on your team (Marshawn Lynch), with a touchdown winning the game, the Seahawks decided to throw the ball.

I had to watch it four times to actually believe what they did. But it happened. And Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted, and the Patriots won, and oh my God that was one sensational football game.

And it’s too bad that so many great moments from the game will be forgotten because of the worst play-call in Super Bowl history. The incredible Jermaine Kearse catch to get Seattle down there in the final minute (and if that had led to a Seahawks win, on yet another fluke/crazy catch in a Super Bowl, the entire New England region would’ve been on suicide watch, I think).

Tom Brady, cool as Fonzie, bringing his team back from 10 down. The great games by guys you never heard of, like Seattle’s Chris Matthews and New England’s Malcolm Butler.

One of the five best Super Bowls of my lifetime, with an ending that’ll never be forgotten.
It pains me, really, really pains me to type this.  But congratulations to the legends, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. To win four Super Bowls in 14 years is insanely difficult, and worthy of much praise.

Some other Super Bowl thoughts from my scattered brain…

— Idina Menzel sang the hell out of the anthem. God, what a voice.

— Loved the cool new NBC overhead camera angle they showed us at times; really let you see the whole field.

— Real classy, Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks, pretending to poop out the ball after scoring a TD (NBC cut away from this delightful act, but it’s all over the Internet if you haven’t seen it.) Your whole life, you wait to score in the Super Bowl, and that’s what you do?

**Loved a bunch of the Super Bowl commercials, including the Dove for Men ad (yes, of course me being a new father had a little to do with that), the Budweiser Lost Puppy ad, and this Snickers “Brady Bunch” ad was hilarious:

I also loved the Dodge commercial featuring the 100-year-old people giving pearls of wisdom. And I thought the Nissan commercial with the race-car driver and Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” was good too, though as many pointed out on Twitter, Chapin died in a car accident so maybe not the best idea to have his song there, Nissan?

**On the other hand, that Nationwide commercial? Way too dark. Scared the hell out of me. Yes, let’s talk about kids dying from being unsafe on the Super Bowl.

— Didn’t watch much of the halftime show, since Katy Perry doesn’t do it for me. But seeing dolphin mascots dance alongside her was … interesting.

— It’s unconscionable that the Pats’ Julian Edelman wasn’t checked for a concussion after that severe hit he took in the fourth. It’s all about the safety of the players, right Roger Goodell?

— No more football for awhile. Boo.

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**Finally today, I want to say a few words about Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, who just completed dominating performances in winning the Australian Open, once again.

Serena, who it’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog I have long loathed for her poor sportsmanship and arrogance on and off the court, was once again her dominant self. She now has 19 Grand Slam singles titles, rapidly closing the gap on Margaret Court’s total of 24 (and let’s be clear, it’s MUCH harder to win Slams these days, because the field is so much tougher than it was in Court’s day.)

She’s inching up the ladder toward being considered by most tennis experts as the greatest of all time. I still have her behind Steffi Graf and Martina, but it’s damn close. Serena is an incredible athlete, an unmatched competitor with a killer instinct like few others.

And Novak Djokovic? Well, he just about owns the Australian Open now, winning it for the fifth time. His defense, his shot-making, his mental toughness, just so impressive. Andy Murray had plenty of chances to win Sunday, and he played great at times.

But Djokovic was fitter, stronger, and better. He’s not in Rafa or Roger Federer’s category yet when it comes to all-time greats, but shoot, he’s getting closer.

Great Australian Open.

The best and funniest newspaper corrections of the year. Stephen Colbert goes out with a bang. And Rex Ryan loses one more soul-crusher to Belichick

 

It is of course the time of year when we are all inundated with lists, best-ofs, and other reminders that the 12 months we just lived are about to end, and a new year will start.

But if you read this column regularly you know that only one year-end list really matters to me, and really makes me happy: Craig Silverman of the Poynter Institute’s “Regret the Error” column, rounding up the best, worst and most hilarious newspaper or magazine corrections of the year.

I cringe when I read some of these, because as a longtime journalist I can see exactly how some of them could’ve happened (hey, at my first job in Wilmington, N.C. I once ran a photo with an obit of a guy he died. Except it was the wrong picture; dude whose mug we ran was very much alive, and called the next day to express his displeasure about being prematurely killed. Hey, no one’s perfect!)

Anyway, these are always great and worth your time. Some of my favorites from this year’s collection (the whole column can be read here):

From the Washington Post:  An earlier version of this story erroneously said that Joaquín Guzmán was found in bed with his secretary. He was found with his wife. This version has been corrected.

From SlateThis post originally quoted photographer Tom Sanders as saying it takes him five years to get on the dance floor. It takes him five beers.

From The DartmouthA front-page editorial published Oct. 17 calling for the abolition of the Greek system at Dartmouth stated that in the late 1980s, Alpha Delta fraternity pledges were forced to perform oral sex on an ejaculating dildo. The editorial should have stated that some pledges were required to simulate oral sex on an inanimate object, which the house’s advisor now says may have been a banana.

Glad they got that cleared up.

**Next up, the great Stephen Colbert ended his groundbreaking “Colbert Report” last Thursday night, and it was beautiful. For the final segment, he gathered a whole bunch of famous people in his studio, including Jeff Bridges, Barry Manilow, Katie Couric, Bryan Cranston and Willie Nelson, for a rousing chorus of “We’ll Meet Again.” Seriously, he had every famous person alive (EW.com has the full list of everyone on stage here; it’s dizzying.)

I thought this was great. Colbert takes over for Letterman next spring, and we all know he’ll do a great job, but the “Report” brought the funny each and every night.
It’ll be missed.

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**Finally today, some thoughts from the gridiron, as the NFL season winds down and we get set for what looks like it’ll be a wide, wide-open playoffs:

— So because I’m a masochist, I watched most of the Jets-Patriots game, even though I knew exactly how it would end. It’s like a movie you’ve seen 50 times so you know the ending, but you just can’t stop watching, anyway.

Jets defense played great, confusing Tom Brady. Jets offense played well between the 20’s, only to completely stall inside the red zone. And just when the game’s close, just when Gang Green might pull it out, Brady embarks on a clock-killing drive that ends the game.
Happens so damn often. At least the Jets made ’em sweat a little, and didn’t worsen their draft position. But I hate, hate, hate losing to Belichick and Brady. 17-16 was the final, so damn close.

— Who’s excited for that divisional showdown with a playoff spot on the line next week, the 6-8-1 Carolina Panthers vs. the 6-9 Atlanta Falcons! Anyone? Anyone? What a joke that one of those losing teams will get to host a playoff game.

— Couple games to get legit excited about next week: Bengals-Steelers for all the marbles in the AFC North, and Lions at Packers for all the marbles in the NFC North. Nothing better than football in Green Bay in late December.

— Mark Sanchez, you made me all nostalgic Saturday night. Throwing a couple of key interceptions, helping cost your team a playoff berth… man, it’s like it’s 2011 all over again. (Wipes tears away with Kleenex.)

— Arizona, you ain’t going nowhere with Ryan Lindley. Watched some of that game Sunday night and I’m sorry, there’s a reason he’s third-string.

— Finally, the Buffalo Bills. Oh, the Buffalo Bills. Huge win last week, giving their fans hope for the playoffs. Then Sunday, they lose to … the awful Oakland Raiders? Really Buffalo? Been 15 years now since they made the playoffs. Those fans deserve better.

A fantastic profile of the great Billy Joel, tortured genius. A girl with an inoperable brain tumor has an amazing day of hoops. And I hold my nose and praise the incredible Tom Brady

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**Nothing to see up above, just Nik Wallenda walking blindfolded on a high wire, without a net, above the city of Chicago Sunday night. Insane.

I’ve really fallen down on the job lately in this space when it comes to recommending/highlighting great stories I’m reading. There’s so much out there that’s so well-written that I try to point readers toward, but the truth is I do a much better job of hyping great stories on my Twitter feed than I do here.

But I’m trying to rectify that this week with two posts about amazing journalism I’ve read lately. The first is this exquisitely-researched and composed profile of Billy Joel by Nick Paumgarten in the The New Yorker. If you’re a kid who grew up on Long Island in the 1970s and ’80s like I did, Billy Joel pretty much was the soundtrack of your childhood.
Even if you weren’t a fan, his music was everywhere, on every station, seemingly all the time.

I’ve always been a big admirer of his music, have a ton of his albums, and know all the lyrics to many of his songs (not that you asked, but my three favorite songs of his are “She’s Always A Woman,” “Goodnight Saigon,” and, “The Angry Young Man.”)

But Joel has always had off-stage troubles, from legal problems to drinking problems to women problems. He comes off as a hard guy to work with and to like, but Paumgarten does such a thorough, fantastic job in this story, and given so much access by Joel, that the reader is sort of forced to admire all that Joel has accomplished. And at 65, he’s still going strong, making $25 million for just a dozen concerts at Madison Square Garden in 2014.
A really terrific story; I know it’s long, but read it a little bit at a time when you can, it’s so well worth it.

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**I’ve been following this Lauren Hill story for several weeks, and almost wrote about it a bunch of times. But each time I stopped, because I wanted to wait until it had at least a sliver of a happy ending, which it did Sunday.

Lauren Hill is a 19-year-old college freshman from Ohio. She was supposed to be a varsity starter for tiny Division III Mt. St. Joseph’s (OH) College this year, but as a high school senior she received some devastating news from her doctor: Lauren was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, which is a rare tumor that destroys brain cells and squeezes off vital functions.
It is inoperable, there is no known cure, and doctors told Hill this summer that she likely only had months to live.

Lauren still wanted to live out her dream of playing one college basketball game, and Mt. St. Joseph’s desperately wanted that for her, too.

And so the NCAA agreed to let MSJ move one of its early-season games up to Sunday, so Hill could play. A tsunami of love and support poured over her from everywhere in the world, with famous pro athletes, fans from as far away as Japan, and so many thousands of people in Cincinnati who bought tickets to the game.

Finally the game came on Sunday, and off the opening tap, Lauren Hill sank a layup. And the biggest cheer she ever heard erupted from the crowd. They gave her a standing ovation, and chanted her name, and … here, just watch. If you don’t get chills, check your pulse, you may not be alive.

Such a horrible hand Lauren Hill got dealt in life. There’s nothing anyone can do to get rid of her tumor, but they at least gave her one incredible day. Here’s a great story about her ordeal, and her wonderful day Sunday, and why Lauren Hill has inspired so many.

**And finally, a few words about a man who has tormented my football team for more than a decade. A man I loathe, a man I’m sick of, but a man I can’t help but stand in awe of after yet another phenomenal performance Sunday.

I speak of course of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who helped throttle the Broncos Sunday. Year after year, Brady, like Dan Marino before him, has driven a stake through my football heart, but leaving that aside, he truly is one of the five greatest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen play.

Every year, his supporting cast changes, he hasn’t had a good running game in a decade, and his receivers are rarely big-name guys. But Tom Brady gets it done, year after year, game after game. Sure he’s lost a couple of Super Bowls, but they weren’t his fault. The man is incredibly consistent, and at 37, still on top of his game.

I hate him, but he is a marvel and a legend. And he deserves all the accolades he gets.

Geez, you see what an eight game Jets losing streak does to me? I’m writing paeans to Tom Brady!

The Jets get a big break, and a big win over the Pats, and other NFL thoughts. And the new stupidest new infomercial in the world

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Every New York Jets victory is sweet to fans like me.

But beating Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? Twice as sweet. It feels like two wins, not just one.
Sunday, in another game that cost me some of the few remaining hairs I have left (seriously, Rogaine helps a little but it’s no match against the antics of the Jets on my scalp), my beloved Green and White got down 11 points at halftime, rallied for a big comeback to take the lead, then had to go to overtime and overcome their own awful play-calling (more on that in a minute) and a very, very fortunate penalty on the Pats to win, 30-27.

Whew. Hell of a game, as most Jets-Pats games are.  Some scattered thoughts on the wild one:

— Geno Smith. All we Jets fans ask of him this year is that he show improvement, that he’s better in Week 16 than he was in Week 1. And so far, the kid is really doing it. Sunday was maybe his best all-around performance, taking decision-making, accuracy, and play-making ability (especially with his legs) into account.
He didn’t panic after his one awful decision (an INT returned for a touchdown), and he made some big throws in the second half to give the Jets the lead. Still too early to anoint him “the franchise QB”, but the signs are all encouraging.

— After being told at halftime that it’s not illegal to breathe on Tom Brady, the Jets D was stellar in the second half, sacking the pretty-boy QB four times and harassing him. Even with Gronk back in the lineup (and damn is he a beast to cover), the Jets D was terrific in coverage and in stopping the run.

— Now, the overtime stuff… first of all, I don’t know what the hell got into the Jets offensive coaches at the end of what was a beautiful, run-oriented drive in OT. The Jets got to the Pats’ 40, moving the ball really well, then inexplicably decided to stop trying to gain more yards, running three straight plays into the line and not even trying to make it a manageable field goal try for awesome kicker Nick Folk.
So Folk has to line up for a 56-yard FG try, a wildly difficult kick normally, and he missed. And so it looked like, there went the game.
But the penalty god smiled on the Jets, as the Pats got called for a new foul, as one of their defenders (Chris Jones) pushed a teammate forward to try to help block the kick.
So the Jets got a free 15 yards, and then Folk got a second chance and made the winning kick.
Now of course Pats fans are going to whine about the call being bogus, and wrong, and yada yada yada. Of course I’m biased, but I think any team that won a Super Bowl with big thanks to the “Tuck Rule” gives up the right to ever complain about getting screwed by the refs.

Hell of a win for the Jets. I’m shocked they have four wins before Halloween. Still don’t know if this team has a playoff shot, but damn, they are interesting to watch in 2013.

**Finally today, it’s been a while since I’ve featured a truly moronic infomercial, but I saw this last week and I swore it had to be a parody “SNL” commercial or something.
But nope, this beauty’s real. It’s the Cat’s Meow, and its function is this: To prevent your household feline from scratching up the furniture or causing other mayhem, you put this yellow plastic circle on the floor and press a button, and a miniature-wand starts moving round and round the yellow circle, and apparently the cat will be hypnotically attracted to the wand, and spend hours and hours chasing the thing around a circle.

First of all, I don’t buy it. I know cats ain’t that smart, but this is really going to be entertainment for him/her for hours at a time? Second, isn’t the cat going to tear up the yellow plastic once he can’t catch the wand?
And third, won’t this toy inspire the cat to go hunt around the house for REAL things he can catch, like mice or something?

Another remarkable Super Bowl, as Eli and the Giants do it again. Madonna gets it done at halftime. And the man who drove a Zamboni, drunk

Remember when Super Bowls stunk? When every year we’d get blowout after blowout?
Yeah, seems like an awfully long time ago. Sunday night, in a room filled with Giants fans both old and recent (as of a few hours earlier), I watched the latest in a recent series of scintillating Super Bowls.
So much drama, so much excitement, and once again, Eli Manning and his mates sticking it to the New England Patriots again, denying Coach Hoodie and the pretty-boy quarterback their fourth Super Bowl, 21-17.
What a thrilling contest. You can’t ask for anything more than the ball in the air, on the last play of the game, with the outcome in doubt. If Rob Gronkowski had come down with that Hail Mary, I think the Internet would’ve exploded and so might the heads of all Giants fans.

Some quickie thoughts on the game, before I get to halftime and the commercials:
— Eli Manning now has more Super Bowl wins than Peyton Manning. That blows my mind. Dude is just beyond clutch. He was terrific early, had some lulls later, but in the fourth quarter he took his team down the field like he’s done all year. It was so reminiscent of the Super Bowl from four years ago, I half expected Plaxico Burress to come limping out onto the field.
— No other way to say it, but the Pats offense choked in the 4th quarter. From Wes Welker dropping what could’ve been an almost game-clinching pass, from Brady underthrowing Gronkowski deep, from the drops on the final drive, New England came up very small in the final minutes.
— That Ahmad Bradshaw game-winning touchdown was awfully strange. It looked like he realized the Pats were trying to let him score, tried to stop himself from scoring at the 1 yard line, then fell into the end zone. It was a brilliant call by Coach Belichick to let the Giants score, and not let them run the clock all the way down and kick a winning field goal. If the Pats had won, Bradshaw wouldn’t have slept for months.
— That catch by Mario Manningham (above) was sick. Incredible.

And now, for my Madonna and commercial thoughts:
— I got two of the three Madonna “old” songs correct in our little party’s guessing game, for what that’s worth. I thought the Material Girl did really well, generally; the costumes didn’t do much for me, and she looked like she was moving a lot slower than she used to (well, she IS 53 years old now), but I thought it was a pretty solid show.
I missed the now-famous M.I.A. middle-finger salute during the performance; frankly I had no idea who M.I.A. was so hey, good job getting a little more famous, lady!
— I liked several of the ads Sunday; the Skechers one with Mark Cuban and the dog was really good, and I loved Budweiser “Prohibition” and the E-Trade baby ad as well. The Fiat ad with the woman was pretty great, too.
But my favorite was the one above, the dog in the Volkswagen commercial. Great stuff.

**I always love these kinds of stories, especially during hockey season. A Minnesota man was arrested last week for driving while intoxicated.

His vehicle of choice? A Zamboni. Yep, Joel Bruss, 34, of Apple Valley, Minn. was apparently driving erratically, as witnesses saw his Zamboni careen across the ice and bounce off the sideboards.

Read the rest of the glorious details here. As for Joel, well, all I can tell him is this: next time pal, don’t drink and ice-clean.

Two amazing football games put Giants, Pats into Super Bowl. A creepy PSA about teen sex. And the mixtapes live on in San Francisco.

So much to get to today, I’m gonna save my thoughts on the irrepressible Newt Gingrich (our next President) and Joe Paterno until tomorrow. Plus a review of a great movie I saw last weekend starring George Clooney.

Wow. Sakes alive, those were two fantastic, thrilling, heart-stopping NFL playoff games Sunday.
To use the old cliche that’s so true in this situation: This is why we watch. This is why live, televised sports will always beat stupid “reality” TV, scripted programming, and anything else you can throw on the tube.

Sunday, the four NFL teams playing for the Super Bowl played a pair of fantastic games. First, the Patriots hung on to beat the Ravens, 23-20, and then in an even better contest, the Giants and 49ers played a four-hour epic, with the Giants winning in overtime, 20-17.

Many, many thoughts on these two fabulous games that I watched with my Dad on my couch. I’ll try to be somewhat brief (but with me, you know, that’s hard to do:)

— First on the Pats game. Everyone’s going to blame the Baltimore kicker, Billy Cundiff, and for sure he deserves a lot of blame for blowing a 32-yard field goal that would’ve tied it at the end of the fourth quarter. But Ravens wideout Lee Evans deserves some blame, too, for letting the game-winning TD get stripped in the end zone by someone on the New England D named Sterling Moore. I’m not sure that that wasn’t a touchdown, by the way; can’t believe they didn’t review it with instant replay. Looked to me like Evans caught the ball and took 2 steps before the ball was stripped.

— Ravens QB Joe Flacco (from Delaware) can’t be blamed on this one. After a shaky start, he played a great game.
— Anyone else find it weird to see Steven Tyler sitting in the owner’s box?
— Best line of the day came from former SI writer Steve Rushin, who Tweeted after the game: “Delighted for Tom Brady. About time life went his way.”

Now on to the other game…

I’ve been laughing and mocking the people who’ve been comparing Eli Manning to his brother. I’m not laughing anymore. What a gutsy, terrific performance by Eli Sunday night. He got hit, and hit again, and hit some more. And he kept getting up and making great throws. One more win and he’s got more Super Bowl trophies than Peyton, one of the greatest to ever play.

— Victor Cruz, you are an absolute stud. Everyone knew he was getting the ball, and he just kept making plays.
— I think the “real” Alex Smith showed up for the Niners Sunday. Or at least, the “old” Alex Smith. He looked terrible after the first quarter, though the ferocious Giants pass rush didn’t help.
— Kinda had a feeling it would take a major turnover for someone to score in overtime. Both defenses were just playing so, so well.
— If you’re counting at home, that’s 5 Giants Super Bowl appearances in my lifetime. For my beloved Jets, ZERO. Not that I’m bitter.
— Giants-Patriots Super Bowl. The rematch from four years ago. David Tyree, call your agent. I have a feeling a whole lot of media outlets are gonna want to talk about this…

Two great games. God, I love sports.

**So if you’re a child of the 80s like me, you’ll appreciate this the most.  I’ve just discovered something called the San Francisco Mixtape Society, and I love it. It’s a group from the Bay Area that holds parties once a month where people come and exchange mixtapes (not CDs, they have to be cassettes) based on the theme of the night.

I used to spend hours making mixtapes, mostly for myself, occasionally for others. Kids today won’t understand this, but in the 80s, if you really liked a girl and had just started dating, you made her a mix of your favorite songs. It was, like, a huge show of affection.

I miss mix tapes. I may have to fly to San Fran and show them my “Awesome Slow Mix No. 6” that’s in the back of my closet.

**Finally, I wish I could say this was a parody or a joke. But nope, it’s real. Kids, listen up and learn why waiting for sex is the right way to go!