Time To Thin The Sideline Herd, NFL

So apparently, today is Sports Day on my blog. Hey, I did cover sports for more than 25 years so every once in a while I’m going to talk sports. Earlier, I told you why I am suspending my fandom of the Los Angeles Lakers.

So now I want to discuss an issue I have with football – at all levels and no, it doesn’t involve anything that goes on in between the sidelines.

How many of these people actually need to be on the sidelines? Not that many.

It is what happens outside the boundaries that annoys me, and has for some time. There are too many people standing there and many of them don’t need to be there at all.

The players, coaches and staff need to be there of course. So do the officials. The TV camera guys for TV and NFL Films are there to do a job, as are the still photography guys (of which I use to be one I might add.)

Everyone else? Nope. Don’t need to be there, so be gone!

I’m talking about the sideline reporters. Reports from the sidelines can be done by the play-by-play guy or the color analyst in the booth – like they used to do back in the olden days (pre-1990). Those injury reports? They are sent up to the press box. Everything else? Is just noise that does nothing for the game on the field.

As an aside, I did enjoy the game NBC broadcast many, many years ago with no announcers in the booth or on the sideline. Just the game with whatever sounds were being generated on the field and in the stadium. It was the most enjoyable game I’ve ever watched.

Now, back to the sideline reporters. Get them off the field and off my screen. And not only because of the one that got bonked in the back of the head by a football whilst doing whatever they call that blathering her lot does. They just clutter up a crowded sideline, making it harder for the camera folks to move about and do their jobs.

The heave-ho especially goes for Booger McFarland on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The dude sits on some glorified recliner in the sky on the sideline. The lack of oxygen likely explains the utter nonsense he spews out. But that clunky bit of stage can easily disappear from the sideline.

Great eye candy? Sure. Great for the game? Not really.

And send off the cheerleaders as well. The only purpose they serve is eye candy. They do nothing for the game itself. And they too tend to wander out of their designated areas. I know, I’ve been hit from behind in the head or the back of the leg by a wayward pom-pom and/or boot enough times while trying to get a shot of a play more than my fair share of times.

And seriously guys, if THAT is what you go to the games to see, you need to get a Playboy channel subscription and just stay home. There is a football game being played. Watch that.

And don’t even get me started on the people on the sideline there as a “special guest” of the owner. There is nothing more annoying than trying to take a picture of a play down the sideline only to have some putz stick his head right between you and the play. I

C’MON MAN!!!!!! I’m working here!!!!!! This dude was not a coach, not a TV guy and not with a TV cameraman. Nor was he an NFL official. He should NOT have been standing there or moving in front of the photographers.

stopped counting how many back of the head shots (like the one to your right) I took about three years into my photography career.

It’s also a safety issue. The more people on the sidelines, the more likely someone is going to get hurt. Just look at what happened to the security person who got steamrolled by Kenny Stills last Sunday. It wasn’t Stills fault he ran into her. It wasn’t her fault for being in the way. She was in the place she was supposed to be, her back turned to the field and watching the stands as she was supposed to.

So if the NFL would really like to do something positive, try thinning out the crowds on the sidelines. It is starting to look like the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles during the morning commute – and getting just as dangerous. Trust me, the product won’t suffer in the slightest.

The Dead Years In LakersLand

I have been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since 1968 when, at the age of four, I would listen to Chick Hearn call the Lakers games on the radio. Well, I was a fan from 1968 until the draft just before last season at any rate.

lalElgin Baylor, Jerry West, Happy Hairston, Gail Goodrich, Pat Reily, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Jamaal Wilkes, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kurt Rambis, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Horry, Derrick Fisher, and Pau Gasol were just some of the many great Lakers I watched play over the years.

When the Lakers hired Luke Walton as their head coach I was thrilled. He’s a young coach who is a proven winner – just look what he did in place of Steve Kerr for the Warriors a few years back. The Lakers had a core of good young players that Walton could mold into a very strong team that could contend for a title.

Good Magic

But Magic Johnson, who was the greatest point guard to ever play the game, seems dead set on proving that as bad as he was as a head coach he will be even worse as a GM. (Yes, I know that’s not his official title, but please, that is what his role is for the Lakers)

Last year he threw away the Lakers first round pick on Lonzo Ball, passing up on at least three or four better players. All anyone with a clue needed to know that Ball was going to be a bust in the NBA was to watch the disappearing act Ball pulled at UCLA against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament that spring before the draft. His rookie season last year was dismal and it will likely be his best as a pro.

Bad Magic

Magic also bungled the chance to get Paul George onto the Lakers last year. Instead of pulling the trigger on a mid-season trade with Indiana, he smugly assumed George would come to LA no matter where he spent the final half of last year. George ended up in Oklahoma City and signed a long-term deal with the Thunder. Well done, Earvin. (Hint: Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Then Johnson fell for the hype that is LeBron James. I am not a fan of James and haven’t been since “The Decision”. That stunt he, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh pulled to create a super team in Miami was a farce that violated the spirit of the salary cap rules in the NBA. I don’t recall Magic, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan pulling the same stunt when they played.

So, as the Lakers start the season 0-3 I say good. I hope they go 0-82. I hope they go 0-82 every year that James and Ball wears a Lakers’ jersey. Magic traded away great young players to get these two jokers. Now I hope he reaps the dismal losing records that will follow.

And when James, Ball and Magic are no longer with the team, then and only then, will I proclaim myself a Lakers’ fan once again. For now, the Magic-Ball-LeBrat years are dead to me.


Felony Culinary Assault

My wife and I watch the Food Network a lot, mostly the cooking competitions like Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. We get ideas for cooking dinner that we try out based on something we’ve seen.

One of the other shows we watch is on Bravo, Top Chef, where pro chefs compete over a season to be – wait for it – Top Chef. One season began with Wolfgang Puck as a judge and he was presented with a risotto that apparently did not measure up. SO much so, that he got up, led the chef back to the kitchen and began to show the chef how to cook it right.

The chef, the other chefs and the other judges were mortified. And I think that chef was not cut that week simply out of sympathy for being shown up like that.

Today, at lunch, I almost went full Wolfgang Puck.

We’ve been trying out area diners, drive-ins and dives (sorry, Guy Fierri) in and around Omaha since moving here back in May. Today we stopped in at a restaurant in Fremont that allegedly serves Mexican food.

I say allegedly, because I’ve had Mexican food. I’ve made Mexican food from scratch. This was in no way shape or form Mexican food. It was, however, an abomination.

The way I decide if a restaurant has Mexican food worth eating is very simple. I order a chille relleno. The proper way to prepare this item is to take a roasted Anaheim chille, stuff it with cheese (my favorite is a mix of mild cheddar and monterey jack), coat it in flour and beaten egg whites, fry and serve covered in green sauce and topped with a dollop of sour cream.

A properly prepared relleno. No red sauce. No flour tortilla shell.

What I got today was a chille of dubious origin, stuffed with cheese and then wrapped inside a flour tortilla, fried and covered with a tomatoey red sauce with bits of hamburger meat.

It was the worst Mexican food I’ve ever forced down my throat. Not just as far as rellenos go either.

This even tops the Blue Jay Inn up in Jamestown, ND back in the mid-1970s that served up a fried burrito complete with fried tortilla, beans and – I kid you not – a hot dog wiener dead center. On purpose.


Yeah, tell me about it, sister.

Fortunately, we had to get going so that chef was spared getting schooled on the proper preparation of Mexican cuisine. Of course, maybe my first clue that something was wrong with the place should have been the presence of ranch dressing at the chips and salsa bar…


Dear Elizabeth Warren,…

Stop it. Seriously, Senator, enough is enough.

The “DNA Test” results you released yesterday are laughable. They were also unneccessary. No one – well no one capable of logical thought – believes for one second that you have a legitimate claim to being “Native American”. And no one buys your claim that you’ve never used that claim to advance yourself on several occassions. There are just too many proven instances where you have done just that.

Unlike you, I can point directly at the ancestor on my maternal side who was Cherokee, and at my third great-grandmother, she gives me a higher percentage of Native American DNA that even the most generous reading of your bogus test gave you.

And also unlike you, I have never considered using my Native American ancestry to any economic advantage, even though I wance given the option to do just that. And the job was one I really wanted. All I had to do, said the HR person, was check the box. I wouldn’t have to prove how much the percentage was, just check the box and the job was mine.

I didn’t check the box. Because to me it was lying and it would be disrespectful to the tribes. I wasn’t raised Native American. I had no business trying to claim something that belongs to them.

I didn’t get the job, it went to a minority candidate instead – one that actually was a minority – and I haven’t regretted that decision for a second. I will win or lose with honor and dignity. Two things you seem to be sorely lacking, Senator.

BTW, using DNA from South American sources?  Yeah, that isn’t anywhere near the same genetic area code as Native American.

If I were a citizen of Massachusetts, I would be deeply ashamed to have to claim Elizabeth Warren as one of my two Senators. I feel your pain. Up until earlier this year I had spent several years in California having to admit Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris were my Senators.

Unhappily, I had to move to find a place where I could happily claim my state’s Senators, Deb Fisher and Ben Sasse. Happily for you folks in Massachusetts you can vote in a new Senator you can take pride in. In your case, anyone else you elect will be a vast improvement.

But for now, all I can do is echo the words of the Cherokee Nation on this matter: “Buzz off, pretentious, pale-faced faker!”