Tag:nfl
Posted on: December 27, 2009 6:40 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2009 6:44 pm
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The Twelve Days of 2010 Training Camp

Those looking for the last great performance at Giants stadium this afternoon missed it by seven months...



Springsteen brought the house down in May of this year. Tom Coughlin's Giants finished the job today by imploding the spirits of every fan - whether in the stadium or not - and we watched those spirits collapse into the stadium's footprint. In May, Bruce was the Boss. Today, Jonathan Stewart was the Boss - and every yard he gained on the helpless Giants defense was another carefully placed powder charge that fired, crippling the fragile infrastructure of the Giants 2009 season.

A cloud of dust and smoke. A loud, thunderous rumble. The Giants season is over, put in in the books.

I know I've been AWOL on the blogs this year, and I apologize for that. To get into the reasons behind that would be a book.
There isn't much to say about this season, but for the sake of closure I offer these obvious observations.

1. We know that there's something very special about rookie Hakeem Nicks, and that Steve Smith has more than opened some eyes with his performance this season.

2. We know that this once formidable offensive line - that's played together more than any other in the league - may be fastly growing old together right before our very eyes.

3. We know that injuries absolutely decimated the Giants secondary. And regardless of that fact, Bill Sheridan showed no growth as a defensive coordinator as the season moved along.

4. We know that Eli Manning is beginning to hit his peak as a quarterback, and that the next two or three years will be optimum for his chances at winniung another championship.


And now, my wish list for the 2010 season - festive in song of the season.


THE TWELVE DAYS OF TRAINING CAMP

On the first day of training camp, my Giants gave to me
A new tackle next to Chris Snee.

On the second day of training camp, my Giants gave to me
Stick-Um wax for Mario,
and a new tackle next to Chris Snee.

On the third day of training camp, my Giants gave to me
Three and out on defense,
Stick-Um wax for Mario,
and a new tackle next to Chris Snee.

On the fourth day of training camp, my Giants gave to me
Four solid quarters,
Three and out on defense,
Stick-Um wax for Mario,
and a new tackle next to Chris Snee.

On the fifth day of training camp, my Giants gave to me...
FOOT... GELS for... Manning!
Four solid quarters,
Three and out on defense,
Magnigrips for Mario,
and a "Bye-bye Kareem McKenzie".

On the sixth day of training camp, my Giants gave to me
Six years for Blackburn...
FOOT... GELS for... Manning!
Four solid quarters,
Three and out on defense,
Krazy Glue for Mario,
and a "chat" with Marcus McNeill.

On the seventh day of training camp, my Giants gave to me
Seven in the red zone,
Six years for Blackburn...
FOOT... GELS for... Manning!
Four exciting quarters,
Three would even do!
Stick-Um wax for Mario,
and a new friend for right guard Chris Snee.

On the Eighth day of training camp my Giants gave to me
Eight free parking passes!
Seven in the red zone,
Six years for Blackburn...
HAIL... DOCTOR... SCHOLLS!
Four-quarter effort,
Three would be a treat,
Mario on the bench,
and a new tackle next to Chris Snee.

On the ninth day of training camp my Giants gave to me
Nine ladies dancing (What? Sure, I'm a die-hard Giants fan - but I'm still a red-blooded American male!)
Eight free parking passes,
Seven in the red zone,
Six years for Blackburn...
Foot... gels for... Manning!
Four quarters please,
Three would be a treat,
Mario on the bench,
and a new tackle next to Chris Snee.

On the tenth day of training camp my Giants gave to me
Ten bucks a beer!? (new stadium, folks)
Nine ladies dancing
Eight free parking passes,
Seven in the red zone,
Six years for Blackburn...
Foot... gels for... Manning!
Four quarters, fellas!
How about a half?
Mario's fetching drinks,
and a draft trade-up for Bruce Campbell!

On the eleventh day of training camp my Giants gave to me
Meet Leslie Frazier!
Cup o' suds a sawbuck
Nine dames a dancin'
Valet parking passes,
Seven in the red zone,
Six years for Blackburn...
Foot... gels for... Manning!
Four solid quarters,
Three and out on defense,
Man, oh, Manningham,
and a Maryland Terrapin freak!

On the twelfth day of training camp my Giants gave to me
Bye-bye Billy Sheridan!
Meet Leslie Frazier!
Drunk and broke - but happy
Washing off the perfume
Valet scratched my Buick,
Red zone's still a desert,
Chase is the man!
ELI... MANNING'S... 'HEAL'ED!
Four solid quarters,
Three and out on defense,
Super glue for Mario -

AND A NEW TACKLE NEXT TO CHRIS SNEE!

Posted on: September 22, 2009 12:23 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2009 12:24 pm
 

Life with Coherence, Interference & Perseverance:

Mario Manningham, 'Apocalypse Now' & Temporary Relief

You didn't quite expect it... so when it actually happens, you don't know how to respond.


Anyone familiar with the old HBO comedy series Dream On can relate to my perpetual state of being, and the pop-culture references my brain will conjure up to find parallels between real-life goings on and my favorite movie or TV moments my conciuosness has sopped up over the years like an electronic wave decoding sponge. This was the case on my way home from work this past Friday, where it happened to me again; and usually, two collected thoughts will not stand alone in the rattling cage between my ears without at least a third slipping between the bars... when somehow a busy weekend on the horizon melded with The New York Giants receiving corps and the film Apocalypse Now.
 
Does this at all sound familiar? It's been a long week at work, you're beat. You just want to relax at home and be left alone. But of course, there's a wedding that night that you're already late for - for a couple you don't know or really care for, and surely you won't know anyone else who's attending so you'll become quite friendly with the bartender very quickly. Then there's that "project" in the yard you've avoided all summer should be done Saturday morning because in the afternoon you have to drive the kids to dance class and a soccer game. Later on it's a birthday party at "Toss-A-Cookie" or another of the quaint little inforr playgrounds where the screams of children could drown out the sound of an CH-46 Sea Knight flying overhead. And don't even consider resting Saturday night because you just found out you're hosting the in-laws for dinner.

Sunday is the day to "finally clean out that storage room", fix little odd and ends and "discuss" your family budget (and why you have to stop spending money - don't you have enough XBOX 360 games?) . You'll try to catch some NFL action between here and there but you know you'll be lucky if you can catch a few radio minutes in the car on your way to-and-from the hardware store. Of course, you'll only hear the end of the pregame show, then the end of first quarter break and some mindless banter to fill time while the trainers help some special teams guy off the field - never once giving a score. You park, open the front door and Disney Channel is on your television. The only thing harder than pulling a guy away from a tv when football is on is taking back control of the remote when your kids are watching High School Musical 3: Sing Along version for the third time.

This is what you have to look forward to as you park in front of your house. First you scrape the curb with your tires a few times, then you get the angle just right. Turn the ignition off to the auxiliary position - because whatever blah-blah is on the radio is enough of an excuse to keep you in the car for just a few more minutes. Delay the inevitable.

Then the vision... I suddenly turn into Dream On's Martin Tupper... and now I'm Martin Sheen... I'm Captain Willard in one of my all-time favorite cinematic classics Apocalypse Now...


As if the voices punching through my speakers and getting absorbed into the seat upholstery were G.D> Spradlin and Harrison Ford themselves...  I start walking to the front door as the walkway takes on the shape and feel of the Nung River running up into Cambodia. 

My overly talkitive and extremely uncomfortable next door neighbor is wearing a cowboy hat; standing at an angle with both hands on his hips, he couldn't care less that I'm not even listening to him as he begins to run through his list of crap he's got going on this weekend. He's Colonel Kilgore... he's shirtless, and he's wearing that stupid hat and I'm not listening to a single word he says.
Why? Because the jungle thickens and the sunlight begins to disappear as I make my way to the front door... Pretty soon I'll be in the house.

Colonel Kurtz is waiting for me. I can visualize the conversation already.

"Hey honey - I'm home"

"...Are you an assassin?"

"I'm... I'm your husband."

"You're neither. Your a grocery clerk. My hired hand for the weekend... who's going to miss the Giants game on Sunday"

"Umm, no? I told Lance that if I wasn't back at the boat by sundown to call in the air strike..."


"What are you talking about? Who the hell is Lance?"


"Never Mind. Did we get mail? I need reading material, have to hit the bathroom . Be out in an hour or so."



You walk in, put your bag down... there's a note on the table.

TONIGHT'S WEDDING & ALL WEEKEND ACTIVITIES CANCELLED. ALSO, TOOK THE DAY OFF AND FINISHED THE WEEKEND CHORES FOR YOU! MY SISTER CALLED & WE TOOK THE KIDS TO THE SHORE FOR THE WEEKEND, STAYING AT HER FRIEND'S BEACH HOUSE IN ASBURY. ENJOY YOUR "ME" TIME - XO XO.

Well, well, well... I grab the spatula out of the drain and whack myself on the forehead... nope, not dreaming. 

"C'mon! That never happens!". Of course it doesn't, but it's nice to dream isn't it?

Now we come to this season's New York Football Giants, and the . Much like an wide open, no strings attached weekend that's just been thrust upon you, you start to feel relieved; you have nothing to worry about, and you sit there wondering how lucky you are. Why? It's not because you have this weight lifted off your shoulders, or that all the things you've wasted precious time stressing about have apparently vanished into thin air.

No, the most amazing thing is that you never thought you'd live to see the day.

So what do you do? How do you harness this new-found zest?

Right - you don't. Why? Because you and I both know you'll spend the entire time wondering when the phone will ring.

"Hi, It's me  - the kids were bored so they wanted to come home. Let's have a GARAGE SALE on Sunday!!"  

"Well, I uh..."

"Super - how does noon to 6 sound? We can invite my family over for dinner afterwards. Wanna Barbecue?"

Lets look at what we know so far about the Giants:
Eli Manning - despite a pick and a few ill-advised throws - has been as close to perfect as one could expect, and as always he's cool and comfortable when the clock is ticking down and the game's on the line.

Except for the injury to Justin Tuck (thanks to the normally disciplined Flozell Adams), the D-Line is in tact and better than ever. The Secondary is doing a decent job despite missing the services of Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery - thanks largely in part to the outstanding play of safety Kenny Phillips, who is pushing through despite a knee injury. "Earth" and "Fire" will get untracked soon enough.

No Toomer, No Burress... no problems at wide receiver. Mario manningham has been a revelation, already beginning to look every bit like the "steal of the draft" as many referred to him following his 3rd round selection in 2008. Steve Smith has remained mr. consistent, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is smartly utilizing him as a slot receiver, where he's most comfortable. It's only a few games, but the roles of these two playerws are starting to materialize and define themselves within the game plan, and Eli Manning seems confident in their ability to make the plays they need to.

But when will that phone call come? 

Will the dream be shattered? When will the big drop occur? When will these two seemingly reliable receivers become the "number 2's" everyone has tabbed them as? The New Orleans Saints in week 6? Next week against the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Maybe. Maybe not. This is unfamiliar territory for both Eli and for the receivers.

Regardless, here the Giants are at 2-0, off to another solid start under coach Tom Coughlin. The boat is creaky and the river is wide as it is murky. Up the river we go to face our destiny - Manning is driving the boat, Coughlin is our confident yet strict captain Willard, and Manningham is surfing the waves while Plaxico Burress is locked up tight in a bamboo cage in the rain, waiting for someone to offer hom a drag off their cigarette in the form of a second chance in the NFL. What will this 2009-2010 mission into the darkness of the jungle, the unpredictable nature of a 16-game season, have in store for the men in blue?

Nobody knows. This is a different this season, and a different set of circumstances. In the end I think the only two things I could ever hope for - a free weekend all to myself, and an enjoyable season from the Giants that I can walk away from with pride - whether it be in December or february. As guarded optimism goes, I'm stocked up. 

For now, all I have is a house full of sleeping children and a sleeping wife. The lights are all off except the flicker of the televison, and I've just stumbled upon Apocalypse Now already in progress. The darkness of Colonel Kurtz's lair is lit only by the hazy sunlight splitting through the mouth of the cave. A tired, broken Captain Willard sits with his head dangling in defeat, while Dennis Hopper's popped up, deranged photo journalist rambles on about anything he can wrap his mind around. As I listen to Hopper's voice cut the soupy air like a buzz saw, I hear the scripted words that all football fans can relate to in thinking about how they DON'T want history to remember their team's 2009-2010 season:

"This is the way it ends, man! Not with a bang but with a whimper. And with a whimper - I'm f***ing splitting, Jack!"

Posted on: September 4, 2009 1:25 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2009 1:39 pm
 

MOST OVERRATED OF ALL TIME: First 32 *RESULTS*

Here are the results of your voting for the first field of 32 MOST OVERRATED OF ALL TIME!

Thanks for taking the time to vote!

The next field of 32 will be posted next week, and once we've narrowed the field down to 32 total players, I will begin to mix and match to move forward in determing the MOST OVERRATED PLAYER OF ALL TIME. Stay tuned!



RICH KOTITE CONFERENCE

#1 Joe Namath - QB, NY Jets: an overwhelming (or underwhelming I guess) victory for B'way Joe here          
#2 Ryan Leaf, QB SD: but as Rob Toxin stated, "There's a difference between a bust and being overrated."                
#3 Plaxico Burress, WR NFL: his "value" - like his performance - is up, down & unpredictable.                  
#13 Steve Young - QB, 49ers: makes up for Toxin's sentiment regarding Bradshaw.
 #5 Terrell Owens - WR, Bills: Thank heaven for reality TV, at least he has a future on VH1.
#6 Michael Vick - QB, NFL: will always be a runner first, with questuionable leadership skills
#7 Doug Flutie - QB, USFL/NFL/CFL: Dougie does much good for the community but still lives off that one big play.
#8 Brian Bosworth - LB, Seahawks: again to quote Toxin, "at least Mandarich never wrote a book and then busted".



BOBBY VALENTINE CONFERENCE

#16 Alex Rodriguez - SS, Yankees: Despite the 'roids I'm surprised by this as I though Ripken was a shoe-in.
#15 Derek Jeter - SS, Yankees: another shocker... voting was close but "El Capitan" edge out the "Wizard"
#3 Jose Canseco - OF, MLB: cheater...              
#4 Bobby Murcer - OF, Yankees: his 162 game average is 21 HR, 89 RBI, .277 BA, .477 SLG %. Not stellar...
#5 Barry Zito: Vespula: "a name like a character from a crime drama, you expect greatness, It's a crime alright."
#6 Darryl Strawberry - OF, Mets/Yanks: Along w/ Gooden the biggest waste of raw talent in the past 30 years.
#10 Mark McGwire - 1B, A's/Cardinals: cheater...
#8 Sammy Sosa - OF, Cubs/Rangers: cheater... 
Posted on: August 30, 2009 8:18 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2009 8:49 pm
 

In the Nicks of Time

With Sure-Handedness an anomaly for Receivers, Hakeem is a Dream that must become reality.



Call it "garbage time" if you wish. Explain it away as just being another pre-season 4th Quarter where the darkest and deepest corners of the depth chart are fighhting for their rightful place on the Giants practice squad. Take it for whatever you think it's worth, but as a Giants fan I saw something in a receiver that has been sorely lacking since Glendale in February of 2008; confident hands.

Hakeem Nicks hadn't shown much leading up to the 3rd quarter of last night's annual exhibition against the New York Jets, hauling in just two catches in the first two games. But two touchdowns and 144 yards later, Nicks is finally comfortable with his role and with his new team. "I feel like I know what I'm doing out there" he was quoted as saying in a postgame interview.

OK, so it was primarily David Carr - and not Eli Manning - throwing the ball to Nicks, and it wasn't as if he was being covered by the amazing Darrelle Revis or even the savvy-yet-suddenly-sloppy veteran Lito Sheppard (who was pulling at Mario Manningham's jersey like a 13-year old girl would claw at one of the Jonas brothers Marc Ecko sew fly shirts). But when the game was on the line - and for Nicks, this was his moment to show what he could do - he made the big grabs and showed the superior route running ability and quickness that Jerry Reese drafted him for.

In the first quarter, Nicks had made an impressive 15-yard grab off a pass from Manning as he broke back towards the sideline and gained the inside edge on Sheppard - falling to his knees and scooping up the low pass just as it was designed. His first TD was a corner route to the back of the end zone where he curled around behind CB Drew Coleman and twisted his torso to the right as the pass came down - perfectly positioning himself on what was basically a desparation play by Carr who was about to get hammered in the pocket. On the 71-yard TD pass, Nicks was simply the benificiary of a blown coverage scheme as he was streaking down the right side - there wasn't a single white jersey in sight, and it was beautiful.

What - you may be asking yourself - is so beautiful about an easy touchdown catch that any legitimate NFL pro should be able to make?
It was as beautiful as Steve Smith's dropped pass was ugly.
It was as beautiful as Domenik Hixon's mishandling of an Eli pass (resulting in a David Harris interception) was disappointing. 

The Smith drop was a tide shifter that would have put the Giants up by two touchdowns in the first quarter. After going up 7-0, the Giants defense stuffed NY(A) for three-and-out. On the first play of their ensuing drive, a perfectly thrown 60-yard heat seeker by Manning landed right in the cradle of a wide-open Smith - who had five steps on the nearest defender, The ball had 'touchdown' written all over it. In... and out. In and out. 14-0 suddenly became 7-7 less than four minutes later. The first thing I thought of was the eerily similar drop by Hixon against the Eagles last year - same situation, same result. It's what I call an "inflation transfusion" from one team's balloon to the other's.

Hixon's was much less egregious, a bullet over the middle that was a bit off target (Manning has yet to learn he needs to take a little something off those to avoid breaking his receiver's fingers). Hixon, however had both hands on the ball. You know what they say, and it's true - if you have your hands on it, you have to catch it. Hixon did not, and it popped off his hands and straight into the air resulting in a turnover that led to the Jets first score of the game. 

If Smith and Hixon - the team's starters - can't make those catches in a preseason game, what will they do when it really counts?

Steve Smith said in a post game interview, "Perfect pass, right in the bread basket. I'm just glad it was a preseason game."

I'm not. And I'm pretty sure Tom Coughlin's not.

Maybe it's time to start planning Hakeem Nicks' "gradual transition" into the starting unit sooner, rather than later. 



Quotes source: RSS Feed (Dan Graziano) 

Posted on: August 10, 2009 11:02 am
 

MOST OVERRATED OF ALL TIME: The First 32

THE FIRST 32

Let's begin the tournament


We'll start with half the field of 64; the first 32 nominees represent those with the most votes from Major League Baseball and the National Football league.

You know how this works - copy & paste to respond, and it would be easiest to simply deleted the name/picture of the player you want to vote out. Without trying to sound too much like Jeff probst, please remember that you are voting for the person you think is most overrated.

Keep in mind that the players listed here are not necessarily my personal choices - and some would not even appear on this list if I had my way. I included all of the players submitted by those who responded to my post, my nominees and filled out the remaining gaps by pulling from other polls (such as the Sports Illustrated article & Bleacher Report blog).

The one exception to this is Barry Sanders - with all due respect to Jalopy (who along with others understandably criticized my choice of Lance Armstrong - I have no problem with any of those viewpoints), I decided to throw my own choice of Plaxico Burress in the mix. And I can't bring myself to include a guy who's 3rd all-time in rushing yards who played on a clearly inferior team compared to Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton, and certainly would have far surpassed both of them had he played the same number of seasons as they had.

I'll post the other half of the field once we get through the first 32; I'll try to keep it moving along as fast as possible.
Thanks to everyone who participated in building this tournament. 

RICH KOTITE CONFERENCE

 #1 Joe Namath - QB, NY Jets                 vs.    #16 Tom Brady - QB, Patriots

 #2 Ryan Leaf, QB Chargers                   vs.    #15 Terry Bradshaw - QB, Steelers

 #3 Plaxico Burress, WR NFL                   vs.    #14 Deon Sanders - NFL & MLB

 #4 Vince Young - QB, Titans                   vs.   #13 Steve Young - QB, 49ers

 #5 Terrell Owens - WR, Bills                   vs.   #12 Brett Favre - QB, Packers/Jets

 #6 Michael Vick - QB, NFL                       vs.   #11 Lawrence Phillips - RB, Rams

 #7 Doug Flutie - QB, USFL/NFL/CFL           vs.  #10 Todd Marinovich - QB, Raiders

 #8 Brian Bosworth - LB, Seahawks            vs.  #9 Tony Mandarich - OL, Packers




BOBBY VALENTINE CONFERENCE

 #1 Cal Ripken Jr. - SS, Orioles                 vs.  #16 Alex Rodriguez - SS, Yankees

 #2 Ozzie Smith - SS, Cardinals                 vs.  #15 Derek Jeter - SS, Yankees

 #3 Jose Canseco - OF, MLB                      vs.  #14 Bo Jackson, RB (NFL) / OF (MLB)

 #4 Bobby Murcer - OF, Yankees                vs.  #13 Pete Rose - multiple positions, Reds

 #5 Barry Zito - SP, Giants                         vs.  #12 Nolan Ryan - SP, Mets/Angels/Astros/Rangers

 #6 Darryl Strawberry - OF, Mets/Yankees   vs.  #11 Chipper Jones - 3B, Braves 

 #7 Phil Rizzuto - SS, Yankees                   vs.  #10 Mark McGwire - 1B, A's/Cardinals

 #8 Sammy Sosa - OF, Cubs/Rangers         vs.  #9 Barry Bonds - OF, Pirates/Giants


 


Posted on: July 29, 2009 6:31 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2009 6:36 pm
 

New Tourney: Most OVERRATED ATHLETES of All Time!

They've been praised. Fans were crazed. Perhaps trophies were raised... but were they really that good?

   

Being a participant in - and having such fun with - the tournament brackets run by folks like Section and Ifweonlyknew, I thought we might take a page from both of their books and combine the "absurd" side of things with the "hardcore sports" side. 

Post your nominations here for which athletes you believe are the most overrated of all time. I know that it will be tempting for Giants fans to nominate Tony Romo & Emmitt Smith, or for Celtics fans to throw Patrick Ewing on the list. 

A good example might be why we always seem to find Cal Ripken Jr's name (no offense intended to anyone) in the top five of most "Top 10 Greatest MLB Shortstops in History" lists -  who is obviously put on a pedestal as the "Ironman" while sporting a career batting average of .276, and an average of about .260 the final 10 years of his career - that at the same time leaves off players like Pee Wee Reese & Nomar Garciaparra.

I'll let this stew for a while before setting the brackets.

You don't necessarily have to provide reasons for your choices, but I would suggest you do.

You already know one name that'll be on my list - I'll post my nominations in the near future.
Thanks! 

Posted on: March 13, 2009 2:41 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2009 3:00 pm
 

New Giant Boley's Story Hits Close To Home

Big Blue's newest linebacker has a son with Autism. Daily struggles, sleepless nights and raising awareness are all things Mr. Boley and I have in common...     

On February 28th, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese inked free-agent Michael Boley to a five-year contract. As excited as I am about the much needed passion and ability Boley brings to the linebacker unit , there's another passion in his life that means just as much - if not more - to him than football. It's his mission to raise funds, awareness and hope for those affected by Autism. While I can't relate to Boley's relationship with football (my football experience is limited to a single lackluster season in pee-wee league, retired at the ripe old age of 9), I can more than relate to his relationship with his son, Mikey.

My son, Jimmy, has Autism. From what I've been able to research on Boley's son, it seems little Mikey's Autism isn't quite as "severe" as Jimmy's. I use quotes for the term "severe" because people with Autism are like snowflakes; no two are exactly alike (I'll place quotes around any term I feel I'm using only for lack of a better one). The dynamic range of characteristics and issues associated with Autism is mind-boggling. Some will eat anything while others have diets limited to 10 or 12 different food items. Linguistically their speech can be fluent but quirky, extremely limited or repetitive, or completely non-existent. Some can dress themselves while others can't. Some can play an instrument or beat world champion gamers at Madden NFL '09, while others haven't mastered the ability to use a fork and knife. 

My son? Jimmy learned to swim the length of our pool - underwater - when he was 7 years old. He's been able to navigate computer games and learning programs at lightning speed since the age of 6. After years of hard work, we were finally able to help him become fully toilet trained this past summer. When was 10 years old. 

Every day brings another challenge; many of which have nothing to do with teaching your child to read or improve living skills. There's battles with school districts for services and placement, which can become so ugly that legal intervention is necessary. Long-standing relationships with friends (and even family members) might suffer, depending on their ability to deal with children of this nature. And unless your child has the "mildest" forms of Autism, an elevated level of attention and thought must be given to things that most would consider relatively superficial; like putting your child on a school bus, whether a playground is fenced in, or walking across a mall parking lot. 

These are things that Michael Boley deals with every day, all the while maintaining a high level of professional committment to his performance on the football field. 

Michael Boley grew up in Alabama. In 2000, his girlfriend Kelly Lankford gave birth to Mikey. According to Boley, he began seeing signs of Mikey "behaving differently than most kids his age" during his frequest visits with his son. In 2003, as he was going through the process of being drafted by Southern Mississippi, Boley filed for and received primary custody of Mikey. The judge ruled that Boley and his new wife, Chantelle would be better suited to provide Mikey educational and developmental opportunities. But Michael and Chantelle were not prepared for what was to come; Mikey's constant screaming, temper-tantruming and hitting became more than the Boleys - and the revolving door of caretakers who came and went - could handle.

Home life began to improve when the Boleys eventually moved to Dacula, Georgia and enrolled their son in a public school that had facilities to work with autistic children. Chantelle - who happened to be a pediatric special needs caretaker, helped Michael learn sign language to better communicate with Mikey. In 2006 - with help from Falcons senior director of player development Kevin Winston - they were able to hire an in-home caretaker specializing in autistic children (who still works with Mikey, and the two have apparently built a tight bond). The Falcons front office also helped out by securing placement for Mikey at the Marcus Institue in Atlanta, which specializes in teaching kids with developmental and neurological disorders. It was at the Marcus Institute where Boley was informed that Mikey would officially be diagnosed as autistic; two years earlier, when Mikey was 5 years old.

"He would have been a whole lot better a whole lot further ahead, if he'd got it say when he was a year and a half to two years." Boley said back in 2007. "He's better than when I got him... He didn't speak at all when we got him. He has his good days and bad days. A bad day is when he hits and won't listen. A good day is when he pretty much follows the rules and just has fun. He's usually pretty happy".

And now - after four seasons with the Falcons - Michael Boley won't be able to hang his jersey in the Georgia Dome locker room anymore. And another unavoidable eventuality; he probably won't be hanging his hat in Dacula for very long.   

His new job is located in East Rutherford, and uprooting his son from his home in Dacula will undoubtedly be a concern that requires a number of major decisions. The Boleys are no longer married (Michael was arrested and charged with assaulting Chantelle on May 3rd of last year), but even though she's been living out of state, Chantelle remains a consistent presence in Mikey's life. For anyone who isn't aware, routine and consistency are an absolute necessity for a special needs child. Especially an autistic child, where coping with society and simply getting through day-to-day tasks can feel like massive stimulation overdose; a steady foundation or "home base" is essential for them.

Should Boley retain custody of Mikey, real estate value and location won't necessarily be his primary concerns; school districts -specifically their special needs programs and the services they have to offer - will be. Services are rights, plain and simple. Yet you would be amazed at the stark contrasts between different school districts; not only in what services they're willing to provide, but in how hard they'll force parents to fight tooth and nail for everything "afforded" to them. Unfortunately, it's all too common to find one district that's accomodating, supportive and professional - while it's neighboring district next door is only concerned with budgets and maintaining the 'bottom line". I like to refer to those districts as "Circus Acts", because they force special needs families to jump through hoops for their services, while they walk the high-wire of fiscal reallocation and educational politics.

However the situation works itself out, there's no doubt Boley will continue his fine work in raising funds and awareness for autism. Boley has participated in the annual Georgia Walk for Autism event, as well as hosting fundraisers for the Marcus Institute and Easter Seals of Northern Georgia. In 2008 he organized and hosted The Michael Boley Step Show For Autism with Cardinals defensive end Travis LaBoy, who's brother is autistic. Coincidentally, the Super Bowl Step Show  took place in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona - just five days before his new team defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

While he needs to hold himself accountable and work through for the more publicized aspects of his personal life, I for one can only wish Boley and his son the best of luck in getting through this transition. I've lived through it, and I know the frustrations. Maybe Michael Boley will be one of the tens of thousands faces seen walking the boardwalk at Jones Beach this fall for Autism Speaks

I know I will be.

 

SourcesAP (George Henry, 11/9/2007); Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Steve Wyche, 10/11/06); Giants.com (transcript, 3/3/09); 11Alive.com (Donna Lowry, 4/14/2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: January 11, 2009 7:06 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2009 1:51 am
 

EAGLES/GIANTS RECAP: Its All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Eagles 23, Giants 11

Giants leave their stepping stones behind, and have the rug pulled out from under them.

 

Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you.
The vagabond who's rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.
   -
From Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

As the game moved along, quarter by quarter and minute by minute the inevitability of what was taking place was clear. It was like getting a shot at the doctor; you're sitting on the examination table, watching him tie the rubber hose around your arm. He rolls the little bottle around in his palms, then removes the syringe from the wrapping. Plunger pushed in, a dip in the bottle, plunger pulled back. The a couple of flicks of the finger. Then the obligatory comment, "Now... this won't hurt a bit." and in it goes. It stings for a bit, but eventually the pain goes away and you realize there was really nothing to it.

There was a purpose to that long-winded "ode to a needle": There's a wide dynamic of emotions a fan can experience following a game like this. Perhaps it's age, or familiartiy, or the understanding that repeating as champion in today's NFL is not easily accomplished. However, I think that it's the simple fact that Tom Coughlin's team did not seem right from the get-go. It will sting for a bit, but eventually the pain will go away and we'll realize that - at least from the Giants - there was really nothing to them.

The Eagles were the vagabond wrapping at the door today, and have recently been likened to last year's Giants; the wild card team with the big heart, hitting on all cyliders at just the right time. They're now wearing the "clothes" that the Giants' were donning last year at this time -and they're dressed for success.

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles - for their perseverance and will to win this game at all costs. Healthy players, smart game planning and a little luck all play a part in earning a victory. The "luck" part for the Eagles today was catching Eli Manning on a bad day. But that wasn't the deciding factor in game; Philadelphia earned the victory and were clearly the better team today. Now they pack their bags for a date with the Arizona Cardinals and an NFC Championship game, visiting the very site where less than a year ago, Big Blue made magic, and NFL history.

For Tom Coughlin, General Manager Jerry Reese and the Giants organization - an offseason of "what might have been". Maybe Reese can snag a free agent wideout the likes of T.J. Houshmandzadeh to replace Eli's missing deep threat, and if the first two years of his tenure are any indication, he's more than likely have another solid draft come April. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo might be a head coach somewhere in 2009; though the doors of opportunity are starting to close fast. Derrick Ward will likely want to prove he can be a starter and will want starter money - if there's a team willing to give him the shot.

Below are two reasons why the New York Giants lost their Divisional round playoff game to the Eagles this afternoon - and despite what the FOX NFL team of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck would have you believe, Plaxico Burress isn't one of the two reaons. If he were, then we may as well throw in the loss of Osi Umenyiora in the preseason and the retirement of Michael Strahan. 

These two things - and not the personnel on the field - will haunt the Giants in the weeks and months to come...

1. The "eyes" have it; and Eli just didn't have it today.

Trying to guage Eli Manning's emotion is like trying to tell the difference between regular or decaffeinated, but there are those rare times that it's written all over his face; and today, his face was a novel. His passes wobbled, he was off target a number of times, and threw into tight coverage way too often. But the true measuring stick for Eli is his eyes. If written it many times throughout the season; When he's on his game, his eyes are scanning the field, looking for his options and knowing where to go. Today, his eyes locked on his primary target - from the moment the ball was snapped until the point of release. Asante Samuel and Brian Dawkins didn't have much guess work to know where the ball was going. Something wasn't right with Manning, and when that's the case he tends to lose focus and downfield awareness of the defense. Even though the teams were within 2 points of each other for a majority of the game, Eli's interception to Samuel (which led to the first Philadelphia touchdown) was a back-breaking tone setter.

2. In-game decisions that were offensive, rather than offensive minded in-game decisions.

  • There was one bright spot for the Giants today, and it was Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs had 19 carries for 92 yards and appeared to be the only player in a blue jersey that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was unable to handle. Yet every time New York found itself driving the ball successfully, they took the ball out of Brandon's hands. I don't want to ramble with examples here, but here's one that sticks out: Following DT Fred Roobbins' interception and return to the Philadelphia 33 yard line in the 3rd Quarter, two consecutive handoffs to Jacobs went for 11 and 5 yards. The momentum was shifting. Number 27 was then called off to the sidelines in favor of Ward; two unsuccessful pass plays later, the Giants had to settle for a field Goal. This brings us to...                                                                                                                                           
  • Field goals... or punt? The turning point of the game for me - and I felt it the moment it took place - was when Coughlin decided to go for a 47-yard field goal with 4:29 remaining in the 3rd quarter instead of punting. Philly was leading 13-11 at that point, and Carney had already missed a 46-yard attempt earlier in the game (and badly, I might add). The Giants had recorded a safety the last time the Eagles were pinned back on their goal line, which might have been in their heads should they have found themeselves in that same spot. Your punter is Jeff Feagles - one of the best to ever play the game - and with the wind to his back, had already placed one perfectly inside the 5-yard line today. They should have pinned them back and not taken the risk on allowing Donovan McNabb to have 1st and 10 at midfield. Carney missed the kick, and McNabb marched them down the field and found TE Brent Celek in the end zone to put the Eagles up by a score of 20-11 on the first play of the 4th quarter. Which brings us to...                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  • The fourth Quarter... following the Brent Celek touchdown. On their next two possessions, the Giants ran 11 plays - 10 of which were running plays. It's understandable to a point, considering the inconsistency of their quarterback throughout the afternoon. But that said, he is still your quarterback, and unless the Giants coaches new something we didn't you have to continue plugging away and keeping the Eagles defense off-balance as best you can. On both possessions, the Giants were faced with a 4th down and a decision to make. And on both occasions, they went for it. The first time (on 4th and inches), they lined up Jacobs in the backfield and tried a quarterback sneak up the gut with Eli. That's like using a toothbrush to drive a nail into a wall when you've got a hammer right there in your tool belt. For the next drive (on 4th and 2) Kevin Gilbride decided to go with what they should have gone with the first time and ran Jacobs straight up the middle. Neither conversion was successful. The Giants miscue on the initial 4th down attempt perfectly prepared Jim Johnson's defense for the second 4th down attempt.

And it's all over now, Big Blue.

Thanks to the Giants for an enjoyable season, despite the letdown today. They handled themselves well through all the distractions and controversy, and overcame a lot of obstacles to put themselves back in contention. In a week or so, I will post my Giants 2008 Season Team Awards in recognition of the highlights - and lowlights - of the season.

Now it's off to the Eagles boards to offer my congratulations.

 

Statistical Sources: nfl.com, cbssports.com

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com