The Play by Play
Salute the Troops/Salute To Service
Amidst this season’s debates over kneeling and patriotism (conversations that some in the NFL wish to avoid), the NFL will actively show its support of, and connection to, the United States military throughout the month of November. As is tradition, every team, surrounding Veteran’s Day, will dedicate a home game to military recognition and service. You’ll see camouflage jackets and sweat towels, additional pre-game activities and a #salutetoservice/#salutethetroops hashtag swirling around for the next twenty or so days. Why? Because of the league’s longstanding relationship with the USO, a part of which entailed sending players to air bases, aircraft carriers and other remote postings to uplift troops during times of war, including Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Numerous players, coaches and even owners have served in the military over the years but one name stands out. Pat Tillman. Signed by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998, Tillman was a rising star in the league when, in 2002, following the events of 9/11 and just after returning from his honeymoon, Tillman announced he was taking a leave from the sport to enlist in the military. Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pat was tragically killed in action in 2004 while protecting his fellow soldiers. An inspiring and heart breaking story. If you’re curious to learn more, check out the Pat Tillman Foundation and the wonderful work it does.
Following the events of Tuesday’s terrorist attack, New York City responded with both grace and grit, flocking to the streets for Sunday’s marathon. Despite the drizzle and amidst extra security, over 50,000 runners pounded the pavement and more than two million spectators cheered them on. As if scripted, Shalane Flanagan crossed the finish line in 2:26:53, becoming the first US woman to win in 40 years (Miki Gorman won back-to-back races in 1976 and 1977). A magical moment in New York and for the States.
This weekend the NFL looked more like the WWE than professional football. There were three, that’s right, three fights. Multiple players were ejected from the Cardinals v. 49ers game following a fight sparked by a late hit to San Francisco’s quarterback. Mike Evans, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found himself suspended for a game after blindsiding Marshon Lattimore of the Saints (a situation fully instigated by Bucs’ quarterback Jameis Winston). The most jaw-dropping scuffle of the weekend had to be that between AJ Green and Jalen Ramsey, if for no other reason than Green has never had so much as an unsportsmanlike flag, let alone been part of a full fledged fist fight. Usually stoic and mild mannered, AJ’s outburst shocked players and announcers alike. Both were ejected but neither was suspended. Not sure what’s in the water but let’s hope it’s short lived. Players get hit enough as part of the game without any extracurriculars adding to it.
The Faces and Facts
Caroline Wozniacki (Tennis): Wozniacki took home the WTA trophy after beating her idol Venus Williams for the first time ever. Say farewell to star struck fan and hello to big time champion. Wozniacki also just got engaged to David Lee, a former NBA player, officially putting her mess-of-an-engagement to golfer Rory McIlroy (who broke it off days after sending out their wedding invitations) behind her.
Tony Romo and Deion Sanders (Football): Two must know names in the world of Dallas Cowboys football. Romo for his injury plagued stint as QB and new success in the announcer’s booth. Sanders because he’s considered one of the best cornerbacks of all time. The two found themselves in a (joking?) war of words after Romo claimed an awful play by a Chiefs’ defenseman made, “Deion Sanders look good at tackling.” Deion’s response was all in good fun but might also prove a textbook case of someone using humor to mask true feelings.
Carson Wentz (Football): Quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and arguably the player to remember this NFL season. In only his second year, Wentz has led his team to an 8-1 start, the best record in the NFL. During last Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, the Eagles scored so many points (Wentz threw four touchdown passes) that the stadium actually ran out of fireworks.
James Harden (Basketball): In the running for last year’s MVP title, Harden continues to lead the Houston Rockets with his outstanding offensive play. During Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz, he put up a career-high 56 points. If Harden’s performance doesn’t bring him enough attention, his beard certainly does. And this kid nailed his Harden halloween costume, eye roll and all.
The Midweek Rundown
In ice hockey, there are two rule categories. One type of infraction results in a faceoff at the appropriate dot. The other, more often referred to as a penalty, leads to the rule breaker(s) going into the penalty box and the other team having what is called a power play (when the team plays with a man advantage). This week, we will cover the former, hopefully providing you with some insight as to why the referee blows his whistle.
Icing: When a player shoots the puck from his team’s side of the red line and it travels all the way across the goal line of their offensive zone without being touched by another player. The faceoff occurs back in the offending team’s defensive zone. Icing can be “waived off” if the puck hits another player before crossing the goal line or if the referee believes a player on the opposing team could have played the puck but opted not to. Why have this rule? To prevent players from simply flinging the puck down the ice in order to give their defense a chance to catch its breath. Considered a delay tactic, the league views icing as something that breaks up continuous play.
Off-sides: When a team moves into its offensive zone, the puck/the puck carrier must enter before any other teammate does. If an attacking player precedes the puck into the offensive zone, it is considered off-sides and the play is stopped. The face off takes place in the neutral zone.
A faceoff also results if a player breaks the rule around handling the puck with your hands. But this doesn’t happen nearly as frequently as the two infractions detailed above. Other times when you will see a faceoff during a game: to resume play following a penalty, at the start of each period (there are three periods in a hockey game), after a severe injury or following a goal.
Seattle Seahawks v. Arizona Cardinals (Football): This week’s Thursday Night Football matchup. The Cardinals’ running back Adrian Peterson is back on top of his game, having rushed for 159 yards on Sunday, yet the team is still without their quarterback Carson Palmer, who is out with a broken arm. The Seahawks might still be reeling from their somewhat chaotic loss to the Washington Redskins but boast a better record than their division-rival. First snap is at 8:25.
Milwaukee Bucks v. Cleveland Cavaliers (Basketball): Two potential 2018 MVP candidates meet in tonight’s must-watch basketball game. While both teams are under 500 (lost more games than they’ve won) so far this year, the Cavaliers have gained far more publicity for their start to the season. Not only has the team’s rating plummeted, many believe the Cavs will now not even win 50 games, let alone make it to the finals. Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks hope to take advantage of this and hand LeBron James’ Cavaliers yet another loss. Looks like life without Kyrie isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Tip off is at 7pm.
Boston Bruins v. New York Rangers (Hockey): Boston and New York sports teams hate each other (think Red Sox/Yankees or Patriots/Giants) and hockey proves no exception. The Bruins and the Rangers are both original six teams so their rivalry dates back to the beginning of the NHL. Boston’s roster is stacked with players like Zdeno Chara, who, standing at 6’ 9” is the tallest player in the history of the league, and Patrice Bergeron, who isn’t sore on the eyes. The Rangers, starting the season at 500 (meaning they’ve won and lost the same amount of games), are hoping the goaltending of the one-and-only Henrik Lundqvist will carry them to victory. Game starts at 8pm on Wednesday.