Thursday, January 29, 2009
In 1943, during World War II, the Eagles and Steelers joined forces to become the Steagles when many NFL players heroically volunteered or were called into the military. The shortage of players united all of Pennsylvania behind one team.
At least one current Eagle still wishes the state had one team.
"Half of us would be going to the Super Bowl this weekend if the Steagles were still around," said one Eagles' player who did not want to be identified. "If it's not too late I'd be willing to join the Steelers roster for one game. I mean ... there are two wars going on now and stuff."
The player did indicate that he had made a list of Eagles' players that would make up half of a Steagles' roster. He also hinted that Greg Lewis was not included on that list.
"Greg Lewis is not on the list," said the player.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The tidal portion of the lower Schuylkill River has been ice-covered for over a week. The irregular arctic temperatures marched the ice in every direction, consuming the surface of the river like a rain-inspired Citizens Bank Park grounds crew covers the infield.
"One day fish are jumping out of the water, high into the air; the next day they hit their head so hard they can knock themselves silly," explained Tara Abner, a scientist at Southwest Philadelphia's Bartrum's Gardens.
Because of the tidal movement, some five to seven feet, and slow current of the river, the ice is not yet thick enough for most Philadelphians to set foot on.
"On Thursday night we had some idiot from a Boat House Row party attempt to ride a golf cart out onto the ice," said Hank Terrogski, an officer with the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit. "Crashed right through the ice. We joked that he not only created an ice hole, but was one too."
Terrogski estimated the thickness of the ice in the middle of the river to be anywhere from two to five inches. Not close to the eight inches of ice needed to support the average American.
Yet despite this fact there are a series of ice circles—not carved like crop circles—that have mysteriously appeared on the lower Schuylkill River, down stream from the waterworks and in the shadow of the light festival known as the Cira Centre.
Experts have been studying and testing the circles for the past two days using highly sensitive computer equipment and rulers. This special equipment allows the ice-ologists to not only study the circles, but test the formations as well.
"We use a special bucket truck situated on the riverbank to position a scientist over the circle. A core sampling device is used to both study and test the frozen river," said Jean Gilbert, ice-ologist with Le Ice, Inc., a Canadian ice consulting company.
"It could be that the fish are responsible and are attempting to convey a message," said Gilbert in his French Canadian accent, when asked what he thought was behind (or under) the circles. "[The fish] could be saying 'let us out of here. We cannot breathe properly.' Or something like that."
Le Ice, Inc., who has all but ruled out human culpability, is conducting their study at the request of Schuylkill Banks, a non-profit organization that operates the park, beach and trail adjacent to the lower Schuylkill River.
City officials, including Mayor Nutter, were not overly concerned about the ice circles and refused to spend taxpayers' money to learn more about the phenomenon. Many City Council members believe the circles are an elaborate prank orchestrated by local teens or Disney on Ice.
The city released this statement: "It's ice ... with circles in it. Get over it. It's prolly just kids."
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei—Residents of this tiny southeast Asian country, situated on the north side of Borneo island, were indeed shocked when they learned that the Arizona Cardinals had advanced to the Super Bowl in Tampa, FL. Many of the estimated 400,000 inhabitants were surprised by the Cards victory over Atlanta, very surprised at the dismantling of Carolina and utterly shocked by the dispatching of Philadelphia.
The country's leader, Hassanal Bolkiah, also expressed shock at the notion of a National Football Conference represented by an Arizona Cardinals team.
"This is very shocking," said the leader. "Shocked! That's all I can say. Utterly shocked. As I'm sure much of the world is."
From Namibia to Sri Lanka and the Maldives to Uruguay the world is shocked by the Arizona Cardinals playoff run.
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Cardinals fans say they have always had faith that their beloved football team would push this far into the NFL postseason.
"We shocked the world. We never had any doubt. We are not shocked by how our team has performed. Not shocked at all," said Dennis Bertuzi, a Cardinals fan from Flagstaff, AZ. "I have to assume, though, that much of the world is shocked."
A large number of Cardinals fans did, however, express being shocked that Tottenham Hotspur and the Blackburn Rovers were in 16th and 17th place, respectively, in the current English Premier League standings.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Washington, DC—As many as three million people are expected to descend on the U.S. Capital/National Mall area today for the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The city of almost 575,000 residents will be bursting at the seams. Hotels, rails, planes and buses have been booked for months. The DC Metro, the region's aging subway line, is expected to be operating non-stop.
As large as the crowds will be, they may appear even larger. The Reflecting Pool, located on the west end of the mall, is expected to give the appearance of six million onlookers.
"The pool is great for reflecting and will make it seem that the crowd is actually twice as big," said Jim Fletcher, Inauguration '09 senior security adviser. "Security will be ready for three million or six million."
Friday, January 16, 2009
Yesterday, a US Air flight made a water landing in the Hudson River near Manhattan. It is believed that the plane, an Airbus 320, struck a bird or several birds shortly after takeoff and suffered severe engine damage.
Unbelievably, there were no fatalities as the pilot glided the plane, keeping the nose elevated, into the icy cold river. As the plane began to take on water, after coming to rest, the 150-plus passengers and crew exited into the arctic air and onto the wings.
This is where US Air feels the pilot, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger, did not follow proper protocol.
"It's marked clearly on the wing:'This is not a step,'" said Charles Kapp, a US Air passenger relations official. "They're not meant for climbing or standing."
The wings together with jet engines (to propel the plane forward) are credited with making flight possible. Though extremely durable, the wing is a highly delicate section of the plane.
"The pilot did an incredible job of saving lives. He followed the guidelines for a water landing perfectly. We witnessed a miracle today," said Kapp. "Then he went and let the passengers stand on the wings."
Though no deaths or serious injuries were reported, several passengers were shaken up and taken to area hospitals both in New York and New Jersey.
"As the plane was going down I just kept saying to myself over and over, 'Please don't let this be the East River. Please don't let this be the East River,'" said passenger Gail Summers, 46, of Rye, NY. "Thank God we didn't land in the East River."
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Philadelphia Eagles will leave for Arizona and the NFC Championship game on Friday and they will not be staying in Phoenix during their time in the desert. Nor will they find accommodations in Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale or any other dale.
In fact, the team will not be in the Phoenix metropolitan area at all. They will be 360 miles to the northeast in the Four Corners area of Arizona.
Four Corners is the only point in the country that is shared by four states—Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. It's a popular destination for tourists wishing to stand, kneel or lie in four states at the same time.
Coach Andy Reid wants the team to bond and relax the night before the biggest game of the season. Most importantly though, Reid would like the team to stay out of trouble.
"I just want the guys to get rest. I'm not concerned if they want to run a passing route through Colorado or New Mexico or any other part of whatever," said Reid. "I'll go to war with these guys."
"If the coach wants quiet that's exactly what he's going to get," said Sandy Oliver, Four Corners director of tourism-Arizona division. "There's a golf course here that includes a hole where you tee off in Arizona, chip in Colorado, improve your lie in Utah (but don't lie) and putt in New Mexico. That's about it here in Four Corners."
The team hotel is all one building but half the players will be in Arizona and the other half in Utah. The Utah side of the resort has a 8pm lights-out policy.
The Four Corners Resort will arrange a golf outing and provide buses to the monument every fifteen minutes.
"I've always wanted to play four square on the Four Corners Monument," said David Akers, Eagles kicker, referring to the popular schoolyard game.
Akers and teammates can play four square, but not like the professionals. The team will miss the National Four Square Tournament by one week. For the first time the tournament will be held at the monument.
On Sunday the team will board a 9am flight in Teec Nos Pos, AZ for Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix; then be taken directly to the University of Phoenix Stadium for the game.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Former United States General Norman Schwarzkopf will be in attendance during Sunday's NFC Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, to watch Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald attempt to advance to his first Super Bowl.
The unlikely friendship began several years ago as both are graduates of Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, PA.
The two met in 2001, at an alumni and current student function, while Fitzgerald was attending Valley Forge. Fitzgerald had always wanted to meet the general whose action figure he regularly played with as a child growing up in Minnesota.
Schwarzkopf had long been a football fan and some have speculated that had he not been a five-star general that he would have pursued an NFL career. Stormin' Normin soon became the receiver's personal trainer, pushing the player to the extremes to make it to the NFL.
"Workout sessions were extreme. They would last ten hours a day and I would be mentally and physically exhausted afterwards," said Fitzgerald.
The 2002 VFMA graduate quickly soured on the general's methods claiming that some training sessions "did not make any sense." The general would force the player to practice firing a rifle or cleaning the showers with dental floss. This would seldom be followed by sprints and running pass routes.
Learning to operate tanks, hummers, half-tracks and jeeps (both windshield folded up and down) were all a common part of practice. Fitzgerald began to second guess the Gulf War hero's methods after running routes on a field containing live, submerged land mines. The University of Pittsburgh-bound player had seen enough.
"The NFL is tough and I was trying to prepare him to be a soldier of football. Eight times a season he is asked to invade another NFL stadium," said Schwarzkopf. "And that doesn't include playoffs."
"It was just weird. I mean I didn't see the relevance of grenades to football. At first I thought it was a Mr Miyagi/Karate Kid-type thing where I was unknowingly learning relevant skills. That, however, wasn't the case. I had to fire him. Can you imagine firing Schwarzkopf?" said Fitzgerald.
So fearful of the general was the wide receiver that he kept him as his trainer for another two months. The entire training relationship lasted two months and two weeks and was abruptly terminated by way of phone call from former Secretary of State Colin Powell (Fitzgerald,through VFMA connections, pleaded with Powell to carry out the firing).
"I've never been fired from anything in my life," said Schwarzkopf. "It took me a long time to get over [the firing]. My initial reaction was to get into a tank, but I didn't. I wished the kid all the best."
The two reconnected in the summer of 2008 after not speaking for almost six years. The general attended two Cardinals games this season and took in several team practices despite calling them "devoid of military tactics."
"He's the best receiver in the NFL ... and I'd like to think I had a little something to do with that," said an emotional general.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Somewhere near Douglas, Arizona—In the southern Arizona desert, near the Mexican border, Tom Russel quietly slid a walkie-talkie from his holster to call for backup. Russel had spotted what appeared to be a person illegally crossing the border into the United States.
It was Russel's first shift working solo and only his sixth day on the job as a U.S. Border patrolman. First year patrolmen are not usually asked to work alone, but recent crossings near Organ Pipe National Monument, some 200 miles to the west, demanded additional patrolmen from the Douglas base.
The patrolman first saw the apparent border crosser about an hour before sunrise. Until then Russel, situated about 20 yards away, was locked in a standoff when the person refused to lie down as standard Border Patrol procedure requires.
"At first I was like this guy is really cooperating," said Russel, an embarrassed rookie patrolman. "I thought he must have heard me coming because his hands were already in the air and he was as still as can be. But then he wouldn't lie down when I told him to."
It was not until sunrise that the officer realized he was attempting to negotiate with and apprehend a cactus for the past hour.
Two days after the incident Russel was reassigned to the Canadian border where he will spend a year in Sherwood, North Dakota questioning Americans returning with pharmaceuticals, hunting catches and higher alcohol content beer.
"I've never been north of Tucson," answered Russel when asked whether he looked forward to his new assignment.
Friday, January 9, 2009
The home video game system market is a multi-billion dollar global industry. Nintendo Wii, Mircosoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 have taken in impressive profits over the past several years. One game system dinosaur, however, ColecoVision (pictured), a popular home video game system in the early 1980's, is growing sour over a missed opportunity. The long defunct company is dreaming of what could have been.
In 1983 ColecoVision's sales began to plummet along with many other game companies' products during the 1983 video game crash. The company made a desperate attempt to save the product line.
In late 1983 ColecoVision approached Joe Klecko, defensive end, of the New York Jets about a possible partnership.
"We were fledgling and that was the best idea the marketing team could come up with," said Flip Herman, Coleco's vice president in 1983. "At the time, I called the idea Einstein-like."
The idea was to rename the entire game system after the New York Jets' sack master—KleckoVision.
Joe Klecko, a four-time Pro Bowler, was in the prime of his career in the early 80's. The southeastern Pennsylvania native had his number retired by the Jets and was part of the fearsome "NASDAQ Sack Exchange" defense.
"No," said Klecko, when asked his response to ColecoVision's proposal. "There was no way I was going to sign that deal. I didn't even know what ColecoVision was. I was too busy making sack lunch sandwiches out of quarterbacks. Looking back ... maybe I should have signed the deal."
ColecoVision claims they offered Klecko $500,000 plus annual profit sharing to attach his name to the video game system. Although, Klecko disputes this number saying it was closer to $5,000.
"Even now, almost 26 years later, I feel like it would have been a huge hit. Kids and adults would be playing KleckoVision and not Nintendo. I, er we, could have been game system millionaires."
ColecoVision's run ended in 1984 when it was pulled off the market. Klecko and former company executives have not spoken since 1983.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Completed in 1976, Giants Stadium, in northern New Jersey's Meadowlands, is home to both the New York Giants and New York Jets of the National Football League. The stadium is also home to the Metrostars of Major League Soccer. It is one of a handful of professional sports venues not to be named for a corporation. Or is it?
Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Soldier Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium in New York and Coors Field(named for Pete Coors) in Denver are a few stadiums that have resisted the naming rights temptation.
Some find it strange that the largest city (OK, near the largest city) and metropolitan area in the country would have a football stadium not take advantage of corporate dollars.
Word began to circulate yesterday that the stadium's owner, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, indeed was collecting "extra" revenue from the stadium.
"The amount [of money] coming in was not matching up with the number of events being held at the stadium," said New Jersey state attorney, Joshua Gillent. "Not even $65 parking could raise the numbers that high."
Apparently, under the radar, Giants Stadium went corporate six years ago.
"We wanted to keep with tradition and use the name Giants Stadium. But it was too difficult to turn down another source of revenue. I had to find a way around this," said NJSEA official, William Norwood.
Norwood admitted that he contacted Giant Food Stores, LLC, a supermarket chain headquartered in Carlisle,PA, about a possible naming rights contract. Norwood and Giant Foods soon reached a fifteen-year agreement for $7.5 million. The deal was signed in 2002 and included a clause permitting the venue to keep the 's' in the name.
Giant Food officials wanted the stadium's new name to be Giant Food Stores, LLC Stadium. However, Norwood convinced the growing supermarket chain that keeping the name Giants Stadium would better serve Giant Foods.
"We got duped. I'll admit it," said and anonymous Giant Foods executive.
Monday, January 5, 2009
The two largest malls in the United States made a friendly wager over yesterday's Eagles-Vikings wild-card playoff game. Officials from King of Prussia Mall (largest in retail space) and the Mall of America decided to make the friendly bet, similar to mayors of large cities, as a publicity stunt to help stimulate sluggish retail sales.
The King of Prussia Mall(KOP) is located in King of Prussia, PA, roughly twenty-five miles northwest of Philadelphia. The Mall of America (MOA) is located in Bloomington, MN, approximately thirteen miles south of Minneapolis.
"We're basically a city within ... a mall," said Gene Luftin, King of Prussia Mall's operating officer. "I have actually spent weeks here without leaving."
KOP bet a $25 GAP gift card, a $20 Auntie Anne's Pretzels gift card, and a box of treats from Cinnabon that the Eagles would win. MOA offered a $20 FYE gift card, a $25 Sunglass Hut gift card and a box of goodies from Arby's on the Vikings.
"I love Auntie Anne's so it was a tough bet to lose," said Rachel Halls, Mall of America's public relations director. "I feel a little better knowing that [MOA] has sixteen Auntie Anne's franchises."
Part of the bet also included that the loser must "hang out" at the winner's mall for a day and wear the opponents jersey.
"I guess I'll hang out in an Eagles jersey near the food court for eight hours. I hear there's a Chick-fil-A," said a disappointed Halls.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Minnesota government officials along with the NHL's Minnesota Wild are proposing a plan to host the 2010 Winter Classic. The Classic is an annual outdoor game between two NHL clubs held on January 1st. This year's game (only the 2nd Classic) features the Chicago Blackhawks versus the Detroit Red Wings at historic Wrigley Field (pictured below).
Last year's game was held in Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins during a heavy snowstorm that drew a record television audience.
Though Minnesota has no outdoor facility with the required seating capacity, the Wild, state and the city of Minneapolis are entering a bid for the game.
"We are proposing to hold the game inside the Metrodome but we would turn the heat off so that it would feel like we were outside," said Wild public relations director, Frank Morze.
Morze would not recognize the fact that the main purpose and the uniqueness of the game is that it is held outside, where most of the players learned the sport.
"Trust me," said Morze, in a stern voice,"the Metrodome gets pretty cold when the heat is turned off ... from what I've heard."
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is the home to both the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) and the Minnesota Twins (MLB) in Minneapolis, MN. The indoor stadium seats 64,111 spectators for football and is kept at a comfortable 72F degrees during games.
Minnesota, a U.S. hockey hotbed, produces a large contingency of players that feed the college, junior and NHL ranks annually.
Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest hockey player ever, was born in Canada but played many games against the Minnesota North Stars—now the Dallas Stars—during his career.
"It gets cold in Minnesota," said Gretzky,"So I bet that if the heat was turned off it would get pretty cold inside the Metrodome. An unheated dome could make for a classic Classic."