Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Struggling Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Matt Cassel has announced that he will change his last name in an attempt to ignite his sluggish 2009 start. The Chiefs traded for Cassel in the offseason after he led the Patriots to an 11-5 season in 2008. The young quarterback has battled injuries early on, but still holds high expectations even though the Chiefs are rebuilding.
"Starting tomorrow I will be known as Matt Casselbeck," said a confident Cassel. "I just need a change."
The new name should sound familiar to most NFL fans. Matt Hasselbeck is the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Though currently injured, Hasselbeck has experienced strong success in the NFL highlighted by the 2006 Super Bowl appearance against the Steelers--a 21-10 loss.
Cassel hopes that the similar name will bring similar success to the University of Southern California graduate and former Tom Brady backup in New England.
Casselbeck will not hyphenate the new addition to his last name like other NFL players have done.
"I decided against the hyphen," said Casselbeck. "I'm just hoping that I can, at the very least, lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl loss one day in the future."
Reports that Cassel originally wanted to add 'hoff' to his last name are unconfirmed.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The Detroit Lions (1-2) have finally done it. The city can breathe easier today. The football team that had lost 19 consecutive games dating back to 2007, including an 0-16 2008 campaign, won a game yesterday. The match up against the Bye Weeks (1-2) came down to the final play of the game and was celebrated by the home team as if it were the playoffs. Rob Zorn, head coach of the Bye Weeks, said,"It's like my team didn't even show up today. It's almost like it was our bye week." Lions players did not let the fact that it was their bye week take away from the hard fought victory. "You have to give the Bye Weeks credit," said Lions quarterback Matt Stafford. "They played hard and were able to put up 14 points on us."
Ford Motor Company has announced that it will be adding a new feature to all of its vehicles with steering wheel control buttons starting in 2010. These control buttons, including volume, seek, cruise control, fan and temperature, will each feature Braille lettering to give visually impaired drivers more say over interior climate, cruise speed and noise level. The raised dot alphabet, which was developed in France in 1821, will help drivers match buttons with functions more quickly and easily. In addition, the dashboard cover will be removed to allow the driver to feel the speedometer needle as the automobile moves. The speedometer numbers will be raised to assist the driver in roughly estimating his or her speed. "We are creating independence. The driver will no longer have to ask an accompanying passenger to turn the volume down, change the radio station or set cruise control," said Pete Ford of Ford Motor Company. "Or, more importantly, with the exposed speedometer needle and numbers, 'How fast am I going?'"
Friday, September 25, 2009
Michael Vick will play in his first regular season game in almost two years this coming Sunday. His journey back to professional athlete could not have occurred without the help of a trusted friend and adviser--a mentor, if you will.
Vick talked about his quest to find this mentor to guide his return to the playing fields of the NFL. Several months ago league commissioner Roger Goodell visited Vick in a Kansas prison and presented an idea to the former Atlanta Falcon and Nike spokesperson.
"Mr Goodell felt that having a mentor would help me deal with the obstacles I would face," said Vick. "We talked extensively about how to match me with the right individual."
On that same visit in May 2009 Goodell and Vick sat down, separated by 3-inch glass, and prepared a brief description of what they were looking for. The classified ad would then be posted on the popular craigslist website under the ETC category of the jobs section (the ad was later posted on monster.com).
Mentor/Guiding Person/Mentoring Mentor: Do you like the outdoors? Do you like to make money? Are you good with people? We are looking for a mentor for former NFL player. Must be interested in mentoring. Must have at least three weeks mentoring experience. Must have own transportation. Valid driver's license. Application deadline is June 1st. Reply with "Interested in this mentor thing" in the subject line. Do not call or fax.
Over the next several weeks hundreds of applicants with varied backgrounds applied for the position and Vick conducted phone interviews with the most qualified. The hundreds were narrowed down to eight, who then met with Vick and Goodell personally.
The finalists included: former Atlanta Falcons' coach Jerry Glanville, Simon Cowell's brother, former Seattle Seahawks' linebacker Brian Bosworth, NHL great Mario Lemieux, former Indianapolis Colts' coach Tony Dungy, Two members of the band Hanson and Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton.
"Jerry sent his application in early and really showed a lot of enthusiasm," said Vick. "He visited me in prison and we used Skype several times. Mario attempted to sway the decision with an autographed stick. Hanson seemed nervous at the interview. And Mary Lou was very organized, but Tony really blew me away."
We all know how this search ended. Vick and Goodell chose Tony Dungy who has been extremely successful in steering Vick back into the league and, most importantly, into Philadelphia communities and schools.
Notable applicants that did not make the final eight include: Montel Williams (who sent his application in one day after the deadline disqualifying the talk show host), the Dalai Lama, Tom Bosley, Michelle Kwan and Octomom. Pope Benedict XVI claimed the craigslist Vatican City site never posted the position.
"Honestly, it came down to Dungy and Simon Cowell's brother," said Goodell. "The fact that Tony coached a team whose mascot is a horse did not influence our decision in the least."
Tony Dungy will be in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to watch Michael Vick take his first step towards a second career and a second chance. The classy and well-liked Dungy, in a move to show respect toward mentor applicants not chosen, will be seated between Tom Bosley and Brian Bosworth.
"The Boz and The Boz will be with me," said Dungy. "Double Boz."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn tried unsuccessfully to contact Andy Reid, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles had just been handed a lopsided loss, 48-22, to the high powered Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
"That's not football," said Hawn, a Redskins fan, about the Eagles use of the wildcat gadget play during the nationally televised game. "They left Kolb looking like a Bird on a Wire."
The suddenly-popular formation often sees a running back or wide receiver line up in the quarterback position taking the snap directly from the center and either running or handing off the ball.
The star of the 1986 film Wildcats--about an inner city Chicago high school football team--was so insulted by the Eagles' execution of the wildcat formation, which, incidentally, is not part of the film, that she had to reach out to the coach.
Hawn feels that if the wildcat formation is executed poorly by teams, that shouldn't be implementing it in the first place, then DVD rentals and sales of Wildcats the movie could be negatively affected.
American Video and DVD Rental Association (AVADRA) executive Robert Nowry says the numbers show otherwise.
"Since last season, when the wildcat really reestablished itself in the NFL, rentals of the film Wildcats have risen sharpley," said Nowry. "Was it because of the wildcat or because Kate Hudson, Hawn's daughter, was recently digitally added into several scenes for the 23rd anniversary edition? We may never know."
Hawn went on to say that she respected what Reid was trying to accomplish--taking pressure of his young quarterback--but that the number of wildcat plays ran was Overboard.
When Ben Hales, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for the Saints, in an attempt to defend Reid, hinted to the media that Hawns' knowledge of football did not match her onscreen character's deep understanding of the game the actress shot back.
Hawn replied: "That's none of his business. My football knowledge is private, Benjamin."
Wildcats costars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes agreed with Hawn saying that the wildcat has its place and it is not Philadelphia.
"While working on the set of Cheers, and to some extent Natural Born Killers, [the cast] would often debate the wildcat formation and its legitimacy and effectiveness. Andy, you're killing my DVD rental profits," pleaded Harrelson.
Reid addressed the controversy with Hawn and Harrelson at a news conference earlier this week.
"I'm not gonna get in to all that right now," muttered the coach.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The feel-good baseball fan story of the year, a special moment between father and daughter, may have been altered some to make the moment even more special.
On Tuesday night in South Philadelphia during the Phillies-Nationals game outfielder Jason Werth fouled a pitch back toward Citizen Bank Park's upper deck. A fan in the first row leaned daringly over the railing and made a remarkable catch.
The often critical crowd cheered loudly with approval and the fan, Steve Monforto, awarded his young daughter the ball--who apparently thought it was an opposing teams' home run--who then threw it back towards the field. The crowd sighed and the heartwarming moment was all caught on tv.
What viewers at home didn't see, however, was what happened just after the little girl released the ball. It was at this point that Monforto lunged in an attempt to save the souvenir.
"It was the first foul ball I had ever caught and I really didn't want to lose it," said Monforto. "To be honest I didn't even realize a net was below. I figured the crowd on the first level would break my fall."
Monforto was quickly swallowed by the safety net (above photo) lining the edge of the upper deck, climbed out without the ball, as it had cleared the net, and embraced his daughter.
The television delay allowed the production team at Comcast SportsNet to edit out the diving father and only showed him hugging his daughter after he had climbed back into his seat.
"We felt it made a better story without the diving," said Comcast SportsNet's chief production manager, Garry Trumble. "I think we made the right call."
Monday, September 14, 2009
Ted Jones has finally admitted to his problem and that is all his bookie ever wanted. "I was going to confront him at the end of last year, but I decided to hold off to see if he would seek help in the offseason," said Greg Holstrim, Jone's bookie. Jones is a 2002 graduate of Grambling State University in Louisiana and has since relocated to Cherry Hill, NJ. After betting and losing $4,000 on Grambling's first football game, a loss at home to South Carolina State, Jones still did not seek help. "I do not have a Grambling problem," said the consultant at Daniels, Daniels and Ford, LLC in Palmyra, NJ. "It doesn't mean anything that I have bet on Grambling every game, no matter who they are playing, since 2002." Both friends and family finally confronted Jones on Wednesday hoping to thwart a bet for the Tigers' upcoming Saturday game against Northwestern State at home. The Tigers went on to win 38-17 and Jones collected $5,500. "Looking down and seeing all that money I realized I had a Grambling problem ... a serious Grambling problem."
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The NFL Season got started on Thursday night in a game that matched last year's regular season champs versus the playoff champs. The Steelers hosted the Tennessee Titans and, in a defensive battle, eventually won the game in overtime 13-10.
Pittsburgh, the city, experienced quite a year by capturing both the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup. The attention focused on the hockey and football team has left the baseball team almost forgotten. But the popular Steelers sent a message to area fans during the kickoff of the NFL season on Thursday by letting the Pirates perform an exhibition wiffleball game.
"Basically the Steelers were looking out for the Pirates and letting them showcase there talent," said Professor Baker Hildebrand of Carnegie Mellon University.
Fans cheered when catcher Ryan Doumit hit the plastic ball through the stadium's north end field goal posts and into the stands. Were they cheering the home run? "I was cheering the field goal kicking contest at the south end. Who's Ryan Doumit? Let's go Steelers!" said a jubilant Steeler fan.
For most of the Pirates this was the first time playing in front a of sold out crowd. But it will not be the last as the Pirates will also play a wiffleball game between periods of a Penguins' preseason home game (yes, on ice and they will not have skates).
Monday, September 7, 2009
The local nonprofit PhillyCarShare, which aims to reduce individual automobile ownership and dependence and promote car sharing on a community level in the Philadelphia region, has been purchased by Cher and Cher Alike, LLC of Los Angeles, CA. The same Cher and Cher Alike that is owned and operated by the world famous singer and actor Cher and a woman that looks very similar to the star.
The organization will eventually be renamed PhillyCarCher, but dates for the official name change have not been set. The organization’s new logo, however, has already been chosen (above photo) and will substitute the microphone with a key—the same key that currently adorns the sides of the nonprofit's fleet.
The Cher logo will be placed not only on the doors, but will appear on the hood, trunk, and underside of the vehicles. The singer's likeness will even be painted on to the numerous parking spaces scattered throughout the city.
The actress, who was turned down for a role in the film Who Killed the Electric Car and An Inconvenient Truth, has been a staunch supporter of car sharing and an environmentalist for years. She started LALALandCarCher in 2007 in Los Angeles, and, the following year, expanded to Anaheim (LALAAnCarCher) and San Diego (LALASanCarCher).
“It could be a very profitable nonprofit with my name attached,” said the singer from her home in Los Angeles. “This is a great day for Share and Cher Alike. Oops. I mean, Cher and Cher Alike, LLC.”
Officials at PhillyCarShare were excited about the takeover, hoping that the singer's star power will continue to grow the already large membership.
"It will definitely be exciting to have Cher around the office," said Renee Thomas, a PhillyCarShare board member, despite Cher strongly hinting that she will continue to live in LA. "I hope she sings at her desk. And if an employee is having a tough day I want her to say, 'Snap out of it.'"
Cher plans to keep the popular CDs containing music from local musicians that are provided by the nonprofit, but will add a plethora of her own CDs and DVDs for drivers to "rock out to."
"There will definitely be copies of Moonstruck, The Witches of Eastwick and Mask available for our customers," said Shirley MacAntyre, a PhillyCarShare rep. "But drivers will be placed on a point system. The more you drive, the more points you get and the more Cher merchandise you can receive."
At the end of each month, the driver with the most accumulated points will have the opportunity to take Cher along on a journey (no more than one hour) and have the singer perform live in the vehicle en route to the destination.
"Twelve times a year I'll be riding along with some Philly drivers. This is down right exciting," said Cher. "I will also act out scenes from my movies. But, I call shotgun for all trips."
Friday, September 4, 2009
The kicking didn't stop. Over and over again grown men were launching objects into its belly like a competition. To make matters worse a crowd looked on with anticipation at the brutality and later the vicious kicks were shown to a wider audience on television.
Sitting in his Waterfront Square condo Michael Vick became disgusted at the "highlights" he was viewing. The Philadelphia Eagles' newest quarterback was sick to his stomach and demanded answers. He wanted to know the facts. More importantly, he wanted to stop the improper treatment of Dallas' new stadium scoreboard.
Two weeks ago during a preseason game between the Tennessee Titans and the Cowboys at Dallas' new $1.1 billion stadium punter A.J. Trapasso struck the egregious video board with punt. Yes, he had attempted to hit the board in warm-ups and was successful, but this time he was not trying and it was fourth down.
"I really wasn't trying during the game," said a smiling Trapasso. "I swear it. I give you the punter's promise."
It has been said that the punters and kickers from both teams gathered on the field during warm-ups and bet each other whether or not they could hit the board, which is 90 ft above the turf. The FBI is apparently looking into the betting that may have seen anywhere from $10-$20 exchange hands, large sums for punter salaries.
So concerned is Vick that he has started PETOLS (People for the Ethical Treatment of Low-hanging Scoreboards). The nonprofit, operating out of Vick's living room, will keep a close watch on the future treatment of the giant video board. With only two paid staff at PETOLS this may difficult to accomplish.
"It's appalling," said Vick. "The way they were using footballs to beat the scoreboard made me nauseous. And the punters all had a good laugh about it, which makes it even worse."
Not everyone has been disappointed by what transpired in Dallas, at least not from what has indirectly resulted from the incident.
"This is what I meant when I said I wanted to see Michael get involved in the community and become active in a cause," said Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie. "This is being proactive. This is what I want. Few people know about the brutal treatment of low-hanging scoreboards in this and other leagues and Michael wants to change that."
Vick will be speaking to children in several Philadelphia elementary schools over the next several weeks to warn children about kicking footballs into overhead scoreboards. Lurie hopes to attend several of the meetings and support his fourth-string quarterback.
Though the Dallas scoreboard is the only one low enough in the league to be struck by a punt or kickoff at the moment Vick hopes to keep it that way.
"Right now it's the only board receiving this kind of treatment and I am willing to go to great lengths to make sure it is eventually raised," said an emotional Vick. "In the meantime I want the league to use Nerf footballs in Dallas during punts. PETOLS hopes to pay for those Nerf footballs."
The Virginia native also has reason to believe stadium maintenance crews are using electricity to power and water to clean the board.
PETOLS also plans to ad Tampa's Tropicana Field to it's list of abused stadium accessories. Tropicana Field contains numerous catwalks that are often struck by foul balls or high pops.
"So many people are telling me to slow down and concentrate on one scoreboard for the moment, but those catwalks are being mistreated too and so are the nets behind the field goals," said Vick. "But that's a whole other story."
To make a contribution to PETOLS visit: wwww.petols.corg/what/if/it/was/your/giant/scoreboard
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The Philadelphia Police Department has arrested Hank Tanner, 45, of Media, PA in connection with the laser pointer incident that took place at Citizens Bank Park back on July 25, 2009. Police also made four other related arrests, but would not release names of the men being held.
On the day of the incident the game between the Phillies and the St Louis Cardinals was halted for almost fifteen minutes while stadium crew members, security and outraged fans all searched the stands for the culprit. Umpires, players and coaches attempted to direct the search crew from the field (using laser pointers, nonetheless) towards the source based on the perceived angle of the fan's beam, which was somewhere behind the Phillies' dugout.
"Usually, a fan with a laser pointer is easily spotted by security or nearby fans and arrested on the spot," said Dale Higginsworth, head of Citizens Bank Park security. "It was a little embarrassing for us to not catch this person. We needed the help of fans."
This is where 12-year-old Phillies' backer Tommy Lenard comes in. The young fan was aboard U.S. Airways flight 498 from Charlotte, NC to Philadelphia and noticed a passenger sitting on the right side of the plane peering out the window and laughing heartily as the jetliner made its final approach into Philadelphia International Airport.
"The man was holding something and kept saying, 'Can you see it?'" said Lenard. "He was on a cell phone, which he shouldn't be doing anyway while the plane is in the air. And he had this real strong belly laugh."
Philadelphia's stadium complex is only a short distance from the city's airport where jetliners fly low just to the south of the Park during landings.
Lenard withheld his story until yesterday when, during his first day of school at Hannerhan Elementary School, the teacher talked to the class about the dangers of laser pointers.
"I went right home after school and told my parents about the guy on the plane and we called the police," said Lenard.
Tanner is believed to be the mastermind of the laser pointer plot, which, at this time, is said to have included up to four other individuals. Police say Tanner placed each accomplice on different planes with long range pointers all landing during the afternoon game. Security confirmed that the five men, including Tanner, match the number of targeted Cardinal players that were eventually "lasered" on that Saturday in July.
"These guys are good," said Detective Bob Gavinach, of the PPD. "This took months of planning and really good lasering. You don't see lasering like this anymore. Maybe in the mid 90's but not today."