Category: NFL (Page 3 of 7)

Romo Disappoints One More Time

I feel really ripped off. Deprived. Done wrong. For the past four or five months we’ve been anticipating watching Tony Romo play football for another team and taking the analyzing and dissecting of his game and his psyche to a whole new level. When Houston unloaded Brock Osweiler a few weeks ago, the foregone conclusion was that Romo would be the Texans’ starting quarterback. They were clearing space for Romo. Denver was interested, but Houston was Romo’s destination. And maybe his destiny. How much fun would that be?

I was already taking bets here in the church offices that whichever team Romo went to would finish 2017 with a better record than the Cowboys. I was already gearing up to watch Romo, with the league’s best defense and some of the NFL’s best receivers and the best coaching he’s had in his career, win a divisional playoff game for the first time. I was licking my chops at the absolutely delicious prospect of Jerry Wayne’s adopted son winning a Super Bowl for another team. How awesome!

But, no. I feel gypped. Cheated.

Tony Romo has walked away from Houston and from the Broncos. The Texans are legitimately a decent quarterback away from competing for a championship; Denver is not too far behind. But Romo doesn’t want to give it a shot. Both those teams are legitimate contenders. Both those teams want Romo. But Romo doesn’t want to do it. He wants to go into broadcasting.

I don’t blame him. It appears that Romo is smarter than I thought he was. It’s the right call for all the right reasons: personal health, a wife with a third child on the way, an unbelievable opportunity to immediately move into the top analyst spot at CBS. I get all that. It makes sense.

But Romo has ripped us off again. He’s failed to deliver to our expectations.

To be fair, Romo was trapped in the middle of the game of “chicken” between the Texans and Jerry Wayne. Houston was never going to give up a player or a draft pick to get Romo — the Cowboys don’t need Romo. But Jerry was never going to give Romo away for nothing in return. While both sides dug in and refused to blink, while Romo was flapping in the breeze, CBS apparently backed a truckload of money onto Romo’s lawn and he couldn’t refuse.

Jerry’s dream was to have Romo stay a Cowboy and be his incredibly overpaid backup quarterback to Dak Prescott. Unrealistic. Jerry’s worst nightmare was for Romo to go somewhere else — four hours south on I-45 — and actually win a Super Bowl! How delicious would that be?!!! Can you imagine!?!

We’ll never know. Romo has walked away from the chance. His last act as a Cowboy was to disappoint all of us one more time.

As for Houston, can they trade a number two draft pick to the Browns for Osweiler?



Jerry Wayne in the Hall of Fame

This post is about the weekend election of Jerry Wayne into the once-proud Professional Football Hall of Fame. I’ll add a few observations from last night’s Super Bowl at the end.

JerryJonesShirtCroppedSo Jerry Wayne is in the Hall of Fame.


I need to take a shower. And brush my teeth. And gargle. Twice.

Enshrining the Cowboys’ owner with the immortals in Canton values making money and turning a profit over winning football games and capturing championships. Jerry was elected solely on his ability to multiply cash. And it’s sickening.

JerryWayneHairGive Jethro all the credit in the world for buying the Cowboys for 140-million dollars in 1989 and turning them into the world’s most valuable sports franchise at four-billion-plus-dollars today. But at the same time, recognize that Jerry has driven one of the NFL’s marquee franchises into a 21-years-and-counting streak of complete irrelevance on the field. Honor Jerry Wayne for sticking it to the networks and raising the annual revenue the league takes in on television contracts to 44.5-billion dollars. But, keep in mind that the Cowboys have not won a divisional round playoff game since Toy Story was released as Pixar’s very first full-length animated movie. Sure, praise Jerry for sticking with Pepsi and wearing Nike and going with Miller Lite and putting on Papa John’s pajamas to revolutionize the way the NFL does marketing agreements and stadium deals. But don’t forget that he fired Jimmy Johnson for winning back-to-back to Super Bowls and hired Barry Switzer. And Dave Campo.

JerryHidesFaceYes, for more than two decades Jerry Wayne has made the NFL and all its team owners more money than they could have ever possibly dreamed. Jerry is a genius when it comes to making money. When it comes to stadium revenue, team marketing, club sponsorships, labor negotiations, and TV contracts, there’s no stopping Jerry Wayne. He’s going to win those games every time.

At the expense of his team on the football field. Every time.

The timing’s good for Jerry, huh? I wonder if Jerry had been eligible last year, when the Cowboys were 4-12, if he would have received the votes. What if his name didn’t appear on the ballot until next season when Dallas will be playing a bunch of division winners on its schedule instead of this year’s cellar dwellers? Would he still be elected?

JerryWaynePicksJerry has demonstrated over and over that making money is a whole lot more important to him than winning championships. He proves it every year. He’s fond of saying that nobody ever really owns the Cowboys; one only takes care of them for a while before passing them on. When that day comes, the Cowboys will be richer in the bank than when he first took over, but in far worse shape on the field.

The Hall of Fame inducted Tex Schramm and Tom Landry for building a dynastic team that posted 20-straight winning seasons, went to Super Bowls, won championships, and captured America’s heart with its dramatic performances of grace and power on the field. Now the Hall of Fame has inducted Jerry Wayne for making a whole lot of money for the NFL owners. The fact that he’s destroyed the on-field product in the process doesn’t seem to matter.


All credit to Brady and Belichick and the Patriots’ D. Let’s recognize that coming from 25-points down to win the Super Bowl is a monumental achievement. Let’s acknowledge that holding the wild Falcons’ offense to zero points over the final nineteen minutes is an incredible accomplishment. But let’s never forget that Atlanta cost themselves the trophy. They gave it away.

I don’t pretend to know all that happens on the field and on the sidelines, in and in-between the huddles, in the headsets, and player-to-player. I know it must all happen extremely fast. But coaches and quarterbacks do things all the time that make no sense.

For example, at the end of the game-winning drive in overtime, after the pass interference in the end zone, on first and goal at the one yard line, why did Tom Brady throw a fade route to the corner? It was nearly picked off! One more half-a-step and the linebacker intercepts and the Falcons get the ball at the 25! Atlanta’s defense has been on the field for more than 40-minutes. They’re clearly exhausted, they’re on their heels, they’ve got nothing left. Just run it up the middle and win the game. Just run the ball. They did that on second down. But because they attempted a pass on first down, they almost didn’t get the chance.

Back to the Falcons choking away the game.

Atlanta’s up by eight points and they’re at the New England 22-yard-line with 4:40 to play in the game. That’s a 39-yard field goal to go up two scores. If you run the ball straight up the gut three times in a row, then kick the points, you’re got an eleven-point lead with less than two minutes to play. The only thing you absolutely cannot do is go backwards 23 yards!

So they lose one yard on the first run. And then they panic. Ryan attempts a pass and he’s trapped for a 13-yard sack. Then another pass play with a ten yard holding penalty. Then the punt. Then the loss. If they run the ball, they win the game. Instead, they tried passing. And they lost. They went for the mile when an inch would have won the championship.

Like Pete Carroll and the Seahawks two years ago. Just run the ball and win the game.

Don’t give me what we heard from the Atlanta coaches and players last night: “That’s not our offense. We’re always looking to move the ball downfield and score points. We weren’t trying to squeak out a three-point win, we’re trying to play our style, play our game.”

Knowing how to close out a game, how to milk the clock and kick a championship clinching field goal, should probably be added somewhere next year in the Falcons’ playbook.


For my money, with a nod to Turbo Tax’s Humpty Dumpty and T-Mobile’s Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg ads, my three favorite commercials from last night were Skittles, Busch Beer, and the Intel ad featuring Tom Brady. When he snatched that dropped pancake off the floor and away from his dog…



Football (mostly) Links

To hold you over until my traditional Labor Day game-by-game prediction of the upcoming Dallas Cowboys football season, I’m providing you with links to two outstanding pieces that are (mostly) about football. Both of these articles are “must read.”

First, let’s go to the Colin Kaepernick national anthem protest that has ignited a DEFCON4 firestorm of outrage and controversy. (First, take a very, very deep breath. Now, exhale. And read quietly to yourself.)

ColinKaepernickAnthemI have never, ever, one time, ever agreed with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about anything. Ever. But I find myself completely down with Cubes and his angle on Kaepernick’s silent sit-in during The Star Spangled Banner. Cuban tweeted earlier this week, “He didn’t throw a bomb, fire a shot, start a riot, throw a punch, shut a business, yell at someone, troll anyone. He just sat there quietly.”

Thank you. I don’t understand how a person is supposed to protest in this country. We scream and yell and condemn any person who uses violence or vandalism as a protest, and rightly so. We see far too much of it, daily it seems, in the United States. Violence or vandalism or any other type of law-breaking as an act of protest cannot be condoned or allowed. Non-violent protests and silent sit-ins have always been the most honored and traditional and effective and respected forms of protest in the short history of this country. His protest is by the time-honored and approved method, right?

Plus, has anybody noticed the terrible hypocrisy of condemning professional and college athletes for not speaking out on political matters, for not using their voices to effect positive change, and then ripping them to shreds when they do? Now, the pig socks are out of bounds. Not cool. I lose respect for what Kaepernick’s doing, and what he’s doing loses credibility, because of those obscene socks. That’s name-calling and labeling and generalizing and insulting — the very things he’s supposedly protesting. It’s not OK. I’m not good with the socks as a form of protest. They’re mean-spirited and do nothing to foster conversation and debate. But is a celebrity/athlete supposed to speak out or not? It seems they’re brewed either way.

Lastly, and most importantly, as Christians, where are our/your priorities? Or, asked another way, why don’t we Christians get just as upset when we catch somebody talking or texting during the singing of “How Great Thou Art?” Why aren’t we Christians reposting Facebook memes ripping to shreds people who don’t take off their caps when we pray? Why are we followers of Christ so over-the-top incensed about someone not “showing respect to the American flag,” yet we don’t give it a passing thought when someone walks out of a baptism service or gets up to use the restroom during the reading of Holy Scripture. Why are our priorities so out of whack?

OK. That’s my angle. That’s not the “must read” stuff. The really good article that puts a lot of this in a wider perspective is written by Sports Illustrated columnist Charles P. Pierce. He gives us a brief and entertaining history of the American anthem, a thorough examination of the politics of The Star Spangled Banner, and a balanced view of the Kaepernick mess. You can click here to get to the excellent article.


TonyRomoJerseyThe other article you have to read this weekend is the cover story to the current issue of Texas Monthly. It’s by Michael J. Mooney about Tony Romo. It’s called “The Last Best Hope of Tony Romo.” It was written one week before Romo broke his back on the third play of last Saturday’s preseason game in Seattle. It’s a wonderfully written preview of Romo’s upcoming season, imagining the best and the worst of what’s possible. This is the year Romo writes his legacy. It’s genius. Looking back now, it’s genius. Romo detractors will glory in the piece; Romo supporters will, too. It’s wonderful and tragic, at once beautiful and horrible — just like Romo. You can click here to read the full article.

(Before you click on that “comments” link up there… take a deep breath…)



Manning’s Ring

PeytonManningSB50It must be really weird to have every reporter on every network and satellite TV station and every columnist in every American newspaper calling for your retirement, even speaking of your retirement as if it’s a foregone conclusion, as if doing anything other than retiring would be an act of sheer lunacy. It must be strange to win a Super Bowl, to achieve the highest pinnacle of your profession, and before the confetti all hits the ground to hear your own co-workers speak publicly on national television as if you’ve already moved on. It must be odd to read your own obituary.

Yes, in my head I believe Peyton Manning should probably retire from the NFL. Old age (he’s 39?!!?), neck surgeries, and the accumulated football mileage are compelling reasons on their own. Add to that list the fact that he just won his second Super Bowl trophy, that he has now become only the twelfth quarterback in history to win multiple Super Bowls, and the first and only to do it with two different franchises, and it’s a no-brainer.


But doesn’t it seem strange to talk about it as if it’s already happened? To talk about it while he’s standing right there beside you? It’s almost like we want to get rid of him. “He won the Super Bowl! Great! He deserves to go out that way! It’s perfect for him to end his career this way!”

“He doesn’t have the arm strength he once did. He can’t move like he used to. He was the lowest rated quarterback in the NFL during the regular season. He can’t make the plays anymore. He needs to retire and, now that he’s won the Super Bowl, he can do it with dignity.”

Yeah, maybe.

I wonder if Peyton doesn’t just feel weird about everyone assuming his retirement, I wonder if he resents it.

What if Manning meets with his doctors in a few weeks and they tell him he’s completely healed? What if he has a really good couple of months here — physically, emotionally, psychologically? What if he believes in his heart he can study the film and tweak some mechanics and work extra hard and start for some team in the NFL next year that’s just one good quarterback away from competing for the Super Bowl? If he put in the time and did the work and some team wanted him to start for them, would we be opposed to that? Would it take away from Peyton’s dignity? What if he believed in the team in Denver and loved his teammates in Denver and wanted to practice the all-for-one team philosophy he’s talked and walked during his entire career and agreed to backup and mentor Osweiler or whoever else they bring in to start? Would we like him any less? Would that mean he had less dignity?

The stats say Manning didn’t have a great game last night. His numbers are a little less than average. They’re probably the worst numbers of any Super Bowl winning quarterback in the past thirty years, if not in all of Super Bowl history (I’d have to look up Trent Dilfer). His passes seemed to float. I’m not sure he ever threw deep. Didn’t Denver go a dozen drives in a row without a first down? So we say, “Peyton obviously doesn’t have it anymore. It’s good that they won the Super Bowl so now he can retire.”

Wait. How do you measure what Peyton Manning brings to that Broncos locker room, what he brings to the huddle, what his experience and his football brilliance bring to the field immediately before and immediately after every snap? I’m not making an argument for Denver to sign Manning as their starting quarterback for next year. But I am thinking we probably should all take a deep breath and tap the brakes a little bit on his riding off into the sunset. Slow down. What’s the rush? Are we that eager to lose Manning so we can replace him with more Cam Newtons? Why are we in such a hurry to trade Manning for a Manziel or Kaepernick or Bradford? Can we just enjoy what we witnessed last night for a week or two first?

It was fitting. It was good. It was unexpected and, in a football kind of way, strangely poetic. Manning’s gracious and self-deprecating responses to every question last night should be savored. His hard work and dedication to being the best version of himself for his teammates in the biggest game of their lives should be appreciated. The standup way he speaks well of others, the way he doles out credit to everyone around him, the gratitude he expresses at every turn, should be noted and celebrated.

Yes, Manning is probably going to announce his retirement in the next couple of months. But, why is everybody in such a hurry?


SuperBowl2016Congratulations to Perri Harper, the winner of our Jars/Jericho Bible Class Super Bowl Sweepstakes. Perri chose/guessed correctly on 29 of the 50 proposition bets all of us considered before kickoff. The contest gives just as much weight to knowing if Lady Gaga will wear short sleeves or long sleeves while singing the national anthem and whether the first commercial after the second half kickoff will be for Doritos or beer as it does to knowing if a two-point conversion will be attempted and who will be the leading rusher. Perri becomes the first female to take home the Bentley Trophy, where it will probably sit on a shelf next to Perri and Clay’s Central New Members of the Year Award from 2014. For the record, Connor Landon finished with 27 points while his brother Braden and Bruce Tidmore tied for third with 26.



Just Give It To Lynch!

If you were on the one yard line and needed that one yard to score the touchdown that would win the Super Bowl and make you champions of the NFL; if you had fifty seconds on the clock and a timeout in your pocket and three tries to get it in; and if you could choose any running back in the whole league to attempt to run it in for you; what would you do?

You would choose Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and you would hand the ball off to him three straight times and win the Super Bowl. You would do that. I would do that. All of us would do that. We wouldn’t even blink. Seattle coach Pete Carroll could have made that call in between smacks of gum.

But he didn’t. Because he inexplicably called the pass that was intercepted and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, Brady and Belichick and the Patriots are being heralded as one of the greatest franchises in NFL history. And it’s sickening to me. If Carroll chooses to win the game instead of giving it away, the Patriots today are in a conversation that includes the Bills and the Giants, not the Steelers and 49ers and Cowboys. If Lynch runs it in and wins the game, Brady is not being compared today to the likes of Bradshaw and Montana. He threw two really bad picks yesterday, for crying out loud. If Seattle does what all 70,000 people in the stadium and all 114-million TV viewers knew they should have done, Belichick today would not be classified with the likes of Bill Walsh and Chuck Noll. Man, one play like that — and it’s not fair — can change the whole national conversation and perception of entire franchises forever.

Wild finish for sure. If you were watching, you’ll never forget where you were and who you were with when Wilson threw that goal line pick.


Last night’s Jericho / Jars of Clay Super Bowl Party at John Todd’s place saw another dynasty in the making take a tremendous fall from grace. Two-time defending champion of our proposition bets contest, Scott Bentley, went down hard to new champion James Vaughan. James squeaked out a dramatic one-point win over Kristi Landon when Tom Brady, in his MVP acceptance speech, mentioned his teammates before he mentioned the Patriots fans. Since Scott won the first two Super Bowl prop contests, the trophy will forever be called the Bentley Trophy in the same way they named the Super Bowl trophy after the guy who won the first two. But today it resides in the office of James Vaughan. For the record, Roger Kysar came in third and Wendy Miller finished dead last. And the upstairs meeting space at Premier Vision is an excellent place to watch a football game.


When your daughter’s a Senior, almost everything that happens has that “this-is-the-last-time-this-will-ever-happen” feel to it. So it was with the annual Sandie Revue this past weekend. The annual variety show is the largest and most extravagant of the Amarillo High School choirs’ programs. And Valerie not only wound up in the loudest yellow dress at the very front and center of the major numbers, but she and three of her choir mates teamed up to perform a wonderfully moving rendition of “Something in the Water.” The song is about the transformation that occurs at baptism. They ended it with a beautifully blended a cappella verse from “Amazing Grace” that captivated the audience until the very last note. I don’t think it was just the dad holding the cam-corder who had tears in his eyes.

Before and after the water song, Valerie was all smiles and even a few laughs while she sang and danced with her choir mates to a bunch of Motown Classics that all the kids think are cool again. Nice. We love watching our girls do things they really enjoy and that they’re really good at. Watching Valerie sing is one of those great joys for her parents.



4 Amarillo Video

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Tom Henke…

The video from our “4 Amarillo” Thanksgiving Service at First Baptist back on November 24 is finally up and running now on our Central church website. To see the 67-minute service, from Burt Palmer’s welcome (“Take a moment to greet your neighbor because this is what heaven is going to look like!”) to the acappella singing of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” at the close, just click here. Burt’s welcome comes at the 6:30 mark after the opening hymn. At the 11:25 mark, you can watch me jump off my seat in the front row to attend to Chloe. The cameras missed her nearly blacking out and stumbling off the stage, almost nailing the piano and taking out the strings section on her way to a stair well at the side of the room. She was OK. But we keep bringing it up at small group. You can watch Kevin lead the 130-member combined choir and the rest of the congregation in “Mighty to Save” at the 12:30 mark. And, yeah, as always, he finished it strong. Really strong. My sermon, “So the World May Believe” starts at the 34:50 point. Burt totally takes things over and freaks out all four worship leaders at 62:00. And we sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” at 65:00 . And, by the way, you Central folks will be shocked at how many times you’re going to see yourself. First Baptist has half a dozen cameras just on the crowd. They did a great job recording and editing this thing.

Whoa, what a night. More than 1,100 in the room on a freezing cold evening with snow and ice and on the streets. It was significant. It was historic. It mattered. And, just like our Lord promised, people have noticed. It’s funny, our churches have tried for centuries in a variety of ways and with varying levels of success to evangelize the world and expand the Kingdom. The only thing we’ve never tried is the one thing our Lord promises will work. Unity. Christian unity. Putting aside our minor differences and celebrating the countless things we share in common in Christ. The city of Amarillo is noticing. Christ is being preached in word and deed and our Father is receiving the glory. Amen.


One of the classiest professional baseball players I ever had the privilege to know and to cover, Michael Young, has retired from baseball. After fourteen years in the major leagues, thirteen of them with the Texas Rangers, Young is calling it quits. He hung ’em up today at the Ballpark in Arlington with a .300 career batting average, 2,375 hits, seven All Star appearances, and one Gold Glove. He is the all-time — ALL-TIME!!! — Rangers franchise leaders in games played, hits, doubles, triples, and runs scored. He never went to the disabled list one time in his career. He was arguably the most consistent player in baseball during the past 14 years. And one of the all-time nicest guys.

Click here to read Sports Illustrated’s excellent article about Young’s career achievements. Click here to read Evan Grant’s article about Young always being a Texas Ranger. Click here to Richard Durrett’s outstanding piece on Young’s leadership in the Rangers clubhouse.

When I first began covering the Rangers as a reporter and then Sports Director at KRLD in 2001, Michael Young was the quiet, unassuming newbie, willing to play wherever and whenever it could help the team. I worried when A-Rod was assigned two lockers in that corner of the clubhouse right next to Young. I worried when Rodriguez and Young would sit quietly in that corner after every single game, win or lose, and talk together for ten or fifteen minutes before they would speak to any of us reporters. I would think to myself, “Please, don’t let A-Rod rub off on Michael!”

No way.

Young quickly developed into the leader of the Rangers franchise and stayed that way to the very end. Not one arrogant or self-serving bone in his body. Never. He always took responsibility for miscues in the field and always deflected praise when things were going really well. He would talk to us and answer our lame questions after 11-3 losses and after four-game sweeps of the Yankees. He was always there. Always good. Always right.

Congratulations to Michael Young on a great career. And thanks to Michael Young for doing everything the right way.


For your pre-Super Bowl reading, I highly recommend this interesting and insightful article by Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News regarding the use of the term “12th Man” by the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are only able to use the term, which has long been trademarked by Texas A&M, by means of an exclusive licensing agreement with the Aggies. In the agreement, consumated by a $100,000 payment to A&M and maintained by a $5,000 annual fee to the school, the Seahawks and the NFL acknowledge the rightful ownership of the term by Texas A&M. And the Aggies hold full decision-making control over how the Seahawks can and cannot use it. Kate’s column outlines all the do’s and don’t’s of the deal, including some of the ways Texas A&M polices the arrangement. Apparently, the deal expires in 2016 and, with the Seattle franchise doing quite well for themselves, the Aggies are already devising ways to benefit even more.



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