I was asked recently why I write articles that focus on celebrities and their foundations and charities. Many have asked why I am drawn to those that are centered around children’s health, education & overall well being. For me the answer is simple. As a person who has worked in the educational field for many years; Early Childhood Education to be exact; these causes have always been especially close to my heart. This is why I have chosen to focus on someone who has dedicated her life to children, Marie Osmond.
Marie is an amazing talent and a champion of children’s causes, all the while being a wife, mother, entertainer, business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. I have found she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Her foundation is The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) and Marie has made it her mission to help children everywhere!
The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was founded in 1983. The founders were Marie Osmond along with The Osmond Family, Actor John Schneider, Joe Lake and Mick Shannon. It’s a nonprofit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals and on going medical research that gives attention to overall community awareness in both The United States and Canada.
The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals puts on a telethon every year, on the first weekend in June. The telethon is known as “A Celebration of Real Miracles” and it is hosted by Marie and John Schneider. The telethon is televised in several markets throughout the country. To date, they have raised billions of dollars that are distributed through out the hospitals in the Network.
If you would like more information on this very special foundation please visit either cmnhospitals.org or you can go to childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org
You can also get information from Marie’s website marieosmond.com
By Check. Write your check out to CMN Hospitals and put ATTN: if there is a specific hospital, corporate partner or fundraising program you’d like the check attributed to. To find your local CMN Hospital. Mail checks to CMN Hospitals 205 West 700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
Go to website to see what partners for your local CMN Hospital are doing in your community to help kids.
Give your Delta SkyMiles. – firstname.lastname@example.org Subject line: SkyWish Donation: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“Hanx” gets it. When so many athletes and celebrities get very full of themselves due to their fame, Tom Hanks knows his place in this world. He never looks down on people and treats people with respect and that is rare among the rich and famous. Tom Hanks is a true Oakland Raider fan, and a good guy.
(Below the late Michael Clarke Duncan thanks Tom Hanks for his humble support)
As I said in many writings, some Raider fans don’t fit in with the rest of the NFL fandom, and neither did Tom. In interviews he talked about growing up and how he was disliked by students and teachers alike, and that he was geeky and unpopular. Even though he was extremely shy, he was also the one that would blurt out something funny during a film or class activity. He said he was responsible, and didn’t get into much trouble though. He purposely would go to plays by himself always reading the program and then engulfing himself into the story and the moment. He worked hard at his craft.
He went to Skyline High in Oakland during the early to mid 70’s when there was a lot of turmoil in society. He then went to Chabot College in Hayward before going to Sacramento State. He loved the Raiders his entire life.
The NFL and Hollywood:
I did a lot of research on the NFL and Hollywood and it’s pretty amazing how many players have been in the movies and on the television screen. In the 1970’s Merlin Olsen was epic as Jonathon Garvey on the Little House on the Prairie Series with Michael Landon. He was so naturally talented as an actor they gave him his own short lived series in Father Murphy. A member of the fearsome foursome in family television.
Then you have the great Alex Karras who also was a gifted actor. He played the father on Webster and was in Blazing Saddles and Victor Victoria. A little known fact is that he was the one of the final cuts to play Carlo Rizzi in the Godfather.
(below is Ben Davidson as Rexor v.s. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian. Ben and Rexor have become cult icons with a huge following)
The Iconic Jim Brown was in the Dirty Dozen and many other films, and Vikings running back Ed Marinaro was amazing in one of the greatest shows of all time, Hill Street Blues. There are a lot more that in the future I will write about. No team in history though has more people in the big or small screen than the Raiders.
Raiders Invade Hollywood:
Fred Williamson is the Raiders and NFL icon all-time when it comes to Hollywood. The “Hammer” and ex-Raider has been in over 115 movies and tv shows and is still working at 80 years old. Carl Weathers, the former Raiders linebacker became famous playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky classics. Ben Davidson was in the M.A.S.H. movie as well as Conan The Barbarian. He also made waves when he did a porn movie (he was fully clothed and did no sex) which got him hate mail from across the country. Many other Raiders have been in films and television and they were hugely popular on talk shows and commercials. Even with the Raiders glory years decades past, Tom Hanks put the icing on the cake in honoring his team in the 1996 film, “That Thing You Do”.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s Tom Hanks was at a crossroads. After his meteoric rise, he had 4 straight flops and was looking to get back on top. In 1992, he asked talented director Penny Marshall for a chance to play Jimmy Dugan in the movie “A League of Their Own”. Dugan was a washed up ex-baseball star whose career was cut short by his drinking. Marshall; who is as soft and sweet as a cactus at times; gave him the part and made him earn his way through the movie. Tom Hanks hit a home run in this classic, and from there went on to do some of his timeless films.
In 1996, Tom took to writing and directing his first film in “That Thing You Do”. A sweet movie about a musical group going from garage band to stars. He needed to choose a place for the musical numbers that had history and that could show how the 1960’s music scene really was during those times.
Hanx chose the famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood. In keeping with the history of the club, he honored ex Oakland Raiders LB Phil Villapiano by naming it after him. Villapiano’s became a key place in the film. Here is the famous fight scene from the movie at Villapiano’s.
Here is Tom Hanks mentioning Villapiano’s on the Red Carpet with his lovely wife Rita Wilson.
Why is This So Important and Where is Villapiano’s?:
What’s funny is that online movie fans have argued, what venue was used as Villapiano’s and where is it? I’ve searched various sites and did some digging and the site for Villapiano’s eventually was found out to be the iconic Palomino’s, and he couldn’t have picked a better place to name Villapiano’s. This place was once called The Grand Ol’ Opry West. Just like the Whiskey a Go Go and many other LA hotspots back in the day, this launched many a musical career and was the place to be.
The history of this place is historic. In true Raider form, the Palomino was originally called the MuleKick. Before the Palomino opened in 1949, the MuleKick was a blue collar neighborhood bar that was frequented often by the ex-country and western film actors and stuntmen of the 1930’s and 1940’s that mostly lived there. The clientele was friendly but gruff, hard working and hard drinking. Country Music Star Hank Penny bought the place and changed the name to the Palomino.
Many famous stars like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson performed to packed crowds. Below is a rare shot of Willie Nelson performing at the Palomino in 1970.
Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan and even Elvis Pressley would play unannounced sets to the crowds whenever they would drop in. In the 70’s and 80’s it became a haven for the Hair Band and rock band era with many of the hottest bands in the country playing there. Bands like Quiet Riot and the Red Hot Chili Peppers would hone their craft and create a groundswell of support, launching their careers.
(Below is a great performance from the Palomino Club by Jerry Lee Lewis with a very candid interview of the “Killer” afterward.)
Tom Hanks knew the history of the Palomino, and it was a match made in heaven to choose this venue to call Villapiano’s. Hanx grew up in the east bay during the Santa Rosa Oakland Raiders training camp days and no team was as hard drinking and hard living as the Oakland Raiders and their ring leader Phil Villapiano. Ben Davidson, Phil and Ken Stabler would have fit in this bar like a fish to water.
For anyone that grew up in the 1970’s, they remember how the Raiders were everywhere. Their winning was done in such a charismatic way that it attracted fans, the NFL, and Hollywood. For Tom to use Phil’s name in the movie just shows how much he loves the team of his youth.
So grab a glass of your favorite adult beverage, put on your favorite Raider jersey and check out “That Thing You Do” if you haven’t already. And most of all give a toast to Tom Hanks and Phil Villapiano and all of the Raiders of the past. And enjoy the fact that Tom Hanks immortalized the Raiders and Phil Villapiano, in a way only Hollywood can.
After the Raiders 16-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, there were more questions than answers in Oakland. The Raiders have fallen to 2-2 and this was supposed to be a part of the schedule that was easier than the daunting last 7 games of the season. Let’s look at what has happened the last 2 weeks for the Raiders and how they can fix it.
Washington’s defense played a great game and Denver’s defense is getting back to being dominating, but both teams made adjustments that most teams are sure to do in the future.
Last year, teams were afraid of giving up the deep ball to the Raiders. Almost all teams played off the WR; sometimes 10-15 yards; often giving up easy passes. For all his annoying sayings and talking up each player like they are all headed to the hall of fame, Tony Romo gets what is going on. “Teams are taking away the easy short passes the Raiders are used to getting”, he said in the 4th quarter.
First off, for fans complaining about play calling, remember that Derek Carr is the last coach on the field. He can change the play anytime he wants so if the play is not a good one, he needs to change it. That’s one thing that separates great QB’s from really good ones.
In regards to the passing game, Washington and Denver both played physical, press coverage. For newer fans that means that the DB’s play on the line of scrimmage and are in the WR faces to not allow for easy passes. The last two weeks NOTHING has been given to the Raiders passing game and they are struggling big time.
And no EJ Manuel didn’t all of a sudden play great when Carr struggled. Carr is still really good. What did Denver do when EJ Manuel came into the game? They did what most NFL coaches do; they got conservative and almost blew it. They stopped playing press coverage and it allowed the Raiders to get back into the game. Yes the cover 2 defense helped seal the win with the last interception when the Safety came over to help, but it also allowed Manuel to hit wide open targets who weren’t open at the start of the game. The Broncos kicker missed an easy kick and Denver got conservative which almost cost them the game.
How do you beat press coverage? You throw deep. The Raiders have a lot of speed with Johnny Holton, Cordarralle Patterson, Amari Cooper, and Jared Cook is also fast at TE and can get deep. Wheel routes to the RB’s also would work. Teams have adjusted to the Raiders offense and now they have to make changes. The Raiders are pretty much running the same offense as last year and they need to get that most teams are going to risk getting beat with the deep ball, by stopping their short and medium passes.
Amari Cooper has to step up. He is a talented but passive person and the Raiders lose their mojo and aggressiveness when Michael Crabtree is not in the game. Cooper has to establish himself as the deep threat that he was in his rookie year. When the Raiders start stretching the field with the deep ball, now you pound the ball with 4 quality running backs. A sweep once in a while with those two quality guards pulling isn’t the dumbest idea either.
The OL of the Raiders has basked in a little bit of glory due to their mild success, but they have to get back to work and be physical and play to their potential. This is the engine of the Raiders. If they play well, so do the Raiders. They have to step up and just get back to playing like they are capable of. No real changes other than quality play is needed. Many publications have pointed out that 25% of the Raiders salary cap was spent on the offensive line. No team has spent more money on their OL. This unit is not as good as last year for some reason. Where teams often blitzed last year, that is no longer the case. All night Denver and Washington got to Derek Carr rushing only 4 players. If you get to Carr he struggles like he did with Washington and Denver. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger can handle big rushes, but Derek Carr doesn’t have that skill.
If your passing game isn’t working, teams stop respecting the deep ball and the DB’s play up close to the line. If they are afraid of the deep ball the DB’s play back worrying about getting beat deep. With a bad passing game, the run game becomes predictable.
The play calling has been just that at times, but the run game has also not been the same due to the OL’s poor play and the lack of success in the passing game. Where the Raiders wore teams down, they now struggle running the ball when they have to. The Jets are awful and the Titans defense just gave up 57 points to a rookie QB, but Washington’s is pretty good and Denver’s is elite. The Raiders should handle Baltimore next week but against the better defenses, they need to make adjustments.
Carr HAS to have time. He was the best protected QB in the NFL last year and it wasn’t a coincidence he had an amazing year.
Jack Del Rio said it several times in interviews this off season. “We just haven’t put in the money into our defense. To our defense there isn’t enough money to go around”. This is why teams of today always have some kind of weakness. Khalil Mack is the only player getting to the QB for four quarters. For whatever reason, Mario Edwards looks great in the first quarter of games and then he disappears. If Khalil Mack ever got hurt, this DL would be scary to watch and that’s in a bad way. Many teams do not double team Mack and I think that’s crazy. He is Oakland’s only consistent pass rusher.
The LB’s are struggling big time in pass coverage and aren’t exactly dominating against the run. Trevor Siemian is not a good QB and at times the Broncos seem lost with their play calling. When they tried to run the ball exclusively they struggled. When they started to pass the ball they opened up the run game. Overall Denver’s offense isn’t that good, but the Raiders have good offenses to play in their future.
The DB’s played better but Siemian missed several passes. Emmanuel Sanders was wide open up the middle twice for long passes but Siemian wasn’t even looking at him. The Raiders pass defense struggled again. When teams start passing to their RB’s and TE’s the Raiders are toast because their back 7 can’t cover them. They are going to have to continue to mix up their schemes with blitzes and zones and just hope for the best.
The State of the AFC West:
It’s obvious for right now that the KC Chiefs are the best team in this division. Their offense is better and they can beat you with their quick passing game or their run game. With Justin Houston playing well, their pass rush is back to form. With a deep throwing new hot shot QB breathing down his neck, Alex Smith has finally started to throw deeper passes which has opened up their offense. KC plays Washington tonight, which was the same team that dominated the Raiders so it will be interesting how they do.
Phillip Rivers is a media darling but he’s overrated. He is the poster boy for today’s NFL. The rules have allowed even average QB’s to get pinball passing numbers which makes them look better than they are. The Chargers now have gone 24 straight games without a 2 minute drill touchdown and no team has struggled in the second half and the fourth quarter more than the Chargers over the years. I was ripped on by those that tried to tell me in week one that San Diego was a sleeper team and is a dark horse to get to the Super Bowl and I just kind of laughed. They are now 0-4 and 0-3 at home. Hmmm
Siemian isn’t a good QB and the Broncos are limited offensively. Their formula is to get ahead early, and then rely on their defense to close out the game. Denver is not the type of team to make big come backs and I don’t see Siemian winning many games late.
The Raiders have to adjust on offense. Teams are no longer willing to give them the easy throws. The smart ones are going to try and force them to throw deep which Oakland has to do successfully. Watch the DB’s. If you see them playing up, look to see if the Raiders throw deep to gain their respect.
If the Raiders don’t score, they are going to struggle. This defense is no where near a championship defense and if they don’t score, they don’t win. With quality offenses on the horizon, they need to make sure that they make changes on how to attack the press coverage that teams are likely to use in the future.
Players on the defense have to step up, but you wonder if they have the talent to do that. Even Jack Del Rio has said at times the Raiders D is like the Khalil Mack show. Unless they get a consistent pass rusher not named Mack, the back 7 are going to be exposed week by week. Will the offense adjust to the changes on how defenses attack them? And will Amari Cooper and Carr rise to the occasion behind the offensive line that finally plays up to their talent level.
The talk from fans before the season was all about the Super Bowl. Now they have more questions than answers about the poor start of the Raiders. Unless they make the proper changes, this dream season will be just that; a dream. This winning the Super Bowl thing is not as easy as you think kids.
For me the internet has been a blessing and a curse. In my previous article (found above), you can see the nightmares that I’ve endured being naïve about my internet activity. From dating, to business to every day life; the internet is like riding down the Amazon river. It’s beautiful but there are a lot of things around you that can hurt you. One of the dangers are the internet Trolls. These trolls can fly around the internet like Dementors in the Harry Potter series hovering overhead just waiting to be offended or angered.
What a Troll IS and ISN’T:
Society has changed a lot. People in general are much less into facts or what is really happening. Some people in general are much more insecure as well. They are into their own biases and want to be around those that feed that bias. They don’t want to debate; they want to hear what they want to hear and they want to be followed. That’s why people watch certain news channels. Preaching to the choir.
Television producers have seen how the new generation LOVES drama. Reality shows; even though they are staged (I know some reality show participants and all of them say this) some people treat them like they are fact. Will anyone watch a show of kind people loving one another? No way. They want fighting, arrogance, selfishness, yelling and insanity. Usually the nastiest people are the most popular. Well, that is the desire of an internet troll; to create drama and feed off of it.
A troll is someone that goes onto forums or social media posts and likes to stir it up anyway they can. Most go way off topic and they try to entice others to challenge them. They want chaos, anger, dramatics and any other kind of conflict. They are outraged at pretty much everything people say, and they have the victim mentality. They want to ruin reputations and are often wrong but never in doubt.
Not everyone is a troll. Some call people a troll if they don’t agree with them. That’s NOT a troll. If someone brings up facts or a reason why they disagree with a person without saying something offensive, they are not trolling. They are debating and disagreeing. There is a huge difference. Some people just like the sound of their own voice and spew nonsense and then get mad when people call them out on it. They are not being trolled.
I experience this on Youtube all the time. Some of the insane conspiracy theory videos from people like Alex Jones and others are scary. Like the crazy idea that all of these mass shootings are staged and faked. Or that lizards and shape shifters are living among us and they are marrying regular people to become a part of our society to take it over. Some of you are shaking your head and smiling but what’s not funny is that they have THOUSANDS of followers, and they believe these are facts. Some will even post photos saying here is the person that supposedly died in a mass shooting and they are now married with kids so the shooting was fake.
I went on one of the videos forums and all I asked is where is the proof? I said, “so all of these families are acting and not really grieving? All of these funerals are fake?”
OMG you would have thought I killed puppies. Literally dozens of people started attacking me. They ripped me to shreds, found my email and began to pummel me with “proof”. I literally had to block several dozen people. In this case I was not being a troll. I wanted to know why they thought like they did. Instead of sending real facts, they attacked me. Insecure people tend to do that.
How to Handle Facebook Trolls:
Facebook is used more by middle aged people than the younger generation. It’s a different type of animal. When I go on Facebook I know I’m going to see the same posts from the same people pretty much every day. The political posts will be extremely close minded and based mostly on biased opinion. Even though some adults are still learning and evolving like you should, for the most part a middle aged person is NOT going to change their mind on things. Thus it’s pointless debating them. If the person is open minded and will think about things, then it’s fun to debate. For the most part though, I try to avoid political comments all together. It’s also sad to like people and then find out how extreme and bad their points of views are on politics or society.
To combat trolls, personally I would stay away from political comment unless you like wars. Trolls love political posts and you will almost for sure be attacked. If you are, just stop commenting. If they email you or try to egg you on, just ignore or even block them. If you are still going to post, then remember that just because someone disagrees doesn’t mean they are attacking you.
I remember one lady from Texas (always Texas) started emailing me on Facebook every morning telling me what posts she liked and didn’t like. She would also leave comments in my posts. She then started to demand I take some of my posts down or she’d report me to Facebook. Huh? She was a friend’s mom so I didn’t want to block her but I finally had to. She once demanded I take a dog’s photo down because a dog had once attacked her cat and that it was inappropriate.
Another important part is some employers SCOUR Facebook to see comments on their employees. I know many HR people and don’t think for a second that this isn’t happening. I know one guy that was flat out told that his sexual posts on Facebook were the reasons he didn’t get a job. Don’t be naïve.
How to Handle Twitter Trolls:
Twitter is fun. It is more hip and used by the younger generation a lot. Usually half of the top 10 trends on Twitter are based on young people’s topics.
That being said, you have to be careful on Twitter. Before you get the hang of Twitter, start slow. Be positive in your comments and don’t be too confrontational. If someone says something really stupid or crazy, it’s not a rule that you have to respond. People with big ego’s or who love to give their opinion all the time can struggle on Twitter.
Remember trolls want to get a rise out of you; they want you to get mad. The key to Twitter? NEVER get mad. I never tweet something when I’m really emotional or angry. I remember posting something on a kid that had cancer. A troll literally started laughing saying one less ^^^%%. The child was an American but they were of Mexican descent. All of a sudden the troll flooded my post with anti-Hispanic tweets that were extremely racist while calling himself a patriot. I didn’t battle him. I said, get some help; good luck to you; and in 30 seconds I blocked him. He got my message and now he can never see or react to my posts. No 20 minute battle; no anger; no stress. Just get some help and that’s it. So if a troll tries to hijack your post, don’t argue; don’t stress; and don’t battle! JUST BLOCK.
How to Handle Sexual Trolls:
This is a tough one because so many young women are addicted to the attention they get from strangers when they post photos of themselves or “selfies”. I know one middle aged woman who is really pretty and she posts photos of herself just about every post. Not all attention is good.
Read the news and you will see some of the most horrendous things done to young women these days. It’s scary how perverted so many people are, especially young men. Sexual assault is a huge problem in our country and so is sexual trolling. There have been many deaths and assaults where the first meeting was on social media.
My friend had his college aged daughter do a video for his business explaining an accounting program that she had set up for him. They put it on Youtube because other companies had asked her to, because she really explained it well. Bad idea. His daughter isn’t a vixen, but she’s cute and did the pervs come out. By the time they handled the problem, he counted over 189 sexual comments written by men on her video; 99% young men. They didn’t care about this program, they just saw a cute girl. Some were EXTREMELY vulgar.
He asked me what to do. I said turn in the real sick posters to Youtube and block the comments sections. People can still see the video and you don’t have to worry about all of the nasty comments below. If it’s on Instagram, do the same thing. Block, Block and Block. Don’t be afraid to turn people into the site either if they are very aggressive. It’s unacceptable to be that nasty. That’s why I tell some young women to be more secure in yourself as a person in real life, and don’t rely on pervert strangers liking your looks for your confidence.
How to Handle a Super Troll:
I got a super troll on my Twitter account last year that wouldn’t let up. He trolled many of my posts. I would block him and then he’d make another account. He finally made an account that said @Ihatejimjax. Now to be honest I think it’s kind of funny but what wasn’t funny is that his 36 followers were being fueled by him. The lies that were spread were of legend. He then asked for the followers to find out where I lived. That was it. I contacted Twitter; gave them all his accounts and tweets, and they deleted his URL from twitter and closed all of his accounts.
If you take care of trolls early, then you will have little issues with them. Blocking or ignoring are your best tools. Debating is fine but fighting with people that just want turmoil and drama is counter productive and a waste of time. Don’t be a victim; be pro active and if people are harassing you, then erase them from your social media life. If you follow this advice, worrying about trolls will be a thing of the past.
Below is our podcast interview with Stan Zuray and filmmakers Ryan Walsh and Kari Pickering.
Yukon Men is back!
After little to no communication from the network, the hit show on the Discovery Channel is back. It will be shown on Fridays at 9 pm (8 pm Central) with the third episode of the season premiering this Friday.
Charlie, Stan, Courtney, Pat and all the rest will be back in the small town of Tanana, fighting the elements, outsiders, and the changing times in the small Alaskan town.
Below is a crowdfunding effort by filmmaker Ryan Walsh to create a series about Stan’s life.
BELOW IS STAN’S NEW BOOK!
My Love for Alaska:
My uncle spent time in Alaska as a young man and since then it fascinated me. I also remember watching the amazing special with Dick Proenneke on PBS called, “Alone in the Wilderness”. While moving to a remote area in Alaska, Dick built a cabin, cache & other structures by hand without electric tools or chainsaws. He lived alone at Twin Lakes from 1968 to 1999, with only a few trips outside of the area and only occasional visitors. Dick also was a talented videographer and he filmed and made records and journals of his daily routines which are still used today by experts. His craftsmanship was amazing on his structures. Dick’s Documentary is one of the highest rated in the history of television.
Another love of mine was the show Survivorman featuring Les Stroud. Les filmed himself in a grueling series that is still the standard for survival shows. While the others admit some scenes are staged, other than film editing, Les showed the reality of survival and taught amazing skills in a truthful and straight forward manner.
I have to be honest; tv is brutal these days. I’m sorry but shows like the Bachelor and Naked & Afraid are so sophomoric and dumb and fake that I can’t stand it. And yes, they are highly controlled by the network. A while back I went out with a girl in LA that did the make up for a season of Survivor. After a few drinks she admitted the show was staged at times and that they did retakes.
What I like about Yukon men though is that it’s as honest as a show can be. Are some of the situations enhanced for tv? Of course; I’m not naïve; but the everyday struggles, pressures, and situations they battle are very, very real.
I think people also enjoy that these are everyday people that they can relate to. Every woman isn’t 5’ 9” with blond hair and blue eyes and every man doesn’t look like Brad Pitt. These are good hard working people looking to feed their families and create a life teaching the skills and cultures that they have been taught. We see ourselves in some of them and we appreciate their honesty and humbleness towards their everyday life.
Looking Ahead to This Season:
I fear that with the opening of the new road allowing easy access to the area, it will probably have a very negative impact on the Tanana residents. Tourists and others usually bring greed, garbage, and a lack of respect whenever they venture into the wild. The hunting borders, animals, and the environment need to all be respected.
I admit I was not a big Stan fan at the beginning. I think it was because of my relationship with my own dad. Like most young men, Joey was headstrong and opinionated even though he didn’t have much experience. I related to him and felt his frustration when dealing with Stan. Just like with Joey, when you start walking in your dad’s footsteps, you begin to appreciate and respect them more and see how wise they really are. Joey has now a great appreciation and trust towards his dad and it has allowed their relationship to grow. It’s made me like Stan a lot.
I really appreciate Stan’s passion towards his family and the land around him. I also love his skill set. He is known as the “MacGuyver” of Yukon Men. His Frankentruck is still talked about and his ingenuity and great talent is often seen. Stan was gracious enough to allow me to interview him. I felt bad because I know he’s so busy but I wanted to share the interview. Stan was forthcoming and open and I greatly enjoyed his responses. (I also found out Stan has been an ordained minister for over 3 decades).
Jim Jax: Before coming to Alaska, where were you raised and what kind of life was it compared to the life you live now?
Stan Zuray: I was raised in a part of Boston, Mass. called Dorchester. It was a very urban environment with very tight neighborhoods with many parts ethnically divided. Much has changed there since my childhood. While I was young, my parents would take us to beaches and drives in the country and a couple of times to my dad’s rural home area of Pennsylvania. That was the extent of my “wilderness experience” however.
I worked in a tire and mechanic shop all my summers and times off from school to make money. I was into hot rod cars and all the things boys get into including, when older, all the bad things. It was the hippie generation then and much was happening socially in the country.
Many of my friends came back from Vietnam a mess. Many friends were into hard drugs with some casualties, and Boston was becoming a very lonely place for me. I had a good home and good parents, but outside the home it was not good.
I went on the road to New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and the West Coast. I’ve been all over, including into Northern British Columbia where I experienced for the first time back to the earth native people living so to speak. I loved it. It wasn’t real though until I came to Alaska the next year and found myself without a lot of food and supplies.
There are few similarities between Boston and Tanana, Alaska. People however are much the same everywhere it’s just that in Boston they don’t have the luxury of helping people and being as friendly because many are on the verge of losing their homes if they can’t pay the bills. One way I always think of comparing the two is I used to travel to Hampton Beach 50 miles north of Boston sometimes and I think of all the people and cars and buildings I would pass in that 50 miles. Then I think of all the trips to my fish camp I’m at now 40 miles up the Yukon River where I see just a few plywood fish camp shacks and often no people and no boats passing. And then you consider the Yukon is the main (and only) route of travel available.
Jim Jax: Do you think you were born to live the lifestyle you do now or was there something that inspired you to do it?
Stan Zuray: I think I am one of the lucky ones. I survived the crazy and dangerous things we did and did not die or ruin my brain or get lost in drugs and alcohol. I had enough drive to want out and get myself out and I was lucky enough to have certain people and events help me on my way. I don’t think I was born for it but I did find something of better value to me. I always say “perseverance furthers”.
Jim Jax: Where did you meet your wife and how hard was it to date with so few people to socialize with?
Stan Zuray: I met my wife in the village of Tanana. She liked to dance at the village gatherings and we started hanging out and traveling by dog sled to my trap line and fish camp in the summer. She is a proud, strong, full Athabascan woman. When the kids started coming along we got serious and raised our family. There aren’t many places to date in Tanana in the city type of ways and there are not that many people, but lots of things to do.
Jim Jax: You are very respectful of the people around you. How accepting were the natives to you when you decided to make this your home?
Stan Zuray: Some were very good to me right away and some were very opposite. The Traditional Chief of Tanana, Lester Erhart, gave me my first lead dog and much welcome while some didn’t like outsiders. Like I say I think people are very much the same everywhere (they are all different) it’s just the environment people are in often dictates their time for compassion and friendliness.
Jim Jax: What kind of amenities are in your home? Do you have the internet; wifi; etc…. Do you have television/cable/dish.
Stan Zuray: We have TV, internet, power from a local generator and a telephone line. Some areas of the main town have running water and cell service, but those things we don’t have. Our main heat source in Tanana is 9 cords of wood I cut each year but I have a backup oil stove for when it gets 40 below or colder. My trap line and fish camp is much cruder with none of that but we do have a satellite dish at the fish camp for communications.
Jim Jax: I think Fairbanks is probably the largest city in your area; Do you get a chance to go there much? Do you ever go to major stores or enjoy a dinner out some time?
Stan Zuray: Tanana is about 150 air miles northwest of Fairbanks which has about 100,000 people and is the second largest city in Alaska. I go there about 2 times each winter and also go every other year outside Alaska to Boston or somewhere else. When we do, we fit right in and we have brought the kids with us many times also. Definitely after a few days I’m ready for freedom, driving sled dogs and being in the back country again.
Jim Jax: The stress of the fire was really seen in the Yukon Men episodes. Please tell the readers just how bad it was on your end and how has it changed your life, especially with so much hunting grounds destroyed.
Stan Zuray: We lived with the fire right at our doorstep for almost one month. It showed us it could wipe us out a couple of times and consumed our summer with stress and work. Hopefully some of the country will recover stronger and richer than before as is often the case. I have lost everything to a fire before in the 1970’s. I have a respect and fear of fire for life I’d say.
Jim Jax: When Joe was younger there was the normal friction between an eager impatient young man and his father, but as he’s matured I’ve really enjoyed your relationship growth with him. I think the more he had to do, the more he respected what you have done and who you are. How did you feel seeing him becoming a man before your eyes?
Stan Zuray: Joe was always strong willed. I always said the best way to get him to do something was to suggest the opposite. That will hopefully help him out in life at times and it is good to see him want to be independent. It is of course often fun working with him when he was younger. Now that we are older I see many things in him like myself and the way my father and I were. We have a close relationship but as with all my kids they will always be something I am proud about and worry about. That always never ends.
Thank you so much Stan. I look forward to this season of Yukon men. May the fishing and hunting always be plentiful. Please get Stan’s book with the link above. A great 5 Star Amazon read!!! Jim Jax
Here is my list of must see and not so must see movies for the holiday season.
Let’s first look at some popular Christmas movies that didn’t make my list.
-Elf: I really don’t like this movie. Not funny.
-Home Alone Movies: Number 1 is ok. I’m still a little creeped out by McCauley Caulkin.
-Bad Santa: Little too mean spirited for me.
-Christmas With the Kranks: I think it’s a bad movie.
-Scrooged: I like Bill Murray but I just thought he was a little too dark in this one and it didn’t work.
-The Nightmare Before Christmas: Still not getting it. I don’t like this movie and in reality Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are pretty much dead to me for what they did to Willie Wonka. Bizarre.
Amazing Animated Films to Watch:
These are all well known greats that are staples during the holidays. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Clausis Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman and A Charlie Brown Christmas are all must see classics with amazing music and stories. You might want to throw inthe cartoon Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol too, that has fun songs and is underrated.
Classic Must See Christmas Movies:
Boy do I still miss John Candy. Plains, Trains and Automobiles still makes me laugh to no end. Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd are in all their glory in Trading Places which is also a must see.
Bing Crosby is not a favorite of mine but White Christmas is a good movie. It’s a Wonderful Life is also a classic but I’m not a huge fan of it.
Another one I really enjoy even though I don’t like the sequels is The Santa Clause. I’m not a fan of Tim Allen but he’s amazing in this great holiday classic.
The original Miracle on 34th Street is still an all time great movie with a young Natalie Wood in a great perforance.
Now Some of my other favorite selections.
Ok Ok; I know the animation is a little creepy but and the kids look like they’ve been using uppers for a week but this is an amazing story with great music and a spirited performance by Tom Hanks. As time goes on this movie gets more and more respect and I’m glad.
The story of a little boy who is discouraged and who eventually has the meaning and spirit of Christmas restored when on Christmas eve he takes a ride on the magical Polar Express train that goes to the North Pole. And as his heart is restored, he learns that if you truly believe, you will always hear the sound of Santa’s bell no matter what age you are. Cuz that’s the way things happen on the Polar Express!
Nestor the Long Eared Donkey:
One of my favorite Christmas Cartoons that some have never seen. Nestor is bullied and treated poorly for having huge, long ears and for being ugly. He’s so ridiculed that on a winter night he is thrown out by the owner of a stable. In a blizzard his mom saves him from the cold by covering him but sadly she is gone. Nestor is helped by a cherub named Tilly who leads him to a magical moment.
It’s an amazing story of love, acceptance, and courage.
The Little Drummer Boy:
Can’t watch this without shedding a tear or two. Another Romeo Muller, Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. classic which is almost 5 decades old. One of the most emotional and epic stories of all time. With an amazing voice cast of Greer Garson, Jose Ferrer and the epic music of the Vienna Boys Choir.
With the anger and pain only an orphan can feel, the little drummer boy Aaron gives the only gift he has to offer to baby Jesus when his animal friend is hurt; his passionate playing on his drum. The true spirit of Christmas is seen in the miraculous recovery of his animal friend, thus restoring Aaron’s heart. Child star Teddy Eccles is very special as Aaron. What an amazing production. They don’t make them like this anymore!
Meet John Doe:
This movie was so well received that it’s made several categories in the top 100 all time lists of the American Film Institute. The Library of Congress requested a copy of it to be archived and it was so popular it became a radio program. Meet John Doe has it all.
The iconic Frank Capra was known as a very sentimental director. This movie was said to be for the gentle every day person. With a young Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan and Edward Arnold leading the cast, this is one of my all time classic movies at any time of year.
A struggling newspaper makes up a story of a homeless man who wants to commit suicide on Christmas due to the state of the country. People have become jaded and divided, but thousands are so moved by John’s threat that John Doe clubs all over the country are created to promote good will and kindness towards your neighbor. When John Doe finds out that big business corporations want to use the John Doe clubs for political support to get their man into the white house and make more money, he tries to tell the truth but people turn on him and he’s considered a fake. In a state of depression on Christmas eve, he finds out the true meaning of Christmas through the love of his friends and the knowledge that the spirit of every day people will never allow the John Doe’s of the world to be forgotten.
Twas the Night Before Christmas:
This is another animated cartoon that many have not seen. When a know it all young mouse writes Santa a nasty letter saying he doesn’t exist, Santa no longer wants to come to their city. The father then thinks a gift to Santa will help restore their relationship. His son again messes things up but he realizes the importance of Christmas and grows up. He helps save the day and Santa is touched by their gift and all is forgiven.
The songs are fun and upbeat and it’s a fun short film to watch. George Gobel narrates and Joel Gray recites the famous poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas.
The Year Without A Santa Clause:
Heat Miser and Cold Miser; Santa; a feisty Mrs. Clause. This is a cult classic for any animated fan of Christmas. The songs alone are worth the watch. Kids of all ages will love this timeless classic!
A Christmas Story:
It’s hard to find a movie that touches the heart of the kid in all of us like a Christmas Story. For the 19th year, TBS/TNT will play this movie for 24 hours on Christmas eve through Christmas. There were 2 years that they played this for 2 days straight! This is one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time that teaches the kid in us how to survive in the adult world during Christmas. Someone bought the house and made it into a museum. And it is beside Meet John Doe in the National Library of Congress.
Tongues stuck on light polls, bullies, a little brother who wont eat and Darren McGavin as a father that is hard on the outside but as soft as a marshmallow inside. And never forget to remember to be careful; or you will SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!
Most movie historians, movie buffs and fans almost all agree that the 1951 version of a Christmas Carol called the Scrooge is the greatest of them all. (In the UK it was called Scrooge; in the U.S. it was called A Christmas Carol).
Scrooge was one of the most popular and best pictures in the UK in 1951. Due to the more darker nature compared to other Christmas Carol movies, the U.S. studio’s did not feel that Scrooge was positive enough for the American audience and it got mixed reviews. In time though it has become a fan favorite of many a household around the world.
Alastair Sim is purely magical in his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in one of the most memorable Christmas movies ever. He can make you hate him or cry for him. His emotional scene going to dinner at Fred’s is below.
There you have it. My list of must see Christmas movies. If you haven’t seen some of these movies, make sure you give them a try. They may become Christmas classics in your household too. Merry Christmas and God Bless us; everyone.
In a night that went as perfect as a last minute Ken Stabler drive, Ken Michael Stabler took his rightful place in the NFL pro football hall of fame. For one last time, Ken Stabler lead everyone on a magical ride that will never be forgotten.
With decades of Raider tradition all around mixed in with a little Southern warmth from the state of Alabama, Canton looked more like Oakland, Ca than the sleepy town that wakes up for a week every year before the NFL season starts.
With several Raiders by their sides and HOF WR Fred Biletnikoff giving support, Ken Stabler’s grandsons unveiled the HOF bust of their beloved grandfather. In one action, all of the emotions that have built up from decades of frustration, anticipation, sadness and hope was released. Tears flowed, and closure began to fill the air slowly like a soft mist on a hot night. All the years of waiting; all the unjust votes and comments came out in a healing moment that hopefully now brings closure to an amazing career by an amazing man.
I have many good friends from around the country who ask me, why was there so much emotion and love for Ken Stabler. I think the answer is easy.
When the Snake saw a fan he didn’t care what color you were. He didn’t care if you were famous or rich. He truly appreciated the adoration that was given him. I think Ken always knew how important he was to the City of Oakland, Alabama and the bay area. That’s why he was so kind to so many. He never judged; never lashed out; he was always good to those that supported him, and shrugged off those that hurt him. Many saw a little of themselves in Ken. Sometimes misunderstood, often doubted, and occasionally misjudged. Ken was an every man and in reality so many people related to the things he went through.
Ken was real. He made mistakes; he failed at times; he was ripped in the media at times; but he ALWAYS dusted himself off and kept coming. He never quit and the harder someone pushed, the harder he pushed back. The Raiders and Ken Stabler smashed people in the mouth and never gave up. That’s why when most teams would have quit, the Raiders usually won due to the never give up attitude of the Snake. Ken was a lot like the fans that supported him. He was a lot like the City of Oakland and the East Bay; always fighting, never quitting.
Why Younger Fans Should Be Excited:
Some younger Raider fans seem to be in a fog at the great adoration for Ken and this amazing era. Let’s face it, we live in a society where history to some is what pokemon go character you caught last night. If it’s old, society seems to not care about it.
If you are a younger fan, look at the extreme excitement that is seen in social media today for the upcoming season. The Raiders were 7-9 last year and some are nearly losing their minds with excitement. Nothing wrong with that especially with all the improvements, but put it into perspective.
Think about going 56-13 in Ken’s first 69 starts. Think of going 18-1-1 on Monday night football. Think of having the highest winning % of ANY professional team in the U.S. of ANY sport for a 25 year stretch. Think of 3 Super Bowls in 7 years and 5 straight AFC Championship games. For almost 3 decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were consistently on top of the NFL ratings for most watched teams on television. Oh and don’t forget having more wins in the greatest NFL decade of all time, the 1970’s. Could you imagine what Ken and the Raiders offense could do with today’s rules? Now you understand OUR excitement. As Raider great Tim Brown said Friday, “When Ken walked into our locker room you saw everyone change. It was like royalty had just come into the room. The Raiders of that time were just that good; people adored him.”
A Leader to the End:
The reason this meant so much to so many is because Ken really was the Raiders leader in every way. He was a leader on the field and off. Players felt he was invincible and looked to him when things got rough. Even after his death he inspired. Raiders greats like George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler followed in Ken’s footsteps and decided to donate their brains to the study of CTE and give them to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after they passed away. Truly unselfish acts inspired by the Snake’s selflessness and the encouragement of his partner Kim Bush.
“When you see your teammate deteriorate a lot through the end of his life, to see him go out like that, it brings us together,” Thoms said in a Mercury News article. George Atkinson has complained often of his memory issues. “Ken meant so much to us and we felt we needed to do this.”
The Closest Team in the NFL:
Many of the retired Raider players talked about how close they were to each other. Many stated how no team was as tight as they were. Even after retiring, they would meet for dinner often and even if players were out of state, they would fly back to join their fellow teammates. It was important to them to stay in touch with an incredible time that gave them so much enjoyment.
We have many older patients and one is Mr. & Mrs. C who live deep in the wine country (I wont give their name for health privacy reasons.) They used to be a Raiders season ticket holders in the 60’s and 70’s. I visited them recently.
Mrs. C is the classic sweet nurturing elderly woman who still feels a good meal will solve any problem. Mr. C was a successful businessman who’s health is failing. I go to their house so he doesn’t have to go into the office. I also know they enjoy my visits. Mr. C usually holds court with a scotch in his hand while I get my usual pay for a house call. A cold beer with a roast beef or turkey sandwich or the occasional German Chocolate cake and cold glass of milk.
“You know something James, those times were so special and those guys meant the damn world to us. Players like Tom Keating and Art Thoms; Tony Cline, Warren Wells, Charlie Smith, Raymond Chester. Tatum and Atkinson, Skip and Willie. Otto, Beuhler and Dalby; Upshaw and Shell; Sistrunk and Kinlaw; Rod Martin and Vilipiano. Sumner, Wolf, and Al Locasale. So many great men that gave their all to win. And Kenny was everyone’s favorite. No group of players and fans were closer. The minute you forget this son, you won’t be worth a damn as a writer, or as a fan.”
After a pregnant pause, Mr. C showed a moment of rare emotion. Pointing his finger at me he said softly while winking, “Ken in the Hall of Fame? This one means something son; this one means something.”
For the first time in my life time, it seemed that most teams did fairly well at the 2016 NFL draft. One of those teams that did really well was the Oakland Raiders.
Many fans though have expressed their displeasure at certain picks, so let’s answer all the questions that people have in regards to these picks.
Value Pick v.s. Karl Joseph:
I got beaten up on Twitter a little bit when I was for the drafting of West Virginia Safety Karl Joseph. Like most people I had him as a top 30 player. My favorite DM on twitter was, “I thought you liked value picks; then how can you defend choosing Joseph?”
The answer to that is this. The Raiders desperately wanted Joseph in the second round. They also wanted Reggie Ragland. With the news coming that Ragland had an enlarged Aorta that would need yearly monitoring, Ragland dropped like a stone in the draft. There were several teams that wanted Joseph in the late first round and early second round. NO WAY was Joseph falling to the Raiders in the second round. The Raiders knew that to draft him they had to draft him earlier than expected. The hope was for Ragland to drop to them in the second round and he almost did; Buffalo nabbed him. But looking back Joseph is a really good player; probably a late first round talent that will greatly help your team. It was a risk they took and I would have too.
Emphasizing DL made me very happy. I’ve said it a million times; look at history; the DL is so important to Super Bowl winning teams.
Some say on social media, “where can you watch these players play? I follow all the experts and I don’t see film on these guys”. The answer is, WATCH THE COLLEGE GAMES! College Football has DOZENS of stations that show games not once; but several times in reruns. Almost all college conferences have tv networks. You DVR the games and watch the players you want to see. If you watch a game and the player plays great or the announcers say he stands out you pay attention to them. If the player never gets mentioned but is drafted you say wow; I didn’t even remember this guy.
Our fathers began taping & recording famous games audio and then when VCR/VHS came out they taped the games. My dad has the Holy Roller on tape; a friend of mine’s dad has Notre Dame’s stunning upset of UCLA to snap their 88 game winning streak on a tape recording; from 1974! I have hundreds of games transferred to DVD in my large library at my home. If you are a sports & history junkie, start your own collection.
For example 2 years ago I taped 3 games with an up and comer in the NFL draft, WR Tre McBride from William & Mary. I fast forwarded and when you get the hang of it you can watch a players plays in 10-15 minutes. There are 128 college teams in Division 1 only, and many more in D II and DIII. NFL is a passion for people; college football is a religion. Here in silicon Valley you can live stream anything and also don’t have to worry about regional games only being seen. We’re techies and you learn things.
With that being said let’s look at the Jihad Ward and Conner Cook picks below and all of the critic questions should be answered.
I’m not a fan of this pick. I thought the Raiders drafted him too early and even then I’m not a fan. He’s more athlete than football player. The after draft comments were interesting. When Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was asked if Ward was raw he snapped that he wasn’t. “The defensive line isn’t like playing QB”. When GM Reggie McKenzie was asked, he stated, “he’s definitely raw but we are not looking at him having a redshirt year. Hopefully if we coach him up he can be ready to contribute something this season”.
I don’t like quoting Pro Football Focus but to the few that defend this pick; PFF comments on Ward, “he had the 69th overall grade of edge defenders”. PFF then went on to say he may end up being a good run defender. Later on they say he may be a good pass rusher. (see why PFF drives some people crazy?)
I watched Illinois several times and to be honest I barely remembered him. This was a reach at best in my mind. I think the Raiders were shocked too when Austin Johnson; stud DL out of Penn St.; and MLB Reggie Ragland was taken before their pick. With Alabama DL’s AShawn Robinson & Jarran Reed; as well as Clemson CB stud Mackenzie Alexander still on the board; this pick makes no sense in my mind but who knows. He’s a good story and I hope he does well.
3rd Round: Shalique Calhoun DL (75, Michigan St.)
Michigan St. was in so many featured games even the casual fan saw them often. Calhoun was a stud on a very physical and talented defensive line that at times carried the Spartans and kept them in games. He had 27 sacks for his career and 44 tackles for loss. He’s a playmaking pass rusher that needs to bulk up a bit and improve his run stopping skills. Some scouts say he’s too passive. I don’t think he’ll have a middle ground. Could be a diamond in the rough or struggle. I think the positive greatly outweighs any negative. Great Pick!
4th Round: Connor Cook QB (100, Michigan St.)
The Raiders traded up to get Cook at #100. This one still has Raider nation scratching their heads. Let’s look at the facts.
History again is so important. All of those people guaranteeing the Raiders will move up in the first round every year forget that they’ve never done it in 57 drafts yet every year they predict it. Look at history. Well this pick was ALL about Ron Wolf and his history.
When Reggie was learning under Raider and Green Bay Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf, the Packers drafted QB’s all the time. I’ve said it for years. Every team should draft a QB every year in the late round.
Even with Brett Favre as their starter, Ron Wolf and the Packers drafted Mark Brunell (5th round), Aaron Brooks (4th round), and Matt Hasselbeck (6th round). These 3 became key NFL starters for other teams. (In a famous John Madden story, when Al Davis asked his staff about drafting a young Alabama QB with bad knees, Al’s staff said no. He then asked Ron Wolf who said yes; Ken Stabler was then drafted).
Wolf had an amazing eye for QB’s and ALL three of these picks were eventually traded for key draft picks and players who helped create a winning organization keeping talent flowing.
Some have now said trade Carr. Ridiculous; I personally don’t like Cook and don’t think he’s going to be a starting NFL QB; he’s not accurate in the medium and short game. Some teams like him though. He’s also not exactly a leader type at times as was seen in some of his comments when he was injured and missed the Ohio St. game. Some experts and teams will disagree with me but that’s my take. Some have said his personality is a turn off and he needs to greatly mature to be a leader in the Pro’s.
This was a Ron Wolf type pick that will eventually be trade bait if he pans out. If not, he can then be a backup. Matt McGloin will be on trade watch this pre season. In today’s QB world with so little talent, teams are willing to risk money and picks on projects that they think they can make into something special and some will want Cook; maybe badly. If your starting QB goes down though, your team is in trouble.
5th Round: Deandre Washington RB (143 Texas Tech)
I’m a Big 12 guy and I’d like to thank Deandre Washington for being such a fun player to watch these last 4 years. I hope he does well. Most had Washington either a 6 or 7th rounder; few had him in the 5th round; and a handful even had him going undrafted.
This is a productive player who plays hard every play. He can catch and run and was a work horse back for the Red Raiders. He returned kicks as a freshman. Many scouts complained that Washington may be a system guy at Texas Tech. The Big 12 is known for bad defense and wild west offenses so some question his numbers. He’s also only 5’ 8” 205 and many scouts said he will struggle pass blocking. He is not a speed merchant but he’s fast enough and he’s tougher than he looks.
I like Washington but my pick here was Paul Perkins who I like a little more. Many had Perkins going in the 3-5th round. Washington is a bit of a reach but time will tell if he pans out. I think he can be a situational player and a good pass catcher. A tough guy that plays confident with football smarts. Fans will enjoy this guy this season.
6th Round: Cory James LB (194 Colorado St.)
At 6’ 225 lb. James has been a consistent 4 year starter for the Rams. They moved him to MLB in his senior year but he is too small for that position in the NFL. He was also used as an edge rusher on passing downs and showed speed and athleticism. Some experts have really trashed this pick and I don’t know why. A project who should do well in special teams and will be a good backup.
7th Round Vadal Alexander T/G (234 LSU)
My SEC friends are asking how in the heck did this guy make it to the 7th round. Most had him going 3-4 round and this is a great pick. Alexander came to LSU around 370 and even at 6’ 5” he looked too bulky. He’s lost 30 pounds as a 4 year starter and was all SEC last year. He played guard and then later switched to tackle in college. He is a masher in the run game with crazy strength. He lacks athleticism and good foot speed which is why teams dropped him so low. He has inconsistent mechanics and needs work but this guy should be a solid backup and even get a few snaps here and there in time. Huge potential. This is the type of pick that winning teams make. Huge upside. He’ll be projected as a guard in the pro’s for his lack of foot speed but he has the potential to really help this team as a backup. I am shocked he lasted so long.
There you have it; it seems that there is still a need for an MLB but remember that many things can still happen in the off season, pre season and even salary cap cuts before the season starts. Overall I really like this draft. Pick for today and for the future.
Day 1 of the NFL Draft is Here! Or as we call it guys day in.
Go ahead and have some fun with it because this draft is going to be very interesting. Let’s be real; experts, insiders, fans, ex players and even the teams themselves don’t know what players are going to be chosen. It’s guesswork for everyone so I’m not curing cancer here. Let’s just use common sense and historic facts and look into the 2016 NFL Draft day 1.
The Trade Impact In the First Round:
First off I’m a huge talent over need guy. Let’s say for instance you need a safety but the only ones that are there are 2nd or third round talents; I pass. If you look at the Raiders history they’ve ruined drafts picking for needs.
Even with the rules allowing WR to roam free and the QB to barely be touched, the QB position in the NFL is at it’s worst in NFL history. Passing and Receiving records are falling to average players at best who are benefiting from the new rules. I can see the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice saying, “give me a bucket!”
Here is a good article by quality ESPN Writer Bill Barnwell on Drafting Qb’s:
I’m not a big fan of these 2 trades but I understand them.
Let’s look outside the box and stop just regurgitating what the “experts” are saying. Let’s think for ourselves and see what might be the mindset of teams in this years draft.
Raiders Trading Up:
The pre NFL draft is fun. Many sites try to stir the pot with mock drafts and scenarios and NFL combine #’s to keep people interested all year round. It is fun to do but let’s be real; 90% of this stuff never happens.
One of those scenarios is the annual can the Raiders trade up or down in the draft game. In 56 years please give me the list of all of the trades the Raiders have done to move up or down in the draft. Ron Wolf was the architect of many of the Raiders great drafts and he taught Reggie McKenzie all he knew at Green Bay.
Will the Raiders trade up? No one knows. But if you look at history it says the Raiders will do nothing and draft #14. When you trade up you are also in the mindset that you are 1 player away from being a top team. They Raiders still have holes to fill.
The Raiders RB Reality of 2015:
The average fan almost always looks at offense but in reality you can’t win without a good to great defense. Should the Raiders get a RB? Yes. In the later rounds. But tell me last year how important the RB’s were in the championship game and in the Super Bowl? The Patriots were literally getting RB’s off the street; and the other 3 teams mostly used backups who didn’t exactly play like Walter Payton. What all 4 teams DID have were the 4 best DL’s in the NFL. New England had more sacks without blitzing than any other team in the NFL. Look at the history of the NFL; for the most part Defensive lines and defenses win championships; not RB’s.
The Raiders struggles last year began when Minnesota played a cover 2 defense and took away the long ball. The Raiders medium passing game is bad and they never adjusted to other teams that did it as well. That’s not on the RB’s.
San Diego Chargers Pick Will Control the Draft:
Everyone has Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil as the Chargers pick but let’s hold on. The Chargers need to win now, and QB Philip Rivers is not getting any younger. The Chargers also paid a lot of money; some guaranteed; for tackles Joe Barksdale and King Dunlap. They also arent’ getting off cheap on their guards either. They could move one of their tackles to guard but now you are spending a ton of money on an OL when the defense is one of the worst in the NFL.
While the Raiders have a history of not trading up or down in the NFL draft, the Chargers have a lot of history. In recent year’s and in the past. (Rivers and Ladanian Tomlinson to name two). Chargers GM Tom Telesco is a wheeler and dealer for sure; for better or worse.
The Miami Dolphins are in big need of a franchise RB and rumors are swirling out of Miami that a trade with the Chargers isn’t out of the question. The Chargers have a kin to Notre Dame picks and they like OL Ronnie Stanley. They could trade down, get an extra pick or two and still get Stanley who other teams aren’t as high on.
If they do pick there, a defensive player like CB Jalen Ramsey or DL’s Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner going to the Chargers would not shock me.
Ezekiell Elliott RB Ohio St.:
Jerry Jones loves his badboys. I warned everyone that Randy Gregory DL out of Nebraska was an athlete playing football and of course Dallas took him in the 2nd round last year. In 12 games last year Gregory had 11 tackles and 0 sacks. He also tested positive for a drug of some kind (he was positive for pot in college) and he’s now suspended for the first four games. DeMarcus Lawrence had 8 sacks last year and he came into his own; he also has been suspended for 4 games for substance abuse. Add Greg Hardy’s departure and the DL for Dallas is just ugly. So they’ll go DL right?
Jerry Jones has always been an offensive guy and I see them taking Ezekiel Elliott, RB out of Ohio St. Jones likes offense and he loves running backs so I see this going down.
Interesting Oakland Raiders Scenarios:
Reggie Ragland MLB Alabama:
Reports are leaking that he has an elarged aorta that needs yearly monitoring. They hypersensitive NFL; some teams reportedly have him off their board now. The only MLB that can start right away in this draft in my opinion is Alabama MLB Reggie Ragland. As I’ve said before with the likes of Rolando McClain and others, these aren’t Bear Bryants free wheeling LB’s. Nick Saban runs a controlled and sophisticated zone and Bama LB’s do not have to cover much man to man so you really don’t know how good they are against the pass.
In reality though this would be the safe pick and the one I think the Raiders are leaning to right now. Will his heart condition change this.
Myles Jack LB UCLA:
Myles Jack value is dropping quickly. Mike Mayock; who isn’t much for personality but who I like; has an interesting scenario where Myles Jack falls all the way to 14 and the Raiders take him. Even though I like Mike let’s be real; 3 days ago he said I can’t believe anyone in the top 10 won’t pick Jack but now in his Mock yesterday he has him falling to 14.
Why? Jack lost himself a lot of money in an “I’m an open book” millennial moment, when a few days ago he told reporters that his knee’s condition is degenerative and that in the future he may or may not need micro-fracture surgery. His exact quote was that no one knows the future but to play 3 years in this league would be above average. I could see his agent slapping his forehead when he heard that saying, “DOH!”. When the player is saying stuff like that then you move on……..Quickly.
Sheldon Rankins DL Louisville:
I like Rankins a lot and he’s going in the top 15 in the draft. I see him going to the Dolphins or the Saints who need help big time at DL. If not he’d be a great get for the Raiders to give them a much needed QB push from the DT position and could immediately upgrade their defense to possibly being a top 5-10 unit.
Shaq Lawson DL Clemson:
At the beginning I just couldn’t believe people downplaying him. He’s slowly climbed up the ladder and he may be a top 10 pick. In some mock drafts they have him going to Buffalo after the Raiders so it’s a crap shoot. If he’s here, how can you pass up on a play maker like Lawson? If he and Ragland are here wow; what a fun waiting time that will be. I like Lawson and think you just can’t pass him up. Talent over need.
Robert Nkemdiche DE Mississippi:
There is always a draft lovechild that fans glop on to and this year it is Nkemdiche. Gholston, Clowney, Gregory; the list is a long one. He had a great game against Alabama and that’s his calling card; plus a lot of hype. They forget that in 3 years he only had 7 sacks and that in his last 7 games at Ole Miss he averaged 2 tackles a game. He was extremely inconsistent. I may be wrong but I warned people about all galaxy Jadeveon Clowney and how he’d tank and I’m warning others about Robert. To think he’s now going to be a 8-12 sack per year guy in the NFL? I say no way.
William Jackson III CB, Houston:
The University of Houston had a great resurgence last year; just not in the passing defense scene. They were ranked the 122th rated pass defense in college football.
If you were listening to ESPN radio’s mock drafts yesterday, one of the people choosing picked CB William Jackson III out of Houston for the Raiders pick. I swallowed my gum too. Don’t laugh; this is the hot name being thrown around by ESPN and their followers and if they blow off Ragland due to health issues, this may be the pick. It would also be a little attempt at vindication for Reggie.
He had a monster bowl game against Florida St. and looked good in pre draft/NFL combine workouts. Many of the experts really don’t watch all the games so these big televised bowls and senior bowls are big deals to them. In reality he’s another free lancer who is a work out warrior and looks physically impressive. In tackling he’s somewhat soft and not one to like contact. I think this would be a bad pick and he’s a 2nd round project in my book. I warned you on draft day about DJ Hayden and I’m warning you again.
Chris Jones DL Mississippi St.:
Another pick on the ESPN show was Chris Jones. If Shaq Lawson is there and the Raiders take Chris Jones then it’s a huge mistake. Jones is a solid player but he’s had issues with conditioning in the past and he’s not a great pass rusher; he’s more of a run stopper. The Raiders have a ton of run stoppers; they need pass rushers. I think Jones is a good player but the Raiders need Shaq Lawson, not Chris Jones.
Karl Joseph S West Virgina:
He is still not recovered from his ACL tear and he won’t be 100% probably for a part of the season. He is a thumper with a lot of explosiveness. He was projected as a 1st or 2nd rounder but he’s been climbing. He’s the best safety in a draft without super star safeties. This isn’t a value pick; I like Joseph but I think you can get a good safety in the second or 3rd round at better value.
Leonard Floyd LB Georgia:
When you watched a Georgia game last year Floyd flies off the page. He has a lot of football talent and just isn’t an athlete. I wrote about him a few months ago and I like him. The problem is, Florida papers are talking about how Tampa Bay is gushing about him and how much they love him. Many other teams also quietly like him. It’s hard to think he’ll be there at #14, but if he is, they will take him.
Remember that the draft isn’t a gift bag; 31 other teams are in this so you have to adapt to their choices. Keep in mind also that some teams are smart and some aren’t. Not every pick is a good one.
One tidbit that is going around the Bay Area though is that the 49ers LOVE Mackenzie Alexander the CB out of Clemson. The 49ers trading down isn’t out of the question now that they are in full rebuilding mode. Getting a DL and Alexander would be pretty amazing for them. I too love Alexander as a player.
Who ever the Raiders pick the hopes are that it’s a smart pick and not a crazy reach that filled the ghosts of drafts past. Some Raider fans will like any pick; some will hate any pick; but the even keel fans will look at the player and break down the need of the team and the skill set that they bring. As Reggie McKenzie said a few weeks ago, “we’ve done nothing yet. We haven’t won a thing and have work to do”. That is a good attitude to have entering this years draft.
Before the 2009 draft, most experts had Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin as the top 2 WR in the NFL draft. Then along came the NFL combines. DHB ran a 4.3 40 at the combines and Al Davis was smiling like the Grinch on Christmas morning. Even though he only had 138 catches for 1958 yards in 3 years at Maryland, DHB shockingly was chosen.
I remember destroying this pick in an article the next day and getting destroyed back by Raider fans saying I needed to give him time. Was 4 years enough?
In an amazing 300 targets in 4 years, DHB only caught 140 passes for 11 TD’s. In that same time Michael Crabtree caught 260 catches on 429 targets and 21 td’s. Local station KNBR radio joked that for Raider fans sake 40 times at the NFL combines should be kept away from Al Davis.
#9 Jessie Hester WR: #1, #23 overall (1985 draft)
This pick is usually forgotten by most. During the glory days of Florida St. football, Jessie Hester was a star. He was quick and loved to go deep. At 5’ 11” and 175 lbs. He looked like Cliff Branch and the Raiders drafted him in the first round.
In 3 years Hester caught 56 passes for 10 touchdowns and the Raiders cut him before year 4. He found a short term home for 4 years at Indianapolis as the #3 and #4 WR but he mostly was a second tier player. He ended up being a huge bust for the Raiders that few talk about.
At the NFL combines Derrick Gibson was a star. He bench pressed 400 lbs. and ran a 4.40-4.45 forty. At 6’ 2” and 210 lbs., you could see teams swooning. Marquez Pope blew a coverage and was beaten by Baltimore’s tight end Shannon Sharpe for a 96 yard TD in the playoffs that sealed the Raiders fate. A safety was needed.
Gibson struggled a lot in tackling and he had terrible instincts against the pass. Many college safeties are free lancers with little responsibility and that’s what Gibson was. After 5 years the Raiders cut Gibson and no other NFL team ever picked him up. Another in the long line of NFL combine and work out warriors Al Davis fell in love with who was a huge bust.
#7 John Clay OL: #1, #15 overall (1987 draft)
When Missouri stand out John Clay was drafted by the Raiders #15 overall, the Raiders thought they had a tackle for the next 10 years. At 6’ 5” and an athletic 300 lbs., he fit the mold as a huge Raiders OL. After 1 year though the Raiders realized they had made a mistake. They traded him to the Chargers along with two draft choices for all world OL Jim Lachey. Problem was they traded Lachey; who starred for Washington; for Jay Schroeder who never panned out at QB. Clay only started in 10 games and played 2 seasons in the NFL until he was out of the league.
#6 Ted Watts S: #1, #21 overall (1981 draft)
What made this pick so painful is that the Raiders also had the #23 pick in the first round and they selected OL Curt Marsh who rarely played due to injuries. In 5 years Marsh was out of the NFL with only 22 starts. If it wasn’t for 2nd round pick Howie Long this draft would have been disastrous.
Al Davis told the media, Hanford Dixon, and anyone else that would listen that he was taking the Southern Mississippi CB if he was there at the #21 pick. Dixon was there but Al Davis took Ted Watts out of Texas Tech instead. Why? Because he had better 40 times than Dixon and because Dixon refused to run more than once. Dixon went on to a storied 9 year career at Cleveland being one of the best CB’s in the NFL. The 3 time pro bowler is revered in Cleveland and in all those years he missed 5 starts.
Ted Watts only started 22 games in 4 years with the Raiders and he just never caught on as a starter. He was not a good tackler and seemed over-matched in coverage. He bounced around to the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers and was out of the league in 6 years only starting in 25 of the 74 games he played.
#5 Patrick Bates S: #1, #12 overall (1993 draft)
Some thought the Raiders might go with Alabama safety George Teague who thrived on making big plays but the Raiders stood pat and chose Texas A & M star Patrick Bates. He was a part of the Aggies famous “Wrecking Crew” defense.
His first year was at UCLA and within a month of each other his mother and grandmother; who he was very close to; both died. After transferring to Texas A & M for a new start, he was arrested for assault.
He was eventually arrested for holding a woman at gun point. On the field he wasn’t much better. He seemed more athlete than football player and wasn’t that big of a hitter either. He was out of the league in 3 years ending his career with 1 interception. Teague had a 9 year career and even though it wasn’t great, he had some great moments and some good seasons. He still holds the record for a post season interception returned for a touchdown with his 101 yard interception return against Detroit in the first round of the 1993 playoffs.
#4 Bob Buczcowski DE: #1, #24 overall (1986 draft)
This guy really was a pimp. This is a name that the Raiders; and especially the NFL want you to forget. Bob had a good career at Pitt and the Raiders seemed to like him more than some other teams which had him going in the second round. The Raiders chose him and the rest is infamous history.
He played for the Raiders one year and was let go. He then played a year each at Arizona and Cleveland before he was out of the league.
In 2005 he was arrested for being a co-conspirator in a drug and prostitution ring in Pennsylvania. His live in girlfriend was Amy Schifano who was known as the Monroeville Madam. It was said that they had up to 300 calls a day and they rented hotel rooms for clients. There also was cocaine distribution involved. Facing 87 years in prison, Buzcowski turned states evidence and became a witness for the prosecution for a much reduced sentence. His final sentence was 90 days house arrest. A bust that got busted. Don’t blame me; it writes itself!
#3 Marc Wilson QB: #1, #15 overall (1980 draft)
First off you will not find a nicer guy than Marc Wilson. He ended up being a successful businessman. In a couple of interviews in the last 10 years he summed up his career. “It may not have seemed it at times but I really put my all in my career. Football is my least favorite sport and when I played in the NFL I never felt I was good enough to have control over the game. It was always a struggle. In basketball and baseball I felt in control. I just wish it would have went better. I don’t even watch football anymore and have no desire to go to games.”
With a rocket arm but little accuracy, Marc Wilson was drafted by the Raiders out of BYU. He was one of the originators of the QBU era of the Cougars. In a QB poor draft the Raiders knew that Jim Plunkett was still kind of a crap shoot. From 1980-1986, the Raiders had a revolving door at QB. Plunkett would start and then struggle and then Marc Wilson would take over. Wilson would struggle or get hurt and then Plunkett started. Add an injury here and there and it was a mess at times. In that time Plunkett had one really good year in 1983 (Raiders won the Super Bowl), and Wilson had one good year in 1985 (Raiders were considered favorites to go to the Super Bowl).
In 1985 Wilson was atrocious in the first round of the playoffs and the heavily favored Raiders lost to the Patriots 27-20 at home. Wilson was 11 for 27 with 3 INT’s and 1 TD and was booed off the field. The upstart Patriots shocked the NFL by going to the Super Bowl and being destroyed by the 1985 Bears.
In his 8 years as a Raider QB he only started 50 games. He was 31-19 and he gave Raider fans nightmares. Many feel if it wasn’t for injuries in the 1970’s the Raiders would have had 1 more Super Bowl win, and if it had better QB play in the 80’s they would have had 1 more Super Bowl win in that decade as well. The Raiders had a lot of talent but the Plunkett/Wilson roller coaster was a hit or miss saga with more misses than hits as time went on. To old school Raider fans, just the mention of Marcs name brings tingles down the spine. What could have been.
In the late 1980’s ESPN started picking up a loyal viewership and Todd Marinovich was one of their first media darlings.
Lost in Robo QB history, was that his father Marv was the first ever strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He was hired by? Al Davis. He studied Eastern Bloc training methods and many of his methods were used in the origination of core training and are still used today.
Todd as an infant teethed on frozen liver and kidneys. He could not eat white sugar or processed food and only drank raw milk. Up until his adulthood he was not allowed to eat fast food or sweets. He rarely ate red meat.
After his parents divorced he really was out of control. His pot use was so bad in high school opponents fans chanted Marijuanavich & he was busted for cocaine. President Reagan honored Todd at his home after a big win & he was the Johnny Manziel of his time with celebs always wanting to party with him.
In the pro’s his drug use was worse. He passed NFL drug tests by using friends urine, until once he used a friend that had partied all night and he tested positive for alcohol. He then turned to LSD which wasn’t tested for. He was out of the league in 2 years starting only 9 games including 1 playoff game where he threw 4 INT’s in a 10-6 loss to Kansas City. Pittsburgh attempted to sign him but he told them he no longer wanted to play in the NFL. He played in Canada for a short time. A real troubled person who seems to be doing better in life.
#1 Jamarcus WR: #1, #1 overall (2007 draft)
It’s funny how many Raider fans defended these picks at the time (Come on; you know who you are). My fights online with them are of legend. This was another one of those picks I hated and maybe received the most hate of all time. Here were iconic college players Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson who were men among boys in college being thrown away for Jamarcus Russell. A guy that got famous in a bowl game against a Notre Dame defense that was one of the worst in the country and the NFL combines where he threw 65 yards on one knee.
Russell in college was an amazing athlete. He was huge; 6’ 6” and 270. Problem was against teams like Auburn and others who ran a pro style type defense he struggled. He was not an accurate QB but he could throw it a mile. At the NFL combines he wowed teams with his size and big arm. John Clayton said, “how could anyone not pick him #1.”
He played 3 years for the Raiders and in 25 starts he was 7-18. With his poor conditioning and his struggles with drugs, he was let go. He tried some come backs but was never really taken seriously.
Well there you have it. The importance of quality drafts can’t be explained any more clearer than with these busts. The draft is the key to creating and sustaining a winner in the salary cap era.