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“Sid & Marty Krofft Lead the Way & Answer age Old Questions: The top 10 Wild & Crazy Kid’s Shows of the 1970’s”

 

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The simple things.

As time goes on, the struggles of life eventually wear us down and we long for the simpler things of our childhoods. The people, foods, and activities of our youth can fill our hearts with joy in a way few things can and they are greatly missed. One of the things that kids of the 70’s and 80’s enjoyed was some of the wacky kids shows.

For many children of the past, names like Hal Roach, Mel Blanc, William Hanna, Joe Barbera and Walt Disney are as timeless as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. For kids of the 70’s and 80’s, you can add 2 amazing talents in Sid and Marty Krofft. They created shows that few networks backed or liked, but millions still enjoy to this day.   Their crazy use of kid friendly subjects and human puppetry is unmatched.

Some networks still show these classic shows on occasion, but in the 1970’s to the 1980’s, one of the most anticipated days of a kids life was the Cartoon Preview specials on the last Saturday night in August before the new school year begun.   At the time these were highly rated shows and commercials advertising them flooded the television screen. Child stars of the day would host these specials and they were geared literally towards kids. It was an exciting time to see what new kid shows would shown for the fall lineup.

Today we are going to take a special look at the most craziest and quirky kids shows of the 1970’s.

Bigfoot and Wildboy:

Creator: Joe Ruby, Ken Spears, (produced by the Kroffts)

Cast: Ray Young, Joseph Butcher, Monika Ramirez, Ned Romero, Yvonne Regalado, Al Wyatt Jr.

Years: 1977-79

A lost boy in the woods is rescued and raised by a Bigfoot and they fight crime, aliens, and bad guys in a good v.s. evil plot.   This is definitely out there but it’s what the 70’s shows were all about. Ah, and what a good parent Bigfoot is.

 

The Lost Saucer:

Created: Sid & Marty Krofft

Cast: Jim Nabors, Ruth Buzzi, Jarrod Johnson, Alice Playten

Years: 1975-76

Running for only 16 episodes, this series has been greatly forgotten by most. Another one I had never heard of. It was classic Krofft; quirky, thought provoking, kind; with each show having either an environmental or social theme. It was interesting though because they would take the saucer into the past and into the future to try and get back home. Some of the stories were very thought provoking. Jim Nabors and Ruth Buzzi are interesting to watch in this outside the box performance that stretches their vast talents. An underrated show for sure.

 

The New Zoo Revue:

Creator: Doug Momary, Barbara Atlas

Cast: Doug Momary, Emily Peden, Sharon Baird, Yanco Inone, Larri Thomas, Chuck Woolery, Fran Ryan

Years: 1972-77

This was one of the most popular shows for pre-schoolers along with Romper Room and the Captain Kangaroo. The show mixed humans with life-size talking animals. It won several educational awards and is thought of as being one of the top preschool shows ever made. It has had a couple of revivals and it still remains a favorite of baby boomers who have turned the show on to their kids and grandkids.   And yes, below is game show host Chuck Woolery as Mr. Dingle.

Go on Youtube and check out their outtakes which have been released.   Racy, sexual and over the top funny.   They definitely had fun. If you are easily offended, I’d probably avoid them.

 

The Bugaloos:

Creator: Sid and Marty Krofft

Cast: John McIndoe, Caroline Ellis, John Philpott, Wayne Laryea, Martha Raye, Billy Barty, Sharon Baird, Joy Campbell, Van Snowden

Years: 1970-72

Another short lived Krofft show with a large cult following was the Bugaloos.   With it’s ABBA style songs and outfits, it remains a cult classic especially abroad. It pretty much was a show about 4 cute British teens in bug costumes who sing and have conflicts with the jealous Benita Bizarre played by the great Martha Raye.

The young cast said that Martha Raye and Billy Barty helped them immensely and were the kindest, most fun people. There was a Bugaloo’s movie in the works at the time because of it’s popularity, but due to Universal going bankrupt, the idea was nixed.

 

Dr. Shrinker:

Creator: Sid and Marty Krofft

Cast: Jay Robinson, Billy Barty, Ted Eccles, Susan Lawrence, Jeff MacKay

Years: 1976-77

Another show introduced during the Krofft Supershow was Dr. Shrinker.   A great cast along with catchy music, (this is one of my favorite intro songs); created a fun and popular show.   The diabolical Dr. Shrinker uses a shrink ray to shrink 3 young adults whose plane has crash landed on an island.   The show pretty much is Dr. Shrinker catching the “Shrinkies” and then them escaping. Mainstay Billy Barty plays his evil side kick Igor. He wants to sell the ray to the highest bidder and then give the Shrinkies to the second highest bidder. It was another show that was introduced on the Krofft Supershow that ran for 2 years. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (video below with Deidre Hall & Judy Stungis) were introduced at the same time and it only aired for one season as well. Dr. Shrinker is one of the lesser remembered and known shows but it definitely is loved by the Krofft’s, and their fans.

 

 

Sigmund and The Sea Monster:

Creator: Sid & Marty Krofft

Cast: Billy Barty, Johnny Whitaker, Scott Kolden, Mary Wickes, Joe Higgins, Rip Taylor, Fran Ryan, Fred Spencer, Paul Gale, Van Snowden, Sharon Baird, Sparky Marcus, Margaret Hamilton, Walker Edmiston, Sidney Miller

Years: 1973-75

A show that was near and dear to the Krofft’s heart. Sigmund was another classic show that kids of all ages enjoyed. The legend Billy Barty played Sigmund, and even if he wasn’t feeling really well he still did some very physically trying scenes in the Sigmund the sea monsters suit. “Billy was amazing”, said Marty Krofft. “He would do things for us that he wouldn’t do for anyone else”.

This is the story of a friendly sea monster who is kicked out of the sea by his underwater family because he won’t scare people. He is then befriended by two boys who help protect him.   Margaret Hamilton also was added to a great cast. She was famous for being the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz! The story lines are sweet, straight forward, and pleasant to watch.

 

Lidsville:

Creator: Sid and Marty Krofft

Cast: Butch Patrick, Charles Nelson Reilly, Billie Hayes, Lennie Weinrib, Joan Gerber, Walker Edmiston

Years: 1971-73

Another very popular show that only ran a year was Lidsville. The theme song was another classic which was the norm for the Krofft’s. It was a story of a boy that fell into a huge hat owned by Merlo the Magician at 6 Flags in Texas. The boy Mark goes into a world of life sized hats called “lids”. Some people again tried to link drugs to the cartoon because at the time a lid was the street name for a bag of marijuana. Sid Krofft again laughed at this and said he had thought about the idea a while back thinking of the personalities that each hat may have and how everyone liked hats. If it was a cowboy hat, he acted like a cowboy and so on.

This was a lot like the Krofft’s other shows where little people would sometimes be in the costumes while someone else dubbed their voices.   Charles Nelson Reilly played the villain Hoodoo and was a natural. Billie Hayes played Weenie the genie and Butch Patrick played Mark. In the show Mark never really does get back home and he fights beside the good hats to avoid paying the hat check of HooDoo who was helped by 4 bad hats. The Kroffts especially loved this show. At the time, the music became so popular that many of the songs were put on an album by Johnny Whitaker. Another classic.

 

The Electric Company:

Creator: Paul Dooley/PBS

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Irene Cara, Judy Graubart, Rita Moreno, Jim Boyd, Skip Hinnant, Bill Cosby (71-73), Lee Chamberlain (71-73), Luis Avalos (72-77), Hattie Winston (73-77), Danny Seagren (74-77)

Years: 1971-77

Sesame Street and the Electric Company are probably the greatest kids shows of all time. The EC was unique and fun and very different because it used sketch comedy to teach kids to read. With an all star cast and guest stars in the likes of Michael Landon, Dean Martin, Carol O’Conner, Woody Allen, Barbara Eden, Joe Namath, Walt Frazier, Lily Tomlin, celebrities flocked to try to be on this show. It was popular and very well done with recurring favorite characters.   They tried to re-launch it in the last 10 years and it was awful. They did an amazing 780 shows with an average of 130 shows a year for 6 years.   Wow. Some series today have literally 8 shows in a full season.

The EC was groundbreaking and was even endorsed by the U.S. government and many educational organizations. It was always near or at the top of kids show ratings but was cancelled due to it being expensive to run. While the Muppets and Sesame Street could make a bundle in merchandise, the Electric Company was very limited on what it could sell. It helped the careers of many stars as well and remains one of the great kids shows of all time.

 

The Land Of The Lost:

Creator: Sid and Marty Krofft

Cast: Spencer Milligan (Seasons 1 & 2), Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, Phillip Paley, Ron Harper (Season 3)

Years: 1974-76

Name another kids show who had writers from Star Trek writing episodes for it. The Land of the Lost remains one of the great Krofft shows. When Marshall and his 2 kids Will and Holly get caught in a dimensional portal after an earthquake, they go to a strange land where dinosaurs rule. While trying to get home, Grumpy the T-Rex was their biggest worry, but most of the dinosaurs were friendly herbivores. They fight the evil Sleestak’s and befriend Cha-Ka of the Pakuni tribe. Spencer Milligan who played Marshall, left the show at the start of the third season because he wanted more salary and he thought the cast should get a cut of their images and the merchandise that had become popular. The 70’s was not exactly a decade for tv actors to get rich and many times they were not paid much in residuals or merchandise, if at all.

The original cast can often be seen at reunions and fan signings. It remains arguably the most popular show the Krofft’s have ever done. Want to win a bar bet? What future NBA star was an original Sleestak? It was none other than the World Champion Detroit Pistons Bill Laimbeer.   When he attended Palos Verdes High School, he was asked to be a Sleestak due to how tall and skinny he was.

 

H.R. Pufnstuf:

Creator: Sid and Marty Krofft

Cast: Jack Wilde, Billie Hayes, Lennie Weinrib, Joan Gerber, Walker Edmiston

Years: 1969-70

You want to know how great this show is? At the time the show was aired, the Beatles would ask for tapings of it sent to them directly by the Krofft’s. Teens and high school kids would write the show by the thousands.   They only did 17 episodes and even today it has a huge cult following. TV Guide rated it their 22nd greatest cult tv shows of all time. Add another classic hit theme, and it’s hard to top H.R. Pufnstuf.  This is considered their other greatest show along with Land of the Lost.

With the iconic Jack Wild (he played the greatest artful dodger of all time in the 1968 film Oliver which he got an Academy Award Nomination); Witchiepoo played by Billie Hayes (always flying her Vroom Broom) and the amazing adventures of good v.s. evil; this show captured the hearts of kids all over the world. There were rumors that Wild got a million dollars to do this show.

I cheated a little. This was actually created at the very end of 1969, but most of its airplay occurred in the 1970’s. Below they answer the age old question if drugs fueled the name of the show. Who’s your friend when things get rough?  H.R. Pufnstuf, because he can’t do a little if he can’t do enough.

Jim’s Jamz:

The longer I’m around the more I realize what’s popular isn’t always good and what’s good isn’t always popular.  Citizen Kane wasn’t widely seen for over 20 years and the public wasn’t that thrilled about it at the time anyway.  The Wizard of Oz took 25 years just to break even and that was after network television began to show it.  The networks wanted to cancel Hill Street Blues but they were nominated for so many Emmy’s that they kept it on.  In some instances though, the networks just don’t back what is popular.  That was the case with many of the Krofft’s shows.

Sid and Marty Krofft blazed trails and showed the way to a new type of kids show.  Sid; laid back and full on hippy; and high strung and tell it like it is Marty; created entertainment that will live forever. Their search for a kind, gentle, and peaceful world through their television shows, resonates with many even today.

What Sesame Street, the Kroft’s and Mr. Rogers did was they listened to kids; whether young or old.  Parts of these creators never grew up and they fed a kid’s passion for adventure, excitement, fantasy, and kindness without dumbing them down with violence and sex flooding the screen.  That is something many of today’s parents and tv shows have forgotten.  Let kids be kids and cherish their wonder, imagination and innocence for as long as you can.  And if you’re lucky, a part of them will never grow up too.

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“Oakland Raiders great Phil Villapiano; A Hall of Fame Man, Living a Hall of Fame Life”

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Phil & his daughter Andrea

(I humbly thank Andrea Villapiano Kelly for allowing me to use some of her private photos that I’m able to share with you)

Please follow Phil’s Facebook Page; get him into the NFL Hall of Fame!  Show that Raider loyalty!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1878470965816620/ 

Follow them on Twitter:     https://twitter.com/VillapianOK

 

A Hall of Famer in my world.

Friends used to ask who do you want on a podcast or even to just have a beer with.  The 4 people remain the same.  Ken Stabler, Bill King, John Madden, and Phil Villapiano. Today I’m writing about one of the most popular Raider players of all time, and one of my dad’s favorites in Phil Villapiano.   “Foo” was a Raider from the start.

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Phil during his days at Bowling Green; team MVP and defensive player of the year

From Day One:

When Phil Villapiano was drafted, most teams had him going in the 3rd or 4th round. The Raiders drafted him in the 2nd round out of Bowling Green which was a surprise to some. Many teams had Villapiano listed at only 210 pounds, being too small to play linebacker.   Back then there was no NFL combines or official weigh ins, so most teams would share information with each other to save money and time.  The Raiders refused to share information.

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Phil with his sons Phil & Michael

What the Raiders knew about Villapiano was that he was legitimately 225 pounds. He was an instinctive player who loved to hit. His speed laterally was excellent and a big part of his game. He could play every down and had great feel in pass coverage.   In the same draft Oakland selected Jack Tatum, Clarence Davis, and backup tight end Bob Moore. With Tatum and Villapiano, they had 2 hard hitters to go with another that loved contact in George Atkinson. The Raiders added Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas in the following draft and their back 7 was as physical and skilled as any in the history of the game.

The Raiders offenses were awesome but most forget that in 3 Super Bowl wins the Raiders only gave up 33 points and had three great QB’s in Fran Tarkenton, Ron Jaworski & Joe Theismann running for their lives most of the time.  In fact all 4 teams in last years AFC and NFC Championship games were in the top 5 scoring defenses in the entire NFL.  It isn’t sexy but defense still wins championships.

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Dave Rowe, Ted Hendricks, Phil Villapiano, Ken Stabler

Phil’s Coming Out Party:

In week 3 of the 1971 season, rookie Villapiano was thrown into the fire and he had to start due to injuries at linebacker. Phil had an amazing game on national television against the Browns in front of 84,000 screaming Cleveland fans. To the dismay of every fan outside of Oakland, Howard Cosell raved about Phil during the Raiders 34-20 win, making him a household name over night and announce another weapon for the hated Oakland Raiders.

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Phil Speaking after he was elected to the College Senior Bowl Hall of Fame

A Key Member of the Raiders Defense:

Phil soon became a mainstay in the Raiders physical style of play.  He could cover all parts of the field, and his violent play was just what the Raiders wanted.   In front of the famous “Soul Patrol” and behind an aggressive and relentless defensive line, Monte Johnson, Ted Hendricks, Willie Hall, and Villapiano manned one of the more underrated LB crews and defenses in the NFL. Al Davis and Ron Wolf’s motto for their defense was one thing; the QB must go down, and go down hard. Raider fans loved seeing Villapiano slowly and methodically hitting his arm pad on the line of scrimmage letting opponents know that he was coming and he was going to hit somebody.

(A video showing the brutality of the Raiders defense and Phil Villapiano’s team “activities”)

The renegade Raiders were by far the king of bay area sports and they capped off their success in 1976 with a dominating performance in Super Bowl 11 with a win over the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14. There were some sweaty palms at the start of the game though. The Raiders took the opening kickoff and went down the field but kicker Errol Mann missed a 29 yard field goal. Later in the 1st, Viking great Fred McNeil blocked a Ray Guy punt for Guy’s first blocked punt in his career.   Minnesota recovered it on the Raiders 3 yard line and Raider fans began to worry. On third down, Villapiano forced a fumble from RB Brent McClanahan which fellow LB Willie Hall recovered and the Raiders went on a long drive for a short FG. Phil’s key play changed the momentum of the game.

(Phil is even clutch during a fun time at the 2009 Biletnikoff Celebrity Golf Tournament)

The Wild Days In Oakland:

Along with their amazing winning ways, Oakland also lead the league in having fun. The Raiders off the field craziness was unequalled, with Phil Villapiano being the unofficial ring leader of all of the antics. The stories of the Raiders training camp days in Santa Rosa are of legend. So many fans enjoyed spending time with players at North Bay hotspots and one of their favorites to party with was Villapiano and Ken Stabler.

(Phil’s interview on his foundation to save the Jersey Shore after hurricane Sandy)

He would set up activities and games to break the monotony of training camp.   And as many players have said, cheating was not only encouraged but a necessity. Players drank with fans, outcasts, and anyone else that was considered part of the Raider family. Hells Angels and the Black Panthers would befriend some Raiders, and even a few shady figures would emerge. While most celebrities loved glamorous teams like the Cowboys, actors like James Garner became friends with the Raiders of the 70’s along with owner Al Davis.

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Phil Loves his golf especially charity events

From paying a woman to run naked across the practice field, to setting a small fire to stop the monotony of training camp, the pranks were wild and Phil was usually the instigator. Phil once even helped put on a wedding at one of the restaurants with some of the Raiders helping with the direction and officiating of the nuptials. After passing the hat around they helped the couple go on a honeymoon. Of course the wedding was bogus, and to this day no one knew if the couple ever found out they really weren’t married.

Phil & the Raiders Legacy:

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Phil is all smiles giving the #1 sign late in the game of the Raiders 1st Super Bowl win against the Vikings

I fought with some old time NFL fans and writers last year who tried to downplay how good the Raiders were. We all know how I love facts so I was loaded for bear. Daryle Lamonica was 38-4-1 in his first 43 starts for Oakland.   Ken Stabler was 50-11-1 in his first 62 starts and the Raiders were 18-1-1 in their first 20 Monday night football games. No offense, but if Derek Carr and the Raiders had those stats today, with the fervor of social media, they would be erecting statues for them.

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Raiders Greats; Phil Villapiano and Jim Otto

The Facts About The Raiders & the 1970’s:

The Raiders won more games than any other team in the NFL in the 1970’s, the greatest decade in NFL history.   During the 1970-75 dynasty of the Miami Dolphins, the Raiders were 4-2 against the mighty Dolphins including 2-1 in the playoffs. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s, the Raiders were the only team with success owning a 6-5 record. They were 2-3 against Pittsburgh in the playoffs but one of those wins was the Immaculate Reception, and another was the 16-10 loss in Pittsburgh, where “somehow” outside the hash-marks the field had become completely frozen after the Steelers groundskeepers allegedly watered it down in the frigid cold of a Pennsylvania winter day. One of the few players Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Mel Blount struggled with was Cliff Branch. Al Davis got in an argument, yelling at Pete Rozelle before the game on the field saying how this now limited Cliff Branch’s speed. And they say the Raiders cheated!

In an online contest created by the NFL on their website, the 1976 Raiders were voted the greatest team in NFL history by over 5.2 million fans.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/over-5-2-million-nfl-fans-vote-the-1976-oakland-raiders-the-best-team-of-all-time/

Phil was a big part of all this success. In fact most felt the Raiders were better in 1977 but Phil and OL John Vella had season ending injuries.  The beat up Raiders were never healthy for the rest of the decade.   Eventually he was traded to Buffalo not long after he made comments that the Raiders needed to stay in Oakland. He said that he never felt those comments got Al Davis mad, but Phil is a nicer guy than I am and I’m not so sure.

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Phil making sure Steelers great Franco Harris goes nowhere.

Phil is Just as Good Off the Field:

First off, congratulations to Phil who just won the Jersey Shore’s greatest Sports Personality in the last 50 years! We hope that this is not the last HOF he gets into.  Again, please go to his Facebook page to support his Hall of Fame run.

http://shoresportsnetwork.com/phil-villapiano/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1878470965816620/

When I first worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation in honor of my cousin Celestina, I was so happy to see Phil Villapiano being such a huge contributor for them. Phil has lent himself to many charities and he is beloved by fans and organizations alike. Phil is in various Hall of Fames and his other charities include saving the Jersey Shore after hurricane Sandy and MDA & ALS.

http://www.niashf.org/inductees/phil-villapiano/

The story of Phil giving his Super Bowl ring to inspire a man in a wheel chair is amazing and continues to spread online.

http://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2017/02/one_raiders_star_walked_the_walk_with_the_gift_of.html

He also has bravely offered his brain to CTE research as well. Players like Jim Plunkett and George Atkinson have discussed the issue and the struggles they are having, and Phil also has done several interviews on the effects that football has had on his body.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/04/21/raiders-great-phil-villapiano-pledges-brain-to-research/

Phil recently has joined his voice with other former NFL players to support flag football instead of tackle football for kids under the age of 14.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/health/nfl-no-tackle-football-kids/index.html

Jim’s Jamz:

Phil joins the ranks of so many special Raider players. Their love of life, football and their fellow man is both inspiring and endearing. Born in Long Branch, New Jersey and raised in Asbury Park, Phil has left his mark on many hearts around the country. He has seen pain and tragedy but through it all he lives life with joy and a smile. Graduating from Bowling Green and making a name on the national scene in Oakland, he is more than a college icon, former NFL Rookie of the Year, 2 time all NFL player, or 5 time all AFC player. A lot more.

I was once asked on a podcast why the Raiders players relationship with the fans was so special because they said they just didn’t understand it.  I said, “Most people look at the players as celebrity athletes. It’s their team. Even though I was too little to understand anything, in Oakland the Raiders were not celebrities but they were considered family. The players were underpaid so many worked, played and were socially active with the fans.   They also genuinely enjoyed and cared for each other, and the players were a part of the community. From Al Davis who the NFL and most owners hated; to the great Bill King who the networks and the Warriors took off of tv for looking like the Devil; neither they, the players or the fans really fit in anywhere.  Except in Oakland”.

“They worked hard and played hard and loved their families. They were outcasts and throw aways that made sense to no one. The players were always too old, wild, or too slow or not big enough.  Al Davis would see their heart and take them in.  Then you put them all together with an East Bay attitude under an overcast, grey sky in Oakland on a crisp fall day, and together they all made sense. They won and they dominated.  The pride; the winning; the diversity in race and religion; it was the best relationship in sports.  No stadium was louder, no bond stronger”.

From New Jersey to California, Phil has never lost who he was and who was there for the ride. His loyalty and love for fans and family is contagious. And anyone that could put a smile on my mom and dad’s face has my loyalty.

(The Amazing run of the Raiders; The Rebels of Oakland)

They say never meet your heroes, and when I first started my medical business in the bay area, I was able to meet some A-List athletes and celebrities that I admired.  Most were ok, but a couple turned out to be arrogant, self absorbed and just plain strange and it hurt.  Raider fans are lucky because for the most part they are never disappointed.  Meet Lester Hayes or Jim Otto or Phil Villapiano, and they will have you leaving with a smile.  Phil is a fan favorite due to his whit, love of life, and passionate heart.  He’s never really received the credit he deserved on the field, but let’s be real, many Raiders haven’t.  People forget the east coast media dominated sports at the time.  I’m sorry but waiting this long for Cliff Branch, Lester Hayes, Jack Tatum and Phil Villapiano is unacceptable and I’ve told the NFL writers as such.  (Don’t get me started on Ken Stabler). Phil is already in our HOF and I hope Phil truly knows just how special he is to the bay area.

So if you are having a rough day, open your favorite adult beverage and go on youtube and enjoy the Super Bowl and championship games all over again. Check out Phil’s interviews that will leave you inspired and always laughing. Reminisce about the players and friends and family that you shared these amazing times with. Remember loved ones that are no longer with us that you shared so much with and who started your journey as a Raider fan.  The Sea of Hands; The Holy Roller; the Ghost to the Post; the Heidi Game; and all that winning. For me, every time I watch these videos and see the feelings of joy in the fans and the players, it’s as exciting as the Klondike, flying over the Atlantic, or the story of the White Whale.

How innocent were those days….how rich we are to have known them.

“Are the Raiders in Better Shape Than People Think? Key Stats on The Teams of the AFC West”

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Navorro Bowman makes a tackle against the Chiefs

 

While people were trying to figure out why the Raiders were 2-4 in the early season, I and others took a simple approach and looked at the x’s and o’s. Teams had adjusted to the short passes of the Raiders passing game and we’re forcing them to throw deep and they were failing. I’ve been screaming for three weeks for the Raiders do to two things; open up the offense and throw downfield; and blitz often. They did both and pulled out a win at home against Kansas City and looked like a different team.

Even with the trying season and the need to talk fans off the ledge due to week to week reaction, in reality the Raiders have more of a chance than people think to get into the playoffs and possibly even win the division.

In Reality:

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. No, the Raiders don’t have amazing talent on defense and no they are not going to be good on that side of the ball this year. They may have some moments but for the most part they are not able to get it done.  The offense is going to have to carry them and if they don’t play well, the Raiders are toast. Next year the Raiders HAVE to fix the defensive front 7 or they are going to turn into the Miami Dolphins of the 80’s and 90’s; all offense, little defense. Ask Dan Marino how many Super Bowl trophies he has.

No, Derek Carr isn’t the greatest QB in Raiders history and yes, he struggles big time if he’s rushed. Last year he was the best protected QB in the NFL and he thrived. This year he has had just ok protection and he’s struggled for the most part. In the KC game he was never sacked and had great protection and threw for over 400 yards. NOT a coincidence.

After admitting these facts, we can now look at the 4 teams and how they may fare for the rest of the season.

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L.A. Chargers Melvin Ingram

Los Angeles Chargers:

As wrestling star Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner used to say, pass rushing star Melvin Ingram is “legit”.  While future star Joey Bosa gets most of the publicity, Ingram has turned into a one man wrecking crew with his fast and physical style.  The Chargers DL is the real deal.

I like what is happening on the defensive side of the ball in Los Angeles for both teams. The formula in the wins for this team is simple; keep it close or get a lead, and then let the pass rush and pass defense take over. In the last 3 weeks that formula has worked.

The Chargers have been on their biggest high in a very long time. They have won their last 3 games beating the Giants and the Raiders on the road in close games, and then last week they shut out the punch-less Denver Broncos 21-0 in Los Angeles.

Their defense has been a key to their wins, especially in the red zone, not allowing a red zone touchdown in 3 weeks. They are 5th against the pass but are 31st against the run.

We will find out just how good the Chargers are this weekend when they visit New England. At 3-4 they still have a long way to go to take the division and their offense hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard. They are still very one dimensional being 8th in the NFL in passing yardage per game, and even with Melvin Gordon they are 31st in the run game.

Can They Win The AFC West:

The Chargers have some brutal road games ahead at New England, Jacksonville, Dallas and at Kansas City. They also have home games with Washington and Oakland ahead.

They will go as far as their offense takes them which I don’t think is far enough. Even with all of the publicity Phillip Rivers gets, earlier this year they broke a 24 game streak of not scoring a TD in the last two minutes of the half or at the end of a game. Could you imagine Tom Brady, Joe Montana or Ken Stabler having that streak? I don’t trust Phillip Rivers who to me is more of a stat stuffer than a winning QB at the end of games. A good guy, good QB but not great. The new rules are making legends out of average to good Qb’s because their stats are extremely hyper-inflated due to the rule changes the past 6 years.  Look at the ridiculous illegal use of the hands call against KC on the play when Derek Carr fumbled.  He literally didn’t touch the WR after 5 yards and barely patted him within 5 yards.  In the 70’s-90’s that would have been considered a hand shake.  That changed the game and it was a call you don’t see in flag football.  The rules have gone overboard, but that is for another day.

The Chargers lack of a running game also continues to limit their offense. I don’t see them winning the division but a possible .500 record isn’t a crazy idea.

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Kansas City Chiefs:

I’ve never been a huge Andy Reid fan but I’m really not getting what is going on in KC.  I just read where Justin Houston; the Chiefs all star stud pass rusher; is now being asked to fall back into pass coverage 25% of the time.  That is the third highest % of any edge rusher in the NFL.  Here is a guy that can take over a game by himself and he’s in coverage 1/4th of the time?  Wow.

The Chiefs defense used to carry them, and now it hinders them and they continue to struggle on defense. They are 25th against the run and 28th against the pass. Their pass rush when only rushing 4 players, hasn’t been good at all. They have only 15 sacks in 7 games and that is not KC football. The offense continues to shine being a top 5 offense. They did fail on their last drive against Oakland though when they could have iced the game.

The Chiefs offense is still on a roll and they have a key game at home with Denver next. With Denver struggling so much on offense this looks like a Chiefs win right?   This is the NFL folks.

Can They Win the Division?:

Right now they are in the drivers seat, and if they beat Denver they are in great shape. With the easiest schedule ahead of all of the 4 teams, it will be hard to beat the Chiefs for the division.  KC is the odds on favorite right now but anything can happen.

CJ ANDERSON
Broncos CJ Anderson scores a TD in the snow in Denver.

Denver Broncos:

I don’t care about all the love that Tony Romo and all of the other announcers give to Bronco QB Trevor Siemian; I think it’s become illegal for announcers to tell the truth anymore about NFL QB’S; he is a bad NFL QB.

With a lack of accuracy and vision to make the right throw, the Denver offense is hamstrung at QB. In their 3 losses this year, Denver has scored a total of 26 points. And to be shut out on the road against the Chargers 31st ranked run defense, is a bad sign. Bill Musgrave is Denver’s QB coach and he seemed a lot better coach when he had Derek Carr didn’t he? For all of you that want coaches fired after every loss, isn’t that crazy how that works out? Better players make coaches look better?  Insane, I know. (highly sarcastic comment)

To be fair the Broncos left side of their offensive line has struggled all year and that hasn’t helped. Denver is 24th in scoring offense and is middle of the road in many offensive categories, but where they fail is in the red zone. They are 29th in scoring TD’s in the red zone and in their last 3 games they scored a TD in only 11% of their times in the red zone.   On the road for the year their % is an abysmal 25% TD rate in the red zone. I don’t think this trend ends any time soon either. Siemian is a very limited QB and they will struggle in the red zone all year. What is scarier is how come Paxton Lynch cant’ beat him out when he was healthy?

Defensively Denver is 6th against the pass and 2nd against the run but they are 13th in sacks with 18 for the year. Their defense is still really good, but just not as dominating as in the past.

Can They Win The Division:

Denver will always be in the hunt because of their defense, but their offense is a hindrance. It’s hard seeing Denver taking this division unless Siemian improves, especially in the red zone. Don’t be surprised if you have a Brock Osweiller sighting soon.  Osweiller was re-signed in the first week in September.  Looking at the QB situation in Denver, it’s like I’m a sick child and the doctor asks if I want castor oil or a shot. With Paxton Lynch’s constant injury issues, the QB situation is as bad as it gets in the mile high city.

In regards to their schedule, Denver also has to play away games in Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia and Washington, along with home games with New England and Kansas City.  With that schedule the odds of winning the division is shrinking. They are on the outside looking in if they lose to Kansas City in their next game.

DeAndre+Washington+wF8XO9qxxoYm
Raiders DeAndre Washington scores a TD against KC on a tough run

Oakland Raiders:

After 4 straight losses with some Raider fans getting ready to throw everyone off the plank including the cheerleaders and announcers, the Raiders saved the season from going under with a big win against Kansas City at home. Even with this win there is a lot to do.

With the signing of Navorro Bowman, the Raiders now have a quality LB that is better than anyone they presently have on the roster. He’s no where near the same player that was one of the best in the NFL, but he definitely can still produce. Even with Bowman the Chiefs were 8-15 on third down and had 425 totally yards of offense. I’ve talked at length about the defense in past articles, so let’s just say that Oakland’s defense is not good, and it’s not going to be good for the rest of the season.  He’s not going to help much in coverage but he does make the defense a little better.

For the Raiders to win, their offense will have to carry them like they did in the previous game. I was against the signing of Marshawn Lynch from the start and I really like the Raiders stable of RB’s.  It will be interesting to see how they do against the stout defense of the Buffalo Bills.  The Raiders have a nice match-up against a Buffalo team that has a solid defense but not much of an offense outside of LeSean McCoy. Tyrod Taylor is very limited at QB and a close Raiders win is probable but nothing is for sure.

The problem is down the road. After playing in Buffalo, they play a night game against Miami which I think they can do well in. Then it gets interesting. The Raiders go to Mexico to play New England, and have home games against Denver, Dallas & the NY Giants. Add road games in Kansas City, Philadelphia and against the Chargers and the Raiders second half schedule is as tough as anyone’s. The Chiefs and Eagles (on Christmas Day) games will be at least cold if not snowy. California teams don’t exactly thrive in the snow.  As a lifelong northern Californian, I personally don’t even like to open the freezer let alone be in the cold midwest or east.

Will The Raiders Win the Division?

There are two huge games that will help in determining if the Raiders can win the division. One will be the Denver game in Kansas City this weekend. If KC wins that game, they regain control. Another game is the Chiefs hosting the Raiders in December.   If the Raiders lose that game it’s hard to impossible to see them winning the division. As viewers it’s always fun to look ahead but in reality every week is like the playoffs and you can’t take anyone lightly anymore in the salary cap era.   Every team has issues and it all changes week to week, especially with injuries.

The Bills game should be a tough, grinding game for Oakland.  With temperatures in the 40’s with a 70% chance of rain expected, the road starts out as a tough one in upstate New York for the Silver and Black.  The road to the AFC West crown will be a wild one for each team.

“Video Surfaces Of Donald Penn’s Confrontation with A Fan; Bad Behavior; Raider Nation’s Black Sunday”

don penn

Tomorrow I will be writing about the solutions the Raiders need to be successful this year.  But today I’m doing something much different.

I pride myself on being objective but today I’m writing as a fan.  Yesterday I read a lot of social media after the Raiders 30-17 loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens.  I’ll have to agree with many Raider fans; never have I seen so much anger and nastiness from Raider fans towards the team, players and other fans in all of my life.  The last 10 days there has been a heaviness on so many people.  With the Las Vegas shooting and the overall dysfunction of our country in general, we are a depressed mess.

Athletes Acting Badly:

I see the anger and nastiness on Twitter and it’s scary that people like this are living among us.  Why do athletes listen so much?  We see it almost every day on social media.  So many 20 and 30 something athletes losing their minds on social media over fans or media who say negative things about them.  The NBA is the worst.  You see players constantly slap fighting with each other verbally like little spoiled Jr. High School girls over petty squabbles or imaginary slights.

The Golden State Warriors Kevin Durrant; who many around the team say is a tad eccentric; was hurt by such negativity and was even caught with a fake Twitter account that he used to attack fans and to defend himself.  He later apologized.  A grown friggin man worried about what mostly young fans said behind a computer screen.  That’s some kind of insecurity.

That pales in comparison to what is going on with others.  We now have a video going viral of a long time NFL offensive line coach snorting a “white substance” and sending the video to a female stripper.  How many players like Adrian Peterson are exposed with bad lifestyles when so many look up to them.  Steve McNair; one of the most respected players in the last 25 years and the 1994 recipient of the Walter Payton Award; was murdered by his 20 y/o mistress.  Why? Because he was seeing another mistress.

(Below; Miami Dolphins Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster snorting a white substance)

https://deadspin.com/video-appears-to-show-dolphins-o-line-coach-chris-foers-1819270506

Some players in the NFL have some pretty insane lifestyles; I get that; but it’s out of hand how inappropriate they and society have become.

Raiders Fans & Players Behaving Badly:

Donald Penn was the darling of Raider fans last year.  The year before on social media he was trashed for being old and that he wasn’t worth the money.  He gave up only one sack to Raiders QB Derek Carr all year but unfortunately that sack resulted in Carr breaking his ankle.  It’s all been downhill after that.

(Below: Link to ESPN Donald Penn Story)

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20962438

Penn held out but eventually signed for a 21 million dollar contract, and he’s struggled at times this year.  Fan’s have made him know how upset they are about it on social media and Penn called out one of the fans.  The fan showed up after the game and it got ugly.

(Below; video of Donald Penn confronting Fan)

https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/10/08/raiders-donald-penn-approaches-trash-talking-fan-video

Penn has had several young male Raider fans trash him online and he’s no stranger to battling with them.  During the confrontation several Raider fans started taunting him calling out 21 million, and other fun loving things.  Internet trolls trying to make a name for themselves  on social media acting inappropriately; wow there’s a shocker.  Players feeding into the negativity due to frustration and anger at a 2-3 start with the hardest part of there schedule still in their future has fueled the fire.

There was also a video that I’m not going to post of Raider fans urinating in the stands.  Men are pathetic at times.

What the Hell Has Happened:

Our society is a train wreck of classlessness and selfish behavior.  The arrogance is through the roof.  People hurt others and don’t think twice about it.  Anger and violence is acceptable to many and it’s seen in NFL fans behavior time and time again.

The anger of the team going to Las Vegas and the poor play has created a negativity that I’ve never seen before.  Even as a kid when the Raiders were leaving to Los Angeles, we didn’t want to hurt the players and people for the most part weren’t angry; they were just very sad they were leaving.

The day Al Davis moved to Los Angeles is the day the magic of the Raiders died.  They have never and they will never be the same.  The innocence of that time is gone.  The Raiders were the winningest TEAM in U.S. sports for 25 years (and it wasn’t close) and would soon lose their mojo in Southern California.  When they left, most in LA didn’t bat an eye.  Even the LA Times said good riddance.

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/07/09/sports/pro-football-raiders-divorce-made-in-heaven.html

The team has never been the same but neither have the fans.  The Raiders have a nice niche of younger fans in Southern California but as Raider great Tim Brown said on 95.7 The Game, “not enough to support an NFL Team unless everything is going great”.  In LA the violence of fans during a tumultuous time in society fueled the crime and anger at Raiders games, and it’s been continued to some in a new generation.  In the first 3 months of 2016, 3 of my female Raider followers had been MURDERED by their partners.  All 3 were from Southern California and all 3 of the males had past gang involvement and were vocal Raider fans.  Obviously not all So Cal fans are bad or violent, but this was greatly disturbing.

How to Not Get Caught Up In It:

I’m not Pollyanna.  Raider fans were always pretty vulgar and aggressive, but they were never like this.  And Oakland never was the cesspool of violence that the media portrayed they were.

(Below: link to my article on Raiders v.s. 49ers Fan violence)

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/the-truth-about-oakland-raiders-and-san-francisco-49er-fan-violence/

In reality some people have forgotten what it is to be a Raider fan and they are too caught up in the drama or the attention of it.  It’s about loyalty and family.  The Raider tradition is about winning and having high standards without trolling on the internet and attacking players verbally.  And for God’s sakes it’s not about violence and not being able to control your anger like an 8 year old bully.  Appreciate the tradition and the amazing success the team has had in the past and grow from that tradition to generation to generation.  Life is tough but Raider fans always came through for each other.

It’s not about acting like angry pigs.  It’s not about classlessness and disrespecting the players and those around you.  It’s ok to say something about a players play if they are failing, but to attack them like an anger management flunky shows a new kind of low.

NO ONE; has told the truth about how bad the Raiders have been over the years like I have.  So many trashed me online for being negative but I wasn’t negative.  I was honest and right almost every time.  But I also see improvement in this team with still more work in the front office and on the field to do.  I’ve been honest.  Many have been blind to my honesty and just believe what they want to believe.  Facts > biased opinion.  Being critical is one thing though; being abusive, vulgar and so angry is just weird.

What’s worse, is that many of the people that were so angry yesterday, were the same ones attacking fans and writers who questioned just how good the Raiders were at the beginning of the year.  They change like the wind.  They used to call others haters and now they hate. Often wrong, never in doubt. Some seem to always be attacking someone.

Yesterday was the 6th Anniversary of Al Davis passing.  One of the 5 greatest and most important figures in modern football.  And in all of my years of knowing about this amazing team and dynasty, I’ve never seen so many bad displays from fans.

I was too young to remember a lot of what happened in the Raiders early years, but I’m going to watch a bunch of Raiders videos from the Ken Stabler era tonight.  So many things are messed up with fans behaviors that I just need normality.  I need to see winning and I need to see loyalty.  And I need to feel a team and a fan base acting as one with pure joy, win or lose.  This has been an awful year for me personally and with all that is happening with the Raiders and the fans, I feel like crap and I don’t want to anymore.

Young fans always wonder why people love to talk about the glory days of the Raiders.  It’s because it was life changing.  It was special, fun and inclusive.  No Racism; no violence; no anger in losing.  It was a time of glory and family.  Tomorrow I’ll talk about what is needed on this team and if they can salvage the dreams of this season.  But for today, I’m celebrating the Raiders.  I need this and I think others do too.

 

“Tired of All The Drama Surrounding the NFL’s National Anthem? Here’s How to Survive It”

 

saints

Are you sick of the drama? Me too.

Social media has literally changed everything in our country. It is the fuel of any online forest fire. With most people on facebook and some on twitter, issues get blown way out of proportion.  Where before we were somewhat open minded, tolerant and respectful, the world now laughs at us for being childish, close minded, ignorant, and drop outs for anger management. Some are so hyper sensitive, even the smallest things can set them off. Honey Boo Boo’s reality show looks like Masterpiece Theater compared to what is happening now in America.  The mantra in the U.S. today is, think as I do or you are an idiot. I thought people were supposed to get smarter with age?  Instead many are more aggressive and close minded as ever.  Are you sick of it?  Let’s look at how we can survive all of this Jr. High School drama.

How To Survive This Drama:

  1. Be Open Minded:

Good leadership is so rare in our country because most can’t do 4 things; listen, understand, be compassionate and compromise. If you can’t do these 4 things, you can never be a great leader.

In this situation I totally respect and understand both sides. I think both have good and bad points. If you listen and understand people’s feelings in a rational manner without acting like a hot head, you can get that both sides have valid thoughts and a compromise can be reached.  If we respected each other’s opinions, we could see both sides.

  1. Don’t talk about it or react online.

When people talk about it online, I just move on. Everyone says the same thing over and over and I’m pretty sick of it.   The media is loving this. They now show the national anthem as if it was a game itself. And oh the commentary.

I’m not a drama guy so I don’t get off on it. I’ll avoid it and watch the game. I don’t care what some jock, ex jock, celebrity or team owner has to say about the situation. I don’t know them and they are not my role models. I don’t look up to them for moral or spiritual leadership. And for all the love he is getting, I especially don’t look up to Jerry Jones. Just look on the internet to Jerry Jones history and partying ways. Character is what you do behind closed doors, NOT what you do when you know everyone is watching.

So many are nasty online and if you engage with them, you are just going to make yourself crazy.  On Facebook just keep scrolling.  Even if it’s a friend or even if you are asked what you think, just move on.  People no longer want to talk about things so they can get others viewpoints.  All they want to do is have people agree with them, or to attack those that don’t.

Texans Patriots Football

  1. Stop debating with those that are close minded:

Remember that a lot of adults today are close minded and it really comes out online. Two thirds of the country blindly back either the Republican or Democratic party like cult members, and the final third of the country is shaking their heads.  Social media has also made us all feel very self important; especially through our viewpoints. For many their biases and prejudices from their parents have really stuck to them.

I remember being 18 and my father trying to tell me how to vote in my first election.   I told him I’d listen to him but I’d vote how I felt I should. My dad liked that I stood up to him and thought for myself.  My parents told me to always do what is right even if the world is going the other way.  When you deal with facts and what is right or wrong, you realize you should not trust ANY politician or ANY political party. Just look at history.  In fact it sounds ignorant and naive to me to trust these people.

AVOID talking to biased people about this situation like the plague. NO GOOD can come from it. You cannot debate them or reason with them. They will not listen to you and they think if you don’t think like them then you are an idiot. I personally listen to everyone but I also realize talking to a rock is pointless.

lions

Jims Jamz:

First off I have several relatives and friends that have and are serving in the military. That’s from WWII, to Vietnam, to the Gulf War to the Iraq War.  They fought for the very rights and freedoms that we have today and I’m extremely proud of all of them.  As some of them say, one of those freedoms they fought for is the freedom to protest.  I would like the players to stand up but it’s not a big deal if they don’t.  I don’t look to them to set my moral standards.

Our country was founded on protest.  Many of the same people ripping on the players now are the same families that called people against the Iraq war Commies, un-America traitors, and many even thought they should be charged with treason. A total of 93% of Americans were for that war when the 7% were right.  History. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

And as I watch the amazing Vietnam series by Ken Burns on PBS, I see the millions of people of all ages; including soldiers and ex soldiers; who protested a war that was motivated for all the wrong reasons.  The day after the Kent St. murders, millions of students across the country protested on the streets and highways of our country demanding justice in an unjust war.  Millions of mothers, fathers and ex military protested on Washington and other areas to bring our brave young men home.  They were so passionate and loud that President Nixon listened.  He had to.  If you haven’t watched it you should.  It has inspired me and brought a new respect for those of that time that fought, and for those that fought to bring them home.

cowboys anthem

The National Anthem issue hasn’t affected me in any way. If fans feel they need to burn their jerseys and not go to games or watch, then I respect that. If players and fans want to protest racism and other issues then I support that too.  THIS IS AMERICA!  When did we lose the right to do what we wanted?  When political parties infused into the older generations that they were perfect, that’s when.

What is funny is that many of the people that are burning jerseys, are white and I don’t think that is a coincidence.  If you never experienced racism and you live in a non sensitive society like we have today, you are not going to understand the issue or the feelings.  And some that are for the protesters have little to no knowledge of the sacrifice of the military and their families.  Remember those 4 points of leadership I had? If both sides would follow that, they both would understand each other.

I think the players are misunderstood as well. They don’t hate America; right or wrong, they think this is the loudest way of protesting the lack of justice and racism that they see in our country today.  I guarantee if dozens of rich white people were unjustly killed by cops in rich areas around the country, caucasians would be outraged and wonder what is going on!

If you are sick of the pettiness, anger and dramatics of this issue and you just want to watch football, then do it. Personally I don’t see any change coming from this, only more division. Change is only found with dialog and compromise; something most adults are no longer willing to do in America. Men’s ego, close mindedness and greed has screwed up so much in the world and the NFL is no exception.

Our love for Patriotism is strange.  While some scream USA and say respect the flag, almost half of people that can vote don’t.  Corporations take jobs away from Americans just so they could get slave labor wages overseas so more generations of trust fund babies can be taken care of.  On the other hand, many that are kneeling during the Anthem have never done much of anything in their lives in regards to fighting for people’s rights.  Many of them now talk like they are civil rights experts when in reality they have a lot to learn.

So in ending, in true GOOD American fashion, I say respect people’s view points and then YOU do what you think is right.  I for one will continue to worry about the X’s and O’s and still watch the NFL while respecting people’s rights to be angry at the players, and the players right to protest.  I’ll also greatly respect those things that our country holds dear, but THAT IS MY RIGHT.  If you do what you think is right without berating others that disagree, you will not only be a good American, but you will also be rid of the drama.

“Jim Jax’ Interview with Discovery Channel’s “MacGuyver” Yukon Men’s Stan Zuray”

stan zuray
Stan Zuray

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 STAN’S NEW BOOK!

My Love for Alaska:

My uncle spent time in Alaska as a young man and the land was interesting to 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.

https://www.nps.gov/lacl/learn/historyculture/proennekes-cabin.htm

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.

Dick Proenneke filming
Dick Proenneke Filming in Alaska

http://www.lesstroud.ca/

les stroud
Les Stroud “The Survivorman”

Why is Yukon Men Popular?:

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.  American television networks are mostly pretty controlling.

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 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 their work ethic and humbleness towards their everyday life.

joey kate stan
“Joey, Kate, Stan Zuray”

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.  People usually bring greed, garbage, and a lack of respect for hunting borders, animals, and the environment when they get into new areas.  The hope is that things like that won’t happen but I’m not really as hopeful as others.

stan and kathleen opening bell stock exchange with discovery
“Kathleen and Stan Zuray at the Opening Bell for Discovery”

Stan Zuray:

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 without 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 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 skillset.  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.  I was going to release this next month, but the show was renewed and I’m so glad for it.  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 to be 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 real crude, free, back to the earth native people living off the land so to speak.  I loved it. It wasn’t real until I came to Alaska the next year and found myself without a lot of food and supplies that I fell into a similar way of being.

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 get-togethers 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 I say.

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 is and 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 read!!!  Jim Jax

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https://www.facebook.com/stanzuray/

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“The Tragic Loss of Raider Derrick Jensen & the Mounting List of Players ALS & CTE are Claiming”

Derrick_Jensen2

The nightmare continues.

When ESPN’s article on the money grab which is the brain injury lawsuit against the NFL came out recently, it showed just how little is being done for former NFL players struggling with head injuries. So far they have not seen one dime of the settlement money. With lawyers charging outrageous fees, and medical corporations and doctors practically targeting them, you wonder how much money the players will really see. The extreme greed is hard to watch.  The sad part is, more players are being diagnosed with ALS and CTE and many feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/19029607/billion-dollar-nfl-concussion-settlement-turns-nasty-lawyers-others-vie-pieces-payouts-players

Studies now show NFL players are 4-5 times more likely to get ALS than the regular public. The famous Italian soccer study showed Italian soccer players were 6 times more likely to get it. Severe forms of CTE are now feared to be a cause of ALS.  Former woman’s US soccer star Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to CTE studies. The first MMA fighter has now been thought to have CTE. Even BMX legend Dave Mirra was shown to have CTE after his suicide at the age of 41.

Now present and former NHL players are coming out to talk about it.   If you thought the NFL was obtuse about head injuries, the NHL makes them look like Mother Theresa. They sued to block their emails dating back to as much as 10 years ago trying to block studies on the effects of concussions partly because they didn’t want to limit fighting.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl-doctor-slams-situational-ethics-on-concussions-in-unsealed-lawsuit-documents-1.708729

Last month the NFL world was shocked and dismayed to hear that former 49er great Dwight Clark was diagnosed with ALS. Alabama great Kevin Turner; an 8 year veteran of the NFL; died last year at 46 from ALS. He was one of the key witnesses in the CTE trials v.s. the NFL. His brain was later studied and he was found to have severe CTE damage. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.

Raiders stud FB Steve Smith has been battling ALS for 15 years. And sadly the Raiders and Seattle families lost a valuable person last week in Derrick Jensen.

I still remember Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last March saying he personally still didn’t think there was a link to head injuries, concussions and CTE.   That’s what players are up against.

Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honoring Derrick Jensen
Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honor former Raider Derrick Jensen before Seattle Seahawks game

Derrick Jensen Loses His Battle With ALS:

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Mourn-the-Passing-of-Derrick-Jensen/ca64a3e6-8b9d-4ceb-8815-1a93ad9ba9d0

Raiders super sub and special teams captain Derrick Jensen lost his battle with ALS last week after being diagnosed in 2012. Jensen was 60. He was a key member of the Raiders and won 2 Super Bowls. In the first 5 minutes of Super Bowl XVIII, Derrick blocked a Washington punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that set the tone for a huge win against a team that most in the media at that time was calling the best ever.   I remember pretty much going insane as a kid when it happened.

derrick jensen 2
Davis & Derrick Jensen

Derrick was a solid and valuable player, but he also was a long time respected scout for the Seattle Seahawks with over 2 decades of amazing evaluations.   He was beloved for his kindness and respect towards people. He was eclectic and fun and went out of his way to just say hi to Seattle staffers.   You would be hard pressed to find a more loved guy. His death was a great loss to the NFL. The Seahawks have renamed their draft room in his honor. Sadly Derrick lost his wife Amanda in 2009 in a car accident and now his 19 y/o son Davis (in honor of Al? I don’t know) must go on without his parents.

http://www.seahawks.com/news/2017/04/07/seahawks-remember-longtime-scout-derrick-jensen

A 5-Star Must Read Book on Players & Their Families Fighting CTE:

Many are reading this book in one sitting.  If you want to get a raw, in depth look at what players & families go through with CTE, read Cyndy Feasel’s book “After the Cheering Stops”. Her late husband Grant Feasel; a former Seattle Seahawk OL; was struck by CTE and this story is an amazing one. I can’t recommend this book enough. Grant sadly, was far from being the only one.  RIP Grant.

http://afterthecheeringstops.com/

NFL Royalty Now Struggling:

When Ken Stabler’s partner Kim Ross-Bush came out talking about the CTE symptoms that Ken was suffering from, it seemed that more people started to listen.   Sadly, the list of players struggling continues to grow.

Cowboys great Tony Dorsett has done several national interviews talking about his battle with depression, mood swings and extreme memory loss.  Ex-Raider/Eagle/49er RB Charlie Garner says he can’t go anywhere without someone coming with him because he forgets where his car is & has trouble in conversations.

NFL Royalty and super man Gale Sayers barely talks anymore.  One of the most articulate and smart people in NFL history, can no longer remember some people or even carry on simple conversations.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9931754/former-nfl-stars-tony-dorsett-leonard-marshall-joe-delameilleure-show-indicators-cte-resulting-football-concussions

Detroit Lion legend Mel Farr died in 2015 and it was shown he had severe CTE which he suspected.  At one time Mel had the largest African American owned company in the U.S.

Frank Wycheck, Mike Adamle, and so many others are now saying they are afraid of what lies ahead with their symptoms.  Raider great George Atkinson says it’s hitting him as well and Phil Villapiano says it’s the scary thing everyone is talking about.  Their memories fading, while their thoughts get lost in a fog.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/18585718/former-detroit-lions-rb-mel-farr-had-stage-3-cte-died-2015

These aren’t dumb football players folks. These are smart, articulate, and successful men who contributed great things to the NFL and they are now losing their faculties. AND STILL, no support from the NFL.

The NFL Needs a Wake Up Call:

http://www.myajc.com/sports/football/fate-dwight-clark-gale-sayers-reaffirm-nfl-not-doing-enough/oh3s4BqtAVhI6nye7XQbEN/

People have changed in our country and some leave their brains at the door.  If some belong to a political party, love a football team or belong to an organization, they will blindly defend it no matter what.  Right and wrong no longer matters to them.  It’s like they take it personally if someone questions what they are a part of.  It’s pathetic and insecure to be honest.  You can’t fix problems unless you admit them.

The NFL see’s that same phenomena.  “Don’t be a hater, don’t be negative; you are a troll”. It’s like a bunch of cult members are walking around saying question nothing. To admit a terrible mistake by something they belong to or like is out of the question.

“I’m loyal from the crib to the grave. Win lose or tie, loyal til I die”. These are sayings that are seen often in fan groups of all NFL teams.   Unfortunately the league, the teams, and the owners don’t feel the same. They will move to another city without a worry, buy off politicians and not support the players that made them rich while not thinking twice about it. Their goal is one thing; make more money.  Some NFL fans are the abused spouses of the sporting world and they don’t even know it; enabling the NFL to the end blindly defending anything they do, or fail to do.

Cheerleaders had to sue to get minimum wage and the overwhelming support in social media was for the NFL. The names these women were called by some male fans on social media shouldn’t be repeated. The Ref’s were destroyed by fans for wanting to be full time employees with full time training and salaries. This would greatly improve the calls in games and improve the integrity of the game. Sadly the “cash strapped” NFL said they couldn’t afford to pay them full time. Most fans backed the NFL and told refs to get other jobs if you don’t like it.

The treatment of the retired players is worse. Our society has lost it’s ability to be compassionate, especially to elderly people. If I wrote a story about Derek Carr giving someone a ride, I’d get thousands of readers an hour. Talk about the sad demise of a great player from the past and the numbers drop significantly with a yawn. It’s too sad and no one wants to bother.

What Can We Do:

It will take maturity and confidence from fans to create change. First, we can listen. We can listen to the players and their families.   We can support them by complaining to the league and owners in social media or in actually writing letters that we need to respect them and their needs. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The NFL was going to do nothing in the Ray Rice case until fans were outraged when TMZ proved them to be liars.

The NBA had a known racist, Donald Sterling as an owner.  They knew and supported him for years through his racist actions and rants.  They defended him until a video came out that was seen by fans.  The outrage was epic and public opinion forced the NBA to get rid of him.  Professional leagues morals are based on money & public opinion.

We can also support pages, stories and the players themselves.   Instead of putting up that 1000th team meme or 5000th cat photo on Facebook, teach yourself and/or your kids about the history of the teams and the great players from the past. These players sacrificed a great deal to play football and many were extremely loyal to the cities and fans.  Some became integral parts of the community with many living and dying in the area they played in. We need to stop acting like 18 y/o gang members and respect all players from all teams. You can hate a team or player in fun but remember we are all in this game called life, and that is much more important than any football rivalry or team loyalty.

What is happening to retired players is unacceptable and we need to be the answer. You can still love football and the players in it while not condoning some of the actions of the NFL and the owners. The NFL’s actions show it is loyal to one thing; money. It is their god. Well it’s not mine. They are not loyal to players, fans, cheerleaders, cities and even the refs.   I’m not letting ANY corporation or person use me or disrespect me, and you shouldn’t either. Look at their actions, and not the words. Love the game, and the teams and players but be respectful of what’s going on.  And if we are as loyal and respectful to the game as we say, let’s make a difference and show the NFL that the sport is about the people in it, and not the profit from it.