With the passing of Buffalo Bills superfan Ezra Castro AKA Pancho Billa, the NFL fandom was reminded just how fragile life can be. Fans and players of all teams came together to mourn a man that loved his team, family, & everyone that came in contact with him.
Thirty nine years is not enough for most people, but in those years Ezra gave a lifetime worth of kindness and love. After every kind act shown to him, Ezra was shocked & often humbled at the kindness that people gave him. He never got that people thought he was a big deal and downplayed his importance. In a social media world where the need for attention and self importance is the norm, Ezra was a regular guy and a breath of fresh air.
When Greg Dresko and I did our podcast with Ezra, it was obvious he did not feel good but he rarely cancelled anything. Even on his bad days he would do interviews with a smile. After our podcast I created a prayer night for him that Greg & I promoted. Literally thousands of people got involved praying for Pancho and all of those battling cancer. We did a second one not too long ago that was also greatly supported. People really cared and it was inspiring.
Buffalo was the perfect team for Ezra. It is a team that is set back in the time of the old AFL. A team that has not yet been ruined by the greed of NFL owners who’s only loyalty is to the money they can make. They have an old stadium, the second lowest ticket prices in the NFL, and a raucous loyal fan base. While everyone else changed, Buffalo didn’t. It is a special place.
With fancy, expensive stadiums pricing out many fans, the Bills are stuck in a wonderful time warp that allows for a foundation that continues to come to the games year after year. A loyal following that braves bitter cold and wind to support their Bills. From Jack Kemp to Joe Ferguson, to Jim Kelly to Andre Reed, the Bills rich tradition is steeped in a blue collar us against the world mentality. What an amazing place.
I don’t think any fan base or team other than Buffalo could have survived losing 4 Super Bowls while still coming back with dignity and grace. Through all of the jokes and taunting, winning 4 conference championships is still among one of the greatest achievements in NFL history & they are very proud of it.
Ezra & the Spirit of Buffalo:
In true Buffalo Bill spirit, Pancho Billa battled until the end. Just like Steve Tasker making an amazing play in a Super Bowl that had long been lost, Ezra never gave up. Adversity was what Ezra faced each day after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Even in his darkest days he would show a positive, caring spirit that inspired so many. We DM’d each other on Twitter and his last message to me was a smiling emoji with a halo over his head. He knew. He also though remained positive asking people to never quit praying for a miracle. Giving up was never an option.
In reality the biggest gift Pancho Billa gave to people was the way he handled his illness. Even with social media bringing out the worst in people, he showed a spirit of pride and kindness that touched so many. He remained positive at the worst of times inspiring us all to not take ourselves too seriously. In a world where many get angry at the drop of a hat, he showed a calm passion and compassion for others during his fight.
The Power of NFL Fans:
Ezra reminded NFL fans everywhere that we are not gang members or part of a football militia that should hate anything not affiliated with our teams. He showed that in reality we are all on the same team of life and that football is a fun outlet & family to belong to. Happiness, health & supporting each other during the best and worst of times is what life is about. We all saw how our hearts are more powerful than any owners money or new stadium. It’s about the fans and the amazing relationships that we create from being fans. The simplest of things.
How I’ll Remember Ezra & You:
What I’ll remember most about Ezra, was how he brought everyone together. For a moment in time fans in New England and Oakland were on the same team. Dallas and Philly fans prayed for a miracle together and people began to realize all of the petty arguments and hate was not what being a fan was about. It’s a willingness to help when hope is hard to find, and being there to support and love someone during great times as well as their darkest hour.
Many of you have really touched me with your sincerity and compassion and I’m very proud of everyone. Your kindness touched Ezra and helped him and his family get through such an unspeakable tragedy. As much of a gift people felt Pancho was, he felt the same about you. He brought out the best in all of us and it sure felt good.
How to Keep His Legacy Alive:
If you really want to keep his legacy alive, lets be like him. Give as much as you can to others and show kindness with a calm spirit. As Ezra once said, “don’t bring flowers to my funeral. I hate flowers. Bring backpacks full of school supplies for kids”. Think of others first, and show love and appreciation and support to one another. Most of all do it without judgement or opinion. Love completely without complete understanding. What an amazing legacy that would be. And nothing would be more pleasing to the great Pancho Billa.
In the beautiful seaside city of Southport in Merseyside, England, a scared 13-year-old girl first became aware of a monster that was literally attacking her. After begging her parents to take her home, she stayed in the hospital for days. At a time when Olivia; or Livvy as her friends and family call her; should have been thinking about cute boys and spending time with her friends, she now realized that she was in for the fight of her life.
Livvy found out she had Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits a person’s ability to breath. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. Year’s ago it was a death sentence with many passing away in their teens, but now the lifespan has been increased to 50 y/o with research increasing that number every year. In the U.S., famous former NFL Quarterback Boomer Esiason started a CF foundation that has raised millions for research after his 2-year-old son Gunnar was diagnosed with the disease. Gunnar is now 26 and is an advocate for CF with a fantastic website. Below are both websites to these highly regarded advocates.
“I grew up an only child,” Livvy explains. “And that was mainly because my parents were afraid they’d have another child with CF. The kids at school never teased me but I was in the hospital every 3 months, which made it hard to make close friends. When people tried to get me to tell them what was wrong with me, I’d always tell them I had an asthma condition”.
When you have CF, it is a constant stress in dealing with the people around you as well. “I got my first boyfriend at 16 and even though he understood my disease, he kept it away from his parents fearing they would no longer allow him to see me. When he would visit me in the hospital he would have to lie about my condition. I’m 29 now and I have an understanding boyfriend but I still feel a pressure from his family thinking I’m not good for him because I can’t have any kids”.
Not only do patients have to fight the stigmatism of having a terrible disease, but they also have to endure a daily ritual of medications and treatments. Few diseases take this much effort to keep oneself healthy. Another characteristic of CF is low body weight and depressed growth. Many with CF look much younger than they are due to this factor.
The Daily Battle:
The daily routine for a CF patient is a grind that can’t be compromised. “I wake up hopefully after a good night’s sleep” Livvy says. “A good night for me is waking up twice to cough up mucus off of my chest. A bad night is when I wake up every hour, or not being able to sleep at all due to the coughing”.
Treatment starts right after she wakes up as she takes 2 medications through a nebulizer called an eflow, which delivers the medications rapidly. This takes half an hour. She then has to try and do breathing exercises to bring out more mucous which seems never ending. She then takes another type of inhaler and tries to get a bite to eat. “I also have CF related diabetes which makes eating consistently really important”. After breakfast she takes more medications, which includes prednisone, which helps her breathing, but it can worsen her diabetes and thin her bones.
Something Livvy has discovered is that being physical fit and going to the gym for an hour a day is essential for improving her health. “I have to go every single day or my lungs suffer because of the mucous buildup. When the mucous starts to build up it’s just like I’m drowning. I do mostly cardio on a treadmill, an incline, or a rowing machine, as well as lift weights. When I return home I eat a high caloric lunch to keep my weight up and drink an Ensure supplement”.
The rest of Livvy’s day is an interval of taking medications to keep her lungs open and to eliminate the mucous, which makes breathing easier. In between these treatments it’s also important to continue to eat enough calories to keep her weight up, and then checking her insulin to make sure it’s at a normal level.
”I hate going into the hospital for a 2 week course of IV therapy, which mentally can wear me out. Even though I am lucky enough to be able to drive home between treatments, I do have to sleep there. That leaves a lot of time by myself as we all have our own rooms on the CF ward”.
Whenever profits are placed over patients, the patients always lose. Such is the case for the latest CF drug that has not been released in the UK yet because the drug company and the governmental agencies are fighting over a price. The patients that need the medications wait and can only hope of getting a drug that could greatly help their condition while rich people in suits push papers and look at dollar signs. The drug companies obviously want to get every pound or dollar that they can out of the selling of the drug, and the governmental agency wants to pay as little as possible. “All I hope is that I don’t die before the drug is finally approved” says Livvy. “On bad days my lungs are bordering on now needing a transplant and I get frustrated. It’s ok to have a bad day and to feel bad, but you have to rebound. I can quit or just keep working hard to keep as healthy as possibble and try to be positive. I choose the latter”.
(below is a video of a day in the life of a CF Patient)
Livvy, like so many CF patients, is an inspiration. Their positive outlook against a terrible foe touches and motivates many around them. She has a growing Instagram and Twitter page as well as a positive and fun blog where she shares her life and her story. “If you have CF”, encourages Livvy,”then PLEASE exercise and work out every day. Also you need to have dreams. I want to get a house with my boyfriend and work on the side part time, or even volunteer. CF patients find it very hard to work full time but right now I’m working on being as healthy as I can be”. Presently Livvy gets the UK version of what we call disability in the U.S. She is close to her family and looks to grow her online fingerprint while improving her health.
Livvy’s health sometimes can wear her out physically and mentally. “I’ve struggled at times and it is hard to do so much to just keep my health at a stable level. Sometimes I worry if I will ever get to use the new medication that I know would help me. What I am going to do though is keep fighting, and keep doing what my doctors tell me to do. I want to be a warrior, and not a worrier”.
About 16 years ago a young 13-year-old girl first saw the monster that was attacking her. Through perseverance, hard work, and great determination, she now is a lovely adult woman looking ahead to the future. It’s definitely not easy at times but she fights for every breath and every moment. With her family and friend’s support and the help of her medical team, my money is on Livvy. She is proving to be a small package of heart and spirit who is taming her goliath with a positive energy and a smile, while inspiring others along the way. A CF Warrior indeed.
When Ken Norton was released from being the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, it started the ball rolling. According to some reporters, the ball is still rolling.
With Offensive coordinator Todd Downing being the scapegoat to all of the Raiders offensive problems, he is probably gone. He definitely didn’t do a good job, but there was a lot of blame to go around. People forget the main reason to hiring him was to make Derek Carr happy before negotiations to his huge contract. Carr loved the hire. Todd Downing was not ready for the job but it is what it is.
The blame is also being given to OL coach Mike Tice now which is puzzling. He’s a good coach and I feel something is fishy here and we will talk about this in a bit.
Going back to Downing, Some complained about the play calling but Derek Carr has the final say on what plays are called. He can audible any time he wishes but usually doesn’t. You can’t blame Downing without giving blame to Carr. And that’s the tip of the iceberg on offense and defense.
Is Del Rio Still The Answer?:
When JDR was hired, only a few would say that the hiring of Jack Del Rio was not as great as many thought. Most Raider fans loved Jack Del Rio; “in Reggie we trust; in Jack we trust!” was all you heard all off season on social media. Now the same loyal soldiers are carrying pitchforks and torches.
As is the norm, I took ton of heat for my article on Jack Del Rio when he was hired but many of the things I warned fans about are now coming to fruition. It was a safe hire but there were many others I liked more.
To refresh our memories, Jack Del Rio went through 19 coaches during his 9 years at Jacksonville. Usually when coaches are fired and the head coach isn’t, that means the blame is being put on the coaches instead of the head coach. (Insert Mike Tice’s name here). In 2016 when Mike McCoy kept his job for the Chargers, most of his staff was fired. John Pagano the defensive coordinator of the Raiders was one of them. Frank Reich the Offensive coordinator of the Eagles was also fired by the Chargers, who before their Qb’s injury was the #1 offense in the NFL. His staff was sliced and diced but Mike McCoy Survived another year before he was fired.
Gary Radnich of KNBR 680 and KRONTV fame, is a media icon in the bay area and he never says insider information unless he has facts to back them. When Norton was fired Gary said he knew people in the Raiders front office and there were grumblings about Del Rio. The complaints were mostly about the same issues he had at Jacksonville. Jack was a control freak and didn’t let the coordinators or other coaches do what they wanted. Jack also manipulated people so that he deferred blame to some players and coaches when things didn’t go well. The magical kingdom was crumbling.
The question is will the Raiders give Jack Del Rio three years of free money to go away and get nothing in return? It’s hard to think they will do this but crazier things have happened.
Every teams fan base is pretty much the same. The New York Giants fans last year raved about their front office and coaching staff when they made the playoffs. Now after a terrible season, the fans want their entire front office fired; which most will; even though this was the same coaching staff that lead them to the playoffs last year. I guess they all have Alzheimer’s now and forgot how to coach. The fact that they had more injuries than any other team in the NFL might be more of the reason but that would be too easy. Many fans give all the credit to the players when they win, and all the blame to the coaches when they lose. And if the player is on the field but not playing well, then he has to be hurt. Personally I don’t get it.
And the fact that the Raiders played the 2nd easiest schedule in the NFL last year and had to struggle to barely beat some of these teams with 7 last minute wins means nothing I’m sure. This year they had the 2nd toughest schedule. There are many other reasons but I’ve talked about it at nausea in previous articles. Firing Downing is not going to bring a Super Bowl to Oakland.
Will Jack Del Rio Survive:
As I said previously, it’s hard to think that the Raiders will pay Jack Del Rio 3 years of salary to go away. I think he gets one more year. They have other problems too. The Raiders are near the poorest team in the NFL. The Las Vegas stadium is a mess. If the new GOP tax plan passes, it eliminates any public funds to be used for NFL stadiums. This means the Raiders would have to somehow be grandfathered in, but that will take time and may never happen. That means they may now have to come up with 750 million more dollars. It could get ugly real quick.
At the end of last year there was so much hope, and now there is lots of turmoil. This is the era of the salary cap and this is how things can change so quickly. With the Raiders making changes and getting an easier schedule next year, I see them coming back and having a good season. In reality I hope this makes more fans appreciate the 3 Super Bowl Titles the Raider greats of the past won. Daryle Lamonica was 40-4-1 in his first 45 starts as the Raiders QB. Ken Stabler was 56-13 in his first 69 starts. Oakland was 18-1-1 in their first 20 Monday night games. That’s why the Raiders of the past are so revered. It’s not that easy folks.
With so many expectations, the Raiders are a disappointing 3-5 half way through the 2017-18 NFL Season. Let’s look at why this has happened, and how and when it can be fixed.
You heard a whole lot of Raider fans using the expression, “In Reggie We Trust” this off season. Many are now looking for him to either be fired or put on the hot seat.
I’ve written about McKenzie in the past. He’s done some good things but he’s also had some really bad signings and drafts. For every Derek Carr & Khalil Mack, there are the DJ Hayden’s, Jihad Ward’s and Clive Walford’s. Reggie has missed on several high picks and it’s hurt the Raiders.
The Raiders philosophy of trying to fix the defense with DB’s is wrong. They’ve been doing it for years. The Raiders need to stop pouring money and high draft picks into DB’s, and start building a dominating front 7. If you can’t rush the passer, you can’t stop teams in today’s NFL.
Khalil Mack’s contract is now up and Oakland must pay him. This will make things even harder for the Raiders and they can’t have so many misses in their signings and their draft picks.
The Raiders need a physical front 7 that can stop the run and get to the passer. They need to draft and sign players to fix this part of the defense. McKenzie has to dump many of the contracts that are coming off the books in the off season including Reggie Nelson, Sean Smith, and David Amerson. They need to get tougher as well.
I’d love to see the Rams disgruntled stud DT Aaron Donald on the Raiders. He may be the most dominating player in the NFL today. A pass rushing DT would be my first priority. If I’m GM the teams defensive identity would be a physical one that gets to the QB. On offense I’d run a power running game with an emphasis on throwing deep. With their financial belt tightened you better be right on who you sign and draft.
Jack Del Rio:
Another popular phrase this off-season was in “Jack we trust”. Now many are questioning whether he is a winner and if he’s a good enough leader.
When Jack was hired, I was of the few that really wasn’t into this signing. Del Rio is a very popular coach with the owners and players. He’s likeable, says the right things, and makes sure the guys writing his checks are happy. He also has limited success. In 12 years of coaching Oakland and the Jags he has only 4 winning seasons and one playoff win. At Jacksonville things got worse the longer he coached. In his last 4 years coaching the Jaguars he was 23-36 and was let go during his last season with them.
Del Rio is usually very loyal to his players and coaches and is not one to throw anyone under the bus. That is a good trait, but he’s also not good in press conferences during bad times. His “I don’t know what happened” comment in press conferences have a bad look to it and fans of the Raiders like it as much as Jacksonville’s fans did before.
The Raiders have to get an identity and stick to it and that is Jack Del Rio’s job. Bill’s head coach Sean McDermott has built an image in Buffalo that is equal to his. He’s also gotten rid of players that didn’t buy into his philosophy. The Bills are now tough, physical on defense, and have a good running game. Buffalo does not have a good QB and they are last in the NFL in passing offense but are 5-2 and they straight up believe.
Are the Raiders a pass happy team that doesn’t care about the run? Do they want to be a power running team that can throw deep? Do they want to be a physical defense that gets to the QB? Choose an identity and follow it.
Del Rio also has to be more authoritative and take control. Saying it’s my fault or saying we have to work on a better scheme is a lot better than shrugging your shoulders and saying I don’t know what happened. Some in the media have said he’s played a big role in the defense and it hasn’t helped. If the Raiders struggle for the next season and a half, his job won’t be his anymore.
Even some in the media are now saying Derek Carr might be overrated. That’s way too simple. The truth is Carr is a good but not great NFL QB. He’s also a QB that gets rattled under a pass rush. Carr’s interceptions have got to him mentally. He’s now throwing to the check down receiver much more than in the past, and he’s trying to pinpoint passes in between defenders instead of airing it out and throwing deep. Some have said the Raiders threw deep more than anyone last year and that’s not true. The Raiders were 11th in completed passes past 20 yards and 12th over 40 yards.
There were more than a few bad passes yesterday that were caused by the pressure Buffalo was putting on Carr. He looked like he did when he was a rookie at times. He anticipated the rush instead of feeling it and it showed. Last year he was the best protected QB in the NFL and he thrived. This year the OL has struggled and so has he. NOT a coincidence.
Raiders OC Todd Downing is also getting trashed by many and he deserves some of the heat. He’s made few changes to the offensive scheme and the rest of the league has changed a lot to defend the Raiders. For instance on the turnovers yesterday, each play Buffalo played in the face of the Raiders WR. Instead of airing it out, Carr nervously went for the check down passes or tried to pinpoint the ball in between defenders.
Marshawn Lynch struggled his last year with Seattle, and he’s still struggling. He looks like a 31 year old RB and RB’s usually don’t get better or faster with age. He’s taken a lot of punishment over the years.
The Raiders have solid RB’s that can run, block and catch the ball but the Raiders have to run more. Some fans tried to say after yesterdays game, “see; look how bad the Raiders RB’s are”. Well they ran only 14 times all game with DeAndre Washington leading the way with 6 carries for 26 yards. The Raiders are an amazing 26th in the NFL for the number of rushing attempts so far this year. Last year they ended the year with the 11th most rushing attempts.
Unless Downing steps up, a new coordinator is needed. They also need to back to the power blocking scheme and run the ball down teams throats. Marshawn Lynch enjoys the zone blocking scheme for his OL but it hasn’t worked. The identity of the offense should be a power running game and then use the deep ball with the play action pass. You can’t blame Todd Downing with poor play calling and not get on Carr. Carr is the coach on the field and he’s got to audible more. He has the final say on what play will be called. Part of being a QB is calling a great game and he was fooled a couple of times when the Bills showed blitz but didn’t.
Where do we start. At the start of the year some publications said that the Raiders had the worst LB’ s in the NFL. The Raiders still have 17.5 million guaranteed until next year with CB’s David Amerson and Sean Smith. Reggie Nelson’s 4.25 million will be off the books too. Amerson struggles guarding the deep ball and Smith has struggled with everything. Reggie Nelson is on his last legs and Karl Joseph still struggles defending the passing game. Gareon Conley’s rookie year is pretty much not going to amount to much and that’s another round 1 pick that didn’t help much their first year.
The Raiders defensive line still can’t create a pass rush or stop the run. Khalil Mack had only 2 tackles yesterday with no sacks and was kept out for a small part of the game without any injury. The team has only 12 sacks in 8 games and it’s the same old story, different day.
Fans posting that the Raiders have this amazing amount of talent on defense and all they need is good coaching are ridiculous. They need talent big time on defense. Ken Norton Jr. and Jack Del Rio may not be the answer to fix the defense, but until they improve the talent, NOTHING is going to change.
Blow it up. Get an experienced, quality coordinator. The Raiders want to win now. Mario Edwards Jr. has his moments but he’s not the answer so far. Jihad Ward was a bad pick. Keep Navorro Bowman but they need more help at LB. Let Amerson, Nelson and Smith walk. They have to get a DT that can put pressure on the QB and stop the run adequately. The Raiders have been fooling themselves on the defensive side of the ball for years. What they’ve done for 15 years hasn’t worked. It needs to be fixed yesterday.
Most feel it will take 10 wins to ensure a playoff spot this year. If that is true, Oakland will have to go 7-1 the rest of the way. The Raiders have games left at home with Dallas, Denver, and the Giants and have to play Kansas City, San Diego and Philadelphia on the road. In regards to the struggles the Raiders had with the weather in rainy Buffalo, that is a beach party compared to playing in Kansas City and Philadelphia in December. This doesn’t include a game in Mexico with the Patriots right after the bye week.
Next week the Raiders play at Miami which is always a tough game for them. Realistically they will have to play amazing football the rest of the season to get to the playoffs. The offense can be improved to a point this year with some adjustments but the defense needs a lot more help that must be addressed in the off-season.
The Raiders players have a good attitude saying that they are going to work hard and stay committed. They are sticking together and not throwing blame to each other. They also can’t think about playoffs but they do need to think about the next opponent.
The Raiders will have to play amazing football the last 2 months to make the playoffs. The off season darlings of the NFL are in trouble. The castle that looked so sturdy is now having it’s foundation checked for damage. Time will tell how much work will need to be done to fix the team and if they do it right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
I thought it would be unique if I wrote an article when the writer was experiencing the very thing they are writing about. How to get over the pain of betrayal which I am going through now. Be it friendship, business or relationships, in the end the cream rises to the top, and the dirt falls to the ground.
I remember watching the movie Braveheart. What hit me was the scene during the fight at Falkirk when William Wallace was betrayed by Robert the Bruce. Instead of slicing Bruce’s throat, Wallace just sat back in disbelief.
If you look on Wallace’s face when he realizes he’s been betrayed, you see sheer pain. You can almost see his spirit being taken as if someone had literally turned out a light inside his heart. In the moment when he was most open and trusting, his heart was ripped out. Tears welled up in his eyes and at that moment he gave up. When Bruce looked into Wallace’s eyes, he finally got him on a horse and helped to save him by letting him ride away. The immense pain he saw on Wallace’s face tortured Bruce.
Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power, nothing. Robert’s Father: Nothing? Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk, they fought for William Wallace, and he fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him, when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield and it’s tearing me apart! Robert’s Father: All men betray. All lose heart. Robert the Bruce: I DON’T WANT TO LOSE HEART! I want to believe as he does.
In Braveheart, Wallace believed in his cause and in the relationships he had created. Loyalty, honor and courage was his foundation. Bruce betrayed that loyalty. Bruce sold out Wallace for his own gain even though he knew it would destroy him. Bruce saw his ugliness eventually and he saw the pain he had caused. Eventually he backed Wallace’s cause instead of hindering it. He wanted to restore what little self respect he still had and he had a conscious after all. He realized in the end, he wanted to have that spirit of truth and loyalty that Wallace had over the wealth and power his betrayal promised.
Here is a great article on toxic people. Things that are seen in such a person is that they are manipulative, demanding and dramatic. Many can also be selfish, moody, and demand you pick them over others. They are a cancer and are sick and need to be avoided. Many times when people are betrayed, they look back and see these things in the people they trusted. I’ve seen these things from manipulative teens to dysfunctional adults. It’s scary to watch their narcissism without a conscious to anyone but themselves.
I’ve never heard a person in my life say, “I don’t want to take your help because I’m really confused right now. I don’t know who I am and I really need to find myself. I’m still learning who I am and want to focus on that so I can’t take your help at this time. During this process I really don’t want to burden you or take up your time. When I have my head on straight I’ll call you and during this process I’ll keep you posted on how I am doing”. Selfish people don’t do this. In reality they don’t care if they are a burden to you or if they drain others. They just want things to get better for themselves and it doesn’t matter who they have to hurt to make it happen. They will lie, make promises and do whatever it takes to get what they want. These are the things you hear AFTER you help them and you are no longer an important part of their lives.
After you support them, then all of a sudden you are a stray dog. They played with you for a while because you would give them loyalty, comfort, support and all of the things they craved. Then when other people came around and they were back on their feet, they would throw the ball down a steep hill. The dog would take forever to run and get it and by the time the dog got back, the person would be gone.
These betrayers have huge issues, but they will nitpick you to death telling you how bad you act and how bad it makes them feel being oblivious to the pain they’ve created. Funny how those things are only an issue when they don’t need you because it sure didn’t bother them when they did. They will all of a sudden trash you behind your back and allow others to do the same. After a while you realize their manipulative madness and say this just isn’t worth it. Ok; you got me. You used me but I just want you to go away. Which they gladly will.
In reality their actions say, “you are not important to me now and I need to move on. Thanks a lot but I don’t need you anymore and you are not good enough to be in my life. I will try and save face though so I don’t look bad”. Toxic people that betray always have a few things in their arsenal; or what we normal people call, excuses; to use, to make them feel better while they are telling you that they used you & you need to leave them alone.
The Feelings of Betrayal:
Most betrayers are master manipulators. They will turn you upside down acting confused and lost when they sure weren’t that way when they needed you. Some are so good they will even blame their own betrayal on you. Somehow they are always the victim. I remember asking my Uncle Phil once saying how can people knowingly hurt others? How can they say they will come through and they don’t? How can these people sleep at night? He smiled and said, “they sleep pretty well”. You can sleep when you don’t have a conscious.
I don’t think that possibly losing that person is the thing that causes us pain, it’s that this person no longer thinks you are good enough for them. It’s also the time and effort you put into them and how stupid you may feel for being so good to them. When they were in the mud pit and looked hopeless, you listened to their cries and jumped into the mud with them to help. If they were going down so were you. They sucked the life out of you but you were loyal. The pain of being taken advantage is hard to take. The rejection is through the roof and it hurts.
We have to realize society has become much more selfish and some have no issues hurting others. They lack the conscious or the moral character to take care of business. They will say all the right words, and do as much as they need to get what they want. Sometimes it’s for money or business favors or companionship when they are alone. For some in relationships it can be money and some even want eye candy to show off to others.
During their darkest and most fearful hours, you are there without judgement. When their situation looks ugly and they seem to be a mess that can’t be helped, you help them without care of being hurt. When they don’t need you anymore or the roles are reversed, there are always excuses and very little loyalty. Something always trumps their loyalty to you, or their ability to be there for you. That’s when you erase them from your life.
Why Do We Get Hurt:
Some get hurt because they are foolish and they trust everyone. For the most part though, many get hurt because they have compassion and care deeply for others and some people see it and take advantage of that. You feel for people and you don’t want them to hurt.
We’ve all been screwed over in our lives but usually the softhearted people get it much more often. People who are train wrecks love latching on to these people like a tick that won’t jump off a hiker. Softhearted and/or insecure people can be spotted a mile away. People know they will help and some go after them like a lion chasing a straggling antelope in a herd. These people will use the compassion of others to improve their own situation.
It’s noble to try to see good in people and to wish the best for them, but at time’s it’s also naïve. Usually the people that hurt us the most are the ones we care deeply for.
Learn From Your Mistakes:
Realize your heart was in the right place, but you shouldn’t have helped this person. They are like a dementor in Harry Potter. This is a soul taker; they literally drain your spirit and take every part of you when they need you. When you are no longer needed, suddenly all of these flaws and issues about you come out. Funny how they weren’t an issue when they needed you. See the pattern? Actions speak louder than words and you need to look at people’s actions over your compassion for them. Yes you screwed up by helping them; learn from it; but it still doesn’t give them the right to hurt you.
What’s really sad is as time goes on, good hearted and kind people get worn out by being burned so often and eventually they lose faith in people. They become jaded and untrusting and that is the society we live in today. A pastor friend the other day said, “it’s almost like ½ the people are jaded and have been burned a lot and the rest of the people are taking advantage of them and don’t have a conscious about it”. The key is to always keep growing, surround yourself with good people and be wary of who you help and who you let into your life. Don’t be an open book. Just because someone acts sweet or kind doesn’t mean they are good.
Take responsibility. It’s rough out their gang but you can do it. Smile, move on and be rid of emotional drainers. Let out the pain and discouragement and then take a deep breath and live again. There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing though. Sometimes the darkest people on the inside seem like the kindest, most attractive and sweetest people on the outside. Be strong, keep your eyes open, and trust in peoples actions over their words. When you give you should never want anything back but you also don’t want to be a lackey. Many times the person with the brightest smile has the most selfish intentions. You are their life raft and once they are off the island, they will set you adrift not caring where you land or even if you land at all. Not everyone deserves our help or our hearts and friendship. Only give your loyalty to those that will respect it, appreciate it, and keep it for life and refuse to accept being a victim to anyone.