Tag Archives: NFL

Open Letter to NFL Player Michael Bennett regarding his cancellation of trip to Israel

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Dear Michael,

I just finished reading your statement as to the reasoning behind you cancelling your trip to Israel, and although your message was masterfully articulated, it is sadly riddled with an enormous undercurrent of serious & unfortunate ignorance.  You see Michael, what you and so many others fail to realize, is that over the years filled with constant terrorist attacks murdering Israelis and manipulated uprisings, citizens of Israel have been victims more than the Palestinians have and most of the victimization of the Palestinians has been predominantly at the hands of their very own leaders, not the Israeli government.

If even a small fraction of the funding given to the Palestinian leadership had been put into developing their neighborhoods and cities, the Palestinian quality of life would be so much better we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.  Instead the billions of dollars received has primarily been used for funding terrorism and making their leaders extremely wealthy people.  Naturally they do not want you to know this because that would destroy their illegitimate narrative of having a plight similar to those of non-white citizens of the former Apartheid regime in South Africa.  The truth is that even blacks from South Africa have come out often attacking this comparison saying that what happens in Israel is far from being Apartheid. I urge you to view this video of a South African member of Parliament and a man of color, Kenneth Meshoe,  discussing the misguided view that Israel is an Apartheid State. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykFVV9QdvZU

I further encourage you to take note of these 3 quotes from the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose picture you chose to exploit as evidence for your misguided stance.

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!”

“The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world”

“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

No one with any decency and reason will say or has ever said that Israel has done everything right, but the stance you have taken puts the entire burden of blame of the government of Israel.  That is not only disingenuous and harmful towards the very people you claim to now care so much about, it is also blatantly anti-Zionist, and if you are to use Dr. King’s picture as a tool on your Twitter page you best know that he would have seen you as being anti-Semitic as a result. Whether that is your intention or not, your judgment and subsequent actions create that perception and destroy your credibility.  I suggest you revisit this issue and reconsider your stance.

Sincerely,
David Groen

 

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Open Letter to Colin Kaepernick

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Dear Colin,

Before I get into exactly what I think of you, I want to make something very clear not only to you, but to those reading this who do not know me.  I care about all Americans.  I care about justice and inequality for people of color.  I care about the staggering rate of murders within the black community, and although I am someone unapologetically supportive of the police as a whole, I also will acknowledge the existence of bad cops who need to face justice.  No clearheaded black man or woman I have ever known has ever accused me of being a racist of any kind.  So before you continue reading this you should know that I won’t get in cars with racists, won’t have drinks with them, and if I am unfortunate enough to be forced to encounter them, I avoid them as much as possible.  Now that you know this about me I will continue by saying that your recent behavior not only doesn’t help solve any problems, it indicates how you as a well-known individual is an integral part of many of those problems.

People generally speak up about issues for one of two reasons.  Either they care so much they can’t keep quiet, case in point my motivation for writing this letter, or a desperate need for attention, as appears to be the case with you.  I guess when you sign a $116 million contract and do nothing for it, you want to find some way to become relevant.  This is a free country.  Everyone has a right to protest.  I don’t think you should be fired or face legal action for refusing to stand during the national anthem.  As an American, in this free American society you seem to be so thoroughly disgusted with, you have every right to stand or sit as you wish, and I as an American, and incidentally a football fan, have every right to criticize you for it.  Kind of ironic that you used the words “paid leave” to describe those you find responsible when you are in the midst of a massive contract and can’t even perform on a level good enough to start for your team.  I am by no means equating a football player’s responsibility to that of a government official or law enforcement professional, but I do believe your criticism of someone not being on the job as you think they should be a degree of projection on your part, and possibly a way for you to appease your conscience of the fact that you now get paid millions of dollars for doing nothing.

As someone who loves this country I find your actions to be deplorable, illogical, and worst of all, unhelpful.  Is this the example you wish to set for those fans who still see  you as a sports hero to some degree?  So many great heroes have died defending this country and everything the national anthem stands for.  I’m the first to admit this country is not only not perfect, it’s in trouble.  But you see Colin, maybe the difference between you and I is that since I love this country I won’t stab it in the back when it’s down.  If anything I will support it more.  I am not a soldier or law enforcement officer, so all I can do is show appreciation for all that they do to protect us.  If you don’t see how disrespecting the national anthem is doing just the opposite, then you are as ignorant as you are disrespectful.

I do not question you or anyone else’s rights to speak their mind, protest, or criticize anything they see taking place in this country.  I may not always agree, but if done so peacefully and with some modicum of integrity, I will likely read or listen to it and leave it alone.  When Jesse Williams gave a very passionate speech in protest I did not say a word, because what he did was speak loudly about what he thought was right, and in doing so made comments much harsher than the one’s that you made.  What he did not do was attack the core of the very essence of the greatness of this country.

I know your intention is to continue to sit during the national anthem.  It is my belief that you do nothing to further the cause of any person in color by doing so.  All you do is show yourself to be someone with seriously poor judgment and character, and someone who has made a choice to do something insulting during the song that honors the country that has given you so much.  I don’t know you and I certainly don’t know the details of your life, but I know you live a life of privilege, regardless of what you may or may not have done to earn it. Now you have chosen to express thanks not by standing in honor, but by sitting in disgrace.  I guess it’s fitting for a player who  collects a big paycheck and has now sunk to a level only good enough to do the same thing for his team that he chooses to do during his countries national anthem.  Sit on the bench.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Bush, Clinton, the Borg, and the futility of the voting process

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As a fan of Star Trek the phrase “resistance is futile” comes to mind when thinking about the American presidential election process.  For those who are not Star Trek geeks like me, this refers to the alien race known as the Borg that appeared in some of the Star Trek series and movies and had their way with every race they wished to assimilate into their culture. For the most part I am not a conspiracy theorist, so I am not that guy who believes that a few people have predetermined who is going to run things, but I do believe our democracy is controlled by money and power and when deciding the presidency, any resistance is indeed an act of futility.  When it comes to money and power on the Republican side, the Bush family is certainly entrenched near or at the top of the pile. Although the Clinton’s don’t wield the same amount of either money or power as the Bush clan does, they’ve achieved a power and influence within the Democratic party that leaves Hilary Clinton virtually unchallenged in her pursuit of the presidency.  Is this a good thing? I guess it depends on who you ask.

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We could start by saying that the fact that “resistance is futile” is never a good thing.  Of course this is up for debate since there are plenty of Republicans who will tell you they prefer Scott Walker,Ted Cruz, even Rand Paul or any of the other cast of characters throwing their hat into the ring, but the reality is that once the Bush people start spending their money and wielding their influence it’s hard to see anyone else in the Republican party winning the nomination.  From the Democratic Party side, even if one was a strong supporter of the Bill Clinton presidency, some questions still remain at the wisdom of a Hilary candidacy.  Maybe she would rise to the top of a more competitive field anyway, but the reality is that she is so assured of the nomination that Republican hopefuls already find themselves campaigning against her. So the truth is, not only is resistance futile, one might say voting is as well.

I’m a sports fan.  I love when the outcome of a season is uncertain.  So 2 years ago in the NFL when Seattle predictably made it to the Super Bowl against Denver, and to many predictably won the game, despite my love for the sport I was not thrilled by what I watched that entire postseason. I always love the presidential election cycle.  I find it enthralling, exciting, even fascinating.  I find it hard to stop watching.  Unfortunately this time I find it very predictable and subsequently losing a lot of its luster.  I am rather certain it will be a Bush against a Clinton, and since the Democrats just had 8 years in the White House, most likely it ends up with the Bush winning.  I won’t even talk about who I like better and whether or not I think either one would be good for the country, because in the end this is how it will turn out regardless, and my opinion, let alone my vote, will have no impact on the end result.  The frightening part to all of this is that this upcoming presidential election may be one of the most important in recent history and the American people are at the mercy of the money and power of a small group of people.

At least that’s my opinion. If it turns out otherwise I’ll eat crow, but I’m rather confident it won’t. After all, resistance is futile.


Minitron is MegaAwesome

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Thank you Julian Edelman.  In a society where it is not particularly fashionable for people to stand up for Israel, the New England Patriots Wide Receiver is seen in this picture showing his support for Israel.  Although unlikely, perhaps this will send a message to those celebrities who have been conspicuously quiet over the past few months.

The NFL (National Football League) is not exactly an organization from which you expect or require a political voice, so for Edelman to make this statement, albeit subtly, shows true strength of character and conviction. With a last name like his, Edelman’s father is Jewish, we shouldn’t be that surprised, but in my opinion it’s still great to see.  Nicknamed Minitron as a reference to his exceptional talent as a much smaller Wide Receiver than the superstar Receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, Edelman has become a favorite target of Quarterback Tom Brady over the past 2 years.   Now he’s become one of my favorites as well.  My one regret is not holding on to him when I had him on my fantasy football team.  Sorry Julian.  I thought I was getting good value in the trade.  I clearly made a mistake.

Thanks again Julian Edelman.

 

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Beauty and Heart

stillsWith the world the mess that it is, it seems to be a lot easier to find a negative or sad story than it is to find a positive and uplifting one. Even if I were to focus on the positive contributions made by Israel, many people, myself included, tend to be more interested in the events of the region that focus on the fight and exposure of the enemy than the inspirational stories.  It’s not a criticism, it’s human nature.  However, I felt that this story, even though it has nothing to do with Israel, the Jewish people, or the fight against terrorism,  is such a wonderful story, that it would be uplifting and positive.  And it is a story of humanity and decency from the most unexpected of sources.  The National Football League.

It begins with the NFL’s New England Patriots making a grand display of love and kindness worthy of the greatest praise.  Last night the Patriots’ opponent was the Cincinnati Bengals.  In a display of support that showed the world an understanding of what is truly important in life, the Patriots’ Cheerleaders each wore the jersey of Bengals player Devon Still.  Still’s daughter Leah is suffering from pediatric cancer, and these cheerleaders, cheerleaders of the opposing team, wore his jersey and number to support him and his family during this incredibly difficult time.  What’s even more remarkable is that in addition to this beautiful display of class from the Patriots organization, Stills’ team the Bengals, recently added him to the practice squad in order to make it possible for him to get health insurance and take care of his little girl.

In a world desperately looking for acts of kindness and reasons to be positive, we saw just that, from none other than the National Football League.  It’s possible that the biggest cynic might chalk this up to good public relations, but these acts did so much to help this family that I hope we only see the positive.  In the world we live in today, this goodness is a healthy break from all the bad and should be seen that way.

 

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My 92 Year Old Mother Weighs in on the NFL and off the field Violence

momdayEarlier today I had a conversation with my mother regarding the violent behavior of football players in the National Football League.  It is important that I clearly indicate that the football players I am referring to play in the NFL because my mother, Sipora Groen, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor from Holland, takes umbrage in the fact that we call the sport football.  I’ve heard her say countless times, ” That’s not football. They call it that but it’s not football.”  For my mother, what Americans call soccer is the REAL football.  It’s no secret how she feels about American football either.  She hates it.  And for her, the recent rash of violence from its players is vindication for her opinion.

The point she wants to make, and specifically asked me to relate to my readers, is that the nature of the sport creates an inevitability of this behavior.  She believes that a sport with constant violent hits, and men jumping on top of each other to keep the other men down, sometimes in large piles, creates such a pent-up aggression that these men are left with a need to relieve this aggression in some manner or another.  She is appalled by the domestic violence as any other normal person would be, but she also feels that the sport is not a normal sport and that as it exists in its current form will ultimately lead to more violence off the field.

She went on to say that she even believes that boxing is better because it only involves two people and the actions of these 2 people in the ring are carefully monitored.  She dismissed out of hand my notion that football is carefully monitored as well because in football men just haphazardly pile on top of each other.  She  is very clear about her opinion.  Unless the actual sport of football changes, more players will be involved in off the field violence.  She feels so strongly about this that it is her opinion that Ray Rice would not have hit his fiance, now his wife, in the elevator if it were not for his involvement in football.  I disagreed with this, but she insisted she was right, and at 92 and sharp as a tack, she very well could be.

Once my mother was done giving her opinion I promised I’d write this, but also told her I had to go.  I wanted to watch the football game.

 

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Of Course Holland lost..They’re my team

USP SOCCER: WORLD CUP-ARGENTINA VS NETHERLANDS S SOC BRABehind every perception of destiny, irony sits waiting and ready to pounce.  But I will get back to that.  The title of this post is by no means rooted in self-pity. Pity is never the feeling I have regarding the futility of the teams I support.  As a somewhat well-adjusted individual, I generally get past the pain of my sports teams’ demise within an hour of it happening.  I must say I am pretty good when it comes to that.  After all, and this is the root of the title, I have a lot of experience with it.

We can of course start with the most recent result of which irony played a major factor as well.  But again, I will get back to the irony later.  When the Netherlands lost to Argentina yesterday in the FIFA 2014 World Cup semi-final, I knew that another World Cup would be played without Holland lifting the trophy.  I watched Holland once again secure its position as the best team to never win the World Cup.  I took solace in the fact that they lost with class to a team with class, but nevertheless, once again, their World Cup ended in defeat.

I move on to the National Football League.  I credit the great New York Giant linebacker Lawrence Taylor with getting me into football.  Sure I watched the game and followed the playoffs and Super Bowl, admiring the skills of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice in particular, but it was LT who got me excited about the game.  And living in New York I cheered on the football Giants when they won their Super Bowls with Taylor, Simms, etc.  But it was not till I began to admire the tough character and skill of Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan Mcnabb, and enjoyed games with my family that I considered myself a true fan of a team.  The Eagles would go on to 4 straight NFC Championships and one Super Bowl, but would never win the big one.  And as football fans know, they still haven’t.

In 1976 I began what would be 4 years of school in London, England.  I picked a team.  Sure, I could have picked Arsenal just as easily, a team that won titles and cups, but no, I picked Tottenham Hotspur, probably the most consistently mediocre team in any sport in any country.  And since they are exceedingly mediocre, that’s all they are getting in this piece.

Being a marginal Basketball fan I put my allegiances behind the home team New York Knicks and watched as they always came up short against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.  Except of course for the times the Bulls were without  MJ when the Knicks came up short against Hakeem Olajuwons’s Houston Rockets.  Whatever, they came up short.

Then there is the team I am most emotionally invested in on a yearly basis, the Philadelphia Flyer of the National Hockey League.  Having lived in Philadelphia during their 2 glorious Stanley Cup victories, I will always be a devoted fan.  Even if we end up never winning another cup.  Does it count at all when the Los Angeles Kings win?  Flyers fans and educated hockey fans understand that question.

Lastly I will speak of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.  In 1985 when I moved to New York I picked a team as my local team.  I picked the very charismatic and entertaining Mets.  In 1986 I got my immediate reward, s the Mets not only won the World Series, they won it in the most dramatic and exciting of fashions.  The 1986 Mets have been the reason I have remained a fan of theirs till now, despite the fact that they are generally not very good.  And since I am a fan, when I say it that way, I am being nice.  The greatest overall significance of my support of the Mets now is that their 1986 team is the last team I am a fan of to win a championship in their sport.  Yes, that is almost 30 years.

And on it goes.  Yes I pushed the idea of Holland’s World Cup destiny, and the fate surrounding the teams they would need to beat, and of course started the online campaign of “Win it for my mother”, but in the end it was not to be.  My mother, whose maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes, or in every day use, just Rodrigues, was the son of Marcel Rodrigues.  My grandfather’s nickname was Max.  So he was indeed known by many as Max Rodrigues.  So when Argentina needed just one more goal in penalty kicks to put them through to the finals and send Holland packing, I looked down, smiled wryly, shook my head and mumbled to myself, “of course”.  Stepping up to take the kick was Argentinian football veteran Maxi Rodriguez, who subsequently put the ball in the back of the net and guaranteed Holland would once again not the win the World Cup.  I guess I was right.  Sports destiny did play a factor.  It just did so with a tremendous sense of irony.  Good thing it only takes me an hour to get over it.