Tag Archives: Super Bowl

The Year of the Bird: Fly Eagles Fly

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So this is it. This is the article I wrote before the Super Bowl but dared not publish at risk of being accused of jinxing the Philadelphia Eagles in their quest to win the big game. The truth is that with my personal track record I do no believe that anything I do, nothing I say or ceremonious action I take will impact the outcome of this game.  Why do I say this? Because of all the teams I support in all major sports and all leagues or tournaments worldwide, the last team to win a championship was the 1986 Mets. Until, and remember I am writing this a little over 3 hours before kickoff, the Philadelphia Eagles change that and end my personal sports drought tonight at the conclusion of this year’s Super Bowl.
So how is it that I sit here with such certainty and confidence that today is the day my team wins the big one?  Well it does have something to do with the fact that this Eagles teams is definitely good enough.  As far as players on the field go, the only area where no one questions the Patriots advantage is at Quarterback.  Nick Foles has played great for the Eagles and it is not an impossibility that he winds up being the best player on the field today, but the reality is that Tom Brady is arguably the best to ever play the game and has the advantage going in. The rest of the team is at worst equal and in some areas a good case can be made that Philly has the edge.  But none of this is the reason the Eagles win today.  It’s more about destiny and something far more mystical than the skill of the players.  It’s about the year of the bird.
On April 19th of this past year my mother passed away.  For the record, she not only was not a fan of football, she hated football.  And I mean hated, Almost with a passion.  She would constantly criticize its violence and loved to make the point that it was not really football,  Soccer she would say is the only real football.  This other sport was just a bunch of grown men hitting each other and falling on the ground like a bunch of idiots. So yes, she hated football.  But she loved her children. And to some of her children this win would be special,  and when someone saw me with my Eagles cap this past week  and said “Go Birds”, I thought of my mother, whose name was Sipora, the Hebrew word for bird, I knew the Eagles would win the Super Bowl.
Naturally there will be those among you who see this as a ridiculous basis for believing your team will be victorious and that’s OK. You don’t have to believe.  All I know is this. Since 1986 a lot has happened in the world and in my life.  Too much to mention.  What has not happened is that a team I put my support behind can call itself the champion. Until today, when the Philadelphia Eagles, the birds win the Super Bowl. In a year filled with incidents of divine intervention, is so hard to believe this is one more example?  Maybe to you, but not to me.
To whoever is responsible for today’s win I end with these 2 words.  Thank you!
Fly Eagles Fly!

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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.


These things happened….

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These things happened,

The publishing of Ulysses by James Joyce;  The first swimmer crossed the English Channel; Calvin Coolidge became president; the first Winter Olympics took place; Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic Ocean; Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse; Herbert Hoover became president; the Stock Market crashed;Penicillin was discovered; the planet Pluto was discovered; Empire State Building was completed; Amelia Earhart crossed the Atlantic; Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party became ruling party in Germany; Social security was established; Golden Gate Bridge was opened; Japan invaded China; Germany annexed Austria; World War II;  Japan attacked Pearl Harbor; Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 60 million people killed in World War II;  6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust; Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier; the State of Israel was founded; United Nations was formed;  NATO was formed; Korean War; Elvis Presley; Polio vaccine created;  Disneyland Opened; JFK became President; I was born; Cuban Missile Crisis; JFK assassinated; The Beatles; Vietnam War; Star Trek series; first Super Bowl; Apollo 11 landed on the moon; Terrorists Killed Israeli Athletes at Munich Olympics; Watergate scandal forced President Richard Nixon’s resignation; the movie Star Wars; John Paul II became Pope; Iranian Muslim revolution; CNN was formed; AIDS discovered; Personal Computers were invented; Soviet Union collapsed; Apartheid ended; Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa; 2 different Bush’s became Presidents; Bill Clinton became president; the Euro currency was formed; 3,000 killed in 9/11 attack in New York; Iraq War; the Internet was created; Holland lost 3 World cup finals; Justin and Kim got married.

These things happened, in the 92 years between the birth of these 2 people, my mother Sipora Groen and my youngest family member and great-niece Jara.

If this doesn’t give you hope nothing does.


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.


Taking the Fizz out of Hypocrisy

M7u7PRhAs someone who is always keeping his eyes open for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment, something that most honest people know to be one of the same, I tried to find evidence that the banning of the SodaStream ad from the Super Bowl by FOX was one more example of hatred of the Jewish people.  Despite any solid evidence to back this up, the ripple effects of this story have been enormous in a variety of ways.

Although diminished over the years, I have a personal connection to SodaStream.  This personal connection has caused me to pay a little extra attention to the company and the success it has generated.  When I heard that Scarlett Johansson had agreed to be a spokesperson and would be in a commercial airing during the Super Bowl, as was the case with many other Jews and Zionists, I felt a tremendous degree of excitement and pride.  Not only was this a blow to the BDS  (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement  inasmuch as it had a major Israeli company on the public stage, it also represented a high profile, popular and beautiful actress showing the character and strength to support an Israeli company with no apparent concern for the backlash she might receive from others within her industry and from other industries.

But it gets better.  As many already know, SodaStream is an example of everything that is right in modern Israeli capitalism.   Here is a company, providing a good product, environmentally sound and beneficial to its users, seemingly providing great success to its owners and management team while providing fair and equitable employment to residents of the areas of Israel where the product is manufactured.  Let me repeat that for Roger Waters and other proud supporter of the BDS Movement.  Providing fair and equitable employment to residents of the areas of Israel where the product is manufactured.  That encompasses what they like to refer to as the “occupied territories”. 

The best news of all however, is that not only despite the fact that SodaStream’s ad was pulled from the Super Bowl but maybe even because it was, the company has become more well known in the past few days than it may ever have dreamed of becoming.  In some ways I’ll go as far as saying that a situation that was supposed to be nothing more than a business venture has turned into a political gain for the State of Israel.  The United States of America, a country I am proud to call my home, is now the setting for one of the most blatant examples of corporate censorship you will ever encounter.   The control that Coca-Cola and Pepsi have over the Super Bowl is so tremendous they have basically forced the network covering the event to not allow an advertisement that attacks their product.   The fact that the company that manufactures this product, SodaStream, is being unjustly attacked for making a product at the expense of the human rights of others, will totally expose those whose activism against Israel is based on anti-Semitism rather than a genuine, albeit misguided pursuit of justice.   The irony practically makes me giddy and although I myself am not a soda drinker, the impact this has had will cause me to purchase SodaStream as a gift for someone at my first opportunity.   

Of course the one sobering fact is that logic and truth have never stood in the path of those who have wished to cause pain to and destruction of the Jewish people.  With that said the fight needs to continue on many fronts, and today as a Jew and Zionist I thank Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream for what in the minds of many is a victory in one of the many battles we will unfortunately continue to have to fight.  Then again the personal connection I mentioned earlier makes it very easy to believe that SodaStream would be in the middle of something so significantly helpful to Israel’s image at a time it needed it the most.