The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for the ‘American Sport’ Category

On the pure dumpster fire that was Penn State/Temple…

without comments

Oh my word. What can I even say to comprehend what we witnessed yesterday? When you get stomped all over by a team that hasn’t beaten you in 74 years and even spotted you a ten-point lead to start the game then you know things didn’t exactly go to plan.

Where can you even start? You have a Quarterback who many draft analysts had as the best QB potentially coming out of the 2016 class and some even saw him going #1 overall who looked dazed and confused as wave after wave of Temple defensive players came charging at him untouched and unchallenged. Usually in the game of American Football you are allowed to employ a line of five men called the Offensive Line, whose primary task is to protect the Quarterback from such an assault but Penn State decided to abandon with tradition and just allow these guys to run free at Hackenberg all game long.

Yet I’m not willing to give Hackenberg a pass, not by a long shot. This was one of the top QB recruits in the country, if my memory serves me right he was the top Pro-Style QB recruit. He had a great freshman season, looked like he was ready to become a college superstar and under John Donovan’s system he has just regressed. Yes there have been glimpses of greatness but those glimpses are becoming fewer and further between. Even when he has time and open men he isn’t connecting. Up 10-0 he had DaeSean Hamilton open for an easy touchdown and a 17-0 lead but he overthrew him. One of the Temple players was quoted afterwards as saying, ‘He (Hackenberg) was out of it after the third quarter. He looked like he didn’t wanna play anymore’ and that isn’t an unfair assessment from what I saw.

Next up the play-calling. Look Hackenberg sucked. The whole offensive line sucked (but Paris Palmer really really sucked) but what on Earth was going on in the booth? Did John Donovan actually have a plan for this offense or was it all made up from the top of his head? One thing I failed to notice in the whole game was one crossing route, I certainly doin’t recall a completed pass on a crossing route. If Temple’s linebackers are just blitzing and bringing pressure then do one of two things, take advantage of the one on one defence on the outside with our excellent Wide Receivers or call some fucking quick screens over the vacated area in the middle of the field. Not one screen. We had a couple of bubble screens that were completely blown up but seriously draw up a screen pass or two.

There is a lot of blame to go around. You wait for the best part of nine months for the season and that is what you get served up. I have always been one of those very loyal fans that wants to give a coaching staff or a manager time to turn things around. I think I have rarely advocated for a change. Steve Cotteril and Richie Barker are the only two Pompey managers I’ve really wanted to see go for instance.

James Franklin was the guy I wanted and I don’t think he’s done a horrific job but his offensive coordinator is getting a right pelting amongst Nittany Nation and it is tough to not want to join in. He has been given a great hand in Hackenberg who was on the up but his scheme clearly doesn’t fit with Hackenberg’s skill set. Herb Hand is also taking a lot of heat for the O-Line and I give him a little more leeway due to the sanctions but Donovan’s seat has to be extremely hot. He has not done a good job coaching and his offensive play calling and his drawing up of plays to be honest – stinks. He needs to improve a hell of a lot or move on.

The defense was fine until it got completely gassed because it was only getting a minute or two breather between series. Jason Cabinda missed a potential pick-six. Nyeem Wartman-White got hurt and is out for the year. Carl Nassib had a terrific game but this loss and the 27 points that Temple put up isn’t on the defense at all. Could they have played better? Sure, but they played well enough to keep Penn State in it, yet the offense played well enough to just raise everybody’s blood pressure and rage.

You wait nine odd months and that is what you get. I think the only word that describes this is quite simply, ‘yugh’.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 6th, 2015 at 10:37 am

Posted in American Sport

Tagged with ,

On Tom Brady, ‘deflategate’ and ESPN’s shall we say ‘biased’ reaction…

with 3 comments

Ah it is nice to be writing about something that isn’t politics. I need to write more non-politics blog. Remind me of this people.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about by looking at the title then here is the simple version of the story. During the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, the footballs that the Patriots were using (both teams play with different footballs when on offence – like that makes any sense) were seemingly not up to the required pressure. After an investigation it was determined that the Patriots quarterback Tom Brady probably knew that this was the case and it was in fact a deliberate ploy. The commissioner of the NFL banned him for four games. That same commissioner was also the appeals judge and in shock of all shocks, he rubber stamped his previous decision.

Now when you read that you might think that if Brady cheated then he deserves a ban but there is no actual proof that he knew of the under-inflated footballs. It was determined that it he is all probability knew but they had no evidence that he in fact did. Still the verdict that no evidence doesn’t matter was reached and Brady got slammed. Yesterday when the commissioner announced that Brady’s four-game ban would be upheld it wasn’t a huge shock (like the man would overturn his own verdict on appeal – hah) but I was genuinely appalled by the narrative that the so-called worldwide leader in sports set on the story.

They focused on the fact Tom Brady wouldn’t turn over his phone for investigation. Well I’m sorry people but the NFL doesn’t have power of subpoena and why should he turn over his phone? It is up to the NFL to prove that he cheated and not Tom Brady that he didn’t. That is the world we work in, well I thought we worked in anyway. That was essentially the only thing ESPN talked about, that by not handing over his phone and destroying it, it showed that he had something to hide and why the ban was rightly held up. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times speaking on the ESPN show Around the Horn went one stage further by saying the ban should’ve been doubled, it prompted me to tweet that he was becoming the biggest douchebag to ever appear on the show and when you considering TJ Simers and Jay Mariotti have been on that show – that says something.

ESPN personality after ESPN personality lined up to slam Brady and praise the NFL. Talk about defending the shield. Next you’ll be telling me that ESPN has the NFL’s back because they are business partners and the NFL are unhappy with how ESPN have been covering the sport and you might even start to think that Bill Simmons constant attacks on the NFL were a significant factor in why ESPN let go of their biggest non-rights asset. It was left to Dan LeBetard on HQ and the always excellent Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbonon on Pardon the Interruption to defend Brady and attack the NFL on this. My favourite line is one Kornheiser keeps saying that even if Brady did it, it is like watering the base-paths in baseball, it is a non-issue.

Look I’m not a Patriots fan so my point of view isn’t determined by my rooting interests. I’m a Jags fan and if Brady’s ban is held up then when the two teams face up in week three he would be banned. My other rooting interest is I want Peyton Manning to receive a second ring and that would be helped if the Patriots had a backup Quarterback for four games. Yet I also believe in fairness and if a player (even if he did it) deflated the balls, I don’t see how that can be worthy of the same suspension as a player who violently assaulted his ex-girlfriend then I have real issues with the. The optics are just flat out terrible. The NFL as tough on air pressure as they are on domestic violence. Go NFL!

Tom Brady released the following statement this morning and it sounds like this is going to federal court. I hope Brady goes in kicking and screaming, taking down the NFL on the way. I am firmly of the opinion that this case has little to do with the facts but more to do with other owners wanting the Patriots taken down a peg or two and I believe there are other considerations at play as well.

I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.

Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was “probable” that I was “generally aware” of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.

I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.

Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.

To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no “smoking gun” and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.

I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.

Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots

Look, I have no idea if Tom Brady did know anything or indeed if he directed anyone to change the air pressures in the football but I know this, the NFL seemingly have no real proof either way and the NFL look like they are using ESPN as their mouthpiece to try and win the battle in terms of public opinion and that stinks. This now isn’t about deflated footballs but about a man’s legacy. Tom Brady is one of the greatest to have ever played the position and this tarnishes his reputation. I have even heard some media personalties say that he shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame because of this. Madness.

So Tom Brady v the NFL in Federal Court. This my friends could be fascinating and it might not shock you who I’m rooting for…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

July 29th, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Posted in American Sport

Tagged with

On Joe Paterno, #409, the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal and sexual consent…

without comments

Please note the title. This is the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal not the Penn State sex scandal.

So last Friday the NCAA reached agreement with Senator Jake Corman on his litigation with the association that saw changes to the penalties levied against Penn State university. The headline change to these sanctions is the restoration of all wins by the football team between 1998 and 2011. This means that Tom Bradley now gets credit for his win at Ohio State in 2011 and that Joe Paterno gets credit for his 111 wins between 1998 and 2011 and in turn once more becomes the all-time leader in division one wins for a coach with 409.

This has caused two rather strong reactions from people. Those who think that the NCAA originally overstepped their authority when they originally hit the university with unprecedented sanctions following the Freeh Report and those who believe that it just shows that Penn State still doesn’t get it. The fact the litigation wasn’t pushed through by the university but by a senator doesn’t seem that important to these people and lets be honest here, this isn’t an issue where facts are the top determining factor on your opinion, this is all about your gut reaction.

One such person is former Penn State alum Roxanne Jones who wrote an op-ed for CNN entitled Penn State still doesn’t get it. In it she shows that she doesn’t get it (but she is the author who says that she has taught her kid to get a woman to text him before sex saying she agrees to have sex with him because that is evidence that she consented to sex, not that a woman is ever free to change her mind but still. You think I’m making that last thing up? Think again…

Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.

So yeah, interesting woman. The whole consent issue is a legitimate one but a text message proves nothing. The woman can always change her mind and what is to stop the rapist taking her phone and texting his phone about consent? Still that isn’t what I’m really writing about today but I just wanted to show context of this authors previous work. Also sending her kid to university with 300 condoms? She must think her kid is a freaking stud. If I’d been sent to uni with 300 condoms…I’d still have 300 (or I’d have sold them off cheap to those who were in fact getting some)

Back to the piece from yesterday, ‘The NCAA had reached beyond its authority in punishing Penn State, they argued,’ she wrote. ‘In other words, their lawsuit had nothing to do with the boys who were raped or abused by Sandusky. Correct but still that isn’t the point of the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed because an authority overstepped their boundaries and had no legal grounds to do what they did. ‘The NCAA caved,’ she decries. No Roxanne, they didn’t cave, they knew they were about to lose in court because they knew they had no legal grounds to do what they did. This is the United States of America, this is a litigation culture so when you do something that you have no legal grounds to do then expect to lose in court.

This isn’t about restoring Joe Paterno’s wins. They should never have been taken away in the first place because doing that does nothing for the victims of the crime does it? The NCAA has its laws and they have punishments for breaking those laws. Penn State did not break any of these rules. One man – a former employee at Penn State – did some unspeakable crimes, at least one of which occurred on the Penn State campus. That we know.

Do you know what else we know? That man is going to spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs. You see the issues here aren’t about NCAA by-laws, they are about criminal laws and therefore he went to criminal court. Three other men, all university officials have had charges filed against them regarding a potential cover-up but none of them have gone to trial yet. Again they face criminal proceedings, not civil actions or NCAA sanctions because the laws they are charged with breaking are criminal ones.

Anyone who knows anything about civil law knew that the sanctions would get reduced and that the wins would eventually be restored. You can’t punish people for things that aren’t governed by your rules and regulations. It is a bit like a utility company deciding that you’ve used too much energy and are therefore cutting off your supply even if you’ve paid your bill on time. They have just decided to punish you because they want to.

The sanctions were originally levied in the mist of more public shock and outrage than I have seen in a long time. The reporting at the time was reactionary and poor. This is part of the media culture that we live in nowadays. Journalism isn’t about being right, fair and balanced. Instead journalism is about being fastest, being loudest and being the most extreme in terms of reporting. That is a detriment to society but is sadly an indication of where we are.

I don’t know the extent of any cover-up at Penn State and do you know what, nor does Roxanne Jones. Three men are facing charges and we’ll start to get further towards the truth when they face trial. There is still another lawsuit pending by the Paterno family and they want everything to come out wherever that trail leads. Coach Paterno’s legacy will forever be tarnished by what his former defensive coordinator did after he had left his job.

Joe Paterno was never linked to what this monster did, only one person committed unspeakable acts against children and that man was Jerry Sandusky. He was never a suspect in the investigation that led to charges being filed against three university officials, in fact the investigators are on record with saying Coach Paterno followed the law and was a forthcoming witness.

What we all want to see if the truth come out and that best practices are put in place to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again. When something horrific happens then what you want to do afterwards is to have those who committed illegal acts punished within the scope of the law. You want the truth to come out. You want those who were wronged to feel some justice. You want the cracks filled up to ensure that such a scandal cannot happen again and you want the issues highlighted so everyone is more aware of sexual acts against minors and are more attune to the warning signs.

Stripping Penn State of wins, scholarships, bowl games and bowl revenue does nothing to achieve any of those goals. This is why doing it was a show to make the NCAA feel better because the public wanted someone to pay. The fact Jerry Sandusky is in jail is a secondary story because that doesn’t fill column inches. That is such a depressing line to write but it is also true. The NCAA had no legal basis to levy those sanctions and those sanctions also do nothing for the kids who were the victims of this monster. The fact the huge $60million fine is going to help victims of this monster and other similar monsters is something that helps, nothing else does.

A man rots in jail, another three face charges and potential jail time. The whole issue is now front and centre and hopefully lessons will be learned not just in Pennsylvania but all around the US and beyond. I hope the kids who were his victims can find as much peace as possible and if the three men charged were in fact part of a cover-up then I hope they get that justice, they’ve already got some from the fact that Sandusky will never be a free man again.

The fact Joe Paterno now has 409 wins in the record books changes nothing. He recorded those wins within the boundaries of the laws of the NCAA and the players who played those games did not do anything wrong to have their wins vacated. No player who played was ineligible. No coach who coached was ineligible. I’m glad that coach Paterno has his wins back because they never should have been taken away in the first place. Punishing him, his players and his coaches for acts they didn’t do isn’t right. I know the crimes against those kids weren’t right either but two wrongs do not make a right.

Roxanne Jones says that Penn State still don’t get it. I think that she doesn’t get that in the country she lives in, just like the rest of the world, you can’t punish someone or an organisation when they haven’t done anything against your rules and regulations. Those wins were always coming back and anyone with an ounce of legal knowledge knows that. I think her argument is that Penn State should have curled up and allowed the NCAA to do whatever they wanted to them because nothing they could do could be worse than what happened to those kids. That isn’t how the world works. This isn’t an easy case because of the sensitive nature but leave the punishment to the criminal courts because if any laws were broken, that is where the punishment should come from. The NCAA had no power to do what they did and just because they were sailing on a wave of public opinion doesn’t make it right, in fact quite the opposite.

Jerry Sandusky was and is an evil man. Three other people may well be criminals. Everything else isn’t clear and until we know the full story we won’t know the full truth. I hope the Paterno lawsuit gets everything out in the open and then everyone can digest all the information. Most of all I hope that the victims find as much peace as possible and that this incident, no matter how ugly, helps stop further cildren from being victims to evil men like Jerry Sandusky.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 19th, 2015 at 2:52 am

Posted in American Sport,News

Tagged with ,

On falling out of love with football…

with one comment

Someone said to me the other day when I wasn’t watching a football match that usually I’d have on my TV that I’d have been watching it if they were trying to cook something. A fair point. For you see over the past few months I may have just become over saturated on football and I’m just footballed out. I sit here racking my brain trying to think of a game so far this season where I’ve been genuinely engrossed and I’m struggling. Not even the big matches have really grabbed me (although some games I have certainly watched and been more than entertained by).

I wonder if this is just a general malaise or whether it is more to do with me changing as a person. Maybe I’m growing up, maybe I’m diversifying but whilst years ago I was a football nut I think most who know me well will have noticed over the past few years (namely since I left my previous role of a Sports Editor) that whilst I still thoroughly enjoy watches some sporting events, they don’t rule the landscape as much as they did previously.

Take as an example last week. On the Tuesday I was in town doing some food shopping and saw a poster for a Dave Gorman gig the next day and instead of thinking ‘well Liverpool v Real Madrid is on otherwise I’d go’ I went home and looked up whether they had tickets left and when I saw they did I went ahead. I didn’t even think about missing a big time football match on the tellybox that I usually would factor into my thought process.

This isn’t an isolated incident. I have missed many football matches on telly recently to do social things instead. Obviously this year for the first time in three years I’m not working on radio broadcasts of games and maybe lacking that exposure to live action has been further part of the malaise but it has been a much longer process than that. I thoroughly enjoyed the early part of the World Cup as there was some terrific action and enjoyable matches before the coaches reined in the beautiful attacking play that dominated the early stages of that tournament.

Way back when the result of my team would affect my mood, now I am so disenfranchised it is ridiculous. If teenage me saw me now and how little I care about Pompey he wouldn’t recognise me and wonder what the hell had happened in my life for such a lax attitude to football to have come to the fore. I just think that as you grow up your interests and priorities change and whilst it is a slow change, you don’t notice it for a while until it is stark in your face.

I did contemplate whether it was just football or all sport that is I’m currently suffering a malaise from and looking back over the past few weeks there have been two matches where I’ve been totally into it. Penn State @ Rutgers and Denver @ Seattle. Both games I was completely into and enjoyed (and endured) them immensely. Had I not been unwell over the weekend and gone to bed early then I have no doubt that I’d have been completely engrossed by Penn State’s comeback but ultimate failure against Ohio State as well. Still though for me that is what, three games in the past couple of months that I was into.

This weekend sees Tom Brady v Peyton Manning (again) or more accurately Denver @ New England and I’m trying to get excited about it but I just can’t. I have no doubt if I’m at home I’ll watch but I can’t say I’m circling it in my calendar knowing that I can’t be doing anything else in the Sunday night window although lets be honest here, I don’t see me doing anything else in that window so no doubts I’ll be watching.

I was watching highlights of the 2010-2011 Ashes series on YouTube the other day and I immensely enjoyed that series. I watched so much of it live and was totally riveted by it. Looking back and there are several instances where England cricket away from home has done this to me so maybe cricket is relatively safe from this sport watching doldrums I seem to find myself in.

The thing is I must be into some other things to replace sport from my time and well maybe I am. I seem to be forming more of a strong political leaning and whilst I won’t say anger, I will say disquiet at what seems to be going on. The race to the bottom on immigration is repulsive from all sides of the political spectrum. I know politicians seem to think that you have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to win but that makes me feel sick and I am reading more about what interests me, not fiction, I’m not a fiction guy but non-fiction and enhancing what I understand and having a thirst for knowledge.

So maybe I’m just not the guy that I was and maybe I am just changing. Maybe it is just a phase, who knows but I certainly feel like I’m much less of a slave to the TV schedulers and that chain to the TV is a lot, lot looser than it was. We all change as we get older and we get new interests and maybe, just maybe, this has been going on for a while but I have just failed to notice it. The thing is when all is said and done is I am not upset about the changes that are seemingly going on. I am feeling like I might just be going through a bit of an identity crisis but it isn’t a bad one and it is just the evolution of me. Not even betting and the likes of Saturday Football Tips can keep me seemingly interested. In a way looking back I can see so much of teenage and early 20s me the now 30s me and maybe I should’ve evolved just a bit more than I have over the past decade…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

October 30th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Fan is short for fanatic – we should remember that

without comments

fan (noun) — an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc. (origin: 1885-90, Americanism; short for fanatic or, some say, fancy)

fanatic (noun) — a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics. (origin: 1515-25, “insane person” from L. fanaticus, “mad, enthusiastic, inspired by god”, originally pertaining to a temple, from L. fanum.

Some say that the term fan may have devolved from the word ‘fancy’ but the general wisdom seems to suggest that it comes from the word fanatic. Why am I writing about this today? Well as most people who have known me in real life will know, sports has been a rather large part of my life for an awfully long time. I will call off social events and activities if I want to see a sporting event on the tellybox. I was once a Sports Editor. I have commentated, no wait, summerised only, on live football games for radio and I may or may not have yelled an insane amount of swear words when following various sporting events and seen my mood adjust to quite concerning degrees based on what is going on.

I would argue that over the years I have mellowed. I can sit and watch a game and not get so emotionally invested. Pompey were on the tellybox the other day and I sat and watched it in a rather monotone way. We weren’t very good and I just shrugged and moved on with my day. Maybe I had actually got past the point where sport could get to me. Maybe I had grown up. Maybe it was time for me to emerge from the sporting cocoon that I have enveloped myself in and maybe just into things that were more high brow, take in some culture, get interested in the arts.

Then Saturday night happened.

When you are up until nigh on 5AM watching a College Football game with your blood pumping, engaged swearing, too much sweat that is good for a single man in the early hours of the morning when fully clothed, then maybe the link between fan and fanatic isn’t too far-fetched.

So yes. On Saturday my day was pretty much built around watching Arsenal v Manchester City and then Rutgers v Penn State. One kicked off at 12:45PM and the other 01:12 AM. So they bookended my day. I watched the football match and enjoyed it. I did have another game I was meant to be seeing but as they say, things change, I will have plenty to say on that matter in due course (and I know you are reading this waiting for what I have to say – I can see you). By 11ish I was pretty tired but I persevered, I had a shall we call it, rather tepid shower to revitalise me and I put on the Big Ten Network to settle down to watch the game.

Now it was in the early hours and I wasn’t alone in watching this game. Whilst physically alone I had twitter open, I had Black Shoe Diaries game threads open and I had a skype conversation open with someone who was also watching the game (although not a fan of PSU – he still watched as I was and he stuck with it as it was the most compelling game of the night) and I’d like to show off my witty repartee and the type of language that was flowing out of my fingers as the game unfolded. I am not proud.

Quotes are me if no initials, NM is also me, NH is the person on the other end of the skype conversation window.

It started off with general game conversation. Our O-Line may have slightly false started…

NH: how many would you estimate moved early there…
NM: more than the amount of women who’ve turned me down…

then I got annoyed with the WildLion formation…

fuck that WildLion

Then I saw a safety blitz that the QB didn’t see…


Then I revealed a shocking truth…

NM: oh fuck this
NH: just awful
NM: you know I turned down a date tonight for this?
NH: good grief
NH: i hope you thought up a better reason than i want to watch penn st…
NM: I just said I was busy.

Then a Rutgers player got a first down when he really should’ve been tackled short of the line to gain on a big 3rd and long. Not sure I took it too well…


Then it was half time and we discussed Lily Adams from the AT&T commercials and how she was an actress and not a real AT&T employee. I fancy her. Anyway on to the second half…

if this flag is against us…
throw him out for being a prick
yep – no doubt I’ll sleep maybe 45-60 mins after this game ends
I’ll be wound up

Then we did something good. An interception…

NH: we were saying…

Either I was writing in prose an orgasm or Penn State did something good here…


Then we didn’t do so good…

oh come on
busted play again
too many of them today
didn’t need to hold either
what the hell was that?

Then we scored a TD to win it but it was called back because of a penalty but we would score another TD and it would hold up. This is the conversation. I was rational for brief moments…

NH: wow oh wow…
NH: too quick!
NM: its a hold
NH: pretty clear
NH: sadly
NH: lol
NH: go for 2?
NM: No.
NM: get the 1 so a FG only ties, if they miss the 2 a FG would win it

Then we stopped Rutgers and won the game…

NH: who says it wasnt worth staying up for?
NH: that will make getting to sleep a touch easier!
NM: I’m too pumped

So maybe on occasions I can still see the link between the words fan and fanatic.

One of the biggest issues for personally is many of the events I get so pumped for are on US time and therefore are in the early hours. When a game finishes like that, that I am so emotionally invested in then I can’t just go to bed and go to sleep. So I have to unwind and that takes time and I can easily see the sun rise in the morning before falling asleep. I am so lucky I have employment that grants me some flexibility and I can work late at night and don’t have to work office hours every day.

I don’t know the reason for this blog post but I thought it was interesting that despite my education, my journalism background, my thoughts that I am smart and linguistic, at times just shouting and swearing is all that can come out of my mouth/fingers. Sport still has that effect…at times.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 15th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Sky Sports NFL Coverage 2014 – Once more stepping it up

with 2 comments

The NFL season got underway the other night and tonight we are back with our usual Sunday night doubleheader. On Thursday Sky Sports showed us some of their plans for the 2014 season, the 20th that they have been coverage the league and I must say I’m quietly impressed with what they are doing. Here is an overview.

Firstly they are making their analysts more permanent. In recent years it has been Nick Halling and latterly Neil Reynolds being joined by a seemingly random cast of others. This year it will be Shaun Gayle joining the team until Thanksgiving whereupon he’ll be aside for Jeff Reinebold to take us the rest of the way.

Personally I like this set up as it gives the team more of a chance to gel and I wasn’t overly keen on the show being used as a tryout for former NFL players who wanted to get involved in broadcasting, Rocky Boiman (who sounds like Lisa’s character in The Simpsons when she was pretending to be a boy to do Maths at the boys half of Springfield Elementary) aside, I have not been impressed by any of these people and any set up that gives us more Jeff Reinebold is one that I can fully endorse. I think Jeff is by far and away the best analyst we’ve had on Sky Sports NFL coverage in the decade plus that I have been watching. He has a relaxed style but also has the technical nous to take us through the x’s and o’s so I’m happy.

Of course then there is big Cecil Martin. I know many of the more knowledgeable fans get annoyed by his antics but I like it. He’ll be around for the Wembley games this year so he is still involved. A Gayle-Reinebold-Martin monopoly in the analysts chair is a ok by me. I don’t know if they’ll be extra guest analysts but between those three they have a good solid team.

Neil Reynolds received a tonne of stick when I wrote the blog post about Nick Halling leaving the NFL team for the Boxing gig three years ago. The comments do not read well for Neil but my namesake isn’t half as bad as some of those comments say. Reynolds is a more than solid guy and if we all put up with Kevin Cadle’s presenting style then we can put up with Neil Reynolds.

The Red Zone is back on Sunday’s and they’ll show more highlights on the main channel as well as live look ins. For the Thursday night game, Sky will also show the CBS pre-game show, which will be something different. Like other Sky shows, they’ve also been given a ‘SkyPad’ aka a rather large touchscreen where Reynolds and the analyst can go through tactics and the like. Again Sky showing some decent investment in the NFL.

I don’t think the NFL brings too many subscriptions to the company but I do think it is a relatively inexpensive and popular filler for Sky. If the NFL does expand to London in terms of a full-time franchise based in the capital then it will be a very significant sport for TV companies over here. I think Sky do a very good job in terms of most sports and I think they treat NFL with more seriousness the more they cover the sport.

When you throw in what Channel 4 do with the Sunday Night Game then fans of the NFL in this country get a pretty good deal. Eurosport will show the Monday Night game against this year and that is a strange one for me but heck, it is live on TV. I think if my memory serves me right this is the last year of Sky’s three-year deal they signed in 2012 and that means the rights will be up over the summer and I have zero doubt BT Sport will make a play for them. As I said earlier, it isn’t a sport that brings in a tonne of subs but it will be a very nice addition to BT’s portfolio should they steal it and I suspect a key thing to keep for Sky Sports.

Personally I hope Sky’s long partnership with the NFL continues beyond this season but I think it is very much up for grabs. Sky are showing commitment to the sport with their coverage and I expect another good year this year both on the field of play and in the TV studio.

Lastly you can tweet the team here:

Kevin Cadle – @kevincadle
Neil Reynolds – – @neilreynoldsnfl
Shaun Gayle – @85worldchamps
Cecil Martin – @cecilmartin1
Jeff Reinebold – @jeff_reinebold
Sky Sports NFL Account – @skysportsnfl

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 7th, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Posted in American Sport,Media

Tagged with ,

D.C. Lobbyist pushing for a homophobic bill that would ban gay professional athletes in the USA

with one comment

Well that isn’t a blog post title I ever expected to write.

Every so often I get Press Releases via the blog. In recent weeks I have started to get quite a lot. I usually scan read them and then do nothing with them. I’m quite busy at the moment working on two large projects outside of work, firstly the locals elections and secondly my weight. When you are working out for two hours a day then your free time suddenly dissipates rather quickly.

So anyway I got a Press Release this afternoon entitled, ‘DC Lobbyist Boycott of Visa, Rams after Michael Sam drafted‘ and my eyes focused sharply. For those who don’t know who Michael Sam is, in short he was a very good college football player in the States who came out as gay earlier this year. He finished college and was eligible for the NFL draft. He was a fringe prospect and no-one knew if he would get selected but with just seven picks left in the draft the St. Louis Rams drafted him and he is the first openly gay player in the NFL. He celebrated getting drafted by kissing his boyfriend live on national TV. It was a deeply important cultural moment.

Now my e-mail thought it was a scam so I did some googling and you know what, it wasn’t and it isn’t. In February he was widely reported to be working on this bill and with Michael Sam getting drafted he is trying to generate publicity again. Michael Sam signed an endorsement deal with Visa and the lobbyist believes that people should boycott the company for being associated with a gay athlete.

The following is from his PR release that for some reason found its way to me – yes a liberal blogger – because I’d really write about it in a positive light for him *rolls eyes*

Visa and the Rams will learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values, there will be a terrible financial price to pay. Openly gay football players send a terrible message to our youth about morality. Somebody needs to step up because the moral fiber of the nation is eroding.

You fucking what?

First of all learn how to spell fibre American people – if you are going to pretend you use the English language then at least learn how to spell it correctly. Secondly and probably more importantly – what the hell is this man on? I was brought up in a Christian household and I am pretty sure that Christian’s are taught to be a tolerant people. When I read garbage like this then I just shake my head and wonder if there really was a God then how would he (or she or it) like seeing people being persecuted in his/her/its name?

So anyway on to the proposed bill that he is trying to get support for – you can read it in full here but for those too lazy to click on the link then here is the first section of the bill:

Section 1. The National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League and all teams thereof shall hereby be prohibited from employing players who are homosexual. This provision shall apply only in cases where a player has openly declared himself to be a homosexual.

So yes, if you are secretly gay then that is fine but anyone who is open about their sexuality should be blocked from earning a living in any of the listed professional sports leagues. This is in his opinion to stop young people growing up and seeing and hearing about practicing homosexuals in professional sports. What rock did this buffoon crawl from?

Young people should be taught to treat everyone as the same. If God does exist then he/she/it created us all and that includes gay people. I’m pretty positive that if this is the case then gay people weren’t created to give non gay people a group of people to persecute. Young people being exposed to gay people doesn’t damage the moral fibre of society, anyone who thinks that this is the case is a grade A moron.

The sooner that the likes of Jack Burkman are castigated for their points of view then the better society as a whole will be. Jack Burkman is no way shape or form speaks for the Christian community and believing that he does is nearly as galling as what he says.

Michael Sam coming out and having to bare the brunt of this type of homophobic abuse is courageous is the extreme. I hope he will be a trendsetter and I am sure that the United States of America as a whole will support him. Sadly there are not so insignificant pockets who won’t and by all means we aren’t exactly the most tolerant society over here in the UK but I’m not sure the public as a whole would have any stomach for banning gay people from any form of life.

I just felt that I had to write something about it as I couldn’t stomach the fact that the Press Release got sent to me. I hope that his efforts go unrewarded and I have no doubt that even if he got enough sponsors to get the bill debated that it would never gain the traction or support it would need to get passed into law but it makes me deflated that people still think persecuting fellow human beings in the name of Christianity is acceptable behavior.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

May 13th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Bill O’Brien walks out on Penn State for the pros – cue meltdown

without comments


Well this sucks.

I was scrolling through my twitter as I couldn’t sleep and saw the report coming out from ESPN that the Houston Texans had come to terms with Bill O’Brien to become the next head coach of the franchise. O’Brien will be walking away from State College to chase his dream of coaching on Sunday’s, leaving behind a confused fan base unsure of how to react.

I must admit I am stunned. I never thought he’d walk out. I thought this flirting with the NFL was just that. He seemed like a man with so much integrity but it just goes to show that you never know what to believe. He was always going to bolt for the pros and we all knew that Sunday’s was where he wanted to coach but he had a job to do and I fully expected him to see the Hackenberg/Breneman recruiting class through to the end of their college careers.

Of course at the time of writing it is just a report out of Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter but I think we can safely say that this deal is going to get done. Now we move on to who might replace him and O’Brien’s legacy. We’ll start with his legacy, it is a very tricky to really work out what it’ll be. He held the programme together at a time when everybody thought it would completely fall apart. He turned Matt McGloin, he of the great quote, ‘Broadcast/journalism was my first degree. Being awesome was the second,’ into an NFL quarterback. This 2012 team will go down as one of the most revered in Penn State history because of what they had to deal with and O’Brien was the person who held it all together. However he looked 18 year-old kids in the eye and told them he’d be with them all the way through their college careers and then bolted on them after just one year. That stinks.

We have been spoiled in having Joe Paterno as head coach for as long as we did. Whatever his pitfalls, which may or may not have been significant, he was extremely loyal and whilst he did flirt with the NFL and even agreed to go to the Patriots, he never left and made it his life’s work to mould kids into fine young men and win a few football games along the way. As he once said, ‘Success without honour is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.’

Bill O’Brien never bought into the Grand Experiment and that riled a tad. I think eventually Penn State will be the footnote of the Bill O’Brien story. He used us to get his dream job and to be fair in his two years in State College he did a fine job in righting the rudderless ship. The sourness though of sacking Ron Vanderlinden just before quitting himself leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and lying to teenage kids…yeah its not great is it?

Moving on to who replaces him, I’m firmly in the James Franklin camp. The guy can flat out recruit and he won at Vanderbilt, which is an extremely fine academic institution and was an afterthought in the SEC. He’s still a relatively young man at only 41 years of age, is a Pennsylvania kid and I think he would be very interested in taking on the role at State College, seeing it as a great long-term job as well. I don’t want to see any NFL rejects, certainly ones recently available out of shall we say, Tampa, Florida…

The man who’ll decide who to approach is Dave Joyner and he’s not exactly flavour of the month amongst the fan base. No-one seems to trust him to make the right decision and when Michael Mauti comes out and says if O’Brien leaves within 3-5 years then it’ll be Joyner’s fault, then that holds a whole lot of cachet.

All I know is it’s 4:20 in the morning and I actually have to get up tomorrow but I’m pretty pissed – as in annoyed – not drunk. We’ll see how this unfolds but this is all extremely disheartening.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 1st, 2014 at 4:23 am

Posted in American Sport

Tagged with

There is only one thing more boring than fantasy sports – telling others about your fantasy team

without comments

Oh boy…

Many years ago I kept a journal and one of my ‘friends’ who read the journal decided one day to tell me exactly what she thought of me. She basically said my journal entries were dull and therefore had an opinion that I was just too boring to know. Nice of her. Her main issue was the fact I wrote a fair bit about my fantasy baseball teams. Well she left my life many years ago but fantasy baseball did not. I am still involved in a fantasy baseball league that I have been involved in since 2005 – the same league. Personally I think it is a better hobby than getting into online betting and certainly a lot cheaper too but ho hum.

So we are now well into the fantasy season and it is Week 10. I have won seven match-ups, drawn once and lost once. I am currently the #3 seed and surprising a fair few people with the strength of my squad. I was tipped to be outside the top six this season by the league but I’m hanging in there.

My strength has been a solid and deep starting rotation. Yu Darvish and Jordan Zimmermann are true aces and I expected them to be as such. I had some trade interest in both but I swatted it away. Beyond them I had CJ Wilson and AJ Griffin left over from last year. I have since added a rejuvenated Ubaldo Jiménez and John Lackey. My seventh SP though is reigning NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey whom I recently traded for despite not exactly being a big fan of the player.

The reason I traded for him was because I had a log jam. At 3B I had a strong Aramis Ramirez and I had picked up Josh Donaldson who was having a career year. However the bigger problem was I had Manny Machado in my minor league system and I had to promote him. So I managed to trade Aramis Ramirez away for RA Dickey to open up 3B for Manny Machado, who is fast becoming one of the best players in Major League Baseball.

My hitting is middle of the pack with Buster Posey holding down the catchers spot and then Ryan Howard at first. Chase Utley is my 2B but is currently injured so Freddy Galvis is starting and at short Derek Jeter is down so Alexei Ramirez is starting. At 3B is the aforementioned Machado. In the OF I’m weak with Dexter Fowler, Colby Rasmus and Brett Gardner stumbling along but I have Yasiel Puig and Billy Hamilton sitting in the minors for next year and when you throw in Miguel Sano is there as well then I have three legit impact bats ready for 2014 and beyond.

Finally I am currently sitting at four closers with Aroldis Chapman, Rafael Soriano, Glen Perkins and even K-Rod closing games. So there we have it. This is why the 2013 incarnation of the Fratton Yankees are doing better than anticipated and this is why I got called dull and boring by a girl what eight or nine years ago. I wonder what she is up to these days…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

June 3rd, 2013 at 11:54 am

‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’

without comments

The words of Jason Collins as he comes out in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated to become the first openly gay male athlete in any of the major north American team sports. This is a big thing and it is about time it happened.

As you all may know I’m a huge NFL, MLB and NCAAFB fan but the NHL and the NBA kinda pass me by as I don’t enjoy the sports too much. So I don’t know this guy from Adam but what I do know is he is an active player and he has decided it is time to open up the conversation. A couple of weeks ago Brittney Griner came out and now just a few days later a man followed suit.

In a self-penned essay in the latest edition of the magazine 34 year-old Collins writes about his struggle and one paragraph in particular stood out, ‘When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.‘ I would certainly recommend reading the entire article linked to above to get a full sense of what he has struggled with over the years.

The situation has changed and the tide is changing for people to be more open about their sexuality. I watch two American Sports Talk shows daily and everyone was happy that he had felt able to come out but also it was noted that this wasn’t Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier nor Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs. Sadly not everyone in the industry is cut the same way and step forward Chris Broussard:

Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.

Now it has been a while since I’ve read my Bible. In fact I don’t own a Bible but I know the odd passage, ‘Judge not, lest ye also be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1). ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6:31). ‘In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’ (Matthew 7:12). Now I grant you the bible also has texts that counter this but the bible should not be taken in a literal context as if you did then you’d get nowhere as there are so many texts that are actually polar opposite.

Mr Collins finally seems at peace with his sexuality and that is what all want to be. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with being attracted to people of the same sex. Happily the early signs coming out of follow north American athletes are seemingly full of support for the player. The thing is if you are a professional athlete in a team sport the overwhelming likelihood is that you have played with a gay team mate. As a fan the overwhelming likelihood is that you have rooted for a gay player at some point in your sports watching.

I hope this man’s decision accelerates something similar happening here in the UK. Sexuality is just part of who we all are and at some point a big name Premier League player will come out as homosexual and it will help others in the sport – and also more importantly young people – feel that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Society is coming around to this and the younger generation are – in general – far more open and accepting than previous generations. I hope we get to the point where sexuality doesn’t define us and is just a footnote in describing us akin to ‘likes soap operas, hates prawns, loves people of both sexes’ or similar.

Jason Collins is a brave man but I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority of the NBA will support him as will the majority of the paying public. This is a huge step and one that shouldn’t be understated and now I await to see when someone still active in the major British sports feels comfortable enough to follow suit. Sadly I fear I will be waiting a while as the vocal minority are still extremely vocal.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

April 29th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Posted in American Sport

Tagged with