Did someone say football?!?

Hey, guess what?  It’s football time!

Every year I set up a few football contests1, and I want you to be a part.  These aren’t fantasy football leagues, they require a lot less time, knowledge, and as many people as possible can take part.  The more people we have doing them, the better.

This year I named them all after our podcast, “The Salute.”  But don’t worry, you’re not required to actually listen in order to play2.  3 games.  Join 1, 2, or all 3.  All are run  through Yahoo, so you’ll need a Yahoo account to play with us, but who doesn’t have that already, right?

Survival Football

Survival football is the easiest to do.  It’s just one pick per week.  You pick the winner of one NFL game.  If you win, you stay in the next week.  If  your team loses, you’re out.  You can’t use the same team twice, so choose wisely.  Once everyone drops out, the last person left wins.  Usually we play two or three times each season, depending on how long everyone lasts each time.

Sign up here
Group ID:  9091
Password:  gobears

 

College Football Pick’em

Just what it sounds like.  Pick the winners of college football games.  This league is set to include all games each week within the AP Top 25, all games including a Big 12 team, as well as a few other interesting games that may come up outside of that.

Each game will be picked against the spread to make it more interesting… otherwise college games can get a pit too easy to pick.  So easy to pick, even a Mangino can do it3.  If you forget to make your picks one week, or just totally botch it up, your lowest weekly score of the season gets dropped.

Sign up here
Group ID:   7461
Password:  gostate

 

 NFL Pick’em

Finally, we do an NFL Pick’em.  In this one you choose the winner of every game each week.  Then you rank them in order of your confidence in your picks.  The one you’re most confident in gets the most points, least confident gets the least.  Sounds easy enough.  Again, if you forget to make your picks one week, or just totally botch it up, your lowest weekly score of the season gets dropped.

Sign up here
Group ID:  22020
Password:  gobears

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Notes:

  1. unlike my NCAA Tourney contest, I don’t have any cool prizes to give away for these. If that changes, you’ll be the first to know
  2. But if you do listen, you’ll probably prove you’re smarter than everyone else, and have a distinct advantage
  3. Just kidding.  He can’t do much of anything

I ♥ KC

We all know who Chris Sullentrop is, right?  Oh, no?  Well, he’s just some jackass that grew up in KC but moved to NYC for “a bigger stage and a bigger paycheck.”  And that’s fine.  Kansas City isn’t New York City or Chicago or LA.  It doesn’t give the same opportunities, and it doesn’t have all the same sports teams (Though it does have an NFL team, I’m looking at you LA).  But Chris decided the best topic for his column at Grantland today would be to trash Kansas City and declare that “we” (he still says we despite his apparent hatred of his hometown) are a horrible sports town clinging to insecurities and an inferiority complex.

I may not be the most qualifed to write about Kansas City.  I didn’t grow up here.  I moved to Johnson County (on the Kansas side for those of you who aren’t Kansas Citians) when I was 16.  My pro sports allegiances are all about Chicago.   I spent time in some other places in Kansas, but 2 1/2 years ago I moved back to KC, this time on the Missouri side and couldn’t be happier to be home.

That’s what Kansas City is to me.  It’s home.  Home is when I walk into Gates and hear “Hi! May I help you!”  Home is driving by the stadium at Blue Valley Northwest High School where I participated in the first football game played there (if my participated we mean, I was there, in uniform, and got in for a play or two).  Home is walking from my place in Westport to some of my favorite hang outs, or taking in the collection bigger than a city this size should be blessed to have at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  It’s Arthur Bryant’s, Winstead’s, Town Topic, Blanc, Waldo Pizza, Garozzo’s, and a hundred other local loves we all could add to the list.  It’s First Fridays in the Crossroads, Christmas lights on the Plaza, food and drinks in Westport, and even events downtown in and around Power & Light.  It’s the city of fountains, jazz, and great barbecue, and no one does it better.

But you’re just talking about sports, right, Chris?  As a Chicago fan I’m pretty unbiased.  I don’t dislike the Royals or the Chiefs.  I can’t count myself as a fan, but I wish them well.  And here’s a secret:  I admire their fans.  I really do. The greatest quality that a fan can have is loyalty.  And while the Royals may not draw the numbers that many other teams do, their fans are loyal.  Many of the Royals fans I know really are some of the greatest fans around.  Losing, but still loving your team can do that for you.

And we certainly have no shortage of college sports.   The city is taken over every year for the Big 12 (minus 2) tournament.  It belongs here.  It needs to be here.  Like me, and so many others, it has a home here.  And even outside the tournament, it’s home to college sports.  Where else can you find a legitimate home away from home for 3 separate college programs?

We don’t have an NBA team.  I’m not sure we could support one if we did. I’d love to go to the Sprint Center and see NBA and NHL games, but that’s not a part of our reality.  While your quotes about the Sprint Center were deliberately taken out of context and to deride the arena (which, by the way is one of the best I’ve been to, and I consider myself a pretty well traveled sports fan) and our city, it is an arena that has become profitable more quickly than expected, and has done so without an NBA or NHL tenant.

I grew up in Iowa.  My family moved away from Kansas City while I was in college.  I have plenty of excuses to not call Kansas City home if I don’t want to, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.  When people ask me if I’m visiting my family in Indianapolis for holidays they always say “are you going home?” and I am quick to correct them.

So Chris, I’m glad you’re big time in New York now.  You can keep it.

I am home.  And I love being home.

I’m Greedy

I don’t think I’m that bad of a person, really.

But I guess I’m pretty greedy.

As a Chicago fan, I’m pretty pretty lucky.  In my lifetime I’ve gotten to watch the Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Blackhawks all win championships.  In fact, Chicago is the only city in the last 25 years to have won them all.  Sure, the Bears haven’t done it since 1985, but still… they’ve done it.  And better yet, the Cubs haven’t.

So last year when the Blackhawks were in the playoffs and dominating pretty much everyone the entire way though it was looking like that young team was headed for a dynasty.  But I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.  I said that no matter what happens, if they win 1, I’d be happy and satisfied with it.  They did.  And I was.

Then salary caps took over.  The team was dismantled except for it’s core of stars.  They kept saying not to worry, that with guys like Kane, Toews, Keith, and Sharp locked up the transition would be seamless.  My conviction of being satisfied with just one cup continued, but may have waned a bit…

Now, down 3-0 in the first round to the dirty scum Canucks….

I’m greedy.

Well, thank God for da Bulls, at least.

On Sports Hatred…

Let’s face it… this picture is awesome.

That being said, I don’t feel guilty at all for enjoying it.  If you put yourself out there as a super fan of some sort, you put yourself out there for this to happen.  When I was a student at K-State, for 2 years a couple friends and I stood on the front row at every football game wearing purple togas.  People knew who we were, and on the rare occasion we lost a game, we knew there was more to be directed at us by the opposing fans (see, the game we never speak of in 1998).  The more passionate you are about anything, sports or otherwise, the more sweet the wins will be, and the harder the losses.

Sports has winners and losers.  If it wasn’t so, there would be no sports.  When you cheer for a team, you’ll find others cheering with you, and others cheering for the other team.  And some may be cheering for the other team specifically because they don’t like your team.  Deal with it. Am I a bad person because I take great joy in KU losing?  No. It’s a freaking game. I’m sorry if you have the misfortune of being a KU fan.  I get that you buy into the idea that if people don’t cheer for your silly little mythical bird, that they are somehow cheering against America.  I get that somewhere deep down you’re deeply and personally offended by those of us who don’t buy into the theory that if they live in the same state for which your school is named after (and by your school I mean the one you probably didn’t actually go to, but for some reason live and die for anyway).  I live on the Missouri side of Kansas City now anyway, so by that logic, shouldn’t I be a Mizzou fan and hate KU all the more?

No.

I went to K-State.  I’m proud to have gone to K-State.  No matter how you try to spin it, in no way am I ever, under any circumstances, obligated to cheer for KU or any other team whose fans think that I should.

For some reason, in my experience, KU fans take it deeply personal.  You know, it’s really not about you.  When I say I hate KU, I didn’t say “I hate every bit of who you, personally, are as a human being.”  But for some reason people take it that way.  They claim that KU fans don’t cheer against K-State (while large amounts of vocal KU fans show otherwise), but even if they don’t, that in no way obligates me to cheer for KU, or to feel sad when they lose amidst the easiest path to the Final Four since 2008 to an 11 seed and Mr. Sad Jayhawk gets posted all over the internet.  This week I had a choice.  I could cheer for VCU or for KU.  The choice was easy.  If you don’t like my choice, that just isn’t really my problem.  My 4 year old nephew once said to me, “Now Uncle Mike… different people like different teams… and I like the traitor people.”  He was talking about Nebraska, but you get the point.  I may not like that he’s cheering for the traitor people, and you might not like that I’m cheering against your team, but life goes on… and when it’s all said and done, none of our teams are in the Final Four.

I do think there’s a decorum and class to hating in sports.  I don’t wish actual harm on anyone.  I’m not secretly praying for KU’s plane to crash and I didn’t take joy in the sad stories about what Thomas Robinson went through this year.  Would I like to see them crumble and suddenly lose every game for the rest of humanity?  Of course.  But there’s a difference between a game and destroying their humanity.  How fans are treated matters to me as well.  While I may have celebrated KU’s loss on Facebook, Twitter, and real life, I didn’t do so specifically to rub it into particular people.  I somehow have a few friends left who are KU fans, and I didn’t call them or text them to rub it in.  I didn’t direct anything specifically to them, or write on their Facebook walls to try and rub their faces in it.  It hurts when a team you care about loses.  I get that.  It hurts me when K-State loses to a 4 seed, so I know it has to hurt when KU loses to an 11 seed (really?!?).  In this instance I get to celebrate.  You don’t.  Plenty of other times it has gone the other way around.

Different people like different teams.

Deal with it.

#22 – Dave Duerson

RIP, #22Dave Duerson
November 28, 1960 – February 17, 2011

When you look at all the various characters that exist in the NFL today, they owe a sense of allegiance to the ’85 Bears.  I don’t think any team prior to us had the kind of fun we did. We enjoyed each other off the field and executed to near perfection on it, particularly in the Super Bowl.

-Dave Duerson

At What Cost?

Curtis KellyEvery serious K-State fan knows what happened this week.  At least we know a few bits and pieces.  Message boards started going crazy on Tuesday, and the K-State Twitter world soon followed, when rumors started to fly about Curtis Kelly.  He was kicked off the team for failing drug tests.  He was still on the team, and the best player ever.  He broke some rules, but we don’t know what.  He probably beat his girlfriend in the middle of the night too (oh wait, sorry, that’s KU).  Since then tons of rumors have flown around, but nothing official has been stated until today.  Curtis Kelly is still a member of the team, is practicing, and will play Saturday against Colorado.  Everything else at this point is rumor, speculation, and unnamed sources.

It just raised a question over the past few days… at what cost do we want to win? Now this isn’t necessarily a question about the Curtis Kelly situation (or non situation, whichever the case may be). It’s a question of ethics and character vs. winning.  I can only think of one program in college basketball that consistently wins and does not have consistent public character issues… and let’s face it, Kansas State is not Duke.  You only have to look 75 miles east to see a program that consistently wins, but stars girlfriend beaters, sexual assaulters, and a kid who took thousands of dollars and somehow only was suspended for 9 games… hypothetically speaking, of course.

So the question to be raised is, which do we want to be?  A team that wins, or a team that is clean?  Can that exist in the same program outside of Durham? Maybe it’s my cynicism, but I’m just not sure it can anymore.  Not in big time sports.  I want to say the right thing, but I’ve found myself over the past few days just wanting this whole situation (or non situation, whichever the case may be) with Curtis Kelly to just go away.  Play, and let the chips fall where they may once the season, and his collegiate career, are over.  And that may just be what is happening.  But that goes against everything I’ve always thought I am as a fan.

So I have to ask myself, and all the other K-State fans out there, who are we really?

Jordy for President!

Why yes, that is a man with a Superbowl ring along with me and boys.  During his rookie year with Green Bay, Jordy Nelson was back at K-State and tailgated next to us, so we took a second to snap a picture.

I wasn’t rooting for Green Bay.  As a Chicago Bears fan, I would never do such an evil thing.  But Jordy is a K-Stater and I’m proud of him for not just earning a ring, but scoring the game’s first TD as well as several other significant catches.

Jordy Nelson… we salute you!

The finished product…

image

Here’s how the wings ended up. The verdict? Still not as good as fried, but if you’re going to bake them this is a solid substitute.

And yes, I do have a football shaped crock pot. You have a problem with that?

Also, if you’re wondering… all commercials except mini-vader and the flower one with the great rack have sucked. Superbowl commercials just aren’t what they used to be.