Those Whom Speak the Truth Will Suffer For It.

Eric Holder,  President Obama’s first attorney general,  had only been on the job for a month when he called out the whole damn U.S. of A. for its timid reluctance to talk about race in an open and honest way.   Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”

Conservatives already didn’t like Holder before,  but they were really pissed at him for being rude enough to remind the nation this isn’t a post-racial paradise.   When Black people tell White people things like this they are going to get crushed for doing so.    This is where Colin Kaepernick finds himself in today.

If you’re a professional athlete and you’re actively supporting Black Lives Matter, you’re putting yourself in the frying pan.   If you refuse to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, you’re cooked.   America loved Muhammad Ali  after he got sick and no longer dangerous, but they don’t want NFL players walking in his shoes.

As a longtime San Francisco 49ers fan, my interest was rekindled when Jim Harbaugh selected  Colin Kaepernick as the quarterback to lead the 49ers back to somewhere Alex Smith never could get to:  The Super Bowl.  They came up three points short to the Baltimore Ravens, but the future looked bright for the  Niners and Kaepernick looked like the guy to return the franchise to its Montana/Young glory days.

Only four players remain from that 2012 Super Bowl runner-up and after today’s final  roster cuts today while Kaepernick is  still one of them,  it’s only as the $11 million back-up to the wretched Blaine Gabbert.

The scourging of Colin Kaepernick takes several different lines of attack.

“Kaepernick is a rich, well-paid football player who should shut up because where else is he going to enjoy this level of success.”

Because only poor people have the right to protest?

“Kaepernick is a lousy football player who should be cut, traded or ride the bench in San Francisco. Who is he to say anything?”

It’s true Kapernick is not the hot property he once was, but he is an American citizens and American citizens are not required to stand and observe the National Anthem. This right extends even to professional football players. Incredible, yes I know.

“Kaepernick isn’t Black so what does he know about how Black men experience racism?”

That one came courtesy of NBC Sports’ Rodney Harrison. Harrison, who suffered at least 10 concussions in his playing days and was suspended four games in 2007 for using Human Growth Hormone, later “apologized” for questioning Kaepernick’s racial roots because he didn’t know Kaepernick was Black.

You may not believe it, Rodney Harrison, but this IS a Black guy. (Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

You may not believe it, Rodney Harrison, but this IS a Black guy.
(Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

I can’t even.

“I acknowledge Kaepernick’s right to protest, but since America is one of the least racist countries on the planet, he’s protesting about the wrong thing.”

Here’s the thing:  if you only agree someone has the right to protest when you agree with what they’re protesting about, you don’t really believe in the right.

Kaepernick is not the next MLK. He’s not the next Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali or any other Black athlete who has stood up (or sat down) to protest the racial inequities of America. He’s the first Colin Kaepernick and he’s following the light all those before him cast upon the darkness of American racism.

Some guys don’t get it. Like Rodney Harrison. Some guys do like Bart Scott.

“I think the death of Muhammad Ali has stirred the pot. It has moved the needle to where athletes are becoming socially conscious. They’re not concerned about the bottom line. They’re not concerned with their dollars. They understand that they have a voice and [they’re] almost ashamed of how they used their voice in the last 20 years since Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor, Muhammad Ali stepped up for social change. Now, guys are ashamed and I think they’re going to try to do something about it.

“We just honored the same man that we persecuted back in the day. It’s always the right time to fight for justice, fight for what you believe in. It’s never a convenient time to talk about what you believe in. You’re supposed to wait til tomorrow? Until he’s not a player? Who’s going to listen? If he had tweeted, who would have cared?”

The way this supposedly washed-up, scrub QB is being vilified, scorned, mocked, and damned, you would think he came out of the huddle, ripped off his jersey revealing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt, and then pulled out an American flag and set it on fire on the 50-yard line. All he did was remaining seated on the bench instead of standing for an anthem that has lost its meaning for him.

Maybe Kaepernick eventually goes and maybe he stays.  Either way, the 49ers are going to suck.  This is a rotten team. and the bookmakers give them the least chance to make it to the Super Bowl.   I knew this before this drama jumped off so where Kap stands on the national anthem, Black Lives Matter or being able to check down to a receiver probably isn’t going to make much difference to the overall product on the field.

American history is soaked in the blood of Black people. It is the nation’s Original Sin and it didn’t end as much as it evolved. If it hasn’t why are we still having this discussion. Racism is a cancer, not a bruise. It goes dormant and then it blazes back to ferocious life.

White Americans have a remarkable talent to ignore the past, sugarcoat the future and hope the future never comes. This works for them until every so often someone like Colin Kaepernick comes along to remind them, that’s the America they created for themselves. It’s not the one Black Americans live in.

Thanks,  Colin for reminding the rest of America, but its gonna cost you.

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The Grammys, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Week Are All Good Reasons to Read a Book.

Forget it kid. She’s WAY too old for you.

Sunday night.   It’s The Grammy Awards vs.the NFL Pro Bowl. Decisions, decisions…what should I not watch first?  It’s a movie night!  The Grammys vs. The Pro Bowl: Great Moments in Counter-Programming.

1.  I had more important things to do than to watch a show celebrating music I haven’t listened to made by “artists” I don’t care about.  Stuff like peeling a potato or clipping my toenails or something. I’m taking the Public Enemy stance on the Grammys: “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?”

2.  Still trying to figure out why such an utterly ordinary song like “Royals” gets all this slobbery love for Lorde. Back in the day she would have been a one-hit wonder on Casey Kasem‘s America’s Top 40.

3.  For pure superficiality, pomp without circumstance and puerile insignificance, it’s hard to trump the Grammys, or as I prefer to call them, the awards show for the group sitting at the little kids table.

4.  But the NFL’s Pro Bowl (a.k.a. “Thanks for choosing me, but I’d rather stay home and watch The Grammy Awards than play in this bullshit game) comes close.   Roger Goodell has threatened to end this cluster fuck and the only questions are why not and who cares?   The worst part of the NFL is the pre-season where the fans are charged full-price tickets for games that don’t count and have no meaning beyond watching a starting player lost for the year with a blown-out MCL.    The Pro Bowl doesn’t count and what makes pro football great is every game counts.   This isn’t like the NBA or baseball where if you lose four or five games in a row it’s called a bad week.   Lose five games in a row in the NFL and your team will be looking for another coach soon.

5.  Media Day:  The biggest bag of bullshit in the whole bullshit week that is the run up to 6:25 pm on Super Bowl Sunday.  A herd of reporters sticking cameras and microphones in front of a bunch of guys who either have nothing to say or can only speak in jockspeak (It’s gonna be a tough game.  We respect those guys.  We have to play our game.  It’s gonna be a war, blah, blah and more blah).

Then you get someone like Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch who doesn’t want to play nice with others.

This is what I want to see repeated about a dozen times Sunday night.

The media-adverse Lynch only “spoke” to the press for six minutes on Media Day and dropped a “shit” on the NFL Network while speaking to Deion Sanders (well, that’s appropriate.  Neon Deion and the NFL Network is shit).   Oh golly, oh gee, oh gosh!  My Super Bowl viewing experience has been ruined by Marshawn blowing off the media.  Whatever shall I do?

Yawn.  Who cares a lot?  Breathes there a single, solitary soul that has ever found the Super Bowl’s Media Day to be anything but more hype of an already over-hyped game?   I’m sure there must be a reason I should care, but I can’t think of what that reason could be.

6.   On ESPN the big game is a possible NBA Finals preview between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.   Pass.  There are few things I care less about than the NBA until the playoffs when the players awake from their stupor and get interested.   CBS is striking back with the Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials.  Seriously?  An hour of 48 years worth of commercials? There must be a book somewhere I haven’t read.  Or need to re-read.

7.   Am I bitter that the 49ers aren’t in the Super Bowl?  Does their absence lessen my interest?  Would I be more into Super Bowl week if Jim Harbaugh was preparing for the game by practicing how he would meltdown on the sidelines at a perceived bad call?  Yes, yes, and yes.   Am I bad loser?  Yes, but I’m a worse winner.

8.   Oh, the President gave his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.   The State of the Union is there ain’t a damn thing getting done if the Republicans have their way and so far they’re having their way.

9.    I guess should make a Super Bowl prediction.   I predict a cold and boring game.  I predict Bruno Mars will be short.   I predict the fans of Bruno Mars will wonder who the hell The Red Hot Chili Peppers are.    I don’t even know why The Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing during the halftime show.  They’re old and when they were young, they still weren’t all that good.

10.   Broncos 31  Seawhores 20.   But I don’t give a damn if it happens the other way around.  It’s just another game.

Payton is pretty fast for a slow old White guy.

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It’s Beyonce’s World. Stop It, I Want to Get Off.

“You just hate me because you ain’t me.”

Living in a celebrity-obsessed culture means you will be exposed to saturation coverage with around the clock updates of every move our best and brightest stars make and every breath they take.     Whether or not we are interested or care about the celebrity is not the point.   We are supposed to care.   We are supposed to crave fresh results to process, constant communication and breathless bulletins of what our stars are up to.   God isn’t dead.   He just needs a better publicist and a Twitter feed.

Which brings me to my point.   This is Beyonce’s World and could someone slow it down?  I’d like to get off.

I can’t be the only person in North America who is sick and tired of All Things Beyonce.

When I say “I don’t like Beyonce”  I’m not saying I don’t like her music.  She’s a perfectly capable vocalist.   When she doesn’t bleach her hair too blonde, she’s quite attractive.   She’s a reasonably good dancer, she has a rockin’ body, and even though Jay-Z isn’t much to look at, I give her a lot of respect for being married to a Black man.

But can a brother get a break from the Beyonce News Network?   Everything this woman does is not newsworthy.   Yes, I know that’s blasphemy.   Come get some if you don’t like it.

Beyonce and Jay-Z Go to Cuba.  Conservatives Lose Their Minds.    Sun rises the next day.  World keeps turning.

Beyonce releases diss track telling her haters to “Bow Down Bitches.”    You don’t say?

Beyonce sings at Obama’s inauguration and gets busted for lip synching.    Surprised?

Beyonce’s new song for The Great Gatsby is a duet with Andre3000 is an homage to Amy Winehouse.   It kind of sucks, but who cares?   It’s Beyonce!   Are you not entertained?

Beyonce reunites with Destiny’s Child at The Super Bowl and makes Kelly and Michelle sing one of her songs!

Beyonce named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world.   Because she’s a diva.  And that makes her influential.  So there!

Beyonce bans photographers from her tour.   Because they took photographs of her that were unflattering.  We only want flattering photos of Bey out there.

I’m not one of those old men who spending his 50’s dumping on  entertainment that was never designed with me in mind.   Justin Bieber, Scandal,  Lena Dunham,   Nikki Minaj, reality TV,  Mad Men, Game of ThronesLady Gaga and most of the good people who have won a Grammy,  Oscar, Golden Globe or People’s Choice Award for the last decade.   I am blissful in my ignorance of whatever the current hot hip happening thing is feeling pretty content about it, thank you very much.   This is a father who forgives them for their ways are not mine.

There have always been man-made media monsters stomping across the land and filling our empty lives with all the juicy details of theirs, but nothing like Beyonce.    Maybe Madonna at her peak or Lady Gaga when wearing dresses made of meat mattered more than the music she made, but even Madonna backed off as she aged out from Material Girl to Material Mommy.    Lady Gaga certainly seems to have retreated a bit from the glare of the spotlight allowing it to swing back to pitiful train wrecks like Lindsay Lohan and talentless freaks like the entire Kardashian Klown show.

Beyonce has a social conscience.  Beyonce does not seem to carry herself like Diana Ross ghetto royalty.  Beyonce has indisputable talent as a singer and dancer  (the less said about her attempts at acting the better unless you think she her cringe-inducing “performances in Obsessed and Austin Powers in Goldmember were Oscar-worthy).     Beyonce is gorgeous.   

I still don’t need Beyonce all up in my face ALL the time.    Even beauty can be boring as hell.

I think Bey deserves a vacation.  She deserves one.   She’s earned it.   She should take it.   She should take pity on the world and allow it to  focus on acts of terrorism,  wars, economic calamity, natural disasters,  political machinations, and other mundane stuff for a while.   Every fascinating detail of her fabulous life can go unshared and almost no one will care.    Well, except Bossip, Media Take-Out, Perez Hilton and a million other Internet web sites that feed on these tidbits of trivial b.s. like a newborn calf suckling on its mama’s teat, but who gives a crap about them?

Beyonce is the 8th Wonder of the World.    It will do us all good if  she would go away for a week or two or 26 and allow the world to wonder about her.

How do I do it? Lots of talent, make-up and Photoshop.

What Could and What Will Never Be

So close, but too far.

So close, but too far.

Well, that was an unpleasant way to spend four hours on a Sunday.

Here’s what you need to understand about me.  I’m not the best of winners or the worst of losers. I congratulate the Baltimore Ravens and all their fans for winning the Super Bowl.  Despite the horrid beginning, the game ended on an exciting note.   I love my Niners and while the loss still stings, I’m proud they used that 34-minute blackout to pull their heads out of their butts and give the Ravens a game.

Not making it to the Super Bowl is hard.  Losing a Super Bowl is harder.   Prior to Sunday, the 49ers had never lost one, so you’ll just have to try and understand why I’m bumming big time over this.  Even after 18 years away from the Super Bowl, I have no previous frame of reference with the Niners losing this game.

When it was over,  I didn’t watch any post-game analysis.  Why should I?  I saw what happened.  I know football.  I didn’t need some ex-jock or coach telling me what I already knew.  The 49ers played like ass for the first 30 minutes, gave up a backbreaker of a kickoff return to start the third quarter and with a score of 28-6 generally played like a bunch of sick nuns.

Then boom! boom!  Out went the lights.   When they finally came back on the Niners woke up from whatever stupor they were in and mounted a fast and furious rally that was undermined by the lackluster performance of the disappointing defense, some curious offensive play calling and finally having dug themselves into a hole too deep to climb all the way out of.

"Yes, I AM mad, bro."

“Yes, I AM mad, bro.”

Before the confetti fell from the rafters, before the trophy was presented and before Ray Lewis started giving praises to the Lord, I bailed.   I bailed on everything from ESPN.  I didn’t watch Sportscenter.    I didn’t listen to Chris “Boomer” Berman do the replays.   I didn’t want to see Herman Edwards shucking and jiving or any of the other “experts” telling me what I already knew.

The next day I didn’t turn on the television.  Didn’t listen to the radio.  Stayed away from the sports websites.   Didn’t want to check Facebook for updates or Twitter for the tweets.   I had a headache most of the day and all I wanted was to be alone with my dark, dark thoughts.  Fortunately, it was a dreary, sunless day so at least Mother Nature was doing me a small favor.

Call it an overreaction if you want to.   That’s fair.  I really don’t care.   When you wait nearly two decades to get back to the Super Bowl and the end result is you’re the second-best team in the NFL it sucks.

Because you  aren’t the second best team in the NFL.  You’re just the last one to lose.

There can only be one.  And it's not you, Jim.

There can only be one. And it’s not you, Jim.

Break Up the 49ers!  (But Why?)

I’m a hardcore fan, but I’m not a fanatical fan.   Last year the 49ers fell one game short of the Super Bowl.   This year they fell one touchdown short of winning it.   Which if getting closer means anything, next year the Niners are a lock to be the ones hoisting the trophy, right?

Not if some of the faithful that make me look like a non-believer have their way.   After the game these guys were feeling raw and they were ready to start handing out bus passes and shipping players and coaches out of town.
Get rid of Colin Kapernick.  Keep Alex Smith.  Fire the offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator.   Patrick Willis didn’t make any plays.  Everyone on the defense stinks.  Jim Harbaugh got out coached by his big brother.  David Akers couldn’t kick a can down the street (okay I agree on that last one).

Let’s all calm down here.  Losing our heads because we lost the Super Bowl is understandable, but let’s not be rash and start applying drastic solutions to frustrating situations.

You don’t burn down your house because of a broken window. Release Willis and 31 teams will fight over the right to sign him.   Jim may be more emotional than John and you can push his buttons pretty easily, but what he’s done in two seasons, even the Genius himself, Bill Walsh, can’t match and he was a pretty good coach.

What you do is go out a get a pass rusher. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are stout against the run, but ordinary against the pass. If you replace anyone in the linebacker corps, it’s Ahmad Brooks, not NaVorro Bowman, not Aldon Smith and DEFINITELY not Patrick Willis. I’d ship Brooks, Sopoaga, Culliver and probably Carlos Rogers out of town.

Kapernick needs a young speedster to pair with Crabtree. Moss can’t get it done anymore. Williams can’t stay healthy and Jenkins is clueless. Manningham can do what Moss does, but he’s no burner.   Find Colin a rocket on two feet and watch what happens when the Niners have a receiver who gives defensive coordinators a reason to stay up late nights.

If Cleveland or Kansas City are really the likely destinations for Alex Smith, then the Niners have to get either a good draft pick (and I don’t mean a fourth-rounder) or some young talent in return. Letting him walk for nothing should be out of the question. Ever since New England torched the secondary it should be apparent that is the weakness of the defense. That, and no consistent pass rush. Aldon Smith may be a star one day, but a star doesn’t disappear for four or five consecutive games.

Oh, and David Akers is history. Agreed?

The officials didn’t cost the Niners the game.  They contributed, but you can’t spot any NFL team 28 points before you score your first touchdown and not have contributed mightily to your own problems.  This was a loss they earned.

Now available.  In Zambia and Romania.

Now available. In Zambia and Romania.

Super Bowl Swag Giveaway

Ever wonder what happens to all those “Super Bowl champions” hats, t-shirts and other gear for the team that loses?  Well, if you’re in the market for some “San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl 47 Champs” swag, you’re going to have to travel to somewhere in the world where the NFL is unheard of according to ESPN.com.

Niners Super Bowl championship merchandise, mostly T-shirts and sweatshirts, that were made in advance and bought by retailers are in the process of being donated to Worldvision, a Christian humanitarian organization that has worked to aid impoverished nations.

Once the merchandise is received, Worldvision officials will sort the gear by size, gender and season and then determine which items will go to which countries.

Five countries that will definitely receive 49ers items are Zambia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Armenia and Romania, according to Jeff Fields, corporate relations director for Worldvision.

“The people really light up when they see that they have a chance to wear a new T-shirt,” Fields said.

Fields said that it’s not likely that anyone who gets the items will have any idea what is wrong with them.

“We’re going to some really remote parts of the world,” Fields said. “They don’t have the Internet. They don’t know about the 49ers or about American football.”

I know the feeling.  The day after the Super Bowl I didn’t want to know about the 49ers or about American football either.

The Biggest Loser

Real men wear pink, right Chris?

The Niners Nation is suffering, but not nearly as much as reserve cornerback and notorious homophobe Chris Culliver who got embarrassed by being undressed on national television by Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and set defensive football back a decade by his atrocious non-tacking of Jacoby Jones on his touchdown catch.    Who had a worse day than that brother?

Chris, you may not believe this right about now, but trust me.   It gets better.    YOU, on the other hand,  need to get a LOT better before you step on a football field again.   First,  take a class or something on diversity and learning how to be sensitive toward gays.   I assure you, Mr. Culliver, at some point in your undistinguished football career;  whether it was in the NFL, college, high school or Pop Warner, you have played with a gay teammate.  You may have hung out,  told him anti-gay jokes and even passed him the soap in the shower.   You don’t know for certain, but on the off chance  that you have,  maybe you could stop running your mouth and stop proving every negative stereotype of the dumb jock, you bleeping idiot.

Anyway,  the 49ers football season  is over.   It was like The Dark Knight Rises: great beginning, lagged in the middle, picked up in spots and the ending was lousy.

"I am sorry I am stupid.'

“I am sorry I am stupid.’

A Gold Rush in the Big Easy

The Quest is nearly over.

When you’ve waited nearly two decades between Super Bowl appearances, my first instinct is just to be happy the San Francisco 49ers have the opportunity to play for the championship of professional football.

After happiness passes, what’s left is nervousness.   Fans get too worked up and involved in the fortunes of their favorite sports franchise.  It leads to alcoholism, needless anxiety, panic attacks and early baldness.

I think the 49ers will win, but I can’t say complete certainty.   That’s what an 18-year absence from the Super Bowl does for your confidence.  It makes you run scared.

Everybody’s got a guess.  The experts can go down a list of every player on both the 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens and tell you with total confidence this will be the contributing factor that tilts victory to one side or the other.  They’ve crunched the numbers.  They’ve watched the tape.  They’ve consulted with the wisest of wise men.

But all they’re doing is giving their best guess.   They know all the reasons why the Niners or the Ravens will win.   What they don’t know is who will.

My nature is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.    The Niners have a great defense, playmakers on both sides of the ball and in Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick I trust.   But everything the 49ers have, the Ravens have too including a Harbaugh of their own.   It’s hard to have any swagger when each team has it own share of Unmovable Objects and Irresistible Forces.

Make way for a new Lord of the Rings?

There have been some signs of the Niners not handling the media attention well.   Reserve cornerback Chris Culliver’s anti-gay remarks made him look dumb and revealed how poorly the 49ers front office prepped the players to deal with the extra attention.   The former Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange is no journalist and he baited Culliver with a leading question, but Culliver put his own feet in his mouth and swallowed.

There’s no undue pressure on either team.  This is the the second  Super Bowl appearance for the Ravens and the sixth for the Niners, but that doesn’t mean there’s no expectations for the 49ers.   They’re challenging the Pittsburgh Steelers for a sixth ring, but unlike the Steelers, the Niners have a perfect record:  They’ve won every Super Bowl they’ve been.

That’s where the heavy hand of history falls squarely on the shoulders of the 49ers.

In the big picture of the carnival that is Super Bowl week, the Culliver controversy isn’t all that big of a deal.  He isn’t going to be star of the game.   More likely it will be someone named Lewis, Willis, Flacco, Rice, Crabtree or Gore (and if you don’t know who those guys are, you’re better off watching The Puppy Bowl or the Lingerie Bowl).

I will tune in at 6:30 ready for three or four hours of hype, commercials, celebrities, and oh yeah, a football game.  I expect big hits, edge of the seat excitement, good company and hopefully—HOPEFULLY, a sixth ring for San Francisco.

And I’ll hope most of all it doesn’t come down to a last second field goal from David Akers because the only thing I’ve been able to depend on Akers’ kicking is that I can’t depend on it.

Since Super Bowl 47 is taking place in New Orleans:  Laissez les bons temps rouler, Geaux Niners.

Got the Hope, Looking For the Glory

Tebowing is so 2012. “Kaepernicking” is the rage.

The NFL’s  32 teams open their training camps in the heat of summer and finish the endurance test that is the regular season in the cold of winter with one team being declared the best as it hoists the Lombardi trophy for winning the Super Bowl.

All any faithful follower of a football franchise can ask for is if their team makes it to the league’s version of the Final Four.   Only one team can be declared the best of the best, but it’s a successful season if your team is involved in the conversation.

My team is, and no matter the outcome when the San Francisco 49ers meet the Atlanta Falcons for the right to challenge the Patriots or the Ravens for the ultimate in bragging rights, it has been a very successful season for the Niners.

For the 49ers to come this close to breaking the 18-year drought of Super Bowl appearances leaves me with both anticipation and dread.   Anticipation that the Niners will beat the Falcons and advance.   Dread that they will lose and fall short (again).    It’s cool to get to the NFC championship round, but it’s better to actually win it.

I always run scared when it comes to predicting how the 49ers will fare in a meaningful game, but between Jim Harbaugh’s coaching prowess, their nasty smash-you-in-your-mouth-and-step-on-your-throat defense, and now the wild card of Colin Kapernick at quarterback, I feel confident the Niners will show up and acquit themselves admirably.

Or I could say I really believe the Niners are going to put their foot up the ass of the Falcons, but playing on the road in a dome against a team looking for the respect they feel nobody’s given them all season is a recipe for possible disaster, so I’m not going to say anything like that.  But you can’t kill me for thinking it.

Win or lose (please win),  unless he plays like shit, Kaepernick will solidify his hold on the starting QB job as he provides a degree of leadership meshed with talent not seen in the Bay Area since (dare I say it?) the glory days of Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Down.  Out.  Finished.  Bye-bye.

Down. Out. Finished. Bye-bye.

Is that being a wee bit premature?   Not really, because after last week’s ridiculous  offensive explosion against the Green Bay Packers  where he accounted for 444 yards of offensive and four touchdowns (five, if  you count the interception he threw early in the game), the word is out.   This kid is not a fluke and not a one-trick pony.   Colin Kaepernick is good.  He is Real Good.  C.K. is money.   Runs like a gazelle.  Flings the ball around like it’s rocket-propelled.  Can make a mistake and not let it screw up his entire day.   These are qualities one rarely sees in a single player and Kaepernick (so far) has demonstrated all of them.

A little hyperbole isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Young was forced into early retirement by a concussion from a vicious hit by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams (I was never mad at Williams for his hard, but legal hit on Young.  I’m not quite so ready to forgive Lawrence Phillips, the woman-beating, law-breaking asshole who missed the block on Williams).  What came next was nearly 20 seasons of has beens, warm bodies, and busted picks such as Jeff Garcia, Steve Stenstrom, Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey, Cody Pickett,  Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill, Chris Weinke, J. T. Sullivan, Troy Smith and finally Alex Smith, the overall Number One draft pick the Niners chose instead of Aaron “Discount Double Reality Check” Rodgers.

So you can understand if Niner fans go into tomorrow’s game with a hope in one hand and apprehension in the other.   We’ve been here before and last January it was the Giants and Kyle Williams’ bad luck that ended a great season one game too soon.

Fans tend to exaggerate their importance in how their team does in a big game.  We have no importance,   but all the same I’ll gear up, ready proper and necessary amounts of food to nourish and drink to steady myself during the particularly tense moments when fortune favors the other team as I yell like hell when something good happens and sit there sullenly as something bad follows.

Against the Saints last year,  Alex Smith played about as good as any elite QB in the league.   He shook the title of “game manager.”   He won’t be back with the 49ers next season, but he’ll be playing and starting for someone else.  With Smith you had a quarterback who made good and solid plays if not quite exceptional.   With Kapernick, how high his ceiling is remains to be seen.   He seems to be on the cusp of greatness, but he has to win two more games to achieve it.

The hope is there.   Whether the glory is as well remains to be seen.

A young man in a hurry to be great.

 

Black Friday Follies: I Do Not Buy What I Do Not Want.

It might have been Lily Tomlin who said “The trouble with the rat race is even if you win, you’re still a rat.”

The other thing is the other rats keep getting faster and the maze we’re in never gets any easier to get out of.

Black Friday is a masterpiece of marketing and advertising and the conquest of common sense.  Why do I need to be up long before the sun is shivering in the cold with the other idiots to buy a Black and Decker multipurpose power tool I might use three times a year?   Because I’m a good little consumer and I follow my programming without hesitation or question.

All year long I buy what I need when I need it.  Why get sucked in by the hype of National Go Buy Stuff Day?   I keep my ass at home on Black Friday.  Do I really need to get up at 4:00 a.m. to stand in line to buy a toaster with 25 temperatures and  spinning rims?

I am not a snobby elitist who detests standing in line with the masses.  Nor am I some anti-Capitalist desiring to send a message to the money-grubbing exploiters of the working classes that I will not take part in their bourgeois orgy of materialism and greed.    If Black Friday is to the hardcore shopper what Super Bowl Sunday is to the football fan, knock yourself out.   I’d be the last guy to get between someone and their compulsive need to buy another flat screen TV they don’t need.

The thing is Super Bowl Sunday is rarely when the best game of the year is played.   It’s just the day that’s most hyped as the best game even though it usually isn’t.   Well, this truth holds for Black Friday doorbusters bargains.   You can set the alarm to get up at an ungodly hour so you can stand around a Macy’s or Wal-Mart at 5:00 a.m., if that’s how you roll,  but don’t expect to get the best bargains of the year because you won’t.

MYTH: Everything on Sale on Black Friday Is at Its Lowest Price of the Year Although many Black Friday deals offer the lowest prices of the year, you should probably wait to buy toys, brand name HDTVs, and winter apparel. Toys see the deepest discounts right before Christmas; brand name HDTVs sink in price between December and February; and winter apparel sales are best after Christmas.   What’s more, retailers often sprinkle in mediocre discounts with their doorbuster deals, in the hopes that shoppers trying to bang out all of their holiday shopping will bite on high-profit items.

Perhaps there’s some small entertainment that comes with joining in with hundreds of other shoppers convinced they’re making out like bandits by being the first one to rush inside like the zombies invading the mall in Dawn of the Dead.   I’ve even done it once when my wife convinced me to go with her and the kids to Target.    For what exactly, who knows?   I do recall once was enough for me.  The high point was going to breakfast after the low point of pushing, elbowing and jockeying for position to buy something now long forgotten.

Buy! Consume! Spend! BRAINS!!!!

If you run a store that opens on Thanksgiving and denies your employers a day off so they can enjoy the day with their families you’re pretty vile and if you go shopping on Thanksgiving and justify these asshole bosses screwing their workers you’re an asshole too.   Or don’t you think those cashiers want to be home with their families eating turkey and watching parades and football games too?

Black Friday always features the inevitable news stories of old people having heart attacks and dying on the floor while others step over the bodies,  good Christian folks cursing like angry drunks and punching each other out over some worthless trinket, or the smart shopper who gets jacked in the parking lot by someone who wants what they got and wasn’t about to stand in line for two hours to get it.  Yeah, that’s a lot of fun.

It’s a paradox.  On Thanksgiving we appreciate what we have.  The next day we max out our credit cards to buy the stuff we want right now.

In America, “delayed gratification” is the time spent between waiting for Wal-Mart to unlock the doors to how long it takes to get to the check-out lane.

Go forth, gladiators.   I am content to stay home all warm and cozy in my bathrobe sipping of orange juice as I shop within my means from the convenience of my laptop.   I’m too bad-tempered to find any pleasure from going to war over an I-Phone I can’t afford or yet another appliance I do not need.    If by chance Black Friday earns the name for being Day Zero of the zombie apocalypse I’d prefer to observe the chaos from a safe distance.

Let’s go SHOPPING!!!!

Will San Francisco become Peyton’s Place?

The 49er faithful is dreaming this will be the reality

It’s hard to imagine Peyton Manning wearing any other uniform than the blue-and-white of the Indianapolis Colts.

BUT…

If by some twist of fate, stroke of luck (not the Andrew Luck kind), or divine intervention, the San Francisco 49ers beat out the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos in the teams vying to sign the 35-year-old signal caller, the 49ers immediately become Super Bowl contenders.

At least that’s what the hype will be. In truth, no matter who the quarterback is next season, the 49ers will be on the short list of teams favored to be in the Super Bowl. If they land the biggest free agent prize since Reggie White, the Niners will become the prohibitive favorite.

Truth is, getting Manning in his mid-thirties is not like getting him in his early twenties, but even a older Manning is worth a look and the 49ers would be stupid not to at least kick the tires on Manning to see how many miles he has left. Whether it’s for two or three years, Peyton Manning on the downside of his career is still light years ahead of Alex Smith, last year’s incumbent.

Smith, the former Number One draft pick, showed marked improvement under coach Jim Harbaugh and he can play in the NFL, but Smith isn’t in Manning’s league. Despite the jeers from opponents that Smith is little more than a “game manager” who is basically told not to make mistakes and cost the Niners, Smith showed he can win a game with his arm and legs as he did when the Niners beat the New Orleans Saints 36-32 in the best game of the season.

The NFL has been rocked by the scandal involving the Saints’ system of setting bounties to deliberately injure opposing players. The league is extremely image conscious and for the Saints, a former Super Bowl champion and the kind of feel-good story that’s hard to pull against to deliberately trying to take guys out is indefensible. That’s why the “Where will Peyton play?” storyline is such a welcome distraction.

If Manning chooses the 49ers he’s going to have some questions he wants answered. Who is he going to throw the ball to? The Niners have an All-Pro in tight end Vernon Davis who is probably drooling at the prospect of being on the receiving end of Manning’s passes and Michael Crabtree, whose potential to become a great wide receiver exceeds his production. Then there’s Randy Moss, once the best wide-out in the game, but trying to revitalize his career after a year off. Manning-to-Moss could be the best tandem the Bay area since Steve Young was throwing to Jerry Rice.

Now THIS is something I could get used to.

What the Niners don’t have is a right guard to protect Manning. Last year’s starter, Adam Snyder split in free agency and his backup, Chilo Rachal probably won’t be resigned either. The team could use another threat at wide receiver other than the aging Moss and the streaky Crabtree. There are still a few left in free agency and if Niners don’t grab one they will probably look for a stud in the April draft.

My expectation is Manning will stay in the AFC with the Titans or Broncos than join the Niners in the NFC where he would at some point butt heads with the New York Giants and brother Eli, the owner of two Super Bowl rings to Peyton’s one and the team that beat the Niners in the NFC Championship.

Still, it’s nice to have these expectations. If Manning goes elsewhere, Smith is probably the second-best option for the 49ers. He’s a nice QB, but he’s no Manning and every Niner fan knows it.  Young agrees as he told Pro Football Talk, “I know Peyton Manning is looking for a team to join now and win a division now and go to the Super Bowl now,” Young said. “That team is the San Francisco 49ers.”

Which is true. All of the three teams can afford to pay Manning the multimillion dollar contract he can command. But which team gives him the best chance to get back to the Super Bowl? The Titans are in the same division as the Colts. If Manning doesn’t want to face off against his brother, does he really want to play his old team twice a year and the Titans are good, but not yet a contender. The Broncos made the playoffs with Tim Tebow, but they aren’t deep or skilled at a lot of key positions.

The Niners made their first priority to keep their defense together. Their biggest needs are on the offensive side of the ball, but Manning has to be intrigued at the possibility of playing with Davis, Crabtree, Frank Gore, and a motivated Randy Moss.

I’m not getting my hopes up. I’d love it if the Niners won the Manning lottery, but am I expecting they will? No.

Still, I’m going to be crossing my fingers anyway that this time next week the future Hall of Famer is sporting crimson and gold with a “SF” helmet and a big smile.

Got Peyton? No, but...