Tag Archive | ray lewis

Word Up! “Skill Players”

It’s Friday, time for the world’s funnest vocabulary lesson! Even though “funnest” isn’t a word, but let’s carry on anyway, to this week’s sports saying: “skill player.”

I must admit, ladies, it wasn’t that many years ago when it dawned on me that many, if not most football players rarely actually touch the ball. Even if they are technically part of the “offense.” Never score a touchdown, never slamdunk the goalpost.

That’s because our attention (somewhat rightfully) is so focused on the skill players – although that term is certainly a little unfair. It’s not just quarterbacks and receivers who have skills – being a lineman is a delicate, if hefty, art, whose value is often lost on all but the most educated fans (read: not me).

Can't touch this, even if he didn't touch the ball much. Defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry topped out at nearly 400 pounds during the Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" 1985 season.

Defensive lineman William “The Refrigerator” Perry topped out at nearly 400 pounds during the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle” 1985 season.

Skill players/skill positions are from whence most football points are scored, although it’s not uncommon to see one of the big guys deflect a pass and run it in for a “pick-6” (touchdown off an interception). But mostly the marquee guys are as follows: quarterback, running back, receivers, cornerback, safety, return specialist/punt returner, and occasionally, linebacker and defensive end.The other fellas, linemen and tackles mostly, form the core of the line of scrimmage. They don’t have to throw a ball well or even be fast (though some surprisingly are), but they do have to be big, strong, and smart to allow skill players to get the ball in the end zone. Kickers and holders also have a unique skillset. But it’s usually a quarterback or a receiver you’ll hear about scoring.

Or shooting up da club.

That said, some big guys make big names for themselves on the field and in soap commercials—Ray Lewis (retired, Baltimore), J.J. Watt (Texas, current Yahoo Sports “Shut you down!” commercial star), and Clay Matthews (the long blonde-haired one for Green Bay) are just a few.

(Wait, let me picture that last one for a minute. Sigh…)

So this weekend, try focusing for a few minutes on the guys creating pathways and taking players out (with legal hits, we hope) – and give a little love to the linemen.

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Sunday Fun-day

Peter Wolf

“LIGHTS OUT! Uh-huh! Blast, blast, blast!” Remember this gem from J. Geils lead singer Peter Wolf?

Unless you live under a particularly large rock, you know the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers last night, 34-31. After a fun-but-far-too-late Ravens party, I’m…let’s just say “tired,” but here’s a quick rundown of the game and other notable news from last week:

 Super Bowl Breakdown
Led by the MVP efforts of QB Joe Flacco, the Ravens dominated the first half, finishing at 21-6. But the 49ers returned in the second half with a 19-point surge to close the gap at 31-29, despite a third-quarter power outage that delayed the game for 35 minutes. Though 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh pleaded for a holding call on a fourth down with under two minutes left, the refs disagreed, and the Ravens finished on top.

Now, impress your boyfriend:

  • At four hours, 14 minutes, this was the longest Super Bowl ever.
  • The Ravens failed at the first fake field goal attempt in Super Bowl history.
  • The “OH!” shouts you heard as Alicia Keys sang “Oh say does that…” were Ravens fans mimicking a Baltimore Orioles baseball tradition of…enhancing the National Anthem.
  • Beyonce was joined by Destiny’s Child for a knockout halftime performance. “Beyonce did not cause the power outage,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell joked.
  • The Ravens’ Jacoby Jones set a Super Bowl record with his 108-yard kickoff return.
  • Flacco received a Corvette Stingray for his MVP performance. And, more important, got to meet Beyonce and Jay-Z.
  • Miss any of the commercials? Catch them here.

Bold Statement
Ray Lewis gets most of the attention, but another Ravens linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, hopes to use Super Bowl spotlight now and beyond—not for football, but for gay rights.

Ayanbadejo has long been vocal about his cause. In a recent New York Times interview, he described his passion’s roots in a childhood amid many diverse lifestyles, including living in a University California-Santa Cruz LGBT dorm directed by his stepfather.

“I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society. Discrimination was never allowed.” (By the way, the UC-Santa Cruz “Banana Slugs”? Best. Mascot. EVER!)

Gordie Howe and me

Gordie Howe and me on our shared birthday, March 31, in 1993. (Nice bangs, dummy.)

Icy Hot
Hockey is already well into its abbreviated, 48-game season (due to a lockout this past fall). The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks lead the NHL, both still undefeated at 7-0…Sadly for me, Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz netted a hat trick (three goals in one game) against my second-to-last Washington Capitals in a 6-3 loss on Sunday…The Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty rejoined his team Sunday just eight days after emergency appendectomy… Catch Pacioretty against the Boston Bruins for an anticipated matchup this Wednesday on NBC’s Rivalry Night.

Know Your NHL: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe (also known as “Mr. Hockey”) is considered perhaps the best player of all time. Known for his skills at scoring and brawling, he is the namesake of the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”—a single-game achievement of a goal, an assist, and a fight.

Dame Diggins
No. 2 Notre Dame senior guard Skylar Diggins had a career-best 33 points in a 77-67 defeat of the Tennessee Lady Vols on Monday. UT had hoped to upset the Irish on a night dedicated to legendary former coach Pat Head Summitt, whose 1,098-208 career record makes her the winning-est coach of any Division I men’s or women’s teams ever. The court is already named for Summitt, but a banner was raised in her honor in front of a sell-out crowd. Summitt, merely 60, retired last April after a diagnosis of early-onset dementia.

Sad Stalemate
Recently featured on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Houston Rockets’ 6-8 rookie Royce White, 21, is 260 pounds and covered in tattoos. But he can’t fly, can barely drive, and can’t enter his closet if his suits and hats aren’t perfectly arranged. His generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) make his life a daily battle. And have nearly ruined his pro career.

Requiring special conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as a personal doctor, not the team’s, to determine his mental ability to play, the Iowa State phenom is currently suspended from his $3.3 million annual contract, and has not once set foot on the court.

“What comes along with mental health that goes untreated: alcohol abuse; marijuana abuse; suicidal behavior; homicidal behavior…I advocate for a healthy, safe work environment.”

The Rockets claim to have “bent over backwards” to meet his needs, and that the situation will cause an imbalance in authority between coaches, doctors, and players’ decisions. Hopefully the two sides will reach an agreement. Regardless, White says he will give up the NBA to prove to the world at large that mental disorders are just as devastating as physical ones.

Winter Sports Star Caleb Moore Dies
Winter X Games competitor Caleb Moore passed away Thursday after injuries sustained in a snowmobile crash. He was 25. It is the first death in the Games’ 17 years.

The Dark Knight…Disappears?
In an incident that any American woman will find hiii-larious, a confused bat recently terrorized players at a Marquette/Providence game. Players and coaches fled, ducked, and threw towels at the bat as Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train played. I’ve heard the bat both was and was not caught—will Christian Bale play in the sequel?

Table Manners
DC locals: head to the Arlington Drafthouse tonight for a special premiere of the new 106.7 The Fan Sports Junkies’ Comcast SportsNet TV show, “Table Manners” (details here).