Posts Tagged ‘Giants’

DeVito, Giuliani and Good Timing

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Tommy DeVito in action.

Tommy DeVito in action.

  Timing, they say, is everything. Whoever “they” are, I tend to agree with them. And I’m also the first to admit that my timing on this column is terrible, from a journalistic viewpoint.

   But I don’t write to a deadline anymore and, well, a story is still a story, especially in these days of no more local newspapers.

    So, two stories that got my attention a while back involved a couple of guys who you could say are living, breathing examples of a certain type often referred to as stereotypical inhabitants of the North Jersey/New York City axis: Tommy DeVito and Rudy Giuliani.

     DeVito, for those who don’t follow sports, is a quarterback in the National Football League. That statement alone is testament to the fact that, when it comes to timing, DeVito’s has turned out to be almost mystical.

        DeVito is the starting quarterback for the New York Giants because the quarterback who started the season as number one suffered a serious injury and was replaced by the backup quarterback, who also was seriously injured. The team was also not playing well.

          Some might say right place, right time and, yes, that’s true, but DeVito, a 23-year-old graduate of  North Jersey’s famed Don Bosco High, had to put himself in that position.

           His football career at Syracuse and Illinois was unremarkable and he was not drafted as a quarterback by any NFL team. Time to look for a career that doesn’t require good downfield vision and a willingness to be slammed to the ground by 260-pound linemen?

          No, DeVito asked the Giants for a tryout and someone liked what he saw and DeVito got a walk-on spot as the team’s third (only in emergencies!) quarterback.

           Badaboom, badabing, and there’s the North Jersey kid who still lives with his parents playing quarterback as the moribund Giants suddenly win three straight games and lift all of North Jersey and much of New York City out of the football doldrums.

         Turns out the kid’s got guts, can take lots of hits and can throw the ball. And he’s got a confident attitude as demonstrated by an Italian hand gesture he made famous after his first three wins. Kind of an in-your-face don’t mess with us message folks from the area would recognize and the rest of the U.S. was introduced to via TV. 

  I mentioned first three wins because, as you may know, the honeymoon ended last weekend at the hands of the Saints, who tossed Devito’s hand gesture back at him.

     No bigee. He’s still the Giants starting quarterback, his teammates support him, he has an agent out of central casting for “Goodfellas,” a cousin named Danny DeVito (not that one) who throws a mean tailgate party and, yes, good timing.

    A story broke recently that his agent raised DeVito’s appearance fee to $20,000 from $10,000, because of his client’s sudden celebrity, and a pizza restaurant canceled the gig, saying they couldn’t afford it. DeVito didn’t miss a beat. He showed up free of charge, probably ordered a chicken parm and undoubtedly said the Giants will take care of the Eagles in their next game. The coach says he’s still the starting quarterback, for now.

     And Rudy? Last I heard, a jury in Atlanta had ordered him to pay two poll workers $148 million for defaming them as part of the Trump team’s efforts to steal the  2020 election.

       Giuliani also, of course, is charged with Trump and others of various crimes in trying to change the election results in Georgia. In fact, he is guilty of lying about the election across the country as Trump’s mouthpiece.

       I wondered if he had the money to pay the two poll workers, but then it turns out he filed for bankruptcy right after the verdict. Maybe he had the presence of mind to recognize that “billionaire” Trump wouldn’t care a whit about Giuliani’s problems when the ex-president has got more than enough of his own.

        How did “America’s Mayor” get here? Bad timing. After 9/11, when he was the dominant political figure in the country, a mayor leading a bloodied and angry New York City out of the rubble of the terrorist attack with courage and pride, he could have run for president and won.

   He did run, in 2008, but not with any sense of purpose and urgency or platform. He skipped the traditional GOP Iowa and New Hampshire primaries and got buried in Florida. Bad timing. He dropped out. He never acted like it was his place and time, which it might well have been. Then he disappeared until he went to work as Trump’s mouthpiece because, well, the allure of power was always there.

    Time, a fondness for power, many bad decisions and, reportedly, a problem with alcohol and Giuliani’s now, at 79, facing bankruptcy and prison. His time has run out.

     Meanwhile, Tommy DeVito hired a new agent to handle his public appearances. Good timing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

So, How was Your Sports Weekend?

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Aaron Rodgers’ Jets season, and maybe his career, end after four snaps in the Meadowlands.

Aaron Rodgers’ Jets season, and maybe his career, end after four snaps in the Meadowlands.

   “What fools we sports fans be.”*

    Sports (is/are) often looked upon as a microcosm of life, offering highs, lows, stirring victories, deflating defeats, rewards, failures, memories and might-have-beens, despair and, seemingly always, hope and, as a town that prides itself on providing something for everyone, New York delivered in spades for sports fans on all of that in the past few days with the (1.) incredible situation in which New York Jets fans, whose team won its opening game on a 65-yard punt return TD in overtime, possibly feel worse than New York Giants fans, whose team (2.) was embarrassed on the same field the day before, losing to the hated Dallas Cowboys, 40-0, because (3.) the Jets lost their new future Hall of Fame quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, after just four snaps when he went down with a torn left Achilles tendon (the Greeks knew drama, too), and is out for the season and, at 38, maybe for good, meaning all that money and preseason time spent training the team to play the way Rodgers plays may have been wasted, or (4.) maybe not, since the Jets former starting quarterback, Zach Wilson took over and played well enough to win and the defense stymied the vaunted but sloppy Buffalo Bills offense, all of which took the spotlight off (5.) 19-year-old local girl Coco Gauff winning the U.S. Open tennis championship at Forest Hills, joining Serena Williams and Tracy Austin as the only American teenagers to win the tournament, a feat she (6.) immediately gave thanks for by dropping to her knees in prayer, which apparently confused some people, but not as much as the news that (7.) the New York Yankees’ potential new centerfielder (and former Hudson Valley Renegade), rookie Jasson (The Martian) Dominguez, a 20-year-old sensation who has been hitting home runs with astonishing regularity since joining the team a short while ago, has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that will (8.) require surgery, ending his 2023 season and likely costing him the first half of 2024, this being (9.) only the latest in a season of mysterious injuries to key Yankees players, (10.) raising questions (at least here) about the capabilities of the team’s training regimen, something that was never in doubt concerning (11.) Deion Sanders, a former Yankees top draft pick, who played 14 years in the NFL and nine years in Major League Baseball, including a day in which he played an NFL game in between two baseball playoff games, who earned the nickname Neon Deion for his flashiness and thus had lots of doubters when he said he would (12.) take over and coach the unheralded University of Colorado football team into a winner, then proceeded to (13.) lead them to stunning wins over TCU and Nebraska in the first two weeks of the season (14.) with his son, Shadeur, starring at quarterback (talk about good genes) and stirring thoughts about winning combinations and fond memories of former champions, such as (15.) the cast assembled in the Bronx for Old Timers Day, which featured the “Core Four” of the Yankees’ 1998 World Series champions: Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek ! Jeter, incredibly now an oldtimer, who got his 3,000th hit on a long ago Old Timers Day, back in the town that on this weekend truly had something to offer every sports fan.

     “All the world’s a stage,  And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances …”**

(PS: The Mets were out of town and lost a game, but hired a new head of baseball operations.)

(PPS: Just to top it all off, the day after Old Timers Day, the Yankees were held hitless by the Milwaukee Brewers for 11 innings, got a game-tying two-run home run by Giancarlo Stanton in the 12th and a walkoff double by Kyle Higashioka to win in the 13th. But hardly anybody noticed.)

*Slightly edited Shakespeare.

**Real Shakespeare.

Baseball’s less than perfect week

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

The world in 500 words or less

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Apr 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken

Alyssa Nakken

— Major League Baseball had a red letter day recently when Alyssa Nakken became the first female coach on the field, for the San Francisco Giants. Well-played.

— On the other hand, there was yet another sign that the people running the game have lost all sense of what once made baseball America’s pastime. With Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw six outs away from pitching a perfect game and having thrown all of 80 pitches, LA manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw from the game. Kershaw later said he was OK with the move. I doubt it. Imagine yanking Gibson or Ryan or Spahn or Seaver or Koufax or even David Cone, for Pete’s sake, in that situation. Baseball used to be a game of historic efforts and legends. Kershaw had a shot at history and deserved the opportunity. Moneyball isn’t necessarily baseball.

— Part two of what used to be baseball. Say that Kershaw stayed in the game and pitched two more perfect innings, but the score was tied at zero after nine innings. Kershaw gets to keep trying to be perfect and goes out to pitch the 10th inning. There’s a runner on second base. Kershaw didn’t put him there; baseball did. Is it still a perfect game? What if someone actually sacrifice bunts the runner over to third and the next better hits a long sacrifice fly that allows the runner to score? Do you yank Kershaw now because he’s actually losing a perfect game? Or maybe he’s on the road and just lost a perfect game. I guess with pitch counts we’ll never know.

— Confirmation of the eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was a red-letter day for America. Less celebratory is the fact that 47 Republican senators had to tie themselves in knots trying to come up with reasons to vote against her that did not include “she’s a woman and she’s black.” Another shameful moment for the former party of Lincoln.

— The only nasty thing Attorney General Merrick Garland has caught recently is COVID-19.

— In another effort to bolster his base by lowering the average IQ score of Republicans in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump endorsed Sarah Palin for Alaska’s lone congressional seat. Well, for what it’s worth, she can spy on Russia from where she lives.

— The Taliban forbidding females to get schooled beyond grade six didn’t surprise me. But banning the growing of poppies, Afghanistan’s traditional crop? What the heck do they do for cash?

— Didn’t see this coming: There’s apparently a fertilizer shortage created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. should be OK as long as Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz still get to give speeches in the Senate.

— I just don’t trust Elon Musk on buying Twitter. Buy Texas. It needs fixing a lot more.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Bounty Systems Could Kill the NFL

Friday, March 9th, 2012

A Saints player exults after an illegal hit on Brett Favre. The player said he didn't do it for any bounty. By Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

By Bob Gaydos

So, I’m sitting around waiting for Peyton Manning to pick a new football team and hoping it’s anywhere but in the same division as his baby brother (who has delivered two Super Bowl championships to us Giants fans), and I can’t help but wonder why so many of those supposed sports “experts” — from local newspaper columnists to national newspaper columnists, radio talk show hosts, TV talking heads and call-in fans — don’t seem to grasp the significance of the other big story in football today. That would be the New Orleans Saints front office and coaching staff putting out hits on the best players on opposing teams.

To read or hear much of the commentary since the story broke, a non-fan might be led to wonder why some people — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for one — were making such a big deal over it. Isn’t football a violent sport by definition? Don’t players sign up to play knowing this? Haven’t professionals always prided themselves on hitting hard and making quarterbacks or running backs or receivers a little gun shy? Hasn’t it always been an unspoken code that if you know a player on the other team is injured, you try to aggravate that injury? Isn’t putting a bounty on knocking an opponent out of the game pretty much more of the same?

Yes, yes, yes, yes … and no.

The whole point of the Saints’ bounty system (and they have admitted to it) was to pay defensive players a bonus ($1,000 or more) if they knocked the star player on the other team out of the game. Wheeled off on a cart, preferably. About 20 players participated in a pool that reportedly reached $50,000. This is a league of supposedly college-educated (or at least college-attended) athletes who have a union to supposedly protect their health and well-being, both physical and financial. Their financial well-being depends on two things: 1. the continued success of the National Football League as a whole; 2. their ability to continue playing football without injury.

Until recently, when former players started suing the league for serious physical ailments (many concussion-related) long after they stopped playing, the NFL has not paid much attention to the physical well-being of its players. Hard-hitting produced big TV ratings. The NFL is worth billions today and many players have made millions because of the success of the league as a whole.

But think about it. What happens if Peyton Manning — four-time league MVP and widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and playing for the first time after four surgeries to repair nerves in his neck — takes the field as quarterback for, say, the Miami Dolphins (sorry, Jets fans) and the defensive coach of their opponent has offered a $5,000 bonus to the guy who knocks Manning out of the game. Maybe another grand if he can’t walk off. For starters, that should be conspiracy to commit a crime and the crime itself, battery.

What if a coach playing against Peyton’s brother’s team has a bounty on Eli — the comeback kid and double Super Bowl MVP? Or maybe on his favorite receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks? And hey, what about that kid from Stanford the Colts plan to sign to replace Peyton at quarterback — Andrew Luck. How about two grand to welcome him to the NFL and maybe land on the injured cannot play list. Go down the list of stars in the league. Who would not be a target of a bounty? The Saints admitted targeting Brett Favre (future Hall of Famer) and Kurt Warner (potential Hall of Famer).

The macho pro football players who say this is no big deal are either defensive players, who have no fear of anyone targeting them, offensive players who are not game-changing stars and, thus, also not targets, or too dumb to realize that any business — and pro football is very big business — that knowingly allows its employees to seek to do harm to its most valuable assets and be rewarded for it, is on the road to self-destruction. What is a league without its stars?

This is, of course, to say nothing of the moral and ethical arguments that so many players, fans and commentators seem to think shouldn’t matter to the NFL. Is any behavior in the name of competitive edge to be considered acceptable? Would bounties be accepted in other businesses? Would it be OK, for example, for a copy editor from the New York Post, thinking about a bounty offered by his sports editor, to casually wander into the offices of the New York Daily News and slam a stapler down hard on Mike Lupica’s hands, making it impossible for the award-winning columnist to write?

Well, some might say, Lupica didn’t sign up to be physically attacked for his opinions, just verbally abused. But don’t ask me to believe any NFL star is OK knowing he’s playing a game in which some of his fellow union members are trying to intentionally injure him, and maybe affect his future earnings and physical health. (By the way, of the players who commented on the bounty, Eli Manning was sensible enough to say it had no place in professional football.)

As for the nonsense, that the defensive players aren’t trying to do permanent harm to opponents, it is naïve and delusional to think that any player spurred on by the thought of getting an illegal bonus for knocking, say, Tom Brady out of a game can somehow gauge his hit to be just enough to do less than permanent damage. Look at how many concussions were reported this year since the league got serious about penalizing unnecessarily rough hits or hits on defenseless players.

Whatever many players and fans think, the NFL cannot allow this kind of “incentive” to continue. It is a road to retribution and ruin. Goodell, who is looking to carve a legacy as the commissioner who created an entertaining, highly competitive and profitable enterprise must deliver major penalties to put an end to this illegal, immoral practice now. The Saints defensive coach who instituted the bounties should be banned from the NFL for life. The head coach, who knew about it, should be suspended for half the season. The general manager, who also knew about it, should be find $1 million and suspended for three months. The team owner should fire him. The player (Jonathan Vilma) who offered his own bounty of $10,000 to anyone who knocked Favre out of a playoff game, should be suspended for six games and fined $250,000. The team should lose future draft picks.

If Goodell comes down hard on the Saints, others will not follow their lead and the NFL will continue to prosper as an entertaining, competitive league that offers exciting athleticism and controlled mayhem every week. If he goes soft, some star player is inevitably going to be seriously injured by a nobody trying to make a name for himself and grab a couple of grand under the table. That’s mayhem dangerously out-of-control.

bob@zestoforange.com