Corporate Culture. Fast Tech. Enough of Ryan. Go Bears. Barca. Flight 1549.

Corporate speak in the NFL? Technology evolving too fast…is it out of control?  Why do we really need to watch Lochte? It is THEIR territory. Disparity with the Champions League.  The Hudson River Decision.

  • I am an Atlanta Falcons supporter and have been for a very long time.  I also admire Arthur Blank, the team’s owner.  Mr. Blank, as tough as he can be, must have a very high level of resilience when it comes to his football team.  He has provided the team with the resources to build a winning team.  He is spending a ton of his own money on a best-in-class stadium that will open in June of 2017.  What I don’t understand is how he puts up with the corporate speak from his head coaches.  Yes, coaches because the previous head coach, Mike Smith, was a master of the ‘speak’ when explaining his team’s lack of performance.  So Mr. Blank replaces Mike Smith with Dan Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator.  I am sure DQ is a tough coach and has the basic ability to handle the head coaching responsibilities but I am sick and tired of hearing the ‘speak’ again.  His post-game comments after Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay sounded like he was reviewing last quarter’s P/L statement.  I am not one to look back but I do benchmark the qualities of successful head coaches in the NFL.  Can you imagine the likes of Shula, Cowher, Parcells and Madden dealing with subpar performances from their teams?  These coaches did not care about their “Q” rating or the media’s perception of their demeanor.  DQ:  you are 3-9 since last October 15 and two of those three wins were against Tennessee and Jacksonville.  The Falcons franchise value is ranked in the bottom half of the 32 NFL teams.  Quickly change the culture and demeanor of your team or you will end up as DC again very soon.
  • I do realize that technology is always evolving and the race to deliver new products to market is the underlying objective of Apple, Samsung, Tesla, and many others.  One example is the dynamic competition between Apple and Samsung with hand-held devices.  Great for the consumer until the product development cycle is shortened to get product to market too fast and without the proper quality control parameters.  C’mon Samsung!  You release the Galaxy s7 in response to Apple’s latest phone and the s7’s battery heats up with such intensity that it has exploded in your customer’s hands?  This nonsense needs to stop. Why did the Consumer Product Safety Commission wait so long to announce a mandatory recall of the s7?  The world is crazy enough without worrying about your phone  catching fire.  Speaking of crazy….Tesla is investigating the cause of a fatal crash in China involving one of its vehicles, but has “no way of knowing” if its semi-automated Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident.  23-year-old Gao Yaning died in January after crashing into the back of a road sweeping vehicle while driving a Tesla car on a highway in the northeastern province of Hebei.  No way of knowing if the auto-pilot was engaged?  Really, Tesla?  The driver just decided to test the front end integrity of a Tesla by driving into the back of a massive street sweeping machine?  Yes, technology is being introduced too fast.
  • I will not waste too many keystrokes on drama-boy, Ryan Lochte.  Sickening that after his immature stint in Rio he decides (ok, his agent decided) to participate on the infamous Dancing with the Stars.   He needs to either go away or make good by donating money and time to help educate our youth on alcohol abuse.  Publicity-seeking when you should be doing the opposite?  Yes, Ryan Lochte……..Go Away.
  • The Russians are coming!  Or maybe, the Russians are really stupid.  There are Russian meteorologists who somehow were assigned to do research on a glacier 2800 miles away from Moscow.  If that is not terrible enough, the glacier, like most artic areas, is swarming with polar bears.  Yes, the animals who LIVE in that part of the world.  All good except that these intelligent meteorologists are now ‘trapped’ as the polar bears have become curious to why humans have invaded THEIR territory.  Seriously, if you are 2800 miles from Moscow and camped out on a glacier you might have planned a bit better.  To the meteorologists on Troynoy Island:  you can’t fix stupid.  Not wishing the Russians harm but…..Go Bears!
  • The Champions League.  The epitome of competition among European Club teams.  The CL runs in concert with domestic leagues and honors the top finishing teams of the previous season with entry into this big money-making tournament.  You would think that UEFA has the competition figured out and make parity a priority.  Not exactly, as Tuesday there was a lopsided result with Barcelona destroying Celtic, 7-0.   There is talk about UEFA revamping the CL and Tuesday’s game supports their thinking.
  • I had the chance to see the movie Sully the other night.  Well done Clint Eastwood.  I am not one that usually enjoys movie flashbacks but Clint handles the storyline well.  I mentioned Jonah Hill’s performance in War Dogs a couple of weeks ago….Tom Hanks as Captain Sullenberger is also remarkable and along with Hill should get an Academy award nomination.  At the time of the incident I had only focused on the ability of Sully, under extreme duress, to safely land the plane on the Hudson.  Little did I know that the NTSB put Sully and his co-pilot through the ringer with the thought that Sully could have made it back to LaGuardia or Teterboro airport.   Great writing and acting…go see it.

Adios.  Happy Sunday Funday.

Pacific Rim. Year 97. Jonah. Maiden. Memories.

What to do with Kim Jong-un? Big Hits in the NFL.  He is a War Hog.  Say Iron Maiden.  Let us NEVER Forget.

  • Amazing to me that the Chinese and Japanese as well as the rest of the world seems to be taking the detent path with the North Koreans and their erratic “leader” Kim Jong-un.  I cannot understand what the strategic thinking could possibly be to let the North Koreans continue down a path of nuclear proliferation.  I will not go the politics route with my take so I am going to assume that the main topic of discussion at last week’s ASEAN summit was North Korea?  Lets hope so.
  • We are now into the 97th year of the NFL.  The buzz around the start of the NFL and college football seasons continues to build year over year thanks to the remarkable marketing engines of the media and broadcast networks.  Thursday night’s Broncos-Panthers game did not disappoint though the concussion discussion needs to be heightened after seeing those hits on Cam Newton.  I know the NFL rules committee works hard to figure out the helmet-to-helmet scenario but at a minimum it probably makes sense to introduce more stringent tackling rules and protection protocols.  If not already standard add-on equipment, the Gyro product from Unequal Technologies is one way to help prevent head injuries from those massive hits we saw Thursday night.
  • I don’t usually go to the movies but I did see War Dogs. I would strongly recommend you take the time to see Jonah Hill’s performance.  Some of the story line gets sideways a bit but the overall writing and acting is outstanding.  Hill will be nominated for a Academy Award for his effort.
  • Last week’s Take mentioned that I went to Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta to catch AC DC with Axel Rose as their lead singer.  Yep, not the infamous AC DC we all remember but a decent show at a great venue.  When I mentioned this to a friend on mine, he reminded me of some of the great rock band performances of the past.  In 1975 the band Iron Maiden was formed and over time has been recognized as a top 10 rock band of all time.  I never was exposed to Maiden but finally watched Iron Maiden: Flight 666, a full length documentary of their 2008 world tour.  Amazing to realize that despite little radio or television support, Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with the band having sold over 100 million copies of their albums worldwide.
  • A great time of year with fall on its way, both football and soccer in full swing (kudos to Pep for yesterday’s win over ManU) and the FedEx Cup coming up fast.  With that said, today marks a very sad day in history. Like many others around the country I looked in amazement at my office TV at smoke pouring from the upper floors of one of the World Trade Center towers.  Amazement turned to shock when the second plane hit the other tower. It became clear to me and my associates that September 11, 2001 would change the world forever.  Fifteen years ago seems like yesterday.  As we watch the EPL and NFL today keep the family and friends of the thousands of victims in mind.

Adios and Happy Sunday Funday!

Kap Wakes Up. USMNT Paddleboards thru St. V & G. Der Kaiser. Axel Rose and AC DC. Three Months for a Felony.

Labor Day. A Charitable Contribution.  Getting to the Hex.  The Legend under Intense Scrutiny.  Iconic band and a Great Deal of Noise.  Are You for Real…Three Months?

  • The first Monday in September is a holiday usually correlated with football, barbeques, and kids and their parents gearing up for the school year.  It is probably a good idea, especially with the general tumult of today’s societal issues and concerns, to remember Labor Day and why it was established.  If you don’t know what Labor Day is then take a minute of your time and learn about the labor unions established long ago.  Seriously, Labor Day is a National holiday….show some respect.
  • Speaking of respect, in my last post I was obviously puzzled by Colin Kaepernick’s lack of respect for the Flag and our National Anthem.  I assume he read my blog (not) and has now discussed his position with way more clarity than nine days ago.  More importantly Kap has made the decision to make a $1m contribution to “organizations that can make a difference”.  Well done young man, as this is a positive step in helping navigate and educate the broad section of Americans, including police officers, who don’t understand the social economics of our society, which in my opinion leads to bias and distrust within our communities.  Don’t get me wrong, I stand firm that his actions have been disrespectful but at least he now has money in the game.  Note:  Kap will make a guaranteed $11.9m this year.  To the Santa Clara police department:  thank you for backing off your threat of not working 49’ers games.  Your boycott of this assignment would have sent the wrong message.  Stay above the fray and don’t lower yourself to one man’s disrespect.
  • Did you watch the USMNT on Friday afternoon?  I recorded it and was able to watch it Friday night without knowing the result….amazing in this day and time.  Important World Cup qualifier?  Not really, but they took care of business and the only way the USMNT doesn’t advance to the Hex is if they lose to Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday and Guatemala beats St. Vincent & the Grenadines by 12 goals. So the USMNT is basically through to the Hex. This is especially good news as Friday’s rout of St. Vincent & the Grenadines was accomplished without Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jon Brooks, three key U.S. players.  Bradley will be back in the center midfield on Tuesday night against Trinidad & Tobago, a game that features Kenwyne Jones, Atlanta United’s newly signed player who has been loaned out to Central FC.  Should be fun to watch U.S. defender Jeff Cameron deal with Jones, who at 6’3″, 190 lbs. is a handful to mark.
  • Is everyone sick of FIFA and the World Cup bidding process?  Of all sports icons, we now have Franz Beckenbauer in the middle of the fray.  Known worldwide as Der Kaiser, he has been singled out by Swiss prosecutors as the key figure involving money laundering and bribery leading up to the 2006 World Cup hosted by Germany.  The only way for this to stop is for the sponsors to convene and seriously threaten to end their relationship with FIFA.  There are many sponsors and probably other entities lined up to get on the sponsorship bandwagon but at a minimum the boycott of FIFA would send a strong message.  Maybe FIFA President Gianni Infantino should bring Loretta Lynch on board as his next hire?
  • I attended what I thought would be an awesome rock concert Thursday night at Atlanta’s Philips Arena.  Let’s just leave it that AC DC is not the same without their key band members.  Unfortunate that Axel Rose has subbed in for legendary lead singer Brian Johnson.  Speaking of Philips Arena, kudos to Steve Koonin and his staff.  The arena is still top notch and with a $200m renovation underway the arena and the entertainment district around the venue will be spectacular.
  • I will not waste my time or keystrokes with my disdain for the judge in the Brock Turner rape case.  Loretta Lynch, mentioned earlier, please step in and rectify this situation.  Brock Turner, do something right for once and volunteer to educate high school and college age kids on the impact of abusing alcohol and how it impairs judgment.  Enough said.
  • Happy Labor Day weekend and for some positive vibes take a look at Barcelona’s under-12 team consoling their Japanese opponents after beating them 1-0.  Watch the Florida State football player sitting with a young student at lunch…a student with autism who usually eats lunch alone.  And for fun, watch Western Kentucky’s football team race out of the tunnel before yesterday’s game…really?

Adios and enjoy Sunday Funday!

 

 

 

On the Falcons. The Delay. Hope from our New Team. The WTF Factor. City of Angels.

The Falcons’ QB by week six.  A Fly on the Wall.  Why ATL United brings hope to a city of marginalized pro sports? Disrespect –  a.k.a. Kaepernick.

  • Even in Matt Ryan’s rookie season I noticed three things: 1) what QB coaches call happy feet 2) his inability to create space and time for himself 3) staring down his primary target.  I am not usually a naysayer and I clearly understand that a starting QB in the NFL brings talent and a skill set that I certainly appreciate.  With that said, since year one I have expressed to my friends and family that from a ranking and rating standpoint Ryan is middle of the pack at best.  Now in his prime years he really has not improved on any of my three concerns and in some aspects has regressed.  Is it age?  Is it the long term contract?  Is it Kyle Shanahan’s scheme?  Yes to all and there is one more dynamic that Ryan has not experienced that all players, no matter their past performance, have to deal with and that is COMPETITION.  Is this preseason different?  In some ways no except that Ryan’s backup, with Sean Renfree gone, is Matt Schaub.   Veteran, smart, knows KS’ system, and no less athletic than Ryan.   With all that said, look for Schaub to be the Falcons starter by week six.  Yes, Matt Schaub.  Maybe a home win with Tampa Bay, but negative results with the Raiders (away),  Saints (away), Carolina, Denver (away), Seattle (away) leads me to believe a 1-5 start.  New stadium, PSL’s and an owner who is aging gracefully but not getting any younger.  Enough said, Ryan will get benched.
  • Speaking of Mr. Blank, who I respect for his ability, for the most part, to keep his anguish with his team in-house.  I can only imagine the meeting Mr. Blank’s lieutenants had to decide on the PLAN.  No, not the draft plan and not the PSL dynamics, but the lucky individual who had to sit with Mr. Blank to not only explain the hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium change orders but more importantly the THREE month delay in opening his new digs.  I would have really enjoyed the tactics employed by the individual on how, where and when the news of the delay was given to Mr. Blank.   I am sure his response was ‘measured’ but obviously the money and the delays are one thing, but spending $90m +- on a new MLS franchise to now find out that there will be no pre-season international friendlies, no pre-season games, and no home games for the first 90 days of the inaugural season was clearly not the plan.  Just needed to be a fly on the wall for that meeting.  The only good news:  the average home dates for an MLS team in the first three months of a season….only 7-9 games so all is not lost.
  • The MLS and Atlanta.  Something smells really good about Atlanta United.  Very good.  Whether we are soccer fans or not, Mr. Blank is taking the high road with a true leader in Darren Eales and facilities that may be best in class.  Mr. Eales is very intelligent and soccer smart.  Considering his very young age, his CV is bordering on ridiculous.  Ivy league, college and professional playing experience, law degree and a very high level of Club management experience.  The stadium’s ability to scale for soccer is dynamic and the training ground and offices in Marietta, GA are unprecedented.  The millennials’ reaction to United’s targeted marketing approach has been overwhelming.  Season ticket pledges in the mid-20,000 range with no head coach and no high profile designated player.  When this happens their season ticket holders may fill the lower part of MB stadium.  The media, especially Doug Roberson, has done a great job framing up the startup of the Club.  Now, they need to put together a side that wins early and often.

                    Notewith complete transparency, I am a United season ticket holder and AJC beat writer Doug Roberson is a friend of mine and probably a top five soccer journalist in the country. 

  • I am born and raised American.  Very American.  So maybe my take on Colin Kaepernick is biased but I am having a very hard time correlating the issues with crime and race in this country and his refusal to honor our Flag and the national anthem.  While I am 100% for Americans enjoying our constitutional rights it seems hypocritical for an American athlete, paid as a professional by an American business, disrespecting the playing of our national anthem.  While I understand all Americans’ frustration with disparities in racial profiling, race relations, and inequities with income, his actions do not sit well with me.  Maybe one answer is for him to donate a large proportion of his salary and bonus to National Urban League and the NAACP and help them navigate and educate the broad section of Americans, including police officers, who don’t understand the social economics of our society, which in my opinion leads to bias and distrust within our communities.  I hope that some of his teammates, no matter their race, reached out to him to voice their disapproval with the choice he made the other night.
  • The NFL and LA.   A beautiful thing once again.

Adios and enjoy Sunday Funday.