Feeding South Florida One Football Player at a Time

“They” say if you do what you love for a living then you will never work a day in your life. Although I feel humbled and fortunate on a daily basis by the work that I do, I have an extra bounce in my step when I’m able to see two of my loves come together: football and helping people.

Little Miss Football works at one of the largest food banks in the state, serving 4 S. FL Counties, approximately 550 partners, and reaching almost 1 million people who don’t know from where or when they will get their next meal. We provided over 30 million pounds of food and grocery products in the last year, through a variety of programs, including our Mobile Food Pantry.

Through this program, we were fortunate enough to have been included in James Lee’s Annual Muck City Fest, a one-day football camp and city event that provides resources to the community, with a focus on kids. Muck City Fest provided games, books, prepared food, gift bags, and most importantly, inspiration and a positive example for the kids of Belle Glade. As part of James Lee event, the food bank brought 20,000 lbs of fresh produce and toys to families in need, who otherwise don’t typically have access to such items.

In addition to having the honor of serving the community, perhaps the highlight of the weekend was having the chance to meet some of the NFL Players who flew into town for the sole purpose of supporting the football camp and providing support to the kids. However, meeting the players wasn’t a highlight because I have an affinity for the NFL; it was the highlight because it provided the opportunity to discuss their community involvement and hear directly from them why they do what they do.

Turns out, community service and all the charity work the NFL does, isn’t required; most players do what they do for the community because they want to, and recruit their teammates to help them support each others causes. Sure NFL teams have Community Relations staff in the front office, and sure NFL teams have Marketing teams working on public appearances, but these events are from the individual hearts of players. In between the off-season, training camps, OTAs, and preseason, the players are spending their coveted off-days traveling to support each others communities, provide leadership to kids, and offer inspiration for new generations of kids who see the opportunity to grow, become successful, and learn the importance of giving back.

Some see sports as entertainment, fantasy teams, and trash-talking. In addition to entertainment, others see sports as a vehicle to help accomplish something bigger. The best part? Players see it as both; they see it as a job, but also a responsibility to use their talents off the field. As a result of James Lee’s philanthropy, his former and current teammates were inspired to have a food distribution at their own football camps and city events. EJ Biggers will be hosting a football camp on July 21st and has asked the food bank to do a food distribution for the city of North Miami Beach. http://starsoftomorrowfoundation.org/hangout-day.html

Each Thanksgiving, the Miami Dolphins (and other teams around the country) support the food bank through a turkey distribution with the support of Publix. Players not only provide turkeys, sides, desserts, and beverages for almost 1,000 families, but they also sign autographs, have their mascot and cheerleaders on site, and create a special memory for those who may not otherwise have the ability to get to the stadium and pay for a game.

As the 2012 NFL season prepares to start soon, it’s amazing to see that players always have the community on their minds and in their hearts- not just during the regular season. Through these distribution events, and players recruiting their friends to help them serve their hometown communities, it is my sincere hope that with each football player who participates in these events, another distribution opportunity is created, thereby feeding south Florida one person at a time.

Where will Peyton Manning Play Hero Next?

You would think I would have posted something after the NYG Super Bowl win, but with almost too much to say, I’m still waiting to compile my thoughts. However, it’s the “other” Manning that has me talking today.

Watching Peyton Manning’s press conference yesterday was almost unbearable. To me, anticipating Peyton in another jersey, for some reason, is weirder than Favre, McNabb, Hines Ward, etc. Not only has Peyton done incredible things for the NFL in Indy, and with class, he has also done wonderful things for the city. The following post is about where, in my humble, armchair analyst opinion, I think Peyton will bring his talents next.

Although there has been discussion about almost every team and the viability of Peyton playing for them, I am only addressing a handful or so that are seemingly the most realistic, or the least silly of them all. My thought process is based on the following factors: strength of team (including coaches and ability to win big games), weather, input level, and opponents in the division.

Arizona Cardinals
I think this is the first possibility. It’s a climate-controlled environment, which is obviously Peyton’s NFL career experience. Of the available options, they seemingly have the strongest team regarding room for improvement with a great QB at the helm. I have no doubt that Whisenhut would move Kolb to the rear (or get rid of him) for number 18.  Fitz, Beanie, and add some former Colts? Makes sense. Plus, if Peyton is willing to play in the NFC, it’s one of the fewer adversarial teams to his lil’ brother.

Houston Texans
Not sure how viable an option this is. I see the biggest wild card as whether or not they are ready to give up on Schaub. But, with Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and a respected coach like Kubiak, it could be attractive to Peyton. Plus, he might want to go head to head with Indy…or not.

Seattle Seahawks
I can see all the reasons in the world why the Seahawks would want him, especially to battle the surging 49ers. However, I can’t see why this would be at all attractive to Peyton. Sure they have the cap space but I’m not sure people believe the offense is an explosive as “experts” say it is. They’ve got Marshawn Lynch and in my opinion, that’s about it. And really, who wants to play in the rain all the time? Enough said.

Washington Redskins
Peyton won’t play in the same division as Eli. Period. The coach isn’t the best (despite what he thinks), the players aren’t the best, and the weather isn’t the best. And forget Eli for a minute, the NFC East is way too tricky and unpredictable to have an immediate impact creating a stand-out team, which is what most people believe Peyton wants to do.

Kansas City Chiefs
A franchised WR, a healthy RB returning to the roster, and a ho-hum division could make this attractive to Peyton. Behind the Cards and Dolphins, I see this as viable choice number three.

Miami Dolphins
My personal preference and also my number two of  strongest possibilities. Miami’s warm weather and need of a hero makes the city attractive. There’s no doubt that getting Fish fans to fill seats is more difficult than trying to herd cats. If Miami is willing to pay for other Colts, and if Reggie Bush, Brandon Marshall and Anthony Fasano have another good year (that was with Moore, imagine what they could do with Peyton?) that just might be enough reason for fans to matriculate down to Sun Life Stadium. As a business man, this would have to make sense to Stephen Ross.

Of course, in this division, there’s the Brady factor. And Peyton’s feelings on the matter is not something about which anyone can pretend to know.  As a fan, it’s my hope that he would want to go head-to-head with him twice a year, take care of it there, and then not have to worry about it in the playoffs. But, he could very well just want to deal with Brady only if and when necessary. Another potentially attractive aspect of the team is the newness of the coaching staff. While some believe this would be a deterrent for Peyton, I think it would allow him the most flexibility and room for input and control over how he wants to run things…it’s no secret Peyton likes to do that.

On the personal note, working in a community that’s assisted by the Miami Dolphins in a number of ways, I would love to see an increase in the team’s success. And, let’s be honest, I’m not a Rex Ryan fan (but I don’t mind the Jets). So to the extent that Brady and Manning would dominate the AFC East, I wouldn’t mind…much to the disappointment of my Jets-loving husband. Sorry, Sweetheart.

New York Jets
I don’t see this one happening either, and it has nothing to do with not wanting to share a city with Eli. It has everything to do with the fact that I can’t see Peyton playing for someone like Rex. Although his background is defense, thereby giving Peyton a lot of input on offense, I’m not sure Peyton is into the locker room dynamics of that team. Plus, haven’t they publicly heralded their franchise QB, Sanchez? They’ve gone to two AFC Championship games without Peyton, so what’s next- needing a new QB to cash the Super Bowl check they’ve written for three years in a row? Everyone knows they should invest in a new QB, but it won’t be Peyton, and it won’t be this year.

 

WEEK 5 Picks: 2011-2012

Ten correct last week. I’m very excited for this week’s Jets/Pats game, as is most of the country.  As much as I think the Pats will win, I do think the Jets will improve this week, not only because they have to, but because Mangold is back as well. This week’s picks are:

Tennessee at Pittsburgh- Titans
Seattle at NY Giants- NO PICK
Cincinnati at Jacksonville- Jags
New Orleans at Carolina- Saints
Oakland at Houston- Raiders
Philadelphia at Buffalo- Eagles
Kansas City at Indianapolis- Chiefs
Arizona at Minnesota- Cards
Tampa Bay at San Francisco- 49ers
NY Jets at New England- Pats
San Diego at Denver- Chargers
Green Bay at Atlanta- Pack
Chicago at Detroit- Lions

 

 

WEEK 4 PICKS: 2011-2012

Ouch. A little worse than last week with only 9 games predicted correctly. This week’s picks are:

Detroit at Dallas- Dallas
Carolina at Chicago- Bears
Buffalo at Cincinnati- Bills
Tennessee at Cleveland- Titans
Minnesota at Kansas City- Vikes
Washington at St. Louis- Skins
New Orleans at Jacksonville- Saints
Pittsburgh at Houston- Steelers
San Francisco at Philadelphia- Eagles
NY Giants at Arizona- NO PICK
Atlanta at Seattle- Falcons
Miami at San Diego- Chargers
New England at Oakland- Pats
Denver at Green Bay- Pack
NY Jets at Baltimore- Ravens
Indianapolis at Tampa Bay- Bucs

WEEK 3 PICKS: 2011-2012

Not bad, 10 picks correct last week! If I’m really honest, I should have known the Texans would win but living in S. Fl., I had to hope the Dolphins would pull one out against them. And, I guess I should I have known that the Pats would beat the Chargers at home.

Regardless, let’s see what I can predict in Week 3. Speaking of honesty, I have to admit I am terrified of the Giants/Eagles game. As much as the Giants want to win this one since they haven’t won the past 6 against the Eagles, and the Giants blew their lead and gave up a million points the last time they played each other, I am fearful that there are just too many GIANT injuries and too many Eagles circling for Giant blood for the Giants to even hold their own. As much as I will never officially make a pick regarding the Giants, I do at least hope they can stay in the game this weekend. On that note, this weeks picks are as follows:

Houston at New Orleans- Saints
NY Giants at Philadelphia- NO PICK
Jacksonville at Carolina- Jags (should be a good game- battle of the rookie QBs)
New England at Buffalo – Patriots
Miami at Cleveland- Miami
San Francisco at Cincinnati- Bengals
Denver at Tennessee- Titans
Detroit at Minnesota- Lions
Baltimore at St. Louis- Ravens
NY Jets at Oakland- Jets
Kansas City at San Diego- Chargers
Arizona at Seattle- Seahawks
Atlanta at Tampa Bay- Falcons
Green Bay at Chicago- Packers
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis- Steelers
Washington at Dallas- Cowboys (my game of the week)

 

WEEK 2 PICKS: 2011-2012

Same as last year, I don’t like to make predictions on the Giants games. And especially this year, when I’m not so sure I think they will win, I will refrain from making predictions about Big Blue. With that in mind, here are my predictions for  week 2:

Kansas City at Detroit- Lions
Oakland at Buffalo- Bills
Tampa Bay at Minnesota- Vikes
Chicago at New Orleans- Saints
Baltimore at Tennessee- Ravens
Cleveland at Indianapolis- Browns
Jacksonville at NY Jets- Jets
Seattle at Pittsburgh- Steelers
Arizona at Washington- Skins
Green Bay at Carolina- Pack
Dallas at San Francisco- Cowboys
San Diego at New England- Chargers
Houston at Miami- Dolphins
Cincinnati at Denver- Broncos
Philadelphia at Atlanta- Eagles
St. Louis at NY Giants- NO PICK

Who knew Plaxico would soften my perception of Vick?

The Roger Goodell NFL likes to enforce the idea that they have classy, law-abiding, elite athletes, who as part of the elite organization that is the NFL, act with a high level of decorum; players are punished when they break the actual law, the organization’s law, when they Tweet something they shouldn’t, when they hit a player too hard, etc. And despite this high level of decorum with which everyone should act, the Roger Goodell NFL also likes to believe that ex-felons are rehabilitated and can therefore abide by the rules. And while this blog could quickly take an ugly turn towards debating the American prison system’s claim to rehabilitate, this is about Plaxico Burress.

This is about the fact that although Plaxico may or may not have had valid complaints about Tom Coughlin, his actions and comments make it obvious the “man” has no sense of personal responsibility, is an angry person, and anything he has to say shouldn’t be taken seriously. To be clear, I am not one of those Giants fans who loved Plaxico all along, calls him a hero for winning the 2008 SB, wanted him back on the team, and is now mad at him. Yes, I acknowledge he helped win the 2008 SB for the Gmen, and yes, I acknowledge he is a talented player, but since day one, with the departure of Ike Hilliard for Plax, I was apprehensive about how his off-field shenanigans would affect the team.

Throughout his career, Plaxico had a cavalier attitude towards any semblance of rules and regulations, played out by a series of outstanding traffic tickets in Florida, domestic disputes, and civil law suits, all culminating with a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the leg. Before prison, all you heard was that NY is making an example out of him, he didn’t hurt anyone else, he was being treated unfairly for who he was, etc.

It’s interesting to me that Plaxico feels that way because it seems that America loves a comeback story- a ridiculously talented and cocky athlete who had issues with authority, didn’t think rules applied to him, was caught breaking the law, serves his time in prison, apologizes, and dedicates his “new life” to repaying those he hurt. America’s sports fans want to believe that if someone is sorry (and all of a sudden no longer has a fundamental desire to kill dogs) and pays their penance, they should be forgiven.  But, when someone does all of the above, except apologize and pay penance to those he hurt, people aren’t so forgiving.

Some highlights of Plaxico’s recent comments:

“I’m like, forget support — how about some concern?” Burress said. “I did just have a bullet in my leg. And then I sat in his office, and he pushed back his chair and goes, ‘I’m glad you didn’t kill anybody!’ Man, we’re paid too much to be treated like kids. He doesn’t realize that we’re grown men and actually have kids of our own.” He also told the magazine that Coughlin is “not a real positive coach.” (CBS Sports)

If this isn’t anything but a whiny, self-entitled, mad-at-the-world-rant from a man-child, then I don’t know what is. He is mad at Coughlin for treating him like a child? Then don’t act like one! What adult, what MAN, shoots HIMSELF in the leg, then gets mad that his boss is glad no one else was hurt? YOU DID IT TO YOURSELF! No one shot you, no one forced you to bring an illegal weapon (in NY) into the nightclub, and no one forced you to go out to a place where you felt you needed to pack heat for protection in the first place.

Then, to make things even better, he expresses his anger with Eli Manning for not being more supportive of him and coming to visit while in prison. “I was always his biggest supporter, even days he wasn’t on, ’cause I could sense he didn’t have thick skin,” Burress said. “Then I went away, and I thought he would come see me, but nothing, not a letter, in two years. I don’t want to say it was a slap in the face, but I thought our relationship was better than that.”(CBS Sports)

So not only does he want his coach to feel nothing but sorrow for him, but he is upset one of the league’s top QBs (after the SB win), who still plays in NY and has a squeaky-clean Manning family image, isn’t visiting him in prison? It wasn’t bad enough he took down Pierce with him that night, it wasn’t bad enough he left Eli without a go to WR, but now, he wants sympathy from more of the team?

My angry point is that Plaxico’s “misfortune” was all brought on by himself. To all the Giants fans who wanted Plax back, be thankful he is gone. Be thankful he wants to play for Rex Ryan who, “…when their player makes a mistake, they take ‘em to the side and say, ‘We’ll get ‘em next time…’” Does Plaxico not understand that he didn’t just bungle a route or have an incomplete pass where Coach could say, “shake it off”?

It’s one thing to come out of prison and say, “I really messed up, I really made a mistake, and I really want to change and show everyone I’m different.” the way Michael Vick did (forget whether or not I agree he really is a changed man, that is an entirely different topic and based on my previous comment, I am sure you can figure out my stance). It’s another thing for a player to leave prison and say,”I was a human pincushion; they were like, ‘Yeah, we finally got you, mother——’” he said. “On the cover of the New York Post, it said ‘GIANT IDIOT!’ and I’m thinking, ‘Damn, I went and gave ‘em what they wanted. I’m just another gun-toting, famous black athlete.’ ” (ESPN.com)

The article goes on to say that, “While in prison, Burress started to realize that he wasn’t just a victim, that he had chosen to take the gun into the club and…had to do things differently.” Yet his next quote (to the fans) is, “What are you doing now?…You still mad at your job? You still angry about your life? ‘Cause I’m back living my life and enjoying my family while you’re still doing the same thing… people who can’t forgive me should look in a mirror because what, they never made a mistake?”

So back to Vick- he came out of prison and basically said (through his actions), “You know what, I was the example athlete who came from a certain culture where dog-fighting is OK and I want to change that for other people so they see I made a mistake.” Whether court-mandated or not, he contributes towards the prevention of animal cruelty, has become a serious leader who studies the playbook, and is seemingly humbled in all of his interviews.

So you know what, Plaxico? You are right. You are back living your life, doing the exact same thing you did before-pointing fingers, blaming everyone else for your own actions, sounding like an angry child who has no concept of the correlation between actions and consequences. You are not taking it upon yourself to be the poster child for anti-gun violence or gun safety, you are not doing anything differently than before.

I’m not sure if it’s that Vick has a better PR rep than Plaxico, but I never thought I’d be so angry with another player’s attitude, that I’d use Vick as an example of “how to come out of prison and look like a winner”.

Saying something about having nothing to say…

… so I guess I finally decided to break my obvious silence since last season. I don’t even have a wedding as an excuse for lack of blogging activity. In fact, I have my love of the game to blame. After recently speaking with several friends who inquired as to whether or not I’d blog anytime soon, it seemed my reasoning for not blogging (“I’m so frustrated I have nothing to say”) was fodder for a suggested post.

Throughout the off season and CBA process, I swore my love of the game was so steadfast I was on the side of the players, thought the owners were being greedy, and just wanted everyone to reach an agreement so we could get on with a season. However, it seems that although the season has resumed, something (for me) is missing. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve become disheartened with most of my team’s personnel choices, but I think my lack of enthusiasm comes from the fact that I feel as though we just saw millionaires fighting with billionaires and the only losers were the fans- people who the NFL says they care about most.

While some teams and players took the initiative to organize practices and team meetings independently, it appears as though messy preseason games, injuries, and questionable personnel decisions are chalked up to the CBA. I mean, what really has changed other than forcing what appears to be mandatory touchbacks? Roger Goodell still has way too much power, nothing effective was put into place to preserve player health (arbitrary fines don’t count), and everyone seems to have an excuse for poor performance.

And when “they” say that behind every pessimist is a disappointed optimist, I might have to agree. It’s fair to say my disenchantment with NFL football comes from idealistic expectations. While it’s a job for the players and front office staff, it’s an outlet for fans. For three hours each game, I am distracted, my mind is off the real world, I get lost in the game, and get wrapped up in the anticipation of what coach will do next. Now, I feel as though I watch and all I can think about is player salary, free agency, trades, injuries, whining, complaining, Roger Goodell, silly rules- anything but the actual game.

Maybe I myself am whining and using the CBA as an excuse. But in my defense, I am trying to get over it and get my head back in the game. I thought perhaps blogging about my frustrations might increase that possibility. For now, it doesn’t seem to have helped and I am still in my football funk. But, if nothing else, it seems as though having nothing to say is saying something after all…

Week 14: Picks

Week 13 was a success with 13/16 correct predictions! This week’s picks are:

Colts, Bills, Steelers, Pack, Giants, Bucs, Falcons, Raiders, Seahawks, Saints, Jets, Cards, Chiefs, Pats, Eagles, Ravens

Games of the Week: Colts/Titans probably means the most as far as division games (Yes the Jets/Fish and Chiefs/Chargers play too) and a must win for the Colts but as far as excitement, the Eagles/Cowboys NFC East games always make for a good show as well as the Bears/Pats since both teams are doing well.

Yes, I love football that much…

So I mentioned taking some time off to get married. To show just how much I love football, I thought I’d share some wedding and engagement photos. (All photos are courtesy of NEOART Photography).

Wedding cake topper
Football maracas and sunglasses!
Guests could pick blue or green for Giants or Jets
Of course a grand entrance wouldn’t be complete without football hats
The image speaks for itself
Notice the pipe cleaner ring in NY Giants colors. This was the first ring with which he proposed. So I guess we can coexist…
…and then I was dumped into the ocean!