Showing 1 - 10 of 328 posts found matching keyword: football

Clarke County, Georgia, home to a particular Classic City, has seen their overall number of COVID-19 cases double for three straight weeks. In their infinite wisdom, the Powers That Be at the University of Georgia have responded to that news... by deciding to allow tailgating at UGA football games. Ye gods.

In similar news closer to home, Newnan High School had to cancel a football game this past weekend because the team they were scheduled to play — from the next county over — came down with COVID-19 cases on their team. Newnan promises to refund all ticket sales. Eventually.

So far, no one I am aware of has died as a consequence of getting COVID at a football game, but football season has just started. If we get to December and that number is still zero, I'll be happy to say that I am a panicky little Chicken Little who has badly overreacted to some unprecedented circumstances.

In the meantime, the total COVID-19 death toll for the United States through the first eight months of 2020 stands just under 200k with that number expected to double by the end of the year. Rah, rah! Exponential growth.

Are you ready for some football?

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In the Before Times, tomorrow would have been the opening day of the Georgia football season (vs Virginia at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game).

That's not happening now. If Georgia does manage to have a football season, it won't start until September 26.

In honor of the COVID-19 modified 2020 season, I present my latest lawn ornament: On Ice.

40lbs is a lot of ice

Uga is always cool.

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Welcome to the 15th Annual Wriphe.com Batman and Football Month, now with 80% less football! Past Septembers have included travelogues of my adventures attending UGA football games in Athens, GA, (and occasionally elsewhere around the South), but there will be none of that this year. (Thanks COVID-19!)

I find I'm not excited about football this year. I mean, I haven't been excited about anything the Miami Dolphins have offered in decades, but college football is usually another story. My ennui is probably COVID's fault, too. What is there to get excited about when everything we've seen in the past six months points to a significant disruption in schedule? Do I really need entertainment so badly that I'm willing to watch football players get sick and die needlessly for the sake of a game?

The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mid-American, and Mountain West conferences have all decided that the risk to fans and players alike is too great to play football in 2020, but the SEC is pushing ahead despite already having the highest percentage of cases per population (31 per 100k) of any football region in the country. As I've already said, I won't be attending. "It Just Means More℠" makes a fine motto, but let's not get carried away.

Maybe I'm just a snowflake. Maybe everything will turn out fine. It might happen. Sh'yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

In the meantime, I'll be following the advice of a billionaire philanthropist who doesn't have a financial interest in selling me football tickets.

I live in a basement. That's like a Batcave. Kinda.
It's easier for him. His parents are dead.

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After weeks of discussion about how they could continue playing sports in the face of an unabated pandemic, the University of Georgia is now scheduled to play Auburn on October 3 in their first home football game of an unusual SEC-only season. Theoretically, I have a ticket. At least, I paid for one back in February.

While they have announced that all attendees will have to wear face coverings "over the nose and mouth" while entering, leaving, or moving through the stadium, the University has yet to announce any actual plan for dividing the 93,000 seat Sanford Stadium into socially distanced sections. There are about 58,000 season ticket holders and nearly 20,000 student tickets per game in a usual year. Obviously, the stadium will seat far, far fewer than that this year. I imagine that only the richest donors will get seats for all 5 games, but I can't imagine why they would want them.

(My bad. There are only to be 4 home games. What would be the 5th home game is the Florida/Georgia game, still scheduled to be played in Jacksonville.)

That first football game is still six weeks away. Since the start of this mess, there has been no six-week period with an overall decline in cases in America. Students have only this week returned to campus, so the inevitable explosion in COVID cases is still on the horizon. What will things look like that first October weekend? Based on recent history, it can't be anything good. In fact, Georgia Tech has just declared Georgia to be the state in the Union in which a person is most likely to be exposed to the virus. Whoo-hoo! Let's play some ball!

I get that the players want to play. As a fan, I want to watch. But just because we *want* football doesn't mean we're in a position to have it. If you're old enough and smart enough to go to college, you're old enough not to let your wants hurt you. If getting this pandemic under control, if ensuring that we break the chain of infections to protect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors means we have to stay in our homes (or dorms) and forego one football season, we should do that, even if we don't want to. Any other behavior is just irresponsible.

Go Dawgs. Go home. Football will still be there once we're all healthy enough to play it.

UPDATE 2020-08-19: I woke up this morning to find an email from UGA Athletics informing that I am to be granted the opportunity to attend 1 home game not of my choice. Alternately, I can opt-out of attending any games and either A) transfer my donation to help fund the skyrocketing costs of the university's attempts to play games during the ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic or B) be refunded my 2020 donations "before the end of the calendar year." I think you can guess which I chose.

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Tua Tagovailoa officially signed with the Dolphins on Monday, and now his number 1 jersey is the league's best selling. It's also the second best. For some reason, fans prefer the aqua away jersey over the white home jersey. I'm guessing that's because very, very few people actually watch the Dolphins when they play at home.

Dol-fans are understandably excited about the new prospect. Why shouldn't they be? He hasn't played a snap yet and he already has to be better than a dozen of the players who have actually lined up under center for the Fins since that aforementioned Marino guy, hallowed by thy name.

Amusing side note: Tua selected the number 1 because his college number, 13, has been retired by the Dolphins for Dan Marino, saints be praised. For the record, I happen to have two Marino jerseys in my closet, one home and one away.

A word of caution: this time last year, the best selling jersey belonged to Baker Mayfield. The year before that, it was Carson Wentz and before that, James Conner. Two of those three have injury issues, and the other is stuck on the perennially worst team in the NFL. In other words, Tua is joining a very questionable group whose performance has never lived up to the hype.

Which is not to say that I'm off the Tua bandwagon. I'm just advising we pump the brakes a little. The Dolphins didn't get to the bottom of the heap by being a great team. So there's still a ways to climb before they get the top of the heap. Win a Super Bowl, guys, and maybe then I'll think about buying some of your merchandise again. In all likelihood, it will be a third Dan Marino jersey, blessed be the fruit of thy loom.

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As a self-proclaimed Dolphins' fan (is there any other kind?), I feel compelled to note the passing of Don Shula, the greatest coach in franchise (and NFL) history.

Shula was still coaching the team when I first became a fan, and I think at the time, I sort of expected him to always be the coach, at least until he no longer could. He was only the second coach in franchise history, and he did go on to coach for 26 years. There have been 11 coaches in the 25 years since he retired, which sort of tells you everything you need to know about the state of the franchise.

Not only was he a great coach, he was a damn fine actor, too.


Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994)

COVID-19, murder hornets, and now Don Shula? Man, 2020 continues to find new ways to suck.

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The Miami Dolphins 2019 season can now be called a success.

Waaay back in January 2019, the Miami Herald reported that team owner Stephen Ross "really likes Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and that getting a high 2020 draft pick is the priority." After winning only 5 of 16 games, the team selected Tua Tagovailoa as the 5th pick in last night's 2020 NFL Draft! Amazing!

Whether or not Tua will translate into actual wins on the NFL gridiron remains to be seen, but I'm not worried. If the Dolphins still suck at actual football in 2020, I'm sure Mr. Ross can find some other way to redefine success.

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I've been wondering how I will remember these dark days when we come out the other side. Travel restrictions, face masks, food shortages.... Frankly, we probably should have experienced it before now. America has been continuously at war with someone or other since 2001, and the public hasn't experienced any hardships like what happened in previous wars. Would we still be in Afghanistan if Americans had to share rolls of toilet paper in 2002?

Waaaaay back in the first week of March, when it became clear to everyone that this Covid-19 thing was going to be a real problem for neo-isolationist America, I rather naively believed that if everyone hunkered down, it would all blow over within two months. What a sucker I was for assuming everyone in the country was taking the plague very, very seriously. Like, prison solitary confinement seriously. However, I failed to take into account that no one can tell an American that they can't enjoy a Big Mac while test-firing their AR-15 inside the church of their choice. 'Merica!

It's now quite obvious that this thing isn't going to be over any time soon. I'm no president, but even I recognize that we can't start to relax restrictions until we know actually who has and who can spread the disease. Two months in, we've managed to test less than one percent of the country. At the current pace, it will take another sixteen years to test the rest. That speed will inevitably accelerate, but by any metric, we're still many months away from where we need to be for resuming what used to pass as "business as usual."

Personally, I'm still terrified that I'll catch the disease and give it to my family. Last month, I broke my piggy bank to renew my UGA football season tickets, but I cannot imagine that I'd attend any of those games if something doesn't drastically change in the next five months. Given the pace of progress, I'm beginning to suspect those games won't be played at all, at least not with fans in the stadium. I don't know what I'll do without football — specifically college football, that is. If the NFL doesn't play this fall, it may be a good excuse for me to give it up. It's not like the Dolphins have been all that entertaining over the past two decades.

I don't have much of a reputation for "staying positive," but I'm trying. Fewer cars on the road will help with global warming. Families will have time together they otherwise never would have experienced. People can explore new hobbies. For example, I'm now delivering what groceries I can find to my father, who is spending his time writing Trump fan fiction. Such is life in 2020.

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The NFL gave out its season senior superlatives "honors" the night before the championship game. The Miami Dolphins won the coveted Bridgestone Cluch Performance Play of the Year... for a trick play touchdown in the second quarter of a game against the Eagles that would see the two teams combine for forty-one more points after the "clutch" play. Hrm. It feels like a participation award. Thanks, Bridgestone.

But that wasn't the only trophy to go to someone still on the Dolphins' payroll. The award for the nebulously defined "comeback player" of the year went to Ryan Tannehill (who accounted for $18 million against the Dolphins salary cap despite not playing a single down for the team).

In 1972, Miami Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for playing an integral role in leading the Dolphins' to the NFL's only undefeated season. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Morrall had been discarded by the Baltimore Colts who preferred instead to give 38-year-old Johnny Unitas yet another chance.

In 1994, Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for passing for 30 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards on the way to a 10-win season. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Marino had torn his Achilles tendon in the fifth week and ruined what was projected to be a division-winning season.

In 2008, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for surviving an 11-win season without suffering further injury. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Pennington had played in only nine games for the New York Jets, losing the eight of them that were not against the Miami Dolphins.

In 2019, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for coming off the bench mid-season to ultimately lead his team to the AFC Championship game. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Tannehill had been a Miami Dolphin.

Congrats to Tannehill for successfully getting out of the talent-sucking tar pit. And thanks to Friend Randy for passing along news that Tannehill was finally a winner. I'm sure he wasn't gloating. (Randy's a Dallas fan.)

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I haven't mentioned the Miami Dolphins in over two months and for good reason. They're bad. They're even bad at being bad. Their best achievement in 2019 was having Dan Marino named as one of the 10 greatest quarterbacks of the past century. Too bad Marino retired 20 years ago. The team hasn't had a consistently decent quarterback since.

To solve that problem, the team started the 2019 season with the intention of losing more than anyone has ever lost before to secure the first pick in the 2020 draft. They ultimately finished fifth in the race to be worst, meaning they won't get the best available quarterback. They might not even get the second, third, or fourth.

The best option, according to just about everyone, is Joe Burrow, whose LSU team mastered the art of having offensive linemen get away without being called for holding. He is followed in some order by Justin Herbert, Jacob Eason, and Jake Fromm. Two of them are/were Georgia Bulldogs, so I'd be fine cheering for them as Dolphins. On the other hand, Herbert is slow to make decisions, but is a nearly seven-foot-tall giant. Given that NFL scouts are size queens and Herbert is the one I like least, I figure he's the one most likely to be the Dolphins' eventual pick.

If there's any good news for the Dolphins, it's that their original target QB, Tua Tagovailoa, has fallen from his early projections and should still be available at five. (Maybe even at twenty.) Why? Because he's fragile. Would the team that famously passed on Drew Brees' wounded wing draft a player who's the real-life equivalent of a mid-80s G.I.Joe figure with a busted rubber band? We'll see.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins' last quarterback project, Ryan Tannehill, refuses to lose with his new team. Two games into the playoffs, two wins. That's two more than Ryan won in seven years with the Dolphins. Given that the Dolphins are still paying Tannehill against his last contract, they deserve at least some credit for those wins, right?

It remains possible, maybe even likely, that last year's starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick will return under center in 2020. In 2019, playing for his 8th team, Fitzpatrick became the oldest player (37) to lead his team in rushing yards (243) and rushing touchdowns (4) in a season, which implies that the Dolphins running game might be a bigger problem than whoever they've got under center. (Tannehill, for example, is now winning largely thanks to the legs of Derrick Henry.) I won't be surprised if the team decides to try losing another year's worth of games to address that problem in 2021.

Go 'Fins!

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To be continued...

 

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