Hello, I’m David AWOL Steinle

SEVENTEEN DAYS since I last posted to Foots Prints? Unacceptable. If you have been waiting for me to post (you know who you are, wink wink), I am sorry. I am not attempting to hide anything. It’s just I’ve been bone lazy.

Not sleeping properly has been a huge issue. Since my return from Kansas City Jan. 29, I have not been in a regular sleep routine. I’ve stayed up through the night on Sundays and Mondays the last two weeks to make sure my work is done. In turn, on days when I don’t have work to do, all I want to do is sleep.

My laundry is piling up, but since I’ve hardly left the house the last two weeks, it isn’t as bad as it could be. I have not been showering regularly, and the basement at 1224 North Brooks, Russell, Kansas is starting to stink.

The lack of sleep left me so confused last week that when High Plains Mental Health called me for a last-minute appointment with Crista, I forgot what day it was. When Janelle told me 10 am tomorrow, I thought the day was Wednesday and I wouldn’t have time to go. Fortunately, the appointment was for 10 am Wednesday and it was only Tuesday.

I missed my trip to Norton last Friday because of my horrendous sleep habits. I was feeling so awful Friday morning, battling sleep deprivation and heartburn, that when I woke up for a few minutes, I went right back to bed. By time I got up for good, it was already 1600. Another wasted day.

I’m groggy as hell this morning. I’m killing time in Hays between appointments. Got the car serviced, now waiting for another doctor’s appointment.

A lot has gone on since my last post. I won’t bore you with regurgitating some of what’ happened, but here are my thoughts:

Super Bowl LIII–I watched the second half. I did not watch the first half. I should have just kept not watching.

My interest was piqued when I read the push notification from CBS Sports that the halftime score was 3-0 Patriots. So I turned over just out of curiosity.

It only served to anger me even more. I strongly dislike Brady and Belichick, and of course the Rams should not have been in the Super Bowl in the first place. The Saints would have given New England a far better game. Whether Brees and Payton would have taken the Lombardi trophy back to New Orleans, I don’t know.

God, the Rams were pathetic. First team in 47 years not to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl and only the second ever. The other was the 1971 Dolphins, who were throttled by the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. At least in that one, Dallas was heavily favored and Miami wasn’t known for an offense which could crank out yards and points at a breakneck pace.

Jared Goff looked a lot like a couple of other California quarterbacks have in a Super Bowl, Joe Kapp (1969 Vikings) and Craig Morton (1970 Cowboys and 1977 Broncos). Sean McVay barely using Todd Gurley also was perplexing.

Of course, the nauseating talk of Brady being the greatest of all time ramped up as soon as it became obvious the Patriots would win. Yes, Brady has won more championships than any other quarterback in professional football. That is an empirical fact. I cannot deny it because it is true and proven.

To call Brady the greatest ever? Come on. Would Brady have fared so well when Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Stabauch and Bob Griese were in their heydays? HELL NO. Before 1978, receivers could be hit all over the field, as long as it was from the front or side, and it came before the ball was in the air. Pass blockers had to keep their arms close to their chest, because they could not use their hands, nor could they extend their arms.

Brady is fortunate he is playing in an era where quarterbacks are treated more delicately than the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Would he have succeeded 40 to 50 years ago? Can’t say. However, I’m certain Unitas would have lit it up if he could have payed under Brady’s rules.

Six days after Super Bowl LIII mercifully ended, a new football league kicked off.

It’s called the Alliance of American Football. It has eight teams which will play 10 regular season games between now and mid-April, then hold a two-week playoff to determine the champion.

There are no kickoffs in the AAF. The team which was scored upon starts a new possession at its own 25-yard line. The only way the team which scored can keep the ball is by converting a 4th and 12 from its own 28, and the opportunities for those are extremely limited. The only times a team may attempt the “onside kick” play are (a) if it trails by 17 or more, or (b) if a team is behind with less than five minutes remaining.

In other words, Sean Payton wouldn’t like this one bit. Remember, the Saints successfully attempted an onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV, and that turned the tide in New Orleans’ favor vs. Peyton Manning’s Colts.

The AAF also does not allow blitzing. A maximum of five players can rush the passer, meaning offenses do not have to keep in backs and/or tight ends to block if they so choose. The idea is not to make the games so low-scoring and dull that it drives off fans. I like low-scoring games, but I’m in the minute minority on that one.

It’s easy to see the level of football in the AAF is below that of the NFL. However, if the league sticks to its idea of being a developmental league and doesn’t try to become an equal to the NFL like the first XFL, USFL and World Football League did, it can find a niche in the American sports scene.

The Milwaukee Bucks have the NBA’s best record at the All-Star break for the first time since 1974. Holy crap. The Bucks? The team Adam Silver wanted to move out of Milwaukee if Wisconsin didn’t build a new arena? In case you don’t know, the Bucks’ starting lineup in 1974 included Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabber. I hear they were pretty good.

The Maple Leafs are trying to plug along without Auston Matthews, and with a leaky defense. Here’s hoping they can turn it on come April. I’m nauseated by the thought of a Tampa Bay-Nashville final.

LSU’s men’s basketball team won in Lexington Tuesday. The Bayou Bengals are alive and well under second year coach Will Wade, who wasn’t born when LSU went 17-1 in the SEC and 31-5 overall in 1980-81. That year, LSU made the Final Four, only to get stomped by Indiana and Isaiah Thomas.

It would be lovely for LSU to come to Kansas City for the Midwest Regional in late March and lay it on a certain team from Lawrence. Or the one from Manhattan. Knowing my luck, LSU will be put in the west.

The designated hitter is coming to the National League. It’s only a matter of time. I am angry as hell. I’ll save that for later.

The United States of America is screwed. Royally screwed. When you’ve got ideological demagogues like Trump, Steve King, Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ihlan Omar getting elected, not to mention Maxine Waters spending three decades in the House, it tells you something is totally F***ED up.

Edwin Edwards was corrupt during his four terms as Governor of Louisiana, but he wasn’t a hate monger and he wasn’t incompetent. I’d vote for him over any of the other jackasses we have now.

That’s all for now.

Wronged again

Last night almost ended disastrously for me.

Driving back to my hotel at 2100, an SUV barreled down Ambassador towards Cookingham in the wrong direction, driving northbound in a southbound lane. It was just after I turned right from Cookingham onto Ambassador when I exited Interstate 29 near Kansas City International Airport.

Needless to say, it scared the bejesus out of me. I was in the other lane, so my car and my body are fine.

Had I not been in the other lane, I would have been able to take the driver to the cleaners financially (provided I survived), since he or she would have been 100 percent wrong for driving the wrong way. While I may have been able to bleed that person dry, I’m certain I would either be (a) dead or (b) paralyzed.

Believe me, it ended up better this way.

I am beyond dumbfounded by drivers who cannot follow a directional sign. To have this happen on back to back days in the same city on the same street less than five kilometers (three miles) apart is unfathomable.

I wasn’t the only witness to this driving stupidity.

I was behind a Platte County Sheriff’s SUV. Once the errant vehicle passed, the sheriff’s vehicle U-turned and turned right onto Cookingham. Here’s hoping the idiot was caught and thrown in jail. Even if he or she was not drunk, driving the wrong way down the street is not something an officer will just give you a ticket and let you go. But I’m certain he or she was wasted pretty good.

I hope this jerk enjoys the consequences of his or her sheer idiocy.

Oops I lost my concentration playing trivia. I’m at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek (Liberty), where I met Robb for a few games. This is it for trivia this trip, because I have work to do tomorrow, then I’m getting out of town Tuesday. I was originally staying until Wednesday, but it will be brutally cold Wednesday, so cold I don’t know if my car would start. Therefore, it’s best to skip town early.

The Pro Bowl is today. The AFC leads 17-0 late in the first half. I’m certain Kansas City will have the highest television ratings for the game since Patrick Mahoney is the AFC’s starting quarterback. I don’t care about the NFL right now, and I certainly don’t care about the Pro Bowl.

The Patriots had 35,000 fans show up at a rally in Foxborough prior to their departure for Atlanta and Super Bowl LIII. I’m betting there aren’t 35,000 Patriots fans outside the six New England states. If there are, they probably love Brady and will jump off the New England bandwagon once he retires, much the same way the NBA’s Heat and Cavaliers have lost fans because LeBron no longer plays for those teams. It was the same way when Michael Jordan played for the Bulls.

Next Sunday, I might be in bed by 1800. No way I’m watching the Super Bowl. None. .Sounds sacrilegious, but right now, I have no desire to watch a game matching a team which doesn’t belong (Rams) and a team I am sick and tired of seeing, and even more sick and tired of seeing their douchebag coach (Belichick), douchebag quarterback (Brady), douchebag tight end (Gronk) and douchebag receiver (Edelman).

If I do stay up late next Sunday, at least I have work to do and lots of movies to watch to bide my time.

Driving dangerously

Two incidents driving today in Kansas City, north–as opposed to North Kansas City–made me shudder.

The first, at 0925, came on Interstate 35 south when a white Ford F-150 pickup, Kansas license plate 337 LMX, was driving 55 MPH (89 km/h). Normally, that would not be a cause for concern in an urban area, but (a) he was doing 55 in the LEFT lane and (b) he was doing 10 MPH (17 km/h) UNDER the posted speed limit. I honked and flashed my high beams, but this driver refused to get over. This went on for three miles before I said enough was enough and got over to get around him.

The left lane on a controlled-access highway with two lanes in each direction is for passing. There are signs in every state in which I’ve driven which state explicitly “SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT” and/or “LEFT LANE FOR PASSING ONLY”. This person thought differently and claimed the left lane like he owned it.

Those drivers are a catastrophe waiting to happen, and not necessarily for themselves, but for the other drivers who are doing the speed limit in the right lane and trying to keep traffic moving. People who drive slow in the left lane do not need to be on the road. They are deadly.

Speaking of deadly, a driver’s worst nightmare came up at 1545.

Driving south on Ambassador Drive between 112th Street and Tiffany Springs Parkway, I noticed a large white Ford Expedition from Iowa driving the wrong way in the left lane.

Lucky for me, nobody was on my right, so I could quickly change lanes.

The Iowan did not see ONE WAY signs in the median on Ambassador. Wow.

Today highlighted why driving defensively is the only way to go. I haven’t been in an accident with another vehicle since I lived in Louisiana, and I would like to keep it that way.

Between road incidents, I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa to see if Larry were there, like he usually is on Friday. I snuck into the restroom and played trivia in the stall. He wasn’t there, and he texted me he was at the BWW at Shoal Creek (Liberty). I sped there (I’ll admit, I did over the speed limit, but slowed down when it got congested) to meet him. Hadn’t been to that BWW in over a year. Glad I got to see him.

It’s warmed up some in Kansas City. But another cold front is coming. Those who forecasted a colder than normal winter are turning up prophetic. I like it colder. Just as long as I can drive and not slip on ice.

Phew, yuck, brrr!

One scare and one lesson learned yesterday.

The scare: I thought I forgot the AC adapter for my CPAP machine back in Russell. The dread hit me just after the Brookville exit on Interstate 70, 13 miles west of Salina. I decided I would stop in Salina and if it weren’t there, I’d either have to drive back to Russell or just go without it.

Fortunately, it was there. It hit me at Interstate 135 that when I checked the top of my chest next to my bed, there was nothing on top where the CPAP usually is. Sure enough, it was there. Relieved.

FYI, only one Popeye’s in Salina–the new one on Ohio south of Crawford–sells onion rings. The older one off I-70 in the travel plaza doesn’t. If Popeye’s doesn’t have onion rings, Foots won’t eat at a particular Popeye’s. Simple.

The lesson: try to not use dish soap to wash out plastic drinking implements if you can.

After arriving in Kansas City, I stopped at the QuikTrip in Riverside for a drink. I noticed a terrible aftertaste to my pop.

I deduced soap had seeped into the mug. I was pretty grossed out by the aftertaste. Had to do all I could not to throw up.

I stopped at another QuikTrip in Overland Park and bought a new mug, since it was only $6. I left the old mug in a corner outside the entrance, so if someone wanted it, they could have it. Good luck trying to get the dish soap aftertaste out.

Discovery: ordering kiosks in fast food restaurants are awesome.

I tried one at Taco Bell in North Kansas City last night after my mobile order didn’t go through. I was mighty impressed. Order completely accurate. Other perks: not holding up the line at the counter trying to decide what you want, easier to customize, and easy payment. The Wendy’s a block east of that Taco Bell also has kiosks.

It is brutally cold in Kansas City this morning. Currently minus-16 Celsius (3 Fahrenheit) with a wind chill of minus-22 Celsius (-8 Fahrenheit). I hope my car will start, because i have an 0845 appointment in Liberty.

The Saints were shafted!

Saints shafted!

Football fans throughout Louisiana, at least most of them, are still steaming mad about the no-call which kept the Saints from Super Bowl LIII.

The outrage has extended well past the Saints players, coaches, front office and owner Gayle Benson. It’s reached the point where the New Orleans City Council drafted a resolution condemning the no-call, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is drafting a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to take a look into overturning the result, or at least ordering a replay.

Edwards and other politicians should be commended for their love of the Saints and their willingness to do anything to support one of two professional sports franchises to call Louisiana home.

Sadly, it isn’t going to do anything. The Rams are on their way to Atlanta to face the Patriots, and the Saints and their fans can only wonder what if.

The play in question occurred with less than two minutes remaining in the NFC championship game and the score tied 20-20. With it third and 10 and the Saints on the Rams’ 13-yard line, Drew Brees threw a short pass into the right flat intended for Tommylee Lewis.

Before Lewis could move to his right in order to catch the pass, Rams safety Nickell Robey-Coleman barreled full speed into Lewis with a helmet-to-helmet hit with left the ball to flutter incomplete.

The Saints had to settle for a Will Lutz field goal to give them the lead, but there was still 1:41 remaining when the Rams began their next possession, more than enough time for Jared Goff to drive his team to a game-tying field goal by Greg Zeurlein.

New Orleans won the overtime coin toss, but on the Saints’ third play of the extra period, Los Angeles’ Dante Fowler came in untouched on Brees, forcing a flutterball which was intercepted by the Rams’ John Johnson at the Los Angeles 46.

The Rams picked up one first down before stalling at the Saints’ 39. A 57-yard field goal is out of the range of many NFL kickers, but Zeurlein drove it home with plenty of room to spare, sending the Rams to their first Super Bowl since 2001, and the first for the Los Angeles Rams since 1979.

Back to the no-call.

I think Sean Payton should have ran the ball on first down and third down and forced the Rams to exhaust their timeouts. Los Angeles had two timeouts at the two-minute warning, and the Saints would have been able to bleed 40 more seconds off the clock after third down. Even if the Saints lost 10 yards on three plays and taken a 5-yard delay of game penalty, it still would have been well within Lutz’ range.

That said, Payton has a Super Bowl ring and more wins than any previous Saints coach, so I defer to his judgement. He is paid $9 million per year to call the shots.

While we will never know how the game would have turned out had Robey-Coleman been flagged–either for defensive pass interference (DPI) or a helmet-to-helmet hit.

It is indefensible, however, that a flag was not dropped.

One of the cardinal rules of playing pass defense is the defender must play the ball, not the receiver. At no level of football–Pop Warner, high school, college, professional–is a defender allowed to simply go after the receiver. I’m certain every elementary officiating training video shows a defender playing the man and not the ball is obvious DPI.

Robey-Coleman did not turn his head once he started flying towards Lewis. His eyes were pointed in one direction and one direction only, at the player wearing black jersey #11.

For a split second, it appeared Robey-Coleman might be called out for his misdeed.

Down judge (head linesman in other levels of football; it was changed by the NFL to down judge because Sarah Thomas now officiates that position) Patrick Turner had his hand on his penalty flag, which was in his belt on his right hip. However, he took his hand off the flag and signaled incomplete.

The question is, did Turner decide himself to keep his flag in his belt, or did he have help in making the no-call?

Two officials are stationed on each sideline. The head linesman/down judge and side judge work one side, and the line judge and field judge the other. The linesman and line judge are stationed at the line of scrimmage, and the field judge and side judge are 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.

I am wondering if Turner caught the eye of side judge Gary Cavaletto as he had his hand on the flag and changed his mind because of something Cavaletto communicated to him, either by voice or eye contact.

Turner and Cavaletto blew it, as did back judge Todd Prukop, who had a clear angle of the play from the middle of the field 25 yards deep.

Turner had no guts. If he threw the flag, it probably would have prompted a conference between the seven-man crew led by Bill Vinovich. If Vinovich and his mates opted to overrule Turner, then so be it, but Turner would have showed courage to do the right thing and make a gutsy call when guts are in short supply. Instead, Turner swept it under the rug.

Cavaletto and Prukop have both officiated in Super Bowls. This was Cavaletto’s 13th postseason assignment. This was Turner’s first conference championship game, and sadly, it could be his last NFL game, period.

The first cardinal rule of officiating is you have to see it before you call it, so phantom calls are always a big no-no with the NFL. Yet missing something so obvious is just as bad.

How could Turner, Cavaletto and Prukop NOT see a foul? Robey-Coleman should have been called for either DPI or a personal foul. Either way, the Saints get a fresh set of downs, they can milk the clock, then call in Lutz to kick them to Atlanta the same way Garrett Hartley kicked New Orleans to Miami nine years ago.

Two former NFL Vice Presidents of Officiating, Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino, said the officials blew it. So did Terry McAulay, the referee for Super Bowls XXXIX, XLIII and XLVIII. Current NFL Vice President of Officiating Alberto Riveron told Payton the call was blown minutes after the game ended.

I do not like the direction of football in 2018. I do not like shootouts. I do not like pass defenders having so many restrictions placed upon them. I do not like defenders who are flagged for roughing the passer for ticky-tack things which would never have been called 20 years ago.

On the other hand, if it is egregious, it has to be called. The same way as a pitch which comes into a batter at his feet or his neck must be called a ball. The same way a hockey player who swings his stick at an opponent must be called for slashing. The same way Lionel Messi must be awarded a penalty kick if he is tackled in the penalty area when he is one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Yes, officiating requires good judgement, the same way the men and women in black robes requires it. Yet there are some areas which are black and white. Nickell Robey-Coleman bulldozing Tommylee Lewis was black and white. And the men in the black and white stripes failed miserably.

Robey-Coleman is fortunate the NFL does not have the NCAA’s targeting rule. In college, the replay official may buzz the referee if he sees forcible contact to the head or neck area that the officials on the field did not call. The player can be ejected for targeting based upon the replay official’s recommendation., Certainly Robey-Coleman would have been banished had the college rule been in effect.

The Rams-Patriots Super Bowl does not interest me. I saw this crap 17 years ago. Only this time, Brady and Belichick are heavy favorites against a second year quarterback, not the other way around. If the Patriots win, they’ll piss everyone off except those living in New England, Colin Cowherd and those who think Brady is the greatest thing to hit football. If the Rams win, it’s tainted.

Alive not well

I have gone more than two weeks without posting. Shame on me. I am lazy.

I am alive. Not well. Just wanted to demonstrate.

Good night. I’m still angry as hell about the Saints getting jobbed by the officials.

A burned out turn signal and a finicky iPad

This trip to Kansas City has been a bust. Huge bust. It isn’t Kansas City’s fault.

I was supposed to get the Buick detailed Saturday. Turns out the place didn’t have enough workers on staff. I rescheduled it for this Thursday, which would be okay, if not for something which happened today.

The left turn signal on the Buick is now burned out. I discovered this coming out of the automatic car wash on Wornall. Now I have to take the car to James Motors Friday and get all of the headlights and tail lights replaced.

I drove from Briarcliff to south Kansas City without my phone. LOVELY. Frank was trying to get a hold of me for an hour, but dumbass me was unreachable because my phone was in the hotel room, and my iPad was in the trunk of the car.

At least the iPad was working. Yesterday at 1500, it shut down all of a sudden for no reason. I had been streaming movies through the iPad to the television in the room, yet all of a sudden, the iPad’s screen went pitch black. This really angered me, especially since I received the iPad only last Wednesday.

I chatted online with Apple support. I was desperate to get an appointment with a technician at one of the two Apple stores in Kansas City. After a long amount of wrangling, I finally received one for 1250 today at the store on the Country Club Plaza. Good I got an appointment. Bad that it was on the Plaza, a place I hate going to due to the crush of people and lack of parking. I have not visited the Plaza in almost a decade, and I have no desire to return any time soon.

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go to the Plaza. I searched on Verizon’s site about an iPad where the screen was totally black for no reason. It suggested a quick fix, and sure enough, my device came back to life.

Today, Frank needed something from me ASAP, and while I had my iPad, I did not have the full-sized keyboard I use with it. I left that in my room, too. I tried the best I could with using the on-screen keyboard, but it was painful. I tried dictation, but with people’s names, that’s tough. Somehow, I got through it.

Spent most of yesterday sleeping. Considering I had little sleep the previous week, it was understandable. I have to sleep better.

Ready to go home tomorrow. I thought about going to a basketball game in Norton to see Peggy and Caitlyn, but with the turn signal out, I don’t know. Ugh. My life.

Double dose of Saintly pain

January 3 is a day fans of the New Orleans Saints would rather forget for two major reasons.

The first occurred in 1988, when the Saints lost 44-10 to the Vikings in New Orleans’ first playoff game in franchise history.

The Saints finished the 1987 regular season 12-3, the second best record in the entire NFL, but they had to settle for a wild card berth to the playoffs because the 13-2 49ers were in the same division, the NFC West.

Prior to 1987, the Saints suffered through 18 losing seasons. Their best record was 8-8, achieved in 1979 and 1983. New Orleans was the birthplace of fans wearing bags on their heads, introduced during the abysmal 1-15 season of 1980.

In 1987, fans could rip the bags off–at least over the last nine games. The Saints lost three of their first six games, two of them to mediocre teams (Eagles and Cardinals) and one to the 49ers in the Superdome, a game in which Morten Andersen made five field goals, but missed his seventh attempt on the game’s final play, allowing San Francisco to escape 24-22.

The Saints should have been given kudos for coming close against the mighty 49ers, right?

Nope.

Second-year Saints coach Jim Mora went nuclear. Three words sum it up best.

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.

Mora stated he was tired of saying “coulda, woulda, shoulda”, and that the Saints weren’t good enough to beat the 49ers. Another famous line came when he said, “We’re close, and close don’t mean (bleep). And you can put that on TV for me.”

In 1987, there was SportsCenter, but the NFL Network was 16 years off. However, those of us in New Orleans got to see Mora’s tirade more than a few times, and nobody who grew up in New Orleans in the late 1980s will ever forget Mora’s postgame press conference of October 25, 1987.

Mora’s words must have had some effect on the Saints. New Orleans did not lose again in the regular season, ripping off nine consecutive victories, including a 26-24 decision at San Francisco three weeks later, a game which was won on a 52-yard field goal by Andersen, who last year became the second pure placekicker to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining former Kansas City legend Jan Stenerud, whose bust has been in Canton since 1991.

The Saints’ opponents in the NFC wild card game, the Vikings, were in the playoffs for the first time in five years. Jerry Burns, who was in his second year in charge in Minnesota, had one of the NFL’s best receivers, Anthony Carter, but an unsettled quarterback situation between the oft-injured Tommy Kramer and the inconsistent Wade Wilson. The Viking defense, although not up to the standards of the Purple Gang of the 1970s, was still formidable, thanks to Chris Doleman, Keith Millard, rookie Henry Thomas, Scott Studwell and Joey Browner.

Minnesota was put into a hole during the strike called by the NFL Players’ Association during the 1987 season. The owners called up replacement players to substitute for the regulars for three games in weeks 4-6 (week three was canceled), looking to avoid the repeat of the disastrous 1982 strike in which the season was reduced from 16 games to nine.

The Vikings’ replacement team laid a giant goose egg, losing to Green Bay, Chicago and Tampa Bay. New Orleans had better fortune, defeating the Rams and Bears while losing in St. Louis.

Minnesota got back on track when the strike ended, but in December, the Vikings lost to the Bears, Packers and Redskins, finishing 8-7. However, Minnesota snuck into the playoffs when Dallas defeated St. Louis in what turned out to be the Cardinals’ final game representing the Gateway City.

Most of the experts liked New Orleans to easily defeat Minnesota and move into a divisional playoff game in Chicago, where the Bears were hampered by bickering, inconsistency from quarterback Jim McMahon, and an aged Walter Payton, who ended up retiring after the 1987 season.

The Vikings had different ideas.

New Orleans grabbed an early 7-0 lead, but an 84-yard punt return touchdown by Carter turned the momentum permanently in the Vikings’ favor.

Minnesota rubbed salt in the wound on the final play of the first half when Wade Wilson connected with Hassan Jones on a 55-yard Hail Mary, a play which the Vikings received when the Saints were called for having 12 players on the field on what should have been the last play in the first half. A half cannot end on a defensive penalty, and the Vikings made the Saints pay the ultimate price.

It didn’t matter. The Vikings were up 24-10 before the Wilson-to-Jones heroics, and they added to the lead in the second half, ending up a 44-10 winner.

The next week, Carter torched the 49ers with 11 catches for 227 yards, a playoff record, in a 36-24 Viking victory at San Francisco. Minnesota came within an eyelash of its first Super Bowl since 1976, but Darrin Nelson dropped a potential game-tying touchdown at the goal line in the NFC championship game in Washington. The Redskins won 17-10, then obliterated John Elway’s Broncos in Super Bowl XXII with the famous 35-point second quarter.

Exactly five years later after the debacle vs. the Vikings, the Saints were again hosting an NFC wild card playoff game. The Saints went 12-4 in 1992, but had to settle for second in the NFC West behind the 14-2 49ers, who swept the season series from New Orleans, negating San Francisco’s loss to the 4-12 Cardinals.

New Orleans was still in search of its first playoff victory when the Eagles invaded the Crescent City on January 3, 1993. The Saints made the playoffs as an 8-8 wild card in 1990 before losing to the Bears in Chicago, then lost to the Falcons at home after capturing the NFC West in 1991, the Saints’ first division title.

Philadelphia entered the 1992 playoffs riding a five-game postseason losing streak, a skid which started in New Orleans when the Eagles lost 27-10 to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.

One factor working in the Eagles’ favor was Buddy Ryan was no longer coaching them. Ryan lost playoff games in three consecutive seasons between 1988-90, and combined with Ryan’s hatred of his offense despite the heroics of quarterback Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia owner Norman Braman had seen enough and showed Ryan the door.

Rich Kotite had the Eagles in the playoffs after missing out in 1991 despite a 10-6 record. Philadelphia defeated New Orleans 15-13 at Veterans Stadium in the season opener, and that led to the pundits splitting right down the middle as to whether the Eagles or Saints would advance to face the Cowboys in Dallas.

Through three quarters, the Saints led 20-7. It looked like the Saints would finally win a playoff game, and the Eagles would once again choke in the clutch.

Unfortunately for the Saints, football games are four periods.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles stunned not only the 70,000 in the Superdome, but millions of football fans watching on television by ripping off 29 unanswered points to win 36-20.

Fortunately for the Saints, few outside Louisiana noticed their collapse.

Mora and his players had the Houston Oilers to thank.

Earlier that day, the Oilers built a 35-3 lead early in the third quarter in Buffalo, only to completely collapse and allow the Bills to rally and win 41-38 in overtime.

The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and changed their name to the Titans in 1999. The franchise is still searching for its first Super Bowl title. So are the Bills, who lost Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII to the Cowboys after losing XXV to the Giants and XXVI to the Redskins.

Minnesota has lost three more NFC championship games since 1987 (1998, 2000 and 2017).

New Orleans finally shook the playoff monkey in 2000, and won Super Bowl XLIV nine years later. Philadelphia is the reigning Super Bowl champion, the first title for the Eagles since 1960.

Here’s hoping the Saints can live up to the pressure of the NFL’s best team during the regular season and bring home the Vince Lombardi trophy from Atlanta one month from tonight.

Two days late. What’s new, pussycat? (Other than the year)

So much for posting every day in 2019. I was extremely lazy the past two days. Actually, the past three. Too little sleep. Too much junk food. I’m still not feeling up to speed.

The last two weeks of 2018 had enough trouble for two months. Let’s hope that doesn’t repeat in 2019.

Of course, there was the fiasco with the person who didn’t appreciate my wishes for a Merry Christmas. I’ve tried to forget about it, or at least not bring it up until I see Crista again, which happens to be at 0900 tomorrow.

After 7 1/2 years and 236,000 miles, my Chevrolet gave out. It didn’t leave me stranded, but it gave me enough difficult to convince my father to transfer the title on my grandfather’s Buick LeSabre to me.

It had been planned for years. My grandfather’s vision has continuously deteriorated over the past 25 years, and now it is to the point where he cannot see well enough to drive. The Kansas Department of Revenue, which is in charge of processing driver’s licenses, told him his vision was not good enough to keep him on the road. He had been banned from night driving since 2010 and restricted to the city limits of Russell since 2012, but now, he can’t drive, period.

My grandfather’s female companion, Betty, had been driving the Buick, but sadly, she passed away from cancer in October. As soon as that occurred, my father began keeping the Buick at my grandfather’s old shop on East 12th Street.

I was driving to Salina last Friday in the Chevrolet, but when I got to the Wilson exit on Interstate 70, the engine all of a sudden began to power down. There was a message that my traction control system had failed, and that the car needed to reduce power to the engine.

I turned the car off and back on at the Sylvan Grove exit, but still the engine power was down. I drove for 10 miles westbound at 45 to 50 miles per hour (70-80 km/h) and it was scary. I was unhappy I was slowing the flow of traffic, but what else could I do? Finally, I pulled off again at Dorrance, let the car sit for a couple of minutes, and while the service engine light was still on, the engine was back to full power and I drove back to Russell.

That afternoon, my father and I got the paperwork done to transfer the Buick to me. It’s a 2004 LeSabre Limited, with leather interior, heated seats, satellite radio and most of the same accoutrements the Chevrolet has. This is the first car I’ve had since the Oldsmobile without a spoiler on the trunk, and the first since the Oldsmobile where the shifter is on the column and not the floor. Oh well.

As it turned out, I accidentally threw my iPod in the trash when I cleaned out the Chevrolet. I frantically looked for it through all the stuff I took out, but no luck. I have a new one on reserve at the Apple store in Leawood I’ll pick up tomorrow. At least all of my music is secure on my iCloud and computer.

The Buick is so ancient it has a cassette deck. However, it has no plug-in for the cable to go from the iPod to the radio like the Chevrolet did. Fortunately, there is a cassette adapter which will allow sound to come through the iPod to the car speakers. If that weren’t available, I would have had to get a new radio.

My new iPad arrived 24 hours ago. It’s fancy. Huge screen, great video and sound. I was able to give my old one to my parents so they can stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

I left the house at 0830 because there was a plumber working on the sink in our kitchen. Stopped at SportClips to see Amber, drove to Wichita to go to the bank, then rocketed back up I-135 to stop at Buffalo Wild Wings for trivia, which I haven’t done since August. Leaving at 2030 because I have the appointment with Crista.

Alabama and Clemson are playing for college football’s national championship Monday. Again. Third time in the last four seasons. It will be that way until either Nick Saban retires, which will leave another school to fill the vacuum. Clemson, meanwhile, should be there for at least another 20 years, because Dabo Swinney is much younger and is having too much fun.

I’m happy LSU beat Central Florida. I am beyond fed up about UCF bragging about its long winning streak, the American Athletic Conference whining about how it should be treated as a power conference when it clearly is not, Danny White (UCF’s athletic director, not the former Cowboys quarterback) bitching about how power schools won’t play him in Orlando….blah blah blah. ENOUGH.

Why should Florida give up a home game in its 92,000-seat stadium to play UCF in its 44,000-seat facility in Orlando? The Gators were offering a 2-for-1 with the Knights, which I think is quite generous. South Florida accepted the offer. Yet UCF thinks one undefeated season gives it the right to make demands when writing contracts. Okay then.

In his early years at Florida State, Bobby Bowden played six or seven road games consistently until the mid-1980s, exposing the Seminoles to numerous hostile environments, using the large paychecks FSU received for playing at LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan. The only schools the Seminoles played home and home in those days were Florida and Miami.

UCF, meanwhile, has its feelings hurt because Florida doesn’t feel like giving up millions in revenue in the name of fairness. Schools are not in the business of losing money. Florida has every right to tell UCF to take its offer or leave it.

I did not follow through on my vow to not watch college football. However, I’m not sad the season ends Monday. I can do without hearing about Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide for a few months.

Nobody in Kansas has been paying attention to college football anyway. It’s all about basketball. Yippee.

I scored a perfect 15,000 in my first trivia game of 2019. It’s not an omen. But imagine if it were.

Exploits of a 12-year old

I swear I need to discipline myself to post every day during 2019, no matter how short or how silly it might be. Actually, short posts might be better considering I have the tendency for posts which fall just short of the length of War and Peace.

I didn’t get to Kansas City until 1915 last night. I had to stay behind in Hays due to an eye exam with Dr. Stacey Jones at 1415. It was the last time I’ll visit her at the corner of Canterbury and 22nd in Hays, because in January, she and her husband will open their own ophthalmology/dentistry private practice in downtown Hays across the corner from the Hays public library, Fox Theater and James Motors. I’ve been seeing Dr. Jones since moving to Kansas in 2005, and she has picked up right where my ophthalmologist in Louisiana, Dr. Martin Schoenberger, left off. Both have been great caring for my vision.

I ended up sending out 73 Christmas cards. So, far one has been labeled returned to sender. One person was not happy that I looked up their address and sent a card. Peggy, Caitlyn, Brenda, Dorinda and a few others, some of whom were middle school classmates of mine in 1988 and ’89, were much happier. They’ll stay on the list for 2019. The complainer won’t.

Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of my only memorable athletic achievement.

I played youth basketball for the local playground, Carolyn Park, for three years in the 1980s. My last year was in the 1988-89 season, when I played on Carolyn Park’s 11-year old team (I was 12 by time the season started, but since I had an October birthday, I played with the 11-year olds, as did my Arabi Park Middle classmate, Jason Malasovich). The goals were only 8 1/2 feet high, and the free throw lanes were trapezoidal shaped like they were in international basketball at the time, albeit narrower than what was used both internationally and the NBA.

On the afternoon of Dec. 18, 1988, Carolyn Park played Versailles, which was located at the junction of Paris Road and St. Bernard Highway in Chalmette, not too far from the ferry landing where the boats which ran between Chalmette and the Algiers section of New Orleans would take on cars.

There were six playgrounds in St. Bernard Parish. Carolyn Park was the farthest west, taking in the community of Arabi, which stretched from the city limits of New Orleans about two miles to the east. Three–Vista, Versailles and Rebel–were in Chalmette, the largest community in St. Bernard. Bournemouth (spelled the same as the city on the south coast of England) was in Meraux and Violet, and then Kenilworth took in the eastern third of the parish.

Carolyn Park didn’t have its own gym, so the game was played at Bournemouth. Four nights earlier, my team played Kenilworth at Bournemouth’s gym, and I had a decent game, scoring six points and blocking a shot from behind. I blocked the shot from 12 feet at its apex and it flew out of bounds. I could hear my mother and brother cheering that one.

Jason was one of three very good players that Carolyn Park team had. The others wer the guards, Chad Nuccio, son of our coach, A.J. Nuccio, and Trey Guillot, who later enjoyed a stellar baseball career at Holy Cross before pitching for Tulane. I wasn’t athletic enough to be a starter, but I came of the bench and did what needed to be done, mostly rebounding, good defense and points here and there.

In the game vs. Versailles, I scored on a pair of jump shots from the foul line in the second period, and it helped Carolyn Park lead 30-15 at halftime.

In the second half, Versailles came back. It had a couple of future high school varsity starters, Brett Tessitore (Archbishop Hannah) and Michael Marques (Brother Martin); Michael was in my graduating class at Brother Martin, and his dad and my dad worked together at Air Products and Chemicals.

Foul trouble nearly crippled Carolyn Park. Five players fouled out, including Chad and Jason. I would have been on the bench the entire second half, but the starter who played my position, Alex Dupre, fouled out with three minutes left. I knew it was his fifth foul, and coach Nuccio sent me into the game.

As the fouls began to pile up, I got so angry I slammed the ball with 90 seconds left. It was right in front of an official. I should have been given a technical foul. He let it go. He must have known I was frustrated.

With 30 seconds left, Carolyn Park was down to four players. Basketball rules allow a team to play with fewer than five if players foul out or are ejected, but you cannot start a game with fewer than five.

I thought I would be gone with another foul, but it turned out I had three. With 12 seconds left, Versailles missed the front end of a one-and-one (the double bonus was not adopted in high school basketball until 1995-96), leaving it ahead 45-44.

Trey pulled down the rebound and sped down the left sideline with a beautiful left-handed dribble. His layup was off the mark.

The rebound came down to the right side of the lane to #14. ME.

From seven feet away, I put an awkward-looking jumper.

It skimmed the backboard and fell through with two seconds left.

Versailles called timeout. I was mobbed by my teammates and coaches. All we had to do was defend and my shot would be the winner.

Versailles threw a long pass which was tipped and bounced harmlessly away. Carolyn Park won 46-45.

Of course, I got a hugely inflated head over the shot. I bragged about it the next two days at Arabi Park. Thankfully for Jason, Shawn O’Neil (who was a damn good player for Vista) and my other classmates, school let out that Tuesday for the holidays.

The shot went to my head. I played like crap the next two games, and my dad suggested after the second, a 19-point loss to Rebel, that I quit because I wasn’t committed.

The Thursday after Christmas, I wasn’t feeling well. I was battling a cold, and I had to wear long sleeves under my jersey. Carolyn Park played Bournemouth all the way at Kenilworth at the other end of the parish.

I was on the bench in the first quarter. In the second quarter, I went off.

Ten points in six minutes. I went to the foul line for the first time that season and swished both shots. I played the entire second half and finished with 14 points in Carolyn Park’s 53-34 victory.

The night before my big game, Shawn O’Neil held his 12th birthday party at Showbiz Pizza in Algiers, across the Mississippi River from St. Bernard Parish. Showbiz was Chuck E. Cheese’s competitor in the 1980s, and both places advertised heavily on the four main New Orleans television stations. Chuck E. Cheese was on the Metairie-Kenner line on Veterans Highway in Jefferson Parish.

Shawn’s dad insisted on taking the ferry to Algiers. I begged him not to. I HATED HTE FERRY. I hated it. I knew all about the infamous incident in 1976 (exactly one week after I was born) when a drunken ferry pilot did not see a huge tanker crossing the river in St. Charles Parish. The boats collided, and all of the cars went into the river. Of the 94 people on board the ferry, 78 perished.

My mother took the ferry often to visit her mother, who lived in Algiers from 1970 until her death in 1992. It made some sense before October 1988, when the second span of the Greater New Orleans Bridge (now the Crescent City Connection) opened. When it was one bridge and there were only two lanes of traffic in each direction, an accident could cause delays of up to six hours in some cases.

I tried to get girls in our class at Arabi Park, especially Stacie Dauterive (now Seube) invitations, but the O’Neils said no way.

Jason and I had to play in a Christmas concert in New Orlean’s’ Jackson Square with the Arabi Park Middle band the day before I hit my game-winning shot. It was chilly and windy. Good preparation for my future life as it turned out.

Shawn, Jason, Stacie and a few others from Arabi Park were on my Christmas card list. I would give anything to see all of them. I’m very happy that rift has been repaired. It was pretty ugly when I left Arabi Park after seventh grade for Brother Martin. I lorded Brother Martin over them much worse than that game-winning shot, and it was little wonder why they were glad to see me continue my education at 4401 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans.

Apparently, forgiveness is a four-letter word to some I’ve known through the years. Sad.