Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PEEPS IN THE PAST

PHOTO MEMORIES FROM THE LMHS 50 YEAR BASH

Temecula, CA – Over the years one truth came out first. The high school that I graduated from was unique from all others I have ever heard about. Returning to my old Alma Mata in the block long building I attended, now an ample Salvation Army facility, and being back in the company of fellow grad classmates at the country club dinner bash was certainly something I hope my grandfather in Paradise witnessed and smiled about.



Always a class act, the late afternoon-evening 50 year class reunion featured the sweetest compliment to Walt Oster, creator of the tee shirt/cake top reunion logo. More for sports than artistic talent is how I remember Walt, but either way, Male pulled the best out of its pupils. After the jump, a look at some classmates and the room we all enjoyed each other’s company again together.


At the receiving line to check in, I ran into old chum (neighborhood, family, church, school, etc.), Ellis Bullock. Except for my jobs in cable TV, no other person or time contributed more to my being the successful social butterfly I am today. In high school it is all about fitting in, the innies and the outties. The innies are all the groups/cliques that you see stereotyped in the movies. Being part of Ellis' group, one of the most influential aka popular, put me dead nuts center inny. Always the one with the next plan/event, it seemed apropos to see Ellis first, after my co-hosts (Will Rodgers & Ann Long).


As more and more grads joined the gathering, Ellis renewed old ties in his familiar high school way.

Indeed, before the scheduled festivities started, I ran up on


Al Perry and his wife Juanita. It was Al who along with Ellis, co-founded our social club, The Royal Dukes. Nowadays school officials would label us a gang, but we were cultured, so not a 'mob', and citified, therefore a club. Plus the Dukes wasn't a school sanctioned club but we had adult sponsorship in the form of a clubhouse building and chaperons. As I mentioned in past stories, our parties made the newspaper, albeit the local black-owned newspaper. Maybe one day I will find out if my white Male classmates ever heard about the Royal Dukes parties we hosted. I fantasied about bringing music for a big interracial bash at the time of our last big graduation blow-out. In the next life.

Victor Hardin, is a close friend I instantly made in the tenth grade when he laughed at an under the breath comment of mine. Over the course of high school Vic's wise council was a ying to my yang many times. As such, I always knew Vic would go far, and he did; all the way to Tokyo for his bride of over 30+ years.

A person I remember most from a science class incident is Danny Frederick, here with his wife.

Our tenth grade biology teacher's habit was to have the class do open book studying while he went to the teachers lounge. Perhaps this was his way of dealing with teaching to an integrated class, or maybe he was just a lazy teacher. When he walked back into the room, if you were caught talking, you got a lick from his wooden paddle. In fact if you were caught talking in his class at all, you got a paddlin',
One day the teacher passed out samples of legumes [various beans] to everyone before he left the room. My friend Alonzo Hodges was shaking his head 'no' as I looked at the beans in my hand with a little nod. As if reading my mind, Danny fires a bean that bounces off my noggin, and it's on. 
Soon the whole class is engaged in a bean fight right down to the McCoy twins, who never did anything to cause a disruption.
Throughout this whole ordeal as I am ducking, dodging, and returning fire, Alonzo is sitting there, not joining in. He had a right to be afraid. Of the last twenty people paddled, Alonzo had been nineteen of them. Since he sat right across the aisle from me in class, like Bart Simpson, I felt partly responsible. 
After my constant heckling Alonzo finally threw caution to the wind and with a leap upward, hand cocked to release a fat Lima bean at Danny, the one who started the melee, Mr. Kellerman, a sharp-eyed, beak-noised teacher similar to Mr. Crocker (Fairly Odd Parents) stepped into the room.
Curiously, everyone, including myself had momentarily stopped hurling beans as if to gather more up from the ones on the floor around us.
We all sat in silence listening to five crisp paddle licks echo off the granite marble floors and metal lockers, given to one who was innocent but was suffering for all of us. We sat there and tried not to bust out laughing at the misfortune of our classmate. When Alonzo slowly walked back into the classroom, both our eyes were glassy but for two opposite reasons. It was high school, and we were kids. Today I would be appalled if my son had my attitude of old.

The spread was set out and we all got in line for the buffet with a serving lane on each side.


And then everyone got settled for the evening's presentations. Cameras and phones came out then.


Like in our youth, the class leaders of old again rose to the occasion with Ann Long starting off.



Here Marjorie Sidebottom [Burchette] is awarded in front of the awaiting presenters. Once again as the prizes were handed out, there was one for the longest distance. This time it was Walt, a retired drug enforcement/police officer, who presented me with my award.

Though the AC'd room was by no means freezing, my blood has thinned out being here in So Cali so I donned my light leather jacket. Then after accepting the black box with a commemorative seal, I slowly segued my way of explaining my book Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green from living in California, a state where medical marijuana is allowed.

I had briefly dwelled on the irony that Walt is/was a cop, but remembering him from the past and then seeing his shoes, I said to myself 'this guy can take a joke'. So I hawked Mary Jane and my book about her to my fellow student body from 1963. I doubt any other class ever got a pot plug.

Other people won raffle prizes, like Vic, below.


When our class president, Phil Wallace, delivered his wrap-up, it was time to mingle again.



Cheerleaders posed with former jocks from teams we all cheered for. Second from left is Terry Atchison who bought then forgot his copy of Memoirs to get signed. A signed copy was left with Will to present to Terry at the 50 Year Bash wrap-up committee meeting. We said it before the Army, 'No Male High person gets left behind.'
The second 'Terry' in the above picture is another 'chum' and all that entails, Terry Davis, yellow cap. Another Church friend also, Terry arranged for Ellis, Ann, his sister Myrtle, and myself to attend a service in the church we all grew up in. Later in my road trip I would attend a service at the Church I joined in Iowa. Both were good experiences.

Meandering around the room I saw Rosita Lopez and her husband along with many others that I recognized by name at the function but not later through the photos.


However I did see Lester Goins (first pic) and Carey Guess (second pic) who both still look the same.

Background, far left, Terry Davis, Ellis Bullock, Arthur Faust yellow cap; foreground 2nd left, Lester Goins, right, M. Sidebottom


In the end, the hardworking Class of '63 volunteers, Conny Delap [Morris] and Ann Long pictured with Karen Walter [Roberts] standing, along with the rest of the class committee and the Woodhaven staff made this event special for everyone who attended.

I got to chat about my favorite topic, cough, and my current City of Oz over the rainbow lifestyle

But you have to know that as the 'last' Royal Duke, the moment that surprised me as the most fulfilling was Ellis came over, inquired about the book's theme and then bought a copy. 

Later on Al Perry came over and got his copy. Two days after the Bash, local paper the Courier-Journal would do a front page story about medical marijuana showing the Royal Dukes are still ahead of the pack, as always. 

IN MEMORIAL

Donald Bryant                                Robert Magruder
Tommy Cain                                  Jerry Martin
James Clark                                   Jesse McClure
Mary Ellen McLane [Clark]*            Carolyn McDade [Leslie]
Joan Davis [Wilmoth]                      Michael Mueller **             
Glenda Dockery                              Ron Netherton
John Feiock                                   William Nunn
Beryl Fentress                                Charles Parker
Ralph Given                                   Jesse Phillips
Paul Gooch                                    Larry Poe
William Gooch                                James Sellars
Curtis Gousha                                Tom Shake
James Hopper                                Beverly Staton [Sumner]
Arnold Jacobs                                Judith Trauth [Mudd]
James Lawrence                            Barbara Ward [Avenna]
George Leffler                               Beverly Wilcher [Meredith]
David Lile                                     Gary Williams
Marsha Madden [Onstott]               James Stark

(*- died 11/63; **- killed in Vietnam; all photos - Will Rodgers, Class of 63)

Monday, July 29, 2013

CATCHING UP TO THE COLTRANES



VAULT CROWD HARMONIZES TO ‘SWEET CAROLINE’

Temecula, CA – Music and band reviews is how I ‘broke into the press biz’ around these parts. Not commercial bands or mainstream music, but the music made by local/regional groups in the scene known as ‘All Ages’. While championing this ground level collective genre as fresh, it is seeing these bands start and progress that really warms the cuckolds of my heart as a parent from the times when I was one.

In the past two weeks, very live, up close and personal, I have witnessed the evolution of two different bands playing two separate styles of music but yielding one common result: complete crowd appeal, or more appropriately, kid appeal.

So you can imagine my surprise at singing along to the lyrics of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline with a room full of Neil Diamond 'grand kids' in a scene that looked and sounded like something from Glee. It was great, btw.




Curiously enough, the first band is one that didn’t begin at The Vault. I posted a story here about the night The Coltranes broke onto the all-ages music scene at a bare bones venue called Vic’s Warehouse, because that was what it was during weekdays. 

Even raw, first show raw, The Coltranes, locals all, demonstrated a stage presence that resonated in the kids dancing, or rather ‘pitting’ at the band’s performance. While to the casual eye, any band generating a mosh pit is generating mosh pit energy, the pit vibrates at different vibes/levels. The Coltranes connected on that first night, first time out through an honest and talented performance.
Talking with the band members after that show I was impressed at how the night’s success had grounded the three-piece in becoming professional musicians that night. As the sweat glistened in an after show sheen on the three who weren’t even out of breath, that was the moment the show biz bug bit, and you could see it in their eyes.

Each show after, the band grew in fan base while refining the initial musical stamina in driving the pit but I really wasn’t prepared for the latest installment of The Coltranes, who were playing back to back nights two zip codes, but walking distance, apart. Having put out a vinyl release and a CD in late 2011, the band has developed technically at the now common light year speed learning curve of rising bands.

Hitting the stage again at The Vault, The Coltranes lit up the stage and the pit in a way no other band did the whole night, except maybe the headliners. The stage presence, the musicianship, the energy; you could feel the room air change. The music itself seemed to flow from the trio as a single entity adding to the pit pulse, yet no one was hurt. That’s a rare magic, and again I was there to witness it.


I love the scene, especially when you get an encore of an encore. A past story I posted, Disney Band Plays Temecula/Real Big Tits Seen at Same Show, played in the top 5 as a long runner, I guessed because of the title. Beyond the joke title element, the story told of a ska band that plays Disneylandon a regular basis, and a real band named RBTplaying their first show the same night at The Vault. This past Saturday both bands were back, as you can see from the poster. [Poster contains typo; Adicts tradition, don't ask]

As you can also see from the poster, Suburban Legends is a band that packs a lot of energy, and that ain’t the half of it. Update pictures may be added at a later date but take it from the poster picture, everyone moves all the time in SL. The rhythm hooks are catchy in a traditional swing party style that reflects back to the days of Huey Lewis & The News, just with a lot more energy. This is ska, not R&B. Plus, like Huey and his boys, SLis a hot-looking band. Each member could be a magazine model in looks and dress; a natural carry-over from being a Disneylandband.
But looks don’t play instruments and that is the other feature which can get overlooked. The SL members onstage are trained professional musicians, gifted in most cases, who then learned intricate choreography in addition to flawless music making. Stir in a full portion of the band’s T-town fan base, and you get a room that sings in unison to 90% of the set list.

And yet there’s more. Add the Vault’s new club lighting which highlights both the audience and the staging area [devoid of speaker scaffolding] and mix well with a couple of Disney covers, with an extra for good measure, then sprinkle with the classic Neal Diamond chestnut that rang out like an anthem so good, so good, so good! What a night in the music scene. Though working on a full of original material, Suburban Legends looks to drop their long awaited Disney cover release sometime in October. Ska-llo-ween anyone?

And this is just where I was on Saturday night. There were good times happening all over this blessed valley musically. Sad to say however, there is no progress reported in the murder case involving local musician Larry Robinson at press time.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

INTERSTELLAR DOMINATION



MONSANTO ACQUIRES ARMY, GATES ACQUIRES MONSANTO

Temecula, CA – Though it is a funny line when delivered by Owen Wilson’s character in Wedding
Crashers to Rachel McAdams’ Claire, we doubt the following report about real world ‘interstellar domination’ would make Claire crack a smile.

A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (7/20/2013) reveals that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (later called Xe Services and more recently “Academi”) clandestine intelligence services was bought by the multinational giant Monsanto, no longer even referred to as being ‘American’ anymore.

This under-the-radar move explained in detail after the jump reflects the Star Wars line by Darth Vader, “Finally all vestiges of the Old Republic have been swept away.” The ‘standing army’/Military Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans about 50 years ago has birthed the head of the dragon. Welcome to the Age of The Terminator.

Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State “security services,” that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.

Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwateror related companies created to political lobbying, opiate smuggling, and paramilitary training – for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. 
divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration,

According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeledthrough two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater. (Remember the word ‘multinational’ for our next part on Interstellar Domination, coming soon- Ed)

One of those directors, Cofer Black, known for his brutality in the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GMO and other enemies of the biotech giant.

Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to keep track of “public disclosure” of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a “totally separate entity from Blackwater.”

However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become “Monsanto’s intelligence arm,” spying on activists and other actions, including “our people to legally integrate these groups.” Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009.

Small wonder that a company engaged in the “science of death” aka eugenics as Monsanto, which has been dedicated from the outset to produce toxic poisons spilling from Agent Orange to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, hormones and genetically modified seeds, is associated with another company who brings pain for profit.

Almost simultaneously with the publication of this article in The Nation, the Via Campesinareported the purchase of 500,000shares of Monsanto, for more than $23 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which with this action completed the outing of the mask of “philanthropy.” Another association that is not surprising.

This is a marriage between the two most brutally oppressive monopolies in the history of industrialism: Bill Gates controls more than 90 percent of the market share of proprietarycomputing. Monsanto controls about 90 percent of the global transgenic seed market and most global commercial seed. There does not exist in any other industrial sector monopolies so vast, whose very existence is a negation of the vaunted principle of “market competition” of capitalism. Both Gates and Monsanto are very aggressive in defending their ill-gotten monopolies.


Although Bill Gates might try to say that the B&MG Foundation is not linked to his business, all it proves is the opposite: most of their donations end up favoring the commercial investments of the tycoon, not really “donating” anything. Instead of paying taxes to the state coffers, he invests his profits in where it is favorable to him economically, including propaganda from their supposed good intentions. On the contrary, their “donations” finance projects as destructive as geo-engineering or replacementof natural community medicines for high-tech patented medicines in the poorest areas of the world. What a coincidence, former Secretary of HealthJulio Frenk and Ernesto Zedillo are advisersof the Foundation.


A Georgia Guidestone with the new Ten Commandments
Like Monsanto, Gates is also engaged in trying to destroy rural farming worldwide, mainly through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). It works as a Trojan horse to deprive poor, non-white African farmers of their traditional seeds, replacing them with the seeds of their companies first, then by genetically modified (GM) seeds and binding contracts. To this end, the Foundation hired Robert Horsch in 2006, the director of Monsanto. Now Gates, airing major profits, went straight to the source.

Blackwater, Monsanto and Gates are three sides of the same figure: the war machine to the planet and most people who inhabit it; in particular this includes the peasants, indigenous communities, people who want to share information and knowledge, other people who do not want to be in the aegis of profit and the destructiveness of capitalism, and the final group, most Americans, the group that uses a major portion of the world’s natural resources.


At present, if you check under the radar, many media outlets, editorialists and bloggers clamor that the purchase was a “hoax”. Why?

That’s a good question. The more cynical might suspect a financial incentive from Monsantoitself to such “journalists.” Monsantoindeed has hired a public relations team to seek out critical blogs and websites reporting on their crimes against both Nature and humankind. This has been seen firsthand in comments on PoliticalBlindSpot.comarticles about Monsanto. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that they have created blogs where seemingly legitimate authors write organic thoughts, observations and rebuttals. The public presumes these are real-world people, when in fact they are working PR people for the company.

The core argument of those who claim that the Monsanto purchase of Blackwater is not truelies in the fact that it can only officially documented that Blackwater was hired by Monsanto for years. Immediately following the extensive work Blackwater did for Monsanto, the company was sold. Because of the nature of how the sale transpired, it is impossible to document who the sale was to. The obvious and logical conclusion to insiders (particularly in the private security industry), however, is that the sale was in fact to Monsanto who had been employing the group.

Xe (now Academi) has, indeed, been purchased, and while there’s no way of DOCUMENTING who the new owners really are, the logical conclusion would be that Monsanto, who had been employing them prior to the sale are the new owners. This, of course, would also make sense of the secrecy surrounding the deal and the identity of the new owners.
The company was bought out by private investors via private equity companies that don’t have to divulge any of their dealings, with Bank of America providing much of the $200 million in financing for the deal.

New York-based USTC Holdings said it would acquire Xe and its core operating subsidiaries, but did not disclose the price or terms of the agreement in a statement. USTC Holdings is an investor consortium led by private equity firms Forte Capital Advisors and Manhattan Partners.

Various researchers have been trying to document the buy via a paper trail, but so far without much luck. That, of course, is the point

One thing that is known: Forte Capital Advisorsis the baby of long-time Blackwater ally Jason De Yonker:

DeYonker has unique experience with the Company that dates back to its founding in the late 1990s. He advised the Company through development of its early business plan and expansion of the Moyock training facility as well as supporting negotiations of its first training contracts with U.S. government agencies. Between 1998 and 2002, Mr. DeYonker co-managed Xe founder, Erik Prince’s family office which included management of Mr. Prince’s portfolio companies.

What does that mean? The guy is a glorified accountant. And who do accountants talk to? Consultants, like Mitt Romney who was the exclusive MonsantoMuppet from Bain Capital.


Prior to joining Forté, Jason co-managed a +$100 million family office. In addition to actively managing various platform companies, Jason was a part of the executive team responsible for family wealth management. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a concentration in finance and accounting, from the Univeristy of Michigan.

Jason has spent the last 18 years advising on various mergers, acquisitions and divestitures with an aggregate transaction value greater than $1 billion. Jason’s experience include: transaction advisory, portfolio management, real estate development, venture capital and cross border dealings. Jason began his career with Arthur Andersen Corporate Finance Group, and was a Director in Deloitte & Touche’s Corporate Finance Group. He also was the Finance Director for the West Family Trust, a venture capital group focused on cross-border transactions.

The other investor looks to be the very junior partner Manhattan Partners, a private equity company – a shop that gathers money from anonymousrich investors and uses the pool of cash to leverage buyouts of big companies they wouldn’t have been able to arrange on their own.

Manhattan Partnersinvests in “compelling growth and special situation transactions,” but this will be their first known foray into defense industries – WarIsBusiness.com reports (via Spencer Ackerman):

    Manhattan Growth Partners is led by Dean Bosacki and Patrick McBride. Bosacki serves on the board of “the world’s largest commencement photography business,” among other companies. Manhattan Growth Partners, which describes itself as “a progressive thinking private equity firm,” also holds a majority interest in Hugo Naturals, a line of organic, vegan-friendly soaps, lotions, scents and soy candles sold at Whole Foods and other green-washed retailers.

At the end of the day, it would seem the logical conclusion is that in spite of arguments to the contrary, Monsanto in fact didbuy the Blackwater mercenary group… or at least the renamed Blackwater Xe (now Academi) Services group. The question of for whom the bell tolls is now revealed. It tolls for thee. (End of Part 1)


(Story source – Admin/Southweb/mole; edited for content & all emphasis – Ed; end photo credit - LienNoGMO)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

FLUORIDE, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

ON THE ROAD AGAIN FOR HEALTH AND EDUCATION

Temecula, CA - Part of a road trip, when you have been gone from a place, is to see how, or if
things have changed since you left. My stay in Louisville was to see and visit the past, reconnecting visually as a life traveler. In Indy, it was father-son time but I started to also push off some of my newly acquired food education learned from my John Diaz/Prop 37 involvement. However, the time I spent in Iowa was more to check on the country’s pulse. Iowa is the center of the country for good reason. Once something gets planted there, it stays like an old oak. But thinking is not a tree. Thoughts have movement, trees do not.

Staying at Winston’s*, I asked him one day if he knew that fluoride was bad for him, and that it had been fed to Jews in the concentration camps to keep them docile? True to his form, the friend who debated my taste bud cravings for unique Iowa food brands, stuck to his youth taught programming and argued for fluoride. After the jump the question is answered in two vids, but here’s a musical clue:

“War! (dum-de-dum, dum-de-dum) What is it good for?”




(*- For more on Winston, see Memoirs Of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green, now on sale; for a substitute toothpaste, see this link.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NFL FOOTBALL PRE-TRAINING CAMP PROJECTIONS



FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

Attached is NFL info to get you fired up for the upcoming season, including a summary of projections from various publications and from The Fugitive.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

If you follow projections going into the season, you probably have noticed that experts tend to use last year’s results as a predictor of success for this year, which of course is one factor in the analysis.  But, as the statistics bear out, it is not necessarily the overriding factor.  Since 1998 and prior to last year, teams repeated as division winners only 30% of the time, or less than 1 in 3.  However, in 2012, SIX of the 8 divisions had repeat winners (counting ties). 

In 2002, realignment created 8 divisions of four teams each. For those next eleven years, the NFC South has never had a repeat winner, and each of the four teams in the division (NOR, ATL, CAR, TB) has won the division title at least TWICE in those 11 years.  All four members of the AFC West and NFC West have also won at least one division title in those 11 years.

“So, who’s going to win Super Bowl XLVIII?”
I’ll give my predictions below (and of course, since I am a mediocre prognosticator, you may argue with my selections).  First, let’s look at projections for each of the divisions, provided by Lindy’s, Pro Football Weekly (PFW), Sporting News (SN), Athlon, and The Fugitive (me).

DIVISIONAL RACE PROJECTIONS

                              Lindy  PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
AFC EAST
                              NE      NE      NE      NE                NE   (10-6)
                              BUF    MIA    MIA    MIA              MIA (9-7)
                              MIA    BUF    BUF    NYJ              BUF  (7-9)
                              NYJ    NYJ    NYJ    BUF              NYJ  (3-13)

Comments:   Almost unanimous consensus.
                              New England has won the division 9 of the last 10 years (Miami 2008).
                              Buffalo has been sub-.500 for 8 years in a row; Miami for the last 4 years.
                              Buffalo has the longest current non-playoff streak at 13 years.

NE      Tough non-division schedule, WR/TE/RB player turnover, and off-field distractions
                    for Patriots’ players after TE Aaron Hernandez murder charges (Pats cut him).
MIA    After losing OT Jake Long, picked up four solid free agents – OT, TE, WR, and LB.
BUF    New “everything” this year; Bills are 6-24 against AFC East opponents in the last 5 years.
NYJ    QB position still unsettled; Sanchez has 52 turnovers in last 2 years (worst in NFL);      alternative is rookie 2nd round pick QB Geno Smith.  Jets do have an easy 2nd-half schedule in this season.

Sportsbook (LVH SuperBook) odds in May:

NE 1/6 (prohibitive huge favorite), MIA 5/1, BUF 10/1, NYJ 25/1

                              Lindy  PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
AFC NORTH
                              BAL    CIN    BAL    PIT               CIN (9-7)
                              CIN    BAL    CIN    CIN               BAL (8-8)
                              CLE    PIT     PIT    BAL               PIT (7-9)
                              PIT     CLE    CLE   CLE               CLE (6-10)

Comments:   No consensus at the top, but Cleveland is not getting much lovin’.                              This division has had at least 2 playoff teams in each of the last 5 seasons, including
Baltimore all 5 years, and both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh three times. Cincinnati has not had a playoff win in 22 years, the longest current NFL streak.

CIN    After 3-5 start, finished 7-1 in 2012 and made playoffs for 2nd straight year (first time since
                    1982).  Picked up free agent LB James Harrison (dropped by Pittsburgh).

BAL    Ravens only NFL team to make playoffs last 5 years, and they won Super Bowl last year.
                    Lost 4 “D” starters & picked up only 1; Baltimore has #2 toughest schedule in NFL.

PIT     Steelers started 2012 at 6-3, but QB Ben was injured and they finished 2-5 and out of playoffs.
Had net free agent losses; younger players coming in. Can QB and FS Polamalu stay healthy?

CLE    New head coach (6th in 10 years).  Browns have easiest non-division schedule in NFL.  Can
          sophomore RB Trent Richardson stay healthy?

Sportsbook odds in May:

PIT 19/10, BAL 19/10, CIN 19/10 (a toss-up with three teams at about 2 to 1), CLE 7/1

AFC                        Lindy  PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
SOUTH                   HOU   HOU   HOU   HOU              HOU (12-4)  
                              IND    IND    IND    IND              IND (7-9) tie
                              TEN   TEN    TEN    TEN             TEN (7-9) tie
                              JAX    JAX    JAX    JAX              JAX (5-11)

Comments:   Unanimous! Do they even need to play the games?  Houston is the clear favorite.
                              The HOU Texans have back-to-back division titles going into 2013, and
                              last year got their first-ever playoff win.
                              Indianapolis could threaten for division title with sophomore QB Luck.
         
HOU   Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips improves strong “D” with addition of safety Ed Reed from  Baltimore, if he is healthy (bad hip).

TEN    Head Coach Mike Munchak is a HOF offensive lineman; he rebuilt the Titans’ OL in the   
off season, and is on the hot seat to win with his fledgling QB Jake Locker.

IND    Colts improved from 2-14 to 11-5 in 2012 (2nd best in NFL history; Miami 2008 went from 1-15 to 11-5).  Head Coach Chuck Pagano led his 2012 team for four games before leaving team to battle cancer for the rest of the season.  He’s back, and Indy has the #3 easiest NFL schedule.

JAX    New coach hopes that previously stellar RB Maurice Jones-Drew is healthy & hungry this year.

Sportsbook odds in May:

HOU 2/5 (prohibitive favorite), IND 5/2, TEN 7/1, JAX 30/1
AFC                        Lindy  PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
WEST                     DEN   DEN   DEN    DEN              DEN (13-3)
                              KC      KC      KC      KC                KC    (9-7)
                              SD      SD      SD      SD                SD    (8-8)
                              OAK   OAK   OAK    OAK              OAK  (4-12)
AFC WEST
Comments:   Unanimous, so you’ve gotta believe something strange will happen this year.
Denver is the prohibitive favorite; they were 6-0 in the AFC West last year. The DEN Broncos lost (ugly) to eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore in double overtime in the playoffs.

DEN   Broncos get #1 easiest schedule in NFL.  QB Manning had second-best numbers in his career last year with his new team and after a one-year layoff.

KC      Andy Reid is the only new coach of seven with any previous NFL head coaching experience. Chiefs have a relatively soft schedule and return six Pro Bowlers from last year.

SD      New coach needs to find a way to get QB Rivers productive again after two weak years.
          The offensive line has been rebuilt, and how well it works will be one key.

OAK   The Raiders’ defense is being revamped; only 1 of last year’s front 7 returns.                   The offense will have a new QB, as Carson Palmer is gone.  Not looking good.

Sportsbook odds in May:

DEN 1/6 (prohibitive huge favorite), SD 7/1, KC 7/1, OAK 20/1

NFC             Lindy   PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
EAST            DAL    NYG   NYG   NYG             NYG (10-6)
                    WSH    DAL   DAL    DAL              DAL  (8-8)
                     PHI    WSH    PHI     PHI               PHI   (7-9)
                     NYG   PHI     WSH   WSH             WSH (6-10)

Comments:   Washington won the division last year, but QB is coming back from ACL tear.
There has not been a repeat winner of the division for the last 8 years, and amazingly a different team has won the division title the last 4 years – WSH 2012, NYG 2011, PHI 2010, and DAL 2009.

NYG   Coming off a Super Bowl win in 2011, the Giants went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
QB Manning had weakest statistical year since 2008, and should rebound.

DAL    Last year the Cowboys trailed in every game, yet managed to end up 8-8 (only 2nd time
this has been done in NFL history).  Dallas has been 6-10 ATS each of the last 3 years.

PHI     Eagles have an easy non-divisional schedule, but start the season with 3 games in 11 days,
and then play three straight road games.  New coach is bringing in up-tempo philosophy.

WSH  The ‘Skins were 5-1 in the division last year (6-0 ATS).  Even if healthy, can QB Robert
Griffin III avoid the sophomore slump?  His backup Kirk Cousins is also a sophomore.

Sportsbook odds in May:

NYG 3/2 (1.5 to 1), DAL 12/5 (2.4 to 1), WSH 12/5 (2.4 to 1), PHI 5/1
This division seems to be a tossup, and odds will likely fluctuate as the season approaches.

NFC                       Lindy  PFW    SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
NORTH                   GB      GB      GB      GB                GB   (10-6)
                              MIN    CHI     MIN    MIN              MIN (7-9) tie
                              CHI     MIN    DET    CHI               CHI  (7-9) tie
                              DET    DET    CHI     DET              DET (6-10)

NFC NORTH
Comments:   Clear consensus, at least before the games are played.
Green Bay is going for its third straight division title and fifth straight year in the playoffs in 2013.

GB     Packers have a tough schedule, but they do not have back-to-back road games all season.

MIN    Vikings have bad schedule including zero back-to-back home games and twice back-to-back
away games (including “home” game in London). Team gets younger.  Can RB Peterson excel again this year after rushing for 2,097 yards last year coming off ACL surgery?

CHI    Bears finished 10-6 last year, but missed playoffs and they fired Coach Lovie Smith.  Defensive leader LB Brian Urlacher is gone.  New coach has tough task.

DET    In 2011 Lions were 10-6 and made playoffs; last year was a disastrous 4-12.  Detroit got RB Reggie Bush in free agency and should be better, but they have a tough schedule.

Sportsbook odds in May:

GB 5/8 (better than even odds), CHI 3/1, MIN 5/1, DET 7/1

NFC                       Lindy  PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
SOUTH
                              NOR   ATL    ATL    ATL              ATL  (11-5)
                              ATL    NOR   NOR   NOR             NOR (9-7)
                              TB      CAR   CAR   TB                CAR (8-8)
                              CAR   TB      TB      CAR             TB   (7-9)

Comments:   Last year, Atlanta won the division by six games in a landslide, and won its first-ever playoff game under Head Coach Mike Smith (5 years). New Orleans’ 2012 season was disrupted by “Bountygate” and the interim head coach shuffling.  2011 head coach Sean Payton is back for this season to restore order.

ATL    Falcons have most regular season wins of NFC teams in last five years.  They filled all holes
in their roster except OL, and have a relatively easy schedule this year.

NOR   The Saints’ defense was the worst in the league last year, and new coordinator Rob Ryan (DAL) will try to change that ugly statistic in 2013.

CAR   Panthers have a non-winning record the last 7 years, but won 5 of their last 6 games in 2012. Carolina has the #1 toughest schedule in the NFL this year.

TB     Buccaneers improved from 4-12 to 7-9 last year.  Tampa Bay shored up its secondary with the free agent additions of CB Derrelle Revis (NYJ) and S Dashon Goldson (SF).

Sportsbook odds in May:

ATL 1/1 (even odds), NOR 2/1, TB 5/1, CAR 11/2 (5.5 to 1)

NFC                       Lindy  PFW   SN      Athlon           Fugitive (Record)
WEST
                              SF      SF      SEA     SF                SF   (13-3)
                              SEA    SEA    SF      SEA              SEA (10-6)
                              STL    STL    STL    STL              STL  (8-8)
                              AZ      AZ      AZ      AZ                AZ   (5-11)

NFC WEST
Comments:   San Francisco won the division only by ½ game last year over Seattle.
The 49’ers QB for 2013 started his first NFL game in Week #11 last year; 2013 will be his third year in the league. Seattle’s QB is a sophomore; St. Louis’ QB is in 4th year (1st year with same offensive coordinator).  Arizona had QB Kurt Warner through 2009, and since then has been unsuccessful.  The Cardinals’ new QB will be veteran Carson Palmer, former #1 overall draft pick by Cincinnati in 2003.

SF      The Niners return with roster nearly intact after a Super Bowl runner-up season.  They lost WR Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles tendon in May, but got WR Anquan Boldin in free agency.

SEA    Seahawks were 11-5 last year and upgraded in the offseason at WR, CB, and DL.  Can QB
Russell Wilson produce again after his stellar rookie season?

STL    Rams were 4-1-1 (6-0 ATS) in the division last year, but failed elsewhere.  They have the #2
toughest schedule in the NFL and lost their RB and other players, but upgraded in free agency     and the draft in several areas (OL, TE, WR, LB).


AZ     The Cardinals started 2012 at 4-0, but finished 1-11, so Arizona has a new coach.

Sportsbook odds in May:
SF 4/5 (0.8 to 1, better than even odds favorite), SEA 6/5 (1.2 to 1, not far behind), STL 8/1, AZ 30/1

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS- The Fugitive (ATHLON;LINDY’S) in parentheses

AFC SEEDS                      NFC SEEDS
#1 DEN (DEN;DEN)           #1 SF (SF;SF)
#2 HOU (NE;HOU)              #2 ATL (GB;GB)
#3 NE (HOU;NE)                 #3 GB (NYG;DAL)
#4 CIN (PIT;BAL)               #4 NYG (ATL;NOR)
#5 KC (CIN;CIN)                #5 SEA (SEA;ATL)
#6 MIA (IND;KC)               #6 NOR (NOR;SEA)

WILD CARD GAMES

Fugitive                             Athlon                     Lindy’s
MIA over NE                     HOU over IND         NE over KC
(Mudhens Rule!!)
CIN over KC                      PIT over CIN          BAL over CIN
GB over NOR                     NYG over NOR       ATL over NOR
SEA over NYG                   SEA over ATL         SEA over DAL

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

Fugitive                             Athlon                     Lindy’s
DEN over MIA                  DEN over PIT          DEN over BAL
CIN over HOU                   NE over HOU           HOU over NE
SF over SEA                      SF over SEA           ATL over NOR
GB over ATL                      NYG over GB          GB over SEA

CONFERENCE FINALS

Fugitive                             Athlon                     Lindy’s
DEN over CIN                   DEN over NE           DEN over HOU
SF over GB                       SF over NYG            GB over ATL

SUPER BOWL PROJECTIONS

Fugitive                             SF over DEN (guess I’m not providing any new info here; “chalk”)
Athlon                               SF over DEN (Vegas odds pick these two teams also-“chalk”)
Sporting News                   SEA over DEN
Pro FB Weekly                   SF over DEN
Lindy’s                              DEN over GB (repeat of Super Bowl XXXII)

ODDS to win Super Bowl per Bovada.lv on 6/27/13 (these odds vary depending on source):
SF 6/1, DEN 6.5/1, SEA 8/1, NE 8.5/1, GB 12/1, ATL 14/1, HOU & NOR 18/1, BAL & NYG 22/1,
PIT 25/1, CHI & CIN & DAL & PHI & WSH 33/1, DET & IND & MIA &MIN & STL 40/1, KC & SD and TB 50/1, CAR 66/1, CLE 75/1, NYJ & TEN 100/1, AZ & BUF 125/1, OAK 150/1, and JAX 200/1

OVERALL

With all of that said, every year since 2003 there has been a last-place team in at least one of the divisions to win their division the next year.  Which team might that be in 2013?
Last year I posed that same question to you, and the answer was …… . WASHINGTON, improving from 5-11 and the cellar in 2011 to 10-6 and an outright division title in 2012.  Coming close were Indianapolis (improved from 2-14 to 11-5 and missed the division title by 1 game) and Minnesota (improved from 3-13 to 10-6 and also missed their division title by 1 game).

For 2013, here are the “eight” choices: BUF/NYJ (both 6-10 last year), CLE, JAX, KC, PHI, DET, TB/NOR/CAR (all 7-9 last year), and AZ.
I suppose the popular pick out of these choices would be New Orleans to unseat Atlanta as the NFC South champion.  Philadelphia has disappointed that last two years, but has a chance in the NFC East if the new system under new head coach Chip Kelly works quickly.  Kansas City would need to top Denver.  I still think Detroit should be able to contend, but new running back Reggie Bush and a revamped OL may not be enough this year to beat out Green Bay, even if they step it up a notch.

In this category only, I’ll pick “Philadelphia” (suckered into this “Less-than-Dream Team” once again) to break out, win the division and make the playoffs.  I’d like to pick Detroit, but I believe their coach holds them back from surpassing Green Bay or Minnesota.

To revisit the strength of schedules for this year, even though the Bleacher Report relies strictly on last year’s records, these are the easiest and toughest schedules based on their compilation:
Easiest                                       Toughest
DEN                                          CAR
SD                                             DET
IND                                           NOR
OAK                                          STL
KC                                             BAL

AFC West benefits            Only 1 playoff team from 2012 2 playoff teams                           Doesn’t seem equitable; good teams get easy schedules and vice versa..

NFL RULE and COACHING CHANGES

I’ll deal with this in the last week of August.

OTHER CATCH-UP  and MINUTIA OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Results of NFL Supplemental Draft

Last year, WR Josh Gordon (Baylor, Utah, drug suspensions) was the only player taken in the Supplemental draft.  The CLE Browns grabbed him in the 2nd round.
This year, none of the 6 eligible players were drafted (3 guys were defensive linemen with athletic talent; three little guys were WR/CB with athletic talent).    All of them had off-the-field problems, mainly academic and/or the fallout from acting stupid.  One player was almost a GB Packer, but his paperwork was filled out improperly.
The summer of 2008 was the last time there were no picks made in the supplemental draft.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

The 2013 induction ceremony is on August 3rd, and the HOF Game between Dallas and Miami will be Sunday, August 4th in Canton, OH.  The seven inductees this year include four linemen, only the fourth time that has happened in history (1964, 2001, 2012).  Following are the 2013 inductees:

INDUCTEE               CAREER                                                        PRESENTER

OT/OG Larry Allen    14 years with Dallas and SF                              DAL owner Jerry Jones
Sonoma State              7 straight years as 1st Team All-Pro Selection
                                NFL All-Decade Team for 1990’s and 2000’s
                                Drafted #46 overall in 1994 by Dallas
                                Elected in first year of eligibility


DT Curly Culp           14 years (6 KC, 6 HOU Oilers, 2 DET)             Youngest son Chad
Arizona State             1960’s-70’s six-time Pro Bowler
                                #31 pick overall in 1968 NFL Draft by Denver

OT Jonathan Ogden   12 years, all with Baltimore (1996-2007)            BAL GM Ozzie Newsome
UCLA                       Elected in first year of eligibility
                                Drafted #4 overall in 1996

DT Warren Sapp       13 years, 9 with TB (1995-2003) & 4 OAK       Daughter Mercedes, I think
Miami.FL                 Elected in first year of eligibility                         (not Michael Strahan)
                               Worst endzone dance of all time – bar none
                               (…. If you saw it, you know I’m right!!)

WR Cris Carter         16 years-PHI, MIN, MIA                                  Son Duron
Ohio State                  4th round 1987 supplemental draft pick by PHI;
                                Finally elected in sixth year of eligibility, and he was humbled

OLB Dave Robinson   12 years with GB & Washington (1963-74)        Unidentified so far
Penn State                 #14 overall pick in 1963 NFL Draft by GB          (not Jerry               Sandusky)                            

Coach Bill Parcells      19 years HC; 2 Super Bowl wins (NYG)            NYG DE George Martin
                                 “Big (Fat) Tuna” took 4 teams to the playoffs
                                (NYG 8, NE 4, NYJ 3, DAL 4),
                                only coach to do that in NFL history

Not making it into the Hall of Fame yet: Jerome Bettis, Art Modell, Edward DeBartolo Jr., Michael Strahan, Charles Haley, Andre Reed, Aeneas Williams, Tim Brown (next year maybe), Kevin Greene, and Will Shields.

Cleveland Browns

The football stadium in Cleveland, OH will no longer officially be named Cleveland Browns Stadium.  Those signs on the building have been replaced with “FirstEnergy Stadium”.  The Browns had the right to sell the naming rights to the venue ever since the stadium opened in 1999.  The prior ownership (Al Lerner and then son Randy Lerner) chose not to “sell out”.  New owner Jimmy “Pilot Flying J” Haslam sold the naming rights to FirstEnergy starting with the 2013 season.

USFL

The United Football League (UFL) abruptly disappeared during its 2012 season.  As problems with that league were escalating, entrepreneurial Jaime Cuadra decided to try to resurrect the old USFL from the mid-1980’s.  He became the President and CEO and viewed this new league as complementary to the NFL (a minor league of sorts).  The league was planning to set up franchises in cities with no NFL teams, and allow players to freely transition to NFL teams if they were good enough.  Cuadra had funded about $1 million to the cause.  There was one big problem.  He embezzled most or all of those funds from two corporations; he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and to filing a false federal income tax return.  Cuadra faces up to 22 years in prison.  He quietly resigned from the USFL to “attend to personal matters”, as it was reported at the time.

Former Browns/Ravens executive Jim Bailey assumed control of the operation, and he has said the USFL now plans to return in 2014, with an eight-team league playing a 14-game schedule.

Bountygate

Less than a year after Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely from the NFL for orchestrating the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program (paying his players to injure other players, basically), he has been reinstated and has an NFL job.  Williams will be the “senior assistant for defense” for the Tennessee Titans, an organization for which he worked from 1990 to 2000.  HC Mike Munchak has known Gregg for over two decades, and is excited about what Williams can do for his team.
All of the Bountygate suspensions of players and coaches are now finished.  I hope to never bring up this subject again.

DAVID “DEACON” JONES (R.I.P.)

Deacon Jones passed away at the age of 74 on June 3, 2013. 

Jones' NFL career started in 1961, when he was selected in the 14th round (186th overall) by the Los Angeles Rams out of Mississippi Vocational (now known as Mississippi Valley State). Jones spent his first 11 seasons in Los Angeles, where he teamed with Merlin Olsen, Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier and Lamar Lundy to form "The Fearsome Foursome" -- one of the most famous defensive lines in NFL history. Jones was selected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls with the Rams (1964 through 1970) and eight overall.
Olsen died in March 2010 at age 69, and Lundy died in February 2007 at age 71. Grier, who is 80, is now the only surviving member of "The Fearsome Foursome."

Jones was a Hall of Fame defensive end who was famous not only as a member of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome, but he mastered the “head slap” move (when it was still legal) to get past offensive linemen and sack opposing QB’s.  He was sacking quarterbacks before the league started keeping track of that statistic; otherwise he may hold the all-time record (but we’ll never know for sure).

He was also credited with creating the term “sack” to refer to tackling the QB behind the line of scrimmage.  Here is one version of the story, as told by former NFL coach Marv Levy, who at the time was an assistant under head coach George Allen in Washington D.C. (Deacon played his final season in 1974 for the ‘Skins):
“George was talking the night before in the team meeting about playing the Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback, Craig Morton.  The term [sack] had never been used.  It was always, ‘Tackle the QB for a loss’.  But the night before the game, George goes, ‘Before we play those Dallas Cowboys, we’re going to take that Morton salt and pour him into a sack’.  That was the inspiration for it.”
Jones then ran with that pep talk and in many circles is credited with coining the term “sack”.

NFL GAMES FOR WEEK ONE

Thursday                Kickoff 2013  8:30PM Eastern
Sept 5th                  Baltimore (+7h) at Denver  2012 playoff rematch; Super Bowl Champ usually   opens at home, but there was schedule conflict with Orioles BB
                                                                     
Sunday                   Early Divisional Matchups:
Sept 8th                  New England (-7) at Buffalo
                              Atlanta (+2h) at New Orleans       Sets the tone for NFC South
                              Minnesota (+3) at Detroit
                              Arizona (+6) at St. Louis
                              NY Giants (+3) at Dallas              Sets the tone for NFC East

Other interesting matchups:

                              Green Bay (+5) at San Francisco Preview of 2013 NFC Championship Game??

                              The rest of the games:
                              Tennessee (+6h) at Pittsburgh
                              Tampa Bay (-1) at NY Jets
                              Kansas City (-2h) at Jacksonville
                              Cincinnati (+3h) at Chicago
                              Miami (-1) at Cleveland
                              Seattle (-3h) at Carolina
                              Oakland (+7) at Indianapolis
                             
Monday Double Header     Philadelphia (+5) at Washington (7PM Eastern)
Sept 9th                          Houston (-3h) at San Diego (10:15PM Eastern)



QUIZ QUESTION

QUESTION #1:  The Chicago Bears retired TE Mike Ditka’s #89, the fourteenth jersey number retired by the Bears, an NFL record for one team.  Two other major sports teams have retired more jersey numbers than Da Bears.  Who are they?
HINT: This one is not that difficult; both are teams from other major sports besides football.











ANSWER #1
The Boston Celtics of the NBA have retired 21 numbers.
The NY Yankees have retired 15.
I could give you the lists of names, but please Google for the complete answer.

Speaking of retired numbers, the Green Bay Packers will not retire Brett Favre’s #4 during the 2013 season (“according to sources”), but it will probably happen in a future year.  He and the team are presumably trying to reconcile.

No word yet on whether his number will be retired:

Former QB Donovan McNabb will announce his retirement at a Philadelphia home game this season, probably in September when the Kansas City Chiefs come to town with their new HC Andy Reid.  [Editorial comment: Everyone else knew before McMuffin that he was effectively retired].  Reid was McNabb’s head coach for all eleven years that Donovan was the starting QB for the Eagles (1999 through 2009).  McNabb was 92-49-1 as the starter in those 11 years, and led his team to six NFC East Division titles.  The Eagles appeared in five NFC Championship games, but won only one of those conference title games, earning the right to play in Super Bowl XXXIX (a loss to NE 24-21) after the 2004 season.  He ended his career with ugly stints in Washington and Minnesota.