The NFL Needs To Expand By 8

It has now been submitted, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, to purchase the London historic Wembley stadium. Why is this move? Well – I wrote it YEARS ago that they’ve been the selected team to relocate to the British capital, Have you seen how it all began by a single game turning into more and more games being staged in the UK? With always the Jags doing one of those, and whose cheerleader team has been visiting other British cities too, to create a ‘homie’ feeling. But, should the Jaguars be relocated? No.

It has been signs like these, staging more and more games, and others. I have seen it coming, and as a wee reminder, I’ve also said that Brexit would be happening before it was even put on the public agenda. I’ve got eyes, I oberve. I’ll make another bold claim: the Queen will invite the US to take part in the Commonwealth games soon. That might be when Trump comes over this summer but it could be in a couple of years from now. It hangs around the Brexit trading deal with the States,

And oh, Prince Harry to marry an American next Saturday, by the way.

It’s all on the same path, because there are also plans (I’ve only tweeted it rarely, but during the last general elections it was briefly said again) to establish both a NBA (should be expanded with 2 franches, London the west and ‘who’ at the east conference) and also a MLB franchise in London. A fun irony is that, just few days after writing this part of my article, it has been announced that the [former Olympic] London stadium will be hosting 2 baseball games next year.

Now, there are a few more interesting bits. The new stadium of Tottenham Hotspur FC has been specially designed in order to host American football games. They reached an agreement with the NFL to have one game per season for the upcoming 10 years, which could become a Jags game. The reason why I suggest this is because I’ve read somewhere in which Mr Khan quickly commented that “the futurue of the Jaguars lays in Jacksonville”. That indeed, and what my article is about, indicates setting up a British own new franchise.

Yes, I have advocate it before, that the NFL needs to expand to 40. The size of the American continent is WAY more bigger than that of the European continent, yet in Europe there are hundreds of ‘soccer’ (the biggest sport, which why I take this as comparison) teams generating hundreds of millions which shows that multi teams can do a good and profitable business.

Although I’ve not heard about this yet, the new Tottenham stadium could become even more interesting: a next phase in which a COLLEGE football team will be established! In Dublin several college games has been staged since 2012, although infrequent due of a very poor locally run organisator, but they have been very popular. The Irish capital has therefore become an interesting market to possible also establish the similar. Creating a competative rivalry down the isles.

I’m very grateful that many Americans, Canadians and others have agreed that London deserves a franchise of its own. One which reflects its own traditional cultures. During the folded European NFL league there were the Monarchs (1991 – ’98). As a personal favourite I’d like the tenue to be that of Beefeaters: black helmet, red shirt, black trousers. Now, let me show you the expansion idea.

The Setup

Now this is interesting, below an idea to which teams could be added – and where they’d fit in. This can of course still be shuffled around and/or other locations can be identified.

East

North

South

West

Buffalo Bills

Baltimore Ravens

Houson Texans

Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins

Cincinetti Bengals

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

NY Jets

Pittsburg Steelers

Tennessee Titans

LA Chargers

Toronto, Canada

Columbia, OH

San Antonio, TX

Oakland. CA

East

North

South

West

Dallas Cowboys

Chicago Bears

Atlanta Falcons

Arizona Cardinals

NY Giants

Detroit Lions

Carolina Panthers

LA Rams

Philadelphia Eagles

Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Seattle Seahawks

London, UK

St Louis, MO

Birmingham, AL

Portland, OR

UPDATE: My original writing stated: The selectes cities including two new Canadian franchises. It would be interesting to spark some rivalry and both could fit in with interesting local clashes. I named two in the west, as I do not know which of Vancouver or Calgary has the strongest [possible] market. – I was kindly put to the attention that Portland, Oregon, has a natural rivalry with Seattle and that would ‘lit’ the division well. Coming to my article, I can’t see beyond 40 teams, so a second Canadian team doesn’t look the most likely.

San Antonio is of course a logical pick because a) they want a NFL team for a long time now and b) it would please the Rita LeBlanc, Jeff Duncan and others who are eager to relocate the Saints to Texas. Never will that happen, so this would please all. St Louis and Oakland needs to have their teams back, and as mentioned above London deserves their own fresh from scratch team.

The choice for Birminham, Alabama, is because they love their college football, and no doubt they’ll be excited to be part of a strong southern rivalry division. Columbia Ohio seems to be a logical choice as well. Mexico could also be considered, as they’ve hosted games too over the years.

I’m interested in your opinion and welcome your debate! I’d love to update this article in the future adding your feedback [at the bottom] when they come.

Added Games & Bye Reshuffle

My original writing: There will be, in the regular season, 2 new added games: the double with the new division rival. In order to fulfill this the preseason needs to start one week sooner, and that there are 3 games instead of the current 4 games. This shouldn’t be seen as a problem.

Now the thing about the playoffs, though. Currently the top seed is as we know getting the first week off before they enter the stage. Home field advantage will of course not be touched, but the multi millionairs might start crying that their week off needs to be cut.

There will be another interesting bit: with the expansion to 5 teams in a division, you can’t stick to the current 6 [only] playoffs qualifiers per conference. It needs to become 8, the top 2 from each division. This to avoid it will become a ‘to the elite only’, and that’s important. But: thus this would mean all need to start straight away, with the number 1 seed (home field advantage) hosting seed 8 etc until the Super Bowl.

In order to satisfy the loss of the first week off, I have been thinking about the ‘bye week’ system and how to deliver some compensation. The structure I’ve thought of is that after week 5, there will be enough to rank all teams from top to bottom. The lowest ranked teams will get the first bye, and every week after that the remaining will be again compared and so on until the top x listed teams to get the last slot at the beginning of December.

UPDATE: One of the replies was a good suggestion: to only have 2 preseason games (and with the training camps etc enough practice is taking place for months) which would make it possible to have TWO bye weeks! This would work out the best way [indeed] to get the playoffs to start instantly as I wrote.

And as I finished my article before: I’m excited about your responds to this, and also any excuses why the expansion should not take place. To repeat myself again – check for example the English Premier League of soccer, and the European Champions League.

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So The Saints Were In London

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Well, there it was! New Orleans Saints visited London and recorded a very good shutout win ‘away at’ Miami Dolphins – who had given up a home game in return for hosting a future Super Bowl final. It did end up differently for me than I was hoping for, but as previously written: after months of Rita LeBlanc [part of the Saints] intimidations towards ANYONE who wanted to organize a London based event, or simply to stage an interview, with me resulted that the week was ‘taken away from me’. See here my previous article that sums it all up ‘nicely’.

For those who think I only have picked Jay Romig his name from out of the air, click on the name and you’ll see I definitely have been handed his email address (enjoy yourself). Ignoring me and intimidating others on the road, and this all because I have my own blog and an own opinion. Noticeable that if my writings, including tweets on Twitter, were ‘unfundamental’ they wouldn’t be so aggressive in their behavior.

Rita LeBlanc

Part of the Saints visiting week was that I would meet Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com , which was something I dearly looked forward to, as I have wondered a few things about his journalism. Freedom to write opinions, yet: with the power struggle between owner Tom Benson and his granddaughter Rita LeBlanc I got aware that Duncan had choosen sides. Below an overview.

On Jan 22 2015 Rita LeBlanc announced a lawsuit against her grandfather Tom Benson that he was ‘incompitent’ to control both the New Orleans Saints and NBA franchise Pelicans. A more detailed overview of that lawsuit can be seen HERE. The original plan was that Mr Benson’s only remaining daughter of 3 would get 60%, grandson Ryan 20% and Rita the other remaining 20%.

When Mr Benson discovered that Rita had moved half the administration over to San Antonio, who since 2008 already have a SA Saints youth development team by the way, Benson fired her from the Saints and scraped her and the two other mentioned out of his will. Saints belong to New Orleans and no place else.

SA Saints Logo

With SA feeling ‘burned’ (Feb 21 2015, *wink wink*) because they could not (2005) move the franchise over on a permanent base after the team had to move away for a season due of the hurricane Katrina damage, and also because they have failed to tempt the Oakland Raiders to come over (they are now Las Vegas bound), the city still has a very desperate desire to have a NFL team of their own.

Jeff Duncan

It is well known that a large chuck of Saints employees took side of Rita, as Tom is of course way older and in order to secure your job to be safe after the relocation they now also know THEY will be on the firing line when their secret double agenda will come out. One of them is a journalist who since that lawsuit was filed in became ‘a bit’ anxious.

Duncan reports about an ’emotional clash’ (physical attack) by Rita on Mr Benson and his wife Gayle on Dec 21 [2014] – but only writes about it on Feb 28. Funny when dozens have witnessed it it takes two months before mentioned it – and of course over a month after the lawsuit was submitted.

It took a few months but on June 12 (all still in 2015) Duncan reports “The Saints aren’t going anywhere regardless of which Benson owns team” which, as I already wrote, is a blatant lie because a) the reason LeBlanc was fired and b) the lawsuit in order to push through her planned relocation. Being a lot taking place behind the scenes, time passing by with tipping fingers on the dest awaiting the development.

Things seem to be ‘not working’ as planned and on Dec 28 Duncan started a campaign “Should Tom Benson sell the Saints/Pelicans?” in which he hosted a live chat with readers. A smart move to seek views by others (not mine, of course) to gain some info that might help his ‘master’ Rita with ‘new ideas’.

Skipping the calendar again, it is getting obvious that Team Rita are on the losing side, and so is Jeff. In a fiersy article on Aug 17 [2016] Duncan attacks Tom Benson with “Selling Saints, Pelicans the greatest gift Tom Benson can give to New Orleans”. Ehm, really? We all know how important the Saints is both to the local pride of an own football team but also the HUGE economical impulse the sports are generating to the wide region. Selling Saints means ‘welcome to Texas’ as a result, and that can’t be allowed to happen.

On Feb 4 of this year, Mr Benson has agreed a settlement which reads “a winning proposition for the city and people of New Orleans and fans of the Saints and Pelicans everywhere”, which means the ownership will be passed on from Mr Benson (90) to his wife Gayle (70) with from there a further new structure to be worked on so that teams will remain where they are now.

Being of course well into it, I very cheeky tried to get in touch with Rob Ryan, who was sacked in 2015 (and just read the article again if interested). My signed for letter was received but sadly no response received. Why did I wrote him a letter? If someone knows the interior of the Saints [during that period] and could be very useful in order to clean the franchise up, it is him. That’s my opinion. And I do know that it is a giant wasps nest within the organisation – see their use of aggression to anyone who wants to get involved with me. Oh dear! (Am I overreacting? No. People who have followed me all year long and read my previous blog posts + tweets know).

London

Prior to the ‘in London’ week I decided to block Duncan, as I already realised that he has a spine of an Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl lead. As see below the communication I had with him, who has since his last Twitter private message (June 22) fully ignored me.

So: the Team Rita journalist, as you can clearly see, he has even silenced my tribute article to Dusty. Not even showing a slightest bit of respect.

Now that Duncan has been put on his place I wish to tell about the Saturday, Sept 30, in which I had taken a Dusty photo with me to ‘bring her to London’, as that I promised her when the announcement of the Miami fixture was officially moved to the British capital.

As people [my followers on Twitter and so do some locals where I live] know I’m still missing Dusty, with a lot of her friends we keep in touch and as a unity we fight for justice to happen. When I arrived in the centre of London I first went to the Waterloo area. After two coffees I went up to cross the River Thames and made my way to Piccadilly Circus, on the bottom of Regent Street. What warmed me was many people were looking at the picture and many smiled and some even thumb up to show appreciation. They might not know her story, they could see me in my Saints coat on a mission.

It got quite close to me: home (New Orleans) came home (London and I started to feel emotional. I moved away via Soho (another coffee) and ended up near Highbury & Islington several hours later sipping all but alcohol (I’ve quit a while ago) with people even coming by to ask about the picture and I also had some long chats as well. I’ve kept my promise and I hope Dusty her family and friends feel proud and most of all supported I spoke with my heart.

Saints So Far/Remembering Dusty

Saints Preseason (only friendlies)

Last Sunday, after falling to a defeat away to Cleveland Browns, the Saints booked a solid win away to Los Angelas Chargers. Having seen their previous game, and definitely the coaches have as well, instant pressure was put towards their O-line and QB which resulted in an instant collapse. This might break the Chargers up all season if they can’t solve their woeful QB protection.

What also was a thingy is that the Chargers always decided to run the ball via the SAME way at almost every play when on the attack. However it was of course a very good and interesting workout for the D-line, blocking and forcing errors a lot. And the amount of sacks and hits were fantastic!

The Saints offense had also something to cheer about: there is a lot of debt in the Running Back (RB) chart, as well with receivers. With Kamara being highly impressive so far, Thomas, Victor and Edmunds let themselves count as well. I definitely look forward to the next game, home vs the Houston Texans Saturday having such hungry creativity on board,

One downfall was the lack coming for the QBs. Nassib looks to be the first to be cut, and although Chase Daniel looks to become Drew Brees his backup, it stands the Saints only recorded 10 points in the first half, after the Seahakws had demolished the Chargers by 34 [by half time] the week before.

Saints in London

Until after the wonderful week to come, starting at the end of September, I won’t be posting. Unless something big happens regarding the Saints. It will be special as apart from meeting friends and fellow Saints fans, I am also very much looking forward to meeting Jeff Duncan of nola.com – who is leading a 3 person team regarding the game in the British capital. As recently written, Jeff – like I do – enjoys asking critical questions, and this is of course needed to provocate the mind. (Hence my comment: ‘his job’ in my previous afticle!). It will be really great meeting each other face to face and to discuss many subjects regarding the Saints, the city and the wide region plus of course the [future of] the NFL in general as well.

Remembering Dusty

Justice For Dusty

Today it’s Tuesday Aug 22 – it has been exactly one year ago that our friend Dusty Lee Ann Lawless gone to heaven with the Angels. I am certain everyone has noticed the #JusticeForDusty in my profile name, and to those who don’t know who she is I will explain.

Dusty (only 41) comes from the region of New Orleans, and was always known to be bubbly, cheerful and most of all loving for her two sons and towards others. Her genuine nature made her create true friendships and everyone loved to know her.

Here is what happened. Still hearbroken: she has been murdered by her boyfriend Justin Wayne Smilth (from Denham Springs). She was only 4’11 and he a macho ‘boy’ of 6’3 tall, who ‘enjoyed’ being a bully to others. Dusty wouldn’t be Dusty is she didn’t believe in the good side of him, or anyone in fact. Her personality made people look at things on a positive way. So why not with him as well?

Domestic violence strangely enough remains a taboo. The statistics are worrying. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have became victim at least once in their life. And the shocking stat that 1 woman per 3 days dies due of being beaten up is plainly awful. This NEEDS to be tackled and it is very important that if you, or anyone, notices a sign of abuse to report it! As you notice: not only family but also friends are still loving Dusty and will remember her forever for the fact we were blessed to have her in our lives. It is not only me from the UK who thinks of her, many more. It shows how far she reached and why we are standing still together.

Her spirit will always continue to be with us.

And in the name of Dusty some final words towards Justin…

Dusty 1.png

Life Options

Life works on mysterious ways. A known saying. Life finds a way – a powerful universal thing when you set yourself open to it. Discipline is a key, to not seek revenge no matter what someone has done to you. That life can be cruel is a fact, but life can also be something so beautiful as well.

Being at 36 I have come to peace with things from the past. No need to dig out memories, as I have changed my way of life and most of all kept the discipine – although at stages it was hard – to stamp my mark on providing something positive. By showing the will to live, to spread ‘little’ things like gaining happiness out of music, or funny pictures/anekdotes. By showing interest in others their interests which can lead to surprising new ideas! Or ‘as simple as’ sports rivalry – too many are tired of hating others their team love. No rivalry no sport, life’s too short for that.

Life can be tremendous cruel as mmentioned. With me being a dual cancer survivor, I always hope my power to beat it motivates others. You’re never alone is together with sending prayers a powerful form of solidarity. I do struggle at stages seeing others not being as fortunate as I was. And sometimes I do am taking a few things ‘too personal’ as well. Because I feel and believe I could take more out of my life – but I do not always know how or if possible. Disability does works against me.

Nouri

People might have by now heard about it. A few weeks ago a soccer player of Ajax Amsterdam went on the field as a substitude in a preseason game and shortly after collapsed. He needed long treatment by club doctors and needed to be urgently airlifted to a hospital. He was prenounced with seriously brain damage that will never be possible to heal. Only 20 years old, and life is over. That quite hit me hard – which is why I looked at my own life to see what I value the most. Nouri will never be able to tell his family ‘I love you’ again, and although I am a Feyenoord fan, like every decent human being you are solidair because this could happen to anyone. Including you and me.

I have grown into someone I always believed in. It might be simple but I really enjoy the social interactions on Twitter, the so much fun already in the last couple of years and the true friendships I have gained and I have given as well! The direct communication worldwide is impressive and it pleases me to have found many like minded people who also like respect and fun while engaging their mobile phones.

It is by that than logical I feel the love to harvest from where I stand. To travel to the States is there, to move over is of course too early to call – although I did have indicated that a few times. What I had not realized was that saying such a thing could have felt as a ‘pressure’, although I never intended that. Certain emotions are new to me, because I live in a very cool society, many friends and they only recently told me to ‘please not move away’. It warms my heart.

Punching Above My Weight

This a something I do not always know, and I am learning from as well. Again, I am 36 and like we all have our ups and downs, with for me personally I feel life is now at a stable position. I feel the love for New Orleans – but a potential move over comes definitely too soon. How things will be in 5 or 10 years from now? Impossible to tell as we live in the now and I know my next steps are here locally first. I could do provide something here in London, in order to help gaining more tourists flying over to the Big Easy. Punching above my weight? I know I can’t do it on my own, indeed, but I do have a good, clear vision and an idea which I feel is realistic.

The Saints in London are due at end of September, and I will be there. I will be meeting many great people and it should be so exciting when you see each other face to face! That helps the most because only chatting by text still has a (wee) barrier around it. Do not forget to wave back at me by the way when you see me on TV with my Saints coat on, hehe. But I will geaux with the flow and enjoy the epic week coming.

I do not feel any pressure over me, I do have noticed only recently some saw me demanding too much from myself, however.

Now: soccer is of course a secondary, as you see the 20 year old guy who’s gone and will not return. Ajax suffered too many emotions and that is simply human. My point is that they should had given the standing ovation at 7:34pm (34 Nouri his squad number), 10 minutes before the game, and not on the 34th minute of the game. You ease the pressure, instead they build it up. On the other hand: it is all about looking at what you want to do next in life, what is most important and to bin the irrelevant things. The hope is to live for another couple of decades, not a couple of seconds.

Future of the Saints, and in London

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Having previously written that I was (cheeky) interested to see the trade value of Saints legend Drew Brees, as teams like Browns, Chargers etc, could have been willing to give up a top seed. This thought of course for the team to draft some good defensive additions – I am definitely delighted Drew now looks to retire in N’Awlins, having still a few more seasons on offer. This on its own is a boost, especially if a guy like Johnny Manziel (24) could be added on a free and to get schooled by Brees. It’s correct that Chase Daniel (30) already has been signed on a one-year-deal, yet Manziel would be a proper long term replacement.

It’s a funny world, the NFL. Previously I wrote about my plea of adding 8 more franchises, the sport works differently than soccer. Europe is way smaller than the States, yet it has many more sports teams who are making a multi-millions of profit – so there is a market. Especially if London gets its own franchise, Canada gets two teams (Vancouver or Calgary west, Montreal east), St Louis and San Diago to return their football and a new one in Texas, San Antonio for example.

But, I wanted to mention the following.

Coming to ‘soccer’, you are not permitted to approach a player without his club’s permission. Your assistant/scout goes to a player, asks for the contact details of their agent and then you can talk about potential interest of moving over. With the agent on his own can talk to the present club. Things remain behind closed doors and it’s a year long kay-merry-go-round, which I find is fun. In American football, if you (if or if not coincidentally) meet a free agent player, the press is straight away on top of it. That’s the side effect of only 32 teams, I suppose. When Payton was asked about his Manziel meeting it should had been a short reply as in “we just bumped against each other”, and not “I wanted to know how his recovery was going”. This by the way definitely no intention to snap at Mr Payton, as he’s well experienced at the top level – I only show the difference in sports worlds.

Saints in London

It’s there on the agenda: New Orleans Saints going to play the Miami Dolphins at the historical Wembley stadium in North London. There will be a massive number of FOUR games this season – purely preparing for an own franchise as that’s already secured, but who to relocate? An own franchise – that what the entire NFL fan nation has already agreed with is that the UK capital, and the fans, deserve. It was only half an hour after the official announcement that I received a follow and a private message (after I followed back) by Dani De La Vega who has hosted several NFL teams before with his Latino Heat company, and his website is showing some great successful events in the past.

Being very flattered and honoured, we already met a few days later in South London. It was a good conversation and we decided to meet each other again two weeks later in central London, in which I told him a few ideas that I came up with. Dani wants some ‘super fans’ to come over, like The Whistle Man for example but there are so many more great – I can’t name them all. With me being very close by heart to New Orleans I wanted to BRING the city to London. I suggested to work together with the Tourist Board (who I know via twitter) and to invite a local brass band over. When the open deck bus parade would take place, you could honestly quadruple the attention due of the music as people could ‘touch’ the local vibe – and that together with a tourist promotion team to generate potential new visitors!

Team Tom/Team Rita

One thing I warned Dani about was the current situation, in which as we know, there has been some legal fights in order who would be allowed to have full control of the Saints. It is of course known I belong to ‘team Tom’ as he has invested a lot into the city and wide area, providing hope and an economical impulse with definitely after Katrina many know how important that is. Mr Benson has now, together with the NBA franchise the Pelicans, secured a long term stay. Fantastic!

I was given (via someone I know in New Orleans) the name and email address of Jay Romig of the Saints, in order to ask him about who their tour operator is – as Dani works best directly via them to shape the best possible event for a team’s London visit. I’ve sent him twice an email, but both have been completely ignored. So, Mr Romig is either ‘too good’ (as he’s a big man at a big team) towards me, or the facts I’ve exposed Jimmy Graham in 2014 (who has used the legal tool: right to be forgotten on search engines to wipe it under the carpet) or my questions regarding the Rob Ryan sacking in 2015 (which is a must read! to understand the bigger picture, and it painfully showed I was correct last season), were not ‘liked’ why some wish to take away the Saints in London event away from me. I don’t like mind games and if I am wrong I raise my hand and correct myself, as I am always open for a mature adult debate.

However, it is now over two months and I have been completely silenced by all three mentioned. A bit strange, when you realize that the City of New Orleans have agreed (for the first time since 1982) to have a direct non-stop connection with London – which of course would mean you grab every chance in order to promote the region, local companies and so much more. So, how come? I do not blame the tourist board myself, as I spoke to several people and all were very excited about my proposals. Especially because I know the capital and the UK too of course, so I could be very useful connection to represent ‘my city’ (it is well known by now that my old soul comes from the Big Easy). Which is a dream of mine and why I wrote this article.

Last season journalist Jeff Duncan wrote an article directly towards Mr Benson to ‘sell the Saints for the team and the city their sake’ (read: his job), in which Mr Benson publicly attacked him after a game’s press conference regarding his remarks. You only have to look at that to see there’s a serious issue as the top of the ‘company’ Saints. I’m quite sure that Mr Romig wouldn’t sacrifice a potential big money booster coming to the UK and Irish NFL market in order to ‘get even’ with me (which means, rancour) for DARING to give a view? As mentioned: I observe and there is only one thing on heart: the team, the city. But I don’t claim to be Mr Knows-it-all.

During the years I was still scouting for Aberdeen FC, coming to Dutch soccer players, I invested quite a lot of time into knowing the Scottish city. Google maps and its street view are simply very useful, definitely when an area is still (widely) unknown. It was one day when I was at the club the manager told me they had an invitation to play games over in China… (this was 2007 if I remember correctly) “Incredible, we instantly told them ‘no'” – I faced him and the chairman and told both the following, because I knew WHY they had been contacted. There is an area in Hong Kong named after Aberdeen, and they felt it would be honourable if the original Aberdeen would come over for a couple of days. “You could had taken the entire club shop with you and sell out. Even establish a fan shop, sell the live TV rights of games and return once per 2 years to establish a commercial cash flow”. They never knew this, and instead of recontacting them “sorry, we were booked full, how about next summer?” they never looked back at it… Ah well, you sometimes can’t fix stupid.

Jimmy Graham Must Have Forgotten His Roots (2014)

I have published this article about 2 years ago (2014) at the great website of Saints Tailgate (opens in a new window)- and with Jimmy Graham his return to New Orleans I have decided to re-publish my article. but which I only plan to ‘promote’ on Twitter (today) Saturday and pre-game Sunday.

I know that this is a sensitive subject, and I might get some angry faces into my direction. But ask yourself this: Would you forget the history of where you started, and how far you’ve come? I am going to compare an interview of 2006, that is eight years ago, with the current Saints situation with Jimmy Graham.

Jimmy has generated a cult hero status in recent years; he’s known by his dunks after a touchdown which is now his ‘trademark’ and he’s loved by truly countless fans. Many young children around us are loving his strong ‘no nonsense’ approach in the game. Jimmy’s an admirable hero, but… There’s another side of the coin, a sad one.

From Jimmy’s true confessions: “Yes, that’s what it felt like. No hope, love or future. Scuffling for a dime and struggling for scraps at the age of 13″.

That was a quote from an old interview after his birth mother made it clear towards him that ‘he wasn’t in her future plans’. She only wanted one child, was disgracefully cruel, and it was little Jimmy who became ‘disqualified’. Such an extremely sad situation, as every single child deserves unlimited loving and the fullest protection. A child deserves a future with at least some genuinely provided hope and understanding.

Continuing: “I had to fight for something to eat. All my clothes were in a black garbage bag. I cried myself to sleep. I’ve been through some bitterness.”
And all Jimmy Graham wanted was someone to listen. Now it seems that he looks to his agent for that, and then Jimmy listens to him like he was the daddy he never knew. As mentioned it was 2006 when that interview took place. The young man who was then still unknown, living in poverty, and who would know he would grow out to be a highly admired athlete? 
That was about when Jimmy’s life started to turn around. His birth mother didn’t have a dog in that race; it was an over-worked, under-paid woman who had trouble even taking care of her own self. Yet somehow she still found room in her life for Jimmy. Graham recalled the early days with Becky Vinson, who took him in off the street:

She was so determined. She pushed me even though it was tough on her. She was poor, hard up for money, had a little kid and was trying to get through college. But I saw her, and I was inspired. I never had someone commit to me like that.” 

Ok, here is when I start to get upset. The WhoDat Nation came behind Becky, and the love we showered on him was more than he ever could have dreamed of. Still, it doesn’t seem to be enough to the kid. In my humble opinion dead presidents pale beside the type of unconditional love Jimmy has gotten from the Saints fans.

The interview continues, and the heart-broken youngster recalls the amazing moment that he was not on his own any longer. He even briefs that Ms Vinson was living in poverty herself, a very strange contrast to the current situation that a $9m a year contract “is not good enough“. Yes, you can argue about ‘guaranteed money’, but the fact remains that Graham never has to live like a dimeless 13 year old again.

That was very hard for me because I never opened up to anyone when I was a little kid. I didn’t care about anyone. I was very protective. I had a lot of people who ran over me, used me. By that age, I was smart enough to not let it happen again. And Becky was asking some questions that were very penetrating questions about how I was feeling.”

The first true cracks of irony are now showing up. I understand Graham though for his ‘people run all over me – now it’s time to show zero emotions/mercy’. Hell, I’ve been stepped on, kicked around and cyber bullied myself. But Ms Vinson wasn’t the only one who believed in the young star. The interview continues:
Carlos Perelta (Abundant Life church pastor) took me under his wing and taught me to go back to the basics. He saw something in me no one else did.”

Is a bell starting to ring here? Jimmy had yet more support from coach Frank Haith.
“I don’t think he’ll ever forget where he came from, and I think it will always be motivation for him. I tell him to stop looking at the bench because I think he wants to please everyone so badly. I want him to play and have fun. He wants people to be happy about what he’s doing. It’s a great trait, but he’ll be better if he’s not playing with that stress.”

Yet the current New Orleans Saints offer still isn’t ‘good enough’. It’s getting a bit painful to me now. Than came the Who Dat Nation who welcomed Graham with open arms. We listened to his story and gave him unconditional, unlimited love and understanding.
Jimmy recounted a story of being in the back seat of a van with the kids from the orphanage and being beaten until his eyes were swollen shut. Extremely sad this. As mentioned: no kid should be living like that. Yet no kid who’s been there should forget where he/she came from.

For me there’s now only one question that I would love to ask Jimmy: Is the current multi-million dollars a year contract that has been offered to you really not good enough? You’ve been a player who, now let’s be honest, folded at the end of last season when he had to deliver but could not. Also: With the WhoDat Nation now in the back seat of your van has all our love been forgotten?
I am convinced there will be some people now claiming I have been ‘harsh’ on Graham, and/or I should not have brought certain aspects into the conversation. Some say ‘a sporting career can be from a short period of time – so he may ask ‘all he wants’. I dispute this myself in full. I’m living on a mere $175 a week. Nice enuf money to eat with, and keep my basics. Things are tight but I’m alive. 

This is the result of my being disabled. All lives are different and some are more fortunate than others. But for Graham $175 is something he ‘earns’ in a MINUTE. Don’t tell me that he ‘deserves more’ while he should be praising the Lord for the money he already has on his bank account, just saying. Not just me but many more like me are struggling just to survive. Graham has the blessing of an amazing talent, however he seem to have forgotten those roots.
This is truly a shame. I wish Jimmy the best, and genuinely hope he’ll come to terms with his past, see the present for what it is, and realize being ungrateful for your blessings isn’t a step forward.

jgscreenshot Jimmy his reply after reading my article…

The NFL should expand to 40 teams, and a few things more

There are a few things that amazes me. Being from the UK ‘soccer’ football has so many more teams than the American football NFL has – this while the continent is way more larger in scale than the whole of the European continent combined! You can’t genuine tell me that, although college football is more popular compared to the NFL, which I learned, you can’t add 8 more franchises to gain more excitement.

It is realistic, and I will try to find the 8 new franchises. This, I do wish to include an open debate so please reply per tweet of as a reaction under this article to, together, seek where it would be interesting. I might make some wrong suggestions, but being non-American I can’t know it all. Although I am very hungry coming to this amazing game.

First: give St Louis their team back. The re-relocation I can understand, however not towards the local fans who are hard done.

Second: give Lor Angeles an entire new franchise, perhaps paired with a local NBA or MLB team name, for example.

Third: it’s the worst kept secret as Jacksonville Jaguars are the selected team to become the new London team per 2018. The Jacksoneville fans do not deserve this, so an entire new franchise to arise in London would be the best solution. Helmets black, jersey top red and shorts black – Beafeaters – a genuine local tradition used which would be cool.

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Above a picture of the already set up home stadium, which Tottenham Hotspurs FC are building, but with agreement by the NFL as they will host the new American football team.

London will also gain a NBA and a MLB franchise too. I’ve said it years ago, the UK would leave Europe and become part of the USA. For some reason I knew.

Cool, we are now with 3 and I will try to seek 5 more franchises, You have to keep in mind it’s only about 2 more regular season games, both being the division. You can compensate it by taking away 1 pre-season fixture. Yet, being it multi millions of Dollars players earn a few extra games shouldn’t be an issue. Let’s compare it with ‘soccer’, only 3 months off while NFL is 7 months. So, why complain?

Fourth teams (a proper suggestion) could be Las Vegas. Being it a multi millionaire area it’s quite odd no NFL team is yet playing there. This one should work.

Fifth: Homerton, Alabama. I am well aware that college football is more popular, and Alabama is definitely impressive coming to commitment to that. Might a NFL franchise add to the excitement? I choose Homerton based on the map I’ve been looking at, my main aim is Alabama.

Sixth, Seventh and Eight I would love you to help me with. I do know certain metropoles enjoying college football but which areas would benefit the most from a new added NFL franchise? Someone has suggested a franchise in Scotland – to spice up some rivalry with London. Dublin has for a longer time been hosting a college football game, and to my knowledge (being the fact that they’re educating American football in the UK and Ireland for a couple of years already) they will enter the university football program soon,

To compensate the 5 teams divisions, all 8 division winners will play against all 8 2nd placed teams. To make certain that top 2 will reach the pays off it would indeed take away the ‘week off’ from the 1st and 2nd seeded teams – yet, it’s a compromise being it a multi million Dollars game. 8th seeded plays away at 1st, 7th away at 2nd etcetera.

Penalties

There are a few things that I question about recent changes coming to rules. Of course, it’s developing and you need to move along the time. But, not all changes are benefiting the beautiful sport.

Pass Interference is, together with ‘holding’, the most common called foul. It’s not justified to instantly give a 10 yard penalty due of the frequent nature of the (easily given) foul. If you are 1 & 10 and than get 1 & 20 due of a given error, you already know that it’s time to punt before the drive has even started. 1 & 15 is less difficult, as it has less of an emotional baggage. Therefore both should be a 5 yard penalty to give it a better flow of game play.

When a game, or any kick, starts it’s at the own 35 yards… It’s a joke! Why not start instantly with a Field Goal attempt, than it comes down to the poorest kicker. My honest opinion is to return it to the own 20 yards line – which hooked me up was the receive and TouchDown return by an impressive run. That might indeed put scores way up higher, but that’s part of the game which makes every single play unpredictable. As we all know an American football game can change with even just 1 second to go – brilliant!

Facemask: this should be handed a standard 20 yard penalty. It’s the absolute protected zone in the sport and rightly so. Last season the Green Bay Packers received a ‘facemask’ call vs Detriot Lions which questioned doubts. For me it wasn’t. His hand was way too high, and although he didn’t aim the helmet he threatened and being it a protected zone the referees had no other choice than to call it a ‘facemask’. Not harsh, because if not given you’d push the boundary to ‘it was not my intention to’ but still intimidate an opposition.

Below here a picture of the actual moment. You can actually even add a ‘sin bin’ of 2 minutes when your team is on the ball to stamp out facemask fouls. If the NFL is genuine concerned about players safety…

taylor-rodgers-facemask-12-03-15

These are my genuine thoughts. If you have a reply, please do share. I am happy to update this article including your replies on twitter and/or of course your replies below this article.

UPDATE: as promised an update coming to given feedback.

Irony last Friday the Raiders have received permission to build a stadium in Las Vegas, which reflected my vision a team would be a great potential. This would from here now mean that Los Angeles can create a entire new franchise to build towards my desired 40.

I think the Jaguars are too advanced coming to their planned London move, which means ‘a definitive’ relocation. Suggestions been to add another London team (Manchester for the north of England). This I do not see as useful coming to the long travels. What I do see is a franchise to be created in Scotland, Glasgow for example who has a strong sporting heritage.

Another good suggestion would be San Antonio, TX. And Vancouver, BC – you should seriously look at a team in Montreal (or so) to have 2 (or even 3) Canadian teams to enter the NFL.

This now the 8 new per current discussion. I do still look to update another time if some more suggestions come in. NEW franchises: LA, St Louis (give them their team back), Scotland, San Antonio, any Alabama, 2 or 3 in Canada. Which makes it either 8 or an 8th to still be found.

I know Ireland is ‘selected’ to be a college football entry, but maybe indeed an own NFL team could be there as well. This an interesting subject Irish fans should give their vision about