Dear Roger Goodell, While we await the NFL schedule, here’s some advice…

(Photo: Good Housekeeping)

(Photo: Good Housekeeping)

Dear Roger Goodell,

I know it’s complicated…trying to schedule home and away games for 32 NFL teams, some of them in the same stadium. But, here’s the thing…I’m also trying to plan my life for the rest of the year.

Clearly, you don’t understand how complicated it is to schedule travel with family in four states, hair appointments (which I book four months in advance), the activities of two busy kids, one husband, two pampered pooches, and to do it all around the schedule of the Indianapolis Colts.

When the NFL delayed the release of the 2013 schedule, which was originally slated for today, I also delayed my 2013 schedule.

It’s fine. Take your time. I’ll put off my plans while you all try to get your shit together.

I do have a suggestion though. If you’re having trouble trying to juggle the schedules, transportation, and activities of many people, all of whom need to be in different places at different times, you may want to try something…

Ask a woman.

In the meantime, we’ll be waiting…

Good luck.


Save the Pro Bowl

The 2013 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, HI (Photo: Getty)

The 2013 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, HI
(Photo: Getty)

We have a love/hate relationship with the NFL Pro Bowl. The players love it. The fans hate it. And the NFL doesn’t know what to think. So, I’m going to tell them. We need to save the Pro Bowl. And this is why…

No, it’s not a “real” football game, but neither is a preseason game…and for that matter some “real” games played by “real” teams this year…

But unlike the preseason games, the fans (and specifically the season ticket holders) are not forced to buy tickets to the Pro Bowl. You don’t even have to watch it. No one admits to watching it. But the ratings are somehow big, which tells me more people watch than admit to it. I admit it. I watched. (And while I’m at it…I also watch The Bachelor.)

The game has been heavily criticized in recent years for its lack of football. So much so, that the NFL contemplated getting rid of the Pro Bowl after last year’s pathetic performance. This year, the players stepped it up…and it showed. While it wasn’t exactly competitive, it was entertaining. There was even blood shed, possibly for the first time in Pro Bowl history. Texans defensive tackle JJ Watt cut his finger and splattered blood all over himself. When Michelle Tafoya asked him about it on the sideline, he sent a message directly to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The players were playing. Hard.

Yes, it’s cool to hate the Pro Bowl. But how about we focus instead, on what’s cool about it…

  1. Watching players on the field, making plays with players from opposing teams, which they would never have an opportunity to make otherwise. As a Colts fan, I could have watched Andrew Luck throwing to AJ Green all day long (no offense to Reggie Wayne or TY Hilton). And no one was happier to be catching passes from Pro Bowl quarterbacks than Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. When he caught his first pass from Drew Brees, it was the first time he had a real quarterback throw to him all year…let alone a future Hall of Famer. And as Brian McIntyre reported, the touchdown pass Fitzgerald caught from Russell Wilson was his first NFL touchdown since November 4th.
  2. The memorable moments. Like Peyton Manning’s first throw…to former teammate Reggie Wayne. And possibly the most memorable Pro Bowl moment in history involved Peyton’s other former teammate, Green Bay Packer and NFC Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday. Saturday announced his retirement prior to the Pro Bowl, but stepped in on the AFC team to make one last ceremonious snap to Manning before hugging him and walking off the field with the ball. I get teary just thinking about it.
  3. Trick plays. We saw defenders come in as receivers, laterals, a backwards onside kick, and very little punting. There is a reason you don’t see many fancy plays during the regular season. And watching the Pro Bowl, you see why. But they’re fun to watch…even when they don’t work.
  4. Not everything about the Pro Bowl is about the fans. And not everything special about it takes place on the field. It’s a chance for players to engage with each other, with their families, and with each other’s families, to reflect on the season, and to rub elbows with some of the greatest players in the game. Both Pro Bowl rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, remarked on the experience of socializing, practicing, game planning, and playing with some of their childhood idols. And who will ever forget the image of Peyton Manning on the sideline with his son Marshall in his lap?
Peyton Manning and his son, Marshall

Peyton & Marshall Manning

Truly special moments. Some on the field. Some off. That is what the Pro Bowl is about.

Love it or hate it…we should keep it.



Coffee Cup Quarterback | Week 8: The one with The Queen, and the bumble bees, and Superman…

Week eight of the NFL season had London calling for the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams.  It was strange to hear our anthem followed by God Save The Queen.  I still can’t decide how I feel about that.  But God save The Queen when she saw how the Patriots head coach was dressed.  Yes, The Hoodie went global.  And it made its debut during a fan rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and Owner Robert Kraft

Will Belichick start a European fashion trend?  Will they be rocking hoodies with dress shirts and headbands on Oxford Street?  In Chelsea?  Probably not.  On behalf of America, I apologize to the Brits and Her Majesty.  I also apologize for the game…the Patriots beat the Rams 45-7.  American football is the greatest sport in the world.  But it is much more entertaining when two teams play.

At least they got to see the Gronk show.  Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski had eight catches and two touchdowns.  After the first, he did an awkward march before spiking the ball.  The crowd went nuts for his Changing of the Gronk.  Asked later who he was imitating, Gronkowski replied, “That little nutcracker dude that’s guarding the house.”  Americans…

Speaking of fashion statements…the Steelers took a lot of grief when they took the field on Sunday in this:

Steelers’ Halloween Costumes/Throwback Uniforms

Yes, the throwback uniforms are hideous.  But I think they were misunderstood.  The Steelers were dressed up for Halloween (as Peyton, Eli and Deion).  They just couldn’t get the wings and tutus to fly (literally) with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  That’s why they call it the No Fun League.

Seriously though, no one ever wore those as uniforms…right?

Meanwhile, on NFL Halloween Sunday…Indianapolis Colts Running Back Vick Ballard played Superman, though he wasn’t in costume.  It was without a doubt the play of the day (and most likely the play of the week, maybe the month).  In overtime against the Tennessee Titans, Ballard goes in flying, upside down, over the pylon for the game winning touchdown.

Colts Running Back Vick Ballard Flies One In (In Overtime) Against the Titans

It was the Colts’ first road win of the season (and last season) and their first back-to-back win of the season (and last season).  Bet the Titans get their hands on some Kryptonite (or Stickum) before the teams meet again in Indy on December 9th.

And a real life hero, 11-year-old Dante Cano from Marlboro, New Jersey.  He came up with the idea of using pink penalty flags for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and wrote Roger Goodell with his idea.  On Sunday, Cano was invited to Met Life Stadium to present the pink flags to the officials before the game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

Dante Cano (11) Meets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

We hope to see the pink flags used during all the October games next season.  And remember, you can now bid on all the NFL in Pink items used this month.  The money goes to the NFL’s A Crucial Catch.

Just proves you don’t need a cape or a jersey to be a hero.

Or a hoodie.


Pretty in pink penalties

NFL in Pink penalty flags to be used in Sunday’s game

Week eight marks the last Sunday in October and the last Sunday of the NFL in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  But for those of us who love seeing pink on the field, there is one last surprise…

Along with the pink gloves, hats, and cleats worn by players, the NFL officials will also use pink penalty flags during the game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.  The idea came from an 11-year-old New Jersey boy.

Letter from Dante Cano (11) to Roger Goodell


“Dante had a great idea and I am looking forward to meeting with him on Sunday to put it into action,” said Commissioner Goodell. “Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best. I applaud Dante for sending in his recommendation.”

And so it is…the first (and hopefully not the last) pink penalty flags will fly during game time at Met Life Stadium in New York.

It may also mark the first time a penalty flag solicits a chorus of…”Super cute!”



Coffee Cup Quarterback | Week 7: A new season, a new scandal. Welcome to…Stickygate

San Diego Chargers

A new year, a new “gate” in the National Football League.  First, we had the New England Patriots and Spygate, then we had the New Orleans Saints and Bountygate, the fallout from which is still settling.

And now, it’s the San Diego Chargers who find themselves in a sticky situation.  Literally.  Jay Glazer from Fox Sports reported Sunday that an official spotted a Chargers equipment manager hiding something in a towel he was giving to players during the Monday night game against the Broncos.  The employee refused to turn over the towel, but when officials asked him to empty his pockets, they confiscated a sticky substance.

And just like that, a scandal is born.  Welcome, my friends to…Stickygate.

Stickum has been banned by the NFL for years, but was once used liberally to help players hold on to the football.  The NFL is investigating and the Chargers are on bye week (and likely doing laundry).  Coach Norv Turner says no one on his team used Stickum during the Chargers’ 35-24 loss to the Denver Broncos on October 15th.  With six turnovers, you wouldn’t think anyone would accuse the Chargers of having sticky fingers.

Speaking of gates…Saints Assistant Coach Joe Vitt has returned to the team following his Bountygate suspension.  He will be on the field at Mile High Stadium this week when the Saints play the Broncos on Sunday Night Football.

So that’s what the Baltimore Ravens look like without Pro Bowl Linebacker and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.  The Ravens defense allowed the Houston Texans to score more than 40 points on Sunday, something they haven’t done since 2007.  The team lost both Lewis and Cornerback Lardarius Webb for the season last week.  And no defense is pretty hard to overcome with no offense.  Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco recorded the lowest rating for any quarterback since 2008.  The Ravens lost to the Texans 43-13.

Johns Skelton was back at quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals this week.  His welcome back gift?  He was sacked seven times by the Minnesota Vikings (and is probably still having nightmares about Brian Robison and Jared Allen).  Kevin Kolb was hurt after being sacked more than 20 times in three games.  The two are taking turns taking sacks and trading injuries.  The Cardinals have allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked 35 times this year, the most in the NFL.  Once again, I hope the Cardinals invest in some protection…or have a binder full of backup quarterbacks.  Yes, people…that one was just too easy.

The best news in the NFL for week seven…Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano has been released from the hospital and was able to watch his team beat the Cleveland Browns at home…from home.  Pagano has been hospitalized and undergoing treatment for leukemia since the end of September.

And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says that unless the quality of the game improves, this could be the last year for the NFL Pro Bowl.