The Dallas Cowboys are division leaders and completely hopeless

The NFL

Watching the Cowboys play football only makes me feel sorry for Ezekial Elliott and Dak Prescott. Their salaries can justify a lack of sympathy for either. But watching two of the most talented players at their positions waste away on this Jason Garrett-led Cowboys team is just pathetic. 

Thursday night’s loss to the Chicago Bears was a metaphor for the last decade of Cowboys football. This team is a muscle car without wheels. It’s Ben Affleck without Matt Damon. It’s hopeless. 

Dallas is 0-6 against teams with a .500 record or better. They’ve lost three straight.

“We won’t be going anywhere until we win a football game,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said to a media scrum following Dallas’ 31-24 loss. 

Jones, who was reportedly tear-eyed a week ago after his team’s Thanksgiving loss to the Buffalo Bills, was all-business after last night’s loss. Chicago deserved to win that game, a fact he admitted off the bat. 

“We did all the things that you can do that cause you to lose football games …” he said. 

Jones made it clear: he doesn’t care about the divisional race, a race the Cowboys are winning, by the way. The NFC East is especially poor this year with everyone inadvertently doing their best not to finish the season in the lead. 

Jones just wants to win a football game. 

“I’m not trying to be funny here,” he said. “We’ve got to win a football game. I don’t care what the standings are. I don’t care what the numbers are.” 

The Cowboys thought they could come to Chicago and win against a Bears team have already done what Dallas can only dream of doing at this point — right the ship. 

Chicago was 3-5 by the start of November and went 3-1 in the four games leading up to last night’s win. 

Dallas took an early 7-0 lead but it took 17 plays to get there. Yes, 17 plays. The Cowboys punted the next two drives before missing a 42-yard field goal. 

Down 10-7, Dallas failed to convert on third-and-four because Prescott threw to an incomplete pass to Jamize Olawale, who was completely unaware the throw was coming his way. 

Then the defense jumped offsides on the Bears third-and-two to keep a Chicago drive alive that would eventually end with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky. 

Trubisky — a middle of the pack quarterback at-best — played as if he was a first-round draft pick. He was 21-31 for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns and racked up 63 rushing yards, helping his team to a 24-7 lead. 

What’s baffling about the Cowboys is they have all the pieces to be successful and yet they still fail. It’s been the story for the last decade under head coach Jason Garrett, who, for some reason, still has a job and the loyalty of Jones. He’s had both for 10 years and the Cowboys have nothing to show for it. 

Garrett’s head coaching record with Dallas — his only NFL head coaching job — is 83-66. According to USA Today’s Jori Epstein, only five other coaches have longer tenures. All have a Super Bowl ring. 

The Cowboys are in a particular condundrum I’ve never seen before. They need to fire their head coach while they’re in first-place in their division and in the heat of a playoff race. 

It’s mind-boggling. It’s absurd. It’s Dallas Cowboys football. 

Quit trying to hold my hand during the ‘Our Father’, and other Sunday suggestions

Soapbox

There are three moments during Sunday service that I detest.

The first, of course, is the Sign of Peace. It’s bad enough I have to wish the open-mouth coughers and snifflers goodwill but now I have to shake their hands, too? A Germ-ridden ham sounds horrible but that’s just one of the hands you could encounter. Warm hands. Cold hands. Dry hands. Moist hands. Dead fish. Vice grips. Why are you trying to crush my hand in church, man? We get it. You’re the strongest Knight of Columbus. Let’s see if you’re this tough when you’re serving me cold doughnuts and coffee after Mass.

While I despise the Sign of Peace, I’d rather shake a wetnap of a hand than give the two-fingered peace sign to someone in another pew, as if I’m some Catholic Spok transmitting peace vibes from across the room. It’s never multiple people giving the two-fingered peace sign, either. It’s just one person who is usually dressed like Professor Trelawney, looking each person in the eye and pushing out their peace sign like they’re hitting a beach ball.

That’s why if I ever shake a person’s hand at peace, I look directly at the ceiling lest I lock eyes with the peace sign person.

The second moment I despise is when we all give tithing. It’s not the donating I abhor but how we execute it. Let’s break it down:

  • First off, if we’re passing around baskets let’s get a uniform snake path established before we suffer an utter crowd fail. Print basket directions along with the readings on the weekly pamphlets. That way, I don’t have to intercept basket after basket and send them back in the right direction. “I shouldn’t have to do your job,” I say to a completely befuddled elderly woman who brought out the baskets in the first place.
  • Secondly, we need to abolish the old men in suits walking up and down the aisle with lacrosse stick baskets. If it’s not a guy dipping his basket into every. single. pew. it’s another guy grazing my head to reach the $1 in the middle of the pew.
  • Thirdly, kindly place the donation in the basket in a gentle manner instead of trying to recreate the Air Jordan logo and you dunk your handful of nickels.

Finally, the thirst moment I despise: The handholding during the ‘Our Father.’ The Our Father is a wonderful prayer and it’s one I recite at my own pace. While I’m not trying to race a room full of slowpokes, it’d be nice to finish the prayer TODAY.

Anyway…

When it’s time to say the Our Father as a collective, some people choose to lock hands and create a human chain amongst their family or pew group. That’s fine. Whatever. That doesn’t bother me. I might mumble, “hippies” under my breath when I see you do it, but I won’t stop you.

However, I will object to you trying to hold MY hand. I’m all for loving thy neighbor, but do not try to hold my hand during the Our Father. This is Mass. Not a drum circle.

Hand holding during the Our Father is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a thing for as long as I can remember. However, there’s a new thing where literally everyone joins hands. Every row connects and then reaches across the aisle to connect. I was dumbfounded when I first saw this happen. I’m standing in church, shoulders squared up, arms at my side, ready to roll and all of a sudden I get taps on both hands. One, from some weirdo. The other, my girlfriend.

“My God,” I said. “Not you, too.”

“What?” she said. “My family does it all the time.”

Of course, like I good Catholic, I left her high and dry as I did the other goofball. Did I feel bad that, in a room full of hand-holders, I was the only person not holding hands? Not at all. Still don’t and still won’t if you try to hold my hand, too.

Let’s talk about Iowa State’s final drive against Oklahoma

college football

The Sooners nearly lost their second game of the year at the hands of Iowa State, who took full advantage of an Oklahoma team that surrendered a 21-point lead and gave the Cyclones nearly every chance to steal a win in Norman, Okla.

The Sooners lucked out for two reasons: a gamble by Iowa State and a gift from the referees, both of which happened on the final play of Iowa State’s final drive. We’ll get into both later. Let’s talk about everything that came before that play first.

Iowa State’s final drive was merely the tip of Oklahoma’s poor second half. But it’s important to note because it’s proof that, if the Sooners made the College Football Playoff, they’d make an all-too-familiar early exit.

Let’s also remember that Iowa State’s final drive was allowed to exist because Oklahoma offense couldn’t move the ball to drain clock and quarterback Jalen Hurts couldn’t throw the ball away on third-down. Instead, he tried to squeeze a sideline pass into a high-traffic area and turned the ball over with an interception.

The Sooners defense got breaks early. They pressured Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy resulting in a mere two-yard gain and then Iowa State jumped into a false start penalty. Then a tipped pass fell incomplete putting Iowa State in third-and-long. The Sooners were in prime position to put this away.

Then the wheels came off.

Oklahoma sent four rushers and played Cover 1 man with the second safety seemingly on Purdy to prevent what eventually came to be: a first-down scramble. As the big quarterback came toward him, Pat Shields took a poor angle and completely whiffed on the tackle after Purdy took a Peyton Manning-esque cut to shake the defender loose and get the first down.

Then Purdy hits a 16-yard pass to his tight end Charlie Kollar to put the Cyclones in a first-and-goal look with less than a minute to play.

On the ensuing play, another break for the Sooners. An unaware Purdy receives the snap in his gut as he looked to the sidelines and fell on the loose ball to put the Cyclones outside the 10-yard line. Then an incomplete pass.

Iowa State packed a trio of receivers on the outside shoulder of the right tackle, with a receiver on either side of the field. Oklahoma matched and again went with man-protection.

Purdy hit Collar with a high pass where only his 6-foot-6 tight end could grab it against Fields. Touchdown.

On the two-point conversion attempt, Iowa State went with 11-personnel. La’Michael Pettway, lined up as the lone receiver on the left side, took a slant inside before breaking back outside to the back-left corner of the end-zone.

Iowa State’s running back ran a swing to possibly set up the screen and take corner Parnell Motley off Pettway. While the pick didn’t work completely, it did cause Motley to slip behind Pettway and put him off-balance.

As Purdy threw the ball, Motley tried to prevent the connection but made contact with Pettway, grabbing him near the collar in the process, which helped break up the completion and give him the game-saving interception.


Oklahoma was bailed out because of two factors in this game: 1) Iowa State’s decision to go for the win rather than the tying PAT, which would have sent the game into overtime barring a last-second touchdown from Oklahoma (doubtful based on their previous second half drives) and 2) The no-call on the clear pass-interference.

Iowa State’s passing game was unstoppable on the final drive and I would argue it would have been the difference-maker in an overtime battle. In fact, it was nearly the difference-maker on what would have been the game-winning 2-point attempt.

The referees missed a huge penalty and bailed the Sooners out, inadvertently keeping their playoff hopes alive. Oklahoma is No. 10 because of this no-call.

Other stories: My Nana accused me of being a rat

Other Stories

In the four years I lived with my Nana, I learned I could always rely on a few constants.

For instance, I could always rely on my aunt Brigid offering a passive aggressive opinion on my living in the house. “Tim’s fine,” she would say with arms folded, looking dead ahead at nothing. I could also rely on Nana to lose various items, usually at the most inconvenient times.

For instance, she lost her hearing aids almost every week, either by accident or by “accident,” the latter being a premeditated disposal. One day, I came home to learn that Nana had truly lost one of her hearing aids. She and my cousin, Susan, couldn’t find them anywhere after searching through the whole house. The only place they hadn’t looked was the very-full dumpster that was baking in the hot sun.

Despite my instinct to do otherwise, I chose not to allow those two to go digging through the garbage themselves. I chose to take their place. I was elbows deep in half-eaten food, used tissues, and a variety of other items.

I got the word “we found it” as soon as my fruitless search completed.

Most of the time, no one is to blame in these misplacings, despite us having a hunch about the 4-foot nothing Italian woman. But one time, Nana happened to blame me. Not for losing any particular item. But for ratting her out.

November 2014

Nana used to have a red flip phone. Like her hearing aids, she would sometimes forget to take it with her and would often lose it. Most of the time, it would drop into the abyss of her recliner. But one day, it just vanished.

Wasn’t a big deal. My dad called and asked me to take her to the store to get it replaced. Sure, I said. When I got home, Nana was getting dropped off by her friend from a gals lunch. Nana was as bubbly as ever. She and her friend recounted the entire lunch despite not asking if I was interested. I wasn’t but whatever.

As Nana closed the door behind her friend, I asked her if she was ready to head to the AT&T store. I assumed she already knew we were going.

“What for?” she asked.

“Dad asked me to take you to the store to get your phone replaced.”

Nana’s bubbly attitude popped and her face fell into stunned glare.

“How does he know I lost my phone?” she asked sharply.

“I guess someone told him.”

“Was it you?”

“No, Nana. Look, what does it matter if someone told my dad or not?”

Silence. She put on her coat and walked to the car in passive silence. At that moment, digging into the squishy, damp unknown of a dumpster was a more appealing alternative than dealing with a grandmother who felt like she had been wronged. Betrayed. Tattled on.

But the silence was broken during the car ride to the AT&T store. Nana slowly rubbed her hands like a James Bond villain as she audibly listed the possible suspects that could have “ratted” her out. The list only included a handful of names but I knew she truly had just one suspect in mind: me.

I was the prime suspect in any misdeed in the house. If food was missing, if the kitchen floor was dirty, or if a pair of women’s slippers were out, there was a good chance I was going to get blamed for it. That’s probably because Nana was right one time in linking me to the crime scene, which was a freezer that was once filled with ice cream cups.

The freezer was in the basement laundry room and when I went back to retrieve my shirts from the dryer, I found Nana back there, holding two empty cups.

“Having fun?” she asked.

Northwestern’s student newspaper forgets it’s a newspaper and bows to those who complain

Soapbox

I used to have an inferior complex about where I went to journalism school. It wasn’t Mizzou or Northwestern, and not even Syracuse, which is apparently known for being a journalism school and not strictly a school with a goofy mascot and a head basketball coach who is pretty shortsighted. I went to Webster University which is in the heart of beautiful Webster Groves, a suburban community that hates traffic (despite it not existing) and my university, for going back on promises not to buy up land and expand like a greedy pig.

#GoGorloks.

But I’m thankful I went to Webster because that’s where I learned to be an actual journalist. I learned how to write, shoot video, and do shoe-leather reporting. I learned how to cover live events, ask tough questions, track down sources, and learn how to talk to real people. I learned how to deal with difficult stories and difficult sources. That inferiority complex vanished when I graduated from Webster and went into the real world.

I’m reminded of how stupid I was to have it in the first place every now and again when I read things like this.

There’s so much to address in this editorial from The Daily Northwestern, but I am too much of a dolt to intelligently unpack it all. I will, however, address this one block of text:

Some students also voiced concern about the methods that Daily staffers used to reach out to them. Some of our staff members who were covering the event used Northwestern’s directory to obtain phone numbers for students beforehand and texted them to ask if they’d be willing to be interviewed. We recognize being contacted like this is an invasion of privacy, and we’ve spoken with those reporters — along with our entire staff — about the correct way to reach out to students for stories.

Finding a person’s phone number in a directory, texting them, and asking if they would is not an invasion of privacy. This is written with the tone of an apologetic authority but it reads like a pathetic husband who is apologizing just to appease his wife/husband/partner.

How did they recognize this? Because they were told by an upset caller or animated mob of Twitter accounts? The students’ contact information was published in either a mass-produced booklet or available online or both. The information is out in the open. It’s like a pizza place being upset because you Google’d their name and found their phone number listed in the results.

At the top of the editorial, there’s also this:

We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night — along with how we plan to move forward.

The Medill School of Journalism is the best journalism program in the country, but this is truly unbelievable. It’s like a Waffle House serving good food or a Chic-Fil-A that sucks. This isn’t the standard that’s expected.

These are students. They’re people still learning to be a true journalist. But this editorial proves they’re not learning anything other than how to pander to those who are outraged. The newspaper chose to remove photographs of people at a public event, remove names, and vow to change how it reports in the name of “safety.” But this doesn’t protect anyone.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, “Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.”

The code of ethics isn’t a reason to handcuff a reporter. It’s a principle that helps the reporter do their job correctly. Treating people with respect is not granting their every wish. This editorial would have been better served as an opportunity to explain how the newspaper goes about it’s reporting process and why it won’t change. It should have explained that asking a protestor in a public space a question or texting them for an interview is not an invasion of privacy.

Or, they should have written nothing and just ignored the “outrage.” Being yelled at is part of the job of a journalist. Bending the knee for those who are pissed off at you is not. I learned that at Webster, when a city councilman got pissed off at me when I called and left a voicemail asking for an interview. I found that number in the directory, of all places.