You think I’m gonna stop watching football? You must have lost your MIND.

Yes that’s correct, there’s gotta be something wrong mentally if you think I’m ever going to stop spending my Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays watching anything else besides professional football. Beyond the fact that I work as a bartender, meaning I get to watch a lot of football games on NFL Ticket, some of the reasons that people think we shouldn’t allow our children and other family members to watch or play football are completely ridiculous. “To whom it may concern, I can make up my mind on the dangers of playing a contact sport. I don’t need anyone else’s opinion. Thanks, Michael.” I don’t know about anyone else but it seems like some of the arguments against football are either rhetorical or blatantly obvious:

“They might get a concussion! They might get hit repeatedly!!” Please tell us something I’m not aware of. This is not something new or even unpleasant. Football is a test of physical dominance over the opposing team, a man’s game of forcing one’s opponents to slowly give ground and finally submit to your will. It’s fundamentally ingrained in the most primal part of our psyche, we want to watch and become victorious with the team or teams of our own choosing. I learned this as a child playing pee-wee football, watching the Giants.. and the Redskins.. and finally the Cowboys dismantle the poor Buffalo Bills. It’s not like they don’t know deep down that getting hit in the head repeatedly ‘might’ lead to severe health concerns, concussions, brain aneurysms, etc. and so forth. They knew there was a pretty good chance of lasting injury but still signed a contract to play professional football against other gridiron warriors.

“The game has become faster, the players have become bigger and stronger!” Are you serious? That’s part of the reason why we here in America consider our football as superior to football in other countries! When watching a sporting event, regardless of what sport it is, do we want to watch average people, somewhere in the middle of the pack? More likely you, and I, want to watch the most athletic and dominant human beings on the planet face off in mortal combat. Besides, it really only becomes an issue when the other team isn’t growing at the same or similar rate as your team. As long as every team in the league is comparatively strong and fast, I don’t see any reason to worry. Well, maybe at the college level when you sometimes have Division-1 FBS schools padding their stats by humiliating tiny FCS schools; Look at what happened this week between 18th ranked Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State. Then it might become dangerous, but I’m getting away from the point.

Recently I read an ESPN Insider article about how current safety measures didn’t stop player deaths, only delayed them. In return let me state the completely obvious: NOTHING in the world can stop death from occurring. It’s inevitable, at least it has been for the past 5000 years of civilization. All we can do is, *cough*, delay that from occurring by making sure that we keep our football players from dying instantly from a collision. If we were to follow the logic of how helmets and pads don’t stop concussions, why don’t we quit driving cars and trucks while we’re at it? Seat-belts, air-bags and aluminum crumple zones don’t stop drivers and passengers from dying either. They only prolong the inevitable. While we’re at it, how about we never fly planes because we might fall out of the sky?

Basically it’s all a bunch of propaganda. Activists and people who have lost loved ones want to equate playing football to cigarette smoking or some form of preventable disease. It’s not. Certainly I feel a bit of remorse and sympathy for Junior Seau‘s family but this doesn’t mean that he is different in any way from a king crab fisherman on the Bering Sea or a coal miner in Western Pennsylvania. Every single one of these men work in a dangerous profession and are exponentially more likely to suffer grievous injury or death than say a dentist working in an office building. The difference is that in return for signing a contract to play in the NFL, Junior Seau received a huge sum of money per year.

“How about all of those ex-players that never had a concussion but still are dealing with brain-related issues, such as nightmares, trouble getting out of bed, incontinence, memory loss, etc?” I currently have and probably always will have a problem deciding which of these problems, if any, have football as it’s only deciding factor. Look at Brett Favre, one of the most often hit players in NFL history. Favre played in more games than any other player, period. The iron man of football played for an astonishing 20 seasons at arguably the most dangerous position in the game. The only issues he has shown beyond the normal aches, pains and soreness associated with playing football until your 40 had to do with sexual misconduct, ie. sexting and revealing yourself to young women. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with a dirty old man being a dirty old man. In all fairness, they dropped the charges, most likely due to the fact that the woman was probably a gold-digging whore looking for a fat settlement after sleeping her way up the Jets corporate ladder. Other than that incident and an annoying penchant for retiring and un-retiring, I don’t see anything wrong with Brett Favre’s brain.

Another veteran player who’s doing just fine is Baltimore’s future hall-of-fame linebacker, Ray Lewis. This dominant run-stopper has averaged over 120 tackles a year, or more than just about anyone else over his 16 year career. If there is anyone who should show signs of football-related symptoms, memory loss or other effects of repeated blows to the head, it should definitely be him. I’m pretty sure it’s not because he needs anymore money, unlike other professional players like Terrell Owens.  Even though he has lost a step over the years, his mind remains sharp, his memory and instincts still make him one of the best linebackers in the game.

These are just a few examples of ex-NFL players who have had little to no lasting mental effects from their playing days. Troy Aikman, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Desmond Howard, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, these men are still in the public spotlight and we as the public would notice if there were anything significantly wrong with their minds. In summary, I don’t see how anyone can consider this “scientific” investigation into proving how football has caused this recent rash of suicides anything beyond your average 17th century witch hunt. How can the media and the scientific community not consider these cases when deciding whether football is inherently dangerous?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that sometimes people will suffer long-term effects while other times they seem to do just fine. I’m not saying that there is absolutely no correlation between hits and brain injury. I’m certain there is. But as long as we’re blaming football, why don’t we stop everyone from racing cars or fighting in the octagon? Martial arts and race-car driving both expose participants to possible concussions and death but haven’t seen nearly as much negative media coverage as the NFL. How come? Why are members of the scientific community and media outlets crying wolf?

Beyond the reasons listed above, mass hysteria might be playing a part in this unfolding drama. One scientist comes to a finding that some or even of the brains examined from football players have areas of trauma. He tries to find a correlating event and is quick to blame this on football. Other people, including and especially the families and widows of ex-football players are quick to jump on these findings, regardless of their whether or not they’re conclusive, and proceed to file countless lawsuits against the NFL. What they conveniently forget is that the players took on this occupation willingly, just like every other dangerous occupation in the world. They signed the contract and willingly walked on the field.

Let me ask you this: If someone offered you the chance to play professional football along with the requisite fame, fortune and a truck load of money, would you take a chance and possibly become physically injured? It’s not like when its time to sign the contract, the coaches and general manager are saying, ‘Nobody is going to run into you like a 250 pound cannon ball. They would never use their arms and legs to pummel you until you cough up the football. Above all else, there is a 0% chance that you will ever get injured or die.”

On top of everything else, I’m just going to tell you how I feel personally on the subject. If there wasn’t the threat of death or injury, I probably wouldn’t watch football. I relish the spectacle of large-scale conflict. I want to watch the biggest, strongest, fastest men on the planet overcoming their fears to become more than just human. I want them to go on the biggest stage we can construct, overcome every single obstacle and finally earn their rightful place in history. For this I’m willing to pay thousands of dollars a year in television fees, stadium tickets and merchandise, just so that years down the road I can tell my wife and children about that time my team won everything. When the dust settled, they were the only ones left standing.

That’s why every year millions of fans replay every moment of the regular season again and again(I mean why else would there be an NFL network?) and why every playoff game becomes a national holiday in America. The Super Bowl? If sports were considered a religion, professional football would be the 4th largest, behind only the Christians, Muslims and soccer. Actually, I take that back, here in America we know that soccer isn’t even a real sport.

So take as much time as you need to make perfectly safe football helmets, impose heavy fines and mandatory time-off for blows to the head(oh wait, we’ve already done that), just don’t even think about taking away my football. To all the families that are still mourning the loss of their loved ones to brain disease or suicide, I feel your pain, I really do but all the lawsuits and finger-pointing in the world isn’t going to change the fact that your family member willingly chose to risk death and injury, in return for fame, fortune and a solid gold bathtub.

A free ride to a college education, food, clothes and a beautiful home for the wife & kids, money to invest in stocks or businesses, insurance for their aging parents, cars, jewelry and most importantly a bright future. The absolute minimum salary for a rookie in 2012 is $390,000-$465,000/year, not including signing bonuses, roster bonuses or likely to be earned incentives. Add in local, national and even international endorsements such as Direct TV, Nike or Under Armour and I can’t see any reason their families would ever want for anything material. It’s completely on them if they spent everything  they had on Rolex watches, Louis Vuitton bags, Gucci sunglasses Lamborghini sports cars.  I don’t care how they used their money in the past, I only care that these frivolous lawsuits are threatening my favorite weekend pastime.

So yes, you have to be out of your mind if you think anything is going to stop me from watching professional football. It’s gonna take a lot more than a couple player suicides or vegetative-state linemen to stop me from laying on the couch on Sunday, watching my beloved Baltimore Ravens catch assault & battery charges against Ben Roethlisberger.

Kyarnboy, Wong_83@hotmail.com

Andy Roddick is BACK in the ’09 Wimbledon Finals

Do you have any idea how long I have been waiting for Andy Roddick to make it to the Wimbledon Finals?

Do you have any idea how many times he has disappointed me? Probably not I suppose but just try to look at it from my point of view…

My infatuation with Andy Roddick began back in my high-school days, way back when Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus-Rex were roaming the Earth. I had been playing tennis, both for pleasure and in competition, since the 3rd grade. I guess it has at least a little to do with the fact that I was born Asian, we just happen to love the game of tennis.

At least in America we do.

For some reason, just like Soccer, Cricket and Rugby, Tennis is a sport that’s a huge deal for just about every other country besides the United States. The Russians absolutely SWEAR by tennis, especially their women, which can be seen in such famous players as Martina Navratilova, Anna Kournikova and  Maria Sharapova. I only mentioned the latter two because they are smoking hot and their influence extends beyond just the sport they play. As for Martina, well, she’s just one of the best women to have ever played the game, hand’s down.

The majority of Asia, Europe and even the Middle East/Africa play tennis at a high level as well, tennis games are a big deal throughout the year in these countries, rather then just when the grand-slam tournaments are on.

In America, sure there are a lot of players, especially in high-school or at rich, uppity country clubs, but for the most part America has not consistently ranked very high at the professional level…with only a few exceptions. The major difference is that when you look at the top 25 players in the world, both men and women, over the past couple decades it seems to have been primarily comprised of Russian and Eastern European names.

So basically, since a very young age, I had very few American role-models to look up too in terms of Tennis.I can basically count all of them on one hand and I’m talking both sexes combined.

The Williams sisters, who I believe are monstrous, brutal and perhaps the perfect specimens from which elite tennis playing females should be cloned. Have you seen their sheer muscle definition or the power in their serves? This duo of destruction has rampaged through the professional tennis-scene for over a decade now.

John McEnroe, who probably wouldn’t be a role-model for most other people but because of my own short fuse and natural god-given talent for tennis, was the first professional tennis player I ever heard of. He’s also one of the most evil people on the planet in my opinion and as far as I’m concerned, a great man.

Andre Agassi, with or without hair, had the most will-power and heart I have ever seen in tennis, at any playing level. He won sets and tournaments that he probably had no right to win, against players in their prime much younger and stronger then him. Throughout the ’90s and even past the turn of the century, Agassi proved that wisdom and heart will always be a match for strength and speed. Oh yeah, he was also married to one of the most beautiful white women I have ever seen…Brooke Shields.

Well, when she was younger at least. Now she had all that plastic surgery and her head is bigger and her features all blunt and blocky…Blechkkk.

Pete Sampras, classic and distinguished throughout his career, he foiled my other favorite player, Andre Agassi, on numerous occasions. Until Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis player currently ranked number one, overtakes him, Sampras is the holder of the record for most majors won in men’s singles with 14. It’s only coincidental that this article is being written at the same time that Federer is attempting to win his 15th major…Against Andy Roddick.

Fnally there’s Andy Roddick. Lean, muscular, American as can be and the owner of the most powerful first serve ever to be clocked in Tennis, at around 155mph. He’s not quite as old as my other favorite American players, nor has he won as many tournaments. He’s currently ranked number six on the ATP list and is the highest ranked American player(yay!). In the past, he has been ranked number one in the world.

The reasons I have always rooted for the sometimes-underdog are pretty simple. He plays fast, aggressive and has a punishing serve. He was born and raised in the heartland of America (Omaha, Nebraska) so basically he bleeds red, white and blue. He is known as the “other A-Rod” and unlike a lot of other pro athletes, he doesn’t splurge and go out to bars and clubs excessively. Also, he’s married to the pretty ridiculous Sports Illustrated model, Brooklyn Decker.

Even though he has made it to 27 career finals matches, he is still often considered an underdog for one unfair and obvious reason: He has a career head-to-head record of 2-18 when facing Roger Federer. Now personally, I don’t think that’s so bad in and of itself. Federer is not a typical professional Tennis player. He is pretty much a lock to make it into the Tennis Hall of Fame and arguably THE BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME. For Roddick to have even been ranked in the top 3, during a time-period that includes both Raphael Nadal AND Federer is remarkable.

Luckily, this year’s edition of Wimbledon did not feature Nadal- the Spanish defending champion made a surprising withdraw due to a case of tendonitis in his knee-leaving the playing field at the All England Club a little easier then it typically would have been. Early this morning, #2 Roger Federer defeated #24 Tommy Haas and #6 Andy Roddick defeated #3  Andy Murray in the semifinals.

So I guess what it comes down to is the Twenty First showdown between Roddick and Federer that is set to take place over the next couple days. This is the third time they will battle in the finals on the lush grass of Centre Court. Andy is better coached, better versed, stronger and more versatile than he has been in years…hopefully that and a good bit of luck will help swing things his way this time. Federer will always remain a dangerous opponent but this time I believe, I must believe, that Roddick has the confidence and stamina necessary to keep the sets close, jump the net and neutralize and respond to Federer’s potent offense.

Mikey, Wong_83@hotmail.com

Guy Fieri and Tyler Florence: Long lost siblings from birth

Oh, where to begin…

I have watched food network shows for a very long time, I believe the show that really got me into the channel was the original Iron Chef series, which has now been revamped and turned into Iron Chef America(Which is not quite as good IMHO). I’m just gonna say what alot of people are thinking and blow the lid off this elephant in the room. What the hell is wrong with these two so-called chefs?

Let’s start with Guy Fieri, the gayish looking dude with the blond spiky hair. His show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is the actual dive, in which he travels around the country gorging himself on every greasy, typically fried, substance he can find, all while food network foots the bill. It must have been a bad day at the office… like really bad, when the people in charge of putting the new line-up for the season decided to actually put this show on the air. No offense to the probably very hard-working, dedicated food service people who he interviews on a weekly basis, but the show doesn’t really do any of them credit anyways.

If that was just the one thing that Guy was remembered for, I wouldn’t really be raising a fuss. Sure it’s bad, but whatever, it’s not on me. Someone else has to look like a complete idiot for that decision.

No, there’s more.

Somehow the spiky blond short, somewhat chunky dude wrangled himself a chance to do a television ad, and although his culinary prowess is always in question when his idea of good food is a mint mud pie covered in “crushed oreos” (some random episode of Dinner Impossible), it certainly has been kicked and tossed into an early grave when he got into bed with the gigantic restaurant conglomerate, TGIF.

For those of you who don’t watch the travel channel, a certain show host of the No Reservations series, not naming names, calls TGIF quote: T-G-I-McFunsters. Not only is the food there a horrid mockery of the different culinary cultures that they claim to represent, but from time to time they add something “new and exciting” to their menu. This year I believe it was some sort of Jack Daniels championship menu, on which TGIF and Guy decided to go rip off the winners in a JD BBQ contest and toss their winning entrys onto their menu. What people probably are missing or have forgotten is that TGIF has had Jack Daniels style items on their menu for quite some time now, certainly way before this “new and exciting” menu was added. Not that I have anything at all against the JD people, It’s just the restaurant and blondie’s credibility that really enrages me.

This brings us to our other unwanted not so red-headed step child of the culinary industry. Tyler Florence. He kind of reminds me of Bobby Flay, except that he is alot heavier, not quite as talented, and I typically only see him on TV during holidays, making his bid for cooking credibility. Somehow every year, he hooks up with some of the other network chefs and by leeching off of their hard-earned respect and skill, he fools the good people at home into thinking, hey, I think he’s a good cook too.

He is NOT. That is my claim and my opinion. He is about as good a cook as the spanish guy at my restaurant who cannot understand the different cooking times of frying shrimp and frying yams.

His slutty companion of a restaurant chain is the TGIF knockoff, Applebees, making him even lower on the food chain than blondie. This mind-boggling reject of Americana is IMO only good as a place to drink cheap beers and mixed drinks when the other good bars are too crowded on football Sunday. For some odd reason, they have some type of rib tips item on their happy hour appetizer menu, I would bet anyone who is reading this that they are probably just sliced bones smashed into the middle of questionable processed meat. This place is so terrible that they cannot even do spinach dip right! Their menu, which consists of anything you can think of from TGIF but simplified, could easily be served as a replacement for high school cafeteria food and very few kids would notice.

Yet, as bad as that sounds, the tip of this festering waste poking above the toilet bowl water is that Tyler Florence, you know, that guy from such regular food network shows as NOTHING, endorses them with his chubby smile 100%.

Fake-panko breaded panko shrimp(panko is supposed to be japanese bread crumbs)? Check. Cheesy mind-numbing americana and festive buttons? Double check. Recipes fit for zombies living in America who don’t want anything exciting to disturb their eternal undead slumber? If the answer to this is yes, and it is, you’ve got yourself an unholy trifecta, where budding middle-aged chefs go to throw away any shreds of credibility and dignity left.

Congratulations on street-walking and bedding yourselves to the highest bidder. Tyler and Guy, come down and receive your presents. For not really having any culinary skill, and somehow sneaking your way both onto television and into commercials, a DNA test that confirms that you both are actually children birthed from the same set of corrupted loins. Also, for dragging down the credibility of the food network by basically accepting bribes from horrible conglomerate restaurants, please accept these shiny new .357 magnum handguns, complete with bullets. These will come in handy when the suicidal thoughts begin to claim you.

When your children are old enough to understand how your whole life, you chose to stand for nothing, chose greed over principles and respect, you will finally understand what to do with these guns.

Thank you, for helping to remind us, the regular people who cook and work with cooks for a living, what we should do the exact opposite of.

Mikey, Wong_83@hotmail.com

(PS: You still have time left. You can change! Maybe!)