This past week was the week of year I look forward to the most. My family, best friend, his family and I rent a house for the week on Long Beach Island, NJ. it is a crazy week of swimming in the ocean, card games, cocktails by the bay, delicious bbq dinners and post-dinner discussions. And barrels of laughs all the way.
When I apprised Seth Cox of my vacation plans he was gracious to give me the week off. Thus, last week I only posted my updated 53 man roster projection and each morning I resisted the temptation to write in favor of playing our morning games of Rummy 500 or tag-teaming with my sister and brother-in-law in solving New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles, before heading down to the ocean for the most refreshing swims of the year.
All week long I was mulling over a moral dilemma. The Cardinals were going to be on national TV on Thursday night, but it was the last night of the vacation. Should I watch the game? Or should I enjoy my family and friends and watch the game a day later when I return home?
While expressing the machinations of this dilemma with my son-in-law, he said he would love it if I taught him the rules of football. He was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden and now in his 3rd year of living in America, he figured it was time to learn the game that so many Americans, such as myself, are gaga about.
This made the decision a tad easier, plus the fact that I wanted to show off my new Kyler Cardinal QB t-shirt!
As Thursday approached, on Wednesday, I had the unique opportunity to take my two granddaughters to McDonald’s for lunch and to a matinee showing of The Lion King.
As always, lunch at McD’s was a stellar success as my granddaughters ate in Happy Meal bliss---and then with a $9 bowl of popcorn and a large bag of Skittles we sat and watched Simba’s dramatic plight to avenge his father’s murder and to take back the reign of the kingdom.
To be honest---during the whole movie I was ensconced in two memorable thoughts---one of how adorable my granddaughters are, particularly when they were pouring their hearts into the plight of the lion cub---and two was how in so many ways I was likening Simba, the brave cub, to my brave new diminutive QB, Kyler Murray.
At the end of the movie, my granddaughters were so elated that they felt they had to do a photo booth shoot while I was trying to decide whether Simba was Kyler or whether Simba was actually Russell Wilson and Kyler was Simba’s and Nala’s new cub Kopa (which in Swahili means “heart”).
All day long on Thursday my son-in-law was telling me how amped he was to see the game. I was looking forward to springing my new Kyler shirt on the family---but---late in the afternoon, my daughter presented me with a new t-shirt from Ron Jon Surf Shop from the original shop on Long Beach Island.
I thought the best way to show my thanks was to keep the Ron Jon shirt on.
When the game started, my sister was putting the finishing touches on her annual pasta feast, thus we had time to watch the first series of the game. I was hoping that the Cardinals would get the ball first so that I could introduce Erik to Kyler Murray, only the Raiders took the ball and proceeded to ram it down the Cardinals’ throats, one good gain after another.
”This is not good,” I said to Erik.
”I can see that,” Erik replied, after the Raiders scored their first TD with relative ease.
Just then we were called to dinner. Fortunately, the main TV had a pause button, so I put the game on pause.
Involuntarily, I stuck the Hoover on that pasta meal and cleared my plate in record time. Do I dare, sneak over to the TV? I anxiously waited until others were finished and then I heard the TV come back on (the pause had only lasted 20 minutes or so) and thus I made my move.
I just wanted to see Kyler’s first series and then head back to table.
Well, that first series was so disappointing, it was hard to leave on that note.
To get right to the point---I was joined a few minutes later by Erik and my best friend and we proceeded to watch the Cardinals get trounced to the tune of 236 yards to 12 and a score of 26-0 following the safety on Murray’s sack.
”If you are going to have a stinker, now’s (the pre-season) the time to do it,” I said.
By the time Brett Hundley hit Trent Sherfield for the Cardinals’ first score, Erik was on his laptop answering emails and my best friend was sound asleep.
Dessert was delivered to me on the couch and I could not budge away from the TV, despite feeling guilty the entire time.
The house was very quiet by the time I was hip-hip-hooraying for Andy Isabella’s home run TD catch from Chad Kanoff and then Caleb Wilson’s nifty TD catch from Drew Anderson to make the score 33-26.
I was impressed with Kyler Murray’s poise during his interviews.
Then, I realized how seemingly desperate Jon Gruden and DC Paul Guenther were to reveal their best array of blitz packages in order to try to stifle Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury’s K-Raid.
To hear Raider’s FS Lamarcus Joyner state how badly the Raiders coaches and players wanted to obliterate the Cardinals’ innovative offense they deem as “pretty boy football”---when, in fact, unlike the Raiders defense that put their best blitzes on tape for the opponents to study, the Cardinals have been keeping the veil on Kingsbury’s offense to the point where no one at this point knows what it is going to look like.
But, then to hear Rex Ryan and others express such disdain for a style of football that has yet to be unveiled convinces me that the NFL is extremely wary of how Murray and Kingsbury could take the art of offense to a new and innovative level.
On Friday on the long drive back to Massachusetts, my dear friend, Trish, read me Cardinals’ related articles while I was driving. I took particular joy in hearing Robert Ban’s two articles. Try reading Robert’s articles out loud---they are superbly written---and chock-full of witty phrases such as the Cardinals committing ”a laundry basket” full of penalties.
Trish read me many of the comments from you, the ROTB fans, which were well written and thoughtfully argued.
Then, Trish read me an article about how Steve Keim lauded 4 players as leaders (Fitzgerald, Jones, Kirk and Murray) and put all other Cardinals “on notice” because of a poor practice last Tuesday and some of the veterans getting “a little too comfortable” and not playing with “any sense of urgency.”
While hearing this, I thought two very profound things: (1) how good it is of Steve Keim to serve this type of notice to the players, especially in having Kliff Kingsbury’s back in his first year as head coach; (2) how Steve Keim must know he is sitting on a potential gold mine or a colossal bust---which were both hinted at in games one and two of the pre-season respectively.
As we crossed over the Connecticut state line and into Sturbridge, Massachusetts, my oil light came on. When I pulled into a gas station the attendant discovered that I had an oil leak. The dip stick showed that I had virtually no oil left. I called AAA and my mechanic and with an hour Trish and I were riding in the cab of a huge Interstate tow truck with my car strapped to the bed---doing the 40 miles to the auto shop of my mechanic, a former student who is as loyal a friend and as fine a mechanic as any person could ever want.
I am typing this on my laptop from The Hampton Inn in Marlborough, MA. It is now Saturday morning and I hope that Hassan will be able to get my car back on the road and that I can get home to start refocusing on the plight of the 2019 Arizona Cardinals.
Last night, I had a dream. In the middle of the night I awoke in the darkness of an unfamiliar room, keenly aware of how life is a series of unpredictable twists and turns---as with the lion cub who has been romping through my dreams---came the knowledge that those who are chased away in one moment can come back to settle the score and eventually make the world right again...
Ah, there is so much to be said of a young, brave heart and his relentless pursuit of Hakuna Matata.