Saturday, February 27, 2010

1981: A New Beginning

All this year at my Facebook page, I have been taking a daily trip back in time to the 1980's. Each month I am highlighting a different year chronologically.

This month have been featuring the music, tv, movies, and important events of 1981. You can also follow this little mini-series of articles on each year of the "1980's'" by clicking on to that 'label' below this article.

As we all know, a new decade does not actually technically begin in a year that ends in a zero, it begins with the year ending in (1) one. So while 1981 might be the 2nd year of the 1980's, it's the first year of a new decade and marked a beginning in a couple of different chapters of my own life.

In late September of 1980, my little young family had moved into an apartment in South Philly. 1981 would be the first and only full calendar year that we would live there. It was an interesting year at what became simply known as 'the apartment' in our little circle of friends. We had many a Friday night party at the place in the early months of the year, but as the summer drew on things got a bit more crowded.

In another development of those early months, the news came to us that a new addition was expected in the Veasey clan. Having given birth to Chrissy the previous February, we learned that Anne was pregnant again. Given that she was due at the end of July 1981, it appeared that this was a post-World Series baby conceived in the immediate aftermath of the Phils' first-ever championship at the end of October.

So leaping forward, on July 30th, 1981, Kelly Anne Veasey came into the world. We had planned all along to actually name her 'Kerry' rather than 'Kelly'. But another young couple who lived on Anne's parents block in Prospect Park, PA, were due at the same time. They gave birth just before us, and named their new daughter 'Kerry'. That killed it, we weren't going to be seen as copy-cats. So 'Kelly' it was. A fine Irish name.

Friday, February 26, 2010

USA Owns the Winter Olympics Podium

Going into these current Winter Olympics games the host Canadians had built their national program up with the motto "Own the Podium!" for years. But as the games wind down it hasn't been the hosts but their southern American neighbors who have actually dominated the medals podium.

The current medal counts with just a couple of days of competition remaining show the United States with 8 gold, 12 silvers and 12 bronze for a total of 32 overall medals, six more than the 2nd place Germans. Noway is in 3rd place with 19, the Canadians are at 17, and the traditional power from Russia sits with just 13 medals.

It hasn't always been this dominant for the American team at the Winter Olympics. The cold weather games highlighted by competitions in alpine skiing, ice skating, hockey, bobsledding and other competitions across ice and snow have taken place since Chamonix in 1924.

The overall Winter Olympics medal leader of all-time with 603 is Norway. The rugged western Scandanavian nation with great mountainous regions is one of the farthest north in all of Europe. It's hardy and talented athletes are the only in the world to have earned more than 100 gold medals, standing at 106 as of today.

The USA team has accumulated the 2nd most medals in Winter Olympics history with a current total of 491, and their 87 gold medals are also 2nd all-time. But recent years had not been kind to the U.S. winter contingent.

At Nagano, Japan in 1998 the U.S. finished 6th with just 13 overall medals, the same total and the same finish as they had four years earlier at Lillihammer, Noway. In 1992 at Albertville, France the total had been just 11 for a 6th place finish. The last time that the Winter Olympics were held in Canada, at Calgary in 1988, the U.S. team won just 6 medals, tied for 8th place overall. They had won 8 medals at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1984, tied for 5th.

In the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York in 1980, the Americans won a total of 12 medals, finishing 3rd overall. This was the best the team had done in two decades until they came home once again at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. This was the true coming out party for the team. That year the team finished 2nd with 34 total medals, just one behind the Germans.

Four years ago, at Torino, Italy in 2006, the total slipped to 25, but that was still good enough for 2nd to the Germans 29 total. In these current Vancouver games the Americans have finally overcome the German squad, leading them by a 32-26 count with just a couple of days remaining.

The stars for the American men have included the new team all-time leading medalist, speedskater Apollo Anton Ono, as well as his gold medal-winning teammate Shani Davis, skiers Bode Miller, Johnny Spillane and Bill Demong, figure skating champ Evan Lysacek, Gen X ski-boarders Shaun White and Seth Wescott, and the hockey team led by goaltender Ryan Miller.

The talented women's team includes downhill skiers Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso, Gen X skiers and snowboarders Shannon Bahrke, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter, bobsleigh bronzers Erin Pac and Elana Meyers, and the women's hockey team which finished with the silver medal. Meryl Davis teamed with Charlie White to take the ice dancing silver.

There remain about a dozen and a half medals still up for grabs over the final three days of these games, and the American team has a chance to continue to add to it's leading totals, particularly in short-track speedskating and downhill skiing. In addition, the USA men's hockey team puts it's unbeaten record on the line in the semi-finals vs. Finland this afternoon. A win could set up a sensational gold medal rematch with Canada on Sunday.

All in all it has been a spectacularly successful Winter Olympics in Vancouver for the United States Olympic Committee and Team USA. The host Canadians have been frustrated by not only the medal count, but the embarrassment and tragedy of some poor snow and fog conditions, torch malfunctions, equipment failures, and a death due to an unsafe luge track. Instead it has been the Americans who for the first time have truly owned the podium.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

City's Main Problem: Liberals

In the Sunday, February 21st, 2010 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer an article was published at the very top of page two titled "City's main problem: poverty" written by Karen Heller.

In the article, Heller proceeds to lay every ill that befalls the city of Philadelphia - and that's plenty of ills - at the very feat of this fearsome monster known as poverty.

The city budget shows 62% of resources go towards fighting crime and social needs? Poverty is the culprit. Michelle Obama visits Philly to campaign against obesity because too many parents shove McDonald's down their kids throats? Poverty. Teachers are overworked? Poverty. School violence is tolerated? Poverty. Health rate is poor, and kids don't take education seriously? Poverty.

The problem, not with the city but with Heller's article, is that she simply cries "poverty" at every opportunity. She makes the typical liberal mistake of failing to see the forest for the trees. The problem is not some general epidemic of poverty. Philadelphia's problem is an epidemic of liberalism.

That's right, little kids go without food because of the political philosophy and ideology of liberalism. Little kids get fat in some cases because of the exact same ideology. Kids don't stay in school, don't want to stay in school let alone advance further, because of it. Violence is greatly increased because of it, and health problems are magnified because of it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Smerconish Begins to Show His True Stripes

An article for the Philadelphia Inquirer, as politically liberal a rag as exists anywhere in America today, titled "Sorry, but for me, the party is over", written by local quasi-celebrity Michael Smerconish was published in that paper's Sunday, February 21st edition 'Currents' section.

In this article, Smerconish reveals what every true local Philadelphia Republican has known for more than a year.

The man who has billed himself as THE local Republican voice, who glommed on to the popularity of programs such as Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor", and who attached themselves at the hip to commentators such as Sean Hannity, is in fact not a Republican after all.

The article, which carried a secondary headline where it continued on page C3 titled "Parting ways with the party, after 30 years", reveals that Smerconish recently had an epiphany of sorts. And he had it while standing in line at, of all places, the DMV. The Inquirer, of course, then bent over backwards to advertise this alleged political change away from conservatism. But is it really a change at all?

Smerconish goes to get his license renewed and the clerk asks him at one point as to whether he would also like to change his voter registration party affiliation. Why this is an appropriate question for some clerk at the DMV to be asking in the first place is never revealed, nor ever fully explored by the allegedly dogged journalist.

Smerconish then goes on to reveal that this was his "hallelujah" moment. One can imagine a mystical light shining down on him from above and revealing that he is actually not a Republican, nor is he a Democrat, but instead he is that most cherished of ideals. He is an "Independent" thinker, beholden to no party values! Hallelujah!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rock & Roll Heaven: Ty Longley

Embed from Getty Images
Members of Great White perform tribute to Ty Longley

Seven years ago tonight one of the greatest tragedies in music history happened. At about 11:05pm on what was a Thursday night, the band 'Great White' took the stage at a Rhode Island club known as 'The Station' and began to play the opening strains of their song "Desert Moon".

For 99 of the bands fans, and one of it's own members, what appeared to be the beginning of a night of great music would instead turn out to be the final moments of their lives.

As Ty Longley blasted into the opening chords of "Desert Moon" with his bandmates, the 31-year old was enjoying all that the rock and roll life had to offer. He was young, playing the music that he loved in front of enthusiastic fans for a living, and had a beautiful girlfriend who was expecting the couple's first child.

The Sharon, PA native Longley had joined Great White just three years earlier, well after the band had enjoyed their greatest success during the big-hair 'glam rock' days of the late 1980's. Back then the song "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" was heard across radios everywhere and the accompanying music video was an MTV staple. By that fateful night in 2003, the band was struggling for survival.

Great White had formally broken up during the period of 2000-2001, but original members Jack Russell and Mark Kendall decided to put on a tour together. Doing classic Great White songs and some of Russell's solo work, the band actually billed itself as "Jack Russell's Great White". Some of the original band's fans simply referred to them as 'Fake White', and it was this group that Longley joined as a guitarist and keyboard player.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

E.U. 21st Century = U.S.S.R. 20th Century?

What lies behind the creation of the European Union, once believed to be simply a device to expand economic relationships and opportunities, but now quite obviously a major attack on individual nationhood? Could this same fate of sacrificing national sovereignty for some ideology occur here in the United States of America?

In 1957 six countries - West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - signed what became known as the 'Treaties of Rome' establishing a 'European Economic Community' which was an effort to both foster economic opportunity and to begin stepping away from the nationalism that many saw as the root cause of the two world wars that had devastated the continent during the first half of the 20th century.

In 1973 this union of nations was enlarged when Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined what had become known as the 'European Community' with institutions covering the economy, energy, and major industry. By the end of the 70's the first direct democratic elections to a 'European Parliament' were being held.

During the 1980's, Greece, Spain and Portugal all joined and a policy of open borders was developed that eliminated the need for passports across all of Europe. In 1986 a European flag was adopted and the 'Single European Act' was signed by member nations. This act expanded on the earlier 'Treaties of Rome' and set the goal of having a common market by the end of 1992.

On November 1st, 1993 the 'Maastricht Treaty' came into force. Signed by member nations in February of '92, the treaty formally established the EU and set into motion the creation of the 'Euro' as an official currency. Sweden, Finland and Austria joined up during the 90's, and in 2002 the euro replaced the old national currency in all of the member states.

During the last decade the membership role of nations exploded into eastern Europe to include places like Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic, bringing to 27 the current total number of member states, though only 16 are included in what is known as the 'Eurozone' by accepting the euro as their official currency.

On December 1st, 2009 the 'Treaty of Lisbon' came into force after it was signed back in December of '07. This treaty basically centralized power and formalized the state symbols in the EU, weakening democracy by moving true power away from the voters in each nation and handing it over to the EU power structure, and moving one step closer to erasing individual nationalism.

It also established the first-ever official head of state, a long term 'President of the European Council' who is appointed to a 2 1/2 year term by the Council and who may be reappointed one time. Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium was selected as the first President, and is serving now until at least May of 2012.

It further and perhaps most frighteningly established an agency known as 'EuroPol', the European Police Force having full diplomatic immunity in enforcing criminal counts that include, as pointed out by former Soviet political prisoner Vladimir Bukovsky, nebulous charges such as 'racism' and 'xenophobia'.

As Bukovsky pointed out in a recent piece for the Cato Institute: "the authorities have already explained to us, in a very quiet manner, that those who might object to the immigration policy of the EU can be accused of racism. And those who oppose further integration of Europe can be charged with xenophobia."

The structure of the European Parliament was described as a "mad house" that makes the old Supreme Soviet of the USSR look "like a model legislature" due to it's 1,200-1,400 members who do not have a central meeting place and whose members normally only have an opportunity to speak in front of the group for meer minutes each year.

Why is it important to point out the old Soviet Union, which led the way to disillusionment, imprisonment, and death to millions of people during the 20th century? Because the EU is heading down the exact same socialist path, a path that has also reared it's ugly head in America with the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency here.

Back in the 1980's, with Gorbachev sensing power slipping from the increasingly damaged Soviet Union but still believing in the ideology of socialism, he met with the leaders of Europe's leftist parties who shared this vision and together they launched 'Common European Home', a project to organize socialism across all of Europe. They threw all of their considerable support behind the formation of the EU for this very purpose.

In today's Europe, behind the names and lines on your map and the pride of the people in the individual nations, a monster is swallowing up the old world. This behemoth is known as the European Union, a socialist body of cronyism and central government planning. Before the end of this century, if nothing major changes, it will lead to the same disaster that became of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviet Union, in the 20th century.

The great challenge here in the United States is the same as it was during the USSR-led rush to embrace communism and socialism in the last century. That challenge is to not be a follower and join in the rush to give up our national greatness and identity, as well as our individual freedoms. It is the challenge to instead be a leader in the fight for freedom and democracy.

The American people still have the power that the European people have slowly allowed their politicians and power brokers to negotiate away from them. We have the power to stand up and be counted, to kick the socialists and central planners out on their cans, and to hold true to the values and vision of our Constitution.

Will the United States follow the European Union, which itself is following the old Soviet Union, down the path toward socialism by beginning to form some 'North American Union' with Mexico, Canada, and other nations of the Americas, yielding our power and our pride to some nebulous central authority? Or will we stand strong for true democracy and the individual freedoms and liberties given to us as true gifts from God himself? Only the passage of 21st century time will tell.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mormons Are Christians Too

I am a big fan of the HBO series "Big Love", but the fact of the matter is that it rarely shows what life is like for the average 'Mormon' family in America or around the world.

Led on by media depictions of fringe fundamentalists, 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' has gotten a bad name in some circles.

The fact is that the vast majority of the followers of this particular strand of Christianity are regular folks, including many famous people. Donny and Marie Osmond, stars of their own 1970's variety show as teens and now again thanks to recent appearances on the popular "Dancing With the Stars" program are part of perhaps the most famous American Mormon family.

Others who have either been raised in or converted to the faith include the man recently selected as the best 2nd baseman of the 2000's, Jeff Kent, who may one day be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. They also include the recent popular "American Idol' runner-up David Archuleta. And child actor turned adult drama TV star Rick Schroeder converted to the church of which his wife has been a lifelong member.

Perhaps the most important and influential member of the church is former Massachusetts Governor and leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That importance comes from the fact of his legitimacy as a presidential candidate for a major political party.

During the 2008 election cycle, Romney ran a year-long campaign during which he won the Michigan and Nevada primaries among the 11 state primaries and caucuses that he won before dropping out in February of '08.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow All About Perspective

For some people here in the Philadelphia area and across the northeastern United States it's panic time for the third time this winter, the 2nd time in five days.

For others it's a time of excitement and anticipation. Fact is that snowfalls, even large ones, in these modern days are really all just about perspective.

Are you one of those people who reflexively have to run out to the grocery store when a large snowfall is predicted?

I stopped out at my local Acme supermarket last Friday evening just before the most recent two footer was supposed to hit. I just wanted to have a couple of 'comfort' treats in the house. By the look on the bread shelves you would have thought it was the end of the world.

The crowds bum-rushed the supermarkets and the neighborhood groceries, stripped the shelves bare of all milk, bread, eggs, and cigarettes, and then retreated to the comfort and safety of their homes where they battened down the hatches and prepared to ride out the inevitable burial inside their homes that was being forecast.

Overnight on Friday the snow began to fall, and then all through the morning and early afternoon on Saturday the storm intensified, just as predicted. The weathercasters got this one right on, and by the end we had received more than two feet for the 2nd time this winter.

But a funny thing happened by Sunday morning or afternoon at the latest.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Islamism Series: The Unholy Trinity

Though they have existed since the earliest moments of the very first terrorist groups in man's history, the links between today's 'modern' terror groups, particularly the Islamofascists that have declared open war on the United States and all of western civilization, and criminal activity is escalating at an alarming rate.

For years now we have been warned that links were forming between Islamofascist groups such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Tamil Tigers, and others with South American drug cartels. What would make such seemingly disparate groups get together in the first place?

The Islamofascists would, on the face of things, seem to be against everything that the drug cartels support. The Islamists want society run completely by Sharia Law, the Islamic religious authority and rules, and both the use of illicit drugs and the violence that accompanies their trafficking would be against that law.

From their side one would think that the last thing that the drug cartels would want would be some radical religious group that is vehemently against their business interests and that would eradicate them if possible coming to worldwide power, or even to expand their influence in any region that the cartels service.

However, the motivations of these two groups are such that they are finding in one another an ally, at least temporarily and in the short term, against an even bigger, stronger, more organized, more powerful foe. Specifically that would be the United States of America.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Top Twenty QB's in Pro Football History

Every fan has their opinions and everyone has their favorites. The following list represents the opinion of this sports fan who has followed pro football for 30 years as to the greatest quarterbacks to ever have played the game of football at the highest level.

The only restrictive criteria for me was that he had to play in what I consider the 'modern era' of pro football, though that era stretches back further than it would for baseball and other sports. For me that era begins post-World War II, when the NFL truly began to racially integrate.

The quarterbacks on this list would probably make most lists of this type, but I know for a fact that there are a couple guys who would not make many lists, and others who would be listed in different orders. At the bottom of this post is a 'label' for comments. Feel free to leave your own commentary and your own ranking.

Some have said that a quarterback should be judged by the number of championships that he has won. I firmly disagree with that statement. There have been any number of marginally talented QB's who have won the Super Bowl, and there have been tremendous talents who never got it done. That said, most of these men have won championships, some of them multiple times.

My list reflects what I have witnessed personally and what I have learned about the history of the game over these three decades as a fan. I have judged the players on my own list according to their overall accomplishments and talents, as well as factoring in that championship factor when I feel it was the QB who particularly made the difference.

So in honor of tomorrow's Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, two teams with great quarterbacks of their own in Peyton Manning (pictured here helmeted with fellow listee Tom Brady) and Drew Brees, and with particular apologies to Drew Bledsoe, Donovan McNabb and Boomer Esiason, here goes my listing of the 'Top Twenty Quarterbacks in Pro Football History':

#20> DAN FOUTS - the 9th-highest of all-time with 43,040 passing yards and 12th with 254 passing TD's who was selected for the NFL's 1980's All-Decade Team. As leader of the storied San Diego Chargers 'Air Coryell' he was the first QB to ever throw for 4,000 in consecutive seasons, and is one of only 7 NFL QB's to throw 30 or more TD passes in consecutive seasons. He was a 2-time AP NFL and UPI AFC MVP including in 1982 when he was also selected as the NEA NFL MVP and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year. In last year's celebration of the franchise' 50th anniversary, Charger fans voted him the 'Greatest Charger of All-Time'.

#19> WARREN MOON - the 5th ranked yardage passer in NFL history with 49,325 yards and 6th with 291 touchdown passes, Moon was black-balled out of the NFL in the late 70's because he was a black QB who refused to change positions, and thus played his first six seasons in the Canadian Football League. There he helped Edmonton win 5 straight Grey Cups while throwing for over 21,000 more yards and 144 more TD's. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is also a member of the CFL Hall of Fame.

#18> JOE NAMATH - he would make this list if for no other reason than his incredible 'guaranteed victory' MVP performance in Super Bowl III which truly put the AFL on the map. A first round draft pick in 1965 of both the NFL and AFL, he was alternately known as 'Broadway Joe' or 'Joe Willie' and threw for over 27,000 yards and 173 TD's in an injury-plagued and shorterned career. In 1974 he was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year. Namath was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is also a member of the AFL's All-Time Team.

#17> JIM KELLY - the 15th-highest yardage passer in NFL history with 35,467 and 18th with 237 TD passes, Kelly began his career with two seasons in the USFL. There he led was the league MVP in 1984 and threw for 9,842 more yards and 83 more touchdowns. When the USFL collapsed, Kelly moved to the NFL's Buffalo Bills where he led the team to the playoffs in 8 of his 11 seasons, including to the Super Bowl four straight years (losing each.) He was elected in 2002 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

#16> PHIL SIMMS - the MVP of Super Bowl XXI in 1987 and a career member of the New York Giants who ranks 20th in all-time NFL passing yards with 33,462 and threw for 199 career touchdowns. A two-time Super Bowl champ with the Giants, he was the winner of the NEA player's poll for 1986 NFL MVP, and was the MVP of the 1985 Pro Bowl. Coming out of college in 1979, Bill Walsh actually wanted to draft Simms rather than Joe Montana, but the Giants surprised many by taking Simms with their 1st round selection.

#15> TROY AIKMAN - the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 who threw for 32,942 yards and tossed 165 TD's as a 3-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys. He was the #1 overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft and led the Cowboys franchise, which had fallen on hard times, back to prominence. He was the winner of the Walter Peyton Award as the NFL Man of the Year in 1997, and in 2006 was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

#14> KURT WARNER - the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 when he threw for a record 414 yards who led two teams to the NFL's ultimate game. Warner threw for 32,344 yards and tossed 208 touchdowns and is widely recognized as one of the most accurate passers in NFL history. He holds the NFL record for highest completion percentage in a single game, is one of only 2 NFL QB's with a passer rating over 120 in 4 consecutive games, and is one of only 3 QB's to record 3 games with a perfect passer rating in their careers. He was the winner of the Walter Peyton Award as the NFL Man of the Year in 2008, as well as the 2-time AP and 3-time NEA NFL Most Valuable Player.

#13> KEN STABLER - the left-hander nicknamed 'the Snake' who threw for 27,938 yards and 194 TD's mostly with the Oakland Raiders. He led the Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XI and was selected for the NFL's All-1970's Team. He was the NFL passing champion in 1976, a 2-time AFC Player of the Year, the 1974 NFL MVP, the 1976 Bert Bell Award winner as the top pro football player, and also was the last winner of the Hickock Belt as the top pro athlete of the year in 1976. He has been black-balled by the Pro Football Hall of Fame due to off-field antics including at least 3 DUI arrests while in retirement.

#12> BART STARR - the Most Valuable Player of the first two Super Bowls in history and the iconic leader of the great Vince Lombardi-coached 1960's Green Bay Packers. He threw for 24,718 yards and 152 TD's for a team and in an era when running the ball was the dominant philosophy. Selected to the 1960's NFL All-Decade Team, he remains the only player to ever quarterback his team to 5 NFL Championships. He later went on to become the head coach of the Packers, leading them in 1982 to their only playoff appearance in a 2-decade period. He was the consensus 1966 NFL Most Valuable Player and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

#11> FRAN TARKENTON - the 1975 NFL MVP, Bert Bell Award, and Offensive Player of the Year Award winner who led the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls during a four year stretch in the mid-70's only to lose them all. He is 6th all-time with 47,003 passing yards in the NFL and 4th with 342 touchdown passes. Nicknamed 'The Mad Scrambler' early in his career, he is considered perhaps the greatest scrambling QB in NFL history and rushed for 3,674 yards and 32 TD's in his career. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

#10> DAN MARINO - ranked 2nd in NFL history with 61,361 yards and 420 TD passes, it's amazing that he is this low, until you see the nine names ahead of him and factor in that he never won an NFL championship, leading his Miami Dolphins to an appearance in the Super Bowl just one time early in his career. He was the consesus NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 1984, and a decade later was still good enough to be named the 1994 UPI AFC Player of the Year and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He was the first QB to pass for over 5,000 yards and the first to pass for over 4,000 six times. He was the 1998 Walter Payton Award winner as the NFL Man of the Year, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

#9> TERRY BRADSHAW - the first player selected in the 1970 NFL Draft when the Pittsburgh Steelers won a coin toss for the chance to get him, he became a 4-time Super Bowl champion and the only back-to-back Super Bowl MVP in XIII and XIV. He threw for 27,989 yards and 212 passes in his career with the legendary 'Steel Curtain'-era Steelers teams before injuries derailed and then ended his career prematurely in the early 1980's. A member of the 1970's NFL All-Decade Team, he was the 1978 NFL MVP and Bert Bell Award winner. He has enjoyed a lengthy and popular post-playing career as a TV analyst. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

#8> JOHNNY UNITAS - the man nicknamed 'Johnny U' was also considered as 'The Man With the Golden Arm', an appendage that threw for 40,239 yards which is 11th all-time and 290 TD passes which is 7th all-time. Between 1956 and 1960 he threw a touchdown pass in 47 straight games, still a record. He led the Baltimore Colts to 3 NFL Championships, including the 1958 title that has been nicknamed 'The Greatest Game Ever Played' as well as a title in Super Bowl V in 1970. He was selected to the NFL 1960's All-Decade Team, is a 3-time winner of both the NFL MVP and Pro Bowl MVP honors, a 3-time winner of the Bert Bell Award, and was the 1970 NFL Man of the Year. In 1994 he was one of four QB's selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

#7> ROGER STAUBACH - 'Roger the Dodger' whose Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry described as "possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete and a leader to ever play in the NFL." He threw for 22,700 yards and 153 TD passes, and ran for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns despite a career that started late due to a 5-year commitment to the U.S. Navy, which included a stint serving in Vietnam. He was a 2-time Super Bowl champion and the MVP of Super Bowl VI. Upon his retirement, his 83.4 completion percentage was the highest of all-time. Selected to the NFL 1970's All-Decade Team, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

#6> STEVE YOUNG - the great-great-great grandson of Mormom icon Brigham Young and the 2nd lefty on this list, Young is also another who began his career in the USFL. Perhaps the greatest dual-threat QB in history, he threw for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns while rushing for another 4,239 yards and 43 TD's in the NFL. In his brief USFL career, Young became the first pro QB to ever pass for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100 in a single game. He was a 3-time Super Bowl champion including as the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX. He was a 2-time consensus NFL MVP and 2-time Bert Bell Award winner and retired with a 96.8 career quarterback rating.

#5> PEYTON MANNING - the man best-positioned to some day move up on this list, he will try to lead the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl title for the 2nd time in 4 years tomorrow night. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, and is 4th in NFL history in passing yardage with 50,128 and 3rd with 366 touchdown passes. He turns 34 years old next month, is healthy, and appears poised for many more years of prolific passing. He is a 4-time AP NFL Most Valuable Player, and was selected for the NFL's 2000's All-Decade Team. There is no doubt that he will wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame upon completion of his playing career.

#4> BRETT FAVRE - the all-time NFL leader in passing yardage with 69,329 and passing touchdowns with 497 says (again) that he will retire, but might a shot at 500 career TD's and 70,000 career passing yards as well as another shot at a Super Bowl cause him to (again) reconsider? He was a Super Bowl champion as the long-time QB of the Green Bay Packers and was selected to the NFL's 1990's All-Decade Team. He was named the AP NFL MVP three straight years from 1995-97, and is a 5-time NFC Player of the Year. He is also the NFL's 'Iron Man' having started a record 285 consecutive games, and as with Manning he will undoubtedly be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after his final legitimate retirement.

#3> JOE MONTANA - the 10th highest yardage passer in NFL history with 40,551 and 9th with 273 TD passes, he is widely considered the best 'big-money' QB the game has ever known. 'Joe Cool' won 4 Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and was named the MVP three times in XVI, XIX and XXIV. He was a 2-time winner of the AP NFL MVP Award including in 1989 when he was the consensus league MVP, the Offensive Player of the Year, and the Bert Bell Award winner. He won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Award in 1986, and was named to the NFL's 1980's All-Decade Team. In 1994 he was one of four QB's selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

#2> JOHN ELWAY - perhaps the most naturally gifted quarterback in NFL history and arguably the flat-out strongest arm, he passed for 51,475 yards which is 3rd all-time in the NFL and for 300 touchdowns which is 5th all-time. He led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl three times early in his career but lost all three times. After almost a decade passed he finally returned Denver to the NFL's ultimate game and they won Super Bowl XXXI in an upset over Favre's defending champ Packers. The following year he was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXXIII as he led the team to it's 2nd straight title, meaning that he led the team to five total Super Bowl appearances. He was named to the NFL's 1990's All-Decade Team, won the 1987 NFL MVP Award, and was a 2-time AFC Offensive Player of the Year. In 2004 he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

#1> TOM BRADY - anyone surprised to see him at the top of the list should consider the offensive weapons that he has had to work with compared with those behind him. He has passed for 30,844 yards and 225 TD's in his career, and at age 32 is poised to make a big move on the all-time NFL leader boards in both categories over the next several years. He is the undisputed leader of what is already a 3-time Super Bowl championship dynasty with the New England Patriots, including as the MVP of both Super Bowl XXVI and XXXVIII. He was the SI Sportsman of the Year in 2005, and in 2007 was the AP Male Athlete of the Year, and both the NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. This past year of 2009 he was selected as the NFL Comeback Player of the Year after missing all of '08 with a severe knee injury. He has a career 93.3 quarterback rating, and will undoubtedly be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day after retiring, which may not happen until the 2nd half of this decade. To top things off, Brady is married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, with whom he now has two children.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

TV Watch: LOST

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"Lost" on ABC is as addictive as a TV series can get

For the past few years when I would watch something on the ABC television network I saw commercials for "LOST", a program that I had never watched.

Over time I would hear numerous friends and family members talk about this show, see and hear references to it in popular culture, and wonder what all the fascination was about.

Sometime late last spring I decided to do something about it. I signed up for the 'Netflix' service and began to receive DVD's of "LOST" beginning with the pilot episode. That first introduction to this new series was a revelation. The production value for a pilot episode of a TV program was equal to what you would normally expect to find at a movie theatre in a motion picture. I was hooked.

There is a very famous anonymous quote that goes: "For those who know, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, none will suffice." Suffice it to say this quote applies perfectly to the "LOST" experience. If you have never watched the show, I cannot recommend it more highly. You can catch up as I did through Netflix, or via any number of internet resources.