Touring Mile High Stadium

Two nice thing about my recent trip to Denver (aside from seeing family and friends I haven't seen in years): 1) Got a nice road trip with three of my boys and lots of time together. 2) We were able to take a tour of Mile High Stadium. (Yeah, I know it's Sports Authority Field at Mile High but that's not what I call it.) The overall trip was some good bonding time and the two hour tour of the stadium was a blast for me and the kids and something I hope the boys will remember for a long, long time.

Me and the boys. November 22. That white stuff on the field helps keep the heat in while letting enough light through.

Sign above the Broncos locker room. Says it all!!!!

What the visiting team sees when they walk out of their locker room. Just a friendly reminder to watch out for altitude sickness. :)

My Kids: Hardcore Football Fans

For the last couple years I’ve bought a family pass to Utah’s forgotten college football team. It’s turned into something that the oldest four kids really look forward to. And even though I spend more time keeping up with the kids than watching the action on the field, it’s something I look forward too as well.

This season has been an ignominious one for Weber State. They’ve only won one game and are struggling on offence, defense, and special teams.  Today was the team’s last home game. If anything it was a garbage game as both Weber State and Northern Colorado had nothing to play for but pride. To make things worse, Mother Nature dumped 12 inches of snow in the last 24 hours and the forecast called for temperatures to be below freezing. Because of the freezing weather, I decided to give the kids a choice: we could go to the football game or we could go to the game or a nearby entertainment center and play laser tag and (indoor) miniature golf.

Much to my surprise the all four kids voted for the football game. There wasn’t any hesitation to their decision either. They all wanted to spend the afternoon at the game no matter what the weather. So I dressed the kids as warm as I could and packed blankets and other warm things into the van and off we went.

Even though we only made it until half time (it got too cold for the younger ones), everyone had a good time playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and huddling under blankets for warmth. Yes, Weber State put in another lackluster performance, but that’s not what mattered. What was important that the kids had a fun-filled afternoon with Dad and we all made lots of memories together. In that respect the cold, the snow, and watching Weber State lose was worth it.

Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

A Halftime Show Worth Watching

When I attend college football games with the kids, halftime is used to stretch my legs and make sure that the kids take bathroom breaks so we don't have to make an emergency run to the potty while the home team makes a last minute, fourth quarter drive.  But then the halftime shows I catch fleeting glimpses of are not anywhere near as amazing as what the Ohio State marching band puts on. If they were, I'd be happy to do bathroom breaks at the beginning of the third quarter. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAzzbrFgcUw

My SuperBowl XLVI Prediction

This is the first time in years I don't have a gut pick. I can see both teams winning. That being the case I need to go with the Giants simply because I like to  underrated Eli Manning beat Tom Brady again. And they'll beat them by the same 17-14 score when these teams met in the big game three years ago.

But No matter who wins, I intend to have another fun Super Bowl party. Hope you all enjoy it too.

Why I Love Tim Tebow

As a lifelong Broncos fan, I have to admit my interest in the team has waned over the last decade. Season after season of losing and subpar performances severely taxed my interest. Still, like all fans, I keep waiting for the preverbal “next year” to arrive and deliver the Broncos from the wilderness to the promised land of playoffs and Super Bowl rings.

Then comes along Tim Tebow and everything changes. The Broncos, with him at quarterback, are 7-1. Today they beat the Bears in what can only be described as a series of miracles: Marion Barber getting knocked out of bounds with 1:06 left giving the Broncos a fighting chance. Matt Prayer hitting a 59-yard field goal as time expired. Then, in overtime, Barber fumbled the ball. The Broncos recovered and kicked the winning field goal a few minutes letter. The Broncos just won their sixth game in a row thanks to the arms, legs, and heart of a quarterback most people thought would never play a game in the NFL. You couldn’t write a better Hollywood script. It was like the Gods of Football want Tebow and the Broncos to win.

Despite a 7-1 record as a starter, Tebow’s still a polarizing figure. He wins ugly. He believes in Jesus—big time. He’s driving all the football experts crazy. But I don’t care about any of that. Thanks to Tebow, Broncos games are fun to watch again. They’re in sole position of first place in the AFC West with a great shot of making the playoffs. For the first time in years, I’m actually looking forward to the games.

As a Broncos fan, that’s all that matters.

Thanksgiving Football Rules

If you're like me and play football on Thanksgiving morning with family and neighbors, The Wall Street Journal Sports Writer Jason Gay has 32 rules you need to know before playing.

1. If you have a healthy relationship with your family and speak to them all the time, you're playing touch. If you see your family only once a year, it's tackle.

2. Find a nice patch of grass. It doesn't have to be big. You don't need a regulation 100 yards. Half the people in your family, if they ran 100 yards, they'd wind up in the hospital for a month.

3. The game must be played before dinner. Nobody wants to play football after Thanksgiving. Nobody wants to wear pants after Thanksgiving.

4. All family on the field! Everyone plays. Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Cousin Jake, and Regis the one-eyed Jack Russell terrier. Don't laugh. Regis is the best receiver you've got.

***

24. Three-minute halftime. Don't kill the momentum. Anything longer, and aging muscles seize up. Remember: if Daddy sits, Daddy is d-o-n-e.

25. If you're playing on a city street, please don't dent the blue Honda, or I will find you.

26. If you're a random guest at Thanksgiving, it's your job to be good at touch football. Lie and say you "played a little" at Alabama and pray you don't completely embarrass yourself.

27. If you find yourself surrounded by middle-aged men in blue jeans and a quarterback who keeps getting picked off, you're not with your family. You've accidentally walked into a Brett Favre Wrangler spot.

Read the entire article.

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

College Football = Family Time

As a kid my dad took me and my brother to Utah State football games. Some of my fondest memories as a 5-year-old were sitting about as high as one can sit in Romney Stadium watching the action on the field.

We moved soon after that and though I watched a lot of football with my dad, we didn’t attend any Utah State games for another 10 years or so. The only reason we went back was because Utah State offered family passes to their football games. Since they were cheap, I was able to talk my dad into getting one. I think the family only attended the first game. I believe my dad and I were the only ones that used the pass after that. Most of the time we watched the Aggies get their butts kicked by unheralded college teams like Pacific and Cal State Fullerton but we had a good time anyway. It was football, after all. It was hard not to have a good time.

Looking back, I realize the games we went to as a kid and a teenager were fun not because of the football but because I got to hang out with my dad. Now that I have young kids of my own who like watching games the occasional game on TV and playing football in the yard with me, I thought it would be fun to take them to some college games. The problem was finding a close and fun place to take them.

The popular college football tickets in this state are to Utah and BYU games. Having attended games in both stadiums I know from firsthand experience that neither are places I want to take young kids. The passion and intensity that can be found in both places is great if you’re in college or an adult who has his or her identity wrapped up in a football team, but there not so good if you’re a dad trying to spend a fun Saturday afternoon with the kids. (Utah State games aren’t much better.)

Last year I got word that my alma mater, Weber State, was offering family passes for its home football games. I bought one on a whim even though I wasn’t sure if my kids were going to enjoy it. At the very least I figured it would give me an excuse to go to a couple of games—even if I ended up going with just one or two of the kids. Besides, I figured the kids would have a good time since Weber State games are about as family friendly as a football game can get. On a good day the stadium is half full. That means if your kids get bored about halfway through the game, there’s plenty of empty bleachers to play on and tons of other bored kids to befriend. And the fans that do show up for games never have high expectations. If Weber State wins, everyone goes home happy and somewhat pleasantly surprised. If they lose, everyone shrugs their shoulders and goes home happy. It’s kind of the way sporting events should be.

Much to my delight, the kids loved going to the games. Granted they seemed to enjoy the kettle corn and root beer I bought them just as much, if not more, than the action on the field but the loading up the van on Saturday afternoons and making the 90 minute drive to Ogden become something they really looked forward to.

This year renewing the family pass was a no-brainer. The tickets arrived in the mail yesterday and the kids were thrilled when I showed them what was in the envelope. We marked the games on the calendar and the kids went to bed tonight chattering about kettle corn and upcoming football games. And to be honest, I’m just as excited about it as they are.

When they look back at these days I hope they realize the reason I take them to football games isn’t because of the action on the grid iron. It’s because I enjoy spending lots of uninterrupted time with them. Football games just happen to be a fun way to do just that.

Random Thoughts November 2010

(With apologies in advance to Thomas Sowell.) San Francisco recently banned toys in kids meals with high fat content in an attempt to help put the brakes on childhood obesity. This makes me seriously wonder if any members of the board of supervisors have kids of their own. Most kids don’t want to go to McDonalds because they can get a toy. Most kids (including my own) want to go because so they can play in the big play area and they like the food. They’ve never, ever asked to go to McDonalds or any other fast food restraint so they could get a toy. And, no, my kids aren’t an anomaly, research backs this up.

Losing weight is as simple as eating fewer calories. You don’t need fancy diets. You don’t need to exercise. Just use some self-control and eat less. Don’t believe me? Ask Mark Haub who lost 27 pounds in two months eating protein shakes, green beans, and twinkies.

The one thing that bugged me about the article about Haub was that they touted that his body mass index (BMI) “went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal.” Normal? Never, ever use the BMI as an indication of health or being “normal.” Aside from the fact that everyone has different body types, the BMI measures mass – not health or ideal wieght. When I enter in my height and weight I come out with a BMI of 26.9. (That’s about in the middle of the overweight column.) The reason? I have a lot of muscle mass from daily weight lifting routines. I’d probably have a lot more muscle (and a higher BMI) if I didn’t run 20+ miles a week. Overweight? Not. A. Chance.

Speaking of people with weight problems, here’s one more reason to like New Jersey governor Chris Christie. I wish he was governor of Utah. (Hat tip: Half Sigma)

I’m about half way through NaNoWriMo and have mixed feelings about it. For all my author and wannabe author friends, I’ll post a summary of the experience after it comes to an end.

I managed to take my kids to 4 out of 5 Weber State football games this fall. Of course I missed the one game I really wanted to attend. But all the kids had fun and it was fun family time. They’re already asking when we can buy tickets for next year.

My Broncos are suffering through another ignominious football season. It would be a lot worse, however, if I was a Cowboys fan.

Marathon Girl bought some Christmas music the other day. As a result, it’s all the kids want to listen to. For some reason I just can’t get into any holiday spirit unless it’s after Thanksgiving and there’s snow on the ground. I guess this means I’d be a constant grouch if we ever move to Houston.

I’ve done a bad job of updating my blog roll. I checked it the other day and realized that a lot of the people I listed no longer blog or have changed their blog address. Anyway, I’ve updated it. Check it out when you have a minute. And if you have any blog suggestions, feel free to send them my way. I’m always looking for a good read.

How to Play Real Football

This fall I’ve taken my kids to three college football games. One of the unintended consequences of this activity is that they think I don’t know a darn thing about how to play the game.

Take Saturday, for example. I take the kids to the park so we can play football. I divide everyone up into teams and hand the ball to my oldest kid. He gives me a quizzical look and hands the ball back to me.

“We can’t play yet,” he says.

“Why not?” I reply.

“Because we haven’t run out of the tunnel yet,” he says matter-of-factly.

Now it’s my turn to give him a quizzical look. “What are you talking about?”

“Before the game starts the players run out of the tunnel and you say what team you’re playing for.”

Now I get it. At the games I’ve taken them to, the teams run out of tunnels on the other side of the field. He wants to do the same thing.

“OK,” I say, “run out of the tunnel.

He and his brother run around the park and yell “Denver Broncos!” at the top of their lungs. They run back to me and I hand the ball to him.

“Hike the ball,” I said.

“We can’t Dad,” he said. “You haven’t run out of the tunnel yet.”

“I don’t need to—“

“All the teams run out of the tunnel,” he says. “Oh, and you’re the Indianapolis Colts.”

The Colts? I don’t want to be the Colts. I open my mouth to object but realize it could be worse. He could have asked me to be the Oakland Raiders.

So me and my daughter run around the field and let the world know we’re the Colts. When I get back to the ling of scrimmage the oldest hands me the ball.

“You start,” I tell him.

“No, Dad. You need to kick the ball to us.”

“What?”

“They kick the ball off to start the game,” he says as tosses me the ball.

The kickoff. How could I forget that?

I walk back to the goal line. My boys back up. I kick the ball over their heads. Laughing, they both run after it.  My oldest picks up the ball and I wrestle him to the ground. He jumps up and gets ready to hike the ball to his brother.

“We’re going to get a touchdown!” he says before hiking the ball.

Let the game begin.

Random Thoughts

(With apologies in advance to Thomas Sowell.) For the first time in years I’ve had a hard time getting up in the mornings to run. I think it’s because school’s started and the boys don’t have time in the mornings to come with me on their bikes.

I will move to the Houston area one day. If Houston doesn’t work out, then I’ll move somewhere in Texas. Yes, even Austin. :-)

After watching the Detroit Tigers once again collapse after the All-Star Break, I wonder how much long-term damage I’m doing to my kids by letting them become Tiger fans.

I wish I was a good artist. Then I could write killer stories and turn them into awesome graphic novels.

I can’t get the song “Love Is All Around” out of my head. I blame Marathon Girl since I’ve done nothing but stay with her all day.

Forget writing groups, I want a brainstorming group. You know, one where I can share at least one half-dozen novels that are floating around in my head and get some feedback from readers and writers. Isn’t that one of the things that a writing group does, you ask? Yes. But a writing group requires a long-term commitment. I don’t have time for that right now.

Between Hulu, Netflix, and all the other network websites I find that I don’t miss TV at all. Not. One. Bit.

Johnny Damon hasn’t done much for the Tigers but I was glad to see him stay in Detroit. Maybe next time Red Sox fans will think twice before coming vitriolic toward players who leave their team.

The nice thing about discovering an author that you haven’t read before is that he or she has usually written several other novels that you can dive into. My new author discovery this summer? Harlan Coben.

I need more than six hours of sleep a night.

I’m glad football season is about to begin. I’m looking forward to taking the kids to some low-intensity college football games in the coming months.

The Perfect Game

Football Cake

Tonight was one of the most fun Super Bowl parties I’ve ever had, and it had nothing to do with the Saints 31-17 victory over the hapless Colts. What made it so special was, for the first time, my two oldest boys took an active interest in goings on before and during the game.

My 5 year old helped me make and decorate a cake (pictured above) along with making some sauce for my hot wings. My 4 year old watched the first and fourth quarters with me while updating me on scoring changes along with making comments after every play. (Why did he drop the ball, Dad? Hey, he just scored a touchdown!) And they both ate more food than was good for them.

The result after all was said and done was two happy boys and a happy dad who are looking forward to more moments like this in the days and years to come.

My Super Bowl XLIV Prediction

Super Bowl XLIV Saints Colts

I'm really looking forward to this year’s Super Bowl party because of my oldest boys increasing interest in football. Ever since I took them to their first college football game last fall, they’ve become much more interested in watching it on TV. And though I think they’ll probably make it through the first quarter before going off to play with their cousins, I’m looking forward to watching at least part of it with them.

***

Yes, on paper the Saints/Colts matchup looks to be wildly entertaining, and I hope the game lives up to the hype. I’d love to watch a game with a dozen lead changes and last second touchdown to win the game.

But I don’t see it.

If anything I see a blowing coming—something we haven’t seen in the big game for many years. I’m rooting for the Saints to win because I have a soft place in my heart for the underdogs. Plus it’s nice to see them finally playing in the big game. But I think Peyton Manning and the gang have been here before. I think he’ll shred the Saints defense and have things nicely wrapped up by the third quarter.

My pick: Colts 44-17 but I’d rather watch a nail bitter—no matter who wins.

The Sports Kids Love

I was contemplating taking the kids to another college football game yesterday but a steady snowfall and temperatures in the 20s make me reconsider. Even though I would have loved to watch a game in the driving snow storm, I doubt the kids would have lasted past the first quarter. And since I want them to enjoy going to football games, it’s probably not a good idea to have them associate them with freezing temperatures and snow—at least until they’re old enough to want to do something like that. Instead we stayed home and played copious amounts of Chutes & Ladders, war, rogue chess, and many other card and board games. A good time was had by all.

Last weekend I took them to their first Utah Jazz game. This means in the last year or so they’ve attended a major league baseball game, college football game, and an NBA game. Aside from making them spoiled rotten, it’s been interesting to see how they act at different events and which ones they enjoy the most. For any parents in the crowd, here’s my take on how young kids (say, 6 and under) enjoy different sporting events.

Best: (college) football. There’s enough stoppage between plays that they can stand up and do whatever they want then focus their attention back on the field. And since most plays take up quite a bit of the field, there’s a lot to focus on. By the end of the game the boys understood the basics of the game and could read the scoreboard. (Read about the experience here.) And after watching a game in person, whenever we throw the football around the yard, they now want to play “real” (read: tackle) football. Final Weber State game is next Saturday. If the weather warms up, I’ll consider taking them.

Okay: baseball. The game is slow enough for them to follow the action while still act like kids and find all sorts of ways to entertain themselves during the breaks in the game. The problem is that when the action does occur, 90% of it takes place between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. It was hard for them to pay attention to that small area or watch the ball get thrown back and forth. They enjoyed it more when the bat and ball made contact. Will probably take them to a handful of minor league games next summer and see how they handle it.

Too soon: basketball. Despite row 7 seats, the Jazz game was too fast for them to follow. They got the concept of putting the ball in the hoop but that was about it. Score changed too fast for them to follow. Parts of the game were too loud for them—something they didn’t enjoy. The best part of the game for them was watching the Jazz Bear. Might wait a few years before trying this one again. Might consider some Utah Flash games if the chance arises. Those games aren’t as noisy and they won’t have to watch Carlos Boozer screw things up.

No Super Bowl XLII Tickets

 

I received a letter from the NFL today. Sadly it wasn't about my offer to purchase the Denver Broncos for $1,000. (They way they'e playing of late, I'm getting the raw end of that deal!) Rather it was to inform me that I wasn't selected in their random drawing to purchase Super Bowl XLII tickets.

The letter read:

Dear NFL Fan:

Your name was part of the Super Bowl XLII random drawing that included all written requests received by this office between February 1 and June 1. The National Football League regrets to notify you that your entry was not selected. All Super Bowl tickets available from the NFL for public sale have been allocated.

We appreciate your continued interest in Super Bowl games and the NFL.

Sincerely,

The National Football League.

You'd think the NFL could at least personalize these letters or, at the very least, have Roger Godsell personally sign all rejection letters. It appears the NFL has become another large and impersonal conglomerate. When did that happen? :-)

I guess this means Marathon Girl and I won't be traveling to Phoenix this February to enjoy the game. (Sorry Brent.) Instead we'll just have to invite everyone to our own Super Bowl party which is a lot funner and a lot less expensive. The only down side I can see to the game this year is that it looks like the Broncos won't be part of it.

It Ain't Cheating If You Don't Get Caught

Back in high school I read a funny book about cheating in baseball titled It Ain't Cheating If You Don't Get Caught. The book contained hilarious stories about players and managers who would steal other team'signals and how they were caught. (And if Mr. Sensitive has a good memory, he might remember that I was asked to quiet down upon discovering this book at the library because I was laughing so hard.) Baseball only bans the use of electronic devices to steal signals (a rule implemented in 1961). However, the practice of stealing signs and signals is something that still goes on today in the major leagues. That's why you see coaches or managers going through 50 different hand and arm signals between pitches. They're changing up the signals and doing their best to convey the sign to their player but hoping to confuse the other team. The unwritten rule is baseball is this: Steal signals all you want. Just don't use electronic means to do it. And if you do steal signals, don't get caught doing it.

The NFL has similar rules. You can't videotape an opposing team's signals. The unwritten rule is this: Use some binoculars and a pen. Just don't get caught doing it.

So when the New England Patriots were caught stealing signals against the New York Jets last Sunday, I expected some kind of punishment to be meted out by the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell but was more than a little surprised that the NFL came down hard on coach Bill Belichick by fining him $500,000 and penalizing the Patriots $250,000 and a first day draft pick in 2008.

Personally I find the antics of Goodell and hysterical whining of other coaches and players rather amusing

They're all are acting like the lily white reputation of the NFL is on the line with this incident.

Give me a break.

It's not like the Patriots were throwing games or finding some way to pay off the other team. The Patriots were simply trying to get a competitive edge and got caught with their pants down.

Does Goodell really think people are going to stop watching games on Sunday afternoon because one team was a little too blatant and cocky in their signal stealing scam? The NFL has endured plenty of scandalous actions much worse than Belichick's little stunt.

Anyone remember what Michael Vick plead guilty too? What about all the stunts Al Davis and his Raiders supposedly pulled? Do we really want to get into all the incidents surrounding Pacman Jones?

The NFL has survived these other incidents because the game is bigger than a coach or a player. And it's certainly bigger than some guy with a camera pointed at a defensive coach.

I also find it hard to believe that the owners, teams, and coaches who are so indignant about the signal stealing incident have never tried to stealing signals from an opposing team before. Maybe they've never used a camera but to think they don't even try? Yeah, right.

Now teams are claiming the Patriots have been stealing signals for years. If so, why didn't teams make a big deal out of it years ago? Sports writers and columnists are always looking for a breaking story that could make a career. This would have fallen in that category.

Funny how now one thought to raise a stink until the Patriots got caught.

It's not a disgrace that the Patriots have been stealing signals for years. What is a disgrace is that their opponents let this signal stealing allegedly go on for so long without finding a way to steal the Patriots' signals or, at the very least, find a better way to mask their own calls.

Now that the stunt was uncovered, they're running to the teacher complaining that someone knocked out of the lunch line.

Here's my advice to those who are acting like a whiney six year old: Get up and push back. Find some ingenious way to steal the Patriots' signals when you play them next and/or just give them a whooping on the gridiron.

The NFL is supposed to be a game played and coached by the "toughest" men in the world.

Itâ's time to start acting like it.