Hurricane Harvey!

I assume most people have heard of Hurricane Harvey by now?  If you look at the picture above it warns of a storm, well, it formed and it is bearing down on Texas.  The thought of any hurricane is a scary, but when you read a little about this storm it certainly is frightening.  The outer bands have already made landfall and it is predicted to make landfall tonight or tomorrow morning.  Some would think the wind speeds are the most important or most dangerous part of a hurricane.  That is not always the case, in this instance it will be the water that causes the damage.

A hurricane warning is in effect for 1.5 million people and another 16 million are under a tropical storm warning.  That is a lot of people!  The storm should not be taken lightly.  Many of the counties on the coast have issued evacuation orders.  Of course, evacuations will lead to major traffic issues.  I can imagine it would be hard to leave your home and sit in traffic jams, but your life is more important and that has to take priority.

Many, including myself, associate hurricanes with strong winds.  Hurricane Harvey is being predicted to strengthen to a category 3.  What does that mean? A category 3 will have winds of at least 111+ mph. Clearly, wind of that speed is very scary. It could possibly tear your house apart, it will destroy plenty of trees, and it will knock down plenty of power poles.  All of that will lead to a rough recovery by itself.  However, it is being predicted that the worst part of the storm will be the amount of water that is present.  This storm could bring a storm surge of 6-12 feet in some areas.  Storm surge is the rise of sea water that would not normally happen.  So anything on the coast that is not above that height will probably be flooded. If you combine the wind speed and surge it can be scary.  Now, add it to an estimated 35″ of rain in areas and think about the devastation!  That’s right, 35″ of rain is being forecasted for certain areas. New York City averages 42″ of rain in an entire year.  Imagine getting 80% of that amount in 3-4 days!

Wrapping my mind around the possibility of 35″ of rain is not easy.  All of the damage caused by the wind, surge, and rain will be catastrophic.  There will be people that are out of their homes for a long time.  Quite honestly, some people might not ever go back to their homes.  There may be nothing left of some homes.  Hopefully, the evacuations will lower the population to a point that our first responders are not risking their own lives needlessly.  As sad as it is losing your home and possessions, they can be replaced.  You can not replace a life!  Please be safe and we will hope for the best possible outcome.

—Victor Mandalawi



College Football is Back!!

Last week I wrote about football being back. It was about the upcoming NFL season.  What I left out of the article was that college football is around the corner as well.  Many people prefer to watch college football even though the talent is not the same. I personally enjoy watching the NFL more, however, I prefer the college gameday experience more than a professional gameday setting.  What makes the college setting preferable?  A new season is beginning and that has to mean Alabama is highly rated, which means Nick Saban is more grumpy than ever.  Who are the favorites this year?  What players have the best shot at winning the Heisman Trophy?

There are plenty of articles available, like this one, that rank the best places for a game are.  Most of these articles are usually just biased. If they are not biased they can not take into account the readers feelings.  It would be hard to rank another place over your home school for quite a few reasons. Usually, “home” feels better than any other place.  Also, how about the company you are in?  If your friends are with you, I would think you can have a great time no matter what tailgate you are at. In the end, I believe the college atmosphere is just more family friendly than a professional setting.

Week one is right around the corner and every week in college football there is a marque match-up.  This year is no different as we will be able to see Mich vs. FLA and Alabama vs. FLA St.  All 4 of those teams could find themselves in the playoff at the end of the year.  That is one reason these games are so important.  However, if they lose this game they will not be out of chances to get in, but I do not think they will be able to lose again during the year.  The preseason rankings are loaded with plenty of familiar names.  Some will be in the rankings at the end of the year and a few will flame out and have rough seasons.  That is just the nature of the beast and why you play the games!  Check out this clip of Nick Saban discussing that very topic.

Another topic I love to follow is the Heisman Trophy.  It may be losing some of the prestige, or maybe that is just because I am getting old?  Regardless, I still like to follow the players throughout the year. Here is a list giving you the odds for a certain player to win the trophy. Clearly, it is ridiculous to rank them this early as you should not even think about it until halfway through the season.  Even then it is hard to judge who had the best year because the schedules and opponent strength are so different from team to team.

So many things in “fandom” are subjective.  Mostly you follow your local team or your alma mater. You stay loyal to your teams and if your team happens to be good, that benefits you. However, your team does not have to be great to have fun watching them.  As I usually say, if you are with good company, you can have a great time and in the end that is what it is all about.

—Victor Mandalawi




Football is Back!

As the title mentions, football is back!  Of course, many would argue that it never left.  The NFL has found a way to stay in the news year round for the most part.  That may be true, but I would argue that once the playoffs are complete the season is over.  Some pay attention around draft time, but the rest are getting back on board at about this time, the preseason.  How is the season in the NFL shaping up? Are there any major changes that we need to know about?  Who is the favorite to win it all?

Week one will start on Thursday, September 7th with a match-up of the defending champs(Patriots) vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.  The rest of the games will take place on Sunday and Monday.  Who is favored to win it all this year?  Of course, the Vegas odds makers have the Patriots as the favorites to repeat. They are followed by the Cowboys, Seahawks, and Packers.  Keep in mind that the odds are not all about the best team.  Sometimes the odds are influenced by the amount of money wagered in certain directions on certain teams.  That being said, the guys creating these odds are very, very good at what they do so be prepared to see these teams near the top of the league again.

I am not a betting man, but I would bet that the odds for the Cowboys will be changing soon based on the recent news of their star running back being suspended for 6 games.  The suspension is based on an older domestic violence incident.  He will be able to appeal the suspension but guessing the outcome of the appeal is not very easy.  The news of the suspension has caused the Vegas books to stop bets on the certain Cowboys’ outcomes.  It makes sense to do this because he is a huge part of the team and if he is gone it will certainly negatively effect the team.  It is a big enough deal that this url is trending.  Everyone wants to know who they are playing during those first 6 weeks.

You can look at the NFL page at ESPN and see articles about what coaches are on the hot seat, what players could have breakout seasons, and information about fantasy football.  I love that the season has not started and certain coaches have already lost their jobs.  That would be a pretty scary profession to be in.  Predicting breakout players is not an easy business either.  So many things have to be considered like health, coaching, and talent around the players.  Football is the ultimate team game, one player can make a difference.  However, that one player can’t do it by himself.

This season, the NFL is shaping up just like many others.  Plenty of story lines to follow, tons of drama, and almost certainly plenty of hard hitting action.  The season is also looking similar since the Patriots look to be the favorites and as long as Bellicheck and Brady are around they will be.  The Falcons were very close to knocking them off this past year, maybe someone will step and do the deed this year!

—Victor Mandalawi

CTE Delivers Another Blow!

CTE is back in the news.  I would imagine it is because football is starting back up.  So what is CTE and how do you get it?  Is it limited to just football players?  There are plenty of questions about CTE in football, but why does it receive so much more publicity than other injuries?  Recent studies show that it is highly probable that if you play in the NFL, you will have CTE when you die. Should that be a worry to players?  Many players are retiring at a younger age than their predecessors. We also have players willing to die on the field.  Where do you stand?

CTE is a degenerative disease in the brain, caused by repeated blows to the head.  Many athletes in football, boxing, rugby, and many more contact sports are believed to have CTE.  I am not a physician so explaining CTE is difficult, but I can read and it sure seems to be a terrible disease.  You can not find CTE until after death.  Studies are being conducted and a recent finding suggests that 99% of deceased NFL players suffered from CTE.  That is a pretty staggering number! However, if you read this article, it tells you that it is nothing that was not already known.  In fact, it would even argue that the numbers are flawed because the brains were donated or referred by family members that had a suspicion of CTE.  What about the players that did not show any symptoms, their brain was not studied so the numbers do reflect that.  The film Concussion was based on Dr. Omalu and his findings on head trauma. Even he believes that the obsession with CTE is taking away from head trauma as a whole.

Ever since football was invented players have retired and they have retired for various reasons. However, in recent years players have been retiring at a younger age than in years past.  Most of these players are citing future health as a reason.  I do not think they are referring to knee health, it would most likely be referring to brain health.  The most recent was the Ravens player, John Urschel.  What makes Urschel different from other players is that he is literally a genius.  He has plenty of other options available to him outside of football.  Many other players do not have the same options. Football is their life.  A NY Jets rookie, Jamal Adams, recently stated that the field is a perfectly good place to die.  He is clearly referring to his love for the game. A recent article about Jim Plunkett mentions that he is miserable in life.  It seems he has plenty of ailments, but it does not mention anything about his brain.  This will not be as newsworthy as the brain, I am not sure why though.

There is no question that CTE is a bad thing.  Many players might not have played if they would have known about the risks of brain trauma.  However, players clearly know that they can have numerous injuries including paralysis.  Yet, they still play so I am not sure if the numbers would change greatly.  They play for the love of the game in most instances.  They also play as a way to better their lives.  I do not think the obsession with CTE will change, at least not anytime soon.  So be prepared to see many more studies concerning the disease.