NFL. What a trip.

It’s been a long day. Another long drive. Well, not long by my standards 30 years ago. Still.

I am planning on kicking back and watching Monday Night Football. My Texans. Oh my. Most people don’t think they have a chance against Baltimore. They do of course. It’s like the movie, “Any Given Sunday.” Except it’s Monday and there are actually two games tonight. The Vikings and Eagles, live from Detroit. You know, because of …

And the other big sports story, since we are talking sports: People are wondering if the New York Jets will fire their strength and conditioning coach for tripping on the job.

Sometimes, I just don’t know whether to soak my feet or go bowling.

Andre Johnson scores while Barack Obama fouls out

There is so much to rant about today but I will limit it to just two topics: The federal salary freeze proposal made by President Obama and the donnybrook Sunday between Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee Titans defensive back Cortland Finnegan. Two very disparate topics, granted, but perhaps there is some connection there. Rather than my ranting, which seems to do no good for anyone, I will just provide some links that may be read so that if someone is interested they can decide on their own, like they’ll do that.

First, the president announced a freeze for two years on increases for federal workers. I think this is boneheaded, wrongheaded, or any other kind of headed move and illustrates what a cheap political ploy that Obama has chosen. It is public relations and perhaps a little payback for all the federal workers who didn’t get out enough to support Democratic congressional candidates. Of course, federal workers can’t do that supporting on their work time, it’s against the Hatch Act. So that leaves all those other hours federal employees have to spare such as those who may have to travel home from work daily in Washington into the heart of Virgina, Maryland, Pennsylvania or wherever.

The debate which has kind of laid beneath the whole issue of federal wages gained steam during the candidacy of  Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, the nude model who won the seat previously held by Sen. Ted Kennedy. Brown claimed the average federal worker makes twice what the average public sector employee receives for pay. That is hooey.

Federal statistics do show government employees with higher average wages than their public sector “counterparts.” The trouble with those statistics is that comparing the two is most often apples and oranges. Throw in the mysteries of federal compensation such as locality pay and how those government workers who are supposedly paid a salary are really paid by the hour and you have got an incomprehensible analogy. Let’s take, for instance, a part-time federal employee with a salary of  almost $35,000  who works 28 hours a week, that is with the “Rest of the U.S.” locality pay sector. That employee would actually gross about, $10,000 per year less than that individual’s official salary. Well, that’s just a part-time worker, you might say, that’s comparing apples to oranges. My point exactly. That also does not account for what scant overtime one might get, or benefits, although a part-time employee may or may not opt for all benefits such as the insurance.

Well, for not writing a lot, I sure have written a lot and this is only Part Uno.

As for Part II, the Texans shutout the Titans 20-0 Sunday, which is especially pleasing for me since the Titans once were the Houston Oilers until owner Bud “The Jackass” Adams moved his team to Nashville. During this game a fight broke out between star Houston receiver Andre Johnson and cornerback Cortland Finnegan of the Titans.

Press accounts show Finnegan, who some call the “dirtiest player” in the NFL on the “dirtiest team” in the NFL, was dogging Johnson all day. That is to be expected. However, Finnegan became increasingly aggressive and, say Texans on the sideline, deliberately provoked Johnson by jamming him in  the face mask. Johnson ripped off Finnegan’s helmet and proceeded to punch him several times “about the head and shoulders” as the old saying goes. The zebras threw Johnson out of the game while a smirking Finnegan stood on the sidelines. However, he too was ejected and walked to the dressing room with the ever-present smirk on his face.

The reputations of both players show that there could not be more different individuals to face each other on the field. Finnegan is short and lightweight, and relishes trash-talking or any other way he can get under a receiver’s skin. Johnson is tall, like a solid immovable mass, who is known for his quiet and humble demeanor while letting his playing do his talking for him. Johnson apologized to the fans and his team after the incident, acknowledging he lost his cool and that he expects the league to punish him for his part. Late news reports, not yet substantiated, indicate Johnson will be fined but not suspended.

Although I am not, have never been and most likely will never be a brawler, I could see myself punching Finnegan if I were in Johnson’s big shoes (I am assuming he has big shoes, I’ve never seen people his height with tiny feet, much less someone who is one of the NFL’s best receivers.) One can say what they want about football. Especially pro football is a very aggressive and a very punishing game. When you start  dealing with your own fortunes and that of your teammates in the millions of dollars as well as your ability to project the kind of aggression needed in the game, you damned well better possess the ability to defend yourself. That is what I saw Johnson doing.

So, apology accepted, Andre.

As for Barack, I supported him and continue to support him. But I think his federal pay freeze proposal is just wrong, wrong, wrong. And I don’t expect an apology from him.

Cowboys need to sink or swim since Wade is no longer an option

It  has been quite some time since I could claim myself as a Dallas Cowboys fan. Many, many years it has been. I think it was when the Cowboys became the so-called “America’s Team” that I swore off of them. How dare them! America’s team, my ass. Whose team was the Charger’s, Tijuana?

Nonetheless, I hate it and feel somewhat sorry that Cowboy’s super-ego and owner Jerry Jones fired Wade Phillips as coach. Part of my feelings can be chalked up to hometown pride. Although I grew up an hour or so where Phillips went to high school, Wade and his dad, the Oilers and Saints head coach “Bum” Phillips are a part of Southeast Texas lore  as much as the Spindletop gusher, Johnny Winter and Seaport coffee.

Beyond sentiment it has been somewhat lost that Wade Phillips coached the team. He didn’t play. Dare I say the last time Wade seriously donned pads was when he played linebacker in 1964 for the Port Neches-Groves Indians and later for the University of Houston Cougars.

I forgot who the sports radio wise man it was who said so but whomever it was hit it on the head when he said just prior to Wade’s dismissal that the Cowboys players needed to step up and be men, and admit they have played stink ball. Some say the Cowboys have “dialed in” their games. Others say words about the Dallas playing that even I steered clear of when I as a sailor. Phillips has coached a group of multi-millionaire football aristocrats. Many sports pundits had Dallas picked as the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl game in their own house. That house, of course, is the house (palace) that Jerry built. Jerry didn’t let anyone stand in his way building that palace either.

Here I go on and on about a team I mostly enjoy watch getting ripped a new one. Of course, my team over in nearby Houston has their own problems. But when you mess with homeboys you at least get a verb, an adverb and at least an adjective or two thrown your way

Now if I can only come up with such suitable parts of speech to use.

So I lied. This time I will watch the Rangers.

So sue me. It’s been done before with unfavorable results for the plaintiff. Thankfully.

Not that I expect anyone to sue me but I did say awhile back right here in this humble little blog that I didn’t plan to watch the American League Championship Series pitting the playoff needy Texas Rangers against the World Champions for All Time New York Yankees. I think I saw all six games if I remember correctly. I swore that I wouldn’t though because I expected the Yankees to win as always.  The reason for such a ridiculous resolution was basically that this was a year I didn’t watch baseball.

My team is the Houston Astros. Although I have long considered myself a fan of the Rangers, I am not a fanatic. Of course, neither am I a fanatic about the Astros — especially since they stunk up Minute Maid Park this year — but I suppose I am less of a non-fanatic about the Rangers than the Astros. I have seen both teams play and rooted for both teams in their respective parks. Of course, the last time I actually saw Houston play live and in color was on opening day in 1987 when Mike Scott faced off with Dodgers’ hurler (I wonder if he ever really “hurled?” Orel Hershiser in the Astrodome. It also has been seven or so years since I saw the Rangers play at The Ballpark in Arlington.

I suppose that since the Astros pretty much stunk from the beginning I wasn’t too interested in baseball altogether. To real hardcore fans of the game, that must sound like I am a fair-weather fan. Maybe I am. Yet, like so many other people I have other matters on my plate. Some are important. Truthfully, many are not. I am sure I could have called up one of my Houston friends this baseball season, if they could take a day off because I surely can, and we could have gone to a game. It  just didn’t happen.

A-Rod: Expensive Yank for a 4-for-21 showing.

But I will likely watch all of the World Series games with the exception of Saturday because I will be hanging with friends in Galveston. Surely the Rangers can win one game without me.

Rangers’ Cliff Lee: I can fly. And throw off the page too.

Beside the fact that the Rangers have never played in the Series, much less have won one, there was quite a lot about this year’s bunch which intrigued me when I saw them beat the Yankees in the ALCS. First off, the influence of Rangers president and part-owner Nolan Ryan is unmistakable what with pitchers Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis going deep into late innings. Ryan is old school, back when a reliever was something you took for a sore shoulder. Texas also had some offense that kept the Yankees at bay in all but two games. Plus, it was also a kick seeing the Multimillion-Dollar Man Sir Alex Rodriguez with a dismal 4-for-21 performance in the six games, his long-ball prowess saved for perhaps some other seasons of the Yankees’ pissing millions away. I bear no ill will against A-Rod, just the fact that he played for the Rangers like teammate Mark Teixeira makes them natural villains in the Rangers world. No one except some truly sick individual would have wished Teixeira the pulled hamstring he received running out a ground ball in Game 4. But  you have to look at “Tex’s” performance over all in the ALCS to realize just how much the experience must have sucked for him, the injury topped off by his going 0-for-14. That happens to be the worst non-hitting streak for the Yankees in their post season history, according to ESPN.

The Rangers are packed with a pretty amazing and interesting group of individuals as well as saddled with a history that might leave one shaking their head for quite a bit. As for the San Francisco Giants, I couldn’t tell you jack about them except that Barry Bonds the “home run king” played for them as did a really dynamic player by the name of “Say Hey” Willie Mays. He is one of the old timers back in the days of Maris, Mantle, Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Boog Powell (can you imagine being called Boog?)  that I loved to watch play on the old black and white. Nolan Ryan was, if not in reality then in spirit, at the tail end of that generation.

Such a big game means a lot of sports and other types of writers have to start earning their keep finding stories relating to Texas, the Giants and the World Series. Some of these stories will be good and some, well perhaps not as interesting as they are in the minds of the writers and editors.

Nevertheless, this is a Series I relish, perhaps with pickles and mustard and wiener on a hot dog bun. Even if  I miss a game.

What it was was football, deal with it

This cloudy afternoon I did some catching up on my reading, mostly about Texas politics and in particular the governor’s race.

No links will be provided from my research because I don’t want to be blamed for confusing anyone. That said, I mean I am still totally in the dark as to whether Gov. “Goodhair” Perry could be beaten in November by Democratic candidate Bill “Sparsehair” White. Talk about your contrasts — in hairstyles. At least I understand what it’s like to be bald. I do not understand what it’s like to be rich like Bill White. I hope I never understand what it is like to be Rick Perry.

I don’t know. Some polls have Perry leading, mostly by single digits, others have them neck-and-neck. Okay, one poll does, and a Republican poll at that. I saw that on Texas Tribune which is I already told you I am not linking today. I have the right to be contrary every now and then.

So I decided to write about the real burning question of the week: Can the Texans make it 3-0 and leave the Cowboys 0-3? You could get run out of town on a rail for such heresy in some parts of Texas. But 80 miles to the east of Reliant Stadium, I feel pretty safe.

I listen to “The Blitz” sometimes, mostly when I am in my truck going somewhere around noon-30. It is a local (Beaumont-Houston but all Houston and no Beaumont) radio program on 97.5 ESPN well, I lied. I ended up linking and didn’t mean to but I still have no remorse. The Texas Tribune has yet to prove to me that it is a journalistic gem that it is made out to be. “The Blitz,” with Fred Faour and A.J. Hoffman are on the other hand, at least a diamond in the rough.

One or the other Blitzers (not Wolf Blitzers) said in talking about the Oilers (Oops! Freudian slip is showing) Texans the other day something to the effect that a “cornered” Cowboys team is a dangerous Cowboys team. I have to agree. Dallas has a knack for pulling bad situations out of their a** and making them smell like a rose. The Cowboys, however, also can also snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory. (See Cowboys v. Redskins)

The Texans have been placed between Number 5 and 7 in most of the power rankings this week that I have seen so far. People who didn’t know Houston had a football team — how soon we forget except those of us who spit at the name “Bud Adams” — now are on the Texans bandwagon. Man, ain’t that Andre Johnson something! Uh, yeah, he’s been something since he was drafted by the Texans in 2003, you dope! Matt Schaub? He led the NFL in passing and completions last year. And the “faithful” said after the team’s first winning season last year that Coach Gary Kubiak should be fired. Idiots, to the left of me. Idiots to the right of me!

The Texans are real. Staying that way is going to prove the biggest problem. Last year the problem was finishing the deal. Running up leads at the half and blowing them. Success, at least in my way of thinking, is the number one danger any new big deal faces in the NFL or anywhere else for that matter. But can overconfidence make the Texans soar ever downward in flames? Hell if I know. I’m no football expert.

Although I do sound fearful that the mighty Cowboys will come in and level the Texans at Reliant Stadium Sunday I hope that doesn’t happen and I still see the Texans as the favorite by one touchdown over Dallas. Maybe something to the tune of 27-20 Houston.

Just a short-short on my other game of the week. Stephen F. Austin State University, the mighty Lumberjacks (and I’m okay), host the Lamar Cardinals. Okay, I am an SFA grad and support the Jacks, no matter how they embarrass me as they did in the suckola at Kyle Field in the season opener with the Aggies. It wasn’t so much a problem with the team — they are ranked in the top 10 of the FCS (former NCAA I-AA) — as it was with the scheduling. I understand money is money, but Hell’s Bells, can’t you line up a big-time school you have a chance of beating as SFA did last year with SMU? (A chance, SMU came from behind to beat SFA 31-23 in 2009.)

The Cardinals are from here in Beaumont-ville, Texas, where I reside. This is the first football team they have had in 20 years. One of my brothers is a Lamar grad. There are other ties as well. The Cardinals are the local team and I support them. Just not against my alma mater.  Oh and Lamar has done pretty well its first rattle out of the box this year. They posted a narrow loss to top 20 McNeese. Next, they beat a school I never heard of before. Last week the Cards beat Southeastern Louisiana 29-28.  I imagine that, for some folks, all of these teams sound like they are made up and should be the teams in movies like “The Water Boy,” but I assure you that these are real schools with real football teams. Lamar, since they are playing their first year and are getting their feet wet in football, are classified an independent school. Next year they will join the Southland Conference, the league in which Lamar already competes and has competed for some while in other sports. So, they will face McNeese, SE Louisiana and SFA each year. Get used to it!

Wild guessing, I think Lamar has a good team for its first year and has a great coach and decent guy in Ray Woodard, a former Denver Broncos player. I think the Cardinals will get beat up a bit when they play in Nacogdoches this week. The Swami (how i love ya, how I love ya, my dear old Swami) says SFA  36-Lamar 7.