The late, great (and posthumous winner of "Hashtag Good Guy of the year: 1979") Bill Russell will join the likes of Jackie Robinson and Wayne Gretzky, becoming just the third athlete in North American professional sports to have his jersey number retired league-wide.
We all know why Jackie's number was retired and the significance of his career. Wayno is just a legend and simply the Great One; Russell is sort of a combination of the two in my eyes. From his activism and impact on the court, William Felton Russell thoroughly deserves this recognition. He's the greatest champion in NBA history and was a champion of Civil Rights and equality. I just wish he was alive to see this. That's the cruel thing about life; we wait til it's too late to say how much someone means to us.
Players that currently sport number 6 on their chest and back will still be allowed to, thanks to the grandfather clause, like how Mariano Rivera wore #42 until he retired in 2013, but I feel like the fact that Russell was #6 plays a minor factor in this honor. Again, I believe Bill is entirely worthy of this recognition, but 6 isn't exactly a sexy number (even though it's a major part of the most famous sex number).
Sure Lebron rocks it, but that's just out of respect to the devil. It's a different sport, but no #6 starting quarterback has ever won the Super Bowl. The two greatest #6 in sports, Bill Russell and Stan Musial played in the 60s. It's a punter number. It's not a huge loss and an easy decision for the association. Outside of Lebron, I can't think of another star #6 (that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't one, I'm just having a hard time thinking of one) in any sport. Jay Cutler, no way. Johnny Hekker, punter. I guess Joe Torre was a manager; that surely doesn't count. MAYBE one-time All-Star Kristap Porziņģis??? Six is just not that swaggy, but here's a list of NBA players who rocked that digit last season.
Three-time Super Bowl champion and should've been SB 51 co-MVP James White has retired from the National Football League after eight seasons.
14 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, 6 carries for 29 yards and two touchdowns AND a two point conversion. 20 points scored. One of the greatest performances in NFL playoff history.
I can't say this news is that surprising given his age and injury from last season, but it's always sad to see yet another piece of the second half of the double-dynasty go. I was looking forward to his bounce-back in 2022 and what he'd add to the Patriots offense. Brandon Bolden was NOT it.
Drafted in 2014 out of Wisconsin, White didn't see the field much his rookie year en route to the Patriots' 4th Super Bowl Championship. Once Shane Vereen left in free agency for the Giants and Dion Lewis tore his ACL, White stepped into the 3rd down back role and didn't look back until a hip injury ultimately ended his career. No NFL running back had more receptions than James White did from 2015-2021, and he missed the final 14 games of 2021.
James White was a sure-handed multi-time captain for the Patriots who saved his best performances for the biggest stage. I try to not think about the 2017 Patriots and that missed opportunity against bum ass Nick Foles, but James White was a beast during that playoff run. He scored a TD in all three playoff games (4 total).
During Super Bowl LIII, I was worried we were seeing another Malcolm Butler situation on our hands when James White only had one target. IMO that's a major reason why the Pats only scored 3 points through three quarters and just 13 for the game. But that 2018 season was James' career year: 87 receptions for 751 yards and 7 touchdowns. In the divisional round vs. the Chargers, he hauled in 15 receptions (tying an NFL playoff record) for 97 yards.
James' production took a hit in 2020 with Cam Newton at a QB, but in his short time with Mac Jones, he looked like his old self.
There's a massive log jam of deserving Patriot team HOF inductees from both ends of the double-dynasty, but James White is a no-brainer red jacket candidate. Mr. Kraft and coach Belichick both had glowing remarks about his Patriot tenure.
Congrats on a fantastic career, James. I think it's safe to say he's one of, if not the best NFL careers of any Wisconsin running back. You'll always be Super Bowl LI co-MVP in my eyes!
Song: Sweet Baby James (1970)
Artist: James Taylor
Album: Sweet Baby James
I was initially gonna use "Sweetness" by Jimmy Eat World for today's SOD and had this typed out "I know Walter Payton was Sweetness, but there aren't any songs called "Sweet Feet," and I sure as hell wasn't gonna do Sweet Child O'Mine or Sweet Caroline, not even"
That's when I realized "Sweet Baby James" is the PERFECT song for today. Rockabye Sweet Baby James, what a career. More to come in a full retirement blog.
Apart from the team plane crashing and killing the whole organization, the 2021 Patriots season couldn't have ended any worse.
I haven't been writing a lot lately, so that might be a little extreme, but after winning seven straight games to get to 9-4 and hold the AFC's #1 seed before the bye week, the Patriots went 1-3 to end the 2021 regular season with their lone win coming against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
During that 1-3 stretch, New England played the Bills the day after Christmas and didn't force a single punt in a 33-21 loss, sadly foreshadowing their disgusting performance in the Wild Card Round. The Pats lost their first post-Brady era playoff game 47-17 in Buffalo, and it wasn't even as close as the score would indicate. 27-3 at the half, with the Patriots scoring their first points in the closing seconds. Kendrick Bourne scored a meaningless TD (except for my friend who took Pats +36.5 live) in the final minutes to cut the gap to 30. The Patriots 2nd rated defense (in points allowed) didn't force a single Bills punt (again) in the contest.
Despite that bleak paragraph, the Patriots have plenty to build off this season. Mac Jones played well, earning a 9th alternate Pro Bowl appearance. They got a project offensive lineman in the first round of the draft and are paying more than any other team in the league for an average (at best) pass-catching unit!
FYI: this blog is gonna feature a lot of Warren Sharp tweets
I respect Bill Belichick. He's one of, if not THE greatest coach in NFL history. I think he's the best, but I'm biased as a Patriots fan. You gotta give Vince Lombardi and Paul Brown their due. Who knows what Lombardi would've done in Washington had he not been too manly to get a rectal examination and caught his cancer earlier?
Belichick has been in the NFL since 1975. His resume speaks for itself. Six Super Bowl wins as a Head Coach and two more as the Defensive Coordinator for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew Giants. I'm not going to act like I know football better than Belichick just because I'm nearly 70 games above .500 in Madden 22 online. That would be fucking stupid, but the game eventually passes everybody by; Tom Landry held on for a few years too long. The same could probably be said for Chuck Noll. Paul Brown was too much of a dictator to succeed in the changing 60s, which led to his dismissal from the team he helped create.
But just because Belichick is one of the most accomplished people ever to hold his job title doesn't mean he's immune to criticism. There are some glaring mistakes during his two-decade-plus tenure. Super Bowl LII comes to mind immediately, but he's made some trades that make the Mookie Betts deal look favorable for the Sox. WR is probably one of the easiest positions to evaluate and he couldn't find a stud with a Zircon WireWarning e50.
Admittedly, I haven't paid super close attention to what's going on in camp, but I don't get wtf the Patriots are doing with this no coordinator; let's not put a label on it bullshit like some annoying 19-year-old couple.
I will gladly concede that Bill Belichick is a greater football mind than me. He's been coaching in the NFL since Elvis was alive, but based on the things I've seen on Twitter from Patriots camp, this whole no Offensive Coordinator thing *NoHo Hank voice* is not going super well.
Like I said, heavy Warren Sharp blog, but he really just did all the legwork for me curating all these tweets from Pats' beats guys.
Whenever you hear NFL talking heads talk QBs, one of the biggest buzzwords (or I guess phrases) is the "second year jump." The big leap players take from rookie to NFL sophomores. It's still super early in the year, but so far the Patriots offense is on the road to nowhere.
Call me crazy, but a lack of consistency and chain of command might have something to do with a "perpetually overwhelmed" offense?
I wish I could think of more specific examples right now, but one QB that comes to mind with stunted development is Alex Smith. Until 2011, he looked like the next Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, etc....a fucking bust. His numbers were awful, he was never able to have any consistency since the 49ers had a different offensive coordinator every year from 2005-2008 (Smith missed the entire 08 season, but the 49ers had 5 OCs from 05-10).
Then Jim Harbaugh shows up, Alex Smith has a career year, looks great in 2012 until losing his job via injury to Kaepernick at the height of the read-option phase of the NFL. Then in KC, under Andy Reid, has like five solid years. Look at his numbers with more consistent coaching.
Based on that example and plenty more escaping me now, I don't understand how not having an Offensive Coordinator is a good thing for a 2nd year-developing quarterback. I know it's too late, but I'm warning you now if the Pats go 6-11 and Mac regresses...remember how they entered the season.
Hey, let's mix in a non-football example about consistency!
I went to four different middle schools in four years. Surely, that fucked up my development as a student and human being. I think about that constantly. I missed out on certain things academically because the curriculums didn't align. I went to 5th grade and the first two months of 6th grade in a public RI school with a robotics department. Then I spent the rest of 6th grade in a private Christian school (my first exposure to cults) in Jacksonville, FL, only to go to a public school in Jax named after a Confederate Leader for 7th grade and back to RI for 8th grade. I don't need to pick that scab right now, but let's just say experiencing that during your formative years isn't what God intended.
Sure, Belichick could prove us wrong as he has before and show how much smarter he is than the rest of the league with this "innovative thinking," but do we actually think OC by committee is the best thing for Mac Jones? Especially with these people making up the committee! Joe Judge was the 2nd biggest disaster to hit New York in the 21st century.
Matt Stafford as soon as he left Detroit and Matt Patricia (who technically got fired during the 2020 season).
Look, I love the Pats, but even before all this offensive uncertainty, I didn't love their chances to make it back to the playoffs in 2022. The AFC is loaded. I could see the whole AFC West making the playoffs. It wouldn't shock me if the North produced multiple playoff teams. Everybody knows how high I am on the Colts. The Bills, Dolphins, and Jets all improved.
Meanwhile, the Patriots lost JC Jackson and Shaq Mason and replaced Josh McDaniels with nobody. I would love to be wrong and see Mac soar in his second season, but as of now, I think we're in store for a sophomore slump. Maybe they can fix the kinks, but to say it for the 47th time, I don't believe this is a bright idea for a 2nd year QB coming off of an impressive rookie campaign.
Song: Don't Drink the Water (Live)
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Album: Before These Crowded Streets (1998)
Especially in Chicago on this date in 2004!
Stories like DMB dropping doo doo are why I wrote THIS blog. Don't say Happy Anniversary to those poor folks on the river!
How fitting...I've seen Dave Matthews Band live 2 times.
Dave was in the house with me and 18,000ish others when the Celtics lost the 2022 NBA Finals: Presented by YoutubeTV.
NBA and all-around human-experience legend Bill Russell passed away on Sunday at the age of 88. Over the last few days, plenty of pieces honoring his great life have been shared across the information super highway and regular ass TV. Just moments before I started this blog, the Celtics tweeted out this clip of Bill Russell after winning his last of 11 NBA Championships.
In the background, you can almost hear Bill's Celtics teammates inadvertently writing Daft Punk's "One More Time."
Unfortunately, Vin Scully passed away last night. R.I.P. If I were Lenny Dawson, I'd start saying my goodbyes.
But as I was saying before I quickly paid respect to a man who deserves a blog of his own, Bill Russell lived an extraordinary life. Since his passing there's been plenty of stories and clips shared online showing the quality of a man he was, and this excerpt from his 1979 memoir Second Wind is exactly what being a hashtag good guy is all about.
It's a massive bummer that in 2022, equality for all is still a controversial stance, but what a profound statement by the late Bill Russell. Mr. Russell was far from the only person with this viewpoint in 1979, but seeing evidence of somebody having it then makes me happy. Sometimes we (I) make excuses for older people for being "out of touch," saying that that's just from the time they grew up, but it's important to remember there are plenty of examples of people who went against the grain of what was "acceptable" at the time. They used their voice to do the right thing for people getting an unfair shake in society. This memoir was written when the gay pride movement was in its infancy. Being gay was literally still against the law in some states in 1979.
Sadly, there was still plenty of hate at this time. Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated by Dan White the previous year, but Bill Russell explained how stupid and wasteful that hateful energy is in this excerpt. I rewrote what he said so you could see it again. Think about this statement.
"But homosexuals are our children, and we should treat them so; as adults they deserve the full respect given heterosexuals. I have my own fears and insecurities about sex, but I don't think it's my right to impose them on the world, or to hide things from my children; I have too much respect for them to do so. My duty to them is to love them and to help them interpret the world so that they will be able to make free choices and act on them. I worry a great deal about my children, but the best medicine for those worries is their strength and independence, not in their ignorance."
Let's go, Bill Russell! A true champion. I wish I had seen this quote while he was alive. The final part is so important in today's world. "The best medicine is in their strength and independence, not in their ignorance." He doesn't precisely say knowledge is power, but that's one of my takeaways. We've got conservatives trying to dismantle public education and rewrite history. They want to deny the fact that queer people exist and contribute to our society. There's a reason education is underfunded. It's to keep people just smart enough to work for the machine but not smart enough to question things or use their power to overcome.
Now, DOL (doz on life) wasn't created until 2016, and since I was born in 1991, I was not alive to give Bill Russell his credit as a hashtag good guy when this memoir was published. Plus, I didn't create that term until like threeish years ago, but alas, Bill Russell was a hashtag good guy for supporting gay people as people in 1979 and deserves recognition for that. Congratulations on this prestigious posthumous award. In the age of cancel culture and digging up shit from decades ago to destroy people, I think it's important to use history for good and bring attention to the positive. There were plenty of people fighting for equality and civil rights before we were born (assuming you weren't alive in the 70s). If you haven't seen Bill Burr's latest Netflix special, you have to, but this clip on the hypocrisy of cancel culture is perfection and hilarious.
Congratulations, Mr. Russell. May you rest in peace.
Song: Happiness (2022)
Artist: The 1975
Album: Being Funny in a Foreign Language
I don't really fuck with, "Part of the Band," the first single of off Being Funny in a Foreign Language, but "Happiness" is much more my speed when it comes to The 1975. This is the sound I love (which sort of sounds like another The 1975 song, "The Sound").
In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Matty Healy said this about Happiness:
“Happiness” is like… there’s literally loads of us in the room on that track. Locked eyes... doesn’t really have much structure. It came through like jamming. And we haven’t done that in like years. So we just wanted this record to be really like a captured moment and not be too constructed and even produced that much…. We did it in like a day or so. And it’s us having fun. And I think that there’s this real desire in art to see something remarkable with as little technology as possible.
Whatever they did, it worked. Love the sax. You can never go wrong with some sax. Being Funny in a Foreign Language comes out on October 14th, and The 1975 will be at Mohegan on November 3rd and in Boston on November 4th. I need to be at at least one of those shows. Open invite to any loyal DOL reader.
It's 2:37 am, and I'm into my 4th episode of Netflix's Uncoupled. At least 98% of all my readers are fast asleep, but I just saw some fantastic news that had to be blogged and will be further addressed after I get my quality eight-to-ten.
BACK TOGETHER FOR THE KIDS?????
SUCK IT, SKIBA!
Alternate Headline for bitches that get offended by 3rd grade swears:
It's legit 2:42 in the morning (EST), and I gotta see what happens between Michael and Stanley in Chapter 4, then try my best to fall asleep before 6 am (I wish that were a joke, and no, that's not an Office reference. Those are characters on Uncoupled), but talk about some awesome, not-super official news to kick off the month.
Even if this isn't truly it, it's fucking inevitable. I've written multiple blogs about the need for Blink 182 to reunite with its premium lineup of Tom, Mark, and Travis, including a great piece on nine other bands that need to bury the hatchet and tour again before the planet becomes uninhabitable/they die. S/o NME for being a British publication and having this story read to go in the middle of the night for the boi to write a quicky about a band that shaped me into the anxious man child who blogs before you. I can't wait to drop a G note on reunion tour tickets.