Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New York Woman Fired For..Being A Woman

I can't believe that someone would not only treat a woman this way, but one who's elderly. According to AP:

"WATERTOWN, New York (AP) -- The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job -- outside of the church."

That's weird. She's been there for 54 years. Why now? This is the 21st Century.

Rather than focus on Iraq and death, President Bush should fly to Watertown NY and make the church give Mary Lambert her job back!

Dallas Cowboys 30, NO Saints 17

And they made it look easy. Yes, it was preseason, but the Cowboys looked good in all phases of the game.

Cowboys dominate Saints 30-7

NFL.com wire reports

SHREVEPORT, La. (Aug. 21, 2006) -- Drew Bledsoe lobbed two passes into the end zone and saw his receivers make terrific catches on both in his preseason debut for the Dallas Cowboys.

Neither play, however, was made by the receiver everyone is waiting to see him throw to -- Terrell Owens.

Terry Glenn reached around his defender's head and made a one-handed touchdown catch on Bledsoe's first lob, then Sam Hurd fought off his defender for another touchdown, getting the Cowboys rolling to a 30-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

Bledsoe went 12 of 16 for 156 yards, leading Dallas to scores on three of four drives, and backup Tony Romo went 6 of 8 for 138 yards and also put up points on three of four drives. His best play was waiting out a blitz then throwing a 48-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin.

Drew Bledsoe made a sharp return to the Cowboys lineup, completing 12 of 16 passes.
Bledsoe didn't play the preseason opener so Romo could get more work, prompting speculation of a growing controversy. Bledsoe feels secure that he's the starter, although he acknowledged that having to wait to get on the field "pushes you a little bit."

"It gets you going," he said. "But I can't tell you I would have done anything different in camp had I been the only quarterback."

The Cowboys also saw their first-team defense shut out the Saints' starters. New Orleans didn't even get a first down on its first three series, leaving Dallas coach Bill Parcells grumbling that his unit didn't get enough work and Saints coach Sean Payton saying his team was "not as improved as I thought."

"We struggled across the board," Payton said.

This was the first NFL game in Shreveport since local product Terry Bradshaw brought the Pittsburgh Steelers to play the Boston Patriots in the 1970 preseason. The returning star this time was Saints running back Deuce McAllister, who gained eight yards on two carries in his first game since a knee injury early last season.

"The knee felt fine ... no apprehension about anything," McAllister said. "There are a few mental hurdles I have to get over, but I'm ready to work."

Reggie Bush spiced things up with a nine-yard run and an 11-yard gain on a third-and-2 screen, both on the final drive of the first half. He finished with seven yards on four carries, 14 yards on two receptions -- and disappointment that the starters didn't do better.

"This isn't the old Saints any more," he said. "We need to take three-and-outs personal. We need to change our way of thinking. We need to keep our defense off the field. We didn't do our job as an offense."

Drew Brees was 7 of 12 for 67 yards. Backup Todd Bouman was 13 of 16 for 117 yards.

Jamal Branch had the lone score for New Orleans, a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

Owens was in Dallas, presumably watching, because of a hamstring injury that kept him on the sideline more than the practice field during training camp. With Parcells not letting him play the Saints -- and be on a Monday Night Football cable television broadcast -- his next chance is Saturday night at home against San Francisco, although even that is iffy.

"The main thing is it is not firing," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He needs to get to a point where it fires."

Bledsoe did his part to solidify his spot with crisp passes and poise in the pocket, save for an 8-yard loss on a sack during his only non-scoring drive. He also showed great timing with Glenn (four catches, 71 yards) and Hurd (three, 30).

"I don't think he made any bad reads," Parcells said.

He even showed confidence on the sideline.

"I was standing out there with him visiting and he said, 'Jerry, I'm your man,"' Jones said.

Romo did his part to keep alive the controversy, even if he faced backups.

He started with a drive for a field goal, then lost a fumble on a sack. He redeemed himself on his next series with the TD pass to Austin, then set up another field goal.

"I'm glad he got some more work," Parcells said. "That's six quarters. I want to get him nine or 10 this preseason."

Glenn played like his job was on the line, coming up with a 30-yard gain and a diving 21-yarder on the drive that ended with his highlight-reel maneuver around cornerback Mike McKenzie.

"Terry made two or three outstanding plays," Parcells said. "It shows me he's on his way to getting ready to go."

Hurd, who has been working with Owens, made a replay-worthy grab, too -- shoving off a bit on his defender as he turned for the ball, then having to withstand being grabbed from behind as the ball arrived.

Dallas' new kicker, Mike Vanderjagt, wasn't used because of a strained groin. Instead, Shaun Suisham hit field goals of 24 and 42 yards, and Tyler Fredrickson made a 49-yarder.

Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams was kicked in his left calf during the opening drive and didn't return. The injury didn't affect the knee that caused him to miss much of last season.

Does San Diego Chargers' QB Phillip River Stare Down His Receivers?

Well if one watches this video, it does seems so. It's a preseason game against the Chicago Bears, and Bears Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher zeros in on Rivers' pass and brings it back for a touchdown.

I still think lettting an experienced Drew Brees go was a huge mistake borne of the same managerial hubris that saw the Chargers pass up Michael Vick. Chargers GM A.J. Smith's moves are always left to question. He seems to try to make decisions that tell one player "You're not as special as you think." If you research the Vick issue (yes, the Chargers needed players, but Vick is special) and the Drew Brees matter as well as the Eli Manning v. Phil Rivers event, you will see that pattern. That's not the sign of a good GM. He seems more of an "old boy" GM than a really high-tech 21st Century manager.

But the Chargers will learn the hard way.

Here's the video:

Is Cowboys' Jerry Jones Playin Possum WIth T.O.?

It's a question I pose because all of the obvious signals are not there: Terrell Owens and Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Bill Parcells and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones are getting along. No teammates are complaining.

In short, no dramatic news, but there's the lingering hamstring problem. It's been going on a bit too long and one would think that the Cowboys would have done enough homework to learn about this problem; I'm sure they did. I'm also certain they're just keeping T.O. under wraps and away from opposing coaches video cameras. The result: no "book" on how the Cowboys will use T.O. None.

Now supposedly the Cowboys can't just bench T.O. and not play him without a reason. But the hamstring problem is a reason. I'm not reporting that the problem never existed; I think it was more a cramp than anything. But some genius in the Cowboys organization came up with a way to keep him active in practice and yet off the playing field until the regular season.

Genius, if it's true.

Terrell Owens May Be Out Of Entire Preseaon With MRI (AP and SI)

It may be that T.O.'s injury is worse than we realiize, or that the Dallas Cowboys are using this as a kind of trick to keep him from being on anyone's tape during preseason. The result: no idea of what the Cowboys are going to do with him in the offense. If this is the case, it's genius.

Jones: T.O. might have another MRI

Posted: Tuesday August 22, 2006 7:23AM; Updated: Tuesday August 22, 2006 7:23AM

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Monday night that receiver Terrell Owens may have another MRI exam taken to see why his hamstring continues to bother him after weeks of treatment.

"Certainly it is sore and he is going to be working to improve that," Jones said during halftime of Dallas' preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. "We will be evaluating it more tomorrow."

The hamstring has bothered Owens since the first week of training camp. He missed the first preseason game, then returned to practice last week, but not enough for coach Bill Parcells to clear him to play against the Saints.

Jones said he's not sure whether Owens will be on the field when the team returns to practice Wednesday, which means he could also miss the next preseason game, at home Saturday night against San Francisco.

"Soft tissue is such a hard thing to get definitive about," Jones said. "You don't need an MRI to understand it is compromising and bothering him. The main thing is it is not firing. He needs to get to a point where it fires."

Jones said it's wrong to think Owens skipped a practice Saturday because he was angry that Parcells ruled him out of the Saints game.

"That's humorous," Jones said. "There is no substance to that. That is not the deal. Terrell and Bill are on the same page. They both want him to be out there and without risk of him further hurting his ham. There is no issue here about them being off the page."

The Cowboys led the Saints 17-0 at halftime, with quarterback Drew Bledsoe throwing touchdown passes to Terry Glenn and rookie Sam Hurd, who has worked a lot with Owens during training camp. It was Bledsoe's first action of the preseason after also being held out of the opener; he went 12-of-16 for 156 yards, leading Dallas to three scores in four drives.

Bledsoe sat out a victory against Seattle last weekend because Parcells wanted to give plenty of work to backup Tony Romo. That's prompted speculation of Bledsoe's job being in jeopardy -- something else Jones downplayed.

"I've never heard any debate about that from anyone on our staff," Jones said.

"Snakes On A Plane" Launches Samuel L. Jackson Into Cult Status

First it was "Pulp Fiction" and now, after a long layoff from cult moves, Samuel L. Jackson ups his cult status stock with the hit "Snakes On A Plane."

Now I haven't seen the movie -- yet. But I will. What fascinates me the most is the Internet-based viral marketing this movie's tapped. Wow.

Take a look at this blogger's post, where Samuel L. Jackson's pictured cussing about -- what else? -- Snakes on A Plane.

Here's a video interview of people who are going to see the movie:

Oakland Raiders PR Machine In Motion - AP Writes About Passing Game

Obviously stinging from the negative PR about Offensive Coordinator Tom Walsh, The Oakland Raiders and the AP got together to do this article on the Raiders passing game and the role of the tight ends.

Tight Ends May Be Big in Raiders Offense

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; 5:51 AM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Aaron Brooks dropped back to pass on his second play from scrimmage and found tight end Courtney Anderson for an easy 9-yard completion.

The strategy continued all game long, as Oakland Raiders tight ends had 10 catches against San Francisco _ a big change from recent years.

Coach Art Shell has stressed all training camp that his offense is suited to those big guys in the middle of the field. Now it's beginning to show.

"I have always said since I first got here that our tight ends are going to be an integral part of what we do," Shell said. "It always has been in the history of the Raiders that tight ends have always been big for us. In our scheme, the tight end will be a factor for us."

From Raymond Chester to Dave Casper to Todd Christensen, tight ends have played a big part in the Raiders' success. But it was an aspect of the passing game that was often overlooked in Norv Turner's system the past two seasons.

Tight ends had 49 catches in 2004 and only 37 last season. Anderson caught two touchdown passes in last year's opener against New England and had five receptions for 100 yards in Week 3 against Philadelphia before disappearing for much of the rest of the season.

"If you watch the tape from last year, you'll see a number of times where not to say we forced the ball downfield, but there were times the ball could have been thrown underneath to a tight end," Randal Williams said. "Those 10- and 20-yard plays move the ball and move the chains. We're going to take advantage of that this year."

With Shell bringing back the traditional power running, deep strike passing offense, the tight ends figure to get plenty of chances again this season.

Brooks expects that with all the attention Randy Moss draws on the outside, his tight ends will have plenty of room to operate in the middle of the field.

"When you've got 18 on your side, someone else has to be open," Brooks said about Moss. "I thought the tight ends did a wonderful job catching the football. If teams continue to double team Randy Moss, we have to use our other guys and they have to step up. I thought they did a great job."

After the passing game struggled as a whole the first two preseason games, the offense began to click in Sunday night's 23-7 victory over the 49ers.

Four tight ends combined for 10 receptions for 158 yards. Williams led the way with three catches for 53 yards, O.J. Santiago caught three balls for 33 yards, rookie John Madsen had two catches for 52 yards and Anderson caught two balls for 20 yards.

The Raiders also had a touchdown pass to Anderson called back on a questionable pass interference penalty.

"I think this offense is geared to running the ball and getting the ball downfield to our receivers," Williams said. "The fact that we have receivers capable of making big plays means the defense has to worry about that. That creates opportunities for the tight ends. ... It's up to us to make the most of those opportunities."

Washington Post's Eugene Robinson On President Bush: Says It All For Me

Eugene Robinson's column on George Bush's Monday press conference says what I have -- or would like to say -- in one place. What's chilling is that President Bush seems to think it's ok that over 3,400 Iraqi civilians have been killed. I'll bet it's not that simple. One of those 3,484 persons may have come from the United States. Perhaps they were eductated here and went back to be with their family. We don't know, or at least I don't know.

But Robinson's right. If President Bush cares nothing of these deaths -- of the passing of people -- then by extension it can be said he cares nothing about the lives of the soldiers he sends to Iraq.

One thing I know is the title's pretty funny; remember Brother from Another Planet? Maybe President Bush is blacker than he realizes!

Here's the article below, and a link back to the Post

President on Another Planet
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; Page A15

For a moment there, I was almost encouraged. George W. Bush, the most resolutely incurious and inflexible of presidents, was reported last week to have been surprised at seeing Iraqi citizens -- who ought to be grateful beneficiaries of the American occupation, I mean "liberation" -- demonstrating in support of Hezbollah and against Israel.

Surprise would be a start, since it would mean the Decider was admitting novel facts to his settled base of knowledge and reacting to them. Alas, it seems the door to the presidential mind is still locked tight. "I don't remember being surprised," he said at his news conference yesterday. "I'm not sure what they mean by that."

I'm guessing "they" might mean that when you try to impose your simplistic, black-and-white template on a kaleidoscopic world, and you end up setting the Middle East on fire, either you're surprised or you're not paying attention. But that's just me.

As for George Bush, what on earth is on his mind?

Even conservatives have begun openly assessing the president's intellect, especially its impermeability to new information. Cable television pundit Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, devoted a segment of his MSNBC show to "George Bush's mental weakness," with a legend at the bottom of the screen that impertinently asked: "IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?"

It's tempting to go there, but I'm not sure we'd get very far. While we have the president on the couch, I'm more interested in trying to understand his emotional response -- or lack of response -- to the chaos he has spawned.

According to the Iraqi government, 3,438 civilians were killed in July, making it the bloodiest month since the invasion. The president was asked yesterday whether the failure of the U.S.-backed "unity" government to stem the orgy of sectarian carnage disappoints him, and he said that no, it didn't. How, I wonder, is that possible? Does he believe it would be a sign of weakness to admit that the flowering of democracy in Iraq isn't going exactly as planned? Does he believe saying everything's just fine will make it so? Is he in denial? Or do 3,438 deaths really just roll off his back after he's had his workout and a nice bike ride?

"I hear a lot of talk about civil war" in Iraq, he allowed -- much of it apparently from his own generals, who have been increasingly bold in using the once-forbidden phrase -- but all that talk doesn't seem to penetrate very far. To the president, is all the bad news from Iraq just "talk" without objective reality?

Here's another line from the president's news conference: "What's very interesting about the violence in Lebanon and the violence in Iraq and the violence in Gaza is this: These are all groups of terrorists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy."

Now, whatever you think about George Bush's intellect, he knows full well that the Hamas government in Gaza was democratically elected. He also knows full well that Hezbollah participates in the democratically elected government of Lebanon, or what's left of Lebanon. And so he has to know full well that U.S.-backed Israeli assaults on Gaza and Lebanon -- even if you believe they were justified -- had the impact of crippling, if not crushing, two nascent democracies of the kind the Bush administration wants to cultivate throughout the Middle East.

He also knows that the Iraqi government has real sovereignty over only the Green Zone in Baghdad -- a fortress made secure by the presence of U.S. troops -- and assorted other enclaves where American and British troops enforce the peace. He has heard the leader of that nominal government praise Hezbollah and denounce Israel.

So when the president lauds democracy as the magic elixir that will cure the scourge of terrorism, is he really putting faith in his favorite mantra rather than his lying eyes? Is his view of the world so unchangeable that he dismisses actual events the way he dismisses mere "talk''?

Or is he just trying to hold on until January 2009, when all this will become somebody else's problem?

In his news conference, the Decider did make a couple of nods to objective reality. He admitted in plain language that Iraq had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks and possessed no weapons of mass destruction -- in other words, that his rationale for this elective, preemptive war had no substance. And he acknowledged a certain occasional exasperation.

"Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised," the president said. "Sometimes I'm happy. This is -- but war is not a time of joy. These aren't joyous times."

No, they're not.

More On NFL Network Hiring Bryant Gumbel (Wash Post.com)

Today's Washington Post.com reports on the feud between HBO's Bryant Gumbel -- who was and supposedly still is going to join the NFL Network -- and outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who responded sharply to Gumbel's statement that the next commissioner (Roger Goodell) should find Upshaw's leash.

Commissioner Tagliabue says he's not going to be involved in the matter after his departure and that he plans to "disappear." The matter will be left to Goodell, who may be more forgiving of Gumbel than Tagliabue. It's good that Gumbel has no other comment. But I say the NFL should just milk the matter to gain more web traffic for blogs like this one and then hire Gumbel.

Again, Gumbel's one of the best in the business.