Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lockout Underscores Owners’ Lack of Respect for NFL Fans

By Jon Wagner-Sr. Writer-Football Reporters Online

The clock finally struck midnight on Friday night, and now, while talk of March Madness and Cinderellas are in full swing, the 2011 NFL season is in realistic jeopardy of turning into a pumpkin.

One week after the original March 4th deadline for ironing out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was extended, NFL owners officially closed up shop and locked out their players, effectively shutting down the league (other then next month’s NFL draft) until further notice.

Sadly, it’s those who are most responsible for the insanely huge amounts of money that NFL owners and players are quibbling over – NFL fans – who will suffer the most unless the upcoming season is saved.

Duping their loyal fans, NFL owners have taken a page (and then some) from a 1989 film about another sport, the classic baseball movie, “Field of Dreams.”

Most of us know the story. Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella hears the whispers… “If you build it, they will come.”

That’s exactly what NFL owners did with over-the-top, extravagant new stadiums.

Except, they went one step further, with the unfortunate notion that in the NFL, “If you build it, they will come… and when they do, you can try to shake every last dollar you can out of not only the fans who show up, but from the players the fans will pay exorbitant amounts to come see.”

And, that’s all while putting the financial burden of building those shiny new stadiums largely upon those same fans.

Yes, that is the sad state of affairs in today’s NFL for the average NFL fan.

Not only do fans, as taxpayers, shoulder much of the cost of new stadiums like Jerry Jones’ Cowboys Stadium (often dubbed the “Dallas Palace”), or the Giants’ and Jets’ New Meadowlands stadium (each having come with price tags in excess of $1.6 billion), but those same fans are asked to pay thousands of dollars in Personal Seat Licences just to have the right to buy tickets to watch games in them.

If that wasn’t enough, now loyal remaining season ticketholders who weren’t priced out (by PSL’s) of buying tickets to see their favorite teams play, can’t even do that, because of the unyielding collective ego and greed on the part of NFL owners.

That’s not to say that the NFL’s current labor issues are all one-sided. Every dispute has both opposing parties which are usually at least somewhat at fault.

However, it’s the players who really just want to give the fans what they want – to play football -- under the current CBA specifications that the owners agreed to themselves, years ago. That agreement was fine for NFL owners until that no longer became convenient in the face of the owners trying to squeeze every last dollar out of both the NFL Players’ Association and NFL fans.

The simple fact is, the owners can’t fully be trusted.

Only now, after the NFLPA has been forced to decertify and involve the threat of a possible court injunction, are NFL owners beginning to open their books to any extent at all (and even at that, they won’t be opened far enough to justify the extra $1 billion and greater portion of shared revenues along with an increase to an 18-game regular season schedule that NFL owners are seeking).

But, the reason for the mistrust of NFL owners goes beyond that, back to the stadium issue.

Under the guise of “parternership” to win public support, NFL owners have secured more than $4.4 billion in taxpayer money for 21 new or renovated stadiums (nearly two-thirds of the league’s stadiums) since 1995.

The reality is that of the $2 billion teams claim they are investing in stadiums, about $1 billion comes from NFL loans and PSL’s, two sources where the dollars come either exclusively, or at least mostly, from fans.

A particular case like the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field renovation shows what the NFL’s “parternship” with the public for financing new NFL stadiums really means.

The Bears pledged to pay $200 million of Soldier Field’s $632 million renovation, but when all was said and done, thanks again, to partially fan-financed NFL loans and to fan-paid PSL’s, the final cost to Bears’ ownership for the renovation was less than $30 million.

It’s no different around the league. Over the next 30 years, taxpayers in NFL cities will pay more than $2 billion in interest payments on bonds that were used to raise public money for NFL stadiums.

And, thanks to a deal worked out with the U.S. government, while fans are helping to finance NFL stadium through paying their own taxes, NFL owners collect PSL money on a tax-exempt basis.

The bottom line is that the players just want to play. But, NFL owners want yet more money despite having already asked for billions from NFL fans to help finance new stadiums that ironically are supposed to be fan-friendly. Yet, despite all of the state-of-the-art amenities, how “fan-friendly” can it really be when those same fans are also being asked for thousands of additional dollars per seat in the form of PSL’s?

And, how much more can possibly be asked of NFL fans, who simply want their sport back in time for Week 1 of the regular season in September (or for that matter, in time for the upcoming NFL draft and training camps)?

Adding further insult to injury was the most recent Super Bowl, in February, with yet another irony. So desperate was Jones and the NFL to cram as many fans as possible into the new Cowboys Stadium as a result of further greed (to make more money) and ego on the part of Jones (to set the Super Bowl attendance record), that temporary seating wasn’t installed in time, thereby shutting out many fans who paid about $800 each per ticket (in additional to travel expenses to the Dallas area).

While the NFL more than rectified the situation financially, those fans missed seeing the game live and became the latest casualty of the NFL putting everything else about its game before the fans who support it.

Fans, as taxpayers and now as PSL buyers, have been conditioned to paying for stadiums for millionaires to play in and keep an exclusive NFL family owners in the business of remaining as billionaires, all while the average taxpayer and hardcore NFL fan can’t afford a seat in those very stadiums.

When you look at it that way, it’s amazing that it’s not the fans who haven’t decided to stop paying or to stop showing up, and haven’t locked out the owners and players.

Ultimately, we all love the game too much for that to happen.

But, after all the fans have given to the NFL, it’s time for the NFL and its owners to give something back.

For once, NFL owners (and even players) need to realize that they would have been nothing without their fans.

And for once, they need to let their fans come first, and make sure that it’s not the fans who are the next to be locked out.

Japan disaster: media impact upon mood and emotional functioning by Dr. Christina Villarreal

After a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and 33-ft tsunami hit northeast Japan last Friday, people around the world have been riveted by the media coverage of this devastating catastrophe. These disasters have been horrifying to contend with for the people of Japan, as the death toll is estimated at over 10,000, and countless people have lost loved ones and witnessed their homes and country being destroyed around them. The threat of a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in northeast Japan has increased world-wide panic after news broke of explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in northeast Japan. These explosions pushed radiation levels to about 167 times the average annual dose of radiation, according to details released by the IAEA. It is still unknown "what the long-term or short-term effects of this," said Dr. Kirby Kemper, a noted nuclear physicist, physics professor and vice president of research at Florida State University. In one of the worst case scenarios, a complete melt down could occur, spewing large amounts of radioactivity into the atomosphere, threatening the health of humans and the earth's delicate ecosystem in innumerous ways. Clearly, these catastrophic circumstances in Japan deserves the full support of humanitarian efforts around the world. But how does observing a massive disaster as it unfolds impact the rest of us, who are experiencing a wide range of emotions, such as panic, dispair, unending worry, and sadness? Those of us who are already vulnerable to depression and/or anxiety are especially impacted when diasasters such as those in Japan occur. Others may be better equipped to manage their emotional responses with coping methods that reduce stress, but they might not always be healthy strategies. What can we do to manage our overwhelming feelings in response to the Japan disaster? This article serves to provide a few simple strategies for managing the uncontrollable worry, fear, and anxiety we experience when flooded with media news of ongoing disaster.

Identify and replace unhealthy coping methods for dealing with stress.

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they can cause more damage in the long run:

* Smoking
* Drinking too much alcohol
* Overeating or undereating
* Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
* Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities

* Using pills or recreational drugs to relax
* Sleeping too much
* Procrastinating
* Filling up every minute of the day to avoid dealing with problems
* Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

Learn more effective and healthier ways to cope with stress.

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t improving your emotional and physical well-being, it’s time start using healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to cope with stress, but they all require effort and some change on your part. Since everyone responds to stress differently, there is no “one size fits all” solution to reducing it. No single method works for everyone or in all situations, so practice different strategies to see what suits you best. Prioritize methods that help you feel calm and in control. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga, can trigger the body’s own natural relaxation response, which is a powerful antidote to stress.

How do relaxation techniques effect the body's physiology and health?

"The stress response" floods your body with the chemical cortisol, which prepare you for “fight or flight." But while the stress response is helpful in true emergency situations where you must be alert and ready to act, it wears your body down when constantly activated, and can lead to serious problems such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress related obesity. The relaxation response rebalances your body's physiological system by: deepening your breathing, reducing stress hormones, slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure, and relaxing your muscles. In addition to its calming physical effects, research shows that the relaxation response also increases energy/ability to focus, fight diseases, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity.

Pay attention to your irrational thoughts.

Worry, panic and fear are all normal and automatic human responses to real or imagined threats to safety. These feelings work as a natural alert system, compelling us to make necessary changes that can remove us from harm's way. While sometimes these feelings work in our best interest, they can also be hazardous to our mental and physical state of health if left unmanaged. These automatic thoughts of worry and panic can become distorted when left unchecked, and actually prevent us from being able to function optimally in our daily lives. Learning to refute and manage irrational thoughts is an important step in healthy coping when faced with uncontrollable circumstances, such as the recent catastrophic events in Japan.

Be prepared as best as possible, and seek professional help if necessary.

The disaster in Japan highlights the importance of preparing yourself and your loved ones for a natural disaster. FEMA and the American Red Cross offer online resources that can help you prepare. Take the necessary precautions, but use the aforementioned strategies to prevent yourself from being plagued with uncontrollable worry. For some, seeking the help from a trained mental health professional skilled in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be necessary to deal with ongoing anxiety, panic attacks and/or depression.

This article was respectfully submitted by Dr. Christina Villarreal, a clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, California. Reach her at christina.villarreal@gmail.com for professional referrals.

Which "NFL" Gang is Greedier? the Owners or the Players?

By David Levy-Fan Experience reporter-Football Reporters Online

When I set out to film this documentary(Gang Greed) in August of 2008, my goal to tell the fans side. To let the fans speak about what it means to be a Jets fan. How the new PSL's were going to affect their status as a season ticket holder. Were they going to invest in them or stop going to games altogether. Now, it seams, no one may be going to any games in 2011.

National Football League team owners locked out the league’s players Saturday, shutting down professional football for the first time in 24 years and plunging the nation’s most popular and prosperous sport into a time of uncertainty.

The owners acted after labor talks with the players’ union collapsed Friday afternoon and players decertified the NFL Players Association, moving the bitter dispute into the courts and ending an era of NFL labor peace that had lasted since players went on strike in 1987.

Decertifying the NFL Players Association enabled the players to file antitrust litigation against the owners, which they did late Friday, with superstar quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees among the 10 named plaintiffs. Lawyers for the players also announced that they are seeking an injunction to lift the lockout.

Some still wonder if all of this was worth the headache. Not just for the players and owners, but the fans as well. Both the Jets and Giants issued apologies to the fans for the lockout. The players feel they did what they could but were left with no other choice.

The team owners will complain they are losing money. I am sure they will have no issues paying their bills though. The income is a loss for their business, not them personally. Some younger players will feel the crunch if they are not playing. Many veteran players have investments and other business ventures that will help them get by. But in the end, they will all be on the losing end.

Does anyone really win when this happens? When the last lockout occurred in 1987, who won that battle? The players went on strike while the owners went out and hired "scabs" to play out the season. Will the team owners do the same thing this year? Probably not. They all want to get this rectified before training camp begins. The fans would like it done sooner.

For season ticket holders, they would like to know sooner than later. Many are pleased only 50% is due and not the whole bill. It gives some longer to get that money together. But knowing a season will happen is better knowing now rather than three weeks into a season. We are on the outside looking in, wondering if a sport many of us enjoy will even happen this year.

Last week Judge David S. Doty ruled that the NFL violated the collective bargaining agreement with its players by renegotiating $4.078 billion in television rights fees for team owners to tap during a lockout even if no games are played in 2011. Why should the owners be entitled to money if there is no season? Should the players get paid if they do not play?

Both sides have their issues. Many players feel the union walked away from a deal that sounded good and met their needs, despite the negative media attention towards the NFL and its owners. According to that statement the NFL released the latest proposal’s details included:

1. The NFL proposed that the two sides split the economic differences between them, increasing their proposed cap for 2011 "significantly" and accepting the NFLPA's proposed cap number for 2014, which was $161 million per team.

2. The NFL proposed an entry level compensation system that was based on the union's "rookie cap" instead of a wage scale that the clubs originally proposed. In this proposal, the players drafted from rounds 2-7 would be paid the same amount of money, or even more money, than they are paid now. The savings that would come from the first-round picks would be reallocated to help veteran players and benefits.

3. After a player is injured, the NFL would guarantee that they would pay up to $1 milllion of that player's salary for the contract year. This is the first time that the owners have offered a standard multi-year injury guarantee.

4. The following changes would be made immediately to promote player safety:

Reduce the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 weeks to 10 and limiting on-field practice time and contact.

They would limit full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season

They would increase the number of off days for players

5. The NFL proposed that any change from a 16-game season to an 18-game season would only be made if the two sides agreed on the change. The 2011 and 2012 seasons would be 16-game seasons.

6. The NFL team owners would boost retirement benefits for more than 2,000 former players by nearly 60 percent by funding retirees benefits $82 million in 2011 and 2012.

7. The owners offered current players the opportunity to stay in their current medical plans for the rest of their lives.

8. The owners would allow third-party arbitrators in the NFL's drug and steroid programs.

9. The owners would improve the Mackey plan (designed for players suffering from dementia and other brain-related problems), disability plan and their degree completion bonus program.

10. The owners proposed a per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons.

Now that you know the particulars of the deal, do you still agree with the NFLPA's decision to decertify and go to court with the NFL?

Yes, the negotiations have been messy and well-publicized but progress was made before the recent burning of bridges. After having half the month of March in extensions of negotiations, both sides were reportedly off by $185 million on how much owners should get up from each season for certain operating expense before splitting up the rest of the revenues with players. That’s a far less amount than the $1 billion difference that separated the two sides earlier in discussions.

A recent poll by ProFootballTalk.com asked fans to place blame on who is responsible for the lockout and 27,000 have said that the player’s are to blame, barely. Just over 38% say the players are to blame, while 24.8% blame the owners and 36.7% blame both.

Many say this is the billionaires vs the millionaires. Two sides who get paid well, fighting to be paid more. If you own a professional football team, one would think you already had enough. Some of that may go to team operations and other bills to be paid, but many know where the bottom line ends. Players put their bodies on the line and should see a little more compensation. Let's see Woody Johnson or the Mara or Tisch families out there to battle for that extra compensation. I think not.

So while the league and the union continue to bicker like a divorced couple fighting over bank accounts, the fans are the ones who are truly hurting from this dispute, like a child overhearing their parents argument.

Glenn Beck Claims Japan Earthquake is a Sign From God

God hates Japan? Glenn Beck, Tea Party activist and Fox News commentator, has said that the 8.9 earthquake in Japan that has killed many and destroyed the lives of even more is a sign from God. Here's the audio commentary:

That was said on Monday during a radio show. Oh Glenn Beck, how eloquent a speaker.

Adrian Peterson NFL Slavery Comment Removed From Yahoo Post

Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson has become a Twitter Trend, and is getting slammed in the process for comments he supposedly made on Yahoo!'s Shutdown Corner blog column. While blogs like The Huffington Post claim that Peterson said "It's modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that.."

But where that appears in the actual Yahoo! blog post is not there. Instead, it reads:

The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don't know that I want to quote myself on that…
SC: It's nothing that I haven't heard from other players, believe me.
AP: People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it's how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, 'Hey — without us, there's no football.'

The "modern-day slavery" comment is just not there anymore. In a search through the blog post, it only appears in the comments issued by readers below the blog post. Thus, while Adrian Peterson allegedly made that comment, it's clear he didn't mean for it to remain online. Instead he says "I don't know that I want to quote myself on that…"

Still, the damage was done. Comedian Chris Rock sent out the most retweeted Twitter Tweet, which popped up on Google Trends as a "top update" and which reads:

@NotChrisRock Chris Rock
Adrian Peterson said the NFL is like modern-day slavery? Slaves got hit with whips & locked in chains. He just buys whips & lots of chains
1 hour ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Twitter - 52 minutes ago

And NFL Running Back and Notre Dame star Ryan Grant weighed in with his disagreement, as have thousands of people on Twitter. (It's died down now; Adrian Peterson is not longer a Twitter Trend.)

But is Adrian correct? Well, I think it's an insult to the real slaves: college football players. The problem is the black college football player thinks that's the only road to financial success in the NFL. So they're willing to put up with being used at the college level, and the colleges are into helping them.

Once a player get to the NFL, the pay scale, endorsements, and guaranteed contracts take the "slavery" tag off the table. Just look at how former Oakland Raiders QB  Jamarcus Russell made out with $29 million in guaranteed money, and is now out of football. A draft bust.

But beyond that, it's clear the NFL has a problem which could be solved by a comprehensive employee ownership program.  In that concept, NFL Players would get to own a share of the NFL.  Now I'm not quoting anyone's idea; it's mine.  But it seems like something that should have been done a long time ago.

The Boxer's Poem

In my video talk with boxing legend Irish Pat Lawlor he got off a poem that's worth hearing. So here's the video:

Stay tuned.

Donald Trump Gets Roasted

Tonight on Comedy Central will be the roast of Donald Trump, previews show that Mike Sorrentino aka The Situation will probably be getting it worse than The Donald.

Watch it tonight at 10 pm after Tosh.O

posted from Bloggeroid

99ers Hungry & Homeless NOT an Emergency - But Japan Is?

I cannot understand how 99ers being hungry and homeless is not an emergency, but Japan Is?

I believe that anyone going hungry or homeless should be an emergency that must be tackled and resolved immediately by the powers that be - after all which is worse:

  • Acute hunger and homelessness knowing that help is on the way?


  • Prolonged hunger & homelessness knowing there is no help in sight?

The disaster and tragedy playing out in Japan is horrendous and every available resource must be used give aid and comfort to those effected. On the other hand, the USA who has yet to address the hunger and homelessness of millions of it’s own people must take care of the crisis on it’s own shores.

It makes me sick that our President, who has yet to utter the term “99ers” in public for more than 1 year now has mentioned Japan several times over the past week. Congress has focused it’s ‘post Japan disaster rhetoric’ on how “safe” nuclear power is in this country. The terms: Safe Nuclear Power or Clean Coal always strike me as intentional myths, like the term: Virgin Whore - exactly who are they trying to kid?

Fact is, the only thing these members of the US Congress or the current Administration care about is the campaign contributions the big power companies put into their pockets and NOT the Safety of the US population. They lie and twist the facts and claim they are doing the “will of the American people” when nothing could be farther from the truth. If Wisconsin showed us anything at all it is that the “Will of the People” is one thing the Republicans couldn’t care less about and neither does Obama. For all his campaign promises to “march on the side of the workers” the first time the opportunity presented itself during his presidency - Obama was a no show!

Anyone who believes that our government or the Japanese officials for that matter are giving us the straight scoop on the nuclear portion of the current disaster - is only fooling themselves. The thing is, if the governments were honest about what is really happening due to the failed reactor incidents in Japan - the stock markets would crumble.

So we can infer from this intentional omission of the real facts that the US and Japan care far less about protecting the masses of poor, now in the path of huge radiation exposure and the resulting health consequences and care far more about protecting the wealth of those heavily invested in the markets. In other words, “Business as Usual” for our greedy leaders.

Perhaps this will finally wake up the world about the consequences of continuing to serve the needs of the few and risk the well being of the masses. Germany seems to be getting the message.

On Saturday, March 12, at the protest in southwestern Germany, demonstrators formed a human chain between the Neckarwestheim nuclear plant and the city of Stuttgart, which are 28 miles (45 kilometers) apart. Some waved yellow flags with the slogan "Nuclear power — no thanks." Organizers put the number of protestors at over 60,000.

The demonstration was planned long before the post-earthquake blast at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, but the fears of possible disaster gave an added focus to opponents of the technology in Germany.

So why can’t the US seem to get the message? Most of the nuclear power plants in California are said to be able to withstand a potential quake of up to 7 on the Richter Scale. With approximately 20 quakes in the last decade over the threshold of 7 - the present state of safety of these structures is in extreme jeopardy. Now is NOT the time to cut funding or repeal regulations that could further imperil our populations near these sites and around the world. Something the Republican Congress needs to be reminded of daily.

Another thing the Congress needs to be reminded of on a daily basis is the continuing effects of the man made 99er disaster playing out in every state of the union, unabated and unresolved with nobody coming to the rescue.

Before anyone condemns me for criticizing the USA’s rapid aid response to Japan - DON’T - I believe that every bit of help is needed to assist the Japanese at this terrible time of vulnerability for their country.

I simply cannot fathom how the US Government and main stream media can continue to put the suffering of Millions of American 99ers - for more than a year now with no help in sight - on the back burner yet again in favor of the latest “crisis of the month” - Remember the BP oil spill nearly one year ago?

From 20 April through 15 July 2010 for hours on end the media constantly showed the gushing oil from the bottom of the gulf. Had they featured the suffering from one 99er family each hour in addition to that gushing broken oil well - we might have already by now resolved the 99er issue and I’d have nothing more to write about....a development I look forward to with immense, happy anticipation - however it isn’t bloody likely to occur anytime soon.

Oakland Ranked Choice Voting Complaints An Insult To Mayor Quan

There's still discussion over the new Oakland Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) system, with the latest article suggesting that a number of voters didn't understand it. Well, that's wrong headed and an insult to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan that's starting to sound like that high-pitched whine journalists make over the sale of The Huffington Post to AOL. Look, the November election's over and Quan won.

Moreover, Jean Quan won because a healthy number of voters did understand RCV - enough to product an incredible outcome.

In our election recap, Oakland City Attorney John Russo actually explained how Quan could win over Don Perata, who scored about 35 percent of the first-choice votes, before she won, then said that the possibility of Quan getting three-quarters of the second-place and third-place votes was so remote, it wouldn't happen. See this video:

But guess what? It did happen. Russo actually called it. Moreover, it means, once again, that Quan and Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan's gamespersonship worked. That's right. They smartly gamed the RCV system in telling their supporters to vote for the other person's candidate. Nice work.

And before you get upset over my use of that term gamespersonship, which was deliberate, calm down and consider the reverse. Don Perata didn't play the game. He failed to use a campaign strategy of working a deal to make sure even his supporters knew who to pick for second and third choice. Think of what may have happened if none of his supporters picked Quan as their second choice?

Now you see the point.

Even if all voters understood RCV, it would not have translated into a different outcome. The playing field was open to anyone willing to apply a little game theory and marketing. That's what Quan and Kaplan did.

Now Quan's the Mayor of Oakland. Get over it, please. We have too many problems and still not enough jobs for Oakland residents. We need more than a new retail store; we need a manufacturing plant. Our focus should be on Oakland's economic development, and not on ranked choice voting.

The Fighter: Irish Pat Lawlor: Boxer On Beating Roberto Duran, Boxing Poem

Today, while with my friend Thomas Bonk at a bar called La Rocca's at Chestnut and Columbus in San Francisco's North Beach, and making the first videos of what will soon be the Thomas Bonk Show, I had the pleasure of meeting a boxing legend. The Fighter: Irish Pat Lawlor, a San Franciscan who fought, on-and-off, between 1987 and 2005, and in some of the most memorable matches in boxing history.

Irish Pat Lawlor's career was marked by three major victories over fighters Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez and Rene Arredondo. But separate from the joy of winning and fighting 12 boxing champions, was the grind of being a career boxer. Someone who fought to make the rent.

But, even while posting what became a 23-16-1 (7 KOs) record, Lawlor's never-say-die attitude and winning personality carried him through. His determination allowed him to later (in my video) describe his win over the intimidating Roberto Duran as "easy." It also caused him, at one point, to run for San Francisco Mayor on what was described as an "arch-conservative, anti-gay platform."

But all of that, some 20 years ago, seems well in the past, and Lawlor's a far more willing to go-along to get-along today. The kind of guy who will buy the bar a round and engage in friendly banter, as he did today.

Of late, Lawlor's become known for "The Boxer's Poem," that he recited in the video without a break and for just over 3 minutes. It's a riveting poem Lawlor delivers in a riveting way, and starts like this:

Sometimes I think it's a lowdown shame
the way I try to hang in this rough, crazy game
My body is aching, my hands and feet are sore.
And I'm getting really tired of pulling myself up off the floor
It all started as a tribute to a friend ...

From my research my video is the first to have Lawlor actually speaking a poem only written about before.

The variation of the poem Lawlor tells today is different from the one recorded in text in 2001. It focuses more on the loss of a friend than the prostitute that the boxer sometimes is. This version, the 2011 version, is softer and more touching that before, but packing no less of a punch.

Irish Pat Lawlor's still got it, just in a different way.