Leland Stein III

Patriots get defensive, wins sixth Super Bowl

In sports column on February 4, 2019 at 5:56 pm

 

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Tom Brady orchestrates fourth quarter drive. – Gary Montgomery photo

By Leland Stein III

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Leland Stein III

ATLANTA – Super Bowl LIII was intriguing in many ways as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback, Tom Brady, both were chasing longevity records – the oldest coach and quarterback to win the coveted Lombardi trophy.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles Rams and head coach, Sean McVay, were chasing the youngest ever coach to win the big game, and, they were hoping for a repeat of  its last Super Bowl appearance which was also held in Atlanta (XXXIV) in 2000, where the, then, St. Louis Rams outlasted the Tennessee Titans 23–16.

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Dont’a Hightower’s (54) get close and personal with Jared Goff. – Gary Montgomery photo

After four quarters of defensive, but intense football, and the smoke from the halftime show inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium finally dissipated, the 70,081 at the game and millions worldwide watching or streaming, conclusively, a winner was indeed anointed.

For a NFL record sixth time, the Patriots outlasted the upstart Rams and once again hoisted the valued Vince Lombardi trophy with its 13-3 triumph.

It took a classic Brady engineered five-play, 69-yard drive to record the first, and only, touchdown of the game and break a 3-3 deadlock, with Sony Michel plunging in from the two-yard line, making the score 10-3.

“All the titles are special, because they are all different,” Brady said. “We started the season 1-2 and people really started to doubt us, so our team used that as a motivator. We have some guys in this locker room with chips on their shoulder, but they know how to direct that in a positive way.”

The upstart Rams, who have returned home to LA, in its second year back on the West Coast, did win the NFC title to get in the Super Bowl, but New England played one of its best defensive games all season and shut down the No. 2 offense in the NFL this season.

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Julian Edelman was awarded MVP. – Gary Montgomery photo

“How about our defense, man?” Brady interjected. “They played unbelievable. The Rams defense was tough and they played really well. It took us awhile, but we grinded it out and finally had that fourth quarter touchdown drive. Fortunately, our defense really played their best game all season; it was an incredible win.

“We were moving the ball, we couldn’t convert enough. That was a great football team. They were at this point for a reason, they have a lot of great players, but we made just enough plays to get it done.”

Concurred Belichick: “We were able to move the ball some, but we couldn’t sustain drives and get in the red area or get in the end zone in the first three quarters. It’s a credit to the Rams defense. But when it really mattered, we made those kind of tough plays, tough catches, catch-and-run plays, breaking tackles for a few extra yards, dealing with third downs both on offense and defense is why we won this tough game.”

The 2018 NFL season showcased an offensive explosion throughout, breaking all kinds of records, but in Super Bowl LIII, both teams got defensive.

New England (14-5) fashioned a blue-collar effort allowing the fewest points in a Super Bowl (tied against Miami). With the victory the Patriots have now beaten the top two offenses. First the Chiefs and now the Rams (15-4), tying Pittsburgh for most Super Bowl team titles (6).

Together the Rams and Patriots collective 16 total points were the fewest points in Super Bowl history. The Pats 13 points was also the fewest in a game for a winning team.

Most surprising was the fact both quarterbacks, Brady and the Rams Jared Goff, did not toss a touchdown pass – another first in Super Bowl history.

Goff was harnessed by the smothering New England defense. He appeared at times to be unsure of himself. Still with the game within reach, he seemed to gather his poise and got the Rams clicking with on a 7-play, 48-yard, drive with a chance to tie the score. But he threw an interception to Stephon Gilmore that took the air out of L.A.’s sails.

“I though he (Goff) made some great throws to get us down in position,” explained Rams’ coach Sean McVay, the youngest to lead a team to the Super Bowl at 34. “The play clock was ticking down and he kind of threw it off of his back foot. I think the biggest thing is that the play selection didn’t really give him much of a chance. There is no other way to say it, but I got out coached.”

Added Goff: “It kills! It kills and hurts me so much just knowing how well our defense played Tom (Brady). To play that well defensively and us not hold up our end of the bargain, it’s our job to score points, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

The Patriots playing in its third consecutive Super Bowl, winning LI with a record setting comeback versus the Atlanta Falcons, then losing last year in LII to the Philadelphia Eagles, mustered up just enough to earn the victory.

With the win Brady, 41-years-old, in his ninth big game, became the first and only player in NFL history to win six rings, and, he also earned the unique distinction as the oldest quarterback to hoist the Lombardi trophy.

Brady’s surpassed rival Peyton Manning, who at 39, helped the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50.

Belichick, 66, also established a first, becoming the oldest coach to ever win the Super Bowl. Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin was 65 when his team beat Belichick’s Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl MVP on the strength of his 10 catches for 141 yards. However, a case could have been made for Rob Gronkowski, who corralled six passes. Two of his catches covered 47 yards of the fourth quarter game-winning drive.

“Tom threw it to me and I had to make a play,” exclaimed Gronkowski. “He knows to trust in me and throw that ball in coverage and I’m going to grab it.”

That he did, grab it. In fact, the Patriots collectively grabbed yet another Lombardi trophy.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Sports Zone honors achievers

In sports column on October 14, 2018 at 1:41 am

 

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Gilbert “Gravedigger” Brown was the anchor in the middle of the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning D Line.

By Leland Stein III

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Leland Stein III

DETROIT, Mi. – The Detroit Sports Zone recently hosted its Seventh Annual High School Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony at Bert’s Market Place Theater.

In a one-on-one interview I implemented with NFL Hall of Fame legend, Jim Brown, he told me that “we have to tell our own stories.” That is exactly what the Detroit Sports Zone organizers are striving to accomplish.

“Our music and sports histories are very important,” said Detroit Sports Zone board member, Michael Price. “Never before has All-City, All-Metro, All-State, or All-American sports legends from Detroit Public Schools been honored for their athletic and academic accomplishments, and, their productivity as citizens in Detroit, or across the globe. We are also honoring men and women so the youth can see them and maybe even emulate their efforts.”

Continuing with Price’s assertion, it is important for the young people to see others that have lived in their neighborhoods, went to their schools and fought through some of the same constraints/problems many of our youth endure still today.

Urban cities throughout America continues to yield young men and women that negotiated the negatives of their environments and uplift themselves via athletics. The 2018 Class continues this aim as it is a diverse conglomeration of achievers and educators.

The 2018 honored awardees were: 

Gilbert Brown graduated from Detroit Mackenzie High and University of Kansas. He was All-State at Mackenzie and All-Academic while at Kansas. He has been placed in the Kansas’ Ring of Honor and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Brown played nine years with the Packers and in 1996, he started all 16 games next to Santana Dotson, Sean Jones and Reggie White, a defensive unit that allowed a league record low 19 touchdowns and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI. 

“I used football to go to college,” Brown told me after the induction ceremony. “Never thought it would go this far, playing in Green Bay alongside Reggie White, winning the Super Bowl, and now getting honored at home is very special indeed. My family, coaches and friends are all here.”

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NBA star and coach Johnny Davis.

Johnny Davis prepped at Detroit Murray-Wright High and University of Dayton. He was a high school All-State and All-American. He continued his stellar play at Dayton making the U.S.A. Men’s Basketball team and helping it earn a Pan American Games gold medal. Playing 10-years in the NBA, his stellar moment came in 1977 with Portland winning the valued NBA championship. Later be became the first and only Detroit Public School League alumni to become a head coach in the NBA – he led three NBA teams. 

“I grew up in the Brewster Projects and played in the PSL,” Davis recalled after leaving the stage. “Words cannot describe how I feel about being home and getting recognized by the Detroit Sports Zone. Ever since I left for college, played in a number of cities in the NBA, and, coached on even more NBA teams, no matter my travels, Detroit was and is still my home.” 

Markita Aldridge, a 1991 Detroit Martin Luther King High All-State, All-American basketball star led her school to a Michigan Class A State title. She was also named Miss Basketball in the State of Michigan. She also starred at UNC-Charlotte. Played in the WNBA and overseas. She has her own foundation and is the mother of two boys 

Jim Bibbs, an Ecorse High and Wayne State MA graduate, and high school track star, who tied a Jesses Owens world record in the 60-yard dash (1951) while at Eastern Michigan University. Transferring his history and knowledge to Michigan State University he became the first black head track coach in the Big Ten (1975-1995).  He has coached 26 All-Americans, 52 Big Ten Champions, been named to three track Hall of Fames and was A. Phillip Randolph Institute Unsung Hero Awardee. 

“I remember the days of the Black Bottom and Black Experience in Detroit,” Bibbs told me, “so, these Detroiters getting together to honor and recognize their own, makes this even more special for me, and, reminds me of how we had to do for ourselves.” 

David “Smokey” Gaines came out of Detroit Public Schools (Miller and Northeastern High) and continued his education at LeMoyne-Owens College (BS) and Eastern Michigan (MA). The All-City basketball star left college amid the segregation era and found solace with the Harlem Globetrotters (1963-67). From there, among many endeavors, Gaines started his career passion coaching. In particular he became assistant coach at University of Detroit (1973-77) and head coach (1977-79). From there Gaines piloted San Diego State University as head coach (1979-87) and as Assistant Athletic Director (1987-89). He eventually went back to become Athletic Director and head coach at LeMoyne-Owens (2005). 

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Thomas Hearns.

Thomas “Hitman” Hearns prepped in Detroit schools and rose in the Sweet Science under the tutelage of legendary Detroit Kronk trainer, Emanuel Steward. Hearns became the only boxer to win five world titles in five divisions; he also, was the first to hoist eight world titles in six weight classes. He was selected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Sammy Gee is a graduate of the legendary Detroit Miller High School where he earned All-City honors in football, basketball and baseball. He was not doubt one of the greatest all-around athletes to come out of the city. Gee played with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters for eight years, played Negro League Baseball with the New York Cubans, as well as, with the Brooklyn Dodgers Canadian American League Farm Team. 

George Perles went to Detroit Western High and to Michigan State University. The United States Army veteran came back tot the city to coach St Ambrose tot the Detroit City Leagues title. He then became defensive line coach at Michigan State for 12-years. He parlayed that endeavor into a defensive coordinator position with the Pittsburg Steelers from 1972-82, and, with it came four Super Bowl championships. He left the Steelers to become head coach at Michigan State (1982-94) winning two Big Ten titles and one Rose Bowl. 

Ronnie Phillips prepped at Detroit Denby High and continued on to the University of Illinois. Phillips was an All-City and All-State runner at 880-yards, one mile run and cross-country. At Illinois he became an All-American and All-Big Ten, setting the conference record at the 800-meters that lasted from 1972-82. He went on to become noteworthy educator in Detroit, rising up as a counselor, department head and principal. 

Dr. Robert Sims graduated from Detroit Western High as an exceptional basketball player, he went on to get a BS from Eastern Michigan, an MS from New York University and later earned his D.O. for Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. He was very successful in private practice medicine and surgery for almost 30-years. Yet, he still gave his valuable time to give Detroit Schools athletic teams physical examinations. He was selected to the Eastern Michigan Hall of Fame basketball/track. 

Not only were the “Terrific Ten” acknowledged and feted, the Detroit Sports Zone awarded four scholarships to present and former city students. 

The Detroit Sports Zone’s history is featured prominently on www.detroitsportszone.org, and, it showcases the history makers and features video history with present and past inductees.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and at Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Blue Lives Matter founder says NFL Players’ protest are fake

In sports column on August 24, 2018 at 1:25 am
Miami Dolphins v New York Jets

New York Jets team and owner lock arms during National Anthem.

 By Leland Stein III

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Leland Stein

A friend sent me an article on Yahoo.com where a group has bastardized Black Lives Matter movement into Blue Lives Matter.

First, I want to say I have too many friends and family that have been in or are now in the military or on the police force. My grandfather fought in World War II, uncles and cousins in Vietnam and Korea. Many more are policemen so I truly respect and appreciate their sacrifice for this country.

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Of course, Blue Lives Matter, Yellow Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter . . . All Lives Matter. What sane person can question that intent; however, when a group uses divisiveness and untruths as a basis for its meaning – it only drives a giant wedge between groups instead of building bridges.

The complete inability of Americans to listen to, respect, receive, regard or take note of any opinion other than their own is disconcerting and troubling. That’s what I take from the Blue Lives Matter founder’s words.

Hey, I have twin grandsons that are four-years-old and I at one point thought we were really leaving the world a better place for their dreams, goals and aspirations. But when I see the complete discord and inharmoniousness people are displaying I have to wonder where we are headed.

Our First Amendment gives all the right of free speech; however, with that we all have to understand freedom is not free. It comes with a responsibility of respectful discourse and being able to listen to others that may have different opinions.

Also, what has happened to facts. Two plus two equals four, the sun raises in the East, airplanes use fuel and grits and butter are made for each other – facts. Yet, in this getting stranger everyday universe “alternative facts” have creeped into today’s lexicon.

Look no further than this article in Yahoo.com where the founder of a proposed pro-police organization blasted NFL player protests and turned down a partnership offer from the New York Jets.

Blue Lives Matter NYC recently was approached by the Jets about a partnership. Instead of using the opportunity to uplift the men in blue and enter dialogue with the predominately African-American players the founder, Joe Imperatrice, jumped on the Trump train and made it all about the NFL players. He uses his Blue Lives Matter platform to regurgitates every stereotype and typecast he can to denigrate those Black men trying to make the world a better place for all.

He issued a vile email that marginalize minority Americans’ very real concerns and apprehensions relating to sometimes excessive and one-sided interactions with a “very small percentage” of police.

In spite of the fact many veterans and some police have rallied around the players right to First Amendment non-violent protest, the divisive rhetoric seeded by Trump has grown into its own tree. 

Via emails shared with The New York Post, Blue Lives Matter founder wrote:

“Although I’d love to work with an NFL team right now I feel it is not the right time. All over the United States players feel entitled to disrespect our first responders, our military members both past and present and our flag. These players make more money in a season than some people make in a lifetime and their ‘Issues’ are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.”

He continued: “Once again I do appreciate the offer but revenue we have could better be spent on the families of officers killed in the line of duty protecting the ignorance of these individuals rather than contributing to their paycheck.”

Blue Lives Matter founder in July, appeared on a Fox News segment blaming the media for a war on cops saying: “Just like Donald Trump gets beat up every day, so does law enforcement.”

Wow! Just another so sorry example of someone not listening to his fellow man, instead he went for the same-old tired and fatigued racial juggernaut, claiming the NFL players’ protests are fake and over exaggerated . . . what? In other words, African-American issues are not worth his time of day. Just like our president, he simply ignored and refused to address the players’ real intent, instead pandering to a segment of Americans who gleefully bury the real and only reason for player protest under an avalanche of falsehoods and created disrespects.

Instead of even acknowledging some real issues, the Blue Lives Matter leader jumped on the men’s salary (what the heck does that have to do with anything?); replayed this anti-military, anti-first responders, anti-flag, anti-country “fake” disrespect thing. The final nail in the coffin was him suggesting the protesting players were ignorant (most of these men spent at least three years in college).

Why am I even surprised? This man is the same person who defended in a 2017 Fox News segment the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy that gave officers authority to detain and search pedestrians using their judgment of “reasonable suspicion.” Here are the facts: a report uncovered that 84 percent of the people stopped and frisked in New York were black or Hispanic while 10 percent were white.

It appears that some of our white brethren just will not listen or acknowledge that there are a small number of officers that do not always do the right thing. How has this fact turned into a condemnation of all officers?

In this free-flowing society teachers, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, garbage men, sports owners etc. al have made mistakes or taken a wrong turn. This is a fact. So why will Americans not admit that a few of our men in blue make mistakes too?

To all our brothers and sisters in this life, once again: the NFL players never, ever attacked the military, men or women in blue, the flag or first responders (wow, that was a new addition in this discourse – the first time I’ve heard someone accuse the players of hating on first-responders).

Blue Lives Matter founder went so far as to claim the players’ “issues are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.” To answer that lie about “made up,” during the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, Randy Moss, wore a tie with the names 10 black people who somewhat recently were unjustly killed by police or died after being taken into custody. He noted that he received hate mail after he used his platform to raise awareness of some very real issues in the Black community.

In America non-violent protest has been its bedrock, yet when a few black men do it, it has morphed into a national crisis and upheaval.

The crisis is not people engaging in non-violent demonstration, it is seeing injustice to our fellow Americans and ignoring it, and, co-opting the significance of a protest and turning a positive message and intent into something negative.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII