Friday, July 18, 2014

New Live Mascot For Browns Hopes To Change Culture

A guest article, written by: Grant Helena

The Cleveland Browns have not exactly having a lot of success in recent years in the NFL. With that being said, there is plenty of optimism heading into the 2014 season. They have a pretty solid draft, and they were able to add some pieces through free agency as well. However, most people seem to be very excited about adding a new live mascot, “Swagger” the Bullmastiff.

Even though they are nicknamed the Browns, Cleveland has always had a connection to dogs. The eastern seating section at their home field is known as the Dawg Pound, and there are even fans who dress up as dogs to support the Cleveland Browns. This might seem more like a college football thing to do, but Cleveland is hoping to just improve the game day experience as much as possible.

There is increased focus on the Cleveland Browns this year now that they have added one of the most polarizing figures in quite some time in Johnny Manziel. It comes as no surprise that after all the moves they have made this year, they are in a way trying to reinvent themselves. Manziel might not start right away, but he is definitely a big part of their future at this point in time. They also added fantasy football standout Ben Tate to be their new starting running back, and if Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon (if eligible) can stay healthy, they have a formidable offense going into the year.

At the end of the day, having a live mascot is probably not going to make that much of a difference. However, it just goes to show that Cleveland is ready to put their past behind them and have new success with the direction the franchise is going. Adding a little bit of “Swagger” to the sidelines could be just what this team needs.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

*Super Bowl Sunday*

It was meant to be a day of joy. Or hatred. Depending on how The Big Game played out in your team's favor later that night.

But those superficial emotions meant for a silly game gave way to real sadness at a moment's notice, when I awoke to the news of my favorite actor's death on a Sunday morning that had felt like any other.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: 1967 - 2014

I first heard of the news via an unreliable post on Facebook. Considering this is the day and age of fake celebrity deaths on the Internet (an odd era), I spent the next 30 minutes doing my best to disprove what, I had hoped, was the nastiest of rumors.

But I lost that battle worse than Denver would go on to lose the Super Bowl that night.

I can't imagine the list being very long, of people who I've never actually met in person, who's news of their death would result in actual tears of sadness. Maybe an athlete, or two, makes that hypothetical list. Or a select few other actors. It's hard to project, really. But there they were.

The most comparable death in my lifetime was that of Chiefs LB Derrick Thomas. I don't remember crying at all that day, but I also heard the news while at school, while in 8th grade (where you'll do everything in your power to fight off tears).

The fact that Hoffman could have that strong of an impact on me emotionally, simply by pretending to be somebody else on screen for 90-to-however many minutes Magnolia is, should tell you how highly I regarded him as a person.

What separated Hoffman from his acting peers was his humility, his versatility, and his passion for the profession.

Some actors give you the impression they are acting for the fame, or the fortune, or both. Not that I blame them in any way, that's both the main objective of a job, as well as one hell of a perk. But it's not exactly endearing. Atleast, not to me.

With Hoffman, you could tell he treasured the art of his chosen profession. How? Well, for one, he was a regular stage actor. That's like the bare bones of acting. On stage. Live audience. Grinding away night after night. I've heard countless people refer to him as an "actor's actor" over the past 48 hours, which I believe to be very fitting.

On screen, nothing was off limits for Hoffman, who originally made a name for himself as a supporting actor, taking on the "oh yeah, that guy" role in classics such as Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski and Almost Famous.

Not to mention, his scene/movie-stealing performances in lesser-acclaimed movies like Twister, Punch Drunk Love and Along Came Polly. I mean, come on, The Man introduced the "shart" into American popular culture. Where would we be as a species without that?

PSH took on characters ranging from a religious cult leader, to the manager of the Oakland A's, to the villain in Mission: Impossible III, to his lone Oscar winning performance as troubled author, Truman Capote.

He actually got to play the cool, preppy guy for once in The Talented Mr. Ripley as opposed to being the fat, dorky schlub in countless other films. He dominated at both ends of the spectrum.

He excelled as the lead role in independent films such as The Savages, Happiness, Synecdoche, New York and Jack Goes Boating (his lone directing credit), probably my favorite type of films to watch him act in.

Shit, he even got to fulfill the biggest fantasy of all, banging it out with Marisa Tomei in Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (you're gonna want to click that link, gentlemen).

And yet, it wasn't just the way he carried himself on screen, but off screen too. To me, there is no greater quality a human being can possess than genuine humility.

In watching coverage yesterday, I was overcome by the numerous stories from different neighbors talking about how Phil would walk his kids to school every day. There he was, this most fantastic of actors, walking his children to school just like any everyday man.

He also lived in an apartment. I'm not going to pretend to know the details of his residence, nor his actual salary, but that comes off as very modest to me.

Unfortunately, that is where this tragic tale reaches its conclusion.

After reportedly being sober for 22 years, Hoffman entered rehab sometime last year with a heroin problem. It came as an absolute shock to me at the time. Granted, most of my experience with smack comes from The Wire, and he was nothing like them.

I believe Jim Carrey summed it best, "For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much."

The noise.

I choose to believe Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn't struggling, or hurting, at the time of his death, but just needed a little help. We all need a little help getting by sometimes. I know I do. And who are you, or I, to draw some arbitrary line between what's enough and what's too much. Heroin. Alcohol. Pot. Pills. Even television. We're all numbing ourselves in one way or another.

I hope somebody, someday is able to tell Phil about how he took over Twitter on Super Bowl freakin' Sunday of all days. About how respected he was by people who truly love film. Or about how he could amaze me, and inspire me, despite never even knowing of my existence.

Or maybe I'll get to tell him myself, on our long journey to the middle.

R.I.P. The Man

His Dirkness

(Note: I will be doing a Philip Seymour Hoffman movie recommendation of the day throughout February on my Facebook page. There are 25 days left in February, so hopefully these 25 movies can give you a taste of why I considered PSH to be my favorite actor.)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

NFL Team Fantasy League

I'm starting up a new fantasy-type competition for this 2013 season, aimed at all of you NFL diehards/dorks/enthusiasts. I want to see who the best prognosticator in all the land is.

NFL Team Fantasy League

Goal: I really like how fantasy football gives fans the chance to follow different players from across the NFL that they wouldn't normally care about. The objective of this league is to give you a reason to care about the outcomes of games from throughout the league that you might not normally care about.

Before the Season:

Over/Under NFL Team Regular Season wins - In this league, you will select either the OVER or the UNDER for each of the 32 NFL teams before the season begins. I will provide the master list (shown below), providing the specific number of wins for each team.

Example: Green Bay over/under 10.5: If you think they win 11 or more games, you pick OVER. If you think they win 10 or fewer games, you pick UNDER. Rinse & repeat for each team. It's that simple.

Smallprint: You CAN push. Example: Arizona's over/under is at 6. If you're confident they win 6 games exactly, then you may pick PUSH. If they win 6, the PUSHers would receive 1 point, while both the OVERs and the UNDERs would receive 0 points.

Week to week:

Swap: For the first 9 weeks of the season, you will have the opportunity to make a "swap", essentially switching one of your picks from OVER to UNDER or from UNDER to OVER (or PUSH, if you so desire). You can only make 1 swap per week. You can choose not to make a swap. You will not receive an extra swap the next week, NO carry over.

Locked in: Once you swap a pick, you cannot swap them again for the rest of the season. That pick is locked in.

Penalty: There will be a 1 point penalty for missing a swapped pick. Example: Chiefs look bad in Week 1, you switch your pick from OVER to UNDER. They end up going 15-1, you receive -1 points.

Confidence points: For the first 9 weeks of the season, you have the opportunity to add 2 "confidence points" to your picks - 1 for an AFC team and 1 for an NFC team. Any confident points added to a correct pick are added to your final total.

Max - You can only add 2 confidence points per team.

Smallprint - Any confidence points added to a pick before swapping that pick at a later point are negated. Example: Add 1 confident point to "Seattle OVER pick" following Week 1, swap from OVER to UNDER following Week 6, and then get the pick correct - only receive 1 point. The prior confidence point was forfeited. 


1 point for each correct pick (32 points possible)
0 points for each incorrect pick
-1 point for each incorrect "swap" pick
9 weeks of confidence points (x2 = 18 points possible)
Total points possible - 50

Cost - $20 (+ a small service fee if you pay online ---> Pay Online)

Payout - 100% redistribution, dependent on number of entries. I no want no money.

Deadline - Before Baltimore/Denver kick off - September 5, 7 P.M.

Where to send picks - Email to (most communication with this league will take place via email. If you are interested at all - comment on this post, text me, tweet me, or Facebook me your email address.)

Official Over/Under List:

Arizona - 6
Atlanta - 10
Baltimore - 8.5
Buffalo - 6.5
Carolina - 7.5
Chicago - 8.5
Cincinnati - 9
Cleveland - 6.5
Dallas - 8.5
Denver - 11.5
Detroit - 8
Green Bay - 10.5
Houston - 10.5
Indianapolis - 8.5
Jacksonville - 5
Kansas City - 7.5
Miami - 8
Minnesota - 7
New England - 11
New Orleans - 9.5
NY Giants - 9
NY Jets - 6
Oakland - 5
Philadelphia - 7.5
Pittsburgh - 9
San Diego - 7.5
San Francisco - 11
Seattle - 10.5
St Louis - 7.5
Tampa Bay - 7.5
Tennessee - 6.5
Washington - 8.5

Hi$ Dirkne$$
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