Monday, December 20, 2010


Followers alike bless the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.  It's a defense which has kept the Steelers alive and well despite their continued deficiencies on the offense.  This Steelers team reminds me of the first few Steelers teams Ben Roethlisberger quarterbacked; a lot has to go their way to win a football game.  Remember, that the Steelers team that won the Super Bowl showed the ability to come back, while previous teams did not.  This one is much like that one. 

You say how is that so?  They're 10-4.  They're a first place team already locked for the playoffs.

Sure, the Steelers have amassed a 10-4 record bashing down the likes of Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Oakland, Miami, Tennessee and Cleveland.  They barely beat Atlanta in Week One, pulled a fast one in Baltimore a few weeks ago, and squeaked by a Buffalo team that dropped the winning touchdown.  Every other big game: New Orleans, Baltimore, New England and now the Jets, has seen this team fail to win on days where everything doesn't go their way.  And the times things don't go their way equals a defensive lapse or bad special teams play.  See the New England game.  See the Jets opening kickoff return (the difference maker in their 22-17 loss Sunday).  The Steelers have beaten teams with a combined winning percentage of .46 (64-75) and they've lost their four games to teams with a winning percentage of .745 (41-14). This team was 3-1 with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch behind Center. They're 7-3 with Big Ben behind center.

The Steelers offense, inept and predictable in almost every way, was finally called out on ESPN by analyst Jon Ritchie, after months of getting in their own way.  Ritchie questioned the play-calling against the Jets, saying that Mendenhall was running all over the New York defense.  How did he only get 17 carries?  I think Jon let offensive coordinator Bruce Arians off lightly for not taking control of his offense based on what it was achieving.  The Steelers red zone offense was ranked 28th going into the contest and only sunk lower after.

Let's go back to the Buffalo game four weeks ago, a game the Steelers deserved to lose.  With 2:51 left to go, the Steelers got the ball back on their own six yard line, the gift of one Troy Polamalu.  Buffalo has three timeouts left.  So the Steelers get a couple of first downs, and the game is over. 

They're backed up against they're own goal line, so conservatism is a much-supported theory on how to operate from here.  However, it isn't like they have a quarterback the organization is nervous about.  Ben Roethlisberger is now an elite quarterback in the NFL.  He has two Super Bowl rings, one of which came at his own hand, guiding the Steelers from their own 12 yard line after a holding call 88 yards for the victory in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XLIII.  He's 60-26 all time as an NFL quarterback in the regular season. 
So what does the Steeler offense do?

Let's just say I sat on my stool at a bar and called the first three plays before they happened to the person next to me.  Mendenhall to the right, 3 yards.  Mendenhall to the left, 5 yards.  Now third down, and what do you think Pittsburgh will do now?  That's right, pass.  They get a first down on this play barely.  Then run the same two running plays to Mendenhall and Redman, forcing a third down and long.  Naturally, Buffalo dials up the blitz, and Chris Kemoeatu gets called for holding, forcing the Steelers back to their 10 yard line.  Screen to Mewelde Moore on third and 22 for 11 yards.  And voila, the Bills have the ball back and tie the game to force overtime.

This cross-section of Steelers offensive ineptitude is microcosm of their season to date.  I've watched the New England Patriots, a team whose winning percentages the last few years make them a franchise worth emulating, and even without a running game to rely on to eat up clock, they simply continue to attack you.  They don't sit back and hand their destiny to someone else.  They take it upon themselves to keep the defense off the field.

What does this all add up to?  It's not about the QB under center at all.  It's about Arians and the play-calling.  The offensive scheme of the Steelers is so utterly predictable and limited that it forces the team into untenable situations.  With an offensive line already limited in depth that's been beaten down by injury, as well as a QB that's now playing injured, Arians and (Big Ben's) desire to throw downfield seems counter-intuitive, and has often been counter-productive.  When you consider the personnel the Steelers have, a passing offense designed to stretch the field is baseless.  Besides Mike Wallace, who has blazing speed, this team has few receivers to fit that bill.  Hines Ward is a playmaker, but only of short and intermediate value.  Emmanuel Sanders is still learning, and is as undersized as Randle El is.  In fact, the only Steelers receiver over six feet tall is Arnaz Battle, who doesn't have a single catch this season.  Limas Sweed was the only other guy with size at six-foot-four, but he has no hands or discipline.  Bruce Arians has lost the art of the screen, the one play he should have dialed up countless times for Willie Parker, a guy who was designed to run in space, not between the tackles.  Instead, Parker was used as if he was Jerome Bettis, and the results were not surprising.  It was only after Baltimore had stopped every other play in his book that on a third and goal, Arians gave Ben a slant pass option to Isaac Redman (a play that should have been considered on first down) that resulted in Redman's tour-de-force into the endzone to hand the Steelers a much-needed victory.

Between penalties and the inept design of the offense, should the Steeler defense go south at any moment during a game, the team will go with it.  And until Arians can get his head wrapped around his personnel and design an offense that uses them to the best of their abilities, the Steelers will continue to struggle to score, no matter who is under center.
Meanwhile, the Steelers defense is tied for third with 40 sacks and is second in the AFC with a +14 Give/Take ratio.  Sadly, with no Troy Sunday, the Steelers record just one sack and zero turnovers.  Need more be said.

No Troy, no defensive punch.  No punch on defense, no victory.

I hate to disappoint all those Steelers fans out there.  As much as I will root for them, this team is not a Super Bowl caliber team.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Is anyone else tired of this?  Haven't we all learned something by now?  Hasn't every relationship played out the same way, starting with ultimate highs, big promises and media hype only to undercut by egocentrism, disappointment and failure.  No, I'm not speaking of politics.  I'm speaking of Terrell Owens and his entire NFL career.

This past week on his reality show, it is being reported that in a conversation with fellow wideout Chad "Ochocinco" nee Johnson, his blustery, loud-mouthed co-conspirator of the supposedly promising new dynamic duo, that T.O. placed the blame for the Bengals 2-11 record squarely on the shoulders of the Cincinnati management and coaches.

In essence, T.O. is right.  Culpability always starts at the top, and the Bengals have been a rather putrid franchise throughout history sans a few solid years of the Sam Wyche/Boomer Esiason era. 

However, what T.O., now aged 37 physically, somewhere between 18 and 22 mentally, fails to realize is that history has a way of repeating itself, and T.O. hasn't learned a thing from it and has thus been its greatest repeater.

We remember his issues which started shortly after he replaced Jerry Rice as the top dog in San Francisco.  The road to his current situation is so fully littered with the waste of his antics, bad decisions, lousy deal-making and overblown self-promotion that the Indian from those classic 70's anti-pollution commercials should appear on one with Owens and should be wailing. 

We remember how this started:  when Owens blew his own horn after he celebrated on the Dallas star after scoring several touchdowns, insulting the entire Dallas faithful and enraging his own coaches.  He was suspended for a week for those antics and eventually wouldn't even speak to Steve Mariucci, his coach.  We remember when he pulled out a pen and signed a ball in the Seattle game, catching the post-game wrath of Mike Holmgren.  Eventually, the 49ers got rid of him, trading him to the Baltimore Ravens after he failed to sign his free agent papers.  Then, when a supposed trade was worked with the Ravens who offered a second round pick, a better offer than the Eagles fifth rounder, Owens failed to acknowledge the deal.  He stated outwardly he wouldn't play for the Ravens and refused to show up for his physical.  Somehow with the NFLPA got involved, the deal was voided and Owens ended up an Eagle like he wanted.  And he was happy, well, for a few months. 

Within a year, T.O. and his QB Donovan McNabb were at it, much like Owens had been with Jeff Garcia before him, and T.O. was soon in Dallas, back to the same place where he stepped on Cowboys' pride.  He had some solid seasons there, and the Dallas faithful embraced him enough to tolerate him.  But age and injury started to catch up to T.O., as well as the dropsies.  A trade for Roy Williams, the acquisition and rise of Miles Austin, not to mention T.O's own demeanor, gave Jerry Jones all he needed to cut him.  One year in Buffalo riding Trent Edwards didn't solve his woes so here he is a Bengal.

An unhappy Bengal.

What T.O. fails to see is that winning won't make T.O. any happier.  It's a convenient excuse that losing somehow brings out the moody T.O., that somehow if only he could show his worth and lead a franchise to victory, all would be right.


Even when he was within one win of the Super Bowl, and returning to a more than odds-on favorite to return the next year, he found a way to destroy that situation.  And make no mistake about it, he destroyed it.  In the wake of Andy Reid's magnanimous behavior concerning Michael Vick, who is now the top vote getter for the Pro Bowl, is there any doubt Reid's demeanor is that of a kindly, giving man who believes in rebirth and tranformation?  Were the coaches to blame there, T.O.? 

Let's take Baltimore, a franchise who had developed into a Super Bowl winner in 2001 under Brian Billick and was simply a treadmark in T.O.'s road to Philadelphia.  So certain was he of how he should run his career that he stepped on a franchise that had as much promise then as they do now nine years later.  And for what?  So he could eventually end up in Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati, a downward NFL path if there ever was one.  Yet all T.O. can look around and say is that the coaches in Cincinnati have made this team what it is.  True. T.O. actually played some inspired football this year (noticeably while keeping his mouth shut).  And his friend Chad I-can't-decide-what-my-name-should-be is puzzled that somehow bringing the boisterous and bombastic receiver to Cincinnati didn't result in the next greatest show on turf.

Yet what both of them fail to understand and may never get, is the Greatest Show on Turf, the Rams vaunted offense under Mike Martz with Kurt Warner at the helm, didn't have one player out there spouting there mouth.  They didn't record a music video.  They didn't worry themselves with reality shows all about them.  They just played football as a team, a concerto of speed and agility, no one part more important than the other.

T.O. will go down as a fantastic playmaker in the NFL, one that could actually make the Hall of Fame dare I say.  However, his legacy will fall far short of being a winner.  He'll never be mentioned among the great names like Rice, Carter, Belitnikoff, Largent and Swann.  It's hard to believe but even Michael Irvin will get greater props and he's broken the law too many times to count.

No, T.O. will go down being known for his blow, not his show; for his ability to deteriorate any coaching staff, locker room and press conference into a situation all about him.  And now, it truly is about him.  And he's 2-11 on a directionless team.

But that's the coaches fault.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


And now dear reader, the conclusion of my article.  Two notes of interest:

1) On a personal note, this was a painful post for me.  Thousands of dollars went into this research.  I did so on my own with no publication backing me because I felt any company financing this trip could institute their own agenda, which in turn, could make those that were suspicious of my intentions to begin with, only more so.  I had hoped this would lead to more articles.  I have many stories I've considered doing and wish to do.  I had hoped this article would not only be published but would open some doors.  Unfortunately, to that end some folks made promises they couldn't or didn't live up to. 

2) On a professional note, it was pointed out to me, and was completely my omission, that Project Triumph was also brought into existence with the help and assistance of the Rotary Club of Haifa, without which the Project could not have started.

and now part 3....


If there's one thing every program agrees about it's that follow-up after the initial camp process ends is a must. It has taken years for SOP and SCG-BBfP to build a presence in the areas of conflict itself.

“It's true the follow up program can't recreate the intensity of camp,” says Mailhot, “They've had a very unusual, special experience, which isn't shared by a lot of their friends….so the best forum that they can have is the kids with whom they were at camp.”

Through field offices in the region, Mailhot says SOP has created peer groups and field trips to keep the campers acquainted when they return. They also have facilitators on staff should campers need them. SOP even had an office in Gaza until it was recently forced to close, but their offices in Ramallah and Tel Aviv remain.

Project Triumph already had a presence established through Beit Hagefen. However, many personnel departures and changes created all sorts of issues in coordinating any follow-up programming. The fact the delegation finished in May and returned to their final exams before the summer break didn't assist in matters. Thus, the participants found continuing their journey beyond the two week camp to be too difficult.

Steinberg believes though the programs do no harm, in the end, reinforcement won't penetrate the likes of a person's narrative.

“When you're through with it you have a personal relationship. You have 'some of my best friends are Jews, some of my best friends are Arabs. But when the conflict gets tight, then everybody goes back to their separate corners and feels like they've been betrayed by the other side.”


Rawan doesn't look like an angry person. Her dark and penetrating looks often give way to a bright smile, so it's surprising that she once considered herself completely closed off from even hearing about an Israeli's point of view. Her parents, originally from Hebron, were displaced to Beit Hanina in the West Bank during the war.

“If I compare today's kids to that group that I was with, we were just angrier, but we were also angrier in a way that we actually voiced it… so I would go to and say to an Israeli, 'you are the reason people are shot.' It's not because of me, it's because of you.”

Rawan's first year in SCG-BBfP saw her return home to the Second Intifada. However, she found herself being able to see the conflict from both sides.

“I was being shot at, harassed at checkpoints and sort of had to take a two-hour detour because the soldier decided for that day I wasn't allowed to be there, so that was one side. The second side, I went to an Israeli college and I was taking the buses and they were exploding. Missed a couple of bombs myself so in a sense I went through both sides of fear in Jerusalem.”

However, it wasn't until a particularly bad day during the airstrikes in Bethlehem that everything changed for Rawan. An Israeli teenager named Adva, one who she hadn't been particularly close to at camp, phoned her house to find out if Rawan was OK. Though Rawan wasn't there, her mother relayed the message.

“I was like, who the hell is that? I didn't even remember her because my interaction with Israelis was very limited to, 'this is my story, goodbye.' You know, so from that point I was like why the hell would an Israeli care to call?”

Adva, the caller on the other end of this relationship, is not necessarily your typical Israeli either. Her family is Jewish, but is considered very secular, even with her family having lost members to the Holocaust.

“They were bombing Bethlehem University. I heard it on the radio and I remembered that Rawan was there, so I called her house phone….I wanted to make sure everything was OK.”

That one act between these two SCG-BBfP graduates solidified a friendship that continues to this day, and it all stemmed from this program. Rawan, 26, worked as a facilitator and coordinator at SCG-BBfP and now has a Masters Degree in social work. She works in Jerusalem's Moslem Quarter for a Palestinian Community Center advocating for equal rights. Adva, 26, is obtaining her bachelors in education for social justice, environmental justice and peace education. She just finished up working for another NGO, 'Windows for Peace'.


When it comes to determining the success of SCG-BBfP, (and perhaps any of these programs) Feldman says the measuring cup isn't as simple as turning on television news, seeing a Hamas terrorist act or an Israeli reprisal and thinking these programs aren't having any affect.

“We've been able to measure a difference in attitudinal change and attitudinal behavior towards the other….it's very interesting how many times the parents report back to us. What they'll say is we're not quite sure what you did at camp but one thing we've noticed is our child is able to listen better, they're more willing to sit at the table and to hear me out.”

For the 20 teenagers who graduated Triumph's third class in 2009, even in a mixed city such as Haifa, the journey towards true co-existence is an uphill battle. Six months after their graduation, only a few of the 20 had come together afterwards. As I met with members of the group for a dinner in December '09, the relationships still kindled a spark for all them, but none of the projects they committed to starting when they returned had come to bear. Some blamed the inconspicuous timing of returning to final exams and then summer break. Others blamed the project and Beit Hagefen for not being organized in their follow up. And a good portion take full responsibility for it themselves, realizing that nearly all of them have computers, phones and time if they wanted to see each other; a true sign of the leaders they will someday become.

It's hard to know what the outcomes of these programs will be. Project Triumph is re-organizing after a divide in philosophy with Beit Hagefen and expects their next curriculum to take place in Israel. With the first SOP 'Seeds' and SCG-BBfP graduates just reaching their 30's, the day may finally be arriving where their voices will enter the public debate. Already some are taking positions in places of law and government, but many of the graduates I spoke to admit not wanting to go directly into politics. However, they acknowledge it's more optimistic than what goes on between their respective leadership.

“It's like 50 years we've been doing through arms and what not and it hasn't worked,” says Rawan rather directly. “Today, 68 years later we're still using the same methods and the same tactics. Are we so surprised it's not working?”

Klein no longer believes it's about tactics at all, that frustrations with the peace process have left no demand for peace, particularly among Israelis. He cited as evidence a 2009 campaign run by a Palestinian organization trying to garner Israeli support for the Arab League Peace Initiative.  “Two weeks ago, there was a poll by the Truman Institute asking Israelis how many of you read or saw the ads. Seventy-five percent did not read, did not see the ads despite that the ads of the Arab League were published on a whole page, a few times in every Israeli newspaper.”

While academics such as Klein and Steinberg are still skeptical that a bottom-up approach can ever work, none of them can suggest a better idea, and agree the status quo top-down approach amounts often to not much more than a formality. The real peace takes place between people. Certainly, if Iris and her Palestinian motivators are reminders, it's that leaving the past behind and looking up may be the only way to an eventual breakthrough.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Below is the continuation of the article.


When the Triumph teens first arrive they are whisked from LAX on a driving tour of Los Angeles, which includes moving up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu on the way to Newbury Park and the West Hills. They are hosted for an introductory barbecue by a Rotary family, and meet some of the people who brought them there. For a lot of them, this is the first time in an environment where English is the prevalent language. It serves as a uniting force for the kids, who can communicate via Arabic and Hebrew amongst each other, but a reminder to their hosts of the barrier they must break through in short order.

Not only that, but the West Hills provides a safe environment and luxuries the likes of which many of these kids may never see. Upon asking them what they think initially, most of the teens can’t help respond that it’s what they see in American movies, which posits the question: Is the United States, governed by people who donate billions of dollars in aid to Israel, a place any Palestinian could truly feel at home? After all, SOP gets some of its funding from USAID grants. Certainly, as much as those teens might wish to see America, their participation could easily be dismissed by peers as the West once again pushing its agenda on the Middle East.

And that’s where critics like Kalman and Nasser Edin levy their strongest issue: the failure of these camps is solidified from moment one -- because creating a neutral environment for conflict resolution is simply impossible.

This is somewhat acknowledged by Aaron Hahn Tapper, himself a former volunteer for both SOP and SCG-BBFP, and creator of Abraham’s Vision, an educational program that seeks to educate American high school teens and college students from Jewish and Muslim religious backgrounds about their commonalities and differences. As an administrator of his own program, he’s believes finding a neutral space is next to impossible, as all environments reflect some form of ideology in some way.

“If you’re working with Group X and Group Y and you take them to a place where it’s Group X and their symbols all over the place, I’d say that’s going to be disempowering to Group Y. And I’d say that’s a challenge to some of the groups in our field.”

Hahn Tapper's organization is based in Northern California and offers programs which focus on educating Jews, Muslims & Palestinians – both in the U.S. and Middle East –on viewing old conflicts in new ways. However, most of the American-based conflict resolution groups pull students from the actual conflict area and seek as neutral a site as they can on American soil. For Seeds of Peace, the playing field is a camp in Maine. For SCG-BFFP, it’s a camp outside of Denver, and for Project Triumph, the teens’ taste of the good life at the estate is immediately replaced by wooden cabins of the Brandeis Bardin Institute in L.A.'s West Hills.

The directors of these programs also are inherently sensitive to growing their facilitators from within. Melodye Feldman, the recently retired founder of SCG-BBFP says 98% of her staff is past participants. SOP estimates that 10%-15% of its 4,000 graduates have gone on to leadership positions within the organization. Thus, as it may be the first time abroad for many of the participants, they are met by peers who speak their native tongue.

When I sat down with Paul Mailhot in December 2009 he was the Director of Global Programming for Seeds of Peace in Jerusalem (he has since become Director of South Asian Programs). He argues that taking the kids out of the area of conflict is necessary to provide a stress free environment which keeps the teens focused to the goal at hand. Not only that, it introduces them simply to each other as human beings, something that isn't done very often.

“It’s about three and half weeks, their experience with camp. And it is removed from the region so that the kids can sort of set aside some of the daily pain from this. But because that’s so, it changes them in ways often that make them want to continue to at least explore the idea of the conflict.”

Mailhot, a former U.S. Diplomat and Foreign Service officer, concedes there is a fall off particularly as the kids reach age 18 and the Jewish kids head to the Army. Feldman echoes Mailhot's sentiments, and adds that the change of scenery is necessary when the politics of your home country are in flux and violence can erupt at the drop of a hat.

“Since 2002, there have been no peace accords. And kids are going back into situations where there's no support in the communities for what they're doing, or little support.”


To address Israel as having Statehood lies at the very root of the problem when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians addressing each other. For the Palestinians living in the territory prior to 1948, Israel's birth was a slap in the face because many of them feel original “Israelis” were really Jews from Eastern Europe and not natives. Not only that, but the process that occurred after the United Nations passed resolution 181 calling for the partition that created a Jewish State in Palestine – that of the subsequent Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948 and the new Israelis creating the borders of their new country (an event which Palestinians refer to as The Nakba or “Cataclysm”) – is for Palestinians a story they compare to the Jewish displacement in Europe. The numbers vary depending on who is relating the tale, but Palestinians insist that 650,000 – 750,000 people were forcibly exiled from the new state. Israelis claim that many left willingly due to the impending invasion by Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. And the tales of racial hatred and violence perpetrated by the new Israeli armies pervade nearly every Palestinian narrative, and involve anything from simple taunting to violence.

In Project Triumph's curriculum, debating the past is a useless gesture, fraught with circular discussions that often degenerate into argument about right and wrong.

“In my view, all peace begins within yourself,” says Tom Voccola, leadership instructor and program co-organizer of Triumph. “And if you're not at peace with yourself, you can never be at peace with anybody else. What does being at peace with yourself mean? In our view it means being clear with who you are and what your life's purpose is, and being confident you are fulfilling this purpose in alignment with your values.”

Voccola and his co-organizer/wife Francis Fujii both found themselves as successful young chief executives, yet both were unfulfilled. They eventually founded CEO2, conceived from this idea you need a 'Purpose and Passion' to train and transform CEOs with the objective of reversing the productivity downturns that often follow company leadership change. Not long after, the two of them figured these methods could work in a larger forum, i.e. conflict resolution. Thus, Triumph focuses on self, and participants begin by creating a mission statement of who they are and what they hope to do with their lives. It is something they take home with them so they can be reminded of it during times of trouble.

“In our video, Ilan [Migdali] puts it very clearly, that when you know who you are and you connect to that part of yourself, there's no need to go to war with another person.”

Triumph's philosophy is to help teens distinguish their own truths from the narrative their parents and grandparents have fed them, which is usually system of truths or half-truths steeped in the bitterness and resentment of the past combined with unwillingness to focus on now, and more importantly the future.

“Over the years we found the great divide is rooted in the past,” Voccola points out rather emphatically. “There is no common future for the two sides coming from that place. It's a lot of finger pointing and a lot of 'you killed me and I'm going to kill you.' And so, much like in this country, the two right and left wings are screwing it up for everybody in the middle, which is most of the population.”

SOP and SCG-BBfP choose to approach the issues of the past head-on, feeling that any attempt to talk about the future without confronting the past is futile. Because their facilitators are often program graduates, they have Jewish Israelis and also Palestinians there for each side of the discussion. After each discussion with the facilitators, there is a debriefing, or down time, to let the kids voice their feelings with facilitators one-on-one.

Gottschalk says these talks are very necessary because the kids don't come to the camps empty-handed.
“They've been coached by their governments about what they're going so say, so for awhile they just have to get that out, because they feel obligated by their governments to say these things. And so all that stuff gets kind of regurgitated, and that's when they start to hurt each other's feelings and you see some crying…then I think they start taking another look at the words they're using and the impact it's having.”

SOP graduate Tomer adds that the two sides have passed down such similar anti-narratives about the other, that with no contact, they don't even realize how similar those narratives are.

“The most common narrative you’ll find on both sides now is we’re defending ourselves and they’re vulgarian, blood thirsty people who just want to kill babies. And it’s remarkable how similar it sounds when it comes from both sides.”

While SOP graduates over 300 students in two camp sessions per summer, SCG-BBfP works in slightly smaller groups, maybe 100 per summer in part because of funding and in part because of their desire to address the concerns and thoughts of each camper fully.

“Our program isn't about the fact we agree,” says Feldman, “and it's not about the fact that they even walk away making peace with each other. It's about the beginning process of learning how to listen to the other.”

Kalman asserts the elation achieved by this communication is lost quickly because the purpose for each teen being there is so different. For Jews their kids go because they want Israel to be safe and secure, and just wish to be left alone. For Palestinians, they hope to go and convince the Jews that the situation they are in is a discriminatory one, and persuade the Jewish teens away from joining the army.

Professor Menachem Klein, a teacher at Bar Ilan University's political science department, was involved in many of the Tract II discussions regarding the two-state solution, and is a board member of B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. He sees the recent trending of Israeli politics as something that supports Kalman's assertion. When I sat down with him, the Gaza conflict was just heating up in December 2009.

“I don't see any NGO or know of any party or organization that has graduates that have a voice here in the public debate. That's not the case. It exists on the memories of the participants but it does not exist in the public sphere.”

For Project Triumph's 2008 class, the topic of the past continues to rear its ugly head within the first week of their activities. Voccola and Fujii are left with no choice but to let the kids have their discussion. It's the first time in Triumph's three years this has happened, and the discussion is pointed but doesn't divide the kids. However, as they go back and forth, it's clear the issue can't be settled in any short term forum, and Voccola's sentiment about arguments of the past leading to nothingness manifests itself.

In the case of these two societies, the narratives are heavily ingrained by the time these kids reach their teens, relates Gerald Steinberg, professor at Bar Ilan University, and founder of NGO Monitor, a group that specifically monitors and exposes any of the political agendas behind NGOs. Though Israel is a more pluralist society, the Jewish narrative isn't any less permeating. The Palestinian para-military group Hamas simply continues a theme that runs deep into the heart of Jewish history, that in every generation someone seeks to destroy the Jewish populace. And for Palestinians, particularly from areas of the West Bank or Jerusalem, the society is completely different.

Unlike Jewish society, “it [Palestinian Society] is very homogenous -- you tow the line, you don't ask questions,” Steinberg points out. “You don't even think about asking questions. There's something strange about people that don't ask questions.”

Monday, December 6, 2010

TRIUMPH OVER HATE? - The uphill battles of conflict resolution camps as it pertains to Israel & Palestine

In May 2008, I stumbled upon a new program in the West Hills of Los Angeles.  A former Israeli paratrooper named Ilan Migdali had engaged in trying to change the face of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict first hand.  Through the Rotary Clubs of Southern California, the Brandeis Bardin Institute ande Beit Hagefen, the Arab-Jewish cultural center in Haifa, he launched Project Triumph, which brought teenagers out to Los Angeles of both Palestinian Christian and Muslim descent, as well as Israeli Jews, from probably the least conflicted city of Haifa.  The approach was almost the exact opposite of the in-your-face, direct dialogue programs like Seeds of Peace.  At the same time, the San Francisco Chronicle released a rather simplistic article by a local journalist proclaiming every single one of these programs a failure.  Six months later, I traveled to Israel to track down the teens and find out if anything had stuck. In an effort to get a true sense of these teens lives, and because of the kindness and generosity of many families, I stayed with them in their home environments for a few days.  I interviewed the teens, and then separately their parents.  I met with some academics, and graduates from other programs, as well as meeting with some key players amongst the biggest programs of these kind.  What follows is the 2000-word article I attempted to get published discussing these programs as a whole: what the experience was for the participants in Los Angeles, what some of the graduates think, and the comments of those that actually create the programs.  Keep in mind, what isn't discussed is the millions of dollars these programs take in from donors and private funds. 

Thank you for you interest.  And here is PART I

Jonathan Phillips


Sixteen year-old Eliana is staring up into a blinding California sun, which is pushing an obtrusive beam of light into her eyes. “Yella! Yella!” (Go On! Go on!), she encourages. Standing next to her, teenagers Jamele and Rawan also are yelling up words of advice. The object of their attention, Iris, is fighting not only her long straight hair, which is being blown into her glasses, but a crippling fear of heights. She is harnessed by a rope while attempting to climb a seventy-five foot tower and is petrified. Twenty feet up she has frozen, looking down as if to say, that's where I'd much rather be. All of this would seem like a normal ropes exercise except that that Eliana, Jamele and Rawan are Palestinians. Iris is a Jew. And in this particular situation, Iris has put her very goal in the hand of these three supporters. It's a fitting metaphor for the situation these teens are surrounded by every day in their home country of Israel. The Jews of Israel are outnumbered and surrounded by Arab countries. They have nowhere to go, and looking down will lead to shattered hopes, past miseries and unsolvable discussions. The only road may be to look up and plow ahead. For Iris, the moment is an eternity. Yet at the behest of her new cohorts, she turns her head skyward as well. An hour later, she has reached the apex. The cheers from below are audible and her smile tangible.

This is Day Nine of a two-week delegation called Project Triumph, which fosters conflict resolution through these kinds of self discoveries. It's the kind of moment that programs like these treasure verifying that limiting beliefs (self-doubts that cause people to put road blocks in their own way before addressing a situation) do exist and can be broken.

“All my life I felt that I'm less than my age group in terms of physical abilities,” Iris tells me later, “It came out the most today in the Tower Challenge. I had a huge limiting belief in my physical ability and I did it… it helped me, and another thing I now know I can be independent.”

Triumph is in just its third year. Its goals are lofty, perhaps too lofty, and its means, meager. For its founder, Ilan Migdali, its ideals are symbolized in the three girls standing below encouraging their new friend to exceed beyond her own limits.

Migdali is no stranger to conflict. In fact, one might say he was an antagonist of it. In 1982, with Lebanon on the verge of a civil war, and Israel's security to the north in question, Prime Minister Menachem Begin decided the only way to protect Israel from their troubled neighbor was to flex their muscle and invade. Migdali was one of the paratroopers who moved in with the initial invasion. However, much like the United States has discovered from its recent Iraqi dilemma, there's a difference between winning the initial battles and occupying a country. World opinion waned quickly on whether Israel was holding the moral high ground.

When the Oslo peace accords broke down, and the Second Intifada began in 2000, Migdali felt he had to do something. With the assistance of the Rotary Clubs of Southern California and Beit Hagefen Arab Jewish Cultural Center in Haifa, he went to work on coordinating a program that would plant seeds of acceptance into teenagers, hoping that as they move into adulthood, those notions of tolerance would challenge their own behavior in moments of high tension, and perhaps even the rest of their lives.

This is not a novel idea by any means. In fact, many conflict resolution programs have cropped up since the first Intifada in 1987, with a good portion of them coming out of the United States. Each of them propose their methodology will work in providing youth with the tools to stave off the dangerous fervor that really lies within of us. The prototype organization is Seeds of Peace (SOP), founded in 1993 by journalist John Wallach. Having viewed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through a reporter's eyes, Wallach figured the adults were lost, and the only way the objective of peace would be achieved would be through children. Through family connections, he obtained permission to use a summer camp in Maine to ignite a world movement which many have sought to emulate; that of beginning conflict resolution through communication skills using elements of Contact and Social Identity theories with kids before they reach adulthood. Since then, over 4,000 students have attended the SOP camp sessions, and the board of advisors boasts such names as Israeli President Shimon Peres, Queen Noor of Jordan and former President Bill Clinton.

In October 2008, an article published by correspondent Matthew Kalman in the San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed that there were little results, if any, from such peace camps. The conclusions were based primarily on, at the time, an unpublished report initiated by PALVision, a youth empowerment organization that attempts to educate young Palestinians in skill sets that will advance the culture from within. The report itself addressed the Palestinian side directly and reported overwhelmingly that the majority of Palestinian youths who attend such camps have little or no change in their belief systems, or that it simply strengthened their resolve against changing the narrative. The article set off a series of strongly worded responses, both from SOP and Seeking Common Ground, an international program out of Denver, Colorado, whose flagship program Building Bridges for Peace (SCG-BBFP) originally for women has also seen thousands of graduates of its own come together from both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Both organizations lambasted Kalman’s findings and went on to debunk what they considered a loosely researched and rather simplistic article for a very complex subject.

Yet, when I sit down with Iris six months later in her modest bedroom in Haifa, Israel, she spoke of that same moment as if it happened in a 3D theater and now she had misplaced her glasses. “I barely remember it,” she says. “It doesn't have so much impact. Back then it looked like a big thing to me, but now when I think of it it's not so significant.”

What had been a life-altering breakthrough for Iris had dissipated in the whirling dervish that is these teens' normal everyday lives in an area of imminent conflict. For these organizations, her response represents the most disturbing of notions that somehow their message didn't stick. What went wrong?

For the sponsors of Triumph, turning on the television to see last year's Gaza conflict was already unnerving enough. But with Triumph’s small scale viral approach (they’ve graduated 60 kids in three years), the idea of these breakthrough moments simply being dismissed within six months is what many would consider a failure. Yet therein lay the bigger problem. How does one define these groups in terms of success or failure, and what does either mean on a playing field as large and varied as the participants themselves? While Iris claims to have a more informed opinion and lays some of the blame on herself for not staying in touch with some of those Palestinian cohorts that urged her to success, she is a microcosm of the major issues that plagues these groups at the outset; political narratives, societal influence, education, parental influence, and the direct or perceived intent of the specific conflict-resolution group. Are the goals of such a program misplaced on teens, whose impressionable lives are already entwined within self-discovery, hormones and fashion fads, much less solving a peace problem that has existed for over 60 years?


Rami Nasser Eddin, the head of PALVision, purposely waltzes into the King David Hotel. He is a tall and rather lanky man, dressed in westernized denim wear, all of which seems to suit him. It is December 2009, and his group has since published their 38 page report debunking such programs, and he is not shy about laying out his argument. He says a lot of the problem is that there are so many Non-Governmental Organizations (he estimates over 5,000 NGOs in Palestine alone) and often they are tied financially to companies with agendas. He also believes that teenage recruits are too young and too undefined as human beings to be adequate agents of change.

“We realize we can affect more on the kids, you know when he [a child] is 18 or 20. The issue is not just about selecting, the problem is the planning of the program. We shouldn't meet with kids at all because frankly speaking they don't know anything.”

Nasser Eddin makes it no secret he is pessimistic about these larger organizations, claiming their follow up is limited and that the children are helping the groups more than vice versa because rarely do the teenagers know what they've signed up for.

I spoke to graduates from SOP, SCG-BBFP and of course the recent Project Triumph graduates of 2009. Nearly all of them concurred that they didn't completely understand what they were getting into.

Lama, now age 27, who is a Muslim Palestinian Israeli graduate of SOP put it this way, “They tried to explain it but I think at fifteen years old all I heard was America, America. I knew that there would be Israelis, but I didn’t think that they would be right next to me or they would be sharing the bunk or whatever.”

SOP Haifa coordinator Bashar is also a Palestinian Israeli graduate, and he puts it more bluntly, “…most of it came out cause I wanted to get the hell out of my house and just go have fun.”

Tomer, a Jewish Israeli graduate echoes these thoughts except he thinks most participants think they got the better of the deal. “I think most of them [the participants] feel that they tricked the system into going.”

Nasser Eddin also points out that the programs recruiters don't investigate the language barrier thoroughly enough. While Israelis have it in their educational system to be taught English, Palestinians do not. Nasser Eddin worries that this creates an uneven playing field between Israelis and Palestinians once in the United States, and that some Palestinians aren't educated enough to even know how to express their own point of view, especially in English. It also means that these programs are generally unable to tap into the deepest radical areas.

Bobbie Gottschalk is the co-founder of SOP and former Executive Director. She's a rich mixture of Jewish and Quaker backgrounds, has a Masters of Social Work from the University of Chicago and believes that the foundation has to be laid when participants are teens.

“During that time of life they're [teenagers] wanting to have their own experiences and wanting to test what they've been taught. They're starting to trust their own opinions, even against people who are supposedly very knowledgeable….their minds are not completely closed yet.”

Ironically, Nasser Eddin is a graduate from the same type of programs he criticizes. In 2001, at age 24, he attended a forum called Peace Boat, a Japanese-based NGO whose website states their cause is to “promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment.” It was his first time abroad and also his first time meeting an Israeli. He admits that at this point of his life he was ultra sensitive, having participated in the Second Intifada and served prison time. He credits an Israeli woman named Keren Asaaf for changing his life. They began working on bringing Palestinians and Israelis together and were recognized internationally with the Mount Zion award, a German Prize given for cross-cultural programs enhancing tolerance in the Holy Land.

These days Nasser Eddin works independently because of his belief that Palestinians need better education about the issues, and has set up many programs within Pal Vision to educate and facilitate Palestinian youth to claim their identity and educate themselves in dealing with societal issues living in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


You say you haven't heard the news? You say you didn't see Monday Night's version of "Shock and Awe"? You didn't realize we had just regressed back to the days when the quarterback was your every man: your commander, your speedster, your play-caller, your passer, and your primary scorer? You didn't see that at the same time the NFL ushered in the possibility of the quarterback position moving into a new realm? You didn't watch the Philadelphia Eagles, and more to the point, Michael Vick, put all NFL defenses on notice? You didn't watch a Redskins Defense, under Jim Haslett, and the illustrious head coach of Mike Shanahan, run slipshod, arms extended all over the field as if unsure they had seen the ball -- as if they approached a would-be ball carrier only to have him vanish in thin air?

What, you say? You say you weren't watching Michael Vick single-handedly give the entire Redskins coaching staff a reason to fear for their very jobs. You didn't ponder the irony in Dan Snyder's next biggest blunder, that of handing Donovan McNabb a five-year, $78 million deal, $40 million of which is guaranteed to the 33-year old quarterback who appeared incompetent and under-talented in comparison to his protégé across the field?

You somehow didn't hear that Vick, who went into the game with 95 fantasy points in six games left yesterday's game ranked in most leagues within the Top 15 of all fantasy quarterbacks with over 145 points, yet he has three less games played?

Somehow in your busy world you didn't witness a player performing at such a peak level that when Jerome Harrison added 109 yards and a score on just 11 carries, it was an afterthought?

What, you say? Not that Michael Vick -- the same one that was accused of the heinous crime of dog-fighting, spent time in jail, went bankrupt and was released cold turkey by the Falcons? Not the guy none of us ever wanted to see out of prison much less on a football field? Not the guy that now might be labeled the best case scenario of a prison term and rehabilitation -- a man who somehow accepted his wrongs, paid his debt, worked super hard, and somehow transcended the hatred of not only the NFL bourgeoisie but the entire populace of bar-going ruffians who believe Sunday's ritual mass includes shot-gunning beer while wearing cheese on your head?

What, you say? Really? You didn't see Michael Vick do that?

I didn't either. At least, I can't believe I did.

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Whether the front offices of the NFL will change their draft strategy of the future may well be predicated on this particular season, a season that has brought an unseemly amount of game-changing injuries.  It's not simply a matter of the concussion issue that's being addressed rather abruptly by the NFL, but it's the number of injuries requiring extending stays on the NFL injury report, particularly to the quarterbacks.  All this is happening while the NFL CBA is being worked on and the League is proposing an 18-game season.

As of Monday night, here was the list of NFL quarterbacks that had already missed time this season, were still on the sideline recovering from injury or were hurt this past weekend.

David Garrard
Trent Edwards
Matt Stafford
Brett Favre
Alex Smith
Aaron Rodgers
Bruce Gradkowski
Vince Young
Jay Cutler
Michael Vick
Kevin Kolb
Dennis Dixon
Tony Romo
Jake Delhomme
Seneca Wallace
Shaun Hill

It's a dizzying list, especially when you consider that most teams have played only six games. 

This past weekend Tony Romo and Alex Smith joined the ranks of quarterbacks with shoulder issues resulting directly from a single player taking them down.  Romo suffered a broken left collarbone in the second quarter of Monday night's game, and Alex Smith joined ranks of the San Francisco wounded when he was sacked by defensive end Charles Johnson in the thrid quarter of his game Sunday.

The situation in Jacksonville reached such a crisis level that 38-year-old Todd Bouman, who hadn't started a NFL game since 2006, found himself under center for the Jaguars.  All things considered, his performance wasn't so terrible, but I think it's safe to assume Jack Del Rio wouldn't wish the position he found himself in entering Sunday's game on anyone.

This week in London, former OSU standout Troy Smith will don the San Francisco gold and red as the starter for the 49ers against Denver.

Nevertheless, the era of drafting two viable starting quarterbacks is upon us.  The difference in any team's season will often now rely on how deep they are at the quarterback position.  Exhibit A is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who can thank their lucky stars that they had a talented defense and running back to take the presure away from the rather pedestrian play of Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch.  Ask the Detroit Lions, who, had their defense improved just a bit more, might be able to turn to now-injured Shaun Hill and thank him for keeping a season afloat.  Nevertheless, Detroit did and still does remain competitive. 

Are there any Dallas fans left with an ounce of hope now that their comeback chances sit squarely on the shoulders of Jon Kitna?  With Kitna, Dallas has at least a capable quarterback who has proven he can play at the NFL level.  However, we know that he overestimates his strong arm too often and is liable for at least one horrible game-changing decision per contest.

The Baltimore Ravens fans can relax, because behind Joe Flacco is Marc Bulger, a proven starter in the NFL.  Most teams should be enviable of the Philadelphia Eagles, who could have found their season in a dumpster but instead have found themselves a contender because of the Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb.

Most teams aren't so lucky.

What this means for college quarterbacks of the future is more opportunities.  No longer is the number one quarterback emerging from college going to be the only asset.  Or the number two, three, four or five -- quarterbacks that are mobile, can stay healthy, has good downfield vision, and owns even a decent arm will be coveted even more.

From the fantasy perspective, your drafting is going to have to take into account that odds say your quarterback won't make it through the season unscathed.  The drafting of a second quality quarterback may well save your fantasy season as well.

The days of one quarterback leading your team through an entire season are dwindling.  It is time for everyone to take notice.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

THE DR. LAURA AFFAIR - Is she racist?

The title of this blog might be misleading.  I'm not a proponent of Dr. Laura.  I hate her show for the most part.  It's such a holier than thou platform.  However, in light of her show, which has now been made famous for what people are calling Racial Rants, I will re-post some comments I made after Don Imus was forced temporarily off the hair for using the term "Knappy-headed Hos."

First off, I agree that Dr. Laura DID NOT call anyone the N-word.  She didn't call Jade, her caller that name.  Nor was she the first to bring it up.  Jade brought up the N-word and asked Dr. Laura what she thought of it.  And Dr. Laura pointed out it's confusing to tell someone now they can't use the N-word simply because they're not black.  I have no idea if she's racist.  However, I do hear what she's saying and have many feelings that echo those sentiments, which I simply label as frustrating.

For your reference, here is the actual segment from her show.

Here are some of the points I made in the blog about Imus:

There's a reason the Asian, Latino and Jewish communities don't walk around calling each other chinks, spics and kikes. The reason, we don't want to propagate the worst of our language into the common terminology of society. I can only speak for myself as a Jew and say we don't do it in our community because once you do it, the word loses its degrading meaning and sooner or later, someone else is going to use it too in a way you don't like. It's common sense.

Many record executives and producers, many of whom are black, have profited nicely off of music and artists who flaunt and celebrate the worst in society. They use the word nigger and ho to describe each other in the most vehement ways possible. These records and videos and artists are distributed not just to blacks, but to all communities. Thus, sadly, these terms are now common to all. And the terms are not only degrading to blacks and women, but to all of us. Don't give me any of this shit that there's a difference between the word 'nigga' and 'nigger'. They're both awful. And it's mostly, and I say mostly, the black community's fault for tolerating such language from its youth. I'll tell you one thing -- my future son or daughter ever comes home and says nigger, or spick, or hos, as a way to tell me what's going on in their lives, I'm giving them a talking to.

I used to have a joke in my standup about how I never understood any amongst the black community referring to a fellow member as a nigger. Could you imagine a Jew walking down the street and yelling to his friend in the distance, "Hey, Penny-Pinching Heeb, how's it going?".......

....Imus is an entertainer, who has made his name pulling stunts like this. Much like Howard Stern and other shock jocks, he chose to make a shocking statement against the Rutgers women's basketball program. But the words he chose are words that other black entertainers have made a part of the daily lexicon. And the double standard is that it's okay if a black man calls another black man a nigger because they understand it. No one else can. Well sorry folks, that double standard won't fly anymore. Whites, Asians, Latinos -- we all can listen to Power 106, or buy Flavor Flav, Wutang Clan or Eminem's music. Yes, there is power to the ferocity of their lyrics, and they're artists making a statement. And they should be free to do so. But they have to understand that that statement is the reason words like nigger have made their way into the mainstream of young Americans' vocabulary. And unfortunately for racial relations, it's here to stay.

It is my belief and I stand by it, that the culture that has developed in Black neighborhoods (or ghettos or the 'hood, as they're often called) espousing the usage of negative and forbidden terminology as a means of affection is, pardon the direct phrasing here, FUCKED UP!  And they need to start admitting as much.  There is never a good way to use such a negative word as the N-word.  Never.  I don't care if you tell me I don't understand.  I know what it means.  And I know it's not a word that Blacks want in the mainstream conversation.

How are you going to explain to a 10-year old white child, consuming the music of Dr. Dre., Eminem, Tu Pac, Old Dirty Bastard that he isn't part of that audience?  Because the truth is, now he is.  He doesn't understand the historical significance of the race riots back in the 50's and 60's.  He doesn't get the usage of the N-word during slavery all the way up until Blacks got their freedom.  All he hears is rappers using it as cool lingo.  What do you tell this white child? 

So is Dr. Laura racist?  I don't know.  I just know I have the same frustrations about those who run down the street calling after their friend by calling him a N***ER, or having a friend of mine who just happens to be black include me in his group of N***ERS, but then turn right around and freak out when the word is used by a white guy.  The solution is simple - remove the word from the mainstream again, and I guarantee we won't have this issue.

Feel free to voice your comments. Is the N-word okay for use in American society, or in any society? Has the word changed from a nasty derogatory slandering of the black culture to a word that should be used as a fun, hip, modern way to say you're my brotha, homey, or friend?

Monday, August 16, 2010

A PERFECT FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT - Having all players healthy!

The most basic definition of a perfect fantasy football season is winning your league.  The most basic definition of a perfect fantasy football draft is having players that can still walk come opening day.

The NFL has been considering for some time shortening the pre-season to two games from four or five, and lengthening the season.  Considering the onslaught of injuries after the first full week of pre-season, they may have a point.  After a full week of games, here are the players of consequence already out for extended time or done for the year.

WR Larry Fitzgerald - Sprained MCL - Week-to-week.

Week-to-week?  Never heard such a thing.  Ever sprain a knee ligament?  Excruciating.  Don't believe much less than 4-6.  And reinjuring it by bringing him back too soon could hurt his season exponentially.

WR Michael Jenkins - Shoulder - Out until at least Week 1

Do we hear the call for Brian Finneran or Harry Douglas?

DB Dominque Foxworth - Knee - IR Out for the season
S Ed Reed - Hip - Doubtful to start the season
DB Lardarius Webb - Knee
LB Sergio Kindle - Skull Fracture - May miss the season

Defense is already a mess in the secondary.  Should give the offense that much more of a chance to be in the kind of shootouts you pray for in fantasy.  If Kindle's injury was due just to bad luck and not a night of debauchery, is anyone else worried about a top draft pick that can't walk down the stairs?

RB Fred Jackson - Broken Hand - Will miss all of pre-season
RB Marshawn Lynch - Ankle Sprain - Will miss all of pre-season

Both the top two rushers for Buffalo went down on the first preseason series in the first preseason game.  Hello Mr. C.J. Spiller.  Welcome to the RB1 Slot.

WR Earl Bennett - Hammy - may miss a good part of the preseason.

Devin Aromashadu is looking better every day.  In a Mike Martz offense you're no longer reaching to grab him as a viable WR2 with breakout potential.  Now you just have to measure how your league opponents view him.

WR Antonio Bryant - Knee - Out indefinitely. 
RB Brian Leonard - Foot - Out indefinitely
Of course, if I had watched Cincy signed T.O. I might have my knee swell up too.  Cincy has kept Leonard around because he's got a strong work ethic and finishes plays.  His loss means more time for Benson and Scott.

RB Montario Hardesty - Knee - Might miss the preseason
WR Mohamed Massaquoi - Hammy - Day to day.
QB Colt McCoy - Sprained thumb - Day to day
LB D'Qwell Jackson - Pectoral - timetable is 3-8 weeks.

Hardesty's knee is not getting better.  Means to keep an eye James Davis.  Harrison's had problems with health and the powers that be. 

WR Dez Bryant - High Ankle Sprain - 4-6 weeks
TE Martellus Bennett - Ankle - Out until Week Three of the preseason

Bryant will have an impact this year, but losing time in camp will slow his progress.  I wouldn't draft him but might try to acquire him for the last eight games of the season depending on the relative health and usefulness of the other Dallas receivers.

RB Correll Buckhalter -- Back - Out indefinitely
RB Knowshon Moreno - Hammy - Likely out the preseason
WR Demaryius Thomas - Foot - Word is to temper expectations.
LB Elvis Dumervil - Torn Pectoral - Out until at least December

The Denver running game again is in shambles.  Considering the foot injury is a repeater for Thomas, you need to do more than temper expectations -- sit on them.  On the plus side, Tebow has the speed to be an RB and threw the ball very well.  Just saying.

CB Al Harris - Knee - Doubtful for season opener.
LB Clay Matthews - Knee - two weeks

This defense was getting good.  Losing Harris isn't something they wanted but wasn't totally unexpected considering he's 35.  Matthews they need.

RB Ben Tate - Fracture Ankle - IR - out for the year.

Think Arian Foster is of value, just look where Steve Slaton is being drafted.

TE Dallas Clark - Leg
C Jeff Saturday - Knee - Surgery

One thing that is nearly certain - regardless of Clark's injury he's not likely to equal last season's monster output.  However, as long as he'll make opening day he's going to be in the Top Five.  Saturday's injuries keep mounting, and as the leader of this line, this is not someone the Colts can afford to lose for significant time during the season.

WR Mike Sims-Walker - Shoulder - could miss the entire preseason
WR Nate Hughes - Shoulder/Torn Labrum - IR Out for the year.

Oh well, it wasn't like the Jacksonville receiving corps was highlighting your draft.  Keep an eye out for someone to emerge.

QB Brett Favre - Ankle - Who knows?
WR Sidney Rice - Hip - Likely to miss the preseason
WR Percy Harvin - Migraines - Returned to practice today
OT Steve Hutchinson - Probable to return Week 1

Nothing new with Favre.  This relationship is the most blatant case of unsportsmanlike abuse between franchise and player ever witnessed.  They're using each other to win and forget everyone else.  Rice's hip injury has lingered a little too long that it has made me dubious of him making it through the year.  Harvin returned today...let's hope it was really about losing his grandmother.  Hutchinson is still among the best linemen in the league.  Favre needs his blind side protected, even with that quick release.

DE Ty Warren - Hip - IR Out for the year
WR Torry Holt - Knee - IR Out for the year
OT Nick Kaczur - Back - Might miss the entire season

The Patriots don't look at the loss of veteran tackle Kaczur lightly, and neither should you.  He was suppose to play LG this year, due to Logan Mankins holdout.  This could force the Patriots hand to get Mankins signed.  Torry Holt down, Julian Edelman's stock up!

RB Lynell Hamilton - Knee - IR Out for the year
DB Darren Sharper - Knee - Will miss preseason
LB Clint Ingram - Knee - Will miss preseason

The discussion about Pierre Thomas persists.  Where do you draft him?  I wouldn't be surprised to see New Orleans add someone like Brian Westbrook.  And I do think Reggie Bush will get some goal line carries and see more rushing duties.

WR Steve Smith - Groin - Will miss a few weeks
TE Kevin Boss - Hammy - Will miss a few weeks
WR/RS Domenik Hixon - Knee - IR Out for the season

Never like hearing groin and 'tweak' in the same sentence because a tweak always tries to make a bad pull or minor tear sound OK.  And the Giants lose their return specialist, fourth wideout in Hixon.

QB Charlie Fry - Hand - No timetable
RB Darren McFadden - Hamstring, Day to day
WR Chaz Schilens - Foot - Limited in camp

"I guess they just want to find out some more about what's going on in there because I can't throw a football," Frye said. 

No offense Charlie, but we weren't sure you could throw a football when your hand worked.  McFadden will find himself soon losing out to Michael Bush if he doesn't get it into gear, and Schilens seems to be another Deion Branch, perennially hurt.

RB Mike Bell - Calf - Questionable

Surprise, surprise, Bell is injured.  If McCoy can avoid becoming Brian Westbrook Part Deux in the injury department, he should provide huge numbers.

WR Limas Sweed - Achilles - IR Out for the season
OG Willie Colon - Achillies - IR Out for the season

Sweed's hands were really the problem, which is amazing considering he snagged everything at Texas.  The Steelers losing an offensive lineman continues to prolong the agony that has been their front five.  Maurkice Pouncey will hopefully develop quickly.

WR Michael Crabtree - Neck - listed day-to-day but likely out until Week 3 of preseason.
OG Eric Heitmann - Fracture Left Leg.  Out 6-8 weeks.  Might return Week 2.

They lose Glen Coffee to the Lord and now an interior lineman, and Michael Crabtree is struggling.  Singletary certainly has his work cut out for him.  While writing this, Brian Westbrook lands with the 49ers. Oh well, Anthony Dixon, life was good for a few days eh?

WR Stafan Johnson - Ankle - IR Out for the season
DB Cortland Finnegan - Groin - Out for a few preseason games

Stafan Johnson can't get a break....well he did get a break, in his ankle.  Unfortunately, he'll miss the season.  Tennessee needs Finnegan as he can be a shutdown corner when he's healthy.

WR Malcolm Kelly - Hammy - Day to day
OT Mike Williams - Blood Clots - Out for the season

Keep an eye on Devin Thomas.  McNabb's still has the ability to hurl the rock and someone has to step up opposite the streaky Santana Moss.

The injury onslaught has been ridiculous, particularly at the RB position.  Seeing as how these guys are training all year round now, I'm beginning to pose the question, how much training is too much?  Sure, the game has gotten bigger and faster, but the guys skipping training camp, Brett Favre, seem to do much better.  More to come on this in the future. 

In the meantime, follow the advice Scott Engel and I preached -- wait as long as you can for your draft.  The team you save may be your own.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Yesterday I found myself in a very interesting discussion with a friend about whether or not LeBron James qualified as being humble.  My friend's contention is that James is simply doing what's best for James, and it doesn't even involve money so much as it does winning.  So who can blame him?  Also, his hour-long special on ESPN to announce the fact saw all the proceeds going to charity.  Isn't that the sign of humility?

Let's just say I had some choice words for my friend's opinion.  By no means can LeBron James and the word humble be mentioned in the same sentence.  An hour-long special spent announcing your intentions (which adds up to nothing but more speculation of the 2011 season), even if it were to cure world hunger, does not qualify for having humility. 

It's clear humility may be something of days past. However, it dawned on me that it could be perhaps  because no one understands what it is anymore, or more importantly, its value.

(image courtesy of Getty Images)

My friend argued that this was a brilliant marketing tactic, that any of us would do the same thing to expand our brand even further.  That's all well and good, and is very true for most people, particularly when the appropriate dollar signs are used to entice.  But again, this points to the fact that perhaps my friend misunderstands humility.

We live in an age where we are bombarded with the din of true and faux celebrities alike, all trying to garner our attention so that we recognize their supposed importance in the world.  These appearances are all trained on the audience's eye so that we, the reality tv-star, the runway model, the bad-boy chop shop owner, the ice trucker, and even me the blogger, all can grab our piece of the pie, which we suppose will somehow gain us fame, even more fortune, and perhaps yes, respect.  But really in the end this amounts to one key component of life few of us want to acknowledge:

We don't want to be forgotten.

Being the guy picked last in kickball, or the gal not invited to the Birthday party, or the graduate not being included on the reunion invitation list -- are there any feelings worse than being skipped or worse, completely overlooked?

In today's world, to not be forgotten means you need to scream at the top of your lungs from the highest mountain so that you can be heard above all the fray.  You have to hustle and yell and push and jostle just to amount to a blip on the world's radar.

Sadly, it is not the loudest who are oft remembered.  It is the quiet.

Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Larry Bird, James Worthy, Kevin McHale, Dick Butkus, Larry Csonka, Roger Staubach, Lou Brock, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays......

These names are revered and opined on repeatedly not because they spoke the loudest; not because they needed a reality tv show, and not because they picked up sponsorships.  They're remembered for their achievements, and more importantly, how they handled those achievements.

Case in point:  will Barry Bonds be remembered now as the Home Run King or will he be remembered as a steroid user who got caught?  How many of us are ready to appoint him the greatest hitter of all time?  I would conjecture that few of us will now, if ever.

LeBron James' one-hour special, whether for fundraising purposes or not, may have been well-intentioned.  But more likely the 'charity' thing was used as a tactic so that we wouldn't think less of him.  Don't be fooled by the fact that it doesn't take away from the fact it was a ONE-HOUR special!

My friend said to blame ESPN or the media for pushing for this -- that without them pushing there'd be no special.  Well sure you can do that, but plain and simple, if LeBron says no, there's no special.  Does anyone think in a million years Sandy Koufax would have done something like this?  Or Jackie Robinson?

If LeBron wanted to be humble and charitable at the same time, why not simply donate a chunk of your huge salary to charity annonymously and simply make your announcement as you have to: with the team at a small press conference, rather than to a world audience for an hour?  Because it wouldn't have been about LeBron then, that's why.

Because LeBron, much like Kobe, Iverson, Shaq, and a majority of professional atheletes aren't humble.  Humility doesn't compute with these guys, where they come from and in the world they're in now.  And even though LeBron will be as the others, screaming at the top of his lungs so he can be king for the day, if he fails to win championships his star will diminish in time and even be forgotten should his successor appear in the near future. 

Humility is a true test of a person's character as I understand it.  It is the complete acceptance of who you are and the ability to know what you do speaks in a volume far beyond what your vocal chords can acheive.  At the same time it allows respect and dignity to be kept by your fellow men and women who need not feel jealous or inferior because of your extra abilities and blessings.  This is why we rarely make statues to people who are still alive.  Humility precludes it.

Whether LeBron James is a good person or has good character, only time will tell.  But he certainly lacks plenty in the realm of humility.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's In A Loss?

I didn't know Steven Lazarov particularly well, so it's odd to say I was a blood relative of his.  He was my mom's first cousin, the son of my grandfather's brother.  Our age differences precluded a more personal relationship at a young age, even though our visits to Memphis, Tennessee always included visits to Great Aunt Rozelle's and Great Uncle Sidney's for a day of swimming, good food and fun.  Steven was rarely there for those gatherings as he was 16 years my senior, so I got to know his younger sister Cheryl a little bit and hardly knew Jan and Ronald until recently.  I'm embarrassed to say that my initial note of condolence did not include Jan -- that's how distant we've become. 

So how did I know Steven Lazarov?  I knew that when our family needed him most, after the deaths of my grandmother and grandfather, he was there.  This is when I got to know him.  He didn't always seem to know what to say to make us feel better, but his presence was enough.  He felt for us and for our entire family's loss.  And he came multiple days to sit shiva with us and made it clear that family for him was of the utmost importance.

I know that in the last 10 years or so Steven's health was a constant battle, such that he had and survived a heart transplant.  It was no easy task, yet he fought through the recovery and got back on his feet again.  During that time, he took an even greater interest in his family, and began circulating an email meant to bring together our expansive family of distant uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews into a group again.  The Lazarov family was quite a prominent and large family in Memphis, and since the loss of the the original nine brothers and sisters, the kids have, well, let's just say time, many disparate interests, and an international economy does a number in spreading family all over the globe.  Steven worked diligently to put this email out monthly, letting us know of family simchas and goings on, and sadly, informing us with the not so easy news that someone was in the hospital, ill or had passed on.

At the same time, as I understand it, he had recovered his own life, and took to traveling as much as he could.  He had a lovely girlfriend, Jo Ann, who I had a chance to meet only once on their visit to Ojai.  He wasn't loud or showy, but a soft-spoken kind man who seemed to place family as a very high priority in a way few of us do these days.

His loss to our family will be felt by all, if for no other reason than he was our connector.  He was the link in an extensive chain that kept the Lazarov family together (and there are many branches of families from the Lazarovs - the Notowich's, Abraham's, and so many more.  He brought us all a little closer to relatives, some of which we didn't even know we had, and some whom we have still never seen in person.  Yet, we're connected because of his desire to make it so.

It is ironic in some ways that a person you knew sporadically, rarely had day-to-day thoughts of, can immediately impact your life the moment they are not there.  Steven may not have been present in my daily happenings, but now the question of who will take charge of keeping our family together becomes a big one indeed.  The truth is all people are connected, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.  We all affect each other, and Steven's loss will affect me and many others besides his immediate family.  I will miss him. 

To Jan, Cheryl, Ronald and of course Great Aunt Rozelle, my condolences.  I wish I could be there as Steve was for us, to stand with you during this difficult time.  My apologies that I can't be there physically, but know that I am thinking of you right now and with you in spirit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Donovan saves Dempsey from being goat extraordinaire

Shot after shot.  Opportunity after opportunity.  Clint Dempsey must have felt like he had a lead boot on his striking foot.  After his goal was disallowed in the 21st minute due to a controversial offsides call, which in itself would have Dempsey draw the ire of fans if he had actually been offsides (it was close) -- Dempsey had golden opportunities in the 42nd minute, in the 57th minute twice, and in the 90+1 minute.  All of his shots either missed goals by mere centimeters and were saved, and his opportunity in stoppage time, deflected by Algerian goalie Rais M'Bolhi, ended up on the right boot of Landon Donovan for the factoring tally.

Dempsey found space many times, and for some reason the U.S.'s only other player to score goals in two separate World Cup appearances could not deliver.  His touch shot that struck the right post in minute 57 followed by his firing his own rebound wide and high of an open net had announcer Ian Darke proclaim the moment as sheer agony.  And for Dempsey it had to have been, for the 27 year-old mid-fielder knows that in the upcoming elimination rounds, bones like that have to be buried if the U.S. is going to move deeper.

Perhaps the match's unsung hero was replacement Benny Feilhaber, who entered the game at halftime, replacing Hercules Gomez, and immediately made his impact felt.  Besides distributing the ball well, Feilhaber created his own opportunity down the right wing with move in on goal, only to have his shot deflect of M'Bolhi's left leg as the Algerian goalkeeper dove to stop what he anticipated was a cross. 

Rest assured, Landon Donovan is not only the hero of this country today, but of Clint Dempsey as well.  For as many great games as Dempsey has had for the U.S., had this one ended up as it seemed destined to, in a draw, this was probably one he'd want to forget.

Friday, June 18, 2010


In a sport that for many Americans is simply superfluous, the United States took hold of the door and opened it to a new destiny for the first time, only to find out that destiny has a doorman and his name is Koman Coulibaly.

With less that four minutes remaining, a free kick garnered by Josi Altidore's sprint forward was translated by Landon Donovon into a brilliant scoring chance that Maurice Edu didn't miss.  His one-timer zipped past Samir Handanovic for the second time in less than ten minutes, shocking the world.  Set plays, the difference maker in many World Cup challenges, has always been one, among many of past U.S. teams' weaknesses.  But Donovan proved that he can provide dazzling re-starts, the kind of which European and South American players claim their deserved reputations.  And today's match against Slovenia calmed all criticism in that regard, with Donovan placing opportunity after opportunity in front of his U.S. cohorts.

Coulibaly's call, now being labeled as an offsides whistle, could hold water if it weren't for the fact that the offending player, Michael Bradley was being marked by his defender with what can only be called the 'bear-hug' technique.  It's a lesser known tactic, one of which usually draws the referee's ire and results in a penalty kick when it takes place in the penalty box.  Thus, if anything, the worst the U.S. should have received was that.  The fact that the ball went over Bradley and laid onto the awaiting foot of Edu, who promptly planted it into the net is simply adding insult to injury.

The U.S.'s door to destiny still isn't closed yet though.  With two points, and the chance to defeat Algeria Wednesday, the U.S. could still advance with five points in their Group.  Let's hope those same Algerians put England to the test today.


It was ironic, perhaps in a way it had to be in order for anyone to believe it. The Hollywood kids, raised in sun, the pomp, and the flash of show business' back yard, accused of being all style, but not much else, out-muscled and simply overtook the Beantown, street-toughened, injury-ridden Boston Celtics team and prevailed. Boasting a player known as the greatest closer in NBA history, Kobe Bryant played hero basketball most of Game 7, and came up short.

Instead the other Lakers rescued him and themselves, to get their 16th title, finally defeating the Boston Celtics in a Game 7. It was Lamar Odom, playing an inspired third quarter, driving to the hoop for a contested layup, ripping down offensive boards. Then in the fourth quarter, it was the old standby, Derek Fisher, knocking down a heart-crushing 3-pointer. It was Ron Artest again, hitting a crucial three-point shot from 26 feet away when Kobe Bryant couldn't find daylight.

But of all people, it was the oft-maligned Pau Gasol, the soft one, drawing fouls and sinking a semi-blocked shot that mightier men would have lost into the crowd when it mattered most. Gasol's move on Rashid Wallace to the hoop was inspired, garnering him an advantage in position as he had done all night with his seven foot frame. But help arrived in the form of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who swiped and connected with the ball as Pau leapt to the rim. But the "soft" Gasol, forced his arms forward as he descended, and perhaps a microsecond before his feet touched the ground, he willed the ball in. The Lakers were suddenly up by six with just 90 seconds remaining on the clock.

Bryant shot and shot, but could not shoot the Lakers into contention. His 6-of-24 night and 0-of-6 three point shooting would have made him a goat if not for the fact that he's a shooting wunderkind; the kind of player who can singlehandedly keep his team afloat, as he proved in Game 5.

There was no doubt the Lakers could win a game where they controlled the tempo. The question posed by everyone was could the Lakers win a game where the physical stylings of the Celtics was at play. And it was a stifling Lakers' defense, one that had been notably absent in several games, that made every Celtic shot a contested one, while the Celtics found themselves struggling to keep the Lakers off the free throw line.

In the end, it may have been the loss of Kendrick Perkins that altered destiny for the Lakers. One of the true big men at 6-10, 280, the large-bodied Perkins' absence cannot be overlooked, as his six rebounds per game average may have figured in a game where the Celtics were outrebounded 53-40. In the last Celtics win, Perkins added seven total rebounds, four on the offensive side of the floor.

Kobe Bryant may have been named the MVP of the series, but he wasn't the MVP when it mattered most. It was the supposedly soft Lakers team, one that finally put to rest any doubts about whether they could close out their franchise-long nemesis, the Boston Celtics.

Monday, April 19, 2010


There are two sides to every story.  Having supported Israel my whole life as a country, I have not always supported what the government has done.  I have dear friends who are Palestinians, who were born into this nightmare, and are not the types of people portrayed by our irresponsible media.  Nor do I believe Israel is the hate-mongering country that the media portrays here as well.

What I posted below was written in 1968 by Eric Hoffer of the LA Times, a non-Jew.  Keep in mind, it doesn't speak to what the answer is, but simply points out the world hypocrisy when it comes to the way Jews are viewed and dealt with.  Sadly, it is true. 


Los Angeles Times May 26,1968.

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it.

Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman.

Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees.

But in the case of Israel , the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.

Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single one.

Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis.

Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms.

But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace.

Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.

Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed.

Had Nasser triumphed last June [1967], he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on.

There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Blacks are executed in Rhodesia .

But, when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one demonstrated against him.

The Swedes, who were ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we did in Vietnam , did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews.

They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troops in Norway .

The Jews are alone in the world.

If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources.

Yet at this moment, Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally.

We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us.

And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer [1967] had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war, to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us all. 
I want to clarify that this does not make Israel right in all its policies or in the way it handles things.  However, the world does have a funny way of reproaching Isarel, particularly when you consider the situation with the Palestinians and Israelis is one the U.N. created. 

Friday, April 16, 2010


Just a few years ago, Ben Roethlisberger couldn't have been more on top of the world.  After leading an improbable two minute drill to win the Super Bowl, memorialized forever by Santonio Holmes' toe touching catch, Roethlisberger had solidified his name in the annals of NFL History at age 27.  At an age where most of us are still trying to figure out what we are going to make of ourselves, Roethlisberger was already close to being on a Hall of Fame ballot.  The hum and rattle from his near-death experience at the helm of his own motorcycle had faded into all but a distant memory. 

From a personal perspective, I admired Ben.  He had taken on the kind of pressure few 20-somethings can handle, and not only addressed it with poise and grace, but had then delivered on the biggest stage, in the biggest of games.  His jersey had it's own hanger in its own area of my closet.  It was only worn on days that it was necesary i.e. days where the Steelers needed a big win, or I simply needed a pick-me-up.  I still have Super Bowl XLIII on my Tivo for crying out loud.

Cut to just over a year later, when the first of what appears to be a number of reprehensible indiscretions have taken place.  The first took place in Las Vegas after Andrea McNulty filed a complaint that Ben had sexually assaulted her.  Naturally, with hero status in place, and sadly Ben's skin color playing a prominent role, he was given benefit of the doubt. 

Until recently....

Just over a month ago, Roethlisberger allegedly assaulted a 20 year old woman, who somehow managed to get into a bar and into his VIP room where he apparently sprung for rounds of shots.  Never mind the bar's responsbility for this underage drinker being there, but regardless of Ben's knowledge of her age, it is clear that alcohol and Ben Roethlisberger should take a hiatus from one another.

Despite the fact that the police officer who took the original report has resigned, due in part to comments that essentially accused Nicole Biancofiore of fabricating the entire event, this is the second time in less than a year that Big Ben has been accused of doing things that may involve "Little Ben" in a lascivious way.  It doesn't take a third accusation (though purportedly there was a Boston officer investigating Roethlisberger for a third event in Beantown) to know that Ben needs to look in the mirror at his reconstructed face and see through the cleanup job.

Today, the Bleacher Report ran an op-ed article about a possible Ben Roethlisberger trade, based mostly on the reports that the Rooney family is livid with Roethlisberger's behavior.  Having jettisoned Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes after multiple run-ins with the law, it seems only prudent that such a question be asked after Roethlisberger continues to have new meet and greets with local police agencies these days. 

Whether Ben is the victim of the kind of lecherous women who went after Tiger Woods with full knowledge he was a married man, or he's guilty of actually assaulting these women, in the end Roethlisberger has no one else to blame but himself.  And in many organizations, he'd get just another slap on the wrist and told to chill out.  But for the Steelers, who still like to think of themselves as a football franchise still on the moral upswing, it is true he could get much more.  No doubt a suspension is looming, yet it's become clear to everyone that a suspension isn't going to change the habits of any millionaire athlete who has the world of women willing to cavort with him.  This past week it also came to light that Terry Bradshaw doesn't like Ben, something that would appear to border on surreal.  After all, the on-air Bradshaw is the epitome of fun and friendliness.  However, that's not the Bradshaw who appeared in front of reports to reveal that Ben and he don't get along.  Bradshaw, a once philandering quarterback himself, tried to warn Roethlisberger of the pitfalls of such exploits, and naturally, was all but ignored.  And now, it's not just Ben paying for it.

For my money, Ben can give the city of Pittsburgh a big "Dating Game" kiss goodbye.  The relationship is over.  The Steelers may struggle for awhile to replace him, but a man intent on toppling his own crown is not one I want leading my Steeler nation.  We elected him to that vaunted position, and he decided that our faith and support wasn't enough.  He needed to expand his kingdom by conquering other subjects -- weaker subjects -- whose good judgment may have temporarily glazed over in an alcohol induced stupor, but upon sobriety returned with ire.

I don't want to see anymore televised apologies.  There's enough footage of these sideshows now to give us a reality show called I'm Sorry.

The good thing is I no longer need to hold my breath every time #7 takes a hard hit on the field.  I no longer want signed action photos of Roethlisberger making great plays.  I no longer want my jersey, and it certainly won't hold any revered space in my closet.
I propose that for every athlete who has a major multiple legal indiscretions, they should have to go around and sign autographs not of them in all their sports glory, but of them commiting the act they were found guilty of. In Ben's case, a nice picture of him sliding his hand under a woman's skirt would be great paraphernalia for a sportsbar wall.  Santonio Holmes could be posed slapping one of his many women.

And if that won't shame any of these self-centered egotists into finding a moral compass for which to base their behavior in public, then perhaps a ban from the game they love so much would wake them up.  If a doctor or politician is forced to resign for such indiscretions, athletes need to follow suit.

Enough is enough.