Saturday, January 9, 2010

Opining on dad, movies, layoffs, the Bills coaching search and Goofy Gilbert

Had one of those shocking 'where-did-the-time-go?' revelations this morning when I realized my late dad would have been 97 years old today. He was born on this date in 1913 and died 10 days later in 1971 of a heart attack at age 58. I was 15 at the time and his death affected me profoundly. Those 15 years I had with him were very good ones, despite his declining health, and with each passing year I become more grateful and appreciative for the sacrifices he made for me. Happy Birthday, Dad! I miss you.


Speaking of father-son moments, Beth and I recently saw "The Young Victoria'' at the Little Theater and we applauded when Matt Garner's name appeared among the credits rolling up the screen. Matt was co-editor of the movie and is son of my good friend and Democrat and Chronicle film critic Jack Garner. What a fabulous feeling that must be for Jack and his wife, Bonnie.


And while I'm on the subject of movies, my lovely bride and I also saw "Up in the Air,'' starring George Clooney. I can see why the film has created such Oscar buzz. On a personal note, it was difficult watching people being laid off by the cold-hearted Clooney and his young assistant. Having been down-sized by a corporation myself, I could empathize with the real-life displaced people who appeared in the film. You have no idea how devastating and de-humanizing the experience is unless you go through it yourself. This movie does an incredible job of putting real faces on this most cold and cruel numbers game, which sadly has become the American way of doing business in the 21st Century.


Now, on to other, less personal, matters . . .

* I've written it before and I'll write it again: I hope I'm wrong but I just don't see Bill Cowher winding up as the new Bills coach. And the interview Ralph Wilson had with The Associated Press Friday has only strengthenned that belief. When asked if the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach is interested in the Buffalo job, Ralph responded: "I don't know. You'd have to ask him.'' Cowher isn't going to a place that will sully his reputation. He wants to have a fighting chance to turn a program around, and he probably doesn't believe that will be the case in Buffalo. I think Cowher will return to the TV studio and wait until next year to test the NFL coaching waters again.

* I'm wondering why the Bills haven't yet interviewed Brian Billick, the former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl-winning coach or Jim Fassel or Marty Schottenheimer.

If they aren't going to sign a former NFL head coach, I'd like to see them take a chance on Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. I know there's a high failure rate among former college coaches making the leap to the pro sidelines, but Harbaugh has experience as an NFL assistant and his 14 years as a quarterback, playing for respected coaches such as Ted Marchibroda, Mike Ditka and Bill Walsh should be viewed as a major plus for a team that's going to need to develop a QB during this major rebuilding process.

While we're on the subject, is Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier a better alternative than former Bills interim head coach/defensive coordinator Perry Fewell? Yes, Frazier has produced top-rated defenses in Minnesota the past two years, but look at the talent he's had his disposal. Fewell had to make a go of it with fewer skilled players and had to overcome the loss to injuries of five full-time starters and one part-time starter on defense. I'm not campaigning for Perry to become the Bills full-time coach. I just think it would to too tough a sell to Bills fans who would perceive it as Ralph taking the easy way out again. I just wonder how much better a hire Frazier or some other hot-shot coordinator would be.

* I'm not ready to anoint Alabama national champion in football. Let 'em play unbeaten Boisie State, then I'll cast a ballot for No. 1. You know where I'm going with this - a playoff for NCAA Division I football.

* I'm happy Andre Dawson finally earned induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I can't believe the voters conitnue to leave Bert Blyleven and Gil Hodges on the outside looking in. And I definitely would have included Roberto Alomar on my ballot if I had one. Yes, I know about the infamous spitting incident, but that was one bad transgression in an otherwise good-guy career. I've never seen a second baseman with more range, and Alomar's offensive numbers are comparable, if not superior, to several of the second sackers already enshrined in Cooperstown.

* Congratulations to Bills receiver Andre Reed for being one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I'm afraid his chances of being elected this time around are hurt by the fact there are two other receivers - Jerry Rice and Tim Brown - on the list. Voters don't like to overload a class with a particular position - unless it's quarterback - so Andre probably will have to wait 'til next year.

* Should gun-toting Gilbert Arenas be found guilty of a felony, NBA commissioner David Stern could void his entire contract, meaning Goofy Gilbert will be out $80 mil over the next four years. Perhaps that will send a message to athletes that they aren't above the law.

* And while we're talking about knucklehead athletes did you hear that Bills running back Marshawn Lynch is back in the news for allegedly stealing $20 from a woman at a T.G.I.F. Fridays in Orchard Park back in December? The Buffalo News reported that story this morning. He was going to be traded any way after his lack of production and previous problems, which resulted in a 3-game suspension at the start of the 2009 season. Unfortunately, this further devalues what the Bills can get for him in a trade. In the end, they may wind up having to just release him.

* My picks for the NFL this weekend: Jets over Bengals; Eagles over Cowboys; Pats over Ravens and Packers over Cards.

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