The Elements

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Knock on wood, it looks like we’re finally going to play some basketball at Shenandoah University! Starting today, the Hornet men will play a limited Winter schedule and will open today against Mary Baldwin at The Wilkins Center. No fans will be permitted at Wilkins, but be sure to listen to the action on The River 95-3…and check out my Sports Dogs Podcast this week on this website as coach Adam Walsh previews the season.

(because of the unpredictability of COVID-19, the sports situation at SU remains fluid, so stay tuned, and we’ll keep you up to date)

Well, we’re down to the NFL’s “Final Four” as we approach Championship Weekend. The AFC title game will match the Buffalo Bills against the Kansas City Chiefs. As of early this week, KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes was still in concussion protocol, and may miss the game. That would certainly even the playing field, but don’t sell the Bills short. Buffalo is a very good football team. They belong in this contest.

The NFC game gives us a matchup of 2 of the NFL’s best QBs in Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Tom Brady (the GOAT), who is trying to get another ring, this time with Tampa Bay. With Rodgers’ home base being Green Bay, and Brady having played all those years in New England, both are used to playing in harsh weather conditions. With a winter storm predicted for Green Bay this weekend, we could have one of those classic “snow games.”

Which brings me to this: former NFL great Kurt Warner said this week that he is in favor of having the playoffs played indoors in a domed venue. While this would make for pristine playing conditions, we would miss out on some great moments.

Growing up, I loved the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes played in the old “Met” in Minneapolis, and it always seemed to be snowing there. Quarterback Joe Kapp was a favorite of mine, along with the “Purple People Eaters” defense, but what I remember most were the snow banks all around the field, and the flamethrowers which tried in vain to soften up the frozen tundra. The Vikings were hard to beat at home in December.

And without the elements, we would have missed out on the iconic “Ice Bowl” in 1967, as Bart Starr of the Packers scored on a quarterback sneak on the concrete-like surface of Lambeau to beat the Cowboys in the NFL Championship Game in 16-below temperatures.

I could go on-and-on with examples: the Fog Bowl, The Tuck-Rule Game, and the Freezer Bowl 1981 AFC Championship, played in 40-below wind chills in Cincinnati. Point is, football isn’t meant to be played in perfect conditions, and the backdrop of snow, sleet, and arctic wind chills is part of NFL lore.

Easy for me to say, when I’m under a comforter and glued to my 55-inch HD television…

Enjoy the games this weekend…and GO HORNETS!


A Beginning

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Well, almost.

It was “one and done” for The Washington Football Team on Super Wild Card Weekend, as the burgundy and gold lost to the ageless Tom Brady and the Bucs , as expected, 31-23. But the 7-9 WFT didn’t go down without a fight, and earned the respect of Tampa and a lot of the NFL who thought they didn’t earn a seat at the post-season table.

(At this point, I need to veer off-track with a few random thoughts. Why is the much-heralded Washington front four nicknamed “Maroon-4”? I get the reference to the musical group, but maroon isn’t one of the team colors. I’m reminded of former Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who in his opening press conference upon being hired, asked for “3 cheers for the old maroon and black.”

And, did you see the comparison-photos of 43 year-old Brady and 43 year-old George Blanda from back in the day? Blanda looked 70, while Brady looked 25. I’m pretty sure the reason is that in the late 60s, Blanda had no access to dieticians, massage therapists, and yoga pants. But the difference was striking.)

Anyway, on Saturday night, the WFT acquitted itself nicely, thanks to the efforts of instant folk hero Taylor Heinicke, who in his first start as Washington QB, almost single handedly willed his team to victory. The former ODU signal caller even came back out of the locker room late in the game after a shoulder injury, and in a “Willis Reed” moment, got the WFT within a TD at 28-23.

As disappointing as the loss was, it felt like more of a beginning than an end. In the last 20-plus years of the Dan Snyder regime, the playoff appearances have been few and far between, the post-season wins even more rare. And the playoff exits always felt like the end, rather than something to build on the following year. Even “Joe Gibbs 2.0″seemed like like a magic act performed with smoke and mirrors.

Saturday night’s loss felt different. Much has been written about the exciting young defensive line, led by rookie captain Chase Young. But there are some exciting young stars on the offensive side of the ball, and while this year might be the final chapter of the feel-good story of Alex Smith, and the end of Ryan Kerrigan’s time in DC, there is a lot to be hopeful about in 2021.

In a tumultuous year for the organization on many fronts, head coach Ron Rivera navigated his team through the rough waters of 2020 to a division title and playoff appearance, despite his own personal challenges. For that, he should at least be considered for Coach Of The Year honors.

We all know too well that ownership could mess things up without even trying, but Saturday night felt like the start of something big.

Until the next visit, so long from The Booth. GO WFT, GO HORNETS!


Sports Dogs Podcast: Navigating The Covid Waters At SU

In this week’s Sports Dogs Podcast, we join up with Associate AD at Shenandoah University, Scott Musa. Some good news came recently that sports will resume soon at SU with Hornet Basketball returning January 23rd. Although the COVID landscape changes almost daily, it looks like the Hornets have successfully navigated the choppy waters of 2020. Scott talks about that process, as well as the daily challenges of coaches, players, and administrators in this trying year.

Enjoy, and GO HORNETS! RW