Category Archives: Score Keeper

Written words on sports.

RIP Rubin “HURRICANE” Carter

Rubin Carter

He was the inspiration for the last great political song of Bob Dylan’s career.  He was a man who never gave up the fight to clear his name. He was an American who showed us how to fight injustice. He was the Hurricane! RIP Rubin Carter.

Hurricane by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy

Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out, “My God, they killed them all!”
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Three bodies lyin’ there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin’ around mysteriously
“I didn’t do it,” he says, and he throws up his hands
“I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand
I saw them leavin’,” he says, and he stops
“One of us had better call up the cops”
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin’
In the hot New Jersey night

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Paterson that’s just the way things go
If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
’Less you wanna draw the heat

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin’ around
He said, “I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates”
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said, “Wait a minute, boys, this one’s not dead”
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men

Four in the mornin’ and they haul Rubin in
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye
Says, “Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!”
Yes, here’s the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Four months later, the ghettos are in flame
Rubin’s in South America, fightin’ for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin’ the screws to him, lookin’ for somebody to blame
“Remember that murder that happened in a bar?”
“Remember you said you saw the getaway car?”
“You think you’d like to play ball with the law?”
“Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin’ that night?”
“Don’t forget that you are white”

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, “I’m really not sure”
Cops said, “A poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we’re talkin’ to your friend Bello
Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow
You’ll be doin’ society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin’ braver
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain’t no Gentleman Jim”

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
It’s my work, he’d say, and I do it for pay
And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse

All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance
The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed

Rubin Carter was falsely tried
The crime was murder “one,” guess who testified?
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
That’s the story of the Hurricane
But it won’t be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he’s done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Copyright © 1975 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 2003 by Ram’s Horn Music

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The NFL Needs to Grow Up

Once upon a time, American society lagged behind the cultural changes that were  brokered by those who played our sports. For instance, Jackie Robinson’s play with his Dodger teammates made integration more tangible. His breaking of MLB’s racial barrier also predated Brown v. Board of Education by 7 years. In similar fashion, Billie Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs in 1973 signaled that the equal treatment of women was long overdue. Since her resounding win, women now pursue happiness in ways that were once only afforded to men. They have proven, what we all should have already known, that women are more than capable of taking on everything from heading a household to gaveling the House of Representatives to order.

SI Michael Sam coverNow a days, it feels like our society is forcing American sport to change.  Most notably, the old chauvinist order of the NFL is being called to task.  While I wrote extensively about the outcome of football’s recent playoff rounds, those playoffs will have little consequence compared to what will take place this offseason.  From Michael Sam’s announcement on his own sexuality to the findings of the Wells report on bullying, the NFL’s locker room is about to take on its most significant change since it integrated in 1947. This change is long over due. While there are many issues to which Americans disagree, sportsmanship and respectful treatment of others is something we are all taught from an early age. It makes since that the very same values we learn in Little League should be upheld in professional locker rooms.

Michael Sam has shown considerable bravery in being upfront about his personal life. While it is none of our business, I appreciate the risk he is taking. This coupled with the fact that most of our society now accepts his declaration as a mere fact of life, should signal to the sports world that the times they are a-changin’.

Point blank, the NFL needs to grow up. While everyone has the right to be intolerant in their private life, our expectations in public life are different. We all show up to work and school and expect to be treated fairly. The notion of fair treatment is a hallmark of American society and should be extended to every workplace environment. Even if that workplace environment takes place in the knuckle dragging context of the NFL.

Many sports commentators, however, have wondered how professional football would handle the news. Many have opined that the locker room was not ready and worried about how other players might react. Many of the same concerns were leveled against African American players and female reporters, as if the football locker room was some kind of sacred sanctuary that should be allowed to exist outside the norms of our society. Truth be told if a locker room cannot handle the inclusion of Michael Sam, it is likely no where close to being able to handle the adversity that faces any championship team. Besides, we all know that it can be done, because Sam and his Missouri teammates have already done it.

The best commentary on why the NFL should change has come from Texas sports anchor, Dale Hansen. His YouTube video has gone viral and serves as a great takedown of those who say the NFL is not ready.

In many respects, it is a good thing that the Wells Report on bullying came out this week. It shows, without a doubt, that NFL locker room culture needs to evolve. While the Miami Dolphins locker room harassment detailed in the report may be an outlier, it does put teams around the league on notice that the “traditional” values of hazing will no longer be accepted. With the worst case scenario already outed, the league can move forward in their effort to clean up some of the uglier aspects of the sport.

Most aspects of American society have already done this in regards to public life. We now have many symbolic markers signaling our progressive move toward inclusiveness. For those that may object on religious grounds, I take comfort in what one of the Missouri students says in the YouTube video below. In a show of support for Michael Sam, she simply states “God is Love.” Love for one another and our differences is what has brought this nation together. Unfortunately, our differences can also tear us apart. Here’s hoping that the former is true and that the NFL, and its players, grows up just a little bit and embraces what makes the American experience so unique.


The Superbowl is Awesome. Apathy Be Damned.

B and G at Skins gameF.I.’s First Guest Blogger Post by the one and only Uncle B:

As I write this who knows if it’ll make it to the blog, G’s blog, Formulate  Infinity. He invited me to add a little bit of commentary to his NFL playoff  stream of consciousness. He’d admit that it’s been a pretty weak week by week exercise. 50/50 Sports Center justifications regurgitated aren’t that  compelling. I don’t have much to add. I’ll even detract. So, I’ll follow his lead and try to relate, I couldn’t drop dimes ‘cause you couldn’t relate… We’re  a tribe… Woolyams Represent.

The Superbowl is awesome. Apathy be damned. Odds are your team ain’t in it.



At this point most of us couldn’t give a crap, but strangely we do. The whole deal has reached holiday status in this country and there’s so much more to root for than just the teams playing the game. We now root for good commercials (4 mil a pop this year) and we look forward to slamming the ones that don’t measure up. We anticipate the halftime show… One more booby please! An excuse to imbibe doesn’t hurt. Getting together to eat and drink and BS with each other is the best, especially with family and friends. Even more awesome would be for your team to be one of the finalists.

G and I haven’t experienced that level of Super Bowl excitement in over 20 years when the Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.

It’s all about how you want to relate. If your team ain’t in it. You pick a side to hate or that you hate less. Or, maybe the side upon which you placed a wager. Maybe we root for a player or players, or against them.

1992 was great, but the ‘Skins Super Bowl I remember most was when the ‘Skins whipped the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

628x471-4I think back to age 10. I hated the Broncos – for one game (or at least one quarter). My cousin Ashton, also a big ‘Skins fan, told me on the phone of some kid at their school who wore an ‘Orange Crush’ t-shirt the week before the game. I was too young to understand how a kid who lived and went to school minutes from D.C. could root against the Washington Redskins. We were all excited about the game and it was cool to have relatives that lived so close. The fact that they supplied us with fan gear was pretty cool, too. We forgive the Russian belts.

As for the game, I was a punk – I cried when the Broncos jumped on my beloved Redskins for an early 10-0 lead in 1988. The rest is history. Doug Williams, Timmy Smith, the most points scored in a Super Bowl quarter, etc. In so many ways our Redskins fandom was solidified.

So, for Super Bowl XLVIII I choose to root for the Denver Broncos and I think they’ll win. If they had beaten the Redskins years ago I can honestly say that I would still hold that grudge. To this day I still hold a slight one against the Raiders for Super Bowl XVIII.

blog_espn_magazine_leaf_manningLike a ton of folks, I’m rooting for Peyton Manning. Another Super Bowl ring would help cement his already incredible legacy and go a long way towards quieting his nitpicking detractors. And say this knowing that at age 20 I was one of the idiots who said Ryan Leaf would be the better NFL QB. For some reason I disliked Tennessee and I despised the smug, goofy look I perceived Manning to have. I’m still embarrassed to admit it.

It’s weird that Manning and I are pretty much the same age. He seems like an old man to me. It’s funny how professional sports, football especially, makes guys seem older than they are. And as I get older my rooting interests in teams that aren’t mine are less motivated by hate and dislike. I’m more interested in a good story, a good game, an exciting finish. So here’s to a good game. I’m looking forward to spending the time with my family.


Go Broncos – at least this once.

The Final Four: NFL Edition

If the NFL Post-season was Las Vegas and I was your bookie, you would already be shopping for another odds-maker to place your bets. I did improve upon my horrendous 1-3 start last weekend by getting 2 out of 4 games correct. As a former history teacher, I know that’s still a failing grade. My one regret was picking the Carolina Panthers. The bandwagon got to me! Like everyone else in Charlotte, however, I was thrown firmly off the bandwagon cart by last weekend’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Alas, if I go two for two this weekend my NFL guesstimation record will be back to an impressive .500.  A correct Super Bowl pick would put me over the top and allow me to quietly claim this whole exercise wasn’t a total wash. Unfortunately for me, there are actually games to play and determining who will emerge victorious is no easy task. With that said, let’s get to the picks! This weekend NFL Conference Championship’s final four teams have some perennial stalwarts vying for a chance at Super Bowl glory. The San Francisco 49ers, the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos all have trophy cases full of championship hardware. The dark horse upstart of the group, the Seattle Seahawks, is the only team that seems out-of-place. Last week, I stated the Seahawks had never been to a Super Bowl. I forgot the boring crush of their 2005 Super Bowl appearance against the Pittsburg Steelers that ended in a 21-10 beating.

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos (Sunday 3:00PM)

Conference Championship weekend starts with a heavyweight matchup between QB Tom Brady’s Patriots versus QB Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos. It is impossible to talk about this matchup without considering the rivalry between the two star quarterbacks. It has largely been one-sided with Brady taking 10 of 14 games to the house.  Brady has made it to five Super Bowls (winning three). Manning, however, has only made two Super Bowl appearances (winning one). Most sportswriters use these stats to argue for a New England victory. There is one stat that should worry the Patriots.  Brady is only 5-6 in his career against the Broncos.  One of those meetings was a 45-10 beat down in the 2011 playoffs. Needless to say there’s hope Denver fans!

Despite all the historical stats working against Manning, I think he prove all the haters wrong. His team has been my Super Bowl favorite from the beginning for several reasons.  First, Manning has players in both the passing and running game he can count on.  Knowshon Moreno has rushed for over a 1,000 yards this year and has provided balance to an offense that can flat-out throw the ball. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker have joined for 3,496 receiving yard and 35 touchdowns.  The Broncos will light up New England’s low-rated defense. I’m picking the Broncos because they have exhibited the ability to score at will.

The one thing that should give Denver fans pause, is their defense.  The Broncos rank 27th in the NFL against the pass and Tom Brady exploited this weakness earlier this season to engineer a surprising 34-31 comeback victory.  Brady has led his team to a 12-4 record despite having only one 1,000 yard receiver (Julian Edelman) on the roster.  Brady has proven he can win no matter who lines up next to him.  This prospect should scare the Broncos fans everywhere because no lead is safe against the experienced half-time game planning of Brady and his coach, Bill Belichick  Here’s hoping Denver can score enough points to hold off the Patriots and secure Peyton Manning a third shot at Super Bowl glory.

Final Score:  Broncos 34-Patriots 27

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks (Sunday 6:30PM)

The Sunday night game, while not as glamorous as the Manning-Brady Bowl, offers another compelling match up.  The 49ers are pushing for a second straight Super Bowl appearance, while the Seahawks have worked hard to legitimize their status as one the NFL’s best.  Both teams split their regular season match-ups and I expect the game’s outcome to go down to the wire.

As I stated last week, the 49ers and QB Colin Kaepernick’s  playoff experience should give them an edge. The 49ers, however, will be facing a team that ranks 1st against the pass and that has the 7th best defense in the NFL.  This means Kaepernick and his sidekick running back Frank Gore have their work cut out for them.  The QB threw 5 picks this season against Seattle.  He has, however, had more success with his legs and  I expect him to run when under pressure.  It’s this running ability (7.5 yard average in the post-season), along with Frank Gore’s knack for popping off big runs like the 51 yard winner in his last match-up against Seattle, that gives the 49ers a slight edge. I also think having Tight End Vernon Davis back in the fold gives Kaepernick a much needed mid-range passing target to compliment the the deep threat ability of Wide Reciever Michael Crabtree. It is no coincidence the team has not lost since Crabtree rejoined its roster.

The Seahawks are in trouble if Russell Wilson continues his lackluster post-season performance.  He only passed for a 108 yards in his last game. Fortunately for him, his poor play was bailed out by Marshawn Lynch’s 140 yard two touchdown performance. Wilson is the X-factor in this game.  If he can overcome the loss of Percy Harvin and make some meaningful passing plays down the field, the Seahawks may have a shot at the Super Bowl. Their defense will keep the game close. Home field advantage will also be huge here because Seattle has one of the loudest stadiums in the league. Even so, I expect the 49ers to make the most noise and will themselves into their second straight Super Bowl.

 Final Score: 49ers 24-Seahawks 21

Divisional Playoff Predictions

Last weekend’s predictions were a complete failure. The Colts battled back to take out my highly regarded Chiefs.  Andrew Luck put on one of the all-time great second half playoff performances I have ever seen. We are now blessed with another week of Rob Ryan’s bad hair moments as the Saints squeezed passed the Eagles. As for the Bengals, my weariness about Andy Dalton’s incredible skill of throwing INTs proved prophetic. Unfortunately, I still picked the Bengals to advance!

The sole correct prediction came last Sunday night, as the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick literally outran the Packers to victory. Those same 49ers will face-off against my hometown’s bye-week darlings, the Carolina Panthers. If this weekend’s predictions are as bad as last weekend’s I will be calling in back up.  With all that said, here is my divisional round NFL playoff forecast.

Saints-vs-SeahawksNew Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks (Saturday 4:35PM)

Five weeks ago the Seahawks handed the Saints a humiliating 34-7 Monday night beat down. While the playoffs represent a new day, the Seahawks are well rested and ready for a repeat performance. New Orleans’s only hope is to get Drew Breese going early and to find some way to contain the athletic play of Russell Wilson. This the tallest order of the weekend, next to stopping Manning and the Broncos, as the Seahawks are heavily favored to make their first Super Bowl appearance in history.

Marshawn-LynchWhile the Saints have the NFL’s top ranked defense, the Seahawks have already proven that they are too tough to handle. Marshawn Lynch has rushed for over 1200 yards and Russel Wilson has added another 500 yards to the Seattle running attack. Wilson has struggled a little in his sophomore season but he has plenty of back up if he falters. Seattle’s best insurance policy is their secondary. They will test Breese in ways that the Eagles failed to do last weekend.  It’s hard to bet against Breese but this year’s Saints team is not built to stop a top flight team like the Seahwaks. If the Saints aren’t careful they may experience a relapse similar to the Monday night blowout they endured five weeks ago.

Final Score: Seahwaks 28-Saints 13

colts-patsIndianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots (Saturday 8:15PM)

Somehow the depleted roster of the New England Patriots managed 12 wins this year.  The team has defied logic. Unfortunately for them, another team that defies logic are the Colts.  Andrew Luck has already engineered nine 4th quarter comebacks in his two year career.  Last week was his most spectacular and I expect the Colts to defy logic one more playoff round.

ty hiltonThe game itself should be close but the Patriots are heavily favored to win.  The Colts are my upset pick and I am largely basing it on the chemistry between Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. This, combined with the resurgent running capacity of Donald Brown, should provide the Colts with plenty of offense. We all know what New England’s Tom Brady can do. If he leads his team to the AFC Championship all bets are off. The Patriots, however, are without Tight End Rob Gronkowski and have lost some key defensive players throughout the year. They also have won almost every game this year by a close margin and I think they will struggle to put the Colts away. For this reason, I am picking the Colts in a close, thrilling upset.

Final Score: Colts 28-Patriots 27 

panthers 49ersSan Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers (Sunday 1:05PM)

The Carolina Panthers are back in the playoffs with a new coach, a maturing quarterback and a stellar defense. Many around Charlotte, and the surrounding Carolinas, are hoping the playoff magic is back, too. The Panther fan base has endured some lean years since the departure of Jack Delhomme and the team’s one-time Super Bowl caliber roster. Fans are hoping the one hold over from that team, Steve Smith, is ready to go after a week of much-needed rest.

Panthers DObviously, the 49ers have been here before. They may have come up short in last year’s Super Bowl but  QB Colin Kaepernick has invaluable playoff experience. This will be Panthers QB Cam Newton’s first post-season game. The 49ers, however, are also 0-4 in divisional playoff matches when they are the visiting team.  Earlier this year, the Panthers bested the 49ers in a 10-9 defensive struggle. The Panthers are 2nd in the NFL against the run and they are the one team that can stop the one-two punch of Kaepernick and 49ers running back Frank Gore. For this reason, I am picking the Panthers to edge out the 49ers and reach the NFC championship game to face the Seattle Seahawks. My only reservation is how many times Cam Newton was sacked this year (43). Like the Bengals’s Dalton and his INT miscues last week, I think this is the one area where the Panthers are vulnerable.

 Final Score: Panthers 24-49ers 21

ManningSan Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos (Sunday 4:40PM)

peyton-manning-steelersTwo words: Peyton Manning. The Hall of Fame QB cannot be denied. After three thrilling weekend playoff games, I predict this matchup is a blowout. I was wrong about the Chargers last week but they just managed to delay the inevitable. The Broncos have worked too hard over the last two seasons to let the Chargers knock them out of the playoffs. While the Broncos have struggled at times on defense, their offense is first-rate. The Chargers will be over-matched by Manning’s veteran poise and his ability to pick a part opposing defenses. I also expect wide receiver Eric Decker to have a career day. Simply put,  the Broncos passing attack has been prolific, the Chargers defense has not. Like I said: Peyton Manning. Game. Set. Match.

 Final Score: Broncos 33-Chargers 10