It was hard for me to decide how best to approach this article. Pat Tillman is a legend and a hero across the country. But what he has meant to the state of Arizona is immeasurable. How do you capture that kind of life with words on a screen? I can’t, but if there is a story worth telling over and over, it is this one.
I am a huge football fan and no secret that I have a love for the Cardinals that some would describe as unhealthy. I am not a big fan of ASU athletics, but as a Phoenix native and my wife being an alumni, they have been something I am more than familiar with.
This is how I learned about Pat Tillman. For a few hours a week, I would watch him work. How he handled himself on the sidelines and sprinted on and off the field regardless of circumstance. The announcers constantly touting his academic prowess as well as his hard hitting attitude.
From my perspective, the best way to describe the Pat Tillman I watched, is an underrated star. Even as he was coming out of high school where he was great and helped lead his team to a division I title. He was told he was too small to play at the next level. Not only did he play, but he excelled and not at a small Division 2 school, but a major PAC-10 (at the time) school. Of course as he ended his college career he was not high on many teams draft boards and once again was told he was too small to play at the pro level.
But again, Pat defied his critics and was drafted by the Cardinals keeping the local star in the valley, but as the seventh round pick he was not ensured of even making the roster. He continued to fly around and make plays like he always had in high school and college, and so he made the roster.
However, making the roster also meant he would be buried on the depth chart and never see the field, but that changed quickly getting 10 starts in his rookie season. In 2001 he set a team record with 224 tackles in a single season.
This is where the story becomes legend. Many players have silenced doubters and overcome long odds to make it to the NFL. But Pat Tillman truly was unique. He was more introspective and intellectual than he was jock or brute. He didn’t let football define who he was or who he was going to be. After the Cardinals were set to extend his existing rookie contract to give him millions of dollars, Pat walked away. He walked away from a career that millions of people envy, to join the military.
In the wake of September 11th Pat Tillman was inspired. He wanted something bigger and more meaningful than playing a game on Sundays.
Pat told a reporter, “At times like this you stop and think about just how good we have it, what kind of system we live in, and the freedoms we are allowed. A lot of my family has gone and fought in wars and I really haven’t done a damn thing.”
Joining the military or Army doesn’t really describe what he did though. Pat was an Army Ranger. He wanted to be on the front lines with his brother Kevin that joined with him to fight for our country. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for the freedoms that he cherished.
Pat was shot and killed by friendly fire on April 22nd of 2004. I was sworn into the Air Force 6 days after that on April 28th, 2004. The news didn’t reach me until a few months later after I had completed basic training and technical school in Texas. I was home assisting my local recruiter before heading to my permanent duty station in Las Vegas when I remember thinking about the tragedy and how it could have been different. The coward in me was thankful that I picked the Air Force. For the most part, I would be safe from that type of firefight in a canyon in the Middle East that took Pat’s life. At the time I found out, it was not disclosed that it was friendly fire and speculation of an attempt to cover up the incident by high ranking Army officials was rumored, but it didn’t matter to me.
What I knew was the guy I grew up watching and admiring was gone. In the service of his country and all that he held dear, he gave the ultimate sacrifice. Pat was a hero the day that he swore this oath;
“I, Pat Tillman, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
But out of this tragedy his legend grew. He lives on through the Pat Tillman Foundation, the annual Pat’s Run, the PT42 mantra adopted by ASU football, but most importantly his family.
I am really looking forward to watching “A Football Life: Pat Tillman” airing October 28th of this year. I think this story is worth remembering and worth retelling to our kids and their kids and their kids.
16 years ago, the 2000 Olympiad Michael Phelps splashed onto the scene (Sorry about that, I couldn’t help myself). He was a 15 year old kid that still had braces on his bottom teeth. He finish fifth place in the 200m butterfly.
His teammate and gold medal winner of that event patted Phelps on the back and told him, “The best is ahead of you,” according to “No Limits,” one of Phelp’s autobiographies.
I don’t think the man that beat him that day had any idea how much was still ahead of Phelps.
He is now the most decorated Olympian of all time.
He has the most overall medals, the most gold medals and the most individual wins of any competitor ever, beating out Leonidis of Rhodes from 152 BCE. The previous 2168 year old record fell to our 6’4″ tall (but only 32 inch inseam) canoe of a man in 2016. Phelps has as more medals than 84 different countries. Morocco is tied with him at 22 gold medals and they have competed in 13 different Olympiads.
Phelps has a beautiful wife and adorable baby with him in Rio. He can walk away now and will be remembered as the greatest of all time and he should. There is nothing left to prove. No mountain to climb and nothing but the future in front of him.
Now, not to be a downer, but…
I would throw any of these accomplishments into the most unbreakable records of all time with Brett Farve’s career wins and Cal Ripkin’s Iron Man records. But the standout of them all is a young girl named Katie Ledeke.
That is how good she is. In an article that is meant to show the greatness of the best swimmer to ever walk on this earth; Ledeke has a shot to top her teammate Phelps and I will be writing an article about her legend in 16 years.
In America, we have have all been taught the power and importance of the freedom of choice. Because of this we are always looking to capture the best option and are quick to label something as better or best than it’s competition.
My wife, her cousin, and I were at a winery in Napa a couple of years ago. We were on a tour and at this particular winery they would take you on a tour of their caves that they aged barrels of wine in. We had a fantastic guide from New Zealand that had a great accent and an even better job. We meandered through the cool corridors of the caves lined with casks of wine and every few barrels he would insert some sort glass flange to extract wine directly from the barrel for us to try. About 10 minutes into the tour we got to a pair of barrels and he was describing the type of grape that was used and that this particular batch was split into two different casks. One was made of a French Oak and the other American Oak. I am not so naive to think that American Oak is better than French, but I was not willing to concede that fact without asking the expert. So Mr. New Zealand wine guy “Which is better, the American of French?”
In his charming accent he laughed at me and then quickly apologized for laughing, but said that it was a very “American” question. He explained to us that the difference was simply that, just different. He went on with an analogy of his dress socks and how he would pair them depending on the suit he was wearing, but he didn’t have a favorite pair of socks, they were just different.
I was a little offended that he laughed at me, but his message hit home. Since that day, I have tried to be careful to not compare things and try to rank them if not absolutely necessary. Now, I am not doing this to be more politically correct or some anti-American bias, but to simply get rid of the idea that something has to be best and open myself up to trying new things.
I say all of that to explain that when I do call something the best or the worst, it has been thoughtfully considered.
So when a couple of friends and I got into a conversation about sports movies and this movie came up, I was clear. Hoosiers is the worst sports movie of all time and here is why.
It sells itself as a classic come-from-behind redemption story, but really it’s not. Hackman, who plays a failed college coach is forced to take a job at a high school in a tiny town after being fired. Why was Hackman fired? He hit a kid.
He then hires the town drunk to be his assistant to help turn the team around. Except he can’t. At least not without the star player, Jimmy Chitwood, that is not playing because he is neglecting his school work. So to get the team moving in the right direction, he decides to forgo developing his team into the best they can be and focuses his attention on badgering the teacher who is keeping Chitwood on the sidelines.
Then we get to the climax of the movie as they make it to the state championship and they are paired against an all black team in the 1950s. The racism is dripping off of the screen and classic sports stereotypes are brought to life before your eyes. The overdone back and forth Rocky style of a sports game is played with Chitwood hitting the game winning shot.
The only real winner in the movie is Denis Hopper that played the drunk assistant, who is able to put the bottle down long enough to help the team win. His accomplishment however is almost completely thrown away as they focus on Hackman and Chitwood and their respective victories. We celebrate the redemption of a coach that went from college failure to lower division high school champ, because he didn’t assault anyone this time around.
This movie was fantastically directed and had a feel good ending that everyone was rooting for, but those two things did not make up for the biggest problem with the movie. The plot.
The relationship between Tyrann Mathieu and the Cardinals is probably the symbiotic player/organization pairing in the league. Mathieu’s troubles prior to the NFL are well chronicled, but it is not as well known of a story about how he has become who he is today. When the Peterson’s (Patrick and his father) moved Mathieu into their home, it gave him the structure that he needed. Players like Rashad Johnson, Jarrod Powers, Darnell Dockett and most importantly Peterson all helped to provide guidance and support to a kid that was willing to listen and learn.
Tyrann treated his issue with Marijuana seriously and put his heart into the process. He had a pragmatic look at the mistakes he made. It slandered his name and cost him millions of dollars.
Steve Keim said this week there was a time that he looked at Mathieu’s name in his draft board and thought “there is no way”. But, Steve Keim is also the same guy that said if Hannibal Lecture could run a 4.3 forty, he would classify it a eating disorder. So it makes sense that as he watched more and more film of Mathieu that he was willing to learn more about him.
Keim also recently told a story about taking Mathieu to dinner and Keim’s six year old son was there and told his dad that Honey Badger was the real deal.
Hindsight is able to show us that Mathieu is the type of player and in this case more importantly the type of man the Cardinals needed. Taking risks and coming out ahead on this gives the team confidence to take chances on other players like Robert Nkemdiche, which could pay off big again for Keim.
These risks don’t always work out. The Cardinals know all too well what can happen if a player can’t get past issues with marijuana. Darryl Washington was one of the most promising up and coming players in the league before getting suspended indefinitely in 2013. He has still yet to be reinstated and is still on the Cardinals roster.
There is also defensive lineman Randy Gregory from the Cowboys, a team famous for taking risks on players as well. Gregory also had issues documented before the draft, but unlike Mathieu he has just been suspended for the first four games of this season.
So, as fan of him as person and a player, congrats to Tryann and his family. Hopefully, Arizona will be your home for life.
Then the other big news from the week, was extending both Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald by a year.
This is a sign that BA and Keim believe the window for a super bowl is two years and not a one time, go big or go home year that this year has been shaping up to be.
This somewhat silences the questions about Fitz’ potential retirement. I have not looked at what this does to their cap number for the next two years, but you have to believe that this was also done in part to address resigning Chandler Jones next year.
It is widely anticipated that the Cardinals will use the franchise tag on Jones, to lock him up, but will need to come to an agreement before the season. Jones most likely won’t play on his tagged contract number if he has a big year.
This is a really great job of Keim identifying and solidifying a core of players that will keep the Cardinals competing for at least a couple more years.
Every news outlet in the world has taken their shot at the upcoming Rio Olympics. The Olympic village is a disaster in a terrible part of town, the open water is a cesspool of disgustingness and the security of the events has been questioned from the start. Oh yeah, and Zika.
The other big issue interestingly enough that the media has not over covered is the Russian doping scandal. The fact that government officials are suspected to have helped the athletes avoid detection and some of the best competitors in the world will not be there is a big deal. If true, government involvement is the exact opposite of the spirit of the games.
Hope Solo actually feels the same way that I do. She is quoted in the Seattle Times as saying this:
“You look back in 2004 in Greece, and the same thing there, bad publicity surrounding the Games — and China (in 2008) as well,” Solo, 35, said. “I don’t know why, but we like to sensationalize everything and scare people and then … when the Games go on, everything goes on as planned, ends up being a beautiful tournament. And I expect no less here.”
The Olympic games are a celebration of human athletic achievement. The perfect mix of God given talent, combined with an unbreakable will and extraordinary work ethic. It is also the peaceful combination of cultures, all with a spirit of friendly competition.
Still, despite all of the negative press that has been given to this Olympic games, we should watch, and we probably will.
When the lights go on and the cameras roll, mankind’s best will be on display for the world. People that have dedicated their lives to something and given them purpose, in many cases their entire lives, have a one month long competition to live out their wildest dreams.
NBC will put on a show. Bob Costas will share insights of unbelievable feats accomplished and Herculean obstacles overcome by some of the athletes to have just made it to arrive in that one moment in time. Will Olympic regulars like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt rise up on the biggest stage and continue to impress or has father time slowed them down?
Who will emerge as the next big star like Gabby Douglas four years ago or Mia Hamm back in 1996.
I hope to catch a few of the highlights as the USMNBT beats every team by 20 points or more, without Steph Curry or Lebron James on the roster. I hope to see Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) dominate US wrestler standing on a podium and then step off on his way to a lucrative UFC fighting contract. I hope to see the US at the top of the Gold Medal count and hear the Star Spangled Banner played nonstop.
When the torch is lit and the games are played, you will forget about the stories of the dorms and the quality of the water for a handful of events and you will marvel.
So watch the Olympics and support these athletes, it is the American thing to do.
Carson Palmer had the day off from throwing the ball, but did participate in some of the run game reps.
Here are some of the things that caught my eye:
There was good balance from both the offense and defense today. Patrick Peterson had an impressive twisting interception on a overthrow from Stanton.
Jaron Brown then beat rookie Brandon Williams on a post route for a 35 yard TD.
DJ Humphries had some really impressive blocks in the run game. One of which sprung David Johnson for a long TD run. He was celebrating his block so much that he forgot his assignment on the PAT after the score.
Kent Somers provided this insight:
Humphries late getting to PAT team. "Get your head out of your ass," says ST Coach Amos Jones. It had been a good camp for DJ until then
He got beat badly a couple of times by Chandler Jones during some third and long scenarios. But in Humphries defense, Jones made a lot of people look bad all day.
Some of the middle and back end of the roster played will today also.
Kareem Martin flashed a few times, stopping runners in the back field on couple of occasions and getting his hands on a ball that he was playing underneath coverage on. It was an impressive play as he was covering Chris Johnson in the flat and the throw went to the receiver up the field. He was able to peel off and with his 6’6 frame he almost came up with a pick.
Trevon Hartfield had a pick and a pass break-up on consecutive plays. Asa Jackson had a very athletic pick after a tipped pass. That was his second interception in as many days.
Xavier Williams got some time with ones today and looks slimmer than last year. It looked like they were giving him some time at D tackle and not just keeping him at nose.
The one big negative of the day was from a very unsuspecting candidate. Chandler Catanzaro missed at least five field goals. His first one hit the upright and it looked like it got into his head.
It was a good day though overall and it looked like everyone came out clean from a tough padded practice.
Michael asks a great question. When I start looking at teams to come up with the list, I eliminated teams like the Browns and 49ers right away because their season is done before anyone gets injured.
So here are the top 10 that I could come up with. There are a few that you could flip flop spots, but I think the list looks pretty good.
10. Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots
Rob Gronkowski is as good of a football player that we have in the league. Brady does not have an effective receiving core or dependable running game. Having Gronk on the field makes more space to operate for the rest of the offense and he converts third downs at an alarming rate. Sure Brady is great and could keep any game interesting without Gronk, but it is significantly more difficult without him.
9. Julio Jones and the Falcons
Julio Jones is a freak athlete. There is not another decent option at receiver or tight end to stretch the field for the Falcons. The running game is not bad, but it is not great either. Devonte Freeman can end up being a piece that can help win games, but without Julio the falcons would most likely finish last in their division.
8. Odell Beckham and the Giants
As OBJ goes, so goes the Giants. He is the offense and it needs him to take all of the attention off the defense to get anything going to the rest of the threats on offense. Could there be a shot that the Giants make the playoffs without OBJ? Sure. But the division is so bad that even if they did squeak in, it would be because the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins all imploded.
7. Khalil Mack and the Raiders
The first defensive player on the list. Mack had a career year last year and is part of a very improved defense and team for that matter. Without the pass rush that Mack provides, the rest of the team will suffer and the sleeper pick by most experts won’t make the turn and end up in the playoffs.
6. Fletcher Cox and the Eagles
Sticking with defense, Fletcher Cox is a terror on the interior of the line. He can single-handedly keep the Eagles in games. As I mentioned earlier about the NFC East, it is so bad that Cox will have a shot at the playoffs where anything can happen. Without Chip Kelley putting the defense on the field for more times than any other team in the league, Cox will be able to apply pressure at an even higher level.
5. Andrew Whitworth and the Bengals
Andrew Whitworth has been quietly one of the best tackles in football for a few years. Protecting the “Red Rocket” is critical for this team and it would be impossible to replace Whitworth. I know this is kind of cheating, because it is still about the QB, but without Whitworth this team will not make the playoffs.
4. Anthony Castonzo and the Colts
For the same reason as Whitworth above, but the Colts need a healthy protected QB more than the Bengals do. The Colts defense is suspect and there are not any great targets that the team would miss too significantly if they had to go without. We are expecting a bounce back performance from Luck this year and Castonzo is a big piece of that.
3. Michael Bennett and Seahawks
I know that Seattle is deep and most think they would be fine without any single piece, but Bennett is the exception. He is the reason that opposing teams can’t simply pick on the side opposite of Sherman all game. The cover three they play is susceptible to the 6-8 yard passes (i.e. Patriots in the Superbowl), but only if you can get Earl Thomas and Kam Chancelor spread out. That can’t happen if the QB does not have time. With Bennett on the field, QBs do not have time.
2. J.J. Watt and the Texans
The Texans might be a team that are out of the playoffs with or without Watt, but he is the best player in football right now. He is the engine to that whole team and without him they could finish in the bottom three or four in the league.
1. Adrian Peterson and the Vikings
The Vikings were a field goal away from beating Seattle in the playoffs. This team is built around AP and for good reason. He is the hardest player to tackle in the league and makes defenses pay for trying to stop him. They’re another Cinderella pick going into this year, but that can only happen with a healthy Peterson.
Honorable Mentions: Luke Kueckly, Von Miller, and Travis Kelce
Havasupai is one of the most beautiful places on earth and making the journey is really one of the most inspiring accomplishments a person a make.
So here is the story of the time my wife, her cousin, her cousin’s husband and I made the trip.
We were hanging out at a family party and my wife’s cousin, we will call her E, mentioned that she booked reservations to make the trip for husband’s birthday. She booked it for four people and they were going to go with her brother and her dad.
I had seen pictures and always wanted to make the call for reservations, but never took that step. As soon as I heard E had made the call I instantly was jealous and asked if My wife and I could join in.
It took a few weeks and few texts to remind E to ask, but we were in. S, my wife, and I were super excited and also a little scared. We are in decent shape and both pretty athletic, but the last time I had hiked any distance was 10 plus years ago.
So the preparation began. S and I got the list of things to take and looked into using mules to hike our stuff in and out of the canyon. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow some stuff like the lightweight tent and a one backpack for S, but we needed to get some sleeping bags and dehydrated food.
A few trips to Big 5 sports and REI and we were loaded up on some socks and hiking clothes to make sure we were comfy. We bought S new boots, but I made the mistake of using some old combat boots I had from the Air Force. We got new camel packs and a portable stove and we were set.
We planned lots of times to go hike and spend time getting used to climbing and walking around on uneven ground, but we ended up hiking only one time to prepare. We went 2.5 miles south of our house towards the mountains and turned around and came home. Five miles total should be good prep to go 22 miles in two days right?
I had a small blister, but I didn’t think that my boots were an issue and I thought they actually held up pretty well on the short jaunt we took. S and I both were able to carry our packs that distance and felt good with our endurance. We were psyched and ready to go.
So, as I mentioned before we were looking to have our bags carried in, or out, or both. But E’s brother was set on making the trip an accomplishment by carrying our own bags in and out.
The night before the trip we find out that E’s brother was not going to make the trip. We already knew that her dad was not going to make it. So it was the four of us; E and her husband C, S and I.
We met at their house after work on a Thursday and made the drive to small town about an hour away from the trail head. We booked a hotel room and made it there about 11 pm Thursday night. As we pull in, it does not look like the safest motel I have ever been to and there is a Grim reaper mannequin inside the dark window that we had to buzz to get an attendant. The girls were terrified and wanted to stay somewhere else, but we were tired and needed sleep to be ready in the morning. So C and I were able to calm them down, we stayed and I passed out.
We woke up early the next morning and had the continental breakfast. We got to meet the manager that runs the place and she was one of the nicest ladies and very hospitable. Even when she caught us taking a stack of plastic forks to eat our dehydrated meals with she was very gracious.
After were had our fill, we were off to the trail head. We loaded up our packs and topped off our water, hit the bathroom, took some selfies, and started down the trail.
This hike is unique in the fact that you start at the top and drop about a 1000 feet in altitude In the first mile. Then drop another 1000 feet over the next 10 miles. As we made our way down the steepest part of the hike we were feeling great.
We walked with a young Asian kid that had some professional photography equipment and was wearing flip flops. At this point we were feeling a little over prepared.
As you make the journey you see the locals on horseback leading the mules that would have been carrying our bags for a small fee, but instead there we were moving to the side of the path every 20-30 minutes as another group of them passed us while we carried our 60 lb packs.
We were making good time even though we’re stopping to take pictures along the way. The canyon was beautiful and the trail was nice and easy, heading slowly downhill.
The trail is not marked well and I think we thought we were close about 15 different times. Finally we did see a sign that said “You’re almost there,” but even that was about five miles from the village.
The village was a very interesting place. There were some sick horses that looked like they had made the trip up and down the canyon a few too many times. I don’t want to make it sound worse than it was, but it was definitely something that got all of our attention.
There was a small school with a basketball court and most kids were wearing basketball shorts and some outdated Nike’s. You can tell that the hundreds of travelers a day were a necessary inconvenience.
S and E were very excited to make it to the village because it was rumored that there was beer for sale and after hiking 11 miles it would have been well deserved. So after we checked into with the office to get our tent tags, C and I went find a restrooms and the girls went looking for alcohol.
When we found them, they did not find beer, but were being swarmed by bees. They were not aggressive, but they were everywhere. We grabbed our packs quickly and headed to the falls. The first set of falls were only a few hundred yards out of the village. It was an amazing site. They were as powerful as they were beautiful.
It was almost a half mile further to make it to the waterfall that you see in all the pictures. You can hear it as you approach, but can’t see anything until you head down the steep hill past the cliff. But once you see it, it is breath taking. It is the real life version of the picture you looked at a hundred times and with your own eyes it is almost magical. For just a moment the 11 mile hike seems like a distant memory.
We walked past the falls to the landing and started our search for the perfect spot to spend the night. We debated over a spot that was very private and secluded, or an open area with lots of space near the stream. We chose the stream.
This seemed like a great choice until we got visitors. A guided tour group made camp right next to us. About 12 people and 6 tents with basically a full kitchen and all the noise that it brought with them. It did lead to one of the most hilarious moments of the trip. More on this later.
We took some time to locate the water spout that was a fresh naturally running water source for all of the campers. It was very good and we did not need to treat the water at all. We then hiked down to the lower falls which were also amazing, C and S were not feeling very confident about hiking to the bottom of these falls.
The climb did include a kind of sketchy chain handrail and ladder to get down. E and I pushed our significant other’s patience and continued to climb down to get a mid fall view and it was spectacular. This did however lead to the first argument of the trip and C ended up throwing the world’s best natural walking stick into the bushes and we never recovered it. I also did not help them keep a promise to a neighbor friend of theirs that asked them to video tape their first fight of the trip.
We finally made it back to camp, filled up some water and started cooking our dinner. The just add water dehydrated meals were not that bad and actually filled us up. It was at the same time that the large guided tour group was setting up their camp. You could tell there was some awkward sexual tension going on between some of the campers and there was a wide range of skillfulness around a camp site that we were observing. This is where one of the funniest moments of my life happened.
There are no words to describe it. You just have to see for yourself.
We played some card games and had some wine that we carried in a water bladder down. We went to bed early knowing that we had a long hike out of the canyon the next day. Oh did I not mention that. We only stayed one night and had to hike in and out on consecutive days after not hiking for years.
As we got ready for bed the sore muscles and now large blister really started to hurt. It was not a great night of sleep on the hard ground and thin sleeping pad we brought. It seemed like it took forever to get to sleep.
In the middle of the night I did have to use the bathroom, so S and I went together. The bathroom is one of the nicest I have ever seen in a camp site. It was a compost system that you added scoops of wood shaving to your business and it neutralized any of the gross stuff that you anticipate in these types of bathrooms.
The morning was beautiful and the weather was perfect. The birds were chirping and we started making breakfast right away. Dehydrated breakfast is not as good as the lunches or dinners. Runny eggs are not what you need to get your day started. But we still had a ton of Cliff Bars and beef jerky for the trip up the hill.
We packed up with little to no issue and as we were leaving camp our neighbors started cooking real eggs, sausage and hash browns for breakfast. I was more than a little jealous as we went on our way.
As we got to the first falls just outside of the village the girls wanted to get some pictures at the base so we took some time to climb down and get our last pictures of the falls.
These falls are really cool and I wish that we would have spent some time here the day before. But after about 20 minutes we were back on the trail and headed into the village.
S and E stopped at the post office to send a postcard that gets a unique stamp since it is still carried by mule out of the village. Pretty cool souvenir to send home and to friends. While we were in town we had some serious considerations to hiring the mules to carry our stuff out. But, we stayed with the plan and carried our stuff out of town and onto the trail.
By the time we reached the “you’re almost there” sign, the mole skin I put around my blisters stopped working. It was uncomfortable to walk and I didn’t notice that I started changing my stride to compensate.
We took many more stops and water breaks than we did on the way in and took our time making it out. Slow and steady was working as we made it up the 10 miles to the base of the final climb. We were beat up and sore, but the end was so close. We sat down at some man made rock benches and looked up at the trail ahead. This was the moment that we realized that we were out of water. It was devastating. Looking back and the fact that we made it out, we obviously could physically do it, but the mental block of making the climb without water was almost paralyzing.
But we started up the switchbacks. About a 1/4 of the way up another couple with no bags passed us, my wife asked for spare water and they were kind enough to give us a flavored water bottle. We all shared but between the four of us it was not much. We kept going. We had made it up a few more switch backs and there was Gatorade bottle on the ground with a sip of blue deliciousness left. I drank it and my wife looked at me in disgust and asked if I just drank from the bottle on the ground. I screamed back you’re not as thirsty as I am! Her faced changed from disgusted to understanding and turned and started walking.
This is where it got a little scary. C is tough guy from Jersey and is in good shape. But he also has had a couple knee surgerys and the dehydration was not helping. We were taking breaks after every set of switchbacks and it was taking forever to finish this mile. I decided that I just needed to buckle down and go get some water we had in the car and bring it back. I went and I made it. I turned back around to let them know water was coming and to my surprise they were only one switchback behind me and going to make it before I could even make it to the car. So I waited and we celebrated.
E was right. Carrying our bags in and out of the canyon was a great accomplishment. But now that I have earned that merit badge, the next time I go, I am paying for the mules.
With all that said. I hope that if you are reading this it is because you have this adventure of a lifetime already planned. If you don’t, get out a pen, write it down the word Havasupai and add it to your bucket list. It’s worth it.
Editors Note: I didn’t write this as a how to guide, but feel free to Email Questions@1ongball.com if you have questions about things you need to know about the trip.
There are a lot of people that would say nothing. The NBA still has some die hard fans that live and die with with games that happen what seems like almost nightly for months during the regular season. The NBA is exciting and full of masterful athleticism that is beautiful to watch when it is played at it’s highest level.
But there are some real issues when you look at the league and how it is managed right now. Referees have become as big a part of the game as some coaches or broadcasters. Every time I see a referee jump and skip down the court when making a call, I think of some WWE ref and their D level acting. The block charge call has only been outdone, as the most ridiculously missed and scrutinized call in sports, by the NFL’s catch rule.
And then there is the player that jumps in the air to block a shot and how he must navigate not getting a shoulder or elbow into their mid section, to avoid being called for a foul is almost laughable to watch in real time.
Then there is the parity in the league. JJ Reddick just recently tweeted rebutting the super team concept and pointed out that since Lebron went to Miami that 6 different teams have won the chip. While this does address the parity of “super” teams, it does not deal with the overall league parity. The Sixers have been so bad for so long and even the “stacked” western conference only shuffles a few teams around when they send their top eight to the playoffs.
We can cut the lack of parity up so many ways. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan both exited the league this year and in the 19 seasons that Tim Duncan played he or Kobe won 10 championships. That is better than half of the time that two teams from one conference won it all.
Let’s go back even further. Since the first NBA finals that I was alive for in 1984, 10 teams have won a championship. Cleveland, Golden Sate, and Dallas in that time frame are the only teams to only win one championship. The other 7 teams Share the remaining 29 championships together.
Then add in the finals losers. In 32 years, you can add 10 teams to the list that have at least been to a championship. Of those Phoenix, Indiana and Philadelphia are the only one time losers. That leaves 20 teams with fans that are 30 years our younger that have never seen their team win a chip and 10 teams with fans that age that have never even seen there team in a finals game.
Now contrast that with the NFL. The sports powerhouse in the US.
The NFL has 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl and only 6 teams that never been to the big game. What makes that an even more significant difference is that the NFL has two more teams than the NBA.
Lastly, is the product itself. Now hear me out on this one. I love the athleticism and artistry that happens at the pro level. The problem is that Basketball games are played with half of the intensity during the first three and a half quarters and ratchets up in the last six minutes.
This is what makes the playoffs so much fun is that every possession is played at crunch time level. I get that it would be impossible for these guys to play at that level for 82 games a year, but it does dilute the product.
I can watch an entire game and get all the important highlights from a 30 second Instagram video, or in some cases a six second vine. Somehow the game needs to be more important every time the world’s best walk on the court.
Now I don’t like to only point out problems without offering solutions. I think the NBA should change the playoff system. The better team always wins and that can get boring. From the Harris poll above, college basketball is the least popular sport in the U.S., but when March Madness rolls around people go crazy. The win or go home mentality and Cinderella story are fascinating and the NBA could use some of that drama.
Also let’s bring back the value of the big man. I would love to see the NFL adopt the international goal-tending rules. I would love to see Dwight Howard be able to swat away a game winning shot as it bounces around the rim.
I think that the league should also go back to 28 teams. There are easily 24 players that we could remove from the league without the general fan noticing. It is difficult to think of what two franchises would go away, but it would increase the competitiveness.
I still have love for basketball and the NBA is a part of that, but it can be better.
No Surprise here and Barkley beats out undrafted rookie Jake Coker.
David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, and Stepfan Taylor
Again no surprise at the top 3, but great special teams play and trust in pass blocking situations keeps Stepfan on the team. Probably won’t be able to keep Kerwynn on the practice squad after his last two years. I would not be surprised if Ellington is not on the trade block right now. He has not been available for most of his time with the Cardinals and could return good value. If Keim does not like the trade market for him, we will be happy to keep him as a third option as an explosive dual threat.
Larry Fitz, Michael Floyd, John Brown, JJ Nelson, Jaron Brown, and Brittan Golden
The first four guys are locked in. Jaron and Brittan having been here for so long and have a huge advantage to make the roster, especially when you consider they’re big time contributors to special teams. Golden has versatility to play some corner in an emergency which is something Keim and BA love. This may keep one of our late round DBs from the 53 man roster.
Jermain Gresham, Darren Fells, Troy Niklas, and Ifeanyi Momah
Jermain Gresham turned down a much larger contract to stay here in AZ and anchor this group. Troy and Ifeanyi need to stay on the field to round out this position group throughout the season. This group is excellent in run blocking and can create some mismatches down the field. We saw some great production from Fells at times this year too.
Jared Veldheer, DJ Humphries, Mike Iupati, Evan Mathis, AQ Shipley, Evan Boehm, and Earl Watford
The center position is causing some drama this year. Can a rookie take the starting role away from Shipley who was brought into start, but ended up sitting behind Sendline last year after the team resigned him late in camp? Watford can now play four positions on the line with the only exception being left tackle. Meaning that if something were to happen to Veldheer, Humphries would most likely slide over to left and Watford take his spot at right tackle. I think that Rob Crisp has a shot to land on the practice squad again.
Ok, I am now done with the offense and I am looking at the Cardinals’ defense. It is for real. They have guys that are either contributors or are high upside guys that will not make this football team. Unfortunately there are not a ton of names that will draw a ton of trade consideration, but there are guys that will most likely end up on someone’s roster.
Calais Campbell, Rodney Gunter, Robert Nkemdiche, Corey Peters, Frostee Rucker, Red Bryant, and Ed Stinson
This is the deepest group on the team. I have left off the list Josh Mauro and Xavier Williams, both of who the team likes. Xavier is listed as a NT and the lack of versatility could cost him a roster spot this year. Writing out these names makes me very excited. Frostee is another name that could be on the trading block. Again if the value is not there we will be happy to keep his leadership in our locker room even if Peters (returning from Injury) and Nkemdiche (rookie) cut into his playing time.
Chandler Jones, Marcus Golden, Kareem Martin, Alex Okafor, are locked in. Tristan Okapalogu, Shaq Riddick and Zach Waggenman will battle for the last two spots. I think that Waggenman will end up on the practice squad this year, but he did have quite the buzz before getting hurt last year. Okafor could be on the trade block, but I doubt he is not on the roster come game one.
Kevin Minter, Gabe Martin, Alani Fua, Deone Buchanan. Yeah, I am calling Buck an ILB, but this is where he will spend his time until the Cards find a Daryl Washington replacement. Alani Fua is a guy that can also stand up and play some OLB so that helps him make this team.
Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Brandon Williams, Cariel Brooks, and the newly signed Mike Jenkins. If the Cards do end up signing Chris Culliver it could be hard for Brooks to make the roster, but he will be a practice squad target again this year. Harlan Miller has an outside shot at beating Brooks, but should also be a practice squad guy.
Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Tyvon Branch, DJ Swearinger, and Marqu Christian will get a spot as a rookie with his versatility to play some slot corner in addition to safety. Chris Clemons would have made this list, but after his Scottsdale bar incident he may be on the outside looking in.
Can we just have Mike Leach back? But this guy is 6’4″ 240 though.