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Archive for the ‘Jews and football’ Category

 

Mish-Mashing (Trying to catch up)

Posted on: May 15th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Things have been a bit hectic of late, what with looking for a new job and dealing with the release of the new book. So here’s a quick look back and what we (meaning I) have missed over the last several days.

Yes, the NFL draft is over, but wait — there’s more.

Posted on: May 4th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Adam Bisnowaty, an offensive lineman from Pitt, was the only Jewish player selected in the recent NFL draft (sixth round by the NY Giants), but that doesn’t mean he was the only Jew signed.

As stated in a previous entry, the NY Jets snatched up former Washington State University wide receiver Gabe Marks immediately after the last round. Bob Wechsler, author of Day by Day in Jewish Sports History and constant source for the Korner, wrote to let us know that three more MOTs put their name on the dotted line (is it really dotted anymore?). They are:

 

Image result for Anthony Firkser Image result for Brandon Kublanow Svmmpeehjpsxandzkbuz
Anthony Firsker Brandon Kublanow Mitchel Kirsch

If Firsker makes it, he would join QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in what would have to be a relatively small club of Harvard alums on the same team. Only 38 players from that school have played in the NFL.

It’s up to you, Bisnowaty and Marks

Posted on: May 1st, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Adam BisnowatyIf they can make it there, they can make it anywhere. I’m talking about Adam Bisnowaty and Gabe Marks, a couple of  landsmen who were signed by the New York teams over the weekend.

Bisnowaty, a 6’6″ and 304 pound offensive lineman from Pitt, was the final pick by the New York Giants and 202nd overall selection. He went in the sixth round, which was held on Saturday.

From NFL.com:

Four-year starter with plenty of toughness. Appeared to struggle with an athletic decline in 2016, which could be due to his injury history.

In a phone booth, Bisnowaty can handle himself with pure brawn and power, but once he’s forced to play in space, his athletic limitations become more pronounced. He’ll likely have to move to the right side, but athletic opponents will always cause him problems. His ceiling could be as a low-end starter while his floor is fighting for a roster spot within a couple of years.

Washington State Cougars wide receiver Gabe Marks (9).Wide receiver Marks signed with the New York Jets following his record-setting career with the Washington State Cougars. Although he was not selected in the draft, the Jets must have thought enough of him to grab him immediately after the final selection had been made.

According to a story in the Seattle Times, Marks went undrafted because, among other things, NFL teams thought his PAC-12 statistics were “inflated” and he lacked “standout measureables.” In other words, the “undersized” Marks (5’11”, 189 pounds) was ranked lower than a lot of other wide receivers.

Here’s hoping they both make it. That way there will always be a MOT at the Meadowlands.

There’s a draft: Jews and the NFL

Posted on: April 26th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

The NFL draft begins tomorrow. It’s amazing how much of a media event it’s become over the past few years, worthy of prime time/daylong coverage by ESPN and the NFL network.

I’ve been holding back on a lot of the football Google alerts I’ve been getting lately because, well, frankly, I think the NFL gets too much coverage when it doesn’t deserve it. But bowing to the inevitable, here we go.

Adam Bisnowaty

Adam Bisnowaty

Wither Pitt offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty? According to CardiacHill.com, “NFL.com has him as a fifth rounder.”

Gabe Marks

Gabe Marks

And what about Gabe Marks, late of Washington State? How will his shtick play in the big leagues?

UCLA QB Josh Rosen isn’t ready for the draft…yet. Now a junior, he missed most of last season with an injury, but he still garners a lot of attention.

As far as established JFLers go, Ali Marpet is slated to move over to the very responsible center position, which football pundits think is a good idea and which he is greatly looking forward to. And Mitchell Schwartz looks forward to a great year with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Are you ready for some football? (I’m not)

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

When did football become a 365-day-a-year thing? Seems like they’re really pushing to keep it in the limelight just as the NHL and NBA are heading into their post-season and baseball is about to begin. Attention hogs.

Now that Geoff Schwartz is no longer playing, look for a lot more analysis and commentary, like this one in which he opines that his brother Mitchell’s team, the Kansas City Chiefs, should acquire Tony Romo, the quixotic QB for the Dallas Cowboys. Mitchell’s thoughts are closer to home.

He wasn’t picked for the Pro Bowl, but New England Patriots special teams star Nate Ebner picked up honors as “International Rugby Player of the Year” by the Samurai International RFC.

How long before Gabe Marks, formerly a star at Washington State University, joins the pro ranks? Seems like he’s got the interview thing down, although he might have to tone things down a bit as a rookie.

Marks may have some company in the NFL in Adam Bisnowaty, an offensive lineman previously with Pitt.

 

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Shalom, Geoff Schwartz

Posted on: February 22nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

In this case, I’m using the word for both “goodbye” and “peace.”

It should not come as a giant surprise that the former Giant (and Panther and Viking and Chief) has announced his retirement. He did not play last season and only appeared in  13 of 36 games for New York over his two seasons with them due to an unfortunate series of injuries.

Image result for geoff schwartz familyOne of the things Jewish football fans appreciated about both him and his younger brother Mitchell — who is already being recognized as one of the best at his O-Line position — was how they embrace their religion. They were frequent guests at Jewish day schools and JCCs and earlier this month, they were among a group of local personalities inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. I found it charming that their recent joint memoir, Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith, started off with the family celebrating Hanukka. Sweet.

Geoff wrote about his decision on SBNation. I’m sure he’ll do well; he spent the past season as an analyst for several on-line and broadcast outlets. And despite all the enjoyment he and his family have received through the sport, I can’t help thinking they’re kind of glad he’s getting out while he’s young and in relative good health.

Mazel tov, Geoff, and thanks for the memories.

Image result for geoff schwartz family

Because there’s no real off-season for football…

Posted on: February 16th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

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It’s all in how you parse it (Julian Edelman)

Posted on: February 7th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan 1 Comment

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman managed to get his fingers underneath the ball and keep New England’s tying drive alive in the Super Bowl Sunday night.

So I’ve been in contact with the editors of the Jewish Sports Review following a bunch of articles about Julian Edelman. Thanks to his miracle catch in the Super Bowl, all of a sudden everyone is manic to proclaim him as the Jewiest Jew to ever don shoulder pads. The Forward mentions him in the same breath as Sandy Koufax; that’s just nuts.

But the folks at JSR are still not ready to admit him to the fold, officially. Yes, he’s said a lot of good stuff and he’s visited Israel but that doesn’t make him Jewish, according the longstanding criteria of the Review.

That’s why I was somewhat amused by this article from the Miami Herald which begins, “It isn’t every day a football player with Jewish roots becomes a Super Bowl hero…” Just by adding the word “roots,” you change the whole identity process. There’s not saying he’s Jewish, per se, but that he does have “connections.” Nicely done.

On the other hand, this headline from NYBlueprint, a site that bills itself as “The Jewish urban event guide,” declared “Jewish player makes football history.” That, to me, is questionable. He caught a football in a crucial game. That the catch contributed to what was indeed a historic comeback, I give you. But Edelman himself making history? How? It’s not really explained in the brief item. I guess everything you do can be considered history in the true sense of the word.

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Here we go again (Julian Edelman)

Posted on: February 6th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

http://www.jta.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/edelmanallthree.pngI knew this was going to happen. Julian Edelman makes a few good plays in the Super Bowl and right away we’re ready to claim him as one of our own.

As I’ve said often, I go by the Jewish Sports Review criteria which made a decision quite awhile ago that Edelman did not qualify as a MOT. Since then, however, there has been a concerted effort to put him in situations where that assumption would be made. This includes a well-documented trip to Israel and a bunch of memes and photos that employ Jewish iconography. —–>

You never know what’s in another person’s heart, but I have wondered if this is like the episode of Seinfeld in which the star’s dentist converts to Judaism “for the jokes.” I wonder if Edelman — whose father is Jewish but his mother is not (so halachically he would not be considered Jewish) — would have made these big gestures if the owner of the Patriots wasn’t Robert Kraft who is very involved in Jewish life, including building a football stadium in Israel.

You can read the latest JTA on Edelman here.

Sure, he’s a great player. He made a catch in the amazing comeback that will be added to the list of “greatest ever.” But are we that desperate that we’re willing to bend the “rules” like this? According to the new JTA story, “Until recently, there was some debate over whether Edelman was Jewish — the Patriots maintained that he was raised Christian, despite having a Jewish father. But since identifying himself as a member of the tribe during a 2013 interview on the NFL Network, Edelman has shown his Jewish pride a number of times.” (emphasis added)

In that link to the interview, Edelman says,

While his father has Ashkenazi roots, this is what Edelman had to say on the topic on a media day before his previous Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots in 2012:

“Well, I’m not completely Jewish, if you know what I mean. I know people want me to be. My father is Jewish. My mother isn’t. I’ve been asked this before. I guess you could say I’m kind of Jewish but not really.”

For the record, while traditional Jews believe one must have a Jewish mother or convert in order to be considered Jewish, both Reform and Reconstructionist Jews recognize patrilineal descent.

In an interview with the NFL Network last season, Edelman asserted more clearly that he is in fact Jewish. When asked for some “good Christmas answers” to questions from one broadcaster, Edelman said, “Well, I’m Jewish, but I’ll try to keep it to Hanukkah presents even though Hanukkah’s over.”

“Kind of Jewish but not really?” If that’s not waffling worthy of political candidates…

I haven’t seen anything in the interim to convince me that Edelman is any more Jewish so I’ve got news for the JTA: the debate is not over.

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‘Super Bowl’ memories past and future

Posted on: February 3rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

As this Sunday is “the Big Game,” I thought I’d do a flashback Friday kind of thing. Here are some stories I wrote over the years for the NJ Jewish News on the Super Bowl:

Alan Veingrad

And to round out this Sunday’s event, here are a few more items.

 

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