Old GOATS like Tom Brady

DATELINE:  Satchel, Howe, MJ

 old geezers

There’s one in every sport.

Tom Brady is not alone, except in his particular game of choice.

Once in every great sport of major-league proportion, there comes in individual who seems to challenge the notion of growing old, who makes Destiny his puppet.

In hockey that man is Gordie Howe who is scoring goals in his 40s and 50s.  He even had the chutzpah to stick around until he could play hockey with his grown sons as professionals.

In basketball, the man is Michael Jordan who at age 40 scored 40 points in a game. He could not retire until a third attempt at leaving hoops.

In baseball, the man is Satchel Paige who was a MLB Rookie at age 47 and who pitched three innings against the Red Sox at age 59 allowed only one hit. Luis Tiant was his teammate in Cleveland.

So, fans, Tom Brady is in fine company. At age 40 he is leading his team to another Super Bowl.

What did these men have in common?

They could never retire, never wanted to leave the game, never admitted admitted time was the greatest enemy who could win against them. They were obsessed with their game. To them playing their game was a Religion and each of them was a high priest in the arts of sport.

To be allowed to observe and to follow one of these special careers and individuals does not happen often, as you can see from each sport’s history.

Today, in football of the NFL, you are a witness to something that happens only in several generations, and only once in the sport in a hundred years.

You will not see their likes again. And, Tom Brady is not done.





Logo Wars: Michael Jordan v. Gronk

DATELINE:  Sports Deadlock

 logo warsIt takes balls.


Michael Jordan’s silhouette image on all the junk he markets, around since the 1980s, is called Jumpman. We never knew his dunkman had a nickname.

Now, because Gronk has filed an image for his brand of products that resembles a silhouette of an athlete in action, we have a conflict that will be settled in the biggest court/gridiron, that of the boardroom of highly paid corporate lawyers.

Jordan and Gronk are prepared to go head to head, or shadow to shadow for the title King of Greed.

The problem for the two athletes and their endless money making operations is that some dumb kid will confuse Jordan with Gronk. Yes, you may buy a basketball sneaker and think it’s for playing football.

We know our educational systems are dumbed down more than ever—but we thought the emergence of emoji and sign language has sent kids back to the level of cave dwellers with an eye for cave art.

So, you mean they cannot tell the difference between a football shape and a basketball shape?

We are talking apples and oranges here, or at least spheres of another world.

Two tall athletes, arms raised, legs akimbo, holding some totem object is sending legal minds into overdrive. You can never tell when someone may spike a basketball, or dunk a football.

We have seen idiot players score a touchdown and then dunk the football over the goal bar. You can easily forget what sport you are watching.

It’s all the same when it comes to millions of dollars and corporate greed. It’s all part of the modern gladiator combat of American sports. We think Gronk and Jordan ought be holding tridents and nets, versus short swords and shields.

Oh, wait, they already did that sports combat scene in Spartacus. It was Woody Strode versus Kirk Douglas, all for the edification of decadent Laurence Olivier.

We are always happy to assume the role of Olivier in a combat between Gronk and MJ.

Tom Brady & His Birdie

DATELINE:  Worry Free Weekend

Featured image

Like Alfred E. Neumann, Tom Brady says: “What, me worry?”

Tom Brady is obviously not worried about that loss of income from a four game suspension.

Over the weekend that his lawyers filed an appeal to Roger Goodell, Tom took another path.

Instead of seeing an analyst about his problems with deflation, and instead of meeting In heavy tete-a-tete conferences with his raft of attorneys, Tom Brady was photographed in Bermuda on the links.

No, it was not the missing links, but it was Michael Jordan with whom he played golf.

If Tom wants to contrast a game of golf with Roger Goodell’s hideaway from media critics, he has won another round in the public relations war.

Yes, Tom is so worried about his paycheck (losing 25% of his multi-millions) that he chose to golf with one of the most prolific gambling golfers in sports history. We are sure the two played for a modest purse.

It was probably for one week of Tom’s pay.

No word leaked out about the victor. This is not an NFL office where leaks abound. If Tom lost another week’s salary, it shall make his half-billion dollar lawsuit for defamation of character all the more important.

Jordan faced his own demon commissioner back in the day for his gambling habits. His golf wagers are legendary. Tom is undaunted.

Donald Trump feels the litigation will be worth the effort, though some say Tom cannot win defamation because you must prove “intent with malice.”

Oh, yeah, there is no malice involved in destroying a man’s reputation over jaywalking through football games.

Here Comes Billionaire Mr. Michael Jordan!


Today we learned that Michael Jordan, once played by wife killer Michael Jace in a 1999 movie, has reached an exalted plateau in the world.

Though he is considered #1 in the NBA and probably even higher in the world of advertising, here comes Mr. Jordan to a list of distinction. Heaven can wait, and so can trying to fit through the eye of a needle.

If you are old enough to remember the 400 of New York society, you probably are cringing over the 500 world billionaires. Yes, it’s an exclusive club being in the top 1% of wealth.

You know that group probably through some of its publicity hound members, like the demented Donald Sterling and the philanthropic Bill Gates.

Yes, this week the careful investing and uncareful endorsing of many products has rendered Michael Jordan as the latest billionaire. Apparently he gets in under the wire, but what’s a few hundred thousand when you are dunking $999 million.

As impressive a feat as Jordan’s vertical leap into the club of Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet, he has simply taken too long to be self-made. We heard this week that Lebron James may reap in $300million for a deal on one of his investments, thus making him a possible billionaire while still toiling on the courts of the NBA for a living.

Most billionaires own the franchise and don’t play for it.

Of course, Michael Jordan never let being a billionaire cramp his style. Mr. James may be king for a day or two, but if he has another Finals cramp, his style will be sorely hurt. No amount of money can buy your way out of that kind of bad publicity.

If you feel compelled to congratulate either of these men for being self-made success stories, be advised that there is little Old Money floating around nowadays. Most billionaires have made it the old-fashioned way: they earned it doing tacky TV. Just ask Donald Trump or Mark Cuban.

Great Sports Stories: The Legendary Films (excerpt)

The following is an excerpt from GREAT SPORTS STORIES: THE LEGENDARY FILMS by William Russo. Book is available from Amazon.com in both softcover and ebook format.


American Hero: the Michael Jordan Story (1999) shows all the problems with doing a definitive docudrama before the story is over. Done before one of his comebacks, this examination of Jordan’s life suffers from the knowledge that more is to come.

Playing Michael Jordan in an unauthorized biopic insures detractors, and actor Michael Jace was resoundingly penalized on a number of points, but frequently for failing to be a double for the original. Nonetheless, his performance was sympathetic and critical at the same time, and he conveyed a sense of a superstar athlete who must remain oblivious to fame, if only to maintain his equilibrium.

 The film itself enjoys the limits of small budget and small screen viewing. Criticized for not being something it could not be is not fair. The actors are doing a family version of events, and even so, the storyline is seemingly daring in its criticism of Jordan’s decisions. Facts, as usual in docudrama are condensed, and events altered in time, date, or location, but the spirit of the character remains a point of study. Like Davy Crockett or Billy the Kid, Jordan must endure mythic trappings while alive. It may be a sign of his future growth as legend.

Whether Michael Jordan turns out to be the hero of his own life, the movie’s script does not show. As a marketing monster, Jordan’s endorsement of endless products and amusing television commercials made him a home staple, familiar and likeable. But, as his life story indicates, it takes more than on-the court dynamics to make a hero; Michael Jordan is an unmistakable star, but words like hero have lost their validity in the new world order of sports, and as the Space Jam continuum proves, a hero is nothing more than a living cartoon.

Michael Jace’s Worst Role


jace as Jordan

Michael Jace as Michael Jordan, 1999

In 1999 he played Michael Jordan in a Fox TV docudrama. Now he plays a murderer in real life.

The latest celebrity killer has a history of playing roles in every crime show on television for the past twenty years. From guest roles on Murder She Wrote to CSI and his series featured acting on The Shield, Michael Jace has been reading scripts about murder and idiosyncratic killers.

It’s no wonder that the stuff wormed its way into his brain, leading to him shooting and killing his wife in front of their children.

Whatever the motives, we are more intrigued that the other great role in Jace’s career was to play Michael Jordan, smaller than life.

The role brought him instant attention, but never did help his rise up to the next level of actors. He did not go on to a theatrical movie career. He stayed small screen.

Playing Jordan, the legendary NBA star that parlayed his career into sort of a Bill Cosby-style athletic figure. Michael Jace, the actor, found himself up against the most recognizable face of his era, Michael Jordan, when he tried to act out the role in an unauthorized biography.

Of course, the movie in which Jace played Jordan showed the darker side of a celebrity—where gambling and murder of his father by criminal elements cast a dark shadow on his fame.

Suffice it to say, when you buck the trend and make a beloved figure look dubious, you may be putting your own life into the darker side. So, it seemed to be for Michael Jace.

Playing a police officer with personal problems on The Shield was only a step removed from playing an athlete with personal problems to being an actor with personal problems.

Michael Jordan never turned to the world of violence that O.J. Simpson, Oscar Pistorius, or Aaron Hernandez reached. But, his own screen impersonator, Michael Jace, has hit that nadir.

Lebron James: Cartoon Mascot at Heart



Move Over, Oscar (Robertson, that is)

Word has come out of Toonville that the looniest cartoons are celebrating the sequel to 1996’s Citizen Kane of animation. Yes, we speak with ironic reverence of Space Jam.

In the world of bad movies, you need Porky Pig to show you how to find the truffles.

And, the silly symphonies of Mighty and Mickey made an icon out of Michael Jordan in his audacious film debut. Jordan was sentenced to his element, trapped in a Technicolor cel.

And now, for those too dumb to realize, history is about the repeat itself with Lebron James taking on the role of Elmer Fudd.

Space Jam 2 has all the earmarks of an Oscar winner, starring one of the biggest wieners of the NBA. If Lebron thinks such a film will put him into the pantheon with King Kong, Godzilla, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, he is sorely mistaken. Those were great roles played by great actors.

Worse yet, we have heard that Lebron recently broke his nose with a poorly executed flop. His beauty will now turn beastly until he has his rhino job. The camera never lies when it comes to sex appeal.

What happened to the grand days of great athletes taking the screen? We recall the highly respected Woody Strode who could tangle with spaghetti Western villains and Spartacus with equal adeptness and dignity. He would never be caught dead in a sequel Space Jam.

Dare we point out to Lebron that the original Space Jam convincingly ended Michael Jordan’s movie career?

Of course, there are many who believe that Lebron can give Roger Rabbit a run for the warren while tumbling into Wonderland and Tinsel Town simultaneously.

With careful direction by a director like Spike Lee or Kenneth Branagh, Space Jam 2 may rival Vertigo, Casablanca, and Lawrence of Arabia for sheer audacity. Those films never allowed a flopper to be the star.



Michael Jordan: Old Man, Got Game


Reports are coming out of left field that Michael Jordan, the ostensible greatest NBA player of all-time, plans a return to the game at age 50.

Not since 70-year old Ty Cobb considered a comeback to baseball have we heard such a tall-tale. Cobb felt he could hit about .270 at age 70, which would embarrass his career figures.

After watching the space rock flying over Russia, Jordan may feel that ‘dem bones, dem bones’ are ready for meteoric leaps once again. He is now reliving Space Jam as if he has become a cartoon character.

No such fears have come to Michael Jordan. He has lost forty pounds of trouble and is back to playing weight. If a heavy weight were the only impediment to acting like 20 at 50, we’d see more geriatric leagues.

If Jordan returns, could he play for the team he owns? How much would he have to pay himself?  More important, can the decimated Celtics sign him?

We wonder if the cost of having EMTs and an ambulance on call would be prohibitive.

The age of retirement may be increasing on a regular basis, leading to longer adolescence and longer waiting times at the orthopedic surgeon’s office.

In Michael Jordan’s case, the word “retirement” may not be part of his linguistically-challenged life. He came out of retirement many times when younger.

Now after a long haul of riding off into the sunset, he has returned again like a bad franchise movie with Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone.

Immortality has long been an impossible dream, but like Don Quixote, Michael Jordan has created a new metaphor for AARP ratings.