Tag Archives: football

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: Football is back, baby!

It’s that time of year when all I hear is ESPN Sportscenter’s “dah dah dah, dah dah dah” theme song jingle from my cellphone at the most random times of the day.   

It’s the best time of the year because the love of my life is here to visit me. It’s the thing that makes me ecstatic, makes me throw fists full of fury in the air; the one who makes me jump out of my seat and makes me want to pull my hair out at times. He puts me through this grueling 17-week long emotional roller-coaster ride, but I love him. Football season is finally here and that means the Oakland Raiders are back in action!

I woke upon the first Sunday of the season with this joy bursting in my heart. This soon turned to a bitter taste in my mouth that, for the past 13 years, I’ve become accustomed to as a Raiders fan.

My phone flashed as the “dah dah dah, dah dah dah” filled the room with the alert that the Raiders’ starting quarterback Derek Carr was out with a hand injury in the second quarter. To make matters even worse, the team was trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 24-0 by halftime.

Things just continued to spiral downhill for Oakland. Safety Nate Allen injured his knee, which was a big blow for the defense who looked lost the entire game. Allen leaving the game after the first half left the middle of the field open for Bengals’ wide receivers to sprint away carefree. The injuries just kept rolling through. Veteran safety Charles Woodson hurt his shoulder and defensive tackle Justin Ellis left with an ankle injury.

The team got slammed in a disappointing 33-13 loss. Over the years I’ve seen my team get blown out by the end of the first quarter, so this embarrassing performance by Oakland was nothing new to me.

I grew up in a household where family bonding meant watching sports, and that involved watching the Raiders every Sunday. I remember growing up, Mark Acasio, or as most individuals know him by Gorilla Rilla, would stop by our home to pick up some of my mom’s homemade pozole and tamales. He would spend a few hours talking to my brother and dad about football while I ran around screaming “Raider Nation! Just win baby!” He would chuckle and tell my dad he was raising me right.

People always ask me why I continue to be a Raiders fan. My response is always the same, I bleed the Silver and Black and I always will. Even if the team decides to move to Los Angeles to share a stadium with the San Diego Chargers, I’ll still be a faithful fan.  

It’s the wild cheers and high-five celebrations with strangers inside the Oakland Coliseum when Woodson catches an interception that bring me joy. It’s when you see kicker Sebastian Janikowski attempt a 63-yard field goal against the Denver Broncos to make NFL history that keeps me cheering. Last season I stood in the Black Hole with my clothes drenched in water yelling “Let’s go Raiders!” to see my team win their first game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. It was one of the best feelings to see Oakland win after losing for 10 straight weeks. It’s these type of moments that make me love football and the Raiders so much.

I’ve been waiting 13 years since our last Super Bowl appearance to see my team gain their possession as a top AFC team instead of the league’s laughingstock. My prediction for the remainder of the season is Oakland will end with a 5-11 record. There’s still 16 weeks and 15 regular games left in this season. Let’s see where the team goes from here and how they’ll play against the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.
Let’s also see how I survive this 17-week roller-coaster relationship I have with the Raiders. If you see a girl walking down the third floor of the Humanities Building dressed in three shades of black, an iced medium coffee in her right hand, and looks sleep deprived, don’t worry, my relationship with football does this to me. All I know is, I’m just really happy football is finally back!

Katy Perry: A Superstar center stage at the Super Bowl

With her eyes on the prize and with all the preparation in tow, Katy Perry will take the big stage this Super Bowl Sunday, calling it the “biggest event” of her career, according to an interview with Billboard Magazine.

Following the path of other half-time performers, like Bruno Mars, Madonna and Beyonce, Perry has a lot to live up to. So, is she nervous? Most definitely!

“Everyone has been asking me if I’m going to be nervous before the half-time show. I’m like, I’m f***ing human!” Perry said, according to her interview with Billboard Magazine.

So how does one prepare for the biggest performance in America? With the potential of over 100 million eyes watching, Perry has been preparing for game day for quite some time.

In early October when rumors of Perry’s possible performance at the bowl were swirling, Perry was already in the works of making football one of her “new favorite sport[s]”, according to a tweet she sent out during that time.

Perry posts on Twitter about watching football in the eve of the announcement that she will be performing at the half time show.

In attempt to become more of a football fan, Perry agreed to be a guest picker on ESPN’s “College GameDay”. According to an interview with The New York Times,  Lee Fitting, the senior coordinating producer of “College GameDay”, was completely blown away by Perry’s performance.

“When the show ended, everyone’s mouths were wide open. We were all thinking, ‘Wow, now that’s a professional entertainer.’ You can’t teach that. She just has it,” said Fitting to The New York Times

As many celebrities do, Perry has taken to social media to showcase the groundwork her and her team have put in for America’s most-watched act. 

Here’s how she prepared via her Instagram:

Perry pampers herself before Superbowl Sunday. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry began with a face mask, essentially a day at the spa, how I feel many other A-listers would prepare for an upcoming event.

Perry and Watt’s pose for the cover of ESPN’s Music Issue. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry and J.J Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans, took the cover of ESPN’s Music Issue. Catch some behind the scenes photos via ESPN here.

Perry and her puppy attend a meeting for the “puppy bowl”. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry posted a very adorable photo of her and her puppy, Butters, on Instagram. Perry writes that they both were attending a “V [very] important puppy bowl meeting”.

Perry gets a pedicure that look like ten little footballs before she performs at the half time show at the 49th Superbowl. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry is no stranger to being wacky with her mani’s and pedi’s, so it’s expected that she would go all out for the Superbowl. She even wore a football inspired get-up to her Superbowl Press Conference, where she hints at details for the upcoming show. One detail including bringing guest Lenny Kravitz up on stage with her. Check it out here.

Perry poses for the cover of Billboard Magazine. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Two magazine covers in one month? To rise the hype even more, Perry poses for Billboard Magazine spilling her thoughts about the upcoming half time show. “I’m just selling my music to the broadest, widest audience ever,” said Perry to Billboard Magazine. Read the article in it’s entirety here.

Perry posts a photo from her cover shoot with Billboard Magazine. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

On the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday, Perry posts another photo of her cover shoot with Billboard Magazine, making the her followers, and America, anxious.

With over 64 million Twitter followers, more than any other user on Twitter, Perry tweets out a photoshopped photo of her with the comment “Having a great rehearsal, hope everyone has a great Friday!!!”

Perry tweets out a photo of herself photoshopped on Twitter.

With Super Bowl Sunday upon us, we just have to sit back, munch down, and watch how Perry’s performance plays out.

Perry’s final words in the interview with Billboard Magazine rattle anticipation for the show even more, saying that, “This is the cherry on top of everything I’ve already done.”

 

 

 

The End Of An Era

Remains of tailgating at Candlestick Park after the 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals 32-20 on Sunday, Oct 13, 2013. This will be the last season the 49ers play at the 'Stick'. Photo by Benjamin Kamps / Xpress
Remains of tailgating at Candlestick Park after the 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals 32-20 on Sunday, Oct 13, 2013. This will be the last season the 49ers play at the ‘Stick’. Photo by Benjamin Kamps / Xpress

Written by Jake Montero
Photos by Benjamin Kamps

The destruction of Candlestick Park will mark the end of its more than fifty years as a professional sports forum.  It will signal the end of professional football in San Francisco, a tradition of forty-two years that has spawned five Super Bowl champions.

San Francisco’s original waterfront stadium was once seen as a model of modern engineering.  Opened on April 12, 1960 Candlestick Park has gradually drifted to the other end of the spectrum, now considered obsolete both as a sports venue and an aesthetically pleasing attraction.  In early 2014, after the 49ers complete their season, their longtime home will be stuffed full of dynamite and quickly imploded into a pile of rubble, making way for the new Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project.

The 49ers future home, Levi’s Stadium, is currently being constructed in the South Bay city of Santa Clara, with building costs totaling about $1.2 billion.  The 49ers will be the second team to leave Candlestick for new digs, the San Francisco Giants being the first with their departure to then Pacific Bell Park in 1999.

Despite complaints about the stadium’s swirling winds, lack of general aesthetic value and hilariously disgusting trough style urinals, Candlestick’s unique character has set it apart from its contemporaries.  Character that will be sorely missed by those who have shared wonderful experiences within its decaying exterior.

“It’s very melancholy for me, I’m probably gonna tear up for that last game” says Cooper Reynolds, a former 49ers season ticket holder.  “I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember and I’ve never missed a game there.  It’s a pain in the ass to get to, it’s run down and it’s old.  But it has character and history and great moments that are second to none.  That’s something you can’t build.”

For those who have followed the franchise over the years, there is nearly unanimous agreement that the legendary touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship game is one of the quintessential events in the stadium’s history, and in the history of the 49er franchise.

With the Niners down six points in the game’s closing moments, a third-year quarterback named Joe Montana marched his team down the field eighty-three yards only to stall on the Dallas Cowboy’s six-yard line.  On the next play, Montana rolled to his right under heavy pressure from three Cowboy defenders.  Off his back foot, Montana floated the ball over the outstretched arms of six-foot nine-inch Dallas defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones, in what many assumed was an act of desperation.  Miraculously, the fingertips of Montana’s rookie year roommate, a fully stretched wide receiver Dwight Clark, brought the pigskin back to Earth, and sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

In addition to becoming an iconic image, “The Catch” is seen as the beginning of the 49ers 1980s dynasty and the first in a series of memorable playoff games against the Cowboys.

“You probably have to go with the ‘81 Championship game”, says Reynolds when asked about the greatest moment in the stadium’s history.  “Before that play, those guys on the field weren’t the Niners as we know them now.  They’d never been to a Super Bowl.  The play has actually become overrated, but it was their up and coming moment and is certainly remembered most.”

The Cowboys could’ve actually won the game just seconds later.  When Dallas got the ball back with less than a minute to go, the Niners blew coverage and allowed all-pro wide receiver Drew Pearson to catch a pass over the middle with room to run.  A game saving grab of Pearson’s collar by Niners defensive back Eric Wright bailed out the 49ers and squandered any attempt to soil the legacy of Dwight Clark’s now infamous touchdown catch.

“That play literally built the 49ers franchise.  It was a monumental upset,” says Chace Bryson, 35, a season ticket holder who’s been to about seventy games at Candlestick.

The Catch might be the most iconic moment in the stadiums history, but certainly wasn’t the last time the 49ers would score a go-ahead touchdown at the end of an important playoff game.

The 2011 Divisional Playoff against the New Orleans Saints was the first postseason game to be hosted at Candlestick in nine years. In the final minute, the 49ers drove sixty-one yards to the New Orleans fourteen-yard line.  With nine seconds left, quarterback Alex Smith capped off arguably the best performance of his career at Candlestick, by fearlessly firing a bullet to the back shoulder of well covered tight end Vernon Davis.  Davis, who had suffered for five years on sub-par Niners teams, made the catch and held on for dear life, emerging from the pile with his first career playoff victory and tears of joy running down his face.  The touchdown sent the 49ers to their first NFC Championship in fifteen years.

“I was sitting in the upper reserve, in the corner of the end zone facing the Jumbotron,” Bryson says.  “Smith makes the throw to Davis.  I can only describe the feeling as euphoric.  I’ve never heard Candlestick so loud…it was epic.  There were plenty of hugs and definitely some tears.  As far as a stadium experience goes, it doesn’t get better than that.”

Ironically, a stadium that will be most remembered for legendary football moments, is the only current NFL stadium originally built for baseball.  Though it seems like ancient history now, Candlestick was also the home of the world champion San Francisco Giants for nearly four decades.  After the 49ers arrival in 1971, the attempt to convert the stadium into a multi-purpose facility wasn’t without its flaws, leading to many obscured sight lines and left entire sections of seats virtually unusable due to lack of visibility.  San Francisco resident Bjorn Griepenburg has been to upwards of sixty games at Candlestick, the vast majority of those Giants games as a young boy with his father.

“The first time I saw it, it was the first time I ever went to a pro stadium and as a kid it was a spectacular sight,” says Griepenburg.  “I remember I just couldn’t believe the size and the number of people.”

Griepenburg misses Candlestick as the Giants’ home because its lack of extracurricular stadium activities ensured that everyone who made the trek was there to support the team.  He feels that the move to an expensive and polished new stadium alienated some longtime supporters, and that new technological distractions create an atmosphere and a fanbase that is no longer hanging on every play.

“My biggest complaint when they moved was they were moving to a park not built around baseball.  It was all about the Coke slide and the giant mitt,” says Griepenburg referring to the Giants current home at AT&T Park.  “Even as a kid I refused to ride that thing because I thought it was a stupid distraction.  When they left Candlestick it wasn’t the same diehards.  Now it’s a wine and sushi crowd on their cell phones networking.”

Many have complained for years about Candlestick’s obsolete facilities, cramped hallways, lack of women’s restrooms, its “middle-of-nowhere” location, and lack of state-of-the-art technology (have you seen the “Jumbotron”?).  However, that doesn’t stop longtime visitors from feeling more bitter than sweet about the execution of a football cathedral.

“I’ll remember it as a place of happiness, great memories, even in the bad years,” says Bryson.  “Something about football is it’s okay to have a cramped stadium.  There’s some charm in having the leagues most outdated stadium.  It’s part of a collective experience where you suffer along with the players. Fans go for the experience, to pack in with your buddies and everybody is pulling in the same direction. The new stadium feels a little too much like corporate NFL.”

After the 49ers were unable agree with the city of San Francisco on a deal for a new park within the city limits, the move to an alternate location became inevitable.  The new venue in Santa Clara will be the most technologically advanced stadium in NFL history, with an unprecedented Wi-Fi network that will allegedly support access from every fan simultaneously and downloadable apps that tell you which beer line is the shortest.  Unfortunately, the astronomical cost of tickets and distance from the city is going to stop some fans from attending.

“A lot of people including me are being priced out,” Bryson says.  “Season tickets would be double and I’d be driving much farther so there would be much more money involved.  I understand it, but I wish there was a way to keep them closer.”

“Candlestick has that special place in the hearts of the fans,” Griepenburg concludes.  “It rises out of a parking lot in one of the worst neighborhoods, it’s architecturally awful and an eyesore.  But a stadium can become so much more than a place to watch sports.  Stadiums are like church to a lot of people.  It’s one of the last places where you can go where everybody is pulling for the same thing.  It’s just an extraordinary place.”

With the 49ers looking like one of the best teams in the NFC, there is always the possibility for a historical farewell Super Bowl run that would no doubt be a perfect send off.  Regardless, it would be in the cities best interest to give the stadium some sort of farewell aside from the climactic dynamite spectacle.

“I think they should have one more Giants vs. Dodgers series before destroying it,” Griepenburg says.  “That would be perfect.”

Party Poopin’ Pigskin

Photo by AFN- Pacific Hawaii News Bureau
Photo by AFN- Pacific Hawaii News Bureau


The NFL has finally put their foot down after years of watching players like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens party like its 1999 in the end zone.

The NFL has cracked down on taunting this season with the reinforcement of several rules that will essentially prohibit players from celebrating anywhere outside of the end zone—and even there their options are limited.

Good riddance! Why players felt compelled to taunt their NFL brethren in the first place is beyond me. Men have feelings. Just because some men are oversized juggernauts that get paid large sums of money to play a sport doesn’t make them inhuman.

Do they not bleed? Are they incapable of weeping like the rest of us!?

Bravo Commissioner Goodell. It’s good to know that amongst the plethora of problems facing the NFL at the moment—PED testing, player safety, concussion lawsuits, expanded seasons, etc.—that the league has still found time to address this very pressing issue.

The rule outlines what will be penalized, and includes “sack dances, home run swing, incredible hulk; spiking the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent [prolonged and with provocation]; or dancing.”

Wait a tick, did it say dancing? Dancing, as in one of the few things left in the world synonymous with happiness?! Does that mean I may never see something like this again on a football field?

 

 

Well, not exactly. The rule actually prohibits players from doing any of the aforementioned celebrations towards an opponent. As such, players are free to celebrate within the confines of the rules so long as they’re not trying to antagonize the opposition.

It was just seven years ago that the league first banned props and group celebrations, as well as the “throat slash; machine-gun salute; sexually-suggestive gestures; prolonged gyrations; or stomping on a team logo.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t this rob the NFL of some much-needed entertainment and—dare I say it—fun?

“It’s bad for the game,” says football fan and bar hopper Alex Robershotte as he takes a break from the delicious Cheesestake and Sunday Night Football game ahead of him. “I think it’s a natural reaction to celebrate. If you succeed at what you’re trying to do, and you have to be held back from celebrating from that, I think that’s absolutely absurd. And when you’re an athlete who’s amped up on adrenaline, you’re gonna go all out in your celebrations.”

For shame. Are we forgetting about those most affected by the celebrations? Lest we forget that the NFL is not the WWE. Players get paid a lot of money to perform their duties to the best of their abilities and shouldn’t be subjected to such public humiliation as this when they get burned on a fly route:

 

On the other hand, maybe everyone should just chill the fuck out and put everything into perspective.

 

Football is an inherently emotional sport played by some of the most competitive athletes in the world. Naturally, they’re going to do whatever it takes to gain a competitive edge. That includes getting inside the head of their opponent.

Sack and touchdown celebrations add a layer of untapped entertainment to the league. Guys like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were watched not only for their remarkable talent, but because you never knew exactly what they were going to do when they found the end zone. One thing you could always be assured of though was that it would be fun to watch.

The days of watching an NFL lineman breakdance, a quarterback moonwalk, or a wide receiver make untimely phone calls from beside the pylons are in the rear-view mirror now. All that’s left to look forward to is this:

 

 

“The rule is kind of ridiculous,” says San Francisco State student Jeff Palin. “I don’t think the celebrations were really hurting anyone. And I’m not sure why the league even felt that it needed to take action.”

The reasons behind the crackdowns are unclear. Perhaps the rule was instituted to protect the NFL image. Maybe its purpose is to keep angry players from inciting a brawl. It’s possible the league was fed up with diva wide receivers disrupting the flow of the game and shifting the focus from the competition to some over-the-top spectacle.

Maybe it was a combination of all three.

Regardless, fans are left wondering if the rules are even necessary.

“You don’t really see anything exciting anymore when someone scores a touchdown,” says San Francisco State student Andrew Newlee. “Some of those celebrations were hilarious. So yeah, I kind of miss them.”

At the end of the day, football—despite being a multi-billion dollar industry—is just a game.  Someone ought to remind the Commish about that, because at the moment he’s robbing the league of some free and much-desired entertainment, and appears petty in the process.

For example during the preseason, the Jets third-string quarterback Matt Simms simulated that he was firing a pistol, and the NFL fined him $7,875 for the infraction.

For starters, how did the league come up with such a puzzling and specific fine; and secondly, did the crime really fit the punishment?

These rules are hurting the sport, and compelling fans to deem the NFL the No Fun League.

The celebrations are amusing. The only people they’re hurting are those being taunted. If they don’t like it, then they should get better at their jobs. Until then, they should bite their lip and set a good example for the kids watching.

I’m not advocating malicious taunting. Watching someone viciously sack a quarterback, stand over him and talk shit is never a welcomed sight. But something as simple and harmless as this (which was fined $10,000!) should never be penalized.

 

 

So think it over, Goodell. I know you care about the players (or at least that’s what you like to let on), but don’t go overboard here. Loosen up and just let everyone be themselves. Until then, here’s a little something for old time’s sake.