Atlanta’s Risorgimento in Sports

   In the late 1970s, soccer in the United States was still considered in its nascent stages of development. The proximate decade-long odyssey of the original, fledgling North American Soccer League was beginning to assert itself with the arrival of a force majeure known as Pelé.

When Pelé commenced play with the NASL’s New York Cosmos by 1975, he was almost 35 years-old and played 18 seasons professionally in Brazil, but he may have provided the NASL a stay of execution with his mere presence. My father and I were enamored with the aspect of watching capacity crowds at Giants Stadium go into a frenzy over soccer on American network television.

Nevertheless, the demise of the NASL was a fait accompli following Pelé’s retirement and those images of fans’ vociferous support for teams like the Cosmos and Rowdies began to fade until its fatal collapse in 1985. Atlanta’s franchise, known as the Atlanta Chiefs, could only last five seasons before devolving into a footnote in sports history.

          Few would have augured that 44 years later that the formation of the Atlanta United FC would become a sensation in the metropolitan area. During that span, Major League Soccer formed (almost folding itself by 2002) as a replacement for the North American Soccer League and Atlanta lost two National Hockey League franchises relocating to Canada. Although the Five Stripes waited a number of months before the newly constructed palatial Mercedes-Benz Stadium was completed, committed fans turned out in droves at home games held at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field.

As Atlanta United FC transitioned to MBS, the club managed to compete in front of over 70,000 fans during their inaugural season and playoff run. This was an impressive accomplishment for city that is often maligned for being apathetic and disloyal. Some observers felt that this verve enjoyed by the Five Stripes was akin to a one-hit wonder.

        Last Sunday’s first home game of the new season for Atlanta United FC broke another attendance record with over 72,000 against D.C. United. A steady stream of ravenous fanatics traversed corridors of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium frequenting team stores at a steady pace purchasing merchandise to the point of repletion. The Five Stripes did not disappoint as they would take a 3-1 victory.

Many are anticipating another attendance record as Atlanta United FC prepare to face the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on St. Patrick’s Day.  Pregame festivities will undoubtedly eclipse the festivities of last weekend twofold. Atlanta has certainly embraced the Five Stripes its very own and the demographics prove that the team has been effective in reaching the community. Consequently, the fans have bought into this franchise big time!

The Fallacy of the Academics & Athletics Union in Revenue Generating Sports

FROM THE ARCHIVES OF HOSS MARTIN:

 The recent allegations of impropriety regarding star Cam Newton’s collegiate experiences prior to his arrival in Auburn have caused controversy in sports coverage. We may never completely know if any of these accounts have any merit, but this may become a signal of a necessary change in the manner in which we handle big-time college sports in the United States.

As sports fans, we have as much culpability in the situation as do some athletes, universities, and governance with endless allegations of corruption. Of course, these problems are not usually seen in swimming programs, etc. No, these trials are magnified when everyone and their “uncle” realizes that their beloved young sports star has a realistic opportunity to help an institution win a coveted national championship and earn multi-million dollar contracts in the professional ranks.

Sadly, there are cases where the athlete’s domestic life could play a part in decisions that run contrary to the student athlete ideal of the NCAA. Whether the athlete comes from a single parent, two parent, or multi parent (with grandparents) household, struggling financial conditions can fuel the worst behaviors in people who may not normally behave in such a fashion.

It is still amazing to see a person play a sport that used to be merely a backyard b activity being transformed into a career that could potentially uplift the fortunes of a family for a minority of athletes who happen to win the genetic lottery. This is a tremendous difference between the parent working two menial jobs while living in a two-room shack to taking early retirement and living in luxury homes that would have made Jed Clampett say, “Well doggie!”

In all seriousness, there will have to be a fundamental shift in the relationship between revenue generating college sports and professional leagues to help prevent these troubles. The NFL and NBA have benefited greatly from college programs because they have provided them with player development and evaluation without financial obligations. Also, universities in major conferences have benefited from these athletes with lucrative broadcasting rights and ticket sales to fund there initiatives as well.

The only thing that could change this is to require the professionals to fund legitimate developmental leagues that would fairly compensate young athletes who may have little interest in setting foot in a classroom. Also, college programs could continue provide a more subdued athletic scholarship program that would probably mirror Ivy League institutions. They will no longer enjoy the fervor of ravenous fan bases purchasing tickets and merchandise as before but educational standards would be maintained.

Are we willing to change our traditions? It depends if we are willing to watch a “minor” league football contest between Toledo and Birmingham as these prospects prepare to enter into the majors. This would certainly change the way football fans prepare for Saturday games in SEC Country.

 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

 

Philadelphia Eagles: Mean Green Machine

Somewhere the late Chuck Bednarik of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 1960 NFL Title Game champions in a victory over the Green Bay Packers on Vince Lombardi’s first and only championship game defeat in the National Football League is looking upon the 52nd World Championship Game with a wry grin. Ironically, Mr. Lombardi might have a fleering look as well because his titular title as professional football’s greatest coach was preserved thanks to tonight’s 41-33 victory by the Philadelphia Eagles over the New England Patriots.

The lore surrounding the Eagles’ 1960 team was that Bednarik purported to have told Packers FB Jim Taylor in a non-politically correct manner that he could get up now because the game is over after the final play in Philadelphia’s Franklin Field on NBC.  While many people would have been shocked to have imagined that the Mean Green Machine would take approximately six decades to become world champions once again, the franchise would have to endure the ebb and flow of being in the vicinity of a title but falling short. Heck, the Philadelphia Stars (part-time tenants of Franklin Field) of the United States Football League was the only outdoor professional team to win a championship for the municipality in 1984.

            Nonetheless, the Eagles versus Patriots championship became the best title game since the National Football League/American Football League merger due in part to the fact that both teams slugged it out like a heavyweight championship fight. There were numerous times in this contest where either team could have folded under the magnitude of needing to score on nearly every offensive possession.

Many observers believe the signature play of the game was made by Philadelphia during their two-minute drill when the Eagles used an exotic play from their playbook to score a touchdown on fourth and goal from the one when Trey Burton completed a touchdown pass to QB Nick Foles following a direct snap to RB Corey Clement and handoff leading to a 22-12 advantage following the PAT seconds before halftime. Head coach Doug Pederson apparently learned what other opponents save the New York Giants did not when it comes to staying aggressive against the tactician of Bill Belichick.

            Although the Patriots were down at the midpoint, the five-time champions were confident that they would have ample chances to win in the second half, and that fact was proven throughout. Aside from New England’s TE Rob Gronkowski, the remainder of the receiving corps is filled with a myriad of diminutive slyboots who does not often get credited for being the quality athletes that they are. QB Tom Brady managed to make completions time after time in open gaps in the zones of the Eagles’ defense when the pass rush faltered.

            In general, the mettlesome Philadelphia Eagles were able to overcome the perception that most of the nation along with the media did not believe in them and favored the Patriots under extreme pressure to win at all cost. This is why defensive end Chris Long’s objurgation of the media was merited because it seems as if some members have inadvertently become a part of the inner sanctum of the New England Patriots’ dynasty.

Nevertheless, the denouement of the 52nd World Championship of Professional Football culminated on a defensive play by the Eagles when Brandon Graham sacked Brady causing a fumble that was recovered by Derek Barnett, which led to a successful scoring drive and a 46-yard field goal by Jake Elliott leading to a 41-33 final. The manner in which the game was played to that point did not lead must fans to believe that a significant defensive play would forthcoming.

            During the postgame analysis, a well-respected analyst Mike Florio made an error in his promulgation that if all games were played in this hectic pace all season that there would never have been a slight decline in television ratings, but this just conjecture at its worst. Americans are more intelligent than this; we are fully capable of appreciating a defensive stalemate on occasion.

Sports fans were not in favor of the inferior play in some of the contests during the 2017 season with all of the ineffective play calling and underwhelming play overall where people felt that the outcome was already determined. Plus, tonight’s title game was an anomaly because the NFL’s two best teams were competing in the premier winner takes all format. Besides, if football fans were so enamored with passing the football up and down the field without punting, Arena Football would be all the rage these days. Selah

Super Bowl History Rankings

 

51.  Super Bowl XXIV (1990)

San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10

New Orleans, LA

 

50. Super Bowl XLVII (2014)

Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8

East Rutherford, NJ

 

49. Super Bowl XXVII (1993)

Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17

Pasadena, CA

 

48. Super Bowl XXII (1988)

Washington 42, Denver Broncos 10

San Diego, CA

 

47. Super Bowl XX (1986)

Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10

New Orleans, LA

 

46. Super Bowl XXIX (1995)

San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26

Miami, FL

 

45. Super Bowl XIX (1985)

San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16

Palo Alto, CA

 

44. Super Bowl XXXVII (2003)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21

San Diego, CA

 

43. Super Bowl XXXV (2001)

Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7

Tampa, FL

 

42. Super Bowl I* (1967)

Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10

Los Angeles, CA

 

41. Super Bowl VI (1972)

Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3

New Orleans, LA

 

40. Super Bowl XVIII (1984)

Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington 9

Tampa, FL

 

39. Super Bowl 50 (L) [2016]

Denver 24, Carolina Panthers 10

Santa Clara, CA

 

38. Super Bowl XXXI (1997)

Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21

New Orleans, LA

 

37. Super Bowl II (1968)

Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14

Miami, FL

 

36. Super Bowl IV (1970)

Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7

New Orleans, LA

 

35. Super Bowl VIII (1974)

Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7

Houston, TX

 

34. Super Bowl XI (1977)

Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14

Pasadena, CA

 

33. Super Bowl XII (1978)

Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10

New Orleans, LA

 

32. Super Bowl XV (1981)

Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10

New Orleans, LA

 

31. Super Bowl XXI (1987)

New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20

Pasadena, CA

 

30. Super Bowl XXVI (1992)

Washington 37, Buffalo Bills 13

Minneapolis, MN

 

29. Super Bowl XXVIII (1994)

Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13

Atlanta, GA

 

28. Super Bowl XLI (2007)

Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17

Miami, FL

 

27. Super Bowl XXXIII (1999)

Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19

            Miami, FL

 

26. Super Bowl XL (2006)

Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10

Detroit, MI

 

25. Super Bowl XIV (1980)

Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19

Pasadena, CA

 

24. Super Bowl XLIV (2010)

New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17

Miami Gardens, FL

 

23. Super Bowl V (1971)

Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13

            Miami, FL

 

22. Super Bowl VII (1973)

Miami Dolphins 14, Washington 7

Los Angeles, CA

 

21. Super Bowl XVII (1983)

Washington 27, Miami Dolphins 17

Pasadena, CA

 

20. Super Bowl XVI (1982)

San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21

Pontiac, MI

 

19. Super Bowl XXIII (1989)

San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Miami, FL

 

18. Super Bowl XXX (1996)

Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Tempe, AZ

 

17. Super Bowl XLV (2011)

Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25

Arlington, TX

 

16. Super Bowl XXXII (1998)

Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24

San Diego, CA

 

15. Super Bowl XXXIV (2000)

St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16

Atlanta, GA

 

14. Super Bowl III (1969)

New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

Miami, FL

 

13. Super Bowl IX (1975)

Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

New Orleans, LA

 

12. Super Bowl XXV (1991)

New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

Tampa, FL

 

11. Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)

New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17

New Orleans, LA

 

10. Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)

New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29

Houston, TX

 

9. Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)

New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

Jacksonville, FL

 

8. Super Bowl XLIII (2009)

Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23

Tampa, FL

 

7. Super Bowl XLVII (2013)

Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31

New Orleans, LA

 

6. Super Bowl X (1976)

Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

Miami, FL

 

5. Super Bowl XLII (2008)

New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14

Glendale, AZ

 

4. Super Bowl XLVI (2012)

New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17

Indianapolis, IN

 

3. Super Bowl XIII (1979)

Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

            Miami, FL

 

2. Super Bowl XLIX (2015)

New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24

Glendale, AZ

 

1. Super Bowl LI (2017)

            New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28 [OT]

Houston, TX

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoss Martin’s Autobiography

 

My parents discovered my obsession with sports and broadcasting when I “borrowed” their cassette tape recorder in a feeble endeavor to imitate Detroit Pistons’ venerated sports commentator George Blaha back in the late seventies. Of course, they opted to keep that amateur “podcast” for years instead of erasing it in a bribery attempt to be used against me when I got out-of-line. Henceforth, I spent most of my time in barber shops promulgating the merits of why my favorite teams should perform better, but I usually attempted to take notes of signature moments in sports for later usage consequently. Although I attended and received my Bachelor of Science in Mass Media Communications from Oral Roberts University in 1996, I never really had an appropriate outlet for these reflections of previous and current sporting events. I was finally able to unleash over 35 years of hidden frustration when I met DJ Mike (http://djmikeshow.com/), who was the impetus behind the establishment of Sports Round-Up With Hoss Martin on November 23, 2010, under the aegis of Chris Mar Studios. So, please enjoy these postings of blog entries, statistics, and links contained on the website; just do not inquire my parents about that tape mentioned above. Contact: hossmartin@hossmartin.com

Twitter: @HossMartin

Google+: Hoss Martin

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Email: HossMartin@att.net

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