Category Archives: NFL

First Amendment Is Under Attack, But Not How You May Think

The First Amendment is under attack again, but people are having trouble seeing that Colin Kaepernick isn’t the problem. It’s the rest of us for forgetting how America works.

The Kaepernick “scandal” is dominating the news cycle at the moment. If you haven’t heard, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback decided to sit down during the national anthem during the first three preseason games this month.  He says he’s doing it to highlight racial injustices across the U.S.

Of course, the expected backlash was instant, with people questioning Kaepernick’s patriotism and most suggesting he move to Canada, where his America-bashing would be more accepted.

I learned early on, just don’t bet on sports

Some people in life are “glass half full” people and some are “glass half empty” people. When it comes to my sports teams, I’m usually so negative I don’t even buy the glass.

I have always said I would be a rich man if I could take the Vegas all the negative “gut feelings” I get about my favorite teams. I’m not exactly sure where this pessimism comes from, but I’ve been aware of it at an early age.

Perhaps, it was losing the first bet I ever made that made me take sports losses hard. It was Super Bowl XIV. January 1980. As a six-year-old living in Red Oak, Texas, outside Dallas, I was already a huge Cowboys fan and I constantly wore my oversized Roger Staubach Number 12 jersey for years.

So there was no way I could root for the Steelers to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl — as any self-respecting Cowboys fan shouldn’t. My dad bet me one dollar that the Steelers would win, and I took the Rams. It was the first Super Bowl I remember happening live, and I remember it all down to the “Mean Joe” Greene Coke commercial.

Of course, the Steelers made a late comeback, winning their fourth Super Bowl and becoming the “Team of the 70s” and not the Cowboys. I was so self-aware about how that made me feel, I remember actually analyzing in my head how I was too young to be understanding the long-term implications of the Steelers becoming the team of the decade. I mean, what kid does that? And in the grand scheme of life, who the hell cares anyway?

But either way, I lost my only dollar. It wasn’t a paper bill of course. It was made up of dimes and nickles and pennies I had saved in a Tootsie Roll coin bank. Being a sore loser, of course the tears flowed.

Hoping for comfort from somebody, I quickly realized that when it comes to sports, there ain’t nobody there to help you with that one. You’re on you’re own.

I counted up the money, handed it over to my dad, and, to my amazement, HE TOOK IT!!


How could he actually take it? Isn’t this where he teaches the lesson about how it was good that I was going through with my bet, but he can’t actually take a kid’s money? Nope, he had to go ahead and teach me the even better lesson that you DO pay off your bets and debts that you owe.

The other lesson it taught me: Just don’t bet on sports! My gut rarely steers me wrong and I would hate to bet against my teams continually.

Here’s why I love Mets, Cowboys, Jacks & Suns

by Jason Stone

People have sometimes asked me to list my favorite teams. I’ll do it one better. I’ll rank them.

Here are my favorite teams in each sport, with an explanation why.

1. New York Mets (MLB)

The Mets top my list because for some reason they are the only team that still makes me cry as an adult. I am more of a fair weather fan with my other favorite teams (Yeah, I’ll admit it!). But for some reason I follow the Mets from afar no matter how crappy they are — which is most of the time.

I began following the Mets in the late-70s after living in Flushing and visiting there every year. I didn’t really become a big fan until 1983, right as the monster teams were coming. By the time “Doctor K” Dwight Gooden was dominating the world in 1985, I was hooked. And we all know what happened a year later.

I feel the team is on the verge of something special again in the next year or two, but I don’t want to openly jinx it yet. After all, the exhibition games haven’t even started yet.

2. Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

It’s really hard to be a Cowboys fan. Mostly because of the harassment that comes from other people. It’s usually better to keep it on the down low.  But this has been a lifelong love since living outside of Dallas for a good part of my childhood.

They were the first team I was ever exposed to in the late 1970s, and I can’t seem to shake them now — no matter how frustrating the fan experience has become in the Jerry Jones era.

One of my favorite personal moments was being a reporter during Super Bowl XXX when the Cowboys beat the Steelers. I got to be in the locker room as my favorite childhood team celebrated their fifth championship.

Unfortunately I kind of made a deal with the football gods that experiencing that was enough.  Twenty years later I’m kinda wishing I never made that deal.


3. NAU Lumberjacks (NCAA — alumni division)

Well, I did drop a lot of money at the place as a student for four years, after all.

Nobody really cares about NAU sports, but for some reason there I am every Saturday in the fall listening to that week’s football game, or picking up whatever midweek basketball game happens to be going on during the winter.

I figure since I actually go out of my way to find NAU content, that must mean they’re high up on my list. I just wish more people cared because it sure is lonely being a fan of a team nobody even knows exists.


4. Phoenix Suns (NBA)

I can’t even watch the NBA unless it’s a Suns game. But I’ve invested so much emotional energy over this team — John F-ing Paxson and Robert F-ing Horry’s hip-check into Steve Nash to name two — that I just can’t bail on them yet.

Because of years of near-misses and the above-mentioned bad fortune, they deserve a championship more than any of the teams that I follow.

The 1992-93 season was the peak. Even living 150 miles away in Flagstaff, cars all over the town had windows painted with support for the Suns. I can’t even imagine what it was like in Phoenix that summer.

If there is anything right in this world, the Suns will win it all — someday.

5. ASU Sun Devils (NCAA — non-alumni division)

I began following the Devils’ football and baseball teams when my family moved to Arizona in 1984. That was just in time to catch the 1986 and 1996 Rose Bowl seasons, which were thrilling.

I still think Jake Plummer was ASU’s best player ever, but what do I know. Just seconds away from a national championship in ’96!! Oh, the agony!

As for ASU baseball, I used to love going to those games in high school in what is now former Packard Stadium. I went to most of the home games during the 1990 season. I thought for sure center fielder Mike Kelly was going to be a major league Hall of Famer. I still have never seen a player that good who wasn’t in the majors.

6. Arizona Coyotes (NHL)

I never really followed hockey closely until the Coyotes moved to Phoenix in the mid-1990s. Prior to that I had always lived in places that didn’t have hockey, and before the Internet, you needed a local team to get any kind of regular content in the daily newspapers.

So, I adopted the team that was the Winnipeg Jets, who became the Phoenix Coyotes, and then this season, the Arizona Coyotes.

The Coyotes’ playoff run to the Western Conference Finals three years ago was about as fun of a couple weeks of sports as I’ve ever experienced. Anxiety was high during every game. I would pace up and down aisles at sports bars — and even got to see a couple of the games in person for their famed “White Out.”

7. USA men’s soccer team (other division)

This is a weird one, I know. Not to sound non-patriotic but I don’t generally care if any USA teams or athletes win anything in the Olympics or whatever. I figure, we dominate everything anyway, what does it really matter if we win another.

It’s different with the U.S. men’s soccer team, though. They are still the ultimate underdogs. (I mean, U.S. fans are typically out-numbered even in home games!) Plus, every four years there is a team to root for in the World Cup, which is probably my favorite non-annual sporting event.

Best of the Rest

Arizona Cardinals (NFL)

It’s much easier to be a Cardinals fan since they moved out of the NFC East more than 10 years ago. It was an unbelievable month in January 2009 when it appeared for about 51 seconds that the Cardinals were going to win the Super Bowl. It still seems weird that they were THAT close. I have seen most of this team’s games since they moved to Arizona in 1988, so it’s hard not to like them.

Texas Rangers (MLB)

I don’t follow them on a day-to-day basis, but from the late-70s until the early-90s they were my favorite team, alongside the Mets. This was back in the days when you could have a favorite in both the American and National leagues.

Teams I Used To Like

Dallas Mavericks (NBA)

Before moving to Phoenix, I was a big Mavericks fan during their first three or four seasons in the league. Of course, they were the worst team in the NBA during that time, so I never got to enjoy them winning anything. And since I became a big Suns fan, they became the enemy quickly.

New York Yankees (MLB)

I liked the Yankees for exactly one year. During the 1981 season, I attended my first game at Yankee Stadium, which just so happened to be the first game after the infamous players’ strike that year. Between 1977 and 1981, the Yankees played the Dodgers three times in the World Series, and because I identified with the East Coast more at the time, I sided with the Yankees. Of course, the one time I root for the Yankees is the one time they don’t win.

Phoenix Giants/Firebirds (MiLB)

Yeah, I actually had a favorite minor-league team back in the day.  The Giants (later named the Firebirds) were the AAA affiliate for the San Francisco Giants and they played their games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium when the first pitch temperature was usually around 107 degrees. The best part of those games: the nachos! I can still taste them 30 years later.

Super Bowl Sunday summed up crazy year

It only figures the Super Bowl ended in controversy the way the playoffs shaped up this year.

It seemed every week some team was getting backpack for some good fortune the week before.

First, there were the Dallas Cowboys, who beat the Detroit Lions in the NFC wild-card game, partially thanks to a pass interference flag that was somehow picked up.

The Cowboys’ reward? How about a reversal of their own the next week at Green Bay in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Dez Bryant’s acrobatic “catch” was overturned by replay late in the fourth quarter, ruining the Cowboys’ chances at winning the game.

So, what does Green Bay do with its fortune? Only blow a late 19-7 lead in the NFC Championship game the next week at Seattle. The Packers had their Super Bowl ticket punched with five minutes to go in the game, only to watch the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks battle back to force overtime, then win it without the Packers touching the ball in the fifth quarter.

Seattle then had the honor of receiving the bad karma after good fortune with the infamous “call” we will always hear about until the end of time.

Should the Seahawks have fun the ball at the end? Of course they should have. But it wasn’t as bad as anybody makes it out to be. After all, something was bound to happen in these wacky playoffs.

Ex-Cactus star moves to line to be NFL starter

by Jason Stone

Kyle Kosier plays a game before the game each week.

Since joining the San Francisco 49ers as a late-round choice three years ago, the former Cactus High School football star plays something called “credit card roulette” when dining with his fellow offensive linemen during the week.

“We all put our credit cards into a hat and whoever gets picked has to pay,” Kosier said.

When it’s Kosier’s turn to pay, he knows exactly what to do, having paid his dues to get to where he is today.

The one-time All-State linebacker at Cactus was converted to an offensive lineman at Arizona State University.

That ended up being his meal ticket to the NFL, and now he’s a starter for one of the most illustrious franchises in NFL history.

After seeing sporadic playing time his first year with the Niners, the 25-year-old Kosier ended up starting all but two games last year and entered this season atop the depth chart at right guard.

Kosier is also a backup at left guard and left tackle.

“The one thing about Kyle is, beside football, he’s a really nice person,” said Cactus football coach Larry Fetkenhier, who used Kosier only on defense. “I’m proud of him. But I’m proud of all my former players. I’m proud of the ones that aren’t just successful at football but successful at life.”

Kosier has achieved success on both fronts in a short time.

At ASU, then-line coach Dan Cozzetto asked Bruce Snyder, the Sun Devil’s head coach at the time, to move Kosier to offense because the line was depleted with injuries at the time.

The O-line ended up becoming a natural position for the 6-foot-5, 293-pound Kosier, who ended up becoming an All-Pac-10-Conference selection on a line that featured future NFL players Grey Ruegamer, Marvel Smith, Victor Leyva and Levi Jones.

After receiving phone calls from various NFL teams on the morning of the second day of the 2002 NFL draft, Kosier, a Washington Redskins fan as a child, lasted until the seventh round.

“San Francisco called me and said ‘We’re taking you with next pick,'” Kosier said. “Then I got a call from another team and told them, ‘Sorry, San Francisco just told me they’re taking me.'”

When he got to the Bay Area, Kosier said he remembers the feeling of walking into the 49ers’ complex for the first time.

“It’s neat when you walk in the front door and you see all of the (five) Super Bowl trophies,” Kosier said.

Kosier, who lives in a house in Scottsdale during the offseason, rented an apartment in the Bay Area and began his ascent up the depth chart.

He said that he was used to training camp by his second one, but keeping the energy for a whole season was a big adjustment.

“When we got to Week 8 and 10, it started getting tiring at first because in high school and college that’s almost the end of the season,” Kosier said. “It’s a grind for your first year. By the second year you’re used to it, so it’s pretty easy to adjust.”

His first professional game came in a preseason game in Japan against the Redskins, which Kosier called “weird, but fun.”

Since that game, 49ers coaches have used Kosier all over the map. Last season, Kosier played seven games at left guard, three at right guard and two at right tackle.

The good news for local fans of Kosier is they are guaranteed to see him once a year with the Niners. San Francisco was moved into the Arizona Cardinals’ division his rookie season, making a trip to the Valley an annual treat for friends and family.

If he’s still with the Niners in 2006, he will suit up for a game in the West Valley once the Cardinals stadium is finished.

Kosier said he plans to have a lengthy career.

“I want to go as far as my body will let me go,” Kosier said. “I would love to play 10 years and say I had a successful run.”

Judging by where he is and where he came from, it would be easy to say it has already been a success.

Published at • Sept. 15, 2004