Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Friday, January 30, 2009

And the winner of Super Bowl XLIII is?

Are you ready for some football?! I think this Super Bowl will be very exciting and intriguing. It should be a great game and I’m looking forward to Sunday to see it all unfold. I hope it lives up to the hype.

To play championship football a team must play solid defense, run the football effectively, and avoid turnovers. If you look at all Super Bowls played up to this point the teams that did the latter hoisted the trophy.

The Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers are ready to do battle. I’ll chronicle what I believe each team must do to win before I’ll let you know who I think the winner will be.

The Pittsburgh Steelers:

Everyone knows the strength of the Mike Tomlin led Steelers is their defense. They are giving up just 14 points per game entering Super Bowl Sunday. They have Troy Polamalu and James Harrison anchoring the defense. To win the defense must force Kurt Warner out of the pocket in hopes of disrupting his rhythm. This will be best accomplished by blitzing Warner, particularly on third and long.

The Steelers defense must force turnovers and stop the resurgent running attack led by Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower. If they stop the run the Cardinals will become one dimensional in their offensive attack.

The secondary must not allow Larry Fitzgerald to beat them deep. The Steelers corners need to jam the Arizona wide receivers at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the Arizona attack. They must force Warner to go this second and third reads. Also, the defense must keep Arizona in third and long situations. As the game progresses this will force Warner to beat the Steelers with his arm.

Willie Parker must have a yeoman’s performance running the ball. He’s missed five games this season but looks to be in good form now. Parker’s running can keep Warner and his high octane off the field thereby nullifying Arizona’s strength which is scoring points.

Santonio Holmes must come up big as a receiver and provide the Steelers with good field position on punt and kickoff returns. Nate Washington must also look to get deep. We don’t know how healthy Hines Ward will be entering Sunday’s contest but I expect him to leave whatever he has on the field.

Last but not least Ben Roethlisberger must do more than manage the game. He must ensure they score touchdowns in the red zone and not settle for field goals. He must take shots down the field to Holmes and Washington.

Roethlisberger needs to use his mobility to make plays. He needs to get rid of the ball quickly by running slants, crosses, and seam routes to Holmes, Ward, Washington and tight end Heath Miller. If nothing is there simply throw the ball away.

Coach Mike Tomlin must ensure his team is aggressive on both sides of the ball. They have to do what they do well when it matters the most.

Go defense!

The Arizona Cardinals:

Ken Whisenhunt’s team is playing awfully well on both sides of the ball. Their suspect defense has been playing awfully well this month. Lead by Darnell Docket and Antonio Rogers-Cromartie the Cardinals are stopping people with unexpected precision.

Yes, the defense is playing well but the strength of this team lies in Kurt Warner’s arm and Larry Fitzgerald’s hands. Warner and Fitzgerald must come up big for this team to win. The Edge must run the ball effectively. He doesn’t have to run for a 100 yards but he needs to run it enough to keep Pittsburgh’s defense on guard. This will set up play action plays down the field to the Cardinal receivers.

The Edge is one of the best blocking running backs in the game. Having him in there will help Warner ward off the Steelers blitz. He can also bounce out for screen passes to hopefully gain positive yards.

The Cardinals trio of receivers of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston all went over 1000 yards receiving this year. J.J. Arrington has played well coming in on third down catching the ball out of the backfield and blocking. I expect one or more of the latter players to play a big role in Sunday’s game.

Warner cannot make mistakes. The Steelers defense will be coming hard so he must get rid of the ball. With his rapid fire release Warner should be able to nullify the Steelers blitz by running slants and crosses or throwing the screen to James, Hightower, or Arrington out of the back field.

The key to the Cardinals winning is their defense. If the defense can stop the run they will give Warner’s offense more opportunities to put points on the board.

Coach Whisenhunt, like Tomlin, must be aggressive and go for it. Many think the Cardinals were not supposed to be here. This can be used as fuel for them to play free in beating a team many think they can’t beat.

And the winner is?

After analyzing what the two teams’ strengths and weaknesses are I believe the Arizona Cardinals will hoist the trophy and here’s why. When I look at both teams they are evenly matched. Looking at their offense, defense, special teams, and coaching they mirror one another in many ways, but there are some subtle differences that gives the Cardinals a slight edge.

I think Warner will have enough time to throw the ball to his receivers when he needs to. He has too many weapons on offense for all of them to be shut down. Yes, he’ll be blitzed and sacked a few times but not enough to totally halt their offense.

Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles defense.

The Edge will come up big. He wants to win a ring bad and he’s auditioning to show other teams he can still get it done.

Yes, the Steelers defense is stellar but their best players on this team are on defense. To win they must score points on defense and I don’t see that happening. Roethlisberger must do more than manage the game. The Cardinals defense will put enough pressure on Big Ben to force him out of the pocket which will translate into mistakes.

Parker will get his share of yards, but I don’t see that translating into points. The Steelers have had problems scoring in the red zone during the playoffs. Their playoff games were won by narrow margins on their home field.

Well, aren’t you supposed to win at home?

Meanwhile the Cardinals went down to Carolina and beat the pants off the Carolina Panthers in convincing fashion on the road. The Panthers were ranked by many experts as the best team in the NFC. The unheralded Cardinals defense forced Jake Delhomme into five interceptions and shut down their running attack.

Remember that?

Yes, the Steelers are rich in tradition and have a glorious past. But on Sunday that will mean very little. The Cardinals are out to prove to the world that they didn’t need the endorsement of the “experts” to validate their success. I can relate to the latter because I’ve engaged in activities as journalist that I’m not “supposed” to as a freelancer. The Cardinals won’t need the “experts” love on Sunday.

The Cardinals are led by a guy who bagged groceries during his career to make ends meat. No one thought he could play in the NFL 10 years ago. Two league MVP’s and a Super Bowl ring later Kurt Warner is looking to add to his legend. He’s seen he high’s and lows in life and sport. He understands what this moment is all about and the rest of his teammates will follow his lead.

Yes, the Steelers have the best defense in the game. While the experts suggest defense wins championships I beg to differ. Defense by itself doesn’t win championships, it helps to win championships. Besides, the last time I checked the trophy goes to the team who scores the most points-not the team with the best defense.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Mike Tomlin and respect the Steelers and all their tradition. I think Tomlin was the best coach in the N.F.L. this year. He’s the youngest coach ever to coach in the Super Bowl and the third African American to coach in the sports biggest game as we kick off Black History Month. From a personal standpoint I’d love for him to win this game. It will open the door for more African American coaches in the college ranks and the N.F.L. to aspire to be what they see.

But as a sports fan and a professional journalist I have to call it like I see it.

Final score: Cardinals 31, Steelers 17.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Did Obama's inauguration speech match the moment?

Some critics believe President Obama’s inauguration speech was somber and simplistic. Is there some credence to this?

Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia was filled with substance. His acceptance speech in Denver was on point and the one he gave in Chicago after beating John McCain was short and effective.

Obama’s inauguration speech was average at best when one considers the gravity of the occasion. I was prepared for a riveting speech that never came. The President merely restated most of his rhetoric from his campaign: he left out items that should’ve been addressed while he had the world in its collective seat.

I think his speech should’ve gone something like this:

“For centuries people who look like were largely excluded from pursuing the American dream. Not anymore. Only in America could my dreams manifest. As look out at all you beautiful people here today I’m blessed. Nothing worthy of lasting accomplishment can be done alone. As I stand before you as your President of the United States I thank you for your time, energy, and your votes.

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King. In 1963 King stood at the other end of this mall (pointing) at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his moving “I Have a Dream” speech. King’s dream called for us not to be judged by color but by the content of ones character. Today a part of his dream lives. Unfortunately in 1968 we buried this great man. But today indicates we’ve continued his plan. We’ve happily and peacefully gathered here today and rallied around a common goal and that goal was to make me the President of your United States.

Today I’ll begin residing in the White House. It’s a home built by the hands of slaves. Slavery was a horrific part of our history that’s yet to be critically addressed. Collectively our social consciousness still isn’t where it should be but today demonstrates we, the American people, are on our way. Due to your open minds and your votes today I’ll walk through the front door of the White House as your President.

As I look out and see people from all walks of life and from around the globe it’s beautiful to see. But I still need your help. I want you to bottle this warmth and love you feel for this moment; go back to your homes and share it with your neighbors. Take the love back to your communities and try display it the rest of your days. Believe in your fellow man, woman and child like you’ve believed in my ability to restore this country.

We can fight social ills like racism the same way we banded together to make history today. We often think African American and white when talk about racism. It’s bigger than that because racism ultimately affects us all. There are some dark truths we must face about the historical development of this country. We’ll one day get to a point where African Americans being the “first” will not be a big deal. My being President won’t diffuse racism but I can help slow its spread.

Freedom fighters like Harriet Tubman endured slavery but she had help. Post-slavery African Americans were still treated as second-class. The likes of W.E.B. Dubois, A. Philip Randolph, and Jackie Robinson, suffered so we’d have a better country today. But they had help.

African soldiers fought for freedom in the Civil War, World War I, World II, and the Vietnam War: they were fighting for first-class citizenship while being treated second-class. Over time the oppression subsided because African Americans had help.

What am I saying?

There has never. I repeat. There’s never been a movement in this America where some white people didn’t lay down their lives for us. My Presidency wouldn’t be possible without all of you. We won this election together. Today represents what the United States of America should be about. We all UNITED in a loving STATE to make AMERICA better!

I know we’ve been engaging in an unpopular war far too long and the economic conditions are bad. But ladies and gentlemen those problems are miniscule compared to the social diseases that have hampered our ability to live as one for centuries. They fail in comparison to finding a cure for cancer and AIDS and living together as one! The various social, political and economical diseases have dwelled in this country far too long.

The time has finally come for us to truly unite like we’ve done today to build a better America for us all tomorrow.”

Sounds good to me, what do you think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Presidency; signed, sealed, delivered

Jan 20. Barack Obama was sworn in as Americas 44th President of the United States in front nearly 3 million people in Washington D.C. Jan 21st Obama began the monumental task of restoring America while simultaneously embracing history in becoming the first African American ever sworn in as President.

I was blessed to be in attendance. I had a great view to watch history unfold while fighting the bitter cold for six hours.

This event was so vast it temporarily paralyzed my ability to write: the experience filled my brain with a litany of thoughts. I just kept thinking how could I give this historic moment it’s just due?

I hope I can pull it off.

My journey to witness history began at 6:15 a.m. As I encountered hundreds of thousands of people during my journey I kept muttering to myself, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” In preparing this commentary I suddenly arrived at a conclusion: I’ve never seen anything like this before because there hasn’t been anything like this before.

Did we see Obama’s greatness coming? I personally would have to say no. Just forty years ago African Americans were second class citizens and today Obama is President?

Rarely do we receive advance notice when we’ve been touched by greatness. We didn’t see Jackie Robinson coming in 1947 when he integrated Major League Baseball. His greatness ultimately fueled the Civil Rights Movement. We didn’t receive notice Martin Luther King was coming. His work, along with other nameless warriors, helped shaped what we see in Obama today. We didn’t see Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary” message coming either. Though many attempted to mute his voice his words still exudes greatness today.

I guess greatness doesn’t have to grant us advance notice-we should just be thankful we can someday grace its presence.

On Jan 20th a portion of King’s dream, harmony, was realized albeit temporarily. Seeing the old, young, rich, poor, men, women, and children witnessing history was fascinating. Seeing so many different colors and creeds was really a beautiful site. As I rode the packed metro train to downtown D.C. a passenger happily remarked, “It’s great to see so many people happy and getting along.” I replied, “It is great, but we need to find a way to extend what’s happening today into the future.”

I experienced a wide range of emotions at the ceremonies. When thinking about the historical development of America for a fleeing moment I was uneasy. I thought of the rise of American slavery and racism. Pre-Obama every President we’ve envisioned has been a White male. Now that’s changed. When I thought of the universal persistence African Americans have historically displayed fighting oppression my mood quickly changed from being uneasy to happy.

I looked around at the millions of people fighting the cold with a universal smile who were there to see one man. Then as a human being I became optimistic about what the future could hold.

I think this occasion was the culmination of the historical transgressions that’s taken place over time that’s paved the road for Obama. I think this can be viewed as a case of, “what goes around comes around.”

Let me explain.

During the late 1700’s slaves were instrumental in building the White House. Eight of the first twelve Presidents owned slaves. The first President, George Washington, brought his slaves with him while in office. So did fellow “Founding Father” Thomas Jefferson.

Benjamin Bannecker was instrumental in surveying the city D.C. Frenchman Pierre L’Enfant was the chief architect hired to design the city but he was fired and he took his plans with him. From memory Banneker reproduced L’Enfant’s plans from memory in two days. Without his genius D.C. wouldn’t be what it is today.

Despite African Americans historically enduring bitter cruelties like slavery and often denied inclusion we now have an African American President residing in a home built by slaves. We have a President who will walk the streets of Washington D.C. designed from the self-taught mind of an African American scientist and mathematician.

What goes around does seemingly come around.

Despite the history that’s been made we still have a long way to go. Until we consistently extend ourselves and embrace truth lasting change will continue to elude us. But we can do it. Obama wouldn’t have won this election without the White, Hispanic, and the African American vote. It was a team effort.

In short, Irrespective of age, race, color, or creed Jan. 20th was about what we could become if we all rallied around a common goal constructively and consistently.

Without question Obama made his history. Oh, yes he did. I just hope I gave this commentary the justice it richly deserved.

I hope I did.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dungy: Class act retires from N.F.L. to do God's work

Monday Tony Dungy confirmed the speculation that he’s retiring from coaching. After seven years as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts Dungy has decided to he’s had enough. Dungy, who lead the Colts to the Super Bowl title in 2006, will leave coaching to pursue other interests which include spending more time with his family and engaging in endeavors that will hopefully make a difference in the mainstream.

Dungy is noted for being the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl. He marched his team past the Chicago Bears in 2006 who was coached by Lovie Smith: it represented the first time two African American head coaches squared off in sports biggest spectacle.

Dungy has built a winner in Indianapolis. He has set a standard of excellence few coaches can lay claim to today. Dungy will walk away only to hand his head set over the very capable Jim Caldwell. It’s the first time an African American coach has built an organization in the N.F.L. while anointing another African American to take his place. It’s routine for white coaches get recycled with other teams, fail, and hand pick their successors. The latter leaves many qualified African Americans out of the loop.

Much applause goes to the Colts organization for allowing Dungy the opportunity to succeed and for Caldwell to follow. It shows the Colts organization is serious about winning and sensitive to diversity. Not many African American coaches in any professional sport had been given the freedom to do things their way without unnecessary restriction like Dungy was given.

Unlike those who embrace the “me first” generation Dungy is ole school coach whose quiet strength helped to build a perennial contender in Indianapolis. Dungy is the only coach in N.F.L. history to lead a team to the playoffs for 10 consecutive years. He also set a record for winning at least twelve games in six consecutive seasons. Coaching greats like Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, and his mentor Chuck Knoll can’t claim the latter.

Unlike most African American coaches and athletes Dungy is seeking to utilize his platform for something bigger than winning football games. He seeks to give hope to those who reside in disenfranchised communities hope. Dungy wants to show children and young adults how the value of teamwork can work off the field. He’ll use his faith and success he’s had in sports to bring about change outside of football.

Dungy could’ve asked for more money and received it or more time to mull his coaching future without resistance. Butt’s not about money or time with Dungy-it’s about him moving on to a new chapter in his life while doing God’s work.

Unlike many who look for pity parties, Dungy is a man faith who simply moves forward. When Dungy was fired from Tampa Bay after the 2001 season he didn’t point fingers or complain. He even paid homage to the Glazier family who hired him at his retirement press conference. Dungy prayed for another opportunity and got it with the Colts.

When Jon Gruden replaced him in Tampa Bay and won the Super Bowl in 2003 with his players Dungy didn’t harbor any resentment. He just moved on. When Dungy tragically lost his son in 2005 to suicide Dungy dealt with the tragedy as best he could and moved on.

Sometimes in life what’s for us isn’t always near us. Sometimes we have to leave the neighborhood to receive your glory. That’s what Dungy did. What he sought in Tampa wasn’t destined to happen there because it was supposed to happen in Indiana.

In his seven years in Indianapolis he won a ton of games and a Super Bowl: but most important he won the respect of an entire state for being a winner and a class act. Dungy’s coaching record (148-79) suggests his ranks amongst the games greats. As he exits the coaching stage I’m sure the numbers won’t matter to him because personally, I think he’s going where he's being lead.

Dungy is about to embark upon a journey which will require him to undertake the work God has for him to do. He wants to build up his ministry and increase opportunities for those in down-trodden communities. Dungy wants to use his platform he established in sports to engage in efforts to change mainstream America. To me that’s real work.

Without question Dungy is a class act. He’ll be missed quietly stalking the sidelines in his subtle but effective way of leading. Dungy won the Super Bowl as a coach and I’m sure he'll win another doing God’s work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Roland Burris: Congress needs to give the man his seat

Roland Burris arrived in Washington D.C. to take his Congressional seat amongst his peers only to be denied entry. The successor to President-Elect Barack Obama’s vacant seat, Burris was met with resistance and told no go.

Burris stated he was told by Congress his paperwork wasn’t in order. Burris said the, "credentials are not in order and will not be accepted."

Yeah right.

To me Congress didn't have the right to block Burris from doing something he's been legally appointed to do. Congress simply created away to not seat Burris.

Also, Illinois Secretary of State Bill White is partly to blame for the latter. White has refused to sign off on Blagojevich’s selection of Burris and has made his feelings known publicly that he thinks Blagojevic should step down.

As many know Blagojevich has been accused of attempting to sell Obama’s seat in Congress to the highest bidder. To date they are mere allegations. Blagojevich hasn't been indicted or charged with a crime yet he's being treated as if he's guilty of something that hasn't been proven in court.

To me Burris has come under unfair scrutiny because he was chosen by the embattled Illinois governor to succeed Obama. Burris had nothing to do with Blagojevich’s actions yet he’s been thrust in the middle of a controversy he had nothing to do with.
I suppose he's guilty by association in the court of public opinion.

You all remember when Bill Clinton was impeached in 1995 for lying about having sexual relations with 21 year-old Monica Lewinsky?


Clinton stated emphatically he never had "sexual relations with that woman." Over the course of a year and a half Clinton had at approximately 12 sexual encounters with the unpaid intern. The American people knew he was lying but only after the legal process took its course the light shined on the truth.

Until Blagojevic is brought up on charges I say business as usual.

I'm a bit surprised President-Elect Obama has suggested Burris shouldn't be seated and Blagojevich should step down from his post as Governor. Obama has a law degree from Harvard in constitutional law. He should know since no charges have been brought against Blagojevich how can he call for a resignation based on allegations?

Obama's Commerce selection, Governor Bill Richardson, recently stepped down amid allegations that a donor group supporting him secured a 1 billion dollar contract illegally. Unlike his strong words against Blagojevich, Obama praised Richardson for his service and quietly accepted his resignation with “deep regret.”

That’s interesting. Obama didn’t call for Governor Richardson to step down because of his billion-dollar investigation yet he denounces Blagojevich and Burris based on mere allegations?

I don't care who you are. Blagojevich shouldn't be victimized because of what people think and Burris should have his seat. Until the allegations can be substantiated with facts that lead to a conviction Blagojevich has the right to exercise his authority as Governor as he sees fit.

With Burris being the only African American to have a Congressional seat and not be allowed to sit in it makes this matter more intriguing. In some ways what Burris went through on Tuesday reminded me of James Meredith. Meredith tried to register for classes at the University of Mississippi in 1962 only to be denied because of skin color. He would later be admitted.

I don’t view Burris’s situation as extreme as Meredith’s nor do I think racism is the central theme here. I think this is a matter of people rushing to judgment, individuals not utilizing the legal process, and political arrogance on the part of Congress.

Let's keep it real. The media can take a subject and spin it to make it mean what they want. The public can be socially engineered to embrace fallacy dressed as truth. If I was pressed for an answer as to whether Blagojevich may be guilty of political chicanery I’d probably would say yes but, I’m not the law. I just write commentary based on what I deem the facts are. In this case the facts are Blagojevich hasn’t been charged or been convicted of a crime. He’s been accused of something that hasn’t been proved in court. So far that’s the story here.

Bottom line: I think Blagojevich should be able to use his authority as Governor of Illinois as he sees fit and Senator Burris should be allowed to take his seat amongst his peers without unnecessary restriction

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The year 2008; a year of turmoil and change

Out with the old and in with the new. The year 2008 is gone with the wind and 2009 is here. Thank goodness.

2008 represented a year of economic turmoil, political history, athletic persistence, and change.

From an economic standpoint America is in shambles. Government spending is up, consumer spending is down, foreclosures are rampant, yet big businesses continue to get bailed out with taxpayer money.

Bill Clinton planted some of the seeds for this current turmoil but it thrived under the incompetence of the Bush's administration. We’ve suffered a lot on Bush’s watch. Now he’s free to walk off into the sunset without being held accountable for anything.

Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

Barack Obama securing the Democratic Nomination and being voted as the America’s first African American President is at the top of my list. Obama’s presence on the political front has encouraged people to dream and embrace change. Obama dealt with the media effectively. He pulled the plug on race and opened the arena of dreams, acceptance, and tolerance. His message clearly resonated with the masses.

Pre-Obama every President we’ve viewed with our eyes has been white. We’ve now witnessed an African American male be elected President. We also witnessed Hillary Clinton fight Obama for the Democratic nomination and Republican Sarah Palin seeking to become the first woman Vice President of the United States.

Obama made the seemingly impossible a reality. Being the first Obama becomes the Jackie Robinson of politics. He’s setting the table for future African American, women, and Hispanics who may opt to run for the oval office.

When Obama made his victory speech in Chicago for a fleeting moment there was a harmonic state of being. Seeing someone who represents a people who have historically been oppressed now occupy the ultimate seat of authority reveals we've made some strides.

I love using sports as example because often changes ignite in sport before they are embraced in society. Forty years ago African Americans were seeking collective first class citizenship. Africans had to overcome and persist to demand change.

In 1968 sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos used the Olympic Games in Mexico City to denounce racism. They were once hated for their demonstration but now they are celebrated for the courage they displayed.

Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe opened doors in the tennis world in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Now African Americans James Blake and the Williams’ sisters are top players in a white world.

Martin Luther King dreamed we’d one day live as one. Malcolm X challenged oppression head on. Their work, along with others, culminated with Obama being the leader of the America.

Obama will put the final nail in the coffin when he’s officially sworn in as President Jan. 20. It will be a wonderful way to kick in the New Year that’s expected to be one for the ages.

In sports Tiger Woods winning the US Open on one leg was astonishing. For those of you who play golf know it’s difficult to play with two legs but to win at the highest level while injured is remarkable.

The New York Giants shocked the football world when they beat the mighty New England Patriots. The Patriots entered Super Bowl XXII undefeated and left losers. The resilient Giants took home the trophy despite what experts predicted. I picked the Giants.

This year I’ve produced commentary on various topics that’s raised eyebrows, provoked thought, and ignited sometimes heated dialogue. While all my work means a lot to me the one I wrote titled My Hero: My Inspiration, a tribute to my mom, is the most important piece I’ve done to date. My mom shaped who I am as a person and I’m thankful.

On a personal level my covering the U.S. Open and the World Series were the highlights of my 2008. I met some of the top athletes, past and present, like Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Reggie Jackson, and John McEnroe. I met analysts like Tim McCarver, Harold Reynolds, and Chris Meyers.

My presence along side the worlds’ best at their craft was a dream come true. I expect even bigger and better things in 2009. No limits, only results.

We’ve sadly lost actor/comedian Bernie Mack, music icon Isaac Hayes, and Hall of Fame football player and N.F.L. Union President Gene Upshaw. The latter personalities had great lives and will be missed by many.

In closing, I hope everyone enjoys each and every moment of 2009 and beyond. Live each day as if it may be your last. After all, we are not here to stay, we are just passing through.