Hero in the Background

Behind any prominent hero, there are also countless heroes who influenced history in the background.  Not much is said about these heroes.  Their lives are rarely studied in high school history classes.  Very few schools and streets are named after them.  We don’t get a day off in recognition of their birthdays.  Only a history buff would know of their significance.

Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., there were leaders like Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and Fannie Lou Hamer who fought for racial equality.  Before Thurgood Marshall became the first Black United States Supreme Court Justice, he was mentored by Charles Hamilton Houston who successfully challenged the Jim Crow laws to the point that he earned the title as “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow.”  Other unknown advocates and legal scholars during the Civil Rights era include William Hastie, Oliver Hill, and Aloyisus Leon Higginbotham, Jr.  Unfortunately, these names along with countless others who have fought for the rights we have today are unfamiliar to many.

I had the pleasure to watch a documentary on the life of another unknown hero Whitney Young.  Titled The Powerbroker the documentary covered Young’s noteworthy contributions in the fight for equal rights for all.  Young was the Executive Director of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971.  During his tenure as Executive Director, Young urged white business leaders to hire Black employees for the type of positions that are stepping stones to executive positions.  In doing so, Young formed close relationships with top business leaders like Henry Ford II to advocate for an end to discriminatory practices in businesses.

In addition, he served as an advisor in race relations for Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.  Prior to the “The Great March on Washington” in 1963, President Kennedy originally discouraged the march because he feared it would lead members of Congress to vote against proposed laws for Civil Rights.  Young was able to calm President Kennedy’s nerves and persuaded Kennedy to support the march.  This quiet act paved the way for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to share the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Another example is Young’s influence on President Johnson.  In hopes to eradicate all inequalities among races, Young proposed a domestic Marshall Plan to provide $145 billion to welfare, education, job training and healthcare projects for predominantly minority communities.  President Johnson was so impressed by Young’s plan that Johnson adopted some of Young’s policies for his “Great Society” project.

Young was known as a mediator between Civil Rights leaders and white leaders in business and politics to help both sides agree to effective changes to guarantee equal rights for all.  The documentary’s website describes Young as “the man working behind the scenes, shaking the rights hands, making the right deals, and opening the doors of opportunity for all Americans.”

In Young’s own words, “Every man is our brother, and every man’s burden is our own.  Where poverty exists, all are poorer.  Where hate flourishes, all are corrupted.  Where injustice reins, all are unequal.”  The desire for everyone to live free from poverty, hate, and injustice is what drove Young to work tirelessly behind the scenes.  He was a valuable advocate for equality who was able to get things done for the benefit of all.  As President Nixon described Young, “[h]e knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for.”  I hope more will learn of this hero in the background.

Mixed Messages

As a nation, we’re sending mixed messages to the estimated eleven million undocumented immigrants in the United States.  On one side, we speak of acceptance through the proposed bipartisan immigration reform recently announced.  In an interview on immigration reform, Florida Senator Marco Rubio talked about protection for undocumented agriculture workers from exploitation.  In addition, there’s a growing number of conservative voices who support including a “path to citizenship” in immigration reform.  And then this past June, President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which “grant temporary work authorization and two years reprieve from deportation” to eligible undocumented young people.  In explaining the importance of providing relief to these individuals, President Obama explained how much they are part of our country’s culture, economy, and future this way: “They pledge allegiance to our flag.  They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

But then on the other side, bills have been proposed and passed that are discriminatory and send a message that our undocumented immigrants are unwanted.  One example is a proposed bill before the Texas House of Representatives.  The proposal is for a constitutional amendment that would deny bail for any undocumented immigrant accused of committing a felony.  The proposed language is as follows: “A person taken into custody for committing a felony shall be denied release on bail pending trial if a judge or magistrate, following a hearing, determines that the person is not a citizen or national of the United States and is not lawfully present in the United States.”  No matter whether violence was involved, regardless of whether the individual had a clean criminal record and has been a productive member of society, and without consideration that the detained person may possibly be innocent, this proposed amendment could affect the lives of many undocumented immigrants in Texas – including those who have made significant contributions to the state while abiding by our laws.  Arizona has a similar law, and it is currently being challenged in federal court.  These laws are arguably unconstitutional, and they show the strong resentment towards all undocumented immigrants.

I wonder which message is in the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans.

The Future of Football

Its Super Bowl week!  I’m excited about the big game on Sunday, and I’ve spent far too much time catching up on all the events going on in New Orleans in anticipation of the big game.  Now I just need to find a Super Bowl party in town to crash.

Even with all the excitement, there’s an underlying issue that exist, which is the future of the game.  The concern over safety in football is growing substantially.  In a recent interview, President Barack Obama admitted that, “… if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football.”  NFL great, Kurt Warner, once said that he would prefer that his sons not play football.  And these concerns are shared by many other parents.

There’s also the recent lawsuits with the risk of long-term brain damage due to football-related injuries as the central issue.  In June 2012, over 2,000 ex-NFL players sued the NFL.  These former players argue that the NFL concealed information from them that links injuries on the field to brain injuries with permanent effects.  Additionally, Junior Seau’s family sued the NFL.  In the family’s lawsuit, they argue that Seau’s suicide was caused by a brain disease that was caused by numerous violent hits Seau sustained throughout his career.  The family further argues that the NFL deliberately ignored and concealed information on knowledge of risks of traumatic brain injuries from playing football.  Junior Seau committed suicide in 2012.

I enjoy the competitive nature of football.  What makes the game so competitive and exciting are the grueling defensive battles and explosive plays that sometimes result in brutal injuries.  A hard hit that blows out a knee or causes a concussion are the unfortunate outcomes of what most fans enjoy about football.  From these unfortunate outcomes, careers are ruined.  Given the recent research on the long-term effects of concussions, lives are potentially damaged as well.

As a fan, I’m conflicted for how to feel about the game.  Every weekend during football season, I’m glued to the television to watch my favorite teams play.  But at the same time, I’m concerned about some of the terrible injuries many football players suffer.  I personally never wanted to experience any of the injuries I’ve witnessed or heard about on the field, and that’s why I never played football at a competitive level.  And if I’m a father one day, I don’t know if I would let my own kids play football.

I really don’t have a clue for how to correctly accommodate the safety concerns surrounding the game without changing too much of what we’ve come to enjoy about football.  There have been changes to rules to help make the game safer.  However, plenty of people, including NFL players, argue that the recent rule modifications make the game less exciting.  In questioning the long-term existence of the NFL, Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said, “… I think with the direction things are going – where (NFL rule makers) want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else – there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.”

Along with rule changes, the NFL has committed to initiatives focused on player safety.  Efforts include contributing funds for brain research, developing advancements to helmets to prevent head injuries, and educating youth football coaches and parents on injury prevention.  But the game is inherently dangerous.  I don’t think anyone could deny that.

I think the future of football is an important question to be considered by many beyond current and former NFL players.  Whether a fan, a kid with dreams of playing in the NFL, or a parent of a son – or maybe even a daughter – who desires to play football, the future of the game will affect many people in some way.  I just hope the commitment to safety will always be the number one factor in discussions on the future of the game.

Selflessness

And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

- Dr. Martin Luther King

Yesterday we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Day.  With the inauguration of Barack Obama’s second term as president, yesterday was a great opportunity to witness the progress we’ve made in the battle against all forms of discrimination.  However, the celebration of this holiday had to include a call to action for we do not yet live in a world free from racism, poverty, and violence that Dr. King dreamed of many years ago.

On the night before his assassination, Dr. King shared a message on the parable titled The Good Samaritan to emphasize the point that each of us must take the time to help those in need.  In this parable, a man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the road.  First a priest passed by the helpless man, but he did not help.  Next, a Levite saw the man on the road, but he also chose not to help the poor man.  It’s a mystery as to exactly why these two men chose to turn their backs on the dying man.  Perhaps they just did not care.  Maybe they were busy and did not have the time to help.  It’s possible that they feared that the people who robbed and severely injured this poor man would come back and do the same to them.  Regardless of their reason, it was more important than the condition of the dying man on the road.

But then a Samaritan came by and saw the man on the road.  The Samaritan placed the need of the poor dying man above himself.  As Dr. King stated, the Samaritan asked “if I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him”?   In our own lives, we need to ask the same question whenever we see another in need.  Whether it’s at work, school, or – most importantly – at home, we need to place the concerns and needs of others above ourselves.

I remember reading retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s story of the tragic events that took place in Operation RED WINGS in Afghanistan.  The operation took place in 2005, and it involved four Navy SEALs – including Luttrell.  While in battle, three of the Navy SEALs on the mission were killed, and Luttrell was left to fend for himself.  As he searched for safety, Luttrell encountered a group of people – called Pashtuns – who took him in.  The Pashtuns decided to grant Luttrell Lokhay, which meant that the Pashtuns were willing to defend Luttrell to their own deaths.  As Luttrell described Lokhay in the book Lone Survivor, “Lokhay means the population of that village will fight to the last man, honor-bound to protect the individual they have invited in to share their hospitality.  And this is not something to have a chitchat about when things get rough.  It’s not a point of renegotiation.  This is strictly nonnegotiable.”  The Pashtuns set aside their own concerns for safety for the life of a man they barely knew.

While not many of us would face an example like Luttrell’s story, this is a great story of selflessness to think about.  As Dr. King urged us all to do, we need to focus more on the conditions of others than ourselves.  When we think this way, we will be more willing to help those in need.  Like the Pashtuns, we might be more courageous in helping others as well.

2013

Before Abraham Lincoln entered politics, he was a talented attorney.  Although the path to becoming an attorney is naturally difficult, Lincoln’s path was especially challenging.  While growing up, Lincoln could attend school only sporadically.  In fact, the time Lincoln spent in school did not even amount to one year.  But his lack of a formal education did not affect his love for learning.  To educate himself, Lincoln read whatever book he could find.  Doris Kearns Goodwin once wrote that, for Lincoln, “[b]ooks became his academy, his college.”  For instance, Lincoln would spend sleepless nights reading the Bible and committing passages to memory.

Without a formal education at the university level, Lincoln was definitely at a disadvantage when he prepared for the bar exam.  Moreover, most potential attorneys at this time served as an apprentice for an established attorney to prepare for the bar exam.  Lincoln also lacked this benefit.  He prepared for the bar exam entirely on his own.  Even though he lacked a formal education and guidance, he was still able to succeed because of a strong determination.  Goodwin described his training for the bar exam as follows:

In a time when younger men were apprenticed to practicing lawyers while they read the law, Lincoln, by his own account, ‘studied with nobody.’  Borrowing law books from a friend, he set about on his own to gain the requisite knowledge and skills.  He buried himself in the dog-eared pages of Blackstone’s Commentaries; he unearthed the thoughts of Chitty’s Pleadings; he analyzed precepts in Greenleaf’s Evidence and Story’s Equity Jurisprudence.  After a long day at one of his various jobs, he would read far into the night.  A steadfast purpose sustained him.

What I get from Lincoln’s path to a legal career is that he never allowed a disadvantage to keep him from his goal.  In other words, he never used what he lacked as an excuse.  Lincoln always made the best out of what little he had.  And I believe he did this because of his strong desire to be successful.  As an attorney, Lincoln once told a law student to “[a]lways bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

I ultimately want to be a successful attorney and writer.  To reach this goal, I will face difficult challenges.  At times, I may lack the opportunities and resources that typically make achieving this goal more comfortable.  Its reality, but I can’t let this reality be an excuse for not trying.  I need to use what I have and make up for what I may lack to overcome obstacles.

Like I wrote last year, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions.  So instead, I’ll call this thought a goal.  For 2013 and beyond, my goal is to always do my best with what I have and make up for what I may lack the best I can to be successful.

For those who read this blog post, may you enjoy the final moments of 2012, and may the New Year be one full of blessings, enjoyment, and accomplishments.

Sandy Hook

I was at work when I heard the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.  Once I read the news, I felt shocked and deeply saddened.  It was painful to read that vulnerable young children and teachers lost their lives for what appears to be no reason at all. The pain quickly grew when I thought about the families who lost a loved one in this tragedy just before Christmas, which is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year.  And then I thought about the children who survived the shootings but must now live with this horrific memory.

Like so many other people, I cannot stop thinking about how this massacre could have been prevented.  We have heard opinions from staunch gun control advocates like Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  We have also heard rebuttals from supporters of gun rights as well.  Because the shooter was mentally ill, we have even heard from leading voices in mental health research and treatment.  From each person in the media, I’ve heard the same thing: something has to be done. As we move on as a nation, my concern is whether this terrible moment in history will result in relevant discussions to develop policy changes in three areas: 1. gun control; 2. security on campuses; and 3. mental health.

Gun Control

Let’s face it. The Second Amendment grants only a limited right to possess a firearm.  Not everyone can lawfully possess a firearm, and you can’t take your firearm everywhere.  As stated in District of Columbia v. Heller, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” And the purpose in possessing a firearm is also limited.  The right to possess a firearm is limited to lawful purposes such as defending a home or hunting.  In addition, there are prohibitions to the type of firearms an individual can possess.  In Heller, the Court stated the Second Amendment only protects the right to possess firearms “in common use at the time.” The Court interprets this limit as a prohibition of weapons deemed “dangerous and unusual.”

What is a “dangerous and unusual” firearm? Sure some firearms easily fit the distinction of “dangerous and unusual,” and thus are clearly prohibited. However, I believe there could be some difficulty determining whether to label certain firearms as “dangerous and unusual.”  For instance, some firearms popularly used for hunting could be considered “dangerous and unusual” to individuals uninformed about hunting.  Moreover, I cannot find any reasonable basis for using an assault weapon to protect my home so I could conclude that assault weapons are “dangerous and unusual.”  This could be because I live in a safe and quiet suburban community. But maybe an assault weapon is reasonable to protect a home in the minds of individuals in rural communities of South Texas that have been affected by the rampant drug war. Perhaps for some firearms, the determination of “dangerous and unusual” may have to factor in the activity and the location of sane and law abiding person who possess the firearm in question.

Security on Campuses

I read an opinion article in the Houston Chronicle on the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The author proposed that school districts “train and arm certain of their teachers and staff to provide an extra layer of security and protection.”  I agree that our schools should have more security. After all, we trust schools with children to educate them in a safe environment.  Yet, “120 people have been killed and at least 110 wounded while attending school” over the past fifteen years due to gun violence.  So schools need to think about improvement in security.

But I do not agree with the proposed approach to this problem.  I think its best to let trained law enforcement officers protect our children instead.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have more armed officers patrolling our schools.

Mental Health

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook, President Barack Obama announced a plan to take a harder look at mental health issues.  This plan is long overdue.  Mental health research organizations do not receive proper funding.  Facilities that diagnose and treat those suffering from mental illnesses could use more funding and support.

In addition, we need to educate society on mental illness so that we can catch the signs of mental illness in family members and friends.  Well informed people on mental illness can do a greater job at finding the necessary help and be stronger supporters for those suffering from a mental illness.

Lastly, there’s an extreme social stigma about mental illness in our society.  Individuals who may show symptoms of a mental illness refuse to get help because of this social stigma.  They are so afraid of public ridicule that they are too embarrassed to seek help for a condition that is not their fault.

Years from now, I hope we can look back at our response to this tragedy as the moment we made significant progress in securing our schools, drafting effective and constitutional gun control laws, and transforming the way we think about and treat mental illness in our country.  As we figure out how to protect schools and other public places from a tragedy like what took place at Sandy Hook, we have to find solutions that ensure the mentally ill and those with wrong intentions do not have access to firearms to perform terrible acts of this magnitude. And for the mentally ill, attempting to limit their access to firearms is not enough.  They need to be treated, and we need to be more supportive and sympathetic to their condition.

A Man of the People

Like any other college football fan, I made a prediction for who would win the Heisman trophy.  I chose the eventual winner Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel.  As a joke, I posted my prediction on Facebook as an “endorsement” – as if anything I say would determine what happens in college football….  Or does it?  Hey, its possible.

Well if my endorsements really do make a difference, let me endorse an excellent mayor with aspirations for a state wide office one day.  Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker announced that he may seek the office of governor or senator for the state of New Jersey.  He plans to make a decision within the next two weeks.  On the show “Face the Nation,” mayor Booker stated “I’m really thinking about both offices right now and which one I can better serve on the issues I’m passionate about and the things I feel driven to contribute to.”

I really admire Mayor Booker because he tries his best to understand the people he leads, represents, and serves – especially the less fortunate.  For a time during his tenure in the Newark City Council, Booker lived in the projects so that he could fully understand the conditions in these communities.  And just last week, Mayor Booker committed to living on a food budget equaling what the average New Jersey food stamp recipient receives, which is about four dollars per day.  The Newark mayor accepted the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge.  The SNAP Challenge (SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) “gives participants a view of what life can be like for millions of low-income Americans.  Most participants take the Challenge for one week, living on the average daily food stamp benefit . . .  Challenge participants find they have to make difficult food shopping choices, and often realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy.”  According to the website for this Challenge, past participants include governors, mayors, and Members of Congress.  Moreover, the many who have taken this Challenge “have educated themselves and their communities and SNAP/Food Stamps, bolstered the public’s understanding of the Program, and often created new anti-hunger advocates.”

Its very important that our leaders take the time to understand the lives of those living in poverty.  As a nation, I feel we often try to help those in poverty without trying to understand what people living in poverty really need.  At times, we even blame the poor for living in poverty without asking why people are born into poverty or end up in poverty.  Its like we try to find solutions for poverty or condemn those in poverty without asking what led to the condition, why those who are less fortunate struggle to get out of poverty, or what is life really like for the poor.  Before we can develop, advocate for, or vote for any type of policy intended to eradicate poverty, we have to ask these types of questions.

In the book The Rich and the Rest of Us, the authors, Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, stated that the only way we can end poverty is if “we all change how we talk about, think about, feel about, and, more importantly, do something about it.”  Leaders committed to understanding the daily lives of those suffering in poverty can help us approach poverty differently and possibly more effectively.  Mayor Booker has proven to be the type of leader who is willing to try.  Hopefully more politicians can follow his example.

What are people really saying?

In October of this year, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.  Following oral arguments, we’ve had a chance to hear commentary on affirmative action from politicians, legal scholars (including each justice of the Court), and politically based organizations from both sides of the aisle.  For this post, I want to take a different approach, and share what recent university graduates have to say on affirmative action.  I asked six questions on affirmative action to close friends and colleagues.  Each person I asked graduated after the 2003 United States Supreme Court case, Grutter v. Bollinger, which set the ground rules for how affirmative action should function in higher education.  In Grutter, the Court ruled that race may be considered as a factor for admission decisions to colleges and universities.  I wanted to focus on this group because these former students have been affected – whether positively or negatively – by the Court’s decision in Grutter, witnessed the impact affirmative action has had on higher education over the past few years, and/or endured or witnessed the frustrations that led to this Fisher case.

The questions and selected responses that represent the varying thoughts on this issue are listed below.  As a reader, I hope this survey will be helpful in your research on affirmative action.  Also for each reader, I hope this post will spark an interest in the debate concerning affirmative action.  In fact if you have a response to the questions below, feel free share by leaving a comment.  I also want to thank those who took time out of their busy schedules to answer these questions.

1. In your opinion, what is the purpose of affirmative action in higher education?

Response 1: To give people of color opportunities that were previously denied based on race/color; to make playing field somewhat level.

Response 2:  To equal the playing field.

Response 3:  Affirmative action is intended to allow underrepresented minorities to have full access to higher education by considering race, socioeconomic status, and gender in the admissions process. The intention was to promote diversity in higher education to enrich all students’ educational experiences by allowing them to be exposed to people from different backgrounds.

Response 4:  The original purpose of affirmative action was to promote equality in higher education. To allow everyone if they are able to benefit equally.

2. Do you believe that there is still a need for affirmative action in higher education today?

Response 1:  Think its intent is good, but its application still continues to hold people back; don’t see the need in the traditional sense; should be merit based.

Response 2:  Yes.

Response 3:  Yes, because there is still institutional racism and sexism in America, affirmative action is still necessary. Also, poor people and minorities are more likely to have had inferior educational opportunities in grade school, and that shouldn’t prevent them for pursuing college degrees.

Response 4:  Honestly, it would be a storybook answer to say that our world is so diversified that there is no need for affirmative action, and maybe there is no need for affirmative action, per se, but more like an equal playing ground concept no matter the institution. The fact that you still have to put what race you are, etc. on applications shows that this society might still see a need for it.

3. How would you describe the time that affirmative action is no longer necessary in our society?

Response 1:  Not necessary currently . . . don’t need a system that gives handouts.

Response 2:  I don’t know when that day will come for American society, this country was built on race. Slavery was a race-based economy.

Response 3:  I think that because of America’s history, there is no time that affirmative action would no longer be necessary. This country was built on inequality and discrimination based on race, so the need to counteract that will probably always be.

Response 4:  The time when affirmative action is no longer necessary is when there is an open and sincere acceptance of all kinds of people, everywhere. Where there is no need to explicitly state race, gender, religion or national origin, etc. in any institution and where it doesn’t matter, is when we won’t need it.

4. Is there anything you would change in the general policy for affirmative action in higher education? For instance, do you believe the focus should shift from race to another/other factor(s)?

Response 1:  Sure; shift it from race to socio-economics, family background ( dad was incarcerated, mother on drugs, raised by grandparents, etc..)

Response 2:  I think socio-economics should be taken into consideration, but alongside race, not in place of it.

Response 3:  I think the focus should be broadened to include other groups like the disabled and LGBT students because they also contribute to creating a diverse college experience.

Response 4:  Affirmative action should focus on financial status rather than race.

5. Chief Justice Roberts is a strong opponent to affirmative action. In expressing his opposition, he once stated “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Do you agree with this point?

Response 1:  Agree with Chief Justice Roberts. Let’s move past race, folks.

Response 2:  No.

Response 3:  To an extent, I think he makes a compelling argument, but the counterargument is that we do not live in a society without racial and class distinctions. Everyone is not coming from an even playing field to the admissions process. Until poor and minority students are given the same opportunities that affluent white students have, diversity in higher education will not happen organically under race neutral admissions policies.

Response 4:  Agree. Affirmative action in my book is still discrimination, whether positive or negative. It still calls attention to the topic of race, etc.

6. Do you believe affirmative action has played a role in your own life? If so, is there any regret for the influence that affirmative action has played in your life?

Response 1:  I don’t know whether it has. If so, I am very appreciative. If I do not attain an opportunity, I don’t blame it on race; simply gives me an incentive to try harder.

Response 2:  Yes, no regrets.

Response 3:  Yes, I went to a college that recruited its minority students from out of state because the minority students who lived there chose to go to other schools or did not meet the admissions standards. Because I was an National Achievement Scholar, I was awarded a full academic scholarship to this predominantly white university. I don’t regret the policy, but I do think I would’ve had a better college experience at a school with a different environment.

Response 4:  Honestly, I don’t think it has…

Its Time Jerry

Things aren’t going well for the Dallas Cowboys.  The team currently has a 5-6 record, and the hope for a spot in the playoffs is quickly fading away.  Also, the Cowboys have not had a winning season since 2009.  While division rival the New York Giants won two Super Bowls since 2007, the Cowboys have only won one playoff game within the last ten years.  It’s a wonder how the Cowboys have been able to keep the title “America’s Team” through these consecutive years of mediocrity.

Watch any sports show or go to any sports bar in Texas and you’ll hear several reasons for why the Cowboys cannot return to the successful days of when Aikman, Smith, and Irvin ran the team.  Some say Tony Romo is the problem.  But hey, Romo isn’t that bad.  Sure he isn’t an elite quarterback (and probably will never be an elite quarterback), but he’s probably the best player on that team.  In defending Romo, one article pointed out that the entire team just doesn’t have what it takes to win.  As stated in the article, “Dallas has plenty of issues that stand as roadblocks in Romo’s way, like a ‘fluid’ offensive line, a non-existent running game, an inconsistent receiving unit and a very unpredictable defense.”

When almost every aspect of a team can be severely criticized, I think its time to look up the chain to determine the true problem.  Earlier today, I read a blog post about a gentleman in Georgia who may agree with this football philosophy but made it clear in an absolutely absurd way.  Known as “Steven M,” this individual created a petition to ask President Obama to put aside our struggling economy and conflicts overseas to personally relieve Cowboys owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, of his duties.  Straight from the petition:

“We, the Citizens of the Great State of Texas, and Dallas Cowboys fans worldwide, have been oppressed by an over controlling, delusional, oppressive dictator for way too long. Request the Executive Branch’s immediate assistance in removal of owner and GM, Jerry Jones. His incompetence and ego have not only been an extreme disappointment for way too long, but moreover, it has caused extreme mental and emotional duress.”

This is crazy, I know.  However, it is reasonable to believe that its time for Jerry Jones to step down as the Cowboys’ general manager.  Jones is a brilliant businessman who has billions to prove his success.  He made the Dallas Cowboys one of the highest valued sports franchises in history.  And in the 1990s, Jones put together a football team that won three Super Bowls.  But his talent as a general manager has gone away.  Any given Sunday this year will confirm this conclusion.  So Jerry, it may be time to find someone else to serve as general manager.

This Thanksgiving

In one way or another, we have all been blessed this year.  You don’t have to think too deep to find a blessing.  If you are reading this post, you have been blessed with life.  A lot of us have been blessed with good health – some of us haven’t even had a cough this year!  Some of us have been blessed with success in school or an internship that will jumpstart a career.  A few of us got a new job that exceeds all hopes and expectations.

And then there’s some who have been blessed financially.  Through a great job and savings, some of us have more than enough for a traditional and comfortable Thanksgiving holiday.  Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of people out there who may not have a home to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal or the funds to enjoy all the turkey and pie that normally come with the holiday.

In New York and New Jersey, there are many residents who find themselves in a helpless situation during this upcoming holiday.  Hurricane Sandy has left people without power, ruined homes, destroyed countless valuables, and taken lives.  As the residents of New York and New Jersey are recovering from the storm, it would be nice to help them out this Thanksgiving.  A list of organizations specifically focused on helping people in New York and New Jersey for Thanksgiving is below.  If you can, please contribute and share your blessings with those in need.  Also, feel free to share additional organizations devoted to helping victims of Hurricane Sandy during the holidays.

  1. Feeding NYC – http://www.feedingnyc.org
  2. City Harvest – http://www.cityharvest.org
  3. Bowery – http://www.bowery.org
  4. Convoy of Hope – http://www.convoyofhope.org

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