Cliff Branch is still probably faster than you

My brother just got my son a pair of wide receiver gloves signed by Cliff Branch*. Apparently he was at a Wal Mart in Vegas signing stuff.

Cliff was a rockin awesome receiver who featured prominently in the playground games of my youth. On that field as on the gridirons of the NFL, Cliff dropped a lot of balls as he tried to make those tough catches … he caught a lot of them too.

From Whatever Happened to Cliff Branch?:

What was your favorite route to run?

Cliff Branch: I always like to run to “Cliff’s Corner” as much as possible. Whenever we faced that direction in the Coliseum, it would a deep pattern in the direction of the Cliff’s Corner. For one thing when I used to line up we didn’t flip-flop the receivers so I was always on the left and when we were heading in that direction that would be heading north of the Coliseum so that would always be on the side where John Madden and our team players would be on that side of the bench. I scored a lot of touchdowns in that particular corner. My whole game was playing the team deep and coming up with big plays on deep patterns. It was a good luck corner.

Video: Cliff Branch – Cover Me from RaideRants.

* Hey NFL, can we have just ONE picture of each of your players for Wikipedia? It’s not all about you . Seriously, it’s total BS that there’s a total lack of available media from 1950 on – I get copyright law, but this is ridiculous.

How you play the game

If David Brooks wasn’t happy when he submitted What life asks of us, he darn well should have been.

In it, he discusses a (neglected) book that came out last summer, On Thinking Institutionally by Hugh Heclo that suggests that the institutions our creed of individuality rails against may not be our enemies. Brooks turns where everyone should when the profounder issues of life are discussed, to baseball:

In this way of living, to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.

In 2005, Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Heclo cites his speech as an example of how people talk when they are defined by their devotion to an institution:

“I was in awe every time I walked onto the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponents or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. You make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases.”

Sandberg motioned to those inducted before him, “These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third. It’s disrespectful to them, to you and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up.

“Respect. A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect … . If this validates anything, it’s that guys who taught me the game … did what they were supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do.”

The photo is Warmup by Rudy Malmquist and I’m 100% confident that he was happy when he saw this picture. I bet you will with many more of his.

High-def surfing Freak Show

Shawn Malone of passed an incredible video along to me (be sure and check out her and Brian’s Lake Superior & Great Lakes surfing shots while you’re there).

The video is called Backdoor Switchfoot. It’s part of Making Waves: The 14 Days of Vincent Laforet and it is a full HD video of amazing quality that was produced by photographer Vincent Laforet with a Canon 500mm f4 – on a RED One at 100 frames per second at 2K using the Wicked Circuits EF Lens Adapter (the equivalent of a 1600mm on a 35mm camera). On his blog, he writes:

Creativity in surfing is the opportunity to express oneself on a wave. Surfing is nothing but the physical extension of one’s ability to explore that realm between land and sea. Being free to do it without the constraints of commercial endeavor or competitive goals creates true freedom of expression. Somewhere between the land and the sea Jamie tries the other side, switching his feet around on take off, choosing the opposite stance, then midway, switches back… as if to say I can do “whatever I like.” Jamie embodies the term “free surfer.”

We had a long behind the scenes clip queued up for you today (including the ND filter piece that I promised) but the newsman in me forces me to put this clip out now – for the non-surfing crowd out there: this footswitch by Jamie is something unique to his skill set, and something seldom captured.

The best thing about watching, let alone filming, Jamie – is the privilege of seeing someone do something so beautiful, so difficult, so effortlessly. The last time I saw something like this on such a regular basis was when I photographed Michael Jordan at the United Center in Chicago for his last 3 years on the court.

I cannot stress how amazing this video is. Go watch it. For somebody who has been on the internet since online photos are a big deal, a video of this quality over the web is like a big sign that says “Welcome to the Future.”

The photo is Jamie “Freak Show” O’Brien by HalonaCoast and it’s in his great Surfing set.

NBA Comix: Vegas line on Isiah’s next career move

It’s with a (somewhat) heavy heart that NBA Comix mourns the departure of one of its patron saints, Isiah Thomas from the hardwood.

Whether he was trading draft picks for Larry Brown or just for comic relief, replacing one of the greatest basketball minds with himself, matching wits with a puppy or attempting to singlehandedly bring one of the NBA’s storied franchises to its knees, you could count on Isiah to give 110%, and look sharp while doing it.

“Listless, tawdry and dreadful” says Sports Illustrated, to which we here at NBA Comix have to add a tearful “There will never be another.”

Joe Louis and the Library of Congress AV Club

Joe Louis

Seems like I have a lot of “draft” posts that never see the light of what passes for day on these internets because I can’t find the time to work them out. One of these was this feature from NPR about the Library of Congress’s new Audio-Visual Campus. It’s an interesting look at what our national library is doing to preserve and rescan media. They play a bit from a Count Basie album released only in Europe and offer a listen to the very short Joe Louis/Max Schmelling bout.

More at

NBA Comix: Gimme the Damn Remote with Charles Barkley and color commentary from the beards of Baron Davis and Carlos Boozer

This was supposed to be just a link to the excellent new NBA heavy BallHype and a little bit of regretful (if predictable) lamenting about how my extreme busyness means no NBA Comix, especially in this, the Time of the NBA.

Saw Cat Wade’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo of Baron shaking hands with Kirilenkos’ face at Golden State of Mind, from whence I watched the video of Baron Davis posterizing Andrei Kirilenko. Somewhere on the Warriors “blog” I watched a video of the Trackrunners song Game Time that is in the Warriors pre-game and is really a treat. After I saw the F*ck Chuck shirt and Fear the Beard, well, it was far too late to stop.

The image below is rated B for Beards and is appropriate only for NBA fans, beard lovers and the criminally insane. Continue reading

Demolition, Vegas style

Got Detroit? tipped me off to the hyper-cool video of the demolition of the Stardust Hotel in fabulous Laaaas Vegas (that’s how the TV station I watched Superfriends on every afternoon before work would say it). I used to work two doors down under the big clown and many times saw about the same view (usually when coming out of the Riviera at 5 am after a post-work bowling marathon.

He says that this is totally how Detroit should demolish Tiger Stadium. I think I would prefer 9 giant robots of Tiger greats wielding titanium baseball bats with Ernie Harwell on the call (…and Kaline rears back and those press boxes are looong gone!) but that’s probably out of the city’s price range.

The games people play

Seven about to hit .... view larger

I’ve always been of the opinion that Forbes was a relatively staid (and useless) magazine that was primarily concerned with two things: the Making of Money and the Making of More Money. When a game company newsletter alerted me to an interview with their founder at Forbes, I was stunned by the immensity of what I found.

Forbes Special Report on Games is staggering … it’s as if Malcom Forbes himself looked down from whatever high perch he occupies and said LET THERE BE GAMES. And lo, there were games. Everything from Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card talking about morality in video games (I’m sure there’s a cheat code to unlock that) to Civilization author Sid Meier on learning from games (I learned “Uninstall that damn game from the office computer”) to deeper pieces like the one that explores how social networking sites are turning into games (hey, you can now buy fake friends on MySpace!)

Photo is Seven about to happen three different ways by fd. Hey Flickr geeks, this fd is THAT fd, the fd of fd’s Flickrtoys.