Keith Strudler: The Biggest Play In The Big Game

Feb 7, 2018

Perhaps the most important play of Sunday’s Super Bowl came in the second quarter, when Patriots wide receiver Brendan Cooks was knocked to the ground by Philly defensive back Malcolm Jenkins after 23-yard completion. The hit looked brutal from the comfort of my living room, if for no other reason than Cooks didn’t see it coming. He laid on the field for several moments, and, after being attended to, did leave on his own two feet. Slowly. And he never returned.

Keith Strudler: The Last Play

Jan 17, 2018

Calling Sunday’s last second touchdown pass by the Minnesota Vikings over New Orleans the greatest game winning score in NFL playoff history would bother a) Pittsburgh Steelers fans who assume the 1972 Immaculate Reception holds that title in perpetuity, and b) New Orleans Saints fans who might suffer flashbacks every time someone shows that highlight. But whether it was the actual greatest of all time or simply part of Mt. Rushmore, make no mistake that Minnesota’s unlikely walk-off touchdown will leave a mark.

Composite Image by Dave Lucas

Six months after the city’s minor league hockey team departed, arena football is returning to Albany for the first time since 2009. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was at Tuesday’s announcement at the Times Union's Hearst Media Center.

Jen Welter
Jen Welter

Despite her 5-foot-2, 130-pound frame, Jen Welter always excelled in athletics, from tennis to rugby to women’s football.  Welter credits her determination for helping her crack one of American’s most stubborn glass ceilings. In 2015, she became the first female coach in the National Football League, working with the Arizona Cardinals’ linebackers in the preseason. But as Welter writes in her new memoir "Play Big," it took years of adversity in life and sports before Welter found herself on the sidelines. Now, she hopes her story can inspire others.

Keith Strudler: The Cheap Seats

Sep 13, 2017

If you live in Los Angeles and didn’t get a chance to see a live NFL football game last weekend, that is on you. That’s because there were at least 30,000 vacant seats at the Los Angeles Rams home opener on Sunday, where they dismantled the Indianapolis Colts 49-6 in the debut of 31-year-old wunderkind head coach Sean McVay, who’s seems like he should still be doing an internship with the front office. The crowd was estimated at 61,000, which feels just a little like the White House’s estimated attendance at the Presidential inauguration, minus the self-righteous indignation. The Rams currently play in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum, the building best known for housing the 1984 Olympics, a space that comfortably holds over 90,000, although the term comfort should be used with great discretion in reference to that facility.

Mark McGuire of The Daily Gazette and Keith Strudler of Montclair State University join Vox Pop to discuss sports including the NFL, MLB and more. WAMC's Ray Graf hosts.

Keith Strudler: Both Sides

Aug 16, 2017

The other side. That phrase, or a variant thereof, has gotten an unusual amount of play in the past several days. We’ve been told, by the President, no less, to look at both sides when assessing blame. Most every mediator or manager wants to hear both sides before making a decision. No matter your posture or position, it seems there’s always the other side to consider, even if it sometimes seems intuitively one-sided. Like the world is round. Or ice cream is delicious.

Keith Strudler: The Politics Of Hair

Jul 19, 2017

If you’re like me, you spent a good amount of your late youth arguing with your parents about your hair. For me, it was one of a select few moments of protest, since I wasn’t really cool or sophisticated enough to break any real rules. But, I did like to challenge the barber shop to make my hair look more like something from the Muppet Show than GQ. Eventually, in college, I invested in my own pair of hair clippers and lived by the mantra that it will always grow back. I also seemed to think that having cool hair would make my band more popular, or at least more popular than if people simply focused exclusively on what they were hearing. Such led me down the exhaustive road of an extensive hair gel collection, fabric hair bands, and once even an experiment with orange hair dye – which I immediately regretted.

Keith Strudler: The Downside Of Being Happy

May 24, 2017

NFL athletes, you can now celebrate. I mean literally, you’re allowed to celebrate now. The NFL has just changed the rules that have shackled players for too long, rules that have made scoring a touchdown feel too much like touring a cemetery. Prior to this momentous rules change, players who scored a touchdown could not have choreographed, excessive, or prolonged celebrations. They also couldn’t spike or spin the ball, fall to the ground, or use any props – the ball or otherwise.

Keith Strudler: Just Move Baby!

Mar 29, 2017

The definition of the word “raider” is someone who takes something by force. Or, someone who plunders or pillages. But that definition, the Raiders is the perfect name for the football team the city of Las Vegas forcefully took from Oakland, where the team has spent the vast majority of its 57 years. The soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders will move to Sin City no earlier than 2018, and perhaps as late as 2020, when the city completes its new domed stadium. Which means they’ll be something of a lame duck in the Bay Area for the next year or two. Talk about awkward. It’s like firing someone right before you start a cross-country drive together.

NRG Stadium, Houston
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Today we are talking the big game, the Super Bowl that is. The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are facing off in the 51st edition of the NFL Championship Game Sunday in Houston, Texas.

Keith Strudler: Super Bowl Sadness

Feb 1, 2017

So in the grand scheme of American holidays, Super Bowl Sunday reigns supreme. With all deference to Thanksgiving and Halloween and even the 4th of July, nothing unifies this country in a singular activity like the Super Bowl. That activity being eating ourselves into a coma while watching a bunch of highly paid grown men wrestle for a pigskin. On Super Bowl Sunday, nearly half of this country does exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, invoking ritual and history, surrounded by friends and family. Compare that Labor Day. It’s not like we all go boating, or all picnic. Even on Christmas, it’s not like half of America goes to church as the same time. Besides, that’s not American holiday, but a religious one – although not if our current government has anything to do with it.

Keith Strudler: Leaving Paradise

Jan 18, 2017

A lot of people have a list of cities. A list of places they’d really love to live, if cost or work wasn’t an issue. For example, a lot of people might pick San Francisco, or Savannah. I’ve got Austin and Vancouver on my list, in case you’re wondering. But if you’re looking for a city that almost everyone wants to live in, look no further than San Diego. It’s sunny and warm all the time, the beach is perfect, and everyone is fit. It’s like living on the set of a Corona commercial.

Keith Strudler: Doctor’s Orders

Nov 23, 2016

My nine-year-old son is scared to death of shots. I probably shouldn’t say that on the air, since I’m sure it’s going to be used against me in family counseling someday, but it’s true. Now he get this naturally, since I freak out at the sight of needles as well. I’ve almost cancelled vacations because I had to get a vaccination first. So I understand why we have to convince our oldest son that it’s better to get a flu shot than the flu, even if I don’t always believe that myself.

Every sports fan recalls with amazing accuracy a pivotal winning moment involving a favorite team or player - yet lost are the stories on the other side of these history-making moments, the athletes who experienced not transcendent glory but crushing disappointment: the cornerback who missed the tackle on the big touchdown; the relief pitcher who lost the series; the world-record holding Olympian who fell on the ice.

In Losing Isn’t Everything, sportscaster Curt Menefee (joined by bestselling writer Michael Arkush) examines a range of signature "disappointments" from the wide world of sports, interviewing the subject at the heart of each loss and uncovering what it means—months, years, or decades later—to be associated with failure. 

Keith Strudler -The NFL’s Problem With Numbers

Jul 27, 2016

As is often said, numbers never lie. People, on the other hand, are quite adept in the art. Particularly when it comes to numbers. It’s like Mark Twain popularized, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Keith Strudler: Tom Brady And The Supreme Court

Jul 20, 2016

I hung out with a lawyer friend of mine yesterday, and I’ve come to the very obvious conclusion that we live in a litigious society. I mean, you can literally take anything or anyone to court. Some of these cases get pretty serious, and some of them less so. But just because you don’t have a case doesn’t mean you can’t try. And, if you’re crafty enough and get the right lawyer, you might just win. Or settle, since apparently hardly anything actually goes to court anymore.

Chances are if you’re a dedicated WAMC listener, Frank Deford is a part of your morning routine. The legendary sportswriter has delivered more than 1,600 commentaries for Morning Edition over the past 36 years. His wry and incisive observations remain a refreshing antidote in an age of shouty sports talk defined by hot takes.

An Emmy and Peabody winner, Deford has written 18 books and serves as senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated, where he first appeared in 1962. He’s also a correspondent for Real Sports on HBO.

This Saturday, Deford will sign copies of his new book I’d Know That Voice Anywhere: My Favorite NPR Commentaries at Sweetpea in Stone Ridge, New York.

Keith Strudler: The NFL Show Comes To Town

May 11, 2016

Today’s Las Vegas is far more than dirty casinos and adult night clubs. There’s high end restaurants, Broadway shows, five star hotels, and even a monorail that makes Sin City look more like Disney than Sodom and Gomorrah. For those seeking good clean fun, few towns offer more than Las Vegas.

Keith Strudler: Let Me Help

Feb 10, 2016

Here’s the good news for NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel. No one cares anymore about how many NCAA rules he may have broken or even how bad his Cleveland Browns were this year. But to be honest, that is literally all the good news he can expect to hear.  Because pretty much the rest of the 23 year old’s life is a car crash in slow motion. For sports fans – at least those with any compassion – it’s painful to watch, but nearly impossible to look away.

Keith Strudler: Big Wait For Big Game

Jan 27, 2016

This is the first of two weeks preceding the Super Bowl. Which means we now have two weeks to discuss things that could be dealt with in a matter of hours. For example yesterday it was reported that the Broncos selected to wear white uniforms instead of orange. Apparently that's a big deal, both because they could have chosen orange, but also because it seems they win more in road white uniforms then their home orange ones. This is what you write about when you have two weeks to discuss one game.

Keith Strudler: Sarah From Seattle

Jan 20, 2016

When you’re upset, sometimes you say things you don’t really mean. That’s what I’ve been told. So we’ll just have to hope that Sarah from Seattle was really upset when she wrote her message to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton after they beat the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL playoffs, a message that was posted on a Seattle TV Network’s Facebook wall. Sarah’s note took Newton to task, but not because he beat her beloved Seahawks. It seems the problem was that Cam grabbed a 12th man flag dangling from the stands over the tunnel and threw it on the ground as he celebrated. For those not in Seattle or College Station, Texas, the 12th man is the expression used for Seattle fans, and Texas A&M fans, inferring their vocal support is like having a 12th man on the field, instead of the 11 mandated by the rules. According to Sarah, when Cam threw that flag to the turf, a flag that was being waved in Cam’s face as he walked towards the lockers, he insulted more than just some guy in the stands. In fact, according to Sarah, he insulted more than even the entire Seattle fan base, which is probably unusually large because they’ve been to the past two Super Bowls. According to this fan Sarah, who felt the need to express her thoughts to a news network and their corresponding public, Cam Newton’s actions insulted, and these are now her words, “a community that feeds and clothes the homeless, that raises funds for families in hard times, that helps a 3-year-old battle cancer, and that has more grace and respect than you (Cam Newton, that is) can imagine.”

Keith Strudler: The Inglewood Rams

Jan 13, 2016

The wait for the good people of Los Angeles appears to now be over. That is, to the extent that many people were truly waiting. But if you’ve spent the past 21 years in the city of angels longing for the NFL to return, it looks like that day will soon be upon us. That’s because yesterday the league approved the currently St. Louis Rams to relocate to the LA suburb of Inglewood, where they’ll build a multi-billion dollar stadium and surrounding entertainment complex. This returns the Rams to their prior home, where they spent nearly 50 years before moving to St. Louis. They left then because, neither surprisingly nor at this point ironically, they couldn’t get a new stadium in LA, or Anaheim, which is where they played at the time. St. Louis rolled out the red carpet, and off they went, from the nation’s second largest TV market to a city that’s currently the 21st. Of course, in the revenue sharing, made-for-television world of professional football, where anyone, anywhere can root for any team, where you play only matters so much as the amount of money you can make of your own stadium. Pretty much everything else is shared by all teams in the league. So, if you got a better stadium deal that gets you more money in Montana than midtown Manhattan, you might just take it. Assuming it’s got a dome, of course.

Actor Tate Donovan played a key role as Bob Anders, one of the Americans caught up in the Iran hostage crisis in 2012’s Best Picture Argo. Now, Donovan has returned to the subject matter, directing the new NFL Network documentary American’s Game and the Iran Hostage Crisis. From Smokehouse Productions, the film tells the story of how bits and pieces of football news helped the American hostages stay connected to their home and families during their more than year-long captivity.

Keith Strudler: Coaching Without Tenure

Jan 6, 2016

Being a head football coach in the National Football League is the complete opposite of having tenure as a professor. First, you get paid a lot, as a coach that is. And second, unlike tenured faculty, you have absolutely no job security. So with tenure, you pretty much have to work to get fired. As a head coach, it can happen because the owner didn’t like color of your pants that day. Such is the high stakes world of professional football management, where five years is an eternity and each day is an obstacle.

Keith Strudler: The Hits Keep On Coming

Dec 23, 2015

For now at least NY Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham will play the role of villain. His casting was complete after what can only be termed a nasty performance last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, where Beckham earned three – count ‘em, three personal fouls, including a nasty helmet to helmet shot on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. That performance earned him a one game suspension and the ridicule of most everyone marginally related to America’s national sport. Particularly as the NFL struggles to emphasize its new safety-first orientation, Odell Beckham’s boorish behavior stood out like a Rhodes Scholar at a Trump rally.

  From the time he took up the game of football Joe Montana has been initially been overlooked, not blessed with the prototypical size for a quarter back his skill and understanding of the nuances of the game overcame any perceived shortcomings. In his new biography of the Hall of Famer, Montana: The Biography Of Football's Joe Cool author Keith Dunnavant follows the life and career of one the game's all time greats.

Joe Montana is one of the only three quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls and did so in less than a decade, a two time league MVP, he became the signature player of the NFL landscape throughout the 1980's.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Smack Upside The Head

Dec 3, 2015

Like many Americans, my in-laws have a Thanksgiving Day tradition of watching football and a Black Friday tradition of going shopping. Both of these are full contact sports, but only one of them will prove to be deadly for thousands of Americans.

Since I work at Marist College, and have for many years, I tend to avoid commentating on the air about Marist stuff, if for no other reason than keeping my job. And because there’s an obvious potential conflict of issue, which doesn’t always make for great journalism. So I will acknowledge that up front, lest anyone suggest I’m simply a homer or at least didn’t recognize the incestuous appearance of this piece.

Keith Strudler: How About Them Cowboys?

Sep 16, 2015

If you were near a TV and a sports fan on Sunday night, you undoubtedly heard the exasperating ending to the day’s final NFL football game. That’s especially true if that fan liked the New York Giants, who managed to grasp defeat from the imminent and unlikely jaws of victory. The G-men blew a 10 point fourth quarter lead, largely through a series of unfortunate mental errors. That process reached its apex in the final two minutes, when quarterback Eli Manning threw the ball out of the end zone on third down at the Cowboys one yard line instead of falling down and letting the clock run. That gave Dallas QB Tony Romo and the comeback kids enough time to drive the field and give the Cowboys a one point last second victory. It was a game the Cowboys were supposed to win, but suddenly seemed like they wouldn’t, largely thanks to a bunch of mistakes and bad bounces. It's a game story Dallas fans will retell for years, and one that drove Giants fans into an early season depression. New Yorkers assumed their team would be bad and probably lose this game – maybe by a lot. But it’s always worse to have false hope than no hope at all.