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No, Brits, This Is Not What Americans Typically Eat At Football Games

I normally stay out of the whole "fake news" debate. If a story doesn't seem all that accurate, I just leave it alone and let others offer a counter opinion.

But I had to draw a line on this one. As you can see, Darren Rovell is reporting from London, where the NFL was playing its annual game this morning. He says the the above picture is what the British are being told is authentic football fare: A two-foot long Mac & Cheese dog at Wembley Stadium today.

This, of course, is patently untrue. I don't know ANYONE who would put ketchup on macaroni & cheese 😃

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It May Be Dallas Week, But Rivalry Rode Off Into The Sunset Long Ago

Today the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys. Commercials are hyping the game as if it's a really big deal.

CBS has moved the game to the 4:25 window so most of the nation can see it. I’ve heard Dan Snyder is manipulating the ticket availability so he can squeeze one more drop of blood from every stone called a “Washington Redskins Fan.” TV and radio are playing clips from years past to remind everyone how intense the rivalry has been, and how important the game should be.

Only problem is, it’s not.

I mean, it certainly was at one time. George Allen hated the Cowboys and circled the dates of the games on the calendar every season. Year after year, all of us got tired of just missing the playoffs because the Redskins couldn’t figure out how to get around those guys with the Big Blue Star. Joe Gibbs planned for months in the offseason how to beat "America's Team."

But that was a long, long time ago.

The clip that plays the most when the wizards of television take us back in time on these nostalgic journeys is the one involving the fans at RFK, bouncing up and down, going crazy, and chanting “We Want Dallas.” That was in 1982.

36 years ago.

The days of Roger Staubach breaking our hearts, Clint Longley ruining our Thanksgiving dinner,  Daryl Grant creating what felt like an earthquake at RFK when the crowd exploded as he intercepted a tipped pass by Gary Hogeboom and returned it for a touchdown…those all happened in the same time frame or earlier.

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After Today's UVA Win Over Duke, The Rivalry May Finally Be Back

I have been warning my Virginia Tech friends that they need to watch out for Virginia, because this year they have a good quarterback in Bryce Perkins, a fast receiver in Olamide Zaccheaus and a couple of good defensive backs in Juan Thornhill and Joey Blount.

But secondary to that is what I’m seeing every week. The team in Charlottesville is buying into what Coach Bronco Mendenhall is selling, and with each win, their confidence is growing.

Last week it was No. 16 Miami. Today it was Duke in Durham.

I’m not sure how much credit to give for the win because the Blue Devils could arguably be the worst 5-1 team to walk this earth. Pro scouts seem to like quarterback Daniel Jones, but all he showed today is that he has a strong arm that allows him to throw interceptions into double coverage much farther down the field.

Duke’s offensive line didn’t help him any either, as they protected their quarterback the way I exercise: Not very well and not very often.

But it was a win. The Cavaliers are 5-2, they play their next three games at home, and will probably be even more confident by the time they come to Blacksburg at the end of the season. For 14 years, the Wahoos have had a tendency to get late into games with Virginia Tech and start thinking “how are we going to lose THIS year.”

That’s not going to happen this year. They have some balance. They believe. And no matter what the most hard-core of Hokies wants to believe, they have a good football team.

They do have weaknesses. The biggest has been in the kicking game, but they seem to have found one in Brian Delaney. He was their kickoff man until last week, when they used him as the placekicker against Miami. He responded with three field goals, including a 46-yarder, and the Chantilly kicker was the toast of the media circuit this week because of it.

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I Guess I've Put Off Writing This Story Long Enough...

Well, it’s been about 10 days, and I guess I’ve put off writing this long enough. It’s a tough story to write, but if you’re a dog person, you’ll understand.

My wife and I have always been dog people. We both had dogs growing up, and shortly after we got married in the early 80s, I struck up a conversation with the neighbor’s golden-german shepherd mix. We had a deal. When I got out of my car (where we lived you parked on the street) “Happy” would let out an adorable half-growl, half-bark, and I in return would come to the fence and hug her head.

Over the next few months, snacks and conversation got mixed into the deal, and her owner seemed to notice. One day there was a knock on my door and the owner asked a favor. She was moving, she explained, and could not take the dog with her. Would I like to be Happy’s new Dad?

For the next six years, Happy was our dog. Her passing was one of the sadder days in our lives, but a month later, we got a call from a friend who had a fraternity brother who had just graduated college. He had a 1-year-old black lab, and he too was moving to a place that wouldn’t allow dogs. So “Butch” came to our home and quickly healed a few broken hearts.

Butch came to us well-trained. Tell him to stay, he’d not move for hours. He had been raised in a fraternity of guys, so he immediately reacted to my male voice. You could walk with him without a leash because he was so obedient, as a simple expression got him to do what you needed him to do.

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Five Things I Learned Watching Virginia Tech Rally To Beat UNC

Virginia Tech’s comeback win over North Carolina last night was one of those games where Hokie fans should be glad the standings have only columns for wins and losses, and not areas where a game can be judged as “pretty”, “ugly” or “lucky.”

As a result, the Coastal Standings of the Atlantic Coast Conference only show that Virginia Tech is 3-0 in league games, in first place, and has a one-game lead over Miami and Virginia. But last night’s game showed more than that; here are five things I learned in watching them last night:

1. This team has heart. Yeah, I know everybody says that about their team. But last night they found themselves in a situation where only two miracles would prevent them from losing the game. They were late in the 4th quarter. A North Carolina touchdown – given the way Virginia Tech’s defense had played all evening – was a virtual certainty. That TD would have given UNC a two-score lead, and there wasn’t enough time for the Hokies to counter. The only thing that would grasp defeat from the jaws of victory for the Tar Heels would be either an interception – and there was no way UNC was going to throw the ball so close to the goal line – or a Virginia Tech defensive player came up with a hard hit or a strip of the ball that resulted in a fumble. Realistically speaking, the odds of that happening were right up there with a super model giving me a call during a timeout and asking what I’m doing after the game.

But it happened (no, not the thing with the super model). Safety Tyree Rodgers put his helmet into the midsection of UNC running back Michael Carter – who had run through the Virginia Tech defense all night with the same ease most of us would walk through a shopping mall – and the ball popped up in the air. Cornerback Jovonn Quillen grabbed it, dropped it, grabbed it again, then fell down on the two yard line. Half the miracle was done, but now the other half – having this offense go 98 yards – had to happen.

Coaches tell you in practice all the time that you can do things like this, but they rarely happen. The Hokies DID drive the length of the field, they DID score the winning touchdown, and they DID add a two-pointer to make sure a field goal didn’t beat them in the final minute. Such is the stuff legends are made of, and is also the stuff confidence, belief and heart are made of. There were probably players on the field who hoped they could do something like this, but didn’t really know if they could.

Now they know. Which could be a huge asset down the road this season.

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Remember WAGE? Well, The Station It Became Has Just Been Sold...

If you’ve been around Loudoun County for any length of time and followed local radio, you may find this a bit interesting.

It comes from website www.dcrtv.com, and notes that “Herndon-based Potomac Radio Group is buying WCRW, 1190, in Leesburg and WUST, 1120, Washington, from Falls Church-based Potomac Radio.” Selling price for each was $750,000.

If you ever followed the escapades of Leesburg’s WAGE, that station eventually became WCRW. Potomac Radio purchased WAGE, promising to keep it local, but ended up combining it with another station they owned so they could up the power and create a 50,000-watt powerhouse AM signal. The company had owned the 1190 frequency, and WAGE was on 1200, so one of them had to go. They were combined into the 1190 frequency.

To get the tower approval to up the power to 50,000 watts, these owners again had to persuade the community they would continue with local programming, which they did. But shortly after they got the approval they had long wanted, they abandoned those notions and became a brokered station for China Radio International. Such brokered programming is exactly what their other station – WUST 1120 – did. It was if that had been their plan from the very beginning.

The reason for the sale now is obvious. The owner of the company died in June of 2015, and the contract with China Radio International, according to DCRTV, is due to expire at the end of the year. The station would almost have to start over from scratch in terms of format and revenue stream, which usually makes the conditions right to sell to somebody else and let them come up with a new plan.  

It brings to a close a long and interesting chapter in local radio that I had a front row seat for, having been WAGE’s General Manager for about a year and a half before all this happened. Not familiar with WAGE? Well, here is something I wrote about them on their 50th anniversary back in 2008:

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I Still Can't Say Thanks Enough For Everything Frank Has Done

Today it was announced that a monument celebrating Frank Beamer will be unveiled at Moody Plaza, located on the Southwest corner of the Lane Stadium footprint adjacent to Beamer Way. It will happen about 3 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff of Saturday's game between Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

My first thought was "I wonder if younger Hokies realize just how bad things were when Frank took over the program?" They probably know him as a former coach, I thought, or even a nice old man they see on television from a long time ago. But maybe not the guy who totally transformed this program into what it is today.

Three years ago, when it became apparent Frank would retire, I wrote this to summarize just how I felt. Seems appropriate to re-post it now....

To truly appreciate what Frank Beamer has done for Virginia Tech, allow me to share some of my earliest memories of being a Hokie.

The year was 1973, my senior year of high school. The check was in the mail to the admissions office, and I was going to be spending the next 4 years in Blacksburg. I picked up the Sunday Virginian Pilot in Norfolk (my hometown) and there was a story on Virginia Tech losing to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. By a score of 77-6.

That’s no typo. 77-6. Laughingstock wasn’t a strong enough word for how the Hokie football program looked back then.

My four years at Virginia Tech would be the four years of Jimmy Sharpe. The wishbone worked in the second year, as the Hokies won 8 games, but didn’t get a bowl bid. Things then fell apart as the team would go 6-5 and then 3-7-1. Sharpe would be fired. A football player would die in the dorms the day after a game in 1977, and Virginia Tech was in the national news for all the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference were the envy of all of us. Why not Virginia Tech? many of us thought, but the perception was simply we were not good enough. In 1977, an expansion committee actually sent a group to Blacksburg to examine the possibility, but they stayed all of about 45 minutes. Their minds were made up before they ever got there.

The Hokies were small potatoes.

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In Your Heart, You Know What's Going To Happen Next With Harper

Will Bryce Harper Be Here Opening Day 2019?

There are dozens of sporting events I could watch this fine Sunday afternoon, but instead of watching pro football, NASCAR or hockey, I’m watching a baseball game that doesn’t really matter to anyone in the D.C. area.

You know why.

Bryce Harper will be putting on a Washington National jersey potentially for the last time. He’s a free agent after the season, and nobody knows where he’s going to end up.

But in your heart, you really do know.

Harper has always been on loan to the Nationals until he got to the point of being a free agent. From that evening in Los Angeles in 2012 when he was called up due to a rash of injuries for the Nationals, until the day the team was eliminated from the 2018 race, we knew.

He’s not staying.

You can give me all the reasons he should stay. You can give me all the reason he could stay. But Washington – despite what he says – is not his home. Las Vegas is his home. He grew up a Yankees fan, and you can’t tell the heart what it should or shouldn’t want. His wife went to college in the Midwest.

None of those points of interest involve the Nation’s Capital.

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Five Things I Learned From Watching Virginia Tech Beat Duke

Last night’s Virginia Tech win over Duke – and the fact it isn’t raining for the first time on a weekend in what seems like 5 years – has certainly made for a much nicer and peaceful Sunday morning.

But while a much nicer deal to wake up to, there are still a lot of questions to be answered about the Hokies. Here are five things I learned in watching them last night:

1. When properly disciplined and focused, this team can do just about anything. This has been the case for Virginia Tech since the beginning of time. If you look at the three bad losses they’ve had since 1998 that made headlines last week, they always bounced back and had great games in the next one. After the Temple debacle in 1998, they beat UAB 41-0. After losing to JMU in 2010, they beat ECU 49-27.

You could argue neither UAB or ECU were any good (UAB finished 4-7 and ECU finished 6-7 those years) but Duke was ranked and the game was on the road. Hearing all week they were a bunch of over-rated lightweights who lost to a winless ODU program undoubtedly helped with that focus, so in that regard, it was a blessing in disguise.

I always thought Virginia Tech would be 4-1 after the first 5 games, with the loss being to Notre Dame. My reasoning was the team doesn’t do well when it thinks it is really good (and this goes back way beyond the Fuente era) and if they went into that game 4-0, they would probably have a top 10 ranking they didn’t deserve, think they were world beaters and maybe lose because of that. ODU stripped the team of that possibility, and if they play against Notre Dame like they did against Duke, they have a chance to still be 4-1.

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