Week 9 picks: Fathers and Sons

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Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

Although there are exceptions, in general the behavior of NFL players and their families makes me sick. There are just WAY too many examples of that to list here to prove my point…I have come to expect entertaining athleticism and thug-like behaviors. 

Then there was last Sunday night. I’m not talking about the game, I’m talking about the reactions of Cooper Rush’s family, especially his father, as Rush led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind win against the Vikings. The reactions and expressions the senior Rush showed as his son finally found NFL success brought tears to my eyes because I have felt the same pride, although not at the professional level, watching my children succeed. Pure, unadulterated joy. Pride. Relief. The children you helped bring into the world had accomplished what they wanted. All you ever wanted for your children was that they find happiness, and if sports was the way to find it, great. It made me think…

Where did all the time go? 

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Wasn’t it just a few days ago that my two sons were begging me to play catch with them, or take them golfing or fishing, or getting rides in the wheelbarrow? Was it that long ago that they believed I knew everything, and was the best in anything? The wrestling matches on the bed, running up and down the street until they could find their bike balance, and hiding the Easter baskets couldn’t have been that long ago, could it?

It could, and it was a while ago. As Harry Chapin sang in “The Cat’s in the Cradle”, they don’t stay children very long, and the time to be a real father is limited.

Sports, for many fathers and sons, have been an easy way to bond. And so it was in our house. Playing, discussing, watching, predicting, and analyzing all sports. Pitching a wiffle ball to the boys when they were still in diapers. Throwing thousands of footballs to them on trampolines, into pools, off rafts in many lakes, down the street, and in the yard even though there was no chance they would catch it. Playing one-on-two roller hockey. Trying, with a long snapper, holder, and kicker to execute even one good field goal. Arguing if the Tigers, Yankees, or Braves had the best chance at winning the World Series. Although sports are not necessary to have a good relationship with your sons, spending time with them is and sports can provide an opportunity for fathers and sons to spend time together.

The way I interpreted Mr. Rush’s reactions last Sunday were that he felt the same thing I did, on a much larger stage. I saw a man who had thrown wiffle balls to his son while he was still in diapers. I bet he threw footballs to him as Cooper jumped off all sorts of things. They probably spent a lot of time together in the backyard, on fields, on lakes, and in discussions. Certainly, Cooper Rush’s father had one of those bleacher chairs that make sitting on bleachers without backs tolerable, and logged many miles driving his son to and from many games and practices. In short, I think Cooper Rush had a great father.

I believe there are quality people in and around the NFL, after all. Watching Cooper Rush’s father restored a lot of faith in me. 

Cooper Rush is lucky he has a great father. But Cooper Rush’s father is lucky, too. He got to experience the euphoria of watching his child succeed at something he loves. In that way, Cooper Rush’s father is tied with many other dads, including me, in being the luckiest man in the world.

Now, my picks. All lines are from William Hill Sportsbook on Wednesday, November 3.

Green Bay Packers (+7 ½) at Kansas City Chiefs I went to the sportsbook Wednesday morning, and I have the sheet that shows this game as even. After the Aaron Rodgers news broke, I went back and the line had moved to Chiefs minus 7 ½!! I think Aaron Rodgers is the most valuable player in the NFL, but no one player is worth 7 ½ points! I think the Packers will win the game outright without Rodgers.

Carolina Panthers (+4) vs New England Patriots Both teams will struggle to move the ball, and Carolina, at home, should do a better job of that, especially if Christian McCaffrey is back.

Las Vegas Raiders (-3) at New York Giants The Giants always keep the score close, but seem to not be able to close the deal and win.

Los Angeles Chargers (-1 ½) at Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers (even) vs Arizona Cardinals Word has it that Kyle Shanahan was very upset that Jim Vallet of The Fernley Reporter was picking his team to win, since Vallet has been wrong in every 49er prediction he has made since 2010. Kittle helps a lot.

Last week 2-4

Season 23-22

Robert’s picks

Air Force (-3) over Army: I’ll go back to the well with Air Force, even though it didn’t work out two weeks ago against San Diego St. But this is the deepest team Air Force has had in several years, because all the cadets who were given “turnbacks” in the spring and allowed to sit out, are back, and the guys who played in the spring are experienced. San Diego St. is the only team that has stopped their offense. Army has played two good offenses, and gave up 35 to Western Kentucky and 70 (yes, 70) to Wake Forest, despite the Demon Deacons running only 51 plays on offense. Now they have to go to the high altitude.

USC (+9) at Arizona St.: I bet a lot of underdogs like this, and that means that a lot of my losses are ugly. But Arizona St. doesn’t have a 9-point talent edge against USC, even with the turmoil in LA. Judging by the articles in the Arizona media all week, the situation at Arizona St. is equally chaotic. The difference between these teams is that USC already fired their coach, and ASU is about to.

Arkansas (-5) over Mississippi St.: Kudos to Mississippi St. for knocking off No. 12 Kentucky last week, but now the Bulldogs are the ones going on the road as the ranked team ripe to be upset. And Arkansas, off a bye last week and a nonconference walkover against Ark-Pine Bluff the week before that, have essentially had two weeks to refresh themselves on how they shut down the Mississippi St. offense last year.

Nevada (-10) over San Jose St.: Last season was a magical run for San Jose St., but this season, the spoon won’t bend, the cards don’t levitate, and the bunny refuses to come out of the hat. That’s left a decent defense overwhelmed, and if you come into Mackay with a limited offense, that’s like fighting with an arm tied behind your back. The Spartans are going to leave Reno needing a win next week at Utah St. to avoid seeing their bowl hopes disappear.

Ravens (-6) over Vikings: All four of the Vikings’ losses, and two of their three wins, have come down to the last score of the game. But the Ravens are in a spot I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an NFL team in – their fourth consecutive home game. With a bye week included last week, that means the Ravens haven’t left home since Oct. 3 at Denver. Having not traveled in five week, and off a bye, this is likely the freshest any NFL team will ever be during the middle of a season. The Vikings, meanwhile, are off that aforementioned grinder. That should matter in the fourth quarter, if the game is even still close.

Browns (+2 ½) at Bengals: Conventional wisdom among NFL fans is rarely wise, and after losing at Pittsburgh last week, the Browns bandwagon is almost empty. This, after their 3-1 start had some people talking Super Bowl. But Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry are back, and I expect this to be the beginning of a Browns rebound, just at the time the rest of the betting public is abandoning ship.

Last week

College 1-3

NFL 0-2

Season

College 17-13

NFL 8-8

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