One Hispanic American and the Star-Spangled Banner

September 28, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Justice Robert Jackson’s opinion in one of the most famous Supreme Court decisions, 1943’s (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette):

“To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.”

Fast forward to Sunday, September 24, 2017, one U.S. Army veteran, Hispanic American (former Capt. Of Army Rangers) 29-year-old Alejandro Villanueva became an instant hero to many Americans – football fans and otherwise.

Certainly, he has become a hero to the President of the United States as Villanueva is a living, breathing patriotic American not just because he served three tours in Afghanistan during the years he was required to serve in the Army after he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but because he rejected the suggestion from his boss, Mike Tomlin, the Black coach of the NFL Pittsburg Steelers who “suggested all team members” present themselves as a team in Sunday’s league wide protest after being called “sons of bitches” by the U. S. President.

Is Villanueva the embodiment of a failed U.S. Army promotion of “An Army of One” that flunked the marketing test to the far better and brilliant U.S. Marine Corps marketing ads? Is he really an Army of One? He was on Sunday.

Aside: Never in its marketing history has the United States Marine Corps objected to a Navy or Army advertising campaign; on the other hand, the United States Army complained to the Department of Defense that the eye and ear catching “I didn’t promise you a rose garden” Marine television recruiting ads made the Army look bad. Thus, “an Army of one” was born.

Since television cameras caught Villanueva standing off the field at the tunnel entrance from which players come on to the field, he has apologized for “throwing his teammates under the bus” by embarrassing them with his solo attention to the Star Spangle Banner.

He shouldn’t apologize. He signed a $24 million-dollar contract offered to him because he has developed into a fine offensive tackle. Neither should his teammates be embarrassed either. The reacted to what they think is an insult by the President and they did so in a manner fitting, take a knee on national television’ they were insulted on national television so their pushback had to be on national television.

The fact that some of the team owners either spoke out against President Trump or participated in the actual demonstration of team pushback is interesting. Though some of the owners popped for millions of dollars to support Trump or his inauguration, we should not forget that none of them like Donald Trump enough to even allow him to bid for ownership of the NFL Buffalo Bills. Moreover, some of the owners were NFL defendants against Donald Trump’s anti-trust law suit against the NFL that he and his fellow Trump professional football league’s that they won but were only awarded One dollar trebled to one dollar plus three for damages. The United States Football League (USFL) died, many people blame Trump and his law suit for the league’s demise.

So, the President insulted black players that dominate the league’s rosters and gave owners a chance to pay him back for insulting them years ago. It seems like NFL owners and President Trump share one “quality” i.e. NFL owners have very long memories.

Now that almost every NFL player has manifested an imaginary middle index finger at the President, how long will they remember being called “sons of bitches” and that they be fired for being good Americans and protesting like good Americans, peacefully as prescribed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Good thing the owners are not firing the “sons of bitches” for “taking a knee” – for Alejandro Villanueva, the 29-year-old for Army combat soldier and son of a Spanish naval officer starting offensive tackle for play-off regular Pittsburg Steelers would have a hard time playing against a team by himself.

Six-foot ten inches tall, 300-pound Alejandro Villanueva would not be enough in a game with another team. Standing at the tunnel entrance on Sunday by himself at attention during the playing of the national anthem, however, is a different story. Standing with him, I believe, was every Hispanic American that has ever served in the American military, I least I did.

Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (Berkeley Press, 2017) and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade” (Floricanto Press, 2016); he formerly wrote for the New York Times’ New America News Service.


Two Straight Wins for Rams at Home

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Jared Goff threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Malcom Brown with 10 minutes, 30 seconds to play to give the Los Angeles Rams a 21-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL preseason game Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Goff, the first player chosen in the NFL draft, completed all three of his passes on the drive for 34 yards, with Brown rushing twice for 25 yards.

The touchdown was the only score Goff produced in his eight possessions, which included kneeling to kill the clock to end both first half and game.

Goff completed eight of 12 passes for 82 yards.

The Chiefs (0-2) appeared to be driving for the winning score late in the fourth quarter, but third string quarterback Aaron Murray bobbled a snap in shotgun formation, with undrafted rookie safety Jabriel Washington recovering at the Rams’ 22-yard line with 1:49 left.

Kansas City regained possession with 1:22 remaining on its 31-yard line, but Murray threw four consecutive incomplete passes. Goff kneeled down twice to kill the final 1:01.

Running Back Malcolm Brown has gained 154 yards in the Ram’s first two preseason games, with 1 touchdown leading all Rams with production. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Running Back Malcolm Brown has gained 154 yards in the Ram’s first two preseason games, with 1 touchdown leading all Rams with production. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

There were 80,782 tickets distributed, lower than the record breaking 89,140 tickets issued for the pre-season opening win last week over the Dallas Cowboys. Actual attendance figures are not announced for NFL games, but the crowd appeared smaller.

Bicycle patrols around the perimeter of the Coliseum were increased in an attempt to reduce the time for fans to enter the stadium. There was also a different setup at some concession stands in an effort to decrease waiting times, according to Joanna Hunter, who handles corporate communications for the Rams.

Only one arrest was made outside the Coliseum, police said. The arrest for suspicion of public intoxication was made in connection with a disturbance with alcohol involved, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief William Scott told City News Service, adding that the department works hard to “prevent things from happening.”
“ It was a good night,” he said.

Back inside the Coliseum, things didn’t go as smoothly on the field.

Goff’s first possession ended after two plays when he tripped and fumbled after taking a snap from behind center, with Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe recovering. Cairo Santos kicked a 32-yard field goal four plays later, giving Kansas City a 17-14 lead.

The Rams got two first downs on Goff’s second possession, but he fumbled the ball out of bounds on a third-and-four play with Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen credited with a sack for a seven-yard loss.

The third possession was just one play — Goff kneeling for a one-yard loss on the final play of the first half.

The Rams were forced to punt after three plays on Goff’s fourth possession. The Rams picked up a first down on the fourth possession on Goff’s 26-yard pass to rookie tight end Temarrick Hemingway, but punted four plays later.

The Rams had a total of one first down on Goff’s final three possessions.

The Rams (2-0) scored touchdowns on both possessions starter Case Keenum was quarterback.

Running back Todd Gurley ran three yards for a touchdown on the Rams first possession, a five-play, 81-yard drive that included a 41-yard pass interference penalty by Kansas City free safety Ron Parker on Rams receiver Kenny Britt.

The appearance was the first of the preseason for Gurley, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2015, who was given last Saturday’s preseason opener off.

Keenum threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Pharoh Cooper on the Rams’ second series, giving them a 14-7 lead.

Keenum completed four of five passes for 53 yards.

The Chiefs scored two touchdowns and got a 32-yard field goal from Santos in the four possessions starter Alex Smith was at quarterback.

Kansas City drove 75 yards on 13 plays on the game’s opening possession, with Smith completing six of seven passes for 65 yards to set up Spencer Ware’s two-yard touchdown run.

Smith threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin 10 minutes, eight seconds before halftime, three plays after completing a 37-yard pass to Chris Conley.

Nick Foles — released by the Rams July 27 after starting 11 games for the team last season when it was based in St. Louis — replaced Smith with 3:23 left in the first half.

Foles drove Kansas City to the Rams 1-yard with 10 seconds remaining in the half when his pass intended for Albert Wilson was incomplete in the end zone. With five seconds left, Chiefs coach Andy Reid opted for a field goal, with Santos’ 19-yarder increasing the lead to 20-14.

Foles completed 10 of 13 passes for 56 yards on his first series and 18 of 22 for 133 yards overall.

The Rams will be on the road for their next two games, first taking on the 2016 Super Bowl Champion Broncos Saturday in Denver, followed by the Vikings Sept. 1 in Minneapolis.

They return to the Coliseum Sept. 18 when they go up against the Seattle Seahawks.

Rams Coming Back to L.A.

January 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The NFL will return to the Southland, with National Football League owners approving plans today for the St. Louis Rams to move to a proposed stadium in Inglewood, with an option for the Chargers to share the facility if the team can’t reach a viable stadium deal in San Diego.

The decision, made on a 30-2 vote by league owners in Houston, marks a long-awaited return of the NFL to the Los Angeles area, which hasn’t had a team since 1994. The decision also opens the door for the city and county of San Diego to reopen negotiations with the Chargers to keep them from moving, while giving the team a safety net if such talks break down again.

But the deal is also a major snub to the city of Carson, where the Chargers and Raiders had planned to build a $1.7 billion, 72,000-seat stadium.

With NFL owners rejecting that option, the Raiders pulled out of the deal, meaning that team will remain in Oakland — at least for now.

For Inglewood, however, the decision is a major economic leap forward. Rams owner Stan Kroenke plans to build a $1.86 billion, 80,000-seat stadium to house his team on the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack.

It’s unclear if the Chargers would actually join the Rams in Inglewood, with Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos repeatedly insisting he was committed to the Carson project, and had no interest in simply being a tenant in a stadium owned by Kroenke. Spanos made his feelings clear on the topic in a letter he sent last month to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Spanos has wanted a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for around 15 years, a quest stymied by the city of San Diego’s fiscal problems of a decade ago, the recession and difficulty in finding a suitable site.

When Kroenke proposed about a year ago building a stadium in Inglewood, the Chargers responded by announcing plans to construct their own playing facility in Carson – possibly in concert with the Raiders.

The Chargers, who have played in San Diego for 55 years, contend that 25 percent of their business comes from Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer countered by establishing a task force that recommended building a new facility next to Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers broke off negotiations on the proposal in June. The team’s refusal to restart talks prevented what could have been a citywide vote on the proposal this month.

An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since 1994.

The Los Angeles Raiders played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994, before returning to Oakland in 1995. The Los Angeles Rams played in the Coliseum from 1946-1979 and at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium from 1980-1994 before moving to St. Louis in 1995.

The Chargers played at the Coliseum in their inaugural 1960 season when they were a member of the American Football League, then moved to San Diego in 1961.

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