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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

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This Is Your Brain; This Is Your Brain On Social Media

If you got into a time machine and went back to the 1980s, you’d see a number of public service announcements that television stations would run dealing with drug use.

The most famous one, which has been mocked and meme’d to death, was the one where some guy holds up an egg, says “this is your brain,” then points to a very hot cast iron skillet and says that’s drugs. He then cracks the egg into the pan, it sizzles and pops as it instantly becomes a sunny side up egg, and he says “this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

While that one got most of the attention, there was another dealing with marijuana. A Dad has just found some paraphernalia in his son’s room indicating he’d been smoking pot, and he’s confronting him with it. In the course of the conversation, he asks “who taught you to do this?”

The son looks right into his Dad’s eyes and says “you did, Dad,” strongly implying the Dad also smoked pot, and the son learned only from watching his example.

Fast forward to this weekend, when a video went viral involving a young man heckling Cam Newton at a football camp, where Cam was volunteering his time. The youngster kept yelling “you’re a free agent,” at Newton, who just smiled and responded “I’m rich.” The young man kept on, eventually saying “you about to be poor.”

There’s no doubt it was rude, the kid was looking for attention, and if it was my kid, we’d be having what we call in the South a “Come To Jesus” meeting immediately. Athletes, parents and other observers around the country quickly and rightfully denounced the young man’s behavior, and it seems just about everyone called it a failure of the parents.

That may be true, although if you’ve been a parent, you know you can work hard and long on teaching your children the difference between right and wrong, and still have something like that happen. So, until I know more, I’m not dumping all this exclusively on the parents. The kid knew what was going on, he had teammates and coaches around him, and nobody tried to stop him. Plus, someone had a phone capturing it all, as if there was some anticipation of getting this out on social media and making the young man a star.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Accountable

I hope my dear departed parents are never blamed for the stupid things I did. They taught me better and I knew better.
Monday, 22 February 2021 18:29
Dave Scarangella

I will confess there have been...

where I've seen a young man treating a young woman harshly and thought "man, your Dad did a poor job of teaching you how to be a m... Read More
Monday, 22 February 2021 18:43
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Rest In Peace, Marty Schottenheimer

I was saddened to learn today of Marty Schottenheimer’s passing. Was even more saddened to see some in the media focus their stories not so much on a successful, regimented teacher of the game, but instead shining the light on his 5-13 record in the playoffs.

That’s not fair.

Schottenheimer passed away yesterday from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease while in hospice care, and if you’ve ever watched a family member deal with that, well, you know that’s not fair either.

Schottenheimer was an old-school coach who insisted on rugged defense, a Vince Lombardi-type running game, and doing things the way he taught them. No one was immune to it, either, as he even once critiqued Darrell Green’s way of returning punts, despite Green being an all pro and student of the game.

With his passing, I remember the day with Green, the straw hat he wore in practice (I even went out and bought a replica and called it the “Marty” hat, and my initial belief that when he came to Washington, the game may have passed him by. All this attention to detail and strict views on conformance to how he viewed football, I thought at the time, won’t work any more.

Then it did.

The Redskins started off 0-5, his coaching ways were mocked, and folks wondered for the first of many occasions if Dan Snyder had a clue. He had, after all, fired Norv Turner in the middle of an 8-8 season, one year after going 10-6, then winning a playoff game against Detroit before losing the division final to Tampa.

8-8 may not have been great, we all thought at the time, but it beat the heck out of 0-5.

Marty never wavered in insisting his plan would work. He had bounced Jeff George a couple of weeks into the season and was willing to rely on a tough defense, Tony Banks at QB, and a belief in the players he had.

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Super Bowl Wasn't Great, But It Had Its Moments

Sunday’s Super Bowl wasn’t one that kept you on the edge of your seat, so when I look back at the evening of viewing that went from 6:30PM until a little after 10, I judge it the way I judge my golf game: There were enjoyable moments, even if the sum total of everything wasn’t that great.

I mean, you knew Tampa was going to win after Tom Brady threw his second touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Patrick Mahomes made some incredible throws that his receivers must have been in such awe of that they dropped them, but after the first quarter, there was never a doubt in my mind the Bucs were going to win. It was just a matter of how much.

So my attention veered toward other things, from the commercials, to the halftime show, to wondering if Tony Romo was ever going to shut up. I’ll save you the any further thought on that one: No, he never did.

But these are the things I’ll remember if you ask me about the game a few months from now:

  • Bruce Arians, accepting the Super Bowl trophy and making a point of giving a shoutout to his 95-year-old mother, who was there in the stadium. “Love you Mom,” Arians said before the down-to-earth coach uttered another Arianism, saying the trophy really belonged to the players and assistant coaches. “I didn’t do a damn thing,” he said.

  • Tom Brady, being similarly humble and refusing to get trapped in a question about comparing how this title felt versus the six others he won in New England. He just credited Arians, his coaches and his fellow players, but that’s not what caught my eye. It was how cool, calm and collected he was while his daughter – who looked like an exact mini-me of his wife Gisele – was jumping up and down trying to play with the Lombardi Trophy. If you've ever been a parent,  you know that takes pretty incredible focus and patience.
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These Are What Make A Super Bowl Super....

Because the Super Bowl is tomorrow, I found myself in the grocery store Friday picking up a few supplies. I mentioned this to a friend, who said because of the pandemic it’s only going to be him and his wife watching, so he was really dialing down the number of snacks.

My first response was “what are you, crazy?”

I’m a football purist, so I have literally watched every play of every Super Bowl ever played, starting when I was 11. But the football alone isn’t what makes the Super Bowl special. It’s the pregame and halftime shows, it’s the party atmosphere, it’s the gathering of friends either in person or virtually, and yes, it’s the food.

As I’ve told many a friend over the years, it doesn't matter if you’re coming or not, but I’m putting on a spread. The food is part to enjoy the game and part to celebrate the end of the football season, so if they last another 3 days in the fridge, so be it.

You also don’t have to be much of a cook to put on a spread either, and there are sales everywhere this weekend at grocery stores. It doesn't need to be gourmet quality; in fact, the cheaper the better. You're looking for decent bar-food quality, a good variety, and foods that are great to grab during a timeout that don't require using a lot of utensils. Here, for example, are some of the foods I’ll be having:

  • RIBS: Giant has St. Louis Style ribs for only $1.77 a pound. For $7, there will be plenty of ribs for the two of us for the next two days. Never cooked them? First thing to remember is whatever directions are on the package, ignore them. I once bought a pack of these same St. Louis ribs and the instructions said 90 minutes of cooking. They were only off by about 7 hours. Pork tastes best when cooked low and slow, so this afternoon, make up a dry rub of stuff like brown sugar, chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Coat both sides and let it sleep in the fridge until morning. Put them in at 215 and let them cook 7 hours. At that point, pull them out and coat with BBQ sauce. They should be falling off the bone. If not, throw them back in another hour. But that’s it. You need no cooking skill. Giant also has pork shoulders for 99 cents a pound if you want barbecue instead. Here's how you would cook that.
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To No One's Surprise, I'm On Team "Old Guy"

When you’re covering a game as a sportswriter, you’re taught from the very first time you step in a press box to never pull for a specific team. “No cheering in the press box” is an old and timeless saying you’re supposed to abide by.

But there are no rules against pulling for a good story line. That’s what I was doing Sunday, since I seem to have the bad habit of being drawn like a magnet to teams that perpetually give me hope, then break my heart in the end.

Sunday, I got my wish.

The next Super Bowl will feature the matchup between two quarterbacks I wanted to see. The old man versus the young gunslinger. Experience versus youth. 80s rock versus hip hop. A QB that runs like a pregnant cow (even though he throws like a machine) versus a QB that runs like a gazelle. A ’67 Chevy versus a Tesla.

Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the Patriots, but being part of the “old man” demographics, I feel obligated to pull for Brady. There are several reasons for this, and one is past memories of so many really good quarterbacks who had their day in the sun, then were dumped on the NFL scrap heap to finish off their days with other teams in less than stellar conditions.

Memories of Joe Namath only a few years after pulling the greatest Super Bowl upset ever in a Rams jersey is kind of depressing. Same with Johnny Unitas in a San Diego Chargers one. How about Kenny Stabler going from the ultimate Oakland Raider to finishing his days getting the heck beat out of him as a Houston Oiler?

Some weren’t all that bad, although I still do a double take when I see Brett Favre in a Minnesota Viking jersey or Joe Montana in Kansas City Chiefs colors. They did well, but never made it back to the big game. Only four QBs have gone on to another team – Brady, Peyton Manning (Colts and Broncos), Kurt Warner (Rams and Cardinals) and Craig Morton (Cowboys and Broncos) – and made it back to the Super Bowl.

Just hearing Craig Morton and the Broncos in the same sentence makes me thirsty for an Orange Crush.

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Jacksonville Hiring Meyer Sure Looks Like Spurrier 2.0 In NFL

Now that Jacksonville has hired Urban Meyer as its head coach in the NFL, and reportedly paid him millions and millions of dollars to do so, I’d like to get in line to ask several questions.

The first would be “are you guys crazy?”

I mean, the pro game and the college game are quite different. In college, you motivate and teach to young men hungry to learn so they can make it to the next level. The NFL is the next level, so to the players in the league, it’s a job, not an apprenticeship.

What worked in college most times does not work in the NFL.

Look no farther than Nick Saban, the guy who seems to make winning a college national championship a staple of January television viewing. He tried the pro game with the Miami Dolphins back in 2005 shortly after winning a national title in college with LSU.

He lasted 2 years. Went 15-17.

Then there was the time noted NFL personnel and coaching expert Dan Snyder decided Marty Schottenheimer – who had started off 0-5 before getting things together at 8-8 in his only season in Washington – was too dull a coach and went out and backed a truck of money to Steve Spurrier's door. In what he announced with similar expectations to what Jacksonville is doing today, Snyder hired Spurrier to bring winning ways and wide open offenses to Ashburn.

The Ol’ Ball Coach also lasted two years. He went 12-20.

Hmmmm. Both Meyer and Spurrier gained their national reputation at the same school: Florida.

Tell me this doesn't sound like Spurrier 2.0.

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There's A Lot A Certain School Could Learn From Watching Alabama

You could tell by the end of Alabama’s first touchdown-scoring offensive series, Ohio State was in trouble last night.

Alabama is going to lay 50 on these guys, I told my faithful dog Maggie, the WonderBeagle.

Since she had chosen to take Ohio State and the points, she immediately got down from my lap, and as you see in the picture to the right, kneeled down and prayed I was wrong.

Her prayers - and Ohio State’s -  were not answered.

Part of it was certainly the tremendous athletes Alabama has, but Ohio State had great athletes too. Yes, the Buckeyes also were missing a key player in injured running back Trey Sermon, but he wasn’t playing defense.

The part that caught my attention, however, was how Ohio State approached playing defense against this powerful offense. It looked pretty predictable, and made Alabama’s drives look relatively easy. ESPN, as it does in national championship games, provides multiple feeds for the game, including a “film room” with coaches, and they did not appear impressed.

Former Auburn coach and UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik noted Ohio State was playing so much one-high safety, Alabama’s offense could pretty much pick what they wanted to do. Liberty Coach Hugh Freeze, who knows a thing or two about offense and has actually beaten Alabama as a head coach, echoed that by saying you could see clearly what Ohio State’s defense was going to do when you came to the line of scrimmage.

Alabama’s hard enough to beat when you DO confuse the quarterback; letting him easily see what he’s facing is just inviting a boat race. It creates a situation where I kind of thought Alabama QB Mac Jones was just having a ho-hum night, making throws that were good, but nothing spectacular. Then you realize he threw for 464 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing 80 percent (36 of 45) of his passes.

Ho hum, indeed.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Jack Slovic

Hello

Dave On point analysis- communication growth and stability critical to success Look forward to getting your long form commentary ... Read More
Tuesday, 12 January 2021 19:33
Dave Scarangella

Thanks, Jack!

Welcome to the site!
Tuesday, 12 January 2021 19:44
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I Will Wager You Did Not Know This

File this away under “things I learned that I did not know while watching the Colts play the Bills:”

CBS seems to really be pushing an original show they’ve come up with called Clarice, as I’ve seen multiple commercials for it before we’ve even reached halftime of the Colts-Bills game. The show is supposed to be the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling who was played by Jodie Foster in “Silence Of The Lambs.”

The movie always reminds of one particular line Hannibal Lecter – played  by Anthony Hopkins - says to Clarice about a census taker who once tried to test him:  “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

The line was sufficiently creepy for me to remember, but what I didn’t know is it was an inside medical joke. I looked up the line to make sure I quoted it accurately, and came across this explanation: Lecter was probably being treated with drugs, which I certainly hope a maniac like him was. The drugs were probably called monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs.  Since Lecter is a psychiatrist, he knows this. Which means he also knows this:

The three things you can’t eat with MAOIs are liver, beans or wine. So he’s telling a joke by saying he ate some guy's liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti to indicate he’s not taking his meds. And creep everyone out.

Learning this has been the highlight of an otherwise less than exciting game so far….

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Don't Look Now, But Ohio State May Win It All

It was just a passing thought while watching Ohio State start to flex its offensive muscles last night.

“These guys,” I told Maggie the WonderBeagle, “are playing like they are in midseason form.”

Then it occurred to me why: Because it WAS the middle of a normal season for Ohio State. They’d only played 5 regular season games (six including the Big Ten championship game they had to force a rules change to allow them to be included), which for most teams is when they are healthiest, most prepared and generally at their peak.

The test of winning a championship has always been playing your best at the end. Many a team has started a season on a roll, gets to 7-0 or 8-0 and then things start to fade. Staying that good for that long is a grind. By November, the bumps and bruises add up. A slight muscle pull here, an angry knee there, and that burst of speed that completes the long bomb isn’t quite there.

Winning a championship that starts with a game on Labor Day and concludes in mid-January is as much a game of survival as it is a game of skill. I couldn’t help but think of Virginia, back in 1990. They were 7-0 and No. 1 in the country before injuries, the grind of the season, and opponents having a lot more film to study caught up with them. They finished 8-3.

But Ohio State only had to play six games this season to make it to the final four. They hadn’t hit that phase of the season where you have to get over the hump. While Clemson played the first of its 11 games on September 12, the Buckeyes didn’t take the field for the first time until Oct. 24. They’ve barely been playing for two months. Over half of their wins have been blowouts, so starters did not play a full game in many of the contests.

As a result, they brought huge talent, fresh legs, and a team that a long season had not beaten up to the game with Clemson.

It was clear by the end of the first quarter that they knew how to use it.

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Recent Comments
Doug Johnson

How ironic

That my well-placed trash-talking got spoiled by a last minute garbage touchdown.
Sunday, 03 January 2021 15:51
Dave Scarangella

Hmmmmmm :)

Sunday, 03 January 2021 16:09
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Hokies-Liberty Leads Off Noon College Football Games

I have an old friend who has been telling me for 45 years that if you're not prepared, you're dead.

So since I don't want to see anybody mortally wounded for not properly preparing for a big Saturday of college football watching, here's a list of every game to be played and includes where it will be televised. By my count, every game except one - Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic - can be seen somewhere.

Here's the list. First part is the noon games, and if you click on "continue reading" you'll see the rest of the list: 

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Watching Super Bowl III Last Night Was A Lot Of Fun....

Last night I was stumbling across channels and found the original broadcast of Super Bowl III on the NBC Sports Network. I ended up watching all 3 hours of it.

It made me want to shout at ESPN that this is what a channel like ESPN Classic should have been versus the constant showing of 19 Duke basketball games from 3 years ago.

Part of the appeal was the memories of a then 12-year-old me watching in disbelief as the Colts kept committing turnover after turnover every time they got near the goal line. It just reminded me of my post-game reaction, namely that the Colts couldn’t get out of their own way and if they just stopped throwing interceptions, they could have easily won.

Heck, if they had just kneeled every time they got into the red zone and kicked field goals they would have won. Back then the goal posts were on the goal line, so once you breached the 20, a field goal was like an extra point.

Part of the appeal was also the memory of my Dad, who had decided to become a Colt fan, mainly because I had decided to become a Redskins fan. Where I grew up in Norfolk, you either got the Colts or the Redskins, so there was always a tug of war on who got to watch the 25-inch console color television with no remote control in the den (I was the remote control). He too was pained by the game, but when the Colts finally punched it in for a touchdown in the final 3 minutes, he was elated.

This, I soon learned, was because he had bought a square in the office pool, and had a 6 for the Jets and a 7 for the Colts. He had thought the Colts would have to win 27-6 for him to win and had long given up on that early in the second half. But he then realized 16-7 was a winner. And what was the first thing he said to me after explaining that?

What all Dads say when a windfall comes their way: “Don’t tell Mom.”

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They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

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