This past weekend the skies above my part of Texas were full of vintage airplanes as part of the annual Wings over Houston airshow.
The airshow, which takes place at Ellington Field Airport, allows visitors the chance to see planes up close and personal while thinking back to an age where air power involved actual pilots and crew risking their lives for freedom and not some pilotless drone or guided missile.
Nothing against pilotless drones and guided missiles but few can argue that the amount of sacrifice is the same compared to the risks taken by aviators of the past.
Whether it will be remembered as a good age or a bad age is still a matter of debate.
With a series of teams battling for the number one draft pick next season it seems that there is very little good to say about the play of a quarter of the teams in the league as the season nears the halfway point.
Currently 7 of the 32 teams in the NFL have won less than two games. Conversely only four teams have one loss or less showing a huge divide between the haves and the have nots.
Aside from being a season of poor play by a quarter of the league the 2013 NFL season has turned into a season of last quarterback standing with several teams already using their third or fourth quarterback of the year.
Some quarterbacks have been replaced by injury, while others have been replaced by poor play. One quarterback was even cut by one team for poor play and then injured the following week for an entirely different team.
With more openings for good quarterbacks than available good quarterbacks, teams have had to get creative with filling the vacancies.
Let me just say that with so many quarterback slots open I find it appalling that Tim Tebow is still unemployed with no team seeming to be willing to hire the former Heisman winner who happens to have more playoff victories for the Denver Broncos than Peyton Manning.
While no one has called to offer Tebow a job apparently a call was made to another, albeit slightly older, former Jets quarterback.
I am of course talking about Brett Favre the man who seems to retire and unretire more times than Andy Pettitte.
If published reports are to be believed the St. Louis Rams reached out to Favre, who last played three seasons ago for the Minnesota Vikings, to see if he was interested in coming out of retirement once again to fill-in for Sam Bradford who is out for the year following a knee injury.
This past weekend nine out of the college football teams ranked in the Top 25 lost to teams that were ranked lower than they were, or in some cases to teams that were not ranked at all.
There are upsets every week in college football but the collapse of nine schools in a single week is a little odd. From Friday to Saturday night the teams ranked 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 15th, 20th, and 22nd lost.
While eight of those upsets occurred throughout the day on Saturday, the biggest upset in my mind occurred Friday night when the 8th ranked Louisville Cardinals lost to the University of Central Florida Knights.
While many could have a strong case in questioning the fact of whether the Cardinals really should have been considered the 8th best team in the nation, the fact remains that the polls said they were and the unranked Knights defeated them despite trailing by 21 points at one point in the game.
In the end it became UCF’s first victory in school history over a team that was ranked in the Top 10.
The victory also spoiled Louisville’s homecoming and ended a bid at a perfect season for the Cardinals.
So right about now you are probably asking yourself why a game between two American Athletic Conference teams warrants mentioning since most of college football is focused on which of the teams from the SEC will claim the national title this year.
It warrants mentioning because UCF just happens to be my alma mater and I have a bit of a history with the football program beyond just being an alumnus.
I worked in the Sports Information Office as an intern, and also as the editor in chief of a newspaper covering the college when the Golden Knights, as they were then known, made the jump to the upper levels of collegiate football.
So having been around when some of the early seeds were planted it is nice to talk about the current state of the program as well now that some of those seeds are bearing fruit.
Since making the jump to the highest level of college football UCF has gone from playing games at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium to a stadium on campus.
They have also improved their practice facilities from a crab grass covered field next to the disc golf course to an indoor air conditioned practice facility.
The football team has not been alone in the facility renaissance. Virtually every team on campus has received new or completely remodeled facilities since making the jump to Division I.
While many other schools have the same amenities as UCF many of them have also been playing football for many decades more than UCF has.
While the improved stadium and practice facilities have been nice they are not the only change in the program.
The Knights have won bowl games and conference championships and occasionally get mentioned as a growing program by the national media.
The truth remains though that despite having one of the largest enrollments of any public university in the entire nation, UCF still does not get the coverage of some of the smaller schools with a longer history of competition.
So defeating the Cardinals during a nationally televised game on ESPN gives UCF more exposure. The fact that the Friday night game was the only televised game on at the time makes it even better.
While a single victory against a Top 10 team in front of a national audience does not mean the the Knights are ready to compete year after year for the national title, it does show the next step in a growing program that is evolving into something that other schools need to look out for.
Although I have not made it back to campus to see a home game in the new on campus stadium, I have been fortunate enough to see several away games in Texas and Louisiana over the past decade or so.
Who knows, maybe before long I will get to see UCF play in a major bowl game as well before too long.
As a nice bonus the Knights were ranked in the Top 25 following their victory over Louisville so perhaps that flying under the radar will soon be coming to an end.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get my tickets to see the Knights play Southern Methodist University in December. Go Knights.
This morning I was greeted by both the sound of 3,000 government employees returning to work at the Johnson Space Center after the government was reopened as well as a crisp fall morning with temperatures in the 60
Sunday afternoon the Houston Texans did something that they had done for the previous three weeks, they lost a game.
At 2-4 for the season it is highly unlikely that the Texans, who some had predicted as a Super Bowl team, will even make the playoffs this year.
Such is the nature of sports. You win some. You lose some. And until the game is played one does not know which side of the coin one will fall on.
Sure there are sports like soccer where the outcome can just as easily be a nil to nil draw, but by and large the stick and ball sports that most Americans follow end with a winner and a loser when all is said and done.
With this clear distinction of only two outcomes, it stands to reason that a team on any given day has an equal opportunity to either win or lose.
Of course there is a whole industry from fantasy sports to the betting houses in Las Vegas that try to guess the outcome ahead of time but they are not always successful since no one can predict with 100 percent accuracy what will happen once the players take the field.
This brings us back to the Texans who by most accounts are falling well short of expectations for the season.
People are blaming coaches and players for the losing streak with some fans even calling for people to be fired or worse.
This came to a head during the game Sunday when the Texans quarterback left the game with a leg injury. Now, this same player had led the Texans to the postseason last year but he is off to a rough start this year and even set a NFL record with four consecutive games where he had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown in a play known as a pick 6 which got its name from the fact that the interception, or pick, results in six points for the opposing team.
So when the Texans quarterback was down on the ground in pain there was a vocal group of fans in the stands that were cheering the injury since they felt that it would mean a new quarterback would enter the game and lead the team to victory.
Instead the new quarterback entered the game and threw, you guessed it, a pick 6.
So it seems that the Texans issues are not limited to a single player having an off year and point to more of an institutional off year which teams do tend to have from time to time.
Of course any sane person could see that since rarely does one player win or lose a team sport. It takes the entire team working on both offense and defense to secure a victory.
Still, there are those extreme fans who fixate on a single player as the cause of all of their issues. Normally this just involves yelling at the television but in some cases it can turn violent.
While there have not been any reports of Texans fans getting violent towards any players yet there have even been reports of fans driving by the quarterback’s house and confronting his family.
That is taking things too far. No one, regardless of their profession, should have to deal with people harassing their family members.
Remember it is just a game. The athletes are paid to entertain us and to give their all during the game. They do not owe us anything during their off time and cheering for someone to get injured harkens back to something out of the Roman Coliseum days.
We have moved beyond those days although I am not so sure that everyone in society made that trip and we do seem to be reverting back to a more barbaric society.
Of course there is time to stop that trend and return to a more civilized sporting environment. Watch the games, enjoying the effort but don’t take it too far to the point of cheering for someone to get hurt just because they threw some interceptions.
From 1982 to 1991 the Washington Redskins went to the Super Bowl four times, winning three times against the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills. The second of those four appearances resulted in a loss to the Oakland Raiders.
So as a fan of the Redskins during that time, winning it all sort of was expected despite the fact that only one team can win it all each year. It is sort of the way that fans of the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and New England Patriots expected to win it all every year during the dominant years each of those franchises had.
During the 1985 or 1986 season I was watching a Washington Redskins game with quarterback Jay Schroeder behind center.
Today is Columbus Day observed across the United States.
Not even a partial government shutdown can stop the day set aside to honor the 15th Century explorer.
I am sure most of us recall from the story how Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and “discovered” the new world.
Of course there were already people living in the new world when Columbus arrived and scholars often debate the timing of the arrival of vikings in terms of who really arrived from Europe first, but for our purposes here let us just agree that it was old C.C.
Now, in addition to learning about the year of the arrival of Columbus students are also taught from an early age the names of his three ships that accomplished the journey.
A few weeks ago the fast food chain Jack in the Box introduced Munchie Meals.
The Munchie Meals are only served from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and cater to a certain demographic that is awake and hungry during those hours.
This follows the trend set by Taco Bell’s Fourth Meal campaign and other restaurants as a way to drum up business during non traditional hours.
In the same way, certain restaurants such as Sonic offer a Happy Hour of sorts from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. where they have a menu of items at a reduced price to entice people to spend money during normally slow hours between the lunch and dinner crowds.
As for the trend to entice people to eat during the overnight hours one can assume that the demographic is mainly college students and shift workers.
When I worked for newspapers I often worked until 1 a.m. or later and found the selection of places to grab a bite after work to be rather limited.
Were the option of Munchie Meals available back then I most likely would have made it part of my driving home routine.
It should be noted that one Munchie Meal includes more calories than the total daily recommended amount. So they are certainly not intended for the healthy eater and those watching what they eat.
Instead the Munchie Meals offer a smorgasbord of tasty but bad for you selections that are covered in various cheeses and/or deep fried to a golden tasty perfection.
For convenience and portability sake the Munchie Meal comes self contained in a box.
Right about now some of you are probably craving a Munchie Meal while there are others who are wondering if the prize inside the box is an automatic defibrillator.
Having looked inside the Munchie Meal box strictly for research for this column I can assure you that the automatic defibrillator is not included but could probably be ordered as an add on.
With the introduction of the Munchie Meal Jack in the Box, like Carl’s Jr. before it, is giving consumers what they want in the form of thousands of calories in a convenient carrying case.
It is not necessarily giving consumers what they need however since very few people could argue that anyone needs that large of a calorie hit during the overnight hours.
So while the battle rages over wants and needs and whether the Munchie Meal is good or bad for the nation as a whole one thing is certain Denny’s, Waffle House and IHOP have been put on notice as there are now more choices vying for those late night diners.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to take a nap so I can be awake in time to get my Munchie Meal later.
For the most part I try to steer clear of discussing politics.
It is not that I do not follow the political system. Quite the opposite, I am rather informed and involved in the government process and try to stay on top of current events as much as possible.
I am also a big history buff and believe that one must learn from history in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
The reason for steering clear of political writing is simple. Were I to write about conservative topics that appeal to the right side, I am leaving out the left side. In the same manner if I write about liberal
Observations from the cheap seats, the beach seats and everywhere in between