Thursday, June 24, 2010

To All My Friends and Lovahs

What two surgeries in 21 days gets you

I have received a number of comments and emails acknowledging my return from the PUP list to somewhat more active publishing of Curly R, thanks to everyone that has welcomed me back and sent well wishes the past eight weeks...

...ago was when I took a spill off my bicycle on an evening commute home from my Washington DC office and separated my right shoulder, really ganked it up, grade five separation, all three ligaments and the tendon, torn. Six weeks ago I had the surgery, an orthopedic surgeon unzipped me and sewed my acromioclavicular, or AC joint back shut using a dead guy's hamstring tissue.

All was going well in recovery for two weeks... when I developed a post surgical infection in the incision, although no one ever said it was staph or MRSA, because of the legal and hospital compliance requirements and possible implications and consequences hospitals and doctors never do say the forbidden words unless they are damn certain with a specifically grown and identified culture.

They never said it was staph, but it was and I probably got it in the operating theater from a piece of gear that was however briefly in contact with my open shoulder.

After identifying the infection two weeks after surgery and deciding to quote treat it like it was staph unquote the sawbones put me on Bactrim, an antibiotic specifically for treating staph, it worked, the streaks and gnarly boil shrunk, but not fast enough, when he saw me a week later he took one look at the infection and OH YEAH WE'RE GOING TO NEED TO OPERATE ON THAT LIKE NOW. So four hours later I was back on the table undergoing a debridement, which is medically defined as

The removal of a patient's dead, damaged or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.

Nice. By now it was and seeping pus and had an odor and it was fucking gross.

The cause for this second, unscheduled, surgery three weeks ago was principally to protect the graft, the dead guy's hamstring in my shoulder. If that were to become infected then we would have to do a reverse surgery to remove the graft, putting me back at worse than square one, with a still separated shoulder and having undergone three surgeries.

So the sawbones put me back under, unzipped the top half of the original incision, where the infection was localized, and cleaned the shit out of it, cut out all the infected tissue, took a bunch of cultures and irrigated it with six liters of saline which I gather is a lot for this type of surgery.

Oh did I forget to mention that this surgeon, experienced and highly recommended as a shoulder and knee specialist, had never had a post surgical infection before? So even he was freaked out?

The day after the second surgery, the surgeon sent me to an infectious diseases specialist which was a thrill, a shrunken old crone with a strong resemblance to Witch Hazel from Looney Tunes, when I said I was worried about staph or MRSA she cackled and said oh I had that and judging from her hobble and gallows laugh I instantly believed that she had at some point or another contracted every malady she had ever treated.

Even without firm results from the infection lab this doctor recommended I have a peripherally inserted central catheter, or PICC line installed in my left arm so I could begin a three week course of antibiotics delivered intravenously at home, the hardcore MRSA killing antibiotics that are basically like straight chlorine in the bloodstream. A PICC line is inserted semi permanently into a vein your upper arm and threaded gently up the vein and into the chest cavity. I had zero interest in that action.

Thankfully my wife talked Witch Hazel down until we could get some results from the lab, instead we went with a similarly harsh course of oral antibiotics, doubling the dose of Bactrim and adding Cipro, the stuff they gave the Postal Service and Capitol Hill workers after the anthrax attacks in 2001. That tore my tummy up pretty good, I am done with the Cipro but will be on Bactrim for another week.

For the first week after the second surgery I saw the sawbones every day, after hours, on weekends he came and opened his offices to see me, looked at the incision and evaluated for signs of return infection. So far there has been nothing and all signs are that he got it all.

Last week I returned to physical therapy, my range of motion is returning rapidly, the strength and resistance reps begin next week and my biggest concern now is the upper edge of the incision scarring on the bone of my shoulder, reducing the skin flexibility. This can be fixed over time with a scar therapy I like to call the rubba rubba. It will still be eight weeks minimum before I can get back on my bike for the 22 mile daily round trip to work and back. The longer term prognosis is for full return of strength and mobility in my right shoulder.

Now I have an awesome five inch scar, and a great deal more insight into medicine and the body, and a new appreciation for what these professional athletes have to go through in surgery and recovery from serious injuries that because of the state of medicine and the nature of the sport on the outside we often view as pedestrian.

Apropos to this discussion is Redskins tailback Clinton Portis, as you may recall he suffered a dislocated shoulder in preseason game one of 2006 against the Bengals, looking back at that injury now and comparing it to mine, Clinton had a dislocation of the glenohumeral joint, the ball of the humerus which is the upper arm bone separated from the joint cup, or glenoid fossa, the bone slipped out of the joint and put stress on the ligaments and joint capsule, but there was no separation of the collar bone from the acromium or tearing of ligaments. That injury can come back if the sufferer comes back too early and the tissue around the ball has not sufficiently tightened back up, which is what happened to Clinton later that season.

Clinton's injury was a dislocation, mine by comparison was a separation, where the joint itself is injured and in my case, basically disintegrated.

Of all the shitty experiences to have to go through this one has been enlightening. Now back to regular football programming.

Photo of my right shoulder by me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fire Pits? Really?

Just another winter's night in New Jersey, pass the Mad Dog

I must say the news that New York New Jersey was awarded Super Bowl 48 in 2014, following the 2013 season was not entirely a surprise to me. After the attacks on September 11, 2001 forced a postponement of the week two games back to January 2002 following the regular week seventeen, the topic of New York and Washington getting a Super Bowl in recognition of getting attacked or something was in vogue for a couple of years.

As these sorts of things are wont, nothing happened and the topic mercifully, at least for the league's sake, died, Americans having a persistent ability to live only in the present meant that everyone got to feel good about the idea with no real action being required, kind of like that college friend you really want to get together with for a drink but never find yourself getting it scheduled; you both know the intentions are sincere and that satisfies the social contract.

So that talk is gone and years later replaced with a wicked strong New York lobby led by Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and Jets owner Woody Johnson, with the league's love of new stadiums and their attendant rejuvenation of a product nearing a hundred years old, these guys cornered the other owners and called in all their chits: outdoor Super Bowl in their brand spanking new stadium.

No the surprise was not that there will be a cold weather Super Bowl, the surprise is that it took this long to get on the schedule. And Washington can get in line for its own Super Bowl party... as soon as the Redskins have a shiny new venue, somewhere.

The politics around an outdoor Super Bowl are interesting, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and New England have all opened new stadia in the past decade and Chicago's Soldier Field has had a major renovation, though there has been nothing new since 2003. So why is the league ready to make what some owners are referring to as a one time exception to the temperature rule now?

In some cases you can probably cross out a city on weather, maybe rainy Seattle, ten feet of snow in Denver and fucking cold for crazy people in Chicago. In other cases you can probably line out a team based on their standing in the franchise community, Cincinnati has been poorly run for most of the past twenty years, and Cleveland, whose new stadium opened in 1999, still has yet to find an identity as a reborn team.

So that leaves Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New England. Hunh. Why would we wait until now to give a team an outdoor Super Bowl when these awesome new stadiums have been available for most of the last ten years?

According to, the average February high and low temperatures and average February precipitation for the four cities are as follows:

Pittsburgh: 21/39 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.47 inches
Philadelphia: 28/42 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.74 inches
Boston: 24/39 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.30 inches
New York: 24/40 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.94 inches

So lows are in a seven degree band and highs are in a three degree band. Precip is in an eight tenths of an inch band.

Just for reference, Washington DC clocks into February with 30/47 degrees Fahrenheit with 2.63 inches of precip, warmer than the other three and with less precip than all but Pittsburgh where they don't drink water they drink Iron City but I digress.

So if we eliminate Boston based on precip, that three tenths differential is equivalent to one medium sized winter rain storm that leaves Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York with nearly identical stats.

How did New York get the game? Simple answer, the league is based in New York so it is a home game for the league itself, there are two teams playing in that new stadium and both owners are rich and powerful. That's the way it goes.

Reading into plans for dealing with weather, I see that the league is considering supply fire pits in the parking lot for the game (op. cit.), of course fire pits in New Jersey will evoke in your imagination a bunch of cirrhotic hobos standing around a barrel fire, in other words Giants fans. But since this will be a Super Bowl these hobos will be in 2000 dollar overcoats drinking Grey Goose martinis and dabbing something creamy off the corners of their mouths discussing Hamptons vacations instead of wearing a dead guy's peacoat and chugging Eight Ball between coarse mouthfuls of hoagie arguing about that time Rodney Hampton spit on them.

Further, heated seats and pocket hand warmers are also in the plan for dealing with the cold weather at New Meadowlands Stadium, these are two more items you would never give to a Giants fan. The Giants fan would use his switchbade to strip the seat warmer open and snort the contents or simply swing it at the face of his nearest neighbor. And Giants fans do not require pocket hand warmers, as the hands of a Giants fan remain resolutely in his pockets at all times when not engaged in holding a beer or flipping the bird at a ref, while en pocket the Giants fan's hand generates more than adequate heat from, er friction, rendering pocket hand warmers irrelevant and possibly even dangerous to the lower extremities.

And how funny is it that douchebag New Jersey governor Chris Christie is calling the league on its bullshit, neither team plays in New York so stop calling it the New York Super Bowl, it's in New Jersey.

Hobos around a barrel fire: from here via here and here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Brian Westbrook Would Be a Good Fit in Washington

Because why the hell not?

At first when it was reported that former Eagles tailback was meeting with the Redskins in Ashburn back on 11 May, I figured it was a courtesy call, after all Brian was no longer with the Eagles, Donovan McNabb his quarterback for all eight seasons as a pro was with a new team and no doubt looking for a solid hook up, and lastly and most apropos to a Washington visit was Brian's participation in an event on behalf of the NFL High School Player Development program at Spingarn High School in the District of Columbia.

You see Brian is a DeMatha Catholic High School alumni, class of 1997, and Stags coach Bill McGregor sponsors this area event annually. Coach McGregor has been at DeMatha for an incredible 26 years and beyond wild success on the field has fostered an extreme loyalty on the part of literally generations of football players. The players never forget the lessons learned with him and in return help coach McGregor enslave the world for Satan's glory spread his message on the value of team sports in the lives of young men.

That conventional wisdom, that the Redskins would never take a flyer on an aging and oft injured tailback when Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and Clinton Portis were already on the roster, turned out to be wrong when the Redskins made a contract offer to Brian on 2 June. And it makes total sense and Brian should come join the team. Here is why, in three easy bullets:

1. There are no sacred cows in the backfield. Clinton Portis may be scheduled to make 6.4 million dollars in 2010 whether or not he plays a down of real football (op. cit.), I can tell you with certainty this does not mean a good goddamn to coach Mike Shanahan. Coach will put the player with the best chance to succeed in the backfield, and will no doubt rotate all backs as game and injury circumstances warrant. There may not be a feature back for this team in 2010, it may be a true committee, I am confident that coach Shanahan is relishing the competitive prospects of pitting every able bodied but glory fading tailback into a competition for quality in which the team is the winner. Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, Clinton Portis, why not throw Brian Westbrook in there and let the best men get the touches?

2. How and how well the offensive line will block is still an open question. Surely a topic for longer analysis, the theme of the offensive line this offseason is flexibility. Trent Williams and Jammal Brown have both played both tackle positions. Artis Hicks can see that versatility and raise you experience at right guard. And while this apparent embarrassment of options bodes well for a unit that has been in steady decline really since 2007, all the pieces still need to get put into place. How they play, play together and play the schemes together is still to be determined, no matter what comes out there can be a back to suit that line's strengths; Larry Johnson was a punishing north south runner in his prime, Willie Parker a fast and shifty outside runner and Clinton Portis at his height was slippery like Emmitt Smith, capable of eluding tackles in the hole. Now toss in Brian Westbrook, a solid off tackle runner, elusive in traffic and a superior pass catcher. There is no downside in adding one more option for maximizing offensive line play.

3. Brian Westbrook gives Donovan McNabb a reliable target on day one. Brian caught 426 passes in eight seasons with the Eagles, that is 53 a season, obviously the huge bulk of them were from Dono, these guys have that chemistry that comes from knowing how a guy runs and catches and how a guy times and throws. I know coach Shanahan wanted to have everyone on board that was coming aboard by last week's mandatory camp, Brian is a professional and can pick up the offense in camp. As much as the next Redskins fan I want to see the team run a bruising time sucking ground attack, there are questions about the receiver positions and I would not deny a quarterback with Donovan's experience his choice of fallback targets as the team sets the stage for 2010.

Bonus: It would piss off Eagles fans to no end if Brian and Dono succeed. In the Bizarro football culture of the Eagles these guys were loved until they were not, all Dono ever did was make it clear again and again that he wanted to stay in Philadelphia forever, despite his accomplishments the fans never settled in on Dono as their permanent quarterback for better or for worse, instead with every shaky outing, loss or injury radio WIP had them on the air, raging Eagles fans demanding an end to the Donovan McNabb experiment once and for all. With Jeff Garcia's success in 2006 and Kevin Kolb's promise the past two seasons the bloom was off the rose, despite maybe three to five more good seasons in Dono's future. As a guest of the Eagles once a year guaranteed I can tell you first hand that Eagles fans loved Donovan's production but never really loved Donovan. And as Dono went so did Brian.

Get on board Brian, the Redskins are getting the band back together!

Brian Westbrook evading former Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin: Uncredited image from here via here and here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Next Phone Should Be?

Two way fanboy might not be able to resist

Last year before the 2009 NFL season my five year old Hewlett-Packard desktop PC finally failed, leaving me with a model year 2000 Compaq Armada M700 notebook as my only PC, an awesome and bulletproof laptop for its time, by 2009 poor thing could not run Windows XP and more than one application at a time, in researching and writing the typical Curly R post I have three or five or ten Firefox windows open at a time and forget trying to run Photoshop and get anything done.

So I finally took the plunge and bought a Mac and I have never looked back, it is supremely superior to anything I have ever used, I love it.

My phone is about to hit two years old, a Blackberry Curve that I had to get for a job I no longer have, I have always hated this phone with two exceptions: true satellite GPS and multiple recipients on text messages. I will be getting a new phone before the 2010 NFL season.

Mrs. Curly R has an iPhone 3GS and loves it, I think it is pretty cool but I had been looking to branch out to something else, with the Google Nexus One now available for AT&T I thought I would try that. But the 530 dollar price tag gives me pause. AT&T has been slow to get off the Android stick, with their first corporate offering not an open unit, clearly AT&T's alliance with Apple is preventing them from offering truly unfettered devices.

I am going to have to give this all some more thought now that I have learned Redskins new actual general manager uses an iPhone. I know it should not be surprising, I still think it is cool, up until now the Redskins culture under Dan Snyder has screamed Blackberry, all business and no fun.

iPhone 3GS from here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Last Con - Part Two

He thinks it's all a game

Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth found every reason not to come hang out with his football team, even after they paid him more than 30 million dollars to. Finally with a mandatory minicamp upon us, Albert revealed his devious plan: keep the money and demand a trade MWAHAHAHAHAAA. What he does not realize is now the guys on the other side of the table are grownups. The Curly R's two part series on the Albert Haynesworth trainwreck concludes.

Part One: You Hurt My Feelings and Besides I Already Have the Money
Part Two: Under New Management


Let us set things straight here from the outset: Fans would be pissed off at this situation no matter the year, no matter the coach, no matter the player. Sean Gilbert, Dana Stubblefield, Deion Sanders and more recently Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuleta and even Clinton Portis have all felt the sting of Redskins fans turning on them. The fact that the team decision makers behind these fiascos were mostly incompetent was and always will be beside the point.

Now that we have that straight we can examine the Albert Haynesworth situation through the lens of Washington's new management team, an executive group that had nothing to do with Albert's signing in the 2009 offseason:

1. Albert and his contract can be hung right around the neck of former shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato. Even if was entirely Dan Snyder's doing, new actual general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan have a disappeared and plausible scapegoat at the ready.

2. Mike Shanahan is thick in the new sheriff in town portion of his tenure, he was out of football for a year after losing a struggle over power in Denver and he is heavily invested in the Redskins job as vehicle to demonstrate to the football world that he is competent to the highest levels of football authority. Vague threats from Albert's agent are only going to get coach Shanahan's dander up, I bet you he is already working on his who the fuck do you think you are dealing with speech.

3. In February, before Albert was due his big check on 1 April, the team pushed back from the table in the run up to the 21 million dollar bonus he got that day and told Albert and his agent the team would release Albert if Team Albert could another club to sign with, presumably that new team would assume part or all of the 1 April bonus. They could not and I suspect that was less because of interest or lack thereof by other teams and more due to the demotivating presence of such a large guaranteed check, my guess would be that couple calls were made then they said fuck it, let's take the money and deal with it later. Another option of course could have been a mutually acceptable delay in the payment while gears turned. That did not happen either.

Either way, the team made it clear IF YOU TAKE THE MONEY YOU ARE ON THE TEAM (op. cit.). Management will not take kindly to Albert trying to have his cake and eat it too.

4. Albert has sabotaged any real or realistic opportunity to move him for fair compensation. No one has seen him play or had a chance to evaluate his conditioning so there are football questions. Clearly there will also be character questions about a guy that will take 32 million dollars before playing a thirteenth game with a team and still bitch about scheme and role before even coming in and trying it out. While we as fans may see it as Albert being an asshole, every general manager in the league is looking at it clinically, wondering if I bring him in how long until he does this to us? The Redskins owe him no favors at this point so why would they entertain taking an obvious loss on moving him when he can be of use disgruntled in burgundy and gold?

Albert has made a grave miscalculation. You see, he thinks with his contract that he calls the shots. And misguided and immature as that viewpoint is, it is not entirely without justification. In years past with Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder trying to be really smart behind closed doors then folding like deck chairs in public, yesterday would have been the beginning of a negotiation that would have ended with assurances that Albert can be Albert in whatever defense the team plays, that the team quote remains committed to the investment made in Albert Haynesworth unquote. Being so unqualified in football decision making inevitably led to that old management team getting pushed around. A lot.

No indeed, this management team could not give a rat's ass about Albert Haynesworth. This situation is a guaranteed public relations slam dunk for Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. If they work things out with Albert then that means Albert backed down and we know who is in charge. The team benefits from Albert's play and the fans put anger on hold.

If things do not change and Albert is forced to stay with the Redskins, then 2010 will be a seven month walk of shame for him, every broadcast team is going to have a camera fixed on him the entire game, every pained, disgusted or blank expression on his face all season will be seen on every highlight show. Even better will be if he sits out and racks up ten grand a day in fines. Either way football fans have turned on him and we will have fun mocking him and lay none of the blame for his lack of productivity or wasted salary on management.

And if the team does part ways with him, either by cutting him and taking a potential salary cap hit in the future, or by trading him for a ham sandwich or by buying him out, whatever the means does not matter, then fans will forgive whatever the consequences because no matter the cost in the short term, this is a long term decision to improve the team.

Albert thought he could call the shots or walk away with more than 30 million dollars for twelve games' work. And he still may but I can tell you what, he will not get out unscathed and he will never get another contract close to what he got last year, he has assured his legacy is one of greed and selfishness, not commitment to winning. The days of overpriced veterans coming to Washington and running the show are over.

Albert Haynesworth: Reuters Pictures from here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Last Con - Part One

Bait and bitch

That thud you heard this morning was Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's public image falling dead to the floor in Washington, the death certificate will list cause of death as ACUTE STUPIDITY. Today The Curly R returns with a two part series on Albert Haynesworth's flameout and the likely consequences him and for the team.

Part One: You Hurt My Feelings and Besides I Already Have the Money
Part Two: Under New Management


In case you missed it, Albert Haynesworth has reappeared, not to attend the mandatory minicamp that started today where he would have shown off his no doubt chiseled physique sculpted in the cauldrons of a private training regimen so rigorous and so far exceeding anything head coach Mike Shanahan could conceive with his paltry thirty five years experience as a football coach that media heads would turn, Jason Reid would blush John Keim would stammer and Rich Tandler would later admit that it moved.

No, Albert reappeared to tell the world through his agent that he will not be attending the mandatory minicamp and further that he demands a trade, and all because he has been lied to. By the team. Now, in the past and presumably in the future.

Here are the empiricals: Albert showed for the very first day of team activities, not to work out but to tell coach Shanahan that he would be pursuing his own offseason conditioning in order to get back to the Pro Bowl level he showed in 2007 and 2008. Then the team paid Albert 21 million dollars bringing his total compensation in one plus seasons to 32 million dollars. Later we learned there were some hard feelings, even after getting a 21 million dollar hug, about how 2009 went down and whether Albert got to be Albert. With Vinny Cerrato and that former management regime in the rearview at this point, everything was possible.

Even the distant early rumblings that the switch to a 3-4 base defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was not going to work for Albert, Redskins fans were more or less comfortable that for the money Albert was getting and new actual general manager Bruce Allen's desire to turn the Redskins into a winner on the fly without a huge multiyear reclamation project that the two sides would work it out and move forward. And in 2010 the Redskins would once again possess a dominant defense and everyone gets to claim victory.

Now Albert is out with a trade demand and an accusation that he has been lied to, that owner Dan Snyder's big promises - and big checkbook - of letting Albert be Albert were not kept, that former defensive coordinator as old school as you can still get Greg Blache held Albert back and forced him to conform to a scheme that called for Albert to occupy players while teammates made the backfield plays and that no way in hell is he ever going to play in a 3-4 as a nose tackle.

Forget for a moment that Albert seemed out of shape in 2009, got winded easily and as predicted missed a quarter of the season. But remember that when he was having a good game last season, he was having a great game. Now think about what he has done this offseason and what he is asking now.

Albert just made the biggest mistake of his career.

The Last Con concludes tomorrow with part two, Under New Management.

Albert Haynesworth: Reuters Pictures from here.