Friday, January 28, 2011

Cat Conti's NFL Dream and the NFL Lock Out

News from the college football and NFL worlds. . .

Cat Conti

I've mentioned Cat's story in other posts. Briefly, she is a local woman who is following her dream to become the first woman referee in the NFL.

She started out about 11 years ago working high school Freshmen and J.V. games here in Ventura County. Since then she has worked her way up the officiating ranks to work high school Varsity games, then Junior College games and finally Division II college contests.

Next year, she becomes only the second woman to be deemed worthy to officiate football games at the Division I-AA (I know, it is officially the "NCAA Championship Subdivision" but really. . .) college level having been assigned to work Southland Conference games.

The Southland Conference is made up of eight football playing universities -- Central Arkansas, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwesteern Missouri State, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin State and Texas State.

Cat keeping her eye on the prize. . .
the NFL!

To read more about her interesting story and vew a video clip on her, go to the following Fox Sports link:

Meanwhile, back in the NFL today, the possible player's lock out is still looming. I got this e-mail from Scott Fujita about an ad that the NFL Player's Association has produced, be sure to click on the link below and watch it

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, the NFLPA released our Super Bowl Ad titled, "Let Us Play." The ad (watch it HERE) was produced in an attempt to reach NFL fans far and wide to visually convey what a lockout would mean to players and fans. Given the realities of a lockout, we were budget conscious in producing this piece and will be budget conscious in its distribution. We will not be spending $3 million for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl. Besides, the NFL is so popular and successful that those ads have been sold out for months now; even if we wanted to air it during the game, we probably couldn't.

The piece will air in a 30-second version, four times, during the NFLPA College All-Star Game next Saturday on CBS College Sports Network as part of our original contract with the organizers of the game.

Our ability to distribute this video broadly so that it has maximum impact relies on the media and social media network we've established. It also relies on friends and family working their inboxes and emailing it around for all to see. Simply put, I encourage you to email this, tweet this, post it on your Facebook or other social networking pages.

· Tweet the following: RT @NFLLockout #LETUSPLAY Super Bowl Ad launches – Players and Fans stand together to #BlocktheLockout

· Post the video to your Facebook page with the following: Check out the players’ online Super Bowl Ad: Let Us Play (link:

· Post on your website and let others know how they can sign the Petition and receive the most up-to-date information on NFL and Player labor news.

Below is the description attached to the Super Bowl Ad:
"Here we are, Super Bowl, the biggest event in sports, and an NFL Lockout looms very large. As the NFL celebrates its most successful season ever, NFL owners are preparing to lock out players and fans from their game starting in March. Owners have not opened their books or offered justification for this threat. The players want to play and the fans want to see them play. So, why won't the Owners take a Lockout off the table? Do your part as a fan and help Block the Lockout.

To sign the Block the Lockout Petition and for more information, please visit

Super Bowl Ad details: Produced by NFLPA (with Third Story Films - & New Media Strategies - using a limited budget due to the threat of a lockout. The distribution plan leverages new/social media channels with minimal costs."

Thank you for your help and participation.

Kevin Mawae NFLPA President
NFL Players Association

Santa Cruz Island

The Channel Islands National Park is made up of five islands located off the coast of Southern California. This National Park includes San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands. Athough we have lived in Ventura County for over 40 years, we have never been out to visit any of them.

The closest I've been to one of these islands was on a Rio Mesa H.S. faculty deep sea fishing expedition where, for about a minute, I grappled with a sea lion before my line broke.

On my only other occasion to get near the Channel Islands, Laurie and I were again on a Rio Mesa H.S. faculty outing, this time on a whale watching trip.

So, with this as a background, we jumped at an offer from our friend Paul Petrich to join him on a five mile hike on Santa Cruz Island, the biggest of the five being 22 miles long and two to six miles wide!

Once a month Paul volunteers his time to lead hikers on tours of the island, so on Thursday away we went.

Southern California's Channel Islands

We started our day at Ventura's Harbor as we boarded one of the Island Packer's boats for the one hour ride to Santa Cruz Island's Scorpion Anchorage.

At Ventura Harbor ready to hike

It was another gorgeous January day in SoCal, about 78º F/ 26º C.

The peaceful moorings in Ventura's Harbor


We were joined aboard ship by about 70 students from Camarillo's University Preparation School located near the campus of California State University, Channel Islands. Lots of energy in these students, fortunately they would not be a part of Paul's small tour/hike group once we got to the island.

Sea Lions basking in the sunshine

Our trip out to Santa Cruz Island proved to be a bit slower than our return as we stopped to observe various forms of marine wildlife that we encountered. Paul was very infomative in describing what we were seeing.

Paul hard at work teaching all of us about the National Park on the ride to
Santa Cruz Island

A School of Dolphins

Who doesn't love to watch these marine mammals frolicking in the open sea.


The school of dolphins completely surrounded us, there were hundreds of them. Paul informed us that the rule of thumb is that for every dolphin spotted on the surface, six more are running underwater. . .

. . . that means that there were around 700 dolphins in our midst

Santa Cruz Island looming ahead

Laurie considereing doing one of those "Titanic" things at the prow of the
Island Packers' boat

A Gray Whale Sighting

The Santa Barbara Channel that separates the Channel Islands from the California coastline is a major migration route for whale's from Alaska on the way to their breeding gounds in Mexico and back. We spotted this one about five minutes before landing at Scorpion Anchorage.

Scorpion Anchorage

The Scorpion Ranch

After disembarking, we started our hike at the site of this former sheep ranch.

The California Coastline in the distance

Nutrition rich kelp beds abound. . .

. . . as do life threatening cliffs

Anacapa Island in the distance

We ate lunch on the bluffs
above Potato Harbor

The Island Fox

These docile animals have no fear of humans and are about the size of a small dog or a large cat perhaps. We saw four of them as we were returning to Scorpion Bay at the end of our hike.

Our total day, including the round trip boat ride, lasted about seven and a half hours. It was well worth the time thanks to Paul's information and guidance and, of course, the cooperation from nature!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Not too much going on over the last two weeks but we still need to do some catching up. Let's start with Sunday's NFL Conference Championship games.

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers 21 - Chicago Bears 14

The difference was this Pick-Six by the Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji from 18 yards out, an agonizingly slow "run" to daylight. The score does not reflect the overall domination by the Packers who are now seeking their 13th NFL Championship and fourth Super Bowl trophy.

AFC Championship Game
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 - New York Jets 19

The Steelers are just so darn physical! Pittsburgh will be trying to win their seventh Super Bowl rings in eight tries.

Even though the Las Vegas odds makers like the Packers by 2 1/2 points this morning, I believe that the Steelers will win because of their toughness.

Now, in news from the net. . .

I got a request from one Tina Sans about two books titled, "Ten Most Dramatic Bowl Games of All Time" and "Ten Legendary Coaches in College Football History." Check them out at these links:

Johan Hammarqvist forwarded me thisc article from NorraSkåne about the latest doings with the Hässleholm Hurricanes 2011 season:

Scott Fujita
NFL Veteran Linebacker
Kansas City Chiefs, 2002-2004
Dallas Cowboys, 2005
New Orleans Saints, 2006-2009
Cleveland Browns, 2010

I received this rather interesting e-mail from Scott Fujita, a former Rio Mesa H.S. player who is now with the Cleveland Browns, about the upcoming NFL Labor unrest. It is something to think about for sure.

Please accept my apologies for the mass email.

I encourage everyone to view the links at the bottom of the page and share with anyone you think might be interested.

We're approaching the end of the current league year in the NFL, and if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn't reached by midnight March 4, the players could be locked out. Translation: We can't even show up for work. The players have suggested having a "lock-in," where we would basically hunker down in a hotel somewhere for as long as needed and hammer out a new CBA before the clock strikes midnight. We have received no response from the league about this.

What all this means is that our families will lose their health coverage, injured players will no longer get treated by our doctors and trainers, and games could be cancelled. Do I expect anyone to feel sorry for us? Absolutely not. The real issue is what's at stake for everyone involved in the business of football and the undeniable impact that a lack of football will reap.

Each NFL city is expected to lose about $150,000,000. Trust me, the city of Cleveland can't afford that. And as for the city of New Orleans, whose economy is so dependent on the service industry and visitors staying in their hotels and eating in their restaurants, it's just not fair to them. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently claimed a lockout wouldn't be all that devastating. For someone with his level of influence, that's one of the most irresponsible things I've heard yet.

This is much bigger than some gripe the owners have with the players. So what's the gripe? In a nutshell, the owners are demanding that the players play two more games each year AND take an 18% pay-cut. And when we ask why, they tell us it's none of our business. The players are willing to be reasonable about this, and if we knew the NFL had fallen on hard times and that sacrifices were a must, then that's a different story. But as we all know, the league is doing just fine. Revenues are as high as they've ever been and the fan-base is growing every year.

This season, TV ratings for regular season NFL games blew the World Series out of the water. The NFL has negotiated TV deals that will pay them $4.5 billion in 2011...even if NO games are played. So when we ask them to explain how the "current economic model is broken," I think that's a pretty justifiable question. And this season, when it comes to player safety, the NFL suddenly pretended to be the flag-bearers for our health and well-being. This comes after years of denying even the possibility of a link between the game of football, concussions, and long-term traumatic brain injury. And despite the raised level of awareness concerning our post-career health realities, they still want two more games and haven't even suggested any improvements in post-career care. Their hypocrisy infuriates me.

Right now we get just five years of coverage after leaving this game. Five. And that's only if you're lucky enough to become vested. In the meantime, more and more of our brothers fall victim to ALS, dementia and depression, among other afflictions. My heart screams for these men. Add to that the hip and knee replacements that are sure to come up 10, 15, 20 years after we stop playing. And through the whole PR battle that's currently being waged, in what some are calling a battle of greed between "millionaires and billionaires," the players have asked for nothing. Ultimately, we just want to be taken care of after we leave this game.

My message to the NFL: You say you care about us. . . now please, prove it. For the sake of guys like Andre Waters, O.J. Brigance, Orlando Thomas, Earl Campbell and Mike Webster. . . prove it.

So what can you do? Visit to submit your petition to block this lockout and to find out how you can participate with "Let us Play Day" on Tuesday, January 28.

And if you're feeling really ambitious, a letter to your local Congressional leader could potentially go a long way. I know a lot of people would prefer that Washington just stay out of this; that it's none of their business. But when whole communities of people will be adversely affected by this lockout, my feeling is that they absolutely have an obligation to take an interest in what's at stake here.

Listen, I know there's a lot of posturing out there right now, and I recognize that this email could be viewed in the same light. But everyone in this email chain are friends and family, and as things start to get cloudy these next few months, I wanted you to hear the truth from me. And trust me, I "get" that this is just a game. But I've lived and worked in communities that I'm convinced can't afford to lose football. And there are people very dear to me whose current health and well-being may have been negatively influenced by this game. These are the issues I care about. These are the issues that light my fire.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I wish you all the best for the new year.
Scott Fujita
Linebacker, Cleveland Browns
Executive Committee, NFLPA

As you read this, the Italian and Swedish football seasons are getting started with pre-season workouts beginning. For the first time in three years I am not going to be a part of one of those seasons of EuroBall and I'm already missing the excitement of coaching and living in Europe for six months. . . DAMN!

At least I was comforted by last night's great sunset over the Pacific Ocean as viewed from our home in Camarillo.

God Natt!