Dustin Parkes

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Okay. So, I know you’re probably going to see this picture and your attention will be immediately drawn to Jared Veldheer, the 325 pound offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders, and rightfully so. It appears as though Veldheer’s diet consists exclusively of titan shank and X-Men blood.

However, I beseech you to look to Veldheer’s left in order to attain the proper perspective.

Those three men are likely the biggest fish in the majority of ponds. They are without a doubt the muskies of their respective lakes. They all weigh in excess of 200 pounds, and they’re all absolutely dwarfed by Veldheer. They look like miniature Mousketeers next to the offensive tackle.

I’m unsure if they’re his friends, or merely an appetizer for the main course.

According to Silver & Black Pride, Veldheer has been beefing up in preparation for the Raiders switch back to a power blocking scheme. I’d imagine that his off-season routine is probably a good start to ensuring more playing time this coming year.

Distance has a way of making us look foolish. That’s not a reference to draw plays on third and long, or even when a hefty lineman recovers a fumble for a long-winded (and almost always hilarious) touchdown. It’s an allusion to the embarrassment we feel when we’re reminded of our history.

It seems almost impossible to believe that the Washington Redskins had to be threatened with legal action by the President of the United States before the team would sign African American players to its roster in 1962. It’s equally difficult to remember that a steroid-fueled Lyle Alzado was allowed to run rampant on offenses through the seventies and eighties. While problems resulting from racism and performance enhancing drug use haven’t been completely resolved, the fact that such practices weren’t more eagerly condemned at the time is now a cause for mortification.

It’s with this in mind that I imagine future generations having difficulty accepting the current inherent tolerance of drinking and driving present at every level of the National Football League. This disturbing practice came to its zenith this past Sunday when Josh Brent, a week removed from being charged with driving under the influence and intoxication manslaughter, found himself on the sidelines watching his team, the Dallas Cowboys, take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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On Saturday, Jovan Belcher, an inside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide, shooting himself in the head in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli. Sadly, there is another element to the tragedy. Belcher and Perkins leave behind a three-month-old daughter named Zoey, who was being looked after by Belcher’s mother in the same house where the first shooting occurred.

The initial reaction to this news was to feel anger and rage that someone would steal life from another, and then take their own, avoiding consequence at the hands of others and abandoning another human whose caretaking was their natural responsibility. Then, a brief moment of consideration revealed that there is never a simple explanation to the motivation behind any of our actions, least of all the most heinous. That isn’t meant to excuse what Belcher did, only to state that such heart-rending happenings leave little room for our own poorly-informed judgment.

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It is difficult to imagine a single play resulting in a higher production of justified finger-pointing and warranted blame than what occurred during Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions.

When something happens that is considered contentious, the controversy typically arises out of differing perspectives. What seems obvious to me is anything but for someone else. What’s so remarkable about the hullabaloo that erupted out of last week’s 81-yard touchdown run by Texans running back Justin Forsett is the lack of disagreement over the sequence of events.

Down by ten points, more than half way through the third quarter, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub handed the ball off to Forsett on second down with ten yards to go. The running back was granted a hole by his offensive line as devastating as a wound in need of suture. However, six yards after the line of scrimmage he was tackled by Lions safeties Erik Coleman and Louis Delmas.

Despite a knee and an elbow both touching turf, Forsett popped up in one continuous motion, in a manner that only the supremely athletic would even attempt, and ran 75 additional yards into the end zone through a why-bother Detroit defense.

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