Blondes vs. Brunettes

A football game of a different type for a great cause

Whether it was a blonde or brunette, the competition on the field was fierce. Quy Tran photography

Red Sox vs. Yankees, Oklahoma vs. UT…..these rivalries don’t have anything on Blondes vs. Brunettes. We compete on and off the field. Literally. Every year in dozens of cities two all-female squads consisting of Blondes and Brunettes battle it out in a game of flag football. We can’t pull hair, so they give us flags. But we do some good with our hate. The game helps raise hundreds of thousands in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Going into my second season of Blondes vs. Brunettes, I am on Team Blonde (thanks to Loreal blonde dye). It’s pretty exciting to be part of such a great charity and event. All our teammates and coaches play for their own reasons. For some of my teammates the fight against this terrible disease is deeply personal.

For months leading up to the big game, we train for this. Blood, sweat, and tears. I poured my soul into each practice, and so did everyone else. On the first practice one girl broke her finger and one of our receivers took an elbow to the forehead, blood gushing.  You would have thought we were playing for the AAC championship and we were not even to the big game yet.

Two weeks before the game I’m playing corner in the red zone. We had about five minutes left of practice to finish this last drive. No way I was going to let them score on my side. As we lined up I saw one of our top receivers in my zone. Picture a Crossfit enthusiast, coming at me full speed.  Whistle blows, play starts, quarterback drops back and looks in my direction. The QB starts to scramble, looks in our direction, but I am all over this receiver. I can see her frustration not being able to get open. I am also frustrated. Seconds felt like an eternity, running all over the end zone. Finally, the ball is thrown. Our bodies are running together as one towards the center of the end zone. I take one step to the right, she immediately stops and reaches left for the ball. Her body’s momentum carried her into mine. We both ended up on the ground. But the good news is… so did the ball. I broke up the play. I got up, but after a few steps my adrenaline wore off and my knee gave out. I dragged myself behind the end zone, to get out of the next play. My coaches and teammates had to help me off the field.

With only two  weeks until the game, my knee was swollen and I was in pain. At this point I was unsure if I could even play in the game.  I spent the next two weeks rehabbing, trying to get back onto the field to play. My recovery came along great and the trainers at UH actually thought it was just a knee sprain. I insisted I was ready for the game, even though I had to wear a giant knee brace.

Finally, game day was here. I warmed up with my knee brace and although it did hurt at times, I stood up strong and said “put me in coach.” I got my chance to go in for a few plays in the first half and I painfully shook it off. I went in again in the second half, but I was frustrated since I wasn’t full speed or playing all out, like I know I can. Putting all that aside, I realized what was most important that day. We came together as a team, cheering each other on, pushing our teammates to keep the drive up until the end. It was such a close game and the team’s camaraderie helped pull together the win that day. The Blondes took the win by one touchdown in the end, to make it three years in a row.

Yet another amazing game and season of Blondes vs. Brunettes football. It turns out I had been trying to play on a completely torn ACL and partially torn meniscus after the MRI results. But it’s OK, I have seven months to recover. I’m coming back from a torn ACL next year, Adrian Peterson style.

 

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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