The World is Mad at Danica Patrick and I Don’t Know Why (yes I do)

As you likely are aware of by now, Saturday night’s Monster Energy Cup Series race in Kansas was marred by a fiery crash that left driver Aric Almirola hospitalized overnight with a compression fracture in his back.

Oh yeah, Danica Patrick was also involved in the crash, though the vibe on social media suggests I shouldn’t bring that up or talk about it. Apparently it’s disrespectful to Almirola to discuss Danica’s awful luck/vicious collisions of late as well as her growing frustration. I suppose I should also avoid mentioning that Martin Truex Jr. won the event Saturday night. Oh, no, that’s ok to talk about, but Danica can’t be mentioned.

What happened to Almirola is awful and may very well combine with the points penalty incurred at Talladega be the final nail in the coffin to his playoff hopes. However, one can discuss other angles of this story and other storylines regarding this race without disrespecting Almirola. And if it were just about any other driver being focused on, hardly a gripe would be heard.

But it’s not just any other driver. It’s a woman. And while she is loved and adored by many, especially younger girls, she’s still very reviled by much of the traditional fan base. And the reason is simple; She’s a woman. Men hate her for being a woman in a “man’s sport” while women resent her for being both talented and attractive to boot. These are people with whom she’ll never win, and people waiting to pounce on anything they can find to criticize her and drag her through the mud.

Saturday night, in their mind, gave them such an opportunity.

Never mind that she was turned head on into a wall at 200 mph, just a week after having the same thing happen to her at Talladega. Or that she’s now a fifth year into what’s become a visibly frustrating foray into stock car racing. Forget that she was finally putting together a solid weekend and seemed poised to compete for a top ten finish. We’ll also gloss over the sponsorship fiasco where a company in over their head backed out of their contract just weeks before the season began. Forget all these things and let’s all be aghast and infuriated that these things came to a head in her interview and she had the audacity to speak on them upon exiting the infield care center on Saturday night.

Apparently she’s a selfish (insert multiple words typically designated to degrade women) because the focus of her interview was, gasp! her.

Did Joey Logano express great concern over Almirola after being interviewed following the same incident? Sure, but it’s apples and oranges.

Logano isn’t staring a career crossroads in the face, he doesn’t have sponsor and thus job security issues, he’s still having fun at the racetrack, and he hasn’t been subjected to nasty hits with the regularity Danica has. There’s also one other small difference; Even though by an uncontrollable freak accident, Logano is who caused both Danica and Almirola to endure such savage impacts. That matters.

I guess the NASCAR community wants to pretend Danica is the only person who has ever spent the duration of an interview discussing themselves and not spending enough time expressing concern for an injured driver.

In 1996 at Talladega when Bill Elliott broke his leg on the backstretch I’m positive the focus of driver interviews after the race was on expressing concern for his well-being. Oh, wait….

Well certainly in 1991 at Talladega when Kyle Petty suffered a broken leg in a multi-car crash the driver’s interviews were all about concern for Petty and weren’t focused heavily on criticizing the cause of the incident. No? Wait,  so fan favorites like Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin are self-centered a**####s?

Okay, so then certainly when Neil Bonnett suffered life threatening injuries at Darlington in 1990 the drivers expressed concern for him in their interviews and they too weren’t focused on criticizing the cause of the crash and weren’t lamenting their race being ruined, right? Well ok, then for sure when Bonnett’s own best friend won the race he mentioned something, right? Huh… I guess they should have kicked Dale Earnhardt out of NASCAR and he should’ve been ashamed of himself.

Danica comes from open wheel racing where she’s been privy to witness some brutal on track fatalities. Almirola put his window net down to indicate he was conscious and alert. So let’s stop pretending he was fighting for his life and she callously ignored it.

Secondly to that point, how much did Danica even know in regards to what was happening with him? Beyond seeing the net down, when she and Logano got into the ambulance who knows what she knew regarding the extent of his condition?

Was she possibly told in the infield care center? Possibly, but we don’t know specifically what she got told. But i think it’s safe to think that whatever information was given to her she was not led to think he was in any sort of grave danger.

Beyond that, even if told of his situation, how much do we know even resonated with her? She herself was visibly shaken by the incredible impact with which she hit the wall. As documented earlier, that’s not the first time she’s taken a nasty hit, and was the second time in less than a week.

She spoke specifically of her own concern that eventually one of these nasty wrecks is going to end badly for her. This was clearly weighing heavily on her, and has been for some time. She has friends and loved ones she cares about and has a fear of them being hurt by something bad happening to her. That’s not selfish of her.

And when something as rare and as freakish in nature like a brake rotor exploding on the car beside her at the fastest point on the racetrack occurs, its human nature to ask, “Why me?”. The chances of a rotor exploding at Kansas are rare enough, so for that perfect storm of events to come together like that, it’s perfectly understandable for her to start wondering if someone is trying to tell her something.

This alone more than provides adequate explanation and justification for her demeanor after the race. When you factor in the frustrations from the performance issues and questions of how much longer she wants to do this, or can do this, you’ve got to sit on a pretty high horse to be so judgemental of her for how she handled that interview.

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Ten Years Gone 

The​ clock ticked almost in the same way it had for the past three weeks,

Agonizingly slow, as if it had something to say but instead chose not to speak.

But tonight there was a bit more urgency in each passing minute and each passing hour,

Because soon this thing that had a grip on him would finally lose it’s power.

Every lyric from every song hit like tons of bricks,

Haunting words having provided this death by a thousand pin pricks.

But tonight was time to land the very final blow,

And just as intended, not one other person seemed to know.

The wheels had been set in motion several days before,

He’d known for a while what this night would have in store.

He’d left his job simply saying he need some personal time,

And when asked if he was okay he looked at them and lied.

It was the same response he’d give to anyone who tried to ask,

All that was left was one last and final task.

Everything was set in place and the hour was drawing near,

Never again would anyone suffer due to his presence here.

The battle that he felt that he could no longer win,

The hurting of those he loved, all of that would soon end.

So up he turned the vodka and down his throat went some pills,

One more step and the world would be rid of all his ills.

The intoxicating fumes should have been a deterrent,

And no one has been able to figure out how they weren’t.

It was finished, now all that was left was to wait to die,

But he realized that something seemed to be awry.

The clock that had been in what seemed to be slow motion,

Had essentially stopped and time seemed to be frozen.

The death he awaited hadn’t yet arrived,

As minutes seemed like hours it resonated more and more that he hadn’t died.

Panic ran through his mind as he thought this should have been over quicker,

And new sensations began to overcome him as he felt sicker and sicker.

Sickness began to give way to pure physical pain,

And not just any pain,  the kind that leads you pleading for mercy in vain.

He convinced himself that he could tough it out till he breathed his last,

So he just waited for the end to come,  praying it would get there fast.

But that’s not the way that things would go that night,

There was only one thing he could do, so full of shame, and void of all his pride,

With the pain too intense and a fear of failure all too real he called out for help from another,

A cry he absolutely didn’t want to make, a cry to his mother.

As he saw her face while loaded onto a stretcher he processed what he’d done,

As it turns out, the battle had just begun.

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The Nerdy Approach to Super Bowl LI

Anyone who knows me knows that if I’d spent 1/3 the time studying in school that I do studying sports, who knows what I could have accomplished in life. But the past is the past, and what’s present and future is this pretty big football game on Sunday night.

So of course I decided to delve deeper into the numbers. I don’t just wanna know who scored the most points and who allowed the fewest, and vice versa. I want to know how. More specifically I want to know how what we do matches up with what they do. I don’t want to just look at blanket rushing yards and yards allowed, I want to know what is likely to happen if we run over the right tackle, based on our success doing it, and their success stopping opponents. So I’ve done the homework, probably much to my boss’ chagrin, and have put this together for you.

For those unfamiliar with DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) it takes into consideration things like an opponent, down and distance, field position, and score. For a more complete and accurate explanation, check the guys out at Football Outsiders where they explain it all here. It’s a far better way of looking at a team than raw counting stats. Is it perfect? No, but it paints a lot more realistic of a picture than say, the stats that tell you the Patriots defense has been the league’s top unit. Psssssst, it hasn’t, and it’s not even close.

So I’ve taken the numbers and matched them up so you can get an idea of what to expect when we have the ball, when they have it, and how the special teams might shake out. If you see red lettering, it means it’s something that’s a Falcons advantage. If it’s blue, then that particular stat and trend would favor the Patriots. If both are colored, then it’s one of those pivotal swing match-ups that will likely determine this game. And if they’re both still the standard text color, then it’s not something either team excels at, or is bad at, but, if one team does get an edge there, it could be vital.

Obviously this is no guarantee of what will happen, or even close. They still gotta strap em up on Saturday night, but I think it can give you a good idea of what to expect. Take these and do what you may, closer to game time I’ll break it down in to what I expect to see Sunday night, and where the Pats will exploit us, but also where we can return the favor.

 

Overall

Atlanta – DVOA 19.6% (3rd), Weighted DVOA 19.8% (4th), Schedule 0.1% (16th)

New England – DVOA 25.3% (1st), Weighted DVOA 34.0% (1st), Schedule -8.0% (32nd)

 

Atlanta Offense – DVOA 25.3% (1st), Weighted DVOA 24.8% (2nd), Schedule -2.5% (2nd)

N.E. Defense – DVOA -1.5% (16th), Weighted DVOA -6.0% (11th), Schedule -7.1% (32nd)

Difference – 23.8%

 

Atlanta Defense – DVOA 8.1% (27th), Weighted DVOA 5.6% (22nd), Schedule -2.0% (24th)

N.E. Offense – DVOA 21.1% (2nd), Weighted DVOA 25.0% (1st), Schedule -0.7% (10th)

Difference – -29.2%

 

Atlanta Net Yards Per Drive – 6.02 (2nd)

New England Net Yards Per Drive – 6.66 (1st)

 

Atlanta Net Points Per Drive – 0.77 (2nd)

New England Net Points Per Drive – 1.11 (1st)

 

Atlanta Net Drive Success Rate – .037 (4th)

New England Net Drive Success Rate – .080 (1st)

When we have the ball:

Running Game –

Atlanta Run Offense – 1.7 % (7th)

New England Run Defense – -23.7% (4th)

 

Devonta Freeman – DYAR 147 (12th), DVOA 6.3% (14th), Success Rate 50% (12th)

Tevin Coleman – DYAR 86 (18th), DVOA 9.7% (12th), Success Rate 45% (25th)

 

Atlanta Adjusted Line Yards – 4.09 (10th)

New England Opponent Adjust Line Yards – 3.69 (11th)

 

Atlanta Power Success – 61% (17th)

New England Opponent Power Success – 63% (14th)

 

Atlanta Stuffed – 22% (23rd)

New England Opponent Stuffed – 17% (21st)

 

Atlanta 2nd Level Yards – 1.3 (7th)

New England Opponent 2nd Level Yards – 1.03 (7th)

 

Atlanta Open Field Yards – 1.2 (3rd)

New England Opponent Open Field Yards – 0.27 (1st)

 

Atlanta Left End ALY – 3.77 (22nd), 16% of 379 runs

New England Opponent Left End ALY – 3.00 (5th), 8% of 323 runs

 

Atlanta Left Tackle ALY – 4.41 (10th), 12% of runs

New England Opponent Left Tackle ALY – 4.09 (17th), 14% of runs

 

Atlanta Mid/Guard ALY – 4.26 (4th), 42 % of runs

New England Opponent Mid/Guard ALY – 3.76 (13th), 57% of runs

 

Atlanta Right Tackle ALY – 4.78 (4th), 13% of runs

New England Opponent Right Tackle ALY – 3.08 (6th), 7% of runs

 

Atlanta Right End ALY – 3.15 (21st), 16 % of runs

New England Opponent Right End ALY – 3.73 (20th), 13% of runs

 

Passing Game-

Atlanta Pass Offense – 53.0% (1st)

New England Pass Defense – 13.9% (23rd)

 

Matt Ryan – DYAR 1918 (1st), DVOA 40.2% (1st), 83.4 (1st)

 

Julio Jones – DYAR 458 (1st), DVOA 31.8% (2nd), Catch Rate 64.3%, DPI 6/132

Mohamed Sanu – DYAR 124 (43rd), DVOA 6.7% (34th), Catch Rate 73%, DPI 1/1

Taylor Gabriel – DYAR 189 (24th), DVOA 36.6 % (1st), Catch Rate 70%, DPI 1/25

Aldrick Robinson – DYAR 90 (55th), DVOA 24.1% (NA), Catch Rate 63%, DPI 0/0

Justin Hardy – DYAR 70 (59th), DVOA 14.8% (NA), Catch Rate 68%, DPI 0/0

 

Austin Hooper – DYAR 107 (11th), 47.1% (2nd), Catch Rate 70%, DPI 1/11

Levine Toilolo – DYAR 84 (16th), 56.8% (NA), Catch Rate 68%, DPI 0/0

 

Devonta Freeman – DYAR 140 (5th), 24.5% (6th), Catch Rate 83%

Tevin Coleman – DYAR 135 (6th), 48.5% (1st), Catch Rate 78%

 

N.E. vs #1 WR – DVOA 3.8% (20th), PA/G 8.4, YPG 73.1 (League Avg 8.4 & 69.8)

N.E. vs #2 WR – DVOA 6.6% (8th), PA/G 6.3, YPG 45.6 (League Avg 6.4 & 49.4)

N.E. vs Other WR – DVOA 5.4% (19th), PA/G 7.0, YPG 50.6 (League Avg 6.8 & 50.6)

N.E. vs TE – DVOA 3.1% (14th), PA/G 8.6, YPG 49.6 (League Avg 7.4 & 54.3)

N.E. vs RB – DVOA 5.7% (20th), PA/G 7.8, YPG 50.3 (League Avg 6.7 & 40.2)

 

N.E. vs Left – DVOA -21.2% (3rd) (Avg -1.3%)

N.E. vs Middle – DVOA 19.3% (17th) (Avg 12.8%)

N.E. vs Right – DVOA 9.8% (29th) (Avg -6.8%)

Deep – DVOA 20.8% (16th); Left -44.5%, Mid 97.6%, Right 39.8% (Avg, 13.0%, 48.3%, 15.1%)

Short – DVOA -4.7% (15th); Left -14.3%, Mid 2.8%, Right -1.2% (Avg, -5.1%, 5.7%, -11.9%)

 

Atlanta Opponents Adjusted Sack Rate – 6.5% (23rd), Sacks Allowed 37

Patriots Adjusted Sack Rate – 5.1% (26th), Sacks 34

Drive Stats-

Atlanta Yards Per Drive – 40.53 (1st)

New England Yards Allowed Per Drive – 28.82 (8th)

 

Atlanta Points Per Drive – 3.06 (1st)

New England Points Allowed Per Drive – 1.42 (1st)

 

Atlanta Drive Success Rate – .778 (1st)

New England Opponent Drive Success Rate – .662 (5th)

 

Atlanta Turnovers Per Drive – .066 (2nd)

New England Forced Turnovers Per Drive – .119 (17th)

 

Atlanta Interceptions Per Drive – .042 (6th)

New England Opponent Interceptions Per Drive – 0.73 (17th)

 

Atlanta Fumbles Per Drive – .024 (3rd)

New England Opponent Fumbles Per Drive – .045 (17th)

 

Atlanta Avg LOS – 28.52 (13th)

New England Opponent Avg LOS – 24.87 (1st)

 

Atlanta Plays Per Drive – 6.15 (13th)

New England Opponent Plays Per Drive – 5.79 (11th)

 

Atlanta Punts Per Drive – .289 (1st)

New England Opponent Punts Per Drive – .452 (6th)

 

Atlanta 3 & Outs Per Drive – .145 (1st)

New England Opponent 3 & Outs Per Drive – .249 (7th)

 

Atlanta Pts/Red Zone – 5.24 (6th)

New England Opponent Pts/Red Zone – 4.55 (6th)

 

Atlanta Avg Score Differential – 4.92 (2nd)

New England Opponents Avg Score Differential – -9.76 (1st)
When they have the ball:

Running Game –

Atlanta Run Defense – 2.5% (29th)

New England Run Offense – -3.4% (17th)

Difference – 0.9%

 

Legarette Blount – DYAR 132 (14th), DVOA 1.5% (18th), Success Rate 44% (28th)

Dion Lewis – DYAR 74 (19th), DVOA 21.1% (NA), Success Rate NA

 

Atlanta Opponent Adjusted Line Yards – 4.16 (25th)

New England Adjust Line Yards – 4.15 (9th)

 

Atlanta Opponent Power Success – 63% (16th)

New England Power Success – 59% (22nd)

 

Atlanta Opponent Stuffed – 19% (18th)

New England Stuffed – 20% (16th)

 

Atlanta Opponent 2nd Level Yards – 1.29 (26th)

New England 2nd Level Yards – 1.10 (21st)

 

Atlanta Opponent Open Field Yards – 0.64 (13th)

New England Open Field Yards – 0.60 (21st)

 

Atlanta Opponent Left End ALY – 3.56 (12th), 13% of 303 runs

New England Left End ALY – 4.88 (7th), 10% of 409 runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Left Tackle ALY – 3.66 (13th), 14% of runs

New England Left Tackle ALY – 3.53 (23rd), 13% of runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Mid/Guard ALY – 4.24 (27th), 50% of runs

New England Mid/Guard ALY – 4.12 (7th), 59% of runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Right Tackle ALY – 4.99 (32nd), 15% of runs

New England Right Tackle ALY – 4.01 (12th), 13% of runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Right End ALY – 3.99 (24th), 9% of runs

New England Right End ALY – 5.48 (3rd), 4% of runs

 

Passing Game-

Atlanta Pass Defense – 11.6% (19th)

New England Pass Offense – 50.5% (2nd)

Difference – -62.1%

 

Tom Brady – DYAR 1295 (5th), DVOA 33.8% (2nd), 83.1 (2nd)

 

Julian Edelman – DYAR 48 (65th), DVOA -8.7% (69th), Catch Rate 62.0%, DPI 1/12

Chris Hogan – DYAR 145 (35th), DVOA 18.1% (11th), Catch Rate 66%, DPI 1/8

Malcom Mitchell – DYAR 131 (39th), DVOA 19.5% (7th), Catch Rate 67%, DPI 2/78

Danny Amendola – DYAR 84 (57th), DVOA 26.8% (NA), Catch Rate 79%, DPI 0/0

 

Martellus Bennett – DYAR 200 (3rd), 34.6% (3rd), Catch Rate 75%, DPI 2/7

 

James White – DYAR 161 (3rd), 19.8% (10th), Catch Rate 70%

Dion Lewis – DYAR -25 (49th), -31.1% (NA), Catch Rate 71%

 

Atlanta Vs #1 WR – DVOA -4.0% (9th), PA/G 8.4, YPG 61.3 (League Avg 8.4 & 69.8)

Atlanta Vs #2 WR – DVOA 6.6% (8th), PA/G 7.6, YPG 58.8 (League Avg 6.4 & 49.4)

Atlanta Vs Other WR – DVOA 5.4% (19th), PA/G 7.2, YPG 55.1 (League Avg 6.8 & 50.6)

Atlanta Vs TE – DVOA 3.1% (14th), PA/G 8.9, YPG 61.4 (League Avg 7.4 & 54.3)

Atlanta VS RB – DVOA 16.7% (26th), PA/G 9.1, YPG 53.5 (League Avg 6.7 & 40.2)

 

Atlanta vs Left – DVOA -8.6% (25th) (Avg -1.3%)

Atlanta vs Middle – DVOA 12.0% (14th) (Avg 12.8%)

Atlanta vs Right – DVOA -6.5% (18th) (Avg -6.8%)

Deep – DVOA 15.2% (12th); Left 19.5%, Mid 69.8%, Right -11.3% (Avg, 13.0%, 48.3%, 15.1%)

Short – DVOA 0.3% (26th); Left 5.5%, Mid 3.8%, Right -5.5% (Avg, -5.1%, 5.7%, -11.9%)

 

Atlanta Adjusted Sack Rate – 5.4% (24th), Sacks 34

Patriots Opponents Adjusted Sack Rate – 4.7% (6th), Sacks Allowed 24

Drive Stats-

Atlanta Yards Allowed Per Drive – 34.51 (26th)

New England Yards Per Drive – 35.48 (7th)

 

Atlanta Points Allowed Per Drive – 2.29 (27th)

New England Points Per Drive – 2.53 (5th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Drive Success Rate – .741 (28th)

New England Drive Success Rate – .742 (5th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Turnovers Per Drive – .117 (18th)

New England Turnovers Per Drive – .046 (1st)

 

Atlanta Opponents Interceptions Per Drive – .070 (19th)

New England Interceptions Per Drive – 0.012 (1st)

 

Atlanta Opponents Fumbles Per Drive – .047 (14th)

New England Fumbles Per Drive – .035 (8th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Avg LOS – 26.08 (3rd)

New England Avg LOS – 30.66 (2nd)

 

Atlanta Opponents Plays Per Drive – 6.29 (29th)

New England Plays Per Drive – 6.23 (7th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Punts Per Drive – .386 (25th)

New England Punts Per Drive – .416 (18th)

 

Atlanta Opponents 3 & Outs Per Drive – .205 (21st)

New England 3 & Outs Per Drive – .238 (27th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Pts/Red Zone – 5.69 (31st)

New England Pts/Red Zone – 5.23 (7th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Avg Score Differential – -8.23 (2nd)

New England Avg Score Differential – 7.41 (1st)
Special Teams

Atlanta – 2.4% (8th)

New England – 2.7% (7th)

 

Atlanta Kickoff – -3.0

New England Kick Return – -2.8

 

Atlanta Kick Return – -1.5

New England Kickoff – 11.8

 

Atlanta Avg LOS after Kickoff – 25.6 (8th)

New England Opponent Avg LOS after Kickoff – 23.46 (3rd)

 

Atlanta Opponent Avg LOS after Kickoff – 24.49 (11th)

New England Avg LOS after Kickoff – 27.10 (1st)

 

Atlanta Punt – 2.2

New England Punt Return – -7.7

 

Atlanta Punt Return – 3.5

New England Punt – 12.2

 

Atlanta Field Goal/XP – 10.9

New England Field Goal/XP – 0.1

 

Atlanta Hidden ST Yards – -4.3 (23rd)

New England Hidden St Yards – 11.2 (4th)

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No Shine Off Chase Elliott’s Rookie Season

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Chase Elliott leads the field past us at Talladega

Chase Elliott isn’t going to win the championship this year, and that’s a bummer. But the mere fact that there’s such a level of disappointment over having to accept that speaks to the massive increase in expectations.

That veteran championship contenders, Denny Hamlin in particular, made it a point not to aide the 20 year old rookie at Talladega because they legitimately worried about him winning the whole thing if he advanced speaks to the expectations even his competition has for him.
Chase Elliott didn’t fail to win the title this year because he’s not good enough, or because he’s in over his head, or because he’s still a couple of years away from being a contender. No, Chase Elliott isn’t continuing his championship fight simply due to rotten racing luck.

In reality, the same can be said of Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski as well. The second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup was not kind to three of arguably the top five contenders for the championship. Outside of Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick, the trio of Elliott, Truex and Keselowski were the class of the field over the duration of the chase as it pertained to raw speed. An argument could be made that in terms of speed and running up front consistently nobody was better than Chase Elliott through the first six races of the chase.

But running up front alone isn’t enough. Victimized at Charlotte by Martin Truex causing a massive crash on a day Elliott had established himself as one of the two fastest cars to derail his quest for a championship, his hopes went on life support when at Kansas a week later rotten racing luck bit after Elliott had established himself again as arguably the best car there.

Yet, in a do or die must win situation there he was at Talladega, up front and establishing himself yet again as one of the two best cars there. He went toe to toe with Keselowski, passing the dominate Ford on multiple occasions and proving to be his biggest threat.


But the racing gods decided it wasn’t to be for either contender. Keselowski detonated an engine and Elliott lost track position that without the required help needed at Talladega he just couldn’t get back.

But no one can say it was for a lack of trying. The rookie tried everything he could, making moves that left me closing my eyes from my spot in the grandstands from worry it was going to turn ugly. But there he was fighting every step of the way, and going down swinging.

Another testament to the respect he’s earned in the garage was the commitment shown to him by six time champion and teammate Jimmie Johnson. Already locked into the next round, Johnson pledged to commit to doing everything he could to help Elliott advance.

And boy did he ever. There were times you could almost see Johnson say, “I can’t believe we’re doing this here, but OK, I’m coming”, as he followed Elliott everywhere he could. Teammates or not, that’s a level of commitment reserved for people who your utmost respect. And for a 20 year old rookie to have such respect from one of the greatest drivers of all-time says something.

While the championship is off the table, plenty remains to be accomplished in 2016 over the final four races.

For starters, there’s the matter of getting that first win that they’ve been banging on the door of like a police officer.  There isn’t a person in the garage area that would be surprised if Elliott won not just one, but even perhaps two, of the final four races. Beyond that, they can still finish in the top ten in points.

The simple fact of the matter is that if Elliott’s future were any brighter we’d be advised to not stare directly into it.

When the 2017 season starts back up next February Elliott will be on the list of pre-season favorites to win the championship at the highest level of his sport. Not many 21 year olds (he’ll turn 21 at the end of November) can say that’s ever happened to them, in any sport.

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College Football Rankings 10-13

It’s an insanely inaccurate science, no question, and no logic pattern can be applied in every situation, so the rankings are unto themselves full of double standards and hypocrisy and thus vulnerable to never ending shredding from anyone who sees them. I’m forgiving of singular bad games, and I weigh what’s happened most recently more heavily, because I’m trying to determine who the best teams right now are. It’s for nothing but banter and fun, and because I’ve been doing it since I was 8 years old.

I’ve also decided doing them, this early in the season, every two weeks is better, to prevent knee jerk reactions. So, here are my complete rankings as of October 13.

*The App State vs UL Lafayette game is not taken into consideration*

1 Alabama 6-0
2 Ohio State 5-0
3 Michigan 6-0
4 Clemson 6-0
5 Washington 6-0
6 Louisville 4-1
7 Wisconsin 4-1
8 Texas A&M 6-0
9 Tennessee 5-1
10 Florida St 4-2
11 Miami 4-1
12 Ole Miss 3-2
13 Auburn 4-2
14 Nebraska 5-0
15 Houston 5-1
16 Baylor 5-0
17 Arkansas 4-2
18 LSU 3-2
19 Oklahoma 3-2
20 Virginia Tech 4-1
21 Florida 4-1
22 Troy 4-1
23 Western Michigan 6-0
24 West Virginia 4-0
25 Boise St 5-0
26 Utah 5-1
27 South Florida 5-1
28 Georgia 4-2
29 Memphis 4-1
30 USC 3-3
31 TCU 4-2
32 North Carolina 4-2
33 Navy 4-1
34 Toledo 4-1
35 Pitt 4-2
36 Penn State 4-2
37 Arizona St 5-1
38 NC St 4-1
39 BYU 3-3
40 Wake Forest 5-1
41 Colorado 4-2
42 Kansas State 3-2
43 Appalachian St 3-2
44 Washington St 3-2
45 Central Michigan 4-2
46 Indiana 3-2
47 Oklahoma St 4-2
48 Texas Tech 3-2
49 Tulsa 4-1
50 Stanford 3-2
51 UCLA 3-3
52 San Diego St 4-1
53 Cal 3-3
54 Iowa 4-2
55 Air Force 4-1
56 Louisiana Tech 3-3
57 Maryland 4-1
58 Minnesota 3-2
59 Northwestern 2-3
60 Duke 3-3
61 Texas 2-3
62 Michigan St 2-3
63 Georgia Tech 3-3
64 Middle Tennessee St 4-1
65 Oregon 2-4
66 Missouri 2-3
67 Arizona 2-4
68 Notre Dame 2-4
69 Southern Miss 4-2
70 Georgia Southern 3-2
71 Oregon St 2-3
72 Wyoming 4-2
73 UConn 3-3
74 South Carolina 2-4
75 UCF 3-2
76 South Alabama 3-2
77 Mississippi St 2-3
78 Kentucky 3-3
79 Akron 4-2
80 Army 3-2
81 Temple 3-3
82 Virginia 2-3
83 Vanderbilt 2-4
84 Cincinnati 3-3
85 Ohio 4-2
86 Colorado St 3-3
87 Western Kentucky 3-3
88 Iowa St 1-5
89 Purdue 3-2
90 Syracuse 2-4
91 Eastern Michigan 4-2
92 Old Dominion 4-2
93 East Carolina 2-4
94 Hawaii 3-3
95 Ball State 3-3
96 UTSA 2-3
97 Utah St 2-4
98 Tulane 3-2
99 Boston College 3-3
100 Nevada 3-3
101 Arkansas St 1-4
102 Illinois 1-4
103 Idaho 3-3
104 SMU 2-4
105 UL Lafayette 2-3
106 Northern Illinois 1-5
107 UNLV 2-4
108 Georgia St 1-4
109 UL Monroe 1-4
110 North Texas 3-3
111 Kent State 2-4
112 New Mexico St 2-3
113 New Mexico 2-3
114 Texas St 2-3
115 Kansas 1-4
116 Fresno St 1-5
117 Rutgers 2-4
118 Marshall 1-4
119 Bowling Green 1-5
120 UMass 1-5
121 Miami Ohio 0-6
122 Charlotte 2-4
123 FIU 2-4
124 Buffalo 1-4
125 UTEP 1-5
126 Florida Atlantic 1-5
127 San Jose St 1-5
128 Rice 0-5

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College Football Rankings 1-128 (9/26)

1 Alabama 4-0
2 Ohio State 3-0
3 Michigan 4-0
4 Clemson 4-0
5 Louisville 4-0
6 Stanford 3-0
7 Texas A&M 4-0
8 Houston 4-0
9 Florida St 3-1
10 Ole Miss 2-2
11 Wisconsin 4-0
12 Oklahoma 1-2
13 Washington 4-0
14 Arkansas 3-1
15 TCU 3-1
16 Baylor 4-0
17 Tennessee 4-0
18 Miami 3-0
19 Nebraska 4-0
20 UCLA 2-2
21 Troy 3-1
22 Auburn 2-2
23 LSU 2-2
24 West Virginia 3-0
25 Florida 3-1
26 Utah 4-0
27 Virginia Tech 3-1
28 Western Michigan 4-0
29 Michigan St 2-1
30 Georgia 3-1
31 Toledo 3-0
32 Arizona St 4-0
33 North Carolina 3-1
34 San Diego St 3-0
35 Cincinnati 3-1
36 Southern Miss 3-1
37 BYU 1-3
38 South Florida 3-1
39 USC 1-3
40 Kansas State 2-1
41 Colorado 3-1
42 Cal 2-2
43 Texas 2-1
44 Boise St 3-0
45 Oregon 2-2
46 Memphis 3-0
47 Iowa 3-1
48 Oklahoma St 2-2
49 Appalachian St 2-2
50 Pitt 2-2
51 Arizona 2-2
52 Texas Tech 2-1
53 Georgia Southern 3-1
54 Wake Forest 4-0
55 Penn State 2-2
56 Missouri 2-2
57 Minnesota 3-0
58 Navy 3-0
59 Georgia Tech 3-1
60 Washington St 1-2
61 Central Michigan 3-1
62 Indiana 2-1
63 Syracuse 2-2
64 Mississippi St 2-2
65 Kentucky 2-2
66 Oregon St 1-2
67 Tulsa 3-1
68 South Carolina 2-2
69 East Carolina 2-2
70 NC St 2-1
71 UConn 2-2
72 Vanderbilt 2-2
73 Akron 2-2
74 Western Kentucky 2-2
75 Maryland 3-0
76 Purdue 2-1
77 Northwestern 1-3
78 UCF 2-2
79 Duke 2-2
80 Notre Dame 1-3
81 Ball State 3-1
82 Army 3-1
83 Virginia 1-3
84 Air Force 3-0
85 Boston College 2-2
86 Middle Tennessee St 3-1
87 Marshall 1-2
88 Nevada 2-2
89 Louisiana Tech 1-3
90 Temple 2-2
91 Colorado St 2-2
92 Miami Ohio 0-4
93 Utah St 2-2
94 Tulane 2-2
95 UL Lafayette 2-2
96 South Alabama 2-2
97 Illinois 1-2
98 SMU 2-2
99 Fresno St 1-3
100 UTSA 1-3
101 Old Dominion 2-2
102 Florida Atlantic 1-3
103 Texas St 1-2
104 Ohio 2-2
105 Eastern Michigan 3-1
106 Arkansas St 0-4
107 Georgia St 0-3
108 Rutgers 2-2
109 UMass 1-3
110 Wyoming 2-2
111 Buffalo 1-2
112 Northern Illinois 0-4
113 UTEP 1-3
114 UL Monroe 1-2
115 Hawaii 1-3
116 New Mexico St 1-3
117 Iowa St 1-3
118 Idaho 2-2
119 New Mexico 1-2
120 North Texas 2-2
121 UNLV 1-3
122 Kansas 1-2
123 Bowling Green 1-3
124 Kent State 1-3
125 Rice 0-4
126 San Jose St 1-3
127 Charlotte 1-3
128 FIU 0-4

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Suicide, the Elephant in the Room

Seeing as it’s National Suicide Prevention week, and it’s still something that doesn’t garner enough conversation, I’d be remiss not point out a few things I’ve come to understand when it comes to suicide, and the contemplation of it, as well as dealing with those in such a situation. Now, if you’ve ever read anything I write, you know I can get a bit long winded, so, you’ve been warned.
1) Don’t be the, “they’re only doing it for attention” person. A) Taking that route might result in the biggest regret you ever have in life. And B) Because OF COURSE THEY’RE DOING IT FOR ATTENTION. They know something isn’t right, they’re absolutely crying out for attention because they know they need help, somewhere, with something, and they don’t know how to do it themselves. Don’t be that callous asshole who just says they’re only looking for attention and turns the other way.
2) When someone is contemplating suicide, or makes mention of possibly considering it, or no longer sees it as the worst option, do NOT go about telling them how selfish they are for that, and how big of a jerk they are, or what a coward they are for feeling that way. That will only reinforce the feelings they already have. Do you think they WANT to feel the way they do? Do you REALLY think it’s something they choose to feel? So don’t go prove them right about themselves by saying things like that. Focus on positive reinforcement, don’t hammer home the negatives.
3) Just remember, in just about every case of suicidal thoughts and attempts, the thought process includes honestly believing those they care about will be better off. In the mind of the person contemplating suicide, they’re doing something selfless. Is that fucked up? Of course it is. But hey, that’s what being depressed is, it’s being fucked up. And that kind of fuckedupdedness needs attention and needs help. So if you unfortunately are a survivor of someone who did commit suicide, know that when they did what they did, they were doing what they felt, in that moment, was the best thing they could do for those they loved and cared about. Thinking of them as selfish is wrong. Is it a selfish act? In black and white terms, yes, sure it is. But this isn’t a black and white issue. What a healthy mind sees as normal, or sees as selfish, or sees as any number of things, differs greatly from what the mind of someone suffering from depression sees. Be cognizant of that. The way someone suffering from depression rationalizes something versus the way someone who doesn’t is night and day.
4) Not everyone is going to say something when they feel these feelings and venture into the darkest of dark places. Some people will keep it to themselves and then all of a sudden out of nowhere they take their life. Except, it’s not out of nowhere. The signs are there. Pay attention to those you care about. When you notice significant changes in behavior, a propensity to listen to and watch sad things ALL the time, a cutting out of things they used to do for enjoyment, appetite changes, solidarity, etc…. don’t hesitate to speak up. Just talk to them. Engage them. But do so positively. Don’t tell them they’re being a debbie downer, or a loner, or simply that they need to stop drinking so much. This will only serve as that negative reinforcement. But be mindful of those you love and care about. Pay attention to the subtle things, because sometimes they’re really not so subtle.
5) This one I can’t stress enough. NEVER tell someone who is depressed to simply “get over it”. For someone who struggles with depression, yes, something as trivial to you as losing a book they had since they were a child, or even a sporting event, can trigger a trip down a dark place. There’s a difference in legit depression and being disappointed over something, but for those who are susceptible to depression, it doesn’t take much. And it also makes it easy to magnify the most trivial of things. If it happens to be something “bigger”, like losing a pet, the end of a relationship, losing a job, going to jail, etc…. “Just get over it”, or simply, “It will get better” isn’t going to work. Telling someone struggling with depression that only causes them to (again, their way of rationalizing things is different than someone not struggling with depression) fall further into their oblivion as they wonder and get angry over the fact that they can’t have that outlook. They would love to feel that confidence. But they don’t. And it creates an even more desolate and dire outlook.
Depression isn’t something you “get over”. It’s not something you ever have complete control of, even when you seemingly have control of it. It’s always there, lurking, waiting, and ready to pounce. It’s something you must always be mindful of, and always be wary of things that might trigger trips to dark places.
Michelob used to run an ad campaign that had the slogan, “Some days are better than others”. This couldn’t be more true for anyone struggling with depression, even those who have a very good handle on it. Some days just suck, and you don’t know why, you don’t have any explanation for it, but they just do. If you know someone who fights depression, understand this about them. Don’t give them shit for being in a “mood” that day.
Some days the sun is bright and the world is a wonderful place. Others, it takes everything inside that outwardly smiling and bubbling person to keep themselves from just hitting the eject button. And there may not have been anything in particular that even caused it, no specific event or trigger. It’s just another day in the life of fighting something that you never completely defeat.
Suicide is still a giant elephant in the room. It’s an uncomfortable topic for many. And I’m willing to bet part of why it’s so uncomfortable is because discussing it forces to people to look at themselves, and that can be scary.
Those who have survived suicide attempts, or those who fight depression on a daily basis can help shed light to prevent others from making the mistakes that they made. But they need to feel as though it’s something they can openly talk about without judgement from others, without being looked down upon, or treated as though they’re beneath others and some kind of weird emo freak.
For years I created a wonderfully entertaining story as to how I got my scars and why I have no stomach or esophagus. And then as I got to know you, and trust you, I would tell the truth.
Not anymore. You ask, I tell. Or, like in the case of a first date, I tell you I will tell you later. But I don’t fabricate an explanation anymore. I don’t take shame in it. I’ve learned so much from it, and know of multiple times my experience has both helped someone contemplating it, and also been of great comfort to those who have lost someone to suicide. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a battle I fight every day. But I don’t need to pretend I got drunk at a pool party and chugged the wrong bottle in the pool shed. I’m also fortunate that I surround myself with good people who surround themselves with good people, so there’s less fear of judgement and scorn.
There are many conversations we need to keep going in society, but this is one extremely important to me, because it’s an issue that in some way impacts so many more people than we as a society are willing to acknowledge.

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Filed under Personal, Society Issues