Monday, January 05, 2009

Doing Mitzvahs in Church!

St. James Church in Danielson, CT

Lots of people mis-translate the Hebrew/Yiddish word "Mitzvah" in English as "a good deed." Actually, the literal translation is "commandment," but since we're all commanded to do good deeds as much as possible, the two words have become a bit synomous. And that's a good thing.

I bring this up because it appears a couple of good deeds, that may not have seemed like good deeds, but more like welcome obligations, seem to have brought incoming freshman Sean Brackett to Columbia for next season.

According to Ron Coderre's piece this weekend in the Norwich Bulletin, Head Coach Norries Wilson first learned about Brackett from a local pastor just after Wilson spoke at the funeral of local athlete Phil Larrow... who was Wilson's wife Brenda's uncle.

Speaking at your wife's uncle's funeral is a real mitzvah, and so is pointing out a good athlete and student to someone who might be able to help him get into a good school. As the Talmud says: "One Mitzvah leads to another Mitzvah,"... even in Church, (or should I say "especially in a Church?").

Slingin' Sammy Baugh was Sid Luckman's greatest rival

Luckman's Memory Evoked

With the recent death of NFL great Sammy Baugh, there's a lot being written about Baugh's long-running rivalry with Sid Luckman. One of the more extensive pieces I've seen lately is this one by Gordon White, a former New York Times sports reporter who is now living in North Carolina.

The article doesn't say this exactly, but it's a good argument that modern football really was born at Columbia. Luckman was using the T formation successfully at Columbia and that's why George Halas grabbed him. When the Bears used Luckman in the T formation for the first time in the NFL Championship, Chicago ended up beating Baugh's Redskins 73-0.

For all the talk about Yale's Walter Camp and his invention of modern football rules, there should be more discussion of Lou Little and Sid Luckman and the gift they gave pro football... which is the nation's #1 sport by far much because of its varied T formation offense.


At Tue Jan 06, 02:53:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I read with great interest your worry that the new Tom Cruise movie "Valkyrie" would paint too sympathetic a picture of the Nazi senior staffers who tried to kill Hitler in the waning days of the war. I have not seen the film but I wonder if you have and, if so, whether you believe that your original concern was justified.

At Tue Jan 06, 03:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that is related to Columbia Lions football how?

At Tue Jan 06, 03:27:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I did see it and I have two things to say:

1) The portrayal of the "anti-Hitler" officers was too friendly, with some lines about how the Germans need to "empty the concentration camps" that I found to be a little sugar-coating Hollywood magic. HOWEVER, it could have been a lot worse and my fears were not fully realized.

2) Tom Cruise is so laughably bad in the movie that it won't matter. It will be a flop here in the States and it may only make money in Europe, where the population is hopeless anyway.

At Tue Jan 06, 06:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two of the best football and baseball players of all time--Sid Luckman and Lou Gehrig--both attended the same school, Columbia University. Simple statement, extraordinary fact.

At Tue Jan 06, 08:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake...any opinion on why Yale is having such a hard time filling their HC job? 4 candidates that i know of have turned it down. I would think that would be a fairly attractive opening in this market? Can't be good for their recruiting. I am hearing that a Jags ass't coach is now the frontrunner which seems an odd choice with no Ivy and little collegiate experience? curious to hear your thoughts and/or others?

At Tue Jan 06, 09:25:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,

Enjoy your blog immensely. Thought you would be interested in the announcement of the new Yale football coach as the first African-American coach in the Ivy League.... Apparently the writer wasn't aware of our Norries Wilson.

At Tue Jan 06, 06:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Article says, " the Ivy League school" (not "an" Ivy League school).

At Tue Jan 06, 10:43:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

I didn't think "Valkyrie" was near as bad as I'd anticipated, Jake. But I did note that the movie pointedly removed ALL mention of the somewhat hare-brained plans the July 20 plotters had in mind for Germay. Including, most notably, an alliance between the Allies and Germany to fight the "real enemy," the Soviet Union.

There was also no reference to the somewhat dreamy Christian socialism of several of the plotters, which hearkened back to their romanticized view of the Middle Ages (which was in fact common throughout Nazi Germany).

At Tue Jan 06, 10:47:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


Those are good points. But I stand by my statement that the movie is really hard to watch when Cruise is on the screen.


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