Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NFL: No Snow Angels Allowed

After a tough touchdown reception in Sunday's blizzard conditions in Foxboro, New England Patriots Pro-Bowl receiver Wes Welker did what anyone playing football in a snowstorm would do: he made a snow angel. 70,000 approving fans in the stands threw thousands of snowballs in a show of support.

The NFL officials at Sunday's game, however, didn't approve. They awarded the year's first snow angel penalty: 15 yards for "Demonstration." Officially, a player isn't allowed to drop to the ground in celebration as the the league deems the action excessive (unless it is to pray). Kids at home, remember: no snow angels allowed if you score a TD in a snowstorm. Forget the joy, forget the fun... and while you're at it, better cancel the snowmen and the hot cocoa too.

Sunday's snow angel wasn't the first made by a New England Patriot. Long snapper Lonnie Paxton made a snow angel in 2001 after a tight playoff victory against Oakland on the way to New England's first Super Bowl victory. Unlike Sunday's officials, Paxton approved of Welker's winter spirit. "He doesn't fill up quite as much space as I did," Paxton said of the 5-foot-8-inch Welker. "He's a little snow angel."

Bah humbug, NFL. And Happy Holidays Wes Welker!

To see a replay of Welker's TD (and ensuing celebration), click here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays

I will spend this holiday season surrounded by the two friends pictured above -- and various other friends and family. Here's hoping everyone has a great holiday and that you all spend it with family or friends.

I say that because I did spend about 8 or 9 Christmases far away from my family -- either in Utah, Arizona, Germany, England or some other far-off place. I was always a little bummed out not to be with my family -- especially when my family has such a tradition of getting together at the holidays. But my holidays were always memorable no matter where I was or who I was with. In fact, some of the holidays spent with new friends or strangers were special in their own ways -- because of the way holiday "orphans" found each other -- or the way people I didn't know as well were so quick to include me in their special traditions.

I always remember the New Year's Eve between 1996 and 1997. My hockey friends in Garmisch -- Tino, Eva, Giacco -- and I went to Raimond Winter's parents' place. We spent the evening listening to Raimond's father telling WWII stories and telling us about how it was in the old days. Then we went out to Raimond's farmhouse where he fired off his own fireworks display at midnight -- one of hundreds of Garmischers shooting off pyrotechnics. It was a night to remember.

I think of it now, because this fall, Ali and I -- 12 years later -- revisited Garmisch. Despite having fallen out of touch, I located all four of them (and a couple of other hockey friends). We played hockey, drank beers, went hiking, and re-established a forever friendship.

Happy holidays and may you spend time together with your families and friends new and old.