Documentary review: Kelce

New Heights

After I had read that Philadelphia Eagles and NFL All-Pro center Jason Kelce was contemplating retiring from (American) football after the 2023-2024 season, I watched the Amazon film Kelce. It has become the most-watched documentary on Prime Video.

“Jason Kelce started documenting what he thought was his final year in the NFL “(2022-2023). “Instead, the film intimately captures the most epic year in Jason and Travis’s life.”

The viewer gets a detailed view of Jason’s life. His wife, Kylie, tells about their online meeting and strange first date.

During the offseason, Jason notes how beat up his body was. When he was a young man, his body bounced back quickly. Still, as an old man of 35 or so, with numerous broken and bruised body parts, he wonders whether he can recover well enough to play the game at an elite level.

And he is being paid a lot of money, an estimated $14 million in his 12th season, more than any offensive lineman in the NFL. Jason and Kylie have two young daughters, and he wants to be physically able to play with them. Then Kylie discovers she’s pregnant with their third child, due about two weeks after the Super Bowl.

What will Jason do if he retires? Real estate, farming? He asks some retired Eagles brethren, some of whom thrived while others struggled to find something nearly as rewarding.

Then, the brothers were offered the opportunity to “host the popular New Heights podcast with high-profile sponsors.” Jason has also appeared in various commercials.


Travis said something his older brother thought was BS, that once you win the Super Bowl and then lose the big game, your desire to win it again becomes even greater. Jason and the Eagles won the February 2018 matchup with the New England Patriots, 41-33. Travis and his Kansas City Chiefs beat the 49ers 31-20 in February 2020 but, a year later, fell to the Tampa Bay Bucs 31-9.

The Eagles and the Chiefs met at the Super Bowl in February 2023. This matchup, brother versus brother, made their mom, Donna, an instant celebrity. The movie was more interesting than I expected, given that the outcome of that last game was well-known.

Rooting interests (NFL edition)

A Bills-Lions Super Bowl would be cool

Part of my enjoyment of watching the National Football League this season was developing rooting interests. Some are long-standing, such as the New York Giants (6-11 this season) I followed as a kid. Likewise, the teams I rooted against.

When the New England Patriots and Tom Brady were winning several Super Bowls, I actively rooted against them. But now that Brady is gone, and the Pats are… not good (4-13), it’s difficult even to care, though I was glad the New York Jets (7-10) beat them on January 7.   

Here is my list of rooting interests for teams in the playoffs.

I’m an upstate kid

Buffalo Bills (11-6, 1st in the AFC East) is the only team in the NFL to play its home games in New York State. They got to four Super Bowls in the 1990s and lost them all.  The team was 6-6 five weeks ago.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7, 3rd in the AFC North) had an up-and-down season. Still, their head coach, Mike Tomlin, has never had a losing season. I’ve been a fan since the 1970s when they had defensive stars as Mean Joe GREENe and L.C. GREENwood. So, who are the Steelers playing this weekend?  Sunday, January 14, 2024, 1 p.m. Steelers at Bills (CBS)

Detroit Lions (12-5, 1st in the NFC North) haven’t won their division in three decades. They used to play on Thanksgiving Day and, if I recall correctly, lost often.

Cleveland Browns (11-6, 2nd in the AFC North) is not exactly the team of Jim Brown and Otto Graham as that team moved and became the Baltimore Ravens. (It’s complicated.) They were reestablished in 1999.” From 2003 to 2019, the Browns had a 17-season playoff drought.”

Green Bay Packers (9-8, 2nd in the NFC North) has an exciting and very young team, with many starters in their first or second year. And it’s GREEN Bay.

I rooted for the San Francisco 49ers (12-5, 1st in the NFC West, first-round bye) in the 1980s in the Joe Montana and Steve Young era, and I still have a fondness.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-6, 2nd in NFC East) collapsed in the latter part of the season. 

My favorite team from Texas

Houston Texans (10-7, 1st in AFC South) won their division last weekend and have a great rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud, with a compelling storyline. The Texans are a 2002 expansion team after the Oilers moved to Nashville in 1997 and became the Tennessee Titans. Saturday, January 13, 2024, 4:30 p.m. Browns at Texans (NBC, Peacock)

Miami Dolphins (11-6, 2nd in the AFC East)

Los Angeles Rams (10-7, 2nd in  the NFC West) Sunday, January 14, 2024, 8:15 p.m. Rams at Lions (NBC, Peacock)

Baltimore Ravens (13-4, 1st in the AFC, first-round bye) is likely the best team in the NFL after they beat the 49ers and Dolphins back-to-back.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-6, 1st in the AFC West), Super Bowl defending champions, were often underwhelming on the field. But they are overexposed in Allstate commercials and that other thing. Saturday, January 13, 2024, 8:15 p.m. Dolphins at Chiefs (only on Peacock -meh)

Tampa Bay Buccanneers (9-8, 1st in the NFC South), winner of the weakest division Monday, January 15, 2024, 8:15 p.m. Eagles at Buccaneers (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2)

I’ve disliked the Dallas Cowboys (12-5, 1st in the NFC East) for decades. “America’s Team,” indeed. Sunday, January 14, 2024, 4:30 p.m. Packers at Cowboys (Fox)

Comic books, football players, ICE intertwined?

“We found one bloated, cruel, and useless agency that is begging to be abolished.”

My old friend Catbird asked:

Hi Roger—

When I heard rump’s “maybe they shouldn’t be in this country” comment about football players staying in locker rooms the other day, I wondered if they’d “pass” the Comic Book Code of America. I remember you explaining this to me decades ago. I suppose it depends on whether anybody acts on it.

What do you think?

Might it be worth a blog item?

I hope all is well with you and your “bearers of two X chromosomes.”

It had not occurred to me, but I suppose both the Comic Code Authority (1954-2011) and the NFL owners’ new policy requiring on-field player and personnel to stand for the national anthem were both self-regulating actions designed to make the federal government leave them alone.

In the case of comic books, the industry was worrying, rightly, that the government might want to regulate it, to “protect the children.”It agreed submit the comics to a board for a stamp of approval. No excessive violence, no drug use shown, et al.

The owners of the NFL just wanted the bad press to go away – n.b., didn’t happen. They are worried about the bottom line, with ratings down substantially, although that may not be just a function of the anthem imbroglio.

There’s a more significant question you ask here: when DO we say in America, “My way or the highway?” Certainly, I’ve heard, “America, love it or leave it” a few times, usually when I was protesting some war, mostly Vietnam, but also Iraq. Yet, as I was wont to say, “I stay, and protest, BECAUSE I love America.”

When HAS the United States actually thrown people out of the country? In the past, not very often, in the vast scheme. It wasn’t until 2002 when the United States actually had an agency whose primary function appears to do just that.

As Full Frontal with Samantha Bee put it on May 23: “For Republicans looking to cut government fat, we found one bloated, cruel, and useless agency that is begging to be abolished. And no, ‘President’ is not considered an agency.”

It is, of course, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. I appreciate it when the ICE agents remove some MS-13 gang member. But, much more often, they are seen as a source of terror in the immigrant community, even for those who are here legally.

As someone approaching Social Security, I find this problematic, not just from a moral and ethical position, but from an economic one. Driving out productive young people from the country is a recipe for federal fiscal disaster.

So, there’s a lot of bluster about people needing to leave the country. But it won’t be football players going. Unless they were born elsewhere.

Economic Census, Women’s March, football

Some think NFL ratings are down because of players taking of a knee during the national anthem.

A few items that might not generate a whole post:

I went to New York City on January 16 to visit our center at Pace University. The librarians are divvying up the state to find out how we can serve them better. After that, the center director, Andrew. and I met with some folks from the Census Bureau, led by Andy.

Andy and his colleagues were touting the 2017 Economic Census, which will take place electronically in May 2018. This allows them to generate data that help businesses to make decisions on location, demographic trends and the like.

I was REALLY happy I didn’t go down the following day, because it snowed, not just in Albany, but in NYC. Snow in NYC makes travel dreadful.
A bunch of folks met at my church to walk down to the Women’s March in Albany on January 20. Some guy commenting on my Times Union blog said there wouldn’t be 10 people at the event. I replied that there would be more than that going just from my church, and that was true.

I’m lousy at crowd size guesstimation, but I heard everything from three to six thousand. In any case, there were so many there, good friends of mine who were present I simply did not see. But there they were all over Facebook.

I did not know that nearly 60 protesters from the J20 anti-Trump march in DC last year are still subject to prosecution, though 129 indictments were dropped.
I tend to watch football only in the last couple weeks of the season and into the playoffs. The first weekend I saw one game, and watched summaries of the three others online. The next weekend, I saw parts of games. But I recorded the last two games and watched them later. The trick, of course, is NOT to watch live TV, check email or social media. Ignorance in this process IS bliss.

There’s been reports that NFL viewing is down. Some think it’s because of players taking of a knee during the national anthem. Others believe it’s that, with the increased reporting of brain damage from CTE, people are less likely to watch it.

I think it is that the official reviews of every touchdown, almost every play in the last two minutes of each half, plus the coaches’ challenges take FOREVER. Still another reason for watching on tape delay. well, not TAPE…

Go, Philadelphia Eagles!

Herb Jeffries, and other topics

Do I say to him what he ought to do in order to try to save the relationship?


The always curious Sharp Little Pencil wants to know:

Why do you think no one has made a movie about Herb Jeffries yet… and if they did, whom would you cast?

To the former, because I think most people don’t know Hollywood’s first singing black cowboy.

Tell you what: you write the screenplay and I’ll send it off to Jada Pinkett Smith. Actually, if there WERE a screenplay, I’d probably send it to Nelson George – I backed one of his Kickstarter projects – and he could get it to Spike Lee, with whom he has collaborated.

Maybe it’s because I just saw my niece singing with him, but I was thinking El DeBarge, of that singing DeBarge family, or Prince. If you needed a younger actor, maybe Jussie Smollett from the show Empire, which I’ve never seen, or Drake.

Who is your favorite ex-president?

My first strong awareness of an ex-President was Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), who I was SHOCKED to discover that he was still alive by the time I first learned about The Great Depression. I must confess that I was entertained by Richard Nixon, who tried REALLY hard to be an Elder Statesmen of the Republican Party, writing books, and pontificating, hoping that we’d forget about that Watergate thing.

My second favorite ex-President has to be John Quincy Adams, who went back into the House of Representatives and argued the Amistad case before the Supreme Court.

But clearly, Jimmy Carter has set the standard for former Oval Office occupiers. If it was just for all the Habitat for Humanity houses he helped build, that would be impressive. But he has also worked vigorously on preventing and eradicating diseases in developing nations.

“A major accomplishment of The Carter Center has been the elimination of more than 99 percent of cases of Guinea worm disease, from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to 148 reported cases in 2013 to 23 in 2015.” He’s also been involved with peace negotiations and observing elections.

If you got a tattoo, what would it be?

It’d be The Duck. Or a G clef; G is for Green.

The illustrious Alan David Doane reflects:

I recently turned 50, so I’ve been thinking a lot about aging and time and so on lately.

If you could go back in time and talk to your 20 year old self, what three pieces of advice would you give him to try to improve the decades he has ahead?

This is a tricky question. By my 20th birthday, I was already married, and two years later, I was separated. So:

Do I say to him what he ought to do in order to try to save the relationship OR assume those facts to be immutable. and advise him how to survive it better?

If it were the former, I might insist that we not allow boarders, who I didn’t even know, to live in the apartment. I might have been more willing to go with her to the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August 1974, and if I didn’t, to be more direct in finding out what happened hat led to her fortnightly treks out of town the next six weeks, something I don’t know to this day.

If it were the latter, I would suggest seeking counseling earlier, drinking less in 1974-75, save more money, do more exercise… But you know, and I’ve said this before, probably recently, all of those good and bad decisions made me who I am today, for better or worse. I’m not sure he’d believe what I’d say anyway. It’s like at the end of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy realizes that she had to find out for herself.

The author Jaquandor from Byzantium Shores asks:

Has it become harder to maintain any interest you have in football, as the head-injury thing becomes more and more clear?

I saw the movie Concussion, about a doctor (Will Smith) dealing with this very subject, CTE, in the National Football League a few months ago; it’s a good, not great, film. In the film, another person not from the United States explains to the doctor the sheer beauty of the sport.

So, not yet. Well, maybe, in that The Daughter thinks watching football is stupid, and a lot of that comes from the head injury debate. The Wife has never particularly enjoyed the sport. So it’s taken a hit in viewing in my household to those rare times that I have the TV home alone on a Sunday afternoon.

VERY seldom do I watch TV much after 9 p.m., including football, because it’s bad for my sleep cycle.

I DO think the NFL, having played down the risk of head injuries using research that it falsely claimed was comprehensive, has put itself on the hot seat to actually develop a better helmet. From what little I know, the design they need is actually less hard and more resilient.

Now the league, in particular, could do more. The one game I watched at any length this past season was the New York Giants (my team in my childhood) against the Carolina Panthers (playing in the city my late parents moved to). The officials should have bounced Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for repeated helmet-smacking of cornerback Josh Norman, including a head-first attack.

Ah, but I see you have said farewell to football, and for all sorts of good and valid reasons.

What’s your favorite milkshake flavor?

Strawberry. My favorite yogurt is strawberry. My favorite ice cream is strawberry. My favorite sundae topping is strawberry. For a time, when we used to go to IHOP, I would order the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity strawberry topping on my pancakes, in part because I liked saying “Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity.” As though one wouldn’t.

There’s a local convenience store chain around these parts called Stewart’s and they make decent ice cream. But they’ve ceased selling strawberry by itself, only with vanilla, or with vanilla and chocolate. One CAN get a hand-packed strawberry pint, though.

What’s inside your perfect taco? (And is the shell hard or soft?)

It’s softshell – that’s easy. Guacamole, tomatoes, and lettuce. It has to have onions, and of course, cheese.

I don’t eat that much pork generally, so the taco is probably shredded pork, though chicken or beef are good too. But shredded. I’ve seen these things with solid meat, or fish, and they don’t say “taco” to me.

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