Why Does The National Football League Not Recognize All Its Champions?

As a life-long fan of the Cleveland Browns, I find it idiotic whenever I hear highly paid, intelligent football analysts or Cincinnati Bengals fans proclaim the Browns have never played in a Super Bowl.  Though this statement might technically be factual, it is a misnomer.  What fact need be understood is that the Super Bowl is just a name given to the National Football League’s championship game by former Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who came up with the idea after watching his child play with a super ball.

Although Mr. Hunt did not come up with his idea for naming the championship game until the 1969 classic game won by Broadway Joe Namath and his New York Jets over the highly favored Baltimore Colts, the name Super Bowl was retroactively given to the two previous AFL-NFL championship games won by the Green Bay Packers.  However, to hear today’s football experts tell it, any championship won prior to the 1967 game does not count because the game was not called the Super Bowl.  This is a great injustice to all the championship teams and their players prior to 1967.

The Cleveland Browns began playing professional football in 1946, playing four years in the All-American Football Conference.  During the four-year existence of this league, the Browns had a combined record of 52-4-3, wining the conference championship all four years.  In 1950, The Browns joined the NFL.  In its first year in the league, the Browns won the league championship.  In fact, during their first ten years in the NFL, the Browns played in seven NFL championship games, winning three times all the while dominating the league.  The Browns won their fourth and last National Football League championship during the 1964 season.

Yet, to hear all the so-called football experts and Cincinnati Bengals fans tell it, the Browns have never played in a Super Bowl.  Not only is this statement asinine and an insult to the Cleveland Browns organization and their long-suffering fans, who proudly proclaim themselves Brownies, but it totally neglects the long history of the National Football League and the teams who won the league championship prior to 1967.

Steven H. Spring

Judas Priest #33B, 47B, 22A, 61A & 55A

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Judas Priest, a heavy-metal band out of Birmingham, England was formed in 1969 and though still making music, their heyday was the late 1970s though the ’80s.  These photographs were shot at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio on May 4, 1981 during the band’s “World Wide Blitz Tour” in support of their 1981 album “Point Of Entry.”  The band at this time consisted of Rob Halford on lead vocals, K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton on guitar, Ian Hill on bass and Dave Holland on drums.

I must admit that it was around this time in my life that I stopped listening to not only a more heavy style of rock music but that of rock and roll in general.  Most every rock band or guitarist that has influenced me most throughout my life, and that I still listen to even today has always been more blues-rock, before I progressed even more heavily into the blues.

I have also yet to figure out what is causing the uploaded photographs to look slightly askew when viewing the finished posting.  This is not the case of the actual photograph scanned onto my computer (yes, I still proudly shoot film) nor when I first upload them to my WordPress.com blog page.  Again, I am sometimes embarrassed by the final product, as it appears that I care very little by their actual appearance.  As a neat freak and a perfectionist (both a blessing and a curse), this is far from the truth.

As always, looking at my photos on WordPress.com does not do justice to the 4×6 photographs I hold in my hand.  If I am fortunate enough to have you view my work, and you find the quality of my photographs lacking, please let me know via a viewer comment.

Steven H. Spring

Republicans, Conservatives & The Gun Control Debate

Republicans and conservatives, who are now so adamant in their view that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives every American the right to heavily arm themselves, once thought just the opposite.  On May 2, 1967, at the height of the civil rights struggle, a group of thirty armed Black Panthers took to the steps of the state capital in Sacramento, California to read their declaration of gun ownership rights and then entered into the capital building, which at that time was perfectly legal to do so.  Then California governor Ronald Reagan, the much revered patron saint of the current conservative movement announced later to the press that there was “…no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

While president, Mr. Reagan signed into law the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act.  Although granting gun owners numerous protections, the act also banned the ownership of any fully automatic rifle that was not already registered by the day the law was signed into effect.  Former President Reagan also wrote a 1991 op-ed article for the New York Times that was titled “Why I’m For The Brady Bill,” which when passed on November 30, 1993 required a five-day waiting period for the purchase of a handgun and also mandated the dealer to report the sale to the local police department which in turn was required to run a background check on the buyer.  Along with former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, Reagan wrote an op-ed letter to the Boston Globe regarding the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in which he declared “I am convinced that the limitations imposed in this bill are absolutely necessary.”  The Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994.  However, this ban was then allowed to expire ten years later during the George W. Bush presidency.

In a May 3, 1995 letter to the National Rifle Association, former president George H.W. Bush resigned his lifetime membership in the organization after NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre opined in a fund-raising letter that the Assault Weapons Ban “…gives jackbooted Government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property and even injure and kill us…”  Mr. Bush wrote, “I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as ‘jack-booted thugs.’ To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as ‘wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms’ wanting to ‘attack law abiding citizens’ is a vicious slander on good people.”

As the debate over adequate gun control heats up with ever more malicious slander against President Obama by both Republican members of Congress and conservative political commentators, is it just a matter of time before another Timothy McVeigh-type American terrorist attack occurs in this country by someone who believes all the rhetoric being espoused by these talking heads?  Talk of the president being only just a socialist has turned ever more vile with recent accusations that President Obama is both a tyrant and traitor who needs be impeached on the grounds that he wants to take everyone’s firearms fill our airwaves.

There has even been talk of revolution, of civil war, and citizens even boasting of their willingness to fire the first shot, all because this nation has as president a person tired of the carnage all too common in our streets because of the lack of proper gun regulation laws or enforcement of current laws.  Just today, three people were wounded at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas during a reported shootout between several people.  One ironic comment made by one twenty-four hour news network supposed expert was that thank goodness it was only friends firing away and not some random act of terror.  However, the gun control debate sunk to its all-time low when Rush Limbaugh, arguably the Republican Party’s highest profile talking head, mocked the surviving children of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre during one of his radio/television shows this past week.

As an American, I find this shocking diatribe being alleged against the president of the United States appalling and very dangerous.  With radio and television constantly being filled with such hatred indignation, all it takes is just one person with thoughts similar to that of Timothy McVeigh to bring about another Oklahoma City tragedy.  There is already a growing number of Americans who passionately believe our government is out of control, are preparing for Armageddon and are actually on the lookout for the infamous black helicopters to swoop down upon them at any time to take from them all their firearms.  Can another Oklahoma City bombing happen again?  Judging by the rhetoric being advocated now days by influential commentators and politicians, it might just be only a matter of time.

Steven H. Spring

“NRA: Practice Range” Video Game Kills People

In what seems like a complete absurdity, and just in time to commemorate the one month anniversary of the horrific tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association has just released earlier this week a free iPhone and iPad video game that simulates shooting guns at a firing range that was originally rated for children as young as four years old.  “NRA: Practice Range,” which is available at the iTunes online store, requires players to shoot either bull’s-eyes or coffin-shaped targets using various firearms such as AK-47s, pump-action shotguns, or a M9 handgun.  For ninety-nine cents, players can upgrade their firearms to weapons of mass murder such as an MK11 sniper rifle.  Because of public outcry and an online petition drive, Apple changed the rating for the game to twelve and older just two days after the initial release.

Violent video games were first developed by the U.S. Army to train its soldiers for combat and as a recruiting tool.  On July 4, 2002, the Army came out with its “America’s Army” recruiting online game that became the number one online video game in the country.  “America’s Army” was created as a worldwide public relations program to help in its recruitment of potential soldiers and has revolved into a series of government training and simulation applications developed to train and educate its soldiers for warfare.  Potential recruits can undergo virtual training in and around barracks and shooting ranges as well as participating in team battles against opposing players in online combat.  The video games have been so effective that law enforcement agencies have begun using them.  The most popular games are made and sold by Nintendo.

In 2008, the Army created a video game development unit with a $50 million, five-year budget to develop future games.  Marsha Berry, the executive producer of “America’s Army 3,” has been quoted saying “We wanted the kids to be able to start playing at 13,” regarding the game’s relatively sanitary version when compared to other more violent games, in order to receive a “T For Teen” rating.  Retired Army Lt. Colonel David Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor, has written several books on the subject and calls these games a “murder simulator.”

One week after the horrendous tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre told the press that “There exists in this country, sadly a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games with names like “Bullet Storm,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Combat” and “Splatterhouse.”  In what might be the most ironic statement ever made, Mr. LaPierre has recently said “Guns don’t kill people.  Video games, the media and Obama’s budget kills people.”  If Mr. LaPierre actually believes his comments, why on Earth would his organization promote and give away such a game, especially to very young children?

Steven H. Spring

Piers Morgan-Alex Jones Gun Control Debate

In the wake of the massacre of twenty-six innocent lives, twenty of them young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by a heavily armed, obviously mentally deranged young man, the time for a serious gun control debate has finally come.  However, what transpired last week on the Piers Morgan Tonight television program was alarming.  While interviewing radio personality Alex Jones, who had previously started an online petition to deport the British born Morgan after he had the nerve to opine that America needs stricter gun laws, the conversation soon turned into a very heated, one-sided angry outburst by Jones.

At one point Mr. Jones screamed, “1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms” at the composed Piers Morgan.  A few minutes later, Jones stated that the horrendous attack of September 11th was carried out by the “criminal elements of the military-industrial complex.”  Watching replays of this fiery debate, my thoughts were this is one person (Alex Jones) who should not be allowed to own any type of firearm, yet he told Morgan that he owned approximately fifty guns.  He is one person I would not want to live next door to nor meet on the street.  Jones, as evident by his disturbing meltdown on primetime television while trying to have a sensible conversation about gun control should become the poster child for why stricter gun control is very much needed in this nation.  Alex Jones is not the only person who presents a terrifying argument while attempting to express their views on gun control.   In just the past several weeks, James Yeager, Larry Ward and Ted Nugent have all advocated shocking views regarding America’s fascination with guns and any attempt at reasonable gun control.

America’s love affair with firearms has evolved into this country becoming the most violent nation on Earth.  There is absolutely no reason for anyone to own a semi-automatic military assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine clip, yet most politicians do not have the courage to speak up for sensible gun laws for fear of reprisal from the National Rifle Association come their next election.  To believe that arming every citizen is the answer to curbing gun violence, as the NRA advocates is just absurd.  It amazes me when I hear someone talk of going to church armed.  Are we so fearful of our fellow-man that we cannot pray in peace without the feel of a weapon at our side?  There was even a recent letter to the editor of my local newspaper by a preacher who wrote that “Just ask the citizens of cities with strict gun-control laws who have to cower inside their homes every night, terrified of the armed criminals who roam freely though their streets.”  Granted, in America’s decaying inner cities, crime is appalling, yet statistics show that gun owners are fifteen to twenty times more likely to be killed by their own gun, be it accidental, suicidal or via domestic violence than using it to protect themselves and their property from an intruder.

Proponents of gun ownership and the firearms industry cite the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution as the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms.  However, these gun enthusiasts all fail to mention an extremely essential section of the actual amendment.  The Second Amendment, as passed by Congress on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill Of Rights, states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  A well-regulated militia, in this day and age, would refer to the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the National Guard.  Yet, gun advocates never mention this very important phrase of the Second Amendment.  Since this horrendous atrocity at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I have heard only three people mention the phrase “A well regulated Militia…” on television when discussing gun control.  Why is it that the four most important words to the Second Amendment is entirely overlooked by nearly everyone when discussing the right to bear arms?

If a person wants to own a firearm, fine, let them join a well-regulated militia as required by the Second Amendment.  We, as a country always seem to be at war, so there will always be a need for someone who aspires to shoot something or somebody.  I see nothing wrong with a hunter owning a few rifles, but as a general rule, hunters do not shoot their prey with assault rifles capable of firing hundreds of rounds semi-automatically without having to reload.  If a hunter needs thirty or fifty rounds to take down a deer, maybe they should not be hunting in the first place.  For anyone to have the ability to purchase military assault weapons capable of creating the type of massacre seen in this country time and again over the past several decades is asinine.

How long will it be before the next mass murder occurs in this nation?  The odds and statistics indicate not long.

Steven H. Spring

Barns #39A, 11A, 19A & 23A

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Majestic, wooden barns, once so prominent throughout the rural American landscape, are rapidly becoming, seemingly like so many other things of grandeur in Americana, a thing of the past.  In their place, are nondescript aluminum pole barns.  I have yet to see one of these pole barns where I had the thought that the view was picturesque worthy of me taking the time to photograph it.  The old saying that they don’t build things like they used to certainly holds true in this case.

Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, the thought of attending Ohio State University did not cross my mind as I thought it just too large an institution of learning.  After serving four years in the U.S. Navy in order to receive the benefits of the G.I. Bill, I eventually decided to attend Ohio State because of its photography department.  However, after taking several black & white courses, I decided to switch majors to accounting because the photography courses all seemed to be held in the afternoon and as a married man with two precious babies to support, I was working full-time from 3 until at least 11 p.m. and thought it the prudent thing to do.

One comment I have remembered my instructors always telling me was that I did not print my enlargements dark enough.  I do not know if being color-blind has any bearing on my ability to see things in black & white, but hopefully, these photographs do not look too terrible.  In a weird, ironic twist of fate, the fourth photograph was shot roughly ten years before I moved into and renovated an old farm-house.  Losing the proverbial farm during a severe life-threatening mid-life crisis, I used to tell potential buyers the best thing about the house was the barn!

Steven H. Spring

Why Do So Many Intelligent People Say So Many Stupid Things?

Why do so many seemly intelligent people say so many stupid things?  Granted, I myself have been known over the years to make both stupid comments and remarks I have later regretted saying, not that I am implying I’m a smart person, however, the latest example of such foolishness occurred in an article that appeared in my local newspaper this past week by New York Times columnist David Brooks.  In his article concerning federal government revenue, spending and the proverbial fiscal cliff near economic disaster, Mr. Brooks stated that the typical American couple pays $109,000 into Medicare yet receive $343,000 in health benefits, thus in his words the hypothetical couple receives “free money.”  Many other commentators have made similar comments in the past regarding Social Security taxes paid versus retirement benefits received as well.

Just looking at the numbers that Mr. Brooks presented, one would tend to think this is why Social Security and Medicare are both nearly bankrupt.  However, two words completely repudiate Brooks and every other commentator who makes similar assertions: compound interest.  Maybe it’s my mathematical background with a degree in accounting from Ohio State University; however ask any homeowner how much they borrowed from a bank to finance their dream house versus how much they actually paid back.  As a general rule of thumb, a homeowner usually pays back three times what they borrowed during the course of a thirty-year mortgage.  If, for example a person borrows $150,000 to buy a home, they would eventually pay back $450,000, if not more during the course of thirty years worth of mortgage payments.  Granted, the term of the loan and interest rate applied greatly affects this example, but this assumption is generally true over thirty years.

The real reason why Social Security and Medicare are both going bankrupt is that Congress has routinely spent all surplus revenue it takes in every year in the form of FICA taxes instead of investing these funds in very conservative investments such as U.S. Treasury bonds.  With the average American working nearly fifty years before reaching retirement age, if the federal government had invested their payroll taxes paid in treasury bonds or similar investments, both Social Security and Medicare would be solvent for decades to come, if not forever.

Compound interest is a great thing if you are on the receiving end of the debt; however, if it is you who are paying it, interest greatly increases what you eventually pay back.  Compound interest earned on FICA taxes paid, if properly invested during the past seventy-seven years that Social Security has been in existence would have eliminated the financial dilemma now facing Congress.

Steven H. Spring