Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Scrambled Aches

TigerBlog would like to tell you about "The Scrambled Aches."

Who are they? Well, after two weeks, it appears that the Aches are the Bad News Bears of the CoSIDA fitness challenge.

If you don't know, CoSIDA stands for the "College Sports Information Directors of America." It is the national organization for college athletic communications, an organization that encourages professional development and runs important national events, such as the Academic All-American program.

It also promotes camaraderie among those in the profession, and it's current fitness challenge is part of that. And it's for a good cause - exercise.

TigerBlog saw the announcement about the contest on the CoSIDA website and registered. He already rides his bike pretty much every day. Why not be part of the contest?

And so it was that TB was placed on a team called "The Scrambled Aches." It's a good name. Cute.

There are a bunch of cute names in the contest. TB's personal favorite is "Legs Miserables," but there the contest also features "COVID Kai," "Stats and Squats Crew" and "CoFIT-19," among others.

A point system divides competitors into three divisions, based on how much you said you exercise weekly in general, and each team has players in each division. The weekly standings have been released twice to date.

The Aches have finished in 10th place both times.

There are 10 teams competing.

But hey, everyone loved the Bad News Bears, right? 

In all seriousness, the best part of the whole thing is getting to meet people in the same profession who are scattered around the country and are in every area of the college athletics world. The team captain is a man named Jay Stancil, who is the sports information director at Union College, an NAIA school in Kentucky.

There also team representatives from two Big Ten schools, Minnesota and Wisconsin. One of them, Mandy Hansen, has been to Princeton's campus with the Gophers' women's hockey team.

TB's experience in all his years of doing this is that people in communications have a stronger bond than any other group in college athletics. Maybe it's because of the amount of time around events that each school's SID has to reach out to his or her counterpart. 

Maybe it's because that regardless of what level of college athletics it is, there is a lot of commonality in what is required to do the job well. There is nobody on any level of college athletic communications from whom TB couldn't learn at least something new, or see a different thought in producing content and reaching an audience, even after all the years he's been doing this.

Whatever the reason, the communications world has always been very close. That was true during the Ivy League SID meetings that TB used to go to 25 years ago, and it's true now with the CoSIDA fitness challenge.

Getting to meet his Aches teammates, and connecting each week via Zoom, or by the running Group Me chat, has been a side benefit that has been most welcome.

That's what the contest is about, right? Promote good health and build relationships in the profession.

For his part, TB has tried to ride a little longer than normal to try to help the Aches. And hey, there are eight weeks left. The team has to finish better than 10th one of these days.

Oh, and the national leader in the individual category? That would be TB's Princeton colleague Warren Croxton, who, it turns out, is also a big-time trash-talker.

Speaking of bicycling, there was a story on goprincetontigers.com about men's lightweight rowing coach (and endurance athlete) Marty Crotty and the role that he and one of his former athletes, Bradley Werntz, have played in developing a revolutionary new bicycle wheel that made its way all the way to the Tour de France. 

You can read the whole story HERE.

It's a fascinating story about how sports leads to innovation and how the combination of athletics and engineering leads to advancement. Who would have thought to reinvent the bicycle tire?

Maybe TB should get his hands on some of them. It couldn't hurt the Aches' chances. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Lovett And Halpern

TigerBlog is a fan of those 1970s sports Twitter feeds, the one that have old pictures of the players whom TB grew up watching.

He has his favorites, but even seeing the ones he couldn't stand makes him smile and takes him back. Also, if you want to know what the greatest way to ever watch NFL highlights has been, click HERE and you'll see.

The best game in that package is the one between Chicago and Oakland. Before the invention of FieldTurf, games on natural grass often turned into mud bowls like the one those two teams played.

Of course, there was also the old-fashioned artificial turf that you can see in some of the games. If you're not sure what it was like, it wasn't that much different than playing on very old carpet - or cement. 

For TigerBlog, watching the show requires several pauses to check out rosters from early 1970s, to remind himself of who No. 81 was or where that quarterback went to college.

Also, if you do watch, you can see a play in the Saints-Packers game that TB has never seen anywhere else. There was a blocked field goal that turned into a first down for the team whose field goal was blocked. 

The player who caught the pass, by the way, was No. 66 Ray Nitschke, a Green Bay linebacker who is as frightening a football player as has ever played the game.

It's also fun to see stadiums that no longer exist. TB was a big fan of watching football games with baseball lines and dirt patches for bases on them.

For some of the teams in the league, their uniforms are still essentially the same. For others, they've evolved way past where they were in those years, and, if you ask TB, they have not evolved for the better.

Look at the Eagles' highlights in that show. If you're an Eagles' fan, you wouldn't rather see your team still dressed in those unis? The same is true with the Rams.

Green Bay's uniforms haven't changed. The one that Nitschke was wearing is very similar to this one:

The player in the picture is, of course, Princeton's own John Lovett, who is now a tight end/fullback/whatever they need him to be for the Packers.

Lovett was the 2016 and 2018 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year. He missed the 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, and the Bushnell Cup winner that year was another Princeton quarterback, Chad Kanoff.

Lovett may not be as frightening as Nitschke, but he certainly is intimidating. He wasn't so much a quarterback at Princeton as much as a wrecking machine, a physical force that just overwhelmed the league. The result was a record-setting offense, wins in the final 13 games in which Lovett played, two Ivy League championships and a perfect 10-0 record his senior year.

He earned a Super Bowl ring while on injured reserve, was released in the off-season and is now in his first year with Green Bay. He was released at the end of training camp and then brought back to the practice squad, from which he was activated the first two weeks. At that point Green Bay either needed to sign him to the active roster or risk losing him on waivers before he could be returned to the practice squad, and Green Bay, seeing his value, put him on the active roster.

Lovett can throw, catch and run. So far in three games, he's done none of those things. What he has done is block and add a power dimension to the offense for a team that is 3-0.

Again, winning seems to follow Lovett around.

Speaking of winning, congratulations to Jeff Halpern, who became the latest Princeton alum to be a member of a Stanley Cup winner.

Halpern is an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who closed out the Dallas Stars - and another Princeton alum, Taylor Fedun - to win the Cup Monday night.

It was a long grind to get there for Tampa Bay. There was the majority of the regular season, then the break when the COVID-19 situation first arose, then the uncertainty of whether or not the season would resume and finally the games and the playoffs in the bubble. 

An asterisk for the Lightning? Quite the opposite. No team has ever had to do more to win a championship. 

Halpern becomes the fifth Princeton alum this century to be part of a Stanley Cup winner. 

 


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Fairman, Flippen And Myslik

So what is there to talk about today? 

TigerBlog's mistake yesterday?

He referred to the guest room in Princeton Stadium as the Class of 1952 Lounge, when it's actually the Class of 1956 Lounge. It's Class of 1952 Stadium. 

TB apologies to all members of the great class of 1956, including the one-time Princeton Director of Athletics Royce Flippen.

There have been only five people who have held the title of Director of Athletics at Princeton. That's it. Five.

And that's since there first was an AD, back in 1941. So that's five people in 79 years. 

The first was Ken Fairman, from 1941-1970. Flippen was next, from 1973-1979. 

The third was Robert Myslik, who was the AD from 1979-1994. Gary Walters, whose birthday was yesterday, was the AD from 1994-2014. Since then, Mollie Marcoux Samaan as been the Ford Family Director of Athletics. 

For today, TB will share some more about the first three on that list. 

Before 1941, the person who oversaw the athletic department worked for the Dean of the College and was called the Graduate Manager of Athletics. When Asa S. Bushnell left that position at Princeton to become the first commissioner of the ECAC in 1938, Ken Fairman took over as the Graduate Manager. 

The actual Department of Intercollegiate Athletics was formed three years later. Fairman became its first director.

Ken Fairman was certainly an interesting guy. 

Fairman grew up in Syracuse. At Princeton he won eight varsity letters between football, basketball and lacrosse, and he won numerous honors in all three, especially being an All-American in football and basketball.

In addition, Fairman is the one of only three people who have ever won the Poe-Kazmaier Trophy (then just the Poe Trophy) as the top Princeton football player and the B.F. Bunn Award as the top Princeton basketball player. The other two are Neil Zundel (Class of 1948) and George Sella (Class of 1950).

Fairman was an assistant coach at Princeton the year after he graduated, and the one year later he became the head basketball coach. When he moved on three years later to take over for Bushnell, the position of basketball coach went to none other than Franklin C. (Cappy) Cappon.

As TB said, in 1941 Fairman became the AD. In 1942? He left Princeton to become a tank commander in World War II, even earning the French Croix de Guerre.

He came back to Princeton in 1946, and he retired in 1970. 

Other Fairman facts: 1) he was also the mayor of Princeton at one point, 2) he is credited with developing the circular wrestling mat and the circular crease in lacrosse, 3) he was the AD when Princeton started women's athletics, 4) he hired Charlie Caldwell, Dick Colman, Butch van Breda Koll and Pete Carril.

Meanwhile, back at Royce Flippen, did you know that while he was at Montclair High School, Royce lettered 12 times in his final three years, winning four letters each year. He played football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring, and he'd go from baseball to track and field to practice and compete. 

In fact, he was so good at track and field that he was the New Jersey Group IV long champ champion his senior year. He went on to captain the Princeton football team in 1955 to a 7-2 record that included a 6-1 run against teams that one year later would officially be called the Ivy League for the first time.

Other Royce facts: 1) he proposed to his wife on the night before his final Princeton football game, 2) he went to the Harvard Business School after graduation, 3) he was a United States Marine, 4) there is still one coach at Princeton whom he hired - men's track and field coach Fred Samara.

Myslik replaced Flippen in 1979. He also grew up in North Jersey, and he went to Trinity-Pawling before coming to Princeton, where he was a baseball player and a member of the Class of 1961.

Other Myslik facts: 1) he won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London School of Economics, 2) he also went to the Harvard Business School, 3) he spent nine years working for a chemical company in Europe (six in Italy, three in England), 4) he hired two Hall of Fame lacrosse coaches (Chris Sailer and Bill Tierney).

And there you have it, today's conversation. 

What will tomorrow have in store? Come back and find out. 

TB will think of something to say. 


Monday, September 28, 2020

Happy 75th

This past Saturday would have been the home opener for the Princeton football team.

It would have been Bucknell at Princeton. TigerBlog supposes the game would have been on Faculty and Staff Day, and he further assumed it would have been an evening kickoff.

The game would have been a rematch of the one a year ago in Lewisburg, where Princeton defeated Bucknell 56-23 on a steamy day.

Kevin Davidson threw an Ivy League-record seven touchdown passes in that Princeton win, while Andrew Griffin tied the Ivy League record by catching four of those.

Both Davidson and Griffin had played smaller roles in their careers prior to last season, when they both exploded into starring roles. By season's end, Griffin was a first-team Academic All-American - Princeton football's first in 21 years - and Davidson was on his way to the Cleveland Browns' training camp. 

Though two weeks of this season, there would in all certainty have been seniors like Davidson and Griffen a year ago, players who waited their turn for three years and then took advantage of it when the opportunity came for them. Through the years those have been some of TB's favorite Princeton athletes, the ones who were loyal to the program, worked hard, stayed with and finally were rewarded with a chance.

There have been dozens - hundreds - across all sports through the years. 

If you are such a player, you have done more than gotten a chance for some playing time. You've learned a lot about yourself, and you've taken lessons that you almost surely will use for the rest of the your life in tough situations. 

That's one of the great values in sports. 

There will always be athletes who come in and from Day 1 are stars. It's not to say that they don't work hard - quite the opposite, most stars are also the hardest workers. It's just that there's always something to be said for the ones who have work just as hard but don't get to show what they can do in the games. 

It would be easy to give up, or to not work as hard.

For Davidson, his situation was even tougher, since he would almost surely have been the starter for two years had John Lovett not gotten hurt and missed what would have been his senior season of 2017. Instead, Lovett came back the next year to win a second Bushnell Cup and lead Princeton to a 10-0 record. 

Davidson then had only one year as a starter, and he led Princeton to an 8-2 record. His name can be found in many places in the Princeton record book, under "career" as well as "individual."

As TB went about his business Saturday evening, he contrasted things to what would have been had there been a game. He would have been in the press box. There would almost surely have been an event in the Class of 1956 Lounge.

And of course, between those two locations, he almost surely would have seen Gary Walters, the Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus.

Gary is a part of the fabric of Princeton Athletics. His role in the history of the athletic program is secure.

He first came to Princeton in the fall of 1963, after playing high school basketball for Pete Carril at Reading High in Pennsylvania. By his sophomore year, he was the starting point guard on a team that reached the NCAA Final Four. As a senior, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

He would go on to a career in coaching, television and finance before shifting to return to Princeton in 1994 as the fourth Director of Athletics. He would spend 20 years as the Tiger AD, during which time Princeton teams combined for 220 Ivy League championships, or 74 more than the next-best total in the league during those years.

His legacy includes a great deal more than just on-field success. He was the one who originated the phrase "Education Through Athletics," a core belief that is still about more than just words on a sign. There was so much more than that, in areas like facilities, gender equity and the integration of athletics into the overall educational mission of the University. 

Like his successor, Mollie Marcoux Samaan, Gary very much valued the student-athlete experience and the role athletics played in the education of the student-athletes above all else.

Beyond all the Princeton stuff,  Gary also was a national leader, especially in his role on the Division I men's basketball committee, eventually rising to committee chair.

Today is Gary's birthday. His 75th.

It would have been good to see him at the football game Saturday night. There will be others.

In the meantime, happy birthday to Gary. 

There haven't been many Princetonians who have given more than he has.



Friday, September 25, 2020

Going Back - Two For One On 1,000 Points

TigerBlog was watching "Pardon The Interruption" Wednesday when Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon mentioned that it was the 37th anniversary of the day that Steve Carlton won his 300th game.

TB already knew this, because that was the same day that TB covered his first high school football game. In the newspaper the next day, the story of Carlton's 300th dominated the front page, while TB's story was way in the back. What was that about? 

The PTI guys had another "Carlton" story earlier in the week, and when TB saw "Carlton" on the rundown on the right side of the screen, he wondered if he'd had the date wrong all these years. Nope. As it turned out, Monday was the birthday of Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air."

That made TB laugh. Anyway, he's not done with his nostalgia for the week. 

Today he offers this week's edition of "Going Back." This would have been TigerBlog for Feb. 17, 2003:

TigerBlog spent his weekend in Jadwin Gym, though at one point his thoughts drifted about 5,000 miles to the west, to a different basketball venue.

That one would be the Stan Sheriffs Center, located on the campus of the University of Hawaii. That arena plays a big part in what has become an extraordinary set of statistical anomalies.

And you know how much TigerBlog loves a good statistical anomaly.

TB's role this weekend was that of color commentator for the men's basketball games against Brown (an 80-73 loss Friday night) and then against Yale (a very gritty 56-49 win that keeps the Tigers very much in the hunt in the Ivy League race).

The Princeton men are chasing a third straight Ivy title and what would be a sixth in eight years. There have also been seven straight postseason appearances for the men, with four NCAA appearances and three NITs. The men have won four postseason games during this run.

It was a must-win Saturday night for the Tigers, who did so with four players in double figures, led by 15 from Ray Robins, who also had 10 against Brown. Will Venable went all 40 minutes in the win over Yale after going 39 against Brown.

The men are now 11-9 overall and 5-2 at the midway point of the Ivy season, looking up at unbeaten Penn and once-beaten Brown. There is a long way to go before the season ends with the Tigers and Quakers at Jadwin Gym. 

There will be more on the men's basketball team as the week goes along. For today, though, TB promised you a great statistical anomaly, and a great statistical anomaly you will have.

The best game of the weekend in the Ivy League was played in New Haven Saturday night, when the Princeton women defeated Yale 94-92 in three overtimes.

It was two different halves for Princeton that forced OT in the first place. The Tigers led 45-28 at the break, when it seemed like overtime was the last thing anyone would have to worry about. Princeton was on fire from three in the first 20 minutes, shooting 8 for 17 to build that 17-point lead.

And then it vanished. Yale stormed back all the way, knotting it at 78-78. It wouldn't be settled for three overtimes.

But again, where's the anomaly?

Here it is. Princeton seniors Maureen Lane (21 points) and Allison Cahill (24 points) both went over 1,000 point in the game. Two teammates, both of whom reached 1,000 points in the same game.

How often does that happen? That may never have happened before, right?

Well, just a second. In fact, the last time Princeton women's basketball had someone reach 1,000 points, it was also two someones. 

Going back four years, both Maggie Langlas and Kate Thirolf went over 1,000 points in the same game. Has that ever happened? 

Has a college basketball team ever had two players reach 1,000 points in the same game - twice? 

Oh, and where was it that Langlas and Thirolf went over 1,000? It was on the court at the Sheriff Center in Hawaii.

Why is that a big deal? 

Well, that just also happens to be the court where the most recent men's 1,000-point scorer did so. Gabe Lewullis scored his 1,000th point there in the 1998 Rainbow Classic. That made it three straight Princeton 1,000-point scorers who did so on the same court, only it was an away venue.

And the Sherrif Center just happens to be the Division I venue located furthest from Jadwin Gym.

So yeah, those are all great anomalies. 

And, by the way, congratulations to Maureen Lane and Allison Cahill for this incredible achievement. 

TB, for his part, would say that there is a much greater chance that someone comes along and breaks Sandi Bittler's career points scoring record or that Princeton's women's basketball team goes to eight NCAA tournaments in a 10-year stretch than there is that there will be two 1,000-point scorers in the same game ever again.

He will let you know if he's right.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Questions 2 And 3

To the poster who left the comment asking TigerBlog to answer three questions about the emotional effects that certain Princeton events have had on him through the years, TB will be answering the other two at some point.

It's just that they're really difficult questions: 

2. What events have made you angriest or saddest? If that works for you, then proceed to List 3. What events have been most thought-provoking? Not just an emotional experience, but a cerebral one.

Actually, he'll take a shot at those two right now.

What makes an event thought-provoking? Or cerebral?

It has to have a larger issue at stake than just the outcome of a game, TB supposes. Interestingly, at least to TB, this is the tougher of the two questions, and yet it's the one where an answer immediately leapt into his head. 

He'll get to that shortly.

But first, the second question asks about which events have made him the angriest or saddest. 

Angry? Has he ever had actual anger about an event at Princeton?

He can equate sadness with losing a really tough game. That would be easy enough. Which games made him saddest?

Well, there was the 2009 NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinal game, a 6-4 loss to Cornell at Hofstra. Princeton dug itself an early hole and never came all the way back in one of the most intense, fiercely contested, highly defensive games he's ever seen. Here's what TB wrote about that game:

If the Princeton men's lacrosse team thought its first game against Cornell this year was frustrating, the sequel turned out to be worse.

Princeton had been ranked No. 1 in the country heading into the regular season game at Cornell but lost 10-7. Then the Tigers lost the quarterfinal game. Cornell would lose in overtime to Syracuse in the championship game that year, and, much like in the shortened 2020, Princeton, Syracuse and Cornell were the best teams in the country.

That quarterfinal loss also was the last game Bill Tierney would coach at Princeton. His postgame quote was epic: "Sometimes in athletics, it doesn't work out the way you want." 

That game was excruciating to watch, in that TB kept thinking Princeton would get untracked, but Cornell would never allow it. HERE is what TB wrote after that game.

That Princeton team did have a great note, though. The Tigers went 13-3 in 2009, losing twice to Cornell and twice at Hofstra.

Was he sad after that game? Yes. He knew Princeton had a real chance at the NCAA championship. Was he angry after the game? No. 

Angry implies some sort of injustice has occurred. For angry, let's go to the 2015 NCAA women's basketball tournament.

As you may recall, Princeton went 30-0 in the regular season that year. The reward for Princeton? An eight seed. Eight? For 30-0. That made TB actually angry. 

That's the worst seed you could get. It meant an 8 vs. 9 game (Princeton defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay in that one), which meant the No. 1 seed in the second round - on the No. 1 team's home court. That meant Maryland, who ended the Tiger season at 31-1. 

TB wrote this after the game: "It wasn't a fair draw for the Tigers. What they deserved was to play at home, in Jadwin, as a fourth seed. What they deserved was to get Maryland in the next round, on a neutral court."

That's still true to this day. It was an injustice, and it's why TB was angry about what happened.

As for as an emotional, cerebral experience, he again goes back to men's lacrosse, to the 2004 NCAA semifinals.

Princeton played Navy in that game and lost 8-7. The Tigers had a bunch of chances, but as TB recalls, Navy goalie Matt Russell had an incredible game, including stopping Peter Trombino with seven seconds left. 

What made that game emotional and cerebral? 

That Navy team was made up of players who knew that there was a really, really good chance that they'd soon be going from lacrosse fields to battlefields. And that's what happened. 

Many of those players who took on Princeton that day ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of them did not come back.

Because of what was happening at the time, that Navy team became the heavy sentimental favorite of any casual fan. That put Princeton as the team that almost everyone rooted against. 

And it was really hard to be a Princeton representative that Final Four. TB definitely wanted the Tigers to win, but he fully understood why everyone else wanted Navy. And one of his top memories of that day? It was watching the Navy players during the national anthem. 

TB thinks back to that game both to answer the question and to remember the memory of Brendan Looney, a midfielder for Navy that day who went on to become a Navy SEAL.

This week marked the 10th anniversary of Looney's death in Afghanistan. 

TB highly recommends reading THIS STORY by Matt Kinnear in Inside Lacrosse from earlier this week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Pennington-Academy Of The New Church Game

TigerBlog figured he'd go to law school at some point when he started college.

He got detoured along the way by a fairly random set of events. Try to keep up here:

* BrotherBlog also went to Penn, two years ahead of TB. He had a job in the psychology department as a freshman and sophomore but then moved to the Office of the General Counsel his junior year when the woman he worked for in psychology went there.

* When TB got to Penn, he took BB's job in the psych department. The job was mostly making copies of reading assignments, especially for grad students. This was before the internet, obviously, but also before the copy machine could collate and staple, so TB was the collater and stapler. This usually involved making however many copies were necessary (say, 50 of a 25-page paper) and then laying them down on the floor one page on top of the other. It was tedious.

* TB worked with someone who was a graduate assistant coach on Penn's men's basketball team and a recent grad. Today he is the head coach at the University of Iowa. His name is Fran McCaffery.

* TB became friends with Fran, and his older brother Jack, a longtime sportswriter in the Philadelphia area. At the time, Jack wrote for the Trenton Times.

* At one point, Jack asked TB if he'd like to cover some high school football games for the newspaper. TB said he had no experience in writing, none, but Jack said it didn't matter. And so TB said "sure." That's how he got his start.

So to review, TB got his writing start at a daily newspaper in Trenton despite never having written one word before and, for that matter, never actually having been to Trenton before. He got the job because he was friends with someone whose brother was a sportswriter in Trenton, and he was only friends with that person in the first place because his own brother's random work-study job had gone from the psych department to the OGC's office and he was able to replace him. 

Say, for instance, that BB had stayed for four years in the psych department. Then what? TB wouldn't have met Fran, which meant he wouldn't have met Jack, which meant he wouldn't have gotten the job at the Trenton Times.

TB has thought back to this fairly often in his life. Where would it all have left him? Law school?

Or maybe there would have been a different intervention of fate that would have led him to a completely different world. So where would he have been in 2020? 

College athletics? Probably not. Although maybe. Who knows? After all, TB's undeniably best professional skill is his ability to write. But maybe that never would have come out.

Is it possible that TB is a financial genius and never found that out? Or, if not a banker, maybe a great baker? 

Anyway, he spent six years covering high school sports before moving up to cover colleges with the great Harvey Yavener in 1989. It was from that point that he first started covering Princeton Athletics, and he came to work for Princeton when a job in the Office of Athletic Communications opened up in 1994.

Even then, there was a bit of fate involved. Bob Myslik had left Princeton and Gary Walters had not yet started, so there was no Director of Athletics around to give approval on the hiring. Gary has joked to TB through the years that had he been there, he never would have hired a Penn alum to work in his communications office. Was he serious?

The first game TB covered for the Trenton Times was a high school football game between Pennington School and the Academy of the New Church. It was played on a pristine field in Bryn Athyn, in Bucks County.

TB was right. He had no idea what he was doing. But hey, he pieced it together, even writing a reasonably coherent story that he probably has stored away somewhere. 

He remembers going back to the newsroom after the game, writing the story and giving it to the copy editor, a man named Harry Chaykun, a classic newspaperman himself. TB proudly stood over Harry's shoulder while he read it, and when he was done, TB waited for the judgement. 

None was forthcoming, and so TB initiated the following conversation:

TB: "What did you think?"
Harry: "I'm still awake."

Even now that makes TB laugh. Once he got to know Harry, he realized that was about the biggest praise he'd ever get.

Anyway, everything that has come since professionally for TB started there. All of the great experiences he's had at Princeton, first as a sportswriter and in all the years of working here. All of the great people he's met. All of the legendary athletes he's seen. All of the epic games. All of the championships. All of the travel.

All of it started at Pennington at ANC.

Why bring that up now?

Because that game was 37 years ago today. 

Happy anniversary, fate. Thanks for everything.



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Finals

Well, it went from air conditioning to heat in almost no time around here.

It seems like it was in the 80s and even 90s not that long ago, like a week or so ago. Now it's been into the high-30s at night and hasn't reached 70 during the day for awhile.

Some people like the colder weather. TigerBlog is a fan of summer and warmth. 

In fact, he's in the denial stage, figuring that if he continues to wear shorts then it'll stay warm. That's how it works, right? You wear shorts when it's warm, so if you're wearing shorts, it must be warm.

Sadly, he might have some cause and effect issues mixed in there.

Today is the official first day of fall. It's a different feeling than most - make that all - previous first days of fall for TB.

He's never been a huge fan of when it starts to get cold, but it's also always coincided with the start of a new academic, and therefore athletic, year. That's always been exciting. 

It's not quite the same in 2020, which, by the way, is the most obvious sentence TB has ever written.

With no athletic events on the schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic, now it's just cold weather on the immediate horizon.

The impact of this up until maybe a week ago is that it didn't feel like early September. It still felt like July, the middle of summer, with the new seasons looming out there on the horizon but not quite here yet.

TB has spoken to several people in college athletics who feel the same way. They've all said the same thing, that it's still July.

As TB wrote yesterday, if you did a poll of the people in the athletic department, he's guessing 100 percent of them would say they would prefer to have the events being played as usual, even if it meant more work. That's why you work in college athletics in the first place.

Of course it's not July. It's September. And that means ... the Stanley Cup Finals? 

In 2020 it does.

TB actually went back to see when the exhibition season began for this season, and it actually was one year and one week ago, to Sept. 15, 2019. The regular season began on Oct. 2, 2019. Now here it is, the Stanley Cup Finals. 

If you had gone back to one year ago today and asked TB to write down 10 possible reasons why the Stanley Cup Finals would have been pushed back until late September, he wonders if he would have come up with "global pandemic." He might have had his first though be "labor issue in the league" and possibly nine blank spaces.

And now here it is. Last night was Game 2 between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

There will be a Princeton winner no matter which team skates away with the Stanley Cup, as Dallas features Taylor Fedun on its roster. Tampa Bay features assistant coach Jeff Halpern. Both of them are former Roper Trophy winners as the top senior male athlete at Princeton, and both won ECAC championships and made NCAA tournament appearances with the Tigers.

Fedun, a 2011 graduate and a mechanical and aerospace engineering major, is third all-time at Princeton in points by a defenseman. He's had a very solid NHL career, first with Vancouver and Buffalo and now with Dallas. In the last two regular seasons with the Stars, he played in 81 games with six goals and 14 assists.

Halpern, who graduated in 1999 with an econ degree, is fifth all-time at Princeton in points. He also had a long NHL career, as well as internationally with the U.S. national team, including serving as captain for the Americans at the 2008 World Championships.

In his 14 years as an NHL player, Halpern scored 152 goals and added 221 assists. Despite being undrafted out of Princeton, Halpern played nearly 1,000 regular season NHL games. 

Now and he and Fedun are going head-to-head for the Stanley Cup.

Princeton has had several winners of the Cup. The list is: 

George Parros '03 (Player) – Anaheim; 2007
Kevin Westgarth '07 (Player) – Los Angeles; 2012
Brent Flahr '96 (Scout) – Anaheim; 2007
Chris Patrick '98 (Director of Player Development) – Washington; 2018

Monday, September 21, 2020

Thinking Football

It was nearly 5 Saturday afternoon when TigerBlog texted his colleague Cody Chrusciel.

In addition to his work in multimedia, Cody, of course, is also the play-by-play man for Princeton football. TB texted him and asked him this:

"Would you rather be doing whatever it is you're doing now or be getting on the bus for the ride back from VMI?"

Cody texted him back in a few seconds and said he'd take the bus.

Now TB has no idea what Cody was doing at the time. Maybe he was doing something tedious.

Or maybe he's like everyone else at Princeton. There are no fall sports, just like the spring was cancelled in mid-March, which means that pretty much anything game-related has not had to be done.

And there's nobody who works at Princeton wants it this way.

And so TB and Cody were on the same page Saturday afternoon. They both would have liked to have been in Lexington, Va., for the Princeton football opener against VMI.

TigerBlog looked back through the Princeton football year-by-year results to see the last time the Tigers played in Virginia. Turns out it was in 2011, when the Tigers were at Hampton. He should have remembered that one.

He did remember that going back a little further, Princeton was in Virginia to play at William & Mary in 1986. Going back way further, Princeton played at the University of Virginia twice in the 1890s.  

That's been it for trips to Virginia.

As TB looked back at the all-time records, he noticed two things that he didn't know or never noticed or something like that.

First, every year from 1954 through 1979, Princeton played nine games - seven Ivy League games and non-league games against Colgate and Rutgers. Also, the overwhelming majority of those games were in Palmer Stadium. 

In fact, all of the Colgate games were at Princeton, and all but the 100th anniversary game in 1969 against Rutgers were at Princeton. Rutgers won that 1969 game, and the Daily Princetonian headline of the game said "Second Hundred Years Begins Worse Than The First."

A year later, Rutgers was back at Palmer Stadium in the final meeting the two original teams. That year, 1980, was also the year that Princeton's schedule expanded from nine games to 10, and the Tigers added Maine to the non-conference schedule along with Rutgers and Colgate.

The other thing that TB noticed from the old schedules was that the 1951 unbeaten Tigers also played a nine-game schedule. Does anyone know which current Ivy League team was not on the schedule and which three teams who would now be considered non-league were on the schedule? 

Keep in mind, the Ivy League didn't actually being officially until the 1956 season.

So who was on the 1951 schedule? It was every Ivy League team other than Columbia, of all teams. 

And the non-league teams? Lafayette, which is no shock. Navy, which is also no shock. The third? 

How about New York University? Who knew? 

Princeton played NYU in 1901, 1910 and 1912, winning all three and shutting out NYU all three times, and then not again until 1951, winning 54-20. 

Why did Princeton play NYU? Well, that story resonates a bit in 2020.

Columbia was originally on the schedule for the 1951 opener, but the game was cancelled a little more than a week before it was to be played. Why? Because two Columbia players were thought to have come down with polio.

Princeton was able to replace Columbia at the last minute with NYU, who had an open date that week. Dick Kazmaier scored three touchdowns in the game to start his run to the 1951 Heisman Trophy.

One year later, after the 1952 season, NYU would drop its football program. 

As for Columbia, it played eight games that season, beginning one week later against Harvard. The entire Lions team was tested for polio, obviously, and no other players tested positive.

It's not quite what 2020 has been, but it's similar.

And one more thing about that NYU game. Remember back in April when TigerBlog wrote about Joe Masi, a backup football player who wrote a poem about getting the game ball after scoring his only career touchdown as a Tiger? It was a very touching poem, and TB wrote about Masi shortly after his death.

You can read that one HERE.

His touchdown came in that game against NYU.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Grant Wahl Was Right

TigerBlog brought up Grant Wahl in yesterday's "Going Back" entry, mentioning how Grant had been a Daily Princetonian writer and an OAC student-worker back in the 1990s.

Then TB saw Grant's tweet that his father Dave had passed away yesterday. To Grant and his family, TB sends his condolences.

Grant, of course, has gone from Princeton to a long career in sportswriter and broadcasting and is one of the leading - or you could probably make that the single leading - soccer writers in the world. 

If you want some extraordinary writing for a college newspaper, or for that matter just extraordinary writing with no caveat, how about this from Grant after Princeton's 10-10 tie with Dartmouth that gave the Tigers the outright 1995 Ivy League football championship:

A glance at each of the sidelines after Sierk's kick revealed much more than than the hollow-gutted ambivalence that normally accompanies such results. There was senior quarterback Brock Harvey, leaping high in the air after his last-second scramble — his third long run in as many weeks — had put Princeton in position for the field goal. Harvey appeared to hang in the air longer than was possible, and when he finally landed he smashed every demon that has dogged him since his first start at quarterback, a loss in last year's opening game to Cornell. There was senior linebacker Dave Patterson, the cool Jack Nicholson with the upraised arms, knowing that the Tiger defense earned the title and "won" this game with an effort that never slackened. And there was the Dartmouth sideline, where the Big Green wilted, their own improbable Ivy title hopes quashed at the very last second, along with those of Penn and Cornell. Some tie. 

As far as I'm concerned, when head coach Steve Tosches called a timeout with four seconds on the clock and Princeton inside the Dartmouth one, his decision didn't break down to "high-percentage field goal versus risky plunge over the middle." Going for the field goal was a gamble: Sierk had missed the same short attempt from the wide hash mark earlier in the season, and as a freshman, he could have crumbled under the pressure. But Tosches knew his personnel and made the right call. Penn was demolishing Cornell, and after last week's loss to Yale, it wasn't as if Princeton was protecting a perfect record, like Nebraska had in 1984 when it went for two against Miami (Fla.) and lost the national championship in the process. 

The Tigers' second goal each season, after an undefeated record, is to win an outright Ivy League tide, and the tie gave them that. So while finishing 0-1-1 isn't something Princeton followers and players will remember with much fondness, in 20 years they won't recall it at all. What they'll remember are Harvey breaking free down the left side, Patterson slamming into a runner in the backfield and a deceptively tricky 18-yard field goal that brought gold rings to Princeton — and Princeton alone — for the first time in 31 years.

That's tremendous, right?  

Now that it's actually 25 years after that, was Grant right? Yes, he was. 

When the 1995 football season comes up, it's always about being the outright Ivy champion and about the incredible drive that Harvey led to set up Alex Sierk's short field goal. The fact that Princeton started 8-0 and then lost to Yale and tied Dartmouth, to finish 0-1-1, never comes up.

More than Sierk's field goal, it was the 22-yard Harvey run to the Dartmouth 1, a play on which he was knocked out of bounds with four seconds left, that is the single most-memorable moment of that championship season.

When TigerBlog was at Virginia for men's lacrosse this past February, the photographer who was shooting the game for the Tigers was a local man named Brian McWalters. At the time, Brian, who has now shot a bunch of events for Princeton and has done a great job each time, asked if there were any fall events in the area that he could work.

TigerBlog immediately said yes, there was, a football game at Virginia Military Institute to start the season on Sept. 19. He told Brian to put it in his calendar, and Brian did just that.

That game would have been tomorrow. Today would have been a travel day, the six-hour drive down to Lexington. Obviously the COVID-19 situation changed all of those plans. 

TB would have loved to have seen the game at VMI's Foster Stadium. The forecast for Lexington for tomorrow is 65 degrees and sunny. It would have been a perfect day for the game.

Instead of looking ahead to that game today, TB is looking back, to 1995, and remembering that championship team, for which he was also the OAC football contact.

And in doing so, he can confirm that Grant Wahl was, indeed, correct.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Going Back - Opening Day

TigerBlog often will write that he has "covered" Princeton Athletics for more than 30 years. 

Actually, this is Year 32 for him with the Tigers. He can't imagine how many Princeton events he's seen in that time, but it's a lot. Maybe he can try to come up with some reasonable guess at some point.

The reason he uses the word "covered" when he talks about how long it's been is because of the fact that he's actually only on Year 27 of being employed by Princeton University. For the five years prior to that, he covered Princeton for the Trenton Times, back in the pre-internet days when getting information from the daily newspaper was a huge thing.

His introduction to Princeton Athletics came as a Penn student, when he logically thought that the Quakers were the good guys and the Tigers were the bad guys. It was during his five years at the newspaper when he first got to know the people at Princeton and realize how misinformed he'd been as an undergraduate.

It was also during those five years that he had the great opportunity to cover things like the men's basketball dynasty from 1989-92, the first two men's lacrosse NCAA championship teams and two Ivy League football titles (1989 and 1992) while also being introduced to women's athletics and the importance of equity. 

In addition, he met and saw compete some of the greatest athletes Princeton has had in so many sports. He even got to meet a women's soccer and hockey player who was a student worker in the Office of Athletic Communications - Mollie Marcoux.

He began his actual Princeton employment in the early summer of 1994, and so it was a few months before there were actually any games. His first game worked as a Princeton OAC staff member was the football game at Cornell on this day 26 years ago, Sept. 17, 1994.

As part of the "Going Back" series, here is what TigerBlog would have been for Tuesday, Sept. 20, 1994, since the Monday blog would have been mostly about the game, as opposed to TB's experience:

TigerBlog was wearing a tie Saturday. 

It was a first for him at a Princeton football game. Actually, for all of the Princeton events he's covered before, he'd only once worn a tie, and that was for the NCAA men's basketball game against Syracuse two years ago in Worcester.

He's been to a lot of Princeton events in the last five years. This time, though, it was much different. And not just because of the tie.

For the first time, TigerBlog was at a Princeton game as an actual employee of the University. It was certainly a much different feel for him.

He's been at Princeton for nearly three months now, but this was the first time he had a game to work. It has been a summer of getting familiar with the aspects of the job that were completely new to him, like how to operate a Macintosh computer. And to use PageMaker, the fancy desktop publishing software on the OAC Macs.

For that, by the way, he needs to thank his OAC colleague Chuck Sullivan, who spent some pretty frustrating moments teaching TB. The best part was when Chuck explained what "apple Z" did, which is to undo the most recent thing you did, only you have to do before you do anything else. As Chuck said "it's like an appeal play in baseball."

TB finished his first media guide - the football guide - and started on the next, for men's basketball. And yeah, he had a bad mistake on the media guide with a giant misidentified picture that he thought was captain Carl Teter, and he's pretty sorry about that one. If he works here for the next 25 years, he'll never forget the horrifying feeling he got when he opened the media guide after 2,500 of them were printed and saw that, no, it was not Teter on Page 1.

On the other hand, he can work here for the next 25 years and still have that be the worst mistake he ever made, so he got it out of the way quickly.

It's a very interesting dynamic to go from sportswriter to athletic communications contact. The people are all the same. The job is different. 

When you cover a team like Princeton, it's not like you're going to having an adversarial relationship with the coaches and athletes. Their stories are just too compelling for the most part.

It's just so much better to do so from the inside.

As for the game Saturday, the first two people TB saw in the Schoellkopf Field press box were Daily Princetonian writers - and OAC student workers - Nate Ewell and Grant Wahl. He jokingly, well, not really jokingly, half-jokingly maybe, asked them what he should be doing.

It was good to start with an away game. This coming Saturday (and the two after it) will feature home games at Palmer Stadium, beginning with Colgate and then with Bucknell and then Brown. TB has his first late-night experience last night with finishing a football game program.

Now he's looking forward to running the press box and all the little things that go along with it, as opposed to simply showing up for the game.

Oh, and one more thing from Saturday. The Cornell percussion made the spontaneous, and as it turned out dangerous, decision to pile on top of the Tiger mascot during the pregame performances, inadvertently injuring Blanch Rainwater, the Princeton student in the costume.

In fact, Rainwater had to be taken to the hospital, though she returned during the game. There were media requests to talk to her, and TB arranged them.

Again, he can work at Princeton for the next 25 years, make that the next 35 years, and he'd guess that it's unlikely that he'll be asked to set up in-game interviews with the mascot. 

But hey, you never know. It's all part of being the OAC contact.

For Day 1, he loved his new perspective. 

Maybe he'll stick it out for awhile.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Nancy Strong

TigerBlog's friend Patrick Stevens is in the middle of a series that is projecting the Top 25 teams in men's lacrosse for next spring.

Patrick, who covers as much lacrosse as anyone and who is as knowledgeable as anyone, had Princeton 20th in his way-ahead rankings. Here's what he said about the Tigers:

No program — not hadn’t-quite-put-it-together-yet Penn State, not scorching Syracuse, not even fellow Ivies Cornell and Yale — deserved to see how the spring of 2020 would play out as much as Princeton did.

TB could remind everyone that nobody had Princeton ranked anywhere in the preseason and that when the season was cancelled in mid-March, the Tigers were ranked second or third, depending on the poll you like. 

When the 2020 preseason began, TB was pretty sure Princeton would be much better than anyone was suggesting. He was relatively certain this was at least a Top 10 team, but it didn't matter if nobody else in the preseason agreed. The Tigers would have every chance to prove, or not prove, that they belonged.

And that's what happened. 

Princeton won all five of its games, scoring at least 16 goals each time. Matt Madalon's team was complete all over the field, with depth and athleticism combine with a strong team culture. The 2020 Tigers were primed for very big things, and Patrick is right when he says it would have been great to see how it played out.

Anyway, preseason polls don't mean much, though they are fun. 

And, in this uncertain world, it's nice to simply read about lacrosse and how a possible 2021 season might shake out, even if it has the Tigers lower than TB would have put them.

Of course, these days nothing is certain. Will there be a 2021 season? TB really hopes so, but that's not up to him.

This brings him to today's subject, which isn't just Princeton lacrosse.

When there is no certainty on things, all you can do is make your best possible decisions and hope for the best, right?  

TigerBlog wants to tell you about his longtime colleague and friend in the Department of Athletics, Nancy Donigan, part of the compliance staff (her husband Joe has also been a longtime Princeton employee). He asked Nancy's permission to share this with you, and she said she was fine with it, especially if it helps someone.

Nancy currently is undergoing chemo for breast cancer. She might not have even been aware she had breast cancer had she not gone for her annual mammogram, something that she was considering not doing because of the COVID-19 situation. 

Why go into the doctor's office unnecessarily, right? That's what she was thinking. Then she decided to go anyway, even though it was a few months later than she might otherwise have done.

The result? Her cancer was caught early, and now she's in treatment.

Her message? Don't let the virus situation keep you from taking care of yourself.

Nancy is strong. She's a former athlete herself, a soon-to-be member of her high school Hall of Fame. She was stunned by the initial diagnosis, but she quickly shifted from "why is this happening to me" to "I will beat this."

And so now she is doing just that. 

She's certainly gotten the support of the entire department. There have been t-shirts with "Nancy Strong" on them, and she has been overwhelmed by the number of calls and texts and videos that show how much people are thinking about her.

Her diagnosis came shortly after she and Joe became grandparents for the first time. Being a grandmother has given her added strength and purpose, not that she really needed additional inspiration.

Nancy is a Princeton Athletics staple. She's funny, well-meaning, empathetic and always upbeat. She's been dealt something that she says she has always dreaded, and she hasn't backed down at all. 

Everyone at Princeton is rooting hard for her. 

And her message is to take care of yourself. Make sure you don't let the COVID-19 situation stand in the way of getting yourself checked out when it's necessary.

She's glad she did. And a bit lucky she did.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Tigers In The WNBA

If you want to know what the hardest class TigerBlog took in college was, he might have to say it was astronomy.

Now that wouldn't seem like it would be that difficult, but the professor - who was one of the best one TB had in his four years at Penn - made it challenging and tough, but also really, really interesting and informative.

What more could you ask for from an elective?

His tests were the most unique tests TB ever took. There would be seven sections with three questions each, and you had to answer any five of the seven sections. The only catch was that the three questions in each section were unrelated, so it wasn't like you could jump on the section on a certain topic you felt good about or avoid one where you didn't have as much confidence.

Anyway, TigerBlog still remembers a lot of what he learned in that class. The most fascinating was the concept that when you look up and see stars, most of those stars don't exist anymore. It's just that they were so far away from Earth that it's taken the light this long to get here.

He also remembered that on Venus, it was 700 degrees and rained sulfuric acid. Now that hardly seems conducive to life, right?

That was the first thing TB thought of when he saw the story yesterday that astronomers may have discovered life on Venus. Okay, that's a bit overstated. They may have discovered traces of mircobial organisms in the atmosphere of the planet. 

Speaking of planets, TB is halfway through the 10-episode first season of "Away," which stars Hilary Swank as the commander of the first manned trip to Mars. It's pretty good, not great, but certainly entertaining.

For matters back here on Earth, TigerBlog really wanted to see the Atlanta Dream knock off the Washington Mystics in the WNBA season finale Sunday evening.

Atlanta, which features Princeton alum Blake Dietrick, had already been eliminated, but another Princeton alum, Bella Alarie, had helped the Dallas Wings to a win Sunday afternoon, which meant that the Wings would have taken the last playoff spot had Atlanta beaten Washington. Instead, Washington gets the last spot.

That's an awful situation for a team to be in, by the way. TB has seen it from Princeton teams before.

You need to win to either get a share of the Ivy League title or to get into the Ivy tournament, but you also need some other team to lose. It's a helpless feeling, caused by a game or two earlier in the year that didn't go your way.

The first one TB could think of came from the final day of the 2018 men's lacrosse season. Princeton needed to beat Cornell (it did, 14-8) and then have Dartmouth upset Brown in a game that started after the Princeton-Cornell one ended to get into the Ivy tournament. The first time TB checked the score of that game, it was 1-1. The next time it was 13-1 Brown. The final was 20-6. It was helpless.

There are others. Fortunately, Princeton is on the other end of that more often than not, when it was the team someone else needed to lose, only Princeton won. For instance, there was the field hockey regular season finale a year ago, when Harvard needed Princeton to lose to Penn to get a share of the championship, but Princeton beat the Quakers.

Anyway, you get the point.

As for Dietrick and Alarie, both of them showed that they clearly belong in the WNBA during the abbreviated bubble season of 2020. 

Dietrick made a huge jump this year, going from averaging 1.02 points per game during her first 46 career games to averaging six a game this year for Atlanta in 22 games. She had 15 points, five assists, three steals and two rebounds in the second-to-last game of the year making all three of her threes as well. 

She went from shooting 30 percent from three-point range in her first three seasons to 45 percent (26 for 58) this year, which ranked eighth in the league. She also averaged 21 minutes per game after averaging 6.7 prior to this year. 

As for Alarie, she averaged 14 minutes per game as a rookie. She also showed the versatility that made her so dangerous at Princeton (a three-time Ivy League Player of the Year), with her ability to play inside and outside, rebound and block shots (she was 12th in the league as a rookie).

No, there wouldn't be any playoffs for either this year. 

Yes, it was a great experience for both.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Opening Kickoff

If you were out yesterday, you probably noticed that there were more people wearing NFL jerseys than usual.

And why not? It was opening day, after all.

TigerBlog was on his bike yesterday morning when he rode past a family out for a walk. The father was wearing an Eagles jersey, with No. 65 on the bike.

Lane Johnson is your favorite player? An offensive lineman?

That was a guy after Princeton head coach Bob Surace's heart.

In his entire life, TB has owned the jersey of exactly one football player. It was a long time ago, and it was the jersey of the most dominant player who ever walked on a football field.

Hint - it was a New York Giants jersey, No. 56.

If you're too young to know what that means, watch THIS.

For the opening day of the NFL season, TigerBlog watched the Red Zone channel, which 1) he doesn't usually get, 2) was being offered as a free preview for Week 1 and 3) which he might have to get. 

If you've never seen the Red Zone channel, it basically is non-stop football from the kickoff of the first game at 1 until the last 4:00 game ends. It never has any commercials, and it jumps around from game to game to game, depending on the situation.

If you're focused on one team or one game, then it's not for you. Also, if your head starts to spin easily, then it's also not for you.

On the other hand, if you aren't really all that invested in any one game, and you don't want to see any commercials, it's the greatest thing ever. 

It can get to be a little much after awhile, though it's at its best when all of the games start to get to the finish line at the same time.

This is an opening weekend like no other in NFL history. No, it's not the first time that teams didn't play preseason games, but you have to go back a very, very long way for that not to be the case. 

And even when there were no preseason games, there were exhibition games all over the place. In fact, when the NFL first started, it was hard to tell what was a real game and what was an exhibition game.

TB even remembers when the defending NFL champion would play a team of college all-stars in Chicago. That ended in 1976.

This year, because of the COVID-19 situation, there was no preseason. It's actually not the worst thing that ever happened, since nobody really wants to watch preseason games and practice and scrimmages are a much better way for player evaluation. Maybe not much better, but certainly good enough.

The other big issue this year is that there are no fans in the stands, or at least there weren't for every early game except the one in Jacksonville.

TB's rooting interest this year extends to the Princetonians in the NFL. 

He turned on the Red Zone channel shortly after 1, the first game that was on was Green Bay-Minnesota, and the first play was a running play on which the lead blocker was No. 45. That would be John Lovett, the two-time Bushnell Cup winner as a quarterback. Lovett, of course, was the quarterback for Princeton's unbeaten 2018 team, as well as one of the quarterbacks - and receivers and runners - on its 2016 Ivy title team.

Lovett, who won a Super Bowl ring last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, is now on the Packers. He was released last Saturday, immediately signed to the practice squad and then activated this past Saturday. The game against Minnesota was his first regular season game action.

Green Bay won a shootout 43-34, a game that wasn't quite that close. 

Stephen Carlson played for the Browns yesterday to start his second season on the active roster. It wasn't a great start for Cleveland, who lost 38-6 to the Ravens.

Jesper Horsted is on the Bears' practice squad, which is where he started last season before being activated midway through the year. TB is confident Horsted will again end up active. Either way, he's rooting for the Bears, who came back to beat Detroit 27-23.

Caraun Reid is on the Jacksonville practice squad. The Jags opened with a 27-20 win over the Colts. 

Tonight marks the season start for another Princeton alum in the NFL. That would be Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator for the Giants. It'll be fun to be able to root for Jason without having to root for the Cowboys after all those years.

Friday, September 11, 2020

19 Years Later

TigerBlog will write each entry the day before it's posted, and he'll set it to go live shortly after midnight each day. 

The way to do that is to click on the little calendar on the blogspot back end and select the date and time. When he sees what day is coming up, it often reminds him that someone's birthday is coming up or that he has an appointment or something along those lines.

When he did it yesterday, it gave him chills. And not the good kind. 

Today is September 11, and TB doesn't even like having to type the date. Seeing it on the calendar yesterday did what it always does - it brings the events of Sept. 11, 2001, flooding back to him. 

These days, there are pretty much no Princeton students who are old enough to remember that day. There are even some who weren't born yet.

TB remembers. He'll never forget. And as he does each year, he'll share these thoughts with you:

TigerBlog can remember every detail of that awful day 19 years ago today.

He remembers most of the details of the day after, 19 years ago tomorrow.

He wishes that he could remember the day before, back to Sept. 10, 2001. He wishes he could remember what he was thinking on that day, what his world was like on that day, because that world changed forever on Sept. 11 and has never come back.

Each year since Sept. 11, 2001, TigerBlog has gotten an uneasy feeling in the hours before the next anniversary. This year is no different.

The date is enough to bring it all rushing back.

TigerBlog has gone through this pretty much each year he's been doing this. It's important though. It's important not to let what happened on that day ever fade in importance.

The only day in American history that can compare with Sept. 11, 2001, is Dec. 7, 1941. That's the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II.

Yes, there have been battles in wars that have featured unimaginable death totals. Nearly 10 times more American soldiers were killed in the Battle of Normandy (the entire battle, not just D-Day) in World War II than died on 9/11.

As for 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, though, those were direct attacks on America, not overseas (yes, Hawaii was not yet a state in 1941).

Now, nearly 78 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, the day Dec. 7 still lives, as FDR said it would, in infamy. It just doesn't haunt the national consciousness the way 9/11 does.

Part of that is because the vast majority of Americans who were alive 78 years ago no longer are. The other, though, is that it would take less than four years for the U.S. and its Allies to defeat the Axis powers.

The aftermath of 9/11 has not been anything quite so tidy. There are still military operations as a direct result of 9/11, and even though Al Qaeda never launched another massive attack in this country, the threat is still there.

Like TigerBlog said, the world of Sept. 10 vanished and has never come back. In so many ways.

TigerBlog knows people who saw 9/11 from so many different angles. Everyone has a story to tell from that day.

TB has friends who were on airplanes at the time of the attacks and landed nowhere near New York, as all flights were immediately grounded. They had to try to rent cars to drive home, including one who was on a flight to Newark that landed instead in Nashville, from where he drove home.

He knows another who landed at Newark around the time that the flight that would crash in Pennsylvania after the passengers fought back against the hijackers was leaving and saw the Towers burning as she drove down the New Jersey Turnpike.

He knows another who was unaware of the attacks until, after being told about them, looked out the window at home on Long Island and saw the smoke from the Twin Towers. FatherBlog was in his office in midtown, four or so miles from ground zero.

Princeton had more than its share of graduates, a lot of them athletes, who were in one of the towers at the time. A total of 14 Princetonians were killed.

As for TigerBlog, he was dropping off TigerBlog Jr. at the University League Nursery School, on the far side of the parking lot outside Jadwin. It was the most perfect weather day, crystal clear, sunshine, no humidity, not a cloud to be found.

TB dropped TBJ off at the school, and the woman who was the office manager said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

TigerBlog walked outside, looked up, and thought "how in the world did that happen?" By the time he got to Jadwin, he found out how.

Most of that day was spent huddled around the only television around, the one in the athletic training room in Caldwell Field House. It was a day where people spoke very little, where everyone had dazed looks on their faces.

By mid-afternoon, he went back to get TBJ at the nursery school. He can still see the children, swinging on the swings, playing in a sandbox, oblivious - happily oblivious - to what had happened to the innocence of the world outside that playground.

Later that night, after it was dark, TigerBlog walked outside to the end of his driveway and looked up. There were no planes in the sky. They'd all been grounded. TB remembers it vividly, the sight of the stars, without planes, above a world of confusion, angst, uncertainty, fear.

Those were TB's memories. They come rushing back each year on this day, and they bring with them all of those emotions all over again. It's important that it does. This isn't a day that should ever fade from anyone's memory.

Miss TigerBlog was 1 at the time. She's a Princeton junior now. All of those children from the playground have grown up. They need to understand what happened.

The next day, TigerBlog was able to track down former Princeton football captain Dan Swingos, who had been in the second tower but managed to get out. He told TigerBlog a wild story of survival, and luck, one shared by so many others who'd been there at the time.

TigerBlog tells this story each year. He'll continue to do so.

He'll also continue to remember all of the people who were lost that day, the ones who didn't get out, or the ones on the planes.

It's a group that includes John Schroeder, a member of the 1992 men's lacrosse team that won the first of the program's six NCAA championships. He'd been in the World Trade Center and did not get out.

Anytime that TigerBlog has been around the men's lacrosse Class of 1992, no matter what the occasion or celebration, they remember their teammate. They talk about him. They include him in whatever they're doing. They keep his memory alive.

It's been 19 years now.

It seems like yesterday. The memories are vivid, for TigerBlog and everyone else.

And those lost - like John Schroeder - are still missed. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Going Back - 2003 NCAA Champs

This is the fourth installment of the "Going Back" series, in which TigerBlog is writing entries that he would have written for events that occurred before the blog started in 2008.

His goal is to do this once per week. He also invites anyone who would like to submit a version of their own to do so.

For this week, he goes back a little more than 17 years, to when the women's lacrosse team won its second-straight NCAA title and third overall. This one was quite a bit different than the one the year before, when Princeton simply ran away from the rest of the field.

In addition to having to tough it out in two tight games, Princeton also had to deal with an incredibly emotional subplot of which it had no control.

Here is what TigerBlog would have been on Monday, May 19, 2002:

The Princeton women's lacrosse team did nothing the easy way this past weekend in Syracuse. 

That is 100 percent sure.

Theresa Sherry's goal in the second overtime gave Princeton an 8-7 win over Virginia in the NCAA championship game Sunday to give the Tigers a second-straight title. To accomplish this, Princeton had to:

* defeat two of the four teams it lost to during the regular season

* win the tournament as an unseeded team

* defeat the No.1 seed in the semifinals

* defeat the No. 3 seed in the final

* rally from a 3-0 deficit in the championship game

* find a way to get the ball back and then tie the game in the final two minutes of regulation of the championship game

* win it in overtime

And really, none of those things even scratches the surface of the surreal environment in the Carrier Dome Friday night, when it was Princeton against top seed Loyola in the semifinals. Loyola had defeated Princeton 9-8 in March at Class of 1952 Stadium, but the rematch was about so much more than just figuring out a physical way to defeat the Greyhounds.

No, this was more emotional than anything else. And if what was going on didn't tug at your emotions, well, then that's on you. 

The phrase "life and death" is often thrown around in sports. This time it applied in the literal sense. 

Loyola head coach Diane Geppi-Aikens brought her team to Syracuse knowing full way that she does not have much time left to live. Geppi-Aikens had fought through brain cancer for nine years, but she got the news last December that it was now back and inoperable.

Not to be deterred, she continued to coach her team every day, and her team was ranked No. 1 heading into the semifinals. In April, she wrote a gripping piece in Sports Illustrated entitled "No Time To Die," which included this:

Doctors told me in January that I might have only a few months left. I have two goals: getting to the Final Four and to my oldest son Michael's high school graduation, both in May. How do I face each
day? I wake up to the sound of my kids cranking up the stereo. Then they run into my room to sing and dance around my bed. I try to be as positive as humanly possible and thank God for one more day with people I love. As I tell my players, you can find inspiration no matter what you're up against.

It was against this backdrop that Princeton had to play. That could not possibly have been easy. In fact, TigerBlog will go as far as to say that he's never seen a Princeton team in any sport who had to face anything like that.

Chris Sailer is Princeton's head coach. She and Geppi-Aikens are close, as is everyone in the women's lacrosse community, and Sailer - herself the kind of coach you'd love your own daughter to have a chance to play for - had to guide her team with the proper respect and empathy for the situation while also staying focused on the fact that the best way to show respect would be to compete its hardest.

And that's what Princeton did. 

The Loyola game was a grind-it-out contest, one that Princeton took 5-3. The key was draw controls, as Princeton won eight of 10 draws and subsequently outshot Loyola 19-7.

The win put Princeton into the final against UVa, who had taken out the Tigers 13-8 seven days after the loss to Loyola in March. This one looked like it would be more of the same when it started out 3-0 Cavs, but Princeton fought back.

Keeping it close and winning it were two different things, though. The Tigers still trailed 7-6 with two minutes to play and Virginia in possession when Alex Fiore made the biggest play of the weekend, with a strip that led to a turnover.

The Tigers didn't waste it, as Whitney Miller tied the game with 1:39 to play, on an assist from Lindsey Biles. That led to the overtime (two three-minute periods), and that led to Sherry's goal, which Princeton then made stand up. 

In doing so, it was championship No. 3 for the women's lacrosse team, and the second in a row.

The 2002 team went 19-1, losing its opener and running through the rest of the season basically unchallenged. In fact, the Tigers outscored their two Final Four opponents by a combined 26-9 last year.

This year? This required a whole different level of toughness, and it ran the spectrum of emotions, including a large dose of empathy for a courageous woman whose inspiration will resonate in the sport forever.

Note - Diane Geppi-Aikens died on June 29, 2003, a little more than one month after the NCAA tournament ended. She did get to see her son's graduation. TigerBlog never met her, but he knows many people who did know her and who consider her one of the strongest and most inspirational people they have ever met. You can read her entire SI piece HERE.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Majoring In Sports

So if you owned a racehorse, what would you name it? 

This past Saturday evening, TigerBlog noticed that it was almost post time for the Kentucky Derby. Who knew?

The Kentucky Derby is usually held on the first Saturday in May. This was the first Saturday in September.

That May date had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the race organizers were determined that there would be a Kentucky Derby in 2020, just as there had been for each of the 144 years prior, uninterrupted by things like world wars, the Great Depression, other pandemics or anything else. 

The race Saturday was won by a horse named "Authentic," which is a pretty good name for a horse. He seemed like a pretty genuine horse. 

There are rules about what you're allowed to name a racehorse. For one thing, all names have to be approved by the Jockey Club. For another, they can't be more than 18 letters long.

Also, if you want to name your horse after a live person, that person has to approve of it in writing. There are other rules, like you can't include the name of a racetrack or have any horse-related term.

You can also change your horses name until it's actually run in a race.

Besides that, it's pretty open to creativity. So again, what would you name your horse?

TigerBlog would name his, well, TigerBlog. That would be a great name for a racehorse.

The first winner of the first Kentucky Derby, back in 1875, was named Aristedes. The 1882 winner was the coolest winner - Fonso. The 1947 winner was named Jet Pilot, winning in the same year that Chuck Yeager would break the sound barrier. 

The 1968 winner was Forward Pass. A year later, Princeton scrapped the single-wing for the T-formation, with its first pro-style quarterback.

Speaking of pro-style, there are a lot of people out there whose view of college athletics is simply that of Power Five football and basketball, with some "other" stuff out there as well. To them, college athletics are a money-making venture, and those who drive it are divided into two camps - the coaches who make tons of money and the players who make none. Out of that has come the debate over paying athletes, usually by those who don't have a strong sense or interest in the Title IX applications, among other issues of fairness or equity.

TB, by the way, is not taking a side on the issue. He's just saying that his experience suggests this is the case.

In reality, college athletics are played by several hundred thousand athletes a year, and as the commercial used to say, most are "going pro in something other than sports."

TigerBlog read the column by Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post the other day entitled "Colleges Should Offer A Major In Sports." You can read it HERE.

It's a fascinating concept, right? The basic point is that the dynamics that go along with being an elite level college athlete go hand-in-hand with the ideals of scholarship in its most fundamental form. The lessons learned through intercollegiate competition are not extra-curricular but co-curricular, and the coaches who are leading these teams are in fact teachers, with the playing fields an extension of the classroom.

Sound familiar?

It should if you're a Princeton fan. It's the entire concept of "Education Through Athletics."

It shouldn't be a surprise then that two of the people quoted in the column are Princeton men's basketball alums. One is Drew Hyland, a 1961 Princeton grad and longtime philosophy professor at Trinity who coined the phrase "the sweatiest of the liberal arts," a phrase often repeated by the other Princetonian Jenkins quotes, Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus Gary Walters.

In fact, TigerBlog has heard Gary often through the years talk about the idea of athletics as an academic venture (Gary makes a clear distinction between "academic" and "educational," with each having its own value). The column that Jenkins wrote very much aligns with Gary's beliefs.

There are issues, of course, with the idea of a major in sports. Most of those, TB would guess, would be more about perception than the actual educational worth of such study. Also, there's the unfortunate realty that not all coaches would view themselves as teachers, so oversight would be pretty important.

Of course, the pandemic has done more than just change the Kentucky Derby from May to September. Among other things, it's opened up a lot of questions about big-time college athletics, the salaries involved, the incredible amounts of money that fund facilities and luxuries. And about the college athletics landscape in general, as several schools have already been forced to drop programs.

Hey, anything that focuses the conversation on the educational value of college athletics can't be bad.

Education Through Athletics isn't just a slogan that originated at Princeton. It's a real thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Transactions

TigerBlog was doing laps on his bike yesterday.

With each go-round, he passed by a man who looked to be around his age who was wearing a hat that said "Penn" across the front. On the third lap, TB stopped and asked him if he had attended Penn.

Maybe they were classmates?

Nope. He didn't go to Penn. His wife teaches at Penn. Nobody in the family went to Penn.

TB then explained that he had gone to Penn. The man simply said something like "that's nice" and TB pedaled away. 

Now, if the situation had been reversed, then TB would have, 1,000 times out of 1,000 not responded with "nice." 

Why? Because TB was wearing a "Princeton football" t-shirt, "Princeton lacrosse shorts" and orange and black socks. Had this been the other way around, and TB rode past someone wearing Penn stuff head to toe who said he or she had actually gone to Princeton, then TB would have without missing a beat said something along the lines of "why are you wearing the stuff of one of the biggest rivals then?"

Instead, TB got "very nice." Where's the curiosity?

TB would have been really confused and would have needed to know why. It would be like seeing someone who said they went to Duke who was wearing North Carolina stuff, right? 

It was a nice Penn hat, by the way. As TB has said before, he has absolutely nothing with the name of his alma mater on it other than a diploma. 

No hats. No shirts. No shorts. Nothing. 

Would he ever wear anything that said Penn? Nah. 

He does have stuff from four other colleges: Sacred Heart, Purdue, Navy and Louisiana.

He used to have a great hat from the University of Washington, but TigerBlog Jr. swiped it one day. Worse, he wears it backwards.

Oh well.

Speaking of Princeton football, this was a big weekend for the Princeton alums who had spent the summer in NFL camps. There were five of them, and they found out over this weekend what the first and last round of cuts would be as the league approaches its opening games this week and weekend.

Stephen Carlson made the Cleveland Brown 53-man active roster. Carlson, a second-year player, is one of four Browns' tight ends. Originally the team kept five before releasing one Sunday, and TB saw a great quote from Kevin Stefanski, the Cleveland head coach, who said the point was to keep the 53 best players.

Carlson was never a first-team All-Ivy League selection at Princeton, largely because he played opposite Jesper Horsted as the Tiger wide receivers. Carlson still finished his career third in career TD receptions (and eighth in receiving yards and 10th in receptions), but the fact that Horsted is first, second and first in those categories left Carlson a little underrated.

Still, he's just one of those players you can't help but want on your team. That was clear at Princeton, and so far it's clear with the Cleveland Browns.

A year ago, Carlson spent more than half the season on the practice squad, but he was activated and did make his first career TD reception. Now he looks like he'll have more chances this year.

Horsted, who also had a TD reception a year ago, was originally cut Saturday by the Bears and then immediately brought back to the practice squad. The same was true with two-time Bushnell Cup winner John Lovett, who was cut by Green Bay and then added to the practice squad.

Caraun Reid, who has two career NFL touchdowns as a defensive lineman, was cut by Jacksonville and then added to the practice squad as well. The rules for the practice squad have changed, allowing veterans like Reid to be on them. Also, two practice squad players can be activated each week and then returned to the practice squad without have to be released and opened up to a waiver claim.

The only Princeton player who was in a camp who is not as of now on a practice squad is Kevin Davidson, who was with Carlson in Cleveland this summer. Maybe he'll get another chance. Maybe not.

Either way, Davidson's loyalty to the program and his record-setting senior year give him a special legacy with Princeton football.

Opening day in the NFL is Thursday night with Houston at Kansas City. The rest of the league gets started over the weekend.

Once again, Princeton will be well-represented.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Going Back - Way Back

This is the third installment of the "Going Back" series, where TigerBlog is writing the blog he would have written had it existed when these games were played.

That means prior to 2009, when he started doing this every day.

For the first two, he didn't have to back all that far, first to 1996 (NCAA men's basketball against UCLA) and then 2004 (women's soccer against Harvard). Those games were games he attended.

Today, he's going back to a game that he was not at; in fact, he was not even born when this one was played. Actually, it was nearly 100 years until he would be born when this one was played.

He's wondered if he would write these as if he had been at the game, and he thinks he will, at least for this one. He'll try at least.

With that, here's what TigerBlog would have been on Monday, Nov. 8, 1869:

TigerBlog decided to take the train to New Brunswick Saturday afternoon to see what all the fuss was about.

A challenge had been thrown down to the College of New Jersey by the men of Rutgers College for a game of what they're calling "football." It had been played unofficially in Princeton for years as a release from the tedium of endless studying, with very little else on campus for a distraction.

Actually, even the people playing the game had no idea what it was and what the rules were. This was largely due to the fact that there were no actual rules.

It wasn't the football that was being played in England, where touching the ball was strictly forbidden. It also wasn't the other game being played with a ball in England, the one that started in the town of Rugby, in which carrying the ball wasn't just legal, it was the whole point.

The students at the College of New Jersey didn't care about the rules. They just loved to have something physical to do beyond simply going for long walks, or, for those who could afford it, horseback riding.

It was a far cry from before the war, when all such outdoor activities were prohibited on campus. And if they weren't exactly approved of by the administration now, at least they were tolerated.

Besides, it was all an extension of the Greek ideal of the healthy mind and the healthy body. And clearly, it fomented a school spirit that had been lacking.

And so it was only a matter of time until the team from TCNJ played a team from another school. And that time came this past Saturday.

It was a rainy morning, which led to a sloppy field in New Brunswick, but the weather dried as the day went along. By the time the game started at 3, TB was on the sidelines, along with a few dozen others, curious as to what he would see.

And what exactly was it that the teams played?

If nothing else, it was confusing. The goal was, well, to score goals. The teams agreed to a set of rules beforehand, including that the game would be played until there were 10 goals scored. Whoever had more would be the winner.

In the end, that would be the Rutgers College team, who scored six to Princeton's four. 

That was the only clear part of the day.

The game was incredibly violent, that's for sure, as full contact was permitted. There were 25 men on each side, which made for too crowded a field. 

No man was allowed to possess the ball with his hands, but it could be touched and even batted forward. TCNJ had more size than Rutgers and was much more physical, but Rutgers had a much better strategy for spreading its men out on the wings and for advancing the ball up the field.

In the end, it was a Rutgers win, followed by cordial handshakes and greetings and even a meal for the two teams with some singing by both sides. There was also the promise for a rematch back in Princeton this coming weekend.

Is there a future for this game? 

Maybe.

If there is, it has to figure out what it's trying to be. Does it want to be English football or rugby? 

It also needs fewer players. And a ball that isn't exactly the same as the English football one. 

There was no denying the spectacle of the day. It's certainly not a game for the weak or men who lack the courage to play it. 

Perhaps that alone can make this into something that sticks.

TB would like to think that what he saw Saturday in New Brunswick wasn't a one-time thing. He'd like to think that this game could catch on.

Maybe he'll be right about this one.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Football Talk

Were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton's fall sports would have already begun with women's soccer this past weekend, and most of the rest of the fall would have been getting ready to get started with events this weekend.

The football team wouldn't have been playing for two more weeks, when the Tigers had been scheduled to be at VMI.

This means that the team would be well on its way through preseason practices for what figured to be a serious run at a fourth Ivy League championship in eight years. 

A key piece of that run was going to be linebacker Jeremiah Tyler, a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection last year and a finalist for the Bushnell Cup for the league' Defensive Player of the Year. Tyler is an explosive, game-changing player, and his defining characteristics are his intensity, his enthusiasm and his ever-present smile.

Tyler in many ways encompasses exactly what Bob Surace has wanted to build with Princeton football. He has the talent to be a potential NFL player, and he has the team-first mentality to build a winning culture at Princeton.

It's hard to watch Tyler play and not be impressed. He never stops, never slows down. He's in constant pursuit of the ball, and his ability to make big plays is, as TB said, game-changing. 

Plus, he just looks like he's having so much fun doing it. There are players, though not a lot, who combine those two qualities - the ability to dominate the appearance of pure joy while competing.

Tyler's list of honors certainly suggests that TigerBlog is not the only one who has noticed this.

Tyler was named an FCS preseason second-team All-American yesterday. He was one of three Ivy League players named to the preseason teams, and he was the only one of those who plays on the defensive side of the ball.

As TB said, the football team in a normal year would be in practice now. This, being anything but a normal year, means that isn't the case.

Still, it's good to see one of Princeton's best players during this great run the team is on be honored at least.

Princeton football is still represented by five players in NFL camps as opening day for the season approaches. Teams have been carrying 80 players in training camp, instead of the usual 90, and that number needs to be 53 by Saturday at 4.

Practice squads have been expanded from 12 players to 16 for this year, due to the probability of positive COVID tests. There have been no preseason games, which means that players have not had that opportunity to stand out. There have been an increased number of intrasquad scrimmages, which presumably gives a similar chance.

Last year was a big year for Princeton football in the NFL, of course. 

John Lovett, a two-time Bushnell Cup winner as a quarterback who is now something of a fullback/tight end, earned a Super Bowl ring while on injured reserve with the Kansas City Chiefs. He's now in camp with the Green Bay Packers.

Both of Lovett's receivers from the unbeaten 2018 team, Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted, started last year on practice squads (Carlson with the Browns, Horsted with the Bears). Both were activated after the midway point of the season (making them both eligible for the practice squad again this year if it comes to that), and both caught their first NFL touchdown passes.

Horsted's came on Thanksgiving Day against Detroit, which gave him a huge national audience.

Horsted was also a big part of a story in the New York Times Magazine, one with the headline "Can Athletic Intelligence Be Measured?" The subheadline was: "Teams in the N.F.L. and other leagues believe performance on a tablet can predict success in a real game."

You can read the story HERE.

The basic premise is whether or not intelligence data can predict success, beyond just the physical presence that players have. Horsted's experience a year ago is used to suggest that the answer is a resounding "yes."

It's a long story, but it's worth reading. Horsted appears in a few places in the story, including the very beginning and the very end. In fact, the very last word of the story is "Horsted."

That certainly has your attention, right?