Can the 2016 NFL Season Start Already?

I’ve never been the biggest NFL fan. Please, don’t mistake me for thinking it’s not an enjoyable sport to watch, it is. It’s fast-paced. It can be brutal. (Rules changes over the years have made it a softer game than it used to be.) The story lines in-season and now in the off-season, mostly negative, keep the intrigue surrounding the league constant throughout the year.

Maybe that’s why more than ever I’m so stoked for the newest season to get underway. I’m a New England Patriots fan; I have been ever since they won Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32-29, against the Carolina Panthers. (That story is best left for another post.) So I follow the team’s goings on and watch as many of their games as I can.

I've been a Patriots fan since I was in the fourth grade. (Photo taken by Chip Griffin)

I’ve been a Patriots fan since I was in the fourth grade. (Photo taken by Chip Griffin)

However, as the 2016 season approaches I’ve found myself reading up on and learning more about a sport I really haven’t cared much for outside from my Tom Brady bias. Yes, I supported him, and still do, in the year-long plus Deflategate “scandal.”

I find myself interested in how the season will turnout for all the other teams in the league. I didn’t have much wondering why to do because I actually know why: reading “The MMQB” on a nearly daily basis.

The site is my go-to for anything dealing with the NFL and I’ve been urging my dad, who’s a die-hard New York Giants fan, to check it out. I extend that same sentiment to you who are taking the time to read this. Besides Peter King, the MMQB has added to its team for the upcoming season veteran writers Albert Breer and Tim Rohan. Jenny Vrentas is also someone to make sure mentioning, even though she isn’t new to the site; her work is always a must-read.

If you follow my me anywhere, you know I love to read and the MMQB is yet another worthwhile suggestion I’m more than happy to pass along.

Become a Werd Nerd 

I love to read. I read “The Wall Street Journal” everyday. And I read whatever links to various articles that pique my interest while scrolling through my Twitter timeline.

Notice something? I didn’t mention that I love to read books. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t; I simply find the task of reading a book daunting, as opposed to reading a quick newspaper clipping.

I have the tendency, and I’m sure many people share the same sentiment, to start reading a book and not even come close to a quarter of the way through before giving up. So I’ve been looking for a solution to my small problem, and it came in the form of a post I saw and read on “The MMQB” written by none other than guest writer Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts quarterback

Behind the Face Mask: Andrew Luck Thinks Reading is Fun!

After reading a professional QB in the NFL, in Luck, is so into the hobbie that he started a free book club to not only give himself an incentive but also to others. I’ve been thinking to myself why don’t I do the same? *drum roll*

Wait for it.

I’m starting my very own book club. I’m calling it the “Werd Nerd Book Club,” if you have better suggestions for a name @ me on Twitter @werdynerdy or leave your comments below.

Each month going forward, I’ll select one book per month to read. During the last week of the month, I’ll write a review or some kind of post on whatever the title in question is. As with the name of the club, book selections are also open to outside help, so reach out to me for what book you’d like me to read next month.

Without further adieu, August’s book is…

(Random House)

Baseball Rat: Being Mature, Versatile for the Love of the Game

On April 19 at 10:48 a.m., Michael Pfenninger, Manhattan Jaspers starting infielder, tweeted this:

It’s such a mature message being posted by a 20-year-old. And for those who don’t know Pfenninger, they probably would be taken aback by it, especially in the 20th century. When asked about the tweet, Pffenninger said there’s actually a story behind it.

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(Courtesy: Kevin Fuhrmann)

Coach of a Lifetime

Manhattan Jaspers fans think they know Steve Masiello, their head men’s basketball coach but they don’t. They only see the side of him that’s very intense; driven; and a passionate for his program; players; and winning whenever there’s a home game in Draddy Gymnasium or any place there’s a road game.

There’s another side of him that not many people have the privilege to see and experience. The one that Kevin Willard, Seton Hall Pirates head men’s basketball coach, calls “a very loyal friend” from their time together when they were both assistants for the Louisville Cardinals from ’05, when Masiello arrived, to ’07, when Willard went on to coach the Iona Gaels for three years.

Steve Masiello is much more than a great coach; he’s also a great person. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Fuhrmann)

“I don’t think a lot of people get to know Stevie. It’s Stevie Mas; it’s not Steve Masiello,” Willard said. “Stevie’s very laid-back, easygoing, has great sense of humor and has a great wit about him. I’ve been lucky to get to know both sides of him.”

Masiello’s personality didn’t derive from coaching, at least not all of it. It came from someplace much more personal, someone close to him. A person he definitively labeled his “best friend.”

His dad: Stephen Masiello Sr.

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Jaspers Must Pitch, Defend, Stay Healthy to Win MAAC Title

“The Pennant Will Rise” was the phrase etched onto t-shirts and hoodies for the Mets’ being crowned National League Champions. For the marathon season ahead, Jim Duffy, Manhattan Jaspers baseball head coach, said “Pitching, Defense and Staying Healthy” is what’s going to earn his team’s way to success in ’16.

Thirty-three games in, the Jaspers find themselves tied with the Rider Broncs for the eighth seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 11 wins and 22 losses. Their longest winning streak of three straight games came between March 22 and March 26, not enough to counter losing five straight in three separate parts of the schedule: (1) Feb. 28 – March 8, (2) March 13 – March 19, (3) April 2 – April 9.

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BREAKING: Jaspers extend Masiello

Well, this will eliminate some of the potential noise which was forthcoming about whether or not Steve Masiello, head Manhattan Jaspers men’s basketball coach, would remain with the school.

In an official announcement, Manhattan and Masiello have agreed to a four-year contract extension.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman at 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

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Jaspers ‘have Much More of a Chip on our Shoulder’

Last year for the Manhattan Jaspers was the third season in a row that they failed to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. The back-to-back championship teams of ’11 and ’12 are moving further and further away, especially now that only one player from the latter year remains: Michael Scarinci.

What made ’14 sting even more is the fact that they didn’t even qualify for the tournament.

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Personality Makes Talent Standout that Much More: Thomas Capuano

When Thomas Capuano was a kid, his passion for basketball was quite obvious to his mom, Janet.

“Anything you’re worried about. Any stress in your life, it’s just gone,” Thomas said when asked about how basketball makes him feel. “You just have to focus on one goal and you use your teammates to achieve that.”

He was always in the gym. He’d attend every practice he had to go to and then to any other practice other teams held. Any opportunity he had to be around the game, he’d take it, even if it was sitting in on other teams’ practices. There was no limit and he just wanted to do it. All of it, Janet recalled.

"Shows his determination at such a young age," Capuano's mom said in an email. He's seen playing with his first Amateur Athletic Union team en route to winning the third grade D2 Nationals. (Courtesy: Janet Capuano.)

“Shows his determination at such a young age,” Capuano’s mom said in an email. He’s seen playing with his Amateur Athletic Union first team en route to winning the third grade D2 Nationals. (Photo courtesy of Janet Capuano.)

“It was that discipline that is a big part to getting to where he is today,” she said.

“No one has seen Tom play more than I have since the third grade,” Capuano’s mom added. “I understand it’s biased coming from his mom but I’ve always known what he’s capable of and believed in him 1,000 percent that he could play at [the Division I] level and succeed at that level. He has always had to prove himself, he was the underdog a lot of the way, just in terms of his height — [ 5 feet 11 inches].”

From Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) through college, almost everyone who knows Capuano well describes him as tough; a grinder; determined; a hard-worker; hard-nosed; blue-collar. The list can go on.

If someone told him he had to work on his strength, for example, he’d do push-ups and sit-ups before bed without fail. And if he forgot to do them one night, he would get up when he remembered. When he has a goal he goes for it, his mom remembered.

“He’s the toughest mentally, physically that I’ve ever had as a coach,” Chris Ward, Capuano’s former AAU Spartans head coach, said, “and I’ve been coaching for 28 years. He’s got a special quality, charisma.”

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‘It was our best win of the year,’ Masiello says of win over Quinnipiac

Manhattan College didn’t look like itself in the first-half of its eventual classic Steve Masiello style, 84-77, win over Quinnipiac University. And all it took was a 15-minute halftime cooldown in addition to a pep-talk from Masiello.

“I said, ‘Let me tell you how this is going to go.’ (We spoke about faith and the process.),” Masiello said. “‘Believe in it. Just believe in it. Believe in what’s ahead. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen, how it happened– just know if you do what you’re supposed to do things will happen. There’s no way we’re not going to continue to not have a run, shoot the ball this bad. Good things will happen just stay with it.’”

Well, Manhattan’s win, obviously, didn’t solely rely on Masiello because then it could pretty much say goodbye to its chances at winning a third consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. It also had the offensive punch from Sha– Zane Waterman (19 points, 11 rebounds); ESPN 3 Pepsi Player of the Game, Calvin Crawford (18 points, five rebounds, three blocks); Rich Williams (18 points, five rebounds, two blocks); and RaShawn Stores (15 points, three rebounds, six assists).

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“I’m getting more comfortable with playing with these guys, knowing my role better– coach is emphasizing with me rebounding, that’s all I got to do,” Waterman said. “The points will come.”

“It was fun. The only word I can think of, and I know we keep saying it, but rebound; rebound,” Crawford said, “because [Quinnipiac] is crazy on the glass. All I was saying to myself, self-talk was rebound, rebound, and good things will happen from there.”

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Take a Look at these Jaspers Now

Talent, scoring ability, athleticism, dangerous, combination of perimeter and inside players. That’s the way Jenny Palmateer, Monmouth women’s head basketball coach, talked about Manhattan College.

Clichés are always a no-no whenever writing journalism but this one in particular perfectly describes the last year for Manhattan: “What a difference a year makes…” No, really. For the entire 30 game schedule in ‘14-‘15, it only managed to come away with three wins. Three wins.

“Last year, we were a very young and inexperienced basketball team,” John Olenowski, Manhattan head women’s basketball coach, said.

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