Month: April 2014

Training Day (2001)

training_day“The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed is the cop who will cross it.”

Note: it is impossible to write a review of this film without mentioning that it is set within a 24-hour time period, hence the title “Training Day.”

 

Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is a young, fresh-faced rookie cop with a beautiful wife and an infant daughter. He is ready to face his first day on the force with confidence, helping rid the streets of L.A. from dangerous drugs, but it might not be as easy as it seems.

Jake meets with his new boss, a well-regarded, charismatic narcotics detective named Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Alonzo is street-smart and is well-decorated in his line of undercover work. We can tell right away that Jake is gonna learn from one of the best in the business.

Right away, Alonzo tells Jake to “unlearn all that bulls*it they teach you at the police academy.” He emphasizes the nature and danger of the work that they’re doing, as they plunge into the slums and ghettos of Los Angeles in Alonzo’s souped-up ride.

 

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Alonzo uses his knowledge of the streets to his advantage and is unafraid of dealing out street justice to the criminals he apprehends. Jake is unnerved by Alonzo’s frequently brutal methods, but is reluctant to say anything, because he desires to impress Alonzo with his willingness to learn. Alonzo, in turn, manipulates Jake into doing things that he is uncomfortable doing. As the day rolls on, Jake must make a choice – should he follow Alonzo’s example and compromise his standards, or should he go with the flow and deliver street justice to the corners?

 

Denzel Washington delivers an Academy Award-winning performance in Training Day, a smash-hit movie directed by Antoine Fuqua. The script, which features amazing characters and authentic dialogue, was penned by David Ayer in the early 90s, in the aftermath of the infamous beating of Rodney King and the ensuing L.A. riots. Unlike many screenwriters, Ayer wrote every word of the script himself; surprisingly, he did not win any major awards for his work.

Fuqua desired to make Training Day as gritty and realistic as possible, casting hip-hop stars Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Macy Gray in supporting roles and filming in some of the roughest, most dangerous ghettos in the city (most notably Baldwin Village). There are even real-life members of the Bloods and Crips who are featured as extras in some of the movie’s most pivotal scenes; Fuqua even brought in a man named Cle Shaheed Sloan to be the “gang technical advisor.” Two real-life police officers, Michael Patterson and Paul Lozada, helped make the film realistic from the police perspective as well, and both Hawke and Washington met with real cops in order to understand their roles better.

The film also features veteran actors Tom Berenger, Scott Glenn, and Cliff Curtis, as well as Hispanic starlet Eva Mendes in one of her first big roles.

Training Day was one of the biggest hits of the year, grossing $104 million worldwide and earning a 72% rating on critic website Rotten Tomatoes. Washington, who later claimed that Alonzo Harris was his favorite character to ever play onscreen, is outstanding in this role. He’s both incredibly charming and deeply sinister, and it was basically the first time Washington had played such a twisted character. I love almost all of Washington’s movies, so it’s a treat to see him bring this character to life.

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Ethan Hawke, meanwhile, was somewhat of a wild card in the film. Reportedly, his schedule was very busy at the time of shooting, and the role nearly went to Tobey Maguire, but Hawke changed his plans and came away with the role. He ended up getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars (he lost to Jim Broadbent for Iris). Hawke has an innocence to him, and is excellent in the role of the opportunistic Jake Hoyt. Right away in the film, we are drawn to both the naivete of Jake and the swagger of Alonzo. The two actors have amazing chemistry and it’s a privilege to see them as the unlikely partners that they are. Obviously, we’ve seen many buddy-cop movies before, but that isn’t the theme of this movie. At the time, such an intense, well-written crime drama was rare in Hollywood, especially one featuring such gifted actors.

While this movie has a great moral message to it and a clear-as-crystal message of right vs. wrong, there is some serious adult content here. As you might expect in a crime drama set on the streets, there’s a LOT of profanity and some notable drug content. As for violence, there isn’t a lot of blood, but the violence that is shown onscreen is very intense and brutal in nature. There’s also a brief shot of female nudity in one scene during the latter half of the movie, and some occasional sexual references.

I love this movie. It’s one of my favorite crime films ever. I hope you’ll consider watching it too, if you haven’t already.

 

Rating: 9.5/10

Released 2001

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Written by David Ayer

Produced by Jeffrey Silver and David Ayer

Starring Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Raymond Berry, Harris Yulin, Tom Berenger, Eva Mendes, Cliff Curtis, Raymond Cruz, and featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Macy Gray

Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief nudity.

On we march…

So I promised I would put in my two cents regarding the Aggie quarterback contestants, so here we go. Spring practice is over, and the incoming candidates will arrive in July for school and the summer strength and conditioning program.

Coach Martin and Coach Brandon presumably aren’t gonna pull the trigger on a starter at quarterback until late August before the season opener. Keep in mind that all six QBs have never taken an NCAA snap. The fact that Rogers went through spring practice is huge, creating fewer uncertainties at the position, but this is still very much an open competition.

Let’s look at them all, side-by-side:

Pros:

  • Tyler Rogers – The most experienced QB, Rogers has a strong arm and is very accurate (66% completion). Rogers runs a 4.6 and can grind out tough yards. He threw 14 TDs vs. seven picks last season, his lone year with the Arizona Western Matadors.
  • Nick Jeanty – NMSU’s highest-rated overall recruit, Jeanty hails from Miramar, Florida. Had a 72% completion rate in 2013, and threw no interceptions in 152 attempts. Helped the Patriots finish the season ranked 13th in the state, and rejected numerous other offers (Ohio, UCF, Western Kentucky, and Utah State, among others) in order to come to Las Cruces. Throws a beautiful ball and makes great decisions. Team player who is coachable, meshes well with others and is respected by his teammates.
  • Andrew Allen – Committed all the way back in June. Has good size (6’1”, 200) and is a serious running threat. Played for one of the best programs in metro Houston, and is one of the fastest QB recruits that the Aggies got (4.5 in 40). Has great escapability and can scramble when the pocket breaks down, but also has excellent arm strength.
  • Jalen Jones – Was a one-year starter for the South River Seahawks in the Annapolis area. Similar to Allen in terms of his athleticism, scrambling ability, and football IQ. A freak of an athlete (4.46 in the 40), a hard worker and a solid student. Played against solid competition in Maryland and was named honorable mention all-state in 2013. Jones was pursued by the Aggies due to a nice connection – Coach Brandon is an old friend of Jones’s high school coach, Lance Clelland.
  • Nate Grimm – A proven winner who went 25-4 in two years as a starter at Cedar Park High in central Texas. He’s from a similar standpoint as Rogers in terms of his quick release, arm strength, and agility outside the pocket. Got a lot of respect from teammates and opposing players when he played injured during the district title game as a junior. Grimm is every bit of 6’4”, 200 pounds, and has very little bad weight. The weight room will do wonders for this kid!
  • Cassius Corley – The lone New Mexico product, Corley also committed in late June. He went to a number of combines during his high school career and was also tutored by former Heisman winner Ty Detmer. He runs a 4.5 in the 40 and is a great leader on and off the field. He’s very smart and athletic and is the son of former BYU tailback Stacy Corley. He was also a state runner-up in track and field, and was named senior class president.

Cons:

  • Rogers needs to stay healthy and deliver the ball to his playmakers. Coach Martin can’t stop talking about this kid, so he needs to deliver. It’s always difficult for a player to limit his turnovers when he adjusts to the NCAA level, but Rogers is a sharp guy and he’ll learn quickly. That, in my opinion, makes him the frontrunner.
  • Allen could afford to cut down on his interceptions (10) and improve his accuracy (48%). I believe that the quality of coaching at NMSU will be hugely beneficial to him, however.
  • Jones has a tendency to force throws and make risky decisions in the pocket. He’s also the most inexperienced of any of the six candidates, starting less than 15 games in his prep career.
  • Grimm is somewhat of an unknown in this quarterback battle. He’s the biggest of the six (6’4”, 200) and clearly knows how to win, but lacks elite speed and needs more zip on his passes.
  • Corley will clearly face the biggest jump in competition. He played for a lousy team at Grants (2-8, 1-4 in the district) and was basically their only real offensive threat. He has the talent and the bloodlines; he just needs to show that he can succeed at the Division 1 level.
  • Jeanty is fast and has athletic gifts, but it remains to be seen how he adapts to the speed of the NCAA. Jeanty (an immensely talented kid on paper) can do well in Coach Brandon’s spread offense; he just needs to translate his gifts to the Division 1 level.

 

In my opinion, Rogers will be the starter on August 28th against Cal Poly, but don’t be at all surprised if he gets replaced by one of the freshmen halfway through the season. I like Rogers a lot and I think he has potential to be a star for us, but it all depends on his consistency. After all, that was the main issue in 2013 – the Aggies had some talent at QB, but neither player (Andrew McDonald or King Davis) was consistent or durable enough to make plays. We need someone who can deliver the right throws, stay calm in the pocket, and make plays with his feet. Thankfully, we have more than enough candidates.

Easter, 2014

So yesterday was Easter Sunday, and the faithful all around the world are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know that I have been rescued from certain death by Jesus, but I’m not here to preach or stand on a soapbox. Instead, I’m writing to express how immeasurably blessed I am.

We all know how baseball great Lou Gehrig was tragically afflicted with ALS. The disease ended his professional career and eventually, his life. But Gehrig was very grateful for the chance to play the game he loved for as long as he did, and to be surrounded by so many players and fans who cared about him. As any baseball fan can tell you, Gehrig famously remarked at his retirement speech that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth” and that even though his prognosis was grim, he had an awful lot to live for.

I can’t help but feel lucky, like Gehrig did on that June afternoon at Yankee Stadium. I’m almost 20 years old. As I’ve grown up, I have lived, loved, laughed, and lost. But throughout my life, I have been continually blessed, both  by the quality of friends and family that I have, and by God. My family has never been the closest, so my friends are my second family.

Throughout life, especially when you’re in college, you learn who your true friends are. You learn to accept people for who they are and embrace the struggle of living life in uncertain times. Frankly, when you’re in college, a lot of things – your career, grades, and social life – can be up in the air. It’s refreshing (and vital) to have a group of people that love and support you. Not fair-weather friends – real, genuine, relationships. I’m extremely lucky to have many guys and girls who support my goals and dreams, and in return, I strive to be the best person I can be and inspire my friends to be good people.

And it’s not a one-way street, either. As much as I try to bless others, I have been blessed a TON by my friends as well.

One person that I have been amazed by is my good friend Carla (not her real name). She’s in her early 30s, has three associate’s degrees, and is from a terrific, God-fearing family. She’s also a single mother to Jose (again, not his real name). I won’t go into graphic detail, but she was forced into raising a child that she did not consent to create. Despite the fact that she has to deal with custody battles, court dates, and serious emotional pain, she is always asking me how I’m doing, is never self-absorbed, and has said on more than one occasion that she values my friendship. She’s truly a person with exceptional character.

Another person that I’ve greatly appreciated is Anthony, my good friend from Lynchburg who now lives in Pennsylvania. He’s an atheist, and I’m a Christian, but we still enjoy each other’s company and always manage to have great conversations. Obviously, we haven’t always agreed on everything, but we’re happy to be friends and I always like hanging out with him.

There’s so many other people I could list, all around the country, who are amazing people and have helped me in many ways. I hope that you know who you are and that you are equally blessed by me as I am by you!

Spring game recap

The Crimson team (offense) defeated the White team (defense) by a score of 53-46 in the Aggies’ annual spring game on Saturday.

It’s always a fun time supporting the Aggies on the gridiron; I’m friends with numerous players and I’ve gotten to know head coach Doug Martin pretty well too. There were nothing but positive vibes at Aggie Memorial on Saturday night; these players are working hard and getting ready to make an impact in the fall as we enter the Sun Belt.

The Aggie defense came out strong in the first quarter, forcing three straight three-and-outs. But the offense didn’t quit, and sophomore quarterback Tyler Rogers led the Crimson squad on several nice drives that resulted in points.

As the offense got the ball rolling, the defense made some key stops too. I especially liked the effort from our linebackers – Isaac Leon, Dalton Rocha, Samuel Oyenuga, Rodney Butler, Tre Wilcoxen, and Dior Moore. Moore and Butler, in particular, made some nice tackles late on the evening. None of these guys are big, but they’re fast and strong, and that’s what we’re looking for.

Our secondary hasn’t been very consistent and needs to cut down on penalties, but they’re being coached well and the talent is there for a breakthrough in fall camp. I liked what I saw from Jalen Warfield, a walk-on freshman who’s ultra athletic, and Winston Rose, who has bounced back nicely from a shoulder injury. The unit recorded two interceptions on the day – one from sophomore safety Kawe Johnson and a highlight-reel pick from junior Kedeem Thomas-Davis.

The front seven made some nice stops along the way. Defensive end Clint Barnard had a couple tackles for loss and a fumble recovery, and fellow senior Mason Russell also made a couple nice stops. 

On offense, the receivers looked solid overall, although there were a few dropped passes on the day. Senior Jordan Bergstrom and junior Joshua Bowen made some key grabs throughout the evening, and sophomore Teldrick Morgan continues to impress, catching a 26-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter. Seniors Adam Shapiro and Jerrel Brown were consistent contributors, and I also liked what I saw from Gregory Hogan.

The running game looks to be in better shape than I thought. Entering spring practice, with the status of starter Brandon Betancourt unclear due to injury, there was some question as to who would step up and answer the call for our offense. I’m happy to report that Xavier Hall, Terrence Yelder, and Marquette Washington are all running well and thriving in the play-action passing game.

Hall and Yelder are speed threats out of the backfield, while Washington is a thickly-built power runner at 5’10”, 215 pounds. Hall is a Las Cruces native who performed admirably in 2013, while Yelder is a sophomore transfer from an NAIA school, Dickinson State. Washington, meanwhile, was a decorated high school standout in Fontana, California who redshirted in 2013, his first year on campus.

One kid that I was very impressed with was number 14 on defense, Jaden Wright. I did some research on him and found out that he’s an under-the-radar player from Lewisville, Texas. He was part of the Class of 2013 as a cornerback, but grayshirted last season in order to refine his game and ball skills. Now he’s on campus, and the NMSU staff has moved him to linebacker. He’s not big (6’0”, 185), but he’s physical and tough. By all accounts, Wright has found a place and made a name for himself this spring.

NMSU will open the 2014 season against the Cal Poly Mustangs on Thursday, August 28th, at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

Breaking down the 2014 schedule

Ok, I know I’ve been blogging about NMSU football a lot, but bear with me. I always seem to go through “football withdrawal” during this time of year…
The spring game is this Saturday, April 19th, and I’m excited to see all the hard work that these guys have put in.
It’s worth noting: the first four games will be critical. We need to establish some early momentum against four teams that went a combined 11-37 last season. That’ll set us up well heading into the big money game against LSU.
  • WEEK 1: Cal Poly Mustangs (Home)
primaryCal Poly is no pushover FCS team; they finished 6-6 last year, are led by sixth-year coach Tim Walsh, and play in a VERY competitive Big Sky Conference, which had five nationally ranked FCS teams last year. It’s difficult to judge how this game will turn out; it will be the Aggies’ season opener and will take place on a Thursday night. Schematically, Cal Poly is a run-oriented offense similar to UNM, so this’ll be an early test for our new-look defense.
  • WEEK 2: Georgia State Panthers (Away)
338The conference season starts with the Panthers on the road in Atlanta. Coach Trent Miles went 0-12 in the Panthers’ first season at the FBS level. This year, they are finally out of the NCAA transitional period and can compete for a bowl game for the first time. Miles pulled in a solid recruiting class this year, but don’t expect miracles out of this squad. The Aggies have a good chance to make a statement in their first Sun Belt game.
  • WEEK 3: UTEP Miners (Away)
UTEPMinersIn year two for both Doug Martin and UTEP’s Sean Kugler, the Miners host the Aggies in the Sun Bowl. One would think that the game could go either way – both teams went 2-10 last season and need major improvements on defense – but rivalry games are unpredictable. The Aggie defense will need to be sharp against UTEP’s bruising, ground-and-pound rushing attack.
  • WEEK 4: New Mexico Lobos (Home)
New_Mexico_Lobos_Primary_MarkThis game, which is older than the state of New Mexico itself, needs no introduction. The 104th edition of the Rio Grande Rivalry will be held in Las Cruces in 2014. After getting torched by the Lobos last season in Albuquerque, you can expect the Aggies want payback. The Lobos’ defense was almost as horrendous as ours last season, so if we can simply outscore them, we could win. It’s also worth noting that while Bob Davie is 2-0 against us, he’s 5-18 against everyone else.
  • WEEK 5: LSU Tigers (Away)
lsuThe only “money game” on the docket for 2014. LSU will be nationally ranked and you can expect the atmosphere at Tiger Stadium to be beyond intimidating. Still, it’s not far-fetched to see the Aggies pulling off a solid first half, a la last year’s Texas game.
  • WEEK 6: Georgia Southern Eagles (Home)
georgia_southern_previewNMSU returns to Aggie Memorial on October 4th to take on the Eagles, who are an intriguing team. They shocked the world by beating Florida in the Swamp late last season, and won a total of six national titles at the FCS level, but will face an uphill battle now that they’re playing with the big boys. In addition to the serious jump in competition, Georgia Southern also has a new coach after Jeff Monken bolted for West Point in the offseason. New head man Willie Fritz went 40-14 at Sam Houston State in four years, but now faces a daunting challenge ahead of him bringing the Eagles into the FBS.
  • WEEK 7: Troy Trojans (Away)
TroyLogoIf the Aggies can pull this off, they’ll show the nation that they belong in the Sun Belt. Troy is a solid, well-coached team, but they have been in decline since their last bowl game in 2010. Since then, they’ve compiled a lackluster 14-20 record, including 9-14 in the Sun Belt. There are rumors that long time coach Larry Blakeney might be forced into an early retirement.
  • WEEK 8: Idaho Vandals (Away)
vandalAgain, this game needs no introduction, as we’ve played Idaho every year since the late 70s. After a nice 24-16 win in last year’s season finale at Aggie Memorial, NMSU will head up to Moscow in 2014 to take on the always-familiar Vandals. Second-year coach Paul Petrino is looking to fix things quickly after signing 18 junior college transfers in February, including 11 on defense. Will they make an immediate difference, or will the Aggies’ youth help them prevail? This could also be NMSU’s best chance at a road win in 2014.
FIRST BYE WEEK
  • WEEK 10: Texas State Bobcats (Home)
Bobcat1The Bobcats reached .500 last season in their inaugural Sun Belt season, but were not invited to a bowl game. This team has a lot of speed and runs a similar no-huddle offense, so you can expect a shootout. And you should never underestimate Coach Dennis Franchione.
  • WEEK 11: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (Home)
gI_73715_louisiana_ragin_cajuns_round_babdgeAfter nearly beating the Cajuns in the Bayou last season, the Aggies will get a chance to knock off the reigning conference co-champs right here in Las Cruces. The Cajuns run an up-tempo spread offense and are led by fourth-year head coach Mark Hudspeth, considered by many to be a rising star in the business.
SECOND BYE WEEK
  • WEEK 13: Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (Home)
warhawk-initials-head-250pxThe final home game of the year for the Aggies will be against the Warhawks, who have established themselves as a Sun Belt contender under Coach Todd Berry. They employ multiple schemes on offense, and they recruit a lot of speed from the Deep South. This will be another test for our defense.
  • WEEK 14: Arkansas State Red Wolves (Away)
logoThe 2014 season will conclude with a trip to Jonesboro, Arkansas to take on the Red Wolves, who shared the Sun Belt title with Louisiana-Lafayette in 2013, then defeated Ball State in a hard-fought bowl game. ASU will be playing under their fourth head coach in four years, Blake Anderson (formerly the offensive coordinator at North Carolina), after Bryan Harsin became head man at Boise State.

“My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business”

Dick Van Dyke is a comedic legend. Who can forget his lovable turn as Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins? Or his portrayal of an eccentric inventor in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Or his definitive role as Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show?

There is no doubt that Van Dyke changed the face of comedy in the 20th century and helped establish the sitcom as a viable genre of television. Now well into his 80s, Van Dyke has published a cheery, delightful memoir entitled My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, in which he looks back on nearly five decades in the entertainment industry.41-JyLRaQVL._SS500_

Born in West Plains, Missouri, but raised primarily in Danville, Illinois, Van Dyke had a simple, middle-class childhood in the Midwest. His mother’s side of the family was devoutly religious, and Van Dyke attended vacation Bible school every summer. At age 11, he read through the entire Bible and began a lifelong spiritual journey, even briefly considering a career as a minister. However, after taking a drama class in high school, Van Dyke found his true calling and developed a love for comedy and the performing arts.

Van Dyke worked as an Army Air Corps radio announcer during WWII and, afterwards, as a DJ in Illinois. He learned the ins and outs of the business, but his heart was still in comedy, so he formed a two-man comedy troupe with his good friend Phil Erickson. They traveled around the country performing mime, lip syncs, and standup comedy, eventually making it to California.

These early years in the entertainment industry were far from easy for Van Dyke and his wife Margie, who were living on very little money and trying to raise a young family. Van Dyke and Erickson eventually found their way to Atlanta, a growing city with an emerging comedy scene. There they performed on TV for the first time, doing music and comedy in a show called The Merry Mutes.

Soon, Van Dyke caught the attention of Broadway, and from 1959-1961, he performed in the hit musicals The Girls Against the Boys and Bye Bye Birdie. After winning a Tony for Birdie, Van Dyke moved to New Orleans to work for the local NBC station as an MC of a comedy show. An old Army friend who worked for CBS talked Van Dyke into moving to L.A. to pursue a film and television career.

Despite not being an established name, Van Dyke was offered a seven-year contract by CBS and began his iconic role on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Created by Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard, the show was a smash hit from 1961-1966, winning multiple Emmys in the process. In addition to establishing Van Dyke as a bona fide TV star, it introduced audiences to Mary Tyler Moore, who became a big name in her own right.

Despite all of his mammoth success, Van Dyke was unaffected by fame and glamour of L.A.; in fact, his wife Margie hated living in Hollywood. By the time he got his own TV show, Van Dyke was a father of four and a dedicated family man. He wasn’t out at all the Hollywood parties, mingling with the hot young stars of his day and getting into trouble. Rather, Van Dyke simply did his work and then went home, spending time with his wife and kids on the weekend and taking them to Brentwood Presbyterian Church on Sundays, where he served as an elder.

While Van Dyke believes in God, his worldview and attitude ended up reflecting a deistic perspective. He left his church in the early 70s due to an unfortunate disagreement on the all-important issue of racial dialogue between black churches and white churches. He greatly disliked the hypocrisy he found in organized religion, and as a result, left institutionalized Christianity altogether.

Later in the 70s, after his kids were grown, Van Dyke experienced various issues in both his career and his personal life. He drifted apart from Margie and ending up having an affair with his friend Michelle Triola, a former dancer and actress. He and Margie divorced in 1984. Van Dyke also struggled with alcohol and nicotine abuse during this time, before finally completing substance abuse rehab in the 80s. In 1995, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

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Van Dyke and Triola lived together until her death from lung cancer in 2009, shortly before he began this memoir; he remarried in February 2012 to makeup artist Arlene Silver. His kids and grandkids have gone on to be successful in their own right, as has his kid brother Jerry, who became an accomplished actor, comedian, and musician.

Dick Van Dyke has had an accomplished life, to say the least. For all his fame and enduring popularity, he has remained down-to-earth, honest, and humble. In My Lucky Life, he constantly deflects praise, going out of his way to mention the people that made his show such a hit, and who helped him along the way as he struggled early in his career as an entertainer. To his credit, Van Dyke persevered and, for the most part, stayed true to who he was and what he wanted to do with his life:

“I suppose that I never completely gave up my childhood idea of being a minister. Only the medium and the message changed. I have still endeavored to touch people’s souls, to raise their spirits and put smiles on their faces.”

Dick Van Dyke may be amazed at his own comedic legacy, but he is a classic entertainer in every way. In fact, his life is only as lucky as the people who have helped him succeed.

What’s in a name?

There’s been a ton of recent controversy regarding the Washington Redskins team name. Some call it offensive to Native Americans, while some don’t. Team owner Daniel Snyder has received a lot of heat for saying that the name will never be changed, and the organization has even received pressure from Congress to consider changing the name.

Some Native Americans claim that the name is derogatory to their culture and way of life, and have even gone so far as to protest against the Redskins in the tailgate lot on game days. But upon closer examination, is the name really offensive?

There are dozens of teams on both the collegiate and professional levels that are named after Native Americans: the Florida State Seminoles, the Utah Utes, the MLB’s Cleveland Indians, the William & Mary Tribe, among many others. However, there have been two recent cases that have gone relatively unnoticed in the national news.

In 2005, the NCAA announced a ban on ethnically or racially “hostile” or “abusive” nicknames, mascots and imagery at championship events. One school that was essentially forced to change their nickname was Arkansas State University, who was known as the Indians since 1931. In 2008, they dropped the name and went with the seemingly innocuous “Red Wolves.” As a side note, they did it voluntarily in order to avoid possible NCAA penalties or sanctions.

In the summer of 2012, the NCAA also forced the University of North Dakota (the Fighting Sioux) to change their name after deeming it offensive to American Indians. The NCAA even threatened to forfeit North Dakota games if student-athletes, cheerleaders, or fans continued the use of the “Fighting Sioux” logo or even the words on T-shirts or merchandise. A petition circled the campus and got over 17,000 votes, but the NCAA threatened again to bring the hammer if the name was not changed.

Now, North Dakota literally has no name, as an unusual state law prohibits the university from getting a new athletic nickname until 2015.

My point is this: why is there so much backlash against certain teams, but not others? Either all of the names are offensive, or none of them are. Florida State has one of the most successful collegiate athletic programs in history, but no one bats an eye about them being the “Seminoles.” Neither has anyone threatened lawsuits against the Cleveland Indians, whose logo is even more stereotypical than the Redskins’ logo. I don’t believe that the Redskins’ name should be changed, or that the name is inherently offensive.

On another side note, I should mention that I do appreciate and enjoy Native American culture. I have several Native friends here at NMSU, and I admire their society and way of life. And let’s be honest, Native Americans have historically gotten a raw deal. The U.S. government infringed on their basic rights and liberties many years ago, and there is still a ton of poverty on modern-day reservations – not just here in New Mexico, but everywhere. Frankly, I am saddened that the same America that I know and love has treated such a great people group with such hostility and vengeance. That is wrong, and we should all recognize that Indigenous Americans have dealt with serious problems and issues that still hurt their culture. Nonetheless, they have contributed great things to our society, even when they have not been rewarded in return. I admire their strength and perseverance as a people group.

I always strive to be compassionate and understanding towards people who are different from me. I will probably never understand what it means to be Native American, or to deal with the struggles and issues that they deal with everyday. While I believe that the Redskins’ name should not be changed (or pressured to be changed), I do advocate for people to be intelligent, understanding, and respectful regarding this issue. Don’t just be politically correct for the sake of being politically correct.