Football and Yogi
As of last week, the following five Jewish players were on an NFL team. Nate Ebner, 26, free safety, New England Patriots, is now in his fourth season and has established himself as an outstanding special-teams player. Taylor Mays, 27, free safety, Oakland Raiders, could quote the famous “Godfather III” line, but in a happy way: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” A star at USC, Mays had a so-so career in four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Released at the end of last season, he was signed and then quickly released by Minnesota, Detroit and Oakland (Aug. 25). However, on Sept. 15, he was re-signed by the Raiders following injuries to the team’s safeties. He started in the home opener.
Alexander “Ali” Marpet, 22, guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the only Jewish rookie this year. Marpet has defied the odds, making the NFL after a small-school career at Hobart College in New York and then starting in the Bucs’ first three games. Marpet went on a Birthright trip to Israel (and his father worked in Israel during the mid-1970s). Geoff Schwartz, 29, guard, New York Giants, is in his seventh season but was injured most of last season. Healthy now, he started the first three games. Mitchell Schwartz, 26, tackle, Cleveland Browns, is Geoff’s brother. A very good, steady player, he has started in all of the Browns games since being signed in 2012. Mendel is Mitchell’s Hebrew name and Gedalia Yitzhak is Geoff’s Hebrew name.
New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, who died last week, was famous for his baseball skills and his “Yogisms” — sayings like “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Yes, many memorable remarks attributed to Berra were writers’ inventions. But one of my favorite Yogi quotes was verified by Berra in his 1998 book “The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said!” In 1956, New York papers were full of stories about Robert Briscoe being elected first Jewish lord mayor of Dublin, Ireland. Asked to comment about the news, Berra replied, “Only in America!” In his book he later explained that “geography was never my strong suit.”
Catching up on new shows
The Fox sitcom “Grandfathered” premiered on Sept. 29. John Stamos (“Full House”) stars as Jimmy, a suave restaurant owner who finds out that not only is he a father, but his previously unknown-to-him son has a young daughter. Josh Peck, 28, an actor whose charm and talent, I think, sneaks up on you, plays Jimmy’s son, Gerald.
Another new sitcom, “The Grinder,” aired on Fox the same night right after “Grandfathered.” Rob Lowe plays Dean, an actor who decides to move back home to Idaho and join his family’s law firm after eight years playing a lawyer on TV. Problem is that Dean has no formal legal training. His brother Stewart (Fred Savage, 39) is a lawyer who has to cope with Dean injecting Hollywood into his law practice and other mishegas. This is Savage’s first big acting role since “The Wonder Years” ended in 1993. He’s been a very busy TV director. He has three kids with his Jewish wife, Jennifer Lynn Stone. Lowe’s wife of 24 years is Jewish, and their two sons were raised in their mother’s faith.
The eight-episode IFC comedy series “Benders,” which premiered on Oct. 1, follows a group of friends bonded by their obsession with their amateur hockey team. Their leader is Paul Rosenberg (Andrew Schulz), whose involvement with the team creates daily havoc for him and his wife, Karen, played by Lindsey Broad, who appeared previously in “21 Jump Street” (2012) and “Get Him to the Greek” (2010).