Kaplan's Korner

Jews are known as "the people of the book," but they're also the people of the ball and bat and net. Kaplan's Korner, a new blog from New Jersey Jewish News, is dedicated to bringing the latest sports news and commentary on Jews in sport at a local, national, and international level.

Kaplan's Korner on Jews and Sports © 2016 New Jersey Jewish News

Jice/Jewps update, games of Feb. 11, 2016

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Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:40:09 | by Ron Kaplan


Andre Burakovsky saw his consecutive-game point streak come to an end. He played 14:12 with no shots on goal for the Washington Capitals (40-9-4, 84 points) in their 4-3 win over the host Minnesota Wild (23-21-10, 56 points). Burakovsky had scored five goals with two assists in his previous seven appearances. Jason Zucker played just 7:34 but took two SOG for the Wild who have won just three of their last 18 games.

Jason Demers was a scratch for the Dallas Stars (35-15-5, 75 points), who beat the host Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2.

Once again, Mike Brown was a healthy scratch for the San Jose Sharks, who lost to the visiting Calgary Flames, 6-5, in a shootout. That’s six straight games in dry dock.

http://www2.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/2007+NHL+Headshots+9vv-uyrR5atl.jpgDylan Reese cleared waivers for the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday. According to CBS Sports, “Reese has only suited up for four NHL contests since 2012, and will almost certainly spend the rest of the 2015-16 campaign with AHL Springfield. He was, however, a solid producer in the minors last season, notching 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) in 72 games with AHL Portland.”


No games last night as the NBA prepares for the All-Star Game at the Air Canada Center on Sunday. But as a reminder of the fragility of life, I offer this about the loss of the Ingrid Williams, wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty, who was killed in a car crash on Tuesday.

Do the Yanks like Ike?

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Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:57:14 | by Ron Kaplan

More outlets are starting to speculate on Ike Davis signing a minor league deal with the Bronx Bombers. FYI, 127 players have been a member of both the Mets and Yankees. Elliott Maddox is the only JML on the list.


Jewps/Jice update, games of Feb. 10, 2016

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Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:42:33 | by Ron Kaplan


The Sacramento Kings broke their four-game losing streak by beating the inept host Philadelphia 76ers, 114-110. Omri Casspi played 20 minutes off the bench but scored a season-worst two points, but to be fair, he only took three shots. He pulled down five rebounds and dished out two assists.

But how much longer will he remain with the Cavs? Rumors are starting to float that he might be traded to the Miami Heat. Just what they need — another Jew in Florida.

The Kings are off until after this weekend’s All-Star game.

Kobe Bryant, who 10 years ago told the media he “wouldn’t mind being Jewish,” made his final trip to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers, another stop on the future Hall of Famer’s farewell tour. I wouldn’t really be writing about it but I actually watched the game and was charmed by the reception the local fans and opposing players gave him.

Last JFL post? Spoke too soon.

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Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:22:41 | by Ron Kaplan

http://cdn-jpg.si.com/sites/default/files/2014/11/schwartz-family-360.jpgYesterday I posted about Geoff Schwartz‘s appearance on Hang Up and Listen, Slate’s sports podcast. I sent him an email to request an interview to discuss his “career” as an analysts and podcaster.

A couple of hours later, I learned that he had been released by the New York Giants in a salary cap move.

Talk about your bad timing.

Schwartz, 29, has had miserable luck over the past couple of years, sustaining injuries that severely curtailed his playing time, thus making the Giants’ decision fairly easy, from a financial point.

He’s already played longer than the average NFL career, having made his debut in 2009 with the Carolina Panthers. Following the Giants’ announcement, Schwartz sent out a tweet:

Thanks to the entire Giants organization, the Mara [and] Tisch families and the coaching staff. Completely first class from top to bottom. I appreciate the opportunity the organization gave me, and disappointed my bad injury luck prevented more a chance to help the team. I’m healthy now, training, and I’ll be ready to play for my next team. No doubt I can still ball, and play well.

Here’s wishing him well.


Last JFL post ’til the fall?

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Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:14:26 | by Ron Kaplan

http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/podcasts/podcast_illos_OLD/111003_HUAL_illo.jpg.CROP.promo-medium.jpgThe NY Giants’ Geoff Schwartz was a guest on the latest edition of Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen, talking about the offensive line’s responsibilities during last week’s Super Bowl. They even managed to get in a little yiddishkeit. Schwartz, who praised little brother Mitchell’s accomplishments for the Cleveland Browns, had also tweeted about the game. You can listen to the episode here.

One of the things I like about HUAL‘s web presence is the “show notes” that offer additional material. Here are a few from the current batch:

Finally: does the winner of the Super Bowl predict the winner of the World Series? The concept comes from the folks who host the “Value Over Grit Replacement” site, which often provides entertaining and thought-provoking entries about baseball.


JML Update, Feb. 10, 2016

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Wed, 10 Feb 2016 15:33:36 | by Ron Kaplan

To lead off or not to lead off? That is the question for the Toronto Blue Jays regarding Kevin Pillar. The defensive wiz has said he would welcome the opportunity, but some think it would curtail his running because the two through four batters are so good. Pillar stole 25 bases last year but he only walked 28 times and had a .318 on-base percentage, not great for a leadoff hitter.


On the other hand, sophomore Joc Pederson might be a good candidate for the LA Dodgers top spot. He walked 92 times (.346 OBP) although he ended up with an anemic .210 batting after having a good first half. Those free passes were good for fifth place in the National League and tied for seventh in the Majors. But he also hit 26 home runs so he might be more useful lower down in the order.

And what about Ian Kinsler as the Detroit Tigers’ No. 1 batter? He has 123 lifetime homer runs from that spot, 32 as a leadoff hitter.

FOX Sports posted that “Dodgers’ Pederson had a great view of Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show.” The article includes links to a couple videos taken by the sophomore outfielder. Let’s just say he’s no Randy Johnson when it comes to his camera work. (On the other hand, at least Pederson was never on the PETA watch list.)

Danny Valencia on your fantasy team, yet? Might be a smart move.

Is Josh Glick, a pitcher for Nova Southeastern University of Fort Lauderdale, a future JML? Jewish Sports Review  selected him for the 2015 All-American team so he must have something.

Jewps/Jice update, games of Feb. 9, 2016

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Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:45:56 | by Ron Kaplan


Nope. But there was Bernie.


Andre Burakovsky remains hot. He picked up his 14th assist as the Washington Capitals (39-9-4, 82 points) beat the Eric Nystrom-less Predators in Nashville, 5-3. Burakovsky, who played 14:07, has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last six games. Is Nystrom prepping for his next career?

Jason Demers is right behind, scoring goal number seven for the Dallas Stars (34-15-5, 73 points) in their 4-3 overtime victory over the host Minnesota Wild  and Jason Zucker who played just 8:22. Demers (21:15 time on ice) has two goals and one assist in his last four appearances. The Wild (23-20-10, 56 points) have lost 12 of their last 14 games.

Mike Brown was a scratch once again for the San Jose Sharks, who shut out the host Chicago Blackhawks, 2-0. He has not played in the team’s last five games.

Michael Cammalleri, still on injury reserve, missed the NJ Devils’ 3-2 win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

Bernie, the Brooklyn Baller

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Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:14:14 | by Ron Kaplan

This is the only kind of praise a Democrat can expect from FOX News.

Spring is just around the corner

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Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:31:29 | by Ron Kaplan

Sure, the East Coast is about to be smacked by the coldest weather of the season but what care baseball fans?






Equal opportunity offender?

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Tue, 09 Feb 2016 15:54:41 | by Ron Kaplan

Some guys just don’t learn.

http://i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/daily-pitch/2012/08/03/youngx-large.jpgMLB free agent Delmon Young got into hot water in 2012 for anti-Semitic remarks in Manhattan as a member of the Detroit Tigers. According to a story in yesterday’s NY Post

Young shouted “You bunch of f–king Jews!” at a group of four tourists outside a Manhattan hotel and shoved one of the men to the ground. Young, who was so drunk he had to be hospitalized after the incident, became enraged when he saw a panhandler wearing a yarmulke ask the men for money.

This time it was allegedly hate speech against a Cuban valet at a Miami hotel.

As per the same Post piece

Young, 30, was charged with battery after he allegedly strangled a valet Sunday night at a Miami hotel and peppered the man with anti-Latin epithets. The confrontation began because the valet would not admit Young into a closed hotel nightclub.

“Stupid Cuban. Open the f–king door. I’m here. Now what?” Young ranted, according to a police report published by ABC 10.

MLB player accused of choking, threatening to kill valet attendant in Miami: https://t.co/knEWHiOkXTpic.twitter.com/AHX3ztw0Q1

— Pete Burke (@PeteBurke) February 8, 2016

“I’m gonna f–king kill you, you Latin piece of s–t,” Young continued, before putting his hands around the attendant’s neck.

As a minor leaguer in 2006, Young was suspended for 50 games this little gem:

Maybe this has a little to do with Young playing for five teams in 10 years.


Jewps/Jice update, games of Feb. 8, 2016

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Tue, 09 Feb 2016 15:22:27 | by Ron Kaplan


Make that eight losses in the last nine games for the Sacramento Kings. They lost to the host Cleveland Cavaliers, 120-100. Omri Casspi tied for team-high in scoring with 16 points in 29 minutes off the bench. He also had six rebounds, one assist, and a team-high three steals. The Kings fall to 10 games under .500 (21-31).


Injury reserve residents Michael Cammalleri and David Warsofsky both missed their team’s contests last night. Cammalleri’s NJ Devils lost to the host NY Rangers, 2-1, while Warsofsky’s Pittsburgh Penguins beat the visiting Anaheim Ducks, 6-2.

Orthodox Jewish teen comes up short in Olympics ping-pong bid, sits out on Shabbat

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Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:45:54 | by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

http://www.thejewishweek.com/sites/default/files/user9398/esteeackerman_jewishhoopsamerica.jpgAn Orthodox Jewish teen from suburban New York City came up short in her bid to make the U.S. Olympics table tennis team and did not compete in the trials on Shabbat.

Estee Ackerman, a 14-year-old freshman at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Queens, lost matches for two consecutive days at the trials last week in Greensboro, North Carolina. The three-day trials finished on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

“I know my decision is the right one because, in life, I will always keep Judaism as my No. 1 priority,” Ackerman, of West Hempstead on Long Island, told Newsday.

Ackerman, the 14th seed among the 16 competitors, lost twice to fifth-seeded Prachi Jha, an 18-year-old from California. The winner on each of the three days of play advanced to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I know I didn’t win, but it was such an amazing feeling to know I was one of 16 women in the country who worked so hard just to get here,” Ackerman told Newsday. “It was such an honor, such a cool feeling.”

Ackerman has been competing in ping-pong for six years, often practicing up to four hours a day, five days a week.

She was disqualified from the 2012 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships when she opted not to play her final match, which fell on Shabbat.

An essay of beauty is a joy forever

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Mon, 08 Feb 2016 18:56:51 | by Ron Kaplan

Yeah, I could have posted this in advance of the Super Bowl. But if you’re a thinking fan of any game, I think you’ll agree that Kathy Gilsinan’s piece, “What’s Your Best Meaningless Sports Comment,” from The Atlantic website, is appropriate the year round. Enjoy.

Jewps/Jice update, weekend edition

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Mon, 08 Feb 2016 15:40:31 | by Ron Kaplan


Omri Casspi and the Sacramento Kings fell to the host Brooklyn Nets on Friday, 128-119. Casspi had just seven points in 28 bench minutes, along with four rebounds and three steals. He connected on just one of seven three-point attempts and had the lowest plus/minus rating in the game at -18. His long-range problems continued two days later when he was only 1-6 from downtown as the Kings lost to the host Boston Celtics with the same score. (I wonder how often that has happened?), Casspi scored 13 points in 29 bench minutes with four rebounds, three assists, and a steal. His rating was 0, so I guess you could say he played for nothing. The Kings (21-30)  are 1-7 since winning five in a row in late January. Despite his hooting woes, some think he should have been included in the three-point shooting contest at this weekend’s All-Star festivities.


Andre Burakovsky was basically the only MOT to have a productive weekend. He scored his 10th goal of the year on Saturday (two shots on goal in 18:03) to give the Washington Capitals (38-9-4, 80 points, first in Eastern Conference) a 3-2 shootout win over the host NJ Devils(26-20-7-59 points, tied for eighth in East). The next day he picked up his 13th assist in a 3-2 win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers (one SOG in 14:34). In his last five games, Burakovsky has five goals and one assist.

Jason Demers took two SOG in 23:17 as the Dallas Stars (33-15-5, 71 points, second in Western Conference) fell to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, 5-1.

Jason Zucker was benched by the Minnesota Wild (23-20-9, 55 points, ninth in West) in their 4-1 loss to the host St. Louis Blues on Saturday. The move comes as the Wild try to salvage their season. From the Twins Cities Pioneer Press:

The benching of Zucker comes in the midst of what was expected to be a breakout season for the 24-year-old.

A season ago, his 21 goals in 51 games yielded the best goal per game ratio on the Wild.

But through 51 games this season, Zucker is at 11 goals.

He hasn’t scored in his past 11 games, has just one assist in that time, and he hasn’t played well defensively, [head coach Mike] Yeo said.

“(His) performance statistically is not there,” Yeo said. “That’s the No. 1 issue. But I think you dig a little bit deeper and the defensive game is not there. If you’re not scoring, you can’t be giving up chances, you can’t be high-risk, you can’t be a liability out there. And I think that’s the biggest issue. When I think of Zucker, some of the best hockey that he’s played, he’s been very determined – whether it’s to prove that he belongs a little higher in the lineup or in the lineup. That determination fuels his game and I haven’t seen a lot of that lately.”

Mike Cammalleri (Devils), David Warsofsky (Pittsburgh Penguins, 26-18-7-59 points, tied for eighth in East), and Eric Nystrom (Nashville Predators (26-20-80, 58 points, sixth in West) are all on the injury reserve list. Mike Brown was a healthy scratch for the San Jose Sharks (27-20-4, 58 points, fifth in West).

What’s the point?
Through Feb. 7, 2016

Player Games Goals Assists Points Time on Ice/Game
Mike Brown, SJ Sharks 42 1 2 3 7:01
Andre Burakovsky, Wash. Capitals 48 10 13 23 12:28
Michael Cammalleri, NJ Devils 42 14 24 38 19:17
Jason Demers, Dallas Stars 47 6 12 18 20:56
Eric Nystrom, Nash. Predators 40 7 7 11:38
David Warsofksy, Boston Bruins 12 1 0 1 17:45
Jason Zucker, Minn. Wild 51 11 9 20 16:35


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Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:52:49 | by Ron Kaplan

Congrats to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, winners of Super Bowl 50 as they beat the Carolina Panthers, 24-10. (The only discernible Jewish connection: The Panthers GM is Jewish.)


Matt York/ AP

Sorry, but I found the game a bit of a snoozer. No really exciting moments (to a non-fan of either team). A half-time program that would never appeal to my demographic. And even the commercials were a disappointment. The highlight was that someone from my high school was an extra in an ad for some pharmaceutical that relieves constipation in people who use opiods.

Now the postmortems set in. You can bet there are more than a few who were glad to see Cam Newton fail. Why didn’t he jump into the scrum to try and retrieve that fumble towards the end of the game? And walking out of the press conference? Poor form. Some supporters say he’s only 26, as if that’s an excuse.

I don’t watch Friday Night Tykes, a program on the Esquire channel about youth football in Texas, where the sport is a religion for many. But even without a series making celebrities out of per-pubescent kids, there’s no shortage of notoriety and hero-worship at younger and younger ages. Potential basketball stars are hailed in middle school. Tennis prodigies are playing professionally at 15. Washington Nationals’ outfielder Brian Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old. Sure, it’s fun to get the attention, but these kids should also be taught that they can’t win every time, and how to lose graciously. Of course it’s not easy, but that’s a real life lesson.


If all you want from the Super Bowl are the commercials…

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Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:36:27 | by Ron Kaplan

then here you go. I just saved you four hours. You’re welcome.


Brought to you as a public service announcement

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Fri, 05 Feb 2016 18:13:08 | by Ron Kaplan

How to Fake Your Way Through the Super Bowl Without Knowing Anything About Football

You’re welcome.

Jewps/Jice update, games of Feb. 4, 2016

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Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:53:31 | by Ron Kaplan


Jason Demers‘ sixth goal of the year tied the game between his Dallas Stars and the host Colorado Rockies 3-3 in the middle of the third period. The Stars (33-14-5, 71 points) went on to a 4-3 overtime win.

Andre Burakovsky’s ninth goal of the year gave the Washington Capitals (36-9-4, 76 points) a 2-1 lead over the visiting New York Islanders in the second period, en route to a 3-2 win. Burakovsky connected on his only shot on goal in 16:19 time on ice.

Jason Zucker took one SOG in 13:22 TOI as the Minnesota Wild (23-19-9, 55 points) dropped a 4-2 decision to the host NY Rangers.

Mike Brown was a scratch for the San Jose Sharks (27-19-4, 58 points) who beat the host St. Louis Blues, 3-1.

Injury list: Michael Cammalleri, NJ Devils (3-2 shootout loss to host Toronto Maple Leafs); Eric Nystrom, Nashville Predators (6-3 win over visiting Philadelphia Flyers).


No games for Omri Casspi and the Sacramento Kings. Next up:

Israeli player shows support for Pope’s ‘Soccer for Peace’ match

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Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:13:15 | by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

An Israeli soccer player recorded a message of support for Pope Francis’ second “Soccer for peace” exhibition match.

Pope Francis on Wednesday launched the second edition of “Soccer for Peace,” an exhibition soccer match with all-star players scheduled for May 29 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

Standout Israeli professional soccer player Eran Zahavi was one of the first players from around the world to upload a video message of support for the match on the Soccer for Peace YouTube channel.


“Shalom, this is Eran Zahavi player of Maccabi Tel Aviv and the national team of Israel, I would like to say all my support for the game for the peace. I send you from here big regards and all the best,” said Zahavi in somewhat broken English, in his message.

Announcement of the match was made Wednesday at the Vatican by the Argentine-born pope, who joined by Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho and Costa Rican player Bryan Luiz.

Israeli player Yossi Benayoun participated in the first Soccer for Peace match.

The match is hosted by “Scholas Ocurrentes,”. the Pontifical Academy for art, sports and technology to promote peace, as well as the Pupi Foundation, a charity founded by the Argentine soccer player Javier “Pupi” Zanetti,

The first “Soccer for Peace” match took place on Sept. 1, 2014 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. While Benayoun participated, retired Egyptian soccer star Mohammed Aboutrika refused, tweeting: “This is a photo for the match invitation which I turned down because of the Zionist state”

In May 2014, Francis hosted then-Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for a prayer summit at the Vatican.

Pope Francis has loved soccer since his childhood in Argentina as is reflected in the children’s book The Pope Who Loves Soccer.


Super Bowl suggestions for the People of the Book

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Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:25:40 | by Ron Kaplan

Is it just me, or has there not been the usual clamor over the Super Bowl this year, despite the fact that it’s the 50th time this event game has been played? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the teams aren’t exactly local. Yeah, they try to make something out of the rivalry between the old guard in the person of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and new generation QB Cam Newton for the Carolina Panthers. There was also the racial element introduced by Newton that IMO was a bit silly, unless I’m just too innocent to live. Is it still an thing in terms of African-American signal-callers? Yes, Newton does a lot of things few QBs have ever done before. But if a white quarterback had his size and strength and skills, you don’t think he would be doing the same things? It reminds me of the reverse-racism when it came top Larry Bird being one of the few dominant Caucasian players in the NBA.

Because this is Super Bowl 50 — not Super Bowl L (the first time since the fourth such contest that the game has not been expressed in roman numerals) — it’s kind of a big deal, with lots of historical commemoration going around.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51RB1hAE6%2BL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgHarvey Frommer published When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl. It’s a combination narrative and oral history, but not just about that one game between the Green Bay Backers and Kansas City Chiefs, but the events leading up to that meeting. I found the recollections of how the media covered the event particularly interesting. Did you know it was aired on two TV networks? (I would love to see a book just on that: the behind the scenes machinations, planning, and fretting that went on as the networks and advertisers struggled to bring this to air.)

Here are a couple of suggestions for required readings, written by a couple of my favorite landsmen.

Frommer — whose sports books includes Remembering Yankee Stadium, New York City Baseball: The Golden Age, 1947-1957, and Rickey and Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball’s Color Barrier, among many others (not to mention It Happened in the Catskills: An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others, written with his wife, Myrna) — combines just the right amount of his own research with the words of those who were there. And not only the players, because they were just one segment of the participants. Coaches, team and league officials, media, and even family members share their memories as well.

You can read an excerpt of When It Was Just a Game here.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51IPLozaTfL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgJerry Izenberg, the veteran sportswriter for the Star-Ledger and other outlets, was there for SB1. Some of his recollections appear in Frommer’s work. Izenberg published Rozelle: A Biography in 2014. While obviously not wholly about the Super Bowl, Pete Rozelle, who was appointed NFL Commissioner in 1960, was an integral part of creating what many considered the biggest sporting event in the world (the dust jacket for Rozelle, features the subject in the background, dwarfed by a Super Bowl trophy). Those interested in backstory would do well to pick up a copy of this one.

More Super Bowl reading suggestions:

And finally (jump to the 2:20 mark):

You’re welcome.