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HAIL! GFOP

I type with glum fingers saddened by the realization that tonight was meant to be the Seventh Annual Night of The Golden Blazer. That annual night in which sub-optimality is temporarily set aside and we revel in the greatness of someone who has grown the game we love in the nation we adore. This time last year, we celebrated Megan Rapinoe’s career journey with Sam Darnold and Katie Nolan (who talked about her Liverpool fandom with such joy and wonder, she deserves this season’s glory, asterisk or not). Tonight would have topped even that. Not just the awardee, whose story is superlative and so worthy of that “Blazer made O’Gold.” But the coming together of a thousand Men In Blazers GFOPs who have donned tweed and polyester jersey combos before ritually traveling from all over the world to commune with us, and more importantly, each other. The sadness and lack I feel as I type that is overwhelming.

I am fully aware there are much worse things going on across the nation. Graduations cancelled. Weddings (including Producer Lexi’s) postponed, milestone birthdays unmarked, and funerals experienced by zoom. This is our world right now. A global gridlock of communal moments stolen from us, many of which we will never get back. Yet, the lesson we take from this experience of absence and denial will define us. When we are through this, and we will get through this, I will never take the opportunity of being together for granted, and will revel all the more in the simple pleasures of life: of raising a Bud in a room packed with GFOPs and toasting lives lived with shared enthusiasm for curiosity, empathy and compassion. Tonight, as you raise a glass, do so knowing we are toasting you back from afar, virtually, with a Jagermeister shot filled with love and wonder, and a tear in our eyes.      


2. MiB Keepz Pumping Out Da Hitz

i. Tomorrow, I am delighted to have my old friend, Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets GM and football savant, join us to talk about sports return, ghost games, and NBA possibilities. Send us your questions for Daryl Here.

ii. SAM MEWIS, that World Cup-Winning Tower of Power and NWSL winner, joins us for our Wednesday Budweiser Happy Hour on Insta Live at 5 p.m. ET. I have long admired the way Sam plays, enforcing her will on opponents with physical might and sophisticated decision making. A slice of magic to raise a Bud with her. Join us tomorrow right here

iii. Today, Davo pods. The questions on WGFOP: The Bald were magnificent yesterday. This week, Rog will be calling one of you people back who leaves a message on our hotline (646) 450-9472. Leave us the best question and you could be besmirched. 
 
iv. We just released the latest in our NWSL Season Preview videos, presented by Budweiser. This week: DA RED STARS. A team led by the best American general since Patton, Julie Ertz. Two Words. Chi Town. Southside. Worldwide. 

v. Calling all Essential Workers. We will kick off Memorial Day Weekend with a Zoom Happy Hour especially for you. Save the Date. This Thursday. May 21. 4:30 p.m. ET. If you want to attend, email us HERE. It is open to all, so as long as you email us via the link above, you’ll have a spot. All details will go out via email Thursday around noon ET, so if you don’t hear back before then, do not panic. We cannot wait to be with you.  


3. To the Football: The Premier League’s second coming has begun with the gentle first step of resuming non-contact training in groups of up to five. Two phases remain to be determined. Training in small groups, hopefully within a week, which would then be phased into 11 versus 11 in mask-ridden conditions which gesture towards hygiene. After that, we would be within touching distance of matchday, baby, which optimistic voices peg at June 15, but realists suggest may be a week later. 

As players luxe, customized Lambos once again break speed limits on their way towards training grounds all over the nation, they do so knowing their Coronavirus tests come out today. Brace yourself for a heartbreaking yet inevitable spate of reports of positive tests. How the league handles this strategically or otherwise will tell us a lot about their capacity to manage risk in a constructive way.

Troy Deeney is the first player who has announced he will refuse to attend training. "My son is five months and he's had breathing difficulties. I don't want to come home and put him in more danger. For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and we're twice as likely to have long lasting illnesses. (I asked) ‘Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff to see if people have got problems?’ No. Okay, well I feel like that should be addressed.”

b. A Premier League committee has been formed to make closed door football more exciting. Plans to film dugouts and technical areas are likely to be rejected amid fears that mic'd up managers could bring the game into disrepute because of the torrent of swearing. I can’t be alone in thinking that actually makes it sound even better.

c. German Fußball: It is important to note that voices within German football still view Bundesliga’s return as a fragile week-to-week  experiment to be celebrated with “Gedämpfte Freude” – muffled joy – as Monday’s edition of sports paper “Kicker” deftly put it. “The coming week will present new challenges, as the players return to their homes and families before the next round of fixtures. Beyond the hygiene protocol, the long-term health of the Bundesliga will also be under close scrutiny as it continues to spread its wings like never before.”

ii. Everyone has their weakness. Erling Haaland’s is being interviewed. Is the teenage striking sensation hard to interview or misunderstood? In this video, BBC Sport investigates magnificently.


4. More Football? LFG

i. Why Bayern’s Thomas Müller is the perfect pandemic player by Jonathan Liew.

ii. On May 28, Premier League clubs will vote on the mechanism to decide the season if the games cannot be completed. The favored algorithm is called Weighted Points Per Game. This piece explains how it works. David Moyes I know you are reading. Yes, West Ham will be relegated by this formula. Mission accomplished.

iii. Liverpool begin discussions about how to receive the trophy in fanless-era whilst social distancing. No hugs. 😢

iv. I have long admired Hector Bellerin for his ability to be different. Here he talks about his life philosophy, style, and willingness to buck Premier League norms. “I know I am not a politician, I know I am young still but I’m not scared to say what I feel. I think that is why some respect what I have to say. Now I understand that I can have an impact on society, I am human, I have my passions, my interests and my views but I feel as a footballer you get put into a box, you have to dress like a footballer, talk like a footballer and just act how they think a footballer should act.”

v. "Michael Jordan would get thrown out of our dressing room”: Why the Last Dance star’s competitive fire wouldn’t fly in modern football. From Miguel Delaney. 


5. Non-Football? We know it does not matter anymore but we still doing it

i. The 17 Best ’80s Movies to Stream Right Now. Basically just a list of reasons Rog moved to America. 

ii. In Praise of Birdsong. To stand in a field and hear an irritated sneeze and know that the dull gray bird clinging to a reed is a Willow rather than an Alder Flycatcher is a pleasure that goes beyond mere cataloging. It’s a recognition of a being distinct from other beings, a separate tile in the mosaic, without which the mosaic would be a blur.” (Via GFOP David Schaller)

iii. The Russian prisoner’s guide to lockdown. For lessons in surviving solitude, it’s hard to beat Russia’s rich subgenre of prison memoirs
(From GFOP Jeffrey Skorrup who wrote. “Saw this and thought immediately of the man in a blazer whose "mind [is] purified by suffering.") 

iv. 7 Mental-Health Hacks You Should Do Right This Second. Surprisingly, one is not “stop reading our sub-optimal crap.”

v. Fascinating Simulation Shows What Launched Rockets Would Look Like If They Were Transparent.

vi. Not an article, but a mere seconds long video of wild hogs in suburban Berlin that has haunted me for 24 hours.
 
I am going to finish with this beautiful feature that made my heart soar. A 92-Year-Old Piano Teacher Won’t Let Students Miss Bach in the Pandemic. The article tells the story of how Cornelia Vertenstein, a Holocaust survivor who has taught piano lessons for over 50 years from her home in Denver, has learned how to continue to reach her 6 to 17-year-old students over FaceTime from her home. This article is littered with words to live by. “I believe strongly in continuity,” Ms. Vertenstein says. “My students learn to be persistent in what they are doing. I try to teach them not only how to learn, but how to work.” As you know, I am a banjo man myself, but I co-sign this approach to our world.  

Let me leave you with part of Ms. Vertenstein’s story which will fill your day with energy. “When I was a little girl, I could not go to public schools because of my religion. And they created a little school in the basement of an old building, which sometimes had heat and sometimes didn’t. Great minds and achievements came out of that school, which taught me that in any situation you can strive, learn, look ahead and have dreams.”

To striving, learning, and dreaming.

I’m Couraging.
Rog: @rogbennett 

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly
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“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”

Philip Larkin
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