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MiB is driven by a belief that Soccer is America's Sport of the Future.
As it has been since 1972.
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Hail! GFOP

 
What a weekend we have in store: Jurgen Klopp’s draw-loving Liverpool head to Jose Mourinho’s (kind of) Chelsea. Two of English football’s most psychologically fragile teams. This game should offer all the drama of the emasculated car-waxing Biff Tannen at the end of  “Back to the Future” arm-wrestling Johnny Lawrence post-ass-whipping at the All Valley Karate Tournament.

The clash features a beleaguered Mourinho against the clap-happy Klopp. The Portuguese has fallen so far so fast, his tactics are cravenly ignored by British journalists who now prefer to analyze his body language. The effervescent Klopp may spontaneously combust if Liverpool secure their first league win of his regime. His fine record against Mourinho suggests that is a distinct possibility. Past Chelsea coaches Messrs. Ancelotti, Hiddink, and even (please make this true) Andre Villas Boas will watch with interest.

We will break down the game’s every clap when The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW returns Monday, Nov. 2 at 11 p.m. ET with special guest Carmelo Anthony, a long-suffering Arsenal fan.  We’ll ask the eight-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist about his trip to the Emirates, what it’s like to own the NASL’s Puerto Rico Islanders, and training with Real Madrid.

We’d like to thank last week’s guest, Molly Ringwald, for coming on the show to talk about pie, gingers, and her vision of John Terry hat tricks. Further proof that America is where dreams come true. You can watch last week’s interview with Molly Ringwald HERE. The full episode is available HERE. It is also on Apple TV and Roku via the NBC Sports Live Extra app. Moving forward, the show will be under the app’s “Full Event Replays” tab. 

One last word: We raise a Guinness in the general direction of the wondrous Abby Wambach who retired this week as the greatest goal scorer in international history. Abby leaves the game as she always planned to -- as a winner. The greatest of all time in American football. One chapter of her career has ended. We cannot wait to see what the next chapter brings.

Courage,
Rog @rogbennett

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
“Positive” Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly
Producer Lexi: @tannneal

P.S. Happy Halloween. The amazing pumpkin below via GFOP @DarthBombadil
 
 


I. BlazerCon

Two short weeks from today, we will be Brooklyn-bound to commune with hundreds of GFOPs. We could not be more excited. This week, we released a detailed schedule for BlazerCon, complete with panel times and locations. You can view it HERE. We are close to selling out, which is magnificent.

Another big BlazerCon announcement. Possibly the biggest so far. The one and only Charlie is a Red will join us at the Brooklyn Expo Center Nov. 13 and 14. It will be Charlie’s first trip to America and, by the looks of his Twitter, he’s already got the important itinerary items sorted. Watch Charlie’s short BlazerCon video message HERE.

Charlie is part of a glut of great footballing minds attending BlazerCon. The lineup includes Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore, Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Everton Manager Roberto Martinez, NBC’s Rebecca Lowe and many more.
 

Less than 40 BlazerCon tickets are still available. You can purchase HERE. And there is still time to enter our BlazerCon Song Contest and Youth Team Goal Celebration Contest. We’ll reveal the winners on next week’s Pod.


II. News From FIFA-Land

This week, Russian news agency TASS released THIS interview with suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter in which he dropped a bevy of gems that would be hard to believe, if he wasn’t always so Sepp. Among them: it was decided Russia would host the 2018 World Cup before the vote; his current suspension is “nonsense”; and that, this February, “If God is with me, I do hope that I’ll be back as president of FIFA.” And for those of you wondering how Sepp keeps such a trim figure, his workout routine is explained HERE via @pkedrosky.
 

Speaking of February’s election, FIFA confirmed this week that seven men are vying to replace everyone’s favorite ever benevolent dictator. THIS piece by The New York Times’ Andrew Das is tremendous breakdown of each candidate.


III. “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Gets Suboptimal

Tuesday, Nov. 3, we sully the set of “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” It was not two weeks ago that Seth joined us in the Crap Part of SoHo to talk about his beloved West Ham. You can watch that interview HERE. Five days after his appearance, the Irons repelled a 10-man Chelsea from the Boleyn Ground, prompting Seth to Tweet about the predictive power of Pie. You can watch us discuss the Hammers with Seth on his turf Tuesday at 12:35 a.m. ET on NBC.  East coasters, that is practically the time West coasters have to wake up to watch early Premier League games.


IV. #MiBHalloween

Few Halloween costumes are more terrifying than two bald, middle-aged, Englishmen. Well, maybe two bald, middle-aged, Englishmen dressed up as Chuck Blazer. But few others. We are blown away by the number of GFOPs who tell us they’re spending this Halloween as Rog and/or Davo. Some of our favorites so far include @anwoodgate, @garyusina and Sam Hurst of Newport, Ore. (below). If you dress up as Rog, Davo or one of our favorite footballing characters for Halloween, we’d love to see it. Send us an email or submit via social media using the hashtag #MiBHalloween.
 


V. Steve Bruce, Novelist (Seriously)

Football Manager. Pie Lover. Novelist? This week, our “Steve Bruce” Google alert lead us down an Internet rabbit hole from which we’ve yet to emerge. It started with THIS review of the Hull City manager’s 1999 debut novel… you read that correctly …. STEVE BRUCE’S DEBUT NOVEL. The review from Irish site TheSlicedPan.com refers to the football-themed murder mystery “Striker!” as a “fizzing geyser of hot nonsense.”

A quick search turned up THIS Yahoo!/Eurosport article in which Bruce discusses not only “Striker!” but also his subsequent efforts: “Defender!” and “Sweeper!” While “Striker!” is currently listed as “unavailable” on Amazon, Bruce’s other two tomes are available for the very reasonable prices of 64.52 and 148.50 pounds, respectively. We love you, Steve Bruce.


VI. Football Ink  

This week on the Pod, we read a Raven from a GFOP with football’s equivalent of a wandering eye. He’d selected Spurs as his favorite team in 2010. But since then, he’s found himself attracted to other sides. While debating this dilemma, Rog suggested new football fans undergo a commitment ceremony of some sort when they select their team, maybe a tattoo. LISTEN HERE. As it turns out, many GFOPs are a step ahead of us (not for the first time). We were inundated with tattoo pics via Twitter. Some of our favorites are Liverpool - Elvish Edition, a committed Preston North End fan and Mathew Dapkuinas (below), which may be an alias for Arsene Wenger. 
 


VII. #GFOPArt, Saddington Bear

A brilliant piece of #GFOPArt that captures Rog’s ethos pretty well. For those artistically-inclined GFOPs, we’d love to see some of your work. It can be of Rog, Davo, your favorite (or least favorite) footballer. Send submissions via email or over social using the hashtag #GFOPArt. We plan to feature one in every Raven newsletter moving forward.
 



VIII. We Don’t Think We’re Going to Link the Jaden Smith GQ Interview, But We Don’t Think We’re NOT Going to Link to The Jaden Smith GQ Interview

Wait. What? READ HERE


IX. Fashion Advice from Our Tailors at Freemans

This issue’s style question for our tailors at Freemans Sporting Club in New York City deals with backpacks vs. briefcases. Is there an age limit at which the the transformation must happen? What threads go best with both? 

Freemans Managing Director Kent Kilroe Explains: This should be a lay up. But it isn’t. Which is annoying. Theoretically, boys grow up to become men and backpacks grow up to become briefcases.  I suppose the arbitrary line of demarcation for this evolution is age 30 (ish).   

So here is the skinny - If your profession involves wearing a suit, stick to the briefcase, otherwise it’s [a backpack] fair game. I think. Don’t wear them both. At the same time. Ever.  

Regardless of which bag you choose, please keep the branding to a minimum and the colors monochrome.


X. #PatchAtThePark

This issue’s #PatchAtThePark submissions come from the USWNT’s Victory Tour match against Brazil at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando; World Series Game 1 Mets vs. Royals; Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich (Lee Dixon sighting included!); and The Big One, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills at Wembley.

But we have two favorites this week. One from Minnesota United courtesy of @BrentBefus. And a MiB car sticker from @Ambrosnazzy. Both below.
 


XI. Nitro IPA Ads

For the past few weeks on the Pod, we’ve indulged in Guinness’s new Nitro IPA, which is created with not one … not two … not three … not four … but five different types of hops. The GFOPs at Guinness have created a short film on the science behind the beer. WATCH HERE
 


XII. Three Questions

Last weekend, as sheets of rain fell on the Emirates during Arsenal vs. Everton, NBC’s cameras panned to a fan in a Speedo. After we featured him on The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW, we learned more about his backstory. His name is Michael Cullen and he’s a lighting engineer who lives in London with his wife Rachel. He also goes by “Speedo Mick,” attending Everton games, home and away, dressed in only a swimsuit. It’s part of his effort to raise money for Woodlands Hospice, where a friend of his received care. It's a crusade that began in June 2014 when he swam the English Channel for the same charitable cause. In this edition of Three Questions, we talk to him about his motivation, making it from England to France, and Everton.

MiB: America got to know you this past weekend as the slightly crazed, speedo wearing fan at the Emirates. But there's far more to the story. Explain what you're doing and the cause it benefits.

Cullen: The Woodlands Hospice in Liverpool is amazing. They need to raise one million pounds each year to keep the Hospice open. I had a target of £5,000 and I never reached it after the swim, so I thought, "I'm not having this." I decided to carry on fundraising by going to all the Everton home and away games in my Speedos, goggles and swim cap. The rest is history. 

MiB: Why Everton?

Cullen: My family have blue blood running through our veins. We love Everton FC, although it has been very frustrating for a long time to be a blue nose as we haven't won anything for years. But, nevertheless, we still love this club (The People's Club).

MiB: Take us through the physical and emotional journey that was swimming the Channel.

Cullen: After getting a knee injury that prevented me from running very far, I began to think about swimming the English Channel. After booking the boat and training intensely for two years, the day came when I just had to hope that the weather was good to me and just have faith in myself that I had done all I could to prepare for this challenge of a lifetime. It was as if the gods had told the channel to "shhhhussh." It was as calm as I’ve ever seen it, and I knew that this was possibly the best chance I would ever get to swim to France.

After just five hours of swimming, I hit the wall and it was as if I was going backwards, I had my wife playing my favourite songs from the boat as I stopped and they threw me my feed, which you got every half an hour into the sea so I could catch it like a seal. At one point, my wife played me the "Jaws" theme, which was hilarious. When I reached the my tenth hour of swimming, I had past the worst of it. I battled on to France, I spent the last three hours swimming in the dark. After 11 jellyfish stings and 15 hours and 54 minutes of swimming I stood on French soil. It wasn't just my training plan that got me over that day, but all the people who donated to the Woodlands Hospice and gave me encouragement to see me through my doubts and fears.

MiB: Tell us about the most unusual encounter you've had with a fellow fan since taking on the Speedo persona.

Cullen: At first, the reactions were astonishment, shock and bewilderment, with people moving as far away from me as possible with a lot of disgusted looks from fans. But I just stuck with it as I had a vision that things would turn around. The best reaction I have had though was when I went to watch Everton vs. Aston Villa and Villa fans, after applauding me, for being there in my Speedos and raising money for charity, began to sing about me.

MiB: Now that we're entering November, how often are you checking the weather ahead of match day? How much longer can you keep going?

Cullen: Well the temperatures are dropping rapidly now and I can feel it, but I never check the weather before a game. As Doris Day says, “Whatever will be will be.” I'm hoping that the colder it is the more respect I may get, and respect may equal donations. That’s my line of thought. Of course it can be little embarrassing for me if it is cold, if you know what I mean. But what I am doing is nothing compared to what the nurses and the families and, of course, the people who are in the hospice with life limiting diseases are going through. It is a mere drop in the ocean for me. I am a man in his Speedos at a football match who may or may not get a little humiliated. They are saying goodbye to their loved ones. So I'm doing my little bit.

You can donate to Speedo Mick’s cause HERE.


XIII. Passing Time in the CPOS

A look at what we’re watching, viewing, and listening to when there’s no football on:

Google’s Vamos Alberto commercial: WATCH HERE
Vice Illustrates America’s Biggest British Stereotypes LOOK HERE
U2 and GFOP Noel Gallagher perform “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”  WATCH HERE
Hack into Broad City: Dinner Uncensored WATCH HERE
Taylor Swift performs acoustic "Out Of The Woods" at GRAMMY Museum LISTEN HERE


XIV. A Book for Your Library, If You Still Read

Next week, The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay releases his first book, “Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living.” It’s an advice book for people who hate advice and a rules book for those who cannot follow the rules ... if anyone’s looking for a holiday gift for Mourinho. The book drops Tuesday, Nov. 3 from Doubleday. You pre-order HERE.   

Jason has invited all GFOPs to the book’s launch party at Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo, Brooklyn from 7 - 9 p.m Nov. 3. More information is available HERE.


XV. A Poem To Gird Your Loins

We wonder if Brodge and Tim Sherwood are having this conversation right now.

“Two Ghosts Converse”
by Emily Dickinson

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
'For beauty,' I replied.
'And I for truth, — the two are one;
We brethren are,' he said.

And so, as kinsmen met at night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.


XVI. "Plumb our Annals”

You can watch entire episodes of our crap television show on our NBCsports.com page. Video highlights of the show are available HERE. And digital extras, including our After the Pies interviews, are available HERE. Our entire pod archive is available HERE. If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal,” Vol. I (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play) and Vol. II - The Best of 2014 (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play). The albums are the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews.
 

Please forward this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.


“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”
-Philip Larkin
 

    

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PODCAST
 
In this week's podcast, Rog and Davo break down an ugly Manchester Derby, West Ham's defeat of 10-man Chelsea and a rain-soaked affair between Arsenal and Everton. LISTEN HERE
GOOD READS
 
An in-depth breakdown of the USMNT’s player pool heading into World Cup qualifying from Ives Galarcep for Goal.com. READ HERE

The Dier Wolf. Eric Dier’s fascinating journey from Sporting Lisbon to Spurs, by The Guardian’s Dave HynterREAD HERE

Embracing MLS in England. Some of league’s most strident English fans explain its appeal across the Atlantic. Ken Belson for The New York Times. READ HERE

Four Four Two’s Andrew Murray explains how Johan Cruyff re-invented modern football. READ HERE

The Class of ‘92 vs. The Spice Boys. A battle set against the backdrop of Brit Pop and the Premier League’s nascent days. Rob Smyth for The Guardian via Blizzard. READ HERE
ABOUT

Michael Davies and Roger Bennett believe that soccer is America’s Sport of the Future. As it has been since 1972. Visit MeninBlazers.com, “Like” us on Facebook, follow the show on Twitter and Instagram, or email us at MeninBlazers@gmail.com.
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