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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers which have lived for 49 days without football. Seven weeks of lockdown have come to an end. Seven weeks of daily newsletters. You lot are resilient af. How much of our crap musings about apartments for cats, Nigels, and Tracy Chapman can you truly be expected to survive being thrown at you? 

One thing I have thought a lot about since talking so epically with the iconic Kenny Loggins of Sports, Bob Ley, is that so many of the experiences we have been forced into through desperation or “needs must” have become true joys that we will carry through with us to become lifelong wonders in post-pandemic life. Bob talked about how the NFL draft will forever be changed after last week’s Jennifer Convertibles-fueled, home-based wonder. So many journalists are marveling at the realization they no longer need to charge cross-country to attend press conferences they can merely Zoom into. I have been savoring a sanity-preserving early morning walk on the regs with my wife, which I hope to take forever. My point is this: There is so much darkness about pandemic life. So much suffering. But take a minute also to focus on the fleeting positives you have identified, that have become additive and life-enriching. Good habits, new rituals, or passions that have shattered ill-judged norms or conventionalities of your Old World. I would genuinely love to hear what yours are, because we need to commit to carrying them through together. We can do this. Let’s Win The Day. WTD People!


2. Here is a gift. After yesterday’s conversation about the best Liverpool bands of All-Time (who knew there were still so many Frankie Goes to Hollywood fans?) A Spotify playlist that reflects the feeling I had growing up there as a kid: That Liverpool is the Center of the Musical World.


3. #PLLookALikeContest, Presented by Jagermeister
Entries continue to pour in for our contest calling for Americans who resemble our favorite characters in English football. Spurs have been well represented this week with very strong Harry Kane and Super Jan entries. Keep them coming, people. If you look like a footballer. If your friend looks like a footballer. If your friend’s friend looks like Mike Dean. We want to see it. EMAIL entries HERE or send to us via social using #PLLookALike Contest. 


3.5 Men in Blazers News and Notes

a. We have an episode of WGFOP The Bald flying this afternoon. Call us 646 450-9472. 

b. GFOP Happy Hour is back. Today at 4:30 p.m. ET. First 10 people to email us using THIS LINK, including your hometown and favorite club, will get to raise a Beer and a Deer (Bud and a Jagermeister) with Roger today. We will notify all entrants by noon. 

c. The art auction featuring Seattle Sounders Goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s portrait of Rog and Rog’s portrait of Stefan’s ENDS TOMORROW. All proceeds go to small businesses and food banks in the Seattle-area that have been impacted by COVID. BID HERE

e. Brace yourself for next week. Going to be a belter. Save the Time: Wednesday Budweiser Happy Hour  6:30 p.m. ET on Insta Live… 😉🇺🇸🍻
 

4. To the Football. Today was the day of days. The four-hour meeting o’ The Premier League Five Families began to flesh out the nattily-monikered “Project Restart” beyond just the name. This was the day in which the powers that be forced themselves to think deeper than the emotional response towards the question of “Do we want football back?” which of course, to paraphrase a line that Larkin used to describe the feeling of love falling upon him, is “an enormous Yes.” The good news is: clubs remain determined to finish the season - as long as there is government approval. The date etched for return is June 12. This morning’s meeting was one for the Premier League brains in a bottle to move towards actual details of how and what that would look like logistically, visually, medically and morally. 

Behold! The Premier League unleashed a seven-page memo detailing new protocols ranging from players being tested twice a week, cones and corner flags being disinfected before and after use by staff wearing personal protective equipment, and most controversially of all: players’ Lambos having to be parked three spaces apart in the club lot. Players would also have to pass a COVID-19 antigen test in the 48 hours before group training. To that end, clubs are investing in $50,000 COVID-testing machines that can pump out results in two and a half hours and test up to seven players a day. A life hack in a nation in which testing is still a gaping hole in the safety net. 

The issue of where the games will take place remains an enormous sticking point. Many clubs stood against the usage of neutral grounds like Wembley for fear that losing home advantage will destroy the sporting integrity of the league. Yet it appears that the Police’s desire to minimize the number of venues used, and ensure they are not in congested urban areas, will restrict matches to a handful of venues such as West Ham’s London Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates and City’s Etihad, which, while they are in cities, are not in jam-packed town centers. Word has it that no club will be allowed to play in their own own home ground in a bid to equalise the unprecedented scenario. The clubs will meet again next Friday, which will occur 24 hours after the British governement’s next lockdown announcement.

Earlier, Gary Neville declared his belief the season should finish in another country, without specifying where (not you, Florida.) I am waiting for that Pentagon’s UFO to turn out to be a football-mad envoy from another planet offering their lunar surface as the ideal venue to save the day. Then all this madness will neatly tie together.

b. What is driving all of this? This piece by David Hytner spells out the major fear: that the global broadcasters will demand their money back, which may upend the Premier League business model, because of a worst-case scenario in which they would seek to recoup the full value of their contracts for the season rather than a pro rata refund based on matches unplayed. This would be based on the argument that an incomplete competition would be wholly devalued – a little like Wimbledon being halted in the quarter-finals. At the very least, there is a well understood theory in the broadcast industry that games have different values, with those at the end of a season often more significant and valuable than some at the start.

c. One detail that was not factored in today? The players and their desire to place themselves at risk for our delight and vast sums of financial remuneration. Kun Aguero appeared on Argentinian television yesterday and voiced a genuine fear that exists amongst the athletes, saying, “The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies. When we go back, I imagine that we will be very tense, we will be very careful and the moment someone feels ill, you will think: ‘What’s gone on there?’ It does scare me.”

d. Let’s end this section with some upbeat news. Gunnersaurus is alive and well. And watching him clap health workers outside his home is the energy that is going to get us all through the weekend 


5. More Football. In the Face.

i. Bundesliga’s start has been pushed for at least a week. I will have to wait seven more days before seeing my beloved Schalke take the field once more. Thank you GFOP @pholderjackson for the tip.

ii. Liverpool’s Mayor announced his belief the season should end now for fear Reds fans will congregate outside Anfield to celebrate Jürgen Klopp’s team winning the title and spark a citywide COVID-Disaster. The memory of Liverpool’s Champions League match against Atlético Madrid on 11th March, in which 3,000 Spanish fans broke partial lockdown to travel to Merseyside acting as a super-spreading vector is still fresh. Liverpool FC expressed their dismay at the mayor’s statement.  

iii. Relegated French side Amiens are mulling a lawsuit after they were shown the moon-door from the top-flight despite the suspended season still having 10 games left to play.

iv. A history of women’s Soccer in the Bay Area: Chastain! CyberRays! Sissi! Kelley and Alli! PS I love the Oakland Roots.

v. Is Chicago Red Stars new kit a contender for best American shirt all-time? If not, what tops it (other than Colorado Caribou, obvs)?


6. Non-Football. What’s a Matter, You?

i. He just turned 100. How Captain Tom became a global hero in a world in need and raised $40 million in the process. This man could not be more inspiring.
 
ii. U.S. Library of Congress builds royalty-free hip-hop sampling site. News that would have made King Rog Rock very happy back in the day.
 
iii. The Age of the Snack Supper. 2020. The year Potato chips finally count as dinner.
 
iv. How to shave your beard at home tutorial, aka "A four step guide on getting the attention of Burnley Scouts." 

v. “Billions” is back on Sunday with Season Five. It’s not sports, but it’s not Nothing. And remember: Always be Lonnie. 

vi. People Have Gone Full 1800s. In the midst of quarantine, flower pressing, natural dyeing and other activities from Victorian times have made a comeback. These all sound like hobbies my Dad had when I was growing up tbh.

vii. We’ve reached the American Cheese Nacho phase of quarantine. It doesn’t have to be like that, people. Check out our #MiBQuarantineCookbook HERE, recipes from GFOPs around the country. Keep them coming, people. 


Let’s end with a theme that brings meaning to everyone. More Nigels. Thanks to GFOP Dario Fucich for sending in this piece which will bring joy to your heart: The story of “Nigel, the world’s loneliest bird, who died next to the concrete decoy he loved.” The article tells the achingly heartbreaking tale of Nigel, “a handsome gannet bird who lived on a desolate island off the coast of New Zealand. The bird was lured to Mana Island three years ago by wildlife officials who, in hopes of establishing a gannet colony there, had placed concrete gannet decoys on cliff-sides and broadcast the sound of the species’ calls. Nigel accepted the invitation, arriving in 2015 as the island’s first gannet in 40 years. But none of his brethren joined him. In the absence of a living love interest, Nigel became enamored with one of the 80 faux birds. He built her — it? — a nest. He groomed her chilly, concrete feathers…  year after year after year, and died next to her in that unrequited love nest, the vibrant orange-yellow plumage of his head contrasting, as ever, with the weathered, lemony paint of hers.” 

I love this story so much. I love the detail that Ornithologists gave Nigel the nickname “No Mates.” Which seems kind of redundant to me, as that quality is essentially implied by the name Nigel in the first place. But more than anything, I revere Nigel’s tenacity in the face of struggle. Determination and commitment to the cause. All of which I find inspiring.  Let’s commit to honoring Nigel No-Mates the Handsome Gannet’s memory by channeling his spirit. May we all live with purpose, and die in love.  Even if that love is with a concrete decoy. A feeling all Everton fans, upon reflection, will admit they know all too well.

I will be back Monday. Keep sending us your Ravens and Calls. 

Remember, if you enjoy this newsletter, please encourage your friends, family, and concrete decoy lovers to subscribe here and keep it going.

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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