I type with fingers that are overwhelmed by memory. Yesterday was the 14th Anniversary of Zidane’s headbutt of Marco Materazzi at the 2006 World Cup final. It was also the 14th anniversary of the first time I met Davo. I have told this story a couple of times. Yet, allow me to revel in it again, as amidst the darkness of lockdown, I have found it all so strangely overpowering.  

So, as Italy and France are lining up for kick-off with their wet hair gel glinting in the floodlights, I had no idea my life was about to change forever. As the game went to extra time, my wife said sharply, “Roger, we have to go.” We were headed to a wedding. She rarely calls me Roger. It is reserved for moments of extreme stress, akin to an emotional alarm bell. “It is the World Cup Final… the wedding will have to wait.” “Roger,” she said, “the wedding is on a boat. If we don’t go now, it will have left the dock without us.”

Retrospectively, I realize this moment must rank as the greatest testament of my love for my wife: Dumbstruck, I let her click off the television broadcast of the 2006 World Cup final and followed her, with a seething obedience. Being yanked away from the World Cup in a pre-smart phone era was devastating. Like a spaceman being cut off from their air supply mid-moon walk. I followed my wife in body, yet not in mind. By the time we boarded the boat, I was in a very, very dark place, surrounded by Americans who giddily celebrated the impending nuptials, completely unaware we had all missed one of the most psychologically fascinating finals ever. I attacked the bar with the fury Zidane had propelled his cranium into Materrazi’s midriff.

It was at the bar that I encountered a man whose countenance was worse than mine. His general disregard was like looking in the mirror. As he ordered a glass of Malbec, I heard his English accent. It was the plummy tone of a Southerner, but I still warmed to his demeanor.

“Are you furious not to be watching the World Cup final?” I ventured. “Furious enough to have contemplated sinking this boat,” he replied.

“I’m Rog,” I said holding out my hand.”

“Michael Davies,” he replied.

And this is how I met Davo. The man who my wife calls “my other wife.” The moral of the story is pretty obvious: If you are ever forced to leave a World Cup Final for a wedding you could not give two craps about, but which happens to be taking place on a boat, make every opportunity to drag yourself up that gangplank before the vessel departs. It might just change your life.

2. Men In Blazers keep smashing the Hits

i. We have a new project in partnership launching on Monday. Keep your ears tuned to our pod feed. Hibs and Hearts fans will likey. 

ii. WGFOP: The Bald flies today with deep dives into Spurs wanton acts of self-destruction, why defending is becoming a lost art in the Premier League, and who would win a bar fight between Wayne Rooney and Jonjo Shelvey vs. Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, and our Lord and Saviour CP. Keep your Calls Coming over the weekend: (646) 450 9472. They make us laugh so hard right now.  

3. To the Football

A. Glory Glory Manchester United. The goals continue to rain in as Ole’s squad extended their undefeated streak to 17 games. For neutrals, Manchester United are must-watch again. Not in the way they were in the recent past, when it was like tuning into NASCAR for crashes, but in anticipation of attacking play so eye-popping it demands to be savored. Bruno Fernandes will soon be canonized by the Old Trafford faithful. 18-year-old Mason Greenwood casually dispatched another piledriver, his eighth of the season, and already has Ole Gunnar urging him to “live life properly” to fulfill potential. The final strike, Bruno Fernandes to a clearly delighted Paul Pogba for his first goal since April 2019, is…United Fan Porn.

B. Tottenham Hotspur. Darkness on the Edge of Town. Jose Mourinho’s reputation for transforming teams now appears only to extend to his opposition. His Spurs were unable to muster even a single shot on goal against Moon Door-tumbling Bournemouth. A lethargic display that had Harry Kane’s highlight reel consisting only of defensive headers to clear set pieces inside his own penalty area. Bournemouth were cruelly unlucky to have a late winner VAR’d off for a freak handball. Heel Jose is back. To avoid having to talk to press post-game, Mourinho pretended that the Zoom technology was not working. When a journalist asked if the manager could hear him, he gruffly and hilariously answered “No” before storming off. Which Producers JW and Jordan re-edited into THIS.

ii. Miguel Delaney asks the big question: “When does a Manager become ‘Past It.’”

iii. Perfect timing for Amazon to release a trailer for their “Spurs: All or Nothing series.” Which promises to be 97% Nothing. 

C. Everton score goals like this roughly once a season. That Digne pass. The Richarlison First Touch. The Finish. When they do, it feels like everything in the world is going to be ok. It's obv not. But for one fleeting moment...

D. Liverpool fans. You can read this majestic “How ‘unrelenting’ Mohamed Salah continues to drive Liverpool on” piece, or I can tell you that it essentially amounts to “by running down the wing…”

ii. Bad News Though: Liverpool fear Jordan Henderson could miss start of next season. This sucks. But even from the bench, that man will bring the energy and heat of a thousand suns. 

E. American goalkeeper Zack Steffen will not be sent out on loan next season, and instead will be back-up to Ederson, replacing Claudio Bravo on the Manchester City Bench. A real achievement for the 25-year-old.

F. Champions League draw took place this morning and my Lord was it Lopsided. Manchester City must walk a gauntlet of fury to glory. They will play Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals, should they progress against Real Madrid. Their path to the final would then be blocked by Napoli, Barcelona, Chelsea or Bayern Munich.

G. Important Read: The (literal) pace at which the women’s game is changing. A 169-page physical analysis report produced by Dr Paul Bradley, a reader in sports performance at Liverpool John Moores University and a consultant for Barcelona, and England’s physical performance manager Dawn Scott found more distance was completed at much higher speeds in 2019 than at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

H. English football is exploring ways to have fans come back to stadia in limited, modified fashion next season. Limited capacity. No half-time toilets, no away fans. The number of programs that will be rolled up and peed through, old school-style. SMGDH. 

I. Chelsea release a video with every single touch Christian Pulisic has had since Premier League restart. You deserve this.

4. Real World. Yes, It Still Exists

i. David Beckham leads the way as men flock to “cottagecore” look grounded in “a more romanticised ideal of masculinity.” As someone who recently moved to what is considered “the countryside” outside of New York City, I understand this. As I type, I can hear the sound of cucumbers quietly growing in my back garden, which I will soon pickle and turn into a salad during the winter to come. Country Rog is a strange Rog.   
ii. NEW HOBBY ALERT! How to Raise Backyard Chickens: The Beginner's Guide. OK! OK! 
iii. The Aesthetics and Dark Side of the 1984 LA Olympics. Kind of a crazy read. Turns out when something looks like a Bladerunner panopticon of sport it also functions a little like a dystopia too. This is not the point of the article, but I love that one equestrian LA84 poster they show that is just a total ripoff of Picasso’s Guernica. 
iv. The eerie beauty of Britain's deserted playgrounds. Proof of a truth, there is breathtaking wonder all around us if you know where to look. 
v. Record Shops Sell a Hands-on Experience. Now They're Adapting to a Hands-off World. Great Record Stores and Great Book Stores. Two of life's great pleasures. I miss them both SO MUCH. May they return soon. 
vi. For Bird Lovers: 10 Inspiring Photos, Winners Of Audubon Photography Awards 2020. Breathtaking and guaranteed to lift your spirits. Though HOW DID MY TRAILBLAZING PHOTO OF THE NAPKIN BIRD NOT WIN AN AWARD? WTF? 

That is it for this week. I will end with this piece of wonder: The Political Education of Killer Mike. All-time great MiB guest. And the Mike Mike Dean thinks he is. Like all of us, Michael Render is a complex bloke, “a mix of ideas, beliefs, and styles all competing in one large body,” but I respect and revere his belief in “The Atlanta Way.” I will leave you with this quote: 
“Mike is amazed when he considers his unlikely ascent. ‘I'm the son of a fucking 16-year-old girl who they wanted to push out of school because she was pregnant and a ‘bad example’ to the other girls,’ he says. ‘I ended up being taught by the same teachers that taught her at Frederick Douglass High School; attended Morehouse; left to become a rapper; ended up becoming a rapper; have all along been active as an organizer, a mobilizer; and learned how to be a businessman on the way...Where the fuck does that happen at? That's an Iceberg Slim book. That's a goddamn BET movie. But that's for real, you know, that's for real. So I got to believe everything is possible. I've got to.’” 
Amen, Killer Mike. Amen.
Keep 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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