Nick's Knacks Nick's Knacks

  • I just don't get it

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This morning I returned to work following my longest consecutive days off stretch since my honeymoon in the summer of 2006.  A lot has changed for me in that time, namely a (now very mobile) 9-month old daughter.  But this much has remained consistent: I really like being home.

    I want to preface anything that follows with the following: I genuinely enjoy my job.

    That’s not a fabrication.  I do enjoy my job.  But c’mon now, let’s be honest with ourselves.  There’s intention behind our Powerball participation.  No matter how rewarding, no matter how enjoyable, there’s a reason it’s called work.  And if we could hit that jackpot, we’d hang up our cleats in a heartbeat – travel the world, buy that property with bathrooms in excess and a hot tub on the deck, collect classic cars…coach our kid’s little league team. 

    We spend our entire lives working for the prospect of some day not working.  It’s rather ironic really, a satire that seems to be lost on countless NFLers every year about this time as coaches are canned and aging presences contemplate retirement vs. return. 

    I don’t have a problem with guys like Andy Reid and Norv Turner and fill-in-the-blank with a dude who should be able to fade away without financial concern for wanting to continue working.  I don’t have a problem with a guy like Mike Holmgren throwing himself back into the mix to again take up a team’s reigns.  I don’t have a problem with it.  I just don’t get it. 

    Ray Lewis has stated that this is his last hurrah.  He will retire following what I predict will be his team’s first-round exit in the post-season.  Yet to be determined is the sincerity in Lewis’ remarks – a motivational ploy or a declaration in earnest?  We shall see.  I hope it is the latter.  I hope that he can prove an example (speaking of irony). 

    I think the toughest hurdle to retirement for professional sports figures is the feeling of identity lost.  For those who find that obstacle insurmountable, it’s truly an issue of perspective lost.  The job is not merely what they do…it’s who they are…it’s how they define themselves.  It’s a not so fine line that lends itself to tragic endings – as simple as the subpar stat line of the athlete who stays one campaign too long - as complex as a marriage lost to the hours and stress, a nonexistent relationship with a child, a suicide. 

    Like I said, I don’t have a problem with these guys wanting to work.  I just don’t get what is so horrible about being home.

  • Another title for Green Bay

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    When it comes to sports in Wisconsin, tailgating is simply part of the experience.  There exists a seamless flow from pre to game to post that, I think, catches visitors off-guard.  It is so routine to us that we don’t give it a second thought.  But travel to other venues and you swiftly discover that few, if any, do it bigger or better than Wisconsinites on game day.

    Paul Pabst of the Dan Patrick Show visited Lambeau field for the first time this season and discovered just that, as he crowned Green Bay the 2012 Dan Patrick Grillseekers Challenge champion:

    Congrats to all Packers fans and a massive thank you to Paul for capturing a true Lambeau Field experience, sans the attention harlots who always, so predictably, appear whenever a camera is around. 

  • Atta girl, Brianna

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Winter storm/blizzard Brianna packed (is still packing) a solid wallop today.  Unfortunately, per meteorologist Pete Petoniak at Fox 11, El Nino had nothing to do with her.  Too bad.  Of course, either way, I was going to post this to the blog.  One of Chris Farley's best:



  • And boom goes the dynamite

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    We have had the pleasure of interviewing Suzy Favor-Hamilton many times on our program.  I had the pleasure of interviewing her one-on-one, in person, a number of years ago.  She was a sports hero of mine, though my admiration for her transcended that arena into real life.  I have always respected her for her openness and her transparency in all things her life.  She refreshingly spoke of her flaws in a manner that made her super-human, for few of us invite the world into the deepest and darkest recesses of our beings.  I once wrote of her, on this blog:

    Suzy Favor-Hamilton is as classy as you can get - an Olympic athlete who struggled with depression and self-confidence her entire life, took a fall in Sydney when the pressure to succeed and the weight of potential failure literally rode her to the track, and not an excuse from her lips offered.  She has owned her story, and has emerged victorious in life as a result.

    Just minutes ago, another chapter of her story surfaced on The Smoking Gun’s website.  It looks like they've done their homework, so to speak, and have published this with the utmost confidence in their facts, complete with reported quotes from Suzy herself, acknowledging those facts.

    Not that I (or anyone) deserve to “truly” know her any more than she cares to reveal, but it is precisely Suzy Favor-Hamilton's gracious invitation to do precisely that, it is her capitalization on precisely that, that makes this revelation a colossal betrayal.

    The story is HERE

  • Yep, that was our mascot

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This week, my buddy Greg shot me a text-pic of the latest additions to his home bar…top shelf, far right.  Well, not far right, that’s a Yellow Pages.  Far right in the glasses category:

    I don’t expect that to mean a whole lot to anyone who is not an alumnus of Wauwatosa East High School.  In fact, it may not mean much to those who attended Wauwatosa East High School after 1994.  I have spoken on-air of him, the guy on the glass, many times.  His name is Tommy Raider, and he was, for good reason, unceremoniously retired in 1994.  Here’s a clearer picture for ya:

    Yep, that was our mascot.

    I often speak of the things that I cannot believe have happened in the lifetimes of those who still walk this planet.  This is one of those things.

    Back when I was a high schooler, I didn’t give Tommy Raider a second thought.  He was just a mean lookin’ warrior guy around whom we would rally on game day.  And even now I can look at him and say, “Dang, the dude is pretty bad a*s.”  Of course, the overriding truth is that Tommy Raider, though bad a*s and mean lookin’ and a symbol of ferocity and therein a source of pride for all who perform under him, is heinously offensive!  It may very well be the most offensive mascot ever.

    Tommy Raider was not only perched atop the gymnasium and plastered on apparel – yes, students and administrators alike used to wear that guy – there was a time when he would roam the sidelines in costumed glory.  In fact, he had a little lady friend, all dolled up in buckskin fringe, who would dance around prior to the game and get the fans all fired up.

    Yep, that happened.

    Once Tommy Raider was eliminated, Tosa East suffered a bit of an identity crisis, sampling a number of symbols, ranging from a big block red W to an arrowhead with some feathers.  At present, my alma mater sports a shield with menacing T-E lettering, pierced by a pair of swords:

    I’m definitely down with that look, but like my friend Greg, my heart will always harbor a pocket of kinship with ol’ Tommy Raider, for he was the mascot of my school, and he was designed with noble intentions.  Of course, noble intentions is not a legitimate roadblock to change.  That dude had to go.  


  • Who is this Aaron Rodgers guy?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    It’s 12-12-12 and everybody is all “Happy Aaron Rodgers Day!”  I don’t know.  I don’t get it:

    Now you photoshopping types get busy on a photo of TJ Rubley!

  • ESPN hits another HR

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    They were first and they did it the biggest, so they will forever receive the majority’s nod as the best, or at least the go-to.  Today, I think ESPN falls short of several other options as both a media and an entertainment outlet.  But in one category, they are still the king…promotional commercials.

    ESPN’s promotion department is simply brilliant.  They write well and they deliver the scripts every time.  I cannot recall a single campaign launched by ESPN that didn’t hit home, with me anyway.  Throughout Saturday’s Heisman trophy presentation broadcast, they hit us with more from one of their latest pieces of brilliance, the "Heisman House" series.

    Here are a few from that collection that I cannot stop watching:

  • The turducken of pastry!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    One of the great appeals of Thanksgiving is the anticipation.  For the most part, we all know what we’re getting into: a golden brown turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, a vegetable (optional, really…let’s be honest), some kind of bread, pecan or pumpkin pie…and pass the gravy boat ‘cause I’m treatin’ the whole works, with the exception of the pie, like Walter Cunningham Jr. wields the molasses.

    There is no reason to mess with the traditional Thanksgiving set-up.  Wow, don’t mess with it, that seems like a theme for this blog as of late (see “How do you like your banner spangled?”)  

    Anyway, as I was saying, I think Thanksgiving is pretty much best left alone.  Just dance with the one who brung ya all those years ago, pilgrim.  But that’s not to say that I’m against innovation and culinary risk.  Provided the old reliables are present, I don’t mind a few off–custom options.

    This is one that I simply must try.  It’s called the Pumpple Cake.  It’s made by Flying Monkey Bakery in Philadelphia and their website describes it as: Apple and Pumpkin Pies baked inside vanilla and chocolate cakes covered with vanilla buttercream.

    It’s the turducken of pastry!

    Nicky likey.



    But here’s the rub - they don’t ship the Pumpple.  Nooooooooooo!!!  FAQ #1 on the site:

    1. Can you ship the Pumpple cake? I live somewhere far away and would really like one for an upcoming party.

    Sorry, but we are unable to ship the Pumpple cake at this time, and this isn’t likely to change any time soon. We devote many hours of time and patience to crafting each cake and customers pay good money to receive one. The idea of our precious cake flying through the air and arriving at your house in less than stellar condition does not jive with our commitment to quality products.

    All right.  I get the craftsmanship and the pride in the work deal.  I really do.  But this is not one of those instances when I am looking to eat with my eyes.  I couldn't care less in what shape this baby arrives.  I just have to have it.

    So I guess we’re either road tripping to Philly or somebody who is heading to Philly needs to hook a brother up!  Anyone...anyone...Bueller?

  • Eric rides a horse!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    So how many packages of little horsey figurines and horse drawings and horse photos are going to begin arriving to Kansas City Chiefs team headquarters addressed to one Eric Berry?  The possibilities for heckling on so many levels are endless. 

    For those who believe these guys are overpaid for playing a game, remember this…their lives are out there for all to unwrap and, in some cases, exploit.  This dude has a legitimate phobia, and though the audio is hilarious and the fallout (in terms of how opposing fans and even teams will take it to this guy) will certainly prove equally entertaining, this might literally be Eric Berry’s worst nightmare.

    But dang…the audio is really funny! 


  • How do you like your banner spangled?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    There isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Whitney Houston’s performance prior to Super Bowl XXV is widely regarded as the standard:  

    For most, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the one thing you just don’t mess with.  My grandfather used to say, “There’s no reason to do all that crap to that song.  Just sing it the way it’s composed.”  I think most feel that way, and I think it stems from a basic principle – “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a tribute to our country, for what we stand, and to all who have taken and continue to take the oath to defend it.  It’s not about the performer.  Hubris knows few equals than he who uses that pre-game platform to showcase his own talents. 

    But I have to admit that I do not mind the individual who chooses to take our anthem to another level, who is inspired to go somewhere few would dare venture.  Now I’m not talking about breaking this off prior to a Brewers-Reds game in July, but comedian Daniel Tosh (who is fantastic, by the way) once remarked, “No one has the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ on their iPod.”  I know I don’t, but pretty soon this version will be: