Sunday, December 27, 2020

Back To The Past

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

When I was covering the Detroit Lions back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, one of my favorite  rivalries was when they faced the Chicago Bears.

Whether it was at home or on the road, it was great seeing the history of this rivalry.

There were times when these two teams would clash in The Windy City during Christmas and I stayed at the Westin Hotel off Michigan Avenue. When they went to Chicago, I would go a couple days earlier to hang out at the bars, night clubs and see comedy clubs. The Christmas lights in Chicago were awesome.

When the Lions played Chicago at Soldier Field around Christmas, I would wear warm hiking boots, three pairs of socks, gloves and thermal underwear. When you’re standing on The Soldier Field Turf with the winds swirling off of Lake Michigan, it was brutal. 

Anytime I covered a game at Soldier Field was great because it was hard-nosed football outdoors.

I have to admit that I miss seeing the Bears having lived in Florida for 18 years. 

But on December 27, 2020, the Bears traveled to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Chicago comes to this area every eight years. The next time they’ll be here is 2028. 

By then, I’ll be collecting social security.

Going into the game, the Bears led the all-time series 4-3, although Jacksonville won the last meeting in 2016, 17-16.

There were no shortage of Bears fans in the stands. 

The Jacksonville fans were cheering for the Bears. There were chants, Let’s Go Bears. You could hear these chants for every sack and interception on Jaguars QB Mike Glennon as well as points scored. Glennon is a former Bear.

Jacksonville (1-13) was facing Chicago (7-7) and there were a three interesting storylines.

Former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson faced his old squad for the first time and caught 10 passes for 103 yards.

When the New York Jets defeated the LA Rams on December, 20, 2020, 23-20, Jacksonville had the rights to the No.1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

It seems likely they’ll take standout Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.

What made this game more interesting is that on Saturday Night, The San Francisco 49’ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 20-12 and now the Bears controlled their own destiny to get in the Playoffs.

Would this 49’ers gift propel the Bears to a win?

You bet. The Bears cruised to a 41-17 victory on a cool sunny day where there were no shortage of jackets. The temperature was 55 degrees at kickoff. 

My attire was a golf shirt, pair of slacks, one pair of socks and sneakers.

The Jaguars hung with the Bears trailing 13-10 at halftime.

After that, the wheels came off as Jacksonville was out scored 28-7 in the second half.

Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky led the way by going 24-35, 265 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 10 yards and a touchdown.

Running back David Montgomery had 23 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. TE Jimmy Graham had four receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

During the post game media availability, Coach Doug Marrone and Glennon weren’t bothered by the cheering the Bears were getting since Chicago Fans travel well. This game gave Bears Fans an opportunity to travel during the holidays. 

Although the Jaguars lost this game, they did get some good news as the New York Jets (2-13) defeated the Cleveland Browns 23-16, this enabled Jacksonville to secure the top pick in 2021. 

Jacksonville (1-15) went on to lose to the Indianapolis Colts 28-14 in Week 17. 

The Jaguars fired Coach Doug Marrone the following day then weeks later hired former Florida Gators Coach Urban Meyer to be his successor.

The Bears (8-8) lost their final game at home to the Green Bay Packers 35-16, but managed to get in the playoffs with help by the LA Rams, who defeated the Arizona Cardinals 18-7. 

The announced crowd was 17,445 fans and I felt this game was being played at Soldier Field South. For me it was Back To The Past and during The Holiday Season.

Going to see the Bears vs Jags turned out to be the same 4.5 hour drive. The route from Detroit to Chicago  is the same time, but it was I-94 West. To go to Jacksonville, it was I-95 North.

There is nothing wrong with going Back To The Past especially when the memories are great! 

Indeed that was the case, two days before my 58th Birthday on December 29th.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Lots Of Distance Between Jaguars And Titans

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The distance from Jacksonville, FL to Nashville, TN by car is 8:21 and 595.2 miles.

The distance between the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11) and Tennessee Titans (8-4) is longer when you consider that one team is tied for first place while the other is locked into last place.

Going into the game, these teams played 51 contests and Tennessee held a 31-21-0 advantage that includes a post season victory.

There were some interesting storylines entering into the contest.

During the week, Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew was begging for playing time. With the Jaguars trailing 31-3, Coach Doug Marrone benched starter Mike Glennon, who went 13-23 for 85 yards and one interception. 

Minshew took advantage of this opportunity. He provided a spark by going 18-31 for 178 yards and a touchdown. 

Will the locals be talking about Minshew Mania all week? 

I doubt it. 

He also demonstrated mobility by rushing for 22 yards on two carries.

The battle of two of the leagues best running backs featured Jaguars un-drafted stud James Robinson and Tennessee’s thoroughbred Derrick Henry. Going into the game, Robinson amassed 968 yards while his counterpart Henry had 1,317.

Robinson became the third rookie runner in franchise history to eclipse the 1,000 yard plateau by compiling 67 yards. The run which put him over the mark was a 47-yard carry. He also had 16 receiving yards.

As for Henry, he put on a clinic gaining 215 yards with 26 carries, two touchdowns for an 8.3 average. Henry had 15 carries for 122 yards at halftime. He also had seven yards receiving.

After the win against Jacksonville, Henry is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,532 yards and with three games to go has an outside shot at 2,000 yards, which his extremely impressive in a Covid-19 Season.

Balance was the key for the Titans as QB Ryan Tannehill was solid by going 19-24 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. One of his touchdowns came on a flea-flicker where he hit A.J Brown for a 37-yard score.

Tannehill continues to thrive in Coach Mike Vrabel’s offense as he now has now thrown for 28 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

When it was all said and done, the Titans cruised to a 31-10 win. The game seemed like an organized scrimmage with teams going in totally different directions. 

Tennessee out gained Jacksonville in total yards 454-354. The Titans out rushed Jacksonville 249–91 thanks to Henry’s performance. Tennessee led in first downs 25-20.

The Titans (9-4) appear to be headed to the playoffs while the Jaguars are closer two a top-two selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. There is a lot of distance between these two teams in many ways.

Things won’t get any easier for the Jaguars next week as they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens (7-5).

The Jaguars regular season home finale is on Sunday, December 27, 2020 against the Chicago Bears.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth and subscribe for free to SouthFloridaTribune You Tube Channel.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Tribute To Shila Morganroth

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

Thanksgiving weekends will never be the same.

On November 28, 2020 I lost My Mother Shila Morganroth as she died peacefully with My Father and I holding each hand. She passed away nine days before her 79th birthday. I have to admit, she lasted longer than I thought since she’s been battling with COPD for over a year. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 prevented my wife and I from getting to Michigan earlier this year, but thankfully, we had five quality days with her at the end of her life.

Here are some of the best ways to describe Shila Morganroth. She possessed a good sense of humor, loving, generous, had a huge heart, was a warrior, resilient, determined, polarizing, creative, innovative, strong minded, colorful, courageous and a family oriented person.

During the course of this tribute, I’m going to list my top 15 memories during my 58 years knowing this “One Of A Kind” Woman!

But before I do this, I want to go down memory lane for all the wrong reasons!

Smoking will kill you! 

My Grandfather Sidney Morganroth died of lung cancer at the age of 55 while I was 10 years old. My father proceeded to take his cigarettes and flushed them down the toilet. I vowed to never start this disgusting, expensive habit. Forty eight years later, I’m still a non-smoker and I married a non-smoker.

You don’t see commercials on television featuring tobacco products. NASCAR’s premier series used to be called the Winston Cup. It isn’t anymore.

Unfortunately, my mother was a smoker for many years. Being a resident of Florida, I’m thankful that the state has a law called “The Clean Air Act” which has now been adopted by many states. My father and I wouldn’t be subjected to second hand smoke while eating.

My mother would ultimately quit smoking. But the damage was done. She had a tremendous fighting spirit and beat cancer a couple of times.

Now that I’ve made a great case that smoking will kill you, now I want to go over the top 15 Memories with Shila Morganroth.

1. She was with me for the majority of my operations. But the ones that stood out was when I had one at the Mayo Clinic In Rochester, Minnesota., flew to take care of me while I was living in Tampa, Fla., and numerous surgeries in South Florida.

2. She closed down the family home improvement company by locking the front door, and gave an ultimatum to my father and brother demanding they give me an opportunity to sell for the company! They proceeded to get my sales supplies together and off I went. She said, “Scott will be one of the best salesmen you have.” I sold for many years and was determined to prove her right, then moved into administration.

3. When you’re in college, it’s hard for a college student to live in a large place. My first apartment was a 100 square foot efficiency in Hollywood, Fla. Eventually, I rented a 250 square foot room also in Hollywood, FL. My father never saw the first one and when he saw the second one, he didn’t like it. My mother said, “Mickey, this was a much better place than what he was in before. Trust me, this was an upgrade.” He accepted that explanation.

4. During that first apartment in Hollywood, Fla., the paint was peeling in the shower. My mother decided to paint the shower black. The landlord never gave me my $200 deposit back. I told my mother this but I said, your heart was in the right place. No worries, I love you.

5. As I mentioned, she believed I could be a productive salesperson. I was but when she saw me work in my passion as a broadcaster, she loved seeing me in my element. She would share my broadcasts in Social Media to her friends and family even if she didn’t know what she was watching.

6. On January 1, 2017, My wife and I got married at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My mother and father were skeptical about a wedding in a baseball stadium in the middle of the winter. We held the event at a restaurant in the ballpark called Fridays and what they learned was ballparks have more amenities and can be used year round. They left Miller Park with a lot of positive comments about our wedding and a new daughter-in-law that they love tremendously! My wife and I have been together for eight years and she’s at peace with this. 

7. Make no bones about it that my mother knew she had a bad sense of direction. We joked around about this a lot. As a son, I had to protect her and when we lived together in South Florida, I gave her an ultimatum that she better call me if she gets lost! I made this loud and clear! I told her make sure my number was in her speed dial. She would call me a lot and I kept her on the phone and made sure that she told me where she was until I was comfortable to hang up. I knew she appreciated it and I was at peace that she was safe. I enjoyed being her personal GPS!

8. One of the most comical moments we ever experienced together was when she had to renew her drivers  license at the Michigan Secretary of State. She had to take a written test and asked me to sit nearby. I obliged and she echoed to me about helping her on a couple of questions. She got caught and they asked me to move away. She passed the exam anyways and I told her don’t sell yourself short. We shared a great laugh and off we went.

9. My mother knew that I was a professional writer and when she needed help composing or editing her stories, I was glad to help her out as she was working on a project.

10. When it came to branding herself, she was tremendous and that rubbed off on me. She branded her name with a trademark in the hair industry. I followed suit by trademarking the “Motor City Mad Mouth” for broadcasting. Like mother, like son. Mother knows best in this case!

11. Shaded Hair Is Living Art (Shila) led me to come up with a slogan of my own, Sports Can Offer Tough Tasks (Scott). My mother couldn’t wait to get to the printer to make these business cards!

12. My Mother always loved seeing me interview and take pictures with the likes of iconic sports celebrities such as Tom Lasorda, Muhammad Ali and Tigers Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ernie Harwell.

13. We always joked around about her birthday being on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. She felt bad that so many people died on her first official day on the planet. But always took it in stride that nobody would ever forget her birthday. Indeed, it was easy to remember. Ironically, the last time the Detroit Lions won their last championship on December 29, 1957, five years before I was born. Yes, date association does work.

14. During the past year her declining health, Shila Morganroth was able to see the birth of another great grandson and made it to her 60th anniversary. My wife and I wanted to come numerous times during the pandemic, but my mothers protective personality persuaded us to stay home and not put ourselves at risk. I reluctantly went a long with this. Her warrior type spirit held out long enough so my wife and I could make the trek up I-75 North to be here for her final days.

15. One of my favorite phrases was every time she got sick, I would put on a straight poker face that said, “God Doesn’t Want You And The Devil Won’t Take You” and she was insulted by this initially. I laughed at her and told her to chill out and said, “That’s a problem we should all have, meaning that God wants you to live.” When I broke this down in this manner, she laughed and appreciated the humor.

When you sum up the life of Shila Morganroth, she is a “One Of A Kind Person” and everyone that met her is better because of it. I’m very proud that I am her son and am grateful to my father for allowing me to do her eulogy. I’m also thankful that my younger brother Lonny spared no expense making sure my parents had what they needed, whether it was top notch medical care, supplies, food, etc.

Finally, I’m very thankful to Lonny for finding a way to create a FaceTime Call so I could be a part of their 60th Wedding Anniversary!

When I come back home to Metro Detroit, I always make it a point to stop by Clover Hill Park Cemetery in Royal Oak, MI. My mother will be the latest stop on the cemetery victory tour as I pay respects to all the family members and friends who impacted my life.

RIP Mom! There is no more suffering and there is no doubt we will meet again! I love you very much and you’ll be heavily missed, however, your life lessons will be engraved in my brain!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth plus subscribe for free to his You Tube Channel/ South Florida Tribune.

Inter-Miami, Recap Before International Break

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH This is the time of the year in sports where we begin to hit that slower period where the NBA Finals are complete, the N...