The Town Mile NFL Draft Podcast

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It’s Friday! The best day of the week! Why not get started with the Town Mile Podcast #11 to kickoff the weekend?!?! We hit the record button last night during the draft to provide our semi-kind of/maybe a little bit/probably not so knowledgeable commentary of the first round picks as they happened. Because you know what? You just don’t know how any of these young dudes are going to pan out. To prove that, we discussed four Chicago Bear picks in the last 20 years that I was 1000% sure were going to just be awesome. Starting with their ’98 top pick Cade McNown. Cade unfortunately did not turn out awesome.

Have a great weekend!

The moment in Düsseldorf when we finally heard Iron Maiden

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August 2011. I had recently made a pilgrimage to Germany, one that would end up being a life-changing move: I met my wonderful wife, cemented a lifetime of amazing friends, had my eyes opened to European culture, the whole nine yards.

After spending the first 3 months in Berlin, I finally arrived to my destination city that would become my home for the next two years: Düsseldorf, Germany. I walked through the center heart of the city on that first afternoon to what is called the Altstadt. The Altstadt is over a mile stretch of bars, restaurant, clubs, food, you name it. It’s one of those places where no matter what night you go there, it always feels like Saturday night every time.

There were so many places that were just rocking, and what really stood out that first walk through was how loud bars on the Düsseldorf Altstadt crank their music. I mean CRANK THEIR MUSIC, probably to absolute maximum volume. What I took away from it is that it must be the patrons way to lure people in. I can say for myself that it worked, because the first time I ever walked through the center of the Altstadt I passed one place in particular that was playing “The Number Of The Beast” by Iron Maiden as loud as I had ever heard it in my life.

“Holy s*#t, that’s Maiden!” is what I said to Justin Ross and Margarita Richards, who were with me at the time. I could see on their faces they weren’t interested in venturing in. So unfortunately that day we did not.

I had been trying to get into Iron Maiden for several years at that point. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but for a South Dakota metal kid who grew up on the polished and menacing Metallica crunch it was always different when I tried Maiden. It’s not the same kind of catchy. It’s something completely different.

Fast-forward 1.5 years. My family had flown in from South Dakota to visit, and we were having an epic time. My cousin Chris (our guest on TM Podcast #4) and I were walking through the Altstadt. We were taking it all in when lo and behold, the exact aforementioned place started cranking the hell out of the Iron Maiden track “Run To The Hills”. Chris and I wasted no time immediately entering this place where this sound was coming from. We entered without even thinking there was a choice. We belonged there.

Now if you’ve never heard “Run To The Hills”, it’s basically about the Native Americans trying to elude white settlers. I can heavily dive into this topic at another time, but what Iron Maiden has done in writing this epic song is hit on the head exactly what Native Americans went through at that time. They were escaping for safety by running to the hills, running for their lives.

Now inside the bar, Chris and I were completely blown away. Not just by the song, but by each and every person in this pub not saying a word other than screaming along to every lyric of Run To The Hills. We were sucked in, and embracing the sound along with them. Suddenly it made perfect sense to the Maidenth degree, the high-pitch octave vocals of Bruce Dickinson’s plea:

“RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN TOOOOOOOOOOO THAAAAAAAAA HIIIIIIIIIIIIIILS!!!”

I thought to myself with chills on the back of my neck: “Wow. Iron Maiden is loved in Deutschland.” 

It was pretty epic. The entire bar was packed, and every single occupant lived and breathed and moved to every sound of Run To The Hills. I’m confident there were some in the bar that didn’t even speak English, but they knew every single word. It was intense, and people were fired up.

With that I completely understood the awesome power of the sound of Iron Maiden. The vocals never again sounded too high-pitched, the guitars never again didn’t sound polished. The songs never again weren’t anything but powerful. It was almost as if this song belonged in an opera, it’s that dynamic.

To paraphrase our dear friend Eddie Vedder:

“We were absolutely blown away by the power of the sound, and by those who were making it.”

Fast forward again a few years later to last summer, when Chris and I went to see Maiden in Philadelphia–thanks to a generous gift from my mother-in-law! To prepare for this show, Chris and I really took an ultimate deep-dive into Maiden’s entire catalog: which in itself is no small task. With a total of 16 studio albums, Maiden has created an unprecedented body of metal work. Chris especially embraced and studied each show of this tour, which supported Maiden’s newest release: “The Book Of Souls.” He knew Maidens current setlist on the tour inside and out and was as prepared as any proper chap could be for what we would be seeing at Wells Fargo Center that night.

The show was indeed a marvelous time, starting from a tailgate which featured eight and nine year olds playing a live metal set in the parking lot. (This is true, they were called ‘Mantis’ and they really crushed it: playing long metal anthems such as Maiden’s “Hallow Be Thy Name” to Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”).

Once inside, sure enough it was the exact set that Chris had been preparing for. One thing that struck both of us was how much humor was involved among the members of the group. Chris had the perfect description when he said it was almost like a Monty Python sketch. They had fun, they rocked, they laughed, they posed, they waved Union Jack, and on several occasions Bruce pleaded to the Philadelphia audience with his signature phrase:

“SCREAM FOR ME, PHILADELPHIA!!!!!!”

We certainly did. I had the hoarse voice the next day to prove it.

It was as if those German comrades years before in that loud metal bar in the Düsseldorf Altstadt were right all along. I’m honored that Chris and I were lucky enough to get in on their treasured metal gift.

That moment we heard Run To The Hills in that bar was real, it was intense, and it stands out as one of the sentinel moments of my German and European experience. Sound silly? Maybe. But don’t tell that to those dear patrons in that bar. Or the hundred million Maiden fans around the globe.

 

UP THE IRONS!!

 

 

 

 

The Town Mile Podcast #10: Anniversary Edition!

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The Town Mile Podcast is now 10 episodes deep! Great to get the band back together for a Friday kick-off to get caught up on all things Sixers, Opening Day, and the upcoming Creed 2 film.

Got a drive-time commute this morning?! Fire it up! It’s time for Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

The Town Mile Podcast #9: The 30 for 30 Episode

Happy freakin’ Saturday! It’s weekend time! Last night we recorded our 9th episode, Matt had the idea of discussing the ESPN 30 for 30 film series and rating our top 3 favorites. We also plugged a couple honorable mentions in there just for the heck of it. Got some free time this weekend? Road tripping somewhere? Fire it up! Thanks and have a great weekend.

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The Town Mile Podcast #8: Money Mike Miller and Matt Forte

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Happy Friday to the good Lads! The Town Mile Podcast #8 is fresh out of the frying pan for a brand-new Friday edition. It may be blowing and snowing like crazy outside in Philly, but it’s toasty warm in here and we’ve got topics from Money Mike Miller to Matt Forte’s career to cover (and a pic collage from our good friends at Pic Collage). Let ‘er rip and have an awesome weekend!

The Town Mile Podcast #7: The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles!

To the city of Philadelphia: It happened, it’s real: Your Eagles are the Champions. Finally tonight, we’re able to take the time and reflect on an incredible last two weeks in South Philadelphia. Our boy Jason Kelce has been down with Matt since day one. And now Jason Kelce is forever a Philadelphia Icon. What a time! What a week! Whew, enjoy it. Keep it rolling.

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The Town Mile Podcast #6: A Tale Of Two Bowls

Good Saturday morning, The Town Mile Podcast #6 is fresh out of the oven: Last night our main man Skin and Bones joined us to discuss two upcoming Bowls and the NFC Champion Birds!! Huge Thanks to Breandan Lyman for giving us his Philly Food Knowledge, the Wing Bowl veteran comes through big for us. As the Great Wayne Campbell said: “It’s Friday, it’s 9:30, and it’s time to party….”

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The Town Mile Podcast #5: NFC Championship Game Preview

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Tonight we recorded the latest episode of The Town Mile podcast. IT’S ON!!!!! 2 physical, classic throwback NFC teams are about to throw down this Sunday. **Matt would like correct the name Jeff Schwartz to mean he meant to say Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. We sometimes fact-check on the Town Mile.**

What I learned about the Chicago Bears from watching Olin Kreutz

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The NFL Playoffs have started. Which means it’s the end of the 2017 Chicago Bears campaign, and that’s not a bad thing by any means. Yet another toilet season for a franchise that has given me such a tremendous amount of pride for so many years. In fact a couple Friday’s ago at Reading Terminal in Philadelphia my buddy Brett and I saw Bruce Arians walk by, and he politely waved back to our “How ya doing, Coach!?” greeting to him.

Then a moment later all I could think about was that Da Bears hired Marc Trestman in 2012 instead of Bruce Arians. Trestman then went on to lead the team straight into their current place directly in the bottom of the toilet. And the team has now lost 11 or more games for three consecutive years.

The truth is before Trestman arrived, I was so puffy-chested regarding the Chicago Bears that I couldn’t contain myself each and every game day.

And why wouldn’t I have my chest out? Every since I was a kid, Da Bears played a tough brand of football. Tough defense. Physical running game. Good special teams. Great tackling. Solid offensive line play. Signature Bears ball! The peak year 1985 story has been told so many times that at this point I can’t help but think it has hung over the franchise like a grey cloud that nothing short of another Lombardi will make it go away. Unfortunately, winning is not that easy.

Truth is, starting in about 1990 is when the love affair with those tough Bears teams really started for me. I’m talking a tough defense and the brand of smash mouth football that featured the likes of the great Neal Anderson, Trace Armstrong, Mike Singletary, James “Robo Cop” Thorton, and Jim Harbaugh long before he was a head coach.

When my parents brought home a VCR in late December of 1990, the first thing I recorded was the Bears NFC Wild Card Playoff game from Soldier Field vs. the Saints. Da Bears won 16-6. If a 16-6 score win for those Bears teams isn’t the most perfect score there is, I’m not sure what would be. Great defense, not much offense, and a couple of field goals and that gets the job done against teams like the 8-8 ’90 Saints. But the next week against the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Football Giants didn’t yield the same result.

But I loved how those January Soldier Field games looked on television back when Soldier was one level before the remodel. Ice cold frozen grass turf and cold breath of “smoke” coming out of each face mask. It was a perfect image that was etched in my 10-year-old mind, and has stayed there to this day.

Fast-forward to 2000, the franchise drafted a guy named Brian Urlacher from The University of New Mexico. Little did I know at the time he would end up being one of the great players in modern Bears history. He transcended what it meant to play middle linebacker. He had an incredible combination of power and speed and covered so much ground with reckless abandon that an Oct. 2006 ESPN The Mag column by Rachel Nichols noted that “For opposing offenses, the middle of the field is not even an option.” My hopes are that he’s enshrined in Canton as a first ballot this year. He was a spectacular linebacker for so many seasons, and along with linebacker teammate Lance Briggs were so good that my chest was at peak stick-out from 2005-2011. I’m so proud of that 2006 team to this day.

But as I’ve gotten older, the more I’ve realized that the biggest badass of the 1998-2010 era Bears is without question Olin Kreutz. Olin played center for 12 years. He made six Pro Bowls, 2 All-Pro Teams and was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade team. Read anything about the leaders of those teams, and every guy in that locker room has noted that Kruetz was the leader of that squad.

I know what you’re thinking. How could a center possibly be the most important dude? I get it. The National Football League has gone through a significant transition in the recent decade. For safety reasons, the hitting isn’t the same. It’s all about big plays on offense, touchdowns, end-zone celebrations, need a quarterback to have a chance to make a playoff run.

But you also need a guy like Kreutz anchoring an offensive line. And doing the small things that relatively go unnoticed. Here’s a few takeaways and learning’s from watching Kreutz play in Chicago for 12 seasons:

  1. Get ready to play

In December of 2009 I saw a meaningless early December Soldier Field game against the St. Louis Rams. My Dad and I got there plenty early to get “warmed” up on Miller Lites and were taking a lap around inside of Soldier to take it all in. It was early enough that hardly any players were on the field yet. The temp on the field was 24 degrees, went up to 26 by kickoff. Suddenly we both noticed one guy warming up and crouched, pretending to snap a football and take quick and squatted steps forward. He did this over and over and over again. He did this without a ball, and there was nobody else around him. He was at the corner of the Bears end zone. There was literally no one else inside the box.

“Look at this f*#@$ng guy,” I said to my dad.

The guy pretending to snap the ball and take steps forward was Olin Kreutz. He was wearing just shorts and a tee-shirt. Kreutz was born in Honolulu. Don’t think it’s ever 24 degrees there. Look at this guy. My Dad and I had at least 3 layers on each. And the Bears starting center had on shorts and a tee shirt. Either he was completely insane, or it’s a mindset of repetition and preparation. I’ll go with the latter.

Just study the pic above. You’ve got Kyle Orton with sleeves, and hands tucked into hand warmers during what appears to be a freezing cold game. Even the ball looks cold. Then you’ve got #57 Kreutz with elbow pads and gloves with bare-arms, as if to say: ‘I’m good, let’s get after it.’

 

2. Protect your friends

So many times during NFL games you see a fight/shoving match/punches thrown/etc. If Olin was near, and he saw a teammate get shoved: he was the first guy there to shove back and pick up a teammate. It had nothing to do with being dirty, it had everything to do with backing up a teammate and defending him. Olin Kreutz defined this to each teammate, every damn game. It also helps to be a State Champion Heavyweight wrestler, which Olin was in Hawaii.

 

3. Speak up!

It has been well documented the number of times Kreutz addressed his Bear teammates in the locker room. One of them was at halftime during the 2006 comeback win vs. Arizona. The ’06 Bears won the NFC Championship, and went on to lose Super Bowl XLI to Indianapolis. But one of the most mind-boggling wins that season came when they came back from being down 20-0 at halftime to Arizona. They ended up winning 24-23 without scoring a single offensive touchdown.

Just think about that for one second. They did not score a single offensive touchdown. Not one! Not only that, they also had 6 total turnovers. SIX! This game has been marked as The Monday Night Miracle, and has been etched in football lore.

This game also marked absolute Peak Urlacher, and he finished with 25 tackles (Wikipedia says 19, Urlacher says 25–I’ll go with him), as well as a key forced fumble in the 2nd half. The dude was everywhere. It was probably the best game I ever remember a Bear playing in my lifetime. But it wasn’t Urlacher that spoke up at halftime.

It was Olin Kreutz.

You may remember the late Dennis Green’s “The Bears are who we thought they were” tirade following the game.

But this is the clip that means more to me:

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Said Kruetz in a recent Chicago Tribune column regarding that halftime speech: “I felt like things needed to be said. So I spoke up. I just said, ‘Let’s hit them in the mouth and out-physical them and we’re going to win this game. I really felt that. But to be honest, I felt like that every football game. I felt like if you kick the other guys’ ass enough, you’re going to win the game.”

Hit them in the mouth.’ 

‘Out-physical them and we’re going to win.’

‘Kick the other guys’ ass enough you’re going to win.’

Olin Kreutz, Chicago Bear.

 

4. Do it the right way-people will notice

Jeter used to say that if you play well enough, other people will talk about it for you. You don’t need to say anything, they’ll take note of it. Kreutz falls right in line with that. In fact, a perfect example of this was when he was signed by the Saints in 2011 and immediately was named team captain.

When long-tenured Bears near the end of their careers Chicago, it rarely ends pretty. So many of the great ones all the way down the line are perfect examples of how they felt mistreated by the organization when their Chicago career comes to an end. And Kreutz was no exception.

But I’m not well enough in the know of those situations to write about that. All I know is that Kreutz was signed by a really good Saints team in 2011 and they immediately named him a captain. This was a team already stacked with talented veterans and leaders, and for Kreutz to be named a captain says all that needs to be said.

His season didn’t last long, though, as Kreutz walked away from football and the Saints in October of that season. In researching why he left, I read that Olin said he lost his passion for the game and retired. After 12 seasons of manning the o-line, who can blame him. That’s a hell of a career, and a hell of a long time to battle in the trenches.

On behalf of myself, and millions of Bears fans everywhere I’m proud to get a post on The Town Mile to recognize Olin Kreutz for his tenacity and leadership for many years in Chicago. Olin was a great Bear and needs to be in the same breath as Urlacher and Briggs when those great modern players are mentioned.

Salute to the man in the shorts and tee shirt in freezing cold weather, getting ready to play:

Olin Kreutz, Chicago Bear.

The Town Mile Podcast #4: Chris Janssen

Happy New Year!! Holy Smokes it’s almost 2018!! But before we turn the clock over, let’s turn the clock back to the 1990’s and talk glory days with our main man Chris Janssen. Chris joins us to open up about growing up in Emery, South Dakota and tell us about his hoop dreams journey. Huge thanks to him for taking the time to kick off 2018 with us. Happy New Year!!!

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