Football controversy and a wealth of ignorance in Greenwich, Connecticut

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As someone who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, I am proud to say I defy every stereotype about this place. As someone who has lived in Greenwich for most of my life, I am also happy to say I defy the stereotypes about Greenwich residents.

I am not filthy rich. My family isn’t filthy rich, either. I don’t live in a McMansion. I don’t drive an SUV or crossover, or even a luxurious car. The only time I go overseas is to see family and I haven’t done so since 2015. I don’t work in New York City and I don’t have a house in the Hamptons.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I am not a snob. I am not fake. In fact, you won’t find anyone more forthright, honest, or genuine than I am — if I do say so myself. What you see is what you get. And what you get isn’t always perfect. But for the most part, I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent person.

Having said all of that, perhaps you’ll understand why I’m not only ashamed of what’s been going on around here — I’m disgusted.

According to recent media reports, a Greenwich High School football coach decided to use some rather “unique” signals to counter certain defensive formations. Under his direction, the team used “Stalin” to signal an offensive line shift to the left, and “Hitler” to signal a shift to the right.

No, I’m not kidding.

In an open letter to the community recently posted on the school district’s website, the interim superintendent of schools said the following:

“The shift is called at the line of scrimmage. There is no defensible reason for using those two names. The coach clearly displayed bad judgement, but it was not intended in any way to be an anti-Semitic remark and there is no ‘Hitler’ play. This is not an excuse, only an explanation. It was a bad decision because of its insensitivity. But it is also important to understand that these were not slurs that were directed at anyone. It was an inappropriate use of names that have a horrific history attached to them and we should have been mindful of that. Our coaches should know better and it should never have happened.”

Understandably, the use of Hitler’s name spurred the most visceral reactions and received the most emphasis in Interim Superintendent Salvatore J. Corda’s public apology.

Frankly, as a first-generation American of Eastern European descent, I am outraged by the use of Stalin’s name. And no one has apologized to me.

For those of you who don’t know, Joseph Stalin was just as ruthless as Hitler. And just as evil. Although the exact numbers may never been known, some estimates indicate he may have been responsible for up to 20 million deaths from the time he seized power in the late 1920s until his death in 1953.

A brief summary of Stalin’s “achievements” on includes the following:

“Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps. During the second half of the 1930s, Stalin instituted the Great Purge, a series of campaigns designed to rid the Communist Party, the military and other parts of Soviet society from those he considered a threat.”

What’s even more disgusting than the repeated use of the names “Hitler” and “Stalin” by a high football team is the community’s reaction to the ensuing controversy on social media. You can read more about that here.

For people outside of Greenwich, it is simply a wealthy New York City suburb. But all this goes to show is that there’s a wealth of ignorance here, too.

And that’s a shame.

Dallas Cowboys support for cops gets mad props from this NY Giants fan

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In the interest of full disclosure, I am a New York Giants fan. A die-hard New York Giants fan. As such, I hate the Dallas Cowboys. Passionately.

I mean, come on. It shouldn’t come as a big shock. I’ve do have a cat named Eli, whom I adopted after Big Blue won the Super Bowl in 2008. Of course, he already had that name when I adopted him, but that’s beside the point.

In Brief Legal Writing Services owner Alexandra Bogdanovic's cat, Eli.
Eli under the Christmas Tree. Christmas 2013.

The point, as I initially said, is that I hate, cannot stand, and passionately dislike the Dallas Cowboys. And their fans.

But this week, the Dallas Cowboys did something really cool. It took guts. It showed class. And as far as I’m concerned, the Dallas Cowboys organization deserves mad props.

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. And as they opened training camp, the Dallas Cowboys showed their support for the Dallas police. According to  Yahoo’s account (which frequently cited the Associated Press), here’s what happened:

“The team came out in waves. The first wave was led out by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and some of his players, and Brown. Families of four of the five officers who were killed were represented at the practice, the Associated Press said.”

In addition to showing its support for the Dallas Police Department and the families of the law enforcement officers slain last month, the team wanted to send another message.

“Our players felt that there is no better example of what unity is — and can be about — than a sports team,” the Cowboys reportedly said in a statement. “And they felt they had the opportunity — for the first time they were together this year — to send this very important message.”

To reinforce that message, the Cowboys are sporting “arm-in-arm” decals on their helmets, according to Yahoo.

It is a timely and important message — and under the circumstances, I really shouldn’t make light of it. But I just can’t help it. So I’ll end by saying that as a New York Giants fan, I have no doubt that we will remain united in our universal dislike of the Dallas Cowboys and our hopes that we knock the snot out of them this season. In that, I am sure we are not alone.

The Peyton Manning case: Will another idol fall?

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Peyton Manning sure has been getting a lot of “exposure” lately.

First, allegations surfaced about some HGH being sent to his wife back in 2011. Then Manning defied the odds and led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl title. Now some disturbing information about an incident that occurred when he was a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee has come to light — again.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard all the sordid details, so I’ll keep this brief. According to numerous media reports, Manning’s name came up in a recent lawsuit filed against the university claiming that it mishandled sexual assault complaints involving student-athletes. Although the suit brought by five women pertains mainly to incidents that occurred between 2013 and 2015, it also alludes to prior episodes, presumably to show a pattern of behavior or conduct.

As a student athlete at the university in the late 1990s, Manning reportedly exposed his backside to a female trainer who was treating him at the time. That resulted in the trainer filing a sexual assault complaint against him.

The matter was settled fairly quickly — but the trainer sued the quarterback after information about the event appeared in a book called Manning. That suit was also settled.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Now renewed publicity brings new questions. There has been much talk about if or how this will affect Manning’s legacy. Will one of the NFL’s superstars — who also happens to be a stellar salesman,  weather the storm? Will he retain his credibility? Or will another idol fall?

To me there is a far more important question. Why do we put these athletes on pedestals in the first place? Think about it. From the second a little boy or girl shows that they may be athletically gifted, their parents, teachers, coaches, and peers treat them differently.  The older they get, the more special attention they receive. Why?  What is it about someone who can throw a football, kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, shoot a basketball or a hockey puck that makes them so special? Why do we care?

And why are we so surprised when they act out? Or when they think they deserve special treatment? Or when they develop entitlement issues? Or when they think they can get away with anything? Or when they do get away with so much reprehensible behavior on and off the field? Or when they refuse to be held accountable for their actions?

Sure the athletes who reach the top of their respective games put in a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice a lot to get there. Sure they put themselves at risk in order to entertain the masses. Sure they provide a welcome distraction from the daily grind. And for all of that, they should be admired — but not idolized.

As Charles Barkley once said, “I am not a role model.”

Neither is Peyton Manning.

On a personal note

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Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

It has been a rough week here at In Brief Legal Writing Services.

On Monday, I learned that the little lump I found on Eli’s back is a tumor.

The good news — if there was any — is that this type of tumor is fairly common in dogs and cats. From what I understand, it tends to be more aggressive in dogs, and affects the liver and spleen in only a small percentage of cats (approximately 10 percent). In most cases, surgery to remove the lump is all that’s needed.

According to the vet, an ultrasound is the best way to determine whether an external mass is the result of cancer affecting the internal organs, so we scheduled one for Wednesday. The next steps would depend on the results.

Before the ultrasound, I tried not to borrow trouble. If anything I took comfort in the fact that the lump was small; that it hadn’t changed shape, size or color since I noticed it; that Eli’s behavior hadn’t changed and most importantly, neither had his appetite.

Being a realist, I also thought long and hard about what I would do in the worst-case scenario. I came to the conclusion that I would not subject him to extensive surgery, no matter what. After all, he just turned 10. I’ve had him — or more accurately, he’s had me wrapped around his little paw, for just about eight years now.

He came into my life in February 2008. I was living in Virginia at the time and had just come home from Australia, where my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday and I got to watch my favorite football team win the Super Bowl.

The New York Giants won that championship thanks to some heroics by my favorite quarterback, Eli Manning. So imagine my delight — and surprise — when I glanced at the Fauquier SPCA’s flyer on my way out of the office one day. If memory serves, I stopped dead in my tracks and yelped, “Holy crap! The SPCA has a cat named Eli!”

I went to the shelter and instantly decided to adopt him. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take him home right away. He stayed at the shelter so he could be neutered, and as I drove home alone, the sun, which had been noticeably absent all day, peeped out from between the clouds.

I picked him up after work on another cold, dreary winter afternoon a couple of days later. As we drove home together, the sun, which I hadn’t seen all day, made another appearance.

Perhaps it was a mere coincidence. Or maybe it was a cosmic sign of approval from my cat Heals (named after New York Islanders and New York Rangers goalie Glenn Healy) who had died of cancer six months before.

In any case, it didn’t really matter. All I knew for sure is that it was definitely meant to be.