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A Short Note on Victor Cruz and Catching Opportunity

by Jose Vilson on January 2, 2012

in Jose

Victor Cruz, Giants

I gotta be honest: I don’t get excited about football very often. My sports identity came at just the right time, too: I’ve been alive for all three New York Giants championships, and the Super Bowl usually came around my birthday until a few years ago. Yet, I never really caught onto it the way I had with basketball and baseball (in that order). Yet, I can’t help but think about the intriguing connect between (arguably) the hottest quarterback – wide receiver combo in the NFL: Eli Manning and Victor Cruz. Eli Manning, the #1 overall draft pick traded to the Giants in the 2004 draft, already had the “Manning” mantle from father Archie Manning and older brother Peyton Manning. Victor Cruz, on the other hand, went undrafted from the University of Massachusetts and later signed with the Giants in 2010.

The average #1 overall draft pick in the NFL has done much better than the undrafted lot. But in no way does that mean that undrafted players have no chance of doing well in the NFL. Warren Moon. Antonio Pierce. Kurt Warner. Antonio Gates. One might call their success luck, but oftentimes, luck means being absolutely prepared for when the very small window of opportunity strikes. Giants fans never forgot his performance against the Jets in the preseason game back in 2010, and neither did his coach. That performance kept him on the roster even after his stint on the injured reserve list through his first season. When he came back, he looked like he had been in the league for years.

Throughout this season, it seems like Eli Manning’s lob down the field or towards the end zone had a chance of getting into Victor Cruz’s hands. Usually, he had to shoot it through a very small gap. It didn’t matter: Victor Cruz was obviously prepared for when it did get to him, so much so that he beat the single-season record for most receiving yards by a Giants. Much of our success has to do with placement and natural talent, but sometimes luck does come into play.

When luck comes through, we ought to as well.

Jose, who needs to break into a mean salsa …

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At Least The Classroom Isn’t Like The NFL

by Jose Vilson on December 18, 2011

in Mr. Vilson

Today, after watching the New York Giants fall face-flat against the Washington Redskins, I had a few revelations. First, Eli Manning will (unfairly) get the blame for the Giants’ general inconsistency across the country. Secondly, the NFL is much more dependent on anonymous linemen and assistant coaches than any other major sport. Third, I’m still amazed that this sport only has 16 games a season not including playoffs … and it still generates this much interest.

Fourth, I’m glad we don’t structure the day-to-day operations of the classroom like the NFL.

Previously, I’ve made analogies about the classroom to professional sports, making a connection between the treatment of teachers to Major League Baseball. I could have mentioned the prevalence of performance enhancers (cheating), debates on its effects on children, and the prevailing arguments on who should get paid more. But at least I have a harder time making that analogy with the National Football League, because I couldn’t stand it if education worked anything like the NFL.

If someone told me I only had 16 days to prove my worth as a teacher and team player in the classroom, I would freak. I’d pull out all the stops. Not that I don’t already grade papers and lesson plan in my free time, constantly read up on my practice, attend professional development (and every so often, run them too), go to different classrooms to see what my other colleagues are doing, participate in discussions surrounding pedagogy, develop professional learning networks wherever I can, and write about all these pieces in a few different arenas. I’d … I’d …

Wait, so maybe there is a lot more in common about what professional educators do and professional coaches. Maybe society, according to free market rules, does value the NFL more than education. Maybe I do like the revenue sharing system of the NFL that allows every team to feel some sort of success as a whole, and generally makes the whole spectacle more fair than the other sports do. Actually, the best NFL team at this point happens to be the only publicly owned team in the major professional sports in America (Green Bay Packers).

Then I think about the classroom process and how I absolutely cannot wait a week to find out whether my students actually reflected on their math work. I bite my nails already while checking to see if they did well on my exams. I can scream on the sidelines, bang on my clipboard, and run around yelling at the players. None of that matters if something just doesn’t click.

Mr. Vilson, who is officially on Baby Alejandro Alert …

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