Monday, September 29, 2008

Get Out and Exercise!

This time of year is a great time to get in shape and exercise. The weather is cooler and there is plenty of yard work to do to prepare for the long winter. Autumn is a beautiful time of year and there is no better time to be outside enjoying the few weeks before winter starts to set in. I have tried to stay in decent shape over the years and have found that being outside and enjoying this time of year have always helped me to not only feel better but also to look better. Exercise doesn’t always have to be hard work and drudgery.
Here are several ideas of things to do this Fall with your family and also ways to get in some exercise while doing them:

Play games outside with your family. I have many fond memories of playing football in my parent’s backyard with my older brother. We had the most fun on the cooler nights in September and October. We would play one-on-one or just throw the ball back and forth. It was great because it didn’t even feel like exercise because we were having so much fun together. I now am able to play outside with my own kids, although my girls don’t like football much. We do kick the ball around, play tag, along with other games. The nights are as cool as when I was younger and watching the girls laugh and smile bring back the memories.

Rake Leaves Together as a Family. I love to rake leaves. I don’t know if it is more because I love this time of year or if I love to see the fruits of my labor or if it is just to be outside working. My wife and I live close to my parents and for the past few years have been helping them rake their leaves. They have many tall trees that produce massive amounts of leaves during this time of year. I always get nostalgic when we drive in on a cool late October afternoon to start raking those pretty red and orange leaves. My girls love to jump in them and go for rides in the wheelbarrow as I move the piles of leaves to the garden.

Cook a Meal Together and go for a Walk to Deliver it to a Neighbor. Making a meal together as a family really causes you to help each other and work as a team. My Mom taught me to cook from the time I was young and I enjoyed the many September and October nights making a steamy, warm pot of my Mom’s famous chili and then making several pans of the best smelling cinnamon rolls you ever “laid your nose on”. I remember playing outside raking the leaves or playing football and coming in to a house filled with the fresh aroma of homemade wheat bread. Once during each Fall make some extra soup and extra cinnamon rolls or another meal of your choice and walk them to a neighbor or someone that you know and let them know that you were thinking of them and thought they could use a nice meal and some treats. This will make a great impression on them and even more of an impression on your children and also give you a chance to get out of the house and be together while exercising.

Don’t wait any longer to get out and enjoy the fresh air. The days go by too fast this time of year to be inside. Take time to go outside, play together with your kids, make meals together. Get out and exercise!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Cougs and the Pack

This past weekend the BYU Cougars posted another impressive shutout while the Green Bay Packers got beat by the Dallas Cowboys. I am a big fan of both the Cougars and the Packers so each week I am going to review the previous games played and preview the upcoming games for each team. I do have to say that BYU is looking very good this year and is currently ranked at 11th place in the AP polls. The Packers are looking pretty good as well despite their loss to one of the best teams in the NFL in the Cowboys.

BYU played Wyoming this week in Laramie. This has been a pretty heated rivalry over the years (although not even close to the rivalry with the Utes). Through the years the annual meeting with Wyoming Cowboys has been pretty rough and ugly and lots of big hits, and that is just describing the fans in the stands. BYU went up to Laramie this year riding a winning streak of 3 games including big wins over Pac-10 powerhouses Washington and UCLA. The Cougars shut out UCLA last week by a score of 59-0. BYU beat Wyoming in the same fashion by a score of 44-0 by using a strong defense and its power passing game. The Cougars forced 6 turnovers against the hapless Cowboys and returned 2 of them for touchdowns. Max Hall added to his passing touchdowns on the season by throwing 3 more touchdown strikes making it a total of 15 for the year. All of Hall’s touchdowns occurred in the Cowboys game in only 3 quarters of play. The BYU passing attack seems virtually unstoppable week after week this year. With an incredible offense with an outstanding coach in Bronco Mendenhall and an awesome quarterback in Max Hall along with an improving defense, the Cougars look poised to have a great year making a push for a BCS game and possible shot at the title game if they can go undefeated.

Next up for BYU is Utah State on October 3rd in Logan. Utah State is actually my Alma Mater. Yes, I am a true Aggie, for those of you who know about Utah State. Anyway, BYU should easily handle the under-manned Aggies. Utah State has struggled for many years in football. My prediction for the game is 45-7.

I have been a Packers fan for about 15 years now and have watched only one QB play for them- Brett Favre. I was able to attend one of his last games as a Packer last year when they played the Denver Broncos. It was incredible with the Packers winning in overtime with a Favre touchdown pass to receiver Greg Jennings on the first play of overtime. Favre is my favorite player and was set to retire this year before deciding to come back. The Packers had since moved on to the quarterback waiting in the wings for the past 3 years in Aaron Rodgers. So far this year, Rodgers has been pretty amazing. He has thrown at a high percentage, 4 touchdown passes, no interceptions, and has been more mobile than Favre ever was. I think that the Packers have a future with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers were able to beat the Vikings in week 1, get past the Lions in week 2, before losing to the Cowboys in week 3. Dallas was a far superior team in that game beating the Pack in every phase of the game. Green Bay lost that game by a score of 27-16. The Packers will be traveling to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers. I think the Packers will win that game 27-17.
Tune in next week to read all about the Packers ball game and more analysis on the BYU Cougars’ march to glory.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Football and BBQ

Fall is my most favorite season of the year and September is probably my favorite month. Not only has football season arrived, but the weather is getting cooler, and the holidays are soon coming. One activity that a lot of people forget this time of year is barbecuing. For most people, summer time is the most popular time of year to fire up that old BBQ grill and throw on some mouth-watering steaks, but for me and other football fans September is the best time for a BBQ. There is nothing better than throwing on some marinated BBQ chicken or some T-bone steaks on the grill while watching your favorite team on the large screen TV in your living room.

I love to grill various meats and fresh, crisp vegetables on the grill. Here is one of my favorite recipes that I love to enjoy while watching the Green Bay Packers or the BYU Cougars play on the weekend.

Steak and Chicken ShishKabobs
1 large steak of your choice (cut into bite size cubes)
1 large chicken breast (cut into bite size cubes)
Cherry tomatoes, green and yellow squash (sliced thick), large mushrooms (pull stems off), red onions (peeled and cut into cubes), green, red, and orange peppers (sliced)

2 cups Olive Oil
2 T. Worchestershire sauce
2 T. Soy sauce
2 Garlic (minced)
½ cup honey
4 t. chili powder
Fresh lime juice

Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the steak and chicken in a zip lock bag for several hours.
Thread the meats and vegetables on several bamboo skewers until meat and vegetables are gone.
Use a brush to spread marinade on the vegetables and meats. Spray the meat and veggie filled skewers with cooking spray (to avoid sticking to grill). Sprinkle them with your favorite BBQ spice such as Grill Mates and then sprinkle on Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper.

Heat the grill to high heat and when fully heated, add the skewers to the grill. Use a glove on your hand to rotate the skewers around frequently to cook all sides evenly. Once all sides have been exposed to the high heat turn the grill on low heat to cook the food inside fully. Continue to rotate the skewers but not as often.

Remove the Kabobs from the grill, enjoy, and hope that your team is as successful as your BBQ’ing was.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Classic Cougar Football

It’s that time of year again when the football fans get excited because football will be playing for the next 4 months. The BYU Cougars have got off to a great start this year beating some good teams. I grew up in a household where the Cougars football team was the favorite sports team in the family. I have many fond memories waking up on a cool autumn morning hearing my Mom playing the BYU school song on the radio while making us a great breakfast for game day. I wanted to spend a few minutes sharing some more of my favorite BYU football memories while growing up.

On every Saturday during the fall, we would wake up and enjoy my Mom’s breakfast and then go outside to do our weekly chores in the garden and in the yard, before the game started in the afternoon. The games usually started at about 1 in the afternoon so we would prepare hoagie sandwiches and chips while settling into our regular places on the couches. My Dad would go get his old radio and set up in the TV room because he preferred listening to Paul James rather than the TV announcers. I can still hear Paul James in my mind when I think of these fun days from many years ago. It drove my brother and me crazy because the radio announcing came a few seconds after the play on TV. We begged to turn the radio off and listen to the TV, but my Dad was probably the biggest fan of Paul James in the land of the Cougars.

The game was finally ready to begin. Once that kickoff was underway it was time to enjoy 3 hours of watching the greatest team on the planet. We loved to watch not only because they are BYU, but also because they had the best passing attack in football. LaVell Edwards was the coach back then and he loved the pass play. He had long passes, short passes, and shotgun formations. It was fun to see the long passes for touchdowns. It was fun to watch LaVell on the sidelines. We all know his famous facial expressions of frowns and no smiles. He took the game very seriously and knew not to get too excited and not get too upset. He was the most even keeled coach I had ever seen. His record over the years proved that his approach to the game worked.

The players (especially the quarterbacks) that he recruited and coached went on to have great careers in the NFL. He coached Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marcus Wilson, Ty Detmer, and many others. Many referred to LaVell’s system and BYU as a quarterback factory and indeed it was. There were also great receivers; Glen Kowzlowski, Todd Christensen, Matt Belini, and others. They had countless amazing catches over the years. They had great defenses with one of my favorites being the defensive lineman Jason Buck.
It was a fun time for me growing up to be able to watch the awesome coaching and the great players on the Cougars football team. They had many great years and even received the national championship in 1984. Over the years they went to many Holiday Bowls and other bowl games and won the majority of them. Who can forget the incredible comeback led by Jim McMahon in the 1980 Holiday Bowl against SMU or the 1984 Holiday Bowl against Michigan that earned them the national title that year. The Las Vegas bowl brought some excitement last year when BYU blocked the field goal attempt by UCLA in the final seconds of that game.

The players may have changed over the years and now BYU has a young new coach, but they still have a passing game and a winning tradition. When you watch this year think of the great winning tradition and all the great games over the years and know that you are watching one of the greatest teams ever to play the game.

Just be thankful that you don’t have to listen to Paul James on the radio during every game.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fantasy Football Fanatics

I admit it; I am a fantasy football fanatic. I am part of a yearly private league that every year participates in the fantasy football world that includes millions of players. I get excited every year when August and September come because I know that not only is football watching right around the corner, but so is playing fantasy football. For all of those who have never played fantasy football it is probably hard for you to understand why there’s such great excitement for just a game. I will fill you in on what fantasy football is and why there are millions and millions who participate in this game each football season.

Fantasy football has been around in one form or another since 1962. It started to really gain popularity when the computer and internet were more widely used and allowed fantasy football players access to the information they need to play the game.

Fantasy football is basically a game where usually 10 or 12 players get together to form a league. Then these players hold a fantasy draft or a time to pick their players from the actual players in the NFL. They decide a draft order usually by random chance, and then each take turns choosing players to be on their team. Most leagues have teams that consist of 1 starting quarterback (QB), 2 starting running backs (RB), 3 starting wide receivers (WR), 1 starting tight end (TE), 1 starting kicker (K) and 1 defense/special teams (DST). They then pick 4 or 5 players of any position as bench players to fill in during bye weeks or in case a player gets injured.

Once the draft has happened, each owner decides which of his players will play in the first game of the NFL. The players each gain points by how well they do in the actual NFL game that they are playing. For example, the QB gets 1 point for every 25 yards he passes, 6 points for every TD pass he throws, and then the RB’s and WR’s get points for yards gained and TD’s scored as well. The combination of all your starting players’ points that week determine your fantasy football team’s score that week. Each week you play another fantasy football team and the winner is determined by how well your players perform that week and what kind of score they get.

If you love football, then you will love fantasy football. It is very exciting to watch your players week in and week out and makes for watching football on TV even more exciting, if that is possible. It is also fun and challenging to pick your team each year during the draft and trade and pick up free agents throughout the year. I have been playing now for 8 years and have won the fantasy football super bowl twice. I am hopeful for another title this year because I have great players and I feel like I have the experience and knowledge to play the right players each week. The first weekend of football is right around the corner so join your first fantasy team before it is too late.

You will be amazed at the fun and excitement you will have when you join the millions of fantasy football fanatics.

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