Dec 27

How the Second Quarter Stole Christmas

cowToday’s Repman is by Nicole Newby…

The Cowboys are breaking records all over the place this season, so my Christmas present came early this year. But the team facilitated a bigger (and much more meaningful) Christmas miracle: a $250,000 spike in donations to The Salvation Army, which will help serve an additional 91,000 meals to people in need.

After rushing two yards for a record-breaking touchdown during the second quarter in last Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott celebrated by jumping into the oversized iconic red kettle behind the end zone. In the two days following Zeke’s leap, The Salvation Army received $850,000 in donations.

But just like every great Christmas story, this one also has a Scrooge. The NFL charged the Cowboys with a 15-yard penalty for “using a prop in a touchdown celebration.” There were also talks of a potential hefty fine for the team. I could go on and on about the ridiculousness of this rule in general, but to penalize the team for drawing attention to a charity during the holidays just screams “bah humbug.”

In response to the potential fine, Elliott said he would match it in a donation to the charity. That must have inspired the NFL’s heart to grow three sizes, because they ultimately decided not to charge a fine. Elliott, however, tweeted that he was donating $21,000 to The Salvation Army regardless, and encouraged his fans to add $21 contributions of their own, which has separately raised about $17,000.

So why was Elliott’s red kettle leap so successful in drawing attention to the cause?  One word: authenticity. This wasn’t a pre-planned publicity stunt and it wasn’t sanctioned by either organization involved. Elliott has a genuine passion for this organization. Aside from his public call for donations, he and his teammates volunteered at The Salvation Army in Fort Worth on Thanksgiving. Audiences saw this and were able to relate to—and rally behind—the cause.


Dec 27

Citizen Christmas

I’ve been a proponent of, and practitioner in, citizen journalism for quite some time now.

I believe each, and every, one of us should express our POV EXCEPT when it:

– Espouses a doctrine of hate

– Takes a rigid ‘my way or the highway’ approach

– Regales me with tales of people, places or things that have no relevance in my life.

The latter proliferate at Christmas time in the form of ‘year-end’ family letters.

We all get these. Some come from friends. Others come from family members. The ones I receive almost always come from an acquaintance I once met when Ronald Reagan occupied the White House.

Typically, year-end Christmas letters are written by a member of the distaff side of the family (as in, ‘It was yet another amazing year for Bill, Bill Jr, Little Amy and me. We hope that all of our loved ones have a reason to feel as blessed as we do this Christmas’).

The letters also, always, make a few, mistaken assumptions:

– That I have first-hand knowledge of the protagonists (‘Nicole started a new physical therapy job in November.’ Awesome. Who’s Nicole?).

– That I’ve been following their family’s annual successes and setbacks, and will understand why Danny’s third root canal in as many years is a cause of concern.

– That I’m not appalled by poor grammar and spelling (‘Sebastian would of yelled at the admissions officer but me and Sebby, Sr., didn’t rase our kids to act that way,’).

– That I actually care what happened to these complete strangers (‘Well, after three years of waiting, Ted finally popped the big question to our dear, darling Mary Ellen. Words cannot describe her delight, or ours”).


I have a friend who created her own, faux Christmas family letter. It begins with the salutation: ‘Did you have as amazing a year as our amazing family did? Of course not. How could you? Your family simply isn’t as amazing as ours.’

And, I think that about sums up year-end family letters. They exist for one reason:

– To enable the author to remind herself, as well as her friends and complete strangers like me, how amazing she, and her family, are.

The best citizen journalists know how to engage a reader. One does so by making the written content crisp, concise and compelling.

Citizen Christmas letters, on the other hand, are bloated, befouled by bad grammar and beyond boring.

‘….So, let me tell you about my kids, Chris and Catharine, and the amazing things they accomplished in 2013…’

Aug 26

Doctor Baseball probes A-Rod scandal

Join Wayne “Doctor Baseball” McDonnell, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU, Deb ‘PED’ Brown and Steve ‘Juicer’ Cody as they discuss Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s steroid scandal and the Yankees stretch run for the American League East Division crown.

Please leave a urine sample before you click on link: