The NFL’s MOTs
Here are the Jewish players on an NFL team roster as of Sept. 28 (main source: my friends at Jewish Sports Review magazine):
• JORDAN DANGERFIELD, 30, Pittsburgh, plays (back-up) strong safety. This five-year veteran is of Ethiopian Jewish background.
• NATE EBNER, 32, New York Giants, plays (reserve) strong safety and on special teams. For his first eight seasons he played for New England, often contributing to the Patriots many Super Bowl wins. He signed with N.Y. in the off-season.
• JULIAN EDELMAN, 34, New England. This future Hall of Fame wide receiver doesn’t seem to be slowing down. On Sept. 23, he had eight receptions and a career-high yardage total in a game against Seattle. As I’ve noted before, Edelman had only one Jewish great-grandparent. It’s unclear if he has formally converted to Judaism, but he identifies as a Jew in a religious sense and in a “community solidarity” way. Recent examples: raising money for Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims and publicly reaching out last July to a player who posted something anti-Semitic. The Christian Science Monitor called Edelman’s response: “A master class on how to handle hate.”
• ANTHONY FIRKSER, 25, Tennessee, plays (back-up) tight end and fullback. This Harvard grad had a good 2019 season.
• ALEXANDER “Ali” MARPET, 27, plays offensive guard. He has started 75 consecutive games since 2015, earns almost 11M per season, and was team captain in 2018 and 2019.
• MITCHELL SCHWARTZ, 31, Los Angeles, plays offensive tackle. Like Marpet, he is highly paid and has a great streak going (over 130 consecutive starts).
• SAM SLOMAN, 23, Los Angeles, is a kicker. He’s a rookie who earned a starting spot. His college teammates nicknamed him “the kosher cannon.” I like the image of ‘the kosher cannon’ kicking the pigskin.
(Five more Jewish players are on a team “practice squad.” There’s a chance they could see some playing time.)
Aaron Sorkin film tells story of Chicago 7
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” an original Netflix film, begins streaming on Oct. 16. It opened in a few theaters on Sept. 28 and has received mostly great reviews. The film was directed and written by AARON SORKIN, 59.
To understand the title, you need a little background. The 1968 Democratic Convention was held in Chicago, which was run with an iron hand by Mayor Richard Daley. As the Vietnam War raged, Daley was determined that no anti-war demonstrators would get near the convention hall. Police, National Guardsmen, and private guards got carte blanche to beat and/or arrest demonstrators (and even bystanders) anywhere near the convention hall. All this was later called “a police riot” by a blue-ribbon, non-partisan commission. Nonetheless, the Nixon Justice Dept. made the political decision to charge (in 1969) a group of anti-war figures with conspiracy to riot.
Here are some Jewish sidelights to the trial:
1) Three defendants were Jewish: ABBIE HOFFMAN (played by SACHA BARON COHEN, 48), JERRY RUBIN and LEE WEINER (played by NOAH ROBBINS, 30). The two main defense lawyers, WILLIAM KUNSTLER and LEONARD WEINGLASS (portrayed by BEN SHENKMAN 51), were Jewish. The trial judge, JULIUS HOFFMAN, was Jewish. Co-prosecutor Richard Schultz is played by JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, 39.
2) Abbie Hoffman and, to a lesser extent, Rubin, had reputations as pranksters who attacked “the establishment” through satire. During the trial, Abbie Hoffman joked that he was Judge Hoffman’s illegitimate son. He was more serious when he cried out in court: “You [Judge Hoffman] are a ‘shande fur de Goyim’ [“disgrace in front of the Gentiles”]. You would have served Hitler better.”
4) Judge Hoffman’s trial conduct was so biased that the contempt-of-court jail sentences he handed out were thrown out on appeal. Partially because of the judge’s conduct, all the convictions for conspiracy to riot were reversed.
5) Weiner and co-defendant John Froines were almost unknown before the trial and they were the only two not convicted on the riot charge. Weiner, now 81, later worked for the Anti-Defamation League and was active in protests on behalf of Soviet Jewry.