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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Saying Goodbye to Summer

Robert Manni - Monday, September 14, 2015


The media began bemoaning the end of summer on September 1st.

Guess what? We've still got another week of summer left. Let’s stay positive and recognize a handful of reasons why September is a great month and fall is a great season, Guy’s Guy style.

Farewell, tourists.

As a fan of the beach and the Jersey Shore, nothing pleases local inhabitants and beachgoers more than the disappearance of what are referred to as “Bennies”, tourists from northern NJ who come down the shore, go crazy and then leave after Labor Day. More parking spaces, no waits at restaurants and fewer drunken dudes from Staten Island pounding shots of bubbleberry vodka all make up the fall dream. The same can be said about the overload of summer tourists in fanny packs clogging our NYC sidewalks. Have a nice day and goodbye.

The weather rocks.

It’s summer for three more weeks, amigos. The beach is empty, the temp's perfect, the water warm and clean and it usually stays this way through October. In the city, the days are spectacular and the nights are no longer hot and humid.

The Women.

In NYC, the women’s fashion parade begins in full swing in September and for a Guy’s Guy, it can be heavenly. Women in NYC have style and go to great lengths putting together cool outfits. Beyond their $400 jeans and designer dresses, Manhattan women have made an art of putting together their hair, shoes, and bags and the results are pleasurable to the eyes of any Guy’s Guy. It’s all in the details, so let's give it up for the ladies.

Sports.

The baseball season is rounding third base and heading for home while at the same time football and the accompanying fantasy football drafts are in full swing, making this the best time of the year for sports. Football has never been so popular and fantasy football has taken the game to a new level of fandemonium. Let’s face it—football is built for television viewing and now is the time to get our fill. And let’s not forget the US Open tennis and the NYC Marathon.

The Arts.

Film, books, television, the Met, the museums, Broadway and even the dreaded DWTS all kick off new seasons at this time of year.

Okay, these are but a few obvious reasons why they we can say “yay” to the end of summer. What I like about September and the new season is that it reminds me how each day is a new beginning filled with new opportunities. If we live in the now and focus on what can be, and tune out the media’s incessant ringing of the doom and gloom alarm, we can savor life as it’s meant to be, one beautiful day at a time.  And then we can watch the holiday sales ads.

Are you saddened over the end of summer or pumped up for the fall?

This week's Guy's Guy of the Week is Sir Thomas More, an old school 16th century Guy's Guy, and the subject of the Oscar-winning, "A Man for All Seasons."

The Guys' Guy's Thoughts on the Sham of the Century

Robert Manni - Friday, May 08, 2015


Floyd Mayweather is a magician in the ring. And that’s the problem.

If I want to see someone run, hide, grab, hug, and disappear, I might as well buy a ticket to David Copperfield or Dancing With The Stars. Manny Pacquaio is a trusting soul. And that’s his problem. He works in the unregulated cesspool of a boxing industry and leaves important details like being injured before the fight to his slippery promoters to handle. We now know that he had a torn rotator cuff going into the fight. So why did his team not reveal his injury until afterwards? Money, that’s why. This is only the tip of the iceberg why this mega-hyped event was a sham that will send the sport of boxing back twenty years.

Many of us Guy’s Guys are boxing fans, so when this long overdue fight was finally announced in February, people all over the world were ecstatic. In one corner we had the slick, undefeated American with a bad reputation as a human being. Mayweather is an unrepentant, convicted women-beater. He’s also brash, arrogant, and greedy. And, he’s a peerless defensive wizard in the ring who has never lost a professional fight.

In the other corner we had PacMan, the born-again Filipino. Pacquaio is a fighter with an untarnished personal reputation. He has shown quickness, aggressiveness and courage in the ring and humility and generosity outside of it. We had a perfect bad guy versus good guy storyline for the fight. The prospects were even brighter from a tactical perspective. PacMan is a hard-working southpaw who usually throws one hundred punches per round. Mayweather is the slick tactician who focuses more on not getting hit than dishing out punishment to his foe. He is fast and elusive to a fault. The paying public wants to see two guys mixing it up, not dancing inside the squared circle. All in all, we had the makings of a classic matchup, even for the casual fan. Good guy versus bad guy. Lefty versus righty. Speed versus power. But, that’s not the way it turned out, amigos. Let’s take a closer look at the fight and the two combatants.

Mayweather - Make no mistake about it, this guy is lightning fast and elusive. He scooted around the ring and made keeping PacMan at bay look easy. Although I am a fan of the Filipino, there is no way PacMan won the fight, as some have suggested. That said; the problems with Floyd’s victory were many. First, he obviously knew that Pacquaio was damaged goods. He zinged him in torn rotator cuff and landed a number of lead right hands. But, he never hurt PacMan. Not even a little bit. The word is that Floyd’s team knew about Pacquaio’s injury beforehand. If true, why did Floyd devote most of his time running around the ring, grabbing and holding instead of exchanging and going in for the knockout? Some argue boxing is about scoring points and not getting hit. This is correct, but only to a point. Running, grabbing and holding tarnishes an already tarnished sport. No one wants to see this. Fans pay to see two professional combatants mix it up and inflict some damage. And, that’s what this fight lacked. There was little action. Ironically, the loser generated most of the action. PacMan slowly pawed his way around the ring while Floyd scored some light jabs and right hands and then ran or held his opponent in a headlock. From a viewing standpoint, this made the fight suck. I put that on Mayweather. Beyond his running to avoid contact, he proved once again to be a dirty fighter. He repeatedly clutched, grabbed and pushed down on PacMan. He also used his forearms, elbows, and sides of his gloves, all which are illegal tactics. And, Mayweather’s handpicked referee did nothing to stop the misconduct.

Pacquaio – Dude, if you are not at 100%, postpone the fight. PacMan lost a ton of cred by stepping into the ring in less than top condition and not letting us know. If you are hurt, you are hurt. Just say so. When you step inside the ring for a bout of this magnitude at anything less than 100%, you will be rightly accused of just taking the money. And, it’s understandable. Fans paid top dollar for the pay per view and bet big time on this fight. Pacquaio should have provided full disclosure. His team did not claim the shoulder injury on his prefight medical form, although they did cop to his taking painkillers throughout camp. Why did they do this? Why didn’t the state boxing commission ask about this? Who knows?

As a result, PacMan was denied a pre-fight dose of painkillers and even his Vitamin Water. Yet, we saw Mayweather drinking Gatorade. And only after the fight did the paying public find out PacMan had a torn right rotator cuff. Maybe this explains why PacMan threw far fewer punches than usual and appeared to coast through most of the bout. This did not look like the Manny Pacquaio than we have been accustomed to seeing in the ring. Some say it was because Mayweather is so much faster and skilled. That may be true to a point. But I think most people would agree that it appeared that something was wrong with PacMan from the very first round.

So with a trail of dissatisfied Guy’s Guys and fight fans left on the curb with $100 bucks less in their pockets, what else could be worse? The rematch, of course. See you in 2016.

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are the two men who filed a class action suit about misrepresentation of PacMan’s status before the fight. 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to the Fight of the Century

Robert Manni - Thursday, April 30, 2015

Boxing is far from dead. Say what you want about Ronda Rousey and the meteoric rise of the MMA. Nothing the MMA has done to date compares to the buzz and mega-dollars generated from a major boxing match.

Every generation has its super fights. In the 20th Century we had Louis-Schmeling II, Ali-Frazier I, and possibly Leonard-Hagler. Fifteen years into the 21st Century a new super-fight has finally materialized. Mayweather-Pacquaio has been talked about, planned, avoided, dismantled, discussed and then suddenly agreed to about eight weeks ago. Long in the making, but hastily thrown together, this bout will prove to be the richest in the history of the sport, and the stakes have never been higher for these two great fighters. Floyd Mayweather is 47-0. He is a brilliant ring tactician. Fast, elusive, and an astute ring general, he is a once-in-a-generation fighter. His opponent, Manny Pacquaio, is a title-holder in eight weight classes, a fighter of the decade, and a whirlwind force of nature. He’s a southpaw that attacks ferociously from all angles with a blur of punches. He hits like a howitzer and has the speed in his hands and feet to move in and out of the pocket leaving devastating results.

The two pugilists have been circling one another for the past five years. Many thought they would never fight until the deal was finally consummated in late February. Some say Mayweather has been avoiding his Filipino rival because he did not want to risk a potential loss on his perfect record. Maybe so, but he did sign on and put his unbeaten streak is on the line. And, for a cool $99, you, too, can watch it in HD. Despite the exorbitant price, between 2.5 and 3 million households are expected to purchase the bout on cable.

My grandfather was a professional boxer so I grew up with an appreciation of this brutal sport. There is something beautiful and pure about boxing that many Guy’s Guys appreciate. It’s as real as it gets. There are just two combatants in the ring. No shoulder pads, facemasks, or numbered jerseys. And the ring is way smaller than it looks on television. The equipment consists of two fists wrapped in gauze and squeezed inside 8 oz. leather gloves. There is a referee and three ringside judges to keep score and determine the outcome of the fight if it goes the distance. That’s it, amigos. Boxing is about truth. So let’s take a closer look into Mayweather-Pacquaio, Guy’s Guy style.

Speed – There are two types of speed in boxing hand speed and foot speed. Both men have blazing hand speed. Pac-Man, as Pacquiao is called, has the edge in foot speed. He is a southpaw who darts in and out from a variety of angles. He has been compared to an annoying fly that won’t stay away. Mayweather has incredibly quick hands and is a precise counterpuncher. Most folks think he can catch Pac-Man as he works his way inside. But Floyd has had trouble with lefties and has been vulnerable to the straight left and right hooks from southpaws he’s fought. It’s one of the reasons some say he delayed the taking this fight.

Can a whirling dervish moving forward in a serpentine fashion break a seemingly impenetrable defense and avoid crisp hard shots from a bigger man? Manny may be able to work his way into the pocket, but he could get popped along the way. Can he deflect those shots enough to score some of his own and soften up Floyd? Maybe. Edge: even.

Power – Although Mayweather is the larger man, he is not known for his power. That said, many pros say that Floyd’s power is underestimated. Pacquiao hits like a mule, but he’s smaller. Although they are both champions in multiple weight classes, neither fighter has scored a legitimate knockout during the past three years. Maybe it’s because Mayweather is 38 and Pac-Man is 36 now. Still, Manny has starched common opponents Miguel Cotto and Oscar De La Hoya. On the flip side, Floyd easily beat Juan Marquez while Pacquiao ran into his right hand and was knocked out cold a few years ago during their fourth fight. Some say that Marquez had 44 rounds, two losses and a disputed draw to sort out Manny’s tendencies. The question is: can Floyd figure Manny out in one night? It’s possible, but not a given, even for a mastermind at adjustments like Mayweather. Edge: Pacquiao

Ring Generalship – Both fighters usually set the pace and force their opponents to fight their fight. Can Mayweather bully the smaller Pacquiao around after making the necessary tweaks following what are expected to be a frenetic first few rounds? If Pac-Man tires and Mayweather starts picking him apart, it will be a long evening for the congressman. Pac-Man’s best chance is to set a fast tempo and win individual rounds versus going balls out for a knockout. Like Mike Tyson once said though, “even the best strategy goes out the window once you’ve been hit”. Edge: Mayweather

Character – Since this is the Guy’s Guy take, I wanted to include a deeper glimpse of the two main characters in the story. Floyd Mayweather is not a Guy’s Guy. He is a convicted women beater who once said about Pacquaio, “Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make the motherf—ker make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.” How’s that for winning friends and influencing people? I’m somewhat surprised that the press has not made more of this tirade, but at least we have our villain. Floyd is also known for hitting off the break, sucker punching, and using his forearms and elbows when it suits him. He also has the deck stacked in his favor in the choice of venue, referee and judges. But, since he is considered the A-side of the bout’s marketing, he has earned those privileges.

Pacquaio, on the other hand, is a reformed sinner, and a born-again Christian, who wants to pray with Mayweather following their fight. He is likeable, a bad singer, and a congressman and icon in his native Philippines. This diametric opposition in personas makes for compelling television, kids. I think we know who gets the check mark here, but to be fair, both men have shown courage and fortitude in the ring. Between his sushi roll duty, Pacquiao assures us that, “God will deliver him to my hands”. Something to watch for which brings us to…

Prediction - Most boxing pundits are picking Mayweather by a 12 round decision. It’s hard to argue with a consistent result over the past decade of Mayweather fights. He’s bigger, he has a longer reach, he’s smart as hell, fast, and very hard to hit. He has made his opponents look foolish by deploying brilliant strategy and in-fight adjustments.

But, for some reason that only he knows, Mayweather has arguably avoided this long-overdue match up. Now that the fight is here, Pacquiao appears confident, focused, and driven. During the stare-down at yesterday’s press conference, he actually giggled as he looked into Floyd’s sneer. I like that. And I’ll always take the guy with fire in his belly that desperately wants to win over a guy who does not want to lose. No one is unbeatable, and with the brilliant Freddy Roach in his corner to keep him on track, I see a fearless Manny Pacquiao setting a fast pace, taking an early lead in rounds and withstanding an increasingly desperate Floyd Mayweather’s attempts to close the gap. I think Pacquiao will score an early knockdown and possibly even survive a late knockdown in what will be a brutal, close fight with a controversial 12-round decision going to the Pac-Man. This of course, sets up a rematch in November.

My Guy’s Guy of the Week is my grandfather, Thomas Oresti Neggia, who fought under the name, Tough Tommy. I was told that he was undefeated in the ring, until he met my grandmother who insisted that he retire from boxing if he wanted to win her hand. And he did.

Five Reasons We Love the Super Bowl

Robert Manni - Friday, January 30, 2015


I’ve watched every Super Bowl. That’s all forty-eight broadcasts, so the NFL must be doing something right. Over the past half century, the big game has grown into a global media juggernaut and it’s arguably the largest singular sporting contest on Earth. Every subsequent year since 1969 and Super Bowl III when Joe Willie Namath guaranteed victory for the 18 1/2-point underdog New York Jets (really) before taking down the Baltimore Colts 16-7, the Super Bowl has grown steadily in stature and grandeur. What was once a simple grind-it-out championship football game played on a neutral field has turned into a spectacle that provides viewers of all ages and genders something to marvel at.

This year the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks face the New England Patriots. The buzz has been about New England’s history of purportedly shady practices and the recent revelation that 11 out 12 of the footballs they used in the AFC Championship game were found to be under-inflated. So, this one may be remembered as the “Deflategate” Super Bowl. It should be a great game though, pitting Tom Brady and New England’s high-powered offense against Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense. I’ll take the Patriots 24-17 as they control the ball and the clock for most of the game. But when in comes to the Super Bowl, you never know what surprises may lay in store. An improbable hero, a botched call by the refs, a phenomenal catch that changes the fate of a team forever. It’s all on the line this Sunday. The halftime show features pop star Katy Perry with Lenny Kravitz and there is already buzz about some of this year’s controversial ads.

Please allow your Guy’s Guy to walk you through a number of the reasons why us Guy’s Guys, and just about everybody else puts their snarkiness aside for a few hours this Sunday and vibes with this annual over-the-top event.

1. The Stakes.

Unlike the World Series and the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl is one game. Sure, the NCAA finals and World Cup also come down to one game, but neither has the marketing panache of the Super Bowl. Unless you were from Argentina or Germany, did you really care who won the World Cup? In the NCAA March Madness tournament, by the time it gets to the finals, do you really care which college superpower wins another title? That said, it everyone has an opinion and a rooting interest in the Super Bowl. One reason is that unlike other championship games, the press devotes and incredible amount of space during an otherwise bleak last two-weeks of January on the big game. The hype is without peer and from food to fashion; it permeates many facets of our culture.

2. Half Time.

No other sporting event can boast the spectacle of a Super Bowl Halftime Show. It is an event in itself. Music’s top stars including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Madonna, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney have all performed to an audience of close to one billion viewers worldwide. Each act is tasked with putting on a thrilling show in twenty minutes, and most have succeeded. I’ve attended two Super Bowls. The first one was in 1993, pitting the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills. Seeing the young Cowboys reclaim their reputation as America’s Team by upsetting the revered Bill 52-17 was a personal thrill. Our halftime show at the Rose Bowl featured Michael Jackson. You can’t get bigger than that. Let’s see if this year, Katy Perry has the chops to deliver a Super Bowl worthy performance.

3. The Ads.

I’m a marketer and ad guy by trade, so I’m fascinated by the overblown Super Bowl ads for commodity products like mass-produced beer, soft drinks, fast food, salty snacks, and tires, and the reactions we hear from the viewers. The ads people usually recall are the ones that they liked. Ironically, advertisers and the tests new campaigns go through before they get produced usually overlook “likeability” as a variable. Too often the testing focuses only on an ad’s ability to communicate the brand strategy. It’s no wonder why so many ads these days are so flat-footed. I call these ads, “stratecutions”. During the Super Bowl, though, many brands take risks by investing in over-the-top productions for the return of a “buzz” factor that can spark and carry a brand’s sales momentum throughout the year.

4. The Parties.

Most people I know have their own game plan for the big game. Maybe they are having friends and family over, or a bunch of guys get together to grill and drink, or a group of colleagues put out a spread while they chit chat during the game before locking in the ads and halftime show before heading home. By now the consumer’s involvement in their own festivities, food, and drink have become a new tradition rivaling Thanksgiving.

5. Winter Sucks.

Let’s face it. In a good portion of our country the weather in January is at best dismal. Here in New York, the city has been awash with hues of gray, brown and black since Thanksgiving, with little hope for change anytime soon. And after the big game, February’s greets an unwelcoming population with more cold, slushy days. If you are a sports fan, you most likely experience a football hangover after the game that lasts until March Madness which six weeks from now. That’s a long time, amigo. But, New Yorkers are tough and scrappy. Somehow, we find new ways to get through this sports drought, even if it means watching a Nets game.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Super Bowl is big business and lots of money changes hands from all the betting. Who hasn’t bought a box or two in the company pool? The bottom line is that Sunday marks a special day that we now collectively celebrate every year. It really doesn’t matter who wins. Super Bowl Sunday is more about our experience and how we share this cultural phenomenon with our friends, colleagues and loved ones. And don’t forget the guacamole.

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are the players and coaching staffs of the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. After all, this is a football game, and without their hard work from training camp through January, there would be no Super Bowl. Congrats to both squads and let the best team win.

The Guys' Guy's 2014 Fantasy Football Overview

Robert Manni - Friday, August 29, 2014


It’s that special time of year again for sports fans and Guy’s Guys.

Major League Baseball is entering its annual pennant chase, tennis’s US Open has taken center stage in New York, and another NFL season is about to kick off. From what was once limited to a few football crazies to a mainstay in every office and group of friends across America, fantasy football has taken our sports-centric culture by storm.

I’m not a licensed fantasy football expert, but I’ve played and succeeded in a league for close to twenty years now. Whether you are a Guy’s Guy or Girl’s Guy, here are a few nuggets to get you off to a good start this season.

What League is best for you?

Although there are many league options including auctions, PPR (points per reception), and ten to fourteen team leagues, far and away the most popular leagues are made up of twelve teams. Most have no or limited keepers and feature a snake draft where team one selects first in the round one, then last in the second round, and so on. Each week your team is pitted against another, and for the next thirteen weeks you play head to head until the playoffs. Each team plays two running backs (RB), one quarterback (QB), two wide receivers (WR), one flex player (RB, WR or TE), one tight end (TE), one team defense (D), and one kicker (K).

Strategy.

Although the rules of the NFL have evolved over the past decade to favor passing and scoring, running backs are still a key consideration for your early picks. Many pro teams have shifted to committee backfields that deploy multiple running backs. This makes drafting at least one “bell weather” RB early on a team that prefers running the ball critical. Many experts consider drafting a top quarterback or wide receiver as viable early first round options. I suggest you consider position scarcity and select a running back and possibly even a second one in rounds two and/or three. The WR pool is deep and unless you can grab one of the top four QB’s you are better off grabbing a top RB. I assure you, the starting RB’s will be taken a lot earlier than you’d expect.

I like to grab a few WR’s and then zone in on my QB and TE. The way I look at it is although you draft a base team of sixteen players, along with a few injury slots, you can only play one set of players in the aforementioned positions each week. So even though there are “bye” weeks for each team, you’re still going to play your go-to/top players almost every week. That means you need to focus on filling out your starting team before stacking your bench. Well, at least that’s how I see it. And, every draft takes on a life of its own, so invariably a top player or two falls through the cracks and becomes available later than you expected. If this is the case, grab him. After all it’s only fantasy football.

Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are studs worth taking early. If you wait there are a number of viable options including Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. Some reaches to consider are Phil Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer. I’d avoid this year’s rookies. I really don’t have a QB philosophy beyond considering their past accomplishments, team’s offensive philosophy, and their injury history.

Running Backs: There are a handful of studs worth choosing if you have the opportunity to take them in the first round. These include Lesean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Jamaal Charles. I also like up and comers including LeVeon Bell, Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy, and Andre Ellington to step up as future keepers. If possible, I’d steer clear away from injury-prone Adrian Foster, CJ Spiller, and RB’s I consider less than top shelf including Freddie Morris, Gio Bernard, and Ben Tate. Again, consider stocking up on RB’s early because they go fast and you don’t want to be left without at least one top runner.

Wide Receivers: There are a lot to choose from, so have fun with these picks. Beyond the top five of superstars— Demarius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, AJ Green, Brandon Marshall, there are numerous options. Alshon Jeffries, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown, and Vincent Jackson should all be on your target list. It seems like every year more than a handful of overlooked WR’s turn into fantasy stars due to a combination of talent and injuries. When looking at “sleepers” consider up and comers C. Patterson, K. Wright, TY Hilton, and even E. Decker. Towards the latter stages of the draft, I like to load up on WR’s, again because the pool is deep and there are many that become stars that are worth keeping for future seasons, if your league offers that option.

Tight Ends: This is a feast or famine position. Unless you can grab J. Graham, J. Thomas, or V. Davis, you are better off waiting. Each NFL team has a different philosophy on deploying this position so you need to do your research to be successful. This is also a position where first year players have a hard time breaking through and getting balls thrown their way.

Defense: Unless you can grab Seattle or San Francisco early, it might be better to wait. I’ve checked a variety of syndicated resources and the other picks are all over the place. I like Denver and New Orleans because both teams have shored up their defenses and have explosive offenses that will keep limit the amount of time their defenses need to spend on the field.

Kickers: Unless you can get New England’s Gostkowski, wait until the very end of the draft. NFL kickers are talented and the majority is serviceable from a fantasy perspective. Try and select a K who plays for a high scoring tem, preferably that plays indoors.

That should get you thinking and hopefully off to a good start. Everyone has his or her preferred strategy and players they like. That’s part of the fun. Keep it light and by do your best. One more tip— try to not get upset over league rules, etc. You may not like every rule, but try to remember that crafting a league charter is not easy.

Are you ready for some fantasy football? 

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week is Bill Winkenbach, a part owner of the Oakland Raiders. In 1963, he sketched out in a hotel room what has become the template for what is now fantasy football, our cultural phenomenon.  


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