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Sunday at the Post

News, notes, game previews and a tragic death in the NFL. Michael Lombardi

Print This December 20, 2009, 09:15 AM EST

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“We knew him in a different way than his public persona. He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom. And he was going to have the future we all wanted for him. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him.” -- Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals owner

The NFL was deeply saddened by the news of the death last week of Chris Henry. Just as Henry was starting to realize his full potential on and off the field, he lost his life in a tragic accident. His absence from the team because of a broken arm greatly affected the offense, and now his death, which seems so senseless, is nothing less than devastating.

“Chris was a guy that I believe, and our team believes, was heavily misunderstood. There was a lot of speculation about who he was, but the only guys that knew Chris and knew how good of a heart he had, how kind he was, how gentle he was, how soft of a heart he had, were the guys in our locker room, the guys who were close to him, his family.” -- Carson Palmer, Bengals QB

Everyone here at the Post sends our sincere condolences to the Henry family and prays for his three children, DeMarcus, 10 months; Seini, 3; and Chris Jr., 2. They will greatly miss their father.

AROUND THE NFL...

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” -- Oren Arnold

1. My sense is that Mike Holmgren will have two different salaries if he takes the Browns job. The higher one — in the $8-million range – will be if he’s the president/head coach/GM. The lower salary, $4 million, will be if he’s just the team president. The feeling in the Browns’ building is that everyone might be gone — everyone — which means head coach Eric Mangini would be one and done.

2. I know the Redskins say they complied with the Rooney Rule on the hiring of their new general manager, Bruce Allen, but when there’s not an official opening for the job, it minimizes the rule.

3. The Buffalo Bills have been very quiet in their search for a head coach and general manager. They seem inclined to go after a “name” head coach first, then allow him to have a say in the formation of the front office. But one thing is for sure: Russ Brandon will be leading the search and will be in the organization, no matter whom they hire. The one thing never confirmed, but circulating around the league, is that Mike Shanahan had Bruce Allen on his list of GM candidates in Buffalo. Not sure that one is true.

4. CSNChicago.com has learned that Lovie Smith will be back as Bears coach in 2010. So Lovie is back -- but does that mean he’ll fire himself as the defensive coordinator? It will be interesting in Chicago this offseason.

5. Heard from many sources last week: Vinny Cerrato was, in fact, talking to Shanahan before his firing — a firing that caught Cerrato off guard. But as a high-ranking NFL official told me, it’s still Mike Shanahan in Washington, with his son Kyle and former defensive coordinator Bob Slowik in a yet-to-be-determined role. The only team that can derail this Shanahan train to D.C. is the Dallas Cowboys.

6. Jim Fassel of the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives might be strongly in play in Oakland if the Raiders decide not to bring back coach Tom Cable. Fassel is well thought of by many in the organization.

7. Look for the Eagles to start working Brian Westbrook this week and possibly have him ready to play next week for their game against the Broncos.

8. Happy birthday to former Raider Rich Gannon today. Enjoy.

GAMES OF THE WEEK THAT HAVE MY INTEREST…

“There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” -- Erma Bombeck

Atlanta Falcons (6-7) at New York Jets (7-6)

The Jets boast the top rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 169.1 yards per game and 4.6 yards per play (T-4th in NFL). The Falcons have allowed 117.8 rush yards per game (23rd in NFL), but they’ve only allowed an average of 89.8 in their last four games. Because of the weather, it might come down to the running game all the way.

The Falcons will have a tough time matching up to the Jets, especially with their defensive line. The Jets’ attitude, regardless of who’s playing quarterback, will be to control the ball with the run. Play good defense and cut down the offense so they don’t turn over the ball.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) at Tennessee Titans (6-7)

The Dolphins are 13th in rush defense (106.1 YPG) and face the Titans’ second-ranked rush offense (165.3 YPG).

Chris Johnson leads NFL with 6.0 yards per rush and leads NFL with 1,626 rush yards this season. He’s on pace for 2,001 rush yards. Johnson needs 480 rush yards (160.0 YPG) to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 rush yards in 1984.

Vince Young is 6-1 as starter, with seven TDs and two INTs. With a bad hamstring, he’ll have to win the game with his arm

The Titans are seventh in the NFL in rush defense (98.8 YPG), but Dolphins QB Chad Henne has been hot and, like Young, will have to win the game with his arm. Henne is 7-3 as starter this season

A win would give the Titans a .500 record for the first time this season. They’re 4-2 at home and have won four in a row at home.

The Dolphins are 6-0 in December under Tony Sparano. Six of their seven wins have been by seven points or less, including each of their last six wins.

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING...

“If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important.” -- Bertrand Russell

Great article on decision making and Pickett's Charge.

A new EBook from Seth Godin.

Why the Chargers rule December.

Top Ten Holiday Gifts.

STORIES TO SHARE...

“This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!” -- D.M. Dellinger

Strange and Different

Author Unknown, Source Unknown

On a December night in Chicago, a little girl climbed onto her father's lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in children's curiosity, yet it had a heart-rending effect on Robert May.

“Daddy,” four-year old Barbara asked, “Why isn't my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?”

Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two-room apartment. On a couch lay his young wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years, she had been bedridden; for two years, all Bob's income and smaller savings had gone to pay for treatments and medicines.

The terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Now Bob suddenly realized the happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through Barbara's hair, he prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question.

Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be “different.” As a child, he had been weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Later at Dartmouth, from which he was graduated in 1926, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little brother.

Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates who floated from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33, Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.

Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousle-haired child on his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby Chicago apartment, Bob cradled his little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell a story.

“Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.

Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too.

Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity.

“Well,” continued Bob, “one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer -- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixon -- ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn’t be able to find any chimney.

Suddenly, Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in.

They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon.

And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day, and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy.”

Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Every night she begged him to repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time, he decided to make the story into a poem like “The Night Before Christmas” and prepare it in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara’s personal gift. Night after night, Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed, for he was determined his daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one.

Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck.

Evelyn May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on “Rudolph” with tears in his eyes.

Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning, Bob was asked to an employees holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the poem and read it to the crowd. First, the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938.

By Christmas of 1947, some 6 million copies of the booklet had been given away or sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand for Rudolph-sponsored products increased so much in variety and number that educators and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the Christmas legend.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a character created in a story and song by the same name. The story was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward.

The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been sold in numerous forms, including a popular song, a television special (done in stop motion animation) and a feature film. Character Arts, LLC [1] manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P. Although the story and song are not public domain, Rudolph has become a figure of Christmas folklore.

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