Remembering Bobby Mitchell

Bobby Mitchell, star of the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died yesterday. He was 84. No cause of death was given.

Mitchell broke the Redskins’ color barrier, but said he wanted to be remembered first and foremost as a great player, rather than an historically significant one. In this post, I will honor that wish. You can read about his historical significance in a post I wrote in 2012.

When Mitchell retired after the 1968 season, he ranked third in NFL history in total all-purpose yards and fifth in career touchdowns. Moreover, Mitchell was a star at two positions — first as a running back for Cleveland and then as a wide receiver (“flanker”) for Washington.

When the Redskins moved Mitchell to flanker, it seemed like a strange decision considering what a great runner Mitchell was. Indeed, he had set the record for most yards rushing in a single game (surpassed many times since), and had set it against the Redskins. In addition, he had made the Pro Bowl as a running back.

But Washington coach Bill McPeak knew what he was doing. Running behind the Redskins line was a difficult proposition for anyone. McPeak wanted to isolate Mitchell on defenders to take advantage of his great speed and moves.

The coach called Mitchell “the ultimate flanker,” and the player proceeded to revolutionize the position. The NFL had great pass catchers like Raymond Berry and gifted speedsters like Tommy McDonald. But before Mitchell, no receiver in the game combined his speed, shiftiness, and ability to outjump defenders for the ball.

In his debut game, against the Dallas Cowboys, Mitchell scored on pass plays of 81 and 6 yards, and set up two other touchdowns with a pass reception and an interference call. He also contributed a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That’s 35 points, which is what the Redskins scored in a 35-35 tie.

Mitchell’s next game was at Cleveland. The Browns went all out to stop their former teammate, and did limit him to three catches. However, on one of them, a quick, short pass to the flank, Mitchell juked his man-to-man defender and outraced the entire Cleveland defense for a long touchdown. On the day, Mitchell’s three catches produced 94 yards, and the Redskins (who had won only once the previous year) gained a shock victory over the Browns.

The Redskins also won the next week, behind Mitchell. The “ultimate flanker” caught seven passes for 174 yards and two more touchdowns.

As the season went on, defenses focused more and more on Mitchell, but his productivity was little diminished. He delivered five more games of 100 plus yards receiving, and ended the 14 game season with 72 catches for 1,384 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mitchell accomplished this with a young, ordinary quarterback (Norm Snead), an unimposing offensive line, and no other high-quality receiver.

The next season, Mitchell was good for even more yards receiving — 1,436 — an average of more than 100 per game. He led the league in receiving yards both seasons and, of course, made the Pro Bowl in both, as well as in 1964.

The Redskins have been blessed with many fine receivers since 1962, including two all-time greats — Charlie Taylor (also a converted running back) and Art Monk. But for my money, none ever played the position quite as well as Bobby Mitchell did in his first two seasons with the Redskins, during which he bore the burdens of breaking the color barrier in Washington, D.C. and carrying the hopes of the city’s large black population.

After Mitchell retired as a player, Vince Lombardi recommended him for a position in the Redskins’ front office. Mitchell served there for decades.

He was also a presence in the D.C. community. When my father was president of a local union, he asked Mitchell to speak to members and potential members. These were among the lowest paid workers in the area — garbage collectors, janitors, hospital orderlies, etc.

Mitchell answered the call, and in so doing gave the union a boost.

All told, Mitchell was with the Redskins for 40 plus years and continued to reside in the area for nearly 20 more. I never heard anyone speak of him in other than glowing terms.


A Party of Haters

The Democrats are hysterically blaming President Trump for the fact that the Wuhan virus is killing some Americans. No doubt, they also will blame Trump for the recession that will be caused, not by the virus, but by government’s reaction–overreaction, in my opinion–to the virus.

In doing this, the Democrats are making some critical assumptions. They assume that voters won’t remember that when President Trump banned travel from China at the end of January, Democrats unanimously (including Joe Biden) denounced his action as racist and xenophobic. While, on the other hand, as late as February 24, Nancy Pelosi did a photo-op for San Francisco news stations in Chinatown, strolling down the sidewalk surrounded by community “leaders” and cameramen, urging everyone to come to Chinatown, the rumored virus is no problem, no one is sick here.

They assume, further, that voters won’t remember that prior to the virus panic, the U.S. had probably the strongest economy in our history, with record levels of employment and rising wages. It wasn’t Trump’s fault that a global pandemic damaged the economy–not, that is, unless you think that Trump overreacted, which is an argument the Democrats can’t make.

Those are problems. But they aren’t the Democrats’ biggest problem. Their biggest problem is Trump’s argument that his vigorous conduct of the “war” against the coronavirus saved countless lives. Disease modelers, who have no track record of success, predicted as many as two million deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. More conservative modelers, like those at the University of Washington, have predicted 80,000 or 90,000 deaths, even with a total shutdown of our economy. I doubt that those numbers will be approached. No one is now talking about millions of deaths, or a million deaths. The Washington group is already backing down on its predictions, with its hospitalization numbers turning out to be wildly inflated. At the moment, it seems more likely that the COVID-19 fatality total may look like a bad flu season, in the U.S.

So what is the Democrats’ answer when Trump claims credit for saving a million lives? That the modelers were all wet from the beginning? They can’t say that (although it is true) because they have been hysterically demanding that the administration do more, ever since they stopped hysterically demanding that the administration do less. It is hard to see the Democrats’ end game here.

So the Democrats are doing what they do best: they are resorting to hate. They rely on blind, irrational hatred of President Trump to win back the White House and empower their socialist dreams. Examples could be multiplied endlessly–just go on Twitter!–but here are a couple.

Haley Stevens is an actual Congresswoman from Michigan. She tweeted this, and apparently has deleted it since her Republican opponent started using it in his fundraising appeals:

Totally rational. Then we have state Rep. Tavia Galonski of Ohio, who tweeted this:

Galonski’s vow to charge Trump with crimes against humanity at the Hague was applauded by a large number of Democrats. What was the president’s “crime against humanity?” Apparently, his suggestion during a press briefing that chloroquine could prove to be an effective treatment for the Wuhan virus.

There isn’t much point in trying to talk rationally to a guy in an asylum who thinks he is Napoleon. Likewise, there probably isn’t much point in trying to talk rationally to a Democratic politician or activist in 2020 America. But for what it is worth, let’s just note that 1) the variants of chloroquine are all prescription drugs that will not be administered absent a prescription by a doctor, who probably doesn’t intend to commit a crime against humanity; 2) numerous studies have found chloroquine compounds, alone or in combination with other drugs, to be effective treatments for COVID-19 sufferers; 3) chloroquine has now been approved by the FDA as a COVID-19 treatment; and 4) even assuming that the president was wrong, making a wrong prediction about the efficacy of a drug treatment is hardly a “crime against humanity.”

Is it possible that American voters will give power to a party running on a platform of the crudest, most ignorant hate? I doubt it. The Democrats know that they have the press on their side; the Washington Post, for instance, is just one short notch above Ms. Stevens and Ms. Galonski. But the days when the press could choose a president are long gone, if they ever existed.

My prediction for 2020? #LoveWins.

Corona meltdowns

The great Victor Davis Hanson eloquently chronicles the “Corona meltdowns” of Nancy Pelosi, the media, and Joe Biden in his American Greatness column of that name. This is his take on the media circus on we see in the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings:

Watching the media deal with the daily White House briefings reminds the country that we have never had journalism of this low character before—not in the acrimony over the Founding, not in the furor during the Civil War, not even in the age of yellow journalism at the turn of the 20th century.

Reporters do not wish to transmit knowledge to the public that might aid in confronting the virus. They do not even wish to clarify murky statements from public officials to ensure Americans know exactly what the government wants them to do.

Instead, journalists during White House briefings fixate on two agendas.

One is to goad the president into saying something sloppy, by repeatedly suggesting that in reacting to the virus, he was in error, that he is cruel and heartless, or that he is dangerous. That gotcha obsession explains why the media can call Trump a xenophobe and racist for issuing a travel ban against China—contrary to the earlier advice of WHO, the Centers for Disease Control, the media, and the entire Democratic Party hierarchy—then silently support it. It explains why they then use doctored Chinese data and propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party to convince Americans that China—a nation that lied about the origins, spread, and nature of the virus—is admirably doing a better job in containing the virus than is their own country. Even the media cannot keep straight their own anti-Trump gymnastics.

If evidence convinces Trump to let the public know that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are efficacious in treating patients infected with coronavirus, then reporters will seek to persuade Americans that such off-label uses have no utility and are dangerous—even if they have to stoop to find some nut who drank fish-tank cleaner, clearly marked unfit for human consumption, to argue that a nonpotable chloroquine derivative cleaning agent provides proof of “Dr.” Trump’s deadly ignorance.

But the White House press obsesses over a second agenda, too. It must always prove that previously respected figures like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, once embraced by the liberal media in their pre-Trump days, either are in revolt against their doltish boss or brainwashed into obsequious enslavement to the president. Often the media advances both antithetical scenarios near simultaneously.

The third rail for the media is that Fauci and Birx are empirical and sound mostly politically disinterested. They seek to provide Trump with scientific data about the virus to balance his incoming streams of financial, economic, military, and cultural information.

When Trump accepts their advice over objections from other advisors with competing national concerns, the two feel it was for the good of the country. When he demurs, they press their arguments as advocates of public health. And when they rarely lose an argument the two concede the president has to balance dozens of existential concerns.

In other words, it would be hard, for anyone other than the current press corps, on Monday to paint Fauci and Birx as frustrated scientists at the mercy of a moron who refuses to listen to science, while on Tuesday writing off both as Trump toadies who have joined the forces of darkness.

But that is currently the schizophrenic state of the American media. The only constant is that whatever Trump advocated, they are against, even if lives are at stake. And whatever Trump policy seems to be working for the good of the country, they either deny or ignore it.

Another irony: While the current media is the logical culmination of the liberal biases of the more polite leftwing domination of network and print media of the late twentieth century, it is now also far more vulnerable to exposure and ridicule. After all, it was progressive Silicon Valley’s creation of the Internet website and social media that have allowed truth to emerge past even media filters, truth that has largely exposed the media as incompetent, meanspirited, and increasingly irrelevant.

I question only Victor’s slightly optimistic conclusions. He is certainly correct that the Internet has extended and democratized the playing field. Having played our own small part to expose and ridicule the media, however, I am afraid we are beating our head against the wall and, as Victor acutely observes, the press is worse than ever. With that small quibble, I recommend the whole thing here.

Ventilators Are No Panacea

That is the theme of this article in the Spectator by Dr. Matt Strauss, a critical care physician. He begins:

‘More ventilators!’ cried the journalists on Twitter. ‘Yes, more ventilators!’ replied the politicians. ‘Where are the ventilators?’ demanded the journalists, now screaming on television. ‘Yes, even more!’ replied the government, somewhat nonsensically.

That sums up a lot of the current discourse succinctly.

I am a critical care physician, specializing in the use of such machines. I’m flattered by all the attention our tools are receiving. But I fear the current clamor reminds me of nothing so much as the panic buyers of toilet-paper stampeding over each other in early March. When the history of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Western world is written, I do not believe ‘massive ramp-up of ventilator manufacturing,’ will be credited with our deliverance.

Why is that? To begin with, “Ventilators do not cure any disease.” They fill your lungs with air when you can’t do that on your own, and there are various situations where their use is indicated, including, e.g., certain surgeries. Generally, a patient with a severe lung problem is put on a ventilator “on the hope that I can do something to treat their lung problem and liberate them from their ventilator dependence within a few days.” However, unless we assume that chloroquine or something else is accepted as an effective treatment, it is “at least conceivable that putting patients on ventilators for COVID-19 pneumonia could be a bridge to nowhere.”

Further, ventilators themselves are not risk-free:

When we mechanically blow air into your damaged lungs faster and harder than humanly possible, ventilator-induced lung injury may result. Generally, for a person to tolerate the undertaking, we have to sedate them, leading to immobility and severe weakness. While sedated, the person cannot cough or clear their airway effectively, leading to superimposed bacterial pneumonia.

This is an awful lot to survive.

So far, the data are not encouraging:

[I]n the case of COVID-19, the preliminary outcome data is rather dismal. On Monday, the New England Journal of Medicine published a case series of very ill COVID-19 patients in Seattle with data up to March 23: of the 20 patients who went on a ventilator, only four had so far escaped the hospital alive. Nine had died. Three remained in suspended animation, going on three or four weeks of ventilation. Four escaped the ventilator but remained in hospital.

Dr. Strauss notes that in New York, doctors are under pressure from administrators to put patients on ventilators “earlier than would otherwise be recommended,” in part to reduce the risk of infection to hospital staff. He concludes:

To put it simply, we do not know how many lives ventilators could or will save. It seems that at least two-thirds of attempts to stave off death with their use will fail in the short term. Of the remaining third, we do not know how many will be successful in the medium or long term. This doesn’t quite seem like a convincing rationale to shut down the economy, redirect previous manufacturing output towards ventilators and suspend civil liberties to give us more time for the attempt. And those bemoaning the government’s failure to demand more and more ventilators should pause for a moment and ask themselves whether that is really the right solution.

To the extent that shutting down our economy is done for the sake of “flattening the curve,” and a prime rationale for flattening the curve is to allow more ventilators to be deployed, we may be pursuing a futile, but incomprehensibly expensive, strategy.

Boris Johnson update — he’s in the intensive care unit

It looks like I was too optimistic when I wrote about Boris Johnson’s condition last night. I hoped that, like a friend of mine who has the Wuhan coronavirus, Johnson’s visit to the hospital was just a precautionary measure in response to his inability to shake the fever that comes with the virus. That is how Downing Street characterized it.

However, Johnson’s condition has worsened, and he’s been rushed to the hospital’s intensive care unit. Reportedly, Johnson is conscious but was moved to the ICU in case he needed to be placed on a ventilator.

Initially, Johnson planned to remain in charge of the government while in the hospital. Now that he’s in the ICU, he has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to stand in.

Johnson’s pregnant girlfriend has also experienced symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus, but was never tested. She says she is “on the mend” and “feeling stronger” after a week of bed rest.

Johnson and his girl friend reportedly self isolated separately after becoming ill.

IHME model lowers its projected number of U.S. deaths

For better or for worse, the University of Washington’s IHME model has become, for many governmental units, the go-to set of projections relating to the Wuhan coronavirus in the U.S. Governments credit the IHME’s forecasts of cases, deaths, hospitalizations, and strain on medical resources.

Until today, the IHME was forecasting 93,531 deaths from the virus (through early August). Now, it has lowered that number to 81,766. This number is in line with the model’s initial forecast (or at least the first such forecast of which I’m aware).

The model still predicts that the daily death rate from the virus will peak on April 16.

According to this report, the information that led to the downward revision includes data from states showing lower ratios of hospital admissions to deaths. According to the same report:

The IHME model assumes that all states will lock down — closing schools, telling residents to stay at home, closing nonessential businesses — and that “implementation and adherence to these measures is complete.” It also assumes the continuation of social distancing until early August, well beyond the April 30 guidelines currently set forth by the White House.

(Emphasis added)

Does this “social distancing” mean complete adherence to a sweeping nationwide lockdown until August? That seems like an unrealistic assumption and a highly undesirable course of action.

New York state’s Wuhan coronavirus numbers

Yesterday, April 5, New York state reported 599 deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus. To put this number in perspective, it’s 74 more than Italy reported and five more than Spain did.

However, it’s a slight decrease from the 630 reported deaths from the virus on Friday. It looks like New York’s death count has plateaued. And, according to Gov. Cuomo, the numbers suggest that the spread of the virus in New York is nearing its apex.

Cuomo also says that hospitalizations due to the virus are declining. The total number of hospitalizations in New York is significantly lower than that projected by the University of Washington’s IHME model. That model seems somehow to have overestimated the number of New York hospitalizations by 400 percent. At the same time, the model’s prediction of deaths in New York has been reasonably accurate so far.

At Hot Air, Allahpundit speculates as to why the IHME model was so far off in forecasting New York hospitalizations.

In any case, the news from New York is mildly encouraging. To me, the big question is whether the U.S. will see a significant number of mini-New Yorks.