Jews in the News: Taylor Mays, Alexander Marpet and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Football and Yogi

The following five Jewish players were on an NFL team as of Sept. 24. Jewish Sports Review magazine aided this item:

NATE EBNER, 26, free safety, New England Patriots. Now in his 4th season, Ebner has established himself as an outstanding special teams player.

TAYLOR MAYS, 27, free safety, Oakland Raiders. In a happy way, Mays could quote the famous “Godfather III” line: “I thought I was out, but they brought me back-in!”  A college star at U.S.C., Mays had a so/so career in four seasons with the Cincinnati. Released at the end of last season, he was signed and then quickly released by Minnesota, Detroit, and Oakland (Aug. 25). However, on Sept. 15, he was re-signed by Oakland following injuries to Raider safeties. He started in the team’s home opener. Mays, by the way, is son of an African-American, non-Jewish father (Stafford Mays, an 8-year NFL player, now a Microsoft executive) and a white Jewish mother who is a Nordstrom’s executive. He was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah.

ALEXANDER “ALI” MARPET, 22, guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He’s the only Jewish rookie this year. Marpet has defied the odds: he made the NFL after a small school career (Hobart College in upstate New York) and he started the Bucs’ first two games. Marpet went on a Birthright trip to Israel (his father worked in Israel during the mid-1970s as a TV cameraman).

GEOFF SCHWARTZ, 29, guard, N.Y. Giants. Now in his 7th season, Schwartz was injured most of last season. Healthy now, he started the first two Giants’ games--and--MITCHELL SCHWARTZ, 26, tackle, Cleveland Browns.  Mitchell, a very good, steady player, and the brother of Geoff, has started in ALL the Browns games since being signed in 2012 (50 straight games as of Sept. 20, 2015).  Mendel, by the way, is Mitchell’s Hebrew name and Gedalia Yitzhak is Geoff’s Hebrew name. 

New York Yankee great Yogi Berra, who died last week, was famous for his baseball skills and his memorable one line comments, or “Yogisms”. Most “Yogisms” were, in the NY Times words, somehow both nonsensical and sagacious (like “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” and “You can observe a lot by just by watching”.) Sometimes the “Yogisms” were just plain wrong in a funny way. Sadly, many memorable remarks attributed to Berra were writers’ inventions.

I am glad to say that one of my favorite Yogi quotes was actually said by Berra. He verified this in his 1998 book, “The Yogi Book, I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said!”  In 1956, New York papers were full of stories that Dublin, Ireland had elected ROBERT BRISCOE its first Jewish Lord Mayor. Berra was asked about Dublin electing a Jewish mayor and he replied: “Only in America!”

In his book, Berra explained: “Geography was never my strong suit.”

New TV Show and New Movies

Starting on Thursday, Oct. 1 (10PM) was the eight-episode IFC comedy series, “Benders”. It follows a group of friends bonded by their obsession with their amateur hockey team. The team leader is Paul Rosenberg (who one would guess is a Jewish character). His team involvement is tough on Karen, his wife. All of "Benders" stars are relative unknowns.  But I’m 99 percent certain that stand-up comedian ANDREW SCHULZ, 28, who plays Paul, and LINDSEY BROAD, who plays Karen, are Jewish. If the Rosenbergs are Jewish characters—we may have that very rare TV thing—two Jews playing a Jewish married couple.

“The Walk”, a 3-D film, stars JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, 34, as Phillipe Petit, the French tight-rope walker who is most famous for stringing a line (1974) between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and successfully walking from one tower to the next. Gordon-Levitt told “The Guardian” newspaper about how acting prepared him for the role: “There are some similarities between wire-walking and acting. It’s all a mental game. When you’re acting, there’s this chaos going on around you and you have to compartmentalize and not think about it. It’s the same on the wire. If you start thinking, ‘Ooh, I’m so high up,’ or ‘I could lose my balance,’ then you’re done for. You can learn the physical. Staying focused – that’s the trick.” (Opens Friday, Oct. 2)

PETER SOLLETT, 39, has directed two quality features: “Raising Victor Vargas” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” His new film, “Freeheld,” tells the true story of a lesbian police officer with terminal cancer who fought to leave her pension benefits to her domestic partner. (Opens Oct. 2)



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