It’s Never Too Late ……………

It’s Never Too Late ……..

There’s been a lull on the sports horizon and very little of late that has been happening . It was however sad to hear and read about the death of Hall of Famer John Mackey . The 69 year old died in his sleep at an assisted living facility during which he suffered many ailments such as dementia , epileptic seizures and the early stages of Alzheimers but the troubling thing related to Mackey’s untimely demise is the mere fact that this former NFLPA President saw that the NFL has done little to assist former players with aid benefits . John Mackey a prodigious and productive player over the course of his career but the sadness in his passing should be something that the NFL can perhaps learn from.

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Slide show for your perusal .

And as saddening as it was to heat of John Mackey’s passing , consider this concerning what can be described as part of the former of NFL player’s last moments on the earth . He had to have constant around the clock assistance as he has lost many of motor neuron skills , a colostomy bag was part of the player’s regimen as he was unable use a restroom under his own volition . Unable to care for himself with a sense of dignity this was how this former NFL player spent his final days on this earth , not quite in a place of degradation but it was simply has to be humiliating to know that this simply is an untold story that seems to another episode that the NFL would rather not let the world actually have an eye on . The underbelly and the dark side of what happens to many of the players that sacrificed so much for their love of the game and with a view to finding success and fame. In retirement we are under the impression that many of the players from Mackey’s generation and prior have all the means where they will be able to take care of themselves with all of the amenities one would deem available to them . But that was certainly not the case and it would now appear for many of his contemporaries from the era he played in a similar position .

We are constantly bombarded with the message that the NFL cares about its own but in reality how true is that to begin with ? Far too many players are actually falling through the cracks when it comes to the so called care that’s said to be provided by the NFL and in particular by the players’ own union the NFLPA . And inasmuch as the alleged assistance that was being provided to the player at the time of his death in terms of benefits to assist him in his time of need , so much more could have been done to assist Mackey and many of his kind who are suffering

The sad part to this all is that while the NFL labor stoppage now in its 116th day very little has been mentioned as what the league’s intent will be with regard to retired veterans and how they will be assisted . More we have been led to believe as part of these labor negotiations has been to do with how the league heirarchy and the NFLPA will split their $9 billion revenue stream . DeMaurice Smith as Executive Director of the NFLPA much like his predecessor Gene Upshaw has said little about the issue of current veterans as to their benefits . And though Mackey died in an assisting living facility what might be even more surprising was the mere fact that the former NFL great’s benefits were actually cut to such an extent that it seems inconceivable that the league now feels that is doing more now than ever before in providing assistance for their former now retired members . If that is the case then perhaps they can somehow explain why it was that former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Webster and Dave Duerson died under such degrading circumstances ? This player part of the Steelers’ Iron Curtain and was a man of honor but his death was in such a stark contrast to what his career was said to be all about. We know that his story has been well chronicled , bouts of alcoholism , depression but again Smith suffered from chronic headaches all due to his career in the NFL .

Throughout the course of his career Mike Webster is said to have suffered as many as a dozen game concussions over the course of his career through much of which the medical observations and advice given to the player was extremely poor. And granted the NFL has progressed a great deal in the years since Webster retired from the game with regard to information and research that the medical establishment has provided from their research into the cause and effect of concussions and head traumas. It hasn’t been the NFL that has actually laid the groundwork in this research but academia and in particular such noted colleges of medicine such Boston University School of Medicine & Neuro Sciences , Harvard School of Medicine & Neurology , Stanford School of Medicine & Neurology as well as the AMA’s own conclusive and incisive research. That being said it has been the NFL’s reluctance even with their own medical counsel who have simply said to the contrary that there was no discerning cause and effect with regard head trauma , concussions and the debiliatating maladies suffered by the players in the aftermath of their retirement from the NFL . Dave Duerson suffered from extreme bouts of depression having suffered multiple concussions over the course of his career but the sadness under circumstances that led to the player taking his own life cannot simply be misplaced as another act of another suicide. There has to be a real reason behind these cases and much of that can be related to the mere fact that the NFL itself has not been there to meet the needs of the retired players.

As I alluded to earlier with Mike Webster’s death came as a shock to many but the conditions surrounding his death are so inconceivable and beyond belief. We know that the player had fallen on hard times that he sought help but little had been forthcoming from the NFLPA and was beyond comprehension to believe that here was a real giant of the game who at the time of his death lived in squalor , suffered with dementia , bouts of severe depression. But what could be even more troubling was the fact that Mike Webster with his medical issues died under such dire circumstances where at times he would defecate and urinate on himself while trying to hold a normal conversation with family members or friends.I am not so sure that in the midst of this all the NFL fully understands the serious ramifications from the course of action that it has failed to take over the years.

I find it rather ironic however that players such as NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and Drew Brees now suggest that this lockout has more to do with asssisting the retired and veteran players than it has to do with dealing with a mere labor issue. Perhaps I’m mistaken but this discussion rarely comes up over the course of their negotiations or the formal statements made to the print and television media . It could well now be that the NFLPA much like the league hierarchy are now seeking to curry favor by seeking the public’s sympathy in the ongoing charade. This has never been a labor dispute in the true sense of the word because it has been in fact merely been about money and how best each side can try to outdo each other while simply not losing face in the eyes of the onlooking public ! It may well be too little too late at the end of the day as it appears that now more than ever before so many former NFL players are living in suffering in such dire circumstances and many of whom may well die in such in such abject squalor or perhaps in other such conditions beyond their control .

In the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement from the Arizona Cardinals it was apparent that the organization would face an uphill battle trying to remain relevant within the league . And for head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his coaches this past season”> season was a trying time for the fans , the team and in particular the Bidwill family as owners of the team.

Given the fact that the team having drafted Matt Leinart his lack of candor and command in learning the nuances of being a quarterback in the NFL . It is extremely understandable to see the reason why this team has failed so miserably in the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement . Leinart with having a heralded career with USC at the collegiate level he has completely failed to live up to the percieved hype that would suggest that he had the makings of a NFL caliber quarterback. His career in the NFL so far can be best described as mediocre for want of a better word !

Coming off a 5-11 season within the NFC West season where the team simply underperformed . Much of that came down to the fact that there simply wasn’t a quarterback on this roster that good enough to command with the respect of the team much less play with any degree of consistency. You cannot imply to me that the likes of Max Hall , Derek Anderson , John Skelton or Richard Bartel are what the coaches of this organization now have the belief in guiding them to the promise land less and a legitimate shot at the Superbowl ! There’s more chance to be had with Andre Bocelli spending a night of passionate unadulterated sex with several porn stars than the premise of seeing that trio of quarterbacks actually leading the Cardinals to a winning season much less raising the Lombardi Trophy in triumph !

From an offensive standpoint the Cardinals are quite an attractive team but without a signal caller of confidence and the ability to lead they will continue to come up short . It would be pretty safe to say that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the league and certainly noteworthy enough to be considered amongst the top five overall ! But the real problem has that has simply bedeviled this team over the past season has simply been not being able to close out games with authority when they have their opponents on the ropes . This above anything else has to have been truly worrisome for Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff .

This upcoming season it will be very interesting to see whether or not the Arizona Cardinals can acquit themselves with any real degree of authority and simply be considered contenders within the NFC West and the conference overall . They’ve shown signs defensively that they’ve made some progression but clearly there has to be a great deal more consistency on both sides of the ball from this team !

One of the most pressing issues for the Cardinals also will be to quell the rise in discontent with Larry Fitzgerald as the player is now said to be genuinely dissatisfied with the direction that the organization is said to be apparently going in. It is abundantly clear that this organization can ill afford to lose a player of Fitzgerald’s caliber and simply become an also ran amongst the ranks of the NFC . And that is something that clearly Rod Graves as the team’s general manager or members of the Bidwill family would like to see isa disgruntled star player looking for a trade . But let’s face facts here if this team can’t take care of business this season then in all certainty Fitzgerald will want out ………. no matter what !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below
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(1) John Mackey, left, and Ralph Wenzel were both on the San Diego Chargers in 1972, but have no memory of playing together. Courtesy of The New York Times /Brendan Smialowski ….

(2) John Mackey, left, seen here some five years prior to his death with his rings from Super Bowl V and the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and Ralph Wenzel at the Annapolitan Assisted Living Community in Annapolis Maryland. Mr. Mackey, 65, and Mr. Wenzel, 64, both have dementia. Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times ……..

(3) Dave Duerson (right) is seen here testifying before Congress in June of 2007 . In the background seated is former Dallas Cowboys’ player Darryl Johnston . Duerson’s testimony to Congress dealt with the issues of neurological disorders suffered by current and retired players . He was a staunch advocate also for the rights of players with regard their medical plight , denial of benefits and numerous other health related issues. He was only 50 years old at the time of his death. AP/ Malcolm Warren …………

(4) Webster and Bradsahaw seen here in Cantion , Ohio, home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame . AP Photo/archives …

(5) First round draft pick, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals speaks during a press conference at the team’s training center auditorium on April 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. Getty Images / Christian Petersen ……

(6) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) catches an 11-yard touchdown in front of San Francisco 49ers safety Reggie Smith (30) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 38-7 to the San Francisco 49ers . AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(7) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson (99) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton in the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. San Francisco 49ers corner-back Shawntae Spencer was also credited on the sack. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(8) (L-R) Quarterbacks Matt Leinart (7) left and Kurt Warner (13) of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after winning the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 32-25 to advance to the Super Bowl. Getty Images North America /Jamie Squires ……
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NFL News

Arizona Cardinals news

I Did It My Way ………………

I Did It My Way ……………

I’ve always felt a great admiration for an athlete who walks away from the game on their own terms , rather than in the end for them having to be shown the door unceremoniously . It happens far too often with regard to the latter. And I know there’ll be those out there who will say that it’s their right to go on as long it’s humanly possible. But consider this , in the real world there’s a mandatory retirement age. And granted, we see people in all walks of working late into their years in a variety of fields. We’re not going to see someone in their late forties still playing in the NFL . Well , not unless your name happens to be Brett Favre. I can only surmise, that he wants to play ‘til he’s as old as Methuselah ? And for those of you who aren’t religious or perhaps have never read the Bible. Methuselah happened to be the oldest recorded person from that venerable book.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner announces his retirement from football with his family Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 at the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, Ariz. photo appears courtesy  of  Associated  Press / Matt  York ........
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner announces his retirement from football with his family Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 at the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, Ariz. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Matt York ........

Well after 12 years in the NFL, Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback, Kurt Warner , has to decided to call it a day. He goes out on his own terms having had a story book career . A two time league MVP, Superbowl (SB XXXIV) winner and Supebowl winning MVP. Amongst other accolades , Warner has three of the top five performances ever as a quart back in the Superbowl. If that’s enough to book him a place in Canton , Ohio, then they might as well shut the frigging place down once and for all ! Never mind the regular season stats that’ve littered his career. Kurt Warner has been an exemplary player, teammate and an outstanding human being. And there are not too many sport’s individuals that one can say that about in this day and age. I don’t care in what sporting endeavor you might care to name. There has never been any controversy surrounding Warner on or off the field. And his peers past and present consider him to be amongst the very best not only as competitor , teammate or opponent. But also in terms of his character and his compassion for other less well of than him. That will be the measure of Warner’s legacy upon the NFL.

Now having said this, I must admit that his retirement hasn’t taken me by complete surprise. I understand why he now feels it’s time to bow out from a stage he graced so successfully. He’s a family man but also someone who has devoted a great time in the pursuance of helping others. And his beliefs , as he’s a devout Christian , wills Warner now to a higher calling . In this case it’s not solely about spreading the world of Christ but also to as I’d previously stated is to help those in need. It’s the same approach that was taken by former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy. And it is now the same path that Warner will now follow . Both men , their accomplishments and their calling are commendable traits !

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner holds his daughter Sierra Warner, 4, as he stands with his family from left, Kade Warner, 11, Jada Warner, 8, Elijah Warner, 6, Sienna Warner, 4, wife Brenda Warner, Zack Warner, 20, and Jesse Warner, 18. after he announced his retirement from football Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 at the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, Ariz. photo  appears  courtesy  of Associated  Press/ Matt York  .....
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner holds his daughter Sierra Warner, 4, as he stands with his family from left, Kade Warner, 11, Jada Warner, 8, Elijah Warner, 6, Sienna Warner, 4, wife Brenda Warner, Zack Warner, 20, and Jesse Warner, 18. after he announced his retirement from football Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 at the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, Ariz. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Matt York .....

Now looking at the Cardinals going forward, I think that they have a solid foundation, from which to build upon. That being said , I’m not quite sure as of yet that Matt Leinart possesses the temperament to lead this team. It’s all well and good that he had things essentially handed to him on a silver platter with USC. But since his arrival in the NFL , he’s yet to show that he has the capacity for learning the game , much less show signs of maturity. How else can one explain the petulance shown by him when he was replaced as the starter on the Cardinals’ team by coach, Ken Whisenhunt ? If that doesn’t indicate that Leinart, when at USC was all about self entitlement, rather than doing what is best for the team. Then it’s easy to understand the reason why he’s struggled to make his presence felt in the NFL. With Warner , having been given the starter’s role on the team they haven’t looked back since.

It will definitely be strange, next season to see this Cardinals’ team take the field and no longer see Warner there , with his name emblazoned on the back of his jersey. But as I alluded to earlier , he walks away from this game under his own steam , in good health , knowing that he’s accomplished a great many feats that perhaps none of us could ever have dreamed him doing . Warner did things his way and for that I for am grateful to say that it has been indeed a privilege to see him play. Anything beyond that is now just an after thought.

I don’t think anyone could’ve said it better than ol’ “Blue Eyes”… Frank Sinatra. ‘I Did It My Way’

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The  delectable Vida  Guerra
The delectable Vida Guerra

tophatal ……:)

Unresolved Issues Do You Want Me Or Not ?……Is This What Anquan Boldin Ought To Be Asking ?

Unresolved Issues Do You Want Me Or Not ? Is This What Anquan Boldin Ought To Be Asking ?

As much as he may well have bitched and whined last year, as a member of the Arizona Cardinals and their improbable run to last season’s Superbowl. You can’t but help but now wonder, if the Cardinals’ organization is doing the right thing in the stance that they’re taking with regard to Anquan Boldin and his contract negotiations.

From left to right , Arizona Cardinals' owner, Bill Bidwill, the team's coach, Ken Whisenhunt and  the General Manager,  Rod Graves.    picture  appears courtesy of  ap/photo/ Paul Talbot ................
From left to right , Arizona Cardinals' owner, Bill Bidwill, the team's coach, Ken Whisenhunt and the General Manager, Rod Graves. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Paul Talbot ................

This situation has dragged on over from last year and while there were cries that the team should’ve traded the player. Calmer heads and common sense prevailed in the end. One would like to think that coach, Ken Whisenhunt and team GM, Rod Graves, may well have thought long and hard mulling the situation over. But in essence, this team without Boldin isn’t near as good, as it could be ! With he , Larry Fitzgerald , Early Doucet , Sean Morey and Steve Breaston. The Arizona Cardinals may well have the best receiving corps in the entire NFL. You’d be hard pressed to find a better duo in all of the NFL , than Bolden and Fitzgerald, at present. And if you can name a team with a better receiving corp , then I’ll stack what the Cardinals have at present against your choice !

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Cards’ Boldin worthy of a pay rise

By Michael Silver, Yahoo Sports

Glendale , Arizona,. – Five minutes into Sunday night’s showdown between NFC contenders on the road to repeating as division champions, the Arizona Cardinals were in trouble.

The formidable Minnesota Vikings had already forced a fumble and taken a seven-point lead on a Brett Favre(notes) touchdown pass, and the 64,121 fans at University of Phoenix Stadium braced themselves for a replay of the Vikes’ blowout victory here a year ago. Having missed the previous game while recovering from a concussion, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner(notes) seemed a vulnerable target for All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen(notes) and the rest of Minnesota’s physical defense.

And then, with an inimitable mixture of blunt force and sublime skill, Anquan Boldin(notes) put the Cards on his back and carried them to their most impressive victory since last January’s NFC championship game.

After that historic triumph, which put Arizona in its first Super Bowl, Boldin threw a bizarrely timed tantrum over his lack of involvement in the offense and left the stadium as if he were auditioning for a role in “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

On Sunday, following the Cardinals’ 30-17 thumping of the Vikings, a far happier Boldin stuck around to talk about the message he and his team had just sent to the rest of the league: While most people have been fixated on the undefeated New Orleans Saints and the Vikings, who’d lost just once before Sunday, as the teams to beat in the NFC, the defending conference champs remain a force to be reckoned with as the stretch run commences.

“I definitely wanted to set a tone,” Boldin said. “When one of us starts out big like that, it puts pressure on a defense and opens it up for everybody, and people feed off each other.”

In this case, “us” was a reference to Boldin and fellow Pro Bowl wideout Larry Fitzgerald(notes), the NFL’s most dangerous receiving tandem.

Fitzgerald, 26, is in the second year of a four-year, $40 million contract befitting of his status as perhaps the NFL’s best receiver.

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In order to read the rest of Michael Silver’s article just click unto the link provided to read
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As we all know, the 2010-11 NFL season will be an uncapped one and teams will either have to lavish their unrestricted and impending free agents with large sums of money as an incentive to remain with their teams. Or they’ll just have to turn them loose on the ‘open market’. And as to whether or not teams are willing to pay what no doubt will be escalating prices for those players. Well, it remains to be seen. One thing for sure however, is that the deep pocketed franchises, such as the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will do their damned to secure the services of such players. The impending ‘free market frenzy’ that’s liable to take place could well have some serious ramifications, as to the future of the NFL and a number of its franchises.

Anquan Boldin (left) seen here with  teammate, Larry  Fitzgerald at the  Arizona Cardinals'  practice facility in  Tempe, Arizona.  The  two players  are  part  of the  'dynamic duo'  that has  been  often  described as  the  best  receiving  tandem in  the entire  NFL.  It certainly makes  life a great deal  easier  for  Cardinals' quarterback  Kurt Warner having  to  throw  to  either  of the  two  players.      picture  appears  courtesy of ap/photo/  Rob  Pearcey   ...................
Anquan Boldin (left) seen here with teammate, Larry Fitzgerald, at the Arizona Cardinals' practice facility in Tempe, Arizona. The two players are part of the 'dynamic duo' that has been often described as the best receiving tandem in the entire NFL. It certainly makes life a great deal easier for Cardinals' quarterback , Kurt Warner, having to throw to either of the two players. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Rob Pearcey ...................

In terms of ‘elite receivers’ in the NFL at present , Boldin would most certainly stand up there alongside his teammate, Larry Fitzgerald, as well as the Houston Texans’, Andre’ Johnson , Randy Moss of the New England Patriots,his teammate, Wes Welker , Terrell Owens and the Indianapolis Colts’, Reggie Wayne.Each of whom, I view as consistent performers within the NFL on a week in, week out basis. And their body of work would suggest over that over the last five years, to say the very least. Currently one could add several players to that list merely by looking at their statistics for this year alone but it wouldn’t in any way justify the premise behind my claim.

Clearly, if Rod Graves is prepared to ‘roll the dice’ and gamble on the fact, that he can still work something out with Anquan Boldin. Then he may well have something up his sleeve or he’s prepared to call the player’s bluff. He could well be setting himself and the Cardinals’ organization up for a great fall should they not be able to negotiate an agreeable contract amenable to both parties.

While a great many people viewed Boldin as something of a malcontent, given the fact that he wanted his contract to be reconstructed so that he could be paid in line with that of premiere players at the position around the league. He’d seen his teammate, Larry Fitzgerald, resigned to a hefty contract and the team’s quarterback, Kurt Warner receive a two year, $ 24 million deal. Meanwhile , he (Boldin) was being left out in the cold, while management took care of others who they felt it was of an urgency to get something done. If that wasn’t met to be a slight by owner, Bill Bidwill. Then clearly the impression they wanted to create wasn’t met with any great conciliatory response by Anquan Boldin. If it wasn’t a slap in the face, then it may well have felt like a kick to the groin ?

Though the two sides still appear to be at an impasse and it’d be fair to say ,that the Cardinals would not be a better team without Boldin on the field of play. To suggest otherwise , would be to show sheer stupidity by anyone thinking along those lines. Can you hear me Mike Ditka ? At least have the temerity to make a case when putting forth your argument. Instead of just giving ridiculous sound bytes, merely because you’ve got nothing better to say. It just never ceases to amaze me as to the absolute lengths taken by the ‘on air personalities’ on many of the sports magazines and news’ programs. For guys, who are said to have been immersed in the game. They’ll repeatedly come up with something more asinine in the form of a statement, from one moment to the next. All the while, you as a viewer or listener begin to ask yourself ….’did he really just say that’ ?

Arizona Cardinals' Anquan Boldin (81) dives for a touchdown as Minnesota Vikings' E.J. Henderson runs in late to defend in the second quarter during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, in Glendale, Ariz. picture appears courtesy  of ap/photo/ Ross D. Franklin .....
Arizona Cardinals' Anquan Boldin (81) dives for a touchdown as Minnesota Vikings' E.J. Henderson runs in late to defend in the second quarter during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, in Glendale, Ariz. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Ross D. Franklin .....

As the Arizona Cardinals (8-4) embark on garnering a postseason berth in the NFL playoffs. They’re comfortably leading the NFC West division with some ease. In all likelihood the chances are the team will give a good account of themselves in the playoffs. With them having defeated the high flying Minnesota Vikings with a great deal of ease , end result, 30-17 ,that clearly reflects this. I for one hope, that the team can show the same sort of resolve and attitude shown as last year.
Who’d have guessed that the long suffering fans of the Arizona Cardinals would live to see them make the Superbowl (SBXXXXIII)? Albeit, that they lost in the end, putting up a gallant effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The team needs Anquan Boldin, just as much as he needs them. He may well be allowed to leave for pastures green but I sincerely doubt that he’ll be to find the type of environment where his teammates and fans made him feel, all the more welcomed ! Money they say … ‘speaks all languages’ but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the success or happiness you’re said to be looking for. All it really does, is to provide you with the mere luxuries of life. It may well be something that has crossed the player’s mind. But in the end this will all come down to the desire of the parties concerned. As to what that final outcome might be, one can only speculate at this juncture.