2013 NFL Week 7 Review – The All Time Greatest Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Running Backs

WEEK 7 REVIEW

Again, the Denver Broncos were in the spotlight with what the media dubbed the War of 1812 capitalizing on the return of #18 Peyton Manning to the House That Manning Built, to face the gunslinger hired to replace the Legend, #12 Andrew Luck. There was a tribute prior to the kickoff for Peyton Manning and he seemed really moved by the fan appreciation which was apparent with all of the #18 Jerseys in the stands. Remember, the Indianapolis Colts let Peyton Manning go after 14 years at the helm. In an interview before the game, Manning stated he never wanted to leave Indianapolis and wanted to retire a Colt. With that, Peyton Manning had a lot to show Colt’s management and Andrew Luck had a lot to show his home crowd trying to finally assert himself as the rightful owner of the Colts starting quarterback position. Peyton Manning put up good numbers again completing 59% of his passes for 386 yards and 3 Touchdowns with only 1 interception. Andrew Luck was effective as well completing 55% of his passes for 228 yards and 3 Touchdowns. He also ran for nearly 30 yards and a Touchdown. The Broncos also got Von Miller back after his 6 game suspension and he needs a couple of weeks to get back in the swing.

Unfortunately, veteran Cornerback Champ Bailey, re-aggravated his foot injury that kept him sidelined for the first 6 weeks. The Colts lost their main receiver, Reggie Wayne to an injury after he caught his 1,000 career reception the week before. The Broncos trailed for the entire game and the Colts won the match-up 39-33 ending the undefeated streak for the Broncos and leaving just the Kansas City Chiefs as the only undefeated team in the league.

The 6-0 Kansas City Chiefs narrowly defeated the Houston Oilers 17-16 to enter Week 8 as the only undefeated team in the NFL after the Denver Broncos lost to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The New York Jets beat the New England Patriots 30-27 in Overtime when Nick Folk kicked a field goal to win the game. Rob Gronkowski made his return to action and made an immediate impact catching 8 passes for 114 yards averaging 14.3 yards per reception. Tom Brady looked relieved having a veteran of Gronkowski’s caliber on the field.

The New York Giants easily took care of the disorganized Minnesota Vikings winning 23-7 in what was one of the worst games of the season pitting two of the worst teams together on the big stage.

Around the league:

  • Atlanta Falcons prevail over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23.
  • Cincinnati Bengals beat the Detroit Lions 27-14
  • Buffalo Bills defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-21
  • Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 17-3
  • Washington Redskins narrowly defeated the Chicago Bears 45-41
  • Carolina Panthers beat the St. Louis Rams 30-15
  • San Diego Chargers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-6
  • San Francisco 49ers beat the Tennessee Titans 31-17
  • Green Bay Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-13
  • Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 19-16

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Peyton Manning threw 3 more Touchdowns bringing him to 25 Passing Touchdowns and 2,565 Passing Yards this season leading the league in both categories. Peyton Manning is 10 Touchdowns ahead of Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers who have each thrown 15 Touchdowns this season.
  • Andy Dalton threw for 372 yards and 3 Touchdowns in their win over the Detroit Lions.
  • Matt Forte posted 91 rushing yards with 3 Touchdowns and another 18 yards receiving.
  • Frank Gore ran for 70 yards and 2 Touchdowns with 34 receiving yards.
  • Roy Helu ran for 3 Touchdowns in the Washington Redskins victory over the Chicago Bears.
  • Calvin Johnson had 71 receiving yards and 1 Touchdown plus another 39 yards rushing.
  • Vincent Jackson caught 10 passes for 138 yards and 2 Touchdowns.
  • A.J. Green caught 6 passes for 155 yards and a Touchdown.
  • Eric Decker posted 150 receiving yards and 1 Touchdown.
  • Jordan Reed was responsible for 134 receiving yards and 1 Touchdown.
  • Harry Douglas had 7 receptions for 149 yards and 1 Touchdown.
  • Carolina Panthers Defense had 2 fumble recoveries, 4 sacks, 1 interception and a Defensive Touchdown.
  • Indianpolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri drilled a 52-yard field goal against the Broncos after making two from 50-plus yards in Week 6. Vinatieri was 3 for 3 in Week 7, hitting also from 27 and 42 yards. He’s 15 of 17 this season.

Wes Welker did not catch any Touchdowns in Week 7 but still leads the league in 2013 with 8 receiving Touchdowns a spot he now shares with teammate Julius Thomas with 8 receiving Touchdowns for the year. Further down the list is Demaryous Thomas at 5 Touchdowns and Eric Decker at 3 accounting for 24 of Peyton Manning’s 25 Passing Touchdowns through Week 7 of the 2013 NFL Season. Knowshon Moreno leads the league with 8 Rushing Touchdowns adding to the domination the Denver Broncos are displaying this season so far.

QUARTERBACK LEADERS – WEEK 7 PLAYERS ON THE MOVE

  • Eli Manning moved into the #24 slot for Career Passing Yards with 33,488 yards passing.
  • Philip Rivers moved past Jon Kitna, Joe Ferguson and Randall Cunningham to #38 on the Top 40 Career Passing Yards list. Rivers knocked Jon Kitna off the list and eclipsed the 30,000 Career Passing Yards mark. Rivers also completed 1 Touchdown pass in Week 7 which moved him past Jim Everett to the #39 slot on the Career Passing Touchdowns list behind Randall Cunningham with 204 Passing Touchdowns.
  • Ben Roethlisberger passed Ken Anderson to take the #33 slot with his Touchdown pass in Week 7 putting him right behind Phil Simms with 198 Career Passing Touchdowns.
  • Carson Palmer’s Touchdown moved him past Steve DeBerg, Joe Ferguson, Hall of Fame Quarterback Bobby Layne and Norm Snead to share the #34 slot with Ken Anderson.
  • Tony Romo threw 1 Touchdown in Week 7 and moved into a tie at #37 with Bob Griese at 192 Career Passing Touchdowns.
  • Aaron Rodgers’ Touchdown pass moved him onto the Top 40 Career Passing Touchdown List for the first time and moved quickly to #38, a position he shares with Hall of Fame Quarterback Sammy Baugh at 187 Touchdowns. Rodgers quickly passed Craig Morton, Mark Brunell while knocking Steve Grogan from the Top 40 List.

RUNNING BACK LEADERS – WEEK 7 PLAYERS ON THE MOVE

  • Frank Gore had a big week and moved past Adrian Peterson to #31 on the Career Rushing Yards list behind Hall of Fame Running Back Earl Campbell. Gore’s 2 Touchdowns in Week 7 moved him to #34 tied with Roger Craig, Steven Jackson and Curt Warner with 56 Touchdowns. Gore moved past Larry Johnson, Tiki Barber, Antowain Smith and George Rogers.
  • Willis McGahee moved past Ernest Byner to #37 on the Career Rushing Yards list behind Hall of Fame Running Back Jim Taylor knocking Gerald Riggs from the Top 40 List.
  • Marshawn Lynch scored 2 rushing Touchdowns and joined the Top 40 Rushing Touchdown list at #38 tied with Chris Warren, Bill Brown and Emerson Boozer at 52 Touchdowns. Lynch moved past Mike Pruitt, Greg Bell, Neal Anderson, Hall of Fame Running Back Paul Hornung, Joe Morris and Wendell Tyler.

WIDE RECEIVER LEADERS – WEEK 7 PLAYERS ON THE MOVE

  • Andre Johnson moved past Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Don Maynard to assume the #22 slot on the list with 11,838 Career Receiving Yards.
  • Steve Smith caught 1 Touchdown in Week 7 moving him into a shared position at #26 for Career Receiving Touchdowns and is tied with Jimmy Moore, Derrick Mason and Roy Green at 66 Touchdowns.
  • Calvin Johnson caught 2 Touchdowns to move up and share the #32 slot with Gene Washington, Jerry Smith, Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Elroy Hirsch, Drew Hill and Anquan Boldin with 60 Career Receiving Touchdowns.

Can Jamal Lewis Top 1,000 Yards Again For Cleveland?

Jamal Lewis has only been wearing a Cleveland Browns jersey for two seasons. But the bruising 245-pound running back put together back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons in 2007 and 2008, something a Cleveland back had not done in over 30 years.

As the 2009 season approaches, Lewis hopes to continue the string of 1,000 yard seasons and then some. While Lewis compiled just over 1,000 yards in 2008 (1,002), his average per carry was below his norm and Cleveland struggled to a disappointing 4-12 record.

What is the norm for Lewis? Before arriving in Cleveland in 2007, Lewis spent seven years as the lead back for the Baltimore Ravens, pounding out over 1,000 yards every year but one, including over 1,300 yards in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

In 2003, Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards. That ranks second best in NFL history behind 2,105 total yards that Eric Dickerson rushed for in 1984. That 2003 campaign included a game when Lewis ran for 295 yards. That was the NFL record until 2007 when Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson ran for 296 yards in one game. Ironically, Lewis was playing for Baltimore when he ran for 295 yards and the opponent was Cleveland.

Lewis also exceeded 1,300 yards in his first season with the Browns in 2007. But he was slowed by an ankle injury in 2008. Injuries to his lead fullback Lawrence Vickers and members of the offensive line made matters worse.

So even though Lewis is entering his 10th NFL season, he is aiming to exceed his 2008 output. Top priority is helping the Browns produce a winning record. But Lewis is also chasing history.

Entering the 2009 season, Lewis ranks 24th all-time among NFL running backs. He has amassed 10,107 yards. Another 1,000 yard season in 2009 would move him over 11,000 career yards and into the top 20 all-time.

Lewis should easily surpass Ottis Anderson, Eddie George and Tiki Barber on the all-time list. He only needs about 350 yards to do that. That gives him a shot at the top 20.

Currently at number 20 on the all-time rushing list is Ricky Watters with 10,643 yards. The next spot, number 19, is owned by Warrick Dunn, who has 10,967 yards and is still hoping to sign with a team and play in 2009.

OJ Simpson ranks 18th on the all-time rushing list with 11,236 yards.

While skeptics point out Lewis is entering his 10th season and has taken a lot of pounding, 15 of the top 25 running backs in NFL history played 11 or more seasons.

Plus, Lewis missed the 2001 season with a knee injury. So he may be entering his 10th season but his body has only endured eight NFL seasons, not nine.

It is not inconceivable that Lewis could play two more years. If he does, he may even have a shot at reaching the yardage total of former Brown great Jim Brown, who rushed for 12,312 yards in nine seasons before retiring in 1965. Jim Brown ranks 8th all-time among NFL rushing leaders.

But more important to Lewis than reaching the individual records is helping Cleveland compete for a title in the AFC North. Especially in 2009 when the Browns want to prove they are a much better team than last year’s team which managed only four wins.

Are You Kidding Me? No Fries?

Four Cherry Hill Foodies make their way to America’s Great Food City-CHICAGO

If you are anything like me, you probably watch the food channel more than you would like to admit, have an obsession about opening a restaurant, and exercise a great deal so that you can continue to fit into your pants and still eat the stuff you like. We eat in Philly all the time. We have been to all the best there: from the cheesesteak eggrolls at Davios, to the barbequed pork at Budakan, to the Blood Orange Margarita’s at Lolita, to the Chicken with Greens at Frank and Evelyn’s. We drive over the bridge to go to Honey’s for breakfast, and catch Tony Luke’s before a game.

About six months ago, I was watching a show about hamburgers on the Travel Channel and of course it included a couple of Chicago spots. For the hundredth time I said to my wife, Leslie, “we gotta go to Chicago.” Instead of rolling her eyes at me, she busily sat typing on her laptop and a few minutes later said, “I have flights in October for $139 round trip.” A few minutes later she told me that she could get a reduced priced hotel room at the Marriott downtown. Things have been a little tight this year, as it has been for so many people, hence, a long weekend seemed like a great substitute to an all out vacation. And with discount air and room, we figured it was a good time to visit Chicago. We had never been away without the kids, but decided that they were old enough to spend a weekend with grandmom and grandpop. A few weeks later, our friends Scott and Lisa agreed that they had to be part of this food-travel adventure, and they booked their flights, as well.

Thus, inspired by the food channel, we flew into Chicago with four days of serious eating and walking planned (and early mornings at the hotel gym).

First things first; Chicago is a big town if you did not know. There are so many restaurants and neighborhoods, that you could spend weeks in just one section and never eat your way out of it. So rather than focus on one food, or one area, we decided to see as much as we could and sample as many food varieties as possible in four days. Our parameters for picking places were simple: tripadvisor, local magazine reviews, and any local that would talk to us.

We flew into O’Hare and took a van to our hotel. (In the future, we would stick to the trains and stay off the roads. Chicago has terrible traffic, and an easy, efficient and extensive rail system.) Once we reached the hotel, we were ravenous and we had not had a chance to really figure out where we could easily walk for lunch. We asked the Concierge, which proved to be a dead end. While she was friendly, she told us to go to a chain called POTBELLY. Once she told us that, we knew that she was not the right person to talk to about food. Lisa pulled out an article from a Philadelphia magazine that said that if you go to Chicago, you need to go the Billy Goat Tavern. We figured out that it was nearby, and headed out in the cold rain in our rain coats and across the Michigan Bridge to find the Billy Goat. Most of our conversation on the way focused on the fact that our Hotel was on Wacker Street. How many jokes can you pull out of Wacker? Too many. ..

The Billy Goat Tavern is located underneath one of the many bridges downtown. Upon entering the crusty, dank place, we got a little nervous. It was empty at 1 pm in the afternoon. Maybe there were 10 people in the entire place. But we were really hungry so, we walked up to the old fashioned counter and looked at the very limited menu. Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, and Hot Dog. This happens to be the place that Balushi came up with “Cheeburger Cheeburger”. Elisa went first and asked for a Cheeseburger and fries. The man behind the counter affably responded, “no fries… chips.” Lisa is not at all bashful and she looked over at me and said,” Are you kidding me? No fries! We had a quick huddle and decided that we were too hungry to eat anywhere else, and so we all ordered double cheeseburgers and sodas. The burgers were wafer thin, and the cheese was also sliced thin on a Kaiser roll. There were pickles and onions laid out on a table to add to your burger. No lettuce, no tomato. And no fries. The burgers were not horrible, but the place was like a dirty tiled basement of somebody’s house, and we just could not figure out the allure. The only thing that made sense was that it was open late and that it must be a place to grab a burger at 2 in the morning.

Undaunted by our first experience, we reviewed our articles and top 10 lists and decided that our next stop would be in Greektown that evening. We got acquainted with our maps which seemed to show Greektown being a couple of miles away from our hotel. We later discovered that the maps made everything seem far away, but actually Greektown was an easy mile from Michigan and Wacker. As the weekend progressed, we realized that between the train and our feet, we could get almost anywhere. I won’t spend a lot of time on Greektown. The food was decent at the Greek Islands Restaurant, but it was nothing special and certainly did not match up to Dimitris or Zorbas in Philly. Greektown was not really the ethnic area I expected. It was not like South Philly. It was kind of scrubbed and clean. It just did not have that ethnic authenticity that we expected.

At this point, we had decided that while we loved the people in the city, we had not found the food all that compelling. While watching the Phillies in the playoffs that night, we struck up a conversation with the Beverage Manager at our hotel bar. Toni, an Absecon, NJ native who had moved to Chicago a few years back, gave us his opinions. “Stay away from the deep dish, go for the hot dogs, steaks, breakfasts and Italian roast beef.”

The next day, we took a train up to Lincoln Park. Our destination was based on a picture in a Chicago magazine of a Hamburger. The place was called Counter. (Lots of one name, one syllable restaurants in Chicago:Yolk, Cream, Bone, Top, etc.) Counter was located in a hip neighborhood of Chicago. The restaurant was squeaky clean and very modern. Painted concrete floors, metal tables and chairs, and very sleek pictures in the well lit, sunny space. The menu was really cool. Build your own burger on a clipboard. Beef, Turkey, Vegee, or Chicken. About 50 toppings, and sauces, and regular or sweet potato fries. We probably ordered a few too many fries, but after our experience at Billy Goat, we had to make up for lost time and the girls were not taking any chances. The burgers were perfect. Not greasy, with great multigrain or plain rolls, and the toppings just made it fun. We had a great waitress and we were just really impressed. It had a kind of Marathon Grille feel if you have ever been to one of the many Marathon’s in Philly, but not so crowded and rushed.. A very good hamburger place. When I asked the bartender where to walk to next, he told me that we could walk back to the city on Clark St., but that we would see mostly bars and optical places. We walked about 3 miles back to town and saw at least a dozen optical places and 100 bars. Lincoln Park would be an easy place to live: great housing stock, a great City Park that puts Fairmount Park to shame, and lots of places to eat and drink.

We were feeling in the groove, but then, we mis-stepped again. After our long walk we decided to stay near the hotel for dinner. Somehow we got steered from Italian food to Deep Dish Pizza. Tony had warned us to stay away, but somehow it just did not seem right to not give it a try. There were three mainstays for deep dish in Chicago: Giordanos, Ginos East, and Lou Malnatis. We polled 6 people and while everybody had strong opinions, the majority vociferously argued for Giordanos. So off we went to wait 45 minutes for a special with sausage, onions, peppers and mushrooms. As you might have guessed, we were totally blown away… we could not understand why people liked it? Pizzeria Uno at home was better, and that was never very good, except for the Vinaigrette dressing they served in the Groshe bottles. This pizza made no sense. The top was raw dough, and under it were lots of cheese, and raw veggies and very little sausage. We dissected one piece and found that it lacked any real thought. The veggies should have been pre-roasted. There should have been far more sausage, and where was the sauce? Very little was the answer. This place could never compare to Tacconellis, or Gianfrancos, or Lorenzos. It was clear to us that the Midwest had no idea about good pizza. Leave that to New York, New Jersey, and Philly.

The next day we slept in a little and decided to go Southside to a breakfast place called the Bongo Room. Now I must admit that breakfast is my least favorite meal, but not so for my compatriots. They love it. The Bongo Room had gotten great reviews, along with Yolk. Both were within a block of each other, so we decided to take a look at each. Because we were going down to a breakfast place at 11 am on a Saturday, we expected a wait and we got one. After walking about a half an hour to get to Bongo, we were told the wait was another 30 minutes. Not a problem for my wife who found a choclateer nearby. Scott and I found a third place called 11. 11 was a Jewish deli that looked damned good. Scott and I just can’t sit still. We left our names at Bongo and 11 and then went over to Yolk. Yolk looked damn good but the wait was an hour. We walked back to 11 and we still had a few groups in front of us, and then we walked back to Bongo and they were ready for us. We dialed the girls and sat down for breakfast. Although I am not a breakfast man, I have to say that my friends loved Bongo. The omelets and potatoes were great, but Bongo is clearly in every top 10 because of the French toast. How about malted chocolate french toast bananas foster ? Sounds like dessert you say? Absolutely! So rich that we only ordered one slice and shared it. Other tables had a full order that just laid in the middle of the table half eaten. I have never had a richer, better piece of dessert French toast. And the pancakes were incredible, as well. It is clear that Chicagoan’s love breakfast.

Because breakfast was so late, we stretched out the day with no lunch and walked to Millennium Park, and several sites in that area. It was all very clean and very impressive. Chicago city planners should be very proud. The public spaces in the city could teach us Philly locals a thing or two. We were amazed by how manicured and clean the city appeared. The city had flowers and planters on every sidewalk. It was truly amazing.

That night we went to a restaurant that really got a lot of press and local support. Rosebud. Breakfast was still hanging on even at dinner time, and the two Bloody Marys at Jake Melvins (next store to Rosebud) did not help to improve my appetite. By the way, the Bloody Mary’s were the best I have ever had. No wonder they advertise that they are famous for them. Rosebud was a happening, high end Italian eatery. We started with a Garbage salad that was really fresh and tasty. It had a little of everything including artichokes, chick peas, corn and lots of lettuce and cucumbers. My partners ordered cutlets with greens, and my wife went with Chicken Marsala. The cutlets were the hit of the night, as was the Pinot Noir. Certainly, this was one of the best Italian restaurants I have experienced. Everything was perfectly done, the service was superb, and the crowd was fun. We come from a city of Italian restaurants, and this one was special, like the Saloon is special

We left Rosebud and returned to our hotel bar for a drink and the end of the Yankees game. It looked like a Phillies-Yankees series after all.

The last day started with an architectural tour along the Chicago River by Barge. From the water, the views of the City are amazing. The tour was given by a volunteer from the Chicago Architectural Society, and it was well worth the expense. It was educational, and the city looked different and beautiful from boat side. Chicago has a great history told in its buildings. The city even changed the course of the river at one point to clean up Lake Michigan and dump everything into the Mississippi.

After the tour, we had to complete some unfinished business. Hot Dogs and Italian Roast Beef. The reviews pointed to about 10 different places, but we decided on Portilos because Toni loved it, and it had hot dogs and roast beef. Hot Dougs would have been another choice, but we heard that the line is an hour long. We decided Portilos would be our choice.

What can I say? I now understand why they love hot dogs so much in Chicago. Going to Portillos is like somebody from Chicago going to Delasandros for a cheesesteak. What is there not to love? The hot dogs are topped with tomato slices, a pickle spear, a hot pepper and celery salt. It needed no mustard. The combination of flavors is stunning. It is a party in your mouth. What a hot dog! As for the roast beef, it was good. Kind of like Tony Lukes but the roll is not as good. The beef was good though, but I like my beef thick, like Shanks, and I would not waste my time on it when I make a second visit. Hot dogs and cheese fries would do the trick. That is all you need at Portillos.

After Portillos, I worried that I would not really do a steakhouse any justice. My stomach was full for the rest of the afternoon, and even with all the walking that we did in Bucktown that afternoon, I could not seem to find any appetite. I think my body had just started to shut down. Too much food in one weekend. But since it was our last night, I had to find a way to eat steak at Gibsons.

As with most cities these days, Chicago has every chain steakhouse; from Mortons, and Smith and Wilensky, to Capital Grille. Gibsons is a Chicago native and I don’t think it expanded to anywhere else. To be honest, I did not expect Gibsons to be better than Capital Grille in Philadelphia, and it really was not markedly different. But it was damn good. My wife’s fillet was one of the best I have tasted ever, and all the food was top notch, including the mammoth twice baked potato that all four of us shared and could not finish. Even my tossed salad was memorable because they understand good strong red wine vinegar. I think what made that meal great was our tremendous waiter, Michael. While he looked a little like Steve Erkel, he was as cool and friendly as could be. He made dinner a near perfect 10.

So what have four foodies from South Jersey learned about Chicago? Well, first, it is a great city with more beauty and variety than any other city we have visited. My wife would argue for New York, but Chicago is friendlier, cleaner, easier to navigate and more beautiful. Lake Michigan and the Chicago River really add to the city’s charm. And the people. They are just plain charming.

The Theft of Fire

“Igne Natura Renovatur Integra” (By fire is nature renewed whole.) -Alchemical maxim

“The whole idea [of the hero’s journey] is that you’ve got to bring out again that which you went to recover, the unrealized, unutilized potential in yourself. The whole point of this journey is the reintroduction of this potential into the world; that is to say, to you living in the world. You are to bring back this treasure of understanding and integrate it into a rational life…the point is that what you have to bring is something that the world lacks–that is why you went to get it.” – Joseph Campbell (1)

The myths and legends of many cultures include stories of a dark time before there was a sun in the sky and before fire was available to men or animals. Regardless of who did the deed, the acquisition of sunlight and/or of fire itself was often accomplished through guile or outright theft.

Prometheus’ theft of fire is widely known; though most abbreviated accounts do not include the fact that mankind first lost fire due to Prometheus’ vanity. At a banquet, Prometheus had kept the best cuts of meat for the mortals in attendance after giving the worst cuts of meat–disguised to look good–to the gods. For this, Zeus punished all mankind by taking away fire. Prometheus sets out on a quest to get it back.

He climbs Mt. Olympus and, with Athena’s help, steals fire from Helios’ sun chariot and brings it back to earth on a slow-burning fennel plant stalk. In retaliation, Zeus sends him a woman of clay named Pandora created by Hephaestus. When Prometheus will have nothing to do with her, Zeus punishes Prometheus by chaining him to Mt. Caucasus where an eagle nibbles at his liver by day. The liver grows back during the night only to be eaten again the following day. This punishment lasts for 30 years until Heracles kills the eagle with an arrow.

In the Cherokee myth called “Grandmother Spider Steals the Sun,” the people, who were living in darkness, responded favorably to Fox’s claim that light was available on the far side of the world. Possum tried first to bring back the light, thinking to hide it in his bushy tail. Yet when he grabbed off a piece of the sun, it burned his tail and since that time his tail has been without fur. Buzzard tried next to steal a piece of the sun and bring it back on his head, but it burned his feathers making his head forever bald. Finally, Grandmother Spider created a web stretching to the far side of the world and used it to sneak into the land of light unobserved. She took with her a clay pot and hid the sun–and fire as well–and safely brought it back to the Cherokee. (2)

In “The Theft of Light,” a Tsimshian myth, the people lived in a world of darkness except for the dim light of the stars. Giant put on his Raven skin and found a hole in the sky into a realm of light. He removed his Raven skin and looks around. Ultimately, he stole the daylight–which was kept in a box in the Chief of Heaven’s house–and brought it back to earth. Though he was pursued by the heavenly hosts, he slipped back into his Raven skin and got away. (3)

As Joseph Campbell (4) notes, once the hero has found his trophy (light, fire, a healing elixir), a variety of scenarios may unfold. First, the hero may decide to stay in the otherworld on the far side of the threshold in a state of ethereal happiness rather than return to his own time and place. If he has found the object of his search with the blessings of the gods and goddesses of the realm, then he will be able to return home with their protection and assistance. On the other hand, if s/he has stolen his prize, then he may have to be rescued by others from his home town, s/he may be killed before s/he can escape or–finally–there may be dangerous return trip.

In some traditions, the mystic–after years of study and purification of self–eventually is able to journey to “heaven” and merge with the great light of the Creator. En route, s/he sheds earthly baggage (attitudes, physical body, astral body) so that upon arrival, all that remains is the divine spark. This spark becomes one with the limitless light, communes, absorbs knowledge and advice, and then returns to earth with new knowledge of benefit to himself/herself and others.

How then, do we account for the vast number of myths in which fire, light, and sacred knowledge are taken by theft? Why is theft required? In addition to the benefits of physical light and fire, spiritual light offers enlightenment, divine knowledge, and transformation–exactly that which one might suppose the God of the hero’s heart hopes s/he is seeking.
Joseph Campbell offers a rationale:

“Once the treasure has been grabbed, there’s no reconciliation with the powers of the underworld–no sacred marriage, father atonement, nor apotheosis–so there’s a violent reaction of the whole unconscious system against the act, and the hero must escape.

“This is a psychotic condition. You have wrenched some knowledge from the deepest abysses of your unknown self, and now the demons have been loosened to wreak their vengeance.” (5)

We might suggest, then, that the hero is typically not a mystic, guru, or avatar who exists in a high state of perfection prior to the quest. Yet, s/he still has a goal in mind, a boon to bring back for the world. Remembering that myths are exoteric stories about inner journeys, we can suggest that the extent to which the hero must steal fire (or any other boon) and the extent to which the hero must fight gods and demons to return is proportional to his or her own imperfections. That is to say, in the dark realm of the unconscious, those imperfections will rise up in various guises and costumes to try and defeat him. The gods do not block the hero’s path or return–s/he does.

The hero is undergoing a change for which he or she may not be totally prepared. Crossing the threshold on a quest into the realm of myth is, in a sense, a death, an annihilation of the old ways and the old personality. Returning is, in a sense, a rebirth. But the person, as s/he or she has been, does not approach death or change easily, and this often makes it necessary to steal fire from the gods.

NOTES

(1) Campbell, Joseph, “Pathways to Bliss,” David Kudler, editor, Novato, California, New World Library, 2004

(2) Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, editors, “American Indian Myths and Legends,” New York, Pantheon Books, 1984.

(3) “American Indian Myths and Legends.”

(4) Campbell, Joseph, “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1949, 1968.

(5) “Pathways to Bliss.”