If anyone knows about hedges, it's me.
One of my many chores as a kid involved trimming the row of bushes at our house that stretched about 10 yards along Trenton Avenue in Cape May. And I'm talking about the days before electric or battery-powered hedge trimmers. Shaping them required wielding a giant pair of shears, climbing up a down a rickety ladder, and cutting errant branches and leaves from the top and sides until my arms ached.
Then there was the bottom. Again, this was the late 60's-early 70's, long before weed wackers were invented. This chore involved taking a pair of clippers and wriggling under the hedges to cut the blades of grass.
Yardwork wasn't just restricted to the hedges. I was also required to crawl around the entire house with the clippers, snipping away until I had completed an entire lap.
And don't even get me started on the manual edger or lawn mower with the rotating blades.
My experience with shrubbery prompted me to hedge my NFL bets this weekend.
I took $100 to the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa Sports Book – I've yet to place an online bet and don't plan on ever doing so – and placed two, $50 wagers.
One bet was on the four favorites of the NFL Divisional Round games. I took the Chiefs (minus-9) over the Jaguars, the Eagles (minus-7.5) over the Giants, the Bills (minus-5.5) over the Bengals and the 49ers (minus-4) over the Cowboys.
The other $50 was used on the underdogs: the Jaguars (plus-9), Giants (plus-7.5), Bengals (plus-5.5) and Cowboys (plus-4).
One win would have paid $550.
I tore up both slips Saturday night.
The wager on the favorites was looking good earlier Saturday. Kansas City had a 27-17 lead over Jacksonville until Jags place-kicker Ryan Patterson booted a 48-yard field goal with 25 seconds left to cover the spread.
Full confession, I was rooting for the Jags all along, mainly because of Doug Pederson. I got to know him a little bit during his reign in Philly and was livid when the Eagles made the ridiculous decision to fire the only coach to lead the franchise to a Super Bowl championship after the 2020 season.
Once the Chiefs' 27-20 win became official, my allegiance quickly shifted to the Giants. I was pretty sure the Eagles were going to win, but I thought there was a chance the Giants could keep it close, based on the way they dominated the Vikings last weekend.
It was over after the first quarter.
The Birds dominated the Giants in every facet in a 38-7 win. Quarterback Jalen Hurts regained his MVP-candidate form. Running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell took turns punishing the Giants defense behind a great effort from the their offensive line.
Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale quickly realized they weren't playing Tic-Tac-Doe.
The Eagles' defense was just as impressive. Danny Dimes was penniless against edge rusher Haason Reddick and cornerback James Bradberry.
With nothing at stake, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy Sunday's games as a football fan. My initial thought is the Chiefs will be playing the Bengals in next Sunday's AFC Championship game while the Eagles will be playing host to the Niners at the Linc.
Before I watch, however, my wife and I will take our daily "Old People" drive along the bay and the beachfront.
The route also takes us past my boyhood home. And I always break out in a sweat – and a smile – when I see the hedges.