Posts Tagged ‘sports psychologist’


Palm Beach Post -Oct 21, 2008, 2004 – Hal Habib – Radcliffe wins closest women’s race. Four seconds help to cure Olympic heartache.

{Note: Dr. Murray appeared on BBC to talk about Paula Radcliffe along with Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen. You can hear the entire interview in the Audio & Video section of this website}

NEW YORK � They say the New York City Marathon can be a brutal race, spanning all five boroughs and countless hills and bridges over 26.2 miles.
Lies, all lies.

Britain’s Paula Radcliffe surges past Kenya’s Susan Chepkemei in Central Park during the final stretch of the New York City Marathon.
England’s Paula Radcliffe was crowned champion Sunday afternoon by winning a race that required 11 weeks and 5,393 miles of endurance.
Remember, Radcliffe was the one who failed to win the Olympic marathon in Greece. The one who failed to even finish either of her two races in Greece. The one who failed, period. “Radcliffe dream dies in gutter,” read one British headline, which wasn’t even the worst of it.
Here’s one headline that might work for this morning: Fleet feet beat Fleet Street.

Sunday, Radcliffe fought off the critics and Kenya’s Susan Chepkemei to capture the closest women’s race in the New York City Marathon’s 35-year history, winning by fourseconds in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 10 seconds.

“This wasn’t about redemption,” her husband, Gary, kept saying afterward, except the more he talked, the less he sounded like even he was buying it.

“When you go through something as traumatic as that,” he finally said, “I guess there’s going to be some mental thing, mental scars. It’s a trauma.”

Radcliffe herself admitted as much. By Mile 24, it was unclear what was causing her more distress, her Saturday night dinner of cold spaghetti Bolognese or Chepkemei turning up the heat with stride-for-stride pressure. Someone asked her whether she had any flashbacks to Athens. “Nothing like that horrible feeling,” she answered.
Who could have known that as the world-record holder and overwhelming favorite sat crying on that curb in Greece, the seeds for triumph were planted?

Watching the scene unfold on the video board at the old Olympic stadium were Mary Wittenburg, executive vice president of the New York Road Runners, and media relations director Richard Finn. Wittenburg, a former champion of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, knew precisely how to help Radcliffe.

“We were standing at the top of the stadium and I said, ‘Paula should run New York,’ ” Wittenburg said. “I knew she could win it. After a major disappointment like that, we kind of stand back and take more of a supportive approach â€â€? we started working on 2005 â€â€? but personally, immediately I thought this is what she should do.”
She e-mailed Radcliffe: “Why don’t you come to the race this year as a spectator? You and Gary can spend a weekend in New York.”
Sure, the Radcliffes said. Then, on Oct. 18, Wittenburg received an e-mail: “I’m somewhat keen to thinking it might be good to run this year. What do you think?”

Wittenburg wanted to reply, “We’d be quite keen to have you,” but played it straight. “We would welcome you with open arms.”
By the time financial details were worked out and the announcements were made, only 12 days remained until the starting gun. It was hard to tell what was more shocking â€? that the world’s premier marathoner would commit to a race so late or that she’d even consider competing so soon after also dropping out of the Olympic 10,000 meters.

The British wondered if, at age 30, Radcliffe had much left, even though it was only last year that she smashed the world record with a 2:15:25. In the past several days, Liz McColgan, the last Brit to win New York, questioned why Radcliffe would enter, and the headlines included, “Why is Radcliffe risking it all?” Questions abounded on how much New York was paying her to appear and whether she just wanted to promote her upcoming book, The Story So Far.

“I don’t think it was about sending out messages,” Radcliffe said of the victory. “It was about running well and enjoying it and just being back to racing normally. And in its own right, winning New York is very special to me.”

It should be. The women upstaged the men in a race that lived up to its billing as having the best women’s field in New York’s history.
“Dreams can sometime come true and it came true today,” race director Allan Steinfeld said.

The field included the Netherlands’ Lornah Kiplagat, who had complained that Radcliffe’s late entry was “a bit selfish” and forced her to change her tactics. Kiplagat stayed among the lead pack until shortly before the 20-mile mark; she faded to seventh.
Radcliffe, meanwhile, looked like Radcliffe, which is to say her head bob made it appear she was suffering from the first step. She was a stride ahead of Chepkemei along Central Park South, but Chepkemei, her arms flailing, pulled even as they entered the final 400 yards toward the finish at Tavern on the Green. If Radcliffe was going to win, it would require one more surge. She had it in her.

“Paula was out here to prove herself as one of the best marathoners in the world and she did that,” said American Deena Kastor, the bronze medalist from Athens who failed to finish Sunday because of leg cramps. “She had a rough race but that’s the nature of this sport â€? when it’s bad, it’s really ugly and when it’s good, we can come out with shiny medals and strong performances.”

True, but there’s one medal Radcliffe still doesn’t own.

“I don’t think you can really quantify today and relate it to Athens,” Gary Radcliffe said. “I mean, Athens was Athens and this is a unique event. Obviously she’s very happy and she can move on. This wasn’t about redemption. It wasn’t about saying ‘look at me’ or whatever. This is about her turning the page and moving forward.”
And if that page has a rosy headline today, all the better.


FLORIDA TODAY – Jul 12, 2004 – Jeff Dalessio and John Denton – Impending deal to Miami means more meetings against Orlando.

He’s 7-foot-1 and 340 pounds with arms like Popeye, tree trunks for legs and three NBA Finals MVP awards on his mantel.

And he’s coming to your division, 18-year-old Orlando Magic rookie Dwight Howard.

“Who wants to play Shaq and get in a wrestling match with him all night?” Howard said as news broke that Shaquille O’Neal was on the verge of joining the Miami Heat. “He could probably just put a finger on me and push me out of the way.”

Word of a pending trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and Heat isn’t just the worst nightmare for the 6-11, 243- pound Howard, who’s sure to be on the receiving end of a few O’Neal elbows when the two teams tangle at least four times next season in the newly formed NBA Southeast Division.

It’s also sure to bring frowns to the faces of Magic fans, who had a tough enough time watching their former center collect three NBA titles three time zones away in Los Angeles.

Now, pending NBA approval of the trade, O’Neal is headed back to the Sunshine State in a move that will reportedly net the Lakers Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, another player — possibly Caron Butler — and a future draft pick.

First, Tracy McGrady is sent packing. Now, the guy who led Orlando to the 1995 NBA Finals joins its biggest rival.

Hang in there, Magic fans.

“Magic fans are going to be struggling with this for a long time,” said John Murray, a South Florida sports psychologist. “It would be like Larry Csonka or Dan Marino coming back to play for the Jets. The only solution for Orlando is to sharpen their mental skills and beat Miami. This would give them double satisfaction.”

The trade can’t be completed until 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, when the NBA’s two-week player movement moratorium expires, but it’s reportedly a done deal. Perry Rogers, O’Neal’s agent, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “As of right now, there is an agreement to agree” and spoke of his client’s love for the city of Miami and admiration of Heat president Pat Riley.

O’Neal also was high on Orlando, where he still maintains a home eight years after leaving the Magic for the bright lights of L.A. But because of his massive contract — O’Neal is due to make an NBA-high $27.7 million next season — Orlando GM John Weisbrod last month called a Shaq-Magic reunion “pretty close to mathematically impossible,” adding, “We’d be fielding a roster of seven guys.”

The 32-year-old O’Neal soured on the Lakers after the team was eliminated, 4-1, by Detroit in the NBA Finals. When discussing the Lakers’ future afterward, general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters he never would trade star guard Kobe Bryant, but wouldn’t rule out the possibility of sending O’Neal elsewhere.

The next day, O’Neal demanded a trade.

Despite a dip in O’Neal’s statistics this past season — a career-low 21.5 points with 11.5 rebounds and 2.48 blocks — Magic coach Johnny Davis calls him “the most dominant player in the game.”

“There’s just nobody else like him in our league,” Davis said. “He’s so big that he’s almost unstoppable.”

His presence in Miami is bad news for the rest of the new Southeast Division, which includes three teams coming off forgettable seasons — Orlando (21-61), Washington (25-57) and Atlanta (28-54) — and the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.

With O’Neal in the middle, the Heat (42-40 in 2003-04) would go into next season as the undisputed team to beat and a possible NBA championship contender. Even with the loss of three starters — Odom, Butler and Grant — they return Olympian Dwyane Wade at point guard and Eddie Jones, their leading scorer each of the past four seasons, at shooting guard.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Lakers fans are hoping O’Neal and the team will have a change of heart before 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

That also sums up the feeling in Orlando.

“I think he’s OK right where he was,” Davis said.


The NBA’s other big trades involving the big men


The deal

Two days after the 1965 All-Star Game, when he had 20 points and 16 rebounds, two-time reigning NBA scoring champion Wilt Chamberlain is sent from the Golden State Warriors to the Philadelphia 76ers for Connie Dierking, Lee Shaffer, Paul Neumann and $150,000.

The impact

The 76ers went on to post the NBA’s best record the following season, then knocked off their nemesis, Boston, on their way to the NBA title the following year.



The deal

Following his fourth, and final MVP season, Chamberlain is shipped from Philadelphia to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff.

The impact

Chamberlain spent his final five seasons in L.A., helping the Lakers to the NBA Finals four times. At age 35, he grabbed 19.2 rebounds a night and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.



The deal

Unhappy in Milwaukee, three-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar requests the Bucks trade him to either New York or Los Angeles. He gets his wish, going to the Lakers in a deal for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters.

The impact

The Kareem-led Lakers win five NBA titles — 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 — and he picks up three more NBA MVP awards, giving him six total.


Why Shaq’s still got it

1. As bad as he is at the line, no one shoots better from the field (NBA-leading 58.4 percent last season).

2. Anyone catch that 36-point, 20-rebound effort in Game 4 of the NBA Finals?

3. When he’s motivated and in shape, no one can stop him down low.

Why Shaq’s slipping

1. He’s coming off a career-low season scoring — 21.5 points a game.

2. He made just 49 percent of his free throws — down from his 62.2 clip the season before.

3. He’s been injury-prone and overweight, not playing in more than 67 games in any of the past three years.

— Jeff D’Alessio, FLORIDA TODAY


AP file

Sunshine Superman. Shaquille O’Neal is coming back to play in the Sunshine State and that could mean trouble for Orlando Magic rookie Dwight Howard and their fans when they meet four times.
Edition: F Final All
Section: Sports
Page: 01


Jan 30, 2008 – The writers for the official New England Patriots Magazine – You can read this article by clicking here!

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Los Angeles Times – Oct 17, 2007 – Larry Stewart – You can’t blame the good folks of Colorado for being on a Rocky Mountain high. Their baseball team is going to the World Series.

“The Boys of Rocktober have climbed the loftiest summit in baseball,” wrote Woody Paige in the Denver Post. “Look out, Pikes Peak, and look out world. From the mountains to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, here come the Rockies.”

From Mike Littwin in the Rocky Mountain News: “Trying to explain how it is the Rockies are going to the World Series would just risk spoiling it. . . . I don’t know what it was — except completely and entirely unexpected. Until, eventually, somehow, it became completely and entirely inevitable.”

Trivia time

The Rockies advanced to the World Series by going 7-0 in the postseason. Which is the only other major league team to have a 7-0 postseason record?

Expert opinion

Trying to explain the Rockies’ late-season success — winning 21 of their last 22 games — sports psychologist John F. Murray recently told the Denver Post, “I call it effortless effort. Some people call it ‘getting in the zone.’ That’s when athletes are less self-conscious of their effort. They don’t analyze things or dissect things, they just accept them and appreciate what’s going on. It’s about attention to the present.”

And then this

It was another poor showing for Mark Cuban on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” on Monday. Cuban’s score of 22 was lowest of the night.

Cuban’s dance partner, Kym Johnson, says he thinks way too much on the dance floor.

“He’s a super intelligent man and he writes everything down,” Johnson said. “That’s the way his mind works. . . . With dancing, you need to feel everything and he has to let himself go.”

Maybe Cuban, who generally doesn’t seem to be so careful in planning out his actions, should make an appointment with sports psychologist Murray.

Another kind of doctor

Regarding the lead item in Monday’s Morning Briefing about Andy Roddick’s playing tennis with a frying pan, reader Craig Woo remembers reading in Lee Trevino’s biography that when Trevino was a caddie he would bet unsuspecting golfers that he could beat them playing with a coke bottle wrapped in tape and attached to a broomstick.

A check on the Internet found several versions of this story. One was that he would tee off with the Coke bottle, hitting the ball about 100 yards down the middle, then reach the green with a three-wood.

In another version, Trevino is quoted saying he preferred using a Dr Pepper bottle. That must have earned him an endorsement check or two.

Another Tiger deal

Speaking of endorsements, it was announced Tuesday that Tiger Woods and Gatorade are coming out with a drink called Gatorade Tiger.

Look for a commercial in which Tiger, using a Gatorade bottle, tries to outhit Trevino and his Dr Pepper bottle.

Trivia answer

The 1976 Cincinnati Reds defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-0, in the National League Championship Series and the New York Yankees, 4-0, in the World Series for a 7-0 record.

And finally

Outside New England, the Patriots are fast becoming the most hated team in the NFL, and not only because they’re undefeated or their coaches steal signals.

Bill Simmons, in his Page 2 column for, pointed out another problem: Even when a game is in hand, they stick it to their opponent.

In Sunday’s 48-27 victory at Dallas, fourth-string running back Kyle Eckel rammed home a touchdown on fourth and one with 19 seconds remaining.

“Normally, you take a knee there,” Simmons wrote.

A knee is what a lot of people around the NFL would like to give Bill Belichick.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.

Where have all our sports heroes gone? Maybe they were never there in the first place

NBC Sports – August 8, 2007 – Outside of San Francisco, where Barry Bonds enjoyed the home-field advantage of unconditional love, his pursuit and capture of one of sports’ most hallowed records was a mostly joyless affair.

The long ascent to No. 756 was awkward, and sometimes heartbreaking. Away from his kingdom of AT&T Park, Bonds was serenaded by full choirs of boos. Grown men taunted him with giant foam asterisks. Little children held up signs that said, “Cheater.â€?

So it was tempting to contrast Bonds, who falls between plaque and auto exhaust on the likability scale, with the greats of the game — the outsized personality of the cigar-chomping Babe Ruth, the steady, quiet excellence of Joe DiMaggio, the determination of Jackie Robinson.
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It may be that the heroes we locate in sports are not what they used to be.

Or maybe we aren’t.

“We have a very different expectation of our heroes than we used to,â€? says John Thorn.

“They have to somehow tickle us in the short term as well as provide sustenance for the long,â€? says Thorn, a sports historian who was senior creative consultant for Ken Burns’ PBS “Baseballâ€? documentary. “They have to be clever. They have to do things on the field that amuse. It’s not enough to hit 756 home runs. We need to be entertained.â€?

Instead, we’ve been disoriented: It was possible one recent morning to turn on one of the sports channels and see highlights of Bonds at bat, bathed in popping flash bulbs, and also see the on-screen headline, “BALCO chemist says Bonds used steroids.â€?

Bonds, of course, has denied that he took knowingly performance-enhancing drugs. But the juxtaposition of heroic highlights and allegations of deceitful lowlights was consistently jarring.

The two previous home run records that Bonds surpassed on his way to 756 were attached to Ruth, arguably the best-known American sports figure of all time, and Hank Aaron, who was resanctified, including a Sports Illustrated cover, as Bonds closed in.

Each of the three men faced media attention, and thus fan scrutiny, that expanded by orders of magnitude. Ruth dealt with the New York papers. Aaron dealt with a media horde that included a traveling pack of television cameras.

But Bonds is a creature — an unwilling creature at that — of something else entirely, an era of blogs and reality television (including his own series, for a time) and a dozen airings of “SportsCenterâ€? every day.

When Aaron eclipsed Ruth’s mark with his 715th home run in 1974, John F. Murray was just a boy, holding a tape recorder up to his television. He can still recite Curt Gowdy’s call on NBC.

“We didn’t have video games or computers,â€? says Murray, now a sports psychologist in Palm Beach, Fla. “We weren’t distracted by 200 channels. I think individuals need someone, some kind of role model to look up to. It’s just a more complex world.â€?

Then again, baseball is more popular than ever: More than 76 million fans attended games at its 30 major-league parks last year, beating by 1 million the previous record, set just a year earlier.

Perhaps more to the point, the line once observed by the press — that personal lives were mostly off limits, that reportage was limited to on-field performance and the occasional visit to hospital-bound child, has been obliterated.

“The heroes of past years were not scrutinized at all personally,â€? said author W.P. Kinsella, whose novel “Shoeless Joeâ€? became the movie “Field of Dreams.â€?

Kinsella knows a thing or two about baseball and heroes. Take Ruth.

“He was drunk half the time,â€? he said. “He was a good-hearted, tough guy, but he probably would have been run out of the game today.â€?

Kinsella does draw a line between the personal flaws of athletes and the suspicion of steroid use that hovers over Bonds, whom the author calls a “narcissistic jerkâ€? who “shouldn’t even be allowed to park cars at the Hall of Fame.â€?

But his point applies to so many of the baseball players we hold up today as exemplars of some golden age. Ruth lived hard. Mickey Mantle was a raging alcoholic. Ty Cobb is almost celebrated now, in a tortured-soul way, for being surly.

And in “The Hero’s Life,â€? his 2000 biography of DiMaggio, Richard Ben Cramer portrayed a man who was paranoid, sensitive, insecure and generally difficult.

Aaron, who dealt with a racist swell of antipathy that included death threats, had the support of about three-fourths of the fans in the month before he beat Ruth’s mark of 714, according to a poll taken at the time.

But a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found fans about equally split between rooting for Bonds to break Aaron’s record and rooting against him. Fully one-fifth — startlingly high among self-identified active fans of the game — just didn’t care.

Thorn says he believes the steroid rumors swirling around Bonds are no more than a cover for “moralistsâ€? looking to savage him. The playing field has always been unlevel, he says — by segregation or amphetamines or game-fixing or who knows what else.

He says he has a “strange affectionâ€? for Bonds because he has decided not to chase what he can never have — the admiration of the fans, on the fans’ terms, by the fans’ script.

Anyway, the historian wonders, isn’t Bonds only giving us what we have a right to expect — sustained excellence on the diamond — as well as what we always believed we wanted — prodigious home runs?

He recalls Charles Barkley’s infamous ad for Nike: “I am not a role model.â€?

Of course, Barkley was viciously attacked, not least by the fans, for the suggestion. And a survey of sports columns from around the country from the past month or so shows they are overwhelmingly against Bonds.
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It may be that writers and fans are bitter because they felt burned by the home run race of 1998, during which Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased after Roger Maris’ single-season mark of 61 home runs. McGwire hit 70. (Bonds hit 73 three years later.)

At the time McGwire and Sosa were held up as paragons of dignity and as saviors of baseball itself, left in critical condition by a 1994 players strike.

“Where have all the heroes gone?â€? West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd demanded to know, speaking on the Senate floor in the depths of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

The answer, he said, was on the baseball diamond, in the persons of McGwire and Sosa.

Then McGwire and Sosa gave embarrassing, evasive performances before a congressional committee investigating steroid use in 2005. Sosa is still playing; McGwire failed by a long shot in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility.

It has been all downhill since.

Just in the past few weeks, a betting scandal shook the NBA to its foundations. One of the NFL’s star quarterbacks faced ghastly dogfighting charges. Doping scandals abounded on the Tour de France.

And Barry Bonds swung for the fences with heroic forearms and ran the bases with clay feet.

Maybe our sports heroes are not what they used to be. Or maybe what they used to be was only an illusion, a dream in soft focus. Vivid and real to us, just not true.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Detroit Free Press – June 4, 2006 – Mark Francescutti – Feature on John F. Murray – Are sports really mind over matter? The Free Press asked, via e-mail, sports performance psychologist John F. Murray, who’s based in Palm Beach, Fla., and has worked with more than 120 professional athletes:

QUESTION: What do you offer athletes?

ANSWER: Improved mental skills, reduced distractions and positive habit formation. This is usually accomplished in two ways:

1. Specific mental coaching or performance enhancement counseling to help the athlete or team develop in mental skills areas such as confidence, focus, pain management, goals, imagery, resilience, discipline, anxiety reduction, relaxation or any variety of other areas as revealed in the assessment.

2. More general counseling to navigate the many challenges presented by life and the high-performance nature of their activity. Resolving off-court or off-field issues (e.g., difficulty in relationships, low self-esteem, past burdens) can be just as necessary as teaching an athlete to concentrate better in competition.

For teams I offer assessments, lectures and workshops for coaches and for players.

Q: Former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington told the Free Press that he went to a sports psychologist on “how to stay sane in an insane world.” What type of advice would you give him?

A: I would start by listening to him rather than giving him advice. He could probably give me advice with what he has been through! … A thorough assessment would reveal the needs as described in the report, and then we would have fun rolling up our sleeves together and addressing the needs.

Q: Regarding managing, what’s the difference between players’ coaches such as Steve Mariucci and Flip Saunders versus a stricter coaches such as Rod Marinelli and Larry Brown? (Or use Nick Saban as an example). Is one more successful than the other?

A: Both types of coaches win and will continue to win in the future. I’m not sure style is really as important as key principles such as leadership, intelligence, consistency, ability to teach and motivate, honesty and attending to details.

Q: The Pistons were a good shooting team in the regular season but faltered in the playoffs. How much of it could be mental?

A: It is all mental and it is all physical, too! In fact, I prefer to say that it is mind-body skills as the thoughts influence the physical performance as much as successful execution feeds into confidence.

Q: Any tips for fans bummed about their teams losing?

A: After your team loses, identify with the aggressor by going out and buying a Heat hat or jersey. (Just kidding, Detroit!)

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Nov 18, 2005 – – Editorial by John F. Murray, Ph.D. – A recent Bermuda Triangle investigation rekindled mystery and prompted a House resolution as seen in the article below by David Barnes.

Now Dr. John F. Murray has new evidence about John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crash following discussions with pilots and air traffic controllers, and evidence to suggest that Bermuda Triangle type events may be explained by psychological factors.

First, the article by David Barnes:

WASHINGTON � Four months after the end of World War II, five Navy bombers took off into sunny skies from Fort Lauderdale on a routine training mission, never to be seen again. Soon after, a rescue plane was sent to find them. It, too, vanished.

Now a new NBC News investigation marking the 60th anniversary of Flight 19’s disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle is rekindling speculation on what happened that day. The anniversary also prompted a resolution in Congress by Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, to commemorate the mission’s 27 vanished pilots and crewmembers.

“Perhaps someday we will learn what happened and lay this mystery to rest,” Shaw said Thursday, a day after the resolution passed the House 420-2.

The story of Flight 19 fixed the world’s attention on the Bermuda Triangle, a patch of open water between Fort Lauderdale, Bermuda and Puerto Rico in which dozens of boats and planes have mysteriously vanished.

On the afternoon of Dec. 5, 1945, Flight 19’s five Navy torpedo bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station, carrying 14 Marines and Navy airmen. Less than two hours later, the squadron’s leader alerted the control tower that they couldn’t tell which direction they were flying.

The planes had disappeared from the base’s radar. In fading transmissions, Flight 19’s leader said the squadron would fly northeast to make sure they were not over the Gulf of Mexico â€â€? on the other side of the Florida peninsula.

After about 90 minutes of wandering over open water with no land in sight, the lead pilot said the planes would fly west “until we hit the beach or run out of gas.” That was the last radio transmission.

The Navy scrambled to send a Mariner rescue plane to find the missing bombers, but soon after, the rescue plane and its crew of 13 also disappeared.

In the days that followed, hundreds of ships and planes scoured more than 200,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida peninsula in what remains the largest search effort in maritime history, according to Washington’s Naval Historical Center.

No crash debris, or even a single scrap of evidence that could have provided clues to the flight’s fate, were found.

In making its documentary � scheduled to air Nov. 27 on the Sci Fi cable network � NBC sent two research vessels to search the site where Flight 19 disappeared from the radar. The documentary failed to turn up new physical evidence on Flight 19.

Now the Editorial by John F. Murray, Ph.D.:

Much has been written and said over the past 60 years attributing the missing planes of 1945 to some mysterious zone called the Bermuda or Devil’s Triangle. It is described as some odd menace that gobbles up planes without leaving a trace. Some claim that it produces a natural magnetic force that throws off navigational instruments, while others believe an evil entity dooms them.

Hogwash! After investigating this story and discussing these and other strange events with two long-time military and commercial airplane pilots and two air traffic controllers, I’m convinced that psychological factors better explain these events.

According to a credible source, the media failed to report something about John F. Kennedy Jr.’s behavior on that fateful day of July 16, 1999. According to that source who was involved in an air traffic control tower in New York that day, “Kennedy’s plane blew right past the control tower without telling anyone at all!” It is standard procedure to check in properly and receive a code for identification purposes during a flight. He totally neglected this.

While Kennedy’s reckless behavior was not reported at the time, perhaps as a protection to his family, it indicates a very impatient mindset that day after he had to wait a long time for his passengers to arrive. It is also a preview to his later poor mental skills when he declined to turn on the auto-pilot, and then tried to rely on visual sight in a virtual soup of darkness with no horizon.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in a New Yorker article that Kennedy’s panic led to his demise. He could not see the horizon, became spatially disoriented, and went into a graveyard spiral. This is simply deficient mental or psychological skills. I see it everyday in my work with pro athletes and teams. In short, if Kennedy had slowed down and relied on his instruments, he might be running for President today. In this context mental skills are extremely important.

But let’s go back to the mysterious devil’s triangle. My sources in aviation tell me that there have been B-52 and other military crashes never reported in the media as a result of pilot oversight. Again we see evidence of poor mental skills.

They also reveal that the area known as the Bermuda Triangle is the one area in the world full of amateur pilots, and more amateurs than anywhere else on the planet! The sheer volume of inexperienced pilots leads to more mistakes and crashes as a result of poor mental focus, panic, and choking.

I could find not one iota of verifiable evidence that this area produces any mysterious magnetic changes that would disturb the navigation of planes. The planes that disappeared in 1945 were led by a squadron leader who probably had trouble with his instruments for any number of reasons. If you simply place a screwdriver near a compass, it will do strange things. But it could have also been any number of psychological or medical factors such as a panic attack or seizure that caused him to lose focus. All the other pilots were instructed to focus only on the leader. When the leader was lost, they were doomed with him.

When this pilot tried to correct and come home by going west, he might have actually been out in the Gulf of Mexico and ended up going just further west into the Gulf. Or he might have been off the east coast of Florida and thought he was going west when he was actually traveling northwest. This would have put him near the Carolinas. In either case, the planes would have disappeared with no trace, far from where they were supposedly lost. The Gulfstream would take care of any remaining crash debris in the east.

What about the plane that was lost in trying to rescue the squadron? I am told that this was a very unreliable plane of which only 8 had been produced. It was most likely just a very coincidental crash. And this crash could have also been attributed better to psychological or mental factors than some sea monster or supernatural vortex.

What does all this mean? It means that whether we are talking about today’s newly released information about John F. Kennedy Jr.s behavior on July 16, 1999, the sheer volume of traffic and corresponding crashes in the Bermuda Triangle, the loss of a whole squadron led by one leader, or the loss of a rescue plane, the Devil’s Triangle is better explained by poor mental skills and reckless behavior than magical or mysterious forces.

I hope you enjoy the upcoming television feature. It should be educational. Just don’t forget that the Bermuda Triangle may really just be a function of underdeveloped mental training.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Tennis Week -Oct 26, 2005 – Last month, Vince Spadea boldly guaranteed he will crack the top 10 and reach his highest career ranking in the coming year. Today, the 66th-ranked Spadea commenced his climb back up the rankings with one of his biggest wins of the season. Spadea defeated fourth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, 7-6, 7-5, to advance to the second round of the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon.

Drained by his grueling duel with second-ranked Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s Madrid final in which the top-seeded Spaniard rallied from a two-set deficit to earn a 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph that spanned three hours, 51 minutes, Ljubicic was understandably weary playing his 16th match in the last 22 days.

The 11th-ranked Croatian, who captured consecutive championships in Metz and Vienna prior to reaching the Madrid final, had won 16 of his last 17 matches (including two Davis Cup singles victories in Croatia’s semifinal conquest of Russia) but encountered a stubborn Spadea who stood up to Ljubicic’s power-based baseline game and put returns back in play.

“I haven’t had enough time to recover from my week in Madrid. I lacked energy,” Ljubicic said. “I gave everything I had but it was not enough. I was not very optimistic after the draw here. I knew that Spadea was one of the few players on the circuit capable of returning my serves well. He confirmed it today.”

Since falling to Greg Rusedski in the Newport final in July, Spadea stumbled to 3-9 record and exited in the opening round in six of his last nine tournaments. But the strong-willed Spadea took the court carrying the confidence of a man who had won two of his three career meetings with Ljubicic, including a 6-4, 7-6 victory in the 2004 Lyon round of 16 en route to the tournament semifinals. Ljubicic’s lethal one-handed backhand is his best ground stroke, but Spadea used his two-handed backhand to repeatedly repel Ljubicic in the cross court backhand exchanges.

The 31-year-old Spadea will face French wild card Michael Llodra for a place in the quarterfinals. Llodra was a 7-6, 6-3 victor over Xavier Malisse. Spadea has won two of three matches with Llodra, but the left-handed Llodra won their last meeting in the 2004 Adelaide quarterfinals.

Spadea, top-seeded Andy Roddick and eighth-seeded Robby Ginepri are the lone Americans left in the Lyon draw.

In other opening-round results: France’s Fabrice Santoro defeated American Taylor Dent, 6-3, 7-5.

Spadea, who recently completed a book with Tennis Week contributing writer Dan Markowitz that is a behind-the-scenes look at life on the ATP Tour, told Tennis Week last month he will reach his highest career ranking in 2006.

“Comebacks are never easy, but they are a part of sports, and I’m quite ready and excited about this new challenge,” said Spadea, who has resumed working with sport psychologist Dr. John Murray in an effort to aid his comeback. “I will return to my highest ranking ever. I guarantee it!”

Related Story: Spadea Issues Top 10 Guarantee

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Pioneer Press, Grand Forks Herald – Oct 9, 2005 – Sean Jensen – MIKE TICE – The reeling Vikings sought professional help this week, recruiting consultants Jerry Rhome and Foge Fazio to help address their misfiring offense and inconsistent defense.

Because the team is on the couch today, enjoying its bye, the Pioneer Press decided it was a good time for a football intervention.

We put together a panel that includes a Hall of Fame coach, a pair of psychologists, a local sports analyst and a leadership consultant to gain insight into what ails the Purple. Our panel will use word association to dissect what prompted the Vikings’ 1-3 start and how the team can rebound to win the wacky NFC North.

Our group of therapists includes:

Marv Levy â€? NFL coach for 17 seasons. Helped the Buffalo Bills to an unprecedented four straight Super Bowl appearances (all losses) and some of the NFL’s most impressive comebacks.

Jeff Janssen � Provides leadership advice to college programs such as Arizona, North Carolina, Stanford and Duke.

Dr. Charlie Maher � Has been involved with the NFL as a sports psychologist for 15 years. Currently works with the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Dr. John F. Murray � A sports performance psychologist in Palm Beach, Fla.

Greg Cylkowski � The St. Paul native is a sports analyst for Athletic Achievements based in Little Canada.

Now, let our session begin Levy said the difference between NFL clubs is minute, which is why he
empathizes with Tice.

“Every coach has been in that situation,” Levy said of the Vikings’ disappointing start. “Honestly, there were times in Buffalo where we went on a bad stretch, and fans wonder, ‘Is he over the hill? Has the game passed him by?’ Then you win a couple, and everyone forgets and it’s wonderful again.”

Levy said the solution is simple.

“Just persist. Don’t start shaking up the Coca-Cola bottle,” he said. “Then, you really are going to foul things up.”

Levy offered a template for turning the team around: Mourn. Own up to mistakes. Recognize the good. Make a plan. Then go to work.

Levy said finger pointing can’t occur and that the head coach should privately meet with any players or coaches who are problematic.

During rough stretches, Levy said he and his assistant coaches would identify “one thing” that he wanted the players to hone in on.

“Identify one factor that really impacts the outcome, and convince them that’s true, and really go after that,” Levy said. “Then when you first succeed in that area, drive home the point.”

Janssen said Tice made a poor decision, albeit an understandable one, when he told the players during a meeting Monday that he contemplated resigning hours after a 30-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

“Where he might have been coming from is, leaders have to be human too and admit that they’re frustrated,” Janssen said. “But they have to be careful how they show that to the rest of the team because the players take their cues from their leader.”

Cylkowski said this year’s team was doomed to fail because a championship drive cannot be orchestrated by a coach “who is on the job training.”

“He’s breaking all the leadership rules,” Cylkowski said. “The holes in the dam are coming apart. When guys don’t buy into what you’re doing, that’s the first step to failure.”

Murray said Tice must convince his players and coaches not to get ahead of themselves and sell them on the team’s direction.

“Having one voice, which comes from the head coach, is essential to establishing the mindset of the team,” Murray said. “It’s like a company. What are you as a company? What do you represent?”


Levy said the NFL has an equitable scheduling system in place.

“You play eight games at home and eight on the road, just like every other team,” Levy said. “If you lose eight and win eight, you’re not going anywhere. Part of the fun is overcoming the odds.”

That’s not the attitude the Vikings embrace when they leave the Twin Cities.

Under Tice, they are a woeful 8-18 away from the Metrodome.

Levy said the discomfort and the inconveniences of traveling are disconcerting, and the noise at opposing stadiums lessens the visiting team’s chances of winning.

“Nevertheless, if you’re going to be a champion, you’d better win on the road,” Levy said.

In Levy’s first season with the Bills, the team’s road losing streak grew to 22 games. Before the team’s first road game that year, Levy told his players a story about World War II.

” ‘You know why Hitler lost the war?’ ” Levy asked his players. ” ‘He couldn’t win on the road.’ ”

Cylkowski said the Vikings’ issues are mental.

“It’s their belief system,” Cylkowski said. “They do not struggle at Lambeau, because they really believe they can win there. The rest of the time, you never hear that (same confidence).

“You’ve got to enjoy being there (on the road),” Cylkowski said. “You’ve got to want to be in that situation and be prepared to be in that situation. When I see them at Lambeau, they have that type of mentality. You don’t hear them talk that way heading into any other stadium.”

This season’s Vikings have been road worriers. They have compounded errors with more errors after falling behind quickly in Cincinnati and Atlanta.

In Buffalo, Levy coached some of the greatest comebacks, although two of them were at Rich Stadium. But the Bills also pulled out an overtime victory in Miami after falling behind 21-0.

“First of all, you’re not going to do it often,” Levy said, “but it can be done. It has been done. You take some risks, and you have to have players of character who make plays.”

Cylkowski said the Vikings, present and past, lack playmakers.

“The team has been plagued with a lot of great athletes and a lot of wins but no championships because we haven’t had a go-to player or a real championship performer,” Cylkowski said. “We haven’t had those clutch guys.”

Cylkowski said former receiver Randy Moss is emblematic of the Vikings, failing to step up in the key games.

“Against Chicago (on Dec. 14, 2003), he makes a little fade catch in the end zone, and we make the playoffs,” Cylkowski said of Moss, who failed to make the catch. “That play epitomizes his career. In a situation where he has to make a catch, he didn’t.”

In addition to players, though, Maher said the head coaches must instill confidence throughout the team to overcome deficits in games and funks during a season.

“That comes from the top on down,” said Maher, who has worked with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. “Take it play to play, series to series, game to game. The players have to believe in that. The only way they believe in that is if they believe in the coach.”


Last season, Culpepper was an NFL most valuable player candidate with 39 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Through four games this season, Culpepper is one interception short of last year’s total, with just four TD passes. He is the 29th-rated passer in the NFL heading into today’s games.

Before next Sunday’s game in Chicago, Maher suggested the coaching staff have Culpepper watch game tape of his dominant play last season.

“It’s always important to get the player back to the time he was doing well, to recapture that feeling,” Maher said.

Added Janssen, “Let him know that the same talented player is still inside.”

Then, Maher said, the coaches must stress to Culpepper the importance of focusing on the process rather than the outcome. In other words, Culpepper cannot press when the Vikings fall behind or the offense makes a mistake.

Levy downplayed Culpepper’s struggles, noting the quarterback played well against the New Orleans Saints.

“No one is just going to be just absolutely dominant all the time,” Levy said. “The competition is too good. There are going to be some bad days. But you have to fight through the discouragement that comes.”

When one of his key players was struggling, Levy said he would watch film with him and review pros and cons.

“Teaching rather than ranting,” Levy said.

Cylkowski, though, is not convinced Culpepper will ever lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl.

“The minute you get him into a tight situation, he folds like an accordion,” Cylkowski said. “He will not be the reason the Vikings go to the Super Bowl. He’ll be a complementing reason a team goes to the Super Bowl.”

Cylkowski pointed out that Culpepper has only led the Vikings to nine fourth-quarter comebacks in his five NFL seasons. Although he’s played 11 fewer games, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has led his team to 18 fourth-quarter comebacks.

“Is Daunte a great human being? Is he a great athlete? Yes,” Cylkowski said.

“But where does he show that he’s a bona fide leader? Where is the example that he’s a bona fide playmaker? It’s not there. Daunte has all the tools. But I like Tom Brady because he’s a proven commodity.”

With 12 games remaining, Levy said the Vikings have plenty of time and opportunities to bounce back this season. But he offered another thought if more adversity comes their way.

“When you’re going through hell, keep on going,” Levy said. “Don’t wither up, and don’t lie in the fetal position.”

Time to get off the couch.

Sean Jensen covers the Vikings and the NFL. He can be reached at

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


National Post of Canada – Oct 6, 2005 – Mark Spector – EDMONTON – The National Hockey League’s lockout lasted 301 days, with the two factions finally settling in July. As such, last night’s games marked the most anticipated slate on Opening Night since players with names like Newsy, Hap and Punch wore striped sleeves and handlebar moustaches.

In Canada, at least, the curtain raising for the 2005-06 season made more noise coming down the tracks than the time CP Rail showed up in the west. Yesterday morning at Rexall Place in Edmonton, there was the staff during the morning skate, scurrying about the building like army ants. Entire walls were prepped and waiting to be painted. Back-lit advertising signs were being assembled and ratcheted on to walls. Scissor lifts were drowning out media scrums with their “Beep! Beep Beep!” as they were being backed up right outside the Oilers dressing room.

It was like walking in the door at 5 p.m. on Christmas Day and having your hostess lean over to her husband and say, “Honey? Can you run down and get the turkey out of the freezer?”

“Didn’t have enough time to get it done?” laughed retired goalie Bill Ranford sarcastically, well out of earshot of one of the painters. Ranford was scheduled to work as an analyst on the Colorado-Edmonton game last night and was expecting to do a decent job of it. Though he had never actually done a real, live, televised NHL game before being pressed into service with TSN’s talent wearing thin yesterday, as they televised four games on opening night.

But if the building manager clearly wasn’t prepared for the big night, and the colourman was only quasi-ready, then they fit perfectly with a league that put out the welcome mat last night on 15 fronts without a clue to what was going to happen next.

Small players hoping that the new rules would help them prosper; big players hoping those same rules wouldn’t drive them out of the game; coaches and general managers praying that they had properly read the tea leaves, and stocked their lineups with kind of player who will succeed in The New NHL; officials praying they will be given time to deliver on all of the promises this time around, before coaches and managers bullied them back into the Andy VanHellemond era.

And above all the concern, a handful of U.S. markets were praying for a healthy walk-up crowd, knowing that whatever opening night brought, the next 10 home games would deliver about 20% less — if they were lucky.

“I don’t think you’ll see such dramatic changes,” Hamilton native Steve Staios said of The New NHL. “There will be some advantages for guys, and some disadvantages for others. Not being a 225-pound defenceman, I think that’s going to be an advantage for me personally.”

Out in the hallway, Staios’s coach was standing amid the construction, levelling off optimism against a realistic view.

“It will be a work in progress,” Craig MacTavish said. “We like to think, as everybody would at this stage, that we’re progressing and we have our teams prepared. But there will be things that crop up. Every coach is saying we don’t want to struggle with the learning curve early on. But some will.”

Because as we know, the more things the NHL tries to change, the more things have tended to stay the same. Not unlike the media, for that matter.

The first glove had not dropped on the 2005-06 season when the first anti-fighting rant moved on the Bloomberg News wire, courtesy of one Scott Soshnick. “Fighting in hockey is idiotic,” said Dr. John F. Murray, a Palm Beach, Fla., sports psychologist whose clients range from football and tennis players to golfers. “Hockey is playing with the dinosaurs if they continue endorsing fist fights and responding with mere slaps on the wrists.”

The average Canadian may have trouble sticking with the piece however, past the point where the author felt a need to qualify a mention of Slap Shot as a movie “which centres on a minor-league hockey team.”

No kidding? Might have to rent that one.

Finally, our author pondered of the Bros. Hansen: “Exaggeration? Or is it art imitating life?”

Thank God hockey is back, so that people in hotbeds like Palm Beach, Fla., can air views intended for the consumption of others who also could not care less about the game.

Take solace, America. Many of you who seem bothered by seeing a couple Canadians bash each others heads in as you channel surf between college basketball games this winter will be spared by the fact that 26 million fewer homes in the United States were able to watch last night’s openers than two years ago, when ESPN and ESPN2 were league partners.

After ESPN dropped the NHL the Outdoor Life Network came forward, wedging the NHL into a spot in their schedule between fishing and hunting. That downgrade marks a trend that can not be swept under the red carpet even on opening night.

Back in 1993-94, Walt Disney Corp. and Wayne Huizenga’s Blockbuster Videos bought into the NHL, bringing a large dose of legitimacy to the league as owners in Anaheim and Florida respectively. A decade later, Disney having has cut its losses, and Huizenga has brought in a slew of partners to lighten his load. In St. Louis, Wal-Mart heir Bill Laurie can’t wait for the new economy to take effect — he has the Blues on the block.

They have all learned, in sunny climes in the U.S. South, the Southwest and even the Midwest, what actor and comedian Chris Rock explained to Sports illustrated last month:

“Hockey is like heroin,” Rock said. “Only drug addicts do heroin. It’s not like a recreational drug … Hockey is kind of the same way. Only hockey fans watch hockey.”

There will be plenty of talk in the coming weeks if there are enough in places like Anaheim and Florida and Carolina, and if the ones that were there two years ago have made their way back.

But we were spared all of that for a few, precious hours last night, as our game fired up again after its blackest era. As if we weren’t going to be watching.

We’re Canadian. What else were we going to be doing?
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.