Sunday, May 28, 2017

BRIAN BILL MEMORIAL DAY


My late father was an impeccable dresser and a borderline neat freak. His walk-in closet
looked like the showroom at Brooks Brothers and was home to one very special thing
besides his made-to- measure suits: the American Flag. He kept it there and safely
tucked away until Memorial Day weekend when he'd unfurl and proudly post it outside
of our home on Purchase Street in New York where we grew up.

I learned a lot about the American Flag and how to take care of it from my father. "Paul,
don't ever let the  flag hit the ground," I vividly recall him saying to me when I was about
8-years-old. He also told me how we should honor everyone who fought for and died while protecting the country.

Well, I was just a young pup at the time and obviously didn't know anyone who died for
our country, but my father made it clear Memorial Day was about honoring everyone who
spilled their blood to protect our freedom and way of life.

I went through a good chunk of my life without knowing anyone who died during a war,
basically because the United States hadn't engaged in battle with anyone while I was growing
up. Oh, there was that Grenada scuffle, but that was like the Alabama football team battling
C.W. Post college: over before it started and not a fair fight.



That changed on August 6, 2011. 30 Navy SEAL's being transported from a mission by
helicopter, were shot down by the Taliban in Afghanistan. They all died.

I didn't know any of the SEAL's who died that day, but I got to know one of them very well
after his death. It sounds a bit strange, but if you keep reading, you'll understand.

As I was going down the list of those killed that day, I came across the name of a SEAL who
was from Stamford, Connecticut, which bordered New Canaan, where I went to high school
and the town our family moved to and lived in for many years.

BRIAN BILL, 31, Stamford, Connecticut.

I had to know more about Brian Bill. Initially, I thought it was because I worked in the
media as a reporter and anchor for more than 15 years and had a thirst for knowledge and information. But it became more than that. There was something about Brian Bill, Navy SEAL
that really piqued my interest

When I read about Brian Bill and what he had done in his life, I had an "Oh, my God moment."

When I saw a picture of Bill in his military gear, it really moved me. He looked like the poster
man of what a Navy SEAL should look like. Rugged, tough, with Hollywood good looks,
Brian Bill was something straight out of central casting.


I read his bio again and came away thinking this guy, Brian Bill, was not only a great American
but a real American hero. He loved life and loved his country even more. He was a skilled fly-fisherman, skier and skydiver. Bill was an accomplished mountaineer with successful summits of Aconcagua in Argentina and Mount Elbrus in Russia. He had completed several marathons and obtained his commercial pilot’s license. He independently studied Russian and became fluent in French. He taught himself to play the piano and guitar. Bill graduated from Norwich University
with a degree in electrical engineering.


However, from a young age, Bill dreamed of becoming a Navy SEAL, and like most everything
in his life, he accomplished what he set out to do.

In 2003, Brian Bill was awarded his SEAL trident.

In 2011, Brian Bill became one of my heroes.

He was everything right in a country that had gone oh, so wrong. Bill was a man of impeccable
integrity character and integrity. He lived his life the right way and always put others ahead
of himself.

There is no better proof of this than the actions that earned him the third of his four Bronze Star
Medals with Valor. I read this during a fundraising event for Bill last June and quite honestly,
my jaw dropped.

From the U.S. Department of Defense:

While performing in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Bill was part of a ground force
element during a daring nighttime raid against a heavily armed enemy commander. While
attempting to engage a barricaded fighter hidden inside the target building, one of his teammates
was struck and mortally wounded by enemy fire, causing him to fall directly in front of the barricaded enemy's position.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Bill fought his way into the compound, exchanging
fire with the enemy fighter while maneuvering to his wounded teammate. Within point blank
range of the barricaded enemy, Bill pulled his comrade from the precarious position where he
had fallen as enemy rounds impacted the rock wall around him. He then courageously exposed himself to the enemy fire again, as he pulled his wounded teammate across the open courtyard
to a position behind cover.

By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication
to duty,  Bill reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United
States Naval Service.

Simply amazing.

I've been fortunate to meet the family of Brian Bill. As one might expect, they are a family
of impeccable class, character, and integrity. In short, they are beautiful people. I have tried
to honor Brian Bill's legacy through my work in the media and endurance events. He was a
truly remarkable person. I wished I had the opportunity to meet him.



Brian Bill is, was, and always will be an American hero.

Memorial Day means a lot more to me than it ever did because of Brian Bill. To me, this is
unofficially Brian Bill Memorial Day. He deserves it.

If I haven't convinced you of that already,  then you should try to comprehend the full list of
his accomplishments as a combat veteran. He received numerous awards, including the Bronze
Star  Medal with Valor (4),including one for extraordinary heroism, Purple Heart Medal,
Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, Navy
and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal,
Combat  Action Ribbon (2), Presidential Unit Citation (2), Navy Unit Commendation,
Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War
on Terrorism Service Medal, and numerous other personal and unit decorations.


Amazing. Simply amazing.










Saturday, May 27, 2017

REMEMBERING PAT TILLMAN


Pat Tillman didn't die on 9/11, but like thousands upon thousands of Americans, he died
because of it. Tillman, who was playing with the Arizona Cardinals, was so deeply affected
by the terrorist strikes on our home soil, he gave up his NFL career to enlist in the service
and fight for his country.

"Football's not important to me, serving my country is," Tillman said in 2002. It may not
have been important to Tillman, but it had been what defined him. He went to Arizona
State and was the 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year as an undersized linebacker.
Tillman didn't have  a need for change of address cards as the Cardinals, who shared Sun
Devil Stadium with ASU, drafted him in 1998.


A free-spirit, Tillman was converted to free safety by the Cardinals and earned a reputation
as one of the fiercest hitters in the NFL. At one point in his career, Tillman turned down a
5-year, $9 million offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.

But that show of loyalty was nothing compared to Tillman's belief that he should fight for
his country. There have been other professional athletes who had their careers interrupted
by a military obligation, but few chose to join the service under their own volition.

Tillman turned his back on a life that most people can only dream of. He was playing in
the NFL and making a good living at. He had the glory, the adulation, and a great future.
9/11 changed all that for Tillman. Despite getting a 3-year, $9 million offer from the Cardinals,
Tillman turned in his football gear for that of an Army Ranger.


How many people would even think about doing that? People say they love our country but
if there was a poll taken, that would probably rank after our love for money, power, sex,
Facebook, and the iPad. And if 10,000 people were asked if they'd give up all that Tillman did
to serve our country, every one of them would've said, "Hell, no! Are you crazy, because
I'm not."

Tillman sacrificed everything. His job, his career, and even his marriage. He got married
to his longtime girlfriend just two months before enlisting in the military in May of 2002.


Along with his brother, Kevin,  Tillman became a Ranger and went on a few missions before
he was killed by his own battalion in a dangerous canyon in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
It was sad, tragic, and made even worse because the government lied to everybody at first,
saying that Tillman  was a hero and killed by enemy forces. But what Tilman did, giving up
the riches and the good life of the NFL, to serve our country should be admired. He should be remembered  along with the others who fought and died in wars that tried to rid evil and
destruction.

Nobody at Arizona State has forgotten Tillman. They have constructed the Tillman Tunnel
where he will be the last thing players see before going onto the field to take on an opponent.
It's a breathtaking tribute to a man who made the ultimate sacrifice.


As much as people want to make sports bigger than life, it's not. I often shake my head in
disbelief when I here an announcer call a player a "hero" because he threw a game-winning
touchdown pass. I shake my head when they describe a player as having "courage" because
he went over the middle and took a big hit from an opponent. I laugh when they say that
a team has to play "like there is no tomorrow." It's just a bunch of guys playing a kids game,
for crying out loud. Nobody dies.

Pat Tillman is the definition of a true hero, one who showed unbelievable courage in not
only giving up the good life, but in fighting for our country. Unfortunately, there never would
be a tomorrow for him. Tillman's life ended tragically in Afghanistan 13 years ago.

Tillman, as well as those who lost their lives fighting for our country, should always been remembered. Not just on Memorial Day, but every single day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

PENN STATE FRAT BOYS, NEW CANAAN DAD SEPARATED AT STUPID



"The time is always right to do what is right."

Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered those words during a commencement speech at Oberlin
College  in 1963. Unfortunately, his message about doing the right thing probably fell
on deaf ears back then, and it's quite apparent, it means very little in society today.

The late civil rights leader would roll over in his grave if he got a whiff of the stench coming
from a world that is anything but civil. That quote about doing "what is right" has morphed
into doing what is right for yourself.

In the last month alone, we've seen fights on airplanes, adults brawling at a high school
graduation, in a Baptist church, no less, and a president who has a total lack of respect
for just about everything.

The lack of civility, compassion, respect, and the failure "to do what is right", was fully
encapsulated by two separate incidents with striking similarities. People forgot about doing
what was right and instead, did what was right for themselves, or so they thought.

During a frat party at Penn State in February, Tim Piazza was going through an initiation
(hazing) ritual with several other pledges. He went through a "gauntlet" where he consumed
a ridiculous amount of vodka in a short amount of time. With a blood-alcohol level of nearly
.40, Piazza fell down a flight of stairs not once, but twice. He was also kicked, nudged, slapped,
and had water thrown in his face by his friends and 'brothers.'

During the subsequent investigation, law enforcement officials discovered a text from a leader
of the frat who sent a note to his brothers in the frat house:

"If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind [a bar] the next morning
at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because
the kid's health was paramount."

The kid's health was so paramount, nobody in the frat house bothered to call 911 for almost
12 hours after Piazza fell down the stairs. Not sure that could be categorized as calling
"instantly."

Piazza was virtually ignored by his frat brothers and pretty much left to die, which he did.
Medical personnel told the parents of Piazza if their son had received assistance immediately,
he'd be alive today.

In late March, almost 300 miles east of Penn State and State College, in the ultra-ritzy town
of New Canaan, Connecticut, Andrew Knight, an 18-year-old high school senior, allegedly
went to a liquor store and, according to the police report, "bought four 30-packs of beer, two
handles of hard liquor and a bottle of Fireball whiskey" and went back home to host a party
where nearly 50 kids gathered. Man, that is enough liquor to satisfy the frat boys back at Penn
State. The parents, of course, weren't home at the time.

According to the police report, several kids were throwing up on the floor during the night
of drinking. One person ended up falling down a flight of stairs. Rumors were flying that
the person, a 17-year-old male who is a star on the baseball team, was actually pushed down
the stairs.

That 17-year-old baseball player reportedly suffered serious injuries and according to
the police report, had blood oozing from his ear and was unconscious for nearly 40
minutes and nobody called 911.

Let's see, a male falls down the stairs at a party, suffers significant injuries that leaves
him unconscious and nobody calls 911 immediately. Wow, sounds a lot like what happened
at Penn State.

And just as the "leader" of the frat and his brothers failed to do the right thing, it's quite
apparent that kids at the party in New Canaan, as well as the "leader" of the family of that house,
failed to do what was right, too.

According to the arrest warrant, Doug Knight, the father of Andrew, that kid who bought
enough liquor to satisfy the Penn State frat boys, "relayed to his son not to call 911." The
report goes on to say that "Knight arrived back at the residence and became fully aware
of the gravity of the situation in person. Still, for approximately 10 minutes after arriving
he argued with [a girl at the party] about why he refused to call 911 and causing [that person]
to curse him again and decide to call her father again, who ultimately placed the call
for help himself a full half hour after the situation became known to the Knights of
an unconscious, bleeding from the ear youth.”

                                 "The time is always right to do what is right."

Calling 911 immediately would have been the right thing to do. A young man was lying
unconscious on the floor with blood oozing from his ear and just like the situation at Penn
State, everyone starts thinking about themselves instead of the kid suffering on the floor.

Just as the frat leader did at Penn State, Doug Knight, a father who should know better,
allegedly tells his kid not to call 911. And allegedly argued with a young girl who wanted
to know why he wasn't calling 911. Clearly, the young girl was blessed with far more
common sense and compassion than Mr. Knight.

According to several newspaper reports, Mr. Knight was heard saying, "I don't want the
cops in my house." Right, he could have a kid seriously injured in his house and one who
may have died in the absence of medical assistance, but for god's sake, he cannot have cops
in the house. You know, the same cops that protect the town and those who would put their
lives on the line to save his family from being harmed.

Gee, Mr. Knight, I'm sure having those cops in your house would not have gone too well
with your golfing buddies at the country club. You probably didn't want to have those
uncomfortable stares from people in town as you went to get your morning coffee at
Starbucks. That would be truly terrible. Yep, a kid is unconscious on the floor of your
home but you're more concerned about how it would look if your name showed up in the
police blotter in the town's newspapers.

What the hell is wrong with you? If your kid was injured on the floor at somebody's house
there is little doubt you would've gone ballistic after finding out that nobody was in any kind
of hurry to call 911 as he lay bleeding from his ear while unconscious on the floor.
I'm sure you would've tried to rip the head off of the parent who told his kid not to call for help.

What is wrong with you, Mr. Knight? What is wrong with the people at Penn State? What
the hell is wrong with our society. Why do we have such a blatant lack of respect, compassion,
and regard for human life? It's become disgusting. Why are people only doing the right thing
when it's right for themselves. Leaving kids to suffer on the floor of a frat house or a regular
one is reprehensible.

                               "The time is always right to do what is right."

Mr. Knight managed to do one right thing in this heartbreaking and almost tragic case. He
decided to turn himself in to authorities to face charges. His son, Andrew, went with him.
Side-by-side in mugs shots. That's not a good look and I'm sure Mr. Knight's golfing buddies
will be talking about it. Everybody else in town is.

You not only got your name in the paper, Mr. Knight, but your picture, too. I'm sure a lawsuit
is coming your way also.

You could've provided an example to the young kids about doing what is right. Instead,
you tried to do only what you thought was right for yourself.










Wednesday, May 17, 2017

THE BRILLIANCE OF LAVAR BALL---CONTINUED


I haven't watched 10 seconds worth of the NBA this season and couldn't tell you who made
the all-star team or led the league in scoring. However, I know who LaVar Ball is and that's
part of his genius right there. I realize he's not a part of the NBA now, but his son, Lonzo,
will be a big piece of it in the very near future.

As for Big Daddy Ball, he's a total buffoon----at first glance. He's also brash, cocky,
condescending, and annoying--but nobody can  ever use the word dumb when describing
him. Big Daddy Ball is getting what so many of us in this self-absorbed, selfie-obsessed world
we live in want:  attention.

And a lot of it.

Big Daddy Ball doesn't need to incessantly post pictures of himself all over social media to get
the almighty 'like' or attention. That's child's play. All Big Daddy Ball has to do is say something
outrageous and he generates headlines from coast-to-coast.

"Lorenzo is better than Steph Curry," Big Daddy Ball once said. Next thing you know, every
sports talk radio station and network in the country is ripping him. BUT, they are talking about
him, aren't they? He's getting all the attention.

Big Daddy Ball has a gift for playing the media and he's wrapping all of them up with a pretty
little bow. Whatever he says, they report on it. And every producer in the country doesn't want
to get beat on a story, so they line Big Daddy Ball up for an appearance.

Love him or hate him, Big Daddy Ball makes for great television and can move the needle.
That's the name of the game in broadcasting, isn't it?

Earlier this month, Big Daddy Ball announced he was in charge of producing a new line of
basketball shoes for Lonzo, who has yet to be drafted. let alone play in the NBA. The price
of the new shoe? Try $495.  And the Internet blew up and every news and sports outlet was
talking about it. And Big Daddy Ball was laughing.

Sure, it may be sticker shock, but it was another brilliant move by Big Daddy Ball. If he
put the price at $250, nobody would've blinked, much less paid attention. By making the
price so outrageous, Big Daddy Ball, got millions of dollars in free publicity. The media
was going nuts, screaming at the top of their lungs in outrage and disbelief, while spewing
a tank full of venom his way.

Big Daddy Ball had to be laughing---again.

Living in Los Angeles, I reckon Big Daddy Ball has seen the act of the Kardashians
and heard about the millions upon millions of dollars they are making without having
a shred of discernible talent. Every time they post a selfie, it goes viral. Any time one
of them falls off a bike or colors their hair, it blows up the Internet and all the entertainment
shows are talking about it.

Big Daddy Ball must have said to himself, "Good, lord, that family has absolutely no talent
and they are filthy rich. Imagine what I could do with three kids who are going to be lottery
picks in the NBA?".

Jackpot.

I reckon Big Daddy Ball also studied the act of Stephen A. Smith. The guy can't speak,
can't write, or say anything good about anyone. He saw a market that needed a controversial
figure, one who screams, shouts and disses everybody on the planet, who just happens to make
$3.5 million-a-year at ESPN. The screamer has no talent. None. But his act gets attention
and those who get most of it these days, get most of the big-time contracts.

Before announcing the new line of shoes for his son, Lonzo, Big Daddy Ball, proclaimed
the kid's shoe deal with one of the big three (Nike, Addidas, Under Armour) should be
worth one billion dollars. Outrageous, right? Well, once again the media tripped all over
themselves talking about it or by trying to land the big interview with Big Daddy Ball.

Yep, broke the Internet again. Then, after the Los Angeles Lakers secured the second pick
in the NBA Draft, Big Daddy Ball set the price at $3 billion. Of course, the media and
general sporting public went crazy again.

And Big Daddy Ball just keeps laughing because he knows he has the media eating out
of his hand. He knows how desperate they are for juicy, controversial content. The other
stuff doesn't sell or draw much interest.

You think the big companies are going to stay away from Lonzo Ball just because of his
Big Daddy's mouth? Even if they are, 150 others will show up at his door to show him the
money.

Imagine if the kid goes second to the hometown Lakers in the NBA Draft? The second-highest
television market in the country? In Hollywood's backyard?

Cha-ching. Times a thousand.

I've heard many say that Big Daddy Ball is making things tough on his kid. That's comical.
By making all these outlandish comments and appearing on sports networks around the country,
he's taking all the pressure off the kid and placing it entirely on himself.

That is brilliant.

Don't hate on LaVar Ball. He read the market and is taking full advantage of it. That's
pretty much the American Way these days, isn't it?  He knows he's playing with a stacked deck.
Don't get mad because he's ruling the "look at me" table and about to help Lonzo cash in.

By the way, have you seen many interviews with the kid, like ever? Nope, the media is
so obsessed with Big Daddy Ball that they are pretty much leaving him alone.

Brilliant.




Monday, May 15, 2017

DEAR PENN STATE: PLEASE GET A CLUE


One thing I've learned over the years is the smartest people in the room often make the
dumbest mistakes. Whether it's because their massive egos have blurred reality or made them
tone deaf, I've often discovered many of these Ivy League and fabulously educated leaders
and administrators just don't have a clue. I'm sure you've had a moment sitting in a conference
room listening to those running the company and said to yourself, "How the hell did this guy
get to be CEO?"

I've been there, too.

And I'm really starting to wonder how any of the leaders and administrators at Penn State
got to be in the positions they are in. They are beyond ignorant and have absolutely no sense of reality, not to mention compassion.

In February, one of their students, Tim Piazza, died during an initiation (hazing) ritual at a
slightly off-campus fraternity house. During an interview in the aftermath of 18 students being charged in connection with the death of Piazza, the vice-president of student affairs offered up
this nugget: the school wasn't culpable for the event because it took place off school property.
OK, great, thanks for throwing that out there.

However, when the parents of Piazza appeared on the "Today" show to talk about how
their son was treated like "roadkill" by his frat brothers and how the university seemed
to ignore their loss, my disrespect for Penn State and their  phony brand, went to an entirely
different level.

Piazza's father revealed that no representative from Penn State bothered to show up at the
wake or the funeral for his son. He went on to say that nobody from the fraternity where his
son died, managed to take a few hours of their day to pay their final respects to a 'brother.'

Yeah, that's what you call a great fraternity and brotherhood.

Penn State responded with a carefully worded press release:

The University administrator assigned responsibility for representing the school at student
funeral services was unable to attend the service for Tim due to a personal emergency.

Let me interject right there.

Assigned responsibility for representing the school at student funeral services?

Did I really read that right? Assigned responsibility for representing the school at funeral
services? Penn State, you make it sound like the school you run is more like Romper Room
than an institution of higher-learning. A person has to be assigned responsibility to attend
a funeral? Good, grief, whoever wrote this press release needed to be fired yesterday.

And the representative from Penn State couldn't attend the funeral of one of its own due to a
personal emergency?!!!!  You can't be serious!!

Um, Tim Piazza had a personal emergency within a Christian Hackenberg throw from your
posh offices on campus and nobody helped him out. In fact, the boys in the frat house threw
water on his face, slapped him, kicked him, and when he was close to death, one of them decided
to Snapchat because he felt 100 likes were far more important than getting his 'brother' medical
help.

But somebody else had a personal emergency, which was probably not a life or death one like
Piazza had, and couldn't go?! You couldn't send anyone else to go to the funeral? That man was
your only option?

I continue with Penn State, with their own words:

We contacted the Piazza family in advance of the service to let them know about his conflict.

Are you for real, Penn State?! Conflict? You characterize it as a conflict? Your professors teach
students to have back-up plans in case of conflicts. They advise them how to prepare for, avoid
and deal with conflict. That's elementary, dear administrator.

How do you characterize the death of a kid who had a blood-alcohol level of .40?

Was Jay Paterno not available? He somehow just got voted to the school's board of directors.
Make Paterno earn his big salary for doing nothing by sending him to the funeral.You could've
sent the team mascot for Tim's sake. It's a helluva lot better than not sending anybody at all.

Oh, I realize the funeral was a three-and-a-half hour drive from campus, but come on, you set
your football coach up to fly all over the country to talk to 17-year-old kids and their parents
about the great benefits of  going to Penn State.  Surely, you could've fueled up the private jet
to make the quick trip to New Jersey to pay your final respects to a kid who loved and supported
your school.

I'm quite sure if Piazza had been on the football team, an entourage of Penn State officials
would've been front and center at the funeral with the hope of being shown on ESPN.

Please, continue Penn State:

The University did participate in a vigil held with the Piazza family on campus. Even so, we

deeply regret that no one was asked to attend Tim’s funeral in his place.

The university did not participate. Hundreds of kids showed up to pray for Tim after his brutal
and avoidable death on your campus, nobody from the administration did. If you're going to say Piazza's death happened off-campus, then please don't try and use the students who were on-campus
at the vigil to say the university did participate because you did not.

Regret? You're getting good at that, aren't you? I recall your regret upon learning that more
than 30 kids had their lives ruined by Jerry Sandusky, a predator who was allowed to roam
around campus freely.

Joe Paterno, the legend who helped built Penn State's image of doing things "the right way,"
said he "wished he could've done more" to stop it. He took that regret to his grave. Those
words should've permanently etched into the craniums of every administrator at Penn State, yet
when they had a chance to do the right thing this time around and attend either the wake or
funeral of Piazza, they ended up admitting exactly what Paterno did.

Heck, you even gave Sandusky the keys to the facilities long after he "left" the program. You
heard the stories about Sandusky for many years. yet, you gave him carte blanche in a place where he allegedly raped young children, their lives ruined forever.

Yep, I'm sure you hold a great deal of regret for trying to cover-up the entire scandal, as well. You
were more interested in protecting your paychecks, jobs, and the image of Joe Paterno and the university than you were in protecting innocent kids. 

Then what happened?

All the sordid details came out and rolled through Happy Valley like a tsunami, destroying nearly everything great you built, including that wonderful statue of Paterno.

According to College Magazine, Penn State has the most powerful alumni base in the country,
ahead of Harvard, Yale, and other super colleges and universities. You mean to tell me you
couldn't call someone in New Jersey to represent the great Penn State University at Piazza's
funeral? That is the least you could've done.

In your massive stable full of administrators, educators, coaches, and alumni, you couldn't get
a single person to represent the school at a funeral that never should've taken place? How sad.
How weak. How incredibly Penn State.

You paid out $93 million to the 36 victims who were sexually abused by Sandusky, I'm sure
you  could've scraped together the money needed to get someone to show up for Piazza's funeral
or wake. Next time, you need money to do the right thing, call me. I'll give you everything I
have to help you out.











Saturday, May 13, 2017

PENN STATE, SUICIDE, AND MORAL BANKRUPTCY


The grand jury report and the timeline of events relating to the death of Tim Piazza at Penn State
is as frightening, horrific, and disgusting as I've ever read.

The so-called frat "brotherhood" not only failed to take care of a brother, but they flat-out
neglected, mocked, and basically just let him die.

According to the investigation, Piazza, 19, went through some ridiculous initiation ritual
called "the gauntlet", where pledges are forced to take shot after shot of vodka and beer. Piazza's blood-alcohol level was close to .40, which means you're close to dead on your feet. Piazza's
feet weren't sync with his brain when he feel down a flight of stairs.

One of the 'brothers', texted his fellow frat boys that Piazza might be "a problem." Then an
all-but unconscious Piazza was carried upstairs, slapped in the face, doused with water, saddled
with a backpack, kicked, and rolled into by a 'brother' while he was passed out on a couch.

Piazza somehow got up and fell down the stairs---again. His so-called brothers bailed on him and
didn't bother to seek medical help. As Piazza was near death on the ground, one of his frat
'brothers', stood over him and Snap-chatted, or whatever they call that social media thing.

And that single act pretty much sums up our society today. A young kid in a world that is
always trying to soothe its insecurities and incessantly hoping to validate themselves by getting
the most amount of 'likes' as they possible can, is taking a picture of a kid dying instead of trying
to help him out. We will use tragedy, fires, and even a near dead brother on the floor to gain
approval from our friends on social media. It's truly pathetic.

Most people in our society talk, text, or Snapchat a good game about doing the right thing
and helping others, but in reality, it's still an "all about me society", one that cares about doing
the right thing only when it's right for ourselves.

That happened in Cincinnati recently where an 8-year-old kid was bullied in school and knocked
out by a fellow classmate.  Gabriel Taye was flung into a wall and rendered unconscious. School
video showed the boy laying motionless on the ground for nearly seven minutes while other
students walked over him, kicked him, and did everything but help him out. Like the Penn State
frat boys did to their 'brother' Tim Piazza, these boys just let a classmate suffer terribly instead of helping out.

Not one of his classmates cared enough to help out a brother in need of help.

Two days later, Gabriel Taye, a third-grader, hung himself at home.

The decaying of society started long ago, but we are officially in the cess pool. We once were
a society that showed some compassion, character, and integrity, but now......I can't come up
with an adjective to accurately describe it.

Mankind has morphed into manDESPICABLE. We fight on our planes, trash others in public,
and abandon those in need of help behind closeD doors. And then take video, a selfie, or
snapchat it to the world just to satisfy our addiction to 'likes' and attention.

Sadly, the 'brothers' at Penn State tried to cover-up their despicable actions. Administrators
let everyone know they weren't responsible for activities 'that were technically off-campus.' Everybody went into self-perseveration mode instead of helping out a kid that was on his way
to being dead on arrival.

At the elementary school in Cincinnati, administrators told the parents of Gabriel Taye that he
fainted in school and said his 'vitals' were good. But they conveniently left out the part
where little Gabriel was knocked unconscious by a classmate. Gabriel's mother took her son
to the hospital later that night after he complained about dizziness and nausea. Doctors couldn't
accurately diagnose young Gabriel because they didn't know he had been knocked out earlier
in the day.

Unfathomable.

A school that was supposed to protect a young child, can't be upfront and honest to the
parents of kid who just got pummeled on school grounds. They couldn't hold themselves
accountable and were more concerned about a potential lawsuit than the welfare of a young
student.

They are about to get the mother of all lawsuits now.

We don't have a bullying problem in this country because of incorrigible kids. We have
a bullying problem in this country because adults and parents are bad role models. Kids
see their parents and adults verbally assault and attack people in person or on the news and
they think it's OK.

They see adults beating other adults up in the streets or see a man get dragged off a plane
and they think it's OK.

They see a president without a filter, one who mocks people with disabilities, talks filthy
about women, and has little respect for anyone, and they think it's OK to do it as well.

Man, what a world it has become. Our society is close to being morally bankrupt.



Friday, May 5, 2017

WE ARE PENN STATE! WE ARE INCREDIBLY STUPID!



Man, it's been a tough decade for Penn State.

On the heels of a child-sex abuse scandal that rocked the university to its core, there is more
tragedy that has turned Happy Valley upside down----again

18 members of an on-campus fraternity were recently charged in the death of 19-year-old
student who had accepted a bid to a fraternity. Tim Piazza was nearly dead on his feet with
a blood-alcohol level of close to .40 when he ended up on a slab in the morgue. I don't think
I need to waste time or space on the page to explain what that number means.

After going through some incredibly stupid thing called, "the gauntlet", where the pledges were
forced to drink vodka, shotgun a beer, and do other ridiculous things, Piazza was close to a toxic
death. Now, I'm not embarrassed to say  I don't know a thing about bids, pledges, or the other
dumb things that are part of the fraternity system. I lost any kind of interest or respect for it on
the way to baseball practice when I was a freshman at UNC in 1983. I noticed a bunch fellow students dressed in shirts and ties, blindfolded, and with hands tied behind their backs rolling
down hills to the edge of a wooded area. They were going through some initiation routine to get
into a fraternity.

You. Could. Not. Pay. Me. Millions. To. Do. Stuff. Like. That. To. Get. Into. Something.

Stupid.

Tim Piazza was drunk out of his mind. He fell down stairs. Long and steep ones. Hit his
head pretty good. Piazza got back up----and then fell again. This time he didn't get up for
more than 12 hours. Nobody, not his "friends" or frat brothers (Yeah, those are some friends
and really great frat brothers.) bothered to call for medical assistance.


During the investigation, a text by one of the frat "brothers" was discovered. It is unfathomable:

"If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind [a bar] the next morning
at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because
the kid's health was paramount."

What little regard for  a person's welfare. The frat brother already hatched a plan to cover-up
the negligence of the entire frat house. According to the grand jury report, the investigation
found that Penn State's Greek community "nurtured an environment so permissive of excessive drinking and hazing that it emboldened its members to repeatedly act with reckless disregard to human life."

Reckless disregard to human life? Haven't we heard this before about nefarious activity on
the campus of Penn State? Hello, administrators, are you still asleep at the wheel after all
these years?

I'm not throwing the sick acts of Jerry Sandusky into the same category as the frat house scandal.
But in that child-sex abuse scandal, nobody did very much or seemed to care about the welfare of dozens and dozens of young kids. Nobody seemed to care about the welfare about
Tim Piazza when he lost his faculties and couldn't take care of himself.

"This didn't have to happen," said Jim Piazza, father of the deceased. "This is the result of a
feeling of entitlement, flagrant disobedience of the law and disregard for moral values that
was then exacerbated by egregious acts of self-preservation."

Eerie. That's what many people said after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in 2011. So many
administrators and football coaches inside the program felt entitled and were more concerned
about protecting themselves, they became negligent and showed a total disregard for the victims.

That scandal brought shame to Penn State and cost the university hundreds of millions of dollars.

It's time to get the checkbook out again, Penn State, this scandal is going to cost you, as well.

Eight of the fraternity brothers were charged with involuntary manslaughter, as was the chapter,
and other charges included hazing, aggravated and simple assault, alcohol-related violations and evidence tampering.

One life was lost over pure stupidity. Dozens of others have been damaged forever. The parents
of Piazza will be heartbroken forever. The 18 "men" will have a stain on their character and
record that will never be removed. Ever. And the parents of those kids must deal with the
uncomfortable stares from friends and neighbors.

And over what? Alcohol and stupidity. Not a single "friend" or frat brother felt compelled
to help Piazza out. How sad.

It's time to end the stupidity at Penn State and on other campuses, as well. Put a stop to the
Greek system. The drinking stories and tragedies are endless. Excessive drinking is not a badge of
courage, honor, or anything for that matter. They should give out a shield for the stupidity for it.

I reckon this story will dominate the news cycle for the next few days before America moves
onto something else. I'm pretty certain I'll be writing about another tragedy caused by drinking
again.

We never learn.

Ever.







Monday, May 1, 2017

PRAYING FOR BOBBY TROUP


Everybody who has met Bobby Troup, loves Bobby Troup. Void of ego, malice, pettiness, and
greed, Troup is the salt and the earth in the phrase, "He's a salt-of-the-earth type of a guy." Those
who truly know him would tell others that don't that Bobby is simply. "the best."

Troup lives in Boulder, Colorado, which is truly his element. He is care-free and a true
outdoorsmen, one who appreciates nature and everything the  Rocky Mountains have
to offer. Yes, he is far, far away from New Canaan, Connecticut, a place where he grew
up and made too many great friends to count.


Troup is old-school New Canaan and part of a well-known family that is simply wonderful.
Bob Sr., passed away several years ago. He was the patriarch of the family and forever woven
into the fabric of the tonie little town 40 miles outside of New York City. He was that guy with
the giant and colorful personality, known as "the colonel" who was often seen zipping around
town in a convertible with his long white hair and scarf flowing in the wind. There was mom
and daughter, Kristen, both bright lights in the community, as well

Bobby Troup is as kind, gentle, and likable of a person as you will ever meet. He has no
enemies and you'd have to search long and hard to find someone to say a bad thing about
him. He is so pure, unaffected, and genuine. Bobby and my brother, Patrick, were friends
in high school, but lost touch with time and distance. But every time I'd see Bobby, the first
thing he'd always ask about was my brother, which put a smile on my face.


Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen to great people. It's life. It is not fair, and sometimes,
it can be downright cruel. Near the end of April, Bobby was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.
According to his family, doctors say the cancer likely has spread into his lymph nodes. He is
scheduled to have surgery May 2.

There are tough times ahead.

New Canaan is a lot different today than the town a lot of us grew up in. One thing I am certain
of, is that all those who helped make it great, will rally for Bobby Troup. He is old-school New
Canaan through and through. He also has a heart of gold, helping out many people in
need.

Bobby Troup needs our help now and it's time to step up for a great guy from a wonderful
family. Follow the link and donate. No donation is too small. It all adds up and goes a long
way to helping the Troup beat this insidious disease.

https://www.youcaring.com/bobbytroup-812937

Go Trouper!







Wednesday, April 19, 2017

JOHN DOE AND A LIFE ALTERED



You won't find his name on any police blotter.

You and your 1,452 friends on Facebook can search his name every day for a year and not
discover it.

For the sake of this article and protecting his real name, "He" will be John Doe.

Several months ago, John Doe, who played football at a Division I school, was accused of sexual
assault by a woman on campus. She was over 18-years-old, so she can be described as a woman
despite not being very mature. After the alleged incident that took place at a party on campus, the
woman filed a report with the police.

When school officials got wind of the allegations, they discussed the situation with the football
coach, who immediately dismissed John Doe from the football program, no questions asked. The
school expelled the player, as well. 

I think it would've been proper to suspend the accused player from the football program and
the student from school activities pending an investigation. Common sense tells us it's not safe
or very smart for anyone if someone accused of a major crime is walking around  campus or
on the field catching passes for the football team.

However, I don't agree with rinsing away John Doe altogether without all the facts. The football coach met with all players and told them not only to stay away from John Doe, but advised them
to discontinue any friendship they had with their former teammate. If they saw him off campus,
the coach said, don't talk or make like you even know him.

This comes from a coach who often told his players to stick together, no matter. They are the
ones who battle, bleed, and bond during training camp, off-season workouts, and during football games. "Always stick together, no matter", the coach said, but when 'no matter what' became an accusation of sexual assault, all bets, not to mention friendships, were off.

John Doe was a leper, not to be seen, or be seen talking with anyone on the team.

The coach also stripped the scholarship from John Doe.

Police didn't rush to judgment. They investigated the case over several months. News reports
stated law enforcement officials were close to making an arrest. However, a student on-campus
who had been privy to details of the alleged assault, came forward and showed investigators a
text from the accuser that shed new light on the case and what the actually happened.

Several week ago, police made an arrest. But they didn't put John Doe in handcuffs. Instead,
they went on-campus and arrested the 18-year-old woman. When pressed on the text and other
details from the incident, the woman said she made the entire thing up. Yes, there was a sexual
encounter, but the woman admitted it was consensual. She made the entire sexual assault
story up to gain the attention of another person whom she was interested in.

She wanted attention and sympathy.

This woman sacrificed John Doe's name and reputation to gain something for herself. John
Doe not only lost his name and reputation, but his football scholarship, which was worth over
$50,000. For a kid who grew up poor, that might as well have been a lottery ticket.

John Doe also lost a lot of so-called friends who bailed on him. Instead of believing in him or
at least getting all the facts, they made like he never existed. That can happen a society that loves
to rush to judgment nor has any time to waste to make a decision based on something other that gossip. We live in a society where friends are easily made when they can be an asset, easily
discarded when they can be a detriment.

John Doe was an innocent man caught in someone else's drink for attention. A woman was thirsty
for sympathy. She wanted someone else. John Dow got swallowed whole.

The football coach didn't reinstate John Doe but I'm not so sure John Doe wanted to be any part
of a coach or team that abandoned him so callously.

The school reinstated John Doe, but there was no more scholarship. He was on his own for
fulfilling his financial obligations to the school.

The school, in a press release, praised themselves for allowing due process to take place and
not rushing to judgment. People will say just about anything, especially in a carefully prepared
letter produced by a highly-paid public relations firm that specializes in crisis management.

There was no chance for the media to challenge the statements of the press release. School
officials retreated to their ivory tower, safe from those who had far more common sense than they
will ever have.

The woman who fabricated the entire story to gain sympathy and attention is not safe. She is back home after dropping out of school and will be going to trial soon. There are many who believe the woman will be made an example of.

You will be able to find her name on a police blotter and finding her name on the Internet will
not be very difficult. A few major newspapers were resourceful enough to go to her Facebook
page and find a picture of her in a tight dress take a selfie of herself. And they inserted it in the
article about her arrest.

As for John Doe? Well, he's trying to rebuild his life. There is no more football, no more
scholarship and not a lot of friends. Even if he was cleared of the phony allegations, those
friends would rather move on than be associated with someone who was tarred, feathered, and slandered.

Sadly, that's just the way a big part of our society is.

I knew nothing about John Doe when I was interviewing him for a job. He had been passed off
to me after the boss spoke with him. I talked to John Doe about his career path in football and
why he wasn't going to pursue his final year of eligibility. He admitted he had 'made some
mistakes in his life', which admittedly, caught my attention.

After John Doe left, my boss showed me an article on his iPhone about a sexual assault on
a college campus. He then told me the accused was John Doe. John Doe was not required to
tell anyone at our company he had been involved in the incident, after all, there was no names mentioned in the article and it would be hard to connect the dots. Most people are accused of
a crime where there name never appears in a police blotter or has any kind of paper trail,
would never admit to being accused of something so foul and sinister, even if cleared by
authorities.

In reality, the accused never truly get cleared in our society that equivocates an accusation to
an arrest, an arrest to a conviction, and a conviction to a felony. Our society loves to say that
everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but in reality, it's guilty until proven innocent. Even
when you are innocent, there will be always be that stain can never be removed.

No. Matter. What.

John Doe's life has been altered forever. He will always have to be worried about someone,
somewhere who may know his story which may be used against him in trying to get a job. John
Doe had more than 90 teammates. And when they tell two friends and so on and so on. You
know the drill.

As for the woman? Her life is pretty much ruined. She will likely spend some time in prison,
have a record, and be a convicted liar. She is part of the Internet forever. Who can trust her again?

Two lives are significantly altered and why? Because a woman wanted attention and sympathy.

One man, John Doe, went through a tortuous ordeal.  And why? Because people, outside
law enforcement officials, wanted to be bothered by the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth.

How sad. How very sad.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I AM AN ADDICT


I'm fairly confident most people won't bother reading the first line of this article. I'm not
really going out on a limb because most of America believes it can tell what's in story by just
perusing the headline.

Sad, but it's very true.

I'm anticipating a number of comments about the 'addiction' on my Facebook, LinkedIn, and
Twitter pages offering support or condolences. "Oh, Paul, I did not know. I'm so sorry",
somebody will write. Or it'll be,  "Hang in there, man, we are all pulling for you."

I'm sure the gossip cauldron will ignite with, "Did you knows" and "Do you believes." I'm
sure the next high school reunion I go to there will be plenty of "Hey, man, sorry to hear
about your problem. Stay strong and keep up the good work."

People that read the headline of this article will have it all figured out, I'm sure. They won't
ask what kind of addict I am, but will go ahead and assume the worst because, after all, they
just need to scan the headline to determine they don't have to waste any time or
energy to read the rest of the article to get the facts.

Maybe our lack of depth is a result of social media and the tsunami of information that floods
it. People are always scrolling, swiping, and snapping and probably don't want to deal with
overload. They scroll, read a headline, then move on. Some would rather take the chance of
being misinformed than not being informed at all. As we've seen with social media users,
everybody is an expert about everything from politics, terrorism, Syria, tax returns, and
anything in sports.

Albert Einstein may have been correct when he said, "I fear the day that technology will
surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots."

We don't need to  investigate or bother to do the least amount of work to see if something
that's been printed, texted, or shouted out at the top of a person's lungs, is the truth. In this
world where we get our information in 140 characters less, people don't have the time to ask
anybody anything face-to-face. We no longer take the time to have a conversation to seek
the truth or get the facts. We just read a tweet, post, or a headline from some fake news
site and believe it to be true.

It's amazing  that with all the stories about athletes, politicians, law enforcement officials,
and Wall Street executives who lie, lie, lie, lie, and then, lie some more, there are still people who ask, "Why would they lie?" to justify or solidify a story they just read or saw.

Lance Armstrong? He lied. Rick Pitino? They don't call him Pinocchio for his skills with a
woman not his wife on the floor of a Louisville restaurant. Michael Vick? Liar. Donald
Trump? Convicted liar. Every steroid user in professional sports that got caught? Liar.
Good,grief. The list goes on and on, doesn't it?

News and entertainment sites lie all the time just to get the most amount of clicks from
people who can't tell the difference between real and fake news. I remember reading an
article by AmericanNews or one of those god awful click-centers that said Trump got Fox
News anchor Sheppard Smith fired

After reading many of the jubilant comments eviscerating Smith,  I just shook my head and
said to myself, "Man, I can see why people get robbed blind of all their savings by some
scam. People believe everything they read and can't think for themselves."

A few months ago, I arrived late to my nephews hockey game at an arena in Long Island.
A big crowd had gathered near the corner of the ice rink. They were in a big hizzy because
someone read a headline of an article on their iPhone where Donald Trump said Barack Obama
was wiretapping the big tower with the president's name on it in Manhattan.

Somebody said something and everyone ran with it to tell all their friends. They didn't say
Trump accused Obama (without any facts, of course). The people just railed away that Obama
was wiretapping Trump, making like he committed a felony and was going straight to prison
sans an arrest or trial.

Yep, I had to let out a giant Good, grief, Charlie Brown.

I've had people make arguments against points I made in an article, spitting venom and vitriol
my way. I often respond with a, "Did you even read the article?" Time suddenly stops and the
pregnant pause is brutally painful. "Um, no, sorry."

Take the time to read the article my friend. Headlines aren't always for the truth, but often
candy to get your attention. Read before you respond.

In one of the million recent studies that people often post on their social media platforms,
(which people often post without reading) a group at Columbia University found that nearly 70 percent of the people who re-tweet or re-post articles don't even read them before banging
on that send button. They just read the headline and re-tweet it to their 2,984 friends on social
media, which like sleeping at Holiday Inn Express, must have made them feel smarter.


If you read this far, then you'll know this: I am truly an addict. I'm addicted to food and exercise.

Is that such a bad thing?

Peace.

Monday, April 10, 2017

DEAR UNITED AIRLINES: GOOD-BYE


I do not rush to judgement.

Even in this social-media driven world that loves to overreact and make a decision based on a headline instead of reading the entire article, I am pretty measured and realize that even the
thinnest pancake has two sides.

Having been part of the media for 18 years and counting, I know how it can twist, shape, and edit
sound bites to make it convenient for their story. I realize that video can, indeed,  lie depending
how it's shot and which part television networks want to cut out.

With that said and everything that's been seen, the incident that occurred aboard a United Airlines
flight, was truly despicable. It cannot, under any circumstance or situation, be defended by the
airliner or anyone else, for that matter. It's cut and dried.

A flight was overbooked. Employees on the airline all of a sudden needed to be on it. It turned
out to be an unlucky day for an elderly Asian physician who needed to be home to care for
some of his patients.

For some reason, he was the chosen one. The one who would be manhandled, humiliated, and
scarred both physically and mentally. Three security "officials" decided to literally rip the man
out of his seat and drag him off the plane in front of more than 100 passengers. I reckon the
gentleman knew he'd be arrested if he tried to fight off the overzealous security animals who,
for some reason, felt they had to justify their positions.

A man dragged off a plane? In the year 2017? At a time when the entire world is equipped
with a cell phone? Hello, major lawsuit. Good-bye hundreds of customers.

I can understand if the passenger was inebriated and unruly, that would've been deserved. If
he made like Gaylord Focker in "Meet the Parents" and talked about a bomb, I would've cheered
it. If he was like Charles Oakley and started pushing the security guards, I would have applauded
it.

But the guy did nothing. Absolutely nothing. He didn't deserve that.

The man was just minding his own business and wanted to go home. He had no interest in volunteering to get off the plane and receive a voucher. That's not against anything. Not the
law, not airplane etiquette, not anything. Yet, he becomes fodder for some goons trying to
audition for the WWE.

Is this what our society is coming to? Is it a by-product of all the hate that is spewed against
others on social-media? I mean, there is something going in our society today and it's not
all that good. I remember seeing six police officers tackling Eric Garner, an unarmed man,
then putting him in a choke hold that eventually killed him. Garner was selling untaxed
cigarettes. Yeah, he was a real threat to the officers and society.

I remember seeing James Blake, a former world-class tennis player, just standing outside
his hotel in NYC just checking out his cell phone before he was tackled and thrown to the
ground by some cop who thought he was Rambo while investigating an identity fraud case.

Identity fraud? Untaxed cigarettes? A man sitting in his seat on an overbooked flight?
Seriously? That's how humans are treating fellow humans? Ones who are not armed, dangerous,
or a threat to anybody?

United Airlines suspended one of the goons who dragged the man off the plane. That wasn't
a hard decision even for the most inept CEO's. Neither will the offer of a free flight to anywhere
in the country for the man and his family. It's the least the airline can do.

United Airlines will settle out of court with the man and pay him for the embarrassment and
physical pain he endured. The last thing United wants is more bad publicity. They want the
public to forget about it as soon as possible. That won't be easy because a lot of people have
already said, good-bye, and rightfully so.






Saturday, April 8, 2017

BRYAN BRENNAN: STILL THE SELFIE KING


It's a selfie-obsessed world and I'm just living in it. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have
become a haven for the self-absorbed who can't refrain from posting multiple self-portraits every
single day. The astonishing number of car selfies I see on my daily news feed makes me wonder
if a lot of people bought vehicles equipped with a mechanism that won't allow you to start it unless you take a selfie and post it.

Boring. Bland. Nauseating.

If you're going to take self-portraits, you may want to check out Bryan Brennan, who in my
mind, is still the undisputed selfie king. Brennan is a sports videographer for NESN, although
few at the  mother of all regional networks have ever seen him really work.

That was a joke. Kind of.


Brennan, like many of us in this social media-driven world, takes a ton of selfies. That's cool, I reckon, but everybody needs to take a few pointers from Brennan. He doesn't take himself too
seriously and according sources close to SportsRip, isn't obsessed with the almighty 'likes'.

The kid just has the uncanny touch of taking selfies that are unique, funny, and very creative.
When I see Brennan in his furry ear-flap hat, I can't help but be reminded of Peter Stormare's   character in the movie, "Fargo."



Brennan isn't as sinister as Stormare but he is a showman. Many, including myself, wonder
why executives at NESN haven't given him his own show yet. The guy has style, creativity, and
is a ratings magnet with women between the ages of 54-72 in New England. Dear Sean McGrail:
Please give Bryan his own show. Now!



Brennan travels with the Bruins and Red Sox throughout the season and, remarkably, none
of the players have beaten him up or thrown him in a trash can. They've actually grown to
like his free spirit and entertaining nature. I have little doubt that if Brennan covered the Patriots,
he'd become the first member of the media to ever snap daily selfies with Bill Belichick--he
is just that good.

With all the political experts obsessed with bashing and trashing Donald Trump combined with
the tsunami of selfies, deactivating my Facebook account seems like the thing to do---until I
see another selfie from Brennan and get a good chuckle. Laughing is healthy. Brennan's selfies
make that happen.



Yeah, that's Brennan with Barry Bonds in the background. And yes, that's Brennan with a guy
whose pot belly is as big as Barry's head used to be when Bonds was on the bean. Does Brennan make light of others? Sure, but not as much as he makes fun of himself. He's an entertainer. The guy has to do what he has to do.



Keep it up, Bry-Guy, you are the undisputed selfie king. You keep it fun, real, maybe not always
so clean, but you are one helluva funny guy.







Tuesday, March 28, 2017

LUKE MAYE AND A PICTURE WORTH MORE THAN 1,000 WORDS


Watching Luke Maye on television hit the shot that sent North Carolina to the Final Four
is one thing, seeing a picture of the former walk-on practicing jumpers with his father, Mark,
is quite another.

The photograph was captured by Andrew Carter of the News & Observer last year in late
February after a regular-season game. The clock said it was close to midnight. The empty seats
tell you everybody's long gone and probably resting comfortably in bed. A little used player,
craving meaningful minutes, knows he has to get better. A father who knows about sacrifice, commitment, and the fine line between success and failure in big-time college sports, is going
to help him get there.

Yes, the picture is worth far more than 1,000 words.

Oh, I reckon the conversation on the floor that night didn't add up to 10 words, much less 1,000.
There were maybe a few, "good shots", or "keep your elbow up", but nothing else really needed
to be said between father and son. They knew. They both knew what it was going to take to be
more than an end-of-the-bench type of player at Carolina.

Hard work.



Luke Maye didn't go from reserve forward to an important player in the NCAA tournament by
accident. He put in the hard work and earned it.

Roy Williams didn't put his trust in a player in the biggest game of the year just because that
player's father used to be the quarterback of the football team. Luke invested a lot of sweat
equity when nobody was watching and secured it.

It wasn't by a stroke of luck that Luke hit the biggest shot of his life and one of the biggest in
the storied history of North Carolina basketball.

He was ready for it.


Thanks to his father who was feeding Luke ball after ball on that February night a year ago,
Luke made the most of his opportunity. Mark didn't need to push or pressure a kid who bet on himself to walk-on at North Carolina team after bypassing scholarship offers to other schools,
but he knew.

He knew that behind every great shot there are usually thousands of others that clanked
off the rim, backboard, or missed everything, altogether. But he kept feeding Luke and fueling
his desire to get better.

He knew about the doubts, lonely moments, and failures that would cause many athletes to
pack it in and quit. But he encouraged Luke to keep believing in himself as he sat on the
bench.


Luke Maye's jersey may not go up in the rafter alongside Michael Jordan, James Worthy,
Sam Perkins, and countless other North Carolina All-Americans, but he is a basketball legend
throughout the state. No Tar Heel will ever forget him or his shot that beat Kentucky.

Hard work, persistence, and a father who knew better, helped make it happen.







Sunday, March 26, 2017

MAYE CAROLINA CONNECTIONS LAST FOREVER


Just over a year ago, I ran into Mark Maye, one of my old roommates at UNC during a
football game. We hadn't seen each other since I left Chapel Hill after graduating in 1987, but
we had reconnected recently, thanks to one of our other roommates, Brett Rudolph, who was a standout linebacker on the football team.

Coming out of high school in 1983, Maye was North Carolina royalty. He was the top-rated
quarterback in the country after a spectacular career at Charlotte's Independence High School.
Maye was a 6'5" pro-style quarterback who threw lightning bolts. He was Peyton Manning before Peyton Manning.

Maye was also pretty darn smart, too.

After getting the full-court press by every coach in the country, Maye told everyone to keep
the full-ride they were offering. He was going to UNC on the prestigious Morehead Scholarship,
the highest-academic award given by the university.


Maye was also one of the nicest guys on the planet, void of ego, full of manners, and very
genuine If you didn't know better, you'd have thought he was the last walk-on allowed to dress
on Saturdays instead of a quarterback who was the object of every college coaches desire.

On a spectacular football Saturday in 2015 at Kenan Stadium, the same place Mark
called signals for the Tar Heels, we connected in person for the first time in more than three
decades. I had talked to him on the phone, trying to prank him by saying I was a fundraiser
for North Carolina and asked him if he could donate $50,000.  The conversation went on for
about five minutes before he figured out he'd been had.


We made small talk and I asked about his kids. Someone in the Carolina network told me
he had a son who was a pretty good basketball player in Charlotte. Mark was about as perfect
as a guy could get, but he did have a slight stutter going all the way back to his Carolina days.
He said, "Paul, he, he, he, he's a pretty good player. He, he, he got some scholarship offers but
he wanted to walk-on at Carolina."

6'8" white kids have as much of a chance of walking-on at Carolina as Donald Trump does. It
just doesn't happen very often, and if it does, they will get limited seconds of playing time
and a start on senior day. That's about it.

Mark and I shook hands, wished each other luck, and went our separate ways. A blast from the
past vaporized into the Carolina blue sky.

I am not a Carolina die-hard fan these days. I don't wave the pom-poms or get emotionally
involved in games anymore. Well, that was before Sunday's game against Kentucky. This was
for the chance to go to the Final Four. I missed the entire first half as I was traveling from out of town.  Basketball games don't really get going until the last 12 minutes, so I wasn't too upset
about joining the game in progress.


As the game went into crunch time, a player named Luke Maye stepped up for Carolina. Yes,
this was the son of my old roommate. Damn, I was feeling old. Like his father, Luke is tall,
very tall. He stands 6'8".  He is a spitting image of the old man: dark hair, sleepy eyes, great
posture.

Mark's career at Carolina never lived  up to the huge expectations thrust upon him. He had
rotator cuff surgery as a sophomore and was never quite  the same. One of the most sought
after players in the country out of high school, he blended in with so many other football
players in college.

It happens.

Sunday, I was watching his clone, a player who fits in perfectly to the system of Roy Williams.
He is a smart player and one who hustles his ass off. When Luke went to the foul line, I saw
his father, Mark, talking to me at the dinner table in our old apartment. When Luke dove for
a loose ball near the end of the game, I imagined Mark giving his son a big fist pump from the
stands and then recoiling, hoping no one saw his emotion. And when Luke hit the shot that beat Kentucky and sent UNC to the Final Four, a huge huge smile washed over my face.


How great was that? A walk-on, playing on the same floor with a slew of NBA lottery picks,
hitting a game-winning shot to send the school he grew up rooting for, to the Final Four.

Luke Maye, an unheralded player unlike his father, etches his name in the annals of Carolina basketball. Everyone who ever went to UNC and even those in North Carolina who didn't, will  remember that shot forever.

I will remember that shot forever, not because my school is still alive and has a chance to
win the national championship. I will remember it because my old roommate, Mark Maye, who
battled through injury and unfulfilled expectations at North Carolina, enjoyed his greatest
moment as part of the Tar Heels family.

Any top-rated recruit in the country who gets injured and has to live with unfulfilled
expectations, may always wonder, "what if?" It can eat at a person for a long, long time.

Mark Maye waited a long time to experience a moment like Sunday. His son, Luke, a walk-on,
nailing a basketball that is now part of Carolina history. How sweet is that?

That was so awesome. That's what makes sports so great.