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.