Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It's why I love hockey players

Patrice Bergeron is why hockey players are the toughest athletes in professional sports. The
Bruins center played Game 6 with a broken rid, separated shoulder, and torn cartilage. Are you kidding  me? Bears quarterback Jay Cutler twisted his knee during a playoff game two years
ago and was sill standing, but he waved the white towel  and didn't return to help his team try
to win.

It's why I love hockey players.

Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks got drilled in the face with a puck in Game 6 and
was practically sipping from a pool of own blood. Dazed and confused, Shaw went to the
locker room, got stitched up and returned to help his team win the Stanley Cup. He didn't
even put on a protective shield to shield his stitches from possibly ripping apart. Carl Crawford
of the Los Angeles Dodgers feels a twinge in his hamstring and he goes on the disabled list for

As the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blawkhawks and Boston Bruins clearly
demonstrated, hockey players are resilient, passionate, incredibly hardworking, but most of
all, tough. The series gave us six brutally competitive games, but if you add up all the
overtimes, it came out to more than seven.  They battled fiercely, dishing out big body
checks, and took them, as well, squeezing every ounce of sweat out of their bodies, with
one goal in mind: winning the Stanley Cup.

It's why I love hockey players

In baseball, if you get hurt, you go on the disabled list. If you get injured, you go into the
witness protection program. Hockey players don't get hurt, and if they get injured, they never
show it. Oh, the 25 stitches across their forehead might give it away, but hockey players never
let anybody see they might be in pain.

Four years ago, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith took a puck to the mouth and ended up
spitting Chick-lets. He lost seven teeth! Seven. Did he go on the disabled list for 15-days?
Hell, no. He went to the locker room, got sewed up and returned to play in the same game.

It's why I love hockey players.

There are no athletes in any sport, anywhere, who endure so much physical pain as hockey
players. But they never show it. They are the toughest athletes in professional sports. I just
wis the entire country would appreciate it like many fans in hockey do. They really deserve more
attention and admiration than they get. But they would never complain about it.

It's why I love hockey players

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Patrick Gamere is to videography what Steven Jobs was to technology: pure genius. When
he puts a camera on his shoulder,  he creates magic like Ozzie Smith often did with his glove.
Gamere has the eye of a trained Navy SEAL sniper and, like Larry Bird,,  often sees things
develop before they actually happen.

Gamere is a longtime videography working for American's best regional network, NESN. He
has been on a spectacular run in the city of champions, covering the likes of Bruins, Celtics,
Red Sox and Patriots. A former basketball standout at Framingham State,  Gamere has an
uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, and is often photographed by
others doing it.

On Tuesday night at Fenway Park, Gamere was assigned to cover the Red Sox game against
Tampa Bay, which ended with a walk-off home run by Johnny Gomes. There was 'G', as he's
known by his fans throughout the region, following Gomes as he touched down at home plate.

The photograph illustrates what Gamere is all about: passion, focus, talent, and commitment.
Gamere makes something that's really difficult, look easy. Holding a 20-lb camera free-handed
in the middle of a scrum can be a challenge, but Gamere is a total pro. He got the money shot
for NESN.

Gamere certainly knows how to get the money shot. He uses his vast knowledge of sports
and has a sixth sense when it comes to knowing what scene in the locker room or on the field
will make for a memorable image. When the Celtics won the NBA title in 2008, there was
Gamere in the post-game celebration, camera perched up high, standing behind Kevin Garnett
who was celebrating his first championship. Priceless.

As a videographer for NESN and working in the sports tradition-rich city of  Boston, everyday
is like Christmas for Gamere. If he's not covering the Patriots on a run to the Super Bowl, he's
with the Celtics or the Bruins or the Red Sox. It's a dream job, but few do it better than Gamere.
He was recently awarded an Emmy for his videography brilliance. He is a valued employee at
NESN, one with a tremendous work ethic, dependability, and commitment. Gamere takes his
job seriously, but has fun doing it. Who wouldn't working at NESN and covering the best teams
in sports?

Gamere reminds me of the former Chicago Cubs great, Ryne Sandberg. He's pretty quiet, stays
on an even keel, loved by his teammates, and delivers an MVP performance nearly every
night, but never says, "look at me, look at what I did, aren't I great?'

Gamere works on a great team of photographers along with the wily veteran John Phillip Martin,
Byran Brenan, and Chris Del Dotto. They all love what they do, and do what they love. It's
a great group of guys, who are having the times of their lives.

He may not show it, but Gamere has the biggest smile of them all as he goes to work. He
is living his dream and knows that on any given night, he could get the shot that everybody
in New England will remember forever. And he often does.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Before Monday, not many people other than hardcore football fans knew of Steve Gleason.
Very few people outside of New Orleans were familiar with his story. That all changed thanks
to the malicious and callous act of three sports radio jocks in Atlanta. For some reason, perhaps,
to get a cheap laugh, they chose to mock Gleason, who is dying from ALS. They actually
produced a skit that had someone acting as Gleason being interviewed live on-air with the
answers coming from a computerized voice.

In the annals of sports talk radio history, this could have been the worst attempt at humor.

Listeners were shocked, management of the station, 790 The Zone, was incensed. They acted
swiftly, first suspending the trio, then terminating their contracts. Nobody argued in defense of
the three radio jocks, and how could they? Making fun of a man dying from a brutal disease
was about as low as it could go. It was despicable.

But through all the slimed hurled by three radio jocks who lived in it, Gleason has emerged
as a bigger inspiration and hero than he already was. This stupid act produced by
three grown men, has shined the spotlight on a former athlete who is a real man. It has
brought more attention to ALS, an insidious disease. Every terminal illness is no less
painful than the next, especially when the result is the same. But ALS is just brutal,
attacking the nervous system and robbing a person of all their motor skills.

Life isn't fair, but it really didn't seem right that Gleason was afflicted with the disease
in the prime of his life. He was a football player who overcame tremendous odds to stick
and stay in NFL. Gleason, a linebacker at Washington State, went undrafted in 2000, but
signed on as  a free-agent with the Indianapolis Colts, and then was promptly cut. He hooked
on with the Saints where he became a folk hero, immortalized with a statue outside of the

On September 25, 2006, the Saints were playing their first game in 21 months after
Hurricane Katrina tore apart New Orleans. In the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons,
Gleason  blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown. The roof of the Superdome
nearly blew off because of the noise generated from what became an iconic moment in
Saints history. A statue of  Gleason's punt block stands outside the dome and it will remain
there long after Gleason is gone, which could be sometime soon.

In 2011, Gleason announced he has ALS. The entire city of New Orleans was devastated.
Gleason was a free-spirit, who was much too young to be taken down by this terrible disease.
Today, Gleason can't walk, talk, or do much of anything on his own. To see him in a
motorized wheelchair withering away knocks the wind out of you.

But Gleason, hasn't given up, gotten down, or ever wondered, "why me?" He has incredible
courage, character, and resiliency through this trying time. Gleason and his wife had a baby
boy and he's hiked mountains in Peru. ALS may have slowed him down, but it hasn't stopped
him from living. On the day those radio jocks in Atlanta mocked him, he filled in for Peter
King of Sports Illustrating, writing the"Monday Morning Quarterback," by blinking his eyes
on a computer device. Think about how that is. He detailed his incredible battle with ALS.
It is sad, funny, and difficult to read at times. The end game is near and Gleason knows it.

Perhaps, the attention Gleason received over the past two days will help people become more
aware of what he and other ALS victims are dealing with. It's not pretty. Perhaps, more people
will reach into their pockets and donate money for research to help cure this terrible disease. I
sure hope that's the case.

Perhaps, the attempt to mock Gleason really just showed how strong he is. The three men who
made fun of him, aren't the man Gleason is if you put them all of them together. On Tuesday,
he accepted the apologies of the three men. He holds no bitterness inside as ALS ravages his
body and mind.

Gleason was the bigger man because that's who he is. We will  remember him far
longer than we'll pay attention to three guys who tried get a laugh at a dying man's expense.

That's because Steve Gleason is a hero defined.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013



When I strolled into Durham Athletic Park with my Lynchburg Red Sox teammates on June 12, 1988, I couldn't help but marvel at the odds of being there to play the Durham Bulls on "Bull
Durham Night", which marked the premiere of the movie that had been filmed there six months earlier. I wondered if it was destiny, divine intervention, or just freak luck that had me playing
in that small city on Tobacco Road, just eight miles away from where I attended college at UNC.

I walked out of that same park in October after working on a movie with a title that made no 
sense and a plot that many critics said was going to make for one of the worst films ever. I didn't
have any expectations of appearing in the movie, nor did I ever think I'd be playing baseball again
after an unfulfilled career with the Tar Heels. The line for actors and extras left on the cutting
room floor stretches from  Durham to Los Angeles and there wasn't a major league team busting down my door to get my name on a contract. But I did make sure to get a picture with Kevin
Costner before I left Durham Athletic Park for good. Or at least, I thought for good.

That June, I was back there, somehow, someway,  playing the real life Durham Bulls on a typical North  Carolina  night that was so hot and humid, you had to towel off after blinking. Before the game,  Ron Shelton,  who wrote and directed, "Bull Duham", called me over to his seats, which
were directly behind home  plate. He told me the home run scene I had filmed with Costner had
made the final cut and  wished me luck in the game. I thanked him but I wasn't exactly doing
cart wheels. Again, nobody thought "Bull Durham" was going to do well at the box office and
when you hear a film critic say it's  going to be the worst movie ever made, well, it's not something you tell the world about.


I was more excited about playing the Durham Bulls in front of 5,000 fans, all of whom seemed
to be right on top of you. The charm of the "DAP",  as it was called, is that the seats are extremely close to the field, like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. There is a 20-foot high fence in right field with an old warehouse behind it. And that mechanical bull from the movie was still there. It's a
great baseball  experience for the fans, as well as the players.

I thanked Shelton for helping to make that happen as well. Before the filming of the baseball
scenes, we had  a two-week camp where we took batting practice everyday with Costner and the other actors with  Shelton and Howard McCullough, a Red Sox scout hired as a consultant,
watching from behind the  cage. I finished a round by hitting one out from the right side of the
plate, then hit two over the fence from the left side. Shelton, who made it to AAA with the


Baltimore Orioles, turned to McCullough  and said,  "You mean to tell me you can't sign a
switch-hitting catcher with some pop?" McCullough, who I had known from my UNC days,
didn't say anything, but he called me in Decemeber and offered me a free-agent contract with
the Red Sox. Funny how things sometimes work out.

So, there I was in Durham Athletic Park on the night of June 12, 1988 catching against the Bulls,
the Class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves in the Carolina League. Everything seemed so surreal
and almost like an out-of-body experience. It was baseball nirvana. Things would get even more
interesting and magical as the night wore on. I came to the plate in the fifth inning with the bases-loaded and stepped in against a hard-throwing right-hander named Jimenez.

Two months into my professional career I had yet to hit a home run, and had never hit one from
the left-side of the plate in my entire life.I started hitting left-handed during my junior year at
UNC and didn't get many at-bats from that side of the plate. We had two catchers, Matt Merullo
and Jesse Levis, both of whom went on to play in the major leagues, hitting left-handed so there
wasn't much of a need for a lefty neophyte to take away any of their at-bats.

On a 2-2 count, Jimenez, delivered a belt high fastball that I took a whack at. Honestly, I thought
 it was just a lazy fly ball to right-field. I hit many of those, so I had a good idea of what  they
felt like. But for some reason, perhaps it was divine intervention, the ball just kept carrying on
this hot, muggy, Carolina summer night. The ball disappeared over  the right-field fence, clearing it by what seemed to be a half an inch. It didn't matter. It still  counted as a grand slam. I was so excited, I nearly broke the hand of our third base coach as I celebrated my first professional home run, which came on "Bull Durham Night" in nearly the  same spot as I belted one during the filming of it. Unreal.

As I jogged back to the dugout after crossing home plate, there was Shelton yelling and
screaming, celebrating the home run with more excitement than I was showing, at least on the outside, anyway. This was pro ball, you had to be cool and restrained. But on the inside, I was
saying, "No effin' way that just happened. What are the odds of that? Five months ago, I was
laying on my couch with my  baseball dreams shattered. And now this? You can't make it up?
The night of the premiere?" Hollywood couldn't have written that script.

It was a magical night for me and one I'll never forget. How could I? My teammates and I
went to  a special showing of "Bull Durham" the next afternoon, which turned out to be really special. After a long night of celebrating at "Four Corners" in Chapel Hill, my old college
stopping grounds, I showed  up with a nasty hangover. But the excitement of seeing the movie
took care of that. To see how that movie came together and the rip-roaring laughs I got out of it,
was truly a classic moment. Seeing myself on a huge screen was a little more than I could take.
And when my teammates all looked over at me, I just slunk down in my chair and tried to

"Bull Durham" had a lot more staying power than my career, which fizzled out the next year.
The movie, which had been dogged by critics before its release, turned out to be a true moive
classic. YouTube, the Internet, and incessant re-runs have kept it alive 25 years later. People
can recite many of the lines from what was a brilliantly-written script and nearly every
minor-leaguer has seen it more than once.

It became a part of my life for good 25 years ago today, and while I honestly get embarrassed
when people bring it up, I still get one helluva chuckle out of it. Going from one of the worst
movies ever to a classic, is something I can always laugh about. And being a small part of it,
is something I will always cherish.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013



Bill Belichick will address the media at 10:45am in Foxborough on Tuesday. Things he won't be
talking about: The foot fetishes of Rex Ryan, Wes Welker's Twitter obsessed wife, Robert Kraft's
30-year old girlfriend, and Deer Antler Spray. Nope. this press conference will be ALL about Tim
Tebow, why he signed him, and how he expects to employ him as a football player.

Here are the Top 10 things Belichick will say about Tim Tebow and what he's really thinking.

10. He's a good football player who, I think, can help us become a better team and win football
      What he's really thinking: We signed Tebow to be a chaperone to Gronk and calm his dancing
      ass down.

9. I don't care what Tebow did with the New York Jets. I coach the New England Patriots and
      that's all I can control. My job is to put players in the best possible position to succeed and
      help us win games.

     What he's really thinking: The Jets are the dumbest team in the history of the league and
     wasted the talents of Tebow. Christ, they let Danny Woodhead go and I made him a star. I'm
     going to stick it to them again and like it.

  8. I think Tebow can succeed as a quarterback in this league with the proper coaching.

     What he's really thinking: Tebow is the worst QB in the history of the league. He's killed
     enough worms with his throws to feed a million baby birds. Bill Walsh couldn't make him
     a quarterback. He will run, receive, and block for this team and nothing else.

  7. I've always been a big fan of Tim Tebow.

      What he's really thinking: My girlfriend loves him and told me to sign him. What baby wants,
      baby gets.

   6. No, I don't think Tim Tebow will be a distraction to this football team at all.

      What he's really thinking: I control everything. I'll let you know when Tebow talks,
      walks, and can run bare chested in the rain through training camp. Which I can tell
      you right now, ain't happening. I made sure Corey Dillon and Randy Moss followed
      the program. When they didn't, they were gone. Same goes for Tebow.

   5.  No, I didn't sign Tebow as a favor to Urban Meyer, who is one of the few people I
        actually like on this planet.

        What he's really thinking: I wish these reporters would quit asking such
        stupid questions. The Bruins are playing for the Stanley Cup and I'm answering questions
        about the 53rd guy on the team. (If he's lucky enough to make it)

    4.  Tim Tebow is like any other player on this team. He'll have to work hard, be smart,
         and prove he can help this team.

         What he's really thinking: We needed to step up our Bible study group. If nothing else,
         Tebow will take it to a new level.

    3.  Why is ESPN so obsessed with Tim Tebow? I have no idea, you'll have to ask them.
          What he's really thinking? I hate ESPN. I hate Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. I
          hate when Stu Scott screams, 'Boo-yeah'. Boo-yeah? What the hell does that mean?
          Did they get bored worshipping LeBron James already? Give me a break

     2.  Do I like Tebowing? I like Tebowing as much as I like Face-Twit or whatever you
          guys call it?

          What he's really thinking: What a dumb effin' question. I'm tired of this noise already.
          What time do the Bruins play tomorrow night?

      1.  No, I don't think Tebow is a God.

           What he's really thinking: If Tebow was God, he'd complete at least 50 percent of
           his quarterback. God is on this team, but he wears number 12.

Monday, June 10, 2013


By the time ESPN starts their wall-to-wall coverage of Tim Tebow taking his first breath with
the New England Patriots on Tuesday, everyone from Merrill Hoge to your mailman will
have an opinion on how the team will use the former Heisman Trophy winner.  Third-string
QB, Wildcat, H-back, tight end, special teams, leader of Bible study....we've heard all of the
options by now and God's favorite player has yet to look at the playbook, much less put his
jockstrap on.

Stop speculating. It's just a waste of time and energy. 

You may think you know, but you have absolutely no idea. There are very few people who
have ever figured out what Bill Belichick is thinking and nobody knows for sure how he's
going to incorporate Tebow into his system. And make no mistake about it, it's HIS system.
The offense, defense, and special teams are all part of Belichick's system. He built the offense,
not Charlie Weis and not Josh McDaniels. Same goes for the defense and special teams.

We do know that Belichick draws up better schemes than any coach in the NFL today,
and perhaps, history. Few defenses have been able to stop the Patriots offense over the last
five years, which has evolved and changed many times over that span. It's the most sophisticated
one in the league and one of the toughest to learn (Just ask Chad Johnson, who is currently
inmate 830-2-000-01 in a Florida jail). It uses multiple sets, motion, and head spinning formations. Sometimes it's tight end heavy, other instances it's tight end light. It changes all the time.

It has a lot of interchangeable parts, which has included players like Danny Woodhead, a
guy NOBODY thought would contribute much to the team when the Pats acquired him off
waivers from the Jets. Belichick sure did, though. He took Matt Cassel, a 7th round draft pick
who played only slightly more than I did at USC and turned him into a decent quarterback who
led the Patriots to 11 wins when he filled in for Brady, then signed a big contract with the
Kansas City Chiefs, where he wasn't very good.

When the Patriots traded for Wes Welker  seven years  ago, there wasn't anyone in football who
said, "what a great move, Welker is a  Hall of Famer." Belichick knew what he was getting, didn't
he? During their Super Bowl winning years, Belichick incorporated a linebacker, Mike Vrabel
into the offense as a tight end and he became money inside the red zone. Every time Vrabel
entered the game, teams knew  he was an eligible receiver, yet still couldn't cover him or knew
where the hell he was on the field until he was spiking the ball in the end zone.

Belichick has managed to put together high-scoring offenses without star receivers (David
Givens, David Patton) and higher-scoring ones with the likes of Randy Moss. But when Moss
lost a  half-a-step and started to poison the locker room, Belichick dumped him for a third-round
pick. Belichick knew.

Now, he's got Tebow, who he views simply as a very good football player who can do a lot of
different things. Belichick loves versatility like Kim Kardashian craves attention. I'm sure
Belichick has been thinking of ways to employ Tebow as soon as he was released by the Jets.
A lot of the experts out there say that Tebow will NEVER play a down at quarterback for the
Patriots. Really? You sure about that? Oh, we all know that Tom Brady is safe and secure in
his job, but do you think he's going to challenge Belichick if the Patriots coach wants to use
him as a change of pace quarterback for a few plays a game?

Brady has long said that he respects everything Belichick thinks and does, and would do whatever
his coach wants him to do. Do you really think he's going to pull a hissy fit or melt like a snowman
in the desert like Mark Sanchez did when Tebow showed up in the Big Apple? Hell, no.

Tebow is going to be much more than a "third-string quarterback" as ESPN reported Tebow
would be. Please, Belichick didn't get Tebow to hold the clip board. He loves sticking it to the
Jets more than anybody in the world. He picked up Woodhead after the Jets cut the diminutive
player and made him a star. Belichick saw how the Jets wasted Tebow's talents and couldn't figure
out a way to use him effectively. Wait until the Jets and the fans see how the Hoodie employs
Tebow next year. Belichick will be laughing his ass off.

He has also put Aaron Hernandez, a big tight end with speed in the backfield to run the ball
on a few occasiona. Did anybody see that coming? Nope Belichick had the vision, knowledge
and stones to do it and make it work.

All the experts, sports radio jocks, and Chuckie from Chelsea can give all the opinions and
analysis they want, but it doesn't matter. The only person who knows how Tebow is going to
be used is Belichick. And you really don't want to bet against him when it comes to getting
Tebow to be productive in his system? I wouldn't.


At around 5:20pm EST, the news of Tim Tebow signing with the New England Patriots
flooded Facebook and Twitter like a tsunami. The most polarizing figure in NFL history caused
a huge reaction among social media users and most of it started with the letters "WTF?" or "NFW!

That's right, God's quarterback will be playing for Bill Belichick and a team that most people
outside of New England, love to hate. Would love to see the reaction of Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens after he gets the news of Tebow hooking on with the Patriots. I'm sure by the
time I've  written this article, there will be 1,000 posts on Twitter by players from around the NFL stating their opinion. After all, EVERYBODY in the world has an opinion on Tebow.

After Tebow was released by the New York Jets in March, a lot of people around the league
thought New England would be a good landing spot for Tebow. Josh McDaniels, who drafted
Tebow when he was the head coach with Denver, is the Patriots offensive coordinator and is
said to be a huge fan of Tebow and what he can bring to an offense.

But that died down after Michael Silver of Yahoo, who happens to be great friends with Tom
Brady, wrote that Belichick "hates" Tebow as a football player. Just a few days ago, the Hoodie refuted  that report. On Monday, the Patriots signed the former Heisman Trophy quarterback
from Florida.

The circus is officially open.

Here are the Top 5 reasons Tebow will work out in Florida.

PATRIOTS NEED A SPARK. I realize the Patriots win 75 percent of their games every year,
but they haven't won a Super Bowl since 2005. That's a long, long time in the world of Belichick.
The infusion of Tebow will create more competition and put more pressure on the team, which
is something I think, Belichick, as someone who covered the Patriots, for a few years, loves. Belichick's mantra is the "best players will play, whether it be offense, defense, or special teams."
We know Tebow won't threaten Brady's job, but he could take plays away from those vying for
time on special teams and all-purpose roles and that will create better competition.

how to handle the presence of Tebow. Mark Sanchez melted like a snowman in the desert
and  everybody else pointed the finger at Tebow when things started going south, even though
he appeared in about three plays a game as a personal protector. Players were bad-mouthing
Tebow behind his back or doing it "anonymously" to reporters who wanted dirt. It poisoned
the locker room because  immature and insecure players couldn't handle it. The Patriots locker
room  can handle anything. What Belichick says to Brady goes to the entire locker room and
Tebow's  presence won't be a problem. Belichick's message to his team has always been 'Do
YOUR job', and they get it. That won't change with Tebow around.

STRENGTH OF BRADY. Mark Sanchez couldn't handle the presence of Tebow in New York
and it affected his play and role as a leader on the team. Brady is a million times the man, leader,
and quarterback of Sanchez. He won't be bothered by the sight of Tebow one bit. And if Brady's
not bothered by Tebow, the rest of the team won't either. Brady established himself 10 years ago,
Sanchez never did and Brady will be the first one helping Tebow fit in in New England.

FLORIDA CONNECTION. Belichick loves Urban Meyer-coached Florida players. Aaron
Hernandez, Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham have worked out pretty well for the
Patriots, haven't they? Those guys will make sure Tebow has someone to lean on and will spread
the news around the locker room that Tebow is a perfect Patriot: smart, hard-working, and versatile.

COACHING STAFF. Let's face it. The coaching staff in New York didn't have a clue on how
to use Tebow. They were told to find a way to fit him into the offense, but offensive coordinator
Tony Sparano couldn't figure out how to use Tebow in his system. He found it akin to trying to
put a square peg in a round hole. When the team acquired Tebow, Rex Ryan and company said
tthey were going to take the Wildcat to a whole new level. Yep, that level was in the dumpster.

Belichick draws up schemes, both offensively and defensively better than anyone in the league--
by far. He and McDaniels will figure out a way to incorporate Tebow into the system without disrupting it. Belichick is never one to stand pat or get comfortable with an offense. He will
make changes to give defenses more to think about and prepare for. Tebow might be used as
an H-Back, tight end, or as just a decoy.

Yes, Tim Tebow will work in New England.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Opening the door to the Olympic hockey arena in Lake Placid was akin to ripping off the
lid of a treasure chest full of memories that had been sealed for more than 40 years. I almost
felt guilty not having to pay to enter a hockey shrine that produced a once-in-a lifetime moment
which re-energized an entire country. A bunch of fresh-faced college kids authored a 'Miracle on
Ice', upsetting a Soviet team that was too big, too fast, too strong, but just ripe enough to be
beaten. It was, hands down, the greatest sporting event of the last century.

If there was a tour guide to take me around to tell me the story of how Team USA beat the
Soviets on their way to winning the gold medal, I would have given him $20 to get a burger
and beer across the street. I had read every article, watched every movie, and even had a
chance to meet and interview Mike Eruzione, the hero and captain of the team while I was
working in Boston. I didn't need somebody to tell me about a moment I witnessed
as a teenager from New Canaan, CT, which seemed like a world a way from Lake Placid
at the time.

I wanted to soak this all in by myself, with my memories, along with the ghosts from the 1980
Olympic game between the United States and Soviet Union. Forgive me for being selfish, but
I'm just glad I didn't have to share this moment with a bunch of other tourists. I didn't want to
have to be 'moved along' because I was taking too much time imagining what this place must
have been like on that heart-stopping February night four decades ago.

I got chills walking down the aisles toward the playing surface. The chills were much like the
ones I experienced as a 15-year old kid when the chants of U.S.A! U.S.A! blasted through my
television set which was glued to ABC Sports. Those chants almost came to life as I marveled
at a hockey arena that was close to perfection, not one polluted by luxury boxes and corporate
greed that we see in nearly every arena and stadium in professional sports today.

The 8,000 magnificent red seats are so close to the ice, the spectators must have been able to
feel the heartbeats of a bunch of college kids as they tried to slay the big, red dragon that was the Soviet Union, a team of paid professionals who had been together nearly every day for
four years, preparing for their coronation as the greatest team in the world, once again.

My trip down to the ice and into the hallways of the locker rooms made me feel like a little kid
who just found an open gate at Augusta and was allowed to walk into Butler cabin without
anybody noticing. Except I wasn't trespassing or doing anything illegal, although, it sure felt that
way because this was too good to be true. Sorry, some people like posting pictures of their food
on Facebook. I like to write about historic moments that make me feel young again.

I strolled down the hallways where nearly everything that happened during that Olympic
tournament is contained in a plaque and posted on the wall. Then I came to 'Locker Room 5',
which was the dressing room for Team USA for their victory over the Soviet Union. And yes,
the roster of everyone on that team is encased on the wall just outside of it. Jim Craig, Dave
Silk, Ken Morrow, Mark Johnson, Buzz Schneider.....they were all there just in case anybody
had forgotten. 

The door of locker room 5 looked like any other door, except it's the gateway to the greatest
upset in sports, college, professional, or the Olympics. So many stories, characters, and one
speech that was so brilliant, it's immortalized on a plaque. It smacks you in the face just after you

 open the door. A picture of Herb Brooks, the hard-driving coach who led the U.S. is at the head of
it, with the exact words he used to motivate his players before they took the ice against the Soviets:

                                     Great moments are born from great opportunity.
                                      And that's what you have here tonight, boys.
                                          That's what you've earned here, tonight.
                                                                One game.
                                      If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine.
                                                 But not this game. Not tonight.
                                                   Tonight, we skate with 'em.
                         Tonight, we stay with 'em, and we shut them down because we can!
                                  Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.
                                 You were born to be hockey players -- every one of ya.
                                            And you were meant to be here tonight.
                                                          This is your time.
                                                   Their time -- is done. It's over.
     I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em!
                                                          This is your time!!

I got goosebumps reading this speech. Every hair on my back stood up and tingling ran through
my spine. I could almost hear Brooks' character in 'Miracle on Ice', Kurt Russell shouting it
out to the players in the movie, 'Miracle on Ice.'  Stuff like this is powerful, really powerful.

Once you're finished reading the plaque, you can enter the locker room, which looks the one
you see in any municipal rink in the country. It is cramped, has that hockey smell, and showers
that are too close for comfort. Amenities? It had none. Hard to believe it accommodated Team
USA in a mammoth event like the Olympics. Perhaps, it just added to the charm and history
of it all.

As I left the locker room and went back to the bench where Team USA sat for the game. I
imagined Brooks in his camel hair blazer looking to the scoreboard, anxiously counting down
the seconds to the game. My eyes wandered up to the rafters, where Al Michaels and Ken
Dryden called the game. The press box looked like a chicken coup as it was perched high
above the rink. The echoes woke up and he was screaming..."five seconds, four seconds,
three seconds. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

The excitement and unbridled joy I felt as a sophomore in high school, watching alone at home
came rushing back. It was an amazing moment. An empty hockey rink never made me feel
so alive.

Plan a trip to Lake Placid and experience this place. Like inside the fence at Augusta, this
place is truly special. Almost as miraculous as the game against the Soviets, is the fact that
this tiny village hosted such a massive event like the Olympics, not once, but twice.

Lake Placid can always hang its hat on entertaining dozens of countries, but also being the
site of the greatest sporting event of the last century. It truly was a miracle.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Bo Hickey. The name alone sounds like something out of Hollywood. To those who saw Hickey
run over, through, and around tacklers during his days as a running back, he is bigger than life.
And to Lou Marinelli, who coached with Hickey for more than 30 years and saw him jam a pack
of Red Man tobacco in his mouth every day, he is like a "cartoon character."

Thomas "Bo" Hickey is an original. When he was born, the mold was thrown away. He is a
true legend in the state of Connecticut. If you tell people with a sports background that you're
from New Canaan, the first thing they'll most likely ask is, "Do you know Bo Hickey?" My
answer is yes, and it always brings a huge smile to my face.

The man, the stories, and the legend of Bo Hickey are truly classic.

As a high school athlete, Hickey was the original "Bo", an athlete who could do everything. In
the 1960's, while playing at Stamford Catholic High School, Hickey was a 6 foot, 230 lb running
back with sprinters speed. He was well ahead of his time and became one of the greatest high
school players in the history of state. He took his talents to College Park, Maryland to play for
the Terps where he became a star before leaving to play in the CFL after his sophomore year.

Hickey ended up playing one season in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, scoring four
touchdowns. before injuries ended his career. His playing days over, Hickey set out to be a
coach, where his legend grew even bigger.

After a few coaching stints around the FCIAC in Connecticut, Hickey joined Marinelli's staff
in 1981, where he stayed for 31 years. He helped morph the Rams from league doormat to
perennial state power as an assistant coach. I was part of Marinelli and Hickey's first team at
New Canaan High School and the stories I have about Bo are simply priceless.

For the coddled and pampered kids of New Canaan, Hickey was the first in-your-face, tell it
like it is, football coach. As a former professional player, Hickey wasn't easily impressed. When
he yelled and scream with a wad of tobacco in his mouth, even the best interpreter from the
United Nations couldn't figure out what the hell he was saying.

Coach "Bo" acted like he knew everything, and that's because he usually did. When Marinelli
asked Hickey if he wanted to join him at coaching seminars, Hickey would respond, "I played
the game for a living. What can I learn at a seminar?" Hickey played under the legendary coach
Bob Lynch in high school, who was an offensive wizard and Hickey had an amazing sports I.Q.
He was rough, tough, and never afraid to tell you what he thought, which most of the time, was

During my senior year, we had a player, the late Fred Trumpler, who worshipped Hickey at the
alter, but was a bit of hypochondriac. He was always stopping the flow of practice with some
malady. Frustrated by Trumpler's actions, Hickey picked up four orange cones from the sidelines
and placed them around Trumpler, who was laying on the ground writhing in pain, and said,
"All right, we're good. Don't run into the Trumpler zone and things we'll be OK." And then
he'd spit tobacco juice defiantly into the ground.

Hickey was known as much for his tobacco chewing as his coaching ability. We often thought
he went to sleep with a pack of Red Man under his pillow. During my senior year, I took a
marketing class and we were assigned to create a product and make a commercial for it.
Me and my good friend, Steve Tonra, had Hickey in mind for the project. We came up with
"Bo Hickey's Everlasting Chew" and our marketing campaign for it was a pure classic. He
was on a horse with a bigger than 10-gallow cowboy hat, spitting tobacco juice at everybody
he had just beaten up at the saloon.

I could do nothing but laugh nearly 30 years later, when Hickey, who runs the cemetery in
New Canaan, was helping me pick out a plot for my father who had just passed away. I opened
the door to his SUV and four cartons of Red Man tobacco fell to the ground. Yep, that's
Bo Hickey, through and through.

Bo Hickey portrays himself as a tough guy, and he is. But under that sandpaper-like exterior
is a man with a huge heart. He won't let many see it, but he truly cares deeply about his players
who all respect him tremendously. Hickey has been coaching hockey at the high school for more
than a decade and doesn't get paid much. Marinelli once told me that Hickey spends far more
out of his own pocket on the kids and the program, than he takes in. Hickey helps out with food, equipment, and anything a kid on his team might need. And he does it without asking for anything but an all-out effort in return.

Bo Hickey is a true classic and a one-in-a-million type of guy. He has coached in Connecticut
for nearly 40 years and has made an impression on everyone he has met. Is he always politically
correct? Um, no. and Bo doesn't care. Does everyone like Bo Hickey? Absolutely not. But those
are the people  that don't really know Bo Hickey. They see what's on the surface, which isn't
always pretty.

But to the players, coaches, and administrators who truly know Bo Hickey, he is a great man
and  a legend. I love the guy.

On Friday night, the football program will honor Bo Hickey for his contributions and service.
And yes, there will be a roast of Bo Hickey, as well. Should make for one hell
of a night.