Thursday, September 26, 2013


My Dad was like most Americans in that he was a big dog lover. He wasn't obsessed and
didn't oufit them in funny costumes and take pictures to put on a Christmas card, but my
Dad treated them like most of us do: like a great friend and family member.

The only difference between my Dad's love for dogs and that of most people's was that he
had four of them to take care of at one time. He didn't plan it that way, but because he could
never  say "no", that's how things turned out.

After my sister, Kara, returned from a summer in Colorado after graduating from college,
she brought home a snow white American Eskimo she had rescued in the Rocky Mountains.
Kara moved into New York City and her apartment complex didn't allow dogs. Knowing
that my Dad never said "no" to her in her life, Kara asked Dad if she could take care of her
dog, Kirby.  "Sure, why not," he said. "What's another dog?' My Dad, who had big German  Shepperd's when we were growing up, downsized later in life, going with a lhasa apso
and a shih tzu. With the addition of Kirby, Dad had three dogs. For a while.

A few years later, Kara got married and had a kid with her husband, who also brought
a dog into the relationship. After moving from the city out to the Connecticut suburbs, they
were concerned about having a good sized dog around a new born baby.

"Dad, do you think you could take the dog? Please?", she asked. And, of course, my Dad
said yes. So, here was my Dad, just about in retirement with four Dogs to take care. Mom
helped out, of course, but Dad felt it was his job to feed 'em, walk 'em, and do whatever else
needed to be done for them. Caring for one dog is hard enough, not to mention expensive,
try doing it times four. But he loved it. Boy, how did he ever love it.

The sight of seeing my Dad walking four dogs was pretty comical. In the stuffy, pretentious
town of New Canaan, I'm sure there were some people who saw him walking in the street
twisting and turning with four dogs and figured he probably became a professional walker
to pick up a few extra bucks.

That's funny and so were Sunday mornings. My Dad would go to 7 a.m. Mass and would
always take his four buddies with him. He'd stand at the door leading into the garage and
yell, "Let's go! Time to go to church." And it became like a Sunday morning jail break.
Four dogs from different parts of the house would bolt for the garage door. They'd go
slip-sliding into walls and wipe out in an effort to get to the car first. Dad would open
the hatch to his SUV and the dogs that could, would leap into the back. The two that
couldn't, got a lift from my Dad. It was a small thing, but my Dad got one helluva kick
out of it.

Once he got to church, he'd roll down the windows and leave the dogs with some water
before going in to praise the Lord. When he returned home, he'd always stop at the beginning
of the long driveway leading to the house. The dogs would start barking wildly until Dad
let Kirby out. Kirby, the white American Eskimo, would do 360's in front of my Dad's
SUV until he started to move forward. Then she would go in a full-sprint to the house
as if she was leading my Dad home.

I found a picture of my Dad with his dogs this morning and it brought back a lot of memories.
He treated those Dogs the same way he treated the rest of the family: like gold. Man, did
he love those dogs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


             Every day, thousands of tiny events happen and if you're not watching, if you're
            not careful, if you don't capture them and make them COUNT, you could miss it.
                                                                                                      -Toni Jordan Novelist-

    Sometimes life's greatest lessons are right in front of us, yet we fail to see them. We are
    often consumed by what we don't have instead of focusing on the great things we do. We
    keep looking back into the past so much, we become blind to all the great things that lie
    ahead of us.

    On Sunday, I got a great lesson, not to mention a great source of inspiration, because I
    was watching what was in front of me, rather than being consumed by the things that were
    behind me.

    I was in a road race on Sunday, and over the course of 18.6 miles a lot of things went
    through my mind and most of them were tagged with a question mark. Why they heck did
    I get up at 5:30 a.m. for all this pain and punishment? I hate to run, so why am I running
    so much? What's the point? What does it matter? Aren't I getting a little too old for this?

    All those questions when zooming through my head as I pounded the pavement on a perfect
    first day of fall with more than 200 other runners. I had been in the zone with my iPod
    blasting the best of Captain & Taneal and the Carpenters to try to muffle the pain
    that came with each and every stride. I couldn't hear the sound of footsteps coming up
    me from behind, so I was startled when a frailish-looking, gray-haired man passed me by
    on mile 15 of the run.

    I had seen this man running long before the race had even started, his oversized pale-yellow
    T-shirt was not enough to cover his elbows that seemed to be thrashing in the wind. I hate to
    run and damn if I'm going to run an inch more than I have to, especially, on a day
    when I'm running close to 20 miles. This guy ran as if every step was a painful one, his
    running form anything but perfect. He had a distinct look that one could not easily forget.

    I never could catch the man. He was right in front of me for nearly all of the last three miles
    of the race. I wondered what his story was, from what he did to how often he ran. He seemed
    to be laboring through every inch of the run, but didn't appear to be breaking a sweat. The
    man in the yellow shirt finished 25 seconds in front of me, and just like that, he disappeared.
    I wanted to congratulate him and hear his story, but like the phantom, the man vanished.

    I didn't stick around very long, either. I stuffed as many apples, oranges, and bottled waters
    into my pockets and I was off. I got my time and didn't need to see any other results. But I
    was extremely curious about the guy in the pale yellow shirt.

    Late Monday night, the results of the race were posted on-line and I quickly searched for
    the guy in the yellow shirt who finished just in front of me. BRUCE GOULART, 63,
    NEWTOWN, CT. A 63-year old man had dusted me. Blew by me at mile 15. But an average
    runner just doesn't do that, especially one in his 60's. I had to know more about him.

    I did a search of, which is a website that banks official results. I found
    Goulart's chart and I almost fell out of my chair after seeing what I saw. There is an icon
    on the chart that announces to the world how many races a person has done. It said, "See
    all 600 races." Here is the link. It's mind-boggling.

    600 races?!! Are you kidding me. Goulart is addicted to endurance events. He has done
    33 marathons, 41 half-marathon, and five Ironman events. During a stretch from 2008 to
    2011, he averaged 57 events a year, which is insane!

    Goulart, even at age 63, is doing something really tough, yet really loves. He is passionate,
    determined, and is proving that the road ahead is still pretty awesome. The journey truly is
    just as important as the destination. Like Diana Nyad said, you're never too old to do
    anything that you want.

    No matter how old you are, there is still a lot left to accomplish in  life. You might not
    look pretty doing it, but doing it is all that really matters.


Friday, September 20, 2013


Boyd Harden is an ex-Marine who was trained to fly high-powered helicopters. At
UNC, he was an All-American defenseman in lacrosse and while at New Canaan High
School, Harden earned All-State honors in hockey. I'm not sure if he even knew those
sports used a hard-rubber object to pass and score with because Harden was a heat-seeking
missile who would much rather destroy an opponent than celebrate a goal.

But in his household, Boyd takes a backseat in the sheer mental toughness department, to
his wife, Keri Chaisson, a graduate of New Canaan High School. Chaisson-Harden, 42, and
a mother of three, is an avid endurance triathlete. This past July, she completed the Lake
Placid Ironman for the third time in her brief career. For those scoring at home, the Ironman
consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike, followed by a 26.2 mile run. Yep, just a 140.6
mile journey that she usually completes in less than 13 hours.

I've attempted to interview her several times over the last few years, but she respectfully
declines. She is not interested in any attention, which in this "look at me, aren't I great, post everything to Facebook world", is certainly refreshing.

Me: "Keri, I want to do an article on you about your triathlons."
Keri: "No way."
Me: "Come on, it'll make for a great piece."
Keri: "Not in a million years."

I've known Keri, Boyd, and their families for quite some time and was really interested in
seeing what the Ironman experience for them was all about. I've done several half-Ironman
and have an idea about the preparation, pain, and punishment a triathlete endures over a long
period of time. But the Ironman is a beast on steroids and dwarfs the 70.3 mile event not just
in the distance of it, but the mind-numbing pain one has to endure, as well.

I traveled to Lake Placid in the final weekend of July to experience the event as a spectator
and watch Chaisson-Harden prepare and compete in the small, picturesque village that
somehow managed to host a gargantuan international event like the Olympics not once,
but twice.

On race day, Chaisson-Harden woke at 4 a.m. to fuel her body for the grueling day ahead
of her. Imagine knowing that you're going to be exercising for nearly 13 hours straight,
burning calories at a lightning quick rate and realizing you can't just go to the fridge or
stop off at a convenient store to load up on things to replenish your body? Taking care of
your body during the race is an event in itself.

Phase I of the Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim in beautiful Mirror Lake, which sits less than
a half-mile away from the Olympic hockey arena where the United States completed the
"Miracle on Ice" in the 1980. Open water swimming is not like swimming in the pool
at your health club. With the mass of humanity, it's like swimming in a blender with elbows,
feet, hands, heads, furiously trying to find open space to swim. Chaisson-Harden, who is
a strong and gifted swimmer, finished the course in just over one hour.

Next up, the 112-mile bike ride. Lake Placid is not Florida or Chicago, where the landscapes
are completely flat and easy to ride. This is the Adirondacks, meaning there are challenging,
steep inclines and rolling hills. Over the course of the ride, your lungs burn, your legs bark,
and your mind goes off into a million different places, with you questioning why the hell
you decided to do this event in the firs place.

This is the third time Chaisson-Harden has competed in the event, her fourth Ironman overall.
I can only imagine what goes through her mind when she does it again and again and again.
After I completed my half-Ironmans, I said there was no way in hell I'd ever even consider
doing a full Ironman. The pain is ridiculous in a 70.3 mile event, forget about doubling up
on it.

But for Chaisson-Harden, pain must certainly be her good friend by now. She seems to be
addicted to it. One has to be to put in all the hours of preparation for the event. It's not like
going to the health club to take a couple of spinning classes and a few swims in the pool.
There are days when you have to ride the bike for eight hours and go on long runs that last
as long as a Red Sox-Yankees baseball game. The training for an Ironman is mind-blowing
and body destroying.

Chaisson-Harden finished her bike ride in just over six and half hours, or about 90 minutes
longer than a tennis match between Novak Djokavic and Rafeal Nadal. At the end of the ride,
your legs are cramping, your mind is screaming at you, and you still have a 26.2 mile run
ahead of you. I'd like to see the Kenyan marathon runners do a 112-mile bike ride before
they crush everyone competing in New York and Boston. Now, that would be interesting.

I watched hundreds of runners pass me by twice on the two loop course. I saw the pain,
the blank looks, and focus on the faces of those driven to completing this challenging event.
I don't think it's about winning for most of them because five seconds into the race, they
have no shot at staying with the professionals who are an entirely different breed,
almost superhuman. This is about testing your will and inner drive. This is about not quitting
or giving in to the challenge.

Chaisson-Harden injured her back during the grueling final leg of the event. But she didn't
stop, complain, or pack it in because of it. It would've been easy to say, "I can't do it anymore"
and everybody would've understood. But that's not in her DNA. She battled through the
injury and just kept going, trying to find a way to finish off a 26.2 mile run. Good, Lord,
that sounds so painful as I type away on the computer.

I positioned myself near the finish of the event, located at the Olympic Oval, the same place
where Eric Heiden made history by winning five gold medals in speedskating. I didn't want
to intrude on Keri's moment with her family as she crossed the finish line, ending nearly
13 hours of pain and punishment. I stationed myself near the entrance to the Oval and a spot
just about 500 yards from the finish. On a drizzling and overcast day, near perfect conditions
for the athletes, Chaisson-Harden entered the Oval determined to finish strong in the event.
I yelled out to her and she took the time to give me a fist pump, although the look on her
face said, "Please, just let me finish the event."

Chaisson-Harden did just that, completing her hat trick of Ironmans in Lake Placid less than
1,000 yards from where Team USA complete its run to the Olympic gold medal in hockey.
There were no miracles in Lake Placid to Chaisson-Harden, after all, this was the third time
she had completed this event. It had become old hat to her. But to me, seeing her complete
the event with a bad back and never, never giving up, was pretty impressive.

Chaisson-Harden spent the next five hours in the medical tent hooked up to an IV. Five
hours! As long as that epic tennis match between Djokovic and Nadal.....Amazing.

Keri Chaisson-Harden is an Ironman four times over and that is a tremendous accomplishment.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013



Hello? Anybody home? I'm hearing nothing but crickets.

Amazing how the McMansion of Johnny Manziel haters has suddenly gone silent. Before
Saturday game against Alabama, they had such disdain for the Heisman Trophy-winning
quarterback because this 20-year old kid didn't have the moral fiber of the Pope, the politeness
of Tim Tebow,  intelligence of Mark Zuckerberg, and polish of George Clooney.

They called him a punk, thug, and a disrespectful, entitled brat. But after he torched Nick
Saban's defense for more than 550 yards of total offense, most are back to calling Manziel
what he truly is: the best player in college football---by far. There isn't a person who knows
a lick about football and sports that's not filled with venom, that wasn't in awe of what he did
against the Crimson Tide. Five touchdowns and 98 rushing against Alabama, are you kidding
me? The kid has some serious magic, and barring injury, he will win the Heisman Trophy
award again.

There will still be those who can't see Manziel through all their hate and continue to call him
a punk. But one thing is certain, to the people of Texas A & M, Johnny Football is their golden
goose. On Wednesday, the school announced it had raised $740 million for the fiscal year, a
whopping 70 percent over the previous year, and more than $400 million more than the
University of Texas raised.

I'm sure all the haterS will say that Manziel had nothing to do with it, when in reality, he
had everything to do with it. Without Manziel, Texas A & M is, well, Texas A & M, a school
that had absolutely no presence on the national landscape. Most people in the country don't
know a thing about it, much less know where the heck it is (College Station). Oh, sure, they
have the 12th man tradition and that kissing thing after touchdowns, but other than that, A & M
was irrelevant before Manziel came along and won the Heisman Trophy.

The football team is nationally ranked and are a ratings magnet thanks to Manziel, who is
a special player  you just can't keep your eyes off of. He's that good. He's an escape artist
along the lines of Houdini and is as electric as Michael Vick used to be.

Yeah, but....

I know, they say he has "character issues". Earlier this summer, I heard an alumnus say he
weren't sure if he wanted a guy like Manziel representing the school. I wonder if he somehow
got Manziel and Aaron Hernandez mixed up. I got a good laugh at that one as I was reading
the school raised $740 million, which is insane. I wonder if that same guy is feeling the same
way Manziel today, as he did a few months ago.

The athletic program generated more than $100 million in revenues in 2012, turning a
profit of $39 million. Oh, that's right, it must have been because of the leading scorer on
the field hockey team and had nothing to do with Manziel.

Haters will continue to hate on Manziel because that is what they do. I heard a guy say
that Manziel should be a better role model to kids because they see what he does. If you
are relying on a 20-year old kid to be a role model to your children, you have failed
miserably as a parent.

Johnny Manziel is what he is. An unbelievably gifted athlete who is a once-in-a-generation
college football player. He's far from perfect, but there has never been anyone like him.
Ever. As just a sophomore, he's the greatest player in the history of the school, and certainly
the most influential.

Manziel is not just Johnny Football to Texas A & M, he's there golden goose.

Monday, September 16, 2013


One of the most powerful brands in the world seeks person to
work 20 weeks per year outdoors. Travel to beautiful places around
the world and wear shorts to the office. Appear on television occasionally
and say, "great shot, boss" quite often. No degree required, seven figures possible.
          Without even knowing what the job was, most of us would say, "that sounds like the
          greatest job in the world. Where do I apply?!"
          Well, it might not be the greatest job in the world, but it certainly could be the best
          one in professional sports and Joe LaCava has it. The Newtown, CT. native is a caddie
          for a guy named Tiger who doubles as his golden goose.

          After Monday's eleventh place finish in the BWM Championship, Tiger Woods has made
          just over $8.4 million in prize money, meaning that LaCava has raked in about $840,000,
          give or take a few Benjamins. That would put LaCava 98th on the PGA Tour money
          list without swinging a club or tapping in a two-foot putt under pressure. On the
          PGA Tour, caddies usually get 10 percent of their bosses winnings, and as we
          know, Tiger wins a lot.

          If Tiger captures the final leg of the FedEx Championship, he'll earn a whopping $10
          million,which would mean another million for LaCava. All for carrying a bag
          around a meticulously groomed patch of real estate in some of the most beautiful places,
          not only in the country, but in the world. Man, that is a great job if you can get it.

         There is no real pressure on the caddie in his job, even if your boss demands perfection.
         You might have to clean his balls, count the clubs in his bag, and pick up a divot the
         size of Rhode Island during the round, but seriously, there is no heaving lifting. Give
         Tiger the right yarder and get the hell out of the way. Pump him up once in a while and
         don't air his dirty laundry, and you're golden.

         Oh, sure, there are some drawbacks. You don't get a 401K plan, insurance benefits, or
         take part in a company Christmas party. But if you make almost a million a year for
         working about 20 weeks out of it, you can't really complain and probably won't have
         any problem with those expenses.

         If you tell someone you caddie for a living, you probably get a lot of's: "Um, that's nice.
         I'm sure it's good to be outside all day." But if you tell somebody you caddie for Tiger
         Woods, the "Um, that's nice," quickly turns into "No friggin' way!"

         And let's face it, Tiger reads greens better than anyone on the planet. Have you ever
         seen him ask for a caddie's advice on a double-breaker from 30 feet out? Never. He's
         his own man on the course and he'll embarrass himself with a tantrum before he ever
         shows you up on the course.

         I caddied for the first time on the day I turned 13. I got to the course early hoping to
         get out early, but being the new guy, I was the last guy to get a loop. When my
         name was called, I had a screaming headache because I hadn't eaten anything since
         breakfast. The guy I caddied for was much worse than Charles Barkley. He must've
         shot 125 on a piping-hot summer day in the same town Tiger played the last round of
         the BMW Championship on Monday. I didn't caddie much after that.

         I don't know what I was thinking. With a little luck, I could've had the greatest job
         in sports.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


The best moment in college football didn't take place in College Station, Texas or Ann Arbor,
Michigan. It didn't happen in Tallahassee, Florida or Eugene, Oregon. There wasn't a play by
Johnny Manziel or Devin Garnder that produced a goose-bump, make-you-think moment like
the one that occurred in Piscataway, New Jersey on Saturday.

Yeah, I said Piscataway. Home of Rutgers, the school still rinsing itself off of the Mike Rice
scandal and the not-so-smart decisions that were made after it. Send in the clowns has been
the school's theme song since last spring.

But the state university of New Jersey made all the right moves on Saturday when they retired
number 52, the first one ever put away for good in the 144-year history of the program. In an
emotional ceremony, Eric LeGrand, saw his number unveiled at the stadium. LeGrand was
paralyzed from the neck down three years ago. There have been much better players than
LeGrand, a few of them like Ray Rice, are deserving of Rutgers immortality. But nobody
in the history of the program has ever had a better attitude than LeGrand. Ever.

His life was changed forever when he tried to make a tackle on a kick-off three years ago
against Army. One moment, he's a Division I college football player with a big future ahead
of him. The next moment, he's a paraplegic with virtually no chance of ever walking again.
Medical personnel would put that number at zero.

LeGrand doesn't care what anybody says. He, and probably he alone, believes he will
get out of his wheelchair and walk again. I've seldom seen a picture of LeGrand without
that mega-watt grin on his face. He is always happy. It's not an act for the cameras or the
fans around him. LeGrand is truly a happy man. One who laughs in the face of adversity,
while giving others like him real hope.

LeGrand is living his life the way he wants to live it now. He's a motivational speaker,
a football analyst on the radio, and the voice of the 1.5 million people in the United States
who are paralyzed in some way.

He won't quit. He knows he can't. LeGrand is not just a hero to people in wheelchairs,
but to those who often feel sorry for themselves. Hey, life can be hard. We all now that.
But how can anybody feel sorry for themselves when they see the attitude of a man who
has lost so much and keeps on pushing?

Eric LeGrand was the best player on the field on Saturday. It was his day, his moment, and
one that he deserved to have.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Boston is the greatest sports town in the country, but its fans can sometimes be the worst.
They overreact so badly, it's almost comical. Their knee-jerk reaction could send a football
through the uprights from 80 yards out. Want proof? All you have to do is listen to sports talk
radio in Boston or read all the threads about Tom Brady and his performance against
the New York Jets on Thursday night.

The Patriots quarterback pretty much came unglued as his receivers dropped passes, ran the
wrong routes, and looked at his wife Gisele the wrong way. OK, so the last one didn't happen,
but Brady looked like he was going to go all Mike Rice on his teammates and hurl footballs
at them from close range on the sideline.

In his 14-year career, Brady has dressed down his receivers for blown assignments and dropping
passes before, but nothing like we saw on Thursday night. There were eye-rolls, head shakes, gestures with his hands, and screams at the top of his lungs. His favorite cuddly security blanket,
Wes  Welker is gone. The Gronk is still recovering from injury, Aaron Hernandez is sitting in
prison with all his tattoos, and Danny "China Doll" Amendola is hurt for the 238th time in his
career. It's as if Brady knows that Reche Caldwell, David Terrell, and Bethel Johnson are not
walking through that door, and he's a little pissed.

Brady re-structured his contract to free up money to re-sign Wes Welker and a few other stud
receivers and this is what Belichick gives him? Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins? You'd
be rather pissed off, too. I almost thought Brady was going to bolt a GPS device to the helmet
of Dobson to give him an idea of where to go. If Dobson wasn't a second-round pick, which is
a miracle in itself, he'd be on the unemployment line today keeping Ochocinco company.

Patriots fans are blasting Brady for his pouting, ranting, and for showing up nearly everyone
outside of Robert Kraft. He was far from perfect, they say, overshooting Julian Edelman for
a sure touchdown pass.

Patriots fans: calm the heck down! Brady had a bad game all-around. His throwing, his
demeanor, all of his actions were un-Brady-like. It happens and yes, even to Mr. Wonderful,
Tom Brady. The Patriots have won a ridiculous 77 percent of its games with Brady as the
starting quarterback. He's driven to win, driven to be perfect. It's why the Patriots have won
10 or more games for 10 consecutive games which is incredible.

The Patriots are 2-0 with two division wins. They will be fine. Amendola and the Gronk will
be back soon and the offense will return to normal soon enough. If Brady could win while
throwing to Caldwell and a bunch of misfits seven years ago, he can surely win with this cast
of characters.

Relax, Boston, the Patriots are 2-0, not 0-2. You don't live in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars
have a guy named Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and that makes you already mathematically
eliminated. Things are going to be just fine, Boston. In your city, they usually are.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


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 need any 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 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

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 im not
only give 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 nine years ago.

Tillman, along with all the victims who perished on this day 16 years ago, as well as those
who lost their lives fighting for our country, should always been remembered. Not just on
9/11, but every single day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I was fat.

No, I wasn't Chris Christie fat. But when I went home for Christmas dinner, my mom jokingly
asked, "Who invited John Daly? Where is my son?", I knew I wasn't ready to do a photo shoot
for Speedo.

With that harsh dose of reality belting me in the face by my sweet mother, I made my New Year's resolutions, which included dropping 15 pounds. That lasted for about three days as I shattered the guidelines I put down in writing to accomplish that goal. No drinking? Busted. No pizza? Who's kidding who? Working out everyday? Pfffft!

I'll admit it. My one true talent in life is my ability to eat. If I put my mind and mouth to it,
I have little doubt that I could end Joey Chestnut's reign as the hot dog eating champion. I am
that good. If it's not nailed down or moving, I eat it. Giving that up, is not easy. Neither is
trying to get to the gym every day.

I hit rock bottom on February 10 after finishing off two large pizzas and a few pitchers of beer
with some friends. I looked in the mirror and what I saw staring back at me was not pretty.
Forget about a double-chin, my chin and neck had morphed into one. My love handles were
so pronounced that if they had bolted me to an auxillary boat on the Titanic, I would have
saved six additional lives.
I tipped the scales at 238, which is great for an NFL tight end, but not good for someone
nearing 50-years old with knees that barked at him every day. Losing weight at this age isn't
easy, either. Metabolism slows to a crawl and motivation comes and goes like men go in and
out of Madonna's bedroom.

I had no choice but to go all in.

Lent was just three days away and I decided to make a lot of sacrifices. To Catholics, Lent
is a period  of six weeks where the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of
luxuries as a form of penitence. Yeah, I had been bad and could use some  self-denial.
I never denied that I was a little  plump and needed to do something extreme. So, I denied
myself of everything bad like booze, bread, butter, baked goods, and anything from Baskin
Robbins for forty days.

There would be no short cuts like stomach-staples, lap-bands, nutri-slim, nutri-fast, or diets
named after cities or famous doctors. This would be done the old-fashioned way.

I  committed to a hard-core fitness program and was on my way. Those who've read my blog
in the past know that I've battled the bulge with different types of regimes. In 2012, it was
Gorilla training with some yoga mixed in for flexibility and spiritual cleansing. I got in
shape to do half-ironman triathlons, but I never lost as much weight as I had hope to.

This time around, I took up the Forest Gump distance program. I just kept running and
running, until I didn't feel like running no mo'.  Jen-aaaay would've loved that I signed up
for half-marathons in Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn, Lake Placid, Danbury, Fairfield and Vermont,
and completed them all. Lent ended with Easter and by May, I was down to 225lbs. I felt
much better and my knees stopped barking at me so much. I still had a ways to go to where
I wanted to be, though. When  you eat a plate of pasta at this age, you can add on five
pounds pretty quickly.

Unlike Forest, I haven't stopped running. I also cut out dairy from my diet and tried to stay
away from anything with sugar in it. I continued to deny myself of booze and all the bad stuff
I listed. What did I eat? Chicken, chicken, and more chicken. When I collected enough food
stamps, I sprang for a steak once in a while, but it's mostly been chicken and protein shakes.

JUNE 16 219 LBS
I broke the 220 barrier in mid-June and that was cause for celebration. I hadn't seen a 1 after
the first 2 in a long, long time. One chin down, one to go. No booze, bread, butter, and sweets
and a whole lot of running for four months got me down to 219. My next goal was 210 pounds,
which I hadn't been since I was hanging out with Kevin Costner and talking a little baseball in
1988. Yeah, it was that long ago.

September 1 was my target day for hitting the 210 mark. I did more of the same to try to
get there. Running, running, and more running, plus I mixed in long-distance bike rides and swimming. Sugars ands sweets didn't entice me at all. I began to wonder why the heck I
even ate donuts,  bagels, and Twinkies in the first place. They are pure poison.

On September 1, I did it. I tipped the scales at 209. That's down 29 pounds since February
10. I didn't even have a double-scoop of chocolate mint chip to celebrate. I'm happy, but I'm
not done. I'd like to get down to 205 by November 1. Everything is easier when you're lighter
Running doesn't hurt as much and since I no longer have to wear a sign that says. "extra wide
load" when I bike, going up hills isn't all that tough anymore.

My pants are actually loose, and I've found that woman between the ages of 85 and 100 have
begun to flock to a slimmer me.

Yes, being lighter sure has its benefits.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


OK, I get it. Athletes and cheating go together like Facebook and our addiction to social
media. Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, SpyGate, name a school on NCAA probation, Lance
Armstrong, A-Rod, NASCAR crews, etc. The list of cheaters in sports is longer than the
Great Wall of China. Heck, even the Chinese badminton team lost on purpose to try to get a
better seed in the London Olympic games.

Cheating has become so prevalent in sports that everyone has become a suspect, especially
when a great feat is accomplished.

Last Monday, 64-year old Diana Nyad, accomplished something truly special when she
became the first person to swim from Cuba to the Florida without a shark cage.

Now, there are skeptics who don't think Nyad's 103-mile swim is legit. Shocking.

A small group of marathon swimmers and their officials don't think a lot of things add
up in Nyad's swim. They are questioning why an independent observer wasn't on her boat
to document every aspect of her swim from her strokes per minute to the number of times
she ate and drink.

There are numbers geeks who have studied the GPS coordinates of Nyad's swim and don't
think everything is on the up and up. Some don't think Nyad followed the English Channel
swim protocol that says you can't wear a special suit, mask, touch the boat or get any kind
of assistance. I'm sure they think Nyad was probably linked to Anthony Bosch and the
Biogenesis Clinic in Miami, too.

My response? Stop, just stop it. Go home and get a life.

Here is a woman who swam 53 hours in flat-out scary waters and did it without a shark
cage and now people want to discredit. Nyad and Nyad alone did the swim. If they are
so obsessed with Nyad's "honesty" then they should get in the water and see if they can
do it. I'll get in my dingy and be their guide. I'll count all your strokes, rub sunscreen on
your face, and even feed you.

Nyad's swim wasn't so much about being "the first", but about the journey. It was about
failing again and again and again and again, and coming back to try until she made it. She
didn't quit and persevered when the odds were stacked against her.

Does this marathon swimming group think that Nyad is the Rosie Ruiz of open water
swimming? Rosie was the runner who hopped on the T in Boston on her way to winning
the Boston Marathon in 1980. Do they think Nyad boarded a nuclear submarine under the
cover of darkness to take her closer to her destination? Do they think that Nyad put fins
on when she wasn't supposed to? Good, Lord.

She swam more than 100 miles! What the heck were you doing during that time? How
come that marathon swimming group didn't beat Nyad to being "the first" to do it without
a cage?

This is what many of the people in our country do. They weren't the first, so they try to
discredit the people who were. They are the armchairs quarterbacks who never played the
game, or weren't good enough to, but they somehow think they can do it better than
the people who are actually in the arena competing.

Fans watching a baseball game see there favorite player swing at a pitch out of the strike
zone and they yell, "What the hell are you swinging at? I wouldn't have swung at that."
Yeah, except that you weren't good enough to get in there against Justin Verlander who
is throwing 98-miles-an-hour with wicked breaking stuff. Yeah, it looks oh so easy on

Nyad did something truly incredible. I don't care if she hung on the side of a boat for
five minutes. Big whoop-de-do. I don't care if she had streamers guiding her at night. Did
that help her physically to finish the swim? Again, Nyad swam more than 100-miles in
the ocean with sharks and who knows what else.

Leave Nyad and her record alone. She got into the ocean, not you, and did what had
never been done before.  Go spend some more time swimming in the ocean than trying
to discredit someone who wanted it more than you did.

Friday, September 6, 2013



That's how I'd describe the new "Tillman Tunnel"  produced by Arizona State inside
Sun Devil Stadium, the place where Pat Tilman became a Pac-10 star. But it was Tillman's
commitment to his country, not his college that made him a hero, and paying the ultimate
price made Tillman a legend.

In a college sports world that has been dripping in scandal from Penn State to Rutgers to
the never-ending saga of Johnny Manziel, the tribute to Tillman is like the industrial cleaner
used to wipe away the grease and grime.

This is so right, so refreshing, and so perfectly done.

The administration at Arizona State made the ultimate tribute to a man who made the ultimate
sacrifice for his country. Tillman was killed by friendly fire during a mission in Afghanistan in
2004. The former undersized linebacker at Arizona State, became a star in the NFL as a safety
with the Arizona Cardinals. He turned his back on multi-million dollar contract that would have
set him up for life, to serve the United States after seeing what the terrorist attacks had done to the
soul of this country.

Tillman was a symbol of heart, courage, and character, which is something that's been sorely
missing in the sports world. He was a free spirit who did things his own way on his own time.

He was a true leader, one that did not crave attention or pound his chest in this "look at me,
aren't I great?" world. Tillman led by example.

Perhaps, that is why Arizona State thought it was appropriate that Tillman lead the Sun Devils
out of the tunnel and onto the field, forever. When the Sun Devils run out to meet their opponent,
they will run through Tillman, touching the image of a man, who was everything good about
college and professional sports, and everything right when it comes to character.

There are other great traditions in college football like the touching of Howard's Rock at
Clemson and the Notre Dame players tapping the sign, "Play Like A Champion Today". But
my new favorite one starts for me this weekend, when Arizona State runs through the new
"Tillman Tunnel" to take on Wisconsin.

Well done, Arizona State, well done.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I've never heard, read, or seen so many grown-ups, experts, and analysts criticize a
20-year old kid the way they have Johnny Manziel. It's borderline strange and seems to
be more personal than anything else.

After Saturday's game against Rice in which the Texas A & M quarterback was penalized
for unsportsmanlike conduct, several college football analysts got up on their pulpit and
said Manziel had no class, needs to grow up, be more of a leader, and respect the game.
ESPN even ushered out the immortal Mel Kiper, Jr. to tell us how Manziel's character might
effect  his draft status. Lou Holtz even criticized Johnny Football for wearing visor and a
towel around his neck on the sideline. Good, grief.

The critics have become more ridiculous than their criticism of Manziel.

I have a few questions. Why does Johnny Manziel have to be what others want him to be?
Who gives them the right to be judge and jury when it comes to determining how Johnny
Football should act? What right does Jesse Palmer, the former Bachelor who didn't live up
to all the hype at Florida, have in criticizing Manziel, who certainly has and then some?

Do people criticize Manziel because he just looks like a wise-ass or is it because he comes
from a family of great wealth? Are they jealous of him because he's had more fun in the last
six  months than most people have in their entire lives?

Why do the critics focus on the behavior of Manziel, while looking past the questionable
actions of others. Does it all depend on who they are?

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots gets in the face of Ray Lewis and he's considered
tough, a leader, and someone who doesn't back down.

Johnny Manziel talks a little smack to an opponent whose been chirping in his face all
game and he's considered a punk.

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers flexes his bicep after scoring a touchdown
and he's considered colorful, entertaining, and great for the game.

Johnny Manziel rubs his fingers together, which is the universal sign for money, and he's
immature, doesn't have any class, and disrespects the sport.

The world tweets pictures of themselves at parties and posts them incessantly on Facebook,
yet, when Johnny Manziel does it, he's out of control, narcissistic, and reckless.

Enough is enough. He's a 20-year old kid who has made some mistakes. So what? Were you
a finished product two decades out of the womb? Are you a picture of perfection now?

The criticism of Manziel has gone overboard and is overdone. It's tiresome and old. Beat
that dead horse until it turns into glue. Is that what the critics are trying to do?

Why is everybody so consumed by what he does? Why do people who don't even know
Manziel feel like they have to police him? Do they feel better when they undress him in
front of  the entire country?

The last time I checked, quarterbacks were judged on winning and their productivity, two
things Manziel has done better that just about everybody in college football. He's 11-2
as a starter and last year set an NCAA record with more 5,100 yards of total offense. And
suddenly, it's all about character now? Give me a break. His personality and character are
part of what makes Manziel great. Now, the critics want him to reel that in? Not going
to happen.

Is Manziel acting any differently than the "professionals" that we see on television? You
know, the ones ESPN glorifies by putting their celebrations and boastful acts on SportsCenter
every night. He's just doing what has become the norm in this "look at me, aren't I great"

Perhaps, the criticism should be directed at those professionals who are getting paid millions
to play the game instead of the 20-year old that is making millions for his school, NCAA,
and merchandise hawks everywhere. Perhaps, it should be focused on Kaepernick who
tweeted a picture of himself wearing a Dolphins hat, or Mark Sanchez who showed up on
YouTube dancing like a jack-ass with his ass in plain view for everyone to see.

Manziel is not a professional. He is not getting paid to play the game despite making
everyone else rich. A 20-year old kid doesn't deserve this avalanche of criticism, especially
when he's just living the life he wants to live, not the one somebody else wants him to

Judge not, lest thy be judged.