Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Eddie Ray Routh, the ex-Marine who slaughtered Chris Kyle at a shooting range
in 2013, was convicted Tuesday of murdering the man who gained fame as the
"American Sniper." It ends a painful period for the family of Kyle and a somewhat
of an embarrassing one for a part of our society.
Hopefully, Kyle can finally rest in peace now.
Kyle made four deployments to Iraq during his time as a Navy SEAL. He became
the most decorated sniper in U.S. history with 160 kills and wrote about his experience
in the best-selling book, "American Sniper." Few people criticized Kyle after the
book came out, but once the movie sky-rocketed at the box office and gained critical
acclaim, the haters and attention addicted snipers came out in full force.
Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore fired the first and loudest shot, saying he
considered snipers 'cowards' because his grandfather got picked off by one in a
Moore accomplished what he set out to do and that was gain attention and
become 'trending", at the expense of Kyle. He was well-aware that 'American Sniper'
was in the public's focus and putting Kyle in the crosshairs would bring him the
attention he craved even if it meant taking a hit himself.
Unfortunately, others ran with Moore's tag of Kyle as a coward and instead of
honoring a war veteran, people criticized him. Oh, no, nobody said a peep when
the book, "American Sniper", was published, but as soon as it was brought to life
in the theatres, people got on their soap boxes and became critics of Kyle and the
job he was assigned to do.
There were heated debates on Fox, CNN, and all the 24-hour news channels who
hoped to use Kyle and the manufactured 'controversy' to drive the ratings ups.
That's how it works in television. Yep, a dead man can't defend himself, but we'll
let the experts toss mud on his grave and invite the defenders to defend him. It
should make for great TV.
Sadly, we forget about the real important thing and that's the true legacy of Chris
Kyle. Unlike most of us, Kyle fought for our country. While we were living our
fantasy life back home, Kyle was in the brutal reality of war where limbs get
blown off and people die every single day. Even though most people back in
the United States forget about our troops battling in wars that have long since
really mattered to many, they continue to fight.
Kyle, like everyone else who fights for the United States was assigned to do a job.
He didn't ask to be a sniper. His superiors noticed he had a great shot and put him
in a role where they thought he could excel and help the team accomplish a mission.
They gave him assignments and he did his job, plain and simple.
People like Moore see how Kyle is depicted in a Hollywood movie, which makes
things more dramatic and powerful, and they think Kyle is just a blood-thirsty
psycho-manic, who gets a rise out of picking the enemy off when they aren't
So many people in our society think it's easy for these highly-trained soldiers to
pull the trigger and kill people. They think because these warriors put on a uniform,
they suddenly morph into cold and callous killers who are somehow supposed to
walk back into society and not be affected. There's a reason PTSD is such a problem
with veterans in this country. It's real and it's dangerous.
And people want to criticize Kyle and others?
Kyle, like anyone else who spends a minute, a month, or years in combat, should
be considered heroes. Yep, every single one of them, whether it's the veteran homeless
guy begging for money on the street or guys like Kyle who have been immortalized
They should be thanked, respected, and honored on more than just Veterans Day, too.
One day where everybody says thank you on Facebook and Twitter because it's
the cool thing to do, is not nearly enough.
Our government should take care of them instead of spending $150 million a year
on making sure the prisoners in Gintanimo Bay get three squares a day.
Chris Kyle will always be a hero to me. I don't care what he looked liked, talked
like, or how many people he killed. He did the job he was assigned to do for our
country and that's the only thing that matters.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Since transitioning from sports into news, I've had the opportunity to cover numerous
snowstorms in New England. When snow is in the forecast, one of the first things thatcomes out of the news director's mouth is, "Let's get Devlin out there at 4:30 a.m." I
embrace the elements with driving rain, sleet, and snow pelting my face like darts
going into a board. It's the next best thing to covering a Super Bowl.
When extreme weather breaks, the Weather Channel send its Tom Brady out to cover it.
Jim Cantore is the meteorologist by which everyone is measured against. When I grow up
I want to be just like him. After covering more than 20 storms, I thought it was time
to see just how I measure up with the Sultan of Storms. Here's a tongue-in-cheek look
at the tale of the tape.
First job out of college:
Cantore The Weather Channel
Devlin The Boston Red Sox
Devlin About 23
Cantore $1.2 million a year
Devlin Not enough.
Cantore Covering the weather
Most famous hit:
Cantore Kicking a heckler live on-air.
Devlin Belting a home run in "Bull Durham."
Cantore Being overly dramatic all the time.
Devlin Being overly dramatic when the time is right.
Cantore Building a snowman in Syracuse
Devlin Finishing the Ironman in Lake Placid
Gets excited when:
Cantore Boston gets hit with an epic snowstorm.
Devlin When he can report on the weather from inside the car.
Most used lines on the air:
Cantore Stay inside for this one, it's going to be epic.
Devlin Hey, those national guys are always wrong. Get out and do what you have to
do, the world is not ending. No need to buy every loaf of bread at the market.
Cantore Can do bicep curls in his sleep.
Devlin Can dance to any song, anytime, and anywhere.
Cantore Report live from the middle of a Tsunami.
Devlin Report live from San Diego every single day.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
In this social media driven and ESPN-overhyped world that we live in, the term "legend" is
thrown around far too often and much too easily. A coach wins a national championship and
the "is he one of the best ever?" conversation starts. Every talking head and analyst wants
to weigh in are quick to award "legendary" status without the person ever really earning it.
Dean Smith earned his status and was the definition of it.
The former UNC basketball coach died on Saturday at the age of 83, but his presence in
Chapel Hill and throughout the college basketball world will be felt forever. For those who
attended UNC in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's, Smith is, was, and always will be the face
of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Yes, he was that influential, powerful, and most of all, respected. Smith was a pillar of
strength, class, character, and integrity and he made all of us proud to be Tar Heels. John
Swofford may have been the athletic director at the time, but it was Smith who ran the
show, nearly every single part of it.
The basketball teams coached by Smith were an extension of himself, playing with class,
dignity and respect. There was no chest-bumping, baggy shorts, jersey's untucked, or players
saying, "Hey, ESPN, look at me, aren't I great?" When a player made a great pass, everyone
on the team pointed at him, giving him props in a very subtle way. They didn't yell, scream,
or panic under pressure, mirroring the man who was always so under control on the sidelines.
I'll never forget the picture of Michael Jordan, a freshman at the time, taking the
game-winning shot in the 1982 National Championship game. Smith and his coaching
staff sat on the bench, stoic and unemotional, as if it were a pre-season exhibition game,
instead of one that would decide a national title. That was Dean Smith.
During my freshman year, several baseball players had the privilege of being ushers
for home basketball games. We didn't really usher anybody because people never really
had trouble finding their seats. We just sat courtside and watched Smith and his team
do their thing.. It was truly, truly, a special time for all of us who had the opportunity
to watch Smith orchestrate and lead his talented team that included Jordan, Sam Perkins,
and Kenny Smith.
Our university, one of the most prestigious in the country, had a sterling reputation both
academically and athletically and that was due in large part to its unquestioned leader,
After he left in the 90's, the high standards he set for everyone at the university were
knocked down a notch. There were scandals, both academically and athletically, that's
stained the reputation of the school and there are some who feel Smith may have known
what was going on in the Af-Am "paper" classes scandal that went as far back as his
last few seasons on the sidelines.
I don't have all the facts so I'm not going to pull Smith into the net of the scandal. That's
for the experts to decide.
I do know that Dean Smith was loyal to his players and always had their best interests
at heart. Carolina wasn't a typical basketball factory that brought in great players
and just spit them out.
In today's college basketball world, just about every school makes "Midnight Madness" a
show of glitz and glamour. That never would've happened under Smith at UNC. He made
"Senior Night" the most special night of the year. Every senior, whether they played a minute
during the season or not, started the game.
It was Smith's way of saying 'thank you' for all their hard work and perseverance. Smith
often helped them find jobs in the real world and always made them feel part of the program
after they left.
I don't care how many wins or national titles Smith won or didn't win. It's irrelevant.
He built a model program and did it the right way. And when the school constructed a
a new basketball arena, they put his name on it while he was still coaching.
That is respect.
We cherished and respected Dean Smith when he was alive, today, we honor and
thank him for all he did for the Tar Heels.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Every once in a while an athlete comes along who captures our imagination and
inspires people to do great things. They overcome tremendous odds, reminding us
that anything is truly possible.
Mo'ne Davis did that during the Little League World Series, showing us that girls
could not only play with the boys in baseball, but dominate them. She opened the door
for a nation of girls who once thought it couldn't and made them believe that, yes, it
most definitely can.
Michael Oher did that as well. The subject of the book and movie, The Blind Side, Oher
not only played big-time college football, but become a star in the NFL against all
As a teenager in Mississippi, he was poor, homeless, and uneducated, but with
the help of his adopted family and a belief in himself, Oher lived his dream of
playing professional football.
Malcolm Butler is today's inspiration. As a player who went to a small-time college
in Livingston, Alabama, Butler didn't have much growing up and put on the pads
realizing that no player from the University of West Alabama had ever made it to
the NFL. They don't even give out scholarships at Division II schools and if Butler
got a new pair of cleats to last him his entire career, he'd be considered really lucky.
Last Sunday, Butler not only played in the Super Bowl, but won it for the New England
Patriots with a stunning interception at the goal-line with 20 seconds to go. It will go
down as one of the greatest plays in the history of the Super Bowl and one that's made
Butler a hero in New England forever.
The interception in the Super Bowl marked the first one ever by an undrafted rookie
free-agent in the sports biggest game. That's right, Butler had two great years at West
Alabama, but when you play the likes of Shorter, West Georgia, Stillman, Cumberland,
and Miles College, it's tough to get get noticed and have any NFL team take you seriously.
The Patriots did.
Chan Gailey, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills who was
out of the league at the time, coached Butler in an all-star game recommended Butler
to the Patriots because he thought they were the one team that would evaluate and give
an opportunity to a player no matter what level of college he played at.
The Patriots scouted Butler and signed him to a free-agent contract after the 2014 NFL
That was all Butler needed.
The rookie impressed coaches and teammates in training camp with his work ethic and
ball-hawking ability. Tom Brady said after the Super Bowl that Butler intercepted him
so many times, he wondered out loud who the heck he was and where he came from.
Butler was like a sponge with the coaches and veteran players, soaking up all their
knowledge and instruction. When his number was called in the biggest game of the
season, Butler was ready.
On his brilliant interception, he recognized the formation of the Seahawks from practice
and film study. Butler had an idea that they were going to try to use a rub or a pick play
to free the receiver and get him into the end zone.
Butler timed it perfectly and seized the biggest opportunity of his life. The pass by
Russell Wilson was right on target, but Butler made a play that's defined his 23-year
old life. He beat the receiver to the ball simply because he wanted it more.
Butler was hungrier for it and made an interception that no one in Seattle or New England
will ever forget. It saved the game for the Patriots and ensured their legacy as one of
the best franchises in NFL history. It also brought Bill Belichick and Brady their elusive
and defining fourth Super Bowl victory.
Malcolm Butler, a player who got kicked off his junior college team as a freshman
and spent time working in a Popeyes Chicken restaurant, was now a real somebody.
He went to Disneyland, a place where fairy tales comes true, for being one of the
stars of the game. Brady wants to give Butler the truck he won as the game's MVP.
None of us thought an undrafted rookie free-agent could ever make this possible,
but Butler sure did. He is proof that no matter where you come from or how small
the school is you play for, it's OK to dream big. It's OK to believe in yourself when
nobody else really does.
Nobody really cared about Butler during the draft, but when it was over, the Patriots
made sure Butler knew they cared about him and boy, did it work out for everybody.
Adidas might want to line Butler up and re-make those "Impossible is nothing" commercials
because he is living proof that it most definitely is.