Saturday, May 7, 2011



Whether prepared or not, we sometimes get into situations or circumstances that not only test us,
but in many ways, define who we are. It may be God's way of challenging our  faith, commitment, and resiliency. Whatever the reason, no one goes through life on the  good ship lollipop, void of trials, tribulations, and tragedy.

My mother, Charlene Devlin, had her character set in stone a long time ago, and those who know
her, know what I'm talking about. The only child of blue-collar parents from the south side of Chicago, she is an unselfish and generous woman, who has never been in a bad mood or said a bad thing about anyone in her life. Ok, so she had some harsh  words about my ex-girlfriend, but they were more than well-deserved.

Mom was the one who woke up at 4:30 every morning to make my sister breakfast and drive her to swim practice before school. She did the same after school, taking Kara, who turned into a world-class swimmer, for more mind-numbing workouts, encouraging  her only daughter to just do her best, that's all.

Mom was the one who would go to my brother's head-banging, blow-your-eardrums out, rock
band performances with a smile on her face, not quite understanding the words my brother, Pat,
was screaming into a microphone or knowing if the music he was playing, was any good. She
was the one who always had my baseball uniform cleaned, and offered  words of encouragement when I was struggling, which was quite often in my college and minor-league years. Nobody did more and asked for less than good ole, Mom. She lived by the phrase, "It's better to give, than
it is to receive."

However, Mom was really put to the test in 2003, when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The mental deterioration of Dad, who was smart, funny, and witty, was shocking and devastating to all of us. He was our hero. To know that he had no chance against a disease that
would eventually steal his mind, was heart-wrenching and deflating. But Mom became the beacon who guided us through the storm. She became the captain who righted the ship when it appeared it was about to capsize.

My Dad had treated my mother like a queen, cherishing her every day, taking care of  everything: The  money, the bills, and everything else that goes with being a great patriarch and provider.

When Dad could no longer handle his every day tasks, Mom was thrust into the role of both
mother and father. All of a sudden, it was her that was paying all the bills, taking care of the taxes, and managing everything else that came her way. And boy, a lot came her way. There was an explosion in the furnace that caused the dispersion of soot that infiltrated every piece of furniture
and clothing in the house. She took care of everything with no complaints.

Every piece of clothing had to be sent out to get cleaned, every wall had to be repainted,  and
every piece of furniture had to be cleansed refreshed. Then it started to pour. Cats and dogs, and
in huge buckets.

While I was working in Boston, I received a call from a neighbor saying that my Mom had a
bad accident. She had fallen down the stairs outside and suffered a 6-inch gash to the forehead
and a cracked sternum. A neighbor went into my parents and tracked down my number.

I made the three-hour trek home from Boston to find my Mom  resting on the couch, big
bandage on her forehead, and still wearing a blood-soaked t-shirt. But she was more concerned
about my father's welfare than her own. She diligently gave him his medication fed him dinner,
and showered him before he went to bed. I was in awe. Here was a woman who suffered serious
injuries and all she cared about was making sure our father was OK.

She also made sure that Dad lived his normal life as his mental health started to go in a steep
decline. Mom wanted  to make sure that Dad kept doing the things he loved to do. She'd shower
and clothe him, take him to church every day, bring him to the driving range to hit balls that
never went very far, drove him to the club to work out, then back home for dinner.

This was her routine EVERY DAY, weather permitting, of course For five years, Mom took
care of Dad  24/7. She had her moments when it looked like she would come unglued, but never
did. She had her days when it appeared like she wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, but
she refused to let that happen. Dad had given her a wonderful life, and she wanted to be there for
him "in sickness and in health".

Dad died on May 17th of 2008. Mom was so strong, so loving, and  so dedicated to him and the entire family. I always appreciated my mother for what she had done for all of us, but she went to
a whole new level in all of our books for the way she took care of Dad through the tough times.

Mom never complained and after Dad was gone, she put even more of her energy into her kids
and grandchildren. She has always been there for my sister and brother when they want to take
their spouses out for a night or go on vacation. Mom is always there to help out in  a pinch and
at a moment's notice. Pick up the grand kids, take them here, there, and everywhere across four counties in Connecticut. Mom has always been there for me through the tough times when my
world seemed to be falling apart. She has always been there for everyone of us.

She has never asked, "what about me?",  even though she should. She has never asked for
anything but our unconditional love. That's it, that's all. Charlene Devlin is one amazing person.

I have to admit, this time of year is always tough for me. I mean, what do you get for a mother
who has everything, never wants anything, and anything you give her will never equal to what
she has given you.

Mom, all I can say is, "I love you." You are one amazing person and all of the Devlin's are
thankful that God blessed us with such a great mother.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Sports videographers. They are like offensive lineman, the guys who
do all the dirty work, but rarely get any glory. They're as dependable
as the mailman who delivers through rain, sleet, and snow. Unfortunately,
they too, are like umpires in baseball, whom you notice only when
they mess up. That comes when they forget to white balance and the
video comes out blue, or  miss a key shot that every other station
has in town but theirs.

But there is a trio of sports videographers at NESN, who bring their
"A" game every night to cover every game in Boston, the best sports
city in the country. Patrick Gamere, John Martin, and Chris Del
Dotto are the glue that holds that network together. They are overworked,
underpaid, and never get the appreciation they deserve.

But these guys, NEVER complain. Oh sure, Martin used to yipe when
I put one bag of sugar in his Hazelnut coffee, instead of two. Del Dotto
would cry like a baby when there wasn't enough Jack to go along with
his Ginger. And Gamere would bum out when Rajon Rondo turned
the ball over in traffic at a key point during a game. Other than that,
these guys are pure gold.

They are stud photogs who always put the team ahead of themselves.
They'd fit in perfectly with Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Hard-working,
versatile, and soldiers who never say "I" before "We".

If you're on Facebook, check out Patrick Gamere and see his gallery
of photos from work. You'll see what I'm talking about. There is a picture
of Gamere in the middle of a Celtics celebration, a champagne shower
drenching him, but he remains steady, with a laser-like focus washed
over his face, a 30-pound camera hoisted over his head. He was
trying to get that one "money" shot that all of New England would see,
but would never know that Gamere shot it.

That's part of their job. They toil in relative obscurity, while bringing
the network to life with great moving pictures. They jockey for position
in locker room scrums that are as crowded as a NYC subway train at
rush hour. They have to deal with elbows, microphones, and overzealous
reporters, who'd run over their mother if it meant getting closer to
an athlete.

If you're at a football game, check out the sidelines. Those guys in
a full-sprint trying to stay ahead of the play? Yep, the sports photogs.
Try running with a 30lb weight on your shoulder in a driving rainstorm.
It's not easy. That's what these guys do every day.

These ironmen work weekends, holidays, and pretty much whenever
the station orders them to cover an event. There is long-stretches away
from their families, but you'll never hear them complain.

They'll never gripe about being overlooked or not getting so much
as a "nice job" from management. That's because they are a tight-knit,
all guts, but no glory group like the Navy SEALS, who do their assignment
and don't parade around looking for attention. THEY know when they
capture a great shot. They know when their instinct puts them into
position to get a shot that no other photographer could get. They know
that nobody at the station works as hard as them.

Oh yeah, and they're the ones who have to deal with prima donna reporters,
who demand that they shoot their stand-ups perfectly and get the lighting
on their face just right. They have to put on their Dr. Phil hats to
soothe temperamental talent who keep flubbing  the lines during
the close of their reports. They have to channel their inner Anthony
Robbins to help "talent" from becoming emotional wrecks.

These photogs do it all, but never get the credit they deserve.
Patrick Gamere, John Martin, and Chris Del Dotto are among the
best in the business. Nobody works hard or is more committed than
the "Big 3" of NESN.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


10. BROCK LESNAR Ultimate Fighter. Long before he became
      a heavyweight champion in the UFC, Lesnar was a gifted
      wrestler who won the 2000 NCAA individual championship.
      He also attempted to make the Minnesota Vikings as a free-agent.
      Lesnar is 6'3 and 280lbs with about 8% body fat. He is one mean
      dude, who would have no problem parachuting in behind
      enemy lines.

  9. SERENA WILLIAMS Tennis player. The only female to
      make the team, Williams is a freight train in tennis shoes.
      Big, strong, fast, and brutally tough. In the U.S Open two
      years ago, Williams threatened to tear the head off a linesman
      and shove the ball down her neck. She was raised in Compton,
      Ca, so you know she can handle herself.

  8. DANNY WOODHEAD Football player, New England Patriots.
      The Patriots all-purpose man is 5-foot nothing, and 170lbs soaking
      wet. He's pound-for-pound, inch-for-inch, the toughest player in
      the NFL. Quick, agile, and mobile, Woody would excel in ground
      combat and squeezing through tight spaces.

  7. CAM NEWTON Football player, Carolina Panthers. The youngest
      member of this team, Newton has the body of a hummer and
      runs like a Ferrari. He's 6'5", and 250lbs of twisted steel and can
      cover 40 years in 4.5 seconds. Newton is used to covert operations.
      He played at some junior college you've never heard of before going to
      Auburn. Newton has the guts of a burglar, stealing a laptop while
      a freshman at Florida. Plus, the kid laughs off pressure.
      Despite being caught in the cross-hairs of a pay-for-play scandal
      at Mississippi State and being the most scrutinized player in recent
      college history, Newton won the Heisman Trophy and led the Tigers
      to the national championship.

   6. DUNCAN KEITH Hockey player, Chicago Black Hawks. No team
       is complete without a hockey player. Tough, fast, and physical, Keith
       became a legend when he took a puck in the mouth in Game 4 of
       the 2010 Western Conference finals. Keith hardly flinched after losing
       seven teeth. That's right SEVEN TEETH! Think about that for a second.
       The guy was spitting chicklets and he returns minutes later like nothing
       ever happened. Keith won the 2010 Norris Trophy as the leagues
       outstanding defenseman. Would excel at hand-to-hand combat.

   5.  NICK SCHUYLER Lone survivor after the boat he was in capsized
        75 miles off the coast of Florida in March of 2009. Schuyler, a former
        football player at the University of South Florida, spent 43 hours in
        frigid waters before being rescued. Three other men, including two
        NFL players drowned and were never found.

    4. DEAN KARNAZES You probably haven't heard of Karnazes, but he's
        the fittest man in America. He an ultra-marathon runner who once did
        50 marathons in 50 consecutive days! That's 1,310 miles. Talk about
        will and mental toughness. In 2004, Karnazes won the Badwater
        Ultra-marathon, which is a 135-mile race through Death Valley in July
        Temperatures surpassed the 120 degree mark. Karnazes has run more
        than 100,000 miles since his 30th birthday. This dude is sick!

    3. MICHAEL VICK Football player, Philadelphia Eagles. He's elusive,
        tough, and lightning quick. You can't catch what you can't see, and the
        enemy would have a hard time capturing Vick. Vick is mentally tough
        after spending nearly two years in prison and the man can take a hit.
        He'd rather be hit by a heat-seeking missile like Troy Palomalu than
        slide like Mark Sanchez. I know what you're saying, "the guy is a dirt
        bag for what he did to all those dogs", but he's paid his price and he'd
        make a great SEAL.

   2.   ARON RALSTON Mountain climber and subject of the movie,
        "127 Hours". Ralston went hiking in Blue John Canyon and got his
        arm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Ralston was stranded for
        five days and survived by rationing his food supply and drinking
        his own urine. You read that right. He drank his own urine to survive.
        Anybody who does that can be a Navy SEAL, no problem.
        Ralston also survived an avalanche in his hiking career and became
        the first person to climb all 53 of Colorado's mountains of over
        14,000 feet, solo in the dead of winter. Hello!

    1. DICK HOYT Triathlete. Hoyt,71, didn't start running until he was
        37 and has completed 86 marathons, 28 of which where of the
        Boston variety. He's also done 240 triathlons, including 7 that
        were Ironman distance. Oh yeah, he's done 1042 events, all with
        his son, who has cerebral palsy. Hoyt rides a bike with his son
        in a special seat in front of the bike. When Hoyt gets into the water,
        he puts his son in a boat and pulls him. Then pushes his wheelchair
        during the run. Team Hoyt has crossed the country, completing the
        3,300 mile trek in 45 days. Hoyt is man of mental toughness and
        incredible will, who has a giant heart.


        COMMANDER OF SPECIAL OPS. Who needs Sergeant Hulka
        when you can have Bill Belichick? This disciplined, cold-blooded
        football coach, would make a great leader of this Navy SEAL team.
        He shows no emotion, is detail-oriented, and doesn't play favorites.
        Belichick is a great tactician who can make adjustments on the fly.
        If a man goes down, his response would be, "It is what it is. The next
        guy has to step up."


Who is the best team of all-time? The 1927 New York Yankees? No.
The 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins? Doubt it. How about the 1980
USA Olympic hockey team that produced a spine-tingling, goose-bump
filled miracle on ice? Close, but not quite. All those teams earned
the right to be mentioned among the best ever assembled, but only one
can be called the greatest.

Navy Seal team 6 staked their claim as the best team of all-time after
their daring mission in Pakistan on Sunday night. Through the cover of
only darkness, this squad had one of the toughest assignments in the
history of our country. Their task: capture or kill the number one
terrorist in the world.

Before we get to their defining moment, let's rewind the tape and
see what defines Navy Seal team 6. They became an expansion team
back in 1980 after the debacle in Iran that saw a rescue mission end
in tragedy and embarrassment as the United States tried to rescue
the hostages taken by Ayatollah Khomeini, another despicable leader.

Navy Seal team 6 became the elite of the elite. They are so secretive,
the government doesn't even admit they exist. They are "black operatives",
who work outside of international law and do not have any records
on the premise that if they are ever captured or killed, the government
will not claim them.

They are the best trained and conditioned people in the world. Navy
Seal team 6 can do an Ironman for breakfast, an Ultra-marathon
for lunch, and conduct an underwater demolition for dinner in 58
degree water with nothing but shorts on. Pressure? They are addicted
to it like most of us crave Facebook. Stress? Navy Seal team 6 laughs
in the face of it.

This all-guts and no glory squad consists of people who were high
school, college, and even Olympic stars. But you'll never hear about
their accomplishments or see their names in the sports section of
USA Today, because they don't really exist.

But they existed on Sunday night, didn't they? Their mission to hunt
down Osama bin Laden went so smoothly that we forget how it could
easily have gone wrong. Just look back at the rescue mission in Iran in 1980
when eight members of the military were killed when two helicopters
collided. Iran paraded the disaster for the entire world to see. I'll never
forget the gruesome image of a charred soldier on the cover of Newsweek.
It was a dark moment for our country and then President Jimmy Carter,
a fiasco that defined his legacy as the commander-in-chief of the United States.

The covert operation in Pakistan could have gone the same way. Navy
Seal team 6 didn't really know what they were getting into. Oh, the
intelligence told them bin Laden might be in the compound, but then
again, that great intelligence team told us that Saddam Hussein and
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. How'd that turn out?

This could have been one big booby trap. One that could've embarrassed
our country and doomed President Obama. That compound could
have been rigged with explosives that could've turned bin Laden's house
into a tomb for Navy Seal team 6.

But thanks to 24 brave members of Navy Seal team 6, it didn't. After
a long helicopter flight, they were dropped down into bin Laden's
compound. They were on closing in on the biggest prize in the world,
or so they thought. Team 6 didn't really know if bin Laden was actually
even there, they were just following orders. The mission proceeded
and the Team 6 engaged in a fire fight that saw them eliminate everyone
standing in their way.

When they arrived to the top-floor of the compound, it was bingo,
bin Laden was in their sights. With a double-tap, they took him out,
eventually setting off the biggest celebration in the United States
since Team USA upset the Soviet Union in hockey during the 1980
Olympics. bin Laden was dead. Justice was served.

There will be no ticker-tape parade for Navy Seal team 6. They won't
be riding down the canyon of heroes in New York City. They will
return to their headquarters and train for their next daring mission
in anonymity. But Navy Seal team 6 has been burned in our consciousness

The next time ESPN counts downs to the greatest teams of all-time,
they better  be sure to include Navy Seal team 6. When USA Today
releases their "team of the decade",   Navy Seal team 6 should be at
the top of the list. And when we think of the most spectacular squad
to grace this earth, Navy Seal 6 should always be on the tip of our
tongues, and shouted out with great pride and enthusiasm.

Monday, May 2, 2011


On early Sunday evening, I was watching a feature about a wounded
warrior on "Dateline NBC" that brought tears to my eyes. A 21-year
old man who had fought in Afghanistan was trying to adjust to life
without two legs and brain damage after an roadside bomb tore through
his military vehicle.

He made close to the ultimate sacrifice as many serviceman and
woman have over the last ten years and I thought to myself, "It's
really sad that so many Americans have forgotten about the real
heroes overseas, fighting a war that many of us were thinking would
never end." Teenagers would be coming home in boxes with American
flags draped over them, and the only people who felt the impact
of their sacrifice would be the immediate families who've had the
lives forever changed. It was sad, real sad.

A a few hours later, sorrow turned to joy when news broke that
we had gotten Bin Laden. The war may not be over, but we have reason
to celebrate with Osama Bin Laden's death. Celebrations broke out
all over the country to mark the occasion. Just as everyone knows
exactly where they were on 9/11, all of us will remember just where we
were on 5/1, when news broke out that the number one terrorist
in the world was served justice.

As we celebrate one of the greatest moments in our country's
history, let's take time to remember the men and woman of our
armed forces who made tremendous sacrifices to protect our
freedom and eliminate the most despicable human being to
walk this earth since Hitler. They left their families and went
to a foreign country to fight a war that many of us didn't really
believe in. They had to deal with roadside bombs, suicide missions,
and ominous threats EVERY SECOND of their lives. Imagine
not only the fear, but the stress they had to endure. Thousands of
them cannot celebrate the scintillating moment of Bin Laden's
death, as they were killed defending our country and freedom.

Let us not forget Pat Tillman, who gave up an NFL career and
the riches that come with it. He said good-bye to the Arizona
Cardinals, his family, and his wife, whom he had just married,
because he wanted to fight for his country. Tillman wanted to get
Bin Laden. He wanted to get justice for the more than 3,000
people who perished in the Twin Towers. Tillman had a chance
to get out of his military commitment after making one tour
in Afghanistan, but he declined it, waving off the "special treatment"
for the NFL star.

Tillman wouldn't make it back to the United States or the NFL.
He was killed by friendly fire during a mission in Afghanistan.
It sucked the wind out of many in the sports world who had
known Tillman and covered him. Tillman's family will never recover,
no matter how much time passes. But they can take solace, like
all of the families who lost loved ones fighting the war, knowing
that the sacrifice their sons and daughters made, were not in vain.

This is a day that brings tremendous joy to everyone in the United
States. It's a moment that will unify the country once again, and give
us hope that things will get better. There will be high-fives, celebratory
messages flooding Facebook, Twitter, and IPhones, IPads, and
everything in between. But as we celebrate, let's all too, remember
those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who helped make this all