Goodell focused on helping players during and after their careers
EMIGRANT, Mont. -- Now there's a dateline I never thought I'd use:
One of those discussions was with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. And on Friday morning just after 6, we sat on the porch of the main house to discuss the news of the day.
The NFL's a cauldron of news. I could have asked him about 25 other things. Hope you got a few things out of his words.
A source with knowledge of the roster of the more than 2,100 players who have joined the various lawsuits against the NFL for ignoring and/or minimizing the results of head trauma in the pro game says some of the players in the suit will have zero or very little evidence of long-term damage.
I sought one of them out -- Rich Miano, 49, who played 11 years in the NFL, with the Jets, Eagles and Falcons -- and asked why he got involved.
Miano is hardly your typical plaintiff. He doesn't hate the NFL; he's thankful for what professional football did for him. He loves football. He says he doesn't want money. What he wants, other than to raise the focus on the importance of educating players about the risks of head injuries, is the ability to be covered by insurance if the day comes that he begins to suffer from dementia or a similar malady.
"This isn't about a money grab,'' Miano said from his home in Hawaii on Saturday. "It's an education grab. Colt McCoy gets [concussed] last year in a game and goes right back in. Two high school players here in Hawaii got put back in a game after concussions. There needs to be a huge outreach across all levels of football to educate people about the dangers of head trauma and football. Whatever happens -- win, lose or draw -- this is going to be good for every generation, past and future, because it will continue to educate people.''
One of the things Miano hopes, he said, for the next generation of athletes, and their families, is to believe football is safe enough to play. "I really want the soccer moms of America to feel better about football,'' he said.
Miano will be 50 in September. His former Eagles teammate, Andre Waters, would be 50 had he not killed himself. Another safety of their era, Dave Duerson, would be 51 today had he not killed himself. "It's bone-chilling to think about,'' said Miano. "Why am I so fortunate to be in the shape I am today when I played the same position as Andre and Dave? I made 700 tackles in 11 seasons and I seem to have withstood the punishment at least neurologically so much better.''
Miano said if he "takes a turn for worse'' mentally, "at 50 or 52 or whenever, I'd like to be able to be medically monitored.'' Still, the prospect of someone joining in a lawsuit who is asymptomatic to the base purpose of all the lawsuits will prick the NFL's interest, and could give the league a litigation strategy. How many more Mianos are there, and why do you sue an entity you're thankful to have been a part of?
"I go to bed every night knowing I'm in this for the right reasons.'' Miano said.
Last week, I said Revis, due to make an average of $6.75 million in the last two years of his contract, would be justified in thinking he should be rewarded for being the best cornerback in football over the last two years of that contract. It's indisputable that he is the best corner in the game. But I doubt the Jets will entertain re-doing his deal for a few reasons.
1. Revis, out of college, signed a six-year contract. This will be his sixth year in the league. The Jets re-did his contract after three years. To address it again after five, with two years on the re-do of the original, would create a precedent GM Mike Tannenbaum probably wouldn't want to create, particularly with the cap remaining relatively flat in the next two years.
2. It's more likely the Jets could renegotiate Revis' deal next season, with a year left on the contract he signed in 2010. That would follow the lead of the Arizona Cardinals with Larry Fitzgerald. When the Cards reworked Fitzgerald's deal last season, it was with one year left on the reworked original contract.
3. It's not believed Tannenbaum ever told Revis or his representatives that he'd open up the contract again after two years.
It'd be surprising, I think, if Revis opened training camp with the Jets in late July. It'd also be surprising if the Jets didn't draw a pretty hard line in 2012.
Some of you like this section, which has begun to take over one of my 48 Monday columns each year, and some of you don't. For those who don't, skip the next 4,000 words or so. For those who do, I appreciate all the support you've given this idea over the years, and I hope you find a book here -- or anywhere, quite frankly -- to give the Dad who really wants a book. I can tell you one of the gifts of the last four or five weeks has been the gift of unplugging so I could read the books I've listed here.
The other day, in Montana, I toured a one-room schoolhouse (more about that later) and picked up a little tome called
Well, I always thought the happiness of man was the Red Sox winning the World Series. But reading's pretty good. I urge you to pick up one of these for the man who needs to get back to reading. Thanks for reading.
Once, when I was in Detroit in the early '90s, sent by
Imagine my surprise, then, when I cracked this book and read some of the most intimate details, conversations and eruptions a family of six can have as the noble wife and mother careens toward death. Chris Spielman, one of the most balls-out football players I have ever covered, but also one of the most private, delves into things like:
• Asking Stefanie: "How do you want your funeral?''
• How to tell ninth- and seventh-graders their mother is dying. The oldest child, Madison, wrote the foreward to the book. What a strong, eloquent girl she is.
• Drawing baths for Stefanie as the end neared, making sure the water was just the right temperature and her favorite lotions were there for her ... then lifting her in and out of the tub, drying her off after the bath.
• The painful dialogue with the younger children, telling them their mother wouldn't be around much longer, then letting it sink in, then giving little Audrey time to think. "What are you doing?'' Chris called out a few minutes later. Said Audrey: "Crying my eyes out.''
• Watching a tape Stefanie left the family, to be viewed only after her death. "She told each one [of the children] that she had prayed for their future spouse for a very long time,'' Spielman, with Hooley, writes.
• The last words he speaks to her body before he personally lifts her into the crematory and pushes the button ... for her to be cremated. "I didn't want her to be alone at that moment,'' Spielman writes.
It's a stunningly unvarnished look into the most painful time of a family's existence, and how the deeply religious couple copes. I had to call Spielman and ask, with a mixture of surprise and great admiration: "How could such a normally private person have done this?''
"It's funny,'' he told me Saturday. "But I've done some interviews about the book, and people will say to me, 'It must be so therapeutic for you to tell these stories and talk about this.' No. It's painful. But in order to make the story credible, you've got to tell it all. To have an impact, to really help people, you've got to put it all out there.''
For those of you too young to remember much about Spielman the player or character (I can't believe I'm writing those words; seems like Spielman was suiting up for the Lions five years ago), he was a blood-and-guts player the way Jack Youngblood or Dick Butkus was. Here's Spielman describing one of his old offseason habits as a player: "After getting in my running at Rochester (Mich.) High School, I'd put on a plastic suit, get in my truck, roll the windows up, and turn the heater on full blast. I'd drive around with my mouth full of chewing tobacco and see how long I could last without spitting. I'd just swallow the tobacco juice and fight the urge to puke. It tested me mentally to see how long I could go without throwing up. It helped me simulate playing through distractions and taught me to focus. I think I lasted an hour and 29 minutes one time.''
Well, all right then.
Through the book, Spielman's growth as a person is highlighted. He describes once, pre-breast cancer, how his wife and he had an argument and he says to her: "Why don't you put all your ideas on how I can be a better husband into a suggestion box, and I'll read them when I get time?'' He said he knew a lot of people felt that Neanderthal side defined him. But he became significantly more religious, mirroring Stefanie, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. He decides to take the year off from football to help with family things and to be there for his wife, and though he misses the game desperately, he never feels he's done the wrong thing. And from there, as you'll read, he and Stefanie are thrown into the cancer cauldron, with great hope followed by crushing disappointment. And then, of course, the ultimate disappointment.
"I took my wedding vows seriously,'' Spielman told me. "When I said, 'In sickness and in health,' I meant it.''
Spielman sounds different in the book, and in person, than he was as a player. "There are blessings in contentment,'' he said. "If I'd said that to you back when I was working out at Rochester High, preparing for a season with the Lions, I'd have expected you to punch me in the head. But we got such great blessings from Stefanie's life. When we were all sitting there, watching the tape she'd made for us to watch after she died, she spoke to each of the kids individually. So impressive. One of the things she said was, 'Never use my death as an excuse for anything.' That was important for the kids to hear.''
I think the book's terrific. I'm surprised it hasn't generated more positive press; you feel like you're in the battle with the Spielmans. I strongly recommend it, particularly to those going through the pain of a loved one fighting cancer. It has a very strong religious bent, which will be over the top for some readers. But the story itself is inspirational, and raw, and, I would think if I knew someone going through a bout with cancer, helpful. Praise, too, to Bruce Hooley, Spielman's friend, who knows how to tell a story and helps Spielman tell it exceedingly well.
I'm sure I'm not the first to say that, among Ford's novels, I liked
A small price to pay, though, for one of the best stories I've read in a while. Young Dell Parsons is growing up in Great Falls, Mont., the son of a slick and idiotic father and a timid and reclusive mother who, from the start, you can see never should have been married. The father gets into debt with some locals and comes up with the brilliant idea of robbing a bank -- and convinces the wife who hates him to drive the getaway car.
From the observations of this friendless boy Dell, the story is at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking. It feels so real. And Ford writes some of the best sentences I've ever read. How perfectly he describes his mother on the eve of the bank robbery: "Anyone might think a woman whose husband was possibly losing his mind (or at least part of it), and who was preparing to rob a bank, who'd led his family almost to ruin, who considered it a novel idea to involve his only son in the robbery, who was threatening jail and disaster and the dissolution of everything the two of them understood about life (and a woman who was already thinking of leaving the same man, anyway), you'd think this woman would be desperate for an opportunity to get away, or to involve the authorities to save herself and her children, or would find an iron resolve, would hold her ground, and would let nothing go forward and thereby preserve her family by the force of her will (my mother, as small and disaffected as she was, seemed to have a strong will, even if that turned out not to be true). But that isn't how our mother behaved.''
I tell you about the bank robbery not to be a spoiler, because Ford brings it up in the first paragraph of the book. But the sordid familial sex, the murders, the suicide, the cancer, the stark and incredibly unfortunate life turn in
A Ford book, to me, is like a U2 CD. I'm a huge fan of the writer and the group, and too much time passes between the releases of their gems. Do not take from my note about the slog above that
For many of us in the business, Frank Deford is the Holy Grail. He's simply one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. If he's the New York Yankees, I'm honored to be the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Just to play the same sport as Deford is something wonderful.
His memoir has a little bit of everything -- great stories about interviewing everyone from Richard Nixon (why, Nixon wondered, didn't
Deford played with the Harlem Globetrotters, introduced the world to Bill Bradley, really disliked Rodney Dangerfield, edited the only national sports daily in our history (
I love Deford's description of the modern media, told from his aging-sportswriter perspective:
"About all you share anymore with most of the players is their sport itself -- or listening to them talk about themselves. Soon, the coaches and managers are the ones of your vintage. As you grow older, in fact, you gravitate more toward doing stories about coaches -- not just because they're your new contemporaries, but because they've lived longer, more complicated lives. They're simply better stories. After all, most of them failed, in that they couldn't cut it as players. That's why they become coaches.
"Coaches are movies. Players are snapshots.
"So the one great irony of writing about sports is that the most important people in sports are young and unformed, and consequently, if through no fault of their own, less interesting ... Now, with television, everyone with a clicker is privy to seeing the same thing clear as day on HD as are the pros on the scene with media passes, so you have to eschew the games and write about the athletes as people.
"And that can be a trial. Too often, it's reminiscent of when someone asked Fred Zinnemann, the movie director, what a certain young actress was like, and he replied: 'What makes you think she's like anything?'
"Therefore, more and more we tend to celebrate the loudmouths -- the highest percentage, it seems, being wide receivers in football -- who first make themselves accessible, then voluble, and thereupon qualify as 'characters,' but who are, really, just so many obnoxious jerks.''
Deford's the best.
I mentioned how much I liked this book in Monday Morning Quarterback when I read it in January. I'm not a voracious reader of books, but I like them, and I like fiction that sucks you in and doesn't let you out. Thrillers do that. For me, John Grisham has always done that. But this book is the best piece of fiction I've read in years, and it's not political or some covert espionage job. It revolves around a phenom baseball player from South Dakota named Henry Skrimshander after he enrolls at the fictitious Westish College in Wisconsin. The book is 525 pages. I only wish it were 1,525.
What happens to a precocious baseball player and incredibly naïve college student, when his life in so many ways begins to spin out of control? And the lives of so many people around begin to spin in a wayward way as well? I won't spoil the drama of what happens in the book, only the part about the first of several things to go terribly wrong with Henry:
He is such a great shortstop that he's being scouted by the pros as a surefire first-round draft choice for the major leagues ... until he suffers from the kind of ballplayer sickness that plagued Rick Ankiel, Steve Blass, Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch. They couldn't throw the ball where they wanted to anymore.
If Harbach didn't play hundreds of games of baseball, I'd be surprised. The way he writes about Henry's trouble, it's like Harbach himself had it. As in this segment about one throw gone awry: "The distance called for a casual sidearm fling -- he'd done it ten thousand times. But now he paused, double-clutched. He'd thrown the last one too soft, better put a little mustard on it -- no, no, not too hard. Too hard would be bad too. He clutched again. Now the runner was closing in ... '' It's that kind of writing that makes you feel Henry's pain.
But the amazing thing is, as much of a baseball fan as I am, I thought the book got better when it veered away from the baseball scenes. The story about Henry's gay roommate, the Westish college president, his daughter escaping a bad marriage, the baseball team captain ... it all makes for a compelling read.
If the dad you have in mind is a huge sports fan, he'll like this book a lot. If he's a baseball fan, he'll love this book. If he's a fan of good writing and a great story, hand this to him and get out of the way, because once he starts he won't want to stop reading.
Cancer, obviously, is one of the great mysteries of life. There's something in this 470-page book -- part research tome, part history book, part emotionally patient-focused storytelling -- for anyone with any ties to cancer. I was interested, in part, because my two parents and both of my wife's parents died of it (my mother also had emphysema), and I've been mystified over the years about why, with all the money we pour into it, we can't finish it off.
The answer, Mukherjee writes, is because cancer is not one disease. It is many. He delves into the history and the technical side of the various forms of the disease -- and I won't lie, I skipped some of the chemical and scientific parts of the book, though he writes in prose understandable to Neanderthals like me. But the human stories make the book important, and the social stories.
Mukherjee devotes a significant section to how the tobacco companies kept America smoking, even as evidence began to surface that smoking was bad for you. In the mid-50s, when 45 percent of the adult population smoked, one ad for Camel cigarettes noted, "More doctors smoke Camels,'' certainly in part to help customers understand that if doctors smoked an unfiltered cigarette, how dangerous could it be? In the '50s, Mukhurjee writes, doctors line up for free cigarettes at the annual America Medical Association convention. And you wonder why it took so long for America to wise up about the dangers of smoking? Why would they get smart -- when the professionals paid to keep them healthy were smoking?
The book isn't a page-turner, or a lazy beach book. It's well-written, by a leader on the front line, and one of the best books I've ever encountered that explains a terribly complicated series of diseases so that they're understandable -- and so that we can understand how difficult it is to solve the cancer problem. Mukherjee writes how difficult the task is, but that it's not the impossible dream either.
Amazing how much football knowledge Brown, a lawyer and sportswriter (you may know him from his smart takes on football at, fittingly,
"Yet,'' he writes, "football is also great because, due to its complex arrangements of twenty-two roving players across a wide expanse of green grass -- coupled with repeated opportunities for synchronized action and planning -- it's a sport for those who think ... Football is the rare pastime that has the opportunity to stimulate our left and right brains equally.''
Brown, in one instance, explains why Vince Wilfork is such a valuable player for New England. He takes a snap from the AFC title game last season, late in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots made a pre-snap adjustment that resulted in Wilfork being one-on-one with an overmatched Matt Birk. At the snap, with no help, Birk was powerless to hold off Wilfork because Wilfork is stronger and got the leverage first. Wilfork forced Joe Flacco, who had planned to throw quickly, to throw much more quickly than he'd wanted, and the pass was incomplete.
So often, terms like one-gapping and two-gapping are thrown around in line play the way four-seamer and cutter are used in baseball. Fans hear them, but do they know them? In the Patriots' amoeba-like defense -- New England prides itself in being so multiple you can't get a read on what the D does half the time -- players like the strong and quick and massive Wilfork are important because they can both one-gap and two-gap.
One-gapping is easier, as Brown explains, because the defensive lineman is responsible for attacking and controlling one gap. Two-gapping is tougher because it requires a defender to take on an offensive lineman while minding the holes on either side of him. If the offensive lineman is pushing him in a certain direction on a running play, for instance, the defender has to think there's a reason for it and understand that he could be trying to open the gap for a running lane. So the defender has to fight that, while watching to see where the play's going. "It is the most violent, most complicated, and most beautiful ballet I can think of,'' Brown writes.
Often, many of you ask me for a good, educational football book to read. I've told you scores of times to read Tim Layden's
Smart, cool way of writing the story of Abbott, who was born without a right hand and went on to be a good major-league pitcher -- and inspiration to the physically challenged everywhere. Abbott and Brown weave the heroic Abbott's life story through and around the inning-by-inning reportage of his 1993 no-hitter against Cleveland. (What a lineup -- Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, among others.)
The best stuff isn't baseball. It's life. "The thing about a disability is, it's forever,'' Abbott writes. "And forever might not end, but it has to start somewhere.'' That was in Michigan for Abbott, born to Flint teens. "It was pity I didn't want and couldn't stand,'' he writes. "By fifth grade I was being carpooled across town to play flag football on muddy fields lined by parents. The murmuring about that kid, the one people stared at, usually would start in the parking lot. Those doing the whispering must not have thought so, or didn't care if I did, but I could always hear them. I could see them. They'd hold their conversations through our warmups, and then when I was the one playing quarterback, and then whenever the thought struck them ... In the years that followed, only the crowds changed. They got bigger and louder, but the reaction was always the same."
Abbott writes of the pain of being bullied for his disability, and, much later, of being a beacon for so many families of children with disabilities. In many ways, the stories of touching so many families reminds me of what we've seen over the last couple of years with Tim Tebow. Good, decent human beings convinced that part of their calling in life is the humanness as well as the sports.
"Imperfect'' is very well-written. I'm glad a story as good as Abbott's is showcased with such fine writing.
It's a fun and exhaustive journey through myriad theories, myths, fads and facts, an engaging story brought to life by his family -- his wife, three young sons, grandfather and eccentric, raw-foodist Aunt Marti from Berkeley, Calif., who Jacobs calls the "single most health-minded person in America." When he phones to tell her about his quest for great health, she berates him for calling on his cellphone, lecturing him about its dangers to the brain. Marti comes to visit to do a sweep of his apartment to detoxify it. Everything in the home is toxic, and she looks at his refrigerator likes it's a "Superfund site."
There's a chapter on the evils of sitting and how even a strenuous workout in the morning can be undone by a day at your desk. Our grandparents, he learns, burned an average of 800 calories a day more than us without the benefit of exercise equipment. Committing to the idea that motion equals health, Jacobs turns his treadmill into a desk and writes nearly his entire book from there. While the book can feel a bit disjointed at times, like a series of magazine articles, Jacobs makes up for it with his slightly cynical yet sincere take on the crazy world of health gurus and the mountains of conflicting advice, evidence and studies. And the scatological musings of his sons are priceless. By the book's end, he's lost 16 pounds, halved his body fat percentage, completely changed his eating habits and competed in a triathlon.
I'll leave you with a list of his exercise advice at the end of the book:
1. Literally run your errands.
2. Have meetings like you're a character in "The West Wing," walking and talking, moving quickly.
3. Use small plates at meals.
4. Put your fork down between bites.
5. Eat an apple, a bowl of soup with cayenne pepper, two glasses of water or a handful of nuts. They all suppress the appetite.
6. Don't eat white food -- white rice, white bread, anything made with white flour.
7. Fidget. It's bad to sit still.
It's a good book. If you want to lose weight or live a healthier life, the ideas here will make you think, and laugh.
"A lot of things are legal in Las Vegas that are not legal anywhere else. Last night robbery was among them.''
I'm not a boxing guy (haven't been, anyway, since covering Aaron Pryor back in my Cincinnati days), and I did not see the fight. But the kind of outrage among my peers who cover the fights and/or watch them regularly made me think the decision was a miscarriage of justice. (In boxing? Surprise!) Borges reported that CompuBox, which charts how many punches each fighter throws in a fight, had Pacquiao throwing more punches that landed in 10 of the 12 rounds, with one round a draw. Surmised Borges: "That means Bradley somehow won a fight in which he was outpunched in all but one round.''
This fight should be analyzed closely -- as should the flood of late money Saturday toward Bradley, an oddity considering Pacquiao was favored -- and I'll be watching to see how the two judges who scored the fight for Bradley, C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, defend their cards.
"Offense, defense and special teams doing their job, each group have different objective and motives, but playing in harmony for each other, for the good of everyone. Wouldn't it be nice if Congress operated the same way?''
"I would. If I was convinced that his coach had received the right training, that they were being monitored in the right way, that people were making good decisions about teaching kids good skills, not only about the game of football, but what it teaches you about honor and sacrifice and teamwork, of course I would."
"I would be shocked if he doesn't sign his tender by July 15 or whenever it is, and he shows up. At the end of the day, I think Matt knows it's business. He's still getting $7-whatever-million to play this year. So he's gonna show up.''
Cutler is probably right -- but when the quarterback of the team says that, and Forte is fighting the team for a new long-term contract, and the quarterback says in effect,
"Fire ants got in my pants. I was freaking out. Oh, ants! When those ants get close to those testicles, there ain't no laughing about that.''
This could be the only appearance of Vickers in Monday Morning Quarterback this year, but it's a noble effort.
Last season, the most startling statistic for the Falcons, quite possibly, was the number of screen passes nifty receiver-out-the-backfield Jacquizz Rodgers caught in his rookie season: one ... out of 256 snaps he played on Atlanta pass plays.
Under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, you can expect two 2011 rookies -- Rodgers and Julio Jones, to have more opportunities to do what they do best. The Falcons drafted Rodgers to be a Darren Sproles-type running back, and time will tell whether that's possible. But there's no way he'll be one if the Falcons don't get him the ball more often in space behind the offensive line. In all, according to ProFootballFocus.com, the Falcons were last in the NFL, including playoff games, with 33 screens in 17 games.
And though Jones averaged 17.8 yards per catch, the Falcons are convinced he should have more chances down the field. When they interviewed Koetter after former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey took the Jacksonville head-coaching job, Atlanta brass was convinced Koetter would take more chances throwing deep with Jones.
Last season, ProFootballFocus.com had Jones 43rd among the 130 receivers with at least 20 targets in downfield depth; the average Atlanta pass to Jones was 13.1 yards past the line of scrimmage. Nothing wrong with throwing Jones some intermediate stuff he can turn into big plays, but that number has to jump up a few yards, emblematic of Matt Ryan airing out 20 or so more balls to him.
Rodgers short and Jones long. Keep that in mind as you watch the Falcons play in September. If they don't accomplish more of that, Koetter will be in head coach Mike Smith's office explaining why.
Want to know why Chad Ochocinco failed in New England? Trust. He just never built it up with Tom Brady, and the Patriots admitted their error by cutting him last week. (More in Ten Things.)
How the Patriots' big four -- Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Deion Branch -- compared in what I'd call the Trust and Production Ratio to Ochocinco shows how he just never fit in.
The Big Four caught 68.4 percent of the balls Brady threw to them. Ochocinco caught 46.9 percent. Throw the blame wherever you wish, but the point is simple: Brady and the Patriots' offensive playcaller, Bill O'Brien, trusted the incumbents and didn't trust the new kid on the block.
Ate dinner Friday evening in a group that included a veteran Yellowstone National Park ranger, Jim Evanoff, who told us one of the most amazing things I'd heard in a while.
When Old Faithful erupts at Yellowstone, the water gushing out of the ground is more than 600 years old, scientists have told Evanoff. That's how long it takes the mountain snow to melt, run down through rivers and streams into the ground, and then percolate below the earth and explode into the sky every 93 minutes (give or take 10 minutes) at very high temperatures.
"That means,'' Evanoff told our group, some of whom would be visiting Yellowstone the next day and witnessing Old Faithful, "that the geysers you'll see tomorrow are formed from water that entered the earth before Christopher Columbus discovered America.''
Now there's something to think about.
One of the great things about traveling to a place like Montana is it gives you an appreciation for people and places you'd otherwise know nothing about.
One of the wranglers who helped me survive a two-hour walk/trot on a horse Friday, Kylie King, is a summer employee of Blank's ranch, earning money for college. She's a bright, smiley girl from the Montana ranching town of Winnett, and I asked her a lot about her life growing up.
She comes from a town of 200, and a county of about 370. There were 30 students in her high school, eight in her graduating class. Her high school partnered with another one a half-hour away for high school sports; that school had 20 students. She ran cross-country and played basketball at school, and helped herd cattle and birth calves with her family. They played six-man football at her high school, and once, when her school had two injuries among the seven players on the roster, they could field but five players. So their opponent that week, in a gesture of sportsmanship, played only five too.
For her high school graduation present, her family gave her a trip to New York City, where she went with her mother and grandmother. She loved "Mamma Mia,'' stayed in a hotel in Times Square, and was scared of only one thing: the crazy cab drivers. Now she'd like to work with horses for the rest of her life.
On Friday, I visited a one-room schoolhouse that served the community of Emigrant from 1928 to 1948. Blank helped restore it when he bought the property. It's one of the most amazing little buildings -- about 12 feet by 20 feet -- I've ever seen. The building, which housed the first- through eighth-grade in Emigrant for 21 years, looks like a tiny white chapel. Inside there are eight seats and attached desks, the original desks from the school, with carved-in initials; one kid generations ago had carved the words "CHAMPS'' on a desk.
The teacher might have two first-graders, no second-graders, a third-grader, a fifth-grader and three sixth-graders one year, for instance ... and would have to teach each single student or small group each day at their own grade level. At the end of eighth grade in those days, there was no expectation most of the students would continue with high school, which was 26 miles away in Livingston. Many stopped schooling then and went to work on the family ranches.
The books were the most interesting things. One on the teacher's desk was a 1928 English text titled
I picked up one book of a four-volume green set with barely legible letters on the cover. It was the collected works of Mark Twain. I looked at the title page. Published in 1871. I was holding a 151-year-old book.
I was in Montana for only a couple of days, but I'll remember it a long time. And I'll be back.
"Tim Bradley's wife didn't think he won."
"As a kid I vowed I'd never drink coffee. Now I can't start the morning without it."
"Pedroia is just a little ready. He's in the dugout in uniform at 2:48 p.m.''
Being in the dugout in uniform at 2:48 means Pedroia was ready to go 4 hours and 22 minutes before the first pitch. The guy likes what he does.
On Twitter, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said: "Aaron Kampman is THE best teammate I ever had.''
The values instilled in Kampman during his formative days in Iowa never left him. If this is it for him, the NFL needs to find a way to keep Kampman involved in the game. I might suggest some sort of ambassador role with high school football, where Kampman can pass along lessons learned from the late and great Ed Thomas at Aplington-Parkersburg High in Iowa.
The officials certainly have some leverage; the league is asking them to be significantly more vigilant this year regarding player safety on the field, and looking out for players who appear to be dazed. Hard to expect neophyte replacement officials to be remotely as competent as the NFL men, so it's important the NFL settles this. But it could drag on for a while. I don't expect many fans to sympathize with officials working only weekends (plus their homework) between August and January for well into six figures.
The confidence a receiver has to have ... Chad just never had it in New England. And Brady didn't have it in him. Remember last year when 98 percent of you -- other than those in Mike Brown's home -- thought I was crazy for considering the Bengals owner and de facto GM the executive of the year, after getting first- and second-round picks for Carson Palmer? Well, he got fifth- and sixth-rounders from the great Bill Belichick (wideout Marvin Jones from Cal was the fifth- last April; the sixth- will come in the 2013 draft) for Ochocinco. That's four draft choices for players who were part of the past, not the future.
"The only way NFL teams get caught is if a player turns the team in to the NFLPA or there is something as egregious as a couple of injuries and a fight breaks out that the media is there to report on, which is what happened in Seattle. Plus, live contact during OTAs is inevitable. As long as the cameras are on, the coaches are evaluating and forming opinions. If coaches are forming opinions, players will continue to increase their intensity so that they look good until it escalates to an unacceptable level per the CBA rules.''
a. How terrific that the Stony Brook Seawolves are going to the College World Series. Just amazing that their 7-2 win in the decisive game of the best-of-three series Sunday at LSU shocked the college baseball world and earned this research university on the north shore of Long Island an incredibly unlikely trip to Omaha and the World Series.
In the first game of the series, Stony Brook couldn't maintain one-run leads in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings and lost. In the second game, the Seawolves dominated in a 3-1 win. On Sunday, in game three, Stony Brook dominated. The charm of college sports is when Lehigh beats Duke, or when Stony Brook takes one of the power franchises of college baseball to the edge of the cliff. Great stuff.
b. Sports Quiz: The Stony Brook University baseball field is named after which major leaguer? (Answer below.)
c. I was about to write about how the Los Angeles Kings' playoff run brought back memories of the Edmonton Oilers. Not so fast. What a great playoff sport hockey is. And how great this one has been without fighting.
d. Al Michaels is getting very worried about his Kings. And the Devils are back in it, of course. But I still think it's going to be a huge challenge for New Jersey to take the next two. At some point, L.A.'s power play is going to get a huge goal. It's so much better than New Jersey's.
e. I sat in a downtown Seattle sports bar with my wife and daughter Saturday night, ping-ponging back and forth between Game 7 in the NBA and Game 5 in the NHL. Didn't know what to watch for about 20 minutes at crunch time of each.
f. Good for you, LeBron James.
g. The great thing about sports: America can sit out here and say some guys can't play in the clutch, and those guys have the opportunity to shut America up, as James did with 76 points in the two games after the Heat went down 3-2.
h. Rondo should shoot more threes. After the Eastern Conference Finals, I trust him in the clutch more than anyone on that team except Ray Allen. And I guess Allen might not be on that team much longer.
i. What if a no-hitter fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it? Would it make a sound?
j. I mean, was that six-pitcher no-hitter in Seattle Friday night, with most of the country in bed, the most invisible no-hitter ever?
k. Safeco: Still one of the best, and most comfortable, places in the world to watch a baseball game. Experienced it again Sunday afternoon.
l. Happy wedding, Jim Nantz.
m. Morose evening in TV land last night: Last episode of the first season of
n. Coffeenerdness: You'd think the coffee in Montana would be strong and dark. I had it in three places and, well, no. It's mostly nondescript and unnecessary, like the coffee on the Acela.
o. Beernerdness: Enjoyed Bent Nail IPA, from Red Lodge, Mont., on the Mountain Sky Property. Very hoppy and dark, with a big IPA taste.
p. Bailey and Anne Hathaway's dog are friends. They chat in the neighborhood. Via sniffing.
q. Answer to Sports Quiz: Joe Nathan Field, at Stony Brook University, is so named because the Texas relief pitcher played there -- and gave $500,000 to assist in the field's construction.
r. I turned 55 yesterday. Sure am going to miss adolescence, whenever that day comes.