Make no mistake, Covid-19 is wreaking havoc across our country and (not making light of the impact at all) but I’m happy about it, in a way, because it’s brought me home.
I moved back to Texas a little over a week ago and I’ve experienced more with my family and friends than I have in the last year living in Pittsburgh. It’s exactly what I wanted and needed at this time of my life.
I’ve seen every single member of my immediate family in that week, something I haven’t been able to in years, celebrated Father’s Day WITH my dad and with my oldest brother, who celebrated for the first time as a dad himself, and then took a spontaneous trip to the Texas Rangers new ballpark with my best friend. These are small things I’ve missed out on for quite some time and my hope is they continue to become more of a regularity.
You see, I’ve been one-track minded, literally for the last 20 years, trying to find that “perfect” full-time TV gig. And that meant going from one market to another, climbing the ladder, gaining experience and hoping to get my big break along the way. It’s absolutely what I wanted to do but it also came at an expense, missing out on time with those that mean the most to me. You might say, ‘suck it up, Chase’ but over the last two decades it’s really taken a toll.
As you know I was done in Pittsburgh back in March, however I had a really promising opportunity, quite possibly the “perfect” TV gig I had been searching for, taken away because of COVID-19.
In the blink of an eye my livelihood, the career I’d worked so hard for and scarified so much is 100% up in the air because of decisions made out of my control and terrible timing.
So, either I came home on my own or a global pandemic forced me to, I honestly don’t care how it happened. I’m just grateful I’m here now. I get to see my family. I get to see my nieces and nephews. I get to see my friends. Whenever I want.
Do I know what’s going to happen on the job front? Nope. Not a clue how that will play out, but in a weird way, I’m kinda happy about the uncertainty and Covid-19, because it brought me where I belong. Home.
Three years ago, March of 2017, my life couldn’t of been any better. I had it all. Or so I thought.
I was engaged to be married, accepted a new job in the ‘Steel City’ where the opportunity was bigger than ever and I was making more money I ever had in my career. I had it all. Or so I thought.
Within three months of being in Pittsburgh I covered a historic Penguins fifth Stanley Cup championship, only to cap it off with my wedding three days after the parade down the Boulevard of the Allies. I couldn’t of asked for more than what I had going on in my life. I had it all. Or so I thought.
But as inevitable as it is in life, life happened. And fast.
I got divorced, had financial issues for multiple reasons and my entire support system was more than 1,200 miles away. As much as I tried to not let it show, I was lost, scared shitless and had no idea how to move forward.
Just months prior, I had it all. Or so I thought.
My friends and family constantly encouraged me by visiting, texting or calling, but I’ve never felt as alone as I did in my second year in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t their fault. I was simply broken and didn’t know how to find my way out of an emotional shit baggage sandwich.
The only thing I knew to do was to throw myself further into my passion. Being a sports journalist. From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until my head hit the pillow later that night, I was studying, brainstorming and leaving no rock unturned in order to improve at my craft. I loved it.
Was everything peachy at work despite all the new opportunities? No. Did I run into road blocks along the way? Of course. It was quite the learning experience and for that I’m grateful.
Year three stood out the most because of the meaningful relationships that developed. My friends and family back home continued to support me as always but I also met some incredible people in Pittsburgh that will forever be my friends. Amazing people that I can honestly say I love and will always be part of my life regardless of where I live.
It’s been the most challenging three years of my life learning what I have, experiencing so many new things, good and bad, and for those who have helped me grow in all aspects, I am nothing but grateful.
Three years ago my life couldn’t of been any better. I had it all. Or so I thought.
I don’t leave with more things or clout, but I do leave with perspective, a full heart and nothing but excitement for the future.
He’s lived his dream of being the television play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks for nearly two decades, but that isn’t why Mark Followill appreciates being associated with the 2011 NBA Champions. In fact, it has nothing to do with basketball.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been on the forefront over the last few months attacking issues our society is facing. From trying to help small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, to participating with some of his players in a ‘Black Lives Matter’ rally in Dallas, to speaking out against the systemic racial oppression in the United States, to holding community conversations on how we can improve race relations to donating money to those in need, Cuban has been quite the leader.
And if there’s anyone to choose the perfect words to describe the impact the Mavericks owner and organization are having on the issues of today, it’s Mark Followill.
I’m grateful he sat down to share his perspective on these impactful social issues and while we were at it, he divulged why the NBA “bubble” will be so important to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, plus explains why Dirk Nowitzki is the best ‘ambassador’ the Dallas Mavericks could’ve ever hoped for.
I could talk to Mark for hours about a multitude of things, but thankful he carved out time to share his perspective on a few topics. The next item on the agenda for him is to get that signature baritone voice back on the air calling Mavericks games and it appears that’s coming sooner rather than later.
Mask on and armed with hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes. I was ready to take on my first flight during Covid-19.
But what would I find when I arrived at the airport? The terminal? The plane? The answer? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
This was the first time in the history of me traveling, to see an image like this. Little did I know, it was only the beginning of an eery trip through the airport.
After making it through security in record time, I proceeded to the terminals at Pittsburgh International Airport and found more weirdness. There’s really no other way to describe it. Two of the four terminals were completely shut down and the one my flight was leaving from maybe had four or five active gates. As we’ve heard over and over during the pandemic, it was truly unprecedented.
Aside from the absence of people, there was an abundance of sanitary precautions in place to ensure a clean airport. I’ve never seen one of these self-propelled mopping gizmos. There were also several hand sanitizer stations spread throughout the terminals, which made me feel comfortable. The majority of the restaurants and stores were closed. I counted four, maybe five that were open. Total.
Because I checked my bag, made it through security and to my gate in record time (a whopping 7 minutes), I wanted to walk around the airport to see how everything was laid out. In one of the closed terminals I saw one gate completely without seats and then I peaked out the window to find dozens of “grounded” airplanes with tarps over the engines. So. Weird.
Once I boarded my flight, I was extremely pleased and surprised what I found on the plane. Cleanliness. I’m not certain how old the plane was, but it was spotless. Everyone wore the required mask, all middle seats were open, nothing in the seat back pockets, floors were spotless and the flight attendants made sure the patrons were spread out evenly. My flight was less than a third full and, again, I felt extremely comfortable once we got in the air.
From the airport, security and airline employees I spoke to, none are sure when normalcy will resume due to the Covid-19 pandemic but are hopeful improvements will happen towards the end of July.
But why travel right now anyway? Why take the chance of being exposed to the virus despite feeling incredibly comfortable both in the airport and the plane? Well, I got to see this little nugget. Spending the weekend with my nephew, Nash, and my family was well worth it. If anything has crystalized for me during these unusual times, it’s how important family is. Just make sure there’s plenty of hand sanitizer to go around.
If you can’t relate, reflect and be part of the solution.
I am part of the problem. Because when a protest or riot over racism was on the TV, I would change the channel. “That’s not going to change anyone’s mind,” I would tell myself. I was so incredibly wrong.
My eyes are open, finally.
Not sure why or how but it finally clicked as to WHY so many African Americans are angry. They’re hurting, not just because of the latest tragedy involving George Floyd, but for the literal HUNDREDS of years of racism, oppression and injustice prior to May 25, 2020. How and more importantly WHY is this acceptable? The answers to racism are so blatantly obvious and right in front of our face. It’s time to get uncomfortable.
We (white people) have to take a more active role in eradicating racism. We can’t just change the TV when it’s something you don’t want to watch. What’s the easiest way to start making a difference? Have a discussion with someone who doesn’t look like you. And listen.
Donovan Lewis is a friend of mine I met when I worked at Sports Radio 96.7FM/1310AM – The Ticket in Dallas. He included me and didn’t “big time” me from the first day I met him. He not only didn’t “big time” me, but actively helped me when my career transitioned into TV. He never said no when I asked him to jump on a show with me. Heck, he even “Tebowed” with me back in 2011. Ha!
I can’t say enough good things about Donovan, but I also never took the time to talk to him about racism or the things he’s been through. I may be late to the party, but I’m glad we, like all of us should be doing right now, had a discussion and got uncomfortable.
After we talked, I thought of so many more questions of how to move forward, but there’s an easy way to do so.
Educate yourself. Show compassion. Show empathy. And let your guard down and listen. It’s quite simple.
One of the first things I did was watch ’13th’ a documentary on the 13th Amendment, it’s history and systemic racism in our country. I was absolutely appalled at what I saw. I consider myself an educated person, but I literally wasn’t taught about half of what was in this documentary.
It’s time to get uncomfortable. Let’s have these conversations with people who don’t look like you. As Donovan and I discussed, it’s OK to hear the truth. We can’t keep passing down ignorance from generation to generation. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.
We have to keep the conversation going. We have to continue to ask questions. We have to continue to listen. Because really that’s how change starts.
For nearly 14 years I’ve had a front row seat to witness history in some of the biggest moments and events in sports. World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Final, boxing title bout, NBA Finals. You name it, I’ve been so incredibly hashtag blessed for what I’ve been able to cover. And to think it’s considered “work” and I get paid to do it.
But it’s not all glitz and glamour. It’s not all fancy suits and interviewing millionaires who play a game. Those aspects of the job are incredible. But the part of the job most don’t think about is when you leave and the relationships left behind. When you pack up and move to another market for a bigger role, more money or a significant other got an opportunity to realize their dream. Heck, maybe a global pandemic might alter a career path.
You see, I’ve worked in markets from Lubbock, Texas to Dallas, Texas, twice, to Omaha, Nebraska and now Pittsburgh and have met some of the most incredible people along the way. Each stop I’ve gained life long friends. And each stop sucks, because eventually someone or everyone moves on to the “next step” in their own career and lives.
And once everyone scatters in a million different directions, you relish the few opportunities you get to catch up. For me, I typically see friends while I’m on the road covering a game or event. Sometimes these get togethers are planned and other time you just so happen to watch their Instagram story and you’re in the same spot.
The reason I write about this is because I’ve spent the last two days helping friends I’ve made at my job in Pittsburgh pack up their apartments. Both left for new opportunities. One in Denver and the other had the chance to go back home to Philadelphia. Once again friends at my latest stop have scattered.
And this goes for family as well. It’s rare I’m able to go home to visit my parents, brothers and their kids, because its hard to scrounge up enough days in a row to get back home. If I’m lucky, they make the trip to come see me. The visits are fewer, but I try to my best to cherish the actual time we do get to spend together.
I love what I do. The opportunities, incredible. It’s the best “job” you could ever have, but like most everything, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Finally! We’re starting to see signs of hope when it comes to the resumption of sports around the globe. But as leagues are knocking on the door of getting back to work, how are athletes going to deal with change?
Covid-19 has turned our world upside down and that includes the sports world, too. For many professional athletes, fear and anxiety is starting to take its toll and questions are being asked. When is it safe to return? Will we be safe when we return? What if I get the virus? What if a teammate gets sick?
These are all questions that greatly impact everyone’s mental health right now. That’s why I sought out Dr. Christian Conte. He’s one of the country’s most accomplished mental health specialists in the field of anger and emotional management. He’s worked with the Florida State University and the University of Oregon football teams, as well as University of Tennessee football and University of Pittsburgh Athletics. And he applies his Yield Theory in maximum security prisons throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Conte provided incredible insight into what athletes will be faced with, mentally, as they resume their sport.
As Dr. Conte put it in our conversation, there are two kinds of people in this world. People with issues and dead people. We’re all trying to figure out our “new normal” and I thought Dr. Conte’s tweet, the day we spoke, was spot on.
Professional athletes issues are present as they trend to the resumption of their sports, but they’ll adjust. For the rest of us, the best way to “survive” the pandemic is to find our true meaning, because as Dr. Conte said, once you find it there is nothing outside of you that can determine your direction.
He fully admits he “never should of been there” and by there, he means Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI. Dave Tollefson spent seven seasons in the NFL, however he took the most unlikely route to not only get there, but have a highly productive and fruitful career.
Tollefson was two years removed from high school, employed as a carpenter when one of his friend’s called from Northwest Missouri State asking him to come visit. Dave played football throughout high school and had a cup of coffee in the junior college ranks, but still wanted to play. He got his shot in Division II and from there his story only gets more bizarre.
What I admire the most about Dave is how incredibly loyal he is to the people closest in his life. Just so happens he’s incredibly close with Eli Manning.
When Dave and I met in Omaha, it was only natural we would get into multiple debates about his former teammate, being that I grew up in Dallas, TX. As a Dallas Cowboys fan I couldn’t stand that Eli Manning won a Super Bowl, much less two, before my favorite player Tony Romo did. I genuinely believe Romo is a better quarterback than Manning, but Dave has shown me there’s so much more to Manning than I saw.
You see, there’s so much more Dave Tollefson as well. Without his competitive spirit and fierce determination, that phone call would’ve just been a phone call.
All it took was 38 seconds to inject life into Steeler Nation when Ben Roethlisberger released a video showing him firing passes to teammates this past week at a Pittsburgh high school and so I spoke with someone who knows just how impressive that was to see.
He spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and quickly became a fan favorite for his hard-hitting style and now, in retirement, Arthur Moats is giving his “behind the scenes” insight of what it was like to play for such a storied organization.
I had the guts to “cross the moats” to get his thoughts on Big Ben’s return, who he would want to be the backup QB, an intriguing AFC North, Antonio Brown’s future and where he got his “Da Body” nickname. Enjoy.
Starting every Wednesday I’m going to “quick hit” what’s going on in the sports scene and I’d like to begin with taking my frustrations out on whoever thought it would be a good idea to replay Game 6 of the 2011 World Series…kind of.
The worldwide leader took me and Texas Rangers fans down what was, collectively, the most heartbreaking moment in our teams’ history. Nelson Cruz. That’s all that needs to be said.
This coming after being up 2 runs and the St Louis Cardinals down to their last strike. The entire outfield is playing to limit the double, however David Freese got it over Cruz’s head. In fact, the Rangers right fielder wasn’t even close. “I thought Cruzy (Nelson Cruz) was going to grab it,” Freese said during a FOX postgame interview. Well, he didn’t.
Josh Hamilton was in a bit of a drought as he stepped to the plate in the top of the 10th. And then, just like that, bang! His first homer in 82 at-bats. A two-run job to put the Rangers up 9-7. We couldn’t lose. Welp. The Cardinals would tie it up in the bottom of the frame after again, being down to their last strike for the SECOND time. And then, the dagger.
After a series of questionable managerial decisions in the 10th inning, David Freese hit the first walk-off homer in Cardinals World Series history. They were the first time in World Series history to score in the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th innings. AYFKM? And yes, the Cardinals would win the the following night despite the Rangers getting out to another early lead. Sports heartbreak.
I remember these two nights like they were just yesterday. Josh Hamilton and David Murphy were so gracious with their time in the clubhouse following the game as both gave me a 1-on-1 for my sportscast. Thankfully I had to work. Otherwise I would let of been able to keep it together. Amazing game. Crap outcome. But sports happen. And they’re still great.
Sports are on their way back. The MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL are all taking positive steps to have protocol in place to maneuver their way through the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not even going to try and lay each plan out because it’ll be outdated by the time i’m done writing. Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Bundesliga resumed league play, while so too did Nascar and there was a charity golf match between Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolfe. Only catch is, they were all played without fans.
The only sporting event that had fans, kind of, was at South Korea’s FC Seoul league match. They were slapped with a fine of 100 million won (US $81,410) for using sex dolls instead of mannequins to fill empty seats during a league match after the K-League said its disciplinary committee is to look into the incident, Yonhap news agency reported. I know we’re all trying to figure out what the “new normal” is for everything, but, sex dolls? Really?
He’s baaaaacccckkkkk! Steelers fans have to be absolutely beside themselves after seeing this video posted on Ben Roethlisberger’s twitter page Monday. The video was only 38 seconds, but it appears the 38-year-old has recovered from September elbow surgery, clearly a major milestone for the QB. I don’t think the Steelers win the AFC North in 2020, however they’ll have much more of a fighting shot with Big Ben back and not floating between Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges for another season.
After a gut shot by ESPN, I’d like to speak for every sports fan out there, THANK YOU for moving up ‘The Last Dance’ for us all to enjoy over the last five weeks.
Of all the things we learned throughout the Ten part documentary, reliving this sequence in Game 6 of the NBA Finals is, in my opinion, the absolute very best we saw of Michael Jordan. Every aspect of his talent, relentlessness, basketball IQ and will to win was on display. Just beautiful. Sure, Jordan was a bit of a drama mama when it came to his “list” but if that’s what it took for him to conjure up the motivation for greatness we saw every game, so be it. There were a few instances in the documentary I’m not so sure are 100% true, but it was absolutely tremendous.
I love sports. I miss sports. And I’ll continue to scatter shoot every Wednesday.
Sports fans have been captivated by “The Last Dance” on ESPN over the past five weeks and while I enjoyed every minute of the documentary, another team, in another sport was on my mind the entire time. The early 90’s Dallas Cowboys.
That group won Super Bowls in 1992, 1993 & 1995, plus if they weren’t broken up, much like the Chicago Bulls were, who knows how many Lombardi’s they could’ve won.
“We were so damn good,” Tony Casillas told me on a zoom conversation this week. It’s hard to argue as he and I go down memory lane to discuss him being part of that dynasty and why they are on the same level of Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Casillas was drafted 2nd overall in 1986 and after spending five uneventful years with the Atlanta Falcons, the defensive lineman was traded to the Cowboys where he says his life completely changed.
Known primarily as a “run stopper” over his career, Casillas recalls his performance in the 1992 NFC Championship at Candlestick Park where he sacked Steve Young three times to help lead the Cowboys to Super Bowl XXVII.
But his dominance among the defensive line really garnered respect from his time in college where he played for the Oklahoma Sooners. After two injury riddled years to begin his career in Norma, Casillas became a starter in 1984, receiving consensus All-American and first-time All-Conference honors. In 1985, he helped the Sooners to the national championship after a 25-10 victory over Penn State in the Orange Bowl. Casillas became only the second Sooner to win the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman, named the UPI Lineman of the Year, the Big Eight Conference defensive player of the year, a consensus first time All-American and first team All-Conference to finish out his college career.
After his football career, Casillas has spent time as an actor and currently a broadcaster for several outlets. This was he and I working a postgame show for the Dallas Cowboys Network in 2015.
After catching up with Casillas this week, it was evident how much he believed in that Dallas Cowboys team of the early 90’s and just how dominant they were. The defense he was part of forced NINE Buffalo Bills turnovers in the Super Bowl. Let that sink in. Yea, they were that damn good.
He owns the second best winning percentage (.642) among active NFL coaches behind only Bill Belichick. In fact, he hasn’t had a losing season in 13 years as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin is highly regarded across the country as one of the very best to do what he does, but coaching is only scratching the surface as to what kind of a person he is.
When he isn’t scheming up defenses and preparing for what will no doubt be another tough season in the AFC North, Tomlin uses his platform to shine light on one of the most problematic issues in our world, child trafficking. And he does so as an advocate for Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit founded by Tim Ballard and Mark Stott which assists governments around the world in the rescue of human trafficking and sex trafficking victims, with a special focus on children.
Coach Tomlin detailed the issue in my exclusive interview with him in 2018.
The issues in our world are vast, but as Mike Tomlin told me, “I think we can all get behind this” and do our part to bring human trafficking to a halt.
Six of the PGA Tour’s Top Ten players have committed but it’s far from guaranteed the Charles Schwab Challenge will take place next month at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Texas. It all depends if anything drastically changes with Covid-19 pandemic between now and June 8th when the tournament is slated to begin.
Avid Golfer Magazine‘s Rick Arnett and I discuss what the event could look like, his suggestions for the PGA Tour, why the made-for-tv challenges over the next couple weeks are boring and his defense of highly unusual eats during quarantine.
IF the Charles Schwab Challenge does indeed go on as planned in June, the fact of the matter is the trophy presentation won’t look like this when Kevin Na won in 2019 as media members are expected to be drastically limited. As selfishly as it may be, I’m highly intrigued how the media will be handled as sports are re-entered into our lives.
Outside of the logistics of the tournament and adjusting to the “new normal” as we’ve all thrown out into the world a million times here recently, could this event be what Jordan Spieth needs to return to relevance? He won on this course in 2016 where he beat out Harris English by three strokes. Ever since, Spieth has sputtered and fallen out of the Top 50 in the world and missed the last two Tour Championships. Perhaps returning to familiar grounds could shake him from his funk.
Two things are true. If the PGA Tour is allowed to play next month, they have an incredible opportunity to capture more eyes than usual with a stacked field at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Rick Arnett has a questionable ‘Quarantine Quisine.’
She accepts my Zoom invitation, pops up on my laptop screen and she’s on the phone clearly trying to solve a problem. She says, “well that’s incredibly odd” only to hang up and tell her 8-year-old son not to give out her phone number while playing video games over the internet. It was a solicitor of some sort trying to offer her son insurance. Ha! Always cool, no matter the situation, it’s like she’s been there a thousand times and that’s exactly how she’s handling the first global pandemic of her life.
Emily Jones is not only surviving quarantine, but thriving thanks to early morning runs, a glass of wine or two and just being an all-around badass.
Her day job as Field Reporter for the Texas Rangers is on hold at the moment, but while she waits, as we all are for the return of sports, she’s got her hands full with her two hilarious kids (Henry and Hattie) and a handful of side gigs she’s completely crushing. She sells wine for a company named ‘Scout and Cellar’ hosts two podcasts, ‘The Mom Game’ and ‘The Hit Show,’ plus has written two children’s books and helps with the charity, ‘Do It For Durrett.’ She’s unreal.
Her Twitter bio says, “I’m an s show, but I mean well. Love my family. Dig my job. Couldn’t care less about my bad hair. Please don’t take me too seriously.” While, I love her humility, if you don’t take Emily Jones seriously, you’re doing it all wrong. She’s an incredible person, first and foremost, and the perfect example to just “go for it” whatever “it” is.
She has an incredible story to tell and I’m grateful to have been able to spend a few minutes with her today.
There you have it, folks. Emily Jones will take the Gatorade bath after every game to get baseball back in our lives.
I know she isn’t a fan of the Gatorade bath after a Rangers victory, but I sure hope we see it soon. If we do that means we’re watching our favorite baseball team play and our favorite TV reporter badass do her thing again.
In the meantime support her side gigs. There’s something for everyone.
He’s a hell of a hockey writer. He’s an even better person. And the stories about his grandmother are hilarious. But that’s not why Josh Yohe of The Athletic is one of my favorite people in Pittsburgh.
I moved to the ‘Steel City’ in March of 2017 and the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the stretch run of the regular season and by all accounts were primed at a run to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Coming from Dallas, hockey wasn’t exactly my strong suit, and I had questions. Oh, so many questions. What the hell is icing? What’s with all the nicknames? Horny? Really? But to his credit, Josh answered every single one despite, me, being the “outsider” from Dallas coming into this tight knit community.
The more time we spent doing TV shows together, attending Penguins practices and games, Josh continued to answer my questions and make me feel like part of the group and I can’t thank him enough for that.
We had a chance to catch up today and I wanted to go “behind the scenes” of what Josh experiences at NHL arenas if he’s superstitious (he is) and the biggest life lesson he’s learned from his grandmother. Watch til the end, you won’t be disappointed about the story he tells about her.
And he’s not kidding about the things Phil Bourque talks about in their book, “If These Walls Could Talk.” I can attest, it’s a phenomenal read. Plus, it’s not like you don’t have time on your hands these days.
Josh is a hell of a hockey writer. Can grow a seriously mean beard. And just an all-around good dude.
It was the Spring of 1996, I was in the 7th Grade and faced with deciding what to pursue in a “career research” project in Mrs. Kelemen’s English class. I had absolutely no clue so my teacher asked me what I like to do outside of school and I responded with, “sports.” I played absolutely everything under the sun at that time. It consumed me, much like it does to this very day. Thankfully Mrs. Kelemen had a business card in the top drawer of her desk. Mike Doocy from KDFW FOX 4 in Dallas.
Mike Doocy changed my life and couldn’t be more grateful for him taking time out for a 7th grader just trying to do a career research project.
Show up. Try your best. Tell the truth. And be kind.
While I’ve failed miserably at all of those things, at times, that’s what I’ve found are the most important traits I’ve learned from my mom. If you think about it, that’s everything you need to be a decent person and be successful.
That’s all my mom has wanted for me and my three brothers. Yes, I’m one of four boys and the youngest. And yes, I was tortured by them constantly. Ha! But there’s no way around how much my mom has done for our family.
Our family got together back in 1986 and off we went. Mom, Carl, Aron, Nick, Matt and Me. There isn’t a blog long enough to discuss all the stories we’ve all been through, but I will say it’s been one hell of a ride, to say the least.
Back to Barb and me. She’s been my biggest fan since Day 1 and done literally anything and everything she could possibly do to help me achieve everything I’ve wanted through school, clubs, sports, relationships…You name it. She’s done it. I always remember her being a “home room” mom in elementary or helping with my Boy Scout stuff or taking me to all my sports stuff or taking me shopping to make sure I matched my dates outfit in high school. Ha! Or simply making sure our house was available and welcoming for my friends. That probably meant the most to me. Our house was the gathering spot throughout the years and gave all of us a ton of memories.
One of the things I love most about my mom is how much she gives of herself to others. Always thinking of how she can make others feel welcome or loved. She’s always been involved in church and over the last handful of years has really found a “home” with a couple charities called “Kairos” and “Helping Hands” that are supported through my parents church. Her Kairos group would to go a prison in Texas, every few months, just to talk to those imprisoned. She would organize the food her group would take down to cook for the inmates and developed a few lasting relationships with inmates she met. Helping Hands is a mission in Ft. Worth for homeless to get food, clothing and fellowship. As my mom told me on the phone the other day, “I need people” and everywhere she goes, it seems she’s trying to help those people.
But it hasn’t all been roses and butterflies. Especially because I know I’m not the easiest to deal with. We’ve been at each other’s throats and both said some pretty crappy things to each other throughout the years too. While those times have sucked and I don’t always understand her reasoning for everything, we’ve figured it out and came out stronger and hopefully learned from each other as well.
As much as I love my mom, it’s hard for me to tell her as much as I would like to and I know this blog won’t do it justice, but I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done for me and our family. So, there’s only one tried and true way to show her…Get her the card of her dreams, of course. I love you, mom.
Please let the 2020 NFL season happen without interruption.
For the first time in nearly two decades the NFL appears to be WIDE open and that’s because of the Tom Brady-Patriots divorce. How many Super Bowls did Brady and Belichick play in? A lot. But now the “usual suspects” come playoff time might not be what we’re used to because Tom taking his talents and $50 million to Tampa Bay.
Brady will begin his post-Patriots era with the Buccaneers, hopefully, on Sept. 13th in New Orleans in a nationally televised contest against now conference foe Drew Brees and the Saints. I mean, how good is that?!
Brady will be 43-years-old, while Drew Brees will be 41. They rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions. AYFKM? It’ll also be the first time in 75 starts that Tom Brady will NOT be favored in a game as the Bucs are 6 1/2 dogs to the Saints in the season opener. My inner sports dork is going crazy eyeing those numbers.
The Buccaneers have been the NFL laughing stock for decades. Enter Tom Brady. They’ll play a franchise-record five primetime games in 2020, despite only finishing 7-9 in 2019. The Bucs had a league-low 17 primetime games from 2005-2019. NOBODY brings the interest like Tom Brady, especially when he did the unthinkable leaving New England. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The new darlings of the NFL. Who would’ve thought?
One of the other games of intrigue, to me, comes Week 3 on Monday Night Football in Baltimore as the Ravens host the defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. This one features the last two MVP’s of the league and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a combined 100 burger. One can only hope.
Another one of I’ll be interested in comes Week 1 in the Meadowlands as the Giants host Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. I’m eager to see how the 38-year-old quarterback looks coming off the elbow injury that limited him to six quarters last season. I respect Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, but I think he’s making a mistake not pursuing Cam Newton who reportedly is OK with a backup role with the “right team.” IF Roethlisberger isn’t “right” the season wouldn’t be lost, much like it was last year with the offense unable to score with Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges under center. IF Big Ben returns to the guy that led the NFL in passing (5,129 yards) in 2018, watch out for Pittsburgh.
Week 6 features a special one for me as the Cardinals, Coach Bro and Kyler will be in Dallas, er Arlington, to face the Cowboys, Mike McCarthy and Dak in primetime, on Monday Night Football. Both teams have upgraded their respective rosters this off-season, but will the Cardinals build on the momentum built late in 2019 and take a jump in Year 2 of Kliff and Kyler? It’s also a homecoming for Murray. He grew up in Allen, a Dallas suburb and has played in AT&T Stadium four times and won all four. Three came in state championships with Allen and the other was a Big 12 Championship victory for Oklahoma over Texas. But when it comes to the Cowboys much will Mike McCarthy impact this team? After 10 years of mediocrity under Jason Garrett, us Cowboys fans can’t wait to see what happens.
I’m frothing at the mouth for what could be the most exciting NFL season in decades. Now we just have to take care of this pandemic thing to see how it all unfolds.
Professional athletes are overpaid, cocky and have no care in the world except for themselves. Right? Many have those views, but this is a story how one of those athletes was selfless and without a doubt has inspired a little boy who faced the ultimate test…cancer.
That’s how many days it’s been without sports and while it has been a struggle it’s not even close to what Levi Delimpo has endured. You see, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and through his love of sports, prayer and unbelievable medical treatment, survived.
But this all started a year prior, in Cincinnati before a Steelers vs Bengals game, where I stumbled upon this moment. I noticed Conner heading towards the stands where players typically sign autographs one last time before a game, but this was more than an autograph signing.
As the sign says, Levi had just finished his last round of chemotherapy and just HAD to come see his favorite player with who he shares an incredible bond. Surviving cancer. I thought it was pretty cool, tweeted it out, thinking this would be a memory the two strangers would cherish. Little did I know the impact.
If my memory serves me correctly, Levi’s mother Tami, reached out to me through social media to thank me and explain how her son was over the moon with the chance encounter. Fast forward a year later.
Mrs Delimpo reached out to me again and said their family were driving to Pittsburgh, from their home in Lexington, Kentucky to watch a Steelers game at Heinz Field. Levi’s first time in the ‘Steel City’ and of course to get another look at #30 do his thing. I reached out to the Steelers PR staff and, through a collaborative effort, was able to arrange the meeting between Levi and Conner where they were able to spend probably five minutes together just talking about their past and how a positive mindset and prayer have helped them both through recovery and beyond.
I’m happy to report after a successful surgery and more than a year later, Levi has “No Evidence of Disease” after the latest scans of his hip. Amazing.
I’ve told hundreds of stories over my career and this might be my favorite. Quarantine and these times are tough, but it’s nothing compared to what Levi has endured and he’s not even 12-years-old.