top of page

An Apology to Brett Favre

It is hard to believe that the summer of 2017 marks the seven-year anniversary of the annual Brett Favre retirement drama. It does not seem like so long ago that summers were spent with avid Fantasy Football participants hedging bets on whether or not Favre would end up firing the pigskin for another season. ESPN, when it was still capable of producing watchable sports television, would spend weeks on end talking about every Favre rumor down to what time he woke up to what time he went to bed. The Favre drama was the original ESPN LeBron James love drama.


Having grown beyond disgusted with every unbearable love fetish ESPN establishes with a drama centered star athlete, I will be the first to admit that watching ESPN while Brett Favre mulled retirement was intolerable. For most fans of SportsCenter, it was the only time during the year that sports fans would avoid ESPN and watch any show that had nothing to do with football. Every sports fan, including those of teams Favre played for, complained and suffered through ridiculous drama about a middle-aged man deciding between keeping his job or pursuing other passions. Frankly, if this was the CEO of any company he would have been fired to help him make up his mind. Is the drama really worth the drop in the stock price?


Even I would pile on Favre, though I highly doubt he was concerned with my opinion, about how ridiculous the drama had become. It really is a simple question: Do you want to retire or not? An athlete that is 35-40 years old is the equivalent of a 60-70-year-old salesman. We cannot beat Father Time and after all, 15+ years in the National Football League is defying odds that make winning the lottery seem realistic. I mean come on, he had a great career and walking away having been a Super Bowl Champion, three-time Most Valuable Player and held multiple records that cemented his legacy. Even Favre admitted he missed home, was reasonable enough to admit his play had hindered the Green Bay Packers ability to succeed and had been given every opportunity to walk away at his own choosing. I mean seriously, what was the big hang up? Why could he not just walk away from a silly game?


During this spring I played a collegiate sport at a four year university for the first time in my career. I practiced with 22 and 23-year-old men whom I bonded with and befriended as the year went on. Less than a month ago those men put on a uniform for the last time. Most of them are self-aware and know that our last game was the last opportunity they were given to play the sport they love in a game that had actual meaning. Although each one of them has the opportunity to be successful and happy throughout their lives they will never be able to play another game of baseball that will count toward a true championship. As I sit here coming up on my last year of college eligibility, I can only imagine what it will be like to have to decide my future knowing baseball may no longer be an option. I only hope I am gifted with the opportunity to mull my retirement the same way Favre was able to do so.


If in a year I am given the opportunity to keep playing I will be grateful. However, if I am not, I cannot imagine how I could hang it up. It is the game I have loved since I was a child. It has taught me lessons and taken me places, and I mean literal places, I never thought I would go. It is one of only few things in my life that has seen me mature from a boy into a man. It has been an escape, a pain, a joy, a curse, a frustration and a celebration every day I walk onto the field. There are days that hurt so bad I wish I could walk away and never see a field again; yet, there are days I wish the game never had to stop. There have been games that have brought me to tears and memories that replace the pain I once suffered. There are bonds I have formed that will last a lifetime over a game that did not exist 200 years ago. As I consider every pro that would occur from leaving baseball behind, they fail to outweigh the con of getting to compete one final time. No matter how logical it could be to walk away from the game, it will never be as simple as just saying goodbye.


Therefore, let me say I am sorry to the man I have never met. To the man who got to play the game he loved almost 20 years longer than I have played mine. If leaving the game is that difficult for me, I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to bid adieu. Many do not understand how, if given the opportunity to do the thing they love just one final time, it would be impossible to say goodbye. To lace up the cleats, stretch out the hamstrings, and run like a child decades after adolescence is a gift few are given. It is the game that has matured quicker than you and forced you to grow up. It is the game that taught you life lessons and helped you keep your way. It is the game that opened more doors than a desperate man in the south looking for love. It is the game that will make you bitter anyone else gets to enjoy. It is the game you will love for the rest of your life. It is the game that you only wish to say thank you.


So to you Brett Favre I say I am sorry. I now understand why you could not walk away. I hope in 15 years I have that decision on my mind, that God let me play this game for longer than I deserve. I hope I have those cameras shoved in my face. I hope ESPN questions my motives and surrounds me with drama. And I now know it was never for attention. It was only because you just wanted to play. Thank you for showing that it is hard to walk away. And thank you for showing that no matter your age, you can always have the ambition to play.

This is Our Year

Written December 2016

Last year brought a plethora of unbelievable events. A celebrity won the presidential election, a gorilla's death was mourned for months and Angelina Jolie was in a messy divorce from husband Brad Pitt. Yet, perhaps the most unbelievable events to take place throughout 2016 were not dominated by politicians and celebrities; moreover, 2016 was a year dominated by athletes.


One year ago, did anyone believe that Cleveland would end their 52 year run of championship futility? The Lake Erie Monsters ended the futility in Cleveland by winning the Calder Cup at the beginning of June; additionally, LeBron James helped his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers put an exclamation point to the end of their futility with an NBA Championship later that month. In fact, I am positive no sports fan believed that Cleveland was a rain delay away from winning three professional championships in a one year span. Thanks to that rain delay, a curse that spanned 108 years was finally broken in October when the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians. No matter what any Cubs fan will tell you, when Rajai Davis hit a game-tying homerun in the eighth inning, every Cubs fan was thinking the curse would continue in a fashion only the Cubs could deliver. However, the bottom of the 10th ended with the Indians grounding out to third and a long awaited end to the 108 year curse.


After two fan bases saw their favorite teams and towns win a championship despite an unfathomable amount of failure, it should be easy for other fans of teams with historical futility to start believing. Nevertheless, as a sports fan of a team who has never won a professional championship, it still remains hard to believe my team will turn the corner and will soon provide a trophy no matter how strong the team appears to be.


As a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team who has never won a playoff series and have only made the playoffs twice, it is difficult to believe their current thirteen game winning streak is a sign that this team can finally overcome their historical futility. Last year, after a trip to the playoffs in 2014 and a strong finish in 2015 despite an injury riddled season, the organization finally had fans buying in that the 2016 Blue Jackets would turn the corner. Yet, after an 0-8 start to the season that led to Head Coach Todd Richards being fired, I began to understand that the moment I believe in the Jackets is the moment they will break my heart. Despite my love for the Jackets, I swore to myself I would not allow myself to fall head over heals believing the Jackets would make the playoffs before they secure their spot. Yet, after winning thirteen straight games and witnessing firsthand how impressive this young team is, I have secured my ultimate demise as I have once again bought in that this will be the team that finally rewards my faith.


Believe me, buying in once again is not easy. This is the same organization that begged fans to "March With Us" during a season that led to underachievement. Think about all the Cubs fans who believed season after season they would finally get the monkey off their back. Then the billy goat happened. And the black cat. And Steve Bartman. And then you begin to realize that witnessing your favorite team achieve the highest level of success may not take place during your lifetime. For 108 years that is what Cubs fans dealt with on a yearly basis. Then 2016 happens. A year of crazy events and an unfathomable amount of celebrity deaths will be remembered as the year the Cubs broke the curse. A year that will be considered by most as a year that provided more problems than resolutions was the same year Cleveland and the Cubs rewrote history and rewarded the hopes of millions of fans who never thought they would see their favorite team win a championship in their lifetime. Because of that, though I am sure those fans suffered for years as their teams continually failed to live to expectations, I am positive the reward was sweeter than most other fans ever get to enjoy. Therefore, I will once again believe in a team that for years has broken my heart in hopes that they may one day drink from a cup that will cement their legacy and reward our belief beyond my wildest dreams.

College Football Drama

Drama. Ohio State vs Penn State. A spot in the College Football Playoff hangs in the balance. Possible Heisman implications at stake with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley leading the way of the next great players in college football. Late fourth-quarter comeback. 39-38. Instant classic. Two college football powers proved to the country it is possible to believe two teams in the same conference could have spots in the playoff.


55-24. Unranked Iowa beats Ohio State. The game was never close. 27-24. The Michigan State team that lost the week before to unranked Northwestern beats Penn State. Barkley has 111 all-purpose yards and zero touchdowns. Two weeks ago both teams deserve a chance to play in the playoff. Now each will be lucky to play in January.


This is not an argument about why Ohio State and Penn State should not get into the playoff. This is an argument that the overwhelming ups and downs of college football have almost made following the sport useless. Every week has turned into a roundabout argument of what makes each team worthy of a spot in the college football playoff. But each week the argument is almost rendered useless by the play of the team being argued for or the play of the teams the argued for team played against. Prime example: Clemson. One month ago Clemson looked like one of the best teams in the country. Three straight top 25 wins and every win in convincing fashion. But what about now? A loss to Syracuse is perhaps the worst loss of any team in the top 10. Beating Louisville seemed impressive at the time, but that same Louisville team is 5-4 and the worst team in the ACC Atlantic. The Virginia Tech win seems to hold water except when you look at their wins and notice Virginia Tech has two wins against teams with winning records. Perhaps the best win for Clemson is against Auburn, the team that lost to the same LSU team that lost to Troy.


Again, I am not arguing Clemson should not get into the playoff. But how can a month make such a difference in how we perceive a football team? Especially when one considers the fact that Clemson is a one-loss football team. There are few teams in the country that have that distinction. The issue with college football is that the National Champion is becoming a matter of perception than reality. The New England Patriots were the Super Bowl Champions. They qualified for the playoffs based on the standards set by the league. They beat all other qualified teams to win the championship. But what about Ohio State in 2014. The team that leapfrogged a very good TCU team in the final ranking to get into the playoff. They had accomplished just as much as Ohio State and only lost one game, to another one-loss team, in a shootout. Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech, a team that finished the regular season 6-6 and barely squeaked by Minnesota 31-24. TCU beat that same Minnesota team 30-7. TCU had more top 25 wins than Ohio State. Yet, Ohio State jumped TCU despite TCU not playing in the conference championship and eventually won the National Championship. But how? Every logical argument that supports a team making the College Football Playoff would support TCU deserving a shot at the title more than Ohio State. And yes, I know the Baylor situation during that time. But just hear this argument at face value. TCU, logically speaking, was a better team than Ohio State and was more deserving of a playoff spot. But the playoff committee had a different perception. Therefore, a different champion had to be crowned because a different team was given the opportunity to compete.


How can this continue to be enjoyable? When did 12 people determine what team seems worthy of the National Championship? There are no strict qualifications. What is keeping the committee from putting a 6-6 team into the playoff? What if, assuming the current top four teams win-out, Alabama was left out of the playoff? In their place, the committee put in Louisville, a team that would be 8-4 and no top 25 wins. What if that team got hot and won the National Championship? Could anyone truly accept the results of the playoff? It would be madness. But that is what happens when the means of achieving a championship follow an undefined path.


What is the solution? How can we enjoy college football without feeling that every week creates a chaos that has become unbearable? A year ago I came up with what seemed like a reasonable solution that is now more prudent than ever. It is time to move to eight teams and it is time to create qualifications to get into the playoffs. Without it the madness will continue and we will forever be left wondering who is the true National Champion.

bottom of page