Life Has a Way of Smacking You Right in the Face

Folks…  Let me tell you something.  I am one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet.  I try not to allow the evils of the world get to me, I strive to be positive and above all, try and keep the people around me positive as well.  A little over 16 years ago, I went into a deep depression that I never thought I would emerge from, yet I overcame it after several years of more difficulty.  I went through hell, including a bought with poverty, making bad decisions, losing the respect and love of my own child, divorcing the ONE woman that gets me, and of course being laid off from three jobs in less than two years.  I had finally come out of the darkness about 4 years ago and was in a good place.  I was happy, I was stable, and for the first time in a long time I did not worry about money.  Recent events have occurred that have tested my psyche, my mental stability, my emotional well being, and above all, threatened to break the positivity that I have worked hard at for four years . 

First, the week of Thanksgiving I experienced what I thought was symptoms of a stroke, which may turn into a pinched nerve (Jury is still out).  I spent two days in the hospital, one of which was half of Thanksgiving Day, not knowing what was wrong with me.  I had a relatively good Christmas, despite my family lecturing me on my health, my eating habits, and the lack of exercise in my life.  I was experiencing some back pain and could not sit in the “designated” chair that was provided for me so I would not break any of the other furniture in the home sue to my girth.  So as you can probably imagine, I came home with GREAT self esteem, and hopes for a long, healthy life. 

January was pretty uneventful, I immersed myself in work, the NFL, NCAA, and planned my day for Super Bowl Sunday.  I had bought a large pack of wings and was going to prepare and cook them for the game, but I received a text from my ex, stating that she needed to go to the ER.  She was experiencing pain in her gut, and thought that she was battling a case of diverticulitis.  I dropped everything and took her to the ER.  There, I stayed with her all day, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.   You see, despite not being together anymore, she is still the only woman in the world that still understands me, that loves me for who I am, and despite the fact we could never be together again, was there for me when I was in the hospital not two months earlier.  The game didn’t matter, the wings didn’t matter, all that mattered was her, and there wasn’t a place in the world I would rather be than by her side offering support and care as best I could.  We ended up being there until after 10pm, we had a late dinner, finished watching the game, and I took her home.  It was a good day, despite the health issues, and I was glad to have been there for her.

This past week was when the straw that has the potential to break me finally came.  My family is who I lean on when times get rough.  I know that if I need advice on life, on direction, or on basically anything, I can pick up the phone and call the family for support and strength, tough love and simple advice.  One of those people was my cousin Bryan.  He is a retired Marine, a pillar of strength, and can provide a dose of reality that would smack you right across the face, if necessary.  He is the most level headed, stubborn, and in your face realist that I have ever known.  He is an avid dart player, a pool shark and caregiver to his 80+ year-old father, who had to bury his wife, my mothers sister, just 14 months ago.  Super Bowl Sunday, while I was standing by the side of the love of my life, he was taken to the hospital with severe back pain, and while he was there, had a stroke, debilitating him, and causing the doctors and nurses to scramble to figure out what had gone wrong.  it was then they discovered he had several blood clots in his brain, and quite possibly his kidneys.

The last update I received was from my mother on Monday, and up until Friday night had not heard anything.  I assumed he was ok, and that he would come out of it and would see him again. 
I went to bed before 9pm on Friday night (Don’t @ me, I’m old) and unbeknownst to me, my phone was in Airplane Mode.  Saturday morning I awoke to Facebook IM’s from the ex, stating that my mother had called her because she was unable to get hold of me.  I grabbed my phone, realizing that it was in airplane mode and discovered several messages form my mom, my father and Bryan’s brother stating that Bryan has passed away Friday night at 8:10 pm.  Without going into too much detail, let me just say this was a punch in the gut.  I have been through the death of family members before, but most, if not all, have been due to old age.  My mother’s family has a legacy of long life, with most living well into their 80’s or 90’s.  Bryan was 59, still young and with so much more to do in life, so this one hurts and could very well be a wake up call for me and my lifestyle.  Bryan wasn’t overweight, in fact he weighed more than 100 pounds less than I am right now, he was active, he was strong, and he was in control of his life and focused on the important things. 

I miss him dearly.  I can’t imagine the pain his father, his brother and his sister are experiencing right now, but all I have to compare it to is how I am feeling right now.  I am empty, I am heartbroken, and I don’t know how long it will take for me to get over this.  He was a mentor, he was a brother, and he was a friend, and I loved him very deeply.  His passing has hit me harder than the loss of my grandmother, uncle, aunt (his mother) and even my father.  I will get through this, but for now, I am sad and hurting….. feelings I don’t imagine will leave me anytime in the near future.  Thanks for reading…  and please keep me and my family in your prayers at this difficult time.

Kareem Hunt and the hypocrisy of the NFL

Kareem Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs for a video that surfaced last week showing him shoving and eventually kicking a woman at his home in Cleveland last February.  The team has known about this incident since shortly after it happened and yet it took TMZ releasing the video for them to release the star RB last week.  Ever since the Ray Rice incident a couple of years ago, the NFL has been under the proverbial microscope regarding domestic violence, and on the outside, they have promised to be more vigilant in its stance against it, but this most recent issue has proven to me, that the really don’t give TWO SHITS about domestic violence unless it is brought to light and broadcast by the media.  

Not only did the NFL not reach out to Cleveland authorities to see if there was a video tape, they also did not talk to any witnesses or ask authorities to provide a report of the incident so that they could review what took place and find out if there was any wrongdoing by one of its players.  Now, replace that last statement, inserting the Kansas City Chiefs in the place of the NFL and you can see exactly how serious the league and the teams under the NFL logo are taking the issue seriously.  The more incidents like this come to light, the more I realize that the NFL doesn’t care, they are only concerned with their bottom line and when their stars get into a situation they should not be in, they keep it hidden until some hack media outlet like TMZ finds a video and broadcasts it to the world, and it is only then that they take action.  This festered for for NINE months before the video was finally released and the response from the league was that although they had known about it they did not know there was a video. 

I call Bullshit!!  They knew, they have always known, but they decided Kareem Hunt was too big of a star (he was the NFL rushing leader in 2017) to allow this incident to detract from the money they could make off his name.  That is, until the media backlash was so strong they had to take action.  First the Chiefs by releasing him, then the NFL by putting him on the exempt list.  Don’t fool yourselves folks, the league is very good at protecting its star players until some rouge entity throws a wrench in the works and decides that right is right and they call the NFL on their hypocrisy.  Until the NFL practices what it preaches, it can never be trusted to honor its “public” commitment to focusing on combating domestic violence amongst its employees.

There is a track record and a history on this issue that the NFL has failed time and time again, and until Roger Goodell steps up to the mic to say that the NFL will have a “no exceptions” clause on the subject of domestic violence, there will continue to be other star players who will get a pass for their actions and face no repercussions until the tape becomes public of what they did.  I firmly believe this is true, and to prove my point, what do you think would happen to Tom Brady if a tape was released of him beating up Giselle, or if Aaron Rogers was shown to have beat up Danika Patrick (personally I think Danika would beat his ass).  What then would happen if the biggest stars in the league had their actions exposed for the world to see? 

I am going to end this on a positive note.  The great Amy Trask, former Chief executive of the Oakland Raiders from 1997 – 2013, who is currently a co-host of the CBS Sunday pregame show on CBS Sports Network, That Other Pregame Show (TOPS) Sunday’s at 8am eastern, stated that despite all of the ugliness we have seen there are still tremendous men in the NFL.  Men who stand up against domestic violence, do positive things in their communities, whether it be with the sick, the poor or just being a strong influence on kids, they provide the example of how men should behave in life and I would be remiss in not mentioning them.  I have great respect for those players that choose to be an example to others and fortunately for the NFL the number of players that set this example greatly outweigh those that don’t.  Kudos to them and Kudos to Mrs. Trask for pointing them out.  If Amy ever wanted to be Commissioner of the NFL, I would be first in line to give her my vote. 

Finally, my heart goes out to the victims who don’t have a voice.  I urge any and all that have experienced domestic violence from any NFL player, or for that matter, from ANY professional athlete and has been silenced by a professional sports team or league, speak up, find the nearest camera, and tell your story.  I’m listening…

Have a good night…

The Sports Nerd Returns….

So much to discuss, so much in the news, I really don’t know where to start.  I have been out of the loop in regards to the blogging world these days.  Outside of The Sports Nerds, I really haven’t posted or spoke about the sports world lately.  I don’t know what I have been waiting for, and to be honest, maybe I am just lazy.  But I have a lot going on in this scattered old brain of mine, and as a friend once told me..  Just write..  so here goes.. 

I use music to try and get motivated, From classics in the 60’s to more recent hits in the 90’s and 2000’s (any music after that isn’t music to me) I usually have Amazon Music on, with earbuds in my ears, trying to find the motivation and the words in my head to put them down in a blog post.  You see, I have a lot to say, I just don’t have the time or motivation to start typing.  I usually just come home, put a show on the Netflix or Amazon video and wait for Sunday Night to express my thoughts on the sports world.  Tonight, I have Amazon music on, playing my “Kick-Ass” playlist and trying to put my thoughts together in order to express what I am thinking….

I am a Browns fan…  I am an Indians Fan…  I am a Buccaneer Fan (to a point).. I am a Lightning Fan (that’s NHL to those uneducated)… I am an OSU Buckeye fan…  I hate the NBA…  I hate Futbal (Soccer) and I won’t apologize for any of it.  I call myself “The Sports Nerd”, because I love the emotion, the stress, the excitement, and the unknown of all sports.  It truly is a wonderful genre, and those that are not sports fans will never know the feeling of living and dying with your favorite spots teams.  It truly is a wonderful and terrifying experience all wrapped up in a little bow that can be opened not just at Christmas but 365 days a year.  You see…  I live and bleed as my sports teams go, whether it be “The Drive” against the Browns in 1984 or “The Fumble”, the sweet victory of the Bucs winning the Super Bowl in 2003, The Lightning winning The Stanley Cup in 2004, Cleveland losing the Browns in 1995, to getting them back in 1999 to the Indians losing the world Series in 1995, 1997 & 2016, it doesn’t matter, I will stick with my teams until I am dead.  The old adage of sport is “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”, words I have lived since the 70’s when I was old enough tot understand the excitement sports can bring, as well as the pain it can bring. 

With that being said… Let’s go and discuss recent events in the sports world..  the last couple of weeks thus far specifically… 

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the NHL with 41 total points and a 20-7-1 record.  This team is on fire.  they have won their last 3 and are 8-2 in their last 10 games.  I know it is only December, but I am looking forward to the playoffs already.  this is an exciting team, and hope they keep going with the Maple Leaf’s right on their tail.  Hey Jon Olson…  Looking forward to that Bolts-Leaf’s Eastern Conference Finals series…

The MLB Offseason for the Indians has seen them lose Josh Hamilton, who they picked up midseason last year, and now it looks like Bauer may be looking to leave as well.  The Indians have been the victim of being good the last few years, while at the same time seen the rise of the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees in the AL.  They are a 100 win team, but there are a few teams that seem to always have their number.  They need to solidify their pitching staff and maybe pick up a couple of really good bats in the offseason in order to get over the hump next season.  But as long as the Yankees and Red Sox continue to spend as much as they have spent, it doesn’t bode well for the Tribe.  I am afraid they are lost in the quagmire of high talent in the AL, but…  we’ll see..  2019 is a new year.. and another chance at an AL Central title… and another run at their first World Series since 1948.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to keep Jameis Winston as their #1 QB and let “Fitzmagic” die.  Jameis is the QB of the future and the front office needs to get  on the bandwagon.  I haven’t been very excited about the Bucs the last 10 years, simply because they haven’t provided anything to be excited about. However, if they get the defense shored up, and they rally around their QB they could be a good team. 

Moving on…  My heart is full of excitement, I am filled with hope, and I can see a bright future for the #1 team in my heart, my soul. and the hope of my fathers…  The Cleveland Browns are on the brink of being contenders again. With the addition of Baker Mayfield and a cast of quality players around him, the Browns are respectable again.  They had a 2-game winning streak going into the game against the Texans last week, and although they did not play well (hey Baker, maybe throwing 3 picks is not a good thing) I still have hope.  It has been a season filled with drama, the firing of both the head coach and the offensive coordinator, Hard Knocks, Josh Gordon, the retirement of possibly the best LT in the last 10 years, along with a 4-7-1 record, they have done better than I imagined.  They have been competitive in most of their games this year and I am thrilled with their progress. The future is bright in Cleveland.

Urban Meyer….  I called it on the show Sunday night… I knew he would retire…  I just had a feeling that this would be his last season.  The combination of the scandal surrounding Zach Smith and his health issues made this inevitable.  I am glad he is stepping down, the Buckeyes need to reboot and bring in a new regime, a fresh start, and move forward so that they can show they are among the elite in College Football.  Meyer will coach the Rose Bowl, something he has never done during his tenure and then step aside leaving Ryan Day as the head coach.  Day coached the Buckeyes while Meyer served his suspension the first three games of the season.  Hopefully Day can bring credibility, respect, and a sense of stability to the program.  I am hopeful for the future of OSU, and I honor Urban Meyer for what positive results he brought to the program..  specifically a National Championship in 2014 as well as a 7-0 record against Michigan.

I have more to say…  more specifically to the subject of domestic violence in the NFL, how it affects the player and fans… as well as the state of the league, the state of the political discord in this country, and other topics I will save for the next post… Right now I will leave with this…  The Washington Redskins will sign Josh Johnson as a backup QB to Mark Sanchez this week…  leaving the question… why is Colin Kaepernick still unemployed??? 

just sayin…

Reflection and Remembrance….

Today, as we sit back and reflect on what happened 17 years ago, I look back and think of where I was and what I was doing.  I was two days away from my 35th birthday, on vacation, and sitting in front of my computer, as I am now.  I was chatting with my “girlfriend” at the time on MSN Messenger, had either CNN or GMA on the tube.  I remember looking over at the TV and seeing smoke billowing from one of the twin towers.  I remember posting to Barb “Are you watching this?” and she saying “watching what?”  I told her to turn on the TV, a plane has crashed into one of the towers at the WTC.  I remember her saying “OMG” and at that point I moved away from the computer and for the rest of that week, I spent it in front of the TV, watching the aftermath and reactions to what had happened.  It is a time I will never forget, and as I look back on that time I look at how far we have come, and a a lot of what has happened since is sad, yet a lot of what has happened has allowed me to forge precious friendships that I will never forget and will honor the rest of my life.

One such friendship that has meant the most to me was of a women I met in a chatroom nearly 20 years ago.  Rhonda Merrill was a 30 year-old Indianapolis Colts fan that I met in an MSN Chatroom and I remember thinking that she was a little bit dizzy, yet behind that “typical blonde” persona was a warm, caring, beautiful person who was passionate not only about her chosen football team, but passionate with her friendships.  I found I could confide in her, joke around with her, and eventually trust her and love her like a baby sister.  Over the years I became protective of her, defended her from personal attacks, and looked to her for advice, for counsel, and when I needed to be lifted out of depression.  Rhonda became my closest friend, and I knew I could always count on her to be there for me when I needed her, and she could always count on me to be there for her when she needed me.

Rhonda experienced a lot of tragedy in her life, losing her mother and sister to a car accident, an accident in which Rhonda was a passenger.  She experienced a life of medical issues due to the accident, details of which I will not reveal, but know that she suffered physically for the majority of her life.  She lost her dad a few years ago, something I don’t think she ever recovered from, and yet, she moved on, remaining positive and being a happy person, enlightening me in the process.  She eventually lost her brother, but not to death, just as a part of her life.  she never told me the specifics around what happened, but I could tell that it hurt her to her core.  We went into business together (online of course) and for a while it was like we were back in MSN Chat all over again and that we would be successful together and become rich and famous (HA!!) eventually I lost interest and moved on to trying to be successful in the real world, after all I had bills to pay. 

The following few years we  become distant, life got in the way and It seemed like I had taken our friendship for granted.  We spoke for the first time in years about three years ago and it was then she revealed to me that she had ovarian cancer.  I was heartbroken, and I didn’t know how to take it.  She seemed optimistic and assured me that she was going to fight this and win.  I believed her, after all, this was a woman that I had admired for over a decade, respected her for her intelligence, her warmth, and her need to put others feelings and needs above her own.  She had become a somewhat successful graphic artist, doing things with photoshop that I could only dream of.  Life moved on again and it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that we reconnected, both of us apologizing to the other for not keeping in contact.  She told me that she was still in treatment and despite the fact that her health was still and issue, it was like time had never passed us by, and we picked up right where we left off.  It was comforting to have her back in my life and I felt whole again.

A few weeks went by, and she called me to tell me that the cancer had now spread to her brain.  I was devastated, and I feared the loss of my dear friend would be the punishment of not staying in contact with her, the guilt was overwhelming, and I didn’t know if I could bear it.  She told me she was scared, and through the tears that were forming in my eyes I told her that it would be ok, and that I was here for her whenever she needed me, no matter the day, the time ore the reason.  Told her to pick up the phone and call me.  We talked a few times over the course of the following weeks and then I get a call from Bob, her boyfriend/fiancé a couple of weeks ago telling me that she was now in Hospice and that they are only giving her a few months at the most.  My heart rose to my throat and I realized that I was losing her.  This past weekend, shortly after 6pm eastern Rhonda passed away.  She was 47.  I have lost a close friend, a baby sister, and a woman I have admired for nearly 20 years.  She didn’t deserve this, and the anger I feel towards a God that would allow one of his children to go through all of the heartache she has endured her entire life to end up suffering to a painful and debilitating disease is immeasurable..  It just isn’t fair…   

I have a lot of anger towards this entire situation, and that is for me to work through and get over.  I am not much for placing a “message” in my posts…  but for those of you that read this..  embrace and treasure your friendships, because you just never know when they will be gone. 

Goodbye Rho..  I miss you…  I love you.. and I hope to see you again…

The Sports Nerd

August 30, 2018

I promised a post for tonight, and here it is.  I don’t have a specific topic, nor do I have a rant prepared for this post.  I do want to express my heartfelt condolences to an extended family of mine.  Harry Jones passed away in his sleep last night.  He was 91 years old.  He was the brother of my uncles first wife.  He was a remarkable man.  for many years he lived across the street from My uncle Paul (my Mothers Brother) and was a beacon of humor, of kindness, and of decency.  Harry had a contagious laugh, he could talk your ears off for hours upon end, and he was one of the most kind men I ever had the pleasure of meeting.  My heart goes out to the Jones family, and especially to my cousin Suzie, who is also a wonderful human being and kind soul. 

couple of quick hits…

Don’t sleep on the Indians AL. they are a sleeper for the World Series.. Just sayin..

The Browns will win 8 games this year so says First Ballot NFL Hall Of Famer Joe Thomas… I agree

37 days til opening day in the NHL

One week til opening day in the NFL (Go Falcons)

Josh Gordon will have 1500 receiving yards (don’t judge me)

The Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, and the Seattle Seahawks will all miss the playoffs this season.

I’ll have more tomorrow…  RIP Harry.. thank you for everything…