Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

Catching A Draft

April 26, 2013

Thursday April 25th, 2013 – Niles, IL

   What is it about the National Football League that has addictive powers? It’s frightening, but if I could figure out that secret ingredient I’d use it myself and get rich. Something about that sport has turned hundreds of millions of Americans into brain dead zombies who are hooked for life.

   Unfortunately, I find myself in that category and no matter how hard I fight it I seem to always come back – and I’m sure that’s exactly how they want it. I am a lifer, and my drug of choice has always been the Green Bay Packers. There are 31 other flavors available, but that one is mine.

   Once again as I have for too many years to count, I purposely blocked out my evening to watch ESPN TV coverage of the entire first round of the NFL draft. I’ve done it as long as I can recall it being televised, and I have to say ashamedly that I really enjoy it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

   Talk about your quintessential non event being overhyped, pumped full of hot air and force fed to a shallow stupid public – this is absolutely it. It’s such a brilliantly slick marketing job I wish I would have thought of it. Part of me is embarrassed I like it so much, and another part is jealous.

   The modern day King of Ballyhoo Vince McMahon himself couldn’t have pulled an event like this out of thin air, and I’m sure he’s probably jealous too. The NFL really put one over on all of us, and we’re thanking them for doing it by showing up in droves to watch it like a Super Bowl.

   My friend Marc Schultz is as hopelessly hooked as I am, and he invited me over to watch it at his house. It’s become an annual tradition that his wife Audrey cooks us steaks and we sit around in front of the TV from opening pick to the very end. It’s a total geek fest, but we both live for it.

   Marc is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, and even that doesn’t stop me from going there each and every year. We actually have intelligent conversations about what each team needs, and we try to predict who each one will take. We’ve never been right yet, but it’s still fun and we will probably keep doing it as long as they keep televising it – but why would it stop? Halfwits like us watch it.

   All the whole overblown thing boils down to is just a glorified version of picking sides as kids, but there’s something about it that attracts millions of mooks across America that should have all kinds of better things to do. I can’t tell you for the life of me who represents me in Congress, but I do know in what spot my Packers were drafting (26) and that’s embarrassing. I am SO hooked.

  The NFL knows this, so they’ve stretched the whole thing out over three days. Now it’s a whole weekend I have to set aside – and stupid me I probably will. I tell myself I’ll just put it on to find out who the Packers get in the later rounds, but who am I kidding? As always, I’ll end up getting sucked in once more by Mel Kiper Jr.’s hypnotic hyperbole and before I’ll know it it’s Monday.

   There were actual games going on in both baseball and basketball tonight, but I didn’t pay any attention to any of it. Why would I want to watch actual GAMES – some of them playoff games – when I can eat steak with a friend and watch as pampered oafs get chosen to rake in zillions?

   There’s just something not right about any of it, but I can’t deny I had a total blast from as soon as I walked in the door to the minute I left after the last pick of the first round. The food was very good, and the company was better. Marc and I watched every single pick and it was a pleasure to do it. Not one down of football was played, but the NFL still made money. THAT’S marketing!

Drifting And Drafting

June 25, 2010

Thursday June 24th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Boy, do I have a lot of work to do. The more I get done, the more that needs to be done. I sure wish I’d had better vision years ago, I’d be a powerhouse by now. But I didn’t. And I’m not. On second thought, my vision was ok. It was my follow through that was weak.

For whatever failings I may have experienced in life, looking back on it I think it was an absolute lack of leadership that really caused me to drift. My grandfather was a wonderful mentor, but he died six months after I graduated high school. That’s probably the time for the most need for a father figure, but I was all alone in the world and made weak choices.

Granted, sooner or later the blame has to stop about where a person came from, and I’m not going to harp on it any more than I have to. Yeah, I had a few bad breaks, but I had a big hand in blowing a lot of other opportunities all on my own. Part of it was because of a burning inner rage I really didn’t know was there until years later. It affected my choices.

I was always trying to get back at someone or show someone I was good for something, and all that was a gigantic waste of productive time. Nobody cared. Had I been smart and spent my time focused on good things rather than sticking it to others, I’d be a big success rather than sitting here wondering what went wrong. I know I’m not alone in that either.

A lot of people screw up in life, but I think the real trick is how to bounce back and get a second chance. Maybe that’s all part of what we’re here to learn, and if it is I think I am finally discovering my purpose. I really AM learning, even if it comes with a major price.

The only thing that concerns me is if I have enough time left to make any real difference in anyone’s lives. I sure hope so, but I keep seeing all the time I wasted trying to figure all of this out and it crushes my hopes. I feel like I’m just getting started now, when in reality I should have been at this point about twenty years ago. I’m starting the race way too late.

I thought about that as I watched the NBA draft on ESPN tonight. I’m a sucker for those things no matter what the sport. I see all these young kids with high hopes and dreams get their name called, knowing they have NO idea what’s in store for them in the real world.

Most of them have been pampered since grade school, and think the pro career is going to work out without a glitch and they’ll be happy ever after. There have to be thousands of stories of kids that lost it all in just a few years or fizzled out and never made it at all.

Pro sports is probably the only thing even more brutal than show business. Well, it IS a form of show business but it’s different in that once the skills are gone, they’re absolutely gone forever. Comedy and music and acting at least have a little more margin for error.

Some of those kids tonight will get cut or traded or have to play in Europe or get caught up in drugs or booze or who knows what and look back when they’re my age and wonder what they should have done differently. I wish them well, but I‘ve got my own problems.

I thought about that too as I sat around sorting out boxes I’ve been meaning to sort for a long time. I’d been planning on this night for a while, knowing I needed some time alone to just think my life through. I tried to throw as much away as I could, and I’m glad I did.

A lot of it was paperwork and notebooks with unachieved goals written in them. I threw all kinds of papers out that had headers like ‘Goals for 1997’ with ambitious projects that I never got to, and part of that really made me feel like a failure. That time is gone forever and whatever I did instead sure didn’t make up for me not achieving what I had intended.

Part of the reason was that I was either getting fired from radio stations across America or having to testify against my best friend in a bank robbery trial. All of that put a damper on life and clouded even more what was already a blurry vision of what life was about. If I had the clarity of thinking I have now back then, I would be in a totally different place.

But I’m sure a lot of other people say that too. Too bad. We didn’t have that clarity then and that’s why we all did what we did. I for one regret it horribly, but what can I do? Who do I blame besides myself? I can’t blame my grandfather, I’m sure he didn’t want to die.

In a perfect world, he’d have been my mentor through my turbulent twenties and helped me get a grasp for what both the real world and show business were all about. I needed an experienced guide to coach me through the difficulty of getting established, knowing that I had some actual talent that could go to a higher level. I would have had a different life.

C. Cardell Willis was a wonderful showbiz mentor, but no offense to him he wasn’t the big time guy I needed. He gave me all he had and I appreciate it beyond words, but as far as helping me take it to the big time, he couldn’t help me after a certain point. I was once again all by myself, and there’s no way anybody can do it alone. I lacked a higher mentor.

It’s extremely disappointing to think about all this, but it’s true. The only good I can see coming of it is that I’ll hopefully get to be a super mentor to some bright kid coming up in a new generation. I know now what to do, but it took way too long to learn it. Some kid is out there in the same position I was, and if I can offer even a bit of wisdom I‘m happy to.

That kid may not even be born yet, OR, he or she could be reading it right now without me even having a clue. I surely hope so, even if I never know it. That’s the right thing for anyone to do – pass good energy forward. If I can help someone else, I’ll always make it a point to do so. That’s what real giving is all about. I hope others can avoid my mistakes.

I would LOVE to have had the chance to be drafted by any big time pro sports league so I could have felt the thrill of hearing my name called by the commissioner and walk down the aisle smiling from ear to ear with camera lights flashing and TV analysts touting me.

That’s not going to happen, at least in this life. Maybe in a parallel universe I’m a Hall of Famer with a drawer full of championship rings and a fat bank account, but in this life I’ve got to worry about paying rent every month. I hope I learn whatever lessons I need to.

Schaden-Favre

January 26, 2010

Monday January 25th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m still buzzing from the delightful outcome of the whole Brett Favre interception situation yesterday. I got to savor it over and over on ESPN many times, and it just gets that much sweeter every time I watch it. Like a good P-Funk record, I never get sick of it. I know it shouldn’t make a bit of difference in my life, but it does.

It’s sick and twisted, but I think I’m getting as much or more enjoyment out of this than if the Packers had actually made it to the Super Bowl, and that scares me. The word for it is ’schadenfreude’, which is German and it means to rejoice in the misfortunes of others.

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t feel that way, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. I turned on both WTMJ and ESPN 540 in Milwaukee today and there were oodles of callers just as pleased as I was. I still felt a little sheepish for loving it so much, but not as bad as I did yesterday when it put me in a state of near euphoria. Why is this so powerful?

I really tried to figure that out all day. To me, Brett Favre represents all those jocks back in school who not only weren’t nice, but they got all the chicks too. Then, they mistreated them but that made the chicks want them more. I guess it’s also a younger brother thing.

He represents the big brother that gets to do what I wanted, but doesn’t appreciate how good he has it and ends up pissing it all away. That’s what he did to the Packers from my viewpoint and I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Then, he got TWO chances that most others don’t get and it got to be sickening. First it was the Jets, then the Viqueens.

I guess it was part jealousy and part envy and another part cold hard realization that my lottery ticket was never punched with the numbers Brett Favre got. Even though he blew it in the eyes of many, he’s still got a ton of supporters who stand by him no matter what. He’s a lightning rod for attention and opinion and that brings with it all the spoils of war.

There were still a few thick headed morons who called the radio stations today trying to defend everything this selfish hillbilly did and continues to do. He’s got a charisma I will never have, and few people ever will. He was blessed with the ability to play football in a way that captivates the masses, and it monopolizes the airwaves. I’ve grown weary of it.

I wish he would just go away, and hopefully this will make him do it. Even Jerry Agar, who I have known for twenty years, took it upon himself to expostulate his theory on why the loss wasn’t Brett Favre’s fault. I just nodded and smiled. He plays Mr. Big Time radio arguer of political points and he’s good at it, but not this time. Brett Favre blew this one.

Jerry sat and smugly defended how it was the fumbles of Adrian Peterson and blah blah blah until I just tuned him out and replayed the vision in my head and recharged myself to the euphoric place I was in most of the rest of the day. I don’t care about anything else but the fact that justice won out, and the high fallutin’ hillbilly has to take the brunt of this for the moment, and I couldn’t help but really enjoy every single solitary second of all of it.

OK, that’s great. Now what? My own life is in need of a major overhaul but here I’m all wigged out wasting what’s left of my youth thinking about some stupid ass football game. This is wasted energy, and I know it. I’ll bet nobody in Haiti cares even a little bit if some millionaire crybaby had his ego ruffled up by losing a game. They’ve got bigger issues.

I need to have bigger issues too. Football is entertainment, and I have to admit this was one of the most entertaining scenarios I’ve ever seen. But it’s over, or at least I need for it to be over with me. Brett Favre has all the resources he’ll ever need for the rest of his life, and so does his family. He’s a special talent, and very few will ever get to experience that.

Every kid dreams of playing sports or being an astronaut or a movie star or maybe even a comedian, but how many actually get to DO it? A whole lot less than dream of it, that’s an icy fact. I was never even close to being good enough to play any sport professionally, and that hurts to admit even now. No matter how long I live, that’s a dream that’s OVER.

Maybe that’s why this feels so good. Brett Favre’s dream is going to be over eventually and then he’ll just be another schmuck like the rest of us, no matter what he does. Yes, he may try broadcasting or fart around with coaching or some little gravy job someone surely will offer him, but it won’t be the same thrill as getting to be the king of all pro football.

The fact is, the guy had a world class life that millions only dream of. He’s human like the rest of us and however he handled himself is what he did. Maybe in future years he’ll regret it, maybe not. I don’t have anything personal against the guy, and just because I am glad he got knocked down a peg, none of this should capture my attention. Who cares?

I’ve made more than my own share of mistakes that I’ve got to deal with. I don’t have a huge mansion and more money than ten banks waiting for me to spend on any whim I can think of. I know that won’t guarantee happiness, but it sure could help a guy search for it.

On a much smaller scale, I’ve been blessed with the ability to do comedy that not many others ever get. I know hundreds of people that look at me jealously because I took a huge risk and went out and chased my own dreams. Maybe I can’t throw a football like a Brett Favre, but I doubt if he can go up and blow a room of strangers away at a comedy club.

I’ve had so many people tell me things over the years like “I’d give ANYTHING to be a comedian full time.” I thought that too when I started, but I actually did it. It wasn’t what I expected, but there are parts of it that are really great. In fact, it’s what keeps me alive in the difficult times. At least I’ve got that. Many people just drift through life totally empty.

I know in my heart I have a lot more entertainment inside of me. I’m a solid comic and a competent radio personality too. Maybe I won’t be able to thrill millions the way a Brett Favre or any other star athlete can, but I’m just not built for that. I never was. It would be like a squirrel trying to enter a cockfight. That’s not what they’re made for. I was made to entertain people, but not by throwing a football. As disappointing as that may be, I do still have some work to do on my own life and career. Football isn’t my canvas. It’s comedy.