Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Time to take a good look in the mirror

I call it the Mirror Test.

Early in my newspaper career, I received some great advice from my all-time favorite sports columnist. Ralph Wiley starred at the Oakland Tribune and Sports Illustrated before branching out into television, major book deals and the lecture circuit.

Upon meeting Wiley for the first time, he stressed the importance of being true to myself and my profession. To paraphrase, “If you can look in the mirror without flinching, you're more than halfway to the finish line.” Wide-eyed and fresh out of college, I committed those words to memory.

As The Blade's new sports columnist, I will spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.

I expect to like what I see. I will do everything to make certain that you will, too.

In each column, you will receive my honest opinions and observations regarding sports in and around Toledo - and everywhere else on the map.

Some days you may agree with what I write so strongly you will consider naming your first-born son after me. Other days you may disagree with my opinion and feel obliged to tell me so in no uncertain terms (remember, this is a family newspaper).

Either way, that's great. That's what sports is all about. Your opinion. My opinion. Everybody has one. Let me know what you think. I want to know. I need to know.

After working for six newspapers and writing more than 3,000 articles in 20 years, I still haven't found anything that gives me more satisfaction than writing about sports and the personalities behind the games. Some things you never forget:

  • Breaking bread with Bobby Bowden, Florida State's unpretentious football coach, who talked animatedly and without shame while grits dribbled down his chin.

  • Sitting at midcourt when Laurel County won the Kentucky High School state championship on a halfcourt shot at the buzzer in front of 23,000 fans at Rupp Arena.

  • Writing a critical article about my former high school gym teacher, who displayed unsportsmanlike behavior after losing a football game. He didn't flunk me; I got an `A' in his class.

  • Discovering that most people attending the Kentucky Derby are not big horse racing fans. They go for the parties.

  • Watching running back Emmitt Smith as a college freshman and realizing the first time he carried the ball that I was witnessing greatness.

  • Feeling ashamed to be from Toledo after fans cheered enthusiastically for John Rocker at a Mud Hens game.

  • Covering my ears to drown out the deafening noise at Chicago Stadium following a Michael Jordan slam dunk.

  • Interviewing legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson and being stunned when he asked me to say a few words to his team after practice.

  • Trying to remain objective upon watching Toledo football players weep for joy following their 24-6 victory at Penn State this season.

    In my nearly two years at The Blade, I've discovered that Toledo is a sports town with an inferiority complex because there are no professional teams. We're better than that.

    The Mud Hens are building a new stadium downtown and so what if they're not the Detroit Tigers?

    The UT football team set a Glass-Bowl attendance record and had the fifth-largest crowd in Mid-American Conference history against Marshall this year.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Take a good look in the mirror, Toledo. Do you like what you see?

    I do.

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