Archive for the ‘customer service’ Category

How To Get Along When Opinions Are Diametrically Opposed

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Nothing like a Supreme Court justice dying to drive our country further apart. With the primaries pitting people on the same side against each other, making for, not even arguably, the worst mudslinging campaigns ever, we needed something to rally people around, not further illuminate folks’ ugly sides. Antonin Scalia’s shocking death manage to unite Democrats and Republicans – so they can get back to understanding who the real enemy is. Each other.

As I’ve referenced in the other political blogs that have been posted in this space, the biggest problem of any group, organization, team or company is not understanding the basic concept for success: What’s right is more important than who’s right. And that is where the country stands when politics is involved. Other areas, too, but it’s violated nowhere more than in the political arena.

As sad as “Nino” Scalia’s death is, what has been revealed about the friendship between the unlikeliest pair of justices, the uber conservative Scalia and his liberal counterpart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Seldom were the two on the same side of an argument, especially if the case had anything to do with interpreting the Constitution. Yet, a bond existed between the two justices and their families, including vacationing together. In the world that currently exists, how can that be?

When asked about that very topic, here’s what they had to say. First, Scalia. “If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake.” Oh, if only you had shouted that from the mountaintops, Chief Justice, before your untimely passing.

Did Ginsburg share similar strong feelings for her counterpart? Even more so. “My opinion is ever so much better because of his stinging dissent. Someday, we will go back to having the kind of legislature that we should, where members, whatever party they belong to, want to make the thing work and cooperate with each other to see that that will happen.” For someone who was born in the 1940s (the late 40s), that type of dialogue bring back memories from my youth – listening to politicians discuss issues rather than personalities, topics that strengthened the nation as opposed to tearing it apart. Synergy was the by-product of interactions back then.

The friendship between those two brilliant scholars was based on mutual respect and common interests that transcended their ideological differences. I mean, if a candidate (since we’re in an election year) can’t take criticism from an opponent without resorting to personal attacks, maybe . . . he or she is wrong. As stated earlier, Scalia and Ginsburg regularly were on opposite sides in matters that divide the nation — including abortion, affirmative action, campaign funding, the death penalty, the environment, gay rights and gun rights. Yet, they managed to somehow not only get along, but respect each other. Our politicians should be ashamed.

Outside of work, the two justices focused on what they had in common – and managed to leave “work” at the office. Unfortunately, in order to win an election, or simply engage in a discussion of an issue, the vast majority today no longer believe in that strategy, as we have witnessed from the political debates of both parties.

As philosopher, social critic and satirist, Mokokoma Mokhonoana’s puts it:

“We usually learn from debates that we seldom learn from debates.”

 

The Importance of NBA All-Star Weekend

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Unlike the NFL, the NBA holds its all-star game in the middle of the regular season. The recently “played” NFL Pro Bowl was as lackluster an affair as it always is. The difference is that it was scheduled for the week between the conference playoffs and the Super Bowl, at a time when football fans are beginning to go through withdrawal.

Major League Baseball also has its all-star game at the season’s midpoint but at least they try to make it interesting by awarding the winning side home field advantage in the World Series. First of all, in baseball that isn’t so much an advantage as it’s made out to be. Secondly, can you imagine if the NBA East had beaten the West (to do so, you first have to stop laughing) and the Warriors broke the NBA record of 72-10, yet didn’t have home court advantage throughout the Finals?

NBA All-Star weekend isn’t only about the game. It’s a two-day smorgasbord of events, e.g. a first vs. second year players (for players from the U.S. it might as well be called this past year’s one-and-dones vs. the ones from the year before), a dunk contest (which long ago outlived its intrigue), a three-point shooting contest (which could have been held on any off day in Oakland), a skills challenge – supposed to show big guys can do what guards can do (which big guys have been claiming for years – hey, when did an accomplished post up game become so disdainful) and a celebrity contest (to give people in other professions the opportunity to show the other 95% of the country that you can be a multi-millionaire doing something other than basketball). On second thought, how about a game between the owners (one of them required to play with his shoelaces tied together to make it fair)?

The crown jewel of the weekend is the actual “game” itself. This year’s fiasco battle ended 196-173. For those people who claim soccer isn’t popular because it doesn’t have enough scoring, I doubt whether they’d use the 2016 NBA All-Star Game as exhibit A in an argument of why basketball is a superior spectator sport. I have friends who are basketball “lifers” (including some who actually work for NBA teams) who refuse to watch the All-Star Game.

To make the game have more meaning, maybe have the players play for two charities (voted for by the fans – just like they do for the starters) and each gets x number of dollars times (10,000?) per point scored (paid by, what, a GoFundMe account)? Better yet, funded by the owners (tell them we’ll do away with the owners game to avoid the embarrassment). Maybe have eight charities and each one gets the proceeds from a pre-selected quarter. How about, after expenses, charities get ticket revenue or parking or concessions or souvenirs. Give the fans something to cheer for – other than just the guys they voted in, who, at their agent’s advice (since he or she gets a percentage), receive bonuses for playing in the game.

One other suggestion – for the sake of accuracy:

“Don’t refer to it as a game because it’s the farthest thing from it.”

 

Getting Old Can Be a Shock to One’s System

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

College basketball this weekend. Career winding down. This blog will return on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Last night my wife and I went to a watch a high school play. The reason wasn’t because we were dying to check out the scholastic version of Guys and Dolls – although the kids did do a sensational job. It was because the daughter of our close friends, Dave Severns (an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers) and his wife, Julie (an administrator with the Fresno Unified School District) was a member of the cast. Last night was either the fourth or fifth of Hailey’s (nine) plays we’d attended, each of her performances very professional. The young lady has talent.

The most amazing thing, though, about seeing the high school senior is remembering her when she was a tiny baby. For somebody who’s moved 16 times since graduating college, I’ve now lived in Fresno over 20 years. Once adults pass 30 years of age (give or take a few), as long as their health stays intact, nearly all, to me anyway, look basically the same. What is shocking is going years without seeing friends’ children. A youngster whom you last saw as a three-year-old who is now 12. It’s then that the old saw, “time flies” takes on a whole new meaning.

In my book Life’s A Joke, I related a story of aging from a different standpoint. In it I gave three examples of getting older virtually slapping you in your face. One is walking outside when it just begins to rain and feeling a drop make a direct hit on your scalp, when in the past, it was hardly noticeable because of your hair. A second sign of getting on in years is when you’re in a grocery store and somebody’s child refers to you as “that man,” when you used to be “that kid” or just “that boy.”

The third example I note is when your family doctor is younger than you. Doctors had always been older, wiser men in whom you had great faith. This experience happened to me when my wife and I had just gotten married and we moved to Toledo. As with most relocations, you ask for referrals for things like a doctor, dentist, financial planner, gardener, housekeeper, realtor, lawyer – whoever is necessary, depending upon your personal situation. I had recently turned 39 and it was my first visit to our new family doctor – one that will forever be etched in my memory.

I went in for a physical and when the doctor walked in, I was kind of hoping he’d say, “My dad will be with you in a minute.” Turned out he, in fact, was the doc and he had me strip down to only my underpants – back then, tightie-whities. He performed a thorough physical and, as we were concluding, he offhandedly posed the question, “So, any problems concerning your health?”

I gave what I considered the stock reply, “Other than being a little overweight, everything’s OK.” Upon hearing my reply, he turned his head toward a chart on his desk, not even glancing at the nearly naked patient who had just spoken, and scanned a chart.

“Hmm, let’s see. 5’11”.” He then subtracted the optimum weight on the chart from what the scale said when his nurse had me weigh in. “According to the table, you need to lose about 36 pounds.”

Now, even when I was in optimum shape, I always had a bit of a gut. However, to those readers who know me, you can realize how stunned I was. For people who have never made my acquaintance or seen me, let’s just say that if I were to lose 36 pounds, my eyes would be in single file. All I could manage was, “Are you serious?” Keep in mind I was standing not five feet from this guy – in my skivvies – and he has yet to glance up from that weight chart. Suffice to say, my confidence in this joker is rapidly waning.

At that point, his medical school training must have kicked in and he instructed me to “wrap your thumb and middle finger around your wrist.” I did so and, after finally looking up, saw there was about a 3/4″ gap between the two. “Oh, . . . big boned,” he remarked. “Well, that means to add another 10% to the optimum chart weight.” He did the calculations and concluded, “Yeah, you should lose 7 or 8 pounds.”

Since that time, every one of my doctors have been younger than I am and I’m pleased to report I’ve been happy and confident with each. That 7-8 pounds has morphed into 12-14 (according to his chart, I’m probably about 50-55 pounds over the limit).

As far as that doctor, let’s just say that I went home shortly thereafter, never to return. In other words:

“The last time I walked out of his office was . . . the last time I walked out of his office.”

The Blake Griffin Affair Might Actually Work Out for All Concerned

Friday, January 29th, 2016

If we didn’t know better, we’d think that there had to have been drug use involved in the fight between Blake Griffin and a member of the Clippers equipment staff. According to reports – including Griffin’s apology in which he states the person he beat on was “someone I care about” – his behavior was totally out of character for Griffin.

Please don’t think I’m comparing these two cases in terms of severity but the comments that came out of the beating in Toronto were similar to the infamous O.J. Simpson case in this one respect. When the tragedy occurred in Brentwood, I was on the basketball staff at USC (in fact, the “slow speed car chase happened on my birthday). Nearly everybody was of the belief that Simpson murdered his ex-wife and her friend.

That opinion was not shared by several people who were long-time Trojan employees – and their feelings had nothing to do with any evidence. “He worked too hard at being O.J.,” was the common refrain by these folks. “He was so concerned about his image.” From his Hertz commercials and other endorsements to his acting career, O.J. was a guy who was going to one of a select few – athletes who continue to hear cheers from the public after they retire from their sport.

Along the same line of reasoning, Griffin has been working overtime on his image, as anyone who’s seen his Kia commercials would attest. Griffin also is endorsed by Nike and Subway, making for quite a bit of outside income. In addition, there is a rumor of a Space Jam 2 with Griffin replacing Michael Jordan (although LeBron James’ performance in Trainwreck might push Blake to an understudy role). So, to “go off” on a friend seems very much out of character for someone so conscious of “what people think.”

Another rumor, however, has also surfaced – that of a possible trade between the Clips and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Blake Griffin for Kevin Durant. Think about it. Other than the guy who got his face pummeled in the (one-sided) fight, everybody wins.

The embarrassing incident in Toronto has the Clippers taking several steps backward – after all the positive vibes they’ve been emitting since the humiliating Donald Sterling controversy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that the Clippers’ terse statement that was released was not only signed off by head coach and team president, Doc Rivers, but by owner, Steve Ballmer, as well. You don’t accumulate a net worth of $22.7 billion by tolerating tomfoolery. In the basketball world, Griffin has the reputation as a true diva, an act that can be condoned as long as he’s putting up massive numbers and the team is winning. Not to have him for an additional 4-6 weeks just when he was ready to return could be the proverbial straw.

The one team who would not only take Griffin – and his new image – but would welcome him would be Oklahoma City. “Prodigy returns to his roots” would be a welcome headline in OKC – the people there quite possibly have the same attitude toward Blake that the SC people initially did for O.J. Other than an incident in Las Vegas in which charges were dropped, this is the only other miscue to soil a pretty clean citizen. A pretty clean native Oklahoma citizen – with an incredible skills and a work ethic to match.

Couple this with the feeling that Durant could opt out after the season and the Thunder could lose him without compensation – a guy who is unequivocally loved in Oklahoma – and trading one beloved star for a guy who, prior to this recent off-the-court problem, many were calling the best power forward in the game, would make things alright in a hurry. Maybe even mean it could keep Russell Westbrook in a Thunder uni, assuming their games meshed. Ask any knowledgeable basketball person and you’ll undoubtedly hear there’s no doubt those two would get along fine alongside each other.

Although the Clippers have been playing very well recently, it’s fool’s gold to think they can make a run at a title without Blake Griffin. KD would certainly be a suitable replacement. Obviously, the Clips would want a guarantee that Durant would stay beyond the one year obligation he would have. However, if there was a franchise that could take a gamble, it’s the Clippers, due to 1 – location (LA serves as off-season residences for many NBA ballers, independent of which team is paying them – for apparent reasons), 2 – roster (changing partners from Westbrook to Chris Paul is more than palatable, after all CP3 is the president of the NBAPA in addition to being an elite point guard), 3 – coach (Doc is established, classy, has a championship on his resume – and is also the president, so there’s coaching stability) and 4 – owner (nobody boasts the combination of mega money, being a huge fan and not meddling than Ballmer).

When a situation like this takes place, the main concerns are for the players and the team. After all, that’s who fans root for. The victim – and, by all accounts, he was a victim, e.g. there have been no negative remarks attached to the member of the equipment staff – is often overlooked. With Ballmer’s compassion (after all, the guy is his employee too), believe that poor guy will be fairly compensated, so as long as he’s suffered no permanent damage, in this case:

“All’s well that ends. Period.”

Someone Must Be Looking Out for My Wife and Me

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Rare mid-week game. This blog will return on Friday, Jan. 29.

If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you’ve already seen this, as I posted it yesterday. This version, however, is a little more detailed.

Unless you’re someone whose accomplishments transcend time, e.g. George Washington, Jonas Salk, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, etc., your legacy tends to be your kids. This past week our two sons made my wife, Jane, and I proud beyond words (although anyone who knows me realizes that what comes next will naturally be . . . plenty of words).

Our older son, Andy (27), has been gainfully employed ever since he graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2011. This statement sounds somewhat absurd (after all, isn’t that why you go to college?) but with today’s business climate, it’s actually quite a feat. His jobs have all been in the sales field, in particular, software.

He first worked at a company called cBeyond, “a provider of managed technology services to small and medium-sized businesses.” It was an incredibly tough job, but the perfect entry level position for a guy who was a new college graduate. He had quotas for both calls made and business cards obtained, i.e. inside and outside activity. It was a real grind. When inside, it was constant calling. Out of the office, Andy was instructed to walk past “No Solicitation” signs, enter businesses (small and medium-sized) and give a pitch, with the goal of getting business cards from the owners. While the job was extremely frustrating, the training was sensational – and has proven to be invaluable.

From cBeyond, he moved to Booker whose service was “Cloud-based business management” (whatever that means). He sold (inside only) software to beauty salons, health spas and like companies. When he left Booker, he had another inside sales position, this one at Kareo. His clientele were doctors and physical therapists. (Note: Don’t quote me on any of this as I’m sure I’m doing a disservice or misrepresenting exactly what the companies were or what his jobs entailed.) What I do know is that, for both jobs, each month he would have a quota and, nary a month would pass when he didn’t hit that quota – which, I would imagine, led to his being contacted for his next – and current – place of employment.

A week ago Monday, Andy moved up, way up, in the world of business when was hired as an account executive at Salesforce. For those of you who have never heard of Salesforce, it’s a $6 billion company which, this past year, was ranked 8th in Fortune magazine’s “100 best company to work for.” Nice.

Not to be outdone by his older brother, our only other child, Alex (22), achieved a significant milestone. Alex is a senior co-captain of California State University, Monterey Bay’s basketball team and, this past Saturday night, he broke the school record for points scored in a career – with nine games to go (not including post season play). He already holds the record for most steals in a career.

Cal State Monterey Bay is the newest Cal State school, thus without a whole lot of hoops history. In fact, Alex could end up in the top five of nearly every major statistical category (points, rebounds, assists and steals) other than blocked shots – which would be quite an accomplishment.

What separates Alex even further is that he is also the record holder for career points scored at his high school (Buchanan HS in Clovis, CA). In fact, Alex left Buchanan as the sixth all-time scorer in California’s entire Central Valley. His mark of over 2,200 points is the highest total for any male player from either the Clovis or Fresno Unified School Districts.

Count us as two very fortunate parents. As any parent will tell whoever is listening:

“The most difficult job, yet most rewarding, anyone can have is that of raising children.”

What Does the NFL Have Against Defensive Backs?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Another weekend of watching college basketball. This blog will return on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

On a number of occasions in this space I’ve offered up the reason why professional athletes make the grandiose amounts of money they do. Absurd ticket prices, exorbitant cost of “team gear” and ridiculous cash deals that television makes with the leagues. It all comes down to us – the consumer. Because we’ll pay the ticket prices (unless we can cop some reduced rate ducats or, even, freebies) and then still dump a boatload of dough for parking, concessions and souvenirs. Sure, the advertisers back up the truck to pay for commercial time but, think about it, they didn’t become giant, successful conglomerates by overspending on TV ads. They do it because advertising works, i.e. we buy what they’re selling.

Other than the satisfaction the guy on the street gets by wearing a jersey with someone else’s name on it (by the way, that ought to be illegal for anybody over 25 years of age), the consumer actually does have some clout. If you don’t believe me, ask NFL defensive backs. Check the rules that have been legislated over the past decade or so.

Defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers used to be able to waylay quarterbacks, on a good day (for them), even if the hits came a beat or two after the whistle. Now, the passer might as well wear those white tops with the red cross on them (the kind they wore in practice during the ’60s), meaning they were completely off limits. On game day, however, guys could pin back their ears and . . .

In today’s game, it no longer takes a superhero to stand up in the pocket because there’s a strike zone the defense has to abide by, i.e. nothing above the shoulders or below the knees. Worse than that – as far as the defense is concerned – are what the rules makers have done that affect “cover guys.” Contact is allowed at the line of scrimmage but not too much further, or else a flag will be thrown. The term, “defenseless receiver” has made its way into football lexicon – wisely so – but for a defensive back, the slow motion replays are for the officials’ use. The game DBs play is in real time.

Players have become faster, stronger, shiftier – you name it – and sometimes, if a DB slows up, that ball carrier or receiver is long gone and you’re left standing, wondering when the game changed from you making a play without regard for a penalty, ejection, suspension and/or fine. And you know how much you’re gonna hear about it in the film room.

What’s more frightening is the team, or teams, that have an ultra-talented/competitive quarterback and receivers to match. Or the QB alpha dog who will demand his receivers spend extra practice time to get their timing down – to the point you don’t have a chance because the guy’s throwing the ball before the receiver makes his cut. Did you see that part of Ride Along 2 when Kevin Hart is told to keep one eye out for a guy and another out for something else? He tries it while he’s in the police car and then says something to the effect, “No, I can’t do it. It’s impossible. You do it” (to his partner). That is how a cover guy feels when he’s told to keep one eye on the receiver and the other on the QB or in the backfield. Add to that the fact it’s automatic pass interference if the defender doesn’t turn his head, i.e. no longer can  a defender face guard a guy by reading his eyes.

Why is there all this extra work being put in by QBs and receivers? Because a-they’re making huge money and would like to keep doing so, b-their quarterback is accurate as hell, so he’s become a timing freak (sometimes known as a fierce competitor), c-their offensive coordinator desperately wants a (deep run in the) playoffs check, followed by a head coaching gig somewhere so he will make so much money he won’t fret about a playoff check or d-any combination of the above.

All this means that balls will be thrown before a guy comes out of his break and balls will be thrown so that the only person who will have a chance to catch them will be receivers. And why does the NFL make the rules that so unfairly penalize the defense? Right. Because fans want to see scoring (I still maintain that is the main reason soccer isn’t as big in the U.S. as it is elsewhere in the world). Americans are fascinated by scoring. So, when it comes to rule-making?

“Finally, the consumer wins.”

Fans Have a Way of Expressing Themselves

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

At a recent St. Louis Blues hockey game, the fans began a chant, “Kroenke sucks! Kroenke sucks!” If you follow the sports world (especially the part of it that includes the NFL), you’ll understand the reason for the chorus. It seems that when the local owner decides to pull his team out of a city, in this case St. Louis, calling it, “not a three team professional market,” it tends to upset the home folks. Further rubbing salt in the local’s wounds, that same owner referred to himself as a “victim” because he couldn’t get a state-of-the-art stadium for his, until recently, St. Louis Rams franchise.

When I saw the clip of the fans booing, it brought back memories from 1993. I was a member of the basketball staff at USC and we played a third round NIT game against the University of Minnesota. The school’s home court, Williams Arena, was being renovated and the Timberwolves were in town and, apparently, didn’t feel like sharing. So we wound up playing in an old barn which housed the Minnesota North Stars hockey team. Coincidentally, that morning, the North Stars owner, Norm Green, had sold the franchise to a group in Dallas.

Midway through the second half, the fans started a cheer, “Norm Green sucks! Norm Green sucks!” The cheer perplexed our coach, George Raveling, who was as good at playing to a visiting crowd as any coach I’d ever known. George walked to the end of our bench where the students were cheering.

“Who’s Norm Green? asked George.

The kids loved it. They yelled, “He’s the SOB who is just moved the North Stars to Dallas.”

“Oh, yeah, George responded:

“He does suck.”

A Logical Solution for Many NFL Teams

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Every team in the NFL would love to win a Super Bowl. In order to accomplish that lofty goal, the club needs to get into the playoffs. So much for the elementary lesson in logic (I retired from public school teaching before the implementation of Common Core – although I still get requests from teachers on how I taught math – because apparently, some of the methods I used were concepts of Common Core).

Let’s move on to some more basic numbers. Each year the NFL playoffs consist of 12 teams, meaning 20 teams are left out. Since only five franchises – Patriots (7), Packers (7), Broncos (5), Bengals (5) and Seahawks (4) – have played in the playoffs four or more years in a row (number of consecutive appearances in parentheses), the chances of fans of a particular NFL team at least being able to dream about a Super Bowl title, would certainly seem doable. Yet there are ten clubs (no need to add further embarrassment by naming them – you can always Google it if you’re that interested) that are in the midst of a minimum five season playoff drought. Five consecutive years to a fan is even worse than the ratio of dog-to-people years – assuming the fan sticks around that long. I mean, there are 31 other candidates to back.

When a team experiences such a streak, the answer for a majority of fans – based on social media, talk radio, sports bar gossip and even age old barber shop advice – is to change coaches. While the logic of this theory makes perfect sense (at least to those who espouse it), it’s been tried on numerous occasions and, most of the time, doesn’t produce the desired result.

Now, consider the plight of the Cincinnati Bengals. Their problem goes beyond not getting into the playoffs, but in winning. Not the Super Bowl. Just a game. The Bengals have been on the losing end in their last eight first round playoff games. Their coach, Marvin Lewis, has been the coach for seven of those defeats, including the past five straight. Not once has he been part of a winning press conference.

Using logic to solve a problem, the answer for those ten teams (more, for the truly impatient backer, which covers a large number of constituents) that haven’t made it to the NFL playoffs is rather simple:

“Hire Marvin Lewis.”

Boykin’s Actions and Apology All Too Common

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Another weekend of college hoops, watching Alex play in SoCal. Also happens to be the 27th birthday of his older bro, Andy (who lives in Newport Beach). This blog will be back on Tuesday, January 12.

There have been some pretty stupid and selfish moves made by athletes throughout the years. Some have been criminal, derailing the player’s future (a couple as severe as murder cases), as well as missteps which, if not cripple, place the program in negative light. Most, however, are mostly immature errors in judgment than outright subversive acts. Over my 30-year career in intercollegiate athletics, I have been a member of coaching staffs that had to deal with, for lack of a better term, such acts of tomfoolery.

When it’s a player on your own squad, you invariably feel worse because you know the athlete in question. In fact, you may have recruited him, got to know his family and others who are closest to him. Maybe you just made his acquaintance since you got to the program but, quite possibly connect to him. Whatever the case, the athlete has  put you in an untenable position by violating a team or university rule or policy.

When you are not directly involved with the “wrongdoer,” your reaction can be like anyone else who heard or read about the transgression – and your immediate reaction is one of shock and incredible disappointment. Although the case I’m referring to happened over a week ago (when I was out of town), I made note of it so I could comment at a later date. Right now is that date – and TCU’s quarterback, Trevone Boykin, is that individual. As previously mentioned, I’ve been involved with my share of these acts of ignorance, but this one must have struck a chord I didn’t realize even existed.

To sum up Boykin’s indiscretion, which turned into a felony, TCU was in San Antonio, as a guest of the Alamo Bowl. Thursday night prior to the game, Boykin, who was in his room when coaches performed bed check, slipped out some time afterward, apparently looking for some extracurricular fun. What happened next almost any college football fan can tell you (even without knowing the circumstances of this case). The QB was at a bar, words were exchanged, a fight broke out, police were summoned and the entire scene escalated. Boykin was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony for assaulting a police officer.

What followed next could also easily be described by your average fan. Boykin either wrote, had help writing or had written for him, a three paragraph statement of pure remorse regarding his actions, in which he expressed his heartfelt apology to his family, teammates, school and community. What follows is Boykin’s statement (with my remarks in italics). My comments are probably too harsh (based on similar personal experience of a few former players). In this case, obviously, what started out as a prank got out of hand. It will be interesting to see where he winds up in the NFL draft after this all blows over (who am I kidding, as far as the NFL, it already has blown over – they saw video of that night – now, they’re poring over different, e.g. game video). Soon, he’ll be just another millionaire with a story to tell young kids about how they should obey team rules. Here’s his statement (with commentary):

“Words can’t describe how sorry I am (actions speak louder than words). I truly let down my family, teammates and the TCU and Fort Worth communities (and anyone else I may have missed) who have supported me so much. I have no excuses for my very poor decision, and I’m embarrassed about it (ya think?) My teammates are my brothers (and they understand brothers like to have a little fun). There’s nothing I wanted to do more than play one last game with my seniors (actually, there was one thing I wanted to do more but getting caught wasn’t part of the plan).

Having my TCU degree means more to me than anything (let’s hope having a felony conviction doesn’t hinder that goal). I’m going to do my best to restore every Horned Frogs’ confidence in me (how, with a speech at the post season banquet?). I love TCU and our football program (I just think the rules should be a little looser). With Coach Patterson’s leadership, our team is greater than any one individual (as their play showed). I have full confidence in my teammates when they take the field Saturday (how’d you feel at halftime?). I wish I could be there, but I won’t because of my mistake that I have no one to blame but myself (although, if I thought long enough, I could probably find somebody else to, at least, partially blame).

I sincerely thank TCU for everything it has provided me, including an opportunity to earn my degree which I will always cherish (laying it on a little thick now, Trevone). I will forever be a proud TCU Horned Frog, and I apologize to everyone again for my lapse in judgement (yeah, that’s a good term for it, “lapse in judgment”). I hope others can learn from my mistake (why, you didn’t – and surely you heard of an athlete doing something equally foolish?) I can assure you that I have because it took away the incredible honor and privilege it was to wear a TCU jersey (damn, I can’t believe I got caught).”

As the quote says, Boykin’s sincerity will be tested by the “third part”:

“Any good apology has 3 parts: 1)I’m sorry, 2)It’s my fault, 3)What can I do to make it right? Most people forget the third part.”

 

Of Johnny Manziel, His Handlers and Mike Pettine

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

The Cleveland Browns fired their coach, Mike Pettine, on Black Saturday, although his fate might have been decided on a day well before Black Saturday. That day would have been on NFL draft day. Yeah, the day the Brownies felt the guy to select was Johnny Manziel.

I’ll admit that, like a lot of fans – probably the majority of them – I was smitten with the skill and confidence that was “Johnny Football” and hoped he would thrive (despite those who claimed his height would be his shortfall). I kept thinking of Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, even Eddie LeBaron, for those who go back that far.

Unfortunately, his problem wasn’t from top to bottom but from side to side, i.e. the lack of gray matter between his ears. Sure, the guy had his butt kissed while at Texas A&M but what big-time (winning) college QB doesn’t? Everywhere he went, he was deified. So much so that when he tried to take an English course on campus, he had to drop it when his classmates’ requests for autographs and photos became too much. That semester, he took all of his classes online. Talk about adulation.

He got selected in the 28nd round – in the Major League Baseball Draft. As far as football, he went 22nd overall and was anointed – by the fans – immediately as the savior of the Cleveland franchise. Much like LeBron James. Pretty big shoes to fill – for a guy whose feet turned out to be way too small (despite the size) for the challenge.

Why didn’t he make it? Unlike many “instant rock stars,” Manziel didn’t grow up deprived of material goods; rather, he was somewhat used to them. He felt that since he was a rock star, he was entitled to party like one. Early on, “20-year old boys being 20-year old boys” was the mantra of his – call them exactly what they were/are – enablers. He had/has a well-publicized drinking problem which, when you’re a public figure in today’s world, unfortunately, becomes everybody’s business. As did a “private argument” with his girlfriend (which may or may not have involved drinking and “a couple swings” by Manziel). Many 20-somethings have such issues, but those involving NFL quarterbacks never remain “private.”

During the season, there were incidents of Manziel acting in a manner not becoming of a starting NFL QB (which Manziel swears he wants to be). Yet, if he really desires to have his name linked with the great QBs in the NFL, he ought to observe the vast, intense amount of work Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees put into their craft. The latest incident in Manziel’s career is that he wore a disguise and used an alias while partying in Las Vegas – although, naturally, Johnny Football claims it’s not true.

Other than those on the inside, no one really knew whether Pettine and Manziel were ever on the same page, or even whether the former coach wanted Manziel to be his on-field leader. One thing for sure is, had Manziel taken his occupation, i.e. NFL quarterback, not serial liar, more seriously, Pettine might still have a job. While the coach’s firing should not be laid only at the (undisciplined, immature) QB’s feet, his feelings for Johnny Football might parallel the lyrics to the song, Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right:

“I ain’t saying you treated me unkind. You coulda done better but I don’t mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time.”

And now I’m out of a job.