Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Conflict of Cultures

Both of our kids are in high school now, but they attend different schools.
We are experiencing the collision of cultures in our house on a daily basis. The older child attends Caddo Magnet High School, an academic Mecca with an overriding liberal attitude. The little one attends Byrd High School, where apparently the party never stops.
I graduated from a Catholic high school, and my wife graduated from a church school in Tennessee, so we’re learning about these places right along with our kids. My son is passionate about his loyalty to his school, but he’s not at all demonstrative about it. There are no yards signs or bumper stickers, only a steely resolve that there’s no other school for him. By contrast, my daughter is all about calling attention to “the City of Byrd.”
All of this is complicated by the fact that we live in Captain Shreve’s district. Shreve and Byrd are long-time, bitter rivals. The schools’ football teams will play against one another tonight, and the hype is electric, at least in our little corner of the universe. I acknowledge that, if you don’t have a rooting interest, this is all a tempest in a teapot. We haven’t lived through this before, so only now are we gaining an appreciation of it.
People who love Shreve just do not understand why anyone would drive past their school to attend that megalopolis Byrd. People who love Byrd see it as the most desirable place in town to spend your high school years and just can’t figure what the attraction is to Shreve or Magnet. There’s no reason there, it’s just about passion.
So, tonight, the Yellow Jackets will play the Gators and my daughter went to school in camouflage. The idea is they’re on a “gator hunt.” After the game, she’s invited to a party to “eat gator gumbo.” It’s all very cute and creative, and a nice way to build school spirit. Meantime, her low-key brother just doesn’t understand this hoopla. It seems to confound and amuse him. He has no interest in this football game or any kind of rivalry. He just wants to go to school, make good grades and hang out with his girlfriend. If the party never stops at Byrd, it apparently never starts at Magnet.
We didn’t set out to start a sociological experiment in our house, but one has developed. It will be interesting to watch this play out over the next couple of years.
In the meantime, I suppose I should attempt to become a “Byrd guy.” My daughter probably expects it; and my son doesn’t care either way. The Shreve fans in my neighborhood may take exception, but I have forces acting upon me which I may find difficult to resist.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pederson Continues to Lead Calvary

In the wake of the alma mater's football team getting baptized by Calvary Baptist in the Pope vs. Preacher Bowl last night, we dip into the Daddy D. archives again. This from November of 2005, a feature on Calvary's coach:

Doug Pederson never saw it coming: The hit that led to the end of his pro football career, which in turn sent him packing for an unanticipated journey to a place called Calvary, blindsided him in more ways than one.
Pederson spent thirteen seasons in the National Football League, most of them in Green Bay, backing up the most durable quarterback in league history, Brett Favre of the Packers. He came to accept his place in the Packers’ pecking order. “You can only play one quarterback at a time. You have three wide receivers or four wide receivers. You got one quarterback. I was comfortable in that role. I did everything I could every off-season, every preseason to be the back-up,” Pederson said as he kept tabs on a new team, this one decidedly different from the one he was a part of a year ago.
A number two quarterback must be prepared to enter a game on a moment’s notice. On October 3, 2004, Pederson got the call. Favre had been knocked silly. A concussion sent him to the sidelines. Pederson, leading the Green Bay offense, was stepping out of bounds at the end of an otherwise routine play when Keith Washington of the New York Giants delivered a wicked blow. Pederson had relaxed, thinking the play was finished when he “got blasted.” The result: a broken transverse process, a small bone off the vertebrae where muscles and ligaments attach to the spine.
While Pederson continued to play in the game, the pain worsened. Ultimately, as he attempted to throw a pass, “my whole back felt like a ball of fire.” More than a decade after breaking into the NFL, including stops in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Miami, Pederson had played his last down of pro football.
Lambeau Field, where the Packers play, is a long way from Linwood Avenue, where the Calvary Cavaliers listen attentively and with a certain reverence to their first-year coach. Certainly, there is deference to his experience. “He knows all the coverages. He knows how to watch film, read it. He knows everything that’s going on. He can prepare you for the next game every week,” said Calvary sophomore quarterback Jake Booty. In his new environment, though, Pederson commands respect for another reason.
“He’s a great Christian guy,” Booty said. “He’s a great guy to have around. He’s always encouraging, always there to help you. Never puts you down, no matter what’s going on.”
The jump from flying on charter jets across the country with millionaire superstars to riding a bus across north Louisiana with high school kids was a leap of faith.
“This transition has been really easy for me,” Pederson said. “Obviously, my faith had a big part in that, too.”
Calvary Baptist Academy’s leadership actively pursued Pederson to lead its brand new football program, which is competing in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association for the first time in 2005. “I blew them off twice. About January of this year, I decided to come take a look,” Pederson recalled. “I kept telling them I was going to come back and play another year. But, my wife and I traveled over here (from their off-season home in Monroe) and just fell in love with the place.” So far, the affection is returned. The comments from the players are consistent. They admire his patience. Booty, who has had three older brothers play major college football, has seen a variety of coaching styles up close. Being tutored by an NFL veteran might be intimidating, but Booty says Pederson “never gets real mad at you, upset, yelling at you…just showing what you need to do, basics and everything.” Sophomore wide receiver Khiry Cooper puts it more succinctly, saying his coach “sets a standard for Calvary.”
Pederson speaks with passion about that standard. He believes the school has high expectations athletically, academically and spiritually. He has affirmed his faith in the church’s leadership by enrolling his sons in the academy. “I always wanted to spend time with my boys, watch them grow, coach them. This gives me that opportunity.” At this moment, it’s difficult to discern where the coach stops speaking and Dad takes over.
“I wanted my boys to be in (a faith-based) environment. Now, I say that, but I back it up and I say ‘Is a Christian school, is a private school, is it All That?’ It’s what you make it. The fact that we can openly talk about our faith here and pray with the kids and do some things maybe a public school can’t do, that was of interest to me.”
“Over the years, football has blessed me. I’ve had the opportunity to go into schools and talk about my faith and what Jesus has done for me in my life through athletics. Now, I feel like this is just another platform I’ve been given to continue that and still stay in the game of football.”
Then it becomes clear that the Dad is the coach and the coach is the Dad: “I love the aspect of game planning for Friday Nights. I love the aspect of getting out here on the practice field and watching these boys grow, watching them work out in the weight room. Again, we’re building this thing from the ground up. I get to put in my ideas and traditions, and we get to start our own history.”
The story of Calvary football is being written day by day. Pederson and his team can only look forward, for truly there is no looking back. “There are no expectations this year,” Pederson offered. It seems philosophical, but is merely matter-of-fact. “We’re starting from ground zero, and whatever happens happens. That’s really the mentality that I’ve tried to get to these boys. There are no expectations of you. There is no last year. What do we compare it to? We’re starting. Whatever we do this year, now we’ve got a benchmark to build the next year and build the next year and we keep getting better and better.”
There is no premium placed on wins and losses, at least not yet. “Winning is probably second to just doing things right, just trying to get the program off the ground,” Pederson said, trying to convince himself. But he knows something about victory. He was part of a Super Bowl championship with the Packers, and was a freshman at Northeast Louisiana when the Indians won the NCAA 1-AA national championship. A native of Washington state, Pederson did not win a championship in high school. There is a hole in his resume he would like to fill as a coach. “I’m going to try to get these boys (a championship) here. That would really round out something to be proud of and get these boys believing in that.”
He has a philosophy that he believes will take them there: “I think if you take care of your business, do the little things you’re supposed to do, the wins and losses take care of themselves. You don’t have to preach winning to do it; you just have to teach football, the fundamentals of football. That’s how championship teams are built.”
The foundation will be laid with faith, kindness and encouragement.
“I was told that for every one negative you say, it takes five positives to reinforce a kid’s emotion and thought pattern. I’ve had coaches get in your face, scream, holler, cuss in your face and spit and everything else. Did it affect me? I understood I made the mistake. I didn’t need the coach telling me I made the mistake. Here again, at the high school level, you’re trying to mold and shape and create something where these boys want to play for you as a coach.”
Pederson is creating a culture of kindness in his football program, but that does not translate into low expectations. He sets those standards and expects them to be met by everyone around him. He will forcefully spell out his expectations, should the need arise.
“You still want to teach discipline. They still need to be disciplined, not only in school, but on the football field. They’ve got to take care of their business, and that’s something we’re trying to instill in these kids.”
Kids: A key component is this whole process. They are all teenagers, which presents its own set of challenges, some of which the first-year coach did not anticipate.
“In the NFL, all you did was football. You went to meetings, you went to practice, you went to more meetings, you went home,” he said somewhat wistfully. “Here, you’ve got to deal with school. (You’ve) got to keep your kids eligible. You’ve got to deal with a kid being sick. One kid’s out, so you’ve got to change your whole routine. You’ve got to deal with kids having doctor’s appointments during practice, dentist appointments. I’m with a young football team. I’ve got kids taking their driving tests. I’ve got to excuse kids from workouts to go take driving tests. That’s all new, but it’s something I’m adjusting to.”
As he authors Calvary’s football history, Pederson is already dreaming of a future that has its own rewards: “One day, you want them to come back to your school on homecoming or pick up the phone and call you and say ‘Hey coach, I appreciate everything you did. You really taught me how to be a man or to handle whatever situation comes down the road. That’s what makes it special to be a high school football coach.’”
Should it come to pass, no one should be blindsided by Pederson’s success.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Raising Cole Goes Big Screen

With the news that "Raising Cole" will become a big-budget motion picture, we dig into the Daddy D archives for a book review from July, 2004.

Marc Pittman has a tragic story to tell, and he gives us a glimpse into his soul in his book, Raising Cole. Pittman, a man of enormous physical stature, is carrying around burdens that might emotionally break the strongest people you’ve ever encountered. The book’s title refers to his efforts to mold the mind and body of his older son, who died in a car accident at 21.
Pittman’s effort is autobiographical, but his intention is to be instructive. His sons Cole and Chase were high school football players at Evangel Christian Academy, the highest-profile program in the state. The Pittmans were easy to notice, but not just because the boys were arguably the best football players in a program which routinely produces major college caliber talent. The nature of the father-son relationship was remarkable. A giant man and his ever-growing son were physically demonstrative. Pittman writes with obvious pride about the fact that his son, even as a football player at the University of Texas, would still kiss his father on the lips. This circumstance makes some people uncomfortable, and Pittman acknowledges that in conversation today. In his book, he remembers a time when Cole noticed that no other boys seemed to be kissing their fathers on the mouth, When asked about it, Pittman told his son that he guessed the other little boys didn’t love their daddies as much as he does.
Pittman asserts that so many people admired and asked about his relationship with his son that he felt compelled to share their story. After Cole died, he assessed the relationship with the younger son. He started writing Raising Cole in longhand. It’s an unconventional way to start a book, but then little about the Pittman family is conventional.
Cole Pittman came home to visit his family and friends in February of 2001. He was due back in Austin for the start of spring football practice. On the Sunday before he was to return, he made the decision to spend one more night in Shreveport. He got up Monday morning to drive back to school. Near Livingston, Texas he apparently fell asleep at the wheel. His SUV jumped a guardrail, landed in a ditch, and the young man died.
It is impossible to imagine the pain Marc Pittman endures. His son, away at college, called home every night at 9:30. Often he would call home several times during the course of the day to tell his father he loved him. Pittman’s love will never die and he’s still devoted to his son. There are no more nightly phone calls, but there are frequent visits to his son’s grave just to express his love.
Marc Pittman pushed his sons to succeed in football, in relationships and in life. He has pointed to what he believes to be his own shortcomings and tries to learn from then and teach with them. Some people around him think he has created a model for father-son relationships. He believes that, from his son’s death, a new kind of life has emerged.
This real-life local story has become a quick and fascinating read. It offers glimpses into the remarkable psyche of a “man’s man” who longs for affection and lavishes it on his children. The reader navigates an emotional minefield of devotion and despair, anger and angst. Ultimately, Raising Cole raises questions about men forming relationships. Is Marc Pittman’s formula something to emulate? Try Raising Cole for yourself and decide.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Purple and Gold Ornaments?

Happy Football Season! This greeting has spread around town like a holiday salutation. The smile it brings to so many faces is reminiscent of a much more temperate time of year. For LSU fans, the comparisons between September and December are fair. There’s something special in the air, a breathless anticipation. If the expectations of the season are realistic, this can be an uplifting, even rewarding interlude; but the potential for disappointment and a bit of despondency is real, particularly if we are expecting more than can realistically be delivered.
The 2006 LSU Tigers are ranked consistently in the top ten, and in the top five in some preseason polls. This is setting LSU fans up for quite a fall. The 2005 season was reasonably satisfying. The Tigers won eleven of their thirteen games, ending with a 40-3 dismantling of Miami in the Peach Bowl. The early-season overtime loss to Tennessee in the days following the Katrina disaster can be forgiven, quite unlike the disheartening defeat by Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game. If you throw out the SEC title game as an aberration, last year’s performance easily justifies the lofty if somewhat precarious perch upon which Tiger fans find themselves as the season begins.
There’s one player who touches the ball on every offensive play, and JaMarcus Russell causes the faithful to glisten as they consider the possibilities he brings to the field. He has guided his six-foot-six, 250-pound frame into a remarkable half-dozen come-from behind victories. He brings experience, savvy and imposing potential to his role as Coach Les Miles’ anointed starter at quarterback. The players around him have the potential to be spectacular, but they will be only as good as the offensive trigger man allows them to be. LSU’s biggest strength may be on the defensive side of the ball, where senior free safety La Ron Landry brings NFL-caliber talent to the field. Linebacker Ali Highsmith is expected to be among the best in the nation at his position. The Tigers had arguably the best pass defense in the conference in 2005, and the bulk of the defensive backfield remains intact. The defensive line is a question mark, and Highsmith’s colleagues backing them up need some seasoning.
The schedule does not work in LSU’s favor, if you consider the fact that Auburn, another top ten caliber team, shows up on the slate in mid-September. That game is set up to provide the first barometer reading for this year’s crew. The unthinkable distractions of a life-altering natural disaster shaped the 2005 team in ways previously unimaginable. This season, there is every reason to believe LSU’s status in the college football hierarchy will be determined by football and only football, the way a bunch over overgrown young men in helmets and pads should be evaluated. If they come away from the Auburn game with a victory, the anticipation of what is to come could very well be breathless.
This will be a critical juncture for the emotional well-being of LSU fans. Dreams of another BCS national championship will dance like sugarplums in their heads. There they will be, snuggled in the downy cover of their own gridiron dreams, hoping that the clatter they hear is not a harbinger of disappointment, but instead a precursor to a gift that will illuminate their new year with the light of legitimacy. All LSU fans really want for Christmas is a universal acknowledgment that their football program is among the nation’s elite. They don’t need ribbons and bows, they need crystal; and it needs to be shaped like a football and mounted on a trophy. “Happy Football Season” is an amusing and appropriate greeting in late summer and early fall. When it can be said with sincerity in December, you know you truly will have had a happy holiday. Plus, you’ve received a gift that keeps on giving. Get the purple and gold ornaments ready.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Countdown to Disappointment

We are a week away from the big Cowboys – Saints exhibition game at Independence Stadium, and my child-like enthusiasm for the event hasn’t been spreading.
The naysayers are out in force. Even our first-string local columnist, Teddy Allen, is taking pots shots at the game in the Sunday paper. Given his opinion, it looks as though a pre-game tailgate spread of pork roast and grits wouldn’t get him there. If the Saints have lost Teddy, they have a lot of ground to gain in Shreveport-Bossier.
Tom Benson, the Saints owner, has done a decent job of keeping his yap shut over the last several months. His unseemly and ill-timed flirtation with San Antonio in 2005 angered a lot of people around the state. Now, here in the northwest corner of Louisiana, some of us who have felt neglected or slapped around by Benson and the Saints have a chance to express our disdain by simply staying away. Many people are choosing to do that, refusing to pay the ticket price. Even more insulting, I’m predictably hearing time and again, is the parking charge. Perhaps more indicative of the prevailing mood: many people with whom I’ve discussed the game are only marginally aware of it. “When is it, again?” I’ve been asked time and again.
So, this is not a special event in the minds of many. It is, in fact, something worth barely considering. Somewhere, somebody thinks having the two nearest NFL teams meet in our little stadium is a big thing. Apparently, it’s a matter of value. They’d spend, say, twenty bucks a ticket but not a hundred. They’d pay five dollars, maybe seven, to park, but not twenty. They’d come if the thermometer registered less than 85 degrees, but it won’t.
I’ve watched parts of a handful of NFL preseason games this weekend. There are plenty of empty seats in those stadiums. Everyone understands that it’s just practice. So, I’m willing to concede that it won’t be embarrassing on a national scale if our stadium is sixty per cent full. Conversely, think how impressive it will be if the place appears packed on Monday Night Football. Wouldn’t we rather create the perception that we are a dynamic place, a place with enthusiasm for something so noteworthy?
It’s almost as if we’re reluctant to admit we’re proud to have the attention. Mega-Watt movie stars are hanging around town making big-budget films, but some of us are too arrogant or insecure to admit that this is something to be excited about. It’s fun and interesting and yes, cool, to have Sandra Bullock, Kevin Costner, John Goodman, William Hurt, and so many others here. It’s kind of amazing that the Heisman Trophy winner will strap on pads in our little locker room next Monday. Terrell Owens, one of the most controversial and yet compelling figures in professional sports, will catch passes on our turf. One of the three most successful pro football franchises of all time will play a (practice) game in prime time on national television in our city. How can that not be exciting?
It’s all in how you look at it. You can focus on the fact that the big names will only play part of the game, or you can focus on the fact that they’re here. You can focus on how the attendance really doesn’t matter, or you can focus on how a good showing will potentially make a positive impression, internally and externally. You can focus on how we’re a community in stalemate and malaise, or you can do something to prove otherwise.
I’m going to the game, and I’m taking friends along. I’m excited about it. I think it’s a big thing and I’m approaching it that way. I didn’t negotiate the state’s deal to subsidize the Saints’ operations, the former governor did that. I can’t change it and I choose not to protest it by staying away Monday night. I choose to participate in an activity that will make us all look good and will show that we are a city worthy of special events such as this. It has become cliché to speak of “quality of life” issues, but here is one, slapping us in the face. I guess that’s how some people see it, anyway. I choose not to be insulted, but to be enthused. See you at the game.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Life in HIgh Definition

I have entered the High Definition world at my house, and it’s a lovely place. I’m getting a dozen or so HD channels on my satellite service and several more over the air. Sadly, I am not getting NBC. My old pals at KTAL aren’t broadcasting in HDTV, and the station’s owners, apparently strapped for cash, have asked the feds to give them more time before they put up a signal. Not having High-Def coming from the Beautiful North Highlands Broadcasting complex is disappointing. The fact that I can’t even get channel 6’s digital signal on my TV is maddening, particularly since NBC has prime-time NFL games now.
I have tried diligently to pull in KTAL’s digital signal with my antenna. I’m getting KSLA, KTBS, KPXJ, KMSS and KLTS just fine. I went to a local electronics store and bought an amplifier for my digital antenna. Still no NBC. I called the place where we got the TV to ask for suggestions about pulling in channel 6’s digital signal. The store manager said, “We have a digital antenna forty-five feet in the air and we can’t get it here in the store. You’re wasting your time.”
I asked the guy who sold the amp to me if folks were having trouble getting 6’s digital signal. He said yes, “Because they broadcast from Texarkana.” That was a weird moment for me. I haven’t worked at the station for more than a year, but I spent two decades doing my best Don Quixote impersonation over the perception that the station broadcasts from Texarkana. For the record, they have exactly one news person in Texarkana and a couple of sales folks, which is about the same as the other stations in town. The studio is in north Shreveport and the transmitter is in Vivian.
There’s no excuse, though. Vivian, Texarkana, who cares? The bottom line is: I can’t bring in their digital signal with my antenna, and HDTV apparently is a distant, faint hope. I know they’re putting out a digital signal, because the station’s general manager has told me so many times. He’s told me how good the digital signal is. There’s a monitor in Master Control which shows the digital picture. Unless I can get it in my house, though, it’s all irrelevant to me.
The good news is, many of my favorite NBC shows are shown subsequent to their network broadcast on HD cable/ satellite channels. So, I’ll set the TiVo and watch them when it’s convenient. Of course, that does me little good with NFL games. I’m not willing, at this point, to invest any more time or money trying to bring in KTAL’s signal. It looks okay on satellite and that will have to do for now. Feel the power.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chillin' in the HIlls

Lago Vista, TX (August 5, 2006) – Nine of the last seventeen weeks, I’ve been on the road. Only once has a member of my family elected to join me. I miss them. This weekend trip is purely for pleasure, unlike those of the last three months. I’ve come to the Texas hill country to see my oldest friend and his family. I’ve only been here a few hours, but we’ve already settled in to familiar stories, the kind that bore our children into submission.
My friend Mark is the fifth of six children, and four of his siblings are here. The house we’re in, in fact, belongs to his sister-in-law’s family. The fact that I’m welcome here says something about the depth of our friendship. One of his sisters was explaining to the younger generation here that “Darrell is like our fifth brother. He’s always been around.” I feel comfortable and safe here, dare I say loved? I appreciate so much being welcome in their family gatherings.
Mark and I met because our mothers were high school friends. I have known him for so long that I don’t recall a time when I didn’t know him. Next month, it will be forty years since we started first grade together at a little Catholic school in Bossier City. Friendships that enduring are rare and priceless.
We don’t talk as often as we did when we were younger. He lives five hours away from my home, and since his parents passed away he rarely has a reason to come home. Most of our conversations are seemingly superficial: a happy birthday here, a how’s it going there. I’m looking forward to spending a couple of days in his company and catching up. Although we are the same age, his family is younger than mine. His youngest child can still be fairly described as a baby, although surely she would dispute that. I had forgotten that kids are that little.
Underneath the birthday phone calls lies a foundation of love and respect. Our friendship has survived the years and the miles, and I hope and expect it will continue unabated, even if it is occasionally interrupted by the current of life.
The first night here, I’m celebrating a heart-warming reunion with great friends. Next, I’m planning to take a long look at this Hill Country to find out for myself what the fuss is all about. My father-in-law calls it God’s Country. I’m eager to see if I agree.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Long Wings' Season

I made it through a season of Arena Football as a team broadcaster. Our season was a disappointment, to say the least. The guys won three games and lost thirteen. A couple of times they were embarrassed, but in most games, they were competitive.
I have been asked several times over the last few days if I’m glad the season is finished. I am ambivalent, to tell you the truth. It will be nice to have my weekends back. I had fun, though, and most of the people I hung around with over the last eighteen weeks were enormously entertaining. I’m going to miss them.
Our beleaguered quarterback, JJ Raterink, was at or near the bottom of the league statistics in almost every category. But, he’s a great, clean-cut kid who seems to know what he wants out of life. He’s from Colorado and played college football at Wyoming. His parents traveled to every game and his older sister came to many of them. They are a devoted, close-knit family who support one another. They’ve invited just about everybody to Boulder to visit them, and they’re so doggone nice it’s easy to be tempted to take them up on the offer.
Former LSU and New Orleans Saints tight end Nicky Savoie joined the team at mid-season, hoping to whip himself sufficiently into shape to make a run at some kind of pro football comeback. He’s Cajun through and through. Even though he was the oldest guy on the team, in many ways he was like a huge kid. He stands 6’7”, but has the spirit of a teenager. After a rare road victory, he forced me to drink beer in order to celebrate. A good-natured, profanity-laced confrontation on the team bus left me no choice but to quaff hops and barley.
I spent most of my time on the road with the coaching staff. They’re all great guys. A couple of them are local. One is a graveyard shift police supervisor who just lives and breathes football. Another is a head coach at a local high school. Still another is a former pro football player who answered the call to help his friend, head coach John Fourcade.
Hanging around Fourcade was a career highlight. This guy is a constant laugh riot, even when he’s not trying to be. He’s hot-headed and profane when he’s agitated. He’s an engaging raconteur when he’s relaxed. From his days as a highly-recruited high school quarterback from New Orleans through his legendary career at Ole Miss, which led to a pro career in The CFL, NFL and AFL, he has stories. A guy who starred at an SEC school and was a playoff quarterback in the NFL gets around. When his playing days are over, he’s left with a seemingly endless supply of tall tales. This guy also owns several Hooters restaurants in Louisiana. Needless to say, he enjoys a certain amount of popularity.
Before the last game of the season, the assistant coaches bet him twenty dollars apiece that he could not make it through the first quarter without using profanity. He took the bet. I said we needed to define what profanity is, because he will try to find loopholes. Immediately, he started to squirm, saying anything that described a bodily function would not count as a cuss word. You can use your imagination, but at least three four-letter words come to mind that can fairly be categorized as bodily functions. One of them is one of the worst words in the English language. He was not allowed to use that excuse.
So, profanity was defined and the bet was on. About halfway through the first quarter, something frustrating happened. The coach’s head almost spun off his neck. He looked around, reached into his pocket, pulled out some $20 bills and threw them on the ground, screaming “There’s your *&^% money!,” Then, he turned to the player who upset him and screamed “What the (bodily function) were you doing? Get your head out of your (body part).” It was quintessential Fourcade, and it’s one of the things I will miss now that the season is finished.
I don’t know if he’ll be back with the team next year, or if I’ll be asked back, for that matter. Each of us had a one-year deal. I hope it works out for both of us. I made some new friends over the last eighteen weeks, and the whole experience has been worthwhile. I hope we’re both back. All of us deserve a chance to not only have fun, but to be a part of a winning team. I think we have what it takes to accomplish that. We just need a little more time.

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