The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

October 25, 2007

STEVIE'S A STAR

SO AS A FANCY-SCHMANZY PROFESSIONAL SPORTSWRITER, I'M SUPPOSED TO BE OBJECTIVE, RIGHT?

Cool, detached, just report the facts, Ma'am. Don't feel. Just write. Feed the famished fan. Churn out the crap. File to the website. Rehash the same, stupid cliches over and over again to fuel the fire that is professional sports.

Bullshit. Athletes, like a lot of people, will feed you pap and are like that if you let them be like that, and don't show them you care about what they say and who they are and what they feel...what they really feel.

This post is about me making connections with people who make an impression on me as a person privileged enough to meet and talk to individuals who play pro sports for a living and are asked for autographs all the time.

And specifically, this post is about one of the most gentle, kind souls I have ever met, a guy who just makes me smile, who greets me with a smile or even a hug every time I pass him by, just one of those people you can't help but like.

Because of my position as a sportswriter who covers him, which means I don't want somebody to Google his name and potentially find this post, I'm just going to call him Stevie. His pictures are below.

In the group pic, from his college in the U.S., he's the guy on the right.








Up here in Canada, we love football (not as much as hockey, but...). We have the Canadian Football League. It consists of eight teams and is our version of the National Football League.

As with any other comparison between Canada and the U.S., it's the mouse-and-elephant syndrome.

But you know what? Not everyone can be 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds. But neither is everyone who's only 6-1 and 215 a bad football player. So what the NFL rejects, the CFL often gladly accepts.

And that's what our game is about. Americans who couldn't make it in the NFL came up to Canada and became and still always become our star players. Many have returned to the NFL to become big stars.

But for the most part, they don't. At least half the players on the team I cover in Canada are Americans who'll never get a shot at the NFL.

And those are the guys I really appreciate, and that traverses every sport I've ever covered.

It's the guys who aren't the stars -- like Stevie, for example -- or players who compete at the less obvious and media-savvy positions like the offensive line that I've always found the best, most intelligent of athletes.

And the reason, I think, is that they HAVEN'T had the attention and they're a lot more down to earth and thankful for what they have. They're the athletes who've had to fight and scrape for whatever they've achieved.

Unlike a lot of the biggest stars, who've been blessed with so much talent they don't HAVE to think and are coddled from Day 1 by coaches, agents and teams, these athletes get cut from teams or get shuffled to minimal roles.

They develop a sense of gratitude and strength that comes with failure and they have to fight harder to succeed.

And once they do -- once they get to the pro level -- they're well-rounded people who love what they're doing.

Stevie is the most awkward-looking defensive lineman I've ever seen. He's exceptionally pigeon-toed and when I see him run fast, I almost shudder thinking he's going to break his feet running that way.

But it works, for HIM. He overcame something you'd think he should not have been able to overcome.

And while he's not a star on the team I cover, and in fact was cut once, then cut by another team and then returned here, he's a happy-go-lucky player who has a smile for everyone he meets.

I could never say it to him, but he knows I'm rooting for him.

There have been horrible stories about some of the world's most high-profile, elite athletes getting involved in everything from doping and impaired driving to murdering and beating their wives, cheating and dogfighting.

Stevie and most other athletes I've known or covered are not like that.

It's guys like Stevie and the other non-stars that allow me to tolerate all the sound-bytes and cliches thrown out for mass comsumption by the so-called "superstars" who have been thrust into those roles as the sultans of sound-bytes.
As much as I possibly can, I try to avoid those heavy hitters, who actually have the littlest to say of any consequence to anybody. I prefer to seek out the more humble, quiet, feeling and contemplative wherever I go.
Stevie B. is one of those people. And I admire him.

16 comments:

  1. "I could never say it to him, but he knows I'm rooting for him". Could ya use a different expression when you know that people from this part of the world might be reading? ;). Have been absent -trying to get over sugery. Just wanted to check in and say hi.

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  2. surgery, in other words :).

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  3. yay hey for a bit bias when it's deserved - good on you WW!

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  4. The 80/20 Rule is Universal.

    It is sad that we will never get to really know the real heroes. Sports is entertainment and most of these guys understand that 'they' are a marketing commodity.

    Some of them create these outrageous alter-ego characters and hide behind them throughout their entire careers..and I suppose some of them start believing their own spin and actually turn into their creations.

    That was a nice tribute to the 'nice' guys' of the world. It is a shame that they don't get the spotlight because they make better role models than the megalomaniacal sociopaths that usually get all of the attention.

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  5. Laugh if you will, but this post made me think of an X-Files episode. One of the funny little quirky ones, possibly from season 6. Josh Exley is the local baseball champion, 61 home runs in a season, but hasn't made it into the big leagues because he's black. Or so everybody thinks. Actually Josh Exley is an alien. Humble and sweet, he just wants to play the game. He doesn't want to be famous, he doesn't want to be rich, he just wants to play baseball. It's a cute episode! I think it's called "The Beginning", paraphrased to "The Big Inning".

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  6. Lee:

    Ha! Dirty girl!

    I didn't think of it at the time, but yeah, I suppose I should have used the word "cheering" instead.

    Hi back to you. Yes, I understood, the surgery. That much I knew.

    Ziggi:

    Bias is a good thing, I think, even for journalists! Hope your honeymoon was heavenly.

    And I see that it appears it was. Those were great photos of your family. Hugs for you from afar.

    HE:

    I don't get what the 80/20 rule is, but I certainly understand you when you explain yourself.

    I think we DO get to know real heroes, if we're exposed to them and look for them and have them in our awareness.

    It seems to me what we SHOULD be aware of is who our heroes should NOT be.

    All we have to do is listen and watch and trust our own instincts about who's real, and who's not.

    We need to not trust the mass media's version of who our heroes should or should not be.

    We need to find our own heroes, and they don't have to be athletes or entertainers or others in the public spotlight.

    My only point here was to say that some in the spotlight, even a lesser spotlight, are jewels, same as everyone else.

    Stace:

    No laughter here at all. I'll try to find that episode, somewhere...hope you're doing well, girl...

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  7. I am doin' just fine! Going up to visit the man tomorrow :)

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  8. 80% of the resources are owned by 20% of the people..likewise 20% of the people do 80% of the work...and 80% of what I say is understood about 20% of the time.

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  9. Gotta love the underdog.

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  10. Since I have no problem being biased I shall cheer on your (and my own) behalf...

    ...but know that 'your kind' accepted Doug Flutie. A fact that the country south of you both snicker at and thank you for.

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  11. Stace:

    Have a great time! Say hi to the old fart for me...

    Homo Erectile Difficulty:

    I think 100 per cent of the things you say are misunderstood by 100 per cent of the population 100 per cent of the time.

    Anna:

    You seemed to have transformed into a little white box with an x on it. Does that mark the spot?

    Rimshot:

    I've seen you on HE's blog...welcome! Yeah, Flutie was amazing up here on our bigger field and more wide open, passing-oriented game.

    I just talked to him again last November when the Grey Cup (our national football championship) was played here.

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  12. I do not know much about this sport. Nor do I claim I will learn about it. But I liked your post for what it was. One great piece of write which to me appeared very balanced and objective. For all your writings, this one is a serious post. I have always liked your lighter posts too.

    I have missed your posts lately.

    Now I should not too mushy..:D

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  13. Gautami:

    What happened to your avatar?

    Thanks for the visit. And thanks for your words. Stevie is actually starting tonight due to injury of another guy...I'm hoping he plays well.

    I need to get wacky again so hopefully a less serious post will be forthcoming sometime soon.

    I'll visit soon.

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  14. I don't know why my avatar isn't coming up. I'll have to try to fix that.

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  15. fantastic post ww! he sounds like a truly fabulous individual!

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  16. Angel:

    Thanks! And sorry for the delay responding. He is a great guy and had a very good game last time he played...

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