Some weekly thoughts on football and some other things, since IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m essentially a football layman. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d generally prefer to do this early in the week, but I was particularly busy.
I had some people ask me why I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t post anything here about 9/11 before it happened, but honestly, what more could have I have said that wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t already said?
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always thought that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an inherent loneliness that comes with preternatural talent.
Reflecting on the great moments one can produce with sheer physical or mental genius can be like walking through a hall of mirrors, fated to see endless glimpses of moments in time that can never be recaptured except through still or moving images.
When I look at Michael Jordan, I see a man trapped by his own greatness. The man was like Icarus; he reached heights unlike those reached by anyone else, but the problem with tasting a nectar that sweet is that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficult to put up the rest of your life by comparison.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve long been fascinated by JordanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ascent from mere mortal to demigod. Over time, as his talents and accomplishments grew, he metamorphosed from a high school kid to an NCAA championship hero, to a hotshot rookie to an NBA scoring leader, to an MVP to a champion Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and eventually to the greatest of all time. Not to mentionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ a worldwide icon.
But at what cost to the manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soul?
Suffice it to say, I look up to Michael Jordan. I have a poster with the words he speaks in that ad above hanging as the centerpiece of my living room Ã¢â‚¬â€œ along with a framed picture of the Twin Towers.
And I have my own perspective to share on the man as he enters the Hall of Fame. But not on 9/11. I believe they should have moved the induction out of respect for the remembrance of this day, but I guess eight years after the fact, maybe itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time to just let this be something of just another day.
That said, I want to let the Piazza/9-11 post breathe up there. Look for my thoughts on Jordan sometime during or maybe after the weekend; Derek Jeter and Ichiro for their milestones, too. As great as all three athletes are, I personally still believe they should take a back seat today. Others agree with me; Mike Francesa on WFAN had Ari Fleischer on today and is mostly taking calls about 9/11.
So congratulations to Jordan, Jeter and Ichiro. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get back to you guys in a few days.
Two days after Mike PiazzaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inspirational home run, the NFL resumed its games as well. Before the Dolphins played the Raiders, quarterback Jay Fiedler, who IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always been partial to Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we Jews have to stick together Ã¢â‚¬â€œ led the team onto the field while waving an American Flag that had recently been flown in Afghanistan.
Fiedler was a capable but unflashy quarterback whose best attribute was his toughness. But on that day, he was a true champion, even before what he did on the field.
That said, he performed brilliantly. Fiedler, with no time left, made a gutsy dash up the middle and crashed into the end zone to score the winning touchdown of an 18-15 victory over a team that would play in the Super Bowl that season. Though a solid athlete — in fact, a former decathlete — Fiedler was no speed demon, but like Piazza, he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let his team lose that day after such an emotionally charged beginning.
And through his act of sheer athleticism and joyousness, Mr. Fiedler ended up with his first and only Sports Illustrated cover.
I remember the Piazza game more vividly, particularly since I was there, and because it was in New York and had a lot more significance as such. But I remember FiedlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mad dash as well, and if that’s the main thing you take from his career, that isn’t such a bad thing to hang his hat on.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about tennis here much, but as a former high school great Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I sound like Al Bundy here Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I do follow it.
And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always been impressed by Novak DjokovicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ability Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and his sense of humor, as he has a history of mimicking other players, though that hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always ingratiated him with the stuffy tennis crowds, who apparently have no sense of humor. He also had a well publicized feud with Andy Roddick last year.
Djokovic must go through Roger Federer to win the U.S. Open, something I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe will happen. But hopefully it does, and I have nothing against Federer, who I admire. The thing is, Djokovic has been quietly hosting the children of people who died on 9/11 at his matches.
Djokovic is from war-torn Serbia, so he understands what these kids are going through:
We’re trying to enjoy. We’re young. They’re young. They’re trying to enjoy their life, and they came to tennis. So this is the positive message. We don’t want to, you know, get back in the past. What already happened, happened. It’s life.
This, my friends, is someone to root for. Djokovic, while always making things more interesting for a sport that often isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, is a winner regardless of what happens against Federer.
I write this sentence as I ride by the skyline in Weehawken, and even after eight years, I look at the void in lower Manhattan and still canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe it.
Eight years ago today was an unbelievable time for the New York area, though you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need me to tell you that. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. I was at home in New Jersey when my father called to tell me to put on CNN Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and also to look outside, since we used to have a view of the Twin Towers from our back porch.
What I remember most about what went on around here was the way people came together. For an act that was designed to rip people apart, I find that it actually brought people together. The outpouring of goodwill from people in this area was remarkable. The atmosphere was such that everyone had to band together. For a time, we were all brothers.