Week 5 of the NFL belonged to Long John, Tiger and The Rocket

October 9, 2005

Score a Sunday victory for ABC, ESPN and the entire Disney family

While it may have been just another Sunday packed with great NFL matchups it was baseball and golf that stole the show. As Tiger Woods and John Daly went to Sudden Death in San Francisco the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves entered extra innings and the Rocket showed why he is one of the best baseball players of all time. I personally forgot all about football and used the back buttonon the remote to toggle between golf and baseball. In the end Tiger won as did the Astros.

Two athletes with character, vision and grace

In an era where sometimes our professional athletes are not the best of role models, today reminded me of how sometimes very special ones come along. If you’ve been a baseball fan for any length of time then you know the legend of Kirk Gibson. It isn’t his epic 9th inning home run in the 1988 World Series which stands out to me the most, it is what he said after the game. When asked how he mustered the strength to limp up to the plate in the role of a pinch hitter he said something like, “I knew I had one swing so I just visualized what I needed to do…” The rest is history.

While you may not know the name Jay Borschel yet, you will. After becoming an All American wrestler he’s now on his way to a gold medal by way of Virginia Tech. Borschel bested Dan Gable (the greatest wrestler of all time who won 3 Iowa State Championships). When asked how he managed to overcome a serious bout with bronchitis to win his fourth Iowa State Championship title he said, “I just knew what I had to do so I focused on doing it.” After he said that I had to admit to my daughter that I was starting to like her boyfriend…

The thing I find so extraordinary about guys like Kirk and Jay and other champions is that the good ones seem to always possess character, vision and grace.

Daly missed a gimme putt, Tiger wins instead of playing on

The great ones love to win, but not like that. You could read the look on Tiger’s face. It said, “That’s OK, John. Do over.” Tiger wanted to beat Long John Daly by beating him. Really beating him. We saw a side of Tiger Woods today that would make anyone like him. He genuinely felt pain for Long John. He displayed nothing but character, vision and grace. Here’s to Tiger and John. While the long awaited showdown between the longest driver and the best player that ever lived was, in fact, short lived, it was great nonetheless. Here’s hoping it happens again someday…

Clemons came in as a pinch hitter, then in relief

In an time when so many of our professional athletes lack class, Roger Clemens stood above the rest. What he did today was nothing short of spectacular. First, coming in as a pinch hitter he laid down a great bunt. He then went on to relief pitch into the 18th inning and at one moment I actually thought he might hit a home run when he came up the second time. Why not? Who would have thought 20 years ago we’d see the Rocket in a situation like this? Instead, the home run was hit by Chris Burke. Right as the game ended the ESPN field reporter ran to the Rocket. What the Rocket did in the game is the stuff that legends are made of. Perhaps it was knowing that before today he already was a legend. Perhaps there is wisdom which comes with being 43. Perhaps it was because he has character, vision and grace. I don’t know. Whatever it was, instead of fielding the question from the ESPN reporter Roger said, “Talk to Burke.” That took class. And so it goes. On a day when football should have stolen the show it was baseball and golf. It was Tiger, Long John and The Rocket. It was a guy named Burke and a missed gimme putt. It was a day like we used to have when the guys with character, vision and grace stood head and shoulders above the rest. It is days like today that I treasure and will someday tell my grandchildren about.