Is Anyone’s Word Good Anymore?

June/18/2015 5:50AM
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A long, long time ago my dad taught me about giving and keeping my word. I made a commitment to the wrestling coach at CMU to go there to wrestle. He helped get an academic scholarship, a field-house job, and a couple of other things to help pay the bills.  Then the U of Michigan wrestling team stopped by on a trip and our high school coach set-up a scrimmage. I did really well and I got a letter from the U of M coach offering me a place on his team. I was pretty excited.  When I got home and told my folks my Dad took me aside and said, “son, what part of commitment don’t you understand?” You told the CMU coach you were coming and that’s what you are going to do.  End of conversation.  I got to school the next day and told my wrestling coach about the offer from U of M. He said, “you are committed to CMU, aren’t you?”  Funny thing about those two men, my dad and my coach. Dad served in the navy in the Pacific in WWII and my coach was a marine on Iwo Jima. Guess they knew about commitment. I admired both of them, and, today I admire them even more. Part of the Greatest Generation for good reason.

I am reading today’s sports page in the Chicago Tribune. One article addresses Russell Wilson’s purchase of injury insurance since he is on the 4th year of his $1.5 million-a-year rookie contract and wants to protect that big contract that’s coming down the road.

The other article addresses the contract dispute Martellus Bennett is having with the Chicago Bears.  He’s got 2 years left on his 4 year contract he signed for $20MM. He didn’t come to any of the informal team activities. He did show up for mini-camp out of shape and out of sorts. Doesn’t know if he will play this year for the measly $5 million. Say’s an NFL contract is no different than a cell phone contract, people break them all the time. Or, a lease on an apartment. You see an apartment you like better, just pick-up and move.

My coach died last year and there were literally dozens of notes sent to the on-line obituary. He touched so many with his character  and humanity He was a true tough guy, a decorated marine, a college football player  and wrestler , and a stern disciplinarian.  But, one lady said it all on his obituary. She worked in his office. He asked who she was going to the prom with that month. She said she didn’t have a date. That night five boys called and asked her to the prom. She said she turned them all down because she knew coach had twisted arms. But, she never forgot coach for caring.

It’s all going away. The men and women of the greatest generation and even the lessons they taught us. Somewhere along the way, Russell Wilson had a parent or a coach or a mentor who taught him the meaning of his word. But far too many, like Mr. Bennett, didn’t.  Sadly, it seems, most of them reside in pro sports and politics.

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