CLASS OF 86, THE UNKNOWN, SUMMITT, BUDDY & A GREAT READ

July 8, 2016

Just went to my 30th high school reunion which reminded me a lot of my wedding—you talk and talk for hours and at the end of the night you’re starving because you just plain forgot to eat anything.

It was worth it.

For the record, I loved college but loved high school even more. A big reason–our Class of 86 was fun. A lot of different personalities contributed to many memorable times and lifelong friendships.

astro class of 86

Some say social media ruins high school reunions but I couldn’t disagree more. Sure–without Facebook, there would be more intrigue but because of Facebook, many of us have renewed relationships we never would have.

These reunions are always expect the unexpected. You know many of your close friends who will be there but the best part is seeing someone out of the blue–which happened often–30 years since I’ve seen someone made for many fun conversations.

The real crazy part is the perspective of it all. The current graduating class of 2016 looks on my class the same way we looked at the Class of 1956—could I really be that old?

So you’re telling me we looked at Elvis Presley

elvis pic

the same way these recent grads look at those plentiful one hit wonder 80’s bands?

mr mister

The answer is Yes.

It doesn’t matter—a big cheers to the Astronaut Class of 86–we’re still alive and kicking (like the 80’s Simple Minds reference?) anyway– I enjoyed seeing you all and hope we can get together more often.

Class Reunions —our first stop in another trek around the Naborhood, as always—thanks for stopping by.

YOU NEVER KNOW? : While my class reunion was one of my summer highlights, I never thought much of my TV Time of late would be devoted to—O.J Simpson of all people…

Yeah just when you though we’ve Od’d on the OJ melodrama, along comes ESPN’s five part 30 for 30 documentary, “O.J Made in America” directed by the talented Ezra Edelman.

oj made in american

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see this series but after I watched Part One, I was hooked. Edelman’s documentaries were a full throttle exposure of what an absolute phony, philanderer and in the end felon O.J turned out to be. Celebrity, Race and Domestic Violence were all major factors in the rise and rapid fall of a man who had it all and as we know lost everything.

If any human being still thinks O.J didn’t commit the double murder—you need to see this series which will certainly alter your opinion. For me though the lessons here were much deeper than that.

What kept coming back to me was how we think we know celebrities. I’m not a cynic, but from Simpson to Aaron Hernandez and most recently Bill Cosby—like the private sector, many of these stars live separate lives at many levels—it’s easier to think we know these people when we have no idea?

darren shaper

The biggest example for me was former New Orleans Saints Safety Darren Sharper. I covered Sharper during the Saints Super Bowl run where he was a bright, affable and thoughtful guy who was great to his teammates and always accessible to the media. I really liked him and wasn’t alone.

Currently Sharper is facing the possibility of serving between 15 and 20 years in jail after admitting to raping women in four different states. Nobody I know would have ever predicted this double life.

Like OJ, Sharper fooled us all outside the locker room but the truth is his own dark side shocked many of his teammates too. I still believe most people are good but it’s often easy to get fooled by the bad guys. The OJ 30 for 30 was another reminder that you truly never know people whether they are celebrities or not.

SUMMITT: While many in the sports world are exposed for being phonies, the late Pat Summitt was as authentic as she was successful.

Don’t let her infamous scowl fool you—sure she was tough but Summitt was as genuine as they come.

pat summitt 1 scowl

Sure Summitt won eight national titles, more basketball games than any women’s coach  EVER but most impressive was her work behind the scenes where she graduated every one of her seniors (yes all of them) and beyond that the way she dealt with everyone around her.

I’ve seen many big name coaches light it up for the ESPN cameras but disrespect the local media who cover them on a daily basis–Summitt was the exception. I know a few peers who worked with her locally in Knoxville during her hey day and will attest how great she was to deal with and how forthcoming she was to them on a daily basis, often showing more personality than her image would let on nationally.

pat summitt 2

I love this story I read from the New York Times’ Juliet Macur who recalls in 1997 leaving messages for a dozen top college coaches for a master’s project which concentrated on a new women’s pro league, the American Basketball League. Macur says out of of all the coaches she called for the story, the only one to call back was Summitt who told her at the time,she always had time for young women trying to make their way in sports.

Pat Summitt was a winner but more importantly was the real deal folks—no doubt she would have been successful coaching men too.

BUDDY RYAN: Unlike Summitt, Buddy Ryan was genuine but in a far different fashion. Ryan was cocky, often petty and always shall we say entertaining but his passing made me feel we will surely miss all of the above.

buddy ryan

A true testament to the uniqueness of Ryan was his lasting legacy of being  the only defensive coordinator who was carried off by his players after a Super Bowl, which was the case back in 1987 when the Bears beat the Patriots. His players loved him because he was great and he was different. We don’t have hardly any coaches like Ryan anymore, save his sons Rex and Rob who are individuals just like their ole man.

In this day and age of robotic coaches who are afraid to say anything, here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of the likes of Buddy who never gave us cliches. He wasn’t a successful head coach but was one of the best defensive minds the game has seen. You didn’t always win Buddy, but you were never boring—there is something to be said for that.

ANY GIVEN WEDNESDAY: Speaking of out of the box guys, many people like to criticize Bill Simmons but I’ve always been a big fan of the writer, producer and now growing TV Host. Simmons who said goodbye to ESPN earlier this year just debuted his new HBO Show, “Any Given Wednesday,” and I love it just as much as I enjoyed all of his work at his previous employer.

bill simmons

I like anybody who isn’t a cookie cutter and Simmons certainly isn’t. He isn’t afraid to bring an informed and creative take to the table which is rare these days. The best part about his show are the great conversations and debates he serves up.

So far we’ve seen him debate Charles Barkley on whether Lebron is a top five player of all time and then he brings in a roundtable on NBA ownership with the likes of Mark Cuban and my favorite author Malcolm Gladwell–you can’t find this stuff anywhere else.

I could have done without Ben Affleck’s awkward rant on Deflategate but don’t blame Simmons, it’s the kind of different interviews he gives you on this show.

Keep serving it up, Bill Simmons—I can’t wait till your next one.

NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT… I am very interested in politics but like you am already sickened by this presidential election, frankly on both sides of the aisle— but I have a good break in the action for you.

When you have time check out a great article in the latest edition of The Atlantic Magazine, “How American Politics Went Insane.” It’s a thought provoking article by Jonathan Rauch which provides great insight on our current political climate that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

atlantic politics insane graphic

Don’t worry–it criticizes both parties but instead of just pointing fingers at the process, this article actually gives detailed analysis on how we got to where we are and better yet provides answers on how we could possibly turn things around.

Refreshing to find a political piece which makes you think instead of making you pull your hair out—a great read!

EXTRA POINT: Can I just say another July 4th has passed and I just don’t get the whole fireworks phenomenon? I hate the be the Independence day Ebenezer Scrooge but I would rather just enjoy a quiet sunset and cookout with friends…..just sayin.

UNTIL NEXT BLOG,

Mike Nabors

@mikenabors

PHOTO CREDITS: allevents.in, androidauthority.com, youtube.com, finance.yahoo.com, nola.com, footballscoop.com, newsobserver.com, fabwags.com, the weeklings.com & theatlantic.com

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Sloan July 8, 2016 at 6:32 pm

I like Malcolm Gladwell, too: always an interesting perspective.
Thanks for an interesting Blog–on to the Atlantic article. Love, Chris

Reply

mnabors July 9, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Thanks Chris, always much appreciated you taking the time—hope you’re doing well!

Reply

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