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Category Archives: Sports

“Super Crip” Author Kills It On Philadelphia Radio Airwaves

Philadelphia Sports Radio Listeners Get “Schooled” During Groundbreaking Radio Interview

Rob Quinn, Author ofThe Adventures of Red O'Ryan:The Birth of Super Crip

Rob Quinn, Author of The Adventures of Red O’Ryan: The Birth of Super Crip

Gotta give a shout out to my fellow journalist colleague Rob Quinn. The Philadelphia writer, who happens to have cerebral palsy, has shattered a significant barrier and his accomplishment needs to be more thoroughly acknowledged.  So click “share” and “like” and “retweet” for the good of society! 

Gotta start with a little personal background:  

Many years ago during the rise of my nationally syndicated “On A Roll” radio show, I did a remote broadcast at a disability conference in Ohio.  One of the organizers of the conference was a man with cerebral palsy.  His speaking was difficult for me to understand.  He wanted me to interview him on the show.  I rejected him.

My rationale was that the conservative decision makers at the news/talk radio stations to whom I was marketing the show wouldn’t be receptive. I was trying to “expand the voice” for people with disabilities by increasing the number of affiliates and I made the difficult judgement call to not allow him as a guest.  I’ve long regretted that decision, made nearly 20 years ago.  

So, fast forward.  

On February 25, 2016, Quinn broke new ground by commanding the airwaves during a 15-minute (that’s a hellava long time) live radio interview on a top sports radio station in Philadelphia!  He was promoting his new book. John Marks of 97.5 FM “The Fanatic” was the host.  

While listening to the stream, I closed my eyes and put my brain in a very familiar place: right between Marks’ headphones. In the first 30 seconds, I cringed twice.  

My first cringe was in reaction to how Rob was introduced: (“Rob suffers from cerebral palsy…”)  

The second cringe was my reaction to the way Rob spoke and the fact that I couldn’t understand him!  I had never heard him speak before.  All of our communication had been online. 

Of course I continued to listen and what transpired next was self-revealing:  I started to listen more intently. I started to pick up on his speech patterns.  I couldn’t understand every word.  But I understood enough to realize that I was enjoying the interview!

I could tell that Marks was reacting similarly because at first, he seemed too controlling of the dialogue, pulling from Quinn’s bio as his “GPS” to a destination he had in mind for the interview. But as the conversation went on, he began to relax and let his guest make points that struck a chord. 

Like a true public relations pro, Quinn handled his business, first focusing on the task at hand: promoting his book.  Philadelphia sports fans learned that The Adventures of Red O’Ryan: The Birth of Super Crip, is a fictional story about a high school kid who has cerebral palsy and is being mainstreamed into his neighborhood school.  He is a sports fan and is dealing with a bully.  

When Marks asked about Quinn’s motivation for writing fiction, the conversation immediately careened off-road, causing the wiring on Marks’ “GPS” to go haywire.

  • QUINN: I wanted to do something fun and entertaining.  At the same time, I wanted to write a realistic book about a disabled character.  There’s so much out there that they (undecipherable) play up the handicap … a point without being inspiration and all that and a lot of disabled people are fed up with that.”
  • MARKS: “So you wanted to inspire, because I know you had written something before that said ‘I’m not here to inspire you.’  With this story you were maybe looking to give some inspiration.”
  • QUINN: “No!”
  • MARKS: “No inspiration!”
  • QUINN: “What I’m saying is a lot of stories that go down that road where it’s all about overcoming and all that stuff.  This is not that.”
  • MARKS:  “It’s not about that.  This is just real.  Because in real life, there’s not inspiration happening.  You’re just trying to live life and deal with it.”
  • QUINN:  “Right.  For example, when you introduced me you said that I suffer from CP. That’s ok.  I get it.  A lot of people say that.  But the way I feel, I don’t suffer.  I have a life and yeah I happen to have CP.  I know that must sound like a subtile difference but it really is a big deal for a lot of people with disabilities.”
  • MARKS:  “You make me feel like an idiot, Rob.  When someone says to me ‘You suffer from diabetes… I feel so bad for you.’  No diabetic feels bad for themselves.  You have what you have and you deal with it because it’s everyday life.  On a regular basis you’re not thinking about it.  You live life, so I feel silly saying you suffer from cerebral palsy.  You’re not suffering from it.  You’re living with it every day.”

Home Run!  Quinn flips the bat, stares toward the left field fence and rounds the bases!  Thousands of Philadelphia sports fans learn how to avoid feeling like idiots!  

I smiled while listening, but it was short lived as another cringe quickly developed!  Marks over-reacted to how he felt stupid.  

“I manage to stick my foot in my mouth every ten minutes or so,” he joked.  But that reaction is universal and it is one of the reasons why educating the mainstream population about disability etiquette is so difficult.  We want to tell non-disabled people what we think, but we don’t want to offend them or make them feel bad.  

I know it’s confusing.  You have some disabled people talking about how they don’t want to be perceived as inspirational.  And then you have people with disabilities like me who build their careers around inspiration.  

Here’s my take: People with disabilities, like any other group, are a bag of mixed nuts.  Some are smart.  Some are absolutely stupid.  Some are fun to be around.  Others make you sick.  And some inspire people while others host pity parties.  I hope Quinn has inspired you at the very minimum to check out his book. 

The Adventures of Red O’Brien.  The Birth of a Super Crip  

You can listen to the show here:

http://975thefanatic.com/2016/02/25/109028/


Footnote:

Rob Quinn was very instrumental in getting the ADA Fan Cam initiative rolling in 2015.  His article about my project was the first coverage of the campaign which led to 3 million people seeing fans with disabilities during Major League Baseball games on July 26, 2015 — the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.   We’re gearing up for a repeat this year, and adding our push to get fans with disabilities represented in random shots of the crowd more regularly throughout the season.  

Please go to www.Facebook.com/ADAFanCam, post a picture of yourself in the crowd at a MLB game, “like” the page and “share” it with your online following.  

 

“Boo-Yow” Must Live On!

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By Greg Smith

As I mourn Stuart Scott’s passing, I wonder if there is any closer connection in the media then that between the average fan and the favorite sportscaster.

The sportscaster is our buddy who goes to all the games and tells us the inside scoop. Their message arrives every day as a constant in our lives giving us the good news or bad news, depending on who we root for. Each does so with unique style and personality. Many of us force our way through the newscast because we need to stay informed, but we reward ourselves with the sportscast. And because of the joy they bring, just by the nature of what they do, we become connected to the sportscaster.

In my house, the voice of the sportscaster is the most prevalent reverberation booming from my surround sound daily. It starts with Mike and Mike in the darkness of the morning, and ends with the overnight repeating SportsCenter that I have fallen asleep on and listened to in my dreams a few times before grabbing the remote and completing the cycle. I’m not always paying attention, but the personalities on ESPN are constant company. They are my closest friends.

That’s why Stuart Scott’s death struck me so hard. In the hours and days since the tragic news, I’ve come to realize that what hurts is that I’ve lost not only a friend, but someone like family. Someone who was in my house every day.

Once, I aspired to BE Stuart Scott. I was a sportscaster from high school through college and worked professionally, ascending to broadcasts on game day for the Arizona Cardinals and covering Phoenix Suns games for major market radio stations. That was before I recognized a calling to broadcast about disability issues and built a show that was thriving by the mid-90s. And that’s when Stuart Scott came on the scene.

Remember how when we first saw him, we were captivated by how he wasn’t “acting” like a stereotypical sportscaster? He was being himself. And that honesty is what captured us and allowed him into our hearts.

After 21 years of entertaining and informing us, he inspired us with his remarks at the 2014 ESPYs when he was presented the Jimmy V Perseverance award: “When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”

I don’t think you have to be a cancer survivor to take wisdom and inspiration from those words. How do you live? Why do you live? In which manner do you live?  For me, at age 50 with severe muscular dystrophy, those words and the way Stuart lived give me a sense of urgency to live with the purpose of inspiring people and enjoying the love of my children.

Boo-Yow Forever!

Stuart’s voice is silent now, but I for one, propose that his feel-good vernacular live on forever. At some point, when the time is right, I hope ESPN decides to encourage the occasional “Boo-Yow” as a tribute to the man who was a friend and entertainer to millions for over two decades.

What do you think?

Record and Play

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The first mic I ever spoke into was attached to a tape recorder. I used it in my bedroom in front of the flickering screen of a television set.  Unable to ride my bike with the neighborhood kids, I was forced to settle for Chicago Cubs broadcasts on summer afternoons in the mid 1970s.

It was fascinating to me the way Jack Brickhouse described each play. It was more impressive that he managed to continue to talk through the gaps in activity while keeping the audience entertained. I decided to try it myself.  Joe McConnell’s energetic coverage of the Bears inspired me to do the same during football season on frigid, dreary Sunday afternoons.

Those childhood tape recorder “broadcasts” led to real radio in high school, college, and professionally. From 1979 through 2006, my voice was on the some airwaves somewhere, weekly. But in 2006, I suffered a personal and professional setback that pulled the plug.

Back on the air… well, ummm… the Web!

I am delighted to announce that the plug has been re-inserted. I just spent hours completing episode 2 of my new podcast, “Timeout with the Strength Coach.”  And I loved every minute of it.

I am extremely proud of the quality of the new show. If you listen, you will find yourself realizing a new level of inner strength, inspired by my insights and the expertise of my guests… thought leaders in the field of personal growth and development.

Testing… Testing…

It was okay for that young child in 1975 to know nobody was listening. But for the 50-year-old man who has a lifetime of experience and expertise to share about inner strength, it is crucial for me to know that you are listening, enjoying, and growing.

Once you set up your device to subscribe to the podcast, it will download itself automatically every week. All you have to do is remember to turn it on when you’re driving around, walking, jogging, working out, waiting for your flight, in-flight or whatever you are doing alone.

You can either listen online at WebTalkRadio.net or use iTunes to have the Podcast automatically download to your phone, tablet, computer or car.  New episodes are uploaded every Sunday night at midnight.

Get back to what you love.

I love radio. That’s why I’m back.  Is there something you have a passion for that you need to bring back into your life?  What is it?  Why not get back to what you love?

 

 

Losing and Still Winning!

I now have enough doctors

            to form an offensive line.

large_830 OLINE

By Greg Smith

I’m protected by all-stars.  At left tackle is my primary care physician. The left guard is my optometrist. My center is my cardiologist. My right guard is my pulmonologist, and my right tackle is my gastroenterologist.

It is a winning team. With their protection, I have plenty of time “in the pocket.”

It is no secret that one of my strengths is the ability to find pleasure when I accomplish difficult obstacles and emerge victorious. I always say that we get stronger by lifting the weights of life’s challenges. If I indeed ultimately profit from misfortune, I’m going to be rich. I’m facing cataract surgery, an esophageal scope and (I’m now 50), a colonoscopy all in the next month!

It’s all good to me. I’m brave with the knowledge that after it all, I will be even stronger! I’ll be able to see better without needing glasses anymore! I’ll be able to swallow easier and nourish my body better. And I will learn (God willing) that I am cancer free!

Lost a few teammates

As you may know, my sons and daughter have moved 1500 miles away and relocated in Arizona. I am proud of their independence and very happy for them. That’s the most important thing. I am confident that they will do well and be successful.

But from my perspective, I have three less sets of arms and legs to help me function. As a result of their absence, I need to be more independent.

Muscular Dystrophy is a disease that gradually weakens the muscles in your body. It is the opposing defensive line, trying to “sack” me.  It doesn’t do it with speed.  It thrives on sheer power… gradual pressure.

The gradual change is so slow that you barely notice it. But when the moment arrives where you can no longer do something that you used to be able to do it can be quite shock. 30 years ago, I could walk from my bed to the bathroom sink. 20 years ago, I could stand up in front of the sink and brush my teeth. Now I have to lean my elbows on the sink to support my body. 10 years ago I could independently transfer from my wheelchair to the toilet. Those days are long gone.

Not yet ready to call it a night

Two years ago, I could, with some difficulty, transfer from my wheelchair to my bed and vice versa. About a year ago, I got sick and spent weeks in bed. Extended periods in bed drain your strength and force you to ask for help. Instead of transferring independently, I needed help getting in and out of my wheelchair daily.

As I recovered, I found the struggle of climbing into and out of the wheelchair to be unappealing, so I started asking for help most of the time. At first, I knew that I was being lazy and could do it myself, but as time progressed, I started to realize that getting in and out of the chair was no longer a sure thing. It got to the point where I would only take on the challenge if nobody was around.

And then one evening, several months ago, I started to question whether or not I COULD make the transfer. Imagine laying in your bed and thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I can get up from here?”

That night I tried but after about a 30 minute exhaustive effort, I could not do it. I tried every possible strategic use of leverage, momentum and strength but I could not overcome the force of gravity. I realized that night that I was truly bedridden.

For a while I accepted it. Having the kids around to help me at all hours of the night made my lifestyle relatively unchanged. I could call Greg Jr. at 2 AM to put me in bed. But now that they are gone, my parents have to do it, and they like to go to bed early.

I believe in all of that “early to bed early to rise” stuff, but on the other hand, the silence of the evening offers me a great opportunity to strategize, write, and record my material which helps people build their inner strength. Sometimes I feel like I just need to be up at the computer typing or recording, but I am unable to because I have to take the help getting in bed when it’s offered.

Enough is enough!

I have decided that I am not going to give up without a fight. I’m going to hit the “weight room.” I have obtained the services of an occupational therapist, and I am determined to try to help myself more in order to maintain my freedom.

I am happy to tell you today that this morning I was able to get myself in the chair. It was agonizing. It was time-consuming (took about 20 minutes). It was physically draining and by the time I was in the chair I was exhausted. But I made it into the chair! That is the victory. That is what has energized me and given me the drive to have a very productive day.

Now that the kids are raised, it is time for me to move on to the next opponent on my schedule, moving out of my parents home and into a new life of independence. That’s the sport I play. I have a must-win attitude. Building inner strength for victory in the game of life is what I help others do. Its time for me to get back into game shape and do what I’ve been telling others to do.

Welcome to the game I play.  I hope you enjoy the battle. Consider this blog your online source for updates.  Bring me in to speak to your group to see the action live from your luxury skybox seats!  It’s gonna be a helluva ballgame.

Here’s video of an independent transfer from over three years ago.  It is much more difficult now.

 

NFL Fans: The Waiting is Over!

A faithful friend returns to our lives

Don’t you hate those agonizing daily countdowns? You know, the number of days you must endure until that date you’re really looking forward to finally arrives? For example, we have to focus on other things for 463 days until the new “Star Wars” movie makes its debut. We have to wait 107 days until Christmas. 35 days until the next “The Walking Dead” episode. (Almost there!)

But there is one special day that we no longer have to wait for. The start of the NFL season is here!

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America is celebrating. For the 30th straight year, American sports fans said football is their favorite sport. In a January 2014 Harris Poll survey, NFL football dominated Major League Baseball (14%) and College Football (11%), auto racing (7%) the NBA (6%), the NHL (5%) and college basketball (3%). Football’s popularity is rising fast, up 11% from 2013.

Now we can have some fun. Is anybody going to dethrone the Seahawks? Is anybody in the AFC preventing a Super Bowl rematch? Will the Chicago Bears defense improve enough to help the offense make the playoffs? (My favorite team) Will Johnny Football start games in 2014?

There are other questions millions of fans will be asking, every week, all season long. For example, here’s my question for the day: Should my Mississippi Muscleheads of the ESPN Iron Giant Fantasy Football League start Cam Newton today or Phillip Rivers? Pierre Thomas or Mark Ingram? Fantasy football adds another level of enjoyment to the game and allows us to interact and be a part of something fun. It’s not too late to play if you want to get in on the excitement!

For me, football has always been a faithful friend. As a child, I could count on football when I couldn’t count on my spine to hold me upright. It kept me company when I was left out of the neighborhood snow ball fight. As a teen and young man, it gave me a canvass to develop my art as a writer and broadcaster. As a man, it gave me purpose when I drove my sons to practices and games and camps. And in recent years, through a television mounted high on the wall of a hospital room, it kept me from panicking as my heart failed.

Having a passion, a strong and barely controllable emotional response to something is good for your inner strength. Football is one of mine. Speaking, writing, fishing, boating, traveling are among others. But I would shut up, get off the keyboard, stay on land and stay home for a long time rather than give up my NFL!

What are you passionate about?

College Football’s Race to Equality

Today’s Southern Miss vs. Alcorn Game Marks a Milestone in Race Relations

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By Greg Smith

Fans of college football are struggling today to find interesting match-ups, but there is one game on the schedule that I find very appealing. We won’t be able to watch it on TV. It is insignificant in the grand scheme of college football. It will have no bearing on the rankings or the NCAA playoff picture. You might have to concentrate to hear the score on Sportscenter.

Nevertheless, the game has historical significance and serves as a barometer of the state of tolerance and acceptance in our society. The University of Southern Mississippi hosts Alcorn State University.

Despite only winning one game in two years, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles are 18 point favorites. 56 years ago, in 1958, when my father was a freshman quarterback at Alcorn, there would be no spread because the game would never have been played. Alcorn, an all-black school in Lorman, Mississippi, competed in the all-black Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and only faced competition from other SWAC schools. Black schools were never able to test their power against all-white schools from the major universities.

In 1958, Southern Miss rolled to a 9-0 record and an NCAA Division II National Championship. Players such as Hugh McInnis, Bob Yencho, George Sekul, Willie Coats and J.C. Arban led the way for USM. That same year, Alcorn struggled through a forgettable 0-9 season. None of their players even made the SWAC all-star team.

In 1958, the field was wide open for Southern Miss to compete for talent with any other program in college football. Southern Miss was capable of attracting very high quality athletes and they recruited the best that were available to them. But there was one talent pool they and the other major colleges couldn’t, and didn’t want to access: Black players. The best African American players in the country were exclusively on black college rosters.

If Alcorn had played USM in 1958, a reasonable person would assume that a 9-0 team would beat an 0-9 team, right? Southern Miss probably would have won the game, but that same reasonable person would have to admit that it would have been “a game” and not a rout. Honestly, who knows what would have happened.

The landscape has changed.

Tonight’s Southern Miss lineup will feature 20 of 22 black starters. In 1958, those 20 players (or players like them) would be wearing Alcorn’s purple and gold against the Golden Eagles. 9-0 vs. 0-9? Throw the records out and enjoy the game.

In this game, the tables are somewhat turned. Southern Miss is rebuilding, recovering from a 1-11 season 2013. Alcorn enjoyed a 9-3 season last year. Anything less than a SWAC championship would be a disappointment for a team that is returning 9 starters on offense in a pass oriented attack.

“I don’t care who your daddy is.”

Legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant was famously quoted as saying, “I don’t care who your daddy is,” when addressing players on his team. He didn’t mean that in all reality.  He did care.  So did university presidents, boosters and the media.  They cared if your father was black.  I wish that quote had been true back in the day, but if Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said it today, the truth would ring out!  Hopson is the first white head coach at a historically black college. I’m glad we live in a free society where people are given opportunities based on their skills.  Tonight, let’s toss race and record aside and enjoy what looks to be an interesting matchup.

My parents met at Alcorn. (I wouldn’t even be here without Alcorn!) My sister graduated from there. Countless aunts, uncles and cousins got their education in the forests of Lorman, Mississippi. Today, I’m pulling for the upset. Go Braves!  I’m predicting a close game and Alcorn pulling off the upset.  Feel free to make me suffer if I’m wrong in the comments section below.

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Did Michael Sam Kiss NFL Career Goodbye?

Update: Sam signs with Cowboys practice squad

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Michael Sam was a league leader in sacks this preseason.

“It was a football decision.” That’s what St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said about signing Michael Sam in May and about cutting him from the team in August.  Hogwash.

The first openly gay player ever drafted into the National Football League is now jobless, getting cut by the Rams and passed over by every other team in the National Football League.

Sam was one of the most productive defensive linemen in the entire league this preseason, finishing with three sacks, and eleven tackles, ten of which were solos.  Every other player who had two or more sacks this preseason has a job in the league today.  Before cutting Sam, reports indicated that Fisher would welcome Sam to the “practice squad” if he cleared waivers.  That didn’t happen either.  I wonder why.

Sealed with a kiss?

Sam may have literally kissed his NFL career goodbye the moment he was drafted.  Had he just hugged, and not entertained an Oprah Network reality show and acted like a humble rookie, he might have a spot.  He might have had an opportunity to show the world that a person should be able to follow his passion, do his job, and contribute to a team despite his decisions about who to love.

I’ve read many articles and found several tweets and quotes from Rams players welcoming Sam on draft day, but aside from training camp support expressed by teammate Chris Long, those sentiments have faded.  The quotes about Sam are coming from the head coach, who (and I’m speculating) may have allowed the herd of his players (male sheep) to shepherd him in making the decision.

The Rams have plenty of justification.  Their depth at defensive line is stronger than many teams.  Nine at the position rated higher than Sam based on their position flexibility, athleticism and experience.  But none outplayed him on the football field this preseason.  Not even the undrafted rookie free-agent Ethan Westbrooks, who finished with two sacks and nine tackles and made the team.  In fairness to the Rams, playing time leads to better stats and in the preseason it is given to people who need to prove themselves more.

Michael Sam is qualified to be a player in the National Football League, but unfortunately, he may have showed up on the scene a tad bit too early.  He should continue to try to meet with teams.  Maybe somebody will recognize that they need him.  Now, like hundreds of talented football players on the bubble of their NFL dreams, he will have to continue to stay in football shape and stay in touch with general managers and coaches around the league.  Someday, there will be a tipping point where the needs of the team from a skill set standpoint outweigh the fears of distraction and loss of team unity.

I believe in freedom.  I’ve written about and spoken about disability rights,  racial equality,  and the rights of women.  This is the first time I have ever expressed myself publicly about gay rights.  But for a guy to lead the league in sacks and not even land on a practice squad anywhere?  Enough is enough.

It is ironic that the backdrop of this story is St. Louis, the fixation of the eyes of the world because of intolerance.  They call St. Louis the “Gateway City.”  Gateway to what?  Police brutality and homophobia?  Unfortunately, Michael Sam’s struggle has to continue because I don’t think the players in the league are ready.  What do you think?

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Update Analysis: Hopefully, I was wrong!

 

 

 

 

 

NFL’s Domestic Violence Policy: Getting it Right

Chicago Bears Fan Greg Smith

By Greg Smith

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a very smart cookie. Yesterday, he announced that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon would be banned from the league for one year for repeatedly getting busted smoking weed.  The same day, he made the public relations gesture to one-up the weed smoking penalty, kicking players who beat their wives out for six games for the first offense and forever for the second.

In doing so, he beat most critics at the pass. But not this one. I am a huge fan of the NFL and support the commissioner and respect the difficult decisions that he has to make to preserve the game and its integrity. But I am not letting him off the hook this time.

When he made the announcement, Goodell admitted bad judgment by suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for only two games.  (Rice allegedly knocked his future wife out cold and dragged her out of an elevator.) Goodell’s new severe penalties have been well received by domestic violence-prevention advocates.

“I got it wrong,” said Goodell about the Rice suspension, but claiming an error of his ways does not fully correct the situation. The new rule states that players who are “convicted” of domestic violence must serve the suspensions. It says nothing about players who “allegedly” beat women or players who did not face charges.

Ray Rice did not face charges. Therefore the new six game suspension would not apply to him despite his admission of guilt and video evidence.  So under his own rule, the commissioner lied yesterday when he said he didn’t get it right. He did get it right because Ray Rice only “allegedly” hit his then-girlfriend (now wife). The new domestic violence policy would not have affected Rice.

But Goodell’s timing of the new penalties makes a lot of sense. Without his PR intervention yesterday, the critics would have come out of the woodwork.

“You can beat your wife, but you better not get caught smoking a joint.”

The commissioner says he did not get it right in the Ray Rice case. If that is the case, he should suspend Rice for six games. Either that or admit that he did get it right.  I welcome the new domestic violence policy, but it is an affirmation of the commissioner’s initial reaction to the Rice case.  It is not an “I now see the light” moment.  It is a political public relations reaction to what would have been an uproar at a time when the season is about to kickoff… a feel-good time for the league.

Commissioner Goodell, you are doing a great job. The new domestic violence policy will make players think twice in the future about getting physical with women. But be real with the fans.  You need to either suspend Ray Rice for six games or admit that you had it right in the first place.

Greg Smith is a Chicago Bears fan, son of a quarterback and high school football coach, and father of two sons who played college football.  He is a motivational speaker who uses a wheelchair and has muscular dystrophy.  

You Can’t Win if You Don’t Take a Shot!

Shutting up the Negative Voice Within has Created an Exciting Opportunity! 

By Greg Smith

Sometimes, opportunity is right there in front of us, but we let it slip by because we listen to the negative voice within.  This has happened to me too much in life, but I want to share with you a recent example of what can happen when we silence that voice.

I was in an email dialogue with a producer at NFL Films.  He contacted me weeks earlier because I submitted an entry into a contest and almost won.  I emailed him, thanking him for the opportunity.  I added as a footnote to the email:

“For what it’s worth, I’ve always dreamed of being the voice of an NFL Films production.”

It’s true.  When I was a child, the voice of legendary announcer John Facenda, combined with the slow motion highlights and the dramatic music of NFL Films productions inspired me.   It helped me forge a passionate bond with football and sports broadcasting.  As a kid, I watched “Inside the NFL” on our big wooden color TV console while holding a Nerf football, tossing it in the air and making a fingertip catch of my own pass while diving onto the couch.  And I would imagine Facenda’s “Voice of God” slowly delivering the words… “a spectacular catch to seal the victory…”

All of those hours watching NFL Films productions created a desire to go into broadcasting as a career.  Luckily, I inherited my voice from my father, which translated into a formula for success as an announcer.

The email was immediately returned and the words surprised me:

“Not making any promises,” he said, “But we’d like you to read the attached scripts and send them back to us.  We’re always looking for new and different voices.”

Suddenly, a life-long dream never pursued turned into a real possibility.  If I didn’t put that one sentence at the end of that one email, this dream of mine would never have had the chance to see the light of day.

I recorded the scripts last week and submitted them yesterday.  I was going to wait for NFL Films’ response before sharing this story, but I changed my mind because I have a lesson to teach regardless.

I took the shot!

I created an opportunity for a dream to come true.  Regardless of whether NFL Films adds me to their voice team, I feel victorious just taking the shot!

Muscular dystrophy affects all the muscles in my body, including my facial muscles.  Some sounds are difficult for me to enunciate clearly.  The “J” sound in particular is a challenge.  It takes careful concentration and focus to minimize it.  I can hear it in the final product.  It may or may not be a show-stopper.  We’ll see.

Muscular dystrophy also impacts my respiratory system.  My lungs are small.  More frequent breaths need to be taken to get sentences out.  I need to sneak in breaths during pauses and mask the sound of the breathing.  And my condition results in a large accumulation of mucus.  That mucus needs to be dispelled frequently during a recording session.  My “spit cup” ain’t sexy, but it gets the job done.

Despite all these limitations, I didn’t pay any attention to that negative voice within.  That voice kept saying, “You can’t be an NFL Films voice because you mumble your words!  You have a decent voice but if you can’t articulate or breathe properly, you might as well not even try!”

Whatever, Negative Voice.  Now, like Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.  Will I be disappointed if they decide to pass?  Yes.  But this experience has inspired me to reassemble my studio and get back to announcing.  Either way, I am better off from taking the shot.

From now on, I will always take a shot when an opportunity arises.  And I will always do my best to MAKE opportunities arise.  In every aspect of life, I will never let the negative voice talk me out of it.  I want you to do the same.  Take the shot.  If you miss, you’ll still be better off.

 

Together We Miss Football

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Well, welome to the annual abyss.

The Super Bowl is over.  I can’t get into college basketball until March.  I can’t get excited about the NBA until June.  Baseball doesn’t turn me on the way it did when I was a kid.  There’s nothing in the sports world for me to get excited about until May 8, the date of the 2014 NFL Draft.  From there, it won’t be long until the Hall of Fame game and the kickoff of the pre-season.

46% of Americans say that football is their favorite sport.  Why?  The NFL asked its fans.  Thousands of people submitted essays and videos about why they love football to NFL Films for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.  I submitted my entry and amazingly, I received a call from NFL Films!  They wanted to come and shoot some video of me watching son’s game!  Donovan’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs were traveling to East Mississippi Community College for a first round playoff game.  Missing one of my son’s football games is something I hate to do but I had a speaking engagement on that date.   Now, not only would I miss the game, but I’d miss the opportunity for NFL Films to put mics on Donovan and on me for broadcast nationally.  We did agree that if Gulf Coast won the game, NFL Films would come to the championship game the following week.  Didn’t happen.  That was the end of my chance to go to New York.

But I did make a cameo on the big show!  “Football America” aired nationally on Fox and on the NFL Network.  Millions of Americans saw my 10 second appearance near the beginning of the show.  Check it out, and enjoy the whole show.  It is a wonderful, heartwarming presentation of stories about what’s great about America’s favorite sport.

Here’s a link to my “almost winning” submission to NFL Films:

Here’s a link to the full program: “Football America.”  Enjoy!