Dave Cook and I are extremely lucky to co-host a weekly radio show. We are living out a dream every Saturday morning and tend to comment about how therapeutic the show can be throughout every conversation. The whole experience allows to intertwine our love of sports, humor, and music into a two-hour window.
The music is an underrated feature. The amount of thought that goes into song selections each week can equal or surpass the sports preparation. We have an opening song and a closing song that have become “benchmarks” each week, but everything between helps sway the mood of the show, and certainly its hosts.
We are roughly a week into the new year and rather than stressing over music for the show, I’ve already been pondering a theme song for all of 2023.
If you read my last column of 2022, you’d think a front-runner might be “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I am continually trying to approach my crazy announcing schedule as opportunities and not a source of stress.
Yet, a source of stress for me is Aaron Rodgers, his team, and his fanbase. Yes, that’s an indictment on me, but any mention of “relaxation” is too close to one of his favorite phrases. Perhaps after his team’s dismantling of my favorite team to start the new year, a good song could be “Yakety Sax” -- more commonly known as “The Benny Hill Theme.”
Is that for the ridiculous performance by the Vikings, or is it for how incredibly thrilled and celebratory the fans of the Packers are about reaching a record of 8-8? The answer is a collective yes.
Just imagine the ridicule the Vikings and their fans would suffer if they were rejoicing in being where Green Bay currently sits in the standings. That’s likely because history tells us the Vikings would lose and fall short of the playoffs. If that happens to Green Bay, and then Minnesota chokes at home in an opening playoff game (therefore spoiling a season filled with jaw-dropping comebacks and admittedly good fortune), the role reversal will be complete.
I had most of those thoughts and emotions on Sunday night or early-Monday morning after Green Bay destroyed Minnesota. Tack on the infirmary that is now the offensive line for Minnesota, and I was distraught to say the least.
Then came the event involving Damar Hamlin on Monday Night Football. I was singing a very different tune. I didn’t speak as I watched the game, and even my wife commented that I looked visibly shaken.
Theme songs for 2023 that I thought of suddenly were “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, and “People” by Barbara Streisand. With all the games I watch or cover, I often have a vested interest in the result -- Monday night told me it had become too high of a priority.
Does that mean I’ve stopped hoping my favorite teams win? Absolutely not. Yet it did help me realize how important people are compared to wins or losses. People like the emergency responders in Cincinnati, both on the field and at the hospital. People like the coaches who chose human compassion over continuing a game. People like the players for the Bills and Bengals who came together with genuine emotion and reminded all of us that they are not machines or well-paid commodities, but actual human beings who care more about Damar Hamlin than anything.
There is no event in my own life that I can draw upon as a parallel, but I can learn a lot from what transpired on Monday. You can never over-value people.
Does the fact that I worked 12 games, did a radio show, wrote a column, and worked a full time “day job” all in the first week of the year (and will be exhausted by Sunday) really matter? Not compared to the people I get to interact with during each of those activities.
The coaches, the officials, the players, and their families are what truly make my jobs in sports so enjoyable. I was part of some big rivalry games this week, yet most conversations centered around how things are really going. In some cases, the status of some friends that are battling serious health issues was the main topic. Clearly there was more to life than the scoreboard.
I can’t pretend the prep, college, and professional levels are the same in sports, but is it possible that conversations between opponents are quite similar and we just don’t believe it?
Maybe I’m going soft or trying to convince myself to move on from the embarrassment of a loss by the Vikings -- but Monday changed me a little.
I’m not one who suddenly wants to cancel football, examine the sport as we know it, or try to place blame. That feels like an agenda. However, rather than scrutinize the game, I might need to be better about how I behave after the outcome of any sport. Wins will always matter, losses will always sting, but at the end of the day, every game is a chance to enjoy being around or watching people that make sports fun. Thankfully it sounds like Damar Hamlin will continue to have chances to be around those closest to him.
Hamlin will never see this column, and that’s OK. I hesitated to even comment on his situation because my opinion doesn’t matter. Yet thanks in part to his situation, my opinion of life started to matter in a different way.
Here in 2023, don’t hesitate to tell people how much you value them. Seize every opportunity. If you feel the outcome of a game consuming your mood in a negative way, “move along,” and not just because the All-American Rejects told you it was a good idea.
Sports is a major part of life for me until it isn’t. People make life great – and that’s music to my ears.