Archive for September, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Brigance Brigade
September 29, 2011

O.J. Brigance continues to battle A.L.S. with dignity, but the terrible disease takes a horrible toll. No longer able to speak, a computer speaks for him. The words come out in a tinny, hollow, impersonal report. But when you get past the unnatural sound, the words resonate with tremendous power. Here is the message he shared with the team as they celebrated his 42nd birthday today.

Everyone I would like to thank you for honoring me on my my birthday. However I would like to take a moment to honor you. Thank you for not shying away from me and treating me the same despite what you see through your physical eyes. For those new to the team, I would like to let you know my spirit and attitude are strong.

And every day is a blessed day because I have had the opportunity to live life and make the most of each day. Everybody don’t ever take your abilities and talents for granted. You have a great opportunity to play and coach a game you love. Take time to appreciate the privilege of being here. Thank you for the birthday wishes as it means the world to me. Enjoy the rest of your day.

I struggle to comprehend those words from a man trapped inside his body. I’m not strong enough. But wow, do they inspire. Thank you O.J. for sharing your strength, raising money to fight this terrible disease, and providing an example for which we may all embrace.

If you  would like to purchase an Inspire tee shirt, proceed from which go to A.L.S. research, follow the link here.

The purple gift of love
September 21, 2011

Gretchen Blasser loves the Ravens. Really loves them. Always clad in some manner of Ravens gear, the Shrewsbury, Pa native talks of little else during football season. I asked her why she loves them so, “John Harbaugh”, she simply replied.

Gretchen, 55 years old and mentally challenged, also says Joe Flacco is her favorite player. But Gretchen did not have what she wanted most, a Ravens jersey to wear on Sundays.

That’s where Ravens Roost #116 delivered. Becky Stevenson led the charge to make a small dream come true. Becky runs the preschool at Christ Lutheran in Shrewsbury, knows Gretchen from the congregation there, and is likewise a giant Ravens fan. At the New Freedom Fest on Saturday September 17th, she and the Roost surprised Gretchen with her very own Joe Flacco jersey.

Gretchen seemed stunned at the offering, but couldn’t wait to don her own #5. Here are some pictures from the moment, hope you enjoy like I did!  Love to see Ravens fans taking care of one another.

Update: video too from Gretchen’s big day:

California Cool – The Real Jimmy Smith
September 8, 2011

Jimmy Smith sits by his locker, cruising through email, chatting with teammates and reporters like a ten year veteran.

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The rookie cornerback from Colton, CA, via Colorado University, carries himself with a calm, almost disinterested demeanor. Lots of rookies try this, most fail. You can see it throughout the Ravens locker room. Rookies desperate to look as though they belong. Trying too hard is hard to hide.

Smith though has me convinced. He’s the real thing. From the first day of practice Smith displayed the athleticism that earned him a first round selection, and the fearlessness needed to play corner.

When asking him about facing the Steelers on his first NFL game, implying the magnitude might prove overwhelming, he just looked at me like “What do you want me to say?”

Smith encouraged the Steelers to keep talking trash. He expects it, would feel disappointed if it were to stop. But he had little desire to take part.

His veteran brethren have made clear, worrying about he rivalry leaves him vulnerable on the field. Terrell Suggs told him just not to get beat deep. He has brothers to worry about all that other stuff. Just don’t get beat deep.

Smith also spent some time in the players lounge with Colts Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore. I don’t know what specifically they talked about, but safe to say that Moore had his full attention.

Smith told me his biggest rivalry in college was Nebraska, but believes that experience will offer little help Sunday. Most rookies fail to understand that.

He says all the right things, but anyone can do that. Believing them, and making sure others know you believe, that is rare. All part of Jimmy’s California Cool.