The Great 49ers Exodus…

 

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This picture sums up my feelings about my beloved San Francisco 49ers perfectly.

Well, it sums up exactly how I feel about our front office.

Rarely am I speechless but the past few weeks have left me with few words and a lot of head shaking. Let’s see, we have lost Frank Gore, Mike Iupati &  it looks like Michael Crabtree is next. Patrick Willis retired. Chris Borland shocked the world and retired at the age of 24. Justin Smith is rumored to retire. And please do not make me go back and talk about Jim Harbaugh’s departure. Yeah yeah, the retirements are not the front offices fault but it does not lessen the sting. Especially not when we have lost so much production in other areas.

It is going to take some time for me to get over losing Gore. Talk about stunned.

I really do not know what to make of my beloved 49ers right now. The team is almost urecognizable. Never in my life have I seen such an exodus. Sad thing is, the exodus is so unnecessary but tell that to management and I am sure you will probably get the same look I have been giving them. It is as if they want us to have to rebuild but why? We already had most of the pieces in place. Just needed to plug some holes.

Sadly, I wish I could say I am surprised that it has come to this. The writing has been on the wall. When the rumblings started about Harbaugh being “released” at the end of this past season, I knew we were dealing with some not so smart execs in the front office. I mean really? Who even entertains the notion of “releasing” a coach who has taken you to three straight NFC championships and was one play away from ring number 6?

It just makes no sense whatsoever. There is no logical explanation for this ridiculousness. Can we trade our president and GM? Just sayin.

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Stuart Scott: A Life LIVEdSTRONG

When I was a teenager, I had daily routine before school. Wake up. Get ready for school. Watch Rocky & Bullwinkle. Eat cheese toast. Turn to ESPN at 7a to watch SportsCenter. Over the years, my routine has varied some but the one constant has always been my morning dose of SportsCenter. It was on SportsCenter that I got watch one of my favorite sports anchors every morning, Stuart Scott.

I can remember the day I met him as if it happened recently. My sixth grade PE teacher, Ms. Graves, who has become a dear friend of the family invited me to go with her to Late Night with Roy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her son, Will, who was like a little brother was a freshman on the basketball team. Supporting Will was a no-brainer. As a proud graduate of North Carolina State University, traveling over into enemy territory was nothing new for me. In an effort to clearly let the masses know that I was there to support Will, only, and not the team I put on as much red as I could find. Red headband. Red NC State shirt. Red Chuck Taylors. Even in all my red, I was excited. I was excited that Will was going to get his first chance to really showcase his talent to the fans that would be cheering him on for the next four years and I was excited to see Scott in his element, up close.

I settle into my seat and soon Scott was introduced. I was mesmerized as I watched him command the crowd of thousands in the same manner that made him a favorite on SportsCenter. I could not believe I was seeing him in person. Then, it happened. He spotted me. I was sitting three rows from the court and I stuck out like beanstalk in a haystack. He was walking by the bench when I heard him say, “I know I don’t see what I think I see.” We immediately locked eyes and I smiled. Scott asked me to come out onto the court. Now even in all my boldness, I was not about to let him get me out on that court to ridicule me. I shook my head and told him to come up to where I was. As is typical with the banter between a Wolfpacker and a Tar Heel, neither of us budged. He gave up but not without making a State joke then moved on to something else.

After the event, I went over to speak to him. As I approached, he immediately smiled. He reached out to shake my hand, gave me a hug and thanked me for being a good sport. I told him how much I enjoyed him on SportsCenter and how he was one of my favorites. He thanked me, asked me a little about myself, told me to keep doing what I was doing and posed for a picture.

Stu

Over the past few weeks, Scott has crossed my mind often. Typically when that would happen, I would go check his Twitter feed to see if he had tweeted anything. He was a regular tweeter and the fact that he had not tweeted since November 14 was a cause for concern. As the weeks went on and the tweets still did not happen, I became increasingly sad. The absence of his tweets resonated loudly. Whenever he crossed my mind, I would pray; for him, his healing, his family especially his daughters, his colleagues, his medical staff, all those who knew and loved him. I tried to remain optimistic as I knew that wherever he was, he was fighting a good fight.

In July, I watched with the world as Scott accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPYs. It was fitting that a man who had dedicated so much of his time and efforts to the V Foundation was now on the receiving end of the award named in reference to how Jimmy V lived his life while battling the same disease as Scott. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to Scott deliver a speech that totally changed the way I looked at cancer. He provided me with an 18 word quote that resonated loudly…”You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”

When my friend Quincy passed away in October after a 10 year battle, it was that quote that often made me smile, through the tears, when I thought about Quincy. Quincy never let cancer define him. NEVER. He lived a life worthy of being remembered forever. He woke up every day determined to live and that is what he did until he took his last breath. As I sat glued to ESPN this morning, I knew Scott had lived the type of life he spoke about on that stage in July. If you were a regular watcher or ESPN, you saw it every time Scott was on. The only indication that he was in the fight of his life was the LIVESTRONG bracelet that always adorned his wrist. There was never any pity, sadness or despair. Whenever Scott was on, he was on just like he had always been. He was a living example of what beating cancer looked like.

Today, through tears, I have thought a lot about Quincy. I have read tweet after tweet from Scott’s colleagues, current and former athletes, the President and those who just love sports. I have watched his fellow anchors fight back tears as “he is” has to now change to “he was.” I have reminisced on the countless hours I have spent watching Scott revolutionize the title of sports anchor/analyst. And I have thought a lot about the day I met him in the Smith Center. At the time, I was still focused on one day becoming an athletic director. Thoughts of one day being a sports journalist had not crossed my mind. If it had, then my interaction with Scott that day would have been much different. I probably would have thanked him for being authentically him. I probably would have thanked him for giving hope to countless black journalists who strive to have a platform as big as his one day. I probably would have thanked him for never compromising who he was. I probably would have thanked him for stepping out on faith and trailblazing a path for others to follow. I probably would have thanked him for bridging the gap between hip-hop culture, sports and corporate America. I probably would have thanked him for being so great on the job and for being even better off of it.

I would have thanked him simply for being Stuart Scott.

Staurt, you nailed it as only you could. With style, grace and a BooYow to top it off.

Well done, sir. Well done.

{Source: Twitter}
{Source: Twitter}

The father-daughter story that is inspiring millions…

{Source: Devon Still's IG}
{Source: Devon Still’s IG}

 

Sports have divided us for years. The dynasties vs. the non dynasties. The haves vs. the have nots. The winners vs. the losers. Every once in a while, the tide shifts and rivalries are set aside as fans unite to lend support, encouragement and prayers to those who give so much to the game. There was the late Lou Gehrig, the late Jim Valvano, the late Kay Yow and the late Tony Gwynn. Recently, there has been Chuck Pagano, Pat Summitt, Stuart Scott, Jim Kelly and Lauren Hill. Then there is Leah Still…

Like most of you, I first heard of Leah this summer right after her father, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle, Devon Still was released from the team. What we would all soon find out is that their reason for releasing him was due to the fact that Leah is battling a rare form of pediatric cancer called neuroblastoma. Still came to the conclusion that in order to provide Leah with the care she needed, he would walk away from football. In one of the classiest moves ever by a professional sports organization, the Bengals informed Still that after being cut they would resign him to their practice squad. This move allowed Still to continue to receive health insurance thus ensuring Leah would receive the treatment she needs. Her medical expenses are expected to exceed $1 million and the NFL will cover 100 percent of the costs. A standing ovation is allowed at this moment.

The story spread rapidly. During a summer that was plagued with stories of domestic violence and child abuse, this gesture by the Bengals was a breath of fresh air. In an industry where the phrase, “It’s just business,” sours relationships and throws lives onto an emotional rollercoaster, it brought a smile to my face to see the powers that be put aside any thoughts of what can you do for me to view Still as what he is: human.

As news of the Bengals decision took over the news mediums, the organization took it a step further. Days after being signed to the practice squad, Still was upgraded to the active roster. After signing him to the 53 man team, the Bengals announced that they would donate all proceeds from the sale of Still’s number 75 jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research. Within 24 hours, Still’s jersey set a record for the most sales during that time span in Bengals history. Another standing ovation is allowed at this moment.

Not only have fans stepped up to the plate but different NFL organizations, players and sports figures have as well. The Philadelphia Eagles sent Leah toys and a basket full of goodies. New Orleans Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton, purchased 100 Still jerseys(in sizes small and medium) and donated them to the Pediatric Care Hospital in Cincinnati. Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly, who was recently went into remission, sent Leah and Devon a personal note along with an autographed football and jersey. Commentators have been photographed holding up signs with the moniker Still wears under his eyes and across the bridge of his nose every game, “Leah Strong.” And perhaps one of the biggest tearjerkers took place on October 5 during the Sunday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Bengals. During the third quarter, as a video tribute to Leah and other children battling cancer played on the big screen, the Patriots cheerleaders unzipped their jackets to reveal the fact that they were wearing Still’s number jersey underneath. The cheerleaders had taken a page out of the owner, Robert Kraft’s, book who announced he would make a $25,000 donation to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Leah’s name. Yep. Worthy of another standing ovation.

This is what I love about sports. The camaraderie. The selflessness. The unity. As I watched the Bengals take on the Cleveland Browns last night, I smiled. I smiled because I knew that Leah was attending her first NFL game. I smiled because I had seen pictures of her in her Still jersey, adorned with rhinestones as she posed for pictures with the Bengals cheerleaders. I smiled through the tears as cameras caught the touching moment between daughter and father as Leah waved emphatically, from her suite, at her father on the field. And remember those jerseys fans and supporters eagerly purchased? The Bengals, with Leah on the field, presented a check for $1.3 millions dollars to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital last nigh in her name. You know what to do. Standing o.

Whenever you have a moment, say a prayer for Leah, her father, all the little ones battling this disease and their families. Often times, for as much as their little bodies are having to bear, they tend to light up the room. Their “I can beat this” and “One day at a time” attitudes serve as a reminder to us to never give up. We have a lot of fight in us if we are willing to tap into it. In the midst of this ordeal, both Leah and her father have been very inspiring. His Instagram(man_of_still75) posts are filled with positivity, gratitude and love. Still offers up a glimpse of his relationship with his daughter. He gives her pep talks, she beat boxes and dances and they both enjoy life in the now. I admire the strength of this little four year old warrior and I pray that her strength will carry her into a life of remission. Continue to live “Leah Strong” babygirl! We are all rooting for you!

 

WWF: NASCAR

I was minding my own business, drinking a nice hot cup of hot chocolate last night when I hear my mother say, “Ut oh. They were fighting at the race, again.” I reply, “Again?! Who was it this time?” Immediately we both began to search social media for answers.

A few weeks ago, after watching the finish of the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte, cameras were fixated on Brad Keslowski and Matt Kenseth. According to Kenseth, Keslowski immediately drove him into a wall during a restart. The damage to the car caused Kenseth to drop out of the top five and settle for a 19th place finish. With two laps to go, Kenseth retaliated by swerving into Keslowski. Following the finish, as the cars rolled down Pit Road, a still bitter Keslowski hit Kenseth, again, with his car. When both players exited their vehicles, words were exchanged while members of their respective crews tried to separate the two. A few minutes later, cameras are once again on Keslowski as he is walking alone between two trailers. Suddenly, like a thief in the night, Kenseth storms down the alley and proceeds to put Keslowski in a headlock.

As a reward, Keslowski was fined $50,000. Kenseth received no fine.

I do not even feel like sorting out yesterday’s fight that involved Jeff Gordon and yep, Keslowski. Young man stays brawling.

NASCAR is a very popular sport. It is a sport that I happen to love but I have noticed something. For all the brawls that have taken place over the years, there is a never a major uproar about them. Sure, I hear people talking about Tony Stewart and the Busch brothers all the time. One would think with the amount of swinging and intentional crashing that has been taking place on the speedway, we would hear more about the “violent” NASCAR drivers. Oh wait, we are talking NASCAR which means it is ok for drivers to have melees on occasion because it is part of the sport.

One has to wonder though? What makes their fights any different from the ones I have seen in the NFL? Or the NBA? Baseball is known for its bench clearing brawls but these are seemingly welcomed just as much as the seventh inning stretch its.

So I am left to ponder. Is there a double standard when it comes to fighting in certain professional sports? Oh wait. I do not need to ponder. I know the answer.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Kassie’s Marine Corps Marathon Rekap…

Here we go…

Alarm goes off at 4:45a. I jam a little to Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own”(my alarm tone), cuts alarm off then looks at temperature on phone. SIXTY-SIX DAGREES. Huh? *cuts eyes at cute new leggings I bought for the occasion, shorts it is*

1. Miles 1-2. Feeling good, feeling great. How are you?

2. Mile 3. In 2012, I had to dodge some roadkill that was the size of a baby kangaroo. Sunday, I dodged some roadkill that was the same size. Did that joka not decompose?

3. Mile 3. I hear “Black or White” by MJ and start shimmying. Wait, is that MJ performing? I need a pic but homeboy is on the opposite side. I yell “MICHAAAELLLLLL” and keep going.

4. We’re almost near the Key Bridge. I’m still feeling good. Then I realize that I should because I am only 4 miles in.

5. Hey the Key Bridge! So happy to see you after being herding like cattle up that steep, narrow bridge to get here. I always wonder who’s idea was that?

6. My hair is twisted and it was in a cute little style until I got to the Key Bridge. Thank God I had enough sense to bring a rubberband with me.

7. Mile 5. Good ole G’towne. Happy to see you! Love the energy on M Street. Favorite costume out there…Ketchup, Mustard & Relish.

8. Miles 6-9. Rock Creek Park. This is new. We didn’t run this in 2010 or 12. Wait, is there a banana up ahead, running? Wait, is that the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man on the other side, running? Wait, I know this dude ain’t dribbling a basketball and juggling? You are doing the absolute most, sir.

10. Heading to mile 10. I hear someone behind me chanting what I thought was a cadence. Then he passes me. Dude is singing and is so far in his zone that he doesn’t notice how loud he is. Well, do you boo boo. Now, the orange slices are coming! Let me start walking because I have seen plenty of people almost get taken out by those things.

11. Mile 12. The Blue Mile. Hains Point always leaves me choked up. So many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Forever grateful.

12. Mile 13. Halfway! Yeah baby! Making good time too. I’m hongree though. This bagel in my pouch is not appealing.

13. Mile 14. The first of many angels appears. The first one was a lady with a fruit bar. I don’t like mango lady but today I do! That fruit bar concoction was on point.

14. Mile 16. Fatigue kicked in. Ugh. Legs felt great but I was drained. Called my mom for a pep talk. She could’ve easily been a Marine.

15. Mile 17. The Gauntlet. I have never wanted to kick someone as badly as I wanted to kick the man who almost clipped my wings trying to cross with a darn running stroller during the marathon. A two seater at that. If you don’t get out my way sir….

16. Saw the 2 Legit sign. Had to get a pic. I love MC Hammer.

17. Mile 19. The second angel appeared. The little boy with the Tootsie Rolls. I know he came straight from Heaven.

18. Bridge time! Crushed it and I have the pic to prove it. They didn’t have a fun Marine there this time though. Wonk wonk.

19. For some reason, the choppiness of the Potomac(I could see it out the corner of my eye, along with all the people on the bridge made me nauseous. Had to walk most of it.

20. Crystal City. Another angel. First, my girl Ta’She was there and she had pretzels! I needed salt badly. Secondly, whyyyyyy are the miles in Crystal City soooooo freaking long?? The energy is always great there and we need it because it takes forever to get through that mug. The spectators also have the best snacks there.

21. Mile 24. I am usually excited about those donut holes but I had taken in too much sugar. Then I heard someone say “Ooooo, a chocolate one.” I immediately stopped and a fellow runner said here take this one. I savored every morsel.

22. Before Mile 25. I broke down. As I stated before, I run for the Leukemia 7 Lymphoma Society and I ran in memory of my friend Quincy who passed away three weeks ago. The emotion of that overwhelmed me but I could hear him saying, “Keep pushing buddy. You’re almost at the end.” Once I got myself together, I noticed the baby tropical storm like winds I was encountering. That’s always what you want at the end of a race.

23. Right before Mile 26. Please tell me ya’ll saw the little boy, who is destined to be a future Marine, was out there. Before I even got to him, I could hear a little voice screaming, “Yeah! You got it! Gimme some, gimme some! Keep going! Fist bump! You got it! You got it!” Lil man was no more than 2 ft tall and was the hypest spectator I saw all day. Oorah lil man.

24. Mile 26. Customary pic with the mile marker then I hear someone shouting my name. My friend Steve, is right near the hill, videoing. I run over as well as almost run over people(ala dude with the running stroller) to get to him so we can celebrate.

25. Time to take the hill. Hi-fives. Low-fives. And smiles all around. I round the curve to see my dear friends, Jeneen and VJ, who have been at the finish line since the start of the race waiting for me. They are waving frantically and cheering louder than anyone else in the stands. Couldn’t ask for better support.

26. FINISH LINE. Quincy and I made it. Again. Thank you Lord! I PR’d too at 5:32. I’m 99% sure that is the last 26.2 for me. Always have to leave room for the one percent because I am the same person who said I’d never run a marathon.

P.S. Shoutout to my grandDaddy who passed in 2008. He was a Montford Point Marine(part of the first wave of black Marines to enter the Corps in the 1940s) Please research them if you aren’t familiar with their story. He’s the reason I have only run MCM. Can’t see myself 26.2’ing anywhere else. Oorah to my favorite piece of American History.

 

#RunningForQ #26point2ForQ
#RunningForQ #26point2ForQ

 

MISSION. ACCOMPLISHED.
MISSION. ACCOMPLISHED.

 

Two of my dearest friends who waited for me at the finish line. Love these two!
Two of my dearest friends who waited for me at the finish line. Love these two!

 

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My Get Hype Crew. OORAH!
My Get Hype Crew. OORAH!

Let the youngins live!

Being a teenager and young adult these days can be tough. Just ask Jameis Winston. Or Johnny Manziel. Or Justin Beiber.

Every day it seems like my Twitter timeline is filled with people talking about the latest slip up from this young celebrity or that young celebrity. Sometimes all I can do it just roll my eyes as I log off to avoid social media for a few hours or days. Some people love nothing more than to chastise those that are not living up to their moral code.

Yes, what Winston did the other day was down right foolish. Not because of what he has been accused of in the past. Simply because it is a stupid thing to say no matter how popular the phrase is on social media. It was even more foolish to stand up on a table at the Florida State Student Union and yell it out.

I hear all the time that some of these celebrities and athletes need to make better decisions which is true. At the same time, we need to realize that a lot of these celebrities and athletes we are raking over the coals are young. Not to mention they are human. Oh and they are growing up right in front of our eyes. The other day I tweeted that while what Winston did was foolish, we all need to remember that he is TWENTY years old. If we went back and looked down your personal timeline at the age of TWENTY, I am sure we would find quite a few things that you would never want blasted all over social media.

While celebrity status is guaranteed to some based on their success, these young celebrities and athletes are facing a world that their predecessors did not. The world of social media and instant news. Back in the day, it may take two to three hours, longer than that if it happens overnight, for breaking news to spread. Now it more instant than grits.

I am not going to sit here and pretend like I do not shake my head over and over because of some of these celebrities choices. At the same time, I am reminded that none of us are perfect. I cannot imagine the pressure that some of these youngins are under as they try to navigate the waters of doing nothing to rock the media boat to living, growing and making mistakes like any other young adult.

I am sure some will roll their eyes at my mini rant and that is ok. It is my Korner and I can say what I want :-).

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.