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Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
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‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
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Top Athletes Should
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Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
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"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
In order to provide time for more fact-gathering and comment-writing at the start of each week, the regular pattern for weekly availability of my column will be every Thursday at 12:01 a.m. instead of Wednesday.
Harold W. Andersen
July 24, 2008
After I dictated the advice to Brett Favre suggested in the headline above, 53-year-old Greg Norman exploded back into the headlines by leading the British Open after the first three rounds.
I wondered whether the advice written for Favre would have to be modified in view of what Norman was doing at the Royal Birkdale course in England. Then, on Sunday, Norman shot a 77, moving him from the third-round leadership to a tie for third place after the final round. It was the seventh time that Norman had lost a major championship after being in the lead at the start of the final round.
I decided that my advice to Brett Favre was still valid: Know when the quit. I might add this amendment in my advice to Favre: Remember that you can't pick the occasional football game in which you would attempt to shine again, as Norman is able to do in the case of major golf tournaments.
Brett Favre has been a superb athlete, a legendary National Football League quarterback. But his apparent desire to hang on past his prime, to run the risk of a disappointing end to a record-filled career—like, one might add, some business executives and politicians hang on—does not present an attractive picture.
The management of the Green Bay Packers, I believe, had it right—2007 should have been the last year for Brett Favre to play football as an NFL quarterback. So the Packers' managers may have done Favre a favor when they made clear they would not release him from his contract so he could try to catch on with another NFL team—which he almost certainly could have done. The management also made clear that Favre should not count on being the starting quarterback at Green Bay in 2008 if he exercises his option of returning to the Packers' roster.
The history of great athletes trying for "just one more season" or perhaps "just a few more seasons" is not a happy one.
One need look no further than Roger Clemens, who was lured by the New York Yankees' money and his own ego to try a comeback last year at age 45.
Clemens presumably retired following a 7-6 season with Houston in 2006. (He had also presumably retired in 2004.) But then came a big-money offer from the Yankees, resulting in a 6-6 season with the Yankees last year and Clemens' third retirement decision.
All in all, a performance in his later years that, in my judgment, took some of the luster off Clemens' reputation. The image of an all-star hanging on too long is not an attractive one.
This phenomenon goes back at least as long ago as the 1930s in the case of George Herman (Babe) Ruth, the legendary New York Yankee outfielder who had a lifetime batting average of .343 and more homeruns per at-bats than any player in baseball history.
In his 21st year in the major leagues, most of them with the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth's batting average in 1934 at age 39 was .288, a pretty clear sign that is was time to consider going into an acclaimed retirement. But the Bambino attempted to hang on for one more season. In 1935 at age 40, he played 28 games for the Boston Braves and compiled a .181 batting average.
Then there were the smart ones, like Tyrus Raymond Cobb. In 1928, at age 41, the Detroit Tigers superstar outfielder had a .323 batting average-remarkable for a major league player of any age, but 34 points below his 1927 average of .357. The .323 was his lowest average in 22 years.
Fast forward to2008 and the case of Brett Lorenzo Favre, who will be 39 next October 10. Favre's "best" and "most" records made him a football legend. For a single example, he is the only three-time Associated Press "most valuable player" in National Football League history.
But those three "most valuable" awards came to Favre more than 10 years ago
Why not bow out while you're ahead, Brett, and avoid the risk of the career-ending disappointments suffered by such superstars such as Babe Ruth and Roger Clemens?
Let me quickly acknowledge that, as I have reported, I have on more than one occasion been advised that I'm overdue for retirement. In the words of one such reader: "Why don't you just retire?"
Another reader who suggested retirement called me an "idiot" but ended his message with these words: "Have a nice day"—presumably, a nice day in retirement.
Such advice, I'm pleased to say, is the theme of a very small percentage of messages which readers have been kind enough to send my way.
I prefer, of course, letters like one from an Omaha reader who indicated she had not realized that my columns, which had been printed in The World-Herald, have been replaced by this weekly column available each Thursday morning on www.HaroldAndersen.com. She wrote: "How good it is to read your thoughts again! I enjoy them all-even those with which I don't agree."
* * *
Prosecution of alleged white-collar criminals doesn't require parading them from the courthouse to the slammer with their hands handcuffed behind their backs.
In the first place, such parades involve persons, customarily business executives, who are being charged with criminal activity but have not been found guilty. Some of those handcuffed defendants, being paraded before news cameramen before being released on bond, will be found not guilty.
Another argument—an argument for which I believe there is no responsible answer—is that the only rationale for handcuffs would be that these defendants must be restrained lest they break free and escape from those deputy sheriffs or deputy marshals marching beside them.
The people who order the handcuffs applied know very well that the defendants in such cases customarily pose no such threat. Let the justice system work without the show business overtones of parading handcuffed defendants before news cameramen.
* * *
Are we confronted with a surfeit of fund-raising "galas" in Omaha?
It sometimes seems there must be at least one fund-raising "gala" a month. Not all of the fund-raising events, of course, are called "galas," but that seems to be an increasingly popular description for an event asking people to take a table for 10 for $5,000—or perhaps just buy a couple of tickets for $150 each.
I'm not suggesting these aren't worthy causes. It's the proliferation that I'm talking about. Sponsors seem to feel that it is an attractive prospect to offer donors what is usually described as a festive evening starting with cocktails and a silent auction, then a gourmet dinner and, increasingly these days, a live auction after dinner, then a singing performance and/or dancing.
Attractive as such a festive fund-raising evening may be, how many of them can you be expected to attend each year?
It's reached the point where generous corporations may take a "corporate table" for a gala and then have a hard time finding people willing to fill the seats available.
How about trying some "Spend the Night at Home" galas? You could, so to speak, buy your way out of attending yet another of the cocktail hour/silent auction/gourmet dinner/live auction/live entertainment evenings by a contribution to a non-event which allows you to spend the evening at home. And the contribution would be fully deductible, unlike the evening-out galas, and there wouldn't be tables that sponsors would have to recruit people to fill.
If this sounds curmudgeonly, so be it. But I'll wager that I'm speaking for more than a few of the people who are on a sort of "gala hit list."
Oh, yes, I almost forgot the invitations to dinners for presumably good causes which you've never heard of until you received the invitation. There seems to be a growing number of these in our community.
* * *
Marian is usually very good about remembering days on which it is especially appropriate to display our American flag from a pole attached to the front yard fence, but even her steel-trap memory sometimes misfires.
On Monday, July 14, on her way to a book club meeting, she called to remind me to put out the flag because "it's Flag Day." On one of the relatively rare occasions when my mature memory tops her steel-trap recollections, I informed her that Flag Day is June 14, not July 14.
"Oh, that's right," Marian replied. "Today is Bastille Day," then added the tongue-in-cheek observation that "Of course, we don't have a French flag."
I didn't bother to inform her that I saw no reason for us to acquire a French flag to help join in a celebration of the fall of the notorious French prison, the Bastille, on July 14, 1789, a date celebrated by the French as the beginning of their successful struggle for independence from royal rule.
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