Millions around the world mourned Nelson Mandela’s passing over the weekend, and rarely has one man been so universally loved and admired (Except by the Facebook friends of Sen. Ted Cruz, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
I think of all the reasons Mandela is so wildly praised and admired, the one that has always made him such a hero to me is that after 27 years in prison, he emerged without bitterness or rancor. He was wronged, he had more than 25 percent of his life taken away for no good reason other than that he had dark skin, and yet when he finally emerged in 1990, he spoke of peace and reconciliation. (I found this speech he gave in April, 1990 very moving; it was his first major public appearance after being released)
Could any of us really not be bitter after such a traumatic stay in prison for that long? We’ve seen some wrongly convicted prisoners get out and say they’re free of anger, but it’s rare.
And for Mandela to have such an amazing “second act” as South Africa’s President, and help usher that nation through such turmoil, was amazing to watch.
I truly wonder whether we’ll ever see a man like Nelson Mandela again.
**Next up, it’s not every day you see the ageless Regis Philbin singing a duet with an NBA player.
But ex-Indiana star and current Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who-oh-by-the-way is really good vocally and on the court, decided to harmonize with Reege to the classic “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”
I thought it was fabulous.
**Finally, another insane day in the NFL, with maybe the most surprising thing being not Matt Prater of the Broncos setting a new NFL record with a 64-yard field goal, not there being four touchdowns in the final three minutes of the wild Vikings-Ravens game, and not even the Patriots stealing yet another game they had no business winning.
Nope, the most surprising thing is that the New York Jets scored THIRTY-SEVEN points! That’s right, THIRTY-SEVEN! (cue all of you who love the movie “Clerks” like I do going “Thirty-seven???”)
Yep, all it took was a team more putrid than my Gang Green, a special teams touchdown, and Geno Smith only making two really horrible throws all game, and the Jets won.
Geno was terrific, using his legs and his arm to make several nice plays, throw for one TD and run for another. For once, he didn’t force things.
Of course, the Jets defense was putrid, Ed Reed needs to be put out to pasture, fast (nothing like KO’ing your own teammate while a Raider ran for a TD), and they’re still a longshot for the playoffs.
But for one day, it was nice to see my team score some points.
Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts:
— It’s been said many times before, but man, the Browns really know how to torture their fans. For three quarters they dominated the Pats, and went up 26-14 with a little more than three minutes left. And still lost.
— Never seen a finish quite like Vikings-Ravens, with five lead changes in the final 2:05. I watched it at the bar with my mouth open and jaw on the floor the whole time.
— And did you see the finish of Dolphins-Steelers? With the Dolphins up six, on the last play of the game the Steelers tried one of those crazy lateral plays where nine guys touch the ball, and it ended up in the hands of Antonio Brown, who ran for a touchdown to win the game … except he stepped out of bounds at one point.
— Love it when we get some snow games in the NFL! We had a bunch Sunday, though Lions-Eagles had the worst weather (above). I always feel sorry for the poor fans who sit through that, and the guys in the officiating crew who carry the chains. But it sure is fun watching players slide around in the snow.
— Finally, the 64-yard FG by Prater really was amazing; check it out here. Kind of amazing that the 63-yard record lasted for four decades.