Two thoughtful essays by pro athletes, on NFL locker rooms and the Ukraine (naturally). The new IronPigs uniforms rule. And a brilliant Hollywood impersonator

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A couple of personal-ish plugs before the usual post today: First, I wrote a story for Thrive Sports that I thought turned out pretty well, about Kevin Grow, a high school senior with Down Syndrome in Bensalem, Pa. who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter of a game a few weeks ago, and since then has become world-famous, with the 76ers and Harlem Globetrotters “signing” him. Please check it out if you have a chance.

Also, my boy Jeff Pearlman, as good a friend as a person can have, has written another outstanding book that came out Tuesday, about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers. It’s called “Showtime,” and you can order it here, for yourself or anyone you know who loves the NBA. OK, plugs over.

One of the great trends of the last few years, and I’ve written about this before, is the incredible amount of thoughtful essays and commentary we’re seeing from pro athletes.

Oh, of course we still have the moron jocks and ex-jocks like Randy Moss and Dennis Rodman and Richie Incognito, but there are plenty of well-spoken, strong-minded stars who, thanks to the Internet, have found a place to show they’re not just mindless athletes.

Wanted to share two completely different pieces I read Tuesday that I thought were excellent. First, with everything that’s going on in the Ukraine these days, it’d be great to hear from a famous Ukrainian about the hopes and fears he has for his homeland.
Tennis player Sergei Stakhovsky, who beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year, is from there, and wrote this moving piece about his country.

Money quote: In light of the Russians’ move on Crimea, the circumstances are just getting worse. When my country thought that it could breathe freely, we are now being held hostage by a country we trusted the most … It’s never a good feeling when your country is on every newscast and the front page of every newspaper daily. Then again, I am thankful to the international media (not Russian) for showing the real picture and real reasons for the Ukraine Revolution.
And I will play on.

The other great piece I read today was a few days old, written by NFL player Connor Barwin of the Philadelphia Eagles. After the final report about the Incognito-Martin Miami Dolphins bullying scandal was released, Barwin felt compelled to write about what it was really like in most NFL locker rooms. Read his eloquent, emotional piece here.
Money quote: My workplace is not the typical American workplace. It’s far from perfect, but then again, so are we. And, maybe, so is this sport we play. When it’s all said and done, we all will miss the screaming fans, the big games, the packed stadiums, the adrenaline of competition. But the thing I hear the most from guys who retire is how much they miss the locker room. 

**Next up, a man named Piotr Michael pretty much blew my mind with these impressions of major Hollywood actors. Seriously, the Steve Martin and Liam Neeson ones are scary-good.

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**And finally, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the minor league baseball zanies who brought you the urinal gaming system, are back with bacon-themed Saturday uniforms for the upcoming season. They will have bacon strips on their caps, and on their pant legs, and will also be selling scratch and sniff bacon-inspired T-shirts.

The spirit of Bill Veeck is alive and well, ladies and gentlemen. And it lives in the marketing office of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

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