Tag Archives: Jon Wertheim

After 33 years, an innocent man is paroled from prison. A great “60 Minutes” story on what happens to African kids who come to the U.S. to play basketball. And a restaurant in NYC turns itself into a soup kitchen

It has become a sadly, depressingly common tale: An innocent person goes away for a murder or other major crime he or she didn’t commit, and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the legal authorities ignore the evidence and keep the innocent person locked in prison for decade after decade.

Very rarely, the innocent gets out of prison, and often when they do, it’s the result of heroic lawyers, and also, very often, heroic work by journalists.

You may remember a few years ago I wrote about the incredible job Pamela Colloff, a writer for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine, did investigating the case of Joe Bryan, a Texas man accused of killing his wife, who had spent the last 30 years in prison for a crime blood evidence clearly showed he didn’t commit. (And seriously, you’re home and quarantined and have all kinds of time on your hands, go ahead and read that piece. It’ll take an hour or two but it’s so, so worth it.)

Colloff, who for my money is the best investigative journalist in America, meticulously showed how it was impossible for Bryan to have committed the crime, and also showed how absolutely bogus the evidence was that was used to convict him.

Through seven parole hearings over the years and numerous dashed hopes, Bryan was rejected for parole and seemed destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars for a murder he most certainly did not commit.

And then, a miracle happened. Through the massive attention brought on by Colloff’s stories, and great work by Bryan’s lawyers, a sudden reversal happened:

This spring, after Bryan came up for review an eighth time, the board reversed course, and on March 19, it agreed to parole him. The reason for the board’s change of heart is unknown; its deliberations are confidential and exempt from state open-record laws. But its actions followed a concerted effort by his parole attorneys, Allen and Shea Place, and his family to win his release.

But Tuesday, in Huntsville, Texas, Joe Bryan walked out of prison after 33 years he never should’ve served.

He greeted his family, and the 79-year-old got to go home last night to a world without the bars he’s lived with for so long (It’ll be bitterly ironic and disappointing for him in his first weeks as a free man that no one is allowed to leave their house much right now, after decades not being allowed to go anywhere.)

Justice delayed is justice denied, that’s absolutely true. But sometimes, through the power of the press and dedicated lawyers, justice finally gets done.

Thrilled for Joe Bryan, and major kudos to Colloff.

**Next up today, a pretty fascinating story from my friend Jon Wertheim and “60 Minutes.” It’s been an open secret for a few decades now that unscrupulous basketball middlemen have lured young, tall, athletic kids from Africa to the U.S. with promises of college scholarships, and future NBA riches.

Once the kids arrive, they’re often moved to other schools before even making one layup, and thrown into the scary wilderness of amateur sports without anyone to help or guide them. Often they’re left to fend for themselves and treated like cattle by agents who just see them as a path to riches.

Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 giant now playing for the Celtics, was one of those kids, and he’s vowed to try to help fellow Africans avoid this.

It’s a really, really good story by Wertheim and “60 Minutes.” Watch it here.

**Finally today, a very cool story from Brooklyn, where a big local restaurant has converted itself into a soup kitchen during this awful pandemic.

From WABC-7 News: “Olmsted Restaurant owners Max Katzenberg and Greg Baxtrom Many restaurant workers survive on tips; others barely make above minimum wage.

The owners themselves had to let go of at least 60 of their people.

On the first night of the soup kitchen, nearly 200 people showed up.

“The irony is if it’s successful just how terrible that is, having to cook for all the people who normally cook for you it’s sad,” Katzenberg said.

The soup kitchen got kick-started by the Lee Initiative, a restaurant-worker relief program.

The folks at Olmsted hope donations can keep the soup kitchen going as long as there’s a need.pivoted from running a restaurant to cooking and providing for their brothers and sisters who were laid off due to the novel coronavirus.

“It’s something our workforce needs after 250,000 were laid off overnight with a minimum unemployment benefit, our people need food,” Katzenberg said.

Awesome job, guys. It’s awful that this is needed, but I’m sure it’s much appreciated. All over New York, my fellow New Yorkers are doing amazing things these days.

 

Some thoughts on a fabulous first week at the U.S. Open. And a football team plays with 10 men to honor a fallen teammate, and scores a TD

SerenaRLY

I have been extraordinarily blessed this year in many ways, with the latest wonderful gift my having acquired a full press credential to the 2015 U.S. Open, thanks to the rising fortunes of my American junior star Reilly Opelka, who I’ve been covering for a long time.

As such, I have been here at Flushing Meadows almost non-stop since Tuesday morning, and am enjoying every damn second of it. I’ve been doing some freelancing for new places (hello, Buffalo News and Wilmington News-Journal readers!), hob-nobbing with some of my tennis writing/broadcasting heroes (spent five minutes with the amazing Mary Carillo Sunday; she’s fantastic) and seeing some fabulous tennis.

I’ll try to keep this relatively coherent but my brain’s been overloaded with lots of great stuff and I’ve been in the sun a lot this week.

Herewith, some thoughts from a fantastic opening seven days of the U.S. Open…

— Best thing I’ve seen, Part 1: Donald Young, a former phenom who was once hyped as the future of American tennis, but then never quite lived up to it. I saw him on Court 17 Tuesday come back from two sets down to beat the No. 11 seed, Gilles Simon.
Then, improbably, he fell behind two sets again on Friday, to Viktor Troicki on the Grandstand court, the best place to watch a match here. With the crowd going nuts on every point, Young fought back to win the final three sets, punctuating the win on match point here.

I was at the top of the stands for the final set, and it was an insane atmosphere; crowd was screaming on every point, and even the yahoos chanting “U-S-A!” U-S-A-!” didn’t bother me that much. (OK I lied, it did bother me. Does every international sporting event have to turn into a xenophobic “we’re No. 1” contest?)

Nothing better than the Grandstand court during a great match.

— Best thing I saw, Part II: The last U.S. Open match of Lleyton Hewitt was also fabulous on Thursday; he played fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic, and believe me when I tell you a stadium full of Australian fans cheering and chanting is about as much fun as it gets. Hewitt got down two sets, won the next two, went up 5-3 in the fifth, and then somehow lost the last four games. Again, the crowd made it special.

— You really don’t appreciate how hard, and how accurate, pro tennis players hit the ball until you sit down close. Madison Keys on Friday night hit the cleanest, most powerful shots I saw all week. She obliterated her opponent, and I thought for sure she had a good chance to beat Serena Williams yesterday.

And she didn’t come close. That’s how good Serena Williams is.

— Two Serena thoughts: 1, She first won the Open in 1999, and now she’s going to win it in 2015. Sixteen years apart, that’s never been done before. 2, she plays Venus on Tuesday night, and how dramatic and incredible would be if her big sister stopped her Grand Slam?

— Did a mid-tournament podcast with my Twitter e-migos Jonathan and James over at The Body Serve; give it a listen here if you want to hear three tennis nuts have a good time.

— So here’s something I wished I’d seen: A flying drone crashed in Louis Armstrong Stadium Thursday. During a match. Didn’t hurt anybody, thankfully. But that had to have been weird to see.

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— They honored the legendary tennis writer/broadcaster Bud Collins Sunday morning in a dedication ceremony, officially naming the media center after him. It was a sweet, beautiful tribute, with Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and other luminaries there. Two great pieces on Bud that I read Sunday: this one by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, and Mike Lupica, Bud’s best friend in the media, penned an ode to Bud as well.

— Nothing like seeing the “professionalism” of European media members openly cheering loudly at matches for their countrymen. That would be, um, frowned upon here in the U.S.

— Finally, this bothered me to no end: I saw a bunch of people throughout the week dragging strollers with babies in them around the grounds. Really? This seemed like a good idea, bringing your baby or toddler to the Open for 7-8 hours in 90-degree heat, schlepping them up and down stadium stairs? Sometimes I just don’t get people.

**Finally today, Arkansas Tech is a Division II college football team, and earlier this year a teammate, Zemaric Holt, unexpectedly died at age 21.

He was a defensive player, so to honor him, Arkansas Tech decided to start the first game of the season, on the first play, with only 10 men on defense.

And then this happened…

Very cool…

Michael Sam, poised to be an enormous NFL pioneer. A beautiful essay on being 38. And Jimmy Fallon sings with The Muppets

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To knock the Olympics off the main story of sports pages, TV stations and websites across the country Monday, it would take a major, almost earth-shaking sports moment.

Well, one definitely arrived. Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri, announced he was gay. Sam has entered the NFL Draft, and in all likelihood he will be selected.

Which means come September, Michael Sam can become the first active, openly gay male athlete in a major professional team sport (NBA forward Jason Collins, for his trail-blazing, has not played this year since announcing he was gay).

This is huge news, of course, because unlike Collins, Sam is not at the end of his career and easily dismissed as an insignificant player.

This is a kid who prior to Sunday night’s announcement to the New York Times and other media outlets, was expected to be a middle-round draft pick.

I’m thrilled about Sam’s announcement, because it’s long overdue for pro sports to accept an openly gay player.

And after devouring a bunch of stories about Sam, and seeing what a down-to-earth, intelligent young man he is, I have no doubt he has what it takes to be the Jackie Robinson of the gay movement.

Read this interview he did with Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, and tell me you don’t come away impressed with him. (For a great take on what it will mean for the NFL, I highly recommend this Tommy Tomlinson piece)

Of course there will be haters, and of course there will be moronic fans screaming epithets at Sam next fall. But finally, after we thought it would happen with Jason Collins, a major barrier to acceptance should come tumbling down.

Amen.

**Look, there’s a few guarantees here at Wide World of Stuff headquarters: such as,  if it’s February, I’m going to be writing a long post about the first Duke-North Carolina game of the season (Wednesday night, and I’m very pumped up!).

Also if Jimmy Fallon, who I love, and The Muppets, who I love, do a duet together, well, that’s a guarantee I’m going to post it.

Take it away, Mr. Future Tonight Show host…

**Finally today, I love stumbling upon bloggers I’ve never heard of and finding out how well they capture some of what I’m feeling.

Lindsey Mead is 38, just like me, and she has written a stunning essay on what it feels like to be this age.

Quick excerpt from her fabulous writing:

Thirty-eight is solidly in the middle of my life. Thirty-eight is realizing that there are likely as many years behind me as there are ahead. It is acknowledging that life is no longer a green field, that certain doors are closed, that some choices are irrevocable and that many of the big what-ifs that haunted my childhood have been answered. Thirty-eight is also realizing that despite these answers, there are far, far more new questions.

Thirty-eight is not having any more grandparents. It is hearing about the illness and death of my friends’ parents. It is going to funerals, and also christenings, more often than weddings. Thirty-eight was leaving my injured mother’s side before surgery a couple of years ago to run home to my daughter, who was crying that I wasn’t spending enough time with her. Thirty-eight is the middle place.

I read a few of her other posts and they’re also terrific; please check her out.

Jason Collins comes out, and another huge barrier falls. A unique baseball squeeze play. And a haunting essay from a gun user

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We overhype everything in sports.
Every year we have the “Game of the Century.” Every touchdown catch, every Super Bowl, every World Series, is hyped and hyped until eventually it loses all meaning, and we can’t really tell just what the big deal is anymore about any individual event or accomplishment.

But Monday, something happened in the world of sports that really IS a big deal. A really, really big deal.

A journeyman NBA center named Jason Collins wrote an essay for Sports Illustrated that was published Monday.

In the article, Collins admits that he is gay. In so doing, he became the first active male professional athlete in a major team sport to come out of the closet.

And a moment that has been decades in the waiting has finally arrived.

One of the last bastions of homophobia has been shattered.
The word “fag” and other homophobic slurs used to be heard in gymnasiums, arenas and locker rooms, spoken and shouted by fans and players, in every sport.

But that is less and less the case now, and as more and more gay athletes have emerged, people like Martina Navratilova and Greg Louganis, it has seemed inevitable that someday soon, a male athlete in a major sport would take the plunge.

And Collins is as good a trailblazer as any: Stanford educated, extremely bright, and a guy who’s established himself as a solid citizen and great teammate in the NBA.

As I and so many others expected, when the first gay pro athlete finally emerged, he was bathed in love and understanding. Collins was feted for his courage and bravery by superstars and scrubs, political royalty and average fans alike (Of course there was still the occasional bigoted comment, but they were so much in the minority)

Why now, Jason Collins?

“I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade,” he wrote in SI.”I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

Bravo, Jason Collins. He finally had the bravery and confidence to live his life on his own terms, and not be afraid anymore.

And may his courage today allow the other current MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL players who are still afraid to come out see that it’s really OK out here, and the water is fine.

A truly historic day in sports, and I’m so glad it’s finally here.

(There were a ton of beautiful pieces written about Collins’ decision on Monday; here are two of the best: Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated with an inside account of what it was like watching Collins unburden himself, and Bruce Arthur of the National Post (in Canada) writing eloquently about what this means for sports.)

**OK, on to less-earth shattering events. I’ve seen a lot of runners try to avoid tags on squeeze bunt plays before, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this before. Check out this play pulled off by Ferris High School in Ferris, Texas. Pretty sweet…

**And finally today, check out this remarkable essay in the New York Times by a man named Bruce Holbert, who recounts a childhood gun accident that saw him killed his good friend, and how he feels about gun control legislation today.

The last two paragraphs, especially, are particularly powerful.

Good News Friday: Dogs and babies, an unbeatable combination. An NYC cop shows great compassion. And overcoming loss by adopting orphans

Man I love “The Big Bang Theory.” Another stellar episode Thursday night, highlighted by our first-ever Amy and Bernadette verbal catfight. Best line, by Bernadette: “I’m sensing some hostility. Maybe because, like Sheldon’s work, your sex life is also theoretical?”
OK, on with the show.

Rarely has a news story based off a photo gone so viral, so fast. But you have probably already heard about the New York City police officer and his act of extreme kindness, that hit the Web the other day.

Here’s what happened: NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo was walking on patrol Nov. 14, a very cold night, when he came across a homeless man begging for change, without any shoes or socks on.

DePrimo spoke to the man, and then walked into a nearby Skechers shoe store and purchased shoes and socks for the gentleman (and good for the Skechers store manager for giving DePrimo the employee discount). DePrimo then walked outside and put the footwear on the man.

This all would’ve gone unnoticed if tourist Jennifer Foster hadn’t snapped the above photo, and then put it on the NYPD’s Facebook page Tuesday night.

DePrimo, in interviews Thursday, seems stunned by the attention, and also seems like a really good guy; he repeatedly praised his parents and grandparents for raising him right, and giving him the kind of values that led to him exhibiting this great act of kindness.
You just wish it wasn’t so remarkable, that there weren’t hundreds, no, thousands of homeless people all over the city who also need a little help. And some clean shoes and socks to wear.

Great job, Office DePrimo.

**This is very simple: Dogs and babies, naturally cute and best friends. Guaranteed to make you smile (unless you hate dogs and babies, and if so, please leave this blog immediately and don’t come back.)
**Finally, a heartwarming story from my friend Jon Wertheim at Sports Illustrated, about NFL player Scott Wells, and he and his wife overcoming personal tragedy and adopting three orphans from Uganda.
Always a good reminder to be grateful for what you have.

“The Big C” completely goes into the toilet, while “Nurse Jackie” shines on; Roger Clemens, not guilty but hardly innocent. And the amazing R.A. Dickey, inspiring all

I’ve been saying for a while now that Showtime has, pound for pound, much better shows than HBO.
Two of my favorites on the network finished off their seasons on Sunday. Sadly, one show I’m now crossing off the list, while the other is better than ever.
Since I subscribe to Don Corleone’s credo from “The Godfather”(“he insists on hearing bad news immediately”), I’ll start with the bad.

“The Big C” had such a fantastic first season, and a really good second season, too. If you’ve never seen it, Laura Linney plays Cathy, a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we watch as she and her family (Oliver Platt is her husband) go through all the different feelings and emotions the cancer causes.

I had really high hopes going into Season 3, but man, it was some kind of awful. They went in 47 different directions, many that made no sense (Paul as a motivational speaker? A woman who’s dying adopting a baby?), and basically completely forgot that Cathy is supposed to be dead soon.

Then in the finale, they just totally made no sense with character choices and motivations. Sad to see such a terrific show go into the toilet, but it’s just turned into a terrible show.

How-evah (channeling my inner Stephen A. Smith there), “Nurse Jackie,” the other awesome Showtime show that just ended its season, is as good as ever. Edie Falco completely rules as an ER nurse who’s a cheating spouse and a drug addict (pills), and until this season pretty much got away with everything dirty that she did.
Finally this year she was forced to face some consequences, and her life (predictably) began to fall apart.
But the show was SO much more interesting, watching her go through rehab, fight to get custody of her kids, and try really hard to stay clean.
“Nurse Jackie” is wickedly funny, with a great supporting cast (thank God they toned-down the obnoxious Coop a little this year), and has a lot of heart. The season finale was gut-wrenching in the end, but so worth watching.

So my official verdict: If you’re not yet, start watching “Nurse Jackie.” And if you wanna watch great TV, watch the first two years of “The Big C.” That’s all that’s worth your time.

**So Roger Clemens, who everyone in the civilized world knows used and abused steroids late in his career (and allow me to plug my man Pearlman’s excellent book on Rocket, which I helped edit), was acquitted Monday on charges of perjury in front of Congress.
Of course, ole’ Roj and his lawyers take this to mean he’s been exonerated from the charge of ever having juiced. Not quite the same thing.
I personally don’t care that Clemens got off, though I feel quite certain he’s a scumbag (though I thought that long, long before the steroid thing).

I just hope that more than any jail sentence, the permanent punishment for him remains that most baseball fans know he cheated. He cheated his talent, he cheated the game, and the last 5-6 years of his career will be forever tainted.

Like Barry Bonds before him, Roger Clemens was going to the Hall of Fame before he touched one needle. But like Bonds before him, because of hubris and ego, Roger Clemens may now never get into Cooperstown. (Although the feds may have turned him into a martyr; check out this excellent Jeff Passan article here).

**Finally, a much more uplifting baseball story. Have you seen what the Mets’ ace knuckleball pitcher, R.A. Dickey, is doing? Dude was a career journeyman, nothing more, and this season he’s the best pitcher in the sport. Monday night he threw his second consecutive one-hitter, and now hasn’t allowed an earned run in like 40 innings.
Dickey’s backstory is pretty remarkable, too; his new book (discussed, with his life, in a great story here) talks about how he suffered two separate instances (and abusers) of child molestation. I wonder if, in some small way, unburdening himself of his past in the book has made him a better, more confident pitcher.

So great to see a man who seems to finally, truly have some peace in his life doing so well.

College baseball teams have fun at rain delays. A great story of 2 Titanic surviors who were tennis Hall of Famers. And powerful photos of the day MLK died

As I continue my Countdown to Bruce (attending my first live Bruce Springsteen concert this Monday at MSG), I show today’s clip. Here’s the Boss playing “Badlands” in Barcelona. Can’t wait to be a part of a crowd like this…

This is definitely a trend I hope continues. A few years ago a bunch of college baseball teams, bored out of their minds during rain delays, began entertaining the crowd and themselves by doing bizarre skits on the field. The latest entrant to this wonderful craze are the Southern Miss and Ole Miss teams. The other night they decided to play Human Bowling, a yoga workout to the old Rob Base song “It Takes Two,” and many more hilarious activities including a dance-off (starting at 3:45, and proving that certain people should never ever dance in public. Enjoy…

**A fantastic, pretty-much untold story by my friend Jon Wertheim in Sports Illustrated this week. He writes about two Hall of Fame tennis players named Dick Williams and Karl Behr, who both survived the sinking of Titanic 100 years ago this year.

Amazingly, after their ordeal they played each other three months later in a tennis match, and little was made of their story at the time (Hey, it was 1912. It’s not like Twitter was around). Both Behr and Williams were outstanding players who were famous before the Titanic sinking. Wertheim compared this saga  to imagining if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both survived 9/11, and then had their incredible rivalry. Can you imagine how enormous that would be?

Really fascinating details in here, especially the part about one of the men having survivors guilt that lands him in a mental hospital later in life. Hard to believe a story like this has slipped through the cracks over years, but it’s  a great read if you have a few minutes.

**Finally, April 4 is a pretty momentous date in American history, as on that date in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. (As an aside, if you’re ever in Memphis, I highly recommend going to the motel and seeing the historical “museum” they’ve got there. Really moving stuff; I’m really glad I got to see it).

Some previously-unseen photographs taken by a LIFE magazine photographer named Henry Groskinsky have just been published, and several of them are eye-opening. My favorite among this group was the shot of MLK’s neatly-packed briefcase, everything in perfect order, sitting in his hotel room.

Check out all 14 photos of this epic tragedy here.

Jets. Steelers. One win from a lifelong dream. And a great piece on Rafa

I am a nervous wreck as I sit here typing this, late on Saturday night.
I am excited beyond belief. I am nervous beyond belief.
For the fourth time in my lifetime, the New York Jets are one win from the Super Bowl.
The last three times they got this close, the Jets broke my heart.
In 1982, I watched from the basement of the house of my family’s friends, the Katzes, in Monsey, N.Y., as the Miami Dolphins turned Richard Todd into Ryan Leaf.
In 1998, I watched from my apartment in Wilmington, N.C., as fumble after fumble by the Jets in the second half gave Denver the win.
In 2009, I watched from a sports bar in Ormond Beach, Fla., as a halftime lead evaporated under a hail of Peyton Manning passes.
I don’t ask for much in life. I’m a pretty happy guy. I’m a man made joyous by simple pleasures.
I ask today for a New York Jets win, and their first Super Bowl appearance of my lifetime.
I have seen all my other sports lifetime dreams occur. I saw the Rangers win a Stanley Cup. I saw the Yankees win multiple World Series. I’ve seen Duke win four national championships in basketball.
If this can happen today … if Mark Sanchez can outduel Ben Roethlisberger, if the Jets defense can stuff the run, if LaDainian Tomlinson has just a little more magic left in those old legs … my sports dreams will be complete.
Notice, I’m not even asking for a Jets Super Bowl win. More than any other of the four major sports title games or series, I think just reaching the Super Bowl is an accomplishment to be celebrated.
Of course I’d want the Jets to win the Super Bowl. But I don’t want to be greedy. Just get there.
Four times they’ve been in a position to bring me to tears of joy. Three times they’ve broken my heart.
It has to happen today. It will happen today. Jets 20, Steelers 16.
Please, God, grant me this wish, and  I’ll never trifle you with sports requests again.

And now, to get you fired up if you desire firing up, a couple of clips:

And take it away, Mr. Pacino:

**I’ve linked to Jon Wertheim’s work before here; he’s a friend of a friend and a super nice guy, as well as being one of the finest sportswriters in America. He’s got a new book out, called Scorecasting; basically it’s “Freakonomics” for sports. It looks terrific, from the excerpt I read in SI.
Anyway, wanted to point you to a fabulous story Jon wrote on Rafael Nadal in SI two weeks ago.
It’s funny, the more tennis fans that I talk to who love Roger Federer like I do, the more they feel like me: It’s impossible to hate Nadal. The guy is humble, polite to fans, and so unassuming he flies coach, still.
He’s on a quest right now to win the Australian Open, which would be his fourth consecutive Slam title, something even the great Fed hasn’t done.
It’s a fairly short story, but Wertheim absolutely sums up the essence of Rafa.
Read it and tell me how you could root against him.

The billionaire now working as a volunteer. And Mike Tyson as Bobby Brown is hilarious

I love, love this story. When great writing meets a great subject, good things happen.

Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, a colleague I greatly respect, has the story today of Joe Moglia, the richest volunteer assistant coach in the history of college football.

Until two years ago, Moglia was the CEO of AmeriTrade Corp., and was worth billions of dollars. Then he stepped aside to pursue an old passion: football.
He managed to convince the University of Nebraska to let him be a volunteer, and help out around the program.
He may be the happiest guy in America, going from his exorbitant salary, to now making pennies. But he’s happy, as happy as he’s been, Moglia said.

Check out this wonderful tale from SI.com, and remember the lesson of Joe Moglia: Doing what you love is so much more important than making big bucks.

**I stole this from my buddy Pearlman’s blog, I freely admit. The brilliant website Funnyor Die.com has another great entry up. It’s comedian Wayne Brady, and Mike Tyson, with a parody of the great 1980s video from Bobby Brown, “Every Little Step.”

I freely admit this may only be hilarious to you if you grew up in the 80s and watched MTV a lot. But I laughed my tushy off:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The strange and fascinating Sampras-Agassi dust-up. And random thoughts about tipping

After reading Andre Agassi’s magnificent autobiography, Open, I knew Pete Sampras would be a little peeved at Andre.

Agassi takes a few shots at his rival in the book: He talks about how Sampras is so vanilla and boring, and tells a hilarious story about Sampras being a very bad tipper.

For months, we didn’t hear much from Pete; whatever reciprocal anger or annoyance he felt toward Agassi, it was all hidden.

Well, it’s hidden no more. In one of the more bizarre encounters you’ll see on a public stage, Pete and Andre, along with good sports Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, were involved in an exhibition tennis match Friday night in Indian Wells, Calif.

Eight games into the match, Agassi and Sampras suddenly started jabbing at each other verbally, and it got a little nasty. Here, you watch the 4-minute clip for yourself:

For an excellent take on this encounter (personally I think both behaved extremely poorly and should be ashamed of themselves), check out Jon Wertheim’s column on SI.com

**So file this one under “just something I was thinking about recently.”

I’m getting a haircut Saturday afternoon, and Caroline is doing a fine job. She’s probably about 30, with dirty blonde hair and a pretty smile. She’s cute, and she’s talking to me throughout the haircut. She has an easy, playful way about her. When the haircut is over, I go to the counter and pay.

After giving her the money, I then proceed to tip her a few dollars more than I normally tip a hairdresser. I walk out and suddenly feel somewhat guilty: Did I tip her more because she was attractive, both physically and personality-wise?

I know service personnel depend on tips to supplement their income. And I would like to think that hotel concierges, valets, waiter, etc. get tipped based upon their quality of service, rather than their friendliness and attractiveness.

Am I sexist or chauvinist or whatever for tipping more attractive service people better?

And when I say attractive, I don’t just mean looks; I think friendliness counts, too, and how well that person puts me at ease. The quiet taxi driver and the gregarious one both get me from the airport to the hotel equally well, but if one engages me in conversation, and takes an interest in my life and treats me with respect, shouldn’t he/she get a little more coin?

I don’t know the right answer here. I’m just throwing this all out there. Would love to hear your thoughts.