Sunday, January 13, 2019
A Law Firm Of Inspiration
As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
Another year in recorded time is nearly in the books. Unreal. Are we great again? Or at least better than we were? More tolerant? Appreciative? How do we feel about our government? International relations? National security? Fundamentally, are we closer to the nation we want to be…or should be? Does that great concept expressed in our Declaration and codified in our Constitution remain elusive or an end state we are steadily marching towards?
Lots of questions there. The guess is they produced many different answers. That’s democracy – messy, passionate and diverse in thought. At the height of discord, though, there must be mindfulness of our ever-binding ideals and an absolute, unwavering respect for the pillars of our nation – which is a fancy way of saying we’re all on the same team and in pursuit of vastly similar goals. Some of that important perspective was lost in 2018, I think, individually and certainly at a leadership level.
How to reset then (at least personally)? Another good question, my loyal readers. Thumbing through 2018’s “Views”, it seems your friendly neighborhood sports writer was struggling mightily with that daunting question throughout the year. The easy answer: just always be cognizant of our shared goals and love of country. But given human tendencies to be short-sighted and impulsive, a little additional inspiration can’t hurt - and I found some from the world of sports, of course, via the “law firm” of Gordon, Gleason and Alexander.
“Gordon” is one Josh Gordon, the former New England Patriot, who announced last week that he was taking a leave of absence from football to focus on his mental health and was subsequently suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating the terms of his prior reinstatement. “Gleason” is Steve Gleason, a former member of the New Orleans Saints who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. “Alexander” refers to Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander who was just announced as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the second consecutive year.
How to stitch this together into something useful for 2019? More questions. Here it goes…
On the surface, Josh Gordon appears to have it all – big, physical and uber-talented. He’s the physical mold for an NFL wide receiver. But Gordon has struggled for years with his mental health. I was hopeful that his trade from Cleveland earlier this year would give him fresh start in New England. If it was only that easy…
Gleason was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, which is, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award. In his acceptance letter, he noted that his ALS battle has entered its eighth “season”, matching the length of his NFL career. Gleason also noted another parallel between his football career and life with ALS – the good fortune to have a strong “team” of supporters around him.
Alexander…where to start with this guy? An undrafted free agent, Alexander bounced across three teams before finally making his debut with Washington. He spent time as an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, a special teams dynamo and, ultimately and in his thirties, a Pro Bowl linebacker (no, that’s not a joke). Through it all, he’s been an endless source of positivity and do-good-ery, as those back-to-back Walter Payton Man of the Year nominations attest. Alexander is simply one of the best dudes in professional sports…or the planet.
Collectively, there is much to be learned and applied from this “law firm” in 2019. In Gordon, we are reminded that the surface rarely tells the story and that every one of us is struggling with something life has dropped on our doorstep; so be gentle, patient and kind with fellow humans. In Gleason, we see the power of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity and also the humble admission that no mountain is climbed alone. And finally, there’s Alexander. His challenge is simple but perfect for the holiday season: Find a way to give back and, to steal a lyric from Diana Ross, “Make this world a better place, if you can.”
To you and yours, a happy and healthy 2019.