Wednesday, March 18, 2020
A President, a Hooky and a Plastic Bag
As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
What in the world? On 2 January, recluse Dan Snyder either crawled out of his dark, subterranean hole and into the light of day or begrudgingly descended from his insulated ivory tower into the realm of peons – choose your perspective – to announce the hiring of Ron Rivera as Washington’s new head football coach. The socially accomplished and endlessly lovable Snyder started the press conference by offering everyone a “Happy Thanksgiving”.
Theories on the bizarre reference? Snyder loves Thanksgiving – turkey, stuffing, yams, cranberries, etc. – and fixates on it frequently. This is understandable. Another angle: He meant “Happy New Year” and the Thanksgiving mention was an honest error by a guy whose modest public speaking skills have further atrophied after years of strategic seclusion. That’s probably the real answer. But my preferred theory? Snyder mixed up the NFL’s annual “Black Monday” – the day after the regular season ends when numerous coaches and front office executives are fired – with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”, milestones synonymous with Thanksgiving.
Whatever the reason for the infamous Snyder-ism and awkward start to the Rivera era, the turn of the calendar always brings massive change in the NFL. Washington is just one of this year’s NFL towns where unsuccessful regimes are getting whacked and change is creating uncertainty, excitement and hope. Officially, NFL stands for National Football League; unofficially, the acronym is sarcastically referred to as “Not For Long”, a well-earned adaptation that perpetually looms over executives, coaches and players.
But the NFL, with its non-guaranteed contracts and structure supportive of quick turnarounds, is just the best example of sports’ transience. Truth is, all professional sports teams ruthlessly cycle through players and coaches like mad chemists in some frenetic search for the magic (winning) formula. Down a level or two, eligibility limitations create recurring instability for college and high school teams. Similarly, age constraints make any experience in youth sports short-lived. It all comes and goes so quickly.
While that evidence concerning the rapid cycling of the sports world and athletic endeavors is factual, it is also metaphorical; I trust the faithful, veteran readers of bleacher views didn’t miss broader reference to the pace and fluidity of, well, everything. And with that, we have reached the The Great Crescendo - the part when President Barack Obama, Ferris Bueller and a plastic bag meet in a sports article…
A convergence so odd it must be an introduction to a joke? Maybe, but for now it will stitch this meandering story together. First up, Bueller: Our favorite hooky, warned long ago that “Life moves pretty fast…if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” President Obama, broached despair with this: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you.” Lastly, the plastic bag is from the movie “American Beauty”. In a poignant scene, characters Ricky and Jane watch a video of an ordinary plastic shopping bag swirling in the wind. It remained airborne, whipping right and left, and up and down, depending on nature’s whim. The bag appeared to dance to some magical, unpredictable and silent, but completely enrapturing beat.
Which is to say what about the speed of life? Well, a few things. That we all can and should occasionally press pause to absorb the fabulous madness (Bueller). That when the relentless pace threatens or derails progress, we must find the internal energy to move forward, to persevere, even if the direction is unsure and the destination unknown (Obama). And finally, that we are all tossing in the wind – operating with an uncomfortable (and unacknowledged?) lack of control – but that there are benevolent forces in the world to guide and that sometimes life’s most beautiful aspects are found in its perpetual motion and unpredictability (plastic bag).
I’ll now look forward to President Obama’s feedback that a commander in chief has never been so honored by an association with a disobedient high schooler and a plastic bag. What? He’s an avid reader. There’s a chance he reads “The County Times”.