Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Becoming Your Father

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

As I sat down to hammer out this latest “View”, news broke of a potential NFL coup to oust Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder.  Please let this not be a cruel tease.  Having lost my two front teeth many, many years ago, the removal of Snyder is all I want for Christmas.  And I’ll take the present early without an ounce of shame – I, you…all Commanders fans…deserve this. 

Talk about a great unifier, a dream shared by all D.C. football fans, regardless of political persuasion or demographic profile: Snyder getting the boot would cause Burgundy and Gold nation members to come out, come out wherever they are to celebrate like boisterous Munchkins after Dorothy Gale of Kansas dropped her house on the Wicked Witch of the East.  But we’ll see.  Snyder’s is the COVID-19 of owners; he gets beaten back, mutates and returns in similar sinister form.

Until then, there is this story: a fab four of old friends talking sports and the confusing passage of time.  We’ll call them John, Paul, George and Ringo, just for the sake of familiarity.  So, John pokes George about turning 50 this year.  George’s first thought is his pal has it wrong - he’s only 48 and will be 49 after a few monthly flips of the calendar.  Then it hits George – it’s 2022, he was born in 1972.  He is turning 50.  It’s just math.  George has always hated math.  Perhaps never more so than now. 

The reality stuns George.  His mind drifts to things of identical vintage.  If he is turning 50, that means his favorite Rolling Stones album, Exile on Main Street, and his favorite muscle car, the 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle (Have one for sale? Email me…I’ll send to George) are turning 50 too.  Both are classics; George…doesn’t feel like a classic.   

Paul, the oldest of the group and a few years into his sixties, offered George no sympathy.  Ringo, the youngest, sat with a quiet smirk, knowing any smart remark about age from the band’s baby would draw the ire of all others.

Mercifully the conversation moved from personal odometers to sports and the confounding passage of time.  The group consisted of Pittsburgh (John and Paul), San Francisco (Ringo) and Washington (George) fans.  With that backdrop, they jumped across the obvious topics.  From John and Paul: How can Ben Roethlisberger’s career be over?  Ringo, bad comedian that he is, remarked that it “hurts” to see Jerry Rice in Copper Fit commercials.  And George, tying into the lede, went on a five-minute monologue/screed about Snyder’s 20-plus-year reign of terror that ended with him ordering a round of shots.  Sheesh.

The conversation meandered to NBA basketball, where each of the foursome registered gripes about this generation’s players.  The condescending thoughts included lackadaisical, soft, three-point-shot-obsessed, matador defenders, selfish and competitive deficiency.

George, the group’s biggest basketball fan, spoke up after this healthy round of criticism.  He suggested that they all had become their fathers – crusty gray-beards barking from the porch that in all things, “back in the day” - where tough times built tougher character - was better than today.  It prompted a guilty laugh from all. 

George continued with a passionate defense of today’s NBA.  The shot-making has never been better.  The playoffs are exceptional.  Young players in the league, guys like Ja Morant, Jordan Poole, Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic, are must-watch.  Bigs like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have reinvented the center position.  The amazing return of Klay Thompson, after griding through two major injuries, and the reboot of the Stephen Curry-Draymond Green-Thompson-et al. Golden State Warriors, a transcendent team that will be talked about for decades, should be consumed, enjoyed and appreciated.  Sure, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were phenomenal, but maybe time has over-inflated their greatness, and maybe, just maybe, “these kids today” are doing comparatively special things. 

It’s food for thought, for sports and otherwise.

As George rose slowly and stiffly from the table, he pondered his genuine affection for this modern NBA.  Perhaps he wasn’t as old as the impending arrival of age 50 sounded – at least in mind, if not in body.   

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