Very rarely am I sentimental and it’s even more rare that I celebrate. I describe myself to others as being “somewhere between two and eight on the emotion scale. Never too low, never too high.” I have always expressed reflection, however, and with an hour remaining before I turn 30 and my age ceases to begin with a 2, reflecting is what I’m doing. Every single important or monumental moment in my life except my birth, graduating high school, and learning what it means to love another person occurred in my twenties.
I didn’t celebrate turning 20 and saying goodbye to my teens. I didn’t celebrate turning 21 and being able to legally drink. I didn’t celebrate turning 25 and being “halfway to 30.” I aged, at least in my own head and heart, like nothing was different. I grew up in years but largely remained the same in belief and personality, with a few lessons learned with each passing year. I became legally licensed at 20, long after my friends and people I went to school with did. Growing up I never had the support of my parents and the ability to develop skills and have opportunities that others did. My household wasn’t one that promoted the flourishing of its young members. Only when I was able to get out into the world and have a family friend offer to teach me to drive on their time with their vehicle was I given such a chance.
I lost my grandmother in my twenties and although her memory is with me always and I carry it with me daily, I’d still give up most anything for one more cup of tea with her. My life had never been “rocked” at its core before, and with her passing a wrecking ball of emotion did major damage to my soul. Over time I’ve learned to accept her death and keep her memory and her words alive in all that I do, reciting back lines and lessons each day, but the hurt will never leave. It’s tough, to think of the person most important to you in life, one that molded you, protected you, and did their best to guide you and all of a sudden they’re gone. All you can do is put their teachings to use and be your best self. I’ve tried to do that and be the example for others that she was for me.
I became a father in my twenties and although not everything is the essence of a fairy tale, I wouldn’t trade my parenthood for anything. My children have always been a sanctuary for me and they are the only thing that makes me immune to bad moods. They make me laugh all the time, make me smile even when they’re not around, and they have no idea how thankful I am to be their father. They don’t know that when they fall asleep at night I kiss their foreheads and I smile to myself. I know that as they age they’ll encounter more and more of life’s problems, just as I have, and I hope I can guide them to the best of my abilities. If I’m lucky enough to live for another decade, they’ll be in their teenage years when I’m 40 and I’ll have ten more years of their impact on my life to look back on. I don’t describe many things with the word “blessing” but it seems fitting here that my children represent a blessing to me.
Ironically, I went to college to be a writer and after five years, I came home to a summer job in commercial construction and it’s been my career ever since. I’ve always been headstrong, passionate for the things I do, and had a do-it-myself attitude. At the age of 22 I became self-employed as a DBA and at 25 I opened my own LLC which remains in business to this day. The world of construction and building has always been around me. I remember being young, perhaps 13 or 14, and my father and uncle would bring me along as they set modular homes and would let me doing menial tasks such as hammering nails into deck boards. Even being around the trades all those years, I never developed a passion or an interest for construction. To me, it was something that my father and others did, but not me. That changed when I got that first commercial job, however, and I wanted to be the best I could be at it, in as many facets of it as I could. I was lucky enough to work for two companies early on whose owners were quality teachers and gave me opportunities to succeed and learn as much as I could handle. Construction has given me all that I have today and continues to provide a living for my family and for that I’m thankful as well.
After being alive for three full decades my focus now shifts to the next one. I am so very thankful to have lived for nearly 30 years and I think about that often. There are some that don’t get the opportunity to be alive for 30 minutes, 30 days, or 30 months and yet here I am and that brings me much gratitude. When I graduated high school I made one promise to myself: to be loyal to my health and fitness and to maintain it into my adult life and that I’ve done. Being able to join an adult baseball league and play against top players has been a dream come true, one that I didn’t get to pursue until I was 28. My twenties taught me patience, something I struggled with in my youth. They also taught me what’s important, what isn’t important, and how to live with accepting both.
Perhaps it’s my reflection or maybe I’m learning some sentiment, but I’ve been peeking over at the clock since I woke up this morning. I’ve been doing constant math in my head, counting how many hours I have remaining in my twenties. With each passing hour I’ve been reflecting, learning about myself, swimming in memories good and bad, and looking forward to what’s next. As the hour-glass runs out of sand on my third decade on this Earth I can’t help but imagine what the fourth will hold. Regardless, I’m happy with who I’ve been and who I’ve become the last 30 years. I hope I’m around for another 30.
Last Fall I typed a message in this very group detailing how I wanted to return to the Pirates for a 2nd season because we had “unfinished business” after losing a championship game. Tonight I type this message because I won’t be returning for a 3rd. While I have my reasons, I want to instead talk about the positives.
Years ago, maybe in 2012ish, I responded to an online post looking for baseball players and I met John Bates for the first time. From that season until last season I was unavailable to play for the Pirates. Landon and Savannah were born, my family expanded, and I didn’t have time for baseball. Before last season I reached out to John and told him I had time now and he welcomed me back with open arms. Without John I don’t throw a single pitch in the NABA and I don’t get to play competitive baseball in my late 20’s. John I’ll be grateful always for the opportunity.
Chris Federico: I’ve spent more time on a mound than I probably deserved to at times and that’s because of you. You’ve had faith in me from the beginning and gave me a longer leash than sometimes I deserved, and I’m forever thankful. All I’ve asked for is an opportunity and Chris gave me plenty of them.
Kevin Bohannon: The catcher I’ve always needed and my favorite Pirates catcher. Kevin caught some of my best games and I’ve always leaned on his ability to walk to the mound and calm me down, correct my issues, and get the best out of me. As a pitcher I couldn’t ask for more.
I’ll miss talking about score-keeping with Zachary Andrews, talking life with Al Christopher, Kyle Geysen, and Tommy Corcoran, thanking my lucky stars I’ve never had to face Abel Vargas on the mound, “doing it for the Robs” with Rob Blumenthal, and welcoming the constructive criticism from Abigail Canning.
I’m thankful for my time with the Pirates and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I got to throw the very first pitch of our baseball season and I got to throw the very last. I wasn’t always at my best, often underperformed to my standards, and wish I could have done so much more for us. I’m thankful for every catcher who called my games. I rarely shook off because I had confidence in the job you’d do. I’m thankful for every position player who played behind me and got outs for our team when I pitched and I’m sorry for the long innings you had to endure when I struggled. I take everything I do in life seriously. I joke around, sure, but when it comes time to “do a job,” as Victor Porro always says, I’m all business. I took that baseball every time I had to pitch and tried to do my best. I understood the magnitude of my job as your starting pitcher and I did my best for us every time out. There was never a game when I showed up and played half-assed or didn’t give my full effort. I’m thankful to have played on a team that had so much success because we all know most teams in our league don’t get such an opportunity. I’ve always been humble in life and I remain so as I type this. I’m thankful for the opportunity to put that #18 on every Sunday and play the game I’ve loved since I was very young.
To the returning players next season I wish you nothing but the best. To the young players on the team just know that you can’t fake effort. If you show up and give your all you’ll be rewarded with opportunities because someone will notice what you put in. I didn’t play baseball from age 20 to about 27-28 and I see some of you guys that have this chance at 19, 20, 21 and you’ve got so much time to play, make the most of that. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time with the Pirates it’s this: There are opportunities to be found on this roster. Thank you to all of my past teammates for making this experience an important one for me.
A few weekends ago I met a female friend I’ve known for probably 10+ years and we sat and talked over coffee for three hours. Not only do I think this girl is absolutely stunning, but so do other men who see her, some of whom I speak to. At times, I would’ve probably dated this girl in a heartbeat if she was interested but truthfully in all of the years I’ve known her, the topic has never come up. Neither has “hooking up” and neither has anything to do with us doing anything physical with one another. Zero kisses, zero hugs, nothing. You might wonder, then, what we sat and spoke about for three hours on a Friday night at 10:00? It was Ebay, you know the website you join to buy and sell things online? It was this talk and my thoughts after having this talk that are the basis for what I’m writing now: I’m not a normal guy.
This same friend, who I’m choosing not to name, runs a few businesses and one of them is setting up accounts for people on various dating based mobile apps. You send her information and she tells you which photos to use, what to write, how to fix communication issues you may have had with past “matches,” etc. It’s actually quite fascinating in a way and the market for such a thing is probably bare, so she may be on to something. I applied her skills and vision to my life in a way and pondered what my profile would say if I signed up for Tinder. What information would I include? Would I omit anything about my life? How many words would it let me type before cutting me off? Delving further, assuming I had unlimited words and someone would read them all, my profile might read like the words that follow. Additionally, after spending ~3,827 days of my life in relationships that all ended for one reason or another, maybe a display like this is the spring-board to eternal happiness that has evaded me. Imagine if we all had a pamphlet accurately describing our lives for people who meet us to read. This is mine.
Let’s start with the basics, the kindergarten-level introductions that maybe don’t mean anything but you sometimes ask people anyway. My favorite color is yellow, my favorite animals are birds, and my favorite season is Spring, for its beauty and cooler temperatures. My favorite sports teams are the Denver Broncos (football), San Francisco Giants (baseball, and yes there is a Giants baseball team too), Colorado Avalanche (hockey), and Boston Celtics (basketball). I am left-handed, I play amateur baseball where I’m a starting pitcher, and I played college-level basketball, baseball, and men’s volleyball. I went to college for 5 years and finished without a degree because I joined the workforce on a summer break and never returned to school. I opened my own business at 23 and I still run it today, switching to an LLC almost three years ago. I’m 6’3 1/4″ tall and weigh ~185 pounds with somewhere between 4-6% body fat, I go to the gym six days per week, and I take physical health very seriously. I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I have tattoos on my arms and plan to get more. I listen to a wide array of music, whether it’s blasting Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold in the gym or listening to Jason Aldean as I day-dream while driving my truck.
Moving on, there are things that lie just below the surface that I might want to include, such as I have 3 children with 2 different girls. I was diagnosed with depression 3 years ago with two caveats: I don’t take medication of any sort and I’ve never had a suicidal thought, something most people associate with depression. The truth is I value life too much to consider losing it or shortening it. I listen to music and think about the meaning of the song. What was the artist thinking? I’m the furthest thing from materialistic. I drive an old beat up Ford truck and I own 3 pairs of work jeans that I sometimes wear 3-4 days in a row before changing or washing them. Sometimes I come home from work late and I’m tired so I just eat and go to sleep and wake up in the morning and get dressed and go back to work without showering. I read a ton and when I’m at work I listen to audiobooks. I have always worked on all of my own vehicles. The number of sexual partners I have had in my lifetime is a single-digit number. I don’t really pay attention to what others think of me and I’m good at ignoring and tuning people out.
I read a book recently in which a group of researchers conducted a study. For the study they gathered random people and had them view college students’ dorm rooms in order to try to accurately describe things about the students, such as agreeableness, neatness, and intellect. Believe it or not, the random people were just as conclusive as people who had known the students for years. This idea is called “thin-slicing” and it states that you don’t need a ton of information all of the time in order to make a determination. The question the book poses is this: “If you were hiring a new employee and had one of these two choices, which would you choose: 1. Spend a year with the person in order to learn as much about them as possible or 2. Spend 30 minutes walking around their apartment or home.” Most people would choose #1, but statistics and studies like the one described above prove that sometimes more isn’t always better. By this same token, if you knew me or saw me out in public you might think I’m some dumb jock or some construction worker with no mind, but what if you could see my bedroom, what conclusions would you come to then? Imagine if as a bonus to the Tinder membership you got to view the person’s bedroom for 5 minutes.
Walking into my room you’d first notice the color of my walls, a darker gray that really resembles the majority of my life and interests: boring and ordinary. My cat, Stubby, might greet you and try to headbutt your face lightly, affirming he likes you and you may do as you please. You’d notice that besides the large mirror on my dresser, I also have 2 large bookshelves loaded with books of all sorts. Some historical books, some books on diet and working out, some books from my favorite fantasy series, Redwall, books by my favorite sports personalities whose radio shows I listen to daily, books on local crime, an entire set of encyclopedias, a Webster’s dictionary that is probably 6 inches thick that I got from some guy giving it away on Craigslist for free, and plenty of construction related texts. On top of those shelves sit historically important items to me: a set of ceramic dogs that my grandmother owned; one of the first 14 bottles of syrup that the largest facility in the world made which was given to me because I was part of the crew that built it; a massive collection of “heads-up” pennies that I’ve found throughout my life; the first walk-off home run ball I ever hit in co-ed softball; and an autographed Peyton Manning Denver Broncos helmet. You’d notice my computer sitting on my desk, its desktop filled with estimates for jobs of all sorts, some finished and some awaiting homeowners’ replies. A hamper tucked in the corner with dirty clothes, my baseball gear in my bag, and audio equipment would end the viewing. What you wouldn’t see, though, are clothes lying around because I put them all away as soon as they are done being washed. You wouldn’t see any dirty dishes or garbage scattered around, either. I may have partial OCD but I never leave a mess anywhere, whether it’s in my room or in my truck I try to keep my things neat and orderly. People used to walk into my college dorm room and notice its cleanliness and exclaim: “You’d never think a guy lived in here!” Like I said, boring and ordinary.
At this point you’ll have a basic understanding of my principles and hobbies and preferences, but you’ll assuredly need more material in order to paint the full picture. Perhaps you wonder if there are things I look for in others or things I don’t care about very much at all. You’d be right. I am not impressed by material items or things other people have in life, choosing to focus more on what makes up that person’s moral and emotional state. For instance, I’m not impressed if you can drive a standard vehicle. Unless my life is on the line and the only vehicle we have is a standard one and you knowing how to drive it determines if we live, who cares if you have the skill? When I see guys who get turned on by a girl “driving stick” I kind of chuckle. I don’t care about your belongings, car, house, etc. if your parents purchased them for you. If you have $1,200.00 per month in bills and your parents pay every dollar of them, how is that desirable to me? I like people who stand on their own feet with their own effort and when they get knocked down, they know how to pick themselves up. People who have sweat on their brow to show what they’ve earned are my kind of people. I’ve been helped in my life, sure, but I’ve never had a constant influx of family money to support my lifestyle nor do I ever see that happening. I don’t care about your scantily clad photos on social media or that you can get 50 “likes” on a photo on Instagram. Attention, to me, is a crutch. My father tells me that I’ve had abdominal muscles since I was “about 7 years old” and I once overheard his friend Mike saying to him, “Man, Rob is in good shape, when he gets older the girls will be all over him” and thinking to myself, “What does that mean?” I was about 10 and didn’t understand. Obviously, I know what he meant now and I also know I could post endless shirtless photographs all over social media and get all the “likes” and comments I could dream of, but I’m better than that. I don’t need the attention or want it. I’m confident in myself and my appearance, so much so that I don’t need reassurance from others to validate it. I don’t need to engineer popularity. I think people who do are secretly insecure and weak personality-wise. I don’t care about gossip, most of all. Let your friend wear her hair any way she wants and in any color she wants. Let your friend get cheated on by her boyfriend over and over and over and let her worry about it, why should you? Let some annoying person on social media be annoying. I hate complainers and the act of complaining. The example I give all the time is of this girl who used to be a waitress at the restaurant I worked at before going away to college. She would come in every day and complain about how crappy her boyfriend was and how much of a jerk he was. One day I finally lost my mind and told her to stop fretting about him or break up with him. Think about it. The reason you’re disgruntled is directly a result of your own actions. He’s YOUR boyfriend and he’s making YOUR life worse so much so that you complain every day at work, why not make the necessary changes so you can stop whining and move on? Solutions are sometimes so simple, at least to me.
I think if you could have a briefing of someone’s life before meeting or dating them, their relationship history should be a prerequisite. Maybe not the sexual aspects or all of the dark details, but their thoughts, actions, mentality towards others, and habits should be. This may be the first platform ever that I’m performing an autopsy of my past on, but what better example for my idea than to turn on the faucet of memories for my own life? I’ve dated many different females from all walks of life, from many different backgrounds, and with many different outcomes. I’ve dated girls who my parents loved, some my parents disliked, and some my parents never met. I’ve dated recovering drug addicts, girls who never used drugs, and girls who used drugs while we dated. I’ve dated girls who I had children with, girls who moved on and had children with their new loves, and girls who I spoke with about children but never had any. I’ve dated girls who had defined abdominal muscles, girls who had average builds, and an overweight girl. I’ve had relationships that lasted 3 days, 30 days, 300 days, and 1,300 days. I’ve dated a girl who drove a station wagon, a girl who drove a Porsche, and girls who had no car at all. I’ve dated a girl 12 years older than me, a girl 7 years younger than me, and plenty of girls within 3 years of my age. I’ve dated high school teachers with masters degrees, girls who worked desk jobs, and a girl who ran a company by day and went to college part-time at night. I’ve dated girls who liked my short hair, girls who were indifferent about my look, and plenty of girls who wanted me to grow my hair out (sorry never going to happen). I’ve dated virgins, girls who had a few sexual partners in their past, and girls who others whispered “whore” about behind their backs. I’ve dated girls who thought they belonged on the Victoria’s Secret runway but had mountains of insecurity that they kept hidden and girls who exuded confidence and didn’t necessarily make every head turn. I’ve dated girls who drove me crazy and girls I was crazy about.
There are regrets sprinkled in, however. No story is complete without the pitfalls that one suffers and mine is no exception. I’ve never been engaged or married and have only ever thought seriously about marrying one girlfriend. I’m part of two “broken families” and while I know the relationships ending was best, I often hope that my children see through it and can thrive in the environments they now inhabit. I’ve had great opportunities with some girls that I let slip away foolishly. I once walked 4-5 miles to meet a girl sometime in the summer of 2008-2009 and she expressed an interest in me and for some reason I declined to pursue it and we fell out of touch. Years later when I was single in the summer of 2015, I went on a 6 mile walk with her (lot of walking for this one) and couldn’t stop noticing the beautiful woman she had become and I kept kicking myself for my mistake all those years ago. Our walk ended with a hug and a text later that night expressing that the magic was still there and she couldn’t believe all the memories I had kept so many years later but I had 3 children, and her life wasn’t at a point where she could handle that. She later ended up getting back together with her ex-boyfriend and remains with him today. Another girl I actually did date was maybe the soul mate I didn’t know I had. Every morning she woke me up with a kiss and a cup of coffee and she always did the small things. Sometimes I look back on us and miss it because I haven’t had anything close to that type of treatment since. This girl once came to one of my flag football games that was played in pouring rain and she sat in the stands watching the entire game for two hours. Who does that? That is grounds to marry a girl right there, but instead I threw the relationship away for nothing and lost a good thing. Later in the summer of 2015 I met a girl and met up one Tuesday at a “country night” hosted at a local bar and we talked for hours. A friend of mine was there and texted me later that night and she said “Are you and that girl dating?” “No,” I said. “Well you should ask her out, you guys looked lost in each others’ eyes. I could see the connection.” This girl was gorgeous, I’m talking seeing-her-and-jaw-hitting-the-floor gorgeous. Some guys might pay to say two words to her and I spoke about 10,000 that night probably. She later stopped talking to me because I was a father. As God says in Bruce Almighty, “…you can’t affect free will.” And so it was, she was gone. I’ve had plenty of at-bats that ended up in strikeouts and many scars I can talk about.
I have days where memories take all of the air out of the room or the car. Other days I’m lonely and wonder if there’s someone for me out there, but I also know that sometimes being wanted means more than who is doing the asking, so I don’t make snap judgements. I’ve been in relationships where at times I’m setting myself on fire to keep the other person warm, a mistake I try to avoid. A girl came along once that changed the dynamic of my life. She took my hand, got me up off of my brother’s couch where I was living, and showed me that there are people in this world who can love a single father of 3 with their whole heart, so my hope doesn’t dwindle. I’m not actively searching for a mate and contrary to the thesis of this writing, I don’t have a Tinder profile. I go to work every day and spend my free time trying to be a better person, a better father, a better brother, a better son, and a better friend. I don’t have many people who are close to me but those who are I’m extremely loyal to and value their company more than I can express.
Everyone has a book about their life that is constantly being written with each passing day. I’m choosing to narrate mine up to this point. The next chapter hasn’t been written yet.
Most people around election time don’t reveal who they voted for, I know plenty of people who don’t. “To each his own,” I always say. I have never been shy in discussing and or explaining what I believe in or stand for, and that is why I am revealing my choice. I’ll begin by saying, against the beliefs of some, voting for Hillary Clinton does not show a diminished education level, knowledge level, or response to current and past events. I know what both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand for, or at least I have tried to, and I spent the last two weeks really researching each candidate in depth using unbiased sources before choosing the person worthy of my vote. I learned long ago that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, nor will there ever be a perfect candidate. When choosing between two things you’re putting your faith in which one gives you the best chance to succeed, and I thought Hillary did that for me. Regardless of the outcome of this election (still undecided as I write this) I stand by my vote 100%.
I registered to vote immediately after graduating high school in 2007 and I registered as an Independent. I did this for two main reasons: 1. I didn’t want to be solicited by Republicans or Democrats who come to your door or cold call your house looking for donations or votes. I wanted to be left alone to make the decision on my own without outside influence or pressure. 2. I don’t like labels, to some degree. Too often people who register as Democrat or Republican only vote that way because that’s what they are. When you tell someone you’re one or the other, they assume and make their own opinion based on stereotypical views of each party, and I can do without that. I like having the free-will to always start in the middle, as I always say. I think to view any election or decision you face in life, you have to start in the middle and weigh out all of the options. Not all candidates are good or bad, you have to decide based on a neutral observation, which is what I do.
When Donald Trump burst on to the political scene last year my first reaction was “Man, this guy has some balls, that’s what our country needs.” As time went on and I delved deeper into who Trump was, what he stood for, and listened to what came out of his mouth I learned that I could not vote for Donald Trump. Anyone who reads headlines or casually follows along knows the details. Trump often talks without thinking, as if he doesn’t know he’s on the largest of national stages. From labeling all Mexicans “rapists and killers” to denying that global warming exists to making claims that have no backbone, to me it was all rubbish. I watched the debates and in each one yelled at the television screen. Trump doesn’t answer questions with straight answers. Asked what he will do in certain situations he responds by bashing Obama, bashing Hillary, and going way off topic. You’re going to take away health insurance from millions of people and then what? Trump claims he will “abolish Obamacare” but has never once discussed what he plans to replace it with. He claims he will build this massive wall to keep immigrants out and Mexico will pay for it but exactly how? Will he use military force to threaten them? He plans to offer all of these great tax breaks but if you actually read into what he is proposing, all of the breaks benefit affluent families and rich business owners, not the “common folk.” On top if it all the guy disrespects pretty much everyone but white males, which is not alright with this white male.
In 5th grade my teacher had a two day debate, and it was boys against girls. I don’t remember the topic but it was something along the lines of who is better, who is more important, etc. For the entire first day I spoke for the guys and made some valid points, but the entire time I felt bad. The second day I switched to the girls team and when arguing, felt much more comfortable with the words I was saying. I’ve always been for women’s rights, equal pay for women, and above all else, respect for women. I listen to each candidate speak and I also see the way Trump acts and speaks about women and it disgusts me. As a father to a daughter, I don’t want to ever tell her when she grows up that I voted for a sexist pig who spoke openly about doing whatever he wanted to women without recourse. On the contrary, Hillary stands for much that I believe in, including looking for ways to use renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, equal rights for all, altering Obamacare to expand it to more individuals and families, and the continued work of Planned Parenthood. Trump either doesn’t believe those issues exist or flatly doesn’t care about them. Hillary will also continue many of Obama’s policies, many that I believe in and with a little tweaking can be improved. Lastly, in disagreeing with Trump, he’s not going to “Make America Great Again” for one simple reason: it’s been great. I once had a college professor ask my class: “Do you know why countries around the world hate the United States? Because we’re the greatest country in the world and they know it.” I couldn’t agree more and what’s really great about America is you can strive to be or do whatever you want to. So if you don’t like America as it is, you’re always free to go somewhere else and seek what it is you desire.
In parting I know I’ll be asked why I didn’t take a third road and vote for another candidate, and I think it’s a valid question, especially this year. Gary Johnson’s name makes its way through the headlines as he is this years Libertarian candidate and it seems that he has caught some steam in this election. That being said, I have very specific reasons why I didn’t vote for him and it starts with his economic ideas are wildly radical and quite honestly, irresponsible. Abolishing federal income taxes, cutting Medicare and Medicaid by 40%, banning federal bailouts of states, and a few others would not only trigger a recession, but also remove hundreds of billions of dollars from the economy. Government would be unable to stabilize business and millions of people would lose healthcare. I agree with his idea to cut spending, but you have to choose wisely where you are cutting it, you can’t just cut spending for the sake of cutting spending. Also, Johnson’s best work is done domestically. When it comes to foreign issues, he has stumbled many times even admitting he had no idea what important issues were. When you aren’t prepared to be president and you show up and have to discuss issues there’s nothing to hide behind, and it showed for Johnson. Like I said, I like some of his work, but as a whole, I don’t think he is presidential material. Additionally, until other parties are weighted equally in these elections, voting for them is pointless. I hear the argument of “Voting for Gary is voting for you” as if somehow Gary Johnson is this perfect candidate that everyone somehow missed on except millennials. He’s become the choice that allows you to get away with not saying you supported Trump or Clinton. I knew my vote was between Trump and Clinton because I was voting for the person I wanted to become president of the United States. I knew Gary Johnson wasn’t going to become president, you knew Gary Johnson wasn’t going to become president, and Gary Johnson knew he wasn’t going to become president. In a year that seemed prime for a third party candidate to do some real damage, the same old outcome will happen. As I said above, until it’s a true three party race, I can’t consider any other candidates.
I conclude in admitting that I have no idea how this election will end. The previous two elections I just felt that Obama would win, and this time I honestly wouldn’t be surprised with either result. Above all else, regardless of outcome I’m an American and I support our country, and I’ll hope that our new leader takes us in a direction of prosperity. I also stand by my decision to vote for Hillary Clinton and I would do so again if given the chance. I look all over social media and see Trump supporters out in droves, but very few Hillary supporters and often wonder why that is, because I know they exist. I’m also not affected by the opinions of those who voted in other directions. Anyone reading the headline of this piece knew my stance before they read one word of it and they knew how I voted. I’m sure some will disagree but that’s what makes this country so great isn’t it?
I don’t have many heroes and most of the ones I do have I have never met, and probably never will. I always tell people that there is no man on this planet that I would rather be than myself. My confidence in my choices, my beliefs, my abilities, my philosophies, and my lifestyle is extremely high and being Robert W. Bailey Jr. is pretty cool. I have, however, tried to emulate those whom I admire, trying to incorporate qualities of theirs that I treasure into my own life. After my late grandmother, I would say that I have mirrored Peyton Manning more than any other human being.
All day at work yesterday I knew that Peyton would hold a press conference to announce his retirement at 1:00 and I kept looking at the clock as time grew near. I reached a stopping point and brought up the live stream of the press conference on my cell phone and watched intently, allthewhile understanding the magnitude of what I was watching and listening to: my favorite football player would NEVER play football again. It is truly hard for me to deal with in the short term. As I watched that press conference I was genuinely sad and I’m not saying that to get attention or to be emotional, but to express my respect and reverence for a man who doesn’t even know who I am, but has impacted my life forever.
I grew up as a Broncos fan, and have loved them for 20+ years. My teams ran into Peyton’s Colts in the playoffs a few times, losing both games by a combined score of 90-34. Watching him play the quarterback position was something that intrigued me like nothing else in sports. The way he analyzed defenses play-by-play under a 40 second ticking play clock as time ran constantly, play after play after play. It always seemed like someone was wide open. He would audible to a run play when no one expected it and it would be as if the defensive line didn’t exist as the running back ran up the middle. His teams scored often and in bunches and won double digit games almost every season.
When franchises find their “guy” and establish a “franchise quarterback,” that guy rarely hits the open market. Franchise quarterbacks often extend their contracts and remain with their teams for 10-15 years, retiring with the team that drafted them. Needless to say I never expected Peyton to become a free agent but due to health issues and the Colts holding the number one selection in the upcoming NFL draft, they let him go. I remember texting Jim after hearing Peyton’s name linked to our Denver Broncos and saying “No way dude, this can’t be possible, we might sign him.” Days later, we had signed Peyton Manning to a 5 year, 96 million dollar deal. My favorite player, the guy I had admired for years, was the starting quarterback for my favorite football team.
For the next four years, Peyton took my Broncos to a new level, a level that no other team in the history of the game has reached offensively. He set personal, all-time, and team scoring, passing yards, and passing touchdown records. He threw for 55 touchdown passes and threw for 5,477 yards in 2013, both single season records. The Broncos scored 606 points as a team, also a record. We reached the Super Bowl twice, losing Super Bowl 48 and winning Super Bowl 50 as an underdog. The “Peyton Years” will go down as some of my best football memories as a fan.
I’ll remember Peyton as being second to none in preparation, my favorite attribute of his and the one I try to copy the most. Peyton taught me that with proper research and preparing, you can put yourself in a better position to be successful. I have spent countless nights up late drawing up playbooks and calling my teammates and going over routes, schemes, match-ups, and situations. Peyton taught me to be humble and not parade my own accomplishments. He taught me to remain in the moment and not get too far ahead of myself. He taught me to take my job seriously, but also enjoy doing it. I learned to stand out by watching him in action. Finally, Peyton taught me to be a leader. Anyone in a group or on a team can be the loudest, the cockiest, the biggest, the strongest, but only some can lead. It takes more to be a leader. You need to be able to collect multiple personalities and egos and put them together while trying to be successful as a unit. On all of my sports teams I have tried to do just that for my team, sometimes we have conquered, sometimes we haven’t, but leading is a quality that remains always, and I’ll have it forever because of Peyton.
The last piece of Peyton Manning that will remain with me is the number 18. I have worn #18 since I was in high school no matter the team or sport. Dodgeball, baseball, softball, etc., the number 18 has always been on the back of my jersey. I own two Peyton Manning Denver Broncos jerseys and wore both of them for this past playoff run, knowing it could be the last time I wore his jersey. Wearing that number is representative of all that Peyton stands for and I’ll value it and his individual qualities for the rest of my life. I’ll value the touchdown passes, the audibles, the smiles, the press conferences, the analysis, yelling and high-fiving my girlfriend’s father when the Broncos scored a defensive touchdown in Super Bowl 50, the “Omaha”‘s, the praise from his teammates, debating his legacy with friends and others, and so much more. I want to thank Peyton for choosing to play for my favorite team and giving me four wonderful years as a fan.
Next season will feel awkward for me, but even more sad. For the first time in 18+ years, Peyton Manning will not be on an NFL team. Fathom that.
It’s your birthday today, and for the third year in a row, we can’t celebrate it in person together. I remember the last time we did, so clear that the moment will live on forever. I’m sad, I don’t show it nearly as much as I feel it, but it’s there. I did well today, only teared up twice at work and a few times pre and post-gym. I speak of you often, and remember you even more. I hope I make you proud sometimes. I know I’m not always my best, but I try to be. I falter, especially over the last year, and I’m sorry for that. You taught me to learn from mistakes, not repeat them, and I think I do a pretty good job of that. I’m going on 27 now, I feel young physically but old at heart, like I have this experience I’ve acquired decades early. I long for one more talk with you, one more cup of tea, one more laugh, one more smile, one more phone call, one more conversation about how the Yankees are being foolish, one more hug, one more minute. I try to keep the others in line, they are their own individuals, however, so I try to guide more than steer. You raised us well, and we know that. Once again, thank you for every moment you spent with me, and every piece of knowledge you bestowed upon me. I’ll write again soon. Goodnight. See you in the morning. I love you. Sweet dreams.