Religious Fervor

People show up in large numbers every week – an outward sign of their faith in unity with fellow brother and sister believers.

They sing and chant aloud… sometimes raising hands and clapping in highest praise.

If you challenge their passion and beliefs, be ready for pushback and maybe even an argument.

Many wear jewelry and other items so everyone knows exactly where they stand. Some even put banners and symbols in their yards… often to rub it in the face of neighbors.

Even with good friends, you’ll be forced to listen to stories about heroes from long ago… and you’re expected to accept that those things happened exactly as stated.

A lot of people have no interest. No feeling. No understanding of why anyone would spend so much time and energy – along with their hard earned dollars – on such unexplainable things.

I feel sorry for them.

You see… college football is back. It’s the 150th anniversary of the first game… and I’m gonna “Come Early. Be Loud. Stay Late. Wear Orange” until January 13.

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Tom Tom

I hate Tom Brady.

I love Tom Brady.

Depending on where you live in this football-obsessed country and who you root for, you might have a lean toward one of those statements. As for me… they’re both true.

Based on success between the hash marks, ’12’ is the Greatest of All-Time. He led the NFL in passing yards this season; and will likely retire with the second most career yards… and most touchdown passes.

He has more wins than any starting quarterback with 233, which, incidentally, is 90 more than the other ‘Greatest’ contender – Joe Montana. Plus, his 27 playoff victories are the same as Peyton Manning and Brett Favre… combined! Then there’s those five Super Bowl rings and the one he might add in two weeks.

However, Brady winning so much is getting old, boring, frustrating. And the way he does it lately: falling behind by double-digits, then mounting heroic fourth quarter comebacks. For goodness sake, lose already. Need I mention he cheated? Yeah, Deflategate. You know those few ounces made all the difference. Perhaps there should be an asterisk by his name in the Hall of Fame? Oh… and how about the officials always making every call in favor of the Patriots. Conspiracy!

Yet, through love and hate, I admire Tom Brady: how he keeps his body in top shape at age 40, prepares for each game and laser-focuses when everything is on the line. The GOAT is a model for how everyone should approach their jobs.

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One Thing

With all the trials and travails impacting Houston the past few months, it’s been a wonderful relief and distraction for the area to experience our Hometown Team in the World Series. The Astros are a combination of youthful exuberance and steady veterans who truly seem to enjoy playing together. The energy they ignite flows outward as if a resonant wave embracing all fans.

Leading two games to one – and with a big chance playing at home to put the Dodgers in a big hole – George Springer hit a home run that gave them a 1-0 lead going to the 7th inning last night. Then the bullpen took over… and the Astros lost 6-2.

Any system – or sports organization – is only as good as its weakest link Think: broken sprinkler head in your backyard, field goal kicker in college football, or busted hose on the engine of your car; if everything isn’t working in unison, there’s going to be a brown spot, broken dreams or you stranded on the side of the road.

Unfortunately, for all the Astros’ maneuvers to create a sustainable winning franchise, the failure to acquire a reliable closer prior to the trade deadline in July may prevent them from claiming their first world championship after 55 years of disappointment.

That said, hope springs eternal and all they need is for Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander to throw nine shutout innings each the next two games… and they’ll be spraying champagne in L.A. on Tuesday night and hanging a banner in Minute Maid Park come the start of the 2018 season. Even weak links can be overcome – as long as someone else picks up the slack.

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Aisle Do

The Texas Legislature meets once every two years for five months, which means elected officials have a lot of work to do in a short time. The 85th Regular Session concludes today – and the past 140 days were filled with barbs, accusations and criticism volleyed back and forth between the Senate and the House – without much being accomplished.

That’s becoming more typical every biennial session… and a similar thing occurs in college football, which kicks off the 2017 season in less than 100 days. Alabama doesn’t like Auburn. Michigan can’t stand Ohio State. Army despises Navy.

In Texas, generations of Aggies and Longhorns – who often grow up and work side by side – are taught from the cradle about the greatness of each school. Although the teams haven’t met on the gridiron since 2011 when Texas A&M left the Big XII for the SEC, maroon traditions and burnt orange blood forever run deep. Aggies still proclaim ‘Goodbye to Texas University’ and Longhorns continue to say ‘It’s goodbye to A&M’.

Yesterday, our family attended the wedding of the son of longtime friends. Like his parents, the young man is a proud former student of Texas A&M – and there were dozens of their kindred spirit at the reception. Toward the end, the DJ played the Aggie War Hymn and the dance floor quickly filled with chanting of ‘Hullabaloo Caneck! Caneck!’

At which point, my friend’s brother – knowing our deep University of Texas roots – yelled at me, “Come join us, David.” So I did. Locking arms and swaying with them as everyone leaned left and right. I smiled while they sang ‘Saw Varsity’s Horns Off.’

It was a gesture in support of the groom and his family – and with best intentions for wishing the young couple prosperity and joy as they begin married life.

Perhaps our public servants – in Texas and Washington, too – would achieve better results by showing some humility for and understanding of peers on the other side… regardless of their ingrained beliefs, values and traditions.

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Overzealous Acts

I’m watching the Ryder Cup while I write this blog. (Great thing about switching to Uverse recently is one of our receivers is wireless, so I can move that TV anywhere in our house, including next to the keyboard in my office. Works great on football weekends when I put it next to our main set and watch two games at once.)

As the matches got underway, I heard a rabid U.S.A. fan shout, ‘Miss it!’ as soon as the player for team Europe hit his putt. While I understand the emotion that arises during these matches every other year, rooting so hard against the opponent goes against the spirit of the game.

Of course, that was nothing compared to what Kathy and I experienced two weeks ago at the end of the Texas-Cal football game. We were in the stands at Berkeley when a call went against the Longhorns during the last two minutes. When the game ended and Texas lost, at least 15 disgruntled fans tossed water bottles onto the field. It was one of the worst displays of sportsmanship I’ve witnessed.

Walking (a long way) amidst thousands of people to meet our Uber driver, we happen to come alongside UT-Austin president Greg Fenves. I told him how much we appreciate the way he sat in the stands during the game, instead of in a luxury suite – and suggested the next monthly newsletter he sends to alumni should address the proper way to act at games.

Then again, given the raucous crowds that attend one of our presidential candidate’s appearances, maybe I’m setting my expectations too high.

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