The Power of Words

A close friend wrote me a thoughtful note that had an apology for not giving me a going away gift. If I had a choice between any material item in the world or that note, I’m keeping the words.

For the first time in 21 years, I won’t have a paycheck. Yet, I feel like I’ve won the lottery – a Powerball of kindness by your words. My severance package was an avalanche of great words from athletes, coaches and the viewers who were kind enough to watch and listen to me over the past fifteen years.

One of the benefits of getting older is having more awareness of the significant moments in your life. One year ago, I thought I accomplished a major goal. I wrote and published a book on David Bennett’s Cats and Dogs viral video and how it effected the end of his tenure at Coastal Carolina. I asked Coach Bennett to write a motivational message at the end of each chapter. My words were simply a table setter for the inspiration of a great man. I rarely feel good about the work that I do, but when I finished that project, I did.

Days before our launch, we were threatened with a lawsuit. Sue me? Go ahead, take my beat up Dodge Stratus (purchased solely on a Will Ferrell SNL sketch). But an incredible gesture by a friend to help me with a project now had him in the crossfire and unnecessary publicity.
I thought of my friends and the instilled spirit that everyone at my alma mater, St. Bonaventure, were given as a gift by attending there. Would they choose personal gain over hurting a friend? That’s why “Be A Dawg!” is tucked away in a storage unit. Coach Bennett was doing the same thing that I ultimately did – helping a friend and not thinking of himself. Only my inner-circle knew about what was going on, but reading your words today made me expand that circle.

This event started the end of my tenure at WPDE-TV. Local television is too often filled with gimmicks and catchphrases. My respect and admiration for my co-workers and management and all the viewers is genuine. There’s a reason why the the core of NewsChannel 15 has been around for a long time, a rarity in television.

It was at Saint Bonaventure that I had another defining moment. On a tennis court off a busy highway in Buffalo, New York, I was playing a singles match for the Bonnies at Buffalo State. I lost the first set and was losing 3-0. On the court by yourself, it is so easy to get consumed with what went wrong (the past) and get overwhelmed by what needs to get done (the future). For some unexplained reason, rather than panic and quickly go away like I had done so many times in my Bonnies tennis career, I felt calm. Something clicked to pick up my racket and figure out a way to get that ball over the net. I came back to win the match in three sets and it might as well have been Wimbledon. My greatest athletic moment is buried on the agate page of the Buffalo News circa 1991.

That gets back to your words. Never understimate the power of a note of kindness. We all need to do it more often. A couple of days ago, I was terrified about walking into the great unknown and jeopardizing my incredible wife and two amazing kids. Thanks to your words, I’m calm. It’s love-three. I don’t have that 100 mile per hour kick serve anymore, but I just have to get the ball over the net. I got ’em right where I want ’em.

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