RSS Feed

Tag Archives: NFL Draft

Its Not Funny Anymore

I guess you can say I grew up in the Cheech and Chong Era.  Richard “Cheech” Moran and Tommy Chong met in Canada in the late sixties; then became famous for their comedy routines and films.  Movies like Up in Smoke glorified pot smoking, encouraging Americans to laugh and embrace the concept of getting high.  This genre spawned characters like Jeff Spicoli played by Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Doobie Brothers.  I bought into this movement, laughing with everyone else.  However, a recent death has helped me realize that its not funny anymore.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Earlier in the week, I heard the news that Rashaan Salaam had passed away.  Salaam was the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and the number one draft pick of the Chicago Bears.  I moved to Chicago the same year he was drafted.  In 1996, I met Rashaan while I was an Assistant Store manager of the Michael Jordan Golf Shop at the Woodfield Mall.  Unlike most celebrities, Rashaan was humble and quiet, not trying to bring attention to himself.  I saw him a couple of times after that, but never spoke with him.  While nursing a leg injury which kept him out of the 1998 NFL season, Salaam admitted to reporters that he was hooked on marijuana during his rehab.

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:4.

According to reports, Salaam’s death appears to have been ruled a suicide.  Beside the note Rashaan left behind, nobody will ever know for sure why he took his own life.  Perhaps, 6 years of playing professional football took a toll on his body.  Maybe, there was some sort of depression or regret from not living up to the expectations of being a former Heisman Trophy winner.  Whatever the reason, drugs cut this young man’s life short.  Some where along the way, Rashaan believed the lies of Hollywood that smoking pot won’t harm you.  How many more people have to die before America wakes up to see its not funny anymore?

by Jay Mankus



Realigning the Stars

On the last night of the 3 Magi’s journey from the East, the star they had been following became stationary, hovering over the birth site of Jesus, Matthew 2:9-10.  One final night of glory, this unique star completed its purpose, gradually fizzling out like those created before it.  According to the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, they are 7 main types of stars based upon their color and luminosity.  The star which appeared in the sky above Bethlehem on that glorious night falls under the O or B classification, the rarest and brightest of all the stars in the universe.  Once a star depletes its hydrogen supply, they are downgraded and this declassification is a signal that their end is near.  In entertainment, Hollywood or professional sports, as one stars falls, another is in the background, ready to quickly steal their spotlight.

On March 14th, 1981, one such star destined for greatness was snuffed out.  Skip Dillard was a free throw away from becoming a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft, as his #1 ranked Depaul Blue Demons were on their way into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, referred to as March Madness today.  In the days of endless One and One’s, St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia kept fouling Depaul players late in the second half, who then began missing the front end, their first shot, allowing the Hawks to rebound the ball after only one free throw attempt.  As Depaul’s big lead shrunk to one in the closing seconds, all Skip had to do was make one shot at the line to secure a tie, prior to the existence of 3 pointers and two free throws to close out the game.  Called “Money in the Bank” by his teammates, Skip’s shot fell short, St. Joe’s rebounded the miss, got the ball quickly up court and made a shot at the buzzer to stun Depaul.  This nightmare became reality for Skip who responded to this setback by becoming addicted to cocaine and committed 15 armed robberies to support his habit, resulting in an 11 year prison sentence according to the Chicago Tribune.  College players like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird stole Skip’s fame as the media realigned the stars for these 2 NBA Hall of Famers.

When you are young, thinking you are invincible is a common mindset.  As I watch college sports on television or listen to my youth baseball players chat before and after a game, many think too highly of themselves.  Instead of being a voice of reason, parents often add to their child’s delusion, believing their daughter or son is the best player on the team.  Maybe the thought that their child’s athletic career is a lottery ticket for life instills in many parents a glimmer of hope.  However, these same parents often baby and or spoil their children, not providing an atmosphere of discipline, mental toughness and work ethic necessary to make good athletes great and elite players, stars at the college level.  If you analyze any NFL draft, its clear that talent doesn’t always translate onto the professional  level.  Thus, the degree to which someone shines lies in the choices you make and in God’s grace, Deuteronomy 28:2.

Currently. my own stardom has faded with time as my attractiveness as a youth pastor left when I reached 30.  Meanwhile, a decade of teaching has aged me another 20 years, especially during my 5 year stint teaching middle school.  Despite the fact that employers may overlook me for positions due to being too old or in some cases over qualified, I cling to the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12-16.  Though I can’t control external forces, I do have authority over my personal world according to Dutch Sheets in his book Authority in Prayer.  Thus, I am aiming to shine like a star in the universe, providing spiritual light during these dark days in American History.  I am responsible for aligning my life toward God’s will, yet only God can realign the stars in the universe!

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: