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EDITORIAL: What Were They Thinking?

6/12/1983 President Reagan Christopher Reeve Frank Gifford hosting a reception and picnic in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Special Olympics program in Diplomatic Reception Room

6/12/1983 From left, Christopher Reeve, Frank Gifford and President Reagan hosting a reception and picnic in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Special Olympics program in Diplomatic Reception Room.

On August 9, 2015 Football Legend and Sports Announcer Frank Gifford passed away just short of his 85th birthday. I happened to catch Kathy Lee Gifford (Television Personality) and Gifford’s wife as she paid tribute and thanked those who remembered her late husband.

What moved me is when Gifford related details about her husband’s early life. Frank Gifford, was born in 1930 and lived through hard times during the Great Depression with his family. In his youth, his family was so poverty stricken that they sometimes ate dog food and were thankful for that. Gifford lived in 29 places before he even attended high school because his father couldn’t find work. Kathy Lee said her husband; Frank said that his mother would always mark in the bible the day they would be leaving one town to go find work in another place. The one thing that was constant in their family back then was that they attended church every week. That influenced Frank Gifford for the rest of his life.

Kathy Lee related that when Frank was accepted into college, he came with one pair of pants and one shirt.

Kathy Lee also told about a visit that she and Frank along with some other friends went on to the Valley of Elah where David killed Goliath. If you don’t know that story – Google it!

The tour guide told Kathy Lee and Frank that David had 5 stones in his hand because he didn’t believe he could bring down Goliath with just one stone. The guide also told them they should take a stone home with them because of the importance of using the “stone” God gave you. The miracle was not that David had the skills but he trusted in the Living God and threw his stone killing Goliath.

Frank and Kathy gave their daughter a stone when she graduated from High School. Their son received a stone upon graduating from college. They said to their kids, “Where are you going to throw your stone for the Kingdom of God.”

“Everyone has a talent. Where are you going to throw your stone to help make the world better?”

Frank Gifford thought more of that stone from their trip than any his trophies and awards. Whenever anyone would come to visit them for the first time,  that’s what Frank would show with pride.

I relayed this story because I want to compare it to some of these athletes of today. Many of them sign very lucrative multi-million dollar contracts straight out of college or even sometimes right out of high school. Some proceed to do one stupid or irresponsible act or behavior to throw it all away.

They come from diverse  economic backgrounds. In this day and age a lot of people are eligible for assistance so they don’t have to eat dog food.

This does not excuse the  extreme stupidity of these acts. What are some of these people thinking? – They’re not!

Here’s 2 examples of people playing with fireworks on the Fourth of July this year:

Let’s have couple of examples: NY Giants Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul had to have his right index finger amputated along with suffering fractures to his thumb and other fingers. His comeback to playing football is still iffy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Cornerback C.J. Wilson lost 2 fingers. He may never return to football because of his injuries.

Jay Williams was the second overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. Some saw him as a future NBA All-Star. His playing days were over when he suffered severe injuries in a crash while riding his motorcycle without a license and not wearing a helmet. His playing days were soon over a few years later because he was unable to overcome his injuries.

Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice and his then fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer was charged with domestic violence in an elevator in Revel Casino, Atlantic City. Rice was suspended and fined, eventually ending his career due to this incident.

Recently Quarterback Geno Smith was punched in the jaw by Linebacker Ikemefuna “I.K.” Enemkpali in a locker room fight over $600. Enemkpali was subsequently released by the Jets. Enemkpali was the Jets’ sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft. Geno Smith’s broken jaw needs surgery and he will be out at least until October.

Len Bias was described as the next Michael Jordon. He was a star at the University of Maryland. He was the Number 2 Pick in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.  According to sources he felt a lot of pressure and wanted to escape. He left his dorm room, met up with some friends and went to a party. At that party some of his friends and teammates used cocaine. Bias died at 8:50 a.m. the following morning due to cardio-repertory arrest. The hospital did not determine the actual cost of death, but it was revealed that Bias was using cocaine. There were traces found in his urine during treatment. at Brown University Professor of Neurology stated the following: “Cocaine probably caused Bias’ brain and heart to undergo major alterations and changes in function.”

The poverty  of Gifford’s youth is much different than today. Gifford had a gift and treasured it. He understood his athletic ability was not anything to take lightly. His faith from his early childhood carried him through his adulthood until the day he died. Athletes that show their faith are often put down. A perfect example of this is Tim Tebow. Perhaps some of these athletes could use a dose of that faith that Frank Gifford had instilled in him by his parents.

It’s a shame that the athletes  we wrote about didn’t think before they acted. Maybe their actions will serve as a lesson to others. As Kathy Lee said, “You were given talent. How will you throw your stone?”

C.M. & K.M. 

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