Saturday, September 16, 2017

JEMELE HILL, ESPN, AND WHO YOU ARE



During the height of the Jeremy Lin phenomenon in 2012,  the guard of the New York
Knicks at the time, had a horrendous game, turning the ball over nine times in a loss to the
New Orleans Hornets.

An editor for ESPN's digital platform tagged the headline of the article about the Knicks
loss this way:

A Chink In The Armor.

Of course, social media caught fire with the perceived racial slur against Lin, who is Asian.
The suits at ESPN fired the person responsible for the headline, no questions asked.

Since that day five years ago, ESPN fired Rod Parker for wondering on-air if former
Washington Redskins quarterback RGIII was "a brother or a 'cornball ball.' Tony Kornheiser,
on his non-ESPN radio show, mocked the wardrobe of ESPN colleague Hannah Storm.
Kornheiser got suspended for two weeks.

On September 11, Jemele Hill, a co-anchor on the barely watched and highly-criticized
show, "SC6", went on social media to rant.  The show Hill appears on is one that has
come to define what ESPN is all about: anchors screaming, yelling, trashing others, and
trying so, so hard to make the show about themselves with hopes of getting an Applebee's commercial.

Hill, who is African-American, took to Twitter, a place where the self-important and
self-absorbed go to tell the world how funny, smart, and fabulous they are in 140
characters or less. Hill took aim at our nation's president, Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/other white supremacists."

The 'likes' to her tweet started to roll in from her 870,000  followers. We are a world
addicted to 'likes' and Hill is no different, so feeling all good about herself, she kept on
tweeting.

Donald Trump is a bigot. Glad you could live with voting for him. I couldn't, because I
cared about more than just myself.

Interesting. Hill seemed to care more about herself and being some kind of hero to the
masses than the company she was representing.

This isn't the first time Hill has been in the eye of  a firestorm. In 2008, she wrote a column
for ESPN.com where she used an Adolph Hitler reference.

“Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It’s like hoping Gorbachev
would get to the blinking red button before Reagan.”

ESPN suspended her back then saying, “Jemele has been relieved of her writing and
on-air responsibilities for a period of time to reflect on the impact of her words”

Fast forward to 2017, that same ESPN employee goes on a Twitter rant about the president
that included this:

He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white,
he never would have been elected.

This is sadly ironic, since there are many in the television industry who believe Hill
was never qualified to host a television show on ESPN, much less at a station in Erie, Pa.

Some say she is not a good anchor since many of the shows she's been on at ESPN were
cancelled and the program she is now a part of is close to unwatchable. 

And some feel that if she were not African-American, Hill would never have gotten to be
on SC6.  But hey, it's just an opinion. Hill gave her opinion about the president, so I guess
it's all right for others in the industry to have theirs. That's what the First Amendment is all about,
right?

Except that it wasn't all right when it came to Curt Schilling. Like Hill, he had been
suspended by ESPN for an inappropriate tweet which, ironically, included a reference to Hitler.

It's said only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis.
How'd that go?" The text was superimposed of a red-tinted photo of Adolf Hitler.

Schilling got suspended for a tweet and Hill got sent home for using Hitler in a column that
appeared on ESPN.com. Fair enough, but I'm kind wondering what that  kid who used the
"Chink In The Armor" reference was thinking about this after he got canned.

Schilling, like Hill, is addicted to Twitter and they apparently cant' control their impulsiveness
when it comes to issues outside of sports. In 2015, at the height of the transgender
controversy in North Carolina, Schilling tweeted his opinion:

“A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they
sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need
laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

That's his personal opinion and there are many people who believe Schilling was speaking
the truth, just as millions are supporting Hill for what they feel is the truth about the behavior
and ideology of the president.

ESPN didn't think that way about Schilling and fired him. "ESPN is an inclusive company
Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with
ESPN has been terminated.”

In the last of Hill's comments about the president of the United States, she believed that
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.

Like Schilling, Hill had an opinion. Unlike Schilling, Hill got to keep her job. And ESPN's
statement about Hill's comments were far different than the one concerning Schilling.

"Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform
that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN. She has acknowledged
that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology."

Wow.

Did ESPN forget about Hill's Hitler reference in an actual column published on ESPN.com
in 2008?

How come ESPN didn't accept the apology of Tony Kornheiser for his unflattering comments
about the wardrobe of Hannah Storm? If people thought Hill spoke the truth about the
president, then surely they had to think Kornheiser was spot on about Hannah's hideous choice
of professional clothing.

How come ESPN didn't accept the apology of Parker for asking if RGIII was a
'cornball brother',  whatever the hell that means?

What about Schilling's right to a personal opinion?

Why didn't ESPN accept Linda Cohn's apology for her inappropriate comments about the
political climate and how it affected ESPN?

Why didn't ESPN accept the apology that young kid who mistakenly wrote the "A Chink
In The Armor" headline on, of all places, a mobile platform?

That's because when it comes to handing out discipline in society it all depends on who you
are and represent.

We all want believe the rules are the same for everybody in business and the punishment
for  breaking them will be fair and consistent. But we all know that's not how it works in the
world, especially at ESPN.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

CAFE MARTIN: THE HOTTEST SPOT IN BOSTON


Boston already has a place to go where everybody knows your name, now it
has a spot to visit if you want to bring some cheer to a special person in the city.

Café Martin opened over the summer and has become a destination place for friends
of John Martin, a videographer at NESN, who was diagnosed with ALS last October.

"It has been a big boost for me and my family," Martin said from his home in Newton.
"I had been seeing a lot of people for lunch, but when I started slowing down, we just
started encouraging people to stop by."

And they've stopped by in droves to Café Martin. Or I should say, Café Martin at Piazza Adonis.


"One of my best friends was over and we had already coined the 'Cafe Martin' phrase for
the patio - and that tipped a hat to John's French background," said John's wife, Adrienne.
"And not wanting to be left out, I wanted a tip a hat to my Italian background, so my friend
decided  it was a cafe at a 'piazza' which means square in Italian. My nickname in high school
was 'Adonis'.  So, she coined the entire phrase 'Café Martin at Piazza Adonis' which is silly and
fun, much like us."

Thus, one of the hottest spots in Boston was born.


Athletes, celebrities, and friends of the Martin's have been visiting Café Martin at Piazza
Adonis, providing great comfort and a lot of laughs for JPM, as he is known to all his friends.

"It's been so fun and really meaningful that we are able to keep good energy flowing in our
home, in our lives and for John's spirits," she said.




The highlight of Café Martin so far was the appearance of former Red Sox great and hall of
famer, Pedro Martinez. Martinez dropped by Café Martin before pitching in Steve Buckley's
Old-Timers baseball game on August 17. Martin had covered Martinez during his spectacular
run with the Red Sox.

"Pedro was awesome," Martin said. "When he arrived, there were about 20 people chanting,
"Pedro! Pedro! Pedro! He was kissing and hugging everybody. It was really a great scene."

MLB Network followed Martinez on his trip to Café Martin and documented the beautiful
atmosphere and special friendship between Martin and Martinez.

Martin says he has a standing invitation to Bruins goalie Tukka Rask, whom he also
covered while working at NESN. "I texted him the other day. I'm hoping he shows up, too."


John's sister created the Café Martin sign that adorns his home. Longtime friend Bryan
Brennan produced the hashtag (#OnlyAtCafeMartin), and Facebook is now flooded with
pictures of all the friends who have visited Café Martin at Piazza Adonis.


"We are so lucky to have so many great people in our lives to help support us and keep
John being John," Adrienne said. "We wanted create a social atmosphere for him because
it is one of the things he loves best, being with people, hanging out, talking and having fun."

This is love. This is friendship. This is Café Martin at Piazza Adonis. It's a beautiful thing.

Be sure to stop by. It's more than worth it.

If you'd like to support Café Martin at Piazza Adonis and JPM, please buy a t-shirt. Be sure
to hit this link:

https://teespring.com/supporting-john-martin#pid=2&cid=576&sid=back

100 percent of the proceeds will go to the John Martin Fund.










Friday, August 25, 2017

JIM CANTORE VS PAUL DEVLIN: TALE OF THE 'WEATHER' TAPE





Since transitioning  from sports into news, I've had the opportunity to cover numerous
snowstorms in New England. When snow is in the forecast, one of the first things that
    comes out of the news director's mouth is, "Let's get Devlin out there at 4:30 a.m." I
    embrace the elements with driving rain, sleet, and snow pelting my face like darts
    going into a board. It's the next best thing to covering a Super Bowl. (wink,wink)


   When extreme weather breaks, The Weather Channel sends its Tom Brady out to cover it.
   Jim Cantore is the meteorologist by which everyone is measured against. When I grow up
   I want to be just like him. After covering more than 20 storms, I thought it was time
   to see just how I measure up with the Sultan of Storms. Here's a tongue-in-cheek look
   at the tale of the tape.

First job out of college:

                                                      Cantore  The Weather Channel 


                                                       Devlin   The Boston Red Sox



Jobs since:

                                                                         Cantore  0


                                                                    Devlin About 23



Salary:

Cantore $1.2 million a year

                                                                Devlin Not enough.


Passion:

                                                        Cantore Covering the weather


                                                                    Devlin Eating



Most famous hit:

                                                 Cantore  Kicking a heckler live on-air.


                                            Devlin Belting a home run in "Bull Durham."


Famous for:

                                               Cantore  Being overly dramatic all the time.


                                        Devlin Being overly dramatic when the time is right.




Most proud of:

                                              Cantore Building a snowman in Syracuse


                                           Devlin Finishing the Ironman in Lake Placid



Gets excited when:

                                          Cantore Boston gets hit with an epic snowstorm.


                               Devlin When he can report on the weather from inside the car.



Most used lines on the air:

                                       Cantore  Stay inside for this one, it's going to be epic.



Devlin     Hey, those national guys are always wrong. Get out and do what you have to
                do, the world is not ending. No need to buy every loaf of bread at the market.




Hidden talent:

                                            Cantore  Can do bicep curls in his sleep.


                                  Devlin Can dance to any song, anytime, and anywhere.




Career goals:

                                      Cantore  Report live from the middle of a Tsunami.


                                       Devlin  Report live from San Diego every single day.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

CATCHING UP WITH JOHN MARTIN


11 years.

That may seem like a long time, but I found that once I turned 40-years-old, life seems to
morph into a frenetic sprint to finish what was started in the 1960's. A year goes by like a summer,
a month goes by like a week, and a week is over before a rooster can see the sun rise in the east.

Some days I feel like screaming, "Whoa, slow the heck down! What the heck is the rush?!"

It had been 11 years since I had seen John Martin. We were co-workers at NESN in Boston
and often paired together in that dream world of covering sports in the one of the greatest cities
on the planet.

We weren't best friends but we shared some amazing, if not hilarious, moments during our
assignments covering the New England Patriots. There were road trips to Pittsburgh, Denver,
Charlotte, and many other places along the way. John was a true professional as a videographer.
He didn't work by the clock or for the paycheck, but rather for the love of the job and the amount
of pride he took in it.

We never looked for the approval of  higher-ups at the station, but rather each other. We had
very high standards and knew when our product was damn good or just good. We sugarcoated
nothing and never looked for a pat on the back from others.

I'm not sure we ever said good-bye when I departed NESN in the late summer of 2006.
Perhaps, it was because there was an understanding that our paths would someday cross again
in the business. It happens more often than not in the world of sports television.

Except that it didn't.

There was the occasional text, tweet, or phone call out of nowhere. But other than that, Martin
may as well has been in Bangkok. I may as well have been in Anchorage. Our paths didn't come
close to intersecting. But we were still friends, through and through.


Over the course of those 11 years since we last saw each other, things changed. A lot. There
were new jobs and moves to new cities for me. And life changed in the blink of an eye for
Martin in the cruelest of ways.

Last October, Martin was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gerhig's disease.  He stepped away
from a career that he loved and one where he was universally respected. His life as he knew it,
was put on pause. Martin, with an amazing wife, Adrienne, and two beautiful girls, Kaia and
Gabby, have to battle a disease that has never lost.

Life is not fair. Anyone who has lived on this earth long enough knows bad things often
happen to the best of people. John Martin is the very best of people. And as I've often said
before, he's as solid in character as the 150-year-old oak tree that stands strong and proudly in the
middle of the forest.

Very few people escape the world without dealing with some form of hardship or tragedy. I
realize diseases don't discriminate, but this just didn't seem fair.


I planned on being in Boston during the weekend of August 4-6 and reached out to Martin
as I wanted to see my former co-worker whom I enjoyed so many great times with. It was
extremely important to me.

When my girlfriend, Kim, and I pulled up to his home in Newton, nothing at all really
seemed to change. There was John in his baseball hat and sunglasses with that trademark
mile-wide grin on his face. That was the JPM I knew.

We never embraced when we worked together. There was no time for any kind of man-love
on the job. We were too busy and besides, we weren't in to the Roger Goodell hug-a-draft
pick-kind of thing, anyway.

But that changed when I saw him. I gave him a long embrace hoping it would take away
just a little bit of the overwhelming pain that he's been dealing with it. We shared a lot of
stories and some good laughs over the next 90 minutes.

However, the effects of the wretched disease has started to take its toll. Martin said there
is weakness on the left side of his body. He now wears a brace to stabilize his left leg. JPM
can no longer stand for long periods of time. It is heartbreaking

The entire Boston sports and television community has rallied around JPM to make things
a little better for him and his family. Financial contributions continue to come in after his
diagnosis in October.

Several weeks ago, Steve Buckley, the longtime sportswriter for the Boston Herald and
founder of a long-running Old-Timers game, announced this year's event would benefit
Martin in his battle against ALS. It's a wonderful gesture by Buckley to honor and help
out a wonderful person in Martin.

John showed me the old-time uniform he'll be wearing on August 17, the date of the game.
It's a retro Los Angeles Angels uniform, which Martin requested since the Angels are
the name of the youth baseball team he has coached in Dorchester for the last 30 years.

Even better, Pedro Martinez, the baseball hall of famer and Red Sox great who will be
pitching in the game, has stated that he will pick up Martin at his home in Newton and
take him to the game.

How cool is that?

Martin deserves it. He is a great man who happens to be battling a terrible disease. The
game on August 17 may feature Pedro Martinez, but it will be all about John Martin. It's
his day to get the recognition he deserves. He earned it during his 19 years as a videographer
for NESN.

There aren't many people like John Martin.

I realized that when we worked together and it was reinforced as we embraced again
before I headed back to Connecticut . He is truly a special person.

There are moments when I wish time would just stand still so we can give the people we
love and care for all the help they need to get through difficult times. But I know life doesn't
work that way as it waits for no one.

I hope the great people of New England and beyond continue to help out Martin and his
family by providing some financial assistance to Martin. The tough times will only get tougher.

He needs our support.

He deserves our support.

Please contribute. A little goes a long way for Martin and his family.

https://www.gofundme.com/jmartinfund

Thursday, August 3, 2017

TOM BRADY TURNS 40 AND MEDIA GOES CRAZY


August 3.

Tom Brady turned 40 and the media goes bat shit crazy. There are tributes, memes, videos, and
just about anything else that can be posted on Facebook and Twitter to mark the milestone for
the quarterback of the New England Patriots.

I get it.

LaVar Ball says something stupid and the media falls all over themselves trying to cover and
dispense it. Total insanity. Total ignorance. Oh, sure, it's great click bait in the Kardashian-loving society we live in,  but seriously, at what point does the media stop covering stupid? At what
point do we stop making a big deal about everything?

Never.

Brady is an incredible athlete with amazing drive, dedication, and commitment. You know the
big stat: 5-time Super Bowl champion. And if you've been on the Internet over the past year, then
you know about him eating avocado ice cream, drinking gallon after gallon of water everyday,
and working with his personal training guru. That's awesome. Truly.


I respect Brady more than any athlete on the planet. I respect the work ethic and total
commitment to his craft, mind, and body. But please don't call me a "fan" or even a "supporter."
I stopped doing that kind of stuff a long, long time ago. I don't root for teams or even have
a favorite one. However, after covering Brady and the Patriots during every practice and
every game for a two-year period, I have a colossal amount of respect for the franchise
quarterback and the franchise itself.

However, I wasn't doing cartwheels or going gaga over Brady as he turned 40 simply
because a few others have already been there and done that while doing some great things.

Brett Favre, who at one time was more of a poster boy for partying rather than physical fitness,
had a great year at the age of 40. He started all 16 games and led the Minnesota Vikings to
a 12-4 record and the NFC Championship. His stat line was pretty impressive, too. 
Favre at 40: 33 TD passes against only seven interceptions. And he completed 68 percent of his passes.  I don't remember anybody mentioning Favre eating avocado ice cream, much less
celebrating his 40th birthday like everyone seems to be doing with Brady.


Warren Moon started at quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks at 42. Back then, I marveled
at Moon's physical fitness level and success. He didn't lead his team to the Super Bowl,
but he was still slinging passes effectively at that age.

Perhaps everyone is making a big deal about Brady turning 40 is because he's considered
the greatest of all-time. I get it.

But many people consider Gordie Howe to be the best all-around hockey player of all-time and
Mr. Hockey played in the NHL at age 51 where he racked up 45 points. When he was a young
pup at the age of 40, Howe posted 103 points for the Detroit Red Wings.


Jaromir Jagr finished last season for the Florida Panthers as a 45-year-old stud.

Nolan Ryan was still throwing heat at the age of 44.

Brady is truly incredible. I get that. But playing quarterback at 40 has been done before in
the NFL. Playing at 40 and having success has been done in just about every other sport,
as well.

Barriers that have been broken for the first time usually get a great deal of attention. After
that, it's usually, been there seen that.

Happy Birthday, Tom Brady. 40 is a great number, but it's been reached before and people
have been successful at that age. I'm sure you get it. Too bad most of the media
doesn't.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

DAVID PRICE AND THINGS MONEY CAN'T BUY HIM


In 2015, David Price signed a mind-blowing 7-year, $217 million contract with the Boston Red
Sox to be the ace of their staff. Despite a post-season record that is only slightly better than most
of President Trump's staffers, the left-handed pitcher was given the second-largest contract ever
handed out to a pitcher.

That kind of money can buy a lot of things like mansions, luxury cars, extravagant diamond earrings
(see Julio Jones), yachts, and just about any other materialistic thing this world has to offer.

However, with the recent behavior of Price, who after being insulated from criticism in places
like Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Toronto, it's easy to see what exactly money CANNOT buy him
His childish act of dressing down Dennis Eckersley, a Hall of Fame pitcher and Red Sox analyst
for NESN, on a team plane exposed the type of person he is and the character he lacks.

He can say he was sticking up for a teammate by telling Eck to "get the f*&k out of here" and mocking his hair, making it all too personal, but anybody can be real tough when he's surrounded
by teammates who have his back. And the Red Sox aren't paying Price to be the modern day John Wayne. They gave him everything inside the Brinks truck to win damn baseball games----and win
a lot of them, especially in the post-season.

Price didn't like Eck's comment about a teammate's stat line in a minor-league rehab start. Really?
That's it? Talk about being paper-thin skinned The rest of Red Sox nation sees the same stat line
and 99.9 percent of them probably said a lot worse than that. How is Eck supposed to sugarcoat
a brutal performance that is backed up by  facts? It's not even worth the time arguing or space on
this blog arguing about it.

After hiding behind the Red Sox curtain, Price finally came out and discussed the confrontation
with Eckersley with the media Saturday. I can't say for certainty, but I'm willing to bet the ranch
Red Sox ownership persuaded Price to face the music and the media before the story rips apart
their season.

Price admitted he could've handled the situation differently. Ya think?! Because ambushing
a respected Hall of Fame pitcher on a team plane is a great way of doing things. The manly
and professional thing to do would've been to approach Eckersley after everybody is settled
in on the flight and ask if he could talk with him in private. Perhaps, in this day and age of the
lack of personal communication, he could have even sent him a few direct messages on
Twitter. (wink, wink)

Price went on to say that he wants Eckersley to "show his face in the clubhouse." Seriously?
David, you wouldn't have the sack to approach Eckersley unless you were surrounded by
your teammates. We've all seen how you deal with pressure in the post-season, so it's safe
to say you wouldn't confront Eck in the clubhouse (unless you had a gang of applauding
teammates around you.)

Why does Eck have to be in the clubhouse? To backslap, tell jokes, and heap praise on all
the fragile egos on the team? If he did that and then criticized the team's play, he'd then be
considered two-faced in your fragile world. Eck gets paid to analyze what's happening on the
field,  not to be the team  cheerleader. If he knew that was part of the job, he would not have
signed up for it. That's not who Eck is. He tells it like it is and every fan in New England
respects that.

And then for Price to say that Eck has been more positive with him comments about the team
since the incident is beyond ridiculous. That's right, David, you started the "Be more positive to us movement." Are you happy now?

Why the hell is Price spending so much time with rabbit ears on trying to sensor everything
anybody says about the Red Sox? Does he DVR the games and critique them when he goes home
at night? Or does he just read his texts from his buddies after the game and make his judgements based on that?

Either way, why is Price so consumed with what people are saying about the Red Sox? Good
grief. Dude, you are paid $30 million-a-year to pitch! Get a clue. This ain't the Kardashians!
Oh, wait, a minute, it's the Red Sox, so it could be an episode of the K-family.

Sadly, money cannot buy the things that David Price needs the most. It cannot buy him class.
It can't buy the respect he needs to have for others. It can't buy him a coating on his skin that
toughens it up and protects him from criticism. It can't buy him a magic potion that will soothe
his feelings when they get hurt. And while Price may think he's a tough guy to embarrass
Eck in front of his teammates, money can't buy him toughness when it's truly needed---in the
post-season.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MIKE VITI: TRUE WARRIOR AND AMERICAN HERO


15 seconds into my interview with Mike Viti, I knew it was going to be one of the best ones
I've ever conducted. Viti isn't a household name, doesn't have a multi-million dollar contract in
his back pocket or rank as the most followed person in the Twittersphere.

No, he's none of that. Mike Viti is a true warrior and American hero. There aren't many of those
in this "look at me and my selfie" world we live in.

Viti is a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan. He was a military captain and earned a
Bronze Star for his courage and character in the global war on terror. Viti was also a four-year
letterman and captain of the Army football team during his senior year.


As we sat down on the West Point campus, which wreaks of history, honor, and tradition, I
expected something really special and I got it. In preparation for the interview, I scoured articles
and videos to get a better understanding of Viti. I knew that a disciplined, everything-close-to-the-
vest veteran wasn't going to warm up quickly to some reporter he had never seen or even
talked to before this afternoon. I surmised he'd have little time for someone who was unprepared, either.

My television feature story on Viti is going include the symbiotic relationship between sports
and service and how they might parallel each other when it comes to discipline, teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, and doing things the right way.

I am intrigued and in awe of anyone who has fought for this country. I admire all
those who have the courage to leave so much behind at home to fight against faceless enemies
a world away. To me, they are all heroes. Forever.

Mike Viti, center, military captain

After we settled into our seats, our eyes locked on one another. I figured Viti would have no
interest in opening up to someone who had shifty-eyes and couldn't stay engaged. I was engaged.
This was a war hero. The adrenaline was flowing.

"What does it mean to you to have fought for and served your country?"  was the first question
I asked. There was a pause and his steely-eye stare could've bore a hole through my forehead.
This question was right in his wheelhouse. This is what he lived for. This is what he wanted to
tell the world about.

"It was the greatest experience and honor of my life," Viti said in a strong, deliberate tone.

I got chills and could see the goose bumps stand at attention on my forearms.

Viti talked about honor, courage, country, sacrifice, and commitment. He never looked down
and didn't blink for what seemed like 10 minutes. This was his life, his world, his reality. I
was fully engrossed.

After we talked about his military and football experience and the collision of the two worlds,
we moved onto a subject that was spectacular and close to unbelievable.


In 2014, Viti walked from Seattle to San Diego then across the country to Georgia and finished
up in Baltimore. He wanted to bring awareness not to himself, but rather Gold Star families and
the more than 6,000 people who lost their lives in the global war on terror since 9/11.

4,400 miles on foot.

During his journey, Viti met with 67 Gold Star families. He often stayed at their homes overnight
and listened to parents, brothers and sisters, and children who lost a hero in the war. When he
wasn't taken in by a Gold Star family, Viti camped out under the stars. He walked through
Yuma, Arizona where the temperature reached 120 degrees. And sorry, while it may be dry heat,
temperatures that high can kill a person.

Viti started the journey at 240 pounds which was close to his playing weight and finished the
cross-country walk weighing about 185 pounds. Viti told me he got on a scale once during
the 232 day event and cringed when it read, 188. 


"It made me feel weak," Viti said. "I haven't been on a scale since then," he said. Viti is a
chiseled 195-pounds or so today. He doesn't have an ounce of fat on him.

Viti ended his journey at the Army-Navy game in Baltimore that year. Today, he's back at
West Point coaching fullbacks, the position he played for Army. I asked him about his future
aspirations.

"I want to be a head coach. I want to be a leader of men," he said. 

What an honor to be in the presence of a former military captain and Bronze Star recipient.
That doesn't happen everyday and I was grateful for the opportunity to talk with and interview
someone who has given so much to this country.

Mike Viti is a true patriot, true warrior, and most of all, an American hero.