Devon Berry: A Source for Inspiration at any Age

From the Hoss Martin Archives: Saturday, September 12, 2015

While most of the nation’s commemoration for the victims and survivors of the day that will live in infamy with regards to the New Millennium from September 11, 2015, a picturesque, serotinal day was taking place on the campus of the Hampton High School Hornets in Hampton, Georgia. The sunlight sky was blue (from the way that our eyes interpret it) with sporadic wispiness of clouds that resembled cotton candy.

There was a sizable klatch of spectators who were participating in tailgate type of festivities like the Partner’s Club where high school students sold barbeque dinners to arriving football fans in an endeavor to raise money for children with disabilities. Suddenly, the marching band began to walk amain the short distance to the stadium where their Hornets Varsity Football Team were already on the field preparing for the visiting Riverdale High School Raiders.

The backdrop for a Friday evening high school football game in the South may not have seemed epochal to anyone who happened to visit until one observed a small film crew capturing virtually every movement of a remarkable young student athlete. His name was, Devon Berry, a senior at Hampton High School who has excelled at football (he is a captain), wrestling, and basketball; he has also been challenged with Cerebral Palsy.

As the game commenced, Berry did not receive any playing time initially. Hampton’s program is still in its nascent stages of development since opening in 2014. Riverdale was far more experienced which was evident with their quick striking offense that generally amassed any yardage they wanted that resulted in two touchdowns at halftime.

          Approximately seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the public address announcer notified the crowd that number 62 Devon Berry was entering the game. The home fans cheered ecstatically as the young man used his arms to blitz towards his team’s defensive huddle dragging both legs behind him.

It only took Berry a few plays to get into a rhythm where he was in the middle of the scrum from the defensive guard position to help tackle Riverdale’s ball carrier or at least influencing the mobile quarterback to move to either his left or right away from Berry. Although Berry’s Hornets were eventually overmatched by size and experience that culminated in a 39-6 defeat to the Raiders, his indomitable spirit did not allow his team to demonstrate any signs of waving the figurative white flag at any moment.

For many of us, we are not challenged with a condition that may compromise our ability to ambulate in a traditional sense, but it is noteworthy to see how Devon Berry is making the best of his abilities to the point where he has positioned himself to enter college in the pursuit of a degree in sports broadcasting. What can we accomplish with our God given talents?

There are moments in life when some of us may feel as if we are unappreciated or overlooked in comparison to others who have enjoyed more of a celebrated status. If that is the case, we must learn how to overcome these periods of distraction by developing the kind of determination to become a champion on the inside whether or not we are always touted by others. Some of us are finally realizing what it takes to become a champion after four decades or more of life; Devon Berry is a true champion in less than half that time.

Not Enough Groundswell to shake the Tower of NFL

  On Wednesday, August 23, 2017, the initial foray in the attempt to force the National Football League into capitulation by emancipating Colin Kaepernick out of the current state of purgatory was held by a demonstration within a stone’s throw of the league’s offices. The premise was to force a dialogue with the giant based upon numbers and media generated attention, but the vociferous crowd (modest in number) was not of the magnitude to capture the imaginations of sports fans throughout the land which is still focused on things like the farcical event of the soi-disant fight of the century between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and McGregor this weekend.

While Kaepernick’s stalwarts are correct to have some concerns about professional football players not being able to have a voice without facing the possibility of retribution, Roger Goodell’s regime is still a bit more lenient with the athletes in comparison to the past. The despotism of the late Pete Rozelle, former NFL commissioner from 1960-1989, was purported to have all players to stand while holding their helmets in their left hands while resting the right hand to the chest during the national anthem due to the conservative nature of the fan base.

Nonetheless, there must be a significant groundswell from the public in order make a dent in the wall of this empire much less make it topple. If a boycott is forthcoming, it requires a diverse, tumultuary crowd with enough size and prominence to impact the National Football League for a significant duration to force change. The odds are long against this process being successful, though.

On July 29, 1986, the United States Football League defeated the National Football League in the epic antitrust case on a technicality, but the craven jury only awarded the USFL a paltry $1 in judgment that was multiplied to a whopping $3.76 in 1990 following appeals. I was so angry at the time that I took a moment to make a statement during my parents 17th anniversary dinner with all the seriousness that a 15-year-old could and said, “I am never watching the NFL again!” The boycott lasted only days as I strangely could not stop myself from watching the Detroit Lions have another train wreck of a season as they went 5-11 under Darryl Rogers.

Now, we have some well-meaning individuals desiring to boycott the NFL because of Colin Kaepernick and issues of racialism. In reality, this is nothing but hyperbole because so many folks are addicted to fantasy football that they might of to place themselves into the Betty Ford Center for treatment. Also, if the hometown team makes it to the Super Bowl, all bets are off. Nevertheless, the NFL is too powerful of an entity to overcome right now. The NFL has defeated more enemies than King David!

Do We Care about Colin Kaepernick’s Best Interest or Using Him as a Political Football?

   It has been nearly a calendar year since celebrities, and non-celebrities alike have overrun the media with a series of falderals regarding Colin Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem before the kickoff of a preseason game. Kaepernick was once lauded as the anticipated quarterback of the future for the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, his career has been in flux since leading the Prospectors to a Super Bowl appearance against the Baltimore Ravens.

As of Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7 a.m. EDT, the aftermath of the sitting versus kneeling controversy had left Kaepernick without a team when the San Francisco 49ers decided to allow him to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Although he is more qualified or experienced than some quarterbacks in the National Football League, Kaepernick has not been presented with serious offers from any franchise to even have a chance as a backup QB.

Of course, there is nothing inappropriate about anyone having an opinion on this subject matter. I just have a question about the motives of certain individuals because some have little frame of reference about Kaepernick’s career. There have been people I have known over the years attempting to use Kaepernick as the clarion call for injustice, and they could not tell the difference between a football helmet and a batting helmet.

These are some of the selfsame characters who have to make statements on every facet of conversation that is trending in social media such as the following: Jay-Z’s latest album, O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing, Beyoncé’s children, God is going to send you money in three days, LeBron versus Kyrie Irving, and LaVar Ball versus everyone. They just cannot have any topic slip past them without alerting everybody and their mama on Twitter and Facebook.

Conversely, I have known colleagues for several years who have always spoken against racialism and social injustice. Whether or not I was in agreement with them, some of my acquaintances have been the model of consistency on Kaepernick and other topics.

I am just questioning the sincerity of some of my friends whom my wife claims are too afraid of missing out on the zeitgeist of the day. These are some of the clowns I may have known to have consumed barbeque ribs (and everything else pork) every week for over four decades and three days ago has some sort of epiphany and are unwilling to even walk in front of a Shane’s Rib Shack for fear that it may not be kosher. Perhaps, these are some of the individuals that Jason Whitlock could have referenced in his recent commentary on FOX Sports.

Nevertheless, Kaepernick has to take some responsibility for being an inferior caricature of a luminary such as Dr. Harry Edwards while donning a Fidel Castro T-shirt on one particular afternoon. This farce was reminiscent of a character in the movie Car Wash where the owner’s son walked around the facility wearing a Mao Zedong shirt while quoting his sayings from a book like Aunt Esther would do carrying a King James Bible on Sanford and Son.

Regardless, the national discord has been multifarious in nature about whether or not Kaepernick had the right to act in such fashion. Hidebound traditionalists were eager to point out that Kaepernick’s decision to not stand was showing contempt for all soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America despite the realization that this was done in part to allow him and others to opportunities to demonstrate these freedoms. Conversely, some progressives adopted radical positions about the patriotism of some the nation’s most nefarious criminals (such as Timothy McVeigh) not being questioned despite committing their fiendish deeds which are a means of distraction.

In truth, extremism on either side of the political spectrum should be avoided because it is easy to be misled or intentionally deceived. Propaganda of intolerance and racialism has become more prevalent from all sides since circa 2008. The demagoguery of “straight talk” and “keeping it 100” has paralyzed this nation close to the point of no return; it has resulted in politicians purported to have called for Gestapo tactics by police for maintaining order.

The recent passing of my father earlier this month has caused me to be in a deeper level of introspection about his weltanschauung. My dad served in the military during what was considered the Vietnam Era but was not deployed there during the mid-sixties. Nonetheless, he still was a fan of Muhammad Ali during that period and taught me to be the same, but his patriotism still overshadowed any shortcomings America had during his lifetime.

Thus, my conjecture is that both of my parents (who have passed away in the past ten months) would not be in agreement with Kaepernick’s action. When I received the carefully folded flag that covered my dad’s coffin at a national cemetery, I felt that a healthy respect for this national symbol is a privilege that should not be avoided as long as it does not lead to jingoism. In closing, Kaepernick (and us all) are free not to participate in certain traditions, but there are better ways to address social aspects besides this one alone.

Dallas Cowboys, Mike Singletary, and What if

  Training Camp 2017 has already commenced for the Dallas Cowboys, and a circus is afoot as per usual. There have been ominous signs that running back Ezekiel Elliott may be subject to some sort of suspension resulting from an alleged domestic violence incident; the sudden (reported) release of Lucky Whitehead adds another layer to the carnival spectacle of Oxnard, California. The Cowboys have already positioned themselves with enough potential distractions that could derail this campaign before it is even started.

    This pattern of mediocrity has been systemic for the last 20 years, and it is becoming more apparent that the Owner/President, General Manager Jerry Jones has devolved into an enabler that has made athletes with questionable characters to be too comfortable with their foibles. Now, this is not a problem if his tendencies are offset by a head coach who genuinely can command respect within the locker room.

    Thus far, Jason Garrett has demonstrated the acumen of being the kind of head coach with neoteric qualities of the late Tom Landry. Unfortunately for Garrett, football observers doubt he has the autonomy necessary to be seen in the eyes of his players more than just a substitute teacher, which was the same fate of Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, and Wade Phillips.

    If the Dallas Cowboys’ season of promise ultimately falls short of reaching the game affixed with Roman Numerals as is typical, questions will surround Garrett once again about his ability to lead whether it is fair or not. Nevertheless, this process will result in fans of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex becoming even more despondent.

    Jerry’s team does not necessarily need a head coach with the disposition of Generals “Black Jack” Pershing, Patton, or Eisenhower, but they can use a person whose bona fides of authority are unequivocal and are understood without needing any dissertations to prove that this is the case. An example of this kind of a modern autocrat is Mike Singletary.      

    Of course, some will contend that Singletary’s tenure as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers was anything but stellar. While that fact is true, one can perceive that he has learned a great deal from that experience and has prepared extensively for another opportunity if it presents itself. Besides, the National Football League has a lengthy history of accepting retreads countless times who had a better chance of capturing Bigfoot than hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Therefore, Singletary is due for another opportunity.

    The only way that a Singletary regime could prosper is by Jones showing a modicum of deference to him as he did with Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson. Singletary does not have a reputation of ridiculing ownership in the past, and it is doubtful he would do this with Jones. Nonetheless, respect is a double-sided phenomenon that should be explored by these two men if Garrett, unfortunately, falls on the proverbial sword.

Hoss Martin’s Autobiography

 

My parents discovered my obsession with sports and broadcasting when I “borrowed” their cassette tape recorder in a feeble endeavor to imitate Detroit Pistons’ venerated sports commentator George Blaha back in the late seventies. Of course, they opted to keep that amateur “podcast” for years instead of erasing it in a bribery attempt to be used against me when I got out-of-line. Henceforth, I spent most of my time in barber shops promulgating the merits of why my favorite teams should perform better, but I usually attempted to take notes of signature moments in sports for later usage consequently. Although I attended and received my Bachelor of Science in Mass Media Communications from Oral Roberts University in 1996, I never really had an appropriate outlet for these reflections of previous and current sporting events. I was finally able to unleash over 35 years of hidden frustration when I met DJ Mike (http://djmikeshow.com/), who was the impetus behind the establishment of Sports Round-Up With Hoss Martin on November 23, 2010, under the aegis of Chris Mar Studios. So, please enjoy these postings of blog entries, statistics, and links contained on the website; just do not inquire my parents about that tape mentioned above. Contact: hossmartin@hossmartin.com

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