Life Is Not Complicated, Derek Jeter…a man of integrity, discipline and consummate professionalism

Jeter Tips Hat Yankee Stadium September 28, 2014, one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game of baseball officially retired from the sport. During his final game in Boston, Derek Jeter removed himself after driving in a run with an RBI single as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 9-5 at Fenway Park.

Jeter already had an outstanding moment days prior in his Yankee Stadium finale, when he played shortstop for the last time and singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees won five titles with their Captain.

I am not going to detail Jeter’s iconic 20-year career as a New York Yankee. That would take a while. And yes, I know we have seen many legends leave the field of the sport they dominated to fanfare and celebration; trailblazers that made history whether it be in baseball, football, basketball, etc. However, there is something about Jeter that is unique and awe inspiring and that deserves the utmost respect. This athlete, throughout his career- both professionally and personally- remained a man of integrity, discipline and consummate professionalism. He retired after 20 years without so much as a blemish on his character. Jeter was a hometown hero in New York and clearly one of the most popular, recognizable, successful (and wealthy) men in sports, yet managed to steer clear of the foolishness and temptation that could have cost him his career; the kind of temptation and bad behavior way too many athletes (whether it be because of greed, ego, sense of entitlement or just plain ignorance) allow to senselessly ruin their lives. Now I don’t know Jeter; no idea what he does in the extreme privacy of his daily life. None of my business. What I do know is, you never heard about Jeter murdering his baby’s mother to avoid paying child support (Ray Carruth); never read about the Yankee Captain juicing up with (or linked to ) illegal steroids or HGH to enhance his performance (Mark McGuire, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Jeter BoSox RespectSammy Sosa to name a few). He wasn’t turning up and shooting himself in the leg outside clubs and getting charged with criminal possession of a weapon (Plaxico Burress; still makes no sense to me). Nor did he find himself the subject of a disturbing, violent domestic dispute scandal (Ray Rice). My point is, Derek Jeter showed us all that it is possible to be blessed with the talent, the opportunities and the success that comes with being a celebrated athlete and still live a life that earned him the title of leader, role model and gentleman. Everywhere he went! Even in the midst of the “enemy” (the Yankee – Red Sox rivalry is serious!) Yet, the BoSox honored him at Fenway without any reservations. In the realm of team rivalries, that says a hell of a lot.

We don’t hear enough about the Jeters. In sports or in our everyday lives. We are so caught up in the drama of the bad boy we fail to recognize the accomplishment of being a good man (or woman). Some people worship brawling, cussing, out of order “Basketball Wives” and barely acknowledge the dignity, intelligence and accomplishments of a Michele Obama. We talk all day long about dead beat dads and trifling brothers and barely acknowledge the role men like my good friend and comic Eddie B,a single father and highly educated teacher and mentor, play in the lives of their children and family and friends. Those stories are not sexy to some people. Which leads me to say, you need to redefine your idea of sexy.

Girardi JeterAs someone who is extremely proud of the team he works with, I understand completely what Yankee Manager Joe Girardi had so say about Jeter’s retirement. I mean he got emotional just trying to put into words what it is like to manage/work with such a good dude. He said “It’s been a blessing to play along with such a great player. To manage a guy that is what you want in every player. What you want every player to care about. What you want every player to fight for. What you want every player to do.” I could not have said it better myself. When you have people you work with, that you lead or who you consider a leader or role model and can say to yourself “THIS is a person I can look up to”. “This is a person who is about their business, who takes care of home, who values their reputation and that of the people around them”. “THIS is the person who knows right from wrong and lives a righteous life because that is all they know what to do. No drama, no BS, no complaining, no excuses”. To be surrounded by THESE people will inspire you and encourage you to be your best. If you look around you, and either cannot find more than a handful of people who light a fire under your ambition, you may need to re-evaluate your circle.

Life Is Not Complicated

I work every day to live my life in such a way that when I take my last breath, I will be satisfied I made a difference and I was an inspiration; that I left something behind that will be meaningful to society; I did not shame my family, disappoint my friends or ruin my good name. If this is not your personal and professional objective, why bother? A life that matters, is a life well lived. Make your life matter.

Life Is Not Complicated, it’s not abuse it’s DISCIPLINE…

I have been hesitant about addressing the Adrian Peterson “child abuse” charges. Note the quotes. This may be an indication of where I stand.

Adrian PetersonThis story has been unfolding so rapidly and some of the conversations surrounding the issue have been so downright confrontational, accusatory and judgmental that I needed to take a step back and make sure my thoughts on this situation were sensible and above all presented in an educated, useful, and hopefully informative way. This is another good opportunity to try to understand what makes people different and drive home the fact there are billions of people in the world and guess what: Some of those people were raised a whole lot differently than others. What works for some, probably would not appeal to others. What some consider harsh means of discipline others will hail as the ONLY way to make sure a young child does not become an adult menace. However, in no way should personal opinions earn any man or woman the labels coon, sell-out, monster, slave-mentality, stupid, barbaric, Uncle Tom (or any of the absolutely ignorant names that have been thrown into the debate simply because you don’t agree with a person’s opinion). That helps nothing and it adds very little to the conversation. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

Jacksonville,_TX,_welcome_sign_IMG_2985I was born and raised in East Texas. Many who read this either have met my Momma or have read about her in “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are”. That said, it will come as no surprise that this good O’l Boy from East Texas– where the BIBLE is our guide, GOD is the final word, liberal views on the way people live their lives are not accepted and the rod (the switch, the belt, the slipper, the extension cord, the mixing spoon and the hand) were NOT spared–got whooped by Alice Wallace on several occasions and I THANK GOD! Because I can assure you, without question or doubt I am the man I am today because my Momma not only disciplined me, she commanded my respect. And she demanded that Montage Alice Wallacethis respect carry over into every aspect of my family (grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles) and beyond. And if she heard that I did not live up to that expectation or God forbid, found out that I (or any of my siblings) embarrassed our family name in any way…you better believe we got whupped! “Abuse” is allowing your children to get away with misbehaving and have them grow up thinking it’s okay to question authority. Abuse is not raising a child with an iron hand only to have them wear steel handcuffs later in life. Abuse is not letting a child know that there will be deep, dire consequences if you act the dam fool and when they go out into polite society they are harshly labeled, shunned and classified as having “no home training. I am not here to tell you whether being on the receiving end of that “switch” is right or wrong. Not my place. What you do in your home is your business. However, I can not tolerate any judgment that ultimately questions the values and principles that I hold dear and credit for my success. I take particular offense when that criticism comes from someone like Cris Carter, whose family I know for a fact incorporated the very same values and modes of discipline that he now calls abuse. It was the same lifestyle my friends and I sit around and reflect on because of how it helped so many of us stay on the straight and narrow, with some exceptions.  In my opinion Cris is the exception, not the rule. He is an exception that obviously did not learn the lesson discipline was meant to instill, falling deep into drug addiction before turning his life around; an exception that did the unthinkable in his remarks about Adrian Peterson: he vilified his Momma in front of the world. A woman who in his own words “did the best she could” to raise 7 children. She was either “wrong” or did her best. One of them is a lie. We were taught to honor our mothers and fathers. Whuppings did not change that. My mother and father prepared us for life. I will never dishonor their memory by questioning their methods or audaciously vilify my parents for taking care of their children within the guidelines of their culture and upbringing. For the record, my Granddaddy (My Mom’s father) was a deacon and a Judge… and yes, he believed in whuppings.

I find it frustrating that an issue that should have been dealt with personally made it to the media. How is it a mother and father cannot have a discussion about the best way to raise a child? And what has happened to our society, especially with regard to family values, to make it so easy to air our issues so openly for the world to judge? I did not include pictures of the child in this blog for that very reason. Ironically, I have read reports the child’s mother is “outraged” these private photos were released to the public. But what did she expect? So now, when all this blows over and you expect and need this man to be a “Father to his children” (after you have completely destroyed his credibility as a leader and disciplinarian in his family by virtue of the fact that if he even raises his voice to loudly someone may call the cops out of fear he may become “abusive”) his hands are tied. And you know what happens in homes where children are allowed to make the rules? They become adults who are not capable of following the rules. What good is that to our society?

East TexasEast Texas, my Southern roots, my strict upbringing and yes, a whupping every now and then helped make me a productive, contributing member of society and allowed me to raise children who follow the same strict guidelines. When (if) you decide you no longer need to adhere to the foundation I set, you are more than free to begin building your own. However, I’m pretty confident, the tools I used to build mine are a whole lot sturdier, more reliable and will construct a foundation that will last a hell of a lot longer.

Life Is Not Complicated, who are we to judge the Rice’s…

There is nothing I can say that will add anything to the ongoing debate about the Ray and Janay Rice incident that has been holding our timelines, twitter feeds, sports shows, news broadcasts, online publications, magazines and newspapers hostage as we ride the wave of this latest trending topic.

Rice Press ConferenceI have never been one to condone a man putting their hands on a woman. I personally do not excuse violence of any kind. No human being should strike another human being, period. I wasn’t raised that way, I don’t think that way and I do not associate with anyone who thinks that is ok. That is not the respectful man my Momma and my Grandmother taught me to be. However, they also taught me not to judge. They taught me that what happens between a man and a woman in their marriage (or any relationship) is between THAT man and woman. We can “would have, should have, could have” all day long. In the end, one thing is certain: No one has any idea what Ray Rice was really thinking when he committed such a horrible act and no one (no matter how much you speculate, relate, associate or commiserate) has a definitive, unbiased, without a doubt clue what Janay Rice is feeling or thinking but Janay Rice.

Judge Jury ExecutionerThe bottom line is he did a terrible thing to the woman he says he loves. She forgave him. They say they want to heal and move on. What more do we want? I don’t stand in judgment of people because I am not perfect. And one thing is for sure… at one time or another I was forgiven for one thing or another and was grateful for the opportunity to move on with my life. I will wager many of us can say the same thing. Now imagine, if after committing whatever egregious act that required forgiveness, the entire world wanted your heads on a platter and your life sacrificed? What if every time we did something wrong, society could play judge and jury and condemn our souls to eternal fire. I mean seriously, there would be no one left in the world!

For me (and this is just my opinion, not a judgment, not a denouncement, not vilification, nor am I condoning anyone’s Rice Familyactions)… I really hope these people can find some kind of healing and resolution. They have a child. And once we all move on to the next trending topic, that little girl will still be in the midst of a very painful existence that will only get better if this family is allowed to get on with their lives. No one can tell Janay what to do. No one can tell Ray Rice what to do. These are grown folks that will do what they feel works for them. Instead of judging them, thank God you are not dealing with their pain. In other words, let’s get back to focusing on our lives so we don’t lose track of what’s happening in our backyard and end up creating our own personal crisis!

With all that said, please…if you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence or any form of abuse (man or woman), I urge you to speak up and find someone (friend, family member, pastor, spiritual adviser, doctor, law enforcement official, domestic abuse hotline, priest) you can turn to for help.