Missing My Missed Opportunities

SingleBullet

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — And there I was, in the VIP Room at Presidential Caterers, acting like a 12-year-old kid in the presence of Dick Vermeil.

The guest speaker for the 17th Annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet was holding court with many willing sycophants, and I was among the jesters hanging on every word and hoping my laugh track was synched up with the guy talk that strayed into activities that are against the law in Gordonville: Hunting, golfing and feeling sorrowful if Penn State chokes away a game.

I never got Vermeil alone – except briefly by the cheese and crackers to tell him that John Pergine gives his regards – but I had ample opportunities to let him know I was no ersatz Eagles fan.

And I refrained from saying two words that may have sent him on an infamous tirade and out the door.

Those words: Mike Michel.

Who? Sigh, let’s go through the past darkly.

While the Eagles steadily improved through the 1970s, particularly with Vermeil’s arrival, their kicking game remained atrocious.

Until it was solidified by drafting a kicker (Tony Franklin) and a punter (Max Runager) after the 1978 season, one which saw Vermeil guide the Birds to the playoffs for the first time since their championship season of 1960, it was a litany of no-leg names: Kickers like Happy Feller (no lie), Horst Muhlmann (as awful as his name) and Ove Johansson (made a 69-yarder in college and couldn’t make a 69-footer in the pros) and punters like Spike Jones (the band leader would have been an upgrade) and Rick Engles.

After Engles proved no better than Jones, Michel was brought off the street corner halfway through the 1978 season to take his place.

He had been a draft pick of the Dolphins, and punters aren’t drafted that often, so there was anticipation in the air when Michel dropped back for his first punt at the Vet.

Whiff City.

I don’t mean shank.

I mean whiff.

He did something we were beyond as young teens in the schoolyard. He missed the ball altogether.

At that point, you could even boo – or look for Santa Claus to accost with snowballs or beer bottles. We just laughed as Michel averaged 3 yards on his first three punts.

He became mediocre enough as a punter to ride out the season, but Vermeil made the fateful choice to have Michel – an OK college kicker at Stanford — also serve as a placekicker when Nick Mick-Mayer was injured.

In the playoffs against Atlanta, the Eagles built a 13-0 lead – despite a missed extra-point and field goal by Michel that would have made it 17-0 – and fell behind, 14-13, before Ron Jaworski drove them into field goal range (and some guy named Oren Middelbrook almost made a diving one-handed catch for a touchdown). With time running out, Michel missed a 34-yarder that would have made everyone’s Christmas merry (the game was played on Christmas Eve).

Not asking Vermeil about Michel was not the first time I chose discretion over valor, and it put me in mind of my handful of chances with Sen. Arlen Specter, as it just so happened that two days after the banquet, Nov. 22, was the 55th anniversary of the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy Jr. in Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

In a past lifetime, in the more isolated atmosphere of editorial board meetings, I had more than one chance to go a few rounds with the late – and occasionally great – Specter.

We talked current events, and he decried gridlock inside the beltway and gerrymandering, but we kept the past buried.

Here in Gordonville, it was only fitting that a turkey shoot on Nov. 22, 1963 took place on Turkey Day 55 years later.

While we only display Festivus poles in public, it is taught in our schools that the assassination remains unsolved.

The official story – one that Specter, then an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia with wide-eyed ambitions, helped sell for the Warren Report — is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone by hitting JFK with pinpoint accuracy with two shots after missing the car with the first.

Instead of Mike Michel, I could have gone with “single bullet.”

The problem with the theory was that one of the two connecting bullets zigzagged up and down and in and out and all around in order to do all the damage it did – all while emerging in nearly pristine condition on a stretcher at the hospital.

With witnesses hearing shots fired from other directions, including the grassy knoll that would have provided ideal cover for a gunman to fire the kill shot, there had to be an explanation to tie it all up in a neat little bow.

And as the years passed, and in spite of a multiplicity of theories that get shut down, the damage to the truth was permanent.

Specter was able to carve a solid career for himself as a politician – Philadelphia DA from 1966-74 and US Senator from 1981-2011 — and was one of the few Republicans, which he was for most of his career, I voted for on a regular basis.

But he still lost points for being a willing participant in this trail gone as a cold as the current president’s heart.

Football coaches, like Vermeil, can learn as they go about saving a roster spot and hoping to get by with a punter as a placekicker, as he never treated the kicking game as an afterthought again.

There appears to be no such contrition from Specter, who passed away in the fall of 2012.

If I had questioned him on it, my only satisfaction would be to have a story to tell while in my rocking chair.

While Specter would have reverted to the form that made him captain of the Yale Law School debating team, I would have reverted to the form that made me an oft-penalized captain of my street hockey team.

But that wouldn’t have made him right, or me wrong.

It would just make me part of the 61 percent of Americans, as compared to 33 percent, who believe “others were involved” in the assassination.

The explanation from those who don’t want us to believe it in a conspiracy is that we can’t handle the truth, with that truth being that a loser and loner like Oswald could kill such a powerful and wonderful man.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not even living in that galaxy, let alone zip code.

If a total dingbat can become president – witness Exhibit A on the news every day – it is more than conceivable that a doofus like Oswald could kill the president in a time when security was a lot more lackadaisical.

The problem is that the evidence, despite the efforts of the likes of Specter, is as shaky as a kick off the foot of Mike Michel.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 2

Finland Is A Fine Land

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I’m all for challenging myself and going after that Holy Grail.

But, sometimes, you just have to grab the low-hanging fruit and gorge upon it.

Such was the case a few days – and 1,606 news cycles — ago when your president (#notmypresident) decided to pull the toilet paper off his shoe and visit the devastation caused by wildfires in his least favorite state, California, for a photo op of feigned caring.

But it was just more bungle in the jungle for your president (I’m going to act like an 8-year-old on this name thing for as long as he does on his Twitter feed) tried to do two things that are out his wheelhouse: He tried sounding both empathetic (an impossible task for a sociopath), and intelligent.

Pres. Bone Spurs (as so dubbed by presidential candidate Richard Ojeda) pulled Finland out of his baseball cap, citing it as a shining example of wildfire management because of something to do with leaves – raking too much, not enough, whatever.

And Mr. Science attributed the source of this knowledge to Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto.

The response from Finland was quick.

Amid a flurry of #RakeAmericaGreatAgain hashtags – along with some hilarious pictures — from the small Nordic beacon of light that plays some big-time ice hockey, Niinisto made no mention of “raking” anything in a brief generic conversation on the topic.

Somebody is fibbing, and I don’t need to wait on the fact-checkers to know who.

Without getting too in depth here, let’s just say that Finland and the US, especially California, are vastly different climates.

You may as well compare Hawaii and the North Pole, or Earth and Vulcan.

Chalk it up to yet another in an assembly line of ignorant statements, any of which would have had White Nationalists surrounding the White House if said by Barrack Obama.

But since Pres. Bone Spurs went there, comparing the U.S. to Finland, let’s stay there.

Please.

This is low-hanging fruit at its sweetest (well, maybe second to the first daughter using private e-mails, Hillary-style).

If Pres. Bone Spurs wants to rip pages out of the Finnish playbook, instead of that of Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, consider the following as we move from gibberish about Finland’s raking acumen to its actual world rankings, which include No. 7 in Quality of Life Index (U.S. News & World Report) as compared to No. 17 for us in U.S.

Here is a good one, considering the constant labeling of the free press as the “enemy of the people.” Finland is currently No. 4 in the world (Reporters Without Borders’ Worldwide Freedom of the Press Index). This means the Finns are doing the First Amendment thing better than we are, as the same index has the US ranked a pathetic 45th (behind the likes of Jamaica, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobego and Taiwan).

What’s next? Countries beating us at our games, like baseball and basketball? Oh, wait, never mind.

Had enough? No? Good. In the immortal words of Clubber Lang in Rocky III (one movie before the series jumped the shark), “I got a lotta more.”

Here we go. Finland has these notches in its belt:

-Best environmental performance (Environmental Performance Index) and cleanest environment (World Health Organization).

-Most Technologically advanced (UN’s Technology Achievement Index). Funny how that works, while not selling their souls in terms of being environmentally conscious.

-Most Olympic medals per capita (population is only 5.5 million, and yet they whip our butts).

If you recall the mumbo jumbo from the campaign season, Pres. Bone Spurs talked a lot about “law and order.” Guess he meant the TV show.

So far, we have averaged about a mass shooting per game since his reign of error began.

Finland? Thanks for asking.

Consider the following:

-Finland is the safest country in the world (Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report) and ranks a second in police and internal security (World Internal Security and Police Index).

Pres. Bone Spurs might be enlightened to learn that Finland is second to only Denmark in free and most reliable elections (Electoral Integrity Project of the University of Sydney and our own Harvard), and has the third least corruption in the world (Corruption Perceptions Index).

And before you start with the typical angry white male responses of “if you like Finland so much, go move there, you Commie-Pinko,” consider that one of Finland’s most powerful political parties is the Democratic Socialist party.

What does that type of Bernie Sanders governance do to the economy?

Well, Finland, with the soundest banks in the world (Global Competiveness Report), has one of the best performing economies in the EU.

And yet, it blows us away more than the Saints did to the Eagles in terms of health and wellness rankings across the board.

Publicly funded, with universal healthcare available to all, Finland ranks in the top five in the world in satisfaction.

So, why don’t I move there? Aside from not enough Bruce Springsteen on the radio (or Taylor Swift for Sofia) and “real” football on TV (assuming the Eagles ever play “real football” again), Finland leads the world in milk and coffee consumption (my sensitive liberal system can’t handle either).

Besides, it’s not a question of loving it or leaving it, is it?

I don’t want to move to New Orleans just because the Eagles got destroyed, do I?

In order to be heartbroken by something, you have to love it. I love my country, which is why I’m so heartbroken by it right now.

As for those leaves, Pres. Bone Spurs, I have an idea. There are some Honduran refugees who would be willing to rake them – probably while the embers are still burning — in exchange for asylum.

I’m sure Finland would approve.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald

Jive Turkeys To Avoid on Turkey Day

Nugent

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Three years northbound of 50 (the new 30), I’m old enough to remember when the term “jive turkey” was as common as men wearing platform shoes and women all trying (and failing) to look like the one and only Farrah Fawcett (my second celebrity crush after Marcia Brady).

With us now into Thanksgiving week, we are a country in such turmoil that we are deathly afraid to stray from narrowing choice of safe topics just to avoid the fun of the healthy political debate that should be as required as cranberry sauce.

Adding to the tension is the outside noise from jive turkeys keeping the volume raised.

A start would be to end the constant “gobble-gobble” of certain attention seekers. They have their pulpits – i.e. blogs, Twitter accounts, microphones in front of their non-stop traps, etc. – but that doesn’t mean anyone is required to take in their sermons as gospel.

For this pre-Thanksgiving public service, we will exclude elected officials and full-time employees of accredited media outlets, from the PNML (Pay No Mind List).

As for the rest, get these noisemakers out of your life:

1) Michael Avenatti – During minutes 10-12 of his 15 of prime-time exposure as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, some saw him as an out-of-the-box Democratic presidential candidate who would actually bring some fight into the ring. His act has since worn thin, though. A recent poll of Democrats showed him with less than 1 percent support as a candidate in 2020. Bye, Michael. Hello, Richard Ojeda of West Virginia, a new gloves-off kind of a guy.

2) Steve Bannon — For many of us, any chance to give the president half a chance was ruined in Charlottesville. That horrific August weekend in 2017 – from the planning, to the chilling nighttime Nazi-to-English chants to the equal blaming of both sides afterward – had the DNA of Bannon, then serving as White House Chief Strategist, all over it. He has since departed from that role. That’s the good news. The bad news? He still draws the same air as the rest of us, and has a full calendar of public speaking engagements to prove it. Ain’t that America for you and me?

3) Ann Coulter – If we had a dollar for every idiotic thing this Cornell graduate has written and said just to grab back the attention she briefly enjoyed a decade ago, every homeless veteran would have shelter and every hungry child would be fed. She has a right to spew her nonsense – “liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole,” etc. — but we have a right to ignore it.

4) Louis Farrakhan – No denying the good he has done within the black community, with the Million Man March of 1995 serving as a highlight, but there is no denying the bad vibes puts out simply because he just won’t let his raging anti-Semitism rest. With each incendiary remark (questioning what Jews did to Hitler to earn what they got), he loses any credibility in the mainstream — let alone the mainstream black community.

5) Kardashians – Not going to break it down to this Kardashian or that Kardashian. They are not even worth the time I just spent on them.

6) Ted Nugent – Going back to the Classic Rock era, when people used the term “jive turkey,” this guy was just another B-level turkey mostly known for one song – “Cat Scratch Fever.” It seemed nonsensical at the time, with lyrics just to serve as fodder for his half-decent guitar chops. Upon further scientific review, “Cat Scratch Fever” is an ailment with long-term side effects of brain damage. Nugent is entitled to extreme right-wing views, but a “tough guy” who admittedly did whatever it took to get out of going to Vietnam shouldn’t be considered a cogent voice in the political debate.

7) Sarah Palin – Oh, man, what was the late John McCain was thinking by adding someone with limited political experience (not even one full term as governor of Alaska and mayor of a small city) to the bottom of his presidential ticket in 2008? Right idea, going with a woman, but the wrong choice. Those who were bitter about Barrack Obama winning the presidency, and immediately – and curiously – demanded their country back, should trace their angst to Palin, as she may have cost McCain the election (I know it made my decision easy). She seemed to go away for a bit, but was empowered all over again by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Ugh!

8) Phil Robertson – Ah, the Duck Commander of Duck Dynasty infamy. Remember that? The once formidable A&E Network chose to grab the low hanging fruit and produced a reality show about a family of duck hunters. You can’t make this stuff up. His relatives grew beards to fit the façade and, with consequences we are still dealing with, western civilization went on life support as ratings soared. The show ended, and his kinfolk shaved their beards and went back to the real world. Meanwhile, Robertson’s sense of self-importance continued when he became a right-wing Buddha often propped up by Bannon. If you hear this guy’s patented duck call (eye roll), please duck!

9) Melania Trump – I have kept her off-limits, but no more. The first “lady” is suddenly sticking her beak in where it does not belong, ripping a page out of Nancy Reagan’s playbook (and we know why Mrs. Reagan had to become increasingly protective of her husband). Isn’t it ironic that Mrs. Trump’s stance is supposedly against bullying, especially cyber bullying? She not only condones it with her husband’s 3 a.m. Twitter tantrums, but she is becoming one herself. What’s up with that? Three cheers for the Einstein Visa.

10) Kanye West – Already public enemy No. 1 on the Glantz home front for that bizarre awards-show incident with Taylor Swift back in 2009 (Sofia was only 2 at the time, but she knows every detail the way I do about the JFK assassination that took place two years before I was born). “Kanye being Kanye” was a cover-up for clear untreated mental health issues. He lauded the president’s persona, earning a bizarre visit to the White House, and then changed what is left of his mind about his support. We are dealing with the ultimate jive turkey. And don’t get me started on the “music.” I’d rather listen to Ted Nugent.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald.

Needed: Name For November

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — October is now in the books. We’ve carved our pumpkins, gone trick-or-treating, raked our leaves (well, not me) and ushered in the start of the NHL and NBA seasons.

Most importantly, we’ve seen enough pink to make us think long and hard about the reason: Breast Cancer Awareness.

While we shouldn’t forget that men can conceivably get breast cancer, 99 percent of cases are women.

That’s our wives, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our dearest of friends.

That could be why the most macho of men let down their guard and wear pink shirts, ties, caps, etc.

While breast cancer owns October, in terms of awareness, there are other worthy causes — dental hygiene, disability employment, domestic violence and others – that often fly too far under the radar.

Once the calendar flips to November, the same holds true, but there is no clear-cut dominant cause.

Let us look at a few (alphabetically) – and exclude the lesser serious ones (National Georgia Peach Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Pepper Month, National Vegan Month) – that claim November to raise awareness:

Aviation Month: Yawn! Literally, since the glorified station wagons with wings often jar me from my afternoon naps as they fly into nearby Wing’s Field, I’m sleep deprived. Wake me up when they invent something that can reach outer space (Star Trek had us there already). I’ve seen enough Wright Bros. replicas in museums to last a lifetime.

Good Nutrition Month: When every corner has a pizza place or a fast-food burger joint, it’s hard to resist the temptation to less than healthy. Still, a little awareness can go a long way. Example: The U.S. ranks 31st in life expectancy, according to the World Health Organization, at right around 79 years old — after ranking at, or near, the top in the 1960s. There are a lot of contributing factors, such as the air we breathe and the stress we put ourselves under, but eating right isn’t a bad place to start. Tough to do it all the time, every time, but I try when I can to go with the healthier choice without being ridiculous – or annoying — about it.

Hunger Awareness Month: In what is supposed to be the wealthiest country in the world, too many people either go hungry or lack access to healthy food. It is called “Food Insecurity,” and USDA reports that 21 percent of households with children deal with what is defined as “lack of access to food” at all time for all family members. While hard statistics weren’t kept during the Great Depression, this is in the same ballpark.

National AIDS Awareness Month: AIDS has morphed into more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, and cases have dropped 8 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to HIV.gov. Nevertheless, an estimated 1.1 Americans have AIDS and, more staggering, 1 in 7 are unaware. It is also more prevalent in certain regions, such as southern states (38 percent).

National American Indian Heritage Month: The ancestors of those who were here long before the Vikings or Christopher Columbus, prefer to be called Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas or First Nation. They deserve that much, should a month honoring their heritage take off. The Trail of Tears has yet to dry, but there are rays of hope. On Tuesday, Sharice Davids of Kansas and Debra Haaland of South Dakota became the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

National Diabetes Awareness Month: I may be biased, since I am one of the growing number of Americans (1.5 million per year) with this “pre-existing condition.” When I was borderline, doctor’s orders were diet and exercise. Yeah and right. What deserves more attention is the way the American Medical Association has chosen to define what is or is not diabetes. What was borderline 5-10 years ago, is considered diabetic now. While I’m also happy to report that my own numbers are, more or less, more “normal” than when I was diagnosed, I will be forever branded as a type 2 diabetic. I don’t want to be saying there is a conspiracy going on with the drug and insurance industries to keep people labeled for their own ends, but it is worth discussing around your own sugar-free dinner table. Make no mistake, awareness is gargantuan. The American Diabetes Association estimates that of the 30.4 million Americans (9.4 percent) with diabetes, another 7.2 million are undiagnosed.

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month: This one hits close to home. My daughter Sofia has a peanut butter allergy and, for whatever reason, she is far from alone in her generation. Studies reveal a 21 percent increase since 2010, with 2.5 percent of all children having a peanut allergy (accounting for more than half of food allergies in kids). This is almost like having a National Tobacco Lover’s Month, is it not?

National Red Ribbon Month (anti-drunk driving): I’m not a big fan of the word great, but great work has been done in this area the last few decades. Designated drivers, DUI checkpoints, bartenders cutting people off and calling a cab, etc. Attention seriously needs to either shifted to, and somehow be connected with, the scourge of distracted driving (estimated 3,200 fatal car wrecks a year, according to DMV.org).

Summary: While there is no overriding cause (i.e. Breast Cancer in October), take time to consider many of the above (even when a single-engine plane is waking you up from your nap). There are a lot of interconnecting parts in the area of food and nutrition. Those going hungry, or who are not properly nourished, don’t eat as well and put themselves more at risk for diabetes (the National Institutes of Health reports an increase of 1.8 in type 1 diabetes and 4.8 in type 2, which is less genetic and more the result of eating unhealthy and lack of exercise). Then again, while there are health benefits to peanut butter, let’s work to make school cafeterias peanut-free zones.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 11, 2018.

Vermeil Had Long Reach

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — When you’re born in 1965, you really can’t say you were at Woodstock hearing Jimi Hendrix play the national anthem or protesting the 1968 Democratic Convention alongside Abbie Hoffman and keep a straight face.

I am, for better or worse, a Brady Bunch-watching child of the 1970s.

As a sign of the times, my relationship with my dad – who I saw only on weekends as an interloper with his new family (the anti-Brady Bunch) — was a bit … odd.

Even though we shared the same birthday (March 23), we did not share the same wavelength.

Some of it was gender-related, as fathers and sons kept those stiff upper lips and “acted like men.” Some of it was just because, I don’t know, it was just … odd.

English was our second language. To really communicate, we had to press 1 for sports.

And if something was on my mind, or his, it was woven into a sports-related conversation.

Better than nothing, as far as conversation starters go, but there was still an issue not even a family counselor could solve.

The decade began with the Philadelphia teams we both loved so deeply were all pretty much pitiful, meaning most conversations were in the context of sub-.500 teams.

Yeah, by the middle of the decade, the Flyers were the talk of the town – and in my dad’s car when he would pick me up on Friday after school for the weekend – but he really wasn’t a hockey guy (even though it was, far and away, my best sport).

“I don’t give a damn about Rick MacLeish,” I remember him bellowing, while almost getting into an accident (a common occurrence, as he was the world’s worst driver).

The reality is that the sun rose and set with the Eagles.

For most of the 1970s, the NFL season was just 14 games (as opposed to 16 now). That was a lot of excitement for just a few Sundays of the 52 in a year.

There were some exciting moments, like when my father jumped up and banged his head on the ceiling of our den when Roman Gabriel found Don Zimmerman for a game-winning touchdown, but it was mostly as painful to watch as it was to listen to us try to talk to each like normal people (for example, that pass was the first win of a 1973 season that began 0-4).

Our relationship improved through the latter part of the 1970s and we able to connect better – not perfectly, but better – as the 70s morphed into the 1980s and beyond.

I can credit a lot of people for that, including myself for learning how to make use of defense mechanisms and to sometimes just be the bigger person.

The list of those who unknowingly helped would include Dick Vermeil, who Bridgeport’s Leonard Tose took a gamble on – pun intended – and hired in 1976 after Vermeil led UCLA to a 23-10 upset win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl (future Eagle John Sciarra was the MVP of the game, throwing two touchdown passes to another future Eagle, Wally Henry).

Vermeil’s Eagles were not better right away, going 4-10 that first season, but there was a totally different vibe.

By 1977, the Vermeil’s Birds were more competitive than their 5-9 record indicated, as they scored more total points for the season than they gave up while enduring agonizing losses to the kind of teams that used to blow them away. They made the playoffs in 1978 and won a playoff game in 1979, both firsts since the NFL championship of 1960.

And we all know – or should – about the 1980 season, when the Eagles won the NFC title (only to lose in the Super Bowl, during which I saw my father drink a beer for the first – and last — time ever).

During that stretch of glory years, we cheered more than jeered and a lot of tension was lifted. While the other Philadelphia teams matched the pace (the Phillies won it all in 1980 and the Sixers in 1983), the Eagles were the main course.

We enjoyed each other’s company, laughed and shared inside jokes.

And English – not sports – became our first language.

Being in Veterans Stadium with my father on Jan. 11, 1981 – the 20-7 dismantling of the same Dallas team we had watch annihilate us so many times (like the fist-ever game there, a 42-6 shellacking) — was one of the best father-son experiences of my lifetime.

It was 17 degrees – with a wind-chill factor of about minus-114 — that day at the Vet, but hearts were permanently warmed.

That’s the kind of ripple effect a perfectionist/workaholic football coach, who came here with no draft picks and coached who he had until he cultivated some tangible talent to coach, can have on complete strangers.

And, with all due respect to Doug Pederson, Vermeil will always be the “coach” of the Eagles in Gordonville.

A young boy – broken home or not — only has one set of formative years, and Vermeil was the coach who showed us that Sundays don’t have to be as bitter as the weather.

What brings me back here from exile to share this? Well, it just so happens Vermeil will be at Presidential Caterers Nov. 20 for the 17th Annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet (call 610-279-9220 for tickets) as the guest speaker.

As a longtime board member and chairman of the selection committee, I may have some access to Vermeil, but not as much as one would think. I certainly won’t be able to tell him all he did for me. At best, I’ll get in a handshake and a quick selfie (and I take the world’s worst selfies, so it will probably be of our shoes).

So, I’m saying what I have to say now.

Thank you, coach.

From both of us.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 4.