Since the age of 44, I've morphed from a 22-year career as a business owner. Having written 46,000 original quotes and jokes, performed stand-up comedy, speaking engagements, blogging, op-ed writing, stand-up and for the last 9 years, radio talk show host.
That being said everyone has demons in their lives. Here are a few of mine.
Strike one: As a kid I was told by my parents that I was stupid. Since I had no evidence to dispute them via poor grades and teacher reports, I pretty much accepted their conclusion.
Strike two: I was asked to introduce the Pledge and National Anthem-this in front of a full auditorium. I froze. Two teachers grabbed me by each arm--practically dragging me out. I was ten.
The only self-esteem I had was low.
When you reach for the stars you have to look up
My father, Mel taught me that being bullied wasn't to be tolerated. My youth was splattered with physical altercations, many of which were instigated by a bigger foe.
It got so that I could identify bullies as an instinct. I still can.
Early in life I discovered sports.
As a kid it was baseball from eight till' dark in the summer and tackle football in my back yard all fall.
When I was a freshman at Evanston Township High School I decided to go out for football. The school was a football powerhouse and was coached by the most winningest coach in state history-a record that's stood since 1972.
My weight was 108 LBS and I was 5'1". In a queue where you couldn't see the front or the back from where I was, I was taunted by two huge prospects who told me I would be killed if I tried out.
There was no reason to dispute them
. The coach who became a legend, Murney Lazier didn't cut.
I played my freshman year on the "B" team. The most memorable time that season was when one school decided to play their "A" team to beat up on our "B" squad. It was forth down and three and I was playing right linebacker. They sent their best runner against me. I shed the blocker easily. The back decided he was going thru me. No way-Jose. Not only did I tackle him-I broke my helmet hitting him, the first of five hardhats I smashed during my tenure. I tied ETHS player Jim Purcell who went on to have a stellar career as a linebacker for the LA Rams.
More important, he came up one yard short. We beat them!
Smile in the mirror each morning-it may be the only one you get back that day
I spent my next three years trying as hard as I could to make first string. The only time I got to play in games was when it didn't mean anything. I invented the benchmark-it was tattooed on my ass from sitting so long.
I remember the beginning of my senior year looking at the depth chart and finding myself as fifth (Last) string. Then I went to practice. In wind sprints I was dead last. 300 LB fat guys were beating me.
Looking in a mirror I saw a Jewish accountant at best-not a football player. Determined to last out my senior year, I played as hard as I could.
Towards the first part of my last year the coach held challenges-one on one combat-three plays on offense, three on defense.
It was my day.
I beat everyone ahead of me, including the last guy who was about 6'3" and over 240 LBS. I was 5'4" and weighed 154 LBS.
And with all that, the coach stuck me at 3rd string.
I held my anger and dedicated my effort to beat up on the guys I had just conquered during challenges. After a week of bloody practice, the coaching staff gave in. I played the last half of my senior year as a first stringer on a team that was tied for State Champion.
Minnesota State offered me a football scholarship.
The two goons who razzed me in line as a freshman didn't last the first week of practice.
Now 68, I'll share where else this unique experience led me in a future column.
My hope is to help anyone considering quitting to hold off and finish on top.