Monday, June 1, 2009

My Monday Musings on Sports - Washington and the Western Wall

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. As Max has resigned from 1050 and has not yet resurfaced on the NY area radio waves, I have decided to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Although not very widely followed by casual football fans, this week marked the continuation of OTA's. These are "optional" off season workouts where players come in and work on drills and meet with their coaches. While these work outs are optional in name, those who don't participate are always worried that they will not make the team or lose their starting roles if they do not join the "optional" workouts. I caught a snippet of a story today about how the Cleveland Browns and Coach Eric Mangenius encouraged players to not only participate in OTA's, but also to take a ten hour bus trip to Connecticut to attend Coach Eric's football camp as "volunteers."

In Jets land, the Jets two regular running backs - Leon Washington and Thomas Jones, both sat out of most of the OTA's because of contract issues. Jones, who is in starting the third year of a four year contract, is upset about the amount of money that he will earn this year. Washington is in the final year of his rookie contract and is looking for the Jets to sign him to a long term deal. Altough both players are under contract, they are hoping that by staying away from most of the OTA's they will pressure the team to renegotiate the deals which they happily signed a few years ago. As such, Jones did not show up for OTA's until last week and Washington only came to camp today.

In stark contrast, recent draftees and free agents usually play their hearts out at these camps in the hopes that they will impress the coaches enough that they will catch on with the team. Since Washington and Jones did not show for the beginning of the OTA's, Danny Woodhead from football powerhouse Chadron State, had most of the carries in the beginning of the OTAs. The articles about these OTAs had quotes from Woodhead where he (predictably) said that he was glad to be getting the work and hoped that he was impressing the coaches.

The issue of salaried players in the midst of a contract who hold out for more money than they were previously happy with, reminded me a story which I recently heard from Rabbi Naiman in Baltimore, MD. The story involves an eighteen year old boy who was visiting Israel and wound up at the Western Wall. While at the wall he met one of the unheralded tzadikkim of our generation - Rabbi Meir Schuster who after speaking with the boy, suggested that he talk with R' Noach Weinberg zt'l. The boy agreed.

During their conversation, R' Weinberg asked the boy whether he wanted wealth or happiness. The boy responded, "both." R' Weinberg then asked the boy to choose one and the boy answered "happiness." R Weinberg told the boy that he had a two week course available at Aish Hatorah which was free and would teach the boy about true happiness. The boy responded that he had a plane ticket the following day and could not stay. R' Weinberg told the boy to call the travel agent and rebook the flight. The boy then countered that he had to start college the following week. R' Weinberg told the boy to write to the school and tell them that something had come up and that he would be a week late. The boy then said - its my grandmother's birthday next week and she paid for this trip. R' Weinberg told him to call her and explain that he wanted to stay a little longer.

Seeing that the boy was still on the fence, R' Weinberg then said to the boy - there is a $10,000 grant available to those who finish the course and there is no exam. The boy immediately said that he would take the course. R' Weinberg responded - when I asked you whether you wanted wealth or happiness you said happiness, yet as soon as I mentioned money you changed your tune, why?

The boy then said to R' Weinberg - you tell me why. R' Naiman said that R' Weinberg explained - when I asked you about wealth vs happiness, your guf did not feel challenged, so it allowed your neshoma to answer "happiness." When there was an issue of money, the guf suddenly felt a need to get involved. This is the constant internal struggle within the person where the guf seeks to get in the way of what the soul desires.

The boy elected to stay for two weeks and then an additional two years.

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Anonymous said...

hey, i just found this blog today and i was browsing through the archives. you've got some great stuff here. keep up the good work.

BTW, where the hell is max??? i never thought it would take this long for him to get back on the air.

Neil T said...

Thanks for the postive comment. Still no Max on the radio waves. There were articles that ran in the NY papers in March speculating that he would join Mike F as a co-host on the Fan's afternoon show, but that never materialized.