Thursday, April 25, 2013

Live From the War Room

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.

With all due respect to our once-fictional Commander-in-Chief, President Merkin Muffley, tonight there shall be action aplenty in "war rooms" all over the NFL.  Tonight kicks off one of the few major sports-related events (not including NBA basketball, which I would have to start giving a rat's ass about in order to have my interest level rise to that of mere apathy) in which I have little to no interest.  Tonight is Round One of the NFL Draft.  Do not misunderstand.  I love college football and I root quite enthusiastically for the Boys of Mara Tech in the league where they play for pay (OK the "other" league - not the SEC).  Nevertheless I find the Draft to be utterly inane.  Perhaps not the process itself.  I understand its role in assisting teams in filling out rosters for the season to come.  But in its status as a made-for-TV event, it has always been - and likely shall forever be - cringe worthy.  

Among the college athletes whose name shall not be called tonight is Cameron Lyle of the University of New Hampshire.  Countless reasons exist to explain his absence from the proceedings in the city so nice that they named it twice.  Foremost among them is that Cameron Lyle, while he is a senior and a student-athlete at the University of New Hampshire, is not a member of "Live Free or Die!" U's football team.  He is a track and field athlete. 

Lyle throws the discus, throws the hammer and puts the shot on New Hampshire's track team.  He has done so well enough during his collegiate career that last season he placed second in the America East Conference  Indoor Championships in the shot put and followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the Conference's Outdoor Championships.  

Two years ago, Lyle volunteered to become part of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program.  His mouth was swabbed and his bone marrow became part of the national database.  At the time he joined up, it was explained to him that the odds of his bone marrow ever being a 100% chance for someone unrelated to him were very, very long.  Something akin to putting a shot on the head of a pin?  More like trying to accomplish that gale-force winds.....while blindfolded.  How about five million to one.  

A few months ago, Lyle was contacted by the Donor Program.  He was told that the Program had been able to match his bone marrow with a twenty-eight-year-old man who is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Yesterday - less than one month away from the start of the 2013 America East Conference Outdoor Championships and with only a couple of events left in which to do something he has loved to do for a long, long time - Lyle donated his bone marrow.  

Lyle gave up something he loves to help someone he does not know and someone whose identity will be kept a secret from him for at least a year.  Yet, when asked about whether his decision was a difficult one, Lyle said that it was not.  The man who received his bone marrow had been told apparently - prior to receiving Lyle's marrow - that he had roughly six months to live.  With the infusion of Lyle's marrow, his life expectancy may have quadrupled.   

Tonight, no one shall call out the name "Cameron Lyle" on the public address system at Radio City Music Hall.  No one shall hold up a jersey with 1 on it and jam a baseball hat bearing the insignia of the team that has just drafted him upon his head.  Mel Kiper, Jr. - self-appointed expert on all things related to the NFL Draft - shall neither curse Cameron Lyle nor praise him (although if push came to shove, I doubt that lacquer-headed ass hat would cop to not knowing this young man).  

Often the word "hero" seems to be bandied about in matter-of-fact fashion.  We elevate to the level of hero those who are not in fact so.  And then there is the case of Cameron Lyle, at age twenty-one possessed with a sense of self and a sense of purpose far beyond his relatively limited years, to whom no other word shall do justice.  

So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near to God is Man,
When Duty whispers low, "Thou must",
the Youth replies, "I can".

Emerson wrote it.  Cameron Lyle embodies it....

....and we are all so much the better for it.  


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