Friday, November 6, 2015

For Just A Minute There I Was Dreaming

Your attitude is four times as important
As your actual physical ability. 
- Bill McCartney

Earlier this week, I spent one hour and forty-four minutes visiting a place where I first spent time more than a lifetime ago.  No, it was not the Queensboro Bridge, although it certainly felt as if I spent close to two hours on that span this past Sunday.  

It was Boulder, Colorado, circa 1985.  

For any and all who have no relationship with the University of Colorado, the most recent film in ESPN's "30 for 30" series will likely hold no appeal whatsoever.  There are also I suppose any number of people who in fact do have a relationship with CU for whom the film likewise will not move one's emotional needle at all.  

I am not such a person.  

"The Gospel According To Mac"  is an extraordinary work.  It is generally complimentary to former CU Head Football Coach Bill McCartney, who was the man in charge of the Buffs thirty years ago while my sister Jill and I were both shuffling off to be Buffaloes.  However, it is not a fawning, kiss-ass piece. Coach Mac was, and is, a flawed man.  Then again, are not we all?  I, for one, know that I am flawed.  At the very least, the ever-graying gent who peers back at me in the bathroom mirror in the wee small hours every morning certainly is.

Coach Mac's flaws are something that he did not run away from while he was earning his living as the head coach of the Buffs.  Likewise, they are not something from which he runs away, presently, as a seventy-something-year-old widower.  He acknowledged them then, as he acknowledges them now, in his never-ending effort to make himself the best version of himself that he can be.  To borrow a phrase from the great John Hiatt, "Mistakes are to be highlighted.  You can't have the light without the dark."  You cannot live your life without having experienced your fair share of both.  

I know not whether - were I ever in the position where Bill McCartney found himself on November 19, 1994 - I would have the wherewithal to do what it is he did.  He was fifty-four years old, at the top of his profession, and had just completed the fifth season of a fifteen-year contract extension (an extension that had included - at Mac's request - an opt-out clause following Year Five) when he walked away, never to return to any sideline.  Anywhere.   

In the midst of all of his professional success, he awakened to the realization that those things that he had prioritized had extracted a considerable toll on his wife, Lyndi, and his family.  When he resigned from CU in 1994, he did not turn his back on CU or upon coaching.  He simply turned his focus towards where he believed it should be aimed.  Where he regretted having not done a better job of having had it aimed throughout his coaching career.  Was he being unreasonably hard on himself? I know not.  Only one person fully knows the answer to that question.  I suspect that he would answer it in the negative.  

In 2013, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.  As a CU fan, and a Coach Mac fan, I was elated for him on his accomplishment.  I was saddened though by the fact that Mrs. Coach Mac died months prior to his enshrinement dinner.  

Further proof of the imperfect nature of Life I suppose, even in a place as beautiful as this...  

...where for just a minute, it was all so real.


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