Happy Birthday to Me, and to Martavis
As I write this it is 10:25 Thursday evening. By the time you read this I will be 63 years old. I’ve been celebrating early today by using up old paint on the walls of the workshop. I then was able to hang up the hand saws, which I have been wanting to do for ages. I was amazed to discover that we actually have about seven hacksaws, in addition to a full panoply of wood cutting devices, so you might not want to annoy me. I also finally got around to cutting up my husband’s old underwear for rags. The glamor never stops.
I decided to see whether any of the current Steelers share a birthday with me. Unfortunately none of them do, although there are a goodly number of December birthdays later in the month, including a few of my favorite players—Tyler Matakevich, Eli Rogers, Vince Williams, Anthony Chickillo, and Jordan Dangerfield.
Another guy who is on the roster but not the team who has a December birthday is, as you have probably guessed, Martavis Bryant. I think about Martavis from time to time. I expect we all do, at least occasionally during games, when it would sure be handy to have his services. But I think about him as a person as well as a player. I hope and pray he is finding a way to get his life together, whether he ever plays another down for the Steelers. He can find a place where he can smoke pot legally, but there is no place where you can escape from yourself, and the irresponsibility he has shown, to his family, the team, and ultimately himself, doesn’t bode well for the future.
And Martavis is just one of so many troubled players in the league. It seems every week there is another handful of suspensions, for reasons ranging from substance abuse/PED use to domestic violence or other very serious issues. It makes me wonder if it is a contributor to the declining viewership. Certainly Ivan thinks so.
And considering what we are at least beginning to know about the effects of CTE/head injuries, one has to wonder if this is at least a contributing factor to these behaviors that frequently go directly against the players’ own self-interest. I certainly believe in holding people responsible for their actions, but justice and mercy both demand that any extenuating circumstances be considered before we issue a blanket condemnation.
I am thankful for the help the Steelers at least attempted to give Martavis. Ben called him daily while he was in rehab last year. And I don’t think he was the only one trying to help Martavis as a man as well as a football player. Unfortunately it didn’t help, or not sufficiently to help him avoid the next suspension.
As I look back on my own life, I can see places where people tried to help me avoid mistakes that I was determined to make. I’ve had a very blessed life, and my mistakes were mostly not life-altering, and haven’t cost me millions of dollars. But some of us have to learn the hard way. The question is, do we learn the lesson in the end? If Martavis does, it will be worth it all for him and his family. If he doesn’t, he’ll just be another of the long list of guys who exited the league before their time, flashing great talent but ultimately not taking advantage of his God-given gifts.
Someone else who has a December birthday is Nehemie Akakpo. That sounds like a great name for an outside linebacker, but in fact Nehemie is just turning 14 and doesn’t play much football, to my knowledge, although he does play soccer. He lives in Togo, which is on the west coast of Africa. He is my sponsored child through Compassion International.
He and his family live in a small city. Some of the things they and others like them deal with are malnutrition, lack of access to clean water, malaria and other diseases, and overcrowded schools. The typical income is about $33 a month for a family. He is fortunate to be in the Compassion program, which in addition to providing some financial assistance to his family also provides through their Student Center tutoring, field trips, and other enrichment activities including sports and, I’m happy to say, choir.
So happy birthday to me and to Nehemie and to Martavis. The latter will be sitting at home on his 25th birthday [December 20th.] I hope Martavis can see how blessed he is and how many people are pulling for him. The world is teeming with people who would love to have his life. Martavis, please get better—for the sake of your mom and your little girls as well as for yourself. I love the Steelers, but your life and the lives of your family are way more important than any contributions you may or may not make to the team.
I didn’t mean to be quite so reflective tonight—basically I was planning to just say good night and suggest you put anything you think I should have written about in the comments. But I suppose birthdays are a time for reflection. At my age, the reflection is pretty much “I’m proud to be old, because if I weren’t old I’d be dead,” as my old grandpappy liked to say.
But there’s more to it than that. I’m grateful I’m able to do stuff like paint the workshop and so on, because as they say, if you’ve got your health you’ve got everything. I’m also grateful that later in life I discovered Steelers football and all of the fun and excitement and heartache that goes with it. It’s been a joy to learn about the extraordinary men that make up the team and the staff and the ownership. I’m also thankful for all of you who frequent this site and especially those of you who write comments far more eloquent than the articles that inspired them.
And if the Steelers would like to make my birthday extra special this year they could win out the season and the playoffs. But I expect they will do that if they possibly can, without taking my birthday into consideration. And finally, as Tiny Tim would say, God bless us every one.