Print and Go Back Rick Reilly Go Fish [Print without images]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Mailbag: Kaepernick, NFL MVP and Armstrong

By crosss

I'm grateful to all of you who wrote emails to me in reaction to my columns lately. Yes, many of them were hateful and venomous and involved me acquiring nose cancer, but a full 17 percent of you spelled every word correctly, up 3 percent from the last mailbag. (By the way, mega-tool is not spelled with a “u”.)

We begin with my Colin Kaepernick column, which was about as popular with most readers as gout.

In this one, I told the story of how Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers star quarterback, was born to a white mother from a black father and then given by that mother to be raised by a white couple, Rick and Teresa Kaepnerick.


The birth mother, Heidi Russo, of Denver, has tried to contact Kaepernick for more than four years, but he has declined all in-person and phone contact with her. This is totally his choice, of course. I just pointed out that my adopted daughter's experience meeting her birth mother has been nothing but healing for both parties. Same goes for my wife, Cynthia, who was adopted off the Blackfeet Indian reservation of upper Montana, and has now become friends with both her birth parents.

The reaction was furious. Almost 90 percent of those who wrote said it was absolutely none of my business. Said I was putting my nose where it doesn't belong. Said I was bullying the kid. I wasn't. I was just relating my life experiences with adoption.

But we start with an email from the birth mother herself:


How can I “out” a half-black player who greets his white parents after every game with a hug and kiss? It’s pretty much “out” that he’s adopted, don’t you think?



Didn’t have to write about his decision, I wanted to. I’ve written often about adoption, and because of my daughter and my wife, we hear stories constantly about reunions with birth parents and how wonderful it is for all parties. I don’t think I’ve ever heard one case when it went south. Of course this is Colin’s choice, 100 percent, and I’d never criticize him for not meeting with her. I’m just saying that so many young people wrongly think it’s a slap in the face of their real parents to even meet with birth parents. It almost never is. The Kaepernicks are wide open for their son to meet with Heidi Russo. They’ve met with her recently themselves.



Got boatloads of feedback on my admission that Lance Armstrong had been lying to me for 14 years and I'd been a fool to pass that lie along to my readers. My boiling point came when he sent me a two-word apology: "I'm sorry." I suggested it was me who was the sorriest.

Readers did not let me off the hook for being so gullible.



I would've tried like hell to prove it another way, through another avenue. I’d have begged him to go on the record with it. And in the meantime, I’d have stopped backing him in the columns, radio, TV, tweets, etc.



If you say so. By the way, how are you feeling about Harvey Updyke Jr., the Alabama fan who poisoned Auburn’s on-campus trees? Did you accept his apology?




Just for the record, I’ve never used a single off-the-record quote Armstrong gave me. Not sure whose column you read. I said he’d told me, both on and off the record, that he never did it. He was consistent all the way. He consistently lied to my face.




Keep it on. The Livestrong bracelet means more than Lance Armstrong now. Most people I know who wear one wear it for their mother, their brother, their uncle who battled cancer. That bracelet and the foundation it represents were the best -- and most honest -- things that Lance Armstrong ever did.



First Mailbag limerick I’ve ever received. Bravo


Speaking of things Irish, Notre Dame football fans were leprechaun-gleeful about the two-day crow-eating trip I took to South Bend to polish helmets after admitting I was wrong about them in a previous column.  But they're not always in the right. Consider the column I wrote about Notre Dame's famous sign: "Play Like a Champion Today."



This is half-true. To be clear, Holtz never claimed invention of the phrase. He only remembers seeing it in an old college football photo book and admiring it. The first person to use that exact phrase on a sign is unknown. But Wilkinson did use it in the late 1940s at Oklahoma. And though Wilkinson's son, Jay, says he's sure his dad didn't come up with the phrase, it certainly didn't start in an athletic tunnel at Notre Dame.



A lot of NFL fans had their boxers in a bunch over my decree that Peyton Manning should've been the MVP, not Adrian Peterson.


Sorry, I missed the news about John Elway inhabiting the body of Peyton Manning. Thought they were two different people. Is this Heaven Can Wait, Part II?




Speaking of MVPs, a lot of you agreed with me that Jacoby Jones of the Ravens should have been the MVP of the Super Bowl on the back of his two long touchdowns, one on an under-thrown ball by Flacco, the other on a back-breaking 108-yard kickoff return. I realize this flies in the face of my QB-heavy MVP philosophy, but Jones is the exception.



Well, uh, actually, a lot of readers pointed out that it wasn’t all Jones on that return



Hold the phone. That wasn’t holding up. That was kidnapping. They might as well have tied Miller up and put him in their trunk.

But it’s still not as bad as what happened at the Arizona-Pittsburgh Super Bowl in 2009. James Harrison was just about to be tackled by Larry Fitzgerald on his end-of-the-first-half interception TD return when Fitzgerald’s own knucklehead teammate, Antrel Rolle, comes off the bench and onto the field and accidentally blocks his own man from making the stop! It happens at about Arizona’s 30-yard line. Harrison ended up scoring a touchdown and the Steelers won by four points, 27-23. I know I keep bringing this up, but nobody ever mentions it!


Speaking of mistakes, many of you thought I made one when I dared to write a column about the mass murders in Newtown, Conn., decrying the nation's obsession with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, when they're not needed by most sportsman and many NRA  members. This fired up many of you to fire back (verbally, that is).



Let me get this straight. I’m going to lose a fan who defends a gun-crazed culture that continues to kill thousands of our kids every year? I’m crestfallen.





There’s no way to legislate insanity out of existence. That’s my point. Deranged people will always be among us. The problem is, when they finally burst, they have free and easy access to weapons that are designed purely to hunt humans.


Lastly, here is your Cynic of The Century --  a Mr. Tony Cote, of Ottawa.

Mr. Cote had a bone to pick with my column about Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A) shortstop Vance Albitz and his goal to send 1,000 gloves and baseballs to American troops in Afghanistan. It's Albitz's way to inject a little home into the dismal and lonely life, a life that's led to a skyrocketing suicide rate for soldiers and vets.



I totally agree. American soldiers overseas should stop squandering their fat-cat salaries ($18,194 per year for an Army private) on things like extra protective equipment and care for their wives and kids back home. They need to go to the local Dick's Sporting Goods in Kabul and buy their own. Thank you and please let me know if they ever find your heart.


Not everybody agrees with Mr. Cote, however.





By the way, Albitz was set to leave for the St. Louis Cardinals’ spring training on Feb. 17. But thanks to readers like you, he’s got more than enough money, (well more than $30,000) and gloves to reach his goal of 1,000 shipped. In fact, he’s got so many gloves, his dad’s garage overflowed and he had to move his entire operation to his old high school in Torrance, Calif. There, with the help of “20 or 30” of his friends, he was on track to make it.


(There was no truth, however, to the rumor that he was going to send the extras to the Colorado Rockies, the worst fielding team in baseball last season.)