God bless you.
One thing I have gotten from my seven-month fight against brain cancer, prostate
cancer and end-stage congestive heart failure is a weakened and much more sensitive
It pains me deeply to see others suffer.
It hurts me horribly to see greed in the highest places destroying our nation's
economy and wreaking untold havoc and suffering on the masses robbing them at the
gas pumps and stealing from their retirement and pensions funds and setting in motion a
lethal chain of events costing people their jobs, their homes, their savings, their medical
insurance, their hope and their peace of mind.
When I was younger and healthier, I was just as sensitive. I would hurt when I saw
other get hurt. But my heart was stronger then. I could endure it then and the tears I'd
be moved to shed were more affordable to the rest of my young nervous system.
But the deadly state of affairs reflected in our nation's critically sick economy
really tears me up. Then there are also individual tragedies like the firing of people I meet
and find to be good people to work with. My latest pain came Thursday when I was at
the Bears training camp doing interviews and I learned that the Blackhawks, a team a
co-cover, fired Hall of Fame coach and favorite-son alumnus Denis Savard for a
1-2-1 start. Perhaps, it may prove to be a good decision later if he successor does
a better job quickly. But Savy still got a raw deal.
Would a 4-0 or a 3-0-1 start or a 3-1 start have saved him? Was the die cast long
before hand? Were there powers upstairs hoping he'd get off to a slow start so that they
could fire him quickly before he got a chance to really show what he could do? I simply
think that, on the basis of his overall progress and promise, and on the basics of the
loyalty he had shown to the organization and the honors he had brought it in the past,
he deserved and had earned a better chance of at least 10 or 20 games before
chopping off his head.
I called Denis and thanked him for being himself--a good coach and a
kind human being. You see, I've worked with some mighty mean people in my
36-career of covering sports for the Sun-Times. I have worked with some of the most
evil blessed people on the face of the earth. I'm talking about athletes, coaches and
general managers who have been blessed with good health, great talent and super
opportunities to enjoy tremendous fame and fortune. And yet many of these people
turned out to be the most hateful, ungrateful, disrespectful, mean and arrogant people
for no good reason whatsoever.
When I first started covering the Bulls for the Sun-Times in 1972, Dick Motta had
his security guard to kick me out of the locker room because I asked him for a response
to fans who feel his penchant for technical fouls was hurting the team. I remember at
that time when Bob Greene and Tom Fitzpatrick, two superstar Sun-Times writers, came
to my defense. Later Motta would coach elsewhere and we were able to enjoy a better
Since then, I've had other coaches to curse me, lie to me and lie about me simply
because they disagreed with what I wrote and could not intimidate and manipulate me.
But the roll call of good coaches who, in my opinion, got raw deals grows longer and
longer, sadder and sadder. Some were able to rebound elsewhere and do well. These
include the NBA likes of Jerry Sloan, Doug Collins, Phil Jackson, Lenny Wilkens, Rick
Carlisle, Mike Fratello and Byron Scott. Other good coaches like Ray Scott, Quinn
Buckner, Dick Versace, Dave Sarachan (soccer) and Willy Roy (soccer) have not been
allowed to rebound.
Now, bad firings and trades in pro sports are not all that tragic because of the
exorbitant salaries those players, coaches and GMs earn. But the real tragedy is what
had happened to America's job market as a whole. Wall Street has greedily and criminally
mismanaged much of our country's economy into massive financial ruin and the
fallout and collateral damages are catastrophic and pestilential.
Our nation's biggest financial institutions, headed supposedly by America's
finest financial minds, have behaved wantonly and destructively to the misfortune of
millions and millions of Americans. Not only has our government allowed and helped
wealthy businesses to outsource millions of previously American jobs to cheap foreign
labor. The crooked CEOs of those businesses have pockets tax breaks and stolen the
401K and other retirement and pension savings of the employees they're thrown out of
Now, we are witnessing the planet's biggest bank robbery ever in the $700
billion bailout that is designed to help the rich first and the poor possibly and probabaly
never. The agony and anguish from this magnitude of evil is too much for even an
healthy heart to bear. And, trust me, because things are being handled this way, things
are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.
It is seldom the nature of greedy people at the top to willingly and voluntarily allow
their wealth to trickle down to the middle class and to the poor at the bottom except by
force from law or labor unions. That history has repeated itself again and again, often
resulting in bloody revolutions where the suffering masses become so enraged they
retaliate with tumultuous violence.
What America needs is not the bailing out of the rich and greedy, but the return of
jobs to the poor and the needy. Give the people jobs, not handouts, and they will be able
to make the money they need to spend on food, clothes, houses, cars, other merchandise
as well as health insurance, health care and commercial services. What we have now is
a growing population of unemployed, uninsured American consumers buying foreign
products on credit while they are already deep, deep in debt.
Anybody with a heart, a real human, caring, sharing heart, has to hurt at the sight
of such blight. And as I continue to undergo the healing of my physical heart, I pray
more desperately for the healing of America's spiritual and economic heart. But the
disease is so advanced and pervasive that what America really needs is a heart
transplant of new leadership, fresh, honest leadership, whose competence is surpassed
only by it compassion.
God bless you.
not been so lucky.