Having just completed my first month as a Medicare recipient, I have an affinity for older people still doing what they love to do.
I caught up with (retired Cornell professor) Mike Richmond over the weekend, and I was so excited to hear that he plans to go for yet another Senior Softball national title. Mike and I were teammates on the Slotteo’s Shoe Repair team that won the Ithaca City Softball League Championship a few years ago, and I recall asking him if he — at age 49 — was considering hanging up the spikes. He just laughed. That was in 1989.
Now, Richmond is 81, and he plans to keep traveling to and playing in as many tournaments as possible this year. East of the Mississippi, there are six teams in the Over-80 division, with another four teams in the western part of the country. Given there are sometimes travel or other complications that cause scheduling challenges, the Over-80 teams often play against the youngsters. “We play against the 75-year-olds,” Richmond told me, “and those guys can still play.” He paused and added, “Don’t get me wrong, the Over-80 guys can still play too.”
I am hearing a lot of grumbling this week about the Super Bowl — “the officiating was bad,” “the commercials were sub-par,” “the halftime show was lame,” but it was truly incredible to see a 43-year-old quarterback do what Tom Brady did. I agree that the refs got more involved at times than they should have, but to convince me that the Chiefs were the better team on that day would be a tall order. So often, these 40-plus guys hold on for the money, or because they can still make some marginal contribution to a team, but for Brady to take out Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, then put on such a clinic on the biggest stage — picking up his seventh ring and fifth Super Bowl MVP — well, that’s the stuff of legend. I hope he wins three more.
And that Gronk… he is a comparative baby at 31 and has been roughed up over the years, but he is still a beast. Yes, he can be a goofball; yes, he works the spotlight for all it’s worth; yes, he is a party monster (much of that image is marketing); but virtually every teammate has said he works as hard as anyone in practice, he sacrifices his body to be a devastating and effective blocker and he busts his hump on every route. In other words, he is a big-time gamer, and I hope he wins three more too.
I would be lying if I said Ed Glazer and I are friends, and I’d be lying again if I said I am happy about that. Ed graduated from Ithaca College the same year I started writing this column (1992), and when I saw him and his siblings (co-owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, I wished I had been in possession of a crystal ball 30 years ago and put forth every effort to become friends with Glazer.
With a daughter living in the Tampa Bay area, I’d like to be able to invoke any “Ithaca Cred” I might have to score tickets to watch the Buccaneers, because you can be sure that the price of a ticket is going up after the Bucs beat the Chiefs so resoundingly in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
I was happy for the Glazer family (their father, Malcolm, bought the Bucs in 1995 and ran the show until his passing in 2014), and if the name sounds familiar to Ithacans, it might be because Glazer is a very generous benefactor to his alma mater and the Ed and Shari Glazer Arena in the Ithaca College Athletics and Events Center has hosted all manner of events since its opening in 2011, from track and field meets to the inauguration of the College’s President to a 2019 Bob Dylan concert.
Had the Bucs lost, I would not have felt too much sympathy for the Glazers, as they also own the Manchester United Football Club of the English Premier League, which will soon be vying for its league-record 14th title.