Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Really Good First Effort

TigerBlog can tell you all about his first-ever writing piece.

In fact, he has before. It was back in 1983, in his first day in the newspaper business. His friend Jack McCaffery, a longtime Philadelphia-area sportswriter and the older brother of Iowa head men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery, got him the job. 

The interview with the high school sports editor went something like this:

Do you have a car?
You're hired.
But, um, this would be the first time ever writing for a newspaper.
That's okay.

And that's how TigerBlog got his big break.

His first game was a football game between Pennington School and the Academy of the New Church. It was played on a Friday afternoon in Bryn Athyn, Pa., and TB will freely admit that he had no idea what he was doing.

When he finished writing his story, he showed it to the copy editor on the desk, a man named Harry Chaykun. When Harry (nicknamed the Hawk) finished, TB asked him what he thought. Without ever looking up, Harry said dryly "I'm still awake." 

That was the introduction to professional writing.

And by "professional," TB means he got paid $15, plus 22 cents per mile. Ah, those were the days.

Since then, TB can't even begin to calculate how many stories he's written, how many games he's been to, how many miles he's driven getting back and forth to events and how many millions of words he's put out there.

TB has told you that story before, but he doesn't mind sharing it again. He was taken back to that football game nearly 38 years ago by the first 11 words of Stephen Carlson's story that he read the other day.

Those words from Carlson:

My first ever writing piece. Let me know what you think!

Carlson is apparently starting his own blog, in what seems to be part of a program through the Harvard Business School called Crossover to Business. The first entry is entitled: "10 Guiding Principles That Have Kept Me In The NFL."

You can read it HERE and judge it for yourself.

TigerBlog's simple answer to Carlson's request as to what he thinks of the piece is this: It's way better than his story on Pennington-Academy of the New Church.

Carlson, as you should know, is a former Princeton football player. He graduated in 2019 after being a key member of the 2018 undefeated team. 

He finished his Princeton career third all-time in program history in touchdown receptions. He's also eight in receiving yards and 10th in receptions.

That's a pretty good resume for someone who was, to quote his head coach Bob Surace, the last recruit taken in his class and a two-year member of the scout team:

Carlson went from that humble beginning to now having played two seasons in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns. He has caught an NFL touchdown pass, and this past year he helped get the Browns into the playoffs by recovering an onsides kick against the Steelers to clinch a victory on the final night of the regular season. He repeated that a week later as Cleveland once against defeated Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

So how did he go from scout player to starter to Princeton star to undrafted free agent? That's what the piece is about.

In it, he goes through a set of beliefs that he has followed to get him where he is now. You can guess what the first one is: Hard Work.

That one's obvious. So are a few others. Discipline. Respect. Preparation. Humbleness. Do What You're Supposed To Do.

Some of the others aren't quite as obvious.  

One of his subheads is Doubt. That's a fascinating motivator. 

"Doubt makes me work harder," he writes. That section starts out by saying that he's doubted himself since high school.

There are some others that are just as interesting. TB won't give it all away. He'll just say that Carlson saved the best one for last.

The story is extremely well-written. It's hard to believe it's his first effort at this.

It gives great insight into what makes him tick and how in fact he's overcome such long odds to get where he is. It also shows off a young man who appreciates so much what he's achieved and how he hasn't taken anything for granted. 

To answer his question of what do you think?

It's great. That's what TigerBlog thinks. 

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