#Fulla5 w/ Auburn great Will Herring (@wherring54)

So, who better for my first ever #Fulla5 interview (5 questions) than 8 year NFL veteran and former Auburn standout Will Herring? I couldn’t think of anyone. He’s just a super guy. Throw in the fact that, like me, he’s an Opelika boy, and he was the perfect choice.

Will H and me

He played 8 years in the NFL and I played 8 days at Opelika Junior High, so we’re basically the same guy.

Will recently went to work as a mortgage banker with Ameris Bank and is also one of the owners of The AU Club. He’s also very active in the community with organizations such as Youth For Christ. He is one busy guy.

He lives in Auburn with his wife Ashley and their three beautiful children.

At Auburn, he earned letters each year from 2003-2006 while playing safety before moving to outside linebacker his senior season. Upon his departure from The Plains, he held the school’s career record with 49 consecutive starts. He was selected in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He went on to play for the Saints and Rams, too. But his life is so much more than football.

1) How does banking compare to football? What’s more rewarding, sacking a quarterback or approving someone for their first home loan?

I can honestly say I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a mortgage banker after playing in the NFL. However, both can be very fulfilling. Making a big hit to spark the defense is pretty cool, but it’s also pretty gratifying helping someone buy the home of their dreams.  It’s easy to let what you do define who you are. While playing football was a lot of fun, I tried to keep it in perspective. Faith, family, and friends last a lifetime. I always knew my football career would end.

Will Seahawks

* http://amerisbankmortgage.com/banker/WillHerring

2) The family keeps growing. Now you have little Isaiah. To you, how are baby boys different from baby girls? How has the faith that you and Ashley share impacted your decision to adopt?

I always heard boys were way more of a handful than girls. Well, besides Isaiah being twice the size of his sisters at 11 months, he’s pretty laid back. He will hit you with a mean head butt though if you’re not careful. Years ago, The Lord put it on Ashley’s heart to adopt. He has blessed up beyond our dreams with 3 beautiful children, two of which are through adoption.

Will Herring family

3) Is Auburn the uncrowned 2004 National Champions? What’s your fondest memory from your times on “The Plains” and why? (USC was stripped of their BCS title due to infractions involving Reggie Bush.)

I think we’re ok with just being 2004 SEC Champs. Sure, we all wish we’d have gotten a shot, but it is what it is. 13-0. No regrets. I think my favorite memory was beating Tennessee up in Knoxville pretty handedly. That was the game where we realized that this was a special team.

*By the way, if you haven’t heard Will’s 2013 pre-game Iron Bowl speech, watch this. It’ll give you chill bumps. @WarBlogle added it to the highlights following the game, which was one of the most exciting finishes in the history of college football. #KickSix

4) What are your fondest memories from growing up in Opelika?

Going to eat breakfast at Tyler’s with my dad and brother after freezing all morning in a deer stand.

*I love that he keeps it so simple. Family. That’s what it’s all about.

5) So what’s new at the AU Club?

The AU Club has got a lot of great things going on. We’ve hired Robert Hines as our new chef for Clubhouse Restaurant and he’s been incredible! The restaurant is open to the public. We’re slowing chipping away at a few minor renovations in the restaurant to enhance the dining experience.

  • The list of improvements include:
  • wine lockers for members
  • replacing carpet with hardwood flooring
  • addition of historic Auburn artwork throughout
  • replacing current countertop with concrete counter top

Now that the weather has warmed up, golf is in full swing and summer is just around the corner!

*AUGolfClub.com

Be sure to follow Will (wherring54) and AU Golf Club on Twitter.

Thanks for your time, Will. War Eagle, Go Dawgs, and God Bless!

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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What is a hero?

Is a hero “faster than a speeding bullet?” Is a hero “more powerful than a locomotive?” Is a hero “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?” The answer is yes when discussing fictitious heroes; however, we are not. I want to talk about real life heroes.

What is a hero?

According to Merriam-Webster, a hero is defined as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.

When I think of heroes, I immediately think of firemen. I will always have the images of the firemen on 9/11 etched into my memory. I see them running toward the burning buildings as thousands of others fled the opposite way.

9-11-firefighter-jpg

When I think of heroes, I think of police officers, who are only a traffic stop away from not going home to their families each night.

When I think of heroes, I think of Soldiers. While I don’t think of every Soldier as a hero, we certainly have our fair share.

Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Bennie Adkins of Opelika is a hero and is very close to receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Bennie Adkins of Opelika is a hero and is very close to receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

Please read CSM Adkins’ story here.

I think of those who served during WWII to save our way of life. I think of those who served so admirably in the largely unforgotten Korean War. I think of those who served in the unpopular Vietnam War with little or no support back home. And today, I think of those men and women who voluntarily serve so others don’t have to serve involuntarily.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve

Reeve played Superman in four movies, so he knows a thing or two about being a hero. He did, however, star in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, so it’s his judgment that I question.

1987-SupermanIVTheQuestForPeace-keyart

The severe weather this past week brought out its share of heroes.

In Tuscaloosa, 21 year old student-athlete John Servati died a hero. While seeking shelter in a basement with his girlfriend, a wall began to collapse. He was able to hold up the wall just long enough for his girlfriend to escape. Seconds later, he was crushed beneath the crumbled wall.

A friend and Alabama teammate of Servati tweeted that his mother wished only for two things: That her son would swim at the University of Alabama and that someday he would die a hero. John Servati fulfilled his mom’s wishes.

Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama via Facebook

Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama via Facebook

In Mississippi, Ruth Bennett died clutching the last child left at her daycare center as a tornado wiped the building off its foundation. A firefighter who came upon the body gently pulled the four year old from her arms.

Bennett was among at least 35 people killed in a two-day outbreak of tornadoes and other violent weather that destroyed homes from the Midwest to the Deep South. The child, whose name was not released, was alive when she was pulled from Bennett’s arms and was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not known. UPDATE: She is improving! Read the story here.

Ruth Bennett had a passion for caring for kids. In the end, she gave her life so that 4 year old 4 year old Ashtyn Rose Mitchell could live.

Ruth Bennett had a passion for caring for kids. In the end, she gave her life so that 4 year old 4 year old Ashtyn Rose Mitchell could live.

Daniel Wassom, husband and father of two, was huddled in a hallway of his Arkansas home during the storm with his wife, daughters, and a neighbor. At the height of the tornado, a large piece of lumber crashed toward the family. Wassom, who served in the Air Force, shielded five year old Lorelei, taking the brunt of the fatal blow to his neck. Lorelei suffered a shoulder injury and was hospitalized.

Wassom, a father of two daughters — Lorelei, 5, and Sydney, 7 — died Sunday sheltering his family from the tornado. Photo courtesy of the Wassom family.

Wassom, a father of two daughters — Lorelei, 5, and Sydney, 7 — died Sunday sheltering his family from the tornado. Photo courtesy of the Wassom family.

Our parents should be a hero to each of us, respectively.

My dad was a hero to me. In fact, he might as well have been Superman, without the speed, the power, or leaping ability. My dad was a juvenile diabetic who lost his eyesight in his twenties. In spite of his inability to see, he still went to work every day, setting a great example for my brother and me. Our hero died at 35 but lives in our hearts forever.

For many of us, athletes are our heroes. Bo Jackson was and is a hero to me. Not only was he one of the greatest athletes the world had ever seen, but, like me, he stuttered. As a child, I knew very few people who were afflicted with stuttering. Bo could’ve simply let his athleticism do the talking, pardon the pun, but he had a voice, and he used it.

Bo knows.

Bo knows.

Today’s definition of a hero is perhaps subjective, but, whether we know it or not, rest assured, there are many heroes among us. More than likely, there is a hero in you.

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Riding in a windowless Humvee on a cold, wet, and snowy morning in Iraq in Feb 2004.

Riding in a windowless Humvee on a cold, wet, and snowy morning in Iraq in Feb 2004.

The Car Line

When I was a kid, I rode the bus. At six years old, I stood at the bus stop every morning with my eight year old brother and the rest of the young hoodlums in West Side Subdivision. I stood there each morning enduring the elements. We were poor, so when it was cold, I wore tube socks on my hands. When it rained, I poked my head and arms out of a trash bag. That’s what I did when I was a kid.

My cheese wagon homies...Brent, Billy, and Adam....Notice the awesome Neil's Sports Shop painter's cap.

My cheese wagon homies…Brent, Billy, and Adam….Notice the awesome Neil’s Sports Shop painter’s cap.

I rode the bus every single day until my brother turned 16. It was at that time that he became the proud new owner of a 1971 Toyota Corolla. We had to go all the way to South Carolina to get this fine piece of transportation. Although it looked like a washing machine, it was nicknamed “the turtle” by my three cousins who’d had the pleasure of driving this marvel before my brother.

Every kid in this picture drove "the turtle" except for me.

Every kid in this picture drove “the turtle” except for me.

The past few weeks, I’ve spent most afternoons with Lucy in the car line at Dean Road Elementary School in Auburn picking up her seven year old daughter, Emily, and their six year old neighbor, Sara Beth.

Sometimes, I let Emily drive...

Sometimes, I let Emily drive…

The operation itself is a sight to behold. It’s on par with a full scale military operation. It’s quite impressive to say the least. There are walkie-talkies and everything. The long line of cars is reminiscent of opening night at the Lee County Fair, circa 1979.

Emily and Sara Beth wait on the front porch of the school along with the other riders, while other Oompa-Loompas are marched off to who knows where. I really don’t know where they go, but they follow a teacher and walk past my car every day in an organized manner.

There’s the lady on point who seemingly runs the operation. She calls in the number that’s displayed on each car that corresponds with the respective student or students. She also waves aggressively at people without ever making eye contact.

At some point, the coach makes an appearance, and everyone looks at him as if he’s so dreamy. I know he’s the coach, because he wears a visor. Somewhere along the way, the visor took the place of the whistle, the long-time coach identifier.

Once you make it past the point lady and the coach, you see the kids on the porch along with a handful of teachers and aids who are opening doors and shoving kids into vehicles like Laverne and Shirley on the assembly line at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wis.

From there, we are on our own. It’s imperative to strap the kids in, but we’d better be rolling as we do it. If not, the teachers and aids start flapping their wings in a violent manner. Some of them are going to require rotator cuff surgery at the conclusion of their car line career.

It’s a daily adventure. I’m amazed at the sheer number of cars. When I was a kid, there were only a handful of kids who rode to school with their parents. For the longest, I thought it was ridiculous that today’s kids were coddled so.

Some kids do ride the bus, and I see them waiting in the comfort of their parent’s vehicle awaiting their bus’s arrival. I guess that’s ok. Perhaps the child doesn’t have access to tube socks and trash bags.

Now that I have a vested interest, I no longer see the carline as being ridiculous. We want to do what’s best for those we love. A lot of bad things can happen to a child who waits at a bus stop, not to mention there are some very bad kids riding the bus. The bus driver can only do so much. Thankfully, there are cameras installed on most buses, which certainly cuts down on some of the nastiness that can occur. Sadly, it does not completely eradicate the dangers of riding with bad kids.

It’s funny how our views change as we experience newness in our lives, and that’s a good thing.

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Just in case you were wondering, “the turtle” died before I ever had the chance to drive it. I didn’t have the luxury of owning a car when I turned 16. Nope. I got an alarm clock so I could wake up early every morning to drive my mother to work so I could use the car to drive to school…because there was no way I was riding the bus.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The #IronBowl is Upon Us (#Auburn #Alabama)

*Note: This is from last year but much of it rings true this year, too, except instead of Alabama being #2 and Auburn being 3-8 on the season, we’re looking at #1 vs #4. War Eagle!

I was just six months old when the underdog Auburn Tigers defeated the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the famous “Punt Bama Punt” game of 1972, yet I remember it as if was yesterday. Ok, perhaps that is a little far-fetched but I do remember most of the games between the Tigers and the Tide known simply as the “Iron Bowl.”

I’m an Auburn man, albeit by way of Auburn University at Montgomery; however, my money went to and my grades came from Samford Hall on the main campus. So, like I said, I’m an Auburn man.

Trying to take a little Auburn home with me from the Auburn Arena.

Trying to take a little Auburn home with me from the Auburn Arena.

The fact that I’m an Auburn man and fan defies all logic. My mom, dad, and brother were all Alabama fans. After the “Punt Bama Punt” game, the Tide went on to whip the Tigers for the next nine consecutive years, winning a few national championships along the way. The streak was snapped in 1982 when a young man named “Bo” went over the top to solidify a 23-22 win for Auburn.

"Bo Over the Top" from the '82 Iron Bowl (photo courtesy of yarbroughandassociates.com)

“Bo Over the Top” from the ’82 Iron Bowl (photo courtesy of yarbroughandassociates.com)

My loyalty and love for Auburn can only be explained as an act of God. I am always thankful for God’s grace.

Thanks to the nine game winning streak, Alabama leads the series 41-34-1. Since 1981, Bear Bryant’s penultimate season in coaching and Pat Dye’s inaugural season as head coach on the Plains, Auburn has a 17-14 lead in the series. Auburn’s six game winning streak from 2002-2007 certainly padded that record. In other words, the series is like a couple of Siamese Twins in a nudist colony; it is close and can be streaky.

To say that some people take the rivalry seriously is the understatement of a lifetime. Many years ago, while working at Kroger, I jokingly told a customer that I could not take his check. After a quick back and forth, I told him it was due to the check’s Crimson Tide logo. I can’t say in this column what he said to me but it was enough to make a sailor cringe and a Kroger cashier’s stutter increase dramatically. I sometimes wonder if the name on that check was Harvey Updyke.

During my three deployments to Iraq, Auburn went undefeated on two different occasions. More importantly, they were 3-0 versus their in state rivals. I’ve actually had friends and family inquire about the possibility of me deploying for a short period of time each year around Thanksgiving. Sure, they claim they are just kidding but there is a grain of truth to just about everything; in this case, perhaps a few grains.

Rolling Iraq with my pal Richard after Auburn's 28-27 win in 2010.

Rolling Iraq with my pal Richard after Auburn’s 28-27 win in 2010.

Much like 1972, no one is giving Auburn a chance against the #2 ranked Tide in the 2012 “Iron Bowl.” Will Auburn win the game? Well, I’m no betting man, but I can certainly hope for the best. One has to look no further than Buster Douglas, King David, or the Karate Kid for examples of those who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to do the impossible.

To a certain extent, we’re all underdogs but we all have the innate ability to reach down deep to overcome just about any challenge thrown our way. On November 24, Auburn will have to reach down deeper than the Grand Canyon to have a shot at Bama but crazier things have happened, and that, as they say, is why they play the game.

(In case you missed it, Alabama won 49-0. Yikes!)

I love football as much as the next guy but when the final whistle blows, I hope we all remember that it’s just a game. Be that as it may, someone please let me know what happens. I’m trying to board the next flight to Afghanistan.

I’m ALL IN.

War Eagle!

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, writer, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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I am thankful

Ten years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in a flooded tent in Kuwait. This year, I am thankful I am not spending Thanksgiving in a flooded tent in Kuwait.

I have so much to be thankful for this year and every year.

I am writing this from Hotel Capstone on the campus of the University of Alabama. I am thankful I am only here overnight, because I felt safer in Iraq.

I am thankful for Alabama fans. They make me feel better about myself.

I am thankful for my mother and brother, even though they’re Alabama fans.

I am thankful I know the difference in they’re, there, and their.

I am thankful for lucky 73 yard touchdown passes on 4th and 18.

Auburn’s Ricardo Louis (5) made a stunning 73-yard TD catch to beat Georgia. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

Auburn’s Ricardo Louis (5) made a stunning 73-yard TD catch to beat Georgia. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

I am thankful Auburn didn’t lose to a team from Mississippi this year.

I am thankful I know the difference in lose and loose.

I am thankful for this double chin, because it means I’ve been eating well.

I am thankful for a dog that wakes me each day at the crack of dawn with a bony elbow in my chest.

My sweet Ruby loves to lay on my chest...

My sweet Ruby loves to lay on my chest…

I am thankful for Google. Try it. You’ll be amazed and what you can learn and what you won’t have to ask others.

I am thankful for toothpaste, mouthwash, and Tic Tacs. If you are unfamiliar with any of these products, please Google.

I am thankful for Q-tips. Very few things in this world are as unappealing as a dirty ear canal. Friends don’t let friends walk around with dirty ear canals.

I am thankful for my nose hair trimmer. Now that texting is illegal, it gives me something to do while driving.

I am thankful for baths that allow me to soak away my worries even if only temporarily.

I am thankful for a dog that jumps in the bathtub while the water is still running to ensure the water is at a safe temperature for me to soak away my aforementioned worries.

Video of Ruby testing my bathwater…

I am thankful for your kids.

I am thankful I know the difference in your and you’re.

I am thankful for a dryer that can be restarted over and over so I don’t have to iron.

I am thankful I don’t keep up with the Kardashians.

I am thankful for my uniqueness.

I am thankful for fresh white bread and cold milk, because without either, I’d have no use for peanut butter or jelly.

I am thankful to have a vehicle that does not require Duct Tape. Been there. Done that.

I am thankful for a dog that immediately cleans my floor of any and all stumbling hazards, otherwise known as food.

I am very thankful for high definition television. I can no longer lower myself to watch standard definition, although it was just fine the first 39 years of my life.

I am thankful that I haven’t bitten my fingernails in over 20 years. It makes scratching so much more pleasurable than before.

I am thankful I know the difference in than and then.

I am thankful for a dog that brings in worms, spiders, centipedes, leaves, shrubbery and clumps of dirt so that I am able to get maximum use out of my “high dolla” vacuum cleaner.

I am thankful for XM radio so I don’t have to listen to local car dealership commercials. I don’t care if they are “selling cars like candy bars or trucks like Reese’s Cups.”

I am thankful for soft toilet paper. Being an Army guy, I’ve used enough John Wayne toilet paper to last a lifetime.

I am thankful for a dog that turns down the covers each night before I crawl into bed before settling down right on top of my pillow.

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I am thankful to our Veterans who have served this nation so honorably.

I am thankful for unanswered prayers. Otherwise, I might be in my 12th year of selling furniture in Montgomery.

I am thankful I get to do what I love for a living.

I am thankful I have the opportunity to write for a great local newspaper.

I have so much to be thankful for, but most importantly, I am incredibly thankful for my faith, family, and friends and, last but certainly not least, I am thankful for my dog.

If she only knew she was a dog…

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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“That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”

I’m going to get in trouble for this one but to quote a famous animated sailor, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”

Last Friday night in the Lone Star State, the Aledo Bearcats squeaked past the Western Hills Cougars by a score of 91-0. You read that correctly, ninety-one to nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

91-0

Are you kidding me?

The coach ought to be ashamed of himself for running up the score on the helpless Cougars, right? Well, to quote a college football icon, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Did you know Lee Corso was roommates at Florida State with football player, actor, and bandit Burt Reynolds?

Did you know Lee Corso was roommates at Florida State with football player, actor, and bandit Burt Reynolds?

It’s easy to look at the score and assume that the Bearcats displayed poor sportsmanship, but we all know what assuming does.

Apparently Aledo’s Head Coach, Tim Buchanan, called off the dogs early. He began substituting players in the first quarter, let the clock run continuously, and instructed his players to call fair catches after back to back punt returns. By the end of the game, every player on the roster had seen playing time.

They only threw the ball 10 times the entire game and nine different running backs carried the ball an average of 2.6 times apiece.

Should the coaches have told the players not to run hard? Absolutely not! That’s when injuries happen. Should the coaches have told the players to take a knee? Heck no! The Bearcats ran the ball, and the Cougars couldn’t tackle them. It’s as simple as that. Should the coaches have told the defense to let the opposing team score? No way! That’s insane. Should they have turned the ball over purposely? No coach would ever do that, right?

Coach Buchanan did everything he could think of not to score.

One of the parents of the defeated Cougars filed an official complaint of bullying against the entire Bearcat coaching staff.

Are you kidding me?

Western Hills Coach John Naylor said he disagrees with the allegations that his team was bullied.

“I think the game was handled fine,” Western Hills coach John Naylor said. “They’re No. 1 for a reason, and I know Coach Buchanan. We’re fighting a real uphill battle right now.

“We just ran into a buzz saw, you know,” Naylor said. “Aledo just plays hard. And they’re good sports, and they don’t talk at all. They get after it, and that’s the way football is supposed to be played in Texas.”

The parent set a poor example for his child, even if his heart was in the right place. Some people react emotionally, whereas logical thinking folks react, well, logically.

If he doesn’t want him to lose or to experience the agony of defeat, he needs to withdraw his child from the team, from school, and from life. Perhaps he could live in his parents’ basement for the rest of his life. He’ll be safe there.

This guy is likely so sensitive he goes around crying wolf or cougar or bearcat, oh my!

In life there are winners and losers. It’s as simple as that. Most winners have lost in various aspects of life but learned from their failures and became successful down the road.

Last year, Auburn was 3-9 and suffered a humiliating loss to Texas A & M who put 63 points on the board against the defenseless Tigers. Last Saturday, Auburn avenged that embarrassing loss and defeated the seventh ranked Aggies, on the Aggies’ home field no less and now stand at 6-1 on the season.

The thrill of victory after avenging the previous  year's shellacking!

The thrill of victory after avenging the previous year’s shellacking!

In a California youth football league, there is a mercy rule. If a team wins a game by more than 35 points, the coach faces a $200 fine and possible suspension.

What?

One of the coaches says that he agrees with the league’s enforcement of the penalties and has in the past instructed one of his players to purposely turn over the ball.

Read about California’s “Mercy Rule” here

Are you kidding me?

Ending the game prematurely when the game is out of reach is one thing but purposely not playing hard and giving the ball away is asinine and benefits no one.

We want our children to be resilient; however, we protect them from experiencing situations that build resilience. Negotiating adversity is a part of life and builds character and resilience. In other words, to an extent, it is a good thing.

I think we are setting our children up for failure.

In youth sports leagues across the country, every kid gets a trophy. It doesn’t matter if they lose 91-0; they still get one.

That’s not reality. In reality, it’s ridiculous and detrimental to their reality.

Come back next week for part two as my rant continues and delves into how the anti-bullying campaign, like many other well-intentioned programs, has gotten completely out of hand.

Update: A Texas youth football league is making a change. Organizers say they will no longer handout trophies to every child who plays. Click here to read more.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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“Don’t ever give up”

Sunday, I was at one of my favorite lunch spots and had a brief conversation with one of the restaurant’s employees.

“What’s going on, brother?” I asked.

“Working! Working…working…working. Seven days a week. That’s all I ever do is work. I never get ahead,” he replied, while bussing a table and shaking his head in doing so.

“But you’re making it; you’re not giving up,” I said. “Don’t ever give up.”

One of my most popular stories about my stuttering is that of being the starting quarterback of my junior high school football team, but, in reality, I was not the starting quarterback. In fact, I was not a quarterback at all. Furthermore, my football career lasted all of eight days. To be honest, I saw the writing on the wall when I was beaten in wind sprints by a guy named “Beefy.” I called it a career shortly thereafter.

I gave up. I quit.

Speaking of football, last Saturday, as I was preparing for a speaking gig at Saugahatchee Country Club, I sent a text message to a friend asking for an update on the Auburn – LSU game.

Just before I started my set, he replied, “21-0 in the second quarter.”

Because they were playing in Death Valley, I didn’t have to ask who was winning. I just shook my head and hoped they wouldn’t give up, and, much to my delight, they didn’t. Auburn didn’t win the game but they fought valiantly until the end. By all accounts, they outplayed LSU in the second half but the 21 points were simply too much to overcome.

The Auburn family was very proud of our coaches and players, and rightfully so, because they never gave up.

I tried swiping this from the Auburn Arena but it proved to be too big. I finally gave up.

I tried swiping this from the Auburn Arena but it was too big. I finally gave up.

In 2006, the New Orleans Saints signed non-stuttering quarterback Drew Brees to a contract. Due to a contract dispute and shoulder injury, Brees was not resigned by his former team, the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers instead went with Philip Rivers who was selected in the first round of the previous year’s NFL draft.

Brees almost landed in Miami but the Dolphins, fearing his shoulder had not yet healed, opted for Daunte Culpepper instead. Brees eventually found a home in New Orleans and did the unthinkable; he won a Super Bowl with the Saints.

Culpepper’s career fizzled and Rivers’ career has been one of disappointment, whereas Drew Brees has gone on to be a surefire, first ballot hall of famer.

He never gave up.

drew brees

In 1995, professional wrestler, Stunning Steve Austin, was fired from his job at World Championship Wrestling while injured. To, add insult to injury, literally, he was fired over the phone. After a couple of more speed bumps in his career, he developed his signature character.

Today, Stone Cold Steve Austin is arguably the most popular superstar in the history of the World Wrestling Federation and continues to be a prominent figure in the entertainment industry.

Why? He didn’t quit.

steve-austin

My Aunt Carol, Uncle Glenn’s wife, was a sweet lady and cooked a mean pot of chili. Sadly, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1991, followed by breast cancer in 1997. Carol eventually succumbed to the disease in 2011, but she fought courageously for 20 years.

She never gave up.

On June 21, 2012, four year old Emma Grace Mitchell of Oxford was diagnosed with a Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET), which is a rare tumor that usually occurs in children and young adults. The next day, she underwent surgery to remove it. However, the tumor quickly returned, and, over the next several months, Emma underwent chemo, radiation and a stem cell transplant at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

In August of this year, after just a couple of months at home, Emma underwent a second brain surgery for a third tumor and is currently going through chemo. According to her mom and her almost 10,000 followers on her Team Emma Facebook page, the fabulous Emma is always positive and is always spreading happiness with her infectious smile.

Emma is an inspiration to all and is not giving up.

Emma Mitchell

 

We sent Emma a shirt a few months back. She continues to be an inspiration.

We sent Emma a shirt a few months back. She continues to be an inspiration.

I could ramble on and on about the trials and tribulations I’ve experienced throughout my life but will spare you the drama for now. I will say, however, that there have been some very dark days along the journey but not finishing that season with my junior high school football team is the only time I ever quit anything worthwhile.

I can’t change that, which is okay with me, because a valuable lesson was learned from that experience nearly three decades ago, and, today, I can unequivocally say that I am not a quitter.

I never give up.

There is, however, one thing I can change. I want a rematch with “Beefy.” I think I can take him.

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,” said an emotional and cancer stricken Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY Awards on ESPN.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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