Behind the Mic: Age is Just a Number

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

When you get to be my age (and, trust me, it takes a while), and you are still doing what you love to do, it doesn’t hurt to find some inspiration from time to time. You know, some examples of those who could have packed it in and moved on, but decided to continue to give it a try.  Three of those stories played out this weekend.

I will start with Adrian Peterson, a running back for the Washington Redskins. At Oklahoma, in three seasons, he ran for 4,245 yards, 73 yards short of the career rushing record.  He did not play his senior year, opting to turn pro.  That was twelve years ago.  Adrian Peterson is 33 years old.

He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He stayed with the Vikings through the 2016 season.  In that time, he set or tied five NFL rushing records, and five Vikings’ records.

In the 2016 season, he needed knee surgery and he was released by the Vikings in 2017. The New Orleans Saints took a chance on him and signed him in 2017.  He played only four games and was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.  He injured his neck and did not finish out the season.   Great career, but it was time to retire, right?

Nope. The Washington Redskins took a chance and signed him this year.  This past weekend against the Packers, he rushed for 120 yards and scored two touchdowns.  He now has 102 touchdowns and it was his 52nd 100-yard game.  Thirty-three is old for an NFL running back, but, in this case, it’s just a number.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has played quarterback in the NFL for seven different teams. After graduating from Harvard, he was drafted by the Rams.  He has played for the Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, and now the Tampa Bay Bucs.  For most of these teams, he was the backup given starting opportunities from time to time.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is 35 years old.

This season began with the Bucs’ starting QB, Jameis Winston, suspended for the first three games. Fitzpatrick got the start.  In week one, he threw for 417 yards and four TD’s.  His team upset the Saints 48-40.  He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.  In week two, he led the Bucs to an upset win over the Super Bowl champion Eagles 27-21.  He was again named the Player of the Week.

This Monday the Bucs lost to the Steelers, but Fitzpatrick led a second-half comeback. They lost 30-27.  Perhaps the game time was too late for this “old” QB.  Some would say he should be in bed!

And then there is Tiger. Tiger Woods is 42 years old.  He has won 14 major championships, 18 World Golf Championships, and has a total of 80 career wins, trailing only Sam Snead by two. Due to the wear and tear on his body AND his age, he went through four back surgeries and had not won a tournament in five years. Since his departure from the game, golf has become a young man’s sport with the real stars being in their early 20’s.  He was, more or less, written off as a future winner.

But this weekend, Tiger won again. At 42, he won the Tour Championship.  The five- year drought ended and golf had a resurgence of viewers.  The broadcast on Sunday drew three times the audience the same championship had last year.  And it was an NFL Sunday.  Since Tiger’s return, the size of the viewing audience has soared.  He was in contention for the PGA championship in August and the telecast drew the highest ratings in nine years.

And I just bet the audience was made up of all ages – young people who want to get to see Tiger’s greatness for themselves and the older viewers who can tell themselves, no matter what their age, that it is just a number! There is always more to accomplish.


  1. When the Bills beat the Vikings 27-6 this past Sunday, it was the largest NFL upset in the past 23 seasons. The Vikings were favored by 17 points. According to reports out of Las Vegas, one gambler bet $18,000 on the Vikings with a payout of just $1,000 if he won. He didn’t. Another person bet $9,000 on the Vikings to win $450. He didn’t either. And after the Lions beat the Patriots, the bookies had a good day.
  2. Carson Wentz did not have a great day for the Eagles on Sunday, but they won, he scrambled like old times, took some hits, dove for a first down, and came away healthy. That checked off a number of boxes!
  3. I’m sure Eagles’ fans who have been around for awhile remember Tommy McDonald, the small, but fast, sure-handed receiver from the 1960’s. He was part of the 1960 NFL championship team led by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. McDonald passed away this past week.
  4. It’s officially over for the Phillies this year in terms of post-season play. The way this season is coming to a close puts a real damper on any enthusiasm the start of the year might have had on next year’s success. Here’s hoping…
  5. With the Celtic Classic part of the weekend schedule, RCN-TV will present one high school this Friday night, but it is a good one – Palisades at Notre Dame live at 7:00pm. Chris Michael and John Leone will have the game. Saturday, Mike Joseph, John Leone and I will bring the LafayetteCentral Connecticut State game to you at 6:00pm. You’re invited join us.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 8-8) (Overall: 26-20-2  57% )

The SportsTalk Shop: Previewing the “Classic”

I have many fond memories of the Celtic Classic and really enjoy when this time of year comes around. I am not a direct descendent of any Irish or Gaelic ancestry as far as I’m aware, nor have ever held any desires of wearing a kilt. But the entire festival is a really enjoyable experience and there’s always great entertainment venues and plenty of displays to check out throughout the entire weekend.

My first trip to the Celtic Classic was a bit of an adventure. I was to interview people at different sections of the grounds for a feature on a show called, “Time Out! Lehigh Valley.” While going from different stands asking people about their areas of expertise, I came across the late, great RCN personality Craig Borst, who was supposed to be handling the “play-by-play” of the highland games competition. Craig was one of the nicest and most gregarious people you would ever meet and, although he rarely wasn’t in the best of moods, I could see by his facial expressions that there was a problem. Our exchange went something like this:

Craig: “Hey, Chris. Can you do me a really big favor?”
Me: “Sure…what do you need?”
Craig: “Well, the guy who was supposed to announce the highlands events with me didn’t show up, and I really don’t know anything about these events since I was depending on him. I know it’s short notice but do you think you can be my expert for today and do the broadcast with me?”
Me: “Uh, yeah. I think I can do that. How long do I have to prepare?”
Craig: (grabbing me by the arm): “About 30 seconds.”

Needless to say things worked out fine (I didn’t even have time to even think about being nervous). In fact, even one of the most intelligent and insightful RCN viewers we have in Eastern Pennsylvania gave me kudos for the broadcast. The compliment came from RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach’s wife, Luba (did I mention she’s very intelligent and incredibly insightful?)

Fortunately, in the many years since that first broadcast, we have added a REAL expert, highland games legend Gene Flynn, to our broadcasts. Gene gives wonderful insights on the history and legacy of the games, background on all the competitors and great stories about training and participating in these extraordinary events. Just to hear Gene describe what it’s like to participate and to see just how difficult the competition is, is reason enough to tune in and see what these athletes put themselves through for the competition.

This year, we’ll be broadcasting the latter five events and the awards ceremony this Sunday on RCN-TV. The games itself are a ton of fun to watch—especially if you have never seen the events before. The competitors are incredibly focused when the events are going on, but also love to have a good time and put on a great show for the audience. This year’s rundown of athletes include:
Daniel McKim
Michael Zolkiewicz
Matt Vincent (current World Champion)
Sean Betz
Eric Frasure
Nathan Burchett
John Piling
Jeremy Gillingham
Jake Sullivan
Spencer Tyler

Many of these athletes have appeared at the Celtic Classic previously, but there are also some new names that will be competing in Bethlehem for the first time ever.

The Celtic Classic is more than just sports, and I’m proud to say that we have a great sampling of the many experiences from the Celtic Classic on RCN-TV once again this year. One of my favorite performers over the years includes the O’Grady Quinlan Irish Dancers (one year they ask me to perform with them…let’s just say I did a better job announcing the highland games). Other must-see performers include the Glengarry Bhoys, Burning Bridge Clearly and the Town Pants. And, of course, to see the Liberty and Freedom High School bands alone make the “Tartan Parade” something you have to check out.

There really is something for everyone and I invite you to check out all that the Celtic Classic has to offer. Don’t forget, whether you watch the events in person or on RCN-TV, you can relive all the memories for the next two months by watching these events, for free, through RCN On-Demand.