2021 Sammy Awards: Part 1

A dozen years ago we transformed a simple Year in Review into the world’s coolest fake awards show. There have been a couple of off years, making this presentation the Tenth Annual Sammys!! Because your humble Potentate of Profundity is a man ahead of his time this show was pandemic proof long before there was a pandemic. We have no live audience & no acceptance speeches. Everything is not only virtual, it is completely imaginary. Having said that, please feel free to mask up, sanitize your laptop, tablet, or mobile device, and even head to a local medical facility to get tested once the show is over. As always The Sammys are way more groovy than the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, or anything MTV produces. We have fun when appropriate but also pay proper respect to subjects that have earned it. Hope springs eternal, so we still believe that the show is worthy of some kind of television deal, although having an online presence might actually be just as valuable nowadays. So slip into your most comfortable sweats & rattiest old t-shirt, grab a beverage & enough snacks to last for awhile, make one final trip to the loo (that’s British), and hunker down as we enjoy one final reminiscence of the year that was while simultaneously praying for good things to come.

To host this year’s show we have called upon one of America’s most popular yet enigmatic comedians. He has won five Emmy Awards & three Grammys, but The Sammys are undoubtedly his career pinnacle. In October 2021 he came under fire for some jokes that hurt the feelings of certain special interest groups, people that are apparently unfamiliar with the history of stand-up comedy. Fortunately for us he stared cancel culture in the face and flipped it the bird, which makes it an immense pleasure to welcome Dave Chappelle!!

After a brief yet wickedly funny & edgy opening monologue it’s time for our first award, and we are thrilled to welcome a lady who wasn’t so successful in beating back cancel culture. Last Spring she was fired from daytime snoozefest The Talk after being one of the co-hosts for over a decade. No matter where you stand on that particular issue The Sammy Awards believes in both free speech & redemption, so please give a warm welcome to one of the most famous rock star wives in the world…Sharon Osborne!! And the nominees are:

Favorite TV Show

Cobra Kai

I’m not a binger. I am an 80’s kid used to television shows premiering in September, airing a couple dozen episodes, and concluding their seasons in May. Summertime was nothing but reruns. All those rules have changed though, and I find myself caught between adapting and eschewing television altogether. One program I am willing to adapt for is Cobra Kai, the continuation of The Karate Kid film trilogy that introduced us to Daniel LaRusso & Johnny Lawrence. Cobra Kai catches up with Daniel & Johnny three decades later and integrates a whole new generation of youngsters into their story. The show does a nice job of balancing nostalgia & teen angst, as well as juggling drama, action, romance, & humor.

WWE Raw/NXT/Smackdown

I’ve been a pro wrestling fan for probably four decades, and it tends to be rather cyclical. Stars come & go, promotions rise & fall, and the presentation evolves. To be honest the product seems to be in a bit of a lull right now, but I still watch, and despite its various issues & no shortage of competition WWE is still on top, mostly due to superior production value and the best television deals. One competitor…Impact Wrestling…has had a half dozen obscure television homes in the past 15 years and currently airs on something called AXS TV, a channel I have but forget that I do. Conversely, WWE Raw & NXT both air on USA Network, while Smackdown is on Fox. Wrestling isn’t “Must-See TV” as much as it used to be, and there are nights I doze off while watching, but it’s been a part of my life since I was a pre-teen and that’s probably not going to change.

General Hospital

When I was a kid there were about a dozen soap operas on television, and at one time or another I probably checked out most of them. Today though, only four remain, and only one has kept my interest. It’s not always compelling, but GH has retained a certain level of quality thanks to solid writing and good performances. Soaps receive their fair share of ridicule and deservedly so, but when you consider some of the names that got their start on daytime dramas…Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, John Stamos, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, David Hasselhoff, Robin Wright (just to name a few)…perhaps the genre deserves a bit more respect.

NFL Redzone

From September thru December there is nothing I enjoy more than hunkering down in my humble abode on Sunday afternoons and watching “seven hours of commercial free football”. It has spoiled me to the point that spending three hours at other times watching just one game feels odd. I wish someone would borrow the concept for college football, although there are probably too many moving parts & competing interests involved for that to work.

and the Sammy goes to…..

General Hospital. Here is the issue with Cobra Kai (as well as many other streaming shows): Netflix released Season 3 on New Year’s Day 2021, and then Season 4 didn’t come along until New Year’s Eve a year later. Conversely, General Hospital airs Monday thru Friday year-round. Sometimes I watch, sometimes I don’t. Occasionally I’ll DVR it, while oftentimes I don’t. More frequently than fans would prefer it gets pre-empted by breaking news. Sometimes the storylines are riveting, other times they are cringeworthy. Yet, despite all the inconsistency, the fact is GH is (almost) always there, which is the essence of soap operas. We literally watch these characters grow up over the course of many years. We invite them into our homes, and in return they share their dysfunctional families, wild adventures, illicit activities, forbidden affairs, rocky romances, and crazy (fictional) lives with us. Are there better ways to spend one’s time?? Of course, and if I had a more…consequential…life perhaps I wouldn’t waste my time on such tomfoolery, but sadly that’s not the case.

To present our next award we are intrigued to welcome a man who probably never thought of himself as a villain. Unfortunately for him the powers-that-be at ABC/Disney disagreed, and in March of last year he “departed” The Bachelor (and its spinoffs) after nearly two decades. His crime?? Suggesting mercy & grace be extended to a young woman who made the heinous mistake of attending a politically incorrect party when she was an 18 year old college student. While The Bachelor (and its spinoffs) might be the most mind-numbingly asinine franchise on television and has undoubtedly contributed to the decline & eventual fall of civilization, it is equally true that Harrison did absolutely nothing wrong. Therefore we are happy to extend mercy & grace to him, so please give an enthusiastic welcome to Chris Harrison!!  And the nominees are:

The Joker Award for Villain of the Year

Lebron James

Basketball fans can debate all they want about the greatest player of all time…is it King James or Michael Jordan??…and that’s fine. I will always choose Jordan for various reasons, and unfortunately one of them has little to do with basketball. Social media and the influence of ESPN has allowed & encouraged players to not “stick to sports”, which isn’t a good thing in my opinion, and Lebron James is one of the more vocal offenders. President Lincoln famously advised “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt”, but with Twitter, 24/7 sports & news channels, and various other technologies it is nearly impossible for fans not to know the thoughts & beliefs of sports stars, actors, musicians, and others who we simply want to entertain us with their transcendent talent & skill. Sadly it is a Pandora’s Box that cannot be closed.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi

I’ve never been to California, and don’t have any desire to visit after seeing the kind of garbage it produces. Pelosi has represented her district (mostly San Francisco) for nearly 35 years and has spent much of the past 15 years as the first & only female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Normally that’d be an accomplishment to be celebrated, but the problem is this woman is absolutely batshit crazy, which leaves me with the impression that her constituents are insane as well. Anyone can make a mistake. It’s easy for a politician to beguile voters, but one would think that once that elected official proves themselves to be completely off their rocker a change would be made. I am a proponent of term limits anyway, but without that safety net I just can’t help but wonder what kind of clueless sheep keeps voting for this lush?? And how in the hell does she keep getting re-elected Speaker??

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Look, I have tremendous respect for doctors. Having had more than my share of health issues thru the years I am grateful to the medical community for saving my life multiple times. I am sure that Dr. Fauci is a brilliant man, and I understand that we’ve all been flying by the seat of our pants in the midst of a global pandemic. That being said, from Day 1 Fauci’s messaging has been…to be kind…confusing & contradictory. I have gotten bad vibes from him for awhile. I don’t know who bought & paid for him, but at best he is a useful tool, and at worst he is in the thick of sinister machinations. Oftentimes a coach will be fired because he/she has “lost the team” and the organization needs “a new voice”. Such is the case with Fauci. A significant portion of the American public is not only really tired of dealing with virus related issues, they have lost trust in Dr. Fauci. It’s time for him to go.

Kamala Harris

Much like Pelosi, one would hope that the first female Vice President (a “woman of color” no less) would be an historic milestone to honor, and it would be…if she wasn’t a terrible person doing a horrible job. From the get go Harris’ only qualifications were her gender & race, which regrettably is enough for too many people. I think we need to aim higher when it comes to the most prominent public offices in the nation, but that seems to have been an issue for the past few decades. Kamala Harris is a cackling fool who shouldn’t be in charge of anything, and honestly that’s the nicest thing I can say about her.

Bill Gates

Credit where it is due…Gates has been at the forefront of computer technology for decades, and we salute him for that. However, I must have missed the part where he received his medical license. As with Fauci’s inconsistent & dubious communication on the virus front, the vaccine has suffered from bad PR, starting with Computer Guy being one of its chief proponents & leading spokesmen. It just seems odd. Let’s face it…we’ve all been on edge the past couple years, and when it feels like a billionaire is pushing something that is out of his wheelhouse because he has skin in the game the collective thought process that perhaps we’re all being played makes a lot of sense. You want to deal with the problem of “vaccine hesitancy”?? I’m not sure of the answer, but the genesis of the problem may have been Bill Gates.

Don Lemon

No one cares about his race, nor do people dislike him based on his sexual preference. Those are convenient excuses. No…a lot of people despise Lemon because he is a smug, angry, vile, divisive, deceitful douchenozzle masquerading as a “journalist”. Gone are the days when folks on the news tried to maintain the guise of impartiality. I can deal with that. But anyone who has ever watched The Food Network knows that presentation is important, and all you need to know about CNN is that they are okay with someone as disingenuous & loathsome as Don Lemon representing their brand.

The Cuomo Brothers

At the beginning of 2021 Andrew Cuomo had been the Governor of New York for a decade, while younger brother Chris was another face of CNN. By the end of the year both were unemployed. I was a big fan of their father Mario when I was a kid. He was Governor of New York in the 1980s and delivered a riveting keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. 40-something year old Me may have different views than 12 year old me, but I am still somewhat surprised that Cuomo the Elder raised such twatwaffles. Andrew Cuomo resigned his office in August amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations, and if that wouldn’t have brought him down it would’ve been his gross mishandling of COVID in New York that was so egregious it makes Fauci look like a Boy Scout. A few months later CNN fired Chris Cuomo when it was discovered that he was using his job & his contacts to aide his brother’s defense. It was always an unusual situation…one brother in the media, the other holding a significant political office…but it worked until it didn’t. Perhaps if both men led their lives with honor & integrity instead of being the abhorrent human beings that they are both would still have their jobs.

and the Sammy goes to…..

All of Them. It’s a seven way tie. I cannot differentiate between them. A few simply need to stay in their lane, while we’d all be better off if the others would go away forever, never to be heard from again. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which.

Our next presenter knows a thing or two about excellence. He escaped the coal fields of southern West Virginia in the 1960s and went on to become an aerospace engineer at NASA, eventually seguing into a literary career. He has written multiple best-selling books, most notably 1998’s Rocket Boys, which was adapted into the film October Sky a year later. It is an honor to welcome distinguished military veteran & fellow West Virginian Homer Hickam Jr.!! And the nominees are:

The Bruce Wayne Award for Excellence

Governor Ron DeSantis

Rarely will I ever pat any politician on the back. Democrat. Republican. Independent. It doesn’t really matter, especially if they’ve enjoyed the spotlight a little too long. That being said, Gov. DeSantis seems like the kind of leader others should emulate. I’ve never been to Florida, so I am not familiar with that political scene or how DeSantis got to where he is right now. I do know that he has served as Governor since 2019 and is a former Navy SEAL who spent some time in Iraq. He has stepped onto the national stage by keeping Florida open during the pandemic and foregoing the scare tactics that have brought several other places to a virtual standstill the past couple of years. The numbers rise & fall almost daily, so I won’t bore y’all with statistics, but my understanding is that places like California & New York with quite stringent COVID restrictions aren’t better off than Florida, which returned to relative normalcy a long time ago. DeSantis could be a future Presidential candidate…one that promotes conservative policies that a lot of folks would support sans the kind of baggage & dysfunction that has been emblematic of recent years.

Tucker Carlson

Rush Limbaugh died nearly a year ago, leaving a void in the sociopolitical discourse. There are plenty of conservative voices out there willing to take up the mantle, but none will ever truly meet the standard. I am not suggesting that Carlson is the one to step into Rush’s shoes because I simply don’t believe that is possible, but of all the contenders he is the one I have enjoyed the most. I don’t watch his television show every night, and I don’t think I have ever seen the entire hour. I am just not the same political enthusiast that I was two decades ago. However, in small doses…perhaps an interview here & there or his opening monologue…Carlson is more than palatable.

Elon Musk

We are at a place in American history when we are encouraged to hate “rich people”, especially ultra-wealthy billionaires. However, is that the right mindset?? Perhaps, instead of jealousy & derision, we should show such individuals respect, striving to learn what makes them tick and why they are so successful. Elon Musk is the 50 year CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, which seems to have done more space exploration than NASA in recent years. He is allegedly worth $300 billion, making him the richest person in the world at the moment (maybe that’s why Bill Gates is hellbent & determined to profit from the pandemic). Musk is difficult to pigeonhole, having expressed a variety of opinions that would land him all over the political spectrum. I hope that he stays out of that arena in the future because his contributions in the private sector are much more valuable. We all know how that goes though, right?? If he’d decide to jump into the fray his name recognition & vast wealth would make him a legit force, especially since there is a blueprint for such a path. We’ll see.

and the Sammy goes to…..

None of Them. First of all, it saddens me that there are only three nominees for this award. Every effort will be made to focus more in 2022 on acknowledging those who make a positive impact on the world. As much fun as The Sammys have poking fun at absurdity and ridiculing outright foolishness, we don’t seek to be excessively negative. All of these nominees made a productive contribution in 2021, but none stand out or feel worthy of such recognition.

This feels like a good place to pause, but please stay tuned for Part 2 of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part III

Welcome to the exciting conclusion of The Sammy Awards. Please give a rousing ovation for the host of our show…legendary comedic actor Bill Murray!! And if you need to catch up on the proceedings thus far you may do so here & here.

 

We think The Manoverse could use a little more laughter, so let’s welcome an up & coming comedienne who y’all really need to check out. She hails from Knoxville, TN and the combination of a charming southern drawl and clean, relatable, slice-of-life comedy has made her a favorite of ours. Give a warm welcome to Leanne Morgan!!

 

 

To present our next award it is a true pleasure to welcome the star of soap operas like Days of Our Lives & General Hospital and a plethora of Hallmark movies. She’s got a smile that can light up the Vegas Strip…give it up for Jen Lilley!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Favorite TV/Radio Program

 

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum is a national treasure. His filmography includes modern classics like The Big Chill & Independence Day, as well as a 1980 TV series called Ten Speed & Brown Shoe. In 2020 I discovered a program Goldblum hosted that had actually began on Disney+ in late 2019. Throughout the ten episodes Goldblum explores a variety of things like tattoos, coffee, & ice cream. We’ve seen similar shows on The History Channel, The Food Network, & Discovery, but Goldblum is such a unique personality that he is able to take a topic and make it fascinating with his quirky wit & singular cadence. So far Disney+ hasn’t produced a second season, but I’m confident we’ll get one in the near future.

 

NFL Redzone

I still don’t know whether it is a channel or a show unto itself, but I do know that there are few things more enjoyable than seven straight hours of commercial free football every Sunday afternoon in the autumn.

 

Cobra Kai

The Karate Kid ranked 7th on my list of favorite sports films five years ago, and unbeknownst to me a television show that catches up with Daniel LaRusso & Johnny Lawrence three+ decades later premiered on something called YouTube Red in 2018. Fortunately Netflix bought the show last summer, and it only took me two nights to catch up on the first two seasons. We find that Daniel has become a slightly cocky car salesman who capitalized on his karate exploits to succeed in business and become a local celebrity, while Johnny is down-on-his-luck, can’t hold a job, has an estranged son, and harbors no small amount of bitterness & resentment toward Daniel about all that happened between them back in high school. Reboots, remakes, sequels, etc. are dangerous ground to walk on, but Hollywood keeps on trying. Cobra Kai is well done. The writing is solid, the new characters we are introduced to are fun & interesting, and the juxtaposition in how we view Daniel & Johnny now versus back in the day is a nice twist. With the music & other nostalgia the show is a special treat for 80s kids, but it is accessible enough for anyone to enjoy.

 

WWE NXT

The pandemic has been tough on live music & sports, but pro wrestling has adapted well enough. I’m sure it isn’t intentional given WWE’s big money deal with Fox to air Smackdown and Raw’s standing as the company’s flagship program for nearly three decades, but for many die hard wrestling fans NXT has become the show to watch. It has the best product and the best athletes of any other wrestling show on television.

 

General Hospital

Yes, I still DVR “my stories”, but while The Young & The Restless has become a snoozefest and Days of Our Lives is just ridiculous at times, GH has maintained a consistent level of watchability.

 

The Rush Limbaugh Program

To be honest I have probably listened to Rush less in the past year than at any time since I discovered his brilliance back in the early 90’s. I’ve been laid up since May of last year and haven’t been driving my truck, which is usually when I’d listen. I’ve made no secret of my decreased interest in politics. Having said that, on the rare occasions that I do get to hear a little snippet of Rush’s insightful commentary I still find him to be compelling and smart. I am all too aware that I have many friends & family that might be horrified to find out that I am a Dittohead, but I find their political views just as disappointing, which is why it’s something I am very careful about discussing openly. I find it sad, but it really has come to that in America.

 

Jeopardy!

Unfortunately this might be the final time the show receives a Sammy nomination. I don’t think the format of the game will change, but so much depends on who is ultimately chosen to be the new host. Forgive me for not having a whole lot of confidence about that choice being a good one. I hope I am wrong.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…

 

 

Cobra Kai. First, a shoutout to my friend Melanie who encouraged me to watch the show. Also, no disrespect to YouTube Red, but kudos to Netflix for giving it a much larger platform enabling so many more fans to discover it. Is Cobra Kai a perfect TV show?? No, it’s not. Perhaps only 80’s kids like me can really appreciate it. Younger folks may find it occasionally cheesy, but I’m okay with that. After all, how much respect do we owe generations that made boy bands, Twilight, and Taylor Swift successful?? It is still a little odd for me to binge an entire season in one night then have to wait several months for new episodes, but that’s just the way things work nowadays. Like most other programs that air on streaming services I don’t expect Cobra Kai to last any longer than 4 or 5 years, but that’s alright…nostalgia has a shelf life. I am one of those people who rails against the glut of sequels, remakes, reboots, et al indicating a lack of creativity in Hollywood, but I understand that view is hypocritical. When they revive something we love and do it well then it’s just dandy, right?? Such is the case with Cobra Kai.

 

 

To present our next award please welcome two of America’s most beloved game show hosts. First is a gentleman who has hosted Wheel of Fortune for nearly forty years. Please buy a vowel for Pat Sajak!! He is joined by an actor/comedian who has hosted Family Feud since 2010. Give it up for Steve Harvey!!

 

The Charles Barkley Role Model Award

 

Alex Trebek

 

I’ve told this story before elsewhere, but the day my mother ended up in a vegetative state that would lead to her death a few days later she fixed a good supper for me & my Dad. As a matter of fact, she had answered the bell, so to speak, for more than twenty years, getting up every day and taking care of her family even when she didn’t feel a bit good. So I have tremendous respect for Alex Trebek, who after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2019, continued to show up for work for the next year & a half. Anyone watching Jeopardy! during that time never would have guessed what he was going thru because he did his job with the grace, class, & professionalism that he’d always shown since he’d began hosting in 1984. Jeopardy! is by far the greatest game show of all time, and even though Trebek was a low key guy who never wanted the focus on himself the fact is that we are about to find out just how important his silky delivery & subtle humor was to the show. Alex Trebek even loved Will Ferrell’s hilarious impression of him in Saturday Night Live sketches that were a pop culture phenomenon back in the late 1990s because he was a man who didn’t take himself too seriously. I like people who are comfortable enough to laugh at themselves. Soon I will be reading Mr. Trebek’s autobiography that was published less than five months before his death, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about a man that I’ve admired since I was a teenager. I’ll give a fair chance to whoever ends up being named the new host of Jeopardy!, but that person will have to be extremely good to even approach the awesomeness of their predecessor. My father always says that death is part of life, but just because it’s true doesn’t make it easy. Godspeed Alex Trebek, and thank you.

 

 

To present our next award it is a pleasure to welcome a man who we’ve thought about inviting to be part of the show for a long time, but usually he is busy this time of year. His spies have already told him who the winner is. Give a polite golf clap to the head coach of the New England Patriots…Bill Belichick!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The Agony of Defeat Award

 

Antonio Brown

What the hell happened to Antonio Brown?? He was an All-Pro wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers until he lost his damn mind and burned a ton of bridges. He bounced from the Steelers to the Raiders to the Patriots. He was suspended for the first half of the 2020 season before making his debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It makes me sick that he has been rewarded for all his foolishness by ending up on a team quarterbacked by Tom Brady that could actually wind up in the Super Bowl.

 

MLB Sign Stealing Scandal

I don’t know if the 2020 MLB season will be remembered half as much as the scandal that rocked the league in its offseason. It was discovered that in 2017 & ’18 the Houston Astros used a method involving video cameras in the outfield and players on the bench banging on trash cans to tip off their batters to what kind of pitch to expect. Whatever they were doing worked since the Astros won the World Series in 2017. Houston bench coach Alex Cora became manager of the Boston Red Sox the following season and they proceeded to win the World Series, and though they were absolved of cheating accusations by MLB there are those that say they did the same kind of thing the Astros had done, just not as much. At any rate, neither team was stripped of their championship, but both Cora and Astros’ skipper AJ Hinch lost their jobs. Cora has since been rehired, while Hinch has been named the new manager of the Detroit Tigers.

 

Kobe Bryant

On January 26, 2020 a helicopter crash claimed the life of 41 year old Bryant and eight others, including his 13 year old daughter Gigi. Bryant had retired from the Lakers in 2016.

 

March Sadness

Of the many COVID-related sports casualties last year perhaps the most significant was the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Super Bowl had already taken place, and the World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, and NBA playoffs all still happened. Other events like the Kentucky Derby, The Masters, & Indianapolis 500 were delayed but were held eventually. March Madness wasn’t so fortunate. That all went down way back at the beginning of the pandemic when everything was new and we were all just flying by the seat of our pants. Thankfully the sports world adapted and most everything else has gone on as scheduled, albeit without fans in attendance. I think the cancellation of the basketball tournament was one of the first indications that the whole virus situation is very real and quite serious.

 

Bubba’s “Noose”

My relationship with NASCAR has been a roller coaster for a number of years. I went from catching every race each Sunday to not watching at all for a couple of seasons to a happy medium where I watch occasionally, neither boycotting it altogether nor being all that invested as a fan. Bubba Wallace has won zero races in four years, and his entire existence in NASCAR revolves around identity politics. Last summer, as race riots rocked the nation, Bubba seized on the opportunity by claiming he’d found a noose in his garage at Talladega. As it turns out it wasn’t a noose at all…it was a garage door pulley that had been there for years. Of course if you present the media with a divisive narrative they will pounce and squeeze every ounce of drama out of it, and Bubba Wallace lost all credibility when he chose to perpetuate the lie instead admitting he was wrong.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…

 

 

Kobe Bryant. I wasn’t a huge Kobe fan when he was playing. As fans we choose who we cheer and who we boo for a variety of reasons, some of which aren’t necessarily rooted in logic. However, one of the fascinating things that occurs with sports fandom is that oftentimes, as a player ages, our opinion of them becomes a bit more conciliatory. We begrudgingly recognize their greatness and appreciate the fact that we were around to witness it. I remember watching Kobe’s final game in 2016. He dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz, including the game winning shot. It was a meaningless game since the Lakers were terrible and not going to the playoffs, but as far as storybook endings in sports go it ranks near the top, and I was glad to see it. In retirement Kobe’s image had softened as he embraced the role of #GirlDad, and chances are Gigi was destined to become a college & WNBA superstar. Most if not all plane/helicopter crashes are tragic, but this one…this one might have been the most depressing in recent history. Children died…kids whose lives were just beginning. And Kobe?? He may have been retired and considered old within the realm of sports, but he was only 41 years old. 41! Who knows what his second act may have been. Broadcaster?? Coach?? Team owner or executive?? Perhaps he would have found success outside of basketball. Sadly we will never know what might have been.

 

 

Are you ready for the final award of the evening?? Well you better check yourself because our next presenter is for real and he’s prepared to go to war!! Don’t even think about messing with him!! He has spent more than two decades as a public school teacher in the inner city and he will not tolerate anyone being insubordinate or churlish. Please answer “Present!” as the roll is called by Mr. Garvey!!

 

 

Most Significant News Story

 

The Sickness

 

Should there be other nominees?? Perhaps. 2020 saw the President of the United States impeached, months of race riots, a significant change in the Supreme Court, and a Presidential Election. In a normal year any of those could justifiably win this award. But raise your hand if you ever thought you’d be alive to witness a global pandemic. Whether you call it Coronavirus, COVID-19, the China Virus, the Kung Fu Flu, or anything else, the fact is that nothing we have faced in my 40+ years on the planet has affected so many in such a variety of ways. Worldwide two million people have lost their lives, with almost 400k deaths here in America. It has devastated economies, shuttered businesses, and destroyed dreams. It has altered the way we live our daily lives. Masks, social distancing, working from home, distance learning, empty sports stadiums, online church services, curbside pickup at restaurants, and a variety of other things have become the norm as we adapt because that’s what human beings do…we find a way to move forward and live our lives. Whatever you may believe about the origin of the virus, how our leaders handled the crisis, the media’s role in propagating fear, or what the best path may be in the immediate future, the fact is it is real. Like many others I didn’t take it seriously at first, and to be honest I haven’t feared it all that much because I’ve been on the shelf…quarantined in my own odd way…since May 2020. That being said, I know people who have had the virus. I have heard about their battle, and it doesn’t seem fun at all. The good news (maybe) is that a vaccine has arrived, though I will take a raincheck on offering an opinion about that until there is more data. I am hopeful that the day will come when we can all break bread together at a restaurant, greet each other warmly with a handshake or a hug at church, enjoy live music in a crowded venue, and venture out without a mask. When will that be?? I don’t know.

 

 

 

2020

2020

 

iconic TV host Regis Philbin…record setting test pilot Brigadier General Chuck Yeager…Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg…NBA Hall-of-Famers Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz), & Wes Unseld (Washington Bullets), & KC Jones (Boston Celtics)…actor (The Dick Van Dyke Show, History of the World Part 1, the Ocean’s trilogy) & director (Oh God!, The Jerk, Summer School) Carl Reiner…NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson…legendary soccer player Diego Maradona…National Lampoon publisher & film producer Matty Simmons (Animal House, the Vacation series)…acting coach & TV host James Lipton (Inside the Actors Studio)…former boxing champion Roger Mayweather…film director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, Falling Down, Batman Forever, A Time to Kill, Batman & Robin) & producer Charles Gordon (Field of Dreams, Die Hard 2, October Sky)…controversial civil servant Linda Tripp…comedian Norm Crosby…former MLB managers Jim Frey (Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals) & John McNamara (Boston Red Sox)…authors Mary Higgins Clark, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Clive Cussler, John LeCarre, & Winston Groom…Reese Schonfeld (founder of The Food Network)…race car driver John Andretti…game show hosts Alex Trebek (Jeopardy!) & Tom Kennedy (Password Plus)…soap opera producer Lee Phillip Bell (The Young & the Restless, The Bold & the Beautiful)…Harlem Globetrotters legend Curly Neal…singers/musicians Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), Kenny Rogers, Helen Reddy, Joe Diffie, Charlie Daniels, Neil Peart (Rush), Bill Withers, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bonnie Pointer (The Pointer Sisters), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), John Prine, Little Richard, Jack Sherman (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Tommy DeVito (The Four Seasons), Mac Davis, Billy Joe Shaver, Nikki McKibbin (American Idol), Chad Stuart (Chad & Jeremy), KT Oslin, & Charley Pride…Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem & Belmont Stakes winner AP Indy…televangelist Jack Van Impe…football coaches Don Shula (Miami Dolphins), Johnny Majors (Pitt Panthers, Tennessee Volunteers), George Perles (Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan St. Spartans), Sam Wyche (Cincinnati Bengals), Woody Widenhofer (Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions), Pat Dye (Auburn Tigers), & Ray Perkins (New York Giants)… businessman & former Presidential candidate Herman Cain… Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas & decathlon champion Rafer Johnson… former U.S. Attorney General & Governor of Pennsylvania Dick Thornburgh…actresses Olivia de Havilland (Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood), Dawn Wells (Gilligan’s Island), Marj Dusay (Guiding Light, Capitol, Santa Barbara), Paula Kelly (Night Court), Naya Rivera (Glee), Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire), Conchata Ferrell, & Elsa Raven (Back to the Future, Titanic)… magician Roy Horn… journalists Jim Lehrer, Bob Ryder,  & Hugh Downs…Academy Award winning screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman (Splash, Stir Crazy)…Hall of Fame college basketball coaches John Thompson (Georgetown Hoyas), Eddie Sutton (Kentucky Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks), Lute Olson (Arizona Wildcats), & Lou Henson (Illinois Fighting Illini), & Billy Tubbs (Oklahoma Sooners)… former FBI Director William Sessions & former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft…world renowned golf course designer Pete Dye… fashion designer Pierre Cardin… famed TV executive Fred Silverman…former MLB players Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals), Tom Seaver (New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds), Joe Morgan (Cincinnati Reds), Phil Niekro (Atlanta Braves), Lou Brock (Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals), Don Larsen (New York Yankees), Tony Fernandez (Toronto Blue Jays), Claudell Washington (Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics), Whitey Ford (New York Yankees), & Dick Allen (Philadelphia Phillies)… Joe Clark (school principal depicted in the film Lean On Me)… songwriters Phil Phillips (Sea of Love), Kenny Young (Under the Boardwalk), & Johnny Nash (I Can See Clearly Now)…former NFL players Gale Sayers (Chicago Bears), Paul Hornung (Green Bay Packers), Chris Doleman (Minnesota Vikings), Willie Wood (Green Bay Packers), Tom Dempsey (New Orleans Saints), Bobby Mitchell (Washington Redskins), Tarvaris Jackson (Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings), Willie Davis (Green Bay Packers), Reche Caldwell (San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins), Jim Kiick (Miami Dolphins), Carleton Haselrig (Pittsburgh Steelers), Fred Dean (San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers), Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys), Lorenzo Taliaferro (Baltimore Ravens), & Kevin Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers)… Rep. John Lewis (Georgia)…former NBA Commissioner David Stern…Mad magazine artist Mort Drucker… broadcasters & Miss Americas (1971) Phyllis George & (1993) Leanza Cornett… scandalous teacher Mary Kay Letourneau…actors Kirk Douglas (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Spartacus), Sean Connery (portrayed James Bond in seven films), Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld, King of Queens), Fred Willard (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Anchorman, American Wedding, Real People), Chadwick Boseman (Draft Day, 42, Black Panther), Buck Henry (Saturday Night Live, Grumpy Old Men), Jack Burns (The Andy Griffith Show), John Karlen (Cagney & Lacey), Terry Jones (Monty Python), Edd Byrnes (Grease), Orson Bean (Being John Malkovich, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman), Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West), Roscoe Born (One Life to Live, Santa Barbara), Max Von Sydow (The Greatest Story Ever Told), Lyle Waggoner (Wonder Woman, The Carol Burnett Show), David Schramm (Wings), Brian Dennehy (First Blood, Tommy Boy, Presumed Innocent), Ken Osmond (Leave it to Beaver), Sir Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit trilogies), Richard Herd (TJ Hooker, Seinfeld), Wilford Brimley (Cocoon, The Natural, Our House), Raymond Allen (Sanford & Son), Trini Lopez (The Dirty Dozen), Kevin Dobson (Knots Landing), Tiny Lister (No Holds Barred), & David Lander (Laverne & Shirley)…famed businessman Jack Welch (former Chairman & CEO of General Electric) & Sumner Redstone (Chairman Emeritus of Viacom)…former Chicago Bears executive Michael McCaskey…editor Christopher Tolkien (son of The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien)…pro wrestlers Pat Patterson, Road Warrior Animal, Kamala the Ugandan Giant, Rocky Johnson, Bullet Bob Armstrong, Rip Oliver, Shad Gaspard, Mr. Wrestling II, Killer Tim Brooks, Danny Hodge, Brodie Lee, Tracy Smothers, and ring announcers Howard Finkel & Joe Pedicino…New York Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner… former NY City Mayor David Dinkins… astrologer Jackie Stallone (mother of Sylvester & Frank)…former NBA players Tommy Heinsohn (Boston Celtics) & Clifford Robinson (Portland Trailblazers)

 

 

 

2019

 

businessman & former Presidential candidate Ross Perot…Vera Clemente (widow of baseball HOFer Roberto Clemente…TV producer Lee Mendelson (A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown)…radio shock jock Don Imus…comedian Rip Taylor…renowned auto executive Lee Iacocca…NASCAR team owners J. D. Gibbs (co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing & son of legendary football coach Joe Gibbs), Junior Johnson, & Glen Wood (co-founder of Wood Brothers Racing)…Wild Kingdom co-host Jim Fowler…actresses Carol Channing (Hello Dolly), Valerie Harper (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Valerie), Verna Bloom (Animal House), Julie Adams (The Andy Griffith Show), Carmen Duncan (Another World), Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s the Boss?), Diahann Carroll (Dynasty), Georgia Engel (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), & Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad)…authors Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War), Jean Edward Smith (noted political biographer), W. E. B. Griffin (military fiction), & Toni Morrison (Beloved)…directors Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain), John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious), & Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo & Juliet)…former NFL players Bart Starr (Green Bay Packers), Wade Wilson (Oakland Raiders), Sam Davis (Pittsburgh Steelers), Bob Kuechenberg (Miami Dolphins), Turk Schonert (Cincinnati Bengals), Russell Gary (Philadelphia Eagles), Eric Moss (Minnesota Vikings), Forrest Gregg (Green Bay Packers), Willie Brown (Oakland Raiders), Charles Rogers (Detroit Lions), Reggie Cobb (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Gino Marchetti (Baltimore Colts), Jared Lorenzen (New York Giants), Cedric Benson (Chicago Bears), & Cliff Branch (Oakland Raiders)…consumer reporter David Horowitz…prominent business executives T. Boone Pickens & Barron Hilton…Oscar winning composer André Previn (Porgy & Bess, My Fair Lady)…former U.S. Surgeon General  Robert N. McClelland…pro sports team owners Larry Weinberg (Portland Trailblazers), Bill Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals), & Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos)…infamous game show contestant Charles Van Doren…former public officials Senator & Governor of South Carolina Fritz Hollings, US Senator (Indiana) Richard Luger, Congressman John Dingell (Michigan), Congressman John Conyers (Michigan), Senator & Congressman Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Congressman Elijah Cummings (Maryland)…sportscasters Jack Whitaker, Rod Bramblett (Auburn Tigers), & Chet Coppock… actors Tim Conway (The Carol Burnett Show),  Bill Macy (Maude), Albert Finney (Scrooge [1970], Murder on the Orient Express, AnnieErin Brockovich, Ocean’s Twelve), John Witherspoon (Friday), Bob Einstein (aka Super Dave Osbourne), Kristoff St. John (The Young & The Restless), Rip Torn (The Larry Sanders Show, Dodgeball), Nathaniel Taylor (Rollo on Sanford & Son), Morgan Woodward (Dallas), Jan-Michael Vincent (Hooper, Airwolf), Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210), Jed Allan (Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara), Ken Kercheval (Dallas), René Auberjonois (Benson, Deep Space Nine, Boston Legal), Flash Jenkins (Fletch, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), John Clarke (Days of Our Lives), Peter Mayhew (Star Wars’ Chewbacca), Max Wright (ALF), Arte Johnson (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In), Eddie Jones (Lois & Clark), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Danny Aiello (Do the Right Thing), Philip McKeon (Alice), Ron Leibman (Norma Rae, Friends), & Peter Fonda (Easy Rider)…NBA Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek (Boston Celtics)…political activist Lyndon LaRouche…football coaches Hayden Fry (Iowa Hawkeyes), George Welsh (Virginia Cavaliers, Navy Midshipmen), Herman Boone (portrayed by Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans), Dick Tomey (Arizona Wildcats), George Chaump (Marshall Thundering Herd, Navy Midshipmen), Gunther Cunningham (Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions), Walt Michaels (New York Jets), John Ralston (Denver Broncos), Pat Sullivan (Auburn Tigers), & Darryl Drake (Pittsburgh Steelers)…musicians Eddie Money, Ric Ocasek (The Cars), Daryl Dragon (Captain & Tennille), James Ingram, Mac Wiseman, Peter Tork (The Monkees), Dick Dale, Earl Thomas Conley, Leon Redbone, Dr. John, & Dave Bartholomew…baseball legends Frank Robinson (Baltimore Orioles), Bob Friend (Pittsburgh Pirates), Mel Stottlemyre (New York Yankees), Don Newcombe (Los Angeles Dodgers), Bill Buckner (Boston Red Sox), & Jim Bouton (New York Yankees)…journalists Jack Perkins & Cokie Roberts…Hall of Fame hockey player Ted Lindsay…Beth Chapman (wife of Dog The Bounty Hunter)…retired golfer Gene Littler…former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens…pro wrestling stars  “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Les Thornton, Pedro Morales, Salvatore Bellomo, King Kong Bundy, Silver King, Moondog Rex, Ashley Massaro, Max Muscle, Perro Aguayo, Rick Bogner, & Eddie Marlin…retired NFL referee Red Cashion…economist & former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker…infamous marathoner Rosie Ruiz… fashion designers Gloria Vanderbilt & Karl Lagerfeld…champion boxer Pernell Whitaker… James H. Shepherd (founder of Atlanta, GA’s Shepherd Center rehabilitation facility)…former NASA flight director Chris Craft…sportswriter Don Banks