Cross-posted to The American Legion’s BurnPit.
Seven time World Log Rolling Champion, wounded Iraq Veteran, military blogger and all around good man: J.R. Salzman
Probably everyone knows by now that Tiger Woods was named the AP Athlete of the Decade. I am not here to say it wasn’t deserved. His record is incomparable: 64 tournament wins, 12 major championships. I’ve always been a fan of Tiger’s, but possibly for a different reason: his dad was Special Forces during Viet Nam. In fact, while I was training for my stint in the Ghan, Tiger came down to Bragg and ran with the troops and gave out some golf lessons. The whole debacle going down now makes me sad, because Tiger should be known for what he does with his putter, and not what he does with his…..um….putter.
But, Athletes should be rated on how they compete in Athletics. We don’t rate our church leaders on how well they hit a dimpled ball, and neither should we rate our sports stars on how they conduct their private business.
But, it is only human to factor in such things. It’s why everyone loves or hates Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, and why my favorite players have always been Mark Bavaro and Larry Izzo. But, a good case can be made that the most deserving person for Athlete of the Decade is 7 time World Log Rolling Champion, wounded Iraq Veteran, military blogger and all around good man: J.R. Salzman.
For those of you unfamiliar with logrolling, (shame on you) here is the wiki definition:
Logrolling, or birling, is a sport that originated in the lumberjack/log driver tradition of the northeastern United States and Canada, involving logs in a river (traditionally) or other body of water. After bringing their logs downriver, the lumberjacks would have a competition to see who could balance on a log the longest while it is still rolling in the river.
The contest involves two lumberjacks, each on one end of a log floating in the river. One or the other starts “walking” (or “rolling”) the log, and the other is forced to keep up. The contest involves attempting to stay on the log while attempting to cause the competitor to lose their balance and splash into the water. It is also commonly known as log birling.
JR had a MILBLOG while he served overseas, and it’s kind of interesting to follow his adventures there if you have time, so go read Lumberjack in the Desert. If you have less time, go and read the long ESPN article about JR, and his road to recovery.
Now, none of you have any strong desire to have me recount it all, and you’d rather watch video. Well, so would I. So I am including two (TWO!) videos for you. If your house is on fire, only watch the second (shorter) one. They are largely the same, but the first and longer one was done prior to July of this year. The first is roughly 9 mins, the second is about 2.
Before you click play though, I advise you to come up with an excuse for why your eyes are watery. I went with “Damn dusty apartment, must be my allergies.”
One good thing that came of our day of silence yesterday (and that post will remain stuck at the top through Saturday, so PLEASE GO READ) was that a mutual friend of mine and JR’s sent me his Facebook page. Naturally I friended him, and started up a conversation with him. He and his wife are doing well, and JR remains in school. In fact, he’s studying for finals right now. When I asked him how everything was going he replied:
I’m finishing a paper now, I have a final from 2000-2200 tonight, and another tomorrow from 0800-1000 followed by another from 1400-1600. I still have another eight pages of writing to finish up after that and another final on Monday. But I’m hanging in there and I’m in the top 5 or 10 in all my classes. Not bad for a guy with TBI and one arm.
When I got back to law school classes when I returned from GWOT, I had some hard times. All my original classmates had graduated and I found myself with new folks who didn’t know me. There was an article one day in the law school newspaper by a first year whining about how it was the hardest year anyone could go through. I wanted to strangle that person with dental floss. I mean seriously, are you really complaining because you missed some sleep while sitting in your heated apartment, Simpson’s on in the background while you cogitate on the Law Against Perpetuities? JR is doing it missing an arm and with a bruised grape. I know it is all perspective on these things, but damn, the man is in the top 10 in his class.
This morning when I logged on to get a picture of JR for this post I noticed his Facebook Status:
JR Salzman is wondering if anyone wants to go snowboarding at Afton either fri night or sat to celebrate my Alive Day. (Beers could follow)
I wish I had a car, because I would be driving to Wisconsin right now. Either way, Friday at our company Christmas party I will raise a frothy beverage and thank the Almighty for bringing JR through this, and for the men and women who helped him get back up on his log.