Tiger wins AP Athlete of Decade. Now meet the man I would have voted for.

| December 17, 2009

Cross-posted to The American Legion’s BurnPit.

JR Salzman

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.

Category: Just to Make Peskoff Happy, Military issues, Support the troops, The Warrior Code

Comments (14)

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  1. defendUSA says:

    Afriggin’men!! I will hoist a beer, er, maybe a shot for JR. Followed his story since I “internet-followed'(uh, would that be called live blogging”, now?) the milblog conference for the first time.
    And I am so on it when you say to the whiners that they have no idea…none at all.
    Go JR!!

  2. Richard Romano says:

    A nice story 🙂

    Boy we’re blessed with such fine young men and women who protect us. Thank you God.

  3. Sgt K says:

    I was in the same Minnesota Army National Guard Company in the sandbox with JR. (Alpha Co. 2-135 Inf. “Get Some!”) Helluva nice guy. Been following his recovery through his blog and on ESPN and was blown away when he won another world championship last summmer. You’re right, he should have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated this year instead of Derek Jeter.

  4. Dave Thul says:

    Well, it’s actually Alpha Battalion of the 2/135, but we will let that rest for now. By the way TSO, Afton is in Minnesota, and therefore able to have decent beers and not just Wisconsin cheap (ie Lienies).

    But I wholeheartedly agree that JR should be the athlete of the decade, if not the century.

  5. SSG Dirty Al says:

    OUT FUCKING STANDING, Just when you think your life is SHIT, you read and hear about an out standing soldier and MAN like JR and things don’t seem as BAD. THANKS JR AND TAH, God bless you all. I won’t be able to drink a brewski in JR’S honor but I’ll hoist a Diet Coke or Protein drink in his honor. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

  6. BooRadley says:

    Hey. thanks for this. It’s very well done. The two separate videos really make it work, too. When you finish watching the first one, and you’re thinking you don’t always win the championship, the gold medal, or whatever. It’s an important lesson.
    I made all my kids read/watch it, and they weren’t grumbling when they were finished.

  7. amazing stuff here says:

    Great story of a great American, but just wondering why this story in being put in the catergory of Politics? I thought it was the liberals who played politics with our veterans and servicemembers.

  8. Sgt K says:

    To Dave Thul: It is Alpha Company 2nd Battalion of the 135th Infantry regiment 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls!) of the Minnesota Army National Guard. I should know, I was with them for a few years. Deployed 33 months in a 48 month stretch. In fact, it used to be an Air Assault Battalion but no longer. If you have any more questions about them you could write them maybe. The address is 1346 S. Robert St. West Saint Paul, MN 55118. So there’s that…actually.

  9. Dave Thul says:

    SGT K-
    only Attack! Company calls themselves Alpha Company, the rest of the 2/135 calls them Alpha Battalion. I spent the same 33 months in Charlie Company, now I am in Bravo and have a couple of your former comrades as my team leaders; SGT Gordon and Schmidt.
    No offense on the Alpha Battalion thing, but the rest of the battalion always thought you guys thought too much of yourselves.

  10. Jonn Lilyea says:

    I wonder when Jeff Peskoff (amazing stuff here) is going to start demanding that we submit our assholes for cleanliness inspection.

    “Politics” is the default category for every post. Sometimes we forget to change it before we post, as in this case, mostly because we’re mortal human beings who make mistakes.

    Jeff, I suggest two options for you – join the community and have half-way sane discussions and stop inspecting the blog for irrelevant minutiae about which you can complain, or take your undiagnosed mental illness somewhere else.

  11. amazing stuff here says:


    You make me laugh. I’m serious, some people actually type that their laughing or use the LOL to express it, but I’m actually laughing here.

    Your options blow since it’s impossible to have a “half-way sane discussion” with you all since you people are such hypocrites. You attack liberals for something and then you do the same thing the next day. Such as this post. You put a wounded veteran in the “default catergory”…are you freakin serious. Are you saying that you don’t have a catergory called “Heroic American” or “People we should salute everyday” or maybe something simple as “Veteran”? With your high skills of building a website, it just seems like that would have been way too easy rather than putting this great American in the catergory of “Politics”.

    Undiagnosed mental illness…..your too funny Jonn. Why is it that when you people get beaten up you always name call. Again, isn’t that something that liberals do?

  12. TSO says:

    Oh, I am pretty sure to everyone you have serious mental health issues. How is your blog doing BTW? Have you gotten nominated for awards yet?

  13. Amazing stuff here says:

    Damn Mark, is that really all you got?

    Noticed you still haven’t fixed the catergory…how sad, playing politics with our nation’s heroes

  14. amazing stuff here says:

    wow…I’m famous! Lucky me. I guess someone has to protect our veterans and heroes from people who want to play politics by using them.