The Cat’s out of the bag

My friend and co-worker Brian has an interesting side hustle. He prowls the sidelines of NFL games as “Who Dey” – the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals.

He’s been “dressing up as a fake tiger” (his words, not mine) for more than 20 years — he’s getting a bit long in the fang for the mascot game. This feat is quite impressive when you consider how much of a physical workout it is. (Brian said on warmer game days, he’ll sweat off 10 pounds or more.)

And it’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that the Bengals were… let me put this politely… not good for much of his tenure. It can’t be much fun trying to fire up a sparse crowd — many of whom were probably rooting for the opposing team — during a 2-14 season.

I’m glad the Tiger tables have turned. If things go the Bengals way this Sunday, Brian will be going to the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row. Not bad for a side hustle. Or should I say “fur” a side hustle?

Xavier University’s website has a great profile of Brian here.

While he was in college, he was leading a mascot double life, as the “Blue Blob” mascot at Xavier sporting events, as well as doing his Who Dey thing.

And because Brian’s a natural ham, I cast him in a bunch of fun videos that I’ve scripted for our company over the years. One of my favorites was a buddy cop spoof — Brian and I were “Ham” and “Cheese” respectively, for obvious reasons.

In that video, we poked fun at some of the more arcane rules in the employee handbook, like “no t-shirts with inappropriate slogans” for our in-house fitness center. Here’s a quick clip from that:

I’m glad Brian’s still having fun hamming it up as Who Dey. Here’s hoping we see him at Super Bowl LVII in a few weeks!

Be a Team Player: Be a blockhead!

The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday night. The winning touchdown was an amazing (and amazingly rare) play: a 98-yard fumble recovery by a defensive lineman. Local boy Sam Hubbard made the heads-up score:

But something happened on that play that happens all the time in NFL games, and it drives me bonkers.

Look at Sam when he starts his rumble: he’s got three teammates nearby, with two opponents trailing them.

The teammates just run alongside Sam Hubbard. As if they think the Bengals will get bonus points if four guys reach the end zone. (Spoiler: they won’t.) This happens all the time on turnovers… teammates run alongside the dude with the ball.

Instead of forming a convoy, they should turn around and block one of the pursuing opponents:

At midfield, one teammate is even clapping – I think he wants Sam to lateral the ball to him… Save your clapping, pal, and put your pads on a Raven.

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews busted his butt trying to catch up to Hubbard. Sam’s teammates finally try to block him, but they’re lucky they didn’t get called for a block in the back – which would’ve negated the score.

I see this all the time in games. And a lot of times, an opponent actually catches up to, and tackles, the runner, while the runner’s teammates do nothing to impede the tackler’s progress.

Running alongside the guy with the ball does no good…. you can celebrate with your teammate all you want AFTER you block the only guys with a chance of tackling him.

Thus sayeth Grandpa, the team player. Now get off my lawn!

Happy Friday!


“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country

If you’re happy and you know it… appreciate it. (And go ahead and clap your hands too. We wouldn’t want that nursery rhyme that’s been stuck in your head all these years to go to waste.)

Read (and write) all about it

From Seth Godin’s daily blog:

Our dreaming opportunity

School and work push us to avoid real dreams. Dreamers are dangerous, impatient and unwilling to tolerate the status quo. Existing systems would prefer we simply fit in.

The dreams we need to teach are the dreams of self-reliance and generosity. The only way for us to move forward is to encourage and amplify the work of people who are willing to learn, to see and to commit to making things better.

It turns out that reading and writing are the cornerstones of this practice, now more than ever. These are the two skills most likely to produce exponential results.

The effective writer can see their ideas spread to a hundred people overnight, or perhaps a million. Writing is still the bedrock tool we use to codify and share ideas, and it forces us to organize our thoughts.

But we can’t say it until we see it, which requires the commitment to reading and understanding, combined with the guts to dream and to lead.

Find the others, see the problem, and then decide to do something about it.

Great stuff, as always, from Seth. Reading expands your worldview. And the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s never been harder to carve out time for reading… but if you do, it’s never been easier to publish your thoughts.

Be Batty

I spent many a childhood summer in Houston, Texas, so I know it gets plenty hot there. (Thankfully, I could cool off in the Memorial West pool that my Aunt Virginia and Uncle Don belonged to.)

But Houston had a cold snap before Christmas, and bats were dropping like flies.

Photo credit: Mary Warwick, in the Washington Post

So what did Mary Warwick , executive director of the Houston Humane Society TWRC Wildlife Center, do? She started gathering up the unresponsive bats.

She collected 138 the first day. Each night for the next several days, she rescued more. Others heard about her efforts and pitched in. These Mexican free-tailed bats are important to the ecosystem – they eat a lot of mosquitoes and other bugs.

By Christmas night, Warwick said she had more than 1,500 bats hanging inside dog kennels in her attic. 

Most folks I know — myself included — would freak out about even a single bat in our house. But Mary knew these creatures needed help and she took action. Some of the rescued bats didn’t survive, but most did, and have been returned to their colonies in Houston.

I’m sure Mary Warwick could think of several other things to do in the days leading up to Christmas. But she knew nothing was more important than saving those bats. It’s work like this that can help save the planet we all share (humans and bats alike).

If you’re not a Batman or a Batwoman, there’s still probably something you’re passionate about, where your efforts can make a difference. It could be pet rescue, or bike paths, or park preservation, or planting trees, or preserving greenspace, or _______. And when the bat-signal goes out, I hope you’ll be batty enough to take action.

[The full Washington Post story about Mary Warwick’s rescue efforts is here.]

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