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When I'm Wrong, I'm Wrong

Many thanks to all of you who have sent your condolences after the debacle that was last night's game. I appreciate your sentiments. Our local news this morning declared that "tens of thousands of Steelers fans are now in mourning." While that may be true, I am not one of them.

If anything, this season has been a season of pleasant surprises and the Steelers proving me wrong. I would have never thought they would make the playoffs this year, so I'm willing to be content with that much. I was also proven mostly wrong on the hiring of Mike Tomlin. (I say "mostly" because there was that one play last night where they went for it on fourth and goal, even after the penalty. At that moment, I do admit I might have been perhaps yelling something to the effect of "LOOK AT THE CLOCK! There's no hurry. Ron Rivera wouldn't be doing that, you bonehead. I can't believe . . . I TOLD YOU SO! Tomlin, you suck!" There may or may not have been a few more expletives thrown into that statement, but you get the idea.) There is also one individual that proved me wrong on such a grand scale that I think he may just have been doing it just to spite me.

That individual would be James Harrison. If you are not in the football know, James Harrison is a defensive player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was not drafted, but rather had to prove his worth through numerous tryouts to make the team as a walk-on (that almost never happens). Not only did he make the team a few years ago, this year he became a starter (happens even less often). He kicked butt on such grand scale this year that he will be going to the Pro Bowl (the odds at this point are astronomical).

Before he was a Steeler, Harrison went to Kent State. Guess what . . . me too! At Kent State, Harrison was a student athlete and took a few Economics classes. Wouldn't you know it . . . I was an Economics tutor for the athletic department! So anyway, I was Harrison's Econ tutor for two semesters. I actually tutored quite a few KSU football players. I would characterize Harrison as the one that made the most lasting impression.

Making a lasting impression in that arena requires a bit of skill, you should know. I had the lovely experience of being asked numerous times for copies of tests, asked if I could just sit in on the class for somebody and do the test for them, and I even had one guy who was obviously illiterate and really didn't care. Harrison fell into none of those categories of lazy and "too big" to care. No, he made an impression for an entirely different reason.

The dude ain't too bright.

Now, that sentence looks all mean, but really it's a dramatic understatement. I have never met anyone else with such an inability to learn and remember things. The guy really did not belong in college at all. He just wasn't made to sit in a classroom and learn. I was not at all shocked when he showed up, six weeks into the semester, with the Microeconomics book when he was taking Macroeconomics. I was actually kind of impressed he managed to find a book with "economics" in the title. I had a nickname for him, "Rockhead."

I should mention that he knew I called him Rockhead. It wasn't a secret at all. In fact, we spent an entire session one time discussing whether or not he had a Plan B. In my mind, if you're going to Kent State, you probably aren't going to be headed to the NFL. KSU won a whopping four games the first year I tutored Harrison, and that was nothing short of a miracle; it was the winningest season they had had in a while. So for me to say KSU football players don't go to the pros is a pretty acceptable statement. I figured it might be a good idea for Harrison to think about what he would do if he didn't make it to the NFL.

He said he was going to the NFL. Period.

There was some back and forth and eventually I let up. I just didn't see how a guy who thought a pie graph sounded delicious could ever learn to play at a professional level. I mean, think about it, there is a certain level of intelligence required to learn defensive schemes and play-calling. I did not think Harrison had it in him.

Obviously, I was wrong--BIG TIME. I don't think I was wrong that the guy struggles to learn, but I definitely underestimated the power of hard-work, perseverance, and sheer determination. Dude worked his butt off and is reaping the rewards. Every single time I see Rockhead beat down the opposition, I'm reminded of just how hard I know he has worked to get there.

Thanks for a great year, James. I promise to stop calling you "Rockhead" now.

(Y'know, that picture would be a million times better if you could see that I'm wearing my Harrison jersey, and if there weren't a freakin' naked baby doll in it. Gah! Toddlers and their stripping ruin all the best photos.)

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Reader Comments (25)

When the Steelers lost, you were the first thought that went through my mind. I think I've told you before, the Steelers are our second favorite team (behind the Packers). But when Cowher retired, *le sigh*, things just haven't been the same...

I know you know this!

January 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMamaGeek

i'm so sorry that they lost...i didn't even know there was a baseball game going on (just kidding...i know that they are a soccer team!! ;) )
but...what a cute kid!!!

January 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersuchsimplepleasures

that's about the only advantage to having boys...very few naked babydolls when they're toddlers. Now when they're teenagers, well...I'll just shuttup and go to bed now.

January 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

I still think it's a great picture. Just wait until the dolls are naked and headless...ah yes, the Barbie years.

Sorry they lost...

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Okay, I already sent my condolences on the loss, so I'm going to focus on the rest of this post...that I LOVED!! I even read it to Jon (something I never do)! We both loved it!!

I know I'm a dork, but I think you should send it to your local paper...seriously!! It's wonderfully written, has a great story and a GREAT ending. Love it, love it, love it!!!!

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCecily R

Steelers loss aside, (and belive me, I'm sympathetic as the stupid Redskins lost as well, creating a pall of death in my household yesterday) if its ok with you, I'd like to share this story with my oldest son. He struggles beyond belief with math (in fact, just got the first semester report card, and he didn't pass the class despite how hard he worked!), and in the last couple of months has begun to doubt that he will ever have a chance to go pro if he can't manage to grasp algebra. This whole story struck me as something that could be very inspiring to him, and quite possibly give him some more hope and encouragement to keep trying.

Soooooo, that'd be ok, right? :)

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sports Mama

What a great post! And what an interesting fact about you, too. I worry sometimes about all these college athletes, some of whom don't belong there. Or the guys who quit college early to turn pro. What is their Plan B if they get injured, etc? I'm sorry the Steelers lost, but here's to next year!

By the way, maybe we can alternate days being lilsexy! That was hilarious.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMadame Queen

Not only is there a naked baby doll in that pic, but it's MOONING the camera!!

Btw, the Patriots rule the world so perhaps you should start rooting for them!!


I love stories about people suprising everyone. So cool that he accomplished what he set out to, despite his, uh..limitations.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Hallie, Hallie, Hallie . . . What are we going to do with you . . .

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby's Mom

Oh, they lost? Who knew?! Okay, obviously everyone but me. My husband doesn't even bother to try to keep me informed anymore. I"m so pathetic on the sports front. I'm sorry, because they are the team that I like most. (I recognize the colors - woohoo!!)

How wonderful that someone could triumph over such odds and become so successful. And you had a hand in it!

And I love your room decor. I do notice things like that. Our kitchen is the same color yellow and it's just so cheery and bright.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I seriously doubt I had a hand in James' success. He worked his butt off, plain and simple.

I love the yellow, too, but I'm thinking of replacing it with a nice, boring tan since we're thinking of selling in the next year. Painting three rooms with a Toddler around just sounds like so much fun!

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby's Mom

I seriously said, "Oh, Pup, what a miserable game. It's almost as bad as that game the Oilers were beating the Bills by 35 in the first half & then LOST in 93. Poor Burgh." When you make a great comeback & then fall short? UGH!!

Way to make it James. Pup remembers a similar story with an Irish player. Some no name who picked up a girl by saying, "Hi, would you like to go to a affalete party? I'm an affalete. Affaletes will be there."

I'm with Karen. I couldn't stop staring at your chair! I'm in love with that color combo right now -- yellow/red.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMadame Queen

I thought about you on Sunday morning (in a total non-sexual way) when I found out the Steelers lost.

What a fantastic story you have though. Talk about having a real investment in the team!

Well, at least now you can root for the Cowboys with me, right? Right?!?

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCatwoman

I'm so sorry for the loss :( ....on the bright side, you look fabulous in that jersey. With naked doll and everything :)

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSandy C.

Oh goodness,me. I must share this with the hub. He's going to adore this story as much as I do. We're both still mourning, ourselves. Tomlin I think did a great job, but I, too, was freakin' at the same play (or two perhaps). *sigh*

Hallie... child... we're going to have to sit you down and have 'that talk' aren't we....

I was thinking of you too when I learned that they lost. I see you didn't get your hopes up, like I did mine by my beloved and sucky Redskins, only to be crushed. Sigh...

Great story though. I love to hear about people who really work hard to make it! :)

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercaramama

This is an awesome story... Except for the beginning, of course, when you reminded me of the misery of this weekend... But really awesome story. I'm forwarding the link to this post on to all of my Steelers lovin' friends... Too cool.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterluckysevn

OMG I know nothing about football. It is football the Steelers play right?

Now, let's talk about something important, like HOCKEY!! :)

Love the picture though, naked baby and all.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne

In my mind, hockey season started today, so we can do that. Have I ever mentioned that I have a crush on Sydney Crosby? (Thank goodness he's finally legal and I can say that in writing without the cops showing up at my doorstep.)

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby's Mom

There is always hockey to watch and cheer for. I'm a Montreal Canadians fan, but I'm from Canada and it's a rule here that you have to cheer for Montreal or Toronto. LOL!

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

I'm with you - even if the Steelers won this last game....I didn't see them winning after that. So I wasn't heartbroken with the loss. I was heartbroken with the WAY they lost though. Going for 2 when you are 12 yards away with 10 minutes left....not sure I would have made that call. Then, again, I do teach 2nd grade...not pro football.

That was a great story about Harrison. I can't believe all the experiences you have had! I am jealous with a capital J!

Now my football obsession will have to carry on while I watch Friday Night Lights...that Tim Riggins is so misunderstood. (okay- if you don't watch the show...just ignore that!)

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Oh, I loved that story. How very interesting! Maybe next year they'll win. Perseverance, you know.

January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShellie

That is such a great story! And perhaps you can feel you had a small role in helping him to get where he is today.
I was actually rooting for the Steelers (I am a die-hard Packer fan), and I am sorry for the loss. Way to look at it in a positive light!

January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

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