After a seven week absence, Irish Jack returns with his first blog of the New Year.
I kind of went on the disabled list there for several weeks after brecoming ill and undergoing major surgery. I
just didn’t have the push to blog or even respond or send e-mails.
I;m feeling good again and raring to go with my weekly blog. Sorry for just disappearing for nearly two months.
Irish Jack returns with a bang on Saturday Jan. 7.
A tribute to my friend Tom Mills
To say I was upset over the passing of New Castle’s Tom Mills on Dec. 6 would be an understatement.
I first got to know Tom while writing stories about his amazing small bowel (stomach) intestinal trasplant on St. Patrick’s Day, seven years ago.
The thing is while the transplant saved his life and gave him a better quality of life at the time, medical complications affec4ed him for the next several years.
The past two years Tom spent more time in the hospital (University of Pittsburgh, Christiana and Wilmington Hospitals) than he did at home with wife Terri and the children they both love so much.
The real story about Tom Mills is the inspiration he was to literally hundreds of people. If you met Tom Mills just once he was sure to touch your life.
Tom was one of the bravest, kindest, caring persons I have ever met.
Tom loved coaching field hockey and softball at the high school level.
Until his health prevented him from coaching on a regular basis he was on his way to completely turning around the Delcastle High field hockey program.
He started out with just a junior varsity program and had put together a competitive varsity team before illness forced him to give up that position.
Tom Mills was a difference maker. He afected young people (high school athletes) in a good, positive way. There aren’t that many coaches, teachers and other adults with that gift.
Just two days before he passed away several girls who had played for him at Delcastle came to visit Tom one last time. His wife told me it was quite an emotional moment for these young ladies who loved Mills as a coach, and more important as a man who cared about them as a person.
Tom was not a complainer, although he suffered a great deal.
I learned so much about life and faith in God from Tom. He had a strong trust and deep ties to his Catholic faith.
After I came home from the hospital myself in late November, I wasn’t checking my e-mails. Finally, I did that and there were three calls from Tom. Each time his voice much weaker that the previous call.
I panicked and then talked to his wife and realized how bad the situation had become.
I am so grateful to Terri and the Mills family for letting my wife and I visit Tom just hours before he passed away. I cried like a baby, knowing I was about to lose a trueand lasting friend.
Tom Mills went from being a coach I wrote about, who had this remarkable transplant, to a man I would trust my life to. What a great human being.
Most of all Tom loved his wife Terri dearly and cherished his children, grandchildren, and niece and nephew
. Even though his medical bills piled up and piled up, with little help given to him bny the state or other organizations who should have been there to help this family, he kept on battling. Tom and his wife continued to raise and have custody of their two grandchildren and a gread niece and nephew.
They not only gave them undying love, but kept them fed, healthy and attending school.
One person who should be mentioned and commended is StateSsenator Karen Peterson of Newark. Thanks to her help and intervention, Tom was able to received a much needed operation last year at the University of Pittsburgh.
While Delaware and Pennsylvania argued over whose health insurance were going to pay for it, Peterson was there to make it possible. And she isn’t even in Tom’s New Castle district. This is one politician who stepped up to the plate and answered the call.
I knpow first hand how much Tom appreciated her help.
Tom Mills was an orphan, raised at the prominent Hershey School in Hershey, Pa.
Several of the men he went through Hershey with were at his funeral Mass. His brother and great friend Billy gave some moving comments about the man they loved and respected.
Tom Mills- you are the best. You will always remain in my heart. A winning coach at all levels, especially in the game of life.
Way to go Jeffrey Lurie
I would like to comment on the press conerence owner Jeffrey Lurie had with the media earlier this week, announcing Andy Reid would return for a 14th season as Eagles head football coach.
It’s no secret that about 95 persent of the media (print, TV and those wonderful talk show hosts) want Reid out and out now as coach.
Even though I think it might be a good time for a change, I’m glad it didn’t happen for two reasons.
Firest and foremost I think Reid deserves another year to try and right the ship and get the Eagles back in contention for the 2013 Sup0er Bowl.
But, maybe the biggest thrill I had was the way Lurie stuck it to the media.
Through the first part of his press conference he went on about how upset he was with the just completed 8-8 season that left a team with high expectations (starting the season) out of the plauyoffs.
The tone of his comments made a great deal of the media wondering if he really would pull the plug. They sure were hoping so.
Then, Lurie came up with the big curveball and announced he wanted Reid back next season.
Geez, guys, that’s a shame you didn’t get to trash Reid a little more in your columns, talk shows and TV reports when he was down and out of a job.
The thing is,if Reid is fired next year, he’ll have another job as quickly as he wants one.
Despite the major disappointments of not winning a Super Bowl and only reaching the big game once, Reid is recognized as one of the best coaches in pro football.
The Philadelphia media (which includes my former employer the News Journal) thinks he is arrogant, clueless in many coaching situations.
]Unfortunately, most Eagles fans, these so called-die-hard young fan base, trash him every chance they get.
I was a mmbher of the sports media for over 40 years. I have a great deal of respc6t for my collegues at the News Journal (even though we don’t always agree) and many of the Philly media.
Talk show host are another matter. Their job most of the time is to be negative, especially when a team doesn’t reach expectations.
I get so sick of all the negativity that I turn them off almost as quickly as I put the station on the radio.
I used to love to listen to sports talk and criticism is part of the game. I did some of it myself during my career.
But, to constantly do it, is down right depressing for me after awhile. And I’m not so sure these so called experts really know that much about what they are talking about.
So, while so,me media types called Lurie gutless for not making the move, jhe’s my sports hero for the week. And, owners don’t usually get that call from me very often.
Way to gpo Andy. Now, lets get this team on the right track and make a run next year.
Thing is, if Reid doesn’t make the Super Bowl and win it, these media types will still want him out. Reid can handle all that. He’s been doing it for 13 years in Philly and that says something about the man.