- May 29, 2001
Kathleen Kelly: You know, I don't really think that HE could be your nephew.
Joe Fox: No, no, no, it's true. Annabelle is my - *aunt*. Isn't that right, Aunt Annabelle?
Annabelle Fox: Uh-huh, and Matt is his...
Kathleen Kelly: Oh wait, wait, wait, let me guess. Are you his uncle?
Matthew Fox: No.
Kathleen Kelly: His grandfather?
[Matt giggles, as he shakes his head]
Kathleen Kelly: His great-grandfather?
Matthew Fox: [laughing] I'm his brother!
Joe Fox: [answering Kathleen's very confused look] Matthew is my father's son, Annabelle is my *grandfather's* daughter. We are... an American family.
On Tuesday afternoon, just a few miles away from the San Francisco airport at a restaurant called Mokutanya, I sat eye to eye with my father, just the two of us, for the first time in my life.
Some of you will know this about me, but many of you will not - I have a complicated relationship with my biological father. He was about to graduate from Baylor in 1975 when he went on a few dates with my mom, who was a junior in high school at Waco Reicher at the time. Somewhere along the way inside of those dates, yours truly was created. While my mom decided to raise me on her own as an 18-year-old high school senior, my dad went off to California and started a new life that was different from anything he'd every known in Texas, eventually emerging as one of the most successful men in the entire high tech world over the last 30 years.
Over the course of the first 37+ years of my life, we'd never met, despite the fact that he paid child support until I was 18 and helped with a year of my college tuition when I was at Texas. While I used to spend weekends with his parents when I was a child, he just never had an interest in really having a relationship with me. Obviously.
All of that changed when my twins arrived in 2014, as we met a few weeks after they were born and he visited them the next day while they were in the NICU. That was followed up with another luncheon with Heather (my wife), Hendrix and Haven roughly two years later . Although we weren't on steady speaking terms, I was under the impression that our relationship was one that was growing, albeit at a very slow burn.
That impression changed in July when my grandfather, who I had spent the last few years redeveloping a relationship with, died in Lakeway about 15 minutes from my house in Cedar Park. Even though my dad had apparently been in town for almost two weeks, he never called me. No one did. Feeling that my grandfather would have wanted me at the funeral, but knowing that every person at the funeral wouldn't have wanted me there, my wife and I sat in our car for nearly two hours on the day of his funeral at his grave-site until everyone left so that we could pay our respects.
In an effort to cut this "Dear Diary" moment as short as possible for you guys reading this, I ended up requesting/demanding a meeting after a series of insulting emails from him that I'm sure weren't meant to be insulting but couldn't be anything but. Anywhere, any place ... just tell me and I'd fly to him for a one-on-one. He suggested we talk on the phone. I told him I deserved an in-person conversation.
So, there I was in San Francisco at a Japanese restaurant that he said had five-star reviews online. Face to face.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that the things he was going to say to me were going to be rough, but damnit, I felt like it was time to stop pussyfooting with the situation and just be real with each other for one time in our lives.
And he got real, telling me over the course of an hour the following:
* Wished I had been aborted and still feels that way today.
* Views me as one of the three worst mistakes of his life (we didn't discuss the other two).
* There will never be a future relationship because it's too much trouble for him and he wouldn't want to have to try to explain me to his friends.
* Basically doesn't view me as his son and certainly not someone he would claim as family.
There was actually a lot more, but I'm sure you'll get the point after those four small examples. Honestly, it was a lot to absorb, especially with nothing but time on my hands in the 8 hours that it took to get back to Austin. It was quite humbling.
Thankfully, I had Orangebloods to lean on and whether I was discussing Longhorn football, Emmitt Smith's place as the best running back of all-time or arguing whether Sadio Mane was a more productive player than Eden Hazard over the last three years in the Premier League, I had our big, crazy dysfunctional crazy-town to lean on as a distraction. Even if I hadn't told anyone I needed the company, the Orangebloods family was there for me in that exact moment of needed companionship.
That truth hit home for me the following day when I was driving down South Lamar past Post South Lamar, which is where our Orangebloods brother Christian Meroney had been murdered earlier this month. When I looked over towards the building as I drove by, I just dropped into a sunken place. It had just been a couple of days before when we all learned that another Orangebloods family member John Ballard McDonald (Orange Turdfrog) had passed away and I felt the full weight of losing them in that moment.
Between the two of them, they'd been on the site with me for more than two decades. That's a long damn time. Believe me, I know what that means in so many ways. There's a lot of life equity on this board. The thing that I love about this wildly chaotic family of ours the most is that when urgent matters call for it, the Orangebloods family responds like a boss every time. EVERY TIME. I might have argued with Christian about the most unimportant things on a daily basis, but if I was ever in need, I feel like there's no question he'd be there. I know I would have been there for him. Numbers greater than we can count would have.
It dawned on me while I was at a stoplight on South Lamar, pushed to the brink of tears, that Orangebloods is the modern-day American family. It doesn't make sense that this community has emerged into something bigger than a mere message board, but my Orangebloods family has been there for me in ways that my "real family" has never and will never be there.
Over the course of the last two decades, this family of ours has changed the scope of my entire life. I met my wife on the eve of the 2005 Big 12 title game because of this place. People who stood next to me at my wedding were introduced through this place. Hell, my son's name came from a post I made asking for suggestions.
All of this leads me to this morning when I woke up to see a thread posted by @hornsfan65 called "Adios." Inside of that thread, an Orangebloods family member seemed to be leaving a bit of a suicide note. Overwhelmed with all of the loss in his life, the indications were given that he was going to take is life and he wanted to thank the Orangebloods family for being there for him. In a panic, I did what I could to help and just hoped that the pleading from the members of the board would lead him to give it just one more day. I prayed that he'd let us lift him up like so many others have been lifted up over the last two decades, myself included.
The pleading and the prayers failed, as it was confirmed by his wife on Sunday morning that Bryce had taken his life. Alone in his car, his last words were directed towards the Orangebloods family that he loved and appreciated. Left behind is a wife and an 11-year old son that will never have their husband and father again, respectively.
It's just devastating in so many ways. It's as this point that I'm kind of out of words because I don't know what to say.
We've lost three Orangebloods family members in the last month and we can't get so much as another hour with any of them, which is haunting. More than anything, I just want to let anyone else on this site that is feeling the types of pressure that @hornfan65 was feeling to know that we're all here for each other. I'm here for you. Your Orangebloods family is for you.
I've known all of this before, but it hit home hard in the last few days.
In a week when the definitions of what is and isn't family in my life have been firmly defined, I want to express by undying gratitude to my Orangebloods family. I don't know what I'd ever do without you.
Even if some of you are like the uncle we all want to hide in another room away from the family at Thanksgiving dinner, you're still my family. I started this section with a movie reference and I'm going to end it with one.
No. 2 - Three Biggest Takeaways From The First Three Days ...
* This true freshman class is going to make a much bigger impact this season than most people are probably expecting, and that includes myself. In addition to Caden Sterns (more on him in a bit), Brennan Eagles is working with the second-team offense, Junior Angilau has made a bigger first impression than any other first-year lineman in the program thus far (yes, that includes Calvin Anderson) and Ayodele Adeoye continues to look like a guy that will be starting sooner than later in his career. Every dude that was recruited in the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes better understand that it's now or never... or risk getting passed by a younger player. Talented freshmen are everywhere and they are going to play, new rule that allows every freshman four games to play with or not.
* Texas doesn't have five good offensive linemen yet, so Herb Hand is giving everyone a chance to make a case for themselves. In an ideal world, you're not shuffling guys all over the place across first-team and second-team roles in August, but the status quo from last season (and even this spring) just isn't good enough. It's possible that we need to throw away any predispositions we might have had about the make-up of the starting line going into the season in the trash can because it sure seems like Hand has.
* Sam Ehlinger will have to have a really poor camp to lose the starting quarterback job. When Herman announced that Ehlinger had earned the right to take the first reps with the first-team offense, he was telling us that separation on the scoreboard has taken place. What I find fascinating about the job security at the position is that it might be a little like the job security Tyrone Swoopes had going into the 2016 season. Bottom line - Sam better player well in the first half against Maryland. If he does that, he might just run away from everyone for the next few seasons. If he doesn't, Herman will almost certainly play another option. When you have four guys and they can all play without consequence, a head coach's patience will only last so long.
No. 3 - "I JOG FASTER THAN CALVIN ANDERSON AND I HAD MY KNEE REPLACED SIX MONTHS AGO!!"...
If you missed it in Alex's notes from Sunday, this was a quote from Herb Hand at practice while the offensive line was jogging from one section of the practice fields to another.
Subtle. I like it. Sounds like Calvin needs to pick up his pace.
Quote of the Year at this point.
No. 4 - My possible big dose of hyperbole in the column ...
Caden Sterns might be the best player in this program before we get to December.
I've spent all weekend thinking about it and I can't remember the last time a true freshman started the first game of the season in the secondary, let alone took the very first rep in August with the first-team defense. I ran every name I could think of through my brain and couldn't think of anyone. So, I looked it up.
Didn't happen last year, obviously. Or 2016. Or 2015. Or 2014. Or 2013. Or 2012. Or 2011. Or 2010. Or 2009.
While I thought I might go into the last century, it turns out the last defensive back to start a game as a true freshman was Blake Gideon. I totally forgot that. No one else has done it this century. I stopped looking at some point in the Mackovic years, with the point being that it doesn't happen very often firmly established.
The metrics from the last decade suggest that Sterns entered college with anywhere between a 65-75 percent chance of one day emerging as a player that will be drafted by an NFL team. Unless injuries occur, he looks like a guy that will start every game of his career and emerge as a legit awards candidate in very short time.
Sterns is what it looks like when a five-star player goes boom and you can't have enough of them.
No. 5 - Riddle me this...
I penned a small story for @TicketCity this week detailing the top 5 rivalries in the Big 12 going into the season.
Man, once you get beyond Texas/OU and Bedlam, it's pretty slim pickings - Baylor vs TCU, Texas vs. Texas Tech and Kansas vs. Kansas State were the other three I selected.
It's a pretty gross list if you think about it for more than three seconds. Can anyone argue for another Big 12 rivalry that warrants bumping one of those three out?
No. 6 - Story-time with Uncle Ketch...
Sometimes we can all use a reminder that the players on the Texas football team are all a bunch of kids. Oh, maybe some of them are young adults by the time they leave, but at the age of 42, they all look like a bunch of kids to me.
Don't ask me why this story stands out in my head after all of these years, but there are so many small lessons inside of it.
It was the summer of 2002 and one of the young players on the Texas roster called me to ask if I knew someone that would want to buy his Big 12 Championship ring. I told him that I didn't know of anyone that was into that kind of thing and that even if I did, I wouldn't tell him because I thought it was a huge mistake. Still, the player argued with me that he had financial issues and he needed the money.
Then he said something I've never forgotten.
"What's the big deal? It's just a Big 12 South ring," he told me. "I'll replace it next year with a conference championship ring."
So, he sold the ring for $150. Twelve months later, he was no longer in the program and he never played another down of major college football. As it turns out, that ring was the only ring he ever earned as a college athlete.
The big financial issue that he sold his ring over?
He had to pay his cell phone bill.
No. 7 – Buy or Sell …
BUY or SELL: By the bowl game, the best QB on the roster will be a freshman?
(Sell) I'm buying stock in Ehlinger very quietly right now.
BUY or SELL: Sam finishes the year with a higher QB rating than Kyler?
(Sell) I believe in Lincoln Riley's offense more at the moment than I do Tom Herman's. If forced to give one unproven side a little more benefit of the doubt, I have to give it to the guy without identity issues with his offensive unit.
BUY or SELL: There will be plenty of college coaches/programs who will still care too much about winning, therefor this Urban Meyer scandal won’t be near the last one we see?
(Buy) This is what the sausage looks like when it's being made. I stopped believing that nice guys in this sport is possible when the supposedly super-character guy Chris Peterson covered for Art Briles when the Baylor scandal was really taking off. The coaches in the profession are more Silk Road than Main Street in Maybarry.
BUY or SELL: Buy or Sell: With the Longhorns being ranked in the Top 25 to start the season, being ranked in the Top 10 at some point this season is a real possibility?
(Buy) I think a 3-0 start will have them just on the cusp of the Top 10.
BUY or SELL: if Texas Defense improves from last years play and has no major injuries and on offense we manage 210 rushing and 240 passing per game we have a shot at 10 wins?
(Buy) You just described a Big 12 championship team.
BUY or SELL: It’s the fall of 2006, Colt is not on the team, but all 4 current scholarship QBs are (in their current stage of development). You would start Buechele on that team?
(Sell) I start the better, more dynamic option, which at the moment is Sam Ehlinger.
BUY or SELL: We suck until we don't?
(Buy) Hold the rope, fellas.
BUY or SELL: As tragic as it would be, Meyer's PR group and blame machine has done enough to keep him at tOSU?
(Sell) This story is going to be a slow, incredibly messy drip. He's a liar and the answers to so many questions simply won't allow it.
BUY or SELL: at pressers, Austin media and sports media will keep raising the issue of Zach Smith and what Herman and his tOSU assistants knew about the situation until they answer the questions straight on?
(Sell) Not unless a reason for those questions develops. It seems to me that Herman has been given a pass on this subject for the most part.I haven't heard that it's been asked about in the last two media sessions that he has participated in from the weekend.
BUY or SELL: Liverpool win the EPL this season?
No. 8 – Eternal Randomness of the Spotty Sports Mind …
... I'm trying to charge my NFL jets, but I just can't seem to shake the cobwebs. I need to set up my fantasy league this year. Just doing one. I'll do my best to be an A-plus commish.
... I had no desire to watch Ray Lewis' 33-minute HOF speech. No thanks.
... Cody Garbrandt needs to move along and forget that he ever tried to cross T.J. Dillashaw. That beef is officially settled.
... I'm still trying top process Mighty Mouse losing. It was a close fight, but I thought the judges got it right.
... Can we just see the Red Sox and Astros play a best of 11 series in October, please?
... I really can't explain my Phillies and how they are in first place. Five in a row and just cruising along at 15 games over .500. No way did I think this was a 90-win team... assuming it gets there.
... The Astros have a 141 run edge over the Athletics in run-differential, but only have a 4.5 game lead in the standings. Baseball can be so weird.
... Consider me Team LeBron forever after watching him unveil his new school for at-risk youth this week.
... There's a part of me that thinks Jalen Hurts is starting at Texas next year.
... Liverpool is going to win the EPL title. Man City is going to play in the Champions League Final.
... Josef Martinez has 26 goals in 24 games for Atlanta United in the MLS. I'm curious to see what happens to the 25-year old Venezuelan from here on out because I'd argue the MLS needs him to succeed in Europe moving forward more than it needs him to be the league's best player.
No. 9 - The List: Top 10 Cover Songs That Are Better than The Original ...
10. Al Green - How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
9. Sinead o'Connor - Nothing Compares to You
8. Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee
7. The Beatles - Twist and Shout
6. Ike and Tina Turner - Proud Mary
5. Johnny Cash - Hurt
4. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
3. Jimi Hendrix - All Along The watch Tower
2. Nirvana - Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
1. Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
No. 10 – And Finally ...
Rest in peace, @hornsfan65