Extra Points: Giving Thanks
This year has been tougher than most in many ways, but I've still got plenty of reasons to be thankful.
It's been almost a year since my former employer informed me that my position as sports columnist/writer was being eliminated, thus ending a 34-year tenure with the company.
A few tears were shed, a few colorful phrases were uttered, a few margaritas were downed. But then came the realization that when that door on Washington Avenue in Pleasantville closed, many more were just waiting to be opened. And so many of you were willing to follow me through the portals.
Your response to my Extra Points blog and Facebook page has been nothing short of amazing.
I've been overwhelmed by those of you who have continued to read my columns and stories about sports and life. Ditto for my Tequila and Touchdowns podcast, though my offkey ditties at the end of each episode no doubt cause you to cringe.
In the spirit of the day, I'd like to give thanks to so many people who reached out.
Whether it was a job offer or simply a kind word of encouragement, they were all equally appreciated.
Here, in alphabetical order, are just a few folks who have gone above and beyond:
*John and Ann Baker, for their words of support and encouragement for over 30 years. One of my first stories was about their daughter Sarah, who was an outstanding rower for Holy Spirit High School and Boston University, in the late 1980s.
*John Cooke, who has been a tremendous help to me with Extra Points. He encouraged me to create the blog and has always been willing to help out, whether it means meeting at his home or at the Sea Crest Inn, where he serves as manager.
*Scott Cronick, who invited me to be a weekly guest on his radio show on 1400 WOND every Tuesday. Scott's Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City is also an advertiser on my blog. As of a few weeks ago, I'm also writing columns for his weekly publications.
*Edward Gibbons, for his lifelong friendship. Edward and I grew up together in Cape May and the bond has never been broken. I could always count on his father, the late Mr. Harry Gibbons, to send me a letter every year with his thoughts on the Eagles and Donovan "McNut."
*Mike Gill and Josh Hennig of 97.3 ESPN. Mike was the first to reach out and offer me a columnist spot on the station's web site, 973ESPN.com, for which I will be forever grateful. Josh has made "Weinberg Wednesdays" a regular part of his show.
*Jehovanny Nunez, for his advice on podcasts and tequila. Jehovanny, owner of Antonjo's Mexican dessert cafe, was my first advertiser on my blog and later urged me to create Tequila and Touchdowns. He* even took the cover photo for the podcast. We've also been known to share a shot of tequila or two.
*Leanne and Steve Scheff. They are charter members of the Margarita Tour and Movin' On Up Trivia team, but more importantly have been near and dear friends of ours for decades. Leanne came up with the brilliant idea of doing a Polar Bear Dip on New Year's Day last January. I'm still shivering.
*Tom and Stephanie Shagren. Our son Kyle and their son Chad have been close friends for almost 30 years. The same goes for us. "Shag" and I have an ongoing golf bet in which whoever has the fewest putts in a round wins a dollar. We've been doing it for 20 years. I think I'm up $2. We've also played a few hands of three-card poker in A.C. over the years. I think I'm down more than $2.
*Frank and Ellen Smith. "Tater" and I have been friends since Kindergarten. He was the best man at our wedding in 1982 and I served the same role at theirs a few years later. In both cases, we shared a drink from a shoe belonging to my sister-in-law Kim. It's a long story.
*Karen, Ashley, Kyle and the rest of the Weinberg family. Even if we're hundreds of miles apart, you have always been there for me.
Normally, this is a day spent with my family. For us, that usually means an unopened bottle of Manischewitz as an homage to Karen's late mother, a slab of butter shaped like a turkey, and the retelling of legendary stories.
For the last few years, it's included chasing grandchildren around the house.
In the years that we serve as hosts, dinner requires all children and grandchildren to sit at the kids' table, regardless of age. Daughter Ashley (37), son Kyle (35), nephew Charles (37), and niece Emily (24) eat dinner next to grandsons Hampton (4) and Graham (2) and sister-in-law Peggy's grandson Charlie (4). Her grandaughter Piper (1 1/2) would have been there for the first time this year.
Covid-19 ruined the tradition this year.
Concerns about the virus have split the family into small groups. Ashley will be the only one joining Karen and I this year.
But we're still making her sit at the kids' table.