Derek Jeter’s web site “The Players’ Tribune” can be a little hit-or-miss, but: 1) overall I’ve been impressed with both the quality and the approach taken by athletes writing for it and 2) I read something there on Monday that is one of my favorite sports pieces that I’ve read all year. Seriously.
I don’t know what I expected when I stumbled upon former NHL player Bryan Trottier’s “Letter to My Younger Self,” but what I ended up getting was something that approaches perfection. His reflection on life growing up in Saskatchewan, using the device of writing to a 10-year-old version of himself 50 years in the past, is honest, funny, touching and so much more.
Two passages I particularly enjoyed:
When you tell people how you learned to skate later in life, they’ll think you’re messing with them. They’re not going to believe how your handyman father would clear off the frozen creek across from your house after a snowstorm. You know how he walks out there at twilight with a big machete and floods the creek by chopping up a beaver dam? That's not a normal thing. Other kids’ dads have Zambonis, or at least a hose. Your dad has a machete and some Canadian know-how.
And this, talking about his infamous rant against Brian Bellows of the North Stars in the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals:
By the mid-2000s, something called YouTube will exist, which will allow pretty much all of recorded human history to be watched by anyone, at any time.
By the late-2000s, this clip will have circulated quite a bit. You’ll go into an elementary school in Minnesota to talk to the kids, and a third grader will yell out, in his little voice …
“Hey Bellows! You’re a superstar, Bellows!”
And you’ll shoot the teacher a nervous glance, praying this kid doesn’t finish your now-semi-famous rant.
So remember, kid: there's always a mic somewhere. Be careful.
I implore you to read the whole thing. I just reread it for the third time. It’s that good.