Doug Blevins/Ken Caminiti

Doug Blevins has cerebral palsy and lives in a wheelchair. Doug Blevins is a coach in the NFL. His goal was always to work in football and he found a way to do it. When he was growing up he started paying close attention to kickers and realized that quarterbacks have coaches, defensive ends have coaches, linemen have coaches, hey, even the long snapper has coaching. But not the kicker. He’s on his own. So Doug started studying kicking in excruciating detail and became an expert at it. Kickers turned up at his house for individual coaching and he would ride his electric wheelchair around and around them suggesting a six inch adjustment here and a slightly different step there hoping that they could take his teaching into the last few minutes of a Super Bown and kick the winning field goal. At least one of them has, twice: Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots. Doug now coaches kickers for the Minnesota Vikings and coaches privately.

Two things come to mind about Doug Blevins. I told you before, I’m only an E level tennis player and it’s obnoxious of me to tell you how I think you should play your game but if Doug Blevins can tell kickers how to kick, then I feel better about the possibility that you could learn something from me.

The other thing that comes to mind is the contrast in lives between Doug Blevins and Ken Caminiti. Ken had a distinguished career in Major League Baseball including an MVP year by unanimous vote in 1996. He battled alcoholism and cocaine addiction for much of his life and died at age 41 of a drug overdose two days ago. One man can’t even take a shower by himself and the other was one of the most physically talented athletes on earth. Everybody has their own way of getting through life, their own way of dealing with the bruising kicks life throws at you, the strings of disappointments that come your way.

I remember a Phil Donahue show long ago with couples as guests where one member of each couple was a transexual. One guest received a fair amount of fury from the audience because she had abandoned her son from a previous marriage. It was interesting to see that the members of the audience who were older and had suffered the most adversity in their life were the most accepting. Some of the younger audience members were outrageously angry and intolerant.

I’m sad about Ken Caminiti, I’m also angry about the endless number of people with addictive problems with far fewer resources that our country fails every day, but how can I judge any of them? I’m even struggling with great disappointment in myself at the moment so I can hardly say what Ken Caminiti or anyone else should have done with their life. I’m just sad, that’s all.