He Guards It With His Life — The Stanley Cup, That Is

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Talk about a fun job.

Mike Bolt, 41, a Toronto native, is one of four “keepers of the cup” — who spends his life guarding, and traveling with, the Stanley Cup.

From the Vancouver Sun:

You can touch the Cup. You can even kiss it. But you can’t hoist it over your head unless you have actually won it.

And there are places the Cup can’t go any more, like to strip joints or casinos.

In these days of instant Internet photography, a picture could be flashed around the world with the Cup next to a nude stripper. That would never do. It also can’t be used for corporate promotions, although charities are OK. Bolt has to act as a quasi-policeman, while ensuring that everyone has a good time with the Cup.

You might think Bolt has a glamorous job, traveling around the world with the hockey icon that is almost instantly recognizable even to people who wouldn’t know the Atlanta Thrashers from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the 11 years he has been doing Cup duty he has missed out on special occasions with friends and family, often gets little sleep and catches meals on the fly as he boards flights and travels long distances. He has no wife, no kids and no hobbies.

Asked about his life outside the job, the jovial custodian replied with a smile, “I don’t have a life.”

While on my B.C. vacation, visiting my old college friend who now lives in Kamloops, she showed me her favorite movie, the quirky and charming Canadian film, One Week, (co-produced by a high school friend of mine).

A key scene involved…the Stanley Cup.

My friend and I gaped. Was it the real Stanley Cup? Could you really get it to come and be in your movie?

Yes it was and yes they could.

I think this man has a very cool job, although this quote did give me pause:

As part of the job, he has to have the Stanley Cup within eyesight most of the time. And, yes, that means it stays in his room with him at night.

“I don’t actually curl up with it, but it actually sleeps in my room. It’s the best relationship I have had in 11 years.”

Gay Culverhouse Fights For Brain-Damaged Football Players

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Football players, as any player or spectator knows, hit each other hard, repeatedly. It’s their job. But years of it can result in mild traumatic brain injury — the same trauma now playing into record rates of PTSD and impairment among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, whose brains have been severely jarred by IED explosions. And TBI causes permanent behavioral and cognitive damage.

Gay Culverhouse, former team president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is now testifying before a Congressional committee on behalf of the former players for her team, on behalf of all players still tossing themselves — as their coaches or managers or owners expect them to — into bone-crunching piles.

Her testimony included this:

“Foremost is the fact that players need to be protected; the medical system harbored by the NFL must change. There should be doctors without vested interests and allegiances available to the players at no penalty. There should be medical advocates for the players. There should be an independent neurologist on every sideline. There should be salaries free of performance bonuses so that players are not pushed beyond what is reasonable. There should be mandatory guidelines for concussions specifying the number of weeks a player MUST sit out games. There needs to be a call for common sense to prevail in the National Football League.”

“Recently one of my former players referred to me as a “rebel with a cause”. By breaking ranks with the National Football League, I have become that rebel. My cause is the health and wellbeing of all football players whether they are eight year olds or twenty-two year olds. Safety must come first. Business must come second.”

Culverhouse reserved her strongest scorn for team doctors who shoot up players at halftime or overlook injuries:

“The team doctor is invested in the performance of these players who make the team. He does not want to be seen as lacking in assisting the coach in his selection. The team doctor wants these players to succeed in helping the team win games. The team doctor gets to the point where he will do anything to enhance the performance of these rookies. With very few draft choices, the decisions on whom to draft are critical to a team’s success. Hence, from the beginning, the team doctor is invested with the coach in the success of their choices.”

“This alignment is the crux of the problem for the players on the team. The doctor is not their medical advocate. He’s not even conflicted. He knows who pays his salary; he plays golf with the coach and the owner not the players. He is management; he makes decisions for the management side of operations. He understands the bottom line is business. The team that wins, sells more luxury seats, skyboxes and fills the stadium. Therefore, more parking is sold on game day along with more beer, sodas, and cotton candy. That is the term of success.”

“If a player suffers an injury, the team doctor’s role is to find a way to have that man on the field the following game, if not the same game. The player is shot with cortisone
during the game to see if the pain can be numbed if it is a joint or other such problem. If it is a head injury, he is told to “shake it off”. The players get to the point that they know better than to complain that they have suffered a concussion. They would rather throw up in the huddle away from the fans’ lines of vision and keep themselves in the game. Other players will guide them through the next few plays until their double vision resolves itself.”

Yesterday, one NFL wife, Eleanor M. Perfetto, reports George Vecsey in today’s New York Times, described her husband’s behavior as so changed she had to put him into a facility as was she unable to care for him. She said her husband, former lineman for seven years, Ralph Wenzel, was lucky to have a “pushy broad” of a wife as his advocate.

Thank God for these angry, outspoken women.