Monday, January 16, 2023

The Favored and the Underdog

Like many this weekend, Kim and I watched the NFL playoff games. Some outcomes were what was predicted, but some were surprises and upsets. I like surprises, and unless the Packers are playing, I root for the underdog. There is something about the underdog that is endearing.

I’ve been on both sides of the ‘Favored to Win’ and the ‘Underdog’ title, but I haven’t thought much about that in years. Really, not until this weekend.

The Chargers were supposed to win. They were winning when Kim and I went to bed. When we woke up, both of us were shocked at the outcome. The quarterback for Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence, threw four interceptions. The Chargers seemed in control. But then in the second half, Lawrence threw four touchdowns and led an improbable comeback to advance to the next round and send the Chargers back home.

The Vikings were not only favored to win, but were also predicted to play for the NFC championship. But alas, the Giants won and will now advance to the next round, and the Vikings will go back to Minnesota and watch the rest of the games on TV.

Between games or perhaps just before the games, my daughter turned on a movie- Invincible, about a lifelong football fan, Vince Papale. At 30-years-old and while teaching at his high school in Philly, he becomes the oldest non-kicking rookie in the NFL, and the only player to have never played college football. A shoulder injury ended his career.

Improbable? Absolutely. An Underdog? The definition of the term.

My third year as a high school coach, my team played for the state championship against a team of seasoned juniors and seniors. I had few seniors, and had mostly sophomores and juniors. My ‘star’ had four fouls and I pulled him to save him for the final minutes of the fourth quarter. I had hoped my team could hang with our opponent until I could put him back in. 

I pulled a kid off the bench who was raw, at best. Honestly, not much talent compared to others on the floor, or the bench, for that matter. But the kid, a sophomore, had heart. All he did was come up with pretty good defense, a “circus rebound” so described by the local newspaper, make a layup, and sink two free throws. We not only hung with them, we took a small lead. By the time my ‘star’ reentered the game, it was all but over and we won the first state championship in the school’s history.

And, I’ve also been on the favored end of it.

My last year as a high school coach, I had a team of seasoned seniors who were a joy to coach and be around. They were friends with each other and truly a class act. We were ‘favored’ to not only win the conference championship, but to win district. However, the night before our first game in district, my starting center sprained an ankle that required a walking boot. The height on our team was drastically reduced, and we ended up losing to a team we beat during the year, and were the classic ‘underdog’.

It happens. I get it. That loss still stings- not so much for me, but for that classy group of seniors. They deserved the win.

As a result of those two, and probably many other experiences, I guess I have a different view of the favored and the underdog. What is sometimes ‘supposed’ to happen, doesn’t. That’s a definition of life, isn’t it? That’s why we live it. And, that’s why we play the game. The result isn’t always what is predicted, and that is what makes the game, and life, fun. Something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Need a New Book? I have nine available, and I hope you gift someone, maybe yourself, with one of my books. If you have read one of my books, I would like to ask a favor. If you could go online and write a review or, at the least, give a rating on the book, it would be of great help. Both a review and a rating would be wonderful. The review could be one or two lines. It doesn’t have to be long. Just let others know you read it and hopefully, enjoyed it. Obviously, 4s and 5s are the best. Thanks for this consideration.

My newest, Fan Mail, just won a Literary Titan Silver Book Award, and is Available for Preorder at  

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Fan Mail: New Release! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.

As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.

Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?

Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann. The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die.

Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else.  
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.
Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved.  
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death?  

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