Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
By Luke Stuckmeyer
Let's get a couple things clear right from the start, Jay Cutler is tough. On the other hand, I'm about as tough as tissue paper in the rain. I started defending Cutler's toughness as soon as he was removed from the game on Sunday. If there is one thing he's proven this year to me, it's that he's not a wimp. He's been sacked more than any quarterback in the league and always got back on his feet.
That said, I was reminded today, that we are looking in the wrong place for REAL toughness. The arguments are getting silly and boring. You won't find it on a football field - or at any sporting event.
My grandfather, Wibur Brandau, turned 93 today. He grew up in Maywood, Illinois and went to Proviso East High School. Like many kids his age, he ended up overseas defending our country and many more. He's a World War II Veteran who fought in the "Battle of the Bulge." It turned out to be the Nazi's last major offensive. My grandfather and thousands of Americans spent the winter months of 1944-45 sleeping on the frozen ground of a forest in Belgium, with nothing but a wool blanket. The German Army was close enough to hear every night. Temperatures were below zero. Bullets, grenades and bombs flying over head. No gloves, no down coat, not tent. They had one pair of thin leather boots insulated by a handful of straw.
Sometime after Christmas of 1945, his feet were so frozen that medics wanted to amputate to save his legs. He said, no. He still needed those feet to do his job. Today, almost 70 years later his feet are fine, but his legs have finally failed him. He has a Purple Heart and several other honors. He's outlived his wife, his siblings and most of his friends. But, if you mention that winter of '44-'45 or his "Army Pals" he can't hold back the tears.
That's why I make sure I never throw around terms like "in the trenches" or "warriors" when reading sports highlights. There were roughly 81,000 American casualties in the Battle of the Bulge. Today, more than 900 World War II Vets die every day. If you want real heroes and real toughness...don't watch football. Go to the VFW, a nursing home or the local Veterans Hospital. You'll find toughness that can't be imagined. Be thankful you can watch the Super Bowl on Feb 6th, and enjoy it for what it is. Entertainment.