Yes, it's that time again.
I'm back. For one day.
Some habits are hard to break even at age 81. You're looking at one today.
I am not coming out of retirement, that wonderful lifestyle I accepted in 2008 after 50 years in the sports department at Paddock Publications, but I have this annual mission -- and honor -- to assemble my favorite sports quotes of the past year.
I always consider this column an adventure of both hard work and enjoyment. It's fun.
The hard work centers on the discipline and persistence required in the intensive research process that covers 12 months. The fun, I hope, is reserved for the readers.
All of us need something to smile about and think about in these challenging times. This is my contribution, however small it may be in the overall picture.
Of course, I will miss some that you might remember in 2017. Cut me a little slack. I can't spot everything over 12 months.
I hope I succeeded today.
Let us begin with a more serious observation, and then lighten up the mood after that:
Frank Martin, South Carolina head basketball coach: "You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say kids have changed. Kids haven't changed. Kids don't know anything about anything. We've changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is really about."
Pietro Pellegri, 16-year-old soccer sensation for Genoa in the Italian League, who is home-schooled: "I can't even be the cool guy in school."
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, on why no team had signed QB Colin Kaepernick: "I'm not a football expert."
Lee Trevino, looking back on his long career in pro golf: "I'm not saying my golf game suddenly went bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they'd come up sliced."
Jimmy Traina, sports writer, on NFL announcer Jim Nantz: "He treats every football game with the seriousness of open heart surgery."
Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians manager, after an 11-game, four-city road trip: "We'll finally have our fans and clean underwear."
Elena Delle Donne, on one benefit of her WNBA trade from Chicago to Washington: "My dog is named Wrigley after the home of the Cubs, and it will be an easier time at dog parks now since every dog isn't named Wrigley."
Mike Riley, after coaching Nebraska football to a 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois, on his earlier comments his team would have a potent offense: "Boy oh boy, we're so far from that, I can't even hint at that at this point. I was wrong. I was wrong."
Tom Brady, New England quarterback, on the physical nature of pro football: "Sometimes, getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth is the hardest part of the day -- it all just hurts."
Gayle Sierens, first woman to do NFL play-by-play 30 years ago, on Beth Mowins, only the second play-by-play woman this season: "I kicked down the door, but no one came in."
Rebecca Lobo, at her Naismith Hall of Fame ceremony, on her brother Jason, who played basketball at Dartmouth and is now a judge in Connecticut: "We like to say that his college career prepared him well to … sit on the bench."
Lobo, in her Hall of Fame speech on what her 5-year-old daughter said after walking into the room and seeing the Connecticut men playing on TV in the NCAA Tournament: "I didn't know boys played basketball, too."
Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators coach, when asked what it means to take a third team to a Stanley Cup Final: "Probably means I got fired a lot."
Tracy Claeys, talking to a Minneapolis TV station a few hours after getting fired as the Gophers' head football coach: "At least I won't be up here freezing my (butt), so y'all enjoy the weather."
Tim Miles, Nebraska basketball coach, on the new atmosphere after losing to Northwestern: "It's amazing from earlier in my tenure to what it is now. The student body is calling me all kinds of new names."
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan football coach, on similarities of administrators who fired his brother-in-law, Tom Crean, as Indiana basketball coach, and those who manage the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh's former team: "What they know could not blow up a small balloon."
Jeffrey Riegel, Philadelphia Eagles fan, relaying his final wishes before he died in August: "(Jeffery) requested to have eight Philadelphia Eagles as pallbearers, so the Eagles can let him down one last time."
Melvin Ingram, defensive end for the Chargers, when asked before a game with the Dolphins what challenges Miami quarterback Jay Cutler offered: "None." (Miami won 19-17).
Eddie Matz, ESPN senior writer, relating what he saw in the Washington Nationals' clubhouse on July 4: "Player walks in and sees the drug-testing men standing there. 'Drug testing on the Fourth of July?' he shouts. 'That's un-American. I'm going to test positive for hot dogs.' "
Joe Maddon, Cubs manager, on the Cubs playing their first scheduled Friday night game during a regular season: "They invented lights for a reason. God invented lights for night baseball. That was part of his overarching plan."
Tim Lester, Western Michigan football coach and Wheaton native, on his options late in a 71-68 victory over Buffalo, a seven-overtime game that set an FBS record for total points: "Yeah, we ran the same play twice. We were running out of them."
Todd Spencer, Army offensive line coach, talking about Prospect High School grad Mike Houghton, a starter at guard: "He seems like the nicest guy in the world, yet he will put his helmet in your throat and bury you. Then again, he always has a grin on his face. He's a pretty happy-go-lucky person."
Ben McAdoo, second-year coach of the New York Giants, 15 hours before he was fired after a 24-17 loss at Oakland: "I'm going to coach this team as long as my key card works."
Hadi Abdollahian, Uber driver, who took Buffalo Bills cornerback Shareece Wright from Chicago to western New York, an eight-hour trip, after Wright's flight was delayed: "He told me Buffalo, and I thought he meant Buffalo Wild Wings Grill."
Charles Barkley, former NBA star and now announcer, on his obsession with golf: "How am I going to drink and smoke if I don't play golf?"
Lovie Smith, head football coach of 2-10 Illinois, after losing to Ohio State 52-14: "If you stay in coaching long enough, you have games like this where the other team is better than you from start to finish."
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs tight end, arguing that the official made a bad holding call nullifying a game-tying 2-point conversion and should be banned from wearing a striped shirt: "He shouldn't even be able to work at Foot Locker."
John Fallon Jr., manager of the Glasgow Scotland-based Shettleston FC junior soccer team, after the goalie was sent off for urinating behind the net during a game: "There's nothing about it in rule book, so we're all a bit confused."
Thanks for reading. See you at our high school events. Support our young athletes.
Happy New Year.
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