There “Is” An Arizona

Mike Moffett at ASU's Pat Tillman Center.
Mike Moffett at ASU’s Pat Tillman Center.

by Mike Moffett, Weirs Times Columnist

Contrary to Jamie O’Neal’s poignant sentiments from the hit country song, there is indeed an Arizona. I just visited it. I arrived in Phoenix too late to enjoy the immediate glow of the Patriots 28-24 Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, but the energy generated from the Pats’ epic triumph had not yet dissipated. Patriot apparel was still to be seen.

My Phoenix visit was prompted by an invitation to visit Arizona State University to speak to some classes and do a book signing for (plug, plug) my book FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back.
My co-author, Fahim Fazli, is a Hollywood actor who returned as an interpreter to his native Afghanistan, where I met him in 2010 when I was on special assignment there with the Marine Corps. Our book subsequently received some nice reviews, and an ASU professor actually made it required reading for a history course. Hence, our invitation to Phoenix. (Tempe, actually.)

Fahim and I were pleased to accept Professor Mark Von Hagen’s invitation to meet his class and we were also pleased to receive other invitations, such as to speak to a Hollywood Film History class. Student veterans from the Pat Tillman Center helped with the book signing event and local interest in FAHIM SPEAKS was apparent, perhaps prompted by the fact that Fahim has a small role in the mega-hit AMERICAN SNIPER.

But significantly, Fahim earlier had a role in a “Pat Tillman” Hollywood film project, so a visit to ASU to visit the Sun Devils made sense on other levels.
Tillman was the ASU Sun Devil football standout who went on to become one of the NFL’s leading tacklers with the hometown Arizona Cardinals. But marching to the beat of his own drummer, Tillman walked away from his big NFL contract and joined the army after the 9/11 attacks. After the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks numerous big leaguers put on their country’s uniform—everyone from to Joe DiMaggio to Ted Williams. But after 9/11, Tillman was the only major league pro athlete to go into harm’s way. Sadly, Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. ASU’s Sun Devils prominently honor his legacy.
After Pearl Harbor was attacked, numerous Hollywood stars—everyone from Clark Gable to Jimmy Stewart—put on their country’s uniform and went into harm’s way. Herman Goering, the head of Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe, actually put a bounty on Gable’s head. While visiting the Tillman Center it occurred to me that Fahim was probably the only Hollywood SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) member to put on a uniform and go into harm’s way following the 9/11 attacks. Fahim also had an enemy (the Taliban) that put a bounty on HIS head. I was proud to note that my friend had much in common with both Clark Gable and Pat Tillman.
The Arizona visit was a whirlwind of class visits, media interviews, and book signings. An ASU friend of Senator John McCain asked that we sign a book for the senator, and my inscription reminded McCain that he had many friends in New Hampshire, which the senator has often called his “second favorite state.”
And Arizona is now MY second favorite state. I was filled with warm feelings when I later boarded a plane to return to N.H. I would need those warm feelings. My flight to Manchester airport got in after midnight. It was below zero. My Nissan Sentra had two feet of snow on it and wouldn’t start. All I had on was the light jacket I’d worn to Arizona. Aye carumba!
It all had the makings for a Jamie O’Neal country song, if only it was a truck that wouldn’t start, instead of a car!

THE TAXMAN COMETH
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady is facing a $60,500 bill from the IRS just for winning the game, according to internet sources.
Americans for Tax Reform claims Brady will have to pay $42,000 on his share of the $97,000 he won for playing in the title tilt, and another $18,500 for giving away the red Chevy Colorado pickup truck he won for being MVP to teammate Malcolm Butler, who made the game-saving interception. “No good deed goes unpunished,” as the saying goes.
Readers will recall observations in this space last year about how various government taxes and fees appropriated MOST of Phil’s earnings after Mickelson won the Scottish and British Opens a couple years ago. Now the current administration in Washington wants to further raise taxes on successful, hard-working achievers—while a majority of citizens pay no income taxes at all. At some point, the Phil Mickelsons of the world are going to say “Why bother to compete?”
Aye carumba!

Sportsquote
Tiger Woods’ recent “82” reminded me of a quote by the late, great commentator, Paul Harvey, after he noticed that Jack Nicklaus had shot an “83” in the first round of the British Open: “All my life I’ve wanted to play golf like Jack Nicklaus. Now I do.”

Sports Quiz
Who was the first 50-year-old driver to win a 500 mile race? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports figures born on February 19 include Czech tennis player and one-time U.S. Open winner Hana Mandlikova (1962) and NBA standout Mike Miller (1980). Miller was a teammate of Concord’s Matt Bonner at the University of Florida.

Sportsquiz Answer
Bobby Allison

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at NHTI, Concord’s Community College. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines) — which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.

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