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Gravity and other curses of old age!

by J.W. Miller on 01/29/18

I don’t know if you noticed, but age was a hot topic the past week. At least, it was in my household as I reached one of those dreaded milestone birthdays. You know the ones, that end in a ZERO! Yeah, you guessed it. I’m 40. Again. Or at least I was celebrating another anniversary of my 40th birthday, which seems like a lifetime ago. 


But age just wasn’t about me this week. Look around you, especially in the sporting world. Next Sunday, Tom Brady, who is at least my age, will seek to become the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Interestingly, the last two champions were led by quarterbacks in their dotage: Brady last year at 39 years six months, and Peyton Manning the year before at 39 years 10 months. And did you see Drew Brees’ performance Sunday in the Pro Bowl? First drive, 7 for 9 completions and a touchdown to the Vikings’ Adam Thielen. The Saints’ quarterback, who turned 39 on January 15, has a legitimate shot to pass the aforementioned in the next couple of years if the Saints follow the Who Dat Nation script. 


Age also was an issue in other sports. Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam tennis title Sunday at the Australian Open at the princely age of 36. At the other end of the age scale, we Kentucky basketball fans have been lamenting the fact that our beloved Wildcats are unranked for the first time seemingly since Adolph Rupp was a corporal, and the reason is all those young pups on the floor. But on Saturday, our Kiddie Cats went to West Virginia and overcame a 17-point deficit to topple the No.7 Mountaineers. Have they grown up in time for a tournament run? Who knows? Age is a fickle thing. 


But we started this conversation talking about yours truly. While I did not play college basketball when I was 18 nor win a Super Bowl championship at 40, I did run a handful of marathons in my 30s and ever since have tried to keep myself in reasonably good physical condition. I stretch daily, using the exercises that you can see on the adjoining tab “Stay Fit.” And my morning routine still includes a three-mile constitutional that includes a one-mile walk sandwiched between two one-mile runs. That program mimics a training program commonly used by distance runners in which they run at race pace for a period, then slow to a jog for a period before picking up the race-pace again. The program, for whatever reason, is called a “fartlek,” which gives me license to call my run-walk-run routine my “Old Fart-lek.” 


Professional experts who say age is just a “state of mind” obviously are a few holidays from 40. Age is not a state of mind as much as an annoyance to the mind. If you are like me, you can remember events in the past while struggling to remember a name or a fact that would quickly spill out of your mouth in another time. An even more sinister curse of old age is gravity. You might remember from Mr. Carr’s science class that gravity is something Isaac Newton discovered when an apple fell on his head and it became the scientific formula of F=G ([m1*m2]/D^2). (If you didn’t remember that either, you can look it up, as I did!) 


Gravity to my generation means our body parts, skin, muscle and additional avoirdupois have fallen like Newton’s apple! Even those of us who weigh about the same as we did 40 years ago find the shape of the package drastically different. How did that tire get so inflated? If you fear giggles and pointing and nicknames like “muffin-top,” “pear-butt” or the “inverted mushroom,” offer the giver a doughnut and be comforted in the knowledge that someday they’ll look worse! 

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Silky Powell was a fixture in the Saints' locker room for 38 years before he retired in 2012. Powell died last week at age 71.