Happy to be talking about the Pirates

Some random thoughts while saying good-bye to summer with the Pittsburgh Pirates in first place…

n It’s been decades since the Pirates could sell season ticket packages that include priority seating for the playoffs. How sweet it is to see the Bucs not only in the hunt for a playoff position, but actually atop the standings on Labor Day?

n The first weekend of college football brought some embarrassing moments for last season’s Heisman Trophy winner. Johnny Manziel followed up a controversial off-season with an unfortunate opener, which included being penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Manziel had to sit out for half of Texas A&M’s first game as punishment for NCAA infractions concerning autographs. When he took the field, he scored three touchdowns, but taunted opponents, prompting the referees to throw a flag and his coach to bench the start quarterback for the game’s final series.

According to the mission statement for the Heisman Trust, college football’s most coveted award recognizes “the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” While Manziel may be an excellent football player, his integrity leaves something to be desired.

Granted, he’s only a sophomore, and obviously has a lot of growing up to do. At this point, he’s helping to make a case for making freshmen ineligible for Heisman consideration.

n Another Heisman Trophy Winner, Tim Tebow was dealing with the disappointment of being cut from the New England Patriots.

Tebow tweeted inspirational Bible verses, and pledged to continue his quest to be an NFL quarterback while thanking the Patriots organization for the opportunity.

Tebow may not convince another NFL team to give him a chance, and he may be short-sighted to insist on pursuing his quarterback dream rather than considering another position. Still, he has proven himself to be determined and principled, and those qualities will serve him well wherever his future may take him, on or off the football field.

n Speaking of determination, 64-year-old legend Diana Nyad has completed her decades-long goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida.

Previous attempts by the endurance swimmer to make the 103-mile trek through shark-infested waters were thwarted by poisonous jellyfish stings and severe thunderstorms. The first time she tried it, Nyad was 28 in 1978. Multiple attempts over the next thirty years followed, with the choppy sea winning each time.

But Nyad never gave up; with her slogan, “Xtreme Dream,” millions followed her blog updates as she gave it one more try.

With her support crew in tow and face swelling from the sea water, hundreds greeted her on the Key West beach, wading into the water, swimming or kayaking alongside her, inspired to be witnessing her amazing accomplishment.

Nyad became the first person to complete the amazing journey without the use of a shark cage, but it’s her perseverance that will be most remembered, making a 35-year-dream come true.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.