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Today Sports Takes A Back Seat

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June 25th, 2008. That is the day we lost one of the greatest entertainers to ever grace a stage, Michael Jackson to a heart attack. Earlier in the day we also lost an”Angel” in Farrah Fawcett who was bravely battling that horrible disease called cancer. In Iowa on Wednesday a sports coaching legend, but an even better teacher and leader of men, Ed Thomas, was tragically gunned down in his high school weight room in front of his players. Three people who touched thousands of peoples lives in many different ways, but lets focus on Jackson.

Michael Jackson will be known for many different things. His music, his dancing, his acting, his eccentric behavior, his big heart, the charges that were brought against him involving child molestation, which he was acquitted of and of course the glove. But Jackson was the epitimy of an entertainer. His career lasted over four decades with countless hits such as “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There” with the Jackson 5 and solo hits like “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller”, which is also the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.

Jackson was known as the “King of Pop” and rightfully so. His music videos changed they way other artists made theirs and made MTV a cable fixture. His “Thriller” video was the first music video that was directed by John Landis, one of the prominent film directors in the 1980’s. It also was the first video that was also a short film and is still the standered for all videos and recording artists today. His dance moves are the standered barrier to today’s R&B signers, such as Usher, Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo and Chris Brown. Jackson redefinedthe music industry with 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career, more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era. His influence on not just music, radio, videos and any and all R&B and Pop singers is undeniable.

He was an eccentric person that had some financial troubles in the later part of his life, but he was getting ready to have a 50 date tour in London that would have lasted until late in the winter. It was his “farewell tour”. He was also planning on touring with his four other brothers, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Jackie, the Jackson 5, later this year or early next year as well. Admist all of his troubles he continued to try and resurrect his career as well as his image and show the world one last time why he was the “king of pop”.

Jackson was also an humanitarian. He donated thousands of dollars to many different causes he believed in as well as traveled to the corners of the world to help the less fortunate. His life was lived in a bubble since he was 11 years old. In and out of hotel rooms, bars, clubs, stages, recording studios and growing up in front of a camera. Living life on the road had to be hard on him and would explain some of his bizarrebehavior. As he got older in order to have any type of privacy he had to rent out amusement parks for the day so he could enjoy a roller coaster.  

Jackson, who was 50, had three kids.

Ed Thomas was the head coach for 34 years at at tiny Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Iowa. He coached hundred’s of kids, but several of his players who went on to the NFL, including the Green Bay Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester, Detroit Lions defensive end Jared DeVries and Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann. Many coaches would say that having four players in the NFL was their greatest accomplishment, but not Ed Thomas. Kampman agrees  “His legacy for many will be associated with his tremendous success as a football coach,” said Kampman. “However, I believe his greatest legacy comes not in how many football games he won or lost but in the fact that he was a committed follower of Jesus Christ.”

One of Thomas’ sons said he was most proud of his involvement in church. Aaron Thomas thanked the community for its support. “Obviously, with the shocking events of today, nothing can prepare you for what our family and the community is going through,” Aaron Thomas said at an afternoon news conference.

I think the type of person Ed Thomas was best shown in 2008. After a tornado ripped through Parkersburg, the town realized that one of the best patches of new grass needs to be at the football field, the one Ed Thomas coached on. Thomas spearheaded the effort to help repair Parkersburg. All his current and former players came back to rebuild their football field and more importantly the heart and soul of their town.

Ed Thomas embodied everything a coach should be. I take that back, he embodied everything a PERSON should be. The impact on the people’s lives that Ed Thomas had runs deeper then X’s and O’s. The life lessons he taught had a major impact helping young men become leaders in their community and hard working, god fearing, family men. Ed Thomas won 2 state titles, won 80 % of his games and in 2005  the NFL named him their 2005 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year.

Ed Thomas was 58.

The past 24 hours sports has taken a back seat to the “real world”. While we feel grief and sadness please think about what the families are going through. Say a prayer for them to stay strong and have inner peace knowing that their loved one is in a better place.   My thoughts and prayers go out to the Fawcett, O’Neal,  Jacksonand Thomas families. I think we all thank them for allowing their family members to touch our lives.

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Written by Joe Arrigo

June 26, 2009 at 06:11

Posted in Entertainment

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