5 x 8: Backtracking on Jerry Kill

1) THE STRIB APOLOGIZES FOR SOUHAN COLUMN, THEN PRETTY MUCH REPEATS IT

Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes has posted an apology — sort of — for columnist Jim Souhan’s column on Sunday (referenced in this space yesterday) that said University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill is too unhealthy to keep coaching the team because of his epilepsy.

Dear Readers:

Many of you have written over the weekend to express your anger or concern regarding Jim Souhan’s columns and blog posts following Coach Kill’s seizure during Saturday’s football game. On behalf of the Star Tribune, I apologize. In no way did we intend to suggest that people with epilepsy, or other disabilities, should be hidden away. Nor did we intend to be callous or insensitive to their struggles.

I have spoken with the editors who were here Saturday, regarding the column, and Jim has posted his own response to readers, which you can find here.

Coach Kill is brave to battle this disease so publicly, and to share that battle with us. Just a month ago, we ran a Sunday front page story chronicling his struggles to get his seizures under control, and his efforts to balance that with his passion for football. If any good comes of the anger readers have expressed, I hope it’s that the broader community comes away with a better understanding of epilepsy and those who struggle to bring it under control.

Thank you sharing your thoughts and concerns with me.

Regards,

Nancy Barnes
Editor

Souhan said he still thinks Kill is too unhealthy to continue, but said it’s not a knock against people with epilepsy:

I’m accustomed to receiving criticism for nearly everything I write. As a sports columnist, every opinion draws a backlash. What is happening now is different because I’m receiving criticism from people who believe that I insulted Kill or people who share his condition.

That certainly was not my intent.

It’s not at all clear whether either Stribber understands the pushback the columnist received. But, in a commentary posted on his radio gig’s website yesterday, Souhan colleague Patrick Reusse seems to get it:

Does the impact of Kill’s in-game seizures on past results matter much?

It does when you’re offering this premise: To this point, there’s no evidence that Kill’s epilepsy and the public seizures it has produced have had a negative impact on Minnesota’s football program.

Unless: You want to count the lost 25 percent chance to beat New Mexico State two years ago this month. Once their coach went down, the Gophers were so rattled that quarterback MarQueis Gray made one of the ugliest plays of his college career (and that’s saying something) and the visitors escaped with a victory.

So, if Kill had not had his seizure, his inaugural Gophers could have gone 4-8 rather than 3-9, and, man, that would have been thrilling.

Of more interest in mentioning the Gophers and New Mexico State is this: Kill’s initial Gophers were such a low-talent bunch that they were capable of losing to the lowly Aggies, and two seasons later, Kill’s Gophers went to Las Cruces, N.M. and romped 44-21.

That’s all we really need to realize Kill and his staff have improved things considerably from the mess inherited from Timmy (Two-Times) Brewster.

And for good measure, the Star Tribune today editorializes against the suggestion that we need to be shielded from watching a man struggle with an illness:

For their part, the team’s fans seem to understand that it may take the remainder of Kill’s contract (five more years) to build a competitive team. At this point, they seem willing to give him a chance. Epilepsy was not in the script they had hoped for. But it’s possible to imagine that Kill’s coping with his illness while building a successful team could be just the heroic narrative that college football needs right now. The game is swimming in scandal and hypocrisy. If Frank Capra were still alive, he’d be pitching Kill’s story all around Hollywood.

But other media sports types are in line with Souhan:

There’s irony in that one. Dubay, who makes his living at KSTP Radio, struggled with his cocaine addiction. Minnesota did not turn him away. It wasn’t political correctness. It was the right thing to do for someone with an illness.

2) A TOAST TO DORIS

One of our favorites in the local media world passed away yesterday.

Doris, the mother of WCCO sports anchor Mark Rosen, passed away Monday morning, the station reports.

She and Rosalie, anchor Frank Vascellaro’s mom, formed the Grannys, who for awhile opined on the Grammys, Emmys, and other popular culture in classic bits that made you want to call your mother.

Over a year ago she moved into an assisted living center and the two talked on camera about how difficult the transition is when our children become our caregivers.

I can’t embed any CBS content anymore, but do yourself a favor and click the links and watch.

3) ON “THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS”

In times of mass shootings, are tweets about “thoughts and prayers” meaningful? Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’s Peter Sagal wondered that yesterday:

Then found out…

But for the record…

And what if you offer thoughts, but not prayers:

Related: Navy Yard employee helps visually impaired co-worker escape. CBS talks to the man who led a blind man to safety.

4) THE LIMITS OF FREE SPEECH ONLINE

Franklin Jeffries, an Iraqi war veteran, made a YouTube video in which he sang a song that threatened a judge if he didn’t allow him visitation rights to see his daughter.

“And when I come to court this better be the last time. I’m not kidding at all, I’m making this video public. ‘Cause if I have to kill a judge or a lawyer or a woman I don’t care,” Jeffries chants on the video, according to Wired.com.

He was given an 18 months prison sentence after being prosecuted under a 1930s law.

Now, the Supreme Court is about to decide whether to hear the case, which could determine the limits of free speech online.

5) PEOPLE DOING GOOD: THE HOMELESS MAN

WBZ – Boston

Just because people are homeless doesn’t mean they’re indecent and dishonest. A man left a bag near where Glen James, a homeless man in Boston, was sitting. So he opened it and found $2,400 in cash and nearly $40,000 in travelers checks, along with a passport and personal papers.

He called the cops.

“Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a penny of the money found,” he said Monday in a handwritten statement. “God has always very well looked after me.”

He was honored yesterday in Boston but didn’t say much because he’s embarrassed by his speech impediment.

And, sure enough, someone has appropriately started an online campaign to raise some money for the guy. (link fixed)

Related decency: APM’s Marketplace is following Raven Gribbins, who just started her first year in college. She’s the first in her family to go to college, even though people have told her all of her life she couldn’t do it. Maybe she’ll make it; maybe she won’t. How was she able to afford it? An anonymous listener heard her story on Marketplace’s One School, One Year project and paid for it.

Bonus I: Kids today, eh?

Bonus II: Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter (Wired.com).

Bonus III: The people’s mayor (Pioneer Press)

TODAY’S QUESTION
Do you pressure your doctor for antibiotics?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The GOP and libertarians.

Second hour: Sales, discounts and coupons are all money saving strategies that help consumers save. They are also sophisticated psychological games that companies use to encourage consumers to buy their products. We talk today about the consumer psychology behind sales, coupons and discounts.

Third hour: Talking Volumes: Jonathan Franzen (rebroadcast).

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Live National Press Club broadcast: The GOP governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, chair of the National Governor’s Association. Speaking about education and the workforce.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Historian Craig Steven Wilder studied the early history of American universities and slavery and was dismayed by what he found. Many of America’s revered colleges were soaked in the sweat, the tears and sometimes the blood of people of color. Wilder talks to NPR about his new book, Ebony and Ivy.