Saturday, August 16, 2008

Motivational Articles & Stories - Harvey Mackay

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Holtz Scores on Fourth and Long

By Harvey Mackay

The call came about midnight on Friday, September 8. It was the
night before the Notre Dame football game at Purdue. "Harvey, I'm in
deep trouble and I need your help," said Lou Holtz.

My mind began to race. Had the unexpected loss to Northwestern the
previous week finally sent my buddy around the South Bend bend? Was
this the call I had been waiting for all my life ... was he finally
going to ask me to quarterback the team ("And now entering the game
for the Irish wearing number 62, it's 62-year-old H.B. 'Old Bones'
Mackay.")?

Fortunately, Holtz got to the point before I had the chance to make
a total ass of myself. He was biting and brief. "Something's gone
radically wrong with me the past six weeks. I've lost some feeling
in my legs. I can't walk up and down the stairs. I can't run out on
to the field with the team. When I walk on the putting green, my
right foot drags and makes marks on the turf. And, I'm losing
strength in my hands. It's getting worse day by day."

Well, I may not have what it takes to be a Notre Dame quarterback,
but I've been probed, scoped and carved on by the best medical team
in the country, so I called the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and on
Sunday ... after Notre Dame had beaten Purdue ... Holtz, his wife,
Beth, the Mayo doctor, and fly-on-the-wall Harvey sat down to get
the verdict.

Dr. David Piepgras made the diagnosis. Holtz had a bruised spinal
cord, which has very serious implications. If it is not operated on
"immediately," paralysis can set in quickly.

Holtz ... being Holtz ... instantly glommed onto the word
"immediately." Is that like the "immediately" that your
brother-in-law is referring to when he says he is going to return
the fifty bucks he borrowed from you? Or is it more like the
"immediately" that describes when the government is going to mail
you your tax refund?

"No."

"Does it mean maybe six months from now?"

"No."

"Six weeks from now?"

"No."

"Six days from now?"

"Let me put it this way," said Dr. Piepgras. "We had a fellow who,
against our very, very strong advice, decided that "immediately"
meant he could sneak in just one more round of golf. That was three
days after we talked with him. He's permanently paralyzed."

"Okay, no golf," said Holtz, ready for the next round of
negotiations. He whipped out a calendar from his back pocket.

"If I take one day to go home and tell my players and my coaches,
and then come back for one day of preparation and surgery," said
Holtz, yielding each day as grudgingly as if he were giving up
yardage on the football field," and allow six days in the hospital
and four days at home, will I be strong enough to call the plays
from the press box against Ohio State?"

"Ninety percent yes."

Holtz got a surge of energy from somewhere, leaped out of his chair
and shook the doctor's hand.

"Done deal," he said. He looked as if he just landed the nation's
number one college football prospect.

Afterwards, I had the chance to talk to him alone for a moment.

"Lou," I said, "you've known about this for weeks. Why didn't you go
in after the Northwestern game?"

"Bad Karma. The only way I was going into that operating room was as
a winner."

"But what if Notre Dame had lost to Purdue?" I said.

"Hey," said Holtz, "can you imagine how far I could drive the golf
ball sitting in a golf cart?"
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