The best da da hug on 911

Fires raged out of control in the Twin Towers as terrorist struck our home land with a life altering and tragic blow on 911.

My mind had yet to turn to anger. I was still in shock minutes after two airplanes struck New York City and invaded our lives. I was alone in the basement watching this story unfold. Then something else overcame me.

“India¿s intelligence set-up is in for an overhaul after the Mumbai terror attacks, with a National Investigation Agency (NIA) planned to plug the gaps in gathering of information and specifically coordinated action on it.” *** Local Caption *** “India¿s intelligence set-up is in for an overhaul after the Mumbai terror attacks, with a National Investigation Agency (NIA) planned to plug the gaps in gathering of information and specifically coordinated action on it.”

I needed a hug from my baby girl. I needed to make sure she was safe. Celine, a few days from turning two, played games and did puzzles in day care. She had no idea that the world changed that day. She was an innocent child enjoying her American freedoms.

I needed her in my arms. I needed to see that she was safe. It made no sense for terrorists to strike a Farmington Hills day care center when they had more spectacular targets to attack.

My thoughts turned irrational because what if my baby was in harms way? I had to pick her up, close my eyes, and give her the biggest daddy hug imaginable. I told my pregnant wife Abs of my plans and she did not object.

So Operation Save Celine began.

I stopped for gas and my eyes connected with a man on pump 2.

“Are you OK brother,?” the man asked. “Crazy day.”

I told him I was fine, but that my life would not be complete until picking up my child. By now rumors ran rampant. Terrorists were looking for soft targets. We may not have gas for long. And more planes were being used as guided missiles.

I had to get my baby.

By the time I arrived at First Impressions Ms. Lindsey was helping some kids get their jackets on. I wasn’t the only parent that needed a hug that day. So many wanted to bring their kids home that Ms Lindsey shut it down that day.

Our children were safe and we all wanted to keep it that way.

I loaded Celine in the car, listened to updates on the attacks, and was serenaded with the best concert of my life. It went something like this.

“Da, da. Da,da Dar, Darrrr, Darr.”

Celine called me Da da. And then she’d follow with Daaarrr. Daaarrrr.

That girl no longer calls me Da, Da. I am now King. That howling baby turns 21 years old today. The pig tails are gone. She no longer has tiny black eyes. She is a woman who sometimes drinks wine and is entering her senior year at Stanford University.

And I have new reasons to want to give her a hug today.

The west coast wild fires rage near her campus turning the sky yellow and orange. Covid-19 is a menace and I pray she does not catch it. I even worry about the stupid bull sharks that swim in a bay near her. It is a bay that I know she will never step foot in. But please forgive me. I’m a dad.

Celine provided the only ray of levity that fateful 911 day. I took her into the basement to watch television and gave her a big da da hug — one I needed so badly.

After our embrace Celine pointed to images of the Twin Towers and said “hot.”

She was already figuring things out as a young baby girl.

Happy birthday Celine. You owe dad another hug.

Sipping the Lions Kool Aide

The old man has still got it.

Or so I thought as a pretty woman stared me down during a quick meal and peak of games at Champps Kitchen and Bar. I had never met her. So I figured she saw a handsome old man and was checking me out.

A few minutes a man approached.

“Do you see that woman,” he said while pointing to my admirer. “That’s my girlfriend and she hates you.”

Wow. How can a total stranger hate me? I’m not that bad of a human being.

“She reads you in the paper,” the man said. “She thinks you are too rough on the Lions. She wants to know if she can come over and talk to you?”

I agreed to the meeting and this woman shot over to my seat like she heard “come on down” on the Price is Right game. She’d waited years to run into me or Drew Sharp or a number of “negative” media members.

She loved the Lions. She drank the Honolulu blue Lions Kool Aide and loved her Lions corn bread with extra butter. She didn’t raise her voice. I would not call her a bitch. But she had years of frustration she needed to get off her chest.

She promised good times were near. She promised a great season. The Lions would go on and finish below .500 that season and missed the playoffs again. The Lions begin the 2020 season today against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field and I am sure this woman, like many Lions fans, have high hopes.

“If you wrote more positive stories players would read it and play better,” she said.

This woman represents the poor Lions fans who always believe prosperity is right around the corner. And I always ask why do you believe this? Most years the Lions are a bad organization, under bad management, who strike out during the draft.

The Ford family still does not know how to win and have such low expectations. I thought Martha Ford would be different as an owner. But she was not. I was so disappointed when she said her expectations for Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia was to be in playoff contention in December. Then you equate that as a must win edict?

No it wasn’t. It was a return to mediocrity edict. You do know that you can be 5-7 or 6-6 in December and be in playoff contention. That edict was milk toast and typical Lions.

Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson walked away with plenty left in the tank because they knew they could not win here. I am not asking you to walk away. This is your team. This is your love.

But don’t have such high expectations and such low demands of this team and think things will change. Making the playoffs now and then does nothing for me. If the Lions win a playoff game — something they have not done since 1991 — I promise to be nice.

Chief fans: Just catch that football black boys and shut up

The beginning of the NFL season got off to a disappointing start when many Kansas City Chief fans booed players during their show of unity prior to Thursday nights 34-20 KC victory over the Houston Texans.

Fans booed when Chief and Texan players locked arms on the field after the anthem to show solidarity and bring attention to social injustice in this country. So what was the problem this time?

We’ve been told that America does not like protests during the national anthem. It believes players are disrespecting the flag and somehow the troops. OK. So players waited until after the anthem to send a message that all is not right in this country. And they still caught grief.

Maybe its a good thing the Detroit Lions home opener against the Chicago Bears will be played without fans.

“The booing was unfortunate,” Houston defensive end J.J. Watt said. “I don’t understand that. There was no flag involved, nothing other than two teams coming together to show unity.”

The boos sent a strong message. Shut up black boys and play for me. Shut up black boys and entertain me. Shut up black boys and do what I want. Shut up black boys we don’t care about your grievances. Shut up black boys we don’t care that your friends and family have not achieved the American dream. Shut up black boys we don’t care that your family and friends fear the police and do not embrace them.

Bring us a hot dog, some popcorn and a beer. Then shut the bleep up black boys.

“I thought that was a nice thing to do. I don’t know why they would boo that,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters after the game.

The boos came on a night when the Chiefs celebrated bringing these people their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years. They came on a night when the Chiefs made another strong statement that they might do it again.

Once again I will say this: Black lives don’t matter. Our issues don’t matter to many people. Our dream of making America equal for all do not matter.

Here is what Chief fans told us. We are OK with you if you can catch a football, run, dance, shuffle and entertain us. But we don’t want to hear about your pain. We don’t want to hear that you are grieving or scared.

We don’t want to hear that America is not perfect. This does not affect us.

“We’re not going to let playing football distract us from what we’re doing, and making change in this world,” Kannsas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said.

Planet Fitness opens today. I won’t be there

My walking path around Union Lake was thick with foot traffic on the last nice summer day of the season.

Two couples from the neighborhood negotiated the 6.5 mile round trip circuit. I ran into parents whose daughter played soccer at West Bloomfield High. I talked to the pretty blonde with the cute tiny dog along with the three friends who walk around the lake at least three times a week.

And there was one more group of people I had conversations with. They were the five people I saw who went to my Planet Fitness each weekday morning to work out. Our gym opens today, but none of us will be there out of fear for catching Covid-19.

My muscle definition isn’t the same since I stopped going to the gym, but I’ve lost 11 pounds staying at home.

We are glad to have the option of going. I am glad that gym owners can make money again. I am just not comfortable with the heavy breathing and sweating just yet.

“You know you will not be going back,” said my wife, who I call the female Dr. Fauci and studies Covid like she is trying to earn a Masters degree in the pandemic.

Patrons must wear masks during their workouts. There will be social distancing and the gyms will operate at 25 percent capacity.

One of my gym rats Tracy said she won’t be there today, but she is going to spend the next two weeks getting reports from people who do go. If after two weeks they report no outbreaks of the Rona she might begin work outs again. If there are problems, she will continue walks around Union Lake until the winter chill forces her inside.

That sounds like a solid game plan. On Tuesday the Michigan Department of Health and Human services reported 441 new cases of Covid and one death. The numbers appear to be going down, but we are receiving spikes among college students after they began gathering for the first time. Will the same happen in gyms across the state as they re open?

I belong to two gyms. The West Bloomfield Power House was among a handful of gyms that opened against state rules. They were told to close, but opted to take the $500 fine and remain open. I miss Power House because of my Tuesday and Thursday body pump classes that use weight training to build muscle and cardio through a series of exercises set to upbeat music.

I miss my gang of friendly faces at Planet Fitness. I want to go back desperately, but I will await Tracy’s two week report before I do.

Blind as a bat

My academic career got off on the wrong foot when I was placed on the dumb side of the room in Mrs. Vandenberg’s first grade class.

The smart kids sat on the left side of the room. The dumb kids on the right. After the first semester Mrs. Vandenberg reshuffled the seating chart. I was moved from the smart side to the dumb side.

I protested after class.

Mrs. Vandenberg first denied a seating arrangement based on scholarly achievements. Then why was I moved?

She finally fessed up that my theory might be true and that she was surprised at my sluggish start to first grade. She heard that I was a bright kid that worked hard. Then Mrs. Vandenberg did something that changed my life.

She told me to sit in my seat and she wrote a sentence on the blackboard.

“What does this say,” she asked me.

I squinted and stood up to get closer to the blackboard.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t see it.”

“Oh baby,” she said. “You need glasses, that’s all.”

I thought everybody saw the world in fuzzy tones. My life was pretty normal. I played basketball and baseball with no problems. I always got a front row seat during television viewing.

A week later the entire school was treated to a free eye exam at Pattengill Elementary School. Mrs. Vandenberg said doctors would exam my eyes and make recommendations on glasses.

But something traumatic happened. Some of the older kids said doctors surgically removed your eyes during the eye examination. I bought it. I became terrified during the days led up to testing.

We stood in a long line leading into the first floor auditorium. Every step we took I felt like a kid walking toward his death. Removing your eyes had to hurt. By the time my turn came I was near tears.

“Please don’t take my eyes out of my head,” I said to a guy wearing a white lab coat.

I did not know what an anxiety attack was at such a young age, but I’m sure I was having one.

The man laughed.

“I promise I won’t remove your eyes,” the man said. “We have new ways to look at your eyes.”

I was so happy about modern technology. We went through a quick, painless examination where my eyes were not removed. He gave me a piece of paper and candy and told me to give it to my parents. I lived with my grandmother and aunt and gave them the slip of paper when I got home.

“Oh my God,” my aunt screamed. “The boy is blind as a bat.”

The next day we sat in a DOC office across from the University of Detroit on Livernois. They examined me again, without removing my eyes, and fitted me with a pair of brown glasses.

Oh my goodness. So this is what the world really looks like. The images were so sharp and colorful. It was one of the happiest days of my young life. I didn’t even mind the taunts of “four eyes” from friends. I could see.

Two weeks later Mrs Vandenberg stopped class and in front of everybody moved me back to the smart side of the room.

The truth about fake news

One of our burning questions in life is whether we believe President Donald J. Trump called fallen soldiers in World War I and the Vietnam War losers and suckers.

. (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Many of you believe the story. Many of you don’t.

Many hope the story is not true because you are fond of Trump. Many of you hope its true so you can put another dagger into Trump.

Trump calls stories like this fake news. Atlantic Editor Jeffrey Goldberg stands by his story and other media outlets have collaborated his report. Let’s get real today about fake news. The fake news Trump riles about is probably accurate 85-95 percent of the time. The other 10-15 percent is probably exaggerated or fabricated.

I never believed that Trump is a proponent of the First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press among other things. He’d rather govern without this watch dog looking over his shoulder. He cannot get rid of the press. He cannot have a press that rubber stamps his every move. So he does the next best thing. He uses his bully pulpit to denigrate reporters, weaken the press and create distrust from the public.

If a reporter writes a story and you don’t believe it, what good is it?

Reporters do not wake up in the morning with the intent of making up stories. It does happen, but when you are writing about high profile subjects and institutions it makes no sense to. One of your colleagues will see through the lies and call you out. It is not work the grief of putting a story out in public if it is made up.

During my 32 years in the media I worked under the assumption that the first time I made something up would be the last time. I’d be fired.

Journalists also have this working against them. The public wants to believe its organizations, politicians and institutes. It roots against reporters. The public is also less inclined to believe a story with unnamed sources. So why do we do it? It’s because the reporter or news organization believe the story is important enough and using unnamed sources is the only way to make it public.

I never wrote for The Washington Post or New York Times which are two of the gold standard news organizations. I proudly did my thing in my hometown of Detroit. In 32 years of writing I never made up a story. I never had a colleague in the business fess up of making up a story to me.

That’s nothing to brag about. That should be expected. Our job is to report the news as accurately as possible and earn the trust of our readers. We were discouraged from using unnamed sources at The Detroit News. The few times I did I had to go through an uneasy process.

I never had to reveal my source to the public, but I had to name the source to one of my editors who determined if the story would go public. I never liked doing that for fear that the editor might tell somebody and through word of mouth the source would be revealed and never talk to me again. There was also the fear of being shut out by the organization, players and coaches.

The dirty secret about journalism is it is a people business. We get scoops based on relationships with sources and the organization. We don’t get our stories by putting on grease paint and sneaking through the bushes in the dark of night.

Our relationships with sources are based on hand shakes, pleasant smiles, lunches and drinks after work. My sources knew the inner workings of an organization or person and mostly gave out accurate information.

But they did not know everything. Sometimes they missed part of a meeting or misinterpreted something that was said or done. They may tell me a story that is mostly accurate with some details missing or wrong. That is why we try to get a second source if possible. Or I tried like hell to get somebody on the record.

It became very difficult to find sources on or off the record to give you dirt when things are going well. People did not want to make a well running machine look bad or weaken it. However, sources came out of the wood work when they did not respect management or believed the institution was headed in a wayward direction.

They believed leaks helped the product or prevented it from making dangerous or wrong decisions. Then sources came out of the woodwork like roaches.

Trump should not be mad at the media. He should be upset with the people working for him who leaks information.

Now do I believe that four people told Jeffrey Goldberg that Trump called soldiers losers and chumps? Yes.

Does it mean that it is the gospel truth? No.

But it probably is.

The Ivory Tower

We walked silently through a giant warehouse at the Detroit Free Press printing plant that housed hundreds of giant spools of newspaper. Each spool weighed about 2,000 pounds and would eventually be placed on the presses to become the next days newspaper.

I was 19 years old, a sophomore at Central Michigan University, and my summer job was being a heavy cleaner at the Free Press. Our job was to mop up thick ink in offices, the lunch room and eventually the floors inside the presses.

We filled our mops with 20 pounds of red industrial soap and water and scrubbed the place down. I lost 15 pounds the first summer. But there was one problem. I worked too fast and needed to slow down. This is why the entire afternoon shift marched me through this giant room past the 2,000 pound spools of paper.

Finally we came to a clearing where a mattress lay along with copies of the newspaper and dirty magazines. A nice breeze hit the clearing because of a cut out that led to the Detroit River.

The men told me to come chill here for 15-20 minutes during my shift. I was 19 years old and taught by my family that hard work pays off. My aunt knew I wanted to be a sports writer at the Free Press and I needed to show that I worked hard no matter the job. Maybe somebody up top would notice.

“Work like you are trying to be inducted in the janitor hall of fame,” she told me.

David, our soft-spoken shift leader with dark curly hair, did not attend the meeting. He wanted to make his men happy but he also wanted to show management he could be a good leader and get good production out of his crew.

He wanted to work in the Ivory Tower, which everybody at the printing plant, called the downtown editorial offices on West Lafayette Street. David wanted to work there because the job paid the same and was less taxing on the body. I wanted to work at the Ivory Tower as a sports writer.

David was a father of two who lived with his wife and two boys on the west side. He showed me how to sling the mops without throwing out my back and I followed his every move my first week on the job. I learned from the best. I also liked David because he didn’t laugh when I told the crew I was going to work in sports at the Freep one day.

Nobody goes from heavy cleaner to sports writer. David believed I would complete my journey and looked forward to seeing me at the Ivory Tower some day.

The heavy cleaners’ antagonist were the pressmen who produced the paper. They’d deliberately step in an area we just cleaned and talked down to us. We were told to keep our eyes down and do not engage with them.

The pressmen had “chapel meetings” where they bitched about their jobs and discussed ways to make things easier for them. During one meeting someone complained about there being no white people on the cleaning crew. The pressmen were 99 percent white and we we 100 percent black.

One of the pressmen addressed the issue.

“If we are going to bring some white boys in here they are going to be pressmen,” he told the group. “They are not going to work with the niggers cleaning up this place.”

Word got back to us and the entire crew became angry and wanted to confront this dude. Once again we were told to let it slide.

I did not.

“I am not a nigger,” I told the guy. “And neither are the people I work with.”

First the dude denied using the term, then later said it might have slipped out once or twice and that he is not racist.

Then he stopped talking, gave me the once over and said: “I know who you are. You are the janitor who thinks he’s better than everybody because he thinks he is going to be a sports writer.”

Then he chuckled.

“I don’t think I’m better than anybody,” I said. “I just know you are not better than me and the other guys on my crew. And one day you are going to be printing my words, wanting to know what I have to say.”

We bickered for a few more minutes and he reached out to shake my hand. I accepted the hand shake.

But before we left I said: “The name is Terry Foster. Remember that name. You will be printing it some day.”

Word spread quickly about our confrontation. Now I had to face David who I swore to that I would not say anything to the pressman. He was angry but appreciative that I stuck up for everybody.

I just did not want to hurt his chances for promotion to the Ivory Tower.

A few years later I got that job at the Free Press and walked in for my assignments for the week. I stood by the lobby elevators when I noticed a guy with dark curly hair holding a cup of coffee.

David made it to the Ivory Tower and I was thrilled for the man.

Detroit sports questions: You provide the answers

WHO IS THE TIGERS BEST MODERN DAY POSITION PLAYER?

Al Kaline? Miguel Cabrera?

I WANT TO WATCH A NO-HITTER. WHO DO I PUT ON THE MOUND DURING THEIR PRIME?

Jack Morris? Justin Verlander?

OPPS. ONE OF THESE MEN MUST BUILD YOUR FRANCHISE FROM THE GROUND UP. WHO ARE YOU PICKING?

Al Avila? Randy Smith?

MATTHEW STAFFORD IS?

Better than what they say he is? Is exactly what folks say about him?

WHAT WILL YOU MISS MOST IF THERE IS NO BIG TEN FOOTBALL THIS FALL?

Michigan-Ohio State? Michigan-Michigan State?

DETROIT SPORTS IS FILLED WITH NICKNAMES. BUT MY FAVORITE IS?

Megatron? Big Ben? Mr. Big Shot? Miggy? Zeke? Hit Man? Brown Bomber? Georgia Peach? Mr. Hockey? Stevie Y?

THE DETROIT LIONS WILL MAKE THE SUPER BOWL?

In my life time? When hell freezes over?

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS VENUE FOR BASKETBALL?

The Palace of Auburn Hills? Little Caesars Arena?

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SEE AT LEAST ONE COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME?

Yost Arena? Munn Ice Arena?

WHAT DO I WANT TO BE IN LIFE?

A UDM Titan?

An Oakland Golden Grizzlie?

WHAT DO I WANT TO SEE LIVE ONE MORE TIME?

Barry Sanders in the open field? Isiah Thomas in the lane?

WHAT BOXER REPRESENTED DETROIT BEST?

Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns? Joe Louis, The Brown Bomber

BEST DETROIT LOGO?

The Old English D? The Winged Wheel?

FORWARD DOWN THE FIELD

Fires me up because the Lions just scored a touchdown? Annoys me because this franchise cannot win?

BEST SPORTS PHOTO OPP IN DETROIT?

The Comerica Park Tigers? The Comerica Park center field statues?

FAVORITE RED WINGS PRE-GAME STOP?

The Anchor Bar? The Post?

FAVORITE RED WINGS DURING THE GAME DRINK?

Molson? LaBatts Blue?

WHEN I THINK OF THE RED WINGS I FIRST THINK OF THIS MAN?

Gordie Howe? Steve Yzerman?

MY SOURCES ARE TELLING ME THAT A NEW PROFESSIONAL SPORTS FRANCHISE IS HEADED TO DETROIT IN 2021. WHAT SPORT ARE YOU HOPING THIS NEW FRANCHISE PLAYS?

Baseball? Basketball? Football? Hockey? Soccer?

SPORTS MEDIA

PRINT

Detroit Free Press sports section? Detroit News sports section?

TELEVISION

Fox 2 sports? WDIV sports? Channel 7 sports?

Big John Thompson took command of any room

My annual round table discussions with former Georgetown coach John Thompson began with an invitation slipped under my hotel room prior to a Final Four showdown.

Thompson wanted to meet with select sports writers to discuss the state of college basketball, his role in it and how the media could better promote and understand the dynamics of the sport.

There were about 20 sports writers, including Mike Wilbon of the Washington Post, Bill Rhoden of the New York Times and Bryan Burwell of the Detroit News. I was honored and humbled to be part of that group and ended up attending five sessions over the years.

Some Detroit high school coaches also made the list. They sat and learned at the knee of one of the greatest. These meetings usually took place on the eve of the National Championship game in some hotel ballroom.

When Thompson arrived he filled the room. He filled the room with his 6-foot-10 frame. He filled the room with his voice and he filled the room with his reputation and knowledge. It was billed as a round table, but the table always tilted toward the chair that Thompson sat in.

There are few in sports who can command a room like this. Michael Jordan could command a room. Tiger Woods could command a room. LeBron James can command a room. You feel their presence even if you do not see or hear them or agree with them.

This is a sad week for college basketball because one of its enforcers and best coaches in history died at age 78.

Once Thompson told us: “I speak two languages — English and profanity.”

Thompson wanted to explain his adversarial relationship with the media. Nothing personal, he said. Just about everybody who covered the Hoyas got a tongue lashing from Thompson. But his job was not to please the media, it was to help young men and make Georgetown the best program it could be.

“He is one of a kind. There is nobody like John Thompson,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said on ESPN. “There really isn’t and I don’t think there ever will be.”

I’ll admit that I wasn’t a big fan of his under I better understood the man. Yeah, he wanted talented players and wanted to win games. But he also wanted to change lives and save lives. Thompson often recruited players other coaches gave up on.

During our meetings he hammered home his disdain for coaches who did not care about their players. He believed some coaches milked players’ talents and pushed them into a world they were unprepared for when their eligibility ended. Thompson did not believe in four year marriages between program and players. You were a Hoya for life.

He pushed education and helping out your community. Thompson took over a program that went 3-23, won 71.4 percent of his games, made three Final Fours and won the NCAA title in 1984 — becoming the first black head coach to do so.

Thompson fought the system and did more than his fair share to make social change. He pulled his team off the floor for a game in protest of Proposition 42, a standardized freshmen were required to pass before they could play in a game. Thompson believed the test to be culturally biased against blacks. He also riled against the criminal justice system. Then he brought a jailed Allen Iverson to Georgetown to give him a chance. Other coaches gave up on Iverson because of a bowling alley brawl.

Now you see why Big John Thompson could command a room. He was big. He was bad. And he was a man you noticed no matter how big or small the room.