Monday, November 28, 2005


Unscientific list of 2005’s top college QBs…that I've seen:
1 Matt Leinhart, USC senior
2 Vince Young, Texas…a junior?
3 the guy at Notre Dame…junior
4 the guy at Vandy…senior
5 Chris Leak, Florida junior
6 Brodie Coyle, Alabama senior
7 DJ Shockley, UGA senior
8 Marcus Vick, VT underclassman
9 Josh David Booty, USC backup, junior
10 the guy at Miami…underclassman
11 Eric Ainge, Tennessee sophomore
12 Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson senior
13 the guy at UVA…a senior?
14 the Bama backup is supposed to be pretty good…underclassman
15 that Clausen recruit is supposed to be pretty good.
16 Chauncey Stuckey, Clemson…will they move him back to QB?
17 Reggie Ball, GT junior
18 the guy at Auburn…an underclassman?
19 I’m not that impressed with the guy at LSU
20 those guys at FSU
21 the guy at Duke

Movies I've seen recently:
14 Old School…Will Ferrell…comedy
13 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
12 Jurassic Park III…Tea Leoni…sci-fi action
11 Gothiga…Robert Downey Jr, Hallie Berry…horror
10 Top…romantic comedy
9 Dude, where's my car!...Ashton C
8 Gone in 60 Seconds…N.Cage, A.Jole…what a guy'll do for his bro
7 Jessica Stein…made for TV romantic comedy
6 High Fidelity…John Cusack, J.Black, Joan Cusack, C.Zita Jones…romantic comedy
5 The Matrix…Sci Fi action
4 Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle…action comedy
3 Amelie…laugh out loud romantic comedy
2 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones…Sci-Fi action
1 The Family Man…Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni…romantic comedy


Hung around the house all weekend, watching football. Didn’t bother me that GT lost, though it was nice that they played with them the whole game. Is Reggie Ball the Frucal of college quarterbacks? Talented, but flawed. The way he played this year, I suppose no one will unseat him next year. How long will Gailey stick with Travis Bell at kicker? Bell will have the off-season to get back in good graces (have everyone forget how many he’s missed). I love that young UGA kicker, and both punters.

Eating at my brother’s meant I missed the Falcon game, though we watched the end of the Dallas game. Speaking of kickers, Jay Feely had a rough game yesterday. Supposedly he’s had a good year, but it’s got to be tough to kick for a team in NYC.

Got lot’s of sleep yesterday, but I’m still tired from staying up late painting playhouse stuff. Jim was working on his house this weekend, and won’t be back until the 10th. Still more to paint in the meantime. Matthew called me this morning looking for his little game. On the way to work today I noticed he left it in my car last night.

Missed being in Jefferson this weekend…with everyone there, the football in the yard and the paintball/weenie roast, and you know I’m a sucker for all that good food. And I hated that Ceil had to make the drive themselves. But with some good homemade soup and beef stew (and hamburgers and chicken) left over, I wasn’t hurting for food! I only left the house for two short trips, once because we were out of paper towels.

Did get a lot done around the house, getting stuff cleaned up and put up in the attic, organized the coat closet, and got a lot of painting done on the playhouse. Saturday I painted out in the garage until after 8 pm, with lamps out there to help me see. Didn’t quite finish, but it was getting cold. Then I went inside and turned on the game, and painted the boards that I had moved inside. I kept painting until 12:30 am!

I don’t know exactly what the kids had on their lists, but here are some things I had thought of for them, in case they didn’t have good stuff on their lists…
Will…a golf club or two (he’d probably take Ben’s leftovers!), a golf cap (Titleist or Nike), long pants and long-sleeve tee shirts. He did want a Clemson cap. Some of those flip-flops that everyone wears, and/or some Nike “soccer slides” …those sandal things that we wear at the beach…he’ll probably be wearing size 10-1/2 by the time it’s warm again. Hardy Boys books…I can tell you which ones he already has.
Anna…American Girl books, and Boxcar kids books, jeans and warm shirts.
Matthew…I hear Matthew is going to be tough to figure presents for this year…perhaps some games for that thing he plays…is it a color Pixter?

Went to see 'Two For the Money' Tuesday night, with Al Pacino, Renee Russo, and Matthew M. Interesting look into the world of gambling. Don't know if it’s an accurate portrayal or not. Nice shots of Manhattan, but all the football clips of nondescript college and pro teams could have been left out. Matthew plays a nice character, and you think Pacino's character is going to die the entire time. Russo appears to have had a botox treatment, or something.

Should get to the halfway point to my 320 magic number by the end of the week, which is well ahead of the pace I set. I’d said halfway by December 10th, and the 6th is the actual halfway point since I started through year end. I need to keep pushing…yesterday I didn’t make it to a Wendy’s (I should have, as I made a Kroger run). Ceil got one Wendy’s drink, and this morning a coworker had placed three on my desk, so I came out of the holiday weekend about the way I had planned to. I’m also current on cutting out coupons, so I’ll continue sending them in. Late today I’ll check to see if any have posted.

I’ve forgotten to ask my new friends if they’ll be open thanksgiving. In past years I have gone out early, but no shopping this year. Didn’t make it to NP, so I’ll have to listen on-line.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


My problem about writing is, I couldn’t imagine making up an entire story interesting enough to make book length…I’d much rather write about real stuff (Braves, particular real people or events). Not very important to me that my opinion be heard by the masses (I only consider calling in to talk radio when I’m so mad that I’ve lost my head).
Kelly in our small group had her first book published this spring, a short fictional novel...even had a book signing at Johnson Ferry Baptist (she happens to work there).
I won’t leave today until I stuff an addressed envelope with these 16 coupons I left on top my desk last night (under my stapler), and try to mail off 16 most work days. I’ve sent in 48 already (16+16+16), of the 102 total cups so far. Just returned from a 5 cup run…4 were bought by co-workers). Tomorrow I’ll check to see if any have shown up on the account.

Perhaps I’ll try that Wendy’s on 120. I’m beginning to become a regular, hitting the same Wendy’s at the same time every day. Yesterday I had my first large frosty (my first in several months) and it filled me up pretty good…that won't be a daily thing, as much as I like it. My co-workers have been good the past several days to let me get them a coke in the afternoon. If they keep up their excellent help, I can scale back slightly and still finish earlier than plan.

Starting but not finishing...I have a book sitting here that I’ve read 38 of 40 chapters…I won’t put it up until I finish, but it’s been several months. Blame having three kids, but that’s not really it.

Not much else going on, though work is busy with month-end and year-end stuff, and the regular stuff as well as some new stuff.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Miami upset!

This past weekend was a great college football weekend. That Vandy game was something, and I was hanging in there on the GT game. Thought the ESPN announcers were good, it was fun to hear Wes Durham call the end of the upset. After they cut to commercial after the game, WREK switched away from the locker room coverage, back to student programming. I too was excited about the GT win, but as good as they are/can be, I'm trying not to get my hopes up!

The game with UGA is at 8pm at Grant Field on ABC. Those night games are fun, and it’ll be great if Tech shows up two weeks in a row. They say it would be a no-win situation for GT to play Central and they say no big deal, lose and you're a bum. I hoped beating Miami might get them a better bowl, though I don't think GT packs them in as good as other teams (like Clemson). I'd still almost trade that Miami upset for a win over hapless NC State...our national rank would be much higher.

After taking the kids up to the Clemson/Duke game, my twelve year old has been wearing football jerseys ever since, and my seven year old isn’t far behind. My kids were talking about school yearbooks last week, so I drug out a couple of the CHS yearbooks.

NP had a couple from sit with Andy for a Q&A on how they ran up over $100,000 in debt shortly after they were married, and their journey getting our of debt just before having their first child. Remember that messages can be listened to (and videos viewed) on the website...

Ceil was in a hurry Sunday (we left Kidstuf shortly after it started to come home), so we didn’t make a family Wendy’s run on the way home. I made late-night runs both Sat & Sun. Made it to Wendy's Fri-Sat-Sun, which is good, even though my big days will be weekdays. Sent off batch number two, and I need to ready another batch today. Don't know why I didn't do this earlier, but I'm going to start mixing in a large Frosty every now and then…since I love them so much, now they're certainly worth it. Tech was leading with twelve minutes to go, though they'd missed two field goals, when I made my Saturday night Wendy's run.

Watched some aquarium coverage Sat nite, but we probably won’t go until next year some time at the earliest. Matthew wants to go there for his birthday. Will y’all go?

Made progress on the playhouse Saturday, getting the bolt holes drilled, and assembled the four walls and triangle pieces in the driveway. Still need to put some 'finish' pieces of wood around the corners, but Friday hopefully we'll assemble the playhouse onto it's base/floor down in the backyard. Never goes as fast as you'd like, but we're making progress.

I may win a contest every now and then, but it's the Whitakers who get their letters to the editors published! Like sweepstakes, I guess you've gotta send letters to get published.

Thanksgiving sounds like fun. Thursday we're going to brother Frank's house in Suwanee with the rest of the Murphy family. Ceil and the kids will go to Jefferson Friday-Sunday, and I'll probably stay behind to work on a backyard playhouse.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Got a VP from Chicago sitting with me the rest of the AM.

Had another good cup day yesterday, Ceil is finally helping out. Mailed off a batch yesterday for my account, hopefully another today for Ceil’s account. Reaching the one RT mark today. After cutting out about 34 last night, and 14 more this morning (I was on a roll), I think I’ll be cutting out the coupons as I go from now on. Sounds like a good idea to send them incrementally.

Ceil would like to go to Boston, but we’ve been. It’s not far enough away. We both enjoy big US cities. We’ve been to LA, so I’d like to go to SF. That sounded good to the kids. I’ve already mapped out the Giants and A’s schedules…no overlap! We’d have to catch one team on a Thursday or Sunday, then cross the bay to see the other team the next day. It would be ideal to see the Mariners, the only MLB team I haven’t seen.

A co-worker had the idea just now to ask for a large water when buying a coke, to see what happens.

Haven’t read the Hoffman article, but he seems like the type to shop around, then return to his lifetime team…unless he’s so mad that he doesn’t want to go back. Wagner seemed like the type that would like to stay close to home (WVa or Va?). I’ve heard the Orioles are interested, as well as the Met$.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

cups cups cups

When you mailed in your coupons, did you put 32 in a #10 envelope? Send it certified mail? Though the rules say #10, some in that chat room you mentioned said that a bigger envelope was ok. Just registered on AirTran for me, Ceil, and my dad. He’s also named William, and they didn’t ask for age, so that works well. Did put his address in Macon.

Had another good cup day yesterday (defined as several more than seven), with ten. Still kicking myself, though, as I should’ve made another hit last night when I picked up Will at 9:15. As I walked in a Wendy’s on the way home yesterday, I held the door for a mom and her 13-year old son. Both had drinks, and the son had three empty cups.

Saw where Jason Salty…the Braves minor league catcher, had a big game for the USA over Mexico. He had a good year in the Fall League as well. What should JS try and get for Estrada…a SS or reliever?

Emailed Lee, our group leader, with ideas on how to increase small group attendance. We had 3.5 couples missing last week, so I guess we need to schedule better. Guess that happens when we try and meet on Fridays. Next is the Dec 2nd meeting, which I had expected (now that I think about it, we may have a conflict, though I doubt it). Last Friday we missed the Watkins and Longs, and the Fallis’s, worn out from running around, didn’t make it (but now they’re finished with their Friday activities).

Let me ramble with thoughts/brainstorm for a minute…perhaps the group can discuss in the future (or you can get a consensus) which Fridays will be most conducive to having the most group members attend…by looking at everyone’s calendars going out several weeks in the future. This could take a minute or two of the meeting time, though, like everything else, will take longer due to tangents. It may turn out that we meet two Fridays in a row, then skip one or two before meeting again. But that might lead to lesser meetings, or making some families feel left out (if we chose to meet while they’re away).

Just trying to figure out ways to have fewer couples miss our small group meetings, which I “enjoy” immensely (I enjoy the meetings, not couples missing the meetings!). What do you think?

We never go on vacations (except to the beach), but having enjoyed NYC and Chicago this year, we're talking about a trip next year. Then I look around the house at all the things that can go at any time...gutters, heater, AC, dishwasher, plumbing, the van, and wonder if I'm being foolish.
I keep thinking about the computer and remember that there was a time not too long ago that I wasn't spending any time on it...we didn't have one. I guess they are useful and fun (and cable TV and ESPN). Guess we're living in the future.

Worked for hours yesterday catching up on my calendar/scrapbook.

Started Monday with 38 cups…not bad for starting Friday evening. Figure my current pace will get me to the 320 number by year end, if cups hold out. That would allow for maximum help from coworkers, and mean I could drink the cokes I buy. Am I crazy not to try and finish sooner? I’d rather not get more than half before December 10th, based on budget considerations. Two of five coworkers are considering collecting cups, though I expect one to falter and give me any he gets (last night he left the two he had on his desk, and the cleaning woman threw it away). Today I’ve got to get moving on sending in the first 32. Had a good cup day Monday, and got co-workers to help.

Yesterday AM I went with the guy from my current small group to a deal at Roswell Methodist. Only 7 attended…2 entertaining leaders, an elderly chaplain, a biologist, and a graphic artist. But the leaders had a bunch of contacts. Lasted until 9 am, so I don’t know how often I could go if I went back.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Wendy's Cokes

I went three for three this weekend and have momentum going…my count is 18 cups so far. A and M went with me Saturday evening, and all three went Sunday evening after we saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (weird). I’m going to be the type to want to drink all the diet cokes. Friday I got my first five and drank them throughout the day on Saturday…we’ll see how it goes. I had stopped getting ice in cokes earlier this year.

My Friday stop was on the other side of 400 on Holcomb Bridge. An employee said one guy bought 100 cups…said his boss said it was ok to sell them all at once. One thing that worries me is it says…through Dec 31st, or while supplies last.

Never much of a drinker of alcoholic beverage drinker, mainly because I’ve never acquired the taste, except for daiquiris and the like. My vices have always been eating too much, TV, and diet coke. Earlier this year I went on a big diet, as I weighed more than I ever had in my life. Weaned myself from cokes, opting for more water. The diet went great, but I’ve slacked off. Don’t mind drinking all the diet cokes, though. Trying to figure out ways to get my co-workers helping me…perhaps I can bring their cokes in the morning, so they won’t have to stop.

Small group went well, except we had a tiny group…2-1/2 couples. We did ok. The kids put on a thanksgiving play at the end.

Friday night when we got back I started painting some of the playhouse stuff that we built last time, and I stayed up until 2:15 am. But the playhouse guy’s elderly mother had to go into the hospital, so all we did Saturday was go to home depot for some bolts and stuff. So we’re on for next Saturday. Supposedly the parts of the playhouse are ready to be assembled, so instead of working on it for a few hours on Sunday afternoon like we have been doing, the fellow is coming over next Saturday to make a day of it. That’ll give us Sunday in case we don’t finish. I’ve primed everything (with Anna’s help)…even surfaces that will be covered up by finished pieces, to help withstand molding, etc. It’s dragging out, but it’s not bad yet.

So Saturday am I cleaned upstairs, and got sneezing from the dust, as usual. Slacked off in the afternoon and saw parts of Clemson/FSU, GT/UVA, and UGA/Auburn. Ceil and Anna ran around Sat looking for clothes…I got onto to them for going to Chickfila. Sunday they watched SpaceJam again while I cleaned more upstairs and napped.

Last summer’s NYC and Chicago trips were so much fun, and when the 06 baseball schedules came out, I thought a little about where it would be fun to go. Perhaps I’ll get the in-laws and my parents involved.

Lang’s family always went on family cruises back in the late 70s when they were little.

Houston is also in some sort of regular preschool at least one day a week, at Johnson Ferry, I think. Brian is down in Orlando right now, and Susan is taking the kids down to join them for the weekend.

Friday, November 11, 2005


What will we talk about until spring training? I’ve yet to get into the Hawks, though I did switch over to last night’s game a few times. They didn't look too good on TV last night. Whenever I see a close-up of number one pick Williams, he doesn't look like he's having fun. Tech got a great recruiting class, but supposedly this is a rebuilding year with a new cast of characters to get to know, so that’ll take time. Not much going on with us…hopefully we’ll work on the playhouse this weekend. The water taxi sounds like fun. We rode the Staten Island Ferry for fun, and it was a welcome break to get off our feet for an hour. At Thrashers games, be sure to sign up to win the Volvo, somewhere on the mezzanine. They're giving one away at every home win. (ok, it's only a one year lease). Watched ‘Spacejam’ last night…it was the first time Matthew had seen it. I can’t get Matthew to wear Will’s old Air Jordans that Michael was wearing in the movie, and watching the movie didn’t help any. They look good, though. He and Will also like parts of the Steve Martin tribute on PBS, with old SNL clips like a dance scene with Gilda Radner, and King Tut. At Tech I actually performed that song in front of a student Baptist convention crowd of over a thousand. We had a backup band, and everyone, including the dancing girls, was dressed in togas. The leaders weren’t pleased. I guess I won’t pursue the Wendy’s thing…at least I haven’t talked myself into it yet. Today I was driving around at lunchtime running errands, and thought about it when I passed a Wendy’s, but I used a Chick-fil-A coupon. Most days I eat at my desk and don’t go out. Are you making progress? Susan finally got hold of Ceil. Houston takes art on Tuesdays in Roswell, so she’s been dropping by, but it’s when Ceil takes Anna to ballet, so no one’s home. Staci’s IKEA event sounds like fun, but it doesn’t look like Ceil will be able to go.

Toe Kicking

As a kid growing up in Macon in the 60’s, there wasn’t much exposure to the newly formed movement called soccer-style placekicking. Bobby Etter was one of a string of straight-on kickers the Falcons employed, that I grew up watching. Only when I was fully engrained as a “toe kicker” that I was exposed to some of the early sidewinders like Garo Yepremian, the Gogolak brothers, and Nick Mike-Mayer of the Falcons.

In tenth grade I started kicking with a square-toed kicking shoe. In the summer before 11th grade I remember riding downtown with Coach Brodie in his pickup truck, to Charlie Woods Sporting Goods. We went upstairs to the dimly lit attic and picked out a new, perfectly fitting Spot-Bilt kicking shoe. There were cool facemasks up there as well. But wearing a kicking shoe made me different, and I looked on punters and soccer-style kickers as being more cool, being able to do their job wearing regular shoes. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t make myself into a punter or soccer-style kicker.

After my sophomore season ended, I began taking the team ball bag down to the practice field to kick, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I would lift weights with the rest of the team. Sometimes my friend and fellow kicker Ricky Kurtz would join me kicking, but I was out there without fail. In the summer I kept the team ballbag in the back of my first car, the red ’66 Ford Country Sedan station wagon. I would practice kickoffs and field goals, moving around from the left hash marks to the right. To work on my accuracy I would kick one yard field goals, teeing the ball up on the hash mark in the end zone. Thankfully, I was always a guy who could kick it pretty straight, so accuracy wasn’t a big problem.

White cleats were becoming more fashionable, but it was only natural that the Central powerhouse wore black Spot-Bilt cleats. Some of my NFL heroes like Jim Kiick and Fred Belitnikoff would tape their shoes, and as a tenth grader dressing out for the big Friday night varsity games, I taped up my shoes as well. There was a small gang of shoe tapers, most of which were upperclassmen who got playing time, as opposed to 10th grade benchwarmers like me. I did it for the look, but my taped shoes elevated my status, as I would notice Poole and Putnal checking out each week’s tape job.

As a starter in the 11th grade I followed fashion by taping the backs of my shoes as well, creating an almost white shoed effect, contrasting against the black shoes of most of my teammates. The new coaches my senior year outfitted us in white shoes, so I reverted back to my 10th grade look, showing more black, like my current hero Belitnikoff.

Jim Holmes was a nice guy and decent football player. Started at tight end as a senior, but as a junior he played with me on the B team, going both ways. We had nicknamed him ‘Mobile Holmes’, but in the Athens game against Cedar Shoals, he scooped up a fumble and rumbled down the field for a touchdown. But he ran so slow, we were falling down laughing on the sidelines. It took forever, so after that Jim was called ‘mobile turtle’, even by the coaches.

Crazy center Mike Wager doled out the nicknames. Squat linebacker Danny Kurtz looked exactly like the clerk in MASH, so he was dubbed Radar. When his two younger brothers joined the team, they were Sonar and Quasar…by Motarola. Tackle Brannon was the Omeba, as he would engulf ballcarriers in his big belly. One day I lost my balance, and after that was called Surfin’ Murf, not knowing the character from old beach movies.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kicking…the Early Days

As a kid, one year my dad took me to participate in the Ford/NFL’s Punt, Pass, & Kick competition. I remember pouring over the booklet that was published, with stories, drawings, and photos of the Cardinals’ Jim Bakken, the Vikings’ Fred Cox, and the Chiefs’ Jerryl Wilson. Every year I would pour over the booklets, particularly the kickers and punters. My interest in kicking may have been spurred on by the fact that in that lone PP&K competition that I actually took part, I placed third in the kicking part, for my age group. Forget that my kick only went 33 feet, or eleven yards…I was hooked.

The driveway in new house was long and straight, perfect for kicking. Most days after school I could be found kicking my football. At first the idea was to kick it over the wire that served as the crossbar. As I improved, the kicks would sail into the street, then into the yard across the street. I moved back, for longer field goal attempts. The pine tree guarding the end of the driveway has branches that never recovered, and I still look up to remember where the good, high kicks would knock away parts of the branch. The footballs would tear up from all the wear of the concrete.

Playing rec football in the sixth and seventh grades, it never occurred to me to try out for kicker. That job was given to the best athletes. No big deal, as there were few kickoffs anyway, and the rubber balls refused to be kicked as well as the regulation leather balls…though it took me years to figure this out.

My team in eighth grade went undefeated during the regular season, the Browns (though our jerseys were blue!). I weighed 120 pounds, which was the weight limit, and played defensive end and tight end. In the first game they called a pass play to me. Nervous, I didn’t hear the snap count, and jumped offsides. The ball was snapped, and I caught the pass for a ten yard gain…that was promptly called back.

Later in the year the halfback pass right was called. My job was to run a deep flag pattern. Danny threw a perfect ball that I caught, and I turned upfield, near the sideline. Nothing but the green field ahead. As I ran by our bench, out of the corner of my eye I spied the coaches and teammates on the sidelines, excitedly urging me on. The field was 80 yards long, and my touchdown covered 65 yards. Having often thought about what cool thing to do if I ever scored a touchdown, all I could manage was the throw both arms in the air, as teammates came to hug me in the end zone. Another highlight in the season was sacking the QB from behind, forcing a fumble. I also had an interception, when the QB fumbled, and I caught it in midair.

In ninth grade I joined the school team, and for the first few weeks I was just part of the crowd. Then one day before practice several of us were messing around kicking field goals. Later that same practice we worked on kicking for the first time all year, and QB George DuBose let the coach know that “Murphy can kick.” After a few kicks, the job was mine. DuBose was the one who cracked up the bus when leaving for a road game. Coach Jones had made a big deal that everyone needed to use the restroom before we left. As the bus pulled out, from the back George called out ‘hey coach, gotta pee!’ Hilarious, to us ninth grade boys.

Once during practice I kicked a field goal against a rushing defense, and someone hit me while my kicking leg was still up in the air. The hit must have made me land on my head, because the next thing I remember was opening my eyees to see the entire team crowded around me. It’s the only time I’ve ever been knocked out.

Though few opponents kicked point-afters, I was able to kick more and more PATs as the season rolled on. We had a dominating team, going undefeated and winning the 1973 city championship. The Georgia Military College B-team came over from Milledgeville for a game, and we beat them 66 to nothing. Several weeks later we bussed over there to play in their little stadium. After we’d score, their cheerleaders would do pushups. That stopped in the first quarter, and at halftime we had equaled the 66 – 0 score. With the stadium wall located right behind the goalposts, my extra-points easily soared out of the park. Everyone played, and the final score was 96-0…a game still discussed at school reunions.

My tenth grade year was spent kicking for the B-team, and again we were the city champs. It was fun traveling across the state to play, in Warner-Robins and Athens. Wherever we played, my dad would arrange his schedule to watch. He was becoming more involved with the Big Orange Booster Club, eventually serving as president. The varsity kicker was senior David Taylor, who made high-school All-American as a center/defensive tackle. He later kicked for Brigham-Young.

State Championship Season

On team photo day for my junior season, the trainer was handing out game jerseys for the first time. Whenever he’d pull out a jersey, I would quickly call out what player wore that number. He eventually got me to hop the equipment room gate and help him out. This enabled me to secure the number that I prized…twenty-one. The previous 21 owner had graduated, the cool David Poole. The Dolphins’ Jim Kiick was a hero, another twenty-one.

Though my status as the first-string field-goal kicker was never in question, the day that 10th-grader Ricky Kurtz boomed a single practice kickoff one yard deep into the end zone, I had competition for the kickoff job. Unfortunately for Ricky, his kickoff effectiveness decreased as games wore on, the toll of also playing offensive line. After a game or two, the kickoff job again was mine. Though my kickoffs almost always landed around the ten yard line, they were high and consistent.

In the first game I booted the first two extra points flawlessly, but missed the third attempt. The game film caught me slamming my feet up and down (once) in a small fit, and the coaches and teammates thought it hilarious. Lesson learned! That’s how the season went…most games I would go either 2-3 or 3-3. I was able to attempt a few short field goals as well.

In Augusta against Richmond Academy, I kicked off to open the game…a nice, deep kickoff. I was running down the field admiring my kick when my view was blocked by a big Richmond Academy lineman, who promptly knocked me down. I immediately bounced to my feet, only to be quickly knocked down again. This time I stayed down until the play was over. Later in the same game I was hit just after kicking a point-after. The breath was knocked out of me, though I was able to recover enough for the kickoff.

The trainer digged out a practice helmet with a single-bar facemask, and I wore it with pride. Eventually I tried to put it on my game helmet, but it didn’t work out. How I wish I had held on to that old helmet! Our punting specialist, Johnny Crawford became known as Thunder Foot, so I was called Lightning Leg. We decorated our practice helmets with stripes of athletic tape.

Though we won the region championship, the final game of the year was against the dangerous Northside Warner Robins team, led by the speedy RB Tony Dazvan. We lost a heartbreaker, but had a game-of-the-ages rematch the day before Thanksgiving, in the state playoffs. My job was to kick away from Dazvan on kickoffs, and I was successful on seven of my eight kickoffs in the two games, even though he was lined up on the left. It was much tougher to kick to the right, being right-footed. Once the two deep backs switched places before the kickoff, so I adjusted and kicked left, away from Dazvan. My lone screw up was on a wobbly kickoff that bounced to him. We won the playoff game 21-19, with my three extra-points being the difference in the game. QB Michael Jolly scored the winning touchdown on a sneak, with only seconds remaining in the thriller.

I kicked another three extra points in the semifinal win, and we advanced to the championship game in Atlanta’s Lakewood Stadium…covered in Astroturf. I had dreamed of kicking on Astroturf, the perfect surface for kickers. Georgia Tech had donated old Addidas turf cleats to us, and I found one left shoe that was my size (I wished I had found a pair, that I could’ve kept like a few senior teammates did). With an off week before the game, we were able to practice at Lakewood on Saturday and Sunday. This not only got us adjusted to the Astroturf, but we had a great time on the bus trips, and team unity was high. We dined at the state farmers market cafeteria.

The December night was so frigid that I actually wore gloves, years before the practice caught on (but these were heavy winter gloves!). I remember coming out of the locker room to run on the field before the game. Usually I would be one of the first running onto the field, but that night my grandfather was standing outside the locker room. I stopped to greet him, so I missed leading the team onto the field. I feared I had messed with my little superstition. As game time approached, several coaches asked how my footing was, but I wasn’t worried. I should’ve been, as my opening kickoff was low and wobbly.

We scored second to tie the game at six, but our coaches decided to fake the extra point, something we hadn’t done all year, much less practiced that much. The fake was to go left, so I sprang out ahead of holder/QB Jolly and blocked/fell on the only rusher I saw. Though it seemed like the corner was clear for a run into the end zone, Jolly passed…incomplete. We went for two after our second touchdown, but the third TD put us ahead for good. My extra point split the uprights, and we were the state champions, again by a 21-19 score.

kicking...senior year

Though Central was the perennial Macon football giant, the Warner Robins schools were becoming powerhouses, with Air Force families to draw from. Macon athletic resources were split between three high schools. Facilities were old and run down. With the state championship, Coach Brodie broke our hearts and defected south to Tift County, taking his entire staff with him. In his place came a group from another strong team, West Rome. The strong senior class was also gone, including the state player of the year. QB Mike Jolly.

We struggled in 1976, barely making it to the first round of the playoffs. In a repeat of the last year, the new coaches were also enamored with Kurtz’s distance, only to also discover his inconsistency. In an early season game we scored first, and my extra point made it seven to nothing. Our opponents scored, but were unable to convert the point after, and we won 7-6. The article in the paper incorrectly had holder Randy Griffin kicking “what proved to be the game-winner”…robbing me of my moment in glory. Later in the year we won two similar 7-6 games, and once the paper made the same mistake.

In one home game on a wet Porter Stadium field, I attempted a 39 yard field goal from the hash mark, using a hard-to-kick rubber ball. It was a tough attempt that missed, so I quickly shrugged it off. Behind at halftime, Coach Parker was livid. During his tirade, he mentioned “Murphy can’t kick a field goal.” I had forgotten I even made an attempt!

We traveled to International Stadium to play the nationally ranked Warner Robins Demons, led by their three dominate seniors. Jimmy Womack would go on to block for Herschel Walker at UGA. Russell Simmons would star on the FSU defensive line, and later become a popular professional wrestler. James Brooks went on to Auburn and the NFL, retiring as the Cinncinati Bengals all-time leading rusher. We lost 44-0, and I was proud that Brooks didn’t score on my lone kickoff to open the game. I actually got a hand on Brooks during the return, though it would be stretching it to say I made the tackle. I ran off the field and put my helmet on the bench. I then made a mistake…I borrowed a comb to smooth my long hair before doffing a ball cap, an act noticed by friends and family in the stands.

Our season ended with a first round playoff loss in Augusta. Our only score was a field goal that I kicked high and true. On the ensuing kickoff, for some reason the ball wouldn’t stay on the tee, and we had to have someone hold it upright.

As the playoffs wound down, I eagerly awaited the newspaper’s all-city team, hoping to finally make the honor. The previous year several teammates from the state championship team made all-city, but the kicker was the talented running back Dazvan. They didn’t have room for him in the backfield, so they gave him the kicker slot! But this year the all-city team was published without a kicker! I couldn’t win!

Kicking at Tech

While I gave a tiny bit of thought to continuing my kicking career in college, I was truthfully tired of the daily practices lasting from August to Thanksgiving. Attending Georgia Tech games, I focused on the chunky freshman walkon kicker from Atlanta, Johnny Smith. A straight-on kicker like me, his leg was a little stronger than mine. Got to know him in the math class we shared.

With Grant Field open to students during the week, I would sometimes walk over and kick there on the Astroturf. Once the school sponsored a student field goal kicking contest, and friend Tom Jones and I signed up. Out of practice, neither of us won, but I made it through several rounds of the rainy afternoon competition.

The next few years I kicked for the intramural team, and I only saw one other team kick field goals. I also enjoyed blocking from the fullback position. In my best game I opened the scoring with a one yard scoring sweep to the left corner, and kicked the point after. I added two field goals. Late in the game, it was decided to pass to my roommate Warren Hammonds, the halfback. Warren was covered on the play, so QB Randy Rhodes threw to his secondary receiver…me. I caught the ball and stepped into the end zone, scoring all the points in our 19-0 victory. But the play that gave me the most satisfaction in the game was an early pass play. The little linebacker blitzed, and I stepped up and hit him a good one. He didn’t blitz the rest of the game!

Living in the Baptist Center afforded me the chance to kick in the large meeting room, at night when few students were around. Luckily I never broke a light fixture! However convenient, it was still unadvised, as the ball would leave marks high on the walls and ceiling. I eventually had to climb a ladder and wash off the marks.

Eventually my leg did get stronger. On a blustery day I walked over to Rose Bowl field for another solitary kicking session. After many shorter kicks I paced off a fifty yard field goal, and made one…a career long.

As the years wore on I fell further and further out of practice. Once I kicked with UGA backup Paul Frate at the Dunwoody High field, and a few times on the North Fulton field with Lang. Though I can still kick somewhat respectably to Will on the driveway, it’s a far cry from the glory days.

Wendy's / AirTran

Thinking of hitting Wendy's on the way to and from work, and/or at lunch, as well as making it the fast food place of choice the rest of the year. Picked up Matthew after the doctor's appointment and took him to…McDonalds. While sitting there drinking my diet coke, looking out the window, directly at Wendy's, I realized that I wasn't off to a very good start. Was walking out the door yesterday and barely had enough time to check it out. Going to my doctor who is always drinking diet coke, I told him about it…but he's not a big traveler.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


May have told you about my co-worker Jeff, who just got the golf bug this year. He’s young and single, so he has the time and money to jump in with both feet. He spent long hours at the Tour Championship this weekend, and got autographs from David Toms, Jim Furyk, Paidrick Harrington, Kenny Perry, and Tim Herron. Jeff’s girlfriend asked Elin Woods for her autograph, but was turned down.

Speaking of vacation, I was thinking I had 20 days this year, but I really only have 17 or 18. I burned several a few weeks ago, because I thought I plenty. My boss doesn’t care that much, and nobody really keeps track closely. But I won’t be goofing off much in December! I do need to take off Dec 27th, just because it’ll be a huge hassle to pack and come back from SC the day after Christmas.

We’ve been doing the ‘defining moments’ DVD series, and it’s spawning some half decent discussion. And though everyone just watches TV for 15 minutes, you don’t get too bogged down by a book. But as we’ve discovered, not all small groups are great/committed…I wonder if this is an issue being discussed by the church big-wigs?

Monday, November 07, 2005


Friday night we went to a party at a real nice house in Vinings, down the road next to the Vinings Jubilee. Normally I don’t gush, but there were several real nice houses there by a lake. We barely knew who the people were that were hosting the party for Mark, turning fifty. The guy who married us was there…hadn’t seen him in maybe 15 years. He had cut what was left of his hair real short, so he looked like Lance Armstrong. Lots of people there from the Buckhead Church, including two staff members. By the time we picked up the kids at their friend’s house, it was 11:30 when we got home…late for us.

Watched the replay of last week’s GT/Clemson game, and from the way Bowden looked after Whitehurst threw for five yards on 4th and seven, I thought that may be why Whitehurst isn’t starting. Smart not to tell the press.

Left home Saturday morning at 6:45 and made it up 85 to the Clemson/Anderson exit by 8:45, after a stop at Ceil and Matthew time to changes clothes before her family arrived. We drove in to the campus and walked around to view homecoming displays, and grandfather got Will a purple Clemson jersey in ‘downtown’ Clemson, before we tailgated. Ceil sat with her mom in her parent’s regular seats, and the rest of us had seats on the top row of the upper deck…but there was a great view of the field and surrounding area. Matthew hasn’t been to many football games, but you could tell his interest level increased over the weekend. Clemson’s marquee QB Charlie Whitehurst didn’t play, but the backup might’ve been more interesting to watch…a white kid who threw pretty well, and could fake, option, and run good as well. Lackluster second half. South Carolina will probably beat Clemson this year.

Stopped by the Commerce outlets on the way back, and ate at Cracker Barrel, so everyone was grouchy on the way back. I walked in the door and fell on with couch, with Miami leading V.Tech around halftime…and fell fast asleep.

They often say they made North Point the way they did because Atlanta didn’t need another church like all the others, and I think that’s what attracted Ceil and me to it so much. The music is great, but that’s not the huge attraction for me. The messages are what my boss calls ‘post-modern’, in that generally it’s not a guy pretending he knows all the answers, and has it all together, and here’s what you sinners need to do. It’s more like Andy is saying this is what I (he) needs to do, and maybe we all need to do this as well, because life generally has less complications, etc, if we do. There’s one simple point communicated, as opposed to three or four.

Having sat in church services most of my life, there have been good sermons and speakers, but I’ve never left thinking “this was one of the best services I’ve ever been a part of” more often than I have at North Point. That said, yesterday was good, not great. It’s slowly coming back (guess I should take notes)…

The idea was not that you need to give everything to the church, but instead think of ways to use what you have (from God) for God’s kingdom. Gave the example of a couple letting the early North Point staff use their basement as their first office…just gave them a key and said to use it for whatever you need. He said the people have moved, but he still drives past the house and remembers how great it was that the people did that.

Then he said that everyone he had encountered that had changed their mindset from spending on themselves to thinking of ways to use their time and possessions for God and others, they would choose not to go back to spending for themselves. Compared it to the first time he talked to his boys about girls, and they were “eck, girls!? Never!” …boys and frogs are great, but being on the other side, he knows he wouldn’t go back.

At the end he held up a watch and a dollar. Compared to God, no one has very much. Amounts don’t matter, but how they are used does. Ceil worked in her four-year old class and got the CD. Yesterday afternoon Will and I worked around the house while Ceil ran errands.

Here’s some photos my friend/coworker Jeff took this weekend at the Tour Championship over at Eastlake. Even if you don’t like Tiger, the trees, scenery, and behind-the scenes aspects make them worth a look. Also some nice zoo photos for the kids!

Will be interesting to see if the Braves sign Furcal. If they don’t, that’ll leave plenty of money for relievers.

Friday, November 04, 2005

2006 schedule

Had to make up my 2006 excel calendar and plug in the new Braves schedule...hopefully I'll get to see...Blue Jays, perhaps the Red Sox, though I’ve seen them several times…same with Baltimore. The Cardinals…maybe for Will’s birthday July 5th…I keep missing them. The Pirates…it’s been a while since I’ve seen them. Maybe the Giants, especially if the Bonds storyline is enticing…same with the Astros/Clemens. It will also be interesting to see if/who comes in for a preseason game. Tomorrow if we leave by seven, that should be plenty of cushion, even if we stop for something to eat. It’d be nice if the kids didn’t look like they just woke up…so we’ll need to take the van to have extra room, plus we’ll have extra passengers to ride to the stadium. I was thinking there might be a chance to drive the Civic, but that won’t work out.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Would’ve thunk Otis Nixon was the leadoff hitter in 91 and 92…but Deion Sanders got more at-bats. Got to do a better job of keeping up with the off-season stuff…I’ve been busy this last week. If Andruw has won the League’s best fielder and best hitter award, playing for a division winner with 17 rookies, shouldn’t he be MVP? Nice to see him on the Series pregame with Ortiz. Have to be up at Clemson at 9 am Saturday. It’s tough for us to get to North Point by 8:30!

season-ending thriller

This past Saturday Will’s Dodgers won another thriller, in the bottom of the last inning. He had a big hand in the victory, pitching four innings without allowing an earned run. Seven of the twelve outs on strikeouts (against only one walk and two bloop singles), and 70% of his pitches were strikes, the best he’s done all year. At the plate he collected two hits, including a double, and stole a base and knocked in a run. He scored two of his team’s six runs.

Will played the first two innings at shortstop, fielding the only grounder hit to him, throwing out the batter to end the first.

In the bottom of the first and a runner on second, Will drove a two-strike pitch deep into center-field. The outfielder made a nice catch, but the runner was easily able to tag up and advance to third.

Will came on to pitch in the third and struck out two, and got the other out by fielding a bunt and throwing the runner out at first. In the fourth he retired the side on ten pitches, including one strikeout.

Down three to one in the fourth, Will led off and lined the ball into the left-centerfield gap for a stand-up double. He scored on Christian’s double, then Christian scored to tie the game.

The Dodgers committed two errors in the fifth, again falling behind by two runs. With time running out, Will got all three outs with strikeouts in the sixth.

Allen led off the bottom of the sixth with a hit, and Will’s grounder knocked him in. The left-handed pitcher had a great move to first (earlier he had picked off two other Dodgers), and he threw over several times to hold Will, the tying run. Will broke for second when the pitcher finally went home with the ball. Even though the pitch was a pitchout, Will was safe at second. He advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored to tie the game on Christian’s double.

After Alex reached, Kurt singled to left, driving in Christian to win the game. After the game we had a pizza party, then another father/son wiffleball game…Matthew got to play this time.

The Dodgers finished the year with twelve wins and one loss. Will was the winning pitcher in eight games, including this last one. His pitching stats were the best of his career, allowing an average of only ½ of an earned run per inning pitched…29.3 innings pitched, 38 strikeouts, 58% strikes…and only 4 wild pitches out of a total of 499 pitches thrown. He pitched exactly half of the innings the Dodgers played, after having hardly pitched at all the last two seasons.

Offensively, Will also put up some good numbers…
…leading the team in times reaching base, plate appearances, and stolen bases.
…tied for the team lead in walks, triples, and assists,
…second on team in doubles and total bases
…third on team in runs scored.
He also struck out less than anyone else, except one.

You know I enjoy writing those things up, and I’m filing them away as well. Wish I had thought more about the timing of Saturday’s game, and we could have tried more to get Ben and Rusty to come in early for the game…as well as the Halloween Carnival Saturday night, they could’ve gone with us to the Thrashers game, as I had tickets.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


On one of Steve Martin’s numerous appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, several times during the interview he apologized for not being able to stay through the entire show. At the end of his segment, instead of remaining seated, he stood up, shook Johnny’s hand, waved good-bye to the audience, and walked off-stage, as the crowd applauded.

After the commercial, as Carson was about to announce his next guest, Martin came shuffling out from behind the curtain, head bowed, crying. “Please” he begged, “can I come back? I really didn’t have anywhere to go. I just wanted to be like those big shots who leave early…Can I stay?”

I spend more in cash than credit. But lately I carry around only a small amount of cash, less than $20.00, never spending it unless I get in a cash only situation. I think the time I spend manually writing checks, balancing the checkbook, and categorizing expenditures helps me get it in my head where everything’s going. I am ready to graduate to on-line bill pay, I just haven’t taken the time to do it yet.

Miami is going to wear some of those ugly Nike jerseys with the sleeves two different colors, like Florida and Va. Tech.

See the AJC article on Clark Howard Sunday? I always wondered what his wife Lane looked like. He just bought a scooter, and traded his Honda Insight for a Scion, though I don’t know which model (probably either the cheap, tiny one or the box, as opposed to the sporty one). I wondered who bought the mega-expensive jewelry at Costco, now all of Atlanta knows that it’s Clark.

Here are some statistical tidbits on the guys, not to mention how much everyone improved and played well, particularly in the clutch...
Mark...led team with 38 putouts, had game-winning RBI with his walk-off hit against Kennesaw.
Curtis...led team in sacrifice bunts, third on team with 9 RBI. Made numerous diving catches and clutch plays in both the infield and outfield.
Garrett...led team in hitting and on-base percentage...third in assists. Was a very alert baserunner.
Kurt...led team in hits with 16, second with 10 RBI, third in stolen bases, had game-winning, walk-off RBI single in the last game.
Christian...led team with 13 RBI, 15 assists, doubles, and ERA, second in average, on-base percentage, and runs scored.
Will...led team in stolen bases, times reaching base, and strikeout-to-walk ratio, second in total bases and fewest strikeouts.
Nathan...tied for team lead in walks, got first two career hits and RBI, greatly improved at the plate and in the field.
Allen...led team in runs scored, total bases, triples, and fewest strikeouts, second in stolen bases. Greatly improved his hitting and pitching.
Joe...among leaders in hits with runners in scoring position (he had 8 RBIs and 8 hits), had defensive play of the year with his barehanded catch at second.
Russell...second on team in fewest strikeouts, 3rd in strikeout-to-walk ratio, 5th in making contact/putting the ball in play.
Alex...second on team with 22 putouts and had the fourth most walks, though he played in the fewest number of games.

Similar to what they do with the North Point kids, last Wednesday Anna went to Eastside Baptist, and came home with a flyer where they were showing the Incredibles. Unfortunately, kids today have seen all the movies several times on video. Us Murphys certainly aren't videophiles, but we own both Ice Age and the Incredibles.

Remember back in the good old days...SPdL used to show family movies in the fellowship hall. They'd put up a screen on the stage, and Don Head or David Downing would operate the projector. The movie would be something like Benji, but us college students would come, as would the teenagers and schoolchildren.

I doubt my Halloween was as exciting as yours…though we went to a fun party Saturday night, but it was outside (cold!). Some neighbors had spooky noises piped out to the neighborhood, but that was about as fun as it got.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

halloween weekend

Didn’t get everything done yesterday for month-end, as several things came up as the afternoon wore on. Luckily the stuff I did last week was good enough, as I completely forgot to take a last look at a couple of reports. What got left out was just the difference between an A and an A plus job by me, but the numbers worked out on the positive side as opposed to being negative. Still have lots to do.

The Johnson Ferry Halloween Carnival last Saturday was amazing because so many people go. Only the ferris wheel line was way long, and they had lots of stuff for kids 14 on down. For the second year in a row it was hard for our group to stay together…the girl’s Anna’s age go one way, and the boys Matthew’s age go somewhere else. Will found friends his age to hang with. It filled their back parking lot, but it was on the chilly side, so the activities inside their gym were popular. The chili, hot dogs, drinks, snow cones, popcorn, and cotton candy were cheap and easy to get, though the funnel cake line was long. Not a good idea for my to gobble down a bowl of chili, then hop on the teacups-style ride with Matthew and his buddies. George Wright was hanging out at the popcorn stand, but I didn't see any Condras this time.

I remember the year I took Lang and Claire trick or treating. Our kids went out trick or treating with the neighbor kids. Pirate Matthew and cowgirl Anna both took off their uncomfortable boots (not made for walking, I guess). Matthew came back, sat in a chair, crossed his legs, and stuck his head and hands inside the pillowcase he had his candy in. Will went with the younger kids, then went longer with other older boys. Then we all watched some of Ceil’s new favorite movie, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Made a little progress Sunday on the playhouse, setting the cinder-block "foundation" and building the triangles that will hold up the roof. Hopefully we’ll finish by Thanksgiving.

Friday Mark turns fifty.

Have yet to tabulate Will's results...hopefully by tomorrow. They aren't many boys who have played so many seasons at his parkas Will, so I started thinking that he's probably near the top of any park statistical list of career games played, hits, walks, doubles, triples, stolen bases, putouts, assists, double plays...maybe eventually some pitching categories as well. It's something, but I know not much.

With the baseball season ending this past Saturday, we head out of town this weekend, meeting up with in-laws to attend the Clemson-Duke homecoming “college football game”.

Will has some old TWIB videos with Roger McDowell’s antics, but we trust JS and BC will continue to make good decisions. Heard that they had a list of candidates, but were so impressed with the interview that they went ahead and hired him.

I too was thinking the message was similar to previous messages, and wonder what will fill the next five weeks. He hinted at some of it. I use Excel as well, tracking as much as possible, though I need to make some improvements (utilities and other checks aren’t posted/totaled with credit and cash purchases). Ceil has her bi-weekly ”budget” that certain items are supposed to come from, and overruns and other stuff (like gas) goes on the credit cards, that gets paid off every month. I gather receipts to post, but don’t hound her about every penny. Like Andy said, though I’m detailed oriented, Ceil is the opposite.

The way I have it set up, I can go out in the future and see how things look (bleak, with Christmas looming!). As easy as it is to fret about how we’ll get through, it really seems to be a God thing that we’re always able to make to through. Cash will come from unexpected places…I wasn’t expecting a coach’s gift at Will’s team party, so I was surprised when there was a quite nice one.

Not long ago I stumbled across a cheap book, Secrets of the Code, by Dan Burstein. Didn’t read it, did you? Don’t have any idea where he’s coming from yet.