The Week That Was: Marcellus Wiley’s New Memoir

     Marcellus Wiley had a solid ten-year NFL career (1997-2006) as a defensive end playing for the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, and Jacksonville Jaguars and eplayed in one Pro Bowl. The gregarious Wiley is best known to most however for his broadcasting work on ESPN where he co-hosted its afternoon show“Sports Nation” and is currently doing the same on Fox Sports 1’s “Speak For Yourself.” That may account for the title of his just published autobiography, “Never Shut Up” (Dutton Books).

     I have to admit that I picked up a copy because Wiley is one of the few players from my alma mater, Columbia University, to make it to the ranks of any professional sports league. I expected him to tell a number of anecdotes about growing up in a tough part of Los Angeles; his days playing for that perennial Ivy League powerhouse, the Columbia Lions; remembrances of life on Morningside Heights; some obligatory NFL war stories; and concluding with how he broke into television and whether that’s a tougher business than pro football.

     While there are lighthearted moments in “Never Shut Up” it is a surprisingly cautionary tale. His Columbia degree did not prevent him from exercising poor judgment such as hitting nightclubs when he should have been resting; firing his loyal agent, Brad Blank, for rightfully warning him about the possibility of getting cut by the Chargers if he didn’t restructure his contract; and voicing his displeasure with the legendary Bill Parcells, who was his head coach when was with the Cowboys which led to his being cut by them.

    Most harrowing though was his painkiller addiction which haunted him well after his playing days and nearly killed him just a few years ago. He filed a lawsuit against the NFL for failing to inform him about the dangers of the drugs that he was given.

    “I knew that playing in the NFL was like signing a deal with the devil but I didn’t realize the  steep price I’d have to pay,” Wiley told me in a phone interview last week.

     He’s so adamant about the dangers of tackle football that he’d forbid his young son from playing Pop Warner football and would discourage him from playing it from the high school level on up.

      Wiley laughed when I mentioned the number of NFL quarterbacks who are over 40 or quickly approaching it.“Those guys wear red jerseys in practice. If you touched them at all during training camp or in practice you’d get a one-way Greyhound bus ticket. The offensive and defensive linemen butted heads on every play in practice. The actual games were a relief and fun compared to practice.”

    I asked Wiley if he was ribbed by teammates about his alma mater, Columbia. “Every day I was told that I played with a bunch of nerds!” he chuckled.

     Best wishes for a speedy recovery to former NBA star, Archbishop Molloy alum, and Lefrak City native Kenny Anderson who reportedly suffered a stroke last week.

     It was a smart decision on the part the Yankees to sign productive outfielder Aaron Hicks to a long-term contract.

      I get that Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has no choice but to keep repeating how the Mets are the best team in the National League East and why he acted blase upon learning that the Philadelphia Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a whopping 13-year, $330 million deal. Phillies owner John Middleton had promised to spend a ridiculous amount of money during this past winter and he certainly lived up to billing because he wants his team to win now. Mets fans won’t ever have to worry about such profligacy from their team’s owners, the Wilpon family, however.

      Yes, the Phillies may have Bryce Harper and the San Diego Padres may have this season’s other big ticket free agent, Manny Machado, but the Mets have MINDSET. New Mets executive director of player development, Jared Banner, who studied psychology in college came up with the MINDSET acronym that is meant to serve as a corporate mission statement.

     In case you are wondering, M stands for mental toughness; I represents improvement; N is for no excuses; D is for dominate; S means self-awareness; E equals excellence; and T is for total commitment. My guess is that a MINDSET poster will be hanging in the Mets clubhouse next month. I fully expect some eye rolls from players when I ask them if it will be a source of inspiration.   

    We’ve all heard of the stretching exercise known as yoga but do you know that there is something called face yoga and it’s quite popular in Japan? Tokyo native Koko Hayashi is one of the leading practitioners of face yoga and her videos on the subject have a devoted following on YouTube. Hayashi held a press event last week in which she gave a face yoga class.

     According to Koko, wrinkles and double chins came from the loss of elasticity muscles on our countenance that is part of the aging process. Face yoga exercises purport to reverse that.

     Even if you are not concerned about vanity, face yoga helps prevent or relieve neck aches that come from inevitable tension. It also helps straighten your spine.

     Older readers will remember the Horn & Hardart Automat cafeteria chain which served terrific inexpensive food. The gimmick was that you put in coins and turned the knob of a gigantic vending kiosk to get your hot entree, sandwich, or dessert. At the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York held this week at the Javits Center a Netherlands syndicate was trying to drum up interest in reviving the Automat concept.

     Bicycles and scooters have long been part of urban restaurant customer delivery. Organic Transit, a company based in Durham, North Carolina manufactures a pedicab known as the Elf and it is hoping that New York restaurants will buy them because they can stock more orders.

     Also exhibiting at the Javits Center was Maspeth-based beverage maker Hal’s New York which was trying to get better known in the crowded seltzer and ginger ale market.

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