I found my way to my mother's grave. I told her my whole heart. I gave her a report about all her children . we are blame for everything that is broke or missing . I have to fight for them all the time.
Pounene i am tired, I have no more to give, this is too much for me. I began to cry. I was so sure she would get up out of that grave, but she never did. the sun was coming up. death must be a powerful thing , when it wont let you come and see about your child.
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Fourth and Goal!
Where's the Kicker*!?
By John Edward Avery Sr.
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2015 John Edward Avery, Sr.
All rights reserved.
It was the day of the 1998 football draft; my son would be going into the NFL. It is every father's dream that his son would embrace something such as this. Wow. I remember the first time I went to see him play. He ran so as to make a statement to me. Each touchdown, each run, he was saying, "I am just as good as you were, and even better." And he was. I saw a kid run with something I never had; it was artistry, grace, and beauty. He was just pretty to watch. He did everything that night except walk on water. By the third quarter, he had tied the state record for touchdown. Suddenly the head coach took him out of the game. The crowd went crazy. They chanted, "Put him back in the game, you prejudiced m——. That SOB. Let him break the record." But Fogel was not having it. John was not going back in the game, no matter what they called Fogel. I never opened my mouth because I had been there years before.
Once upon a time, I too packed the stadium. I ran with purpose and authority. There was a time I dominated track and football, and now I was looking at one who is greater than I ever was. My son. I noticed something that night, something I will never forget. John was having a bad game. I called out to him, "Come on, man, do something."
The fans began to murmur, "What is wrong with John? Doesn't he realize that every scout in the nation is here tonight?"
Someone called to me and said, "Hey, man, do something."
There was nothing I could say or do to motivate that boy. Then the craziest thing happened. His mother went into the stadium, and the game was transformed. She pulled out of him his creative power. I sat there in amazement and astonishment. What he did on that field that night was beyond anything any of us had ever seen. He ran that ball as if he had eyes in the back of his head.
Someone cried, "You can't teach that! It's in the DNA."
I would like to think I had something to do with it, but I must give credit to his mother. A woman can pull something out of a boy that no one else can. Now I know that a woman can never teach a boy how to be a man, but that night I saw something else. That creative ability that is in a boy, it takes a woman to bring it out. Look at this for a moment. You see men on drugs and with alcohol problems. I believe that they have something in them that can never get out. Perhaps he doesn't have a woman to pull out those inventions and creations that are in him, so his woman becomes drugs and alcohol. Do you remember in Genesis—I know you do—God said a man should leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife? Why cleave to his wife? Because she is close enough to bring out those inventions and those creations that are in him. You do know that man was created in God's image and his likeness, so what is God like? God likes to create. If you don't believe me, look around you. Man likes to create. If you don't believe me, look all around you. He is like his Creator, but it takes a woman to help pull it out of him. You have heard that behind every great man, there's a woman. So, mothers-inlaw, he needs a wife to bring those things out of him; leave God's order alone! Woman and man—they are to rule together.
When I left years ago, they never thought that I would be back. I guess that song is right. "It ain't over for me, it ain't over for me." Now I get to tell my story.
They stopped me from graduating, they stopped me from going to college, and they stopped me from having the woman of my dreams. They had a system in place that was designed to hold a black man down. If you don't have someone to fight for you, it is impossible for you to win. I was a child trying to outthink white men who had perfected the game of racism. I was sure they would give me a pass, but the fix was in. Now I look back over my tenure at Brevard High School. I was no match for grown men. How does a child fight a well-oiled system such as this? I thought I had a chance, but the fix was in.
We caught an early flight from Richmond, Virginia, so that we could be in Asheville, North Carolina, in time for the draft party. It was a fun flight because Jonathan, Joshua, and Janene had never flown before, and it was funny to me to see their reaction to flying, and I laughed the whole flight. Fifteen minutes on the plane, we hit an air pocket and all three came running to me, and I assured them that it was okay. Moments later, they were acting as if they were pros. When we got to the airport, I was happy that someone was there to pick us up, and we went right into Asheville. Not far from there was where I was born, a place called Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. It was out in the country. We did our shopping and went to school in Brevard—it was the city, or we would say we were going to town.
John's mother was from Asheville. I met her one night in 1966 at Daddy Roy's Place. She was very nice, a quiet girl. I told her that there was something about her that reminded me of my mother. We talked a long time that night, and I thought we became friends. I didn't think I would see her anymore because the next day she would be going back to Asheville, and besides that, she did not like Brevard, North Carolina. But three months later, she came back to live with her uncle. We dated off and on, then in 1970 we were married, and in 1979 we were divorced. The problem was unforgivingness.
I was born into a family that walked in a lot of pride. John was five at that time, his eldest sister, Toya, was eight, and Ulunda would have been seven. If the babysitter had been watching her, she would not have run into the street to be hit by a cabdriver. I never got over that! So the marriage began to come unglued. I always blamed Linda because I wanted to change our babysitter and she wanted to wait until the next week, but I wanted to get rid of Rose right then because she had more on her mind than babysitting. I agreed to keep Rose until the end of the week. Ulunda died before the week was up.
When you lose a child like Ulunda, it takes something out of you; she was such a part of me. I could have a bad day, but when I would walk into the house and see Ulunda, things would begin to change. She made the house smile. I felt that I had lost something that I could never find again. I wanted her back so bad, I would have done anything, and anything I did! I went after root workers, astrologers, witches, and men and women that said they were able to talk to the dead. After I spent all my money and time, one day I finally found someone that gave me hope on seeing my baby again, and he did.
After the divorce, I remained in Richmond, Virginia. We had moved there a few years after we had married. The divorce was very hard on me because I did not have Toya and John, although in the divorce agreement I would have them in the summer. I was happy about that for a while, but each time I had to take them back, it became harder and harder. Then one summer I decided not to take them back, and they told me that they wanted to stay with me. So I called Linda and told her that the kids were not going back to Asheville and they would be staying with me. I was complete with having them around; they filled the void in my life. Although I had remarried, nothing seemed to turn out right because I missed my children, so the conclusion to the hurt I felt was not to take them back to Asheville. I would think to myself, This is how it should have been.
I was at work one night when Pat called and said that Linda was at the house and she was taking Toya and John. I left my job without telling them that I was gone. When I got to the door, I burst into the house, hoping that I had gotten there in time, but they were gone. I reached into the nightstand and got my pistol. I looked for them all that night, but I never found them. When the sun came up, I made a promise to myself: I would never get that angry again. Because if I had found them that night, I would have hurt her and the three men that went with her, so I decided not to bring the kids back to Richmond again. I would pay child support through the court. I would pay all medical bills, and I would buy their school clothes, their Christmas and summer clothes. I would see them once a year, and that would be at Christmastime. I told Linda to let me know if they ever needed anything. Toya was the one that would call sometimes and tell me that she needed something, but John never did. It was as if he did not want me to do anything for him. He was my son, but there was something between us, and I knew what it was. It was those years that I missed the football games, the PTA meetings, the hugs; missed to tell him I love him; missed to be there so that he could tell his friends, "This is my pop." He looked so much like me, but inside I let someone else shape and mold his character. I never put me in him. I tell all fathers, shape and mold your sons yourself!
All these things were between us, so I was surprised when my son asked me to go and be a part of the greatest day of his life. He was about to accomplish something that many of us could only dream about. I spent a lot of days and nights before God's face, praying that this time in his life would come, and here it was.
When we arrived at John's house, there were people everywhere. Some I knew, and some I didn't. Cars were on both sides of the street, as far as the eye could see. There were so many people on the porch until at one point I thought that the porch would come tumbling down. As we made our way into the house, friends and family were cluttered in every room until there were only a few inches left for standing at all. I had never been to an NFL draft party before. Everyone was telling me that twenty-nine years ago, I should have been the first one in the family that went into the NFL. I heard someone say, "Man, you had it all. Hey, do you remember when you ran that 9.9 that day and the coach looked at the guy and he changed it to 10.1?" I felt funny. It was my son's time in the sun, and here they were trying to give me his thunder. I politely put my finger to my lips and said, "This is his time, let him shine."
They still talked about what I had done many years ago. Some asked me what round I think my son would be in, and I replied, "First round, nineteenth pick." I got part of it right; he went first round, twenty-ninth pick. The house went ballistic! The news reporter was shocked because no one believed that he would go first round. Now, all the cameras had to move from Leonard Little's house to John Avery's house across town because Leonard did not go in the first round as everyone thought he would. I wanted to tell Leonard so badly that it was just a bump in the road and that he will, one day, be a great ballplayer. Later, I found out that Leonard went in the fourth round to the Rams. I will never forget when Jimmy Johnson called to say he was drafting John. What a great draft party! Many were jumping for joy; some were even crying. Then I heard a voice from the distance—it was Raymond Brothers, John's agent—and he said, "Wait! Stop everything. Mr. Avery, let's pray." We prayed and thanked God for answering prayers, for God had smiled on my son, and for being so good to us.
Later that week, we found out that John would sign a contract for money more than some of us would ever see in a lifetime, a contract for over five million dollars, and he was only twenty-one years old.
I pondered about all that had happened to my son, and then I thought about what should have happened to me. I had those same tools that my son had, but more refined. I had more speed, I had more power, yet I went nowhere with this gift that God gave me. I would ask myself this question so many times: what happened? And now I believe I can tell my story. A story that many tried to forget and some tried to cover up. Others would wish that my son had never gone into the NFL, because at some point, they would have to deal with the way they had treated his father. At some point, someone would have to go back and read the newspaper clippings about the boy's daddy. No longer can it be covered up. It is time for the truth. Not for me, but for them. It is time for them to see their own hearts and what racism had done to them and what it is still doing to them. It has robbed them of their heroes. Another city claimed their son while he could have been theirs. I am ashamed for them, that someone else had loved what they threw away. How I wish that my son could have had his draft party in my hometown. But they pushed us out over thirty years ago. They had taken a real athlete and destroyed him. They speak about the ability I had even until today. When I go back to Brevard, people would be talking about me and not know that I was in their midst. I heard a man talking about me playing a particular game one night. He recalled some impossible things that I had done. The funny thing about it is I never played in that game. Everyone had a story to tell about me, yet there were those who had already determined my end. I was a child in a family of seven children and had no one to help me. I trusted the wrong people. I thought they were my friends, but in the end, they were the ones who set the stage for my fall. Men whom I worked so hard for on the football field and around the track. I had even been invited to their homes. I sat down at their dinner table to eat with them, and we talked about the Lord, and I believed that they would look out for me. But I got fooled and had trusted a fox in a henhouse. My coaches were foxes. They used me to pack the stadium, and after four years, I received the shock of my life.
It started in 1965, the year before integration had come, and we were the last group to transfer to the white high school. Many of us would have been okay where we were, especially those with bad grades. We knew the ones that were going to have problems. It would be those kids whose parents did not take the time to be with them but who went to the PTA meetings. The children who were kept in church by their parents—those were the children with good grades. I must say also that sometimes one finds a child that has all these things against him but still rises to the top. I admire any kid that can do that, but they are few and far between. We also could see that the teachers showed differences in the way that they taught the kids with good grades; it was with more tenderness, kindness, and love. The kids who had bad grades were treated with another standard, and I was one of those kids. I must admit that my situation was somewhat different from a lot of kids. You see, my mother had me when she was sixteen. What does a sixteen-year-old girl know about raising a child? What does she know about vision, direction, and purpose in a child's life? Therefore, I know firsthand that it doesn't get done.
From the time I came into the world, there has been a controversy. Who was my daddy? My mother died before she could tell me. It had been hard for me, and now I was faced with the fact that my mother, my first teacher, had died. She was the one from whom my hunger and craving for knowledge and wisdom would have come. My first teacher was responsible for my inspiration for learning. If she was not inspired for knowledge, what would have happened to her children? I was ashamed one day for what I did not know, and it took years for me to realize that it was not my fault. The person who was responsible for programming my computer was not programmed herself to do the job. A work that was so important the responsibility should not have been put in the hands of a novice. I look around today and see children having children. I ask myself, how can you teach when you yourself have not been taught? Our streets are full of violence, rebelliousness, and stubbornness. Why? Because children are raising children and this is the result you get. If you would take a piece of corn when it is half-grown and make seed out of it, your next crop will be an inferior harvest. Why? It is because you never let the seed reach its full maturity. No farmer in his right mind would do something like that, yet in a way we are like farmers. We have the responsibility to make sure that our seed is ready to reproduce. When I look at society today, I realize the sex, drugs, violence, immorality, and AIDS are there because there are children who were never taught how to be men and women. We have a shortage of teachers, and their substitutes are not getting the job done. There are just some things that take a real teacher to do, one with knowledge and experience. My problem was my first teacher, my mother, never programmed my computer. I was never trained to remember. She could only give me what she had, and now here I was sitting in class, saying to myself that what she gave was not enough.
Excerpted from Fourth and Goal! by John Edward Avery Sr.. Copyright © 2015 John Edward Avery, Sr.. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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