By now I've written a couple thousand columns, and one thing I've learned is that you can never predict how readers will react. People have loved some columns that I thought were barely publishable, and hated some of my favorites. And a few columns I've felt great about have landed on the page to the sound of crickets. There's nothing worse than no response at all.
But I've never been more surprised at how y'all responded to a column than I am about my Sunday column on Jake Delhomme.
The column was about Jake's tears at his farewell press conference, and my take that he cried because he knew his prime as an NFL player was past.
I'm used to some people agreeing with the column and others disagreeing. But y'all took this column in two entirely different ways. It's like you were reading two different columns.
Let me try to sum it up through some of your comments:
From Carol Connor (mother of Panthers LB Dan Connor):
You are saying he was crying because he realized he was past his prime? Are you really saying that? Tell me you only wrote this trash to get comments, otherwise you are a fool. Delhomme was a Panther at heart. He may well be past his prime but if you really think that's why he was crying, well, never mind i think i said it already.
So... yeah. Two very different reads.
I sure wasn't trying to be cruel to Jake, although I can see why some folks see it that way. I opened up with a couple of lines that I'd heard from people ripping him that day, as a contrast with the more meditative ideas later in the column. Some of y'all were in tune with that; others weren't.
What I was trying to do was make that moment about something bigger, about something that all of us might feel at some point in our lives.
That's a stretch, of course, and for some of you it was a stretch too far. Which is fine. Part of my job is to make you think, and one of the best parts of my job is when the comments make me re-think the whole piece. Today was one of those great days. Thanks.
And for the record: I loved watching Jake these past seven years. We should always celebrate the people who bring joy to our lives. He took us to the Super Bowl and dang near won the thing. Let's never forget that.