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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

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Statistics show that African Americans are more likely to develop colon cancer.
Statistics show that African Americans are more likely to develop colon cancer.

Just do it

This isn't one of your typical rants about the Bucks are in peril or how the Brewers will miss Prince Fielder. Rather than opine in this space as I normally do about who will play quarterback next year for the Badgers or left tackle next year for the Packers, I want to use this space for something entirely different and much, much more important, if you guys will indulge me.

Cancer.

Do I have your attention yet? I hope so, because while not all cancers are preventable, many are. We here at OnMilwaukee.com lost our dear friend and  colleague Tim Cuprisin the day before Thanksgiving after a short but brave and valiant fight with an aggressive form of melanoma. In some way, each of us has been touched by this insidious disease that robs us of loved ones or ourselves.

When I was in college, my roommate and I would often go to his parents house in Wilmette, Ill., for the weekend. And while I never became a fan of any of their sports teams, it was through those visits that I got to know and love the city of Chicago. While staying at Andy's house I got to know his parents as well as his older brother and sister.

Beth was in graduate school by the time I met her. Andy's sister was about five or six years older than we were and was stunningly beautiful. She was not only gorgeous, but was also whip-smart and could disarm you with just her smile. Much to my chagrin at the time, she was also engaged.

Fast forward to April 2004. Beth, now a 37-year-old mother of two small children, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She did not have any family history of cancer of any kind and had seemed like she was otherwise in perfect health. She never smoked, rarely drank, ate well, and exercised.

Beth died in October of that year, leaving behind those two kids who have had to grow up without their mother.

About six weeks ago, I noticed blood in my stool. After a quick search on WebMD.com, I discovered that was one of the prime suspects of colon cancer. Alarmed, I made an appointment…

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A perfect spiral!
A perfect spiral! (Photo: Doug Russell)
Would you like some? Why yes. Yes I would.
Would you like some? Why yes. Yes I would. (Photo: Doug Russell)
You can't make this stuff up...
You can't make this stuff up... (Photo: Doug Russell)
No one wanted to go home.
No one wanted to go home. (Photo: Doug Russell)
The only thing better would have been if the Packers were here again.
The only thing better would have been if the Packers were here again. (Photo: Doug Russell)

Oh, what a night!

I've been fortunate in my career in sports media. I have covered such events as the Rose Bowl, The Masters, the Kentucky Derby and so on and so forth. I've also now gotten the opportunity to cover five Super Bowls: XXXI, XXXII, XXXIX, XLV and XLVI.

Until Sunday night, however, I never had the out of body experience I had while on the field where just an hour before the entire world was watching Tom Brady's pass fall just incomplete, giving Eli Manning and the New York Giants their second Super Bowl win in four years over the New England Patriots.

Let me rewind first.

As the game was ending, my job was to coordinate guests on the field and in the locker room for Yahoo! Sports Radio. So, there I was, on the field as the confetti is flying. I had a beat on a couple of guys that we wanted to speak to, but wanted to allow them to soak in the moment with teammates, friends and family before grabbing them for their network hit. Standing on the 45-yard-line, out of the corner of my left eye I spot an instantly familiar face and voice.

And my bizarre night began.

Yaeaaaah Boy-eeee!! We did it bayyybeee!! were the words and the clock around his neck could only mean one thing. Flavor Flav had a field pass and was headed straight for me.

Keep in mind I don't know Flavor Flav. I've never met Flavor Flav. I've never interviewed Flavor Flav. And yet, there I was, right in his path. And he was looking to hug someone. Anyone. Even a tall white bald guy wearing a suit.

I'll confess I did not know that the former rapper for Public Enemy was a Giants fan, but after me, he wasn't done hugging people, most famously Tom Coughlin. If you never believed me about sports bringing people together before that, believe me now. There are no two men more dissimilar than Flav and Coughlin.

After my encounter with Flav, I grabbed center David Baas for a couple of minutes walking right behind the ESPN set at the time. The only reason I know that was by the dozen or so text messages from frien…

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Jim Irwin (right, seated next to longtime partner Max McGee, who died in 2007) has died at the age of 77 in California.
Jim Irwin (right, seated next to longtime partner Max McGee, who died in 2007) has died at the age of 77 in California. (Photo: Journal Broadcast Group )

Jim Irwin remembered

When I first met Jim Irwin, he didn't have much to say to me.

After all, here I was, this 20-year old kid, sitting at his desk in the first week of my internship at WTMJ Radio in the summer of 1993. He was a legend; I was nothing. I was waiting for my supervisor, Bryan Belmer, to emerge from a meeting with then-program director Tom Baylerian and I happened to pick Jim's desk to park myself in front of.

Looking back on it, I've probably been brusque with an intern or two in my day as well. Especially if you were sitting at my desk.

That was my first encounter with Jim, who passed away Sunday at the age of 77 in California.

Over the summer, the few times we would encounter each other, I tried to chip away at the iceberg. Granted, I may have been this snot-nosed kid to him at the time, but with each encounter, our exchanges gradually got more and more pleasant. Mind you, that summer I wouldn't describe him as "warm" but the day he learned and used my name was a watershed moment for me indeed.

Fast forward three years later, when I was hired at WTMJ in the spring of 1996. Jim knew that he wanted to retire; he just wasn't sure of the exact timetable quite yet. And while his exterior initially was a gruff one, the day his first granddaughter was born, he simply could not wait to show me pictures of her. She was his pride and joy. The smile on Jim's face when he was showing her off is my most indelible memory of him, far more so than any football call of his.

Over the next few years I tried to pick up as much as I could from Jim. Granted, he was very old-school about certain things; my favorite story was that one year on his employee evaluation he simply wrote in "I'm great" to all of the questions posed to him and turned it in.

But while Jim Irwin did not suffer fools lightly, yeah, he did have to re-do that evaluation, rolling his eyes the entire time. "What do they have to evaluate?" he would ask. After all, what were they going to do, fire him?

Until his last…

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The Brewers affixed the 2011 NL Central Division banner to the Miller Park facade this morning.
The Brewers affixed the 2011 NL Central Division banner to the Miller Park facade this morning. (Photo: Doug Russell)
The lift occurred this morning at 9:00 on the left field warning track.
The lift occurred this morning at 9:00 on the left field warning track. (Photo: Doug Russell)
Soon, the 2011 banner will have the same ball marks from home runs as the 2008 Wild Card banner.
Soon, the 2011 banner will have the same ball marks from home runs as the 2008 Wild Card banner. (Photo: Doug Russell)
The 2011 banner now hangs alongside the banners from 1981, 1982, and 2008.
The 2011 banner now hangs alongside the banners from 1981, 1982, and 2008. (Photo: Doug Russell)

Brewers add NL Central Division banner to Miller Park facade

The Brewers today affixed the latest postseason banner above Friday's Front Row Grill at Miller Park this morning. 

At 9:00, workers installed the metal banner alongside the banners from their previous postseason appearances in 1981, 1982, and 2008. 

Pitchers and catchers report to Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix on Feb. 18; Opening Day at Miller Park is Friday, April 6 vs. St. Louis.