Rehab Start

Feb 22, 2023

This is another post with no Illini information. So don't click unless you want to read "Part II" of the last post.

First off, I want to thank everyone for the comments yesterday. They meant a lot. I get that I'm very hard to understand, so to see that some of you truly understand me means a lot. I appreciate your patience as I work through things that 99% of the population is able to avoid.

And I'm sorry that's coming as a bulk thank you. I responded to a few of the comments, but whenever I do that, I feel like I should have responded to every single comment. There were a lot, though (I still have four texts, five emails, and two DM's marked as unread so I don't forget to go through them today) and so a bulk thank-you for the rest will have to do.

If you're wondering, yes, it was cathartic to write that post. My stomach was in knots for a week and I needed to vomit some words. Now that they're out, I do feel better. Someone get me a 7-Up.

I also had conversations with people who know me. Talked to my wife about it. Texted with a few friends. Called my mom (it was her birthday) and we ended up chatting about it for a while. She was probably the most helpful. Especially one exchange:

"You know me, mom. I've always been like this. I don't know why stuff like this offends me so deeply. Why should someone doing something like that can shut me down? I wish I wasn't so..."


"I was going to say weak, but yeah, you're right."

That's really the entire thing here. I'm Teddy Ruxpin with a sports blog. I've been Tender Guy my entire life, and Tender Guy just isn't built for things like this. He's built for, I don't know, giggling like the Pillsbury Dough Boy when you poke his stomach.

I mean, think about it. Think about all the frustrations I've voiced since I made the move to doing this full time. I stopped going to media availability because reporters won't take turns. I stopped writing certain articles because other reporters steal from those posts and those are my toys. I don't want to sit in the pressbox anymore I want to sit with my friends. I may have just turned 50, but I'm basically a tween. A tender little kid who just isn't ready for the real world.

(Of course, being Tender Guy has its advantages. I'm a pretty great husband and father, I think. And a fantastic grandfather. I might not be able to tolerate a media scrum but you better believe I'll learn every one of my grandkids' favorite songs on the piano.)

Anyway, my point is that I read all of your comments, talked to my wife, mother, and several friends, and got my mind right. Times like this it's really helpful to get back to the core of who I am. As one comment suggested yesterday, I need to hit a bunch of 7-irons. Forget the driver yips, just go groove some 7-irons at the range.

So I've decided to make a few rehab starts down in the minors. If there's one single thing I know how to do, it's write offseason Illini football content. I need to block out everything else - especially my Illini basketball nerves - and just groove some fastballs to AA outfielders. I seem to be in a constant state of trying to get my groove back, but maybe this time I can find something on the bus trip from Birmingham to Chattanooga.

Tyler is going to cover the Northwestern game tomorrow night so I'll be able to ignore that. I have the funeral to attend on Saturday and then I'll get on the road and cover the Ohio State game Sunday. I actually have another memorial service to attend on the 4th so Tyler is going to cover the Purdue game that weekend. After that, I'll see where my writing brain is at.

For now, I'm just gonna focus on the offseason football series. Sit down at my desk, put on some Mahler (gonna start with Mahler 2), and try to find my breaking stuff. If I can't, well, I'll just groove meaningless fastballs until I find it.

Y'all might want to wear ankle and elbow guards just in case.


Giovantischixstripz on February 22, 2023 @ 11:50 AM

Glad you are getting right Robert, I was going to ask if it would be possible to lean on Tyler more for basketball stuff In "Times Like These" (great Foo Fighters song for when I'm feeling a little off), but didn't want it to sound like I don't appreciate your angle as well, or that I don't understand that Tyler still has another job.

McGuive on February 22, 2023 @ 11:52 AM

Love this. Very glad that you were able to have productive and meaningful conversations with people in your circle. Looking forward to what's to come.

bkenny on February 22, 2023 @ 12:23 PM

We're behind you, Robert. When you write Illini words, I read them. When you only want to right words that don't have "Illinois information", I still read those too. I appreciate that I feel like I "know you" even though you don't know me. My wife knows your name. I talk to her about Illinois stuff and say things like "Robert said this" or "Robert did this thing" like you're one of my buddies. And that's comforting to me too - I get to read thoughts from an Illinois friend who has some of the same thoughts, feelings, and passion I have for the teams and the university. You've made me a better fan, both from a passion and knowledge standpoint. And when you write "other" articles and share other one-off stories, I take time to either think about the serious ones, laugh at the funny ones, and anywhere in between. Three hours of Robert on the highway? Some of my favorite listening.

Anyway, just wanted to post my support for you here. Next time I see you I'll make a point to shake your hand so I can tell my wife "no, see, Robert knows me too, I swear". Best to you and your family. on February 22, 2023 @ 12:56 PM

Let Tyler cover basketball. Football is your groove and where you shine brightest (and I think why most of us subscribe). And there you are less likely to be Emo Robert. No mo EMO ROBO

BananaShampoo on February 22, 2023 @ 01:51 PM

Some people are able to let things just roll off them like water on a duck's back (I'm one of those people) and others are not (my wife). I realize after being with my wife for almost 12 years that that's just part of the core of who she is, probably being hardwired that way from birth, who knows? But just know that even many of us who are not that way can understand on some level. There is a book I read called "The Orchid and The Dandelion: Why Sensitive People Struggle and How All Can Thrive" by W. Thomas Boyce, It was eye opening to both my wife and I. Might be worth a read, my orchid friend.

AGig21 on February 22, 2023 @ 02:51 PM

don't change

blackdeath on February 22, 2023 @ 03:15 PM

These ups and downs, usually concerning Illini stuff but including glimpses of your life as a complete human, are why I subscribe and really love reading this stuff. I love Illini football and basketball, but they're not my life. It's the same with you, and that resonates. If you lose a few subscribers who want less personal stuff, then lean into that because I am confident you've got many more who are drawn here for the whole package. We can find harder-core Illini content elsewhere.

Like so many, I subscribe here for what you, uniquely, provide.

jdapisa on February 22, 2023 @ 03:45 PM

Offseason football content, you say?

jdapisa on February 22, 2023 @ 03:46 PM

(quietly fist pumps below desk at the office)

jpbrown on February 22, 2023 @ 11:58 PM

Keep doing you. I always appreciate your transparency and vulnerability.

Douglascountyillinifan on February 23, 2023 @ 06:12 AM

I can relate. I am a sentimental softy who cries at hallmark movies I've seen before. ??. Unfortunately, many view it as weakness when in fact it's just a part of who we are. Hang in. Get right, and the content will flow.

Giovantischixstripz on February 23, 2023 @ 08:08 AM

Unrelated, but the photo you chose for "rehab start" is phenomenal. I now want a Congueros de Syracuse jersey.

IlliniJoe81 on February 23, 2023 @ 10:00 AM

Do something fun with your articles. Those are the best ones anyway. It will all work out.

illinois81 on February 23, 2023 @ 02:51 PM

I have paid for other blogs and not found them to be of any value. I continue to renew here because of your unique, personal perspective. Keep it up!

CalifIllini on February 23, 2023 @ 06:23 PM

I pay for you to write about being a fan, and part of what I appreciate is that you are a real human being.

on July 3, 2023 @ 03:59 PM


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