The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 21, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN- Acts of kindness exist despite changing times

MORGANTOWN — It came to me a couple of days ago, really, and not in a sports-oriented manner.

Having spent much of the day flipping through the news and talk stations, it became readily apparent that far more was being made of a traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge, something I lived with for the first 21 years of my life, than was being made of the poisoning of the Charleston area water supply, an ecological horror that could not be escaped simply by making a U-turn and heading to the Lincoln Tunnel.

The rationale, of course, was that one was occurring in Charleston, West Virginia, which happens to be the capitol of a state that half of America still believes is part of Virginia, and affected a population that same group of people saw as shoeless and still acting out the Hatfield and McCoy feud.

To those who ran the networks, it was far sexier to shine the light on what seemed to be political corruption and a true heavyweight among politicians in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

This was accepted as life as it is and, in truth, most of the time it is far better to have the networks paying attention elsewhere, allowing us to lead our lives the way we want to lead them.

There is, however, a bit of injustice that comes forth, too, as evidenced on Sunday night

when the brash Seattle Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman, supposed as erudite a football player as you will find, having graduated third in his high school class and educated at Stanford University, flew off into a post-game rage that pushed two great playoff games and even the seemingly unpushable Chris Christie out of the featured spot in the morning news.

The initial thought to run through an idle mind was that if Sherman were as smart as advertised, he certainly wouldn’t have wasted his few moments living out the American dream — which is not going to the Super Bowl but instead being alone on TV with Erin Andrews — acting like his nickname.

But having been raised in another era, a time when sportsmanship was not only appreciated but demanded ... at least right up until Muhammad Ali changed America in so many ways … it seemed as though moments like Sherman’s need not be glorified or replayed until memorized by 97 percent of the population.

See, on this very same day that Sherman turned Erin Andrews into something barely beyond a statue of a woman with microphone in her hand, unable to say anything beyond “Back to you, Joe,” in West Virginia a cool story was taking place.

True, it wasn’t of national significance, but certainly it shined far brighter than Sherman’s 15 seconds of fame.

Pat Eger is a West Virginia football player, one who would someday like to have the same stage Sherman occupied, and one can stand assured that he would make far better use of it than did Sherman.

An offensive lineman hoping to find someone to take him into the NFL this season, Eger gathered with family and friends as he donated his long, strawberry blond locks to charity.

Eger had been growing his hair out since September 2010, and it had grown to almost a foot in length.

“Josh Jenkins and I were walking around after class to get our haircut, but then things changed,” Eger explained. “We agreed to grow our hair out and the first person who got their haircut had to buy the other dinner.

“Josh lost, and he bought me dinner. But then, I just kept growing it out. I loved it. After a while, I thought what better way to cap off my community service and everything I’ve done here in Morgantown than to give back. With this, I’m able to give it to someone who needs it.”

Eger donated the hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a charity that permits individuals to donate hair for women and children who have lost theirs due to cancer treatment.

“The organization donates 100 percent of their wigs to children and women with cancer and in need,” Eger said. “I thought Pantene was a good fit for me because it was more straight charity. I just like giving back.

“It’s in my blood and in my nature. My mom always taught me that sometimes it’s better to give than receive. That’s how I was raised.”

It’s a small gesture on Eger’s part, yes, certainly worthy of the local news but not national, yet it offers the perfect contrast to what has become our national obsession, be it the dirt in politics or the lunacy in a sporting world where the outcome of a game is becoming more important than the realities of life.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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Bob Herzel
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