In 1984, as Chairman of the San Francisco Press Club Publication Committee, I had an opportunity of putting together dinner events. They were always themed occasions where we would salute journalists from both the written and photo world. One evening we featured cartoonists, and among those we saluted and attended the event were Hank Ketcham, who was the creator of Dennis the Menace, Morrie Turner, who drew Wee Pal’s, and Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame.
I recall a conversation with Mr. Schulz, who was known to his friends as Sparky, and he told me the biggest mistake he ever made was making Charlie Brown’s head perfectly round. “Do you know how hard it is to draw four perfectly round heads every day,” he said while laughing about it. I recall something else he said to a question posed by someone else in our group, “Do you ever get suggestions from fans on a cartoon strip?”
Schulz answered, “I tell them if they have an idea and tell me it, I definitely won’t ever use it. But if they watch the strip without telling me their idea, they may see it appear.”
That statement strikes a chord with me. I know that when someone learns what I do professionally during a football season they often will share what teams they think are going to win this week. While there are only two choices for a game, I’m not going to dismiss everything I hear but I can assure you their opinion is not going to influence my opinion.
I recall one year when a person in the audience I had addressed came up to me after the presentation and asked how the season was going this year? We are 5-0 on our top picks, I correctly informed him.
“Wow,” he said, “who do you like this week?”
“The Arizona Cardinals,” I said. That Sunday, a Cardinals with a losing record, was hosting the undefeated Dallas Cowboys.
“”Oh, too bad. And you had won all five games to start the season,” my inquisitor said, seemingly thinking that the Cardinals would be our first loss of the season. He didn’t seem to take into consideration that the Cardinals pick was coming from the same thinking that had produced the first five wins that season.
And yes, the Cardinals did upset Dallas that week.
While I’m not looking for advice for picking games, even though I’m getting a lot of it this season given our uncharacteristic losing overall record, there is one person who I will listen to, my son, Kevin. He was born just one year before I opened Qoxhi Picks, and he has followed the game with a passion that matches mine. Some day, Qoxhi will be his to run, in the meantime he has his own methods at finding winners developed with both my guidance and his extraordinary grasp of math.
One of his grade school teachers told me at a parents conference that when she was writing a math problem on the board she would instruct Kevin not to say the answer so others would have a chance to work the problem.
This year, I would have been better off to follow Kevin over my own decisions. It has been the kind of year that when the two of us agree the game represents one of Kevin’s few defeats and another score heaped onto my losing record. In years past, we have a healthy competition, and I will tell you that in most seasons I come out ahead, but we both succeed.
So, yesterday, when I went to pick up his kids to take them Christmas shopping, he told me he liked the Seattle Seahawks tonight.
I think the Seahawks are overrated; he thinks they are very close to being very good.
Now, since he had the Philadelphia Eagles four weeks ago to beat the Cowboys, and I skipped that game knowing Dallas was in a prime motivational spot while behind in the NFC East standings, he admitted after the game he was lucky to win with the Eagles.
I haven’t had much luck this year.
And over the past three weeks while Dallas was playing the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, I thought an overconfident Cowboys team would get clipped on the point spread. They didn’t, winning all three games by double-digits and covering bloated lines.
Now, I’m off trying to beat the Cowboys, but that may be because they’ve gunned me down three weeks in a row and I just don’t want to get killed by Mick McCarthy’s squad again.
Kevin is not saddled with such negative results, he was right on the Cowboys four weeks ago and he likes the Seahawks with the points tonight. He suggested I take them in this one, but like Sparky, I hesitate to take someone else’s idea. It’s not my play, but I respect Kevin and will root for him to win again … I’m just not betting on it.