“…I came here to play…”

I have in my house a tall, glass trophy case.  It sits off by itself in one corner of the living room, and in it sits a few memorabilia of sports from my past 20 years.  Nothing earthshaking…a long bolt that Richard Petty handed me that had fallen off his car…game used gloves from a couple NFL wide receivers…a baseball Reggie Jackson signed and handed to me…and a hand written note from Rick Clunn.

I had asked him a question following the Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, I asked this, “Rick why did everyone fish so far away from the launch, were all the fish dead between where they fished and where they started from.”

He wrote his answer on the paper I left in his door that paraphrased my original verbal remark.

Almost both sides of the paper were taken up with his answer…and it began, simply like this:

“A:  The main consideration when fishing the Classic is winning. Points don’t matter, 2nd place etc. Don’t matter!”

And then he wrote this…something every athlete on the planet should read…something every father or mother should read to the child in their house:  “A limit might salvage a little ego, but the ego must be set aside when taking a chance.”

It is that sentence that I will never forget.

I may be blind to the sport, but I’m not blind to the sportsmanship within it.

It is NOT for the ego that we should play the game, it is for the game, that we should play.

It is for the grace inherent in athleticism, that we watch.

It is for the grace inherent in experience, that we learn from.

For not of ego.

“…don't call me legend…”

Then came Falcon.

And Rick.

And I started reading things like this, “Rick is back…blah…blah…blah"

Tell you this dudes,

Rick never left.

I see in Rick’s eyes, the soul of the outside.  I see a human being blessed to be doing exactly what this universe meant him to be doing. 

I have sat with him, not as he read something about the weather, but as he felt the weather, saw the wind, I would knock on the back of his pickup truck to see if he was awake, having spent the night sleeping in the truck bed shell so he could be fully attuned to the outside.

I once at a Michael Jordan interview watched as he stopped the interview flat, went out onto the court, picked up a basketball, and then with the ball turning in his hands, came back to talk, and twirl.

Saw him come alive, have comfort, with his hands on the roundball.

Rick Clunn, has never left this game.

And trust me when I say this, years after Rick leaves this game,

he will still be a force in it.

“…that's all I have to say…”

For Rick.

Dude..I was beside myself that I couldn’t be there at the bottom of the stairs when you came off the other day at Falcon.

I may have hugged you, which of course may have ruined the whole thing for you.

You sir, are the one who showed me that the outside, is in fact, inside of all of us.

You have showed me, how quiet speaks loudly for an athlete.

You have showed the world, and your fans, that it is talent, it is never giving up, that is the beauty of sport.

Others may walk through this sport, but none will fill the footsteps of Clunn.Others may walk through this sport, but none will fill the footsteps of Clunn.

Not ego.

I cherish our past times.

I cherish our future times.

Read the wind my friend.

Listen to the current.

Honor the sunrise, and sunset.

There are those who came before you.

There are those who will come after you.

But decades from now, when all of us are long gone, and talk comes up of your sport, be that here or gone, when they talk about who played the game, the list will be a short one, but it will begin with this name,

Rick Clunn.

“…cause I came here to play.”


Leslie West


PS:  Hey River, Sage, dudes I still have those fossils you gave me, keep them in the car with me all the time…6 years now…thank you guys…love ‘em.