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Feb. 25, 2009

I'm used to waking up before the cock crows these days. The early morning radio business will do that to you. But this was a Saturday. No radio show to do. No alarm. But awake I was just the same. Something wasn't right.

That something was me.

I knew immediately I was at least a foot off the fairway. But it was when I stood up - or tried to - that I knew I was sick. Great. I'm not sick very often. Never really. And by sick I mean in-the-bed-sick. I eased back into the bed and thought perhaps an hour or two more might help me feel better. Couldn't hurt.

When I got back up I struggled to shave and barely made it through the shower. Luckily we have a seat in our master shower. Otherwise I would have finished that one on the floor. A few minutes later I felt a little better. I won't get into the details as to how I came to feel better as I'm sure you could guess a couple of ways that might happen. I made it into the couch in the den to figure out how I was going to make it.

Because it was game day. Wake Forest and Florida State tipped at four o'clock. I didn't have all day. But I did have a few hours. Surely I could battle through whatever malady had attacked and make it through a two hour broadcast. I had done it before. Many times. But never as a 48-year-old. One thing was for sure. There would be no eating. With what I had experienced earlier in the morning, eating anything seemed like a waste of time and food. I would have to do this game off the fat of the land.

I called everyone necessary at ISP and Wake Forest to let them know that getting ready for Plan B would probably be a prudent exercise. I was 50-50 at best. Get ready for me not being there. If I can make it I will.

Well, I didn't make it. Not even close. As the morning grew into midday the fever set in. As a younger man and in the early days I would have fought, perhaps unwisely, to make it anyway. But this time I knew there was no use fighting it. That was a battle I would lose.

For the first time in my 29-year career - I was going to miss a game.

I wasn't very happy about it. But I knew it was best. Not just for me - but for you, too. I would have sounded like "death on a cracker" to use a Jim Grobe phrase. Besides, one of ISP's young, talented guns, Alan York, was sitting on go and already at ISP preparing to call the game.

So Alan teamed with Dinger to bring you the Wake Forest win over Florida State, and I sat at home and watched (with TV sound down listening to the Wake Forest ISP Sports Network) as the Deacs dominated the Seminoles from start to finish.

So many of you were kind to call or drop an e-mail of best wishes. And many more of you came by courtside before the Georgia Tech game to check on me. I appreciate your kindness very much, and I wanted to take the opportunity in this column to tell you so.

I certainly hope it's the last game I ever miss. I don't plan on starting a new 29-year streak, though. I think I will have called enough games well before then to let somebody else have a shot at it.

But I still have some years left. And on the way, the thought of sitting at home again while the Deacs are playing makes me sick.

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