My apology to Russell Wilson


First order of business, since I’m Monday-morning quarterbacking, is to apologize to Russell Wilson.

Yes, he’s the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, and I was rooting for Peyton Manning. I wasn’t rooting for the Denver Broncos. I don’t know most of them. Well, I don’t really know any of them.

I was rooting for Peyton because I like to root for history. I wanted him to become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. I wanted him to reach the highest pinnacle he could. And then I wanted him to retire.

After his injury and doubts about his return to football, he not only found a team, but he was relentless with that team, pushing them to the Big Game like old times. But it wasn’t like old times. I winced every time a defender got CLOSE to him. I was worried about his neck every game of the season.

But back to that apology.

I was so focused on Peyton that I paid no attention to Russell Wilson, a phenom from Virginia who played at N.C. State in my home state, a young man who turned down a professional baseball contract offer from the Baltimore Orioles while playing football and baseball at the Collegiate School, a Richmond high school, because his father wanted him to attend college.

Read The Washington Post’s Kent Babb describe his journey:

2019947954“Harry Wilson, the son of educators, was living with adult-onset diabetes. His vision was disappearing and his health was deteriorating. But he wanted his son to earn his degree. Russell had heard for years about how the family valued education and about Harry’s father, who was once the president of Norfolk State University and whose sons had become attorneys. With an education, Harry told his son, who knew what greater opportunities — bigger even than a million-dollar bonus — were possible?

Young Russell agreed, making the pledge and turning down the Orioles. And like when they let their hair grow, the father and son could experience this together, too. He signed in 2007 to attend North Carolina State, where he’d play baseball and football, beginning an unexpected journey to the Seattle Seahawks and the Super Bowl.

“Harry planted a dream in Russell’s mind,” said Ben Wilson, Harry’s brother and an attorney in Washington. “And now we’re all watching it come to fruition.”

The brothers occasionally traveled to Raleigh, N.C., Ben leaving his home in Northwest Washington and picking up Harry on their way to watch Russell.

When Harry’s disease sunk its teeth in, his eyes no longer working, they’d sit at Carter-Finley Stadium with Ben describing the action to his brother…”

I didn’t know that in advance. I didn’t read the reams of pre-Super Bowl coverage. I didn’t watch the coverage leading up to the game. None of my teams were in it, so I missed the biggest story of this year’s game.

redskinsMy teams are Washington and New Orleans. So when they’re not playing, I’m watching the Super Bowl because it is an American tradition that was watched by nearly half of us in 56 markets this year. So I didn’t pay attention to Russell Wilson, or his amazing story or how he honored his dad or how he won the sports’ biggest game in only his second year in the league.

Second year.

“The second-year player has racked up a 100 passer rating in each of his first two years, along with over 1,000 yards rushing, while leading the Seahawks to 28 wins, including the playoffs,” according to a nicely done Forbes piece about his future. “The only other QBs with a 100 passer rating each of the past two seasons are (Aaron) Rogers and (Peyton) Manning. Wilson has done it at a bargain rate as a third-round draft pick on his first contract. His 2013 salary was $526,217, or less than Manning makes per game, providing the Seahawks ample salary cap room to address other needs.

malcolm-smithRussell Wilson wasn’t named MVP of the Super Bowl. It went to the Seahawks’ defensive team. They gave it to Malcolm Smith because of two flashy plays that were part of a season of excellence, but I hope he knows he was accepting it for a defensive team that was dang near perfect.

But Wilson was MVP of football this year. His is a story that’s worth telling over and over. Here are the entire Forbes and Washington Post pieces. Learn about him.

Because he’s going to be a $100 million quarterback. He’s going to be one of the greats.

And I’m sorry I missed it. I’m sorry I wasn’t seeing him accomplish what he did in the Super Bowl while knowing how he got there.

I’m sorry, Russell. But I promise I’ll be watching from now on.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at And she hopes you will support her Kickstarter campaign to record an acoustic gospel album here!
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DAY 11: Fasting to help others is still fasting for you

So I mentioned that I skipped Day 10 on the 21-Day Financial Fast because I was still working on a budget from Chapter 7 and because Chapter 7.

I also skipped it because it was the chapter in Michelle Singletary’s book “The 21-Day Financial Fast” about Marrying Your Money. That meant it was for married couples or people who are about to get married.

That’s not me, and while I would marry for money, among other necessary things, I couldn’t take anything from this chapter and give it to anyone – because I also don’t interfere in the business of married couples.

But Chapter 11?

That was different.

Chapter 11 (How odd that it shares a name with a type of  bankruptcy, but I digress . . . ) is a chapter about leaving a legacy of good money sense.

And I was feeling guilt.

My daughter is 24, and while I’m sure I taught money lessons – and even wrote about teaching her money lessons, I also let her watch me spend sometimes indiscriminately, just because we wanted things.

She is proving now that she learned both lessons, but I think the wants sometimes outweigh the needs. So I’ve decided to share this chapter with her and other young women to help them learn what to teach their children.

“As parents, we know it’s imperative to teach our kids to say no to drugs and alcohol,” Michelle writes on Page 134. “But can you honestly say you’re doing your best to help them fend off consumerism and credit card pushers?”

How-to-Teach-Your-Kids-About-Money-Management_full_article_verticalI know I had some success when my daughter entered college and got as many credit card applications as there were professors on campus – and ignored them.

How do I know she ignored them? Because she asked me for things that, had she had a credit card, she would have just gotten them. I won’t detail any of those requests here. But let’s just say that one had to do with some really dumb cosmetic surgery.

I remember when she was little, and the best I way I could teach her lessons about money was through sacrifice. I didn’t believe in time-outs because, as a busy reporter, editor, then news executive, I didn’t want any of the precious time I had with her spent with her sitting in a corner.

So we’d play another game.

It began with a sandwich.

I had made her a perfectly good mini-Dagwood, with ham, turkey, lettuce, tomato and cheese. It was pretty.

She took a bite and threw the rest away.

“I don’t want it,” she said.

freepressbookstore_2268_15094257I told her she owed me $1.79 or some such figure. (You’d have to grab my book “Raising A Parent: Lessons I Learned While My Daughter and I Grew Up Together” to read the actual amount.)

And, I told her she had to work that debt off before she could get something else.

Later, in the checkout line at the supermarket, she asked for a candy bar. I asked how much it cost. She knew how to look for the price, because in those days, they were right on the product. I then had her subtract the price from what she owed me.

This lesson lasted for two days. And she never threw food away again.

It was a great lesson for her and a proud moment for me. At 6, she understood debt.

That still didn’t help her understand why I was talking about saving for college when she was in the third grade.

“That’s years away,” she said.

“Yes, and it’ll take years to save for it,” I told her.

So if there’s any lesson I can offer other mothers, other dads, other Godmothers (because yes, we Godmothers have to help our Godchildren attend college, too), it’s to remember that these lessons, like Michelle Singletary is teaching us, are lifelong.

So I didn’t skip Chapter 11. Sure, my daughter is is a grown-up. But I’m sharing it because of the need for all of us to continue to teach our children and their children and our friends’ children about money and saving.

It is a necessary legacy.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at, and she hopes you will support her Kickstarter campaign to record an acoustic gospel album here!

Cigarettes can kill you… what? No! Really?

It is the most monumental and historic and important announcement in the history of the world.  The federal government is going to require cigarette-makers, eventually, to post one of nine graphic images on its packages to warn Americans against the dangers of smoking.

Oh yeah, that’ll stop it.

The news was presented as landmark because it’s the first change in tobacco warnings in a quarter century. But what does that actually mean: That the federal government has pretty much done nothing to end the unhealthy scourge of smoking in a quarter century.

This despite medical reports showing the damage done to nonsmokers by secondhand smoke.

This despite statistics showing that 443,000 American die smoking-related deaths every year.

This despite the fact that smoking contributes to many chronic diseases that raise national health care costs. Smoking-related diseases led to $96 billion in health care costs last year, much of it paid by taxpayers

The color images, which made the morning shows, most newspapers and the nightly news, feature images from the real deal: a man with a large scar down his chest, breathing with an oxygen mask, a man blowing smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat.

Cigarette package messages haven’t changed much since 1966, two years after U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry first warned that cigarettes could be hazardous to your health.  It took two years for his warning to get on the packages. Current cig makers will get about the same amount of time to create new packages.

Twenty percent of the U.S. population is killing itself with cigarettes, and the biggest growth is in young people – 4,000 teens a day light up. The children don’t believe that cigarettes kill any more than they believe that sex produces babies.

Lawrence R. Deyton of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products told the Washingtoni Post that the campaign features images that people can’t forget, not images that people want to forget. That’s why they include a man in an oxygen mask but not one in a coffin.

“We’re trying to use a set of images here that speak to the widest population in the country,” he told the Post.

But the images that matter most are those kids see in videos, movies and on TV.

Until it becomes cool not to kill yourself with smoke, one can only hope that these new graphic pictures will be a warning and not just something to pass around on Facebook.

One can only hope.


And the Oscar goes to . . . TEACHERS!

It’s almost time.

As we’ve rushed to watch the movies nominated for an Academy Award, as we’ve made plans for what to serve at our Oscar parties and as we prepare to settle in and watch the annual distribution of accolades and street cred, if your streets intersect at Hollywood and Vine, I want to salute those whose best work gets them no awards. I want to salute those whose victories are the victories of others – teachers.

This has been a hard year for teachers, partly because of the deeper examination of their work that is being done by various universities, institutions and filmmakers.

Any indictment of school systems, even the entire American system as analyzed by the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” is an indictment of teachers and principals and aides. Problem is: indicting with a broad brush puts bad paint on good teachers, on teachers who begin their days hours early and end them hours later because they get it.

They get that the products they’re working with aren’t cars or shopping carts or widgets. They are literally building America. They are molding future senators and presidents and astronauts. They, most of all, are developing future parents.

So as you watch Sunday night to see whose performance was best, whose film was best, whose work was most celebrated, take a moment to honor those whose work is to get best performances out of others.

Maybe we should get them to dress up one night, walk a red carpet and receive trophies for the thankless job they do. Right now, they get to watch their products get diplomas. But some teachers deserve diplomas – and awards – of their own.