I’m probably in the extreme minority in writing this but I believe that everybody breathing on this earth should have an adversary. I think it would make everyone much better people overall if they had an archrival. The way I see it, it does all of the following: (1) it helps you focus, (2) it motivates you, (3) it serves as a personal scoreboard, (4) it fosters your inner mean streak, and (5) it provides a measuring stick. Just ask former University of Colorado football coach, Bill McCartney. When that dude took over the program in 1982, he set his eyes on Nebraska, a team that had owned the Buffaloes…declared them as a rival. He hyped it up so much that his players realized all of the 5 aforementioned factors in becoming a thorn in Nebraska’s side during the late 80s all the way up to the early 2000s. I once had a person I just didn’t plain like. For about a quarter of my life, he was my archrival. In today’s post to The 24 To 30 feature, I’ll cover the story of Tyrus Weir…
THE BACKGROUND. The background on me and Tyrus started back in the early Elyton days. After spending all of my kindergarten year of school with my late great-grandmother so that I could attend Glen Iris Elementary, I moved back with my mother and sister late in the Summer of 1991 ahead of my 1st grade year at Elyton Elementary. That’s when I met Tyrus—or Ty, as most everybody knew him—and the rest of my eventual friends from the 300 block of 1st Street West. From the start, I don’t recall things between me and Ty ever being comfortable around each other initially. We both ended up in Mr. Quarles’ 1st grade class. He and I were very different people…almost polar opposites. I was considered to be the model student while he was somewhat troubled back then. My mom kept me on a tight leash and an even tighter curfew, his mom was a great deal more relaxed. The differences between he and I even extended to where our residences were in the 300 block. I stayed on the extreme north end, he stayed on the extreme south end. In the Summer of 1992—between my 1st and 2nd grade years—we were all playing kickball and one of my teammates had kicked the ball to him at 3rd base and I was caught in no man’s land between 2nd and 3rd as a result. I had stopped running full speed and essentially giving myself up as an out but that dude took it to the extreme and blasted me in the chest with the ball. It wasn’t some rubber ball, it was a soccer ball…it had some bite to it. I took that kinda personal and shoved him and that’s when the 1st of our 3 fights started. I got in a few licks but he got in a few more before the fight was broken up. Officially, I took the L in that one. Our uneasiness continued through the next year though we didn’t come to blows. That changed when I got into an argument with his cousin—a guy named Larry—who instigated a fight between us by saying “I’m gonna go get Ty”. He did just that and I bested him in our 2nd fight, dropping him with a haymaker. It was the 1st fight that I had won in my life, bringing my career record to 1-1…both fights being against him. After the dust settled on that fight, there was a period of cooled tensions between us…kinda like the whole South Korea vs. North Korea at the DMZ thing. During that period, we actually had some friendly moments…like the trading of football cards, attending a Birmingham Barons game together with the rest of the neighborhood kids, and Sega Genesis get-togethers at a mutual friend’s house. Things shifted in 5th grade, when we both ended up playing organized football in the 90-pound division of the Birmingham Metro Youth Football League. I ended up playing for the Ensley Broncos and he was with the East Thomas Jets. Our rivalry sparked back up because of the competition on the field. In our only official on-field meeting, my team beat his team on our way to a Shug-Bear Bowl appearance. Fast forward a couple of years later to the Summer of 1997. We had a mild misunderstanding over my next door neighbor’s cousin from Chicago…a chick we both coveted. We eventually came to blows over that and I won what ended up being the rubber match between us. From there, we kinda kept an uncomfortable distance during my last year in the neighborhood. We crossed paths a few times in attending football games of our respective high schools but that was about it.
THE MOMENT OF IMPACT. The moment of impact with Ty was back in 1993…our 2nd fight. Having lost the fight against him the year before, my cred within the neighborhood was that I was soft. It certainly didn’t help that I always shied away from contact and was the least likely to be willing to get dirty if things really went down. That day his cousin, Larry, was on my porch talking noise, I kinda bucked up a little. And when he was like “I gonna get Ty”, I didn’t back down. And when Ty came at me, I laid him down. I was so shocked at the victory that I took off my shirt and yelled out “come on” as Ty retreated in defeat. Winning that fight changed my reputation from being soft to being sneaky strong. I’ve only been in 7 actual fights in my life but I’ve won all of them since that first L on the sandlot. In winning that fight over Ty, I proved to myself that I wasn’t a pushover.
HOW IT GOT ME TO 30. Over the course of my life, I’ve been at odds with many people. A vast majority of those people could fit into the rivalry category. But none more than Ty. He really brought out those factors I identified at the outset. I was intently focused on besting him every opportunity I got. Fortunately, for me, it was the 2 wins in the 3 fights. He motivated me to improve my “street cred”, which was huge at that particular point of life. My rivalry with him was all about keeping score on who had the upper hand. He brought out the inner mean streak in me and I considered him to be something of a measuring stick for where I wanted to be…at least amongst friends at the time. My rivalry with Ty put me in the state of mind that everybody could possibly be a rival to me and that competition is everywhere.