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Measuring up

Tough guys know how to flex their muscles


Mike Tyson, the Chicago Bears’ Brian Urlacher, Clint Eastwood and countless others are America’s tough guys. But truth is, most tough guys aren’t famous.

I knew a tough guy in eighth grade. His name was Dan. He was taller, stronger and more muscular than any eighth-grader I knew then or since. Plus, he shaved regularly, which I thought was unusual until someone told me he was 16.

One day after school Dan shoved me and said, “I choose you.” During the mid-’80s at Creighton Junior High in Lakewood, Colo., “I choose you” was not a term of endearment. Instead, it was a challenge to fight, which I didn’t want to do, figuring it would be a waste of Dan’s time.

But before I could respond, Dan and his crony, Dennis, were pummeling me with body shots. Then, in what seemed one quick move, Dan put me in a headlock, doubled me over and slammed me to the ground.

When I woke up I thought I was in heaven. Several members of the cheerleading squad had knelt around me, which was nice until I felt a warm tear slide out of the corner of my eye and saw Dan and Dennis hovering over the scene like hungry vultures. Embarrassed, I pulled myself up, brushed the tears from my eyes and slunk home.

Since that fateful day I’ve encountered many more tough guys. Unlike Dan, these tough guys have mentored, encouraged, corrected and prayed with me. These tough guys are my dad, brothers, father-in-law, uncles and closest friends. The main thing they have in common is a relationship with Jesus.

I’m no Tyson, Urlacher, or Eastwood, and never want to be a Dan. But, like my family and friends did for me, I mentor, encourage, correct and pray with my kids — Kianna, Rhett and Nikolas. They think I’m a tough guy even though I don’t walk with a swagger or pummel people for no reason.

The only thing I can figure is that being a tough guy has more to do with what one does at home than what he does in a boxing ring, on a football field, in a movie, or even at a junior high school after the final bell has rung.

Kirk Noonan

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