So 5 o’clock in the morning still comes pretty early, eh? Yes sir, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the 15-plus months since last we spoke.

Don’t get me wrong, 5 a.m. and I have been no strangers, that’s for certain. However, most times we’ve met, I have approached it from the opposite direction.

On the day former Washington Football Team fullback John Riggins ended his season-long holdout from the team in 1981, he famously quipped, “I’m bored, I’m broke and I’m back.”

Truthfully, in our 15 months apart, I was never bored. My attention span being what it is is not difficult to quench.

Am I broke? Define broke … No. Not broke. At least not yet.

I am, however, back, and grateful for the opportunity to be; I didn’t want to leave in the first place. But, of course, who did as the pandemic so ruthlessly hurled us into the abyss of what a friend of mine would so perfectly state as being “timeless times?”

Bars closed. Restaurants closed. Public buildings closed. Everything closed; everything stopped — except, thankfully, the liquor stores.

Friends would take turns meeting at each other’s homes for patio parties, deck parties, porch parties in groups of no more than six with the proper social distancing in play. We did as we were told. We didn’t know. Nobody knew and, honestly, none of us really know the answers to everything now, other than to be vaccinated.

The KBO League, live from Korea, presented an avenue for baseball fans – or just plain bored people – to keep their minds on something during the day and, shortly thereafter, abbreviated NBA and MLB seasons took us through the summer and into the fall when NFL The TV Show retook center stage and the rest of existence slowly regained its footing.

We read books; we watched Frasier reruns and Turner Classic Movies. We avoided fast food; we relied on delivery and carryout. We exercised; we sat and did nothing. We lost weight; we gained weight. We dieted; we binged. We did everything we needed to do and we did nothing at all.

We texted – oh, how we texted. We FaceTimed, we Zoomed. We did everything to stay in touch, to stay together and to raise each other’s spirits; and, hopefully, we came to the realization that we too often tend to take each other for granted.

Given where we’ve been, what we’ve come through and where we still want to go, we must understand we can never allow ourselves to fall into a position of taking anybody or anything for granted again.

So here we are, maybe not completely back on our feet, but well on our way. And as long as we continue to believe in each other, behave our simple selves and do the right thing we will be very soon. As the great Dean Smith said, “Never be proud of doing the right thing.”

As for being back with you here and on The Morning Rush with our boy Tony C. what could be better? Okay, a winning Powerball ticket …

We plan to pick up where we left off a little over 15 months ago. We’ll revisit some folks we visited as they were shutting things down and see what they’re up to now that they’re opening back up.

And sports? Sports is sports. Sports are important in life, but sports isn’t life. I know; I’ve had a lifetime of them, and I look forward to seeing it through with them. Just very happy to be back and for having the opportunity to do it here.

llegany Radio Corporation SportsMike Burke writes about sports and a lot of other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital and also talks to Tony C. on The Morning Rush on 102.1 FM and AM 1230 WCMD. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT