The J.T. Barrett Phenomenon

In Columbus, Ohio, it’s J.T. Barrett’s world — the rest of us just live in it.

I’ve been a fan of Ohio State football for decades, and during that time there have been many popular players — Archie Griffin, Chris Spielman, Eddie George, and Troy Smith among them — but I can’t remember a player who was as much of a phenomenon as J.T. Barrett.  When Braxton Miller went down with an injury only days before the season began, Barrett was a virtual unknown who had to fill the shoes of a Heisman Trophy favorite.  He responded with one of the greatest seasons in Buckeye history, smashing many of offensive records in the Ohio State record book and leading the team back into contention for the national title after an early season stumble against Virginia Tech.

And then, after improbably putting himself in contention for the Heisman Trophy and leading Ohio State to the brink of over arch-rival Michigan, Barrett suffered a gruesome injury that ended his season.  He reacted with class and stoicism — as every J.T. Barrett fan knew he would.  Throughout the season, he has managed to combine humility, quiet confidence, and leadership in a heroic mixture that seems more suited to a Grantland Rice story than modern reality.  But when he broke his ankle, then gave the stunned crowd a sign as he was carted off the field, then showed up in the stands in an inflatable cast so he could help root his team to the win, Barrett became the stuff of legend.

If you don’t live in a college town, you may not fully appreciate the depth of admiration Ohio State fans feel for J.T. Barrett.  We’re sad his wonderful season ended so brutally, but we’re so proud of how he has handled himself even in the face of this adversity.  There are little boys in Ohio now who want nothing more than to grow up to be like J.T. Barrett, and their parents are happy their sons have picked such a terrific role model.  No member of Buckeye Nation who lived through this season will ever forget the story of J.T. Barrett.

Partied Out

When I started as a new lawyer in Columbus in the 1980s, the turn of the calendar to December 1 marked the beginning of a very festive month of celebration.

In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to get a surprise present or a gift basket with some wine, cheese, and crackers from someone who wanted to get or keep your business; one year I received a porcelain cookie jar in the shape of a snowman’s head and another I got a candy-dispensing contraption.  At night large parties hosted by consultants, clients, court reporters, and other law firms were the norm.  During the weeks leading up to Christmas, lawyers could always find a post-work place to revel in the brotherhood of the bar and enjoy a free drink or two, some hors d’oeuvres, and often live music, too.

It was all a vestige of the Mad Men era where work and partying went hand in hand, and it soon ended.  Court reporting firms and consultants became “service providers” who cut costs so they could compete more effectively on price, and lavish parties and gifts were the first line items on the chopping block.  Legal organizations became a lot more sensitive to the problems of alcohol abuse in our profession, and people started to realize that large, liquor-infused parties probably weren’t good for the inebriated lawyers who were making fools of themselves on the dance floor or under the mistletoe, or their marriages.

These days, December has a different, more family-focused feel to it.  It’s not a bad thing.