Book Review of Dieter Brock, the Birmingham Rifle by Robert Allan Young, Reviewed by Ken David Stewart
This biography of Dieter Brock is long overdue. When I heard about it. I couldn’t wait to get a copy of it and to read it on my Kindle device. The wait for this biography of Dieter Brock was well worth it. The author writes about both the career and character of one of the greatest quarterbacks in CFL history. During his years in the Canadian Football League, Dieter Brock was the starting quarterback for both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Dieter was appropriately known as the Birmingham Rifle because he likely possessed the strongest throwing arm of any quarterback in professional football.
For anyone who followed the CFL football during the Dieter Brock era, Robert Allan Young’s biography is a must read. For those who were serious football fans during this time, this book will bring back many memories. Dieter Brock tried to renegotiate a shorter contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers so that he could finish his career in the United States. His requests were rebuffed many times by the Blue Bomber management. The only way out for Dieter was a trade to the Hamilton Tiger cats in exchange for their present quarterback, Tom Clements.
The result of Dieter’s trade to the Hamilton Tiger Cats resulted in a great deal of angst for many Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans. A significant number of Winnipeg fans believed that Dieter Brock had betrayed them. Robert Allan Young explores this divisive issue from Dieter Brock’s point of view.
The author continues to report the history of the Birmingham Rifle’s career, during his time as the quarterback of the Hamilton Tiger Cats and the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL.
In conclusion, Robert Allan Young’s book, Dieter Brock, the Birmingham Rifle is an excellent read from beginning to end. It is a must for those CFL fans who want to know the true story of Dieter Brock, the quarterback and the man.
I need to make this disclaimer. When writing on the topic of depression, I am not a doctor and do not have any medical training. My blogs on this topic are solely based upon my own experience of suffering from depression. Any conclusions I draw from my own experience is only my opinion. If you think you may also suffer from clinical depression or some other kind of mood disorder have an honest talk with your primary medical practitioneror family doctor.
The only upside of depression is that it feels so good when you begin to come out of the pit. I found that this is usually a gradual process in moving from the depths of despair to feeling somewhat emotionally healthy.
I’ve often tried to analyse how and why my depressions eventually set me free. I don’t take a position one way or another on the use of psychiatric medications such as antidepressants. I have used a cocktail of different mood boosting psychotropic medications for decades. Over the years I’ve tried out a great variety of antidepressants. I also use nutritional and herbal supplements.
The choice of whether or not to use psychiatric medications as part of one’s recovery from depression is usually a decision best made between and a doctor and a patient. The bad news is that one medication may be very effective for some people and not so much for others. The unfortunate fact is that feeling less depressive symptoms is often a trial and error process when it comes to taking medications.
of School Daze
When I was about eight years old, I joined a hockey team at my local community club.
In the early 1960s there was no such thing as an indoor arena, unless you
included the old Winnipeg Arena. The parents in my generation didn’t believe in
giving their kids rides to their hockey games and practices. We had to walk to
the community club even if it was 30° below zero. It was a good six block walk
to the clubhouse from my house. By the time I arrived there my face, and hands
were usually frozen.
one Saturday morning when a man in a car saw the white blotches on my face that
were the first signs of frostbite. Even though my parents would not have
approved, I gladly accepted the offer of a ride to the clubhouse.
inside the Norwood Community Club was something I will never forget. The air
inside reeked of sweat, body order, old leather and musk. I came to love this
smell as it signalled that I was out of the freezing cold weather. The downside
was that my chilled to the bone body was about to thaw out.
The thawing out process started to take place as soon as I closed the old wooden front door of the clubhouse. As my body began to warm up the pain started. The white splotches on my face started to turn red. The same thing happened to the white spots on my fingers and toes. The splotchy colouring on my frozen body parts all gradually changed from white to red in colour. This was the start of the painful burning process. How I didn’t lose any fingers or toes to amputation during these years of playing outdoor minor-league hockey was an absolute miracle.
Depression is too often taken far too lightly. It can
have devastating negative effects on one’s physical as well as mental and
emotional health. Depression can often manifest as torment. The worst torment
for me is when I start feeling like just don’t measure up to somebody’s
arbitrary standards. During these times I feel like a total loser. I think that
I’ve been a failure in several of my previous employment careers, marriages,
family life and other close relationships.
I’ve simply missed the mark in my life. In the past
there were many people who had high expectations for me and I feel that I have
let them down. This causes me enormous emotional pain as I don’t want to
disappoint people. I totally blame myself for my failures in life.
The disease of depression gives me a very distorted view
of myself and my life. When I am in a depressive episode and I’m really feeling
down, I don’t consider the fact that, unfortunately, life is not fair. I have
had to live my life with many emotional and physical disabilities. I don’t take
these disabilities into account when I consider the successes and failures in
my life. I’ve also had some surprising successes in my life.
After one has suffered through several episodes of
depression, they can easily identify the signs and symptoms of a relapse . I am
presently working through my most recent attack of depression and I’m finally starting
to feel a bit better. If I wasn’t, I would not be capable of writing this blog
During a serious bout of clinical depression, I rather
quickly lose most of my ability to function mentally, emotionally and
physically. Don’t ask me about spiritual effects. I’ll just say that one’s
relationship with God or their higher power comes to an abrupt halt. I will
write more about the negative spiritual destruction of depression in future
When I am seriously depressed my future life appears
very bleak to me. My worst depressions occur during the months of December and
January. As I’m now 66 years old, I look at my future with dread during a
depressive episode. I hate the Christmas season with a passion. This time of
the year is the most debilitating for my physical, mental, emotional and
I have noticed a strange characteristic of depression.
Being episodic in nature, the person with this disease will sometimes
experience periods of remission. During times of remission, I feel like a
different person. My wife also notices a significant improvement in my general
demeanour. During these periods of relief from the symptoms of depression, I
appear to enjoy life. Unfortunately, even when I’m not suffering from a major
depressive episode, under the surface a mild or moderate form of depression
continues to exist. This condition is known as double depression.
Around the last week of November I experienced a
rather sudden change in my mood. I am presently retired, but still do
substitute teaching from two to three times a week when I feel up to it. On the
whole, I enjoy my part-time job. Ironically, when my most recent episode of
depression first manifested, I was coming off three or four very successful
substitute teaching assignments.
Normally I would feel quite encouraged by this. However, near the beginning of December 2018, I contracted an upper respiratory infection. As I’ve been diagnosed with a moderate case of COPD, my colds and flus are severe in nature and can hang on for one to four months. When I get one of these bronchial infections my regular daily activities come to a sudden halt. I become so physically debilitated that I am left to spend most of my day on the couch due to the almost complete depletion of my energy resources. Even a task as simple as brushing my teeth becomes a monumental activity.
Having suffered from severe bouts of clinical
depression for much of my adult life, I’d like to share some of my observations
from personal experience. If the reader has never suffered from one or more episodes
of severe clinical depression they should consider themselves to be very
blessed. Make no mistake about it. Depression is a serious condition that can
both devastate and impair one’s ability to function in life. I know that many
of my Christian brothers and sisters will take exception to what I’m about to
say. I can only write from my own personal experience and to tell the truth
from the way I see things.
In my opinion, clinical depression is not the result
of some kind of spiritual deficit. In our society it takes an enormous amount
of courage to admit that you suffer from this illness. Believe me. There is
still an unfortunately large degree of stigma attached to the illness of
depression. It is first and foremost a medical condition. A person with
depression is no more to blame for their disease as would be the case if they
had diabetes or heart disease. Yet most depressed people blame themselves for
the periods of time when they cannot seem to manage to function.
Joshua Jacobson could best be summed up as being a
nerd. He was seventeen years old and attended Manhattan Central High School.
Joshua’s level of intelligence would be close to the genius level. He excelled
in all his grade twelve subjects, but he liked his math and science classes the
most. Joshua was an intellectual in every sense of the word. Although his great
desire was to be a famous scientist one day, he was also a voracious reader
with interests in a wide variety of subjects.
Joshua read nearly everything he could get his hands
on. Although his parents were on the lower strata of the annual income
spectrum, and neither one had earned a high school diploma, they were very
aware and were very proud of Josh’s intellectual accomplishments. From an early
age they had a sense that God had given their son and amazing brain for a
reason. Although Josh’s parents were poor, they used what little extra money
they had to further Josh’s ambitions. As Josh enjoyed reading and conducting
research so much, his parents paid for his monthly subscriptions to Audible
Audiobooks, so that their son could choose a new audiobook to listen to each month. They also
invested in a subscription to Scribd, a website service that allows its
subscribers to read an unlimited number of books on a wide variety of topics.
Science fiction books had always been Josh’s favorites.
Attending high school was at times pure hell for Josh.
Senior years schools have long been known for bullying students that did not
fit the predetermined criteria of what was considered normal. The social aspect
of high school was based on cliques. Every high school student ended up in a clique
that was defined by possessing certain, identifiable physical and mental
There was some overlap, but generally all high school
students receive a mandatory designation that they were in some group or
clique. There was sometimes some overlap, but rarely war a student integrated
into more than one or two defining groups.
The first category was known as the brains. This
entity consisted of all kinds of all the students that were known for getting the
highest marks in all subjects on the secondary education curriculum. The brains
were usually not very popular with the rest of the student body. These academic
high achievers were either disdained, ignored or were used by their peers. The
brains could be helpful to their less academically gifted counterparts in
certain situations. Brains came in handy when one needed to cheat on a test or
exam or copy yesterday’s homework assignments. The trade-off or you can say.
the upside for the brains was that some of their fellow students who required
their services offered the brains protection from other students who would
bully them, steal from them or threaten to beat them up.
The second clique was known as the jocks. This group
consisted of all the star athletes in the school. A third group was labelled as
the stoners. This group of students were known for regularly ingesting a wide
variety of both prescription and illegal drugs. The brains and the jocks rarely
had anything to do with the stoners. Stoners were not known for doing well in
their academic studies because they were, as their name implied, usually flying
high on some psychoactive substance that would interfere with their cerebral
ability to concentrate on their school work.
There was a subgroup of students within the stoners who
were talented musicians. The ones that played in a band were generally held in
high regard by almost all the student body. The jocks envied the artistic
talents of the musically gifted stoners and were very pissed off by the fact
that student musicians who played in local bands often had more groupies than
the jocks. The jocks could never conceive how these scrawny, dope smoking rockers
didn’t need to have any respectable physique to attract females. The jocks
never grasped the concept that these musically gifted stoners needed to
practice their guitar licks just as long and hard as the football team had to
practice their passing, blocking and running skills.
The last high school clique were the most unfortunate
ones. This group was cruelly referred to as the nerds. The nerds presented in
all shapes and sizes, but their most prominent distinction was that they all
presented as being weird in some way or another. Some were morbidly obese, some
were tall and lanky and had faces that were crated like the surface of the moon
with acne. Many of them offended their peers and teachers because of their
strong repulsive body odor.
The nerds were mostly shun by the vast majority of the
student body and faculty. On rare occasions, a student that was considered
normal would attempt to befriend them or at the very least try to strike up a
conversation with them. Those few nerds that received these acts of kindness
were often forever grateful for even the slightest sign of attention and
acceptance. The few students who displayed this kind of compassion often found
that the result would be that the few grateful nerds would cling to them and
wouldn’t leave them alone for at least a semester.