Steve Eighinger

It's been a rough few weeks

Posted: Sep. 11, 2018 10:00 am Updated: Sep. 11, 2018 10:25 am

There were few actors in their prime whose movies I enjoyed more than the late Burt Reynolds.

I was legitimately saddened when hearing of his passing.

And I don't think I was alone.

While Reynolds, who died at age 82, never will be remembered as an Academy Award-level actor, he's being recalled as a guy who could make us laugh. He had that uncanny ability to raise an eyebrow and deliver a well-defined -- and calculated -- smirk at the best possible instant.

Probably my all-time favorite Reynolds film was "The Longest Yard" when he played Paul "Wrecking" Crewe. The movie focused on a former NFL player (Reynolds) who found himself incarcerated, then recruiting a group of prisoners and playing football against prison guards.

Reynolds was a big-time college football fan. He was especially fond of the Florida State Seminoles. In fact, he once played at Florida State, but a knee injury ended his career.

Reynolds may have been best known as an actor, but his heart belonged to football, judging by these comments through the years.

"When I had dreams, I dreamed about scoring touchdowns -- or coaching. I never dreamed about Academy Awards or things like that."

"Every time I smell the cut grass and it gets around the fall, I'm like any jock who ever played football."

"I still don't think acting is nearly as important as the Super Bowl."

Reynolds is not the only legend we have lost in the closing days of summer. Aretha Franklin's passing was another major blow. She was the Queen of Soul, and I doubt if anyone ever takes her place.

Aretha was one of my first favorite singers when I discovered just how sweet the Motown sound was early in junior high. To this day, I still sing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T!" in the shower. Not well, but I continue to sing it.

Aretha died at age 76, but what a legacy she leaves. She came at a time when soul music was finally generating an audience in middle America.

About the time Aretha burst onto the nation's consciousness, a lesser-known "soul singer," Arthur Conley, released a record entitled "Sweet Soul Music." There were two lines from that song I will always remember.

"Do you like good music?!

That sweet soul music!"

Yes, Arthur, I did. And still do.

And a big part of the reason I did was the Queen of Soul herself.