2017 HOF Speeches

It CAN Be Done – 31 Years as a Slave

KillTheCan LogoI’ve been reflecting about what I could share that’s unique from all the other Hall of Fame quitters, but I’m afraid I’ve got nothing. Well, maybe… but we’ll get to that in a bit.

After reading many bios on here, I’ve surmised that I started late in my ill advised tobacco adventure. Oh, I dabbled with some skoal pouches in HS, although I can never remember actually buying a tin. I recall dipping them a time or two to be “funny”.

As an undergraduate biochemistry major at Missouri State, I thought I wanted to apply to medical school…or maybe to veterinary school. After doing lab work in a few vet clinics for several years, I knew I loved helping animals, but also felt confined being indoors and with the routine.

I had an epiphany one day. I missed playing football immensely and did some research regarding needs in education. Lo and behold! I would be the most marketable public educator ever: A certified biology/chemistry/head football coach. While I was correct about being marketable, I didn’t realize how absurd it was to assume anyone can fulfill both those niches effectively and simultaneously. Still, to this day, I’ve never heard of it being done. Upon making this decision, I also made the commitment to lock myself in a cinder block building with 2000 teenagers daily…for 26 years.

So, being who I am, I waltz into a local HS that I knew had a good program and asked to meet with the hall of fame football coach. He hired me on the spot and my adventures in coaching football began.

I was young. 20 years old and I was concerned the players saw me more as a “buddy”, so I began dipping tobacco. Why? Several reasons. My uncle, a great HS football coach, chewed. I’d heard of several coached who did and how it intimidated players. How stupid I was! How naive! I sincerely had no idea what I was messing with.

So, fast forward many years. I’m still dipping. First Kodiak, then Cope, then back to Kodiak because the Cope cardboard “tin” would melt when I was wade fishing for Falmouth (can’t have that). THEN, finally, to Grizzly as Kodiak was so expensive.

In 2006, I “quit” for almost a year. Married to a woman better than I deserve and a father to a son I was awed over (still am!) Felt great. Life was awesome. By this time, I was on renovating my second HS football program. After inheriting a program that had gone 5-55 over six years, we had gone to the final four in year two, had a 7-3 season in year three…in year four, we were 6-0 and playing the defending state champs, also 6-0 and number one in the state. I went into the office one that Sunday and our OLine coach had left a can of Kodiak on his desk.

I still don’t know what happened, but I took a dip and the chewing was even worse from that moment onward. I was a fiend; in fact, I’ve never known or even heard about anyone who dipped like I did. If there had been an Olympic event for dipping Grizzly, I would have a gold medal.

Fast forward to 2015-2017. Believe it or don’t, I was burning through 4-5 cans a DAY. It was obscene. I would HAVE to have a chew. I’d shove almost 1/2 can in my lip, then hate myself for it and spit it out. An hour later, repeat. I loathed tobacco almost as much as I was in love with it. My Grizzly budget was up to over $400/month. Insanity.

This summer, my wife, son, and I went to Puerto Rico. My “plan” was to take a couple of cans to get through the plane ride, checking in, etc., then subject myself to a situation where Grizzly probably couldn’t be found.

On the second day, we were on the beach and I scraped the last tidbits from my last can and announced “There’s the last dip I’ll ever take”. My wife asked what I meant and I told her I was out of chew ON PURPOSE. I swear SHE turned white and started to panic….bless her. I assured her everything would be okay and that my mind was right. Alas. Within 3 hours, I started to freak out. I took the rental car, left the resort and was driving all over the eastern part of the island. I had no idea where I was headed. I was up in the mountains, through the rainforest, around the coast. Many stops….and….nothing. No chew. Anywhere. In retrospect, my plot was successful, although at the time I would’ve bludgeoned a sack of kittens for a tin or about anything. On my last attempt, a gal of about 20 told me there was none on the island. I told her: “Well, maybe this is The Divine’s way of telling me I should quit.”

So sweet (as Puerto Ricans are wont to be), she pats me on the shoulder and says: “Si, Senor, you should quit.”

So…somehow I figure out how to get back to our resort and begin drinking. Heavily. So much so that I apparently made such an ass out of myself that my 16 year old son was disgusted with me. (I’m still struggling with that one)

The next evening, I got online to look for some ‘quit’ resources and found this one. Days 1-5 were pure misery, but I embraced the pain as what I deserved for partaking in what I KNEW was an addictive substance. During those days, I had a chart depicting hourly progress to get to 72 hours. I should’ve my loved ones nuts saying things like: “Uh-oh. 52 hours without a chew. I would announce it hourly like I had just won a Nobel Peace Prize.

It gets better. Slowly. Every single day still presents a challenge or two, but it’s better. I pray one day I will wake up in the morning and go to sleep that night without having a crave or thinking about tobacco.

All the preceding being stated- so many thanks to my October brethren in staying quit with me. Thanks to so many vets that reached out to support and to offer advice. I really don’t believe I’d be at day 100 without KTC, I really don’t.

If you’re a newbie and reading this, my main goal in writing it was to demonstrate that IT CAN BE DONE. If I, a hardcore addict of 31 years, can drop the dip, anyone reading this can too. Just today…OR…just for this hour. Take heart in that I’ve save almost $2000 in my time quit and have filed for retirement because of it….I can afford it now.

Contact me if I can help. I’m at your service.

NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member GrizzlySlave

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