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Woody's Winners, NFL Week 2

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NFL WEEK TWO: For those who missed last week's column, Woody's Winners is written with highest respect in a similar style to that of the most entertaining football prognosticator of my youth, Leonard Postero, host of Leonard’s Losers. I went a respectable 8-5 through last Sunday afternoon’s games, but then fell apart to lose all three night games on Sunday and Monday to end Week 1 with an even 8-8 record. More day games! Do ya hear me, NFL? Oh, you’ve got your hands full with referee positions and the “process of the catch”? Fine, then. Here are Woody's Winners for Week 2.

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BALTIMORE & CINCINNATI

The Bengals bungled away a possible win in Week 1 with an interception and two fumbles, which tempered an attack that outgained the Patriots by 50+ yards. Rest assured that the Ravens have studied film of those turnovers and are devising schemes to peck the eyes out of the Tigers. But Owens and Ocho will have fans living on the air in Cincinnati as they adopt a pass-first attitude that will keep Baltimore from opening the season 2-0. In the Poe House, the Ravens rule, but at Paul Brown…

Woody’s Winner, in a close one: Cincinnati

FACT: Baltimore led the NFL last season with 1,094 penalty yards. The next-closest AFC team had only 920.

Click "more" to see my picks for the other 15 NFL games in Week 2.

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TAMPA BAY @ CAROLINA

The Bucs pulled out what promises to be a rare victory last week at home against the Browns. In Week 2, Tampa Bay goes looking for an angry pantheon of Panthers, and they’ll find them. Carolina QB Matt Moore proved he wasn’t quite ready for prime time, with 5 turnovers (3 INT, 2 FUM) and a concussion to boot. Still, without a reliable sub in the Panther dock, he’s expected to start in Week 2. The Giants wore down the Cats last week and outscored them 17-2 in the last half, so expect a Tampa tamp-down as things turn sour in Sweet Carolina.

Woody’s Winner: Tampa Bay

FACT: Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman threw for a season-best 321 yards at Carolina last season, but five interceptions cost his team the game.

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BUFFALO @ GREEN BAY

Watching Pack QB Aaron Rodgers dodging and ducking defenders and chucking the ball here and there last week made it obvious who his mentor was. Watching Green Bay LB Clay Matthews made me wonder if he’s human. Add several thousand cheesehead fans to the mix, and the Bills are in for a long day in Wisconsin. While the opportunistic Bison defense may grab a few INTs, it won’t take long before Buffalo learns that life isn’t always fun when you’re lactose intolerant.

Woody’s Winner: Green Bay

FACT: No member of the Bills had more than 40 combined rushing/receiving/returning yards last week.

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MIAMI @ MINNESOTA

Minnesota’s had 10 days’ rest since posting a loss in the first regular season game of the season, but Brett Favre should be in better form with a week of legit play under his belt. Miami hasn’t opened the season with back-to-back wins since 2002, and although Dolphins are smart, there’s not a fish in the ocean that doesn’t expect that streak to continue. Rose Nylund and Mary Richards will be partying all night to celebrate a Viking victory in Week 2.

Woody’s Winner: Minnesota

FACT: Don Shula won 274 games as Miami head coach. None of his replacements has won more than 43.

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CHICAGO @ DALLAS

Last week, the Bears did all they could do to lose to Detroit. (If I were Commissioner, both teams would be 0-1 heading into Week 2.) They’ll have to play much better against a squad of Cowboys eager to put on a better show than they did in a loss to the Redskins. Expect the Stars to extract revenge by blowing the Windy City team halfway across Texas.

Woody’s Winner: Dallas

FACT: The Cowboys have a Week 4 bye, tied for the earliest in the league. The 13-game stretch after that includes back-to-back games against last year’s Super Bowl contenders, the Saints and Colts.

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PHILADELPHIA @ DETROIT

“L” is indeed for Lions, a team that rushed 21 times for 20 yards in Week 1. (If my public-school math holds up, that’s less than one yard a carry.) With Kevin Kolb banged up, Philly’s Michael Vick will get his first regular-season start since returning to the NFL, and this will cause all sorts of match-up problems for Detroit. To Motown’s credit, the team did deliver some big hits on defense last week, but with their own QB injured as well, Rocky will deliver a KO punch to keep the Kitties winless.

Woody’s Winner: Philadelphia

FACT: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford missed 6 games last season with a separated left shoulder, and may miss similar games this year with the separated right shoulder he suffered last week.

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ARIZONA @ ATLANTA

Alphabetically, Arizona and Atlanta come first in the standings, but both teams have things to prove heading into Week 2. Luckily for the Falcons, QB Matt Ryan has lost only one of 14 starts at home. While the Blackbirds do expect their rushing offense to return to form, their underrated passing attack may prove the difference. If the Cardinals fumble 7 times (losing 4) like they did last week against the Rams, however, expect (Michael) Turner Classic Movies to be in the end zone all day long.

Woody’s Winner: Atlanta

FACT: Cards QB Derek Anderson targeted Larry Fitzgerald 15 times last week, but the team’s #1 WR only hauled in three catches for 43 yards and a touch.

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KANSAS CITY @ CLEVELAND

In the last four games between the Chiefs and Browns, the average score has been 36-33. This week’s match-up is expected to be a lower-scoring affair, particularly on the KC side of the ball, but either team might explode for points in any given week. The Arrowheads’ Week 1 victory against San Diego said more about the Chargers’ woes than the Chiefs’ ability, and that will be proven when the Dawg Pound sinks its teeth into some Native hindquarter.

Woody’s Winner: Cleveland

FACT: Cleveland was the only AFC team with triple-digit losses (103) in the 2000s.

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PITTSBURGH @ TENNESSEE

Dixie was no match for Dixon last week, as sub-Roth QB Dennis Dixon helped his team edge Atlanta in overtime to seal the Steelers’ 8th consecutive victory on Kickoff Weekend. In Week 2, Pittsburgh faces another southern team, the Tennessee Titans. RB Chris Johnson rushed for 154 yards and two TDs in Week 1, but will he be able to duplicate that effort? Pitt’s D looks as tough as nails, but Tennessee will find a way to win at home.

Woody’s Winner: Tennessee

FACT: Pittsburgh’s OT victory against Atlanta last week marked the third consecutive game between those two teams that went longer than regulation time. The teams are each 1-1-1 in those games.

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SEATTLE @ DENVER

The Seahawks invented a new move called the “49er Smackdown” in Week 1, and I’m as curious as any to see how they follow up that gem 5,000 feet up. Neither the Ocean Birds nor the Buckin’ Bunch had much success running the ball last week. In the statistics-can-be-misleading department, the Broncos are 15-5 in their last 20 games against Seattle, but most of those games are from 2001 and before, when both teams were in the same division and played each other twice a year. Still, it’s difficult to pick against Rocky Mountain High at home.

Woody’s Winner: Denver

FACT: In Week 1, Seattle allowed San Francisco to convert only 1 of 15 third-down attempts.

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ST. LOUIS @ OAKLAND

It’s a good thing that he wears a different uniform, ‘cause Oakland QB Jason Campbell (2 fumbles, 1 interception) sure looks a lot like he did at the helm of the Redskins. Rams rookie Sam Bradford impressed, however, despite tossing three passes to the other team. A blocked field goal attempt and a last-minute TD cost St. Louis a win last week, but that won’t happen in Oakland. If every Man in Black had the skill of the Raiders’ punter and kicker, they’d be making reservations for Dallas in February. Alas…

Woody’s Winner: St. Louis

FACT: Last week’s Oakland-Tennessee game was a punting clinic. The Titan’s Kerns booted 4 for a 50-yd. average (and 2 inside the 20), while the Raiders’ Lechter punched 4 for a 55-yd. average (and 1).

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NEW ENGLAND @ N.Y. JETS

I’m not recommending that Pats QB Tom Brady have an auto accident before every game, but heck; not only did he escape uninjured, but he went on to decimate the Cincinnati defense for 3 TD passes. Add to that a TD kickoff return and a defense that was there when it mattered, and New England looks set for another strong season. The Jets would hate nothing more than to open their new stadium with two consecutive home losses, but the season is long, and facing the Ravens and Patriots back-to-back is not exactly a late summer picnic.

Woody’s Winner: New England

FACT: New England’s 38 points scored in Week 1 led all NFL teams.

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HOUSTON @ WASHINGTON

The Texans made a HUGE statement to the NFL in Week 1, defeating the Colts despite Manning’s sharp 433/3/0 performance. And, unexpectedly, they did it on the ground. The Redskins earned their own shout-out by surprising the Cowboys, and they’d love to knock of Texas’ other team in Week 2. Houston seems destined to break out this season, however, and should pull off a W in Washington. I’m tempting fate by picking three road teams in a row, but why not?

Woody’s Winner: Houston

FACT: The Texans are 0-2 lifetime against the Redskins, losing both games by the same margin, 16 points.

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JACKSONVILLE @ SAN DIEGO

In Week 1, Jacksonville’s hyphenated-last-name attack belonged to Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 98 yards and caught three passes. (Sims-Walker didn’t touch the ball except in pre-game warm-ups.) As they proved last season, the Chargers can be notoriously slow to warm up. But they should still have enough juice in their battery packs to render Jacksonville catatonic. I wonder if any Jags will take a side-trip up to L.A. to check out the housing market…

Woody’s Winner: San Diego

FACT: Both the Bolts and the Jags tossed 10 interceptions last season, tied for fewest in the AFC.

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N.Y. GIANTS @ INDIANAPOLIS

Manningfest 2010 takes place in Indianapolis, where Peyton expects to defend his home turf against his younger brother. New York should have fallen victim to Eli’s 3 interceptions, pulled out a win nonetheless. Indy couldn't do the same with Peyton's 400+ yard passing day, and lost at Houston. That’s the third regular-season loss in a row for the Colts, something that hadn’t occurred since 2002. I wouldn’t hold my breath to wait for number four.

Woody’s Winner: Indianapolis

FACT: Hakeem Nicks had four catches last week, three of them for TDs.

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NEW ORLEANS @ SAN FRANCISCO

It’s gold rush time in California as the New Orleans arrives to do some panning in San Francisco. No team scored fewer points (6) than the 49ers did in Week 1, and there’s no way the team can hold its own against a bunch of high-flying Saints. The Super Bowl champions will be wearing flowers in their hair as they descend on some unsuspecting Prospectors, and I wouldn’t want to be in the locker room post-game when coach Mike Singletary tells it like it is.

Woody’s Winner: New Orleans

FACT: Since New Orleans was realigned out of the NFC West in 2001, the Saints are 5-0 against their old division rivals.

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Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!

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9 Things You Might Not Know About 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
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Even by the standards of pro wrestling and its exaggerated personalities, there’s never been anyone quite like Randy “Macho Man” Savage (1952-2011). A staple of WWE and WCW programming in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage’s bulging neck veins, hoarse voice, and inventive gesticulations made him a star. Check out some facts in honor of what would’ve been Savage’s 65th birthday.

1. HE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER.

Born Randall Poffo in Columbus, Ohio, Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, was a notable pro wrestler in the 1950s, sometimes wrestling under a mask with a dollar sign on it as “The Masked Miser.” If that was considered the family business, Savage initially strayed from it, pursuing his love of baseball into a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals farm team as a catcher directly out of high school. Savage played nearly 300 minor league games over four seasons. After failing to make the majors, he decided to follow his father into wrestling.

2. A HAWAIIAN WRESTLER INSPIRED HIS FAMOUS TAGLINE.

In 1967, a then-15-year-old Savage accompanied his father to a wrestling event in Hawaii. There, he saw island grappler King Curtis Iaukea deliver a “promo,” or appeal for viewers to watch him in a forthcoming match. Iaukea spoke in a whisper before bellowing, punctuating his sentences with, “Ohhh, yeah!” That peculiar speech pattern stuck with Savage, who adopted it when he began his career in the ring.

3. HIS MOM GAVE HIM THE “MACHO MAN” NICKNAME.


By John McKeon from Lawrence, KS, United States - Randy "Macho Man" Savage, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

According to Savage, his wrestling nickname didn’t come from the Village People song but from an article his mother, Judy, had read in Reader’s Digest announcing that “macho man” was going to be a hot term in the coming years. She mailed it to Savage along with a list of other possible names. Even though neither one seemed to know what a “macho man” was, Savage liked the sound of it. His stage name, Savage, came from Georgia promoter Ole Anderson, who thought Savage’s grappling style was ferocious.

4. HE SCARED OTHER WRESTLERS.

In the early 1980s, Savage’s father had started promoting his own regional shows in the Lexington, Kentucky area. To draw publicity, Savage and the other wrestlers would sometimes show up to rival shows threatening grapplers and offering up wagers that they could beat them up in a real fight. Once, a Memphis wrestler named Bill Dundee pulled a gun on Savage, who allegedly took it away from him and beat him with it. After his father’s promotion closed up, Savage landed in the WWF (now WWE), giving him a national platform.

5. JAKE THE SNAKE’S PYTHON PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL.

One of Savage’s recurring feuds in the WWE was with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, a lanky wrestler who carried a python into the ring with him and allowed the reptile to “attack” his opponents. To intensify their rivalry, Savage agreed to allow Roberts’s snake to bite him on the arm during a television taping after being assured it was devenomized. Five days later, Savage was in the hospital with a 104-degree fever. Savage lived, but the snake didn’t; it died just a few days later. “He was devenomized, but maybe I wasn’t,” Savage told IGN in 2004. 

6. HE PLANNED HIS MATCHES DOWN TO THE SECOND.

While outcomes may be planned backstage, the choreography of pro wrestling is left largely up to the participants, who either talk it over prior to going out or call their moves while in the ring. For a 1987 match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, Savage wanted everything to be absolutely perfect.

“We both had those yellow legal tablets, and we started making notes,” Steamboat told Sports Illustrated in 2015. “Randy would have his set of notes and I would have mine. Then we got everything addressed—number 1, number 2, number 3—and we went up to number 157. Randy would say, ‘OK, here is up to spot 90, now you tell me the rest.’ I would have to go through the rest, then I would quiz him. I’d never planned out a match that way, so it was very stressful to remember everything.” The effort was worth it: Their match is considered by many fans to be among the greatest of all time.

7. HIS MARRIAGE TO MISS ELIZABETH CAUSED PROBLEMS IN THE LOCKER ROOM.

Savage’s “valet” in the WWE was Miss Elizabeth, a fixture of his corner during most of his career in the 1980s. Although they had an onscreen wedding in 1991, they had been married in real life back in 1984. According to several wrestlers, Savage was jealously guarded with his wife, whom he kept in their own locker room. Savage would also confront wrestlers he believed to have been hitting on her. The strain of working and traveling together was said to have contributed to their (real) divorce in 1991.

8. HE CUT A RAP ALBUM DISSING HULK HOGAN.

In 2003, with his best years in the ring behind him, Savage decided to pursue a new career in rap music. Be a Man featured 13 rap songs, including one that eulogized his late friend, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. But the performance that got the most mainstream attention was the title track, which dissed wrestling star Hulk Hogan. The two had apparently gotten into a rivalry after Hogan made some disparaging comments about Savage on a Tampa, Florida radio show. Whether the sentiment was real or staged, it didn’t do much to help sales: Be a Man moved just 3000 copies.

9. HE MIGHT GET A STATUE IN HIS HOMETOWN.

In 2016, fans circulated a petition to get Savage his own statue in Columbus, Ohio. The initiative was inspired by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a monument in Columbus, and wrestling fans argue that Savage should get equal time. The mayor has yet to issue a response. In the meantime, a 20-inch-tall resin statue of Savage was released by McFarlane Toys in 2014.

See Also: 10 Larger-Than-Life Facts About Andre the Giant

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10 Secrets of Ski Instructors
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If you’ve spent this fall wearing shorts and sandals, you’re not alone: Temperatures have been warmer than average across the United States. But no matter how warm it is where you are, there’s still snow (and skiing) in the forecast somewhere. Before you hit the slopes this winter, check out these on-the-job secrets of ski instructors, from why they love bad weather to what they do during the summer.

1. THEY LOVE BAD WEATHER.

No one can control the weather, but ski instructors cross their fingers for frosty temperatures and heavy snowfall. “Ski instructors love cold, appalling winter weather because it so often results in big snowfalls and the skier's dream—velvety powder snow,” says Chalky White, a ski instructor and the author of The 7 Secrets of Skiing.

But big snowfalls don’t always happen, so ski instructors try to make the best of whatever weather they encounter on a given day. Tony Macri of Snow Trainers, a ski and snowboard training company based in Colorado and New Zealand, tells Mental Floss that the weather’s unpredictability makes ski instructing an adventure. “I never think that weather is disappointing,” he says. “It is what creates more challenge and mystery in every day, versus going back to your cubicle that always has the same florescent light shining down on you.”

2. SOME OF THEM HAVE A BEEF WITH SNOWBOARDERS.

Although some ski instructors also teach (and love) snowboarding, the majority of them try to stay away from snowboarders on the slopes, at least when they’re teaching. “[Snowboarders] tend to push all the fresh snow down the hill with their natural movements. Gets pretty frustrating!” justind99, a ski instructor in Quebec, writes in a Reddit AMA.

But other ski instructors have a more zen attitude when it comes to snowboarders and preach coexistence. “We are all here to have fun,” rbot1, a ski instructor in Salt Lake City, says in a Reddit AMA. “The snowboarder vs skier stigma does nothing but cause problems. Share the mountain!”

3. THEIR CERTIFICATION PROCESS IS INTENSE.

Ski instructor teaching adults

Depending on the country in which they become certified, ski instructors must take classes and pass a series of tests to prove their proficiency. In the U.S., the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) establishes certification requirements for instructors. Once instructors become certified, they can take additional tests of their technical skills to earn higher levels of certification.

“Level 1 is pretty easy to get. Anyone that can ski a blue square comfortably can pass a level 1 exam,” rbot1 says. But achieving certification for higher levels is more challenging, requiring ski instructors to demonstrate their mastery of various turns, bump runs, and drills. “A single mistake in any of those runs nets you a fail,” says rbot1, who spent two years preparing for his Level 2 test. “These drills might be easy to complete, but you have to do it perfectly.”

4. THEY’VE SEEN SOME GNARLY ACCIDENTS.

Although some people think of skiing as a risky activity, ski instructors insist that, statistically, skiing is no more hazardous than many other sports. That said, most ski instructors have seen at least one nasty injury on the slopes, including broken legs and noses, concussions, and shoulder dislocations. “The worst injury I ever witnessed was a spinal fracture from a kid landing on his back after attempting to do a jump in the snow park area,” justind99 says.

“I have seen some injuries to knees, but the worst was when a friend concussed himself so bad that he was knocked out and was actually sleeping with his eyes open,” Macri says. White tells Mental Floss that a helicopter once picked him up from the slopes because medics suspected that he’d broken his neck. “Good news—I didn’t."

5. THEIR PAY ISN’T GREAT.

The income ski instructors make can vary widely, based on where they teach and their level of expertise. Some instructors earn $10 or $11 an hour for group lessons but charge more for private lessons or longer coaching sessions. While most beginning ski instructors may make just $20,000 per year, the perks of getting paid to ski outweigh the lack of cash for many instructors. “I do understand that at some point I’ll need to either start working really hard to boost my earning potential as an instructor or find another field,” rbot1 says. “For now, it’s a blast.”

6. THEY GET CREATIVE TO TEACH KIDS.

Ski instructor teaching children

A group of young kids bundled up in ski jackets while they try to balance on narrow skis might look adorable, but teaching children to ski comes with plenty of challenges. “Some kids don't have the muscles to do it at [a young] age and some do,” explains inkybus21, a ski and snowboard instructor who has taught in Canada, Australia, and Japan. To make sure his young students don’t lose interest or give up, he makes up games that require various skiing motions and uses visuals to help kids figure out how to properly use their bodies.

7. THEIR EQUIPMENT IS EXPENSIVE.

Ski equipment can be pricey, and ski instructors know the pain of an empty wallet firsthand. From skis and boots to bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, and other accessories, ski instructors can easily spend over $1000 on their equipment. And because their gear gets more use than a casual skier’s, instructors typically go through a pair of skis, boots, and liners each season. But many instructors are eligible for steep discounts on their gear, thanks to their employer or their PSIA-AASI membership. “I haven't bought anything at retail price in years,” rbot1 says. “I can’t even imagine paying full price for a pair of boots or ski/binder set up.”

8. THEY MISS SKIING DURING THE SUMMER.

In a career dependent on the winter season, what do ski instructors do during the summer? Some of them travel to the opposite hemisphere to work at a ski resort—essentially working two winters in a row. But because it can be costly to travel and live on another continent, most ski instructors work odd jobs or use their savings to rock climb and explore the outdoors in the off season. Rbot1, for example, has spent his summers working at a ski resort’s restaurant, boxing fish at an Alaskan processing plant, and living off of his savings. “Most people have a seasonal job. The most popular is raft guiding, the second most popular is working at a state park,” he says.

9. THEY GREATLY APPRECIATE TIPS.

Ski instructors don’t always receive tips from their students, and they wish more people knew that they welcome—and in some cases, expect—gratuity. Rbot1 recounts the story of how he once earned $1500, his biggest tip to date, after instructing a family of four for five days, taking them to different parts of the mountain and even eating lunch with them. “At the end of the week it was all hugs and smiles, but my hand was left dry,” he says. “Anyways, next day I got an email that said ‘you have a tip in the office’ and BOOM $1500 in an envelope.” Rbot1 made good use of the generous tip, paying two months of rent and car payments, as well as buying new ski goggles and gloves.

10. THEY LOVE HELPING PEOPLE OVERCOME THEIR FEARS.

Although skiing is good exercise and an enjoyable winter activity, learning to ski can also help people feel more confident. “It’s not always about skiing and teaching people to be the best skiers,” Macri says. “A lot of [the job] is just about showing people a good time and helping them achieve their goals or overcoming their fears.”

Macri particularly appreciates the amazing views from the top of a mountain, as well as the feeling he gets when he takes students down a great run and everyone high-fives one another in joy. “I sit back and think this is my office and I am having just as amazing [a] time as everyone else. The only difference is that I am getting paid for it,” he says.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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