## Sunday, November 06, 2005 ... //

### Jágr's smile and jokes

Let me admit that I find most athletes uninteresting. Jaromír Jágr, the NHL superstar, is definitely one of the major exceptions. Lee Jenkins wrote an article in the

about this Czech athlete who has become a key player of New York Rangers and who is again the leading scorer and the dominant right wing in the league. What's so special about Jágr?

First of all, he likes freedom. Others usually prefer the money and the fame. The communists stole the farm of Jágr's grandfather and arrested him for several years. Jágr's grandfather died in 1968, during the Prague Spring. Jágr has been using the number "68" ever since.

As a schoolkid, not surprisingly, he kept a picture of Ronald Reagan in one of his schoolbooks or wallets. (So did I.) I am sure that most readers are completely unimpressed by these feelings, and they are wrong. Happy 25th anniversary to all Reaganites! It's been quarter a century since Reagan defeated Carter. (Jágr spoke to Reagan in 1992 via telephone and the conversation may have been difficult because he did not know what Gipper meant etc.)

Jágr also enjoyed to be himself as a player whose salary was as high as 11 million USD. Well, such a situation opens new dimensions of freedom, including room for heavy gambling, speeding tickets in fast cars, new arcade games, other symbols of Jágr neverending childhood, and occassional debates with the IRS. Two or three years ago, his difficult years were caused partly by the limitations imposed on his freedom and on his jokes and partly by the breakup with Andrea Verešová, a former Miss Slovakia (2003).

Well, yes, another reason for my understanding of Jágr is that I can imagine very well that it is discouraging if your Slovak girlfriend is not functioning properly. She is an attractive woman; but things look very different from the viewpoint of eternity.