By Danny Daniels | The Walton Tribune | November 26, 2006

All of us in the news room have been sitting here this Wednesday afternoon working feverishly to meet an early deadline so you can read our newspaper on Sunday as usual. Holidays mean well-deserved time off, but they unfortunately mean more. They mean folks in our business put in some crazy (more crazy than usual) hours to get the next edition out on time.

As we sit here with the office TV tuned to the Spike Channel instead of CNN, we’ve all been entertained by four of the five “Rocky” movies, played back-to-back-to-back-to back. That’s a lot of “Yo Adrians” to deal with in one day.

The thing I noticed about Sylvester Stallone is that he was once a decent actor. When the first of the series came out in 1976, Stallone held out until the movie execs agreed to let him play the lead role. It was obviously a smart move because “Rocky” won Best Motion Picture honors and Stallone went on to become a major action star.

Even though each “Rocky” movie had its moments of entertainment, they progressively got worse as the series dragged along. Now I hear we can look forward to Rocky VI with Balboa battling some guy named Mason Dixon. I think they are adversaries at the Senior Citizens Center who decide to put on the gloves and settle it once and for all as to which is more valuable — Metamucil or Geritol.

On the other hand, nothing could be dumber than “Rocky V” where two supposedly heavyweight boxers meet, bare-fisted, in the middle of the street. Making believe you don’t know that one clean punch from a professional pugilist would immediately render his opponent unconscious is asking too much.

Anyway, getting back to the only offering of the series with any substance, the first “Rocky” told us all we have a fighting change — no matter the odds. I’m sure sermons have been preached on the subject of never giving up. Cancer patients probably have relied on the movie to uplift their spirits at such a dark time. And parents have used the character to encourage their children to rise above mediocrity in the classroom.

Rocky Balboa has become a folk hero to many Americans. And if Stallone had let the character ride off into the sunset in 1976, he’d be an icon. Yet the man who ate raw eggs for breakfast somehow gave us hope that we can endure when life throws us its best punch.