By BOB URBAN

rurban@tnonline.com

I've quit monitoring my 401-K online, only because I'm afraid to see what I have, or what I no longer have, in my account. In all my 60-plus years, I never remember an economic crisis as tense as the one we are currently experiencing.

Two-a-day practices in pads have been eliminated at camp by all NFL teams and only 14 practices in pads can be held during the regular season. Teams are restricted to one practice in pads per week for the first 11 weeks, then just one practice in pads in three of the final five weeks of the regular season.

Seems like the NFL is turning its players into a bunch of wimps. High school athletes, who take the field Monday as football practice begins, have much tougher workouts than the pros. And they're doing it for the love of the game, not for millions of dollars.

We all could use a little laughter as we contemplate what our financial future is going to be like. So here's a funny story, sent to me by a loyal reader.

Sitting on the side of the road waiting to catch speeding drivers, a state trooper sees a car puttering along at 22 mph. He thinks to himself, "This driver is as dangerous as a speeder!" So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over. Approaching the car, he notices that there are five elderly ladies two in the front seat and three in the back wide-eyed and white as ghosts. The driver, obviously confused, says to him, "Officer, I don't understand. I was going the exact speed limit. What seems to be the problem?"

The trooper trying to contain a chuckle, explains to her that 22 was the route number, not the speed limit.

A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

"But before you go, Ma'am, I have to ask, is everyone in this car OK? These women seem awfully shaken."

"Oh, they'll be all right in a minute, officer. We just got off Route 100."

Reading the biographies of the extraordinary young Navy Seals and the others who were killed when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan last week, makes one feel inferior. They were truly exceptional people.

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was injured earlier this week when a player accidentally ran into him on the practice field, while going out for a pass. The incident reminds me of a time more than 50 years ago when legendary Coaldale High School Coach Tom Raymer was run into by a Tiger player at practice. Raymer broke a leg and spent the rest of the season patrolling the sidelines on crutches.

I've been watching pro golf on TV for a lot of years. I've even attended a few tournaments. I can't ever remember cheering against any contestant, until now. I can no longer cheer for Tiger Woods. And I hope he never comes close to Jack Nicklaus' record for winning the most major tournaments.

Finally, another joke to help brighten your day.

A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the oasis, only to find a little old man at a small stand, selling ties.

The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"

The man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."

The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an overpriced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first!"

"OK," said the old man, "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need."

Cursing, the Taliban staggered away over the hill. Several hours later he staggered back, almost dead and said, "Your damn brother won't let me in without a tie!"