By Colin Dunlap

Kris Letang is coming back tonight for the Penguins.

He’s been out since the end of January.

I don’t know, can’t get too much into hockey tonight — I’ll watch, but I will remember it’s just an escape for a few hours.

The Pirates will try to make it two in a row against the woeful Cubs tonight at Wrigley, and endeavor to push their season record to 6-2.

I don’t know, can’t get too much into baseball tonight — I’ll watch, but I will remember it’s just an escape for a few hours.

My mind — and maybe yours, too — is elsewhere. And that’s OK.

How can most, if not all of us, not be inundated by the happenings at Franklin Regional High School this morning, when, allegedly, a teenager wielding a couple of knives started attacking people in the 7 a.m. hour.

When it all stopped, 20 people were injured, four critically.

Life goes on, life advances.

It must.

It always does when dreadful acts like this happen.

But for me it causes a moment, maybe more, of reflection about that term “hero” and how it has become cheapened far too often in our modern vernacular.

Guys who score goals, dunk a basketball, hit a baseball over the right-field wall into a river or run for a bunch of 100-yard games aren’t heroes. Not by any stretch. They are extremely high achievers in their vocation; people who force us to bind together, watch their brilliance and root like hell for the home team.

Let’s remember that as we watch these games tonight and moving forward. Let’s remember they are an escape for us; let’s remember they are entertainment and that real life stuff is what matters more.

You want a hero?

How about the assistant principal at Franklin Regional who — according to numerous reports — tackled the suspect amid unspeakable carnage in a hallway of the school he loved, putting himself in imminent danger to protect the students he undeniably promised parents he would if anything like this ever happened?

You want a hero?

How about the kid — according to numerous reports — who had the smarts during the pandemonium to pull the fire alarm so that people would flee danger?

You want a hero?

How about the school security guard, who Murrysville police chief Thomas Seefeld said was slashed in the stomach as he aimed to protect a building full of kids?

You want some heroes?

How about all those first responders who showed up for work, never understanding what sort of Wednesday they’d walk into and then were faced with a bloody, disordered high school full of teenagers that probably just went through what will be the worst day of their lives.

You want some heroes?

How about Dr. Christoph Kaufmann — the Forbes Regional Hospital director of trauma services — and his team? What was most likely an innocuous morning turned into what might be their highest volume, catastrophic event without the semblance of any warnings.

These acts of violence happen far too often nowadays. However, they seem to happen in Kentucky or in Colorado, in Florida, Montana or some faraway place that we don’t know too much about until CNN breaks into the newscast and tells us something awful has transpired there.

This one is different.

This one is too close to home.

We all know something about Franklin Regional. Whether we have driven past the school, know people who have kids who go there, know someone who goes there or has gone there, have seen a school bus with “Franklin Regional” plastered on the side or just read their football score in the local paper, we all know something about Franklin Regional.

That’s why this one is different; that’s why we probably feel a little bit different today.

And we should.

How will we deal with it? Most likely, we will try to get back into our routine, which for many of us will involve cheering like heck for the Penguins tonight, or hoping Pedro Alvarez or Andrew McCutchen smacks the snot out of a pitch deep into the Chicago night lifting the Pirates to a victory.

That’s all well and good — and as it should be.

Sports in this town, stronger than any I have been to, binds us together and captivates us, ties us into a collective unit and forces a sense of pride not realized by any other city in this world.

As we watch tonight, however, remember those ballplayers are just that —- ballplayers.

Heroes, on the other hand, were doing some heroic things in light of the Franklin Regional situation this morning.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at He can also be heard weeknights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at Check out his bio here.

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