Day of memories

A lot of things happened on January 22 in the past.

Three of those came before I was born.

On January 22, 1973, the following occurred:

  • The Supreme Court of the United States legalized abortion in Roe v Wade. Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion, although much of it was crafted by William Brennan, the leading progressive on the court for over 30 years. Byron White and William Rehnquist dissented. If you’re looking for my opinion on this case, keep waiting. Not here. Not now.
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, died of a massive heart attack at his ranch in Johnson City, Texas. LBJ was in poor health throughout his post-presidential life, and it was only a matter of time before his bad habits caught up with him.
  • George Foreman battered Joe Frazier in Jamaica, winning by TKO in the second round to claim the World Heavyweight Championship. Referee Arthur Mercante, also in charge of Frazier’s epic 15-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali in 1971 in New York City, mercifully stopped the fight after Frazier was knocked down for the sixth time. Howard Cosell shouted “DOWN GOES FRAZIER” after the first knockdown, the most iconic line uttered by the man who always bragged he “Tells It Like It Is”.

January 22 just happened to be one busy day in one of the most hectic months of the last 50 years. To wit:

  • January 7–Mark James Robert Essex went full commando in downtown New Orleans, killing seven–including three members of the New Orleans Police Department–and wounding 19 others in a siege at the Downtown Howard Johnson’s Hotel. It was discovered later that Essex killed two other NOPD members on New Year’s Eve and also was the probable culprit for the Rault Center fire of November 29, 1972, which killed six.
  • January 14–The Dolphins defeated the Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII to complete their 17-0 season. Also that day, Elvis Presley performed in Honolulu to a worldwide audience over over one billion (none in the United States and Canada; the concert was not aired until April in those countries).
  • January 27–The Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Two events of January 22 in the 1980s I remember much better.

The first Super Bowl I recall watching from beginning to end was Super Bowl XVIII, January 22, 1984 in Tampa.

The Redskins were the defending champion, having beaten the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Washington went 14-2 in 1983, scoring a then-NFL record behind a dynamic offense led by quarterabck Joe Theismann, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, and running back John (The Diesel) Riggins, who scored a then-NFL record 24 touchdowns. Theismann had one of the NFL’s best receivers in Art Monk, who would be healthy for Super Bowl XVIII after missing the 1982 playoffs with a leg injury. Washington’s defense was overshadowed by its offense, but the Redskins had a stout unit, led by tackle Dave Butz, end Dexter Manley, linebacker Neal Olkewicz, and safety Mark Murphy, as well as a rookie cornerback from Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) named Darrell Green.

The Raiders were in their second season in Los Angeles. They had a superstar running back of their own in Marcus Allen, as well as speedy receiver Cliff Branch and sure-handed tight end Todd Christensen. Jim Plunkett did not have the big numbers Theismann had, but he was a fearless leader who had survived terrible stints in New England and San Francisco. Oakland’s defense was powered by a secondary led by cornerback Lester Hayes and safety Mike Haynes, acquired from the Patriots during the season. Up front, Oakland had a pair of studs at end, Lyle Alzado and Howie Long, while linebacker Ted Hendricks was still going strong in his 15th–and final–NFL season.

Washington defeated the Raiders 37-35 at RFK Stadium in week five, rallying from a 35-20 deficit in the fourth quarter to do so. The Redskins’ only losses were each by one point on Monday Night Football, at home vs. the Cowboys in the opener and at Green Bay two weeks after the game with the Raiders.Washington blew away the Rams 51-7 in the divisional playoffs, but barely beat the 49ers 24-21 in the NFC championship. San Francisco coach Bill Walsh (he will be mentioned later in this post, and with good reason) was incensed over two very marginal penalties called against the 49ers on the drive which led to the Redskins’ game-winning field goal, and he would use those calls as  a rallying point for 1984, when San Francisco tore apart the league by going 15-1 in the regular season and winning Super Bowl XIX.

Los Angeles lost twice to division rival Seattle and suffered an inexplicable December loss at home to the Cardinals, but came on strong in the playoffs, routing Pittsburgh 38-10 and Seattle 30-14.

Many of the scribes who considered themselves experts on professional football felt Super Bowl XVIII had the potential to be one of the best Super Bowls ever.

Instead, it was a super rout.

The Raiders scored following Washington’s first possession when Derrick Jensen blocked a Jeff Hayes punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. A touchdown pass from Plunkett to Branch early in the second quarter made it 14-0. The Redskins got a field goal later in the period, but one of the most disastrous plays in the history of championship football was about to occur.

The Redskins had the ball inside their own 20 with 12 seconds to go in the first half. The smart play would be for Theismann to take a knee and for Joe Gibbs and his players to regroup during the long halftime.

Instead, Gibbs sent in a play called Rocket Screen.

During the October game with the Raiders, Theismann and Joe Washington executed it to perfection. Theismann dumped off to Washington in the right flat, and the ex-Oklahoma speedster took it for 67 yards to set up a Redskin touchdown as part of the Redskins’ 17-point rally in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles defensive coordinator Charlie Sumner believed Gibbs might call the play even though very little time remained in the half, and made an important substitution.

Sumner sent in 6-foot-4 reserve linebacker Jack Squirek, a second-year player from Illinois, in for Matt Millen (yes, THAT Matt Millen). Millen was angry that Sumner removed him, but Squirek was a better pass defender than Millen, who was a defensive tackle at Penn State before becoming a linebacker when he was drafted by the Raiders in 1980.

Squirek was asked to play man-to-man coverage against Joe Washington. If Washington caught the screen pass and broke contain, he would have a chance to gain enough yardage to set up Moseley for a field goal attempt to end the first half.

Rocket Screen did lead to a score.

Theismann dropped back and looked left for Joe Washington. Instead, Squirek caught the ball in stride at the 5 and pranced into the north end zone of Tampa Stadium.

Game, set, match, Raiders. It was 21-3 at halftime, and the Redskins’ reign as champion had 30 minutes to run.

Washington scored a touchdown on its first drive of the second half, but it was far too little, too late.

Later in the third quarter, Allen gobbled up huge chunks of real estate on his way to a then-Super Bowl record 191 yards. He scored two touchdowns during the stanza, the second on a remarkable 74-yard run on the final play of the period.

On the play, 17 Bob Trey O, Allen started out as if he would sweep left end, but reversed his field when confronted by Redskins strong safety Ken Coffey. Allen found a crease up the middle and avoided a diving tackle attempt by Olkewicz near midfield. Green and Anthony Washington gave chase, but were hopelessly behind the 1981 Heisman Trophy winner from USC.

The 74-yard jaunt sewed up MVP honors for Allen and was the icing on the cake of the Raiders’ 38-9 victory.

However, to many who watched, Super Bowl XVIII is not remembered for Allen, Squirek or Theismann, but instead for a commercial which aired during the third quarter.

In honor of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, published in 1949, Apple Computers aired a commercial where its new product, the Macintosh, would free the human race from the sinister grip of Big Brother and allow for the continued free will of man and the free exchange of ideas.

The commercial, created by famous movie director Ridley Scott, never aired again, but it is remembered by many not only as the greatest Super Bowl ad ever, but the greatest ad ever, period, regardless of air time or air date.

Five years later, the second–and last–Super Bowl played on January 22 produced one of the great championship games in NFL annals.

Super Bowl XXIII, played on January 22, 1989, marked the return of the big game to South Florida after a ten-year absence. This was the first Super Bowl played in the Dolphins’ palatial new facility, known then as Joe Robbie Stadium, in honor of the Miami owner, who built the $115 million stadium without a dime of taxpayer assistance.

The stadium now known as Hard Rock Stadium is a much better facility for football today than it was when it opened in 1987.

Robbie built the stadium with baseball in mind as well, thinking the area would receive a Major League Baseball expansion team in the near future, which it did when the Marlins joined the National League in 1993.

When the Marlins received their own stadium in 2012 (that’s another story for another post), the NFL required the Dolphins to make major renovations to the facility in order to host another Super Bowl. Current owner Stephen Ross complied, and the Super Bowl returns to South Florida in February 2020.

Super Bowl XXIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, with the Bengals taking on the 49ers.

Some of the same players who were part of the 49ers’ first championship team in 1981 were still with the squad seven years later, most importantly Joe Montana. However, Montana had gone through a dip in his career following the victory over Miami in Super Bowl XIX after the 1984 season. He had a major back injury in 1986 which required surgery, and although he led the 49ers to an NFL-best 13-2 record in 1987, he struggled in a divisional playoff loss to the Vikings and was pulled from the game in favor of Steve Young, who had been acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay before the 1987 draft.

In 1988, Walsh could not make up his mind between Montana and Young through the first half of the season. San Francisco was wildly inconsistent, one week defeating Minnesota when Young scored the game-winning touchdown on a 49-yard scramble around left end on which Young somehow kept his balance, then losing the next week to the Cardinals by blowing a 23-0 lead and losing 24-23.

With the Niners 6-5 and two games behind the Saints in the NFC West, Walsh made Montana the full-time starter. The move paid off, as San Francisco won its next five games, including a 30-17 victory over New Orleans in week 15, to clinch the division championship.

In the playoffs, the 49ers blasted the Vikings 34-9, then went to Chicago and pummeled the Bears 28-3 despite a minus-18 wind chill factor.

This would be the first Super Bowl appearance for Jerry Rice, who had already established himself as one of the NFL’s all-time great receivers in just his fourth season. The Mississippi Valley State product set the league on fire in 1987 when he caught a record 22 touchdown passes in only 12 games. That record would stand for 20 years, when Randy Moss took advantage of the full 16-game slate to haul in 23 scoring passes from Tom Brady.

San Francisco’s underrated defense still featured Ronnie Lott in the secondary, but had a new star in pass rushing ace Charles Haley, who had the freedom to roam and line up at either end or linebacker. 0

The Bengals were a vastly different bunch from the 1981 team which lost to the 49ers in the Pontiac Silverdome, save for veterans Cris Collinsworth, Eddie Edwards and Reggie Williams.

In 1984, Boomer Esiason took over the quarterback duties from all-time Bengals passing leader Ken Anderson. By 1988, the left-hander from Maryland was the NFL’s leading passer, triggering a no-huddle attack which featured fleet receivers Eddie Brown and Tim McGee, plus bruising tight end Rodney Holman. Esiason was protected by an offensive line anchored by Anthony Munoz, one of the NFL’s all-time best offensive tackles.

The Bengals’ running game was led by the versatile James Brooks and a tough fullback from UNLV named Elbert Woods, who became famous as Ickey Woods. The Ickey Shuffle, Woods’ dance after touchdowns, became a national fad as the Bengals began the season 6-0 and went on to a 12-4 record, a far cry from the 4-11 mark of 1987.

Cincinnati defeated Seattle and Buffalo to win its second AFC championship and send coach Sam Wyche, a former Bengals quarterback, into a matchup against his mentor. Wyche was an assistant to Walsh in 1981. Walsh was also a longtime Bengals assistant under Paul Brown before becoming the coach at Stanford in 1977.

The expected offensive explosion didn’t happen in the first half. Each team could muster only a field goal, and each team saw a player suffer a horrific injury.

First to go was 49ers offensive tackle Steve Wallace, who suffered a broken ankle. A few plays later, Bengals nose tackle Tim Krumrie also broke an ankle, but his injury was even more gruesome than Wallace’s.

The first touchdown did not come until late in the third quarter, and it was on a kickoff  return by the Bengals’ Stanford Jennings. The 49ers went to the final period down 13-6.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Montana hit Roger Craig for 40 yards to the Bengal 14. Monata’s next pass was almost disastrous for San Francisco, for it hit Cincinnati defender Lewis Billups in the hands.

Had Billups hung on, it might have been curtains for the 49ers.

Instead, Montana made the Bengals pay dearly. He found Rice in the left flat, and #80 did the rest, battling his way past the Bengals secondary to the pylon for the touchdown which tied the game at 13.

With 3:20 to go, Jim Breech nailed a 40-yard field goal which put Cincinnati up 16-13. The 49ers could only return the ensuing kickoff to their own 15, but were further backed up by an illegal block in the back.

With 3:10 remaining, San Francisco was at its own 8-yard line. It would take at least 60 yards to get into field goal range, but that was no sure thing, as Mike Cofer shanked a 19-yard attempt in the second quarter.

Before the first play of the drive, Montana added some levity to the situation when he pointed to the big television screen in the west end of the stadium and said “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?”.

It worked.

Montana led the 49ers on a drive for the ages, as 10 plays moved the ball 82 yards to the Cincinnati 10 with 39 seconds to play. Now the Bengals had to stiffen and hope they could force the 49ers to try a field goal.

With everyone expecting Montana to look for Rice, who finished with 11 receptions for 215 yards, both Super Bowl records, Joe Cool instead found the other wideout, John Taylor, in the middle of the end zone.

Montana’s dart nestled snugly in Taylor’s hands as the clock showed 34 seconds to play.

San Francisco was Super Bowl champion for the third time, 20-16. Walsh announced his retirement in the locker room immediately after the game. Rice, of course, was named MVP.

It’s almost January 23, so that’s it for now.

Quasi-home field advantage: a split decision

I’m writing this at a semi-ungodly hour because I figured it was better to get it out there while it’s fresh in my mind. I don’t do that enough with this blog.

Much has been made about the Vikings’ quest to become the first time to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Minnesota is the first team to reach the conference championship game in the same season it is hosting the Super Bowl.

Seven teams previously reached the playoffs in the same season it hosted a Super Bowl, but none got past the conference semifinals. Those were the 1970 Dolphins (lost to Raiders in AFC divisional), 1978 Dolphins (lost in AFC wild card to Oilers), 1994 Dolphins (lost to Chargers in AFC divisional, blowing 21-6 lead), 1998 Dolphins (lost to Broncos in AFC divisional), 2000 Buccaneers (lost to Eagles in NFC wild card), 2014 Cardinals (lost to Panthers in NFC wild card) and 2016 Texans (lost to Patriots in AFC divisional).

If you’re keeping score, the Saints have NEVER made the playoffs in a year they have hosted the Super Bowl. In fact, only once have they even posted a winning record in a Super Bowl hosting year, going 9-7 in 1989, and it took a three-game winning streak in December over the Bills, Eagles and Colts with John Fourcade as the starting quarterback to do so. The Saints’ records in seasons hosting the Super Bowl: 5-9 (1969), 4-8-2 (1971), 5-9 (1974), 3-11 (1977), 1-15 (1980, the year of the “Aints” and the bag heads), 1985 (5-11), 1989 (9-7), 1996 (3-13), 2001 (7-9) and 2012 (7-9).

Even though no NFL team has yet to play a Super Bowl on home turf, two teams played in college stadiums in their metropolitan areas: the 1979 Rams in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984 49ers in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium.

Today is a perfect day to talk about this, since Super Bowls XIV and XIX were played on January 20 of their respective years. That will never happen again, unless the NFL moves up the start of its season to mid-August. Not happening.

Pasadena is 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Coincidentally, 1979 was the last year the Rams played in the Coliseum until 2016. The Rams moved to Anaheim Stadium in Orange County in 1980 under an agreement signed in 1978 by then-owner Carroll Rosenbloom, who died under mysterious circumstances in April 1979. The team passed to his widow, Georgia, who soon remarried for the seventh time and became Georgia Frontiere. Georgia was a vicious old hag who swiped the Rams for her birthplace, St. Louis, where they played from 1995 through 2015 before returning to where they belonged.

The 1979 Rams were a hot mess. Yes, they won their seventh consecutive NFC West division championship, but benefitted from a down year by the Falcons, who were a playoff team in 1978, and a Saints team which had a potent offense led by Archie Manning and Chuck Munice, but a porous defense which allowed the Seahawks to score 38 points two weeks after the Rams held Seattle to an NFL record low minus-7 yards total offense. That porous Saints defense also allowed the Raiders to score 28 points in the fourth quarter of a Monday Night Football game in New Orleans to turn a 35-14 lead into a 42-35 loss.

Los Angeles somehow went on the road and beat the Cowboys in what turned out to be Roger Staubach’s final football game, and then the Buccaneers to reach Super Bowl XIV.

Awaiting Ray Malavasi’s club were the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were aiming for their fourth Super Bowl championship in six seasons. The Steelers were aging, but still were the dominant force in the NFL in 1979, thanks to their explosive offense, which featured Terry Bradshaw throwing deep to John Stallworth and Lynn Swann more than ever. Pittsburgh still had Franco Harris in the backfield, but Chuck Noll took advantage of the 1978 rules changes which opened up the passing game (allowing blockers to use open arms and extended hands, and limiting the amount of contact against a receiver) better than any coach in the NFL.

Pittsburgh ousted Miami in the divisional playoffs, then outlasted AFC Central rival Houston to reach the Super Bowl. It would be the first time the Steelers would play a Super Bowl on the west coast, having won Super Bowl IX in New Orleans in Tulane Stadium’s last NFL game, then X and XIII in Miami. The latter game was the last Super Bowl at the Orange Bowl, and the last in Miami until the 1988 season, by which time Joe Robbie Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) had opened.

Nobody gave the Rams a prayer. Los Angeles was led by inexperienced quarterback Vince Ferragamo, who was ineffective after taking over for the injured Pat Haden. The Rams did have a stout defense, led by future Hall of Fame end Jack Youngblood, who was playing with a broken bone in his leg suffered during the win over Dallas, but the ineffective offense didn’t figure to be much of a challenge for the Steel Curtain, even though perennial All-Pro linebacker Jack Ham was out with an ankle injury.

Instead of the expected rout, the Rams gave the Steelers all they could handle and then some. Los Angeles led 13-10 at halftime, and after yielding a 47-yard Bradshaw to Swann touchdown pass early in the third quarter, the Rams struck back on a halfback option pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith to go back in front 19-17.

The Steelers finally remembered they were the three-time Super Bowl champions in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh took the lead for good on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Bradshaw to Stallworth on a play where the Rams’ secondary became confused and cornerback Rod Perry had no safety help deep down the middle (sound familiar, Saints fans?), and extinguished the Rams’ last flicker of hope when Lambert intercepted Ferragamo in Steeler territory with under six minutes left. The Steelers added an insurance touchdown to make the final 31-19, but many agreed it was one of the best Super Bowls played up to that point.

Five years later, the 49ers played just 30 miles (48 kilometers) from their home at Candlestick Park to take on the Dolphins in what was expected to be the greatest quarterback battle in NFL history.

Miami, making its fifth trip to the Super Bowl under Don Shula, was powered by the rocket arm of Dan Marino, who rewrote the NFL record book in his second year in the league.

Marino, who somehow fell all the way to 27th in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft before Shula swiped him, threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns in 1984, both NFL records at the time. It was a good thing Marino had a record-breaking year, because (a) Miami’s running attack was next to non-existent, and (b) the “Killer Bees” defense had lost its sting. The Dolphin defense was reeling following the departure of its architect, Bill Arnsparger, who took the head coaching job at LSU at the end of the 1983 season. Add in injuries to All-Pro linebacker A.J. Duhe and nose tackle Bob Baumhower, and Miami was a in a whole heap of trouble against Montana and the man who made the West Coast Offense as common as the off-tackle play in the NFL, San Francisco coach Bill Walsh.

Montana led the 49ers to a 15-1 regular season in 1984, with only a three-point loss to the Steelers marring their ledger. Jerry Rice had not yet arrived–he would the next season–but San Francisco still had plenty of weapons, with steady Dwight Clark, imposing tight end Russ Francis and versatile running back Roger Craig all catching loads of footballs from Montana. San Francisco also had a far more stable running game, thanks to Craig and Wendell Tyler.

The 49ers also had a very good, if underrated, defense, even though linebacker Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds was in his final NFL campaign, and future Hall of Fame end Fred Dean held out until late November. San Francisco’s strength was its secondary, where all four players made the Pro Bowl: cornerbacks Eric Wright and Dwight Hicks, and safeties Carlton Williamson and Ronnie Lott, another future Hall of Famer wearing the red and gold for Walsh and Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

The expected showdown turned into a rout.

Miami led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, but 21 unanswered points by the 49ers in the second quarter turned the Super Bowl into a super blowout, something which would become quite common in the near future.

Other than Montana’s performance, Super Bowl XIX was most notable for President Reagan performing the coin toss via satellite from the White House (the former Governor of California had to stay in Washington because of presidential inauguration ceremonies; since January 20, 1985 was a Sunday, Reagan took the oath of office privately at the White House and publicly the next day in the rotunda of the Capitol).

San Francisco won 38-16 and would go on to win two more titles in 1988 and ’89 to become the team of the decade. Miami has yet to return to the Super Bowl. Marino played 17 seasons in the NFL and set numerous records, many of which have been broken, but only reached the AFC championship game twice more, losing to the Patriots in 1985 and the Bills in 1992, both times at home. Shula retired after the 1995 season with an NFL record 347 victories.

Strangely enough, Shula is one of three coaches to lose four Super Bowls, having been in charge of the Colts when Joe Namath delivered on his guarantee in Super Bowl III. The other four-time losers didn’t win one, Marv Levy of the Bills and Bud Grant of the Vikings.

Mentioning Grant is a great segue to the current Vikings, who have thrived under Mike Zimmer despite the quarterback conundrum facing this team the past two seasons.

In August 2016, Teddy Bridgewater, the first-round draft choice out of Louisville in 2014, suffered a horrific knee injuries, tearing all three ligaments (anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and lateral collateral) during a non-contact practice drill. The injury was so serious his career was in jeopardy. He missed all of 2016 and did not play in 2017 until near the end of the year.

Before the 2016 season, the Vikings traded a first-round draft choice to the Eagles for Sam Bradford, the oft-injured former #1 draft choice of the Rams and Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.

This season, Bradford was injured early, but the Vikings got a career year from Case Keenum, a journeyman who had been mediocre at best in previous stops with the Texans and Rams. Minnesota has the league’s #1 defense, not surprising given Zimmer was an outstanding defensive coordinator in Dallas and Cincinnati before going to the Vikings.

I am not a Vikings fan, but it would be nice to see them in the Super Bowl at home (as the designated visiting team), especially if the opponent were the Patriots. The crowd noise of U.S. Bank Stadium would be the ultimate neutralizer to Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, if “all time” is limited to the 21st century.

By 9:30 Central time tomorrow night, we’ll know who’s going to be playing in Minneapolis February 4. Then crank up the hype machine!

Trivia trifecta

I’m now at my third locale in Kansas City, north (not to be confused with North Kansas City, which is a municipality wedged between the Missouri River and where the actual city of Kansas City resumes its limits–don’t get me started on how Kansas City extends into FOUR counties) playing Buzztime trivia. Even though I played for seven hours Wednesday in Salina, I’ve been going almost non-stop today since Buffalo Wild Wings at Shoal Creek opened at 11 a.m.

I did take a break, long enough to check into the hotel where I will be spending the night and buy some things at Hallmark and Staples. I bought a birthday card for Morgan Gilliland’s younger daughter, Olivia, who turns one Sunday, and a couple of Valentine’s cards. That’s all I’m buying. Everyone else is getting electronic cards. I don’t know Caitlyn’s new address in Ottawa, or I’d send her one. I won’t reveal who the two people who are getting actual cards are.

I also brought an Optimus Prime doll at Hallmark. Hallmark has a series of little dolls of famous fictional characters targeted at children. However, I found the Darth Vader one so cute last year I bought him. I added C3PO late last year. Optimus Prime reminds me of my youth, because my brother and I watched The Transformers all the time when the cartoons premiered in the fall of 1984. My mother took my brother and I to watch the first Transformers movie in August 1986. It has come a long, long way in three decades, but the original cartoons bring back memories.

Robb and Dawn showed up at Buffalo Wild Wings at 5:30, as did Mike Decker, who goes by LOWPOP in trivia. I had not seen Mike since August. Robb and I got worried about him and wondered if something bad occurred. Fortunately that wasn’t the case.

Another face from the past showed up tonight. Lindsy Kurzdorfer, who worked there in 2014 and the first part of 2015, was there with some friends. She has been friends for a very long time with Trey, Liz and others who used to work there. Lindsy now lives in Dallas, and although I don’t miss her as much as I do Liz and Lisa, I remember her just as fondly.

I still need to go to Colorado Springs to see Liz. I want to go to Baton Rouge to see Bill and LSU play baseball. God I have so many points on the map I want to get to, just not enough time or money. It happens.

It got very loud at B-Dubs tonight. Lots of people and lots of R&B/hip-hope music playing. I’m trying not to get upset about it anymore. I can’t do anything about it, and I don’t want to spend loads of money just trying to clog up the jukebox so that music doesn’t play.

I have earplugs, but the foam ones wear out and get ear wax on them, so I may have to switch to a silicon model. However, the foam ones block noise better, so it may be a compromise where I have to have several pairs of foam ones on hand. My dad used to bring them home by the case when he worked at Air Products and Chemicals in New Orleans. There is an earplug store online. I will check it out.

I’m now at Minsky’s wrapping up the night. I’m going to order wings to go; I knew I wanted them, and I wrote down the order at B-Dubs before crossing Barry Road. I am probably going to keep the computer in the bag and just use the ipad. Maybe I’ll watch another episode of Jessie or Last Chance U.

I’m leaning towards going back tomorrow night, even if I get home at 1 a.m. I’m usually a better night driver, and since I’m sticking to the interstates, I don’t think I”ll have too much trouble. The other option is to leave early, stop in Salina for a while at Buffalo Wild Wings, then make the final hour of the journey west. I need to pick up a few things at Hen House on 64th Street before going back.

I should have done this during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m not going to tire of the place by going back tomorrow, and nobody will tire of me. Besides, how many times can I sit in Buffalo Wild Wings and play trivia? Seven hours in one day is plenty. Doing it four, five, six days in a row is a little over the top. I’ll be back in two weeks anyway. I have to see Dawn as much as I can before she moves to Florida.

When I was here three weeks ago, I actually did not go to B-Dubs that Friday night before New Year’s. I ordered takeout from Outback and watched the Cotton Bowl in my hotel room. I should have gone back Sunday. Staying until Monday was dumb because of the brutal cold. I risked having my car crap out on em. Between Saturday night and Sunday morning, I let the car sit for 16 hours, and it had a hell of a time starting the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. Not again.

This trip will be short, but it has been sweet. Time to buckle down Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The government will shut down at 11 p.m. Central. This country is run by 536 idiots–435 in the House, 100 in the Senate, and one living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC. Geez.

(Almost) an old-school trip

I thought for a while this morning I would be spending the weekend in Kansas City without my cell phone. I noticed around Junction City the phone was not on the passenger seat, and there was a chance I had left it back in Russell. I had sworn I had put it in the front pouch of my sweatshirt as I left the house at 5:30.

As it turned out, the phone had simply fallen over the side and lodged between the seat and the door. Had I forgotten the phone, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, since I have the ipad to communicate and I was heading back either tomorrow night or Sunday morning. Alas, much ado about nothing.

I was going to pick up breakfast at Chik-Fil-A in Topeka, but it turned out the restaurant was closed due to a water main break at the corner of Wannamaker and 17th in southwest Topeka. Oh well.

We’re now about 48 hours away from the NFL conference championship games, Jaguars at Patriots in the AFC and Vikings at Eagles in the NFC. Every potential Super Bowl matchup offers intrigue. If the Vikings make it, they’re the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, while the Eagles and Jaguars each have yet to win a Super Bowl. Jacksonville has never been to a Super Bowl, while Philadelphia is 0-2, with its last trip coming in 2004, when it lost to the Patriots in Jacksonville.

I, like many NFL fans, have had enough of the Patriots. I have had it UP TO HERE with Tom Brady being the greatest quarterback who ever lived. If all time includes only the 21st century, then okay. But I would like to see how Brady would have survived in the NFL of Johnny Unitas when defenders could play bump and run all the way down the field. Even Joe Montana had to deal with looser rules against pass defenders than Brady did, even though the bump and run was basically legislated out of the NFL in 1978, save for within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

Brady has won five Super Bowl championships. That is empirical and cannot be challenged. But to call him the greatest of all time is purely subjective, and I cannot take that step. And I never will be able to.

I’m only in town to see a few people. Dawn is leaving for Florida next month, so I need to get to see her as much as possible. I also have not seen Lindsay at Minsky’s since before Christmas, so I have to go there too. But I need to make a quick retreat west because I have a lot to do for work until Wednesday at noon. I should have done that last time. Would have saved a lot of pain.

Lots of loss in 2018–with 347 days to go

Tuesday night,  Washington State backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment in Pullman with a gunshot wound in his head. It was discovered Hilinski killed himself with a shotgun.

Hilinski backed up Luke Falk, who became the Pacific-12 Conference’s all-time leading passer in 2017. However, Hilinski had his moment during the season, leading the Cougars to a comeback victory over Boise State in triple overtime in September.

Hilisnki isn’t the most notable person who has passed away within the first 18 days of 2018, but it’s one of the most tragic deaths.

The biggest loss in the sports world was that of Keith Jackson, the legendary college football play-by-play announcer, as well as the first play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football on ABC in 1970.

Jackson passed away at age 89 last Saturday, silencing one of the last surviving voices of football’s early years on television.

Jackson’s death came on the heels of the passing of Dick Enberg, the longtime NBC play-by-play man, in late December.

The last remaining old-time play-by-play man left is Jack Whitaker, who turns 94 later this year. Whitaker was one of the play-by-play men for CBS during Super Bowl I, and he is the ONLY living play-by-play man from any of the first 21 Super Bowls. Al Michaels is the only other Super Bowl play-by-play announcer from any of the first 34 games still living. Michaels will call his tenth for NBC February 4.

Enberg broadcast eight (XV, XVII, XX, XXIII, XXVIII, XXVIII, XXXII) for NBC from 1980-97, taking over as NBC’s Super Bowl voice from the great Curt Gowdy.

Some of the other big names we’ve lost so far in 2018:

  • Brendan Byrne, former two-tern Governor of New Jersey and the original namesake of the arena at the Meadowlands (now the Izod Center).
  • Carmen Cozza, football coach at Yale from 1968-96. He will be best remembered for the last game of his first season, when the Bulldogs squandered a 29-13 lead by allowing Harvard to score 16 points in the game’s final 42 seconds to secure a tie. The headline in the Harvard Crimson the following Monday read “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29”. Cozza’s first Yale team featured Calvin Hill, who went on to a very productive NFL career with the Cowboys and Browns.
  • Jerry Van Dyke, actor best known for his role Luther Van Dam on the ABC series Coach.
  • John Young, astronaut who walked on the moon during Apollo 16 in 1972 and also flew on the first space shuttle mission with Columbia in 1981.
  • Bruce Hood, longtime National Hockey League referee. Hood was in charge of Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals when Bobby Orr scored 40 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Blues and clinched Boston’s first Stanley Cup since 1941. Hood was forced to retire in July 1984 after he was severely criticized for not controlling a game between the Nordiques and Canadiens earlier that year which featured numerous brawls.
  •  John Tunney, former U.S. Representative and Senator from California, son of heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney, who defeated Jack Dempsey in two legendary bouts in the 1920s. Tunney, who held the seat now occupied by Diane Feinstein, died the same day as Jackson.
  • Doug Harvey, Baseball Hall of Fame umpire who officiated in the National League from 1962-92. He was nicknamed “God” by several players. His tight zone was the tightest of all NL umpires during his tenure–he did not give an inch off the black of home plate.
  • John Spellman, Governor of Washington 1981-85, the last Republican to hold the office.
  • Jo Jo White, Basketball Hall of Famer who was an All-American at Kansas and a two-time NBA champion with the Celtics. His number 10 hangs from the rafters at TD Garden with teammates Dave Cowens, John Havlicek and Don Nelson, along with all the other Celtic legends like Bird, Russell, Cousy and many others. Paul Pierce joins that fraternity next month.
  • Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer for the Irish band The Cranberries, who had a smash hit in 1993 with “Linger”.
  • Edgar Ray “Preacher” Kilien, one of the masterminds of the murders of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner in June 1964. I don’t think anyone shed a tear. I certainly didn’t. Too bad he only had to spend 12 1/2 years at Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary. He should have been there 40 years before that. Hopefully he joined Cecil Price, Alton Wayne Roberts and all the other evil doers in a special corner of hell.

Time marches on. I’m sure this list will grow in 2018. Hopefully nobody I care about makes it.

Super sites: superbly competitive

Monday marked the 40th anniversary of Super Bowl XII, the first Super Bowl to be played indoors. The Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27-10 in the Louisiana Superdome (now Mercedes-Benz Superdome). I don’t remember watching simply because I was only 15 months old, while my mother was almost eight months pregnant with my brother, who arrived February 24.

Super Bowl IX, the previous Super Bowl held in New Orleans, was supposed to be played in the Superdome. The NFL awarded New Orleans Super Bowl IX in early 1973 with the intention of playing the game indoors. However, when it became obvious in the middle of 1974 the Superdome would not be completed in time for the game (January 12, 1975), the NFL allowed New Orleans and the Saints to move the game to Tulane Stadium.

The Superdome did not open until August 3, 1975, and the first regular season game there was September 28, a 21-0 Bengals victory over the Saints. It was scheduled to be open in 1972 when the voters of Louisiana approved the bonds to build the stadium in November 1966, but construction did not begin until August 1971. Typical Louisiana.

The above narrative shows just how different selecting Super Bowl sites is today than it was in the 1970s.

The first six Super Bowls were awarded with less than one year of lead time. In fact, the site for Super Bowl I, the Los Angeles Coliseum, was not selected until the last week of November 1966, a mere seven weeks before the game was played. To be fair, the NFL and AFL did not finalize plans for the World Championship Game, as it was called then, until early November.

The next five Super Bowls saw the sites awarded at the league meetings of March. Miami won Super Bowls II, III and V, while New Orleans got IV and VI at Tulane Stadium. New Orleans bid on the first three Super Bowls, and was seriously considered as the site for the first, even though the Saints did not begin play until 1967, the season of Super Bowl II.

Joe Robbie, who bought the Dolphins from Danny Kaye in 1969, lobbied Pete Rozelle hard to permanently place the Super Bowl in Miami. John Mecom, the original owner of the Saints, lobbied very hard against it, as did Dave Dixon, who was the driving force behind the NFL coming to New Orleans, then-Louisiana Governor John McKeithen, then-New Orleans mayor Victor Schiro, and many NFL owners, especially Clint Murchison in Dallas and George Halas in Chicago.

New Orleans’ pleas carried the day in March 1969 and again in March 1971. The first Super Bowl site to be awarded more than a year in advance was Super Bowl VII, which was awarded to Los Angeles at the same time as Super Bowl VI.

Many wanted Super Bowl IX to be yanked out of New Orleans. They believed New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu lied when he said the Superdome would be open in time for the game, and that New Orleans should be punished.

In today’s NFL, that would have happened for sure. The game probably would have gone to Miami, which was already scheduled to host Super Bowl X, or possibly to the Los Angeles area, either at the Coliseum, or the Rose Bowl, which would host Super Bowl XI and four more after that.

However, Rozelle allowed the game to remain in the Big Easy. Even in the mid-1970s, it would have been a logistical nightmare to move the game on such short notice.

Today, cities have at least three years of lead time, often more, to get ready for the game.

For instance, Minneapolis, which is hosting Super Bowl LII February 4, has known about it for almost four years. Knowing the game would be yanked if U.S. Bank Stadium was not open in 2016, the construction crews in the Twin Cities worked double time to make sure it was on schedule.

Under NFL rules currently in place, a stadium cannot host the Super Bowl in its first season of operation. This is why Minnesota had to wait until this year, and Atlanta has to wait until next year, although Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosted the College Football Playoff championship game less than six months after opening.

In May 2016, the NFL awarded the sites for Super Bowls LIII, LIV and LV. Super Bowl LV was originally scheduled for the new stadium in Los Angeles (Ingelwood) in February 2021, but an exceptionally rainy winter in early 2017 pushed back the timetable for construction of the stadium. Therefore, Tampa will host LV and Los Angeles will host LVI.

Sadly, New Orleans cannot host another Super Bowl until LVII in February 2023. And even that one is a very long shot, as Las Vegas’ Stadium will be open by then, and it will be the first opportunity to hold it there.

From 1969, the season of Super Bowl IV, through 1989, the season of Super Bowl XXIV, New Orleans never went more than five seasons without hosting. The drought will be nine seasons through 2021, and likely grow to ten.

There are some who want a four-year rotation for the Super Bowl between Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles and a wild card. That will never happen. The owners in Dallas, Houston and Arizona would certainly raise holy hell, as would those in Tampa, Atlanta, Minnesota, Detroit and Indianapolis.

The owners in Tennessee and Carolina probably feel the worst. They believe their climates are far enough south to provide good weather in early February, but there is just too much risk. Look how badly Atlanta was paralyzed during an ice storm the week before Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000. It could very well happen again next year. The NFL is really rolling the dice.

One city which won’t host again is Jacksonville. There simply were not enough hotels in 2005, and many guests either had to stay in far-away locales (Daytona Beach, Gainesville, Ocala) or on cruise ships. The Jaguars have not bid since and probably won’t, unless Shahid Kahn changes his mind.

London? There would have to be another extra week between the conference championships and Super Bowl. And how would fans in the United States get to London? I can’t see that.

I”m of the mind the Super Bowl should be offered to all NFL cities, even those in colder climates with outdoor stadiums. Why not Chicago? New England, though, would never be on my list, because Foxborough is in the middle of nowhere and the traffic getting there from Boston and Providence would be so bad I can’t imagine it. Green Bay? Not enough hotels.

Kansas City? Stadium is kind of outdoor. Great for tailgating, not for events in the days prior to the game. And there isn’t a second facility comparable to what the Chiefs have. The only options I could see is letting one team use Kauffman Stadium and the Royals’ facilities or Sporting Kansas City’s stadium in Kansas. At least New Orleans has Tulane. Baton Rouge wouldn’t be bad, since it would be away from the temptations of the French Quarter, and LSU’s facilities are far superior to Tulane’s.

I’m resigned to the fact I won’t see a Super Bowl in Kansas City, Chicago, Green Bay or many other places in my lifetime, unless something changes drastically. It’s only sports.

Musings from your favorite hypocrite

I said I would post every day in 2018, and here I go three days without anything. What a hypocrite I am.

I am still in shock about the Saints. How can that happen? All Marcus Williams had to do was let Stefon Diggs catch the pass, wrap him up, then wait for help. As  long as Diggs did not get out of bounds, the clock would have expired before the Vikings could have snapped the ball for a field goal. This is not college or high school, where the clock stops to move the chains.

Bill Franques told me this was the most unbelievable loss he’s seen in all of his years of following the Saints, which is all but the team’s first two seasons. I thought about it, and he may be right.

Face it–in the first 16 seasons of the Saints’ existence (1967-1982), there really weren’t that many games which were important enough to be that heartbreaking. Losing to the Buccaneers after they lost 26 straight in 1977 was utterly embarrassing, but in the grand scheme of the NFL, who cares? Tampa Bay was going to win sooner or later, and one team would have to be the first victim. It just happened the Bucs took so long to win a game.

The only games from 1967-1982 which I could see qualifying as heartbreaking were three to Atlanta in 1978 and ’79, and losing to Oakland on Monday Night Football in 1979 after holding a 35-14 lead in the third quarter.

The 1983 season had two such games, both of which kept the Saints out of the playoffs at a time they had yet to even have a winning season. The first was against the Jets the Monday before Thanksgiving, when New Orleans squandered a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost on a 76-yard punt return by Kirk Springs with four minutes to go. The second was the season finale vs. the Rams, where Los Angeles did not score an offensive touchdown, but used two pick-sixes and a punt return TD to win 26-24, with Mike Lansford nailing the game-winning field goal in the final seconds.

Losing at Chicago in the 2006 NFC championship? The Saints weren’t expected to be there after going 3-13 during the Katrina season. It was a fine accomplishment.

I’ll put the loss at U.S. Bank Stadium up there with the egg the Saints laid in their first playoff game–also vs. the Vikings–in 1987, and the loss at Seattle to the 7-9 Seahawks in 2010 following the Super Bowl XLIV victory.

I finished watching Last Chance U over the weekend. I am re-watching episodes now, and it continues to reinforce my view that (a) East Mississippi’s coach, Buddy Stephens, is a complete douchebag, and (b) most of the players couldn’t give a crap about going to class.

In the episode I just watched again, Stephens physically assaults the alternate official along the EMCC sideline. The official punches back, which is a no-no, but Stephens instigated it.

No coach, no matter how angry he or she is with the officiating, has the right to physically assault the men and women making the calls. Why the hell do you think it is so hard to find officials these days?

Also in the episode, EMCC’s radio announcers were blasting the officials for throwing two EMCC players out of the game vs. Itawamba for throwing punches. It’s OKAY to throw a punch? This isn’t boxing.

The three FBS coaches in Mississippi–Matt Luke (Ole Miss), Joe Moorehead (Mississippi State) and Todd Monken (Southern Miss)–need to ban EMCC players on their rosters until Stephens cleans up his act and the kids show effort in going to class and making their grades. A message needs to be sent that winning at all costs is not acceptable. If other schools from outside Mississippi want to take these players in, fine. But the coaches in Mississippi need to show some backbone.

It’s getting late, and I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Time to sign off.

Why do people like the heat?

The high today in Baton Rouge was 40 degrees according to the stupid scale Americans use for temperature (4 Celsius according to every other nation on earth). That was much warmer than it was in Hays, where it was -8 Celsius (17 above on the stupid scale).

COME ON, AMERICA. THE TIME TO CONVERT TO THE METRIC SYSTEM PASSED BEFORE I WAS BORN. GET WITH THE WORLD. AND YOU WONDER WHY MANY THINK AMERICA IS BACKWARDS. 

FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, I WILL REFER TO FAHRENHEIT AS THE STUPID SCALE.

Few in Hays battled an eyelash at it being that cold. It’s winter. It’s Kansas.

I found it to be quite nice this morning. There wasn’t much wind, and it was not too bad for me only in a sweatshirt and turtleneck underneath in the minus teens Celsius. As long as I had my head covered, I was just fine. The wind makes it brutal when it blows, but it wasn’t blowing much today.

Had the high in Baton Rouge been the high in Hays today, many in these parts would have put on shorts. Most would have gone out in short sleeves without a jacket.

Yet in Baton Rouge, they were bundled up more than they were here.

On January 12, 2017, the high in Baton Rouge was a ridiculous 27 Celsius (82 on the stupid scale).

One of my high school classmates, Steve Caparotta, is a meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge. On his Facebook page, he asked whether those in “Red Stick” preferred hot or cold.

Most said they liked it hot.

What is wrong with those people? Do they not realize it is WINTER, even if it is at a subtropical latitude?

To me, any winter temperature above 7 Celsius (45 on the stupid scale) is too hot. And don’t get me started on it being that ridiculously hot in January.

Those who like it so hot in January need to move to Rio de Janeiro or other equatorial climates. That way they can have it hot and humid for 12 months a year.

I don’t know how ANYONE likes living in hot and humid weather 12 months a year. I wouldn’t last 12 minutes in Brazil. Or any other climate between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

I hate hot weather. I really hate it. I despise going outside in the summer when it’s so hot you can fry eggs on the sidewalk. In western Kansas, it’s really bad when the wind starts blowing. You might as well stick your head inside an oven.

Do these people who love the heat not realize you can layer up in the cold, but in the heat, you can’t strip down to your birthday suit? I lived in the damn heat and humidity of Louisiana for 29 years. It’s one of the many, many, many things about the Bayou State I do not miss one bit, and the main reason I would never, EVER consider moving back.

To me, Kansas is way too hot as it is. The only reason I would not live in Alaska is because it’s isolated, but if I had my druthers, here are the states I would most like to live in:

  1. Maine
  2. North Dakota
  3. Wyoming
  4. South Dakota
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Vermont (I don’t care if Bernie Sanders is a Senator)

My least favorite:

  1. Florida (if you couldn’t have guessed that, you don’t know me)
  2. Arizona (I love you, Raymie, but it would take a heck of a lot for me to live there)
  3. Louisiana (how did I live there for so long? And I will never forgive my dad for marrying a New Orleans native)
  4. Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina all tied
  5. Arkansas EXCEPT the northwest corner
  6. Texas EXCEPT the panhandle

I feel very, very, VERY sorry for those who are going to be living long after I pass away. They’re going to have to deal with the severe consequences of global warming. It’s bad enough now. I can’t imagine what it will be like at the beginning of the 22nd century.

I cower in fear for the summers in Kansas. I’m seriously considering adopting a new sleep/wake pattern for days when I don’t have anything going, and that’s to sleep during the day and not do anything until after sunset. That would have to be altered on days I have appointments and want to do things out of town, but maybe it’s worth looking into.

At least I have two, maybe three, months of good weather still ahead. Then there’s tornado season, then the summer. Kansas sucks.

Throwback Thursday: Scooba

In my post (late) last night, I mentioned watching Last Chance U, the Netflix series about the football team at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.

The town is on Mississippi’s eastern border. Kemper County, where Scooba is located, has a little under 10,000 residents, and more than 60 percent are African-American. There are only two incorporated villages in Kemper County: Scooba and De Kalb, the county seat.

Kemper County was the birthplace and childhood home of John Stennis, a legendary politician who represented Mississippi in the United States Senate for 42 years (1947-1988). NASA’s test facility not too far from Bay St. Louis on the Gulf Coast is named in Stennis’ honor. My seventh grade science class at Arabi Park Middle ventured there in February 1989.

Scooba is only 40 miles east of the site of one of America’s darkest days of hatred.

Philadelphia, the seat of Neshoba County, was where civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner were arrested the afternoon on June 21, 1964 on trumped-up charges of speeding and disturbing the peace. After five hours in the county jail, the three young men were released and began to driving down Mississippi Highway 19 to Meridian.

Sadly, while Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were in jail, a dastardly plot was hatched by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and numerous members of the Ku Klux Klan. The plan was to follow the civil rights workers down Highway 19 and eventually stop them, then murder them and bury them in an earthen dam.

Eventually Price and his minions, led by trigger man Alton Wayne Roberts, carried out the executions. It wasn’t until August that the bodies of the three murdered men were found.

Price and Roberts were convicted of violating the civil rights of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner by an all-white Mississippi jury in October 1967. Unfortunately, nobody was prosecuted by the state or the feds for murder.

Scooba (permanent population 700, give or take; many more people are there during the school year) is one of the many places I ventured during my 14 months as the publicity person for Delgado Community College’s athletic teams.

Delgado is the largest community college in Louisiana, a state which has a woefully low number of two-year colleges, but an oversaturation of four-year colleges. For instance, there are so many four-year colleges within 100 miles of downtown New Orleans that I’m not going to sit here right now and try to figure it out. If it were only LSU, Tulane and the University of New Orleans, it would be plenty. But add in Nicholls (Thibodaux), Southeastern Louisiana (Hammond), Southern (Baton Rouge), plus numerous other smaller colleges, and it gets to be too much.

I think there are too many four-year schools in Kansas, but Kansas Wesleyan, Bethany, Bethel and the others in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference are private. SOuthern, Nicholls, Southeastern and UNO are all funded by the the state of Louisiana, as are several others. LSU complains about not getting enough funding, but if Louisiana had the guts to close some of the smaller universities or convert them to community colleges, it might help the flagship.

Delgado has only three athletic teams: men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. The baseball program has been one of the best junior college programs in the United States since its founding in the mid-1970s under the leadership of Joe Scheuermann, who has been the Dolphins’ coach since 1991, and his father, Louis (Rags), who began the team in 1973 after Loyola University, another private four-year school located literally next door to Tulane, dropped its athletic program. Loyola restarted its program in 1989-90, but it was at a much lower level.

With an utter lack of two-year colleges in Louisiana–the only others with athletic teams are Bossier Parish near Shreveport, LSU-Eunice north and west of Lafayyette, and Baton Rouge Community College–Delgado must go into other states to find games.

Fortunately for the Dolphins, Mississippi has numerous two-year colleges, so they don’t have to travel long distances.

Delgado traditionally plays three Mississippi JUCOs every year: Gulf Coast, about 40 miles north of Gulfport; Pearl River, about halfway between New Orleans and Hattiesburg on Interstate 59; and Meridian, which does not play football nor does it compete in the same conference with the other Mississippi JUCOs due to its strong baseball team, one which has sent hundreds of players to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

Scheuermann will rotate the other Mississippi JUCOs onto his schedule, and in my second baseball season there, one of those was East Mississippi.

The team had to stay in Meridian, 40 miles south of Scooba. Fortunately, US Highway 45 is four-laned throughout most of the state, and it provided easy access from Meridian. The original schedule was to play a single game on a Friday night and a single game the next afternoon.

I drove separately from the team. I like my freedom. I rented an SUV at the Baton Rouge airport and drove straight to Meridian. I didn’t rent from New Orleans because it is much easier to do so in Baton Rouge, where I parked my car, walked from the garage to the rental counter, then out to the rental car on the ground level of the garage. In New Orleans, you have to take a shuttle from the terminal to the rental car area, which is at the far western edge of the airport property. Pain in the butt.

It’s an easy drive from Baton :Rouge to Meridian: US 61 to Natchez, US 84 to Interstate 55 at Brookhaven, I-55 to I-20 at Jackson, then to Meridian. All four-lane highway. Much easier than driving from Russell to Norton (sorry, Peggy), especially if deer are congregating on the side of US 283.

The team drove north on US 45 to Scooba and arrived just before 4:30, with first pitch scheduled for 6:00. However, there were fierce thunderstorms gathering in east central Mississippi, and the coaches agreed to postpone the Friday night game and play two seven-inning games the next day. There was no option to play Sunday, since Delgado was going to be traveling to Wesson to play at Copiah-Lincoln Community College Sunday.

With thunderstorms on the horizon, I figured I’d better haul butt back to Meridian. I was doing much faster than the 65 MPH speed limit (I estimate a couple of times I was close to 90) as I tried to beat the thunderstorm back to Meridian.

While I was driving like a bat out of hell, I was also on my phone, talking to Jimmy Ott to discuss the LSU-Arkansas baseball series that weekend on his radio show. I don’t recommend that.

It absolutely poured once we got back to Meridian. But I was safe.

The next day, I drove from Meridian to Philadelphia on Highway 19. Made me think long and hard about just how backwards and cruel Mississippi was until the 1970s. There is a large Indian casino near Philadelphia, and the city has certainly modernized greatly since 1964, but it will always carry the shame of what happened to Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner that Father’s Day.

I remember getting ridiculously sunburned in Scooba. I had to sit outside because there was no press box, and silly me exposed my nearly bald head to the sun on a cloudless day.

Less than two months after my trip to Scooba and side excursion to Philadelphia, Edgar Ray “Preacher” Kilian, one of the members of the lynch mob that killed Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, was convicted of murder. Kilian was acquitted during the 1967 federal trial because some jurors stated they could not convict a preacher, even though Kilian’s claim to be a preacher was dubious at best.

Coincidentally, the same day of the evil act in Neshoba County, Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies against the Mets in Shea Stadium. The next year, when Sandy Koufax threw a perfecto vs. the Cubs in Los Angeles, New Orleans was battered by Hurricane Betsy at the same time. And Woodstock was being held at the same time Hurricane Camille lay waste to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The third season of Last Chance U came to Kansas. The 2017 Independence Community College football team was highlighted, and episodes should be available for streaming in the spring. If the Netflix producers thought driving from Scooba to Wesson was a grind, I hope they were ready for Independence to Garden City. Russell to Norton is tough enough, though I will never complain, because two of my favorite people on earth call Norton home.

I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m supposed to have my first session with Crista in almost a month tomorrow at 8. Supposed to. I’ll leave it at that.

More than 57 channels and nothing on

Confession: I cannot stand Bruce Springsteen. I cannot stand his far left-wing views. I’m not big fan of Trump, but Bruce’s hatred knows no bounds. I have ZERO Springsteen songs on my iPod, and I have played exactly ZERO Springsteen songs in my more than 10,000 plays of TouchTunes jukeboxes at Buffalo Wild Wings over the past four and a half years. Liz, Lisa, Tori and others at B-Dubs have never asked me to play Springsteen, and I’m not going to bring it up.

However, the title of this post is a take on a Springsteen song title because it’s appropriate here.

Weekday television in January is torture.

I cannot stand regular season college basketball. It’s mostly pointless. I want LSU to do well, of course, and I also follow Kentucky very closely. I love rubbing the SEC in the faces of the Kansas, K_State and Wichita State fatalists here.

I quit watching the NBA almost 30 years ago, and I will never start watching again. I follow the Milwaukee Bucks, but I do not watch games, period. The only reason I know how the Bucks are doing is because I get text alerts on their games.

The NHL isn’t on enough to watch, and besides, NBC only wants to show American teams. I really cannot stand many American teams, especially those in the south: Arizona, Carolina, Nashville, Florida, Tampa Bay and Dallas are all high on my shit list. The Stars are there mostly because of the way they fucked the fans in Minnesota by moving in 1993. The only other option is to buy the NHL’s streaming package, but that’s a little expensive. I’m not that invested in the game that I want to drop that kind of money. If the Quebec Nordiques ever return, that may change.

Thank God for streaming.

I have been known to binge watch a few shows on Hulu, Netflix and iTunes. Two of my guiltiest pleasures are a pair of Disney shows starring Peyton List, Jessie and Bunk’d. However, I’m more into stars other than List on those shows: Debby Ryan, the titular Jessie Prescott on Jessie; and Miranda May, who plays goofy farm girl Lou Hockhauser on Bunk’d.

I saw in the Jessie wikia where the character’s birthday was October 13, 1993. That happens to be the same day Tiffany Trump was born. It also was my 17th birthday.

I feel bad for Tiffany. Hopefully Debby is not cursed by this, even if it was just a character she played (FYI, Debby’s real life birthday is May 13, 1993).

Also, List co-starred in a TV movie, A Sister’s Nightmare, with Natasha Henstridge and Kelly Rutherford, in 2013. It’s worth checking out.

Tonight, I began to watch Last Chance U on Netflix. It chronicles the football program at East Mississippi Community College, where many players who could not make it a Division I university transfer to the school in tiny Scooba (think Russell if it had a JUCO) in hopes of getting back to the big time.

I should have been watching from the start, because my past took me to Scooba and many other points on the map in Mississippi.

I would go into it now, but it’s almost midnight. There’s only so many Jessie episodes I can watch in one day. Until then…

UCF update: an electronic billboard greeted motorists in Tuscaloosa today, begging national champion Alabama to schedule a home and home series against the Knights. If UCF is looking for sympathy for going 13-0 and not being selected for the CFP, this is not the way to go about it. ENOUGH ALREADY.