Monday, September 1, 2014

Kyle Turley: Not Taking Post-Football Career Lying Down

Sometimes, you just never know.  When you write something, be it a 140-character tweet; a blog post, or an article in The Shreveport Times... you never know who actually reads it and responds.  This morning, the day after I recounted an uncomfortable locker-room, post-game session with the Saints in 2002, this comment was tweeted at me:



When most fans hear Kyle Turley, they think:  Jets game, November 2001.  Turley ripped the helmet off the Jets Damien Robinson after Robinson had committed a gruesome grab of Aaron Brooks facemask. Turley then threw Robinson's helmet across the field in a very Game Of Thrones, "300" manner. I remember watching the game at home and thinking two things: "This is further proof that offensive linemen take protecting the quarterback very 
seriously," and, "Kyle Turley is someone I don't want as an enemy."

courtesy: nola.com

Turley had to retire from the game in 2007 due to numerous injuries and has since been one of the leading proponents for players suffering from concussions and other effects of a career in the NFL.  Malcolm Gladwell's ground-breaking article for New Yorker magazine in 2009 (!) featured Turley front and center as a man who gave more than his all to the game of football.
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Turley is one of five former players/coaches on the Gridiron Greats Board Of Directors (Mike Ditka, Marv Levy, Matt Birk and Gale Sayers fill out the remaining spots).  The former Saints, Rams and Chiefs offensive lineman (Turley was an all-pro for the Saints in 2000) has been a generous benefactor to the organization which serves to "assist dire need retired NFL players who were pioneers of the game... help retired players and their families deal with hardships they face after football." Turley once dedicated an entire game check to Gridiron Greats and currently has an album out (he moved to Nashville to start a music career/music label) that donates 100% of the proceeds from downloads of the album on iTunes goes to Gridiron Greats.

Kyle Turley provided a memory for me of an unusual locker room scene.  He had one of the most memorable reactions to a penalty in football history.  He has suffered physically, mentally and emotionally for the game of football.  Yet he has the strength and "pay-it-forward" mentality to make life better for men who lived life on the gridiron for our entertainment.

No apology necessary Kyle. Keep on rockin'...



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Madden NFL 15...


What is spinning through the TWITTERVERSE about MADDEN NFL 15? Syd the Kid gives us the goods- http://thetwitterverse.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Benton Tigers Defense A Strength Heading Into 2014 Campaign

Benton Tigers head coach, Reynolds Moore joined us on the program Tuesday morning.  The second-year coach no longer has Jordan Shaffer running the show offensively (Shaffer received a scholarship to play baseball at Northwestern State University) but they haven't put away the pigskin in mothballs to start a deco-page team.

The Tigers spring practices, summer workouts and preseason sessions have been a House of Mirrors of sorts, since the only team they have seen... has been themselves.  During the spring, the team didn't get the benefit of a scrimmage against an opponent because so many players were still busy with the baseball team, so Moore and his staff ran the crew through an intrasquad scrimmage.  That all changes Friday when the Tigers head to Northwood's Jerry Burton Memorial Stadium for scrimmages with Wossman out of Monroe and Green Oaks.


Based on who is returning, the Tigers defense may be asked to carry the water early in the season. Returning seven starters with five earning 1st team status since their sophomore seasons, the Tigers are hoping the magic number to post on the scoreboard to earn a win will allow their offense some early season room to grow.

Heading into the summer, the Benton offensive line was a certain strength with four of five starters returning.  A knee injury has sapped the Tigers their starting center and because the D-Line was a little thin, Moore moved his starting right offensive tackle to the other side of the line of scrimmage.  From four returning starters to two on the offensive line---it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize what was once a pillar of muscle has now atrophied a bit.

Senior quarterback, Christian Smith will be the guy.  Last spring, an injured ankle kept him from workouts but Smith eventually got into the flow, starting on defense in the secondary before logging two-way duty as a wide receiver down the stretch.  Smith, who has never thrown a pass in a game, drew praise from Moore for his headiness and intelligence.

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Moore will count on a handful of 9th graders to round out the Friday night roster---not out of necessity as he had to during his days at Bolton High School---but solely because he has some freshman that can play. One of those peach-fuzzed fella's could have a large role in the program's growth in the coming years.

Garrett Hable, a freshman, will serve as Smith's backup.  Moore said during 7-on-7 Camp at Ole Miss, "There was a seamless transition," when Hable took over for Smith.  Having a young back-up, getting significant snaps bodes well for the Tigers offensive future.  In a perfect world, Smith proves to be more than capable running the spread before handing the keys to Hable for the next three years.  A three-sport athlete in middle school, Hable will play baseball and football in high school.  Perhaps Benton has a Hayden Hildebrand, Connor Curry, Shea Patterson-esque situation developing---which is a dream scenario for any high school football program.

Courtesy: Bossier Press-Tribune
The Tigers will participate in the Bossier Parish Lion's Club Jamboree on August 29th at Airline High
School.  Moore's men don't leave Bossier Parish in the month of September, opening the year with Sterlington at home followed by a visit from Rodney Guin's gang of Haughton Buccaneers.  The Tigers hit the road in week three to face Coy Brotherton's Plain Dealing Lions before beginning District 1-4A play against Scott Abernathy's North DeSoto Fighting Griffins on September 26th at home.

October's schedule features more fun on Thursday's than NBC's must-see TV hey-day.  The Tigers face Jerwin Wilson's Woodlawn Knights at Independence Stadium on Thursday, October 2nd. The following Thursday, Mike Greene's Fair Park Indians travel to Tiger-town. Benton heads to Loyola's Messmer Stadium to meet Alan Carter's Flyers on Friday the 17th.  Spencer Heard and Minden are the Homecoming guests of Benton on the 24th before the Tigers close out the month on Halloween Eve with a home game against Northwood and Jim Gatlin's group that should be a shoot-out.

Benton ends the regular season with their second game in Indy Stadium to battle Huntington and first-year head coach Marvin Harris.

Last year, in Moore's first season at the wheel, Benton finished 5-6, losing to district rival, Northwood in the opening round of the Class 4A Non-Select Playoffs.

Reynolds Moore Interview

What do YOU think?

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We've narrowed it down to a few variations of this look and colors of Ts, but want to know what YOU think. Bubba Winningham at CHEVYLAND is raring to go to print TSHIRTS kicking off Fletch and Rebouche's big FRIDAY FOOTBALL FRENZY show, this year on a new station!!

K94.5 FM! EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT you can listen while you are in the stands on the Radio Pup App, you can listen while you're stuck in traffic leaving the game on the radio, K94.5 FM! 






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jennings and Harris: It's Not A Quarterback Controversy At LSU

Controversy: noun 1. a discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views.

Based on what Merriam-Webster has to say, LSU does not have a quarterback "controversy" brewing between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris (Parkway High School '14). 

It's either going to be Jennings or Harris trotting onto the field with the first team offense against Wisconsin on August 30th in the season opener.  Until there is a body of work from the rookie (Harris) to compare to the "veteran (Jennings)", how can anyone speak intelligently with an opposing view of the decision Les Miles and Cam Cameron will make? 

Sides can be taken prior to the game experience playing out before us but isn't that a borderline "popularity contest?"  If LSU's season ended after the Arkansas game with Jennings engineering the game-winning touchdown, there would be little public debate on who should be the starter against the Badgers. 


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"Let the freshman earn his way into the lineup," or, "the kid from Parkway needs to learn the ropes before he takes the field," would be the general feelings of Tiger faithful. 

But that's "not" when the season ended. Jennings struggled against Iowa in the Capital One Bowl after having 15 practices with full knowledge of being "the man" against the Hawkeyes.   Coupled with Harris' solid and sometimes spectacular play in the Spring Game, we are left with this: Two quality young men battling it out for the starting gig.


Brandon Harris on Media Day
Each has the leadership skills coaches covet and teammates gravitate toward. 


Harris said, "Becoming a leader down here, when you're a young guy in a program like where we have some seniors that may be 22 years old and you're an 18, 19 year old kid, it's a difference, man. It's a really big difference. Our guys want to see a leader, see a guy that will get in the huddle and say, 'Look, we've got to do this, we've got to do that.' That's what older guys adapt to."

Jennings believes leadership starts by example. If #10 is the starter or second-string, he says, "I come in with the mindset that I'm the starter. That's how Coach Cam (LSU offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron) preached to us. That's what I did last year.  I thought I was the starter each game."

Both have the talent worthy of drawing interest from major colleges (Jennings turned down Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, Ole Miss, etc. while Harris spurned Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Arkansas and Texas A&M among others) before choosing LSU.

Harris, who has a howitzer for an arm, can wow with his velocity. He remembered early in the spring when some of the older players watched a session. "They saw us throw and said, 'This kid can throw.'" However, the former all-state performer for David Feaster at Parkway knows it takes more than frozen ropes to hang up a row of "W's". 


Anthony Jennings on Media Day
"At this level it's much more than having the ability to throw. When you're a young guy, you're kind of that new, shiny toy because you can do this and that but at the same time, you've got to have the mental side of the game and that's what I've started to develop," Harris said.

The thicker Jennings could be more punishing as a runner than Harris and sounds like he's ready if things get physical. "Taking hits is just mental. WE have all these pads on, rib protectors. Getting hit is really just a part of the game of football."

Both players can move in the pocket, which benefits them greatly on Saturdays. Harris also believes there are other rewards to being mobile. "This gives our defense another aspect to work on. If they face a team, just off the top of my head, like Auburn with Nick Marshall... he's an athletic type guy who runs the ball and runs around doing different things. That's beneficial for our defense. It's not like 'Chief (defensive coordinator John Chavis)' needs any help because he's intelligent as it is, but if it helps our defense, I'm all for it."

Both guys covet the starting job but neither is going to be lost in the wilderness without the 1st team badge. "I don't really care. It's not that big of a thing to me. Any of our guys are ready to play, I don't care if it's me, Anthony, Brad (Kragthorpe), Jake (Clise) or Jared (Foster). We're ready to play," Harris said.


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Jennings is fully aware of the attention Harris is receiving despite never having taken a snap in a college football game. He also has seen what the younger man can do with the ball in his hands, completely understanding why this duel is taking place. "I love it.  I came to LSU knowing there would be great competition.  Great players come here every year. I'm just trying to get better than I was yesterday. Not trying to compete with anybody, just compete with yourself. That way, you get better than you were yesterday and things will start rolling in the right direction."

Miles has a formula concocted that will determine the top gun. Imagine if "The Hat" chose to use the written word, an essay contest, to choose his starter.  Jennings was asked what his opening line would be if that were the case.

"I'm the toughest guy in America. Simple."

Mentally? Physically? Both?

"Everything."

Good. Because that's what solid play from the position will mean for the success of the Tigers offensively this season. 




Monday, August 11, 2014

Join 'Em "And" Beat 'Em: Evangel And John Curtis Move All The Way Up To Division I

Division I on the "Select" side of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) post-season football ledger will now include more powerhouses than Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Evangel Christian Academy and John Curtis each announced Monday their intention to "play up" in the Division I playoff bracket, which includes teams that play in 5A, 4A and now, 3A classifications during the regular season.   Both the Eagles and Patriots are 3A schools, which actually is above where their enrollment would place them if they had to adhere to such boundaries. 

The Division I post-season will now include the New Orleans Catholic League (Rummel, Jesuit, Brother Martin, Archbishop Shaw, Holy Cross and Brother Martin) along with Lafayette's Catholic schools (Tuerlings and St. Thomas More), Baton Rouge's largest private schools (St. Paul's and Catholic), John Curtis and Evangel. 

Casual fans, as well as those in business attire, will benefit from the powerhouses slugging it out en route to the Dome.  The quarterfinal matchups will be state-title worthy tilts.  



Evangel principal, Bud Dean told us this afternoon, via e-mail: 

"We want our students to have an opportunity to excel against the finest competition, not only on the courts or fields of play, but in the arts, academics, and other parts of their lives. We feel as if competing against the best can only bring out the best in our students.   It’s funny that locals know us for our sports championships, but do not know that our drama department has won the Louisiana Drama Festival in Natchitoches the past four years and that our Literary Rally team has produced not only division state champions, but composite, over-all state champions for the past eight years. We had our third National Merit Finalist this past year.   As you can see, it is part of our mission of excellence."

"JT (John Curtis, the head coach and athletic director at John Curtis) and I did talk last week as we were wanting to continue that rivalry in the playoffs.   He was leaning to playing up, but I did not hear if he did or not." 

He did and he sounds fired up about the fallout from the decision. Curtis told the Times-Picayune he hoped by playing in the top "select" classification, it would "help solve some of our problems in our state," in terms of private vs. public schools on the playing field.  

This isn't a perfect solution but it's about the best case I can think of.  Private schools, with an ability to draw students from outside their district, have long been considered an adversary of the "neighborhood schools".  

There has been an advantage enjoyed by some private schools to load up on athletic talent that would otherwise be found in public schools.  The last thing the public schools want is to line up against kids that should be in their classrooms and their weight rooms.  While that will still occur in the regular season (which remains an oddity), the post-season will now be a true survival of the fittest in both "Select" and "Non-Select". 



In addition to the public schools enjoying this maneuver, I have to believe there are private schools outside the Division I arena that welcome the exit of John Curtis and Evangel from their playoff bracket.  

There will now just be 11 Division II teams eligible for post-season play according to the Times-Picayune, including the hometown Loyola Flyers. A trip to the Dome is a much more navigable path without the stars and stripes of John Curtis or the "little e's" of Evangel on the opposing sideline.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Pat Collins Got Me In Trouble With My Parents

Pat Collins at Calvary Today
Pat Collins, a 1959 graduate of Fair Park High School in Shreveport (Mo Claiborne, Stromile Swift, Reggie Robinson, Hollis Conway, Rogers Hampton, Sr., Timmy B.) is returning to his hometown to serve as the Director of Athletic Enhancement (aka, fundraiser) for Calvary Baptist Academy. 

Collins will also serve as a mentor/counselor in football, assisting in various, undefined roles with head coach John Bachman and his staff.  For Collins, it's a "life comes full-circle" move as he joins defensive coordinator Ronnie Alexander on the field again.  Collins coached Alexander at Louisiana Tech and hired him to be his defensive coordinator at Northeast Louisiana University (Now ULM).

I told Coach Collins that he was responsible for a terse phone call from my parents during the 1984 football season.

On October 26, 1984, the Panhellenic Council (all sororities) held their Fall Formal.  That day, with a freshly painted three point circle in the Pi Kappa Alpha driveway, we staged the first Pike 3-on-3 tournament.  We charged a nominal entry fee, something along the lines of $15 bucks per player, to enter the tourney.  During the "championship" game, I rolled my ankle severely early in the battle.  Without having a substitute, our team, playing a mulleted-man down, quickly fell behind.  As a poor college student with a date that night, the money in the pot was a greater motivating factor than the pain served as a deterrent.

Like Willis Reed, I hobbled back onto the court.  Playing like a man possessed (I chugged a couple of beers), I helped our team battle back to win the game! Glory Days!

We won the pot! Seriously, the prize of $60 bucks or so per person was pretty sweet.  I slowly showered due to the intense pain in my right ankle.  By the time I got out of the shower in our luxurious Bryan Manor apartment (only unit in the entire complex that was completely linoleum-floored.  We had two lawn chairs, a beanbag and a couch rescued from the dumpster as our only furniture), my ankle was the size of a delicious cantaloupe.

I managed to drive the 1979 Plymouth Horizon to my girlfriend's (Cricket, who became Mrs. Fletcher in 1988 and mother to Sydney in 1991. No longer Mrs. Fletcher, but still mother to Sydney) dorm. Barely able to walk, much less dance, we made our way to the Monroe Civic Center for the Formal.  How much pain was I in? The "official" pic from the dance has me holding a Tylenol bottle in one hand while standing on one leg.

"Was Pat Collins the party pic man?"
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No, of course not. That was Greg Burke.

"When will you get to the part about Pat Collins?"

Now.

The next night was the NLU-Louisiana Tech game.  Collins was in the middle of his tenure as head coach  of the Indians at the time (1981-88).

Using crutches, I joined my fraternity brothers and our dates on the walk to Malone Stadium on an unseasonably warm afternoon.  Sweating like a Kardashian in church, I eventually settled onto my seat.  Slipping a little Jim Beam from Cricket's Final Net bottle into my Coke, I was ready for the game.  The Indians struck first on a Rodney Horn pass to Chris Lott.  Oddly, Teddy Garcia (later a 4th round pick of the Patriots) missed the PAT.  I say "oddly" because Garcia had a bolt of lightning for a leg. He connected on a 50 yard Field Goal before the half to send NLU to the locker room up 9-7 over the Bulldogs.

In the 3rd quarter, Tech took a 10-9 lead on a George Keyola field goal.  With a Final Net bottle of whiskey in my belly, the old ankle injury was forgotten, especially as NLU took possession late in the 4th quarter, needing to advance to Tech's 35 or 40 yard line to give Garcia a chance to win the game.  The Pat Collins coached Indians marched down to the Bulldogs 28 yard line before the drive stalled with a minute to play.  Garcia calmly and coolly split the uprights from 45 yards out to deliver the game-winning points.


Box Score: NLU vs. Louisiana Tech 1984

After stopping Tech's plan of a miracle comeback, all hell broke loose in the stands.  We decided to rush the field.  What's a guy on crutches with a busted ankle to do?

Join them.  I cast the crutches aside like Anthony Michael Hall shooing his fellow geeks away after they crashed the beer pyramid in "Sixteen Candles."  I jumped (using my good leg) onto the Indians' Gatorade table behind their bench.  There was little thought put into this plan, as I rolled my bad ankle the opposite way from the day before when I landed on the wet table. There's no "I" in quit, so I marched on after crumbling to the ground.  Finding Pat Collins near midfield conducting a television interview with either/both KNOE or KTVE, I jumped up and down behind our coach, rubbing his hair like a good luck charm.

At some point over the next 10 minutes, the pain in my ankle fought through the whiskey and adrenaline to deliver a sucker punch.  Fortunately, fraternity brother Steve Cox could carry a Coke machine on his back, so carrying me piggyback to my apartment a half-mile away was no biggie.

The next morning, with my ankle hidden somewhere underneath the packing material of my swollen skin, I received a call from my parents.  Apparently they were watching one of the Monroe stations' newscast the night before and saw their "injured" son hopping around like a floppy haired pogo stick.

Encompass Sports... THIS is what we mean when we say:
 "Thanks for calling on the 'Encompass Sports Line!'"
"That ankle injury of yours sure didn't seem to bother you last night."


"It's probably not that bad. It wasn't really hurting last night (a non-lie in the fact I was inebriated and felt no pain) when I was on the field."

"Uh-huh.  Were you drinking?"

"Mom! No!"

"I don't believe you."

"Mom... come on!"

"You looked like you were having a high-old time!  Didn't look hurt to me!"

A trip to the emergency room that afternoon revealed torn ligaments on both sides of my ankle and across the top of my foot. To this day, my right ankle stiffens like a Porters-Cleaners starched shirt.  It hurts like hell after moderate physical activity.

I wouldn't trade the pain for the revelry of that night for anything.

Thanks Coach Collins... and welcome home.