2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Bowlen’s secret to success: He stayed out of the way

    Wed, July 23, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    John Elway

    John Elway – the secret to Bowlen’s success

    Pat Bowlen is being celebrated today as he departs his day-to-day duties as Broncos owner.

    He’s being celebrated most of all for what he did not do.

    He did not meddle.

    He did not try to act as if he knew everything about football or about running an NFL franchise.

    He did not interfere with the experts he hired to run his football team.

    A wise sports franchise owner realizes he can become infamous much more easily than she/he can become famous.

    Bowlen never scored a touchdown, never made a tackle, never devised a game plan.

    He also did not make not make many major mistakes, and he was quick to correct the biggest mistake of his reign as owner.

    He fired Josh McDaniels, the boy blunder.

     

  • Manning’s 18 a surprising fourth in NFL jersey sales

    Mon, July 21, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Was surprised to see Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the fourth position in sales of NFL jerseys.

    Extremely surprised.

    Would have expected him to lead in the sales department.

    Here is the list of top jersey sellers. And, yes, I’m as surprised as you are to see Johnny Manziel in the lead.

    Manziel, as you know, has yet to take a snap in the NFL.

    But his lack of experience is the best explanation for his sudden rise to the top of jersey sales.

    Millions of Americans already owned Manning’s Broncos jersey.

    No American owned Manziel’s Browns jersey until a couple months ago.

     

     

    MANNING PHOTOX

    1. QB Johnny Manziel, Cleveland
    2. QB Russell Wilson, Seattle
    3. QB Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco
    4. QB Peyton Manning, Denver
    5. CB Richard Sherman, Seattle
    6. DE Michael Sam, St. Louis
    7. QB Tom Brady, New England
    8. QB Drew Brees, New Orleans
    9. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
    10. 12th Man, Seattle

    One other note:

    The No. 12 – you know, the 12th man – Super Bowl jersey comes in at No. 10 on the list. I saw dozens of those No. 12 jerseys in New York during Super Bowl week.

    Each time I saw a Seahawks No. 12, I had to battle the temptation to say, “Um, you’re just a fan. You don’t play for the Seahawks.”

  • Cowboys release Kyle Orton. Is he retiring? Or looking for a new gig?

    Thu, July 17, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    KYLE THE VILEORTON, back when he was an average QB for the Broncos

    Some experts believe Kyle Orton wants to retire.

    Others believe he’s looking for a new NFL gig.

    I believe he’s one of those common creatures in the NFL:

    A starting quarterback who is not quite talented enough to start at quarterback in the NFL. Mediocre would be high praise for Orton, who might not reach quite that high a level.

    Orton was scheduled to earn $3.25 million this season for the Cowboys. He’s only 31, but he’s offered hints he wants to walk away from his huge paycheck and begin retirement. This is the path Jake Plummer took a few years ago. The Snake now enjoys a peaceful retirement with his former Bronco cheerleader wife near Boulder.

    Orton threw for 15,019 yards with 83 touchdowns and 59 interceptions in 75 career games for Chicago (2005-08), Denver (2009-11), Kansas City (2011) and Dallas (2012-13). He was 35-35 as a starter, only one of those coming with the Cowboys.

    35-35. That’s average. Mediocre, you might say.

     

  • Ramsey: World Cup final proves soccer critics correct in one regard

    Mon, July 14, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    DONOVAN BABYAT LEAST HE SCORED SOME GOALS

    Yes, Sunday’s battle between Argentina and Germany could have used a few more goals.

    This World Cup was seriously light on scoring. We had one too many bites (yes, we’re talking about you, Luis Suarez) and a wide collection of sensational goaltending and some dazzling defending.

    But not enough goals.

    Games that end in 0-0 ties are frustrating, even to the most devoted fan. Germany and Argentina both were blessed with opportunities to win the game in regulation.

    Both teams wasted those chances.

    Here’s my wish for the 2018 World Cup in Russia:

    More goals.

  • Cleveland Cavaliers have backup plan if LeBron spurns them, once again

    Thu, July 10, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    LEBRONSTERKING JAMES

    From Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the premier source for NBA news:

    “If the Cavs can’t get LeBron James, their backup plan remains making a run at signing free-agent forward Trevor Ariza. “

    Um, that’s what is known as a letdown.

    LeBron is the NBA’s No. 1 player.

    Ariza?

    He falls somewhere in the top 150.

     

  • Ramsey: Talk about inflation: So-so Hayward signs $63 million NBA contract

    Wed, July 9, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Gordon Hayward just signed a four-year $63 million contract with Charlotte.

    This is the same Hayward who led the Jazz to a 25-57 record this season.

    OK, that’s a little harsh, but Hayward barely rises above mediocre. He shot 41.3 percent from the field. Last time that was a respectable percentage was 1954. He averaged less than one offensive rebound a game, an indication of his lack of ambition and athleticism. He never will be the best player on the playoff team. Never.

    He fails to deserve a max contract.

     

  • Ramsey: Is Ann Coulter funny? Is soccer boring? We wrestle with these vital questions

    Mon, July 7, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    ANN COULTER PHOTO ANN COULTER, soccer fan?

    First, let me say I almost always enjoy and appreciate and read and ponder the comments found on the bottom of my columns on gazette.com. along with the e-mails that arrive in our modern version of a mailbox. I learn from many of the points, and I sense the deep devotion of sports fans who read The Gazette. I sometimes sense this devotion because of the anger found in messages.

    So, thanks Mark King for taking the time to write a letter to the editor about my recent column that celebrated soccer. (Mark was not angry, by the way.)

    Let’s get to a couple points:

    1. Ann Coulter

    In your letter, Mark, you stated Coulter’s recent column mocking soccer “upset” me and you stated Coulter is funny.

    Coulter doesn’t appreciate 0-0 soccer matches. Neither do you, Mark.

    Well, I’m not a big fan of 0-0 games, either. So we all agree. Coulter took some legit – and humorous – shots at soccer in her column.

    I had little trouble with Coulter’s column until the final paragraph. And I stated, in my column, that Coulter is sometimes funny.

    I have a problem with the final paragraph, and that’s the only section of the Coulter column I discussed in my column.

    “I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time,” Coulter wrote.
     
    In this paragraph, Coulter takes a needless, mean shot at Americans who recently immigrated here. (And virtually all of us are descendants of immigrants.) She also makes a flatly false statement. Millions and millions of Americans whose great-grandfathers were born here watch soccer. I’m one of those Americans, and I’m not alone.
    Funny? There is nothing funny – or accurate – about Coulter’s final graph.
     
    2. Soccer is boring
     
    A few years ago, I was in a dark theater watching “Bridge On The River Kwai.” This is one of the most gripping, entertaining movies ever created. I’m not alone in this view. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 94 percent of viewers give “Bridge” a thumbs up.
     
    The person sitting next to me yawned and fidgeted and groaned the entire movie.
     
    Why?
     
    “It’s boring,’ the person sitting next to me said.
     
    Soccer is beloved by billions of our world’s residents. The game is almost universally embraced, kind of like “Bridge.’
     
    There is a group of Americans who stubbornly refuse to yield to soccer’s charms. This group says the game is boring.
     
    And guess what? The game is boring to this tiny slice of the world’s population. If someone says a movie or a game or a person is boring, you can’t argue with he/she. It is boring to this person.
     
    So I won’t argue with you, Mark, even if billions stand on the other side of the soccer argument while you stand with a few million Americans on your side of the discussion.
     
    Here is Mark’s entire letter:

    Bored with the World Cup

    Hey, David Ramsey, regarding your column “Everyone, almost everyone, loves U.S. soccer,” I like soccer a little bit every four years – when the World Cup is on – until I get bored. It’s halftime in the U.S.-Belgium game, so I’m still a little interested. If the U.S. gets bounced, I’ll be bored with the World Cup and tune out until the U.S. appears in another one.

    Our second home team, Mexico, already got bounced. And the only reasons to ever like Belgium (years ago) were that good shotguns and fancy chocolate came from there.

    Ann Coulter’s column, “America’s Favorite National Pastime: Hating Soccer,” was funny. It was funny that the column upset you. The idea that soccer is the perfect sport for overanxious liberal parents because nothing ever happens is funny. Just how is it that a “match” between a team of soccer elites and a team of soccer hacks can end in a 0-0 tie? Answer, nothing much ever happens. It’s right, and it’s funny.

    And how about how all of the players at such an elite level flop like little sissies to feign grave injuries from fouls? A minute later, they’re all up running at full speed in the other direction.

    Mark King, Colorado Springs

    And here’s a link to my soccer column:

    http://gazette.com/ramsey-everyone-well-almost-everyone-loves-u.s.-soccer/article/1522275

     
     

     

     

     

  • Ramsey: Happy birthday to the Springs own Goose Gossage

    Sat, July 5, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    GOOSE PHOTO

    Richard “Goose” Gossage offers a lesson for all of us today, his birthday.

    Restraint is not always the best policy.

    Goose takes chances. He speaks his mind. He challenged hitters. He challenges himself. He refuses to be ruled by fear. When he walked to the mound, often facing a terrifying jam, he walked boldly, full of courage, fully ready to challenge the batter he was about to face. He worked quickly, another lesson for today’s slow-as-hell pitchers.

    He worked his way straight into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    He was born here, and he still lives here. He began his baseball career playing Little League in the Springs.

    On Goose’s birthday, take a minute to embrace his spirit. Take a chance. Do something bold. Surprise yourself.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Ramsey: Happy birthday to Floyd Little, who made the Broncos legit

    Fri, July 4, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    FLOYD LITTLE IMAGE FLOYD LITTLE

    Happy birthday to Floyd Little. His arrival in Denver began the transformation of the Denver Broncos, who were in danger of moving to Birmingham (I’m not kidding) and were struggling mightily to sell tickets for games at Mile High Stadium (again, I’m not kidding). The Broncos ranked as the most downtrodden franchise in professional football before Little’s arrival in 1967.

    Little ranks as one of the most entertaining running backs in NFL history, right up there with Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders. He often traveled winding roads to the end road, reversing field a few times, evading the same tackler two or three times, employing a rare combination of power, speed and elusiveness.

    His Broncos career did not last as long as it should have. He got beat down by too many carries and too much responsibility. He returned punts and kickoffs. He blocked with gusto. This led to  an early retirement in 1975.

    A case can be made that Terrell Davis ranks as the Broncos all-time best running back, and I won’t argue with anyone who selects Davis.

    But Little is my pick.

     

     

  • Ramsey: The NBA’s all-time top 22. Has LeBron climbed into the top 10?

    Thu, July 3, 2014 by David Ramsey with no comments

    WILT Wilt Chamberlain, Dave Coowens, Steve Kuberski 

    LEBRON  LEBRONSTERBILL RUSSELL DOGRUSSELL

    LeBron James is on the verge of invading the NBA’s all-time top 10, but he’s not quite there yet.Photo -<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
	 Photo by<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

    Basketball is the ideal sport for the best-ever discussion. The game has only lived on the national stage since the early 1950s, which simplifies arguments.

    In baseball, you can make a strong case for Babe Ruth as the best-ever, and he began his career in 1914.

    That was a long time ago. That leads to all kinds of comparing of eras, which can get messy.

    In basketball, the first greatest-ever candidate is George Mikan, who led the Lakers (then based in Minneapolis) to seven titles in nine seasons. He retired in 1955.

    That makes picking a top 22 an easier task. And more fun.

    Here’s my top 22, and I’d love to hear from you about your top five or 10 or 21 or 50.

    Let the arguments begin.

    1. MICHAEL JORDAN: You can argue this choice, but it would be silly. Jordan played in six NBA Finals. And won them all. He never quit growing as a player. He started his career as the ultimate skywalker. He ended his Bulls career — please, let’s just forget those days with the Wizards — as the game’s ultimate mid-range jump shooter. I will be stunned — happily stunned — if ever I see a better player than Michael Jordan.

    2. MAGIC JOHNSON: A revolutionary. A point guard in a center’s body. If Magic had not been stricken with HIV, he might have tangled with Jordan for the top spot. He’s the greatest team player ever. What I mean is, any teammate who stepped on the court with Magic instantly transformed into a superior player.

    3. BILL RUSSELL: Eleven titles in 13 seasons. No one will ever top that. No one will ever come close. He’s the greatest winner in the history of team sports. So why doesn’t he rank at the top? That’s easy. He was always surrounded by overwhelming talent. He was the lead actor in a dynasty jammed with superior chemistry and a deep collection of gifted players.

    4. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: His hook shot remains the most effective offensive weapon in basketball history. This list is focused on NBA accomplishments, and if you include college accomplishments, Abdul-Jabbar might climb even higher. He won three NCAA titles. (Although, come to think of it, Russell won two NCAA titles.) Kareem climbed one spot on my list in the past year, largely because former Gazetteer Frank Schwab delivered solid arguments for The Big Man’s rise.

    5. WILT CHAMBERLAIN: Watched him play in downtown Seattle when I was in grade school. An amazing talent who could have been even better. Many basketball historians, including one of my favorites, Terry Pluto, make a strong case Chamberlain was better than Russell. Wilt did compile mind-boggling numbers, and when he was surrounded by talent he won two NBA titles.

    6. TIM DUNCAN:  Emperor of the Spurs dynasty. For years, Spurs fans have commanded me to place Mr. Boring closer to the top of this list. During the past two NBA Finals, the scales fell from my eyes, and I could see one of NBA history’s finest defenders and winners. The best player of the post-Michael Jordan era in the NBA.

    7. KOBE BRYANT: Duncan is the finest player of the post-Jordan era, but it’s close. Didn’t appreciate Kobe as much as I should have during his long prime, which is now over. Didn’t appreciate him primarily because I despised him. He’s an astounding talent. He’s not the most charming character, but he’s one of sports history’s most relentless competitors. And he’s the rare ball hog who also is a winner.

    8. OSCAR ROBERTSON: Until Jordan arrived, he ranked as the most complete player ever. I’ve talked with a couple dozen players who competed against Robertson. When they talk about The Big O, they are filled with immense respect.

    9. JERRY WEST: Interviewed him about the NBA draft a couple times when I was covering Syracuse University basketball. The most down-to-earth superstar ever.

    JERRY WEST WEST

    10. LARRY BIRD: Overrated by overzealous fans, but a fantastic competitor and offensive player, even if he often looked lost as a defender. I’d place him lower, but a multitude of basketball people I respect place him high on their lists. Talked with Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich, who makes a strong case for Bird belonging in the top 5. Don’t agree, but understand Pilipovich’s — and others’ — devotion to Bird. He is one of basketball history’s most charismatic players. And, like Magic, it’s difficult to imagine what he might have done if he had remained healthy.

    11. LeBRON JAMES: This is No. 11 with a bullet. LeBron could someday pass Duncan and land just outside the NBA’s all-time top five. Was talking to fellow Gazetteer Matt Wiley, a certified NBA freak, and he made an interesting point. He believes LeBron could  carry any team to the NBA playoffs. And we’re talking any team. This is a huge statement, but it’s not an overstatement. James has long been an overwhelming force in the regular season. In the last four seasons, when he led the Heat to four rides to the NBA Finals, he’s proven he can deliver clutch work in the playoffs, too.

    12. ELGIN BAYLOR: The first skywalker. A revolutionary and a basketball gentleman. He should have a much higher profile. I used to live in Syracuse, N.Y., once home to an NBA franchise. Fans there still talk about Baylor’s first visit in 1958. He soared a foot-and-a-half above the rim for a slam, but had a little trouble with his air traffic control. While trying to avoid one of his opponent’s arms, Baylor miscalculated his dunk and the ball slammed off the back rim. The Syracuse fans swore the ball bounced all the way past the halfcourt line. This Baylor air show ranks among the best missed dunks of all time.

    13. RICK BARRY: I used to instigate heated basketball arguments by telling friends and enemies that Barry (who has lived in the Springs for decades) was a superior player to Larry Bird. These friends and enemies dismissed all points and acted as if I had just said the moon landing was staged. So I promised to never again state my case. (By the way, I do believe we landed astronauts on the moon.) Still, please, at least consider that the Bird-Barry discussion has merit. Look at Barry’s numbers: he averaged 24 points in his career, same as Bird. Look at the way Barry carried — as no other player ever carried — the Golden State Warriors to the 1975 title. Bird and Barry were remarkably similar players and belong right next to each other on the all-time list. One quick Barry story: I was talking a few years ago with former Sonics superstar Spencer Haywood about Barry. (Haywood, who had one glorious season in Denver, and Barry often did battle on the court.) Spencer spent a few minutes raving about Barry’s accomplishments before announcing, “Rick Barry is the greatest white player of all time.” Spencer then took a long pause, all the better for comic effect, before completing his announcement. “And Rick was about the 75th best player of all time.” Thanks, Spencer.

    RICK BARRYSTERBARRY

    14. JOHN HAVLICEK: He played in eight NBA finals. And won them all. He also scored nearly 5,000 more points than Bird.

    15. HAKEEM OLAJUWON: Sure, the Dream Shake was a walk, but who cares.

    16. SHAQ: A dangerous man. The least-skilled player on this list. And the least-skilled great player in basketball history.

    17. BOB PETTIT: One of the great power forwards in NBA history. He retired in 1965 and is largely forgotten, which is sad. He overwhelmed everyone in his day, and everyone includes Bill Russell.

    18. JULIUS ERVING: The most entertaining, dazzling basketball player ever? Maybe. For pure thrills, only Jordan and David Thompson could battle with Dr. J. Will long remember watching The Doctor rise to the heights during his second season in the ABA in 1972. (Yes, I am old.) He dunked on various Rockets (later to become the Nuggets) a half-dozen times in downtown Denver. What a show. And what a ‘fro.

    JULIUS ERVING THE DOCTOR

    19. KARL MALONE: Not a big fan, but it’s difficult to argue with The Mailman’s numbers. Too bad Malone and John Stockton never quite found a way to win a title.

    20. MOSES MALONE: If Moses had been blessed with bigger hands, he would have been illegal. His little hands limited his shooting. He handled himself like a boxer in the lane. Another dangerous man.

    21. DIRK NOWITZKI: I’d seen Dirk play in person a dozen times and seen him play on TV dozens of times, but never truly appreciated him until the 2011 NBA Finals. Through dogged, exhaustive effort, Dirk constructed one of the most dangerous offensive machines in basketball history. He’s one of the greatest jump shooters ever, but he’s not soft. He dropped his biggest baskets in the 2011 series on courageous drives to the basket.

    22. GEORGE MIKAN: I’ve talked to a dozen players — NBA pioneers — who battled against Mikan. Many of these players later battled against Russell and Chamberlain. These pioneers speak with immense respect for Mikan, one of the game’s all-time winners. If you’re doubtful about this selection, please consider a few facts: Mikan finished his career with seven — seven! — straight titles, and in his best three seasons averaged 28 points, 14 rebounds and three assists.