2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • More on AFA basketball schedule

    Tue, September 30, 2008 by David Ramsey with 5 comments

    I received several responses – via e-mail and message boards – about last week’s column on Air Force’s sorry nonconference basketball schedule. Many of the responses agreed with my view. And many didn’t.

    Here is my response to your responses:

    1. AFA doesn’t need to play the University of Denver because their styles are similar. Both teams play slowdown basketball.

    Style isn’t what matters. Execution matters. Talent matters. The Falcons could play a quality opponent that resides 65 miles away. This is an obvious – virtually required – rivalry. I’m  baffled by anyone who can’t see this.

    2. AFA’s coaches and athletic staff  “tried” for a better schedule.

    I’ve never watched a game when a team didn’t “try” to win. Never. Trying isn’t the point. The point is to accomplish what you attempt.

    Sure, AFA coaches and athletic staff “tried” to construct a quality nonconference schedule.

    And they failed.

    3. Many other teams in America also have less-than-attractive schedules. This list includes DU and CU.

    This point does nothing to excuse the Falcons. If every school in America wants to weaken the state of college basketball by fleeing from any and all  challenges, that does nothing to elevate the Falcons.

    The Falcons should seek to test themselves and offer fans quality basketball.

    4. The Falcons will be young and inexperienced this season.

    So give these youngsters a challenge. Let them battle and watch quality opponents.

  • Elway’s fiance

    Sat, September 27, 2008 by David Ramsey with 3 comments

    My mother was a devout Denver Broncos fan, although she seldom watched the games. She took a nap while my father and my brothers gathered around the TV, and then listened intently as we reviewed the game. She loved the way the Broncos could make the state of  Colorado happy or sad on a Sunday afternoon.

    But, mostly, she loved John Elway. She loved everything about him, but especially his marriage to Janet. The story was so heartwarming. The couple met at Stanford, where both were superlative athletes. John proposed on bended knee. They had four athletic children. Mom talked all  the time about John and Janet. You would have thought they were her own children. It was, in her mind, a virtually perfect marriage.

    Maybe too perfect. The Elways divorced in 2003. I miss my mother, but I’m glad she wasn’t around to see their union crumble.

    And I don’t think she would be too thrilled about Elway’s new fiance. Paige Green is – heaven forbid – a former Raiderette. She once danced while encouraging the Raiders – those mangy marauders of the West – to defeat the Broncos.

    Paige, 41, is now an actress, kind of. I checked out her acting resume on the IMBD web site. My favorite of her handful of movies is “Gory, Gory, Hallelujah.” It’s the story of four acting hopefuls – a black revolutionary, a bi-sexual hippie, a Jew and a woman – who try out for the movie role of Jesus. After being rejected, they decide to tour the country,  but, and I’m quoting here, “when a run-in with a gang of Elvises ends in murder, they find themselves stranded in a little town.”

    I am not making this up.

    So this union is not quite so perfect, but I still wish Elway the best. He’s seemed to wander through much of this decade, hurting after the collapse of his marriage and the death of his father and sister. Maybe he’s finally found a safe shore.

    “I’m very lucky to find Paige,” Elway told Penny Parker, my favorite gossip writer. “I’m looking forward to a long life together.”

    Best of luck, John.

  • AFA schedule

    Tue, September 23, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    +Jeff Reynolds deserves credit for  one aspect of Air Force’s 2008-2009 schedule. He crammed 17 home  game into the season. That could mean an impressive win total, even if several of the victories will be over less-than-mighty opponents.

    +Reynolds could  ease his opposition to playing the University of Colorado, if Jeff Bzdelik finds another job.

    “Jeff (Bzdelik) and I talk twice a week, if not more, and that’s never a topic,” Reynolds said of a possible renewal of the AFA-CU rivalry. “Maybe if he leaves, then I’d love to start something.”

    +Former AFA coach Joe Scott, who’s now at the University of Denver, believes in the importance of home games.

    “You need home games because you win at home,” Scott said. “Who you play in those games isn’t as imperative as having those games.”

    +Scott and his DU Pioneers will travel to Northern Iowa and Wyoming this season. He’s seeking road tests for his team.

    “You can play The Sisters of the Poor or you can challenge yourself,” Scott said. “We’re going to challenge  ourselves. That’s how we’re going to build a program. It might be dumb, but we’ll be better  for it.”

    +Scott believes a AFA-DU basketball rivalry is a natural, largely because of geography.

    “It’s right down the road. It’s no big deal.”

    +Scott wants to play AFA in 2009-2010,  but Falcons and Pioneers reps better hurry. DU,  Scott said, has only two open dates on its schedule.

  • Shock the world?

    Mon, September 22, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Dre Bly keeps talking about the Denver Broncos plan to “shock the world.” He draws fuel by all the doubters he believes are lurking out there.

    I’m not sure Bly understands the futility of his plan. This summer, while traveling in China and South Korea, I discovered that our NBA stars – and especially Kobe Bryant – have traveled to the Far East. The NBA stars are big here, and they are big there.

    NFL stars? I didn’t hear one word or see one indication that anyone in the Far East cares about the Most Popular Game in America.

    So even if Bly and the Broncos win the Super Bowl,  they’ll have trouble shocking much of the world because much of the world won’t care.

    Football is an American game, through and through. We love it. In the deep south and in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Texas, the game  is an obsession, a central part of the culture.

    Yet football, unlike  basketball, doesn’t travel well. It’s too violent  and too complicated. It could be decades before any NFL player can truly “shock the world.”


  • Chargers-Broncos

    Mon, September 15, 2008 by David Ramsey with 3 comments

    Let’s start with the obvious. The San Diego Chargers suffered through grave injustice in Sunday’s loss.

    But let’s also give the Denver Broncos credit. NFL officials, while inept, did not hand the Broncos a victory. They did incorrectly hand the Broncos the ball at the 10-yard line, but this was not an easy situation. Not even close. The Broncos faced a third-and-goal. They had to travel the toughest 10 yards of the field to win.

    The Chargers need to take a closer look at their porous defense. The Chargers need to figure out how the Broncos could call the exact same play twice in a row to claim a TD and a game-winning 2-point conversion.

    Sure, it was an officiating debacle, but this victory did not come  giftwrappped. After the horrnedous call,  the Broncos earned the win and the Chargers earned the defeat.

  • Nuggets chances

    Sat, September 13, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The Denver Nuggets, after giving Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers, have not a chance this season. I hear this all the time. ESPN predicts the Nuggets will win a mere 39 games and miss the playoffs for the first time in the Carmelo Anthony era.

    I don’t agree with the gloom. The Nuggets have boasted great talent and suffered with lousy chemistry ever since the arrival of Allen Iverson. Not all the blame should be placed on Iverson’s slim shoulders.

    This season the team could do more with less. I expect Linas Kleiza to emerge as a solid sixth-man and J.R. Smith has the gifts to combine with Anthony and Iverson for a dangerous scoring trio.

    Here’s my prediction: Tne relatively depleted Nuggets will – finally – win a first-round playoff series.

  • Living in Raider nation

    Tue, September 9, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    First off, I want to thank Broncos beat writer Frank Schwab for selecting a hotel that sits a half-mile away from Oakland Coliseum. Great selection, Frank.

    For the past two days and nights, I’ve been able to dwell among hundreds of women, men, girls and boys wearing black-and-silver.

    I’ve seen a wide variety of T-shirts – many obscene – proclaiming the Raiders greatness and the  Broncos lack of greatness. Sorry, I can’t get into details about the shirts. I’ll have to leave those details to your imagination.

    I ‘ve been awakened in the middle of the night by fans – I assume they were drunk – shouting “Raiders!” at the limits of their lungs.

    And after the Broncos demolished the Raiders, I watched fans stumble around, stunned, devastated and hungry. At the hotel’s breakfast bar this morning, a dozen Raiders fans grumpily ate waffles while  trying to figure out how their team had been so thoroughly wasted by the Broncos.

    It’s a strange time to dwell in the Raider Nation. There is so much passion for the team. The level of devotion comes close to worship. It’s  a weird sports cult.

    Here’s what baffles me. All this love is for a team that is certifiably awful. Jay Cutler could have thrown for 600 yards Monday night if he’d be in the mood. The Raiders have lost 62 of their last 81 games and their winning percentage won’t improve this season. I realize the Raiders boast a glorious past, but isn’t the present more important?

    It’s a strange time for Broncos fans. For decades, the Raiders loomed as the evil empire of the West, a violent gang of mangy marauders who filled the nightmares of Bronco fans. They were despicable, sure,  but they also were powerful.

    But, really, is it any fun  when your arch-rival becomes so completely pathetic?

    I would have asked this question to the members of the Raiders nation who were bellowing in the middle of the night outside my hotel door, but I didn’t think it was wise. I think you know what I mean.

  • The Rockies strange summer

    Thu, September 4, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The Rockies retain hope. It’s cheap hope. It’s ridiculous hope.

    But it’s hope.

    The National League West is a joke. Not a good joke, but a joke. The Toronto Blue Jays would be leading the NL West, but instead the poor Jays are flying 12.5 games out of first in the rugged American League East.

    The Rockies are blessed to play in the NL West and they’re blessed that fans have lingering memories of last season’s astonishing late run that carried a team and a state all the way to the World Series.

    Everyone – and that includes me – keeps waiting for the real Rockies to emerge, for the team that won so many games in October to awaken. It’s been a long wait.

    But, of course, hope lingers. If the Rockies can finally put together one truly blazing run, they could zip right back to the playoffs. This isn’t just, of course, but it keeps hopes alive for a strange season,  

  • The Crusher, RIP

    Tue, September 2, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    A few days ago, while searching through The Washington Post archives, I stumbled on the obituary for Reggie Lisowki, better known by his nickname, “The Crusher.”

    The Crusher became famous by touring the professional wrestling circuit in the 1960s and 1970s.  According to legend, he trained with two full kegs on his shoulders. He battled – if that’s the right word – against such greats as Superstar Billy Graham, Baron Von Raschke and the immortal Mad Dog Vachon.

    In the mid 1970s, I spent many nights in downtown Denver watching pro wrestling. After the bouts, I visited with wrestling fans at White Spot,  which was Denver’s (better) version of Denny’s. To my surprise, dozens of these older fans believed the bouts were real. 

    They weren’t, but they were a lot of fun. It was enormously entertaining, and seriously funny, to watch this theater of the absurd. The Crusher and  his buddies were fake athletes,  but great actors. This battle between Good – say, the Crusher – vs. Evil – usually Superstar Billy Graham – was a blast to watch.

    And I still believe the greatest sports quote of all  time came from The Crusher. He describes a long-ago cage match with the Mad Dog, full of blood and wounds.

    “I had to go to the hospital and he had to go to the veterinarian,”  the Crusher recalled.