2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Gerard Warren remembers Darrent Williams

    Sat, November 29, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Gerard Warren is one of the better interviews in the NFL. He’s a big, kind, open man.

    And he’s wise enough to stay away from bitterness. I’ve become a little weary of listening to sports millionaires moan about disrespect. Athletes have one of the better gigs on earth, but that doesn’t stop them from griping.

    Warren has plenty to gripe about., The Denver Broncos banished him to the Oakland Raiders, but the massive defensive lineman just shrugs when he talks about the decision.

    “That’s business,” he said last Sunday after the Raiders thrashed the Broncos. He’s not mad at Mike Shanahan. He’s not mad at anybody.

    Warren explained. He takes care to separate personal matters from business matters. What the Broncos did to him – sending him to one of the worst franchises in sports – was nothing personal.

    “It was business,” he said with a smile.

    Then the smile vanished. He pointed at a rubber bracelet on his wrist. It read, “Darrent Williams.”

    “That,” he said slowly, “is personal.”

  • Floyd Little belongs in Hall of Fame

    Wed, November 26, 2008 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    I recently visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and was reminded once again there’s no plaque honoring Floyd Little. He’s not a member of the hall.

    That’s not right. Little, who played for the Denver Broncos from 1967-75, should have a  plaque in the hall.

    He gained 6,323 yards for the Broncos, who were one  of the jokes of professional football. He played for  teams that finished with 47 wins and 77 losses, but he shouldn’t be penalized for being surrounded by less-than-talented teammates. He should be celebrated.

    Little was an electrifying talent, the kind of runner who often danced his way past all 11 defenders. He was like  Gale Sayers. He was beyond statistics.

    Voters for the hall have an annoying habit of honoring winners. Paul Hornung,  who gained a little more  than half as many yards as Little, is in the hall. That’s because he played for the Green Bay Packers during the Vince Lombardi era.

    Jim Brown, the greatest football player ever, sighed as he considered Little’s frustrating quest to join the greats at the hall. Little is his friend. Both starred for the late Ben Schwartzwalder at Syracuse University.

    “He was a bowlegged dude with tremendous speed and great movement,” Brown said of Little. “He was a very individualistic type of runner, a true champion type of runner.”

    When Little retired, he ranked seventh on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.  The six players ahead of him are in the hall. His numbers don’t dazzle in 2008, but that’s because statistics have become so inflated. When Little rushed for 1,133 yards in 1971, it was cause for celebration. He was the 13th player in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards.

    He’s been knocking on the hall’s doors for decades. He deserves to step in.

  • Message for my BYU friends

    Mon, November 24, 2008 by David Ramsey with 15 comments

    Recently, I’ve heard from a large number of BYU fans, who didn’t appreciate my suggestion that the Cougars might have been “the most overrated No. 17 team in American football history.” After BYU defeated Air Force, I was heckled via e-mail, and that was fine.

    But the column that angered BYU fans contained as much skepticism about Air Force as it did about the Cougars. I wrote that Air Force hadn’t beaten anyone of merit, and neither had BYU. The Cougars, of course, beat Air Force.

    But that’s about the only impressive  – make that semi-impressive – feat of their season. The Cougars defeated one Division I opponent with a winning record – and that’s Air Force – this season. The Cougars barely beat Washington, which finished 0-11. They were lucky to escape with wins over UNLV and CSU.

    And the Cougars got thumped by Texas Christian and Utah, losing the games by a combined score of 80-31.

    One thing I want to make clear: I have nothing against the Cougars. I’ve been accused of a vendetta, of being part of a vast conspiracy against all things BYU. Fact is, I’m a big fan of Utah (the state) and am  fascinated by the Mormon movement. I’ve visited Brigham Young’s home and the Mormon historical museum in Salt Lake and would tour the temple if that was possible.

    I’ve been asked, constantly, by BYU fans when I planned to apologize for my unjustified slap at the Cougars.

    Been thinking about those requests.

    And don’t believe any apology is needed.

    BYU is the third-best team in the Mountain West and it’s a distant third.

    The most overrated No. 17 team in American football  history? OK,  maybe that was a little much.

    But only a little. There’s no doubt BYU’s football was and remains overrated.

    BYU fans, please enjoy your Thanksgiving. Your favorite team was allegedly powerful this season. Maybe next season it will be truly powerful.

  • NFL fines free speech

    Sat, November 22, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz didn’t like where officials spotted the ball. He complained, saying the officiating crew “screwed” his team.

    The NFL responded with a $20,000 fine.

    I don’t get it. With fines, all the NFL does is bring attention – and glamour – to critics. A coach who whines about officials would seem, well, whiny, but the NFL makes coaches and players look courageous with the fines. When a player speaks out, he knows he might get whacked with a five-figure fine. Those who talk anyway seem to have the courage of their convictions.

    It’s time – it’s past time – for the NFL and the NBA to let players and coaches speak their minds about officiating. Fining free speech doesn’t work. The players and coaches earn enough money to speak anyway.

  • More on Serratore

    Wed, November 19, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    In Thursday’s Gazette, I write about how Frank Serratore revived Air Force’s hockey team.

    Here’s some other things Frank told me.

    In April 1997, Serratore traveled to Detroit for an all-star game and shared a hotel room with Don Lucia, one of his oldest friends. Lucia, now the coach at Minnesota, was then coaching Colorado College.

    Lucia asked if Serratore would be interested in Air Force’s vacant hockey job.

    No, Serratore said. At the time, there were few jobs in America that interested Serratore less than Air Force. Besides, he was planning to join the Pittsburgh Penguins as an assistant coach.

    But then Serratore pondered the possible move. He had coached at the University of Denver, and his family enjoyed Colorado. His children, always a huge priority in his life, had attended three schools in three years. He wanted stability for his family and his career. The NHL is chaotic.  College promised more stability.

    “When Don first asked me, I thought, ‘Air Force, that’s not me.’ But I started thinking about our family situation. We liked living in Colorado. And it was a chance to get back to college coaching, and that’s all I ever wanted to do. I wanted to be a college coach forever.

    “In the pros, you’re managing people as much as you’re coaching. In college, you’re really a true coach. For me,  with my personality, I can be myself in college. In the pros, you’re working with a lot of egos.”

    Air Force, Serratore decided, offered an ideal atmosphere. He wouldn’t have to worry about babying any of his players and their egos. That would be one of his prime worries in the NHL.

    At a service academy, Serratore knew, one set of rules apply to everyone.

    “And I’m a one set of rules guy,” Serratore said. “That’s me. I’m a black-and-white guy.”

    One other aspect of the job appealed to Serratore.

    The Falcons had been awful.

    “It had bottomed out, and I knew I could make it better. How good it could be, I didn’t know.”

    He’s currently finding out.

     

  • Goodbye to Holliday

    Fri, November 14, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Matt Holliday’s departure from the Colorado Rockies highlights Major League Baseball’s biggest problem. There are the rich teams, and there are the not-so-rich teams, and the gulf between the categories is huge.

    The Rockies discovered Holliday, developed Holliday but now must wave goodbye to Holliday because they can’t afford him. A fan can make the argument that the Rockies should have found a way to pay Holliday’s contract, which will soon be massive, but the team’s owners don’t have those kind of pockets.

    Holliday deserves the right to earn every dime he can.  That’s the American way. But the MLB should find a better way to share the riches so the line between the haves and the have-nots will vanish, or at least fade.

  • Henke will start, finally

    Wed, November 12, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    On Tuesday, a media type asked Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds if Andrew Henke would start this season. This question should be along the lines of “Tomorrow, will  the sun rise in the east?”

    But after the often-bizarre handling of Henke during his career, the answer wasn’t so obvious. Henke is the most highly recruited basketball player in academy history, and he’s one of the most gifted.

    Yet for some reason Jeff Bzdelik and, to a lesser degree, Jeff Reynolds have concentrated on what Henke can’t do. Henke sat the bench for most of his first two seasons and served as sixth man in Reynolds’ rookie season.

    This is, finally, Henke’s team.  He’s the undisputed star, the best shooter, passer and rebounder on the squad. In his final hurrah, he will be given the chance to display all his skills.

    Reynolds said, yes, Henke will start. Finally, good sense reigns at the academy.

    Reynolds also wanted to make sure a certain sports writer heard the news about Henke.

    “Make sure David Ramsey knows that,” Reynolds said of his Henke annoucement.

    Thanks for thinking of  me, coach. Thanks  a lot.

    Make sure to read Jake Schaller’s feature on Henke, along with a preview of Air Force’s season, in Thursday’s Gazette.

  • Carmelo and 44

    Thu, November 6, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Give him this: Carmelo Anthony is seldom boring. Before Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, Carmelo boldly – and foolishly – said he wanted to score 44 points to honor Barack Obama, who will  soon become our 44th president.

    Anthony took enough shots – 30  – to score 44, but finished with 28. He and the the Nuggets blew an 18-point lead and lost for the third time in four games.

    “In case you’re wondering,” wrote Chris Tomasson of The Rocky Mountain News, “the 28th president of the United States was Woodrow Wilson.”

    It’s time – it’s past time – for Carmelo to quit making silly predictions and start worrying about winning  games. This is the season when everyone – including me – must quit making excuses for Carmelo. He’s no  longer a kid. He no longer has any excuses.

    Is he the second coming of Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson or a younger, taller version of Kobe Bryant? No one ever accused Big  Dog of lacking  talent. Robinson did lack the kind of fire that can transform a team.

    Anthony needs to strip down his approach to the game. He needs to prove to himself and everyone else he’s one of the game’s top dozen players. He did all the right things at the Beijing Olympics, playing  the role of the good, uncomplaining  teammate as the United States rampaged to a gold medal.

    He seemed ready to finally enter his prime, but so far this season he resembles the same ol’ Melo.,

    This is Anthony’s year. Does he rank alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? Or is he good, but not quite great?

    We’ll soon see.

  • Berman’s folly

    Tue, November 4, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    I’m trying to think of someone who would be an even-worse choice than Chris Berman to interview John McCain and Barrack Obama.  (Berman – the most annoying sportscaster alive – interviewed the presidential candidates Monday night.)

    I’ve failed.  Can’t think of anyone. Berman wins as worst choice.

  • Kleiza’s troubles

    Sat, November 1, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Carmelo Anthony’s two-game suspension gave Linas Kleiza a rare chance to show the full  range of his skills.

    Let’s just say Kleiza flunked his audition. In two starts, Kleiza scored 10 point – total – and shot 3-of-16. It’s a troubling start for a player who will need to deliver quality minutes off the bench.

    It’s also a troubling start for Kleiza’s accountant. The Nuggets had considered handing Kleiza a four-year $25 million extension, but the team declined the option.