2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Wanted: Your nominations for Fisher’s best moments

    Thu, July 30, 2009 by David Ramsey with 4 comments

    I recently traveled to Grove, a small town in northeast Oklahoma, to visit with former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry.

    We talked for several hours about his reign as Falcons head coach. We visited about a dozen games in detail, starting with a game from 1982 when Fisher worked as the Falcons offensive coordinator and ending in 2006, Fisher’s final season.

    What are your favorite games? We’ll be running a list – along with Fisher’s memories – on this blog soon. Let  me hear your nominations.

  • Who is the second-greatest Bronco ever?

    Tue, July 28, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Easy.

    Floyd Little.

    Today, 34 years after his retirement, Little trails only John Elway in Broncos importance. He helped, along with charismatic coach Lou Saban, turn the Broncos into our region’s secular religion. He led the NFL in rushing in 1971. He was one of the most distinctive, thrilling runners in NFL history.

    Who is your pick for the second-greatest? Shannon Sharpe? Randy Gradishar? Rich Jackson? Terrell Davis? Little?

  • Armstrong makes another friend

    Mon, July 27, 2009 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    Alberto Contador wasted little time. Not long after winning the Tour de France, Contador announced he’s not a big fan of Lance Armstrong, the person.

    “My relationship with him is zero,” Contador said. “He’s a great rider … but it is another thing on a personal level, where I have never had great admiration for him and I never will.”

    Contador’s words reminded me of a conversation I had with Jonathan Vaughters in 2005. Vaughters rode on Armstrong’s team at the Tour de France in 1998-99.

    Vaughters was not a big Armstrong fan, either.

    “He kind of lords over you,” Vaughters said.  “It’s not about being a nice guy, you know.”

    Armstrong didn’t take long to respond to Contador’s critique.

    He called Contador’s words “drivel.”

  • Beckham’s newest adventure

    Fri, July 24, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    David Beckham isn’t an American and he’s not converting to our American ways.

    That became obvious once again Thursday when he refused to offer any semblance of an apology for his behavior at halftime of Sunday’s match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and A.C. Milan.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-beckham24-2009jul24,0,4006755.story

    Beckham plays midfielder for the Galaxy. It’s only been couple dozen months since he was the darling of Los Angeles, a beloved star in a city of stars.

    But he’s not been the most loyal employee. He played over the winter for Milan and while there said he wanted to stay. He basically said professional soccer in America was beneath him.

    Devout fans in Los Angeles didn’t appreciate his words. On Sunday, they stood behind banners that offered mean words – “Go Home Fraud” – while shouting insults at Beckham.

    Beckham confronted the fans. He even climbed a fence and for a few seconds looked ready to take on the whole gang. It was an ugly, if exciting,  scene.

    But he’s not saying sorry. It was their problem, not his.

    I appreciate his response. I’ve watched far too many American athletes and coaches “apologize” for behavior that they are not, in their true hearts, sorry about. It’s easy to say you’re sorry and it’s effective. Saying sorry tends to make problems shrink, and it doesn’t seem to matter if the apology is sincere.

    Beckham is English, through and through.

    Would Winston Churchill apologize when he wasn’t really sorry?

    I won’t even answer that question.

  • Oh, those wedding bell blues

    Wed, July 22, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Watched Kesha Nichols on Good Morning America. She’s the former New Jersey Nets dancer who was engaged to NBA star Richard Jefferson. They were scheduled to be married this month.

    And five days before the ceremony, Jefferson called off the wedding.

    With an e-mail.

    Nice personal touch, Richard.  He showed a shocking lack of courage. If you’re going to call off a wedding, isn’t it some kind of requirement that you do the calling off face-to-face?

    Jefferson will play next season for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich, one of the more fearsome creatures on our planet, will eat him alive.

    Nichols was admirably composed during  her interview with the always phony Diane Sawyer, who tried – and failed – to act as if she was Kesha’s new best friend. Nichols said she plans to dance her blues away. She did a great job of not playing the victim, even if she was.

    Jefferson’s behavior was horrid, no doubt.

    But not even close to the topper story in this department.

    You might remember that in 2004 Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer called off his wedding to longtime girlfriend Sonia Flores.

    The Snake called off the wedding 90 minutes before the ceremony. According to legend, his bride-to-be was getting the final touches on her hair when Jake called to drop the news.

    That, my friends, is the topper story for all eternity when it comes to athletes and late escapes.

  • Matt Carpenter’s practice ascent

    Sun, July 19, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Was walking across the summit of Pikes Peak this morning when I ran into Matt Carpenter.

    That should be no surprise. Carpenter sprints to the top of the Peak more often than most of us walk around the block. He has long dominated the Pikes Peak Marathon.

    I asked Carpenter if he had run to the top. Yes, it would seem obvious that he sprinted, but he wasn’t breathing with any difficulty and there was no sign of sweat.

    “What other way is there?” Carpenter said.

    Carpenter, who is training for the Aug. 16 Pikes Peak Marathon, reported he  finished his training run in 2 hours, 37 minutes. That came a day after he ran to the summit in 2 hours, 49 minutes.

    Sunday’s effort was mighty strong for a practice run.

    It would have been good for 12th place in the 2008 Ascent.

  • Uncle Buzz is talking to the NBA … again

    Sat, July 18, 2009 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    One last word on Uncle Buzz, also known as Jeff Bzdelik.

    The Rocky Mountain Independent website reported this week Bzdelik had spoken with the Minnesota Timberwolves about their vacant head coaching  job.

    http://www.rockymountainindependent.com/2009/07/cu-coach-bzdelik-interviews-for-t-wolves-job/

    As you probably know, Bzdelik is currently employed as head coach at the University of Colorado.

    But if you know Uncle Buzz, you know he doesn’t let his current employment get in the way of possible future employment.

    In  the summer of 2006, after only season at Air Force, Bzdelik met with Nuggets coach George Karl at a Village Inn in Denver’s south suburbs. Karl offered an assistant coach’s job. Bzdelik said no, but he did take the meeting.

    Last summer, Bzdelik talked with the Chicago Bulls about a head coaching job.

    This summer, it’s the Timberwolves.

    If you’re a CU fan and also a Uncle Buzz fan, don’t worry.

    It’s not often that a coach who finished 1-15 in conference play jumps to a better job.

  • Elway and almost

    Fri, July 17, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    John Elway didn’t bother to turn around. He was standing in front of his locker in Buffalo, dressing quickly after a needlessly dramatic game.

    It was Oct. 26, 1997. Elway and the Broncos had rolled to a 20-0 lead against the Buffalo Bills and then watched as a quarterback named Alex Van Pelt rallied the Bills.

    Van Pelt pushed the Bills all the way back to a tie at 20.

    Then Elway, who had been lousy for most of the afternoon, pushed the Broncos to a quick drive and a field goal in overtime. The Broncos, on their way to a Super Bowl victory, won 23-20.

    Elway answered question after question from the media horde. He declined to turn around.

    Then I mentioned to Elway that Van Pelt had almost performed a perfect Elway imitation. You know, the late, dramatic rally against all odds. It was Elway’s trademark.

    Elway paused for a moment.

    And finally turned around.

    He stepped up to me and said:

    “Yeah, he did,” Elway said. “Almost is the key word there.”

  • Would coaches and players avoid newspaper reporters if they could?

    Thu, July 16, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Don’t worry. I have an answer to the question:

    No.

    Most coaches and most players embrace the chance to explain their decisions and actions. They can tell fans why they kicked a field goal instead of going for a touchdown or why they made  a substitution when they did or why they ran out-of-bounds or why they took a swing at that curveball or …

    You get the picture. Reporters offer a means for coaches and athletes to explain themselves, and there’s no better time for explaining than after a loss. Silence solves nothing.

    Many, maybe most, fans misunderstand the relationship coaches and athletes have with reporters. Yes, it’s sometimes confrontational and tense, but most of the time it’s friendly. And the anger that does occasionally crash into the relationship usually goes away. Coaches and athletes understand that reporters have a job to do and coaches and athletes also understand that this job usually benefits them.

    Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

    The Denver Broncos cut Maurice Clarett in late August of 2005. Clarett ranked alongside Dale Carter and Daryl (the IHOP Avenger) Gardener as Shanahan’s worst decisions. It was an embarrassing day for Shanahan and the franchise.

    Shanahan faced a  horde of reporters and put his spin on Clarett’s departure. The decision, he said, said more about the Broncos depth than said about Clarett’s lack of effort and talent.

    Later, Shanahan met with several individual  reporters to explain why he took a chance on Clarett. Shanahan didn’t run from reporters. He knew it was a good time for damage control.

    He talked with me one-on-one for several minutes. I brought up Carter and Gardener.

    And he said this:

    “That’s football. That’s life,” he said of his mistakes. “I had a number of guys on the Super Bowl teams that people told me, hey, don’t take a chance on them. A few of those guys were slam-dunk nos, and they performed well for us. They helped us win a couple Super Bowls.”

    I made a point.

    He made a counter-point. His explanation ran in The Gazette for  thousands of fans to consider. 

    That’s how the business works.

    I’m interested in your views on this subject, which has been in the minds of Air Force fans recently after the Falcons greatly reduced reporters’ access to  football players.

    COMING TOMORROW: A look back at a post-game interview with a seemingly ticked off John Elway.

  • Uncle Buzz with the Nuggets

    Wed, July 15, 2009 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Give Jeff Bzdelik this:

    He delivered a great season of coaching.

    It’s easy to forget Bzdelik’s masterful work with the Denver Nuggets in 2003-2004. He took a team from  the bottom – the very bottom – of the NBA to the playoffs. He constructed a vicious,  swarming defense. He expertly handled an often pouty rookie named Carmelo Anthony.

    Bzdelik can coach. He’s a superb strategist. He can push talented players to their zenith.

    Here’s the question that remains hanging over him. It’s a question that has to bother University of Colorado fans:

    Can he recruit?