2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Give Fells some credit; Tebow didn’t score 18 points all by himself against the Dolphins

    Fri, October 28, 2011 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Talked with Daniel Fells yesterday at Broncos training facility. Fells, a tight end, delivered the play of the game Sunday against the Dolphins with his diving catch of a Tim Tebow pass in the dying moments of regulation. The catch led to a touchdown and the game-tying 2-point conversion.

    It’s not Tebow’s fault that virtually everyone acts as if he scored 18 points by himself. This reveals how many – including me at times – simplify a complex game. The quarterback is the hero or the villain and that’s used to explain everything.

    If Fells doesn’t make his catch, the Broncos almost certainly lose the game. That’s the truth.

    Did Tebow get too much credit for the comeback?

    Fells laughed.

    That’s the nature of the game, Fells said. When a team wins, everyone rushes to the quarterback and offers praise. When a team loses, everyone rushes to the quarterback and offers scorn.

    “That’s the way it is,” Fells said. “And I’m fine with that.”

    But wasn’t the late, crucial completion a much better catch than throw?

    Fells showed wisdom, if not complete honesty, in his answer.

    “I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “He put it the only place he could put it.”

    While the ball was in flight, Fells wasn’t sure he would come down with the catch.

    But once he placed his hands on the football, he was sure. He had the ball, and he was not going to let it go.

    Here’s a quick 14-second video of Fells’ great catch:


  • A look back at Dee Dowis and his unlikely success at Air Force (With funny, fantastic video highlights)

    Wed, October 26, 2011 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Watched Dee Dowis highlights for the first time ever last night at Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame dinner.

    Let me make this clear:

    I was dazzled.

    Football is the best sport for highlights. I grew up watching highlights from the golden age of football highlights. You could sense the magnificence of Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Gale Sayers and John Mackey after watching only a few minutes of their highlight footage.

    Same is true for Dowis.

    He carried the ball with one hand, which is a practice that infuriates football coaches everywhere. Fisher DeBerry kept telling Dowis to properly carry the football, and Dowis kept politely saying he would and then kept carrying the ball in his signature style.

    Last night, I watched Dowis carry the ball the wrong way to the right destination. Yes, Dowis broke sacred football rules. He also scored 41 touchdowns for the Falcons and finished sixth in 1989 Heisman voting.

    He was an unlikely college success story, perhaps the most unlikely in Air Force football history. (Chad Hall is right up there with Dowis.)

    When DeBerry traveled to Georgia in 1985 to recruit Dowis, he saw a 5-foot-10, 148-pound quarterback who looked fully ready to lead a team.

    A junior high team.

    But DeBerry took a chance on Dowis. He saw something other recruiters missed.

    DeBerry’s risk was rewarded. No doubt about that.

    Dowis was ridiculously quick, and he had a inborn talent that cannot be taught.

    Like Hall, Dowis had a natural instinct for open spaces. He knew how to travel where tacklers were not. This is one of the most underrated gifts in sports, a gift shared by Dowis,  Hall, Terrell Davis and very few others.

    Here’s an 82-second highlight reel that includes several of Dowis’ most spectacular sprints to the end zone. Be sure to check out the move at the 1-minute mark of the video. It’s amazing. Truly amazing.



  • Can Air Force – can anybody – find much joy in an 11-point loss?

    Mon, October 24, 2011 by David Ramsey with 4 comments

    I thought Air Force played its best game of the season in Saturday’s loss to Boise State. The Falcons moved the ball consistently, and the defensive effort was not a disaster.

    Yes, I’m aware Air Force defeated Navy. I was standing on the field in Annapolis for much of the catastrophic fourth quarter. Air Force played three superb quarters followed by one of the worst quarters in the program’s history.  It was a shaky, not solid, victory. The Falcons won, but they played with more consistency and at a higher level against  Boise State, which is a legit top 5 team. Navy hasn’t beaten anyone of note this season and probably won’t beat anyone of note. This looks to be the weakest Navy team since 2002.

    So how much can a team – any team – get from an 11-point defeat? Remember, this edition of the Falcons was expected to climb into the nation’s top 25.

    Is there reason to celebrate, even in defeat?

    Let me know what you think.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz


  • Tim Tebow returns to Florida for important game that could reveal the future of Tebow-mania

    Fri, October 21, 2011 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Tebow-mania is upon us, but Tebow-mania won’t last unless Tim Tebow delivers.

    He’s shown promise.  He’s shown hints he was worth his selection in the first round by the Denver Broncos. He’s jolted several million Broncos fans awake after they had slumbered through three painfully boring seasons.

    But now he has to make good on his promises.

    This weekend’s journey to South Florida could send Tebow-mania shooting to the heights.

    And he could begin to expose himself as just another college superstar quarterback who failed when he tried to find success in the NFL. There are plenty of these failed superstars – Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, Andrew Ware, Matt Leinert. I could go on.

    Tebow could not ask for a better opportunity on the road. The Miami Dolphins have lost 11 of their last 12 games at Sun Life Stadium. Tebow won a state high school championship at the stadium and a national title game with Florida. His teammates from the 2008 national champs will be honored at halftime. I’m thinking more than half the fans at Sun Life will be cheering for Tebow instead of the Dolphins.

    And yet …

    The Dolphins defense will be intensely motivated. Yes, the Dolphins are ranked No. 26 out of 32 teams in total defense, but these defenders will know the eyes of the football nation are watching.

    And these defenders also know Tebow’s passing numbers. He’s completed 45 of 92 passes as a Broncos for 733 yards. That’s not impressive.

    His rushing numbers are impressive – 264 yards on 50 carries, a 5.3 average – but the Dolphins will employ a “spy” who will watch Tebow’s every move in the pocket. Running is Tebow’s great strength, and NFL defensive coordinators make their living taking away strengths.

    Tebow will find success – or failure – in the NFL with his left arm, not his legs. He’s our planet’s second-best quarterback/runner behind Mike Vick. He’s not in the top five dozen as a passer. He must develop in the pocket if he wants to remain an NFL starter.

    If the Broncos lose Sunday to tumble to 1-5, the Tebow circus will not go away,  but all this frenzied excitement about the Tebow circus will diminish.

    This is a grand opportunity for Tebow, who might have been the most popular backup in NFL history. For months, the talk has been about what Tebow would do if given the chance.

    His chance is here.

    His supporters, and they are legion, believe in him completely. I’ve heard him compared several times to John Elway. I believe this is an overstatement of the highest degree.

    But I don’t control Tebow’s future.

    Tebow does.

    I believe he’ll lead the Broncos to victory on Sunday. The main reason for my belief is the Dolphins are atrocious. It will be a nice victory. Nothing more.

    A Broncos defeat would be devastating, and I’m not sure Tebow-mania would ever blaze quite so brightly again.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz




  • Boise State coach Chris Petersen shows class, asks Broncos fans to cheer Air Force players

    Thu, October 20, 2011 by David Ramsey with 4 comments

    Boise State coach Chris Petersen has asked fans to show support for the Air Force Falcons this  Saturday. This is a classy request, and I predict Boise fans will follow  their coach’s instruction.

    “When Air Force comes into our stadium, we need to applaud those guys,” Petersen said this week to Boise radio station KBOI. “No booing whatsoever. We need to salute them and we need to applaud them.”

    When Air Force visited Oklahoma last season, Sooners coach Bob Stoops made a request a few days before the game for fans to show support. Then Stoops appeared in a pregame video that again asked for applause from Sooners fans.

    The requests worked. Oklahoma fans rose to applaud the Falcons. Not as loudly as they applauded the Sooners, but it was an impressive display of affection for the enemy.

    Before you get too carried away with admiration for Petersen, let me offer one last item from his radio show.

    Petersen, according to Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy, also asked  Boise fans to get as loud as humanly possible once the game starts.

    Petersen doesn’t, he said, want Air Force players to be able to hear.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • The sad story of Sammy Schafer, who could have given Air Force basketball a big boost

    Wed, October 19, 2011 by David Ramsey with 4 comments

    Really sad to hear Sammy Schafer will not be able to again play basketball for Air Force.

    In the dark days of 2008-2009, when the Falcons had tumbled to the very bottom of college basketball, Schafer served as a towering, encouraging beacon of light. He was a ridiculously skinny, always hustling freshman center. He stood 6-foot-11 and weighed 201 pounds (at best) but he understood the game and he was alone on that team in his understanding of the Princeton offense.

    His potential was obvious. So was his contagious spirit. His teammates moped around, but Schafer played as if he were attending a wild, happy party. He shook his fists and shouted with joy after blocking shots and slapped his teammates on the back. Those teammates resembled mourners at a funeral.

    But Sammy always – always – was having a good time, even in defeat.

    “Basketball to me is first of all a game, and I’m going out to have fun. I’m out there to learn about life and to enjoy it,” Sammy told me after an especially ugly defeat to Vegas during his freshman season.

    He would have added bulk and eventually become a force in the middle. His big brother, Ray, had been skinny but had transformed to mighty. Ray, then playing pro ball in Japan, weighed 250 pounds. Sammy was headed to the same destination. He might have become an all-Mountain West performer kind of player by his senior season.

    Schafer suffered  a concussion early in his sophomore season and later struggled with post-concussion troubles. He’s still struggling. He talked with The Gazette’s Frank Schwab this week and said he won’t be able to return to the academy or to the basketball team.

    He had a special spirit. His optimism was unconquerable. He was a symbol of better days ahead even while the Falcons were getting massacred night after night.

    Those better days have arrived, but he’s not here to enjoy them.

    And that’s sad.

    Deeply sad.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz


  • Memories of Air Force football upsets? Let me hear from you

    Tue, October 18, 2011 by David Ramsey with 9 comments

    Am preparing a column on Air Force’s 20-17 overtime defeat of Notre Dame at South Bend in 1996. Fighting Irish were 21-point favorites. Fighting Irish had pounded Air Force, 44-14, at Falcon Stadium.

    Air Force had no chance. Air Force won anyway.

    As Falcons prepare to invade Boise, what are your memories of upsets from the past?

    Let me hear from you.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz



  • Air Force should NOT play in same conference as Navy. Here’s why:

    Thu, October 13, 2011 by David Ramsey with 6 comments

    There’s an obvious reason why Air Force should avoid residing in a conference with Navy or Army.

    Other conference teams will be forced to prepare more diligently and more fully for a run-based option attack. Yes, I know the three service institutions don’t run exactly the same  option.

    But it’s easy to see how the Falcons will suffer if they join up with Navy and Army. (And, yes, I know Army has all but said it will remain independent, which is the easiest road to take  in college football. You could say traveling the indy route is … No, I’m not going to go there.)

    If Navy plays, say, Louisville before Air Force plays Louisville, the Midshipmen would probably roll to 300 yards rushing while the Cardinals tried to figure out the option. When Louisville’s defense faced Air Force, the Cardinals would be ready. I’d predict the Falcons’ rushing output would drop by at least 100 yards. Precision is a big part of Air Force’s rushing success, but so is novelty. Defenses can’t stop what they don’t understand.

    And this sequence would be true in reverse. Air Force would flourish if it saw a team first, and then Navy would suffer.

    Jumping to the Big East is a bad idea for several reasons. Reason No. 1 is it’s not certain the conference will even exist in a couple years, and that might be an optimistic number.

    Two, Air Force student/athletes would be forced to take long journeys two time zones away for games. There’s no way these epic trips will aid these student/athletes in their studies or their training as officers. Said it before; will say it again: geography matters.

    Three, many devoted fans will feel abandoned by this long journey to the wrong destination. They will  face major obstacles in attending games.

    Four is a purely football problem. Joining the Big East with the Midshipmen would drain the novelty of Air Force’s option attack.

    Will return this evening to offer pregame prediction and thoughts about Air Force-San Diego State game at Falcon Stadium. Hope you’ll join me.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll  join me there, too. @davidramz


  • Air Force defensive starters show class, refuse to make excuses for Notre Dame disaster

    Wed, October 12, 2011 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Saturday was a long afternoon for Air Force fans and for anyone who enjoys watching competitive football. Many of you dwell in the first category. I dwell in the second.

    I expected a strong Air Force performance at Notre Dame Stadium. Thought the Falcons would deliver a strong challenge to the Fighting Irish, especially after the way Navy steamrolled Notre Dame last season.

    It was the worst Air Force performance I’ve witnessed since 2004 when Aaron Rodgers and Cal bombarded the Falcons at Falcon Stadium. The defense allowed 42 points in the first half, and Notre Dame coaches could have flirted with 75 points if they had been in the mood.

    But there was one suggestion of better days ahead.

    The Falcons defense has been ravaged by injury, but Falcons defenders barely mentioned their troubles after the defeat. They declined to whine.

    This is always a good sign.

    Defensive back Jon Davis said he was left reeling by the defense’s performance against Notre Dame and by its performance in the fourth quarter against Navy. The Falcons allowed 60 points in three quarters.

    “It bothers me and it bothers the entire team,” Davis said. “I know a lot of people say the defense isn’t as good as it was and it bothers me completely. It’s all on us. We’re not doing what we have to do to make plays.”

    Linebacker Jordan Waiwaiole took the same stern approach. It’s always a strong idea to take a stern approach with yourself after failure.

    “That’s terrible. That’s disgusting,” Waiwaiole said of Notre Dame’s 42-point first-half outburst. “That’s something that you cannot have happen.”

    San Diego State rolls into town on Thursday, armed with Ronnie Hillman, one of the better running backs in Mountain West history. Here’s the nice thing about sports:

    There’s always a chance at redemption. The Falcons defense, still depleted, can chase away memories of a long afternoon in South Bend.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz


  • Are these bad times for Air Force? Yes. Even worse times for the Midshipmen of Navy? Definitely.

    Tue, October 11, 2011 by David Ramsey with 16 comments

    Air Force fans are stumbling around in pain after watching the Fighting Irish deliver a wicked slap upside the head to the Falcons.

    But Navy fans are suffering from an even deeper feeling of devastation and humiliation.

    Southern Miss scored touchdowns on nine of 13 possessions while destroying the Midshipmen, 63-35. Like Air Force’s game against Notre Dame, the score is deceptive. Southern Miss rolled to 28-0, 35-7 and 42-14 leads. The Midshipmen were utterly dominated.

    I’ve often criticized the Midshipmen for their weak schedule, which is, of course, one of the main attractions of taking the independent route.

    But I have to give Navy credit for a relatively tough schedule this season. Maybe that’s why Navy is 2-3 and has given up 122 points in three losses. Tough games for Navy have led to big losses.

    Big East officials might want to consider just how much they want Air Force and Navy in the conference fold. It was a horrendous weekend for service-academy football.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz