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Nene is a fine human being. He’s a good teammate. He’s kind to children.
He’s not worth $67 million over five seasons.
He’s being overpaid by, oh, $27 million or so by the Denver Nuggets. Nene barely hovers above mediocrity. For this, he will be paid more than $13 million per season.
NBA owners locked out players in the name of economic sanity. The crazy spending of yesteryear was over, the owners said.
Then, immediately after the lockout ends, the money behind the New Jersey Nets offered Nene $15 million a season, or $60 million over four years.
This served as a loud announcement.
The NBA’s economic insanity had survived the shutdown.
Sports Illustrated is once again featuring Tim Tebow on its cover. This is his eighth appearance on the SI cover; six from his days with the Florida Gators and two from his brief career with the Broncos.
There’s been a slight backlash about all the attention directed toward Tebow. This is understandable. You could say – and I would say – that rookie linebacker Von Miller has enjoyed as strong a season as Tebow, but the eyes of the nation have not exactly fallen on Miller.
The SI cover story makes an attempt to spread the praise. Staff writer Jim Trotter gives credit to the Broncos coaching staff, to the revived, suddenly rugged defense and, yes, to Tebow.
Here’s more on the story from SI’s blog:
In today’s column, I wonder along with Broncos receiver Eric Decker about what Tim Tebow might do to the NFL if the QB could carry his fourth-quarter heroics into the first three quarters.
Here’s the column:
There is no doubt Tebow was magnificent in the fourth quarter and overtime of Sunday’s 13-10 win over the Chicago Bears. There also is no doubt he struggled mightily in the first three quarters. Yes, I saw all the dropped passes, but receivers were not the only problem.
Tebow takes a long time – far too long – to get warmed up in a game.
At Sunday’s post-game press conference, I asked him to explain his slow-starting style. (It was tough to get in a question. There was a large media horde listening to Tebow’s words.)
“I guess I just gotta get to the stadium and start practicing a little bit earlier,” Tebow said, laughing. His laughter started laughter in the entire room, which was filled with three dozen media types and a couple dozen fans who had nothing to do with the media.
“Just got to go back to the drawing board and find a way to get a little bit better in practice and try to improve and just try to get better as a quarterback and a player and find a way to get this offense in the end zone early.”
Then Tebow explained more fully what happens to him in the fourth quarter.
“Coach [Urban] Meyer always preached at Florida, and Coach [John] Fox always says it here. Coach Meyer always said ‘competitive excellence.’ When you’re number is called; when it really matters, you’re going to step up. And Coach Fox calls it ‘competitive greatness.’ It pretty much means the same thing: When you’re number’s called in the clutch time you better step up and make the play. I’m just proud that a lot of the guys on this team are like that, from our receivers to our offensive line to the defense to [K Matt] Prater to [P] Britton [Colquitt]. I’m just trying to improve every day.”
Still, the mind boggles. What if the Tebow we see in the fourth quarter became the Tebow we see for the entire game?
I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz
Here’s Part Two of our talk with Fisher DeBerry about the most memorable moments of his career at Air Force Academy.
DEC. 5, 1998, WAC CHAMPIONSHIP, LAS VEGAS, AIR FORCE 20, BRIGHAM YOUNG 13
DeBerry struggled against Brigham Young for much of his Air Force career, but the Falcons – on their way to the second 12-1 record of DeBerry’s career rode to a tough victory over the Cougars in the WAC title game.
Brigham Young moved inside the AFA 20-yard line seven times, but came away with only 13 points.
“This is the sweetest win I’ve ever had,” DeBerry said minutes after the game.
Dec. 2, 2001, FALCON STADIUM, AIR FORCE 38, UTAH 37
The Falcons came into the final game of the 2001 season in a depressing state of disarray. They had lost five of six games, including a 52-20 drubbing at Hawaii.
After the Hawaii debacle, DeBerry discovered several of his players had violated curfew. He called a meeting, just him and the players, and demanded those who had missed curfew stand up and admit their mistake.
“I give them credit,” DeBerry said in 2009. “Twelve who were men stood up and said they had not upheld expectations before the game. They said they had let their brothers down.”
DeBerry had to decide what to do next. It was one of the most excruciating times of his career.
“While we were crossing the Pacific, I was thinking about this and praying about this. I asked God to give me the wisdom as to what to do,” DeBerry said.
“I decided that the responsibility we had to each other was more important than one game. It killed me. It broke my heart. I meant that the seniors wouldn’t get a chance to play their last game, but the lesson learned was more important than one game.”
DeBerry suspended 12 players, including four starters. Utah arrived in Colorado Springs with a 7-3 record. AFA had no prospect of a bowl bid, and the Falcons were depleted after the suspensions.
But the AFA offense responded with a powerful performance, although it didn’t look as if it would be quite enough.
In the final seconds, Utah drove to the Air Force 4-yard line. Utah had no timeouts, and quarterback Lance Rice was told by coaches to spike the ball. He didn’t understand the instruction and tried to score on a keeper.
Freshman linebacker Anthony Schlegel, destined to leave AFA to play for Ohio State (and later to play in the NFL) chased down Rice on the sideline and wrestled him to the ground as time expired.
“I just fetched him,” Schlegel said.
DeBerry walked off the field with one of his biggest – and least likely – victories. He had stood on principle and won a game, too. It was quite a combo.
OCT. 5, 2002, FALCON STADIUM, AIR FORCE 48, NAVY 7
For most of his career, DeBerry dominated Army and Navy. This was his sixth straight win over the Midshipmen, and it looked as if the Falcons would punish Navy and win the Commander in Chief’s Trophy forever. After all, DeBerry had beaten Navy 17 times in 19 tries. He had beaten Navy by 28 or more points five times. Navy fans are still haunted by the pain and humiliation of this era. (Trust me on this one. I hear from haunted Navy fans all the time. They’ll never forgive DeBerry for all the defeats he heaped on their heads.)
Times were about to change in 2002. Paul Johnson was the new coach at Navy, and he was polishing his own version of the option offense. When this game ended, many of the Midshipmen spent several minutes staring at the scoreboard while vowing they never would forget the agony.
DeBerry never beat Navy again.
SEPT. 9, 2006, KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE 31, AIR FORCE 30
The 2005 season ranks as the worst of the DeBerry era. After starting 2-0, the Falcons lost seven of their last nine. DeBerry badly wanted a comeback season.
And he almost got off to the perfect start.
The Falcons were down 31-17 midway through the fourth quarter. They had not forced the Volunteers to punt. They looked finished.
They weren’t. AFA’s Julian Madrid intercepted a pass by Erik Ainge with 6:35 left, leading to a 12-play Falcon scoring drive that cut the lead to 31-24. AFA converted a fourth-and-10 pass on the drive to stay alive.
Air Force recovered the onside kick and quickly drove to the Volunteers 1-yard line, where Ryan Williams powered in for the score. Suddenly, the Falcons trailed, 31-30, and DeBerry faced a decision with 95 seconds left.
If you knew DeBerry, you knew what he would do. In 1982, the Falcons had gone for two in a come-from-behind upset at Brigham Young.
Nothing had changed in 2006.
DeBerry called his players together. He was going for two. He was going, once again, for the win.
“Nobody can stop you,” DeBerry shouted to his offense. “We’re going to win this game. I can’t wait to see 106,000 broken hearts.”
Actually, there were only 105,466 hearts to break.
The Falcons went to halfback Chad Hall on a run play that had baffled the Vols all night.
But not this time. Hall was immediately tackled by Xavier Mitchell.
“I just bled so much for our players,” DeBerry said in his Oklahoma living room. “They played their hearts out and they played good enough to win. But I did the right thing. If I had to do it all over again, I’d call the same play.”
Nov. 24, 2006, LAS VEGAS, UNLV 42, AIR FORCE 39
After a promising 2-1 start that included the oh-so-close loss to Tennessee, the Falcons collapsed. They lost seven of their final nine games, including four straight to end the season.
But this night was the worst. UNLV had lost 20 of its previous 22 Mountain West games. UNLV had scored a total of 13 points in the first quarters of its previous 11 games.
UNLV scored 14 points in the first quarter against AFA and rolled to 30 first downs. The Rebels might have flirted with 60 points if they hadn’t lost three fumbles.
It was the end of a long, mostly happy journey.
DeBerry resigned less than a month later.
I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz
We’re looking back on Fisher’s career in honor of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Fisher joined the ranks of the Hall of Famers Tuesday night in New York City.
This is a selection that starts in 1981, when DeBerry worked as AFA’s offensive coordinator, and runs until his final season, 2006. We’ll run the first half of Fisher’s list today, and the second half will be posted tomorrow.
Feel free to add your favorite Fisher memories. And, please, take a look at Sunday’s and Monday’s stories in The Gazette about DeBerry and his career.
Here we go:
NOV. 29, 1981, TOKYO, AIR FORCE 21, SAN DIEGO STATE 16
As the 1981 season ended, the Falcons remained a hurting program. AFA had lost 65 of its previous 85 games. In 1978, Bill Parcells walked away from the program after only one season as head coach. DeBerry and head coach Ken Hatfield were struggling to convince players the run-dominated Wishbone – later known as the Fishbone – would ease the program’s troubles.
Playing in the packed Olympic Memorial Stadium in Tokyo, the Falcons had not scored at halftime.
At halftime, DeBerry heard several SDSU players joking about their dominance. The players, DeBerry said, were sure they would shut out the Falcons.
This inspired DeBerry, who in turn sought to inspire the Falcons.
“They don’t think we can score,” DeBerry said.
With the Wishbone clicking, the Falcons dominated possession and seized the victory. The win, DeBerry said, transformed the program. The Falcons went on to six straight winning seasons.
“It taught us about believing in our offense,” DeBerry said. “It made us realize that our strategy was our best hope. It kept the other offense off the field. There’s no better offense than the option at a service academy.”
SEPT. 25, 1982, PROVO, UTAH, AIR FORCE 39, BYU 38
The Falcons drive 99 yards in the game’s final 90 seconds to give themselves a chance tie the game. But that’s not what the Falcons choose to do. They win the game with a two-point conversion. The teams combine for 948 total yards. The Falcons defeat a deep, talented BYU team led by quarterback Steve Young.
It could not have been more dramatic. With 17 seconds left, and the Falcons driving, AFA quarterback Marty Louthan throws an interception. The game, it seems, is over. But the Cougars are called for roughing-the-passer, and the Falcons keep the ball.
Seconds later, Louthan finds Mike Brown in the end zone. AFA trails 38-37.
“There wasn’t any question in my mind,” DeBerry said, his voice rising on an Oklahoma afternoon. “We were going for two. We were not going to tie. We were going for the stinkin’ win.”
Head coach Ken Hatfield agrees. The Falcons go for two. Mike Brown runs “the old C pattern” and wrestles the ball away from two BYU defenders. The big stadium, jammed with BYU supporters, goes virtually silent.
Everyone is shocked.
Well, everyone except DeBerry.,
“I had a premonition about that game,” DeBerry said. “I had told Kenny Hatfield days before we would win the game with a two-point conversion.”
OCT. 5, 1985, FALCON STADIUM, AIR FORCE 21, NOTRE DAME 15
With 5:28 left, the Fighting Irish lead 15-13 and are lining up for a field goal. AFA’s Terry Maki surges through the line, blocks the kick and the ball bounces into the arms of A.J. Scott, who sprints down the sideline right in front of the Notre Dame bench.
“I was so scared he’s going to step out-of-bounds,” DeBerry said. “I was so scared.”
Scott had the same fear. As he sprinted, he shouted at himself, “Stay in. Stay in.”
“I’m glad,” Scott said that day, “my legs listened.”
Scott ran 77 yards to the end zone. Pandemonium follows.
The Irish offense, directed by Steve Beuerlein (later to play for the Broncos) had moved inside the AFA 30-yard-line seven times, but it didn’t matter. The Falcons beat Notre Dame for the fourth straight season.
Nov. 16, 1985, PROVO, UTAH, BRIGHAM YOUNG 28, AIR FORCE 21
The 9-0 Falcons are dreaming, incredibly enough, of a berth in the Fiesta Bowl and a chance at the national title. The Falcons play sensational defense for most of the afternoon, intercepting Robbie Bosco four times and sacking him seven times. The Falcons grab a 21-7 lead.
And the Falcons still lose, thanks for Val Sikahema.
Sikahema dances to a 72-yard punt return to cut into AFA’s lead and then ices the game with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Bosco on third and 16.
Oct. 3, 1986, SALT LAKE CITY, AIR FORCE 45, UTAH 35
At halftime, the Utes led 35-14. Left-handed quarterback Larry Egger is shredding the Falcons. He’s completed 26 passes for three touchdowns and 348 yards … in two quarters.
As you might expect, DeBerry is not happy. He delivers an impassioned halftime speech to his players.
“Guys, you know, if you think you’re beat, you are, but if you don’t believe you’re beat, we can win. Now, if you think you’re beat, I’ll go next door and tell the Utah coach that we quit, we’re packing up, we’re going home.”
The speech works. The Falcons revive and win with shocking ease.
“That was one of the greatest comebacks in the history of college football,” DeBerry said minutes after the game.
NOV. 16, 1996, FRESNO, CALIF., AIR FORCE 44, FRESNO STATE 38
But the comeback in California tops the comeback in Salt Lake.
At halftime, Fresno State lead 31-3, which leads to another fervent DeBerry speech.
“We’re not out of it unless we believe we’re out of this,” DeBerry said, echoing his words from 1986. “If you believe like I believe, we will come back and we will win.”
He ended with a shout:
The Falcons still trail, 38-17, at the end of the third quarter, but quarterback Beau Morgan leads a furious surge. With 39 seconds left, Morgan hits Dustin Tyner with a 17-yard touchdown to force overtime.
In OT, Morgan scores from 2 yards to win the game.
Tomorrow: More of the memorable moments.
I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz
Always thought Richard Bachman left Colorado College a year too early. Yes, he had shown promise during a strong two-season CC career, but these were only hints of his potential.
He wasn’t ready for the pros. Not yet.
He’s struggling this season for the Texas Stars, the Dallas Stars’ minor-league affiliate, but injuries to the parent club’s rosters might give Bachman a chance. Kari Lehtonen is out with a groin injury, opening a spot for Bachman.
Bachman lacks the size of a typical NHL goaltender, but he’s hoping to make up for it with technique and desire. He might get his chance in December to prove what he can do. He did deliver a superb season in 2010-2011 for the Texas Stars.
Here’s a story from ESPN about Bachman and his future:
David Ramsey has written sports columns for The Gazette for 10 years. He's visited all 50 states, and he's wise enough to realize Colorado is the best of those 50.
He's a graduate of Denver South High School, Abilene Christian University and Syracuse University, where he earned a master's degree in American History in 2003. He's placed nine times in the national Asssociated Press Sports Editors (APSE) contest, including two first-place finishes. He's covered the Athens, Beijing and London Olympics for The Gazette. He's the father of Ruth, a Rampart High grad, and Luke and Caleb, both grads of Pikes Peak Christian. He's an avid cyclist. He hopes to climb Mount Massive this summer, but he says that every year.
Gazette sports columnist David Ramsey brings you the personal side of sports along with his personal analysis. You can follow him on Twitter @davidlukeramsey