Thursday, May 17, 2012

Random thoughts on Bill Polian, Buddy Nix, Art Monk & Albert Pujols

Back in January when the Indianapolis Colts fired general manager Bill Polian I suggested the Bills snatch him up in a New York minute. I’d still like to see the Hall of Fame-caliber football architect return to the team he transformed from basement dwellers into perennial Super Bowl participants.
                But I also believe current GM Buddy Nix deserves a chance to reap the fruits of his labor. Nix, who at age 72 is three years older than Polian, has had a whale of an offseason – luring in coveted free agents like Mario Williams, re-signing playmakers such as Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson and addressing several needs via the draft.
                To me, Nix has made all the right moves. Even the signing of the talented but inconsistent Vince Young to a relatively cheap contract to be a backup QB looks like a smart acquisition. It appears that Nix has given coach Chan Gailey the tools he needs to make the playoffs. And I like the fact that Nix, in that folksy style of his, has told coaches, players and the fans that he expects to win now.

                Polian, of course, will be back in Buffalo this fall for his induction onto the Ralph Wilson Stadium Wall of Fame. His selection was a no-brainer and the timing was right because he currently isn’t employed by any NFL team. It still bothers me, though, that neither Cookie Gilchrist nor Lou Saban aren’t on the wall. Gilchrist, the team’s first superstar, and Saban, who coached the Bills to back-to-back AFL crowns and resurrected O.J. Simpson’s football career, are glaring omissions, and should have been enshrined long ago.

                I see where the Los Angeles Angels have decided that batting coach Mickey Hatcher was the reason Albert Pujols, the $254-million man, has gone from being the best hitter of his generation to a punch-and-judy hitter. Can you say  $capegoat?

                 For those of you keeping score at home in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, that’s two jurors ejected for falling asleep while court was in session.  

                I was happy to see Art Monk become the latest person with Syracuse University ties earn induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was a great player on some mediocre Orange teams. But I believe teammate Joe Morris is more deserving. Little Joe rushed for more than 4,000 yards and remains SU’s all-time rushing leader – not bad, considering the lineage of running backs at the school includes Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little and Larry Csonka.

                 Speaking of SU football, coach Doug Marrone received some great news yesterday when highly regarded receiver Quinta Funderburk announced he was transferring from Arkansas. Funderburk (love that name) is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound wideout who caught 64 passes for 1,412 yards and 15 touchdowns for Oscar Smith High School in Chesepeake, Va., two autumns ago. The four-star recruit had chosen Arkansas over USC, Florida, Michigan, Penn State and Clemson. He did not play in any games last fall, so he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out this season at SU.

                I’m happy to announce that my 15th book – Johnny Antonelli: A Baseball Memoir – is out and available at,  and Barnes & Noble. Antonelli, a five-time Naitonal League All-Star and World Series hero, is the finest born-and-bred baseball player in Rochester history and became even more successful as an entrepreneur in the tire business following his playing career.
                Johnny, 82, will be inducted into the Adult Recreation Association Hall of Fame at Red Fedele’s Brook House in Greece Sunday at 5. Joining him will be fellow inductees Dick O’Toole, Al Russo, John Risolo, Rocco DiPonzio, Brian Murphy and Dick Webster.
                Johnny and I will be signing books at 4 and will conduct a 10-15-minute question-and-answer session about his extraordinary career during the banquet. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at the door or by contacting Ron Evangelista at 585-764-6500 or
                I’ll have more information about our book and future signings in an upcoming blog.

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