Thursday, February 4, 2010

Catching up on Wesley Johnson's fall, DeHaven's return and other sporting topics

Sorry folks for the sparse verbiage of late, but I had three books coming due at once, so my words have flowed elsewhere.

That said, it's time to play a little catchup:

* That scary tumble Wesley Johnson took during the Syracuse basketball game the other night evoked sad memories of what happened to late Rochester Royals star Maurice Stokes. Like Johnson, Stokes was undercut while way up in the air, but unfortunately, Stokes landed on his head and wound up almost dying. He suffered encephylitis - swelling of the brain - and never walked or talked again. Fortunately, his teammate, Jack Twyman, became his legal guardian and he and his family looked after Stokes for the rest of his life. Their friendship is one of the truly compelling sports stories of all-time.

* I'm happy to see Bruce DeHaven back in Buffalo as special teams coach. He clearly was made a scapegoat for the Music City Miracle kickoff return that bounced the Bills from the playoffs back in 2000. DeHaven played a pivotal role in Buffalo's extraordinary special teams during the Super Bowl run of the early 1990s. It's too bad the Bills lost special teams guru Bobby April, but landing DeHaven clearly lessens that loss.

* That's incredible that there will be 34,000-plus at the Dome for Syracuse's game against 'Nova later this month, but I'm just wondering why they capped it at that number. One of these days it would be neat to try to move the basketball court to the middle of the football field and shoot for 40,000 or 45,000.

* I get a kick out of people who try to instantly grade college football recruiting classes. NFL teams spend millions of dollars researching prospective pro players and they still get it wrong more than 50 percent of the time. So, when you're attempting to project what kind of college players 17- and 18-year-old high school kids will become, the odds you're going to be wrong are even higher.

* It's great to see former Bills Frank Reich and Pete Metzelaars having success as assistant coaches with the Indianapolis Colts. They are classy guys who deserve another shot at the ring that eluded them in Buffalo.

* I'm happy that Dick Jauron landed the defensive back coach's job with the Philadelphia Eagles. I always thought he was a decent man, who just didn't have what it took to be an NFL head coach.

* And while we're on the subject of former Bills head coaches, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will be facing one of his toughest chess matches when he tries to stop the cerebral Peyton Manning. If Williams somehow managed to befuddle the Colts Hall of Fame QB, he could put himself back in the running for another NFL head coaching job.

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