The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Former Port Neches-Groves football great Robert Giblin is thinking about adding his name to the list of plaintiffs in Beaumont attorney Walter Umphrey’s concussion lawsuit against the NFL. If Giblin, who played for the NY Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, does join the suit, he’ll be coming from a truly unique perspective. Now retired, he was an attorney with Provost-Umphrey for years, and was part of its legal team that earned billions in a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. “I saw where Walter said this is a lot like the tobacco case and I totally agree,” Giblin said. Giblin added he can recall “two lights-out concussions” as an NFL player, and several others which left “cobwebs.” If he does become a plantiff, Giblin says it will have a lot to do with Umphrey taking the case. “I’d been contacted by about 30 or 40 attorneys,” he said. “Once I found out Walter was getting involved, it gave this issue a lot more credibility to me. He’s really savvy about the issues he takes on.” . . . The one former Southeast Texas schoolboy star who is already a plaintiff in the NFL suit, Thomas Jefferson grad Gary Hammond, got involved when former Dallas Cowboys great Lee Roy Jordan ask him to head up a committee to invite former players to join the suit. According to Hammond, it was a tough call for him, even though he suffered serious concussions and fears the aftermath. “I was raised by a wonderful man who did not believe in suing,” he said. “So it has been perplexing at the least for me to be a part of this.”
Maybe it’s a reach, but I can’t help but think former TJ coach Ronnie Thompson and Todd Dodge, his schoolboy All-America QB in 1980, deserve at least a tad of credit for the unprecedented selection of three one time Texas schoolboy QBs — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill — being taken in the first eight picks the NFL draft. Thompson started what was a gradual transition in Texas high school coaching philosophy from wishbone, veer-oriented football with his ahead-of-its time offense at TJ. Dodge then made throwing the ball all over the place really fashionable with his dynamic spread offenses that led to a 79-1 run at Southlake Carroll. After that, the explosion of 7-on-7 summer football completed a transition that’s made Texas a quarterback gold mine . . . So how much QB gold has the NFL mined from Texas in recent years? In the league’s 2011 season openers, there were six Lone Star-groomed starting QBs — New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, Cleveland’s Colt McCoy, Arizona’s Kevin Kolb, Jacksonville’s Luke McCown and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton — on the field. Two more Texans — Minnesota’s Christian Ponder and Vince Young in Philadelphia — started games during the season. With Luck and Griffin expected to start immediately in 2012, and Tannehill likely to start at some point, there could be double digit QB starters from Texas. Especially, if McCoy holds on to his job in Cleveland and Young finds a favorable landing spot . . . Lots of amazing things happened in the first round of the NFL draft, but could anything be more amazing than Boise State having more players selected than Texas and Texas A&M combined. Broncos OLB Shea McClellin was taken No. 19 by the Bears and running back Doug Martin went No. 31 to Tampa Bay. Tannehill was the only Aggie or Longhorn taken on day one.
Wade Phillips’ tongue-in-cheek humor apparently created somewhat of an uproar in the blogosphere after the Texans’ took Illinois defense end Whitney Mercilus with their first pick. Wade, after talking about what a terrific prospect he considers Mercilus to be, jokingly said, “Also, I forget to tell everybody when I signed my contract with Mr. McNair, he said that we could get a first round pick on defense every year.” Some folks took it literally that McNair had guaranteed Phillips the Texans’ would take a defensive player in the first round as long as he was there . . . It’s not often I think about feeling sorry for Jerry Jones, but I almost did in the aftermath of Dallas making off with LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Jethro made a nifty move to trade up to the No. 6 pick and grabbed the highest rated CB in the draft. Pundit reaction was somewhat mixed, however, after it was made public that Claiborne posted the second lowest score ever — a 4 — on the NFL’s 50-question Wonderlic test. Claiborne’s explanation was that he didn’t take the test seriously because others told him it wasn’t a big deal. Sounds like the perfect fit for Jones. On balance, though, Claiborne looks like a serious upgrade in Dallas’ secondary . . . Surely nobody is surprised that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is considering doing away with the Pro Bowl. The only thing most players like about the Pro Bowl is the recognition and contract bonuses that come with it. Many of them in recent years have taken to finding reasons not to play, or to just go through the motions to try and avoid injury. Last year’s game was a total farce. Maybe the NFL can still go through with the selection process, then have players compete in tug of war or basketball or maybe even Wonderlic tests.
Nobody will be paying closer attention to how the Lamar State College-Port Arthur basketball coaching search plays out more than former head coach Matt Cross. Cross contends he was told by another coach during the season that he was going to be shoved out the door in a power play by athletic director Scott Street, and replaced by a former pro coach with a money guy behind him. Like so many others, he also heard talk that Beaumonter Jerry Nelson, aka Crazy Jerry, wanted Steve Tucker, his former coach with the Southeast Wildcatters, hired, and was offering money to help the school build dorms if it happened. Lo and behold, Tucker, who hasn’t coached on the college or junior college level in over 10 years, is one of six finalists, and was the first to be interviewed Friday. Any wonder why Cross believes the coaching search is little more than a dog and pony show that will end with Tucker’s hiring. We should know in a week or so ? ? ? As was mentioned in this space recently, the most sensible hire for LSC-PA is Pat Knight’s former associate head coach at Texas Tech, Chris Beard. Sadly, my recommendation is probably why Beard won’t get the job. For the most part, I’ve found ADs, especially insecure ones, reluctant to accept a sportswriter’s advice. Many years ago, I strongly urged Lamar University to hire Ronnie Thompson as its football coach. Instead, LU made one of the all-time bonehead decisions and opted for Ray Alborn. The results of that disastrous move ultimately led to the program being shut down for over 20 years. Beard, in this case, makes as much sense as Thompson did back in the early 1980s. He’s not only a good coach, he’s highly regarded among college coaches, as his eye-opening reference list of top coaches — Bob Knight, Bill Self, Tim Floyd, James Dickey and Frank Martin, among others — underscores. Contacts like that, of course, can be invaluable in getting players . Plus, his ties to Pat Knight make him the perfect guy to forge an overdue working relationship between LSC-PA and Lamar-Beaumont.
One of the really interesting things I saw in relation to the NFL draft was a project undertaken by Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus. With four years worth of results, Elsayed broke down the 2008 draft pick-by-pick, then projected what player should have been taken in the spot based on NFL performance. The most noteworthy part of his re-draft was projecting that the Oakland Raiders, with the No. 4 overall pick, should have taken Jamaal Charles instead of Darren McFadden. Charles, of course, was not drafted until Kansas City took him early in the third round. Among the many teams who passed on the former Memorial star was Dallas at No. 22. Jerry Jones chose Arkansas’ Felix Jones, for which Elsayed gave Jethro a grade of D. He gave the Texans a B for selecting offensive tackle Duane Brown at No. 26 . . . Two thumbs up to Lincoln ex Jonathan Babineaux and his community involvement in Atlanta. Babineaux, who has spent the past eight years playing for the Atlanta Falcons, put his name on a “Stop Truancy” program in the Atlanta public school system. That led to an organization called Communities in School of Atlanta coming up with a Jonathan Babineaux Award for Improved Attendance. At a lunch on Wednesday, Babineaux will present the first award to a youngster named Oshay Columbus. He’s also giving the other 60 nominees a custom-made Babineaux Unit #95 T-shirt. It’s all good when you see pro athletes being so hands-on with kids. Bravo for you, Jonathan.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at email@example.com.