The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Highlight of the NFL draft had to be the Dallas Cowboys fan whose placard was captured by ESPN’s cameras Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York, just before the team’s latest suspect first-move was announced. For those who didn’t see it, the sign read: “Can we trade our pick for a new GM?” Not only was it funny, but Jerry Jones made the thought oh-so-appropriate with his selection of Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, a player generally pegged as a third-round value. Summing up, Dallas’ chief moron traded down 13 spots in the first round, got only a late third-round pick from San Francisco for doing it and wound up with a questionable pick at No. 31. More and more Jethro is starting to remind me of a senile Al Davis continually undermining his team’s chances . . . Best story of the draft has to be D.J. Hayden, the University of Houston cornerback who went from a walking medical miracle to the No. 12 selection in the first round. Hayden, for those not familiar with his story, should have died after a freak November practice-field mishap which tore the main vein that pumps blood to the heart from the lower half of the body. From an injury that leads to death 95 percent of the time, most often happens in automobile accidents and had doctors telling him he’d need a year to heal, and might never play football again, Hayden is on top of the world. The only possible negative, which is a mere blip in this case, is that he got drafted by the Raiders.
All those irate University of Texas exes who were rebuffed in their efforts to shove Mack Brown out the door, must be stirred up again after reading a piece in this week’s Sporting News rating 125 Division 1 football coaches. The Longhorns’ $5 million a year head honcho was pegged at No. 39, behind no fewer than five Big 12 coaches. Ahead of him were Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (4), TCU’s Gary Patterson (10), Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (11), Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (16) and Baylor’s Art Briles (22). No. 1 on the list, as you would expect, was Alabama’s Nick Saban. Eye-opening, although much deserved, was Boise State’s Chris Petersen at No. 3 . . . Although it flew completely under the radar, Brown made an interesting addition to his coaching staff this past week, adding Riley Dodge. Riley, of course, is the son of former Port Arthur TJ schoolboy All-America Todd Dodge, who is now coaching a few miles down the road from Austin in Marble Falls. After spending last season as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M, Riley will be UT’s offensive quality control coach. It would certainly appear that he’s on a super fast track up the ranks of the coaching profession . . . Two thoughts about the College Football Playoff that’s going to replace the heavily criticized BCS after the 2014 season as a means to crown a collegiate champion. No. 1, it’s hard to believe a paid marketing firm couldn’t come up with a more imaginative name. No. 2, with a projected 15-to-20 person selection committee, which has yet to be named, there is bound to be all sorts of controversy almost every time teams are selected. Getting truly impartial selectors without sectional biases and prejudices will be close to impossible. But the all-too-limited playoff is going to generate lots of money and that’s what college football is all about.
As someone who has championed the cause of West Brook running Christine Michael, it was great to see him selected at the end of the second round by Seattle. It was also a bit surprising that he’d be taken by a team which already has one of the NFL’s top power backs, Marshawn Lynch, and a quality backup in Robert Turbin. According to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Seattle took Michael at 62 because he was the best player left on its draft board. One things folks who cover Seattle need to get straight, however, is where Michael played in high school. The Saturday story in the Seattle Times had him being a five-star recruit from Orange. Orange, of course, is the hometown of the Seahawks’ standout safety Earl Thomas . . . Congratulations to tight end Vance McDonald for becoming the first ever East Chambers player taken in the NFL draft. And for having the good fortune to be drafted late in the second round by a San Francisco 49ers team that should be back in the Super Bowl. It will be interesting to see who has a better career — tight end Gavin Escobar, taken eight picks earlier at No. 47 by the Cowboys, or McDonald. Given the difference in the two organizations, my money is on McDonald . . . McDonald and Michael, by the way, will become the 92nd and 93rd players from the Golden Triangle to be on a regular season NFL roster, once September rolls around. Michael will be the ninth West Brook player in the NFL, which leaves it only one shy of Hebert as the biggest area producer of NFL talent. PA Lincoln, with 15 NFL products, figures to remain No. 1 for many years.
Best financial bargain in the NFL last season? Look no farther than the Houston Texans’ amazing J.J. Watt. According to a complicated formula used by Pro Football Focus, comparing players in position groups, Watt was worth $15.7 million more than the $2.6 million salary cap figure the Texans had for him. PFF’s assigned value for Watt was $18.3 million. Since the time to start negotiating a new contract with Watt is less than a year off, Texans’ management faces a monumental salary-cap challenge. And it’s unthinkable they would let the team’s most popular player walk . . . Lamar University football coach Ray Woodard’s life hasn’t been the same since Nov. 3 last year. That’s the day his daughter, who has a young son, awoke to discover she couldn’t walk. A day later she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. With medical bills mounting, Tracy Byrd is doing a benefit concern for Jessica Woodard-Martin on May 20 at Big Rich Courville’s in Beaumont. Tickets are $50 at the door, with a meal included. VIP tables are available for $2,000 and $1,000. Anybody just wanting to make a donation should call Penne Woodard at 903 229-7724 . . . Has there been a more amazing sports story in 2013 than 14-year-old Chinese golfer Guan Tianlang? For openers, Guan, who weighs only 120 pounds, made the cut in the Masters, beating some of the game’s biggest names in the process. Now he’s done it again at the Zurich Classic of Orleans, which is being played on a 7,450 yard course that golf insiders felt was too long for him to have a chance. Guan shot rounds of 72-69 to make the cut on the number, and beat the likes of Keegan Bradley, K.J. Choi, Justin Leonard and our own Chris Stroud.
Baseball is basically considered a warm-weather sport, but trying convincing the Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies or any fool who showed up for a Tuesday doubleheader at Coors Field. Hours after workers cleared several inches of snow off the ground, Game 1 started with a temperature reading of 23 degrees. It warmed all the way up to 30 for the game two. Atlanta game one starter Mike Minor did his part to psych out the Rockies, pitching the opener in a shortsleeve jersey with a T-shirt underneath. He was the winning pitcher, allowing three runs on five hits in six inning . . . The guy who dreams up promotions for LaRosa’s Pizzeria in Cincinnati is probably out of a job. To keep things interesting for Reds fans, and make them conscious of LaRosa’s, the restaurant is offering ticket holders free eight-inch pizzas with any four toppings — a $6.79 value — any time Reds pitchers strike out at 11 least batters. Through the season’s first 15 home games, it’s already happened seven times, costing LaRosa’s over $100,000 in pizzas. And the Astros haven’t even paid a visit to Great America Ballpark . . . Two thumbs up to golf legend Jack Nicklaus for his stance on Tiger Woods and the Masters ruling that gave Woods critics a chance to pile on with cheap shots. Despite the likes of the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, CBS’ Nick Faldo and long-time Tiger hater Greg Norman questioning Woods’ character for not withdrawing from the tournament, Nicklaus said he did the right thing by continuing to play. Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson using Norman to make a judgment on Woods was like asking somebody in the Tea Party to critique a move made by President Obama. Shame on you, Doug. That’s as cheap as it gets.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org