, Port Arthur, Texas


January 17, 2013

Best of West: Alexander provides PA another Super Bowl moment

PORT ARTHUR — Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was first published in the Port Arthur News on Jan. 30, 2008.

    Eric Alexander plays a mostly anonymous but important role for the undefeated New England Patriots, using his speed to rush downfield on kick coverage. He’s done that job well enough during an 18-0 season to rank fifth in special teams tackles, and post team highs against Buffalo twice, Denver and Minnesota.

    Alexander relishes and appreciates the contribution he’s asked to make, but one of  these days the 6-2, 240 pound former Stephen F. Austin High School great hopes to be an every-down linebacker for the NFL’s reigning dynasty. Until then, he’s content being a special teamer and learning behind veteran inside backers Junior Seau and Teddy Bruschi.

    “My aspiration, like everybody in this league, is to be a starter,” he said, prior to a Patriots pratice.  “For now, I have a role as a special teamer and all I’m thinking about is doing the most I can to help us win in that role. Not being a starter doesn’t bother me one bit.

    “Especially when you look at the people who are in front of me.”

    Actually, the two-time Port Arthur News Super Teamer has made one start, and that came in the Patriots biggest game of 2006.  With his team’s linebacking corps banged up, head coach Bill Belichick played a hunch that Alexander’s speed could help in pressuring Peyton Manning.

    Like most of Belichick’s hunches, it was right on. Alexander made 10 unassisted tackles, had one sack and help put the Patriots in position to win. But New England, after leading 21-6, fell victim to a Manning-led comeback and watched its arch-rival  go on to win the Super Bowl.

    “People said a lot of nice things about the way I played, but honestly I don’t think I played that well,” Alexander said. “We lost the game. We didn’t get to play in the Super Bowl. It made for a long off-season.”

    Despite the impressive showing against Indy, he didn’t get much of a shot at being a starter in what was his fourth NFL season. For openers, a shoulder injury slowed him in training camp. Beyond that, the 39-year-old Seau wasn’t ready to step aside.

    Plus, Alexander admits he’s still learning Belichick’s complicated defensive scheme.

    “I don’t know how it compares to other teams. But our defense is always evolving, always changing,” he was quoted as saying in training camp. “Once you think you know it, we’ll tweak something here or there, and it’ll be totally different. It’s always a learning process.

    “I don’t think you ever fully learn the whole system. You just have to keep learning as they add on.”

    Sunday’s game against the New  York Giants will be Alexander’s second Super Bowl since signing with the Patriots out of LSU as a free agent. There is, however, a big difference for him in Super Bowl XLII, as compared to Super Bowl XXXIX won by New England over Philadelphia.

    In the game against the Eagles his rookie year, he’d been put on injured reserve and didn’t suit up. He received a Super Bowl championship ring to go along with his national championship ring from LSU. But, as a non-participant, he was left with somewhat of an empty feeling.

    “It’s definitely more exciting for  me this time, because I’ll be playing,” Alexander said.

    Typical of the Belichick shroud of secrecy that blankets everything the Patriots do, he would not say if there will be a bigger role for him Sunday than playing on special teams.

    “I really don’t know,” he said. “We just put in the game plan today (last Thursday). But one thing I’ve learned is that anything can happen on any play and you have to stay ready. I’ll be prepared to play in the game as a linebacker, if that’s what I’m asked to do.”

    Alexander, meanwhile, said he had no idea of Port Arthur’s history with the Super Bowl, or that claiming a second Super Bowl ring would thrust him into the city’s elite fraternity of multiple ring winners that includes only Lincoln’s Tim McKyer (3) and TJ’s Jimmy Johnson (2).

    Other former Port Arthurans who own one Super Bowl ring include Lincoln’s Aaron Brown (Chiefs), Leroy Leopold (49ers) and Joe Washington (Redskins). Those who played in a Super Bowl and lost include Lincoln’s Jordan Babineaux (Seattle) and SFA’s  Duriel Harris (Dolphins).

    Harris is the only SFA player besides Alexander to make it to the NFL.

    “I don’t know much of the history,” he said. “We didn’t move to Port Arthur until I was 12, so I didn’t follow it as much as the people who grew up there.”

    Alexander, though, is well aware of one other fellow Port Arthuran in the NFL — Kevin Everett.

    “I know of him, said Alexander, who is two years older than Everett. “I think I played basketball against him in high school. Of course, I’ve kept up with his progress. He’s always been in my prayers. It’s amazing what he’s done.”

    As for the Super Bowl, Alexander says he expects the Patriots to play much better than they did in a 38-35 December comeback victory over the Giants that put their unbeaten season in jeopardy.

    “There were three games — Baltimore, Philadelphia and the Giants — where we didn’t come out and play like we’re supposed to,” he said. “They were pretty much all the same game. I expect to us play much better in the Super Bowl.”

    To that end, Alexander will be doing his best to make a momentum changing play whenever the Patriots kick the ball. Watch for No. 52 flying down the field trying to create a lasting memory in the biggest game of his life.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at











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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

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From the Fieldhouse blog