PORT ARTHUR —
Little Joe Washington and Jamaal Charles are forever linked in Port Arthur’s football history as the city’s two most high profile running backs, with one starring at Oklahoma and the other at Texas before making a splash in the NFL. Charles, of course, wound up breaking Washington’s all time PA rushing record. There is, however, one mark of Little Joe’s — 12 knee surgeries — that Jamaal doesn’t want to challenge. All the knee operations have taken such a toll that Washington, who is 59, will have replacement surgery on his right knee Dec. 18 in Baltimore. If that works out, and there are no problems during the rehab, he plans to have the left knee replaced sometime in 2013. As glamorous as the game is to fans, most guys who play it for very long truly pay a painful price . . . Charles, by the way, is about to get shafted in Pro Bowl voting, primarily because he flies so far under the national radar due to being stuck on such a bad team in Kansas City. Despite being the leading rusher in the AFC, despite the fact than on his 11th career today he’ll officially surpass Jim Brown for having the highest average per carry in modern NFL history, Jamaal is fifth among AFC running backs in the fan Pro Bowl voting which ends Monday. Fans in Southeast Texas might be able to help change that by going to www.nfl.com/probowl. There is no limit to how many times you can vote. As for surpassing Jim Brown, Charles’ current career average of 5.7 YPC is well ahead of Brown’s 5.2, but it takes 750 attempts to qualify. He’s currently at 739.
In the spirit of the Christmas season, some high ranking official at Texas A&M needs to bestow a nice gift upon University of Texas AD Deloss Dodds for the role he played in the Aggies leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. Dodds, in his role as defacto commissioner of the Big 12, overplayed his hand to the extent that Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and A&M could no longer tolerate co-existence. As a result, and with a big boost from Johnny Manziel, the Aggies national profile is higher and football future brighter than it would ever have been in Texas’ Big 12 shadow. It would be downright petty if somebody didn’t at least send Dodds a couple of Cotton Bowl tickets . . . Nobody can accuse A&M of failing to maximize and trumpet its good fortune, as there is an ongoing national advertising campaign to spread the word. Already there have been full page ads with the theme “They Call Him Johnny Heisman” taken out in USA Today, other major newspapers and on a huge billboard in Times Square. The exposure fallout from Manziel’s Heisman victory included the well-spoken, red-shirt freshman delivering David Letterman’s Top Ten List on Monday night. Don’t think the A&M message won’t be hitting home with young football players . . . Speaking of recruiting, A&M’s SEC success, combined with another lackluster season at Texas and ongoing chatter about Mack Brown, is shifting the recruiting dynamic in the Lone Star State. Four of the players who made early commitments to the Longhorns have reportedly backed off. The most prominent of those, Sealy’s Ricky Seals-Jones, committed to A&M this past week. Seals-Jones, who played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back at Sealy, and is expected to be a receiver at A&M, is rated by both Rivals.com and ESPN as the nation’s top “athlete” prospect. Better make that four Cotton Bowl tickets for Dodds.
Abysmal performances in their two most high profile games of the year — Green Bay and New England — have left all sorts of nagging questions about the Houston Texans ability to make a playoff push. It’s amazing that a team could be 11-2 and have so many seeming trouble spots — quarterback play in big games, pass coverage, only J.J. Watt being able to consistently get pressure on opposing QBs — but the questions are out there and beg for an answer. Based on the evidence, you’d have to be a true diehard fan to think the Super Bowl is a realistic possibility unless the Texans are able to lock up home-field advantage. My expectation is for a statement game today against sensational rookie Andrew Luck and the surprising Colts . . . Ironically, it may have taken a tragedy to save Jason Garrett’s job as Cowboys head coach. Garrett has been praised from all sides, and rightfully so, for the way he’s dealt with Jerry Brown’s death and with nose tackle Josh Brent in the aftermath of his intoxication manslaughter charge. Garrett also received a strong vote of confidence from owner Jerry Jones’ son Stephen, the Cowboys executive vice president, who told the Dallas Morning News he can’t imagine a scenario where Garrett won’t be back. The flip side, however, is a report from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, one of the top information guys covering the NFL, that if the Cowboys have a bad final three weeks he won’t be surprised to see Jethro go hard after Jon Gruden.
Bridge City ex Matt Bryant surely had his stock soar with Atlanta Falcons teammates over his response to raging Carolina linebacker Greg Hardy, after the Panthers beat up on the NFC West leaders last Sunday in Charlotte. With Hardy ranting and raving, and telling the Falcons to “get the bleep off our field” in the game’s aftermath, Bryant walked over to him and said, “Enjoy watching us in January.” In other words, we’ll be in the playoffs and you won’t. Hardy reportedly didn’t have a comeback . . . TJ ex Kevin Everett has been a walking miracle since the paralyzing spinal injury he suffered covering a kickoff in Buffalo’s 2007 season opener. Everett, who overcame long odds to walk again, and has used his remarkable story to inspire others suffering from similar injures, has yet another reason for joy heading into the Christmas season. Kevin’s wife, Wiande, gave birth to the couple’s third daughter — Kelani — on Tuesday in Houston . . . Former Lamar football coach Larry Kennan, who gave up 13 years as Executive Director of the NFL Coaches Association last year to return to coaching, was in town last week recruiting at Memorial. Kennan, now the head coach at the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, is thought to be interested in the Titans trio of WR John LeDay, DB Devin Cockrell and DB James Jenkins. Incarnate Wood, which went 2-9 this past season, will become one of Lamar’s opponents in 2014 when it joins the Southland Conference.
Talk about your bad business decisions, how about the folks with Reliant Stadium. At the height of the high school football playoffs, in a year when it spent around $3 million buying an Astroturf playing surface as part of a push to entice the UIL to bring state championship weekend to Houston, Reliant was host to a men’s-women’s basketball doubleheader between Texas and UCLA last Saturday afternoon. That, of course, meant no schoolboy playoff games. The basketball attendance was listed at a whopping 2,797. Seems like somebody should have some explaining to do . . . Hard to believe former Longhorn QB Vince Young’s stock is so bad that neither the sad sack Arizona Cardinals nor the Kansas City Chiefs won’t give him a look. After Arizona was routed 58-0 last week by Seattle, the ever-desperate Young tweeted the Cardinals gifted receiver Larry Fitzgerald, hoping that Fitzgerald’s frustration level had reached a point where he’d lobby with management to sign him. Either Fitzgerald didn’t follow through or nobody listened. In their game against Detroit today, Arizona is starting rookie Ryan Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick with a 40.4 QB rating, five interceptions and no touchdown passes . . . Sam Houston State’s FCS semifinal playoff game at Eastern Washington Saturday brought back memories of a Bearkats playoff visit to Cheney, Wash., with similar stakes on the line eight years ago. The reason that’s relevant here is because PN-G ex Dustin Long authored one of the two greatest games of his college career. Long, who two years earlier had thrown 7 TD passes in a game for Texas A&M, rallied the Bearkats from a 34-14 deficit with 14:44 to play, and delivered a game-winning 7-yard TD pass with no time left. He finished 38-of-61 for 478 yards and 3 TDs, with 367 yards and all 3 TDs coming in the second half.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.