PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

September 15, 2012

West column: As Kevin Everett's story fades there's terrible reminder

PORT ARTHUR —     Last Sunday, Sept. 9, was the fifth anniversary of the day former Thomas Jefferson great Kevin Everett’s NFL career came to a crushing end in Buffalo. Everett, of course, went on to become a walking miracle, after suffering a paralyzing neck injury as a result of a brutal collision on the second  half kickoff. Kevin, who lives in Spring with his wife and two daughters, is able to walk but can’t run and takes anti-seizure medication to control involuntary muscle spasms. “I’m a happy, man,” he told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News last week.  “I know my story has died out, and I wish I could do a lot more as far as not being forgotten and keeping it fresh.” Sadly, only hours before the story was published, Tulane University safety Devon Walker suffered a neck and spinal injury even more serious than Everett’s  . . . Keep your eyes on Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew if he scores a touchdown against the Texans’ today. New Jaguars’ coach Mike Mularkey has made it clear he doesn’t like end-zone celebrations. To put added pressure on the players, Mularkey announced he’ll donate $250 to the Ronald McDonald Charities House of Jacksonville each time one of his players scores a TD and hands the ball to an official. That total is being matched by the Jaguars’ Foundation. In effect, then, a player who doesn’t comply is depriving a charity of $500. Jones-Drew is notorious for his end-zone antics, so something has to give. Maybe he’ll ceberate, then write a check. The Texans, of course, intend to keep him from having to make that decision.

    Astros owner Jim Crane can’t have better than mixed feelings about the schedule he was handed last week for his team’s first season in the American League. Yes, Crane was thrown the bone of opening at home with the Texas Rangers, which should avoid the embarrassment of not selling out opening night. But what about the one almost sure thing on the Minute Maid slate  — a three-game series against the New York Yankees — not coming up until the final weekend of September? By then the Astros will have lost another 100 games, everybody will be watching football and a series that would have drawn 100,000 or better any time from April through August will be lucky to attract half that . . . Crane must also be biting his tongue after Roger Clemens’ flippant remark in response to his statement that to protect the integrity of the game Houston would only sign Clemens to pitch in a game against a team not in playoff contention. The Rocket’s response, after repeatedly saying he didn’t think he was ready to pitch against a Major League team, was to state he’d only come back against a contender. So now, Crane is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, because he’s counting on Clemens working with young pitchers next spring and can’t afford to cross him. Consequently, it won’t be a surprise to see Clemens pitching against St. Louis in late September. Once a jackass, always a jackass.

    Few NFL quarterbacks have made as impressive a rookie debut as Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. Not only did he become the first rookie quarterback to be named NFL Offensive Player of the Week since 1984, and land on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the way he shredded New Orleans’ defense, but Griffin was so over-the-top efficient he had former Raiders’  head coach and long-time NFL analyst John Madden raving about him on SiriusXM NFL radio. “At some point during the game, and I have to admit I said this — it just came out — I said RGIII’s the best player in the NFL today,” Madden said.  “That’s what I really thought. Those words did come out. Now, I don’t know that I’m gonna live with that or back that up the rest of the season.” . . . Griffin, who figures to get the Redskins to 2-0 today against the St. Louis Rams, should be glad Washington doesn’t play Houston. Texans’ DE JJ Watt is rapidly becoming public enemy No. 1 for quarterbacks. Watt’s heroics against Miami and Ryan Tannehill have been well documented, but consider his incredible numbers for the Texans’ last three games. Counting Houston’s 2011 season-ending playoff games against Cincinnati and Baltimore, he’s had 17 tackles, five sacks, six quarterback hits, four passes defensed and one interception return for a touchdown. If 2006 No. 1 draft pick Mario Williams, who managed all of one tackle for Buffalo last week, had been half as dominant as Watt, the Texans would probably have figured out a way to keep him.

    The all-time Southeast Texas list of NFL players from Southeast Texas contained one glaring omission last week. Kelly ex Kheeston Randall, a 7th round pick out of the University of Texas by the Miami Dolphins, survived the final cut and saw action at defensive tackle for the Dolphins last Sunday at Reliant Stadium. That made Randall the 91st player from the Triangle to play in a regular-season game. Also in error was the statement that West Orange-Stark’s Kevin Smith, with three, had more Super Bowl rings than other player from this area. Lincoln’s Tim McKyer also has three, after winning two with San Francisco and one with Denver . . . Something’s really suspect about Dallas being only a three-point favorite today at Seattle. The Seahawks, who are committed to 5-11 rookie QB Russell Wilson, struggled to move the ball and score points against Arizona last week. As good as Dallas’ defense looked against the Giants, you have to think it will chew Wilson up and spit him out. Due to that fact, this sure looks to me like one of those games where you would consider taking Dallas and betting the ranch. If Tony Romo can keep from throwing a couple of passes to West Orange-Stark’s Earl Thomas, who has quickly become one of the top safeties in the NFL, the Cowboys should post a decisive victory . . . It’s early, but the San Francisco 49ers would get my vote as the best team, and the first or second best coached team in the NFL. One reason the 49ers have become so difficult to beat is the fact they haven’t had a turnover in their last 26 quarters of regular-season play.

        If you’re in the market for a comfy mansion in the Highland Park area of Dallas, former Cowboys QB Troy Aikman has one for sale. And Troy’s asking price for the five bedroom, seven bathroom home, with a swimming pool, outdoor entertainment area and guest house, has come down from a first listing in 2010 of $24 million to a mere $14 million. That, by the way, is really cheap, compared to what another QB great — the 49ers Joe Montana — is trying to get for his sprawling three bedroom, four bath villa that takes up 10,000 square feet and is part of a 500 acre spread in California’s Napa Valley. Montana’s number is $35 million. That’s down from $49 million . . . Former Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Famer Franco Harris, who came to town in 2002 as part of the Port Arthur News Homecoming Roast of Joe Washington, has been outspoken in his defense and support of his college coach at Penn State, Joe Paterno. Harris took his backing of Paterno to a new level two weeks ago at Penn State’s home opener against Ohio University by stationing a life-size cutout of Paterno in his sky box at Beaver Stadium. The Paterno cutout was holding a sign that read “Due Process for PSU, JVP,” with JVP being Joseph Vincent Paterno. As you would suspect, Harris, who has labeled the Freeh report “highly flawed and factually insufficient,” has taken considerable heat for his stance . . . Remember the name Dave Campo? He was on Jimmy Johnson’s defensive staff with the Cowboys, then later became Dallas’ head coach as Jerry Jones searched for the  500  coaches who could accomplish what Jimmy did. Campo is now the defensive coordinator for one of the dregs of college football — the University of Kansas.

        Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at rdwest@usa.net

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Bob West