, Port Arthur, Texas

December 8, 2012

West column: KC tragedy is weighing heavily on Jamaal Charles

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —     Aside from the obvious victims, nobody has been  impacted more by last week’s murder-suicide in Kansas City than Jamaal Charles, a fact which makes playing football against Cleveland today perhaps the biggest challenge the Memorial ex has ever faced. Jamaal, in addition to grieving, has been  trying to work through the mental stress of blaming himself for the death of his wife’s cousin, Kasandra Perkins, because he introduced her to teammate Jevon Belcher. The Memorial ex didn’t join Chiefs teammates at Belcher’s services on Thursday, but was in Austin for Perkins’ funeral on Saturday. Through it all, he’s practiced, not spoken with media and put up a stoic front. At last indication, he intends to play but you wonder how focused he can be. Amazingly, in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, he played and rushed for 127 yards last Sunday in an emotional KC victory. With a week for things to sink in, playing today has to be much more difficult. To see how Jamaal’s teammates feel his struggle, check out the Last Word quote elsewhere on this page  . . . Jack Brooks wasn’t a sports figure, but he merits mention here today because he was a friend and one of the select honorees of The Port Arthur News Homecoming Roasts of which I was chairman for 11 years. In Congressman Brooks’ case we called it a toast rather than a roast, but it helped deliver lots of laughs and a nice donation to the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Our toasters for that May 20, 1995 event were mostly political figures — Carl Parker, Dolph Briscoe, Jake Pickle and Jim Wright. The non-pol in the group was the Rev. Ransom Howard. Brooks was an amazing guy who may have accomplished more for Southeast Texas than any congressman ever did for his constituency. I feel fortunate to have gotten to know him.

    Many of the big cigars who write sizable checks to the University of Texas can’t be too happy that UT president Bill Powers came out with a surprisingly strong vote of confidence on Mack Brown. Speculation has raged for weeks and multiple donors have reportedly made it known their checkbooks wouldn’t be on board if Brown wasn’t eased out. When the Longhorns again got embarrassed by Kansas State fans last week — prompting Wildcat fans to chant “We own Texas, we own Texas,” on national TV — it seemed like that might be the last straw. After all, it marked three consecutive years of four Big 12 losses with by far the league’s best talent. Oh, well, opposing coaches won’t be disappointed . . . Considering a lineup of top- shelf bowl games that is perhaps the least appealing ever, the Cotton Bowl and Jerry Jones came out smelling like a rose. By landing Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M against Oklahoma, the game at JerryWorld offers what is arguably the second best matchup to the BCS national championship pitting Notre Dame against Alabama. The Cotton Bowl, which looked like it might wind up a ho-hum LSU beating of Texas, got a huge break when the Capital One bowl opted for Georgia rather than A&M. It says here that Georgia against a Nebraska team that gave up 70 points in the Big Ten championship game offers little appeal . . . There is a good omen for Notre Dame in being a 10-point underdog to Alabama. Only two other teams went into the BCS championship — Florida St. in 2001 and Miami in 2003 — favored by double digits and both lost. Other interesting tidbits tied into Notre Dame-Alabama are that odds against the Fighting Irish winning the BCS Championship were 50 to 1 in August and that R.J. Bell of projects a college record $2 billion is going to be waged on the game. Notre Dame looks awfully enticing getting 10 points.

    It’s a good thing for the Texans that Monday night’s battle at New England does not fall into the must- win category because it’s difficult to see how a defensively-wounded team is going to prevail on the road against Tom Brady and an opponent that statistics say is the best in the NFL. With Brady having another great season, the Patriots have scored 430 points, which is 79 more than the No. 2 Texans, and have outscored opponents by an average of 19.3 points in nine wins. On top of that, New England is 19-1 in the last four games of the regular season since 2007 and 23-2 in its last 25 regular season games played in December and January. Houston’s best chance against the Patriots is to finish with the AFC’s best record, secure home field for the playoffs and get them in Reliant Stadium in the AFC Championship game . . . Rumors continue to swirl about possible replacements for Jason Garrett, should the Cowboys again fail to make the playoffs. Sean Payton and Mike Holmgren are big names that have already been floated. Now add one that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Somebody close to the Eagles Andy Reid told the Trenton Times that Reid would be Jerry Jones’ choice if a change is made. That one’s hard to buy on several levels, but with Jethro you learn to never say never . . . There is no official NFL stat for most touchdown passes thrown by one family. If there were, the Mannings would own a mark that could never be challenged. Between Peyton’s 426, Eli’s 200 and papa Archie’s 125, they have had 751 passes reach the end zone.

    Latest trend in sports seems to be former greats auctioning off souvenirs of their success. And getting big bucks for doing it. Former New York Yankee Don Larsen recently pocketed a stunning $756,000 for the uniform he wore while pitching the only perfect game in the World Series, back in 1956. Former St. Louis Cardinal fielding whiz Ozzie Smith raked in $519,203 for the 13 Gold Gloves he won in consecutive years. The boxing gloves Muhammad Ali used to take out then heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964 and in a losing bout against Joe Frazier in 1971 netted $385,844. A Babe Ruth Yankee team sweater from 1922 fetched $250,642 . . . Reckon the Los Angles Angels are having buyer’s remorse over shelling out a $240 million, 10 year contract to Albert Pujols? In the first year of the contract, Pujols continued a downward trend in his hitting numbers with a .285 average, 30 homers and 105 RBI. Angels attendance, meanwhile, dropped to a 10-year low of 37,799 per game and their local television ratings were the second worst in baseball to the woeful Houston Astros. Maybe getting to face Astros pitching the next few years will rejuvenate Pujols . . . Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum has a new nickname — Dick Chaney — for former teammate and Hall of Famer Robin Yount, after a recent quail hunt in Arizona. Yount lost track of Sveum when birds flew out in front of him, fired and Sveum wound up pellets in his back and right ear. No serious damage was but Yount will likely never live down the ill-fated shot.

    With Lamar’s basketball teaming taking the predictable poundings that come with sending a young, inexperienced team out for 11 consecutive road games against mostly high-caliber opponents, Pat Knight’s biggest concern may wind up being the classroom toll. Given the presence of five first-year freshmen and two JC transfers, and all the time on the road, it will be amazing if there aren’t academic casualties come the end of the fall term. Lamar’s schedule, by the way, is listed as the 14th toughest in the nation in USA Today’s Sagarin poll . . . Memorial ex J’Covan Brown is struggling with shooting accuracy with his new team — AGOR — in a professional basketball league in Greece. Brown, who opted to forego his final year at Texas for the NBA draft, then didn’t get selected, is averaging 9.3 points per game, but had made only 11-of-31 treys and was shooting 33.9 overall in AGOR’s first eight games. He’s on a team that includes five other American players . . . At least one top-level NFL executive will be glued to the Dr. Phil television show this week. Anna Gristina, a high powered New York City madam recently sentenced to six months in jail for promoting prostitution, has promised to reveal the name of a client in “high-level NFL management.” She’s always promising to blow the whistle on a well-known NFL player. Surely that high-level NFL management type isn’t somebody from a Texas team?

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at