PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

August 31, 2013

West column: Shane Dronett's wife, kids should receive $4 million

PORT ARTHUR — Based on the parameters of the NFL’s $765 million dollar settlement on the concussion lawsuit, one of the largest payouts should be going to the family of former Bridge City star Shane Dronett. The breakdown specified a maximum award of $5 million for players suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and $4 millon for deaths from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). After Dronett committed suicide in 2009, scientists studied his brain and determined that the former Denver Bronco, Detroit Lion and Atlanta Falcon was suffering from CTE.  In simple terms, it’s a brain disease associated with repeated head trauma. Dronett left behind a wife and two young daughters. Numerous other area players are eligible for varying degrees of compensation, even if they weren’t among the 22 Golden Triangle NFL exes who were part of the lawsuit . . .  Earl Campbell, who was not one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit but can now make a claim if tests ever show he’s suffering from cognitive impairment, did a terrific job as the speaker at Lamar’s Kickoff Banquet last Sunday night. His presence, which mostly came about through a long-time friendship with LU defensive coordinator Bill Bradley, was not only a big deal for Cardinal players whom he addressed in private, but it brought a significant financial reward. In the live auction portion of the banquet, a No. 34 Houston Oiler jersey and an Oiler helmet signed by the Tyler Rose fetched an eye-opening $8,000. Campbell showed how deep his feelings are for a certain Houston Oilers coach by closing his remarks by saying, “Please pray for my friend Bum Phillips. He’s in the hospital and not doing too well.” . . . Bum, by the way, after an episode of congestive heart failure, has been released from the hospital. He’s looking forward to celebrating is 90th birthday on Sept. 28.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, it would appear, beat the system after Autographgate was settled with the laughable penalty of having him sit out one-half of Saturday’s game with Rice. Those who are ticked off because Manziel skated really amaze me. You don’t convict somebody without proof and the NCAA couldn’t prove he took any money. Aggie fans, however, shouldn’t spike the ball yet, because the NCAA left the door open on additional punishment should further evidence be uncovered. Take it to the bank that ESPN, which got embarrassed for its handling of the story, including going after Manziel based on some dubious sources, will leave no stone unturned seeking vindication . . . The good news about Autographgate was that Manziel opened some previously closed minds about the inequity of limitations on college athletes. For it to be an NCAA violation for a player to cash in by signing his name is not only ludicrous, it’s un-American. Manziel, based on fact-finding done by a reputable firm which studies such things, was worth $37 million to Texas A&M last year. Beyond that, all of college football profited from the excitement he created. Yet the guy can’t take money for signing his name? Come on. It’s time for major changes in archaic constraints placed on college kids  who are the key cogs in a big, big business. When change finally happens, and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later,  Manziel will have speeded up the process . . . Among the quickest to react to Manziel being cleared to play were Las Vegas bookmakers. They dropped odds on A&M winning the national championship from 18/1  to 12/1, lowered his Heisman odds from 12/1 to 6/1 and established Alabama a 7-point favorite over the Aggies when the Crimson Tide comes to College Station Sept. 14 in what shapes up as the biggest game of the college season. Add another group to the list of folks making money off Johnny Football.

One of Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ many assets is his dry sense of humor. Wade showed he’s got some Bum in him this past week, in advance of his first return to JerryWorld since being fired as head coach of the Cowboys. First he tweeted, “Heading for Cowboy\AT$T stadium. Can't wait to see how young guys play tonight.” If it got past you, he substituted a dollar sign in AT&T Stadium. Later he tweeted, “I’ve been studying Dallas -- their TEs look well coached! For those who don’t know, Wade’s son Wes is the Cowboys tight ends coach. If it had been me, I’d have tweeted, “Hey, Jethro how’s it going, since you fired me.” . . . Speaking of the Cowboys owner, he set himself up for more ridicule  by telling the Dallas Morning News about how good his brain is for 70-years-old.  “I’ve been told that I have, by CT Scans, that it’s like the brain of a 40-year-old. I know more about what I’m doing than hopefully I did 25 years ago,” Jones bragged. Too bad a CT Scan can’t measure the function of the portion of Jethro’s brain involved in football decisions . . . Earl Campbell, prior to speaking at Lamar’s banquet, told me it’s no surprise to him that Memorial ex Jamaal Charles has established himself as one of  the most dangerous running backs in the NFL. Campbell, who worked quite a bit with Charles when he was playing at Texas, said, “I could tell from watching him he was going to be a great player. I don’t think we got him the ball enough when he was playing for the Longhorns. Backs like that get better and more effective the more they get the ball.” It was almost verbatim the same thing Campbell told me the week before Texas leaned heavily on Jamaal against Nebraska, and he responded by rushing for 290 yards and three TDs.

Long-time readers of the Port Arthur News should remember one of our former sports writers, Anthony Andro. Anthony, one of four really good hires I’ve made out of Texas A&M, wrote for The News from 1992-99, went to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now with FoxSportsSouthwest.com. His latest endeavor is a pocket-size book — it’s only 80 pages — called Aggie Football Legends. It touches on historic games, memorable moments in A&M history, special seasons and legendary figures who were part of Aggie history. And, yes, Johnny Manziel ‘s exploits are included. Cost of the publication is only $5.95. It can be ordered at www.savoryhousepress.com . . . Barring another amazing chapter, like the one he wrote last summer by going from the Independent League Long Island Ducks to the Baltimore Orioles, PN-G ex Lew Ford’s major league career is probably over. Ford, who went to spring training with the Orioles, was farmed out to AA and suffered an injury that sidelined him for most of the summer, was released recently.  But he’s healthy again and not ready to give up baseball. Ford, 37, has  rejoined the Ducks for a fourth stint. . . . The Astros seem to make a lot of news for baseball’s worst team. Forbes magazine created quite a stir around them earlier in the week with a piece claming they are on pace to make $99 million in operating income in 2013, a figure which would be more than the last six World Series winners combined. Astros owner Jim Crane vehemently denied Forbes’ figures. Forbes attributed its estimate to a payroll slashed to $13 million and increased TV revenue. The latter, however, would be debatable because of CSN Houston’s ongoing dispute with over-the-air providers.

It was mentioned earlier in this column that Alabama is favored by 7 points at Texas A&M. Noteworthy about that number is that it’s the only game all season in which Nick Saban’s defending national champions are favored by less than double digits. Entering the 2013 season, the Crimson Tide has been favored in 41 consecutive games, a fact which makes A&M’s win in Birmingham last season all the more impressive . . . Some other college football betting nuggets from Pregame.com include five teams — Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia and Louisville — being favored in all their games and Texas listed as a 1-point favorite over Oklahoma. One Vegas bookmaker adds this little ditty than must really chap folks in the always overrated Big Ten. Ed Salmons says that six SEC teams — Alabama, Georgia, A&M, Florida, South Carolina and LSU — would be favored over Ohio State on a neutral field . . . The wait is over. I Beat Bob West returns in next    Wednesday’s Port Arthur News with the usual mix of 15 high school, college and NFL games. We’ll be giving away 10 I Beat Bob caps per week — providing 10 of you can beat me — plus a set of really cool-looking mugs for the best record each week. This year’s cap’s are red with white lettering.

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

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Bob West