PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

May 4, 2013

West column: Nederland absence from NFL rosters remains puzzling

PORT ARTHUR —

    Southeast Texas’ biggest football mystery, now that Vance McDonald is pretty much a lock to make East Chambers the 23rd Southeast Texas high school to put a player on an NFL regular-season roster, is what’s the deal with Nederland? As best as I can determine, Nederland, Vidor and Orangefield are the lone Golden Triangle High Schools, past and present, to never have a player stick with an NFL team. Nederland boasts excellent football tradition, plenty of success — especially during the Larry Neumann era —  and players who were highly recruited going back to the 1960s. A former Bulldog — Buddy Davis — has won an Olympic gold medal and played in the NBA, and Brian Sanches and Eric Cammack have pitched in the major leagues. But not one Nederland ex  has gained a yard, thrown a block or made a tackle in the NFL. Jake David (Rams, 1966) and Leonard Forey (Browns, 1972) got drafted and Ronnie Gebauer (Eagles, 1972) and Don Clayton (Bills, 1979) nearly made it as free agents, but no Bulldog reached the regular season. Unless you count Bubba Tyer’s lengthy stint as the Washington Redskins trainer. So what gives? Bridge City (Jason Matthews, Shane Dronett and Matt Bryant) and PN-G (Robert Giblin, Mike Simpson) — the two schools that would be most comparable to Nederland over the years in the type of athletes — have broken through. Why not Nederland? Neumann and Neal Morgan, the coach and former coach most familiar with Nederland football, are as baffled as I am. The end of the drought, however, may be in sight. Senior defensive lineman/tight end DeShawn Washington, a 6-3, 285 pounder whom Neumann calls the most mobile and athletic big man he’s ever been around, has that ‘can’t miss’ look. He’s been recruited by a who’s who of college powers and has committed to Texas A&M. Watch for him in the 2018 draft.

    At long last somebody in authority said “no” to the NFL. Despite intense lobbying efforts from commissioner Roger Goodell on down, Florida lawmakers on Friday rejected legislation pushing a taxpayer-funded $350 million upgrade to the Miami Dolphins Sun Life Stadium. Goodell, as he usually does, was dangling a future Super Bowl for Miami and had to be shocked at what happened. Next to Florida taxpayers, the big winner from the rebuff will be the city of Houston. With Sun Life improvements blocked, Houston is now a lock to be awarded the 2017 Super Bowl when NFL owners meet later this month . . . Due to the Comcast situation, the opening round of the NBA playoffs was the first time for many Rockets fans to get an up close look at their favorite team. Though it was disappointing to see the Rockets fade late in game 6 against Oklahoma City Friday night, there’s a lot to like about this young team and where it’s headed. Houston GM Daryl Morey should get the NBA Executive of the Year Award for the pieces he’s assembled. The Rockets are still a player or two away from the upper echelon, and I’m not convinced Jeremy Lin is the answer at point guard, but the arrow is definitely pointing up. If you are a Rockets fan, this should be a most interesting off-season . . . Sure was funny to see Ozen ex Kendrick Perkins drop down and start doing pushups, after getting hit with a technical foul in Friday night’s game against the Rockets. Much as I like Kendrick on a personal level, he looked like more of  liability than an asset to the Thunder throughout the series. There’s just no way to put down a good spin when a guys has more fouls (21) and turnovers (13) in six games than he does points (12). Especially when his rebounds (3.3 per game) and blocked shots (2 total) were negligible. Hopefully, he can be more of a factor in round 2 against a Memphis team whose personnel suits him better.

    Things just keep getting better if you’re attached to Texas A&M’s football program in any way. In what had to be the best spring week in A&M’s history, the school announced a Kyle Field seating expansion to 102,500 that’s projected to be complete in August of 2015. At that point, the Aggies home stadium would be the largest in both Texas and the Southeastern Conference. Icing on the cake a couple of days later was the announcement of a Southeastern Conference TV network expected to pay member schools an extra $10 million to $14 million a year after implementation. Unlike the Longhorn Network, the SEC Network shouldn’t have much trouble getting picked up by cable providers. Sound like it’s time for the Aggies to send UT athletic Deloss Dodds another thank you note for the greed and arrogance that shoved A&M into the SEC . . . There was one troubling bit of news, well actually it was a prediction, concerning A&M’s future football success. SI.com, after wrapping up coverage of the 2013 NFL Draft, produced a mock draft for 2014 that had two A&M sophomores — QB  Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans — leaving two years early. SI.com’s projections had Manziel going 18th in the first round to Minnesota and Evans being taken 24th by the New York Giants. It’s just speculation, but it’s not that far fetched . . . USC quarterback Matt Barkley is the latest poster boy for how foolish it is to give up guaranteed pro money to stay in school. Barkley, had he gone into the 2011 draft after his junior season, was a sure-fire top 10 pick. Instead, he stuck around, struggled some, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and saw his draft-stock plummet. He wound up going to the Philadelphia Eagles at the 98th pick in the fourth round. At a minimum, staying in school cost Barkley $10 million on his first contract, and probably a lot more. Moral to that story: School is always going to be there. The really big money may not be.

    At long last somebody in authority said “no” to the NFL. Despite intense lobbying efforts from commissioner Roger Goodell on down, Florida lawmakers on Friday rejected legislation pushing a taxpayer-funded $350 million upgrade to the Miami Dolphins Sun Life Stadium. Goodell, as he usually does, was dangling a future Super Bowl for Miami and had to be shocked at what happened. Next to Florida taxpayers, the big winner from the rebuff will be the city of Houston. With Sun Life improvements blocked, Houston is now a lock to be awarded the 2017 Super Bowl when NFL owners meet later this month. Meanwhile, let’s hope what Florida did is the start of a trend of cutting off corporate welfare for fat-cat NFL owners whose greed knows no bounds  . . . Jerry Jones has been at his carnival-barker best this week, trying to find Cowboy fans willing  to believe all that stands between Dallas and the Super Bowl is quarterback Tony Romo putting in “Peyton Manning hours” at Valley Ranch. The implication, despite Jones’ denials, is that the Cowboys could have been so much better in recent years if Romo had spent less time on the golf course and more time at the practice facility.  Jethro, of course, knows the anti-Romo faction will buy into it because that’s what they want to believe. Others, however, will see through the shallow ploy of a con-man owner, knowing full well it’s been too much for Romo to overcome a moron of a GM, a lightweight head coach and a pitiful offensive line . . .

    It’s just a guess but Pamela Bryant, mother of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, probably shouldn’t expect anything special from her son next Sunday on Mother’s Day. Not after a dispute over Pamela’s plans to auction off a bunch of Kobe’s momentos led to a lawsuit. She’s already gotten $450,000 upfront from a New Jersey auction house on some 900 items with an estimated worth of over $1.5 million. But that was before Kobe learned of his mother’s plans to auction stuff that’s been in her home for years,  and had lawyers file a cease-and-desist order. The auction house responded by filing suit for the right to go through with its planned June auction . . . Michael Jordan may have been the greatest NBA player of all-time but a lot of basketball watchers from the 1970s and 80s argue for Julius Erving, aka Dr. J,  being the most amazing. ESPN will make a case for that on June 10 with a 90-minute documentary titled “The Doctor.” Its first airing will be on the 30th anniversary of Erving leading the Philadelphia 76ers to the 1983 NBA championship. Those who got a chance to meet Erving when he came to Port Arthur in 2002 for the Port Arthur News Homecoming Roast of Little Joe Washington will vouch for what a class act he is . . . One correction from last week’s column. Vance McDonald was not the first East Chambers player to be drafted. That honor went to linebacker Glenn Gaspard. Gaspard, who played collegiately at Texas, was taken by 49ers in the 10th round of the 1974 draft. He did not, however, make it out of training camp. Thanks to Dennis Sedtal for setting me straight.

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

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