PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

September 21, 2013

West column: Gonsoulin hoping to attend Denver salute on Friday

PORT ARTHUR —  

    Goose Gonsoulin, who has been in the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame since 1984, is hopeful he’ll be feeling good enough to travel to the Mile High City this week for a very special event being put on by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. Bowlen commissioned artist Brian Hanlon to do pillars of all 24 members of the Ring of Fame for a Ring of Fame Plaza to be unveiled Friday at 6 p.m. Each steel pillar is eight-feet tall, features the player’s likeness in bronze and contains a plaque with his name, uniform number and greatest accomplishments as a Bronoco. “It’s such an honor and I really want to go,” says Gonsoulin, a Port Arthur schoolboy star in the 1950s who is battling prostate cancer, and was hit hard by a recent chemo treatment. “I’m just really weak right now, but I’m going to leave the door open as long as I can.” . . . Brian Sanches is back home, after playing a key role in the Omaha Storm Chasers winning the championship of AAA baseball. Sanches started and was the winning pitcher when Omaha beat Salt Lake City last Saturday night for the Pacific Coast League title, then watched his teammates turn back the International League champion Durham Bulls, 2-1, for the AAA title Tuesday night. The Nederland and Lamar ex allowed two earned runs or less in 13 of his final 15 starts and posted a 1.38 ERA in the last eight starts. Normally those kind of numbers would get a pitcher promoted to the MLB affiliate, which in this case is Kansas City. It didn’t happen, however, a fact Sanches attributes mostly to the Royals having a strong staff and getting through the season without any serious injuries.

    Going into last week’s Alabama-Texas A&M shootout, the conventional wisdom of analysts was that college football’s shrewdest defensive coach, Nick Saban, with a year to prepare and college football’s best talent to help him, would have an answer for Johnny Manziel. In retrospect, that’s hilarious. Manziel wound up making Saban’s pride and joy look inept, while piling up 562 total yards, including 454 yards and five touchdowns passing. In two games, he’s torched the Tide for 707 passing yards, 907 total yards, seven TD passes, a 73 percent completion rate and 16-of-26 third down conversions. Nobody wants to see Manziel leave for the NFL after this season more than Saban . . . Manziel, by the way, had Las Vegas bookmakers drinking toasts to him, after rallying the Aggies in the fourth quarter and throwing his fifth TD pass with 15 seconds left to set the final score at 49-42. Alabama was a 7 1/2 point and bettors had loaded up on the defending national champions. Estimates pegged that last TD pass being worth $5 million to Vegas bookies. Figure it was worth double that much to illegal bookies . . . Speaking of Vegas action, a betting line has already been set for an Alabama-Oregon BCS championship game. Alabama is favored by three. It’s $120 to win $100 on Alabama or $100 to win $100 on Oregon. If the teams don’t face off, all bets are refunded.

    Nowhere is the line,  “the more things change the more they stay the same” more appropriate than with the Dallas Cowboys. After last week’s 17-16 loss in Kansas City, in which the Cowboys rushed only 13 times and pushed their season per-game rushing average to 62 yards, the company line was “we’ve got to run the ball more.” So how many times over the last few years have you heard that? Wasn’t that the reason Jerry Jones forced Jason Garrett to give up calling plays? What now, Jethro? Are you going to put on a headset and do the play-calling yourself ? ? ? Nice to see Jamaal Charles finally getting credit from NFL analysts as more than just a guy who excels with his speed. Mike Mayock on the NFL Network Thursday night made the point several times that Charles is a tough inside runner. The Cowboys would probably second that, after the way the Memorial ex ran the ball down their throat late in the fourth quarter last Sunday. While Charles’ rushing average is going to drop off in Andy Reed’s offense, his value is going up. One key stat is that he’s the NFL leader in first downs produced. He’s got 25 . . . Huge game for the Texans today in Baltimore. They can’t afford to lose to the Ravens, because of what’s in their path. Houston’s next two opponents — Seattle and San Francisco — are arguably the best two teams in the NFL. A loss today could easily be the start of a three-game losing streak. It won’t help against the Ravens that the Texans will have backup left tackle Ryan Harris protecting Matt Schaub’s blind side against one of the game’s best pass rushers — Terrell Suggs.

    Imagine being a high profile football recruit and spending last Saturday afternoon on the sidelines in College Station, then hustling over to Austin for the Longhorns night game with Ole Miss. At one place, you are in the middle of one of the most frenzied atmospheres in college football, and see an exciting shootout between two top 10 teams. At the other, you see the home team’s head coach booed when he’s shown on the scoreboard asking for a charitable donation, then watch a mass exodus of fans throughout the fourth quarter of another blowout loss. Where would you want to spend the next four years ? ? ? Don’t think I’ve ever read seen Texas’ program pummeled in print more than it was last week. There was a knee-slapping satire and an equally hilarious parody, one suggesting actor Matthew McConaughey needed to be the next Longhorns coach and the other an apology from Mack Brown in advance of the Longhorns taking a 66-17 beating from Oklahoma next month in Dallas. The writer, pointing out the Sooners have beaten the Longhorns by 38 or more points four times during the Brown era, used all the old familiar Mack quotes to explain the loss that was about to happen. Funny, funny stuff. Then there was Andy Staples’ assessment on SI.com that was really, really harsh. It left little doubt Texas is a talented team that is and has been poorly coached. If Joe Jamail reads it, he may want to sue SI . . . Jamail probably won’t appreciate this either. The latest list of schools with the most players in the NFL as of the 2013 season opener was released last week. Texas, with 31, ranked No. 5, slightly of ahead Alabama which was seventh with 30 players in the NFL. USC, whose coach is even on a hotter seat than Brown, is tops with 40. LSU (39), Miami (38) and George (36) are next. Florida St. is tied with Texas’ 31.

     There’s one more name to add to Southeast Texas’ list of all-time NFL players and I can’t believe I missed this one. Rice tight end Vance McDonald became the first East Chamber player to stick in the NFL, after the San Francisco 49ers took him in the second round of the 2013 draft. Another East Chambers player, Glenn Gaspard, was drafted by the 49ers in the 10th round in 1974, but didn’t make it to the regular season. McDonald brings the all-time Southeast Texas roster to 99 (93 players, four coaches, two trainers) . . . Never thought I would see a TV ratings number like this attached to a professional sports team. The Astros, for their game last Saturday night against the Los Angeles Angels, drew a Nielsen rating of 0.04 on Comcast SportsNet Houston. According to the Houston Chronicle, that broke the old record of 0.05 set Sept. 9, 2012 in a game against Cincinnati. An 0.04 translates to an average of roughly 1,000 viewers. Think about that for a minute . . . At the other end of the TV ratings spectrum was the Texas A&M-Alabama game. It drew a 9.0 rating and a 21 share, which was the highest rated regular-season college football game since Miami-Notre Dame in 1990. No way that game pulls anywhere close to those kind of numbers if a guy named Manziel isn’t playing QB for the Aggies . . . For those upset about a late paper and incomplete sports section Saturday morning, it was the night from hell at the PA News due to a power outage that hit shortly before 11 p.m. and lasted until after 2 a.m.  Nobody wants to know how the sausage is made, but you should know Roger Cowles, Tom Halliburton and Dave Rogers delivered a heroic and creative effort to finally get a semblance of a section to the press from Cowles’ home at 4:30 a.m.

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

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