, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

September 1, 2012

Charles starts his fifth NFL season in elite company

PORT ARTHUR — Nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks Jamaal Charles is the best of the 45 former Texans Longhorns now playing in the NFL. Josh McKinney of made that point last week in a listing that also ranked West Orange-Stark’s Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks No. 3. Charles, who has shown his old explosiveness and burst in limited pre-season action with Kansas City, could end his fifth NFL season owning the highest career average yards per carry in league history. He’s already the unofficial No. 1 with a remarkable  6.07 per attempt, but his 499 carries do not yet qualify him in the official records. Nearest to Jamaal is Jim Brown at 5.22. Rounding out the all-time top five are Mercury Morris (5.14), DeAngelo Williams (5.07) and Gale Sayers (5.0). Charles also owns two of the top six single-season averages in NFL history — 6.38 in 2010 and 5.89 in 2009. Others in the top six are Brown (6.4 in 1963), Barry Sanders (6.13 in 1997), O.J. Simpson (6.03 in 1973) and Brown again (5.94 in 1958) . . . Speaking of former Longhorns, Vince Young is once again a QB without a team, after Buffalo decided he was not a good fit as the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Young, in the past 20 months, has been cut by the Titans, Eagles and Bills. As you would expect, talk shows in Houston have been flooded by Young fans wanting the Texans to sign him. Fortunately, Houston management is smarter than to do something that not only wouldn’t make the Texans better, but would create an instant QB controversy the first time Matt Schaub threw an interception.

When Prairie View A&M takes on Lamar in the Cardinals home opener next Saturday, it will be a homecoming of sorts for former TJ place-kicking great Brian Morgan. Morgan, who launched his coaching career at Memorial, coaches running backs and special teams at Prairie View, and is also the Panthers recruiting coordinator. For those not familiar with Brian’s background, he was a rare white star at Grambling, where he was a three-time team captain from 2001-04, helped the Tigers win SWAC titles in 2001 and 2002 and finished as the all-time leading kick scorer in the SWAC with the help of 50 field goals . . . LU football head coach Ray Woodard and defensive coordinator Bill Bradley may be in for a bit of a financial windfall. Much to their surprise, both learned recently that they might be entitled to workers compensation in the state of California after suffering injuries playing pro football there. Neither knew about the other’s situation until Woodard told Bradley he had to go to California in July to be examined by a doctor. Bradley told Woodard he’d done  that a month earlier. Both are hoping for a cash settlement but may have to make another trip to California for a deposition . . . It’s bound to be a touching scene in Austin next Saturday night when Alzheimer’s-stricken former University of Texas coaching legend Darrell Royal and wife Edith go to midfield for the coin toss as honorary captains for the Longhorns game against Wyoming. Earl Campbell will also be one of the honorary captains.

Don’t buy any of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s propaganda about scab officials doing a good job and there being little impact on the way the game is played when the regular season begins. Veteran players are going to be taking full advantage of the reluctance of replacement refs to throw flags and nobody knows that better than professional gamblers who are always looking for an edge. According to R.J. Bell of, there is already anticipation that smart money will be directed to physical teams likely to push the envelope when it comes to holding. Here’s hoping the NFL’s high-profile season opener between the Cowboys and Giants Wednesday night turns into an officiating fiasco, with the game decided by a clearly incorrect call . . . Is there nothing Jerry Jones won’t do to prostitute himself or the Cowboys? You have to wonder after Jethro made himself look even more foolish than usual with his asinine rap commercial for Papa John’s Pizza. His attempt at being a rapper is not only pathetic, it’s rubbing some folks the wrong way. Between the new commercial and the furor over the “Dez Bryant Rules”, Jones continues to do a great job of overshadowing his team . . . Two thumbs up to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lamar Woodley. With public school athletic budgets everywhere being squeezed by education cuts, and many places requiring participation fees that kids from low-income families can’t pay, Woodley stepped up big. He wrote a check for $60,000 to cover the $75 participation fee for all male and female athletes in his hometown of Saginaw, Mich. Hopefully, other professional athletes will take note of Woodley’s generosity and help in their schools.

Taking shots at Notre Dame and its holier-than-thou football program is no longer fun, since the Fighting Irish haven’t been relevant in the big picture for well over a decade. Now, thanks to Alan Pinkett, who led the Fighting Irish in rushing from 1983-85, we know the reason for the fall. Pinkett, in remarks he quickly came to regret last week, suggested that what the football program really needs is more outlaws being admitted to school. Or something along those lines. All hell, as you would suspect, broke loose, starting with Pinkett being banished from Notre Dame’s radio broadcast team. What’s both sad and funny is that he’s probably right and was just saying what others think but won’t say out loud . . . If 14-point underdog Michigan covered the point spread against Alabama Saturday night at JerryWorld, the big winner apparently will be boxing champion Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather, well known for making huge bets in Las Vegas, reportedly had $2.9 million on Michigan and the points, with the bets spread around nine Vegas sports books. Nearly 70 percent of the money down on the game was said to have been on Alabama . . . A live auction of 11 items at Lamar’s kickoff banquet last Sunday night raised $25,700 for the Cardinal program and left head coach Ray Woodard shaking his head. Woodard was amazed that a two-hour Neches River Party cruise for 30, with a listed value of $1,000, sold for $5,000, while a trip for four, including airfare on the team charter, hotel, game tickets and sideline passes for the Cardinals Sept. 13 game at the University of Hawaii, fetched only $4,000.

Chris Stroud didn’t make it to the second round of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs at the TPC Boston, but memory of his dramatic shot on the 72nd hole there last Labor Day did. Stroud nearly holed a 3-iron for a double eagle from 220-yards on the par 5, then sank the ensuing 3-foot eagle putt to move into the top 70 and advance to the third round. Though he’s really struggled of late, Chris was surprisingly upbeat during a conversation we had on Wednesday. With five weeks off, he says he expects to come back and play well in the PGA Tour’s final four events of 2012 . . . It had to happen sooner to later. First, there was Boise State with blue turf on its home field. Then along came Eastern Washington last season with red turf. Now West Salem High School in Salem, Ore., has opted for a black turf and named its field “The Black Hole.” So what’s next. Orange turf? Purple turf? Gold turf? Where does it end ? ? ? Can’t wrap this up without a huge pat on the back for Tom Halliburton and his efforts in putting together the Port Arthur News Football 2012. Laying out a 44-page special section is tedious and time-consuming. Making it look as good as Tom did, with so much attention to detail, says a lot about professionalism and pride. Tomis long on both, which is why readers received such a polished product.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at




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