A Toast of a Roast

Published 4:30 pm Monday, June 20, 2016

In a room full of Super Bowl winners and future NFL Hall of Famers, Bob West is a giant.

Some of the biggest names in NLF football gathered at the Bob Bowers Civic Center on June 3: Houston Texan J.J. Watt; Denver Bronco and Super Bowl 50 winner Demarcus Ware; and former Dallas Cowboys head coach and NFL broadcaster Jimmy Johnson. And even those who couldn’t attend in person – like future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, ESPN host Chris Berman and CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz –sent video messages.

All were there for the Port Arthur News Homecoming Roast honoring Denver Bronco’s defensive coordinator and hometown hero Wade Phillips.

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And what a roast it was. More than 900 people turned out to honor Phillips for his part in the Denver Broncos Super Bowl 50 win, where his defense shut down the Carolina Panthers offense allowing only 10 points.

But even in the midst of all those sports stars, Bob West was a standout. Coordinating and completing his 13th Homecoming Roast – which many are calling the best one ever in the city of Port Arthur – Bob hit a grand slam home run in front of his friends and family.

Bob is one of the best-known and well-respected sports writers in the state of Texas having garnered multiple press association awards for his work throughout his 43-year career as Sports Editor of The Port Arthur News. He also was named Sportswriter of the Year three times. Helping foundations raise funds is something Bob has done his entire career, as well. Coordinating other Homecoming Roasts for sports stars, Bum Phillips, Jimmy Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Little Joe Washington and many others, along with scholarship fund drives, Bob has helped to raise hundreds of thousand of dollars for his community.

Bob has been coordinating the homecoming roast for more than a decade. And the roasts aren’t just for sports fans and athletes. Political heavyweights like former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, Southeast Texas’ own U.S. Congressman Jack Brooks and state Sen. Carl Parker, along with renowned local attorney Walter Umphrey, all have helped raise funds during the events. Even a comedian named Don Rickles joined in on the fun one year.

This year’s roast brought more national media attention and recognition to the Port Arthur area than has been with past events. The event aired live on Time Warner Sports to a total viewership of roughly 10 million people. The roast was covered by NFL Football, ESPN and all the local media. In the background, making it all come together was Bob West.

The event raised more than $50,000, which will be donated to the Museum of the Gulf Coast tomorrow. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the museum uses donations such as these to keep growing, adding exhibits and keeping the community informed on the history of Port Arthur.

Now that Bob has retired, he’s talked of stepping back from the Homecoming Roast. If he does, that will be a loss for Port Arthur and our community. Even so, could anyone have imagined a more fitting final roast than a star-studded event covered by national media?

Maybe, just maybe, after the smoke settles and a few rounds of golf have relieved the stress of the hectic couple of months that created this genius event, Bob West will give us another evening of fun, laughter and pure enjoyment that only he knows how to do.

But if not, thank you, Bob. Thank you for the memories, the stories, and the Jerry Jones jokes and for being a true professional in the world of sports. You truly are “The Man.”