John Wooten, Chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance (an advocacy group that works in conjunction with the NFL) is featured on “H-Town Sports Talk with Lenny Moon”. The show airs on Sports Radio America (www.sportsradioamerica.com) from 2:00 PM- 3:00 PM cst. Wooten played nine seasons in the NFL (1959-1967) and helped paved the way for perhaps the greatest player the game has ever seen in the legendary Jim Brown. This contingent led the Browns to the 1964 NFL Championship, which was the last time a Cleveland professional spots team had won a title prior to the LeBron James-led Cavaliers in 2016.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance monitors the interview process for minorities in the NFL in the areas of head coaches, front office personnel and referees among others.
On the surface, when a professional football player has authored a whopping 16 NFL Records then unquestionably we’re talking about a first ballot hall of famer. That’s unless the athlete in question is Terrell Eldorado Owens (aka “T-O”). Despite the mercurial 6-3, 225 pound wide receiver that can still post a 4.4 40-yard dash at 44-years of age, Owens was overlooked in 2017 during his first year of eligibility. At this point, a lot of the attention shifted to “TO’s” reputation as being somewhat self-centered with publicity driven antics whose comments often suggested the “first person” point of view during his sessions with reporters. Who will ever forget the time after he scored a TD, immediately racing to midfield where the Dallas Cowboys star is painted to stand supreme over the image before being blasted by one of the poke’s defenders. Or the infamous statement of “I love me some me” that went viral; both aforementioned incidents while a member of the San Francisco 49ers (his first of five teams).
The attention should have shifted to the process. What is the criteria for earning Hall of Fame status? When one proves himself as eclipsing most of the league’s existing standards in his category and never created any reasons to be judged as anything other than a law-abiding citizen, then why impose the punishment of having him wait an extra year only to appear to prove to him who actually has the last say. Well Owens has countered that notion by announcing that when it comes to his Hall of Fame acknowledgement, he has chosen to make his speech at his alma mater of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Why is this being perceived as bad judgement when one decides to choose their own path when it comes to the biggest day in their professional life? “TO” can be labeled quite a few things during his colorful NFL career. But one thing he can’t be deemed guilty of is “not” being his own man. As 8-time Mr Olympian Lee Haney once proclaimed when I had the privilege of interviewing him some two decades back “There are too many sheep and not enough shepherds in our society”.
When Muhammad Ali was judged to be “anti-establishment” when he refused to accept being drafted due to religious beliefs during the View Nam conflict in the 60’s, he was publicly excoriated and stripped of his World Heavyweight Championship title, along with his passport taken so he could not earn a living outside of the country as well. Curt Flood challenged Major League Baseball in the courtroom and was “black-balled” from the sport for his fight for freedom of movement for MLB players. Although Flood never personally benefitted, he eventually won his case and “free agency” was born from this effort and mult-million dollar contracts soon followed when teams had to bid for talent. What about John Carlos and Tommy Smith’s black glove salute during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City who were highlighting impoverished conditions in minority communities along with police brutality back home in the USA. They were promptly bounced from the confines and banned from participating in the Olympics for life. In recent times, we’ve seen similar sentiments surrounding the Colin Kaepernick case.
Regardless of which side of Owens situation one stands, he certainly has every right to make the decision that he’s made. As with the small sampling of cases mentioned above, that is one of the aspects that will always make this country great if one is bold enough to exercise their constitutional right and at times, accept the consequences.
2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame selection Robert “Dr Doom” Brazile was roasted on Monday night at the Improv Comedy Club-Houston by several former teammates along with area HOFamers. Among the roasters were Warren Moon, Kenny Houston, Curley Culp, Elvin Bethea, Mean Joe Green, Dan Pastorini, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson among others. This event was a prelude to “Dr Doom” being officially inducted in Canton, Ohio in August.
Brazile was the 6th pick of the 1975 NFL Draft and played his entire 10-year NFL career with the Houston Oilers, earning pro bowl status seven times. The Mobile, Alabama native was a member of the NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team although only playing half of those seasons.
Former Alcorn State All-American quarterback Steve McNair has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame. The mercurial Mt Olive, Ms native posted unworldly career numbers and would become only the second Heisman Trophy candidate from a Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) that played the quarterback position in 1994 (Doug Williams of Grambling was the first in 1977). McNair raised the bar while at Alcorn, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which participates in the Football Championship Series or 1-AA. His 16,823 career yards and 14,496 passing yards are still records that have now stood for nearly a quarter of a century.
With that said, I had the privilege of broadcasting football in the conference all of Steve’s four years during his stay “on the Reservation” as it was known by SWAC foes. I can’t remember a player entering the league with as much advance hype as McNair prior to his taking his first snap. But upon my initial witnessing of this ultra-talented and ultra-athletic signal caller, I was quickly convinced why this type of reputation was an accurate fit. Sure his brother Fred was tabbed as “Air McNair” and it was only natural that the “Air II McNair” moniker was attached to Steve. Covering sports on a multitude of levels for several decades, one tends to readily identify special athletes when they cross the path. Whatever that “it factor” is supposed to be, then McNair possessed that element in abundance. Some attempted to counter with the competition level or lack thereof. But only a couple of decades prior, Jackson State (SWAC member) provided the NFL with the 4th pick and the 6th pick of the 1975 NFL Draft (Walter Payton and Robert Brazile) from the same team and both are Pro Football Hall of Famers.
Placing the labels to the side, special is special. This guy was not only a prolific passer, but one of the most elusive athletes I’ve seen on the gridiron (regardless of position). Steve was one of the most electrifying runners in college football as well when coverage broke down. I could easily go on, but the College Football Hall of Fame would be elevated by adding one of their brightest stars to their prestigious hall.
Former NBA Coach of the Year (1991) Don Chaney talked with Lenny Moon about his participation in one of the most significant college basketball games ever, that transpired in 1968. Chaney’s second ranked Houston Cougars hosted defending national champions and top ranked UClA before a record crowd and a rare national televison audience for that era. The game featured the two future hall of famers in Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Jabbar) of the Bruins and Elvin Hayes of the Cougars. Many credited this contest as a prelude for what we know recognize as the “March Madness”.
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Lloyd Wells, the first full time African American scout in pro football, talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about the fierce competition between the AFL and NFL to secure premium talent from the collegiate ranks. This instance speaks to the ultra-talented wide receiver Otis Taylor who had starred for Prairie View A&M and coveted by both leagues during the 1965 draft. Wells was instrumental in providing the Chiefs with a liaison to the then largely untapped talent being produced by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Aggressive tactics were at play during this era in the battle to procure the best talent being amplified by the upstart AFL. Taylor would go on to lead the Chiefs to 23-7 victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Director Joe Horrigan talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon (see above video) about the festivities surrounding the 2018 Hall of Fame ceremonies slated for August 2-6 in Canton, Ohio. Inducted into the “Class of 2018” will be Bobby Bethard, Robert Brazile, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens and Brian Dawkins
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Michael Strahan talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about his college football playing days while a student-athlete at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tx. Strahan would go on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014 after spending his entire NFL career with the New York Giants. Moon was on the TSU football broadcasting team during Strahan’s development into a star not only in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, but all of college football specializing in pressuring the quarterback.
Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about blocking for two of the greatest running backs ever. Slater led the way for Walter Payton while the two were playing at Jackson State. “Sweetness” would go on to become the 4th player selected in the 1975 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Slater, who played his entire 20-year career with the Rams, would later block for Eric “Pony Express” Dickerson who still holds the single season record for rushing yards. All three of the aforementioned are Pro Football Hall of Famers. (See video link above)
James Shack Harris talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about his struggle to overcome the stereotype and become the first regular starting Black signal caller in the NFL. Harris would go on to become the first Black QB to earn All-Pro status and embellish that feat by being the first Black quarterback to walk away with the NFL Pro Bowl MVP award. (See video link above)
Veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon talks with Black College Football Hall of Fame founders James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams about their partnership with the NFL about procuring permanent housing within the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio (See video link above)
John Wooten, Chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, discusses with Lenny Moon his organization’s position on former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The FPA was formulated in 2003 for the purposes of increased access and opportunity for minorities interested in coaching, front office and scouting positions in the NFL. Wooten is a former Pro Bowl offensive guard for Cleveland and Washington from 1958-68. Following his playing career, the Colorado University alum became Director of Scouting with the Dallas Cowboys from 1975-1991. He also served as VP/Player Personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992 and Assistant Director of Pro/College scouting for the Baltimore Ravens until his retirement in 1998. Kaepernick has not been offered another QB job in the NFL since his silent protest addressing unjust treatment of minorities. (See video link above)
Thomas Hollywood Henderson talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about the origin of his controversial assessment of Pittsburgh Steelers star QB Terry Bradshaw. The versatile Langston University product was recently inducted into the Black Colege Football Hall of Fame. (See video link above)
Dusty Baker talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about the tumultuous home run chase of teammate Henry Aaron back in the 70’s. The two were middle of the lineup sluggers for the Atlanta Braves where the senior Aaron became Baker’s mentor. Known as “The Hammer” during his active career, Aaron would go on to break Babe Ruth’s existing standard of 714 round trippers in 1974 with Baker on deck at the time of his historic clout. Baker discusses the death threats and other challenges faced when “The Hammer” closed in on the prestigous record that many “did not” want to see a Black man own. (See video link above)
Basketball icon Michael Jordan sat down with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon back during the 1991-92 NBA campaign. The Chicago Bulls were making their only appearance in H-Town where the defending champs were preparing to take on the homestanding Houston Rockets led by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. MJ discusses the maturation of team’s 1987 Draft mates Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. (See video link above)
Veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon talks with CBS Sports college basketball personality Clark Kellogg about his distinctive delivery of the sport of roundball. The Cleveland OH native played collegiately at Ohio State and professionally with the Indiana Pacers where he was drafted with the 8th pick of the 1st round of the 1982 NBA Draft. (See video link above)
Kenny “Jet” Smith reflects with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about the Houston Rockets back to back NBA Championships of 1994 & 95. The Rockets defeated the New York Knicks in their first conquest and the Orlando Magic the next campaign. The “Clutch City” contingent was led by low post star Hakeem Olajuwon, Jet Smith, Vern Maxwell, Otis Thorpe, Robert Horry, Sam Cassell and Mario Elie. The following campaign, Houston native Clyde “Glide” Drexler was added to surplant Thorpe to sweep Shaq O’Neal and the Magic (See video link above)
Pro Football Hall of Fame selection Robert “Dr Doom” Brazile chats with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about his trek to becoming a Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Class of 2018. The former Houston Oilers star will be officially inducted in August of 2018. (See video link above)
Mike Wilborn chats with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about the early success of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” aka PTI (circa 2004). The show first aired on Oct 2001 and nearly 17 years later, still going strong. (See video link above)
The 2018 NBA Finals pitting the defending champ Golden State Warriors vs the Cleveland Cavaliers are shaping up for the most part in predictable fashion. The Bay Area group is spearheaded by four all-stars in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. Solid complimentary entities such as Shaun Livingston, David West and Andre Iguodala give coach Steve Kerr the versatility to execute the league’s best high-powered offense with the ultimate efficiency.
On the other hand, Cavs superstar LeBron James continue to defy father time by enjoying perhaps his best all around season in 2017-18 and has doubled-down in the playoffs with his ability to play all five positions at a high level. James has not received the dependable from any of his teammates forcing the Akron Ohio native to over-extend at times, mostly being the only threat on his side of the floor.