Reggie Miller is a stud. He’s pushing 40 and is talking retirement, but he can still drill the ball. He’s been with one team, Indiana, his entire NBA career since 1987. His career PPG average is 18.2. He has a career 89% from the foul line. And he’s got his head screwed on very straight, and is a class act. I’m a great fan of Reggie, and I hope he comes back next year.
As long as we’re on the subject of the NBA, they’re not all like Reggie. We know A.I. is the general manager of the Sixers. We know Kobe is the general manager of the Lakers. And young Lebron made it clear that he’ll have a voice in choosing Cleveland’s next head coach. Whatever money NBA coaches pull in, it isn’t enough; they have to deal with pro sports’ greatest egos. I wouldn’t want any part of it.
My friend, Jack Weinstein, is from Detroit, and knew both Hank Greenberg and Joe Louis back in Detroit many years ago. Jack owns Tower Of Jewels here in Las Vegas, a major jewelry manufacturer and diamond broker. See Jack for your jewelry needs, and tell him I sent you. (Jack, I expect at least a Rolex President for this ad.)
If the NFL or MLB is looking for an expansion city, look no further. It is the largest most populous conurbation in North America with over 22 million people. It has 8.6 million residents in its city limits alone. It has chunks of corporations to buy chunks of season tickets and sky boxes. It has vociferous sports fans. And it’s most appealing attribute is its magnificent women. It is a fair distance from neighboring league cities; its closest neighbor is Houston at 748 miles. But that’s really not a major problem with plane travel being what it is. I’d love to own the NFL or MLB franchise in Mexico City. The Mexico City Machos would be worth mucho dinero. Yes, I’ll pick the cheerleaders myself.
Story of the Week
My urologist here in Las Vegas is absolutely outstanding; his name is Sheldon Freedman. He is an avid sports fan from Philadelphia. I made a deal with him recently; if he continues to keep me alive, I’ll do an article about any sports figure he chooses. I’m delighted to advise you that I’m alive, so now I’m meeting my end of the deal. Dr. Freedman chose a most unique former athlete, and one for whom I have tremendous respect. That man is former NFL star Chuck Bednarik.
Why do I refer to Chuck Bednarik as unique? The #60 he wore on his Eagles jersey was prophetic, a harbinger of his now-enduring fame as a National Football League player who played 60 minutes a game. He once stated that “I didn’t feel any worse after 60 minutes than I used to feel after 30 minutes----when we won. If we’d lost, they’d have had to carry me off the field on a stretcher.”
Chuck Bednarik is pro football’s last 60-minute player; his primary positions were center on offense and linebacker on defense. He played bigger than he was at 6-3 and 233. Just imagine how demanding and how physically-punishing those two positions are if played simultaneously for a full game.
Bednarik was many things during his outstanding 14-years in the NFL, but he’ll always be remembered for the one magical season he celebrated at the veteran football age of 35. When the 1960 NFL season began, Bednarik was beginning his 12th. league season, and sixth straight at center after a mid-career switch from linebacker. But an injury to linebacker Bob Pellegrini in the Eagles’ fifth game prompted coach Buck Shaw to ask Chuck to revive the long-discarded concept of two-way football. The former University of Pennsylvania star played both ways the rest of the season, and capped off his championship game performance with a victory-saving tackle of Green Bay’s Jim Taylor at the Eagles’ 10-yard line.
Bednarik was as rugged as it gets. He was an old-school competitor who threw his body around the playing field with reckless abandon, whether creating holes as a relentless blocker on offense, or making punishing tackles on defense. He had a reputation for his mean streak on the field, and that simply fed into his success.
The eight-time pro-bowler finished his career in 1962 with a total of 20 interceptions and a reputation for durability. He missed only three of a possible 172 career games. 1960 was his second championship season as an Eagle; he contributed to Philadelphia’s 1949 championship as a rookie. Chuck Bednarik was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967.
I have to admit that, in writing about Chuck Bednarik, I did find it a bit difficult only by virtue of the fact that the positions of offensive center and defensive linebacker are not quantifiable. I can’t throw lots of impressive stats at you in this writing. What I can do, however, is share those available stats with you, and at least attempt to draw a picture of this last two-way 60-minute pro football player. (I can think of a couple of players who went both ways briefly since Bednarik, but not for an entire season, and not for a full 60 minutes per game.) To reiterate, Chuck Bednarik was unique.
Last Week’s Trivia
The 1963 Dodgers swept the Yankees in the World Series using only four pitchers. Who were they? Sandy Koufax pitched two complete games. Don Drysdale pitched one complete game. Johnny Podres pitched 8 1/3 innings of the other game, and needed brief relief help from Ron Perranoski to close it. The Yankees scored a collective four runs in the Series off the great Dodgers pitching.
Trivia Question of the Week
My good friend, George Ostfeld of Las Vegas, gave me this one. What is Dutch Levsen’s claim to fame? Others accomplished this feat before him in his pro sport, but he was the last to do it. You’ll never see it happen again. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.