The Black College Football Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2012. The newest members were selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Committee. The inductees will be honored February 18, 2012 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis during the third annual enshrinement ceremony.
The inductees will be Willie Brown (DB, Grambling State, 1959–1963), Harry Carson (DE, South Carolina State, 1972–1975), Eldridge Dickey (QB, Tennessee State, 1964–67), James Harris (QB Grambling State, 1965–1968), Claude Humphrey (DE, Tennessee State, 1964–67), Steve McNair (QB, Alcorn State, 1991–94), Willie Richardson (WR, Jackson State, 1959–1962), Johnny Sample (DB/RB, Maryland Eastern Shore, 1954–1958), Rayfield Wright (OL, Fort Valley State, 1963–1966), Cleve Abbott (head coach, Tuskegee, 1923–1954) and Jackie Graves (former NFL scout, former director of personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles).
The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October 2009 to honor the greatest football players and coaches from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Brown lettered all four years at split end and outside linebacker during his time at Grambling. He was a member of legendary coach Eddie Robinson’s first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship team in 1960. Although undrafted out of college, he would retire the only NFL player to intercept at least one pass in 16 consecutive seasons.
During his 12 years with the Oakland Raiders, he played in three AFL and six AFC championship games, as well as Super Bowls II and XI. He finished his career with 54 interceptions. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
Carson played for coach Willie Jeffries at South Carolina State and did not miss a single game in four years. He became the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player to win consecutive Defensive Player of the Year honors, and led the Bulldogs to consecutive conference titles. In 1975, he set school records with 117 tackles and 17 sacks.
Carson was a fourth round draft pick of the New York Giants in 1976. He spent all of his 13 seasons with them. He led the Giants in tackles for five seasons. In 2006, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Dickey was a three-time HBCU All-American at Tennessee State. He completed his collegiate career with 6,523 passing yards and 67 touchdowns. Dickey was considered a gifted athlete with his strongest positions being quarterback and punter. With Dickey under center, the 1966 TSU team earned its first undefeated, untied season and first National Black College Football Championship. In 1968, the Oakland Raiders drafted Dickey in the first round.
With Harris at quarterback, Grambling won or shared all four SWAC titles. He was named MVP of the 1967 Orange Blossom Classic. As a senior, Harris passed for 1,972 yards and 21 touchdowns on only 225 attempts. In three years as Grambling’s quarterback, he led the Tigers to a 24-5-1 record.
He went on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills and became the first Black player to start a season at quarterback. In 1974, he led the Los Angeles Rams to an NFC Western Division title and their first playoff victory since 1951. Harris then became the first African-American quarterback to start a conference championship game. Harris was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team in 1974 and was awarded MVP of that game.
Humphrey was an All-American lineman at Tennessee State under coach John Merritt. Humphrey helped the Big Blue Tigers to a 35-3-1 record. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Humphrey in the first round with the third overall choice. He played on the Philadelphia Eagles 1981 Super Bowl team.
McNair had many standout seasons with Alcorn State. In 1992, he threw for 3,541 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more. In 1993, the Braves upped their record to 8-3 while McNair threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. In his senior year, he gained nearly 6,000 yards rushing and passing, along with 53 touchdowns.
He was drafted by the Houston Oilers with the third overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft and became a full time starter for 10 years, leading the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl XXXIV.
Richardson became one of the most honored players in the great history of the SWAC. He was a four-time member of the Pittsburgh Courier Black All-American team. In his final two seasons, he led Jackson State to a SWAC title and a Black College National Championship. Richardson caught 171 passes for 36 touchdowns and played safety on defense.
In the NFL, Richardson was a seventh round selection by the Baltimore Colts. With the Colts and Miami Dolphins he played eight seasons. He also played for the Colts in 1969 Super Bowl.
Sample was a standout at Maryland State College. In 1957, playing offense and defense, he was selected to the Little All-American Team by the Pittsburgh Courier and to the All-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Team. During his college career, he led the Hawks to an overall record of 28 wins, one loss and one tie, while averaging 21.6 points a game.
He is the only professional football player to have won all three: an NFL, AFL and Super Bowl championship. Sample finished his 11 professional football seasons with 41 interceptions, which he returned for 460 yards and four touchdowns. On special teams, he returned 68 punts for 559 yards and a touchdown, along with 60 kickoffs for 1,560 yards and a touchdown. Sample led the NFL in punt return yards in 1961.
Wright was known as a great athlete for his size. After being a standout at Fort Valley State, Wright was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a tight end. After three years of playing tight end, he played 166 games starting at right tackle and played in six NFC championship games and five Super Bowls winning two of them (Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Abbott was the eighth football coach for the Tuskegee University Golden Tigers located in Tuskegee, Al. He held that position for 32 seasons, from 1923 until 1954. His football coaching record at Tuskegee, where he was also a Hall of Fame track coach, was 202 wins, 97 losses and 27 ties. This ranks him first at the school in total wins and fifth in winning percentage (.661). The football stadium at Tuskegee bears Abbott’s name.
A former director of personnel and scout for the Philadelphia Eagles, Graves made a huge impact on Black College Football. Graves was a pioneer in bringing qualified players from the HBCU system to the professional ranks.
Walking into the new Darby Recreation Center you can see right away why this sports complex is special. It has a beautiful basketball court where youngsters of all ages come to play. But what’s really special is Sonny Realer, the director of recreation, who oversees the facility’s various activities such as basketball, flag football, table tennis and soccer. The recreation center is located at 1020 Ridge Avenue, not far from where Realer grew up in Darby.
Realer, a retired teacher and basketball coach from Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Del., was a tremendous athlete. He was a football and basketball standout at Darby-Colwyn High School. He knows the value of sports and extracurricular activities.
Realer, 66, enjoys working with the kids who come to the recreation center. He wants them to know that sports can be used as a vehicle to success.
“The kids who come here, the boys and the girls, have a great place to release their energy,” Realer said. “If you want to release your energy, this is the place you want to be. This is what I call controlled energy and what I’m trying to instill in them right now is discipline and respect. Sports can do a lot for these kids. They can learn social skills. They learn how to play in a team concept. These kids can develop friendships for life.”
Realer was an All-Delaware County wide receiver at Darby-Colwyn. He and quarterback Charles “Pete” Coleman, an All-Delco selection, formed quite a passing combination. They were great football players, but also sensational basketball players.
Realer and Coleman played with Hal Booker and David Kennard on Darby-Colwyn High’s 1962 and 1963 state championship basketball teams. Hal Blitman was the head coach of the Rams that put together those back-to-back state titles.
Realer was able to develop into a good player with the help of some great mentors in Darby. They still stop by to see Realer at the recreation center along with other terrific athletes from the community.
“You know, (Harry) Butch Collins and Stan Hill have come down to the recreation center,” Realer said. “It’s nice to see them. Of course, George Carey and Al (Alonzo) Lewis come down here quite regularly. They were the guys who used to take me, Pete and Booker around to play basketball.
“They were the ones who started the traveling from town to town to play basketball. That’s how I learned how to play. They were the older guys who took us under their wing. We used to go to Lansdowne, Yeadon, Chester and West Philly to play basketball. Some times we would get beat and other times we would beat them.”
Realer played his college basketball at Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University). The Wolves had some powerhouse basketball teams during the 1960s. Realer had a great college basketball career (1965–69). In 2006, he was inducted into the Cheyney Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I played two years with David and Booker,” Realer said. “Our high school coach, Hal Blitman, was our college coach at Cheyney. He was a good coach. My junior year, we had a great team with Booker, Trooper Washington and all those guys. We were the No. 1 small college basketball team in the country at that time. We had three guys who went to the pros.”
Those Cheyney teams were outstanding, but Realer often reflects on the two consecutive state title teams that finished with undefeated records.
“It really hit me the last 10 to 15 years of my life,” Realer said. “We were 50–0. We won 50 games in a row over two years. You know winning back was really something.”
Realer still loves the game. He likes watching basketball as well as playing the game. He plays in a 50 and over league in Delaware. He competes in the Senior Olympics, too.
“I still have a good time playing basketball,” Realer said. “They have two divisions 50–55 and 55–60. I’ve played basketball in Louisville, University of Pittsburgh and different places with the Senior Olympics. A couple months ago, I went to Buffalo, New York to play.”
There are a number of terrific athletes in the Realer family like his older brother, John, and younger brothers, Walt and Jerry, who all played football and basketball. His sister, Carolyn, played field hockey and basketball. Sports have played a big role in the lives of so many in Darby. Every year Realer and his teammates get together for the annual Darby reunion.
“We have dinner every year in March,” he said. “It’s just the guys from Darby. We come back and fellowship with the guys. It’s unbelievable the number of guys who come back each year. We all have a good time, too.”
Realer is married and resides in Wilmington with his wife, Tracey Smith Realer, who grew up in Yeadon. They have two sons, Miles and Malcolm, and a daughter, Marissa. Realer is a chair trustee board member at Mt. Zion AME Church, 10th and Center streets, in Darby.
“I’ve been very fortunate over the years,” Realer said. “It’s nice to be able to come back to Darby and make a difference in the community.”
Dominique Curry grew watching the Philadelphia Eagles play on Sunday afternoons. Now, Curry, former George Washington High, Cheyney University and California University (PA) standout, will be playing against his hometown team on Sunday when the St. Louis Rams host the Philadelphia Eagles at 1 p.m. (Fox Channel 29).
“It’s a blessing to be able to make the team for my second year let alone play my hometown team,” said Curry, a wide receiver and special teams player. “I think half the people back home want to see me play on TV, but they haven’t since we’re in the Midwest. But now I know a lot of people in Philly are going to be watching now.”
Curry, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, is a terrific athlete. He played football, basketball and track and field at George Washington. The former Public League star played in the Sonny Hill League.
He had a great college career. He finished his career at California University in 2009. He played his first three seasons at Cheyney University. He snared 134 receptions for 2,202 yards and 14 touchdowns while earning All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honors. Curry also played basketball for Cheyney, where he tallied 1,079 career points and snatched 606 career rebounds.
Curry hails from a sports family. His dad, Dominique Stephens played basketball with Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble and Doug Overton at Dobbins. He was on the Mustangs’ 1985 Public League championship team. Stephens played his college basketball for North Carolina Central where he helped the Eagles win the 1989 NCAA Division II national championship.
Curry’s aunt is Marilyn Stephens, who starred at Simon Gratz and played for Temple where she scored 2,194 points and grabbed 1,519 rebounds. The Owls retired her jersey, which now hangs at the Liacouras Center. They’re both head basketball coaches at Cheyney University. Dominique is the head men’s basketball coach while Marilyn is the head women’s basketball coach. They’re two of Curry’s biggest fans.
“They’re very excited for me,” Curry said. “I talked to my dad the other day. It’s really a blessing. That’s what they tell me. Now, it’s time to go to work.”
Curry has landed a spot with the Rams as an undrafted free agent. This is his second year in the NFL. During training camp, he fractured his hand and had surgery. He had a cast on his hand for a few weeks, but is now playing with his hand heavily wrapped. Nevertheless, he’s looking forward to helping St. Louis get to the next level. The Rams just missed the playoffs last year.
“We don’t want to settle for being one game away from the playoffs,” he said. “We want to make playoffs. I want to do as much as I can to help the team win.”
Curry participated in the “Legends of the Pub Camp” last summer during the NFL lockout. The camp was held at Marcus Foster Stadium, 18th and Hunting Park Avenue, for many kids throughout the city.
“It was great for the community,” Curry said. “I’m from that neighborhood. It was something really positive for the kids and the community. We had a lot of guys there like Jameel McClain (Baltimore Ravens, George Washington High). I talked to Jameel from time to time. I spoke to him and he wished me good luck this year. We actually play against each other this year. I know a lot of people in Philly will want to see that game, too.”
Baltimore will battle St. Louis on Sept. 25, but the Eagles and the Rams will be center stage today.
Philadelphia has lost has a tremendous basketball player and a great person. Linda Page, a former Dobbins Tech basketball star, has passed away. Page was 48 years old.
Page was certainly a special player. She could score from anywhere on the court. In 1981, she received national attention for scoring 100 points in Public League game. That contest, a 131-37 win against Mastbaum, broke Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring mark of 90 points, set when he played at Overbrook High School in 1955.
That was her senior year. She led Dobbins Tech to the Public League championship game that year. Despite her scoring prowess, West Philadelphia High defeated Dobbins Tech to win the league title. Jadeane Daye, an All Public League point guard, played for the Speedgirls along with stars Audrey (Lee) Bowles and Linda Hester. Daye is still trying to get over the death of Page, who was a close friend as well as a competitor.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Daye said. “We were close. We played together in the Sonny Hill League. We played on the Philadelphia Belles together. I remember before the championship game, we spent the whole day and evening together. Then, we came out and played the championship game. After the game, we got together. We were good friends.
“She was the best shooter. I remember she was shooting against Doug Collins (Philadelphia 76ers head coach) when he played (for the Sixers). I don’t think he realized how good a shooter she was. He had to shoot some deep shots in order to beat her in the game.”
Bowles hadn’t spoken to Page in more than two decades. A year ago, Page wrote a book titled “Love, Pain & Passion: The Heart of a Champion.” Bowles remembers attending her book signing.
“It was 23 years since I actually seen her,” Bowles said. “She had a book signing at Harlem Restaurant in Yeadon. I remember going there. Before that, we had played on a team together in 1987. It was after our college careers. We had a team with players mostly from our West Philly team that played in the Sonny Hill League. We had Linda, Jadeane, Vincene Morris, Michelle Washington, Debbie Lytle, Theresa Govens and Freda Gibbs. That was the last time I was actually with her.
“It was good reconnecting with her. We talked about the things she accomplished. I think what’s important is that Linda knew the Lord. You know, we were all part of a good era of women’s basketball in the Public League. I know I had a good foundation with my mother (Lois Lee), my high school basketball coach Bernie Ivens, softball coach Paulette Bolton and Eleanore Johnson (volleyball coach).
“We all went to college. Linda went to North Carolina State. Jadeane went to Syracuse. Linda Hester went to La Salle. I went to Temple. We all had good people around us who provided a good foundation. We’ll never forget that.”
Marilyn Stephens, former Simon Gratz and Temple basketball standout, is the head women’s basketball coach at Cheyney University. Stephens attended Page’s book signing. She wanted her players to know about her legacy.
“Right now, one of my players is reading her book,” Stephens said. “Linda signed her book to Cheyney women’s basketball. I was devastated when I heard the news that she had passed. She was a great player.”
They called her “Hawkeye,” and she could really put the ball in the basket. Page was raised in Southwest Philly. She scored 2,383 points in her scholastic career.
She was a big time player for North Carolina State. She was one of four women to score more than 2,000 points for the Wolfpack. She scored 2,307 points, ranking second all-time at the school. She was named first-team All Atlantic Coast Conference twice. She was chosen three times on the ACC all-tournament team. In 1983, she was named MVP of the ACC tournament. In 1985, Page averaged 21.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a game while leading NC State to the ACC championship.
“She was the best player in Philadelphia,” said Hester, who had a magnificent college basketball career at La Salle. “Her skill level was phenomenal. She wanted to be the best and she accomplished that. Excellence was always her standard. It all started in high school.”
Dawn Staley, head women’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina, played at Dobbins Tech after Page. Like Page, Staley was a high school All-American. She also played her college basketball in the ACC at the University of Virginia. In addition, she had a great career in the WNBA.
“I think Linda Page put Dobbins on the map,” Staley said. “I didn’t meet her until afterwards. She was very articulate. She loved basketball. She paved the way for a lot of players. She’ll be missed by the Philadelphia community.”
Page played for two legendary coaches, Dr. Tony Coma (Dobbins Tech) and Kay Yow (North Carolina State) during her career. Lurline Jones, former University City head coach and Alison Eachus, ex-William Penn High head coach, will always remember Page for her contributions to the game.
“I was shocked and saddened with the news of Linda’s passing,” Jones said. “Ever since her book was published, I had the pleasure of planning a book signing and reception at Dobbins her. In early August we discussed her appearance at the SRC and City Council. It was on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 4th, at a meeting with Councilwoman (Jannie) Blackwell that she would get the ball rolling for such an appearance. She will be missed. I am thankful that I was able to spend some quality time with her as she told her story. I hope that the family and those of us in the basketball arena will keep her legacy alive.”
“Linda Page played basketball for our AAU team, the Philadelphia Belles,” Eachus said. “I also coached against her while she was at Dobbins and I was at William Penn. I have hundreds of Linda Page stories, each a fond memory of a special character. Philly has lost another legend; the basketball community has lost a great player and those who knew her lost a friend. She will be missed by many.”
Page graduated from North Carolina State with a degree in criminal justice. She was a retired juvenile probation officer. She had the Linda Page Shooting Clinic. Page also played professional basketball in Sweden and Spain.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalized.
This is a big week for major college football in Philadelphia. Temple (2-0) will face Penn State (1-1) on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Lincoln Financial Field. The kickoff is at noon. The game will be televised on ESPN.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a dismal 27-11 loss to No. 3 ranked Alabama at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. Penn State was ranked No. 23 in the country last week. There should be a huge crowd for this game to see legendary head coach Joe Paterno. The Nittany Lions have a number of local players, most notably Curtis Drake, former West Catholic star.
Temple has gotten off to a great start this season, defeating Villanova 42-7 and picking up an impressive 41-3 road win over Akron. Bernard Pierce, Owls running back, has been nothing short of sensational in his first two games.
In the win over the Wildcats, Pierce finished with 20 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns. In Temple’s victory over Akron, he rushed 18 times for 150 yards and three TDs. Pierce, former Glen Mills standout, is the sixth leading rusher in the country. He’s averaging 7.8 yards a carry. He has 297 rushing yards and six TDs.
He could play a major role in this contest. A year ago, Temple dropped a 22-13 decision to Penn State in Happy Valley. Pierce played extremely well against the Nittany Lions before leaving the game with an injury in the first quarter. He had already scored two touchdowns and rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries.
A victory over Penn State would be huge for Temple. It would give them bragging rights for recruiting in Philly as well as the state. It would also give them a boost nationally. In fact, Pierce could make a statement in terms of him being a Heisman Trophy candidate. The Owls haven’t beaten the Nittany Lions since 1941. That’s 70 years. Paterno has a 27-0 record against Temple.
Cheyney Athletics Hall of Fame fete
Cheyney University Athletics Hall of Fame will induct its 2011 class on October 14 at 7 p.m. The ceremony will take place at Ada S. Georges Dining Hall on Cheyney University’s campus. The induction class includes Kenneth Hamilton, James P. Kane, Harold Rogers, Edward Swain, Carol Lynn Willis and Charles “Ace” Woods. For more information on tickets for the event, call William Shields at (610) 872-2322.
Sharon Baptist wins softball title
Sharon Baptist Church defeated Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church 6-5 to win the Christian Fellowship Softball League Championship. Sharon won the championship in the best of five series 3 games to 2.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was recognized as a champion of freedom on Thursday night at the National Constitution Center’s 2012 Liberty Medal ceremony.
The event served as the centerpiece for the national celebration of the U.S. Constitution’s 225th anniversary.
The Liberty Medal was established in 1988 to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. The award is given annually. The medal honors men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.
“When I think of my dad, I don’t think athlete,” said a former professional boxer and Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila. “My dad … I put him on such a high pedestal as a man. I’m just so proud of him. He’s done everything he stood for and basically just standing for what you believe in. I’m very happy and honored to be here to present the award.”
Ali has long served as an icon of constitutional ideals and the realization of the American dream – all the while challenging and expanding the very definition of “We the People.” The Olympic gold medalist and boxing legend has been an outspoken fighter for religious and civil rights; a conscientious objector who took his battle to the Supreme Court and won; an ambassador for peace and justice worldwide; and a timeless humanitarian and philanthropist.
“On behalf of Muhammad, let me sincerely state how incredibly honored he is to be here this evening, as the recipient of the Liberty Medal,” said Lonnie Ali, wife of Muhammad Ali. She delivered the acceptance speech on his behalf. “It is to be honest—overwhelming, especially given the remarkable group of people who have previously been the recipient of the prestigious award. It is especially humbling for Muhammad, who has said on many occasions, “All I did was stand up for what I believe.”
In 1967, Ali refused induction into the U.S. Armed Forces due to his religious beliefs. As a result, he was arrested, fined, stripped of his boxing license and title.
Though Ali was prepared to pay the price for his convictions, the Supreme Court reversed the decision in 1971, ruling that his refusal stemmed from his constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Ali regained his title in 1974 and retired from the ring in 1981.
He has since devoted his life to helping promote world peace and other humanitarian efforts. His work as an ambassador for peace began in 1985, when he flew to Lebanon to secure the release of four hostages. Ali also has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered more than $1 million in medical aid to Cuba.
In 2005, Ali and Lonnie opened the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. The Ali Center is a museum and educational edifice that inspires young people and adults. Dikembe Mutombo, former NBA star, and National Constitution Center Trustee, talked about the impact Ali had on his life.
“He’s a great legend,” he said. “He’s someone who has a huge impact on society. He believes in so many things we stand for and what we want this world to become. He has inspired so many young people including myself. I’m just so glad to be here with his wife and daughter and family to share this moment with them.”
Thursday evening’s Liberty Medal ceremony marked Ali’s return to the National Constitution Center. He participated in a special Flag Day ceremony on June 14, 2003 – just before the center’s official opening. In fact, he was the first to raise the American flag that hangs in the Grand Hall Overlook and had previously flown over every state and territory capitol.
Other celebrities at the event Thursday night included Olympic gold medalists Claressa Shields and Susan Francia who joined Laila Ali in presenting the Liberty Medal to Muhammad Ali. Shields became the first American women to win a boxing gold medal at the Olympics. Francia is a two-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion rower from Penn. In addition, Academy Award-nominated actor Terrence Howard, who played Ali in the ABC biopic “Muhammad Ali: King of the World,” Joe Louis Barrow, II, son of professional boxer Joe Louis and Grammy Award winning singer Roberta Flack, Pennsylvania governor Thomas W. Corbett and Philadelphia mayor Michael A. Nutter attended the ceremony.
Ali turned 70-years-old this year. He has continued to break new ground as an advocate for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a disease he has battled since 1982. He’s a man who continues to make a difference in the lives of so many people.
“Ali was reason why I got into boxing,” said Tyrell Biggs, an Olympic gold medalist and former professional boxer who also played basketball at West Philadelphia High School. He provided a video tribute to him at the ceremony. “He was so confident. I think to see him do all the things that he’s done has made me a better person.”
It should be the marquee NFL game of the week this Sunday night when the Philadelphia Eagles face the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The game will air on NBC-TV Channel 10 (8:20 p.m.)
Both the Eagles and Falcons have Super Bowl aspirations. The Eagles have that “dream team” label. The Falcons were picked by Sports Illustrated as one of the teams to get to the Super Bowl.
In addition, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will be heading back to Atlanta where he started his career. This won’t be his first return trip. He played down there in 2009 during his first year with the Eagles when the team still had quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. In that game, he scored his first touchdown as an Eagle on a five-yard run. He also threw a five-yard TD pass to tight end Brent Celek.
However, Vick will be heading back this time as the Eagles starting quarterback. Last Sunday, in the team’s 31–13 win over the St. Louis Rams, he started his first season opener since 2006 when he was a member of the Falcons. He completed 14 of 32 passes for 187 yards while throwing two touchdown passes.
Vick is still a popular athlete in Atlanta. In 2001, the Falcons drafted Vick No. 1 out of Virginia Tech making him the first African-American quarterback selected first overall. He spent six years with the Falcons.
Vick guided Atlanta to the 2004 NFC championship game where they lost to the Eagles. He was selected to three Pro Bowls during his time in Atlanta.
In 2007, he went to prison for his involvement with a dogfighting operation. After he was released, the Eagles signed him in 2009. Last year, he emerged as the Eagles starting quarterback. The Associated Press, The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly named Vick the 2010 Comeback Player of the Year after registering career highs in quarterback rating (100.2), completion percentage (62.6) and passing yards (3,018) en route to his fourth career Pro Bowl berth.
He became just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 3,000 plus yards, rush for 500-plus yards (676), and accrue a 100-plus quarterback rating in a season, joining Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, who did so in 1992 for the San Francisco 49ers.
Vick appears to be off to a good start. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who actually replaced Vick as the franchise signal caller, struggled in his first game. Chicago spanked Atlanta, 30–12 in the season opener. Ryan completed 31-of-47 passes for 319 yards and one interception with no TDs.
Ryan, former Penn Charter and Boston College star, was the third pick overall in the 2008 by the Falcons. In his first two seasons as the team’s starter, he has guided Atlanta to an outstanding 13–1 home record. A year ago, he earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. In 16 starts, he set franchise records with 357 completions on 571 pass attempts. He threw for career-highs with 3,705 yards and 28 touchdowns with a career-best nine interceptions and a 91.0 passer rating.
This could be an early look at a possible NFC championship matchup. Atlanta and Philadelphia are certainly two of the conference’s top teams along with the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. It should be an interesting game. The Falcons don’t want to go down 0–2. So, the Eagles will be tested right away.
A group led by Joshua Harris, a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, who has watched the Sixers play for a long time, officially purchased the Philadelphia 76ers from Comcast-Spectator this week. Actually, Harris, 46, became a fan of the team during the 1982–83 season.
That was a big year for professional basketball in this town. The Sixers, led by Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, won an NBA championship.
Adam Aron, an Abington High graduate, is the Sixers’ new chief executive officer. Aron has watched the Sixers play even longer than Harris. He remembers the 1983 championship team, but also the 1966–67 team, which featured basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker, Wali Jones and Luke Jackson.
Harris and Aron are joined by investor David Blitzer, who will serve as co-managing owner and an alternate governor of the NBA.
Other investors include Martin Geller, David Heller, Travis Hennings, James Lassiter, Marc Leder, Jason Levien, Michael Rubin, Philadelphia’s own actor Will Smith, and his wife and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Handy Soetedjo, Erick Thohir and Art Wrubel.
All of the aforementioned have made personal investments in the team and would like to give pro basketball a boost in this town. Harris bought the Sixers for a reported $280 million.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the Palestra, the city’s legendary basketball arena, which has provided basketball fans with some of the most exciting games this town has ever seen. Harris and Aron talked about slashing ticket prices in addition to receiving input from fans on basketball and other marketing efforts.
The two things Harris and Aron seem to bring to the Sixers is a sense history and genuine interest in the organization beyond money. They’re both successful businessmen. Harris is a managing partner of Apollo Management, L.P., which he co-founded in 1990. According to Forbes, Harris is worth $1.45 billion. Aron was the former chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, the world’s second largest ski resort operator, which under his direction became one of the nation’s premiere ski destinations.
When Harris was a student at Penn, the Quakers’ big stars were Karl Racine and Perry Bromwell. They won a lot of games for Penn along with a couple Ivy League championships. So, The Palestra was a good backdrop for him. He has a good flavor for basketball in this city and what he would like to accomplish with the Sixers.
“I’m going to be a great fan,” Harris said. “I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be upset when we lose and excited when we win. Having said that, we are going to try to be rational when it comes to making decisions about how we run the team and I think it’s pretty simple. We want to be world class and cutting-edge up and down. Everything we do with this team we want to reflect well on us and to be positive to the community. That’s on the court, that’s off the court and it starts with how we all conduct ourselves.”
Harris and Aron will have a lot of help with running the organization. Rod Thorn, Sixers president, will have a bigger role with the departure of Ed Stefanski, who was the team’s general manager.
As followers of the team, Harris and Aron are aware of what Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, was able to do with this team. Collins led the Sixers to a playoff appearance with a 41-41 record after a 3-13 start. Philly lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Heat went to the NBA Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks. The Sixers key players were Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
“Well, I’ll have to be careful with what I say, because I lived in Miami last year,” Aron said. “I watched every game of the Heat-Sixers series, and I can sure tell you, as Josh said, our allegiances are Philadelphia 76ers all the way. Not just to basketball, but maybe to all professional sports. We’re going to be watching a lot of Sixers basketball.”
They’ll be very busy.
It’s been a big year for Public League football. The league has a number of players that will be playing college football next year. Will Parks, Germantown High’s defensive back, has committed to playing his college football at the University of Pittsburgh.
In addition, there are a host of seniors that will play in the City All-Star Game in the spring. Also, there’s a good crop of underclassmen returning. The coaches selected their annual All-Public League team. They selected four Most Valuable Players by division. They include Hakeem Sillman (George Washington), Rich Drayton (Central), Daquan Brown (Dobbins) and Shaquil Sammons (Bok). Frank Natale, Bok head coach, received Coach of the Year honors.
The coaches selected the best players in each class on offense and defense.
Offense: Anthony Capers, Frankford, lineman, sr; Melvin McLeod, George Washington, lineman, sr; Dezhaunte White, Fels, lineman, jr; Tyrone Smith, George Washington, lineman, sr; Tim DiGiorgio, Frankford, quarterback, jr; Hakeem Sillman, George Washington, sr; Ackeno Robertson, Germantown, running back, sr; Aaron Allison, Frankford, tight end, sr; Savoy Martin, Frankford, wide receiver, sr; Myles Brooker, Germantown, wide receiver, sr; Jake Wright, George Washington, kicker, jr; Howard Lynn, Northeast, punter, sr; Michael Pritchette, Bartram, special teams, sr.
Defense: Kashiem Poland, Frankford, end, sr; Justin Moody, George Washington, end, jr; Kevin White, George Washington, tackle, sr; Kwame Miller, Germantown, tackle, sr; Michael Brown, Northeast, linebacker, sr; Geoffrey Phillippe, Frankford, linebacker, sr; Miguel Caban, George Washington, linebacker, sr; Daquan White, Northeast, linebacker, sr; Will Parks, Germantown, defensive back, sr; Kelly Johnson, Frankford, defensive back, sr; Nijay Kelly, Fels, defensive back, sr; Aaron Boyd, Germantown, special teams, sr.
Offense: Dave Rosario, Central, lineman, sr; Dajuan Dandy, Southern, lineman, jr; Clinton Manning, Edison, lineman, sr; Steve Torres, Lincoln, lineman, sr; Ryan Dydak, Central, quarterback, sr; Sgarif Smith, Furness, running back, sr; Josh McClam, Lincoln, running back, sr; Kamau Taylor, Mastbaum, tight end, so; Rich Drayton, Central, wide receiver, sr; Terrence Davis, Mastbaum, wide receiver, sr; Hakeem Ellis,Central, special teams, jr.
Defense: Joe Kasztelan, Central, lineman, sr; Tyriek Gilliard, Furness, lineman, jr; Joseph Shephed, Central, lineman, jr; Rodney Hawkins, Lincoln, lineman, sr; David Oliphant, Central, linebacker, sr; Mike Johnson, Lincoln, linebacker, sr; Marquise McFarland, Lincoln, linebacker, sr; Sam Fortune, Olney, linebacker, sr; Nate Robinson, Southrn, linebacker, sr; Shadeed Purnell, Edison, linebacker, sr; Sincere Merced, Lincoln, defensive back, sr; Bor Bor Kessley, Furness, defensive back, sr; Erike Taggart, Olney, defensive back, sr; Derrick Webster, Mastbaum, defensive back, sr.
Offense: Clarence Murphy, Dobbins, lineman, sr; Brian Solomon, Boys’Latin, lineman, sr; Leander Berry, West Philadelphia, lineman,sr; Scott Ervin, Simon Gratz, lineman, jr; Dajuan Burhannon, Simon Gratz, lineman, sr; David James, Martin Luther King, lineman, sr; Erik Lark, Boys’ Latin, quarterback, jr; Tymere Blue, Roxborough, running back, sr; Jameel Davis, Dobbins, running back, sr; Daquan Brown, Dobbins, running back, sr; Marcus Lyles, University City, wide receiver, sr; Eric Leslie, West Philadelphia, wide receiver, sr; Fulani Freeman, Simon Gratz, tight end, jr; Adrian Johnson-Pope, Roxborough, special teams, sr.
Defense: Demetrius Town, Ben Franklin, lineman, sr; D.J. Stanton, Simon Gratz, lineman, sr; Tajah Brooks, West Philadelphia, lineman, sr; Kareem Jefferson, Dobbins, lineman, jr; Sharquill Farmer, Dobbins, end, jr; Jesse Thomas, West Philadelphia, end, sr; Anthony Johnson, West Philadelphia, linebacker, sr; Sam Drummond, Boys’ Latin, linebacker, sr; Doug Osborne, Boys’ Latin, defensive back, sr; John Casey, University City, defensive back, sr; Micah Eldemire, Simon Gratz, defensive back, sr; Jonathan Parker, Ben Franklin, defensive back, sr; Chris Sullivan, Ben Franklin, special teams, sr.
Offense: Shamere Blanford, Communications Tech, lineman, sr; Keith Jenkins, Prep Charter, lineman, sr; Gordon Thomas, Imhotep Charter, lineman, so; Daravann Lok, Delaware Valley, lineman, jr; Jahreeson Caines, School of the Future, lineman, sr; Marquise Brown, Bok, quarterback, sr; Shaquil Sammons, Bok, running back, sr; Rolando Ransom, Communications Tech, running back, sr; Eerin Young, Imhotep Charter, running back, jr; Shakur Nesmith, Imhotep Charter, wide receiver, sr.
Defense: Marqui Alfriend, Bok, lineman, sr; Tyrone Barge, Imhotep Charter, lineman, so; Kyle Hambright, Imhotep Charter, lineman, sr; Rasheed Brown, Communications Tech, lineman, sr; Jihad Ward, Bok, end, sr; Vittorio Goggins, Bok, end, jr; Byron Cooper, Imhotep Charter, end, sr; Shaquill Ryder, Imhotep Charter, end, sr; Siyiff McLeod, Delaware Valley, end, sr; Omar Bashir, Bok, linebacker, sr; Robert Kralle, Bok, linebacker, sr; Abdur Saaba, Communications Tech, linebacker, jr; Shabazz Rivers, Delaware Valley, linebacker, jr; Donte Walker, Delaware Valley, linebacker, jr; Shahiyd Wilson, School of the Future, defensive back, sr; James Brunson, Communications Tech, defensive back, sr; Asa Manley, Prep Charter, defensive back, fr.
The only entity that could outshine Wilt Chamberlain the athlete is Wilt Chamberlain the man.
The athlete is known for the seminal 100-point game on March 2, 1962, against the New York Knicks, and for setting 128 professional basketball records — 98 of which are still standing.
But the man is known for much more than grabbing more than 50 rebounds in a game versus Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics; Chamberlain’s mark truly lies in his philanthropy, as he donated his time, money and celebrity status to dozens of charities throughout his life.
And it’s in the spirit of that life that The Wilton Norman Chamberlain Postal Stamp Committee held a luncheon in his honor Friday at the District Square Plaza. The gathering was also designed to bring more attention to the committee’s drive to have the United States Postal Service issue a stamp honoring the “Big Dipper.”
City basketball icons Billy Cunningham and John Chaney served as co-hosts for the luncheon, which included a virtual parade of friends and peers who knew Wilt — his sister, Selina Chamberlain-Gross, gave he invocation.
“There were eighty to a hundred charities Wilt was dedicated to,” Cunningham said. “There were so many parts of Wilt. He certainly left this world a better place than he found it.”
Chaney, in his own unique way, paid homage to perhaps the greatest basketball player this city has ever produced by blurting out, “Wilt owes me money!” Once the laughter died down, though, Chaney grew serious when he talked about the impact Wilt had, not only on the basketball court, but in virtually every other aspect of life as well.
“Wilt is one of the greatest philanthropists … the city is not aware of his great philanthropy,” Chaney said. “Wilt was a person who had a vision, and I was impressed by how he was able to think so many years ahead. Wilt was someone very special.”
Chaney and others spoke of the good works done by the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund, which has granted scholarships to deserving students throughout the years.
Essence White, an engineering major at Smith University, is one of the students assisted by the fund, and sent a note of gratitude. “I give great thanks to the Wilt Chamberlain Foundation for helping me,” the note read in part. “I hope to one day give back to the youths the same way the foundation gave to me.”
One would think Chamberlain is deserving of a stamp on the sheer strength of his community involvement and giveback nature alone. Factor in Wilt’s mastery of the game of basketball, and he should be considered a shoo-in.
“He was a special guy who did special things,” said current Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy, who has Temple’s basketball team nationally ranked for he first time since Chaney stalked the sidelines. “He was just way too great a man for me to say anything important about.”
Fran, like many of Wilt’s peers and teammates, recalled how truly unstoppable Wilt was on the court.
Chamberlain was born on August 21, 1936, and once the graceful seven-footer took up basketball, he immediately put his school — Overbrook High School — and then his college — Kansas State — on the basketball map.
After leaving KSU, Chamberlain joined the Globetrotters before joining the National Association of Basketball’s Philadelphia Warriors, and it’s here that more casual fans pick up on Chamberlain’s career. Chamberlain went on to play in the league for 14 years, and remains the only professional basketball player to have his jersey number retired by every team he played for.
Chamberlain was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, and in 1996, was named as one of the 50 greatest players of all time.
Chamberlain’s still-standing records may indeed never be broken. Only Kobe Bryant’s 81 points scored in a game comes close to Chamberlain’s 100; that same year, Chamberlain had a 50-point scoring average. He also has a record 55 rebounds in a game against Russell and the Celtics, and 1959, Chamberlain was Rookie of the Year, league MVP and MVP of the NBA All-Star Game.
Wilt also sponsored an all-women’s track team, “Wilt’s Wonder Women,” which counted Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith-Joyner as members.
“Nobody was bigger than Wilt,” said former Harlem Globetrotter Carl Green, who would play pick-up ball in New York City with Wilt, at the height of the Philly vs. new York basketball rivalry. “I’m older than Wilt, but the things he taught me; and his family treated me like family.”
Former Knick and Los Angeles’ Laker Tom Hoover drew laughter when he recalled that Chamberlain was once going to fight Muhammad Ali. “I told Wilt, you can make this fight happen, and we can make some money, but Ali is going to kick your ass,” Hoover recalled. “Just like you and I have played basketball all our lives, Ali has been boxing all of his.” Luckily, Hoover and others were able to talk Chamberlain out of it.
“We developed a friendship over the years … he was a humanitarian, he helped everybody,” Hoover said. “The big fella — he was a beautiful person.”
Sill, everything rotated back to that magical night 50 years ago.
Harvey Pollack, the Philadelphia 76ers’ longtime director of statistical information was the one who gave Chamberlain the piece of paper with “100” scribbled on it. Chamberlain is holding that sheet of paper aloft in one of his more famous pictures. Pollack was busy with a number of jobs during the game.
“There never was a greater player than Wilt,” Pollack said, noting that Chamberlain would have had even more records had the league tracked blocked shots and that, as a center, he once led the league in assists. “He played 50 years ago, but most of his records still stand.”
Many politicians voiced their legislative support, then talk turned to making Chamberlain’s appearance on a postage stamp a reality. U.S. Rep. Robert Brady recalled being a kid in the Overbrook Park section of the city, with “passing the ball to Wilt Chamberlain” was his greatest athletic moment as a young man. Brady stated that last year he introduced House Bill 71, which calls for the postal service to issue the stamp.
State Representative Ronald G. Waters also presented citations to the stamp committee and Chamberlain’s family.
“We will get this done,” said Waters. “Because it’s well deserved, and the right thing to do.”
Those on the postal stamp committee sounded optimistic that something can be done, and soon. The committee has been at work for roughly three years now, and hope for the issuance of the stamp in the next year or two.
“We have been on this journey for a while,” said stamp committee chairman Roger C. Bogle. “And I can say we are under consideration for the stamp.”
Committee member Michael Bruton spelled it out further.
“I believe we’re on track,” Bruton said, noting that people can also sign the petition online. “And it’s important to hear from influential people. Brady and several others have written letters, including former governor Ed Rendell and NBA Commissioner David Stern. We feel that should help.”
Legendary sports writer and postal stamp committee co-chairman Donald Hunt agreed.
“The key word here is ‘deserved,’ not just for his game but for the man he was,” Hunt said, while mentioning that the committee has amassed roughly 55,000 signatures so far. “It’s our hope that we can get something done, sooner rather than later.”