Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #27 Baltimore Ravens DB Jimmy Smith

Now Baltimore goes says-

Corners with Smith’s size, speed and confidence in press coverage don’t grow on trees. He’ll likely serve as reserve/nickel early in his career but has the skill set to eventually become a starter. Very effective playing man coverage close to the line of scrimmage where he can use his size and length to disrupt timing patterns. Can recover after initial bump and compete for the football. Isn’t as comfortable in off-man or zone but could improve over time. Has the mentality and physical tools to be very productive in run support, just needs some more polish. Smith’s tools and upside will likely land him in the second round.


NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #17 New England Patriots OT Nate Solder says-

Solder is one of the premier left tackle prospects in this class with the size, strength and athleticism needed to succeed on Sundays. Very sound in pass protection, not as susceptible to the bull rush as you might think given his leaner build, just needs to continue to develop his game against complete pass rushers with a vast array of skills and moves. Very complete in the running game as well, firing off the ball, gaining leverage and moving his feet inline and in space. Understands assignments, locates his man at the second level or on the edge and recognizes and reacts to blitz packages. A true first-round talent.


Olympic Medalist skiier Jimmie Heuga dead at 68

In addition to the bronze medal in the slalom he won at the 1964 Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck, Huega was the 1963 NCAA Champion. RIP.

Former U.S. Olympic skier Jimmie Heuga, who won a bronze medal at the 1964 games and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years later, died Monday. He was 66.

University of Colorado ski coach Richard Rokos, a longtime and close friend of Heuga’s, said the former NCAA champion for CU died at Boulder Community Hospital.

“He was a very strong man and an inspiration to so many people in the ski world and the medical world,” said Huega’s wife, Debbie Huega. “He’s skiing the hills of heaven right now.”

Rokos said Heuga had recently been dealing with respiratory problems.

Heuga finished third in the slalom at the ’64 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Fellow American Billy Kidd won the silver. It was the first time U.S. skiing had gained prominence worldwide.

“Jimmie Heuga was a champion in every sense of the word,” said U.S. Ski team president Bill Marolt, who skied with Heuga on the 1964 Olympic Team. “He was a champion as an athlete, as a person and any way you want to measure him.

“When I look back at all the athletes I’ve known, pound for pound, Jimmie Heuga was the toughest I’ve ever met. He was a 5-foot-6, 140-pound guy who didn’t back down from anybody. That’s the kind of toughness you need to be a champion.”

Heuga, born in Squaw Valley, Calif., won the 1963 NCAA championship in the slalom.

In 1968, Heuga and Kidd were pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated before they competed in the Olympics at Grenoble, France.

Heuga was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1970 after displaying symptoms for a year. The effects of the disease eventually confined him to a wheelchair.

“He was the personification of determination and never giving up — he inspired so many people,” Kidd said in release from the U.S. Ski Team. “Jimmie’s accomplishments on the race course will forever be remembered. But it’s his accomplishments and drive in the fight against MS that will continue to help so many people live their lives. His life is an inspiration.”

Heuga founded in 1983 the Jimmie Heuga Center for M.S. in Edwards, a nonprofit organization now called Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.


Former NFL player and announcer Tom Brookshier dead at 78

Where do I start? I have many memories of Brookshier. He and Pat Summerall were the lead football announcers for CBS for around a decade. They appeared in the action movie, Black Sunday, as themselves. Brookshier and Summerall also did syndicated NFL highlight shows(In those pre ESPN days) like ‘Game of the Week’ and ‘This week in pro football’. I watched shows every week almost when growing up. It is very hard for me to forget who I thought did a great job describing NFL play. RIP.

Former Philadelphia Eagles star Tom Brookshier has died at 78.

The Eagles said he had cancer and died Friday night.

Brookshier was an All-Pro defensive back who played on the Eagles’ 1960 championship team. He had 20 interceptions in seven seasons with the team, earning All-Pro honors in 1959 and 1960.

After he retired, Brookshier announced NFL games for CBS. He teamed with Pat Summerall to form CBS’ top telecast team.

He is one of seven Eagles to have his number retired.


Former Los Angeles Ram RB Cullen Bryant dead at 58

He scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XIV and was instrumental in causing the NFL to make a major policy change. RIP.

LOS ANGELES — Cullen Bryant, who spent 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, was a running back on their 1980 Super Bowl team and fought the NFL’s trading rules to remain in town, has died. He was 58.

Unknown to his family, Bryant had been under a doctor’s care when he died Tuesday at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo., said his sister-in-law, Wanda E. Bryant. She did not supply other details.

Bryant was the Rams’ second-round draft pick in 1973. He played with the team until 1982, was with the Seattle Seahawks in 1983 and 1984 and returned to the Rams for his last pro season in 1987.

In 13 NFL seasons, Bryant scored 23 rushing and receiving touchdowns and ran back kickoffs for three others. He ran for 3,264 yards in 849 carries, and caught 148 passes for 1,176 yards.

He ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the 1980 Super Bowl, which the Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-19.

At 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds, he was the biggest player of the time to regularly return kickoffs.

“When Cullen hits those holes, nobody wants to stick their nose in there,” teammate Jack Youngblood told the Los Angeles Times in 1979. “Those little 180-pound (defensive backs) just jump on his back when he runs by.”

“He was an outstanding person with great character traits,” said Chuck Knox, Bryant’s coach with both the Rams and Seahawks. “When we asked him to do certain things, he’d do them. He never complained about anything. When he got that big body moving, it was something else, and he had muscles on top of muscles.”

Born William Cullen Bryant on May 20, 1951, in Fort Sill, Okla., Bryant attended high school in Colorado Springs and played football at Colorado University, where he received consensus All-American recognition.

In 1975, only two years after going to the Rams, Bryant went to federal court to challenge the right of then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to order him off the team. The Rams had signed former Detroit Lions receiver Ron Jessie. Under the “Rozelle Rule” on free agents, the team signing a free agent had to compensate the team that lost the player. If the teams couldn’t agree on compensation, the commissioner had the power to award either draft choices or players. He decided Bryant should go to Detroit.

At the behest of Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Bryant went to court in Los Angeles. A judge was unsympathetic to the NFL’s position during a hearing, and the league backed off several days later before a ruling could be made.

The Rozelle Rule eventually was modified.


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


Division I-AA Montana State Beats Colorado

In the 1990s, the Colorado Buffalos were a perennial national title challenger. Their collapse is now complete, having suffered an embarrasing loss to a warm-up team.

Dan Hawkins was hired to clean up a Colorado program soiled by scandal and embarrassing losses under former coach Gary Barnett. Being blown out by Texas in the Big 12 title game last year was one thing. But losing to Division I-AA Montana State 19-10 Saturday wasn’t what anybody anticipated when Hawkins brought his 92-23-1 record and positive vibes from Boise State to Boulder.

“We understand that most people here will jump on our loss, but we all find out about ourselves when we’re losing,” Hawkins said. “And in some respect, it might be a blessing. We’ve got to work a little bit harder and come together a little bit more.

“It’s only devastating if you let it be devastating.”

Instead of sweeping away the memories of last year’s four-game season-ending slide, including a 70-3 loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game, the Buffaloes left their fans fearful of a long, dreadful season after the Dan Hawkins Era began not with a bang but a bevy of goofs and gaffes.

“The only bright spot is to see how we handle it, and that’s yet to be determined,” Hawkins said after the Buffs bungled their first matchup ever with a Division I-AA team. “The bottom line is we got outcoached and we got outplayed. That’s a fact, however you try to slice and dice it.”



Jeremy Bloom, Olympic Skier, Goes to Philadelphia Eagles

Jeremy Bloom, who was robbed of his final years of college eligibility by the NCAA bureaucracy, was drafted in the 5th round yesterday by the Philadelphia Eagles. Bloom is remarkably philosophical about the whole thing.

Unlike most players who slip down the slope of the second day of the NFL draft, no one enjoyed the ride more than Jeremy Bloom. He’s finally made the NFL as a fifth-round choice of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bloom missed the past two football seasons at Colorado after the NCAA ruled he couldn’t accept endorsements to ski and still maintain his amateur status. Bloom, a mogul and free-style skier, competed in the Olympic Games in February. To professionally ski at Bloom’s level, endorsements are needed. It was those endorsements that ended his college football career.


He was the 147th player selected in the draft and couldn’t have been happier. NFL Films had cameras at his home when he was chosen. It was a celebration. But at no point did Bloom think about what could have been had the NCAA not interceded in his dream to finish his college football career. During his first two years at Colorado, he was on pace to be an incredible big-play receiver. He averaged 16.2 yards a catch as a sophomore. Overall, he caught 24 passes for an average of 19.1 yards per catch, returned 47 punts at 13.5 yards per return and 25 kickoffs at 25.1 yards per return. He had an amazing five touchdowns of 75 yards or more.

Still, Bloom didn’t reflect with bitterness. Even though he was sure to be Colorado’s No. 1 receiver, Bloom hit the slopes and waited for his chance in the Olympics. “I wouldn’t trade the past two years for being a No. 1 pick,” Bloom said of his success in skiing. “The NCAA showed me the door on college football and caused me to miss my final two years of football. But I can’t take away the experiences I had during the past two years. I’m happy being a fifth-round pick.” His memories included being a three-time world champion on the slopes. He has two World Cups and one world championship. The only thing he didn’t win was Olympic gold. “I have my share of victories and certainly my share of defeats in the sport,” Bloom told the media in a conference call. “But it’s been a blessing to do the things I have done in skiing.”

It’s a remarkable story. As a fan of the division rival Cowboys, I’ll have to root against Bloom at least two games a season. But you have to admire the kid’s reflectiveness. He has every right to be angry about the NCAA’s silly rules but just shrugs them off.


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