Monday, January 24, 2011

Closing In On 50 In Dog Years

If you've been around sports long enough you'll have days where father time taps you on the shoulder with a look back at sports memories that seem like eons ago. You'll open a newspaper or online sports page and see a name, event or incident that warps you back to a time and place so familiar that you question whether it could've been so long ago. Not surprising that the older you get, the more father time seems to tap your shoulder with glimpses into the past.

And so it was for me this morning, that familiar tap from father time as I scanned the front page of my morning newspaper seeing that Jack LaLanne, the Godfather of Fitness, had passed away at 96 years old. I never knew he was from Oakland, California.

Though Jack may not conjure up memories of competitive sports, his television show in the 60's introduced myself and many other Americans to physical exercise as a way of improving health and stamina. Mind you I entered kindegarten with the muscular image and encouraging words of Jack LaLanne as part of my preschool home training. No Fear!

Other names that provoked a poke from father time this morning were:

Marcus Camby, the tall shot blocking center from UMass. Memories of Camby helping his team to the NCAA Final Four in 1996 with an overall tourney record 43 blocked shots in 11 games. This is his 15th season in the NBA. Fifteen frickin seasons since the #1 seeded University of Massachusetts Minutemen took on the eventual tournament champion Kentucky Wildcats. Camby earned the 1996 National Player of the Year award.

Vince Ferragamo, who quarterbacked the 1980 Los Angeles Rams to its first Super Bowl appearance. Thirty-one years since Ferragamo led a wild-card team with a new female owner (Georgia Frontiere) mighty close to upsetting the dynastic Pittsburgh Stealers in Super Bowl XIV. Didn't know he was once a Cal Golden Bear, competing against the likes of Steve Bartkowski, before transferring to Nebraska.

Steve Bartkwoski, I remember him getting the snot beat out of him while trying to quarterback a pitiful Atlanta Falcons team. Here's what I didn't remember about the Bartman: Bartkowski was chosen with the first overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, ahead of Walter Payton, by the Atlanta Falcons and was the NFL Rookie of the Year as well as The Sporting News NFC Rookie of the Year in 1975. He was the first client of sports agent Leigh Steinberg.
Bartkowski is one of only eight quarterbacks in NFL history who have achieved consecutive 30-touchdown passing seasons (1980 & 1981) at least one time in their career. The others are Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Dan Fouts, Jeff Garcia, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Y.A. Tittle. Bartkowski was selected to the Pro Bowl after both the 1980 and 1981 seasons and was selected 2nd Team All-NFC following the 1980 campaign. Bartkowski led the NFL in passing in 1983 with a passer rating of 97.6.

New York Jets, though they couldn't overcome the Pittsburgh Steeler scoring barrage this weekend, I'm sure many New Yorkers like myself were reliving every morsel of memory from the 1969 Super Bowl Champions. The Jets feisty comeback to make the game respectable allowed images of Broadway Joe (Joe Namath) to surface, if only for a stinking quarter. Maybe, if only QB Mark Sanchez had guaranteed the win, yesterday's outcome would've been different. Then again, maybe not.

Rest Well Jack !
Jack LaLanne

One of Jack's great quotes shouted at a San Francisco Chronicle reporter:
"Would you give your dog a cigarette and a doughnut for breakfast every morning?"

Clips from The Jack LaLanne Show:
The Dog Diet
The Slave
Bad Habits
Body and Mind Connection

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