Eating Crow after Australian Open

By Leighton Ginn

During the first week of the Australian Open when No. 2 Novak Djokovic lost, I had asked in my blog if this was the end of the golden age of men’s tennis.

The day after I wrote it, No. 1 Andy Murray also lost.

In the blog, I thought it was unlikely Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal could reach the finals.

Well, the wheels came off with that analysis.

With Novak Djokovic’s stunning loss, is the Golden Age over in men’s tennis?

Federer won the Australian Open for his 18th career Grand Slam singles crown, beating his long-time rival in a thrilling five setter that will be talked about for years.

In my defense, Federer had been gone for six months with a knee injury that was actually suffered at last year’s Australian Open. I never ruled out Federer from winning a major title because of his age, 35. But the age with the injury, and this being essentially his first tournament back, a sixth title in Oz was a lot to ask for.

Nadal has either been struggling with injuries or confidence. And the confidence is a result of all the injuries that have robbed him of his consistency. He kept plugging away, but there hadn’t been a sign encouraging enough to think he could get back to his dominant days.

And then everything changed.

Everyone has been talking about Federer’s age for a long time, but there’s no real evidence his game has slipped due to Father Time. Before the injury last year, a freak accident when he was giving his kids a bath, he was ranked No. 2 in the world.

In 2014-15, Federer reached three major finals, and if it wasn’t for Djokovic, he might have been over 20 major titles.

It’s time to talk about Novak Djokovic as one of the greatest ever in tennis

Now that he appears to be healthy, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t win another major, especially at Wimbledon.

As for Nadal, he is back in the mix. Can he win another major? The French Open is the major he’s owned, but it’s such a long and grueling tournament, and Nadal has a lot of wear and tear on his body.

I don’t rule him out, but I need to see more to determine if he can win the French.

Now if Murray and Djokovic can bounce back, then the good times will continue to roll.

With Novak Djokovic’s stunning loss, is the Golden Age over in men’s tennis?

By Leighton Ginn

For over a decade, the Big Four of men’s tennis — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — have dominated the sport like no other.

Of the four majors over the last 11 years, the Fab Four have won 39 of the 44 major singles titles, with 29 of those finals pitting the sports creme de la creme.

While Federer and Nadal, two of the winningest players in tennis history, were hampered last year with injuries, Djokovic and Murray aptly filled in with historic years.

Djokovic became the first player to win four consecutive Grand Slam singles title when he won the French Open. The French title also completed his career Grand Slam to join Federer and Nadal in this generation to accomplish it.

However, in the second half of the year, Murray went on an impressive run that included his second Wimbledon title and second-consecutive gold medal at the Olympics to become the first Brit to earn the No. 1 ranking in the Open era.

On Thursday, Djokovic suffered a stunning second-round loss Denis Istomin, a wildcard who is ranked outside the top 100. It is the second time in the last three majors where Djokovic failed to reach the second week.

And this came at the Australian Open, his best major, where he’s claimed six titles in 10 years.

It raises this question: Is the Golden Age over?

WHAT MADE THE GOLDEN AGE GREAT

What made the Golden Age great is you had four great players who were always battling in the semifinals or finals of major tournaments.

For that to happen this year at the Australian Open seems like a longshot.

Murray came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed and top-ranked player, and nothing has changed for him.

But Federer is seeded 17th and would have to face Murray in the quarterfinals. Nadal is ninth, but he has no momentum coming into Melbourne. It’s not impossible for Nadal to reach the finals, but probably unlikely.

Moving forward, how much can we expect from Federer and Nadal who missed such a large portion of last year?

THE FALL OF DJOKOVIC

The real problem is Djokovic. No.1 and No. 2 isn’t a huge drop, but the quality of play from the Serbian superstar is.

When he won the French Open, it was his 12th major title and it was reasonable that he could make a serious run at Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles.

Yet, to go from completing a Grand Slam to failing to make the second week of a major twice in the next three is troubling. Throw into the mix Djokovic losing in the first round of the Olympics and it becomes a worrisome trend.

If Djokovic was able to reach the quarterfinals, then it would have been too early to sound the alarm.

After his loss Thursday, Djokovic said he felt fine physically.

There have been questions about his desire. Only he can answer that, and he said that’s not the case.

Confidence? Same to assume it wasn’t what is was last year. Can he get it back? And can he do it in time to defend his French title?

IS ANYONE READY TO STEP IN?

Because Djokovic and Murray have been so good and holding the fort down with Federer and Nadal recovering from injuries, it looked like the Big Four could still squeeze out some more magic at the majors.

Now with Djokovic out, it opens the door for someone to step in to grab his own share of the limelight.

The top candidate is Stan Wawrinka, who has won three major titles in the last three years, including the Australian Open title. Some have suggested the Big Four should be the Big Five based on what Wawrinka has done. He certainly is on that level as far as ability.

I’m not sure if fans have embraced him on the level of the Big Four, in terms of excitement and anticipation. He hasn’t seriously challenged for major titles until the last four years. By that time, his legacy had been deep in the shadows of his fellow Swiss, Federer.

Wawrinka’s body of work as a contender is short, and at 31 years old, is probably closer to the end than the beginning.

But if he does continue to play at this high level and reach more major finals, then Wawrinka can enrich his already impressive legacy.

Currently, Milos Raonic is the No. 3 seed and has a career-best No. 3 ranking. With big weapons, he is an exciting power player. He’s building momentum in his career by reaching the Wimbledon final and the Australian Open semifinals in 2016.

Marin Cilic is the 2015 US Open champion and Juan Martin Del Potro is the 2009 US Open champion, but both have been hampered by injuries.

Kei Nishikori reached the 2015 US Open final and has maintained a top-10 level, but not enough to crack into the Big Four level.

Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych have been around a while, but don’t appear are able to get to the next level, at least not yet.

Young players Dominic Thiem and David Goffin have made gigantic strides in the last year.

But the thing all these players are lacking is a body of work like the Big Four.

 

Andy Murray’s No. 1 ranking is great for tennis, but is the timing bad?

By Leighton Ginn

It’s been a fantastic year for Andy Murray and firmly established him as one of the Big Four in what could be the greatest generation in tennis.

Murray’s has been steady all year, reaching the finals of both the Australian and French Opens. But then it went into overdrive with his Wimbledon title, following by his repeat as an Olympic gold medalist.

Last week, Murray won the year-end ATP Tour World Finals to clinch the No. 1 year-end ranking.

However, the timing could be bad for the rest of the sport.

This has nothing to do with Murray, so don’t mistake this as a criticism of him.

But Novak Djokovic was having a historic year at the start. By winning the Australian and French Opens, Djokovic clinched the Nole Slam as he won four consecutive majors, a feat that hasn’t happened since Rod Laver in 1969.

What Djokovic had done elevated him past the standard bearers of this generation — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

After the French Open, Djokovic was in the conversation of the greatest ever.

Djokovic will finish the year No. 2, but his fall was significant. He only won one title since the French Open.

Earlier, his coach Boris Becker blamed the drop to the fact he wasn’t pushed by Federer nor Nadal. There is validity to that theory most times, but not in this case.

Djokovic wasn’t just chasing history, he had a chance to rewrite it.

During Wimbledon, Djokovic alluded to personal issues in his family life.

Whatever the case, Djokovic’s slip was disappointing because it could have meant so much for tennis.

Again, don’t mistake this as a shot at Murray, who is one of the top personalities in tennis. His story is great, and who isn’t charmed by the push to get him knighted in England.

Actually, why hasn’t he been knighted already for ending the curse of Fred Perry when he won Wimbledon in 2012, or his US Open title in 2011?

Murray is a great No. 1. It’s a great story.

But Djokovic was at such a high level that his success would provide more crossover attention.

Djokovic was challenging how we defined greatness in tennis. The run he was on was unprecedented.

Historically, when we look back on 2016, more likely, we will talk more about Djokovic than Murray.

And what could have been.

 

 

Making the case: Tom Flores into the Pro Football Hall of Fame #TomFloresHOF

By Leighton Ginn

This is my regularly scheduled rant about how former Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders head coach Tom Flores needs to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This year, I’m adding a hashtag #TomFloresHOF to help spread the word.

The resume of Flores is remarkable. Some of the highlights:

  • Flores won two Super Bowls as a head coach, 1981 with the Oakland Raiders and 1984 with the Los Angeles Raiders.
  • Flores has a Super Bowl title as a player with the Kansas City Chiefs (1970)
  • Flores, a Mexican American, is the first minority coach to win a Super Bowl. No Hispanic coach has won a Super Bowl, although Ron Rivera reached the Super Bowl last year with Carolina.
  • His 1984 Super Bowl title is the only one won in Southern California, which also had the Rams and Chargers.
  • The Raiders have not won a Super Bowl since Flores left.
  • Flores won a Super Bowl as an assistant coach with the Raiders in 1977 under John Madden. Another way of looking at it is, the Raiders has never won a Super Bowl without Flores.
  • Of the 23 coaches in the Hall of Fame (15 in the Super Bowl era), only Chuck Noll (4), Bill Walsh (3) and Joe Gibbs (3) have won more Super Bowl titles.
  • Only Flores and Mike Ditka have won Super Bowls as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
  • Coached seven Hall of Famers: Marcus Allen, Dave Casper, Ray Guy, Mike Haynes, Howie Long, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw.

So it needs to be pointed out that there are 12 coaches in the Hall of Fame who coached in the Super Bowl era who has two or less Super Bowl titles.

Get Tom Flores into the Hall of Fame now

Among those in the two-title group that are not in the Hall of Fame are Jimmy Johnson, who built the Dallas Cowboys dynasty in the 90s, and George Seifert, who maintained the San Francisco 49ers dynasty in the post-Joe Montana era.

There’s also Bill Belicheck, who has four Super Bowl titles and his induction appears to be a forgone conclusion.

But if you look beyond the resume, Flores was a pioneer in football. He might have been too modest about his accomplishments and the doors he’s opened.

Diversity is a problem for the NFL. If it wasn’t, something like the Rooney Rule would not exist.

Today, more than ever, the NFL needs to celebrate it’s diversity, and that begins with Tom Flores.

The Case for Tom Flores to Enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Here is an updated list of the Hall of Fame voters, with Twitter handles.

Kent Somers @kentsomers

Len Pasquarelli

Scott Garceau @ScottGShow1057

Vic Carucci @VicCarucci

Darin Gantt @DarinGantt

Dan Pompei @danpompei

Geoff Hobson @GeoffHobsonCin

Tony Grossi @TonyGrossi

Rick Gosselin @RickGosselinDMN

Jeff Legwold @Jeff_Legwold

Dave Birkett @DaveBirkett

Pete Dougherty @PeteDougherty

John McClain @McClain_on_NFL

Mike Chappell  @MChappell51

Sam Kouvaris @SamKouvaris

Randy Covitz @RandyCovitz

Armando Salguero @ArmandoSalguero

Mark Craig @MarkCraigNFL

Ron Borges @RonBorges

Jeff Duncan @JeffDuncan_

Bob Glauber @BobGlauber

Gary Myers @GaryMyersNYDN

Frank Cooney @FrankCooney

Paul Domowitch @pdomo

Ed Bouchette @EdBouchette

Kevin Acee @sdutKevinAcee   

Mike Sando @SandoESPN

Ira Kaufman @IKaufmanTBO

David Climer @DavidClimer

David Elfin @DavidElfin

Mary Kay Cabot @MaryKayCabot

Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721)

Jarrett Bell @JarrettBell

John Clayton @ClaytonESPN

Jason Cole @JasonColeBR

John Czarnecki,

Dan Fouts

Clark Judge @ClarkJudgeTOF

Peter King @SI_PeterKing

James Lofton @Lofton80

Ira Miller

Sal Paolantonio @SalPal_ESPN

Vito Stellino @VitoStellino

Jim Trotter @JimTrotter_NFL

Charean Williams @NFLCharean

Barry Wilner @Wilner88

 

 

A Hillary Clinton presidency would ‘complete a circle’ for equal rights pioneer Billie Jean King

By Leighton Ginn

Billie Jean King’s life work has been fighting for equality, so if Hillary Clinton is elected the first female President of the United States, it will carry a much deeper meaning for the all-time great tennis champion.

“It would complete a circle for me,” King said Friday in Palm Desert, Calif. “I’ve wanted a woman president, so long as she was qualified.

“I’ve almost made myself sick over it. I know there’s other people like me, men and women, who have been quiet. But we’ve been texting. When we get together, we get excited. It would mean so much because I think if you can see it, you can be it.”

King has been an icon of the equal rights movement ever since her victory over Bobby Riggs in the 1973 tennis match dubbed as the Battle of the Sexes. There is a movie currently in production starring Emma Stone as King and Steve Carrell as Riggs to be released in 2017.

In addition, King was also one of the nine founders of women’s professional tennis when she helped start the Virginia Slims tour. The women broke away from the men, who were making 10 times more in prize money.

King’s legacy has been recognized with some of this country’s highest honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Life Magazine named King one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century.”

Andy Roddick will have his New York moment in World Team Tennis

While King has seen as a champion for women, she feels that label is limiting. And she hopes that if Clinton is elected president, it will change perspectives.

“People try to put me and other women in ‘Oh, you help women.’ No, we help people. It drives me crazy because it discounts us, and it says we’re only for half the marketplace,” King said. “That’s one of the things I want to get across before I die, stop putting us that we’re just examples for women or girls. We care about all people and we’re leaders for all people like boys are leaders for all people.

“That’s what Hillary’s going to do. All of the sudden, there will be a whole different perception that will be normal. It will normalize the situation and that’s what’s important to me.”

This election season, Clinton has been in a tough campaign against Donald Trump.

During the primary elections, King said when it became apparent Clinton and Trump would win the nominations, she thought the campaign could turn into something like her Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs in 1973, which was seen by 90 million people worldwide.

“Hillary vs. The Donald totally reminded me of the Battle of the Sexes, that’s right on the money,” King said.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Rosie Casals talks about her chemistry with Billie Jean King

There was playful banter between King and Riggs during the promotion leading up to the event, which had Riggs wearing a “Sugar Daddy” jacket, and King presenting him a “chauvinist” pig.

The campaign between Trump and Clinton has been anything but friendly. It has been one of the most contentious elections ever. But King said she sees some similarities to the climate in this U.S. today and in 1973. 

“The country was quite divided back in the 70s, and it is today, right now,” King said. “In the 70s, you had Vietnam, you had Watergate heating up, you had the women’s rights at its heights, you had Roe vs. Wade, you had all kinds of things happening.

“I think it’s almost like a repeat in some ways. If you live long enough, you see the repeats.”

King also supported Clinton during her 2008 presidential run. For this election, King has campaigned in New York, as well as Paris and England for Clinton.

Tennis pioneer Rosie Casals calls out female CEOs for lack of support of women’s sports

If Clinton wins, King is intrigued at how it might change how children look at leaders, which started with President Barack Obama when he was elected in 2008.

“If you’re a 14-year-old, your frame of reference (of the President) will be a person of color in Obama and a woman when you go to vote in four years,” King said. “Think about what their frame of reference is compared to mine, where I will be 73 this month. I’ve only seen white men as Presidents of the United States until Obama. That is amazing. I was thinking, if I was 14-years old again, my frame of reference would be totally different.

“I think it’s great. It’s for the better. It’s about inclusion, it’s about equality, it’s about anyone can be President of the United States.”

Note: King was in Palm Desert for the Mylan World Team Tennis Rec League Nationals at Palm Valley Country Club. For more on World Team Tennis, visit their website http://www.wtt.com

 

Freddie Roach only sees two more fights for Manny Pacquiao before retiring (again)

By Leighton Ginn

Long-time trainer Freddie Roach said he only sees two more fights for his superstar, Manny Pacquiao before the Filipino senator walks away from boxing for good.

Pacquiao (58-6-2) returns to the ring for the first time since becoming a senator in May, facing WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1) on Nov. 5 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

In April, Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley in what Roach said was his best performance in ages. It was the third time Pacquiao had faced Bradley and the first time he knocked down the Desert Storm, doing it twice to earn a unanimous decision.

Although Pacquiao has had a compromised training schedule as he is juggling his busy senatorial duties, Roach said he feels confident going into the Vargas fight.

Beyond that fight, Roach doesn’t see the 37-year-old Pacquiao fighting more than one more time if he can secure a big-money fight.

The two names Roach said he’d like Pacquiao to take on are Canelo Alvarez and a rematch with the retired Floyd Mayweather.

“Get one of those big fights, fight that fight, and that’s it,” Roach said. “That’s my wishes.”

Roach said that scenario is dependent on how Pacquiao looks against Vargas. Win or lose, if Pacquiao looks bad, Roach said he might tell Pacquiao to hang it up.

“If he doesn’t slip, I still only want him to only have two more fights,” Roach said. “There’s nothing else he has to prove in boxing, in my mind.”

While Roach would like to see Pacquiao, who is a small fighter at the 147-pound welterweight division, take on super welterweight (154 pounds) champion Alvarez, promoter Bob Arum doesn’t like the matchup.

Arum said Pacquiao was sparring Ray Beltran, who fights at 135-pounds, and he was the bigger fighter.

Alvarez is the current box office king in boxing. While a Pacquiao-Alvarez fight would pit two big names, most fans have been clamoring for Alvarez to face Gennady Golovkin.

As far as Arum is concerned, he feels a fight between Pacquiao and super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.

“I would pay any amount of money to see Manny Pacquiao fight Lomachenko,” Arum said. “That for me would be a great, great, great fight.

“For me, I like guys who are almost like ballet dancers in the ring. Lomachenko is that, and so is Manny.”

Both Lomachenko and Crawford are promoted by Arum’s Top Rank.

One other fighter who has been discussed for Pacquiao is Adrien Broner. Arum said there had been negotiations, but fell apart because of Broner’s demands.

“Broner is out of his freakin’ mind,” Arum said. “We offered him a really good purse. We were maybe $100,000 apart. Broner then asked for 50 percent more than the purse we were talking about, which made it outlandish.

“Broner, there’s something mentally wrong with him.”

 

NOTE: Linda Ha contributed to this report.

 

Heisman winners and prolific arms: the quarterbacks (and a tailback) Norm Chow coached

 

By Leighton Ginn

One of the top offensive minds in the history of college football, Norm Chow made his reputation on building quarterbacks at both Brigham Young and USC, as well as an impressive short stint at North Carolina State.

Chow spent 27 years (1973-99) at BYU. At various times, he was the Cougars’ assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, co-offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, receivers coach, recruiting coordinator and graduate assistant (1973 and 1974).

He coached six of the NCAA’s top 16 career passing efficiency leaders and was involved with squads that hold 11 of the top 30 single season passing yardage totals in NCAA history. He coached in 22 bowls at BYU and was on the staff of the Cougars’ 1984 national championship team. BYU went 244-91-3 during his time in Provo.

He was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year in 1999 by the American Football Foundation and in 1993 by Athlon. He was the 1996 Division I Offensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Quarterly. In 1996, he was a finalist for the Broyles Award.

CARSON PALMER

palmer-carson-throwing-pg

Carson Palmer drops back to pass / photo courtesy of USC Athletics

 

CARSON PALMER: Some people think Palmer was the definitive quarterback of all of Chow’s protege. A highly recruited quarterback, Palmer was considered a underachiever prior to Chow’s arrival.

In two years with Chow, Palmer became one of the top quarterbacks in USC history en route to the Heisman Trophy.

Chow said when he got to USC, the playbook was reduced by 75 percent.

“I think we allowed him to be him,” Chow said. “You need to give your guy a chance to cut loose and play. There’s only so many reads you can make and there’s only so much you can do to that. You just let them play after a while. I think Carson took to that.”

“We always laugh about that because there’s only so many routes you can throw anyways.”

MATT LEINART

NCAA Football - Cal vs. University of Southern California

USC quarterback Matt Leinart drops back to pass during 23-17 victory over Cal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Pac-10 Conference football game on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004 / photo courtesy of USC Athletics

 

MATT LEINART: The heir apparent to Carson Palmer, Leinart beat out Matt Cassel and Brandon Hance for the starting job as a sophomore.

He would led the Trojans to two national titles and won the 2004 Heisman Trophy.

During their time together, Chow was impressed with how cerebral Leinart was. He remembers during practice how Leinart would call out head coach Pete Carroll’s defensive alignments.

For Chow, he doesn’t understand how Leinart’s success didn’t continue in the NFL.

“That was one of the real mysteries for me, why he’s not in the league. He’s good enough and he’s smart enough,” Chow said. “He was also cerebral as heck. He didn’t have a great arm and maybe that got him in trouble. But he was very accurate and had great anticipations.

“I swore that he would not only take a team to the national championship, but he would also take a team to the Super Bowl. I don’t know what happened.”

 

TY DETMER

TY DETMER: A case of don’t judge a book by its cover.

Detmer  didn’t have the physical tools of a prototypical quarterback, which was evident when they were in the locker room before a game at Colorado State.

“I was next to him and he took his shirt off. ‘Holy geez, we got to play a game with this guy who was 175-pounds dripping wet,'” Chow remembered. “But 400 yards later, we put the balls away and went home with the W.”

Chow said Detmer had a father as a coach and his understanding of the game was ahead of others. The only other player who had a mind like Detmer was Jim McMahon.

Detmer was the first player to win a Heisman Trophy for Chow, so many people wanted to take credit for recruiting Detmer.

Chow said it was a what, not a who, that attracted Detmer to BYU.

Detmer was going on recruiting trips to Colorado, Utah and then Los Angeles. In between the trip from Utah to Los Angeles, Detmer paid a visit to the Provo River, which was well-known for its fly fishing.

Once Detmer went fishing, he decided he would go to BYU.

Today, Detmer is following in Chow’s footsteps as the offensive coordinator at BYU.

“I text him after ball games,” Chow said. “To see some of the things he does is fascinating. He’s a tremendously gifted mind in the game of football.”

REGGIE BUSH

USC

USC tailback Reggie Bush breaks loose against Virginia Tech as coach Pete Carroll looks on. The Trojans won 24-13 / Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

REGGIE BUSH: One of the most gifted offensive players Chow ever worked with, Bush gave his offense a dimension he never enjoyed before.

“He was ahead of his time in college,” Chow said. “He was so good and so quick.”

Bush won his Heisman Trophy the year after Chow had left to become the offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans.

Chow said Bush was another receiver for his offense because of his good hands and the mismatches he created.

Notre Dame learned the hard way, as Chow retold a story he heard from Matt Leinart.

“We were playing Notre Dame and the weak-side linebacker said, ‘I got 5, I got 5,'” Chow said. “Matt Leinart said, ‘Bull (expletive) you got 5.’ He checked off a play for Reggie and he goes 70 yards for a touchdown.”

JIM MCMAHON

JIM MCMAHON: Chow was the receivers coach at the time at BYU, but recruited McMahon, who sometimes served as another offensive coordinator.

As the staff would prepare the game plans each week, McMahon would come into the office after watching tape and suggest plays.

“Coach bought in, I bought in,” Chow said. “When he went to the Bears, he did the same thing and (coach Mike) Ditka got pissed at him.”

Chow pointed out that much of what McMahon called worked.

During his time at BYU, McMahon was generally quiet. After games, he would leave Provo for his home in Roy, about 40 miles away.

So when McMahon became the “punky QB” with the Bears, it was counter to how Chow knew him.

“I remember when he came into town for a game,” Chow said. “I asked him, ‘Jim, why do you act so crazy?’ He said, ‘Coach, the crazier I act, the more money I make.'”

STEVE YOUNG

STEVE YOUNG: While Young had a great career at BYU, where he was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and broke 13 NCAA records, he wasn’t the kind of quarterback he would become with the San Francisco 49ers.

“When he was recruited to BYU, it was strictly as an athlete,” Chow said. “I wish we could take more credit for him.”

Chow said Young benefitted from a sure-handed tight end, Gordon Hudson, a former basketball player with a knack for getting open.

“I remember we used to tell him, ‘This is your first read. Look for Gordon, that was No. 2. No. 3, run,'” Chow said laughing. “That’s what we told him and he had a tremendous career because of that. We laughed about that all the time.”

Chow said Young became a great quarterback in the pros due to his time in the USFL and then being the backup to Joe Montana. When Young took over the 49ers, he was the NFL MVP in 1992 and 94, and the Super Bowl MVP after throwing six touchdown passes to beat the San Diego Chargers in 1995.

“He was a very gifted athlete who was as bright as the day is long,” Chow said.

PHILIP RIVERS

PHILIP RIVERS: Chow only had one season with the future San Diego Chargers star, his freshman season at North Carolina State.

Rivers graduated high school early, so Chow got to work with him during spring football to better prepare him for his freshman season. Chow joked that he needed that time to get used to Rivers’ Southern drawl.

“I told him, ‘You know Philip, I don’t understand a word your saying, and you don’t understand pidgin. We’re going to get along fine,'” Chow joked. “He was 6-foot-4 with an odd throwing motion, but bright, bright, bright.

“He makes things happen. Even as a first-year player, he was in charge. You knew he was in charge.”

Chow would leave for the USC offensive coordinator job, but said that one season was really enjoyable.

“I’ve said this many times, that was the funnest year I’ve had in coaching, coaching Philip Rivers,” Chow said. “He just made the game fun.”

VINCE YOUNG

VINCE YOUNG: While the Tennessee Titans had success with Vince Young early in his career, Chow said he saw the former Texas Longhorns star struggling with his transition.

“He just wasn’t ready for all the stuff that came with being an NFL quarterback,” Chow said. “He got by on his athleticism, and that was eventually going to get him into trouble because when you get to that level, everyone is as athletic as you are.”

Kerry Collins was the backup quarterback, and Chow said he had hoped Young would follow his lead, in terms of putting in the work needed.

Chow said on Tuesdays, players were off while the coaches were putting together the game plan for the week.

“Kerry Collins had a fax machine at home,” Chow said. “At 5 or 6 p.m., he starts calling me. ‘Coach, send me what you got, send me what you got.’ Wednesday morning was the installation of the offense and Kerry wanted to know what was going on.

“I encouraged (Young) a lot to come into the office on Tuesdays, but he wasn’t ready for that real serious studying.”

But Chow said he could tell that Young had other issues that were weighing in on him. When Young came to the facility, he would have his head down.

“I said, ‘Vince, with all these people after you, what you should do it go to your loved ones. They care about you,'” Chow said. “He looked at me, ‘Coach, those were the worst ones.’

“It wore on him.”

Despite all the issues, Young was the NFL offensive rookie of the year and a Pro Bowler in 2006, and the Titans reached the playoffs the next season.

ROBBIE BOSCO

ROBBIE BOSCO: He was the right quarterback at the right time for BYU and Chow, as he helped lead the Cougars to the 1984 national title.

“Robbie Bosco is a little different guy. He was a tough guy, but he was also thin,” Chow said. “What made Robbie was there was a lot of players around him that made him look good.”

While Bosco didn’t have the kind of arm of some of the other Hall of Famers, his career was no less impressive as he finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1984 and 85.

MATT CASSEL

matt-cassel-2

Matt Cassel attempts a pass against Arizona State/ photo courtesy of USC Athletics

MATT CASSEL: While at USC, fans didn’t see much of Matt Cassel, as he was backup to both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

It was a frustrating time for Cassel, who thought he would be the heir apparent after Palmer left.

“He wanted a chance and he deserved a chance,” Chow said. “But with Leinart playing the way he did, it was hard. There was only one ball.”

Chow said he respected that Cassel never transferred and even played tight end to help the team. He also knew he was very capable quarterback for the next level.

When Chow left for the Tennessee Titans, he made arrangements to sign Cassel as a free agent.

“All of the sudden, in the seventh round, someone comes down to the office and said, ‘someone already took your boy,'” Chow said. “The Patriots had gone out to the Pro Day. The receivers needed someone to throw to them and Matt volunteered. He made such an impression that the Patriots took him in the last round.

“That’s who Matt Cassel was. He was good enough, but he got caught in a tough situation.”

In 2008, Cassel stepped in as the starter for the Patriots after Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury and led the team to an 11-5 record.

MARC WILSON

MARC WILSON: In 1979, Wilson was a first-time All American, the first for BYU. By the next year, he was the backup to Jim McMahon.

“He had a kind of checkered little career because of McMahon,” said Chow, who was the receivers coach at the time. “I don’t think he was really pleased with the way BYU handled him. They didn’t handle him wrong because McMahon was there. I think later in life, he realized what was happening.

“We still stay in touch, and we’ve done so for a while.”

Wilson had a good run in the NFL, as he was part of the Raiders’ Super Bowl championship teams in 1980 and 84.

Wilson was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame after breaking nine NCAA passing records.

 

 

 

Bob Arum blasts Don King for his endorsement of Donald Trump

By Leighton Ginn

HOLLYWOOD — Bob Arum has made it clear his distaste for Donald Trump, and he didn’t mince words long-time rival boxing promoter Don King, who has endorsed the GOP presidential candidate.

“He’s a traitor to his people,” Arum said on Oct. 26 during Manny Pacquiao’s Hollywood workout. “How can you back a bigot like Trump? And I tell you, Don King disgraced himself by being for Trump. And any of you people here who even think about voting for Trump should be ashamed of yourself.”

Arum has been a strong support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Special correspondent Linda Ha reported on this story

Michael Kim’s still a pioneering force in sports journalism

Michael Kim (right) listens during a Sports Task Force event at the Asian American Journalist Association convention in San Francisco. Kim is joined by ESPN's New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets writer Ohm Youngmisuk.

Michael Kim (right) listens during a Sports Task Force event at the Asian American Journalist Association convention in San Francisco. Kim is joined by ESPN’s New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets writer Ohm Youngmisuk.

I like to think of Michael Kim as the journalist for impatient sports fans.

Many people know Kim from his days at ESPN. He actually got his start with the network in 1996 with the launch of ESPN News. Before the internet and instantaneous results on your phone or PC, ESPN News was a 24-hour service that fans could check in at anytime to get up to date on the latest results.

Kim went on to anchor SportsCenter as well as filled in for “Outside The Lines” and “First Take,” among other things.

Last year, Kim made the surprise move of leaving the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” when he took a job with 120 Sports, which provides on-demand sports highlights and analysis in two-minute video segments.

And all videos are to fit into two minutes, hence the reason for the 120 names referring to the total seconds.

It’s an innovative app, voted among the best by ITunes and continues to grow.

Below is my interview with Kim during the Asian American Journalist Association convention. Kim, as well as myself, are involved with the Sports Task Force.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/70914929

I’ve grown to really like 120 Sports. While ESPN is my main source for sports news, it can get tedious waiting through the deflategate stories to get to highlights I want to see. With 120 Sports, I can find the highlights and thoughtful analysis from a very impressive team of experts. They do provide some fresh perspectives if you are looking for something different from ESPN’s crew.

This is a venture with Sports Illustrated and several of the major sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, and several college conferences.

Check it out when you get a chance.

http://www.120sports.com/video

Also, for those of you who will have interest in the AAJA Sports Task Force, we have two sites.

The Facebook page has stories posted from the various AAJA journalists covering a wide array of sports.

https://www.facebook.com/AAJASportsJournalists?ref=bookmarks

And if you want to learn more about the organization, the link to the AAJA Sports Task Force is below.

http://sportstaskforce.com/