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Altamont at 45
NFL Quiz: Fuzzy Thurston died (discussed below). He is one of just three men to play on six NFL championship teams. Who are the other two? Answer below.
--Monday night the Saints took over the putrid NFC South lead at 6-8 with a 31-15 win over the equally pathetic Bears (5-9). Drew Brees was good (29/36, 375, 3-0, 137.8), while for Chicago Jay Cutler sucked (3 interceptions).
--Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray had surgery Monday to repair a broken left ring finger and his status this coming Sunday is questionable. It seems to be he could play with it, but it’s whether he can handle the ball and how much pain he can endure. It’s another critical game for Dallas, against the Indianapolis Colts. Murray leads the NFL with 1,687 yards.
--The Arizona Cardinals, having lost Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injuries, are going with Ryan Lindley against Seattle on Sunday. Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians was asked Monday if Lindley can lead the team through the playoffs (the Cards having clinched a spot) and Arians responded:
“We’ve been written off all year...We like where we’re at, and we like the guys who are playing for us, and he’s one of them.”
Meanwhile, as Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, Arizona is hardly the only team with serious quarterback issues. Houston lost Ryan Fitzpatrick to a broken leg Sunday, and then backup Tom Savage injured his knee in the same game. Earlier, the Texans lost starter Ryan Mallett to a torn pectoral muscle. So now Houston is down to Case Keenum or Thad Lewis.
The Redskins are now back to Robert Griffin III for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia after Colt McCoy suffered a neck injury against the Giants. The Eagles will be sticking with turnover prone Mark Sanchez because Nick Foles’ collarbone isn’t fully healed.
Charlie Whitehurst is going to finish the season for Tennessee after both Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger went down with injuries.
By the way, the Browns are sticking with Johnny Manziel despite his disastrous debut. Might as well. The Brownies blew their playoff hopes weeks ago.
--Andy Dalton is one of the funnier quarterbacks in the game. Not necessarily Ha-Ha funny, but he’s a piece of work. There’s a reason why Bengals fans pray for “Good Andy” and not “Bad Andy.”
I mean you want an example? He is easily the only quarterback in football this year to have four games with a passer rating above 115 [8 TD 0 INT, combined] and four below 61 [1 TD 7 INT].
Of course it was back on Nov. 6, in a 24-3 loss to Cleveland, we had “Andy 2.0.” 10 of 33 for 86 yards and three interceptions. A quarterback rating of 2.0.
--New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Dallas Cowboys fan, was the guest of Jerry Jones in his box at the Cowboys-Eagles game on Sunday. During the contest, Philadelphia Councilman Jim Kenney called Christie a “fat ass” in a tweet because Christie was sitting with Jones.
So Christie commented the next day on his monthly radio show, “Listen, I’m not going to get into it. First of all, who?”
Christie then said Kenney was in search of headlines when he also tweeted Christie was “a creep.”
Earlier, Christie defended his fandom on a local radio show.
“I’m a Cowboys fan,” Christie said. “This is like the worst kept secret in America.”
Personally, I respect the Governor for sticking to his guns when it comes to being a fan.
Thurston was one of Vince Lombardi’s famed pulling guards on the Packers’ sweep. He was there all nine of Lombardi’s seasons in Green Bay, winning championships in 1961, 62, 65, 66 and 67, including the first two Super Bowls.
Thurston, 6’1” and 245 pounds, played left guard to Jerry Kramer’s right guard, with both pulling out on the Lombardi sweep, most of the time with Paul Hornung and fullback Jim Taylor carrying the ball.
Frederick Charles Thurston was born in Altoona, Wis., near Eau Claire. The name “Fuzzy” dates from his childhood. He actually went to Valparaiso University in Indiana on a basketball scholarship and didn’t play football until his junior year (there not being a football team where he went to high school in Altoona).
In an interview with the New York Times’ Bruce Weber on Monday, Kramer said, “He had a growth spurt in college – or maybe a weight spurt. I think he found beer, or something.”
Thurston was drafted by the Eagles in 1956, didn’t make the team, and served in the Army. In 1958 he was a backup guard for the Baltimore Colts, who defeated the Giants in the title game. [Thus Thurston is one of a select few to play on six championship teams.]
Lombardi was the offensive coach for the Giants that year, and after he became the Packers’ head coach, the team traded for Thurston.
After his playing career, Thurston owned a chain of taverns around Wisconsin, including Fuzzy’s #63 Bar & Grill in Green Bay that remains a popular spot to this day.
Among those making the 89th AP All-American team (the only one that matters) were Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary (Jack Nicklaus’ grandson) and kicker Roberto Aguayo (second straight for him), as well as Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.
The other receiver on the first team is Rashard Higgins / Colorado State, while the second running back is Tevin Coleman / Indiana.
The defensive ends are Joey Bosa / Ohio State, and Vic Beasley / Clemson (he’s been advancing up the draft board all season).
The safeties (as I cherry pick who to highlight on the AP team) are Landon Collins / Alabama, and Gerod Holliman / Louisville...who had 14 interceptions!
Among those on the second team were quarterback Trevone Boykin / TCU; running back James Conner / Pitt; wide receivers Kevin White / West Virginia, Rashad Greene / Florida State; and defensive end Shane Ray / Missouri.
By the way, the Pac-12 had seven players on the first team, followed by the ACC with six. ACC! ACC!
Rashard Higgins was the only player outside the Big Five conferences to make the first team.
--I was rushing to post the last chat Monday morning when I got a note from Paul P., mentioning the Army-Navy game, and it hit me...I forgot to note this one! I certainly wasn’t trying to ignore it, having watched the entire contest down in Kiawah. So I added a little something at the very end of Bar Chat, about 2 ½ hours after posting, and it’s there for the record.
--Former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was introduced as the new coach of Youngstown State, which isn’t as much of a downer as it seems, Pelini being from the region. Huge coup for YSU.
AP Top Ten (Dec. 15)
1. Kentucky 11-0 (all 65 first-place votes)
2. Duke 8-0
3. Arizona 10-0
4. Louisville 9-0
5. Wisconsin 10-1
6. Virginia 9-0
7. Villanova 10-0
8. Gonzaga 9-1
9. Texas 8-1
10. Kansas 8-1
19. San Diego State 7-2...huge game at Cincinnati on Wed. Need it badly. My Aztecs have certainly had a tough early schedule...Utah, Brigham Young, Pitt, Arizona, Washington...Long Beach State proved to be a toughie...but these set the stage for tournament seeding down the road and that’s why Cincy in particular is big.
20. St. John’s 8-1.
So the AP poll was released Monday afternoon and that evening, Duke beat Elon 75-62 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score, which wouldn’t warrant a mention except for the fact freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor had 25 points and 20 rebounds, plus 3 blocks.
Not only was Okafor’s 20 boards the first time a Duke freshman had that many, but he joined Maryland’s Joe Smith (1993-94) as the only ACC freshman to post a 20/20. As Ronald Reagan would have said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--I was reading a piece in Sports Illustrated on last year’s NCAA tournament and No. 1 (and undefeated, 35-0, Wichita State) playing 8-seed Kentucky, which the Wildcats won 78-76 in a classic, and it was just a reminder what a jam job the Shockers got with the seeding. Everyone knows Kentucky, especially the way they were playing down the stretch, wasn’t an 8-seed.
As SI’s Luke Winn wrote: “Can the greatness of a game overcome the unjust circumstances in which it was played? Because Wichita State-Kentucky was as great as it was wrong, and even nine months later, it’s hard to separate the two. ‘It was the most mis-seeded game I’ve ever coached in,’ says Wildcats coach John Calipari. ‘[The Shockers] did not deserve to have to play us then. They had too good of a season.’ (Wichita State coach Gregg) Marshall, likewise, remains displeased with the work of the NCAA tournament selection committee and its first-year chairman, Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, who jammed Wichita State, Duke, Michigan, Louisville, Kentucky and Tennessee – six of the nation’s top 13 teams in adjusted efficiency – into the Midwest Region and then made the risible claim that ‘we’ve achieved balance.’”
Yup, that’s Wake Forest’s AD who blew it. I couldn’t be more bored by my alma mater’s sports teams these days...with one exception (see below)...and when you watch a Wake hoops or football game you sure see an awful lot of empty seats.
--I caught the final minutes of now No. 11 Wichita State’s game with Alabama on Tuesday with the Shockers down 51-40 with 5:50 to play, whereupon they unleashed a terrific comeback to pull out a 53-52 win.
--Huge blow for Milwaukee as rookie Jabari Parker will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Parker was averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25 games.
--The Oklahoma City Thunder were left for dead after injuries to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, falling to 4-12 out of the gate. Then Westbrook returned for game 17 and Durant came back the following contest and now the team is 12-13. You do the math.
--Third baseman Chase Headley has made more out of one good season as just about anyone in this era. In 2012 with the Padres, he had 31 HR 115 RBI, hit .286, won a Gold Glove and finished fifth in the MFP balloting. He then fell back to earth in 2013 and last year was a midseason acquisition by the Yankees, whereupon he had 6 HR 17 RBI and hit .262 in 191 at-bats.
Headley is a decent player, good fielder, supposedly good guy, but otherwise nothing special.
However, the Yanks signed him to a four-year, $52 million contract on Monday. So much for Alex Rodriguez being a serious option at third.
Regarding A-Roid, he’s destined to DH, but then they have the likes of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran for that role as well, assuming their many injuries don’t allow them to play the field that often.
I’ll be shocked if the Yankees do better than, say, 84-78 next season. Including with their starting staff they are a walking question mark, especially since they’ve announced they won’t be paying up for Max Scherzer.
At least they’ll get good fielding from the left side of the infield with Headley and newcomer Didi Gregorius at short (I did like his acquisition). Actually, Martin Prado, who will now play second, is solid too.
[Tuesday, the Yanks announced they had signed lefty Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million deal that adds some stability to their rotation.]
--This is not a good Yankees story. Former catching great Jorge Posada has sued his money managers for allegedly duping him out of $11.2 million – a major chunk of his wealth, just three years after he retired from the game.
Financial advisers Juan Carlos Collar and Anthony Fernandez allegedly defrauded Posada by getting him to invest in a shady real-estate deal in 2005, and then sinking $millions into a risky hedge-fund transaction in 2007.
As reported by the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff and Carl Campanile:
“The suit claims the duo scammed Posada into investing $3 million of his money into a speculative real-estate deal called Sunset Trails. The plan was to develop ‘a wealthy equestrian community’ in Highlands County.
“The advisers bought the property through Sunset Trails for $13 million - $5 million more than what it had been purchased for earlier that day, the suit says.
“The money managers then had Posada sign papers personally putting him on the hook for debt to finance the real-estate deal, the suit says.
“The Posadas also invested $8.1 million into their managers’ Quantum Hedge Fund – half their investable assets. And they were charged exorbitant fees, the suit says.”
--Free agent Michael Morse signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Miami Marlins, another good move for them. I was hoping my Mets would pick him up but am more than satisfied with the signing of Michael Cuddyer.
--Gerald Eskenazi of the Wall Street Journal had a piece on Sy Berger, the creator of the modern baseball card at Topps who died the other day, and Eskenazi, who interviewed Berger some 50 years ago, said of the famous Mickey Mantle rookie card.
“Topps got Mantle for $25 at the same time he signed a player contract with the Yankees for a bonus of $1,500. That first Mantle card was minted in 1952, not his rookie season in 1951, as many believe. Topps didn’t think Mantle would make it as a rookie and so didn’t bother printing a card with his likeness. That first Mantle card today? You can pick one up for $25,000 on eBay.” [Ed. far more if in mint condition.]
Separately, while it is a big-time secret what players earn today as an annual royalty on cards, a source told Eskenazi it’s in the neighborhood of $75,000.
Back in 2007 a group purchased Topps for about $385 million.
A Look Back at Altamont
I saw a piece on the 45th anniversary of the concert at Altamont and it’s an excuse to run a bit from a December 2005 Bar Chat, featuring tidbits from the book “The Rolling Stones: An Oral History” by Alan Lysaght.
December 6, 1969. The Stones end their sixth North American tour with a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in California. They had previously employed the British Hells Angels for security in England and decided to use their San Francisco counterparts, who partied way too hard. In the confused atmosphere, an 18-year-old black youth, Meredith Hunter, pulled a gun out at the front of the stage and the Hells Angels stabbed him to death midway through the Stones’ set. The group then rushed through the rest of their tunes and was helicoptered out of there. It was a total disaster. [Earlier, the Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin was attacked by one of the Angels halfway through a song.]
Afterwards, the Stones were blamed for playing “Sympathy for the Devil” earlier in the show, though they were performing “Under My Thumb” when the murder occurred. It was all captured in the feature-length documentary “Gimme Shelter.” But because of the uproar, the Stones didn’t play “Sympathy” in concert for six years.
Mick Taylor (band member): It was just meant to be a concert. We were in Florida when it was being organized by a bunch of San Francisco people and we liked the idea of doing a free concert in San Francisco, so we said, “Right, at the end of the tour we’ll do this free concert.” That’s really as far as our involvement went. When we turned up that day, we just turned up to do a concert as we would any other concert. But as soon as we arrived I sensed a very strange atmosphere. There were lots of things going on. There were fights and Hells Angels members were throwing people off stage. That had been going on all day. I don’t know why it was like that. Certainly it wasn’t the Stones’ fault, because we turned up there perhaps forty minutes before we went onstage, but in fact the violence was there the whole time.
Mick Jagger: Altamont was a very nasty experience. I guess we have to take part of the blame because we didn’t really check it out as well as we could, but it was left up to the people in San Francisco. They seemed like they were so mellow and nice and organized that it was going to be under control, but of course it wasn’t. So I learned the lesson that you never do anything that you’re not in control of. You’ve got to be so careful. Even though it wasn’t our fault, it was in the sense that it was our show and we let other people make some important decisions.
Altamont was a big thing for a lot of people. They were blaming it on our image and it was some kind of “end of the innocence.” They’re still agonizing over it. “Did it mean something?...Does it really mean something?” [laughs] It was pretty awful but I don’t think it meant very much.
Keith Richards: The (Hells) Angels should never have been given the job. They were into this thing about, “Don’t touch my chrome, man,” but when you park your bike in front of a couple of hundred thousand people trying to crowd around a stage, you gotta know there’s a good chance someone’s going to touch it.
We just wanted to give a free concert, and we asked the (Grateful) Dead to help us because it’s their area and they’d given a couple of free concerts, so we figured they knew. They put us together with these people who seemed pretty cool. We were in Alabama at Muscle Shoals working on the next record and left the arranging up to them. Then the municipal government or someone tried to shut them down and they had to move locations at the last minute. There just wasn’t time to figure out the parking and the facilities. Once I heard the problems the (Jefferson) Airplane were having, I thought, “There’s no turning back.” Once the mood’s gone bad, it’s only
going to get worse not better. Canceling the show would have just made things worse still, so we did it.
In 1969 in America there was a potential anarchy going on. You had the war happening and the whole community was doing whatever it wanted. Hells Angels were running towns and counties because all the cops had been sent to the war. When I think of Altamont I always think to myself, “Thank God it was only that guy that died and maybe after all he asked for it.” I mean, pulling a shooter out in front of acid-crazed Angels, you’re asking for trouble. My big fear at that point was, “Is this going to escalate?” All I’ve got are these few lights and a mike and saying, “Cool it” [laughs]. And they did. They cooled right out, because otherwise the body count could have been really bad . Once it started, anything could have happened when you have half a million people there. So to me, it was a tragedy in a way, but at the same time it was kind of a triumph.
Sonny Barger (Hells Angels member in charge of security): We were hired to keep people off the stage and that’s what we did. When people start messing with our bikes, look out. Those things are worth a lot of money and when people start kickin’ the most important thing in your life, you better believe we get upset. They’re damn well gonna pay for it. They blame the Angels for what happened and that’s crap. That guy Mick Jagger is full of s---. I would never work for those guys again.
[Hey, Sonny, like I respect you, man. I’m just writing a little bar chat. Don’t worry; I won’t touch your bike. OK? Now I’m just going to move on with the column and you just go about your business.......phew, that was a close call.]
--Bizarre situation in the NHL where about 20 players have come down with the mumps, a childhood disease. Penguins star Sidney Crosby tested positive for the virus on Monday, a day after teammate Beau Bennett came down with it, both among a group of Penguins who had visited patients at a local children’s hospital.
Rangers forward Derick Brassard was sent home from a Canadian road trip after receiving a mumps diagnosis.
An official with the NHL said that at least it appears many of the players are up to date on their vaccinations or the outbreak would be worse.
According to the C.D.C., the U.S. has experienced a few hundred mumps cases each year since 2000. College campuses are usually a major source of outbreaks.
The thing is the vaccine is not 100% effective. Crosby had actually received a mumps booster shot before going to the Sochi Olympics. [Jeff Z. Klein / New York Times]
--On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals lost to the Florida Panthers, 2-1, in a shootout...a shootout containing a record 20 rounds, the previous record being 15.
--As alluded to above, there is one Wake Forest sports team performing at a high level. The men’s golf squad is No. 6 in the country and was featured in the Dec. 12-19 issue of Golfweek. Freshmen Will Zalatoris, this year’s U.S. Junior Amateur champion, and Paul McBride, a decorated player from Dublin, have helped elevate what had been a moribund program. Something to follow in the spring, Deacon fans.
--As pointed out in Bloomberg Businessweek, there are only two cities left bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics; Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. A half-dozen other cities were spooked by the $51 billion Russia spent on the Sochi Games. And then there’s the IOC.
“The high-handed demands of the International Olympic Committee were another turnoff. When Oslo backed out, Norwegian newspaper VG ran excerpts from the IOC’s manuals for host countries under the headline: ‘IOC Requires Free Booze in the Stadium and Cocktail Party With the King.’ The article highlighted guidelines stating that a full bar must be available in the stadium lounge during opening and closing ceremonies. It’s OK to serve only beer and wine on competition days. The head of state must be there for the start of the games.”
Among the other cities dropping out of the bidding were Davos, St. Moritz, Stockholm, Munich and Krakow.
--The aforementioned Paul P. noted my comment on menhaden the other day when I said I had never had it. Paul said, “Most folks call it Bunker. Nasty, greasy bait fish that bluefish and bass love to dine on. I believe commercial fishermen catch menhaden for dog/cat food.”
--Finally, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its class for 2015...Lou Reed (who is already in for his work with The Velvet Underground), Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Joan Jett and Bill Withers.
The only one I care about in the group is Withers. Otherwise, talk about a yawner of a class for enshrinement. It wouldn’t have been if some of those shut out had made the cut...including The Spinners, The Marvelettes, and War. The voters blow, plus we know that Jann Wenner is very capable of rigging the ballot.
Top 3 songs for the week 12/18/76: #1 “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” (Rod Stewart) #2 “The Rubberband Man” (Spinners...love these guys...but not this tune...) #3 “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)” (Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.)...and...#4 “Muskrat Love” (Captain &Tennille...don’t touch them...they could have rabies...) #5 “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” (Leo Sayer...ughh...) #6 “More Than A Feeling” (Boston) #7 “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” (Elton John) #8 “Nadia’s Theme (The Young and The Restless)” (Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin, Jr. ...not a popular party song...) #9 “You Are The Woman” (Firefall...see #5...) #10 “Nights Are Forever Without You” (England Dan & John Ford Coley...oh what the heck, these guys did some good schmaltzy tunes...)
NFL Quiz Answer: The others to play on six NFL championship teams aside from Fuzzy Thurston are Forrest Gregg and Herb Adderley, both of whom won a title with the Dallas Cowboys, aside from the five with the Packers.