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The Passing of an NFL Great
[Posted Tuesday p.m.]
PGA Tour Quiz: The Tour started measuring longest drivers starting in 1980. 1) Who was the first winner, who then repeated in 1981? [Initials D.P.] 2) John Daly won his first longest driver title in 1991. How many did he end up winning? 3) Who has won the most since 2005? Answers below.
Don Shula, RIP
Perhaps the greatest coach of all time in the NFL (along with Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick…if you were forced to just select three), Shula died on Monday at the age of 90. The family said it wasn’t Covid-related.
Starting as a 33-year-old head coach of the 1963 Baltimore Colts, Don Shula was major domo for 33 consecutive years, 1963-1995, going 328-156-6 in the regular season (the all-time leader in wins), a .677 winning percentage, while going 19-17 in the playoffs, winning Super Bowls in 1971 and ’72, the latter still the only perfect season in NFL history, 17-0. Overall he led six teams to conference championships.
Perhaps just as impressively, in 33 years he had only two losing seasons (1976 and 1988).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a statement:
“Don Shula will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches and contributors in the history of our game. He made an extraordinarily positive impact on so many lives. The winningest coach in NFL history and the only one to lead a team to a perfect season, Coach Shula lived an unparalleled football life. As a player, Hall of Fame coach, and long-time member and co-chair of the NFL Competition Committee, he was a remarkable teacher and mentor who for decades inspired excellence and exemplified integrity. His iconic legacy will endure through his family and continue to inspire generations to come. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Don’s wife Mary Anne and to his children Dave, Donna, Sharon and Mike, the Shula family and the Dolphins organization.”
Bill Belichick issued a statement through the Patriots:
“Don Shula is one of the all-time great coaching figures and the standard for consistency and leadership in the NFL. I was fortunate to grow up in Maryland as a fan of the Baltimore Colts who, under Coach Shula, were one of the outstanding teams of that era. My first connection to Coach Shula was through my father, whose friendship with Coach Shula went back to their days in northeast Ohio. I extend my deepest condolences to the Shula family and the Dolphins organization.”
[More on Shula and Belichick below.]
He was born Donald Francis Shula in Grand River, Ohio, on Jan. 4, 1930, the son of a Hungarian immigrant father, and a Hungarian-American mother. As a youth, Don helped his father on a fishing boat.
After a severely cut nose playing football at age 11 (others have it at 13), his parents forbade him from playing the sport. But when he got to high school, Shula “forged” a permission slip and went out for the team. He didn’t tell his parents about it until he’d become a starter. He returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the first game they saw him play.
Shula was good enough to earn a scholarship to John Carroll University in Cleveland, and good enough to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns as a defensive back, then coached by Paul Brown, whose teachings Shula adopted.
After seven seasons in the NFL, Shula then spent two seasons as a college assistant at Virginia and Kentucky, and two more seasons as an assistant with the Detroit Lions. Then, at 33, only three years older than Johnny Unitas, he took over the Colts, immediately establishing himself as a tough, no-nonsense, my way or the highway coach. Even Unitas wasn’t spared.
Sam Farmer, Mike Kupper / Los Angeles Times
“A homespun NFL coach once gave a simple summation of the tactical and inspirational excellence of Don Shula.
“ ‘Don Shula can take his’n and beat your’n,’ Bum Phillips said, ‘or he can take your’n and beat his’n.’
“Point being, Shula won. A lot. In fact, he was the NFL’s winningest coach, leading the Miami Dolphins to the league’s only undefeated season….
“ ‘If there were a Mt. Rushmore for the NFL, Don Shula certainly would be chiseled into the granite,’ Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said….
“In a 2005 interview with (the L.A.) Times, Shula said as rewarding as the three decades of coaching were, they came at a cost.
“ ‘It’s demanding,’ he said. ‘It totally takes over your life. It consumes you. That’s all you think about, morning, noon and night. June used to be our family vacation month. I’d try to get to know the kids and my wife in the month of June, just cram it all into that little period of time. But once the season starts, that’s all. It just takes over your life.
“ ‘You might try to think of something else, but it starts creeping in there. Next thing you know you’re getting up in the middle of the night thinking about what you should do, what you didn’t do, what you’d like to do. That hasn’t changed.’….
“For all of his winning, though, Shula also is remembered for a career-changing loss in Super Bowl III. It was January 1969 and although the merger of the upstart American Football League into the longstanding NFL had been announced two years earlier, it wasn’t scheduled to happen until the 1970 season. Thus, Super Bowl III was still a championship meeting of teams from rival leagues: Shula’s Colts of the NFL and the New York Jets of the AFL.
“Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers had upheld the prestige of the NFL with convincing victories over the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in the first two championship games, and Shula’s one-loss Colts, despite the absence of premier quarterback Johnny Unitas – who missed most of the season with an injury – were three-touchdown favorites over the Jets, and 11-3 regular-season team.
“Most of the sporting world considered the game a mere formality, but Jets quarterback Joe Namath had other ideas.
“The high-living, big-talking ‘Broadway Joe’ sneered at the odds and not only predicted victory for the Jets but also guaranteed it, then backed up his boast with a most-valuable-player performance. The Jets won, 16-7, and Shula became the first NFL coach to lose a Super Bowl to an AFL team.
“Although they never spoke to each other at length about that game, Shula and Namath maintained a cordial relationship over the years. One encounter was particularly memorable for Namath, and it came in 1985 when the Hall of Fame quarterback was part of ABC’s ‘Monday Night Football’ broadcast team. The Dolphins were preparing to play the 12-0 Chicago Bears on the national stage.
“ ‘I took my dad to Dolphins practice, and I had heard that coach Shula was of Hungarian descent,’ Namath told The Times on Monday. ‘Well, my dad comes from Hungary. He’s first-generation here. And when we were on the field, I introduced my dad to coach Shula. It was right before practice, and I know coach Shula had a lot of things on his mind. But he came over and I said, ‘coach Shula this is my dad.’ Right away, coach Shula started talking Hungarian to him and they had a conversation. It really thrilled my dad.’”
Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post
“It’s not simply because (Shula) won some football games, or even all of them in that glorious 17-0 season of 1972.
“It’s the manner in which he did so: stressing a work ethic, respect and integrity in a way that grabbed Larry Csonka and Dan Marino by the collar just as surely as it did the brick layer in Hialeah and the landscaper in Lantana.
“Don Shula made us feel better about calling ourselves South Floridians.
“Shula arrived on Feb. 18, 1970, a reasonably successful 40-year-old coach joining a laughably unsuccessful 4-year-old expansion franchise nestled in the ‘Sun and Fun Capital of the World.’
“Longtime South Floridians tell stories of an evening less than three years later, Jan. 14, 1973. Thousands of fans of all colors and all languages clogged Miami’s streets following the Dolphins’ 14-7 Super Bowl victory over Washington to complete The Perfect Season, capital letters required. This was an era in which all-respecting Dolfans brought white handkerchiefs to the Orange Bowl to form a shimmering, white-capped sea after every score. Now, after a championship? They stepped onto balconies and waved white bedsheets.
“Miami was wrestling with the melting pot it was fast becoming, but on this night, with Shula at the wheel, the only colors that mattered were aqua and orange.
“South Florida grew up under Don Shula’s watch. Similar championship celebrations have followed for upstart franchises called the Heat and Marlins and nearly the Panthers, but none came wrapped in the knowledge that history – lasting history – was unfolding as surely as those bedsheets were. The Dolphins had the best football team of that year and any year, according to Shula, forever puzzled there was even a debate.
“ ‘How can anyone be better than perfect?’ he reminded us.”
[But Don Shula was an unyielding taskmaster.]
“Legendary at ‘Camp Shula’ were four-a-day practices and 12-minute runs in the blistering summer sun. Even after the sun packed up for the day, the Dolphins would not.
“ ‘A couple of times we had the cars in the parking lot shine their lights out on the field so we could see,’ Shula said.
“Former Colt Norm Bulaich, a Dolphins fullback from 1975-79, had two messages for Shula when he retired: ‘I wished I’d been coached all 10 years by him. But then my second statement was I probably wouldn’t have made it 10 years.’
“Miami sportswriters quickly learned that second-guessing Shula after games was done at the inquisitor’s risk. Why, even Shula’s ‘boss’ watched his step. Dolphins owner Joe Robbie once made the mistake of yelling at Shula in front of dozens at the team’s annual awards banquet.
“ ‘If you ever shout at me again, I’ll knock you on your ass,’ Shula said….
“Shula absorbed some jabs, but not many. The granddaddy: One day in the ‘70s, a few Dolphins stuffed a small alligator in his shower.
“ ‘A fun thing at the time,’ Shula practically howled during a 2005 reunion of retired Dolphins. ‘I was riding them pretty tough and they wanted to show me I was a little uptight.
“ ‘I said, ‘That’s pretty serious, putting a live alligator in the shower.’’
“Not as serious as some conspirators wished.
“ ‘I heard a scream like no one’s heard before,’ running back Jim Kiick said. ‘I was in the doghouse. He thought I was the instigator for the whole thing. He approached me screaming and yelling. I said, ‘Coach Shula, my only involvement was taking a vote whether we should tape his mouth shut. I voted against. Fortunately for you, I lost.’’….
“Even the supposedly mellower Don Shula had his feisty moments. With Marino about to enter the Hall of Fame in 2005, Shula was asked how much the quarterback benefited from having only two head coaches in the NFL. Marino’s other coach was Jimmy Johnson, who had a frosty relationship with Shula and Marino.
“ ‘You mean he had one coach,’ Shula said. ‘Look at the numbers. They speak for themselves.’….
“Always, Shula meant what he said and said what he meant. Would you buy a used car from Don Shula? Folks did in his hometown of Painesville, Ohio. That’s how Shula supplemented his income during two off-seasons as a young defensive back for the Baltimore Colts. In Don we trusted: In the ‘80s, a steakhouse that put Shula’s name on it saw profits soar by $3 million the first year. Now, there are Shula’s Steak Houses throughout the country. But only South Florida also boasts the Shula name on a highway, a hotel, a golf course and a charitable foundation.
“ ‘If Shula declared tomorrow as Christmas, most South Floridians would have their stocking up by sunlight,’ legendary Miami Herald columnist Edwin Pope wrote in September 1980, 11 years after his suggestion to Robbie that he hire Shula changed NFL history….
“Shula spent 26 years with the Dolphins, unlikely to be matched in today’s NFL, and commanded fatherly respect of his players long after they were his players….
“Shula’s players knew as stern as the man could be, he still was fair.
“ ‘The thing about Don was you could get right back in his face and argue with him,’ defensive tackle Manny Fernandez said….
“Marino, (Bob) Kuechenberg and Csonka ranked among Shula’s favorites – he even named his dog ‘Zonk’ – but having been an average player himself, Shula appreciated hard work by all. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson was a backup in 1993 when a series of injuries to others made him the quarterback of record on Nov. 14, 1993, the day Shula won his 325th game against the Eagles to surpass Chicago’s George Halas as the winningest coach.
“Eight years later, Shula saw Pederson on a golf course. Shula didn’t mention the Eagles game specifically but didn’t have to. ‘He made it known to me he was very appreciative,’ said Pederson, who went on to coach a Super Bowl winner himself, in 2017-18.
“So Shula won with Doug Pederson. In Baltimore, Shula won with running back Tom Matte filling in at quarterback, calling plays off a wristband that ended up in the Hall of Fame. Shula went to Super Bowls with brainy Bob Griese utilizing three outstanding running backs, with Marino throwing 48 touchdown passes in 1984, and with David Woodley and Don Strock morphed into ‘Woodstrock’ in 1982. Before the 1972 season, Shula signed veteran Earl Morrall as a pricey insurance policy in case Griese got hurt. Then, Griese got hurt. Shula achieved perfection anyway, thanks to Morrall.
“Throughout all these styles, two constants:
“(But) few losses angered him as much as a December 1982 game at New England in which Mark Henderson, a prisoner on work-release, drove a snowplow onto the field to clear a spot for a field goal with 4:45 left, giving the Patriots a 3-0 victory. Why didn’t Shula try to stop it? As a longtime member of the NFL’s competition committee, he was dumbfounded that anyone would even think of such a thing.
“ ‘The key is having respect for the people you’re competing against,’ is how Shula defined sportsmanship in 2002. ‘As the head coach, I always tried to convey to the people I was responsible for that winning certainly was the ultimate goal, but we always wanted to be a team that was known as being good sportsmen and winning within the rules and doing things the right way.’
“Shula therefore had no use for those who pushed the ethical envelope. ‘You mean Belicheat/’ he said of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Although Belichick won six rings with the Patriots, in the eyes of Shula (and likely many in South Florida), the cloud of suspicion hovering over him from ‘-gate’ scandals disqualifies him from claims that he, not Shula, is the best ever.
“Ted Hendricks, the Raiders Hall of Famer from the University of Miami, once called Shula ‘the most honest man in the U.S.’
“Honesty. That’s one word often attached to Don Shula.
“Perseverant. That’s another.
“ ‘If a nuclear bomb is dropped, the only things I’m certain will survive are AstroTurf and Don Shula,’ defensive end Bubba Smith said.
“Integrity. That’s a third.
“After victory No. 325, many wondered why Shula wasn’t given a Gatorade bath. The answer can be traced to the 1973 Super Bowl, the one that would complete perfection. That’s when Shula was asked how he’d want to be remembered.
“ ‘Didn’t lie to anyone, didn’t screw anybody, traveled first class,’ Shula told Pope.
“Shula wasn’t defining first class as the front of the aircraft. He meant with dignity. So after that win in Philadelphia, ‘We looked at the Gatorade and said, ‘You know, we need to do a classy thing,’’ guard Keith Sims said.
“Sims and two other linemen carried Shula across the field on their shoulders, replicating his Super Bowl victory ride in Los Angeles, which had produced what is likely the defining photograph of his career.
“Old-school style, old-school perfect.
“Even the Eagles fans gave Shula a standing ovation.
“They had to.
“Don Shula had become the best ever.”
Sam Farmer, Mike Kupper / L.A. Times
“As dedicated as he was to football, Shula early on ventured into business and expanded his interests until he had a national chain of steakhouses as well as a hotel-golf club resort and an athletic club in the Miami area. He also was active in numerous charities and set up the Don Shula Foundation to raise money for breast cancer research* and helped finance a $1-million chair in the Philosophy Department at his alma mater, John Carroll.”
*Ed. Shula’s first wife, Dorothy, died of breast cancer.
“The picture of Miami cool in his impeccable hair and smoked sunglasses, Shula had fame that transcended football, even when he was out of step with pop culture. He had a cameo in the comedy ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,’ but years later acknowledged that he never saw the movie.
“And in 1985, at the height of ‘Miami Vice,’ one of the stars of that TV series dropped by the Dolphins locker room after a victory. The celebrity was introduced to the coach as ‘Don Johnson of ‘Miami Vice.’’
“Stu Weinstein, the team’s longtime security chief, recalled in an interview with the Associated Press: ‘Coach Shula says, ‘Yeah, Don, you guys do a great job. Keep up the good work.’’
“In a testament to the all-consuming world of the NFL, Shula thought Johnson was an actual Miami police officer.”
One final anecdote…from Matt Crossman of the Washington Post:
“In 2013, President Barack Obama invited the surviving members of the ’72 Dolphins to the Oval Office to celebrate their accomplishment. Obama acknowledged that he had once called the 1985 Chicago Bears the greatest NFL team ever – a widely held, but by no means unanimous, opinion. The Bears and the 1984 San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl to finish 18-1.
“ ‘The Bears lost once in their nearly perfect season,’ Obama said.
“Interrupting the president, Mr. Shula said, ‘Who beat them?’
“He knew full well that the Bears’ sole loss was to his Miami Dolphins.”
“The Last Dance,” continued….
Episode 5, Sunday, was largely about Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Bryant explained the origin of his relationship with Jordan, which started at the 1998 All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
“I had a question about shooting his turnaround shot so I asked him about it, and he gave me a great detailed answer, but on top of that, he said, if you ever need anything, give me a call. Like my brother,” Bryant said in The Last Dance. “I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one, and your fans saying, ‘Hey Kobe, you’d beat Michael one-on-one.’ I feel like, ‘Yoh, what you get from me is from him.’ I don’t get five championships here (with the Lakers) without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”
Jordan was generous in his eulogy of Kobe at the Staples Center Feb. 24.
“Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends,” he said. “But we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always liked to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”
That little brother, Jordan said, was “a nuisance – if I can say that word – but that nuisance turned into love over a period of time. …
“He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork and sometimes, the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know….
“As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be,” Jordan continued.
Jeff Zillgitt / USA TODAY
“Michael Jordan gambled on the team plane – didn’t matter if it was big-money games in the back of the plane or $1 a hand blackjack in the front of the plane – he gambled on silly concocted games with arena security, he gambled on the golf course and he gambled at casinos.
“Jordan’s predilection for wagering big or small featured prominently in Episode 6…
“The spotlight on Jordan’s gambling began to grow and blew up during the 1993 playoffs when the Chicago Bulls played the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Trailing the Knicks 1-0, Jordan went to an Atlantic City casino, and it was reported he was spotted at the casino as late as 2:30 a.m. with a game to be played about 18 hours later at Madison Square Garden.
“The New York Times lectured Jordan about his late-night/early-morning excursion: ‘Jordan’s time might have been better spent resting for the second game of the Eastern Conference final between the Bulls and the Knicks.’
“The Bulls lost Game 2, falling behind 2-0 in the series. Jordan explained his casino trip: ‘My father said ‘Let’s get away from New York City. Let’s you and I go to Atlantic City.’ We got a limo and went and gambled for a couple of hours and came back. Everybody went totally ballistic – ‘He was in the casino last night.’ It wasn’t late. We got home by 12:30, one o’clock.’
“The Bulls won Game 3 and Jordan scored 54 points in Chicago’s Game 4 victory. The Bulls also won the next two games to reach the Finals.
“But it’s clear Jordan became frustrated with the focus on his gambling and said he didn’t have a gambling problem.
“ ‘I have a competition problem,’ he said.”
There were a ton of Jordan gambling stories.
“(And it didn’t) look good when it emerged that Jordan wrote a $57,000 check to Slim Bouler to cover a gambling debt, and a golfing acquaintance, Richard Esquinas, said Jordan owed him $1.2 million. Jordan had to testify in court where Bouler was on trial facing money laundering and drug conspiracy charges. (Jordan once skipped a White House visit to golf with Bouler, according to the documentary.)
“The league took interest and questioned Jordan. ‘I never bet on games; I only bet on myself and that was golf. …I told them exactly what was happening,’ Jordan said.
“Former NBA Commissioner David Stern told filmmakers: ‘It never reached epic crisis levels in my view.’
“But the gambling stories continued to stalk Jordan. Gambling whispers accompanied major events in Jordan’s life – the killing of his father shortly after the 1993 Finals and his decision to step away from the game before the start of the 1993-94 season.
“When Jordan’s father was killed, it was suggested by some that James Jordan’s death was payback for the son’s unpaid gambling debts.
“Jordan lashed out at those suggestions in a statement shortly after two people were arrested….
“Turns out, it was a robbery-turned-murder.
“Jordan’s first retirement in 1993 was clouded with talk that it was a gambling suspension by the NBA or that the NBA told him to take a break from playing and address his gambling.
“ ‘As far as the NBA is concerned, Michael Jordan did nothing wrong, and I resent any implications to the contrary,’ Stern said.
“It didn’t quell speculation when Jordan quipped at his retirement announcement, ‘Five years down the line, if that urge comes back, if the Bulls have me, if David Stern lets me back in the league, I may come back.’
“People read into that ‘if David Stern lets me back in the league’ and put on their conspiracy hats.”
To be continued…this particular topic…
Phil W. wanted to make sure I noted a counterpoint to the hagiography of MJ.
Mike Sielski / Philadelphia Inquirer
“What Michael Jordan has done to Jerry Krause over the last three weeks is deliberate and dishonorable. With each episode of The Last Dance…it becomes harder to separate the entertainment and nostalgic value of the series from Jordan’s agenda, from his desire to preserve his legacy, settle scores, and rub his status and greatness in the faces of his real and perceived rivals – one, in particular.
“Krause – the Bulls’ general manager for 18 years, including the eight-year period when they won six NBA championships – has served a convenient function throughout The Last Dance. He has been the series’ primary source of narrative tension, and he has been Jordan’s punching bag. He insisted that the Bulls needed to be rebuilt after the 1997-98 season, and he dared to suggest that he deserved more credit for the dynasty than most people, Jordan foremost among them, were willing to give him. All these years later, even after Krause’s death in 2017 and his posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Jordan apparently can’t abide that Krause – with a physique like a honey pot, with an irascible disposition, with his own opinions about how to operate an NBA team – had any role to play at all in the Bulls’ success….
“(Viewers) are served the rewarmed controversy over whether Krause said, ‘Players and coaches don’t win championships; organizations do’ or whether he said, ‘Players and coaches alone don’t win championships.’ They hear Krause in a two-decade-old TV interview stuttering to say he was misquoted, and they hear Jordan’s present-day response: ‘For him to say that is offensive to how I approached the game.’
“Well, good for you, Michael. You got in another punch after the poor kid in the schoolyard went down and would never get up again. This was never a fair fight even when Krause was alive. Jordan was always going to get the benefit of the doubt from the public and the basketball community. Just look at the two of them. Jordan was smart and sharp and handsome, the best basketball player ever, the wealthiest and most powerful athlete ever, and Krause was always the easiest of targets: defensive, insecure, overweight, his shirts always sprinkled with a fine white powder that was doughnut sugar, dandruff, or a mixture of both.”
Well, I’ve been a little uncomfortable at some of the shots Jordan took at Krause, but I see how Krause treated some of the players, like Pippen and his contract, and I’m just going to bite my tongue, because I have a definite opinion on Krause but then I’d be acting like Jordan, and on this topic, I don’t want to be like Mike.
--We have a cool ‘live’ golf matchup suddenly slated for Sunday, May 17. A charity two-team event benefiting Covid-19 relief efforts, pitting Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff.
To many of us golf fans, the best part of it is the event is being played at one of the nation’s best, Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.
I for one have never seen Seminole, a Donald Ross classic, and for that reason alone this should be fun.
It will be shown on NBC, Golf Channel and other outlets.
--Tiger Woods had an interesting response to a question by a fan on Golf TV…what he would tell his younger self. “Not to run so much.” It was Tiger’s biggest regret.
“Running over 30 miles a week for probably my first five, six years on Tour pretty much destroyed my body and my knees,” Woods said.
Four back and five knee surgeries later, Tiger looks back and he has a point.
Of course, everyone was hoping he would say his personal life unraveling in 2009.
--Brad K. passed on this disturbing story from Alker, La., via the Associated Press:
“Police are searching for an ‘aggressive chicken’ accused of engaging in fowl play at a Louisiana bank.
“The Walker Police Department responded to a complaint about the brazen animal Friday, the agency said in a social media post over the weekend.
“Witnesses told police the chicken had been spotted at the bank multiple times last week, approaching patrons at the ATM, chasing customers and even attempting to climb into cars in the drive-thru, according to the department’s post.
“Officials said officers responded to the bank within minutes of the call, but found the pesky poultry had already escaped.
“The suspect remains on the loose and police advised residents to avoid confronting the animal and instead call for help.”
Desperate times require desperate measures. Brad notes the lack of social distancing. Police haven’t commented on a report the chicken got upset when customers called him out for not wearing a mask.
--And we now have details on the fatal alligator attack on Kiawah Island, S.C., the other day. Dr. W. passed on a piece from the Charleston Post and Courier.
“A woman who was killed by an alligator on Kiawah Island on Friday ignored repeated warnings by her friend to not get close to the carnivorous reptile, according to an incident report released Monday.
“Cynthia C. (Ed. I’m protecting her last name), a 58-year-old Johns Island resident, died in the attack near Salt Cedar Lane, authorities said. An autopsy determined that (she) drowned and the death was ruled accidental, according to Charleston County Coroner Rae H. Wooten.*
“According to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office incident report, deputies spoke with a witness who said she was (Ms. C’s) friend.
“(The victim) saw an alligator in a pond behind her friend’s home on Salt Cedar Lane and wanted to get closer, the report said. The friend told deputies that (she) was on the back steps of her home and eventually moved down toward the pond. ‘(She) kept yelling for her friend to get away and saw her friend was about four feet from the edge of the water when the big alligator came up and attacked her friend,’ the report said.
“The friend’s husband grabbed a shovel while (Ms. C’s) friend called 911, the report said. The husband tried to hit the alligator in a bid to make it release (the victim) but those efforts were not successful.
“The alligator dragged (the victim) under the water, the report said. ‘She stated her friend never screamed,’ the report said.
“At the scene, deputies saw the alligator and (Ms. C.) surface briefly before going under again, the report said. When the alligator resurfaced, a deputy opened fire, hitting the reptile four times, the report said.
“Firefighters then were able to pull (the victim) back to land, but she was unresponsive and declared dead.”
*Needless to say, Dr. W. and I agree that it is beyond outrageous that the coroner ruled the cause of death was drowning and it was “accidental.” Reminds one of Mayor Larry Vaughn in “Jaws.” Wouldn’t want to ruin tourism, as well as home values, on Kiawah Island now, would we.
--Johnny Mac, aka lover of the ponies like moi, reminded me to catch the two legs of the Arkansas Derby last Saturday night. These races, with the Kentucky Derby postponed, were showcases for some of the 3-year-olds that were to have run for the roses, and whaddya know, Bob Baffert has another two Super Horses.
The two divisions (two because so many were looking for an outlet with the postponement at Churchill Downs) were won by Baffert’s Charlatan and Nadal, Charlatan particularly impressive.
But now, as Baffert said in the Derby coverage with NBC Saturday, his job is to somehow keep his horses in top shape until the Triple Crown races begin, perhaps starting with The Belmont in June. It won’t be easy at all.
When we get to that point, though, I will put together a little pool for you loyal readers…the chance to win $5 and immortality! [Because these columns will be in the ether forever.]
Hey, don’t laugh. $5 these days can get you five cans of soup at Dollar Tree, which is what I do weekly. [Or five tubes of toothpaste…because even under a mask, people can smell your breath.]
--Finally, I hope the kid who pushed the Austin, Texas, park ranger into the water yesterday after the ranger confronted a group of kids for not wearing a mask rots in hell.
Longtime readers of this site know I love Park Rangers more than any other people in the country (until the pandemic…they now share the love with others…). They make zero money, have to clean toilets, try to maintain the trails while working with reduced budgets, yet they love their jobs. And they do it amazingly well.
But so many Americans are such assholes.
Believe me, I’m going to have far more to say on this topic, and worse, in my next WIR, the column I sign. [Think Flint, Mich.]
Top 3 songs for the week 5/8/76: #1 “Welcome Back” (John Sebastian…loved “Welcome Back Kotter”…) #2 “Right Back Where We Started From” (Maxine Nightingale) #3 “Boogie Fever” (Sylvers…hideous…)…and…#4 “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” (Elvin Bishop…in my top three all time….though after 21 years, thinking of changing this…) #5 “Silly Love Songs” (Wings…not their best…) #6 “Show Me The Way” (Peter Frampton…great tune…) #7 “Love Hangover” (Diana Ross…not bad, for this genre…) #8 “Get Up And Boogie (That’s Right)” (Silver Convention…see #3…) #9 “Let Your Love Flow” (Bellamy Brothers) #10 “Disco Lady” (Johnny Taylor… ‘C’ week…high school winding up…editor going to be on the campus of Wake Forest in about 3 ½ months…little did I know what was going to happen…like 1,100 of my 1,768 major lifetime mistakes would be committed there over four years….a full-blown “Mistake Pandemic”!...)
PGA Tour Quiz Answers: 1) Dan Pohl was the longest driver in 1980 and 1981 at 274.3 and 280.1 yards, respectively. 2) John Daly won 11 titles in all from 1991-2002, interrupted only in 1994 by Davis Love III. Daly peaked in 2002 at 306.8. He was the first to average 300 (302.0) in 1997. 3) Since 2005, Bubba Watson has been longest driver five times.
Dan Pohl only won twice on the PGA Tour, but he was a very solid golfer, with three top 3s in majors, including the 1982 Masters, when he lost in a playoff to Craig Stadler.
I can’t believe it’s been 38 years since Stadler won! Seriously, seems like yesterday. Stadler had 13 PGA Tour titles, but in the other three majors, never had a top five. I wouldn’t have guessed that.
Cameron Champ was the longest driver on tour for 2019, by the way. Rory McIlroy was in 2017-2018. Dustin Johnson has just one title, 2015.
Hank Kuehne’s 321.4 average in 2003 is the longest average ever. But he’s never won a PGA Tour event, with two T-2s.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.