Leland Stein III

Sports Zone honors achievers

In sports column on October 14, 2018 at 1:41 am

 

gilber brown

Gilbert “Gravedigger” Brown was the anchor in the middle of the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning D Line.

By Leland Stein III

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Leland Stein III

DETROIT, Mi. – The Detroit Sports Zone recently hosted its Seventh Annual High School Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony at Bert’s Market Place Theater.

In a one-on-one interview I implemented with NFL Hall of Fame legend, Jim Brown, he told me that “we have to tell our own stories.” That is exactly what the Detroit Sports Zone organizers are striving to accomplish.

“Our music and sports histories are very important,” said Detroit Sports Zone board member, Michael Price. “Never before has All-City, All-Metro, All-State, or All-American sports legends from Detroit Public Schools been honored for their athletic and academic accomplishments, and, their productivity as citizens in Detroit, or across the globe. We are also honoring men and women so the youth can see them and maybe even emulate their efforts.”

Continuing with Price’s assertion, it is important for the young people to see others that have lived in their neighborhoods, went to their schools and fought through some of the same constraints/problems many of our youth endure still today.

Urban cities throughout America continues to yield young men and women that negotiated the negatives of their environments and uplift themselves via athletics. The 2018 Class continues this aim as it is a diverse conglomeration of achievers and educators.

The 2018 honored awardees were: 

Gilbert Brown graduated from Detroit Mackenzie High and University of Kansas. He was All-State at Mackenzie and All-Academic while at Kansas. He has been placed in the Kansas’ Ring of Honor and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Brown played nine years with the Packers and in 1996, he started all 16 games next to Santana Dotson, Sean Jones and Reggie White, a defensive unit that allowed a league record low 19 touchdowns and went on to win Super Bowl XXXI. 

“I used football to go to college,” Brown told me after the induction ceremony. “Never thought it would go this far, playing in Green Bay alongside Reggie White, winning the Super Bowl, and now getting honored at home is very special indeed. My family, coaches and friends are all here.”

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NBA star and coach Johnny Davis.

Johnny Davis prepped at Detroit Murray-Wright High and University of Dayton. He was a high school All-State and All-American. He continued his stellar play at Dayton making the U.S.A. Men’s Basketball team and helping it earn a Pan American Games gold medal. Playing 10-years in the NBA, his stellar moment came in 1977 with Portland winning the valued NBA championship. Later be became the first and only Detroit Public School League alumni to become a head coach in the NBA – he led three NBA teams. 

“I grew up in the Brewster Projects and played in the PSL,” Davis recalled after leaving the stage. “Words cannot describe how I feel about being home and getting recognized by the Detroit Sports Zone. Ever since I left for college, played in a number of cities in the NBA, and, coached on even more NBA teams, no matter my travels, Detroit was and is still my home.” 

Markita Aldridge, a 1991 Detroit Martin Luther King High All-State, All-American basketball star led her school to a Michigan Class A State title. She was also named Miss Basketball in the State of Michigan. She also starred at UNC-Charlotte. Played in the WNBA and overseas. She has her own foundation and is the mother of two boys 

Jim Bibbs, an Ecorse High and Wayne State MA graduate, and high school track star, who tied a Jesses Owens world record in the 60-yard dash (1951) while at Eastern Michigan University. Transferring his history and knowledge to Michigan State University he became the first black head track coach in the Big Ten (1975-1995).  He has coached 26 All-Americans, 52 Big Ten Champions, been named to three track Hall of Fames and was A. Phillip Randolph Institute Unsung Hero Awardee. 

“I remember the days of the Black Bottom and Black Experience in Detroit,” Bibbs told me, “so, these Detroiters getting together to honor and recognize their own, makes this even more special for me, and, reminds me of how we had to do for ourselves.” 

David “Smokey” Gaines came out of Detroit Public Schools (Miller and Northeastern High) and continued his education at LeMoyne-Owens College (BS) and Eastern Michigan (MA). The All-City basketball star left college amid the segregation era and found solace with the Harlem Globetrotters (1963-67). From there, among many endeavors, Gaines started his career passion coaching. In particular he became assistant coach at University of Detroit (1973-77) and head coach (1977-79). From there Gaines piloted San Diego State University as head coach (1979-87) and as Assistant Athletic Director (1987-89). He eventually went back to become Athletic Director and head coach at LeMoyne-Owens (2005). 

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Thomas Hearns.

Thomas “Hitman” Hearns prepped in Detroit schools and rose in the Sweet Science under the tutelage of legendary Detroit Kronk trainer, Emanuel Steward. Hearns became the only boxer to win five world titles in five divisions; he also, was the first to hoist eight world titles in six weight classes. He was selected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Sammy Gee is a graduate of the legendary Detroit Miller High School where he earned All-City honors in football, basketball and baseball. He was not doubt one of the greatest all-around athletes to come out of the city. Gee played with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters for eight years, played Negro League Baseball with the New York Cubans, as well as, with the Brooklyn Dodgers Canadian American League Farm Team. 

George Perles went to Detroit Western High and to Michigan State University. The United States Army veteran came back tot the city to coach St Ambrose tot the Detroit City Leagues title. He then became defensive line coach at Michigan State for 12-years. He parlayed that endeavor into a defensive coordinator position with the Pittsburg Steelers from 1972-82, and, with it came four Super Bowl championships. He left the Steelers to become head coach at Michigan State (1982-94) winning two Big Ten titles and one Rose Bowl. 

Ronnie Phillips prepped at Detroit Denby High and continued on to the University of Illinois. Phillips was an All-City and All-State runner at 880-yards, one mile run and cross-country. At Illinois he became an All-American and All-Big Ten, setting the conference record at the 800-meters that lasted from 1972-82. He went on to become noteworthy educator in Detroit, rising up as a counselor, department head and principal. 

Dr. Robert Sims graduated from Detroit Western High as an exceptional basketball player, he went on to get a BS from Eastern Michigan, an MS from New York University and later earned his D.O. for Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. He was very successful in private practice medicine and surgery for almost 30-years. Yet, he still gave his valuable time to give Detroit Schools athletic teams physical examinations. He was selected to the Eastern Michigan Hall of Fame basketball/track. 

Not only were the “Terrific Ten” acknowledged and feted, the Detroit Sports Zone awarded four scholarships to present and former city students. 

The Detroit Sports Zone’s history is featured prominently on www.detroitsportszone.org, and, it showcases the history makers and features video history with present and past inductees.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and at Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Blue Lives Matter founder says NFL Players’ protest are fake

In sports column on August 24, 2018 at 1:25 am
Miami Dolphins v New York Jets

New York Jets team and owner lock arms during National Anthem.

 By Leland Stein III

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Leland Stein

A friend sent me an article on Yahoo.com where a group has bastardized Black Lives Matter movement into Blue Lives Matter.

First, I want to say I have too many friends and family that have been in or are now in the military or on the police force. My grandfather fought in World War II, uncles and cousins in Vietnam and Korea. Many more are policemen so I truly respect and appreciate their sacrifice for this country.

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Of course, Blue Lives Matter, Yellow Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter . . . All Lives Matter. What sane person can question that intent; however, when a group uses divisiveness and untruths as a basis for its meaning – it only drives a giant wedge between groups instead of building bridges.

The complete inability of Americans to listen to, respect, receive, regard or take note of any opinion other than their own is disconcerting and troubling. That’s what I take from the Blue Lives Matter founder’s words.

Hey, I have twin grandsons that are four-years-old and I at one point thought we were really leaving the world a better place for their dreams, goals and aspirations. But when I see the complete discord and inharmoniousness people are displaying I have to wonder where we are headed.

Our First Amendment gives all the right of free speech; however, with that we all have to understand freedom is not free. It comes with a responsibility of respectful discourse and being able to listen to others that may have different opinions.

Also, what has happened to facts. Two plus two equals four, the sun raises in the East, airplanes use fuel and grits and butter are made for each other – facts. Yet, in this getting stranger everyday universe “alternative facts” have creeped into today’s lexicon.

Look no further than this article in Yahoo.com where the founder of a proposed pro-police organization blasted NFL player protests and turned down a partnership offer from the New York Jets.

Blue Lives Matter NYC recently was approached by the Jets about a partnership. Instead of using the opportunity to uplift the men in blue and enter dialogue with the predominately African-American players the founder, Joe Imperatrice, jumped on the Trump train and made it all about the NFL players. He uses his Blue Lives Matter platform to regurgitates every stereotype and typecast he can to denigrate those Black men trying to make the world a better place for all.

He issued a vile email that marginalize minority Americans’ very real concerns and apprehensions relating to sometimes excessive and one-sided interactions with a “very small percentage” of police.

In spite of the fact many veterans and some police have rallied around the players right to First Amendment non-violent protest, the divisive rhetoric seeded by Trump has grown into its own tree. 

Via emails shared with The New York Post, Blue Lives Matter founder wrote:

“Although I’d love to work with an NFL team right now I feel it is not the right time. All over the United States players feel entitled to disrespect our first responders, our military members both past and present and our flag. These players make more money in a season than some people make in a lifetime and their ‘Issues’ are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.”

He continued: “Once again I do appreciate the offer but revenue we have could better be spent on the families of officers killed in the line of duty protecting the ignorance of these individuals rather than contributing to their paycheck.”

Blue Lives Matter founder in July, appeared on a Fox News segment blaming the media for a war on cops saying: “Just like Donald Trump gets beat up every day, so does law enforcement.”

Wow! Just another so sorry example of someone not listening to his fellow man, instead he went for the same-old tired and fatigued racial juggernaut, claiming the NFL players’ protests are fake and over exaggerated . . . what? In other words, African-American issues are not worth his time of day. Just like our president, he simply ignored and refused to address the players’ real intent, instead pandering to a segment of Americans who gleefully bury the real and only reason for player protest under an avalanche of falsehoods and created disrespects.

Instead of even acknowledging some real issues, the Blue Lives Matter leader jumped on the men’s salary (what the heck does that have to do with anything?); replayed this anti-military, anti-first responders, anti-flag, anti-country “fake” disrespect thing. The final nail in the coffin was him suggesting the protesting players were ignorant (most of these men spent at least three years in college).

Why am I even surprised? This man is the same person who defended in a 2017 Fox News segment the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy that gave officers authority to detain and search pedestrians using their judgment of “reasonable suspicion.” Here are the facts: a report uncovered that 84 percent of the people stopped and frisked in New York were black or Hispanic while 10 percent were white.

It appears that some of our white brethren just will not listen or acknowledge that there are a small number of officers that do not always do the right thing. How has this fact turned into a condemnation of all officers?

In this free-flowing society teachers, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, garbage men, sports owners etc. al have made mistakes or taken a wrong turn. This is a fact. So why will Americans not admit that a few of our men in blue make mistakes too?

To all our brothers and sisters in this life, once again: the NFL players never, ever attacked the military, men or women in blue, the flag or first responders (wow, that was a new addition in this discourse – the first time I’ve heard someone accuse the players of hating on first-responders).

Blue Lives Matter founder went so far as to claim the players’ “issues are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.” To answer that lie about “made up,” during the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, Randy Moss, wore a tie with the names 10 black people who somewhat recently were unjustly killed by police or died after being taken into custody. He noted that he received hate mail after he used his platform to raise awareness of some very real issues in the Black community.

In America non-violent protest has been its bedrock, yet when a few black men do it, it has morphed into a national crisis and upheaval.

The crisis is not people engaging in non-violent demonstration, it is seeing injustice to our fellow Americans and ignoring it, and, co-opting the significance of a protest and turning a positive message and intent into something negative.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII

Terrell Owens always the Diva . . .

In sports column on August 10, 2018 at 10:10 pm

 

terrele owens yellow jacket By Leland Stein III

Leland Stein III

I am not surprised that Terrell Owens became the first NFL Hall of Famer to skip the Canton, Ohio induction ceremonies. Instead he staged his own celebration with a speech on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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The 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Class enjoy each other’s company.

What this solidifies in my mind is that Owens is simply an attention seeking confused man. Much like Kanye West and others, Owens takes-action with the thought that people will have to address him, he simply cannot comprehend the long-term reality or negative repercussions or aftermaths of his choices.

Some of my peers wondered aloud whether Owens’ stance would distract from an awesome 2018 Hall of Fame Class. Well, after watching the event and listening to the noteworthy orations by the 2018 inductees, I am glad to report Owens’ absence did nothing to distract from the positive aura surrounding this group. 

With Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, and, Owens and Brian Dawkins joining them, it became one of the youngest enshrined groups in history. Those five players were joined by longtime personnel executive Bobby Beathard (contributor) and seniors committee nominees Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile for enshrinement.

Looking and listening to this amazing assemblage of gridiron legends, there was absolutely no way Owens stole their collective shine.

With Lewis a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl MVP in his career as a Baltimore Ravens linebacker. There is Moss, who is second all-time in touchdown receptions with 156 and had eight 1,200-yard seasons in his career. Urlacher was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.

Then there is Owens, who ranks eighth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,935) and third in receiving touchdowns (153).

Owens was in just his third year of eligibility. Dawkins was in his second year of eligibility.

Because Diva Owens did not go into the Hall in his first year, he regressed into I’m a big baby mode and called the Hall of Fame, “Hall of Shame.”

Predictably the voters shunned Owens in his second year and he took the discourse up another level, threatening to skip the enshrinement, which he eventually did.

Sure, Owens had a point for maybe being a first ballot Hall of Famer; however, what he is missing is that in this life being right sometimes comes with patience and placidity. He simply does not have the skills of compromise or conciliation, which are some of our most important gifts in making our interaction with humanity smoother.

Like in a marriage or on a job or coaching or teaching or raising children, the ability to make a defined statement or point without an acrimonious or rancorous retort toward anyone that may have a differing opinion or thought than oneself . . . is a quintessential life skill – Owens seems to not have.

How many of us have had to cajole our wife to please marry me or push their kids to put a better effort into their school work or push one’s boss to honestly give he or she a fair shot at a promotion or push your coaches to let them know you are ready to be a starter? These things do not always happen on one’s first try, yet we keep at it.

I have covered three NFL Hall of Fame events in Canton, and I can clearly say that the four or five-day event is beyond special. Owens in his myopic vision of right and wrong missed a chance to fellowship with other legends that already have the Yellow Jacket (Jim Brown, Franco Harris, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, etc. al.), break bread at the Hall dinner, the presentation of the Yellow Jackets event, his teams he played for hosting and celebrating his enshrinement, and finally the day of one’s speech where coaches, teammates, family and fans come to Canton stadium to honor and rejoice a career.

In Owens’ self-serving speech in Tennessee, he tried to frame his stance as helping others that may follow him in the Hall. “I am against sportswriters who are not in alignment with the mission of the Hall of Fame core values,” he told reporters. “I am helping the next guy.”

Sorry Owens, in a time when your fellow athletes are putting their careers on the line to bring attention to injustices in the courts and with law enforcement, his trying to help other does not measure up.

Who is Owens helping? I project the .0001% of America’s population will be in a position to become first ballot Hall of Fame inductees. So, his helping people claim is basically counterfeit. 

What Owens did against the Hall only serve himself. He seems to not have the ability to correct himself when, like all of us who make mistakes do, he just insulates himself, does not take personal ownership and creates a they are against me aura.

That is hard to project when Owens himself alienated so many with his over the top end zone celebrations; being the father of two daughters and two sons, by four different mothers; his off and on the field antics; having to pay $45,000 per baby mama for child support; having allegedly tried to kill himself by intentionally ingesting an overdose of hydrocodone, a pain medication; and spitting in the face of a fellow athlete.

Owens was a superior athlete, but his on and off the field antics caused pause by the voters. He just does not understand that life is not a horizontal line ray, but a circular geometry line that is interconnected. What one does over here does not disappear into no-man’s land, it remains. Our actions throughout life connect us like a DNA life-link chain.

Owens is an exceptional athlete who played basketball, football, and ran track in college. Surely, he is worthy of his Hall of Fame induction, but this man is stuck in the you wronged me zone and that has costed him an amazing weekend that only happens once.

If you asked your wife to marry you three times and she finally says yes, do you boycott her? When you push your children to try harder in class and it takes five to twenty times to get that message through do you kick them out the house?

Owens once again fell prey to his self-serving demons and boycotted an event that was meant for him to give honor to his coaches, family, teammates and life. This brother is his own worst enemy and simply cannot humble himself for others.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII