Monday, March 23, 2009

THE KENTUCKY BASKETBALL EXPERIENCE

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
LEXINGTON, KY—As I watched FAU basketball media relations director Nick Mirkovich look at the numerous banners and listen to the passionate crowd of 24,018 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY, during FAU’s Dec 27 meeting against the Kentucky Wildcats, it was easy to tell by his body language that he was in awe about what he was experiencing.
After the game UK media relations Director DeWayne Peevy had a packed house in the media center with press conferences from FAU’s Mike Jarvis and Kentucky’s Billy Gillispie along with several players.
What Mirkovich would find out was “Kentucky Basketball” is more than a sporting event, it’s a way of life. In 104 seasons, UK’s record going into this year was 1,966 - 621 - 1.
When I asked Mirkovich if he had ever heard of former Wildcats coach Joe B. Hall, he politely said no. Hall was the coach who followed Adolph Rupp. Rupp coached the Wildcats from 1931-1972 and in 42 seasons compiled an 876-190 record for an .822 winning percentage and four national championships.
Instead of being overwhelmed following a legend, Hall embraced the challenge and adding a legacy of his own. Hall guided the Wildcats from 1973-85 and compiled a 297-100 mark, 748 winning percentage and one national title. A few of the players on his championship team include Jack Givens, Kyle Macy, and Rick Robey. Florida State University head basketball coach Leonard Hamilton was an assistant coach for the Wildcats. Kentucky was 30-2 during the 1977-78 season and broke a 20-year championship drought.
Hall’s name hangs in the rafters at Rupp Arena and he is a beloved figure as fans take photos with him. He is very accessible to all media especially out of town writers because he relishes the opportunity to promote UK’s program nationally.
During half-time of Kentucky’s 76-69 win over FAU, Hall took the time in this Observer interview to explain what it’s like to be a part of college basketball’s all-time winningest program which has won seven national titles.
Q: How do you describe Kentucky basketball?
A: It’s a long history of love for the game that started in the mountains of Kentucky. A team from Ashland won the 1928 national tournament and that sparked a great interest in basketball and then Coach Rupp came to Kentucky in 1930, won some conference championships, then took New York by storm winning three national championships in a four-year span. It took a very early place in the fans of Kentucky and a source of pride for the excellence that their players performed at and it grew into being a passion for the sport of the Bluegrass. It has continued to grow with success and the fans are constant as you can tell. What is a Saturday night during Christmas and New Years, the fans are packed and that’s with the students gone? That means a lot of non ticket holders have an opportunity to buy tickets. It’s a great thing and something the people of Kentucky can point at with pride. It’s a sustaining type of experience for those residents of the state.
Q: What’s it like to lead your basketball team in front of 24,000 coaches in the stands watching every move you make?
A: For one thing, they insist on perfection. They want a winner and they’re going to support you winner or not but they’re going to express their disdain if you’re not producing the way Kentucky should produce. That’s good. Their expectations are very high and that carries over to the coaches and players. There aren’t many programs that can say they have four different coaches that have won national championships. Rick (Pitino) and Tubby (Smith) did when they followed me and that speaks well of the fans here and the support that the program gets.
Q: What was it like for you to follow Rupp?
A: It’s inexpressible! I don’t think I can describe it in words as to what it was like to inherit this program that was at such a peak. The good part about it was Coach Rupp built the foundation on solid stone. He left a tradition wasn’t that difficult to continue. I appreciated the opportunity I had to be in his footsteps and take advantage of all that support here at Kentucky. Being the winningest program in college basketball means something, is a tradition we have to uphold and the fans are going to insist that it continues.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com

Sunday, March 22, 2009

TRIBUTE TO PISTONS OWNER BILL DAVIDSON

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
It is hard to believe that a week has passed in the Detroit area and Friday, March 13th, 2009, will go down as the day Detroit Pistons Owner Bill Davidson died at the age 86.
During that time, I've read numerous tributes back in my hometown about Davidson's legacy and now it's time to post one of my own. There wouldn't be enough words to describe what a shrewd business man Davidson was. So we'll let statistics take over.
In 1974, Davidson purchased the franchise for $7 million and now it's worth more than $500 million. He took a franchise that played in the 12,191 seat Cobo Arena from 1961-78 and moved it to the suburban Pontiac Silverdome. While at Cobo Arena, the Pistons top average attendance reached 7,492 totaling 307,180 in 1974-75.
The move to the Silverdome was a work in progress but it lasted until the 1987-88 season. By the Pistons final season, their numbers climbed from an average of 9,510 for a total of 389,936 in 1978-79 to 26,012 and became the first team in NBA history to draw a million fans as 1,065,505 drove up I-75, M-59 and Opdyke Rd to watch the beginning of the Bad Boys era led by star Isiah Thomas, who played with the team 13 seasons. Detroit led the NBA in attendance in five seasons.
On January 29, 1988, the Pistons and Boston Celtics drew 61,983. with the curtain open at this football stadium. On Feb 21, 1987, 52,745 watched the Atlanta Hawks face the Detroiters. During the NBA Finals on June 12, 1988, Magic Johnson's, LA Lakers played in front of 39,188.
These numbers are a far cry from the days at Cobo Arena. More importantly, Davidson's vision would lay out the groundwork for a team which transformed itself from an NBA laughingstock to a power house.
When a March 4, 1985 snowstorm caused structural damage to the Silverdome roof and forced the Pistons to play home games at the Joe Louis Arena in the 1985 playoffs, Davidson would focus his attention on finding his franchise a permanent home at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He privately funded this arena and the first five seasons the team recorded sellouts of 21,454. The Pistons have led the NBA in attendance five of the last six seasons and their capacity has increased to 22,076.
But the transformation has been more than just attendance. Here is a franchise that built it's own practice facility and was the first to fly in it's own private airplane. I've been to many stadiums around the USA and the Palace is one of the nicest venues in the country. He even created the idea and used the Palace to invite fans watch NBA Finals Road Games on the stadium big screen scoreboards charging low admissions realizing the team would make money on souvenirs and concessions. Other teams in college and the pros would follow suit.
When the Pistons traded future Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley, he said the thing he would miss was that private plane. But Dantley, who was traded by the Utah Jazz for Kelly Tripuka, was a player that had an image as one of the best scorers in NBA history and turned into a role player that just wanted to win a championship but came up short against the LA Lakers in the 1988 Finals.
Dantley would be traded to the on Feb 15, 1989 to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aquirre. But he'll be known for a collision with Vinnie Johnson in an Eastern Conference Final Series which Detroit lost at the Boston Garden to the Celtics in 1986-87. To date, he remains bitter and blames Thomas for the trade that brought his friend Aguirre to the Pistons preventing him from wearing a championship ring.
Going into the 2008-2009 season, the Pistons all-time regular season record was 2,048-2,061 for a . 498 winning percentage. In the playoffs, Detroit is 171-143 for a percentage of . 545. Davidson has three titles for the Pistons, three for the Detroit Shock and one with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. The Lightning were a real mess before Davidson revived that franchise. Seven championships for three major league teams.
Forbes magazine had Davidson ranked as one of the richest people in Michigan with his flagship company Guardian Industries, Palace Sports & Entertainment comprising The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre (formerly Pine Knob) .
While cities and pro franchises have arenas named after corporate sponsors to generate additional revenue, the billionaire philanthropist hasn't seen the need to go this route. Davidson didn't charge media members for meals and parking like other team's do. He's made millionaires out of many people and donated millions to many charities.
His first coach Dick Vitale got fired 12 games during the 1979-80 season with a career mark in Detroit of 34-60. Vitale moved on to ESPN where he was an original college basketball analyst and both he and Davidson were inducted together into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September. I can just imagine the dialogue between the two in Springfield, Mass.
Davidson joined former Coach Chuck Daly, Current President of Basketball Operations & former Guard Joe Dumars, Thomas and Dantley in the Hall of Fame.
His most controversial firing was Larry Brown, whom he gave $5 million to leave when he was a distraction while considering other jobs while he was employed by Detroit.
When my colleague George Eichorn of the Detroit Monitor and Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association asked me to submit my thoughts for both media outlets, I jumped at that chance.
Here is what I wrote “I'm deeply saddened by the loss of Bill Davidson. I'll always remember sitting at press row at the Palace as Mr. Davidson would pass by, we'd exchange greetings and he'd always ask me how I was doing, then we shook hands. I feel privileged to have covered the Pistons the past 20 years and that my name has been in their Media Guide for years so it will always be proof that I was associated with a class act like Mr. Davidson. If there are disadvantages about covering a Pistons Road game, it's not being around the members of the media that I embrace as colleagues, the Pistons staff and of course seeing Mr. Davidson.”
As I learned of the funeral arrangements and saw that over 1,500 packed Congregation Shaarey Zedek, in Southfield, MI., it was nice to find out that he would be buried at Clover Hill Park Cemetery, in Birmingham.
These are the same grounds where my current family members are in peace. They include both sets of grandparents beginning with Sidney & Sophie Morganroth, Sidney & Dorothy Caplan, Great Grandparents Morris & Celia Kroll, a close cousin & adopted brother Terry Kroll, Step Grandfather Sidney Jacobs and an Uncle Larry Leshman.
I hope it takes many years before my parents, along with my Aunt Judy and her husband Bob Strohl, wind up in Clover Hill, while my situation could hinge upon a potential significant other. If I do end up in Clover Hill, it should be near or next to Terry Kroll because he used to live in Southern California and attend LA Lakers games regularly. It would be neat if I had the chance in heaven to introduce Terry and Mr. Davidson.
But one thing is for certain, when I return to Clover Hill Park Cemetery for a visit, I won't have to go through the Pistons Public Relations Department to pay my own personal tribute to Mr. Davidson. All I'll have to do is just go by the Clover Hill Park Directory and just look for his name. Then I can say "thanks for everything! I'll miss seeing you at the games, will always think about you realizing our paths will eventually cross again."
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I-75 ADVENTURE

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
DETROIT-As I drove to Ford Field for the Motor City Bowl on Friday, December 26 2008, I experienced the strangest feeling.
This was the first time I’ve ever attended a Detroit sporting event as a member of the visiting media.
Leading up to the game, Owls QB Rusty Smith and many of his teammates never saw snow. They’ve never gone sledding, had a snow ball fight or built a snowman.
Four and a half hours before kickoff, I went to Clover Hill Park Cemetery in Royal Oak, MI., to visit my great grandparents, both sets of grandparents along with my close cousin Terry Kroll who died at the age of 32.
Terry’s grave along with my mother’s parents had snow up to my knees. I found myself digging to find their foot stones and got snow inside my shoes, on my socks and pants.
I told all seven people that the Motor City Bowl would be like no other event that I’ve ever covered in 29 years in the media. Ironically, on December 26, 1982, my Great Grandfather Morris Kroll (88) died and this was his 26th anniversary.
In the pre-game press conferences leading up to the game, Smith was elated to spend a White Christmas in Detroit because he had never seen snow. On this day, I could have used Smith to help me find the foot stones. Instead of throwing snowballs, Smith threw for 307 yards including two-second half touchdowns to lead the Owls to a 24-21 win over Central Michigan University (CMU) in front of 41,399 fans, a huge home field advantage for the Chippewas. Smith went on to win the Motor City Bowl MVP Award and enabled his Coach Howard Schnellenberger improve to 6-0 in Bowl Games.
FAU finished the season 7-6 and 2-0 when I wear my Orange long sleeve polo shirt, Green jeans and Beige shoes. This was the same outfit that I wore when the Owls defeated FIU 57-50 at Dolphin Stadium in November which made them bowl eligible.
At the post-game press conference, my Detroit colleague George Eichorn had a chance to meet Schnellenberger, Smith, Frantz Joseph, who was named the games most valuable lineman and running back Charles Pierre. Pierre became the first Owl to eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark.
Eichorn saw four players who should play in the NFL someday and could help the host Detroit Lions, who made league history with their imperfect 0-16 season. The last game the Lions won was a game I covered on Dec 23, 2007, when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 25-20.
But my FAU two sports in two night adventure was just beginning as the basketball team was set to play the Kentucky Wildcats 5:46 hours & 349.07 miles away in Lexington at Rupp Arena at 3 PM Saturday on Dec 27th. I was hoping for a split and that became a reality.
The football team had to wait a day later to leave Detroit because of intense fog at Metro Airport. The extra night cost the Owls $18,000 but their win over CMU was priceless exposure.
As for myself, I had tremendous challenges on I-75 because of the fog. It was so bad that I was forced to stop at a Monroe, MI rest area for a couple hours. The fog was so bad that I found myself going five miles per-hour in the fast lane and had to crawl three lanes over then finally finding the rest area exit hoping that I wouldn’t get into a rear-end collision. I stopped at 2:30 am and returned to the road at 4:30 am.
This was the last thing that I needed 48 hours before my 46th birthday on December 29, realizing I wanted to see my Baseball Hall of Fame friend Ernie Harwell.
Rupp Arena was everything I was hoping it would be. FAU was playing the all-time winningest basketball program and is the Mt Everest of college basketball. Seven national championships and an abundance names hanging from the rafters.
A loud and passionate crowd of 24,018 watched the Wildcats defeat FAU 76-69. Even though the UCLA Bruins may have more championships than U-K, have legendary Coach John Wooden, the Wildcats atmosphere still surpasses Pauley Pavilion (12,829).
But the weekend was truly unforgettable!
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com

Picture, Picture and Picture

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
If there was ever a time to have picture, picture and picture on my television it was Tuesday, March 17, 2009.
Versus had a great NHL match-up featuring the Detroit Red Wings & Philadelphia Flyers. The Red Wings won this game 3-2.
The obvious intrigue here was Philadelphia hasn't won at the Joe Louis Arena since 1988, spanning 18 games with the Flyers 0-16-2. Included in the streak were two Red Wings wins in the 1997 Finals which enabled Detroit to snap a long Stanley Cup Championship drought. The Red Wings clinched the title by winning Game 4 in Motown.
Even when the Flyers were winning Stanley Cups as the Broadstreet Bullies in the mid 1970s and leading the league in penalty minutes, the Red Wings were second in trips to the Sin Bin with Bryan “Bugsy” Watson camping out there in Historic Olympia Stadium.
The second half of the picture equation was watching ESPN & ABC Play By Play Announcer Brent Musberger coming full circle by calling an intriguing NCAA Basketball Tournament Game.
This time Musberger was at the microphone in Dayton, Ohio., for an NCAA Tournament "Play In" contest featuring The Morehead State, KY., Eagles versus the Alabama State University Hornets. We're not talking about the Alabama Crimson Tide located in Tuscaloosa or the Auburn Tigers. We're talking about Alabama State which is located where the Detroit Tigers once had a AA minor league team in Montgomery, Alabama. The Hornets have more than 5,000 students from 42 states and seven countries and a third of the enrollment are non Alabama residents.
Morehead State (20-15) defeated Alabama State (22-10) 58-43 and now have the thankless task of facing the top team in the NCAA Tournament, the Louisville Cardinals (28-5), a team which is projected by many to reach the Finals in Detroit on Monday April 6th.
Prior to March 17th, I had never heard of Alabama State. The only thing that I knew about Morehead State was the university produced New York Giants legendary QB Phil Simms.
Finally, the patriotic side of me was monitoring the rematch of Puerto Rico versus the USA in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in Miami, Florida.
After an embarrassing 11-1 mercy rule loss on Saturday, the USA scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to advance to the WBC semifinals in Los Angeles with a 6-5 win.
Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson was inserted as a pinch runner in the only move USA Manager Davey Johnson could make with an injury depleted roster. The heroics of New York Mets third baseman David Wright's game winning hit will now give Johnson a few more days to replace the injured players with healthy ones in the USA's quest for a WBC Championship.
In 1984, I had the pleasure of seeing an Olympic Baseball Game at Dodger Stadium featuring the Korean National team in Los Angeles.
What a night of sports viewing as the remote received a workout harder than a person would get at a fitness facility.
Furthermore, Versus did a nice job watching New Jersey Devils future Hall of Fame Goaltender Martin Brodeur's final moments in eclipsing Patrick Roy's victory mark with 552.
Brodeur's accomplishment could be compared to those of Brett Favre's 169 wins as a starting QB, Richard Petty's 200 checkered flags in NASCAR or Warren Spahn's 363 triumph's in baseball's live ball era.
The only thing we don't know about Brodeur is where his victory total will end.
I've always seen nets get cut down in basketball but not in hockey. This could be the start of a new tradition for a team's trophy case just like kissing the bricks has become a tradition at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis.
Since he defended both nets, Brodeur should have cut both.
But all in all, it was a great night to watch three different sports that had unique story lines.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lions 0-16 Means Nothing Compared to Team's History of Tragedies

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
While the national perception of Detroit is the poor economy & for years, it was known as the Murder Capital, what people seem to overlook is Motown has always been a Super Sports Town.
In my lifetime, the Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Shock and Red Wings have won championships. Even the Arena Football League's Detroit Drive and the USFL's Michigan Panthers won titles in addition to the fact that the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans football, basketball, hockey and baseball teams have enjoyed success. To date, the Michigan Wolverines football program is still the all-time winningest in NCAA Division I.
Yet in this day and age, Detroit's national sports headlines will focus on the 0-16 Lions. Very few baby boomers will remember the accomplishments of Charlie Sanders, Lem Barney, Billy Sims and Barry Sanders. How many were alive when Barry Sanders played in his lone NFC Championship in 1991 when the Lions were hammered by the Washington Redskins 41-14 in the nations capital at RFK Stadium?
There is no doubt that the Ford Family has done a poor job giving the Lions fans much to cheer about. A 31-97 record the past eight years, an NFL record 24-game road losing streak and now this infamous 0-16 season, has earned the Lions airtime on the late night comedy show circuit, in addition to national ridicule on sports radio and television programs.
But while players like Erik Kramer, Chris Spielman to name a couple should have retired in a Lions uniform on their own terms, other athletes and a head coach didn't have that option.
I never thought on Oct 24, 1971 at Tiger Stadium that I would be a part of history for all the wrong reasons. As an eight-year old boy, I saw wide receiver Chuck Hughes, 28, die of a heart attack running a pass pattern against the Chicago Bears as Hall of Famer Dick Butkus would later signal for help as his fallen opponent laid on the field motionless. Hughes is the only player in NFL History to die on the field during a game.
As stunned as I was, I knew what was going on and asked my father Mike does this happen often? He quietly nodded his head and said no. He put his arms around me, and when we went to our Southfield, Michigan home, we watched the local news and received official word that Hughes died.
That night, I slept in his bed and had nightmares of that afternoon at the Corner of Michigan & Trumbull. I would later find out that my best friends, George Eichorn, Elia Nicholas and Gus Pantelides also attended this day to forget.
While the Lions may lack winning seasons and playoff victories, this organization doesn't lack life lessons.
On November 17, 1991., I watched starting right guard Mike Utley, 25 , suffer a severe spinal injury that was officially diagnosed as an injury to his sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae, against the Los Angeles Rams. Amazingly enough, the play was a normal contact play and it seemed like no big deal from my vantage point in the Pontiac Silverdome's Press Box. But the big downfall at the Silverdome was it was an artificial surface venue with cement beneath it, therefore, when the body took a big hit, it took a physical toll on the player.
Utley was carted off the field strapped on a stretcher. Yet he became a major inspiration after flashing the “Thumbs Up Signal.” But on this day, instead of watching the great moves Barry Sanders was making, it would be the last time Utley would walk because he was paralyzed.
As I think about this day, I'm amazed that we saw the replay on our monitors so many times, it seemed like such a harmful play that it was an injury that few would take notice of knowing it was a clean football play.
The Lions used Utley's injury to inspire them and they rolled to a seven-game winning streak and a berth in the NFC Championship Game.
Just when the Lions were dealing with the Utley injury, in that off-season, Erik Andolsek, their starting left guard was working in the yard of his Thibodaux, Louisiana., home on June 23, 1992, when he was struck and killed by a semitrailer truck that ran off the highway. He was 25.
Another incident I'll never forget was the passing of former Lion linebacker Toby Caston. I was covering the Detroit Lions overtime 20-17 win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys on Monday Sept 19, 1994 at Texas Stadium.
At the Lions team hotel, I asked former executive Chuck Schmidt if he even felt his team had a chance to win this game. He told me that the team would be ready for the challenge and don't be surprised if we win this game. Low and behold, Detroit did prevail on this night and Schmidt was indeed correct.
After the win, Caston and I were talking outside the Lions lockerroom shooting the breeze and pleased with the victory. This is the greatest game I've ever attended and it still tops Super Bowl 43 when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa!
But at approximately 4 AM the next morning central time, Caston, 29, was killed in an auto accident.
When I heard the news the next day, I was sick to my stomach and devastated! One minute I was enjoying a great Lions win talking to Caston and asking him if he was going to keep playing or stay retired, the next day, the game of football meant nothing compared to the game of life, and the man upstairs made Toby's decision for him.
On Dec 21, 1997, linebacker Reggie Brown, Detroit's first round pick, selected 17th overall from Texas A&M nearly died on the field the same day Lions running back Barry Sanders eclipsed the 2,000 rushing mark for the season.
The Utley injury made me aware of spinal injuries, but watching Brown sustain this spinal cord contusion while assisting on a tackle in a match-up against the New York Jets in the regular season finale at the Silverdome, reinforced the violent nature of football.
Brown did lay motionless on the turf for 17 minutes. He lost consciousness briefly. CPR saved his life. On this day, it felt like he'd be the second person in NFL history to die on the field wearing the same Honolulu Blue & Silver colors. I felt like I was living the Hughes nightmare all over again but this time I was old enough to understand what was going on.
Brown had emergency surgery after being transported to the hospital, which likely spared him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. This injury occurred 32 games into his NFL career while he was in his early 20's.
While I wasn't at a game when this tragedy occurred, I still haven't forgotten about the death of former Lions Head Coach Don McCafferty, who guided the Baltimore Colts to a Super Bowl V, 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys on January 17, 1971, suffered a fatal heart attack on July 28, 1974., while cutting his grass at his West Bloomfield home just prior to the beginning of training camp as he was trying to rebound from a 6-7-1 season. He was 53.
I was on a family trip in Traverse City when I heard the news on a local television station in upstate Michigan.
McCafferty replaced Don Shula as coach of the Colts after the all-time winningest coach in NFL history took over the Miami Dolphins. The Lions hired McCafferty on January 26, 1973.
Now the Lions are dealing with the Corey Smith boating tragedy when he and a pair of his fishing buddies died in the Gulf Coast of Tampa Bay, Florida. I saw Smith, 29, play in Charlotte, NC., in the Lions 31-22 loss to the Panthers on Sunday Nov 16th.
It's tough enough that the Lions had to deal with an 0-16 season and now they're reeling from the loss of their defensive end, taking the focus away from their scouting of the 2009 NFL Draft. No matter what people feel the Lions accomplished in the off-season, it's inevitable that Smith will be in the next Media Guide in “Memoriam Of” not a biography of what he did this past season. Even if he would have signed with another team, his lasting image now will be with the Detroit Lions, just like those mentioned in this story.
Does it take all of these scenarios to realize that these football players are human and that football is just a game? These individuals haven't had the opportunity to celebrate life to it's fullest because of their unfortunate fate.
For those Lions that have passed away, there will be an asterisk next to their name in the media guide with a footnote at the bottom of the page that says deceased.
But for fans, media, and their family members, there memories will seem larger than life.
I can only imagine how many more yards Barry Sanders would have gained in his Hall of Fame career if Utley and Andolsek's tragedies wouldn't have occurred and the lingering question remains, would their contributions have enabled the Lions to reach a Super Bowl? We'll never know.
On thing I do know, is that the Detroit Lions did the right thing when they retired Hughes No. 85 and honored him by naming an award in his name in 1997 to the “Most Improved Player.”
But I'll never forget that game as it finished in near silence and how today, this remains the most traumatic sporting & life event I've ever witnessed and have been a part of in 46 years.
At a young age, I learned that we're on this earth for a visit so we better live every day as if it were our last! The thing that Hughes knows is he can be thankful for the fact that he died doing what he loved to do and that's playing football.
One of my favorite sayings is "Morris Had Nine Lives, We Better Make The Most of the One We Have."This has served me well over the years both in my professional and personal experiences.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com

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