Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Greatest Wide Receiver Class In NFL Draft History?

There is wide spread agreement that the 1983 NFL draft produced the greatest group of quarterbacks in the history of the sport. John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Three hall-of-famers... enough said.

But, when it comes to the greatest wide receiver class, there is room for debate. Some would say it's the Class of 1985. After all, that class is led by the greatest of all time, Jerry Rice, who was the third receiver taken that year (Al Toon & Eddie Brown) drafted, 16th overall, one pick ahead of the Cowboys (who took DE Kevin Brooks). Andre Reed, 5th all-time in receptions, 8th in yards, and 10th in TD's, was drafted by the Bills in the 4th round. Al Toon led the league in receptions in 1988. Eddie Brown of the Bengals was also a pro-bowler. If you count tight ends as receivers, two of the best in the game, Jay Novacek and Mark Bavaro were also Class of '85. Fellow tight end Ethan Horton was also a pro-bowler.

Others will claim the Class of 1988 is the best. Tim Brown was the top wide receiver taken that year (#6). Brown is 3rd overall in receptions, 2nd in yards, and 6th in TD's. Sterling Sharp was #7 that year, and was neck-in-neck with Rice for the top receiver of the era when his career was cut short in his prime in 1994 with a neck injury. The Cowboys used the 11th pick that year on Michael Irvin. The hall-of-famer retired with three Super Bowl rings. The Class of '88 also included pro-bowl wide receivers Anthony Miller and Brian Blades, and pro-bowl tight ends Keith Jackson and Ferrell Edmunds. Flipper Anderson and Michael Haynes were also drafted in '88. That is an impressive class.

But I say, when all is said and done, the Class of 1996 could blow both of those classes COMBINED out of the water. Keyshawn Johnson was the top pick that year. He retires this year 15th in receptions and 23rd in yards. Pro Bowlers, Terry Glenn (#7), Eric Moulds (#24), Muhsin Muhammad (#43), Joe Horn (#135) and Jermaine Lewis (#153) are all in this class, as well as Amani Toomer, Ricky Dudley and Jay Riemersma. But, the crown jewels of this class are the 19th pick and the 89th pick. Marvin Harrison was the third receiver taken that year, yet he could potentially end his career number one all-time. The 8-time pro-bowler is already 4th in receptions, 6th in yards and 3rd in TD's. His 143 receptions in 2002 is most of all-time. Oh, and that 89th pick? The 12th receiver taken that year is none other than Terrell Owens. T.O. is 17th in receptions, 16th in yards and 4th in TD's. He has 5 pro-bowl appearances and could fight Harrison for the all-time TD receptions title.

As great of a wide receiver draft as it is, 1996 will forever leave a bad taste in my mouth. As a St. Louis native, I sat an watched the Rams, with the 18th pick that year, take a "sure thing" out of LSU named Eddie Kennison. With the 19th pick, the Indianapolis Colts had to settle for Marvin Harrison...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Help For A Heavy Hitter

East Texas Long Drive professional Mathew Vilade is quickly making a name for himself in the long drive world. His 473 yard drive in Mesquite, Nevada is the longest drive ever hit there, and that's where the World Championship is held. He is participating in a charity event and wanted me to pass this along:

I am participating in a special golf tournament to raise money for Children's Miracle Network. I am emailing you to ask you to consider pledging. Please help me meet my pledge goals and help this organization raise the money they need to continue their work. Your contribution will help make this event a huge success and get me one step closer to meeting my pledge goals.

To visit my personalized pledge page or to learn more about this event, please visit:
Thanks for your support!Mathew Vilade
Long Drive Professional

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

East Texan Boosting His NASCAR Status Again

Grace Community High School grad C.J. Fambrough keeps popping up all over the NASCAR world. He is currently the rear-tire changer for the Joe Gibbs Racing's #18 car in the Busch Series. He has been practicing with the Joe Gibbs Racing Nextel Cup crew members for a possible jump to one of their Nextel Cup cars as well. Anyway, one of Joe Gibbs Racing's up-and-coming drivers, 16-year-old Joey Logano, races in the NASCAR Grand National Division, because their age limit is 16. The Busch Series age limit is 18. C.J. worked on Joey's crew last year in the USAR Hooters Cup series. Because NASCAR was holding it's All-Star race this past week, they weren't racing over the weekend. So Kevin Harvick, who would win the Nextel Cup All-Star race, agreed to race in the NASCAR Grand National race at Iowa Speedway over the weekend. When Joe Gibbs found out Harvick was bringing his Busch Series pit crew with him to Iowa, he sent a Busch Series pit crew of his own to pit for Joey. Well guess what, Fambrough and the #18 crew went to Iowa and helped Joey knock off Harvick! There's a great story on the race at Iowa Speedway's website.

This picture is courtesy of and features Harvick congratulating Logano. That's Fambrough standing next to Logano with his hand out, waiting his turn for a congratulation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rude Drivers And NASCAR: Hand-In-Hand

AutoVantage's "In the Driver's Seat Road Rage Survey" surveyed residents in the 25 biggest cities in the country and ranked them in order from those reporting the most incidents of road rage to the fewest. The top 10 cities, coincidentally or not, have a NASCAR track within 100 miles of them.
City Track
1. Miami - Homestead-Miami Speedway
2. New York - Pocono Raceway
3. Boston - New Hampshire International Speedway
4. Los Angeles - California Speedway
5. Washington D.C. - Dover International Speedway & Richmond International Speedway
6. Phoenix - Phoenix International Speedway
7. Chicago - Chicagoland Speedway
8. Sacramento - Infineon Raceway
9. Philadelphia - Dovor International Speedway & Pocono Raceway
10.San Francisco - Infineon Raceway

18 of the 25 have a track within 100 miles. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have a track within 170 miles. Houston and Minneapolis-St. Paul are the only two in the top 15 without a track, although Houston has a Champ Car Race.

There are several ways you can look at this. First of all, they are among the largest concentrations of people, so of course they are going to have the most incidents of road rage. However, Miami (16), Phoenix (13) and Sacramento(20) are top 10 road rage but not top 10 population. Yet, all three of those towns have a raceway close by.

Food for thought...

Monday, May 14, 2007

East Texas NASCAR Promotion?

I saw this little news article today and immediately thought about the implications.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Joe Gibbs Racing officials are considering changes in personnel after Denny Hamlin complained that pit problems cost him the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington yesterday. Hamlin finished second to Jeff Gordon after a pair of dropped lug nuts during a late race pit stop cost him valuable time.

Apparently, this is the third time that a pitstop screw-up has cost Hamlin a win and he isn't happy. For him to call out his crew is huge and making a change may be the only way to smooth things over. It doesn't say if the problem has been with the same person or not, but dropped lug nuts is a tire changer problem. Front or rear? I don't know. What I do know is Grace Community graduate C.J. Fambrough is a rising star in the Joe Gibbs Racing organization. The rear tire changer is currently working on the #18 car in the Busch Series. Fambrough has been practicing the past few months with the Nextel Cup guys. It would be very simple to keep him at the track for another day to work the Nextel Cup race as well. We'll see what comes of this...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Loss Of A Wildcat

He was an exceptional kid...
That's about all Whitehouse high school athletic director and football coach Randy McFarlin could say at one time without choking up. Only a few hours earlier he had learned that Alexander Fleming, a defensive back on his football team, had been killed in a car accident.

This is the type of thing that isn't in the job description, when you have to face dozens of stunned young men asking why? Why, a kid in the prime of his life, who did the right things, who was wearing his seatbelt, who was driving home after studying with friends, not partying, could be taken away like that? It's not in the job description because it's an unanswerable question. It's a situation that no one deserves, or should ever have to deal with. Even so, Coach McFarlin spent the day consoling his players and wearing a brave face. He answered all the questions he could, he talked to the media and he carried on the best he could.

McFarlin told me Fleming was having a great spring and was a projected starter at cornerback. He said the junior was also a band member who made good grades and had lots of friends. His death would affect nearly every member of the Whitehouse family.

Coach told me when things were at their worst this morning, when he thought he wouldn't be able to last through the day, one of his players walked in with a bible under his arm. At a time when so many kids were counting on the coach for support, that one player helped give the coach hope. Whether we like it or not, coach said, life goes on. And, while he now tries to fill the hole in his defensive backfield, he's also trying to fill the hole in his heart.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Great Way To Learn About Disc Golf!

I done several stories over the past few years on disc golf. It is an extremely fun sport that is low in cost and high in excercise. You really only need one good frisbee and some tennis shoes! The city of Tyler is set to host a free disc golf clinic this Saturday out at Lindsey Park. It is a great way to learn the sport and get some excercise. Here is the city's press release:

Come join the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department for fun in the great outdoors with a free Disc Golf Clinic, from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 12, at Lindsey Park, 1255 Spur 364. This instructional clinic is presented by the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department as part of their “At Your Leisure Series.”
Instructor Lawrence Nance will teach participants rules and etiquette, putting, driving, mid-range, and disc selection. Registration forms for this free clinic can be found at under the Parks and Recreation Department.
For more information about this program call Debbie Isham, Special Events/Recreation Supervisor at 903-531-1214.