Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Drew Brees Book: Chicken Soup For The BP Fatigued Soul

July 18th, 2010

COMING BACK STRONGER, by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry. (TyndaleHouse, $26.99.) The N.F.L. quarterback recovered from an injury to play for the New Orleans Saints. 





At least a thousand adoring fans begin cheering as Drew Brees rises up the elevator at Borders on St. Charles Avenue to autograph copies of his new book "Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity" which debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list this week.

This is Brees' third book signing of the day but he says with a smile not to worry, his right arm, the one he uses to unleash those lethal touchdown passes, is holding up just fine

This place used to be a funeral home but the only people who looked distressed are the frazzled staff as this event has temporarily disrupted the norm of the place: a quiet atmosphere to peruse a book or two while sipping a cup of Seattle's Best.

The crowds at the book signings come as no surprise as Brees and Saints fans have always mixed like a cool glass of Tanqueray and Tonic served up at Pat O'Briens on Bourbon Street on those steamy New Orleans Summer nights.

In a city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and a nasty oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, just call "Coming Back Stronger", Chicken Soup for the BP fatigued soul.

It is loaded with an inspiration at a time when people have never needed it more.

From the moment the doctor snipped the umbilical cord, Drew Brees has had to battle adversity and search for the hidden power contained within it.

His first challege in life was overcoming the pain of his parent's divorce as a young boy growing up in Austin, Texas.

"Reid (Drew's brother) and I spent many nights awake long after-lights out, hoping and praying that our parents would get back together. We cried ourselves to sleep a lot during that time."

Brees had the lineage of a future star.

His mother Mina was a Texas all-state athlete in three sports and his uncle, Marty Akins, was an All-American quarterback at the University of Texas. Akins led Texas to a 1973 Cotton Bowl victory over an Alabama team coached by Bear Bryant.

Brees felt lost in the shuffle in his early days at Westlake High School in Austin and his passion was for baseball not football. He told his mother, "Mom, I think I might want to quit football...because I don't feel I'm ever going to get an opportunity to play."

Mina Brees "didn't freak out" says Brees but told her son, " don't have to play. But remember this: when you least expect it, that opportunity will present itself. You never know when it's going to come, but all it takes is one play."

When Johnny Rodgers, a QB with a higher-profile and better family connections than Drew, went down with a torn ACL, Mina's advice to her son turned prophetic and Brees got his shot.

However, Brees would have to stare down adversity again. He led the JV team to a 10-0 record and then, the following season, tore is own ACL after leading the Westlake varsity team deep into the playoffs.

"The ACL injury was a defining moment in my life," says Brees in Coming Back Stronger . "I made a decision not to let something negative control my emotion....the injury stirred me up inside, and I was filled with questions: Do I have a purpose? Is there a reason I'm on this earth? Do I have a destiny, or is everything just chance?"

Brees made the choice to come back stronger in what would be a recurring theme in years to come. He led Westlake to a 16-0 season and the first state championship in the history of the school.

Austin, Texas was a happy town but college football's major powers didn't seem to take notice. His hometown Texas Longhorns had other plans and Drew was only recruited by "a few Ivy League schools, along with Purdue and Kentucky."

This kid from Austin always seemed to be the perennial underdog, always having to overcome the odds.

Drew Brees chose Purdue of the Big Ten.

"By the way, where's Purdue?" It's in Indiana, Drew.

By his sophomore year, he was the starter but after an ill-advised interception against Notre Dame resulted in a loss, Brees began to question his own ability.

"Do I belong here? Can I compete at this level?

Once again he discovered his inner resolve to persevere through adversity.

In his senior year, Brees would lead Purdue to the 2000 Rose Bowl with a 64 yard TD pass in the final seconds to beat Ohio State. Purdue didn't go to Rose Bowls. Just never happened. No way. No how. That is until Mr. Brees came along.

Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road 
I ain't got me nobody
I don't carry me no load
Oooh Mr Breeze
Fast forward to December 31, 2020- the day that would change the course of Drew Brees' life forever.

The Super Bowl seemed a million miles away when you lay in that hospital bed in 2006 with a shoulder so severely torn, even your doctor thought your playing days may be done.

The San Diego Chargers unceremoniously dumped you with an insulting contract offer and you and Brittany put plans to start a family on hold.

All of this because because you were just doing your job. 

You dove for a fumble in your own end zone in 2005. You were just being you. Playing football the way Rose played baseball and Maravich played basketball. Diving to recover a fumble with your team out of playoff contention.

No good deed goes unpunished.

A 325 pound Denver defensive tackle named Gerald Warren landed full force on your throwing shoulder. It was a pretty gruesome sight.

In Birmingham, Ala, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews watched a replay of that scramble for the ball and told Sports Illustrated , "I thought, my God, what an injury."

After examining you, he said it was a 360 degree tear of the labrum and, during surgery, Andrews found that you also suffered a deep, partial rotator cuff tear.

He told SI that it was "one of the most unique injuries of any athlete I've treated."

"Lord, I was just hoping to give him a functional shoulder. An average athlete would not recover from this injury," said Andrews.

Never underestimate the heart of a champion.

Meanwhile, the city of New Orleans was in shambles and struggling to regain its balance following Hurricane Katrina. Somehow, someway you two found each other and the marriage quickly got off to a rousing start.

In Coming Back Stronger , Drew Brees talks of a decision that came down to Miami or New Orleans and a meeting with the phlegmatic, aloof, former LSU coach Nick Saban, who was running the show in South Beach at the time.

"Nick was up-front with me. He told me straight out that he was interested in having me play for the Dolphins. His personality is not real warm, and you struggle to get a smile out of him. He's a hard-nosed stoic kind of guy, and he did most of the talking at the breakfast, as I recall."

By contrast, Brees took to Sean Payton right away.

"Our first conversation occurred while I was going through the Arby's drive-through in Birmingham, and I realized right away I like his (Sean Payton's) personality. I appreciated what he had to say about the team and the direction they were going. I could feel they truly wanted me and would appreciate a chance"

Brees pressed Saban for a commitment.

"Coach (Saban), I know how what your doctors believe about me. My question is, what do you believe? Do you believe that I can come back and be better than I was before and lead your team to a championship?"

Saban paused.

"That was really all I needed to hear. His pause told me everything." said Brees. "Immediately I called my agent. "Tom (Condon), do the deal with New Orleans."

It's January 2007 and you're walking through Audubon Park; San Diego seems so far in the past now.

You pass walkers and joggers along the trail.

Just last Saturday night, you led the Saints to 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the team's second playoff win in team history, setting up a meeting with the Chicago Bears for the NFC Championship.

"Thank you for what you've done for this city. I want you to know that we appreciate it," says a man pushing a baby stroller.

A woman passing in a red SUV yells out the window, "Thanks Drew!"

You tell SI's Tim Layden, "That happens 10 times a day. And it's never 'Good game' or Can I have your autograph? It's always somebody saying thank you."

You look downward and shake your head in humility.

Those Bourbon Street preachers say gratitude is the least heartfelt of all emotions. Guess they've never witnessed an outpouring of emotion like this.

Chef Emeril Lagasse tells Sports Illustrated, "He is a god down here right now. He is a miracle man."

In your first year as quarterback of the Saints, you are navigating the team toward the impossible dream: New Orleans' first Super Bowl.

Your right tackle Jon Stinchcomb tells SI, "Without him we just wouldn't be here. It's that simple."

Three year later, Stinchcomb would be one of your protectors in a Super Bowl victory.

Life was tough back in those days. Standing in long lines at the grocery. Standing in even longer lines at the pharmacy. Having to be in the drive-up line by 8:00 p.m. for a box of Popeye's fried chicken.

Football was one of the only distractions.

Now, it's Valentine's Day 2010 and your love affair with the city and its people is stronger than ever. You've just won the Super Bowl and Disney World will have to wait for a while.

"All those rough patches on the journey- the injury, the rehab, the hurricane, the new team-and now we were really here, Super Bowl champions. I stood there with my little boy, and I was overwhelmed. I told (baby) Baylen how much I loved him and how much he meant to me and what an inspiration he was to me," said Brees.

"We did it little boy. We did it."

You throw footballs from a Mardi Gras float as the King of Bacchus on a frigid Sunday night in New Orleans.

You throw perfect spirals that people scramble for like they were pieces of gold.

You fling necklaces and medallions with ease. The same way you threw that TD pass to Shockey in Miami and you're as humble as ever.

They say steel is strengthened in the fire and Lord knows you've been there, Mr. Brees.

Coming Back Stronger- a little Tanqueray and Tonic-New Orleans Style- for the the adversity-plagued soul.




This Is the Los Angeles Galaxy: Yohance Marshall

July 17th, 2010

This is Part 24 in a series of articles on the players that make up the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Football shares a few parallels with life in general. One of those parallels is a significant one: Getting a chance to prove yourself isn't always a given.

For Yohance Marshall, it's a parallel he knows very well. Standing tall at 6'2" (1.88 m), this defender from Trinidad & Tobago has yet to shine on game day for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Currently, he is playing for the Austin Aztex in the USSF Division 2 Professional League on loan from the Gs. One day, his experience playing on the back line at House Park will translate to many memorable matches at the Home Depot Center.

Yohance Marshall was born on January 22, 2020 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. One of the most important cities in the Caribbean, Port-of-Spain is home to the pre-lenten Carnival, its main annual cultural festival and tourist attraction.

The city's major sporting venues the Queen's Park Oval, Hasely Crawford Stadium (the home of the Soca Warriors), the Jean Pierre Complex and various sporting fields on the Queen's Park Savannah. Port-of-Spain has also hosted concerts by entertainers like Beyonce, Chris Brown, Sean Paul, Rihanna, The Outfield, Cascada, Akon, Usher and Kumar Sanu.

Marshall's footballing career began at St. Anthony's College, a high school in Port-of-Spain. He starred on the national Under-17 team, and also was a fixture Under-20 and Under-21 teams while playing with the South Florida Bulls from 2005-2008.

An imposing presence on defence, Marshall helped USF reach the final stages of the NCAA Tournament in three of his four campaigns. He led South Florida to their first-ever conference final and captained the team to the title in his senior year.

After 73 appearances with the Bulls, Marshall was named an NSCAA Second Team All-American, a College Soccer News First Team All-American and an All-Big East First Team selection in 2008.

In March 2009, Yohance Marshall was signed as an undrafted free agent and made his season debut against D.C. on March 22. Marshall would earn his first start in the Galaxy's U.S. Open Cup playoff defeat to the Colorado Rapids.

In late March, Marshall suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and would not return to training for a month. As a result, Marshall would be loaned to the Aztex in late June.

Marshall made three appearances for the Aztex, making his club debut on June 27, a 2-2 draw with the Cleveland City Stars. They failed to impress in their first season, finishing a dismal 10th in the USL First Division.

In between appearing at a friendly against Boca Juniors earlier this season, Marshall continued to improve in his second season with the Aztex, who are competing in the USL COnference of the USSF D2 Pro League this season.

As of July 15, Austin are 9-2-5 (32 points), five to the good of the Rochester Rhinos for first in the conference. And as of this article date, Marshall has made 15 appearances for Austin this season in defense.

With the best record in USSF D2, Adrian Heath's Aztex share another parallel with Bruce Arena's Galaxy.

As a result, the Galaxy's No. 5 has been blessed to be part of two great clubs. But while Austin's No. 19 is enjoying the pleasure of making house calls at House Park, the question remains: When will Victoria Street call for Yohance Marshall?

Stay tuned.

A Baseball Accident Witnesses Will Never Forget

July 17th, 2010

July 6, 2020. It was another game day in Major League Baseball and a week before the All-Star break. As teams tried to finish the first half of the season on a good note, 20,428 fans entered Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to watch the Texas Rangers play the Cleveland Indians.

On a day when 84 degrees is not a typical Texas summer day, the weather wasn't the only thing out of the normal on that Tuesday night.

With the Rangers up 3-1, the game went to the bottom of the fifth. Nelson Cruz came up to bat with two outs. He fouled off his first pitch near the club level seats along the first base line.

"I was following the ball when I heard people gasp and start pointing all around me," said 21-year-old Katrina Guinn. "When I turned to see what everyone was looking at, I saw the man trying to grab the railing around the second level box seats. His head hit the electronic wrap-around sign and he lost his grasp on the railing. He fell right into the middle of the section and landed on a couple of people, including a young boy."

Tyler Morris, 25, fell from section 235 and landed in section 34. Guinn was sitting in section 33.

"There was no doubt that the fans were very disturbed to have witnessed the accident," said Jerry Romo, a Spanish broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. "While some of them turned away, other cried and it seemed like a lot of them were praying for the victim who fell to be all right."

Of those praying included Indians shortstop Jason Donald and left fielder Trevor Crowe, as seen in the television broadcasts.

The game was delayed for 16 minutes as Morris and four other fans were examined by paramedics. Morris regained his conscience and was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. He was released two days later.

"C.J. Wilson pitched an amazing game with several strikeouts, Nellie Cruz and Vlad Guerrero hit a couple of home runs, but still very little cheering," said 17-year-old Austin Jones.

Jones was sitting in the "Home Run Porch" in right field, which was where the last time a fan fell from the upper deck. A lady fell on April 11, 2020 in that section while posing for a picture after the Rangers home opener. Afterwards, the rails in that section were raised from 30.5 inches to 46 inches. 

Recently in 2005, a 18-year-old man intentionally jumped from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium and landed on the netting over the home plate seats. In 2008, a 25-year-old man tried to slide on the stair railing at Turner Field and slipped over, falling to his death. In 2009, a 34-year-old man fainted in the heat at Busch Stadium and fell onto an empty seat.

"The only way I see this being prevented is to change regulations regarding the height of rails at stadiums," Romo said. "From what I understand, Major League Baseball calls for rails to be no lower than 26 inches tall. The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington exceeds that by at least four inches."

Even a week after the incident, those who witnessed the fall are having a hard time forgetting about it.

"There are a lot of things in ballparks that have to be fixed and you'd like to see people be a little more proactive. We need higher rails so that doesn't happen. I've always said they should bring the nets behind home plate to the other side of the dugouts. Balls zip in there all the time and there are little kids that have seats right behind our dugout," Michael Young said according to .

"Just the other day I pinched myself and was like, 'Dad, did that really happen? Did I really see a man come tumbling down helplessly?' Just talking about it gives me the chills," said Allyson Guinn, Katrina's younger sister.

Allyson is only 13. She was also sitting in section 33 with her sister, which is located behind the Rangers' dugout. 

"It was one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen. Something I will never forget," Jones said.

"It's not everyday you see somebody falling more than 30 feet onto a sea of people. I really wish I hadn't seen the accident at all," said Romo.  "This wasn't the first time a fan falls from a higher deck to a lower one at a sporting event and as much as we would like for it not to happen again, it probably will."

Detroit Pistons Joe Dumars Waiting To Make Stealth Attack on NBA Execs

July 17th, 2010

It's coming.

Joe Dumars has waited quietly all offseason to make his move.

And soon, the time will be right. 

The Detroit Pistons have been unexpectedly silent to many observers this summer. 

Tayshaun Prince was rumored to be on his way out a long time ago. Rip Hamilton rumors were perhaps even louder. Yet, as of mid-July both remain Pistons.

Joe Dumars was said to be in love with DeMarcus Cousins. When the time came to move up in the draft, however, he didn't make the move. 

In free agency, the Pistons were said to be going after a point guard or big man with their mid-level exception. Still, nothing.

Detroit even has yet to resign their own free agents.

Ben Wallace was finally given a two-year deal earlier this week, but the rest, nothing. Restricted free agent Will Bynum, the fiery point guard, has been in negotiations for a couple weeks.

Now that the free agent market has dwindled down to role players, Dumars can finally start moving.

Where to start...


Rip Hamilton

Rip Hamilton will be the player most likely to gone by training camp. Hamilton works best with a true point guard. And with Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum, neither guard fits well with Hamilton. 

Hamilton is a solid enough shooter to fit in well in most places. He is the perfect half-court compliment to any squad. He sees the floor well, knows how to come off screens, and could be a veteran presence for a young team.

Another bonus is his contract. What once seemed like a bad deal is now seen as decent compared to the other signings around the league. Hamilton is due only $25 million for the next two seasons, and the third is only a partial guarantee. 

One possibility is the New Jersey Nets. Even after signing Anthony Morrow, Hamilton would still fit in well with Devin Harris. He could play 30 minutes a night and contribute to a young but talented team.

Another destination could be the Denver Nuggets. He would join his former backcourt mate Chauncey Billups. J.R. Smith is still not the player Denver hoped for and Aaron Afflalo is a mediocre starter. Hamilton would enter an offense that fits him well and a familiar situation.

The New Orleans Hornets also presents a team to watch. I'm sure Detroit would love a chance at Chris Paul or even Darren Collison. However, David West may be the person to watch even closer. Depending on who the new GM is in New Orleans, he could be looking for an actual shooting guard.

Other possibilities loom, but those three are the ones to watch.

Don't be surprised if Dumars waits until late August, but don't expect Hamilton in a Pistons uniform. 


Tayshaun Prince

For those expecting Tayshaun to be traded right now, don't. It makes a lot more sense for him to be dumped off in February.

It's a slightly risky move if he faces injury troubles for the second straight season. The rewards, however, outweigh the risks. By waiting until February, contending teams or those looking for salary relief will offer better packages.

Prince also fits in better with the current roster. If the team gets off to a good start, he isn't a bad piece to still have around. He has a decent jumper and still plays solid defense. The team lacks in the small forward category and trading Prince might hinder that even more.

Look for them to be sure Austin Daye has developed as a player and then say goodbye to the Prince.


Jason Maxiell

Fans love him or hate him but Jason Maxiell seems to be the extra piece in any potential Pistons trade. He doesn't have a true position, but belongs as a role player somewhere.

He is a very good shot blocker and has improved his offensive game over the past couple years. 

The problem with Maxiell is how he fits with Detroit. As the team continues to get younger and fill in more positions, he continues to get lost in the shuffle. If he's here, he'll play. However, it seems as if the team would prefer to move him as well.


Other Players

If Maxiell is not traded, expect Chris Wilcox to be the other piece in any deal. His contract expires next year and it would not be tough to move.

Charlie Villanueva  is another name in some rumors. Fans are angered over his inconsistency last season. Unfortunately, he's always been inconsistent. But, Dumars will not get rid of him after one year.

Nor will he ship Ben Gordon . If there is one player safer than anyone else, it's Gordon. Coming off an injury-plagued season, he will finally get the opportunity he came to Detroit for. Dumars is a huge fan and will not let him go this early in his contract.


Mid-Level Exception

With few free agents left, will Dumars still attempt to use it?

Unfortunately, this will probably go unused in full. Detroit isn't in position to go after an aging veteran like Brad Miller, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, or Richard Jefferson.  

The team could always go after a Primoz Brezec, Josh Boone, or Sean May as a last resort free agent. None of those guys would command anywhere near the mid-level.

By not using it, the Pistons are not really hurt. The only players that could have fit in nicely were Raymond Felton or Brendan Haywood. And the Pistons didn't seem too interested in either.


Re-signing Players and Extensions

Let's start with Rodney Stuckey. He will become a restricted free agent next season. There is still heavy debate on what to do with him. Extend him, let him be restricted, or even trade him. 

An extension can be eliminated: too much uncertainty exists with regards to the upcoming labor negotiations and his play.

Stuckey is still stuck in limbo as to what kind of player he actually is. Dumars needs to decide if Stuckey can lead a team to a championship as a point guard or move him over to a full-time shooting guard role. 

Ben Gordon and Stuckey need to show their styles fit together in the back-court for him to stick around. 

Although it would take an incredible offer to trade Stuckey this offseason, don't be surprised to see the Pistons shop him next year.

Will Bynum, still in negotiations, will return. There isn't a huge market for him and Detroit knows they can keep him cheap. Dumars shouldn't offer more than a two-year deal, maxing out at $5 million. 

Kwame Brown may or may not be back. There is always a market for a 7'0" player who can hold his own on defense. Detroit desperately needs someone like that and Brown may be the only possibility. 


Where To Go

Joe Dumars knows he is being watched closely. A third straight losing season may be on the horizon and that is not good news. With ownership in question and his track record under scrutiny, something must be done.

Dumars won't overreact to try to save himself, but he understands this roster is not good enough. 

Just when fans and teams may be ready to count him out he is planning something.

It might work and it might not, but Dumars is ready to take that leap.

Michigan Friday: Wolverines’ Tough Non-Conference Schedule

July 16th, 2010

The Sporting News ranked Michigan's 2011 non-conference schedule the hardest in the Big Ten.  The reason?  They play two BCS Schools, UConn and Notre Dame.  Sure there is a sighting of USC, Alabama, Miami, and the Arizona schools, but there are also Austin Peay, Towson, Arkansas State, South Dakota, every directional school in Illinois, and Northern Colorado.  I know Michigan has had it's share of mail in games, but this is somewhat embarrassing for the Big Ten in my opinion.  I didn't even know some of these schools played football. 

On a side note, I wasn't aware that Sam McGuffie was going to play against Big Ten school this year.  Northwestern plays at Rice.

1. Michigan: Connecticut, at Notre Dame, Massachusetts, Bowling Green

2. Iowa: Eastern Illinois, Iowa State, at Arizona, Ball State

3. Ohio State: Marshall, Miami (Fla.), Ohio, Eastern Michigan

4. Wisconsin: at UNLV, San Jose State, Arizona State, Austin Peay

5. Minnesota: at Middle Tennessee, South Dakota, USC, Northern Illinois

6. Penn State: Youngstown State, at Alabama, Kent State, Temple

7. Purdue: at Notre Dame, Western Illinois, Ball State, Toledo

8. Michigan State: Western Michigan, vs. Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame, Northern Colorado

9. Illinois: vs. Missouri, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, at Fresno State

10. Northwestern: at Vanderbilt, Illinois State, at Rice, Central Michigan

11. Indiana: Towson, at Western Kentucky, Akron, Arkansas State

  • Lambeau Field says don't forget about us for the Big Ten championship game .  I'm guessing fans paying high dollar for their tickets aren't going to want to sit outside in early December. 


  • The Michigan Daily previews the 2011 Michigan Linebackers .  IMO, this unit has the biggest upside on defensive and really needs to step up if Michigan is going to win some ball games.  The DB's and defensive line are going to be young and they are going to make mistakes.   The linebacking core needs to play like seniors.  If Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh don't make 1st or 2nd team All Big Ten then I think they have had a poor year and Michigan has given up a ton of points.


  • As we know, one of Michigan's top prospects for the 2011 class is currently on campus: Dee Hart.  I consider Dee, Kris Frost and Anthony Zettel, the top 3 prospects on Michigan's board for 2011.

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