A stranger’s confession: ‘I used to be a heroin addict’

One of those polite, “so where you from?” sort of conversations went this way: “I used to be a heroin addict.” Not the sort of line to make a morning drive with a complete stranger very comfortable. And even if it makes no difference intellectually, and I was making no judgment, there is an inevitable … Continue reading A stranger’s confession: ‘I used to be a heroin addict’

That crazy kid who ran off to elope in Rising Fawn, Ga.: Remembering the great Bobby Bowden

Ushered into his office, the first time I met the legendary coach he was knee-deep in film. Literally. Bobby Bowden was studying an opponent in those ancient pre-video days, with a projector beaming the action from his desk to a screen on the wall. He opted not to use the take-up reel at the opposite … Continue reading That crazy kid who ran off to elope in Rising Fawn, Ga.: Remembering the great Bobby Bowden

A deserving honor for some great practitioners of ‘Scrapbook Journalism’

At a break during an NCAA basketball regional years ago, I introduced myself to one of the best-known leaders in college athletics. “Your name is so familiar,” he said. Then, finally, he added this: “It’s the damn scrapbooks.” Indeed, a couple of decades earlier, in many stories under my byline, his wife’s name appeared. She … Continue reading A deserving honor for some great practitioners of ‘Scrapbook Journalism’

Get off my lawn with this 12-team college football playoff business

There is a fascinating baseball season unfolding. The NHL playoffs, which offer some of the best post-season drama in sport, are in full-force. Ditto the Lebron-less playoffs of the NBA. The finals of one of tennis’s Grand Slams is this weekend, and the U.S Open golf tournament starts this week. Photo by Juan Salamanca on … Continue reading Get off my lawn with this 12-team college football playoff business

Dale Earnhardt was an unknown — and unnoticed — when he first came to Talladega

In 1978, Dale Earnhardt and I came to a Talladega race for the first time. Dale finished 12th. I finished a 12-pack. Earnhardt raced 44 times at Talladega, winning 10 times. (To show the capriciousness of this place, he had 11 DNFs.) This is somewhere in the high 60s or low 70s for me, either … Continue reading Dale Earnhardt was an unknown — and unnoticed — when he first came to Talladega

Flashbacks to Final Fours: The event I revered more than any

It was the flashes that always stuck with me. The ball levitates from a referee’s hand at halfcourt, two tall guys jump toward the outskirts of heaven and the perpetual motion machine comes alive. And the flashes. Early days, it was thousands of Instamatic camera. Later, it was the built-in flash from thousands of cell … Continue reading Flashbacks to Final Fours: The event I revered more than any

On Howard Schenellenberger, a bowl upset and a tiresome blueprint

Hearing the news of Howard Schnellenberger’s death took me back to one of the biggest bowl upsets I ever covered. And looking back at the surroundings of that bowl game, it was a reminder of how much politics veers into sports – and how change sometimes feels imperceptible at best. Schnellenberger, who died at age … Continue reading On Howard Schenellenberger, a bowl upset and a tiresome blueprint

Mike Tyson, the persistent fighter who just won’t go away

Funny the odd things that stick out, looking back at something you covered more than 18 years ago. I remember the incongruity of a heavyweight boxing contender on stage at a press event, playing a game of chess against a seventh-grader named Carlos Harbert. This, when his opponent had most recently been in the news … Continue reading Mike Tyson, the persistent fighter who just won’t go away