Tuesday, January 16, 2018

About harassment and respect ... me, too

     It has taken many weeks, years, and thought to reach the point of writing this, and I was not harassed into doing it.
     That is not a funny line. And this blog piece is not about athletics.
      It is about an attitude, my attitude, toward other people, primarily women. And if you care to read on, I am going to trace that attitude to my last two years in elementary school, so that's only 60 years ago. 
      I can trace my "attitude" to a couple of women then -- a principal I respected greatly, a teacher I harassed constantly. It's the first remembrance I have of what was to be a lifelong pattern.
     The #MeToo has my attention and it provides an everyday reminder: Don't be an ass.
      Yes, me too. I have been harassed -- but not sexually, just mostly verbally. BUT mostly, I have been the harasser. 
      Verbal harassment, both toward men and women. Far too often. Physical harassment ... it has happened. 
      Sexual harassment, yes, to an extent. Depends on how you define it. If inappropriate touching -- innocently touching an arm, a hand, a face, a hug, a rub of the shoulders, to seem friendly -- and out-of-bounds comments are part of it ... then, yes.
       Wrong place, wrong time: oh, yeah.  
       Sexual abuse? I don't think so, but where is the line on "abuse?" If it's verbal, I am more than likely guilty of crossing that line.
       You don't need the details; I don't feel like sharing publicly. Not yet, probably not ever. (But if you want to have a private conversation, I will consider that.)
        Let me assure this: It has been painful -- for me, for my family, some friends and co-workers, and for those who I offended. Cannot undo the pain and the consequences. There is shame and embarrassment.
        But had to move on, and start over, and think about it, and get counseling, and try to do better. Haven't always changed the pattern.
        Certainly not bragging about this. No, this is apologizing for crass behavior. I have had to do that so many times.   
       These were not "power" plays, not with any kind of hold on or real threats to the other person(s). No, mostly, this was stupidity, immaturity, recklessness. Not a good reputation to build or have.
        And so, here I am today, at 70, still having to be reminded every day -- my own reminders and the #MeToo reminders. 
        My reminder: Keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself. Don't offend, don't be disrespectful, don't make others uncomfortable, don't be an ass.
       The women I mentioned above: Ruth Hughen, the school principal; Lyndall Tinnin, my sixth-grade teacher.
       Those of us who were kids at Sunset Acres all remember Mrs. Hughen. She was a legend. 
       She was an educator in Caddo Parish for nearly 50-plus years, the first principal at our school; she was there 15 years, but before that, she was principal at Parkview Elementary (a long foul ball from SPAR Stadium). In fact, I found a 1940 story and she was there then.
        Some who had her as a teacher will remember Mrs. Tinnin. 
        I wrote about them more than five years ago (see link at bottom) when remembering those Sunset Acres years. They are linked to this story.
        With the exception of the usual sibling squabbling -- my poor four-years-younger sister -- I do not remember being conscious of how to (not) treat others, male and female, until I was about 10 and, after a tough 1 1/2 years of adjustment from a foreign country to this one, going into fifth grade at Sunset Acres Elementary School.
         I was always a high-strung, nervous, temperamental kid, from early on. If it is what you grow up in, it's what you learn.
        (But let's be clear; I never learned harassment from my mother or my father. They were very respectful people.)
        In that fifth-grade year, I -- well -- kicked one girl (Pam) in the shin. Trip to the office. Got into a verbal spat with another girl (Diane). Trip to the office. Diane has never let me forget that one.
        But the teacher that year, Maxie Cooper, was a good one and took special care of a tiny, funny, zany, different kid trying to find his way in America. I liked her, respected her, minded her.
        On my trips to the office, Mrs. Hughen was a compassionate, calm counselor. She could read me, and she knew some of my family's background.
         Sixth grade, not so much fun. Mrs. Tinnin was a veteran teacher, and probably a good one. But we did not connect, and -- my fault -- I was a troublemaker. Talked too much, yelled too much, would not mind her, left the school ground a couple of times (the house was only a block and one turn away) ... and was sent to the office multiple times.
          I can remember her dismay and her often saying, "I beg your pardon ..."
         Again, Mrs. Hughen stayed cool and calm with my mother, who apologized profusely.
         Sunset Acres kids might be surprised because Mrs. Hughen had a stern outward persona. "I was scared of her," my friend Diane remembered last week, and I am sure that is how many kids felt.
        Anyway, I got through the year, but my harassment of Mrs. Tinnin was maybe the first example of how far a line I could cross.
        (Nothing sexual then, but at that time, my body was beginning puberty and I remember first being aware of "sex," a young man's fascination with the female body. So the mind went there often.) 
        It has taken a long, long, painful time -- and painful experiences -- to face up to a major issue.
         OK, here is my brain bounces. Knowing I have wanted to write about #MeToo and harassment for a while, I thought of this angle last week while Shreveport researching baseball history online (and on The Shreveport Times microfilm). Decided to try to find the obituaries for Mrs. Hughen and Mrs. Tinnin ... and did. It did not take long. They've both been gone for almost 25 years.
          I also found a March 24, 1985, story on Mrs. Hughen by Margaret Martin -- our old buddy from late 1960s/early 1970s days at The Times who is still writing interesting people-in-town/area stories/columns for the paper. 
          (I have included the two sections of the story).
          I knew the subject. I was there the night it happened. I told this story before, but it is pertinent here.
          Early in 1985, I saw in the paper that the Sunset Acres PTA was going to honor Mrs. Hughen with a "night." I was sports editor of the Shreveport Journal then, but I went to that night -- and she was as happy to see me as I was her.
          I thanked her again, best as I could, for being so kind and compassionate to me. So glad I got that chance.
          I was sorry that Mrs. Tinnin was not there that night. Don't think I ever saw her again after the spring of 1959, although she remained at Sunset Acres for another decade. 
          Never did apologize to her, and I should have ... many times. I saw in her obit that she has several grandchildren. If they somehow see this piece, please know that your grandmother was a good teacher and a fine woman (read the obit), and you should be proud. I am sure they are.
         So, harassment ...
         Darned right I am paying attention, and I identify, and (again) I apologize to those I offended. Don't know how to make it better other than to keep from repeating my actions. 
         We should not stop learning and never stop growing mentally, and that is a personal goal.
The obits: 
Mrs. Hughen (Nov. 15, 1992)
Mrs. Tinnin (Dec. 30, 1993) 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Time to film "Gamechanger: The Kenneth Harvey Story "

     Happy New Year to all, and a special salute to the people in Logansport, Louisiana -- one in particular -- because the first week of 2018 is going to be an exciting, interesting one there.
      It is time to begin filming the re-enactment scenes for Gamechanger: The Kenneth Harvey Story.
      Scene-shooting begins early Tuesday -- tomorrow, as this is being written -- and will continue through Friday.
      Starring -- who else? -- Kenneth Harvey. 
      Yes, more than 53 years after the football accident (brain stem contusion) that left him greatly paralyzed, he is still rolling through DeSoto Parish and Logansport, grateful for his long life, deeply devout, and about to play a huge role in the story of his life.
     And always an inspiration to all who know him.
      After a couple of years of community planning and fund-raising, Cynthia and Ben Freeman (the couple from Logansport now living in San Antonio) -- guiding forces for the project -- and producer/director Troy LeBlanc are ready for "action."
       LeBlanc is the founder and leader of Elyon Media, which -- as its website promotes -- is "a Christian, veteran-funded, Texas-based (San Antonio) multi-media production studio."
       They have the script ready. Last week LeBlanc was in Logansport for casting call meetings. The scenes will involve many people in the surrounding communities, etspecially for the crowd re-enactments (at a football game, at the "Kenneth Harvey Day" (October 30, 2009) and the dedication of the football stadium monument that honors him.
       Cynthia and Ben Freeman also were organizing leaders of that community endeavor, and -- with lots of help -- have pushed for this documentary.
       Kenneth, 70, has dealt with health issues that forced his move from his beloved longtime apartment in Logansport to an assisted living facility in nearby Mansfield. But he remains enthusiastic -- thankful for this attention -- and church-going. And now he's going to be a movie star.
       He, of course, will be featured near the end in the "Day" and monument-dedication scenes.
       But there will be several versions of Kenneth Harvey in the film, such as ...
       -- The 8-year-old learning to love basketball -- the Freemans' grandson Nico Senna (that's right, his name is Nico) coming in from where he and his parents live in California, can play that part because he is ambidextrous like Kenneth was early on;
       -- The high school student, a real star in basketball (his favorite sport) who decided to return for football in his senior year and was the Logansport Tigers' quarterback and a defensive back.
       -- The young Kenneth, going through a long, painful rehab process who, when he was reluctant, was goaded by younger brother Terry (who had physical disabilities) as "chicken."
       -- The middle-aged Kenneth, wheelchair-bound, a role that will be played by a 40ish Logansport man who also is wheelchair-bound and -- my opinion -- looks like Kenneth. 
       Ben and Cynthia Freeman will play themselves. John Russell, the Logansport bank executive who has been as much of a fund-raiser and organizer as the Freemans, has a role. 
       So does Linda Gamble, the late 1960s/early 1970s North Louisiana women's basketball legend -- a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee -- who befriended Kenneth when they both lived near Longview, Texas, in the 1970s. She is going to be "Mom."
         Another key role: Gay Straus, Kenneth's aunt -- his mother's sister -- who has looked after him for many years.
         Scenes will be filmed at Rusty's Diner in Logansport -- where Ben Freeman first thought of the "Kenneth Harvey Day" idea -- and the old Frosty Shop  hangout in town will be re-created. So will Kenneth's old home place and the basketball goal which his stepfather Hank set up for him.
         Old Logansport High burned, but the Central school of Grand Cane (not far away) -- Lin Gamble's high school -- looks like Kenneth's old school, so it will be used. 
Kenneth Harvey: Ready for a starring role
         For the fateful football scene, they will return to the old field where Kenneth and his team played -- long since replaced by a new stadium. And in a neat development, neighbor rival Many -- the opposing team on the night of November 13, 1964 -- will bring a delegation of players and fans (cheerleaders, etc.).
         So some scenes call for 1950s dress and cars, and plans are for a 1960s look in football jerseys and helmets.
         The producers want to fill the stands with people from the community. 
         The documentary film will be narrated by Rick Rowe, the KTBS-TV (Shreveport) feature reporter who has done slices-of-life pieces for almost four decades.
         If all goes well, the documentary film should be ready for its premiere in March, planned for the Rio Theatre in Center, Texas, about 20 minutes from Logansport.
          LeBlanc and the Freemans also plan to submit the film to the fifth annual Christian World View Film Festival in Franklin, Tennessee, in mid-March, with hopes that someone will be interested in further developing the story in a full-length feature film.
            So good luck to all involved and, Kenneth, play the role like the star you always have been. It's going to be a good year.   

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Thankful for many mentors and teachers, and here is one

     Her name is Willa Smith, and to me, she is a VIP. 
     Thinking of the people who have been mentors and teachers in my life, and how thankful I am for them.
      It covers a broad spectrum, beginning with parents and we mostly think of our school administrators, teachers (coaches) and our bosses as "mentors."
      But it's also our spouses, our friends, our co-workers, our kids and their friends, and now even our grandkids who can teach us.
      Really, if you're paying attention, and if your philosophy matches mine, you can (or should) learn something from most anyone you encounter. 
      I was thinking of some teachers and some fellow employees who -- frankly -- I did not enjoy. But perhaps they taught me about people skills, an area in which I had much to learn. 
      There is a long list of people, though, who were  important to me, personally and professionally. Forever grateful for them.
Willa Smith's photo from the yearbook section, 1965 Woodlawn High
 School Accolade (she was the main reason for outstanding yearbooks)
      This is often on my mind, and I could post names -- I have written about many -- but the incentive for the focus of this blog piece came several weeks ago when an old friend (which of our friends is not old?) asked about a particular teacher. She happened to be one of the key people in my first 18 years.
      Posted about her on Facebook and in e-mails -- to our Woodlawn High School friends -- after our conversation in mid-November, but I want to write more about Miss Willa Smith.
      She was not a journalism teacher per se, but she taught journalism principles which stuck with me forever. I will get to those in a moment.
      Part of the note I posted about her:
      ... Miss Smith was the excellent yearbook advisor (and also typing/shorthand teacher) at Woodlawn from its start in 1960 through May 1968. I have stayed in touch with her over the years ... but I had not talked to her in maybe five years (my fault). So I called her ... with trepidation, not knowing if she was even still alive.
      She is; she is 90, using a walker because she had both knees replaced at the same time, and then subsequently fell a couple of times, broke the femur in one of her legs and spent five months in a Hattiesburg hospital. She is back home now in Tylertown, Miss, and the last of her large immediate family (most lived into their mid-90s) and a sister-in-law live closeby.
      The good news: She is as sharp mentally as she always was. She is very proud and fond of her Woodlawn years, and those All-America-rated yearbooks -- and she should be.
      That was the note I posted. Here is more -- we had a good talk, and she remembered, and reminded me, that she shares a birthday (Oct. 23) with granddaughter Josie (our first grandchild). 
      She asked about Terry -- yes, Bradshaw -- and if I had seen him (other than on TV). The answer at that point was no, not in almost 30 years.
      The answer now is, yes, I was in the vicinity at the Frisco Bowl game last week when he was one of Louisiana Tech's honorary team captains and conducted the pregame coin toss in typical good Bradshaw humor. But he was on the field and I was in the stands, and that's as close as I needed to be. 
      About Miss Smith's teaching career: In the mid-1950s, she was at Covington, La., High School -- near her hometown. She then came to North Louisiana and was the yearbook advisor at Greenwood High School, just outside Shreveport. That school closed when Woodlawn opened, and we were so fortunate that she was part of what I consider an excellent Woodlawn faculty. 
      She stayed through the 1967-68 school year. It was the next year when Woodlawn won state championships in football and basketball; by then, she was back at Covington, having moved to be closer to her aging mother and more family.
      She retired after 31 years of teaching and said -- in a letter to me -- "took early retirement because [I] was exhausted after putting together 21 yearbooks while teaching hundreds of students."
      Through the years, we exchanged a few phone calls and a half-dozen letters -- not short notes -- and she reminded that she had kept them all (and so had I).
      Anyway, about Miss Smith and how she was a mentor ...
      First, she was so patient with everyone who worked on yearbook staffs. That trait I didn't pick up on all that often.
      (There was one day she was no so patient with me; I have written a blog piece about it. She was furious -- only time I ever saw her mad -- and ready to send me to the assistant principal in charge of discipline. But, dang -- a two-out, two-run tying Yankees home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a World Series Game 5. Who, even stowed away in a back room listening to a transistor radio, would not have reacted and screamed about that?)
      Second, she was so careful, so thorough, so focused on details, so aware of meeting (or beating) deadlines imposed by the yearbook publishing company. 
      The thoroughness included proper cropping of photos and strict layout rules that meant recognizing borders and no "bleeding" photos off a page, and a proofreading process to  eliminate most would-be mistakes -- misspellings, transposed words and/or photos. 
       So our final products were extremely "clean" -- organized, disciplined, sharp-looking -- efforts. Can't remember mistakes in those books through her eight  years there.
       When I wrote the "mistakes were made" blog piece a week ago, it was an example that Miss Smith's focus on excellence didn't always carry over. But we did our damndest always to prevent errors.
       That blog piece was about people's names being fouled up, misspelled. Miss Smith was a stickler about having names correct in the yearbooks, and properly identifying photos. So we double- and tripled-checked names, especially in the class-photos sections. Again, wish in later newspaper work, I had been more careful at times.
       Also, she insisted that a person's given name be used; no nicknames. So the guy everyone called Buster was Cecil in our yearbooks. But ... we did talk her into allowing the use of Trey -- star every-sport athlete and one of the best-known, most popular kids in school -- instead of (formal name) Henry Lee. Had to work hard to convince her of that.
        She had us count headlines to be sure that they were lengthy enough (one full line) and count the words in our copy block to fit the allotted space. 
        One principle that stuck with me: On cutlines (photo captions), don't let one or two words jump to the bottom line (no "widows" or "hangovers"). Same on paragraphs, if possible. An aesthetic aspect, but a good one. 
       Third, Miss Smith made yearbook work serious business. 
       She stressed -- I hesitate to use preached, although she is a deeply religious person -- (1) that yearbooks were history books, that the information contained would be reference material, and should be as accurate as possible; and (2) that these were not books for cuteness, for making fun of people, no "inside" jokes, or cutting out photos for collages (which you saw in many yearbooks). 
       I was never a "cute" writer anyway, but I do know some very talented, award-winning sports writers who were great at writing columns for laughs (and, honestly, often to please themselves).
       Miss Smith was dedicated to the task, and the kids, and it took hours on weekends to work with editors of each section -- including some eager-but-naive sports editors. 
       Serious business, yes. I might have been one of the great "light" cut-ups and a raging maniac at times in every sports department I was in; ah, no "might" about it. But also, journalism -- newspapers or sports information -- and effort for excellence was serious business to me. (So was winning in athletics, or making the best effort.)
       It was a close-knit family in Tylertown -- seven children -- and it was steeped in military service, religious service and teaching. Family reunions were special.
       Miss Smith's three brothers all served as pilots in the military. The oldest was a fighter-plane pilot who flew 72 missions over Europe in World War II, later was a Mississippi state representative. The second-oldest was a bomber pilot killed in World War II. The youngest, with 20 years in the military, served in Korea and flew helicopters in Vietnam.
A few years ago
       One sister taught high school math for 40 years (her husband was a coach); another sister taught business education, then went to the Baptist seminary to earn a master's degree and, with her Baptist pastor husband, completed decades of service with 17 years at a church in Alabama. 
       Her closest sister was Alda, who taught at Queensborough Elementary in Shreveport for nine years while our Miss Smith was at Greenwood and Woodlawn. They each remained single, went back to South Louisiana -- Alda also taught elementary school in Covington -- so they could be with their mother each weekend in Tylertown. When she died, they went to live in the old family home.
       They each proudly worked on the historical committee of their lifelong Silver Creek Baptist Church in nearby McComb, Miss., which reached its 200th anniversary in 2014, and they helped organize the celebration.
       Alda died that year. Near the end, she finished compiling the Smith family genealogy book, which her four-years-younger sister appreciated.
       Willa Lee, thankfully, goes on. A sister-in-law who lives nearby checks on her. It is not easy for her to move around, but our friend Miss Smith never lacked for smarts, spirit, drive and determination. 
       And I know some old Woodlawn kids who have never forgotten what excellence meant, what a teacher and a mentor meant to us, and still does.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Getting the names right (well, not always)

     When I hear or see the phrase "mistakes were made," if it pertains to journalism, I think of two names: John David Crowe and Charles McDaniels. 
     Make note of them. There's a catch. Get to it in a moment. 
     When I read a story or a book -- especially in the sports realm -- and I see a name that is misspelled or a fact that is obviously wrong, it reminds me that accuracy counts ... a lot.
     Personally, there have been some big misses, some big -- pardon the language -- dumbass moments. Easy to remember.
     Pointed out in a previous blog how once upon a time, I mixed up the names of coaches at the same school (Taylor for Turner at one, Sardisco for Cicero at another). Hey, it happens. 
     I recently saw segments in a couple of books that pertained to two of Woodlawn High School's greatest athletes, Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Parish, which prompted this blog piece. 
     Saw some fact errors -- plenty, in fact, especially on names in a book published on Terry this year (I had several written and phone exchanges with the writer). Bugs me. 
Drop headline and top of the game story from the
1953 Byrd-Springhill game which Bill McIntyre of
The Shreveport Times considered the best high
school football game he covered. But "Crowe"
is incorrect.
     But then ... let's go back to the top, to those names -- Crowe and McDaniels. 
     They are wrong; they are misspelled. 
     People from Springhill -- and most old North Louisiana football fans -- will recognize them instantly. They are two of the greatest running backs ever from the old Springhill High School, the Lumberjacks.
     (The school now is called  North Webster High -- a consolidation of kids from Springhill, and the disbanded Shongaloo, Sarepta and Cotton Valley high schools. They even changed school colors and team nicknames. What's worse, it's the Knights ... even though North Louisiana already had some Knights.)
      OK, back to Crow and McDaniel. Those are the correct spellings. 
      The late John David Crow, a legend -- who went on to Texas A&M (and the Heisman Trophy) and the NFL and a terrific coaching/administrative career.
      Charles McDaniel, the legendary "Quick Six" who went on to an outstanding four-year career at Louisiana Tech and was an NFL Draft pick. 
      Here is the catch (and I have known this for years, but because of my first newspaper allegiance, I am just now publishing this fact, admitting it): Throughout their years at Springhill High, The Shreveport Times sports department never spelled their last names correctly.
      It's true. 
      In 1952, when John David Crow as a junior led Springhill to its first state football championship, and again in his great 1953 senior season -- when he was among the nation's top college recruits -- he was always Crowe in The Times. 
 Class AAA All-State story, 1970: McDaniels is there.
      And in 1970, the first year many high schools and their football programs in North Louisiana were largely integrated, McDaniel emerged as a running back who was a threat to  break for a touchdown any time he touched the ball ... thus, a "quick six."
      But all season, he was McDaniels in The Times. You can look it up. I did because that's what I remembered and I wanted to verify it.
      I wrote a lot about him that season, including the state semifinals loss (to Hammond) at Springhill's stadium, located just a couple of first downs from the Arkansas/Louisiana state line.
      In fact, I'd like to take credit for the "Quick Six" nickname. However, that is a stretch.
      What happened was that in the Nov. 8 game story on Springhill's 27-0 victory against Jesuit-Shreveport at Captain Shreve Stadium (a rare Saturday night regular-season high school game), I wrote that future opponents should "beware of the Lumberjacks' "quick six" gang, halfbacks Charles McDaniels and James Harris. They can score on you, and it doesn't take long."
      So not Charles specifically.
      Apparently, the name caught on at Springhill High. Someone, some group -- maybe the cheerleaders -- liked it, and pinned on McDaniel alone. The next week, we heard there were "Quick Six" banners strung at the Lumberjacks' game.
      From then on, he was "Quick Six." He wore jersey No. 36 that season at Springhill, but at Louisiana Tech for four years, he -- appropriately -- wore No. 6.
     As a freshman, he broke the Tech  record for points in one season (104, 17 TDs and one PAT catch), broke it three years later, and scored 52 career TDs (some "quick sixes").
      A puzzling aspect of the misspelled names: In 1952, The Times' main prep sports writer was Bill McIntyre, who a decade later became sports editor/lead columnist and -- full disclosure -- was my first boss there. He was an excellent journalist and writer, but, well, he missed on John David Crow's name.
     In 1970, I was a guilty part on McDaniel(s). Did have company; the rest of the writers who covered Springhill that season also missed it.
     Even in the All-State stories, the names are spelled Crowe and McDaniels. In the late Jerry Byrd's book Football Country, where he lists All-State teams near the back, it's McDaniels in 1970. But he did have Crow in 1952 and 1953.
     Can't understand this: Apparently no one from Springhill ever called to correct matters, in 1952-53 or 1970.
     And, I'm thinking that the names were misspelled on the Springhill rosters that were provided to us, on preseason forms and in game programs. Plus, the coaches (Billy Baucum was head coach in 1952-53, Travis Farrar was in 1970) never said a word.
     How's that for an excuse?
     Anyway, when John David showed up at Texas A&M for the 1954 football season, he was Crow. When "Quick Six" came to Louisiana Tech in the fall of 1971, he was McDaniel. 
     So, on Crowe and McDaniels, mistakes were made. And, for every co-worker that I scolded, or yelled at, or hurled an object their way (plus some nice language), because they messed up a fact or a name (or a bunch of names), I apologize -- again.
     I was going to list the names and the newspapers, but I don't have enough space.
     There were mistakes/omissions, too, in the book Survivors: 62511, 70726 about my parents and my family, and I received corrections/clarifications that I posted on the book's Facebook page.
     Mistakes are made. Can't always hide from them.                    

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tech's second bowl game: a long day in Baton Rouge

          (This was written for the Louisiana Tech sports information department as part of its bowl package)
      To start, two significant factors about Louisiana Tech's second football bowl game: (1) It was Terry Bradshaw's final college game; (2) he was sacked 12 times for 143 yards.
      That should tell you something about how the game went. It was a long Saturday afternoon for the 1969 Tech Bulldogs.
     Oh, there were similarities with Tech's first bowl game, played 364 days earlier:
      -- It was still called the Grantland Rice Bowl, although the site had changed ... from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to Baton Rouge, La.
      -- It again was the NCAA College Division Mideast Regional game (no playoffs beyond that, though).
      -- It was another powerful Tech team (8-1 regular-season record, with an excruciating one-point loss), even better than the year before (8-2, with a six-game winning streak).
      -- And Bradshaw was still the Tech quarterback, the star attraction.
      He was the College Division All-America QB (an honor announced the previous week), and considered by many the best at his position in the country, regardless of classification. And that included the NFL talent scouts who saw him as a potential high first-round draft pick.   
      The most notable similarity: The final result was a 20-point margin. But this time Tech -- a 33-13 winner against the University of Akron on Dec. 14, 1968 -- was a 34-14 loser.
      Because, in a significant difference, this opponent -- East Tennessee State -- obviously was much stronger, an unbeaten, once-tied team that had won the Ohio Valley Conference championship. 
      Didn't matter that the "experts" -- primarily the Dunkel Power Index -- had Tech as a 14-point favorite coming in. ETSU had won games by 2, 4, 6 and 2 points; Tech had only one narrow escape (a 1-point victory). Results against two common opponents made Tech appear as the much stronger team.
      Prediction fiction.
      No, ETSU had a heralded, ball-hawking defense which had held seven opponents to no more than seven points. (More on that unit in a moment.)
      Turned out it had no fear of a Tech team that had averaged 35.2 points a game -- a school record that stood for 29 years -- and was boosted by one 77-point game. ETSU's speed and aggressiveness proved too much for the Bulldogs, and even Bradshaw.
      From almost start (Bradshaw was sacked for a 19-yard loss on his first play) to finish (Terry sacked on his final three  plays, for 9, 14 and 14 yards), not much went right for Tech.
      Maybe Bradshaw had tougher days in a 14-year NFL career and was treated more roughly -- such as 1976 when Cleveland defensive end Joe "Turkey" Jones slammed him on his head and neck, causing a concussion and sidelining him for a few weeks. He was sacked 307 times in the pros, but likely never more in one game than this one.
      Still, despite all the harassment and some mistakes, he stood in and showed his talent, completing 20 of 39 passes for 299 yards and the Bulldogs' only two TDs, and -- briefly in the third quarter -- leading a Tech comeback and hopes for a victory.
      Bill McIntyre, The Shreveport Times sports editor/lead columnist, reflected Terry's status in his postgame column.
      The second paragraph read: "You get a Terry Bradshaw every three or four decades, maybe. You don't get one very often. A Y.A. Tittle comes wheeling through Louisiana football in the '40s and you get a Terry Bradshaw in the late '60s. Probably a Joe Ferguson in the early '70s, but you don't get one very often."
      He went on to write about Bradshaw's travails that afternoon, including an injured leg near the end of the game.
      And, in his game story, McIntyre turned to a cliche'-filled paragraph to describe the scene: "Bradshaw, the finest passer ever produced in Louisiana, was the boy caught on the burning deck as the Pirates climbed aboard. He was the kid with his finger in the dike and the water swirling around his shoulders."
      Actually, ETSU was the Buccaneers; its defensive players -- the "Hardrock Club" -- were rewarded for good deeds with skull and crossbones decals (the pirate theme) on their helmets. In this game, they could have used an extra supply.
      (Both teams' helmets also included a "100" logo, emblematic that season of college football's 100th anniversary.)
      Not only was it Bradshaw's finale, but so, too, for his fellow seniors who had helped resurrect Tech's program in the 1968 season after a couple of down years.
      The group included split end Tommy Spinks (Bradshaw's teammate and close friend since junior high in Shreveport), tight end Larry Brewer, offensive tackle Butch Williams and defensive tackle Johnny Richard -- all all-conference selections -- plus others such as fullback Buster Herren, center John Harper (a team tri-captain with Bradshaw and Spinks), speedy wide receiver Robbie Albright, safety Ricky Taylor, running back  Dwain Istre and punter Butch Troegel.
      But there were rumors ...
      In the game's aftermath, and maybe beforehand, word was that Tech's players -- after a long, hard season -- voted to refuse the bowl bid. Head coach Maxie Lambright, his program fully functional in his third season at Tech, wasn't having that. 
      Another factor: the site of the game. Baton Rouge perhaps wasn't the players' idea of an ideal bowl trip.
      For its first five years, the Grantland Rice Bowl had been played in Murfreesboro, hometown of America's most famous sportswriter. The bowl was named for him. 
      But as Tech's team and fans well knew, the weather in Murfreesboro the day of the game in 1968 had been brutal (snow flurries and a wind that brought the chill to near 0 degrees) and the attendance at Middle Tennessee State University's old stadium had been estimated at 600.
      So when Baton Rouge and its downtown Lions Club bid for the game, the NCAA was happy to move it. (Why it remained the Grantland Rice Bowl at the new site is hard to explain, but it remained that way through 1977 and two more host cities -- Fargo, N.D., and Anniston, Ala.) 
      Now the site was Memorial Stadium, Baton Rouge's best high school stadium, a no-frills facility just off downtown in the long shadow of the majestic Louisiana State Capitol building. It seated 22,000 -- and this game, on a beautiful mid-50 degrees afternoon for football, drew 16,101 paid spectators.
      But that stadium ...
      "Some of the players, and even some of the coaches, were not enthused about a bowl game in Baton Rouge," remembered Tech offensive backfield coach Mickey Slaughter, Bradshaw's coaching mentor in 1967-69. "We knew what Memorial Stadium was like, and playing there didn't seem the preferable place to end a very good season."
      And, as Slaughter recalled, "They had had a circus there the week or two before that game, and the smell was still just awful."
      About a circus and the smell, that was a fit for Tech football that day.
      It was 13-0 at halftime. A zero for a Tech team that had scored no fewer than 23 points in any game.
      The Bulldogs never caught up, although they closed to 13-7 and later 20-14. At the end of the third quarter, they were on the ETSU 34 with a chance to take the lead.
      Typical of the day: On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bradshaw was blitzed and tackled for an 18-yard loss. Tech ended up punting, and then its defense sank.
      The omen, though, came on Tech's first offensive play and series.
      ETSU defensive end Ron Mendheim (No. 89) introduced himself right away, closing on Bradshaw as he dropped back to pass and then retreated on his scramble ... and Mendheim chased him down from behind. So second-and-29, and it got worse.
      Terry completed two passes in a row to Istre, for 13 yards (nullified by a motion penalty) and then a 35-yard gain (brought back by a clipping penalty). On Tech's fifth play, Mendheim was back, blindsiding Bradshaw and causing him to fumble. ETSU recovered at Tech's 17, and soon scored.
      By halftime, Mendheim had five sacks, and Bradshaw had avoided another sack (and a 24-yard loss) with a desperate throw. Intercepted.
      Another pass, deflected, was picked off, too. So was a third one.
      But, considering ETSU's 34 interceptions in the regular season, it fit a pattern. The Bucs' defense was known as "Bennett's Bandits" in honor of secondary coach Buddy Bennett.
      "We made that guy famous nationally," Slaughter recently recalled, laughing. "Well, if not nationally, maybe just in the deep South."
      Indeed. The next year Bennett was the secondary coach for the Tennessee Vols and first-year head coach Bill Battle. An unheralded secondary improved rapidly, intercepted 36 passes (eight against Alabama) -- the "Bennett's Bandits" nickname had moved to Knoxville -- and then four more in a 34-13 Sugar Bowl victory against Air Force, capping an 11-1 season. And the following season, 1971, Bennett became defensive coordinator for Frank Broyles at Arkansas.
     More early offensive misery for Tech: After the Bulldogs recovered an ETSU fumble on a punt at the 30, Herren caught a flare pass from Bradshaw, but fumbled the ball away at the ETSU 10. (Buster later did go in for Tech's first TD on an 8-yard pass.)
      Meanwhile, ETSU broke two significant offensive plays -- a 37-yard halfback option pass that completely fooled Tech's defense for the game's second TD, and just after the Bulldogs' first score, a 61-yard run (longest in NCAA College Division bowl history then) by Jerry Daughtry to the Tech 1. 
      "When No. 44 (Daughtry) broke loose on that simple little dive play," Bradshaw said after the game, "and ran all the way to the 1-yard line, that mentally broke us."
      Except it didn't; Terry misfired on that recall. Because he rallied Tech again for its second score on a 19-yard pass to old buddy Spinks late in the third quarter. 
      Tech's top receivers -- who had totaled 94 catches for 1,854 yards in the regular season (Spinks 46 for 995, Brewer 30 for 357, and Albright 18 for 502) -- had decent days vs. ETSU: Brewer five catches for 111 yards, Spinks five for 76, and Albright four for 72. Didn't matter.
      The last quarter was all ETSU, drives of 88 and 44 yards, capped with touchdown passes by Larry Grantham for 33 and 18 yards. Ballgame.
      Proof that Tech made a lot of little plays: It led in first downs, 17-15. But the Bucs' total-yardage edge was big (419-256) and their 245 rushing yards was 14 short of the then-NCAA College Division bowl record.
     Tech assistant coach Pat Collins, then the linebackers coach and later the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame/national championship head coach at Northeast Louisiana, summed up the game in his usual direct, salty manner:
      "They just flat beat the hell out of us," he told an Alexandria Town Talk reporter covering the game. Slaughter, standing nearby, nodded in agreement.  
      Lambright was more low-key, as was his media manner.
      "East Tennessee State was the best team out there today," he said. "They are a fine, fine team. ... I didn't think anybody could get to Terry as many times as they did." 
      He specified ETSU's third-down success as a key. "They made their big plays, and we didn't," he said. "It was as simple as that."
      That, and a dozen sacks, three interceptions and two lost fumbles, and a leaky defense.

    Bradshaw afterward was disheveled, battered and bruised -- red welts were evident -- as he shed his grass-stained white jersey in the quiet Tech dressing room. He appeared to have been on the losing end of a fight.
     Moments after speaking with general manager Don Klosterman of the Houston Oilers, he faced the surrounding media.
      "Most of the time they blitzed on second down," he said of the ETSU defense. "I thought I had picked up a key, but the way they were jumping around, it was hard to tell what they were going to do."
      Then he reflected on the past four years.
      "I've had a great career at Tech," he said. "I just hate to lose the last game. I hate to lose any game."
      But the game proved -- if there was doubt -- that Terry could take a beating and keep playing, and Klosterman voiced what NFL teams were thinking.
      "We want him," he said. "We think he is one of the greatest pro prospects to ever come along. We just hope we get a chance to draft him." 
      Picking 14th, they had no chance. A little more than six weeks later, after Bradshaw had played in a couple of all-star games (one with Spinks and Brewer as teammates), the Pittsburgh Steelers made him the No. 1 overall pick. 
      Terry would go through two difficult losing seasons in the NFL, but by his third year the Steelers were in the playoffs and soon winning four Super Bowls in six seasons, and he was on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
      Louisiana Tech football would sink badly in 1970, then hit its greatest era -- 44-4, three national championships -- from 1971 to '74. (That included a 12-0 record in 1972 and another Grantland Rice Bowl at, yes, Memorial Stadium in Baton Rouge, and a 35-0 victory against Tennessee Tech. That one didn't smell.)
      For East Tennessee State, it never before or since had a season like 1969 -- its only season without a loss. Under respected coach John Robert Bell, the Bucs were very good again the next year (7-1-2), but winless in 1971. After that, only once in 35 seasons did they win more than seven games, and interest in the program waned so badly that the university dropped football after the 2003 season. 
      After 11 dormant years, ETSU fielded a team again in 2015; its head coach until Dec. 8 this year was Carl Torbush, a Louisiana Tech assistant in the early 1980s, then head coach for one year (1987).
      But on one December 1969 afternoon in Baton Rouge, ETSU had its finest football hours. And Louisiana Tech -- in Terry Bradshaw's last stand -- had a game to forget. If only we could. 
      Note: From 1965 to spring 1969, I was student assistant in Louisiana Tech's sports information office. The fall of 1969 was my first fulltime football season at The Shreveport Times.
      Photos copied from Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Dec. 14, 1969.