Leland Stein III

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Big 10 sends nine teams to 2019-20 Bowl Games

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2019 at 3:58 am


Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin earn berths in College Football Playoff bowls

 ROSEMONT, Ill. – Nine Big Ten schools were selected for bowl competition on Sunday, highlighted by a trio of conference teams that received invitations to College Football Playoff bowls.

Ohio State was the No. 2 seed in the final CFP rankings and will face third-seeded Clemson in the CFP National Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 29 in Glendale, Ariz.

Penn State and Wisconsin also earned CFP bowl berths, with the Badgers bound for the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, and the Nittany Lions selected for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.


The full Big Ten bowl lineup is as follows (final CFP rankings are listed):

 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff National Semifinal)

  • No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
  • Dec. 28, 2019 – 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Glendale, Ariz. (State Farm Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Fiesta Bowl for the 12th time
  • Ohio State is making its 50th bowl appearance, including its ninth trip to the Fiesta Bowl (first since 2016)

 Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual (New Year’s Six Bowl)

  • No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Oregon
  • Jan. 1, 2020 – 5:10 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Pasadena, Calif. (Rose Bowl Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Rose Bowl for the 71st time
  • Wisconsin is making its 31st bowl appearance, including its 10th trip to the Rose Bowl (first since 2012)

 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (New Year’s Six Bowl)

  • No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 17 Memphis
  • Dec. 28, 2019 – Noon ET (ESPN)
  • Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Cotton Bowl for the fifth time
  • Penn State is making its 60th bowl appearance, including its 20th as a member of the Big Ten; the Nittany Lions are making their fourth trip to the Cotton Bowl (first since 1974)

VRBO Citrus Bowl

  • No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 13 Alabama
  • Jan. 1, 2020 – 1 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Orlando, Fla. (Camping World Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Citrus Bowl for the 28th time
  • Michigan is making its 48th bowl appearance; the Wolverines are making their fifth trip to the Citrus Bowl (first since 2015)

 Outback Bowl

  • No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn
  • Jan. 1, 2020 – 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Tampa, Fla. (Raymond James Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Outback Bowl for the 31st time
  • Minnesota is making its 21st bowl appearance, including its second trip to the Outback Bowl (formally the Hall of Fame Bowl)

 San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

  • No. 16 Iowa vs. No. 22 Dec. 27, 2019 – 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • San Diego, Calif. (SDCCU Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Holiday Bowl for the 14th time
  • Iowa is making its 33rd bowl appearance, including its fourth trip to the Holiday Bowl

 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

  • Tennessee vs. Indiana
  • Jan. 2, 2020 – 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Jacksonville, Fla. (TIAA Bank Field)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Gator Bowl for the 12th time
  • Indiana is making its 12th bowl appearance and first since 2016; the Hoosiers will play in the Gator Bowl for the first time

 New Era Pinstripe Bowl

  • Michigan State vs. Wake Forest
  • Dec. 27, 2019 – 3:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Bronx, N.Y. (Yankee Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Pinstripe Bowl for the sixth time
  • Michigan State is making its 29th bowl appearance, while this will be the Spartans’ first-ever trip to the Pinstripe Bowl

 Redbox Bowl

  • Illinois vs. California
  • Dec. 30, 2019 – 4 p.m. ET (FOX)
  • Santa Clara, Calif. (Levi’s Stadium)
  • A Big Ten school will play in the Redbox Bowl for the seventh time
  • Illinois is making its 19th bowl appearance, while this will be the Fighting Illini’s second trip to the Redbox Bowl (formally known as the Fight Hunger Bowl)

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Leland Stein III

Lochte: Reality versus real reality. iGeneration and some of the Millennials take notice.

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm


By Leland Stein III

First the Millennials and now Gen Z (also known as iGeneration or Homeland Generation) are unfortunately engulfed by the unreality of life.

me at USA basketball

Leland Stein III

When I say reality, I am not talking about Webster’s definition, but in today’s literal sense. USA’s decorated swimmer Ryan Lochte, 32, is a victim of the Reality TV generation, or should I say cohort. After all he did have a Reality TV show of his own, and that probably has distorted his real sense of what is reality.

Somewhere along the lifeline he forgot what is real and what a reality show is. I do not completely blame him, but I do blame the iGeneration and some of the Millennials for his warped sense of reality. Then again it is not all their fault, it is the present American culture that is spewing negatives on how to engage one’s fellow human in discourse and how to elevate one’s life monetarily.

The fact of the matter is today’s TV Reality Shows do not help those generations engage positively in conflict resolution management, or help them understand reality versus . . ., or simply what is a real methodology to uplift one’s life. It is all too easy to lie, scream, fabricate, and fight one’s way to glory.

Lochte originally said he and three other USA swimmers were robbed at gunpoint during a taxi ride back to the Olympic Village last Sunday. He got fellow swimmers Jack Conger 21, Gunnar Bentz 20 and James Feigen 26, caught up in the web of deceit that Lochte expounded to all that would listen.

Soon after Lochte’s account of getting robbed, it was quickly disputed by Brazilian authorities who said their investigation revealed an altercation had occurred between the swimmers and security guards at a gas station.

Lochte’s robbery story then went from unbelievable to simply not believable.

Why would Lochte fabricate such a story when he was already a celebrity. Well, it is just his generation that seeks its fame any way it can, truth be dammed.

He initially told NBC News that he and his teammates were returning home from a party when they were robbed at gunpoint by men who appeared to be police officers. Lochte said the gun was held to his head and he refused the assailants’ order to get on the ground — while the other three complied. Wow, he made himself out to be the tough guy and hero in his fabrication.

But the facts soon presented itself as security cameras showed the swimmers were stopped by security after they vandalized a bathroom (kicking in a door, tearing things off the wall and peeing anywhere). When the security guard reportedly asked the men to pay for the damages, the swimmers allegedly resisted, leading to the security guard to draw his gun and demand payment.

The security guard took the money and let the guys go.

Wow, end of story! No police and no press involved. They should have been happy as pigs in slop. But oh no, Lochte tells his mother that lie of a story that makes him look like a victim and hero.

Wrote an AP reporter from Rio: “Lochte’s conceit intersected with a delicate political issue, and it made a perfect storm. His claim to NBC that men posing as police pulled over the taxi and he heroically resisted the robbers with a gun pressed to his forehead was an especially ludicrous detail — and the very thing that drew the attention of authorities, who know full well that anyone who defies a bandit in Rio gets shot on the spot, and they don’t leave you with your cellphone.”

Sure Rio has some crime issues, just like the United States, and with the entire world there and millions more around the word watching, Brazil took the lie personal, and rightfully so.

Lochte was able to depart from Rio following the incident, but Bentz and Conger were pulled off their return flight for questioning. The two arrived back on U.S. soil a couple days later after paying a fine and finally telling the truth to police officials.

It is hard to wrap my mind around why would a person lie like that to the world? It goes back to the reality generation and it in quest for notoriety. “Just Do It” not matter the cost to others, in this case an entire country (Brazil), the USOC, and Lochte’s teammates.

Lochte issued a half butt apology that was weak as water.

He wrote: “It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that I am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event.”

Lochte’s traumatize in another country? Well, he has traveled the entire world for years and knows how to handle himself. He never mentioned in his apology the vandalism he engaged in or simply said he lied. There wasn’t a robbery or gun to his head or police in a cab or sideswiped by the robbers or the others were put on the ground at gun point while he stood tall and challenged the assailants. It never happened!!

Fernando Veloso, the Rio Civil Police chief, said that Lochte had “stained” the city by inventing a crime that didn’t happen.

Said a USOC spokesperson: “On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence.”

What a reality lesson for Millennials and the iGeneration who believes yelling, screaming, lying, self-aggrandizement and winning at any cost are the ways to elevate one’s station in life.

It is strange because the Millennials and iGeneration work hard, educate themselves and want things; however, there methodologies to achieve their aims are out of whack.

Lochte is a poster boy for self-first, wanting the spotlight and juvenilism. Reality versus reality is getting lost in this generation and nothing good will come from it.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII


Women hurdlers have fought a long history of discrimination

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2016 at 5:12 pm


hurdlersUSA Women 100-meter hurdlers make history, sweeping the medal count in Rio 2016.

By Leland Stein III

The USA’s men have dominated the sprint hurdles (110-meters) since the start of the modern Games in 1896 Athens. In fact, starting in 1948 London through 1960 Rome, the US men swept all three medals like our women just accomplished at Rio 2016. During that absolutely dominating span, the US men were led by gold medalist like Harrison Dillard, Lee Calhoun (two golds), and Hayes Jones. They were simply amazing.

Ironically the USA men fail to medal in the 110’s at Rio 2016 for the first time since 1896, but the ladies led by Brianna Rollins (gold), Nia Ali (silver) and Kristi Castlin (bronze) swept the 100-meter hurdles for the first time in Olympic history. The ladies somewhat took the sting off the men’s hurdling goose egg of medals.

To show you how sexist the IAAF (Track & field world governing body) were against women athletes, the ladies could not run the hurdles at all until 1932 and then they only let them compete over 80-meters. The men limited the ladies at 80 until 1969 (when it was changed to 100) and did not let the ladies run in the Olympics until 1972. Women were not allowed to run the 400-meter hurdles until, can you believe this, the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

Oh I can just hear those old men saying: “Those fragile women cannot jump over a hurdle for that many meters. They will break something or pass out.” Oh how wrong they were. I have been married for 34-years and I can attest to my wife not being fragile. She is strong and passionate about the things she cares about.

Starting at the first women’s Olympic 100 hurdle race in 1972 Munich Games, the US women could not break through until 1984 L.A. Games, where Benita Fitzgerald became the first American women to win gold. It took 20-years, but she was finally followed by one of my former students, Joanna Hayes, at the 2004 Athens Games and Dawn Harper at the 2008 Beijing Games. Now at Rio 2016 Games these three amazing ladies have done what has never been done before, sweep. It is remarkable considering the US women have had to battle mightily for international supremacy for the 100 hurdles medals.

Women around the world are showing the full folly and ignorance of the capabilities of women athletes for far too long by the IAAF suits. Keep it going ladies!!!

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Watkins Award celebrates scholar athletes

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2016 at 3:20 am

Watkins Award celebrates scholar athletes

By Leland Stein III

WASHINGTON DC – Recently the National Alliance of African American Athletes (The Alliance) hosted its 25th Annual Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award at a Black Tie Gala hosted at the prominent Renaissance Hotel in the District of Columbia, which just so happens to be the seat of the United States Government.

watkins and sign

Brandon Hill (Duke), Brandon Burton (UCLA), Messiah deWeaver (Michigan State University), and Dwayne Haskins Jr. (The Ohio State University). – John Paige – Photo

Annually, the Watkins Award honors the premier African-American scholar-athletes and is the most celebrated award of its kind in the United States.

The Watkins Award selection process implemented by a selection committee of scholars from around the country painstakingly narrowed its noteworthy applicants down to an “Elite Four.”

After an exhaustive nation-wide selection process that saw the “Elite Four” produce official transcripts, document their athletic prowess, emit comprehensive essays, supply at least three letters of recommendation, demonstrate community and school service, and, the result of their efforts and accomplishments were that they were brought to Washington DC and feted in a Heisman like affair at the Renaissance Hotel.

Leland Stein III

The Watkins Award is a method for recognizing exceptionally talented African-American male athletes who, by their example, help promote high academic standards and a commitment to community service. But most importantly, destroy the perceived stereotype that African-American males are just athletes, who do not value education.

Brought to Washington DC, four of the nation’s top high school scholar/athletes yoked themselves to the noteworthy already-large fraternity of Watkins scholars, who just so happen to be All-American athletes.

“I was a Watkins Scholar Athlete,” keynote speaker Myron Rolle exclaimed, who played at Florida State and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar. “These young me are a continuance of what the Watkins Award stands for – athletes with a real focus on scholarship.”

Added Everette Pearsall, Executive Director of The Alliance: “The 2016 Watkins Award scholars features an incredible year of fine student athletes. Each of these young men are well equipped for success academically. We are proud that we are continuing to recognize and honor the premier African-American scholar/athletes.”

About the move to Washington DC after eight years in Los Angeles, Pearsall explained: “This is our third year in DC and it had has been incredible. The city has embraced the Watkins Award and we have built a weekend that gives back to the youth in the city.  The Alliance looks forward to growing here for years to come.  This group of Watkins Men were very special. They quickly embraced the concept of becoming a member of the Watkins Family and bonded like I have never seen before.  I look forward to watching them grow closer and making  all of us proud to be in  the Watkins Family.”

This year’s “Elite Four” are:

Brandon Burton, from Los Angeles, CA is headed to UCLA. He is a six time Honor Roll Recipient, member of the Living in Faith Experience Team, and is an Under Armour Football All American while maintaining a 3.7 GPA at Junipero Serra High School.

Messiah deWeaver, out of Dayton, Ohio is already at Michigan State University. He is a National Honor Society scholar, two time State Champion, All State, and Semper Fidelis Football All American while maintaining a 4.0 GPA at Wayne High School.

Dwayne Haskins Jr., raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland on his way to The Ohio State University. He is a four year Honor Roll student, 2015 Gatorade State Player of the Year, All State, and Under Armour Football All American while maintaining a 3.5 GPA at the Bullis School.

Brandon Hill from Orangeburg, South Carolina signed with Duke. He is a two time All-State player, SCISA Student Athlete of the Year, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.

This year’s Watkins collective “Elite Four” is exceptional in every sense of the word. All are All-American athletes who continue to dispel the lingering notion that most African-American male student/athletes are not concerned with education, only the playing fields. They all combine scholarship, athleticism, community awareness and volunteerism to form at their young age the character of developing men that are primed to take a place in society as more than just athletes.

Besides the Watkins Finalist being acknowledged, others were also feted.

The Sharon Love Ransom Community Service Award was given to Ron T. Peoples of the Peoples Community Foundation.

The NFLPA’s Washington Chapter of Former Players Professional Athletes Foundation Scholarships was extended to Emma Bunker of Randolph-Macon Academy and Damani Hamm of C.H. Flower High School.

The Watkins Man of the Year was earned by Ben Tate, a Watkins Award finalist in 2006 and five-year NFL veteran.

The Watkins Award has been presented annually to African American scholar-athletes since 1992. Previous award winners include Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston of Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rhodes Scholar Rolle, Justin Blalock, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arrelious Benn formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ted Ginn Jr of the Carolina Panthers, Lorenzo Alexander of the Oakland Raiders, Marcedes Lewis of Jacksonville Jaguars, Darnell Dinkins, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, LaVar Arrington, formerly of the Washington Redskins, Joseph Barksdale of the San Diego Chargers, Grant Irons and Ronald Curry formerly of the Oakland Raiders to name a few.

The National Alliance of African American Athletes was founded in 1989.  The mission of The Alliance is to empower African American males through athletics, education and public programs.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and at Twitter at LelandSteinIII



Denver’s defense gets defensive against Carolina

In sports column, Uncategorized on February 8, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Newton storms out of press conference.

Denver D

Cam Newton felt the heat from Denver’s defense. Gary Montgomery – photo


By Leland Stein III

SANTA CLARA, Ca – Coming into Levi Stadium for Super Bowl 50 two giant photos grabbed my attention. Displayed enormously were giant photos of quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Cam Newton.

Their massive photos only reaffirmed what I already knew, and that is, the NFL is a quarterbacks’ league. It is safe tme at USA basketballo say signal callers are the most important players on the field, and, generally teams that win consistently have one thing in common: an elite quarterback.

Well, Super Bowl 50 indeed had elite quarterbacks; however, this contest showcased elite defenses as the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos each fielded what many note were the two best defensive squads in the league.

The first half of the game both defensives just dominated. In fact, Denver scored its only touchdown after a monster hit and strip by Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, that was recovered in the end zone by defensive end Malik Jackson giving the Broncos a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

How bad did the offenses featuring the quarterback of the future (Newton) and a future Hall of Famer (Manning) play?

Denver, the winning team, made infamous Super Bowl history gaining 194 yards on offense, the fewest by a winning team ever. That number was 50 yards less than the record the Baltimore Ravens set in 2001. Even worse is the fact Manning’s team was 1 for 13 on third downs.

Let’s look at Newton, who produced one of the best statistical regular seasons in the history of the league. He completed just 18 of 41 passes for 265 yards. He fumbled twice, was intercepted once and was sacked six times. Together the teams combined to set a Super Bowl record for most collective sacks: 12.

The Broncos tied the Super Bowl record by recording seven sacks. It was officially set by the Bears in Super Bowl XX (1985 season) but the Steelers are also credited with seven sacks in Super Bowl X (1975 season) before sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Manning, who at 39 was the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl, said the game reflected the Broncos’ resilience.

“This game was like this season in that it tested our toughness,” Manning said. “It tested our unselfishness. It’s only fitting it turned out this way.”

After the game reporters cajoled Manning to take a position on his possible retirement, but he did not bite on that line of questioning concerning if this was indeed his last game.

Much to the consternation of many reporters and me, Newton came into the post-game press conference in a serious funk and did not engage the mass of reporters. He gave one-word answers and after a few questions walked out the interview session.

If I was Newton’s public relations person, I would have coached him to just come in and give respect to Manning, the Broncos, the Super Bowl itself and just lighten the mood with a funny quip.

With their victory in Super Bowl 50, the Broncos are the ninth franchise to win as many as three Super Bowl championships.  This was the eighth Super Bowl appearance for the Broncos, matching the record also shared by the Patriots, Steelers and Cowboys.

Ironically Miller, who was the second overall selection in the 2011 draft after Newton, became the 10th defensive player in Super Bowl history to be selected as the Super Bowl MVP by tossing Newton on the turf with a purpose. Miller had 2.5 sacks, 6 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 hurries and a pass defended.

The other three linebackers to be chosen Super Bowl MVP are Chuck Howley of the Cowboys (Super Bowl V), Ray Lewis of the Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV) and Malcolm Smith of the Seahawks (Super Bowl XLVIII).

“He (Miller) was absolutely tremendous,” said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. “Our defense was just special, and they have been all year long. Miller is a hell of a player, but he has become a great pro, great man and a big leader on this football team. So, (I am) just very proud of everybody, but (I am) especially proud of him.”

Kubiak gave praises to his entire defense, noting that they “very disciplined as far as our rush goes,” and he was extremely pleased at his team’s “effort in chasing Newton down, stopping the run, getting the turnovers, that’s the reason we’re standing here tonight.”

Manning also becomes the first quarterback to start and win Super Bowls for two different teams.  He also won Super Bowl XLI (2006 season) for the Indianapolis Colts.  He is the third quarterback to start for two teams, joining Kurt Warner (Rams, Cardinals) and Craig Morton (Cowboys, Broncos).

With the win, Manning became the first NFL quarterback with 200 career wins (186 regular season and 14 postseason).  He had been tied with Brett Favre, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016, with 199.

Panther’s coach Ron Rivera recalled how Denver got toasted by Seattle a couple years ago in the Super Bowl and he liken that experience to what his team went through. “We have to learn from this disappointment and continue to grow as a team,” he said, “and we have to go to work to take ourselves to that next level.”

Only time will tell if Rivera and Newton will be a one hit wonder or they will indeed keep it coming. My guess is they have a lot of work to do.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Golf Pioneer Charlie Sifford paved path for others.

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Sifford’s steadfastness and golf smarts allowed him to break many of golf’s rock solid racial barriers.

Can’t nothing make your life work if you aren’t the architect. – Terry McMillan


VALENCIA, Ca. – How bad do you want it? Can you put your pride aside to accomplish something that has the opportunity to be special and legendary? Do you have the vision to see the big picture in life? Are you the architect of your own destiny?

charles Sifford

Legend Charlie Sifford and Leland Stein at the L.A Open. – Jon Gaede photo

In the case of Jackie Robinson, he became the architect of his own destiny by the way he conducted himself and his unbending focus on the task at hand. He swallowed his enormous pride and fighter’s spirit for a bigger cause. Robinson knew that if he entered baseball and fought every person that called him a demeaning name, he would be a failure. Why? Because if he failed in the grand integration experiment, it would have taken years for another integration opportunity to be extended by Major League Baseball.

Well, Charles Sifford, who was born in 1922 in North Carolina and recently passed in February of 2015 at the ripe age of 92, found himself in a similar situation, breaking barriers in golf, only with a lot less fanfare, but no less the pain and resistance than his friend Robinson endured. Maybe, because of less visibility and press coverage afforded to Sifford’s quest to integrate the Professional Golf Association Tour, he endured and withstood even more degradation and contempt than Robinson. But Sifford had the vision and the will to make it against all odds.

Surely the White dominated sport of golf and the infra-structures that supported it (the Country Clubs and media) were rock solid in their clubhouse ways and determination to keep the sport all White. Weathering the sting of exclusion and missed opportunity (he never played in the Masters), Sifford, endured long enough to become the first African -American to win a PGA Tour event; he won the Hartford Open in 1967, where he shot a scorching 64 to outlast the charging field. Sifford also won the Nissan Open – then played as the the L.A. Open – in 1969 held at Rancho Park Golf Course. He overcame Harold Henning in a sudden death playoff.

During his career he won six Negro National Titles, before joining the PGA Tour in 1960 at the age of 39, long past his prime playing years. Besides the Hartford and L.A. Open titles, he won the PGA Seniors’ Championship in 1975 and the Suntree Classic held in Melbourne Australia in 1980 Sifford won $1,265,490 during his PGA career. The majority of the prize money came on the Seniors’ Tour ($924,145).

Before his passing, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 by President Barack Obama, and an honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews. Golfing great Lee Trevino referred to Sifford as the “Jackie Robinson” of golf, and Tiger Woods acknowledged that Sifford paved the way for his career.

This one-on-one interview conducted at the Valencia Country Club, with pioneer Sifford and I, whose autobiography, “Just Let Me Play”, says volumes about his quest to integrate the golf world.

Q: How did you get exposed to golf.

A: Well, I got a job as a caddie in North Carolina when I was 13. I could shoot par then. The thing about it was my dad, who was a laborer, made only $2.00 a week. I made that much caddying. The sad part is that with the golf cart, people like me, especially the young folk, have less opportunity to get exposed the game. Caddying was the life blood for Blacks that wanted to play golf.

Q: When did you get the fever for the sport.

A: As soon as I got on the course I felt it. I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At the time, it seemed like just a dream, because professionally the sport wasn’t accessible to Blacks back then.

Q: Who was instrumental in helping you realize your dream of being a golf professional.

A: I worked for Billy Eckstine as his personal pro for many years. He helped keep me in the game. I also hustled and played anywhere I could to make a buck . . . and, to just play for the love of the game. Also, Joe Louis help open the doors for the Blacks to play at the professional level. He stood up for us every chance he got.

Q: As you continued to play, you realized you had a special gift for the game, but the PGA was off limits to Blacks, what were your options.

A: We played in celebrity tournaments and worked with the top Black athletes and performers of that era. Louis had Teddy Rhodes as his personal pro. We played in many non-sanctioned PGA events. The UGA (United Golfer’s Association) became a nice opportunity for us to travel and play the game, as well as earn a small buck.

Q: Did you like the hustling golf life you were forced to indulge in.

A: No. I wanted to play 72 holes of golf and try to make the less mistakes and out think my opponents. I didn’t necessarily like hustling and the other stuff we had to do to survive, but I was forced to do that to put food on the table. I really wanted the opportunity to beat someone and earn the No. 1 trophy at the end of a tournament, that’s what its really all about. I wanted to get out there and walk the course, out think an opponent, out drive and out putt him.

Q: What is your recollection of legendary championship boxers “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Joe Louis.

A: Both loved golf. Robinson never could play too well, but he supported us. He really loved to play the game. Don Newcomb (ex-Dodger great) was another who was just like Robinson supporting us, and, our quest to make the Tour. But Joe Louis did as much as anyone. Louis was a big reason, along with California District Attorney Charley Moss, that the LA Open fought the PGA Constitution’s “Caucasians Only Clause” – it was stricken in 1961.

Q: How would you characterize your strengths as a golfer.

A: I used to always keep the ball in play. I wasn’t a great putter, but I was a decent putter. I had a good short game and I kept my ball in play always. Also, I think I was a smart player . . . I tried to think through situations. I had good recovery skills and could work the irons.

Q: What was the lowest round you shot. Did you shoot under 66.

A: I shot a lot of those. At Hartford I shot a 64 that led to me winning the tournament. I could shoot some numbers. The lowest I’ve shot is a 63.

Q: When were you playing your best golf.

A: I say that 1947 through 1960 I was swinging the clubs pretty good. I won the Long Beach Open in 1957, but it wasn’t a sanctioned PGA event, so I didn’t get invited to the Masters.

Q: Why aren’t more young Blacks on the Tour.

A: I think they just don’t have the will to endure the effort it takes. You have to put something into this game . . . you have to sacrifice a lot to get here. I sent my nephew (Curtis Sifford) to qualifying school, but he didn’t make it . . . it’s tough going. A lot of the youth today will not put up with the stuff I did back then. I had to be strong to deal with the stuff that was placed in front of me.

Q: What stuff did you have to put up with.

A: I don’t want to repeat the things that were said to me and about me, or rehash the threats. But let me tell you, I was the first Black to play in a PGA event in the South in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I can tell you I didn’t play too well because of the other things I had to deal with. They tried and tested my manhood, and, my humanity.

Q: Was it very frustrating being excluded from golf courses and not given the opportunity to compete.

A: Of course it was frustrating not being able to compete on the PGA Tour, especially when you could see there were many players that were out there that you knew you could compete with or were better than. In fact, there were a number of Black players that were very good golfers and enjoyed the game. Yes, it may have hurt to be told you can’t compete because of the color of your skin, but we went about our business and just tried to have fun. We felt if we stayed at it and kept working on our game, things would have to change. They eventually did, but I was too old when it opened up in 1974 for Lee Elder who played in the Masters.

Q: What will it take to get more Blacks involved in the game.

A: Well, it will be hard. Most of the urban area schools don’t play the sport in high school. They are use to playing basketball, football and baseball because the parents can take them anywhere to play those games. But to take a kid to the driving range to drive balls all day, well, most families have to work to make a living. Also, the cost of playing has increased and in many cases it’s not affordable.

Q: Has Tiger Woods presence changed the game in a way that more minorities are involved and maybe it will translate into more pros out on the Tour.

A: Sure his presence has change the Tour. Look at the galleries he has that follow him at every tournament. But, I don’t see anymore Tiger Woods’ coming behind him. On the Senior Tour a couple years ago there were five, Ben Morgan, Calvin Peete, Lee Elder, Jim Thorpe and me. Now there’s only Tiger. I’m not sure, but we seem to be going backwards (with diversity).

Q: So what do you think the future holds for diversity in golf.

A: To be a golfer you have to take it upon yourself. Your mother and father can’t make you play enough to be good at it. Just because Tiger has done so well, most people can forget about that. You can teach the game but you have to have the skill, and, the opportunity to play to make it happen.

Q: Do the youth of today recognize you and know what you’ve accomplished.

A: Many don’t know what I’ve done or the foundation myself and many others laid so we can have a Tiger Woods today. What the kids today need to know is that golf didn’t start in 1997, but in 1947. It’s a good thing what Tiger is doing, but most kids don’t know nothing better than Tiger Woods, that shouldn’t be. They should know where the game started from, they should know their history.

Q: You say golf started in 1947 what do you mean by that.

A: The UGA was a Black league that played in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, New York and Chicago. It was a group of Black players. We also had a few White players, too. But none of them could beat Teddy Rhodes or Bill Spiller.

Q: Are you bitter about the things you had to endure and the lack of opportunity available to you during your era.

A: No, I’m not bitter. If you go around being bitter at people you won’t live long. I’ve put all that negative stuff behind me and decided to look forward a long time ago. When I was going through what I did, I focused on proving that a Black man can play the game of golf as good as a White man. What I’ve tried to prove has been proven by Tiger Woods. I was too old when they let me play, but I never did learn how to play the game the best I could, because I had too many other things to worry about.

Q: How do you feel about what Woods has accomplished on the Tour.

A: Well, I’m really glad he has come along like he has . . . it really makes me smile . . .a big smile. They need some more Tiger Woods, but I don’t know if they will find any soon, because the majority of the youth are not into golf. What Tiger has accomplished is wonderful. There is tremendous pressure on him from all angles, but the way he has handled himself is special.

I’m very proud of what he has done and the way he has done it. I had breakfast with the kid this morning, and he understands and respects the players that played before him. He’s a very smart guy and knows how to handle what’s happening around him.

Q: Are you a role model.

A: Well, the parents are the real role models. But, I’m sure someone out there admires the trail I’ve blazed and the things I went through to get on the PGA Tour. We had our fun, but I always tried to make sure I didn’t do anything that would reflect bad on myself and others. I want respect and gave it. I just wanted to play the game and show people Blacks could play at the highest level, too.

Contact Leland Stein III at lelstein3@aol.com or on Twitter at LelandSteinIII

Brady engineers Pats comeback

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Brady joins QB’s Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with fourth Super Bowl victory.

By Leland Stein III

GLENDALE, Ariz. – With Deflate-Gate looming over Super Bowl Week, the New England Patriots, with certified regulation game-balls, deflated the Seattle Seahawks . . . no, the entire state of Washington to win its fourth Super Bowl title, 28-24.

Leland Stein II at Super Bowl in Phoenix in 2015.

Leland Stein II at Super Bowl in Phoenix in 2015.

Having an elite quarterback is a proven formula for getting a team to the pinnacle of the NFL wars, and, it was vindication for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLIX that he indeed is one of the best to ever play this game.

Okay all, indeed it is time to put deflated footballs in the rear view mirror and look with a non-jaundice eye and give the Patriots the respect they have won on the field of play with an unmatched stretch of consistent football.

In the end, it was vindication for Patriots quarterback Brady, although in the post-game interviews he did not acknowledge it, he just let his play speak for himself.

He went out and tossed four touchdown passes and hoisted his fourth Lombardi Trophy, putting him on par with NFL greats Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.

“It’s been a long journey,” said the 37-year-old Brady, whose first three Super Bowl victories were followed by two losses to the New York Giants on the NFL’s biggest stage. “I’ve been at it for 15 years, and we’ve had a couple of tough losses in this game, and this one came down to the end. This time, we made the plays.”

The 15-year NFL quarterback from the University of Michigan completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards, was named the game’s most valuable player joining Montana as the only three-time Super Bowl MVPs. His 37 completions were a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 34 of Peyton Manning last year.

Thirteen years have passed between Brady’s first Super Bowl victory and the win Sunday.

“He’s the best and showed it again tonight,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said of Brady. “He never got disappointed or discouraged when we had a couple turnovers in the course of the game. He just kept fighting.”

The Seahawks, meanwhile, were left to ponder what might have been. Trailing by four points late in the game, they moved into position for a fantastic finish thanks to an unbelievable juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse, the ball popcorning in and out of his hands before he finally reeled it in while flat on his back for a 33-yard reception to the New England five-yard line with 1:06 to play.

Next, most people now blame Coach Pete Carroll for blowing the Seahawks miraculous last-second drive to the one yard line and a chance to snatch victory from New England.

But these Patriots — the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls, in the 2003 and ’04 seasons — weren’t going to let the defending champion Seahawks pull off the same feat.

Carroll fell to the franchise that fired him, and to Bill Belichick, the coach who replaced him in New England.

“Our defense, what can you say about them?” exclaimed Brady. “Malcolm (Butler), what a play. For a rookie to make a play like that and win us the Super Bowl is unbelievable. I saw the interception and I couldn’t believe it. It was an incredible play, a championship play.”

Instead of giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the one yard line, many blame Carroll for calling the Russell Wilson pass that intercepted by Butler.

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said that the “personnel the Patriots had on the field wasn’t conducive to running the football.”

He continued: “I can’t even tell you, I can’t even feel it. For it to come down to a play like that, I hate that we have to live with that!!”

The humble Butler was overwhelmed in the post-game locker room: “This is crazy . . . can’t believe what has happened. Right now it hasn’t all set in. I guess it will take on more meaning when I get home. But I can say I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play and it came true.”

Brady was not perfect on this day, unleashing a pair of critical interceptions, but for him the ending was immaculate.

And for Butler, 24, his personal vision did come true and Patriot Nation could not be happier!!

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Guns: Will Obama be able to score a touchdown for common sense?

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 at 1:54 am

By Leland Stein III

Before I start this discourse let’s take a look at the words of The Second Amendment. It says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

belcher wife

KASANDRA MICHELLE Perkins, Jovan Belcher‘s dead girlfriend, with daughter Zoey Michelle Belcher. Right, Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs.

When any human looks at the words of the Second Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, in a historical context it should be obvious that the country did not have a valid military, just finished a war with Britain, was in a constant war with Native Americans as we took their land, did not have immediate communication modes and roads to connect people as they moved across America, they needed guns to hunt for food and keep bandits at bay.

All that has changed as America has become the biggest military conglomerate in world. The National Guard was founded in the early 1900’s and the goal and purpose of the Second Amendment in reality was changed forever. We now have the marines, army, air force and city and state police.

No way in the Founding Fathers’ wisdom could they have envisioned that this country would have nuclear weapons, planes that can fly and drop bombs in one’s doorway, food available in close by stores, refrigerators to store food and the ability to just pick up a phone and talk to a person a thousand miles away.

President Obama speaks in Newtown, CT.

President Obama speaks in Newtown, CT.

I was covering the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China when a mentally deranged man lost it and stabbed two people in a crowed area before he got his butt kicked. By the way, our communist Chinese brothers’ police, like the democratic British Bobbies, do not carry guns. Imagine police that do not even have to carry a weapon to police its populace; that concept is unthinkable in American society where cops routinely get killed.

Later in the media press tribune in Beijing when the word got back to us, almost all concurred: “If this has been in the United States that guy would have shot at least 10 to 20 people before he was stopped.”

We all said that matter of factly and went back to our business of covering the 2008 Olympic Games. This is just business as usual in my beloved country.

Recently one of my media colleagues, Bob Costas, during halftime of “Sunday Night Football” pushed for gun control following Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher’s killing of his 22-year-old girlfriend and himself. That gun left a young baby mother and fatherless.

Reading from an article written by another sportswriter Costas said: “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today.”

Just as fast as one can say Jumping Jack Flash, the Tea Party Republican conservatives blasted Costas on social and the national media.

“I think Bob Costas owes America an apology,” former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon tweeted, “and I think he should be fired from Sunday Night Football,”

Herman Cain called Costas’ remarks “sanctimonious dreck” on Twitter, linking to an article called “Excuse me, Bob Costas, but you’re an idiot, so shut up.”

“Shame on NBC & Bob Costas for that embarrassing anti-gun screed,” tweeted 2008 Romney staffer Ted Newton.

People wrote in and said they tuned in to watch a football game and not listen to Costas rant about gun violence. What is happening in America? When the word gun comes up a vocal populace of America seems to control the discourse, and, in fact, has our elected leaders scared to even mention gun control.

Just like the now misguided holding on to the Second Amendment, one hears people all the time say that, it’s not guns that kill people, it is the people. I submit, that just like in Beijing, if there were no guns involved, mass killings that have become chic in America could never happen.

Now after the tragic Newtown, Connecticut carnage where a heavily armed man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and within minutes, 26 people were dead at — 20 of them children.

With the death toll at 26, the Newtown shooting is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead. This one brings the assault weapons charge into greater focus as it only took a couple minutes to blast off shot after shot. Reports note he even had enough clips to fire another 100 rounds.

Facts: The United States has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, twice that of the country with the second highest rate. The United States also has the highest homicide rate of any affluent democracy, nearly four times higher than France or the United Kingdom, six times higher than Germany. Guns are involved in two-thirds of all murders in the U.S.

I do not want peoples’ guns for hunting and protection, but assault weapons have no place in a civilized society. The rest of our close friends (countries) have already figured this out . . . why can’t we?

“It’s our first job,” said President Barack Obama, referring to protecting the young. “If we don’t get that right, then we won’t get anything right. That is how we will be judged . . . Can we honestly say we are doing enough to keep our children, all of us, safe from harm? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is no . . . we are not doing enough and we have to change.”

It is crazy a 1791 law rules our 2012 sensualities and now its consequences leaves us with a professional athlete and girlfriend dead and a school full of dead innocent people. And that is not to mention that in America’s inner cities youth are dying every day at a rate that is mindboggling.

When will the debate over the Second Amendment yield to a debate about violence, people and living in a real civilized society?

Can Obama bring a real common sense perspective to this killing machine called America? The facts are we regulate food production, toys and car manufacturing more than we do to gun control. In a nation that has enlightened the world in so many ways, but is a coward in confronting that we have 15 times more gun violence that any other country in the world.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Segregation handcuffed Jesse Owens

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2012 at 1:00 am

2012 Olympics fresh in our minds, PBS recalls Owens’ run through America’s segregation policies

By Leland Stein III

ImageWith the 2012 London Olympic Games in our rear view mirrors, it seems appropriate to revisit one of the great legends of the Olympic Games.

Leland Stein III

Doing my usual channel surfing, I came up on a PBS documentary an “American Experience: Jesse Owens.”

Most sports aficionados, and history buffs, know of the legend of Owens; however, his compete and dehumanizing degradation delivered by America’s intense racial separation kind of got lost in the real picture of this oxymoron of a man.

Even today, over 70 years later, many Americans take pride in recalling how Owens undermined Adolf Hitler’s theory of Aryan racial superiority by winning four gold medals (100-, 200- , 4×100-meter relay, and, long jump) at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

“Jesse Owens,” directed by Laurens Grant and written by the frequent PBS collaborator Stanley Nelson (“Freedom Riders”), is a level and striking production that suffers from its shortness: about 52 minutes. There’s not much time to get below the surface, and Owens’s troubled post-Olympic life gets particularly abrupt treatment.

The triumph of this “American Experience” documentary on Owens, who died in 1980, is that it enshrined his Hitler greatness without ignoring the depressing extent to which Owens’ own country also treated him as second class citizen.

As an Olympian in that time, he was under the authority of U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) chief Avery Brundage (an acknowledged racist), who admired Hitler and infamously replaced two Jewish sprinters on the 4×100 relay team because it could have further embarrassed Hitler if they won.

After embarrassing Hitler in his own stadium in 1936, Brundage stripped Owens of his amateur standing, effectively depriving him of the chance to make a living from his skill. For years after the Olympics, this superb athlete was relegated to a sideshow — until finally, in 1955, President Eisenhower made him a national “goodwill ambassador” promoting the high ideals of America.

However, before Eisenhower’s benevolent spirit, Owens had to race against horses and other degrading actions to support his family.

Just like Joe Louis, who knocked out German champion Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling, and in spite of their color each became an American hero; however, like Owens it did not carryover to life in America. Louis was attacked by the IRS and it destroyed his life. Owens fared no better.

But the irony of both their lives in segregated America was that they did not outwardly complain. Maybe it was the times, where many thought it was better to go along to get along. The fact of the matter is it was life threatening to oppose the status quo.

In fact, Owens in the 1968 Olympics of the African-American’s discontent with how they were being treated at home, spilled over into one of the most famous protest in USOC history, the Tommy Smith and John Carlos black gloved raise fist during the American national anthem.

No matter how badly treated Owens was by the establishment, his nemesis Brundage, help recruit him to talk to the African-American athletes while at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. The threat of protest was in the air and the USOC wanted Owens to help defuse it. In fact, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brought the discontent to the forefront, by refusing to join the USOC Basketball team.

With American cities smoldering in discontent and hungering for change and equal rights, the athletes ignored Owens’ cajoling, all but George Foreman, who won the heavyweight Olympic title and pranced around the ring with two American flags. He was scorned by the black community on his return home.

Foreman told me in an interview that he was a young country boy that had no understanding of the complexity of life and the anger of his fellow African-American Olympians. He said he was just happy to be there and out of his situation at home in Houston.

Carlos and Smith became the poster boys of standing up to the injustice that was permeating American society, while Foreman and Owens took on the appearance of Uncle Toms.

For me Owens is an almost preternaturally graceful and heroic figure, asserting his will despite isolation and scorn even greater than Jackie Robinson had to face. But he also represents the power of segregation at that time, when a man of his caliber was so beat down he was afraid to challenge inequality face-to-face.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter at LelandSteinIII

Martin Mayhew’s the linchpin behind Lions rise

In sports column, Uncategorized on November 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Lions GM making all the right moves

By Leland Stein III
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Get ready this Monday night as our Detroit Lions will be playing their first meaningful nationally televised contest in too many years to recount. In comes the Monsters of the Midway (Chicago Bears) to try and do what Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota and Dallas could not – beat the Motor City Cats.
How did the inept Lions get to the point where they are in the national conversation about NFL dream teams? How do we understand what is happening? Is it real?
No matter the cause or situation, the 4-0 Lions are set to put their effort on national display this Monday and it should answer a lot of questions about where these Lions really stand in the NFL hierarchy.
No matter the Lions outcome versus the Bears, they are moving in the right direction. This 2011 team is for real and the linchpin behind their elevation is General Manager Martin Mayhew. Sure head coach Jim Schwartz is the organizer of the Lions’ on the field dreams, but Mayhew is the architect of the overall team’s collective.
Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the tenth round (262nd overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft the cornerback out of Florida State University played in eight NFL seasons from 1989-1996 and started in Super Bowl XXVI for the Washington Redskins.
What makes Mayhew different than ex-Lions President and General Manager Matt Millen is his very real scholarship concerning NFL talent and his organization skills.
Also, after retiring from the NFL, Mayhew attended Georgetown University Law School. He graduated in 2000 with a J.D. degree. Millen brought Mayhew into the Lions organization as the Senior Vice President, but when Millen in 2008 was released, he became the first African-American General Manager of the Lions.
Mayhew’s skin color has long since been a no-brainer as he has made all the right moves that are moving the Lions’ franchise into respectability in the NFL wars. Mayhew’s drafting, his acquisitions and free agents have all elevated the future direction of the Lions.
When Detroit Lions Owner and Chairman William Clay Ford announced the promotion of Tom Lewand to Team President and Mayhew to General Manager, I said way to go.mNot only was I confident in the future direction that Mayhew was going to lead the Lions, so was all in the Lions administration.
“Martin is a great friend,” Lewand exclaimed. “He has been exemplary for this organization since the day he walked into the door. I consider it a pleasure to work with him. I always knew he would be a great GM. I’m not surprised that this thing is moving in a positive direction. This is what I expected three years ago when we started this process.”
Said Lions Senior Vice President of Communications Bill Keenist: “You will not find person with more character and integrity than Martin. Everything he has done is not surprising. He’s a great judge of talent and he knows how to put a team together.”
Said Lions coach Jim Schwartz: “The big thing is we do not stand alone, because he is very good at getting a collective voice. It’s not about just getting good players, but Martin has set an environment where the scouts, coaches and administration all have a voice in the final decisions.
“From the beginning after he interviewed me in the selection process I knew there was something special between us. I had great confidence that we could all be on the same page and get pieces in here that would help move this franchise forward.”
So far the 5-2 Lions have put the Matt Millen era in the rear view mirror and Mayhew is pushing all the right buttons. 
“I feel great about the process,” Mayhew exclaimed. “I can’t say enough about the great job that our coaches and our scouts have done in this process. As I’ve said before, we believe the best thing to do is to take the best player available (in the draft), because we feel through free agency we can fill holes with a better quality players.”
Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII