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Ernie Davis And The Bobby Mitchell Golf Classic; Also, Art Monk Deals With The Same Old Questions In A Different Form

Posted by Matt Terl on July 10, 2009 – 2:30 pm

It shouldn’t have taken me as long to realize as it did; the mental arithmetic isn’t all that complicated. Still, I had been planning to attend today’s press preview of The 19th Annual Bobby Mitchell/TOYOTA Hall of Fame Golf Classic for almost a week before I put it all together.

See the, golf classic (as I’ve exhaustively mentioned) is a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And Redskins great Bobby Mitchell is the founder of the tournament.

Mitchell came to Washington in a 1962 trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Redskins received Mitchell and first-round pick Leroy Jackson; the Browns received standout Syracuse running back Ernie Davis. Davis died of leukemia before he could play a down of football in Cleveland, a story that recently made its way to the movies as The Express: The Ernie Davis Story.

“It was the first time I heard the word ‘leukemia,’ was because of Ernie,” Mitchell told me when I asked about the connection. “I’d never heard of it before, and we lost him and he never got a chance to play.

“It was kinda frightening,” he continued, “because I’m looking at him and — to me — Ernie Davis coming out of Syracuse was another Jim Brown. And I had played four years with Jim, so I knew what that meant. And all of a sudden someone’s saying, ‘This kid can’t play. He’s gonna pass.’ “

And I’m saying, ‘Jim Brown can’t die!’

“And that was the effect. So when I got here to Washington, when I was approached by the Leukemia Society to help out, that was one of the things that got me to do something.”

Mitchell was initially polite but somewhat dismissive when I asked about the movie version, shrugging and saying, “I would say fifty percent of it was right on about him.”

Then he stopped and thought for a few seconds. “There will be those who say it’s just another flick, but there will also be people whose families suffer with this [leukemia] who be will happy that there will be a focus coming from it. I think it helps in that sense,” he said, before heading out to the putting tournament.

Redskins great Art Monk — also a Syracuse guy — was a bit more charitable about the movie. “I thought it was great,” he told me. “I thought it was well done. The message to be got out of it, was right on point.” Read more »

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The Bobby Mitchell Golf Classic's Patient Hero Is Not A Redskins Fan

Posted by Matt Terl on July 10, 2009 – 1:57 pm

When Redskins great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell gets talking about the golf classic that bears his name, he’s fairly animated. He talks enthusiastically and demonstratively about how important it is to help, how grateful he is to the sponsors and fellow athletes, and about his golf game.

But when he’s talking about the people it benefits, the kids who are fighting with leukemia, Mitchell becomes less animated; instead, he’s nearly overcome with emotion. During his introductory welcome to the press and sponsors today, he mentioned that he had been honored to attend the graduation of one of his “hero patients” — that is, a guest of honor from a past year’s event. And just mentioning that graduation choked Mitchell up for more than twenty seconds.

“This young boy went through a lot of things when he was younger,” Mitchell told me afterward, “but he hung in there and walked down the aisle with his fellow classmates at his high school graduation. It just blew me away.” He paused again, visibly moved. “I hadn’t been to a graduation in a while — my kids are much older — and to be sitting there with all these kids graduating, experiencing that and knowing that one of our kids was walking there too … it really, really blew me away.”

After a second or two, the more animated, less emotional Mitchell resurfaced and he shook his head. “When you meet these kids, it just blows you away, because they’re all smart, sharp, involved.”

That certainly describes this year’s patient hero, Joey Norris. Read more »

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This Weekend, Meet Hall Of Famers, Help Kids

Posted by Matt Terl on July 10, 2009 – 11:31 am

I was sitting at breakfast this morning next to Meadowlark Lemon, the Harlem Globetrotters great. He’s also had success as an actor, a recording artist, and — currently — a minister, which is what we were mostly discussing. As the conversation wound down, there was one of those pauses, and in that pause I realized something.

“Hey,” I said, “you were on Scooby-Doo!”

He nodded. “I was.”

“I have to tell you,” I said, “you’re the first person I’ve ever met in real life who was on Scooby Doo.”

He nodded again to acknowledge that this was probably quite an honor for me, shook my hand again, and we all turned our attention to the podium. This was probably fortunate for me, since I’m not quite sure how I planned to follow up on that line of conversation.

The reason I was able to have this slightly awkward conversation is that today was the media day for the 19th Annual Bobby Mitchell/TOYOTA Hall of Fame Golf Classic at Lansdowne Resort just outside of Leesburg, Va. A lot of sports-related events like to use the phrase “Hall of Fame” as a descriptor, and usually it just seems to mean “vaguely related to athletics”. That’s not the case here.

This event, which benefits the National Capital Area Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, is (according to the press release) “the largest gathering of Hall of Famers outside of Canton.” And it’s not just football Hall of Famers, as you can probably guess by Meadowlark Lemon’s presence.

In total, Sunday’s event is expected to feature more than 45 basketball and football Hall of Famers teeing off — and it’s open to the public. For a five dollar donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, you can be part of the gallery watching Redskins greats like Art Monk and Sonny Jurgensen, non-Redskins Hall of Famers like Steve Largent and Andre Tippett, and basketball greats like Lemon and Oscar Robertson. The event starts at 8:30 Sunday morning; tickets can be purchased here or by calling 703-309-2900.

More details on this morning to follow shortly. Read more »

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Friday, July 10: Campbell To The Pro Bowl?

Posted by Matt Terl on July 10, 2009 – 11:13 am

On USA Today’s The Huddle blog today, there are two stories about NFC East quarterbacks posted fifteen minutes apart. In the first, a former player suggests that one NFC East QB is headed to the Pro Bowl; in the second, a current player says that another NFC East QB is not nearly as good as people think.

And, for once this offseason, the positive press is going to Jason Campbell. It comes from Joe Theismann’s appearance on Sirius Satellite Radio, and here’s the money quote:

“He’s finally in a system where he actually gets to practice the same things that he practiced last year and he gets to grow from them,” Theismann told Sirius. “And as a quarterback or as anybody studying film, when you look at yourself on film, you know why you made certain decisions. In Jason’s case, seven of the last nine years, or eight years, both college and professionally, when he looks at film, it doesn’t apply to the coming year because it’s all different, so he’s never really growing during the season. He will in this particular year. I watched him in spring ball, in the OTAs and the minicamps (and he’s ) much more confident, much more comfortable.”

This is good to see. (It also echoes what I believe, having also seen a big chunk of Campbell’s offseason work, but that’s neither here nor there.) The icing on this particular cake for Redskins fans is that the next story is about Giants RB Brandon Jacobs completely throwing water on the “Tony Romo will be better without Terrell Owens” theory.

Read more »

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