PART 2: HALL OF FAME CONNECTIONS INFILTRATES FAMILIES

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

If you haven’t yet, check out part 1 first.

Baseball fans love their hometown players.

It’s complete acceptance. Much like, perhaps, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, or Astros fans whenever Roger Clemens took the mound. Or a Cubs fan when Sammy Sosa stepped into the batter’s box. Oakland and Cardinals’ fans had Mark McGwire. Gary Sheffield showed up in L.A., Miami, Atlanta and New York. The Red Sox and Dodgers, plus the Indians, watched Manny Ramirez skyrocket dozens of balls over fences. Alex Rodriguez was magnificent during his days in Seattle, Texas and New York.

You think those fans aren’t affected by Hall of Fame corruption? That corruption was media-driven.

Barry Bonds, reviled by rival fans, was beloved in San Francisco.

My son, Chet, saw Bonds strike home runs in San Francisco, at Dodger Stadium, plus both ballparks in San Diego, Jack Murphy Stadium and Petco Park. Throw in a significant bomb at Anaheim. Game 6, 2002 World Series.

When Bonds showed up in BALCO reports, law enforcement investigations, plus various other significant bodies – including a Federal government trial – Chet’s view was that his baseball achievements should remain intact.

Chet is furious that Bonds – he wasn’t necessarily a fan of Roger Clemens – wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame.

He’s heard me say it for years.

That the same fraternity of media that voted MVP and Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove honors had also voted to keep significant players out of Cooperstown, the New York-based site of the Hall of Fame.

It was right under the media’s corrupt noses that PED usage was taking place.

Corrupt …

… in that all major teams, from its ownership and management to its medical staffs and dugout personnel, had to know.

… the stain and stench reaches all the way up to the Commissioner’s office – Peter Uebberoth, Bart Giamatti, Faye Vincent and Bud Selig. If they didn’t know, they’re ignorant. If they did know, they did nothing.

… baseball’s player union, which deflected away testing procedures that would’ve kept the sport clean.

Tom Verducci (Photo by Wikpidia Commons)
Tom Verducci wrote an eye-opening article for Sports Illustrated in May 2002, perhaps one of the first big breaks in reporting PED use among MLB players. For years, deep and insightful reporting was missing from the PED story. (Photo by Wikipedia Commons)

Sports Illustrated Tom Verducci gets a huge “Hall” pass for a significant article he wrote in 2002. San Diego Padres’ third baseman Ken Caminiti, an admitted PED user and one-time National League MVP (voted on by the media, incidentally), was quoted by Verducci saying 50 percent of baseball players were using enhancements.

Over a decade earlier, Canseco was besieged by Red Sox fans during the playoffs against Oakland. In Boston. “Sterrrrroids. Sterrrrroids. Sterrrrroids.” They all chanted.

Canseco, for his part, struck a Greek god-like posture, flexing for them, kiddingly posing for those Fenway Park fans.

That was 1990, or ’91. Where was baseball’s media? You’d think they’d pick up on a story like that. It took over a decade before the story broke. When it did break, Canseco’s first book created the eventual storm.

The media got scooped.

Hundreds of news outlets – print, TV, radio, you name it – were planted in each major league city. Coast to coast. ABC. CBS. NBC. ESPN. CNN. Where were these journalists? Didn’t you guys remember Woodward and Bernstein, the two Washington reporters who broke Watergate a generation earlier?

The media could’ve headed off the PED era right away. It wasn’t enough to simply offer speculation. Or blind rage. Or ask questions, that players denied using.

They didn’t dig for stories.

Eventually, Canseco wrote two books, naming names.

Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams wrote “Game of Shadows,” detailing the BALCO raids and subsequent legal connections.

I once wrote a column about that, noting significant names of those media personalities that didn’t properly do its job. Amazingly, one of those names I’d mentioned, Bob Costas, contacted me.

“I don’t want to you to think I surf the net, looking for my name,” said Costas in one of two communications I had with the longtime NBC sportscaster. “A friend of mine in California sent me a copy of your article.”

I promised Costas our conversation would be off the record. To this day, I won’t reveal anything we discussed further. I will share this, however: He told me that he called the MLB All-Star game, I think back in 2002, and spent the entire game bemoaning the state of baseball with all its PED usage. He was, in effect, calling them out.

Bob_Costas (Photo by Wikipedia Commons)
Longtime NBC sportscaster Bob Costas called to talk with me about the state of steroids after a column I wrote about what the media had missed all those years. (Photo by Wikipedia Commons)

Costas said he received plenty of blowback from the players and its union.

My own complaint was that kind of unspecific coverage meant nothing until evidence was produced, such as Verducci’s SI piece.

“Howard Cosell,” I said, mentioning ABC’s legendary tough-as-nails broadcaster a couple decades earlier, “would’ve gotten to the bottom of this.”

It was great talking with Costas, but he only underscored the problem. Media was largely responsible for the outbreak of PED use. By not rooting out its issues, exposing the sinners and shutting down the freakage use of PEDs in its early stages, all talk was cheap.

PART 1: HALL OF FAME CONNECTIONS INFILTRATES FAMILIES

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

Here is how baseball’s Hall of Fame PED controversies has affected me, my family and, perhaps, a generation of baseball fans:

The raucous, unfair and unprofessional behavior of around 500-plus voting media members has rendered the process as complete buffoonery. It’s a cartoon of mass proportions. While the media continues to swing and miss in all its political coverages – whether you lean politically left or right – its Hall of Fame contributions may be among the most shameful display of professional conduct.

It’s almost as if the Hall-selecting committee exhibits no code of conduct.

It’s deep and personal when the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are kept out of the Hall. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, plus Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez. Jose Canseco could’ve had a shot. And Gary Sheffield, plus Alex Rodriguez.

On Jan. 22, 2018, four more players were elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America. None of the afore-mentioned claimed a spot, though A-Rod is not yet eligible.

My son, Danny, collected all their baseball cards in the early 1990s. Born in 1984, the kid followed my lead into following a sport in which many fathers and sons enjoyed together. Danny bought, traded and craved baseball cards.

Danny mug
My son, Danny Brown, was a rabid baseball fan who, perhaps, stepped away from the sport once inequality of media bias started to stain the Hall of Fame.

That little guy, age eight on up, adored those cards.

He memorized their stats.

We went to games, seeking autographs afterwards.

When it was time for the World Series, or the playoffs, or a huge pennant race game, we had the TV on full bore.

My youngest son, Chet, had pictures. Cards. Autographs. Autographed balls. He stared relentlessly at TV screens whenever Bonds came to bat. On those trips to the ball park, there were no trips to the rest room or snack bar when the Giants’ lineup was only a couple players away from Bonds’ spot in the batter’s box.

As the PED drama played out, dozens of players were spotlighted for using performance enhancing drugs. In the cases of the afore-mentioned players, it’s possible they’ll never be inducted into the sport’s greatest showcase.

I remember Danny saying to me, “Dad, I don’t know who to believe any more. It’s like they’re taking my childhood heroes away.”

Eight years younger than Danny, Chet completely bought in – BIG TIME – to the San Francisco Giants. At a time when Bonds was asserting himself into baseball’s home run chase, Chet was like millions of others.

Barry Bonds (Photo by Wikipedia Commons)
Barry Bonds, a San Francisco treat, was considered a traitor to the game by almost every other baseball fan other than the Giants. There are plenty that believe he belongs in Cooperstown. (Photo by Wikipedia Commons)

Watching. Admiring. Enjoying those magical moments.

Milestone moments like 500 home runs. 600. 660, tying Willie Mays. 700. Then 715, cracking the Babe. Finally, 756, working his way past Hank Aaron.

He was almost at the game against Washington when Bonds slugged No. 756. I wouldn’t let him, nor his sister, Kelli, go to a night game by themselves. They went up to the Bay Area to stay with my mom and grandparents. Kelli was just 18. Chet wasn’t yet 14. Imagine letting two kids at that age loose on the subway train – alone in The City. With all those vagabonds? Not at night. It was hard enough letting them go in daylight hours.

Meanwhile, I was on the road with Danny, heading for Tallahassee, so I could drop him off at Florida State.

I’d picked the game after – a day game – in trying to predict when Bonds would go deep for No. 756. Got them game tickets. Airline tickets. They missed seeing the record-breaker by a day. By the way, Bonds wasn’t in the Giants’ lineup in that game.

To this day, I’m kidded and reviled for being such a bad father.

A few years earlier, Chet had been at World Series Game Six. October 2002. Angels and Giants. In Anaheim. Leading 3-2 in games, anticipating the Giants’ first World Series championship since 1954, he watched Bonds strike a massive HR off Frankie “K-Rod” Rodriguez. It was a Hall of Fame moment.

It wasn’t so pretty to watch a 9-year-old boy crying after the game. The Giants had blown a 5-0 lead. They lost. One day later, the Angels claimed the World Series trophy.

Chet, like millions of others, was in total awe of Bonds. His swing. His power. His complete dominance of pitchers, some of whom may have been using PEDs.

Hall of Fame selectors missed their chance to cover the story when it was taking place. They cannot now re-enact their mistakes by voting to keep the top candidates from their chance at glory.

PART 3 – GREG HORTON WAS A SUPERIOR REDLANDS FORCE

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

For Greg Horton, who blocked familiar foes on the Rams’ defensive line, that 1979 NFC 9-0 championship loss to the Rams was his final game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A contract dispute, a hold-out, apparently getting cut, all conspired to lead Greg back to the west coast.

Bucs’ coach John McKay, it seems, had fallen in love with University of Wisconsin guard Ray Snell, considered to be a fast player at that position. Between Greg’s hold-out and Snell’s promising prospective, there was a quick switch at left guard made between the 1979 and 1980 seasons.

Greg was gone – back to L.A., in fact, where he played two games with the Rams before getting cut.

Tampa’s offense went downhill in that 1980 season, finishing 5-10-1.

Tampa Bay’s Doug Williams’s play at QB improved in 1980. Who knows how well the Bucs would’ve fared if they’d have kept Greg on their line? A dozen sacks? In 16 games?

Incidentally, that wasn’t an NFL record. But it was close.

Four years before the Bucs protected Williams so well, the St. Louis Cardinals blocked a little better for their QB, Jim Hart. They surrendered seven sacks with a line that consisted of Dan Dierdorff and Conrad Dobler.

Unlike today’s NFL game, where QBs are throwing for yardage far beyond that in Greg’s NFL days. Defenses were built to stop running games, not rush QBs. Numbers like the Cardinals and Buccaneers would be off the charts in today’s game.

As for Greg’s replacement?

Snell, taken as the 22nd overall pick in the 1980 NFL draft, spent five seasons blocking for Williams, at times alternating with lineman George Yarno bringing in plays from the sideline.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, visits FedEx Field, where the Redskins Salute, the Washington Redskins’ Official Military Appreciation Club, hosts a Military Day for military service members and their families, Dec. 7, 2015. This year's military recognition was in conjunction with the Redskins' Monday Night Football game with the Dallas Cowboys. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Chuck Burden/Released)
Doug Williams, whose early career in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was supported by the blocking of Redlands’ Greg Horton. The pair came close to winning the 1979 NFC Championship in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, who won, 9-0. Photo by  U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chuck Burden of the Chief of Staff of the Army
derivative: Diddykong1130

Greg, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound blocker, re-appeared in the United States Football League where he spent 1982 and 1983 with the Boston Breakers. He blocked for the highly underachieving Marcus DuPree (Oklahoma) in that summer league.

It was Week 10 – Saturday night, May 7, 1983 – when the Breakers showed up at the L.A. Coliseum to play the Express. L.A. beat Greg’s team again, 23-20. A little over 16,000 showed up in that massive place to watch.

I’d been granted a field pass, something that never would’ve happened in an NFL game. Greg was gracious enough to visit with me during the game – and after.

Greg had a few games left in the tank, but his pro career was nearing an end.

So, for that matter, was the USFL.

FROM NFL BACK TO HOMETOWN

Greg, born in San Bernardino in 1951, didn’t leave all his good works on the football field. He returned to Redlands, working businesses, growing up his family – his wife, Shirley, and two daughters – and participated in coaching and went heavily into the city’s legendary high school booster club, The Benchwarmers.

Greg blocked against the likes of Alan Page and Carl Eller, Harry Carson and Randy White, plus “Too Tall” Jones – the player taken No. 1 overall in the same 1974 draft when Greg was plucked by the Bears.

He never played a down for the Bears, who were in transition from the Hall of Fame seasons from middle linebacker Dick Butkus and running back Gale Sayers. Gary Huff QB’d that Bears’ team – 4-10 under coach Abe Gibron in 1974. One year later, the Bears made a nice pick in the draft, picking up Walter Payton.

That second season, 1975, was coached by Jack Pardee – another 4-10 record – with no real future in sight. Payton had a blocking corps of Jeff Sevy, Mark Nordquist, Dan Pfeiffer, Noah Jackson and Lionel Antoine.

The Bears had some success from various state colleges: Butkus from Illinois. Sayers from Kansas. Horton from Colorado didn’t turn out to be a fit.

By Greg’s third season, he was in L.A., playing backup on a Rams’ offensive line that included four No. 1 picks – Dennis Harrah, Tom Mack and Doug France, plus John Williams (Baltimore) – surrounding center Rich Saul.

That line was good enough that Horton was expendable, traded to Tampa midway into that 1978 rebuilding season.

The Rams were memorable during that 1970s run – playoffs each season under Chuck Knox (54-15 between 1973-77). Except for that little spurt when Greg replaced injured Dennis Harrah, it wasn’t until his trade to Tampa that his career got interesting. Twenty-eight of his 34 career starts came in Tampa.

A curious note, an extra Redlands “connection” was this: On Sept. 9, 1979, Tampa Bay beat the Baltimore Colts, 29-26, in a Buccaneers’ home game. Standing on the opposing sideline was Brian DeRoo, another ex-Terrier like Greg.

“It was the only time,” said DeRoo, “we ever faced each other in a game. Early in the game, though, Greg got thrown out for pushing a referee. I think it was after one play.”

Also in that game, DeRoo caught three passes for 81 yards. One of those was a 67-yard bomb from Colts’ QB Greg Landry – a play that was highlighted one night later on ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football, narrated by Howard Cosell.

‘GUNNS’ DURING HIS BUFF DAYS

During his college years at Colorado – playing in the Big Eight Conference for the Buffaloes, Eddie Crowder head coach – Greg was a three-year starter for a team that finished 23-12 between 1971 and 1973. Future Oakland/Los Angeles Raider legend Cliff Branch was a Buffalo teammate.

On New Year’s Eve 1971, the seventh-ranked Buffaloes stopped No. 15 Houston, 29-17, in the Bluebonnet Bowl. A year later, the 13th-ranked Buffs lost the Gator Bowl to No. 6 Auburn.

As for the Big Eight, Oklahoma and Nebraska were the dominant teams.

While the Buffaloes dreamed of unsettling the legendary Sooners and Cornhuskers, Colorado might have been content to try and oust those schools from their top spots.

Colorado’s only two losses in a 10-2 season (1971) came against the No. 2 Sooners, 45-17, and No. 1 Nebraska, 31-7. Greg, a sophomore, blocked against the likes of Oklahoma’s Lucious Selmon, whose brother, Lee Roy, would be a future NFL teammate in Tampa.

Yes, future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers was on the field against Colorado in Nebraska’s victory over the ninth-ranked Buffs. The Huskers, 13-0 overall, wound up as national champions.

Fast forward a few decades. Past that 1974 NFL draft. Past his two non-playing seasons in Chicago. Past his initial years with the Rams. Past the main portion of his career in Tampa Bay. Past those two games in his Rams’ return, plus the USFL.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I sat across from Greg at the lunch table in that Redlands burger joint. His hopes to launch a local business into orbit was on his mind.

His didn’t want to talk football.

Greg wanted to talk big plans.

He didn’t want to rerun his football career.

Greg wanted to attract clients.

Greg Horton II
Redlands’ Greg Horton had a nickname — “Gunns.” Photo provided by Horton’s family.

All that football background – playing against a Heisman winner, college football’s top-ranked teams, NFL Hall of Famers, All-Pros, drafted by legendary George Halas, playing for legendary coach John McKay, nearly reaching the Super Bowl with a remarkable worst-to-first team – seemed like a distant memory.

Greg had a business to organize.

“When will this story run?” he asked.

I was Sports Editor, so I had the answer.

“Soon as I write it up.”

My hope was that the article came out all right.

PART 2 – GREG HORTON WAS A SUPERIOR REDLANDS FORCE

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

Greg Horton had been drafted by the Chicago Bears. It was 1974. Third round, 56th pick overall. Papa Bear himself, George Halas, supervised the selection of Horton, a third-round selection out of Colorado.

By 1976, Greg was a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Papa Bear had traded him there on April 2, 1974 for the Rams’ third round (Mike Fuller) and 10th round (Mike Julius) picks in 1975.

At L.A., Greg was teammates with Joe Namath, Ron Jaworski, Pat Haden, Lawrence McCutcheon, Heisman winner John Cappelletti, blocking against guys like Jack Reynolds, Isaiah Robertson and Jack Youngblood in practice.

Playing mostly special teams, Greg eventually took over for injured right guard Dennis Harrah midway through the 1977 season.

He played 63 NFL games, starting 34. Most of those came after he got traded to the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the 1978 season.

Greg was part of football lore.

Tampa Bay coach John McKay, who coached USC to four national championships over 16 seasons, watched the Bucs start off losing their first 26 games beginning in their first season, 1976. Little by little, though, McKay started building a strong defense.

JOhn McKay
John McKay, whose career was built on great success at USC, coached Redlands’ Greg Horton in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Photo provided by USC/Wikipedia.

QB Doug Williams, who would eventually lead Washington to a Super Bowl about a decade later, took snaps for the Bucs. Side note: Tampa’s offensive coordinator in those early years was none other than Joe Gibbs, the Redskins’ head coach when Williams QB’d them to the Super Bowl.

BUILDING BUCS’ OFFENSIVE LINE

Gibbs and McKay built Tampa’s offense from scratch. Its real strength might’ve been its offensive line.

Left tackle Dave Reavis had played for Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh – drafted in 1973 by the Steelers.

Center Steve Wilson, right guard Greg Roberts and right tackle Charlie Hannah were original Bucs. Good enough to stick around for the upgrades.

McKay and Gibbs built that left side – Williams’ blind side – with Reavis and Greg, who blocked blitzing linebackers and safeties up the middle, nose guards and defensive tackles on every snap.

Williams, incidentally, had gone down just 12 times that season. Twelve sacks over 16 games! Incredible. Onetime Trojan Ricky Bell was racking up over 1,000 yards behind that stud line, too.

It had to be one of football’s greatest ironies that Tampa Bay would host the Rams for the right to play in the 1980 Super Bowl. It would be played in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, of all places.

McKay, who probably figured to be the Rams’ coach at one point due to his proximity with USC, watched the likes of George Allen and Chuck Knox coach the Rams during his Trojan years. Ray Malavasi had taken over from Knox.

Bell, of course, was the ex-Trojan playing against the pro team from his former college home town. Also for his former college coach.

newRickyBell-1
Ricky Bell, runner-up to Tony Dorsett in the 1976 Heisman Trophy race, was picked No. 1 overall in the NFL draft by Tampa Bay. He was the man that Redlands product Greg Horton blocked for when both became Buccaneer teammates in 1978 and 1979. Photo by Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Then there was Greg, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 260-pounder who grew up in Redlands – Rams’ country – before eventually getting shipped to L.A. by Chicago in 1976. He never played for the Bears. Eventually, he was traded by the Rams two games into the 1978 season, Greg found a home in Tampa.

This was a “worst to first” ride, one of pro football’s biggest turnarounds.

When Greg arrived in Tampa, the line consisted of Garry Puetz, a 12th round pick by the Jets in 1973, with 1975 Miami first rounder Darryl Carlton occupying right tackle. By 1979, Puetz and Carlton were no longer around.

Greg started out by playing left guard, eventually shifted to right guard to accommodate injuries to Hannah, plus any rebuilding taking shape under Gibbs and McKay.

Any team’s best defense is a good offense. During that era of ball control, clock-killing, run-oriented offenses is what kept the other team’s attacks on the sideline. It’s exactly what McKay had in mind with the Reavis-Horton-Wilson-Hannah-Roberts corps blocking for Williams and Bell (1,263 yards).

The Bucs were no different than Earl Campbell’s Houston Oilers. Or Walter Payton’s early days in Chicago. Line play had been huge around the likes of O.J. Simpson in Buffalo, Franco Harris in Pittsburgh, not to mention Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in Miami.

In Tampa Bay, Bell had been taken in the 1976 NFL draft ahead of Tony Dorsett, the Pittsburgh All-American selected by the Dallas Cowboys.

Defensively, onetime Oklahoma Sooner defensive end Lee Roy Selmon was named Associated Press MVP that season. Linebacker Richard Wood, another ex-Trojan that was originally drafted by the Jets, also played a key role on the Bucs’ defense.

BUCS’ PLAYOFF RUN

After a 10-6 regular season, it was Tampa Bay 24, Philadelphia 16 in the divisional playoff round – Bell bashing for 142 yards on 38 carries behind that Bucs’ line.

Suddenly, Tampa Bay, Bell, McKay, Greg, Wood & Co. had found themselves staring face to face with the Los Angeles Rams. The NFC championship was on the line.

From a 7-37 beginning to an 11-6 record heading into the NFC Championship, McKay had lifted the Bucs to pro football’s pinnacle.

Malavasi’s Rams finished 9-7, but stunned Dallas, 21-19, in the divisional round.

Their featured running back was UCLA product Wendell Tyler.

Vince Ferragamo had taken over as Rams’ QB from onetime USC shooter Pat Haden, who combined 24 interceptions with 16 TD passes.

Williams’ 24 picks and 18 TDs weren’t much better.

Each side would try and counter the other with ground games and staunch defense.

Surely, the Bucs’ defense would devour the Rams.

L.A. had a defense of its own – the Youngbloods, Reynolds, Fred Dryer, you name it.

The date was Jan. 6, 1980.

Both teams scored touchdowns.

Both were called back because of penalties.

It was a defensive slugfest.

Or an offensive bust.

The Rams’ defense stole the show, limiting the Bucs to a mere 177 total yards.

By contrast, L.A.’s Cullen Bryant ran for 106 yards. Tyler racked up 86 more. Ferragamo threw for 163 yards – no interceptions.

Williams gave way to backup Mike Rae, the pair combining for a total of 54 yards passing.

Rams’ placekicker Frank Corral hit field goals of 19, 21 and 23 yards.

Final score, Rams 9, Bucs 0.

After a dozen years of seeing the Packers, Colts, Vikings and Cowboys reach the Super Bowl, the Rams became the first NFC Western Division team to advance to the NFL’s title game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Part 3 next week.

PART 1 – GREG HORTON WAS A SUPERIOR REDLANDS FORCE

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

He was sitting across the table from me at lunch.

A fast-food burger joint. On Colton Ave.

In the old days, when he played for Redlands High in the 1960s, this place probably never existed.

This NFL workhorse, who blocked for some ultra-strong Redlands High Terrier teams, got recruited to play at Colorado, was drafted by the Chicago Bears, then launched a successful pro career that ended in the United States Football League after about a decade.

Greg Horton, who died in 2015 at age 65, had plenty of cherished memories on the football field. He played in some big games. Went up against high school greats. Against some collegiate All-Americans, NFL All-Pro and Hall of Fame talent. Football insight was keen, endless.

As a Terrier at Redlands High, Greg was, perhaps, one of the biggest of their long list of football studs. The coaches there were legends – Frank Serrao, Greg’s coach, Paul Womack, both having been preceded by Ralph “Buck” Weaver, perhaps considered the father of Terrier football.

At lunch that day, I knew what Greg wanted. He had invested in a business, located a couple hundred feet from where we were eating. Naturally, he wanted it to succeed. Greg needed publicity. It was some kind of workout program, if I remember correctly.

Not my job, actually. There are business owners around Redlands who would give 12 of their toes for such publicity. Greg, by virtue of his NFL notoriety, his “homegrown” status, not to mention those many times he’d sat down for one-on-one interviews, was calling in a few favors.

I was walking a fine line on this one. It would’ve been impossible to give him exactly what he wanted. I was in sports, not news, or business.

GREG HORTON
An early shot. Redlands’ Greg Horton. Photo by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He’d have preferred, I’m certain, for me to completely focus on his new enterprise – the specials, its purpose, investors, the nuts and bolts, everyone involved – as the focal point of the piece. Like I said, I wasn’t a business reporter.

Plus, I could just see plenty of other business owners that advertised in that paper. They’d be outraged by such favorable press on Horton’s new venture, insisting upon being interviewed about their own businesses. I had to be careful.

In this city, Greg had more than paid his dues. You’d think the hometown paper owed him one. Our publisher sounded against the idea. So did the advertising director. I didn’t even convene with the editor. Okay, at least I asked.

Professional standards abounded.

Greg might have stood at the head of the line of Redlands High football players – NFL, high-level collegiate play, NFL championship-level, connections, battered and bruised on field, taking on some of the sport’s greatest champions.

HORTON PAID HIS DUES

This guy was from Redlands.

He’d coached plenty of locals, headed up the city’s booster club, the Benchwarmers, provided an endless amount of support for almost anything the kids needed.

As an assistant line coach at the University of Redlands one year – mid-1980s – I can remember him going after a University of San Diego defender after a game. The USD kid had cheap-shotted one of the Bulldog players.

It was the kind of play Greg knew better than anyone. He knew all the lineman’s tricks – illegal high-low blocking techniques, going for an unguarded knee, hitting from behind, you name it – so when he saw that taking place in a NCAA Division 3 (non-scholarship) game, Greg took offense.

He went after the USD player, briefly, then turned to the injured Bulldog.

“Are you all right?”

Greg wasn’t exactly my biggest fan. He never turned me away for an interview, though. I just didn’t strike well with him, I think. In fact, he was highly critical when he showed up – among other parents, school officials, Terrier football players and coaches – at what appeared to be a public slap-down of current Redlands High coach Dave Perkins during the 1990 season.

While some parents were after Perkins’ job, Horton’s public tirade was directed at me. It was something like, “The guy in the newspaper” (me) “needs to remember this is about the kids.”

Greg seemed to scream those words, an emotional outburst.

Truth is, a parents’ group wanted Perkins gone. Fired. My presence at that meeting, however, curtailed any outward signs of outrage. I’m not certain if Greg was anti-Perkins and felt my presence nullified the meeting’s outcome.

In fact, I’m certain I was specifically invited there that night to keep things under wraps. No one has a desire to be quoted in the press when they’re doing something underhanded. Right?

Perkins, who had back-to-back 3-7 seasons in 1990 and 1991, held onto his job that night. My guess is that Greg was there to back Perkins. I was there simply to report.

Greg, for his part, probably never saw any of that while he wore a Terrier uniform in the 1960s. Womack, coach. No parents’ groups. Just a bunch of high school players lighting up Friday nights during the fall.

09_Billick_PreviewPreseason_news
Brian Billick, a Redlands product whose eventual coaching career landed him at the height of NFL play, settled in as a pro football broadcaster when his days as Baltimore Ravens’ coach concluded in 2007. Photo by the Baltimore Ravens.

This may be controversial, but Greg may well be Redlands’ greatest Connection to the NFL world, at least as a player. Then again, it might be Brian Billick – who came along just a couple years after Horton – the man who coached the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl.

While Billick was developing his mind toward coaching at the highest of levels, Greg goes down as a weight room product who lifted himself to the heights of high school play, tops among collegiate programs and into the world of NFL play.

Part 2 next week.

SCHACHTER: FLAGGED FOR BAD CALL BY ROZELLE

NFL head referee Norm Schachter, whose early beginnings in education and officiating took place in Redlands, is shown at halftime with Kansas City Chiefs’ coach Hank Stram at the first Super Bowl at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Note: Schachter was known for wearing jersey No. 56, so it’s unclear why he’s wearing No. 60. Unknown photo credit, most likely by Associated Press.

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

Norm Schachter, it should be noted, was suspended along with his entire six-man crew, by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. During a crucial game between Los Angeles and Chicago on Dec. 8, 1968, Schachter’s crew denied the Rams a crucial down in a 17-16 loss to the Bears.

You never hear about stuff like that. Fifteen years later, I had a chance to ask Schachter about the play. About the call. About the suspension.

Rozelle, who played his part in Redlands during his days as the Rams’ public relations man, called the crew “competent.”

The Rams, though, had thrown three incomplete passes in the late stages of that game. A penalty flag was thrown into the mix. The down, however, was not replayed.

“The ball was turned over to Chicago,” Rozelle said in his statement, “thus depriving Los Angeles of a fourth down play to which it was entitled.”

Five seconds were remaining. Ball at L.A.’s 47. Thirty-one yards were needed for a first down.

Schachter was a class act. He came to Redlands a few times during my years at the local newspaper. Most of those visits came in the 1980s and 1990s. Seems he had some remaining “connections” there that continued for many years despite such a brief stay in Redlands during his early days.

I think guys like former student Jim Sloan, a photographer who, among others, were happy to pronounce a connection to a guy that had a bird’s eye view of pro football.

OTHER REFS FROM LOCAL AREA

There were other officials from the area, including Redlands’ John Fouch, Sr. Down the road a bit, from Rialto, was Al Jury.

Fouch, a major high school star at Santa Ana High School turned into a superstar at Santa Ana Junior College before heading off to USC, where he shared the 1949 Trojan backfield with future NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford.

JOhn Fouch, Sr
John Fouch, Sr., a Santa Ana product who moved to Redlands to raise his family, played in the same USC backfield as Frank Gifford, eventually spending 15 years as an NFL referee (photo by Santa Ana College).

Fouch wore NFL zebra stripes for 15 years. The head referee in his crew was Red Cashion, the guy with the enthusiastically signature, “first dowwwwwwn” call. Eventually, Fouch moved to Redlands.

After all those years away, Schachter still seemed impressed with Redlands despite moving from the small orange grove-covered community.

Schachter was generous to me with his time and comments.

Redlands, he said, “was a very nice little community when I taught and reffed here.”

Schachter carried around a significant sense of humor. He proved it with some of his responses.

I spent several minutes prepping for my interview with him. Was there ever a moment where you made a bad call – and knew it? (The suspension question would come later.)

“I don’t waste time second-guessing myself,” he said. “There’ll be millions who will do it for you.”

Talk on an NFL field must be pretty horrifying.

“Oh, really?” he said. “I never heard that.”

Sarcasm was a nice little exercise for Schachter, who probably heard it all.

“Listen,” he said, “when players lose it in their legs, they gain it in their mouths.”

Oh, yeah. It was Sloan who told me to ask him about the time his crew had been suspended.

Refs aren’t perfect, though they’re probably expected to be. That December 1968 game between the Rams and Bears might have been his lowest point.

“Holding call on the Rams,” he said, explaining the suspension. “Fifteen yards in those days. Spot foul, too. We didn’t replay the down. That was the issue.”

He looked at me. Anything else? It was like he was saying, “I dare you to ask me anything more about it.”

So I took the dare. “How many times have you been asked about that?”

That drew a slight chuckle. “I lost count around 20,000 …”

I hadn’t even planned this next question. “Ever think about the fact that it was Rozelle, that he used to work for the Rams, that suspended you?”

I can’t even recall Schachter’s response. Since I didn’t put it in my article, I didn’t record it for posterity.

It was only a six-man crew during that era. It wasn’t until 1978 that a side judge was added, making NFL officiating crews a seven-man unit. The afore-mentioned Jury was one of those “seventh” men hired that season.

“Pete hit us pretty hard with the suspension,” he said. “No more games for the rest of that season, including the playoffs. We were back the following season.”

Redlands: It’s where his officiating career began. Local games. There couldn’t have been many. High schools were scarce. San Bernardino and Riverside just had one campus, like Redlands. Colton. Chaffey, in Ontario. Fontana and Eisenhower, in Rialto, didn’t even have their own high schools.

CLOSE CALLS & CONFESSIONS

He’d written “Close Calls: Confessions of an NFL Referee” in the early 1980s. The guy was an author. An official of famous NFL games. Never read the book. Can only guess how it was presented.

He also wrote text books. After his on-field days concluded, he worked for the league writing referees’ exams and other data. He edited the league’s rules book.

His “Confessions” book: Stories, humorous anecdotes, nuggets about his professional career in education. After starting as a Redlands English teacher in 1941, Schachter eventually became a principal at Los Angeles High School, later surfacing as superintendent (1971-78) in the L.A. school system.

All the appropriate names were in “Confessions” – Lombardi, Starr, Butkus, Papa Bear, Shula, Madden, Paul Brown, Van Brocklin, you name it. Hired by Commissioner Bert Bell in the 1950s – $100 a game, 7-game minimum.

Pete_Rozelle_and_George_Halas
Pete Rozelle, left, who once served as a public relations specialist when the Rams trained in Redlands throughout the 1950s, shakes hands with George “Papa Bear” Halas, the longtime owner, coach and general manager of the Chicago Bears. Halas drafted Redlands’ Greg Horton in the 1974 NFL draft – third round out of Colorado. All part of a Redlands Connection. Photo by Jim Summaria

“No,” Schachter said, “none of those guys ever spent time buying me dinner and drinks.”

He retired following the 1976 Super Bowl, Pittsburgh’s 21-17 win over Dallas – Schachter’s third Super Bowl. He’d worked Green Bay’s 35-10 win over Kansas City, then Super Bowl V when Baltimore beat Dallas, 16-13, and the Steelers-Cowboys finale.

Twenty-two years in the striped shirt. Brooklyn-born, a U.S. Marine, married to Charlotte for 56 years, sired three sons, Bob, Tom and Jim. Norm Schachter studied for a doctorate at Alfred (N.Y.) University. For Schachter, the end came in San Pedro. Age 90. Died in an old folks home.

It was a long way from the famous Green Bay-Dallas “Ice Bowl” game where he was spotted wearing ear muffs in the freezing weather.

COMING – Super Bowl’s connection to Redlands.

SAN BERNARDINO KIWANIS: MADE FOR REDLANDS

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

A few nuggets about a Redlands Connection:

Both Redlands High School and, eventually, city rival Redlands East Valley became connected to the San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament as 100-percenters – but in different ways.

Ever since the tournament started in 1958, the Terriers have been rabid entries to a tournament that was once considered the prime time of prep basketball, perhaps, in two counties.

REV, meanwhile, joined the fray in 1997, when the school opened for the first time. Ever since, the Wildcats – their only coach, Bill Berich – have taken the floor against any and all opponents at the Kiwanis.

As for Kiwanis tournament dedication, look no further than Randy Genung. He coached the Terriers in the Kiwanis for a staggering total of 25 years, 1977 through 2001. After that, Brad Scott took over as head coach while Genung assisted through 2010. That’s 33 straight years at the Kiwanis.

Randy-Danny-Profile photo by Harr Travel
As a coach, longtime Redlands High coach Randy Genung, left, watched the Terriers in a staggering 33 times from the bench while his son, Danny, right, is a one-time San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament selection. Photo by Harr Travel.

Redlands, now under current coach Ted Berry for the past few seasons, just completed play in the 60th San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament. The Terriers reached the finals, but lost to Barstow.

Incidentally, the Terriers have played in every single Kiwanis Tournament event since the first one in 1958.

As for the Kiwanis tourney, it’s still standing amid a remarkable stretch of history.

SOME KEY NAMES FROM KIWANIS HISTORY

Greg Bunch?

Fred Lynn?

Greg Hyder?

John Masi, Scott Kay and Ty Stockham?

Those are a few of the past players who have shown up to play in San Bernardino.

While we awaited the outcome of the 60th annual San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament, we’re reminded of the spectacular past performances of those high schoolers that came looking for tournament hardware, either a team title or all-tournament recognition.

Bunch, for instance, was the 34th player selected in the 1978 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. Out of Cal State Fullerton. He was a 6-foot-6 forward who made the all-tournament team in 1973 for Pacific.

Lynn, of course, was remembered for a brilliant baseball career. The El Monte High player was a 1968 Kiwanis all-tournament selection.

Hyder’s high school career at Victor Valley, coached by prep legend Ollie Butler, eventually led him to becoming the 39th pick in the 1970 NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).

Kay, meanwhile, was tournament MVP in 1969. Years later, he coached San Bernardino High School to tournament titles with players like Bryon Russell – the Utah Jazz forward who was guarding against Michael Jordan’s game-winner in the 1997 NBA championship.

Russell, incidentally, was two-time Kiwanis tournament MVP in 1987 and 1988.

Masi, of course, turned up as UC Riverside coach during some brilliant days when the Highlanders dominated NCAA Division 2.

Stockham, the son of San Gorgonio coaching legend Doug Stockham, was another all-tournament player that also wound up leading his team to a tourney championship as a coach.

Part of the past includes Ken Hubbs, an original all-tourney selection in 1958.

Hubbs’ legacy, of course, is that he played major league baseball for the Chicago Cubs – winning 1962 National League Rookie of the Year honors – and was killed in an airplane crash shortly before spring training began in 1964.

Eventually, the Ken Hubbs Award was established. Such Kiwanis stars – San Bernardino’s Kyle Kopp and Shelton Diggs, Redlands’ Chad Roghair and Eisenhower’s Ronnie Lott, among others – won the Hubbs honors.

It’s left the Kiwanis with plenty of tradition, history and quite a continuing legacy.

NOBODY BIGGER THAN TARK

More tradition: Jerry Tarkanian, whose coaching legend started after leaving Redlands High School in 1961, brought his Terrier team into the mix at the 1960 Kiwanis. Danny Wolthers was picked on the five-player all-tourney team.

Tarkanian, of course, left Redlands for Riverside City College, departing for Pasadena City College – coaching five State titles for the Tigers and Lancers – before landing at Long Beach State (122-20 from 1968-73).

Ultimately, his travels took him to Nevada-Las Vegas (509-105 from 1974-92), leading the Runnin’ Rebels to the 1990 national championship.

Final coaching record – 784-202.

Footnote: It was during his Redlands days that Tark began his well-known history for chomping on wet towels during games.

Redlands and San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament connections are seemingly endless.

Kim-Aiken poto by Redlands Rotary Club
Two-time San Bernardino Kiwanis all-tournament selection Kim Aiken is now playing at Eastern Washington University. Photo by Redlands Rotary Club.

Sixty Years of Redlands Tournament Players

Here is a list of the all-tournament players from Redlands High School and Redlands East Valley (all players through 2003 represented RHS; afterward the school is indicated):

  • 1958 – Tom Fox
  • 1960 – Danny Wolthers
  • 1963 – Tom McCutcheon, Jim Gardner
  • 1967 – Randy Orwig
  • 1977 – Don Smith, Pat Keogh
  • 1978 – Tom McCluskey
  • 1980 – Mark Tappan
  • 1981 – James Sakaguchi
  • 1982 – Jon Hansen
  • 1983 – Jon Hansen (MVP), Mark Smith
  • 1986 – Jared Hansen
  • 1987 – Chad Roghair
  • 1989 – Fritz Bomke
  • 1990 – Marcus Rogers
  • 1991 – Ledel Smith
  • 1992 – Eddie Lucas
  • 1993 – Mike Allen
  • 1994 – Nick Day
  • 1985 – Jon Allen, Chris Harvey
  • 1996 – Johnny Avila
  • 1997 – Eric Siess
  • 1998 – Eric Siess
  • 1999 – Danny Genung
  • 2003 – Richard Vazquez, Michael Estrada, Matt Mirau
  • RHS 2004 – Mychal Estrada
  • REV 2004 – Brandon Dowdy, Jacob Letson, Lance Evbuomwan (MVP)
  • RHS 2005 – Mike Solimon
  • REV 2005 – Lance Evbuomwan, Darnell Ferguson, Brandon Dowdy
  • RHS 2006 – Tristan Kirk, Alex Wolpe, Josh Green
  • RHS 2007 – Josh Green (MVP), Tristan Kirk, Ricky Peetz, Nate Futz
  • REV 2007 – Robert Ellis, Jamell Simmons
  • RHS 2008 – Tristan Kirk, Ricky Peetz, Matt Green
  • REV 2008 – Ryan Griggs
  • RHS 2009 – Matt Green, Hinsta Kifle
  • RHS 2010 – Ashton Robinson
  • REV 2010 – Greg Dishman, Terrell Todd, Paulin Mpawe
  • REV 2011 – Jamal Ellis
  • REV 2012 – Eli Chuha
  • RHS 2013 – Brad Motylewski, Kamren Sims
  • REV 2013 – Eli Chuha
  • RHS 2014 – Brad Motylewski
  • REV 2014 – Chris Harper (MVP), Julian Sinegal, Alex Ziska
  • RHS 2015 – Samer Yeyha, Davonte Carrier
  • REV 2015 – Kim Aiken, Brett Vansant
  • RHS 2016 – Olivier Uzabakiriho
  • REV 2016 – Kim Aiken
  • RHS 2017 – Brian Landon
  • REV 2017 – Sebastian Zerpa, Mykale Williams