by Hal Lamar
We need another pro football league!!!
I watched the NFL network’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony August 8 from Canton Ohio. I was delighted to see “bullet” Bob Hayes of Florida A&M University make the grade (When Hayes played at FAMU, the school was in the SIAC). He is the second SIAC gridder in as many years to make it to the Hall. Last year, Fort Valley State’s offensive line sensation Rayfield Wright of Griffin Georgia made the grade.
Also inducted was Ralph Wilson Junior, the only owner the Buffalo Bills have ever had. He was one of the pioneers of the American Football League, which for nearly 15 years was the rival to the NFL. If the truth be told, the AFL and principally Dallas Texans and later Kansas City Chiefs Coach Hank Stram (owner Lamar Hunt moved the franchise to Kansas City in the early 60s) provided a lot of players from historically black colleges and universities the opportunity to play football at the next level. Keep in mind it was the AFL, not the NFL, that drafted the first HBCU player in the first round of any draft via Birmingham, Alabama and Grambling State pride and joy Junius “ Buck” Buchanan (who is in the Hall). He is survived in Atlanta by a sister , Betty Buchanan Barksdale who’s southwest Atlanta home is laden with mementos of her late brother. Seems a floodgate of HBCU players followed to include Willie “Honey Bear”Lanier (Morgan State), Otis Taylor ( Prairie View), Solomon Brannon (Morris Brown) and even Atlanta’s own Charlie Bivins (Morris Brown), a second round pick of the Buffalo Bills who chose to go with the Chicago Bears in lieu.
Wilson talked about the formative years of the AFL and how Hunt decided that since he couldn’t get a franchise in the NFL, he’d create a league of his own. Wilson said he initially tried to locate an AFL franchise in Miami but “they turned us down to play in the Orange Bowl,” I went back north and forgot about it. But a few days later, Lamar called me and said he would give me a choice of five cities to locate a franchise. . I chose Buffalo.”
I’m sure that fat pockets like Hunt and Wilson were told it was foolish to try and buck the big bad NFL but that didn’t stop them from plunging right in .I gathered from Wilson’s comments that their aim was not moving the NFL to merge their league into theirs. That came later and , says Wilson, at the insistence of the NFL.
I really believe that another professional football league is sorely needed. The number of draftees from HBCUs has shrunk significantly the last few years and those who seemed draftable were looked over. To make it work, the league must have owners who’s hidden agenda is not to seize the opportunity to muscle their way into the NFL. That is largely why I think the World Football League and the USFL collapsed.(Xtreme Football was a joke that had no business on anybody’s ball field or TV screen). It also seemed to me that arena football was rolling right along until the NFL took an interest. After that, the league died. Last year, some enterprising investors attempted to organize the All American Football League but never got a first season off the ground after some promised financing fell by the boards. If there is sincere interest in establishing a pro league in towns like Birmingham, Alabama which has proven in the past it can and will support pro-caliber football and focus on making the league strong and stand-alone, I believe it will prosper and give college athletes an additional avenue to ply their trade……….
INSIDE THE SIAC: I am behind on my conference current events. I was unaware that Russell Boone, the longtime SID at Fort Valley State, had been dismissed. Boone’s replacement, I’ve learned, is former CAU SID Charles Ward. ….The new SID for the conference is Reuben Perez, formally of Clark-AU. Perez has worked at the Division one level as assistant SID at Savannah State University. He is well suited for this post and I applaud SIAC Commissioner Moore for the hire …….
Clark AU has a freshman walk-on named Jeff Chaskin who is 43 years old! The native of Detroit told INSIDE that he wanted to make amends with his family for the mess he made of his early life via drugs, alcohol and jail time. “ He said he wanted a chance and I gave it to him,” said CAU Head Coach Ted Bahhur. Chaskin, who is white said he isn’t fazed about that. “ The high school I attended in Detroit had only seven white students,” he told INSIDE. I’m colorblind. My teammates have accepted and support(ed) me regardless of my color or my age.”
“Jeff is going to have a positive influence on this team” said Bahhur. “ When these guys see him beating them in the 40 at age 43, they are going to work that much harder themselves.”
By the way, Chaskin, who is a tight end, wears his age. His jersey number is 43.
Hal’s SIAC Predictions for week one
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