New York Jets win Super Bowl III revisits Joe Namath’s famous garuntee.

North County 1/26/94

SUPER BOWL III: SETTING THE STAGE FOR ALL THE REST

A quarter century has passed since the 18-point underdog, New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts in the third AFL/NFL Championship Game; the first such a contest to be called Super Bowl. It was the story of the brash, new, and rebellious versus the old, guarded establishment in a time when similar battles outside of sports were commonplace. In the span of an afternoon almost 50 years of pro football history was altered, and by evening everything that had come before would look different.

The Jets represented the upstart American Football League, an alternative pro league that in 1960 challenged the 40-year monopoly of the NFL. The AFL had battled for five years to establish franchises, procure talent, and gain an audience in the shadow of the NFL. It took a bright, shining star to finally burn away the shadows and put the junior league on the map.

In 1965 that star shined on New York Jets owner, Sonny Werblin when he offered the richest contract in the game ($427,000) to potential NFL number one pick, Joe Namath.

Joe NamathAlthough he never saw him throw a pass for the University of Alabama, the showbiz mogul had a hunch that with his piercing good looks and distinct persona, Namath would be just what the AFL’s big market city needed. “The star system,” Werblin argued. “is the only thing that sells tickets.”

Jets doctors felt signing Namath would be a risk, with his many knee operations, but Werblin’s marketing instincts and record offer paid off. A year after Namath signed with New York, league attendance rose, and television ratings increased, prompting the NFL to call for a meeting that would iron out a deal to quit their war over talent and franchise rights. Both leagues would merge in 1970 and it was decided that for the four remaining years an annual title game between league champions would be played at the end of each season. “On that day,” said AFL founder, Lamar Hunt. “We established what we wanted, and that was parity.”

Unfortunately, for Hunt, Werblin, and the AFL, the deal did not include mutual respect. The prevailing sentiment among the media, fans, and most insultingly, the NFL players, was that the merger was a big favor for the lesser league. The outcome of the first two championship games seemed to put to rest any doubts of this as Vince Lombardi’s legendary Green Back Packers made short work of the Kansas City Chiefs (35-10) in the first and the Oakland Raiders (33-14) in the second. Lombardi, the man for whom the Super Bowl trophy would be named, felt the NFL had more than adequately proved its case.

By the time Joe Namath led his Jets through a solid 11-3 season and an AFL title in December of 1968, everyone in the football world thought New York would be fodder for the 15-1 Baltimore Colts.

The Jets received the ball first; and on their second play from scrimmage powerful fullback, Matt Snell slammed into Colts safety, Rick Volk. Volk was recognized as one of the toughest tacklers in the pros. “When Rick hits you,” said young Colts head coach, Don Shula, “you might not get up.” This time it was Volk who did not get up.

The Colts finished their season by winning 10 straight with a devastating defense that had broken the NFL mark for the fewest points allowed in a season. Unlike the Jets thrilling 27-24 victory over the Raiders, the Colts destroyed the Cleveland Browns 34-0 in the NFL title game. “This is the hungriest team I ever saw,” said Baltimore’s all-pro tight end, John Mackey. The so-called experts agreed. The Jets, they all said, would have no chance.

Namath seized the moment. Upon arriving in Miami, the man the media dubbed, “Broadway Joe” ripped the Colts’ defense for being “predictable and easy to deceive.” He told the eager press that although Colts quarterback, Earl Morrall did a bang up job winning the Most Valuable Player honors in the NFL, he would have had a hard time cracking the top five signal callers in his AFL. Then, on the Thursday before the big game at a dinner honoring him as the AFL’s MVP, Namath stood at the podium and boldly announced, “We’re going to win Sunday, I guarantee you.”

The Colts, many of whom had already spent their winner’s share, wanted nothing better than to embarrass New York and their loudmouthed quarterback. Jets head coach Weeb Eubank, having led the Colts to an NFL crown ten years earlier, reminded his team that many of them were once considered “not good enough” for the NFL. “Now you have the opportunity to show them otherwise,” he told them.

At 3:00 PM on January 12, 1969, the long-haired wild bunch from the Big Apple and the God-fearing crewcuts from the working class town, stood 53 yards across the great divide of respect.

The Jets received the ball first; and on their second play from scrimmage powerful fullback, Matt Snell slammed into Colts safety, Rick Volk. Volk was recognized as one of the toughest tacklers in the pros. “When Rick hits you,” said young Colts head coach, Don Shula, “you might not get up.” This time it was Volk who did not get up.

The story of Super Bowl III had begun.

The Colts spent much of the first quarter self-destructing on offense. Interceptions, missed field goals, and busted plays left the game scoreless; and more importantly, with 14:09 remaining in the half, left the door of opportunity open for Namath to back up his words.

Starting from the 20-yard line, Namath handed to Snell three times for a first down. The Colts front line, anchored by the ferocious Bubba Smith, squeezed in tighter, allowing the Jets QB to pass for short but solid gains to wide receiver, George Sauer. Suddenly, for the first time in the game the Jets were in Baltimore territory. The Colts looked angered and confused, the Jets fluid and efficient. “Standing in that press box and watching Namath unravel the NFL myth,” remembers veteran broadcaster, Howard Cosell, “was a thing to behold.”

A quick 12-yard pass to Snell moved the Jets to the Colts 9-yard line. Baltimore’s madman linebacker, Mike Curtis screamed at his defense. Snell ran for five more. Across the field in the stands Lamar Hunt clapped his hands in excitement. Shula clenched his fists in bemused anger. Snell ran for four yards and a touchdown. The Jets were ahead, and never looked back.

For most of the second half Namath played the befuddled Colts defense like a virtuoso, leading to three Jim Turner filed goals. Down 16-0 Shula called on the injured but lengendary Johnny Unitus to save the day as he had countless times over a then stellar13-year career; and with the a little over three minutes left in the game, the Colts scored their only touchdown. But it was way too little, and far too late.

“I stood in the Orange Bowl with tears of joy streaming down my face,” said Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson. “All of us in the league won that game, and underdogs everywhere could feel good that afternoon.”

The AFL is gone now, but 25 Super Bowls later the memory still lingers. Sometimes in sports like in life, it takes years to gain respect. Sometimes it only takes an afternoon.

Books by James Campion are available on this web site or at Amazon & Barnes & Nobleclick to order

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Four Quarters to Four Downs – Yorktown Football vs. Gorton Football 1993 Section One Championship

North County 11/10/93

FOUR QUARTERS TO FOUR DOWNS

It was a cold, brisk Saturday night at Somers High School; the field that would play host to the Class B Section One High School Football Championship of New York. The crowd was large, the lights were bright, and the stakes were high. For the winner, a trip to the first-ever state play-offs. For the loser, a trip home.

Ron Santavicca’s Yorktown Cornhuskers had seven wins and one loss. Don Dematteo’s Gorton Wolves had seven wins and one loss. Two fine coaches of two great teams playing four quarters of the most heart-stopping football either one had ever seen. Two best friends, about as close as could be, on separate sidelines, 50 yards apart. Each one trying keep the other from moving on.

Forty-eight minutes had elapsed and both teams had 28 points. Two close friends, two great teams; dead even on the season, dead even on the scoreboard.

The Yorktown bench exploded; fists clenched and faces contorted in screams of motivation. Santavicca now looked to his defense.

The long summer of drills and practice, the weekly battles on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, the half-time speeches, the blackboard sketches, the fumbles and touchdowns; the highs and lows of six months of preparation for a right to play in this game. Four quarters played. Nothing had been decided.

Four downs for each team from the ten-yard line. Something called a Kansas City shoot-out. Eight downs to decide a season. Two friends. Two teams. Ten yards.

Gorton won the toss of the coin and DeMatteo elected to let Yorktown go first. If they could make it, Gorton would be able to equal the task. If they didn’t, the task would be at hand.

Across the field, DeMatteo looked almost serene, clad in green and clutching his clipboard with both hands; his defense forming a circle around him to listen for final instructions. Gazing down the yard-marker stripe, Santavicca looked coiled and ready — as if he were going into the contest at that very minute. Wearing his lucky shorts and jacket with a baseball cap pulled tightly to his head, he paced back and forth before addressing his converging troops.

The Yorktown offense jogged back onto the frozen turf, led by Brett Sowka, their capable, left-handed, senior quarterback, with enough skills to already have brought his team back twice in this game. Once in the first half, after trailing by 14, and once in the final quarter down by seven.

The first two plays would not be enough, and with two shots to go and three yards to pay dirt, Sowka scrambled over the left side of the Yorktown line looking for the end zone.

Instead, he met with two hard-charging Gorton defenders. Down went Sowka’s right shoulder, forward plowed his legs, and across the goal line all three of them fell. No fourth down was needed. Touchdown.

The Yorktown bench exploded; fists clenched and faces contorted in screams of motivation. Santavicca now looked to his defense. Across the field his friend knew that without a solid kicker, and having opted out of point-after tries all night, his offense would either win or lose. There would be only four more downs, and maybe, one more two point try. Either way, the Cornhuskers offense was done for the evening. Victory would now be in the hands of their league-leading defense; the cornerstone of the season, and the reason they were on the field in the first place.

Gorton QB, Jose Cruz had put together a pretty good night himself; passing and running for TDs. But that was all history now. It was four more downs for the title. Three of those downs had left him and his offense one yard short. Then a motion penalty on the left side of the line pushed it back to the six. It would have to be six yards in one play or the season for Gorton was over.

DeMatteo’s sideline was silent and pensive, waiting for a decision one way or the other. Santavicca’s sideline was screaming about “one more play” and how they could call themselves champs and squeeze another game out of the 1993 football season. Somebody turned around with a mile-wide grin and said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Time stood still. The crowd started an uncontrollable cheer. Both sides, no matter whom they rooted for, applauded the effort. The officials bit down hard on their whistles and smiled. Yorktown dug in. Gorton snapped the ball.

Cruz started to run to the right of the line looking into the night–into the endzone–for someone in a green uniform. He saw nothing but silver and white. He continued to run. DeMattteo hugged his clipboard tighter. Santavicca wandered further onto the field, closer to the action.

Cruz kept running. Suddenly, he turned up field to the four, the three, but at the two yard-line the Yorktown defense met him. The game was over. No more plays on this night. No more games for Gorton.

Covered with dirt and jubilation, the Cornhuskers spilled onto the field to jump on top of one another. In the excitement of the moment the two coaches, these two friends who entered the coaching ranks on the same year long ago, embraced with tears streaming down their faces. In the midst of the exploding mayhem, in the middle of the field, they thanked each other for this magnificent game, and mostly for the friendship.

DeMatteo took his clipboard home. Santavicca pushed his lucky hat back on his head and headed for another game against an unknown team on a neutral field somewhere far from the electricity of a night that four quarters was not enough for victory. Two friends. Two teams. Four quarters. Seven plays. One great memory.

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The Retirement of Michael Jordan reports on the first time Jordan steps down from the Chicago Bulls.

North County 10/13/93

THE NEW JORDAN RULES

Michael JordanMichael Jordan is tired of being Michael Jordan.

Sports version of Elvis Presley has decided to hand in his celebrity card at the expense of the game he loves. A game that has loved him back, like few games have loved an athlete before. It is impossible to believe anybody could have that kind of love affair with a sport again.

For the last three years basketball’s premier attraction has played no less than 120 games a season, won three titles, and captured his second gold medal, which has apparently capped a career that will leave no doubt who was the greatest talent to grace a professional basketball court. But it was never the game that pushed Michael Jordan around the way the glow of his star has, and in the last few years the backlash of fame has pushed him as far as he will go.

Gambling allegations, celebrity golf tournaments, endless endorsements, and finally, the brutal murder of his father this past summer, has pushed the world’s most recognizable personality to retire in his prime.

Since the day he held a basketball in his hand, Michael Jordan has been pushing back. Every challenge has been conquered with that ball in his hand. When the ball was absent, life, was not so simple.

No human being could be that proficient at anything else, have that much control in the outcome of events. Michael Jordan was as close to perfection as any athlete gets between the lines, but real life problems are not the final seconds of a fourth quarter when Jordan would clear the floor, ignore everyone in the jam-packed building, and take charge.

Michael Jordan didn’t become the icon that he is today until well into his pro career as a member of the Chicago Bulls, a mediocre franchise in a league that had been on it last legs until he, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson saved it.

Since the day he held a basketball in his hand, Michael Jordan has been pushing back. Every challenge has been conquered with that ball in his hand. When the ball was absent, life, was not so simple.

As a freshman, he was never the focal point of North Carolina’s 1982 national championship team. Dean Smith was known for coaching teams, not players; and even though it was young Jordan’s jump shot that sealed the win in the final seconds of the final game of the season, his stock seemingly failed to rise when two years later the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers passed him up in the NBA draft.

Jordan won the Rookie of the Year award just the same, turning the act of dunking a basketball into a work of art. How he soared above the crowded lane of giants, disseminating logic of physics, while sliding the ball through the cylinder as if it were an afterthought to his midair ballet.

But those beatific moments paled in comparison to the way he developed into the ultimate compete player. Jordan was a scoring machine, bleeding you with jumper after jumper, only to blow by you off the dribble. Then, when you had the rock, he was as tenacious a defender as the game had ever witnessed.

He was basketball’s Babe Ruth, and as one of the Bambino’s many biographers once told me, “It was as if he had come from another planet.”

Like Ruth, and the century’s most influential athlete, Muhammed Ali, he transcended not only his sport, but the world of sports itself.

But unlike those guys, Jordan calls it quits before the legend outlives the body. In fact, except for Rocky Marciano and Jim Brown, both of whom exited their sport at the pinnacle of excellence, nobody had ever walked away so soon, so good. But Marciano, undefeated in 49 professional bouts, chose to feed off every minute of his celebrity until his untimely death, and Brown, football’s version of Superman, took the first plane to Hollywood and hung his star on the silver screen.

Michael Jordan says he doesn’t want to make movies, or become America’s guest, or sit in a TV booth and stumble through inane analysis of a game he played as if he was imbued with divinity.

No, His Airness is trading in his crown for a golf club and an afternoon with his family. He’s trading in his million-dollar smile for a five-cent laugh with friends.

He walks away, for now. Will he return? I think it’s not as certain as his 15-foot fade away jump shot, but for today, the man will stop being everyone’s expectations of Michael Jordan. He’ll try to find that enthusiastic kid who wanted to take his God-given talent and make a run at a dream.

Then, and only then, will Michael Jordan be back.

For now, he’ll be someone else.

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Reggie White’s free-agent tour of the NFL ‘s analysis on free-agency in pro sports.

North County News 8/17/93

INMATES IN CHARGE

You have to feel for Reggie White. It’s not enough to be the most sought after free agent in the first year of the NFL bidding wars, but he’s currently burdened with attempting to restructure every team that is willing to shell out the big bucks to procure him.

When White blew through Jets’ camp last week, he was hit with the sudden urge to announce that the franchise should go ahead with its proposed trade with Cincinnati to acquire the services of one Boomer Esiason. The next day it was a done deal. On the surface, you might be inclined to view this as a man overstepping the boundaries of decorum, when in essence the guy just was trying to fit into the brand new trend in sport’s etiquette. From the looks of things, the people who sweat for a living are now donning power ties and dictating team policy.

“Athlete Management” is sweeping the New York area. The most influential, and usually the most expensive, player on a local team decides to take over the reigns of command by personal decree.

“Athlete Management” is sweeping the New York area. The most influential, and usually the most expensive, player on a local team decides to take over the reigns of command by personal decree.

Sure, you remember when Rangers’ captain, Mark Messier had philosophical differences with head coach, Roger Nielson. The five-time champion used his clout with Garden management and fans to run Nielson right out of town. Despite the fact that the team was coming off a season where they compiled the best record in the game, it was good-bye and good luck for Nielson.

Who could forget the exploits of Pepper Johnson, who had the bright idea of organizing a coup de tat against Giants’ defensive coordinator, Rod Rust because he and most of the spoiled veterans couldn’t quite get his scheme down. Of course, the simple matter of tackling the opposition with all the ferocity of the Brooklyn Boys Choir was never an issue.

Derrick Coleman spent all of the previous NBA season deciding when he felt like playing because in his mind his coach, Bill Fitch, was a lost puppy, and there would be no use trying for a guy that was headed for the unemployment line. So, when New Jersey Nets’ GM, Willis Reed sent Fitch packing, he asked Chuck Daly to consult with Coleman for approval..

Then of course there was the request that Jeff Torborg quit having all those meetings by the infamous, Vince Coleman. When the Mets’ invisible man led the rest of the team in his mini-revolt they were a few games under .500, and in some semblance of a pennant race. The meetings subsided and the Mets dropped out of sight.

So when you take a step back, you discover that Mr. White is just the new kid on the block trying to assimilate and pitch in for the greater good of the metropolitan sports scene. Apparently, when Reggie returns to talk to the Giants, he plans to address the long lines to the bathroom at half time.

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1993 Phillies ‘s on the scene lockerroom meeting with baseball’s wild bunch

North County 6/16/93

THE 1993 PHILLIES: AS ANIMATED AS THEY COME

Last weekend the first-place Philadelphia Phillies, the team with the best record in baseball, invaded Shea Stadium. I’d been hearing tall tales about this wild bunch; but as often happens in sports, a team is straddled with an animal image by the media that falls far short of its bite. It is always incumbent on beat writers to manipulate that vision of an animated bunch and turn them into a maniacal clan of loons crashing through the league like a band of pirates out of control. But although it sells newspapers and makes for interesting headlines, it is far from anything resembling the truth. So I decided to stop by the visitor’s clubhouse at Shea Stadium before a game to see for myself.

When I approached the door of the place I could already hear music blaring from within. The security guard leaning back on his chair skipped me as a look as if to say, “Are you sure you want to go in there?” But I’d heard loud rock music emanating from a winning clubhouses before, in fact, last year’s Braves locker room could have doubled for the set of Saturday Night Fever. Never mind the inner sanctum of the 1990 Cincinnati Reds when the Nasty Boys were romping their way to a title.

On cue, Kruk leapt to his feet, grabbed a ball, wound up and hurled an out-of-control pitch across the crowded clubhouse. This sent players, reporters and shocked witnesses scurrying for safety.

Once inside I was quickly, if not painfully, able to ascertain that this was no ordinary sound system; unless, of course, I wandered on stage at a Mettalica show. But even though the volume was close to excruciating, I had little trouble picking up the booming voice of catcher, Darren Daulton with amazing clarity.

“How many people are coming tonight?” he asked an unsuspecting clubhouse boy.

“About fifteen, sixteen thousand; I think,” the shaken young man answered meekly. Daulton then stood on a stool in front of his messy locker, a hulking man of 6’2 and 220 pounds, and bellowed. “That’s all that’s showing to see the battlin’ Phils?!”

Suddenly, a breeze blew by my ear. When I tuned to notice, Mickey Morandini, the pesky little second baseman sporting the ugliest goat-tee since Robin Hood, was swinging the biggest bat I’d ever seen just inches from my head. Above the din I could hear him mumbling, “Stay down on the ball” over and over with each swing.

Things were getting dangerous, so I moved to the corner lockers of feisty, Lenny Dyksra and burly, John Kruk; both in different stages of undress. The man they call “Nails”, back when he was patrolling centerfield for the New York Mets, was preoccupied with throwing his clothes in a feverish search for his lucky batting gloves. Where are my batting gloves?” Dykstra began to scream, his face getting more red with anger. “Don’t tell me I made this trip without my gloves?!”

Meanwhile, Kruk was busy entertaining Philly beat writers, who collectively seemed oblivious to this chaos, and spitting what I believed to be huge wads of tobacco from his gruff, portly face anywhere he deemed appropriate. The gregarious first baseman is not your basic finally tuned major leaguer, but a man born to play the lead role in a caveman flick. Yet he leads the National League in just about every offensive category, looking right at home with this biker gang masquerading as a baseball team.

Just then, former Phillies shortstop, and present third base coach Larry Bowa stormed in the scene to address Kruk’s pitching prowess. “Johnny,” he cracked. “Show us that backdoor slider.” On cue, Kruk leapt to his feet, grabbed a ball, wound up and hurled an out-of-control pitch across the crowded clubhouse. This sent players, reporters and shocked witnesses scurrying for safety.

This was about all I needed to see, when out of the back room sauntered Mitch Williams, the man who carries the moniker of “Wild Thing” like a badge of courage. He is an expert closer and a big reason this team is where it’s at in the standings. He also looked as though he’d just escaped from a mental institution. Just like everyone in this room, he has wild flowing hair, a ragged beard and what looked like a headband right out of Rambo wrapped around his sweaty forehead.

“Everybody shut-up!” he shouted. “Let’s play this game already, I’m gonna explode!”

As I was running out of there I could still hear him scream in that high-pitched squeal. “Take no prisoners!” And I couldn’t help thinking of three words of advice for the rest of the National League: Give up now.

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Remembering Jim Valvano ‘s moving eulogy for Jimmy V.

North County 5/5/93

REMEMBERING JIMMY V

Jim ValvanoWhen word came over my car radio last Wednesday that Jim Valvano had succumbed to cancer after a two-year battle that ended in a room at Duke University hospital, I immediately stopped to notice my surroundings. It just so happens that I found myself in a neighborhood much like the one in which Jimmy V grew up. I rolled to a stop across from a school yard where some kids were shooting hoops behind a twenty-foot fence.

As I watched them play, I thought about Jimmy dribbling around a similar school yard years ago. How he put his first shot through the orange cylinder, snapping the net.

How his father, already a successful coach, must have tutored him in the nuances of the game. The hours of practice that turns casual interest into a fanaticism that convinces a young man that life would no longer be worth living without it.

As the cool breeze of the day swept through my car window, I was frozen by the thought of all the impressionable minds a coach or teacher touch by handing down the love and passion for a sport; not just the nuts and bolts of it, but the way it feels to impart the knowledge of experience. To push a little farther ahead than perhaps even the student thinks he may go. To win the battle within, before the battle with the opposition can be won.

What Jim Valvano realized in the last weeks of his 47 years among us is that he had been hugging people all along. After all, isn’t that what teaching is all about? To embrace the eager mind, and mold it into a sculpture that reflects the devotion of their spirit.

In the last two years of his life, Jim Valvano was even better at touching us with his love and passion for life. Basketball was merely his metaphor, a vehicle to make us stand and take notice of his extraordinary personality. He cajoled us to witness his suffering while he smiled and joked his way through endless antidotes the way he always had before cancer had taken hold of his body.

He took on the fight the way he took his North Carolina State Wolfpack miracle team all the way past the powerful Houston Cougars in Albuquerque to win the 1983 National Championship.

It was not only the finest example of coaching in the history of the sport, pro or otherwise, it solidified the NCAA Tournament into the second biggest sporting event behind only the Super Bowl, but what we remember most about that night is the image of him running helplessly around the mass of elated humanity looking desperately for someone to hug.

What Jim Valvano realized in the last weeks of his 47 years among us is that he had been hugging people all along. After all, isn’t that what teaching is all about? To embrace the eager mind, and mold it into a sculpture that reflects the devotion of their spirit.

Books by James Campion are available on this web site or at Amazon & Barnes & Nobleclick to order

It was then that I realized what Jimmy V was saying when uttered, “Never give up,” his rallying cry those last few months. “Cancer can take my body, but it can’t take my mind and my heart and my soul.”

Jim Valvano is gone now, but his soul lives on in every kid who may pick up a basketball, or a bat, or a pencil. And even though they may never know his name, like those kids who were playing just outside my car on that cool spring afternoon, they will pass it on forever.

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Bob Klapish vs. Bobby Bonilla ‘s report on a baseball beat writer’s clash with N.Y. Mets player.

North County 4/14/93

CLUBHOUSE ETIQUETTE

Bob Klapish and John Harper were beat writers covering the pitiful 1992 Mets for rival newspapers in New York. Through years of work, and a network of contacts, they decided to jot down the various daily unmentionables a good reporter is normally privy to. Their combined efforts are documented in a new book entitled, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy.”

Fortuitously, Harper moved from the Post to the Yankees beat at the Daily News while Klapish was promoted to baseball columnist at the very same paper this off-season. Immediate retribution for the book from angered ball players was postponed.

As luck would have it, my co-host, Tom Ragone and myself welcomed Mr. Klapish as one of our many guests on last week’s “Sports Nite” radio program. After discussing the varied sexploits, back-stabbing, and name-calling mentioned in the tome, I posed this question: “When you cross paths with the gentlemen depicted in your book, what do expect from them?”

Having spent a considerable part of the past four summers in Major League locker rooms, I’m here to tell you it is no picnic. The players can be intimidating, and their humor and antics can often seem mean-spirited to an outsider. But you’re there to do a job, so you get your interview and move on.

“Believe me, they’re well aware of what’s in the book,” Klapish answered. “And as you can imagine, some of them are taking it pretty hard. But John and I didn’t write the thing to win any popularity contests.”

As fate would have it, Kaplish was pressed into Mets beat duty subbing for Steve Serby last Saturday, and while attempting to appropriate a quote from Dwight Gooden, he went toe to toe with Bobby Bonilla. Fresh off his own personal season in hell, Bonilla was extra surly, and decided to bodily threaten the writer on his turf; the clubhouse.

Having spent a considerable part of the past four summers in Major League locker rooms, I’m here to tell you it is no picnic. The players can be intimidating, and their humor and antics can often seem mean-spirited to an outsider. But you’re there to do a job, so you get your interview and move on.

When you look at this from a matter of trust, you probably side with Bonilla. Let’s face it, when players smile at us, and tell us that money has nothing to do with their motivation for playing the game while they rake in the dough, we rip them good. So what’s fair is fair, and Klapish and his buddy took trusted relationships built from off-the-record quotes and outside-the-lines activity and turned it into a profit-making proposition.

Is it wrong? Absolutely not. Is it a standup nice thing to do? Probably not. But Klapish doesn’t care either way. Can you blame any player for becoming a bit perturbed?

This, of course, does not absolve Bonilla from childish act of threatening another man with bodily harm, but just like when the Mets’ right-fielder strikes out with the bases loaded, Klapish must face the music.

The prediction here is that Bobby Bo and his tormentor will kiss and make up. Klapish is a fine baseball writer with great influence, connections, and a foothold in New York sports; and Bonilla, who is obviously overwhelmed by the pressures of playing for big money in the Big Apple, won’t be around nearly as long.

Which illustrates once again that the pen is mightier than the bat.

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DogVoices, The Nerds and the Jersey Shore Rock Scene – Author of Deep Tank Jersey, James Campion tells all!

Press

More Sugar 7/98

ROCK N’ ROLL SURVIVOR TELLS ALL

by Jonathan O’Brien

JCLocal author, James Campion has been hiding out in his Putnam Valley residence for some time now, claiming safe refuge from the “harmful and disconnected” and recovering from his summer trip into what he has often described as the “core of insanity.” Luckily he lived to write it all down and it appears unabridged and all-too real in his book, “Deep Tank Jersey,” an underground bestseller that has recently found its way into book stores.

Campion began writing his story as a “fly on the wall” through the New Jersey Club Circuit; a haven for rock bands, vampires, wild women, and the cream of the lunatic fringe, but before long he was dragged into its vortex and came out, by his own admission, a changed man. The tales along the road with Dog Voices, a successful cover band and monsters of the party highway, range from bizarre to sublime to often times touching. His honest account of the subterranean world of the night life will open the eyes of even the most grizzled veterans of any bar-hopping experience.

Mostly “Deep Tank Jersey” studies the people who make this world run: club owners, patrons, bouncers, roadies, bartenders, bar maids, sound engineers, and the musicians who lay it on the line every night for a cheer and a buck. To date it is the only book of its kind which delves into the true grit; stumbles and triumphs of a struggling band cashing its weekly check. No one is spared Campion’s satirical wit and the best perk is that it is all true. Anyone who has been in a band, worked in, or frequented any rock club will enjoy Campion’s jaunt through a circus life of crazies and big hearts who have called the edge home.

Hundreds of copies have been sold in clubs, word of mouth and on the Internet and the feedback has ranged from positive to outright mortified, especially from people who appear in the book. Campion did not change the names to protect the innocent or guilty and claims that the mail he receives through DogVoices mostly centers around religious or AA groups who pray for his soul. He has repeatedly asked the concerned for help finding his soul which he says was left somewhere in Hoboken.

Deep Tank JerseyMore Sugar caught up with Campion recently and could not help but ask the obvious…

More Sugar: We have Jersey figured out, but what exactly is the Deep Tank?

JC: I’m only now starting to figure that out. I think it’s a Zen thing, but I can’t be sure. People come up with a lot of strange things when sober.

MS: What affected you the most in the experience of writing this book?

JC: I marvel at the true nature of these people who go to work at 5 PM and saunter home at dawn. This is their job! And not just a night watchmen or convenience store clerk, these people are working in the most insane of atmospheres, especially at the Jersey shore where no one sleeps. It was a nice place to visit, which we all do occasionally, some more than others, but to live there and make a living there is a whole other animal.

MS: Why did you choose the Jersey Circuit and a band like Dog Voices?

JC: I just went for a magazine article, ‘Life on the Road’ or ‘Inside the Club Scene’ type piece. A friend of mine is in the band and I’m close with their manager. But after hearing their personal stories and seeing the way a ‘normal’ evening develops I knew there was a book there.

MS: What does one learn in the atmosphere you described?

JC: It’s hard, man. For the working musicians, at least. The road gets to you. I can’t imagine what a touring band must go through, this was difficult enough. But it’s also rewarding in a way. Every performer has an appetite for such a life and not always the same meal satisfies it. The performance is two fold. I was most impressed with the expression of human emotion, really. I think when people are at their most crazy they let loose the best and worst of their personalities.

MS: And you?

JC: No sleep, too much drink, and a real sense of danger. Listen, if you put hundreds of pent-up people who’ve been grinding through life daily, shove them into a club with swirling lights, cranking music, and swell their heads with alcohol and sexual frenzy you tend to get interesting situations. I can now say I know what it’s like to be at the very edge of anarchy. It was an experience.

“Deep Tank Jersey” can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble, B Dalton, Main St. Books in White Plains, The Mount Kisco Book Company in Mount Kisco and The Bookstore in Pleasantville. For excerpts of the book log onto the Dog Voices web page at www.dogvoices.com James Campion can be read weekly in his Reality Check column in the “Aquarian Weekly.”

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The Word Is Out! – All summer long everyone at the Jersey Shore was talking about Deep Tank Jersey.


Press

10/96

THE WORD IS OUT!

All summer everyone at the Jersey Shore was talking about the new book, Deep Tank Jersey. Author, James Campion’s tale of four months on the burning road with DogVoices. The true, sordid, and insane stories of a rock band surviving in the smoky heat of Clubland. It’s the book the inside scoop about each member of DogVoices and the people who make them run. Move along the music trail and meet bands like The Nerds, Good Girls Don’t, and more! Read about the type of Monte antics that has single handedly changed club policiy, pissed off newspapers, and kept police on alert all summer long! Read about the mysterious Nadine, the crazed Brian Dead Bob, and the people you stand next to on any given night. Maybe even YOU. Get your copy of Deep Tank Jersey at a DogVoices show this fall or look for it at local book stores. And coming this fall check out the DogVoices web site for excerpts.

 

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INSIDE SPORTS ON WFAS


Press

9/97

BIO:

Jim Campion has been a major voice on the subject of local and national sports in the greater Westchester and Putnam counties for nearly a decade. Appearing as a newspaper columnist, and television and radio personality since 1989, he’s combined a bizarre wit and keen knowledge of the subject to his many projects.

With the inception of his weekly one-hour produced and hosted television sports talk format, The Sports Club Live on Cablevision’s Channel 34 (1989-’96) he’s either hosted or co-hosted a live sports oriented show for 8 years running. Included was WLNA Radio’s weekly 3-hour Sportsnite show with co-host Tom Ragone (1993-’95) covering local and national sports with reports from area sports writers, High School and College coaches, and personalities from the front office to the locker room in every professional sport, and Channel 6’s most popular show, Sports Talk Live (1995-1997), a weekly one-hour rant and rap with callers from northern and southern Westchester and Rockland counties.

In 1990 he created, produced, edited, and hosted an on-location baseball interview show called The X-TRA Inning (1990-94). The pre-recorded half hour program which always opened with the statement, “The show that investigates and celebrates America’s passion with its national past time,” aired on both Channel 34 and Continental Cablevision’s Channel 6. Featuring such notable guests as the late Mel Allen, All-Star, Ken Griffey Jr., then commissioner of Major League Baseball, Fay Vincent, lauded author, Roger Kahn, and several N.Y. Yankees and Mets, it provided fans with an inside look at their heroes while attempting to return the otherwise crass business to baseball back to the brilliant game it has always been.

During his tenure on the air waves Jim has followed his childhood dream of writing by serving as weekly columnist in the North County News. Sports Shorts (1993-1995) provided readers with a more indepth and often serious foray into a wide spectrum of issues. He recently penned a full page column called The Last Shot (1995-1997) for the New Jersey entertainment magazine, The East Coast Rocker.

Jim met co-host Rob Astorino in 1990 when the duo became the play-by-play team for Continental Cablevision’s award winning High School Football Game of The Week. For 6 years, including a few years of H.S. basketball, the broadcast was the most slick and comprehensive coverage of High School sports in New York State. In essence Rob and Jim became the voice of local sports together, calling the action of every big game including Bowls and Championship contests, while bringing a generation of fine, young athletes to thousands of homes.

 

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