Rice honors former Owl Matt Sign of NFF

Matt Sign, FWAA Board member from the National Football Foundation where he is the chief operating officer, was honored this past week at the Rice Spring Game. He is a former standout Rice football player.

For Immediate Release

Chuck Pool

cpool@rice.edu

713-348-5775

Cobb and Sign Selected as 2017 Honor Jerseys

Two mainstays of the current Rice football team will take to the field for the annual Blue-Gray spring game in new numbers as they honor a pair of standout teammates from the past as part of the Rice Owls Honor Jersey program.

Running back Samuel Stewart will switch to 45 this year to honor 1991 Doak Walker Award winner Trevor Cobb, while defensive tackle Preston Gordon wear 99 to honor Cobb’s teammate and two-time All –SWC noseguard Matt Sign.   

Cobb became the first Owl to win one of college football’s major individual awards when he received the 1991 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.  Cobb was a consensus All-American in 1991 and went on to be named the 1992 Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year.  He completed his  career ranked second on the SWC rushing list with 4,948 yards, which ranked eighth on the NCAA career list at that time and now ranks 22nd in NCAA history.

He became the first Owl to rush for over 1,000 yards in three seasons and holds the top three season totals in school history, capped by his 1,692 yards in 1991 during his run to the Doak Walker Award.  In addition to his yardage total, Cobb holds Rice season and career marks for rushing attempts (306/1,091), and all-purpose yards (6,512) in addition to the career mark for rushing touchdowns (38).

Despite his 5-10, 220 pound frame, Sign was a dominant defensive force during his career at Rice.  He led Rice linemen in tackles in each of his four seasons and he ranks fifth on the Rice career chart with 36 tackles for loss and sixth with 14 sacks. He won the Lipscomb Award in 1989 as the Outstanding Freshman and shared the first “Bloody Joe” Davis Award in 1991.

After starting his professional career with Florida Citrus Sports (FCS) which produced the Champs Sports Bowl and the Gridiron Classic College All-Star Game, Sign was named the Chief Operating Officer of the National Football Foundation in 2005.

The Honor Jersey program began in 2012, when Rice head coach David Bailiff first honored past notable Rice football players by having current member of the team who play the same position change numbers.  King Hill and O.J. Brigance were honored the first year.  In 2013, the Owls honored the first three African-American players at Rice (Rodrigo Barnes, Stahle Vincent and Mike Tyler) along with Bucky Allshouse, who was their recruiting host.   In 2014, Larry Izzo, N.D. Kalu and Richard Chapman were honored while in 2015; Jeff Rose and Dr. Leland Winston saw players change to their numbers. Last year, Ray Alborn, Donald Bowers and David Houser were honored.

Kickoff for the annual game to wrap up spring football drills is set for 8:00 p.m. Friday at Rice Stadium.

NFF publishes book on Mean Joe Greene by FWAA member Jon Finkel

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the first book, “Mean” Joe Greene: Built By Football, in its Football Matters’ “Built By Football” series. The book, which will be available April 3, can be preordered by clicking here.

“We are extremely excited about this new series, which will take an inside look at the marquee members of the College Football Hall of Fame,” said Steve Hatchell, NFF president & CEO. “The road to becoming a Hall of Famer produces so many amazing stories of those who overcame adversity and persevered. We knew that we needed to do more to capture these stories. We are extremely grateful to Hall of Famer Joe Greene and author Jon Finkel for their efforts on launching this series.”

“Mean” Joe Greene’s memoir is a master class in determination, domination and perseverance. For the first time ever, the College and Pro football hall of famer gives readers an unflinching look at his rise from high school bully-victim and bench warmer to University of North Texas legend and Pittsburgh Steelers icon. Many years before he would anchor the most-feared, most-successful defense the NFL had ever seen, Joe Greene was just a big, timid kid from Temple, Texas, struggling to find his confidence as a teenager being raised by a single mother.

“When I got to North Texas I was rough around the edges as a man and as a player,” said Joe Greene. “College helped polish me up a bit and then when I got to Pittsburgh my teammates helped me to continue to smooth things out. I’m a better person because of the men who coached me and the men I played with. I learned from them. I’d like to take this opportunity to pass along that knowledge.”

In his compelling, eye-opening autobiography, Greene takes readers on an unprecedented tour of his life, exploring the people who influenced him and the events that shaped him: from humiliating high school embarrassments to the grit and guts that led to four Super Bowl titles as a player.

Better known by his nickname “Mean Joe” Greene, Charles Edward Joseph Greene acquired his moniker as a reference to his school’s nickname, the University of North Texas Mean Green (then known as North Texas State). During his three seasons in Denton, the 6-4, 270-pound defensive tackle led the Mean Green to a 23-5-1 record. In his 29 games, the team held the opposition to 2,507 yards gained on 1,276 rushes. A per carry average of less than two yards per attempt. His collegiate coach, Rod Rust, said of the 1968 consensus All-America, “There are two factors behind Joe’s success. First, he has the ability to make the big defensive play and turn the tempo of a game around. Second, he has the speed to be an excellent pursuit player.”

A top prospect in the 1969 NFL Draft, Greene was selected fourth overall by the Steelers, and he would go on to become part of the “Steel Curtain” defense that won four Super Bowls in six years. He made 10 Pro Bowl appearances, and he twice earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. He played 13 seasons in the NFL from 1969-81, appearing in 181 games. In 1979, he was named NFL Man of the Year.

After his playing career, Greene spent 16 years as an assistant coach before becoming a special assistant for player personnel with the franchise. During his time in player personnel, the franchise would claim two more Super Bowls, giving Greene a total of six rings. Both North Texas and the Steelers have retired his No. 75. He earned induction into the University of North Texas Hall of Fame in 1981, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Jon Finkel, the co-author with Greene on the book, has written numerous books, which have been endorsed by everyone from Oscar-winner Spike Lee and NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, to Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and ArtofManliness.com founder Brett McKay. He has published with legends who have won a combined 14 Super Bowl titles, 25 NBA Championships, 4 NBA Slam Dunk contests and a Heisman Trophy. Visit www.jonfinkel.com for the latest news, book and social media information. He can be reached at: info@jonfinkel.com

INTERVIEW & BOOK REQUESTS: Scott Bedgood, media@footballmatters.org

ABOUT THE BOOK: Football Matters Publishing, Release Date, April 3rd 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9986273-0-4

Advance Praise for the Book

Mel Blount, NFL Hall of Famer

“I had the honor of playing with Joe Greene and sharing those great Steeler Super Bowl victories with him. I am convinced that none of them would have happened without Joe and his leadership. He was a great leader on the field and in the locker room. His desire to win and positive attitude were contagious. Because of his physical play he was known as “Mean” Joe Greene, but those of us who truly know Joe Greene know that he is a better person than he was a player and that’s saying a lot.”

Jon Kolb, 4x Super Bowl Champion

“I believe that my friend Mr. Joe Greene may be one of the “deepest” people that I’ve ever met. I sometimes get angry when people only refer to him as “Mean” Joe because they miss the complexity of the man. To view Joe as only a great football player is to miss the biggest part of a great man. I am glad he has agreed to do this book, as it comes at a time when real heroes are desperately needed.”

Franco Harris, Pro Football Hall of Famer

“By the time I was drafted by the Steelers, it was clear that Joe was the cornerstone of our team. With him in place, they drafted players to fit this new system and mentality. The results are now legendary, as we won four Super Bowls and the Steelers became the new standard of professional football. Yes, Joe was the spark that ignited it all, and as time passes, his role continues to shine brighter and brighter. There is no question in my mind that “Mean” Joe Greene is the greatest Steeler of all time!”

Dan Rooney, Owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, former US Ambassador

“Joe has been a good father to his three children, a good husband, and it has been wonderful to have Joe as a representative of the Steelers in all the ways he was involved with the team. He was still a young man when we became the team of the decade in the 70s. He had many achievements, playing in Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, and all the best recognitions. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. However, he was not interested in the accolades. He was focused on being the best.”

About FootballMatters.org

FootballMatters.org, launched in 2014, is an initiative of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF). The site is the NFF’s home for telling stories that promote amateur football and highlight the good in the game. Through social round-ups, behind-the-scenes captains videos, exclusive interviews with Hall of Famers, and features that include I’m A Football Player, Football Moms and Leaders Beyond the Field, FootballMatters.org showcases the many areas of life that football impacts. Visit www.FootballMatters.org.

 

 

Ross Browner to receive Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

Charlotte, N.C. February 15, 2017 — The Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America and Florida East Coast Railway proudly announces University of Notre Dame great Ross Browner as the recipient of the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, which recognizes outstanding defensive football players from the past 40 years.

The award will be presented formally during the annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Awards Banquet presented by ACN on December 4, 2017.

Ross Browner

Ross Browner

“Being name recipient of the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award is a tremendous honor,” Browner said. “I’m so grateful for all the coaches and teammates who encouraged me along the way. It’s such a thrill to accept an award with past winners such as Bubba Smith, Randy Gradishar, Randy White and others.”

“Congratulations to Ross Browner on being named the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award recipient,” said James R. Hertwig, CEO of Florida East Coast Railway. “Ross’s performance on the field and his dedication to community service make this a well-deserved honor. Florida East Coast Railway takes great pride in our support of the Charlotte Touchdown Club and its mission to promote citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship and leadership.”

More…

Dave Campbell laments Nick Joos’ move from Baylor to Missouri

Iconic Dave Campbell was the FWAA’s President in 1968 and claimed the Bert McGrane Award in 1988. Nick Joos is a long-time FWAA member who has distinguished himself as a member of the CoSIDA Hall of Fame and is a Past President of that organization
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By Dave Campbell

Something happened recently that I had hoped would never occur. Nick Joos resigned at Baylor to become the University of Missouri’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications. At 92 years of age I know I’m too old to cry, but that is what I felt like doing.

 

President’s column: Be proud, audacious and answer to our better spirits 1

By Dave Jones
2017 FWAA President

Journalists are cynical. I’m not certain whether it’s more because we are skeptical folks at heart and intrinsically need to see proof or because we see so much duplicity and deviousness in detail.

Or maybe it’s just because we are prone to see the effects of the world, including our actions or mistakes, on our subjects, up close.

Dave Jones

Dave Jones

I’ll always remember the scene in a favorite old movie called Absence of Malice where a young reporter played by Sally Field is so reckless in attempting to nail a story that it leads to a woman, a principal in the story, taking her own life. An editor mentor tries to console the crushed Fields by offering her a desk position at the paper, suggesting maybe it’s time to come in from the daily storm:

Too many people out there. A lot of news is bad news for somebody. You stay out there too long, the somebodies start adding up.”

Well, I never wanted to be an editor. I always wanted to be on the street, in the arena, seeing in person events as they happened. That involvement can come with a cost.

When I was 30, about the age of the young reporter in Absence of Malice, I was told by my editor to go cover a story about a college student who had been too terrified to admit to her parents that she had become pregnant. She wore blousy clothes, tried not to eat too much and desperately hid her secret from everyone. Finally, she gave birth by herself in a dormitory bathroom and then left the baby in a dumpster to die.

It was a gruesome story that I told in as much detail as I could muster, relating police documents, collecting anecdotes about the young woman’s background, talking to friends, other students, even quoting a Bible-thumping preacher yelling to passersby on the quad: “Are you the murderess? Are you? You’re all responsible!”

My editors were very pleased with the story when I finished it that evening. It got play on A1. I did not feel especially proud, only that I’d done my job.

A few months later, we ran another small wire story on that young woman, tucked in the back of the state news section. It said she had taken her own life.

That’s been nearly three decades ago. It still pops into my head now and then. Not because I made any mistakes with the facts in that story: I didn’t. Not because I knew for sure that it had any effect at all on the young woman; I never knew.

Only because it suggested to me that what we do can have an effect on our subjects maybe more than we realize. It gave me my first lesson in empathy, one I’ve learned and re-learned throughout a 36-year career.

I’d like to think we can make a difference in a positive way. I love this business because of that. I love the people in it. And I see the great work they do. Many times they are journalists from small outlets that might be judged inconsequential. But their stories are anything but.

I cite, for example, The Daily Collegian of Penn State’s exposé of a pair of women’s gymnastics coaches of whom athletes alleged emotional abuse; and the nmfishbowl.com blog that exposed unflattering exit interviews with departing athletes who repeatedly alleged they were not allowed to take the classes they wanted to obtain a meaningful degree.

This is the type of work that FWAA writers have done, can do and, I’m confident, will. I’m inspired by them and believe we can help college football players protect themselves from administrators who do not always have their best interests in mind when presented with the overriding factors of profit.

Whether it is pressure to perform when not physically able, abusive coaches, encouragement to enroll in tailored curriculum not worthy of a genuine degree, improper concussion protocol, the over-issuance of addictive opioid pain medications or any other action that imperils or creates a disadvantage to the athlete, that’s where we should be —reporting, uncovering, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.

As the 74th president of the FWAA, walking in the large footprints of predecessors such as Paul Zimmerman, Blackie Sherrod, Jack Murphy, Ivan Maisel, Tony Barnhart and Dick Weiss, that is my goal: Be cynical and skeptical in a productive way. Let’s get out on the fields — and into the back hallways and public records — and make a difference.

A few reminders and notes:

  • I’d like to remind everyone that we’ll soon be taking entries for the FWAA Best Writing Contest. And if you have any ideas for our Beat Writer of the Year award, please email them to Malcolm Moran (malcolmmoran1@gmail.com).
  • If you want to serve on FWAA committees, we welcome you. Contact me (djones8681@verizon.net) or executive director Steve Richardson (tiger@fwaa.com) to be installed on the All-American, Bert McGrane Award, Volney Meece Scholarship, Merit Award or other committees.
  • We have some ongoing issues we’ll be addressing. First vice president Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times will be heading up an effort to make shorter and safer the journeys to and from stadiums from media lots, especially at night and for those alone. Second vice president Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com has a particular interest in athletic departments who issue gag orders to the family members of players. These are worthy goals and I welcome your ideas on how to best handle them.
  • Tim Griffin is chair of our Super 11 awards for the top sports information directors in nation, the good guys and gals who understand helping us to do our jobs helps the athletes.

Finally, I’d like to express how much I enjoyed your reception in Tampa and assure you that I will dedicate this year to do my best in encouraging diligence, fairness and empathy. Be proud of what we do. And let’s resolve to be audacious and to answer to our better spirits in all our endeavors of 2017.

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet

These photos were shot at the Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet on Jan. 11, 2017, in Omaha. Alabama’s Cam Robinson received the 2016 Outland Trophy, and former Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer received the Tom Osborne Legacy Award.