Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Son of Ex Morris Brown, Oakland Raider gridder starting for Notre Dame
ATLANTA- Ordinarily, I don’t tend to watch much major college football but last Saturday ( August 31) , I watched Notre Dame and Temple and the name George Atkinson came up. He’s a junior running back and plays well. But what attracted me toward the young brother was his name.
I went to the Notre Dame web site, looked him up on their roster and sure enough, Atkinson III is the son of George Atkinson, Junior, a native of Savannah Georgia. Atkinson, Jr. matriculated to Morris Brown College following graduation from Savannah’s Sol Johnson High School and then was then picked up by the Oakland Raiders in 1968. Now a broadcaster on the Oakland Raider radio net, Atkinson often lends his commentary to the NFL Network program "NFL Top 10".
Speaking of the NFL, now that the big 32 have trimmed their rosters to the required 53 player limit, I decided to take a closer look at the number of HBCU players who survived all the cuts. When the camps opened in July, there were 70 HBCU players on the pro dockets. Twenty were rookies, eighteen were first year players, the rest veterans. By the August 31st deadline, 33 of those 70 were sent packing but 37 made the grade. By conference breakdown, the MEAC leads the number of players in the NFL with 18, followed by 13 in the SWAC, six in the SIAC, four from the CIAA and two from the independent schools. Several veterans also had their careers end, waived or decisions held up via injury. Those include Ramon Harewood, the offensive lineman from Morehouse College who was the school’s third player to be drafted in the last 40 years and their highest draft pick. He was put on waivers which means somebody might (and ought) to pick him up. Other vets cut included 11 year veteran Drayton Florence from Tuskegee, Ron Bartell, the nine year vet from Howard University and four year vet Marcus Dixon of Hampton.
The cut ends Dixon’s storied life which unfolded 10 years ago when the prep star from Rome Georgia’s Peppernell High School was accused of forcing himself on an underage co-ed. The gridder, who was also a 4.0 student, had already received a four year scholarship to Vanderbilt University but that faded faster than a snowball in hell which his troubles started. His saga roamed through the Georgia courts. He ended up convicted on only one of a plethora of counts against him.
Nonetheless, young Marcus received a mandatory 10 year term for statutory rape which ironically would have fetched him a lighter sentence if he’d been convicted of rape. The sentence generated outcry and was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court which overturned the conviction. He was released in 2004 and immediately received scholarship offers to at least two HBCUs, including Atlanta’s Morehouse College. He chose an offer from Hampton University and was eventually signed to the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He also played with the New York Jets and finalized his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Does that sound like a movie script to you?
EXTRA POINTS: Richard Dent, the Atlanta native and graduate of Tennessee State University and retired Chicago Bear, has had his number 95 jersey retired by his alma mater, Speaking of the “Big Blue”, coach Rod Reed had to start his season vs. Bethune without the services of his first string QB Mike German …I’m now told the Florida QB will just have to sit out two games……Former NFL gridder Ben Coates is offensive coordinator for the St. Augustine’s Falcons…..Henry Frazier, the deposed head coach at North Carolina Central, made a giant boo-boo by violating a restraining order placed against him by his estranged wife. But Frazier is still a good coach and, provided he has learned his lesson about flaunting with the law, ought to be picked up by somebody’s college….Frazier was axed by NCCU just eight days before the season opener which might account for their 45-0 loss to Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham …INSIDE has confirmed that CAU head basketball coach Dale Brown is no longer at the helm. The school is in a search, Anybody interested?…
Spent the week of August 26-31 in Las Vegas Nevada. It was a working vacation for me and gave me the chance to explore some places other than the blackjack tables and the one-armed bandits. That included an up close and personal look at Hoover Dam and the gravesite of comedian Redd Foxx. I was disappointed at his site which just didn’t befit the pioneer comedian that influenced so many including Academy award winner Jamie Foxx who adapted Redd’s surname in his honor. It took us a while to find his grave and then only with the aid of an official with the Palms Memorial Gardens cemetery. He told me that few people visit the site and that they haven’t heard from a member of the family since he died in 1991 from heart failure while on the set of another sitcom Foxx was starring in called the Royal Family…Applause to the staff of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau and to Ms. Brittany Harris and the MGM Grand Hotel where we domiciled for five days. The hotel features over 100 eateries, including the Rain Forest Restaurant where patrons are greeted by a huge alligator that growls and displays his teeth (don’t worry, it’s fake). Photg Patsy and I sampled two restaurants, the Grand and Michael Mina’s Pub 1842. Both were outstanding bangs for the bucks. The Grand’s menu included an item called the “ ultimate steak”, a 120 ouncer that our host said was once eaten by one person. ….
I also got to meet and interview a sharp young brother, Kim Wood,director of wines for the Auria resort. The one time athletic hopeful from Fort Worth, Texas spurned athletic scholarship offers to pursue a bio-medical engineering degree at Johns Hopkins University but got interested in fine wines while tending bar as a work-study job. He’s been at it for eight years now. I was with him for less than an hour but learned more about vino than I ever knew, including the fact that there are thousands of brands bottled in all 50 states and Is a $36 billion dollar industry…..
Some coaching changes slipped by me. Shepherd Skanes is no longer head coach at Concordia College of Selma, Alabama. He’s now coaching at the high school level. The Cole brothers, Johnnie and LC are also high school pilots, the former still in the Houston Texas area……..
INSIDE’s SIAC PICKS
Tuskegee over Alabama A&M
Stillman over Concordia-Selma
Morehouse over Howard
Benedict over Central State
Miles over North Alabama
Lane over Virginia-Lynchburg
Kentucky Wesleyan over Kentucky State
Valdosta State over Fort Valley
West Alabama over CAU
North Greenville over Albany State
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net