Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Are the Detroit Lions going to pot?

Since it is only a couple of days until the NFL Draft, what follows is a cautionary tale addressed to Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Mayhew of the Detroit Lions:

Granted, this was years ago. I’m a grandpa now and I’ve sent four of our own kids to college.

Dave was a college buddy of mine.

Smart guy, great personality, good athlete with an insatiable appetite for marijuana.

I eventually graduated. Most of our buddies eventually graduated. Dave never did manage to graduate. I moved away and got a job. Most of our buddies moved away and got a job. Dave never moved away from that small college town, at least not until years later.

Dave was a laid back guy. Probably too laid back. He certainly lacked motivation. Was that just Dave’s personality or was it the marijuana? Me, I figure it was a combination plate of both.

That said, it doesn't instill confidence that several of the college football players the Lions' are considering in the first round have marijuana-related offenses on their resumes.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was busted twice for marijuana while at the University of Florida, and was eventually booted from the team. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama faced a marijuana charge that was eventually dropped. Offensive tackle Mike Adams of Ohio State allegedly tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine, a revelation which, if true, raises other questions because guys know they are going to be tested at the Combine.

Then there are the offseason problems related to marijuana for three of last year's picks - Mikel Leshoure, Nick Fairley and Johnny Culbreath.

Now I'm not naïve. I know the use of marijuana is prevalent. In fact, when I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, my brother-in-law Mark jokingly (?) exalted that "Now you can get a medical marijuana card."

I told him no, I wasn’t going to do that, but we could still go to the music festival at Rothbury.

We shared a good laugh. Dave, if I recall, did a whole bunch of giggling.

Mike, another buddy when I was younger, grew up in my hometown.

Mike was very, very smart, probably one of the smartest guys I ever knew. He could talk intelligently on a wide variety of topics. An outstanding athlete, too. But, like Dave, Mike could not yank himself away from smoking marijuana on a very regular basis.

He went to Michigan State, but he never finished college. He lingered in East Lansing for awhile until school administrators told him to either start taking some classes or vacate the premises. He had the intelligence to have become a doctor, lawyer or anything he wanted. Instead, Mike worked as a bartender. He delivered newspapers.

I lost track of both Dave and Mike but I hope they got themselves back on track. Both had a lot to offer.

Just like all of the aforementioned football players potentially have a lot to offer.

I am not a prude. I am not saying that just because all of these young players have smoked marijuana, the Lions should necessarily skip them in the draft or get rid of the ones they drafted last year.

But if I’m a coach or a general manager, marijuana isn’t something I like to see on someone’s resume. What are the positives? I don’t want a giggling guy, I want a snarling guy. I want guys with drive. I want guys with motivation.

I don’t want guys like Dave who might still drive an AMC Gremlin. I want guys with enthusiasm, not guys who enthusiastically chomp down an entire pizza or a package of Fig Newtons at 2:30 or 3 a.m.

Don't get me wrong; Dave and Mike were good guys. Janoris, Dre and Mike are probably good guys. Chances are, so, too are Mikel, Nick and Johnny.

Where do I stand on the issue of marijuana? That's a tough call. I'm not sure I would want to stand in the huddle with anyone whose regular training regime includes roller papers and a bong, though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just chewing the fat and thinking about running again

I’m thinking about getting back into running.
Thinking might be the operative word here.
I used to do marathons. Now I eat Marathon candy bars. I used to do 10ks. Now I weigh 10k too much.
Therein lies the problem: I have convinced myself that I can no longer run.
It is a Catch 22 situation. Is it really true I cannot run, or can’t I run because I haven’t run for so long and I’ve gotten fatter than John Candy after a couple of laps around the all-you-can eat smorgasbord?
It is sort of like if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make any sound? The sound you hear is me wheezing as I make my way to the mailbox.
Anyway, that is a ridiculous argument. Sure the tree makes a sound. Just because you are not up close and personal with a sequoia, that does not mean the hardwood turns to Nerf. Don’t you think every squirrel short of one wearing headphones listening to Jacques Rocque on maximum volume scatters when that tree starts to descend?
Rocket J. Squirrel tartare.
But back to running. I had a health scare two and a half years ago. I had some surgery and there were a few months when I truly could not get around very well. I’d walk up and down the basement stairs to get some exercise.
The plan was to get back at it when I had healed.
Well, I’ve healed, but I am not back at it. I walk the dogs around the neighborhood. I park further away than I need to at the grocery store. I try to eat well but well, eating poorly tastes so good.
So I am buying pants with bigger waist sizes. I am wearing shirts that always seem a little too snug. I tell myself it is time to run, but I never get to the starting line.
I’m not worried about a tree making any sound if it falls in the woods when nobody is there to listen to it. I am worried about hearing myself wheeze.
See you on the track. I’ll be the one with the Tim Horton’s bag.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saying goodbye to Coach Bill Boyd

When cancer first knocked, Bill Boyd didn’t have any choice but to open the door and acknowledge its presence, but the long-time educator and coach at Royal Oak Dondero hardly put out the Welcome Mat.
Instead, he battled the colon cancer that was discovered two years ago.
“Dad went after it hard,” said his son, Kevin. “He had surgery and came out of that fine.”
Sixteen months later, when a pain in the stomach meant that the cancer had spread to his liver, the battle was rejoined.
“Dad fought it as much as possible. They began chemo treatments, but six weeks ago the doctors said his body could not take any more treatments.”
It was nearly three weeks ago now when Bill Boyd left the hospital and returned to his Madison Heights home.
At about 8 a.m., Friday, March 30, Bill Boyd died.
“That night, Dad’s breathing had become labored. All of a sudden, in the morning, his breathing really calmed down. My mom was in her bedroom and she got up and said ‘He’s breathing a lot easier, isn’t he? That is good,” recalled Kevin.
“That was about 7:15 in the morning. I was right at my dad’s bedside. I sent a text to my son and told him to have a good day. Then I told my dad that he did not have to fight any longer; that everybody was going to be all right. Nobody wanted him to suffer. He was not only my dad, he was my best friend.”
Shortly thereafter, there was no gasping for air. There was only an enveloping peace. Bill Boyd had died.
Bill Boyd’s viewing will be Monday, April 9, and Tuesday, April 10, at the Edward Swanson and Son Funeral Home on Dequindre Road in Madison Heights. On Monday, the hours are 4 to 8 p.m. On Tuesday, the viewing will be from 2-8 p.m.
The funeral will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak. A pre-viewing will be at 10 a.m., with the funeral service at 11 a.m.
Bill Boyd leaves behind his wife, Marilyn; and their children, Kevin, Kathleen and Kristen. All of Bill and Marilyn’s children attended Lamphere High School in Madison Heights. There are also seven grandchildren. Bill and Marilyn would’ve been married 50 years in November.
Bill attended Cortland State Teachers College in upstate New York. His college baseball coach was Jim Manilla, who later came to Royal Oak. It was Manilla who told Boyd about a job at Mary Lyons Junior High in the city.
Boyd spent three years at Mary Lyons, and 31 years at Dondero, where he worked from 1960 to 1991.
He was an attendance officer, a teacher and a coach. He coached pretty much every sport at one time or the other, but was known mostly as a baseball coach. He was one of the founding members of the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association of Michigan.
Dan Busto played baseball for Bill Boyd for three years at Dondero, from 1971 through 1973. As a junior and senior on the varsity team, the Oaks won league championships. In 1972, the school’s final season in the Border Cities League, Dondero topped teams like Wyandotte, Dearborn Fordson and Monroe to capture the league title. In 1973, the Oaks dominated the fledgling Metro Suburban Athletic Association.

Coach Bill Boyd (far left, top row) and the 1972 Royal Oak Dondero baseball team that captured the championship of the Border Cities League. (Submitted photo)

After graduating from Albion College, Busto returned to his high school alma mater to coach and teach with Bill Boyd for a year.
“Bill Boyd was just a consistently nice guy, day after day, practice after practice, year after year,” said Busto. “He did not have an ego. He loved Dondero and he loved his kids. He wanted us to play hard, but play clean and respect the game.”
All right, so the coach had a smidgen of ego. Frequently, during intra-squad games and batting practice, former college pitcher Bill Boyd would take the mound.
“By that time, B Boyd was in his 40s, but he had this little spinner that I could never hit,” recalled Busto, laughing. “I’m not sure if it was that I couldn’t hit his pitching, or I did not want to hit it, but B Boyd would always say ‘Danny, it’s not much, but it is just enough to get you out.’”
There are plenty of people around Royal Oak who are now without a good friend. All that remain are some great memories.
Bob Eberhardt was a friend and colleague of Bill Boyd’s at Dondero.
“I came to Dondero in the fall of 1968 and at that time, Bill was the attendance officer,” said Eberhardt. “He was also teaching driver’s education.
“Bill’s humor, his laugh, his generosity are the things that stick out. He was the only person I know who would probably have given a stranger the shirt off his back if the stranger needed it. If you were in a jam or needed help, Bill was the person who was always willing to help,” he continued.
That generosity was nearly reciprocated with a pile of ashes one summer a long, long time ago.
When Bill and Marilyn took the kids on a lengthy vacation, their pastor asked if he could use their home while they were gone. Without a moment’s hesitation, they said yes.
Only the Boyd house was not occupied by the pastor. Instead, a formerly homeless man used it as his return address. When the Boyds got home from vacation, there was clear evidence of several campfires that had been ignited in the front room.
From ashes to ashes and dust to dust. All of us who knew Bill Boyd were better off for it.