Tag Archives: death

“Glen Campbell Performances: From Elvis to Johnny Cash & his last appearance on Stage In Napa, CA”

 

glen campbell

On a day that his fans and those close to Glen knew was coming, Glen Campbell passed away quietly today in a Tennessee long-term care facility for Alzheimer’s patients. Glen Campbell was one of those voices that transcended all music genres and put smiles in people’s hearts.

With the help of his talented kids in the band, in 2012 he played his final live concert in none other than Napa, California to an adoring crowd at the Uptown Theater.

In 2014 Glen Released the Movie “I’ll Be Me” which chronicled his battle with Alzheimer’s and a behind the scenes look at his farewell tour. Below is the trailer.

And here is an excerpt from this inspirational film. His vulnerability and courage in fighting it head on are amazing. “I kept going into the kitchen and then forgetting what I came in there for. So I solved the problem; I stopped going into the kitchen!

The Alzheimer’s Association has said what Glen is doing is unprecedented and his humble courage has been an inspiration to both families and patients of the dreaded disease.

Glen began his career dropping out of high school at 14 and eventually becoming a great studio musician in Los Angeles playing for some of the great performers in the music industry like Waylon Jennings, Elvis Pressley, The Beach Boys and Johnny Cash. He broke out in 1967 winning 4 Grammy’s.

Included in his legion of fans are The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and President Bill Clinton. Tom Petty once said, “Glen’s songs really weren’t hip enough for the 60’s but then you’d listen to how good they were and how great he played and you soon loved it.”

Not everything was peaches and cream for Glen. There were public battles with drugs and alcohol along with arrests and the ups and downs of the music industry. He was front page fodder with his controversial cocaine induced relationship with Tanya Tucker who was 22 years his junior. He had a variety show from 1969 to 1972 but that was cancelled. He had 3 failed marriages until he got clean during his 4th marriage with his present wife Kim. He ended up having 8 kids.

It was hard to let go of Glen even during his worst times. His personality, kindness and charm were hard to let go of. A writer on his variety show; future star Steve Martin; said that Glen was fun and easy going and never took himself too seriously. “He was up for anything and he was so much fun to work with”, said Martin.

In 2011 Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As a way to say goodbye to his fans and to tell them that was going to be ok through this journey, he went on tour. In a People magazine interview, Glen and his 4th wife Kim said that they wanted to come out and talk about the Alzheimer’s so fans would not be alarmed when he occasionally forgot words or lost his place in a song. With social media and online publications, they did not want rumors of drugs or alcohol to tarnish his new good name.   Below are some amazing performances with Glen and many of the giants in the music industry that are sadly gone as well.

Here is Glen Campbell on the Johnny Carson show in 1985.

Glen Campbell talking about the loss of his good friend John Denver.

John Denver and Glen Campbell singing on John’s Variety Show in 1977.

Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell sing a duet.

Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash just having fun.

 

A goodbye interview with Glen Campbell and his wife and daughter.

I would like to thank Glen’s social media team who have always been so kind to me whenever I brought Glen’s name up online. They have been very supportive and pro active with all of his fans and they are a reflection of his fighting spirit and positive attitude.   I hope that even with Glen being gone, that they work harder than ever to help his fans celebrate his talents and his life.

And finally thanks to Glen and his family for their kindness, truthfulness and vulnerability.   Glen’s music will live on forever and the bond between he and his fans will never be broken because of the way you handled this terrible situation. Rest in Peace Glen.  And thanks for sharing so much.

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“Saying Goodbye to Another Iconic Raider Fan; RIP Raider Gloria”

gloria raider
Raider Gloria on the Cover of ESPN the Magazine Bay Area Edition

Below is a small gofundme page to help defray costs for Gloria’s passing. It’s not much but if you can donate it would be greatly appreciated by the family.

https://www.gofundme.com/raider-gloria

Charlie Chaplin once said our greatest enemy is time.

As time goes on, more and more of the great people that we’ve come to know and love in our lives are leaving us. The sting of loss hit again yesterday with the passing of an all time great Raider fan, Raider Gloria.  She had struggled with an infection with complications from a recent knee surgery.  Gloria Malvaez was quite a character that no one will ever forget.

raider gloria 1

Gloria began dressing up as Raider Gloria in 1987. She became quite well known and was always ready with a quick wit and a willingness to take pictures with anyone who wanted a photo opportunity. She was feisty, but kind and passionate and loved by all.

raider gloria

In 2013 she was asked by ESPN to be a part of their ESPN magazine spread with other iconic fans being featured. Eventually she was told that she was not only going to be in it, she was going to be featured on the cover.  Below is her story on ESPN.com.  She was also mentioned in People magazine in 2003.

No Pastels – Vol. 59 No. 4

http://www.espn.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/9697611/image/19/makeup#

She often told people that it took 2 ½ hours to get ready to become Gloria Raider; but only 90 if she wasn’t drinking. Even though he did not dress up, her beloved husband Gabriel would go to the games to represent his Raiders as a regular fan without ever asking her to tone it down. “He let me be myself”.  She dressed up and he didn’t and they were a great pair. She was married to him for 21 years until he passed away in 2010.   There were some close to her that said she never really got over the loss. They are now together once again.

http://www.raidercentral.com/SuperFans.html#prettyPhoto

Gloria was a character with many funny stories. She often talked about going to the Raider games as a kid before the Oakland Coliseum was built. She talked about her father and godfather being huge fans and they took her to the games. At 14 y/o they would bring pillows for her to sit on and she often would drive home because they would be “blitzed” and couldn’t drive. She would wear a hat and they were never pulled over.

In probably the biggest Raider fan wedding in history, she was a part of the over 1000 people who attended the wedding of Gorilla Rilla. Super fans Marc (Gorilla Rilla) and Marilyn (Jungle Jane) Acasio had a wedding with famous Raider fans in full makeup and Raider dress.   Gloria proudly was a part of her friends Marc’s nuptials which even the Raiders themselves covered.

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Gorilla-Rilla-and-His-Bride-Celebrate-with-Raider-Nation/af2a3824-f0f1-423b-957f-756e9974a119

As with many of the “characters” that dress up, they have very warm hearts.   Gloria was quick to help others and was an encouraging force in many peoples lives. Here she is below feeding the homeless without much fanfare.   A selfless, kind soul who’s actions were often for the benefit of others.

raider gloria feeding homeless
Gloria Showing Support for the Homeless

In the last few years that I’ve gotten back into writing it’s been both rewarding and heartbreaking. I’ve written about several amazing people and triumphs but all and all the tragedies are hard to take.   One fan said I was their memory.  I guess I just don’t like us to forget good people.  The losses lately have been great.

Other Raider fans like Social Media Raider Icon Tim Casto was lost in a tragic house fire at 49.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/a-horrific-tragedy-ends-the-life-of-another-iconic-raider-fan-tim-casto/

And NFL Hall of Fame Fan Ron “The General” Rickard died at 54 after a long battle with cancer:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/the-passing-of-nfl-hall-of-fame-raider-fan-ron-the-general-rickard-fans-from-every-team-mourn-their-amazing-friend/

 

And who will ever forget the Oaktown Pirate Azel Grasty Sr. who was also lost at only 57.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/a-tribute-to-an-iconic-raider-nfl-fan-azel-grasty-sr-aka-the-oaktown-raider/

I hope that no one forgets these great people and their love and contributions to so many. The friendships we create through meeting such unique people are more important than any win or record.

So again sadly we have to say goodbye to another amazing person who represented her team so well, but more importantly represented humanity even better.  In a country so divided and angry and lost, remember the spirit of people like Gloria.   Have fun, enjoy life, help others and don’t take yourself too seriously.  Live life with a wink in one eye and a twinkle in the other.  And don’t worry Gloria. It’s ok to wear full Raider gear when you get to heaven. God and Gabriel will totally understand.

“The NBA’s & Sports Worlds Amazing Ride Through Life With Craig Sager”

 

craig-sager-suit

In the medical field; and in life; you see so many amazingly brave and kind people battling diseases.  Their courage is never seen or talked about.  They worry about their families and are selfless in their battle.  People in the news also have those battles.  Some choose to fight them publicly; some privately.

sagerstrong
Warriors Give out Sager Strong T-Shirts on Opening Night vs Spurs

For Craig Sager he somewhat had no choice.  In today’s hyper sensitive society which judges anything that is seen or done; especially on television; Craig Sager was seen all the time.  For him though he wanted to show that you can fight things with strength. determination and with a sense of humor.  He knew every move he did would be watched but that he would always just be himself. Little did anyone know how much this would touch people.

http://www.nba.com/article/2016/12/15/turner-statement-passing-craig-sager-0

Craig Sager was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2014 and it was obvious that he was not going to be working the 2014 NBA playoffs.  The severity of the disease and the diagnosis hit the NBA and Turner television family hard.  Without treatment he had 3 to 6 months to live.  Even with treatment this form of cancer was very aggressive and the long term prognosis was not good.

While his father was out, in a moving scene Craig’s son Craig Jr. interviewed the surly coach of the San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich.  His nastiness to reporters is of legend.  During the interview Gregg was very kind and showed a lot of love to Craig Jr. but he added that he would rather have Sr. there instead.

Along the way #sagerstrong began to pop up on Twitter.  People would see news stories of Sager in his extremely upbeat battle with the disease.  He was positive even through the worst of times.  He had an amazing 3 bone marrow transplants and went through chemotherapy along the way.

His daughter Kacy didn’t seem too pleased with her dad at one time on Twitter.  In the middle of an 8 day chemotherapy session Craig drove 3 hours to do the Oklahoma Thunder-San Antonio Spurs game after a treatment.

“My dad is in the middle of 8 days of chemo, drove 3.5 hours from HOU to SA to work this game, driving back in the am. Absurd. Meanwhile my roommate called out of work because she feels like crap”

The whole NBA community was pulling for Craig.  During the playoffs that he missed, for one day the entire Turner team dressed in crazy suits like Craig.  Many even from other networks did it.  It was an amazing show of support to a man that was battling so hard. craig-sager-colleagues-suits

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/tnt_overtime/2016/04/05/20160405-inside-sager-tribute.nba

Charles Barkley had hip replacement surgery and was told he could not fly for a while. When he heard Craig’s wife Stacy had a cold and could no longer be in the room with Craig, Charles hopped on a plane and visited. “Craig Sager is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.  You go to visit him to cheer him up and his attitude is so upbeat he cheers you up”.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/17443442/nba-charles-barkley-defies-own-doctor-visits-craig-sager

Craigs shining moment was his story and then speech about fighting cancer at the Espy’s, the annual award ceremony ESPN does.  He was given the Jimmy V award in honor of former North Carolina St. coach Jim Valvano who passed away of cancer.  The Jimmy V foundation has raised millions for cancer research.

http://www.jimmyv.org/

His appreciation to the Turner broadcasting team for helping him to keep working was one of the first things he talked about.  In a day when corporations seem to have no morals, character or heart, he appreciated their amazing support.

Craig talked about living with passion and having fun.  Fighting it with a great attitude and fire and how that attitude can help the way you act.

When Craig first started he took a lot of ribbing.  Some didn’t take him seriously due to his crazy suits.  But in time people realized he was real.  He was fun, kind, hard working and loyal.  He loved life and loved and appreciated people.  He took his job seriously and loved the NBA and the whole experience.  He loved the hustle and bustle of his job but he never took himself too seriously.

In reality what we loved about Craig Sager is he was how we wanted our athletes and our news people to be.  In a day with so many scandals, arrogance, pettiness and dysfunctional actions, we loved that Craig was kind, caring and full of fun. He was vulnerable and humble and kind in a way that made us feel connected to him.  An everyman.

Craig was given a terrible sentence and he battled an amazing 2 years.  I’m sure the doctors didn’t expect him to last that long but Craig did it in a way that inspired millions.  Our family like all of yours, has probably been through the pains of cancer.  I’ve sat with patients as they died.  I’ve sat with loved ones as they took their last breath.  The torturous battle that is sometimes seen in cancer is a battle that so many have endured.

But in the end it’s not how people die that matters; it’s how they lived.  How we fight the battles and how we touch others doing it.  We’ve seen the tragedies but we’ve also seen the courage and triumph.  The passionate battles and the perseverance through treatment and adversity.  The amazing human spirit that is seen in people that never get the publicity or the attention during their quiet battles.

Reporters give tribute to Craig Sager

http://screengrabber.deadspin.com/former-craig-sager-colleague-rachel-nichols-reports-his-1790157916?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

To all of you battling, I pray for you deeply and hope that one day they will find better treatments which lead to finding cures.  And for loved ones and those with cancer, I say one thing.  Stay Sager Strong and live with all  you have no matter how long the time.

 

 

 

 

 

“Chyna’s Last Video; In Death She Get’s The Respect She Always Deserved In Life”

chyna

Chyna’s last words on her Youtube video from Sunday was “Love Y’all and Peace.”  As is seen so many times; in death she sadly finally is getting the respect and appreciation that she always longed for in life.

Here is an update of “The Reconstruction of Chyna which will be out in 2017”

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/angra/the-reconstruction-of-chyna/posts/1511550

Yesterday when it was announced that WWE/WWF 45 year old legend Joanie “Chyna” Laurer died at her place in Redondo Beach from a possible prescription drug overdose, the collective heart of wrestling fans and present and former wrestlers was broken.  If there was ever a wrestler who fans felt so much love and sympathy for it was Chyna.

Let’s be real.  The lack of acknowledgement over the years from the WWE about Chyna’s career and not burying the hatchet was unacceptable.  I’m not stupid.  It wasn’t a coincidence that the first WWE voice that talked about her passing was Stephanie McMahon.

From doing a pedigree off of the top rope against Chris Jericho, to gorilla pressing wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero. Chyna was indeed the 9th Wonder of the World.

Chyna’s Big Break; How the N.W.O. Played a Role:

Chyna was trained by Killer Kowalski.  Luna Vachon; another wrestling great; tells the story of this big weight lifting woman.  “Here was this girl; cute as a button with strawberry blond hair; a weightlifters body and this squeaky little girls voice and you fell in love with her in a minute.  She was so adorable with her sweet personality.  I remember at times she got screwed out of her pay and I made sure she was paid what they said.  At times I even gave her some of my pay because they took advantage of her.  She was very naive.”

In 1996 Shawn Michaels and HHH saw her at a wrestling show and loved her immediately.  Vince McMahon originally did not want her involved in WWE.  He had always liked his women to be the Barbie doll types; (still does); big chests and pretty faces.  What changed McMahon’s mind though is their Monday night wars nemesis WCW.

WCW was fresh and exciting.  They were signing many of the stars from WWE and they were always edgy and fun the way WWE used to be.  One of their angles was to sign Chyna as the only female member of the newly formed N.W.O. which was taking the wrestling world by storm.  Killer Kowalski; who trained Chyna; stated that he went to Shane McMahon and told him about the plans that WCW had for Chyna and Shane then signed her.  Chyna originally had a verbal agreement with WCW but then went against it to go to the WWE.  The rest is history.

Changed The Wrestling World:

Chyna was unlike any female wrestler before or since.  At 5’ 10” 180 pounds, she was a physical specimen.  She was a weight lifter and a gym rat and her work outs rivaled many of the male stars of the day.  She didn’t have the smooth wrestling moves of a Madusa or Wendy Richter, or the amazing wrestling prowess of the Fabulous Moolah, but she did have a physical presence that had never been seen before or since.

She originally gained fame with Degeneration X as the body guard of HHH and Shawn Michaels.  She usually just sat back with her arms crossed looking intimidating, while DX did all of their classic bad boy stuff.  She would sometimes help them cheat in matches with her famous “low blow” so that they could win and DX became a fan favorite.

Many of the male wrestlers were very leery of letting a female get the best of them in matches thinking it would hurt or ruin their careers.  In 1999 however, Chyna became the first female entrant of the Royal Rumble by being chosen #30 to enter the match.  She was eliminated by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

The Dark Side of Chyna: How She Changed:

It was obvious she would destroy the likes of Lita, Ivory and Trish Stratus (she beat Trish in 90 seconds) but this is wrestling.  Many said she refused to sell other wrestlers moves and that she became mean and seemed very insecure and troubled.

Here is the last video that Chyna ever did on April 17th from her Youtube page.  It’s obvious she is in a bad way and possibly under the influence of something.  It’s still unclear exactly when she died but this is a sad thing to watch.

Breaking Barriers by Wrestling Men as a Singles Competitor:

No offense to any female wrestler or wrestling fan of today, but I smile wide when fans try to tell me how awesome female wrestlers of the WWE are.  With all due respect they could not carry Chyna’s gym bag.

Chyna broke away from HHH in 1999 and became a singles competitor.  She became the first woman to ever qualify for the King of the Ring series, and amazingly was the first to be the #1 contender for the men’s WWE World Championship.

Her breakout feud that launched her as a fan favorite was with Jeff Jarrett.  Her first match with Intercontinental Champion Jarrett was at Unforgiven which Chyna lost.  Jarrett’s contract was up at WWE and he was moving on so he had to give up the belt.  Chyna has said in shoot interviews that Jarrett agreed to lose to her straight up if the WWE paid him $300,000.00 dollars.  The WWE agreed and Jarrett lost to Chyna at No Mercy.  She thus became the one and only female Intercontinental Champion in WWE history!

She wrestled many men, but her most vicious feud was with Chris Jericho.  In one segment Jericho went back stage and beat up Chyna splitting her head open with a hair dryer pounding it against her head when she was down.  Jericho was great at creating heat and putting people over and it worked.  WWE fans were even more passionate about her.

Chyna did beat Chris Jericho at Survivor Series with an amazing pedigree from the top rope cementing her as a true icon of the wrestling world.  I’m not the biggest Jericho fan but I give him tons of respect when he put Chyna over.  Jericho has also said some glowing things about Chyna.  “The only woman to ever knock me down.”

Mamacita & Latino Heat: 

This is probably people’s most fondest memories of Chyna.  Very few performers were as good as Eddie Guerrero and it was a match made in heaven.  Chyna became the on screen girlfriend of the latin bad boy who used his Latino Heat charm to steal her heart.  Behind that wry smile you knew Eddie was lying, cheating and stealing but he sucked you in every time.

It also showed fans a more feminine, vulnerable and softer side of Chyna that made people love her even more.  In one of the funniest scenes I remember, Eddie was found taking a shower with 2 other women on secret video.  Chyna was engaged to Eddie and she was crushed.  Eddie tried everything to win her back but it was a puppy that finally did it.  Their connection was very fun to watch and super entertaining.

Here is Eddie in a rare shoot interview talking about Chyna saying that it was fun to work with her but that at the end it was obvious she was in pain for things that had happened.

Her Abrupt Departure: 

Chyna went in depth about her painful breakup with HHH on podcasts and shoot interviews.  She said that she heard phone messages from Stephanie on Helmsley’s phone and found a love letter from her.  All the while everything was denied.  When the cat was out of the bag, she talked about the coldness and lack of remorse that Stephanie and HHH had.  “A simple sorry would have helped a lot”.  Vince McMahon told her to go home and that they would send a proposal for a new contract.  The fax came and it said she was no longer needed.  She never entered a WWE ring again.

After that she was a mess.  She lost her job, her finances went to pot and then she got into a relationship with HHH’s friend X-Pac who was chasing his own demons.  She turned to drugs and did porn movies and sometimes gave crazed interviews or Youtube videos.  She did a reality show and went on Howard Stern and the treatment people gave her was just criminal.  Instead of helping her or supporting her many used her for target practice.

Why Isn’t She in the Hall of Fame:

Here is another let’s be real moment.  The WWE Hall of Fame IS NOT a real hall of fame.  It is a made up award for people that are in good standing with WWE and who have made contributions to the company.  No offense to some of the recipients but it’s starting to be somewhat of a joke with some of the people that are in it.  Bruno Sammartino took forever to get in due to his negative comments about the company.  The rumors of Macho Man Randy Savage and Stephanie are said to be why he never got in why he was alive.  The great Rick Rude isn’t in and I’m sure him surprising WWE by showing up on television and signing with WCW on the same day he was shown on WWE television is the reason.  Scott Steiner trashes WWE any time he can so he’s never getting in.

HHH has said Chyna shouldn’t be in because he doesn’t want his kids to do a Google search on Chyna and see what she’s done.  Talk about insulting our intelligence.  Is he kidding?  Do a search on WWE wrestlers; male and female; and look at how many did porn or naked photos to make money.  How many sleazy story lines have their been in WWE; how many drug overdoses and wrestlers have been linked to drug scandals.

Vince McMahon has always wanted to do a storyline on incest.  He wanted one where he would be the father of Stephanie’s baby.  When she said no, Vince suggested Shane.  She again said no.  He once wanted an angle with Ken Shamrock doing an incest love affair with his “sister” Ryan Shamrock (who he was actually dating).  Ken said no way and magically his push ended.

http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/211209-backstage-update-vince-mcmahon-approves-incest-storyline

HHH himself cheated to get Stephanie and then lied about it.  And just try to find a wrestler over 35 who didn’t take steroids.  And while HHH and WWE is shining up their halo’s, they promoted WWE into soft porn by making huge deals with playboy for several years.  I’ve never heard ANYONE use HHH, or the McMahon’s in the same sentence that you use the word moral or ethics.

Will Chyna Get Into The HOF:

Yes; just like in anything, death erases barriers.  In my opinion in time all will be forgiven and this is now a time to save face and to look gracious.  “This went on too long and we need to forgive.”  Look for Chyna to get into the HOF and all of the people that had been blocking her getting into the HOF and trashing her in interviews will now have a chance to glowingly speak kindly of her.  It’s hard not to be cynical.

Bill Apter interviews Chyna in October of 2015:

 

Chyna really wanted to be inducted.  Three weeks ago she tweeted that she would like for one day to return to WWE so she could thank the fans that supported her so much.  “Without them I am nothing.”

Her Legacy:

Chyna and the Fabulous Moolah are the greatest wrestling talents in history for the female division.  NO ONE was ever as physically dominant as Chyna.

Her friends and fans will remember her for her kindness and her good heart.  In my limited interactions with her she was a sweet fun person.  I loved her interactions with her fans.  She loved them and they adored her.

The wrestling business usually leaves few survivors.  In this sexist men’s club, she blazed trails and gained the respect and adoration of millions.  She was a beacon for many women who weren’t 100 pound blond cheerleaders to be who they were and to be the best and that you can do anything a man can do without selling out.

At worst she was a sad tale of insecure out of control pain that couldn’t find peace while leaving a trail of wreckage behind her.  I think all of us could relate to Chyna even a little bit to the times when we are/were lost and felt in pain.

At her best she was the essence of sweetness and kindness and appreciation for whatever she got, making sure a positive and kind message followed her.

Chyna’s last words on her Youtube video from Sunday was “Love Y’all and Peace.”  I think I speak for every fan, writer, announcer and wrestler in saying to Chyna that we love you too.  Thank you so much for all you did for everyone. And lastly eternal, sweet peace to you too.

“FROM KEN STABLER TO CHARLIE SUMNER; A YEAR OF LOSS FOR THE OAKLAND RAIDERS & REMEMBERING THEM DURING THE HOLIDAYS”

 

ken stabler gene upshaw
Gene Upshaw showing some love to Ken Stabler

Pastor: I promise James, in time the pain will lessen and it will get easier.

Me: With all due respect Pastor, that is crap. The pain never gets better. Time just makes it a little easier to deal with.

If you want to know how important history is, just look at the half time ceremony when the Packers put Brett Favre’s name in their ring of honor at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night. An 81 year old 5 time Champion Bart Starr worked hard for 3 months during extremely poor health just to make the trip to welcome Brett Favre on his special night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium; including Brett Favre’s; when Bart Starr walked up and hugged him. The emotions linked generations of fans who stood up proudly as one.  Brett Favre said, “No offense to anyone, but I was so happy to see Bart Starr and in a way the night was also for him. I was more excited seeing him smiling and happy than what I was there for”.

The Christmas holidays are my favorite time of year. People are nicer and there is much more of a kind spirit of good will floating around. Unfortunately all of us have lost people that we love and it can also be a time of great internal pain and longing. I get that because our family has known a lot of tragedy. This year has been grinding and hard. It’s also been that way for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have lost many that were linked to their greatness.

I could see it in his eyes. Upon the passing of the great Ken Stabler, George Atkinson seemed inconsolable.   “It seems that every month we lose someone close to the Raiders. There are fewer of us and it’s very difficult to hear of the passing of Kenny.”

My dad once said that getting older isn’t the hard part. He said the hard part is watching family members that were once strong and vital getting old and passing away. It’s also hard to see athletes who you grew up watching, doing the same.

I think one of the nicest things ever said to me was after I wrote an article for a paid Philadelphia Eagles site. I wrote about a couple of the Eagles who had passed. One Philly fan thanked me for the article and said, “You are the keeper of their memory. You made me remember how great of players these were and how they touched the community. I’ll now never forget them and I was touched like they were my own. Thank you.”

History is a huge deal in our family. It’s always been instilled in us by my parents and relatives, to keep people’s memories alive. We should never forget people and appreciate their talents and their input in people’s lives. Our society has become much more shallow than in the past, with us being obsessed with youthful looks, being cool and in, and keeping in the know with the latest. We forget so easily. The word great is handed out like Halloween candy and our memory is short.   For me, I will never be that way and for those that read me, they will always see a sense of appreciation of those from the past along with their families.

The Raiders have lost some key people from their past this year. Let us remember them.

art powellOakland Raider great WR Art Powell

Art Powell:

Wide Receiver Art Powell was one of the first and great stars of the AFL.   He was big and fast and was known for some amazing catches. He was a 4 time AFL all star and was voted onto the all time AFL team. He amazingly had 81 touchdown passes during a time when defensive backs could do whatever they wanted to WR.

People forget that it was his character that shined the most. Powell, along with teammates Bo Roberson, Clem Daniels and Fred Williamson, refused to play in an exhibition game against his old team the New York Jets because of segregated seating in Mobile Alabama’s Ladd Stadium.

al loCasale
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and Executive Assistant Al LoCasale

Al LoCasale:

“I first started working for the Raiders in 1985. I complained about a bad call in the press box and one of the NFL officials heard me. He angrily went up to Al LoCasale to complain about me. Mr. LoCasale got angry and ripped the stadium credentials from his shirt. It was then that I knew I was a Raider and what loyalty meant. He backed me just because I was a Raider.”

Former Raider Executive Amy Trask.

He was called a pitbull, a hitman, a thug, and many other things that I can’t write. For 3 decades Al LoCasale was the Executive Assistant and loyal heavy for Mr. Al Davis.   If Mr. Davis felt someone wronged the Raiders, LoCasale was the one you had to answer to. He was gruff and had a Napoleonic mentality about him. He demanded respect, loyalty and excellence.   He loved the Raiders and Al Davis.   He was the main figure that helped NFL films capture the Raiders great moments and he insisted on as many Raider players being mentioned as possible. He respected everyone; from the star players to the practice players.   You can’t say Oakland Raiders without saying Al LoCaSale.

dick romanski raider equipment manager
Oakland Raider equipment manager Dick Romanski

Dick Romanski, Equipment Manager:

The Raiders have only had 2 equipment managers in their history.   Dick Romanski and his son Bob.

Dick was an army buddy of Al Davis and a good athlete. He actually coached on Davis military teams. He had been with the Raiders for over 50 years until his son took over. There are stories that Dick was the one that came up with the shield logo of the Raiders.

Dick also was important because he was the one that introduced stickum to the Raiders. He said he got the idea from hitters in major league baseball.

Beloved by players and executives alike, even after retiring he would show up to help on Raider home games. One of the staples of the Raiders lore.

 

charlie sumner
Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator Charlie Sumner having a fun moment with Ken Stabler

Charlie Sumner:

“Charlie took me out of the game and I was pissed. I came off the field screaming at him. He put in backup Jack Squirek and told him to “not drop” the pass. I was out of my mind. Then I saw Squirek intercept Joe Theisman’s pass and score. I picked Charlie up and was going crazy. I had immense joy and almost killed him in the process. What a great coach.”

Raiders MLB Matt Millen

Some Raider players thanked him at their Hall of Fame speeches. Charlie Sumner was the greatest defensive coach in the history of the Oakland Raiders and it’s not close. He was the defensive coordinator for 2 Super Bowl wins. He was also a coach that helped create the famous Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh and he was the one that created the great defenses of the Patriots in the mid to late 70’s that almost lead them to a Super Bowl. The Raider offenses got all the credit but if you look at the Super Bowl wins, it was the defenses that dominated.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-passing-of-an-oakland-raiders-legend-defensive-icon-charlie-sumner-dies-tom-flores-comments/

 

marv-hubbard
Oakland Raider great Fullback Marv Hubbard

Marv Hubbard:

“Some players like to be physical but no one was as tough as Marv.   I’ve never seen a player that would go out of their way to hit people. He also demanded to play special teams because he liked the collisions.”

John Madden

Take it to the cupboard Hubbard was one of the catch phrases of the 1970’s for the Oakland Raiders. In both end zones posters with that saying was the norm. He was all pro 3 times and helped lead the Raiders to 4 consecutive Western Division Championships. He ranks 4th all time in yards per carry as a fullback (4.8 yards) and is 13th overall in NFL history.

Hubbard was a fan favorite and lived in Northern California. He got into music and released 2 albums. He was a scratch golfer and was an entrepreneur and CEO of his own company and he was often seen around town driving his beloved muscle cars which he would restore. Like most Raiders, he lived life to the fullest.

Ken Stabler:

The death of Ken Stabler sent a shockwave around the country and to be honest the world. I remember writing about Ken’s passing and the article was read by people in over 26 countries. I received many messages from people who said they don’t really like the Raiders but that they loved Ken Stabler. I’ve written a lot about Ken and you can check it out here along with Ken’s family website where you can donate to his XOXO Foundation.

http://kenstabler.com/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-passing-of-legendary-raider-ken-stabler-shocks-a-nation/#comments

How to Deal With Loss:

First off there is no formula. The key is to talk to people you respect and love and let the pain out.   Cry, scream or get mad. Pain like that is like poison and if you don’t get rid of it, it can eat you alive.

The holidays can be really hard so keep busy. Kid’s and young people always help when they are around due to their great personalities and wonder around the holidays. Remember that there will be times that the pain will come over you in waves and you just need to let yourself get rid of it. If you are a person of faith, rely on it often.   Personally, without my faith I would have not come through things very well.

The most important thing is to remember that the people that are gone would be heartbroken to see you in pain. This poem is a great one to remember that:

“Remember me with smiles and laughter because that’s how I will remember you. If you can only remember me with tears and sorrow, then don’t remember me at all.”

May all of the friends and families of these great people; as well as the fans of the Raiders; find a healing peace and joy this Christmas season.   I pray that they will never be lost in history and that their memories will be passed on to the children of NFL and Raider fans everywhere. And as long as I have breath, I will never let people forget them either.

“After 41 years of pain, the nightmare from the Indy 500 for Swede Savage’s daughter ends in Smiles”

swede savage

I truly believe Swede Savage would have done for Indy, what Dale Earnhardt Sr. did for Nascar.

I never was much into auto racing until I saw a story that was done by ABC sports about 5 years ago.  It was about an up and coming driver that had passed away in 1973, but he was unlike any other driver of his day.

David Earl “Swede” Savage Jr. was not your typical southern good ol boy race car driver.  With most drivers coming from the south or midwest, Swede was the typical Southern California boy.  He was tall, good looking and had a cool way about him.  He was nice and humble and many felt he would be one of the huge break out stars in the indy circuit.  Swede was a four sport athlete with a racers heart, first racing as a 5 year old in the soap box circuit.  Many were predicting the 1973 Indianapolis 500 to be his coming out party to stardom.  He was the guy girls wanted to date, and the racer guys wanted to be like. Dale Earnhardt had that marketing aura and I think Swede was a marketers dream.

More than a few race fans felt that the 1973 Indy 500 was cursed. The rain was a huge factor cancelling the race for two and a half days.  There had also been a fatal accident during a practice run.   Salt Walther was also critically injured on Monday with some spectators having to be hospitalized for burns from the fuel that was flown into the air. At the end of the race, 3 people would be dead, one racer critically injured and several fans were hospitalized.

In one of the most horrific wrecks you will ever see, on lap 58 the rear wing of his car came loose in turn 4 and it made the car unstable.  Jim McKay’s voice raised immediately when he saw this and it’s hard to listen to.  Swede’s car turned directly into an infield retaining wall at full speed hitting head on.  The car exploded and a huge plume of fire and smoke rose.  He ended up near the upper wall and the fuel leaked all over and caught on fire; debris was everywhere.  It seemed like a lifetime before they could get the fire out with fans screaming for the firemen to hurry.

 

Here is rare footage of the accident from the wall.

If the nightmare wasn’t bad enough crewmember Armando  Teran ran across the infield to help the drivers.  He was run over by a fire truck driving going the wrong way at 60 MPH and was killed instantly.  He was hit so hard his body flew high up into the air and the Indy 500 crowd screamed in horror.

 

When Savage began to move, Jim McKay was stunned.  Swede actually was joking around with those helping him and he went into the hospital with hopes for a recovery. Sadly in 33 days he was gone.

There still remains a mystery on what killed him.  Doctors said it was tainted blood that gave him hepatitis and caused his liver to fail; or his kidneys failed. His father and family have said it was pulmonary damage from the fire and the lack of oxygen that was given to him.  In the end even 100% oxygen could not keep him breathing.

Sadly Swede Savage left an unborn daughter.  His wife eventually would give birth to Angela.  They had another daughter Shelly who tragically died in 1995 from Leukemia. Swede also had a son John.

His daughter Angela has lived with pain for a long time.  She said she was born with a broken heart and never got over the loss of her dad.  She once said she thought she’d be sad forever.  She had battles with drugs and alcohol as early as 10 years old and never had peace.

On the coaxing of a race car fan who wanted her to see why her father loved Indy racing so much, she began to think of going.  With a groundswell of financial and moral support, social media friends raised money for her to go to the Indy 500 this year.  When Indianapolis Motor Speedway Management found out about it, they contacted her and paid for the basics of the trip including a memorial car for her to drive in honor of her father.

Angela went with her husband Scott and Swede’s brother Bruce.  A documentary book and movie are now in the works for all of Swede’s loving fans.

I had always been a little bitter that Indy did not do more to commemorate Swede but I can understand it.  I was very happy though to see many Indy people and former racers embrace Angela and Bruce during interviews. You could see their joy in talking about him. I think this gives the fans, as well as his family the closure they’ve longed for. Angela was all smiles and she wore her fathers old racing uniform today.  (Angela’s interview starts at minute 24)

Angela stated in an article,”What I want to do now is to take the open wound, sew it up and celebrate; cap it off with joy!”.  For Angela, the drivers and the fans, the closure and celebration of his life heals many wounds.

Swede Savage, his adoring fans, and his family deserve nothing less.