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“The Tragic Loss of Raider Derrick Jensen & the Mounting List of Players ALS & CTE are Claiming”

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The nightmare continues.

When ESPN’s article on the money grab which is the brain injury lawsuit against the NFL came out recently, it showed just how little is being done for former NFL players struggling with head injuries. So far they have not seen one dime of the settlement money. With lawyers charging outrageous fees, and medical corporations and doctors practically targeting them, you wonder how much money the players will really see. The extreme greed is hard to watch.  The sad part is, more players are being diagnosed with ALS and CTE and many feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/19029607/billion-dollar-nfl-concussion-settlement-turns-nasty-lawyers-others-vie-pieces-payouts-players

Studies now show NFL players are 4-5 times more likely to get ALS than the regular public. The famous Italian soccer study showed Italian soccer players were 6 times more likely to get it. Severe forms of CTE are now feared to be a cause of ALS.  Former woman’s US soccer star Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to CTE studies. The first MMA fighter has now been thought to have CTE. Even BMX legend Dave Mirra was shown to have CTE after his suicide at the age of 41.

Now present and former NHL players are coming out to talk about it.   If you thought the NFL was obtuse about head injuries, the NHL makes them look like Mother Theresa. They sued to block their emails dating back to as much as 10 years ago trying to block studies on the effects of concussions partly because they didn’t want to limit fighting.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl-doctor-slams-situational-ethics-on-concussions-in-unsealed-lawsuit-documents-1.708729

Last month the NFL world was shocked and dismayed to hear that former 49er great Dwight Clark was diagnosed with ALS. Alabama great Kevin Turner; an 8 year veteran of the NFL; died last year at 46 from ALS. He was one of the key witnesses in the CTE trials v.s. the NFL. His brain was later studied and he was found to have severe CTE damage. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.

Raiders stud FB Steve Smith has been battling ALS for 15 years. And sadly the Raiders and Seattle families lost a valuable person last week in Derrick Jensen.

I still remember Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last March saying he personally still didn’t think there was a link to head injuries, concussions and CTE.   That’s what players are up against.

Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honoring Derrick Jensen
Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honor former Raider Derrick Jensen before Seattle Seahawks game

Derrick Jensen Loses His Battle With ALS:

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Mourn-the-Passing-of-Derrick-Jensen/ca64a3e6-8b9d-4ceb-8815-1a93ad9ba9d0

Raiders super sub and special teams captain Derrick Jensen lost his battle with ALS last week after being diagnosed in 2012. Jensen was 60. He was a key member of the Raiders and won 2 Super Bowls. In the first 5 minutes of Super Bowl XVIII, Derrick blocked a Washington punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that set the tone for a huge win against a team that most in the media at that time was calling the best ever.   I remember pretty much going insane as a kid when it happened.

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Davis & Derrick Jensen

Derrick was a solid and valuable player, but he also was a long time respected scout for the Seattle Seahawks with over 2 decades of amazing evaluations.   He was beloved for his kindness and respect towards people. He was eclectic and fun and went out of his way to just say hi to Seattle staffers.   You would be hard pressed to find a more loved guy. His death was a great loss to the NFL. The Seahawks have renamed their draft room in his honor. Sadly Derrick lost his wife Amanda in 2009 in a car accident and now his 19 y/o son Davis (in honor of Al? I don’t know) must go on without his parents.

http://www.seahawks.com/news/2017/04/07/seahawks-remember-longtime-scout-derrick-jensen

A 5-Star Must Read Book on Players & Their Families Fighting CTE:

Many are reading this book in one sitting.  If you want to get a raw, in depth look at what players & families go through with CTE, read Cyndy Feasel’s book “After the Cheering Stops”. Her late husband Grant Feasel; a former Seattle Seahawk OL; was struck by CTE and this story is an amazing one. I can’t recommend this book enough. Grant sadly, was far from being the only one.  RIP Grant.

http://afterthecheeringstops.com/

NFL Royalty Now Struggling:

When Ken Stabler’s partner Kim Ross-Bush came out talking about the CTE symptoms that Ken was suffering from, it seemed that more people started to listen.   Sadly, the list of players struggling continues to grow.

Cowboys great Tony Dorsett has done several national interviews talking about his battle with depression, mood swings and extreme memory loss.  Ex-Raider/Eagle/49er RB Charlie Garner says he can’t go anywhere without someone coming with him because he forgets where his car is & has trouble in conversations.

NFL Royalty and super man Gale Sayers barely talks anymore.  One of the most articulate and smart people in NFL history, can no longer remember some people or even carry on simple conversations.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9931754/former-nfl-stars-tony-dorsett-leonard-marshall-joe-delameilleure-show-indicators-cte-resulting-football-concussions

Detroit Lion legend Mel Farr died in 2015 and it was shown he had severe CTE which he suspected.  At one time Mel had the largest African American owned company in the U.S.

Frank Wycheck, Mike Adamle, and so many others are now saying they are afraid of what lies ahead with their symptoms.  Raider great George Atkinson says it’s hitting him as well and Phil Villapiano says it’s the scary thing everyone is talking about.  Their memories fading, while their thoughts get lost in a fog.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/18585718/former-detroit-lions-rb-mel-farr-had-stage-3-cte-died-2015

These aren’t dumb football players folks. These are smart, articulate, and successful men who contributed great things to the NFL and they are now losing their faculties. AND STILL, no support from the NFL.

The NFL Needs a Wake Up Call:

http://www.myajc.com/sports/football/fate-dwight-clark-gale-sayers-reaffirm-nfl-not-doing-enough/oh3s4BqtAVhI6nye7XQbEN/

People have changed in our country and some leave their brains at the door.  If some belong to a political party, love a football team or belong to an organization, they will blindly defend it no matter what.  Right and wrong no longer matters to them.  It’s like they take it personally if someone questions what they are a part of.  It’s pathetic and insecure to be honest.  You can’t fix problems unless you admit them.

The NFL see’s that same phenomena.  “Don’t be a hater, don’t be negative; you are a troll”. It’s like a bunch of cult members are walking around saying question nothing. To admit a terrible mistake by something they belong to or like is out of the question.

“I’m loyal from the crib to the grave. Win lose or tie, loyal til I die”. These are sayings that are seen often in fan groups of all NFL teams.   Unfortunately the league, the teams, and the owners don’t feel the same. They will move to another city without a worry, buy off politicians and not support the players that made them rich while not thinking twice about it. Their goal is one thing; make more money.  Some NFL fans are the abused spouses of the sporting world and they don’t even know it; enabling the NFL to the end blindly defending anything they do, or fail to do.

Cheerleaders had to sue to get minimum wage and the overwhelming support in social media was for the NFL. The names these women were called by some male fans on social media shouldn’t be repeated. The Ref’s were destroyed by fans for wanting to be full time employees with full time training and salaries. This would greatly improve the calls in games and improve the integrity of the game. Sadly the “cash strapped” NFL said they couldn’t afford to pay them full time. Most fans backed the NFL and told refs to get other jobs if you don’t like it.

The treatment of the retired players is worse. Our society has lost it’s ability to be compassionate, especially to elderly people. If I wrote a story about Derek Carr giving someone a ride, I’d get thousands of readers an hour. Talk about the sad demise of a great player from the past and the numbers drop significantly with a yawn. It’s too sad and no one wants to bother.

What Can We Do:

It will take maturity and confidence from fans to create change. First, we can listen. We can listen to the players and their families.   We can support them by complaining to the league and owners in social media or in actually writing letters that we need to respect them and their needs. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The NFL was going to do nothing in the Ray Rice case until fans were outraged when TMZ proved them to be liars.

The NBA had a known racist, Donald Sterling as an owner.  They knew and supported him for years through his racist actions and rants.  They defended him until a video came out that was seen by fans.  The outrage was epic and public opinion forced the NBA to get rid of him.  Professional leagues morals are based on money & public opinion.

We can also support pages, stories and the players themselves.   Instead of putting up that 1000th team meme or 5000th cat photo on Facebook, teach yourself and/or your kids about the history of the teams and the great players from the past. These players sacrificed a great deal to play football and many were extremely loyal to the cities and fans.  Some became integral parts of the community with many living and dying in the area they played in. We need to stop acting like 18 y/o gang members and respect all players from all teams. You can hate a team or player in fun but remember we are all in this game called life, and that is much more important than any football rivalry or team loyalty.

What is happening to retired players is unacceptable and we need to be the answer. You can still love football and the players in it while not condoning some of the actions of the NFL and the owners. The NFL’s actions show it is loyal to one thing; money. It is their god. Well it’s not mine. They are not loyal to players, fans, cheerleaders, cities and even the refs.   I’m not letting ANY corporation or person use me or disrespect me, and you shouldn’t either. Look at their actions, and not the words. Love the game, and the teams and players but be respectful of what’s going on.  And if we are as loyal and respectful to the game as we say, let’s make a difference and show the NFL that the sport is about the people in it, and not the profit from it.

“The Raiders lose Two All Time Greats; In Remembrance”

marv hubbard

I love Raider fans because of the appreciation they have for the past.  The Glory Days of the Raiders was the foundation of the greatness of the franchise. More and more young people are learning just how great and fun these players were and to understand the great connection the city of Oakland and the east bay had with the Raiders and the players.

Yesterday the Oakland Raiders announced the passing of one of the all time fan favorites during the glory years of the Raiders. I wanted to take a moment and remember him and another great Raider who was lost recently.

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Marv Hubbard (1946-2015)

Raider fans were well known during the glory years for their many posters and signs that they would hang up on the walls of the end zones. The two favorite ones for most fans was “speed kills” in honor of the great Cliff Branch; with his #21 in the Raiders shield; and “take it to the cupboard Hubbard” in honor of Raider icon Marv Hubbard. Many also liked the “OL Mutha Hubbard” too.

Many fans reacted on twitter and other social media sites last night to the sad news that former Raiders fullback Marv Hubbard had died at the age of 68.   There is no listed cause of death as of this writing.

During the glory years of the 1970’s, there were few players on the Raiders that were more popular than Marv Hubbard. After a great career at Colgate, the Raiders picked him in the 11th round with little to no expectations. Right away the Raiders were impressed with his tough and aggressive style of running, as well as his great production and vision.

Hubbard had an amazing 4.8 yards per carry during his career. In fact in his 6 years with the Raiders, his LOWEST yards per carry average in a season was an astounding 4.6 yards per rush. He was a good all around player who could catch the ball and block as well. He used tough running and great vision to get every yard he could.

Marv became a fan favorite due to his fun personality off the field along with his punishing running style on it. He was not fast or athletic but he loved contact. He played with little to no regard for his body and he played 6 productive years for the Raiders and one year for the Lions. His shoulder was permanently injured due to his physical play and it cut short his career. Bill King once said the collisions between Hubbard and Kansas City great Willie Lanier was worth the price of admission alone.

He was a 3 time all pro, and was extremely well respected around the league.   During the greatest decade of the NFL in the 1970’s, the Raiders dynamic duo of Marv Hubbard and Charlie Smith were key cogs in the Oakland offense. Fans loved the way that Hubbard squeezed every yard out of his runs, and that he loved to run over people.

Many fans remember him around town where he was like many players of the day who were staples at local pubs and bars around the bay area. He was a funny and outgoing person who was loved by all. Later in life he was at various fundraising golfing events and he never left without making someone smile.

http://www.raiders.com/media-vault/videos/Battle-of-the-Bay-1974/cd7cdfb9-c68d-4a9e-80d4-2d35add56515

art powell 1

Art Powell (1937-2015)

On April 6 the Raiders lost one of their classiest players of all time in Art Powell.  He had been in failing health due to heart problems.  One of the first AFL stars, he teamed up with Don Maynard for the New York Titans (soon to be Jets), and they became the first 1,000 yard tandem in football. Powell was a key member of the turnaround for the Raiders, signing with them in 1963, the same year Al Davis arrived.

Originally Art Powell did not want to come to Oakland but he agreed to have dinner with new coach and general partner Al Davis. After he and his wife had dinner with Mr. Davis, he agreed to sign with the Raiders. Al Davis just happened to have a signed contract with him that night so he signed him on the spot.

Powell was a great leader on and off the field. In 1963, Bo Roberson, Fred Williamson, and Clem Daniels joined Art in boycotting an exhibition game at Ladd Stadium in Alabama which still had segregated seating for fans. After meeting with Al Davis, Mr. Davis told the League they would not play the game unless it was moved.  The game was then moved to Frank Youell Field in Oakland instead. Mr. Davis respected their stance and most felt none of the other owners would have ever supported Powell.

1965Topps146Powell250w

Powell requested a trade to Buffalo of all places because he wanted to start a business there. He later regretted it.  He stated that he always wondered how things would have turned out if he stayed in Oakland but he said you just have to live with decisions and learn from them even if they don’t work out.

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Even though Powell only played 4 years for the Raiders, he amazingly is their 7th leading receiver of all time. He was a 4 time all star and with 17% of his catches being touchdowns, he is one of the all time leaders in that category.

Respected on the field for his amazing talent, and off the field for his great character and leadership, Art Powell takes a rightful place in the history of the Oakland Raiders.

I hope that all Raider fans will think of these players and their families and appreciate all that they did.  May they rest in peace knowing they gave a lot of pleasure to so many fans.

“NFL Draft Strategy & The History of Oakland Raiders Draft Picks; The 16th Annual Draft Party!”

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I have always been fascinated by the NFL draft. As a little kid I remember watching it with my dad and seeing Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman use his dry humor to predict what each team was going to do. He was funny and was the first to really break the draft down into what it is today.  I also knew how my mom would not be happy about it and my dad and I having to do chores afterwards to keep her happy.  Happy wife, happy life.

Starting in 2000, I started to host a NFL draft party. The first rule was no girlfriends or wives, and that each person had to draft for their own team. We would keep our picks and our notes so the following years we could read what we wrote. We give out awards every year to the best and worst picks of the prior 3 years. I have kept a log full of notes and picks.

First off, I HAVE NO IDEA who the Raiders are going to pick. I don’t know what they are thinking and even if they say they are looking at a player, many times teams leak lies to fool the other teams into trades or other things.

My strategy? I don’t draft for need unless the player warrants being picked that high. For instance if the Raiders need a defensive tackle and there are no defensive tackles that warrant being picked at #4, I’d pick the best player available instead and wait for the next round to pick for a need that I had.

I remember going away from that in 2002 with the Napoleon Harris Pick.   The Raiders were desperate for a middle linebacker and Harris was the best one out there in a draft that didn’t have many good linebackers. In reality he was just an ok player and he never panned out. I’ll never do that again.

Don’t be bullied by people. There are site owners and web pages that practically tell you who to pick, how to think and how to feel and that is a sign of huge insecurity. I remember being kicked off sites when I said DHB was a terrible pick. I was called a 49er fan when I said Jamarcus Russell was a huge mistake. And my friends still laugh at me for falling on the floor when the Raiders passed up on California great Aaron Rodgers to get Nebraska defensive back Fabian Washington.

Some fans will like ANYONE that is picked by their teams, but if you don’t like a pick, it’s ok not to. If you like a guy it’s also cool to say why and go from there. Remember, facts are always greater than opinions, assumptions and hopes.

Here is a list of the Raiders draft picks and my picks. I’m not saying I know more but it is what it is.

2000 Raiders pick: Sebastian Janikowski K Florida St.

Jim’s Pick: Shaun Alexander RB Alabama

(Alexander was a stud at Alabama and is a borderline hall of famer; only Seahawk MVP in a season; most yards rushing in Seattle history. Jano has become a solid kicker but he’s never really had to play on the big stage)

2001 Raiders pick: Derrick Gibson DB Florida St.

Jim’s Pick: Kendrell Bell LB Georgia

(Bell was defensive rookie of the year & a key member of the Steelers but several bad knee injuries derailed his career.   He had to retire after the 2007 season due to his knees. Gibson is one in a long line of DB draft busts)

 

2002 Raiders/Jim’s pick: Phillip Buchanon CB Miami Fla.; Napoleon Harris LB Northwestern

(Neither panned out and were considered busts)

2003 Raiders pick: Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Tyler Brayton DE Colorado

Jim’s Pick: Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Boss Bailey LB Georgia

(Aso was very good; Bailey was an average player other than one year and Brayton was a solid backup with spurts of being an average starting player at Carolina)

2004 Raiders pick: Robert Gallery T Iowa

Jim’s Pick: Larry Fitzgerald WR Pittsburgh

(Fitzgerald is a probable hall of famer. Gallery was considered a bust at tackle but became a solid guard. He never became the player the Raiders thought he would be though. Retired in 2012)

2005 Raiders pick: Fabian Washington S Nebraska

Jim’s Pick: Aaron Rodgers QB California

(Rodgers is a future hall of famer. Washington was another DB bust)

2006 Raiders pick: Michael Huff S Texas

Jim’s Pick: Matt Leinart QB USC

(Leinart was a lazy party frat boy, bust. Huff was somewhat soft and was an average player at best; another DB bust. He’s listed as a Denver Bronco but he has barely played in the NFL after leaving the Raiders in 2012, and didn’t play last year.)

2007 Raiders pick: Jamarcus Russell QB LSU

Jim’s Pick: Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech

(Megatron is a future hall of famer. I actually thought about Adrian Peterson who was a monster at Oklahoma.  After Russell was cut, 2 large Raiders web site owners emailed me personally apologizing me for the abuse they and the fans on the Raiders sites gave me about Russell when I said he would be a bust. I accepted their apology and signed up again on the sites but I don’t go on them.)

2008 Raiders/Jim’s Pick: Darren McFadden RB Arkansas

(other than one year he could not stay healthy and never could equal his physical college style)

2009 Raiders Pick: Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland

Jim’s Pick: Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech

(DHB was a bust as I predicted and is pretty much a special teams player at Pittsburgh and rarely plays as a WR. Crabtree has had a fairly good career; time will tell with him)

2010 Raiders/Jims Pick: Rolando McClain LB Alabama

(emotional issues, big bust)

2011 Raiders/Jims Pick: Stefen Wisniewski C Penn St.

(2nd Round; Raiders had no 1st round pick)

(good at guard ok at center; lost to free agency)

2012 Raiders Pick: Tony Bergstrom T Utah

Jim’s Pick: Frank Alexander DE Oklahoma

(Raiders did not have a 1st or 2nd round pick)

(Both are backups; Alexander was suspended for 4 games for substance abuse)

2013 Raiders Pick: DJ Hayden DB Houston

Jim’s Pick: Star Lotulelei DL Utah

(Lotulelei has solidified the Panthers run defense. Hayden has been a bust so far and was a puzzling pick. An athlete with little football instinct and really wasn’t all that great in college)

2014 Raiders/Jims Pick: Khalil Mack LB Buffalo

(Rushed the qb much better in the second half. Solid year with a lot of potential)

These are just some of the players I picked. Could you imagine them as Raiders?

Aaron Rodgers

Calvin Johnson

Larry Fitzgerald

Shaun Alexander

Star Lotulelei

Michael Crabtree

 

Let’s look at some of the trends and reasons why the Raiders have missed on so many picks:

The Raiders defense has struggled mightily in the last 12 years. Do you notice the trend? NO defensive linemen chosen in the first round since 1997!   The Raiders forgot that the most important part of your team after the quarterback is the defensive line. You DON’T build a defense with defensive backs.   You get a DL to stop the run and rush the passer and then go from there.

The main problem I’ve had with Mr. Davis draft picks is that he always felt the team was better than they really were. He seemed to be in denial like some who felt this team was close to winning when they were obviously not. When you lose 11 games year after year you lack talent in a big way.

I feel the NFL combines really ruined Mr. Davis. I don’t pay attention to the combines. He became obsessed with DB’s 40 times in gym shorts and loved weight room junkies like Robert Gallery. Darrius Heyward-Bey who was a ridiculous pick, gained his millions purely from his NFL combine 40 time. Gallery had a great college career but he became a legend due to his amazing NFL combine stats just like New York Jets bust Vernon Gholston.

I saw Larry Fitzgerald play several times and even with him being triple teamed on occasion, he still had huge games. Calvin Johnson was a man among boys. I would love them on the Raiders. And if I heard how far Jamarcus Russell could throw on his knees at the NFL combines one more time, I was going to lose it.

I pointed out to many how he struggled mightily against pro style defenses like Auburn who made him look lost, as well as his lack of accuracy.   Russell made his money in his last bowl game against the 104th ranked defense destroying Notre Dame.

Aaron Rodgers was a no-brainer and every draft expert was shocked when the Raiders went with Fabian Washington. Again, they drafted for need and Washington had the fastest 40 time in the NFL combines of any DB. They forgot to look at how he struggled in coverage at Nebraska, and that he was more of an athlete than a player with football instinct.

My big mistake was Matt Leinart. In College he was a stud, with great accuracy and instinct. Once he got the big money in the NFL though, he immediately was a regular on the party circuit and his lack of work ethic was of legend. Young girls began to put photo’s up of him slobbering drunk in clubs. A total waste.

Who will the Raiders take? If it were me and he is there, I take Leonard Williams the DL from USC. With the present NFL movement, the Raiders probably have the worst pass rush in the NFL and you can’t win without a pass rush.

Our draft parties have been so much fun. Unfortunately it has also been a time where I can tell my fellow Raider fans I told you so on all of the terrible picks from the previous years.   it’s a lot more fun to smile about good past draft picks than head scratching mediocre to bad draft busts.

So cool down the beer and ice tea, get the food out and welcome to the 16th annual NFL draft party! Who are you picking?

“Andy Kaufman: He Would Have Broken The Internet: From Wrestling to Hoaxes”

andy kaufman jerry lawler

Andy Kaufman was not a comedian.

When you ask a comedian what their goal is they will say to make people laugh. Andy Kaufman was different. His goal was to make himself laugh and to make you wonder if what he was doing was real or not. His goal was to watch people squirm in the realm of wonder.

Many people have said that Andy was a trail blazer for comedian’s, but I disagree. When it came to comedy, he saw the darkest and deepest path and took it.   No one then or since has ever followed him and taken that same path.

Andy once said he felt more like a song and dance man, but in reality he was so much more. From the beginning of his career you knew you were watching something unique. I’ve talked to a few people that saw Andy in clubs and the words they use to describe the shows are funny, uncomfortable, and thought provoking,

He stirred the pot and he wanted to mess with your mind by making you wonder if what you were seeing was reality or not. Life was a big prank to him and he would go to any lengths to make it seem real. Andy wanted to make himself laugh and to create a world where nothing was for sure. How many times did he do a routine where he was down and out with a hard luck story and when the crowd laughed he would smirk and say, “you shouldn’t be laughing because I’m being serious”. The crowd would then be quiet and you could feel how uncomfortable they were. Of course he wasn’t serious, and of course Andy loved it.

Some people felt disappointed when he did the television show Taxi, but he did that on the coaxing of his manager George Shapiro. Even though he hated sitcoms, it gave Andy the money and the fame to do what he wanted to do. In an interview with Tony Danza that is online, Danza said that Andy rarely came to the set during weekly rehearsals and that he stayed private. The cast of Taxi was a friendly environment and it brought an heir of animosity when Kaufman would just show up to the final reading, and then the day of tapings. What made the cast even more angry is that Andy never made a mistake.

Andy’s most famous antics to this day are still being debated. In one of his earliest appearances on David Letterman, he showed up saying he was financially strapped and needed help. David asked him what he was working on and Andy said nothing.   Letterman then asked about his bookings and Andy said he had none. He was unshaven and disheveled and had large amounts of mucous under his nose.   Letterman gave him tissue before Kaufman pleaded with the crowd to give him money to help him out. He walked out into the crowd and people started to give him money before security sent him away. Letterman wasn’t laughing.

The character Tony Clifton was pure genius. Andy created a character that was a lounge singer who was below the belt nasty with little to no talent.   In his contract, Andy actually had it written in that Tony was do to a handful of Taxi episodes. Clifton would show up each time to the Taxi set with a hooker on each arm, both being at least 6 feet tall. He then stated that the hookers would now be a part of the show.   Clifton was fired but he would not leave the set. The media; which Andy called; had a field day when Clifton was made to leave.

One of the all time epic storylines in wrestling history was the famous Andy Kaufman v.s. Jerry Lawler feud. Andy had spent months on Saturday Night Live wrestling women and began calling himself the inter gender champion.   Kaufman said that women were superior in cleaning, washing potatoes and carrots and scrubbing floors. People were incensed.  He also would get into the ring to teach the “redneck” people of Memphis, TN how to use soap and wash themselves.  The crowd went nuts!

Andy contacted Vince McMahon Sr. to see if he could get involved in the New York wrestling scene. Mr. McMahon Sr. was very sensitive to bringing anything fake into the wrestling world; the term sports entertainment hadn’t been invented yet; so he declined thinking it would ruin wrestling. Andy had a wrestling photographer friend in Bill Aptos, and he had Andy call Jerry Lawler in Memphis wrestling.

Lawler being a great showman knew this was a huge opportunity. He and Andy conspired to fool the world. Over time Lawler would coach a female wrestler to wrestle Andy. When Andy won, Lawler then challenged Andy.   In the famous first match Lawler did 2 pile drivers; a hold that powers your head into the mat; and Andy looked like he was dead but was only slightly hurt.

In a funny story, after the 2nd pile driver, Andy lay motionless on the mat. His partner in crime, writer and producer and sometimes Tony Clifton character Bob Zmuda, asked Andy if he was ok. Bob was actually the referee during the match. With the crowd roaring their approval, Andy quietly told Bob to call an ambulance. Bob then walked over to Lawler and told Jerry what Andy wanted to do. Lawler who is known for being frugal, said no way because it would cost $300. Zmuda walked over to check on Andy and told him what Lawler said. Andy whispered, “I’ll pay for it”. When Zmuda told him Andy would pay for it, Lawler said go get an ambulance.

Andy also did some very short lived television shows that were not overly supported by the networks due to his unpredictability. In one show Andy actually had the network mess up the vertical hold on the program.   This would make viewers at home think something was wrong with their tv’s.

Andy’s dream was to do a show at Carnegie Hall which he did in 1979. Saturday night live actually did a small story about it on their program that was very touching.

In a tender moment he brought out his “grandmother” who sat on the side of the stage to watch the show. She took a bow. At the end of the show his grandmother got up and clapped and then took off her mask. It was none other than his friend, fellow comedian Robin Williams.

Andy also had an elderly woman die on stage only to have him come back out as an Indian. He did a dance to revive her after the doctors pronounced her dead.  At the end of the show he wanted to thank the crowd and he had 24 busses take them out for milk and cookies and invited anyone who wanted to meet him to come to the Staten Island Ferry the next morning. He did some more bits and met his adoring fans.

Within six months of being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer, Andy Kaufman sadly died on May 16, 1984.   His friend Jerry Lawler was in attendance. Even then, tabloids, fans and the media wondered if this wasn’t another huge hoax. He had talked about faking his own death for years, but unfortunately this was not a hoax.

He was before my time but he always fascinated me and I loved learning about him.  And with so many nominally talented people being famous for sex tapes, being sleazy or vulgar; or for just being attractive; you wonder what a talented person like Andy would have done to the social media world of today.

Could you imagine all of the twitter discussions or the YouTube videos proving or disproving things he said or did?  With social media he would have reached millions in a blink of an eye in a way no comedian ever could.  He would have had the world scratching it’s head but laughing all the way.  And in true form, nothing would have been more pleasing to the great Andy Kaufman.