Ohio

Ken Stabler one of six players to throw 7 interceptions in NFL game

The passing of former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler at the age of 69 is likely to revive old debates over The Snake’s Pro Football Hall of Fame worthiness.

There’s room for argument on both sides of the table. I mean, the Hall’s selection committee named Stabler a second-team member of its All-Decade Team of the 1970s, despite 24 interceptions thrown in 1975 and 30 in 1978. They were clearly impressed once upon a time.

Stabler finished his 15-year NFL career (11 as a starter with three teams) in the shadows of contemporaries such as Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese and Fran Tarkenton, each immortalized in Canton, Ohio.

But what about Kenny? He led Oakland to a 69-26-1 regular season record in the 1970s and finished with 96 wins in all after wrapping up a career with the Houston Oilers and lowly New Orleans Saints.

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Will NBA free agents flee Western Conference for easy road in East?

With the NBA Draft in our rearview mirrors the focus for basketball fans throughout the remainder of the summer turns to the dealings of free agency.

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders joined Carnahan Chronicles on AM 740 The Game to discuss a handful of topics from around the National Basketball Association.

Among those is a story he wrote about marque players choosing to leave the Wester Conference in favor of teams in the East in hopes of an easier path to the NBA Finals.

“I think it’s very possible that we’ll see players that are out West coming to the Eastern Conference, or free agents that are in the Eastern Conference staying out East, because players understand that the Western Conference is brutal right now. It’s hard to make a Finals run. You can be on a loaded team in the West and still miss the playoffs,” Kennedy said.

( – Click here for J.C.’s interview with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders – )

Kennedy touches on a handful of NBA topics throughout the segment with a focus on players and teams from both central Florida and northeast Ohio.

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Carnahan Coverage: Linebacker Withney Simon still awaiting first scholarship offer

ORLANDO, Fla. – He’s done all that’s been asked of him yet Orlando Jones High School’s Withney Simon, the No. 2-rated linebacker in Central Florida, is unsure of his football future.

I caught up with Simon following the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl earlier this month at the Florida Citrus Bowl and asked him about his college options. He said that although he’s got the grades to qualify for football at the next level, he’s a bit surprised at how little interest he’s garnered from college programs.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s feature on Withney Simon for Orlando Sentinel – )

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New film analyzes origins of “Dixie” and its relationship with the South

The history of the song “Dixie” is the subject of an Intersection Films production bearing the same name by Ryan Kelley and Trent Reeves.

It’s a documentation of the origins of the song, its relation to the South, and the people who’ve preserved it in some form or fashion throughout each passing generation.

It’s also a look into how “Dixie” became a rallying cry for those opposed to the desegregating times of the late 1950s and 1960s and the connection it began to have with that of the Confederate flag.

Was “Dixie” in fact written by Dan Emmett of Mount Vernon, Ohio, who went on to pioneer the blackface minstrel shows of the mid-1800s? Or was it a nearby family of former slaves – Ben and Lou Snowden – who taught him the tune that he would eventually make famous?

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Hannah Plybon emerges from small town to captain of University of Akron women’s hoops team

(The following story is an alternate version of what will appear in the Jan. 9, 2014 edition of OrrViews in Orrville, Ohio)

ORLANDO, Fla. – It didn’t take long for Hannah Plybon to showcase the kind of impact she could have at the highest level of college basketball.

Hannah Plybon (left) earned as spot on the All-MAC Freshman Team a year ago.

Hannah Plybon (left) earned as spot on the All-MAC Freshman Team a year ago.

On the heels of successful runs in three different sports during her senior year at Orrville High School in Ohio, Plybon made an immediate impression on coaches and teammates upon her arrival at the University of Akron.

Plybon worked her way into the starting lineup as a freshman before her rookie season ever got underway, on a team featuring six seniors that had returned from a 23-win campaign.

Plybon has since blossomed into a leader at Akron, on a squad that opened the 2014-15 season by winning its first 10 games.

She’s now less than a year removed from being named to the All-MAC Freshman Team after starting 32 of 33 games for the Lady Zips, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament and won the Mid-American Conference for the first time in school history.

Not bad for someone hailing from small-town America, where the pride of being hometown to former college coach Bobby Knight and a jelly manufacturer is offset by two decades worth of factories closing shop and families relocating elsewhere.

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Blueprint relives worst shows of his music career in “What a Night”

There’s always been something about the uneasiness and embarrassment of others that makes the rest of us cringe with curiosity.

Such stories serve dual purposes in that they entertain on one hand and fascinate on the other, as though we can relate in some form or fashion. Or maybe we’re just intrigued by the kinds of far-fetched circumstances we’ve never had a chance to experience ourselves.

Blueprint offers up these types of stories to help quench such an appetite as he shares the most awkward moments from his life on the road in “What a Night,” a book about the worst shows of his music career.

Although Blueprint’s been known for different things at different times in his life, first as a computer programmer, and most notably a producer, emcee and musician, it’ll take some time before his work as an author of books reaches those aforementioned levels.

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Carnahan Coverage: LeBron James Doesn’t Need Another Title to Appease Cavs Fans

When LeBron James decided to take his talents back to Cleveland, Ohio it was a win-win for both the NBA all-star forward and Cavs fans throughout the world, or at least in the midwest. I tried to explain this on the debut of my radio show on July 12 (listen here) and have done so again in writing for Orlando Sports Mag earlier this month. Below is the full story that can be found on page five of Orlando Sports Mag. A story about the Orlando City Soccer Club and their fans also appears in the issue on page 28.

If you’ve ever moved away from home you know how hard it is to move back.

Even the most nostalgic of us knows this to be true. Each day away from the nest drives us further from the people we once were and ever closer to the possibilities of new adventures in the future.

Of course a salary of $42.1-million over two years could make anyone reconsider, such as is the case of NBA all-star forward LeBron James, who decided in July to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four successful years with the Miami Heat.

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Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Orlando City Soccer Club & Pro Football Hall of Fame

Each year the football season begins with Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio. The inductees for 2014 include linebacker Derrick Brooks, tackle Walter Jones, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Claude Humphrey, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive back Aeneas Williams.

But who deserves a spot in next year’s class? Maybe names such as Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Kurt Warner will be called upon next.

( – Click here to listen to J.C. and Chris talk about Orlando City and Hall of Fame – )

Carnahan Coverage: Warren Sapp Remembers Apopka Upon Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction

Last year former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Warren Sapp took his place among the greats in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Like most former NFL players in Canton, Ohio the week of their induction, Sapp let his guard down while talking to reporters before his big weekend got underway. Below is the story I wrote for The Apopka Chief, Sapp’s hometown newspaper during his playing days at Apopka High School in Florida.

There was one piece of advice that stuck with Warren Sapp throughout much of his ascent from the dirt roads of Plymouth and the playing fields in Apopka to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“My grandmother said something to me a long time ago that I’ll never forget,” Sapp said at the onset of his enshrinement speech Saturday in Canton, Ohio. “She said, ‘boy, don’t you ever forget where you come from’.”

The late Rosie Lykes would be proud. Not only because her grandson was immortalized over the weekend among an elite group of 280 professional football players, but because he’s maintained a genuine compassion for those that helped him reach these heights along the way.

Sapp, who starred for Apopka High School before becoming a first round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the University of Miami in 1995, spent nearly 12 minutes recognizing family, friends, former coaches and teammates at the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary gathering.

It was a peak behind the rugged exterior of one of the fiercest defensive tackles in the history of the National Football League.

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Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club Pulls Scoreless Draw with Brazil’s Sao Paulo FC

Was it any coincidence the reports of Ricardo Kaka retuning to Sao Paulo FC, where he’ll play the remainder of the year before joining Orlando City Soccer Club in Major League Soccer in 2015, came out the same week the clubs were scheduled for an international friendly?

( – Click here to read my MLS story on Kaka comments from Orlando City coach – )

While Kaka was back home in Brazil, Orlando City and Sao Paulo played to a scoreless draw. The match came down to Orlando City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo, who made a save in the 90th minute off the foot of Alexandre Pato from the top of the box. It felt anything but routine despite the one-timer being offered up to his chest.

If you’ve been watching the World Cup this month you may remember the impressive day turned in by Mexican goalie Guillermo Ochoa against Brazil during a 0-0 draw in group play. Gallardo, who is of Mexican decent, was asked about the coincidence.

“I’m just happy that Brazilians couldn’t score on Mexicans,” he said with a laugh.

( – Click here to read my recap of Orlando City-Sao Paulo for Orlando Sentinel – )

( – Click here to read my preview of Orlando City-Sao Paulo for Orlando Sentinel – )

Something Familiar About Blue Jackets Return To NHL Playoffs

If you’re looking for an underdog franchise to root for in the NHL postseason – which got underway this week – look no further than the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets joined the NHL in time for the 2000-01 season but are playing in just their second playoff series. And they’ve yet to even win a single playoff game, a streak that increased to five losses in a row Wednesday after a late goal by the Pittsburgh Penguins ended in a 4-3 setback.

It’s been five years since Columbus was swept in the opening round of their first postseason trip by the Detroit Red Wings, who later lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Penguins in seven games. This time Ohio’s only pro hockey team is matched up against the state’s biggest sports-town rival in Pittsburgh.

If that’s not reason enough to make sports fans in Columbus take notice, perhaps learning of the similarities between the two Blue Jacket playoff teams will be enough to satisfy the hockey appetite.

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NCAA March Madness Offers Rare Stroke of Luck

I’m historically mediocre at filling out March Madness brackets. But I do it ever year, just as I’ve become programed to do over the past three decades. For most sports fans it adds a little more flare to the wild and unpredictable opening rounds of the tournament.

This time I waited until the last minute to fill one out. I wasn’t tempted to wager a single penny on it either, for the first time in years. And then I started to wonder what could have been after watching as my Final Four, and seven of my Elite Eight selections, remained intact entering Thursday and Friday’s Sweet 16.

NCAA March Madness

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