Marlin Jackson [all photos by Upchurch until the end]
Eric shot the inaugural Go Blue Bowl, a charity event for Marlin Jackson's foundation, to which we led a proud assist. I gave him crap in Dear Diary for not posting his photos, but they were just not on Flickr. So here's the ones you might be interested in.
At left is Marlin's partner Earl, who runs one of the schools that will be picking up and hosting Marlin's programs in town. Even among all these football players Earl is a singularly impressive guy for the work he's done in education and his singular focus on making sure kids get good ones.
I wasn't sure it would be appropriate to post pics of the kids but we figured the "coaches" (ie former players) would be of interest. Lots of them showed up, and a lot of that is thanks to…
my friend and Go Blue Then and Now founder Brandon Williams, better known as "B-Will." His organization brings the charities of former players together so they can all help each other. If you're wondering why the list of players we tend to know begins with a lot of 2000-2003 defensive backs, well, that's because B-Will played with some really really good ones, like…
Marlin, and, between them, Zia Combs, who opened up about his career-ending injury and what it was like to have to start over from that when football was the thing he spent his whole life focused on. And…
Marcus Ray—okay Marcus pre-dates all of these guys but he has been one of the most active in supporting this. Ray's team came out in a well-organized spread formation and started kicking butt; afterward he knew the name of every one of his players. To the right of him is the coach of the championship team, Ernest Shazor, who is HUGE, and goofy, and was out there when a kid lobbed a duck over the middle and for a second there Ernest went from big goofy guy to a defensive back in a stance that made me fear a kid was about to get liquefied. Also big in person:
Cato June: who's pictured here arm in arm with Jason Avant. I just didn't get around to talking to Cato this time, but I owe him an apology since a few weeks earlier we were half-way to organizing an event before we both realized I was organizing a thing in Indianapolis and he lives in D.C. Not my best moment. So now I also owe the D.C. alumni association a call. As you should know and I should have remembered, he's a successful high school coach, so his team was another that played like they'd had years to practice their stuff rather than an hour.
The award for guy who most looks and sounds like a football coach goes to…
Andy Mignery. He sounds exactly as awesome in real life as on the radio. It is very hard not to ask him to recite epic quotes/movie trailers.
Right of course is Jason Avant. After the game the kids all went inside and the players gave speeches, and the two above had the most impressive. Also those hands. Those hands are ridiculous. They have to be since he was the only guy who could ever catch something from…
John Navarre, who was in fact chucking bullets, though Avant said Henne threw harder. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to compare his arm strength with the guy on the right, whose apparent coldness probably led Jason Whitlock to write a columnb about leadership. Gardner couldn't stick around long, and Navarre had to take off early as well. That's him saying goodbye to…
…Michael Schofield (on the top-left) and Jordan Kovacs (on the bottom-left). The two are together at right. Both incredibly nice guys. I asked Kovacs, after his experience on our liveblog, which was crazier: you people, or an NFL locker room. He had to think about it.
Back row from left: Ernest Shazor, Zia Combs, Marlin Jackson, Earl, Jason Avant. Front row: B-Will.
Eric didn't get photos of everyone. Here's Avant talking with Jeremy Gallon from my phone:
Gallon's another guy I didn't get to talk to much, since he was surrounded by kids the whole time. It was Mignery who pointed out to me, when it was obvious that Gallon was the guy the kids were most impressed with, that they probably don't remember most of these other players, but Gallon is a star from their football memories.
Thank you to all of our readers who sponsored or supported this in some way. Next year I think we're going to do it in Newsterbaan.
Update 3/20: We filled the initial pool so DraftStreet started a second pool of up to 1,000 people with $20k on the line. You can still use the links below and you'll be redirected to new pool. You will still be automatically entered in the MGoBlog tourney. If you entered the $40k one already you won't be moved or anything.
This is not a bracket game. This is better.
Money? MGofantasy partner DraftStreet is letting us enter/run a mini-game within their
$40,000 (40k one is filled; now entering the $20k one) March Madness fantasy contest. The top 250 125 finishers, i.e. those who make it to the 4th and final round (there are max 2,000 entries in a pool so one in eight entries wins) will split the $40k $20k in prize money, and those who enter through us also get a shot at designing the next MGoShirt or free MGoStore loot.
The Game Explained: For those of you who've rolled our games before you know the drill. For those who haven't, the way it works is you "draft" a team on a salary cap basis: every player has a pre-assigned value based on their production, and you get $100,000 to fit three forwards, three guards, and a pair of stretch players onto your roster. So for example if you start with Doug McDermott, Russ Smith, Jabari Parker and Casey Prather you'll have spent about $80k and will have to fill the rest of your team with scrubs to come in under the cap.
The Contest: Runs through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, i.e. Thursday 3/20 through Sunday 3/23. It's a four-day survival system: those who finish in the top half each day "survive" to the next, until final standings are determined by score on the last day.
The official name is the CBB $40,000 Blowout. Your team(s) will be competing among up to 2,000 entries. There's a $22 entry fee, OR each day before it begins, you can enter a side game for $2 or $5 and win your buy-in.
The MGoContest: Entries from MGoBlog get double-entered into our mini-pool, wherein the Top 5 finishers get to pick any shirt from the MGoStore. The champion gets to help us design the next MGoShirt (must keep to rules of propriety, licensed property, and NCAA rules, e.g. profiting from specific players). You come up with the concept and we'll turn in into a shirt, put it in the store, and send you three of them to give out to friends/family/enemies.
To be in our pool you don't have to do anything extra; just use the links from our site to get to the contest site and I'll track it.
Is there a button I should press or something?
Detail-like substances: You can't play if you're registering from from Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Vermont, or Puerto Rico, because of some anti-gambling internet laws in those places. Must be 18+. Amount of people advancing is predetermined so if <2,000 entries are in the league the top 1,000/500/250 still advance each day. DraftStreet is running the show under their rules.
This April 4 will be the first Go Blue Bowl, an event to benefit Marlin Jackson's Fight for Life Foundation. It's a flag football tournament with teams of 10 sponsored by local businesses and coached by Marlin, Jason Avant, Jerome Jackson, Donovan Warren, Chris Perry, Cato June, Tim Massaquoi, Marcus Ray, Jeremy Gallon, Roy Manning, Brandon Williams, and Jamar Adams (so far).
On Monday Brian and I were invited to attend the kickoff event and I was asked to give a speech to explain why we're behind this. I figured I might as well share that as a diary, where those who care to read it can, and the overwhelming majority who don't need only put up with a handful of picas in the diary bar for a few days.
Michigan is This
I was part of that famous class of 1998. Together we won a BCS bowl, 2 Big Ten championships, and twice beat THE university that thinks you need to put an article before a proper noun. The reason you probably don't remember me is Coach Carr here never offered me a scholarship, on account of the fact I was born without any football talent.
I'm just a big fan. As you have probably realized since graduating, being a fan means you are profoundly affected by things you have no control over whatsoever. And because This is Michigan™ [audience adds the 'forgodsakes'] those things aren't just the football things, but also the scholarship things, and the community things.
As your loved ones have probably, carefully, asked when the Michigan things have threatened your control of your sanity: "Why does it matter so much?"
It's our particular weirdness to think we need a real answer to this. Everyone who went here, played here, or roots there [points toward a photo of the stadium] believes in this exceptionalism, this idea that being "acceptable" in any of these facets is never good enough. We can't all possibly excel at such a level all the time. It is an ideal, and that ideal is what we espouse when we reverentially say "Michigan."
We're here supporting the Fight for Life Foundation and Marlin Jackson because he is the embodiment of that ideal, excelling as an athlete, as a scholar, and in what he does to give back to his community.
When I was first checking out his foundation I thought "wow, Marlin Jackson, remember his first interception on the 7 yard line against Western when he was still wearing number 20 where he went up and we were all like "finally!"…
Yeah so the second thing was I showed this to my wife does this for a living—she's a child psychologist who works with at-risk children—and she was very impressed, said this is what these kids need and what a lot of their schools have increasingly been unable to provide.
They need access to art, and challenges to their creativity and analysis skills, to develop critical thinking. They need assistance to catch up to classmates in their studies, else all that other school is wasted in futility. They need opportunities to function in a team setting, to develop an appreciation for society and their own value to it.
These aren't just things; the scholars in child psychology say that after food and shelter they're the most important things.
Marlin saw that this is what these kids need to succeed as teammates, in the classroom, and as members of their communities, via his own experiences, and from the expertise of some of the top educational thinkers around Indianapolis whom he's brought in to develop his programming. He was put in a position to provide this because he made himself an exceptional athlete. And he knew he had to, because he went to Michigan, and THIS is what we're all about.
We can't always affect this, that, or the other thing. But with Marlin's leadership we can be contributors to the making-the-world-a-better-place-things, that is, the things that make THIS matter.
'Tis this season:
Saturday, December 7 is that annual charity event I help coordinate and MGoBlog readers have helped keep alive. Each year in early December we go to a couple of homeless shelters and throw the kids in there a giant Christmas party. There's photos with Santa, games, dancing, arts & crafts, nail painting, food, etc. Then while the young 'uns are distracted, their parents "shop" for gifts for them in a "gift store" filled with donated new toys and stuff, a goodly portion of which MGoReaders sent from Amazon. Then everyone comes together for pizza and cake and dancing.
We call it "Adopt a Shelter." There are two sites:
- Salvation Army's Denby Center (formerly the Booth Evangeline Center). A big party run by Mitch Albom's Time to Help organization (one I'm at). Key person is Rachel Williams.
- Genesis II House. A great women and children's shelter where Julie has kept the event going.
My involvement is closer with the former. For the latter Julie needs about 20 volunteers, each who bring gift donations. Hers is a bit more low-key. Email Julie if you want to volunteer there [UPDATE 12/2: They still need about 7 more volunteers). As for the Denby Center one, a bit more detail:
Stocking the Store
We need gifts.
Gift donations should be unwrapped, tasteful, and between $15-$20. Stuff that needs batteries should come with batteries. No guns, no swords, no violent comic books. Historically we tend to fall short with stuff for young moms.
AGE RANGE: The age of the children range from 9 months to 16 years old. Here's the numbers the shelter expected to have as of this week:
Age of Residents Boys Girls Age 0-2 10 11 Age 3-5 5 5 Age 6-10 5 10 Age 11-14 6 5 Age 15-17 - 6 Adults (Age 19-68) - 67
- SIZES: A variety of sizes ranging from newborn to 3X are needed. The larger sizes (2X and 3X are for girls.)
- TOYS: Age-appropriate toys and educational toys are needed.
- CLOTHES: Winter in Detroit. Also a reminder that all young adults and teens, no matter their station, care about style. It may seem counterintuitive but one really nice thing is more appreciated than a package of four just-the-thing things.
- TOILETRIES: All types of toiletries are needed, except NOTHING with ALCOHOL in it. Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Body Lotion, Women’s Deodorant, Body Wash, Soap, Washcloths, Towels.
How much stuff each family gets depends on how much stuff is donated. The remainder is always left to the shelters since they—as you can imagine—have a high turnover. Before March it's all given out.
For the last few years we've found putting up an Amazon Wish List makes it pretty easy—you're welcome to find things not on the list. Gifts are usually $15-$20. But you don't have to use that—for example Moe's is having a 30% off sale today.
Things they asked for specifically: Leap Frog/other learning games, Puzzles, Winter Clothes/Gear (children and women's M, L, and XL especially), Barbies, Super Hero Toys, Legos, Winter Coats, Toy Trucks, Baby Dolls, Adult Pajamas, Clothing and Accessories for Newborns, Baby Strollers for Parents, Brat Dolls, Pants/Leggings, Little People Toys, Board Games, Baby Alive Dolls, Toddler Toys, Books, Hand Soap, Deodorant, Tooth Brushes/Toothpaste, Lotion, Baby Wipes, Diapers, Feminine Products, Socks for Adult Women and Children, Underwear for Adult Women and Children
For donations to the Booth party, send them to Detroit Rescue Ministries (default address on that wish list link) at:
Time to Help Christmas Party
c/o Rachel Williams
150 West Stimson Street
Detroit, MI 48201
Poor Rachel's office is usually just completely stacked with boxes by Friday.
Join us on Saturday, December 7, 2013. One thing you might do is try to pump out 190 photos with Santa from two little portable printers (yes they'll both be working this year—sorry about that). Another is serve bagels. Or man the gift store. Or one lady reader last year came up with the idea of having the kids make picture frames for their Santa photos.
Detroit, MI. 48219
South of 8-mile between Evergreen and Lahser
Set up will begin at 8 a.m., and the party will be open to the residents beginning at 10 a.m. with an ending time of 1 p.m.
The party, which will provide breakfast and lunch to those in attendance, as well as an arts and craft station for children, a manicure and spa room for the mothers, a game center for teens, a store for the mothers to shop for their children and Santa and Mrs. Clause at the end, will need full volunteer support!
We are asking each volunteer to bring at least 1 gift to include in our gift shop. To register for the event go to http://atimetohelp.org/volunteer.htm (it's the only event on the calendar at the moment since the 2014 calendar isn't up yet).
I will have an updated list shortly for what we don't have confirmed, since this has changed since I checked in last. But I believe we still need:
- Breakfast confections (donuts, bagels, orange juice, coffee, fruit, etc.)
- Games for teen game center
- Ice cream and cake
- Arts and crafts materials
- Nail salon artists and nail polish
- Holiday decorations
A Time to Help Coordinator
313-993-4700 ext. 4715
Why Is a Charity on a Sports Blog?
Because I'm involved and I work here, dammit. But some backstory: this event used to be one of two put on by Volunteer Impact (I was a board member of that), which mostly existed to help service organizations find volunteers for their projects, but had a few signature events of its own. This was one of those events.
When we closed down VI, we lost the donor base for this and the other thing. It looked for a time like it would end, until 1) Mitch Albom, through his Time to Help organization, and longtime volunteer Julie Kroflich, stepped up to keep their two sites alive; and 2) Brian let me put up a post on it and MGoBloggers came through, stocking the store with donations and showing up to volunteer. Since then MGoBloggers' donations have been the engine that's kept it going.
The other event was "Hands on Detroit," a Detroit spring cleanup thing that the Ilitch Foundation took over. They meet at Comerica Park on a Saturday and go around making the city look nice for summer.
Can't I Just Give You Money?
Yeah, but give it to the organization putting the event not, not me. If you can't find something on the Amazon lists above, donate to S.A.Y. Detroit, the umbrella organization Time to Help, and specify in the comments that this is for the "Time to Help Christmas Party."
[Moved to Diaries to keep folks informed]
[Update 11/13: Todd Howard is confirmed]
[Update 11/7: Talked to some former players, who are going to try to come. A lot of guys coach so if the season's over (ie they lose in the playofffs) they'll make it.]
Q: What's the exact opposite of the East Lansing experience?
A: The Evanston experience.
Northwestern fans are eminently likeable, not that you really need to be alone on a purple sea since half the seats in Ryan are going to be filled with people in maize:
The above is the t-shirt that people going on the Northwestern trip with Sports Power Weekends will receive, along with a game ticket, hotel room for two nights, transportation, gift cards, and an MGoStore discount. For Friday night's entertainment, Jared of SPW has engaged the services of…US GUYS.
There's still some spots left on the SPW trip and I highly recommend you jump on that if you're considering going to the NW game—it gets down to just $350/person if you can get three of your friends to come along.
Since we'll be there anyway we'd like to also invite any readers from Chicago to come join us at:
Which is a huge (as in we get lots of space) Michigan bar. Details-like things:
When: Friday, November 15, from 6-9PM CST.
Where: Moe's Cantina River North 155 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL 60654, one block north of the Chicago River between LaSalle and N Wells. M: Merchandise Mart.
What: Q&A Session with Brian, and talking with people who don't need it explained that we had a true freshman guard starting against Max Bullough, i.e. other MGoBlog readers.
RSVP below, or show up.
Mike Murphy, Michigan's first head coach
Got word from The Bentley Library today that they'll be offering extended hours on November 8 (Friday before the Nebraska game), staying open from 5pm to 8 pm. Greg Kinney and Brian Williams will be giving a presentation on some of Michigan's football firsts showing some of the unique photos and documents available at the Bentley.
They'll also offer extending viewing hours for the "Harmon of Michigan" exhibit and at least one showing of the 1965 TV program "One Saturday Afternoon" celebrating the 25th anniversary of Harmon's extraordinary 1940 season featuring game footage and interviews with Harmon, Crisler and Forest Evashevski. They'll also show Yost's 1st contract, the original team #1 photo and other gems to highlight some unique aspects of Michigan's football history.