After 50 years, coming full circle…MSHOF is in good hands

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Fifty years ago next month, I covered my first football game for the Hattiesburg American. Brooklyn, now Forrest County AHS, played Lucedale, now George County. Some days I can't remember my phone number, but I can remember that score: Lucedale 12, Brooklyn 0. And I vividly remember the circumstances. At 13, I had no driver's license, no car. So my daddy drove me down to Lucedale and walked the sidelines with me, helping me keep the stats. He listened while I timidly interviewed the coaches afterward. He drove me back...

Pete Finney made New Orleans, press boxes better places

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  When I was a kid in Hattiesburg, we took both New Orleans newspapers at our home. Peter Finney, who died this morning at 88, wrote columns for the afternoon States Item. I could not wait to read his work. He was informative, he was funny. He was conversational. Reading him was almost like sitting down and having a chat. There were many reasons I became a sports writer and Finney was definitely one. Years later, after I joined the sports journalism fraternity, we became friends. We hit it off,...

Mossy Oak Golf Club, a golf masterpiece in the making…

WEST POINT — In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto's expedition passed through or near here, moving westward through what became known as the Black Prairie in search of gold and silver. He found the Mississippi River instead. DeSoto crossed the nearby Tombigbee River, which scarcely prepared him for the mighty Mississippi a few weeks later. George Bryan, the remarkably successful, West Point-born businessman, knows and appreciates the history of this place. His family came here in the 19th century, started a meat market that grew exponentially into Bryan Foods....

Here, we knew Favre first, before we could spell his name

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In Mississippi, we knew Brett Favre long before he started an NFL record 321 consecutive games, long before he threw 508 NFL touchdowns, and long before he threw for nearly 72,000 yards. We knew No. 4 before became a three-time NFL MVP, before he was an 11-time Pro Bowler, before he played through injuries that would have required hospital care for normal humans, and before he was generally recognized as the toughest hombre in sports. We knew The Gunslinger before he made a difficult recovery from painkiller addiction, before he...

Replay: Recalling 1999 Egg Bowl, Sirmones’ big moment

Former Mississippi State tight end C.J. Sirmones was shot and killed July 26 in Lawrence County, Tenn. State fans best remember Sirmones for his game-tying catch against Ole Miss in the 1999 Egg Bowl. A reader asked if I could post my column from the next day's newspaper. From the Nov. 26, 1999 Clarion-Ledger. STARKVILLE - You never count them out. Never. Not these Bulldogs. Down by 13 at Auburn with just over two minutes to play? No problem. Down by six to LSU with under two minutes left? No...

RIP: Billy Turner, journalist, Methodist preacher, friend

GRETNA, La. — At Billy Turner's Memorial Service today, preachers spoke eloquently of his passion for Jesus Christ, his family, the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Braves – in pretty much that order. They could also have talked about his passion for high school football, newspapers, music and good storytelling. Billy was passionate about all those, as well. Billy Turner was a sports journalist turned Methodist preacher. He poured his soul into both occupations. When he left newspapers, his writing ability and command of the language surely helped him...

“Wee Willie” Heidelburg was USM’s 143-pound giant

This is the last of a six-part series about the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2016. JACKSON — Forty-six years have passed since Wee Willie Heidelburg jitterbugged into the end zone twice to help 50-point underdog Southern Miss defeat undefeated Ole Miss and Archie Manning 30-14 on the then-brand new Astroturf at Oxford. Young football fans today could scarcely imagine the scene that day. The crowd was all-white. The cheerleaders were all-white. The bands were all-white. The coaching staffs were all white. The players were all Caucasian, as...

Larry Smith: He epitomized Dave Whitney’s Alcorn Braves

Off the basketball court, Larry Smith is one of the nicest, most polite, and unassuming guys you would ever want to meet. On the floor, when he played for the Alcorn State Braves and with three teams in the NBA, Smith took on a different personality, entirely. “Mr. Mean,” was the nickname given to Smith as a freshman at Alcorn State by then-Alcorn sports information director Gus Howard. “Gus said every time he looked at me on the court I never smiled,” Smith says. “He said I always had a...

Kay James, a Hall of Fame coach, won big, made it fun

This is the fourth in a series about the inductees into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The record shows that Kay James won 403 games in 22 seasons (1977-99) as women's basketball coach at Southern Miss. She ranks in the top 25 all-time nationally among NCAA Division I coaches in victories and guided the Lady Eagles to 10 post-season bids. But even those gaudy statistics do not tell the story of her impact on Southern Miss or women's basketball — and certainly not on her players....

Wesley Walls, a rugged, five-time Pro Bowler, heads to Hall

Former Ole Miss All-American Wesley Walls, one of the last, great-two-way players in college football history and a five-time Pro Bowler in the National Football League, goes into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night. “I am humbled,” Walls said. “When you think about all the great athletes who have played sports in Mississippi and realize you are recognized as one of the elite, it is truly humbling.” Walls, from Pontotoc, was a high school quarterback and fullback but became a highly productive defensive end and tight end at...