Marvin West: Time to talk football

Marvin Westwestwords

Bruce Pearl sends greetings. My reaction is to call timeout. Basketball resumes Friday. Let’s talk football.


Combining what I learned from how little I played with how much I have seen and all the things I have heard, I do believe there are constructive values to football.

The game helps teach people to compete, to be disciplined, to work really hard and to get up when they get knocked down.

Players learn to lead and follow, the value of practice, to control what they can control and to recognize what is beyond their realm.

Football teaches the wonderful, awful difference in winning and losing. It reinforces the idea that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Many lessons learned in football are priceless. Some benefits are overlooked. The game teaches responsibility and certainly perseverance. Now and then, it reminds you that football is not forever. Somewhere along the line, players have to do something else.

All that leads to my list of former Tennessee Volunteers who did or are doing unusual things. Football was undoubtedly a factor.

Estes Kefauver came out of Madisonville a hundred years ago to be a lean lineman. He became a professional politician, was elected to Congress and missed becoming vice president of the United States by only a few million Dwight Eisenhower votes.

Tim Townes wasn’t big enough to do all he did for the Volunteers. He came forth from Bearden High to play safety in the early 1970s. He far exceeded expectations. He became a co-captain. After that, he earned three degrees and became an internationally famous medical researcher, head of the department of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Haskel Stanback, 1971-73 tailback from Kannapolis, N.C., became superintendent of the Virginia division of Norfolk Southern railroad.

Robbie Franklin, Holston High, Vol guard, became a very colorful (and successful) auctioneer.

Mack Gentry, Central High, Vol tackle, is a prominent tax attorney. He did backslide to football for a time and served a sentence as an SEC and NFL referee.

Steve Robinson, Vol tackle, 1968-70, is director emeritus of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Middle Tennessee.

Dr. David Allen, once part of a record-setting secondary, is the top urologist in Georgia. Nick Showalter, David Rudder and others became dentists. Vic Dingus serves the Methodist faith as a guide for new and developing churches.

After Tennessee and the NFL, Steve Kiner earned three degrees and became a mental health counselor, Mallon Faircloth a federal judge, Tim Irwin the Knox County juvenile court judge and Curt Watson a Navy and Fed Ex pilot.

Great receiver Larry Seivers owns a company that leases portable toilets. Don’t laugh. He never said much about it but he made regular trips to the bank.

David Moon

David Moon was a very good offensive lineman in the John Majors era until felled by two ACL surgeries. He managed to make a mark – he was on four bowl teams, was an all-SEC academic honoree and was named the top UT student-athlete as a senior. He received the Herman Hickman Scholarship Award for post-graduate study.

A decade later, he was an adjunct professor at the university.

He is far better known today as a financial adviser, founder and board chair of Moon Capital Management and an active community volunteer. He has served on the boards of numerous organizations.

David was pleasantly surprised by a note he received the other day. He has been elected to the Huntsville-Madison County, Ala., athletic hall of fame. He will be inducted on April 15.

His first reaction: “Everybody else must already be in.”

Condredge Holloway, Joey Kent and Robert Malone are.

Moon was born in Decatur, Ala., but grew up in the Huntsville area and was an all-state tackle. As a Volunteer, he was involved in some memorable games.

“I played in the game where we almost killed the Southern Cal horse.”

The horse circled the field after every Trojan touchdown. Southern Cal won, 43-7. The horse was exhausted.

David says, thank goodness, college wasn’t the best time of his life.

“I was poor, showered in a room with 90 guys, slept on a narrow bed and got screamed at almost every day.

“But it was the most important time of my life. It was when I met the people who set the examples that have served me for 35 years – long, late-night theological conversations with my roommate, Bill Mayo. Learning loyalty from teammate Glenn Streno and coach David Cutcliffe. Focus from Phillip Fulmer and intensity from John Majors.”

What I like best about David Moon is one of the books he wrote, “Thoughts Are Things: Daily readings for children and their families.”

It is a collection of devotionals aimed at elementary and middle school children and their families. It was named the top juvenile inspiration book of 2014. I can’t recite page and paragraph but I remember some highlights that I considered far beyond football:

  • Our mind is our most valuable asset.
  • A willingness to take action makes the difference between success and wishful thinking.
  • While I am responsible for me, service to others is among life’s greatest rewards.
  • God is a mystery that offers many gifts, chief among them wisdom.

Marvin West invites reader comments or questions. His address is marvinwest75@gmail.com

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