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by Archives September 13, 2006

It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. Inflatable rainbows, an octopus and a jumping ring were on the West side of the complex. The stands were quiet but were filling up. It was the dawn of another football season at Concordia University.

Last season, one that was marred by uncooperating weather during home games, is forgotten. Everyone is in a good mood at the field at Loyola Campus. The Stingers even had a 13-10 halftime lead. Then it started to rain. But when the Spirit Team came off the field, it stopped. Perhaps their performance was a rain dance. The weather stayed dry for the rest of the game, and the Stingers came away with the win.

A lucky student made off with tuition and books paid for the fall semester, the 2006 Concordia Sports Hall of Fame inductees were introduced in front of the homecoming crowd, and the first weekend of the school year had started. It was a Friday night and the 4,009 fans in attendance loved every minute of it. well except the hundred or so Sherbrooke faithful. That made for a very uncomfortable three-hour ride home. Especially when you consider they had to fit that huge flag into one of their cars or busses or whatever. A fun time was had by all. The Sherbrooke fans were treated with respect and showed the celebratory Stinger fans the same. It was the perfect day and the perfect way to kick off the 2006 football season at Concordia.

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It is still an issue of black and white?

The year was 1948. It was three years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier. It is the year when the National Football League changed forever. It started the shift that is becoming more and more apparent today: football is replacing baseball as America’s game.

It is such a major event, and yet I bet that no one can name what happened, or who caused it. It is something that even I, a pretty big sports geek, knew nothing of until I read about it.

His name is Paul “Tank” Younger, a 6-foot-2, 220 pound running back. As a junior, he ran for 1,207 yards and 18 touchdowns and threw 11 touchdown passes and was already regarded as the best player in black college football.

Before I go any further, I want you to know that he wasn’t the Jackie Robinson of football. Football already had a

handful of African-Americans playing in the league (they were integrated even earlier than in baseball).

Younger was recruited by the Los Angeles Rams. That made him the first player from an all-African American school to be signed to a contract, or even just be invited to training camp. The others came from big NCAA schools.

His coach from Grambling College, Eddie Robinson, took him aside after he signed the contract. It led to this exchange, taken from America’s Game: The Epic Story of how Pro Football captured a Nation by Michael MacCambridge.

“You have to make the club. Tank, if you go up there and you don’t make it, there’s no telling how long it’ll be before someone else gets a chance. They’ll be able to say, ‘We took the best you had to offer, and he wasn’t good enough.”

Younger did make the team, and made a pretty career for himself in the NFL. He was the first African-American to make the All-Star game, making it four times (1951, 1952, 1953, and 1955). He was also the first African-American assistant general manager, a position he took in 1975.

Younger played 112 games in the NFL, running for 3640 yards on 770 carries and catching 100 balls for 1167 yards over his career. He found the end zone 35 times, 34 times by running the ball. He played for the Rams and for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his final season, 1958.

In case you’re wondering, he is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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What in the name of DiPietro?

The hockey world was shocked yesterday by another move made by the New York Islanders.

They signed 25-year-old goaltender Rick DiPietro to a FIFTEEN YEAR(!), $67.5 million contract.

While some don’t understand the move, I have never understood something more clearly.

The way I see it, the Islanders just signed their new general manager.

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As if it were yesterday.

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I still remember how I heard the news, and it feels like it was yesterday. My thoughts are with all of those who perished or who lost someone in the attacks or the aftermath.

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