Saturday, June 27, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #235, June 29, 2009

After Further Review … Recently I had the pleasure of playing in the 28th Annual National Football League Alumni (NFLA) Charity Golf Classic at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. This year the Northern California Chapter honored Fred Biletnikoff, former Oakland Raiders receiver and MVP of Super Bowl XI, and Dwight Clark, former San Francisco 49ers receiver, who made “the catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship game.

I was fortunate to have officiated both of those contests. Although those games may be prominent in my history, what really stands out for me is the opportunity to be a member of the NFL Alumni and its charitable giving. The Northern California chapter, now in its 28th year, has raised more than $3 million for charity and CARING for Kids.

The NFL Alumni, with its 32 chapters, has consistently donated its time, inviting former NFL players who spend their own time and money, to help raise funds not only for CARING for Kids, but also for the support of the Dire Need Fund (DNF). The DNF is there for former players who need financial aid for medical or personal needs. All 32 chapters are manned by former players, who volunteer their time and efforts to raise funds for these charities. Together those 32 chapters have raised and contributed an average of $2.5 million every year, for the last 5 years. Equally important to its charitable giving is that these former players have devoted themselves to promoting the positive image of professional athletes. Their volunteerism is an example for all.

There is currently a need of many former NFL players for increased medical assistance due to injuries sustained as a player. Groups are forming to petition NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to provide funding for these players. While that is logical and necessary, it seems here that the petition needs to be directed to the 32 NFL Club OWNERS. That’s where the funds for helping needy players lie.

Well, ok, but what about the NFLPA – the National Football League Players Association? Yes, of course, they, too, need to step-up to help their own. Under new Executive Director De Smith, they plan to do just that. We’ll see. However, to ask current players to donate part of their salaries to help their former brethren is a hard sell. The power lies with the OWNERS! With a new (CBA) Collective Bargaining Agreement on the horizon, the owners could restructure some of those “out of control” bonuses and salaries and provide funds to help former players in need. They are the ones that made the NFL what it is today.

Will you support the efforts to help former NFL players in need due to injuries?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to

Friday, June 19, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #234, June 22, 2009

After Further Review … Whew! The NBA 2008-2009 season is finally over and the Lakers are the CHAMPS ! The interest in professional basketball was at an all-time high with the Orlando Magic in the finals for only the second time in their history.
Since Kevin Garnett (Celtics), “Melo” (Nuggets) and LeBron (Cavs) were not present, the focus was on Dwight (Magic) and, of course, Kobe of the Lakers. These mega-stars, plus many others, are obviously maintaining fan interest. However, several things still are troublesome with the NBA.

First and foremost, the game was designed, and played for years, as a T.E.A.M. sport. Today’s “stars” are certainly just as talented as some of those in the past, yet, when one cites the champions of the past, the team name is mentioned first. In today’s game the fans’ attention seems to focus on individual players – excellent as they may be -- but the T.E.A.M. takes second place. Seldom do you see an NBA team “move the ball around” to get the best open shot. Too often, it’s just cast-away, hope that it goes in and if it doesn’t, fall back and play defense. Should the NBA move the 3-point arc to 26 or 27 feet so that a team must work together for the best open shot?

Second, maybe they should raise the basket to 12 feet, which has been suggested in past years. When the rules changed some 30+ years ago to allow the “dunk,” the game of basketball became an “above-the-rim” game. Raise the basket and it becomes a different game.

Third, refereeing the NBA game is the most difficult of all officiating. TNT’s Charles Barkley (2006 NBA Hall of Famer) said, “It’s terrible officiating. They’ve been stinking the whole playoffs.” May I suggest, Sir Charles, that the officiating issues lie with the rules and the interpretation thereof, not with the officials. When you allow players to shuffle their size 15+ Nikes (called “traveling”) to balance themselves for a “slam dunk” or “carry” the ball (called “palming”) -- plus the allowance of aggressive physical contact -- you can easily see how the game has become harder to officiate. Finally, today’s players seem to want to draw attention more to their appearance than the stars of the past. Almost every NBA player feels it necessary to adorn himself with tattoos. Yes, I know tattoos are “in” and today’s younger generation loves them; but why does an NBA player need that kind of attention?

Will you watch the NBA for the individual ‘showmanship’ or the game of basketball to be played as a T.E.A.M. sport?

Friday, June 12, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #-233, June 15 2009

After Further Review … Next Sunday is Father’s Day – a day when sons and daughters pause in their daily rushing- through-life to pay tribute (giving a Hallmark card of “thanks”?) to their Dads. The amount of time I had being in the same home as my children when they were growing up pales to the amount of time since then that we have not.

Yet as a Father, the love, respect and caring for each of my children has become stronger. Distance and time must NEVER diminish that love. The respect, love and gratitude I have for my father, who’s been gone now 44 years, also has not lessened. The joy of Father’s Day is more than son or daughter to Father, but equally Father to his children. That’s why recalling Gene’s story is a special Father’s Day tribute:

Gene’s son was a scrawny, gangly kid who couldn’t get the ball up to the basket, yet he continued to try over and over, even after dark. Add to this his fear of most everything – elevators, flying, and of course, failure. Even so, he left home to go to a college 800 miles from his small mid-western home to pursue his basketball dream. How could this gaunt of a kid, even though he had some success in his town, hope to make the team in this basketball powerhouse of a college? The athletes recruited to play at this school are in the top 1-2% in the nation. Gene was proud, but aghast at his son’s courage.

The measure of a man is not that he gets knocked down, but how he gets back up. Gene’s son was not an exception to that. He steeled his body by performing all the menial, and meaningful, chores a Father would want of a son. He learned dignity and showed class in resisting the temptation to criticize his teammates, as well as resisting the opportunity to leave school early, staying for his 4th year. He said, “Dad, when I graduate, I’ll have something that others (who left college early to go to the pros) don’t – a college degree!” Gene could not have been prouder.

The spindly kid who left Poplar Bluff, Missouri, gateway to the Ozarks, has flown more miles than (perhaps) all the citizens of his home town, ridden in elevators higher than any in that town, and graduated last month from the University of North Carolina as a 4-time NCAA All-American. His name - Tyler Hansborough.

Will you cherish the love of your parent/child relationship regardless of time and distance?

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street # 231, June 1, 2009

After Further Review … On May 2, 2009, the game of football lost a great player in Jack Kemp, when he succumbed to cancer. Throughout his football playing days at Fairfax High School and Occidental College (both in Los Angeles), to the newly-founded American Football League (1960) with the LA/SD Chargers, and then to the Buffalo Bills, where he quarterbacked the Bills to AFC Championships in 1964 and 1965, Jack was a leader.

Much more than just an All-Pro Quarterback, Jack was a Statesman. He served as a Congressman for 18 years, representing Western New York; was appointed HUD Secretary by President G.H.W. Bush, and was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee as Bob Dole’s running mate in 1988. However, Kemp accomplished much more than those titles indicate.

Jack was a personal friend as well as an NFL colleague, so when you read the following story (published in Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul), you will see the admiration so many of us had for his leadership:

In 1961, when he was quarterback and captain of the San Diego Chargers, they were scheduled to play the Oilers in Houston for the AFC Championships. Traditionally, the night before the game, Coach Sid Gilman, took the entire team to a movie. Shortly after Jack sat down in the theatre, he noticed that Paul Lowe, Ernie Wright, Ernie Ladd and Charlie McNeil, all African-Americans, were missing. Jack asked around and discovered they had been told to sit in the “blacks only” balcony. When he reported this to coach Gilman, Jack insisted they leave. And so they did -- walking out as a team in a silent, powerful demonstration of their belief in equality. Jack believed they were a T.E.A.M. both on and off the field.

Of even more impact was when Kemp was to play in the 1965 AFC All-Star game in New Orleans, only to find that his black teammates were denied taxi and restaurant service. Captain Kemp led a discussion to boycott New Orleans with the result of moving that All-Star game to another city. The first boycott of a city by any professional sports team! Jack often said, “We don’t tolerate bigotry on the field and it has no place off the field as well.”

Being elected to the U.S. Congress for 9 consecutive terms is just one of Kemp’s many accomplishments. However, he was prepared for it when he said, “Pro football gave me a good sense of perspective to enter politics. I have already been booed, cheered, cut, sold, traded and hung in effigy.” I will miss Jack Kemp.

Will you step up and do something for others as Jack Kemp did?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to