BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, August 27, 2020.
I usually don’t drift from local sports here. But I just ask this. Listen. And think. Is what’s happening in Wisconsin okay? No. And now we have a wholesale NBA players boycott. This statement has stuck with me all summer. “Sports are like the reward of a functional society.” Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle said that on 4th of July weekend, a very muted time.
We have fallen into dysfunction. Doolittle was talking about the coronavirus then. But he could just as easily have been talking about America’s difficulty in dealing with racial injustice. What is it like to wake up every day as a Black person in our society? Former Boise State quarterback Jaylon Henderson posed this question in a KTIK interview a couple months ago. In a very positive way. He lives in Boise, and he loves it here. He just wants you to stop, listen and think.
GO-TIME FOR LENO
Former Boise State star Charles Leno Jr. is going into his sixth season as starting left tackle for the Chicago Bears and seventh overall in the NFL, and this one is pivotal. It’s bounce-back time for Leno, whose 2018 Pro Bowl season was followed by some struggles last year. Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times points out that Leno was penalized 13 times last season—nearly double his 2018 total of seven. His Pro Football Focus rating plummeted from 78.7 to to 58.6.
“I just got to raise the level of my play, focus more on doing my job better,” Leno said. “I’m gonna do a tremendously better job at this (his season). I already know it." He has started 78 consecutive games, including the playoffs, missing just six offensive snaps in that span. Leno, who’s constructed a solid career after being drafted in the seventh round by the Bears in 2014, turns 29 on October 9. He’s got time. Leno’s trying to discourage the Bears from seeing the need to rebuild at left tackle.
MORGAN’S BACK IN PURPLE
College of Idaho’s brilliant men’s basketball run started with the arrival of coach Scott Garson in 2013. His first recruit for the Coyotes was Manny Morgan, an electric point guard. Current coach Colby Blaine arrived in Caldwell the following year as a Garson assistant. Blaine and Morgan meshed nicely for three seasons, and Morgan left with 134 career games played, tied for the school record, along with 560 assists and 212 steals, both top-five marks. Morgan has been a graduate assistant the past three years at Western Oregon, and now he’s reunited with the Yotes as a Blaine assistant. Good get.
A SEARCH FOR HOME TURF
Multiple reports say that, because all Boise State athletic facilities are closed to the public, Dona Larsen Park will not be available to high school teams in the Boise School District anytime soon. That means Boise, Borah, Capital and Timberline will have to find someplace else to play—when they’re allowed to play.
The first scheduled game, Timberline-Kuna, isn’t for another two weeks, so maybe something will give. I propose the field at East Junior High, with its field turf. There’s very little seating, but if a limited number of fans are allowed to attend, who cares? They could truck in some extra bleachers and call it good.
CLOUD IN ALBUQUERQUE
If the New Mexico football program seemed a bit dysfunctional the past couple of years, this certainly reinforces that thinking. The family of a Lobos player who took his own life last November, Nahje Flowers, has filed a civil suit against the university, former coach Bob Davie and the NCAA. It alleges that Flowers was pressed to play in a game at Nevada last November despite seeing a doctor after dealing with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide. Flowers was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound three days later. "There was no protocol in place, or if there was, it was ignored, which makes it worse," attorney Bob Hilliard said. "The doctor was concerned enough to say you shouldn't play but that was overruled because there was a game coming up." Unbelievably sad.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…August 27, 1982:
Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A’s, who got his professional start in Boise six years earlier, steals four bases in a 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and breaks Lou Brock’s major league single-season record of 118 steals (set in 1974). That brought Henderson’s season total to 122 in 127 games—he’d end up with 130. Henderson is also baseball’s career leader, with 1,406 stolen bases amassed over 25 seasons with nine different teams.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)
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