710 Classic Picks: Laettner’s shot and movie time with Dave Wyman
With the sports world at a standstill, we’re checking in with the cast of characters from 710 ESPN Seattle and 710Sports.com to find out what they’ve been watching or reading to get their sports fix, or what sports memories they have that other fans in the Seattle area (and beyond) might connect with.
Here’s what former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman, now a current co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore, has picked out.
Favorite sports movie: “North Dallas Forty”
This was a tough one because my sleeper pick, “Vision Quest,” a movie about a high school wrestler, was already snatched up by that little rat Danny O’Neil! I saw it in 1985 and it helped to inspire me to make the biggest comeback in my entire life – playing football again after a catastrophic knee injury that doctors described as “something we typically see in car accidents.” A lot of those same doctors told me I would never play football again. It’s an inspiring movie and has one of the better soundtracks of any movie I’ve ever seen. I played “Lunatic Fringe” before every game my senior year at Stanford on my Sony Walkman.
I called Danny a “rat” but when it comes to Dave Grosby, I’ll just say that he has excellent taste. He also loves “Slap Shot”. When Jessamyn McIntyre and I were getting to know each other back in 2009 when she moved out here from Bristol, Conn., we would text each other obscure movie lines and quiz each other on the movie. It became a contest that would sometimes last for hours. She had not seen “Slap Shot” so I told her A) That’s a crime, and B) That she could expect the movie in the mail within two days. There are so many great movie lines in that one, mostly lines that cannot be repeated. One of the things that sold me on the movie was that an A-list actor looked like he had fun playing a role in a B-movie at best. Paul Newman had been nominated and won enough awards by 1977, when the film was released, to turn down jobs like this one. It was clear to me that Newman (coach Reggie Dunlop) had a blast making that movie. Also, I tried to model my college and NFL football career after the Hanson brothers’ style of play.
So with “Vision Quest” and “Slap Shot” both off the board, my pick is “North Dallas Forty.”
The movie was adapted from a book written by a little-known Dallas Cowboys wide receiver named Peter Gent. The on-field scenes weren’t terribly authentic but that’s what you get when you have Mac Davis, a singer, and Nick Nolte, an actor, running pass routes. However, there were enough actual NFL players like John Matuszak, Dan Bunz and Louie Kelcher to give you a sampling of the violence that occurs on the line of scrimmage. The other thing that struck me is that a lot of the interaction between players and coaches in the locker room, training room and practice field was hauntingly familiar. The fights, the tension, the competition and the camaraderie on and off the field was very much in line with the experiences I had in the NFL. My favorite line in the movie came from O.W. Shaddock, an offensive lineman played by Matuszak: “Every time I call it a game you call it a business and every time I call it a business you call it a game.”
Best movie quote: “A League of Their Own”
Would you be shocked to hear that my favorite movie line from any sports movie ever came from a film about women’s baseball?
That’s right, “A League of Their Own” is one of those movies that every time that I scroll through my Tivo guide and see it, it’s gonna get watched. Speaking of “hauntingly familiar,” Tom Hanks gives a brief speech about how difficult it is to be a professional athlete that I had heard probably 57 times from the late, great Chuck Knox, my head coach with the Seahawks.
It occurs when Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) tells her manager Jimmy Dugan (Hanks) that playing baseball was just too difficult for her.
Hinson: “It just got too hard.”
Dugan: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The ‘hard’ is what makes it great.”
Chuck Knox had a slightly different version:
“If it was easy, there’d be so many suckers at the Kingdome trying to play on Sunday, you wouldn’t be able to find a parking spot.”
Favorite Game: Duke vs. Kentucky, 1992 Elite Eight
First of all, I need to explain that for whatever reason when I was playing for the Seahawks in the late 80s and early 90s, I was a huge Duke basketball fan during the offseason. Looking back, it makes me wonder exactly how one becomes a fan of a team that you don’t really have an attachment to. You build those attachments as time goes on, but what is it that makes you interested enough in the beginning that leads you to becoming a fan? Sometimes it’s arbitrary. A friend of mine and his brother are huge L.A. Rams fans even though they’ve lived their entire lives in the Northwest. He has passed that fandom down to his two sons. What was the initial impulse to become a Rams fan? The way he explains it is that when he and his brother were old enough to become interested in the NFL, his father sat them down and said, “Boys, we’re Rams fans.”
For me, I have always loved college basketball and the NCAA Tournament is one of my favorite sporting events, second only to the Super Bowl. How I built an attachment to the Duke players is that, well… they were really good. But also they reminded me of the guys that I played with at Stanford. They seemed to be smart kids from quality families who cared about school, each other and their sport. Grant Hill was the embodiment of the Duke kids. His father played in the NFL, he and his wife were attorneys, and they could be seen attending every Duke game. Hill was easy to love, but when you love Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner? That’s when you know you’re a fan. And I did love those guys.
On March 28, 1992, the Blue Devils were in the Elite Eight of the tournament facing Kentucky. I was dating my wife at this time but I made sure that I had the house to myself so I could pace up and down, scream and yell and possibly throw things. All three of those things happened when Kentucky guard Sean Woods hit a runner off the backboard to put the Wildcats up 103-102 in overtime with 2.1 seconds left. I had been pacing back and forth in front of the big screen clutching an NFL football, and when Woods made that shot, I spiked that football as hard as I could and it bounced all the way up to the 16-foot ceiling, leaving a huge dent which is probably still there.
But we all know what happens. Hill throws a perfect three-quarter court inbounds pass, Laettner calmly fakes to his right, turns to his left and drains it. The place goes wild, Thomas Hill holds his head in his hands with an expression that is half crying and half laughing, and I am screaming like a madman all by myself.
Little known fact about that game, and this is why people love Laettner, he scored 31 points and was 1 for 1 from 3, 10 for 10 from the floor and 10 for 10 from the free throw line.
Favorite Documentary: “A Dog’s Remarkable Journey to Find a Home” – from ESPN’s “SC Featured”
You will cry but not because it’s sad. You’ll cry because it’s really well done and very inspiring, even if you don’t have a dog.
Favorite Highlight Film: Jack Lambert
First, the runner-up. Dick Butkus was a revolutionary player because in my mind he was the first player that wasn’t just satisfied with making a tackle. He wanted his opponents to feel it. My linebacker coach with the Seattle Seahawks, Rusty Tillman, felt that way too because during training camp one year, our film session in the evening was entirely dedicated to watching Butkus highlights. He wanted to instill fear in his opponents and that’s part of winning the battle. An important distinction to make is that he wanted to hurt them, not injure them. That was part of the mindgame that he played with his opponents.
I chose this version of his highlight film because the accompanying “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” is pretty dark – like Butkus. Much like Kam Chancellor, his teammates used to say that he went “to a dark place” when the game started.
I read an article about Butkus that included the following quote: “Ideally, I would’ve walked off the field after my last game and dropped dead.” I can relate to that but it needs some explanation. I think what he meant was that playing football is all he wanted to do for a living. In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he got choked up when mentioning his wife and kids and has been married for over 50 years so it’s clear that he didn’t mean that literally. It just speaks to how much he loved playing football.
This version with the “screamo” in the background is a little grainy and maybe a little bit disturbing. Just the way I like it. It’s the way he liked it too.
My favorite highlight film and favorite player of all time, though, is Jack Lambert, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound bean pole of rage and mayhem. When I was 10 years old, I ordered a Jack Lambert poster from Sports Illustrated that hung on my wall through my senior year in college. At one point, I drew a quote bubble coming out of his mouth that reads “Don’t &%# with me!” My sweet mother got it framed for me and it still hangs in my garage.
Lambert was mean and nasty and tough as hell. One of his opponents once said of him, “He’s so mean he doesn’t even like himself.” Another said that his training regimen was often a couple of sets of squats, a couple of sets of bench press, followed by a beer and a cigarette.
“The Professor” John Clayton, who covered Lambert in Pittsburgh, likes to tell a story about Lambert when the team went on the road. “The players were forbidden from drinking in the bar at the team hotel so of course Lambert would sit at the hotel bar, front and center, and would drink and smoke. At one point a girl recognized him and approached him with the question ‘Mr. Lambert, what is your sign?’ Jack took a shot of whiskey, a puff of his cigarette and replied ‘Feces.’”
Lambert was a cartoonish caricature of what you would think an NFL linebacker was like. Like Butkus, he wanted to punish opposing ball carriers, and in spite of his size, he was stout at the point of attack. What impressed me the most was that he ended his career with 28 interceptions. By way of comparison, Ray Lewis had 31 interceptions but played six more years than Lambert.
I’m pretty sure that if a player in this day and age played the way Butkus and Lambert played, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would have them thrown in prison.
Favorite Sports Book: “If These Walls Could Talk” by Dave Wyman with Bob Condotta
Shameless and wanton self-promotion.
You can’t follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Dave Wyman on Twitter, but you can follow Bob, Dave and Moore.
More 710 classic sports picks
• Shannon Drayer’s connections to ‘All I saw was purple’ and ‘Field of Dreams’
• Brandon Gustafson on Wilson vs. Mahomes
• Jessamyn McIntyre on Shaq and an unforgettable NHL game
• Paul Gallant on Clowney’s insane HS highlights
• Groz on ‘Slap Shot’ and the 1986 Masters
• Tom Wassell’s way-back machine
• Jim Moore will set you straight on WWE wrestling
• Danny O’Neil on Ken Griffey Jr. and Bobby Knight
• Brent Stecker on the 1996 Sonics and “Little Big League”