I think back to my first year covering local football. It was Robert Thomas' senior season in Imperial and I attended almost every Tiger game. Coach Swearingen was always warm and friendly toward me and always ready to help the newspaper as best as he could. I also remember the last game of that fine season. Imperial took on Marian Catholic in a monsoon-like rain in Chula Vista. It was obvious from the beginning of the game that despite the fact the Tigers had Robert Thomas, they were simply overmatched.
Following a gutsy effort, but ultimate loss by Imperial, I made my way out of the press box and on to the field to talk to Coach. I'll be honest and tell you that I was actually expecting him to be a bit upset, but when I got down there he actually seemed happy, happy with the way his team had played, happy the players had given it their all, happy to have just played football.
One other thing happened then that I will always remember about Coach Swearingen. As I was talking to him, one of his senior players walked up with his mother and as I watched both the boy and his mother cried as they thanked him for coaching that boy.
So I guess I've said my piece. Others may choose to disagree and that's fine. All I know is that I have spent the majority of my life around coaches, football, basketball and others and Coach Swearingen ranks up there with the best of them. He reminds me of the coaches I had in Texas and Oregon and believe me, that's a compliment. I guess in closing I would just say that if I ever had a son I would be proud to let him play for a team coached by Mike Swearingen.
Now on to the list.
Every year around these parts I like to drop a little list on all of you. Let's face it, it's a bit of a silly list, but it's a list all the same and as far as lists go, I think it's a pretty good one. So here you have it, once again, the top 10 things we are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Remember, friends and family are not on this list. So please, no more angry phone calls.
10. Anna Kournikova every time she steps on the tennis court. (This annual staple of the top spot on the list had to fall considering I got married and that Miss Kournikova hardly every plays tennis anymore.)
9. Magnum P.I. reruns on A&E (channel 23) each morning at 11 a.m. and each night at 5 p.m. Damn, that's got to be one of the greatest shows ever!
8. The fact that Texas will soon have a pro football team worth rooting for. Screw the Cowboys. You can sign me up right now as a charter member of the Houston Texans fan club. And just wait and see: I give the team five years before we raise high that Lombardi trophy.
7. The return of Michael Jordan. Like it or not, this has certainly made the NBA more interesting.
6. My videotape of the 1987 Texas A&M-Texas game. No matter how down I'm feeling, watching Bucky Richardson save the Aggies' day always makes me feel better.
5. The high school football playoffs. I think that I'm looking forward to Friday night just as much as the local players and coaches. I have a good feeling about tonight's games as far as local schools go.
4. My mom's stuffing. (This one fell a bit also as I'll probably be eating it as a leftover.)
3. The impending sale of the Boston Red Sox. Please, I'll take anything to get rid of Dan Duquette and Joe Kerrigan.
2. The fact that Texas A&M is probably beating the hell out of Texas as you read this column.
And the No. 1 thing I'm thankful for this year is that next year I will be at that Texas A&M-Texas game and that's certainly something that I'll be thankful for a long time.
That's it. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and if you're reading this sometime before 8 a.m., then turn you television to channel 2 and take a look at the Fightin' Texas Aggie football team. Whether they win or lose, notice how they leave their hearts on the field against the much more talented Texas team and realize that's the way football should be played.