Monday, June 25, 2007

BearBacker Voices: Northern Lights

[Today we bring you another lecture in our celebrated BearBacker Voices Summer Lecture Series. Past lecturers have included BDP, Swanburg, The Razor, and Dr. W.C. Brann Flake. Curtis Edmonds is a lawyer, writer and blogger. The world is his canvass and nothing of significance escapes his keen eye. A Baylor alumni, Curtis now lives and works in New Jersey, doing Lord knows what. Though he is technically still on our payroll, his work for BearMeat has slowed to a crawl. We suspect he devotes the majority of his energies to his blog, Northbound. While Curtis's work has been published with the National Review, he has never had this prestigious of a forum in which to share his views. So, without further ado, here is his submission. Enjoy! - Eds.]

It was April 1990, and the Cincinnati Bengals were on the clock. The team’s brain trust thought, considered, ruminated, and – wait a second, let me check the thesaurus – pondered their choice. In due course, they sent the name of James Francis, linebacker, up to the Commissioner. And Dallas Cowboys fans like me cursed the Bengals, cursed them for taking Francis out from under the very nose of Jimmy Johnson. Francis was a can’t-miss prospect, a stud linebacker in an era where linebackers were the up-and-coming superstars of the defense. And – this was the hardest part – he was from the B. (We just called it “Baylor” back then, which was the style at the time.)

The Cowboys would recover; they’d take an unheralded underclassman RB from Florida later in that round, somebody named Smith. But the B wouldn’t fare so well. Francis (who would play nine years for the Bengals and the Hated Redskins) was the last Baylor player taken in the top fifteen. Only one other B gridder, stalwart lineman Daryl Gardener, would go in the first round in the years since 1990. The stylishly-named LaCurtis Jones went in that draft too, in the fourth round, and the Ravens would take Gary Baxter in the second round in 2001. Those are the high spots in Baylor’s post-Teaff NFL draft history, which is about as pretty as the sixth-runner-up for Homecoming Queen at Plainview High.

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Sweet, Sweet Daniel. We Hardly Knew Ye.

2007 would be something of an improvement. Daniel Sepulveda (two-time Ray Guy Award winner, unanimous consensus first-team All-American, hero of American youth) would go in the fourth round, albeit to the Hated Steelers. And cornerback C.J. Wilson would go the Mildly Despised Carolina Panthers in the seventh round. This is a positive step, undeniably.

But one couldn’t help noticing that Shawn Bell was left out. True, the draft is always a crapshoot (see Quinn, Brady, public humiliation of). And it’s true that Bell had torn his ACL playing against the Agriculturalists, and the quarterback talent this year was deep – but you’d think that some team, somewhere, could use a bit of the B on their squad. (Maybe everywhere except Atlanta; you wouldn’t want to see a Michael Vick understudy who knew the ins and outs of the live bear-cub market.) Bell wasn’t drafted, and didn’t sign as a free agent, and that generally means you start thinking about grad school or learning how to sell real estate.

But Bell bounced back. (Try saying that three times fast.) He ended up signing with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. Now, the CFL is generally the place where quarterbacks go to die (exemplia gratia: former Cougar High QB Andre Ware was as big a bust with the B.C. Lions as he was with the Detroit Lions). And if the CFL was Texas college football, the Lions would be the local version of the UTEP Miners – undistinguished and out of the way. (The CFL, historically, is dominated by the Toronto Argonauts – the local version of the Texas Longhorns -- and the Edmonton Eskimos, located in the big, flat, empty Agriculturalist plains of Alberta.)

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

But the Lions did win the Grey Cup last year, and – let’s face it – living in Vancouver has, shall we say, certain advantages over living in Baylor. To wit:

Average Kickoff Temperature at Home Opener:

Vancouver: 72 degrees under the B.C. Place dome.

Waco: 97 degrees on the Floyd Casey turf.

Annual Summertime Event:

Vancouver: The “Celebration of Light” international fireworks competition, with fireworks representatives from different countries vying for the title.

Waco: The Big XII media tour, where GuyMo explains how the B is going to be competitive (this time).

Celebrated Historical District:

Vancouver: The Gaslight District, featuring restaurants, antique shops, and designer fashions.

Waco: Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village, featuring cotton gin and barber shop.

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In The Movies

Vancouver: Over 200 movies filming each year, most recently the Fantastic Four sequel, featuring the delectable Jessica Alba in spandex.

Waco: There was that Ted Nugent reality series.

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WacoTrib's Opinion Page Dynamo

Food-Related Mecca:

Vancouver: The open-air farmer’s market on Granville Island, adjacent to many craft shops, and featuring fresh seafood, vegetables, and a really nice coconut pie.

Waco: Valley Mills Drive, all the way from Poppa Rollo’s to Pancho’s.

Trans-Pacific Diversity:

Vancouver: A hub for Asian culture, with a vibrant Chinatown and several five-star dim-sum palaces.

Waco: Um… Ly-Le is still open, right? Or did the health inspectors finally get it?

Discovered Here:

Vancouver: Pamela Anderson.

Waco: Cindy Sheehan.

Law Enforcement:

Vancouver: According to Wikipedia – and I’m just including this for information purposes and not for tourism purposes – “Vancouver police generally do not arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana.”

Waco: Try going 50 in a 45 in Beverly Hills while smoking a spliff and see how far you get.


Vancouver: Hundreds of downtown high-rise apartment buildings with glittering green windows.

Waco: (see below)

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The Symbol of Our Freedom


Vancouver: The vibrant downtown is a frequent stop for Alaska-bound cruise ships.

Waco: The Fifth Street Texaco is a frequent stop for people needing to get gas and Moon Pies on the way to the outlet mall in Hillsboro.

Big Event in 1986:

Vancouver: The 1986 World’s Fair, the most successful such fair in history, with 50 million visitors looking at pavilions from 54 nations.

Waco: Finally got a Fuddrucker’s.

Big Plans for 2010:

Vancouver: The XXI Olympic Winter Games, complete with luge, bobsled, and visitors from every nation asking what the hell is up with the outfits that the men’s figure skaters are wearing.

Waco: Just two years away from somebody – anybody – noticing that Baylor has become a lot like Notre Dame.

So, pardon me for saying so, but I think that Shawn Bell is going to be fine, just fine in Vancouver – even if he is just holding the clipboard for the Grey Cup champions. Nicely played, Mr. Bell. Nicely played. I salute you.

. . . . at least right up until the point that you get cut, that is. Faced with the prospect of a) getting out of the greater Waco area and b) playing quarterback for a professional football team and c) living in one of the world's great cities, Shawn Bell is instead likely to spend his fall coaching JV for the China Spring Cougars. Not to mention making this entire convoluted blog post as irrelevant as the debate about whether to put the Bush Library in the middle of campus or out on the Brazos. It's just part of following the B.

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  • Edmonds, esq.:

    You have nobly soldiered on in spite of Bell losing his spot. Your lecture is one for the ages.

    Thank you, sir. You have done these here BearMeats mighty proud,


    By Blogger Red Andrews, at 4:13 PM  

  • Bell got cut. Proving once again that you can take the QB out of the B, but you can't take the B out of a QB.

    By Blogger Poseur, at 4:32 PM  

  • That comment needs a nomination for Meatiest comment of the Month. Well-played, Poseur. You bring honor to your Louisiana brethern.

    By Blogger Red Andrews, at 5:45 PM  

  • Two comments.

    1. I know that Bell got cut. I didn't know that when I started the column, though, a week and a half ago, and why waste all that choice material? (You ought to see my piece on how the 2006 midterms would turn out for the Republicans.)

    2. Payroll? There's a payroll attached to this thing? I just assumed it was a hippie-dippie anarcho-syndicalist commune. More fool me.

    By Blogger Curtis, at 6:10 PM  

  • Curtis:

    Yes, you are "on payroll" but we mistakenly reported that you were an "undocumented worker" (as is half of our editorial staff) to the IRS, and now "la migra" (INS) has been making many inquiries into your citizenship status. No worries, though. Once your pay is no longer suspended by the federal government, we will cut you a check for $87, which includes your share of the tip jar.

    Thanks again.

    By Blogger Red Andrews, at 6:13 PM  

  • I was just on the BC Lion's website, and i didn't see anything about Bell getting cut. His player bio said nothing of the sort as well as the most recent transactions of the team. Where did you learn of this?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:09 PM  

  • WacoTrib, dear enterprising, anonymous reader. Your internet skills are about equal to our Technology Editor's, who hasn't learned to search using Google, or how to type.

    BC Lions let Bell go, could bring him back
    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    By Jerry Hill

    Tribune-Herald assistant sports editor

    When Shawn Bell arrived in Vancouver last month, he knew the odds were stacked against him.

    British Columbia, the defending Grey Cup champion, has the deepest, most talented trio of quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League.

    But as Baylor offensive coordinator Lee Hays put it: “I know he’s not afraid of a challenge. It would have been real easy for him to go some place else.”

    As expected, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound quarterback got his walking papers from the Lions on Wednesday, released on the eve of their final preseason game. But they also left the door open.

    If Bell’s surgically repaired right knee fully recovers, the Lions plan to bring him back in September when league rosters are expanded.

    “From everything they tell me, they definitely see me in their future,” said Bell, who threw for 5,666 yards in a Baylor career that ended three games early when he tore the ACL in his right knee in a 31-21 loss to Texas A&M.

    By Blogger Red Andrews, at 7:16 PM  

  • Try going 15 in a 30 down E. Waco Drive while smoking a fat blunt dipped in embalming fluid and laying down some DJ Screw tracks. Yeah, that's living Waco.

    By Blogger Pat Neffistopheles, at 8:03 AM  

  • I love me some Fuddruckers. Game. Set. Match - Waco.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:59 PM  

  • RuddFuckers is the only way to roll.

    Suggestion: order a double FuddRucker, gobble it up, light up fat blunt dipped in embalming fluid and then head down to Ninfa's. $5 says you won't make it there alive.

    By Blogger Red Andrews, at 4:56 PM  

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