Luv Ya Blue era Oilers, other former athletes give back to the community

Curley Culp is still involved in the community. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Taste Of The NFL

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Sometimes things just work out perfectly.

Take it from Dan Pastorini. One minute the heavy rain preceding Monday’s cold front was threatening to interrupt his annual charity golf tournament at Quail Valley. The next, the rain let up and he was rounding everyone up and getting them into their golf carts.

“We just want to give everybody the experience of playing in Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship in1978 so they can appreciate what we went through,’’ he said to some players bundled up for a windy round.

Out on the covered patio, Elvin Bethea and Curley Culp, a pair of Luv Ya Blue’s Pro Football Hall of Famers, chuckled. “I don’t think it’s Pittsburgh,’’ Culp said, ‘’but it is refreshing.’’

The Oilers had back-to-back AFC title games at Three Rivers, both played in freezing temperatures and the second one was known for Mike Renfro’s touchdown-that-wasn’t.

Those were just a few of the tales being tossed around that morning as Pastorini’s event kicked off two weeks of charity golf events in Houston featuring former NFL players.

Pastorini’s event is in its eighth year and has raised approximately $750,000 for Be An Angel. He’s been associated with the charity, which improves the quality of life for children with multiple disabilities or profound deafness by providing needed adaptive equipment and select services, for more than 30 years and was recently named chairman of the board.

“We’ve got a lot of good things happening in the future and the main thing is helping these kids,’’ Pastorini said. “It’s heartwarming. To see what we’ve done for these families is quite an experience and the reason why we do it . . . And seeing the work they do, it’s a no-brainer.’’

Next Monday, the focus turns to Champions Golf Club where Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware and legendary Chronicle NFL writer John McClain will co-host the Gridiron Legends Golf presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors which benefits DePelchin Children’s Center, the official charity of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl.

“This is what it’s all about – giving back,’’ said Bethea, who plays in about 18 charity events each year. “We’re normal, everyday people. We have issues just like everyone else and we’re happy to be out here to do this and do what we can make everybody’s life a little better than before.’’

Billy “White Shoes’’ Johnson agreed.

“I think everyone – to a man – has someone who has influenced us to get where we are and it’s only right for us to give back,’’ he said. “We’re  talking about being role models and part of that is being benevolent.’’

All of the players have their own charitable efforts, but they all come together for weekends like these two to help each other. Pastorini’s event included a poker tournament, a dinner and silent auction, capped off by Monday’s golf event. Players who turned out included Culp, Bethea, Johnson, Mike Reinfeldt, Mike Renfro, Vernon Perry and Kenny Houston.

“NFL players have always given back,’’ Pastorini said. “I’m grateful for them to come here and join us every year. They see the need and see what it does for the kids.’’

Ware agrees. He and McClain are in their second year as hosts of the Gridiron event. Ware will be joined by – to name a few --  Pastorini, 2018 HOF inductee Robert Brazile, Don Trull, Haywood Jeffries, Kenneth Sims, Jacob Green, seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, Larry Dierker and Charles Alexander.

“We’re so appreciative of all the guys who come out and support us,’’ Ware said. “We’ve all got a lot of things going on, but we help each other. We’re kind of one of those brotherhoods.’’

Ware plans to increase his work with DePelchin, which was founded in 1892 and takes care of the most vulnerable children and families.

“It has been a humbling experience to see the work they do there,’’ Ware said. “You just realize you’re fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of things in your life and you hope to be in a position to influence some young people outside your world. And you can give them something to strive for.’

All the players enjoy it because it’s a chance to catch up with each other and spin a few tales. Ware even caught with a distant relative -- former Baylor and 1985 Super Bowl champ Dennis Gentry, who is in Monday’s field too.

“To be able to come out meet new friends and fraternize with old brothers . . . it’s great,’’ Johnson said. “Life owes us nothing. I’m fortunate and to whom much is given, much is expected.

“To be able to give and be in a position to help each other? We are our brother’s keepers. We are called to give back. Just to even make people smile.’’

There’s always one more story, one more flashback to recall, he said. And they can even laugh a little about those two games in Pittsburgh when the Luv Ya Blue Oilers tried to kick in that Super Bowl door and couldn’t.

“I think,’’ Johnson said, “they had a steel door, instead of a steel curtain.’’


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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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