Every-Thing Sports

NFL Week Four: Good, bad & ugly

Bill Wippert, buffalobills.com

Week four of the NFL season was a wild one. There were a few unexpected results of different varieties on different levels. This week marks the end of the first quarter of the NFL season. Here's some of my observations:

The Good

-Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones won his second straight start this week in a 24-3 win over division rival Redskins. "Danny Dimes" didn't have a great game (two picks and only one touchdown), but did enough to help his team win by going 23/31 for 225 yards, along with five runs for another 33 yards. Jones is showing some of the same promise he showed in the preseason. He might be as good as his draft position (#6 overall)...might is the key word here.

-Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes did it again. Every week he shows us something we haven't seen, rarely see, or a "wow" play. This time, he took off on a scramble, but stared down a ref mid-play, and still managed to run for a first down! While he didn't throw a touchdown pass this week (first time in his career), he led a comeback win in Detroit. Wonder what he'll do next week?

-I've been watching Bills running back Frank Gore for the better part of about 20 years now. He was a stud at the University of Miami. Sans his knee injuries there, we may have never heard of Willis McGahee or Clinton Portis. At 36, he ran for 109 yards in a loss against the Patriots, but moved himself into fourth place all-time behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders. Kudos to the ageless wonder. I've enjoyed watching him play. Hopefully, he gets a gold jacket whenever he decides to hang up his cleats.

The Bad

-The Ravens fell to 2-2 after giving up over 500 yards on defense for the second week in a row. The Browns also put up 40 points in Baltimore which hasn't happened in several years. The Ravens were leading the AFC North. Now they're tied with the team they just lost to and gave them a confidence boost.

-The Bills forced Tom Brady into one of the worst games of his career...and still lost. Brady was 18/39 for 150 yards, no touchdowns and threw an interception. Not only that, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen was knocked from the game by Jonathan Jones after a helmet to helmet hit. Disappointing way to lose your first game of the season to a division rival and defending champs.

-The Rams gave up 55 points in a home loss to the Bucs. Their quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball 68 times (the third highest total in NFL history) in the loss. The Bucs aren't an offensive juggernaut and the Rams' defense is thought to be better than this performance. This is why they play the games.

The Ugly

-Add Mitchell Trubisky to the list of quarterbacks that have been sidelined due to injuries this season. It was a non-throwing (left) shoulder dislocation and slight labrum tear, but it'll still keep him out for an undisclosed amount of time. It occurred on the sixth play from scrimmage. Backup Chase Daniel came in and secured a 16-6 win for the Bears over the Vikings.

-Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the season after his helmet to helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle. Burfict has been warned, and suspended/fined, several times previously for similar offenses, hence the heft of this suspension. Burfict is a guy that can't seem to get himself together, and it may have cost him his career. Doyle said he thinks the hit was worse than what it looked.

-Broncos outside linebacker/defensive end Bradley Chubb suffered a partially torn ACL in their loss to the Jags. He was injured on a play in which he was attempting to shed a block on a run to his side of the field. There was no contact, as he seemed to plant and barely twist is leg when the injury occurred. The fact that he came back and played after the injury is crazy!

With one fourth of the season down, we now have a clearer picture of the division and playoff races. There are several good surprise teams (Bills and Lions come to mind first), and several expected awful teams (Cards and Dolphins). With 25% of the season done, there's still a long way to go. Too early to tell who's a favorite to win it all, but we can certainly see who won't have an ice cream sandwich in a Houston July's chance. Looking forward to seeing the dust settle in a few more weeks.

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Photo via: Wiki Commons.

I met James Arthur Harris a pretty long time ago, it had to be before 2001, because I was at the gate waiting for his flight from New Orleans to land. I was supposed to pick him up, drive him to the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza on Loop 610, wait for him to change into his work clothes, and get him to the George R. Brown before 3 p.m.

I had never met him, but it would be easy to pick him out in the line of passengers filing off the plane. He'd be the big guy, 6 ft. 7 and weighing more than 400 pounds. Because our schedule was tight, I was hoping he wasn't already in his work clothes. You'll understand why.

When Harris worked, he wore a leopard loin cloth, bare feet, bright painted stars and moons on his huge pot belly, and white face paint under his scary witch doctor mask. He also carried a spear and shield.

James Harris, who died this week at age 70 from COVID-19 complications, performed in wrestling rings around the world as Kamala the Ugandan Giant. Or Kamala the Ugandan Head Hunter. This day, he came to Houston to sign autographs at TriStar Sports memorabilia shows.

"Kamala was a huge draw to our shows in the '90s. His character was mysterious and intriguing. Fans lined up to get his autograph and pose for photos with him. He was one of our biggest draws," said Tristar senior vice president Bobby Mintz.

I checked Harris into the Crowne Plaza and waited in the lobby while he went upstairs to take off his shoes and socks, paint stars and moons on his belly … and become Kamala the uncivilized cannibal from the jungles of deepest Africa.

You couldn't get away with this stereotyped character today. But this was then, and Kamala was one of the hottest performers in the wrestling world.

You should have seen the looks on people's faces when the elevator door opened, and out came Kamala, in full ring regalia. We got into my car and made it to the George R. Brown in time for his autograph session. The line already was 100 wrestling fans deep. I sat next to Kamala for three hours, muttering grunts and nonsense sounds because, of course, Kamala did not speak English.

James Harris was born and died in Mississippi. He broke into pro wrestling in 1978 under the name Sugar Bear Harris. He also wrestled as Ugly Bear Harris, The Mississippi Mauler and Bad News Harris.

It was Jerry Lawler, owner of Memphis independent wrestling scene in the early '80s, who gave Harris his new gimmick and name Kamala. He would be billed as Kamala the Ugandan Giant, former bodyguard to the brutal dictator Idi Amin. Lawler picked the name Kamala after the capital of Uganda. Actually, the capital of Uganda is Kampala. It doesn't matter.

Kamala was money, as they say, he put butts in seats. He used a devastating karate chop to opponents' heads and pinned them, 1-2-3. Soon he was hired by Mid-South Wrestling, where the circuit included the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston. In 1986, he became a main event wrestler for the WWE and headlined shows against Hulk Hogan coast-to-coast.

As we sat at the autograph show, one of my jobs was to assure young fans that Kamala was really a nice person, so don't be scared.

That night, I threw my one and only dinner party. I invited about 20 people to meet Kamala. I prepared a casual buffet, the main course was lasagna. I had two large trays, one with vegetable lasagna, one with sausage and ground beef.

The guests showed up, and Kamala posed for photos and signed autographs. He let my friends wear his witch doctor mask. He hoisted some of the guests and pretended he was body slamming them for their photos. He was the most gracious and gentle giant you could imagine. Until …

I was taking the lasagna trays out of the oven. I brought Kamala into the kitchen so he could eat first, and return to mingle with the guests. I asked him, which would you like, vegetable or meat lasagna? He said meat, and picked up the entire tray, sat at the kitchen table and ate the whole thing. I told the other guests, eat lots of garlic bread.

Kamala retired from wrestling full-time around 2000. He bought a truck and hauled gravel, asphalt and dirt from Mississippi across the southern U.S. If he knew a town had an independent wrestling show, he'd re-route his route so he could pick up extra money dusting off his Kamala persona for one night. That's how he made an appearance at the Texas All-Star Wrestling show in Humble in 2003.

Kamala fell into bad health with diabetes and high blood pressure. He had both legs amputated. Despite headlining wrestling shows around the world, Kamala never earned much money. In his later years, he made wood chairs near his home in Oxford, Mississippi. He also recorded an album, Kamala's Greatest Hits: Vol. 1, and wrote his autobiography, Kamala Speaks.

After the dinner party, which did not make Maxine Mesinger's society column in the Chronicle, something I'm still bitter about, I drove Kamala back to the Crowne Plaza. I told him, be in the lobby at 9 a.m., we'll get breakfast on our way to the airport. I asked him, what would you like for breakfast. Pancakes? Bacon and eggs? Fruit?

He said, and I'll never forget this, "When it comes to food, I isn't choicy."

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