WOODY DURHAM ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
The venerable voice of UNC athletics, Woody Durham, announced his retirement last night in Chapel Hill.
My take: This is probably going to shock some of y’all — but I love Woody Durham (as was alluded to a couple of years ago). In that link, I mentioned I’d share my favorite Woody story … so here goes.
When I was growing up in Wilkes County (in northwest N.C.), my parents weren’t exactly the biggest sports fans. What that meant was that we didn’t watch a lot of sports on TV; instead, I had a trusty little transistor radio that had the one ear bud.
While I hated Carolina sports — and even Woody Durham at the time — I could listen to practically every Tar Heel game (along with the other Big 4 and ACC games) on my little radio at night. I listened to Carolina’s national championship game on that radio in 1982 and dozens of other UNC basketball games from 1979 to 1985 or so.
Fast-forward about a decade. As a sports stringer/free-lancer for the Gaston Gazette in 1994, I was given the opportunity to help cover the ACC Tournament in Charlotte. While I had covered a ton of prep and college games to that point, I had never covered an ACC Tournament.
And I was a nervous wreck. I walked into the Charlotte Coliseum, collected my credential and went to the media room. I didn’t know where to go, what to do or even how to get to press row.
After I found my bearings (and the little paper that showed me where my seat was on press row), I went out into the main arena and found my seat. As I was setting up my 40-pound laptop and trying to look like I was supposed to be there, I heard a voice that made me stop breathing.
Sitting right in front of me was Woody Durham. The man I had grown up with in my ear was just 3 feet in front of me. It was like I had my own personal play-by-play announcer — the man I had grown up listening to — right in front of me.
He turned around, said something like, “How are you doing, young man,” (although I’m not 100 percent sure that’s what he said) and shook my hand. I’m sure he thought I was a bit mentally-challenged because I think I blithered back something about listening to him while I was growing up — something I’m sure he’d heard 1,000 times.
And it was a memorable ACC Tournament – Woody called the whole tournament (as announcers used to do back in the day) and Virginia made the championship game (although my God-fearing Cavahoos lost to the Heels). And as a postscript (and a foreshadow?), Kinston’s Jerry Stackhouse was the MVP for UNC.
I ran into Woody a few other times from 1994-2002 and he was always pleasant. While he struggled a bit over the past couple of years with his call, he was always in fine voice. It’s going to be very, very weird to listen to Carolina basketball and football broadcasts and not hear the Voice of the Tar Heels.
Thanks for the memories, Woody.
Here are some other tributes to Mr. Durham:
From Bob Sutton of the Burlington Times-News: remembering fans chanting Woody’s name during the 2000 NCAA Tournament
From my former boss, Alan Ford, at the Shelby Star: Woody was one of a kind
From Jack Betts of the Charlotte Observer: Say it ain’t so, Woody
From veteran journalist R.L. Bynum’s blog (discovered this blog a little while ago and it’s pretty awesome; for you Carolina apologists, there are plenty of great highlights in this post): Time to go where you go and do what you do, Woody
GOODELL EXPECTS 2011 NFL SCHEDULE TO BE FULLY PLAYED
The NFL released its 2011 schedule yesterday – and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, said he expects the schedule to be played in full.
My take: The first bit of good news in this drama in a while. I hope he’s right — because I gotta good feeling about my Redskins this year!
KNIGHT APOLOGIZES TO KENTUCKY, CALIPARI FOR REMARKS
ESPN’s Bobby Knight issued an apology to the University of Kentucky and its basketball coach, John Calipari, for making comments about the school’s practice of “one-and-done” players.
My take: Very uncharacteristic for him to do that — I’m surprised he didn’t just let it go, although I’m pretty sure that would’ve meant ESPN would let him go.
But … he was right. Kentucky — and its “one-and-done” mentality — is killing the spirit of college basketball. Kudos to Knight for standing up to the Big Blue … although I’m a little disappointed he backed down.
The iPod shuffle
(Oh) Pretty Woman – Van Halen
Flowers On The Wall — The Statler Brothers
I’m So Afraid — Fleetwood Mac
All You Need Is Love — The Beatles
Sussudio — Phil Collins