By: David Lamm
When I was starting my career in sports media in the early 1960s, the top men in the field always went to three events. They were the World Series, heavyweight championship fights and Kentucky Derby.
That illustrates how the American sports landscape has changed. Baseball was king back then – ah, the “Great American Pastime.” Boxing was in its heyday with the heavyweights ruling. Horse racing was, indeed, the sport of kings.
The NFL was just beginning to gain popularity. College football was bigger. The NBA was barely a blip on the radar. College basketball was much bigger (mainly because of scandals). Golf was big four times a year (and attracted some of those top media guys). Stock car racing was a southern hick sport. Soccer? That was a foreign sport.
I’m reminded of this because Saturday is the day of the Kentucky Derby, the biggest horse race of the year. It’s still a big deal, but only out of curiosity.
The name of the horse that wins the Derby will be quickly be forgotten unless it wins the Triple Crown. Then it will take a few weeks to forget.
About a week before I was going to speak to the Daytona Beach Quarterback Club 25 years ago, I got a call from a club member. He wanted to know if everything was still set for my visit.
Our conversation turned to small talk. He said there was a Daytona Beach high school placekicker who was “huge” and had “a cannon for a leg.”
He told me his name was Sebastian “Something-ski.”
A week later I arrived in Daytona Beach several hours before my speech and decided to go by Daytona Beach Seabreeze High for a look-see.
From afar I watched this young man, indeed huge compared to his teammates, kicking balls not only out of the end zone, but seemingly out of the county.
Sebastian Janikowski was indeed a marvel. After an All-American career at FSU he became only the third placekicker ever to become a 1st round draft pick, taken by the Raiders.
It seemed like yesterday. Janikowski retired this week after 18 NFL seasons. Time does fly.