Character The Noun

BobLee
January18/ 2000

… I doubt Charlie Adams and his NCHSAA staff celebrated too much last week.  Afraid to most likely….  Did the whores of London rejoice when they read that Jack The Ripper was caught?  What Charlie and his state high school administrators read was the headline Ed Emory Retires As Coach At Richmond County.  Character has become a trite buzzword in sports, politics and business.  Programs, people and institutions clamor to claim they HAVE IT as a quality.  With Ed it was a NOUN.  Ed Emory IS a CHARACTER … a lovable rascal BobLee has known for over 40 years.

I rant regularly here about the nefariousness so prevalent in high school and college athletics … and becoming more so by the minute.  Then I go and call Ed Emory a lovable rascal.  Am I being a hypocrite?  Yeah, most likely.  Neither BobLee nor Ed Emory ever claimed to be totally innocent and for a long list of documented reasons.  If Ed Emory has committed even 50% of the high crimes and misdemeanors that seem to follow in his career wake he and Jerry Tarkanian deserve their own wing in the coaching rascal Hall of I Didn’t Mean To.

Quickly to the incident back in the early 80s that most Tar Heels think of when Ed’s name comes up.  Did Ed Emory, ECU Head Coach at the time, put spies in the UNC Law School to peek at UNC football practices before a Big Game?  I don’t know if he did or not, but, knowing Ed, if he didn’t  it was only because he didn’t think of it in time.

It was the Spring of 19 and 63.  A high school sophomore’s rotary phone rings.  It was Coach Emory.  BobLee, how about I come by and pick you up and we go to Pharo’s and get a coke?  Sure coach.

As we sat in the parking lot of Pharo’s Drive In, Coach Ed Emory told me he was leaving as our assistant coach to be Head Football Coach at Wadesboro.  In my town in 1963 change was not a part of our world.  Stability was the rock-rib of our life.  Hell, we’d had the same Mayor for over 20 years.  Coach Emory was leaving.  That’s NOT FAIR!

A year later my mom would have her first bout with breast cancer.  Five years later my dad would have a stroke and go into a coma from which he never recovered.  Thirteen years later I would go thru a divorce.  But to a fifteen year old boy losing his coach seemed about as traumatic as life could get.

Some years later, and again now, I thought back to the significance of Coach Emory, in his mid 20s at that time, not wanting me to hear the news from anyone but him.  Yes, Ed Emory is a rascal and a scallywag but Ed Emory has always cared about His Boys.  Ask Battle Wall or Wayne Lineberry or Jimmy Adkins or Lonnie Baker.

As we sat in Ed’s school-supplied Driver Education car, I dealt with the news in typical teenage boy fashion … a thin veneer of stoicism hiding a mountain of personal devastation.  I probably stared at the dashboard for a few minutes.  OK, enough self-pity … Coach said BobLee I need you to go down to Wadesboro with me in a few weeks and help me get all set-up.  I need your help.  He probably could have added and crawl all the way down there on your hands and knees thru broken glass and horse crap  and I would have done it … for Coach Emory.

I recall that trip of 44 years ago.  I drove so it counted towards my driver’s ed hours.  Ed was from fairly nearby Lancaster SC so we stayed at his mom’s house.  She fixed us a country breakfast.  Ed Emory was a football legend around Lancaster.  Of course, as is always the case with Ed, there was a but.  Ed got a gal pregnant before his senior year in high school.  He married her because that’s what you did back then.  Then he learned that married students could not play high school football in South Carolina. He finished his high school career at Camden Military School before going on to All American honors as a Guard at East Carolina … then to my high school … and into my life … and a legendary career as a high school and college football coach.

Coach long enough and a man gets remembered in a certain pose.  Mack Brown is with his hands on his knees on the sidelines … Dick Crum is those goofy mouse ear headphones … Chuck Amato (fill in your own) … Ol’ Roy maybe his sideline squat … John Wooden legs crossed and a rolled-up program in his hand.  With Ed Emory, to me, it will be either leading grass drills or standing astride a two-man blocking sled.  I always think of Ed Emory as a practice coach more than a game coach.

Any kid who has ever played football even as a 4th string JV knows about grass drills.  Grass drills are a part of every football practice during which players are reminded that football is really a game about falling down on the ground … rolling around on the ground … moving as fast as you can … and being yelled at.  The parts about letter jackets and making out with cheerleaders comes AFTER grass drills … maybe … for a fortunate few.

While backs and receivers stand off to the side and smell each others armpits (would that get you arrested these days in the Atlanta Airport?), the linemen would form up in three lines and Coach Emory, wearing a t-shirt, shorts, tennis shoes and no socks, usually with no cap, but ALWAYS with a whistle would lead the drill …. Think a sadistic DI at Parris Island in August … pick’em up pick’em up move move move dive dive dive pick’em up move roll this way this way that way that way pick’em up pick’em up sprint sprint sprint … tweet … next three … pick’em up pick’em up ….

  The Rae Crowther Company in Berwick, Pennsylvania made blocking sleds.  They made every blocking sled I ever saw.  They probably got bought out by a Dutch conglomerate years ago.  Blocking sleds came in three sizes …. One man, two-man, and seven man.   Coach Emory liked to ride a blocking sled.  I think two-man was his favorite.  A blocking sled is a bunch of iron welded onto a metal base with canvas-covered pads that linemen fire out at and try to move in a blocking drill.

Ed Emory was about a burly 260 back then.  He’s trimmed down a lot over the years after doctors said stuff like “your arteries are about shot … you’ll likely be dead before next Friday’s kick-off.”  Ed never wanted to miss those Friday night kick-offs. …..  Put a 260 lbs screaming whistle blower on a two-man sled yelling FIRE OUT DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE … toot … NEXT … FIRE OUT.   Do it in mid August on a practice field with twelve blades of grass, maybe, and dirt (and rocks!) that hasn’t seen a drop of rain since April … and it gets intense.  Pretty much every high school football player has the same thought at some point … Is MAYBE making out with a cheerleader REALLY worth this sh*t?

Ed Emory quickly found success in Wadesboro.  UNC Footballer Battle Wall was part of Ed’s first team of Wadesboro Tigers.  Ed named one of his sons Battle because, like all the rest of us, he thought Battle was a perfect name for a Coach’s (or a General’s) son.  Give such children a normal middle name in case they chose the millions of alternative careers for which being named Battle could be an unnecessary hindrance.

Battle Wall and I met at UNC in 19 and 65.  We see each other every year at Lettermen Functions.  Our first topic of conversation is ALWAYS what new with coach? Battle was a Carolina Junction Boy in the Hickey-Dooley transition.  One of the reasons Battle survived Dooley’s Death Camp in the Spring of 1967 was he was one of Coach Emory’s boys.  If Battle had even considered quitting he’d a had to face (1) his dad, Battle Sr … then (2) Coach Emory !!! … Psycho Jim Carmody, by comparison, was a piecea cake!

  From Wadesboro, Ed began a career journey that would give a Greyhound bus driver a migraine.  Brevard, Duke, ECU, Clemson, Wake Forest, Clemson, Memphis in the USFL, back to Anson County, then to Richmond County.  I probably left out 6-8 stops.

Wherever Ed Emory hung his whistle, it was always his best intention to read the damn rulebook.  He really did intend to, but gosh darn it, he never managed to get around to it.  Besides, all those “Thou shall nots …” and sub paragraphs and foot notes and fine print.  Have you ever tried to read fine print in a rulebook while yelling pick’em pick’em pick’em dive …tweet.  Cut the guy some slack howabout it.

Ed Emory and Kenny Browning and Hal Stewart and Charlie Adams have all been contemporaries in North Carolina football over the past 40 years.  Charlie caught a break when Ed went into the college coaching ranks in the 80s but like Jason Voorhees at summer camp … He Came Back.   If Eddie Haskell had been a football coach, he would have been Ed Emory.

(NOTE:  The reason those London whores did not celebrate the news of “Jack’s” capture is they knew he wasn’t done … just like Ed Emory … both will NEVER DIE or REALLY RETIRE !!!!)

Ed – The College Years are chock-full of apocraphal Ed Stories.  Is it fair to assume that a college football recruiter carrying a roll of $100s that would choke Linda Lovelace is automatically up to no good?  Ed just didn’t carry credit cards, plus he was a generous tipper… sure!  Ed was a top assistant at Clemson right BEFORE Danny Ford took over.  That it was actually said (and true) that Danny Ford cleaned up the mess he inherited is always a classic line when Ed Emory stories are told.

Ed as Head Coach at his alma mater, ECU, always seemed where Ed should be.  He built a very competitive program and did so quickly with the help of maybe one or two shortcuts here and there but who’s counting.  Whatever Ed Emory’s adversaries might say about him … ain’t nobody ever said that he was reluctant to sample a vice or two or a dozen.  Leaving ECU had to hurt Ed … it didn’t stop him but it did signal that Ed would always be Eddie Haskell Emory.  He couldn’t change if he wanted to.  Hello Mr Cleaver, Mrs Cleaver and young Theodore.  Is Wally home?

You know those digital clock countdowns that James Bond is always dealing with … :10, :09, :08 ….. :02 … Ed’s career has kinda always had one of those ticking clocks counting down.  You know that SEC football line … it’s not cheating, unless you get caught.  With Ed, opponents and administrators always knew he’s  up to something let’s just hope it’s not too bad.

Ed Emory’s teams were always very competitive.  On at least several occasions just a tad overly competitive.  Both at Anson County and recently at Richmond County, his teams were reprimanded for overt taunting and blatant intimidation tactics.  Hey, football ain’t for sissies.  How many coaches do you know who get nabbed breaking a rule coaching a meaningless all-star game ???  Ed did during his recent tenure as Shrine Bowl coach.  To Ed Emory football and meaningless would never be in the same sentence.

Ed Emory could mess up an opposing coach’s head quicker than the quick flash of a cheerleader’s thigh.  Once the opponent started worrying what’s that damn Emory up to now  Ed didn’t have to be up to anything.  He had already won the psychological game.

That 15 year old boy staring at the dashboard back in 1963, could not have known it at the time but if you are one of Ed Emory’s boys your life will be just a bit more colorful as a result.  A life well-lived will include encountering a few saints, a few sinners, a few geniuses, a few skanks, a few snakes, a few Samaritans … and hopefully some men and women of sterling character … and hopefully … a few men, like Ed Emory, who simply ARE  …. Great Characters.

I have forgotten a lot of people I’ve encountered along life’s way.  I will never forget Coach Ed Emory. ….. pick’em up pick’em up move move move …. Tweet!

 >>><<<

 Ed coached w/ Memphis of the USFL.  

What was their team name? ???

 >>><<<

    There WILL be a post-script to the Peeping Professor Story … Duh, ya think!  For now … the mainstream media, ably assisted by a certain Internet rascal, has reported the issue in appropriate fashion.  UNC is handling it appropriately for now.  And throughout the Triangle, the gay community is mad as hell about the negative publicity. … and UNCers only have 26 years before Wuffies stop reminding us about it EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY.  At least it shuts us up saying “parade“.

   Was that Colts v Patriots Game a good’an?  Indeed it was.  That type of sports event excitement is what God was thinking about when He invented Big-Screen HD TV and nachos.

   Did you know that Both the Super Bowl Head Coaches are ……….. CHRISTIANS … overt public CHRISTIANS.  Indeed, both Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are men of strong professed Christian faith.  Cool!

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