Running off at the typewriter. …
I got a text message the other day from Victor Gray, the ultra-popular and talented UCF defensive lineman and Dr. Phillips High School product who will not get to play his senior season because of a rare spinal condition. The reason he texted me is because now that his football career has been cut short, he wanted to thank his hometown for supporting him for all these years.
So I'm going to step aside now and turn this column over to Victor, one of the classiest players and best role models you'll ever meet:
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- UCF announces kickoff times, TV information for Akron, Louisville, Rutgers games
- UCF commit DE A.J. Wooten glad Knights found him
- Aaron Hernandez being entangled in murder probe doesn't surprise many in Gainesville
- Mike Bianchi's dramatic recital of the poem 'Casey at the Bat,' which turned 125 years old
"The last four years have gone by faster than I could have ever imagined. I have come a long way from the tall skinny kid from Dr. Phillips High School. I have matured into a young man who I hope has made many people very proud. I leave this school not just another graduate of UCF, for I have learned I am so much more than that. … I've had an army of support this whole time from my family to my teammates to the City of Orlando. Without them and many others I would not be where I am today and for that I am forever grateful.
"A defining moment in my life came when I met (UCF defensive line coach and motivational speaker) Blaise Winter in Memphis right before we were about to play Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. He spoke to us and I remember him saying, 'Don't just play but live for the reasons beyond the obvious.' I began to live my life by those words; not wasting an opportunity to help change and make a positive impact on as many lives as I could. The reason I work so hard and am as passionate as I am is because people need me, as I need them. People need something to believe in; something that gives them hope and for some I provide that. It gives me great pleasure to do so. I also realized there are some people who were not blessed with the same physical capabilities that allowed me to play the game of football the way I did. I played for them, because they felt at times that they lived through me when I was out there on the field.
For students of all ages I wanted to demonstrate the hard work and perseverance it takes to get through school. It was not always easy but with the support of a great academic support team I was able to get to where I am now -- approaching graduation here in early August. From God to the people who serve to keep me and you safe on a daily basis to my family and friends, I would like to give one more thank you. I have been blessed, and I will never stop living my life in service of others. … For anyone that I meet, I hope to leave an everlasting impression."
Short stuff: If I'm Aaron Hernandez, my one phone call goes to Tim Tebow. … One of the alternate jurors selected for the George Zimmerman trial admitted during jury selection that she listens to our "Open Mike" radio show every morning and knows little about the case. Judge, I can certainly vouch for her. If she listens to us, I can assure you she doesn't know much about the case – or anything else for that matter. … LeBron wins his second title and immediately people are already comparing him to Michael Jordan. Um, doesn't he have to go through Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson to even get a shot at Michael? … And, by the way, does Chris Bosh actually get a championship ring or just a participatory ribbon? … TMZ claims Dwight Howard has now had four children by four different women. If this is true, I'm thinking D-12 needs to start making free throws like he's making babies. …
Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is in some hot water for tweeting the other day, "I can't wait to leave College Station." Chimed in ESPN funny man Woody Paige: "Neither can anybody who's ever been there." … Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema calling for a rules change – a 15-second substitution period -- to slow down the no-huddle offense. What next, Coach – mandatory water breaks after every three plays? … Did you see where Patriots owner Robert Kraft accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of stealing his Super Bowl ring? I'm guessing Putin is a Raiders fan and was only taking back what was rightfully his. What's Russian for "tuck rule?" … All these years later, federal agents actually dug up an entire field in search of Jimmy Hoffa. My question: Is Fran Vazquez next?
Don't forget, you can click on OrlandoSentinel.com and read the wildly popular Open Mike blog and interactive extravaganza to get my freshest takes on what's happening in the world of sports. Here's a blog about Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer telling me Central Florida is definitely going to get a Major League Soccer franchise – and soon:
Buddy Dyer leaves little doubt that Central Florida is going to be awarded a Major League Soccer franchise and says it might even happen in the next few weeks.
"It's going to happen," Mayor Dyer assured us on our Open Mike radio show earlier this week. "We'll add a second major league sport to our city's offerings. It's the world's most popular sport married to the world's leading tourist destination. I can't think of a better mix."
Asked when the franchise might be awarded, Dyer said: "We're still in discussions with the county, and that -- some county funding -- is the last piece that needs to fall into place. I would anticipate, if we can get that done in the next couple of weeks, you could see a franchise awarded during the summertime."
If this indeed happens, Dyer deserves much of the credit for fast-tracking the construction of a soccer-specific stadium that the MLS is requiring for Orlando to be awarded a franchise. Dyer's commitment to sports coupled with Orlando City Soccer Club President Phil Rawlins' expertise and connections within the soccer community has been an incredibly successful combination.
It appeared an MLS franchise was in jeopardy just a few weeks ago when Orlando's soccer effort did not get the state sales tax rebate it was counting on to help fund the new $100 million soccer-specific stadium. But Rawlins was not deterred.
"We're disappointed," he said at the time, "because we had every indication that this initiative was going to go through the legislature. But this is just a speed bump on our journey and there will be more along the way. This is not going to stop us from bringing Major League Soccer to Orlando.
It appears Rawlins was absolutely right.
And if Dyer's prediction comes to fruition, it might just happen sooner rather than later.
(Most interesting reader retorts, radio rabble, tangy tweets and message-board mockery of the week):
On how New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez made it through four years of playing for Urban Meyer at UF without getting into serious trouble: "Cover-ups, entitlement and enabling?"
On whether Hernandez being entangled in a murder investigation taints UF: "Did O.J. taint USC? This has nothing to do with where he went to college."
(In memory of actor James Gandolfini passing away earlier this week, three of my favorite Tony Soprano quotes:
"There's an old Italian saying, 'You (bleep) up once, you lose two teeth."
(On "Chicken Soup for your Soul"): "You should read 'Tomato Sauce for your (Bleep).' It's the Italian version."
"When you're married, you'll understand the importance of fresh produce."
email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740-AM.