- Feb 2, 2006
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Last modified: Thursday, May 25, 2006
Tim Menicutch, Sports Editor
Stories fly when ex-NFL players hang out together
By: Tim Menicutch, Sports Editor
"For storytelling, in all its richness and variations, is, ultimately, a way for people to know themselves and to know others."
- Ramon Royal Ross,
author of "Storyteller"
They all have stories. Some might even call it National Football League folklore. However, one thing's for sure. Assemble a bunch of former NFL players in one building, and the tales are going to fly as sure as a Daryle Lamonica long bomb.
The Sunday pairings party for Monday's second annual Fred Biletnikoff Celebrity Golf Classic in Lincoln provided a perfect platform for former NFL stars to weave their finest tales.
Standing in front of Mark And Monica's Sports Bar in Granite Bay, site of the night-before party for Biletnikoff's annual charity golf bash, Tom Mack needled Otis Sistrunk to tell the story about how Sistrunk was cut from the Los Angeles Rams in his rookie season.
Sistrunk, who played defensive line for the Raiders from 1972-78, hesitated just a moment. Mack, who spent 13 years as an offensive lineman for the Rams and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, chimed right in.
"It was cut day (1971) and the coaches gathered the veteran players around and asked them who we thought should make the team," said Mack, who was named to the Pro Bowl team 11 times. "We all said, 'Otis.' We knew he could play from going against him in practice."
The coaches thanked the veteran players and made their own decision. Instead of keeping Sistrunk, they kept Phil Olsen, younger brother of Merlin Olsen, he of Fearsome Foursome fame.
"Phil was a great guy," Mack said. "But he wasn't as good a player as Otis."
The Raiders picked up Sistrunk the next season and eventually he became a Pro Bowl player.
Personable former Raiders running back Kenny King offered plenty of stories all his own. Of course, most were about his days in the NFL. But his most amusing story was about his wife Wanda, who was raised in Nebraska.
King said it was amazing they even got married in the first place, considering he hailed from University of Oklahoma - Nebraska's archrival - and even more miraculous was the fact they are still married.
"The week before the game between Oklahoma and Nebraska, we just don't co-habitat," King said. "She won't even talk to me during that week. A few days after the game, usually she talks to me again - depending on which team won."
A number of former Raiders still socialize on a regular basis. Sistrunk and fellow defensive linemen Ben Davidson decided to go to a Raiders vs. Chargers game a few years ago in San Diego.
"The place was filled with Raiders fans and they were running roughshod over the Chargers fans," Davidson said. "We never saw the end of the game. We decided we better get out of there while we still had our health intact.
"Otis and I figured it probably wouldn't have been in our best interests if we were saving Chargers fans from Raiders fans."
The stories came fast and furious all night long and I barely said a dozen words. I was too busy listening.