Don McNeal Needed More Help

Don McNeal never needed much help on the football field. The cornerback was All-America for the Alabama Crimson Tide on national championship teams in 1978 and 1979. He played for the Miami Dolphins for a decade and was in two Super Bowls. But nothing in his athletics background could help him Monday.

An aging sportswriter couldn't get Don McNeal over the hump. Neither could representatives of NIKE, Swiss Army, and a travel company. McNeal was the celebrity golfer on a team at NorthRiver Yacht Club Monday and his team finished in the middle of the pack. The McNeal fivesome did beat a team captained by Joe Namath, the co-host of the event, and a handful of others. But teams captained by Steve Sloan, Marty Lyons, Richard Todd, and Dan Reaves were lions of the day.

The event was the Crimson Tide Golf Classic, and it raises thousands and thousands of dollars for athletics facilities. It was the brainchild of Bama Athletics Director Mal Moore and it is one of the most popular fund-raising events in Bama athletics history. Virtually every team that played in the inaugural event in 2003 was back this year. And almost to a player the competitors have told Moore they want to sign up as quickly as possible for next year's tournament.

In addition to McNeal, Namath, Sloan, Lyons, Todd, and Reaves, teams were captained by Mike Shula, Don Shula, Johnny Musso, Lee Roy Jordan, Bart Starr, Ken Stabler, Ray Perkins, George Teague, C.M. Newton, Eric Curry, and Gene Corrigan (former Virginia and Notre Dame AD, ACC Commissioner, and president of the NCAA). A few other non-playing teams were captained by the likes of Billy Neighbors and Bob Baumhower. Jay Barker and Shaun Alexander, who captained teams last year and were scheduled again this year, had to withdraw for personal reasons.

(Although the field will remain relatively small, if you want to get you name in the hat to have a team in 2005, contact either Kevin Almond or Jon Gilbert at 1-205-348-3600. The format is a celebrity captain and four team members in a scramble format. At $10,000 per team it would be considered pricey.)

It is more than just the golf tournament. Sunday night a reception was held in the A-Club Room at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In addition to social time, there was a both a silent auction and a traditional auction (the auctioneer is a professional, former Crimson Tide cornerback Eddie Propst) in which numerous Alabama items were sold for thousands of dollars.

The participants include a number of good golfers. But more important to them is the fellowship with past Crimson Tide greats. And the participants are also believers in Alabama's athletics future and want to be a part of contributing to its success.


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