Murphy Doesn't Want To Forget

Often the interactions between members of the print media and football players is funny or entertaining in a context that does not necessarily translate to the written word. Where the electronic media can run a videobyte or a soundbyte that tells a story or portrays an emotion, the print media has to paint the scene with words and establish a context for quotes.

Thus, some memorable interview moments don't make it into that day's coverage, and it might slip through into the realm of the forgotten.

In contemplating the upcoming NFL Draft, I began thinking of my various dealings with The University of Alabama's more draftable current footballers. You've read or heard about some of these encounters, but some you might have forgotten about, and others you might not have heard of at all.

TIM CASTILLE

Here you have one of the biggest media favorites of the last couple of decades at Alabama. Why? Because he told it like he saw it, whether it was the struggles of the Alabama offense to the team's disappointment over certain losses.

At the midway point this year, Tim Castille lamented the Tide had better turn things around so it could have a season to be proud of and not wind up in Shreveport or Nashville for the bowl season. They missed.

After a loss at Florida, Castille said the defense had won enough games for Alabama, and it was time for the offense to hold up its end.

"No matter what plays they call we have to take advantage of it and score touchdowns and get our defense out of binds. ... It's time for us offensively to step up, no matter what the coaches call. If they call a run three times and they've got 10 people in the box, we've got to make something happen.

"I'm just tired of the excuses that we've got. It's time for us to make plays when we have chances in the red zone.''

We'll all miss this second Castille to pass through the program.

JEREMY CLARK

The 309-pound defensive tackle was sitting at a desk in the Naylor Stone media suite, a toothpick between his teeth, when someone asked him about the offensive line they were opposing that week.

Jeremy Clark hesitated a moment, adjusted his toothpick, and declared, "They're kinda beefy,'' prompting a riotous response from the assembled beat crew.

Clark was diplomatic about the robbery of a sack against Ole Miss during his sophomore season. Clark bullrushed his man on the play in question, driving the guy back so badly that after a final push, the interior linemen fell into Micheal Spurlock and dropped the Rebels' signal caller. For whatever reason, apparently because Clark didn't actually tackle Spurlock, he wasn't given credit for the sack. Boo!

KENNETH DARBY

The all-time great Kenneth Darby exchange, repeated by beat writers to this day, occured a few days before Alabama's game against Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Darby was sitting at a small podium in a ballroom at the Omni Mandalay in Las Colinas when a reporter asked Darby what he thought of the billing of that game as Texas Tech's high-powered offense against Alabama's bruising defense.

Darby's response was a classic.

"That right there makes any offensive player on our offense pretty upset,'' he said, his voice rising. "That's like you're not giving us any credit whatsoever. Basically you're saying we're more of a defensive team than an offensive team.

"You're saying our offense sucks, that Brodie Croyle sucks, you're saying our receivers suck, I suck, our offensive line sucks, that's what you're saying when you say this.

"That upsets our offense as a group and makes us work even harder, to show these people and basically shut them up.''

Darby didn't necessarily like being interviewed, but he usually had interesting things to say -- in his own colloquial dialect that often defied grammatical convention.

RAMZEE ROBINSON

This GQ dresser liked networking -- big time. He wanted to flirt with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice when she came to the Tennessee game at Bryant-Denny in 2005.

As much as he liked fashion and fame, Ramzee Robinson might have enjoyed bestowing nicknames on himself even more.

JUWAN SIMPSON

I was not around for the infamous "ice cream'' comment so I cannot relate the context of that interview. Plus, it's been so overanalyzed, who cares anymore. Obviously Juwan Simpson felt like he was being persecuted for his traffic stop and the subsequent misdemeanors it spawned, including drug and gun charges. It wasn't Simpson's fault that the handling of his discipline and suspension were completely mangled. As Simpson matures, he'll understand the ice cream comment came across as flippant and naive.

It was my belief that Simpson was much more comfortable in a supporting role, and that's why his 2005 season was better than his senior year of 2006. He joked around with DeMeco Ryans and Freddie Roach that he wanted to leave when they did (after 2005) and that he didn't really need to increase his leadership role as a senior. It turned out he did need to increase it, and his teammates at least think he did that by voting him a permanent team captain.

I personally like Juwan Simpson. Once, when he was sitting down for an interview, I mentioned, "What's up, Red?'' His reply: "What did you call me?'' I said, "Isn't your nickname Red?'' "Yeah.'' Then he was cool.

KYLE TATUM

The big, slow-talking tackle got off a zinger after Alabama's 13-10 win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

"Guns down,'' Kyle Tatum grinned.

'Nuff said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thomas Murphy is the Alabama beat writer for the Mobile Register and a contributor to ‘BAMA Magazine and BamaMag.com.


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