Posts tagged ‘Navorro Bowman’
A leader lost: A bit of news we missed last week, but which seems appropriate to share on the day we observe the life and work of Martin Luther King: A memorial service was held Saturday for Thelma Price, a longtime Penn State administrator and civil rights activist who died on Jan. 8. She was 88. She came to the university in 1964 to serve as assistant dean of students at New Kensington, and later served as assistant VP of student affairs at University Park. The first charter president of the State College chapter of the NAACP, she was also a vocal advocate for minority students, earning the nickname “Mom” for her tireless work on their behalf.
Happiness and heartbreak: Sunday night was a memorable one for three former Nittany Lions, although one that NaVorro Bowman ’09 no doubt wishes he could forget. Bowman, the San Francisco 49ers linebacker whom NFL.com calls “arguably the best defensive player in the league this season,” went down in gruesome fashion in the fourth quarter of the Niners’ eventual 23-17 loss to Seattle. Afterward, his all-pro teammate, Patrick Willis, told reporters, “If he doesn’t get defensive player of the year, I don’t know what they go by. Most important, I just pray he’s all right.”
On the much brighter side, the Seahawks duo of Michael Robinson ’04 and Jordan Hill ’13 are going to the Super Bowl, marking the 43rd time in 48 years that at least one Penn Stater is on a roster for the big game.
Times up: Sunday’s New York Times carried a couple of pieces of note for Penn Staters. Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology and arguably the world’s most famous climate scientist, wrote an oped for the Sunday Review in which he talks about embracing his role as a public advocate for awareness and action on climate change. On a very different topic, over in the Business section, there’s a profile of Ross Ulbricht ’09g, who is facing federal charges of computer hacking, drug trafficking, and money laundering as the alleged mastermind behind the online black market Silk Road. It’s disturbing, fascinating stuff.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The Steeler fans in our office won’t agree with me, but for most Penn Staters, there’s still plenty of reason to pay attention to the NFL playoffs. Three of the four teams that will play this weekend for a Super Bowl berth boast contributions from former (and, in one case, brand-new) Nittany Lions.
All-pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman ’09 (pictured) was among the defensive stars for the San Francisco 49ers, who beat New Orleans on Saturday to set up a meeting with the New York Giants in the NFC championship game. Bowman recorded 10 tackles in San Francisco’s dramatic 36-32 win over the Saints. Among the Giants who will try to slow Bowman this weekend is Kareem McKenzie ’01, a Big Blue stalwart who has started nearly every game at offensive tackle for the past decade. Jimmy Kennedy ’02 is also on the Giants roster, as a reserve defensive lineman.
Over in the AFC, there aren’t any Penn Staters on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster, while Rich Ohrnberger ’08 holds down a spot on the New England Patriots’ injured reserve. Of course, the Pats have become a team of interest for Nittany Lion fans, as New England’s 45-10 drubbing of Denver showcased the offense run by new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. Unless you’re a Broncos fan, that was fun to watch.
There’s plenty happening with current Penn State athletes, of course, and a typically busy winter sports weekend brought two highlights of note. The first came courtesy of the fleet feet of freshman Robby Creese, who set a U.S. collegiate and under-19 record in the 1,000 meters. He covered five laps at the Ashenfelter Indoor Track in 2:19.53. I got winded just typing that.
And the defending NCAA champion wrestling team recorded a first, blanking conference rival Wisconsin, 43-0, on the road for the program’s first ever Big Ten dual meet shutout.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It’s not that Penn State ever stopped producing great linebackers, but enough other schools have turned out really good ones in recent years that some fans and media observers have tried to reassign the Lions’ unofficial title of “Linebacker U.”
Well, enough of that.
On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys’ second-year linebacker Sean Lee ’09 was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month. Through three games, Lee—who wasn’t guaranteed to be a starter this season—was the NFL’s second-leading tackler. Fourth on that list? Another second-year linebacker, Navorro Bowman ’09 of the San Francisco 49ers. This after a 2010 season in which two of the league’s top-three sack leaders were linebackers Tamba Hali ’06 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cameron (formerly Derek) Wake ’04 of the Miami Dolphins. (In fairness, Hali played defensive end in college, and Wake was something of a “tweener” between ‘backer and end while at Penn State.) And the NFL’s third-leading tackler last season? That was linebacker Paul Posluszny ’06, now of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
There are a couple more linebackers among the 31 ex-Nittany Lions on current NFL rosters. You can keep up with all of them with weekly updates on gopsusports.com.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The Parting Shot in our March/April issue – which Alumni Association members should have in their mailboxes any day now — features a shot of the Penn State offensive huddle during the Nittany Lions’ 19-17 win over LSU in the Capital One Bowl, where overuse and bad weather had turned the Citrus Bowl field into a mud bog. The result: State’s iconic blue-and-white uniforms were turned blue and gray.
The picture also left us with a question: How on earth do they get those clean? Luckily, we knew where to get the answer.
(scroll down for video)
A few weeks back, our editor, Tina Hay, called Kirk Diehl ’96, ’05, the Nittany Lions’ facilities coordinator and the guy who, along with equipment manager Brad “Spider” Caldwell ’86, is responsible for maintaining Penn State’s pristine game-day appearance. (A quick aside about Kirk: We were classmates when he was a student manager for the team in the mid ’90s. I saw him walking off the field at the end of the ’95 Rose Bowl and yelled hello from the stands. He waved and threw me a pair of Nike football gloves. It wasn’t until we were back from winter break that I found out the gloves belonged to Ki-Jana Carter ’95. Yes, I still have them.)
Anyway… Kirk gave Tina a sense of how he and Spider got all those pants white enough to be worn again – which they will be, at the annual Blue White Game in April. On Tuesday, associate editor Amy Guyer and I headed over to the Lasch Building to see for ourselves. Kirk and Spider, working through piles of laundry from that morning’s 6 a.m. workout, were nice enough to host us and show us the very pants — now gleaming-white — that had soaked up all that mud in Florida. Kirk explains the pants’ long, smelly journey to cleanliness:
Why do they put so much time and effort into keeping those pants clean? Kirk told us that each pair costs $80 — that’s wholesale. Most schools will go through multiple pairs per player in a season. But, barring fabric damage that can’t be repaired (Spider’s wife, Karen Kessler ’90 Edu, serves as the team’s unofficial seamstress), each of the more than 100 players on the Nittany Lion roster will wear a single pair of game pants from the first game of the season through the following year’s Blue White Game. That’s a lot of money saved.
Of course, it also means a lot of time spent manning washing machines, especially after a game like this year’s mud bowl. Just how bad was it, Kirk?
Five loads of wash, in the team’s computerized, industrial-sized, 85-pound washers, just to get those pants clean. For this game, the focus was pretty exclusively mud, but grass, blood, and paint stains are another challenge for the guys. Spider later showed us the product they use to get out paint stains, particularly the blue that’s applied to the Beaver Stadium turf. As the company’s site confirms, the name of the product, PS-Blout, is an abbreviation of sorts for “Penn State blue-out.” Yup, our Lions have a detergent named after them.
One more thing: And the end there, it almost sounds like Kirk was asked if the team would considering wearing “Peter Pans” next season. I’m pretty sure he said “pewter pants.” Just so that’s clear.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
When linebacker Navorro Bowman hauled in an interception in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Indiana and headed for the end zone, one thought flashed through his mind:
I cannot be caught by the quarterback.
That, he said, would have been humiliating. Far worse than being tackled by a punter or kicker. “Quarterbacks are the ones wearing the red jerseys; you can’t touch them,” he explained, grinning. “So don’t touch me.”
No one did. Bowman rumbled 73 yards to the end zone for his second defensive touchdown of the season, one that gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game, 17-10 midway through the third quarter. If that was his last game in Beaver Stadium—a distinct possibility, given that he is projected as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft—Bowman certainly went out in style.
He also assured that he’d get a lot less ribbing for his second defensive touchdown of the season than he did for his first. When he returned a fumble 91 yards for a touchdown against Eastern Illinois, he was—to put it politely—exhausted when he reached the end zone. He could barely stumble back to the sideline. So led by defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who’s got a great sense of humor, his teammates let him have it for nearly running out of gas.
Which is why outrunning Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell was so important. “Everybody would have been clowning me if I’d been tackled by the quarterback,” Bowman said.
And which is why he so appreciated that there were 18 fewer yards between him and the end zone on this touchdown run. “Ninety-one yards got me,” he said. “God’s looking out for me, cutting down the yards for me.”
Bowman spent much of the postgame fielding questions about whether he, like the 19 seniors honored in a pregame ceremony, had played his final game in Beaver Stadium. He even rang the Victory Bell on his way off the field, although he said it wasn’t a symbolic gesture. “They asked me to do it,” he said, although he was unsure exactly who “they” was. He assumes it was some students.
Bowman, whose off-field issues have been well documented, said he would evaluate whether he would return for his final year of eligibility. He said he’ll consult with his family, his former Penn State roommate Aaron Maybin, who turned pro after last season and was rewarded with a handsome contract by the Buffalo Bills, and LaVar Arrington, who has been a mentor for years. “I’m blessed to be in a position to be able to make this choice,” Bowman said.
Being a first-round pick matters, he said.
“I want to be the best,” he said. “That’s why you get up at 5 or 6 a.m. Just to be the best.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor