Sunday, October 13, 2013
FOOTBALL AND WRESTLING
I have been sitting and watching football today and my Saints lost in the last seconds to the Patriots (BOO). Now watching the Sunday night game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys and I won't even get into the ridiculous name thing but if I were to comment on that subject I would probably say something like "Keep the damn name! It is a tradition, not offensive!" Anybody can find something to be offended by if they try hard enough and don't have anything better to worry about. But, I am not going to comment on that. So what do wrestling and football have in common? Besides the referees being blind sometimes and other obvious things such as come-backs, tonight's game jogged my memory a bit since this Blog is about Mississippi and Wrestling. There have been more than a few guys that played professional football then had careers in professional wrestling. I am not going to attempt to name them all because I would probably leave some out but I do want to talk about one in particular from Mississippi, Verlon Biggs, a Mississippi native that made the move from pro football to professional wrestling.
Verlon Biggs was a young man from Moss Point, Mississippi who played college football at Jackson State and was drafted by the New York Jets in the early 60's, I believe he was about a 3rd round pick, and had a great career there playing Defensive End and was a key player in the Jets' 1969 Superbowl win. At 6'4" and around 285 pounds Verlon was known as a fierce pass rusher and tackler. After his contract ran out there in the early 70's he signed with the Washington Redskins (Keep the damn Name) and finished his career around 1974 I think in Washington. At some point he entered into professional wrestling for a short run of about three years and that is where I met Vernon.
It was around 1979 or so when we had broken away from Mid-South and formed our own Mississippi AWA promotion and we were bringing in new talent that we heard that Vernon had been doing a bit of wrestling, I don't remember where he was at the time, but we got in touch with him and asked him if he would be interested in working for us. Former pro football star, Mississippi boy, made perfect sense. Well, he agreed but not on a full time schedule because he had other business interests at the time, so we booked him mostly around the Coastal towns once or twice a week, being as that was close to his home and the fans there were very familiar with the name and football reputation. He did not have a great deal of experience in wrestling but he would wear his New York Jets jersey to the ring and the fans loved him! I am not saying that he was not a good wrestler because he was, he just did not have the experience at the time to be a main event draw, but was a great guy to have on any card.
So, watching the Redskins (Keep the damn Name) play tonight reminded me of Verlon Biggs wrestling in Mississippi for us. Another similarity between football and wrestling is injuries, especially head injuries, and some athletes taking cheap shots. Now remember when I talk about wrestling in Mississippi, I am talking about the way it used to be. Most veterans in each sport will work with younger athletes to teach them the right way and give them the knowledge of their experience, to "pass the torch". But you always have the "few" that resent and do not have the patience to work with the younger guys. Verlon was a big, humble, soft-spoken guy but had the misfortune of being in a match with a tough, temperamental wrestling veteran in Biloxi, Mississippi in his last match with us which ended up putting him in the hospital for a few days. It was totally uncalled for but, another story for another time. Gotta save the details for my book that I will hopefully finish soon. Till next time my friends!