To steal a line from the legendary Oklahoman Jim Ross of WWE fame, "Business is about to pick up." The next few weeks usher in a new era for T-Town sports. The Talons embark on their inaugural season in the rebirth of the Arena Football League, and the Drillers open ONEOK Field a week later.
Each deserves their own praise, and we will heap much toward both organizations in due time. First, let's spotlight a local athlete turned professional champion.
Check out the list of accomplishments Booker T. Washington alum Robert Meachem has added to his résumé: Super Bowl Champion, key to the city of Tulsa, and in June, he visits the White House to meet the president. Not bad for a North Tulsa Mabee baby.
To think, if his family and friends had their way during the 2007 NFL Draft, none of this might have occurred.
"Dallas picked 22," said Meachem with a slight grin. "Tennessee picked 19. I remember like it was yesterday."
Draft coverage showed what appeared to be a disappointed Meachem when the New Orleans Saints called his number at pick 27.
"Really I was burned, not for me because it didn't matter really where I went," he said. "It was just for my family. I think a lot of my family members wanted me to go to Dallas."
The path worked out great for him, his family and the city of New Orleans. It was a perfect match. An offensive minded coach, a cerebral quarterback and a speedy receiver looking to thrive.
As a Dallas Cowboy, he would have been inundated with ticket and hospitality request from Tulsans looking to drive to Dallas for a game.
Fast forward to Super Bowl week 2010. The Saints faced all-world quarterback Peyton Manning and the favored Indianapolis Colts. Did the magnitude of the week get to the 25-year-old receiver?
"It was very big because everybody is around you," Meachem said. "You have all the cameras, all the media. It's a lot of stuff that goes on behind closed doors that a lot of fans don't see you going through.
Sometimes it is kind of nerve-racking.
"You are trying to prepare for a game and make it just like a regular game, but you can't. You know it's the Super Bowl. It's a championship. Everybody is going to stop and watch the game. It was a little different," he reflected.
By now you know the outcome. His favorite memories after the big win come from his family and his fans. Being able to share the experience with his missus, two daughters and his parents is immeasurable.
Also, knowing he helped put a smile on the faces of faithful Saints fans keeps his spirits up today. "Every year that I've been (in New Orleans), they say we are going to win the Super Bowl," he said. "Fans always say that no matter what. They feel like we are going to win the Super Bowl every year."
His knee injuries appear to be behind him. He has already started working for the upcoming season -- even though their first report date is three weeks away.
Moments prior to arriving at Incredible Pizza a week ago to raise funds for his charity (more on that in a bit), he received a text message from fellow Saints receiver Marques Colston.
This illustrates a huge point. "We are the closest group probably in the NFL," said Meachem of the Saints receiving corps.
He attended Devery Henderson's day in Opelousas, La. He remains in close contact with Lance Moore and the previously mentioned Colston. All receivers and tight ends remain in contact.
Champions are not built with selfish, me-first head cases. A franchise can overcome one malcontent, but a cadre of bad attitudes will sink a ship.
Of course, the Saints won 13 games during the regular season. You might think it is easy to get along when you are winning. You would be correct. However, look at the previous two seasons and the mediocre stretches that saw the Saints miss the playoffs, you would be hard pressed to find negativity brewing in the locker room.
Meachem grabbed only one ball during Super Bowl XLIV. Imagine Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco getting one catch. The sideline would resemble a 4th of July celebration.
The cohesive unit is a coach and quarterback's dream team. Each brings special talents and a team-first attitude to the practice field. Meachem leads by actions, not words.
This brings us full circle to the reason Meachem was in Tulsa a week ago. He signed autographs and took pictures with fans. His charity is "Follow Your Dreams" and details can be found online at 2followyourdreams.org.
"I just wanted to let young kids know that you don't have to be an athlete, a rapper or anything like that," he said. "You can be a doctor or a lawyer. You can be a manager at Walmart. It doesn't matter as long as you are following your dreams, and you are happy about what you are doing.
"Society makes you think you have to be an athlete or a rapper or singer to make it. I feel like you can do a lot more," he said.
Four closing nuggets until next week.
Good news, Tulsa. Next year, the BOK Center hosts a pod for the first and second round of the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Better news, Tulsa. Judging by the minuscule crowds at this year's locations, we should excel. If 2,000-3,000 fans filled the arena on Thursday and Friday, it was a good showing. We can do it and maybe even do it better.
Former TU coach and current Kansas head man Bill Self led the Golden Hurricane to the Elite Eight in 2000. His hometown heroics should be noted; however, we should also note his yearly flops as coach at Kansas. Two first-round upset losses in the past five years.
This past Saturday his top-ranked Jayhawks fell in the second round. I'm not a huge believer in the over or underrated moniker but only one applies here.
The Tulsa Talons begin their quest for the Arena Football League championship Saturday, April 3. Visit tulsatalons.com for ticket information. Next week, we will break down the upcoming season.
Also, visit tulsadrillers.com for ticket information as they prepare to launch their season in the new digs. You can expect a full team (yes, it's not just a stadium) breakdown in the coming issues.
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