Monday, August 20, 2012

Pete Banaszak, Steve Sylvester, Autry Denson

I received three more returns recently.  The first one was from Pete Banaszak who was an excellent player for the Raiders.  He played 13 years with the Raiders and played in two Super Bowls.  He scored two touchdowns in the Super Bowl victory over the Vikings.  He scored 52 regular season touchdowns.  He was an excellent short yardage back.  His favorite memory is winning Super Bowl XI- he called it the greatest!  I asked him what it was like to play in so many big/name games (holy roller, immaculate reception, Super Bowls) and he said it seems like a dream.  "You don't see games like that anymore!"  The person that had the biggest impact on him was George Blanda who he called the greatest competitor he ever had seen.  He signed a Raider helmet photo for me.

Steve Sylvester was an offensive lineman with the Oakland Raiders and was a starter for the Raiders when I saw my very first NFL game.  That season was the only season where he was a full time starter.  The Raiders had such a great offensive line back then that it was tough to break into.  He attended Notre Dame and was part of the 1973 National Championship team which he called his favorite Notre Dame memory.  His favorite Raiders memory was the Super Bowl victory over the Eagles.  The person that had the biggest impact on him was Gerry Faust, his high school coach.  I asked him if he missed the game and he said that he missed the guys/teammates.  

The last return was an awesome return from Autry Denson. In addition to signing my photo he wrote me a page long letter.  He was glad to know that people appreciated his love for the game and the hard work he put in.  I never understood why he didn't get a better chance in the NFL.  The man is the all time leading rusher in Notre Dame history!!  His favorite ND memories are breaking the rushing record and graduating from the best university in the world.  He thought that graduating was a great way to honor his mother.  I asked if he had any NFL regrets and he said no.  He is coaching at Bethune Cookman and I asked what his coaching goals are.  He said his main goal is to be a positive influence on his players.  He also feels that he will be a head coach at a major college or NFL team.  His response to my character question was a quote: character is what we do when no one else is watching plus reputation is what other think about us, Character is what God and the angels knows us to be.  

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