Looking back at Desert Trip, with thoughts on the future


By Leighton Ginn

INDIO — An ambitious and groundbreaking concert, the Desert Trip lived up to its huge expectations as it showcased six legends over two three-day weekends at the Empire Polo Grounds.

Before looking back on Weekend 2, here’s a look ahead.

WHO’S NEXT: It will be unfair to expect the promoters at Goldenvoice to have a lineup as legendary as this, with the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, Roger Waters and Neil Young.

But that will be the expectation. What kind of festival or acts can they attract that will draw 80,000 for a weekend, but also appeal to the older demographics with more disposable cash as Desert Trip has.

What it will be missing is the once-in-a-lifetime feel.

Some of the big-name acts that come to mind that could fill the shoes of this Desert Trip are Bruce Springsteen, U2, maybe even Foo Fighters.

It will be interesting which direction Goldenvoice will go.

CAN THIS FORMAT CONTINUE: The initial buzz was so great that they added the second weekend just minutes before tickets went on sale to meet the demand and they sold out both weekend with in a few hours.

The Empire Polo Grounds is a huge venue and even before Weekend 2, there were reports of tickets reselling well below market price.

So trying to do this format of just two acts each night might not be something maintainable. How many acts could fit the bill? I really can’t think of many remaining.

Not sure if Goldenvoice would try to do something similar to Coachella, especially since it would have to compete for acts with Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas and Austin City Limits in Texas around the same time.

WHY IS THERE ONLY ONE MERCHANDISE TENT?: So I was annoyed that the lines were always so long around the merchandise tent. The one day I went to the tent, I had to wait an hour.

The merchandise was great, and I would have bought more if the lines weren’t so insane. Looking at the other side of the equation, how much money did Goldenvoice and the acts lose out on?

Here are some thoughts.

  1. They need more merchandise tents and spread them out a little.
  2. Create an area where fans can window shop a little to see sizes and how the clothes will fit. It’s a drag to be in line while people are trying on different shirts. But you can’t blame them either.

The merchandise is also becoming a problem at Coachella. This year, I couldn’t get in to really look at stuff.

Now a look back at Desert Trip



It was a special night to catch Dylan because he was named the Nobel Prize winner earlier in the week.

Dylan sounded great.

But I’m not a diehard fan of his. It was disappointing there was no interaction with the fans, and the video cameras could only shoot his back.

Now this is par for course for Dylan. His fans accept it.

The highlight of the set was “Like A Rolling Stone,” which I learned later he hadn’t played much live in recent years.

A nice part of Dylan’s act was actually after he finished, as Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney gave him a shout out for his Nobel Prize.



This was a bucket list concert for me.

The Rolling Stones are a big-ticket concert, but the prize combined with the dates have made it tough for me to catch them over the years.

So when they came on, the goose bumps appeared.

And Jagger had the line of the weekend. “Welcome to the ‘Catch Them Before They Croak’ festival.”

The energy when the Stones played was phenomenal.

One of my favorite songs is “Paint It Black,” which I heard they didn’t play Weekend One.

For years, Mick has been the standard other lead singers have been judged by. At Desert Trip, Jagger showed why this standard is so high, and so unattainable for so many.



Outside of “Keep On Rocking In The Free World,” I’m not really that familiar with Young. I know he was the Young in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, but I never gravitated towards his music.

But this was a tremendous set and a lot of fun.

Now, he passed out some marijuana seeds, but I wasn’t close enough to get any, so that had no influence on this review.

One of the big moments during Young’s set was when he sang “Harvest Moon” during the full moon rising above the stage. It’s just one of those magical moments.



I saw the legendary Beatle in 2009, and McCartney just continues to amaze me with how good he is live.

I have this weird thing where I take McCartney for granted. I grew up with the Beatles music, studied it through junior high and high school, and always loved it.

Prior to the shows, I just think it will be OK. During the shows, I’m blown away.

McCartney also presented a Coachella moment when he brought out Rhianna, “The Empress of Barbados,” for their collaboration “FourFiveSeconds.” I just kept thinking, how did I miss this song? It was a fantastic song during an amazing moment. I did think that maybe McCartney might bring Kanye West out as well, but it didn’t happen.

Like he did the week before, McCartney also brought Neil Young to join him for two more songs. Another goosebump moment to see two legends together.

The big spectacular of McCartney’s set is the fireworks display during “Live and Let Die.” This time, it was accompanied with videos of Buckingham Palace blowing up in a “Independence Day” type of destruction. My joke is, who would have thought the crescendo of McCartney’s set would be built around a Wings song?

When McCartney plays, you are guaranteed a tremendous show. And I just thing we’re blessed that he’s carrying on the Beatles legacy in such grand fashion. And Wings’ legacy too.



This was the other bucket list concert for me. I love the Who, and I really love Pete Townshend.

To me, they were the most dangerous band in the festival, although most of the damage they’ve done was in the 60s. Weather it was Townshend smashing a guitar or setting off explosives to destroy the drums and Keith Moon’s hearing, the Who brings a certain edge.

These guys did not disappoint, even though no one got hurt and nothing got destroyed, from what I could tell.

This was the end of the tour, and with the magnitude of the event, I thought Townshend might destroy a guitar again. And at the end of their set, there was an anticipation they might. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

They had talked about maybe not touring anymore, but with their energy and electric performance, I hope that’s not the case.



So I grew up near the University of Arizona, the planetarium would always have a weekend laser light show and it was always to Pink Floyd. It was very popular with all my stoner friends.

I was surprised Waters would close Desert Trip. A friend and I thought it should have been the Who.

But Waters put on a spectacular show, with amazing sound system and a huge production.

At one point, Waters brought out that famous pig, which had sentiment opposing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. During “The Wall,” it crashed in my section and chaos ensued as people tore apart the pig. I was happy to say I got my own piece of the pig.

Politically, it appeared many fans agreed with Waters. There was an elderly lady who wore a red hat that said, “Make America Mexico Again,” and was taking pictures with many fans at the merchandise tent.


Jay Dobyns on going from football to working undercover for the ATF

By Leighton Ginn

On a fall afternoon, Jay Dobyns talks about his college football career and his undercover work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as if there was no difference in both jobs.

The way Dobyns sees it, both job comes down to a willingness to put yourself in danger for the common good.

But outsiders looking in might have trouble seeing the commonality of the two job because of the degrees of danger Dobyns faced.

At the University of Arizona in the mid-80s, Dobyns was a possession receiver who routinely went over the middle to catch big third-down passes to keep drives alive, despite being laid out in front of bone-crushing linebackers.

All Sports Tucson.com listed Dobyns as the No. 1 offensive player in its list titled, “Top 10 badasses in Arizona Wildcats football in Pac 10/12 era.”

All Sports Tucson’s “Badass” list

Former Arizona coach Larry Smith said of Dobyns in a 1984 Arizona Daily Star article, “every Saturday a kid who barely weighs 170 pounds dripping wet goes over the middle for us. I know this Jay is a tough, reckless, S.O.B. After games, he looks like he’s been run over by a train. I personally think he enjoys taking the defenses’ best shot just so he can get up and laugh at them.”

Dobyns’ attitude served him well when he entered the next phase of his life after his playing career. And the danger he faced was amped up.  

For 27 years, Dobyns went after this country’s most violent criminals while working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). For two years, Dobyns infiltrated the Hells Angels’ motorcycle gang. His work became the material for his 2009 New York Times bestselling book, “No Angel.”

To purchase Dobyns’ book “No Angel” on Amazon

“I think my career as a receiver and my career as an undercover agent are identical. There’s really no difference,” Dobyns said. “You have the fear in place, and then what is your reaction to it. Are you courageous? Are you not courageous? Will you go over the middle, focus on the football and make the catch? Will you go face-to-face with a murderer or a rapist or someone you know who is capable of killing you? It’s the same but different.”


While going up the middle, Dobyns could suffer a concussion from a high hit, or injure his knees on low hits. And during Dobyns’ days, he would face the likes of All-American linebackers like Mike Singletary at Baylor and Ron Rivera of Cal.

That was where the jeopardy ends.

After Dobyns’ work was revealed after his two-years with the Hells Angels, he’s faced death threats to himself and some unspeakable threats to his wife and two kids. There were contracts out on his life from the Hells Angels and the Aryan Brotherhood to name a few.

At one point, Dobyns’ home was burned down while his family were there. Luckily, Dobyns’ family escaped with just inhalation injuries.

For Dobyns, he was always willing to do what was best for the common good.

“It’s more of a willingness. I think for me, that was what I was best at. I don’t know if I was ever that good of a receiver or if I ever was that good of an undercover operator. But I was willing. I was willing to try,” Dobyns said. “I had one prayer as an undercover operator. It was, ‘God, please put me in the path of the most vile, despicable, violent predator that you can find out there and let me see if there’s something I can do about that. Let me see if I can make an impact.’ It goes back to willingness. I don’t know if I was going to be successful, I didn’t even know if I would be good at it. But I was willing to try.”

“I had one prayer as an undercover operator. It was, ‘God, please put me in the path of the most vile, despicable, violent predator that you can find out there and let me see if there’s something I can do about that. Let me see if I can make an impact.’” — Jay Dobyns


Dobyns grew up in Tucson, Ariz., and became a star receiver at Sahuaro High School. Although Dobyns was a thin receiver that lacked breakaway speed, he had sure hands and was willing to go over the middle. In the modern game, he would essentially be a 170-pound tight end, but taking similarly devastating hits.

At first, Dobyns passed on his hometown Arizona to sign with Arkansas after a sales pitch from coach Lou Holtz.

“I fell in love with Lou Holtz for all the right reasons,” Dobyns said. “I got out there and realized that I wouldn’t be successful or thrive in a run-based offense. So I ended up coming back to Arizona, which had a more dynamic pass offense. You had a dynamic, open mentality on the West Coast than you did in the (Southwest) Conference at that time.”

The Wildcats team was full of talent, including future NFL stars, like the Denver Broncos’ Vance Johnson and Ricky Hundley, as well as Chuck Cecil.

Arizona was a team on probation from earlier transgression, but the Wildcats reached some of the program’s largest highs while Dobyns played. Among the milestones was a victory over Notre Dame in South Bend, the start of an undefeated streak against rival Arizona State that spanned nine years, beating John Elway’s Stanford team, No. 3 UCLA and earning a No. 3 national ranking, which was the best in Arizona’s history at the time. In Dobyns’ final two years, he was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention receiver.

“It was a blessing for me to come back home and play for coach Smith and play for my hometown fans,” Dobyns said.  


After graduating, Dobyns went to the NFL combines, where he worked out with Jerry Rice and Andre Reed. It only took 10 minutes for Dobyns to realize he wasn’t ready for that level.

Dobyns did play a season for the USFL’s Arizona Outlaws with Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams and former UCLA quarterback and coach Rick Neuheisel.

Dobyns also had a workout with the Chicago Bears, but coach Mike Ditka said he was 10 years too late. 

When Dobyns accepted his career was over, he needed to thing about what to do next.  

One thing that influenced Dobyns was the hit television series, “Miami Vice,” where he decided to try a life undercover.



 “I thought, ‘man, I might not be a good enough football player to play in the league, but I could be Sonny Crockett,’” Dobyns said about actor Don Johnson’s character in “Miami Vice.” “’I can wear silk suits and drive around South Beach in a Lamborghini. I can do that. I can be that guy.’”

Four days into the job, Dobyns was shot in the back, and the bullet went through his lungs and out through his chest.

Dobyns survived the near death experience more invigorated to work for ATF and would become an undercover cop.

Dobyns would work 27 years for the ATF, and his undercover work would draw comparisons to Joseph D. Pistone, the real life agent the movie “Donnie Brasco” is based on.

But his work was never as glamorous as what was portrayed on “Miami Vice.”

“The silk suits in reality are cutoff camos, a wife beater and flip flops,” Dobyns said. “The Lamborghini is a 1982 Malibu with the doors frozen closed for my government car. And South Beach was a trailer park. My drug kingpins were guys sitting at a bar that didn’t have two nickels to rub together to buy their next beer.

“So the glamour and sexiness that’s portrayed of the undercover profession by Hollywood and television is very much unlike the truth.”


To go undercover, Dobyns also did an overhaul of his personal appearance. While playing for Arizona, he had floppy blonde hair and looked like a surfer.

“I think my image on the team and in the community was the cold milk and Oreos guy,” Dobyns said. “I so wanted to be Nick Nolte in “North Dallas Forty.” I wanted to have the long, blonde hair and I was the possession, control receiver and I loved that. I loved the Fred Biletnikoff, Steve Largent world that sacrificed themselves and gave of themselves for the greater good.

“That look was too soft for the world I entered. It was too sissy. You are dealing with really hard, violent men who have their PhD’s in intimidation. So I had to stop being cute, and get dirty and nasty so I could keep up and be accepted.”

You are dealing with really hard, violent men who have their PhD’s in intimidation. So I had to stop being cute, and get dirty and nasty so I could keep up and be accepted.” — Jay Dobyns

While Dobyns’ work with the Hells Angels was the highest profile he worked on, there were other cases of note during Dobyns’ career.

On a fall afternoon, Dobyns recounts another case in his career for the television series “Deep Undercover.” Dobyns and his partner was busting a suspect who was purchasing enough C4 explosives to blow up three Las Vegas casinos. Dobyns points out the C4 was in the room as the other agents busted in to arrest the suspect.

The case was in the wake of the Timothy McVeigh bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Today, Dobyns life has slowed down. He coaches high school football and follows his son, who is playing college football.

With Dobyns’ success in the ATF and his best-selling book, he’s frequently doing public speaking and media interviews. Recently, he did an in-depth interview with Pac-12 Network’s Mike Yam for his iTunes podcast “Give Me A Sense.”

Go to Give Me A Sense. Jay Dobyns’ interview is Episode 24

But Dobyns’ life still has a hint of danger. During his interview with Yam, Dobyns said he still lives in the house that burned down. Dobyns also pointed out with Yam that he doesn’t have the kind of witness protection that criminals like former mob underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano has.

 “There’s active contracts out there that are still floating around in the criminal sphere,” Dobyns said. “But who wants to fill it? I don’t hide, I don’t go into situations I shouldn’t be in. I don’t want a problem. I’ll avoid a problem. I’ll walk away from a problem, I’ll run away from a problem to avoid it.

“Don’t corner me, because if you corner me, we’re going to have a problem. You know what, if you hurt me, we’re all going to get hurt. You want to come get me, we’re all going to the hospital. That’s my mentality. But I don’t want that. To be honest, I think they’ve become bored with me.”

For more on Jay Dobyns

Dolly Parton, wholesome and tawdry, but completely fantastic in Hollywood


By Leighton Ginn

I’ve always loved Dolly Parton, but I love her even more after catching her in concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night, Oct. 1.

The experience is unexpected because I’m not really a country music fan. I’m not a hater of country music, but I usually don’t gravitate towards that genre, even though there’s a ton of songs I do love that are country.

But Parton is a legend, and I’m also a fan of her as a movie star, especially 9 to 5, as well as the song.

I figured I was there to hear a few songs, and it will be a great night. But the entire show was fantastic. I knew many more songs than I thought. And it’s funny, you always know pieces of her career, but for me, it was great to see her perform all her hits.

Parton has a new CD out called “Pure & Simple,” which will be full of new favorites, including the title track.

What makes the show so fantastic was Parton and her storytelling between songs. She can be tawdry and wholesome all at the same time.

Early on, Parton shared her famous line, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” There was the story of how she was so enamored with the town trollop. When a young Parton asked about the girl, some of the local women called her trash. “Then I want to be trash.”

In addition to the fun stories, there were incredibly sweet tributes to her parents, her family and growing up in Tennessee.

One thing Parton has done is create the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to help provide books for children. It’s an idea inspired by Parton’s father.


What is also amazing about Parton is her voice. When you take a second to realize she’s 71 and she sounds this good? Wow.

The concert also reminded me of what a fantastic songwriter Parton is. Everyone knows her biggest hit was “I Will Always Love You,” which also became the signature hit for Whitney Houston.

But there was also a Nora Jones song, and Jolene has been one of the most covered songs around.

On top of her banter and singing, Parton is multifaceted, playing guitar, banjo, fiddle and sax.

One of the songs I forgot that Parton is so famous for is Rocky Top. When she was telling her stories about her family in Tennessee, I was looking up to see, ‘Didn’t she sing Rocky Top?” Low and behold, she did. And it still gives me goosebumps.

For the Palm Springs area, we are the home of Coachella, and it’s country counter part Stagecoach.

It makes you wonder why she hasn’t headlined Stagecoach just yet, especially after selling out the Hollywood Bowl on two consecutive nights.

And having Parton play Hollywood has its own unique charm to it, as there were several guys dressed as Dolly. Word of advice to one or two, you might want to shave your legs, just in case you get to meet Parton.









My Arnold Palmer stories from the Bob Hope Classic



By Leighton Ginn

There are a few things I remember about Arnold Palmer from my days of covering the Bob Hope Classic celebrity field.

I hadn’t grown up with golf, so when I started covering the tournament, some of the tradition and lure was lost on me.

That was until I saw Palmer finishing his round in 2001 at PGA West. The 71-year-old Palmer shot a 71 that day, matching his age. As he approached the final hole and sank his putt, there was an ovation so large that it always stuck with me.

The top of my head, the ovation reminded me of when Robert Horry sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Sacramento Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference. It was that kind of energy and excited me, and on a golf course, nonetheless.

I never knew that was possible in golf until Palmer.


Most of the time I interviewed Palmer, he was very classy, but sheepish with his answers. He was guarded, and there was nothing that really stuck out to me.

That’s why this next memory stood out, because it was so unexpected.

On the driving range before a round, John Daly made his way. It looked like either he just rolled out of bed and came straight to the driving range, or he didn’t sleep the night before.

The other thing that really stood out was that Daly had this gigantic Big Gulp with him. I think it was 8 a.m., or around that time.

I happened to be within hearing distance when Palmer approached him and said, “You look sweet.”

My jaw dropped trying to figure out if I really heard what I thought I heard. But Palmer said what we all thought in such a fun and playful way. That’s when I really understood the Palmer charm that people of all generations loved and respected The King.

But I always did take a cue from Palmer and his fans. The main writer for the Bob Hope Classic was Larry Bohannan, and I was just one of his minion. So whenever I introduced myself, it was always a good idea to have an association with Bohannan.

So I would tell people, “You know how Arnie has his Army? I’m one of Larry’s Lackeys.




Umami Seoul is a welcome addition to the neighborhood



By Leighton Ginn

I used to joke that the Chinatown, or Asian population base, in the Palm Springs area was the casinos and the outlet malls, since those places bused people from Los Angeles.

That was reflected in the choices of Asian restaurants around here. There were a bunch of Thai restaurants, and Thai Kitchen in Cathedral City was my go to.

But over the years, there’s been many more Asian options than I could remember, which makes me happy.

The newest addition is really from an old friend. Umami Seoul took over the spot where Thai Kitchen used to be — across the street from Trader Joe’s in the Target shopping center.

The owners of Wasabi in Downtown Palm Springs sold their business earlier this year. The owner said she was ready to retire, but a few months later, started to look for another business to open.

Thus we have Umami Seoul, which has all the great sushi you’ve come to expect from Wasabi. It’s not just sushi, but a full Japanese menu.


It’s not exclusively a Japanese restaurant, as evidenced by the name. They also wanted to add Korean dishes to give customers a pretty loaded menu.

For my maiden trip, I decided to go pass on the sushi, which wasn’t easy to do, and try a Korean dish and some of the appetizers.

I started with the basic appetizers of pot stickers and the shrimp egg rolls.

Both were very good in the traditional sense. For me, traditional is good.

For the main dish, I tried the Bi Bim Bap, a rice bowl that had beef, veggies and a fried egg with a spicy sauce that was really flavorful.


The dish also came with your traditional Korean side dishes, including kimchi. Nothing was super spicy, and I didn’t ask for it to be spicier. But it was all good.


Sitting next to me, several people got the Korean BBQ. I have only been to the ones where you grill your own meat. This one, the food came on sizzling plates, much like you would expect from fajitas.

When I looked at the menu, there are several other dishes I want to try, including the ramen for when it gets colder. Pho is great, but I’m more of a ramen guy.

The owner told me she just wanted to open something small. Umami Seoul is a small spot, but I think they’re going to be a hot ticket in the Coachella Valley very quickly.


Address: 67555 E. Palm Canyon Dr. #A-105, Cathedral City

Phone number: (760) 202-0144

Website: http://www.umamiseoul.com






Aspen Mills a favorite among locals in Palm Springs


By Leighton Ginn

Since moving to Palm Springs in 1999, Aspen Mills stands out for its high quality and consistently tasty treats.

On the corner of Ramon and Sunrise, Aspen Mills (555 S. Sunrise) offers great sandwiches and tasty salads. It’s been a great option for lunch, especially if you want fresh and creative breads.

It was a favorite of my coworkers. The only issues is they close at 6:30 p.m. and they are not open on Sundays. it’s difficult for a night owl like me, but when I make it out there, it’s well worth it.

Pictured above is the Prime Cut, a roast beef sandwich with horseradish, tomatoes, zucchini slices, red onions and mayo on dark Squaw bread. Delicious and it never disappoints.

The other sandwiches are also good, so much so that it’s difficult to make a decision. I had to also consider the Aspen and Newporter.

The Aspen is a turkey sandwich with cucumbers, red onion, lettuce, mayo, horseradish and guacamole on cranberry spice bread. The Newporter is a chunky white albacore tuna salad sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and celery on jalapeno cheddar bread.

For the vegetarians, Aspen also offers the Coachella, which includes pepper jack cheese, sprouts, guacamole, lettuce, red onions, homemade salsa, olive oil and cilantro on nine grain bread.


What makes Aspen Mills special is that it bakes its own breads daily, with so much variety. I was always a fan of the banana and nine-grain bred. The Squaw was unique and delicious.


And we can’t forget the treats. The brownies are rich and delicious. The carrot raisin bran muffins are so good.

In addition to the main bakery, Aspen Mills can be found inside the Rancho Mirage library (71-100 HWY 111) and Clark’s Nutrition (34175 Monterey) also in Rancho Mirage. All locations ae closed on Sundays.

For more information, you can go to http://www.aspenmillsps.com/index.html






Why do some people think Serena Williams career is over after the year she’s had?


Watching the ESPN talk shows and many were ready to declare Serena Williams’ career over, or she might not win another major, etc.

It always seems to happen to all the great players when they suffer an upset loss and they are over 30-something.

Williams lost her semifinal match to Karolina Pliskova, who is No. 11 in the world and might have the biggest weapons on the WTA Tour, outside the Williams sisters.

But the overanalyzing of Williams began soon after the match.

So here’s my take on a few of the issues.

  1. HER DAYS OF DOMINATION ARE OVER: When the new rankings come out Monday, Williams will be No. 2 behind Angelique Kerber. This year, Williams reached the finals of the Australian, French and Wimbledon and the semifinals of the US Open. She won Wimbledon. And ask yourself, is there a player on the WTA Tour you would make a favorite over Williams? Kerber will be No. 1, but I still don’t think I would favor her over Williams just yet.
  2. WILLIAMS’ BEST DAYS ARE BEHIND HER: I felt this last year, when she completed the Serena Slam for the second time. Williams is not the same player she has been, but to her credit, she has evolved her game. She’s gone from intimidating power player to more of a cerebral assassin. What hasn’t changed is Williams’ fierce competitive nature. On the WTA Tour, no player really has elevated to Williams level, and the ones who have haven’t maintained it until Kerber. But it remains to see how long Kerber can keep up this level, and if some other players can rise.
  3. AGE HAS TO CATCH UP WITH HER: Williams turns 35 later this month, which is old for tennis players. Her shoulder hurt was an issue in the Rio Olympics and now her knee was giving her problems. This could be the most legitimate threat to her career. But for right now, we don’t know the extent of these injuries. But Williams says she plays for the majors, so we could easily see her take the rest of the year and relinquish the year-end No. 1 ranking to Kerber, rather than chase her. Williams has proven she doesn’t need a good seed to win a tournament, so she could lighten her schedule and still contend for majors.

In tennis, there is this desire to declare someone’s career over prematurely. When Pete Sampras went on a two-year slump, they thought he was done until he won the US Open. People thought Roger Federer was through last year because he hadn’t won a major since the 2012 Wimbledon, but he was No. 2 in the world and reached the finals of the US Open and Wimbledon.

We don’t always know when it’s over for a great player. But there should be real evidence. Although there will be a change at the top, Williams is still at the top of the tour.

Unless there’s something more, I anticipate Williams will be back next year contending for major titles and the No. 1 ranking.




Could Novak Djokovic lose out on Player of the Year honors in a year he completes the Grand Slam?


In a year where Novak Djokovic became the first player to win all four Grand Slam titles, there is a possibility that he could lose out on Player of the Year honors.

It’s unlikely, but plausible.

What makes is plausible is the way Andy Murray is playing of late. If Murray captures the US Open, then he will have a stronger case.

Currently Murray has a Wimbledon title and reached the finals of the Australian and French Opens, both of which Djokovic won. Then you throw in the Olympic gold medal, that’s an incredibly strong year.

What might give Murray an edge is how Djokovic had done at Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Djokovic lost in the third round at the All England Club to No. 41 Sam Querrey and the first round in Rio, although he did lose to the eventual silver medalist in Juan Martin Del Potro, who is currently No. 141 in the rankings.

It’s been a draining year for Djokovic, who has played at a superior level for an incredibly long time. But since the award is for accomplishments since January, he could be leaving the door open for Murray.

It won’t be easy for Murray. He would have to win the US Open, and he has never won two majors in the same season (depending on how you rank an Olympic gold medal). And the US Open is the most grueling Slam.

Now if Murray does win the US Open, that might still not be enough to surpass Djokovic.

In Masters 1000 events, Djokovic has won four of six events. Murray has won just one, but did reach two finals.

How much the Masters 1000 events count into Player of the Year honors, I’m not sure, but these are significant tournaments.

And there is also the ATP finals in November. If Murray can win that, then people will have to look closely.

So US Open and ATP Finals titles, and with Djokovic still playing high-level tennis, is a huge mountain for Murray to climb.

But it is also possible.


How 1968 Olympians George Foreman and John Carlos influenced champion boxer Timothy Bradley


By Leighton Ginn

George Foreman said he has been impressed with the career of WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, comparing him to legend Jersey Joe Walcott, and thought he was a boxer who came out of nowhere.

But Foreman didn’t realize that he had actually met Bradley early in his career.

In 2005, Foreman had flown out to California to do a favor for his 1968 U.S. Olympic teammate, sprinter John Carlos, who was a counselor at Palm Springs High School. During an event, Carlos had asked Foreman to take time out to talk to his friend Ray’s son, who happened to be Bradley.

When told of that event, Foreman remembered talking to Carlos’ friend who was a boxer. He just never realized it was Bradley.

“That’s who that was?” Foreman said during a telephone interview. “I didn’t realize that was Timothy Bradley at all.

“What a small world. Man alive.”

It is the friendship between Carlos and Ray Bradley that made the meeting possible for Tim Bradley and memorable for Foreman.

Back in 1968, Foreman was just a 19-year-old boxer with a lot of talent but little experience. Carlos was a world record holder in the 200 meters and one of the biggest personalities on the U.S team.  He was also a man Foreman looked up to.

Once the Olympics began, both athletes were busy preparing for their events and wouldn’t have time to catch up. They made a deal they would meet a few days after the Olympics to share their experiences.

“It was the day after the Olympics we were going to meet and go over what happened in our lives,” Foreman said.

“We didn’t get to actually sit and chat.”

John Carlos and George Foreman: Contrasting images, lasting friendship

Carlos won a bronze medal in the 200 while U.S. teammate Tommie Smith won the gold. At the awards stand, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised their gloved fists during the national anthem to protest the lack of civil rights for people of color.

Afterwards, Carlos and Smith were ostracized and thrown out of the Olympic Village. Both were booked on the next flight back to America.


Days later, Foreman would win his gold medal as a boxing heavyweight. Immediately winning the gold medal, Foreman would pull out a small American flag that he would wave in celebration.

For many, Foreman’s celebration was interpreted as a response to Carlos and Smith’s protest. Foreman said that wasn’t the case.

Foreman said his flag waving was not a statement to contrast what Carlos and Smith had done. As a 19-year-old, Foreman had fulfilled a dream and he wanted to celebrate and show his patriotism.

“There I am, winning a gold medal, and I got to make sure everyone knew where I’m from,” Foreman said “In my ignorance, if I don’t raise this flag, they wouldn’t know where I’m from.”

Because the perception was Foreman was protesting Smith and Carlos, he encountered his own backlash. It became evident when he returned home to Houston.

“I’m a happy boy and I’m wearing my gold medal everywhere, the grocery store, everywhere. I didn’t take it off,” Foreman said. “One guy comes to me, and he was a neighbor for years and I knew him. He said, ‘How could you do what you did when the brothers were doing their thing?’ I didn’t understand what he was talking about, I really didn’t understand.

“Later on, I heard more about it and what the media was saying about it. I got a little mean about it and no one said anything about it again. I was waiting for it with a left-right. I wasn’t going to hear anything like that.”

The backlash would form Foreman’s surly and intimidating persona when he turned pro.

Foreman would ascend to the heavyweight boxing title and forged a legendary career, beating Joe Frazier for the title, losing the title to Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle and the Rope a Dope strategy.

In his second part of his career, the kinder and gentler Foreman become the oldest heavyweight champion at 47 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994.

Outside of the ring, Foreman became one of the country’s most successful businessman with his Foreman Grill.

Carlos faced his own backlash.  He regularly received death threats and was constantly followed by the FBI. In his book, “The John Carlos Story,” he said the harassment and constant surveillance put a strain on his family life that he separated from his first wife Kim.

The lowest point, according to Carlos in his book, was a moment he was so lonely from the isolation that he asked the agent who was following him if he would like to share a cup of coffee one night.

By 1989, at the urging of his kids during a detour on a road trip, Carlos had moved to Palm Springs, Calif. What was supposed to be a short stopover became his home for over 20 years. Carlos raised his kids and worked for the Palm Springs Unified School District as an in-school suspension supervisor and a coach.

It was through his job he forged a friendship with Ray Bradley, who was a security guard for the district.

“Ray was always a true grit-type of guy,” Carlos said. “What I like about Ray, he’s a man’s man. He’s a damn good father to his kids, he’s good to his woman. He has loyalty to his staff, loyalty to his job, loyal to his wife and kids and loyal to his friends. It was a rare quality at that time. It might still be a rare quality today.”

Ray Bradley said he was 5-years old when Carlos made his protest. When he saw it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Ray Bradley said he didn’t understand the protest because he was so young, but developed an appreciation as he got older.

“That was a very powerful statement Mr. Carlos made in Mexico City,” Ray Bradley said. “Growing up at a young age I didn’t know what was going on. I saw a lot of racial tension and we just wanted equal.”

It was during those hot, lazy days in the Palm Springs desert when Carlos would share his experience of what happened after Mexico City.

“The stories he tells me, I go, ‘I don’t know how you are still here,’” Ray Bradley said. “Everyone wanted to hurt you for making a statement like that. He told me there was death threats, getting banned from the Olympics, kicked him out and sent him home.

“Then he goes, ‘They killed my first wife.’ Oh, that’s some heavy stuff.”

Carlos’ first wife Kim had committed suicide in 1977.


Feared and respected


There is a legend of Carlos that still stands today, Ray Bradley said.

Carlos had caught two kids ditching. When Carlos found them, they made a run for it, figuring they had several years on this middle-aged teacher and a few blocks head start. The student didn’t realize he was once one of the fastest men on the planet.

“He said, ‘Mr. Carlos ran me down. I had blocks on him and he smoked me. I thought it was a ghost,’” Ray Bradley remembered from the student. “He still had speed. As a mid-aged person, he still had speed.”

The kid asked who was the old man who ran him down. Carlos told the kid that if he was in class instead of ditching, he might learn who he was.

The kid would find Carlos in a history book.

But a young Timothy Bradley knows Carlos as a family friend.

He was a friend until Bradley got in trouble one day.

Mouthing off in class, Bradley was sent to Carlos by his teacher.

Bradley said he was scared.

“John Carlos didn’t pull any punches. He told you like it was. Don’t nobody want to hear the truth,” Bradley said. “That’s the reason why I was scared, I was scared about what he had to say.”

When Bradley walked into Carlos’ classroom, he said what he feared came true.

“I walked in, ‘What are you doing in here young blood? What are you doing in here? You don’t belong in here. Sit down. Get a magazine and write me an essay,’” Bradley remembered. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I doing in here?’ He was loud, he didn’t care if he hurt my feelings. He was real, and it was felt.”

At first, Carlos gave a different version of the incident.

“He was a pretty reserved kid,” Carlos said in a telephone conversation from his home in Georgia. “That wasn’t his style. My thing was to cheer him up, pick him up and make him feel good about who he is.”

When Carlos was told Bradley said he was yelled at and felt intimidated, Carlos quickly replied, “I scare them all when they first come in my room because I don’t want them coming back. That’s my stamp there.”

Bradley’s father was well aware of Carlos’ reputation. So when Tim returned home and told his dad about what happened, there was no further punishment.

“He already had his punishment. John Carlos jumped down his throat,” Ray Bradley said. “I didn’t have to do anything but give him that eye. ‘Do something again, I’m going to put something on you. I might have to go to jail, so don’t do it again.’”

Tim Bradley said he didn’t get in trouble again.

Carlos said he would see Ray in the weight room, and was mesmerized by how hard he worked. It was as if he was bonding with the weights.

“I think he transferred that work ethic to his son when he was a baby and embedded this in them. Never say quit, never say die,” Carlos said. “It was a commitment all around. You truly had to be committed. When you see the momma and daddy get up early with their boy at 5 a.m. and have him training, they must have had a goal in mind. They had a program to reach that goal.”

And through the years, Carlos said he would see that same kind of commitment from Bradley.

“His work ethic is the same today as it was as a kid, because he would get up and run all over the desert. I used to see him out there on the road and I’d just be smiling,” Carlos said. “When I would see him now, I would picture a little boy running in the morning. He never went away from the foundation his parents gave him.

“You could see his determination when he fights people. He fights guys taller than him, heavier then him and he goes through them like they’re a piece of cardboard.”

For more on John Carlos, go to his website

So when Carlos was contacted by Foreman in 2005, it was the first time they had spoken since the 1968 Olympics. In Carlos’ mind, he wanted Foreman to meet Tim.

Palm Springs High School was planning an event for Black History Month. Carlos asked Foreman if he could show up. Because it was a last-minute request, Foreman chartered a private jet to make sure he could fulfill the request.

“He said, he’s coming, He’s coming, so bring your son. I want him to meet him because he’s a great man, a great person. Whatever he can tell him, he could use it. Your son will be big one day. He needs to hear from Big George,” Ray Bradley said.

When Foreman arrived, he was busy meeting people all day before his speech. But Carlos made sure the Bradleys were backstage, so when Foreman was through talking, they could meet.

“Meeting him, it’s how a champion should be. He was very charismatic,” Tim Bradley said. “It was an honor to actually meet him, especially early in my career. It gave me someone to look up to, someone to be like. It showed me how a top former fighter from a different generation or era was and how he carried himself.”

While the day was a whirlwind for Foreman, he said meeting the Bradleys stuck out because Carlos made them a priority. And then what Foreman saw also stuck with him, and that was Tim with Ray and his mom Kathleen.

“You meet a lot of boxers, and they come up with their trainer or manager or promoter. Very rarely do they come with their family,” Foreman said. “It makes them different, that they have people who love and care for him.

“That’s what I remember, he had people who loved and cared for him. That’s why I poured out the information.”

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a story that ran in April.


Andy Roddick will have his New York moment in World Team Tennis


By Leighton Ginn


When Andy Roddick makes his return to World Team Tennis for the 2016 season, it will be in a place he never played but in a state where he had his biggest moments.

Roddick will play for the New York Empire at Forrest Hills, the longtime home of the US Open, on Aug. 9. The next day, the Empire will travel to take on the Philadelphia Freedom which will complete the season for Roddick, who is also part of the WTT ownership group.

Playing in New York is the highlight for Roddick, given his history in the Empire State.

“I feel like I’ve grown up in front of New York,” Roddick said. “I played doubles there for the first time in a pro tournament when I was 15 to retiring there and playing my last match in 2012. I had the highest of highs, and lowest of lows.

“But I just love New York. The fans are so fair all the time. If you give them everything you have, they’re going to give you everything they have. Conversely, if you play like a schmuck, they’re going to let you know about it. I’ve always kind of appreciated the honesty of the New York sports fan.”

Roddick said he has always been a fan of the unique style of WTT, and is always happy to participate. He believes the pacing is what makes it so exciting for the fans.

“Everything is quicker, faster, more in-your-face,” Roddick said. “The one-set matches keep your attention, or demand your attention during the 2-3 hours. I always liked it. It feels like the players are more interactive based on the format. It’s something I enjoyed when playing.”

Roddick also attributes World Team Tennis to his progression as a professional, while the format also provides something exciting for the fans. So when he was approached about investing in the league, Roddick said it was a no brainer.

“Anytime you’re approached by someone on the iconic level of Billie Jean King, especially in the role she’s played and how important she’s been in the game of tennis, you always want to listen,” Roddick said. “We’ve had a great relationship for a long time. Her presence in this league and my memory of this league and the opportunity it gave me.

“I was 17 and had no ranking, kind of just trying to break through in the pro ranks when they let me play for the team in Boise, Idaho at the time. That experience of playing professionals day in and day out in a three-week sequence during the summer was a huge part of my development. It felt like something that was good to be apart of.”