This story was originally published in Scene on 4/7/2004. Abram Elam is now the safety for the Browns. Back then, he was struggling to make a claim to meaningful playing time at Kent State after departing from South Bend for various reasons. From the shooting deaths of his siblings to his struggles on the field, it's well worth the read to find out just how Elam has gotten to where he is these days.
He was bound for football stardom until that night at Notre Dame. Now Abram Elam struggles for redemption at Kent.
By Rebecca Meiser
More than anything else, Abram Elam misses the way his name sounded over the loudspeaker at Notre Dame football games. When he would run onto the field or make a tackle, the announcer, tucked high away in the press box, would bellow out A-bram E-lam like it was money, like it was really worth something. And for a few moments afterward, the echo of the boy's name would continue to rise above the stadium, like a flag slowly being hoisted toward the sky.
"You know," Abram says now, nestled safe inside his coach's office, "I could sit and listen to that sound all day and never get sick of it." The boy sighs, crosses one beefy arm over another, and settles back into his chair.
Two years ago, Abram Elam was a reserve safety on the Notre Dame football team. At six foot one and 210 pounds, he was an astonishing specimen, built with a body that needed to move. His torso looked as if it were carved by a sculptor's hand; his calves bulged so that when he walked, it seemed as if he was hauling a pair of overinflated balloons with him. He was a highly touted sophomore then, expected to do great things for the Irish.
But doom, like an anxious bride, was about to unveil itself.
Todd Gallagher, the guy who wrote the Andy Roddick Beat Me With a Frying Pan; Taking the Field with Pro Athletes and Olympic Legends to Answer Sports Fans' Burning Questions contends that Shaq's new reality show is a rip-off, well, basically, stolen from him.
He's not the only one apparently.
Tuesday's debut, which featured Shaquille O'Neal taking on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
in football, was a tad long and a bit contrived. It became decidedly more interesting, though, when the credits rolled and this name popped up as one of the executive producers:
There's an interesting back story here, one that explains in part some of the fractured relationships that defined the Suns' struggles last season.
O'Neal stole Nash's idea.
Shortly after O'Neal was traded to the Suns in February 2008, Nash mentioned to his new teammate a reality show he was pursuing. It would feature the Suns point guard taking on professional athletes in their own sport.
The topic didn't come up again until early in the 2008-09 season, when O'Neal boarded the Suns bus and told the team he would be starring in a new reality show in which he would be taking on, you got it, professional athletes in their own sport.
"You mean the idea you stole from me?" one Suns representative said he heard Nash say.
Nash eventually sought out an entertainment lawyer, according to sources, which is why he now has an executive-producer credit and the compensation that comes with it.
In Shaq's defense, this isn't really the most original of ideas. BBC started a show decades back called "Superstars" that works on the same premise. Athletes challenging other athletes in their respective sports. It eventually made its way to America and ABC. Nash, Gallagher, and Shaq could all be said to be ripping off that original idea.
If the money and the executive producer credit makes Nash happy, then that should be the end of it. The fact that the network and Shaq gave him the producer credit at all also lends credence to the notion that Shaq really did rip him off, however.
From an upcoming episode of Shaq Vs., here's the Big Witness squaring off against Oscar De La Hoya in the ring. Looks like the big man can hold his own, though it does help when you're approximately 18 feet taller than your opponent.
That is one freaking gorgeous uniform. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. Not sure what I would do with it, other than look at it every once in awhile, but this will surely make someone's collection just that much more special.
Let's check the current bidding, shall we. And yes, the bidding stands at $325. 13 bids so far. Apparently it's in demand.
Still a bitchin' jersey, if you got the dough.
Forget for a moment all the joy, excitement, and delirious "Is this really happening!?!" swellings you would feel if you got to step on the court with LeBron james. Forget that you would immediately call all your friends afterwards and tell them what you just did. Forget that everything that ever happens in your life afterwards would be an unquestionable disappointment.
What if you hurt LeBron? Is it permissible to poke him in the stomach when he goes up for a jumpshot like you do to your friends during pick-up games?
These are all things I considered after getting a chance to run in a scrimmage against the reigning NBA MVP a couple of weeks ago. Well, it was a scrimmage in the very loosest sense of the word. There were teams, and points, and a game clock, but the players were media and blogger types, there were 2:00 minute halves, and... did I mention the players were media and blogger types? The game itself was little more than an excuse for a bunch of woefully unathletic people to run up and down the court chasing errant passes that had sailed out of bounds or shots that missed the basket completely.
Anyway, the point, without going into unnecessary detail, is that moments before the last scrimmage of the day for my team started, LeBron James walked over and decided to substitute himself in on the other team.
LeBron — muscles and muscles and Nike-this and Nike-that and muscles and Jesus Christ, that's LeBron James on the other team.
There was little time to think, since most of that precious time was spent staring at what The King can do even giving 1/100th, if that, of his usual effort. It was the fastest two minutes of my life, and as some girlfriends would bitterly remind me, I've had some fast two minutes. There was little time to do anything but attempt to avoid embarrassment. Which, I did not. (Cue girlfriend joke Part II.)
After climbing the ropes for a dominant, Rodman-esqure rebound (read: I got a loose ball when no one else was around) I turned to attempt a short, fade-away-ish jumper. Rejected. In the background I hear an "Ooooooo." Ball comes back into my hands. I go up again. Rejected again, by the same guy. And in the background, the same voice, that of LeBron James, again utters "Ooooooooo."
Nice. Memory for a lifetime.
Before I knew it, the clock had run from 2:00 down to less than 20 seconds and LeBron had the ball. He crossed half court, looked up, checked the clock, and backed away. Then a swarm of defenders came at him. OK, not really a swarm. We probably tripped over ourselves or otherwise awkwardly approached him, but still, the point was he was now being guarded by three or four people.
Like your father used to do when you were five, LeBron dribbled around and protected the ball as if we were all kids — smiling, playfully bringing the ball close enough to make us think we had a chance, then just as easily pulling it away and left us swiping at air.
The clock counted down: 6... 5... 4... 3...
And with an arm around his waist, another hand slapping his elbow, and — as my friend correctly guessed afterward — me attached firmly to his jock, LeBron let go a half-court jumpshot that was directly on line, but fell just a few inches short.
Afterward, there was the eerie Did That Just Happen Feeling. Then, a sobering and scary thought. There were two different occasion that LeBron drove to the hole and dunked over us underlings. What if I had accidentally tripped him and he tore his ACL? It's not beyond reason. I'm awkward, unskilled, and generally unaware of my surroundings.
What if the MVP, the sole chance for Cleveland to end its championship drought, the catalyst of the Cavs, was felled by a stray, pale, Polish ankle?
I think Steve Bartman would feel bad for me in that scenario. I think I'd be summarily quartered and buried under LeBron's personal barbershop in his mansion. I think one walk down any street in Cleveland and I would beg for such a merciful end.
No good options await in a fate like that.
Which is why it was for the best that when LeBron took off from the three point line and drove towards the hoop, that I politely moved out of the way. After all, if I rejected him, I didn't want King James to have to live with someone on the sideline exclaiming "Ooooooo." That shit sticks with you.
I wrote about these old Starter jackets last week because No Mas has partnered with Dee & Ricky to repurpose a whole bunch of them into gym bags — a pretty freaking sweet purchase if you have $300 around.
The Starter jackets themselves aren't exceedingly rare, but it isn't often you come across one in pretty good condition and in a size not meant for a midget, child, or Butterbean. This one's starting at a very reasonable $15.99.
We've all read about Shaq's new reality show. It starts with a competition against Big Ben tonight on ABC. The Big Witness has battled Albert Pujols in a home-run derby, paired up for sand volleyball against the gold-medal winning duo from the last Olympics, and will square off against Michael Phelps and more superstars for his reality show.
Surely the quotatious one promises exciting television — or at least as exciting as reality programming can get. But how high the ratings rise or how low they fall remains to be seen.
Shaq Vs. is on at 9 p.m. and is up against Big Brother 11, More to Love, and America's Got Talent on the other major networks — reality shows all. There's no football or MLB on nationally tonight (although there is the Little League World Series).
At that time slot, strong competition could come from "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" on Discovery Health, or "Daddy's Girls" on MTV, so we'll just have to wait and see.