One of the great defensive professional football players from the
past 44 years is Gino Marchetti of the Colts and one of his high school
coaches was Al Irwin, a former Newport Harbor High, Orange Coast College
and UC Irvine coach.
A one-time gridder under the famed Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg at College
of the Pacific, Irwin had the opportunity to coach Marchetti at Antioch
High School after World War II in Northern California.
Marchetti remains one of the most powerful players Irwin ever coached.
During those 44 years, only Marchetti and three other pro defensive
players have been honored as the NFL's Most Valuable Player. The balance
of the list finds 27 MVP honors going to quarterbacks and 12 for running
backs, but nary a one for any receiver.
The defensive picture was still looking slim until this year when this
corner's youngest boy, Dillon, put attention on one of his former college
mates at the University of New Mexico. His name is Brian Urlacher of the
If Urlacher doesn't make MVP this year chances are strong he will earn
the honor in the future, according to media railbirds.
Dillon, now a pre-law major at Arizona State, was once astonished at
the size of Urlacher's neck. Dillon and his brother, Jesse, once played
rugby for New Mexico's Logos.
Ulacher, who hails from a small New Mexico town named Lovington in the
Southeast, was an NFL "Rookie of the Year" last year and achieved
remarkable statistics this season in helping the Bears climb into the
A middle linebacker, Urlacher is a key defensive player, big on
tackling and QB sacks. He even caught a pass and scored a touchdown
"He's a real nice guy and gets along well with his teammates," Dillon
Another big name emerged recently out of a phone talk with Pilot
Sports Hall of Famer Al Muniz, a one-time All-Eastern Conference lineman
at Orange Coast College. Prior to that, Muniz was a 250-pound guard for
Newport under Irwin in 1948.
Muniz, 70, as once asked by athletic director Ralph Reed to appear
rearly at the Harbor High gym one night and open the doors for a noted
basketball team called the Harlem Clowns, who were slated to play a
harbor area team that evening.
The first representative of the Harlem team to appear was the "front
man" for the Clowns. Muniz soon became aware that he was talking with one
of the greatest all-time Olympians - Jesse Owens, who won numerous medals
at the '36 Olympic Games in Berlin, infuriating Adolf Hitler.
Muniz was pleased to meet the U.S. hero and said, "He was a fine
gentleman and a nice guy."
In addition, many locals were treated one night at the Harbor High
auditorium when the part-owner of the defunct Cleveland Rams pro football
team arrived to conduct a radio program. His name was Bob Hope.
Hope, who had a stout reputation of performing before millions of U.S.
service men and women over the years, always had a love for pro football
Ed Mayer, former Newport Harbor High linebacker and a top tackle on
the championship '51 Orange Coast grid team, is sometimes in the public
eye with Bill Walsh, former coach of the Super Bowl San Francisco 49ers
and Mike White, one-time head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Mayer, 69, owner of the Designs Alive T-shirt operation in Orange, is
never surprised to find Walsh dropping by for a visit or getting a phone
call from White out of Kansas City where he now is an assistant coach to
Dick Vermeil of the Chiefs.
He first met Walsh in the '50s when he turned out for football at San
Jose State. They became roomates at the Spartan camp.
Although Jack Bell, a CIF diver for Newport Harbor in '50 once worked
the Fort Ord Army swimming pool with Clint Eastwood, they went different
directions after Bell was shipped to Korea for combat duty.
Bell did spot Eastwood once years later in Newport Beach, but the
then-movie star was guarded closely by police officers and faded away.