Straight No Chaser: Blazing Saddles

By Desi Cortez
Updated: January 4, 2009

DENVER – What in the wide world of sports is going on here….?!

As the dust settles here in the Mile-Hi City, Mike Shanahan having rode off into the Southwest sunset, Monsieur Pat Bowlen (he’s one of them French/British what’s the diff….Canadians) back at the Ponderosa, plotting and planing how to regain control of not just the AFC West, but everything West of Rhode Island, the sports saloons are packed full of wranglers and cow-girls all talking bout’ who’s going to take over the Lazy B Ranch…

The obvious names are poppin’ up like Prairie dogs during an earthquake… the G-Men Dee-coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Dallas’s Jason Garrett, but there’s a name which seems to be left out of the debate – Karl Dorrell, one time Denver Bronco Receivers coach, former UCLA Head Coach and presently the Receivers Coach down there in Miami with the rejuvenated Flippers.

Dorrell’s receivers are having a better year than Garrett’s Offense. The Tuna is a smart man, no? He definitely knows how to pick’em.

Did you know Dorrell is a Buffalo Soldier? One who’s earned his clusters under-fire? An ex-NFL player who can relate and communicate with today’s player on a level a number of other coaches can’t. And he’ll bring that knowledge and gut feeling to the table when he assembles his staff, it will look like the Magnificent Seven when Dorrell’s done.

Yeah, I could play this western stick out, but Denver’s no longer a cow-town, and the West is no more a place where you “earn what you get, and get what you earn,” that individual ruggedness is an overblown myth, Denver is known far and wide as a “Boom or Bust Town”, the Land Barons, the Carpetbaggers from back East, out West and Texas, the Bankers, the politicians – all have a grip on the town. Hell, the whole dagnabet state.

The hustlers and Slicksters are always able to make-a buck in Denver. Hell, the Presidents baby bro’ Neal Bush walked away with stuffed pockets after the Savings and Loans con-games of the early 80′s, he and mega-rancher, John McCain – were rustling millions, and I ain’t talking Long Horns…

I guess I can’t help it…

Point here is, Denver’s like any other town… that I don’t know if Denver is ready for a Black head Coach. Town folk would be as nervous as a balloon at porcupine convention. An large portion would prefer a “Shane” looking kinda gunslinger – Rick Neuhisel, whether he can win or not.

A Black Mayor, that’s one thing, a couple of Black Lt. Governors’ was another, Obama accepting the Democratic nomination here at Mile Hi…. but a Black guy heading up the beloved, and I do mean they be loved in an hysterical, fanatical extreme way, maybe because for Denver, the Bronco’s have been the face the city, if not of the entire Rocky Mountain region.

Yeah partner, representing Colorful Colorado – Karl Dorrell may be a tad too colorful….

It all kind of reminds me of Blazing Saddles, which remains one of my all time favorites; envision Dorrell in that… you can call it Cashmere, (you can call it reindeer) camel-skin jumpsuit, coming over the Eisenhower Pass, coming down our main street, Colfax – and the ol’ Redneck talk show host/town drunk yelling out to the good folk who’ve gathered to see the new law -of-the-land “the New sheriff is a……. !! “What’d he say?” “I think, the new Sheriff is ….near?”

My folks were rooted in Denver, my grand-mother’s folks ran Walton Brothers Ice and Coal, located in the Five Points part of Denver, where Blacks were permitted to live, cause you sure as hell couldn’t live anywhere you wanted.

That separate and clearly unequal mentality still lives-on in Denver, just as it does most places North and South of the Mason Dixon line… Matter of fact ma’am, I could present a list of facts to attest to the notion the Rockies are a stronghold for not just rugged individuals, but also angry white people who have migrated to this region in part based upon it’s national reputation of having few Blacks.

Chuckle if you like, but we all know what a major selling point all-vanilla is. I say Idaho, Montana, Utah Wyoming the Dakotas….you don’t think the absence of Black folks is not a factor to the average White Family when buying a home, picking a school district. No one believes there’s a Cheyenne Wyoming NAACP….

And to many…that’s a good thing. Back East the cities are segregated, out West the States are. Yes, there is a tiny 7/11 size NAACP outpost there.

Few know, Colorado was once a stronghold for the Klan. We’ve got Parkways named after mayor’s who wore the white hooded robes. We’ve an extinct international Airport -Stapleton, named after a racist, today it’s a segregated gated spread, all the 3’500 sq.ft ranches priced out of the range of …everybody, but especially Black and Brown settlers. So even with progress, the problems remain much the same…there exist today two or three Americas, instead of just that mythical one …indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Justice, fairness and NFL coaches…. can’t all go in the same sentence.

Pat Bowlen must weigh and measure if the fans will pound a Black coach from the day he gets off the 3:11 from Tulsa. The Bronco’s radio voice – 850 KOA is the hold-out of Rush and the rest of hole-in-the-head gang.

Believe me, I know, I was the lone progressive voice there for almost ten years, and since I was ran out of the valley on a rail, not a one, not a single voice in opposition to Mr Dick Cheney over at the the Flying W. Ranch has been allowed on the air, and the station dominates the territory. All the Rednecks, from rustlers to ranchers love these gun-toting Neo-Cons.

These fellahs talk loud, draw big crowds. Bowlen understands the base of his season ticket holders might not be comfortable with a ……. near. The radio airwaves would sound like gunfight at OK Correl, all the rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperadoes, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and the Methodist would want to get a word in …edge-wise.

I really do believe Karl Dorrell is much more than a viable candidate for Head Coach of the Denver Broncos’. Just last year Pat Bowlen was said to be considering hiring Dorrell as the Assistant Head Coach, taking departed Mike Holimigren slot. He understands the organization, the offense, the young platoon of Buffalo soldiers that many round this way say Shanahana could no longer motivate, relate to or control.

See Darrant Williams

And let’s not quickly dismiss UCLA. Heading up a program such as the Bruins – is above, beyond, and much more complex than coaching the Raiders, Bengals, Lions, Cardinals or the Bills.

Please, don’t trivialized this fact. Karl Dorrell has head coaching experience, granted on a collegiate level which compares with these teams current complexity and supposed high standards.

In simplest terms, Mr. Dorrell will walk in and fit-in, feel at home, comfortable with the program, ready to tend-to the back-forty, get them boys to dig them wells, fix that fence, bring down the herd from the mountain valleys up by Echo Lake Brand his herd….Just go with it.

And if you ever come to Colorado Check out Echo Lake, and Evergreen. Go South to the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge, Seven Falls, have Sunday Brunch at the 5 star hotel Broadmoore. Go West, check out Glenwood Springs – not only is Doc Holiday buried there but honest to god, you’ll find Buffalo Soldiers buried in the old pioneer cemetery above the tiny town. Sargent Deacon Jones rest there, go lay a flower, pay your respect.

I ask my brother-in-law, a Black man-of-the-cloth… cashmere of course, to say a few enlightening words one chilly Colorado morning – we had our families up in the mountains skiing for a few days, and, being an silver-tongued Pentecostal preacher – he brought a tear to the eyes of a practicing heathen like myself as he said some mighty pretty words that day.

As his wife says “we had church up in there,” just for a minute, on the side of a red stone mountain.

Point here is son…..I been all over Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona and never really had a racist word said to me nor mine….so I’ve hope, not faith, but hope – this state is ready to embrace a Black man as head coach of their much revered Broncos. That’s a little more important to these plain folks then a Black President….