We’re in the thick of football season, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to write about the Bills. No, not the Buffalo Bills... Bill White and Bill Bryant.
For the past 33 years, most Ithacans have known Bill White as “Bill the Placemat Guy,” and they have enjoyed the placemats he has provided to the Glenwood Pines, Diamonds New Delhi Restaurant, Atlas Bowl and several other local eateries.
For the past 4 years, White has also been known as “Bill the Bus Driver,” and he loves getting kids to school and back home safely.
What most do not know is that in the 1970s White was a fleet-footed, sure-handed wide receiver for his high school outside Boston, and he was good enough to be recruited by Boston College. He suited up for BC for a year, then wisely focused on his academics and got out of there with a degree and an intact brain.
On Thursday, White will head back to New England to be among those inducted into his high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. It’s a great story on many levels, but the best angle of all is the fact that Bill’s mom will be there to see it. Congratulations, Bill. The Placemat Hall of Fame is next.
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On Thursday of this week, former ICSD Athletic Director and current IAC Executive Director, Bill Bryant, and I will be sitting in the Dawg Pound at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland to watch the Browns as they host the Steelers. This experience will have interwoven storylines about which to write, and I have a feeling I will be circling back next week to share some updates.
One of the storylines is the fact that we will be going as guests of Jeff Grover, a Spencer native who is now the General Manager of Facilities Housekeeping for Aramark at FirstEnergy Stadium. Jeff oversees a huge staff to run the before and after tasks for all manner of big events – NFL games, soccer tournaments, concerts (like U2) and many others. Jeff and I are longtime pals, and while he holds me in reasonably high regard (I think), he perceives Bryant as a mentor and a very significant role model.
You see, after a great college football career (he set many receiving records at Ithaca College), Bryant had a shot at the NFL. He did very well in the Washington camp and actually made the roster for another NFL team, and, had he not been injured (by a cheap shot to the back), he might have had a fine NFL career. When that dream was in the rear-view mirror, Bryant went into coaching, and one of his first jobs was as the athletic director and football coach at Spencer-Van Etten. Grover was one of his players, and he has told me many times that he has, since high school, held Bryant up as an example of how to conduct oneself on and off the football field. Jeff is thrilled to offer this opportunity to Bryant, Bryant is thrilled to go, and I’m tagging along with a big grin, very grateful for the opportunity.
Another storyline involves the fact that the NFL team Bryant was on the verge of playing with is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watch for us on Thursday night. We’ll be the guys in the Dawg Pound, trying not to get beat up should we happen to cheer for a good play made by the Steelers.
The final storyline involves J.C. Tretter, the Browns’ center who was recently the subject of this Nov. 7 tweet from NFL reporter Ian Rapoport: “The #Browns and center J.C. Tretter are in agreement on a three-year, $32.5 million extension that includes more than $23M guaranteed.” Rapoport wrote, “Quietly, he’s playing his best football and is among the best in football. This extension is nothing less than Tretter deserves, as his consistently impactful play has been lost in the sheer dumpster fire that is the rest of Cleveland’s offensive line.”
For those wondering how the Tretter component wove its way into this Ithaca Times story, the final part of Rapoport’s tweet might clarify that question. Rapoport tweeted, “Tretter, by the way, went to Cornell, ever heard of it?”
Yes, Mr. Rapoport, Ithaca Times readers have heard of Cornell, and Big Red fans love it when former players make it to the Big Time. We like it even more when they work their way into the ranks of the league’s elite, and a 3-year, $32.5 million extension – for a lineman – suggests that Tretter has indeed earned elite status.
See you next week with updates from the game!