The Know-It-All Draft Strategy: Late Round Gems

Fantasy Football Prep

*Late Round Gems*

 

Kyle Stafford - @Kstafford32

Do the last 5 Rounds have any value?

            The final rounds of a draft can make or break a team. Many owners get in a rush and pick the first name at the top of their lists. Then after the draft you see these same owners scouring through the Free Agent pool trying to fill holes they didn’t address in the draft when they had an opportunity. I am a strong believer in building a well rounded team from my starters to my bench. Therefore, if my starters ever fail me, I have a chance to pull someone off my bench to produce.

Here is a list of players to keep in mind during the finals rounds:

RB Kendall Hunter, SF: An explosive back that can catch the ball out of the backfield. He is one Frank Gore injury away from being a top 10 back.

WR Greg Little, CLE: He is the #1 reciever for the Browns, and is not even getting drafted in a lot of leagues. Played all 16 games last year and had over 120 targets. If the Browns can get a decent QB to throw to him I could see 70+ catches and 900+ yards which is a steal in the late rounds.

WR Kevin Ogletree, DAL: With all of the injuries and problems that surround the top 2 Wideouts in Dallas, Ogletree has a chance to shine. Even if Bryant and Austin are healthy, I could see Ogletree grabbing 60-70 balls.

WR Nate Burleson, DET: Played all 16 games. He was targeted 110 times. He caught 73 balls. He is also goes undraft in over 50% of fantasy leagues. Go figure…

RB Felix Jones, DAL: Had a 5.0 YPC in the 2nd half last year. A nice change of pace back and backup if he can stay healthy

TE: Dallas Clark, TB- Yes he has a lot of injury issues. Before he was hurt, he was on pace for 60+ receptions, 5 TDs in 2011. That was with Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins throwing to him.

QB Carson Palmer, OAK- He showed lots of improvement as the season progressed last year. In the 2nd half- completion rate of 63.2, 17 TDs, and 5 of 8 quality starts. Also had three of his four 300 yard passing games in the 2nd half.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Draft Strategy: Touchdown Leagues

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

*TD League Format*

 

Kyle Stafford - @Kstafford32

How do I build the complete team?

The Answer: Develop a Pre-Draft Scheme

            To draft a perfect team in touchdown leagues requires more than just breaking down the stats and trends. You need to evaluate players and breakdown position scarcity. Every year as football evolves, so does fantasy football. You now have 4 Quarterbacks capable of tossing 40+ TDs and hitting around or beyond the 5,000 yard mark. More teams are moving towards Running Back by committee. As the passing game expands, so do the roles of Tight Ends and Wideouts. I remember when I first started playing Fantasy in the late 90’s, Tightend Tony Gonzalez was shocking the fantasy world by making his position fantasy relevant. Now days, his stats then would be lost in a crowded group.

Draft Breakdown:

Round 1- If you don’t land one of the three elite Quarterbacks, then go Runningback.

Rounds 2 & 3- Running Back is very thin, I would continue to draft Running Backs until the main starters are gone. For added depth, fill your flex with a back

Rounds 4 & 5- Since you could care less about receptions, you want to target your Redzone and/or Big Play Wideouts. I have seen such threats as Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, and Mike Wallace fall to these spots.

Round 6- If you didn’t get an elite QB in the 1st round, take your QB here. If a Tony Romo or Philip Rivers does not fall here, Jay Cutler or Matt Schaub would be good value.

Rounds 7 & Beyond- I would continue adding depth with running backs and wide receivers. You can find nice backups like Toby Gerhart. I also like adding rookies on my bench as well. You should be able to get good value on a tightend in the 12 to 13 round range. Brett Celek or Jared Cook should be waiting there for you. About 10 total fantasy points separate these players from a player like Vernon Davis whose ADP is in the 4th-5th round.

If your league allows a deep bench, you might consider a backup Quarterback. If not, I would not waste a bench spot for a player you might use only one week out of the year. There is plenty of value in the Free Agent pool for a spot start.

Do not draft a kicker or defense until the final 2 rounds. I tend to change my defenses throughout the season on purely a matchup basis.

Remember the goal is to have a solid, well rounded team that consistently finds the endzone. Here is a mock draft I recently did with this format:

12 Team League, #6 Pick, TD Standard Format, H2H

QB: Philip Rivers (6th round)

RB: Darren McFadden (1st round)

RB: Jamaal Charles (2nd round)

WR: Vincent Jackson (4th round)

WR: Jeremy Maclin (5th round)

FLEX: Michael Turner (3rd round)

TE: Brett Celek (12th round)

D: Cincinnati (14th round)

K: Matt Bryant (13th round)

BE: Cedric Benson (7th round)

BE: Michael Crabtree (8th round)

BE: Malcom Floyd (9th round)

BE: Ryan Williams (10th round)

BE: David Wilson (11th round)

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Draft Strategy: Dual Tight Ends

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

*PPR League Format*

 

Kyle Stafford - @Kstafford32

What are your options if your team ends up drafting at the back end of the 1st round?

The Answer:  The Dual TE Threat

            When you first propose this strategy, most people automatically think Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. To have a shot at that, you would have to use up your 1st and 2nd round picks. You would also, have to not strike out with the Running Backs and Wideouts you take in rounds 3-7.  When I look at it, I see it as a major risk. Many bottom picks will try this strategy on draft day, so you might have competition for these elite guys to deal with. There has to be a better way.

This only works in standard PPR leagues that allow a TE to qualify at the single Flex Position. It is very simple, yet genius. Here is the breakdown:

Rounds 1-4:

Target your pass catching duel threat Running Backs, and your heavily targeted Wideouts. If Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady do not fall to you in the First Round, it is my belief that you should not draft a QB until Round 6 or later. You can get a better value-per-pick on a Quarterback in that range than you can in the 2nd-5th rounds.

Round 5:

There is 80% chance Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, and Aaron Hernandez are still on the board. I like them in that order based on the amount of targets they receive. Based on fantasy points, these 3 compare to Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, and Mike Wallace who are all 3rd round to 4th round tier guys based on the latest ADP ratings.

Round 6-7:

I like a QB in Round 6. There is a chance Tony Romo or Philip Rivers might fall here. Even if they don’t, you still can pick up Peyton Manning, Matt Schuab, or Jay Cutler. Round 7 is where I take a Tight End for my Flex. If you are lucky, Vernon Davis might fall here. If not, you can still pick up Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley, or Jermaine Gresham. Based on fantasy points, those 3 compare to DeWayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Eric Decker who are 5th round tier players based on ADP ratings. Similar Running Backs that compare to these Tight Ends are Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, and Michael Turner, which are 3rd round tier players. The obvious point, you get better value drafting a Tight End at your Flex.

This strategy is not perfect. You need several situations to play out for the right players to fall. A run on Tight Ends in early rounds could throw you off. Like any league, it is all about adapting quickly to the current flow of your draft. I always go into a draft with multiple strategies, and based on how my draft starts out I go with what draft scheme works best for the current situation.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Fantasy Football News & Notes

Fantasy Football News & Notes

 

Kyle Stafford - @Kstafford32

Rounds 2 – 4

Player on the Rise:

Hakeem Nicks, NYG Averaged 2.14 fantasy points per catch the previous 3 seasons. Should see Redzone targets increase.

Player on the Decline:

Adrian Peterson, MIN-  I am still seeing his ADP in the mid to late 2nd round. To me that is insane. Recent news has shown he may not even be fully ready till week 3. He is safe in the 6th round or later.

The Conservative Pick:

Roddy White, ATL-  He is going to get you 1,300 yards and double digit TDs.

High Risk, High Reward:

Reggie Bush, MIA-  Finished 2011 with 6 of 7 quality starts. Seems to be comfortable in Miami and is the main option. Injuries are always the big risk. The bigger gamble is that he doesn’t have a consistent track record of production.

The Steal:

Miles Austin, DAL A healthy Austin should be back to receiving 170+ targets and being a huge playmaker for Romo this year.

The Rookie:

Doug Martin, TB-  Has the skills to be a PPR league beast. I am thinking Matt Forte 2.0

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Fantasy Football NON-PPR Rundown

Fantasy Football NON-PPR Rankings

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

NON-PPR Formats

1st Round Buys & Sells

Buy:

Aaron Rodgers, GB-  Best Player in this format. Has all the weapons and the offensive line.

LeSean McCoy, PHI- Yes I had him as a bust in PPR formats, but in TD leagues he produces. Expect 1300 yards & 15 Total TDs

Drew Bress, NO- 40+ TDS & 5,000 yards are almost a sure thing for him. Plays a schedule that is top 3 for Quarterbacks this season.

Ray Rice, Bal- 22% Redzone success rate in 2011. Consistent and the go to guy in Baltimore

Brandon Marshall, CHI- If you end up with a late 1st rounder, I would consider Marshall. He is reunited with Cutler where in Denver he averaged 1,300 yards and hit double digit TDs. Some people will bring up his off the field problems, but statistically I look at this as a safe pick.

Sell:

Chris Johnson, TEN-  He doesn’t score TDs anymore. Played 16 games last year and ended up with 4 TDs. Only scored once in the first 8 games.

Cam Newton, CAR- Defenses figured him out in the 2nd half last year. He is a dual threat, but not a big enough threat in the air. He is the most overrated player in Fantasy Football this year. He could have 10 rushing TDs, but if he only passes for 15-17 you are not getting much overall. If you don’t land a Brady, Rodgers, or Bress- wait and get a Romo, Rivers or Ryan in the 6th Round or later.

Matt Stafford, DET- No we are not related. You see 41 TDs last year and you dream big. Let me bring you back to reality. The Lions will be forced to run the ball more this year and they have a nice 3 back set to accomplish that. He threw for a career high 663 times. If you break down his YPA and his TD/ATP ratio, they are horrible. He is no Aaron Rodgers, who threw 162 less passes and had 4 more touchdowns. A top QB, but not elite.

DeMarco Murray, DAL- Through 13 games he only scored twice. Overall he scored on only 5% of his Redzone touches. He is Felix Jones 2.0.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC- Hate to pick on him two days in a row, but he just has too many negatives going against him in NON-PPR Formats. His below average offensive line and under performing QB cannot get this successful scoring RB into the redzone. The holdout ordeal doesn’t help either.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Fantasy Football PPR Rundown

Fantasy Football PPR Rankings

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Here is my first batch of news/notes from the preseason. Focusing on PPR leagues:

1st Round Buys & Sells

Buy:

Arian Foster, HOU-  Best player in the draft, not much he can’t do. Only concern is health. Faces one of the easiest schedules for running backs this season.

Ray Rice, Bal- Good for 70+ receptions, not to mention his 1,500 rushing yard potential and double digit TD. He is a top 3 fantasy player.

Calvin Johnson, DET- 150+ targets, good for 85+ receptions and double digit TDs

Darren McFadden, OAK- Injuries have slowed him down, BUT he has potential to be the Top Fantasy Running Back. Good for 1,300 rushing yards. Is averaging .82 points per touch the last 2 seasons. With Michael Bush gone, look for him to do some work.

Julio Jones, ATL- Yes I left out Roddy White. Jones is emerging, and this is his year. Look for 75+ receptions, and double digit TDs from him.

Sell:

Matt Forte, CHI-  Running behind a below average offensive line. Look for the Bears to throw it more in the RedZone with the addition of Brandon Marshall. Let someone else take Forte in the first round.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC- Has a high redzone success rate of 21%, but his team never gets in the Redzone. With him holding out and being on a dismal team, I would pass.

Wes Welker, NE- 173 Targets in 2011. With Lloyd in town, I see those targets going down. Declining Endzone Rate, with higher risk of injury on top of the worst schedule in the league for a Wideout.

Andre Johnson, HOU- Injuries have killed his last 2 seasons. Top player at his position, but he can’t produce when he is on the bench.

LeSean McCoy- There is no way he is repeating 20 TDs from last year. He was unsuccessful on a high rate of 30% of pass plays directed at him. I blame some of that on his Quarterback. He is a nice player, but has to be the most overrated player in the 1st round with ADP of #3 overall.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

Was It Only a Dream? : The Story of Wilmeth Sidat-Singh

In honor of Black History Month, we will be releasing a story every week about a black athlete or team whose story has rarely been told.  In order to appreciate the array of sports we have today, I feel that it’s important to understand where they have come from and to sing the praises of those contributors whose stories have mostly been forgotten. 

“With his head hung and a towel draped over his head, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh sat on the sidelines in College Park, Maryland, humiliated. He suffered the pain of hatred and bigotry as he just sat there; helplessly; watching his team’s hopes of an undefeated season grow fainter with every snap of the ball. Syracuse was a much better team than Maryland but Sidat-Singh, their star halfback, could not go out on the field and lead the Orangemen to victory as he had all season. After all, he was black, and at the University of Maryland blacks were not allowed to compete in intercollegiate sports.”

__________________________________________________________________________________

“Did you see that thing?
That’s Wilmeth Sidat-Singh!
The Syracuse Walking Dream!
Oh, he was amazing!”

  ~ Attributed to Grantland Rice1

PHOTO: RL Young, 2005

Wilmeth Sidat-Singh was born in Washington, D.C in 1918 as Wilmeth Webb, the son of Elias and Pauline Webb.   When Wilmeth was seven, Elias Webb died of a stroke and his mother then married Samuel Sidat-Singh, a doctor from the West Indies.  Wilmeth adopted his stepfather’s surname and the family moved to New York City.2   Wilmeth Sidat-Singh grew up in the Big Apple with an incredible love for sports.  He learned how to play basketball, football, baseball, and tennis on the sandlots of Harlem near the place Dr. Sidat-Singh practiced medicine.  Young Wilmeth spent hours discovering how to throw a football and shoot a basketball along childhood friends John “Wonder Boy” Isaacs, Eyre “Bruiser” Saitch, and Jazz legend Duke Ellington’s son, Mercer.  Wilmeth quickly grew to be an extraordinary athlete.  Isaacs recalled that he once saw Sidat-Singh throw a football “60 yards, flat-footed” and that on the basketball court he was a fast, powerful, and dynamic player.   Sidat-Singh was a rare talent and Isaacs was not the only one who noticed.3

As he grew and went on to attend a DeWitt High School in New York, Sidat-Singh became a two-sport standout in football and basketball.  Whenever Wilmeth had a ball in his hands, it seemed that he was capable of anything.   John Isaacs once explained that, “anything he [Wilmeth Sidat-Singh] put his mind to, he would do it.”  Sidat-Singh became renowned for his explosiveness on the basketball court when he led DeWitt High School to a title in 1934.  In 1935, Sidat-Singh made the all-city team3 and led the Govs to a second consecutive preparatory championship.1 After his senior year; Wilmeth was awarded a basketball scholarship to Syracuse University.   Though everyone in his hometowns of Washington, D.C. and Harlem, New York knew he was black, people began referring to him as a Hindu.3

Nobody took much notice of Sidat-Singh his freshman year at Syracuse because in the 1930’s, freshmen were athletically ineligible.  The following year when Sidat-Singh was able to play for the basketball team, he picked up right where he left off at DeWitt.  The athletic superiority of the player wearing number 19 was immediately noticeable1 and papers began writing about Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, the “Manhattan Hindu”.2 Sidat-Singh facilitated the offense and had a great ability to lead his team on the floor and control the pace of the game.  For all three seasons that he was at Syracuse, number 19 led his team in scoring and brought Syracuse basketball to prominence.  They had three straight winning seasons with Wilmeth at the helm.  His senior year at Syracuse the “Manhattan Hindu” led his team to a 14-0 record and an unofficial national title.3

Though he had no Hindu descent and was born and raised in the U.S., the African American Wilmeth Sidat-Singh became largely known as the nation's premier Hindu athlete. Photo Courtesy of Jack Rimer.

Although Sidat-Singh was a great basketball player, he was not taken seriously as an athlete.  He was viewed as more of a novelty than anything.  Even though he was Syracuse’s greatest star he was demeaned because of his race and forced to live off-campus in the poorest parts of the college town.  In the media, the press continued to have misconceptions about his race as they deemed Wilmeth the nation’s only “Hindu Basketeer”.  They did not recognize his unmatchable talent on the court, only his mistaken racial association.  Sidat-Singh had never claimed to Hindu and had even tried to explain at one point that he had “never been to India” but regardless, the press continued him a “full blooded Hindu” and that was what made him newsworthy, not his athletic talent.1 Syracuse tried to perpetuate the misnomer by asking Wilmeth to wear turbans and traditional Indian garments but Wilmeth refused.4 If all Sidat-Singh had accomplished was an exceptional basketball career, the only mention of his name may have been the continued cases of mistaken racial identity.  However, Syracuse assistant football coach Russell Simmons, Sr. saw something in Sidat-Singh in 1936 that was going to make Wilmeth a household name.5

As previously mentioned, Wilmeth had been a multiple sport standout throughout his youth and high school career.  Though he was brought to Syracuse on a basketball scholarship, Sidat-Singh participated in a number of intramural sports, football among them.   During the fall of 1936, Coach Simmons decided to go watch a touch football game between two of the Syracuse dormitories and became intrigued with the young man who was calling the plays for one of the team.5 He was only about six feet tall and 190 pounds3 but he had a vibrant playing style, was quick on his feet, and every pass of his was on target.  As the game progressed, Simmons figured out that the young man calling the signals was the school’s basketball star Wilmeth Sidat-Singh.  Coach Simmons recalled that he immediately halted game play and went down on the field to Wilmeth and said, “Singh, you don’t belong here.  You belong down on that other field with the varsity.”  Sidat-Singh had always enjoyed the game of football and after his sophomore year, despite his basketball coach’s worries; he took Simmons up on his offer and decided to become a two-sport athlete at Syracuse.5

Wilmeth quickly excelled on the football field and showed that he was just as talented on the gridiron as he was on the hardwood.  The arm that Simmons had admired and the speed that made him a basketball phenom made Sidat-Singh a perfect fit for Syracuse’s single-wing offense.  Wilmeth played the halfback position which was a hybrid position that demanded the swiftness of a running back and the throwing ability of a quarterback.1 Throughout his collegiate football career he exhibited dominance over every team he faced.  In any athletic endeavor he pursued, Sidat-Singh seemed invulnerable and his abilities were unparalleled.  On the basketball court, he established supremacy with his quick feet and ability to score quickly.  On the field, his passes were on target and he was able to get by any line that he matched up against.  That is, until t Sidat-Singh tried to run past a line called the Mason-Dixon.1

In the week leading up to the Syracuse game, Sam Lacy from The Washington Tribune ran the story, “NEGRO TO PLAY U. OF MARYLAND, THEY CALL HIM A HINDU”.  The article explained how Sidat-Singh had been born Wilmeth Webb and how his mother, Pauline, had remarried.  At the time many schools in the South, including the University of Maryland, had a strict segregationist policy that they did not play against black teams or athletes in any sport.   Days earlier this same exclusion had not applied to an alleged Indian, but now was being applied to a black star.  Maryland refused to let Sidat-Singh play on their field and Syracuse conceded to their demands.2

When the day of the game arrived, Sidat-Singh had traveled to Maryland with the team but the Orangemen would take the field without their star player.  With his head hung and a towel draped over his head, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh sat on the sidelines in College Park, Maryland, humiliated.  He suffered the pain of hatred and bigotry as he just sat there; helpless, watching his team’s hopes of an undefeated season grow fainter with every snap of the ball.  Syracuse was a much better team than Maryland but Sidat-Singh, their star halfback, could not go out on the field and lead the Orangemen to victory as he had all season.  After all, he was black, and at the University of Maryland blacks were not allowed to compete in intercollegiate sports.1

“Seared in the flames of withering injustice”; 10 miles away and more than 30 years later that is how Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech would phrase

PHOTO: Courtesy of SU Athletics

the sting that Sidat-Singh felt.Syracuse running back Marty Glickman looked on in disgust, because a year prior, he had felt it too.  Glickman had been invited to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team.  Right before the race, he and teammate Sam Stoller were taken off the team and replaced by Ralph Metcalfe and Jesse Owens.   Glickman and Stoller were both Jewish and the relay team they were a part of was a favorite to win the gold medal that year (which it eventually did, setting a world record that would stand for 20 years).  It was believed by many that United States Olympic Committee had replaced Glickman and Stoller at the request of Adolf Hitler who did not want his athletes to suffer the embarrassment of losing to a couple of Jews.  Glickman had been denied the greatest honor an athlete can know because of his race.7 He had been seared in the flames of intolerance.  Now, just fourteen months later, Marty Glickman stood yards away from his teammate and friend Wilmeth Sidat-Singh as the inferno of prejudice continued to smolder.3

Glickman had considered whether or not to take a stand and sit out the game as well but was afraid of being depicted as a “trouble making Jew”.  The decision to play against Maryland was one that he regretted all his life.3 The Terrapins defeated Syracuse 13-02 and their victory was credited to being better able to handle the field conditions but it was clear that Sidat-Singh was the difference. Following that game, Sidat-Singh returned to the line-up and became the nation’s best two sport athlete.  In his senior year, he would defeat the legendary Sid Luckman’s Columbia squad 13-12.  He was so famous by then that Maryland and Duke both lifted their racial exclusions for the Syracuse game.  He defeated Maryland at Syracuse 53-01.  His greatest triumph came when he scored a major upset against the Rose Bowl bound Cornell Big Red by throwing six passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the game’s final six minutes to lead the Orangemen to a 19-17 comeback victory.  This performance prompted writer Grantland Rice to jot down the lasting words, “Did you see that thing? That’s Wilmeth Sidat-Singh! The Syracuse Walking Dream! Oh he was amazing!”8   Sidat-Singh was amazing as Rice had written but he would never escape the discrimination of college sport as his senior year he was forced to sit out of a basketball game against the U.S. Naval Academy due to the color of his skin.4

The Syracuse Walking Dream was amazing and one of the best athletes of his era. Upon graduating with a degree in zoology, Sidat-Singh began looking for opportunities to play sports professionally.  It was well-known that the National Football League (NFL) had never allowed blacks among their ranks.  As a result, Wilmeth decided to return to basketball and play the game that had brought him to collegiate athletics in the first place.1

He immediately signed with the Syracuse Reds and instantly became a star.  In December of 1939, Sidat-Singh and the Reds defeated the Original Celtics 40 – 37.  Sidat-Singh led the scoring with 14 points.  Wilmeth only spent one season with the Syracuse Reds before he left to join childhood friends John Isaacs and Eyre Saitch as members of the Harlem Renaissance.9 He had moved back to Washington, D.C. after graduating from Syracuse in 1939 to live with his longtime girlfriend Marjorie Webb (no relation) and regularly commuted to New York to play with the Rens.  By the time that the “Syracuse Walking Dream” joined the Rens, they were no longer what they once were.  The team had grown older.   Clarence “Fats” Jenkins and Charles “Tarzan” Cooper were gearing up to retire.  Coach and owner Bob Douglas planned to build his team around younger stars such as Isaacs, Saitch, William “Dolly” King, and Sidat-Singh.  Douglas hoped to make Sidat-Singh the focal point of his offense.10

As the 1940’s arrived, the Harlem Renaissance ran into fiscal concerns and broadcaster Hal Jackson pursued Sidat-Singh for his up-start Washington Bruins basketball team.   Jackson was able to recruit the hometown hero and made him the first major signing of his new team.   Jackson was excited to have his first big star but Bob Douglas insisted that Sidat-Singh was still under contract with the Renaissance.   Sidat-Singh opted to pursue every possible athletic opportunity that he could while he waited for the expiration of his contract.  He played semi-pro football with the U Street Lions, won a Colored City Championship with the Treasury Department fast-pitch softball team, and even played singles tennis.1

By the time that Wilmeth was contractually eligible to play with the Bears it was 1941 and Jackson had assembled a cast of collegiate all-stars, former Globetrotters, and former Rens to complement Sidat-Singh.  Jackson had lured Tarzan Cooper out of retirement to act as a player-coach for the newly named Washington Lichtman Bears (after team sponsor Abe Lichtman).   In the season opener, Sidat-Singh led the Bears with an unheard of 18 points (at a time when an average score for a winning team was around 30) as the Bears easily defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He served as the center of the Bear’s offense that entire season as the team played won several games before packed houses.1 When he was not running down the hardwood; Sidat-Singh walked the beat as a member of the Washington, D.C. Police Department.3

The following season, several of Sidat-Singh’s former teammates from the Rens joined Wilmeth in Washington John “Wonder Boy” Isaacs, William “Dolly” King, and Eyre “Bruiser” Saitch all drove down from New York on the weekends to play for the Bears.  That season Sidat-Singh averaged 20 points a game and in a game against the Baltimore Mets, he scored, a record at the time, 28 points in the same state where years earlier he had not been allowed to play football.1 The Washington Bears were an elite basketball team during the 1942-43 season.  They finished the season 66-0 and went on to beat the Oshkosh All-Stars in the World Championship Tournament in Chicago.  Wilmeth Sidat-Singh was not at Chicago Stadium to share in his team’s glory.   In August of 1942 (mid-season), Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, feeling an incredible sense of duty to country, had decided to join the United States Air Force.10

Sidat-Singh left sports behind to defend a country whose ideals and freedoms were not available to him. PHOTO: "Washington City Paper", 2008

Before the 1940’s, it was extremely rare for blacks to fly airplanes – especially for the U.S. military.  Nonetheless, in 1942, the American commitment in Europe and Asia had escalated and the U.S. Air Force wanted any pilot they could find.  Just like American society, the military was segregated.  Wilmeth was designated for assignment with the all-black 332nd Fighter Group.3   Today, many know the Fighting 332nd as the Tuskegee Airmen.  In May of 1943, Sidat-Singh graduated from flight school and was ready to serve his country.1

Not long after his graduation, the news broke that the “Syracuse Walking Dream” had gone missing during a training exercise.1 On May 9, 1943, Sidat-Singh’s P-40 plane failed while he was flying a routine mission over Lake Huron.    His flight trainer, C.I. Williams saw the whole thing happen.  He claimed that Sidat-Singh did not deploy his parachute in the free fall and had drowned with his plane in the lake.Many refused to believe that Wilmeth was dead.  Among those convinced he was still alive was John Isaacs who remarked, “If you saw him swim … you’d understand.”1 Six weeks after the crash, divers found the body of Wilmeth Sidat-Singh wrapped up in his parachute and stuck to his plane.3At the young age of 25, a great competitor and a greater person had been lost.  He was an athlete who had unmatched talent and a person who had unparalleled resolve.  The Syracuse Walking Dream was almost too good to be true.  It was as if he could do anything that he put his mind to.  That is unless, he put his mind to eating at a white lunch counter, sitting in the front of a bus, playing football in the state of Maryland, or being treated as an equal.

Wilmeth Sidat-Singh died for a nation that was founded on the belief that “all men are created equal” but had never lived up to that creed.  The Syracuse Walking Dream had left his own endeavors behind because he believed in a concept that did not seem to believe in him.  He chose to stop playing the games he loved and excelled at to fight for a democracy that for so long had fought against him.  He protected freedoms that he had always been denied.  He defended a dream that society would never allow him to realize.   For a country that had made him, and those who looked like him, a pariah, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh made the ultimate sacrifice.  He gave his life and just like that, the dream was over before it had ever really begun.

Courtesy of Devan Dignan+

_______________________________________________

1 Dave McKenna, “The Syracuse Walking Dream”, Washington City Paper, May 23, 2008.

2 Ron Fimrite, “Sam Lacy: Black Crusader”, Sports Illustrated, October 29, 1990.

3 Luke Cyphers, “The Lost Hero”, The Daily News, February 25, 2001.

4 Gerald Horne,“The End of Empires: African Americans and India”, Temple University Press, 2008.

5 Sal Maiorana and Scott Pitoniak, “Slices of Orange: Great Games and Performers in Syracuse University Sports History”, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

6 Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream”, August 28, 1963.

7 Larry Schwartz, “Owens Pierced a Myth”, ESPN.com, Accessed June 9, 2010, http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016393.html.

8  “SU to Honor A Pioneer — Wilmeth Sidat-Singh”, Syracuse University Athletics, Accessed June 7, 2010,  http://www.suathletics.com/news/2005/2/24/sidat-singh.aspx.

9 “Countdown to Kickoff: The Legend of Wilmeth Sidat-Singh”, Syracuse University Athletics, Accessed June 7, 2010, http://www.suathletics.com/news/2003/8/9/sidat%20singh.aspx.

10 Hal Jackson with Jim Haskins, “The House that Jack Built”, Colossus Books, 2001.