Monday, June 29, 2009

Where Are They Now? Part 3

Dennis Harrah Offensive Lineman

Invited as a guest by his one-time Los Angeles Ram teammate Jackie Slater to attend the recent NFL Hall of Fame ceremony, Dennis Harrah thoroughly savored his three-day visit to Canton, Ohio.

During the inductions of Slater and another Ram teammate, Jack Youngblood, Harrah even heard his name mentioned in the speeches given by Youngblood, Slater and the gentleman who introduced Slater, John Robinson.

"There I am sitting in a crowd of thousands of people right next to my wife, two sons and mom and dad at this great event, and my name keeps popping up," relates the six-time Pro Bowl guard who played 13 seasons with the Rams and retired in 1988. "What a great feeling. At least people haven't forgotten me."

How could anyone forget Dennis Harrah, as colorful a character who ever played for the Rams, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound bulldog of a blocker who helped escort Eric Dickerson to a NFL-record 2,104 yards in 1984, who scratched, clawed, gouged, fought and gave every ounce of his energy on a football field, who was a wise-cracking, fun-loving party guy of legendary proportions during the 10 years he resided in the Long Beach area?

Indeed, it would seem only just and proper that one day Dennis Harrah is able to return to Canton not as a guest but as a Hall of Fame inductee himself, a deserving honor considering the exemplary work he dispensed during his career.

"Oh, that would be nice to make it into the Hall of Fame," acknowledges Harrah. "But it's something I don't even think about, or even worry about. I'm just glad I had the opportunity to take my two sons back to Canton, and to see some of the old guys like Fred Dryer, Mike Fanning, Vince Ferragamo, Lawrence McCutcheon, along with Slater and Youngblood.

"What a blast we had, and no one enjoyed it more than Clyda Geraldine Harrah, my mom. She just loves football, and when she saw Fred Dryer, she hugged him and started hanging out with him. She had become a big fan of Freddie when he was doing 'Hunter.',"

Dennis Harrah these days lives on a five-acre spread 12 miles from Temecula with his wife, Teresa, considered one of the top aerobic teachers in the country, and two sons, Tanner, 14, and Blake, 11.

He is serving as a volunteer coach with the Temecula Valley High freshman football team, and closely monitors the progress of Tanner, a cornerback candidate.

"Tanner hasn't had his growth spurt yet, and is only 5 foot 4 and weighs about 123 pounds," says Harrah. "I also was a late bloomer. But the genes are there for my sons. My wife is 5 foot 8. And I'm 6 foot 5, so my sons figure to eventually have some size."

Since his retirement from the Rams in 1987, Harrah has dabbled in the health club business in his native Charleston, W.V. - he still owns a 300-acre ranch in the area - and operated a resort motel in the Florida Keys.

Now he's peddling real estate in Temecula for a company called All Star Realty that he and a partner started.

"I studied more in three months in preparing for my real estate test than I did in the four years I attended Miami," says Harrah, who did wind up with a degree in business for his efforts in college. "There was no way I wanted to flunk the test and for people to say, 'Ol' Dennis Harrah is just another dumb football player.' I might be dumb, but at least I'm book smart."

Harrah has even been conferring with Vince Ferragamo, who owns Touchdown Real Estate in Orange County, about pooling their companies' resources.

"We're looking for some multimillionaires interested in building a tract of homes, and using our services to sell them," says Harrah. "I think people might remember who we were, and would feel comfortable buying from us. At least that's the thought."

Even when he was playing with the Rams, Dennis Harrah always was business oriented.

He and John Morris started Legends, and he also owned another Belmont Shore saloon called the Acapulco Inn.

"I had a lot of great memories in Long Beach - at least the ones I can remember," he says.

He is now the consummate Family Man, doting on his wife and sons, tending to his yard ("killed seven rattlesnakes last year") and taking care of his two horses and two dogs.

He has a natural sense of humor, and eventually would like an opportunity to do some broadcasting.

That might be in the near future, since ESPN radio has been interested in him doing a local football show.

"No one ever has called me boring," says Dennis Harrah. "And no one can ever say I've lived a boring life, except perhaps at this stage of it."

Dennis Harrah was among one of the most elite offensive lines the NFL has ever seen!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where Are They Now? Part 2

This week, we did some research on RB Cleveland Gary and found out the scoop on what he's been up to since he retired.

Financier Cleveland Gary will be hosting The Cleveland Gary Show. The show will focus on entrepreneur empowerment.

The former first round NFL all pro running back has become one of the most recognizable faces in the financial world. He is Chairman of the first and only Urban TV Shopping Channel (Black Shopping Channel) in America. He has created opportunities for small business owners across America to promote their products and services to an international buying audience.

He is also chairman of the Healthway Shopping Network which promotes natural products for a healthy lifestyle.

He is Chairman of AMI Capital Group which funds small businesses up to $1 million dollars. He is on the cutting edge of commercializing social networking opportunities for individual business owners to build wealth and establish a presence across the globe.

Mr. Gary is also a best selling author of "The Truth Behind the Ball".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where Are They Now?

I thought I'd do something different for the next few issues called Where Are They Now. What I'll be doing is researching some past Rams and see what they might be up to these days.

Does anyone remember #39 Robert Delpino? Well below is where he is now.

CORONA - As a running back in the National Football League for six seasons, Robert Delpino carried the ball 502 times for 1,815 yards. He had 18 rushing touchdowns and nine touchdowns when he caught passes.

Now 43, the Corona resident has a second, off-the-field career in social work. His chosen pursuit is not unlike the life work of his mother, Reva, who raised eight children on her own after her divorce.

Delpino, a former Los Angeles Ram and Denver Bronco, who had a peak annual salary as a player of $700,000 in 1993, is trying to help young people with the difficulties in their lives.

Delpino is the program services manager for the LeRoy Haynes Center for Children and Family Services in La Verne that assists 80 abused, disadvantaged and probationary boys ages 8-18.

He is responsible for extra-curricular, athletic and artistic activities, as well as tutoring and campus safety.

"He has the passion and energy that is necessary for that position," said Derrick Perry, who as director of program services supervises Delpino. "He's responsible for all the enrichment activities... He used to play pro football. He has an influence over the boys who want to enter into the athletic arena. If they have questions or doubts, he emphasizes the importance of education and remaining motivated."

Reva Delpino, 67, supplied the energy that still drives her youngest child. To support her family, she stamped packaged meat in a meat packing plant in Dodge City, Kan. She worked on early computers in an insurance office.

There were times when she couldn't afford to pay all the bills and the power would be turned off to their home. Robert Delpino said his mother never let her children sink into despair. He said he can "directly connect" his determination to his mother and "how she survived."

"She provided for us," he said. "On a deeper level, she was able to convince us that first of all we didn't have it that bad. If we ever started feeling sorry for ourselves, she was able to instill in us a belief that we can get through it."

His mother said: "I raised my kids to believe in life, to be thankful for every day you wake up is a gift from God. If you live everyday with a positive attitude, you can't go wrong."

She added that Robert is like his seven siblings -- "They all have the same work ethic. They all love children and love people."

Now divorced, Robert said he remains involved in the lives of his two children, Darionne, 12, and Robert Jr., 9. He recently chaperoned a student dance at Corona Fundamental Intermediate School where Darionne is a student. He said he loves to take his children to movies.

Delpino said he wanted to be a social worker while attending the University of Missouri on a football scholarship. However, he fell behind in his academics and left in 1988 without a degree.

When his professional playing days ended after the 1993 season, he had to play catch up to earn his degree. He squeezed work, school and family responsibilities into a very busy life. He earned his bachelor's degree in social work from the University of La Sierra in 2004. He received an administrative certificate in 2005. He plans to start work on a master's degree at Cal Baptist University in Riverside.

He said his work is very satisfying.

"You're contributing to a kid's life on a daily basis," he said. "You're helping that kid overcome developmental difficulties. Sometimes it's physical. Sometimes it's emotional. Sometimes it's mental. More so than not, it's all combined."

His career in social work has some of the teamwork that football had.

"You're working with a team, psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, managers, educators," he said. "You're developing treatment plans that improve the quality of his life. That's so fulfilling to see that come into fruition."