Husker football legend Johnny Rodgers joined "The Bottom Line" on Thursday to talk about being honored with a street in his name. Also, Rodgers and Mike'l Severe discussed Omaha's youth, Terence "Bud" Crawford's historic rise and Husker football coach Mike Riley.
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Do you know if it’s going to be a street, an avenue or a boulevard? Johnny Rodgers what?
Mike’l, I don’t know any more than you do.
Ernie Britt didn’t even tell you he was doing it?
He did not. He and Brett Gray got together and collaborated on it and worked it all the way through, and by the time I found out about it, it was pretty much a done deal.
Were you excited or were you angry at them?
A little bit of both. I don’t like surprises that much. I like to have a little bit of say in whatever is going on because it’s a pretty serious award. There’s a little responsibility that comes with it, and you might want a say as to where it is actually placed. If I did have a say, I would say my grade school would make a good place because I am always in the belief that we don’t do enough to promote all of our black athletes and historians from Omaha during Black History Month. We talk about Martin Luther King, but we don’t talk about Bob Gibson, we don’t talk about (Bob) Boozer, Buddy Miles, Malcolm X — a lot of the people that come from Omaha that let the kids know you don’t have to come from the west coast or the east coast. ... There are a lot of people that went against that current that went on throughout history to make great names for themselves. They think they’re in a hopeless environment, but their future’s so bright they need to wear shades. You definitely have to keep hope alive, but they have to see it.
So the section of the street is 30th to 33rd and Burt. What do you think about having it around Tech High, where you went?
I think having it around Tech High is very historic for me and very memorable. That’s where our practice field was, where we actually practiced. ... It’s where everybody used to really gather. For Tech High, we have great memories. That’s where I actually used to really take my mentoring seriously. ... Those were very good times. Everything worked out picture perfect — we had some state championships in football, our basketball teams were great and the girls were pretty.
Where do you place Terence “Bud” Crawford on the list of greatest athletes in Nebraska history?
I don’t know. Since he’s one of the first boxers, I’d put him in the top 10 somewhere. We are awfully proud of Bud, we don’t want to snub him. We have a lot of older guys that have done great things and Bud has come up behind them, but not that far behind them. I would put Bud somewhere in the top 10, and he’s got a lot more to come.
Have you had a chance to meet with coach Mike Riley already?
Oh yeah. We’re best friends already. I think coach is a great guy. The most impressive thing that I look at the most is that when Bo came, we had to start looking for coaches, hiring coaches from around the country and they came and went. Mike brought his coaches with him. He has a team of coaches he brought already organized, they already had their system, they already work together, they really get into winning and I think that they’re player-friendly. You're not going to get intimidated by your coach, you’re going to be taught by your coach. There’s not going to be any fear going on. It’s going to be a certain level of respect, and we’ll get back to that “win one for the Gipper” attitude that we had with Devaney and Osborne.