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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New York Jets By The Numbers: # 26 - Part 1

In the early 1970's as choices were abounding, as athletes were beginning to feel as free as the revelers at a New Canaan key party, players came and went with different leagues like strangers in the night. Margene Adkins was one of them. His career inspires me to think of a journey, an odyssey, a veritable peregrination.

Or so that was the word used to describe his career in the 1974 New York Jets yearbook. Here, despite the grammatical problems: "Jet scouts impressed with him in college and followed his peregrinations with interest." That's not an SAT word. That's a spelling bee word, a word you pretend to know the meaning of when you hear it, even if you haven't got a ballpark clue. Is that a growth of some kind? A peregrination? Is that a tumor? Which frustrated wordsmith had the Jets employed that year? Clearly, once again, I was born at the wrong time.

Though I'm not giving him the Booth Lustig, I have to give him credit for trying. At the beginning of his football journey, his extraordinary name of Margene must have been an inspiration for him at some level, for he'd have to have beaten up more than one boy who'd made fun of him. Maaar-geeeene. (SMASH!) Football players are forged from such things. Then he was apparently a standout player for the Ottawa Rough Riders in their Grey Cup victory in 1969. As his own Wikipedia entry points out, "In 1969, Adkins was voted to the CFL All-Star team after setting a regular season record for the highest average gain per pass reception at 25.0 yards, a record that stood for twenty-eight years (broken by Milt Stegall)." Yes. Milt Stegall.

Then on to Dallas in 1970 and the American pro career for which he had been waiting since graduating from Hutchinson Junior College. But all that was available for this potential running back/wide receiver was a job as a return specialist. By the time he came to the Jets in 1973 - this is almost sounding like a refrain now - he was riddled with injuries, both Canadian and American in origin. But now rest here, Margene Adkins, and rest easy. Thy peregrinations hast come to an end. Your game-worn jersey remains as a memento at webshots.com.

It is Dewey Bohling to whom we give tonight's Booth Lustig Award for the Funniest-Sounding Name in the Jersey #26. Having just arrived in St. Louis as a war bride in 1946, she knows that the game with pins is important to her adopted people, so she asks the question every night in her broken English to her beguiled husband and his stonily silent kin: "Dewey Bohling tonight?" A Titan for two seasons, Dewey Bohling, among other things no doubt, scored a touchdown in the Tites' first Thanksgiving game - a victory at the Polo Grounds against the Dallas Texans.

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