Former Dickinson football standout Luis Almanzar's determination to find a career in professional football has enabled him to get another shot in the National Football League.
The defensive tackle, who played for the University of Nebraska and was a member of the Cornhuskers' 1998 national championship team, then Southwest Missouri State, was signed two weeks ago to a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos and has been with the team ever since.
The 27-year-old Almanzar has been trying to hook on in the NFL for the last three years, after almost making the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001, then the St. Louis Rams last year out of training camp - getting released on the final cut both times.
The 6-3, 295-pound Almanzar played one year for the New Jersey Gladiators of the Arena Football League and was in training camp earlier this year with the Seattle Seahawks.
Almanzar also played in NFL Europe as an allocation from the Seahawks.
Almanzar has yet to play for the Broncos, having been placed on the inactive roster for each of the last two games. But he's with an NFL team during the regular season for the first time, so it is a step in the right direction.
Here's to hoping that Almanzar gets a chance to stick this time. Ever since the retirement of Union City's Frank Winters from the Green Bay Packers earlier this year, Hudson County has been without a representative in the NFL.
Well, that is, unless you count the commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, who is a native of Jersey City and a graduate of the now-defunct St. Michael's of Union City...
Four Jersey City public high school students were given a chance of a lifetime last week when they were honored by the Newark YMWCA with a $1,000 scholarship as part of the organization's "Sports Legends: A Decade of Caring" dinner at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck.
Niuyue Lin and Adam Romatoslyn of Ferris and Danny Staggers and Crystal Ebonee Lee of Snyder were among the 10 students who received a $1,000 college scholarship courtesy of the Newark YMWCA.
Not only did the students get a scholarship for simply filling out an application and writing an essay, but they were also treated to meet more than 70 all-time greats from all different sports, mostly retired legends from the National Football League, that were in attendance.
Some of the all-time legends included Hall of Fame gridders Larry Little from the Miami Dolphins and Carl Eller of the Minnesota Vikings, as well as former Viking greats Chuck Foreman, Stu Voight, Joey Browner, Nate Wright and John Gilliam; NBA Hall of Famer "Sweet" Lou Hudson and former NBA rebounding champion Dan Roundfield; former Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs; three-time American League batting champion Tony Oliva and former heavyweight boxing contender James "Bonecrusher" Smith.
New York Giants receiver Amani Toomer was the guest of honor, but recently retired Seton Hall University baseball coach Mike Sheppard was given an award for his years of service.
There were also some Jersey City natives among the legends in attendance, namely former track Olympian Charlie Mays and Richie Glover, the former University of Nebraska All-American and Outland Trophy winner, who played for the Giants and the Eagles in the NFL in the 1970s... -- Jim Hague