Surprise! Many George Allen Teammates Remember Him <em>Not</em> Being a Racist

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 25, 2006 12:40 PM

Well, looky there.

What did I say last night? That the Salon folks should have quoted the supportive teammates more extensively? Well, the Allen campaign had to do it for them, but the quotes are interesting:

Shelton claimed that Allen gave him the nickname "Wizard" because he shared the last name of a high-ranking Klan man. Other teammates say, not so much:

Joe Gieck, 35-year UVA trainer: “I seem to recall that Ken Shelton got the ‘Wizard’ nickname for his pass catching ability and before George Allen came to the University of Virginia.”

George Korte, UVA linebacker ‘70-’73: “Ken Shelton received his nickname because of his ability as a tight end to magically get open and catch the football not because he shared someone’s last name.

Charlie Hale, UVA center ‘70-’73: I have always known him by the nickname, ‘Wizard’. I have always thought the name came from his ability to catch passes … or his ability to somehow get open in the field. Personally I believe that he was a true ‘Wizard’ because he always had the ability to sneak out after curfew and never get caught.”

And, gee, all three of these guys are named sources, too. Click through to the Allen campaign's blog post on this, which has many more quotes.

As journalists accusing Allen of something pretty heinous less than two months before an election, the Salon gang really should have let these guys speak more extensively in the article, even if they wanted to bury it beneath the more newsworthy storyline about Allen being a racist.

Update: From Otis in comments we learn that the WaPo is workin' the phones, undoubtedly ticked that the Salon gang got out ahead of them on this. Just movin' on down the roster:

A friend of mine who was a walk-on on the 1972-73 UVA football team got a call from a WaPo reporter earlier today wanting to know if my friend had ever heard Allen use the "N" word. My friend's answer was no, he hadn't.

There seem to be an awful lot of those "no's," don't there?

Allen was President of the UVA Senior Class of 1974 (which was my class at UVA), and he was the QB on the football team. He was quite high profile. I did not know him personally, but my wife (who was Class of 1975) knew him fairly well. Neither she, nor I, nor anyone of whom we are aware had ever heard any of this crap before.

There do seem to be a lot of "no"s, don't there? I wonder how many of them the WaPo will quote and name.

Meanwhile, Allen calls the claims "ludicrously false."

And, our own Dean is disheartened by the campaign in general, as am I. Low turn-out this year in Virginia will be attributed to a wide-spread case of the heebee geebees.

Update: Allen's got another Ham behind him--a black former teammate of his. It is so very lame that everyone's reduced to dialing every person on the mid-70s UVA football roster to total the number who say he's racist and the number who say he's not, so we can add 'em all up on some karmic abacus (extra points for a black guy!).

But, alas, such is politics, and charges of racism as I mentioned last night, are harder to shake than others. Allen has done himself no favors in this area (Macacagate and the Confederate flag stuff), but that doesn't mean he should be smeared without his defenders getting plenty of airtime, too.

An African-American teammate of George Allen’s has stepped forward to comment on these allegations.

Statement from Rev. Gary Ham, defensive corner on the University of Virginia football team 1969 thru 1973. Rev. Ham was one of the African-American players on the UVA football team at the time:

“Let me say honestly, that I was not a close acquaintance with Senator Allen during our football days at UVA but I do not recall any language or behavior that was racist in nature.

“I have better recollections of Senator Allen when he was the Governor of VA. Although I disagreed with the position which he took on Martin Luther King Day, I believed him to be a man who was open to dialogue with African-Americans and other minority groups. He did much to promote outreach to poor neighborhoods and communities through faith-based initiatives.”