Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A colleague's advice: 'You should write a book'

       I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with Craig Greenlee many times. He has been a longtime contributor to the Winston-Salem Journal (NC) sports pages. I spent 20 years in the WXII-TV sports department in Winston-Salem.
       Usually, I’d see Craig at high school football or basketball games. Occasionally, I’d run into him at college games. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that Craig had been a member of Marshall University’s football team – the year before the plane crash and the year after.
       I immediately told him, “You should write a book.” He told me he was already hard at work on one.
       That book – November Ever After – is finally finished, and available.
       We often put ourselves in the position of “What if?”
       Well, Craig has lived with that “What if?” for over 40 years.
       I can’t wait to read it.
Dave Goren

Dave Goren is the executive director of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and Hall of Fame.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Carl Lee: 'I'm trying to fathom what it was like .....'

Editor’s Note: In a recent radio interview about the memoir November Ever After, former Marshall and pro football star Carl Lee shared his perceptions about the 1970 plane crash with book author Craig T. Greenlee. Here's an excerpt from that interview.

During his NFL career, Lee was a three-time Pro Bowl
pick at cornerback.
       "I thought the movie (We Are Marshall) was a great movie. And with me being a Marshall guy, it gave me a completely different perspective (about November 14, 1970). And a lot of the guys I played with, we all talked about this.
       We didn’t get it. We really didn’t get the gist of how big this story was when we were there (at Marshall from ’79 to ’82). We knew about it (plane crash), but we really didn’t get it.
       When I came in as a kid in ’79, there was a lot of stuff that happened that I would have liked to have known about. What about this guy? What was he like? Where did he come from? Learning about all of that would be very interesting.
       I’m trying to fathom what it was like the week, two weeks after this had happened. You’re on campus and you’re trying to go to class. You’re walking around campus, you go to the cafeteria; you go to the gym. I just can’t see what campus could look like or even feel like in those couple of weeks after the crash.
        Is there any way to articulate what that was like?
        We had an athletic dorm (when I was at Marshall) and all the athletes were all in one dorm. What I can’t imagine is empty rooms. We were in Hodges Hall and I can remember how loud Hodges Hall always was. All the time, all hours of the night, there were always people roaming around. I can’t imagine walking down the hallways of Hodges Hall and seeing empty rooms with clothes still in the closets.
       I can’t even imagine what that would have been like."

Carl Lee played cornerback for twelve NFL seasons, mostly with the Minnesota Vikings. He is now a co-host for “The Drive” a sports talk show on ESPN Radio. “The Drive” airs Monday through Friday from to on WVRC (104.5 FM/1490 AM) in Charleston, West Virginia. In 1995, Lee was inducted into the Marshall University Athletics Hall of Fame (football, track and field).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anticipation: 'This is a story whose time has come'

       Ever since I first learned of your book -- November Ever After -- a few weeks ago, I've been anxiously awaiting its release. I've long suspected that the story of the Marshall University plane crash and its effect on those connected to the tragedy is far more elaborate and nuanced than the current narrative portrayed by major media and Hollywood.
       For example, I would like to learn more about the racial tension and volatility on the Marshall campus prior to the crash, and the role the disaster played in unifying the student body through the grieving and rebuilding processes. Also, given the rather cursory treatment of evangelist Ed Carter's full story in the popular media, I especially relish the opportunity to further explore the impact the incident had on both his personal life and his decision to become an evangelist. (He would later establish Death Unto Life Ministries.)
       Another interesting aspect for the book to examine is the short- and long-term effects the crash had on a community (Huntington, West Virginia) that lost so many of its prominent citizens.
       On a final note, I hope your book will provide a glimpse into the interview process you undertook in creating this work. As a reader, it would be interesting to enter—in some small measure—the cathartic experience of discussing poignant memories that have been locked away for some four decades, and to better understand the sense of release that often comes with relating some of life's most challenging ordeals with someone who can truly empathize.
       Again, I am highly excited about your project. This is a story whose time has come, and I can hardly wait for the opportunity to explore new angles of this multifaceted telling of how triumph overcame tragedy.
Scott Dennis

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stories of victory rise from ashes of plane crash

       I look forward to reading November Ever After by Craig Greenlee. I have personally enjoyed talking with him about his memoir dealing with the tragic plane crash of the Marshall University football team and the events that followed.
       My first insight into this story came through the personal testimony of evangelist Ed Carter, who was a player on Marshall’s football team in 1970. While preaching at our church in Sumter, South Carolina in the early 1980s, he explained how his mother told him the plane was going to crash. Eventually, she was successful in persuading him to not get on the plane.
       Initially, Ed was thought to be on the plane when it crashed, and his name was listed in the obituary column of a local newspaper in his home town. To this day, I can remember him showing us the newspaper clipping of the obituary column! God saved Ed after that crash and called him to preach. He has since been used to win people to Christ all across this country and the world.
       Even today, there are many stories of triumph that are rising from the ashes of that horrific crash in November of 1970. A recent example occurred in March 2011. Ed preached at the Faith Baptist Church in Margate, Florida and 12 souls were saved, one of whom was Johnny Lewis, his former teammate at Marshall University. Ed and Johnny had not seen one another since 1973!
       I’m excited that Ed Carter’s story is one of many that will be told. I appreciate Bro. Craig Greenlee and the hard work that has gone into producing this book. November Ever After is a must read for me.
Pastor Gregory Dennis

Gregory Dennis is the pastor of Fellowship Bible Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

All the way live: it's launch day for book, website

       There’s a buzz of activity taking place this week with the memoir November Ever After. Here’s the latest update. Be sure to stay tuned for further developments.
The book is out
       November Ever After ( iUniverse Publishing) is available for purchase at several retail outlets. Written by Craig T. Greenlee, the book takes a look back at the 1970 Marshall football plane crash and its aftermath.
       Greenlee is a former defensive back for the Thundering Herd. He played two years before leaving the team at the end of his sophomore season in 1969 – a year before the crash.
       As a former teammate, he knew most of the players who were passengers on that ill-fated flight. After the crash, Greenlee returned to the team and took part in the rebuilding process in the spring of 1971, only five months after the tragedy.
       November Ever After is available at the outlets listed below. On the upper right-hand portion of this page, go to “Buy the Book” and click on the outlet of your choice to purchase:
  • iUniverse
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Books A Million
  • Powell’s Books
  • Diesel eBook Store

       You can buy the book as a paperback or as an E-Book. For paperback orders, please allow one to three weeks for delivery.
Website is all set
       The new website is designed to provide additional insights into the writing of November Ever After. The author explains why this story is just as riveting today as it was over forty years ago.
       Aside from that, you’ll get a sneak preview in the form of an excerpt from one of the book’s chapters. This preview takes readers back in time to the night when a school lost most of its football team in a horrible plane crash. Not only that, you’ll learn a few things about the author that you may not have known.
       Plus, there’s a video page; audio will come later. There’s also a section that allows readers to post questions and/or comments.
       Click on this link to visit the new website:

Monday, August 22, 2011

MU family will always remember November 1970

The book's author from back in the day.
Throughout life, many events come our way; good and bad that can reflect not only our life at the moment of occurrence; but as the years come and go. This is what the memoir November Ever After presents to its readers.

It’s not only the story of a tragic moment in the history of our country and Marshall University. It’s also a time that Craig T. Greenlee, the book’s author, will always remember.
Greenlee started several games for the Thundering Herd as a defensive back. But by the end of his sophomore season, he had lost the hunger to compete. He left the team a year before crash and as a result, his life was spared. The crash was an unforgettable event that shook a small college campus in a West Virginia city that sits next to the Ohio River and borders the states of Ohio and Kentucky.
When the 1970 college football season began, Greenlee was no longer on the roster; but his ties to the team remained through his association with the players. It’s through this bond that November Ever After presents another side of the story; one that not only fills in the missing details; but shows how the tragic event affected those who were left behind and how each person chose to deal with his or her loss.
The harsh reality of what happened on November 14, 1970 didn’t really settle in Craig’s mind until a week after the crash. It hit full force when he went to Waco, Texas to attend the funeral of Scottie Reese, who was his best friend.
This book presents a perspective of someone who lived through the horror and turmoil of that time. The author is not someone who was on the outside looking in. Rather, he was forced to look inward at himself. Collectively, he and his former schoolmates found a way to carry on with their lives.
Marshall University, its alumni and supporters will always remember those who died in that horrible plane crash nearly 41 years ago. And they will never forget—not because of a film or a book, but because they share a connection which can never be broken or destroyed.
Tex Noel
Tex Noel is the executive director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Memoir gives readers an up-close look at history

        I have had the good fortune to work with an outstanding writer. Not just any writer, a sports writer. Craig Greenlee is deep, insightful and inspiring.
       This brother is a great read. He takes you there. You don’t have to wonder about what is going on – you know. Craig is quiet, soft-spoken, and reflective. If he puts “pen to paper” about something, it’s worth writing about. It’s worth knowing about.
       He takes you inside the aftermath of what was one of the most tragic events in the world of sports. The vintage photos and images in the video teasers leave you focused and seared with the weight of that time.
       What comes back to you is that the Marshall players are so full of life and expectations. For the coaches, the players, their parents, relatives, classmates, friends, and supporters, it began as a year of promise. It didn’t end that way.
       Don’t sleep on this one. A must read.
                                                                                          Rudy Anderson

Rudy Anderson, a former television news anchor and newspaper editor, is a communications project manager at Winston-Salem State University (NC).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Talk show host: my interview was 'so enlightening'

       My interview with Craig Greenlee about his memoir November Ever After was so enlightening. His passion for sharing his and other Marshall family members’ stories resonated over the airwaves.
       Determined to reveal the missing links to the Marshall University story in 1970, he educated me on the rich history that took place surrounding the horrible period in many individuals’ lives.
       I truly appreciate Mr. Greenlee contributing to such an integral piece of sports history that the general public either knows nothing about, or just one side of the story. Although We Are Marshall was an excellent film, I look forward to reading about the numerous stories, points of views and experiences of those voices that were lost and were viewed as distant memories. Craig Greenlee carries such conviction and passion in his heart and I appreciate him committing to writing a story that needs to be told --  November Ever After.
                                                                                               Gyasmine George
Gyasmine George is the host of the sports talk show “Female Field Guide.” The show airs on Sundays at (Pacific Standard Time) on blog talk radio.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book dedication: To my Mom, a.k.a. "Miss Winnie"

       It's fitting and proper that I dedicate my first book -- November Ever After --  to my mother. And that’s because Winnie F. Greenlee is most the determined person I have ever known.
       The words "I can't" were never in her vocabulary.
       Mom worked for 47 years in civil service and retired early to take care of my father after he retired. When Dad passed away, my mother sold the house that I helped to build as a teenager (I was a carpenter’s helper). She had a new home built and was 74 at the time.
       As things turned out, it was only beginning of what she wanted to accomplish. Mom decided to go back to school and a few years later, she earned a college degree in business management at the age of 80. Mom, though, wasn’t content with finishing school. She devoted a few years to teaching as a substitute in the public school system in St. John’s County, Florida...
       In the meantime, she always made the time to do her own yard work every Wednesday. It’s not like she had to, she wanted to. Aside from mowing grass and trimming where needed, she always found time to work in her garden that was heavily populated with plants, flowers and shrubs.
       I had every intention of not telling Mom about the book being dedicated to her until it was finished. I wanted it to be a surprise.
       All that went out the window when I talked with one of the nurses who tended to Mom after she moved to an assisted living facility. The nurse, whose name I can’t remember, grew up in West Virginia and graduated from Marshall. Here’s how that conversation went:
       “Craig, your mom tells me that you went to Marshall in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Were you there at the time of the plane crash?”
       “Sure was,” I answered. “Fact is, I’m writing a book about it.”
       “Hey, that’s great. Keep me posted on your progress.”
…….I didn’t think anything more about that conversation until I talked to Mom the next day.
       “I heard that you’re writing a book about the time you were at Marshall,” she said. “The nurse told me all about it.”
       Shocked that she knew, I realized that my plans to surprise her were shot: “Well, yeah, I’m working on it,” I said. “So I might as well go ahead and tell you now that I’m dedicating the book to you.”
       Mom seemed to be caught off guard with that bit of news. But I could tell she was interested in what I might say in a dedication. But she never pressed me for more information on the subject.
       It was my sincere hope that I would be able to present Mom with a copy of November Ever After. I had every reason to believe that she would still be here in 2011. Things didn’t turn out that way. Mom passed away in March of last year, three months shy of her 90th birthday.
       The example set by my mother, known to many as “Miss Winnie” is always present before me. When I sit down in front of my computer to write, all I have to do is look at her college degree which is mounted on the wall in front of me. At those times when I don’t feel like writing, I look at that framed degree and realize that at age 80, Mom had more than enough gumption, drive and determination to see things through to the very end. So the question I find myself asking myself is this: If she was able to do what she did at 80 years old, then what’s my problem?

Monday, August 8, 2011

'The hurt is so tremendous, you can hardly stand it'

Editor’s Note: It’s quite revealing to take a retrospective look at history, especially when it involves history that you’re well-acquainted with. The article below represents an accurate summation of the deep grief felt by the Marshall University student body when most of the school’s football team died in a 1970 plane crash. It’s evident that Cathy Gibbs wrote from the depths of her heart. This piece appeared in the 1971 edition of the Chief Justice yearbook at MU. Gibbs was the yearbook’s co-managing editor for the 1970-71 school year.

       Sometimes life seems so unjust … God gives you friends through college and only a few months or years later, they’re taken away. Every time you remember them – the things they used to say or do – the hurt is so tremendous, you can hardly stand it.
       After times like these, one often wonders, ‘Why us? Why our school, our town, our people? Your mind keeps asking, ‘What purpose can this serve, why so much suffering? I have yet to find an adequate answer to the continual question, WHY?
       They were a proud team and staff with loyal supporters. In the football office a sign states, ‘Pride and Sacrifice.’ They showed that pride and made the sacrifice.
       Marshall football will continue, just as life must. A new staff will take their duties, but not their places; a new team will fight for victories, for themselves and lost teammates; more fans will fill the stadium, but not their homes. Marshall University is preparing a new beginning for a terrible end.
       We have hope.
       The stadium needs to be filled with cries of cheer, not woe. Every one of those guys loved football. They loved and needed to play. They enjoyed every triumph and learned from every defeat. They were on that field for a purpose and the purpose is still there.
       And when the Big Green plays this fall, their purpose and love will be with them … and so should we.
       Keep the faith.

Cathy Gibbs

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is Randy Moss gone for good? Don't bet on it

       Randy Moss is no longer in pro football. The supremely gifted wide receiver has decided to call it a career. Really? Hmmmmm. I’m not buying it.
       Fact is, I’d be shocked if he stayed retired. Sure, he’s 34, but he’s not like most 34-year olds who have played in the league for 13 seasons. He’s not beat up; his legs are what they always were. Has he slowed a step or two? Don’t think so. Randy’s still got the handy hands and the beep-beep speed to beguile and bedazzle defenders. At some point during this season, GMs will come calling if they aren’t calling already. Game-changing deep threats are hardly a dime a dozen.
       While this blog is devoted to my soon-to-be released memoir November Ever After, providing perspective on Randy Moss might seem out of place. That’s hardly the case.
       Randy Moss represents the zenith of Marshall University football. Those players who came before Moss are the connecting links between the Thundering Herd’s past and its glory years of the ‘90s. And this is especially true for those football athletes from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. The group from that era was the genesis of what was to come in later years. Had it not been for the recruiting scandal of ’69 and the tragic plane crash the following year, there’s no doubt that the Thundering Herd would have made its mark on college football way before the 1990s.
       For all of Moss’s off-the-field issues, nobody (whether you like him or not) can deny his value and talent as one of the best who ever played the game. Here’s my favorite Randy Moss moment:
       Super Bowl XLII/Giants vs. Patriots: Moss scored on a pass from Tom Brady for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with just under three minutes left to play in the game. But the Giants stormed back and regained the lead at 17-14 on Eli Manning’s TD pass to Plaxico Burris.
       The Patriots get the ball back and they’re in hurry-up mode. An incomplete pass and a sack put New England in bad position. The Pats are pinned deep in their own territory. It’s third-and-20 with 19 seconds showing on the game clock. Now, it’s a no-brainer as to who Brady will look for. Sure enough, Brady rolls out to escape the rush and he launches a 75-yard throw downfield.
       The Giants were prepared. Two defenders, who were already playing 25 yards off the ball, double team Moss. He appears to be covered, but suddenly, he finds an extra gear and gets two steps ahead of the coverage. Giants cornerback Corey Webster gets his hands up in time to knock the ball away. But the only reason he’s able to do so, was that Brady’s pass was under-thrown. Looking back at the tape, it appeared that Moss could have made the catch had the ball been thrown far enough for him to run it down.
       The point I’m making is this: Everybody in the stadium knew that Moss was going deep. The Giants were in a semi-prevent defense with two guys assigned to Moss. And yet, Moss still managed to get open – with time running out and a Super Bowl championship on the line. Really can’t fault Brady. I ‘m not sure if any NFL quarterback could have thrown a pass far enough that would have given Moss a chance to make a play.
       Like any athlete, the Marshall legend has his supporters and detractors. Below is a comment posted to Randy Moss’s official website right after he announced his retirement (posted by Niners Need Moss)
       Okay, so you're not going to get on a team that has a shot at the Super Bowl. BIG DEAL. Come on Randy! We (the Niners) could surely use you. And think of all the good you'd be doing for a team that needs some veteran leadership to get back on its feet? Two years with us and you'll be accredited as a founding father of a new dynasty. That's a great cap to a career that seriously needs a great cap. It's not your time to retire Randy. Retire now and it's a sad end to a troubled saga. Stay, and help a team that needs you. Become a mentor, THEN your legacy will be assured as greatness.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A shout-out to all those who helped with my memoir

       From a production standpoint, my first book November Ever After is about to cross the finish line.
Writing this book has taken me on a journey that I'm not likely to forget anytime soon. And I'm just elated that I got so much help from the people I interviewed for this book to help me along the way.
       Thanks to you guys, the book is more complete. Bringing your personal perspectives to the table definitely enhanced the book's flavor. And that's just the way it should be.
       For those who may not know, November Ever After is a memoir of my football-playing days at Marshall University in the late '60/early '70s. I was in school at the time of the Marshall plane crash that killed most of the football on the night of November 14, 1970. I left the team after the '69 season, so I was not on the team at the time of the tragedy.
       Not being on the team didn't ease the shock of it all. Even now, forty-something years down the line, it's still a sad and sobering memory. I knew most the guys on that plane.
       When the school started to pick up the pieces of its football program, I rejoined the team for that process. The spring of '71 was an interesting time, and I got an opportunity to be part of it.
       While football is the anchor for November Ever After, football is not the entire package for this saga. There's a very personal side that's revealed through my voice and the voices of former teammates and schoolmates. Our collective insights will help readers get a very good understanding of how things really were back then.
      So here's a hearty shout-out to all the folks I interviewed for this book.
      Thanks aplenty goes to: Reverend Ed Carter, Dickie Carter, Felix Jordan, Mickey Jackson, Reggie Oliver, Angela Dodson, Murrial Jarrett, Macie Lugo, Debbie Bailey (Bowen), Janice Cooley, Bill Redd, Albert Evans, Bill Dodson, Joe Bundy, Lawson Brooks, Chuck Landon, Paulette (Dodson) Scott, Larry Isom, Gary Young, and Mike Price (football coach at the University of Texas-El Paso).
     These folks willingly joined me in helping to tell a story that's never been told. All of that is going to change when November Ever After comes hot off the press in the coming weeks.
     Initially, the book will be available only on the iUniverse website. A few weeks after that, readers can pick up a copy through Barnes & Noble or I'll be sure to keep you posted through this blog and on the website, which is expected to be operational by the end of August.