Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lil Wayne & Lil Twist -- "That'll Be Cool" (2008)

Paint your shirt and room
Like an Oklahoma Sooner

The Billy Sims BBQ restaurant in Joplin, Missouri, is painted Oklahoma Sooner crimson both inside and out, and there are several Sooner football jerseys on display in the restaurant.

I never would have voluntarily set foot inside such an Oklahoma-glorifying place.  (I hope my sister doesn't read this post -- she would be so disappointed in me.)  But my mother ate at the Billy Sims place recently and loved it, so she suggested we have lunch there during my recent visit to Joplin.

Billy Sims grew up in the projects in St. Louis, but was sent to Hooks, Texas (population 2973) when he was an 8th-grader to live with his grandmother.  In high school, he gained a remarkable 7738 yards in three years as a running back for the Hooks Hornets, which got the attention of Oklahoma Sooners coach Barry Switzer.

Sims missed much of his first two seasons at the University of Oklahoma due to injuries, but rushed for 1762 yards on 231 carries as a junior (a spectacular average of 7.6 yards per carry) and won the Heisman Trophy, given every year to the most outstanding player in college football.

He did almost as well his senior year, and finished second in the Heisman voting to USC running back Charles White.  But the Detroit Lions showed who they thought was the better player by drafting Sims with the very first pick of the 1980 NFL draft.

Sims certainly put up better numbers in the NFL than White did.  And he certainly had a better Afro:

The only professional athlete I remember who had a clearly superior 'fro to Sims was baseball player Oscar Gamble:

The Lions had the #1 overall pick because they had finished a woeful 2-14 in the 1979 season.  But with Sims rushing for over 1300 rushing yards, catching 51 passes, and scoring a league-leading 16 TDs, the Lions tied for first place in their division with a 9-7 record.  He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and went to the Pro Bowl.  

Sims' 1981 numbers were about the same, and he was selected to go to the Pro Bowl again.  He went to the Pro Bowl a third straight time after the strike-shortened 1982 season.

Jerry Argovitz, who was Sims's agent, demanded that the Lions give his a new contract in 1983.  When Detroit dragged its feet, Sims signed with the Houston Gamblers of the fledgling United States Football League.  

But it was later revealed that Argovitz owned 29% of the Houston franchise, and that he had failed to give the Lions a chance to match Houston's offer to Sims.  Sims sued Argovitz in federal court for breach of fiduciary duty and won.  The court rescinded the player's contract with the Houston team and Sims returned to the Lions for the 1983 season.

Here's an amazing Sims play from that season:

The ex-Sooner star led the Lions to a division title that year.  He was on track for another outstanding season in 1984, averaging a career-best 5.3 yards per carry in the Lions' first eight games.  But Sims suffered a devastating knee injury against the Minnesota Vikings and never played again.

The former Sooner had earned several million dollars as an NFL running back, and an insurance policy from Lloyds of London paid him $1.9 million when he was injured.  "I'm not leaving the game broke," he said at his farewell press conference in Detroit.

Famous last words.  In 1990, Sims and his wife filed for bankruptcy.  Their bankruptcy filing listed their assets as their home in Hooks, a van, a pickup truck, a tractor, four horses, and $150 in a checking account.  Their debts totaled $2.263 million.  

According to a USA Today story, Sims' unsuccessful business ventures included a dinette manufacturer, a mini-supermarket, a nightclub, a chain of eyeglass stores, an apartment complex, a car parts manufacturer, a chain of catfish restaurants, a radio station, a dry cleaner, and a water-purification business.  Click here to read that USA Today story.

Sims and his wife (who had four children) got a divorce after the financial problems reared their ugly head.  In 1998, Sims spent a month in jail for failing to pay child support.  Later that year, he was charged with domestic abuse after allegedly shoving his second wife to the floor during an argument about car keys.  

In 1999, he was convicted of assault for choking wife number two.  He was placed on probation for 18 months and ordered to undergo family violence counseling.  

At the time of his conviction, Sims didn't have a real job.  He picked up some money by appearing at autograph shows.  And he appeared on a cable TV called Tough Bowl, which featured boxing matches between former NFL stars.  Sims was knocked out in his first-round bout.  

In December 2000, word got out that Sims's Heisman Trophy was being auctioned off.  (Sims had previously sold a number of his trophies to a Hooks businessman whose son had been a childhood friend of Sims, and who became a father figure to the ex-gridiron star.)

Sims with his Heisman Trophy
That news got an Oklahoma assistant U.S. attorney all hot and bothered because Sims owed back child support to a daughter born out of wedlock when he was still in college.  

(Some days, you wish you had just stayed in bed . . .)

Today Billy Sims seems to be doing a little better.  He works with a sports marketing company, gives motivational speeches, signs autographs at personal appearances, and works with a nonprofit educational organization called AmericaCan.  And he has lent his name to the Billy Sims BBQ franchise chain.

Billy Sims BBQ currently has 23 locations -- ten in the Tulsa area, six in greater Oklahoma City, four elsewhere in Oklahoma, two in Missouri (Joplin and Springfield), and one in suburban Detroit, where loyal Lions fans still remember him fondly.

Billy Sims restaurants aren't fancy.  You order at a counter and take your food to your table yourself.  They don't sell beer or wine -- soft drinks only.  

But all the meats are smoked on the premises and sliced to order, and most of the customers who have posted online reviews agree with my mother and say it's pretty good eatin'.  

Not surprisingly, the restaurant is awash in Sims and Sooner-related memorabilia.  Here's the big-ass Billy Sims bobblehead doll that stands next to the cash register:

Here's a framed and autographed jersey that belonged to Steve Owens, another Oklahoma running back who won the Heisman Trophy (in 1969), was drafted by the Detroit Lions, and had a good NFL career cut short by knee injuries.  Owens appeared with Sims last month to shake hands and sign autographs at the grand opening of the Detroit Billy Sims BBQ restaurant, so I'm guessing the two are good friends.  (2 or 3 lines will have more to say about Owens in an upcoming post.)

I had a smoked Polish sausage sandwich when I visited the Billy Sims store in Joplin with my parents.  It was quite tasty, but you have to work pretty hard to make smoked Polish sausage anything but delicious.  My mother gives high marks to the chicken.  

If I ever go back, I'll try the ribs.  But I doubt that I ever will go back.  I don't care how good the smoked Polish sausage and ribs are.  There's WAY too much Oklahoma crap there to make eating at a Billy Sims restaurant a pleasant experience for me.  

It could be worse -- Sims could have been an Arkansas Razorback.  If he had, there's no chance I go in his restaurant.  (Sorry, mom.)

Here's our featured song, "That'll Be Cool," by Lil Twist.  Lil Twist (who was born Christopher Moore) is a young rapper who was signed to Young Money Entertainment by Lil Wayne, who raps the first verse of this song:

"That'll Be Cool" is not available on Amazon.  If you want to download it, you're on your own.

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