A True Story Of Injustice and a Wrongful Prosecution Of Lenwood "Skip" Hamilton that has Left a Deep and an Extremely Painful Wound.


SCW 07-25-1998 EVENT




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Chapter 16 – "Fly Like an Eagle"

Hamilton takes a huge step toward realizing his dream of playing professional football and returns home to Easton and lives with his friend Gino Nolasco. The two train every day under the scorching sun. The hometown Philadelphia Eagles bring Hamilton in for a workout. He shows enough to earn a free agent contract in June, 1984, and is invited to preseason camp at West Chester University. The odds are against him because the Eagles already are stocked with veteran defensive linemen. He draws the attention of Philadelphia Inquirer sports writer Jere Longman, who features him in a story during training camp. Hamilton also conducts interviews with Philadelphia TV stations, who probe into his New Orleans incarceration and hardscrabble life. Prior to his arrival the Eagles were wallowing in bad publicity from off-field incidents by some of their players, and the franchise could ill afford another player who might run afoul of the law. In retrospect, Hamilton believes the unfiltered interviews hurt his chances to make the team. Hamilton holds his own against the Eagles' veterans and impresses friends who come to see him and even those who didn't know who he was before visiting camp. "I went to training camp to see Andre Waters, who was a free agent at the time and was my teammate at Cheyney (University)," says Buddy Epps, a barber and community youth coach in Norristown, Pa. "Andre called me and said 'you got to see this dude we have at nose guard. Nobody can block him. He's killing people." Years later, Epps and Hamilton reconnect when they meet at a Norristown gym and Epps relates the story to Hamilton. Hamilton is cut by the Eagles in late August. When he is released by the Eagles, calls are made to arrange for Hamilton to play in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos. "They figured they'd send me up there for a year or two and then bring me back," Hamilton says.

Chapter 17 – "North of the Border"

It's not the National Football League but the Canadian Football League still is professional football, albeit with slightly different rules. Hamilton thrives on the defensive line with the Edmonton Eskimos and is drawing a paycheck as he finishes up the 1984 season and embarks on the 1985 season. One of his defensive line teammates is John Mandarich, nicknamed "Juicer" and the older brother of Green Bay Packers first-round draft pick Tony Mandarich, a noted steroid user who's career evaporated in the early 1990s when the National Football League instituted stringent drug testing. Hamilton believes it's only a matter of time before he returns to the NFL and can prove how good he is to everyone. However, Hamilton's inability to harness his life off the field ultimately hinders his ability to perform on the field. He grows disillusioned with the Canadian Football League and returns home, nearly killing himself when his car careens off the road and almost goes over a cliff.

Chapter 18 – "One Last Shot"

Do a Google search of Lenwood Hamilton and it shows he played in one NFL game for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Dallas Cowboys. Though there isn't an asterisk, there should be. This game occurs in 1987 when NFL players are in the midst of a mid-season strike and the league orders teams to fill their rosters with replacement players, or scabs. Hamilton, who lives nearby in Norristown, Pa., answers the call to fill a spot on a team coached reluctantly by Buddy Ryan, who exhibits nothing but disdain for his cast of replacements. Hamilton, by now, is far removed from peak physical shape and struggles in practice. Moreover, he must cross a picket line of NFL players that includes Mike Quick, the Eagles star receiver who was his teammate at N.C. State. Hamilton assesses the situation and glumly realizes his dream is dead. He hands in his Eagles uniform and walks away from professional football for good.

Chapter 19 – "Taming the Wild Child"

What do you do when you do not have an education to fall back on? What do you do when, as a professional athlete, you don't have a name to live on? Hamilton wonders why he just didn't attend class at North Carolina State and do what his coaches and academic advisors told him to do. Now, he would at least have a college degree. He admires former teammate Robert Abraham, a linebacker who may have been on Hamilton's academic level but took his studies seriously and earned a degree. Hamilton works odd jobs and sometimes aligns himself with shady characters who lead him into minor run-ins with the law. People who once embraced Hamilton and tried to help him when he was younger abandon him, or so he believes. Fortunately, Hamilton meets his future wife, Debbie, who he calls his "backbone," and he slowly pulls himself together. They begin a family that results in four children – two boys and two girls. He also has two other daughters by two women earlier in his life, and he has little, if no contact with them.

Chapter 20 – "The Rock"

When most former athletes are settling into middle age and refining their golf games, Hamilton is tossing himself around in the "squared circle" of pro wrestling, learning the tricks of the trade from the famous Wild Samoans at their wrestling school in Allentown, Pa. Hamilton, now in his mid-30s, believes he is on the cusp of joining the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and becoming an international star. He drops his weight from nearly 500 pounds into the 300s and displays the agility and moves of wrestlers half his size. He's sent to Europe and the Middle East to tour and play a subservient role to bigger, well-known stars. Though a deal to sign with the WWF falls through, Hamilton's personality is magnetic and he attracts investors to help him launch "Soul City Wrestling," a minority-based wrestling organization that performs in the Philadelphia area and delivers family-based entertainment void of profanity and racial stereotypes that are prevalent in many other pro wrestling circuits. Naturally, "Hard Rock" Hamilton is the star of the show and the champion.