From the sports editor: Candeloro will miss Blue-Gold this year

Dan Candeloro. State News file photo

Dan Candeloro has always had a certain fondness for the Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game.

It started when he represented Dickinson High in the 1982 contest.

“For me, playing in it 30-some years ago, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Candeloro, now the Caesar Rodney head coach.

So it was sad for Candeloro, and a lot of people around the state, to hear on Thursday the news that the 65th annual Blue-Gold game won’t be played this June.

Of course, it’s just one of countless sporting events that have been canceled as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. Candeloro, who was the Gold head coach last year, certainly understands the decision to call it off.

But it’s still disappointing for him.

Because of its ties to special-needs children — whether it was raising money for organizations or pairing game participants with buddies — the Blue-Gold game has always been about a lot more than football. Candeloro is a former special-education teacher.

“Walking around right before the game, when their buddies come out, is a heart-warming 10 or 15 minutes,” said Candeloro. “Watching those big, tough football players get down on the ground and play with their buddies or put their helmets on, it’s just really a heart-tugging thing.

“I’m really sad for it,” he added. “It shines a light on those entities (that help special-needs children) for a moment and gets everyone re-thinking and focusing on how we can effect kids that have disabilities and cheer the abilities that they have.”

Even just from a football sense, Candeloro believes the Blue-Gold game does a lot of good. He says he’s still friends with guys he met playing his year.

At its best, the contest has brought a feeling of camaraderie to players who had been rivals throughout their high school careers.

“From a coaching standpoint, you get to bring those guys together,” said Candeloro, who has coached in the game three times. “It’s really neat to see them check their egos at the door and become a team. It’s really cool.

“In my experience, all the kids who were nominated by their coaches around the state were just really good kids. Win, lose or draw they were in it for their buddies and to represent their school and their communities and things like that. It was more than just a football game.”

Candeloro said he’s always talked up the Blue-Gold game to his CR players. He tells them there’s no better way to cap off their high school career than being chosen to play in the game.

Like everyone else who’s a fan of the Blue-Gold game, Candeloro hopes the tradition can pick right up where it left off when hopefully things are back to normal next year.

“I hope and pray that game never goes away,” he said.

It’s about the money

At the end of the day, the New England Patriots’ decision to trade Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions came down to what it often does in the NFL.

It was about the money.

Harmon, the former Caesar Rodney standout, said Patriots’ coach Bill Belechick explained the decision to him in a phone call.

“He just told me, ‘Look, it’s just at the point where we have to make some moves,’” Harmon said on the podcast Double Coverage. “‘We just paid (fellow defensive back Devin McCourty) and it’s just going to be really tough to really do anything, or get anything done in free agency if we don’t do this.’

“I can only respect that,” said Harmon. “At the end of the day, we know that Bill is going to do what is best for the team. I respect that because not a lot of people can do that and always have that type of commitment and dedication to always making sure the team’s first.”

Harmon spent seven seasons playing safety for the Patriots. Going into the final year of his contract, he would have counted $4.25 million against New England’s cap space.

In Detroit, Harmon will be re-united with coach Matt Patricia, New England’s former defensive coordinator.

Monster Trophy No. 2

Apparently, Dover International Speedway’s Monster trophy is highly-regarded.

The trophy was ranked second among NASCAR trophies in a story posted on NASCAR.com on Friday.

Only Martinsville Speedway’s grandfather clock was rated ahead of the Monster among the 16 trophies that made the list.

“The Monster Mile’s marvelous, mammoth, monster mascot, Miles, makes many memories magnifying medalists’ mantles of mementos,” the trophy was described in the article.

Martin Truex, Jr., who won a 50th anniversary Monster trophy last year, would agree. Dover first started handing out that model trophy in 2004.

“I saw the trophy in the driver’s meeting yesterday and I said that’s pretty awesome,” Truex said last May. “That golden one is special. It’s pretty awesome to win on the 50th anniversary of Dover International Speedway.”

Dover’s May race was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But track officials hope to be able to award a Monster trophy when the track’s second race of the season moves to its new dates, Aug. 21-23.

A little perspective

Jared Ambrose, Delaware’s football offensive coordinator, doesn’t have much problem keeping some perspective during the pandemic.

He may be stuck at home, unable to work with his players in person. But his wife, Ashley, is going to work every day in the health-care field.

“She’s trying to help, cure, take care of people during the worst medical pandemic that’s ever happened in our life,” Ambrose said in a story on BlueHens.com. “She comes home every day with a smile on her face, maybe a little more tired than normal. She’s amazing.”

From a football standpoint, Ambrose said it’s interesting to be able to study film at such an in-depth level because of the extra downtime. The added time he gets to spend with he and his wife’s three children is pretty special, too.

“When my kids are all grown up,” Ambrose said in the story, “they’re probably going to think about that time in 2020 when ‘I got to spend a lot of time with my dad and he got to teach me a lot of stuff.’”