Jean Porter relied on grace and speed to zip past larger roller derby opponents with such nicknames as Slugger, Toughie and Big Red.
The petite Ms. Porter, who has died at 90, was a dervish on the professional circuit’s banked wooden ovals. A moon-faced beauty with jet-black eyes and a flawless complexion, her photograph appeared in newspapers across the continent as well as in such magazines as Life, Collier’s, and Picture Post. Fans of the sport voted her Roller Derby Beauty Queen in 1955 and she was runner-up for the title in the following two seasons.
She portrayed herself as the ingénue in Roller Derby Girl, a five-minute film released in 1949 about a rookie skater in the burgeoning sport. The Paramount Pacemaker featurette, which promised “sock ‘em thrills & spills” in its billing, was screened along with cartoons and newsreels before main features at cinemas across North America. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1950.
The skater was a fan favourite in the sport as an undersized underdog who tried to avoid the elbows, knees and, sometimes, fists of rivals. At a top speed of 35 miles per hour (56 kilometres an hour), collisions were common, injuries a part of the job.
“You get a lot of elbows in the ribs,” she told the Vancouver Sun in 1959. “Pinching is the best trick but you have to watch that the referees don’t see you.”
In the unsubtle marketing of the era, Ms. Porter’s Mohawk-Oneida ancestry was promoted in programs. She was photographed wearing a feather in a headband. Newspaper accounts typically described accounts of her races with such words as “warpath,” “war whoops” and other racist tropes owing more to Hollywood fiction than her own proud heritage.
Jean Helen Porter was born on the Six Nations reserve in Ontario at Ohsweken, a village near Brantford, on Jan. 31, 1930, to the former Marjorie John and MacDonald (Mack) Porter. She was raised in Buffalo, N.Y., where her father was a mechanic and automobile spray painter while her mother was a homemaker and a sewer with Broadway Knitting Mills.
The infant girl spent her first few summers on the rodeo circuit, as her parents joined a country-and-western band led by her maternal grandfather, Thomas John, a sapper with the Canadian Expeditionary Force who was shot and wounded on the Western Front in the First World War. (The family later changed the spelling of their name to Johns.)
In 1946, the self-described tomboy, whose brothers played baseball and lacrosse, became enamoured with roller derby after her family watched a match in Buffalo. She had a successful tryout and was invited to join the circuit for training in Chattanooga, Tenn. Her mother, who at first disapproved of her daughter’s wishes but later became a convert, accompanied her, soon after leaving her in the care of a house mother who cooked and chaperoned underaged skaters.
After a few weeks of training, Ms. Porter took part in her first match at the North Side Coliseum in Fort Worth, Tex.
She learned to skate with her left arm behind her back, which helped her take deep breaths to ease the symptoms of asthma and allergies. She chewed gum to keep her mouth moist as the track’s green slate paint was churned into dust by skaters’ wheels. More importantly, in terms of self-preservation, she learned a valuable and venerable lesson, as she recounted in a memoir on a website run by the former skater Loretta (Little Iodine) Behrens. Said Ms. Porter: “‘Do unto others’ became a motto.”
Roller derby originated as a gruelling endurance event created by Leo Seltzer during the Depression. The writer Damon Runyon helped transform the exhibition into a sport by composing rules in which contact was allowed and points scored for passing other skaters. After a wartime lull, the fast-paced, thrill-a-minute showbiz sport with mixed co-ed teams became a phenomenon driven by exposure on the new medium of television. The razzle-dazzle of the spectacle lured to trackside such movie and television stars as Jimmy Durante, Eleanor Powell, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Milton Berle.
The legal mayhem was occasionally interrupted by a resort to fisticuffs, as happened in a 1951 match in Boston when hometown favourite Ms. Porter, said to have an “atomic temper,” battled rival Annis (Big Red) Jensen. “While coasting round a corner in the sixth (period), Miss Jensen gave Miss Porter an elbow,” the Boston Globe reported. “Miss Porter retaliated with an elbow and a knee. Then fur began to fly. Some solid blows were landed before the referees pulled them apart. Both were fined $10.”
In a 1960 contest at the Mutual Street Arena in Toronto, Ms. Porter and Judy McGuire engaged in a “fist-swinging, hair-pulling duel,” according to a report in The Globe and Mail.
At five-foot-three, 114-pounds (or four-foot-eleven½ and 103 pounds if you believe some of the ballyhoo), Ms. Porter relied on speed and guile to avoid the brutal ferocity employed by such rivals as Annabelle (Slugger) Kealey, Midge (Toughie) Brasuhn, and Ann Calvello, the Queen of Mean.
Concussions were common, as were cuts and bruises, not to mention broken bones, including legs, arms, fingers and even vertebrae. Sometimes, skaters were poleaxed into the guardrails surrounding the track. The unlucky caught a wheel in the treacherous gap separating the track from the out-of-bounds infield.
In a 17-year career, mostly spent as a jammer, a skater who attempts to lap the other team, Ms. Porter skated for such teams as the Jersey Jolters and Los Angeles Thunderbirds. She also wore the uniforms of the Chiefs, Ravens, and Braves.
Ms. Porter’s naturally demure character served her well in a sport where those who defied traditional notions of femininity were more often portrayed as villains.
“Because of my being Indian, you had to be good, and never draw attention to ourselves,” she once said.
Ms. Porter married Jolters teammate Don (Jughead) Lewis in Buffalo in 1949. They had a daughter and later separated. She retained her maiden name as a competitor.
After leaving the circuit, she worked as a stone setter for a Buffalo jeweller for 19 years. She was a long-time volunteer as a bingo runner and served on the board of directors of the Fort Erie (Ont.) Native Friendship Centre, where she was also known for baking scones and fry bread, while her strawberry shortcake was a popular treat at the centre’s annual mid-winter powwow.
Ms. Porter died on Sept. 8 at St. Catharines (Ont.) General Hospital, about three weeks after abdominal surgery. She leaves common-law husband Roger Werner and a sister, Faye. She was predeceased by a daughter, Linda Dale Lewis, who died of a blood disorder as a teenager in 1969. She was also predeceased by a sister, Carol; as well as brothers Raymond, a U.S. Army veteran of the Second World War; Carmen, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War; and Orval, known as Brownie, who was posthumously inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in St. Catharines in 2001.
Ms. Porter, who was a six-time roller derby all-star, was inducted into the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame and Museum, now based in Palm Springs, Calif., in 2007.
Her lone movie role is often incorrectly attributed to a contemporary Hollywood actress of the same name, a reflection perhaps of the ordinary life she lived away from the hullabaloo of the roller derby track.
Milanovich resigns as Edmonton's head coach – CFL.ca
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Football Team is now without a head coach.
Scott Milanovich has resigned to pursue NFL opportunities, the team announced on Monday.
Milanovich was hired as the club’s 22nd head coach on Dec 12, 2019. Prior to his appointment, he was the quarterbacks coach for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars from 2017-2019 with a brief stint as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2018.
“Scott informed me this morning that he was resigning as the head coach of the Edmonton Football Team to accept a position in the NFL,” GM/VP of football operations Brock Sunderland said. “It’s disappointing that he was never able to coach a game for our organization due to the pandemic. We wish Scott and his family all the best in his future endeavors.”
The team also stated in the announcement that the search for the club’s next head coach will begin immediately.
Milanovich began his CFL coaching career in 2003, when he joined the Calgary Stampeders as a QB coach. After spending some time in Europe, he returned to Canada in 2007, this time as a QB coach in Montreal.
He moved quickly up the coaching ranks while with the Alouettes. Ahead of the 2008 campaign, he was promoted to the team’s offensive coordinator on top of fulfilling his other duties. In 2009, he also picked up an assistant head coach title.
He’d stay with the Als until the conclusion of the 2011 season, when he was named the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts. In his first season as a head coach, Milanovich led the Argos to a 9-9 record, finishing second in the East Division. They’d make it to they 100th Grey Cup and beat the Calgary Stampeders to take home the title.
Alongside his first championship in the CFL, Milanovich also earned 2012 Coach of the Year honours.
He’d spend another four seasons at the helm in Toronto. Over that span, the team made the playoffs twice and missed out on another two occasions.
Following the 2016 season, Milanovich would step down as the head coach of the Argos and joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as their QB coach, a position he held until he joined Edmonton in 2019.
Chiefs’ Mahomes overwhelms Bills to set up Super Bowl vs. Brady, Buccaneers – Sportsnet.ca
It’s hard not to get excited about the quarterback matchup waiting for us in Super Bowl LV.
On one side, Tom Brady – the best to ever play the position – will suit up for his first NFL title game without Bill Belichick, and he’ll do it for a Buccaneers team that will become the first team to ever compete for the Lombardi Trophy on home turf.
On the other, Patrick Mahomes – the heir apparent – who after a week of major question marks guided the defending-champion Chiefs to one their most impressive wins of the season and now gets a chance to become the first quarterback to lead his team to back-to-back titles since … Tom Brady.
It’s a matchup we’ll have plenty of time to break down over the next two weeks, so let’s dive into the takeaways from another eventful Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL.
CHIEFS’ DYNAMIC WEAPONS SIMPLY TOO MUCH TO HANDLE
This is far from a new take, but it’s one that’s hard to ignore after an offensive game like the one the Chiefs put together on Sunday in their 38-24 win over the Bills.
How are opponents supposed to stop this Kansas City team? Outside of Jon Gruden’s Raiders in Week 5 of this season, no team has had an answer to that question against these full-strength Chiefs.
That Oct. 11 loss to Vegas is the only one the Chiefs have suffered with Patrick Mahomes starting under centre over the last 14 months.
And on Sunday evening, the reasons why were fully on display.
Kansas City had 94% DVOA for the game tonight. By far their best game of the year. Their best offensive performance and second-best defensive performance behind Week 3 against Baltimore.
— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) January 25, 2021
Not only are the Chiefs coached by one of the greatest offensive minds in league history in Andy Reid, and quarterbacked by the best player in the game in Patrick Mahomes (who put on a show against Buffalo), but the supporting cast is just ridiculous.
Travis Kelce set yet another record with his 13 catches, the most in a conference championship in the Super Bowl era. The All-Pro tight end had 118 yards and two touchdowns to go along with those 13 catches.
Tyreek Hill didn’t find the end zone against the Bills, but Cheetah did rack up 172 receiving yards on nine catches, including a blazing 71-yard run that set up K.C.’s fourth touchdown of the day to make it 31-15.
— NFL (@NFL) January 25, 2021
Throw in some big-time plays from Mecole Hardman, who more than made up for his first-quarter muffed punt with a touchdown and a 21.5-MPH run for 50 yards, plus rushing scores from Darrel Williams and rookie Clyde-Edwards Helaire, and this Chiefs offence somehow feels more menacing than last season’s edition.
It makes for a fascinating matchup in 13 days against a Buccaneers defence that did real damage against Aaron Rodgers in the NFC title game.
Also, shoutout to Steve Spagnuolo and the Chiefs defence, which smothered a Bills offence that, despite its struggles over the last two weeks, was one of the most dangerous in the league this season.
Speaking of the Bills offence …
SETTLING FOR FIELD GOALS JUST WON’T CUT IT
It was a tough night for the Buffalo Bills.
Not only was it nearly impossible to slow down Patrick Mahomes – the Bills defence forced just one punt, and it came on K.C.’s first drive – but Josh Allen and the Buffalo offence just wasn’t good enough.
Allen missed throws, the rhythm of the offence felt off (similar to last week against Baltimore) and, as a result, a unit that shredded opposing defences consistently over the final weeks of the regular season struggled to put any significant drives together when it mattered.
A gifted first-and-goal opportunity from Mecole Hardman gave the Bills an early 9-0 lead, but the score was deceiving of the actual success Buffalo was having offensively: in their first five possessions, the Bills accumulated just 88 yards on 25 plays – 42 of which came on the 10-play opening drive that ended in a field goal, a precursor of what was to come.
The Bills were finally able to manufacture a prolonged drive late in the second quarter, putting together 12 plays for 73 yards to get to the Chiefs’ two-yard line. But, trailing 21-12 with time expiring in the half and K.C. set to start the third quarter with the ball, the Bills choose to kick a field goal on fourth down rather than go for the touchdown.
Then, after holding the Chiefs to just three points on the opening drive of the second half, Buffalo put together another promising drive – 10 plays for 67 yards – which again led the Bills inside K.C.’s 10-yard line. Again down to a fourth-and-short inside the Chiefs’ 10, trailing by 12 with the most potent of offences on the opposite sideline, the Bills decided against going for six and once again settled for a chip-shot Tyler Bass field goal.
On the next drive, the Chiefs drove 75 yards in just over two minutes to stretch their lead to 16. Josh Allen threw an interception on the Bills’ ensuing possession, and the game was essentially in the bag.
Against a team as deadly as the Chiefs, field goals deep in enemy territory won’t cut it – especially when the team settling for those three-point kicks is led by a quarterback in Josh Allen who had been a killer inside the opposing 20 and was facing the league’s worst red-zone defence.
The future is bright in Buffalo because of what the team has built on offence, but on Sunday it was the decision against trusting those players that likely decided the Bills’ fate.
BRADY BAILED OUT BY BUCS DEFENCE AFTER RARE PLAYOFF MISTAKES
The first 37 minutes the NFC title game in Green Bay couldn’t have gone any better for Tom Brady.
By the time the Buccaneers scored their fourth touchdown of the game early in third quarter to extend the lead over the Packers to 28-10, the 43-year-old future Hall of Famer had three touchdown passes – giving him 80 total in his post-season career, 35 more than the next closest QBs – and had cemented himself as the Buccaneers’ leader in playoff touchdown passes in less than three games.
The Buccaneers were rolling and Brady was only further solidifying his legacy as the best playoff performer the sport has ever seen. And then he threw interceptions on three consecutive drives, an incredibly rare string of gaffes for the GOAT.
The mistakes allowed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to claw back into a game they had trailed by 18 at one point — but fortunately for Brady, Tampa Bay’s stout defence stepped up.
Rodgers was able to take advantage of Brady’s first pick, turning it into six and cutting the Bucs’ lead to just five after a failed two-point conversion. But the other two interceptions were followed immediately by Green Bay three-and-outs, two drives in which the Packers recorded a combined minus-five yards.
Todd Bowles’s defence was also stellar inside its own 20 against one of the league’s top red-zone offences, twice holding the Packers to field goals from inside the 10-yard line – including the controversial three-point kick Matt LaFleur opted for late in the fourth quarter (more on that later …).
It’s another incredible performance from a Bucs defence that had done it to the Packers once before in 2020, and were really the only team to cause Rodgers serious problems at all during his MVP-calibre campaign.
Including Sunday, Rodgers threw six interceptions all season – three of them came in two games against the Bucs. Rodgers was sacked 25 times – nine of which came against the Bucs.
By no means should we take away from what Tom Brady has accomplished; 10 career Super Bowl appearances is a mind-blowing accomplishment.
But Brady and the Bucs wouldn’t have got that 31-26 win on Sunday without the play of that defence.
HEAD-SCRATCHING COACHING DECISION COSTS PACKERS
There are a lot of reasons the Packers lost Sunday’s NFC title game at Lambeau – a failure to capitalize on Tampa turnovers, committing their own costly turnovers and a very bad defensive call in a very big situation.
Despite all of that, Green Bay was in the game in the final minutes until an inexcusable call on fourth down deep in Buccaneers territory essentially sealed the Packers’ fate.
After an incomplete third-down pass to Davante Adams in the end zone, on which Aaron Rodgers appeared to pass up a chance to run in for a score, the Packers faced fourth-and-eight with 2:05 left in the game trailing by eight points.
Rather than trust the presumptive league MVP under centre and go for the touchdown in an attempt to tie the game, head coach Matt LaFleur elected to kick a field goal to move within five points and hope the Packers defence would get a stop to provide one last possession.
Given the personnel the Packers boast and the situation the team found itself in, going for the touchdown was a no-brainer: trust Rodgers, Adams and one of the league’s best offensive lines to get the job done. And if they don’t? The Buccaneers take over deep in their own territory and Green Bay’s defence gets its chance to make a stand.
Three points made no difference.
It’s a decision LaFleur expressed some regret for post-game – “Any time it doesn’t work out, you always regret it” – but ultimately one he defended.
But it’s more than just a head-scratching call from LaFleur that robbed his team and its Hall of Fame quarterback a chance at the Super Bowl – it’s one that could define his career as Green Bay’s head coach.
Conor McGregor ‘harassing’ UFC for Dustin Poirier rematch, might ‘drift off into boxing’ instead – MMA Mania
Conor McGregor, much like he did after losing to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, is harassing the promotion for an immediate rematch, hoping to avenge his loss to Dustin Poirier in the UFC 257 main event last weekend on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
After all, the score is tied one apiece.
McGregor stopped Poirier when they first went to war at UFC 178 more than six years back, but “The Diamond” fought a smarter, more technical fight the second time around, leading to a convincing technical knockout finish in the second stanza.
“He’s already harassing everybody to get the rematch,” coach John Kavanagh told ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani (transcribed by TheScore). “We would love the rematch. I don’t think Dustin is against that. If we could get the rematch before the summer, that’d be amazing. If it’s not to be, I guess I don’t really know. Maybe he drifts off into boxing.”
McGregor is 0-1 as a professional boxer, losing to Floyd Mayweather after nearly 10 rounds of action back in summer 2017. There was talk of a Manny Pacquiao showdown at some point later this year; however, the loss to Poirier has likely spoiled those plans.
Poirier is the frontrunner to challenge top contender Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title assuming Khabib Nurmagomedov vacates the 155-pound strap. Michael Chandler is also in the conversation after laying waste to Dan Hooker in the UFC 257 co-main event.
The next few weeks are going to be very, very interesting.
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