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A roll down memory lane: Chargers' Phillips

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, May 6, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Bolt has bowled since he was a kid

    By Tim Sullivan, UNION-TRIBUNE COLUMNIST
    Thursday, May 6, 2010



    POWAY — Shaun Phillips bowls like a linebacker. He is reckless abandon in rented shoes, a guy who grabs the first ball he finds and commences firing without so much as a practice frame.
    The 13-pound “Xtreme Smart Ball” he selects looks like the runner-up in a knife fight. Its color, according to the catalog, is “lemon,” but it has lived the hard life of a house ball, acquiring scuffs and shedding chips in strenuous service to Poway Fun Bowl.
    Phillips figures a house ball trims 40 points from his score, but his own ball was unavailable Wednesday afternoon and his competitive spirit was keen.
    “Keeps the playing field even,” the Chargers’ outside linebacker said. “With this (house ball), I’ll probably bowl 160. With my own ball, 200.”
    Phillips has agreed to demonstrate his kegling prowess to help promote tonight’s bowling benefit at the East Village Tavern and Bowl. The event benefits the After-School All-Stars, a nonprofit program that brings afternoon structure to 15 local elementary and middle schools.
    The cause resonates with Phillips because of his personal experience with the Police Athletic League in Philadelphia. The bowling, he says, “that’s in my genetics.”
    “My grandma bowled a number of 300 games,” he said. “She had a whole room full of trophies. She bowled all over the world. Growing up, we’d bowl on Saturday and go to church on Sunday. That’s what we did.”
    Jacky Phillips has passed away, but her memory lingers in her grandson’s sack celebration and in his recreational life on the lanes. When Shaun Phillips tackles a quarterback, he typically mimics a bowler throwing a strike. When he bowls, this 262-pound football star sacrifices explosive power for style and spin. That was grandma’s game.
    “The slower you roll the ball, the more it spins,” he said. “(But) you really have to adjust. Each frame, you have to adjust your style of bowling. When you spin in the same spot all the time, the oil (lane conditioner) really comes up in that spot. Now, I have to adjust, move over or put more speed or less speed on it.”
    He lines up on the far left of Lane No. 15 with a two-fingered (no-thumb) grip, and when his four-step approach is complete, Phillips rolls a ball that ranges between 13-15 mph and arrives at the pins via a sweeping, gutter-hugging arc.
    A few rolls confirm that Phillips is no novice, but his inconsistency shows that he is out of practice.
    Except for After-School All-Stars administrators Joe Hong and Robert Johnson, Phillips has the lanes to himself. He programs the computerized scorekeeper under the names “U,” “U2” and “Me,” and waits his turn as Hong and Johnson reveal their rust.
    Phillips’ first ball finds the gutter, but he follows that open frame with three straight spares. Then, with a sudden burst of bravado, Phillips guarantees and delivers a strike in the fifth frame.
    Phillips scores another strike in the seventh frame, but fades to a 144 finish. Confronting a single-pin spare in the eighth, Phillips releases the ball and turns his back confidently, only to learn that he has missed.
    “Irresponsible,” he calls it.
    Confronted by an 8-10 split in the eighth, Phillips applies too much spin and misses both pins. Despite his Purdue education, Phillips’ game is more about feel than geometry.
    “I can’t use the (directional lane) arrows,” he admitted. “That wasn’t how I was taught. I was taught, ‘See your target and attack it.’ ”
    That he attacks with a 13-pound ball instead of the macho man’s maximum 16-pounder is about an athlete knowing his body. Football conditioning is about strength, speed and stamina. Bowling, Phillips said, “is all wrist.”
    “It ain’t really like you’re using your whole body,” he said. “If I bowled every day, I think my wrist would be strong enough to handle (16-pound balls), but I don’t like to get fatigued. I like to be able to play three or four games (instead of) one or two.”
    During the Chargers’ season, Phillips will sometimes spend a night off at the Poway lanes, competing with teammates and then adjourning to the adjacent karaoke lounge.
    “The loser pays for all the drinks,” Phillips said, “and then we go in and sing.”
    Garrett Schemensky, working the bowling counter Wednesday afternoon, remembers Phillips competing as a short-notice substitute in the Monday night, “Better Late Than Never League.”
    “It might have been last March,” Schemensky recalled. “They just asked him if he would bowl with them for the night. It was cool. I can’t remember the dude he was bowling with, but it made the dude’s night.”
    If the dude was really lucky, Shaun Phillips might have brought his own ball.
     

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