Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist

Gary Shelton

Gary Shelton joined the Tampa Bay Times in 1990 as the National Football League writer and became a sports columnist two years later. He writes a column several times a week, his subjects ranging from the familiar to the forgotten, from the Super Bowl to a vacant lot.

Gary began his journalism career writing about sports in Alabama and Georgia for the Columbus Enquirer in 1978. In 1984, he moved to the Miami Herald, where for six years he covered the Dolphins, the NFL and the University of Florida. His most admired athletes: Arthur Ashe, because of his grace; Michael Jordan, because of his competitiveness; Cal Ripken, because of his work ethic; Steffi Graf, because of her drive. Least admired athletes: the growing list of drug-using, spouse-abusing, money-driven, fan-unfriendly pedestal squatters who think they are on a scholarship from life itself. Some memorable moments as a sports writer: watching Bear Bryant walk off the field after winning a national championship. Watching Don Shula walk off for the last time. Watching the Bucs and the Lightning rise from the ooze to championship seasons. Watching John Cullen look at his daughter on a Father's Day he wondered if cancer would allow him to enjoy. To Shelton, this is sport. Not necessarily the games, but the emotions and memories they build. He would rather share those with readers than the nuances of the infield fly rule.


Twitter: @Gary_Shelton

  1. FSU aims to walk tightrope to another title


    Don't look down.

    Whatever you do, don't slip.

    Talk about FSU being ranked No. 1 all over again. Talk about how shiny last year's trophy is. Talk about how many championships a school might win in a row.

    But don't give a thought to all the things that could go wrong.

    Ah, it is a fine time to be a follower of the FSU Seminoles, the biggest dog in college football's kennel. Why, Jameis Winston might win another Heisman Trophy, just so he can use them as bookends. Why, any day now, Jimbo Fisher might be anointed the new Nick Saban. Why, only six FSU players were projected in the first round of a recent ESPN mock draft for next season, but it's still early enough to get a couple more guys in....

    Will Jameis Winston and the Seminoles be flying high again at the end of the 2014 season? [AP photo]
  2. Tony Stewart faces tough questions after racing death

    Auto racing

    Two men.

    Two drivers.

    Two tales of tears and tragedy.

    This is what you will find at the bottom of the sorrow. You will find sadness. For the kid who died. For the star who is left with the questions about how he contributed to it. For a dark night at the track.

    You cannot get around either half of the story. One life ended. Another was altered. For all of the questions, and for all of the accusations, this much seems inescapable: The rest of it will be argued about for years....

    A small memorial of flowers is seen at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Monday. [AP photo]
  3. Bucs' starting offense sputters in Josh McCown debut



    Just a little would have helped. Just a bit to get him through the first game.



    That's all fans of the Tampa Bay Bucs would have wanted. Just a preview of coming attractions. Just something to rest hope on. Just some reason to believe. That's all his coaches would have asked. That's all his teammates would have expected.

    Just a brief glance....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) misses catching a pass in the second quarter during the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday, August 8, 2014.
  4. Tiger Woods begins fading into the distance


    No one wants to see the book on greatness close. And so you find yourself wanting to believe. You want to believe Tiger Woods will wake up, at 38, and his back will be fine once more. You want to believe his knees will be healed. You want to believe he can regain the same mental edge he once had. You want to believe he can master his driver, not to mention his putter. You want to believe the sheer torque of his swing will not work against his body. You want to believe he can make the rest of the field cower in the background....

    HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 18:  Tiger Woods of the United States on the 14th green during the second round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 18, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
  5. Brooks' words sound golden


    CANTON, Ohio — His is a legacy built largely without words. For most of his days, talking was the least impressive thing Derrick Brooks did.

    He reached immortality quietly, you might say. There were plenty of other Bucs to take care of the talking, other Bucs who controlled the volume. Brooks? For the most part, he remained quiet, humble. Only his accomplishments shouted.

    But on a cool, Canton evening, as he stood behind a lectern with all of professional football looking on, all Brooks had were words. And so a lifetime's worth of them spilled out of him, smooth and strong and unhurried. This was Brooks' moment, the moment his legacy was embraced by everyone who has come into contact with him, and he was determined not to leave anyone out....

    Former Tampa Bay Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks pumps his fist during his Hall of Fame induction speech Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
  6. Derrick Brooks: Great player, great human being


    CANTON, Ohio

    Tonight, he will be recognized as one of the finest football players in the history of the planet. With Derrick Brooks, that is just the start of it.

    He won a Super Bowl. And he changed people's lives.

    He reached 11 Pro Bowls. And he gave hope to children.

    He made, by the Bucs' bookkeeping, 2,198 tackles. And he is just getting started.

    The Pro Football Hall of Fame? How about voting Brooks into life's Hall of Fame?...

    Derrick Brooks gets a Hall of Fame jacket assist from his presenter and son, Decalon, during the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner on the eve of his induction.
  7. On opponents, Derrick Brooks left a mark


    CANTON, Ohio

    He was going to bob. He was going to weave. He was going to add one more chapter to the Greatest Show on Turf.

    Yeah, this was going to be fun. Torry Holt was going to catch a pass, and he was going hit a seam, and he was going to change the scoreboard. By golly, he was going to dance.

    Then trouble happened.

    Then Derrick Brooks happened.

    Suddenly, the whole world blew up. Holt's head flew backward, and there was a loud crack, like a lightning bolt hitting a large tree. Holt rumbled to the turf with his rib cage screaming. The star receiver was in pain....

    A Derrick Brooks hit in the 1999 NFC title game flattened Rams WR Torry Holt, above.
  8. Thanks for the memories, David Price

    The Heater

    Someday, it will just feel like a bad day at the ballpark. Nothing worse than that.

    Someday, when the Rays have witnessed enough greatness to count on it coming again, this will seem like just another visit by reality. Someday, on the other side of Hall of Fame careers and golden moments, this will feel like one more chapter in a glorious book. Someday, when the return has blossomed into other players worth cherishing, this may feel like an investment in a better day....

    David Price is gone, and somehow, it feels as if the heartbeat of a franchise is gone, too, Gary Shelton writes. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  9. Bucs' Gerald McCoy is The Man on defense



    In the middle of the chaos, there is order.

    It is here, in the center of it, that a defense begins to make sense. It is here, surrounded by the violence and the madness and the bodies and the brutality, where the counter-argument of the Bucs begins to take form.

    It starts with one man, with one job. If Gerald McCoy is sturdy enough, the defense around him has a chance to succeed. If he is not, it does not....

    Gerald McCoy (93) stands with his teammates during Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp at One Buc Place in Tampa on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
  10. How many Hall of Famers does a one-title team deserve?


    You imagine running backs diving into the pile and never coming out. You imagine quarterbacks falling to their knees in terror. You imagine wide receivers running deep patterns and never coming back to the huddle.

    Yeah, those guys must have been something to behold. You could locate their victims by the mushroom clouds.

    A Hall of Famer at both defensive tackles. Two more at linebacker. Another at cornerback, and quarterback, and kicker. One at owner. One at coach. In total, that's nine Hall of Famers from the same sideline....

    Len Dawson had an 82.56 passer rating over 19 years, winning three AFL titles and one of KC’s two Super Bowls.
  11. Turnaround NFL team for 2014: Why not Bucs?


    Every year, it's someone.

    Every year, some team matters again. Every year, someone is relevant once more. Every year, things work out somewhere.

    So why not this team?

    And why not this year?

    Go ahead. Laugh if you will. It has been a long time since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mattered. Every year, on the verge of training camp, the Bucs have talked about being good enough for the rest of the league to notice. And in almost every year, disappointment has followed....

    If the Bucs engineer a turnaround this season, new coach Lovie Smith could be a big factor.
  12. Bucs' success depends on Michael Johnson pressuring QBs


    The problem with all these wonderful new toys, of course, is that some assembly is required. In the end, they all have to work.

    The new Mike Evans action figure? It has to function. The old Josh McCown model? It cannot break. The new Anthony Collins plaything? It has to be built to last.

    It is the same with Alterraun Verner, and with Evan Dietrich-Smith, and with Clinton McDonald. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and with Mike Jenkins, and with Brandon Myers. When a team makes so many moves in one offseason, it is hard to expect all of them to work out....

    Michael Johnson, left, participates in OTAs at One Buc Place last month. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  13. Jim Kelly faces his toughest fight against cancer


    With other quarterbacks, you would start off by talking about the way he could throw the ball downfield. You would write poems about that arm.

    Jim Kelly could always sling it. Even in Buffalo, Kelly was always cooler than the temperatures. It didn't matter how hard the wind would swirl, and it didn't matter how bitter the cold might be. He could always burrow a football through the elements and find success in the end zone....

    Jim Kelly, who has lost 51 pounds as he battles cancer, says he’s “not scared to die.”
  14. Time to trade David Price? Rays need Friedman's magic touch

    The Heater

    Andrew Friedman was always the smartest guy in the room. Over the years, that has been no less important to the Rays than, say, third base.

    In the worst of times, Friedman was the equalizer. More than pitching, more than prospects. More than defense, more than managing.

    For years, this has been a franchise that has thought its way out of the muck. It won when the dollars didn't make sense. It won when the economics left it helpless to stop the attrition that all small market teams face. It won at the rich kids' table. ...

    The Rays traded James Shields, and now is the best time to trade David Price, columnist Gary Shelton says.
  15. At 86, Al Williams wants nothing more than to share love of golf


    First, you must know how much he loves the game.

    Only afterward, you will find how important it is for him to help others play it.

    It was early in life when golf claimed the heart of Al Williams. It did not matter how hard it was to play. It did not matter how hard it was to get to play.

    There was something magical about the little ball, the way it skittered across a green. Golf demands a set of skills that he loved from the beginning, and it filled him as no other sport did. To the black kid on the bicycle, there was nothing else quite like it....

    At 86, Al Williams is in charge of a nonprofit he designed and self-financed to help black golfers tee off past their teens.