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Game runs gamut from fear to fun

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

William "Bubba" Paris barely said a word to me. Then again, he didn't need to.

For those of you who don't know who Bubba Paris is — and two weeks ago, that group included me — he was an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers from 1982-90. He helped his team win three Super Bowl championships.

Paris and a handful of other former professional players from the 49ers and the Oakland Raiders were in Angels Camp on Saturday afternoon to help raise money for Copperopolis Elementary School.

It was called the Copperopolis Benefit Basketball Game. The football posse took on a squad of cagers from the foothills.

About a month ago I accepted an invite to play on the community team. I figured I'd be playing against some big guys, a foreign concept to me because, at 6-feet-5, few people seem big to me.

But last week, when a teammate told me I'd be guarding Paris, I knew I was in trouble.

First off, there's his nickname: Bubba.

And he weighs somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds and is an inch taller than me. I really started questioning life.

To play or to live?

A guy that big, you can't go around. A guy that tall, you can't go over.

I weigh 195 pounds and can bench press more than 230 pounds, but that still wouldn't be enough to keep Bubba from going to the basket.

On game day, I was as ready as could be after one week of practice.

Our team arrived at the Bret Harte High gym early to warm up. We had a great mix of guys — a few coaches and a former coach from Copperopolis Elementary School, a Columbia College player and recent Bret Harte basketball graduate. We also had a pair of seventh-graders from Mark Twain Elementary School, both with promising basketball careers ahead.

Eventually the football players — including 49ers Eason Ramson and Roger Craig, and Raiders Cliff Branch and Mervyn Fernandez — emerged from the locker room. But without Paris.


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