Scott Boucher and I were having one
of our typical long-winded telephone chats one night in early April of 2010. He was reminiscing about a charity event (a hamburger-eating
contest) the Gamblers held at Miller’s Café back in 1984, because I had just finished scanning several photos
from the event. By the end of the conversation, the seeds of a possible Gamblers reunion had been planted in our minds. Why
couldn’t a few players and Highrollers get together for lunch and do a bit of catching up? Why not sign a few free autographs
for the fans who came by?
Martin and Todd Fowler were the first players we contacted, and they loved the idea. Highroller Kailani Turner soon followed.
All of us began contacting players, Highrollers and staff members. By the end of April, something had become obvious -- this
was going to be big, because basically everyone we contacted said “yes” to attending the event! Our original plan
of hosting the reunion at Miller’s Café was now out the window, because their facility was simply too small.
Boucher was fortunate to secure the Dave and Buster’s on Richmond Avenue in plenty of time for us to plan the ever-growing
former Gamblers offensive lineman and inspirational speaker, and Anthony Nunez, former police officer and interview journalist,
were now officially in the event-planning business!
The list of attendees grew daily, and several players planned on traveling hundreds of miles to attend.
In the middle of May we learned that Jim Kelly would be attending. THE Jim Kelly? As
I looked at the roster of names who planned on attending, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Jim Kelly,
Jack Pardee, “Mouse” Davis, Ricky Sanders, Todd Fowler, Jerry Argovitz, Richard Johnson and so many others
were to come together, for the first time in 25 years, to breathe life back into a Gamblers franchise that had been dormant
since the last days of the original United States Football League.
Most of us are familiar with the “snowball rolling downhill” analogy (even if it is 90
degrees in the great state of Texas). Well, that’s exactly what began to happen in early April. The little snowball
that involved Scott Boucher, Donny Martin, Todd Fowler and Kailani Turner began rolling faster, than any of us ever expected.
I flew from Medford, Oregon to be there, and hopefully did my part to make the day a memorable one for Gamblers staff members and
fans alike. While much of the day was a private one for the Gamblers staff (there’s lots to talk about after a
25-year vacation), the players and Highrollers signed autographs for fans and their families. The “Hunter’s Hope
Foundation” received support from the funds raised by the autograph session and silent auction.
I can’t speak for Boucher. But as for me,
I don’t think an event-planning career will be in my future. I’ve had the privilege of working with many
great people to help make this a reality (many thanks to SportsRadio 610, Dave and Buster’s, the Houston Police Department,
etc.), and wouldn’t trade a minute of this entire experience. With that being said, however, I’ll let someone
else work out the details of the next Gamblers reunion, scheduled to be held 25 years from now in 2035.