A couple of timely homecomings I thought I'd make you aware of — that of an athlete and also an actress.
Glenn Parker graduated from Edison High School in the mid-1980s. After playing football for the University of Arizona, he was drafted as a guard in the third round of the 1990 draft by the Buffalo Bills. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL for the Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants. He holds the unique distinction of being one of the only players in NFL history to play in five Super Bowls — and yet he never won a ring.
When UCLA football hosted Arizona last weekend, Parker was in the booth at the Rose Bowl handling analysis for the Pac-12 Networks, where he works as a broadcast analysis (and a very good one at that). He lives in Tucson today, but loves visiting Huntington Beach when he can to surf and visit his mom.
I asked him last week, once he got back from surfing, how today's Huntington Beach compares with the city of his youth. He told me he feels it's changed into "Miami Beach, which has benefits from a business perceptive, but it's not the quaint place I remember." But he still loves it here.
Once in a while he'll stop over at Edison to visit the coaches and some teachers who are still there, but interestingly, he didn't play football in high school.
Why not? Parker told me he felt he wasn't mature enough. "Football players get a bad rap for being sort of stupid," he said. "But the opposite is usually true. Playing football requires lots of discipline, both mental and physical. And tons of hard work. I just was not ready."
But he was ready by college, thanks in part to a flag-football league here in Huntington Beach.
I asked Parker what his favorite career moment was. He said his last years with the Giants, because it was his chance to see the next crop of players come in, the wide-eyed kids that he could help shape.
Finally, I was curious what Parker thought about the recent talk of concussions in the NFL and the damage they may be causing. He had an interesting take: "I think the easiest solution would be to get rid of face masks and then make someone have to remain in contact with someone on the ground for it to be considered a tackle, rugby-style. That would take away these missile-style hits that seem to do most of the damage." Smart guy.
Jill Morrison is also returning to Orange County, for a slightly longer stint, as a cast member of the hit Broadway musical "Memphis," which runs at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts until Nov. 18.
Originally from Mission Viejo, Morrison is part of the Main St. Ensemble in the show, and actually plays several roles. She's also toured in "Happy Days" and starred in "Little Shop of Horrors," "A Chorus Line," "Gypsy" and "Grease," among other musicals, but she told me that "Memphis" has been something truly special for her.
Incredibly, she is the only person in the cast to have done all of the national touring with the show since it hit the road in 2008 — an impressive feat. She's also excited to be playing Segerstrom, where she saw many shows growing up but where she has never performed. And how many friends and family did she have coming on opening night? Eighty!
"I get more excited than nervous whenever I play before my hometown crowd," she told me. "There's something really rewarding about coming back, seeing friends and family, but also being able to show them what you really do and how all those years of singing and dancing paid off."
Morrison also fronts a Linda Ronstadt tribute band, Different Drum, and will be squeezing in some gigs locally while she is here with "Memphis."
Theater fan that I am, I'm always particularly excited when a performer returns home in such a successful production, and so we wish Morrison a terrific run while she is here.
For ticket information, call (714) 556-2787.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County" from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at http://www.facebook.com/hbindependent.