Brad Rock: Gomes' famous remark will never be forgotten
Eleven years after uttering one of the most famous lines in the 108-year history of Utah vs. BYU, Lenny Gomes, a k a Lenny Gregory, is ready to let it rest. No, he hasn't changed his feelings about the Utes.
But please, would someone else mind taking the flak?
"I was all-conference three years, named the best defensive lineman at BYU," he says. "But what they remember me for, 10 years later, is that comment I made about Utah. If someone would just step up and make a stupid comment this year, then maybe (people) can go ahead and forget about me."
Ah, the Utah-BYU rivalry the gift that keeps on giving.
By the way, does anyone really pump another person's gas these days?
The quote by Gregory who changed his name to that of his biological father during his last year at BYU is one of the most colorful in the rivalry's history. The product of a broken home, he was recruited by then-coach LaVell Edwards. But in honor of the father who raised him, he kept "Gomes" on his uniform.
In 1993 Utah was still a wishful team, laboring in the shadow of its prominent rival to the south. The Utes had lost 13 of the previous 14 games to BYU, including four in a row. But they pulled off the upset on a late-game field goal. Overjoyed players attempted to tear down the goalpost at Cougar Stadium.
Whereupon Lenny G. uttered his famous remark.
"Typical Utah bull (expletive)," said Gregory. "All those (Utes) think that's all there is to life. But when I'm making $50,000-$60,000 a year, they'll be pumping my gas. They're low-class losers."
Turns out that wasn't entirely correct. Gomes/Gregory never did play in the NFL, even for the modest sum he threw out. Though he still pumps his own gas, he did pass the $50,000-$60,000 milestone long ago.
After college he earned a spot on a Canadian Football League team but left when he had doubts the team would survive. He worked in a sawmill in West Virginia and sold hardwood lumber production materials in Tennessee. He relocated to Atlanta and eventually started his own company. Shamrock Forest Products incorporated on Sept. 11, 2001 has 15 employees, a 20,000-square-foot warehouse and does $10 million in business.
Yet to football fans in Utah, he's still Lenny Gomes, and he still hears about his 1993 prediction.
"Most people in Utah don't know my name is Gregory. I didn't start using it until we moved to West Virginia. That way nobody could find me," he laughs. "I don't want those Ute fans to be able to track me down.
"Unfortunately, I do see the quote on the Internet every year when people will talk about it. That was one of the stupidest things I ever said. I regret it. It's just one of those things I don't think the coaches appreciated."
However, it has been a source of delight to Ute fans.
Gregory also coaches the offensive line at a high school in Alphretta, Ga., and about a month ago spoke on the phone with former BYU assistant Norm Chow.
"He told me, 'I just hope your kids are causing you the problems you caused us.' "
None of this, of course, has changed his mind about the rivalry, which continues on Saturday. He doesn't like red, doesn't wear it either. About the only thing he has to do with red is seeing it when the Cougars lose.
"I don't like the color red. I have no red in my wardrobe. I hate red to this day. As good as Utah does and I hope the best for them, because it helps the conference I'd much rather it be BYU that's undefeated."I'd much rather see BYU win than see the conference get the (BCS) money. My father-in-law went to Utah, too, so I have to hear about this every day."
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