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Fred Biletnikoff Hall of Fame Golf Classic brings out former NFL stars

Tournament raises money for Tracey's Place of Hope
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger/The Placer Herald
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Dozens of former NFL players, the majority of them from the Oakland Raiders, were in Lincoln Monday to participate in the fourth annual Fred Biletnikoff Hall of Fame Golf Classic at Catta Verdera Country Club. Former Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff and his wife Angela, Roseville residents, host this event to raise money for Tracey’s Place of Hope. Tracey’s Place of Hope is a residential treatment center in Burlingame for adolescent girls that addresses substance abuse and its secondary effects and provides education for the prevention of domestic violence. It is named after the Biletnikoffs’ daughter Tracey who was murdered by a former boyfriend when she was 19 years old in 1999. Angela said they will open another treatment center in Placer County in the near future but she is not sure where yet. Fred has played in the tournament for the last three years but he was without clubs Monday because of a shoulder injury. Therefore it seemed as though there were about 10 of him, zipping around in his cart and mingling with former teammates, opponents and fans all over the course throughout the day. “It’s a chance to relax a little bit,” said Fred, soon after the tournament got underway and immediately after making a speech to an audience that included members of the Granite Bay football team and Raiders fans. “It’s a lot better (not playing) – I get to meet everybody.” Biletnikoff, the MVP of Super Bowl XI, had 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns and was selected to six pro bowls during his 14 seasons with the Raiders. He also coached receivers for the Raiders for nearly two decades before retiring after the 2005 season. Now he is totally focused on Tracey’s Place of Hope. “It’s so important that we help kids and help them with drugs and alcohol and allow them to be teenagers,” Fred said. “Let the kids know that there is someone out there willing to do something for them.” Among the former NFL players who were at the tournament to help support the cause were Tim Brown, Ted Hendricks, Pete Banaszak, Cliff Branch, Willie Gault, Rod Martin, Steve Wisniewski, Clem Daniels, Chester McGlockton, Daryle Lamonica, Otis Sistrunk, Bobby Bell, Mel Renfro, Paul Warfield, Dave Wilcox, Tom Mack and Gary Plummer. Former boxer Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, a 3-time World Champion, also played in the tournament and spoke to the crowd. “We’ve got some of the older guys again this year,” Fred said. “Two years ago we had such a great response – they are more social with everybody.” Brown, a legitimate candidate for the Hall of Fame when eligible, also spoke to the Granite Bay football players and Raiders fans. Brown has hosted youth from his Tim Brown Touchdown Club during this tournament for the last three years but there was a conflict with the day this year and the club members couldn’t get to the tournament. “Usually when my kids (Touchdown Club members) are here I tell them you can overcome (obstacles) and you can control it,” Brown said. “Raider Nation knows I love them – I just wish I could be up here more and be involved more.” Brown is getting to know the Catta Verdera course pretty well. “It’s a difficult course – never an easy lie,” said Brown, who came within two inches of sinking a hole-in-one on the par-3, fourth hole. New to this year’s event was a Sunday night autograph show in Rocklin at Coaches Restaurant in the Strikes Family Entertainment Center. One of Sunday’s highlights was former San Francisco 49ers tight end Brent Jones buying a Jerry Rice autographed football for $2,000 and then handing it to a volunteer. “We had a good turnout – about 25 guys (former NFL players) showed up and everybody was signing for half an hour,” Fred said. Angela called the autograph show a “huge success.” Also new this year was a gallery section near the ninth green where fans could hang out, mingle with and take photos of all the former players as they came by. Martin, a former Super Bowl MVP with Oakland, excited the gallery of Raiders fans at one point by shouting “Black Hole in the house” a couple times as he rode through in his golf cart. Brown and Gault also entertained the gallery, at one point engaging in a friendly shouting match as Brown prepared to putt on the ninth green and Gault waited to tee off on the following hole. Wells Fargo was the major sponsor and 90 volunteers made sure the tournament ran smooth while Chick-fil-A kept the fans and players fed. This tournament raises about $25,000 per year according to Angela. “There is no other place for us – they do a wonderful job,” said Fred about Catta Verdera. “They have been so good to us here.” This is one of two major events that the Biletnikoff Foundation holds annually. The other is the Biletnikoff Foundation Crab Fest held at the San Ramon Marriott in November. Visit www.biletnikoff.net for more information on the Biletnikoff Foundation.