Former USC and NFL star Ronnie Lott takes part in a celebrity flag football… (Andrew H. Walker / Getty…)
Ronnie Lott did his best to stay composed during Monday afternoon's unveiling of the 2012 early watch list for the "Lott IMPACT Trophy."
USC defensive back T.J. McDonald and UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore were among the 42 players selected as candidates for the ninth Lott award, named after the former USC and NFL Hall of Fame defensive back.
Lott was emotional as he offered closing comments in Newport Beach, less than a week after the death of former USC and San Diego Chargers star Junior Seau.
"Junior was a special person," Lott told a gathered crowd that included many of the Southland’s top sports personalities.
Later, Lott said Seau’s death, which has been reported as a suicide, was a "touchy subject." He added that he wished people would quit speculating on Seau’s death until all the facts are known.
The Lott Foundation also honored late Rams center Rich Saul, who served on the Lott IMPACT Foundation’s advisory board.
The luncheon had some lighter moments:
Former USC and UCLA coaches, John Robinson and Terry Donahue, swapped stories about their cross-town rivalry.
Robinson defeated Donahue four straight times before UCLA broke through in 1980. Donahue has maintained that victory saved his job.
Robinson and Donahue ended up with five wins against each other.
“With a win you had about four or five vodkas,” Robinson joked. “With a loss you had about 14.”
Donahue said USC’s recent domination has been bad for the rivalry. USC has won every game in the series since 1998, with the exception of 2006. USC won last year’s game, 50-0.
“It’s unhealthy,” said Donahue, who coached UCLA for 20 years before retiring after the 1995 season. “UCLA has a responsibility to get back and be competitive.”
Top line 1: Former Rams quarterback Jim Everett to Lott: “I think I completed more passes to you than anyone else.”
Top line 2: Longtime NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein, a former Servite High and Notre Dame graduate, doesn’t like Tim Tebow’s chances of becoming a complete quarterback: “He can’t stand in the pocket and make the throws you need to make in the NFL.”
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Ronnie Lott still grappling with Junior Seau's death