While waiting for Rob Ninkovich to sack Eli Manning and end the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. …

Ask Raibonne Charles how many autographs he signed during his successful football career playing on the defensive line for the University of Maine. A few dozen or just a few? Charles pauses as the seconds tick away.

His hand never cramped from gripping a Sharpie or a pen.

“I remember a little kid yelling my name at a store once. It’s the little things like that you don’t forget. The satisfaction comes in the work. This game will roust you out if you’re in it for the glory.”

Charles should repeat those lines when he steps to the podium during a brunch Sunday at the Augusta Civic Center. His audience would eat up his words.

Charles will speak at the Gaziano Awards, the annual celebration of those high school players who wear their anonymity with pride others can’t really understand. They are the linemen who toil so teammates can grab the attention. After all the talking is done, one offensive lineman and one defensive lineman will be hailed as the best.

Each will get a $2,500 scholarship and a trophy. The tangible rewards will be appreciated, of course. The recognition will be prized.

“I wish it was around when I played (at Windham High),” said Charles. In his next breath he dismissed what chances he might have had.

Chris LeRoy, a senior at Deering High in 2006, would have been his pick to win.

Charles heard his name often after he made tackles at Windham and at Maine. But unless they recover a fumble, offensive linemen might as well be invisible to the crowd.

A walk-on who played his way up the depth chart, Charles didn’t play offense at Maine. At Windham he was a two-way starter.

“Did (the lack of attention) bother me? Yes and no. You know you’re not going to get the recognition, but playing with the five guys on the (offensive) line, six if you’ve got double tight ends, was special. They were my brothers.”

Not that he didn’t feel the love from quarterbacks Warren Smith and Chris Treister, and running back Pushaun Brown at Maine. “Pushaun was one of my best friends. We were always together.”

Logan Mars (Scarborough) Matthew McLean (Windham), Rudy Pandora (Lewiston) and Nate Porter (Portland) are the finalists for the offensive award. Max Andrews (John Bapst), Matthew Ross (Cape Elizabeth), Christian Deschenes (Cheverus) and Luke Libby (Thornton Academy) are the defensive finalists. …

The indefinite suspensions of UMaine freshmen football players Aamad Bush and Malik Walker for shooting pellet or BB guns — there’s some disagreement over which type — at fellow students in a university dorm is appropriate if you believe it was a one-time, bad judgment situation.

Because they’re black and from New Jersey, don’t assume they’re bad seeds. The screening done by Coach Jack Cosgrove can’t be foolproof but he’s aware of the blowback from incidents like this. If either or both had a history of bad behavior in high school, it’s doubtful Cosgrove would have invited them to the hothouse environment that is Orono.

Look at the suspensions as probation. Not being able to work out with the team or use the football weight room could push them further down the depth chart. To any athlete, that’s punishment. …

Be aware of the bloodlines and networking of Maureen Magarity, the young women’s basketball coach at the University of New Hampshire.

Her father is Dave Magarity, who coached at Marist for many years before joining Maggie Dixon’s staff at West Point. After taking the Army women into the NCAA tournament for the first time, Dixon died about a month later in 2006 from a heart ailment. She was not yet 30.

Magarity joined her father at West Point, was soon named the associate head coach and was recommended to UNH by Jamie Dixon, Maggie’s brother and the head coach at Pitt. Some who pay attention to America East women’s basketball believe UNH will be the next program to join Boston University, Vermont and Hartford as one of the teams to beat. …

Joe Paterno, near the end of his life, took responsibility and expressed remorse for not doing more when he was told of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse of boys.

His heart broken or not by his removal as Penn State’s head football coach, his family says he found his peace with them. I’ll remember him more for what he did rather than for what he didn’t do.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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