- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 2, 2001

The Redskins must have mixed emotions about being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. After all, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch was featured the previous week, and his Heisman Trophy hopes quickly went poof.

Fortunately, none of the Redskins is in the running for the Heisman.

The SI jinx can be traced to the magazine's first issue in 180 A.D., when it made Maximus its cover boy before his gladiatorial grudge match against Commodus.

FYI: The Snydermen aren't the only football team to lose their first five games this season, then turn around and win their next five. North Texas did the same thing and is going to the inaugural New Orleans Bowl as champ of the Sun Belt Conference.

It's eerie how many other connections there are between the Redskins and Mean Green. For instance:
The Redskins allowed 144 points in their first five games (scoring 32). North Texas gave up 145 (scoring 56).
The Redskins are led by Marty Schottenheimer, who used to coach the Kansas City Chiefs. The Mean Green are led by Darrell Dickey, who used to quarterback at Kansas State.
cThe Redskins' David Terrell and Dickey were at UTEP together. Terrell played safety for the Miners, and Dickey was an offensive assistant.
cThe Redskins have a defensive lineman named DeLoach (Jerry). North Texas has a defensive coordinator named DeLoach (Gary).
Both teams have retired No. 33. Sammy Baugh wore it for the Redskins, and Ray Renfro (later a Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns) wore it for the Mean Green. (Note: North Texas has also retired the number 28 made famous by Abner Haynes, one of the early stars of the American Football League. The Redskins may retire the number, too, when Darrell Green hangs 'em up.)
Both teams lost eight times last season and had identical results in their final three games (two losses, then a win).
(I feel like I'm comparing the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations or something. Still, there are an amazing number of similarities, you have to admit.)

Carolina and Jacksonville made the conference title game in their second season. Cleveland is in contention for a playoff berth in its third. The pressure is definitely going to be on Charley Casserly in Houston.

News item: ABC's remake of "Brian's Song" to air at 7 tonight.
Comment: What's next, "Something for Joey II"?

A much better use of your time is NFL Films' "The Game of Their Lives," a documentary on pro football in the '50s that will premiere Tuesday at 10 p.m. on HBO.
And I'm not just saying that because I'm in it.

Seriously, the '50s were a fascinating decade in pro football, maybe the best. Offenses opened up, speed became a bigger part of the game and players were never rougher or tougher. The program looks at the period unblinkingly, splicing together great action footage with comments by Art Donovan, Chuck Bednarik, Sam Huff and even movie star Jane Russell (ex-wife of Hall of Famer Bob Waterfield). Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

ESPN.com polled its readers last week on the best quotes from sports movies. The Top 10 included Tom Hanks' "There's no crying in baseball" scene in "A League of Their Own" and Kevin Costner's "I believe in …" soliloquy in "Bull Durham," both worthy choices. It overlooked my own personal favorite, though, from "Pulp Fiction" (which is sort of a sports movie at least, the Bruce Willis part).
Remember the speech the boxing promoter (Ving Rhames) made to the fighter (Willis) who was being paid to take a dive? It went like this (minus a few unprintables):
"Thing is, Butch, right now you got ability, but painful as it may be, ability don't last and your days are just about over. Now that's a hard fact of life, but that's a fact of life [youre] going to have to get realistic about. See, this business is filled to the brim with unrealistic [people]. [Guys] who thought [they] would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't. Besides, Butch, how many fights you think you got in you, anyway, hmmm? Two? Boxers don't have an old-timer's day. You came close, but you never made it. And if you were going to make it, you would have made it before now …"
(He hands Willis an envelope filled with cash.)
"In the fifth, your ass goes down. Say it."

I'm also kinda partial to another Costner moment the one in "Tin Cup" when his character, driving range pro Roy McAvoy, is talking about qualifying for the U.S. Open.
"[The U.S. Open is] the most democratic golf tournament in the world," he says. "Anybody with a 2-handicap or better has got a shot at it. You've just got to get through a local and a sectional qualifier. And unlike Doral or Colonial or AT&T;, they can't keep you out. They can't ask you if you're a garbage man or a bean picker or a driving range pro whose check's signed by a stripper. You qualify, you're in."

There's also a line in "Necessary Roughness," a college football flick, that's worth mentioning.
"I don't feel so good," one of the players (I forget which) groans during a game. "Think I swallowed a finger."

To put the Pistons' record-low 18 rebounds the other night in perspective, Wilt Chamberlain (22.9 per game) and Bill Russell (22.5) averaged more boards than that for their careers. Also, Nate Thurmond once had 18 rebounds in a quarter.

The real reason Shaquille O'Neal's wants to be a sheriff, I suspect, is so he can call the fouls.

Reminds me of the time Herschel Walker said, "I'm not sure how long I'll play football. I want to be an FBI agent."

Of course, Herschel wanted to be an Olympic bobsledder, too, and we all know how that turned out.

You have to wonder if Grant Hill back on the injury list with bone spurs will ever again be the player he was with Detroit in the '90s. He averaged just 16.8 points in his first 14 games this season for Orlando (vs. 21.8 as a Piston), and he was shooting a mere 42.6 percent (vs. 47.6). Also, his next birthday will be the Big Three-Oh.

Did you see that heavyweight Lance Whitaker one of Rock Newman's clients now goes by the nickname "Goofi"? If I were Rock, I'd match him against Sleepy (Floyd), Happy (Gilmore), Doc (Rivers) and anybody else who sounds like a refugee from Disney World.

And finally, I love all these changes they're making to spice up the Senior PGA Tour, especially the idea of putting microphones on the players.
Or is that just to monitor their breathing?

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