- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 30, 2005

Mark this date on your calendar: Feb.25. That’s when former Redskins malcontent Michael Westbrook fights ex-Giants running back Jarrod Bunch on pay-per-view — no holds barred. Westbrook’s only previous bout, against Stephen Davis in 1997, also was no holds barred; unfortunately, he forgot to inform Davis of this before sucker punching him on the sideline during practice.

• • •

When Westbrook was at Colorado, he beat Bunch’s alma mater, Michigan, on a last-second bomb from Kordell Stewart. So I’ll be disappointed if, during the weigh-in, Jerrod doesn’t say, “Michael is really going to need a few Hail Marys tonight.”

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Westbrook is understandably thrilled about the bout. I mean, the last time he cold-cocked somebody, it cost him $50,000. Now — how great is this? — he’s going to get paid to do it.

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Michael will give away 27 pounds to Bunch, 13 more than he gave away to Davis. And on top of that, his opponent will actually be looking.

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No word yet on whether Bubba Tyer plans to work Westbrook’s corner.

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Hopefully, Michael will keep his headgear on until the fight is over. He wouldn’t want to get socked with a 15-yard penalty — the way he did in that infamous tie game against the Giants in ‘97.

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Also on the card with Westbrook are Mike “Boom Boom” Buchkovich, Charles “Krazyhorse” Bennet, Dan “the Bull” Bobish and “the Irish Tornado,” Jay Ireland — who, if I’m not mistaken, were the Redskins’ front four when the team started 0-7 in ‘98.

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Speaking of the fight game, my favorite exchange in “Million Dollar Baby,” is when Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) asks her trainer (Clint Eastwood), “Did you ever own a dog?” And the trainer replies, “No, the closest I ever came was a middleweight from Barstow [Calif.]”

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That’s the fight I want to see — Michael Westbrook vs. Hilary Swank. A hundred bucks says Swank stops him on cuts inside of five.

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That is, if Clint doesn’t hit him over the head with a stool first.

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I think I’ve figured out why the NFL likes to have two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl instead of one — so players will have a little more time to pull out of the Pro Bowl.

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Do you ever get the feeling that, someday, you might be selected to play in the Pro Bowl as an alternate?

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If the league really wanted to juice up the Pro Bowl, it would give the winner the homefield advantage in the Super Bowl (like baseball does now with the All-Star Game and the World Series). Then you’d see some hittin’, folks.

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick, son of longtime Navy assistant Steve Belichick, used to caddy for Spiro Agnew at the Naval Academy course. The future vice president, then governor of Maryland, “was cheap and a lousy golfer,” Steve told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe. “Bill would come home and tell me about some of the lousy shots he’d hit. He’d say, ‘Dad, you won’t believe what he did today. He hit the ball on No.10 into the water.’ Well, I told him there was no water on 10, but he said, ‘If you stand on the tee and hit the ball 90 degrees from where you want to hit it, there’s water.’”

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Now this is scary: ABC’s first choice to appear in that “Desperate Housewives” lead-in before “Monday Night Football” wasn’t Terrell Owens, it was John Madden.

Madden respectfully declined, and there are a number of theories why. One is that he was afraid if Nicollette Sheridan jumped into his arms, he’d blow his entire truss fund.

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Elsewhere in the NFL, the Jets signed Little John Flowers, a running back from Michigan State, to a future contract. Comments staffer David Elfin of The Washington Times, “Who’s next, Irving Fryar Tuck?”

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A piece by George Diaz in the Orlando Sentinel says former Redskins linebacker Wilber Marshall is “on permanent disability from the NFL” and weighs close to 300 pounds — about 60 more than his playing days.

“He needs knee replacement surgery, maybe twice, because the shelf life of an artificial knee is no more than 15 years,” Diaz writes. “During the procedure, it is likely he will lose two inches off a bone in his thigh and lower leg. Surgeries for two artificial hips and shoulders likely are needed, too.”

Marshall: “If you saw me, you wouldn’t think I was fat. I’m way bigger because I’m not one of those guys who got juiced up [on steroids]. It’s hard when you stop working out and keep the same eating habits.”

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The Sunday Column bids a fond farewell to Johnny Carson — the legendary talk show host, not the Johnny Carson who led the Redskins in receptions from ‘55 to ‘57. Little-known fact: In the late ‘60s, when the NFL was trying to sell “Monday Night Football” to one of the networks, NBC turned it down out of deference to Johnny, who was upset that the game, if it ran longer than three hours, might preempt part of “The Tonight Show.” (That’s how powerful the man was.)

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And frankly, if I had to choose between a Monday night game — most of them, anyway — and a Carson monologue, I’d take the monologue.

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Even littler-known fact: Bob Uecker made 64 appearances on “The Tonight Show” — one for each of his major league hits.

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Something I’d completely forgotten: Joe Namath guest-hosted for Carson a few times when Johnny was off gallivanting.

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Steve Spurrier has gotten off to a rough start at South Carolina. Six of his players have been charged with stealing equipment from their own stadium. On the plus side, writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, “Spurrier’s guys haven’t even played a game yet, and already they lead the Southeastern Conference in takeaways.”

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It was a tough week, too, for the Duke basketball program. Mike Krzyzewski’s crew got upset by Maryland at Cameron, puncturing their perfect record, and a former Blue Devil sold his 1991-92 NCAA championship ring on EBay for $8,000.

Who, you ask, was the seller? Well, the listing tried to disguise his identity, but it’s pretty clear from the information provided that it’s Christian Ast, a German-born forward who was a bit player for the Blue Devils in ‘91 and ‘92.

“The stunning thing,” colleague Rick Snider points out, “is the 16,800 hits [the listing got]. That’s a huge number for EBay.”

Wouldn’t it be funny if the ring was bought by Chris Webber (whose Michigan team lost to Duke in the ‘92 final)?

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If Ast’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he finished his college career at American University, making the all-Colonial Athletic Association team in 1995. After that, he returned to Germany and played for a number of European clubs.

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Are my eyes deceiving me, or is Kammron Taylor, the sophomore guard for Wisconsin, a dead ringer for Chris Rock?

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Taylor has a brother, Kerek, who played basketball at Gardner-Webb; a sister, Krystal, who’s a hoopster at Valparaiso; and two other siblings whose names begin with the letter “K.”

This makes his father, Kenneth, eligible for the 2005 Roger Clemens Award.

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From Kammron’s page on the Badgers’ Web site:

“Most famous person I’ve ever met: K.G. [Kevin Garnett]

“Well-known person that attended my high school: Khalid Al-Amin.”

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I think we can all guess what his favorite breakfast cereal is.

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And finally …

News item: Dick Vitale extends his deal with ESPN and ABC through the 2011-12 college basketball season, when he’ll be 72.

Comment: Here’s hoping he isn’t a Diaper Dandy by then.

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