- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

May 1 … the official start of the minicamp-skipping season.

• • •

Did you read about the Packers fan who’s giving up her family’s season tickets this year to avoid a 90-day jail sentence? The four tickets will be turned over to the Make-A-Wish Foundation — unless Mike Tice manages to get his hands on them first.

• • •

Elsewhere in pro football, Doug Flutie is back with the Patriots 15 years after he last took a snap for them. Has any NFL player ever had such a lengthy separation from a team? I mean, in 1989, Flutie’s last season in New England, Raymond Berry was the coach, Hart Lee Dykes was the leading wide receiver, and the club was drawing crowds of 32,234 and 37,940 to Sullivan Stadium.

Fortunately, not everything has changed. Bill Belichick, I hear, is still wearing the same sweatshirt he was in ‘89.

• • •

One other similarity between Then and Now for Flutie: The president of the United States is George Bush.

• • •

Asked about his decision to re-up with his hometown team, the oldest active NFL quarterback said, “I used to play for the Pats? Was that before or after British Columbia?”

• • •

OK, I admit it — I made up that last quote.

• • •

You’ve gotta admire Flutie. Even at his age, going on 43, he’s still setting goals for himself. One thing he’d definitely like to do before he retires, he’s told friends, is become the first QB in a least a quarter-century to complete a game-winning “Hail Mary” under two different popes.

• • •

I still say he’s the best quarterback since Eddie LeBaron on third-and-short.

• • •

Or fourth-and-short. Or anything-and-short.

• • •

Speaking of LeBaron, a longtime member of RFK Stadium’s Hall of Stars, here’s hoping the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission gets around to correcting the spelling of his name. (It now reads “LABARON,” colleague Dick Heller reported in his column yesterday.) They wouldn’t have made that mistake, I’m sure, if they were advertising a Chrysler LeBaron.

• • •

Yeah, I know. Chrysler doesn’t make LeBarons anymore. But you get the point.

• • •

A Seattle Times reader e-mailed this tidbit to columnist Dwight Perry: “Not only did a quarterback go No.1 in the NFL draft for the fifth straight year, but their jersey numbers are also consecutive: No.7 (Michael Vick, 2001), No.8 (David Carr, 2002), No.9 (Carson Palmer, 2003), No.10 (Eli Manning, 2004) and No.11 (Alex Smith, 2005).”

Wow, that is strange. Especially when you consider that if USC’s Matt Leinart had decided to come out, he might have been drafted first. The number he wears: 11.

• • •

It’s going to be tough to keep the streak going next year — unless Florida QB Chris Leak wins the Heisman or something and turns pro early. Leak is the top returning No.12 in college football (and will be coached, as fate would have it, by Smith’s former mentor, Urban Meyer).

• • •

Something I wasn’t able to work into last week’s column on the late Johnny Sample:

You forget how good that Maryland State (now Maryland Eastern Shore) football program was in the ‘60s. As the school’s Web site points out, four former UMES players were in the most famous of all Super Bowls: III. Sample, obviously, was one. How many of the others can you name? (Answer below.)

• • •

Well, it’s official. The NCAA will allow Division I-A football teams to play 12 regular-season games starting in 2006. Heck, at some schools, the players aren’t required to attend that many classes.

• • •

The Clippers’ Bobby Simmons won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award — further proof that he would have made a swell Wizard (that is, if the club had had the good sense to keep him). Abe Pollin’s team, you may recall, used to crank out Most Improved players every other year: Pervis Ellison in ‘92, Don MacLean in ‘94 and Gheorghe Muresan in ‘96.

• • •

What’s truly amazing is how many of the Most Improveds have, at one time or another, worn a Bullets/Wizards uniform — eight of 20, to be exact. Besides the aforementioned four, the list includes Kevin Duckworth (the ‘88 winner), Scott Skiles (‘91), Ike Austin (‘97) and Gilbert Arenas (‘03).

• • •

The A’s fan who was injured last September when the Rangers’ Frank Francisco hurled a chair into the stands has filed a lawsuit against the pitcher. I can already hear Francisco’s defense attorney:

“Your honor, the act was totally out of character for my client. He’s broken plenty of bats in his career, but until the night in question, no noses.”

• • •

Quote of the Week: “I was booted twice in 20 years [with the Padres], and now I’ve been booted twice in 2 years [as a college coach] — once for wearing the wrong jacket and once for talking to the other umpires. You have to be kidding.” — Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn after he was ejected from a San Diego State game this season.

(And this was before Gwynn was hit with a one-game suspension for publicly criticizing the way the Mountain West Conference rescheduled a snowed-out series at Air Force last month.)

• • •

In other baseball news, John Rocker has been experiencing control problems in the minors, walking four batters in the ninth inning the other night to cost his team the game. Or to phrase it a little differently, he’s putting the “Duck!” in the Long Island Ducks.

• • •

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, meanwhile, met with Vancouver star Todd Bertuzzi, who wants the league to lift his suspension for blindsiding and seriously injuring Colorado’s Steve Moore. What’s Bettman supposed to say if he reinstates him, “Todd, you’re free to be locked out”?

• • •

The death of Tunney Hunsaker, a forgettable heavyweight with a 15-15 career record, sure got a lot of play last week. Why? Because he was Muhammad Ali’s first professional opponent (dropping a six-round decision to the “Louisville Lip” in 1960).

Some other first opponents of heavyweight champs:

Joe Frazier — Woody Goss (TKO, first round).

George Foreman — Don Waldhelm (TKO, third).

Larry Holmes — Rodell Dupree (decision, four rounds)

Leon Spinks — Bob Smith (TKO, fifth).

Mike Tyson — Hector Mercedes (TKO, first).

Evander Holyfield — Lionel Byarm (decision, six rounds).

Riddick Bowe — Lionel Butler (TKO, second).

Lennox Lewis — Al Malcolm (TKO, second).

• • •

Are you like me? Are you wondering if Lionel Byarm and Lionel Butler are the really same guy?

• • •

Answer to trivia question: Besides Johnny Sample, the other Maryland State (Maryland Eastern Shore) grads to play in Super Bowl III were running back Emerson Boozer and kick returner Dick Christy of the Jets and cornerback Charlie Stukes of the Colts. Defensive back James Duncan, another UMES alum, also spent the season with Baltimore on the taxi squad. (He played minor league ball in Harrisburg, Pa., to stay sharp and made the active roster the following year.)

• • •

And finally …

News item: Five female field hockey players at Frostburg State have been charged with second-degree assault and hazing after things went too far and one freshman was hospitalized with a blood alcohol level of 0.365.

Comment: And to think the worst thing the Redskins ever did to a rookie up there was tape him to the goal post.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide