- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

MIAMI.

Welcome to Miami Beach, formerly known as the Sun and Fun Capital of the World but now known — at least by me — as the Town That Tips Itself.

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All the restaurants here add a gratuity of 15 percent or more to each check, even for small groups and people eating alone. (They also make a point of not mentioning it, on the chance you might double-tip.)

They’d better not pull that at the Super Bowl with the cotton candy vendors.

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On the plus side, I bought some souvenir T-shirts the other day and didn’t have to pay a 15-percent gratuity. But because I used a credit card, I had to show my driver’s license, birth certificate, college diploma and polio vaccine scar.

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Eureka! I just found a restaurant in South Beach that doesn’t tack on a 15-percent tip: Burger King.

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FYI: It’s not the 15 percent that bothers me, it’s the socialization of waiters and waitresses. Not a good thing from a quality-of-service standpoint.

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Just wondering: Do they call Colts defensive tackle Anthony McFarland “Booger” because he has a nose for the ball?

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To clear up any confusion, Booger is not — repeat, not — related to “Spanky” McFarland of “Little Rascals” fame.

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Too bad. That would have made a heck of a column. (So, Booger, did Spanky ever get it on with Darla? How about Miss Crabtree?)

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Adam Vinatieri is always depicted as the Kicker Who Does No Wrong, especially in big games. But let’s not forget: He was the last guy Desmond Howard blew by on that 99-yard kickoff return that clinched Super Bowl 31 (as I noticed on the NFL Network last week).

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Yup, Vinatieri was personally responsible for Desmond’s MVP Award.

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Two-part trivia question: Ten former pro quarterbacks have been in the TV booth for a Super Bowl. 1. How many can you name? 2. Which of them has done the most games? (Answer below.)

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One of the things I love about the Super Bowl is that it brings all the football “experts” out of the woodwork. The following paragraph actually appeared in a major metropolitan newspaper (which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty):

“In their early years, the Chicago Bears did not need coordinators or electronic communications to draw up a winning play-calling strategy. In the 1930s and ‘40s, when the Bears were establishing themselves, they simply lined up and ran the ball forward, on nearly every play.”

Not to nitpick, but: The Bears’ Sid Luckman threw 28 touchdown passes in 1943. That was the NFL record until 1959, when Johnny Unitas broke it.

Luckman also threw seven TD passes against the Giants that year, which is still the record — and set other marks for passing yards in a game (433) and a season (2,194).

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Here’s hoping Gary Gibbs gets the Cowboys coaching job — just so the division can have a Gibbs North and a Gibbs South.

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New commish Roger Goodell is determined to do something about the rash of arrests around the league, particularly in Cincinnati. In fact, at his annual news conference Friday, he announced the launching of an Adopt A Bengal program.

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That’s right, friends, for a contribution of just $10 a month, you can help a player get proper legal representation. He’ll even write you letters from the halfway house he’s assigned to.

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And for $20 a month, I hear, you can be one of his alibi witnesses.

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In other police news, the Chargers’ Terrence Kiel was charged with public urination in December, the second time he’s been booked this season.

Is this what they mean by de-Terrence?

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So many NFLers are getting hauled before judges these days that Prince should lead off today’s halftime show with “Purple Arraign.”

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Sports Giveaway of the Year: Fans at the recent Liberty-VMI game were promised a free bottle of windshield washer fluid if the teams scored a combined 100 points.

(As it turned out, both teams broke 100 in Liberty’s 122-117 victory.)

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A free bottle of windshield washer fluid if more than 100 points are scored in a game? Aw, come on, we can be more imaginative than that. How about a free bottle of windshield washer fluid if a player “cleans the glass” for 15 or more rebounds?

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On many college campuses, of course, it would be too dangerous to run such a promotion — unless there was a warning on the bottle that said, “Not for human consumption.”

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Answer to trivia question: The 10 former pro quarterbacks who have been in the TV booth for a Super Bowl are, in chronological order: Paul Christman, Jack Kemp, Bart Starr, Don Meredith, John Brodie, Joe Theismann, Bob Griese, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and Troy Aikman. Simms, who’ll team with Jim Nantz on tonight’s CBS telecast, has done the most games, five. Meredith (3) is the only other QB who has broadcast more than one.

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A note from my 16-year-old: “Art Fowler, Billy Martin’s old pitching coach, died this week, but it hardly got any attention because he went on the same day as Barbaro. Nobody was better at teaching his pitchers how to cheat than Fowler. He used to have them put soap in the crotch of their pants — white soap for home games, gray for road games. They’d reach down there, get some of the soap on their fingers and throw some of the craziest looking pitches you’ve ever seen. The umpires, meanwhile, thought the pitchers were just scratching themselves or readjusting their cups.”

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Number of the Week: 736.

(How many households in the New York market tuned in to the Devils-Panthers NHL game last Saturday on MSG, according to the New York Times — a rating of .01. The same night, 10,271 homes watched the National Lacrosse League game on SNY between the New York Titans and the Rochester Knighthawks.)

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Maybe interest would improve if the Devils started giving away bottles of windshield washer fluid.

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And finally …

Ever since I read about Pope John Paul II sneaking past his Swiss Guards to go skiing, I’ve been thinking about Bode Miller. I mean, how do we really know for sure that, as sportswriters are always saying, “He’s no altar boy”?

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