- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

For all of you who celebrated the end of the millennium last year, the joke was on you and you got what you deserved a year that few will remember, at least in the wide, wide world of sports.

The year 2000 officially, the final year of the 20th century got off to such a promising start when the Washington Redskins defeated the Detroit Lions 27-13 in an NFC playoff game Jan. 8. Who knew that would be the highlight of the year for the Redskins?

There may be no bigger disappointment in sports than this season’s version of the Redskins, who started off with such high hopes and ended up as the laughingstock of the NFL.

It really never got better for the Redskins or nearly anyone else, for that matter. The Super Bowl victory by the St. Louis Rams, in a game that at least had an exciting finish, was tarnished by the news that followed that Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis was being charged with homicide for his role in a fight at a Super Bowl party in Atlanta.

That started off a recurring theme for the NFL for the entire year. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth is on trial for ordering a hit on his pregnant girlfriend, and Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl after her prom. On Thursday, a judge refused to dismiss the charges.

Now we have Lewis being touted as the league’s Most Valuable Player a perfect symbol for the year 2000. (By the way, one of the most troubling aspects of what has been written about Lewis is the continuing theme that he was found innocent, or not guilty. ESPN’s Dan Patrick is the latest to claim this, in his Web site column. The charges against Lewis were dropped as part of his plea to lesser charges. There was never any decision by a judge or jury on the murder charges. Dan, have another Coors.)

It was that kind of year. John Rocker set off a national furor for his racist comments and criticisms of New York in a Sports Illustrated article that culminated with Rocker’s appearance in New York in June with a police presence the size of a small army. And Marty McSorley brought back the Neanderthal days of the NHL with his brutal slashing of Donald Brashear.

On and on and on. Cowboys star wide receiver Michael Irvin retires, is hired by Fox Sports as an analyst and quickly fired after his arrest on drug charges. Sixteen Los Angeles Dodgers players and three coaches are suspended for fighting in the stands with Cubs fans at Wrigley Field.

Mike Tyson beats up his promoter, declares he wants to eat Lennox Lewis’ children and is nearly banned from boxing in England. After about 300,000 customers paid $49.95 each, Andrew Golota quit after two rounds with 911 Mike, then scoured the countryside until he could find a doctor who claimed Golota was seriously hurt. He still hasn’t been paid his money from Showtime for that fight.

Even the Olympics was consumed by trouble. Marion Jones declares she will win five gold medals and is considered a disappointment after winning three. Her husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, isn’t even on the Olympic team, yet he wound up further tarnishing his wife’s star when the news surfaced that he tested positive for steroid use at several meets during the year (the real reason he wasn’t on the Olympic team).

The 2000 Olympics were all about drugs, money and corruption. There were uplifting moments and performances, but no one was watching them on NBC’s tape-delay programming, because they were history by then.

There were good times. I know there were, and if I think real hard, I’ll come up with some. OK, Rulon Gardner’s upset in Greco-Roman wrestling. Cathy Freeman’s 400-meter victory. The baseball team’s gold medal win over Cuba, although even that was received with cynicism because of manager Tommy Lasorda’s flag-waving, as if that were in bad taste in the Olympics.

Not even the Paralympics could escape controversy, with charges that as many as 15 members of Spain’s team were not disabled.

Now as the year ends, we are wallowing in the continued misery of the Washington Wizards, the disappointing reign of Michael Jordan, and, essentially, the death of the NBA.

There is only truly one thing worth remembering about the year 2000: Thank God for Tiger Woods.

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