- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

Michael Jordan is in, Jeff George is out and for the first time in two weeks, the Washington area has something other than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to talk about.

Sports fans at the ESPN Zone in Northwest said yesterday they welcomed Jordan's comeback with the Washington Wizards but were not surprised that quarterback George got the boot from Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"Jordan's comeback is a big boost for sports in D.C., and I think everyone is excited about that," said David Soden, a network engineer from Woodbridge, Va. "The thing with Jeff George, everyone knew that was coming."

Jim Ehrig, a lawyer from Kensington, agreed.

"I'm glad that Jeff George is gone," he said. "As for Michael Jordan, it's exciting that he's back. But I still think the Wizards will still be bad."

Although many acknowledged that the comings and goings of sports figures don't matter much in the larger scheme of things, they said the news about Jordan and George has provided a much-needed distraction from coverage of the devastation at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"It's good that other things are going on in the world," said Shan Bannerman, a federal government employee from Baltimore. "Enough has been said about the attacks. At this point, life needs to go on."

Jordan made his comeback official Tuesday in a statement, ending months of speculation. Originally, he planned to reveal his intentions at a news conference last week, but he canceled it after the attacks. He said he will donate his salary for the upcoming season $1.3 million to relief efforts for attack victims.

George's release came after two losses, by a combined score of 67-3, in which he completed 23 of 42 passes for 168 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Most fans said they are glad George is gone.

"He needed to get cut," said Nichelle Grant, a federal government employee from Baltimore. "He just wasn't doing well."

But some fans had mixed emotions about Jordan's announcement. Bannerman said she would rather see Jordan continue in his front-office role as the Wizards' president of basketball operations than play because the latter might hurt the development of others.

"By playing, he's not giving the younger players a chance to succeed," she said.

Grant said Jordan shouldn't mess with a legend in this case, his own.

"It's all a publicity stunt, I think," she said. "He retired when he was at the top of his game, and that was a good way to leave. All of us want to see him play again, but unfortunately his time has come and gone."

Dan Boles, from Cincinnati, said Jordan's return definitely will give a boost to the Wizards, a team that has reached the playoffs just once in the past 14 years.

"Michael Jordan is to basketball as Tiger Woods is to golf," Boles said. "His comeback raises everyone's level of interest. I think it's great he's coming back for what could be his farewell tour. Everyone will want to come out and see him."

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