- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2002

Looks like there’s going to be another used furniture sale at Redskin Park.

What am I bid for this credenza that Marty Schottenheimer used to keep his playbook on?

After much thought, I’ve decided that Elvis Grbac is the new Neil O’Donnell.

Turns out George Seifert was more of a caretaker-coach than the builder type. He couldn’t get anything going in Carolina or at Cornell during his college days but he did just fine taking over Bill Walsh’s juggernaut in San Francisco.
Still, has a coach’s reputation ever taken a bigger hit in just three years’ time? Right now, the man couldn’t get elected to the Sanitation Commission, much less the Hall of Fame. And yet, at the end of his tenure with the 49ers, his winning percentage (.766) was better than Vince Lombardi’s (.728).

Steve Spurrier Tidbit of the Week: When Steve was coaching the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL, one of the team’s minority owners was Burt Reynolds. (In fact, the team got its nickname from Burt’s popular “Smokey and the Bandit” movies.)

The Brett Favre-Michael Strahan conspiracy (to get the Giants defensive end the season record for sacks) is nothing new in the NFL. In 1984, the Bucs let the Jets score a meaningless touchdown late in their last game so James Wilder could have one last shot at the league mark of 2,234 yards rushing and receiving in a season (set by Eric Dickerson the day before). On New York’s final scoring drive, the Tampa Bay defense offered little or no resistance, which made the crowd at the Big Sombrero happy but bothered the heck out of the Jets.
“A total embarrassment to the NFL,” coach Joe Walton said. “It set [the league] back 20 years.”
In retaliation, the Jets tried an onside kick. When that didn’t work, they keyed on Wilder to keep him from breaking the record. Everybody blamed the mess on Bucs coach John McKay, who had announced his retirement and was coaching his last game.
“We tried to make it look inconspicuous,” Tampa Bay linebacker Scot Brantley said of the gift TD, “but I guess we didn’t succeed.”

Great to see E.J. Henderson, Maryland’s take-no-prisoners linebacker, stick around for his last season. Just think: If he can complete work on his master’s degree next year, when he’s a fifth-year senior, he’ll have more formal education than George O’Leary.

General managers who project Henderson as a second-round-or-later pick and apparently there are enough of them to make E.J. stay in College Park are missing the boat, if you ask me. The guy is a tremendous player. But for whatever reason, middle linebackers aren’t highly prized in pro football despite the continuing exploits of Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Zach Thomas (among others).

Recommended viewing: “Monday Night Mayhem,” the TNT movie about the early years of “Monday Night Football” (tomorrow, 9 p.m.). John Turturro does a terrific Howard Cosell imitation capturing Howard’s rhythms if not his adenoidal tone and John Heard is a perfect Roone Arledge. The only thing that seemed a little strange was that Brad Beyer, who plays Dandy Don Meredith, looks a lot like a young Jim Lampley.

I dare you not to be moved by Cosell’s extemporaneous eulogy to John Lennon, who was killed during a “Monday Night” broadcast. Howard delivered the sad news to viewers interrupting Frank Gifford’s play-by-play to do so and it was, well, a classic Cosell moment. Imagine Dennis Miller (or anybody today, for that matter) receiving word of such a tragedy and immediately summoning these words:
“Tonight, on a street outside his apartment in Manhattan, John Lennon, the ex-Beatle, was shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. An unspeakable tragedy. It is not too much to say this was a creative genius for our time. I had occasion to meet John Lennon, first on this very broadcast some years ago. I liked him immensely. What is there to say? Another senseless gun tragedy for our nation to endure. In these circumstances, one wonders how anyone can enjoy a football game. My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains my sense.”
Yes, Howard was a pompous pedant much of the time, but you forgave him for it because, every now and then, he came out with something like that.

Another memorable (and hysterical) scene in the movie: Cosell breaking up a street fight by giving a blow-by-blow account of the action ridiculing the combatants mercilessly until they cease and desist.

Best of luck to Mike Tice as he takes over the listing Vikings from Denny Green. Mike played at Maryland, of course, and even spent a season with the Redskins (1989) during his lengthy NFL career. But he’ll be most fondly remembered in these parts for catching a 34-yard touchdown pass for the Vikes against the Packers in the last game of ‘92. Why? Because it broke open the game, helped knock Green Bay out of the playoffs, and enabled Joe Gibbs’ last Washington team to sneak in.

A Tice TD was a rare event, by the way. He scored just 11 of ‘em in 177 NFL games. Indeed, Tice receptions weren’t all that frequent. He caught only four other balls in ‘92.

News item: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban fined $500,000 for criticizing NBA officials.
Comment: Cuban’s fines for bashing the refs have increased from $5,000 to $15,000 to $25,000 to $250,000 to $500,000. It’s almost like “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” with David Stern as Regis Philbin.

And now Cuban has the Dairy Queen company mad at him because he said the league’s director of officials, Ed Rush, “might have been a great ref, but I wouldn’t hire him to manage a Dairy Queen.”
To smooth things over, Cuban will probably enter into a sponsorship deal with the DQ people. I can see it now: the Dairy Queen Technical Foul of the Game.

A trivia question to chew on: Who holds the NBA career record for highest average of defensive rebounds per game? (Answer below.) Keep in mind that the league didn’t start keeping track of the statistic until the ‘73-‘74 season.

The most amazing thing about Ozzie Smith making it to Cooperstown is that he hit .231 in his first 2,236 major league at-bats. So maybe there’s still hope for Jeff Reboulet.

Did I really say in last week’s column that Mike Weir is “the best left-handed [golfer] since Bob Charles”? Silly me. That’s what happens when Phil Mickelson starts skipping tournaments like the Tour Championship and the Mercedes. You forget about him.

Answer to trivia question: The NBA’s all-time leading defensive rebounder (on a per-game basis) is Dave Cowens, who averaged 9.8 with the Celtics and Bucks in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Next best: Dikembe Mutombo, 8.7. No. 3: Wes Unseld, 8.4.
Moral: White men can jump.

And finally, a friend e-mailed me this banquet joke (which I’ve revised to give it a more local flavor):
Lefty Driesell dies and enters the Pearly Gates. God greets him warmly and takes him on a tour. He shows Lefty a little two-bedroom house with a faded Maryland banner hanging from the front porch.
“This is your house, Coach,” God says. “Most people don’t get their own house up here.”
Lefty looks at the house, then turns around and sees another, much more luxurious one on the top of a hill. It’s a huge mansion with marble columns and vast patios. Brightly colored North Carolina flags line both sides of the driveway leading up to it, and a large UNC banner extends between the marble columns.
“Thanks for the house, God,” he says. “But let me ask you a question. I get this little two-bedroom house with the faded Maryland banner, and Dean Smith gets a mansion with North Carolina flags and banners flying all over the place? What’s the deal?”
God looks at him seriously for moment, then says, “Dean’s not dead, coach. That’s my house.”

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