- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

This week on "The New American Sportsman": Darren Woodson and Brian Dawkins go headhunting in NFL secondaries.

To commemorate the 500th regular-season "Monday Night Football" game tomorrow night, Al Michaels and John Madden will wear the same yellow jackets made famous by the original broadcast crew. Also and this is really touching the cameraman in the booth is going to polish his lens with Howard Cosell's toupee.

Am I the only one who thinks the greatest Monday night game of all time was the Redskins' 48-47 loss at Green Bay in '83? (Answer: Apparently so, since it wasn't even one of the five finalists voted on by the fans.)

Trivia question: Who rotated with "Dandy" Don Meredith on those 1983 "MNF" broadcasts? (Answer later in column.)

Dan Snyder came in for some rough treatment recently from Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune after refusing to grant the columnist an interview. Sullivan's best shots:
"Pity, I had hoped to personally thank the little twerp for firing Marty Schottenheimer. I wanted Danny boy to know just how well the antiquated coach was doing in San Diego, and see if Steve Spurrier might need any Super Bowl tickets.
"I wanted to tell the bumptious boor just how badly he has blown it in sacking Schottenheimer after a single 8-8 season. I wanted Snyder to hear my laughter, feel my contempt and understand the epic error of his ways."
And: "Snyder is wealth without wisdom, power without prudence, a clumsy, callous child in a game meant for grown-ups. He has employed four head coaches in his four-year reign with the Redskins and has created a business model based on petty tyranny, reckless spending and dubious expertise. Snyder is like George Steinbrenner without the championships, like Marge Schott without the subtlety. Compared with Daniel Snyder, the irascible Alex Spanos comes off like Cary Grant."

On the legal front, agent Leigh Steinberg on whom the film "Jerry Maguire" is loosely based is suing his former partner in L.A. federal court, claiming he stole a bunch of his clients. It hasn't been pretty. One witness testified that Steinberg once fell down drunk and told a male employee: "I want to eat your leg."
As I read that last detail, I thought: There's no way Tom Cruise is going to sign on for a "Maguire" sequel now. I mean, why would he? He's already done "Interview with the Vampire."

Answer to trivia question: Orenthal James Simpson, better known as O.J., rotated with Don Meredith on the 1983 "Monday Night Football" broadcasts. The next year Simpson replaced Cosell in the booth, and in '85 he teamed with Frank Gifford and Joe Namath.

Sometimes a bad idea is just a bad idea. Consider:
July 1992 Miami Dolphins nose tackle Alfred Oglesby tells the team he missed practice because he was kidnapped by two armed men who stole his car and left him in the Everglades. Oglesby later recants, admitting he had overslept and was afraid coach Don Shula would cut him. Result: Shula does wind up cutting him six weeks into the regular season.
October 2002 Dayton University basketball player Sammy Smith tells the team he missed practice because he was kidnapped outside his apartment and forced at gunpoint to drive to Texas, where he escaped. Result: After a less than satisfactory polygraph test, Smith confesses he fabricated the story and leaves the school.
Which doesn't mean that, another decade from now, some knucklehead athlete won't try the same thing.

News item: Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui nicknamed "Godzilla" is being pursued by major-league teams.
Comment:
Coming soon to a theater near you: "Godzilla vs. the Rally Monkey."

Too bad Rick Rodan I mean Rhoden isn't still pitching in the bigs.

In the latest edition of his "Historical Baseball Abstract," Bill James writes: "Seven factorial that is, seven times six times five, etc. is 5,040. Ten is not much larger than seven, but 10 factorial is 3.6 million 700 times larger. Stephen Jay Gould once expressed the thought that, when the time comes that we finally understand the difference between the mind of a man and the mind of a monkey, it will turn out to be something simple like this that a man's mind is not vastly different from a monkey's mind, but rather, the human is capable of vastly more because some small advantages for the human create enormous differences by making combinations with one another, and with other parts of the mind.
"I think of that in connection with Pedro [Martinez]."
Forgive me, but I can hardly wait for the day the Red Sox ask James their newly hired consultant his opinion of a player, and he gives them an answer like that.

Number of the Week: 511,445.
That's how many dollars Jay Williamson, 125th on the PGA Tour money list, made this year. Yup, the player who got the last exemption for 2003 raked in more than half a mil.
Just to show you how times have changed, $511,445 would have been good enough to lead the Tour as recently as '84 (when Tom Watson finished No.1 with $476,260) and would have grabbed the silver medal in '85 (behind Curtis Strange's $542,321).

Ever wonder what it takes to be an exempt player in professional golf the bare minimum? Well, here are Williamson's stats for 2002:
Events played: 30.
Cuts made: 13.
Best finish: A tie for fifth in the rain-shortened Southern Farm Bureau Classic, the very last tournament he entered. (The check for $85,150 put him over the top.)
Biggest payday: $93,600 for tying for ninth in the Kemper Open. That's right, folks, if it wasn't for the Tour's Washington stop, Williamson might be playing some Buy.com Tour events next year. (He was a stroke back of the leaders after three rounds at Avenel but managed only a 74 on Sunday.)
Top 25s: 6.
Kinda takes some of the glamour out of it, doesn't it?

Williamson was also in the hunt in another Kemper, you may recall. In '96 he was in front by one with 18 holes to play before completely unraveling and closing with a 79. Steve Stricker walked off with the crystal that year.

Some quotes from Esquire's "What I've Learned" feature that didn't quite make it into my Thursday column:
Richard Petty: "When I first started racing, my father, one of the first things he said [was:] 'Win the race as slow as you can.'"
Conrad Dobler: "Some people get vasectomies. I used to give 'em."
Bobby Bowden: "You got some guys who are mean, some guys who are sweet. The sweeter ones make better offensive linemen."
Evel Knievel: "If a guy hasn't got any gamble in him, he isn't worth a crap."

Chris Webber must be thrilled that Michigan is forfeiting all its victories from the '92-93 hoops season. Now he can tell people: "See, it didn't even matter that I called that illegal timeout at the end of the NCAA title game."

Something just dawned on me: In the Sweet 16 that year, the Fab Five beat how quickly we forget the George Washington Colonials.
Hallelujah! GW has made it to the Elite Eight!

And finally, did you see that the games of high school basketball phenom LeBron James are going to be available on pay-per-view in northeast Ohio? On top of that, ESPN, I hear, is trying to obtain the broadcast rights to his gym classes.

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