- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 5, 2004

First Jeremiah Trotter returns to the Eagles, then Hugh Douglas. Who’s next, Sonny Jurgensen?

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It’s only the preseason, I know, but Reggie Tongue and the Jets secondary sure put a, uh, licking on Eli Manning.

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You’re nobody in sports these days, it seems, unless you retire for three years — and then make a comeback. Deion Sanders, the Ravens’ new nickelback, is just the latest to break out the Rust-Oleum. Some others who have sat out the better part of a presidential term:

• Mario Lemieux (retired: 1997-2000) — Scored 76 points (35 goals, 41 assists) in just 43 games in his first season back and helped the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference finals.

• Cynthia Cooper (2000-03) — Beset by injuries after returning to the Houston Comets at 40. Played only four more games before calling it quits again earlier this year.

• Bill Parcells (2000-2002) — Took over the woebegone Cowboys last season and coached them to a 10-6 record and their first playoff berth since ‘97.

• Michael Jordan (1998-2001) — Averaged 20-plus points in two years with the Wizards but couldn’t lead them out of the wilderness.

• Jack McKeon (2001-2003) — OK, he wasn’t quite out of the game three years, but who in this group came back with a bigger bang? Assumed control of the going-nowhere Marlins 38 games into last season and managed them to a shocking World Series upset of the Yankees.

• Julie Krone (1999-2002) — The only female jockey to win a leg of the Triple Crown, Krone rode Candy Ride to victory in the 2003 Pacific Classic in her first $1million race after climbing back in the saddle.

• Jimmy Pedro (2000-2003) — A sabbatical of almost three years didn’t keep him from making the 2004 U.S. Olympic team in judo … or from taking the bronze in the 73kg division.

• Celine Dion (1999-2002) — Showed she was still at the top of her game with a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” at the 2003 Super Bowl.

• Martina Navratilova (retired: a lot longer than three years) — Added two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles to her resume last year at 46.

• • •

And a few golden oldies:

• Magic Johnson (1992-95) — Nostalgic 32-game stint with the Lakers in ‘96 produced these averages: 14.6 points, 6.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds.

• Sugar Ray Leonard (1984-87) — Brushed off the cobwebs and, moving up in class, outpointed Marvin Hagler for the WBC middleweight title.

• Jacques Plante (1965-68) — Hall of Fame goaltender made a comeback with the expansion Blues in ‘68 and shared the Vezina Trophy with Glenn Hall. Backstopped St. Louis to two Stanley Cup Finals appearances.

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Also, let’s not forget:

• Deion Sanders (retired from baseball, 1997-2001) — Gave the big leagues another try in ‘01, but hit just .173, 90 points below his career average, in 75 regrettable at-bats.

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An annual game at FedEx Field between Virginia Tech and West Virginia? Hokies AD Jim Weaver says he’s discussed it with Mountaineers counterpart Ed Pastilong.

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On the subject of Tech and FedEx, Randy King of the Roanoke Times reported the following after the BCA Classic:

“There were less than three minutes left in the third quarter, and heavy underdog Virginia Tech was shocking No.1 Southern California 10-7. … When informed of these developments, a security officer stationed on the concourse outside the stadium’s press box muttered a few undetectable words to himself, then laughed.

“‘If the game stays that way, we might not ever get out of this place tonight,’ said the guard, shaking his head. ‘I’m serious. These people won’t ever leave here tonight if Tech wins.’

• • •

In the opinion of one scouting service (Ourlad’s), the best NFL prospect in the area — class of ‘05 only — is Howard cornerback Ronald Bartell. Bartell, said to possess “ideal corner size” at 6-1, 200 pounds, is the fourth-rated DB in the country.

Also ranked in the top 15 at their positions are offensive linemen Elton Brown of Virginia (seventh) and C.J. Brooks of Maryland (14th) and wide receiver Steve Suter of the Terps (15th).

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If Hootie Johnson had any sense of humor, the first ad aired during the Masters next April — after two commercial-free years — would be for Viagra.

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Those Wacky Rules of Golf, Part 92: Dudley Hart found an interesting way to get disqualified from the recent Buick Championship, according to Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe. Early in the second round, Hart pulled out his 3-iron for the first time and discovered “a kink, a dent” high up on the grip. (How did it get there? No one knows.) The club was unusable, so Hart went with a 4-iron instead.

A few holes later, Hart showed the damaged club to a PGA Tour rules official, thinking somebody in the equipment trailer might be able to fix it. At the end of his round, however — he was 3 under at the time — Hart got the surprise of his life: Rules official Jon Brendle told him he was DQ’d for having a “nonconforming club” in his bag.

Had Hart put the dent in the club himself during the round, he would have been OK, apparently. But because the club was dented before the round began, he was in breach of the rules.

The rules official “was trying to help me out,” Hart told McCabe, “giving me every chance to say that something had happened on the course. … I’m not going to make something up. It would be like cheating.”

Call him Dudley Do-Right.

• • •

Kevin Garnett punches a Timberwolves draft pick; Kevin Brown punches a clubhouse wall. Don’t tell Don King, but these might be just the guys to revive the heavyweight division.

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Saw in “Transactions” that the 76ers named Dave Bollwinkel their West Coast advance scout. Just wondering: Will Bollwinkel be handling the Rockies as well?

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Elsewhere in the NBA, the Nets hired Bill Cartwright to a newly created position: future interim coach.

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News item: Cardinals pitcher receives 10-game suspension for doctoring baseballs.

Comment: The Cards, of course, insist that the only foreign substance Julian Tavarez ever put on a ball was Julian Tavarez.

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Four years ago, Ken Griffey Jr. was drawing a bead on Hank Aaron. Now, umpteen trips to the DL later, he’s looking like the next Mickey Mantle.

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My column last week on Ichiro Suzuki chasing George Sisler brought this response from loyal reader Ron Weber: “Sisler’s 257 hits in 1920 are actually the Orioles’ franchise record, because his team, the St. Louis Browns, moved to Baltimore. You won’t find him listed in any O’s publications, though. They disowned all the Browns’ records. When I get rich enough to buy the team from [Peter] Angelos, I’m gonna reinstate ‘em.”

• • •

Sisler, by the way, played ever so briefly for the Washington Senators. They bought him from the Browns in 1928 for $25,000, then turned around and sold him to the Boston Braves 5 months later for $7,500. He hit .245 in 20 games with the Senators, .340 in 118 games with the Braves. (He also hit .326 for Boston the next season.)

Of course, the Nats made deals like that all the time — which is one of the reasons why Washington no longer has a baseball team.

• • •

And finally …

I can’t decide which is more amazing, Curacao winning the Little League World Series or the fact that nobody on the team was named Almonte.

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