You might say the New England Patriots are in demand. Charlie Weis got hired away by Notre Dame, Romeo Crennel is the new coach of the Browns, the Pats’ chief operating officer is joining the faculty of Harvard Business School and I’m pretty sure Bill Belichick — he of the rumpled sweatshirt — has been asked to serve on the board of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
The Patriots played their home games at Harvard’s stadium in 1970. Obviously, their contract with the school had some fine print that folks weren’t aware of until now. I mean, paying rent is one thing, but who knew about the “COO to be named later”?
A generation ago, Jim Brown was asked to come up with an all-time composite greatest running back. The Frankenstein monster he created:
Earl Campbell’s power.
Walter Payton’s heart.
O.J. Simpson’s speed.
Gale Sayers’ moves.
(Note he left himself out.)
The retirement of Emmitt Smith makes me wonder if he — and some of his contemporaries — wouldn’t have something to add to Brown’s Perfect Back. Some suggestions:
Barry Sanders’ impossibility.
Marshall Faulk’s hands.
Eric Dickerson’s visor.
Marcus Allen’s looks.
Jerome Bettis’ gut.
And while we’re at it, how about John Riggins’ liver?
In “Coach Carter,” the hit basketball movie based on a true story, the title character (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is introduced as a former player for “George Mason University.” Uh, not exactly. Ron Carter, it turns out, played for George Fox University, a small Christian school in Oregon (after stops at San Francisco State and Contra Costa College). Guess “George Mason University” just sounded better.
The best-known member of Carter’s 1999 Richmond (Calif.) High hoops team is actually a football player. That would be Courtney Anderson, who caught 13 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown last season as a rookie tight end for the Oakland Raiders. (Of course, as we saw with the Redskins, Norv Turner could get 13 catches, 175 yards and a TD out of just about anybody. Even Tydus Winans.)
In the film, Jackson’s character gives a stirring speech to the team about the lack of sportsmanship in basketball — and the perverse mentality that it’s not enough just to beat your opponent these days, you have to “humiliate him.” But does he (Samuel L., that is) really believe that? I seem to remember him on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” last season, defending Terrell Owens’ right to pull a Sharpie out of his sock.
Speaking of Owens, did you know there’s a racehorse named after him? The colt — recently out of action, just like T.O. — is slated to return to the track soon, according to the Los Angeles Times. Terrell, as the thoroughbred is known, was sired by — who else? — Distorted Humor.
For the record: Virginia Commonwealth basketball coach Jeff Capel, who celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday, won 54 games at VCU in his 20s (over just less than three seasons). That’s twice as many as his mentor, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, won in his 20s at Army (27). (But well shy of the 91 victories Bob Knight racked up in his 20s, also at West Point.)
The first volume of Bob Dylan’s autobiography, “Chronicles,” features some interesting riffs on sports figures. (But then, what else would you expect from a guy who wrote a song about Hurricane Carter?) Here, to whet your appetite, is Dylan’s homage to Pete Maravich:
“The radio was playing and the morning news was on. I was startled to hear that Pete Maravich, the basketball player, had collapsed on a basketball court in Pasadena, just fell over and never got up. I’d seen Maravich play in New Orleans once, when the Utah Jazz were the New Orleans Jazz. He was something to see — mop of brown hair, floppy socks — the holy terror of the basketball world — high flyin’ — magician of the court. The night I saw him he dribbled the ball with his head, scored a behind-the-back, no-look basket — dribbled the length of the court, threw the ball up off the glass and caught his own pass. He was fantastic. Scored something like 38 points. He could have played blind.”
He could have played blind. Wish I’d written that. Dylan describes him perfectly, in a mere five words. Pistol Pete always seemed like he had the ball on a string, knew where everybody was on the floor. (And, of course, he always knew where the basket was and was never shy about heaving the ball in that direction.)
I always thought Roger Maris hailed from Fargo, N.D. (and his family did move there when he was 10), but Rog actually was born in Hibbing, Minn. — the same place Dylan grew up (as Bob duly notes on page 292).
Another famous athlete from Hibbing — who Dylan, for some reason, neglects to mention — is Kevin McHale.
Imagine: A mining town of 18,000 in northeast Minnesota gives us a world famous singer-songwriter, a man who hit 61 homers and a basketball Hall of Famer (but surprisingly, given Hibbing’s location, no hockey player of any great consequence).
Also Hibbing-born: Vincent Bugliosi, the Los Angeles prosecutor who got Charles Manson convicted.
Granted, Bugliosi has nothing to do with sports, but he did compare the Supreme Court’s settling of the 2000 presidential election to “the Los Angeles Lakers … leading the Boston Celtics by two points in the last game of the NBA playoffs with one minute to go, and suddenly the referee stops the game and hands the title to the Lakers” (as quoted by the Nation).
Bugliosi’s analogy seems like a stretch until you realize that Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Dick Bavetta both wear stripes.
Disturbing story out of Houston. A mosque founded by Hakeem Olajuwon gave more than $80,000 to terrorist fronts that supported Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. But, hey, it’s not like the mosque gave money to everybody. It did, I’m told, refuse to fund another group with questionable ties — Nukes R Us.
How cool would this be? The 2007 ACC baseball tournament at … Fenway Park.
The Boston Globe floated that trial balloon last week, now that Boston College is poised to join the conference. Fenway officials haven’t discussed the matter formally with the ACC, but BC athletic director Gene De Filippo thinks it would be “a great thrill for college players to play in Fenway Park, and it’d be a great thrill for college coaches to be able to manage in Fenway Park.”
The ACC is locked into Jacksonville, Fla., this year and next, but after that — who knows?
On the subject of baseball, Curt Schilling has donated the bloody sock he wore during Game 2 of the World Series to the Hall of Fame. Schilling would have sent it along sooner, but he had to pry it out of the hands of Doug Mientkiewicz.
The Hall plans to display Schilling’s red sock next to Nomar Garciaparra’s pink slip.
More from the Hub: FleetCenter is auctioning off its naming rights on a day-to-day basis until a permanent sponsor is found. Let’s hope Bill Laurie, the deep-pocketed Missouri booster, doesn’t find out about this. The last thing the sports world needs is another (temporary) Paige Arena.
“I, Max,” the show no one watches on Fox Sports Net, concludes its nine-month “run” this week. Suggested headlines:
1. Bye, Max.
2. Cry, Max.
3. Nice Try, Max.
Louis Sutter, father of six sons who played in the NHL — Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich and Ron — died Thursday at 73. Which raises the question: In this era of cryogenics and Ted Williams, what do you suppose that guy’s DNA is worth?
And finally …
News item: Transsexuals allowed to play in women’s British Open.
Comment: I can hardly wait to see them in the Solheim Cup. They’ll be great in the alternate-shot competition.