- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

Be with you in a sec. I just need to snort some ammonia to get myself going.

• • •

Did you hear about the story in the Florida Times-Union last week? It seems the stimulant du jour in the NFL these days is ammonia. “Neither illegal nor against the rules,” Mike Freeman reported, “an increasing number of professional and college players are using ammonia sniffing as a way to pep themselves up for the rigors and violence of the sport.”

• • •

If the stuff is really that effective, it probably won’t be long before some team offers Mr. Clean a contract.

• • •

First Sudafed, now ammonia. What’s next, freebasing espresso?

• • •

I’m not sure what this means, but: Ammonia rhymes with Lyvonia, which happens to be “Stump” Mitchell’s first name.

• • •

Dog Bites Man Story of the Week (also from the Times-Union):

The “oldest profession” is expected to be invading the city and courting trade throughout the week.

• • •

Hookers at the Super Bowl? Never heard of that before.

• • •

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Patriots 30, Eagles 17.

• • •

The Pats and Eagles were my Super Bowl picks back in August, I’ll just remind you.

Yup, I went waaaaay out on a limb.

• • •

Fearless prediction: Terrell Owens will be at least as effective today as “Jigsaw, the Football-Playing Dog,” who snagged passes on David Letterman’s show last week.

• • •

Freddie Mitchell might not be, though.

• • •

Leave your grenade launchers at home: On the NFL’s list of “Prohibited Items In Alltel Stadium for Super Bowl XXXIX” are “weapons, knives and explosives.”

• • •

No mention, interestingly enough, of ammonia.

• • •

Paul Tagliabue is pleased with Jacksonville as a Super Bowl site, by the way. It’s all about “the NFL’s unique history in small-town America,” he says.

I can hardly wait for Super Bowl LVIII — in Frostburg, Md.

• • •

“It’s funny to watch tapes of Troy Brown playing defensive back,” says Fox’s Cris Collinsworth. “Because he’s a receiver, he knows the routes as well as the guys he’s covering. It’s like watching synchronized swimming.”

• • •

Something I never thought I’d see: A slice of cheese pizza priced at $4 (the going rate at the Sbarro’s near my hotel).

• • •

Now you know where the “Jack” in Jacksonville comes from. They’re jacking everybody’s wallet down here.

• • •

My hotel room, I just realized, is on the 14th floor. That means it’s really on the 13th floor.

• • •

Is that any way to treat a man who has covered 21 Super Bowls?

• • •

At least I have company in my misery. Cardinals coach Denny Green is bunking just down the hall.

• • •

Speaking of the Cards, they’re trying to toughen their image by switching to a fiercer looking Cardinal on their helmets. The Vatican, I’m told, has asked that it not be a “recognizable prelate.”

• • •

Congratulations to colleague David Elfin, who was elected president of the Pro Football Writers Association the other day.

God help the National Football League.

• • •

Burt Reynolds — in town to, among other things, promote his remake of “The Longest Yard” — took part in the ceremony, handing off a football to Dave (who managed not to fumble, even though he wasn’t wearing gloves). It was a nice touch, arranged by outgoing president John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. McClain is one of the sportswriters who has a cameo in the movie.

• • •

This week’s sports stumper: According to Entertainment Weekly, five sports films since 1980 have been nominated for the Academy Award for best picture. How many can you name? (Answer below.)

• • •

I can’t believe Emmitt Smith retired when he was just 59 rushing yards shy of 20,000. Yes, Emmitt’s regular-season total was “only” 18,355 (a record), but if you add his postseason yardage of 1,586 (another mark), you get 19,941.

• • •

For the record, Steve Van Buren was the first back to rush for 5,000 yards, Jim Brown the first to reach 10,000 and Walter Payton the first to make it to 15,000. The 20,000 barrier is still out there for somebody — perhaps Curtis Martin, the way he’s going.

• • •

Maryland faces Virginia Tech for the first time in ACC play this week at Comcast Center. But my friend Robert, the Hokies booster, says it’s the rematch in Blacksburg next month that Tech fans are really looking forward to.

Seems Gary Williams hurt some feelings down there when he said last year, “We’re a good basketball team right now. We’re playing in the best conference in the country. We’re not playing Virginia Tech and people like that. … This isn’t ACC football, this is ACC basketball, where we play top teams every week.”

The Hokies, of course, are a half-game ahead of the Terps in conference standings.

• • •

Robert also points out that Tech guard Deron Washington drew six offensive fouls the other day against Miami. Six!

“That has to be a record,” he says. “They needed to scrape him off the floor with a spatula.”

• • •

Speaking of Va. Tech, Frank Beamer was none too pleased when South Carolina — coached by a fellow named Steve Spurrier — swooped in and signed tight end Jonathan Hannah after he had verbally committed last week to the Hokies. Hannah is one of the top prospects in the country at any position.

Groused Beamer: “For people to verbally commit and then other schools to keep on recruiting them harder then ever — and bashing the school they committed to — I think it’s wrong. Some people — not we — try to keep recruiting a kid, and all you’re doing is trying to get that kid to break his word. In other words, his word doesn’t mean anything. And that’s the wrong message, as far as I’m concerned, from us as coaches.”

• • •

What’s really stunning is that Spurrier recruited a blue-chip tight end. He never placed much importance on the position when he was with the Redskins.

• • •

Yankees great Yogi Berra is suing Turner Broadcasting for $10million for running an ad for “Sex in the City” that asks, “What is a yogasm?”

The ad, which appeared in magazines and on the side of buses and subways, offered three answers:

A. A type of yo-yo trick.

B. Sex with Yogi Berra.

C. What Samantha (Kim Cattrall’s character) has with a guy from yoga class.

The correct answer is C, but my guess would have been:

D. What Adrian had whenever Rocky said, “Yo.”

• • •

Ten million dollars in damages — yow! (Or is it “Yao”?)

• • •

I was just beginning to recover from the thought of Mickey Rooney’s bare backside, and now I have to contemplate sex with Yogi Berra.

• • •

Just wondering: Has any athlete — in any sport — ever retired at 25 to go into broadcasting, as the Mystics’ Stacey Dales-Schuman has?

• • •

It’s much more fun when an athlete leaves broadcasting at 37 and returns to the playing field (e.g. Deion Sanders).

• • •

Heck, George Evans didn’t even start playing basketball for George Mason until he was 27.

• • •

So I’m reading about this game-fixing scandal in German soccer that — so far — involves four referees, and I’m thinking: How can you fix a scoreless-0 game?

• • •

I mean, seriously, what was the tipoff? Did the refs give one team too many corner kicks or something?

• • •

Auf Wiedersehen, Max Schmeling. You might have lasted only 124 seconds against Joe Louis, but you lasted 99 years in life.

• • •

Answer to sports stumper: The five sports films nominated for Best Picture since 1980 are “Raging Bull” (1980), “Chariots of Fire” (1981), “Field of Dreams” (1989), “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and “Seabiscuit” (2003). Only “Chariots” took home the Oscar. “Raging Bull” lost out to “Ordinary People,” “Field of Dreams” to “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Jerry Maguire” to “The English Patient” and “Seabiscuit” to “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

• • •

And finally …

News item: Richard Hamilton adopts hairstyle matching the tread pattern of Goodyear’s Assurance TripleTred Tire.

Comment: Hope, for Rip’s sake, the Pistons don’t have too many blowouts.


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