- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

This is turning out to be one of those “Night of the Living Dead” weeks, complete with the hair-raising coiffure of Don King and the bulging eyes of Marty Feldman.

There is no Larry Hughes, no Brad and Jennifer, no NHL and Greg Gumbel in so much makeup that he appears to have just stepped out of a coffin.

As the late Sir Laurence Olivier, in command of a pair of dental pliers, asked the marathon man: Is it safe?

I am trying to determine which fate is worse — being down 21-2 in San Antonio or being down with a facsimile of the new Meg Ryan, as revealed on www.awfulplasticsurgery.com?

It is one thing for a team to be paralyzed in the absence of Hughes. It is quite another to show up wearing a black headband in his memory.

Hello, guys. Hughes did not pass away this week. He merely fractured his right thumb and is expected to be on the sidelines four-to-six weeks, which, of course, is almost like dying in the hyperbolic culture of sports.

By the way, because the Wizards are now into wearing black in the spirit of team solidarity, they are obligated to deploy the full bag of mourning tricks in honor of the oft-injured Kwame Brown: black arm band or black patch with his likeness, his name etched on their basketball shoes, his jersey number stenciled on their wrist bands and a large glass jar at courtside seeking donations, under the banner, “Kwame Relief.”

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning pretty much died on the semi-frozen tundra of Foxboro, Mass., looking all of a sudden as if he were a combination of Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell, with a dash of the eternally confused Heath Shuler. Colleague Dan Daly got it right going into the showdown last week, to which I thought at the time: Nope. This time, the jaw-dropping brilliance of Manning will prevail over a truly dominant team.

Fortunately, two stunning developments overtook the erroneous prediction, couched in the unassailable worthiness of 49 touchdown passes in the regular season: the gangster suit of Dan Marino and the pink shirt of Shannon Sharpe. Who dressed those talking heads — a combination of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and Martin Scorsese on LSD or the designer who outfitted Paula Abdul at the Golden Globes?

And another thing with Sharpe: He is being paid a good sum of money to watch football in a warm television studio surrounded by friends. So why is he so angry? Is it the pink shirt or being in proximity of Boomer Esiason’s hot air?

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is expected to die this weekend. He has the same story line as Manning, only his is a different postseason game. McNabb always dies in the NFC Championship game, while Manning restricts his departures to the snow of New England.

There is no question: Snow is Manning’s kryptonite, which means he is no different from the denizens in the Washington region. Following the one-flake blizzard and storm team coverage that blanketed the area Sunday night, the National Guard made door-to-door food drops the next morning.

Terrapins point guard John Gilchrist has been listed as missing in action because of “outside influences,” all of whom apparently suggested he should have raced to the money of the NBA after last season in order to be the 11th player on a team that receives no air time and no ink, except when the coach is fired.

Ken Burns, who has one artistic note, plus the mop top, has raised boxer Jack Johnson from the dead, if only momentarily, with his typical sidestep of the marketplace, which is: Receive funding for a project from a large corporation and then hand it over to PBS in a form that will be politically acceptable to air.

No one died more than Doug Brien, the kicker of the Jets who missed two field goals in the late going against the Steelers before being placed on a suicide watch. You almost felt badly for the fellow until you remembered Bill Cowher’s lower jaw might have turned to stone if he had lost another playoff game at home.

At least ex-Raiders center Barret Robbins, who disappeared on the eve of the Super Bowl two years ago, is not dead after resisting arrest and being shot twice by a Miami Beach police officer.

I still say Manning could have won the Super Bowl this season because it will not be snowing in Jacksonville, Fla.

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