- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

Did you read about that group from Boston that offered to take the NHL off the owners’ hands for $3.5billion?

Unfortunately, owners don’t think the league can come up with that kind of money.

• • •

Idle thought: Jose Canseco probably will never get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but depending on how many players he rats out to Congress, he stands a decent chance of being awarded an honorary Oscar.

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News item: A new study suggests 56 percent of NFL players would be considered obese by some medical standards.

Comment: Another study by the same people determined that 97.4 percent of NBA players are tall.

• • •

Wonder if the NFL’s weight problem has anything to do with Chunky soup.

• • •

Don’t kid yourself, the Redskins will miss Laveranues Coles. The offense will miss him as a receiver, and Sean Taylor will miss him as a defense witness.

• • •

That said, free agent pickup David Patten should help fill some of the void. Patten, late of the Patriots, has unusual versatility for a wideout. In fact, in 2001 against the Colts, he became the first NFL player in 22 years to account for TDs running (29 yards), receiving (91) and passing (60 yards to Troy Brown) in the same game.

(Walter Payton had been the last to accomplish the feat.)

• • •

Patten also will be the only player on the Redskins roster who can match Joe Gibbs Super Bowl ring for Super Bowl ring. (He won three in New England.)

• • •

The Patriots, incidentally, have dreamed up a fascinating way to squeeze a few more bucks out of their fans. They’re letting season-ticket holders bequeath their seats to immediate family members (instead of losing them when, uh, the clock runs out on them). The cost: $2,000 for an upper-level seat, $3,500 for lower level and $5,000 for a lower-level sideline seat.

The Pats have dubbed the program “Pass It On,” but given the reaction of fans to the prices, they should be calling it “Sudden Death.”

• • •

Gibbs says the Redskins had to wave goodbye to Antonio Pierce because “it became a situation where we would have thrown our salary structure out [of whack].”

Salary structure? You mean the one in which the backup quarterback has a $3.2 million cap number next season (and a $5.2 million number in ‘06)? That salary structure?

Earth to Coach Joe: It’s already out of whack.

• • •

Funny item on former Redskins coach George Allen last week in Larry Stewart’s Morning Briefing column in the Los Angeles Times. Seems energetic George ran in the L.A. Marathon in 1988 at the age of 70. It was his first marathon.

“He was looking to get some press for an Olympic training center in San Diego and was planning to drop out after three or four miles,” L.A. Marathon president Bill Burke told Stewart. “But he was feeling pretty good and decided to try and make it to the 12-mile mark so he could get his picture taken.

“Then he was about to quit at the 20-mile mark when he ran by [ex-Redskin] Duane Thomas’ house. Thomas joined him in his street shoes and ran the final six miles with George, who called me the next day and said, ‘Bill, all my toenails have fallen off.’ ”

• • •

If you buy no other book this spring, pick up a copy of the Sporting News’ “Complete Pro Football Draft Encyclopedia.” It’s absolutely fantastic. Not only does it have team-by-team picks for every draft (beginning with the first in 1936), it also has two other helpful sections — a list of all the draftees arranged by school and an alphabetical list of every player ever selected.

All it takes is a couple of seconds to ascertain that while NFL teams have drafted guys named Amos Fowler (Lions, fifth round, 1978), Aubrey Fowler (Eagles, 18th round, 1948), Charles Fowler (Browns, 12th round, 1967), Dan Fowler (Giants, 10th round, 1979), Delbert Fowler (Oilers, fifth round, 1981), Gary Fowler (Cardinals, 16th round, 1970), Melvin Fowler (Browns, third round, 2002), Wayne Fowler (Bills, seventh round, 1970) and Willmer Fowler (Eagles, eighth round, 1959), they have never drafted anybody named Reggie Fowler.

So the would-be Vikings owner had better watch himself.

• • •

You can have so much fun with this book. (And trust me, I plan to.) You forget, for instance, how many terrific players Maryland-Eastern Shore (formerly Maryland State) turned out Way Back When — Sherman Plunkett (who gave “Broadway” Joe Namath his nickname), Johnny Sample, Roger Brown (one of the first 300-pounders), Emerson Boozer, Hall of Famer Art Shell, Billy Thompson (the return man for the Broncos when the Jets’ Steve O’Neal got off his record 98-yard punt in 1969), Gerald Irons (father of NFLer Grant Irons), Art Laster, Carl Hairston.

Alas, UMES dropped football in 1980.

• • •

One minor correction: Under the list of draftees from Howard, the book includes one George Dougherty, a back taken in the 12th round by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1940. But as any student of NFL history knows, the league wasn’t drafting African-American players in those days (and wouldn’t until the Bears tapped Indiana back George Taliaferro in the 13th round in ‘49). Dougherty undoubtedly was a product of Howard College in Birmingham, Ala. — now known as Samford University.

• • •

Speaking of the draft, scouts are saying Auburn might have two running backs taken in the first round, Ronnie Brown and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams. Trivia question: When was the last time two runners from the same school went in Round 1? (Answer below.)

• • •

Steve Spurrier’s footballers are running into all kinds of legal problems at South Carolina. Since Steve took such great pleasure in referring to FSU as “Free Shoes University,” it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody renames USC “the University of Stolen Computers.”

• • •

Number of the Week: 4.28. (How many seconds it took Marcus Vick, Michael’s kid brother, to run the 40 this winter for Virginia Tech coaches, fastest time on the team.)

• • •

Now this is a little disturbing. The men’s hoops team at Fresno State achieved a score of 611 (out of a possible 1,000) in a rating of academic performance done by the NCAA.

What this means, in laymen’s terms, is that most of the Fresno players couldn’t pass Jim Harrick Jr.’s course in “Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball.”

• • •

The men’s indoor track team at Seton Hall received a score, if you can believe this, of zero.

What this means, in laymen’s terms, is that they’re as likely to turn right as left when they get to a curve.

• • •

Answer to trivia question: The last time two running backs from the same school went in the first round of the NFL Draft was 1986, when Florida’s John L. Williams (15th, Seahawks) and Neal Anderson (27th, Bears) were selected.

• • •

Other instances of a college having two first-round running backs in the same year (since 1950):

• Ohio State, 1971 — John Brockington (ninth, Packers) and Leo Hayden (24th, Vikings).

• LSU, 1960 — Billy Cannon (first, Rams) and Johnny Robinson (third, Lions).

• Notre Dame, 1954 — Johnny Lattner (seventh, Steelers) and Neil Worden (ninth, Eagles).

Note: Cannon (Houston) and Robinson (Dallas) both signed with the American Football League. (And while Robinson is remembered as a fine free safety, he spent his first two years in the pros lugging the pigskin.)

• • •

And finally …

First the Celtics reacquire Antoine Walker, then Gary Payton comes back. What’s next, bringing in Bob Cousy for a tryout?


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