- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

I stand corrected. Terrell Owens is an “accidental overdose” waiting to happen.

• • •

Owens’ pooh-poohing of suicide suspicions reminds me of a similar episode involving ex-Cowboy Herschel Walker in 1991. Remember? Walker was rushed to the hospital in Irving, Texas, with carbon monoxide poisoning — the result, reportedly, of sitting in his car in a closed garage.

Herschel’s explanation: He had started the ignition and was about to back out when one of his favorite songs began playing on his tape deck. So he stopped to listen and — fatigued by a weekend of travel — fell asleep.

“Suicide?” he said. “It wasn’t anything like that. … It was just a good tape.”

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Maybe T.O. should have tried the “It was just a good tape” defense.

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By the way, if Terrell does play today, I’m told, it will only be when the Cowboys are in an unbalanced line.

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The naming rights to the Arizona Cardinals’ new stadium have been bought by the University of Phoenix, a Web-based degree mill. It’s an unusual move, sure, but one that should help the Cards attract free agents. Now, instead of just throwing money at players, they can offer them a doctorate.

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Why am I so convinced the Cardinals’ next coach will be George O’Leary?

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These new uniforms NFL officials are wearing aren’t just more “stylish,” they’re snugger fitting, too. In fact, after watching Ed “Muscles” Hochuli referee Monday night in New Orleans, I’m beginning to wonder if we shouldn’t be testing zebras for performance-enhancing drugs.

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So I’m reading this headline on ESPN.com — “Michigan district ends season for 0-4 football team” — and I’m thinking: Too bad they can’t do that to the Detroit Lions.

• • •

The team in question, Oscoda Area High School, was so overmatched in those four games — it didn’t score a point — that coach Kyle Tobin was afraid his players might get hurt. “I have 28 years of coaching experience in high school and college,” he said, “and I know the difference between a team playing bad and a team that’s unsafe.”

• • •

Sounds like he might have coached the prison guards against the inmates in “The Longest Yard.”

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Speaking of high school football, did you hear about that coach in Connecticut who was briefly suspended after his team won by more than 50 points — the state-mandated limit for blowouts?

I’ve got a better idea for the, ahem, Nutmeg State. Why not set up a system like baseball’s luxury tax? Whenever a team wins by more than 50, put all the extra points into a big pool for redistribution among the weaker teams.

• • •

That way, instead of Bridgeport Central bludgeoning Bassick 56-0, the final score could be, say, 50-6.

• • •

Elsewhere in sports: A bronze bust of Kansas City Royals great George Brett is missing from the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Police are looking for an adult male with huge gobs of pine tar on his hands.

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It just dawned on me: The Pine Tar Incident — when George went bonkers after the plate umpire disallowed his homer — was the only time I ever saw him lose his head.

Until now.

• • •

News item: The Orioles’ Jay Gibbons hits a foul ball that strikes his wife in the stands.

Comment: Gibbons is darn lucky he wasn’t charged with spousal bat-tery.

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Amazingly, this isn’t the first time a professional baseball player has conked a family member like that. In 1927, Doc Prothro, a third baseman with the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League, sliced a ball into the crowd that caught his 7-year-old son, Tommy, “just below the eye,” Time magazine reported. “Papa Prothro vaulted into the stand, carried his son to the dressing room. Ice applications soothed Tommy. The game went on.”

Yes, that’s the same Doc Prothro who was with the Washington Senators in 1920, ‘23 and ‘24.

And yes, that’s the same Tommy Prothro who coached UCLA to a huge Rose Bowl upset of No. 1 Michigan State in 1966 — and later guided the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers.

“Dad put me in “[Ripley’s] Believe It or Not!” Tommy once recalled. “With 4,000 at the game, [the ball] hit me.”

(For the uninitiated, “Ripley’s” was a hugely popular newspaper feature — cartoon, really — that depicted unusual people/places/things/events.)

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Trivia Question: Prothro coached two Heisman Trophy winners five years apart — at two different schools. Who were they? (Answer below.)

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Just wondering: Was that a mock turtleneck Tony La Russa was wearing last week — as his Cardinals blew most their division lead — or was it a Mauch turtleneck?

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Turning to dumbbells, Iran had to pull out of the World Weightlifting Championships after most of its team tested positive for steroids. The offending lifters, facing two-year suspensions, immediately announced plans to go to spring training with the San Francisco Giants.

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What a photo that would make: One of the Iranians doing the clean-and-jerk in the Giants’ weight room — with Barry Bonds as the jerk.

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Phil Hochberg, P.A. voice of the Second Senators and the Redskins, passes along this tidbit: the 110 RBI by the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman (through Friday) are the most ever by a Washington third baseman. Harmon Killebrew held the previous record of 105 in 1959.

“Moreover,” Phil says, “if Zimmerman and [Alfonso] Soriano each get more than 100 RBI this year, it will be the first time two Washington players have done that it the same season since 1933, when Joe Cronin had 118 and Joe Kuhel had 107.”

Alas, going into last night’s game, Soriano had been stuck on 95 ribbies since Sept. 24.

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Snidest comment of the week comes from my 16-year-old, who says, “I don’t know why everybody is so broken up about Byron Nelson dying. It was because of his tournament that Brett Wetterich made our Ryder Cup team.”

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Answer to trivia question: Prothro coached Terry Baker, the ‘62 Heisman winner from Oregon State, and Gary Beban, the ‘67 winner from UCLA.

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And finally …

Mike Tyson, who is returning to the ring in a series of four-round exhibitions, actually told the Associated Press this recently:

“I truly hate fighting. I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth.”

Well, Mike, it might help if you spit out Evander Holyfield’s ear.

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