- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2006

Did you hear about the Dallas Cowboys assistant who’s suing a McDonald’s for $1.7 million because, he claims, his wife and the family’s au pair found a dead rat in their salad?

Boy, it’s been a tough year for Todd Haley, the ‘Boys passing game coordinator. He’s had to deal with both a dead rat and a live one — Terrell Owens.

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His suit, I’m told, accuses an unnamed kitchen worker of pulling “a Mickey Mouse stunt.”

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The restaurant, located in Southlake, Texas, is also very upset. After all, McDonald’s has gone to great lengths to add low-fat meals to its menu, and rats, as everyone knows, are very high in cholesterol.

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Coming soon to a McDonald’s near you — ratatouille.

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I kid you not: “Ratatouille” is the name of an animated Disney movie that’s coming out next summer.

I guess we can forget about any Happy Meals tie-ins.

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For some strange reason, the film isn’t being directed by Brent Ratner.

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On a related subject, the Phoenix Mercury — Diana Taurasi’s team — will pick first in the WNBA Draft. The Mercury won the lottery despite having a minuscule 2.5 percent chance. Anybody smell a rodent there?

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We’ll know the fix was in if Phoenix selects Patrick Ewing.

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Elsewhere in hoops, Kobe Bryant is listed as “questionable to doubtful” for the Lakers’ season opener against the Suns. Yeah, his knee is questionable, and his shot selection remains doubtful.

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Returning to football, Tiki Barber is smart to think about retiring after this season, while still in his prime. Emmitt (4,409 career carries) Smith might be “Dancing With the Stars” now, but he won’t be in 20 years — unless there’s a wheelchair division.

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The battering NFL backs take nowadays is unbelievable. Consider: The most touches Jim Brown ever had in a season was 353 in 1961 (305 rushes, 46 receptions, 2 kickoff returns). Smith had 439 in his busiest year (‘95), Walter Payton had 426 (‘85) and Barber had 411 (‘05).

• • •

Question posed by the Potomac Almanac to a Montgomery County high schooler:

“If you could be anyone else, who would you be and why?”

Answer: “I would be Daniel Snyder so I could go to Six Flags whenever I wanted [even though I don’t really like roller coasters, it would still be fun] and, of course, because I could live a fantasy in the owner’s box.”

• • •

Yup, that’s our Dan — idol of the masses.

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Reason No. 972 why football is better than baseball: You never have to spend any time Super Bowl week talking about pine tar.

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Tampa Bay Bucs teammates Mike Alstott and Michael Pittman are both vying to become the 10th member of an obscure club: the Legion of Extraordinary Running Backs Who Have Rushed For 5,000 Yards Without Having A 1,000-Yard Season.

Alstott (best year: 949 yards in ‘99) has 4,934 career rushing yards going into today’s game, and Pittman (best year: 926 in ‘04) has 4,830. The group they’re trying to join:

1. Don Perkins

(best: 945 in ‘62)6,217

2. Ken Willard

(967 in ‘68)6,105

3. Bill Brown

(866 in ‘64)5,838

4. Hugh McElhenny

(916 in ‘56)5,281

5. Lenny Moore

(649 in ‘56)5,174

6. Ollie Matson

(924 in ‘56)5,173

7. Emerson Boozer

(831 in ‘73)5,135

8. Dexter Bussey

(924 in ‘78)5,105

9. John L. Williams

(877 in ‘88)5,006

The club has had only one new member in the past 20 years — Williams, who was “inducted” in 1995 (when he went over 5,000 yards in his final season). Will Alstott and/or Pittman be the last — or will the current trend of rotating backs create a few more candidates?

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Now that college football teams play 12 regular-season games, these Thursday night extravaganzas on ESPN seem ridiculous — not to mention abusive. Who wants to see Clemson’s ACC title fate decided by a game played on four days’ rest? I mean, it’s bad enough the pros are beginning to schedule more Thursday games. (But, hey, at least they’re getting paid for them.)

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Perhaps you saw the item about former NFLer Marlin McKeever, who died in California last week at 66. McKeever spent three of his 13 seasons with the Redskins (1968-70), succeeding Sam Huff at middle linebacker. He also had the distinction of being involved in two of the team’s most memorable trades — one really good, the other really bad.

The good trade: When George Allen took over as coach in 1971, he sent McKeever to the Rams — Allen’s previous club (and Marlin’s original NFL team) — in a megadeal involving seven players and eight draft choices. The Redskins came away with, among others, Jack Pardee, Diron Talbert, Maxie Baughan, Myron Pottios and John Wilbur. Two years later, they were in the Super Bowl.

The bad trade: In 1967, the Redskins acquired McKeever and a seventh-round selection (little-used center John Didion) from the Vikings for free safety Paul Krause. Krause intercepted 53 passes for the Vikes (giving him a record-breaking 81), started in four Super Bowls and was elected to the Hall of Fame.

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Allen must not have been too fond of McKeever. He traded him twice — the first time in 1966, when he shipped him from L.A. to Minnesota for running back Tommy Mason. Trivia question: What famous athlete did Mason marry? (Answer below.)

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McKeever had an identical twin, his late brother Mike, who played football with him at USC. They got married on the same day in 1960 in a double ceremony. The year before, a Time magazine piece about them contained this classic paragraph:

“Off the field, they … fret mildly because they cannot find identical twins to date — ‘not even unattractive ones.’ But on the field, they butt heads with unalloyed pleasure. Drawls Stanford coach Jack Curtice: ‘Those boys could go bear hunting with a switch and come back with meat.’ ”

• • •

Loyal reader Phil Hochberg e-mails the following Election Day alert: “If Heath Shuler should beat Charles Taylor in the North Carolina House race, Shuler would be the second Redskin to serve in Congress. The first: Tom Osborne (Redskins, 1960-61).”

• • •

Number of the Week: 26. (Times former Orioles pitcher Sammy Stewart has been arrested since 1989, according to the Boston Globe. He’s currently serving a minimum of six years at the Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury, N.C., for felony drug possession, among other crimes.)

• • •

Stewart, who descended into drug addiction after his playing days, told the Globe he’s writing a book. Proposed title: “Life Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be.”

• • •

Grandson: “This story in the paper says the Wave is 25 years old this month.”

Grandfather: “I knew a WAVE once who was 25 years old …

• • •

Answer to trivia question: U.S. gymnastics star Cathy Rigby. (She also did some acting, her most notable role being the 2000 TV version of “Peter Pan.”)

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We can only hope that when pro golfer Doug Barron stripped to the waist the other day to play a shot out of a water hazard, he was really was trying to keep his shirt dry — and not posing for the PGA Tour’s 2007 calendar.

• • •

And finally …

I’m not saying Barron’s upper body could use some work, but the words “spectator mounds” do come to mind.

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