- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Can you believe this story about former DeMatha/Detroit Lions quarterback Jeff Komlo - on the lam from drunken-driving charges for nearly four years - showing up dead in a car crash in Greece?

I mean, seriously, how are we going to hunt down Osama bin Laden if we can’t even find Jeff Komlo?


You know, I’m kinda surprised Billy Packer didn’t hire a psychic to try to locate him.


Komlo was quite the story in the NFL in 1979. A rookie ninth-round draft pick out of Delaware, he stumbled into the starting job in Detroit when the Lions’ top two QBs, Gary Danielson and Joe Reed, got hurt. In fact, his first start was in Week 2 against the Redskins, and he was positively heroic. He rallied his team from a 24-3 fourth-quarter deficit, tying the score with 2:13 left on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Scott.

But Mark Moseley spoiled things by booting a 41-yard field goal with eight ticks to go. (Moseley actually got two chances to kick the game-winner. He missed his first attempt from 46, but a too-many-men penalty against Detroit gave him another shot.)


The Lions finished 2-14 that year - which, in light of what happened last season, qualifies as “the good old days.”


It was an interesting Detroit club, to say the least. One of the starting receivers, the aforementioned Scott, graduated from Amherst. Another wideout was Gene Washington, the current NFL bigwig (and White House dinner date of Condi Rice). The middle linebacker was Charlie Weaver (not to be confused with the grandfather figure on the old “Hollywood Squares” shows), and the Pro Bowl defensive end was named Bubba (Baker).


No joke: I saw Komlo make one of his 14 starts in ‘79. I was covering the Patriots for a paper in Massachusetts, and the Lions came into Foxborough in Week 6. Komlo threw eight passes, completed two, got one picked off and was relieved in the second quarter by Scott Hunter. The Pats were nearly as wretched that afternoon but managed to pull out a 24-17 victory.

I had no idea the quarterback I was watching would go on to become the Dr. Richard Kimble of NFL history.


Florida State’s Bobby Bowden is none too happy about the prospect of giving up 14 victories because of an academic-cheating scandal involving some of his footballers.

“It just seems like they’re killing a flea with a hammer,” he says.

To which I reply: Yeah, kinda like FSU 76, Tulsa 14 (1985), or FSU 70, Tulane 7 (1992).


Memo to the seniors on American’s basketball team - Garrison Carr, Derrick Mercer, Brian Gilmore, Jordan Nichols, Frank Borden, Bryce Simon - who took the school on its first two trips to the NCAA tournament:

You’ll be remembered.


That blood-curdling scream you heard Tuesday night was… me after I discovered the play-in game was being announced by Brent Musburger. (Is nothing safe from this man?)


Am I the only one who thinks UCLA coach Ben Howland looks like Walter Kendrick, one of the bad guys on “Damages”?


Imagine a team having wins over a No. 1 seed (on the road), a No. 2 seed, two No. 3 seeds (one of those on the road, too), plus a 27-point victory over another team in the tourney (on a neutral court) and not earning an invite to the Big Dance?

I’m talking, of course, about Georgetown.


Herb Sendek, who has brought the Arizona State program back to life, was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated summa cum laude from Carnegie Mellon with a 3.95 GPA.

In other words, Herb is way past X’s and O’s. With him, it’s more like X cubed and the square root of O.


The Boston Globe on Boston College coach Al Skinner: “At 56, Skinner is a creature of habit. No e-mail. No outgoing texts. He uses his computer to play games. He has a TV the size of a washing machine sitting on a dresser in his office. Everyone who stops by tells him to get a flat screen. ‘Why? There’s nothing wrong with that television,’ he said. ‘I can see everything I need to see.’ ”


This next item was going to be about Denzel Washington and his athletic progeny. You might recall his older son, John David, setting rushing records at Morehouse College and later playing on the St. Louis Rams’ practice squad. Well, now his younger boy, Malcolm, has won a Division V state basketball title at Los Angeles’ Windward High.

Malcolm, a sophomore point guard, isn’t the star of the team - Windward’s 6-foot-10 center is headed to UCLA and the other backcourt starter is going to Michigan - but he chipped in six points and six assists Friday night in the championship game, a 69-53 victory over St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda.

He described his famous dad to the Los Angeles Times recently - kiddingly, I think - as “a struggling athlete” who “played basketball at the college level.” Indeed, Denzel was a member of Fordham’s junior varsity team in the ‘70s and was coached by none other than P.J. Carlesimo.

Denzel once told the New York Times that Carlesimo “would run us all day and make us work and work. We always thought he was crazy. But you know what? We were always prepared for the fourth quarter, and we hardly ever lost. Some of the things I learned from him, I still apply myself. I coached my son’s team, and that was one of the philosophies I got across to them, to always be ready for the end of the game.”


Anyway, while researching the previous item, I came across this even more fascinating one:

In the state semifinals, that St. Joseph Notre Dame club I just mentioned was down 38-19 with three minutes remaining. It then went on a 23-2 tear - aided by a full-court press and many turnovers and missed free throws by the opposition - to win 42-40 IN REGULATION on a runner at the buzzer.

That’s right, St. Joe’s scored more points in the last three minutes (23) than it did in the first 29 (19).

It’s gotta be the greatest basketball comeback I’ve ever heard of, especially considering the stakes.


Turning to baseball, the Cubs are retiring No. 31 in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, who both wore it.

A two-for-one deal, huh? Sounds like another cost-cutting move by the Tribune Company.


Here’s a stat for you: While with Chicago, Jenkins and Maddux won a combined total of exactly 300 games (Fergie 167, Mad Dog 133).

Here’s another stat for you: Because they were Cubbies, none of the 300 victories came in the postseason.


The folks at “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” e-mailed me a list of “10 Amazing and Unbelievable Facts about America’s Favorite Pastime” (that is, baseball). My favorite:

“In 1968, San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark told reporters that NASA would ‘put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.’ On Jul 20, 1969, Perry connected for his first ever home run - 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon!”


And finally…

The only way it could be better is if the first thing Neil Armstrong did on the moon was spit.

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