- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 15, 2009

About the only way it could be worse for the Redskins is if the Hogettes, their pig-snouted fans, got hit with the swine flu.

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Saw Chad Ochocinco was fined $20,000 for waving a $1 bill at an official in a feigned bribe attempt. I can’t decide, though, whether he was fined for the act itself or because the U.S. Treasury isn’t one of the NFL’s official sponsors.

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In Cleveland, meanwhile, Jamal Lewis complained that coach Eric Mangini was working the team too hard in practice.

Mangini swatted aside the notion, pointing out that the Browns are tied for the league lead in fewest fatalities with none.

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Funny how Lewis never complained about unfair labor practices when he was carrying 387 times for 2,066 yards in 2003 with the Ravens.

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I’m not saying Jay Cutler had a tough outing in San Francisco, but the 49ers’ leading receiver Thursday night, with five catches for 90 yards, was their defense.

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It was a rough week for the Bears quarterback. The next day, the NFL docked him $20,000 for verbally abusing the back judge in a 41-21 loss to Arizona. I’m guessing Cutler jumped the official because he blocked his view of the intended receiver - the Cardinals’ free safety.

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Seems like just yesterday Fran Tarkenton was calling out Brett Favre, accusing him of being disloyal to the Packers by talking to the Vikings. “I kind of hope [he signs with Minnesota], so he can fail,” he said.

Now Tarkenton is questioning Cutler’s ability to lead, saying in a radio interview, “He’s got to take charge.”

If I were Jake, I’d take it as a good sign. At last glance, Favre was the second-rated passer in the league (106.0), and the Vikes had the third-best record (7-1).

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Speaking of vintage QBs, Joe Montana just put his 500-acre wine estate in Napa Valley on the market for $49 million.

Don’t tell me, Fran, let me guess: Joe was a heck of a passer, but you were never that fond of his merlot.

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At first I thought Montana’s place was overpriced, but then I found out it includes a Bocce ball court.

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The main residence has two laundry rooms. You need the second one, I’m assuming, for those hard-to-get-out bocce stains.

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No joke: I haven’t been this excited about a piece of real estate since John Salley, during his Pistons days, bought a 62-room mansion that previously housed the archbishop of Detroit.

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Leigh Montville wrote a great story about it in Sports Illustrated years ago. Among the features of the castlelike property were “an elevator and a chapel with eight rows of pews,” Montville reported. “Sun filters through the chapel’s stained-glass windows and onto the eight carved heads of angels on the walls. The house also includes a wine cellar, a conference room, 12 fireplaces and seven porches. What appears to be the biggest Oriental rug in Michigan is on the sitting room floor. The Steuben glassware is locked in one of the four vaults. …

“[The dining room] table seats 20. A marble fireplace looms at one end of the room. The andirons are approximately the size of Willie Shoemaker. A bas-relief of a bishop’s hat is sculpted into the marble. The three Latin words ABUNDARE FACIAT CARITATUM are engraved below the hat. They translate to, ‘Do all things abundantly with love.’ ”

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Just wanted you to get the full flavor of John’s crib (which he bought for the low, low price of $500,000 - 1/98th of what Montana’s spread is going for).

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Ever wonder what’s going on over in the United Football League?

My son Danny did a story for his college newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, on a former Wildcats linebacker who’s starting for the California Redwoods. That’s the United Football League team coached by Denny Green, previously with the NFL’s Vikings and Cardinals.

“He gives some really good speeches,” the player, Prince Kwateng, told Danny, “and he’s a funny guy. One day after practice, he gave us his fight song from high school. It was out of the blue. At the end of practice, he just brought us up and started screaming his fight song, just to show how much pride he has in everything he’s associated with.”

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FYI: Green graduated from John Harris High School in Harrisburg, Pa. (before heading to the University of Iowa). Ten points - heck, 100 points - if you can name his high school coach, who later was the head coach of a college team in the D.C. area.

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Give up? Denny’s high school coach was none other than George Chaump, who ran Navy’s program from 1990 to ‘94. (Between Elliot Uzelac and Charlie Weatherbie, if that helps any.) By the way, Chaump is - at the age of 73 - back coaching high school ball in Harrisburg.

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Turning to golf, the PGA Tour has decided not to give a comeback player of the year award for 2009. David Duval looked to have a shot at it after finishing second in the U.S. Open, but then he returned to whatever spider hole he’d been hiding in.

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The award usually goes to a player who regains his form after illness or injury or to a slumping player who turns things around - unless, it seems, that player is Tiger Woods. Tiger won six tournaments in ‘09 after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery the year before, but that doesn’t count, apparently. That’s just the Greatest Golfer Ever being the Greatest Golfer Ever.

(To put his performance in perspective: In the last three decades, only four players have won as many as six events in a year - Tom Watson in 1980, Nick Price in 1994, Vijay Singh in 2004 and Woods seven times.)

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Then again, Tiger’s peers probably didn’t want to hand him Yet Another Trophy, one he’d figure to use as either a doorstop or a place to store his toothpicks.

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And finally…

Elsewhere on the links, journeyman Doug Barron has become the first Tour player to be suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

Inasmuch as Barron lost his card in 2006 and played in only one tournament this year, missing the cut, you have to ask yourself: Is he being punished for taking PEDs or for not taking enough of them?

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