- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2009

I’m all for the NFL airing blacked-out games on tape delay - as long as the tape of the Rams-Lions game in Week 8 is delayed until 2020.


After dragging his cleats for a week, Richard Seymour, acquired by the Raiders in a trade, was expected to arrive in Oakland on Saturday.

Good thing, too. If he’d taken much longer to report, he could have been declared legally sane.


Elsewhere in pro football, a federal appeals court has rebuffed the league’s latest attempt to suspend Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams for drug violations. Then again, maybe the court issued the ruling it did because, in a police lineup, it couldn’t tell the 311-pound Williams from the 317-pound Williams.


Glad to see John Madden is keeping himself occupied. According to the NFL, he’s agreed to serve as an unpaid adviser to commissioner Roger Goodell on “matters pertaining to the game, including competitive issues, coaching and personnel development, technological innovations, player safety and the proper use of onomatopoeia in the broadcast booth.”


Let’s hope this regrettable episode with Tila Tequila will make Shawne Merriman realize the importance of, uh, alcohol awareness.


The district attorney decided there wasn’t enough evidence to substantiate her claims of battery and false imprisonment.

A headline that was begging to be written: Merriman worms his way out of trouble with Tequila.


Neal from Gaithersburg - yes, Neal has returned from his unpaid leave of absence - e-mails: “I see where the Steelers have a rookie named Mike Wallace. If the 60-minute player ever comes back, you’d think it would be him.”


Congratulations to Bill Snyder, the soon-to-be-70 Kansas State football coach, on his five-year contract extension. By the time the deal is done, he’ll be old enough to be Joe Paterno’s son.


Snyder’s contract reportedly has some lucrative performance incentives, including $250,000 for winning the BCS championship, $75,000 for a Big 12 title and $5,000 for remembering his login name.


Now that the track and field folks have tested Caster Semenya to determine whether she’s female, maybe they could test Usain Bolt to determine whether he’s human.


So I’m watching Rafael Nadal get smooched on the cheek by a chubby-faced guy with a ponytail, and I’m thinking: How did we get from Morganna the Kissing Bandit to this clown?


By the way, the score of Nadal’s match that night against Gael Monfils has been amended. It’s now 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, 6-love.


In the wake of the incident, U.S. Open officials began a thorough review of their on-court security procedures. It’s about time. I mean, one of these days, a player is going to get hit in the head with a jar of Grey Poupon - or an empty bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.


Has any league in modern history had sketchier ownership than the NHL? Just the other day, William “Boots” Del Biaggio III, part owner of the Nashville Predators, was sentenced to eight years in prison for bilking investors out of tens of millions of dollars. (Del Biaggio also used to have a piece of the San Jose Sharks.)

In February, Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh, former co-owners of the New York Islanders, were charged with similar crimes - on an even larger scale. And let’s not forget erstwhile Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall, who served 13 months for conspiracy and fraud, and one-time Islanders owner John Spano, another con man who spent most of the past decade behind bars.

Then there’s Alan Eagleson, the first executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, who did time for fraud and embezzlement.

You look at what happened to Spano - and what might happen to Greenwood and Walsh - and, well, maybe the team should be renamed the Devil’s Islanders.


Everybody knows about John Houston Stockton the basketball player - the one inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday. Little has been written, though, about John Houston Stockton the football player - the grandfather of the Utah Jazz great.

Allow me to fill in some of the gaps.

Hust, as gramps was called, was a terrific single-wing tailback in the ‘20s. In fact, in 1926, when the Frankford Yellow Jackets won the NFL title, it was he who threw the winning touchdown pass in the biggest game of the season - a 7-6 victory over George Halas’ Chicago Bears. (Ten days earlier, on Thanksgiving, he had saved the Yellow Jackets from another defeat by throwing for a late score against Green Bay.)

Like his grandson, Hust played his college ball at Gonzaga. His coach was the legendary Gus Dorais, who had revolutionized the game at Notre Dame in 1913 by passing mighty Army silly (many of his heaves going to Knute Rockne). Gonzaga no longer fields a football team - and hasn’t in over half a century - but in the ‘20s it had dreams of becoming the Notre Dame of the West.

The Jesuit-run university had fewer than 200 students in those days. Astoundingly, seven members of the 1922 team later played in the NFL. Hust was easily the biggest star. One newspaper gushed: “On the Pacific Coast… no one even approaches him in passing. … [His] success with the pass can be traced to three sources - an ability to pass the ball like a baseball is hurled, a trick of leaping straight into the air when pressed and passing in the opposite direction… and a steely calm under fire.”

Decades later, his grandson would wow crowds with a different kind of passing.


Postscript: Even though it shut down its football program 68 years ago, Gonzaga produced two Pro Football Hall of Famers - Ray Flaherty (an all-league end with the Giants who went on to coach the Redskins to two championships) and Tony Canadeo (a 1,000-yard rusher for the Packers in 1949, when 1,000-yard rushers were rare).

Postscript II: Also at Gonzaga when Hust was there was a fellow named Bing Crosby. Bing wasn’t big enough to play football, but - being blessed with an exceptional set of vocal cords - he did serve as one of the yell leaders at games.

Postscript III: In 1926, while Hust was back east winning the NFL title, Babe Ruth showed up at Gonzaga one day, donned a Zags football uniform and took batting practice at the baseball stadium - with footballs. (Seems he was in town appearing in a vaudeville show.)

The Bambino “spent a couple of hours driving the leather to various sections of the lot,” according to one report. “He finally ‘got hold’ of one, sending it over the barricade.”

His reaction? “That’s one over the fence like I never hit before.”


And finally…

News item: Rachel Alexandra, who bypassed the Belmont after winning the Preakness, is also skipping the Breeders’ Cup - and a possible race against undefeated Zenyatta.

Comment: I know Rachel has Northern Dancer on one side of her lineage, but I’m beginning to think she has Greta Garbo on the other.

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