- The Washington Times - Friday, January 1, 2010


JANUARY 31, 1983

Riggins’ Super run

Miami knew it had to stop him and couldn’t.

In what could possibly have been his last game in the National Football League, Redskin running back John Riggins bullied his way to five records yesterday, four Super Bowl and one playoff. And that was enough to lift the Redskins to a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins and their first NFL championship since 1942.

And when President Ronald Reagan called Redskin coach Joe Gibbs to congratulate him after the game, he said he was thinking about changing the spelling of his name, to coincide with Riggins’.

“Ron [Reagan] may be President,” said Riggins, “but I’m the king.”

— Marty Hurney

JANUARY 23, 1984

Coming up short

For the better part of 19 weeks, the Washington Redskins carried the role of the most dominating team in professional football. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Raiders taught them what domination was all about.

The team that lost only two of 18 games this season by a total of two points, the team that had won 31 or its last 34 and was only one victory away from tying Miami’s record (set it 1972-73) for most victories in a season, was on the losing end of the most lopsided decision in Super Bowl history yesterday.

Los Angeles 38, Washington 9.

— Marty Hurney

JANUARY 27, 1992

A Buffalo beat-down

Don’t tell me. Let me guess. That was an inadvertent second quarter the Buffalo Bills played in the Super Bowl yesterday, just like the inadvertent kickoff at the start of the game.

Actually, the Bills just got drawn and second-quartered, the same thing that happened to Denver in the Super Bowl four years ago. That time the quarter score was Redskins 35, Broncos 0. This time it was Redskins 17, Bills 0. But the message was the same: We are going to win this game.

Other teams focus on the fourth quarter. The Redskins own the second. In the Super Bowl, anyway. If the quick knockout’s there, why not take it? After all, the game starts late, Minneapolis closes early and guys like me have deadlines.

— Dan Daly


May 15, 2002

The red menace?

Neil Washington has a dodge ball story — and like most, it’s a sad sack tale of playground pathos, forged in pain and tempered with humiliation.

Ending, of course, in a bloody nose.

While teaching a fifth-grade physical education class in the late 1960s, Williams decided to stage a good ol’ fashioned game of dodge ball. A k a bombardment. A k a prison ball.

A k a slaughter ball.

As the red rubber balls began to fly, Williams saw that one of his students — a pudgy, bespectacled girl — seemed reluctant to join in the fun.

— Patrick Hruby

APRIL 24, 2004

Ideas gone bad

Like leisure suits and the Ford Pinto, it was an idea to suit its era. Which is to say, surpassingly ill-conceived. On a warm summer evening in 1974, the attendance-starved Cleveland Indians held their first — and last — “10-Cent Beer Night,” a celebration of life, bad baseball and ludicrously cheap suds.

Lured by the promise of the latter, more than 25,000 fans showed up, many of them already sloshed.

In the first inning, small explosions were heard in the stands; in the fourth, a nude man slid into second base; in the fifth, a father-and-son team jumped into the infield and mooned the crowd.

— Patrick Hruby

February 19, 2002

The crying game

In more than a quarter-century on the job, Frank Carroll has seen a lifetime’s worth of weeping — and he’s not a priest, a cop or even a bartender.

He’s a figure skating coach.

“The thing that people don’t understand about figure skating is that it’s a performing sport,” Carroll said. “You’re supposed to show great emotion out there — use your face, and suffer.”

And suffer they do. From tears of joy to tears of despair, from sloppy blubbering to dignified misting, from reluctant trickling to salty-wet sobbing, figure skating is nothing if not, er, expressive — a sport where crying is not only sanctioned, but encouraged.

— Patrick Hruby

JUNE 16, 2009

Mascot mania

It usually is not prudent to meddle with your mascot.

When an androgynous blob named Gunston is part of the only Final Four run in school history, perhaps it’s not best to spurn karma nor its fuzzy green incarnations for a sleek new look (see George Mason).

When a menacing, toothy Jack the Bulldog has perfectly mirrored your team’s relentless style since the beginning of Big East play, don’t be surprised when alumni cringe at the introduction of a kinder, gentler, smiling version of the canine (see Georgetown).

Believe it or not, these capering, furry cartoons have power. It’s called character branding.

— Barker Davis


September 4, 1994

The Squire

It has never taken much to coax Jack Kent Cooke atop the lead horse. During one of Miss Muirhead’s high school English classes in the late 1920’s, young Jackie disagreed with the teacher’s interpretation of a particular reading assignment, so he raised his hand repeatedly to announce his own literary connotations. Miss Muirhead saw apples. Cooke saw oranges and wasn’t going to lower his arm until somebody tasted the juice.

“She said, ‘If you’re so smart, Cooke, you come up and teach the class.’ I said, ‘I will, with great pleasure, Miss Muirhead.’ And I did. That day. And she never let me do it again.”

— Bob Cohn

AUGUST 31, 2000

The Danny arrives

The [Babe Ruth] deal changed the course of history for two teams and two cities, not to mention all of baseball, sport and culture in general. But it wasn’t the only time an owner wrote a check made out to Success and hoped it didn’t bounce. Well before the dawn of free agency and certainly afterward, if there were championships to be won, there were wealthy men who believed they could buy them.

In other words, what Redskins owner Dan Snyder is trying to accomplish is not exactly new.

— Bob Cohn

NOVEMBER 25, 2009

Abe Pollin dies

Abe Pollin was pugnacious to the end, refusing to walk away until he saw his beloved NBA franchise hoist a second championship banner.

It was not meant to be.

He passed away with his team mired in injuries and uncertainty and friction. That seemingly was the fate of the franchise since the ‘80s. Its big-name players would succumb to injury, and another season would be lost.

But Pollin never accepted that this was the lot of the franchise. He always saw a better day and the promise of another season, as Dave Johnson came to learn.

— Tom Knott


SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

Alex the Great

Wayne Gretzky’s career total of 894 goals is supposed to be unreachable, but if Alex Ovechkin were to duplicate what he has accomplished in his first four seasons three more times, he would begin the first year of his new contract within reach of the Great One’s hallowed achievement.

History says not so fast, but is the Great No. 8 the guy who can defy it?

“I don’t think there is anything out of reach for him,” Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “He’s got everything. He’s got ability, he’s got the drive and he’s got the strength. He’s got all the physical attributes, but he’s got all the intangibles as well.”

— Corey Masisak

APRIL 18, 1999

Sunday Sports Times

In mid-1999, The Washington Times decided that its Sunday edition would feature the sports section in the front of the paper, rather than behind the A section — which is the norm for most, if not all, newspapers.

The first Sunday Sports Times came the day after the 1999 NFL Draft, in which the Redskins traded down with New Orleans in order to take cornerback Champ Bailey.

JANUARY 1, 2010

The last issue

The new decade marks the end of The Washington Times’ sports section after more than 27 years of publishing.

Stories included a feature on what winning the Stanley Cup would mean to the Capitals, a feature on former Redskins coach Norv Turner and farewell columns from Dan Daly, Gene Mueller and John Haydon.


MAY 8, 2003

So long, Mike

In Chicago, Michael Jordan is a statue outside the United Center.

In Washington, he is a restaurant (although probably not for long now).

What would he be in Charlotte? A golf course?

Michael Jordan is a ghost, and Abe Pollin wanted more than that. He wanted a club president who was committed to the Washington Wizards, not one who was committed mostly to his own whims and wishes.

That is not too much to ask.

He wanted a guy who was willing to give up the ball, not demand it, and that is not Jordan.

— Thom Loverro

JUNE 28, 2001

Meet Kwame

Kwame Brown is coming to the big city with a wad of Benjamins stuffed in his hand.

Brown is certain to make a lot of new best friends as he tries to acclimate himself to his new surroundings in the months ahead. That is only part of the potential problem of someone so young, so wealthy, so inexperienced in the ways of the world.

He is a mere 19 years old, just out of Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga., which is a long way from the tempations found in the city along the Potomac River.

Players older than Brown routinely have succumbed to those temptations, which is why the franchise with two broken ribs was in a position to make history in the NBA Draft last night.

— Tom Knott

JANUARY 24, 2004

A Caps fire sale

If Ted Leonsis made a list of 100 things he wanted to do in his life, trading Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers and paying between $16 million and $20 million for the final four years of his contract wouldn’t be on that list.

Then again, watching Michael Jordan get fired wouldn’t be on it, either.

Maybe Leonsis should come up with a new list, one that starts with getting Abe Pollin to retire.

Poor Leonsis. He deserves better. He is the anti-Dan Snyder, a personable, decent guy who seems to have the best interests of fans at heart.

— Thom Loverro

JANUARY 16, 2002

The ‘Ol’ Ball Coach’

At the carefully orchestrated time of 6 p.m. yesterday, just in time for local newscasts to open with live coverage and with media from around the nation on hand, Steve Spurrier introduced himself to Washington.

Redskins football was back in the big time, thanks to the Southern “ball coach” with the sharp resume, staggering contract and bold reputation. Everyone wanted to hear from the new coach who’s smart enough to whip his opponents, brash enough to keep scoring when they’re down and fearless enough to take a verbal shot at ‘em every now and then.

— Jody Foldesy


JULY 9, 2007

Inaugural AT&T;

Only the Tank proved impervious to the final-round calamity at Congressional.

South Korea’s K.J. Choi rolled to a three-shot victory in Tiger Woods’ inaugural AT&T; National yesterday, posting a closing 68 while the rest of the field at Old Blue withered in the scorching heat. The victory comes just five weeks after Choi — who earned the nickname “Tank” as a competitive weightlifter years before he took up golf as a teenager — collected the hardware at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Invitational, giving the sturdy 37-year-old a sweep of golf’s demigod double.

“Tiger’s trophy is a lot heavier than Jack’s,” Choi said.

— Barker Davis

JUNE 16, 1997


hosts U.S. Open

Ernie Els survived an unforgettable four-man, final-round marathon yesterday at Congressional Country Club, holing a five-foot par putt on the tournament’s 72nd hole to claim the 97th U.S. Open championship by one stroke at 4-under par.

“Three years ago when I won this tournament, it was like a war out there. And I knew it was going to be the same today with great players like Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie and Jeff Maggert,” Els said after adding this year’s crown to his 1994 U.S. Open championship. “It must have made a hell of a show for television.”

— Barker Davis

JUNE 19, 1994

World Cup at RFK

Ole! Ole! Ole!

Plenty of them rang out around RFK Stadium yesterday when midfielder Marcelino Bernal scored early in the second half to lift Mexico into a 1-1 tie with Italy that sent the Mexicans into the next round of the World Cup and temporarily left the Italians’ fate dangling.

With a weary Italy nursing a 1-0 lead but under siege and needing a victory to guarantee life in the Round of 16, Bernal capitalized on a rare breakdown in the Italians’ defense.

— Kisha Ciabattari

APRIL 12, 2009

Frozen Four in D.C.

In this upside-down march through the NCAA men’s hockey tournament, when having a higher seed meant more self-doubt after a premature exit, it should have figured the team left standing would be the underdog without the pedigree.

Until there was about a minute left in Saturday night’s national championship game, that appeared to be the case. But Boston University, in the end, was too tough to be stopped.

— Ben Goessling

MAY 8, 2003

Not so ‘Iron Mike’

In a way, it might have been better for Mike Tyson if he had gone out big, on the business end of a crushing punch that toppled him to the canvas.

It would have been a fitting end to the wild ride that was Tyson’s violent, controversial, unique career. But no. There was no noise and little violence at the end of the sixth round last night at MCI Center. Tyson lay tangled up in the ropes. Referee Joe Cortez walked to the former heavyweight champion’s corner, listened and waved his arms.

Even though he was leading on the cards of two of the three judges, Tyson simply had quit, a loser by technical knockout to a big Irish journeyman named Kevin McBride. Iron Mike’s career is over.

— Bob Cohn

MARCH 10, 2005

ACC tournament

Wait. Hold up. Put down the giant foam finger. Stop searching for Stamey’s Barbeque. We already know the problem.

You’re thinking: This isn’t Greensboro.

Guess what? You’re right. This isn’t Greensboro. The ACC wasn’t born here. Twenty conference tournaments haven’t been played here. The four North Carolina schools aren’t within an hour’s drive — heck, Maryland’s campus can be an hour’s drive, depending on Beltway traffic — and the only tailgating occurs when our duly elected leaders chug one too many at happy hour.

Also, most of us couldn’t pick Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of a lineup consisting of “Little E” and Destiny’s Child.

— Patrick Hruby

March 6, 1993

Shocking resignation

Joe Gibbs knew pretty early on he wasn’t the institution type, that he wasn’t going to coach the Redskins for 20 or 25 years. He was too much of a maniac about his job — working till all hours, sacking out in his office, hermetically sealing himself off from the world. Nothing was more fun than asking him a current events question and listening to him answer like some guy who’d just been thawed out after a decade in deep-freeze.

One day last season, Gibbs was holding forth with the media when he glanced out the window at Redskin Park and saw someone he knew in the parking lot. “Hey,” he said, seeming momentarily disoriented, “that’s my wife!” A rare midweek wife sighting!

— Dan Daly

JANUARY 8, 2004

Return of the king

“Joe Gibbs returns to Redskins.”

How many headlines — here or anywhere — would cause more of a buzz than that? I can think of maybe one, offhand:

“Amelia Earhart found living on remote Pacific Island — with Tom Hanks.”

Dan Snyder, the Fantasy League owner, has finally gotten himself a Fantasy League coach. Gibbs, after all, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of Washington’s leading sports deities. Of the Redskins’ five NFL titles, he’s responsible for three of them. He has also, in his time away from the game, led his NASCAR team to two championships.

— Dan Daly

JANUARY 8, 2004

JANUARY 9, 2008

Stepping down again

The first time Joe Gibbs retired in 1993, he left Redskin Park as a conquering king, a three-time Super Bowl winner bound for Canton. The atmosphere yesterday at his Second Farewell Address was decidedly different. Coach Joe seemed more like an outgoing one-term president — not a failure, necessarily, but a man who was leaving behind a fair share of unfinished business.

Is the franchise better off now than it was four years ago, when he came to the rescue? Unquestionably.

“He did a great job of stabilizing a situation that had been unstable before, frankly,” said Dan Snyder, whose impulsiveness had a lot do with that instability.

— Dan Daly

MARCH 12, 2008

Gary does it his way

There is no known prescription for coaches who watch their teams lose three days before Christmas to a crosstown rival for the first time in 80 years.

Nor is there a go-to antidote for withstanding the scalding probing of a program a half-dozen years removed from a national championship that’s suddenly losing home games to perceived nonconference nobodies on a weekly basis.

So Gary Williams drove. From his Potomac home to Columbus, Ohio. Back and forth, a holiday visit with his daughter and grandkids wedged between the bookend trips over the Appalachians.

— Patrick Stevens

JANUARY 9, 1999

Big John steps down

When they talked on the phone Wednesday, Temple’s John Chaney told John Thompson he was crazy to step down as Georgetown’s basketball coach. Why, Chaney wondered, didn’t Thompson simply take a sabbatical if he needed some time away?

“Because,” Thompson explained, “lending somebody your team to coach is like lending somebody your toothbrush. It’s either your toothbrush or his toothbrush.”

Craig Esherick, Thompson’s longtime right-hand man, tried to talk his boss out of it, too. He didn’t want him to make a decision he would regret later. At one point, he said to him, “Do you realize how close you are to 600 wins?”

— Dan Daly

OCTOBER 28, 1998

Arena leaves D.C. United for U.S. soccer

Bruce Arena says he wants a new challenge. Now he has one.

Arena, D.C. United’s tough-talking former coach, was named coach and technical director of the U.S. national team yesterday.

Arena replaces Steve Sampson, who transformed American soccer into an international laughingstock with last summer’s one-goal performance and last-place finish at the World Cup in France.

“Personally, it’s a tremendous challenge,” Arena said accepting his new job. “I know the road ahead will have both peaks and valleys. I do look forward to the challenge.”

— Ken Wright


Sept. 30, 2004

Baseball’s back

As I passed through customs in Montreal, the agent asked if my visit was business or pleasure.

“Both,” I said.

She asked what I did for a living, and I said I was a sportswriter for The Washington Times.

She asked about the purpose of my visit.

“To bring your baseball team back to Washington with me,” I said.

Now, I have run that line by customs agents here four times in the past, but those turned out to be just hollow boasts.

Not this time.

— Thom Loverro

April 15, 2005

Welcome home

Sure, the first pitch from President Bush — a high ball to catcher Brian Schneider — was special. So was the first actual pitch by Livan Hernandez — a called strike to Craig Counsell — a few minutes later.

But those were ceremonial moments. Memorable ones to be sure but nothing more than footnotes for the history books.

Want to know the real moment baseball officially returned to Washington? It came about an hour later in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Vinny Castilla roped a triple down the right-field line, scoring Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen to give the Nationals the lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

— Mark Zuckerman

MARCH 31, 2008

Zimmerman’s walkoff

Ryan Zimmerman strode to the plate, knowing very well what the situation called for.

Really, it seemed like everyone inside sold-out Nationals Park was thinking the same thing when the face of the Washington Nationals franchise dug in against Atlanta Braves reliever Peter Moylan with two outs in the ninth and the game still hanging in the balance.

Inside the home clubhouse, starting pitcher Odalis Perez saw a stat on television pointing out that Zimmerman ranked second in the majors last season with 18 game-winning RBI.

“Hey, he might have 19 tonight,” Perez said. “And here comes the pitch. Game over.”

Yes, game over.

— Mark Zuckerman


NOVEMBER 28, 2007

Sean Taylor killed

Following a harrowing day in which they learned Redskins safety Sean Taylor was shot by a home intruder, endured a seven-hour surgery and remained unconscious, those close to him went to sleep late Monday night or early Tuesday morning buoyed by news from Miami that he was responsive to a surgeon’s request.

That made the news yesterday morning more stunning.

Taylor’s condition deteriorated during the early morning hours, and he died at about 5 a.m. at age 24. Thirty minutes later, after owner Dan Snyder called coach Joe Gibbs and assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams with the news, running back Clinton Portis began calling teammates.

— Ryan O’Halloran

JUNE 20, 1986

Len Bias dies

The news of Lenny Bias’ death struck a nerve in the District area yesterday, and it went beyond his merits as a basketball player at the University of Maryland.

Bias’ death reinforced the notion of man’s frailties and limitations. It reinforced the notion that there is a finite number of days for everyone, that life offers no guarantees, not even for someone so young, so strong, so athletically gifted as Bias.

Bias died yesterday morning at age 22, the apparent victim of cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m. at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, where doctors spent two hours trying to revive him.

— Tom Knott


APRIL 3, 1984

Georgetown reigns

The Georgetown Hoyas fulfilled the destiny that was seemingly theirs all season by winning the NCAA National Championship of college basketball at the Kingdome here last night. Led by a sparkling 11-point second half by Reggie Williams and getting key plays by Fred Brown and Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas came away with an 84-75 decision over Houston.

“I’m elated about winning the National Championship,” said the Hoyas’ John Thompson, who became the first black coach to claim the NCAA title. “But it takes more to get here than to win one game.”

— Happy Fine

APRIL 2, 2002

Terps take title

Mission accomplished.

The Maryland Terrapins claimed their first national championship in nerve-wracking fashion last night with a 64-52 win over Indiana before 53,406 in the Georgia Dome. The Terps earned the monumental victory despite being frustrated on offense and even trailing midway through the second half.

But as it has been throughout the Terps’ glorious season, Juan Dixon came to the rescue.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” said Lonny Baxter, who finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. “It’s hard to believe we won the championship. Juan and I were just talking [during the net-cutting ceremony]. We came here and nobody expected us to do anything like this. We won it.”

— Jon Siegel

MARCH 27, 2006

Mason shocks UConn

Anyone who claims to have had George Mason reaching the Final Four is either lying or related to coach Jim Larranaga, who doubled as the school’s head cheerleader during the cutting down of the nets after the game.

He led the celebratory throng of 19,718 in an unabashedly prideful chant, shouting “George” to the throng’s “Mason.”

It was a zillion-to-1 moment no one with the program ever thought possible. It was a zillion-to-1 moment conceived by a program that never had won a game in the NCAA tournament until it upended Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut this month.

— Tom Knott

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