Sunday, December 4, 2005

A thousand dollars to the NFL referee who turns on his microphone and announces: “We’d like to penalize the offense 10 yards for holding — unless Arlen Specter thinks it’s ‘vindictive and inappropriate.’ ”

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Can you believe Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went to bat for Terrell Owens last week? Sounds like just the guy the players are looking for to replace Richard Bloch as the league’s arbitrator.



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I can hardly wait for Specter’s first grievance hearing. His bailiff will probably be Clinton Portis — as Sheriff Gonna Getcha.

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With Arlen as the Court of Last Resort, Clinton and Sean Taylor would be able to wear any socks they wanted, even nylons with seams.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’ll quarterback the Rams against the Redskins today, is a Harvard graduate. Finally, a QB who actually understands the NFL’s passer rating formula.

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Fitzpatrick will have to go a ways, though, to top Frank Ryan, the Browns’ quarterback in the ‘60s. Ryan had a Ph.D. in mathematics, an IQ of 155 and wrote a thesis titled “A Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc.”

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Which can really come in handy when you’re trying to remember the snap count.

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In his homage to Jack Concannon, who died Monday at 62, Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe said Concannon was “the very first player ever presented to the American viewing public on instant replay. … The newfangled gizmo was first supposed to be used in a Texas game in 1962, but it wasn’t quite ready. It was unveiled for the BC-Holy Cross game the following week, and Concannon [the Eagles’ quarterback] was the first subject.”

Interesting. I always thought instant replay was born at the 1963 Army-Navy game — and that “first subject” was Cadets quarterback Rollie Stichweh, whose 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was immediately re-run for viewers. (Then again, maybe that was the first use of replay in a national game, and the other was merely a regional telecast.)

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Concannon’s 10-year NFL career, which ended in 1975, was unremarkable. In 1969, though, he was on a Bears team that also had Bobby Douglass and Virgil Carter at QB. What’s such a big deal about that, you ask? Well, all three had 100-yard rushing games in the pros — Concannon with Philadelphia (129 yards against Pittsburgh in ‘66), Douglass with Chicago (three times, with a high of 127 yards against Oakland in ‘72) and Carter with Cincinnati (110 yards against Cleveland in ‘70, including a 73-yard run).

There probably isn’t another team in NFL history that’s had three scramblers like that.

Not that it did the Bears much good. They finished 1-13 that year.

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Trivia question: Four active NFL quarterbacks have rushed for 100 yards in a game. Two are gimmes — Michael Vick (six times, including once in the playoffs) and Donovan McNabb (three). Name the other two. (Answer below.)

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Memo to the D.C. Council: If you want to defray some of the cost of the new baseball stadium, you might want to follow Indiana’s lead. In January, the state will start selling Colts license plates for an additional $35 to help pay for the team’s new retractable-roof home.

“The goal is to raise nearly $500,000 a year,” the Indianapolis Star reports. “The $35 fee will be split — $20 goes to the stadium project and $15 remains with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.”

The stadium building authority also is auctioning the numbers of famous Colts past and present — plus hundreds of other combinations of letters and numbers such as TD 88 (for Marvin Harrison). The bidding at www.bmv.in.gov ends Dec. 16.

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Stat of the Week: Opponents have already attempted seven onside kicks against the unbeaten Colts this season — four in the third quarter and three in the fourth.

It all started last December against Tennessee, the Star says, when the desperate Titans tried three of them in the first quarter and recovered two. As Titans coach Jeff Fisher explained it, “We felt like if we kicked the ball deep, it would only be a matter of plays before they had the ball at the 40, anyway, so why not take a chance?”

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Brent Musburger has paid a fine for drinking beer in a moving vehicle as he left the Nebraska-Pittsburgh game earlier this season. The ABC sportscaster, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was fined $50 for the open container of alcohol, $50 for drinking from it, $44 in court costs and $25 for being Brent Musburger.

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It must have killed Ralph Friedgen and his staff to miss out on a bowl game last Saturday — and then watch former Maryland recruit Victor Abiamiri rack up four sacks in Notre Dame’s win over Stanford. The Terps had to stop recruiting the defensive end when a former assistant coach was found to be slipping him small amounts of cash. A shame, because Abiamiri wanted to go to College Park, and brothers Rob and Pascal were already in the Maryland program.

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Victor leads the Irish in sacks, by the way, with eight.

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Turning to baseball, Paul Konerko turned down a five-year, $65 million bid from the Orioles and re-upped with the White Sox. Konerko reportedly was tempted by the O’s offer, but was worried Miguel Tejada might slip some B-12 in his coffee.

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While the Red Sox battle Doug Mientkiewicz for the ball he caught for the final out of the 2004 World Series, they’ve asked a court to place the ball in a “secure location” until the case is resolved.

By “secure location,” I’m assuming they mean: Somewhere other than Manny Ramirez’s glove.

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News item: Fatter rear ends are causing many drug injections to miss their mark, researchers say, requiring longer needles to reach buttock muscle.

Comment: That explains, I guess, why nose tackles almost never test positive.

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Elsewhere in sports, John McEnroe is returning to the ATP tour to play doubles at the age of 46. It’s like they say: Until you’ve been away 16 years, you don’t realize how much you miss screaming at referees.

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Shane Stant, the low-life who kneecapped Nancy Kerrigan back in ‘94, has had his request to become a Navy SEAL turned down. On the plus side, though, Shawn Eckardt, his 300-pound accomplice, is still eligible for the Navy WALRUS program.

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Answer to trivia question: The other two active NFL quarterbacks who have rushed for 100 yards in a game are: Aaron Brooks (108 for the Saints against the 49ers in 2000) and …Vinny Testaverde (105 for the Bucs against the Vikings in ‘90). Steve McNair’s best rushing effort is 95 yards; Daunte Culpepper’s best is 83.

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And finally …

Did you hear about the 9-year-old who qualified for the U.S. Pool Players Association national championship? Martin Scorsese, I hear, is thinking of making a movie about the kid. Yup, he’s gonna call it “The Color of Monopoly Money.”

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