The Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 28-21 on Sunday in G‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√†√áteborg, Sweden. Unaware that William (Refrigerator) Perry had checked into a fat farm and would not be making the trip, Swedish flacks described him in promotional fliers as "a highly explosive package of muscle who is fast enough to qualify for a 100-meter Swedish championship sprint."
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
In June 1987, Pitt defensive back Teryl Austin confessed to having accepted $2,500 from agent Norby Walters. The NCAA suspended him immediately. Two months later, having extracted from Austin a promise to repay Walters, it reduced the suspension to two games. Last May, Michigan State lineman Tony Mandarich applied for the NFL's supplemental draft but a month later changed his mind and withdrew his name. Too late! The NCAA ruled him ineligible for the upcoming season.
Michigan State objected, saying that unlike Austin, Mandarich had retained no agent and taken no money. And so, last week, the sages of the NCAA's eligibility committee put their heads together and decided to reduce Mandarich's suspension to...three games. Go figure.
First-year pros Tim Perry and Dan Majerle and free agent Tom Chambers won't be the only new faces around the Phoenix Suns this season: The gorilla is a rookie. When eight-year veteran ape Henry Rojas retired after last season—the club sent him off with a rocking chair and a half ton of bananas—the front office put the word out that it was looking for a successor. Overwhelmed by the 500-plus applications they received from primate wannabes as far away as Pennsylvania and Wyoming, the Suns invited applicants to send videos of themselves aping it up. They got 110 tapes. Nineteen finalists were called to audition at the Suns' practice court last month. "We had gorillas on skateboards, a gorilla on stilts; we had a gorilla play a five-minute classical piece on a piano," says Sun p.r. man Barry Ringel. Local costume merchants reported a run on ape suits.
One gorilla, the unanimous winner, clearly outshone all the others. He did cartwheels and back handsprings, he walked on his hands, he used a trampoline to dunk basketballs, he stood on the rim and flipped off of it. "He just moved like a gorilla," recalls Ringel. "He was an absolute natural." The new ape is 5'8", 150 pounds and has a gymnastics background. He will earn $20,000 to $25,000 his rookie year and has incentive clauses in his contract for appearances at outside functions. The club figures it's a contract well deserved. "Five hundred to one," marvels Ringel. "He'd probably have had an easier time making the team."
ONE MAN, ONE VOTE, 34 SEATS
Miller Dawkins, a Miami city commissioner, might not have much shame, but his timing is excellent. The Miami Herald reports that during a commission meeting last June at which the $16 million refurbishing of the Orange Bowl was being debated, Dawkins complained, "How come I got such bad seats for the Orange Bowl? I need to know how I can get some adequate seats.... Friends, colleagues and visiting dignitaries want to come and go to the Orange Bowl, and I can't take care of them." In soothing tones, Orange Bowl Committee president Jim Barker said, "I will be more than happy to sit down and work something out."
"If you want my vote, you'll work it out now," Dawkins said.
Lo, two weeks later 34 seats on the 50-yard line were made available for the commish's purchase.
CLOSING THE GATES
It has been two years since the NCAA's adoption of Bylaw 5-1-(j)—better known as Proposition 48—which makes student athletes ineligible to participate in varsity sports as freshmen if they fail to achieve minimum grades and test scores. It now appears, at least in one study, that those students admitted to college under the stigma of Proposition 48 are doing an unexpectedly good job of staying in school. An Ann Arbor News survey of all 105 Division I-A football schools shows that 79% of "Prop 48's" are still in college. This deepens suspicions that the standardized tests—on which high school students must score at least a 15 (ACT) or 700 (SAT) to avoid the Proposition 48 label—are not necessarily accurate gauges of a student's potential to succeed in college.
If the surprising success of Prop 48 students is, as some have accused, the result of intense academic counseling and tutoring, is that a valid criticism? Does it matter how someone learns as long as he or she learns? Other skeptics say the academically marginal have remained afloat by taking gut courses. If so, those students will ultimately lack enough core-curriculum credits to earn degrees, and they won't graduate. But figures on graduation rates won't be available for several years.
Yet there are institutions that object to the idea of admitting Prop 48 students at all. The Southeastern Conference intends to toughen the policy regarding Prop 48's, effectively phasing them out by 1993. It is likely that other NCAA conferences, which know a good bandwagon when they see one, will fall in line behind the SEC at the NCAA convention in January. That would be a shame, especially since one of the primary reasons behind such a phaseout, other than the professed one—maintenance of lofty academic standards—is simple jealousy among member schools. For instance, the five SEC schools that admitted two or fewer Prop 48's for 1986 and '87 resent the other five schools, which admitted six apiece; more specifically, they resent the athletic successes that these Prop 48 students might ultimately provide, or already have. Their proposed solution is to deny admission to all Prop 48's, which certainly ignores the recent findings in Ann Arbor.
At Oklahoma one football player had a 3.6 GPA in high school, but could not get over 14 on his ACT. He was admitted anyway. "He has a 3.0 here," says Sooner football coach Barry Switzer. "Now tell me he doesn't belong at a state university. That would be a tragedy."
"We were the first to take a stand for college preparation," counters SEC commissioner Harvey Schiller. Closing the gates on Prop 48's might enable administrators to make boasts like those, but its real effect will be to punish aspiring collegians before they've done anything wrong.
Two luminaries of the Baltimore sports scene died last week. Former Colt fullback Alan (the Horse) Ameche, 55, passed away on Aug. 8 after heart surgery. On Aug. 13, Oriole owner Edward Bennett Williams, 68, succumbed to cancer.
Ameche, who won the 1954 Heisman Trophy for his prowess at Wisconsin, scored on his first pro carry, a 79-yard TD run against the Chicago Bears. He ended the first sudden-death game in NFL history by barging over from the one-yard line to beat the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL championship game, still known as the Greatest Game Ever Played.
"Artie Donovan could have gone through that hole," said Ameche, referring to his 300-pound teammate. When a severed Achilles tendon ended his pro career in 1960, Ameche made a fortune in the fast-food industry and gave freely of it to underprivileged youths in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He kept his Heisman in a cardboard box at home so his children wouldn't feel as much pressure to match his accomplishments.
Williams made his fortune as one of the country's most prominent defense attorneys. His clients included such unsavory characters as Mafia godfather Frank Costello, labor leader Jimmy Hoffa and red-baiting U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy. Williams was a first-year member of the Washington Redskins board of directors in 1962 when he convinced former Skins owner George Preston Marshall to integrate the club. At the time, Washington was the NFL's last all-white franchise. It was Williams who talked Vince Lombardi out of retirement; and it was Williams who hired George Allen, who took the Skins to their first Super Bowl.
Williams bought the Orioles in 1979. The team won a World Series four years later, but dropped to fifth in 1984, and has not contended since. Still, no less an authority than George Steinbrenner said, "I had to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Ed Williams."
A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME
For a while in training camp, the New England Patriots had players named Ruth, DiMaggio and Williams. That's a pretty fair outfield. But Tony DiMaggio, an offensive lineman and a third-cousin to Joe, left camp on his own before he ever got to play in a game with nose tackle Mike Ruth and any of the three Williamses: defensive end Brent, nose tackle Toby and linebacker Ed.
But wait, the Pats still have a Brock—center Pete.
THEY SAID IT
Tommy John, the New York Yankees' 45-year-old pitcher, upon learning that his three errors in one inning tied a record for pitchers set in 1898 by J. Bentley (Cy) Seymour: "Good old Cy. Yeah, I think I pitched against him once in the Eastern League."