Washington Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley was asked last month about the NFL's drug program and the extent to which the league had helped him get treatment for cocaine and/or alcohol abuse. At the time he was a two-time offender under the NFL's drug policy, and had twice put himself through rehabilitation sessions at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota.
"Everything I've ever done is [on] my own," said Manley. "[NFL officials] knew nothing about me as far as me going to Hazelden. After the fact—they knew about it then." Manley added that the league needed "some type of relapse-prevention program" to help drug and alcohol abusers address the underlying causes of their dependencies. "That's what helps you," said Manley. "You help people by teaching them and educating them on [how to handle] certain mood swings.... It's dealing with you [and] your problem—not necessarily the chemical, the alcohol, [but] the person."
Manley's words were sensitive and sensible—but now they echo with sadness. Last week a Nov. 3 drug test of Manley, reportedly for cocaine, came back positive. As a three-time offender, Manley was automatically handed a "lifetime" suspension from the NFL, meaning he can apply for reinstatement in a year. Manley may be reinstated, but the Redskins said quietly last week that he would never play for them again.
Ultimately, only Manley is responsible for his relapse. But the NFL might consider keeping players who test positive for drugs and appear to be addicts out for longer than 30 days, as it does now. The 30-day rehab programs players attend are only the first step toward recovery. They last 30 days because that's all the insurance companies pay for.
Regrettably, even if a team goes out of its way to help a player with a substance problem, there's no guarantee he'll stay clean. Two days before Manley's test result was reported, Dallas Mavericks forward Roy Tarpley, a two-time cocaine offender under the NBA drug program, was arrested for drunken driving and resisting arrest. The next day he was suspended indefinitely by the Mavs. Tarpley, who was leading the NBA in rebounding this season, reportedly comes from a family with a history of alcoholism, and team officials have sought to keep him on the straight and narrow. Owner Donald Carter, who is not an alcoholic, even attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with Tarpley. Said Carter after Tarpley's arrest, "If I ever wanted to haul off and beat my head against the wall, this would be it."
BAGGY AND BAGGED
John Styron of Baltimore called the police when he discovered that more than two dozen of his prized homing pigeons were missing from their rooftop coops, which had been broken into. Officer Ronald Pettie came over and drove Styron through the neighborhood to look for birds and suspects.
On Pennsylvania Avenue, Pettie noticed 25-year-old Thomas Waddell waddling down the sidewalk in oddly bulging pants. Pettie stopped the car. As he approached Waddell, he saw him stuffing a bird down his trousers. Pettie arrested Waddell and asked him to remove the bird from his pants—whereupon Waddell pulled one pigeon out, then another and another and another. By the time he was through, Waddell had plucked 21 live pigeons and five dead ones from his pants.
Styron identified the birds as his, and Waddell was charged with grand theft, malicious destruction of property and—of course—cruelty to animals.
A FALLEN ROBIN HOOD
Luther Darville, the former acting coordinator of the University of Minnesota's Office of Minority and Special Student Affairs (OMSSA), was found guilty last week by a Hennepin (Minn.) County Court jury of swindling $186,459 in OMSSA funds from 1983 to '88. Some of that money was paid to Gopher athletes. SI's Robert Sullivan reports:
By one measure, Minnesota's athletic department was vindicated by the jury's verdict. The defendant and former Gopher athletes agreed in testimony that Darville had routinely dispersed OMSSA cash to Minnesota football and basketball players. But Darville contended he acted at the behest of university higher-ups—and with the acquiescence of athletic department officials. In finding him guilty, the jury accepted the prosecution's view that he had acted alone and had pocketed some of the missing OMSSA money.
To judge by the testimony, however, at least some school officials should have known what was going on. Former Gopher running back Tony Hunter, for example, said that in 1984 Darville gave him $15,000 for rent, car payments and groceries, and paid to fly Hunter's mother from Memphis to Minneapolis. Although Hunter and other Gopher athletes spoke warmly of Darville, their testimony was used against him. Nine athletes admitted having signed, at Darville's request, a statement for the university auditor saying Darville had given them money. They said that the sums on the statement had been inflated, apparently to account for the full $186,459 that is missing.
Darville tried to explain this away by harking back to the tenure of former football coach Joe Salem. Under Salem, the team was riven by racial tension, and Darville (who, like Hunter and the other players who testified, is black) said that in 1983, Salem's last year at Minnesota, Darville's superiors had told him to "keep the athletes happy." Seeing himself as a sort of Robin Hood, he began giving needy athletes money. Darville estimated that he gave money to roughly 20 football players per year from 1983 through '87 and from six to eight basketball players per year from '86 through '88. Darville said several of the players he paid are still on the Gopher basketball team, but he refused to name them. He also said that current basketball coach Clem Haskins knew of payments, and that Salem's successor, Lou Holtz, now coach at Notre Dame, may have known. Both coaches denied any such knowledge.
Darville faces sentencing on Dec. 6. Testimony from his trial could be used in the ongoing NCAA investigation of Minnesota. Because the Gopher basketball program was found guilty of assorted rules infractions just 20 months ago and given two years' probation, Minnesota finds itself in a precarious spot: The discovery of new violations could qualify the school for the so-called death penalty, a complete suspension of its basketball or football program, or both.
Hang on now. We're calling a simulated television timeout. Those of you in arctic climes please put down the magazine and go stand outside for two or three minutes to re-create the brisk feeling of being at, say, last Saturday's Notre Dame-Penn State game in State College, Pa. Brrrrr! Feels great, eh? The rest of you can maybe stick your hands in the freezer for a partial effect. Boy, those two or three minutes are really dragging, aren't they! And think: In a game being telecast by a major network, you can enjoy 14 to 18 of these TV timeouts! For the folks in the stadium, that's at least a half hour of first-rate, game-slowing boredom—are your hands blue yet?—come rain, sleet, snow or gloom of night.
O.K., almost done...with...the...commercial.... Now...back...to...the...action!
LATE SCORE FROM DALLAS
Everybody in Texas is joking about the 1-10 Cowboys. A recent newspaper ad in The Floyd County Hesperian read: WILL THE LADY WHO LEFT HER 11 KIDS AT TEXAS STADIUM PLEASE PICK THEM UP—THEY'RE BEATING THE COWBOYS 14-0.
North Carolina reaped a bounty of blue-chip basketball prospects during the eight-day early signing period that ended last week. With 6'6" guard Brian Reese of New York City, 6'1" forward Pat Sullivan of Bogota, N.J., and others in the fold, Tar Heel coach Dean Smith can relax and concentrate on coaching this winter.
The early signing period is great for coaches—at least most—but it has been a mixed blessing for players. College conferences instituted the period in 1982 to allow recruits to choose a school early and then enjoy a pressure-free senior year. But the pressure has been transferred to juniors and even sophomores. And there are hazards to signing early: The coach that signs you could leave or be fired before the spring signing period even arrives. It's exceedingly difficult to get out of a letter of intent without losing at least a year of eligibility.
The early signing period also brings recruiting controversies. The most notable one this fall involved perhaps the best prospect in Kentucky, 6'7" forward Dwayne Morton of Louisville Central High. Morton seemed a lock for Louisville until, at the 11th hour, new Kentucky coach Rick Pitino made a persuasive pitch, and Morton began wavering.
On Nov. 6, two days before the early signing period began. Morton's mother, Charlotte, and his coach, Ralph Johnson, both of whom favored Louisville, showed up to watch the Cardinals practice. They arrived too late, but ended up going out to dinner that evening with Louisville coach Denny Crum. Crum later pleaded ignorance of the NCAA rule barring a coach from personal contact with a prospect or his parents during the 48 hours before the start of the signing period.
Meanwhile, Pitino, who can give out only three new scholarships for next season because of NCAA sanctions against Kentucky, had put another recruit, 6'6" guard Steve Davis of Corinth, Miss., on hold until he found out what Morton was going to do. His first two scholarships had gone to Jamal Mashburn, a 6'8" blue-chip forward from New York City, and 6'4" point guard Carlos Toomer, a teammate of Davis's at Corinth.
Morton kept Pitino hanging. Neither he nor his coach returned Pitino's repeated phone calls for days. Finally, on Nov. 8, Morton announced that he was attending Louisville. The next day Davis signed with Ole Miss.
Pitino was steamed at Morton and his high school. He accused them of playing Kentucky off against Louisville merely to build up media interest in the player's press conference—a practice that's becoming all too common. "This is not what I had in mind about college athletics when I left the NBA," said Pitino, who quit the Knicks in May to take the Wildcat job.
Louisville will look into the Morton matter and report to the NCAA. At worst, the Cardinals will have to release Morton if the NCAA finds that Crum's meeting with Morton's mother gave Louisville an undue advantage.
A REUNION IN FRIENDSHIP
The last time Y.A. Tittle and John Baker got together, Tittle was the quarterback for the New York Giants and Baker was a 270-pound defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Tittle rolled left to throw a screen pass against the Steelers on Sept. 20, 1964, Baker blindsided him from the right. The pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown—the Steelers won 27-24—and Tittle ended up on the turf at Pitt Stadium with a woozy and bloodied head and torn rib cartilage. The rib injury, which was slow to heal, was one of the reasons Tittle decided to retire at the end of the season.
Next week Tittle, 63, and Baker, 54. will finally meet again—as members of the same team. Baker is running for his fourth term as sheriff of Wake County, N.C., and Tittle, now an insurance executive in San Francisco, has agreed to appear at a Dec. 4 dinner in Raleigh to help kick off Baker's campaign. The endorsement came about by accident. While visiting North Carolina recently. Tittle spoke with Raleigh News and Observer sports columnist Bruce Phillips, who filled him in on Baker's political career. Tittle, who has never harbored any ill will toward Baker for his crunching hit—"It was a good, clean lick," Tittle says—said he would gladly help Baker's campaign. When Baker read that in the paper, he quickly called Tittle and accepted the offer.
Tittle and Baker recall their last encounter vividly. "In the 17 years I played, I got hit many times and got hurt many times," says Hall of Famer Tittle. "That blow was one of the few times that I got hit and wasn't able to defend myself."
"I just remember that it was a clear shot," says Baker. "A screen pass was developing, and the tackle just ignored me." A framed copy of the famous photograph of the downed Tittle (right) hangs in Baker's house.
In cultivating their new friendship. Tittle and Baker seem to have put aside their football pasts and even their political differences. Tittle is a Republican, while Baker is a Democrat. "From what I've heard," says Tittle of his candidate, "he's done a pretty good job."
THEY SAID IT
•Charles Barkley, 250-pound Philadelphia 76er forward, on the advantages of playing alongside newly acquired 255-pound Rick Mahorn: "It means people will be able to see I don't have the biggest butt in the league."