THIS WEEK'S LINEUP
The NFL Injury Report found in many newspapers might soon be
joined by another agate entry: The NCAA Miscreant Bulletin. The
first weeks of the college football season were almost as
significant for who was kept out of action for breaking
rules--their teams', the NCAA's or society's--as for who took
the field. Scanning last Saturday's lineup from the top of the
polls, we see:
--Nebraska (page 28), a fixture on any wrongdoer list, played
without All-America linebacker Terrell Farley (ticketed on
suspicion of drunk driving) and wingback Lance Brown
(unspecified disciplinary reasons).
--Florida State was without four players, notably safety Robert
Hammond (breaking team rules) and cornerback James Colzie (bar
--Miami--what would this category be without a few
Hurricanes?--played minus running back Danyell Ferguson and
receiver Yatil Green (both suspended for two games for taking an
unauthorized limo ride paid for by an agent). Receiver Jammi
German (the limo incident as well as an alleged battery of a
fellow student) has been suspended for the season. Offensive
tackle Ricky Perry has been suspended indefinitely (allegedly
beating up his girlfriend and shoving a gun under a man's chin
during a dispute over money).
--USC tailback Delon Washington served the second game of a
three-game suspension for unspecified NCAA rules violations.
--Northwestern played without cornerback Hudhaifa Ismaeli
(undisclosed violation of team rules) and linebacker Don Holmes
(convicted of misdemeanor theft and suspended for the season).
--Clemson, which has had nine football players arrested since
February, played without running back Anthony Downs and wide
receiver Antwuan Wyatt, who were kicked off the team this summer
following arrests for intent to distribute marijuana, and
receiver Tony Horne, who was charged with assault after
allegedly punching a student.
--Louisville offensive linemen Jeryl Tyson and Ikem Maduaka-Cain
had their scholarships revoked (felony charges of trafficking
and possessing marijuana). The allegations against Tyson were
dropped, and his scholarship has been restored, but it's
unlikely he will rejoin the Cardinals this season. Maduaka-Cain
is still facing charges.
All these players would make up a good team, but they would
still need a coach. Here are three possibilities. Charlie Taaffe
has been suspended by the Citadel because of a drunk driving
arrest, his second in three years. Prairie View A&M's Hensley
Sapenter Jr., who has been around for 12 of the Panthers'
NCAA-record 59 losses in a row, has been suspended while the
school investigates the charge that he knowingly fielded
ineligible players. A final possibility is Cal
State-Northridge's Dave Baldwin, who drew a reprimand for lying
to the administration about why running back Shayne Blakey will
miss the season. Baldwin said Blakey had an appendectomy, but he
was actually shot at a party during an argument over a cover
charge. Said Baldwin, "I'm a disgrace to myself."
PARCELLS DON'T PREACH
After an opening-game 24-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins, New
England Patriots coach Bill Parcells complained, as he does from
time to time, about "prima donna players." An intern in the
Patriots public relations department, however, interpreted
Parcells's irritation to be directed at "pre-Madonna players"
and wrote that on the postgame quote sheet. Our suspicion is
that Parcells likes post-Madonna players even less.
Josia Thugwane's long run, it seems, is not yet finished.
Thugwane, the 5'2", 99-pound maintenance worker from the
Koornfontein coal mines whose inspired stretch drive in the
Atlanta marathon made him South Africa's first black Olympic
gold medalist, returned home last month to find himself the
target of a rumored murder plot. Before leaving for the Games,
Thugwane, 25, earned about $250 a month tending roads at the
mines and lived with his wife and four children in a tin shack
in the impoverished black settlement of Bethal. His victory
brought him a bonus of $33,000 from the government and a new
Mercedes, as well as several sponsorship offers, and upon his
homecoming, friends warned him that local criminals were
planning to rob and kill him. Thugwane, who in March had been
grazed in the jaw by a bullet when he was the victim of a
carjacking, took the warnings seriously. "I don't know who they
are," he told the Johannesburg Star. "But if they say they will
kill someone, they always do."
Thugwane has moved his family into a protected house on the
mines' property and now travels with a government bodyguard.
"The people in the township are saying I no longer want to be
associated with them," he says. "They think I'm rich now. I fear
for my wife and children. I don't care where I live. I just want
to be safe."
Thugwane's plight is tragically representative of the new South
Africa. Apartheid is gone, but poverty and resentment remain,
and a spiraling crime rate is transforming the nation into the
most murderous society in the world. Thugwane's victory has been
hailed around the world as a symbol of hope and renewal for
South Africa, but as the runner points out, "Medals won't matter
to me if I'm dead."
A HANDS-ON GUY
It's nice to see that Pat Croce, once a physical therapist and
now the president of the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, hasn't
forgotten his roots. Before a recent Jimmy Buffett concert in
Camden, N.J., just across the river from Philly, Croce went
backstage to greet the tequila-tippling rocker, at which point
Buffett complained of a sore neck. No problem, said Croce, who
built his Sports Physical Therapists company into a $40 million
business. He gave Buffett a 30-minute going-over, which Buffett
repaid during the concert by eschewing his traditional Hawaiian
shirt for a 76ers jersey.
Before the following night's concert, when Buffett again felt
the need for helping hands, Croce was on vacation at the New
Jersey shore--wasting away in his own Margaritaville, if you
will. But after being contacted by Buffett, he made the 150-mile
round trip to work on the singer. "I don't get much practice
anymore," says Croce, who has never been held back by low
self-esteem, "but I told Jimmy he deserved the best."
THE TIES THAT BIND
When forward Tim Thomas, a blue-chip recruit out of Paterson
(N.J.) Catholic High, signed his national letter of intent, on
May 6, to play at Villanova, many figured it was only a matter
of time before Jim Salmon, Thomas's high school coach, joined
the Wildcats' coaching staff. In his newsletter dated June 27,
recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons predicted that Salmon would be
hired by Villanova. Gibbons also said that Salmon would be
brought on board only after the summer evaluation period had
ended, thus allowing Salmon to roam the summer circuit
unfettered by NCAA rules regarding contact between college
coaches and players.
Though that's exactly what came to pass--Salmon was named a
Villanova assistant on Aug. 23--Wildcats coach Steve Lappas
insists there was no quid pro quo in his recruitment of Thomas
and his hiring of Salmon, who is also Thomas's cousin. Nor does
he see a problem in having waited until the end of the summer to
make the hire. Says Lappas, "Are we supposed to hold it against
someone because he coached a good player?"
No. But the hiring of Thomas certainly raises the specter of
impropriety. Bringing in a coach who is close to a star recruit
is a time-honored tradition; consider these recent examples:
--In 1983 Larry Brown, the Kansas coach at the time, hired Ed
Manning, a former pro player with no coaching experience.
Manning's son, Danny, signed with the Jayhawks soon thereafter.
--Michigan's success in the Fab Five era can largely be traced
to Steve Fisher's 1991 hiring of Detroit Southwestern's Perry
Watson, who coached Jalen Rose in high school and had ties with
Detroit native Chris Webber. Both players signed with the
Lappas is not the only one to employ such tactics this summer.
In early August, Pittsburgh coach Ralph Willard hired Troy
Weaver, whose only coaching experience had been with an AAU
program in Washington, D.C. Weaver had several Division I
prospects in his program, including 6'9" senior Attila Cosby,
whom he helped place at Oak Hill Academy, a school in Mouth of
Wilson, Va., known for its basketball talent, and who suddenly
looks like a lock for Pitt. Meanwhile, Kentucky vaulted back
into the national-title picture on May 22 when Canadian center
Jamaal Magloire signed on Rick Pitino's dotted line. On Friday,
Kentucky announced that Simeon Mars, Magloire's high school
coach, had been added to the basketball staff as an, ahem,
None of this is prohibited by NCAA regulations, and perhaps it
shouldn't be; the last thing the world of college basketball
recruiting needs is more rules. What it does need, however, is a
good deal more restraint on the part of some of its coaches.
Cam Neely joined the Boston Bruins in 1986 and proceeded to
define the position of power forward with an intelligent and
brawny style that galvanized Boston Garden, and led Bruins
general manager Harry Sinden to liken Neely's impact on sports
in New England to Bobby Orr's. When Neely retired last Thursday
at age 31, his right hip riddled with arthritis, he closed a
courageous 369-goal career that should lead to the Hall of Fame.
"People talk about his brute strength," says Bruins center Adam
Oates, who played four seasons with Neely. "But they forget
about his brain. You don't score that many goals without reading
Neely's career was forever altered on May 5, 1991, when he
collided with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, and
Samuelsson drove his knee into Neely's left thigh. The bruise
was so deep it caused Neely's thigh muscles to calcify and led
to knee surgery that limited him to 22 games over the next two
Even in a league in which overcoming pain is routine, Neely's
perseverance was legend among his peers. After two years of
intense rehabilitation, he put together one of the most
inspiring seasons in recent NHL history, scoring 50 goals in 49
games in 1993-94. His comeback was temporarily thwarted in March
'94 when he tore medial collateral ligaments in his right knee.
But after surgery Neely gutted out 93 games in his final two
seasons, relying largely on savvy and instinct to score 53
goals. The arthritic hip, diagnosed last season, forced him out
of action for the last time on Feb. 21.
Soft-spoken and sensitive, Neely had a clubhouse demeanor that
seemed at odds with his hard-crashing ways. "He was quiet, but
he was a presence in every room he was in," says Boston
defenseman Raymond Bourque. "Everyone who played against Cam had
to keep his head up because Cam would crush you and then go in
and score a goal. It's going to be real tough this year without
Cam to go to war with. Real tough."
Approximate dollar value to the NHL Kings and NBA Lakers of deal
with Coca-Cola that Coke squelched after the Lakers signed Pepsi
flack Shaquille O'Neal.
Percent increase in Metrodome crowd from last Friday (13,000) to
Saturday's farewell to Kirby Puckett (51,000).
Dollars misspent by USA Boxing, the sport's amateur governing
body, between 1991 and '96, according to a USOC audit.
Jersey given to linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, upsetting Ohio
State faithful because 45 was last worn (in 1975) by two-time
Heisman winner Archie Griffin.
Pesos, worth about $1.4 million, that Mexico says Julio Cesar
Chavez owes in taxes.
Hours that wooden target of Art Modell was on Cleveland-area
driving range before being stolen.
Different athletes require different forms of protection for
their delicate parts. Here are a few of them:
Groin pad--female martial artists.
Chest guard--female boxers.
Banana cup--male ice hockey goalies.
Kidney protection cup--male boxers.
Rachel Robinson: Jackie's widow discusses their life together
Long before this month's publication of her book, Jackie
Robinson: An Intimate Portrait, Rachel Robinson had wanted to
chronicle her life with her husband, Jackie. "I tried to do a
book in the 1980s, but I couldn't find the voice," Rachel says.
She found it poring over thousands of family photographs,
eloquent images that span the years from her first date with
Jackie, in 1941, to the October day in '72 when she wept at his
grave. "Going through the pictures, I was struck by the richness
of the life we had."
Amazingly to Rachel--a vital, intelligent woman and the
lifeblood of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides
college scholarships to minority students--more than half a
century has passed since she was at UCLA, studying to be a nurse
and being courted by Jackie. "We were young and in love," says
Rachel, "and though we didn't know what we would do, we were
confident. We thought Jack might coach high school. But we knew
that would have been settling; we wanted to go beyond that."
Jackie, of course, went where no one had gone before when in
1947, as a Brooklyn Dodger, he became the first black to play
major league baseball in this century. It was Rachel's support
that helped him endure the racism that might have broken a
lesser man. "We had an overriding feeling that there was a goal
we needed to reach," says Rachel. "That helps you transcend the
obstacles in front of you."
In '56 Jackie ended his baseball career and confronted life
after the game. "One reason we didn't feel so bad about baseball
ending was the civil rights movement," says Rachel. "Jack had a
chance to help a great cause." He did that by speaking out on
racial issues and--with Rachel, then a nurse at NYU, at his
side--involving himself in politics. "People remember him as an
aggressive player coming down the third base line and as a man
of courage and determination," says Rachel. "But I also remember
his enormous capacity to love. Jack's devotion to me was so
unusual. It enabled me to develop into the person I am." --K.K.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
Two seniors on the football team at Mather High in Chicago
dedicated last Friday's 40-6 victory over Young High to former
teammate Yarmo Green, who is serving a 40-year sentence for
Heavyweight boxing champion, explaining why, after reading
Tolstoy novels during his three-year prison term, he now reads
comic books: "I'm not as deep and complicated as people think."