CAN HE HANDLE THE TRUTH?
In 1992, when Riddick Bowe won the heavyweight title for the
first time, outpointing Evander Holyfield--who had knocked out
Buster Douglas after Douglas had upset Mike Tyson--Bowe
proclaimed himself "the man who beat the man who beat the man
who beat the man." That's a few good men right there, which of
course is just what the U.S. Marine Corps is looking for. Well,
last week the Corps got Bowe, who, while not the man he once was
in the ring, seems determined to become a good Marine.
At a press conference in New York City the 29-year-old Bowe
announced that he was fulfilling a lifelong dream of joining
"the best outfit out there" by signing on for a three-year hitch
in the Marine active reserves. That put him in the company of
leatherneck heavyweight champs Gene Tunney, Ken Norton and Leon
Spinks. On Feb. 10 Bowe will report to Parris Island, S.C., for
a three-month boot camp that likely will be far tougher than any
of Bowe's prefight camps--Big Daddy, after all, has not always
been semper fi in his training. If he goes the distance there,
he'll be assigned to a reserve unit near his home in Maryland
and will be free (and presumably fit) to box between monthly
meetings. However, Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, said that were
it up to him, Bowe, a two-time champion who has earned more than
$100 million in the ring but who has looked terrible in his most
recent bouts, would retire. Certainly Bowe has earned his
stripes in boxing. It may well be time to march on.
The New York Jets can't win. Not on the field, where they've
gone 4-28 over the past two seasons, and not off it, either, as
their lame effort to hire coach Bill Parcells, who quit last
Friday as the coach of the New England Patriots, underscores.
While the Patriots took control of their own future (on Monday
they locked up well-regarded Pete Carroll as coach for the next
five years) and the immediate football future of Parcells (he
can't take any other NFL job in the next year without Pats owner
Bob Kraft's O.K.), the Jets seemed to be left in a lose-lose
situation, with little leverage in their negotiations to land
the right to sign Parcells.
New York has a few options, all of them unappealing: 1) hire
Parcells and give New England the No. 1 draft pick (Orlando
Pace? Peyton Manning?) that last year's 1-15 Jets suffered so
much to get; 2) hire an interim coach to guide New York until
Parcells's Patriots contract runs out on Jan. 31, 1998,
creating a potentially chaotic relationship between the players
and a lame-duck coach; or 3) abandon the Parcells quest and hire
someone else for the long term, a scenario that would disappoint
and anger the New York faithful.
Former Cleveland Browns coach and current Patriots' assistant
Bill Belichick, a Parcells ally from their days together
coaching the New York Giants, talked with the Jets on Monday and
has been named as the possible coach in options 2 and 3. But
he's no Parcells. And it will take someone of that ability to
turn the Jets around.
The Jets' biggest error was in apparently believing that
Parcells would be delivered to them after the season by his
longtime agent, Robert Fraley. (There's no evidence that Fraley
or Parcells had direct contact with the Jets until after the
Super Bowl.) The Atlanta Falcons trusted Fraley when he told
them he could deliver Parcells in 1987, but then-commissioner
Pete Rozelle blocked the move because Parcells was still under
contract to the Giants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trusted Fraley
when he told them he could deliver Parcells for the '92 season,
but Parcells, then a TV analyst, waffled and lost his chance at
the job. And the Jets seemingly trusted Fraley, only to have
commissioner Paul Tagliabue rule that Parcells's contract, which
Kraft modified a year ago at the coach's behest so that Parcells
would be free to leave after four years instead of five, did not
permit Parcells to coach elsewhere without Kraft's permission.
Whether Fraley and Parcells simply misconstrued the contract or
thought they could skip out on New England regardless of the
contract provisions, the Jets' naivete in the Parcells mess
illustrates why the team just keeps on losing.
SITTING DOWN TO STAND UP
In the second quarter of a Jan. 28 game at rival Brewster High
in Putnam County, N.Y., Fox Lane High's Lesean Coackley was
ejected after a shoving match with a Brewster player. Later,
Lesean, who is black, told his coach, George Masters, that he
had been reacting to racial taunts from the Brewster side.
Brewster coach John Martino and his players insist no racial
comments were made.
New York rules require ejected players to sit out the following
game. And that gave Masters, who is also an English teacher, an
idea. He presented his team with an opportunity to align itself
with Lesean and refuse to play its game against Somers's John F.
Kennedy High. "Coach reminded us that we're going to play 200
more basketball games in our lives," said forward Geoff Gursel,
a white teammate who also claims to have heard Brewster players
using racial epithets, "but how often do we get to stand up to
Fox Lane's players, nine of whom are white and three of whom are
black, chose to forfeit and let their record fall to 6-10. No
one other than the Brewster game's participants will ever know
what was or was not said on the court. But the Fox Lane players
believed they were taking a stand, and they sent a message that
A SPORTING START
While acts of horrid sportsmanship in the pros command the
headlines--see Roberto Alomar, see Dennis Rodman--hardly a week
goes by without a less-noted report of misbehavior by a coach or
player at a junior high basketball game or a Pop Warner football
game. On Jan. 25 Gerry Hart, a former NHL player coaching a Long
Island youth hockey team, was arrested and charged with
misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a referee and a
14-year-old opposing player (Hart denies the charges). Such
incidents emphasize the importance of last Thursday's gathering
of leaders from various athletic governing bodies to discuss
The group--including honchos from the U.S. Olympic Committee,
the four major pro sports, the NCAA and the National Federation
of State High School Associations--met in New York City to
announce the formation of the Citizenship Through Sports
Alliance, an organization intended to promote sports' positive
values. "We want to emphasize teamwork, interdependence and
leadership," said National League president Leonard Coleman.
"The values sports can give to young people play a critical role
in their development."
No specifics have been laid out, but the members are discussing
the creation of a full-time Alliance staff that would aid
programs to educate athletes, coaches and officials about
sportsmanship. This effort is long overdue. Too often people who
should be role models for young athletes don't understand that
teaching sportsmanship is as important--more important--as
teaching the jump stop or the double-play pivot. The sports
leaders who assembled in New York were right to recognize their
responsibility. Their next step is to act.
Though American voters continue to elect former athletes to
public office (U.S. Representatives Jim Bunning of Kentucky and
Jim Ryun of Kansas, to name two from the most recent elections),
there's cynicism in some quarters about the jocks'
qualifications, a feeling that is not exclusive to the U.S. In
Pakistan, Abida Hussain, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League,
recently had some sharp words about the credentials of that
country's former cricket superstar Imran Khan, who ran for prime
minister on the Movement for Justice slate in Monday's election.
"Not for nothing is he known here as Im the Dim," said Hussain.
"It's a case of overdeveloped pectorals and underdeveloped brain
You hardly have been able to turn on the TV since Super Bowl
Sunday without catching some Green Bay Packer basking in
championship glory. Coach Mike Holmgren, running back Edgar
Bennett and defensive end Sean Jones all have joked with Jay
Leno. Quarterback Brett Favre, who because of Pro Bowl duties
turned down offers to appear on shows ranging from Jeopardy! to
The Jeff Foxworthy Show, nevertheless found time to chat up Tom
Snyder and was scheduled to see David Letterman this week. And
XXXI MVP Desmond Howard has been a one-man cathode-ray cyclone,
what with visits to Dave, Charlie Rose, Regis & Kathie Lee and
Conan O'Brien. Howard also sat courtside with Kevin Bacon at a
New York Knicks game, shot a video for MTV, served as grand
marshal for a parade at Disney World and filmed a segment on VH1
that will air this week. Jeez, no wonder the New England
Patriots couldn't catch him.
In light of the instant celebrity that awaits Super Bowl heroes
these days, we wondered how the Packers legends from Super Bowl
I were feted after they beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 at
Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1967.
"Hmm, good question," says guard Jerry Kramer, whose
best-selling book Instant Replay followed that first Super Bowl
season. "There were some people to greet us at the airport, but
outside of that I don't remember anything." Adds linebacker Ray
Nitschke, "I remember a big thing at the airport. Outside of
that, nothing." Five years earlier he had made a rare
out-of-uniform national TV appearance when, after the Pack had
beaten the New York Giants 16-7 in the NFL Championship Game,
the bald, bespectacled Nitschke went on What's My Line? in an
attempt to stump the panel. "Bennett Cerf guessed me," says
Nitschke, "but then, he'd been at the game." After Super Bowl I,
no game-show invitations arrived for Big Ray.
The big postvictory event for a half dozen or so of the old
Packers was a three-day gambling foray to Las Vegas, followed by
a return to Los Angeles for Paul Hornung's wedding. Guard Fuzzy
Thurston remembers being picked up at the Vegas airport by Bill
Cosby, a close friend of defensive back Herb Adderley, who also
made the excursion. "We got some slaps on the back and stuff
like that in Vegas," says Thurston, "but no TV shows or anything."
Even when the chance for national exposure did come for one
Packer, he wasn't quick to jump on it. "When I got back to the
hotel after the game, somebody told me The Ed Sullivan Show had
called me," recalls receiver Max McGee, "but I never bothered to
call back. Hey, there was celebrating to do."
Years after the Syracuse Nationals won their only NBA title that
a commemorative banner went up in their home arena, the Onondaga
County War Memorial.
Dallas Cowboys games Deion Sanders could miss next season if his
new employers, the Cincinnati Reds, reach the World Series.
Hours after tip-off in Canton, Ohio, that Malone finished a
75-68 win at Walsh in a Jan. 25 college game postponed just
after halftime because of a wet court.
Underprivileged kids who receive passes to each Ottawa Senators
home game and sit in a luxury box bought by 19-year-old
defenseman Wade Redden.
Margin (.748 to .732) by which players in the women's American
Basketball League were leading their NBA counterparts in free
throw percentage at week's end.
Back to B(A's)ics
Jose Canseco--who hit 231 home runs for the Oakland Athletics
between 1985 and '92, was traded to the Texas Rangers and traded
again to the Boston Red Sox in '94--was sent back to the A's
last week. It was news but nothing new for a franchise that has
done some traveling itself, from Philadelphia (1901 to '54) to
Kansas City (1955 to '67) to Oakland. As this chart shows, the
A's have a history of welcoming back celebrated wayward sons.
Second baseman from 1906 to '14; hit .337 and led American
League in runs three times.
Outfielder from 1924 to '32; won batting titles in '30 and '31.
Outfielder from 1967 to '75; hit 254 homers and won the '73 MVP
Outfielder from 1979 to '84; set single-season stolen-base
record of 130 in '82.
[EDDIE COLLINS] Sold to Chicago White Sox in 1915 and played for
them through '26; led league in steals three times and managed
Sox from '24 to '26.
[AL SIMMONS] Sold to White Sox in 1933; after three seasons
there played with Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, Boston
Braves and Cincinnati Reds from '36 to '39.
[REGGIE JACKSON] Traded to Baltimore Orioles in 1976; a year
later went as a free agent to New York Yankees for five years
before going to California Angels for another five.
[RICKEY HENDERSON] Traded to Yankees in 1985; played in
pinstripes until June '89 and won three stolen-base titles in
[EDDIE COLLINS] Returned in 1927 and batted .326 over his final
four seasons, the last three as a pinch hitter.
[AL SIMMONS] Returned in 1940 for 46 games before retiring in
'42; came back with Red Sox in '43; finished with A's in '44.
[REGGIE JACKSON] Returned as a free agent in 1987 for his 21st
and final season; hit .220 with 15 homers in 115 games.
[RICKEY HENDERSON] Returned in a 1989 trade and won '90 MVP
award; with the San Diego Padres--for now.
Feb. 6 marks 102 years since the birth of George Herman Ruth,
who spent his bambino years in Baltimore before becoming the
greatest ballplayer of all time.
--From 1920 to '27, Ruth hit 367 home runs for the New York
Yankees, more than five American League teams hit in that span.
--Ruth ranks first or second in an unmatched six major offensive
categories--career homers, RBIs, runs, home run and slugging
percentage and walks.
--As a pitcher Ruth was 94-46; his 0.87 World Series ERA is the
second-best ever (30-inning minimum).
--Ruth earned $80,000 in 1930, $5,000 more than then-president
Herbert Hoover and equal to $750,000 today--14% of what Yanks
rightfielder Paul O'Neill made in '96.
--Ruth once consumed a pint of whiskey, a pint of ginger ale, a
porterhouse steak, four fried eggs, a plate of fried potatoes
and a pot of coffee--for breakfast.
Assaults Give New Meaning to Norwegian Wood
Last week Tonya Harding, who in 1994 was permanently banned from
skating for the U.S. in international competition because of her
role in the clubbing of rival Nancy Kerrigan, asked Norwegian
sports officials if she could skate for their country in the
1998 Nagano Olympics. They turned her down, pointing out that
she would first have to obtain Norwegian residency, a process
that takes seven years. But considering what's been going on in
Norway lately, the officials may have been leery about anyone
linked to the swinging of a club.
More than 30 baseball teams have been established over the past
six years in the suddenly baseball-crazy Norway. But with new
interest have come new problems. According to Norwegian police,
the widespread availability of bats has led to a dramatic
increase in another great American pastime--assault and battery.
Bat-wielding assailants have become so numerous that
Aftenposten, Norway's most widely read morning newspaper,
occasionally prints what might be termed a box score of bat
attacks. A sampling of the alleged 1996 incidents:
-Jan. 25: Two robbers threaten kiosk owner with baseball bat and
get away in her car. They abandon the car but get away with
1,100 kroner (about $170) and several cartons of cigarettes.
-Mar. 29: Lumberyard manager severely injured by robber armed
with a baseball bat. Robber and accomplice run off with 73,000
-Oct. 28: Thief strikes convenience store clerk on the head with
a bat and flees with 20 packs of cigarettes.
-Oct. 31: Grocery store robbed for second time in a week by
unmasked man carrying a baseball bat. Take: 10,000 kroner
In the face of public alarm over the crimes, a beleaguered Tore
Rismyhr, founder and president of the Norwegian baseball
federation, has fallen back on a traditional American defense by
telling the press, "Bats don't rob stores, people rob stores!"
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
Stogie-chomping linksmen have formed the Cigar Smoking Golfers
Association and adopted the slogan, "Cigars and golf--they're
not just a habit, they're a lifestyle."
THEY SAID IT
Men's basketball coach at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova
Scotia, after his team rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit
against Saint Mary's of nearby Halifax, only to lose 86-81 in
overtime: "Moral victories are for losers."