THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Carolina's Collins decides he would rather be an armchair
Maybe I'm just getting old, but I remember when your average NFL
player would come to the sideline, spit out three bicuspids,
Scotch-tape his humerus together and get back out there. Now we
have Sta-Puft-like Carolina Panthers quarterback Kerry Collins,
who has all the 'nads of a jelly Danish.
Collins, 25--and making more than $1 million a year--walked into
coach Dom Capers's office last week and asked to be benched
(page 48). Asked! Said he didn't "have his heart in it" anymore.
Said he'd rather be third string. Collins said he was also upset
that on road trips his breakfast plate has not come with an
If I were Capers, I would have said, "Your heart's not in it?
Fine. Oh, one other thing. You know the payroll envelope for
this week? Your check's not in it."
October 18, 1998
Collins, you little Beanie Baby! Your heart's not in it? You
signed a contract at the beginning of this season. That contract
was a promise to your teammates, your coaches, your owners and
your fans to lead. You quit on them, is what you did.
Sometimes I wonder if some men of this generation would have the
guts to fight for their country, to have taken Omaha Beach.
Collins! Cover me! I'm gonna make a run at that rat's nest!
Gee, Smitty, I don't know. I don't really have my heart in it.
If that war had come down to guys like Klipboard Kerry, we would
all be using umlauts now and taking Monday off for Goebbels Day.
Maybe the money is too big these days. Maybe you take a year or
two of those checks the size of Ecuador's GNP and you go all
Pillsbury and you feel like becoming one with the La-Z-Boy. I
know guys in college I would rather have starting than Collins.
Do you realize Shaun King of Tulane started and played last week
with a broken wrist? For free?
There's somebody Collins needs to meet. His name is Mark Rypien.
He's an NFL quarterback, just like Kerry. He led the Washington
Redskins to a Super Bowl title once. In July he called up the
Atlanta Falcons and admitted his heart wasn't in it, either. It
wasn't easy. Rypien would rather eat penny nails than miss a
football game. But he had no choice. His three-year-old son,
Andrew, was dying of brain cancer, and Mark wanted to be with
him. He watched for 13 months as Andrew slowly died, and now his
wife, Annette, has cervical cancer. Mark's still home, doing
everything he can for her and their two daughters.
Yeah, his heart's not in it. But at least it's somewhere.
DeBartolo Cuts a Deal
MORE DIRT TO COME?
There appears to be no legal reason to keep Eddie DeBartolo,
under suspension from the NFL until February, from retaking
control of his beloved San Francisco 49ers next season. The
federal offense to which he pleaded guilty on Oct. 6 as part of
a deal with the government--he was put on two years' probation
and assessed $1 million in fines and forfeitures--is a
relatively minor one: He failed to report a serious crime, which
in legal lingo is known as "misprision of a felony." By agreeing
to sing to the FBI about alleged underhanded dealings of former
Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, DeBartolo would seem to have
joined the side of the angels.
But there is a practical reason that NFL commissioner Paul
Tagliabue should delay a decision about DeBartolo's return: the
possibility that DeBartolo and, by association, the NFL will be
embarrassed should Edwards go to trial for extortion in
Louisiana. Charges against the silky-smooth Edwards appear
inevitable. The feds have been after him for years (Edwards, who
has never been convicted of anything, brags that 22 grand juries
have investigated him), and their case against him this time
includes hours of tape of Edwards's conversations.
In March 1997, DeBartolo gave $400,000 in cash to Edwards as part
of DeBartolo's attempt to obtain a riverboat casino license in
Louisiana (SCORECARD, Dec. 15, 1997 et seq.). According to FBI
investigators--who bugged the former governor's phones and
offices and kept him under surveillance for at least two
years--DeBartolo and Edwards held a meeting at a Baton Rouge bar
in March 1997, during which Edwards showed DeBartolo a piece of
paper on which Edwards had written "$400,000." The feds say
Edwards told DeBartolo that he needed the money before the vote
was taken on DeBartolo's license application. According to the
FBI, Edwards made several other demands for money during
conversations with DeBartolo. The feds also have Edwards on tape
talking to his son, Stephen, about what he was going to say to
get more money out of DeBartolo: "You know, I've enjoyed working
with you, I appreciate your friendship...but we've come to the
point now where if this thing is gonna work, we have to have an
understanding.... I want one percent of gross gaming revenue...."
According to the FBI, DeBartolo first resisted paying the 400
grand but finally gave in. In that interpretation of DeBartolo's
actions, he is merely the victim of a sleazebag who had the
political clout to thwart his hopes of entering the casino
business in Louisiana.
Should DeBartolo be forced to take the stand, however, Edwards's
lawyers will go after the Eddie-as-victim portrayal with a
sledgehammer. DeBartolo will likely be grilled on his successes
in real estate and his failures in the gaming business.
Edwards's people will no doubt portray DeBartolo as a poor
little rich kid who is clueless about the casino industry--it's
a matter of record that DeBartolo has lost millions in various
casino ventures--and needed Edwards's help in Louisiana to
The league should stand clear of DeBartolo until it is certain
that that courtroom horror show won't take place--or until the
show is over.
A new television commercial has ruffled some feathers among
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA has come out
in protest against the Nike spot that shows Minnesota Vikings
defensive tackle John Randle painstakingly sewing a tiny Brett
Favre number 4 Green Bay Packers jersey, chasing a jersey-clad
chicken around a yard and, finally, grilling the bird.
PETA seems to be taking things too seriously. Now, if they showed
Randle actually choking the chicken....
Sports and Title IX
NO PROVIDENCE FOR THREE TEAMS
At 5 p.m. on Oct. 6, while the Providence baseball team
practiced, Friars coach Charlie Hickey was summoned to athletic
director John Marinatto's office and told that Hickey's program
would be terminated after the 1999 season. Death sentences were
also issued to the men's tennis and golf teams. The cutbacks
were part of Providence's effort to comply with Title IX, the
federal antidiscrimination law that requires, among other
things, that athletes representing a college reflect the
female-male ratio of the student body. "Everybody in college
athletics is aware of the possible implications of Title IX, but
I never believed that my team would be sacrificed," Hickey says.
The downsizing is particularly striking because the Friars don't
field a team in football, a sport that creates a daunting
imbalance between the number of male and female athletes. "If a
school without football can lose its baseball team, then I'm
afraid any team is subject to being eliminated," Hickey says.
Providence's actions were prompted by an upcoming NCAA
certification review and were perhaps hastened by a recent
lawsuit across the city at Brown, where female athletes
successfully sued their school for failing to comply with Title
IX. (Brown decided to settle the six-year case, which had
reached the Supreme Court, this summer; the settlement includes,
among other things, a guarantee of more money for women's sports
teams.) Marinatto points out that men's sports at Providence
were particularly susceptible to cutbacks because female
students make up 59% of the student body but only 46% of the
athletes. "With our skewed gender balance and our limited
resources, eliminating programs was the only way we could go,"
Marinatto says. "It doesn't sound fair, does it?"
On Oct. 7 at Providence's Alumni Gym, about 275 students staged
a sit-in objecting to the cuts. The protesters included more
than 100 women, among them Mirandi Balg, a senior co-captain of
the field hockey team, which stands to benefit from the
reallocation of athletic funds. "Women athletes want more
opportunities, but Title IX wasn't designed to take away
opportunities from others," Balg says. "Somebody better do
something soon to fix the law because right now it hurts more
athletes than it helps."
Race and Sports
MLS TAKES THE OFFENSIVE
Major League Soccer demonstrated some heads-up play last week in
response to a potentially divisive racial incident. At a New
England Revolution practice on Oct. 6, Dutch midfielder Edwin
Gorter, who is white, directed a racial slur at Trinidadian
midfielder David Nakhid, who is black. Two days later Gorter
admitted the offense to MLS commissioner Doug Logan, who slapped
him with a $20,000 fine, the league's stiffest ever, and
suspended him for the first two games of the 1999 season.
But MLS didn't stop there. Logan said that he is going to use
the money from Gorter's fine to pay for diversity training
seminars for players, coaches and front-office employees from
all of the league's 12 teams. The daylong sessions, which will
take place during next year's spring training, will be conducted
by the Teamwork Leadership Institute, headed by Richard
Lapchick, director of Northeastern University's Center for the
Study of Sport in Society.
"Because MLS players come from a wide variety of environments,
maybe they aren't sensitized to the results of what they say or
do in this country," says Logan. "We bear the responsibility to
educate people about that."
Golf and the Law
CART 54, WHERE ARE YOU?
The Asian economic crisis has led to a spike in the crime rate
in Thailand. In response Bangkok's recently appointed police
commissioner, Lieut. Gen. Wannarat Kotcharak, announced a new
get-tough policy--directed at his own officers. The city's
high-ranking cops are now forbidden to play golf while on duty.
Further, no police superintendent will be allowed to tee it up at
all until his jurisdiction is "absolutely free of crime."
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE
What could be more timely, and dishy, than a tell-all book about
the lives of NBA players' wives and lovers written by real-life
NBA wives Rita Ewing and Crystal McCrary? After all, McCrary's
husband, Seattle SuperSonics guard Greg Anthony, is
well-traveled, and in January the world found out--on the Howard
Stern radio show, no less--that Ewing's husband of 7 1/2 years,
New York Knicks center Patrick, was allegedly having an affair
with a Knicks' dancer named Heather Errico. (Patrick and Errico
were accused on the air by a caller who claimed to be the
ex-boyfriend of Errico's roommate. A month later Rita filed for
Alas, anyone expecting Ewing's and McCrary's just-released book,
Homecourt Advantage (Avon Books, $23), to be a roman a clef will
be disappointed. The book features overheated sex scenes and a
predictable "surprise" ending but only a few characters who
strongly resemble the folks who work alongside the authors'
husbands: Conniving agent Jake Schneider seems modeled on
Ewing's man David Falk; the hard-driving New York Flyers coach
seems a bit like Pat Riley; and the forward who fathers an
illegitimate child with a groupie could be, well, any number of
NBA players. There's also enough breathtakingly bad writing in
Advantage to rival any dime-store romance novel. It tips off on
page 1: "She opened her mouth and greedily accepted her
husband's probing tongue as he...explored her mouth with a
burning intensity matched by her own mounting passion."
Ewing and McCrary have used far more telling words in
interviews. Ewing has estimated that 95% of NBA players cheat on
their women and that 75% of the women cheat on their men. In
Mirabella magazine she also spoke about attending an NBA-run
seminar for players and their families in which the women were
given key chains with condoms dangling from the rings. "The
message was that it's acceptable for players to mess around,"
says Ewing. "Imagine being handed a condom to protect yourself
from your own husband." Unfortunately, there aren't enough
strong observations like that in the book.
--That all TV analysts could be as graceful--and informative--as
--That cyclist Lance Armstrong, who battled back from testicular
cancer to finish fourth in the worlds, keeps rolling along.
--That Tiger Woods, who decried the competitiveness of the Ryder
Cup compared to the Dunhill Cup, had made a key putt in the
latter so the U.S. could have won the damn thing.
Accuracy percentage at picking NFL game winners of Rasha, an
elephant at the Fort Worth Zoo, who makes her choices for The
Dallas Morning News by touching team logos with her trunk.
NFL players, past and present, who attended Long Beach (Calif.)
Poly--the most of any high school.
Homing pigeons that mysteriously disappeared, 81% of those
released, in two races in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Workers who called in sick to a General Motors plant in
Janesville, Wis., on the night of the Oct. 5 Packers-Vikings
game, forcing the plant to shut down.
Weight, in pounds, of a prize pumpkin grown in Krakow, Wis.,
named Gilbert Brown, in honor of the Pack's 345-pound defensive
Minutes that the Florida State spirit drum was beaten nonstop in
the two days preceding the Seminoles' win over Miami.
Years that London's 17,500-member Marlyebone Cricket Club was
all-male before it voted recently to open its doors to women.
SHOULD RODMAN BECOME A FULL-TIME ACTION HERO?
The walking Photo-op has hinted that that's what he wants to do,
and I support him. Chicago was the only team that could have
gotten honest effort out of Rodman in recent years, and the
Bulls as we know them are probably done. A mediocre 1998
postseason is a hint that hoops aren't Rodman's No. 1 priority.
The sooner he jumps to movies full time, the sooner we'll
discover that his only real talent was rebounding, and Rodman
will wind up on the pop culture scrap heap. --Phil Taylor
Despite his marginalization during the Bulls' run to the 1998
title, a motivated Rodman (a method player, if not a method
actor) remains a rebounding presence. Chicago looks to be in
turnaround, as they say in Hollywood, but any contender should
at least consider finding a part for a player as seasoned
and--when he wants to show it--talented as Rodman. Besides, to
judge by Double Team, Rodman is likely to sell more tickets in
arenas than in theaters. --R.O.
College campuses are dotted with players who, with visions of Bo
and Deion dancing in their heads, split their time between
football and pro baseball. For many their career decisions will
have less to do with a hankering for gridiron contact than an
inability to hit the slider. Compare the football feats of these
double-play specialists with their career numbers in the minor
league systems of various major league teams.
TWO-TIMER FOOTBALL BASEBALL
RICKY WILLIAMS, 131 yds/game, .211, 4 HRs, 40 RBIs,
Texas RB/Phillies OF 67 TDs in 41 games 179 K's in 568 ABs
DOUG JOHNSON, 214 for 391, 3,037 .215, 5 HRs, 22 yds,
Florida QB/Devil Rays 3B 29 TDs in 21 games RBIs, 97 K's in 247 ABs
QUINCY CARTER, 86 for 130, 1,152 .218, 5 HRs, 85 RBIs
Georgia QB/Cubs OF yds, 6 TDs in in 670 ABs
KENNY KELLY, 12 for 19, 259 yds, .259, 5 HRs, 24 RBIs
Miami QB/Devil Rays OF 3 TDs in 4 games in 317 ABs
BEN THERE, DONE THAT
O RARE Ben Johnson! An interspecies exhibition race scheduled
for Oct. 15 is just another stride in a long bumpy run for the
36-year-old Jamaica-born Canadian sprinter.
Sept. 23, 1988
Tests positive for steroids after world-record 100 at Seoul
Olympics. Hides face from photographers as he flees. Banned from
competition for two years.
June 13, 1989
Penitent Johnson tells schoolkids, "Don't take drugs" and
"Without drugs I can beat anybody."
Noticeably slimmer a year after reinstatement, runs a string of
Aug. 1, 1992
Competes in the 100 at Barcelona Olympics, failing to make
March 5, 1993
Banned for life after positive steroid test at meet in Montreal.
Canada's minister of sport asks him to go back to Jamaica.
Declines invitation to run in Seoul on 10th anniversary of
tainted Olympic 100.
Oct. 6, 1998
Canada's Atlantic Lottery Corp. announces the handicapped race
among Johnson, two horses and a stock car. Lottery officials say
that they will have the horses tested along with "the engine of
the car to see if they're putting any special gasoline in there."
The Jordan Watch
Stuffs Rodman in MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch; tells Chicago
Tribune that neither Jerry Krause nor Tim Floyd will keep him
away if he wants to play and that when the lockout ends, he will
"look deep inside." Stay tuned....
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
A Kappa, Ill., strip joint includes an indoor putting green for
Most excuses for skipping a run--too hot, too cold, I'm on
vacation--are invalid at this time of year, so the highways and
byways are crowded with whippetlike Kenyans and
spare-tire-toting couch potatoes doing roadwork. Still, if
you're looking to put off logging the miles, log on. These
sweaty sites have what you need before lacing up your running
Register with this on-line running log to keep track of your
jogging schedule--how far and how often, even how many miles
you've put on those ratty, tread-bare shoes. Use the site's
myriad calculators to measure vital stats such as calories
burned and oxygen used or to predict your finish time for a
distance you have never run before.
Kick! provides a directory of races and a series of training
tips for serious road racers. For the rest of us, it has
pointers on technique, advice on how to stay motivated and, most
important, information on how to treat achy knees, creaky ankles
and other road hazards.
The site for last Saturday's Greater Hartford Marathon gave
runners a videotaped cybertour of the course before the race.
The preview, the first of its kind on the Web, will stay up for
potential 1999-marathon participants. Each of last week's 944
finishers can view a 15-second film of himself or herself at the
The American Running and Fitness Association site lists
sports-medicine specialists around the country, provides guidance
for choosing proper running shoes and offers tips for every step
of the runner's life, from carbo-loading to postrace stretch.
sites we'd like to see
Posting of porn publisher Larry Flynt's offer to buy Marge
Schott's shares of the Cincinnati Reds.
Home site of NBA players taking to the road to promote their
cause in the league's labor dispute.
Edwards's people will no doubt portray DeBartolo as a poor
little rich kid who is clueless.
They Said It
Baseball union lawyer, on champagne celebrations: "I don't see it
as an occasion for drinking. It's an occasion for spraying."