Scorecard Steve Young's Brain--NASCAR Nail-biter--Sports Flakes-- Women's Football--Streetfighter

October 10, 1999

The SEC sacks Fran Tarkenton for his alleged financial faking

Since retiring from the NFL in 1978, Hall of Famer Fran
Tarkenton has portrayed himself as an "entrepreneurial dynamo,"
to borrow a phrase from the jacket of his 1997 book, What Losing
Taught Me About Winning. As the title suggests, he has built a
thriving career by peddling the notion that his "finely tuned
business acumen" (that jacket again) is something you, too, can
acquire if you heed his pearls of wisdom.

Last week Tarkenton's business reputation suffered a big blow.
He agreed to pay $154,187 in fines after the Securities and
Exchange Commission accused him of helping direct a
multimillion-dollar fraud. Tarkenton did not acknowledge
wrongdoing, but the SEC alleges that his software firm,
KnowledgeWare, claimed $8 million in phony revenues in 1993 and
'94. Toward the end of each quarter, when it became apparent
that the company wouldn't reach its revenue goals, the SEC says,
KnowledgeWare sent products to resellers and other customers,
then booked those transactions as income even though the
customers were told they wouldn't have to pay unless they made a
sale. That's accounting fraud, designed to hide a struggling
company's true condition from investors.

Even before this slap on the wrist from the feds, the three-time
Super Bowl loser's reputation as a businessman was wildly
inflated. KnowledgeWare, which Tarkenton founded in the early
'80s and took public in '89, had degenerated shockingly by the
early '90s. "As a software executive, Fran was in way over his
head," says Mitchell Kertzman, the former CEO of Powersoft, a
competitor. Industry insiders say KnowledgeWare put out a series
of products that simply didn't work well, something Tarkenton
never acknowledged. When Tarkenton had a chance to unload the
company in '92 for $360 million, or $23 a share, he spurned the
offer and held out for more than $40 a share. When he was
finally forced to sell two years later, he got only $4.77 a
share. But Tarkenton took care of himself, negotiating a
$300,000 annual consulting fee with the new owner, Sterling
Software of Dallas. He also received $6.4 million in Sterling
stock options. (He no longer has any relationship with Sterling.)

Last week Tarkenton's lawyer said his client was "pleased to
have this matter resolved" and had "long since moved
other business ventures." Given Tarkenton's history with
KnowledgeWare, that's a scary thought. --Joseph Nocera

Hazardous To Heads

The left side of 49ers quarterback Steve Young's skull sent his
brain careening off the opposite side of his cranium. That's
what happens during a concussion, and Young suffered his fourth
in three years when he was leveled on a blitz by the Cardinals'
Aeneas Williams during the Niners' 24-10 win on Sept. 27.

"I remember a flash," Young said, "and then mostly resting for a
second, because I wanted to collect myself. But once I stood up,
I felt I knew exactly what was going on, and that's why my
initial reaction was to go back into the game." Had he done so,
Young would have risked permanent brain damage and set a lousy
example for athletes, coaches and trainers, many of whom take
concussions far too lightly.

Concussions can end pro careers, but for every Jerry Quarry, Al
Toon or Pat LaFontaine, there are thousands of younger athletes
whose brains are at least temporarily damaged in contact sports.
Thirty percent of the million cases of traumatic brain injury
reported annually in the U.S. are sports related, and more than
62,000 members of high school teams suffer such injuries in a
typical year.

"The problem has been underappreciated and misrepresented," says
neuropsychologist Michael Collins, lead author of a recent
report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After
studying 393 concussion victims on four Division I-A football
teams, he and his colleagues became the first to conclude that
athletes who sustain multiple concussions risk permanent
impairment. "It's like a Pentium processor becoming a 386," says
Collins. "Athletes with concussions cannot process information
as fast as other athletes do."

Collins tested his subjects at one-, three-, five- and seven-day
intervals after they had their bells rung. "You're basically
watching them regain brain function," says the doctor, whose
subjects typically needed at least five days to recuperate.
"It's like walking out of a fog. And keep in mind that most of
these were mild concussions. These guys weren't knocked
senseless like Steve Young."

There's no established way to determine when it's safe for a
concussion victim to play again. "We think mismanagement of past
concussions led to the cognitive deficits in the athletes we
studied," Collins says. "The way concussions are often diagnosed
in rural areas is archaic: 'How many fingers am I holding up?'
or 'What time is it?'" He suggests giving athletes preseason
neuropsychological tests to use as guides in measuring
recovery--when a player's test scores reach preseason levels,
he's probably ready to play. "Loss of consciousness is only the
most obvious sign of a concussion, and even MRIs and CT scans
can miss subtle effects. That's why preinjury information to
compare with postinjury function could help so much."

Until such help arrives, players from high school ball to the
NFL will be tempted to emulate tough guys like Young. "The MRI
didn't show any of the so-called white spots, which are thought
to indicate progressive brain trauma," Young's agent, Leigh
Steinberg, said the day after the 49ers-Cardinals game. "Steve's
not in denial in terms of this concussion issue. He will follow
the medical advice.... But he happens to love the game, and he
wants to play."

Gordon's Gamble

So much for the notion that Jeff Gordon couldn't win without his
human security blanket. After losing longtime crew chief Ray
Evernham, who resigned last week, Gordon won Sunday's NAPA 500
at Martinsville, Va., holding off Dale Earnhardt with help from
a gutsy call in the pits by new crew chief Brian Whitesell.

Evernham, until Sunday the only Winston Cup crew chief Gordon
had ever had, coached him to 47 wins and three Winston Cup
championships. He was widely considered the man who made Gordon.
After Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports last week--apparently
to lead a new NASCAR superteam to be fielded by DaimlerChrysler
in 2001--even insiders thought Gordon's career might sputter.

Gordon and Whitesell, who had been Evernham's top assistant,
were badgered all weekend: Could they manage without their
mentor? On Sunday they answered resoundingly.

Whitesell, whose Virginia Tech engineering degree might make him
NASCAR's best-educated crew chief, ordered his crew to set up
Gordon's car so that it worked better on old tires than on new
ones. Then, when leader Earnhardt pitted for new rubber under a
caution flag raised on lap 475, Whitesell and Gordon agreed via
two-way radio that Gordon would stay on the track, inherit the
lead and try to hold off what they knew would be a ferocious
charge by Earnhardt when the green flag came out for the final

"I've never wanted to win so bad in my life!" Gordon said
between a bout of ecstatic horseplay with Whitesell and breaking
into tears in victory lane. "I saw 3 [Earnhardt's car] on my
bumper, and I knew it was going to be close because my tires
were pretty old. But it was a great call by Brian in the pits."

Leave it to Earnhardt, the grizzled NASCAR bad boy who has
picked on Gordon for years, to put it best--and pay the winner
an enormous compliment. "Just proves," said Earnhardt, "that
Gordon wins no matter who's crew chiefin'." --Ed Hinton

Impulse Buy

If a classy-looking antique hit the market at a bargain price,
you might grab it even if you weren't sure it was undamaged or
would fit in with the rest of your decor. That's why the Trail
Blazers dealt six players for Scottie Pippen last week. No
matter how delighted Portland general manager Bob Whitsitt was
after acquiring Pippen, the truth is that the Blazers can't be
sure which man they're getting--the versatile forward who has
been one of the NBA's best all-around players for more than a
decade, or the malcontent who blasted Charles Barkley on his way
out of Houston and has never seemed happy without Michael Jordan
by his side.

If the Blazers aren't sure what Pippen is, they should at least
be clear on what he isn't. At 34, with a history of back
ailments, he's not quite the swift, agile slasher he was when he
helped Jordan build the Bulls' dynasty. Pippen may not know it,
but he's also not the type of leader who can impart six
championships' worth of locker room wisdom. He's more likely to
grumble about his teammates than to inspire them, as the Rockets
found out.

The Blazers, a deep and talented group that includes young stars
Brian Grant, Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace, might need
only a scaled-down version of Pippen's former self to become
championship material, and they paid a small enough price. In
trading center Kelvin Cato, forwards Carlos Rogers and Walt
Williams, and guards Stacey Augmon, Ed Gray and Brian Shaw,
Portland got Pippen without giving up a starter. Still, a year
from now the Blazers will probably reach the same conclusion the
Rockets did--that Pippen is one of those antiques that look
better from a distance than up close. If that happens, Portland
can always put him on the market again. Despite a price tag of
$53 million over the next four years, Pippen will still prove
irresistible to some NBA shopper. --Phil Taylor

Chicks Dig the Oblong Ball

You've seen football players with earrings and necklaces, but
how about lipstick, mascara and bras? That's the look in the
Women's Professional Football League (WPFL), which debuts in St.
Paul on Oct. 9. After the opener the league's two teams, the
Minnesota Vixens and the Lake Michigan Minx, will play in
Chicago, Green Bay, New York and Minneapolis before closing the
season with a purported All-Star game at the Orange Bowl on Jan.

Other attempts to market women's football failed, but WPFL
president Carter Turner says his league is different. "This
ain't powder puff," says Turner, who hopes to field six teams
next year. "This is real smash-mouth football."

"It's cutting edge," says Vixens quarterback Shannon Davis, an
engineer on leave from NASA who'll join 89
others--receptionists, cops, students--for three months of
barnstorming. "Who wouldn't want to be pioneering for women's
athletics? We're part of history."

Turner's plan is to recruit top athletes and turn them into
football players. That task has fallen to WPFL director of
operations John (J.T.) Turner--no relation to the league
president--who played nine NFL seasons as a defensive back for
the Vikings and the Chargers. "The toughest thing is to teach
the lingo," says J.T., who spends his weekdays as a school
official and defensive backs coach at Park Center (Minn.) High.
"I'll talk about trap blocks or pulls, and the players will look
at me like, Huh? It's like teaching a young kid the first time
he plays, but they're catching on."

One who already knew smash-mouth sports is 31-year-old Minx
receiver Wendy Brown. She made SI's FACES IN THE CROWD in 1984
for setting the U.S. high school record in the triple jump and
California state marks in the long jump and high jump, and
finished 18th in the heptathlon at the '88 Olympics. The 5'11",
180-pound Brown, who looks like she's 98% muscle, has since
turned to amateur boxing. Her speed, hands and leaping ability
led J.T. to call her "Randy Moss's little sister."

J.T. hasn't found a female LT, but Vixens defensive end Tina
Cottle reminds him of Vikings tackle John Randle. "I like to hit
the quarterback, the running back--whoever. It just feels good,"
says Cottle, a high school basketball coach who stands 6'1" and
weighs 250. "When they talk trash, I hit 'em harder."

Christine Czaja, a 26-year-old kick boxer turned tight end whose
mother fretted about her latest career move, says there's
nothing unfeminine about Vixenhood. "We can be down and dirty,
getting all that aggression out," says Czaja, "and then put on a
dress, go to a club and dance." --John Rosengren

Designated for Cooperstown?

Harold Baines is on nobody's shortlist of future Hall of Famers.
The Indians' DH has never had 30 homers or 200 hits in a season.
His best finish in MVP voting was ninth. He has played just 81
games in the field since 1986. Yet a couple more seasons like
the one he just completed and he'll have strong Cooperstown

Very quietly Baines has been creeping up on 3,000 hits and 400
home runs. His 25 homers and 134 hits this season put him at 373
and 2,783, respectively, and at age 40 he shows little sign of
slowing. (He batted .312 this year, lifting his lifetime average
to .292.) No eligible player with 3,000 hits has failed to earn
Hall of Fame induction, and only two with more than 400
homers--Dave Kingman and Darrell Evans--have missed out. By this
time next year Baines may be a lightning rod for debate over
designated hitters and the Hall.

"I don't want to take anything away from what Harold has
accomplished, but I don't think it's legit if I'm not playing
the field," says the Padres' Tony Gwynn. Counters Diamondbacks
vice president Roland Hemond, who as White Sox G.M. signed
Baines in '77, "DH's didn't make the rule; they played by it." A
straw poll of Hall voters shows growing support for Baines's
candidacy. "Until this year he wasn't even on my radar screen,"
says the Baltimore Sun's Ken Rosenthal, "but you can now argue
that he has been the best at his position over an extended
period." Jack O'Connell of the Hartford Courant calls induction
"an open-and-shut case" if Baines reaches 3,000 hits.

Cooperstown-bound or not, Baines has been impressing pitchers
for 20 seasons. Asked if he's a Hall of Famer, Yankees
righthander David Cone--against whom Baines has hit .386--says,
"He is when he bats against me."



Houston, you had a problem. Now you have six--the half dozen
subs and scrubs you got from Portland for Scottie Pippen. Sure,
Pippen was dumb to criticize Charles Barkley's fat butt. But was
he wrong? No offense, Charles, but in the battle of Grumpy Old
Forwards, the one who's known to play defense still leads, six
rings to none.

Go Figure

Salary in 1999 of Celtics chairman Paul Gaston, who returned $1
million to ease the team's financial woes.

Years it took Aleta Sill, the top money winner in women's bowling
history, to top $1 million in earnings.

Dissatisfied Lightning fans who got their money back after Tampa
Bay's 4-2 win over the Islanders.

Announced crowd at Sunday's Reds-Brewers game at County Stadium,
where there were about 600 fans.

Rank of The Waterboy on Variety's list of the top-grossing sports
films of all time.



The NBA careers of Benoit Benjamin, 34, and John Salley, 35, who
between them have played for the Bucks, Bulls, Clippers,
Grizzlies, Heat, Lakers, Nets, Pistons, Raptors, Sonics and
76ers. Both signed with the Lakers last week.

Hanging In

Casey Martin, who ranks 15th on the Nike tour money list with
two events to go. The top 15 go on to golf's big show, the PGA
Tour, in 2000.


Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, who says the NBA told him it
would consider giving Vegas a team only if its casinos quit
taking bets on league games.


Nike, which can no longer use its name on clothes in Spain. The
country's supreme court recently ruled that the brand name has
been registered in Spain since 1932 and legally belongs to
Cidesport, a company that claims it also owns the Nike name in
Andorra, Cameroon, Cuba, Poland and Tunisia.


Russia's Alina Kabaeva, who bent over backward and forward to
win four golds--one in the ball event--and two silvers at the
World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships last week in Osaka.

Flakes, Mustard and Dawg Food

After Flutie Flakes crunched the competition in Buffalo,
athletes from Beantown to Orange County just had to have eats of
their own. We asked Bobby Flay, Food Network chef and author of
Boy Meets Grill, to risk his palate by taste-testing the latest
in jock cuisine.

Doug Flutie
Bite-sized Bills quarterback

Flutie Flakes--still the field's pieces de resistance

Frosted Flakes

With a half-pint of milk and scrambled eggs

"Sweet and crunchy, holds up to the milk really well."

Sammy Sosa
Cubs' homering ham

Slammin' Sammy's

Frosted Flakes

As a power breakfast

"Least sweet of all the cereals--I'd eat these for breakfast."

Sergei Fedorov
Red Wings center

Fedorov Crunch

Toucan Sam's favorite cereal

With iced milk and a Russian tart

"Are you sure these aren't Froot Loops?"

Ed McCaffrey
Broncos receiver

McCaffrey's Rocky Mountain Mustard

Gulden's Spicy Brown

With a Coors and memories of Elway

"Perfect on top of a stadium hot dog."

Dominik Hasek
Sabres goalie

Hasek Hot Sauce

Any other Czech hot sauce

While thinking dark thoughts about Brett Hull

"A rich, sharp flavor with a good bite, but it could be hotter."

Big Dawg
Browns mascot

Big Dawg Crunch

Cocoa Puffs

With Alpo and a beer

"It could use more chocolate flavor."

Pedro Martinez
Red Sox ace

Pedro's Salsa

Tostitos mild

With White Castle sliders

"Mild, sweet and chunky--not as good as his fastball."

Do It Yourself

Zing Hareruya

Step right up and clobber Akira Hareruya (left), a Japanese
businessman who moonlights as a punching bag. Hareruya, 36, a
former prizefighter whose name means "feel better, don't give
up," charges Tokyo pedestrians 1,000 yen--about $10--to take a
minute's worth of pokes at him while he bobs and weaves. "I
never hit back, so it's very safety," says the 5'6", 167-pounder
in the halting English he usually saves for Stallone-style cries
of "Yo, Adrian!"

Hareruya says he took up sidewalk sluggery in February to help
pay a $1.5 million debt he ran up as an electrical contractor.
"I've had about 2,600 customers in seven months of doing this,
and only two have knocked me down," he says in Japanese. "Down,
but not out. I always get up." Police find him equally
resilient: They often tell Hareruya to beat it because he
doesn't have a permit for a sidewalk business. The human heavy
bag apologizes and retreats, only to pop up again on another
street corner.

This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us

An ad in a Dallas newspaper invited fans to come watch former
Cowboy Tony Tolbert's laser eye surgery.

Even before this slap on the wrist Tarkenton's reputation was
wildly inflated.

They Said It

Duchess of York, to George Steinbrenner at a party: "You're
obviously someone successful. Good luck in whatever it is you do."

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)