THE NFL'S BLACK EYE
Ted Cottrell is the latest black assistant shut out of a top job
Ted Cottrell has a dream. Since joining the NFL coaching
fraternity as a linebackers coach with Kansas City in 1981, he
has envisioned himself as boss of a team. Certainly he has the
credentials. Cottrell, 52, has coached the linebackers and/or
defensive line of the Chiefs, the USFL's New Jersey Generals,
the Cardinals and the Bills. In '98 Buffalo promoted him to
defensive coordinator; this season the Bills finished first in
the NFL in team defense, allowing just 14.3 points and 252.8
yards per game. "I'm ready," Cottrell says. "I've learned from
some of the best coaches in the game."
Ted Cottrell is black. His phone didn't ring in January, when
the six teams with coaching vacancies conducted at least 15
interviews, only two of which were believed to have been with
black candidates, new Kansas City linebackers coach Willie Shaw
and Atlanta offensive line coach Art Shell. Unless the Saints
hire a black coach (the front-runners are Dom Capers and Jim
Haslett, both white), the NFL will continue its lily-white
string of hires: Of the past 30 new head coaches, only one--Ray
Rhodes in Green Bay last year--was black.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said last week that
African-Americans are "in the pipeline" for head coaching jobs.
Really? What kind of pipeline excludes the coordinator of the
league's best defense? Dave Wannstedt and Bill Belichick, both
of whom had losing records in their previous head coaching
stints, have taken over the Dolphins and the Patriots,
respectively. Shell, who had a 54-38 record in six seasons as
the Raiders' coach, has gone more than five years without a
second shot. Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz builds a
potent unit and pops up on everyone's short list before
re-upping with St. Louis in a deal that gives him the head job
when Dick Vermeil retires. Cottrell builds a potent unit and
makes no one's short list.
"I don't think it's overt racism," says Buccaneers coach Tony
Dungy, one of two black NFL head coaches, along with the
Vikings' Dennis Green, "but for some reason, Ted Cottrell isn't
a household name and Mike Martz is. Very few of our owners would
know who Ted Cottrell is."
Tagliabue says he can't force the 31 NFL owners--all white--to
hire anybody. But he offers no fresh ideas, nor does he do
anything symbolic such as publicly chastising the owners.
Meanwhile, Cottrell waits. "I guess we're just going to have to
duplicate what we did with this year's defense next year," he
says. "You can't get too discouraged. My father taught me never
to give up my dreams." --Peter King
TEED UP FOR TROUBLE
Sebastian Janikowski jeopardizes his future in the NFL and the
On the one hand, Sebastian Janikowski is a gifted athlete with a
dry wit and a clear vision of his future: Make the NFL and earn
enough money to bring his mother, Halina, to the U.S. from their
native Poland. On the other he's a flat-out party animal, a
260-pound eating, drinking and fighting machine. It's clear that
Janikowski, the former Florida State placekicker (SI, Dec. 20),
can't grow old as both of these characters.
In the early hours of Jan. 23, Janikowski was arrested in
Tallahassee for allegedly attempting to bribe a police officer,
a third-degree felony. For Janikowski, who police say offered an
off-duty cop working as a bouncer $300 not to arrest his
roommate after a dispute at a bar, it was at least his third
incident involving police since he came to Florida State in the
fall of 1997, and by far the most serious. A conviction not only
might discourage NFL teams from making him the first kicker in
21 years to be drafted in the first round but might also
complicate his attempt to gain U.S. citizenship.
Michael Kundid, Janikowski's immigration lawyer, says he holds a
green card that doesn't expire until 2007. (Contrary to
published reports, Janikowski isn't in the U.S. on a student
visa, which would have expired when he withdrew from Florida
State after the season.) He applied for citizenship last spring,
and according to Kundid, "Everything was going along according
to normal procedures. If he is convicted of something, that
could change." In extreme cases, a felony conviction can result
in deportation. Janikowski was expected to be formally charged
People close to Janikowski say he's harmless, if immature. "You
can't help but like him," says Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden,
which is partly why Bowden didn't suspend Janikowski when he was
the only Florida State player to miss a New Year's Eve curfew
before the Sugar Bowl.
Last spring Janikowski performed soccer tricks at a party for
six-year-old Katie Ballard, whose parents, Brian and Kathryn,
had befriended Janikowski. Last week Brian tried to impress upon
Janikowski the gravity of his situation. "He's not protected by
the Florida State football program anymore," said Ballard.
"Maybe in the old days if he had done this, they'd have made him
run stadium steps. From now on it could cost him his livelihood
and his citizenship. I think he finally realizes that." If not
now, surely never. --Tim Layden
BASEBALL LABOR DISPUTE
Hardball, Korean Style
Four months after Lee Seung-yup's record-shattering 54 home runs
made him the Mark McGwire of the Korea Baseball Organization
(KBO), it looks as if some of the league's other players could
use an international incarnation of Marvin Miller.
On Jan. 22, hours after 75 of South Korea's 366 major league
players announced that they had created the first players' union
in the KBO's 18-year history, the league took a hard-line stance
against the organizers, announcing that all union members would
immediately be released. The players would be reinstated only if
they renounced the union, and replacement players would be used
during the 2000 season. As of Feb. 1, 35 of the 75 members had
bailed out on the union.
The league claims its economic footing is too shaky to endure
increased player salaries and benefits, the likely result of
collective bargaining. Spokesman Yang Hae-young says that each
of the KBO's eight teams, which are owned by and carry the names
of Korean corporations such as Hyundai and Samsung, lost from $4
million to $9 million in 1999, and no team has ever turned a
profit. South Korea's recent economic crisis has only added to
the turmoil, forcing the Ssangbangwool Raiders to disband last
month because the team's parent company went bankrupt. "Korea
isn't ready for a players' union," Yang insists.
The issues are familiar. Union organizers want raises (players
average $60,000 a year), a cut of broadcasting fees and a
retirement fund. "We are being treated unfairly by team owners,"
union spokesman and Doosan Bears pitcher Kang Byong-kyu said.
"It will not change unless we have an organization that
represents our interests."
As teams left last week for spring training sites in Japan and
Arizona, several star players who are union members stayed at
home. Whether or not the dispute is resolved before the season
starts in April, Korean baseball has already suffered. As those
in the American game might put it, Welcome to the big leagues.
The playoff is the campaign finance reform of college football:
a popular idea in the abstract that those in power abhor in the
concrete. The announcement last Thursday by ABC Sports that it
will pay the four Bowl Championship Series bowls and the six
major Division I-A conferences about $400 million for extending
the BCS for four years, through the 2005 season, should have
surprised no one. The extension had been preordained since 1997,
when ABC signed a contract through the 2005 season with the Rose
Bowl and its conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-10. That
agreement rendered any playoff talk moot for its duration
because it locked the Big 10 and Pac-10 champs into the Rose
Bowl and effectively out of a playoff.
Nevertheless, many playoff proposals have been floated in the
BCS's two years. Most prominently, Swiss marketing giant ISL has
pitched a 16-team and an eight-team tournament, and last week it
offered Division I-A schools a deal worth $2.5 billion over 10
years to play a football Final Four, featuring the winners of
the BCS bowls. But after the NCAA agreed to accept $6 billion
from CBS last fall primarily for the men's basketball
tournament, university presidents weren't buying. The last thing
they want is to be charged with exploiting the student-athlete
in football, too, and under no circumstances do they want to
extend the season deeper into January. Big East Conference
commissioner Mike Tranghese hasn't brought a playoff proposal to
his schools' presidents in 18 months. "They're just not
interested," he says.
Tranghese and his fellow commissioners don't want a playoff
because they might lose control of the postseason football loot.
Currently all bowl revenues go directly to the big conferences;
in basketball, on the other hand, the money is filtered through
the NCAA, which has a bureaucracy to feed, not to mention
Division II and III mouths.
Tranghese did offer playoff supporters a glimmer of hope. The
contract extension "gets us all on the same page in 2006," he
says. That gives the playoff lobby six years to change the minds
of the powers that be. --Ivan Maisel
Hits and Myths
According to Russian authorities, Chechen rebels have mustered
an elite cadre of snipers made up of female biathletes from the
Baltic states and Ukraine. These purported Femmes Nikitas, known
as the White Stockings, are said to be picking off Russian
soldiers in and around Grozny, Chechnya's besieged capital.
"[These] women who [had] success in sports are selling their
skills to the Chechen terrorists," Mikhail Shurgalin, a Russian
embassy spokesman in Washington, told the New York Post last
month, after Russian police arrested a woman they described as a
former Ukrainian biathlete named Yelena, who supposedly had
traded her Olympic aims for more mercenary targets. According to
Moscow's Izvestia, she says she has shot 20 Russian soldiers
since joining the Chechens in '95 at age 22. "I heard that the
fighters paid mercenaries well," the paper quoted her as saying.
"I wanted to earn some money for my wedding."
Members of the Russian biathlon community contacted by
SI--including four-time Olympic gold medalist Alexander
Tikhonov, now president of the Russian Biathlon Federation--were
unable to identify Yelena, and few others give credence to the
tale. "The image of the White Stockings serves very useful
military propaganda purposes," Boris Kagarlitsky of Moscow's
Institute of Comparative Politics told The Moscow Times last
fall. "Here you have [a] powerful image of perceived evil...the
witch, a very powerful symbol in Russian culture--in this case,
a blonde-haired, blue-eyed sniper with an almost fascist
appearance.... This makes the perfect hate image to feed to the
How do you mend a broken heart? Well, $140 million over eight
years--the largest contract in baseball history--might help.
That's the offer Tigers slugger Juan Gonzalez reportedly
received from Detroit last week, just as he and his fourth wife,
merengue star Olga Tanon, were finalizing their divorce. With
three children and four ex-wives, he'll need every penny.
Software designer Dave Holt's record predicting the last 12
Super Bowl winners by computer simulation.
1 for 11
Mike Bibby's three-point shooting in the five games after he was
selected for the NBA's three-point contest.
Bid at Sotheby's for a Canada goose carved in 1917, a U.S.
record for a waterfowl hunting decoy.
Colleges with at least two NFL head coach alumni: BYU, Oregon,
USC and Central Connecticut State.
5 1/2 pounds
Weight of Rams chocolate footballs being sold for $40 by
Bissenger French Confections of St. Louis.
Dick Williams, who pleaded no contest to indecent exposure in
Fort Myers, Fla. The skipper of the A's 1970s dynasty, in town
for a fantasy baseball camp, told the the New York Daily News,
"Yes, I was standing in front of my [hotel room] door with no
clothes on and, yes, I had my hand over my private parts, but...
I wasn't flashing, and I definitely wasn't masturbating."
Mets reliever Turk Wendell, after he and a guide with whom he
was hunting mountain lions in Colorado were overtaken by
darkness and forced to camp overnight in -10[degrees]
temperatures. The two hiked to safety the next morning.
Don King, as Promoter of the Millennium, by the Puerto Rican
Professional Boxing Commission. King, 69, said the honor would
motivate him "to work harder for not just boxers in Puerto Rico
but the sport as a whole."
Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, to appear with Samuel L. Jackson
in Shaft Returns. LT's previous two films, The Waterboy and Any
Given Sunday, have grossed $250 million.
A team charter to Dallas, by Warriors guard John Starks. He
disembarked from the plane, which was delayed on the ground in
Oakland because of bad weather, and raced home to retrieve a set
of dominoes. By the time Starks returned to the airport, the jet
had departed. Said teammate Terry Cummings, "That's just basic
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
On the Australian Olympic Committee's original list of
torchbearers for the Sydney Games was former Australian judo
champion and 1976 Olympian Warren Austin Richards, who's serving
a 12-year prison sentence for heroin trafficking.
league's best defense?
New York Knicks guard, on having to eat at a McDonald's in
Washington, D.C., after snow grounded the team's charter flight:
"It was just like a humbling experience."