Scorecard McGrady's Choice--Titan-ic Trailer--Odd Couples--Anna Gets Ugly

July 23, 2000

CATCH THIS, CANTON
A Hall of Fame voter puts Michael Irvin in perspective

Five years from now Michael Irvin, who announced his retirement
on July 11 after 12 seasons, will come up before the Hall of
Fame Selection Committee. I can end the suspense right now and
tell you that my vote will be a strong yes.

Irvin won't be a slam-dunk first-ballot choice: He carries too
much baggage. He was loud and arrogant, defensive backs always
complained about the way he pushed off, and he has a rap sheet
for drugs, the same thing that produced a few negative votes in
1999 when Lawrence Taylor was up for admission. My vote, though,
will be on performance, and Irvin--who was the key pass-catcher on
three Super Bowl champions, as well as an on-the-field leader--is
an easy choice.

Irvin is tied for 10th alltime in receptions. Let's look at the
rest of the top 10, a list that makes up most of his competition
for the Hall. Jerry Rice, the alltime leader, is a shoo-in. If
Andre Reed, No. 2, doesn't catch on with a team this year, he'll
be eligible at the same time as Irvin, and I'd vote for both of
them; as a slot receiver, Reed was the key man in the multiple
wideout offense that led the Bills to four Super Bowls. Art
Monk, No. 3, has come up and been rejected; I would choose Irvin
over Monk--just not enough action downfield for Art. Cris
Carter, No. 4 and still active, will be another easy choice.
Steve Largent, at 5, is in the Hall. Henry Ellard, sixth
alltime, will be eligible in four years, but I see him as a case
of being not quite as good as the candidates he'll be up against
each year. Irving Fryar (7) and Tim Brown (8) are still active.
James Lofton, ninth alltime, has come up and has been rejected,
despite my yes vote--he was a more serious deep threat than any
of the others in the top 10. If he's still on the ballot in five
years, at the same time as Irvin, I'd probably go for both of
them.

Finally, Charlie Joiner, who's tied with Irvin at No. 10 with
750 catches, is already in the Hall, and it's interesting to
compare their numbers because they're so similar. Joiner had 242
more career yards and a 16.2 yards-per-catch average to Irvin's
15.9. They're tied with 65 touchdowns apiece. Joiner was a
popular player, well-liked by everybody, hardworking, modest.
But he was basically a workhorse, a cog in a great San Diego
passing machine that had other weapons, such as Kellen Winslow
and J.J. Jefferson and Wes Chandler. Except for the four seasons
in which he teamed with Alvin Harper, Irvin and tight end Jay
Novacek made up Dallas's passing attack. Irvin did it for many
seasons without help, and he did it superbly. --Paul Zimmerman

Six Receivers Dr. Z Thinks Belong in the Hall

1. Lynn Swann (1974-82) His numbers aren't good enough is the
argument. My pitch has been quality over quantity. He saved his
best for when the stakes were highest.

2. James Lofton (1978-93) He was so dynamic downfield that
people forget he could operate as a possession receiver as well.

3. Otis Taylor (1965-75) Classic combination of size (6'3", 215
pounds) and speed that everybody's looking for now.

4. Mac Speedie (1946-52) Finest receiver for the Cleveland
Browns teams when they terrorized the old All-America Conference.

5. Harold Carmichael (1971-84) Gigantic (6'8") target who was
amazingly effective downfield.

6. Art Powell (1959-68) Forgotten now, but the most feared
receiver in the early days of the AFL.

MORE MAGIC REQUIRED
NBA FREE AGENCY

The Magic has made so much progress in the past two weeks that
it's getting ahead of itself. One week after five-time All-Star
Grant Hill announced he would sign with Orlando for a reported
$67.5 million over six years, the maximum allowable, forward
Tracy McGrady (right) declared his intention to sign a similar
deal with the Magic. McGrady, 21, a Florida native, said he was
happy because "not too many superstars get a chance to play at
home." That statement requires a 20-second timeout. McGrady, who
averaged 15.4 points for the Raptors last season, may have been
one of the coveted prizes in this year's free-agent sweepstakes,
but he isn't a superstar yet. It would be just as premature to
consider Orlando a championship-caliber team.

Which is not to say that the smiles around the Magic offices
aren't justified. With coach Doc Rivers, underrated point guard
Darrell Armstrong and a hustling collection of role players,
Orlando, a .500 club last year, should flirt with 50 victories.
But Hill has never proved he can carry a team--he hasn't taken
the Pistons past the first round of the playoffs--and his
sidekick last season, All-Star Jerry Stackhouse, is arguably a
better player than McGrady, who has never won a postseason game.
The rest of Hill's supporting cast in Orlando isn't vastly
superior to the group he had in Detroit last year, when the
Pistons finished 42-40.

Only one free agent could have turned the Magic into a Finals
favorite--Tim Duncan, who decided to stay in San Antonio.
Without him, Hill and McGrady will soar for lots of lovely
alley-oops, but they won't rise to the top of the Eastern
Conference. --Phil Taylor

burning Question
Going Postal

Q Why does the U.S. Postal Service sponsor a cycling team?

Sure, having Lance Armstrong (left) as your human billboard is
great, but if you're a federal agency looking for an endorsement
deal--which is odd to begin with--why pick a sport that's far
more popular outside the U.S.? "Marketing," explains team
coordinator Bob McKenna. "We do it because a surprisingly large
number of companies have interests in cycling: Visa,Yahoo!,
Nike. We use the team to develop relationships with these and
other sponsors." (Unlike most other government entities, the
Postal Service has corporate competitors, such as FedEx.) Still,
do you really want people picturing bicycles as they get ready
to overnight their packages? "The cycling team is a metaphor for
the postal service as a whole: Training, planning, teamwork and
effort add up to a win," says McKenna. Besides, he adds of the
sponsorship, which runs in the low seven figures, "our budget's
tight. We can afford cycling. NASCAR's too rich for our blood."

Go Figure

12-1
Odds on Tiger Woods winning the British Open by more than five
strokes, posted on the British gambling site sportingodds.com.

25-1
Odds on Tiger missing the cut.

$1,499
Cost to skate with Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner and other former
champions at the All-Star Fantasy Figure Skating Camp in South
Brunswick, N.J.

$75,000
Speaking fee charged by Lakers coach Phil Jackson, up $25,000
since his team won this year's NBA Finals.

23
NCAA men's gymnastics programs, down from 128 in 1976.

$24.99
Price per gallon for Tennessee Orange paint, which matches the
Volunteers' signature color, at Knoxville Home Depot stores.

\sportz - werdz\

LARRY [n.] A loss. Often used by pitchers. ("I only gave up a
run, but I still got the Larry.") Origin unknown. Toronto righty
Paul Quantrill recalls using the term with ex-teammate Dan
Plesac as far back as '97. "I'd take a loss and Plesac would get
the next, then we were the brothers Larry."

TRAILER OF THE WEEK

Rule Titania
Remember the Titans (opens Sept. 29)

SYNOPSIS: Denzel Washington stars as a no-nonsense football
coach hired to whip into shape a Virginia high school team that
has just been racially integrated. (The film is set in 1971.) As
the spot eagerly proclaims, the movie is "based on a true
story." TRAILER STYLE: Heroic impressionism. As heart-swelling
music plays, a familiar sports-morality tale is played out via
quick-cut scenes of football players overcoming their
differences. WHAT THE STUDIO WANTS YOU TO THINK OF: Hoosiers
meets Stand by Me (with a healthy dose of Varsity Blues) WHAT
THE STUDIO DOESN'T WANT YOU TO THINK OF: A slightly more serious
Wildcats PREFAB CATCHPHRASE: "We're going to change the way we
run. We're going to change the way we block. We're going to
change the way we win!" BOTTOM LINE: Formulaic, manipulative,
predictable. The football scenes boast that exaggerated
Hollywood style: Every block is a thunderous collision resulting
in someone getting flipped head over heels. And the
standard-issue theme about the redemptive power of sports could
appeal only to the hopelessly romantic and the corniest of
sports fans. In other words, we can't wait.

STYLE FILE

JESPER PARNEVIK

OUTFIT
Lime-green shirt, argyle sweater, black no-pleat pants, all
cotton and microfiber blends; from J. Lindeberg's Fall 2000
collection.

BREAKDOWN
Remember your dad's golf duds? Colors louder than a Borscht Belt
comedian, fabrics so artificial they could be cleaned with
Windex. Well, at least one designer longs for those days. "Golf
fashion then was sleek and sexy," says Swedish haute couturier
Johan Lindeberg, who has been putting Parnevik in updated
versions of classic golf designs for the past few years.
Lindeberg, who is dressing his fellow Swede for this week's
British Open, hooked up with Parnevik in 1996, right after the
golfer had been voted by his peers as the worst-dressed player on
the European tour. "He loves the way [they] dressed in the '50s
and '60s," says Parnevik, "when everybody had style and fashion
in golf."

CRITIQUE
"They're moving back to the Arnold Palmer days but with a very
cosmopolitan look," says Annmarie Dodd, sportswear editor for the
fashion trade DNR. "Jesper looks cool because of his clean lines
and calming presence. He's proven color and style can go hand in
hand."

Blotter

Dropped
--USA Network's plans for a Marge Schott biopic. Exec Adam
Shapiro cited difficulty making the chain-smoking former Reds
owner "a compelling character."

Rescued
--By 76ers center Matt Geiger, 10 buffalo from a
drought-stricken Hudson, Fla., farm. Geiger moved the animals to
his 100-acre farm in East Lake; they'll be cared for with the
help of a veterinarian from a nearby zoo.

Relieved
--Sprinter Ben Johnson, of his wallet, by pickpockets on Rome's
Via Veneto. Johnson, who was returning to Canada via Rome from
Libya after a stint as personal trainer to Mu'ammar Gadhafi's
soccer-playing son, lost about $7,000.

Sued
--By the IOC, USOC and Salt Lake Olympic organizing committee,
more than 1,800 Web sites whose domain names employ variations of
the word Olympics or otherwise imply an association with the
Games. Included were 69 sites selling tickets, 43 offering
gambling and 15 with adult content.

Averaged
--Thirteen points and six rebounds, by Vikings receiver Randy
Moss in three games in the Southern California Summer Pro League.
Moss, a high school teammate of Kings guard Jason Williams, had
permission from Minnesota coach Dennis Green to play in the
league, alongside NBAers Cedric Ceballos, Shawn Marion and Bo
Outlaw and Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Mixed Doubles

1. Tracey Stewart poses with a statue of her late husband, golfer
Payne Stewart, as Tiger Woods and others look on, at the
Waterville Golf Club in County Kerry, Ireland. 2. Katie Couric
tries to rally with Wimbledon champ Pete Sampras during a segment
for the Today show in New York City. 3. New Jersey Devils center
Scott Gomez shows burn victim Angeline Evans, 3, the Stanley Cup
in an Anchorage hospital during a visit to his native Alaska
(page 62); 4. Michelle Kwan poses next to her wax replica, which
will go on display later this year at Madame Tussaud's New York.
5. Comedian David Spade eavesdrops on Joe Montana at a celebrity
golf event in San Jose. 6. At the All-Star Game singer Marc
Anthony and Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez discuss their
top hits.

the Beat

A catty remark that Anna Kournikova made about Elizabeth Hurley
may come back to haunt the tennis teen queen. During Wimbledon a
British tabloid picked up a comment that Kournikova (with
Hurley, below) made in an interview with Russian Vogue in which
she said she thought the actress was "so ugly." Now London
police say they've received a letter threatening Kournikova with
violence; the note is reportedly from an angry Hurley fan. The
police have urged Kournikova to beef up her security for public
outings....

Mike Piazza's latest catch is Playboy playmate Darlene Bernaola.
The two, who met last January at a New York shindig, are so
infatuated with each other that they recently had their initials
tattooed on each other's ankles....

Venus and Serena Williams partied until two in the morning
before winning the women's doubles title at Wimbledon. "It's the
latest we have ever been up before a final," said Venus....

Forget Jerry Stackhouse's playoff-inspired taunting of Miami:
The Pistons' guard actually loves the city and is building a
home there. Speaking of South Florida real estate, Dan Marino is
selling his Fort Lauderdale house so that he can move closer to
the water. The 13,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion
includes nine bedrooms, 11 baths, two half-baths, a
temperature-controlled wine storage room and a marble-decked
pool. Asking price: $8 million....

Derek Jeter celebrated his 26th birthday with a celeb-stuffed
bash at a New York City nightclub on July 8. Among those who
turned out to watch the Yankees shortstop blow out the candles
were actress Sarah Jessica Parker, rapper Jay-Z, Nets guard
Stephon Marbury and Miss Universe Lara Dutta of India. Jeter and
Dutta were later spotted sharing a more private celebration in a
back booth.

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

Dennis Rodman has a new Internet site, rodmantv.com, that will
provide live Webcasts of his Newport Beach, Calif., house
parties.

B/W PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER PLAYMAKER: Irvin was the heart of the Cowboys' passing attack. COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH COLOR PHOTO: CHRISTOPHE ENA/AP TWO COLOR PHOTOS: TRACEY BENNETT/WALT DISNEY PICTURES Washington gets ready to Rockne COLOR PHOTO: HECTOR MATA/AFP COLOR PHOTO: SCHOTT: BILL FRAKES COLOR PHOTO: KENDALL HARDMANN/PRESS-TELEGRAM COLOR PHOTO: CHRIS BACON/PA (STEWART) 1 COLOR PHOTO: RICHARD DREW/AP (SAMPRAS) 2 COLOR PHOTO: AL GRILLO/AP (GOMEZ) 3 COLOR PHOTO: FRED PROUSER/REUTERS (KWAN) 4 COLOR PHOTO: MEGAN WILLIAMS (MONTANA) 5 COLOR PHOTO: TAMI CHAPPELL/REUTERS (RODRIGUEZ) 6 COLOR PHOTO: MIKE HEWITT/ALLSPORT (KOURNIKOVA) COLOR PHOTO: COLIN BRALEY/REUTERS (SOSA)

They Said It

SAMMY SOSA
After being told he'd tied Joe DiMaggio with his 361st career
home run: "That's the guy whose girlfriend was Marilyn Monroe?"

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)