WHERE GO THEM?
Unlike their defunct league, a few Ex-FLers do have a football
There will be no pot of gold at the end of the XFL rainbow, not
for the players unemployed in the wake of the league's decision
to fold last week and not for NFL teams waiting to pick the bones
of the eight expired clubs. By Monday, 45 XFL players had signed
with the NFL, and another 30 to 35 will probably catch on before
camps open in July. "But I would be surprised if any more than
five starters come from that league," says one NFL scout assigned
to mine the XFL for prospects. "Mostly it'll be players fighting
for backup and special teams jobs."
A few of the better XFLers with NFL pedigrees are hurt by the
same factor that's keeping some prominent free agents out of
work: the league's $477,000 minimum salary for players with at
least five years on NFL rosters. (The absolute minimum is
$209,000.) Here are the consensus picks among three NFL pro
personnel men on the best the XFL had to offer.
1. John Avery, running back-kick returner, Chicago Enforcers.
Signed by Dallas, the speedy Avery is expected to get the chance
he never had in NFL stops with the Broncos and the Dolphins. He
should return kicks and be a situational back behind the aging
May 20, 2001
2. Jose Cortez, placekicker, Los Angeles Xtreme. Easily the best
long-range kicker in the XFL (at Oregon State he had three
50-plus-yard field goals in one game), the native of El Salvador
has been signed by the 49ers and should become their No. 1
3. Kelvin Kinney, defensive end, Las Vegas Outlaws. At 6'7" and
270 pounds, this former Redskin could be an ideal third-down
quarterback hunter--if someone would sign him. He's being hurt by
a $389,000 minimum tag for three-year NFL vets but should hook up
with a team when purse strings loosen in mid-June.
4. Tommy Maddox, quarterback, Los Angeles Xtreme. So what does
Maddox have now that he never had in a bad NFL career? The
wisdom of experience, apparently. Scatter-armed in his stints
with the Broncos, Rams and Giants, Maddox was a 57% passer for
the XFL champs and the league's MVP. "He finally looks like a
good decision-maker," says one NFL scout. Though subject to the
$477,000 minimum, he should get a shot somewhere.
5. Joe Tuipala, linebacker, Las Vegas Outlaws. An instinctive
6'1", 240-pounder who signed with the Jaguars, he has a good
chance of making it as a backup linebacker and special teams
kamikaze. The former Saint reminds some scouts of Patriots
special teams ace Larry Izzo.
What of the most famous XFLer, Las Vegas running back Rod Smart,
a.k.a. He Hate Me? NFL hate him, apparently. "Not quick enough,"
says one scout of the 5'9", 185-pound Smart, "and too
small." --Peter King
Notables Who Got Their Starts in Upstart Leagues
HOWARD EHMKE Famed winner of 1929 Series Game 1 for A's began
15-year career with Federal League's Buffalo Blues in '15.
JULIUS ERVING Prized prospect out of UMass in 1971 earned three
MVP awards in five seasons with ABA's Virginia Squires and New
WAYNE GRETZKY Great One, then 17, played 60 games for WHA's
Indianapolis Racers and Edmonton Oilers in 1978-79 before Oilers
were absorbed by NHL.
DANNY WHITE Third-round pick of Cowboys in 1974 opted for two
years with WFL's Memphis Southmen; in '88 he and Gary Danielson
were last WFLers to retire from NFL.
REGGIE WHITE NFL career sack leader got 33 1/2 in two seasons with
USFL's Memphis Showboats; Jim Kelly and Steve Young are among
others whose trip to Canton began in star-studded, short-lived
The Bluegrass State had barely recovered from its annual Kentucky
Derby bacchanal when grim news hit: Pregnant mares were
experiencing an unusually high number of stillbirths and
miscarriages. By Sunday the toll had surpassed 1,000 fetuses and
foals, and it is expected to continue to climb until the foaling
season ends in June. "Nobody's sure what's going on," says Arthur
Hancock, owner of Stone Farm in Paris, Ky., which has seen 10
pregnancies fail. "It's like the twilight zone of the bluegrass."
Though the cause of the phenomenon is uncertain, medical
specialists say fungal poisons called mycotoxins may have formed
on pasture grasses after a sudden cold snap interrupted a very
warm, dry April. Broodmares apparently aren't the only horses
affected. Veterinarians note a rise in ill health among horses of
both sexes and all age groups.
About a week before the Kentucky Derby, vets began detecting an
unusually high number of lost fetuses in newly pregnant mares
during routine ultrasound exams. At the same time, late-term
mares started delivering stillborn foals, often dropping them
while grazing in fields or paddocks. Since then, foals that have
survived birth have developed numerous illnesses that threaten to
raise the mortality figures further. At the Rood and Riddle
Equine Hospital in Lexington last week, as many as 15 critically
ill foals were brought in each day, about three times the normal
number. "It's like a MASH unit in here," says internist Bill
Bernard. "I've never seen anything like it."
Nor has anyone else in Kentucky, whose $900 million breeding
industry is the biggest in North America. Estimates for losses to
the 2002 crop range from 10% to 40%; the revenue hit could exceed
$150 million. For speculators like Ashford Stud of Versailles,
Ky., which paid $60 million for Fusaichi Pegasus, the effects may
be devastating, because Ashford collects its $150,000 stud fee
only if a mare produces a live foal. "It takes only a few deaths
to be hit hard," says Jim Smith, a vet since 1958. "This is the
biggest crisis ever to face the thoroughbred industry." With no
clear end in sight. --Mark Beech
Last week Charles Whitcomb, chair of the NCAA's Minority
Opportunities and Interests Committee, said his group would look
into banning the likes of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek (left) and
Florida State's Chief Osceola from championship events. Here's a
look at some current controversies, racial and otherwise:
NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING SIOUX The nickname is opposed by some
faculty and Native American activists but backed by alumnus
Ralph Engelstad, a Las Vegas casino owner who was once fined
$1.5 million by the Nevada State Gaming Control Board for
throwing parties celebrating Hitler's birthday. Engelstad says
he'll withdraw his $100 million pledge for a new hockey arena at
North Dakota if the nickname is changed.
ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI Opponents, including some members of the
Illinois faculty and student body, recently won a federal court
decision that allows them to warn recruits they'll be playing for
a school whose mascot wears a Sioux headdress and whoops while
dancing barefoot during sporting events. Supporters, including
alumnus and movie critic Roger Ebert, have argued that the Chief
honors the legacy of the Illini.
SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS Responding to pressure from Native
American and Mexican-American groups on campus, a university
task force last week recommended that Monty Montezuma, a
loinclothed warrior who spits fire and totes a spear, be
replaced with a more historically accurate version of Montezuma,
the Aztec ruler. In a vote last October, 87% of the student body
supported the current mascot.
OREGON STATE BEAVERS Smiling Benny Beaver is being phased out in
favor of scowling "Angry Beaver," whom school officials say
captures the aggressiveness of Oregon State's teams. Partisans of
the cuddly Benny say his dyspeptic replacement scares children.
Missing in Action
Ever wonder why the sports reruns you see on ESPN Classic rarely
predate the early 1970s? According to Ron Simon, a curator for
the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City, the networks
didn't begin preserving their sports broadcasts until then. "With
a limited amount of storage space and no market for replays, the
networks placed a premium on saving their own original prime-time
programming," says Simon.
That means there's no archival record of many of sport's most
historic TV broadcasts. Super Bowl I? Both CBS and NBC aired the
game in 1967 but recorded over their tapes. Willie Mays's
over-the-shoulder catch in the '54 World Series? Any copies made
were most likely tossed into a Dumpster years ago.
Collectors and historians alike covet the missing broadcasts for
the opportunity not only to watch Jackie Robinson and Bart Starr
playing complete games but also to observe how television in its
infancy covered great sports moments. According to Simon, the
broadcasts the Museum of TV and Radio would most like to have
include (in chronological order): the 1951 National League
playoff game between the Giants and the Dodgers in which Bobby
Thomson hit his Shot Heard 'Round the World; Don Larsen's perfect
game in the '56 World Series; the Colts-Giants '58 overtime NFL
Championship game; Game 7 of the '60 World Series, won by the
Pirates on Bill Mazeroski's homer; and Super Bowls I and II.
How likely is it that one of these broadcasts will turn up?
"We're always hoping," says Simon. "There's the possibility of
an unmarked can in a studio somewhere." Or of a hidden treasure
trove turning up. "A number of people believe there's a stash of
baseball games in Fidel Castro's closet," says Simon.
"Historians will probably have to wait until he dies to find out."
who Is... Tom Emanski
Where you've seen him: In those ubiquitous commercials for the
Tom Emanski video series, his baseball instructional tapes.
Why you've paid attention: Because anyone who tunes in to ESPN
has heard about how Emanski coached his teams to
"back-to-back-to-back AAU national championships!" The spots have
aired every day since the mid-1990s.
Resume: In 1982, Emanski, then an IBM technician, founded the
Baseball World training center in Altamonte Springs, Fla. For
the first few years, Baseball World trainees got traditional
hardball teaching--with mediocre results. Emanski, who never
played above American Legion ball, set about devising new
training methods based on analyses done by physicists who
watched video of big leaguers. That led to his first tape,
Teaching the Mechanics of the Major League Swing. To peddle
Teaching, Emanski went into Ron Popeil mode, buying commercial
time on local cable channels. Solid sales led to eight more
videos. Although Emanski's system has its doubters, it has
produced one major leaguer, catcher Eddie Taubensee, who appears
as an 18-year-old on that first tape. As for those AAU titles,
they're for real: From 1990 to '92, Emanski led three Florida
teams to championships.
By arbitrator Alan Symonette, the reinstatement of nine of the
22 big league umps who lost their jobs following a July 1999
mass resignation. In a case-by-case analysis, Symonette ruled
that Drew Coble, Gary Darling, Bill Hohn, Greg Kosc, Larry
Poncino, Frank Pulli, Terry Tata, Larry Vanover and Joe West
should get their jobs back, but he let stand the dismissal of 13
others, including Richie Garcia and Eric Gregg.
By a State of Washington ethics board, a proposed endorsement
deal between Huskies football coach Rick Neuheisel and Nike that
would have paid Neuheisel as much as $150,000 per season. The
board said such an arrangement would violate a law banning state
employees from being compensated by others for doing state
Silvio Berlusconi, as Italy's prime minister. In 1993 the media
mogul founded Forza Italia, the conservative party that draws its
name from the rallying cry of fans of Italy's national soccer
team. Among the holdings in Berlusconi's $12 billion corporate
empire is perennial soccer power AC Milan.
Dennis Rodman's 40th birthday bash, by Newport Beach, Calif.,
police. Rodman arrived at the party in a helicopter that circled
his house several times before landing on a public beach. Cops
received dozens of calls from neighbors complaining about noise
from the party. Rodman shifted the festivities to a nearby
CART, by Texas Motor Speedway, over the cancellation of the
April 29 Firestone Firehawk 600, which drivers refused to take
part in after they experienced excessive G-forces in practice.
The speedway seeks the return of $2.1 million it paid CART and
as much as $6 million for expenses, lost profits and damages.
CART calls the suit meritless.
History can be less than kind to the wearer of the headband, the
signature 1970s headdress that has experienced a minirenaissance
in this year's NBA playoffs. Vince Carter (center) and his fellow
Raptors are one of the teams that have donned the headband as a
symbol of unity. While that spirit may be noble, it takes a
certain je ne sais quoi to pull the look off. Here's a glance
back at headband winners and losers.
HALL OF FAME
Bjorn Borg 1977
Walter Payton 1984
Wilt Chamberlain 1972
Slick Watts 1976
Sylvester Stallone 1979
Olivia Newton-John 1981
HALL OF SHAME
John McEnroe 1978
Jim McMahon 1986
Christian Laettner 1993
Bill Walton 1974
Jim Carrey 1996
John Travolta 1983
Despite his glowering visage, we always knew there was a kinder,
gentler Lawrence Taylor. Now the NFL Hall of Famer is going to
showcase his softer side. Taylor, who's been attempting to
kick-start an acting career, will guest star in the pilot
episode of a Showtime series called Going to California, and
according to sources close to the show, he'll play a flamboyant
transvestite named Fighting Iris. California follows two guys
who road-trip across the country and along the way encounter
various colorful characters. (Clearly, cross-dressing
linebackers fall in that category.) Taylor's agent, Mark
Lepselter, wouldn't confirm the nature of the part but did say,
"LT is going to have to be secure in his manhood for the role...
Speaking of jocks getting in touch with their feminine sides,
Bruins right wing Bill Guerin, Panthers center Rob Niedermayer
and Lightning goalie Kevin Weekes will appear on the June 1
episode of ABC's All My Children. This is the second hockey-soap
crossover in the last year: Back in August, five players,
including the Coyotes' Jeremy Roenick, made cameos on One Life
to Live. So what's the deal with NHLers and daytime dramas? "A
lot of players are huge soap fans," says Niedermayer. "Our
schedule leads us to it. On game days there's that one to two
o'clock hour where you're just flicking around the TV."... This
week's entry in the exhuming-a-sports-classic department:
Paramount will remake the Burt Reynolds football film The
Longest Yard. But whereas Reynolds (above) played a convict who
leads a team of inmates against a squad of redneck guards, the
new version will take place in a British prison, and the sport
will change from football to soccer. Starring in the lead will
be Vinnie Jones, the former English soccer bruiser who played
memorable tough guys in Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking
Straight times, dating to the 2000 Masters, that the Dow Jones
Industrials closed higher on the first trading day after Tiger
Woods finished a U.S. golf tournament.
Twenty-strikeout performances, of the five in major league
history, for which Mark Grace has been the first baseman: Kerry
Woods's 20-whiff game for the Cubs in 1998 and Randy Johnson's
masterpiece last week for the Diamondbacks against the Reds.
At bats it took the Blue Jays' Carlos Delgado to hit 204 homers
and break the club record set by Joe Carter, who had 203 dingers
in 4,093 at bats.
Official scoring of the rundown in which the Astros tagged out
Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins after he tried to steal second.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Claiming that the promotion of milk is racist because many
blacks and Hispanics are lactose intolerant, People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals called for the Indy 500 to replace
the winner's traditional sip of dairy milk with orange juice or
"This is the biggest crisis ever to face the thoroughbred
industry." PAGE 22
They Said It
Reds outfielder and sometime NFL cornerback, on reports that the
Redskins were considering cutting him: "That's a positive move
for them. They need to move on."