PLAYING THE SKINS GAME
What has Steve Spurrier gotten himself into?
As Steve Spurrier leaves Florida to become the highest-paid
coach in the NFL--he signed a $25 million, five-year deal with
the Redskins on Monday--the $64,000 question is: How will he
cope with losing? Winning two thirds of your games every year at
Florida is a near lock; winning two thirds of your games every
year in the NFL is nearly impossible.
"I'm not planning on losing a whole lot," Spurrier told SI on
Monday. "I understand it's a possibility because there are no
Vanderbilts in the NFL. But I'm not a real good loser. I don't
really want to get good at it."
Nobody does. But in a league in which the Broncos Mike Shanahan,
one of the brightest and most organized coaches around, can go
only 25-23 over the past three years with zero playoff wins,
losing is a reality. Factors like the salary cap guarantee that.
As Browns coach Butch Davis, who jumped from a college job at
Miami last January, says, "When you're told, 'I know you don't
want this guy, but we can't cut him because of the cap,' or 'We
have to hang onto this guy for two more years until we can take
the cap hit,' that hurts." Spurrier is walking into one of the
league's salary-cap nightmares: The $100 million in player
salaries that Washington owner Daniel Snyder doled out in
2000--including an absurd $8 million signing bonus to the aging
Deion Sanders--ensures that the Skins will be hamstrung for
several years to come.
January 21, 2002
Spurrier also enters the NFL during a volatile time for coaches.
Jim Mora, Dennis Green and, to a lesser extent, Marty
Schottenheimer all succeeded in turning teams around in recent
seasons, and for their efforts, they were all fired by impatient
owners in the the last three weeks. Spurrier should feel
fortunate that he hit it off with the mercurial Snyder in
several meetings over the past few years, culminating in a
take-it-or- leave-it offer from Snyder last Friday night in
Florida. "Dan Snyder is one of the biggest reasons I'm here,"
says Spurrier. "He loves the team. He wants to make it work."
Spurrier is a threat to succeed because of his great offensive
mind. "He has a way of creating space in the passing game and
teaching offense better than anyone I've ever seen," says TV
analyst and former NFL quarterback Gary Danielson. "I don't
think he'll last very long, because the extracurricular things
will get to him. But he'll be hard to beat while he's there."
Leap of Faith
Here's a look at some football coaches who won a national
championship in college and how they fared in the NFL.
DENNIS ERICKSON Led Miami to two college titles (1989, '91) but
had mediocre 31-33 mark in four seasons with Seahawks.
JIMMY JOHNSON Another Miami coach (college crown in 1987) but
one who had a different NFL experience: back-to-back Super Bowl
wins with Cowboys in 1992 and '93.
JOHN ROBINSON Won 1978 championship with USC, spent
nine solid but unspectacular years with the Rams ('75-68)
and then returned to USC.
BOBBY ROSS Ex-Georgia Tech coach (title in 1990) took Chargers
to Super Bowl in third year but then went 27-32 in three and a
half seasons with Lions.
BARRY SWITZER Three-time national champ with Oklahoma (1974, '75
and '85) went on to win one Super Bowl in four seasons with
KIDS AND THE 'NET
A YOUNG MEDIUM
One of the great fears of the Internet age is that conniving
adults will use the Web to take advantage of unsuspecting kids.
Yet as two recent incidents show, adults have plenty to fear
from cyber-savvy youths. Last week the Securities and Exchange
Commission charged Cole Bartiromo, 17, with bilking online
investors out of nearly $1 million by promising "risk-free"
profits of as much as 2,500%. Bartiromo, a senior at Trabuco
Hills High in Mission Viejo, Calif., and an outfielder on the
school baseball team, set up a website in which he claimed that
huge, "fixed" returns would come from betting on sporting events
through a team of experts. In less than two months Bartiromo,
who identified himself by the pseudonym Tom Manning on the site,
reportedly attracted more than 1,000 investors and at least
$900,000. According to the S.E.C., Bartiromo, who could not be
reached for comment, has agreed to pay back his victims.
They include Steven Daigle, 47, an engineer from Austin who
ponied up $6,000 and says he told his own teenagers, who were
suspicious of Bartiromo's scheme, "Sons, this is an investment,
and this is how you make money in the world." Clearly Daigle and
the other victims weren't the sharpest investors. Still,
Bartiromo's was a sophisticated operation and his impressively
designed Web page belied the fact that he was an under-age
A high-quality website is a trait Bartiromo's scam had in common
with the far less insidious case of O.J. Mayo, 14, a
seventh-grade basketball star at Rose Hill Christian High in
Ashland, Ky. Mayo has launched ojmayo.org, a promotional page so
polished it resembles a professional media guide bio. Built by a
friend, the site includes Mayo's stats (he averages better than
20 points a game), nuggets of personal info (he likes chicken
pieces) and film clips and newspaper stories about him--none of
which can escape a recruiter's notice. "Actually it might make
colleges worry that he's egotistical and hard to coach," says
high school hoops analyst Bob Gibbons of Mayo's site. Gibbons
had his own encounter with an Internet rascal several years ago,
when a 14-year-old Florida boy launched a site touting himself
as an evaluator of high school basketball players. Though the
boy had no experience in the trade, he emerged as a competitor
to Gibbons. "It was a relief when he got a little older," says
Gibbons. "He hit puberty and got other interests."
One thing's clear about the case of Thomas Junta--it made for
riveting television. Last week Junta was found guilty of
involuntary manslaughter in the beating death of Michael Costin,
his 12-year-old son Quinlan's hockey coach. The six-day trial
was aired live, so there was plenty of time to figure out who to
cast in the movie version of the case:
Thomas Junta, overprotective father.
James Gandolfini, overprotective father on The Sopranos.
Michael Costin, overmatched victim.
Bruno Kirby, Good Morning, Vietnam's overmatched villain.
Thomas Orlandi Jr., aggressive defense attorney.
Gene Hackman, aggressive attorney in The Firm.
Sheila Calkins, theatrical prosecutor.
Joan Allen, theatrical Proctor in The Crucible.
David Burke, plainspoken Massachusetts state trooper.
Woody Harrelson, Cheers' plainspoken Woody Boyd.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Wizards fans should start worrying. On Jan. 4, citing
irreconcilable differ-ences, Michael Jordan's wife, Juanita,
filed for divorce. Although some athletes who suffer marital
discord see an upswing in their fortunes--after divorcing Brooke
Shields, Andre Agassi went on to win the 1999 French and U.S.
Opens--others aren't as lucky. Here are some famous sports
breakups and their aftermaths:
DENNIS RODMAN AND CARMEN ELECTRA Baywatch babe Electra files for
divorce in April 1999, less than five months after her Las Vegas
wedding to Rodman. Nine days later Rodman is waived by the
MIKE TYSON AND ROBIN GIVENS After a stormy eight-month marriage,
actress Givens leaves the boxer in October 1988. A year after the
divorce is finalized, Tyson is knocked out by Buster Douglas in a
CHRIS EVERT AND JOHN LLOYD Tennis's first couple finalize their
split in April 1987, after eight years of marriage. Evert makes
the semis of the French Open and Wimbledon that year but never
wins another Grand Slam title.
TERRY BRADSHAW AND JO JO STARBUCK (above) Ice skater Starbuck
ends her four-year union to the four-time Super Bowl champion in
August 1980. Bradshaw never wins another playoff game.
MIKE AND SUSANNE KEKICH/FRITZ AND MARILYN PETERSON Before the
'73 season Yankees pitchers Kekich and Peterson swap wives, kids
and even dogs. Peterson, 17-15 in '72, goes 8-15 in '73. Kekich,
who'd had 100 career starts, is traded to Cleveland and starts
only eight more games in the bigs.
Q What does an athlete go through when he receives a physical?
A When a jock has to pass a team physical--as David Wells
(right) had to do before joining the Yankees last week--he
undergoes something more than the turn-your-head-and-cough exams
that the average Joe gets from his family doctor. "It's
rigorous," says Mariners physician Larry Pedagana. "A player
gets a general examination for things like blood pressure,
weight and height. There's an orthopedic test for flexibility, a
treadmill test for fitness and cardiovascular conditioning, and
blood screening. It takes a full day."
Physicals vary enough from club to club that an athlete can pass
one team's physical but fail another's. In January 2000 free
agent pitcher Aaron Sele nearly signed with the Orioles, but
Baltimore balked because its exam revealed "wear and tear" in
his pitching arm. Seattle signed him, and Sele, healthy and
wealthy, made them look wise: He went 17-10.
By a federal judge in Seattle, the practice of forcing judoists
to bow to a portrait of Jigoro Kano, the sport's founder, before
bouts. Some judoists had fought the rule, saying it violated
their freedom of religion.
By Australia's Channel 7, reporter Nicki Voss partly because,
during an interview with swimmer Ian Thorpe, she noted his size
17 shoe and asked whether "it was true what they say about men
with big feet." Thorpe reportedly called the network to
complain, leading to Voss's dismissal. Voss argued the firing
was unfair, and her lawyers have reached an undisclosed
agreement with the station.
For purchase on eBay, six 2002 Olympic torches. After running a
leg, a flame-bearer can buy his torch for $335 from the SLOC.
Torches have reached $4,000.
By former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog's speech at the Triple
A Iowa Cubs FanFest, the team's owner, Michael Gartner. Herzog,
discussing baseball's hiring practices, said, "The people that
are really getting it stuck to them are guys like this guy here
because he isn't a minority," and gestured toward Iowa manager
Bruce Kimm, who is Caucasian. Gartner said, "It was
embarrassing." Herzog later apologized.
From involvement in youth sports for eight years, Earley
Robinson, 30, of Elyria, Ohio, who admitted to a county judge
that he had whipped with a belt two dozen naked eight- to
10-year-old boys as they stood in a shower at a football camp
where Robinson coached last summer.
At Disney and its new movie Snow Dogs, the Miami-based Sled Dog
Action Coalition. The group, which also objects to the Iditarod
musher race on which the film is based, complains that Dogs
ignores the painful, sometimes fatal, training that the huskies
The Iceman Cometh
Only Mark Cuban could make enemies of the soft-serve ice cream
community. Last week the NBA fined the Mavericks owner $500,000
(a league record), in part for saying that director of
officiating Ed Rush "might have been a great ref, but I wouldn't
hire him to manage a Dairy Queen." The chain challenged Cuban to
manage one of its franchises for a day. Cuban responded by
saying he hadn't meant to disparage Dairy Queen and that he'd be
happy to step in for a stint serving Blizzards.
Below we compare Cuban's typical game-day schedule--which he
provided to us--with a breakdown of an average work day for a
Dairy Queen manager.
8:00 a.m. Read e-mails and browse through business-related
11:00 Go through snail mail.
Noon Deal with the issues of the day; talk to various business
4:00 Go to American Airlines Center and talk to coaches.
5:00 Work out.
6:30 Walk around to see what's going on.
7:30 Watch the game.
10:00 Eat from the buffet in the locker room. Talk to the players
and coaches about the game.
11:00 Go home.
9:00 a.m. Review previous day's financial report. Program any
price changes into the register. Oversee setup of equipment.
Record product inventory. Place order for food and supplies
needed later in the day. Pay bills. Change specials board
outside the store.
10:00 Open store for business. Go to bank to make daily deposit.
Supervise employees. Stock novelty and cake display freezer.
Review employee schedule for the day. Make novelties and cakes.
11:00 Assist in handling lunch rush. Check restrooms and dining
areas. Monitor various operations: trash disposal, check change
in cash registers, etc.
1:00 Supervise employee breaks. Check soft-serve machines.
Interview prospective employees. Conduct new employee training.
Check cleanliness of bathrooms, dining area, etc. Finish placing
orders for food, soft-serve mix and other supplies.
4:00 End of shift. Night manager arrives.
An earth-shaking confluence of teen favorites is set to occur:
Anna Kournikova is coming to MTV. The tennis vixen recently
completed two days of filming for Enrique Iglesias's video
Escape. Both model Gisele Bundchen and actress Kate Hudson had
been considered for the role, but Kournikova (right) got the
only firm offer. Production got off to a slow start when
Kournikova arrived an hour late on the first day because an
earlier photo shoot had run long. Also, according to a source on
the set, crew members were instructed not to chat with her.
Contrary to reports, however, Iglesias didn't balk at his
kissing scenes with the Russian pinup because of pimples near
her mouth, nor did Anna burst into tears over the situation.
Although she did have zits on her chin, says the insider,
Kournikova and Iglesias were happy to smooch for the cameras,
and they flirted throughout the shoot. As for her complexion,
all will be cleared up in postproduction....
David Justice, who's tied up in a bitter palimony suit with
ex-fiancee Nicole Foster, is expecting a child with his new
wife, Rebecca, a calendar model. The Justices, who were wed last
February, are hoping for a girl, whom they would name Esperanza.
Meanwhile, Foster's attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, is happy that
David is now with the A's. Mitchelson feels that will bolster
his efforts to get Foster's case heard in California, a state
with more favorable palimony laws than those in Ohio, where
Justice's lawyers want the trial because he keeps a place in
ABC has tapped John McEnroe to emcee The Chair, in which
contestants get hooked up to a heart monitor and then get
interrogated by Big Mac. The contestant needs to answer
questions correctly without having his heart rate rise above a
certain level. "The show is about controlling your mind and body
under intense pressure, which is what John's all about," says
Andrea Wong, ABC's senior VP of specials, who adds that McEnroe
was her first choice. "He brings the same edge you saw on the
tennis court to the show."
Players on the Indians 2002 wall calendar--which features a
photo of one player for each month--who are no longer with
Cleveland (Roberto Alomar, Dave Burba, Marty Cordova, Juan
Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton).
Sentence, in months in the slammer and hours of community
service, respectively, given as a result of the racketeering
conviction of Steve Kaplan, former owner of Atlanta's Gold Club,
where numerous sports stars received sexual favors.
Black players expected to play in the Blues-Oilers game on Jan.
15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a total that equals 54%
of the blacks in the NHL.
Odds overcome by hemophiliac Tony David, 34, to win the World
Darts Championship in England; besides beating the oddsmakers,
David, who won $70,000, has overcome arthritis and bleeding in
his joints that make him unable to straighten his throwing arm.
He wasn't expected to live past age 20.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Damir Dokic, tennis player Jelena Dokic's father, whose pattern
of drunken and abusive behavior has led to his being banned from
numerous events, is the pitchman in a series of ads for
automaker and event sponsor Kia to be aired Down Under during
the Australian Open.
"Only Mark Cuban could make enemies of the soft-serve ice cream
community." PAGE 26
They Said It
Trailblazers swingman, on Portland's 18-19 start, during which he
missed 17 games because of nagging injuries: "I'm sick and tired
of being sick and tired."