To paraphrase Freud, why the heck do so many women want to play
full-contact football? At a WPFL tryout camp in Texas, SI's
Kelley King began to understand
In October 1999 I covered the very first game of the Women's
Professional Football League, in which the Lake Michigan Minx
outplayed and generally womanhandled the Minnesota Vixens. I
spent most of the game wincing, but I was also intrigued. I'd
played high school softball, Division I field hockey and almost
every recreational sport there is, but I'd never known what it
was like to maul or be mauled in a football game. So when I heard
that the WPFL had grown from two to 19 teams and spawned two
rival leagues, I decided to find out, firsthand. Last Saturday,
before my mother, husband or my own better judgment could
intervene, I went to Pearland, Texas, to try out for the WPFL's
three-time champion Houston Energy, the creme de la femme of
How to explain Houston's 30-2 record since '99? One rival player
told me, "They grow 'em big down there." She wasn't kidding.
Walking toward the tryout registration desk, I bumped into the
Serta-sized back of Ali Gillen, who at 5'9", 260 pounds was one
of the puniest of the returning linemen. She stared at my 5'5",
125-pound frame, read my mind about wanting to retreat to the
nearest Starbucks and said, "What's the matter? Dontcha got the
Thinking that "money" was WPFL-speak for "game," I stiffened. "I
got some money," I said.
April 13, 2003
"You sure?" said Gillen, holding up a flyer that itemized the
cost of joining the team. Because the Energy draws barely a
thousand fans a game, players pay for their own uniforms ($530)
and transportation ($500). After the Energy won the title in
2002, owner Robin Howington, an oil-industry executive who has
put more than $140,000 into the team, handed each of her players
a check: $12 for 12 games.
Despite the lack of pay, the scant glory and the prevalence, I'm
told, of a nasty injury known as a "boob bruise," most of last
season's players were back for tryouts. The 100 candidates ranged
in age from 18 to 44 and in size from 5'11", 305-pound offensive
lineman "Big Sue" Roberts, a Wal-Mart cashier, to 5'8", 120-pound
wideout Claudine Workman, a kindergarten teacher. All of the
players (the league includes one neurosurgeon, a few firewomen
and several stay-at-home moms) were prepared to spend their
autumns practicing twice a week for what Sue called "an
opportunity of a lifetime."
While we warmed up for our four-hour workout, I found out that
most women are drawn to football for the same reason men are: the
opportunity to be aggressive. Wispy Claudine had settled for ice
hockey as a girl because it was the closest thing to a contact
sport her mother would let her play. And Jerri Martin, a
WNBA-proportioned defensive end, gave me this sell: "For 3 1/2
hours you get to beat the s--- out of someone and not go to
To the chagrin of everyone, there was no hitting during tryouts.
We ran sprints. We dodged cones. We chased down dozens of deep
balls launched by a rocket-armed rookie. Finally we hit the
blocking sled. "You're not going up there to kiss it!" one of the
Energy's four male coaches screamed, as I bounced hopelessly off
the pads. "Go up there and kick its ass."
By the end of tryouts, it was me that was kicked. Sore and
sunburned, I told the coaches not to count on me at mini-camp.
Then I watched a pack of players run some extra routes before
they headed off to lunch at Chili's, chattering with one another
about the coming season the whole way. I realized, while hobbling
to my car, that it would take more than money troubles to sink
this fledgling sport. I may have been out of my league. But Big
Sue, Claudine and hundreds of others have finally found theirs.
Kirby Draws a Walk
The Hall of Fame Twin is found not guilty on all charges
In a rare moment of levity during the trial of baseball Hall of
Famer Kirby Puckett last week in Minneapolis, testimony from an
expert witness was interrupted by a cellphone ringing in the
gallery. The ringer setting? Take Me Out to the Ballgame. While
titters ran through the courtroom, Puckett, 42, remained as stoic
as he was throughout the 11-day trial. But on Thursday, when he
was found not guilty of false imprisonment, fifth-degree criminal
sexual conduct and fifth-degree assault--charges that could have
put him away for up to a year--he was all smiles. "I think justice
was served today," he said. "I want to thank the jury for
understanding and listening to all the facts and making the
decisions. I want to thank them very much."
A woman whom Puckett met at the Redstone American Grill outside
Minneapolis last Sept. 6 said that on that night Puckett forced
her into the men's room and groped her hard enough to bruise her
breast. Puckett maintained that he escorted her in like a
"gentleman" when the ladies' room was fully occupied. After the
verdict several jurors said they didn't buy his version of
events, but that after two days of deliberations they couldn't be
certain Puckett intended to cause harm, as the law requires. "I
didn't believe his story," said juror Carissa Pullis. "He got
away because of how the law is worded. We didn't let our emotions
get involved. If we had, the verdict might have been different."
The prosecution's case was also severely weakened because many of
the witnesses on both sides, including Puckett and the woman,
admitted they had been drinking on the night of the event, thus
discrediting key testimony.
Puckett's supporters hope the acquittal will restore some luster
to the Hall of Famer's once-sparkling reputation. As his trial
neared, SI (March 17) and other publications reported that he had
been unfaithful to his wife for years before their divorce in
2002. His friends would like to see him return to the community
work he's abandoned in the last half year and also get his weight
under control. Puckett was a Twins vice president and one of
their community-service leaders from his retirement in 1996 to
last October, when his contract was not renewed. For now, though,
Puckett seems to want to be as invisible as possible. Asked about
his plans for the future as he left the courthouse following the
verdict last week, an exhausted Puckett said, "I just want to go
home." --George Dohrmann
3 Attempts needed by Mariners rookie manager Bob Melvin to fill
out his Opening Day lineup card; first he failed to list Ichiro
Suzuki's last name, and on his second try he messed up his own
1,108 Career losses for Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens (who became
the league's winningest coach in 1995), an NBA record.
3 Passed balls by the Marlins' Pudge Rodriguez in his first two
games this year, including two in the eighth inning of an April 2
8-2 loss to the Phillies.
2.75 Passed balls per season by Rodriguez with Texas the past
4,511 Minutes played this year by Blue Jackets goalie Marc Denis,
an NHL record.
4 Tigers pitchers (Jeremy Bonderman, Wilfredo Ledezma, Chris
Spurling and Matt Roney) who made their big league debuts in an
8-1 loss to the Twins on April 2, a record for pitching debuts
in a game.
9 Straight division titles won by the Avalanche franchise,
including one as the Quebec Nordiques, an NHL record.
$19.6 million Total salaries for the Devil Rays' 25-man roster
$22 million Salary for Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez this
In an age when high-octane home video games such as Grand Theft
Auto rule the market, the king of the coin-ops relies on a
leisurely roll of a track ball. Since its debut in 1995, Golden
Tee has become the most successful arcade game ever (raking in
about $1 billion), thanks to realistic graphics, wide shot
selection and the fact that it's easier to shoot 65 on a screen
than at the local muni. Bars across the nation are full of guys
ignoring girls and staring at verdant video fairways. Says PGA
Tour vet Peter Jacobsen, a consultant for the game's creator,
Incredible Technologies, Inc. (IT), "It's some form of birth
control, I guess."
Each spring, on a day players describe as a combination of
Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday, IT updates the courses on 25,000
of its 100,000 machines. Demand is so great that bars and arcades
use lottery systems to determine who gets to play; others ask
Golden golfers to call for tee times. Top players qualify for the
national championships, the seventh of which will be held this
weekend in Las Vegas with a grand prize of $15,000. The
tournament's three-time champ, Steven Sobe, 29, of Mount Airy,
N.C., says that including online tournament victories, his career
earnings from Golden Tee are $150,000--which would put him 440th
on the PGA's alltime money list. --Brendan Morgan
FOR THE RECORD
DIED After a long battle with emphysema, while sleeping in his
office chair, handball legend Paul Haber, 66. The Bronx native,
who won five national four-wall championships from 1966 through
'71, dubbed himself "the greatest Jewish athlete in the world."
The first player to use the ceiling to drop a soft shot, he was
also known for his drinking, skirt chasing and chain-smoking.
"It's what most guys want to do, only they won't admit it," Haber
said of his lifestyle. Until his death, Haber, who had been
married four times and was estranged from his three children, was
a petrochemical salesman living in an apartment adjacent to his
office outside San Diego. A collection had to be taken to pay for
his funeral--his cat, some cat food and the $42 in his wallet were
all he had to his name.
RESIGNED Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, architect of the
team's six NBA titles. Though many Chicago players--who weren't
fond of his abrasive, egotistical style--called the 5'6",
220-pound Krause "Crumbs" for the doughnut residue often spotted
on his lapels, Krause also earned the nickname Sleuth for his
knack for spotting talent. Before being hired as Bulls G.M. in
1985, Krause spent two decades as a scout for teams in the NBA
and major league baseball. When he took over the Bulls, they had
a 22-year-old Michael Jordan and little else. Krause assembled a
supporting cast that twice won three straight NBA titles. But
Krause's relationship with coach Phil Jackson deteriorated, and
in '98 Jackson resigned. That prompted Jordan to retire, and the
Bulls (27-50 this year) haven't made the playoffs since. Krause,
64, cited unspecified health concerns for his resignation.
HOOKED By New Zealand fishermen while hunting for Patagonian
toothfish in Antarctica's Ross Sea, a 330-pound, 16-foot colossal
squid. "They were hauling in the fish, and they saw this giant
thing attacking their catch, so they gaffed it and dragged it on
board," said Steve O'Shea, a marine biologist who examined the
squid. Only the second of its kind ever caught, the creature has
giant tentacles with enormous toothlike hooks and the largest
eyes--they're the size of dinner plates--of any animal. The
fishermen gave the female specimen to the Te Papa national museum
in New Zealand for research. "This is a killer squid," said
O'Shea. "From a science point of view, it's absolutely
FEARED By some Iraqi athletes, that evidence of Saddam Hussein's
policy of torturing them and fellow athletes was destroyed when
U.S. bombs struck Iraq's National Olympic Committee headquarters
in Baghdad on March 31. INDICT, a human-rights group, submitted a
complaint to the IOC on behalf of the athletes in December, but
proof that Uday Hussein, Saddam's oldest son and head of Iraq's
Olympic committee (SI, March 24, 2003), used the seven-story
building as a place to beat, humiliate and murder athletes may be
lost in the rubble.
Who's winning the battle, Hootie Johnson or Martha Burk? SI's
Hootometer tells all.
Georgia governor Sonny Perdue suggests Augusta National should
admit women, and Jimmy Carter says Hootie should have handled
conflict in more "harmonious way." Advantage, Burk. Burk likens
dispute to war in Iraq. Advantage, Hootie. Augusta sheriff Ronnie
Strength rules Burk can't protest on sidewalk outside main gate
because it's "too dangerous," and orders her to move protest one
third of a mile away. Advantage, Hootie. Burk, through the ACLU,
appeals in federal court, leaving Hootometer wavering in last
days before Masters showdown.
EXONERATED After an investigation by the Kennel Club in England,
the 3-year-old Pekingese show dog Danny, who had been accused of
having a face-lift. Danny was declared Supreme Champion last
month at Crufts, the world's biggest and most renowned dog show,
which is held in Birmingham, England. The Kennel Club received an
anonymous tip last week saying that before the competition Danny
underwent surgery to remove wrinkles on his face. Danny's owners,
Albert Easdon, 49, and Philip Martin, 50, run a hotel in Glasgow
and have been breeding Pekingese for 30 years. They admitted
Danny went under the knife last July, but only to have
exploratory tonsil surgery. Several days after getting the tip,
the Kennel Club issued a statement saying, "After receiving a
veterinarian and specialist report, we're happy the dog did not
go under any operation that changed its appearance."
Having illegal cosmetic surgery results in a lifetime ban, both
at the Kennel Club in England and the American Kennel Club (AKC);
still, rumors have long abounded at dog shows about tummy tucks,
whisker lifts, tightened eyes, hair extensions and nose dyes. In
the U.S., unlike in most countries, the governing body tolerates
"ear cropping" (the surgical removal of a portion of the ear to
make it erect) and "tail docking" (shortening the tail by cutting
it). Both surgeries are painful and purely cosmetic and have
drawn outrage from animal-rights activists. Tom Bradley, the
chairman of the Westminster Dog Show, defends the practices,
saying, "People are accustomed to seeing cropped ears. Uncropped
ears change the expression and outlook of the animal. Having
uncropped ears goes through as a minus."
Meanwhile in Britain, Crufts best-in-show judge Albert White says
that whoever phoned in the tip on Danny is "small-minded and
extremely envious." As for Danny, he's retiring from the show
circuit and moving on to a new career as a stud dog. "If he wants
to fill his time by having sex, then he can," says Martin. "He
has certainly earned it. I'm sure we will get plenty of offers
now he's a champion." --Julia Morrill
Bodies of Evidence
Forced to use steroids, former East German athletes now seek
"Supporting means" was how East German sports officials referred
to the little blue pills that were carefully meted out through
the 1970s and '80s to their most promising athletes, some as
young as 11. Oral-Turinabol was its scientific name, an anabolic
steroid. When the athletes were told anything at all, they were
told the pills were vitamins. The top-secret program was overseen
by GDR Olympic head Manfred Ewald and administered by Dr. Manfred
Hoeppner. In their efforts to win medals that could be turned
into political gain, they experimented on, lied to and eventually
ruined the health of many of their country's sports stars.
That shameful chapter in Olympic history was reopened on March
31. That's when 197 former East German athletes suffering from a
wide variety of ailments met a deadline to file claims for a
share of the $2.2 million compensation fund that was set up to
help pay for their medical treatment.
Government officials had expected many more to come forward. Of
the roughly 10,000 athletes who were given Oral-Turinabol and
other steroids by their sports club doctors and coaches, usually
without the athletes' knowledge or consent, as many as 1,000 now
have severe health problems. "Many remain silent out of shame,"
says Birgit Boese, a claimant who was East Germany's junior shot
put champion and now runs an advice center called
Doping-Victim-Help. "Others don't want to risk their careers. We
were just a mass of bodies in an inhuman system. We all suffered
severe bodily harm."
For men the health problems caused by prolonged steroid use
ranged from sterility and impotence to damaged hearts and failing
kidneys. There are cases of male athletes who developed womanly
breasts that had to be surgically reduced. Several top hammer
throwers, who were subjected to intense dosages and would now be
in their 40s and 50s, are dead.
For women the little blue pills led in the short term to an
increase in body hair, a deepening of the voice, severe acne and
an increased sex drive. Rica Reinisch, a backstroker who won
three gold medals in the 1980 Olympics, says she and her
teammates called the pill "the sex pill." The long-term side
effects were much worse. Reinisch, who gave up competitive
swimming in '81 at age 16, suffered ovarian infections for many
years and had a miscarriage. Gynecological problems such as
ovarian cysts, infertility and uterine shrinkage were common
among the claimants. In at least 20 cases, according to Werner
Franke, the molecular biologist who uncovered the secret doping
program in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, former
athletes gave birth to children with defects such as clubfeet.
One claimant, '86 European shot put champ Heidi Krieger, cruelly
nicknamed Hormone Heidi by her coaches, has testified to the
German government that she was so physically and psychologically
damaged by the doping that she underwent a sex-change operation
after her competitive career and is now Andreas Krieger, a man.
"They weren't just strengthening women," says Franke, the man
most responsible for pursuing compensation for the athletes.
"They were virilizing them."
Each claimant will receive only about $10,000 from the fund. But
for the athletes, the awards are less about money than an
acknowledgement of what was done to them. Says Boese, "The next
generation has to know." --E.M. Swift
Soccer Two by Four: The WUSA has more twins than any pro sports
Thank goodness for jersey numbers. The WUSA, which kicked off its
third season last week, features four sets of identical twins.
These include the Atlanta Beat's Nancy and Julie Augustyniak (1)
and the Washington Freedom's Jacqui and Skylar Little (3). The
other twins are like the NFL Giants' Tiki Barber and his
identical brother, Ronde, of the Bucs--siblings who get to play
out their rivalry on the field. Lorrie Fair (2, left) of the
Philadelphia Charge meets her sister Ronnie of the San Diego
Spirit in June, and Margaret Tietjen (4, left) of the New York
Power plays sister Jennifer of the Charge on May 17. What's it
like to look across the field and see your game face staring back
at you? "I hate it," Jennifer Tietjen says. "Our parents hope for
a tie." --Melissa Segura
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
SATURDAY 4/12 > ABC 3 PM > NHL Conference Quarterfinals
Peter Forsberg (NHL-best 106 points) and the Avalanche host the
Wild, who've never been to the playoffs, while the Lightning
hosts Jaromir Jagr and the Capitals.
SATURDAY 4/12 > ESPN 7 PM > NCAA Men's Hockey Final
Cornell (30-4-1), the Frozen Four's top seed, is riding a 15-game
unbeaten streak, but the Big Red is the only one of the four
participants--including defending champ Minnesota--that didn't get
this far last year.
SATURDAY 4/12 > HBO PAY-PER-VIEW 9 PM > Marco Antonio Barrera vs.
On paper this shapes up as a chance to watch Barrera, 29, the
heavily favored WBC featherweight champ, paint a picture on the
35-year-old weathered canvas that is Kelley.
SUNDAY 4/13 > ESPN 8 PM > Dodgers at Giants
O.K., so Barry Bonds isn't much for signing autographs or even
for treating fans in a civil manner. At this stage of his career
every at bat is compelling theater.
WEDNESDAY 4/16 > ESPN 7 PM > Wizards at 76ers
Unless Washington can catch the Bucks for the Eastern
Conference's final playoff spot (through Monday the Wizards
trailed by three games with six to play), this will be Michael
Jordan's final NBA game. We think.
>> DON'T MISS
SATURDAY 4/12 > CBS 3:30 PM; SUNDAY 4/13 > 2:30 PM
Hootie, Martha, Jesse Jackson and a Klansman: Get ready for the
Bluster from Augusta. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods shoots for an
unprecedented third straight green jacket, with world No. 2 Ernie
Els pacing the pursuers.
Cherry vs. Canada
A Classy Tribute
--Don Cherry may be a household name in Canada, but he's not above
his employer's reprobation. During his Coach's Corner segment on
CBC's Hockey Night in Canada on March 22, the usually jingoistic
Cherry blasted his country's decision not to participate in the
war in Iraq. Wearing a red-white-and-blue tie, Cherry said, "When
the chips were down, we turned our back on [the U.S.]." Within
days the CBC received more than 1,500 calls and e-mails, most
As the flap was subsiding, Cherry went on Jim Rome's syndicated
radio show on March 31 and called Canada's stance "an
embarrassment" and war protesters "kooks."
Those views were disavowed by the government-owned CBC, and the
network took the video link to the March 22 show off its website.
"This is not a freedom-of-speech issue," CBC's Ruth-Ellen Soles
told SI. "Coach's Corner is for hockey discussions, not political
or war discussions." (Cherry told SI, "I better lay off this for
Yet Cherry's record of sounding off at will is the main reason
CBC pays him a reported $472,000 a year for a weekly seven-minute
gig. During the Gulf War he unfurled a Canadian flag on the air
and blasted the "wimps and creeps" who opposed Canada's
participation. The CBC said nothing then; why is it muzzling him
--It was easy to miss in the 7 1/2 hours of Final Four coverage,
but CBS deserves credit for its moving piece on Bob Ames. A
member of La Salle's 1954 NCAA title team, Ames became the CIA's
top Middle East analyst and died in the 1983 bombing of the U.S.
embassy in Beirut. The producers wisely decided to use Ames's
widow, Yvonne, as the poignant piece's lone narrator. --Pete
Hat tricks are hard to come by in the NHL playoffs. In 90
postseason games last spring there were only three, by the Red
Wings' Brett Hull and Darren McCarty and the Blues' Keith
Tkachuk. On five occasions since 1990 someone has scored four or
more goals in a playoff game. Who was the last to do so?
a. Theo Fleury c. Jaromir Jagr
b. Bill Guerin d. Kevin Stevens
Saving the Day
Postseason success usually revolves around hot goaltending. Which current NHL goalie has the lowest goals-against average in playoff competition (minimum five games)?
This Week's Matchup Pair the NHL Eastern Conference team in
column 1 with the team it has met most often in the playoffs.
1. Devils a. Capitals
2. Penguins b. Maple Leafs
3. Flyers c. Penguins
4. Senators d. Rangers
Call to Order
Rank these 2003 playoff teams in order of the player on their
roster who has the most career playoff goals.
a. Edmonton Oilers c. Ottawa Senators
b. Minnesota Wild d. Tampa Bay Lightning
FAB FOUR: a. Flames winger Theo Fleury (now with the Blackhawks)
lit the lamp four times in a 6-4 win on May 13, 1995, against
the Sharks in San Jose.
SAVING THE DAY: Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes has allowed just
1.62 goals in eight playoff appearances, all in last season's run
to the Stanley Cup Finals. Two of his three wins were shutouts.
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUP: 1. c (five series); 2. a (seven); 3. d
(10); 4. b (three)
CALL TO ORDER: Lightning (Dave Andreychuk, 39 career playoff
goals); Wild (Cliff Ronning, 27); Senators (Daniel Alfredsson, 22); Oilers (Ryan Smyth, 13)
"In an effort to win medals, they experimented on, and ruined the
health of, their sports stars." --BODIES OF EVIDENCE, PAGE 25