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Hell on Wheels

Oct. 06, 2003
Oct. 06, 2003

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Oct. 6, 2003

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Hell on Wheels

Jocks can't drive. Jail Blazer Rasheed Wallace was stopped in
Portland last week for erratic driving and now has more points in
the DMV than in the NBA. So let's revoke their licenses.

This is an article from the Oct. 6, 2003 issue Original Layout

Except that jocks drive without them. When 'Sheed was stopped for
erratic driving, his license had been suspended for more days
than he has. So let's refuse to insure athletes.

But jocks drive without valid proof of insurance. Indeed, Wallace
was doing just that when he was stopped for driving erratically,
with a suspended license. So let's pull all athletes off the
road.

Trouble is, jocks can't park. Soon after Florida State
quarterback Chris Rix was fined for parking in a handicapped
space two weeks ago, he was ticketed for parking in a space
reserved for patients at a campus rehabilitation center. So let's
impound the cars of all athletes.

Trouble with that is, jocks on foot are a real menace to
motorists. Fresno State basketball player Terry Pettis last week
turned himself in to the police after allegedly kicking the
Quaker State out of his former girlfriend's parked car. So let's
bar athletes from their own cars and the parked cars of their
loved ones.

The problem here is that jocks on foot might then vandalize the
rides of strangers. Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski,
already on probation for misdemeanor drunken driving, was
arrested last week in Walnut Creek, Calif., for allegedly ripping
the mirror off a car in a supper club's parking lot. It may have
been an accident, as Janikowski claims. Or the nocturnal,
mirror-averse, black-wearing Eastern European might in fact be
Dracula. In either event, let's assign police officers to follow
athlete-pedestrians on all their late-night constitutionals.

Except that jock pedestrians tailed by cops would still disrupt
traffic while locomoting. Darrell Armstrong of the New Orleans
Hornets was charged in August with battery on a law-enforcement
officer after allegedly standing, at 2:35 a.m., in the middle of
a downtown Orlando street and then assaulting the officer who
tried to escort him to the sidewalk. Armstrong said he was
strong-armed from behind by the officer. Still, let's bar
athletes from going anywhere near their own cars, the cars of
their loved ones and the cars of strangers and the police.

Except that jocks are a peril near any manner of mechanized
conveyance. The assaulted officer in the Armstrong case--a 5'4"
woman--was from the bicycle unit. So to ensure public safety,
let's make all cops use only medieval modes of transportation.

Alas, Seattle SuperSonics center Art Long was charged in college
with punching a police horse. But he was acquitted.

Still, if you see an athlete driving or walking on any road, you
might preemptively alert a perambulating policeman. Here's hoping
that Los Angeles Clippers center Olden Polynice, who was charged
twice in 2000 with impersonating a police officer in road
rage-related incidents (he eventually accepted plea bargains),
isn't the first respondent on the scene.

If sports and society are to coexist, we must find a way to get
all athletes safely to and from the stadiums. "We'll have to have
their mamas pick them up after practice," Barry Switzer, then the
Dallas Cowboys' coach, proposed nine years ago after a 17-day
span in which four Cowboys were in car crashes, including modern
sport's greatest automotive mishap: Emmitt Smith's running his
Lexus into a Honda driven by Troy Aikman's personal shopper.

World-class athletes, unlike Rain Man, are not excellent drivers.
Why is it they know what to do in the clutch but not with one?
The only solution is to let all athletes drive but have the
government label their cars so the rest of us can steer clear of
them.

Of course, we already have this system. Police once stopped Jose
Canseco in a red Jaguar whose license plates helpfully read MR
40-40, while Scottie Pippen was stopped in a car whose vanity
plates heralded DA PIP. (The plates on his other cars, at the
time, were MR PIP and BULLS 33.) Florida State's Rix had his
uniform number, 16, on the side of his SUV, even as he had a
disabled tag hanging from his rearview mirror. (As a freshman,
Rix famously arrived on campus in a black Mustang with vanity
plates LK OUT DB.)

On the road, from behind smoked windows, athletes want you to
know they are who you think they are. (And so O.J. Simpson owned
a red Ferrari whose plate said JUICES.) Nonathletes want you to
know they're not who you think they are. (Which explains these
plates on a white Bronco once seen in the Oakland Coliseum
parking lot: AINT OJ.)

Is that Karl Malone? IT IS, declared the Mailman's motorcycle
plates. Is that Allen Iverson? Uh, no: AI-MVP hangs on a
Philadelphia postal worker's Hyundai Elantra.

Still, as a public service, we should point out that it was
Warren Sapp you saw (QB KILLA), or Kory Bailey (THRW2ME), or
Maurice Greene (MO GOLD), or Red Auerbach (CELTICS), or Lisa
Leslie (LL WNBA), or Michael Irvin (PLYMKR), or Gary Payton (2
GEE PEE), or Ken Griffey Jr. (WICKID 1), or Shaquille O'Neal
(7XLARGE, DUNKON-U, SHAQNIFCNT).

America, UR4WARND.

B/W PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER

Top athletes, unlike Rain Man, are not excellent drivers. They
know what to do in the clutch but not with one.