By Jason White, a roller-coaster week that ended the same way it began: with the quarterback who put up huge numbers while leading Oklahoma to two national title games hoping for the opportunity to prove himself to an NFL team. Last Thursday he was temporarily spared having to rehearse saying, "Hi, I'm 2003 Heisman winner Jason White. Can I interest you in some life insurance?" when the Chiefs invited him to their rookie minicamp. But after the three-day session the team decided not to invite him back to its next minicamp, in June.
White threw for 3,205 yards last year--253 more than top pick Alex Smith--but two surgically repaired knees and questions about his arm strength scared off teams, and he went undrafted. "His head was hanging," says his father, Ron, who owns White Concrete, an Oklahoma City floor-and-driveway operation. "So I joked with him a little. I said, 'You know I've always got a shovel waiting for you.'" Fellow ex-Sooner and 1969 Heisman winner Steve Owens, who now sits on the board of directors of an Oklahoma life insurance company, offered to find him work.
After three days of moping around his parents' house, he was thrown a football lifeline. Chiefs president Carl Peterson, who had met White at a postseason banquet, persuaded coach Dick Vermeil to bring White to camp. (Vermeil had dismissed White as a prospect after the draft.) But the Chiefs had five other quarterbacks, including seventh-round draft pick James Kilian of Tulsa. Kilian survived the cut, leaving White once again looking for work. "I've got to eat, and I've got to pay bills," said White. "I think given the right situation and [if I] work on certain areas of my game, I could [keep playing]. But who knows if that situation will come up."
By the NBA, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, who accused officials of applying an unfairly tough standard to Houston center Yao Ming. The league fined Van Gundy $100,000, the biggest fine ever levied against a coach. Van Gundy claimed a referee told him that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had complained to the league about Yao's play and that supervisor of officials Ronnie Nunn then instructed officials to keep an eye on Yao, who fouled out of the first game of the Rockets-Mavericks series in 20 minutes. The NBA denied the claim, and Cuban called it "crazy."
May 8, 2005
At 67 of heart disease, former cornerback Johnny Sample (above), who played in two of the NFL's most important games. As a rookie he played on the Baltimore Colts' team that won the 1958 NFL Championship Game over the Giants, the first pro game to go to overtime. And in his final game he intercepted a pass in Super Bowl III, helping the Jets upset the Colts. Sample picked off 41 passes in his career. After retiring, Sample--who was always outspoken, especially when it came to the treatment of African-American players in the NFL--wrote a controversial autobiography, Confessions of a Dirty Ballplayer.
At 95, Reginald (Red) Horner, a former Maple Leafs defenseman who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965. Horner was thought by the NHL to have been the oldest living former NHL player; if not, he was most likely the oldest living former enforcer. Playing on a team that was loaded with Hall of Famers, Horner took it upon himself to look after his teammates, and in the process he led the NHL in penalty minutes eight times in his 12-year career. "Do one of us dirt and you had to deal with Red," former teammate King Clancy once told The Toronto Star. "That was absolutely no fun at all."
In a motorcycle accident near his suburban Cleveland home, Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. On Sunday, Winslow, 21, was riding his new red Suzuki GSX-R750 in a parking lot at 7:25 p.m. when he hit a curb at about 35 mph. He flipped over the bike's handlebars and came down in a landscaped area. (He was wearing a helmet, but it wasn't buckled properly and flew off his head.) Winslow, complaining of chest pains, was rushed to the hospital; as of Monday the Browns would say only that his injuries weren't life-threatening. "He was real evasive about what his injuries were," said Westlake police lieutenant Ray Arcuri. Since he was riding without a learner's permit, Arcuri said, Winslow could face charges of reckless operation and operating without a valid driver's license. The Browns' first-round draft pick in 2004, Winslow missed most of his rookie year after suffering a broken leg in his second game but was expected to be healthy for the coming season.
After making racially insensitive comments about one of his players, Oklahoma baseball coach Larry Cochell. While talking to an ESPN crew member before the Sooners' April 26 game against Wichita State, Cochell, 65, praised outfielder Joe Dunigan III, who is black, for staying in school, saying, "There's no n----- in him." The network said Cochell later made another similar remark. Neither conversation was recorded, but last Friday ESPN told university officials about the incidents. Cochell, who was 511-336-1 in 15 years, resigned on Sunday--even though Dunigan said he should keep his job. Cochell said his comments "created an impression contrary to my own personal values and my respect for all people."