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Enhanced view (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday February 20, 2008 9:27AM; Updated: Thursday February 21, 2008 7:37PM
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Steroids followed, then the ban of steroids, then Human Growth Hormone, which is still basically terra incognita. Sign stealing, the other dark spectre on today's horizon? Well, it was mostly a game. In baseball it had been going on for years. In football, there was the famous Spy In The Tree incident, Cowboy scout Bucko Kilroy supposedly flushed out of a tree, spying on Rams' practices. There have been a million instances of sideline phones going out, of stolen playbooks. But things seem different now, more technical.

The Patriots stories won't go away. Matt Walsh, the guy who supposedly taped the Rams' pre-Super Bowl, Friday practice, is in hiding in Hawaii, refusing to come out unless he is guaranteed immunity from any conceivable kind of legal action. Does he have more evidence than has been revealed? Who knows? The guy does not carry an aura of truth about him. Did Roger Goodell destroy incriminating evidence? What don't we know about? Who knows? Did Bill Belichick really think that it was OK to tape the stuff his guys taped? Beats me. Who can believe anybody connected with this thing?

Baseball runs a parallel course in non-believability. Andy Pettitte led us through an emotional mea culpa, but collected little support in so doing. Even Roger Clemens, who held his own in a rather arrogant confrontation with a congressional committee last week, seemed to have more support. I mean, he acted the way a rogue is supposed to act, tough, with little remorse.

Personally, I'm trying hard to avoid the disgusted fan's response of throwing up both hands and yelling, "Enough! Do anything you want to each other, to youself. Drug yourself, poison yourself. Spy on each other and tell everybody what geniuses you are. We'll still watch you because there's nothing to take your place."

I'm just so sick of reading things that are labeled "testimony." Thank God I'm going on vacation soon.

Boycotting the combine

The Combine workouts begin this week. I won't be there. I understand they're going to have them anyway. They used to be absolutely secret deals -- only the athletes, their relatives and about 40 million agents. Writers need not apply. Stay out. Beware the dog! This means you! No pasaran!

Now they're an ongoing feature of the NFL Network. I don't know what the coverage will be like because I've never seen it, but one thing is the same. Writers once again are not permitted to the inner sanctum. Interview areas are set up all over the place, and the press can have the pleasure of crowding like ants around the athletes after they've done what they're paid to do, hopeful of maybe a further moment alone with an agent or personnel director.

There's absolutely no reason why the press should be banned from the inner sanctum, except for the fact that that's the way the NFL always has done it. You know, the old Emerson quote -- "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." The writers could be sitting in the stands of the RCA Dome, or up in the press box, taking notes, minding their P's and Q's, as well behaved as little troopers, answering the call when interviews are set up, just as they do at the NFL draft. But no, the NFL has decided this must be a secret event, except for their own network, of course.

So if you don't want me, Combine people, then you'll have to get by without my help. What bothers me is that my fellow journalists are willing to take any kick in the teeth the NFL dishes out and remain smiling. In the old days, when the labor movement was alive and well in our country, you might have had a chance of organizing the writers into a massive boycott. Let 'em do it without us ... waddya say? Everybody stay away! No chance now. You'd never get all those talk radio people to fall in line, and besides, most newspaper owners are on a social footing with club owners. Their sentiments lie in that direction.

So have a nice Combine, NFL. Have fun covering it, fellow writers. I'll get a printout of the results sneaked to me at the league meetings, and I'll sit down and study the numbers for about 48 hours, as I always do. You don't want me, I don't want you. I've got my own friends to play with.

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