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October 19, 1998
DeBartolo Cuts a Deal More Dirt to Come?
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October 19, 1998


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Should Rodman Become A Full-time Action Hero?




The walking Photo-op has hinted That that's what he wants to do, and I support him. Chicago was the only team that could have gotten honest effort out of Rodman in recent years, and the Bulls as we know them are probably done. A mediocre 1998 postseason is a hint that hoops aren't Rodman's No. I priority. The sooner he jumps to movies full time, the sooner we'll discover that his only real talent was rebounding, and Rodman will wind up on the pop culture scrap heap.
—Phil Taylor

Despite his marginalization during the Bulls' run to the 1998 title, a motivated Rodman (a method player, if not a method actor) remains a rebounding presence. Chicago looks to be in turnaround, as they say in Hollywood, but any contender should at least consider finding a part for a player as seasoned and—when he wants to show it—talented as Rodman. Besides, to judge by Double Team, Rodman is likely to sell more tickets in arenas than in theaters.
—Richard O'Brien

DeBartolo Cuts a Deal
More Dirt to Come?

There appears to be no legal reason to keep Eddie DeBartolo, under suspension from the NFL until February, from retaking control of his beloved San Francisco 49ers next season. The federal offense to which he pleaded guilty on Oct. 6 as part of a deal with the government—he was put on two years' probation and assessed $1 million in fines and forfeitures—is a relatively minor one: He failed to report a serious crime, which in legal lingo is known as "misprision of a felony" By agreeing to sing to the FBI about alleged underhanded dealings of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, DeBartolo would seem to have joined the side of the angels.

But there is a practical reason that NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue should delay a decision about DeBartolo's return: the possibility that DeBartolo and, by association, the NFL will be embarrassed should Edwards go to trial for extortion in Louisiana. Charges against the silky-smooth Edwards appear inevitable. The feds have been after him for years (Edwards, who has never been convicted of anything, brags that 22 grand juries have investigated him), and their case against him this time includes hours of tape of Edwards's conversations.

In March 1997, DeBartolo gave $400,000 in cash to Edwards as part of DeBartolo's attempt to obtain a riverboat casino license in Louisiana (SCORECARD, Dec. 15, 1997 et seq.). According to FBI investigators—who bugged the former governor's phones and offices and kept him under surveillance for at least two years—DeBartolo and Edwards held a meeting at a Baton Rouge bar in March 1997, during which Edwards showed DeBartolo a piece of paper on which Edwards had written "$400,000." The feds say Edwards told DeBartolo that he needed the money before the vote was taken on DeBartolo's license application. According to the FBI, Edwards made several other demands for money during conversations with DeBartolo. The feds also have Edwards on tape talking to his son, Stephen, about what he was going to say to get more money out of DeBartolo: "You know, I've enjoyed working with you, I appreciate your friendship...but we've come to the point now where if this thing is gonna work, we have to have an understanding.... I want one percent of gross gaming revenue...."

According to the FBI, DeBartolo first resisted paying the 400 grand but finally gave in. In that interpretation of DeBartolo's actions, he is merely the victim of a sleazebag who had the political clout to thwart his hopes of entering the casino business in Louisiana.

Should DeBartolo be forced to take the stand, however, Edwards's lawyers will go after the Eddie-as-victim portrayal with a sledgehammer. DeBartolo will likely be grilled on his successes in real estate and his failures in the gaming business. Edwards's people will no doubt portray DeBartolo as a poor little rich kid who is clueless about the casino industry—it's a matter of record that DeBartolo has lost millions in various casino ventures—and needed Edwards's help in Louisiana to succeed.

The league should stand clear of DeBartolo until it is certain mat that courtroom horror show won't take place—or until the show is over.

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Poultry Packer

A new television commercial has ruffled some feathers among People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA has come out in protest against the Nike spot that shows Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle John Randle painstakingly sewing a tiny Brett Favre number 4 Green Bay Packers jersey, chasing a jersey-clad chicken around a yard and, finally, grilling the bird.

PETA seems to be taking tilings too seriously. Now, if they showed Randle actually choking the chicken....

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