Reached on Sunday at his Manhattan art gallery, McEnroe said he appreciates Tarango's invitation but has other opponents in mind. "My goal is to be the George Foreman of tennis," said McEnroe. "He's very smart in selecting his opponents. But I welcome Jeff's offer, and I'll put him on the list." McEnroe already has one high-profile tournament on his 1999 schedule: He says he plans to play mixed doubles with Steffi Graf at Wimbledon.
As for his increasingly outspoken role as the self-styled conscience of tennis, Mac says that he intends to keep charging the net. "I love the game, but let's face it, it has problems," he says. "Tennis needs someone with a strong personality who has the respect of the players and can go to bat for them. I think I have what it takes."
Déjà Vu Vols
Over-Manning The Position?
A much-hyped son of a former NFL star commits to playing quarterback at Tennessee. Hailed as the nation's best high school passer. A real leader. Poise out the wazoo. A few days later a less-hyped high school quarterback also commits to Tennessee. Hailed as one of the nation's best high school passers. Strong arm. Runs well.
Sound familiar? It does to A.J. Suggs, who remembers the hoopla five years ago when Peyton (Son of Archie) Manning committed to play for the Volunteers. Suggs also recalls that during the same week, blue-chip passing prospect Branndon Stewart announced that he, too, would join the Vols. (Stewart ended up transferring to Texas A&M a year later and has had an up-and-down career in College Station.) "Both those guys were great quarterbacks," says Suggs, "and they wanted to compete. It's not much different now."
Now, though, the man in Peyton's place is Chris (Son of Phil) Simms, and the new Stewart is, well, Suggs. "I know I'm the underdog," says the 6'4", 205-pound Suggs, who passed for 2,227 yards and 23 touchdowns this year as a senior at McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga. "I've seen Chris on tape. I know what everyone says about him. But I'm a competitor. Whatever the situation, I do everything I can to win."
Simms, a 6'5", 218-pound coach's dream from Ramapo (N.J.) High, is "the whole package," says Allen Wallace, editor of the recruiting magazine SuperPrep. "He's a quarterback with no negatives."
Suggs has negatives. His throwing motion is less than classic, and while Simms has benefited from his father's tutelage, Suggs remains a neophyte when it comes to such advanced skills as reading defenses. Still, A.J. has plenty of pluses, starting with his size. "He was almost 12 pounds at birth—a big baby," says his father, Mike, who coached A.J. through Pop Warner football, starting him at fullback, then shifting him to linebacker and finally to quarterback after A.J. "learned how to be tough." He's also smart and forward-looking: Suggs hit the books hard and plans to graduate from high school a semester early, which will allow him to enroll at Tennessee next month, in time to be eligible for spring practice.
"The Simms boy had better be good, because A.J. is special," says McEachern High coach Jim Dorsey. "He's intelligent and humble, and he's got some real god-given talent. I hate to put this on him, but he reminds me a lot of Peyton."
Floating Football Field
Last year the Academy of Architecture, Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles gave architects a field goal: Design a football stadium that could lure the NFL back to L.A. Shih-Fu Peng and Roisin Heneghan won first prize with Bigfoot, an 80,000-seat floating facility complete with helipads, a parking lot and mall space for anchor stores like Barnes & Noble. The proposed field, which the architects say could ride piggyback on a supertanker moored at the end of Santa Monica Pier, would be ideal for today's fickle franchises. "Should the team be sold, the stadium could go along with it," says Peng. A club Bigfooting it out of L.A. might wind up in Florida, circled by tailgators.