SI Vault
January 11, 1999
NFL Follies Two-Point Perversion
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January 11, 1999


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The latter view might play best in light of recent weeks' events. On Christmas Day, British balloonist Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group business empire, was plucked with his two copilots from shark-infested waters off Hawaii. Thus ended Branson's third attempt at an around-the-world flight, but after conceding that he has "definitely used up my nine lives," he didn't rule out another try.

Two days later, 90-mph winds and three-story-high waves killed six sailors in the 54th Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race. Of the 115 boats that began the race, only 45 finished. The winning skipper was software mogul Larry Ellison, whose crew included Lochlan Murdoch, son of Rupert.

Thrill seeking by super-successful businessmen, from Howard Hughes to Ted Turner to today's daredevils, may reveal an alpha-male drive toward displays of dominance or simply a need for a hobby more exciting than golf. "If everyone had the financial resources and the contacts I have, everyone would do it," says Liniger, 52, currently stuck in Alice Springs, Australia, waiting out bad weather as he prepares for a launch this Saturday. He says he is confident he and his fellow balloonist Bob Martin will succeed—or at least survive—despite the fact that no one has ever flown such a craft so high or landed one so large.

Suing the Marlins
Lousy Reception

The future looked sunny when Miami's WQAM agreed to pay $15 million to be the Florida Marlins' flagship radio station from 1997 through 2001. The Marlins drew thousands of loyal listeners en route to winning the World Series in their first season on WQAM. But like everything else touched by owner Wayne Huizenga's dismantling of the Marlins, the radio deal went bad last year as the smelly Fish lost 108 games.

Last week WQAM sued the club and Huizenga, claiming that Florida's fire sale cost the station dearly. The station wants a rebate and a reduction in rights fees.

The Los Angeles Clippers can only hope KEZY never hears about this.

Whippet Whirlwind
This Is Your Dog On Chocolate

Upper lips are trembling in England's whippet-racing circles. A furor over dog doping has rocked the gentlemanly sport since the British Whippet Racing Association (BWRA) recently introduced drug testing. After several of the lean, hyper canines flunked tire tests, the association banned their owners. The inside dope: The animals came up positive for theobromine and caffeine. The source: chocolate, a popular dog treat in Britain.

Whippet owners howled. With no prize money or betting in their sport, they said, they had no reason to cheat. "People's lives are being ruined," whined dog owner Mark Pettitt. Still, the BWRA refused to roll over.

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