Jimmy Johnson loses a gamble on two troubled Dolphins rookies
For the Miami Dolphins, whose guiding philosophy is, If you're not in leg irons, we have a spot for you, it was business as usual last week.
Running back Cecil Collins was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on Dec. 16 and charged with burglary. Davie, Fla., police say Collins, 23, climbed through a window in the ground-floor apartment of a neighbor, Tina Nolte, at 5 a.m. He entered her bedroom, where she was sleeping with her husband, Ronald. Confronted by Ronald, Collins ran back to the window and dived through headfirst. Collins's lawyer disputes the allegations. Collins has a history of harassing women, which was one reason that he fell to the fifth round in the 1999 draft. But it wasn't reason enough for Miami not to take him.
The day after Collins's arrest the Dolphins released another troubled rookie, defensive end Dimitrius Underwood, who earlier in the week had gone over the fence at a suburban Miami mental-health center. Underwood was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings but was released after he walked out of training camp on Aug. 2. That sent up flags around the league, but not in Miami, where Jimmy Johnson claimed him on waivers. On Sept. 26 Underwood was found on a Lansing, Mich., street bleeding from a self-inflicted neck wound.
Collins and Underwood are only the most recent bad boys accepted into J.J.'s halfway house. Current players Robert Baker, Tony Martin and Lamar Thomas have all been in trouble with the law. And there is, of course, Johnson's dalliance with serial badass Lawrence Phillips, who was picked up in December 1997, one month after being waived by the St. Louis Rams. Johnson said, "Here, he'll have to be responsible for himself." After being arrested and charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery for striking a woman in a nightclub in '98, Phillips was released by the Dolphins. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six months' probation.
Underwood is reportedly with his family in Philadelphia. At week's end Collins was in a Broward County jail awaiting a bail hearing. No stranger to the legal process, Collins was arrested twice in 1998 while attending LSU, both times on charges of breaking into a woman's apartment. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of simple battery and two felony counts of unauthorized entry and was put on four years' probation. Yet, the Dolphins drafted him in the fifth round in '99.
Collins told his agent, Jimmy Sexton, that he and Tina Nolte had a relationship and that the window was his customary mode of entry. The Noltes deny that Collins and Tina had any relationship. Collins also said last week, "I just made a mistake." So did Johnson.
Samaranch: Artful Dodger
IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch delivered an effective filibuster at a congressional hearing in Washington last week. Days after the IOC overwhelmingly passed 50 reforms in Lausanne, Samaranch emerged as a shrewd politician who would not wilt under Capitol Hill pressure. The stakes were high-Congress could have lifted the IOC's tax-exempt status in the U.S. In April representatives Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) and Rick Lazio (R., N.Y.) had introduced legislation to limit revenue from U.S. television rights and sponsorship fees unless the IOC could prove it had curtailed its abuses.
Several IOC members urged Samaranch not to testify, but he has long been a sort of Teflon Juan. He deftly removed the taint of having been a functionary in the Franco regime by becoming Spain's ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1977. He also anticipated public opinion by opening Olympic sports to professionalism after becoming president in 1980 and showed his diplomatic skills by coaxing hostile nations onto the same playing field on several occasions.