What does it all mean for sports' future? "I used to work for Miller, and we thought beer was recession-proof," says Burton, who cites the traditional "sacred male verities"—beer, war and sports—as impervious to economic downturns. America, this theory goes, needs its brewskis, its Russkies, its Ted Kluzewskis. And we will spare no expense in pursuit of them.
Or will we? Rookie quarterback Joey Harrington signed for $36.5 million with the Detroit Lions last week, or $20 million less than Akili Smith did just three years ago, when he was also the No. 3 pick in the draft. Sports, it seems, can no longer keep up with war and beer. We'll still pay dearly to get bombs and to get bombed. But throwing them is no longer worth what it used to be.