DID I SAY THAT?
Jim Rooker just couldn't help himself. When the Pirates jumped to a 10-0 first-inning lead over the Phillies at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in June, Rooker, a Pittsburgh broadcaster, said over the air, "If we don't win this one, I don't think I'd want to be on that plane ride home. As a matter of fact, if we don't win, I'll walk back to Pittsburgh." Naturally, the Pirates fell apart and lost 15-11.
Rooker, the radio station and the Pirates have received so many calls and letters concerning his promise that Rooker, a former big league pitcher, has decided to follow through. On Oct. 5, four days after the regular season ends, he will begin the 300-mile trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Until then, he's soliciting donations for Rook's Unintentional Walk, which will benefit various charities.
Shortly after the 15-11 debacle, the Pirates took a 10-0 lead in St. Louis. Lanny Frattare, Rooker's broadcast partner, looked over and said, "And if we lose this game?"
"If we lose this game," replied Rooker, "then our road record will be 11-23."
With a severity of tone that should have fooled no one, the NFL announced on Aug. 29 that 13 players had tested positive for anabolic steroids and would be suspended for 30 days. While the Unclean 13 are probably not the only NFLers "on juice," they are certainly the most moronic.
A full five months earlier, all players had been notified that they would be tested for steroids at training camp. A player with even a rudimentary understanding of steroids knows that if he stops taking the drugs about a month before a test, he probably will escape detection. Because the league conducts no further testing during the season, a player could resume his steroid cycle after training camp.
During a Monday Night Football telecast on the eve of the league's announcement of the suspensions, ABC broadcaster and former All-Pro lineman Dan Dierdorf said that the small number of positive tests disproved those critics who contend that the NFL is suffering from a steroid epidemic. One of those critics is Atlanta Falcon offensive guard Bill Fralic, a four-year NFL vet, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May that 75% of the linemen in the league use steroids. Also appearing at the same hearings was NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, who said, "Candidly, I cannot guarantee that our testing has detected, or will detect, every steroid user in the NFL."
The 13 players busted last week either didn't get the memo in March informing them of the tests or made mistakes in dosage or timing. As unaware as the Unclean 13 may have been, they're no less ignorant than anyone who contends that this latest round of tests accurately reflects the rate of steroid use in the NFL.