- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
One by-product of the fast-improving performances in the mile is that the last ramparts of what used to be known as the four-minute barrier, one breached for the first time by Roger Bannister in 1954, have come tumbling down with a resounding thud. John Walker of New Zealand, a 29-year-old former world-record holder, has run so many sub-four-minute miles that he has literally lost count—Track & Field News puts the number at more than 60—and Steve Scott of the U.S. has gone under four minutes more than 50 times. There are three runners named Gonzalez—Alex and Francis Gonzalez of France (no kin) and Jose-Luis Gonzalez of Spain—who have broken not just four minutes, but 3:53. Two brothers have broken four minutes in the same race. On Aug. 8, 1980, Paul and John Craig of Canada ran 3:57.21 and 3:58.05, respectively, in a race in West Berlin won by Thomas Wessinghage in 3:55.04. In that mile, Antti Loikkanen of Finland clocked 3:58.96 to finish 13th. On the same day, Walker won a mile in London in 3:54.38, a race in which 11 others also broke four minutes. In other words, at least 25 sub-fours were run on the same day. And Ovett, Coe, Scott, Sydney Maree and Eamonn Coghlan weren't in either race.
Bring on the 3:30 barrier.
ANOTHER NAME ON THE SICK LIST
ZENGER, ZIEGLER & JOE
Spoiled by the free and often uncritical publicity lavished on their teams by fawning members of the media, people in pro sports sometimes seem shocked when journalists actually try to tell it like it is. A case in point: Washington Redskin Public Relations Director Joe Blair was discomfited when former Washington Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, now a sportscaster for the local radio station carrying Redskin games, dared question current Quarterback Joe Theismann's grace under fire and accused Theismann's teammates of a lack of aggressiveness during the then-winless Redskins' 30-17 loss to the 49ers on Oct. 4. After Jurgensen further criticized the team on TV the next day, Blair distributed to selected reporters something called "Notes Regarding Sonny Jurgensen," in which it was pointed out that the Redskins were a sub-.500 club when Jurgensen was the quarterback and that he was the signal-caller in 1965, the last time they had an 0-5 start. Blair's incipient smear campaign was quickly disavowed by Bobby Beathard, the Redskins' general manager, who, not incidentally, had publicly voiced the same criticisms about Theismann & Co. that Jurgensen did.
A second case in point: NHL President John Ziegler reportedly was irked by something another athlete-turned-color man, Phil Esposito, who was recently hired to work on the Rangers' telecasts, said during a preseason game against the Islanders. Describing a bench-clearing brawl, Esposito correctly noted that the melee wouldn't have occurred had the referee enforced rules ostensibly meant to crack down on the third man in a fight. The Boston Herald American's Tim Horgan reported that Ziegler later asked Esposito to mute his criticism of referees in the future. Considering his own culpability in encouraging brawling as a way of hyping the gate at NHL games—lax referees, in fact, are only doing his bidding—Ziegler should have been relieved that Espo didn't direct his criticism at the right target.
By coincidence,-some of Esposito's former Ranger teammates have also been inconvenienced by his on-the-air remarks. As Esposito told Horgan, "I spoke to the entire team one day, and I told them I was going to try to be honest and fair on TV and if they didn't like something I said, to please remember that it was only my opinion and I was only doing my job. But it hasn't worked out that way, of course." When it comes to waging a fearless defense of the right of free speech, the Ranger players don't exactly invite comparison with John Peter Zenger. They do, however, make you think of Joe Blair and John Ziegler.
MAPLE LEAF RAG