- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Football players must be an awfully inattentive lot. Criticized for his longtime practice of slapping players' helmets and grabbing their face masks, Frank Kush, Arizona State's deposed coach, has explained that he was merely trying to gain their attention because he wanted them to "look me in the eye." Two weeks ago Craig Bray, an assistant coach at the University of Nevada-Reno, slapped a player, Jeff Wright, on the helmet during a 38-26 win over Idaho, after which he said, "It was a way of getting his attention." And last week players at Marshall University told The Washington Post that Coach Sonny Randle had yanked their face masks so severely that they feared somebody's neck might be broken. Randle, a former NFL end, replied, "The only thing I've ever done is get a face mask so I can get his attention...to make sure the youngster is looking in my eyes."
The Chicago Tribune recently quoted a football player at an unidentified Illinois high school as saying, "One of our assistant coaches used to actually foam at the mouth.... He'd grab you by the face mask, hit you in the head and call you everything in the book.... He'd throw you into the lockers and slam you around." A former high school player told of having played for a coach who hit players in the head with a broomstick. The Tribune story about such practices was prompted by a one-game suspension of Ed Thomas, longtime coach at Chenoa High School near Bloomington, Ill., for allegedly elbowing a player in the mouth, causing an injury that required several stitches. Thomas insisted that he had simply given the player "what we call in football a forearm shiver to the chest." He also said, "I got his attention, I'll tell you that."
LINEAGE BE DAMNED
Robert Bowie was governor of Maryland in the early 19th century, and the state has a town (Bowie), college (Bowie State) and track (Bowie Race Course) bearing his name. Then there is great-great-grandson Bowie Kuhn, a Maryland native who is also descended from another of the state's early governors, Joseph Kent. But the baseball commissioner's gubernatorial lineage has not prevented him from fining Baltimore Oriole President Jerold Hoffberger $2,500 for letting Maryland's current governor, Harry Hughes, throw out the first ball at the second game of the World Series.
Hoffberger violated an obscure major league rule that prohibits politicians and movie stars from throwing out first balls during World Series. He said he defied the rule because Hughes was a personal friend (not to mention a onetime pitcher in Class D baseball), and he said he might refuse to pay the fine. In his anger, Hoffberger claimed that Richard Nixon had thrown out the first ball at an American League playoff game in Anaheim; in fact, Nixon merely was an honored guest of California Angel owner Gene Autry. However, the Pirates did have Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh hold a ball for photographers before a World Series game in Pittsburgh, after which the widow of former Pirate Manager Danny Murtaugh threw it.
The putdown of Hoffberger—and of Maryland's governor—could scarcely have been more awkward if the commissioner's name were Hughes Kuhn.
YAP, YAP, YAP
You've heard of the Ten Most Wanted list, that Who's Who of fugitives the FBI puts out. Well, now there's a Ten Least Wanted list, a compilation of the worst bellyachers in the National Hockey League as ranked by four long-suffering (and anonymous) referees surveyed by The Montreal Gazette. Asked to name the NHL players they consider the biggest pains in the neck, the refs gave top ranking to New York Ranger Phil Esposito, who they agreed was "a notorious crier." One official elaborated, "Espo is a whiner, especially about guys hanging on to his stick in front of the net."
The runners-up in the survey were, in order, 2) Montreal's Doug Risebrough ("a yappy little s.o.b."), 3) Philadelphia's Bobby Clarke ("especially tough on linesmen"), 4) the Rangers' Ron Greschner ("not a yeller, just a smart ass"), 5) Minnesota's Tim Young ("a constant bitcher"), 6) Toronto's Borje Salming ("feels he's a star and deserving of special protection"), 7) Atlanta's Dan Bouchard ("Call him for interference, he goes bananas"), 8) Pittsburgh's Dale Tallon ("He'll always make a situation worse by saying something"), 9) Boston's Dick Redmond ("He'll cry when he's knocked down, and he's a guy who gets knocked down easily") and 10) Chicago's Stan Mikita ("a moaner").