Talk-show phone lines have been humming and newspaper headlines
screaming about NFL quarterback controversies this season. Last
weekend nine teams were dealing with dueling signal-callers, the
most visible battles being in Buffalo (between Alex Van Pelt and
Todd Collins), in New York (Jets Glenn Foley and Neil O'Donnell)
and in Philadelphia (Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete ).
Conventional wisdom says that nothing tears apart a team like a
quarterback controversy, and that a coach must resolve such a
schizophrenic situation immediately. Maybe. The phenomenon is
nothing new, of course. In 1980 the Los Angeles Rams allowed the
rift between costarters Vince Ferragamo and Pat Haden to ravage
the team and ruin its chances of returning to the Super Bowl.
The most extreme--and disastrous--quarterback time-share
occurred in '71, when Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry alternated
Craig Morton and Roger Staubach on a play-by-play basis. After a
week of this shuttle system (Dallas lost to the Chicago Bears
23-19), Staubach was named full-time quarterback, and the
Cowboys went on to win Super Bowl VI.
In many cases, however, teams that have been unsettled under
center have flourished. From 1949 to '52 the Rams remained a
perennial winner and title contender while Bob Waterfield and
Norm Van Brocklin shared the quarterbacking. Best buddies and
on-the-road roomies Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer were rivals
on the Redskins for four years ('71 to '74). Still, with Kilmer
taking most of the snaps for coach George Allen, the Skins went
40-15-1. In 1979 the Miami Dolphins endured a brief battle
between an aging Bob Griese and Don Strock, followed by an
extended one between Strock and David Woodley, cast in the
dashing-young-guy role that Strock once played. Woodstrock, as
the quarterbacks were called collectively, led the Dolphins to
the '83 Super Bowl, which they lost to Washington 27-17.
History suggests above all that a coach should be sure of his
choice, lest he push the wrong button. Near the end of the '91
season the Seattle Seahawks chose Kelly Stouffer, not Dave
Krieg, as their man. A year later Krieg was leading the Kansas
City Chiefs into the playoffs, and Stouffer was languishing on
the bench and on his way out of football.
Behind the Dean E. Smith Center on the North Carolina campus are
two parking slots labeled RESERVED AT ALL TIMES. One is for
athletic director Dick Baddour. The other had always been for
the man for whom the arena is named. Though he is, of course,
retired, Dean Smith still goes into the office almost every day.
Yet his old parking space remains empty. Smith, who points out
that he's no longer the basketball coach, wedges his BMW in
wherever he can find room on the crowded campus. "Just like the
rest of us," says assistant sports information director Kevin
Best. The rest, it seems, includes basketball coach Bill
Guthridge, who may have taken Smith's place but not--at least
for now--his space.
A TERRIFIC TWO
During last Saturday's Breeders' Cup, Favorite Trick smashed a
field of the best 2-year-old colts in America in the $1 million
Juvenile championship, emphatically announcing himself the
winter-book favorite for the 1998 Kentucky Derby. He also
brought to a close a stunning campaign in which he was
undefeated in eight starts. As jockey Pat Day walked Favorite
Trick toward the winner's circle, the little bay colt's
diminutive trainer, Patrick Byrne, echoed the sentiment that was
pulsing around Hollywood Park: "He is the Horse of the Year!"
There's ordinarily a strong bias against voting a juvenile the
highest honor in racing--a bias that is not without reason.
Babies don't venture out of their division to race against
mature horses, and they don't carry high weights over a classic
distance. Not since Secretariat in '72 has a 2-year-old been
named Horse of the Year.
But 1997 has been anything but ordinary for racing, with no
horse establishing himself as the best in the land. There was no
Triple Crown winner and certainly no Cigar, whose 16-race
winning streak from 1994 to '96 captured the public's fancy.
Even the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic was of no help this
year; the race was decimated by a slew of defections and was won
by Skip Away, a 4-year-old for whom the Classic was only his
second Grade I victory of '97.
Far more impressive were the accomplishments of Favorite Trick,
who won four straight races in Kentucky before moving on to
Saratoga, the summer hotbed of 2-year-old racing. After winning
the Saratoga Special on Aug. 13, Favorite Trick came back in the
Hopeful Stakes on Aug. 30 and won by a length and a half. His
streak continued in the Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 18 at
Keeneland. Saturday's Juvenile simply reaffirmed what everyone
already knew: The Trick is a special colt. And in a year when
special horses have been so rare, when only one has done
everything he was asked to do, it says here that the baby is the
In 1995 Joseph LeGuen of Brest, France, rowed solo across the
Atlantic, a voyage that got prominent coverage throughout his
homeland. When he returned to France, LeGuen spent much of the
next six months lecturing about his trip, trying to persuade one
of his listeners to join him on a two-man crossing. After a talk
at a high-security prison in early 1996, he was approached by an
inmate named Pascal Blond, who was almost finished serving a
seven-year sentence for manslaughter. (He had earlier done seven
years for murder.) Says LeGuen, "We settled everything in 20
minutes." The two soon started training for the Atlantic Rowing
Challenge, a 2,700-mile race for two-man crews from the Canary
Islands to Barbados that began last month.
Prison officials were so excited by Blond's decision that they
financed the cost of the boat he and LeGuen would need for the
Atlantic crossing. A dozen inmates assembled the 23-foot vessel,
Atlantik Challenge, from a kit. "Some people find it odd that I
have chosen a convicted murderer to row across the Atlantic
with, but I look at Pascal as another human being, not a
criminal," the 50-year-old LeGuen said before the pair set off
on Oct. 30. "The race will give him an opportunity to gain
respect and dignity."
Each evening prisoners across France receive updates on the
position of Atlantik Challenge, which Blond and LeGuen row in
two 10-hour shifts daily. At the start of the Challenge, 30
boats were competing; 24 remained through Sunday. With 1,450
miles and another five weeks to go, Blond and LeGuen were in
For every 12-handicapper who has wondered whether he could make
the PGA Tour given an abundance of time, teaching and titanium,
the life of Gregg (Braddo) Bradford should be of interest.
Bradford, 31, is the lucky guinea pig in a made-for-TV,
nature-nurture experiment that will totally immerse him in the
game, all expenses paid, for the next two years.
In the fall of 1996 Bradford told high school buddy John
Paterson that if he could swing it, he'd just as soon play golf
for a living. (Imagine that!) At the time Bradford was working
in marketing for Paterson's television production firm in Los
Angeles and hadn't played much since his days on the Ferndale
(Wash.) High team. "Since I'm a TV producer, the thought that
entered my mind was, Wow, I wonder how many people would be
interested in watching a guy live his dream?" says Paterson, who
is producing a cable series that will follow Bradford as he
preps for the 1999 PGA Tour's qualifying school.
Thanks to a cadre of enthusiastic backers, Bradford will get
unlimited lessons from the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and
access to its sports psychologists and physiologists; have de
facto membership at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert,
Calif.; and receive a hot-yellow Yamaha cart emblazoned with his
name and sponsor logos. When he's not trying to harness his
driving--early scouting reports say he has a nice short game but
is wild off the tee--Braddo will live in an apartment provided
by the city of Palm Desert.
As for the dubious notion that an average duffer can reach the
Tour in two years, Paterson knows it's a long shot but says
Braddo is good at everything from racquetball to playing the
drums. "Everybody has hit that one perfect shot, stiffing it
right at the flag, and thought, You know, I wonder if I could do
it?" says Paterson, who is in negotiations with networks to sell
the series. "This is about golf the way that Rocky was about
boxing. This is his greatest dream." Says Bradford, "I picked
the right friend and stuck with him. I knew eventually he'd pay
Like the national anthem and player introductions and Los
Angeles Lakers fans avoiding their seats, the layup line has
long been a pregame tradition in basketball, a way to sharpen
skills, break a sweat and, at times, put on a show. But in what
was probably the first broadside ever fired at the innocuous
drill, Toronto Raptors general manager Isiah Thomas last week
branded the layups-as-warmups concept "outdated." He is planning
to institute pregame activities more in keeping with his
Upon hearing the news many in the NBA wondered whether Thomas
was ahead of his time or simply had too much time on his hands.
"Gee, Isiah, unless I'm mistaken, didn't those great running
teams of the Lakers in the 1980s warm up with layups?" said
Atlanta Hawks president Stan Kasten. Asked Lakers coach Del
Harris, "Who am I to challenge a guru like Isiah? So he's right
and 10 million people are wrong? That's possible."
Not everyone dismissed Thomas's heresy out of hand. "Maybe we're
warming up the wrong way," said Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
"It's kind of an interesting idea, and I never thought of it
before." Having changed Toronto's pregame rituals, Thomas has
even more revolutionary tactics in mind. He's talking about
having assistant coaches script the Raptors' first 30 plays...on
offense and defense.
To the ranks of Samuel Pepys and Anais Nin add the name of Venus
Williams. Tennis's rising star began a 10-day trip to Russia on
Oct. 24 to play in the Ladies Kremlin Cup, and during her stay
she kept an on-line diary for the Women's Tennis Association Web
site (corelwtatour.com). Bearing in mind that most 17-year-olds
are home working on book reports, not roaming the world beaming
their sociocultural musings across the Internet, consider this
random sampling of the Williams cyberprose:
"I have seen a lot of Russia. The place is replete with history
that is very interesting. The art here is wonderful also, and
the people are very talented. It is great that they are finally
being given the chance to live a more free life, with the fall
of Communism. Okay, that's enough of that."
"At first I did not like Moscow. It was too cold, the cars were
"I just finished playing Elena Likhovtseva (I can't say her last
name). I won 7-6 (3), 6-2. I lost serve twice. I hate losing
"Last night we went to see the ballet.... The first ten minutes
were ok, but after that they kept doing the same dances over and
over. Ok, maybe it wasn't the same dances but it sure did seem
"One more thing, when Russians talk to you, or at least to me,
they get really close to you. With some people you feel as if
you are about to die because they have bad breath."
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: JEFF WONG Dueling quarterbacks like Van Pelt and Collins would do well to study the old soft shoe performed by a pair of venerable Redskins. [Painting of Alex Van Pelt and Todd Collins watching Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgensen dance on stage]
B/W PHOTO [Deer's head]
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES Favorite Trick dominated the juvenile set, but should he win Horse of the Year? [Horse Favorite Trick in race]
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar]
COLOR PHOTO: PAUL CHAPMAN/BRSP [Karim Abdul-Jabbar]
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW REDINGTON/ALLSPORT [Eimear Montgomerie and Colin Montgomerie]
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN As a Russia correspondent, Williams weighed in on cars, communism and halitosis. [Venus Williams playing tennis]
Weight, in pounds, of the pizza devoured in two hours by
282-pound Tulsa guard Brad Smith.
Consecutive home sellouts by the lowly Sacramento Kings from
Oct. 25, 1985, until their Nov. 7 loss to the Los Angeles
Bonus, in dollars, all players on Brazil's soccer team will
receive if they win the 1998 World Cup.
Managers George Steinbrenner went through in his first five
years as New York Yankees owner.
Managers Peter Angelos has gone through in his first four years
as Baltimore Orioles owner.
Scores shot at the Rio Rico (Ariz.) Country Club by Hall of Fame
catcher Johnny Bench, who will turn 50 on Dec. 7, in failing to
make the Senior PGA Tour qualifier finals.
Players on the Laguna-Acoma High football team in Laguna,
N.Mex., who quit before a playoff game to go deer hunting.
2 x 33
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the 7'2", 50-year-old UCLA graduate and NBA
Hall of Famer whose name was once Lew Alcindor, has filed suit
against Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 23, the 5'10" former Bruin turned
Miami Dolphins running back whose name was once Sharmon Shah,
requesting that Karim "select another name." About time. We
couldn't tell 'em apart.
We have no reason to doubt that Colin Montgomerie was being
truthful when he announced that he won't be playing on the PGA
Tour next year because he plans to spend more time with his
wife, Eimear (right), and his daughters Olivia, 4, and Venetia,
1. But if past is prologue, the Tour may eventually find itself
getting the full Monty.
I'M GONE! September '85: Heavyweight champ Larry Holmes loses a
decision to Michael Spinks, then says he wants to "spend more
time with my family. Boxing can go to hell."
I'M BACK! April '86: Loses to Spinks again, retires again,
comes back again, retires again, comes back again, retires....
I'M GONE! August '96: Randall Cunningham retires after being
released by the Philadelphia Eagles, saying, "I am looking
forward to spending more time with my family."
I'M BACK! April '97: Cunningham unretires and is now backup
quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.
I'M GONE! June '94: Ryne Sandberg retires from baseball partly
because "I want to devote more time to my family."
I'M BACK! March '96: The Chicago Cubs' future Hall of Famer is
back at second base. (He retires again after the '97 season.)
I'M GONE! October '93: Michael Jordan retires from the Chicago
Bulls, explaining, "I just wanted to spend more time with my
I'M BACK! February '94: Jordan signs with the Chicago White
Sox, plays a full season as an outfielder for the Sox' Double A
affiliate, the Birmingham Barons, and returns to the Bulls in
I'M GONE! November '92: About a year after his shocking
retirement following 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers,
Magic Johnson--who had briefly returned to the Lakers during the
preseason--retires again, partly to continue with his business
interests and his charitable projects and partly "because it is
important to spend time with my family.
I'M BACK! March '94: Magic takes over as Lakers coach; quits
after 16 games; returns as a player in January '96; retires
again after 32 games.
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Defensive tackle Sean Gilbert turned down the Washington
Redskins' $3.6 million contract offer and won't play this season
because he had a "revelation from God" that the team should pay
him $5 million.
THEY SAID IT
Sixty-six-year-old winner of the 5K run at the North Carolina
Senior State Games, on his sport: "I'm not crazy about running.
I just do it to keep in shape for fishing."