Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Heavyweight title
fights stolen from Britons. FBI agents pursuing Don King: These
are a few of our favorite things.
But then, we have so many fond memories of 1999. And so this
evening we acknowledge those people who made the year a
momentous one in sports media, and bestow upon each honoree a
Theismann trophy, named for quarterback-turned-broadcaster Joe
Theismann, who once said, "The word genius isn't applicable in
football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."
And the Theismanns go to....
BEST ANSWER TO DUMB QUESTION
Injury-plagued tennis player Todd Martin was asked in a U.S.
Open press conference: "Could you tell us where you are
physically right now?"
"Physically, I'm right here," replied Martin. "Would you like to
know where I am metaphysically?"
MOST CANDID COLOR ANALYSIS
Mary Bryan, ESPN golf announcer, on air during the Rochester
International, blurted out: "I think players and caddies have to
have good intercourse on a week like this."
BOLDEST STATEMENT IN A PRINT
Dana M. King had already agreed to a plea bargain that would
minimize her jail time when she appeared in court in
Centerville, Tenn., in May on drunk driving charges. Needing
only to feign contrition in the courtroom, King found herself in
front of Hickman County circuit judge Timothy Easter, who
promptly sentenced her to 10 days in jail for contempt (a citing
that was later overturned). In hindsight it may have been
imprudent for King to have come before the judge in a Stone Cold
Steve Austin T-shirt, especially one boldly emblazoned with the
professional wrestler's catch phrase--THE 11TH COMMANDMENT: THOU
SHALT WHOOP ASS.
MOST GRACIOUS SOUND BITE
On Nov. 19, before his first game at Golden State since the
strangulation of coach P.J. Carlesimo nearly two years before,
Knicks forward Latrell Sprewell was asked if he'd consider
meeting with the man he choked purple. "Definitely," Spree told
reporters. "I mean, I'm not so arrogant that I can't forgive."
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN ADVERTISING
Sega, the Japanese electronics giant, paid several million
dollars for the right to put its name on the jerseys of the
Italian soccer team Sampdoria, little realizing that sega is
Italian slang for masturbation.
SPECIAL CITATION IN NEW MEDIA
On the Internet auction house eBay, a man named Timothy
Stockwell put up for bid some bits of wreckage from the 1979
plane crash that killed Yankees catcher Thurman Munson. Bidding
reached $12.54 before Stockwell withdrew the scraps of metal and
nylon, following protests from the catcher's horrified widow.
MOST VALUABLE NEW COINAGE
The '99 football season minted a new verb--"formationing"--as
when Joe Theismann (of all people) said during a Giants-Patriots
game on ESPN: "Good job of Jim Fassel formationing his team."
Good job, announcers, of destructioning the English language--an
erosioning that began with baseball players "plating" one
another, continued with basketball players "transitioning" on
the break, and will doubtless soon culminate with caddies
"lob-wedging" their golfers. (Something they're already doing,
we understand, at the Rochester International.)
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO