THROWN FOR A LOSS
Rae Carruth was jolted as his murder trial opened
CALLER: He was in the car in front of me, and he slowed down, and
somebody pulled up besides me and did this.
MEDIC: And then where'd he go?
CALLER: He just left.
MEDIC: Okay. Alright, what's his name?
CALLER: Rae Carruth. He plays for the Panthers.
If it hadn't been before, one thing became clear as Rae Carruth's
trial for the murder of Cherica Adams began last week in
Charlotte: The former Carolina receiver is in the fight of his
The state's case is that Carruth, injured, fearing the end of
his NFL paydays and loath to take on the expense of supporting a
second out-of-wedlock child, planned the Nov. 16, 1999, fatal
shooting of Adams, who was 6 1/2 months pregnant with their son.
The prosecution also asserts that Carruth hired a career
criminal, Van Brett Watkins, to carry out the murder.
The defense suggests that Adams was the victim of a drug deal
gone bad. Carruth's lawyers contend that Watkins and another man,
Michael Kennedy, had approached Carruth seeking $5,000 to finance
a marijuana deal and that after Carruth turned them down, the two
went looking for him to ask him to reconsider. Watkins, according
to the defense, ended up shooting Adams in a rage.
The prosecution's star witness was expected to be the victim.
Indeed, the voice of Adams, who delivered a boy, Chancellor, by
cesarean section hours after the shooting but died of multiple
gunshot wounds four weeks later, came through loud and clear.
During the first day of testimony prosecutors played a 12-minute
tape of the 911 call (including the excerpt above) she made
immediately after the shooting. That call placed Carruth at the
scene and supported the prosecution's claim that he had helped
The prosecution then unveiled a surprise witness: Kennedy. As the
driver of the car carrying the confessed triggerman, Watkins,
Kennedy faces capital murder charges. Without benefit of a plea
bargain and taking the stand over the objections of his lawyer,
he testified that Carruth gave him $100 to buy the murder weapon;
that Carruth set up the ambush by calling Kennedy to alert him
that he and Adams were leaving Carruth's house in separate
vehicles; and that Carruth, in his Ford Expedition, slowed to a
stop in front of Adams's BMW, allowing Kennedy to pull alongside
Adams. Kennedy said Watkins then fired "four, maybe five" shots
into the car.
Kennedy's testimony may be devastating for Carruth. Watkins has
plea-bargained to second-degree murder, and it was expected that
the state's case would center on him. Kennedy had no deal when he
took the stand and has said he was testifying solely to tell the
truth. That makes it difficult for Carruth's lawyers to impugn
his testimony on grounds of self-preservation.
The prosecution is expected to introduce cell phone records and
ballistics evidence to support its charge of premeditation. It
will also call several of Carruth's girlfriends to testify
relating to his antipathy toward Adams and the baby she was
carrying. Carruth's lawyers will counter with their drug-deal
defense and present evidence that Carruth looked forward to
supporting the child. Kennedy's testimony means the prosecution
might not call Watkins, who, ironically, may now be essential to
Carruth's case. While Watkins told police that Carruth
masterminded the murder, he related the drug story to a jail
guard; and Carruth's lawyers may have to call Watkins to elicit
that story. Their client's life might depend on it. --Lester
For once John Elway came up short in the fourth quarter. Last
week the popular website SportsLine.com severed its yearlong
partnership with MVP.com, the sporting goods e-tailer whose
investors include Elway, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan, after
MVP.com fell two months behind on a scheduled fourth-quarter
payment. As MVP.com's struggles show, the crash of the high-tech
business sector has hit the sports world hard.
Websites. Despite aggressive marketing, including TV spots
starring Elway and Nick Price, golf-equipment vendor Chipshot.com
filed for bankruptcy in October. Another highly visible sports
e-tailer, Fogdog, agreed last month to be purchased at a
bargain-basement price by Global Sports and plans to lay off most
of its staff. The boom in sports jobs on the Web may be over,
too: Sportshuddle.com, which builds and runs high school sports
sites for more than 50 newspapers, laid off a third of its
75-person staff last month, and Broadband Sports, a leading
supplier of online sports content, let go 20% of its 265
employees. Even cutting-edge Quokka Sports, which runs
SaltLake2002.com and NBCOlympics.and CART, is suffering: The
company's share price, which was close to $20 a year ago, was
less than $2 on Monday.
Sponsorships. College bowls lost two dotcom sponsors this year
when OurHouse.com pulled out of the Florida Citrus Bowl and
HomePoint.com took its name off the Music City Bowl. In golf,
financial troubles for Greens.com, a tee-time reservations
company that was to back the PGA's Reno-Tahoe Open, left the
tournament without a title sponsor. The plunging stock price of
Savvis Communications, a high-speed Internet service provider,
has meant a paper loss of $5.2 million for the St. Louis Blues;
in August the team sold naming rights to the Kiel Center to
Savvis for 750,000 shares of Savvis stock.
Owners. Although tech billionaires like the Mavericks' Mark Cuban
and the Redskins' Daniel Snyder have sufficiently deep pockets
and diversified portfolios to keep their clubs from feeling the
pinch, the parlaying of Net earnings into pro franchise ownership
may be over. As Cuban says, "The pool of potential dotcom owners
has dwindled." No more Cubans or Snyders? At least league
commissioners can be happy about the high-tech crash.
Let's Go to the Video!
A review of the NFL's two-year-old instant replay system shows
that some coaches love to hit rewind while others would just as
soon fast forward through their past challenges. Is there an art
to tossing the red flag? Depends on whom you ask. "We're careful
with how we use our challenges," says Redskins coach Norv Turner.
"We don't challenge a call unless we feel it's an obvious error."
That explains Turner's robust .714 winning percentage on
challenges, more than double the regular-season average of .330.
Some coaches are less discriminating. "I've made challenges when
I knew they were going to be denied," says Giants coach Jim
Fassel, who lost seven in a row before getting a call overturned
on Oct. 29 against the Eagles. "One time the other team was
driving and I was going to call a timeout anyway, and there
happened to be a play worth reviewing. So I just used the instant
replay and got the timeout that way."
So does replay success have any bearing on team success? Well,
Jeff Fisher, whose Titans are 9-3, is tied with the Panthers'
George Seifert for the worst record in the league on challenges.
"The system gives us an opportunity to correct an obvious error,"
says Fisher, shrugging off his 0-5 challenge record. "That's all
Coaches' challenge records (since instant replay's return in
Best WON-LOST Worst WON-LOST
om Coughlin, Jaguars 6-2 Jeff Fisher, Titans 0-5
Norv Turner, Redskins 5-2 George Seifert, Panthers 0-5
Bill Cowher, Steelers 5-3 Jim Mora, Colts 1-9
Dick Jauron, Bears 4-3 Brian Billick, Ravens 2-9
Dennis Green, Vikings 4-4 Dan Reeves, Falcons 2-9
Note: minimum four challenges
Ah, the life of an NBA dancer: the glamour, the glitz, the glory.
Sadly, in terms of recompense those are the only g's a dancer is
likely to see. An informal SI survey found that pay for the NBA's
hardwood heroines is pedestrian at best.
At the high end of the scale are the big-market dance squads. The
Knicks City Dancers make a relatively lofty $150 a game, and the
Nets' Power N' Motion pull down a comparable $120. The Laker
Girls (above), by comparison, are a steal at $85 a game.
On the other end is Portland. The BlazerDancers work for minimum
wage: $6.50 an hour. With practice and warmup time included, that
comes to roughly $40 a night. But there are perks: one guest
ticket a game and free parking.
So what's all the cheering about? Appearance fees. NBA dancers
can rake in big booty for shaking their booties at parties, p.r.
events and other functions. Indiana's Pacemates, for example,
earn $45 a game but command as much as $60 an hour for outside
engagements. Similarly, Philadelphia's Sixers Dance Team doesn't
have to fret too much about the $65 its members make per game,
since they charge as much as $150 an hour in appearance fees.
Even the oppressed BlazerDancers make $50 an hour for off-court
functions. Something to think about when booking entertainment
for your Christmas party.
Q When will we see a Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight?
A Don't hold your breath. Before Lewis and Tyson can make war,
their respective cable networks must make nice. Neither HBO,
which has Lewis under contract, nor Showtime, which has Tyson
signed up, wants to release its boxer to the other cable outlet
for what could be the most lucrative pay-per-view bout ever. HBO
Sports president Ross Greenburg is adamant that Lewis will fight
only for HBO. Ditto Tyson and Showtime. "We have enough of an
investment in Mike Tyson that we're not going to back off," says
Showtime executive Jay Larkin.
Even if one side were inclined to budge, roadblocks remain.
Shelly Finkel, Tyson's adviser, wants his man to get another
crack at Evander Holyfield, to whom he has lost twice. A Tyson
victory would give him the WBA belt and set up Lewis-Tyson as a
unification bout. That would make the event even more profitable
and provide Tyson with more leverage in negotiating his share of
the take. But while Larkin sees Holyfield-Tyson III as a real
possibility, nothing is in the works--and time may be the final
arbiter. Says Greenburg, "the longer we go without [Lewis-Tyson],
the bigger the risk of its never happening."
Against International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and CART, a
wrongful-death suit by the estate of driver Greg Moore, who was
killed in a CART race at ISC-owned California Speedway in October
1999. The suit alleges that the speedway's design was deficient
and that oil left on the track caused Moore's fatal crash.
Some Raptors players, because the only team jerseys sold at the
Air Canada Centre bear the name of guard Vince Carter. Nike,
which has an endorsement deal with Carter, owns the licensing
rights for NBA shirts in Toronto. Asks guard Mark Jackson, "What
do I do if I want to buy a relative a Charles Oakley jersey?"
By NBC, a request from West Coast affiliates to show XFL games
on tape delay to avoid having to preempt local news. The games
will air live from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays in the Pacific
time zone. NBC is also considering asking its West Coast
stations to carry Saturday Night Live--which now airs on
tape--live in prime time in an effort to retain viewers who tune
in to XFL broadcasts.
The Piedmont Boll Weevils of the Class-A South Atlantic League.
They'll now be known as the Kannapolis (N.C.) Intimidators, in
honor of the team's new part owner, NASCAR driver Dale (the
By superstitious Ravens coach Brian Billick, use of the word
playoffs by anyone in Baltimore's organization. Workers in the
front office, which has received the NFL's permission to sell
playoff tickets, have been calling the postseason festivus, after
the contrived holiday celebrated by Frank Constanza in a Seinfeld
Confused by the college football rankings? Who isn't? After all,
the BCS formula takes into account two polls, eight computer
rankings and even opponents' opponents' winning percentage.
Luckily for you, we've decided to forgo all the number crunching
in favor of a much more intuitive system relying on a math
principle we all learned in elementary school: the transitive
property. That's the rule that says if A is greater than B and B
is greater than C, A is greater than C. (Or as Scott Boras calls
it, the Alex Rodriguez principle.) So who are the real top four?
Lost to Oregon
Lost to Wisconsin
Lost to Purdue
Lost to Penn State
Lost to Toledo
Lost to Western Michigan
Lost to Central Michigan
Lost to Kent State
4 KENT STATE
Beat Louisiana Tech by 11 points
Lost by 12 points to Tulsa
Lost to New Mexico State
NEW MEXICO STATE
Lost to North Texas
Lost to Arkansas State
3 ARKANSAS STATE
2 FLORIDA STATE
Beat BYU by 26 points
Lost by 28 points to Syracuse
Lost to East Carolina
Lost to Memphis
Lost to Houston
Lost to Tulane
Lost to Army
Beat Oklahoma State by 5 points
Lost by 14 points to Missouri
Lost to Kansas
Lost to SMU
Lost to Hawaii
Lost to Portland State
1 PORTLAND STATE
Another round in the Reggie Miller versus New York saga: In
recent divorce proceedings, Miller's estranged wife, model
Marita, asked a Hamilton (Ind.) County court for $18,000 in
monthly support, partly to pay the $10,000 monthly rent for a
Manhattan apartment. A lawyer for Reggie says the Pacers guard
already gives Marita (below) $3,000 a month and that extra
support is unwarranted....
Comedian Don Rickles is shopping his memoirs to publishers, and
the proposed book will parody Detroit Free Press sportswriter
Mitch Albom's bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A
Young Man and Life's Greatest Lesson. Rickles's planned tome
will be called Wednesdays with Rickles: A Young Man, a Not So
Young Man and Life's Greatest Puck....
Former major league pitcher Bill Lee raised a few eyebrows last
month when he went on a Canadian radio show and said that in
1973 he and George W. Bush "rolled a couple of doobies and
smoked them together." We decided to check in with the Spaceman
to make sure he got the details right. Upon second thought, said
Lee, the incident happened in 1972 at a Boston fund-raiser: "It
looked like one of Bush's kids, and he was about the right age,
and he said he had gone to Yale, so I put two and two together.
But, hey, it was pretty smoky. It was like something you saw
through the smoke of a Chinese opium den. So, I'll take a guess
and say it might have been him." We now return to mission
The on-again, off-again Muhammad Ali feature is back on.
Director Michael Mann has assuaged Sony's budget concerns and
has forged ahead on casting. Joining Will Smith, who'll play
Ali, will be Jamie Foxx as Bundini Brown, and Mario Van Peebles
as Malcolm X. A casting call has also reportedly been sent to
agents saying that Mann is looking to fill a number of
miniroles, including those of Jesse Jackson, Burt Lancaster, Joe
Louis, Rocky Marciano, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra and even Idi
B/W PHOTO: JEFF SINER-THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER/REUTERS TOUGH WEEK The defendant listened stoically to damning testimony.
COLOR PHOTO: ANNIE LEIBOVITZ/AP Even with Elway, Gretzky and Jordan aboard, MVP.com has hit a bump.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO
COLOR PHOTO: NEWSMAKERS/LIAISON (DANCERS)
COLOR PHOTO: MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS (LEWIS)
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK (TYSON)
COLOR PHOTO: GREGORY SMITH/AP
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
COLOR PHOTO: TOM DIPACE
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO
COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND
COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF KENT STATE
COLOR PHOTO: JONESBORO SUN
COLOR PHOTO: USMA CREATIVE IMAGING BRANCH
COLOR PHOTO: STEVE BRENNER/PORTLAND STATE.
COLOR PHOTO: FRANCESCO SCAVULLO (MILLERS)
COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY
Tennis rackets destroyed by Goran Ivanisevic in fits of pique
during his second-round match in the Samsung Open in England,
leaving him with none and forcing him to default.
Bowl-eligible teams of the 12 in the SEC.
Tackles in the last seven games by Browns starting outside
linebacker Marty Moore, who was 1994's Mr. Irrelevant by virtue
of having been the final pick in that year's draft.
Receiving yards Bengals rookie Peter Warrick needs over the final
four games to surpass 800 and receive a $500,000 bonus for this
year and a $500,000 increase in his base salary in each of the
following five seasons.
Combined record of Army (1-9) and Navy (0-10) going into
Saturday's game--the worst since their football rivalry began in
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
As part of its bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing
organizers have designated Tiananmen Square--site of the Chinese
government's brutal suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators
in 1989--as the beach volleyball venue.
They Said It
New inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, asked what
artifact she would donate to the Hall: "Maybe my meat loaf