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Original Issue

Sports Beat

The man at the center of ABC's The Bachelor knows his sports.
Aaron Buerge was an all-state swimmer in high school, is an avid
Chiefs fan and plans to open a sports bar with two 105inch
projection TVs next month in his native Springfield, Mo. But
Buerge wasn't ready for the sports fanaticism he encountered upon
visiting his date Brooke Smith and her family in Albertville,
Ala., during the episode that aired last week. Brooke's
stepfather, John David, gave Bruege a tour of his Alabama Room.
The oversized crimson-and-white "museum," as Buerge calls it, is
packed with Alabama football memorabilia, including a houndstooth
hat worn by Bear Bryant and a copy of SI from the 1970s in which
David appears in a photo of fans at a 'Bama game. Though Buerge
jokingly called the shrine "a little spooky" on air, he told SI
he was impressed. "It's neat that someone is so passionate about
college football," Buerge says. "Going down there I was going to
joke that I was an Auburn fan. I decided against it after seeing
the 'Bama Room."

--Oscar and Felix together again? Stay tuned. Super welterweight
champ Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad have agreed to meet for
dinner in Puerto Rico in the near future. De La Hoya lives part
time in Trinidad's native land and hopes to persuade Trinidad,
who retired in July, to agree to a rematch. When the two fought
in September 1999, Trinidad, now 29, won a disputed split
decision. Says De La Hoya, also 29, "I want to hear [that he is
retired] from his mouth."

--If you think a Big Mac and fries make a good-looking pair, wait
till you see the newest McDonald's doubles team. Tennis sisters
Venus and Serena Williams have joined Donald Trump, Cedric the
Entertainer and Latin star Sofia Vergara as McPitchmen. The
sisters signed a three-year deal to do a series of ads that
begins this month. They'll also appear on behalf of Ronald
McDonald House Charities. Said Serena, "When we were kids going
through a McDonald's drive-thru, picking up dinner on the way to
practice, who'd have thought we'd be starring in a commercial
with the Hamburglar."

--An alleged conspiracy to kidnap ex--Spice Girl Victoria Beckham,
the wife of British soccer star David Beckham, was foiled last
week--with the help of the British tabloid News of the World.
Acting on a tip from the paper, which said its undercover
reporters had infiltrated a gang of art thieves who were planning
to kidnap the former Posh Spice and hold her for ransom, Scotland
Yard's Serious and Organized Crime Command unit arrested nine
suspects. (Four were released.) "These people were serious, and
that, of course, has scared the life out of me," Victoria Beckham
said. "It is terrifying to think that someone would want to do

--Redskins boss Daniel Snyder is hiring 10 coaches--but don't
expect controversy. Snyder has launched the Redskins Youth
Development program, which places academic coaches in D.C.-area
public high schools. The coaches will help student-athletes land
college scholarships. "We wanted to do something that wasn't just
about athletics," Snyder says.

COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL AINSWORTH (NELSONS) PICTURE THIS Halloween came a night early for Mavericks coach Don Nelson and his son, assistant coach Donn. Hit with a two-game suspension for illegally attending two amateur workouts this summer in Yugoslavia, the Nelsons traded courtside pinstripes for prison stripes and went to a Dallas restaurant to watch the Mavs' season-opening 119--108 win over the Grizzlies.




The Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League will give fans a
free ticket if a fight does not break out in their Nov. 14 game
against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Rockets point guard, on his similarities to teammate Yao Ming:
"He's just like me--except he's 7'6" and Chinese."