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Original Issue

The Beat

ATHLETES ROUTINELY insure themselves against injury. But when an NFL star goes down, he's not the only one who suffers. What about fantasy football owners who have him on their team? Now they, too, can buy injury insurance. The website offers policies on players for $14.95. If the player misses at least three games, the owner recoups his investment. If he misses more than five, the player rakes in even more money (from $49 to $89, depending on how long he's out). The most-insured player on the site: Kansas City running back Priest Holmes.

■ Monster Garage host Jesse James is best known for fixing up cars, but last week he saw his vehicle nearly taken apart. The Discovery Channel staple and husband of actress Sandra Bullock (left, with James) regularly races modified stock cars at Irwindale Speedway outside Los Angeles. In an Outlaw Division race on Sept. 10 driver Harry Kuenninger rammed James's number 666 car twice. After the second incident the race was stopped and police carted off Kuenninger; James, who wasn't hurt, sat out the rest of the race. (No charges were filed, but Kuenninger was fined $500 by the track and suspended indefinitely.) Says Irwindale VP Robert DeFazio, "[Kuenninger] just completely flipped out."

■ Booyaka-Shaq! Sasha Baron Cohen, best known for embarrassing high-profile interviewees such as Gore Vidal and Ralph Nader on Da Ali G Show, is bringing his act to the NBA for a series of TNT commercials directed by Spike Lee. In one, Cohen sat with Miami's Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade for an unscripted session in which he acted as if he had no idea who they were. "He totally disrespec'ed me," says Wade, borrowing one of Cohen's favorite words. (Wade has seen Ali G and was prepared for Cohen.) "I've never met anyone like him. He's a real, real serious dude."

■ Pamela Long has seen her son, Pistons guard Richard Hamilton, play in an NCAA championship game and back-to-back NBA Finals, but it took an appearance on a game show for her to be really impressed. Hamilton joined several NBA and WNBA players last week to tape five episodes of Wheel of Fortune. "It's crazy how excited my family got," Hamilton said. "If I called my mom and told her I had a game tonight, she'd be like, 'O.K. Good luck.' But when I told her I was on Wheel of Fortune, she was like, 'For real? Wow!'"... Randy Moss has concocted yet another way to shock fans. Moss's recently launched official website,, offers a Moss mask, replete with giant Afro, for $49.95.... Nick Nolte harassed referees in Blue Chips; for his next role he'll be on the other side of the argument. Nolte will play a high school umpire in Off the Black. Last week he visited Commerce Bank Park in Bridgewater, N.J., the home of the minor league Somerset Patriots, and took pointers from director of baseball operations Adam Gladstone on how the men in blue are expected to handle themselves.


Speak, memory: Did Nabokov the netminder have butterflies in his stomach as he stood before the pale fire at HP Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks? But enough literary allusions; it's time to play hockey. On Sunday, Evgeni Nabokov and the Sharks skated out for their first game in 16 months. When the Las Vegas-ish intros ended, San Jose beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Gone were the days when you could stand at center ice and hear a pnin drop.


An English soccer team is erecting a statue of former player Vinnie Jones squeezing an opponent's testicles.

They Said It


IRL driver, when asked to name the best female driver no one has heard of: "I don't know. I never heard of her."


Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP (PICTURE THIS)






Fame Pictures (Bullock and James)