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Original Issue

Character Counts ...

But the NFL's conduct policy still has loopholes

IT WAS a year agothis week that commissioner Roger Goodell, concerned about the number of NFLplayers in trouble with the law, instituted a stringent personal-conductpolicy. Last season Titans cornerback Adam (Pacman) Jones was suspended for theyear after his sixth arrest, and Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson receivedan eight-game ban. Last month the Steelers released backup wide receiverCedrick Wilson after he was arrested for allegedly striking a formergirlfriend. And last week the Bengals waived talented wide receiver Chris Henryafter he was accused of punching an 18-year-old man and breaking his carwindow. It was Henry's fifth arrest since 2005.

But though thesystem may seem to be working, teams still send mixed messages about how muchthey will tolerate. The Steelers, for example, took no action against starlinebacker James Harrison, who last month was arrested for allegedly assaultinghis girlfriend. (The charges were dropped last Thursday.) And the Cowboys, whosigned Johnson last year, are trying to complete a trade for Jones, whom theyreportedly took off their draft board in 2005 because of concerns about hischaracter.

In short, teamsseem to pick their spots depending on their personnel needs. For example,Pittsburgh chairman Dan Rooney was forced to clumsily explain why one allegedgirlfriend assaulter was worthy of keeping while another was expendable. Couldit be that Harrison was a Pro Bowler last season, while Wilson was a careerreserve? "When I say we don't condone these things, we don't," saidRooney. "But ... they're not all the same."

Goodell'scrackdown may be felt most on draft day. Last year Broncos defensive tackleMarcus Thomas was considered a first-round talent, but he fell to the fourthround because he was kicked off the team at Florida after failing multiple drugtests. (Last month he was arrested on suspicion of possession after policefound cocaine in a car in which he was the passenger.) Scouts say this yearthat Oklahoma State wideout Adarius Bowman, a projected mid-round pick, maydrop to the late rounds after his arrest for marijuana possession on April 1.On the anniversary of Goodell's conduct crackdown, teams must balance theirsearch for talent with a desire for players who won't test the tougherpolicy.

Go Figure

17 Consecutive games in which Rickie Weeks of theBrewers scored a run, a streak that was broken last Saturday.

18 Major league record for consecutive games with a runscored, held by Red Rolfe of the 1939 Yankees and Kenny Lofton of the 2000Indians.

61 Wins for the Celtics this season (throughMonday).

24 Wins for the Celtics last season; their 37-gameimprovement is the greatest in NBA history.

$47 million Amount of the emergency loan reportedlytaken out last week by Real Madrid to cover its operating expenses; the team'srevenue has plummeted since David Beckham left to join the Los AngelesGalaxy.

Charlton Heston 1923--2008

CHARLTON HESTON, who died last Saturday at 84, wasnever much of a jock; as a high school kid in Willamette, Ill., he was moreinto drama. But thanks to his steely-eyed mien, his 6'3" frame and superioracting chops, he was very believable as an athlete, be it a chariot racer, in1959's Ben-Hur (above, left), or an aging New Orleans Saints quarterback, in1969's overlooked Number One (right). Heston's best sports movie, though, wasprobably 1976's Two-Minute Warning, in which he played a cop tracking down asniper on the loose at a football game at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

No-Fault Policy

YOU MAY have heard it's been 63 years since the Cubswent to the World Series. You also may have heard who prolonged the drought in2003: lifelong fan Steve Bartman (above). With the Cubs five outs away fromwinning the NLCS against Florida in Game 5, Chicago leftfielder Moises Aloureached into the stands for a pop-up, and Bartman appeared to knock the ballaway. Given new life, Luis Castillo walked to spark a game-winning rally, andthe Cubs lost the series. Alou said Bartman interfered with him; Bartman heardso much abuse in Chicago that he went into hiding. Last week, at last, he wasabsolved. "Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, 'Bartman!Bartman!' I feel really bad," Alou, now with the Mets, told the AP."You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn't have caught itanyway."



HENRY V The Bengals receiver was cut loose last week after his fifth arrest.