August 18, 2003
Falcons QB
Doug Johnson:

Filling the team's QB gap, fine -- but what about the fantasy-football first-round status? And the Madden 2004 cover? And the sports drink?
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
VICK.  LESS.

Mike Vick might limp along for six weeks -- or maybe a little longer -- but let's not rush to judgment.

Here's the games he'll miss: at Dallas (laugher), vs. Washington (not scary), vs. Tampa (yes, ugly) and at Carolina (another laugher).

Without Vick, the Falcons will actually have to underperform to avoid starting 3-1. But even if they go 1-3, that's the same as last year's opening month ... with a healthy Vick.

If he doesn't hurt himself up by coming back too prematurely, Mike can run off half a season without a loss, a la 2002. By November, Vick -- and his bandwagon -- will be up and running at full speed.

PGA Championship
169th-ranked Shaun Micheel ... looking back, such an obvious choice!

The implosion of the PGA's usual star system this year is great for golf: The more names that become known, the better chance that a big name is contending on Sunday. As Tiger has proven this year, a single icon can't be expected to carry a sport as ultimately fickle as golf.

Holcomb Wins
Best signal from the Browns naming underdog fan fave Kelly Holcomb to start over "franchise" top pick Tim Couch? Ability trumps a fat contract (not to mention "rep"). Maybe Rams coach Mike Martz will pay attention and finally list Marc Bulger over Kurt Warner.

Other NFL: And the team played on ... The Cowboys may stink, but even more embarrassing is that the coaching staff walked out on a team practice, even if it was in disgust. Give the players credit for trying to continue to practice, even if they were laughable.

Bliss Coverup
Between all the "CYA" among Baylor administrators, assistant

BRING YOUR BODY ARMOR TO INTERVIEW JOSE MESA
THE SET-UP: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR TODAY
1 Bucs at Rams: One of the best recent new rivalries
2 Royals at Yankees: Another August quasi-playoff-preview
3 D-Backs at Braves: Sunday thriller tough act to follow
THE SIT-DOWN: DROP THESE FROM YOUR HOT LIST
1 Duce Staley as Eagle: Len P reports RB on trading block
2 Tiger: Lose, OK; 12 over? Something else going on?
3 Blackout BBQs: Meat reportedly produced gastro issues
 
coaches and player parents, only ex-coach Dave Bliss is coming out like the jackass. Camera-phones may be emerging, but "low tech" -- say, secret audio taping -- remains the hot way to pin the trail on the donkey.

Coming soon: We've secretly replaced this family's flower pot with a recording device to catch the college basketball recruiter making promises ...


Clarett's Status
Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel should worry less about star RB Maurice Clarett being physically ready for the team's season opener (anyone but Tressel doubt Clarett could run cold for 150 yards and 3 TDs?) and worry more that he'll even be eligible to play at all.


USA Hoops
How brilliant is Allen Iverson? If he had a better Sixers roster around him, he could lead the NBA in assists. That's the lesson of AI's team-high five dimes (along with, remarkably, just six shots) in Team USA's 101-74 rout of Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Mavs/Warriors Trade
Doing a big deal just to do a big deal? The Mavs have no problems in the regular season, just the playoffs. So why did they trade their only player with proven playoff chutzpah (Nick Van Exel) for one with no postseason experience (Antawn Jamison)?

Forget Never trade big for small. For a contender, the rule should be: Never trade a player who can create his own shot for one who can't.

A's/Red Sox, Part II
Still can't get over last week's Boston-Oakland series? After the teams ended separate weekend flings tied for the AL wild-card lead, the summer's hottest relationship is back on this week, in Boston starting Tuesday.

NASCAR driver
Jimmy Spencer:

Could face assault charges for allegedly smacking another driver yesterday. Don't watch racing for the crashes; do it for the fights.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Sports Guy mailbag
Golf: PGA Championship
NFL: Training Camp
 
"Versus" Edition
Freddy/Jason
Wknd's top-grossing movie
 
USA/World
Ready to dismantle in hoops
 
Browns QB
Down goes Couch!
 
Baylor/Bliss
Ex-coach losing PR war
 
Wild cards
Breather day, then more
 

Pujols Hit-Streak Watch: 30 games. Sat out Sunday with flu (Cards, swept by Phils, are really sick), but likely to hit Tuesday ...

Did that cryonics exec actually think people would be excited about seeing Ted Williams' head on his Web site? ...

Is Man U trying to acquire Freddy Adu? They should pay ANY price; he'll even make fans forget Becks ...

The Cubs traded for nothing but ridicule when they got Pirates 1B Randall "Sausage Smacker" Simon ...

And any day now, bootleg versions of college-scandal tapes will no doubt be available for download (and at Phish shows) ...



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