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Friday, May 24, 2002
Updated: May 26, 8:59 PM ET
Some like it Cool

By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

Who comes to work on Memorial Day? Come on. Unless you work at a 7-11, or for a 911 dispatcher, Memorial Day is all about grilling some red meat, catching a ballgame, pretending to care about the Brazilian who won the Indy 500, and tuning in to the "Firecracker 500'' countdown on your local oldies station.

Paul Pierce
There will be no recap of Paul Pierce's Saturday heroics today. The Cooler is taking a long weekend.
Hey! What do you know! "Stairway to Heaven'' is No. 1 ... again!

As such, Cooler-dwellers, we're hanging a "Gone Fishin' " sign on The Cooler today. There will be no recap of the NBA conference finals. There will be no Giambi-gushing over that Yanks-BoSox series at the Fens. There will be no breakdown of Big Bob Tway's flirtation with victory at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial tournament.

Mostly, dwellers, because this is being written on Friday.

Above all, we traffic in honesty at The Cooler. We might not traffic in sobriety, lucidity or profundity. But honesty? Got it cornered. (Hey, the boys in Bristol, Conn. -- World HQ -- want a little Family Time today. They, too, want to hang out in the backyard, and listen to "Hey, Jude'' work its way up to the No. 2 spot on the oldies station "Firecracker 500!'' countdown.)

So what to do for this Holiday Cooler? Why, the age-old column gimmick, naturally -- Cooler Awards.

As we ease into our seventh ice-cold lager of the afternoon, our mind turns to all things nice and chilly. Forthwith, then, the First Annual -- perhaps Last Annual, pending its success rate -- Cooler's Coolest Awards:

Coolest Gig in Sports: PGA Tour player
David Duval
Could there be anything better than having the golf course double as your office?
Are you kidding me? OK, let's get this straight: Spend your days at the world's most beautiful resorts, playing a sport that carries with it virtually no risk of injury, earning enormo-cash for finishing 30th. Oh, and there's the matter of the babes, too. Forget Tiger's Swede. Have you seen Ty Tryon's model girlfriend? She almost makes Elin Nordegren look like Ruth Buzzi.

Almost, but not quite.

I mean, sure, there's the nettlesome matter of having to be great at the game, and having to hold up to pressure, and having to be consistent at the world's most inconsistent game, but who wants to dwell on the negative?

Fore!

Coolest Current Uniforms in Sports: Penn State football
I know. Strong runner-up entries come from the usual suspects: The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Chicago Bears, the New York Jets, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Penn State Defense
There's nothing cooler than the simplicity of Penn State's blue and white uniforms.
Aha! I knew you caught that little joke. We all know the Yanks don't really belong in that category.

But the Nittany Lions get the nod because the Nittany Lions have done two things well:

1.) They've remained unchanged through the years. In an era of sports marketing that has produced heinous black jerseys in baseball, NFL uniform changes that look more USFL than Canton and NBA jerseys that look like cereal boxes, the lads in Happy Valley have stayed true; and

2.) They're perfect in their minimalism. When in doubt, America tends to lean toward wretched excess. Not Penn State. Blue jerseys, white pants, black cleats. Topped off with the white helmet. With the blue stripe. Did we mention the black cleats? Damn, those guys look pure.

Coolest Venue in Sports: Lambeau Field
What's so amazing about Lambeau is that there is no human reason an NFL stadium should be the Coolest Venue in sports. NFL stadiums tend toward the corporately bland; instead, baseball yards are the buildings with personality.

I once heard George Seifert rant against baseball, saying it was crazy that they would play this sport on playing fields of different dimensions, depending on who was the home team. My take was: Au contraire, mon frere. In fact, those very qualities -- that Yankee Stadium has a short porch, and that the Metrodome has a Glad Bag in right field -- are what make ballfields the epic things they are.

Lambeau Field
The atmosphere at Lambeau Field provides the best backdrop in sports.
All that said, Lambeau wins.

Lambeau wins because it's located in the NFL's version of Bedford Falls. Lambeau wins because you'll meet no nicer lunatics than Packers fans grilling brats in a sleetstorm. Lambeau wins because when you attend a game there, you can hardly see the field through the ghosts. (Or was that the freezing rain that clouded my contact lenses?) Lambeau wins because it is that rare football stadium that feels like a ballyard.

Now somebody go get me a brat.

Coolest Cat I'd Like to Party With: Shaq
Admittedly, a shocker. Jason Giambi would seem to have the lock on this award, but it's time for an upset. I considered Mike Tyson, for sheer carnival shock value, but decided I didn't need to wind up wrestling with a lion at 4 a.m. I considered Ray Lewis, but seem to have misplaced my flak jacket. I considered Tiger Woods, but I don't think I can do with the protein shakes and the early bedtime. So, Shaq it is.

This guy should have a better rep as one of America's All-time Goodtime Charlies/Superstar Athletes. In fact, he might be at the top of the list.

Then again, Wilt the Stilt might have shagged upwards of 20,000 birds. Guess he's sort of got a lock on that Goodtime Charlie thing.

Shaquille O'Neal
An evening out with Shaq would definitely be slammin'.
Anyway, best I can see, if you party with Shaq, your day might go like this: Early morning cereal and cartoons. A nap. A trip to your local waterslides.

A nap. A paintball war in your backyard. A dinner of barbecued ribs. A limo.

Tons of babes. A nightclub scene in which you are with Shaq, a 7-foot-3 tower of hilarious power. Late-night Kobe jokes. Home in the limo, with the babes. Video games until sunrise.

To bed.

Rinse, lather and repeat.

Hey, anybody got Shaq's mobile phone number?

Coolest Current Sports Tradition: The Ceremonial Tee Shot at Augusta National
Sam Snead
The opening shot of The Masters won't be quite as cool without Sam Snead.
And on this Memorial Day weekend, dwellers, we suggest a Memorial for the sweetest swing in golf. Take a moment to remember Sam Snead, an American legend. There he was last month, ill, old and tired, but still standing on the first tee at 8 a.m. to start the Masters.

Slammin' Sammy is gone now. Who to take his place?

Certainly, Arnie seems logical. The King would be worthy.

But for now? Here's a Cooler idea. Wait a year. Don't have anyone do it next spring. Instead, have everyone gather 'round, close their eyes for a meditative moment, and imagine that buttery swing of Sam Snead.

There was nothing Cooler.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.