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Friday, January 24, 2003
Page 2 Quickie: January 23, 2003

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

As the usual stories cycle and recycle through the system -- Raiders O vs. Bucs D, Chucky Gruden vs. Disciple Callahan, yada yada yada, then they played the Super Bowl -- here's a noteworthy head-scratcher:

Closed Practices
The two teams asked for -- and got -- permission to close their practices to the media for a half-hour. This limitation is reportedly the first in 19 years since "pool reporters" (a handful of representatives who file dispatches from practice to the media masses) were allowed to watch the entire practice.

The NFL said the restriction came after both teams raised "legitimate concerns," which smacks of irrational paranoia -- as if there is some Big Secret, and -- shh! -- its reporting will win the game for the other team!

On the Other Hand
Details of the pool coverage suggest that its value is limited. According to the AP, there's an ongoing "gentlemen's agreement" to stick only to generalities -- and the two teams have always had final editing say on the pool report, anyway. Missing out on that extra 30 minutes of team-censored journalism will really leave fans underserved this week.

Critics Speak Out
The key critics of the NFL's hiring practices -- Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri -- showed up in San Diego, and they weren't afraid to point fingers. Saying the league "can do better," they called out the Jaguars for talking big about hiring a head coach with previous head-coaching experience and a focus on offense, then reversing and picking Jack Del Rio, a defensive coordinator without head-coaching experience. It's an interesting case study: When the team changed its criteria, shouldn't it have at least chatted with minority candidates with experience similar to Del Rio?

Reinstate Rose?
So Pete Rose is "willing to admit" he bet on baseball, if he gets a full reinstatement. If he has been denying it (uh, lying) all these years, does baseball really have to bargain on that condition? Why

doesn't Rose show some good faith and a little honorability and admit it -- without a deal? A token of sincere remorse would be a positive development, rather than this farcical tit-for-tat -- as if he's doing baseball a favor by 'fessing up.

Playa-Haters, Rejoice
Not since the Yankees lost to the Angels or Notre Dame lost to Boston College have the Masses Who Can't Stand the Wildly Successful Teams had as much fun as last night, when both Kansas and Duke lost on the road. For Duke, that's two in a row, but at least N.C. State is an always-scrappy, underrated team; what's the Jayhawks' excuse? They lost to Colorado for the first time in almost 12 years. The nouveau-riche Buffs have "NCAA Tourney" (and "Ripe for first-round exit") written all over them.

Annika on PGA Tour
More dominating on the women's golf tour than Tiger Woods has been on the men's side, LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam said she would be interested in playing in a PGA Tour event. This would be much bigger than Suzy Whaley qualifying for the Greater Hartford Open; given the right course, Annika is the female athlete best-positioned to give male counterparts serious competition in a major sport.

NBA All-Star Starters
Who needs Charles Barkley? What would "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell say when the NBA All-Star starters are announced tonight? Here's a guess, based on Eastern Conference starter projections. Vince Carter: "You've got to be kidding me. This is a joke, right?" Jermaine O'Neal: "If 'All-Star' means 'one dimension on offense,' he's a great choice." Ben Wallace: "Love his look, but it's like saying, 'We have no interest in scoring.'" Allen Iverson: "And if he would actually pass the ball, he might have a shot at being on the Olympic team." Tracy McGrady: "Truly, talent like I haven't seen since Kelly Clarkson."

And as for the West:
Duncan, Garnett, Bryant, Francis and Yao? Even Simon would admit that this is about as good as it could get. ("Wait a second, stupid columnist: How could the fans not vote in Chris Webber? The jury is in, and he's guilty -- of being more worthy than Garnett.")