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Thursday, April 24, 2003
Alma mater blues

By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist

It's really difficult for me to come up with someone from the sports world I truly despise; someone I'd call a "corrupt, wicked scoundrel." Keyshawn Johnson is a punk, not a villain. Marty Schottenheimer is a dishonest chump, not a villain. Allen Iverson is an immature lost soul, not a villain. O.J. Simpson is too easy a target.

Page 2's villains
  • Ralph Wiley on John Thompson
  • Bill Simmons on Bill Laimbeer
  • Brian Murphy on Tommy Lasorda
  • Eric Neel on Reggie Jackson
  • Patrick Hruby on fans
  • Dan Shanoff on Duke hoops
  • Jason Whitlock on Joel Smeenge
  • Chris McKendry on Tonya Harding
  • Tim Keown on bad influence
  • So in order to come up with a true villain, I had to search my own personal sports-participation library. You may have never heard of Joel Smeenge. He played in the NFL for a decade, chasing quarterbacks for the Saints and the Jaguars.

    Before he did that, he was a 6-foot-6, 250-pound defensive end at Western Michigan University who absolutely ruined my last two years of college football. I still have nightmares about Joel Smeenge and his lightning, Michael Jordan-esque first step at the line of scrimmage.

    In 1987, late in the fourth quarter of game played on Waldo Stadium's Astro Turf, I forgot the snap count, and Smeenge circled me before I ever got out of my stance. It was a classic "look-out block!" Smeenge drove my quarterback, Wade Kosakowski, beneath the turf, injuring his shoulder so badly that Kosakowski never suited up again for the Ball State Cardinals.

    The next year, playing in the biggest game at BSU Stadium in a decade, Smeenge's two-sack outing against yours truly helped the Broncos steal the Mid-American Conference title and Las Vegas Bowl trip away from my Cardinals. We lost 16-13. I still have trouble looking many of my former teammates in the eyes.

    Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at ballstate0@aol.com.