- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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For me, last year was slightly more bizarre than Governor Blagojevich's hair.
For one thing, for the first time since I was 5, I stopped writing altogether. No job for six months. For another, two very blocked writers were caught plagiarizing me. I can't imagine what they were thinking. It's like robbing a soup kitchen.
Then a writer with Slate.com decided to catalog all the dental references I've made in my nearly 30 years in the business. Yes. Yes, he did. He found that I've used at least 116, including, "11 molars (three of which are impacted), nine tooth-having or floss-happy animals (three sharks, two crocodiles, two rhinos, a deer, and a schnauzer), seven allusions to picking one's teeth (the items picked out include spinach, AstroTurf, and Retief Goosen), six sets of bicuspids, six orthodontists, five dentists, four allusions to the pains of gum surgery … and PGA Tour Qualifying School as evoking anesthetic-free dental surgery."
His piece even included a year-by-year bar graph of my dental comments (three in 1987), as well as an exhaustive accounting of each term I'd used and the number of times it appeared, including "bicuspid" (six), "gingivitis" (two) and "spit" (eight).
My first reaction was, "One hundred and sixteen references? That's all?"
So in the spirit of the new year, I am going to try to write the rest of this column using organs, diseases and medical terms I've never before typed with my, uh, phalanges. At least I think I haven't. The guy from Slate might tell me differently. So here goes.
In a perfect 2009 …
… Terrell Owens would sprain his voice box. And Ed Werder would dislocate his sacrum by laughing.
… Brett Favre would hold a retirement press conference that breaks all records for overflowing tear ducts and is attended by 32 empty chairs.
… Tom Brady would be so happy after spending 2008 with his new son that he'd become the annoying guy in the locker room always showing you pictures of the placenta.
… Tiger Woods would fire his caddie, Stevie Williams, for basically saying that Phil Mickelson could kiss his coccyx. As Williams walked off the course, every fan he ever screamed at would take his picture.
… WNBA savior and can't-miss Rookie of the Year Candace Parker would dunk so many times, she'd start naming them. Her favorite? The "Double X Chromosome in Your Dome Go Home Special."
… Barry Bonds would continue to think he wasn't retired, the same way Bruce Willis continued to think he wasn't
a cadaver in The Sixth Sense.
… Lance Armstrong would pass every drug test thrown at him, including one in which a digital chip is installed in his urethra. He'd then win his eighth Tour de France and moon Paris from his window at the George V.
… Radio weasel Don Imus would have to make ends meet by hosting three-day goiter seminars at assisted living homes—and be mistaken for a resident.
… Oklahoma would beat Florida 3-2 in a BCS game that's uglier than a bag of colons, causing a four-way tie in the final tally for No. 1, causing president-elect Barack Obama to declare an emergency playoff system. Any university president dumb enough to argue with him would get his school's federal funding yanked and be made Secretary of Eczema.
… Plaxico Burress would miss the entire season after a patella injury involving a smuggled crossbow.
… Former crack-addicted Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton would keep making pitchers wish they'd stayed home with gallstones while he stayed as clean as Oprah's plate.
… The closest Annika Sorenstam would come to worrying about a set of round dimples would be on the faces of her twins.
… Stephon Marbury would reconsider his decision to sit on his butt for $21.9M after spending a little time with disabled Iraq vets who would do anything to get up again.
… Indefatigable Lions coach Rod Marinelli would accept "full and total responsibility" for his team's continued losing ways, the real estate market bust and gout.
… Al Davis' bile ducts would finally back up, causing him to go into a delirium in which he actually thinks he's Jennifer Love Hewitt, causing the NFL to take over the Raiders and staff it entirely with the 3,374 coaches Davis has fired during his toxic life.
And finally …
… Rafael Nadal and I would complete the world's first successful hair transplant.
So stick that in your navicular cavity.
2008 was pretty odd. Here's what I'm hoping for in 2009.