I was in Florida almost the entire month fishing and golfing...all for good causes. I was honored to partake in Chi Chi Rodriguez's golf tournament that benefited a school for abused and neglected children. I hacked my way through that benefit, then joined such illuminates as Wade Boggs and Three Dog Night's Cory Wells at Tampa Bay Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar's fish tournament that helped out the Florida Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Then from there I went down to the Keys for the Red Bone Fishing Tourney which benefits Cystic Fibrous. I was lucky enough to cast with fly fishing great Stu Apte before we were evacuated because of an approaching hurricane. I am always glad to help out any charities, but it is always good to get back home, so let's get right to it!
The ABC remake of the classic sports film, Brian's Song, aired last Sunday. I had no desire to watch it. Why remake that movie? The only answer I can come up with is money. James Caan and Billy Dee Williams were perfect in that movie, and to see anyone else play Sayers and Piccolo just seems wrong.
Mark McGwire is retiring. I'm sad to see him go, but he's a proud guy and I respect that. His integrity would not allow him to collect a paycheck when he cannot compete at the level he has been accustomed to...that is a man to admire.
That brings us to the other recently retiree, Michael Jordan. Now I know the Wizards are a bad team and Mike has lost a step or two, but what a testament to his amazing abilities to be able to come back after being out of the game, at his age, and still put up 30-40 points in this youth-dominated NBA. Regarding the pundits who lambaste Mike for 'tarnishing his legacy' I say, it's his to tarnish, it's his life, and if playing ball makes him happy and he can still make an impact so be it. It's none of our (the fans') business what he does with his career. Heck, I'd love to go back and play football again!
Speaking of football...my old team the Minnesota Vikings are not doing well at all. I guess that may be an understatement, especially for all you Vikings fans out there. My take on the disappointing season is this; with the passing of Korey Stringer, an anchor physically and emotionally, may have been what started this team to go adrift. Another stabilizing force in running back Robert Smith has been sorely missed as well. The real catalyst I believe is Dennis Green's inability to control his star players like Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Carter's antics like screaming at teammates on the sideline and Moss's taunting penalty a couple weeks ago are perfect examples. Green has to get control back and show the team who is boss. I remember back in my era, Coach Bud Grant was always in control, and there was always accountability. Today's star players are so well paid they really have no one to answer to. In all likelihood, a coach will be fired before a high-money player is confronted by his own lack of production.
For my final thought, and one that does pop up in my column frequently, is the lack of dignity in sports. Some of the guys I mentioned above, Jordan, McGwire and Robert Smith, all had dignity when they played their respective games. These guys showed up, played their hearts out, did everything they could to win, but didn't have the need or desire to taunt, dance or disrespect their opponents. To me, a player dancing after a play is fundamentally wrong...it seems so out of place...almost as if you saw a player smoking a cigarette after a play...just plain wrong.
Ok, to leave on a fun note...
I was at Joe Montana's charity for the Boys and Girls Club in San Fran a few weeks ago, and I had a chance to chat with Barry Sanders. We were chatting for a while and when I mentioned he had broken Marcus Allen's college rushing record, who had previously broken mine, he was shocked. The thing is, Barry knew me from my acting stuff, but didn't know I had played football! My ego is still recovering! Haha...
Have a great Holiday month and I will chat with you all soon!
December 12, 2001