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Days before I met George Taliaferro in 2007, I was scouring the IU Archives when I discovered a correspondence.
When he acquired Village Deli nine years ago, owner Bob Costello had only one goal in mind: to bring the more-than-30-year-old restaurant back to its original objective.\n"Village Deli is a really busy place," Costello said. "On a typical day, we serve 800 to 1,000 people in six hours. It feels more like a New York deli than restaurant."\nAnd like a New York deli, Village Deli's atmosphere is infused with energetic vibes and an enthusiastic wait staff to help you decide from the extensive menu.\n"We want customers to have good, quick and friendly service," Costello said. "We want them to feel welcome and entertained, and we have enough college students that it's a pretty entertaining atmosphere."\nThe high energy of Village Deli is what makes it the unique business that it is, he said. Serving such a diverse base of customers, Costello said his business feels no competition from other popular delis and breakfast diners.\nHowever, you shouldn't confuse Village Deli with the typical burger-and-fries joint. Boasting a menu including dolphin-safe tuna salad sandwiches, "basic" BLTs and the Jammin' Jamaican on a kaiser roll, the restaurant provides seemingly endless possibilities of taste.\nAlthough it excels at its lunch and dinner dishes, Village Deli is best-known for its breakfast items, especially its pancakes, Costello said.\n"They're nine inches 'round," he said. "They're huge and really good."\nMade from scratch, the pancakes can come with either fresh fruit, homemade granola, chocolate chips, walnuts or peanut-butter chips depending on the taste of the discriminating diner.\nBut Costello said his favorite dish at the restaurant is The Spinach Scramble.\n"It's the perfect complement to eggs," he said. "It's got Swiss cheese, fresh-cut onions, spinach and bacon. The combination is just amazing."\nI've always found it difficult to find a restaurant where vegetarians can eat, but in Bloomington, there are countless options. I began my search for veg-friendly dining at Village Deli, and was more than impressed with the selection of meat-free meals.\nI chose the I Dream of Falafel, or Tahini on My Mind, platter with homemade tahini and the famous Village Deli Hot Potato Chips. Stuffed into a toasted pita, the aromatic falafel was appreciably spicy but not crunchy enough for my taste. Lettuce, tomato and diced cucumbers were stuffed into the pita, making it a little messy but delicious nonetheless.\nMy friend chose the highly recommended Spinach Scramble, complementing the "chewy bacon and cheesiness" of the omelette. Using the accompanying toast, she created a sandwich that "took it to another level."\nIn addition to falafels, Costello said vegetarians can enjoy vegetarian chili and Dave's Veggie Burger Deluxe, topped with lettuce, onion, mayonnaise, guacamole and hot-pepper cheese. The Deli Melt and Vegetable Village Delight are also available for the herbivore.\n"We make everything ourselves; everything is homemade." Costello said. "It's labor-intensive, but you can taste the difference with our dishes"
In August 1965, the boundaries of rock and folk music were torn down by Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. Continuing the move he started on Bring It All Back Home (1965), Dylan hired a full band and went completely electric for the first time. Not only is Highway Dylan's most rocking effort, it proved that music doesn't have to be acoustic and reserved to be literate and complex. \nHighway begins with perhaps the most famous bit of percussion in history, the snare shot that opens "Like a Rolling Stone." The song sets the album's mood -- a cynical, chaotic attitude that had never been heard before. Then comes the raucous "Tombstone Blues," led by the squealing guitar of Mike Bloomfield, in which Dylan spins out his challenging, surreal lyrics with ease. Al Kooper's organ makes "Ballad of a Thin Man" a prison-blues song, letting you know this is the Dylan of the streets, not of upper-class New York. The title track finds Dylan challenging American principles, from capitalism to religion, over a romping rhythm-guitar line. Highway closes with the highly ambitious 11-minute "Desolation Row," which runs through troubling stories of several unlikely characters above an elegant guitar line. \nEvery second of the album is classic, and it includes some of rock's most well-written songs. Lyrically, Highway can be seen as the first punk album, with its hopeless anarchic talk of America in a time of chaos. Although Dylan made Highway during the '60s in the middle of the Vietnam War, the lyrics are still relevant to America today. Along with The Beatles albums Rubber Soul and Revolver that came out the same year, Highway 61 Revisited proved that rock 'n' roll could be intelligent and rebellious at the same time.
Ever write a last-minute essay without knowing a damn thing about the topic, but for some reason you're just really on your game and you just write beautifully? You know, one of those grade-A bullshit papers that meets all the requirements and appears all snazzy, but lacks anything truly tangible?\nThat's "Transformers."\nIt meets the explosion requirements for a summer blockbuster. It certainly exceeds the required amount of cheesy, cliche action scenes. And it even features alien robots, doubling up the summer blockbuster requirement of robots, aliens, super heros, natural disasters or time travel.\nFor those reasons, the movie would earn a passing grade. But I'm no easy-going T.A. "Transformers" drops into D+ territory because behind the glitz and glamour of shiny robots and mass chaos, this really is a bad movie.\nPerhaps my disappointment with "Transformers" stems partly from my expectation that it would offer a change of pace from long-winded, short-sighted action flicks. With Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg each attaching their name to the project, I anticipated a clean, compact thriller that starts, peaks, ends and leaves you desperate for more. And the trailers only fueled that fiery expectation.\nInstead, "Transformers" felt more like a hybrid between the 1999 cartoon movie "The Iron Giant" and a Chevy commercial. And no, I wasn't feeling the revolution.\nThe cold, robotic heart of this movie rested on the relationship between Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) and his camaro-bot "Bumblebee." This plot line is literally torn right from "Iron Giant:" boy discovers robot, grows to love robot, secret government agency tries to separate boy and robot, robot eventually computes a human emotion -- love. Only difference here is we also get some eye candy in Sam's typical nerd-aiming-way-out-of-his-league love interest Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). Her acting almost matches her sex appeal, but she leaves LeBeouf looking like he should stick to the Disney channel.\nThe rest of the undeveloped story lines revolve around a troop of soldiers in the Middle East (shocker), and two "pack it in" performances from Jon Voight and John Turturro.\nFrom there, the action scenes were cool and the robots were impressive, but the bang hardly exceeded the bore of the non-robot-fighting scenes. Plus, it seemed that each cool action sequence was capped off with some "Ra-Ra Freedom Ra-Ra" speech from Optimus Prime which really killed the mood.\nSo, sorry Transformer fans, but you may want to stick to the toys.
Being a college coach is a thankless job, but Coach Hoeppner’s arrival at Bloomington in 2004 was a rousing affair worthy of royalty. He had brought along a defibrillator for the fans who were fast asleep until basketball season. Hoeppner was the face of IU football – literally. The campus was colored with an inordinate number of images that stated, “Coach Hoeppner wants YOU.” \nUncle Sam be damned, Coach Hoeppner had horned the Hoosiers for help. \nIn that sense, he was a savior. The Hoosiers beat Kentucky to start the 2005 season with an unbeaten 3-0 record. Coach Hoeppner had dedicated that win to his mentor Stewart “Red” Faught. The game signaled an attitude change in Bloomington. Coach Hoeppner had asked students to come out and cheer for an IU victory. They arrived in droves until the final exasperating seconds when the whole stadium shook (yes! The fans were still in the stadium!) with exuberance, exhilaration and the belief that IU football was ready to turn to excellence.\nHe was a fighter. Fans, foes and football players alike discovered this during the week following their game against Kentucky when IU was challenged to their first conference game in Madison, Wisc. Coach Hoeppner refused to let his football team revert back from revelry. But as the game began to slip out of the Hoosiers’ hands, Coach Hoeppner threw his headphones like a soccer style throw-in onto the field, landing inches from the referee’s feet. On that cool, autumn afternoon, Coach Hoeppner’s face was more crimson than his collar.\nHe was a winner. Despite falling one victory short of a bowl game in the 2006 season, Coach Hoeppner returned from a two-game absence and rallied his team back from the two non-conference losses they endured while he was gone. The IU players took to their coach’s form and fought for their savior. Coach Hoeppner’s Hoosiers toppled No. 13 Iowa by scoring 24 of the game’s final 31 points. Two weeks later, Coach Hoeppner led his men to a victory against Michigan State and aligned the team one win away from their first bowl bid in more than 13 seasons. \nBut above all, he was the eternal optimist. In Coach Hoeppner’s eyes, the Hoosiers had as much of a chance to win versus Nicholls State as they did in a game versus Ohio State. In Coach Hoeppner’s eyes, the Hoosiers never “lost” – they simply didn’t beat their opponent. It didn’t matter if you, the fan, never knew the difference, because Coach Hoeppner always did. \nEven after a loss to Purdue in the final throes of the 2006 season – falling one game shy of his dream to play a thirteenth game – Coach Hoeppner maintained hope. His shoulders were slumped with fatigue and his face forced away tears, while his wife, Jane, looked on with grave concern in the post-game conference. But Coach Hoeppner always saw the glass half-full. To him, the game of football was full of seasons. The end of one ultimately signaled the beginning of another, and a renewed glint would glaze over his eyes. \n“Did we accomplish everything that we could have?” Coach Hoeppner asked rhetorically in the last press conference of the season. “No. But we’ve affected a lot of people, we’ve laid a foundation, and the spirit is great, not only with the team, but within the Hoosier Nation. I will return next year and for as long as they’ll keep me around here.”\nCoach Hoeppner’s job was thankless and his death untimely. Perhaps he – the eternal optimist – would not say that he lost his life to a brain tumor; rather, he simply didn’t beat it. So as seasons turn from spring to summer and eventually summer to fall, IU football will begin anew, without Coach Hoeppner, but still with hope. What I learned from Coach Hoeppner was that in the heart of every Hoosier who returns seasonally to Memorial Stadium, there lies hope. There is, in fact, a little bit of Coach Hoeppner in all of us. Coach Hoeppner did not leave Bloomington on Tuesday morning. He will always exist in some form. He will live on in the memory of every Hoosier who knows that a rock is worth defending, and a first down is worth celebrating.\nBeing a college coach may be a thankless job, but Coach Hoeppner was more than just a coach; he was the captain of boundless expectations in Bloomington. Thank you, Coach Hoeppner. Thank you for breathing life back into IU football. Thank you for revealing that the beating heart of this basketball town was spotted brown with white laces. Thank you for everything. You were a savior, a fighter, a winner and a friend. \nThank you, Coach Hoeppner.
This is it. For four years I have dreamed about writing this article: my last column in college. \nFirst, some advice to the incoming freshmen:\nThere are two things you should always have: a fake ID and shower sandals. Do not lose either. \nA Miller Lite might be a good call, but an AMF at Upstairs is a better one. \nIf you want a winning football program, go to the games. If you want to binge-drink and black out before the sun sets, tailgate until the lights go out in your head. \nLose your high-school girlfriend. College is the time to be a hunter, not a husband. \nNow, without further adieu, this is what I’ve learned living in Bloomington:\nSink the biz, not your grade-point average.\nBloomington’s bar version of the board game Battleship is fun and easy. Going to class and doing the work, however, is neither fun nor easy. But ultimately, college forces kids to prioritize. First save yourself from failing out, and then sink your sobriety. \nSports is a sport.\nThe art of surviving at a big time bar like Kilroy’s Sports Bar is to treat it like a sport. Hone your skills, but have fun. Sports on Walnut Street is a combination of pitchers, pals and possible hook-ups. All three elements must be delicately balanced to maximize your good time. But above all – pick up girls, don’t poke them. When you poke someone on Facebook, you’re saying: “I’m too much of a coward to talk to you in person, so here’s a virtual poke!” While it is not the lowest form of communication between the sexes, it is only slightly above grunting.\nClassroom romances are nice in theory, but destructive in practice.\nRemember those mornings when the only thing uglier than your hangover headache is the sight of the person in your bed? Yeah, now imagine that every morning, including during tests, lectures and class work. \nDon’t ever live in Smallwood Plaza. Ever.\nYeah, I said it. Take it from a Jersey Jew: Smallwood is the ghettoization of the stupid, the spoiled and the narcissistic. Conversations don’t include “Iraq.” No, instead they begin with “I rock.” In the next decade Bloomington will continue to build these enormous apartment complexes, which serve at the convenience of students with wealthier parents. Smallwood unites these students in a community that couldn’t care less about what is going on outside their own small worlds.\nCollege is a struggle between brains.\nYes, contrary to science, there are two brains. One is above the waist, the other is below. Try and use the one on top of your shoulders as much as possible. \nDespite its title, “Guitar Hero” is for losers.\nWhen you, the video gamer, can pick up a real guitar and play songs like “Free Bird” and “Jessica,” then you can boast about your bitchin’ skills. Until then, get help and get a life. \nNothing good can happen after 2 a.m.\nIf your watch reads 2:01 a.m. and you’re thinking, ‘Is this a good idea or a bad idea?,’ chances are it’s a terrible idea that will result in either jail time, a disease, a broken heart, a broken nose, a fine, a newborn baby or time in a rehab facility. Maybe even a combination of them all. No, nothing good can happen after 2 a.m. \nWhen people say they’re from Chicago...\nYeah, they’re not. If IU students could draw a map of Chicago, it would include the planet Neptune. Is it really so hard to say “suburb outside Chicago” or “northwest Indiana?” You keep telling yourself that you are from Chicago, and I’ll keep telling myself that you’re full of it. \nNever order a second \nHairy Bear.\nThe only thing that follows a second Hairy Bear from Bear’s Place is an even hairier night. Drink one, skip the second and order a beer instead. \nThe Drunk Bus is your best friend when alcohol is your worst enemy. \nThe Drunk Bus is the University’s solution to the drinking epidemic in Bloomington. “If you can’t beat ’em, drive ’em,” and the Drunk Bus is the premier transportation tool for the intoxicated. So whether you’re stumbling out of Sports or sneaking out to complete the Walk of Shame, the Drunk Bus is your best friend. \nSo, in two weeks I will sail back east toward the Big Apple, bagels baked right and a black oblivion called the future. For four years I have called a college in Bloomington my home, and the one certainty I’ve learned is this: \nSmile like you mean it, IU. If we as college students have learned anything from Virginia Tech, it is that any day – even one spent in a classroom – can be your last. Don’t waste your time with those who think you are a waste of theirs. Find a group of friends, finish your degree and forge your own future.\nIf you take one thing seriously, my fellow Hoosiers, make it your smile. \nAfter all, college is not four years; it’s four seconds. And they’ll be over before you can count them.
Two weeks ago, I sat across from former IU halfback George Taliaferro as he delicately described to me that an element of racism still exists in Bloomington. I stopped him instinctively in self-defense. I pointed out the integration of Indiana and America’s ongoing efforts to surrender the entire English language to political correctness. \nI said, “C’mon, that stuff doesn’t happen anymore.” \nThat’s when Taliaferro stopped me with the palm of his hand. He aligned his eyes with mine and said, “How do you know that stuff doesn’t happen anymore?” \nIn the last five years, I retorted, IU has hired its first black coach in men’s basketball history and its first black president in University history. Mike Davis and Adam Herbert are surely signs of change, aren’t they? \nTaliaferro didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. \nIn less than three months, those signs will have changed. Davis resigned in February 2006 and Herbert is out of office in July. Their names will be replaced, ushered under the rug of normalcy like dust balls the size of boll weevils. \nStill, the sign that reads “Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center” stands in front of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building. Still, the sign that honors a man who believed segregation brought social stability remains intact. And yet, Herbert – the one black man still in a position of power to replace the racist sign – well, he’d rather not. \nShortly after my column appeared last Tuesday in the Indiana Daily Student, Herbert released a statement. In it he added: “I have asked Provost McRobbie to initiate that dialogue and develop a proposed presentation to the board as soon as possible.”\nBut, about a half-hour later, Herbert revised his statement to read: \n“I am disappointed, but not surprised. … These revelations provide an opportunity for dialogue around issues of race. … This dialogue will enable us to consider how best to proceed with respect to the name of the building.” \nI will be graduating in less than three weeks, and with no more ties to this University, I urge our campus’ leaders to face the facts. The Wildermuth sign is a testament of IU’s tolerance to those theories. Yet, leaders such as Herbert are standing in the path of the light that I am trying to shed on this sign. Their stoicism shadows any growth, shatters any progressive outcome.\nChanging the Wildermuth sign is not a revision of history, rather it marks the changing times of history. After all, I am not a revisionist on history, I am revisiting history. \nBut, I need help. The first black president in IU history should be standing alongside me, atop a soapbox, urging Bloomington to openly discuss this issue. When Herbert’s tenure ends June 30, I would hope that president-elect Michael McRobbie would help fight for a forum. \nOver the past year, events have erupted in revealing the racial tensions of our great nation. These volcanoes of vulgarity recently include Don Imus and the Duke lacrosse team. Both cases resulted in heavy handed reactions that did not help address the root of the problem in a thoughtful manner. In these circumstances racial conflicts were not solved – they were inflamed. \nThe University needs to be a leader, because that stuff is still happening.\nOn Oct. 31, 2005, Taliaferro was sitting at home with his wife preparing for trick-or-treaters. Taliaferro’s porch light illuminated as he opened the door to the sight of three white children. The eldest was a girl, followed by her two younger brothers. With a joke and a smile, Taliaferro grabbed a fistful of candy from his bucket and placed it in the girl’s bag. He did the same for the second eldest. Then the youngest child, no more than 5 years old in Taliaferro’s estimation, approached with his bag wide open and his eyes glued to the floor. Taliaferro transferred the candy from his bucket to the child’s bag. \nWithout lifting his eyes the boy said, “Thanks, nigger.” \nTaliaferro’s face turned to stone; his eyes remained fixated on the spot where the child had been.\nThe girl grabbed her brother’s arm and yelled, “Shut up, David!” as the three children vanished into the night. Taliaferro stood still at his doorway, still gripping the bucket of candy. \nSo ask yourself Indiana: How do you know that stuff doesn’t happen anymore?
I bet you've passed it a few hundred times, maybe more.
That’s it. I am putting my foot down. \nIf NASCAR is a sport, then driving your car should be considered an aerobic activity. \nPutting on your seat belt should be practiced as often as a jump shot, and changing your tire should be clocked like the 40-yard dash. \nIt is a maddening time when a man in a machine is more touted for his athletic abilities than men who actually use their legs in sport. NASCAR drivers don’t use their legs, they use their feet. Placing your foot on and off the pedal does not require strength or conditioning. It is repetitive and retarded. So instead – accelerate, brake and bite me. \nBut, my problem is not with NASCAR. It is with America loving NASCAR. It is living in a country where people eat, sleep and breathe these cars because they love fast motors, loud noises and sensational wrecks. The fans are real-life versions of “Anchorman’s” Brick Tamland. As car blow by them, fans throw both fists in the air and scream at the top of their lungs, “LOUD NOISES!” \nLast Sunday, NASCAR drivers used the first Car of Tomorrow in Bristol, Tenn. The car features a steering wheel closer to the center of the car, a more upright windshield and a higher center of gravity. The Car of Tomorrow drew a firestorm of criticism from drivers who found it tough to adjust to Bristol’s higher banks, wider turns and shorter straightaways. I say: Drivers, be glad there is a tomorrow for NASCAR – so suit up, saddle up and shut up. \nI am standing my ground on NASCRAP. I plead to my fellow readers, don’t watch NASCAR. Watch Major League Soccer. Watch the National Hockey League. Hell, turn on an Arena Football game. Pay attention to a sport with a playoff system, not a points system. A leaping header is much more interesting than a left turn. A body check and broken plexiglass beat a blown tire and a pit stop any day of the week. \nThere is a reason NASCAR is the only sport in America that allows spectators to bring coolers full of alcohol into the stadium. They want their fans to get so flushed that they can’t feel their face, let alone remember who crossed the finish line first. Alcohol is all well and good, but I am not cool with Billy Bob and Mary Ann conceiving a child on the track’s infield. I’m sorry sport fans, but I don’t think a brother and sister should be doing that sort of thing. \nRather than admiring a gymnast or a goalkeeper, Americans prefer to glamorize the Jiffy Lube guy. NASCAR boasts better ratings than baseball, and when compared to other premier sports events since the 2001 season, only the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 have enjoyed an increase in viewership. Even satellite radio is jumping on the spoiler. Sirius Satellite Radio was granted exclusive broadcasting rights to NASCAR through 2011. It airs the radio communication between driver and crew chief for 10 teams each race.\nGet serious, America. The only “bumping” and “grinding” I want to see in sports is upstairs at the North Walnut Street bar. The only Bristol I know is home to ESPN, and the only Car of Tomorrow that I want to see is one that flies over traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. (Whoops – I gave away my identity). \nAnd yet, NASCAR – like reality television – continues to gain ratings because we are nation of nimrods. \nIf this is the sport of tomorrow, Sirius-ly kill me.
Pam and Jim from "The Office" make pulling pranks on your co-workers look hilarious. We tried to pull some of our own in-office pranks, but there wasn't a lot of laughter. Pranking is hard.\nIf you want everyone to hate you, April Fools' Day is the holiday for you. One of our pranks ended in tears. It was two minutes of excitement followed by hours of guilt and regret eating away at the pits of our stomachs. Trust us, it hurt to exhale. We learned one important lesson on our quest for the perfect prank: Fake deaths are not as funny as you'd think.\nWe tried to pay tribute to the classic prank-call genre, but posing as a bereavement counselor and telling a co-worker that someone they know is dead … we don't recommend it.
It must feel good to be king.\nFor the fifth straight season, the NFL set a paid attendance record by surpassing 22 million fans for the first time. The figure, which includes playoff games, is up 400,000 fans from the 2005 season. \nBut I don’t need to explain the success of football to you Americans. \nThe NFL has given America a new religious experience on Sundays. Every Sunday you are brought back under the allure that any given Sunday your team can win and their team can lose. \nAnd guess what, my pigskin-lovin’ patriots – it’s a sham. \nYou’re thinking: “Oh Holy Lord? Did he just call our Father, football, a farce? Did he label our Sunday savior a charade?” \nYou’re damn straight, and I’ve reloaded. \nWhat you see on Sundays is not pure; it is an illusion. Corrupt because there are athletes who use performance enhancers, more specifically human-growth hormones. \nAnyone in there, McFly? HGH is a problem for baseball, not football, moron. \nBut unlike Major League Baseball, the NFL has continued to blossom beyond the scrutiny of human-growth hormones. Although both leagues ban HGH, neither tests for the drug right now. \nThe drug HGH is used by athletes in a synthetic form to more quickly build stronger muscle tissue.\nImagine if your parents set curfew for you at midnight but admitted they would not be awake to catch you if you break it. Would you still sneak out? Of course you would, and anyone who says no is a Barry Bonds (my new word for “liar”).\nTo reiterate, reader, the NFL prohibits the use of HGH – but it does not test for it. \nMakes about as much sense as drafting Mario Williams as the first overall pick. \nGene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, says he will not allow testing for HGH until the World Anti-Doping Agency comes up with a way to detect the drug in urine. Upshaw scoffs at the idea that the NFL should have to adhere to random blood tests, as WADA has advised the league to do. This is the organization using the same tests that were applied to Olympic athletes at the 2004 Athens and 2006 Torino Games. Yet Upshaw told The Charlotte Observer that he would not allow WADA blood-test kits for HGH in the league. \n“I am not willing to accept them as an authority on this,” he said.\nIf WADA isn’t the authority on detecting HGH in a player’s system, then who is – Sammy Sosa? \nWADA President Dick Pound defended the tests. \n“You can’t look at a cross section of the NFL and its players and not come to the conclusion ... that some of this is being used.” \nYou see, the NFL does not want to test for HGH because it knows some athletes depend on it. What’s worse, players are scared as hell to be exposed to their adoring public. The same public that went to war on Major League Baseball for all types of performance enhancers has shown mercy on its novelist love. Meanwhile, baseball is in the throws of a Reconstruction era. \nBreathe, eat and sleep football. But as you wrap your favorite team’s afghan around your body on those sanctified Sundays, you cover yourself in a veil of ignorance. \nBut is it the ignorance of the football league or the fans? Both have failed to see the athletes who cheat – any given Sunday on every given Sunday. Win or lose, we all lose. \nThe NFL is the most profitable sports league in America, damn it – it must lead by example. No other league can make the statement against performance enhancers like the NFL can. Yet no one wants to know the truth. Until the NFL tests for HGH, I pledge to paganize the NFL for its ignorance. \nI pledge to do it every day – and, of course, twice on Sundays.
With Opening Day approaching, the future of Major League Baseball is anything but rosy.\n• Former Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose admitted on ESPN Radio last Wednesday, “I bet on my team to win every night,” and all facts published in the Dowd Report about his bets on baseball were true, he said. Yet the report reads that Rose did not bet on his team every night. If he keeps digging his hole deeper, Rose will reach China before he reaches Cooperstown.\n• Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers added designated hitter Sammy Sosa to their roster. Clean and cleared of his former young-gun form, Sosa, who remains 12 home runs shy of 600, is scheduled to be a spokesman for Ocean Spray’s newest flavor: “Sammy’s Baseball Has Been Berry, Berry Good to Me Blast.” \n• On Feb. 27, Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that Anaheim Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. was sent human growth hormones from a pharmacy suspected of illegally selling performance-enhancing substances on the Internet. Taking HGH is proven to turn you from flabby and slow into a full-blown gun show. When asked to comment, Matthews finally did – 16 days later. During his silence, Matthews did what all guilty people do. He lawyer’d up and lied his ass off. \nBut Matthews cannot be prosecuted. Evidence only proves that Matthews purchased the banned drugs. Though there is no lawful way to pin Matthews with using HGH, common sense asserts that he did. My fellow readers, would you buy a slew of illegal drugs only to let them sit on your kitchen shelf? Hell no. You would sift through, smoke and snort until “Sesame Street’s” Snuffleupagus was doing cartwheels on your ceiling. \nBut alas, Matthews’s most cunning play was, in fact, performed off the field. As if it were a deep fly ball to center field, Matthews has charged up the wall, reached forward and robbed the game of its integrity.\nIrony will be served if Matthews is there to catch Barry Bonds’ 756th home run just as it’s about to whiz over the wall. I won’t get into Bonds, because if you don’t know his story by now, what the hell are you doing reading the Sports section? This season, he is 22 home runs away from surpassing Hank Aaron as the all-time home-run leader. And while Aaron began his baseball career with the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns in 1951, Bonds is concluding his career acting like one. \n• Yesterday, San Diego Padres pitcher David Wells discovered that he has Type 2 diabetes. When asked for a comment, Wells raised his head from a trough of doughnuts and said, “I have no idea how this happened.”\n• The cast of characters continues with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. According to A-Rod, this upcoming season is a “do-or-die situation” that will determine whether he will stay or go. In his years as a Yankee, A-Rod has remained apathetic about the Big Apple. In throwing down the gauntlet, Rodriguez sounds more like the baseball version of a brat from MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16”: He (A-Rod) is upset because his party hasn’t gone as successfully as daddy (owner George Steinbrenner) had promised. If only daddy could buy his brat a World Series ring – oh what a world it would be. \nWelcome to Opening Day 2007 – where players don’t just bring their baseball gloves and bats. They’re bringing their lawyers, their guns and a helluva lot of money. Determining whether a player is a hero or a villain is as ambiguous as a Greek tragedy. Some are liars, some are cheaters. Some are gamblers, and some are over-eaters. \nAnd the lesson of it all? From A-Rod to Warren Zevon: If you’re in baseball, and in trouble – bring lawyers, guns and money. Maybe your daddy will get you out of it.\n \n• AL East: New York • NL East: Philadelphia\n• AL Central: Minnesota\n• NL Central: Pittsburgh \n (hey, why not?) \n• AL West: Anaheim \n• NL West: Los Angeles \n• AL wild card: Chicago \n• NL wild card: New York
Do you know what it takes to make a hockey player cry? \nA hockey player won’t cry if you hip-check his head into a wall. He won’t cry if a slap shot finds its way underneath his eyelid. He even won’t cry if an opposing player pulls a Happy Gilmore and tries to stab him with the blade of his skate.\nDo you want to make a hockey player cry? Trade him, and you’ll turn on the faucet to his eyes. That is what happened to forward Ryan Smyth, who was traded last week from the Edmonton Oilers to the New York Islanders. Smyth had been with Edmonton since they chose him in the sixth overall pick of the 1994 NHL Draft.\nHe was a beloved player in the birth place of hockey. At the Edmonton International Airport, Smyth spoke to reporters moments before boarding a flight to New York. He stammered out a “thank you” to the Edmonton community, pausing at every other word to sniffle through his mucus-filled nostrils. \n“I have to do my best now,” Smyth told reporters, “to make the playoffs, win the (Stanley) Cup and bring it back to Edmonton ... because that’s where my heart is.” \nSmyth couldn’t finish the word “Edmonton,” succumbing to the tears that had formed flush around his eyes. \nWhile Smyth was sad, wide receiver Joe Horn was angry.\nHorn had spent six seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He joined the team in 2000 and quickly helped the Saints win their first playoff game in franchise history. During the Hurricane Katrina-forced exile in 2005, Horn was the spokesman for the team. That year the Saints represented a team unwilling to quit for a city unwilling to close shop.\nSoon, the worst of times announced some of the Saint’ best times. Their forgettable 3-13 record in ’05 turned into an unforgettable 10-6 season in ’06. Under first-year head coach Sean Peyton, the Saints announced their arrival as a top team for years to come. But Horn won’t be along for the ride. The Saints released him last week despite the veteran’s plea to stay on the roster.\n“If I felt I was wanted here, I would have played for $2.50,” Horn told reporters. \nInstead, he is forced to turn in the fleur-de-lis. Today, he is just another homeless resident of New Orleans.\nHaving found his fourth home in four years, quarterback Jeff Garcia now feels duped. Last season, Garcia took over at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles after star quarterback Donovan McNabb’s season-ending knee surgery Nov. 19. Garcia took a 5-5 team under McNabb and led them to their fifth NFC East title in six years.\nIn the offseason, Garcia had hoped the Eagles would make an attempt to keep him on as a back-up. Instead, the Eagles agreed to a three-year contract extension with third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley. Garcia had fallen in love with Philadelphia’s fans and hoped to stay put. \n“It wasn’t about money,” Garcia said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. “It was about being in a great situation.” \nThe tales of Smyth, Horn and Garcia highlight one infallible fact of sport. It is, at its very core, a business. In each league, the players are laborers. The coaches are bosses, the owners are management, the fans are consumers, and every game is another day at work. Although it is a well-paying job (Horn will find a new home before thousands of other Katrina victims find one), these once adored athletes have abruptly been shown the door. \nAthletes who once played for love of the game became talented enough to continue for love of money. But their desire for dollars left empty holes in their hearts, holes that can only be filled by one passion – the love for their communities.\nNow that’s love enough to make a hockey player cry.
The 1946 IU head basketball coach Branch McCracken pondered a question as the crowd held its breath. McCracken was publicly asked about “Jumpin’ Johnny” Wilson, a black man from Anderson who was named Mr. Basketball later that year. Wilson wanted to play for IU, but McCracken, in accordance with the Big Ten gentlemen’s agreement, had never recruited a black basketball player. That night in the Anderson YMCA, a man stood up and confronted the coach with that question. \n“Coach,” the stranger asked, according to “Getting Open” by Tom Graham and Rachel Graham Cody, “Can Wilson play for IU?” \nMcCracken waited a moment – which could have been his greatest – to declare his intentions to not recruit one of Indiana’s greatest centers. \nHe broke the still silence. \nMcCracken looked up and stated, “I don’t think he could make my team.” \nOnce the word “team” was uttered, an individual named Johnny Wilson was washed away in the tide of segregation. \nThough McCracken’s intentions were blurry, the imagery was clear: the gentlemen’s agreement, soaked in irony, blackballed blacks from playing Big Ten basketball. But a local activist named Faburn DeFrantz refused to see that same tide that swept up Wilson and Bill Garrett, who had just led the Shelbyville Golden Bears to a state championship. DeFrantz had to convince both then-IU President Herman B Wells and McCracken to let him play. Wells agreed if Garrett could make the grades. McCracken agreed if Garrett could make the team – giving Indiana’s 1947 Mr. Basketball the opportunity that Wilson never had.\nOnce McCracken nodded, DeFrantz jumped out of his seat and exclaimed, “God bless you, Branch McCracken! They’re going to remember you for this, Coach!”\nMcCracken responded, “That’s what I’m afraid of.” \nFive months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Garrett broke it in Big Ten basketball. He arrived in Bloomington as a black boy trapped in a whirlwind of white.\nThroughout his collegiate career, Garrett kept his composure despite being blasted daily by hate. He never lost his temper on the court, and he never let the racial tension turn him to tears when he was off the court. From his sophomore to his senior season the 6-foot-2-inch center was the Hoosiers’ leading scorer and rebounder, despite battling opposing white players nearly a foot taller. In his last season Garrett was a consensus second team All-American, recognized among the country’s three best college centers. His teammates voted him IU’s most valuable player, and Big Ten coaches and sportswriters voted him onto the All-Big Ten first team. It appeared that Garrett had soared above expectations and risen over the tide of segregation. \nOr had he? \nIn the final game of Garrett’s career with the “Hurryin’ Hoosiers,” a crowd of 10,000 stood in the IU Fieldhouse (now the Ora Wildemuth Intramural Center) to say goodbye to their seniors. As the clock counted down, reserve center Don Luft tore off his warm-ups and hopped onto the hardwood to replace Garrett. The stadium shook in support for Garrett, a man who had silenced segregationists with his jump shot. \nGarrett never lost his composure. \nTwo days later, Garrett was in the backseat of Phil Buck’s 1939 Chevy. The two teammates, along with friend Gene Ring, were heading back to Bloomington from Indianapolis. They pulled into a diner off of State Road 37. The diner’s marquee read “Hurryin’ Hoosiers’ Fans Welcome.” As they settled into a corner booth, the lone waiter working came towards the men. Before they could say the word “burger,” the waiter bellowed, “I can feed the two of you,” pointing to Buck and Ring, “but not him.” Buck and Ring went pale, as Garrett slid out of his seat and slowly walked back to the car. \nAs they continued down 37, Garrett apologized to his friends. He was sitting in the backseat of the ’39 Chevy when Garrett finally lost his composure. \nHe cried uncontrollably, tears streaming from his eyes.
For Shelbyville High School basketball coach Frank Barnes it was about class not color. He needed veterans who work well in the system – players with quick feet and precise jump shots. But he never expected this. \nNeither did the town of Shelbyville, Ind. In the 1946-47 season, Barnes had added Bill Garrett, Emerson Johnson and Marshall Murray to his all-senior starting lineup. He was doing something no other basketball coach at any level nationwide had done before him: He assigned three black players regular starters on a basketball team of a predominantly white school. That season the Shelbyville Golden Bears earned a new nickname that seethed through the breath of their opponents at every away game. “Shelbyville’s colored team” was quickly branded as “the Black Bears.” But Barnes motivated his team through one motto: “I hatecha till I beatcha.” \nThough Garrett and his teammates had a home in Shelbyville, they were shut out all over the state – literally. The team had to find hotels that would let its black players stay there and restaurants that would let them eat, all while trying to fit in. “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t take Negroes” was a familiar phrase that Barnes contested without success. Garrett, Johnson and Murray took the hate in stride, like a loss in basketball, silently accepting their cruel world. \nThings only turned worse for the Golden Bears when they hosted Terra Haute High School on Jan. 3, 1947. With five minutes left in the game, Garrett – Shelbyville’s “silent assassin” – was called for his fifth and final foul. It led the white Shelbyville crowd to conclude that referee Earl Townsend was making calls against their black players for the benefit of the Terre Haute Purple Eagles, whose players were all white. When the whistle blew to signal the game’s end, the Shelbyville faithful, packed like cattle at Paul Cross Gym, allowed their emotions to burst at the seems. They charged the court for no other reason than revenge, as Townsend and the Terre Haute team fled. It made the “Malice at the Palace” look like Fan Appreciation Day. \nBut the fans’ judgment further justified the rest of the state’s prejudices. Shelbyville became known as a rowdy, unruly bunch with black players, while the rest of the regular season pinned the team and their town against the rest of Indiana. \nYet, the high school state tournament was the thing, and if Barnes’ bunch wanted a rematch with Terre Haute it had to be in the Indiana state championship. Shelbyville’s 15-5 regular season record put them outside of the state’s top 20 teams with Terre Haute holding the undeniable No. 1 spot due to the team’s perfect record. \nThe Golden Bears won nine consecutive tournament games and miraculously found themselves again pitted against the Purple Eagles. Behind Murray’s brilliant drives to the basket, Johnson’s sharp shooting range and Garrett’s notorious presence in the paint, the bedlam in January became the rematch in March. This time fortunes flipped. This time the Golden Bears would triumph, victorious 68-58. The small boys from Shelbyville highlighted by three skinny black kids had taken down the towering talent of Terre Haute.\nThat night in the basement of the Butler Fieldhouse (now Hinkle Fieldhouse), Purdue’s head basketball coach, Mel Taube, came down to congratulate the coach. He asked Barnes to talk Garrett into going to Purdue.\nBarnes turned to Taube, and according to “Getting Open” by Tom Graham and Rachel Graham Cody, asked, “Would you play him if I did?”\nTaube replied, “No, but at least I’d know he wouldn’t be playing against me.” \nAmid his teammates’ celebration, Bill Garrett sat down and slumped his head toward the floor as he thought about his coach’s motto: “Hatecha till I beatcha”. Garrett would soon be voted Indiana’s Mr. Basketball that year, having beaten every team in the state. Still, he was black, and he was hated. Nothing had changed. \nFive months later, Garrett would enroll at IU. He would change the face of college basketball – literally.
What would it be like to play God? The NFL might know. \nIf I were God, I would do three things: end world hunger, cure all forms of cancer and give Brent Boyd $960,000 dollars. \nBoyd is a former offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings. He only played seven seasons, but he should have played more. \nTo say Boyd was smart is to say that Helen of Troy was average-looking. A football standout, Boyd graduated with honors from UCLA in 1980. He was selected by Minnesota in the third round of the NFL draft. In his first summer camp, Boyd even impressed coach Bud Grant by mastering every offensive line position. But, in a preseason game, Boyd took a hit that left him unconscious for minutes. After taking a few plays off, he was told to get back into the game. Boyd did like he was told. \nSoon after that hit, he experienced several spells of dizziness and headaches. Memory loss became part of his daily life. By his second year, the well-read rookie barely remembered how to play. \n"You want this job?" A teammate told Boyd that year, as quoted by ESPN, "They better carry you off in a coffin." \nEventually the effects of the hit took their toll on Boyd. In October 1986, he was released from the Vikings. Never again would the honors graduate hold another job, in the NFL or otherwise. \nBoyd's story resurfaces through former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, who recently acknowledged that his concussions have left him depressed and addicted to amphetamines. He didn't say anything until he heard the story of Andre Waters.\nWaters played defensive back for twelve seasons in the NFL. He led a top-notch Philadelphia Eagles defense in tackles for five seasons in the late 1980s and early 90s. Shortly before his career ended in 1995, The Philadelphia Inquirer asked Waters to count his career concussions. \nHe replied, "I think I lost count at 15." Later in the interview, he admitted he would keep quiet for fear of getting fired. Waters told the reporter, "I'd sniff some smelling salts, then go back in there." \nLike Boyd, Waters had done as he was told.\nAfter his playing career, Waters enjoyed early success as a college coach but failed at obtaining an NFL coaching gig. On Nov. 20, 2006, Waters shot himself in the head at his home in Tampa, Fla. On Jan. 4, test results from neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu of the University of Pittsburgh revealed the 44-year-old -- once a tall-glass of talent for ten years in the NFL -- had brain tissue similar to that of an 85-year-old man in the early stages of Alzheimer's. \nBut the NFL still won't recognize that concussions sustained during football games have broken down these players into puzzles. What's worse, the NFL won't pay disabilities beyond $1,550 -- a monthly stipend allotted to all disabled retirees. \nAnd while the health of its former players have declined, the NFL has skyrocketed in dollars and demand. It has the highest revenues of the four major sports, earning nearly $6 billion a year. The NFL's latest contract, which will run until the end of 2011, will bring in $3.7 billion a year for television rights alone. \nBut they won't pay Boyd a dime more than $1,550 per month. He deserves the minimum $4,000 that retired players receive if they can prove that their disabilities stem from football-related injuries. If I were God, Boyd would receive $960,000 -- for the 20 years the NFL has ignored his paralyzed pleas. \nThe NFL turned its back on Waters, too. The repercussions of concussions were too much for him. He finally gave in, as Boyd's teammate had once put it, the only way an NFL player can. \nWaters was carried off in a coffin, having done as he was told.
John Elway is clutch. Joe Montana is cool. Troy Aikman is collected. Terry Bradshaw is bald, and Peyton Manning is -- well, what exactly is he? The Colts quarterback has been hailed for years as this generation's greatest quarterback, but he's already 30 years old in his ninth season with the Indianapolis Colts and is just now making his first trip to the Super Bowl.\nThen again, that's more than he can say for the rest of his famous family. His father, Archie, never made it. Through 12 seasons in the NFL, Archie experienced only one season without a losing record as quarterback when his New Orleans Saints went 8-8 in 1978. Peyton's brother, Eli, has completed three seasons with the New York Giants -- who traded for Manning in the 2004 NFL Draft. In exchange, the San Diego Chargers received quarterback Philip Rivers and two draft picks (the latter turned out to be defensive end Shawne Merriman and kicker Nate Kaeding. All three Charger players were selected to the 2007 Pro Bowl). \nSo in the Manning house, Peyton is the rising star. On Sunday, the son and star will have his chance to shine on professional sports' grandest stage. But the impact of this Super Bowl on the rest of Manning's career could be startling. Will the son win and continue to rise from dawn to day? Or will he lose and descend from dusk to the dead of night? \nOK, a bit dramatic? Perhaps. But Peyton was plagued throughout his career for losing when it counted. He was touted as tops in the league, but Manning's critics would point to his predecessors. Elway arrived at his first Super Bowl in his third season with the Denver Broncos. Former San Francisco 49er Montana claimed his first of four Super Bowls in his third season as a starter. Bradshaw, too. It took Aikman three seasons to make his first appearance in Pasadena, Calif., with the Dallas Cowboys. Meanwhile, Manning marks his ninth season with his first appearance, raising the stakes of his legacy and straddling the fine line between great and greatest. \nMake no mistake about it. This isn't the Chicago Bears' Super Bowl to win. This is Peyton Manning's to lose. Now, don't confuse my words for disrespect toward "Da Bears." I'm simply shining the bright light of truth in a dark corner. If Peyton Manning is the best quarterback of this generation -- the blue knight atop the white horse -- he finally has the whole world watching him. \nIf Manning makes history, bringing the Colts their first Vince Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis franchise history, his marketing machine will be unstoppable and his fame undeniable. Cable will devote an entire channel to Manning. Pey-per-view will feature such shows as "Manning Tanning," "Datin' with Peyton" and a half-hour section every weekday where former Colts running back Edgerrin James will sit on a couch, curse the gods and cry at his misfortunes. But before a single salty tear slips from James' eyes, Manning will be well on his way to Disney World. \nThen again, what if the Colts crumble? What if they are led out to pasture by a burly Bears defense? The "greatest" will be demoted to "great," and Manning's "best-ever" legacy might travel down the latrine. Peyton will begin anew and enter his 10th season playing in a league whose popularity is only surpassed by its parity. Manning might never surface at another Super Bowl, despite passing his name into every record the NFL has ever held. Don't believe me? Just ask hall of famer Dan Marino. If Peyton loses, the blue knight atop the white horse will ride off into a sunset until dusk turns to dark, and dark to night.
Anthony was no ordinary teenager.\nAt his California high school, Michael Anthony Castro became a fullback and linebacker for the Banning High Broncos when the team's starting quarterback was ruled academically ineligible. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, Anthony volunteered to play quarterback. That season he was named captain of the team and all-conference player in that position. Throughout high school Anthony was a member of the wrestling squad and captain of the swim team. \nBut Anthony was no ordinary teenager.\nAs a sophomore, he could no longer deny who he was. Anthony was gay. \nOrdinary. At the age of 16 -- when kids conform to cliques and gauge their existence through the day's gossip -- Anthony knew who he was. But more importantly, he didn't care who else did. He risked everything by declaring himself gay, and the kids in his high school, who insulated their insecurities with insults, let Anthony know that the remainder of his high school days would not be easy. His home life was not a refuge, either. When Anthony came out, his mother kicked him out. His father buried himself behind the bars of a five-by-nine-foot cell. But, unfazed and unabashed, Anthony kept smiling, as radiant as the California sun he basked in every day. Anthony shined on. \nOne day shortly thereafter, at wrestling practice, one of his teammates hounded Anthony with homophobic hate. Anthony handled it the only way he knew how. He looked the guy dead in the eye and said "Why don't we take this on the mat?" \nThe problem was the bully was big, and he wrestled in Banning High's heaviest weight division. That problem was no problem for Anthony. In 20 seconds he pinned his oppressor. The next day, his teammate quit wrestling. \nOrdinary. Some kids have beauty on their outsides while others have strength. Anthony had both. Some kids have beauty on their insides while others have strength. Anthony had both. \nOn Jan. 21, 19-year-old Anthony was a passenger in a pickup truck when the driver lost control of the vehicle and it fell more than 120 feet into a ravine. Anthony and another passenger were killed. The driver survived with several broken bones. \nBilly Joel was right. Only the good die young, and Anthony was pure good. Good, not because he came out of the closet -- that is a brave step many kids continue to take. Good, not because he excelled at three sports -- high schools across America and across time recycle those athletes. Good, not because he completed high school without his parents, without even a quiet complaint -- these homeless heroes see rock bottom and climb right back up. \nAnthony was pure good because he looked fear in the eye, as he did the bully, and pinned it on its ass. At age 16, Anthony could have cruised through high school crippled by the fear of being openly accepted, but closed in the closet. Instead, at 16, when the great masses follow the stupid few, Anthony stood out, came out and walked in the opposite direction. \nOrdinary. His days are done, but Anthony's spirit lives on as a testament against the intolerant. Meanwhile, death remains a vast unknown that raises more questions than answers. Why would God take such a beautiful human being so early in his life? How could such a bright light fade in its infancy? No one knows, but not even a boy with an autonomous presence and an athletic prowess could slip through death's grip. \nAs a result, an angel named Michael Anthony Castro rests in heaven, and the world is an uglier place without him. \nYou see, Anthony was no ordinary teenager.\nNo, he was extraordinary.
A ninth Cincinnati Bengals player was arrested within nine months, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was caught carrying a suspicious water bottle and legendary head coach Bill Parcells announced that he's retiring from coaching. \nBut, who the hell cares? \nThe Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears will face off in Super Bowl XLI, and finally Bloomington is going bowling -- Super Bowling, that is. \nOf course, there is only one town on Earth that will serve the front lines for this February feud. If Chicago and Indianapolis were the respective capitals of this gridiron clash, only one region will be the bedrock of bedlam. "What town?" you ask. \nNaperville? Noperville. Lafayette? Not yet. Kokomo? Koko No. South Bend? Get bent -- Fighting Irish fans don't even know the NFL exists. So, then where? \nWelcome to Bloomington, Ind., a Midwest melting pot that blurs the lines of professional football allegiance. Welcome to the jungle that inhabits primarily two kinds of football fan: DaBearus butkus and Coltus domis. For the next two weeks, Bloomington will serve as No Man's Land to Every Man's fantasy. Where there was once "bleeding Kansas" in middle America, soon we will come to terms with "bleeding Bloomington." \nIn 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act introduced "popular sovereignty," the idea that any state established in America can allow its citizens to democratically decide whether they would be pro- or anti-slavery. Now, in 2007, popular sovereignty has forsaken fans on either side of the Indiana-Illinois border, with Bloomington established as the new Mason-Dixon Line. \nMake no mistake about it, my fellow Hoosiers -- for the next two weeks we will be a segregated city. And mark my words: A house divided half-Bear and half-Colt fan cannot stand. OK, that might have been Lincoln's language, but, before you makeshift a musket and ring out a rally cry, you should get to know both species that stand in arms against each other. \nDaBearus butkus: The Chicago Bears' fans comprise a remarkable genus. Their native tongues are straightforward, as nearly every sentence begins and ends in two words: "Da Bears." While strong in their convictions, DaBearus butkus are weak in its geography. It famously holds the belief that the city of Chicago is nearly 200 miles around in diameter, just so long as its hometown is considered "Chicago" to anyone who asks. DaBearus butkuses are polytheistic people who believe in two gods: Mike Ditka and Dick Butkus. Though they beam with pride in their newest leader, Rex "Sexy Rexy" Grossman, DaBearus butkus is a brutal, bandwagon bunch that is ready to jump at Rexy's jugular if need be. \nColtus domis: The Indianapolis Colts' fans are the dominant beasts in Bloomington. These normally docile diehards have turned diabolical since tasting the Boston blood of quarterback Tom Brady. As monotheists, the Coltus domis wakes up every morning with a prayer to its savior, Peyton Manning, and also perform a small sacrifice to Robert Irsay,the man who brought professional football to Indiana. No defense? "No problem," says the Coltus domis, who naively relies on dome turf and a diluted defense to defeat its enemies. The Coltus domis has a rare offspring of students who reside in Indianapolis, but preach Butkus. These "bi-fanuals" have never been fully embraced by either species in either state. \nFellow readers, this is a historic time that we are living in. Two weeks from now, the Super Bowl will create mayhem in the Midwest as both species are already starting to sharpen their claws. This game will decide bragging rights for decades to come, and if it all concludes in one controversial call, then may Butkus, Ditka and Manning have mercy on us all. \nSo, praise football and pass the ammunition, because come Super Bowl Sunday, there will be bedlam in Bloomington.
Major League Soccer has a problem. \nIt has enjoyed steady success since its 1996 inaugural season. It has expanded to 13 teams, and its newest -- the Houston Dynamo -- recently won the league's championship in its second year of existence. The MLS is heading north in 2007 by establishing a new franchise in Toronto, the league's first claim in Canada.\nBut that's not the league's problem. \nRecently, Freddy Adu -- the poster boy of Major League Soccer -- was reunited with his former coach on the U-17 U.S. National Team. Real Salt Lake coach John Ellinger is ecstatic to receive Adu via trade with D.C. United and he is confident Adu will flourish in football under his regime.\nBut that's not the MLS's problem, either. \nA week ago, David Beckham agreed to a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The soccer Caesar from England lands on the sunny shores of L.A. in August. He has conquered Europe and marches into Major League Soccer as a media and marketing wet dream. He's got game, good looks and a celebrity wife to boot. \nThen again, that's not the MLS's problem. The American people are. \nThe American people don't like soccer, no matter how sexy you sell it. They have their own sports traditions. Those consist of football, baseball, basketball and a hint of hockey. It does not include David Beckham and soccer. This is a public who thinks that a "free kick" is the extra snap a placekicker takes during warm-ups and that a "penalty shot" is a hastily thrown haymaker that results in a yellow flag. So will this British Invasion give heed to a revolution, and for how long?\nHow long? Not long. As the MLS prepares to be center stage in the sporting world, it is clear this league needs Beckham more than Beckham needs the league Beckham will enter an unfamiliar world -- the black abyss of America, where soccer is a subculture. As he fades from the national spotlight, so will our interest. \nThis has happened before in America. In 1967, the New York Cosmos signed the greatest soccer star in history. His name was Pele, and even the Brazilian could not save the North American Soccer League. As such, Beckham's MLS mortality will be like the ocean wave he rides on atop those sunny shores in L.A. His hype will be fierce at first only to crash and simmer on the sand. \nMajor League Soccer has a problem.\nBut, the Briton is coming.