Nov 19, 2004
By: JOHN PIESEN
I've always been proud to call myself a newspaperman. I spent most
of my adult life covering sports for various newspapers, notably the
New York Post, the Newark News, and, yes, I guess you can make
a stretch, and include the Morning Telegraph/Daily Racing Form.
Never once did I regret that I chose to cover sports for a living.
But look at what's going on now in the world of sports.
This week is a perfect example.
Kurt Warner, Colon Powell and Jodi McDonald lost their jobs in the same
news cycle...and, according to Wednesday's editions of the New York
Daily News, the two biggest stories of the day are 1) "Sheffield Sex Tape
Extortion" and 2) "TO and the Desperate Housewife".
I'm not talking sports section here.
I'm talking Page 1 and Page 2!
Hey, I know there's no hockey, but you would think there is more going
on in sports than Jerry Springer.
Actually, there is.
The Oklahoma-Nebraska game for example.
In case you missed it, and since the game did an 0.2, you probably did.
But here's what happened:
Oklahoma, a 31-point favorite, is up, 30-0, takes over on its own 20 with
four minutes to go, and sends in its entire starting offense, including
Cleverly mixing a combination of runs and passes, Oklahoma drives down
inside the 20 with a minute and change remaining. Take a knee? Two knees?
Are you kidding? They are still throwing the ball downfield. Until it comes
to crunch time.
Fourth and 3 on the nine with 30 seconds remaining.
Up until this point, I thought for sure the Oklahoma coach's intent was to
cover the number. But no. Instead of taking the three, he calls for a pass. It's
caught but short of a first down. The Oklahoma coach looks like he just lost
his best friend. He's next to tears.
Now Nebraska takes the ball, and its running back goes 40 yards off-tackle.
Nebraska gets to the 30. AND SPIKES THE BALL WITH ONE SECOND LEFT!
Nebraska rushes in its field goal team, kicks the three, making the final score
30-3. Take that, says the Nebraska coach.
It comes out later in the press that the Oklahoma student body spent the last
quarter throwing oranges on the field (Orange bowl, get it), and lacing the
poor Nebraska players with profanities.
College football. Isn't it wonderful?
And I'll quickly touch on another game...
Little Kansas had big, bad Texas deader than Elvis, but a bogus interference
call kept Texas alive, and Texas scored a winning TD with eight seconds left.
You think maybe the Big 12 wanted Texas to win? After all, a win keeps Texas
in the BCS, which is worth millions to the school and the conference. The Kansas
coach certainly thought so. He expressed that opinion, and natch got fined for it.
And one final football item...
Instead of giving the East Coast the BC-West Virginia game last Saturday -- a
matchup of two Top 25 teams -- ABC gave us Michigan-Northwestern.
Of course this is the same ABC that gave us the Desperate Housewife coming
clean two nights later.
And I love the NFL's take.
I'm sure you've heard those radio promos when they give away a trip to the
Super Bowl. Only they are not allowed to say Super Bowl. They refer to the
event as the "Big Game in Jacksonville." Otherwise, the NFL would sic its
lawyers on them.
But the NFL has no problem showing TO leering at a naked "Housewife" in
front of millions of 12-year-olds.
Yea, I sure miss being a newspaperman.
Changing the subject, during a visit to Monmouth Park the other day, I ran
into a a horseman who handed me a two-page, hand-written memo.
I found it interesting. I think you will too.
"Every year, at the close of the New Jersey meet, Judy Cook, who trained at
Atlantic City and Garden State in the '80s and '90s, travels to Monmouth to
look for a few new prospects. As a former thoroughbred trainer, she knows
there will be a horse or two who needs a new occupation, and she is adept at
making that transformation.
"There are various reasons for racehorses to end their racing careers -- age,
infirmity, and just plain inability to compete. However, most horses are able to
perform in other capacities, and that is where people like Judy come in.
"Two years ago, a horse named Faith Rewarded arrived at Judy's farm in
Port Republic, N.J., and was adopted by Judy's daughter, Debbie Stricker. Within
a year, "Faith" learned to jump willingly, and at the Athens Olympic last
summer, "Faith" carried young children around the ring, and "taught" them to ride.
"The reward for Judy Cook is twofold: 1) the satisfaction of giving these horses
something important to do, and 2) seeing youngsters gain riding and life
experience with these lucky animals.
"All said and done, the horses who compete need the care and attention they
receive after their racing days are over. And they still require the human
attention they get so much of early on.
"It is unfortunate that more people who have horses do not realize what great
treasures the ex-racehorses can be. The connection between these people and
the backside of the racetrack requires the public's attention to encourage this
type of career change."
For more information, you can reach Judy Cook at (609) 965- 6218.
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