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Newz Forum: OTHER: more NCAA, Ben Johnson, Tom Zbikowski, Dhani Jones plus more...

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posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 01:48 PM
Various news outlets say this morning that George Mitchell - former majority leader of the US Senate - will head an independent investigation of steroid use in baseball by Barry Bonds and other players. It is the last three words of that sentence - 'and other players' - that makes this palatable. Even though I am on record as one who believes that Barry Bonds used some kind of chemical enhancement to build his body, he is not the only one to do so and it would be wrong to single him out for the totality of the blame just because he is close to Hank Aaron's all-time home run record. Once again, it may take time for Bud Selig to get around to 'do the fight thing'; but in the end, he's doing the right thing here. Now if Mitchell can manage to assemble a competent - but not a crusading - staff quickly and gather some momentum...

Ben Johnson is the poster child for 'top-shelf athlete caught using steroids to achieve the pinnacle of his sport'. Ben Johnson won the Olympic 100-meter dash in 1988 and had to forfeit his medal and world record because he failed the drug screen. He was suspended for a couple of years and then returned to competition until he got a lifetime ban for a second positive test - I believe the second test was for blood doping but I'm not certain of that. Ben Johnson is now achieving minor-celebrity status on the basis of that 'cheating' because he stars in a commercial for a new sports drink called 'Cheetah Power Surge'. In one ad, Johnson is asked, 'When you run, do you Cheetah?' Johnson responds, 'I Cheetah all the time.' Maybe the baseball steroid crowd can take heart here; there will still be endorsement possibilities for those who want them somewhere down the road.

Clearly, there is no shame in the advertising world; so I'm not even remotely surprised that someone might take the angle that Cheetah Power Surge sports drink seems to be taking with Ben Johnson. However, there ought to be some sense of shame associated with an organization that pretends to be all about education and amateur athletics and fair play. That would be the NCAA; and once again, they demonstrate that shame is not a plentiful commodity in their offices. Recall the case of Jeremy Bloom who was ruled ineligible to play football because he was training with the US Olympic ski team and got endorsements to be a skier. That was ruled - and upheld on appeal - by the NCAA to be out of bounds. Now comes Tom Zbikowski a safety for the Notre Dame football team.

Zbikowski will make his professional boxing debut sometime in May/June this year. He has signed a contract with Bob Arum as his promoter and the NCAA says that his football eligibility remains intact. According to press accounts, Zbikowski would lose his eligibility if he signed an endorsement contract with a boxing glove manufacturer to wear their gloves or if he 'endorsed' a product on his robe. And that is the distinction they have made to justify his eligibility as compared to Jeremy Bloom's ineligibility. At the very best, this is a distinction without a difference.

Here's one for the NCAA to ponder. Suppose - just suppose - Tom Zbikowski already has a tattoo on his back in the form of Harley-Davidson wings because he is an avid biker. (I'm making this up folks; I don't know Tom Zbikowski from Tom Jones.) Now, when he takes his robe off, does that constitute an endorsement of Harley-Davidson? Or is it only a problem if he gets paid by Harley-Davidson? Suppose Harley-Davidson pays Bob Arum who adds that money to Zbikowski's purse? If any of this happens, the NCAA will need an investigation done. Hopefully, George Mitchell will be available at that time...

You've probably heard or read about Eagles' linebacker, Dhani Jones, getting arrested in Miami for failure to obey a lawful command from a police officer. Jones was dancing outside a Miami night club and the officer told him to stop dancing and Jones continued to dance. I'm sure there had to be other things going on in Jones' mind and in the mind of the officer at that moment, but I have a hard time imagining the imminent danger to the safety and well-being of the citizenry of Miami from dancing in the street. Would these folks arrest Martha and the Vandellas on sight? Anyhow, here's Dwight Perry's comment on this weighty matter in the Seattle Times:

'And on top of whatever the legal system metes out, anonymous sources say, the NFL plans to tack on an additional 15 yards for excessive celebration.'

Obviously, one of the things I look for when gathering material for these rants is an athlete/coach who gets arrested for something or other. I saw a report saying that a University of North Alabama basketball player had been arrested on 'drug-related charges'; normally, I'd leave that alone; there's not likely to be anything unusual happening there. Except in this case, the player's name was reported as Reprobatus Bibbs. The name, Reprobatus, doesn't call to mind anything other than the word 'reprobate' and there just isn't any positive spin you might want to put on 'reprobate'. My dictionary defines a reprobate as 'a morally undisciplined person, one who is predestined to damnation.' So, how do you name your kid Reprobatus?

I went to the University of North Alabama website and confirmed that indeed Reprobatus Bibbs was a senior guard on the basketball team. Information on Messr. Bibbs revealed that his parents have a flair for the unusual when naming their children; he has a sister named Veranda.

One of Bibbs' teammates - also a senior guard on the team - is named Lucky Williams. I guess he really is 'Lucky' because his parents named one of his brothers Thankgod Williams. Maybe 'Thankgod' got that name because his mother was in labor for 39 hours to deliver him? Or not.

Finally, a comment from Jim Armstrong in the Denver Post:

'There's holding on every down, the Super Bowl was the worst officiated game of the season, and the referee might as well order popcorn in the replay booth. So what is the NFL most concerned about this offseason? What else? End-zone dances... '

But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...


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