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Morning Briefing

As Oilers Will Admit, Once the Ball Drops, It Is Tough to Handle

January 12, 1988

President Reagan visited Cleveland Monday and was presented with a football used Saturday in the Browns' playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

It turned out that the ball, signed by Brown quarterback Bernie Kosar, was too hot to handle.

While boarding Air Force One for the flight back to Washington, Reagan tossed the ball to CBS reporter Bill Plante, who dropped it. Plante picked up the ball and tried to throw it back toward Reagan, but it hit the side of the steps leading to the plane.

Presidential aide Jim Kuhn scooped up the bouncing ball and tossed it to Reagan, who bobbled it, dropped it and retrieved it before boarding the plane.

Upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Reagan again cradled the football in his arm as he left the aircraft and tossed the ball to assistant chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein, who dropped it. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater picked up the ball and threw it back to Reagan, who dropped it.

Perhaps it actually was the ball Mike Rozier of the Houston Oilers dropped in Sunday's playoff loss to the Denver Broncos.

Oil magnate Nelson Bunker Hunt, auctioned off 596 thoroughbreds last weekend as he and his brothers continue to battle bankruptcy and $1.5 billion in debts.

"I've always enjoyed horse sales," said Hunt, who remained at home in Dallas, "but I wouldn't have enjoyed this one. I didn't think I'd ever have to do this, but it's something I have to do, and there's nothing I can do about it.

"It's like selling your children."

Add Hunt: Despite business problems, he has been near the top of the racing world, with his horses winning 594 races and more than $10 million.

"My horses are doing better than ever," Hunt said, "but I've got to concentrate on the oil business now, and they are a distraction, especially for me because I love racing so much."

The debate rages on over Auburn kicking a field goal to get a 16-16 tie with Syracuse rather than going for the win on the last play of the Sugar Bowl.

"Why would you not go for the tie?" Auburn Coach Pat Dye asked. "Our kids played just as good as their kids. If they wanted to win, they should have blocked the field goal."

Add Sugar Bowl: Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson was so upset he wouldn't shake Dye's hand after the game, but he has cooled off since then.

Still, here's how he feels about it: "I don't like ties. (Pat Dye) has a reason for what he did. After I learn it, I might make a judgment. Right now, I see no reason for what he did.

"I made a jerk of myself by telling our football team that a field goal (to take a 16-13 lead) was as good as a touchdown, because (I thought) he'd have to go for the TD."

Track promoter Al Franken got a phone call from a competitor in the Sunkist Invitational asking for three tickets to the meet Jan. 22 at the Sports Arena.

"I want them as far apart as possible," the athlete said.

Franken asked why and was told, "They are for three girlfriends of mine and none of them know about the others."

Quotebook

Rookie Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers after Chick Hearn noted that Miller finished second behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on UCLA's all-time scoring list: "I'd like to finish behind Kareem in this league, too."

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