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Irritated by Insults, Everett Goes After Cable Talk Show Host : Media: Former Ram quarterback attacks Jim Rome after being called 'Chris Evert' during an ESPN2 interview.

April 07, 1994|MIKE REILLEY and T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Former Ram quarterback Jim Everett, upset by comments made by ESPN2 talk show host Jim Rome during a live interview Wednesday night, attacked Rome in the network's Hollywood studio.

Everett became upset when Rome repeatedly called him "Chris Evert," a reference to the female tennis star and Everett's questionable courage to take a hit, during an interview on "Talk 2." Everett shoved a table between them away and knocked Rome backward off his chair.

Everett then jumped on Rome. No punches appeared to be thrown, and they were separated by studio workers.

Rome said he was not injured in the incident and that Everett did not apologize afterward.

"He didn't directly apologize to me, but he seemed remorseful," Rome said. "He said as he left, 'I've had to put up with this stuff for three years in L.A., and I just snapped.' "

Everett, traded by the Rams to the New Orleans Saints March 18 for a seventh-round draft pick in 1995, was unavailable for comment Wednesday night, but told a Las Vegas television station, "I can't believe ESPN did this and I expect a full apology."

Marvin Demoff, Everett's agent, said he didn't see the incident or speak with Everett about it.

"I don't understand what it accomplishes," Demoff said. "I'm not defending Jim and I don't know the circumstances, but why ask him to come on a show to humiliate him, and expect that as proper?

"I understand it's different if you've been forewarned--I can accept that. But I find it totally offensive of Rome."

Everett's confrontation with Rome was one of a handful of incidents he has had with the media last season.

In September, Everett told a reporter he was " . . . ridiculous" for asking him if he would be the Rams' starting quarterback.

In December, after Everett had been pulled from the starting lineup in favor of backup T.J. Rubley, the quarterback challenged the same reporter to a fight, saying "let's go somewhere and settle this like men."

Reports from New York last fall quoted some of Everett's Ram teammates referring to the quarterback as "Chris Evert," for his lack of courage to take a hit, although no local reporters quoted any players saying that.

Rome, noted for his good-natured jousting with athletes and coaches during his interviews, had repeatedly referred to Everett as "Chris" or "Chrissie" on his XTRA radio show and his ESPN2 talk show. He said an ESPN producer warned Everett twice before the interview that Rome would refer to him as "Chris" at times.

"Overall, we felt very unfortunate (about the incident)," Rome said. "We were looking forward to the interview, talking about his Ram days, his Purdue days and his future in New Orleans.

"Our producer had called Jim in Las Vegas and asked him if he had any problems being called Chris Evert. The producer said we wanted him to be comfortable. If he didn't feel comfortable, then he shouldn't come.

"Everett told him (the producer) 'I got some things I want to say about my Ram days, and this will be a good opportunity.' The producer advised him that I won't pull any punches. He (Everett) knew everything."

But Everett became upset with the reference after Rome questioned him about the quarterback's "Phantom Sack" in the Rams' 31-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990 NFC championship game.

Everett: "You better take a station break. You (Rome) have been talking behind my back."

Rome: "Well, now I'm saying it."

Everett: "I bet you won't say it again."

Rome did.

Everett, 6 feet 5 and 212 pounds, placed his hand on the round table separating them, pushed it away and jumped at Rome. The network then cut away, but returned later to Rome, who said: "Hated for something like that to happen. But that's that."

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