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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

You Don't Need Joe Willie to Guarantee This

May 02, 2000|EARL GUSTKEY

Rich Cimini writes in the Sporting News that the NFL buzz on the New York Jets is: "Look out below!"

"Their ship is sinking," an unidentified AFC executive tells him. "They have enough talent to hold it off for a while, but it's going down."

As for new coach Al Groh, this outlook: "Groh will try to do what no man has done before: prosper as Bill Parcells' successor. Ray Handley failed with the Giants, Pete Carroll with the Patriots. Perhaps it's no coincidence both men are out of football."

Of the stunning trade that sent Keyshawn Johnson to Tampa Bay, Cimini writes: "The bombastic Johnson wasn't liked universally in the locker room, but he was respected for his work ethic and production."

So why, Cimini wonders, didn't the Jets draft a wide receiver among their first four picks? The Jets' lineup, he writes, "has a hole the size of Johnson's ego."

Then there is this conclusion: "Privately, some players interpret [Johnson's] departure as a message from management that the club is giving up on 2000 and focusing on the future."

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Bite with the bark: Retired NBA star Charles Barkley had this to say about Commissioner David Stern in the Arizona Republic: "He's over-marketed the league. He's got too many young players who aren't ready for prime time. The league has made a star out of every player who thinks he can play. Vince Carter is a nice kid and has talent. But NBC can't make him Michael Jordan."

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Trivia time: What still-standing stadium has been the site of the most NFL games?

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Milestones: Alan Webb, high school runner from Reston, Va., is trying to become the first high school 4-minute miler in 33 years.

At the Penn Relays last week, he ran a 1,600-meter leg on a relay in 3:59.9, which converts to a 4:01.3 mile. It was the fastest 1,600 by a high school athlete since Marty Liquori in 1967. Liquori was also the last high schooler to break four minutes in the mile. And May 6 will be the 46th anniversary of the first 4-minute mile, a 3:59.4 by Roger Bannister in 1954.

Webb has time. He's only a junior.

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Yes, he's serious: British judo athlete Bob Willingham, in Total Sport magazine, says don't knock judo's choke and strangle holds, which can make opponents unconscious.

"As the strangle is applied, pressure is applied to the arteries, restricting blood flow," he explained. "You're fighting like mad, but you feel yourself going, there's a slight dizziness--and before you know it, you're out.

"When you come round, it's a very pleasurable feeling."

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Looking back: Former sprinter Carl Lewis, also in Total Sport, reminisced about his career and talked about winning four gold medals in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984:

"A lot of people misperceived the situation--they thought I won four golds to emulate Jesse Owens. But my relationship with Jesse was not about athletics. Give me a break! I never saw him run. He took the time to speak with me when I was young and make a difference [in] a child's life.

"No athletic achievement could ever come close to that."

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Dining by the numbers: Newest trend in athlete-related restaurants? No, not renegotiating the bill for dinner--it's numbers.

Michael Jordan's restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., is called 23. The new restaurant at the Giants' Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, in front of the Willie Mays statue at Willie Mays Plaza, is 24.

Some obvious additions: Robert Parish's 00 and Wayne Gretzky's 99.

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Trivia answer: Chicago's Wrigley Field, where the Bears played 330 home games before moving to Soldier Field.

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And finally: From the Sporting News' "Caught on the Fly" column, on Boston Celtic Coach Rick Pitino: "Challenge facin' this here franchise: Upgrading judge-o-talent and talent."

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