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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

No One Should Ever Refer to Him as a Dancing Fool

November 21, 2000|MAL FLORENCE

Merlin Olsen, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle of the L.A. Rams in the 1960s and '70s, was asked by Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times to comment on Warren Sapp, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' dominating defensive lineman:

"The game was so different when I played. One thing that's hard to adjust to is all the posturing and the sack dances. In my day, when you made a good play you got rewarded from the crowd.

"You didn't have to become a cheerleader. But I accept the fact that Sapp wants to play the game."

More Olsen: Commenting on the rigors of trench warfare, he said, "My kids used to have a game. They would bring their friends over on Monday morning to watch their dad try to get out of bed."

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Trivia time: What is the largest crowd ever to see a football game at the Coliseum?

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Panicky: Ed Graney in the San Diego Union-Tribune: "It's like standing in front of your car, hands on the hood, trying to stop it from rolling as your friend gently taps the gas.

"You're helpless. You have no chance. You're going to get run over."

Pretty serious stuff, but Graney was merely trying to describe how difficult it is to stop Air Force's triple-option offense. San Diego State couldn't, losing Saturday, 45-24.

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Refreshing: In an interview with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Steeler running back Jerome Bettis said:

"I've always taken a lot of pride in being reliable. They pay me to play every week and produce yards. I know some guys think they get paid big money based on what they've done for a team in the past.

"I've always believed a team pays you big money because of what it expects you to do in the future. I've never been a guy to take something for nothing."

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Knick knocker: Peter Vecsey in the New York Post:

"Subject: Your New York Bickerbockers. I see where Cablevision is grumbling because Messrs. Sprewell and Houston, along with Mr. and Mrs. Rice, are complaining about lack of minutes and rhythm because they all play the same position: Poor Shooter."

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Flaky factor: Don Pierson in the Chicago Tribune: "Kickers sometimes earn their reputations for peculiarity. San Francisco's Wade Richey started out five for five on field goals and has gone two for seven [before Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons].

" 'It's just me--I'm sick and tired of the shanks,' Richey said. 'This team is going to need a field goal kicker. There's probably something going on, crazy stuff, in my head.' "

Something cleared up Sunday. He went three for three, kicking the longest from 32 yards.

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Appropriate: Sign at the Delta Center after the Utah Jazz's Olden Polynice was charged with impersonating a police officer: "Polynice for Sheriff."

Happy birthday: Stan "the Man" Musial, the famed St. Louis Cardinal hitter, turns 80 today.

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FYI: In 1950, USC defeated Notre Dame, 9-7, in a season-ending game. However, Coach Jeff Cravath was fired shortly thereafter. Cravath had a 2-5-2 record that season, including a 39-0 loss to UCLA.

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Looking back: On this day in 1931, Johnny Baker's 23-yard field goal with one minute remaining gave USC a 16-14 victory over Notre Dame at South Bend, Ind., ending an Irish 26-game unbeaten streak.

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Trivia answer: 104,953 for the 1947 USC-Notre Dame game. The Irish won, 38-7.

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And finally: CBS' Jim Nantz, commenting on New Orleans Saint running back Chad Morton, the former USC tailback: "He is the most scrutinized Chad this side of Palm Beach County."

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