Nearly 20 years after Howard Cosell infamously referred to Redskins kick returner Alvin Garrett as "that little monkey," Monday Night Football is still the place to go for racist sports commentary. Only now it comes courtesy of Boomer Esiason, who covers the Monday-night games for the CBS Radio Network. Esiason, a self-righteous blowhard whose bottomless amateurism makes him almost as insufferable as Dennis Miller, was in rare form during the Rams-Saints game on December 17. When the Rams ran a screen to tight end Ernie Conwell, who's white, Esiason gushed, "What a great play! They've got all this speed on the outside, so they say, 'Let's give it to the slow white guy, because nobody thinks he's going to get the ball.' " Late in the game, when the Saints were forced to go with a hurry-up offense, Esiason opined that the no-huddle format suited QB Aaron Brooks, who's black, "because this way he doesn't have time to think and can just use his natural athleticism." Of course, the notion that black athletes are pure physical specimens and weak on intellect is precisely the sort of prejudice that kept black QBs out of the NFL for decades.
As if this weren't enough, Esiason made a fool of himself when Deion Sanders stopped by the booth to chat during the broadcast. Esiason, sounding for all the world as if he'd never seen or spoken with a black man before, made fun of Sanders's clothing and at one point literally couldn't understand what Sanders was saying. Still not content, Esiason noted that former NFL wideout Michael Irvin was attending the game and took the opportunity to make fun of his clothing as well. After being informed that Irvin's outfit was gold lamé, Esiason repeatedly asked, "Lamé? What is lamé? What do they make lamé out of?" Lucky for Esiason that nobody actually listens to Monday Night Football on the radio.
GOOD OL' BOYS WILL BE GOOD OL' BOYS
Seems only fitting that it was an ol' Kentucky Wildcat, Dan Issel (Class of '70), now the coach of the Denver Nuggets, who was caught on videotape yelling to a heckler, "Go drink another beer, you Mexican piece of shit," after a December 11 game. After all, Issel's college coach was the legendarily racist Adolph Rupp, who was heard to scold his all-white team at halftime of the 1966 NCAA championship game against Texas Western, which started five black players, "Are you boys going to lose to a bunch of coons?" But it's hard to blame Rupp entirely for the behavior of Issel (who arrived on the Lexington campus the year after that historic game), because some of Rupp's players openly rejected their coach's troglodytic views: After the 'Cats lost that '66 game, the squad's star, Pat Riley, made a point of going to the Texas Western locker room to offer his congratulations.
GET A GRIP, VINCE
We've upgraded the World Wrestling Federation from homophobic to investors-jump-off-garages-because-of-you after the company's latest quarterly financial report, which says WWF profits were body-slammed by a satellite deal that dropped profits and viewers this year. The "federation" also blamed September 11 for layoffs at its Times Square eatery and a London judge for keeping the initials WWF off its European wrestling tights. Owner Vince McMahon's lawyers have a hearing set for February to appeal the ruling, which said the WWF caused an organization called the World Wide Fund for Nature to take a hit at the box office.
The company is also facing a class-action lawsuit filed by investors who got creamed the day WWF went public. The suit claims that McMahon and his cronies made millions by inflating the stock price. During the IPO craze, WWF's stock opened at $17 and closed at $34, letting insiders buy low and sell high. The company denies the accusation. Vince, meanwhile, was recently awarded a seven-year, $52.8 million contract. His wife, Linda, signed a four-year, $36.8 million deal. And that's while WWF stock was sputtering at just below $13 per share last week, above its August bottoming-out of $10.30 but nowhere near its one-year high of $22.
Overrated cornerback Jason Sehorn must not have read the message "Put the future in good hands . . . your own" that was posted on the board in the Giants' locker room before their December 15 game against the Cardinals. Only a short time later, Sehorn let a Cardinal TD pass zip through his hands in the back of the end zone. Knock it down, dude! And either move to safety or get out of here. . . .
A tip of the cap to reader R.S., who noted that we recently counted reliever Ugueth Urbina as a Montreal Expo when in reality he'd already been traded to the Boston Red Sox. . . .
Was that really the Knicks who gave up 114 points to the Nets? The Knicks? At the Garden? It had been 152 games (173, counting post-season) since they gave up that many pointsagainst the Pistons on January 12, 2000. Just remember that there are reasons why Don "Lame Duck" Chaney has a losing record as a head coachand they don't all have to do with the fact that he used to coach the Clippers.
Contributors: Paul Lukas, Howard Z. Unger, Brian P. Dunleavy, Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz Sports Editor: Ward Harkavy
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