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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ex-Steel Curtain DE Dwight White dead at 58

"Dwight refused to be denied, as was evidenced when he walked out of the hospital with pneumonia to play in Super Bowl IX and had an outstanding game," Steelers owner Dan Rooney said of the passing of Dwight White, right.
AP file photo
"Dwight refused to be denied, as was evidenced when he walked out of the hospital with pneumonia to play in Super Bowl IX and had an outstanding game," Steelers owner Dan Rooney said of the passing of Dwight White, right.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Dwight White, the Steel Curtain defensive end known as "Mad Dog" who helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 58.

The Steelers said White died at a Pittsburgh hospital. The cause was not disclosed. The team said White was released from the hospital after having back surgery, but then was readmitted with complications.

White is the second member of the original four-man Steel Curtain to die this year. Defensive tackle Ernie Holmes died Jan. 17 in a car accident in Texas.

White, a two-time Pro Bowl player, was chosen as one of the 33 members of the Steelers' 75th anniversary all-time team last season.

White was best known for climbing out of a hospital bed to play in the Steelers' first Super Bowl victory, 16-6 over the Minnesota Vikings in 1975. White lost 18 pounds after being diagnosed with pneumonia and a lung infection, yet played nearly the entire game.

White made three tackles for no yards as the Vikings ran seven of their first eight running plays his way and went on to finish with only 17 yards rushing on 21 attempts. White also accounted for the only points of the first half when he sacked Fran Tarkenton in the end zone for a safety.

White, a former player at East Texas State (now Texas A&M-Commerce), gained his nickname because of his intensity. He often said that playing on the defensive line was like having "a dog's life."

Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said that inner drive was the reason the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder could play so well only hours after being hospitalized.

"He played with a relentlessness that led us to four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s," Rooney said in a statement. "Dwight refused to be denied, as was evidenced when he walked out of the hospital with pneumonia to play in Super Bowl IX and had an outstanding game. Dwight will be remembered by those who knew him even more for being a wonderful and caring person."

Rooney's son, Steelers president Art Rooney II, said the organization "lost an important member."

"He always seemed to rise to the occasion when it counted most and added an element of toughness that was synonymous with our teams of the 1970s," Rooney II said.

White's death follows a trend in which former Steelers players have died at an uncommon rate. At least 38 former Steelers players have died since 2000, with 17 of them 59 or younger, as was White.

According to a Los Angeles Times survey in 2006, one-fifth of the former NFL players from the 1970s and 1980s who died through that year were former Steelers.

White was a fourth-round draft pick in 1971 after being a first-team All-Lone Star Conference player and team captain at East Texas State as a senior.

White made his first Pro Bowl in 1972, playing on a Steelers defensive line that also featured Hall of Famer Mean Joe Greene and defensive end L.C. Greenwood.

White repeated as a Pro Bowl selection in 1973 and his 46 sacks from 1971-80 are the seventh most in Steelers history. He had 33½ sacks from 1972-75, with three in the Steelers' 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the January 1976 Super Bowl.

White was chosen by The Associated Press as a first team All-AFC player in 1973.

White retired after the 1980 season — one of the first players from the Steelers' Super Bowl teams to do so — and became a prominent stock broker in Pittsburgh and one of the most successful former Steelers in the business world.

Most recently, he was senior managing director of public finance for Mesirow Financial in Pittsburgh. Before that, he was a partner and principal operator of the Pittsburgh office of W.R. Lazard & Co., plus a company board member, and worked for investment firms Balche-Halsey and Daniels & Bell.

"Let's just say, like Yogi Bear used to say, I'm smarter than the average bear," White told Pittsburgh author Jim O'Brien in 1991. In the same interview, he said his one vice was he smoked too much.

White, the oldest of three children who grew up in Hampton, Va., and Dallas, also was involved in numerous community events and charity activities.

"He had a special gift that enabled him to liven up any room that he entered," Rooney II said.

White also was chairman of the Pennsylvania Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

"His NFL nickname, Mad Dog, belied the fact that he was a true gentleman and an accomplished business leader," Gov. Ed Rendell said in a statement. "After retiring from football, he entered the financial services industry with the same tenacity and determination he showed on the football field."

Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Which team has the hotter fans: Cubs or Sox?

Forget about who has the better team, that will be settled on the field — hopefully in late October. We want to know who has the hotter fans — Cubs or Sox.

Send your nominations — male and female — to webphotos@suntimes.com, and we'll use a selected sample. All we ask is you keep them clean. We've already started the galleries.

Keep checking at various times every day to see updates.

There is a poll for you to vote on which team has the hotter fans. We'll make our decision when the Cubs-Sox series starts on Friday, June 20.

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Last play for Hockey Night in Canada theme song?

One of this country's most familiar tunes may have been heard on CBC-TV for the last time Wednesday night when the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins and won the 2008 Stanley Cup.

The Toronto agency representing the composer of the theme tune for Hockey Night in Canada says the CBC has declined to enter into a new licensing agreement for the song for next NHL season.

A news release posted on the website of Copyright Music & Visuals quotes company president John Ciccone as saying the CBC's licence agreement for the hockey theme song ended with the Stanley Cup final.

The CBC "has advised the composer, owner and administrator of the musical composition that it is not prepared to enter into a new licence agreement with respect to the use of the theme," the release says.

The CBC had no immediate comment Thursday.

The familiar theme music for Hockey Night in Canada was written in 1968 by Dolores Claman, who was raised in Vancouver.

In the news release, Claman expresses her disappointment that her song will no longer be heard in homes across Canada during hockey season.

"I am saddened by the decision of the CBC to drop the Hockey Night in Canada theme after our lengthy history together. I nevertheless respect its right to move in a new direction," she says.

Copyright Music & Visuals says it had offered the CBC a chance to renew its licence to use her song on terms that were "virtually identical to those that have existed for the past decade." Each use of the song in the past has cost the broadcaster about $500, the company says.

A lawsuit filed against the CBC in late 2004 by Claman alleging that the broadcaster was overusing the Hockey Night in Canada theme has not been settled.

Copyright Music & Visuals says the litigation hasn't interfered with the CBC's use of music, nor was settlement of the suit a condition for the proposed new licensing agreement.

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Sports tech: Algorithm predicts Celtics will beat Lakers in NBA Finals

Point-calculation engine says Boston's starters have series edge

A point-analysis metric developed by NBA statisticians and Lenovo Group Ltd. engineers predicts that the Boston Celtics will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals based on the statistically superior play of Boston's five top players when they have shared the court in the playoffs. The Finals started Thursday night with Boston winning the first game in the best-of-seven series.

Lenovo Stat, a plus/minus algorithm featured on NBA.com, shows that Boston should win the series because the Celtics' top players have had a bigger effect on the outcome of their games compared with the Lakers' highest five scorers. The stats tool calculates the point differential of how a player or combination of players performs when its on the court, said Michael Gliedman, senior vice president and CIO of National Basketball Association Inc.

This is the second season in which the NBA used Lenovo Stat to measure "teamwork" and in-game player effectiveness, he said. The statistical analysis tool works by giving a combination of players a plus when they score and a minus when they're scored upon by opponents. Those results are added in real time to box scores on NBA.com during games.

The algorithm analyzes each scoring event during a game to assess the productivity of each player combo against a given point in time. The analysis can be applied to a single player, five players or any number in between, said Gliedman.

According to current Lenovo Stat rankings, Boston's top five-player combination -- Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo -- scored a +79 rating. By comparison, the Lakers' top-five unit -- Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Vladimir Radmanovic -- notched a +66 postseason rating.

The +13 point differential could prove to be a sizable advantage for Boston over Los Angeles because a team's top players traditionally spend the bulk of the game on the floor and have the greatest impact on the outcome.

Boston's top five have never played in an NBA Finals game. By contrast, Laker forwards Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were part of three NBA championship teams from Los Angeles between 2000 and 2002.

This year's championship marks the 11th time the Celtics and Lakers have faced off in the NBA Finals. Although the Celtics won eight of the previous 10 matchups, the Lakers won the most recent series against Boston in 1985 and 1987.

"It's a classic combo of teams, and you're going to add this enhancement of technology to go against it, which is something we didn't have before in previous [NBA Finals] matchups," Gliedman said.

Lenovo Stat information is collected courtside at 29 NBA arenas on Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablets by statisticians who log approximately 500 pieces of data in during each game. The data is delivered to a Sybase database at the NBA's data center in New York for analysis before being quickly pushed out to the NBA.com site, as well as televisions, mobile phones and other distribution points, Gliedman noted.

Gliedman said that the NBA plans to enhance Lenovo Stat in the future so fans can see player and team stats in dream matchups. For example, the tool could square off the 2007-2008 Celtics against the 1985-1986 NBA Champion Celtics squad, which featured NBA legends Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

"We're taking all of [NBA] history and applying those algorithms against it. It's on the road map and definitely something we plan on doing with it," he added.

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Why Athletes Go Broke

The “Real Deal” is broke.

Former Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is playing the real life game of Deal Or No Deal. It has been reported that his $10 million estate in suburban Atlanta is under foreclosure, the mother of one of his children is suing for unpaid child support, and a Utah consulting company has gone to court claiming the boxer failed to pay back more than a half million dollars for landscaping. Just one more high profile athlete having to scale back his lifestyle to the level to which you have I have been accustomed. Why is it that athletes who seem to have everything are often completely unable to control anything related to finances?

We all played our violins to death when we heard of Latrell Sprewell’s financial troubles. On Halloween 2004, Sprewell, who was in the final season of a $62-million five-year contract with the New York Knicks, said he was insulted by the Minnesota Timberwolve’s offer of a contract extension that was reportedly worth between $27 million and $30 million for three seasons. Sprewell stated, “I’ve got my family to feed.” That quote become a national moniker for the public perception of athletes as greedy, out of touch individuals. Apparently, Sprewell still can’t feed his family. His yacht was recently repossessed and his multi-million dollar mansion is about to be foreclosed on.

While there is certainly the stereotype of the financially irresponsible NBA athlete, no professional sport is immune.

Let’s take a look at some high profile athlete financial sob stories over the years:

1. No one my age can forget Jack”The Ripper” Clark , star player for the Boston Red Sox who filed for bankruptcy in 1992 in the middle of his second year of a three-year, $8.7 million contract with Boston; he listed $6.7 million in debts. Jack was a master of financial planning and prudent asset acquisition. His bankruptcy petition listed assets such as 18 automobiles, including a 1990 Ferrari that cost $717,000 and three 1992 Mercedes Benz cars costing between $103,000 and $143,000. He owed money on 17 of the automobiles and was liable for about $400,000 in Federal and state taxes. He had also lost about $1 million in a drag-racing venture. Sounds like Jack would have been more at home in the NBA. You can read about it hereMike Tyson\'s Bentley

2. Johnny Unitas, Hall of Fame quarterback for the Baltimore Colts, filed for bankruptcy in 1991 citing numerous failed business ventures in his petition These failed bits included bowling alleys, land deals and restaurants. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991.

3. Mike Tyson The name speaks for itself. Mike’s bankruptcy was highly publicized. Despite earning hundreds of millions during his boxing career, Mike kept it simple. His bankruptcy petition simply stated: ” I am unable to pay my bills”. According to federal court records, his liabilities totaled about $27 million. You can read that story here.

4. Dorothy Hamill, the women’s figure-skating gold medalist in the 1976 Winter Games, filed for bankruptcy after a series of financial setbacks. Hamill said she has experienced financial setbacks as a result of poor financial investment advice and management.

These are just a few of many athletes’ tales of woe. It is not a phenomenon limited to professional sports — just ask M.C Hammer. Prior to his declaring bankruptcy, it was made public that his day to day living expenses far exceeded his income of $33 million. If I am going to veer off to celebrities, I certainly have to mention Kim Basinger and Michael Jackson.

When the Toronto Star ran an article alleging that a shocking 60 percent of NBA athletes “go broke” five years after retiring, did we not all pull out that very tiny violin we have reserved for such occasions? The NBA players union and the NBA have both disputed that assertion. The article goes on to talk about all the people taking advantage of and “scamming” these athletes. While I have no doubt there is truth to this, I can also understand how such a generalization would make the NBA uncomfortable. It leaves you with the impression that 60 percent of NBA players are not only financially inept but also idiots in general. This is simply not true. While good business sense is often lacking, I view many of their mistakes as being more mistakes of trust, credibility and lack of life experience than anything else. Smart, busy people who can afford it, hire people with targeted expertise to help them. This allows them to focus on their expertise. Sometime mistakes are made and bad judgment is used in who we hire and hang out with. That is not unique to the NBA or professional sports. This happens to everyone. That is life. It happens all the time. It just does not make front page when we screw up. If there is any question at all as to how badly we as the general public screw up, just look at the personal bankruptcy filing statistics.

In order to get a perspective from the inside, I contacted Jordan Woy, a highly respected sports agent and a principal in the sports marketing/management firm of Schlegel Sports. Jordan has represented numerous high profile athletes

Here is what Jordon had to say:

I think there are several reasons why so many athletes “go broke”. First, whether it is a lottery winner, an athlete or a star entertainer, if they are not equipped with the knowledge on how to make and save money they are in trouble. When they didn’t earn it through disciplined business practices and they don’t have those skills they usually go through it quickly. Most lottery winners or athletes make a great deal of money in a short period of time. They start spending it on things that only go down in value (cars, jewelry, partying, entourage, etc) and start to evaporate the money they do have. They can carry this off until they stop earning big money. This is when the trouble starts. It is hard to believe that MC Hammer, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and now Ed McMahon are broke. These are people who earned hundreds of millions over time and it disappeared. Lavish spending and entourages were probably the downfall for the first three for sure.

Most athletes play for four to ten years if they are lucky. After they pay taxes (can be 40 to 50%) and agent fees and buy their first homes, cars, outfits, jewelry (plus, cars, clothes and jewelry for friends and family), they are left with very little. When they first “strike it rich” all of their longtime friends and family expect help. Most athletes feel obligated to help everyone out at first then they wise up. They also want to keep up with their teammates. If someone buys a Bentley, they have to buy one; if someone buys a $75,000 watch, they have to buy one to keep up the appearance. Then, of course, when the career ends and they are still living in a multi million dollar house, driving 3 expensive cars (and insurance), traveling in private planes and taking Limo’s when they go out on the town, reality sets in. The money dries up very quickly.

However, if athletes educate themselves, learn money management skills and make smart, safe investments along the way, they are usually in very good shape. After representing athletes for over 20 years, we call this our “life plan”. We take out clients on working vacations in the off season to places like Las Vegas, Cancun and on a cruise to the Bahamas to learn business networking. We have people from industries such as real estate, oil and gas, financial planning, credit repair, asset protection/estate planning, etc come to educate the players and their wives so they can learn about these business and also determine if they are interested in any of these industries for life after sports. One of the financial planners who comes always says most people die coming down from Mt. Everest not going up. The goal is for these athletes to get to their Mt. Everest AND to get down safely.

So, what do you think? Are the financial mistakes that athletes make any different than your mistakes or mine? They are certainly mistakes made with a higher downside. When we hear these stories are we just unable to comprehend that someone could have that much money and spend it all? Can we learn lessons on how to live our lives from their highly publicized financial gaffes? Do we even care at all?

With all due respect to Latrell Sprewell, we have our own families to feed….

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