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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Phoenix Police Officer In Charity Boxing Match Dies of Injuries


By Ray Stern

Phoenix Police Officer Barry Scott, [pictured], who was collapsed after competing in a charity boxing match at the Fort McDowell Casino on Friday, died Tuesday.

Scott had been in critical condition since his amateur fight with a local firefighter. As New Times reported today, one spectator says the fight should have been stopped sooner by the referee.

Sgt. Andy Hill, spokesman for Phoenix police, put out the following press release at 5:30 pm:

Phoenix Police Officer Barry Scott passed away late this afternoon with his family, friends, and fellow officers gathered together at the hospital.

Barry will be greatly missed by all. His family thanks the media and community for your thoughts and prayers.

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Scandal in Sumo Land

By Michiko Toyama

When the Russian-born sumo wrestler Wakanoho Toshinori (real name Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev) dropped his wallet on a street in Tokyo's Sumida Ward on June 24, he might have seemed to be in luck: The wallet was found by an honest woman, who delivered it, with its contents intact, to a police station. Unfortunately for the young rikishi, as sumo wrestlers are known, the contents of his wallet included not only money and his alien registration card, but also a joint containing 0.368 grams of marijuana. On August 18, Wakanoho was arrested, and a search of his residence turned up a marijuana pipe. The sumo fraternity was scandalized by the first-ever arrest of one of its high-ranking number, and the 20-year-old Russian was banned for life from the sport.

Sumo, which involves two wrestlers trying to force another either out of a circular ring or else to touch the ground with some body part other than the soles of their feet, is a uniquely Japanese tradition, steeped in shinto ritual and courtly decorum. The rikishi are required to live communally in "training stables," where all aspects of their lives, from nutrition to attire, are strictly regulated. Marijuana may not exactly be a performance-enhancing aid to the martial artist, but its recreational use certainly shatters the image of a cadre of professional fighters viewed as bearers of a centuries-old tradition deeply entwined with Japanese identity. Clearly, all is not well in the house of sumo.

Suspicions of fixed bouts arise occasionally, but lately the commitment and character of ranking sumo wrestlers has come under question. Mongolian yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu begged off from participating in a tour of Japan, citing an injury, but he was then filmed playing soccer at home in Mongolia, earning him a two-tournament ban. Last February, then-stable master Junichi Yamamoto was arrested on suspicion of ordering three wrestlers to beat a 17-year-old during a training session — the youth later died of his injuries. Yamamoto and the wrestlers were arrested and charged, and are awaiting trial.

Even though he was released without charge, the Wakanoho's arrest shook the sport to its core. The rikishi escaped charges only because the amount of marijuana in his wallet was smaller than the threshold for legal punishment in Japan. At a news conference, Wakanoho cried, repeatedly apologized and asked for a reinstatement. But a sport whose rituals and conventions are so intimately tied with a traditional sense of Japanese identity is not so easily able to forgive the Russian's transgressions. He was told by the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) that reinstating him was impossible. On September 11, Wakanoho filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against JSA, demanding his dismissal be reversed.

But if the JSA was seeking to make an example of Wakanoho, it may have backfired. Hoping to demonstrate that his was an isolated case of substance abuse, the association conducted surprise urine tests on the 69 wrestlers of the top two divisions. These turned up positive tests in two more Russian rikishi, the brothers Roho, 28 and Hakurozan, 26. Both denied using marijuana — Roho appeared on television, saying "I have never seen or even touched the stuff," while Hakurozan promised that a further test would clear their names. Bad idea. In the second test, this time administrated by the only Japanese facility recognized by the World Anti-Doping Agency, samples from both brothers tested positive. Professor Shohei Onishi of Keio University said last week that the tests had found five times the standard amount in Roho's sample, and double that in Hakurozan's, adding that that the only explanation would be directly smoking the substance. "Second-hand smoke or medicine are 100% out of the question," he said.

Later, the brothers admitted that they had smoked marijuana in Los Angeles during a June sumo tour there. They later denied the admission; Roho said stable masters forced him to lie. Not everyone believed it in the first place. Michihiro Fujiwara, pharmacology professor of Kyushu University told TIME, "Generally, marijuana stays in the body for 72 hours to at the most one week." Still, police were unable to find any evidence of marijuana use when they searched the sumo stables of both wrestlers. With no marijuana found in their possession, it will be difficult to bring any criminal charges against the brothers, but like Wakanoho, they were also thrown out of sumo.

The three wrestlers were not the only casualties in the marijuana scandal: On September 8, in order to take responsibility for the unprecedented upheaval, JSA chairman Kitanoumi, who had also been the stable master of Hakurozan, resigned his post and was replaced by Musashigawa, another former yokozuna.

The marijuana affair reflects the problems faced by a sport that has been assigned a deep cultural significance, yet which is struggling to sustain interest. The number of aspiring wrestlers is dwindling: Whereas each tournament used to attract over 100 new applicants up until about a decade ago to join the ranks of the rikishi, in the most recent event there were only three. "Because of a low birth rate there are fewer children to grow up to become sumo wrestlers," says sports journalist Seijun Ninomiya. "So, out of necessity, we began to turn to overseas athletes." Today, more than one fourth of the professional wrestlers in the top two divisions are foreigners who have no grounding in the traditional values associated with sumo. "They bring over athletes who don't understand Japanese and try to make them into sumo wrestlers but without explaining to them the working of the sumo world, its rules and the Japanese justice system," says journalist Kiyoshi Nakazawa.

Veteran sumo journalist Kunihiro Sugiyama suggests a remedy: "It is a matter of urgency that foreign as well as Japanese wrestlers are given detailed education and guidance. Also, the stable masters have to adapt to the present circumstances and be concerned with the well-being of sumo on the whole and learn a lot themselves." He adds, "In the increasingly global world, a very positive effort is necessary to preserve the tradition of one country, and ensure it is passed down."

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False Bravado: 7 Sports Figures Who Called Their Shots (And Failed)


As we noted in our post about athletes who called their shots and delivered, it takes superior abilities to accomplish something amazing in professional sports. Basically, it's easier to fail. Here are some sports icons who attempted to call their shots only to find themselves kneeling in the rain, their face buried in their hands, photographers gleefully immortalizing their shame for all of eternity.

7.) Joey Porter Guarantees Win Over Raiders...Oops

"Maybe if I yell loud enough my prediction will come true."

But Joey, if you beat the Raiders, it would mean that the 2007 Miami Dolphins won more than a single game, and that simply isn't true. You see folks, last year the Dolphins were a pathetic 1-15 team, only able to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, which, as you've no doubt deduced, means that Porter's guarantee was a sham. He is quoted as saying "Say what you want but we don't feel like an 0-3 team." Good point, Joe, because the Dolphins were actually an 0-13 team before winning their only game.

6.) Big Brown Owner Is Big Brown Failure

"There, there buddy. Of course, you know that I have to shoot you, right?"

Rick Dutrow comes from a lineage of horse trainers. Well, mainly just him and his dad, but that's a longer horse training lineage than your family, probably. The point is, Rick Dutrow owns Big Brown, who you might remember from this year's Triple Crown. Big Brown was so bad ass that he won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Dutrow was so fired up about his horse's bad assedness that he believed Belmont was "a foregone conclusion," insinuating that Big Brown was going to take a huge, hay-filled crap on everyone else. Big Brown pulled up late in the race, finishing dead last.

5.) Jon Kitna Predicts 10+ Win Season For 2007 Lions

"This is for being over-zealous!"

As we've said before, bravado is instilled in every athlete. Some athletes have the ability to silence their bravado when necessary, but others are overtaken by it, and cannot quell their macho desires for long. Such was the case with Jon Kitna. While most players are making predictions about a single game, Kitna decided that sort of talk was for pussies and decided to make a guarantee on an ENTIRE SEASON. He predicted his Detroit Lions would be AT LEAST 10-6. "I'll keep to myself what I actually think, but let's just say it's more than 10 games." Good call Jon, at least you're being modest. The Lions were coming off a 3-13 season in 2006, which to Kitna must have meant they were due for AT LEAST 7 more wins...without actually playing any games. The team finished 2007 as a 7-9 team. Not pathetic, but not 10+ wins by any means.

4.) Winston Montero Promises He Will Defeat Zou Shiming

"Let me win so I can beat that Zou dude. Please?"

The 2008 Olympics were in Beijing, China (did you hear?) and were filled with landmark moments. Most of them involved a certain American swimmer who we won't even name due to his slight over-exposure. Anyway, while all that hullabaloo was going on, there were other sports being played in the Olympics. One of those sports is boxing. Dominican boxer Winston Montero publicly announced that he would defeat heavily favored and world champion light-flyweight boxer Zou Shiming when they meet. Montero should have said "if" we meet because Montero lost to Amnat Ruenroeng, a boxer considerably less skilled than Shiming. Maybe he should have waited until he was actually deserving of even fighting Shiming before announcing he would win.

3.) Anthony Smith Knows The Steelers Will Beat The Patriots

"Excuse me, what is it you said about my team? I can't hear you over the sound of the touchdown I just scored."

When it comes to making retarded sports guarantees, free safety Anthony Smith knows the pain. In December 2007, he claimed his Steelers would defeat the New England Patriots. Remember the 2007 New England Patriots? They went undefeated in the regular season. Most of the Patriots laughed off the guarantee, and Tom Brady made sure to burn Smith on several passes, just to humiliate Smith even more.

2.) Wyoming Coach Joe Glenn To Students: We Will Beat Utah!

"What's that? You're embarassing my team after my retarded guarantee? How dare you."

At a student luncheon at Wyoming, Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn claimed his Wyoming Cowboys would defeat the Utah Utes in Utah. Then they got crapped on by a score of 50-0. Coach Glenn made sure to take the classy route by flipping off Utah coach Kyle Whittingham at the end of the game. What followed is easily one of the most awkward post game interviews of all time.

1.) Matt Hasselbeck Says: "We want the ball, and we're gonna score"

"Or I could just throw a season ending interception."

Matt Hasselbeck was feeling a little cocky one cold night in January 2004 when his Seahawks were playing the Packers in the NFC playoffs. Both teams had put 27 points on the board, sending the game into overtime. The Seahawks won the toss and, know what happens next.

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7 Plays Dumber than DeSean Jackson

Jocks. Who doesn’t love them? Ok don’t really answer that; but who doesn’t love the down-to-earth mistakes that show their occasional hubris and overall boneheadedness? Last night, Eagles WR DeSean Jackson treated us to one of the stupidest moments in NFL history for celebrating his touchdown reception about 18 inches too early. A word of advice to Jackson: you are not Usain Bolt–save the celebrating for after you cross the line.

Of course, Jackson’s play was not of huge consequence (although some of the staunchest Cowboys haters were hoping for a goal line stand, just for karma). There have been plenty of bonehead plays before his. We at IGN reviewed some of the best in recent sports history:

7 - Leon Lett’s Fumble Recovery
It is widely accepted that with his bonehead play, DeSean Jackson has officially entered the Leon Lett Club. For some reason the king of bonehead plays is not on youtube as of this writing, but in Superbowl XXVII (Jan 1993), Lett was fortunate enough to recover a fumble against the Buffalo Bills and take it to the house…except he put his hands out to celebrate in the last 10 yards before approaching the end zone and one of the Bills players caught up to him and knocked the ball out of his hand. Although it was in the Superbowl, the play was of no consequence as the Cowboys won handily.

6 - Leon Lett. Again. The very next season.
This time was not in the Superbowl, but it did cost his team the game. On Thanksgiving Day 1993 during a snowstorm in Dallas, the Cowboys were leading the Dolphins 14-13 and simply needed to run out the clock if the Dolphins miss their field goal. Well, the FG was blocked and the Cowboys started celebrating–except Lett tried to pick up the ball and proceeded to fumble it, which allowed the Dolphins to regain possession and kick another FG as the clock ran out.

5 - Jose Canseco uses his head
During his 1993 stint with the Texas Rangers, Canseco allowed what would’ve been an easy out against the Cleveland Indians to be an easy score. He lost a fly ball in the lights as he approached the warning track, and the ball missed his glove and bounced off his head. In a sport that is so heavily based on statistics, it’s safe to say that Canseco led the league that year in assists.

4 - Fred Brown, Georgetown
Not to be confused with Downtown Fred Brown about 10 years earlier, this Fred Brown played alongside Patrick Ewing in the early 80s and came to a 1 point game in the 1982 national championship game against a UNC squad that included Michael Jordan and James Worthy. UNC went up 63-62 with 15 seconds left. Brown took it up the floor for the final posession and for no explicable reason gave the ball to James Worthy. Dean Smith gets his first NCAA title.
Start watching at about 2:50

3 - Chris Webber, Michigan
Yes, not one but 2 of UNC’s championships have come at the expense of some other idiot’s bonehead plays. At the pinnacle of Fab 5 fame, Chris Webber sealed his fate of never winning a NCAA title by calling timeout in the last seconds of the 1993 championship against UNC. Only problem: they didn’t have any timeouts left, which gave UNC the winning free throws. Instead of even trying to live this down Webber took the bull by the horns and named his charity foundation Timeout, which probably sounds better than Tyra’s Assets

2 - Delfi Geli, Alaves
If you don’t follow euro soccer allow me to explain the stakes. Liverpool FC was playing Deportivo Alaves for the 2001 UEFA Cup, which is kind of like saying Florida State was playing Oklahoma in the Bowl game for all the Americas. Anyway, after playing a relatively high-scoring 4-4 game, Alaves’ star Delfi Geli managed to score an own-golden-goal (golden meaning it was sudden death OT) defending a free kick. Top put this in American terms, it would be as if Leon Lett had fumbled in his own end zone to give the Bills the game-winning touchdown in Superbowl overtime.
Start watching @ 3:40

1 - DeSean Jackson in high school
Yes, the only thing truly dumber than DeSean Jackson now, is DeSean Jackson in high school. In this all-star game he did a flip at the 1 yard line to celebrate his td, not only proving that he has nothing in common with Usain Bolt, but he is no Shawn Johnson either.

NFL Power Rankings: 2008 Week 3

The relative lack of movement atop the latest NFL power rankings sets up a pair of blockbuster showdowns on the field for Week 3.
The Dallas Cowboys, who survived a seesaw, home battle with the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, remain the kings of the hill this week. And for the second consecutive polling, our experts deem the Pittsburgh Steelers the second-best team in the league -- even though the Steelers barely edged the host Cleveland Browns. But the top of the standings could be in a for a shakeup next week. Sunday the Cowboys visit the Green Bay Packers, who rank fourth this week. Earlier in the day, the No. 2 Steelers will visit the Eagles, who rank No. 5 this week despite the "Monday Night Football" loss at Dallas. In the middle of the logjam atop the power rankings are the New York Giants, up two spots to No. 3. In Week 2, the defending Super Bowl champions dismantled the St. Louis Rams, who for the second consecutive week anchor the bottom of the rankings. The Giants replace the shell-shocked San Diego Chargers, this week's biggest tumblers. Victim of a last-minute winning score for the second consecutive week, the Chargers fell 10 places from No. 3 to No. 13 overall. The New Orleans Saints -- who could not hold a fourth-quarter lead against the Washington Redskins in Week 2 -- and the Jacksonville Jaguars -- who squandered a fourth-quarter lead over the Buffalo Bills at home -- also took big hits. The Saints (from No. 4 to No. 12) and Jags (from No. 10 to No. 18) each fell eight spots.

We've called upon some of our voting members to provide team-by-team commentary. Thus, for your reading pleasure, you'll have: • Tim Graham on the AFC East
• James Walker on the AFC North
• Paul Kuharsky on the AFC South
• Bill Williamson on the AFC West
• Matt Mosley on the NFC East
• Kevin Seifert on the NFC North
• Pat Yasinskas on the NFC South
• Mike Sando on the NFC West

The Saints could impress our voters again if they manage to upset the host Denver Broncos on Sunday. Fueled by a high-powered offense featuring quarterback Jay Cutler and receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, Denver made the biggest gain in the power rankings this week. The Broncos leaped eight places from No. 19 to No. 11 overall, thanks in part to a dubious fumble ruling in the last minutes of their 39-38 victory over the Chargers. The Arizona Cardinals find themselves in rarified air this week -- at No. 14, they make a rare appearance in the top half of the rankings. Apparently their home romp over the lowly Miami Dolphins -- who rate 30th this week -- was enough to vault the Cardinals seven spots in the rankings. The Cardinals' legitimacy will be tested as they visit the Washington Redskins in Week 3. Other notes from the latest rankings: Hurricane Ike had a slight effect on the power rankings. The storm postponed the scheduled Baltimore Ravens Houston Texans matchup. While the inactive Texans remained ranked No. 24 overall, the equally dormant Ravens moved up from No. 22 to No. 20. The New England Patriots, playing their first regular-season game in ages without quarterback Tom Brady at the ready, beat the New York Jets in Week 2. The Patriots, our perennial leaders in the weekly rankings, moved up three spots from No. 9 to No. 6. The Brett Favre-led Jets, who whiffed on their chance to make a statement in the supposedly wide-open AFC East, only fell from No. 14 to No. 16 in the eyes of our esteemed experts.

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As Texas Stadium's time runs out, Dallas Cowboys fans' affection for it does not

By BRANDON FORMBY / The Dallas Morning News

Texas Stadium has always been more than Irving's most famous feature, more than the home of sports heroes, more than the centerpiece of football fans' Sundays.

Veteran tour guide shows Dallas Cowboys fans around Texas Stadium
Cowboys Videos

Thanks to its famous design, the stadium has been the very heart of an epic lore that for decades has woven together religion and football. Now its end is beginning.

"You say to anybody, 'What stadium am I talking about when I say there's a hole in the roof so God can look down on his team,' and even people halfway around the world say, 'Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play,' " said lifelong fan Bruce Keehner.

The Cowboys play Philadelphia tonight in the first regular-season home game of Texas Stadium's final year. And not even the promise of a behemoth replacement stadium in Arlington, state-of-the-art as it may be, can distract the Cowboys faithful.

"I'm sure the new stadium is great, but it doesn't get any better than something that's been there forever," said Cathy Hill, Mr. Keehner's sister and another lifelong fan.

Team officials already have seen a 15 percent increase in the number of fans who have toured the stadium in July and August, compared with the same period last year.

"We expect that increase to move up dramatically over the months of November and December," said Rich Dalrymple, the team's director of public relations.

Meanwhile, folks such as Lee Taylor – who has never been to a home game – are scrambling to get tickets as it dawns on them that this is their last chance. Mr. Taylor, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., has already secured seats at the Oct. 5 game against Cincinnati.

"Every now and then I kind of look at the tickets and say, 'Wow, I'm actually going,' " he said.

It's the kind of sojourn that envelops many fans in awe – so much so that they sometimes struggle to find a worthy way to express the experience.

"Being a fan all my life, to actually not just go watch a game, but be where Emmitt and Troy played, it was just great," Shreveport banker B.J. Robison said. "There's not a whole lot of words to describe it."

More than 55,000 people each year flock to the stadium for tours. Of all the access granted – locker rooms, sidelines, suites – there's one thing that really draws them in: the big blue star on the 50-yard-line directly below that famous hole in the roof.

"It felt like coming home," Mr. Keehner said of his first time to stand on the star. "It felt like a real centering experience. It felt like the epicenter of my universe."

To some, the stadium brings back memories of Tom Landry, Roger the Dodger and Crazy Ray. To others, it's the place where family outings cemented lifelong bonds.

"It was one of those great father-son deals, being able to watch him watch Dallas for the first time," Mr. Robison said of a 2003 game he attended with his father. "It was just great."

Texas Stadium – which opened in 1971 – is also a reminder that the sports industry is moving on.

"It's sad, but it's probably run its course," said Wayne Colodny of San Antonio, a Richardson High graduate who hasn't been to a game in decades but never misses the team on TV.

"I'll miss her, but I understand the process," he said. "It'll create some buzz next year. Not that the Cowboys need any buzz."

Still, news of Irving's plans to demolish the structure (the city's making way for redevelopment around a coming DART light-rail line) can be heartbreaking.

"That's going to be sad," Ms. Hill said. "That just doesn't seem right."

Maybe that's because a unique design, a successful franchise and an ambitious name combined to solidify the structure's place in Cowboys history – and fans' hearts – decades ago.

"Its name is Texas Stadium," Mr. Keehner said. "For people who are born in Texas and have pride in Texas, Texas Stadium has what feels like my name right on it. I can't help but feel some pride over that."


The Dallas Cowboys have issued new rules for games this year in advance of Monday's first home game of the last season at Texas Stadium in Irving. They include:

■ Tailgating has not been banned at Texas Stadium, but fans will be required to do so in designated tailgate parking areas that will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The tailgating areas are on the perimeters of the interior and exterior of the lot and are identified by a blue line at the edge of the parking row.

■ Fans must have a hanging parking coupon in their vehicles to tailgate. Stadium management will monitor the number of spaces taken leading up to kickoff.

■ For Monday's game only, Texas Stadium parking lots will open at 3:30 p.m. for the 7:30 kickoff between the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. The stadium gates will open at 4:30 p.m., but the corral at Gate 8 will open at 4.

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