Sports Outside the Beltway

Jake Plummer cited for alleged road rage

From the Denver Post-

Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer has been issued a summons by the Englewood police in connection with a purported “road-rage-type incident” last month, investigator John Hoehler said Tuesday night.

Police were sent to East Hampden Avenue and Downing Street on April 20 after a report of a hit-and-run accident. The victim of the incident – identified by Fox 31 News as Doug Stone – told officers he had been involved in a road rage incident with the driver of a gray Honda van.

When the van stopped at a red light, the driver got out and kicked the front of Stone’s truck. The man then got back into the Honda, put it in reverse and hit the front of Stone’s vehicle causing minor damage, then left the scene, Hoehler said.

“When he backed into my truck, he broke my license-plate frame,” Stone told Fox 31.

Stone said he saw the gray Honda cut off three other drivers before he was cut off.

“He pulled in front of me,” Stone said. “I wasn’t very polite. I did honk my horn quite a bit.”

Stone also said, “He actually kicked the front of the truck and said, ‘Stay off my tail.’ He proceeded to get back into his van, he put it in reverse and backed right into the bumper and actually pushed there for 10 seconds and then took off.”

A witness – identified by Fox 31 as Marjorie Casse – got the license-plate number of the van and reported it to police, he said.

AP reported a little more.

A message left for Plummer through the Broncos was not immediately returned Tuesday night.


When contacted by police, Plummer said he was involved in a rear-end crash, not road rage.

“He went out and looked and didn’t see any damage so he didn’t report it,” Hoehler said.


Hoehler said there was a delay in issuing the summons because the officer in charge of the case was busy and didn’t get a chance to pursue the case until recently.

No specific court date for Plummer has been given.

It did seem odd that his accident happened a month ago and is only being reported and worked on now. At present it is a case of he said, he said. We’ll have to await further developments.


Could Florida Governor Jeb Bush be the next NFL Commissioner?

The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel is reporting the following

Bush, who spends his Sundays each fall watching pro football, acknowledged Tuesday that the NFL job was broached during a recent meeting with Patrick Rooney Sr., owner of the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

Rooney is the brother of Dan Rooney, who owns the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and co-chairs the NFL’s search committee looking for a replacement for Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

“I met with Mr. Rooney and I said I’m doing my job until I’m finished and then I’m going to consider other things. But I’m not going to do anything until I finish,” Bush, who leaves office in January, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Although he has repeatedly said he will not seek the presidency in 2008, Bush has declined to say what he does hope to do other than return to Miami.


Patrick Rooney Sr. did not return calls and was out of the country Tuesday.

While I see this as more likely than Jeb Bush running for President, I’m betting nothing comes of it.


Terrell Owens’ Philly Mansion For Sale

If you’re looking for a nice place in the Philadelphia area, Terrell Owens has a deal for you:

Terrell Owens Philadelphia House For Sale Photo Ex-Eagles Terrell Owens may be a Dallas Cowboy now, but he still has one tie to the Philadelphia area: His Moorestown mansion, still on the market since midseason. Houses don’t sell like memorabilia, according to listing agent Erica Lacey of Blue Chip Realty. “When you get into the millions, especially where the interest rates are now, it is a longer process,” she says, noting that T.O.’s purchase price was the highest for any Burlington or Camden County home in a decade. He paid $3.9 million (about half a year’s pay for him) and is asking $4.199 million, lowered recently from $4.399 million. To Lacey, the best feature is the “phenomenal” cabana area, with hot tub, second kitchen and year-round outdoor grill. Others might gush over the kitchen, or the “absolutely beautiful” screening room, with fireplace and access to the outdoors. A house like this rates its own website,, which people can visit to view all the details and many more pictures like these.

When $3.9 is only half your annual salary, you can just move to Dallas and buy another house. Without even getting a bridge loan. Sweet.


Reggie Bush Threatens Camp Holdout

Reggie Bush has announced that, despite earlier declarations that he intends to be in camp once it starts, that is contingent on getting “a fair offer, one that meets our expectations.”

Although he reiterated his intention to be in his first NFL training camp on time, New Orleans Saints first-round draft choice and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush delivered a not-so-subtle message to Saints officials over the weekend: Negotiations are a two-way street, and it’s time for everyone to take the on-ramp to the bargaining table. “I’m a competitor and a football player, and so, yeah, naturally, I want to be in camp on time,” Bush told “My goal is to be in there and to start doing my part to bring a Super Bowl championship to New Orleans. That’s what I want. But I have an agent and I have faith in Joel [Segal] to handle that end of things for me. … [And] he knows we have to have a fair offer, one that meets our expectations.”


Other than allowing that he wants a contract which is “fair for everyone involved,” Bush did not address in detail his financial expectations. But it is fair to assume that, as the second overall choice in the draft, Bush will seek a deal that approximates, and perhaps in some ways surpasses, the six-year, $54 million contract that the Houston Texans awarded defensive end Mario Williams, the draft’s top pick.

I’m beginning to see why the Texans passed on this guy. The second pick gets less money than the first pick; that’s the deal. And he could have been the first pick had he been reasonable in his pre-draft contract negotiations.

Still, he’s clearly not a bad guy:

Bush called his reception in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, where he has been embraced by fans as the savior of the Saints franchise, “overwhelming,” and Bush said he intends to expand upon the charitable endeavors he has already begun in the city. Of his ongoing battle to wear his familiar uniform No. 5 in the NFL, he noted that the decision is out of his hands and that there is nothing new to report. There could be a resolution of the uniform matter this week, with owners scheduled to meet in Denver on Tuesday.

He deserves a big-time contract, given what he accomplished in college. But the NFL has a “slotted” system and a rookie cap that each team has allocated. He’s got to work within those parameters.


Barry Bonds Hits 714th Homer, Ties Ruth

Barry Bonds has hit his 714th career home run, tying the legendary number set by Babe Ruth.

Barry Bonds 714th Home Run Photo San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds, center, swings for his 714th career home run off Oakland Athletics' Brad Halsey (51) in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 20, 2006, in Oakland, Calif. Bonds is now tied with Babe Ruth's second-place record for career home runs. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) The agonizing wait is over for Barry Bonds. He and the Babe are even at 714. Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the career home run list Saturday, ending a nine-game homerless stretch with a shot into the first deck of the elevated stands in right-center during San Francisco’s 4-2, 10-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics.

“This is a great accomplishment because of Babe Ruth and what he brought to the game of baseball and his legacy in the game of baseball,” Bonds said. “This and a World Series ring to me would be the ultimate. He changed the game of baseball. … It’s just great to be in the same class.”

The second-inning drive landed about eight rows up in the seats overlooking the high fence just to the left of the out-of-town scoreboard. Though the A’s don’t provide estimated distances on home runs, this one appeared to travel about 400 feet — far from being one of Bonds’ trademark behemoth drives.

Booed when he was introduced before the game, the Giants’ star received a long standing ovation after his home run, and the game was delayed about 90 seconds.

Next up is Hank Aaron’s record of 755. “This took a lot off me. It’s good,” Bonds said. “A lot of relief. Well, until something else comes up.”


The Giants plan to commemorate No. 715 in their own ballpark. Major League Baseball has said it won’t do anything special to celebrate Bonds moving into second place, and a commissioner’s office spokesman said baseball had no comment Saturday.

Ruth passed Sam Thompson to move into second place on June 20, 1921, when he hit his 127th home run. Aaron passed Ruth in April 1974 — and now Hammerin’ Hank’s mark is the only one left for Bonds to chase. Yet Bonds has said that could be a long shot considering he turns 42 on July 24, is playing on a surgically repaired right knee and with bone chips floating around in his left elbow.

Bonds’ breaking Aaron’s record seemed a sure thing two years ago. Losing almost the entirety of last season, though, and clearly feeling the effects of injuries that would have made a less determined man retire long ago, however, would make hitting another 42 homes seem unlikely. I wouldn’t count Bonds out, though.


Bernardini Wins Preakness; Barbaro Hurt

From AP

BALTIMORE – Bernardini won the Preakness on Saturday in a race marred by an apparent injury to favorite and Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

Before the race, Barbaro came out of the starting gate early. No foul was called. But within the first 20 seconds of the race, he appeared to take a bad step and listed right.

Replays showed that it was his right hind leg.

Bernadini’s win stopped what looked like a sure triple crown winner in Barbaro.

I can’t recall a major racing horse injury like this in at least 30 years.

Now we can only hope Barbaro can be saved. My father used to own standardbred race horses. Standardbreds and thoroughbreds race differently but the horses are much the same too. They are very fragile animals.

For example, my father owned a horse named Fast Clip. He won major stakes races and almost a quarter million dollars between 1971-74 before being retired to stud. In July 1972 an inexperienced groom wrapped Clip’s bandages too tight, cutting off his circulation in his ankles. Fast Clip didn’t race again for almost a month.

Medicine has improved, so Barbaro’s chances of being saved are better today than 30 years ago when Ruffian had to be destroyed.

Horses aren’t the brightest animals which can complicate their care after being injured too.

A report on NBC just said Barbaro has breaks above and below the ankle. That is not good news.

Barbaro’s racing career is over. He is still a valuable property, for as a Derby winner he is worth millions as a stud horse for breeding.

Additional note- Sometimes I wonder if horse owners don’t just retire a horse after a big stakes win like the Kentucky Derby. The risk of injury is always out there. Weigh the risk of more racing versus serious injury. Almost all winners of any thoroughbred triple crown race are retired before year’s end as is.

Correction- This kind of injury has happened more often in the past than I thought.

Thoroughbreds have broken down in the past in big races: In the 1993 Preakness, Union City broke down and was euthanized; in the 1993 Belmont Stakes, Preakness winner Prairie Bayou broke down; in the 1999 Belmont Stakes, with Charismatic trying to win the Triple Crown, he was pulled up while finishing third with a fractured ankle; Go For Wand broke down in the stretch of the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and was euthanized;


Peyton Manning Wants to Play Another Eight Years

Colts star Peyton Manning has said he would like to play another eight years, which basically takes him through his current contract with Indianapolis plus one more year.

Eight years into his career and, according to the Peyton Manning personal vocational blueprint, the Indianapolis Colts’ star quarterback has reached the halfway point of his NFL tenure. “Yeah, I guess that I’ll be handing off on the ‘stretch’ play when I’m an old man, huh?” said Manning, laughing, as he referred to the Colts’ staple running play. “It might take a little more to stretch when I’m 38 years old.” Manning reiterated, as the Colts began a three-day minicamp here Friday, that he wants to play eight more seasons. He initially revealed his desires to the Indianapolis Star.

If he follows that game plan, Manning will play through the 2013 season, when he will be 38. The Colts’ star, who captured the league passing title each of the last two seasons, turned 30 in March. Eight more seasons, and a total of 16 for his career, would be one more year than his father, Archie Manning, logged in his career. Manning is under contract through the 2012 season and, in the past, has acknowledged that he prefers to be a “Colt for life.” Colts owner Jim Irsay has also indicated that he wants Manning, the first overall selection in the 1998 draft and the cornerstone for the transformation of the Indianapolis franchise into a perennial playoff contender, to play his entire career with the team.

The two-time most valuable player has dealt with some injuries in the past, but has remained relatively healthy, and has never missed a game. Manning has appeared in 108 straight regular-season contests, and started in all of them. Of the 4,449 passes logged by Indianapolis quarterbacks since his arrival, Manning has accounted for 97.4 percent of them. In three seasons, he took every snap. “I’ve been lucky from a health standpoint, and I feel really good,” Manning said. “The injuries I’ve had, we’ve been able to deal with them. I don’t see, at least now, why I can’t play 16 seasons.”

Such a tenure, which seems reasonable given the physical condition in which Manning always keeps himself, is hardly unreasonable. It would mean Manning likely would challenge the league’s passing marks, most of which are held by Dan Marino. Manning has completed 2,769 of 4,333 passed for 33,189 yards, with 244 touchdown passes and 130 interceptions. Double all those numbers and Manning would surpass Marino’s current records for attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes.

But more than records, of course, Manning wants the Super Bowl ring that has eluded him and the Colts. The team seems to have put behind it the gnawing loss to Pittsburgh in an divisional-round playoff game last year, and is poised to move ahead in 2006, but there are times Manning and others sneak a peek in the rear-view mirror. “You’ll be sitting watching [tape] and all of a sudden the playoff game will pop up and it kind of forces you to confront it again,” Manning said. “But this is a really mature team. We’ve had some changes, but a lot of the guys here have been through it. We’ve just got to find a way to finish the deal. There’s still time, with this group here, to finish what we want to accomplish.”

Barring serious injury, a 16 year career is not unreasonable. Still, it’s longer than most quarterbacks elite manage.


Punt Returns New NFL Emphasis

Len Pasquarelli notes that the recent draft class marked a new emphasis on punt returns, a declining stat in recent years.

For every action, it seems there is always a reaction in the NFL, and that was reflected in the uncharacteristically large number of return specialists chosen in this year’s draft. Beginning with the selection of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush (New Orleans) with the second overall pick, through the final choice in the lottery, Maine wide receiver Kevin McMahan (Oakland), there was an unprecedented grab on prospects with standout return skills. Players such as defensive backs Danieal Manning of Abilene Christian and Devin Hester of Miami, both chosen by the Chicago Bears in the second round, became priorities. So did guys such as UCLA tailback Maurice Drew (Jacksonville, second round), Florida State wide receiver Willie Reid (Pittsburgh, third round) and LSU wideout Skyler Green (Dallas, fourth round), among others.

So why a sudden emphasis on multitalented prospects teams hope will offer big returns, literally and figuratively, on their investments? Well, for openers, consider this: The league average for punt returns in 2005 was a puny 8.10 yards. That represents the fifth-lowest punt return average in the NFL since the 1970 merger, and the most anemic since 1979, when the league standard was a measly 7.65 yards. It marked the second consecutive season in which the average dipped below 9 yards, the first time that has occurred since the 1990-91 seasons. And there were only nine punt returns for touchdowns, the fewest since 1991.

Puny punt returns
The leaguewide average for punt returns during the 2005 season, just 8.10 yards, ties for the fifth-lowest mark since the 1970 merger. It marked the second straight year in which the league average was under 9 yards, the first time that has occurred since the 1990-91 seasons. Here are the 10 worst seasons, in terms of punt return average, since 1970:
Year Average
1971 7.02


1970 7.36

2005 8.10


1982 8.13

1978 8.38
1990 8.43
Source: Elias Sports Bureau

Fact is, there were just a combined 21 touchdowns in the league last season on punt and kickoff returns. That is the lowest number of combined kick returns for touchdowns since 1995, when there were 19. But the continuing slippage in punt return average — last season marked the fifth straight year in which the average declined and the seventh straight in which the NFL norm was less than 10 yards — was almost certainly responsible for the considerable contingent of return men chosen in the 2006 draft.

Clearly, the shrinking punt return average has garnered attention around the league and inflated the need for electrifying return specialists. “The [punt return] numbers are a little bit of a concern,” said Atlanta Falcons team president and general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the NFL’s influential competition committee. “They are too low, definitely, and it may be something we have to look at in the near future. We always take a hard look at the kicking game. Six or seven years ago, we talked about some things like not allowing teams to punt the ball out of bounds or not allowing the ‘gunners’ to leave the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked. In terms of rules changes, though, there probably isn’t a whole lot we can do.”

So in this year’s draft, obviously, teams sought to change the human element. The glaring shortcoming on punt runbacks was addressed by franchises adding mercurial players they hope can dodge coverage units and run a long way. Of the top 10 punt return specialists from the 2005 college season who were eligible for the 2006 draft, nine were selected in the seven rounds of the lottery. And that didn’t even include Bush, who ranked No. 38 in average punt return in the NCAA statistics.

“It’s a game-changing opportunity, every punt or kickoff return, and it seems like more teams realized that in this draft,” said former Olympics moguls skier Jeremy Bloom, chosen by Philadelphia in the fifth round and expected to pump excitement into the Eagles’ return units. “It seemed like, once one or two return guys went off the board, the position kind of became a hot commodity. It really exploded.”

As accomplished as those return men were in college, however, they will have to step up their games to deal with the NFL’s ever-shrinking punt return average. But why is the league’s punt return average, which between 1992 and 2003 registered 10 yards or more in three seasons and never slipped to less than 9 yards, suddenly in such a perilous decline? “I think punters have bought in more now to the importance of net average,” said Buffalo Bills assistant head coach Bobby April, one of the NFL’s premier special teams mentors. “A guy like [former longtime NFL punter] Dan Stryzinski, he basically eliminated the punt return game by forcing so many fair catches every year. And guys see the wisdom of that. “Plus, as special teams coaches, we’re getting so much more practice time devoted to the kicking game than we ever did in the past. It’s certainly not any revolutionary changes in technique or mechanics or, for that matter, coaching. And, let’s face it, in an athletic matchup between the return man and a cover guy, who’s going to win? So you work harder at, get a guy to punt the ball more for net than gross average, and these are the results. I mean, no one ever wants to give a return guy any space.”



Russ Springer Suspended for throwing at Barry Bonds

From AP

NEW YORK – Houston pitcher Russ Springer was suspended for four games Friday after throwing several times at Barry Bonds and eventually hitting the San Francisco star earlier this week.

Astros manager Phil Garner was suspended for one game and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball.

The strange sequence Tuesday began when Bonds led off the fifth inning of the Giants’ 14-3 win. Springer’s first pitch went behind the seven-time NL MVP’s back, drawing a warning from plate umpire Joe West.

The next three pitches all came inside, including one that hit Bonds’ bat handle for strike one. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Springer hit Bonds in the right shoulder. Springer and Garner were then ejected, and Bonds took his base without incident.

Bonds has hit 713 home runs, one shy of matching Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record of 755, and many people believe Bonds’ accomplishments are tainted because of alleged steroids use.

Unless there is an appeal, Springer will begin serving his suspension Friday night when the Astros host the Texas Rangers. If he appeals, the suspension will be held up pending a hearing.

Springer’s suspension was predictable. MLB has had a record of suspending players for such conduct.

MLB suspension policies don’t make sense however. Kenny Rogers got suspended last year for 20 games for an incident with a cameraman. For a starting pitcher that comes out to five games at most. MLB pitchers pitch on four days rest at least. So Rogers penalty works out to almost the same as Springer’s. Who do you think was worse?

By the way I think there shouldn’t be any celebration for Bonds for besting Babe Ruth mark of 714. Ruth is the all-time homerun champ still in the AL with about 708 homeruns.(Sorry I don’t have the record books.) Ruth finished his career in the NL with the Boston Braves.

Next up for Bonds is Hank Aaron’s all-time NL mark of 733(approximately again). Aaron finished his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Too bad there isn’t a Pittsubrgh AL team for Bonds to finish with.


Eddie Sutton Retires, Replaced by Son, Sean

Eddie Sutton is retiring from coaching and turning the reins at Oklahoma State over to his son, Sean.

Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton, 70, will announce his retirement this afternoon at a 3 p.m. ET press conference in Stillwater, ESPN has learned.

He will be replaced by his son, Sean Sutton, who has been head coach designate for the past several seasons.

Eddie Sutton coached OSU for 16 seasons. He also coached at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky. He was the first coach to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He has coached in three Final Fours.

Sutton pleaded no contest May 5 to drunken driving charges for a traffic accident in which his SUV swerved, collided with another vehicle and then hit a tree.

Sutton, who underwent treatment for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Center in 1987 while he was coach at Kentucky, has said lingering back pain was a factor in his relapse.

“The pain at times literally has been unbearable. … The pain was so bad that I took a lot of pain pills, but that didn’t seem to work, so I succumbed to temptation and went and bought a bottle,” Sutton said in a news conference five days after the accident.

A lousy way to end a legendary career.


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