Sports Outside the Beltway

Vinny Testaverde Retires

Vinny Testaverde Retires Vinny Testaverde has finally had enough, calling it quits after a 21-year NFL career.

The 44-year-old quarterback said Saturday that he’ll retire after Carolina’s season finale at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

“I just feel like it’s time,” Testaverde told The Associated Press before boarding the team bus for the airport. “Obviously at 44 it does get a little bit tougher as the weeks go by. I’m glad I’m able to do it on my own terms and walk away from the game not only healthy, but to experience some of the things I’ve been through.”

Testaverde was out of the league until the Panthers, desperate for quarterback help after injuries to Jake Delhomme and David Carr, signed him on Oct. 10. Four days and only three practices later, Testaverde became the oldest starting QB to win a game when he led the Panthers to a victory at Arizona.

“It’s going to be, for me, one of my special moments in the NFL,” Testaverde said. “To come in with three days of preparation and go out and help a team win a football game and contribute, I’m proud of the fact I was able to do that.”

Testaverde started five more games for Carolina and completed 94 of 172 passes for 952 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions. But his body wore down late in the season, and he was sidelined by back pain and a right Achilles tendon injury that kept him out of games and practices the past month.

Testaverde said he started contemplating retirement several weeks ago. “You want to be able to go out there and perform the way you think you can,” Testaverde said. “When you have some things that hinder you from doing that, it makes it tougher.”

Testaverde’s final game will come where his pro career started. The 1986 Heisman Trophy winner at Miami, Testaverde was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 1987 draft. He got off to rocky start, throwing 13 touchdown passes and 35 interceptions in his second season with the Buccaneers, his first as the full-time starter.

Testaverde weathered the criticism for three more seasons before moving to Cleveland. After the franchise moved to Baltimore, Testaverde made his first Pro Bowl in 1996. Testaverde made the Pro Bowl two years later with the New York Jets, when he had 29 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Late in his career he played with Dallas and New England.

Testaverde ranks sixth in the league for career attempts (6,701), completions (3,787) and yards passing (45,233). Testaverde has thrown 275 touchdown passes and 267 interceptions. Testaverde also holds the NFL record by throwing at least one touchdown pass in 21 straight seasons.

“I think my years in Tampa Bay have taught me a lot, not only about football, but about life,” Testaverde said. “It kind of helped me grow a tough skin. I went through some tough times as a professional athlete there, but it’s a great place, a great town. It’s come full circle.”

I don’t think he’s quite a Hall of Famer but he had a heck of a career and was a class act.


Former MLB player Jim Leyritz charged with DUI manslaughter

He is charged with killing a woman in Broward County Florida.

FORT LAUDERDALE – Jim Leyritz, the former Major League Baseball player known as “The King,” was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter Friday morning following an accident that killed another driver, police said.

Leyritz, 44, was traveling north-bound on Southwest Seventh Avenue when he passed a red light and crashed with another car around 3:30 a.m., said Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman Kathy Collins.

The accident happened at the intersection of Southwest Second Street and Seventh Avenue. A 30-year-old woman traveling west-bound on Second Street was ejected from her car, Collins said.

She was pronounced dead at Broward General Medical Center.

Leyritz was charged with manslaughter and DUI property damage after an investigation, Collins said.

Leyritz played with the New York Yankees in the ’90s, earning his nickname after hitting the last home run in Game 4 of the 1999 World Series.

If found guilty and sent to jail, it will be a shame will Leyritz’s famous homer gets blotted out by one foolish night of excess.


Miami Dolphin Coach Cam Cameron is toast

Bill Parcells, Miami’s new VP of Football operations, gave his first press conference yesterday since accepting the job..

Despite the challenge, Parcells expressed confidence that he can be successful where others have not been because he brings a proven plan.

“This is basically a talent-acquisition business,” he said. “In addition to acquiring the talent, you have to have a structure in place within your organization that will enhance the development of that talent, and then you have to have a competent coaching staff that will coach that talent.

“If you can get those three things in place … I think you can make progress in this league.”

Parcells didn’t reveal his intentions regarding General Manager Randy Mueller, coach Cam Cameron, the scouting department or even the equipment managers. But Parcells indicated he is prepared to overhaul the entire front office if need be to replicate the infrastructure he prefers.

“I don’t have any timetable on anything other than I’m just going to try to get to work as hard as I can as soon as I can to get this thing going,”

Cameron is done in Miami. He is not the main cause of the team’s 2007 collapse, but there is no doubt the coach has made his share of bad personnel decisions and been poor in on the field management. I think Parcells is going to give Cameron the boot no later than the second week in January and a new coach in place no later than mid-February. Sooner is a definite possibility. I’m setting the late time in case Miami wishes to talk to an NFL assistant working for a team active in the post season. You know another flavor or coach of the month type choice. Like Cam Cameron was a year ago.

Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post is voicing the same opinion.

He’ll probably fire head coach Cam Cameron in the sooner part of the restructuring.

He’ll probably fire General Manager Randy Mueller in the later part of it.

Those are the guesses after listening for half an hour to Bill Parcells, who was introduced at Dolphins headquarters Thursday as executive vice president of football operations.

I’m guessing, as is Stoda, at what moves will made by Parcells by Parcells after Sunday’s game. We’ll know in a few weeks or even in a matter of days if I’m right.

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Adios stakes race probably moving to Pocono Downs for 2008

It has been raced at the Meadows since beginning in 1967. From

The Meadows is working on an agreement to move its signature race, the Delvin Miller Adios, to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for one year, while the new casino building is being constructed on the track’s property. The new building is scheduled to open in early 2009, which would allow for the return of the Adios. Both The Meadows and Pocono are five-eighths mile racing ovals.

Meanwhile, The Meadows also plans to ask the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission for permission to drop Saturday racing in 2008. Track general manager John Marshall told Harness Tracks of America that business has been tough in the afternoon market on Saturdays.

Both tracks are virtually the same, just in different parts of Pennsylvania. The move makes sense, though I am sure local businesses in Washington PA aren’t happy with the one year move.

On a personal note- The only time the Adios finished in a dead heat, was 1972 between Strike Out and Jay Time. Both those horses were rivals of Fast Clip, a horse then owned by my father. Clip didn’t race in the Adios that year. It may have had something to do with an accident that happened in July 72 where the horse’s leg wraps were applied too tightly causing a loss of circulation. A serious injury to a race horse, that caused Clip not to race for almost a month.

A month after the Adios, Strike Out and Jay Time were at it again in the first heat of The Little Brown Jug. I wonder if Keith Waples decision to park Jay Time as the two horses went the 1st quarter in 27 flat had something to do with what happened at The Adios. Jay Time finished last in the Jug’s first heat, and had to be scratched from the second race.

I was to a Adios race in either 1973 or 1974. My father didn’t have a horse in the event, but saw the race take place. Other than Pompano Park in Florida, Pocono Downs is the last harness track I been to. I went there with my father sometime in the mid-80′s.

The Meadows joins a long list of race tracks in financial difficulty. Hosting one of racing’s premier events doesn’t protect any horse venue these days.


Florida Panthers end 11-game losing streak in Atlanta dating back to 2003

The Panthers last road win against the Thrashers was in November 2003. From AP-

ATLANTA – Nathan Horton scored two goals for the first time since last March to help the Florida Panthers beat the Thrashers 5-3 on Thursday night and end an 11-game losing streak in Atlanta.


Panthers coach Jacques Martin won his 497th game, putting him in 10th place and one ahead of Glen Sather on the NHL career list.

In his third season with Florida, Martin has 90 victories. He also coached 8 1/2 years in Ottawa and two in St. Louis.


Vokoun, who stopped 38 of 41 shots, improved to 6-1-2 in his last nine games, 18-12-2 overall.

Last night’s win pulls Florida 2 pts behind Carolina in Southeast Division race. Both teams have played an equal amount of games.

Florida plays 5 games over the next nine days, starting with Montreal tonight. Teams the Panthers play include New Jersey, NY Islanders, and Pittsburgh three of their chief rivals in the fight for the playoffs. I think we are going to find out just how good Florida is in the next two weeks.


Joe Sakic to miss 8-12 weeks due to hernia operation

The Captain of the Colorado Avalanche last played on November 30. From AP-

DENVER – Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic will undergo hernia surgery Friday and will miss eight to 12 weeks, the club announced Thursday.

Sakic has been out since Nov. 30, missing 12 games. The organization said a lack of progress in rehab has made surgery necessary.


Sakic, in his 19th season, has been Colorado’s leading scorer the past three seasons, including a 100-point campaign last year. It was the sixth time he reached the 100-point mark in his career.

The Avalanche are 8-4-1 since Sakic was injured.


Before missing the Avalanche’s game against San Jose on Nov. 30, Sakic, who has seven goals and 15 assists in 24 games this season, had played in 232 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 6, 2004.

My favorite team, the Florida Panthers, is scheduled to play Colorado next month. So I’ll miss one of the rare opportunities a Panther fan gets to see the veteran. Get well Joe.


South Korean boxer Choi Yoi-sam in coma after bout

The fighter had just won a WBO flyweight title bout. From AP-

SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean boxer who lost consciousness after winning his WBO intercontinental flyweight bout was in a coma with a brain injury.

Choi Yoi-sam was rushed to a hospital shortly after Tuesday’s fight against Indonesian challenger Heri Amol. The 33-year-old South Korean was knocked down in the final round of the 12-round fight, but it was not known whether that caused him to pass out.

“Choi’s condition is very bad. He is in a coma,” Lee Mi-jong, a spokesman at Soonchunhyang University Hospital in Seoul, said Wednesday.

The boxer had surgery Tuesday to stop the swelling of his brain, he said.

“Even if he survives, it’ll be difficult for him to continue his boxing career,” Lee said.

It is just a little 25 years since the famous Ray Mancini-Duk Koo Kim title bout. Like Choi, Kim was South Korean. Duk Koo Kim died five days after his match with Mancini, from head injuries suffered during that fight. Lets pray Choi doesn’t meet a similar fate.


Martin Brodeur earns 95th career shutout

It moves the NJ Devil goaltender into 2nd place on the all-time NHL list. From AP-

CALGARY, Alberta – Martin Brodeur broke a tie with George Hainesworth for second place on the NHL’s career shutout list, making 30 saves in the New Jersey Devils’ 1-0 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.

Brodeur has three shutouts this season to push his career total to 95. Terry Sawchuk tops the list with 103.

Patrik Elias scored the lone goal, beating Miikka Kiprusoff at 25 seconds of the extra period. Kiprusoff finished with 21 saves.

The Devils won after a Calgary turnover deep in the New Jersey end.

Calgary defenseman Cory Sarich dropped the puck back to Craig Conroy, who mishandled the pass and was stripped by Elias. Elias moved the puck ahead to Brian Gionta, then raced up to join Gionta on a 2-on-1.

Gionta crossed the blue line and slid the puck back across to Elias. With Sarich and Conroy desperately trying to catch him, Elias one-timed the pass into the open side before Kiprusoff could slide across.

With the victory, New Jersey improved to 20-13-3 and into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference behind Ottawa.

I consider New Jersey one of the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, and much of the reason why is Brodeur. He is an all-time great and still an exceptional goalie. Florida beat him earlier this year, but the Panthers were just lucky to get Brodeur on an off night.

Brodeur has only 3 shutouts this year, however if he gets back on his normal pace, he would break the all-time record for goalies late in the 2008-09 season.


Former NY Yankee pitcher Tommy Byrne dead at 87

He did two tours with the Casey Stengel Yankees starting in 1949. Casey never had a set rotation or lineup. Rather he was always moving pitchers around, if not from the starting rotation to the bullpen, or the Yankees to Kansas City, Stengel liked to match certain pitchers against certain AL teams. Pitchers Whitey Ford, Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat seeing usually the AL’s best other than NY. Guys like Byrne, Don Larsen, Art Ditmar and others facing the 2nd division. Still Tommy was a vital cog of 3 World Championship teams, appeared in 4 post seasons, won 85 games, and swung a pretty good bat for a pitcher. As seen by his lifetime Batting average of .238, .350 OBP and 8 career homeruns. RIP.

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) — Tommy Byrne, who fulfilled a boyhood dream by pitching for the New York Yankees and won a game during the 1955 World Series, has died. He was 87.

Byrne, who served two terms as Wake Forest mayor, died Thursday, his son John said Saturday. Tommy Byrne had congestive heart failure and was in declining health the last six weeks. He was surrounded by his family and priest when he died, his son added.

After two years at what was then Wake Forest College, Byrne signed with the Yankees in 1940. In his rookie year of 1943, he played in 11 games and had a 2-1 record.

Byrne eventually was traded to the St. Louis Browns and also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and the Washington Senators. He returned to the Yankees in 1954, and in 1955 pitched a complete-game victory in Game 2 of the World Series. But he was the loser in Game 7, 2-0 to Johnny Podres and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“His lifetime dream was to pitch for the New York Yankees,” said John Byrne, who is mayor of Fuquay-Varina. He said that dream grew from the fact that his father was born in Baltimore, home of Babe Ruth. The two eventually met when Ruth appeared at an old-timers game at Yankee Stadium.

“He borrowed my father’s glove,” John Byrne said. “Daddy said he could have had anything he had in his locker.”

The glove is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, displayed as the last glove Ruth used at Yankee Stadium.

Byrne served eight years as a town commissioner starting in 1968 and became mayor in 1975. He served a second term as mayor in the 1980s but failed in at least three attempts to become a county commissioner.

“My father always believed in helping people and serving,” John Byrne said. “In growing up, I got to see him do a lot of good things. You have role models as you pass through life. He was certainly one of mine.”

Besides John Byrne and his wife, Tommy Byrne is survived by two other sons, Thomas J. Byrne Jr. and Charles P. Byrne; a daughter, Susan Byrne Gantt; 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.


Weekly Miami Dolphins prediction

The 1-13 Dolphins play at the 14-0 New England Patriots. Why am I bothering to predict what has to be a certain blowout. I guess I need something to do now. That and point out the fact, Miami has split the season series with the Patriots every year from 2004-06. Two of those saw a heavy underdog Miami beat New England.

Are you saying Miami will win today? No, but I’m saying New England can’t take this game for granted. I think it will be closer than the 49-28 rout(NE went up 42-7 at half and then basically turned on the cruise control) in October. My prediction- New England 31, Miami 13.


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