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If You Missed It, a Scorecard on Key NFL Player Deals

By Mike Duffy and Andrew Heitner
Sports Columnists

For those of you who are baffled about all the player transitions in the NFL this year, here is a scorecard listing the key players and their new teams: Pierce Holt (Atlanta), Craig "Ironhead" Heyward (Chicago), Houston Hoover (Cleveland), Rod "Montgomery" Bernstine (Denver), Bill Fralic (Detroit), Bill "No" Maas (Green Bay), Reggie "Vanna" White (Green Bay), Kirk Lowdermilk (Indianapolis), Jeff Hostetler (Raiders), Jim "Vince" McMahon (Minnesota), Ronnie "Parking" Lott (Jets), Gary Clark (Phoenix), and Tim "Old" McDonald (San Francisco)...

Besides being the odds-on favorite to win the NBA MVP contest this year, Charles Barkley is doing everything he can to prove his critics back in Philadelphia dead wrong. Sir Charles had been derided in the Cream Cheese City ever since he arrived from Auburn, after being left off of the 1984 Olympic team by Bobby Knight. 76er owner Harold Katz never wanted to pay him and publicly called him fat and self-centered. When Dr. J, Mo Cheeks, Mark Ivoronni, and the other Sixers from the glory days left, Barkley was left the only star on a terrible team. The "Round Mound of Rebound" complained that Katz and the front office were not committed to winning, and that if there were good players around him, he could lead them to a championship. The Philly press, however, put the blame for losing on Barkley (not, of course, on the "wisdom" of trading away Brad Dougherty and acquiring Jeff Ruland). Out in Phoenix, surrounded by great players like Kevin Johnson, Danny Ainge, and Dan Majerle, and with the commitment of owner Jerry Collangelo, Barkley is carrying a team with mediocre coaching and no real center to the best record in the NBA, while the prospects for the Broad Street Babies are as slim as Manute Bol's forearms...

The introduction of free agency into the NFL, if the owners can't keep it in check, looks like it will put pro football in the proverbial hole, much the same way it has done for baseball. Free agency seems like a fair, All-American system, and it is for most industries. After all, how many people would become engineers if, after four years at MIT, you couldn't choose the company you worked for and earned only however much that company was willing to pay you, or else not work as an engineer at all? However, pro sports are entertainment industries which rely on a whole league of teams (not one business by itself) to generate revenue. One of the factors killing major league baseball is that players don't stay with one team for very long, let alone a whole career. If the frantic movement of players throughout the league continues, fans soon won't be able to tell whether they are watching Reggie White, Danny White, or Billie "White Shoes" Johnson. Pro football also can not afford to pay the likes of Rickey Proehl $1.1 million per year or Pierce Holt $2 million. The Lords of the Gridiron should follow the lead of David Stern and the Lords of the Hardwood by imposing a salary cap on each of the teams and finding a way (that won't get overturned in court) of restricting the movement of big-name players (Michael, Dominique, and Patrick have all been with only one team). Just like the NBA, the NFL teams will always find creative ways around the cap, but it just may save the sport...

As the NHL season nears playoff time (get your office pool sheets in quickly), we offer our post-season Virgilio Awards and playoff predictions:

Israni Trophy (MVP)

1. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh

2. Adam Oates, Boston

3. Manon Rheaume, Atlanta (The world's only female professional goalie)

Williams Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

1. Teemu Selanne, Winnipeg

2. Soleil "Reduction?" Moon Frye, Los Angeles

3. We don't know anyone else

Buttafucco Trophy (Goaltender of the Year)

1. Eddie Belfour, Chicago

2. Tom Barrasso, Pittsburgh

3. Andy Moog, Boston

Because the first round of the Lord Stanley Cup playoffs are a joke (since only teams contending for the Race For Futility championship don't make it), we start our preview with send round action:

Wales Conference. Pittsburgh over New Jersey in five. The Devils should be happy that we gave them one game. Stevens, Francis, and Lemieux make easy doings out of these "Dan" Patrick divisional foes. Boston over Montreal in six. How sweet it is for the Bruin's as they secure a conference finals spot with a victory over the Habs in the House of Horrors. Moog and Ray Bourque lead the Bruins past Patrick Roy, Denis Savard, and the ladies at Chez Paris. Finals: Penguins in five. No stopping the fun in Marioland now.

Campbell Conference. Chicago over Detroit "Have you earned your" Red Wings in seven. Jeremy Roenick scores the series winner past a diving Tim Cheveldae. Once again, the folks in the second city can smell the Cup. Calgary over Vancouver in six. Flamers goalie, the crusty old Mike "Mount" Vernon, regains his old form to push Calgary past the Canucks. Finals: Chicago in five. The Blackhawks prepare to get pasted by the Penguins again.

Stanley Cup Finals. The people of the Steel City get their annual (and only) "Proud to live in Pittsburgh" reason to celebrate, as the Penguins bring home another Cup by sweeping the Hawks and are one title away from four straight. Pittsburgh should be forced to skate with five players next year in attempts to level the playing field, or at least put Bubby "Two B's, One Y" Brister in goal...

We conclude our Baseball preview with our Preseason Awards:

AL Cy Young. 1. Mike "Loggins and" Mussina, Baltimore. 2. Roger Clemens, Boston. 3. Jack "Planet of the Apes" McDowell, Chicago

AL MVP. 1. Frank "English Muffins" Thomas, Chicago. 2. Jose "Can You See" Canseco, Texas. 3. Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle.

AL Manager of the Year. 1. Hal McRae, Kansas City. 2. Johnny Oates, Baltimore. 3. Gene "3-Card" Lamonte, Chicago.

NL Cy Young. 1. Atlanta #1. 2. Atlanta #2. 3. Jose "Blame It On" Rijo.

NL MVP. 1. Larry "Sky" Walker, Montreal. 2. David "Halls of" Justice, Atlanta. 3. Barry Larkin, Cincinatti.

NL Manager of the Year. 1. Felipe Alou, Montreal. 2. Joe "Thrill of Vic" Torre, St. Louis. 3. Jim Leyland, Pittsburgh (by default).

Any NL East manager who has his team playing .500 ball in such a weak division (especially compared to the NL West) deserves the award.

Bonehead play of the week

To Seattle's Michael "Rage in a" Cage for his non-time out during Sunday's Lakers-Sonics game. With The Lakers up two and 11 seconds remaining in the contest, Cage rebounded a missed shot and pushed the ball up the floor, despite the fact that the Sonics had one time out left. Sam Perkins rushed a long-distance jumper, allowing the Lakers to secure the rebound and win the game.

You heard it here first

Now that it's official and the North Stars are moving to Dallas, look for the "Forever .500" Hartford Whalers to supplant the Stars in the Met Center next year...

Quote of the week

New York Mets' right fielder Bobby Bonilla supplants favorite local "sports writers" this week with this gem. Last week, Bonilla ripped Daily News writer Bob Klapisch for a book he wrote, The Worst Team Money Can Buy (he obviously did not spend any time with the Bosox), which was about the Mediocre Mets. When asked if he had read the book, Bonilla calmly replied "No, huh-uh, I haven't read it."

Race for futility

Mavericks: 8-67, Royals: 1-6

Dallas, eight losses from setting the NBA futility record, are 0-22 versus Midwest competition. Meanwhile, out in Kansas City, the Royals have yet to recover from being swept in the opening series by the Olde Towne Team as their win total is equal to the number of people who read Haider Hamoudi's column.

Where are they now?

From Chris Shutts '93 comes this list of Former MLB players: Dan Driessen, Mike Ivie, Joel Youngblood, Brett Hume, Steve Mura, Wayne Nordhagen, Lloyd Moseby, Luis Pujols, Tito Langstrum, Milt Wilcox, and Ron Gardenhier.

Trivia question of the week

What NHL franchise moved to the Meadowlands to become the New Jersey Devils? Send answers, comments, and reviews for Burt Reynolds' new "box" office smash, Cop and a Half, to sports@the-tech.

Answer to last week's question: The Kansas City Royals (the Blue Jays are second and the Royals are the only team above .500). Kudos's to Geno Torres '93, an 8-time winner, for being the only winner (see Rumblings)....

Rumblings from around the 'Tute

From Geno Torres '93: "Some baseball predictions from the Island: Rookie of the Year (NL): Wilfredo "Coco" Cordero; MVP (AL): Ruben "El Indio" Sierra; home run champ (AL): Juan "Igor" Gonzalez."

Alejandro Tapia '96 sent us the following: "When I came to MIT I was happy that there was a sports section in the newspaper and best of all "Trivia Question of the Week." At first I didn't answer any, because I don't know much about football. But when I sent my first answer, Larry Nance, first slam-dunk champion, my name was not among the people that got it right. I thought that maybe you didn't get my e-mail...Then last week I sent the answer to the question of the major's first rookie of the year, but again my name was not in the list of people that got it right. . . Maybe you receive my answers but you don't like to put my name in The Tech. . . The answer to this week's question should be the Toronto Blue Jays." Nope.