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One mean Badger

Wisconsin’s battering-ram running back Ron Dayne may not be a familiar name yet, but it’s apparently just a matter of time - despite an unspectacular day in a loss against Syracuse last weekend - if you talk to the opposition that has tried to stop him.

“There’s not a lot of coaching strategy against that one,” former Minnesota coach Jim Wacker said. “You just wipe the blood off your nose and try again.”

“It’s like trying to tackle a bowling ball,” Gophers cornerback Rodney Heath said.

“I’ve never tackled anyone like him except maybe a lineman who picked up a fumble,” Penn State defensive tackle Matt Fornadel said.

“It was like trying to stop a Mack truck with a pea shooter,” said Hawaii assistant coach Don Lindsey.

We get the gruesome picture.

Oh, yeah, a great American

Boxing promoter Don King - involved in a federal insurance-fraud trial at the time - was recently honored by New York City Council’s Black and Hispanic Caucus as a “cherished American celebrity.”

King was presented a proclamation in the wood-paneled Council chamber, steps from a portrait of George Washington and a statue of Thomas Jefferson.

Bronx Councilman Jose Rivera, chair of the 22-member caucus, said King had contributed to the city’s economic well-being through his boxing promotions. The proclamation declared Wednesday as “Don King Day” and said King “just gets better with age.”

When asked if King would make a good role model, Rivera said, “He is a self-made person and I think he’s done a wonderful job.”

A self-made man who started out as a numbers runner and who has done such a wonderful job of sliding out of a variety of legal entanglements through the years that he has earned the nickname of Teflon Don. The same man who has two killings in his past - one in self-defense for protecting his gambling house from a robber and one in which he beat a man to death for an unpaid debt. True to form, he was pardoned for that crime after going to prison for four years. Now he’s simply a sleazy promoter reviled by many in and out of the boxing game.

Speaker Peter Vallone, who presides over the 51-member Council, didn’t attend the ceremony.

Said Vallone’s spokesman, Michael Clendenin. “The members of the caucus can honor whomever they wish. That doesn’t mean the speaker shares their opinion on all issues.”

Or their pathetic lack of judgment.

It’s all in how you look at it

The $20,000 fine levied against Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski for breaking the jaw of Carolina Panthers quarterback Kerry Collins might be different, says Boston Globe columnist Ron Borges, if a different person had reviewed the case. He writes:

“(Gene) Washington … reviews such things and recommends whether a fine is necessary, so what would you expect from a once sure-handed and sleek wide receiver who spent as little time as possible running across the middle of the field?

“If the NFL had Dick Butkus to rule on these matters, he would have recommended that Romanowski get a $20,000 bonus. Guilt or innocence is all about perspective in such matters.”

The last word …

“The cup is better than Lenin!”

-Igor Khan, a Moscow citizen, after the Stanley Cup’s first trip to Russia.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo