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Sports’ biggest dummies in 2008

Web site made a mess of Tyson Gay’s victory on track. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Web site made a mess of Tyson Gay’s victory on track. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

As we say each year at this time, television has its Emmys, music has its Grammys and sports has its dummies.

There were the obvious ones this year: John Daly, O.J. Simpson, Pacman Jones, Terrell Owens, Sean Avery, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Plaxico Burress, Isiah Thomas. In some cases, too obvious. In other cases, too pathetic.

These are our dummies for 2008:

This item is NOT brought to you by Ben-Gay: The American Family Association is a Christian organization with a Web site called It filters out the word “gay” in online reports and replaces it with “homosexual.” That sort of editing doesn’t usually get much attention. Those who might be offended aren’t likely to frequent the site. But it did create a stir when U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.

The Associated Press story, as reported on, read: “Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.

“His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn’t count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here’s what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games and served notice he’s certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

“It means a lot to me,” the 25-year-old Homosexual said.

Now they call him Tatum Bellhop: Denver’s Tatum Bell is a good running back. But beware. He comes with baggage, not necessarily his own. A day after he was released by the Detroit Lions and replaced by Rudi Johnson, Bell was caught on a hidden camera removing two Gucci bags from the team’s training facility. They belonged to – who else? – Rudi Johnson. After initially denying he touched the bags, which were filled with Johnson’s clothes, Bell said it was an honest mistake. Johnson was reportedly “miffed.”

What do you mean Brits don’t have swimming pools?: One of the more unexpected feuds to emerge at the Beijing Olympics was the one between Commonwealth allies Australia and Great Britain. When Rebecca Addington of Great Britain won the 400-meter freestyle in swimming, Australia’s Olympic Committee President, John Coates, said, “It’s not bad for a country that has no swimming pools and very little soap.”


The war of words started before the Games. Andy Burnham, Great Britain’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said, “Old rivals like Australia … are saying they are in danger of falling behind Team GB in the medal table.” That provoked this response from Kate Ellis, Australia’s minister for sport: “British sportsmen and women in the past have been known to choke under the pressure when up against the Aussies.”

Remember when everyone just hated the French?

When the alma mater asks for a contribution, it doesn’t mean this: Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter is so prone to collecting penalties, he even picked up a 15-yarder for his alma mater this season. The former Colorado State star was in the end zone watching the Rams play Brigham Young. When Colorado State running back Gartrell Johnson scored the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, Porter charged into the end zone and gave him a flying chest bump.

The Rams drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Although that flag didn’t factor in the outcome, Colorado State lost.

Say what?: Who’s more deserving of the booby prize than Sean Avery? He was suspended indefinitely by the NHL for crude remarks he made about a rival player who was dating one of Avery’s ex-girlfriends – this after promising his coach he wouldn’t talk to the media. Avery won’t be taken back by the Dallas Stars, who gave him a four-year, $15.5-million contract last summer.

Knocked out on the sidelines: Floyd Mayweather Jr. invoked that old boxing ploy in June by announcing his “retirement” and canceling a scheduled rematch with Oscar De La Hoya. Their first meeting was the most lucrative boxing event in history. So, while on the sidelines, resting at his Las Vegas home and getting victimized by a jewelry heist, Mayweather stood out as the biggest loser when Manny Pacquiao battered the “Golden Boy” on Dec. 6. Mayweather couldn’t have been bothered to accept those millions? Against a fading star? Better than the pay-per-view of De La Hoya-Pacquiao would’ve been to be a fly on the wall watching Mayweather’s response to that one-sided outcome.

Satire of what?: In Texas, Nacogdoches High School cheerleaders split into two groups for a football pep rally skit. One half of them dressed in their regular Nacogdoches Dragons costumes, while the other half dressed as rival cheerleaders. The regular cheerleaders then forced the “rivals” to kneel and executed them with toy guns. It was all in good fun, the school principal said. He described it as “simple, innocent satire.”

They didn’t have a “Clue”: UCLA’s athletic marketing department started the football season with an advertisement claiming “the college football monopoly in Los Angeles is over.” It included a photo of new coach Rick Neuheisel pointing his finger threateningly, as if calling out USC’s Pete Carroll. A few weeks later, the same marketing department ran newspaper and radio spots in Fresno appealing to Fresno State fans to come to the Bulldogs’ game at the Rose Bowl against UCLA “so you can say, ‘I was there.’ ” Presumably for a Fresno State victory over the Bruins.

After that, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said the marketing department would take a different approach.

“I’m not throwing anyone under the bus … but some things work and some things don’t,” he said.

Is this another Sarah Palin joke?: No. It’s not her fault that the Philadelphia Flyers invited her to drop the puck and proceeded to lose six games in a row. It’s not her fault, either, that the St. Louis Blues invited her to drop the puck at one of their games, rolled out a red carpet for her and then watched helplessly as their goalie, Manny Legace, tripped over it, injuring his hip. The Blues lost six of their next seven.

Legace didn’t blame Palin. “She’s been pretty good for our game,” he said. “I’m starting to like her more and more. No grudge.”

The 2008 award for racial sensitivity goes to …: The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman seemed like a slam dunk winner when she suggested on the air that other PGA players could contain Tiger Woods if they would just “lynch him in a back alley.” But she was quickly trumped by Golfweek magazine, which reacted to her comments by putting a photo of a noose on its cover. “Caught in a Noose, Tilghman slips up, and Golf Channel can’t wriggle free,” the headline read. The magazine lost advertising. The editor lost his job. Tilghman is still talking on the air, though with somewhat more caution.

Drum Roll … Ultimate Dummies of the Year: Us: Not all of us, or, specifically, you, but a lot of people, including some smart ones at CBS, bought big-time into the Kimbo Slice hype. (If you don’t know Kimbo Slice, you are spared the humiliation of this award and even possibly have a life.) In his second prime-time, main-event mixed martial arts fight, Slice was beaten in a mere 14 seconds by a last-minute replacement named Seth Petruzelli. Petruzelli later said that the promoters from Elite XC told him to take it easy on Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson.

He said they “gave me money to stand and trade with him,” figuring that Slice fights better upright than when on his back. Petruzelli retracted that statement a day later. The Florida State Boxing Commission investigated and found no wrongdoing. Elite XC went out of business.