Friday, December 28, 2007

Shaq Demands Pat Riley Trade Himself For Phil Jackson

Miami, FL (Dec. 28) - Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, frustrated by the team's awful start, has issued a trade demand: coach Pat Riley for coach Phil Jackson.

"It's just not working," O'Neal said to reporters gathered beneath him after yesterday's practice. "Normally, I'd demand a trade for myself -- but I like Miami. I'm a beach kind of guy.

"So the way I see it, y'all might as well trade the coach. You can't trade the players."

O'Neal, according to sources, has told Heat officials that the team has two weeks in which to broker a Riley-for-Jackson deal. If it doesn't happen in the prescribed time, then O'Neal says he'll step in and mediate negotiations.

"It's GOING to happen," a friend of O'Neal said. "Shaq will make sure of it."

"Look, I think y'all can see that we pretty much suck," Shaq said. "Coach Jackson can get us out of this funk. I have complete confidence in Phil. I look forward to working with him again."

With that, O'Neal walked up to Riley, who was also addressing reporters, and clapped him on the back.

"I'll text you later," O'Neal told Riley before leaving with his posse.

Riley nodded and said, "I think a deal is imminent. You can see the writing on the wall. Something's up," he added. "It looks like it's going to be me."

Jackson's representative, agent Mark Hampshire, said thru a spokesman, "Phil is coach of the Lakers until further notice. That won't ever change -- until 10 a.m. Monday, possibly. Maybe. We'll see."

The Lakers and Heat have scheduled a press conference for 10 o'clock Monday morning.

"Nothing to say until then," Lakers spokesman John Black said. When pressed, Black added, "Talk to Diesel," a reference to O'Neal.

It was clear yesterday that O'Neal is spearheading the trade talks, and friends say he is working "tirelessly around the clock" to get a deal done soon.

"Shaq hates losing. HATES it," a friend said. "He sees the Riley trade as the only hope to salvage this season. Stay tuned."

League sources say that O'Neal has gone so far as to let every team know that Riley is available.

"He's been shopping him (Riley), definitely," one GM said.

O'Neal added that he would be unavailable for comment over the weekend while he "hammers things out."

Meanwhile, Riley said, "Until Shaq tells me otherwise, I'm the coach -- AND president -- of the Miami Heat. What else can I say?"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Local Fan Still Seeking Expressed, Written Consent From Major League Baseball To View Game He Taped Last August

"I just want to find out how the Brewers won," he says

Milwaukee, WI (Dec. 26) - After over four months of waiting, area Brewers fan Martin Van Huesen says he is still waiting for the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball so that he can view a game he taped on August 14th.

"I just want to find out how the Brewers won," Van Huesen told reporters yesterday. "I mean, I already know they beat the Padres, but the Brewers were down 6-1 in the eighth inning.

"Wouldn't you be curious as to how they won it?," Van Heusen asked rhetorically.

Details of the Brewers' big comeback against the Padres have been coming to Van Heusen in bits and pieces, and he just wants to view the last two innings for himself.

"I had a tape in the machine and went out to Taco Bell," Van Heusen explained, recalling that fateful night. "The Brewers were down 6-1, but I thought, 'What the hell?' So I hit 'record' and left."

Van Heusen then decided to enjoy his Burrito Supreme and Baja Beef Chalupa inside the restaurant, instead of his more traditional drive-thru experience.

"There didn't appear to be a big rush to get back to the game," he said. "So I took my time and ate. Usually I wolf that fast food stuff down like someone's going to take it away from me."

It was that decision -- the decision to eat inside Taco Bell rather than take the food home and consume it -- that cost Van Heusen the chance to watch the Brewers score three times in the bottom of the 8th and three more times in the bottom of the 9th, live. But once he got home and saw on the ESPN News ticker that his beloved Brewers won, Van Heusen decided to rewind the tape. But his conscience got the best of him.

"I've heard that damn disclaimer a million times in my life," Van Heusen said of MLB's warning that any tape shown or rebroadcast of the game without the expressed, written consent of MLB
is strictly prohibited. "And I just couldn't get it out of my head."

Brewers fan Martin Van Heusen, who's still waiting to see for himself how the Brewers rallied to beat the Padres last August

So before hitting the 'play' button on his VCR, Van Heusen sought to go thru the proper channels in order to watch his videotape. But that decision, like the one he made to eat at Taco Bell, would also come back to haunt him.

"I sent an e-mail to MLB offices in New York," he said. "And ever since then I've been getting the runaround."

Van Heusen said that on several occasions he's been told that the forms he needs to fill out to seek the expressed, written consent of MLB would be sent to him. However, on every occasion, the papers have failed to arrive.

"Finally, after about the fourth time being told this, I called MLB and complained. Some sort of manager got on the line and told me I was being rude and that I would have to re-apply. That added a few more weeks to the process."

In late October -- more than two months after the game -- Van Heusen received a certified letter that said he would not only have to ask MLB for permission to view the tape, but also the Brewers themselves.

"Why couldn't they have just told me that from the get go?," Van Heusen wondered aloud to reporters.

It took another three weeks to gain the Brewers' consent.

"They were like, 'Sure, whatever.' I think they thought the whole idea of me asking was pretty lame," Van Heusen recalled.

But as of Christmas Day, MLB has still yet to grant Van Heusen permission to watch the last two innings on his VCR.

Has he thought of just watching the tape anyway?

"Well, sure, but then that's against the law," he said to the question. "Why would I put my being incarcerated at risk after I've come this far?"

Broadcasting law expert Edward Murphy says that Van Heusen is doing the right thing.

"Absolutely," Murphy said via telephone. "It's always best to play it safe. Martin, at this point, would be foolish to risk anything after he's waited this long. Expressed, written consent can get caught up in the sea of red tape. It's like applying for a passport."

Though frustrated, Van Heusen isn't giving up hope that someday he'll be able to watch the Brewers' rally to beat the Padres on August 14.

"I searched YouTube and they have it," Van Heusen said. "But I won't watch it. That's the Internet -- a whole new can of worms for me. No thanks."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Knicks Ink Deal With Spike TV To Become New Reality Show

New York, NY (Dec. 22) - The dysfunctional, losing, squabbling New York Knicks will use their internal mess to their financial advantage after signing a multi-million dollar deal with Spike TV to become the channel's newest reality show.

The Knicks will begin airing on Spike TV beginning on January 2 under their new name, "Knick Knacks", which will chronicle their struggles and strife in what Spike TV officials are calling an "in your face, no-holds barred" look at one of the NBA's worst teams.

"This will be Spike TV at its best," said the channel's spokesman, Barry Hunter. "We'll bring our viewers right into the eye of the Knicks' storm on a nightly basis."

"Knick Knacks" will air every night at 10pm, and will be barely-edited looks at the team that day.

"We'll be at practice, in the players' cars, in their locker room, everywhere," Hunter said. "Our microphones and cameras will never be at rest. So we're sure to capture every blowup, every backstabbing move, every blatant disregard for coach Isiah Thomas's direction. It'll all be on 'Knick Knacks,' every night.

"We're very excited," Hunter added.

According to sources, in exchange for the millions of dollars the Knicks will receive in becoming a reality show, the team must not try to improve its tenuous status.

"This show only works if the Knicks are in disarray," industry analyst Joseph Coleman said. "So Spike TV was smart in writing a clause that mandates that the team remain a mess -- at least until the end of the season."

Knicks spokesman Alan Myers doesn't think that will be an issue.

"It's unlikely things will improve, no matter how hard we try," Myers said. "So it was easy to agree to that clause."

Another source said that the contract with Spike TV ensures that Thomas will remain as coach, despite howls from fans to have him fired.

"Oh yes, that was non-negotiable for us," Hunter said. "If Thomas is gone, then let's face it -- we don't have much of a show."

Hunter spoke with glee about Thomas's latest blowup, this one with player Quentin Richardson in Friday night's loss to Charlotte.

"Awesome stuff," Hunter said. "I just saw the footage. Wait till you see how we feature it in episode number one."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Book: Buckner's Hatred For Red Sox Fans Led To '86 Error

New tell-all book blows the lid off the 1986 World Series

Dennis, MA (Dec. 20) - The sleepy Cape Cod town of Dennis, Mass. has been thrown into the spotlight in the wake of the soon-to-be-released, explosive, tell-all book that reveals why Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner allowed the ball to go between his legs, costing his team Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and ultimately the series itself.

"Buckner hated the Red Sox fans," author Marty Habner said in an interview yesterday to promote his new book, Billy Buck Rhymes With F**K: The REAL Story Of The 1986 World Series.

According to Habner's exclusive interviews with Buckner, conducted only after falsely telling the former player that they wouldn't be published until after his death, Buckner launched into an expletive-laced tirade while discussing the fickle, sometimes mean-spirited nature of frustrated Red Sox fans.

"Buckner said that Boston 'didn't deserve' a championship," Habner said. "In fact, the more he talked about those fans, the more incensed he got. There were a few times I was actually afraid for my own safety," Habner added, saying that Buckner would get this "crazed, glassy look in his eyes," and sometimes spoke while fondling a recently-sharpened six-inch knife used for gutting deer.

But what really shocked Habner was Buckner's admission, which will almost certainly rock the baseball world and, Habner hopes, sell a sick amount of books.

"He said he did it on purpose," Habner said of the famous error in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6, when Buckner allowed Mookie Wilson's dribbler to elude him, scoring Ray Knight and completing an improbable, three-run rally with two outs to win the game, 6-5.

Habner said that Buckner stewed at first base in the bottom of the 10th, when the Red Sox got the first two men out and were one strike away from their first world championship in 68 years.

"He told me that it was all he could do in the top of the 10th not to go after Dave Henderson," Habner said, referring to Henderson's home run that put the Red Sox in front, 4-3. "To this day, Buckner says he doesn't speak to Henderson. 'He almost cost us costing us the World Series,' was how he put it," Habner said.

Habner's book will be released on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crusty, Proud '72 Dolphins Challenge Patriots To "Loser Leave Town" Match

Miami, FL (Dec. 18) - Caustic, feisty members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins perfect 17-0 team have challenged the New England Patriots to a Pay-Per-View football television event, in which the loser will have to leave town.

"They think they've accomplished something?," said former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg of the 2007 Patriots, who are the second team to start a season 14-0. "Well, the road to perfection goes through us," he added, just before having to stop the discussion due to a coughing fit.

Kuechenberg, QB Bob Griese, RB Larry Csonka, and other members of the '72 Dolphins, according to the challenge, will play the Patriots on January 6, 2008 -- which would normally be the Pats' bye week in the playoffs. The event will be beamed into homes across the country via PPV at $39.95 per buy.

"I'm sick of that Tom Brady," said former DE Vern den Herder of the Patriots QB. "I'd like to wipe that All-American smile off his gay ass face."

den Herder and other members of the defense, like MLB Nick Buoniconti and LB Bob Matheson, have been working out for weeks, in secret, in preparation for the January 6 tilt.

"The time for talk is over," Matheson said. "Now all that's left is to get it on on the football field."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick accepted the challenge.

"Yeah, what the hell?," Belichick told reporters yesterday in Foxboro, MA. "I have great respect for the 1972 Dolphins. To be honest, we've been studying film on them for a few weeks now. Some of the film broke in the projector because it's so old, but we think we have enough where we can devise a game plan."

Belichick said that the Dolphins' ground game concerns him, led by the 63-year-old Csonka on the inside and 62-year-old Mercury Morris bouncing outside.

63-year-old FB Csonka takes time out from training in Alaska for the January 6, 2008 "loser leave town" grudge match against the New England Patriots

"And don' forget about Jim Kiick," Belichick added, referring to the 60-year-old third back.

Griese, 60, said his doctors have given him the "all clear" to begin a rigorous training regimen, and that he hopes to "make everyone forget the rough season my son, Brian, is experiencing in Chicago."

Dolphins coach Don Shula, 72, will come out of retirement as well to lead his old charges.

"Can't talk. Studying film now," Shula said via phone when reached at home.

Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi is wary of the '72 Dolphins, despite their advanced ages.

"Man, they're wily," Bruschi said after practice yesterday. "They probably have forgotten more football than we even know. Of course, maybe they've forgotten a lot simply because they're old. Regardless, it won't be an easy game."

The game will be played at the Pro Football Hall of Fame field in Canton, Ohio at 2:00 p.m. on January 6.

According to the agreement, the loser of the game will have to "leave town" -- meaning the losing ballclub has about two hours after the end of the game to make arrangements to leave Canton.

Some cynical NFL observers, noting the lack of much to do in Canton, have noted that it probably won't take much urging to get the winner to leave town, either.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Striking B-List Former Athletes Threaten To Cripple ESPN News

Network may be forced to use names that viewers have actually heard of as in-studio analysts

Bristol, CT (Dec. 16) -- A sudden and widespread strike by B-list former athletes is forcing executives at ESPN News to scramble in finding suitable replacements that no one has ever heard of.

The B-listers, who form the pool from which ESPN News plucks its in-studio analysts, walked off at 10:30 yesterday morning, seeking better benefits and wanting even more assurances that their anonymity will not be threatened by "consistent airing of our likeness on ESPN's broadcast air."

Spokesman and analyst Michael Honsbee, whose NFL career consisted of being the next-to-last cut by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998 and who now serves as ESPN News' NFL Insider during the 2am-4am shift, said the wildcat strike could "go on for days."

"We are very protective of our B-list, no-name status," Honsbee said, flanked at a press conference by fellow ESPN News analysts Pokey Mitchell (NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves, 10 games, 2002) and Marcel Gauthier (NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs, 4 games, 2001) -- neither of whom reporters gathered at the conference seemed to recognize, delighting Honsbee. "So we're prepared to take this regrettable action, in order to ensure it," Honsbee added of the far-from-household name status that the B-listers so fervently guard.

Television expert Matthew DeGroat, of the watchdog group People for Ethical Television Analysts (or PETA, The TV Version), says that the striking analysts better be careful.

ESPN News NASCAR analyst Jerry Thomas, who was a pit crew member for Jeff Gordon for three races in 1998

"Currently, there is no small supply of former professional athletes who viewers have never heard of," DeGroat warned. "So the B-listers better not be too smug or get too comfortable. Or else ESPN will have a field day replacing them with equally as unknown ex-athletes."

ESPN News, in a statement, called the strike "unfortunate and poorly-timed".

"In this day and age of information gathering, Americans want their previews of the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers game from a trusty, unknown source such as (former Raptors center) Igor Haval," the statement said of Haval, a Cleveland Cavalier and Toronto Raptor for 24 games in 2000-01. "And we here at ESPN News are committed to providing that," the statement went on, adding in a not-so-subtle manner that if need be, ESPN News will not hesitate to "look elsewhere" for a new, fresh crop of fringe ex-athletes.

Former Mets catcher Rich Meese, who was called up by the team for 11 games in 2000, sees opportunity in the current wildcat strike.

"This might be it," Meese said of the chance that may be coming his way in light of the strike. "I hear Wednesday's baseball discussion might have an opening after the West Coast games air," Meese said, adding that he's already sent an audition tape to the network that was shot by his brother-in-law.

Meese is glad that he appears to have what ESPN News likes in a baseball in-studio analyst: a brief, nondescript career in MLB, an easy to pronounce name for the anchors, and an articulate way of talking about the game in a manner that makes viewers think he actually was accomplished as a big leaguer.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchell Report To Name 8 to 10 Million Fans In Doping Scandal

Washington, DC (Dec. 13) - The much-anticipated report gathered by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell investigating Major League Baseball's problem with performance-enhancing drugs has taken a surprise twist, those close to the report say.

Mitchell's report is expected to publicly name 8 to 10 million baseball fans as "either previous or current abusers of performance-enhancing substances," a source says. The substances include, "but are not limited to": steroids, beer, caffeine, candy bars, hot dogs, soda pop (NOT diet), silicon, and Viagra.

Cubs fan Kelly Fortinato, expected to be named in Mitchell's report for silicon abuse

The outing of fans is expected to rock baseball, since many thought Mitchell's report would be targeting players. According to sources, "some" players will be identified, but Mitchell's investigation took an unexpected turn when his team discovered "rampant" use of the aforementioned substances in and around MLB ballparks over the last five or six years by the game's paying public.

"It saddens me to have to name this many names," Mitchell will say in a soon-to-be-released statement, according to the sources. "But Major League Baseball cannot and will not tolerate the ingestion of so many substances by its fans.

"Baseball players deserve ethical, clean fans who aren't engaging in doping practices," Mitchell continues.

One of the fans suspected of being named in Mitchell's report, 38-year-old factory worker Brett Hinson of Kansas City, MO, said thru a spokesman, "I will not comment on Senator Mitchell's report until I see it for myself. But I can tell you that a few hot dogs and sodas don't make me a bad person -- or a cheating fan."

The report is set to be released publicly today.

Another potential target, sales manager and Cubs fan Jerry Zubor of Arlington Heights, Illinois, told reporters gathered outside his home, "What can I say? It's a witch hunt. If he names me, then I got a whole lot of my friends that I can name, too. I ain't goin' down alone, bro."

Zubor, according to friends, is likely to be named for his propensity to take No-Doz while watching the Cubs on the West Coast.

Gary Sheffield of the Detroit Tigers, another likely Mitchell target, expressed surprise but not shock over the report's alleged findings.

"I always had a feeling some of the fans were on the juice," Sheffield said. "Especially when I played in New York," the former Yankee and current Detroit Tiger said. "All I can say is, you do the dope, you can't mope."

Donald Fehr, chief rep of the MLB Players Association, said, "If these millions of fans are on something, then let's get them out in the open and clear the way for clean fans. The least these fans can do when they spend $240 to take their families to the ballparks to watch guys making $15 million a year is do so with a clean urine sample," Fehr added.

Monday, December 10, 2007

NBA's Eastern Conference To Return To Developmental League For Three-Week Developmental Stint

New York, NY (Dec. 10) - The NBA's Eastern Conference teams, only four of which are over .500, will return to the affiliated Developmental League for three weeks of grueling, intense development.

"It's just not working out," said NBA spokesman James Tanner. "We've given it about a month and 20 games for each team, and, well, need I say more?"

Tanner said that the 5-15 Miami Heat, the 7-12 Charlotte Bobcats, and the 6-13 New York Knicks will be the first three teams to join the D-League -- tomorrow -- and that the 6-12 Chicago Bulls, the 7-13 Philadelphia 76ers, and the 9-12 New Jersey Nets will follow later in the week.

"They'll get some good fundamental work thru the fine clinics they put on down there," Tanner said of the D-League's much-heralded basketball teachers. Tanner added that all players attending the clinics will get free lunch and a t-shirt for participating.

The four decent teams in the Eastern Conference (Detroit, Boston, Orlando, and Toronto) will go down, too, but will function as clinic instructors.

"Maybe someone like (Bobcats point guard) Raymond Felton can learn a thing or two from (Pistons point guard) Chauncey Billups," Tanner explained. "Regardless, the goal is to make the Eastern Conference teams more competitive. Because, right now, they're pretty sucky."

Tanner added that once their stint in the D-League is over with, the league will re-evaluate the teams "in about another month" to see "where they're at." Then, the decision will be made whether to allow them to continue playing in the NBA for the rest of the season, or return to the D-League until next fall.

A member of Knicks guard Stephon Marbury's crew protests the NBA's decision to send the Knicks to the Developmental League

"You just gotta swallow your pride and do it," said Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal. "I just hope they have a t-shirt in my size."

"I told them that this could happen, but they didn't listen to me," said Heat coach Pat Riley. "I kept warning them, 'Do you want to go down to the Developmental League?' But they just wanted to do their own thing their way. Well, I don't feel sorry for them. Maybe now they'll listen to me when I give them some pick-and-roll advice."

Sources say many players are worried about making it on the D-League's daily stipend of $22, and about the league's moratorium on posses, entourages, crews, and peeps.

Colby "C-Man" Festoff, a member of Knicks guard Stephon Marbury's "crew", voiced his concern for "my man Stephon."

"Y'all don't know what y'all doin'," Festoff told reporters, speaking to the NBA. "You take my man away from his crew for three weeks? Don't y'all be surprised if my man busts up a drive-thru or somethin'. Don't y'all come cryin' to me when my man is holed up in a Wendy's with a tire iron and a night manager," Festoff added.

Tanner said that the NBA will continue to function as a Western Conference-only league until the first week of January 2008.

"Those are the best teams anyway," Tanner said. "Besides, with the holidays and everything going on, we doubt very much that the Eastern squads will be missed all that much."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Area Man Sees Michigan Football Coaching Job On, Eagerly Awaits Interview

Is Buoyed By Rejections by Miles, Schiano

Ann Arbor, MI (Dec. 7) - Local resident and unemployed data entry clerk Jeremy Robbins is encouraged by the recent rejections by Les Miles and Greg Schiano of the University of Michigan coaching job, which he applied for on the Internet job search engine

"Hey, the less competition the better," Robbins said after hearing of the "NOs" given by LSU coach Miles and Rutgers coach Schiano this week. "I submitted my resume and cover letter on Monday. I then received confirmation that I applied, which I saved into a folder I created called 'Job Search', " Robbins told reporters.

Robbins, 26, who admits his candidacy is "light" on football coaching experience, nonetheless considers that his chances "just got a whole lot better" now that once-proud Michigan has been turned down by two big-name coaches.

"The way I figure it, they (U-M) might want to end the embarrassment and just settle for someone cheaper and who's likely to say yes," Robbins theorized.

Robbins, whose football experience includes a year on junior varsity at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and "significant" flag football in intramurals, listed as his coaching experience "calling plays" for his Strat-o-Matic tabletop football league, of which he's the "coach" of the 1997 Indianapolis Colts.

U-M coaching candidate Jeremy Robbins

"But mainly I watch a lot of football and can tell you, pretty much, what's going to happen at any given time," Robbins says.

Friends and associates aren't quick to dismiss Robbins's candidacy. In fact, some think he might be a good fit for the legendary school.

"Really? He did?," friend Brian Conacher said when told of Robbins's mouse click, which sent his resume and cover letter to the e-mail "in" box of U-M Athletic Director Bill Martin, via's server. "Well good for him. Jeremy's got a more wide-open offensive philosophy than (retiring coach) Lloyd Carr. I think Michigan needs more excitement. Jeremy provides that."

Fellow Strat-o-Matic leaguer Aaron Hawkins echoed Conacher's endorsement.

"If nothing else, Jeremy puts his all into everything," Hawkins said. "I can definitely see him working 70, 80 hours a week -- sleeping in the office, the whole nine yards."

Another friend, Skip Hinton, said Robbins would run a program that would be "clean as a whistle."

"Michigan would have no worries with Jeremy," Hinton said. "No recruitment violations. The worse thing he might do would be maybe play too much Madden on Playstation with a recruit, and lose track of time."

Robbins worked as a data entry clerk for an Ann Arbor publishing company for two years, before a slow-down in business led to his layoff in April.

"Man, you don't know how many resumes I've put out there," he said. "Time to think outside the box a bit."

College football observers were mildly surprised, but not shocked, that the Michigan job ended up on

"After their no. 1 candidate, Miles, turned them down, I suspect Michigan wanted to cover all bases," said analyst Lee Corso. "What better way to attract 'diamonds in the rough' than with an Internet posting?"

Sources close to the search say that as of Thursday, the university had received over 200 applications from the posting. That doesn't discourage Robbins.

"My cousin, who's a writer, helped me with my cover letter," Robbins said. "And my sister helped me with the resume. She really made me look better than I am. But what the hell? Everyone does it."

Robbins said if Michigan doesn't call, he "has tons more applications out there." But, he added, "I'm local, I'll work cheap, and does Michigan really want to get rejected again?"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Testaverde Charms Carolina Banquet Audience With Stories Of Red Grange, George Halas As A Water Boy

Greensboro, NC (Dec. 6) - Carolina Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the oldest player in the NFL, delighted an audience of seniors with his recollections of legendary football greats such as Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, and a teenaged George Halas.

Testaverde, speaking at the annual "Life Begins At 70" luncheon banquet in Greensboro, charmed the audience of over 300 with his personal accounts.

"It really took me back," sighed attendee Virgil Huggins, 88. "Vinny's stories of how he and Grange used to try to throw the pigskin through an old tire were wonderful. I'm so proud that the's the Panthers' quarterback."

Added fellow attendee Erskine Tubbs, 84: "I especially liked how Vinny would poke fun at himself when he was a wide-eyed youth hanging around with Halas when Halas was a Bears water boy. Classic stuff."

A then-48-year-old Testaverde celebrates a win with Jimmy Johnson in the QB's college days, circa 1966

Testaverde, signed earlier this season after injuries depleted the Panthers' QB ranks, led Carolina to its first home win last Sunday. And he used that win to draw an analogy.

"That win (on Sunday) reminded me of something Nagurski (Bears running back in the 1930s) told me before he was set to play the Canton Bulldogs in 1933: 'We're due', " Testaverde said to chuckles and polite applause.

Testaverde's speech was interrupted six times by applause, four times by violent coughing from luncheon attendees, and twice by paramedics.

"I think it's terrific that the NFL has a guy of Vinny's sense of history," said luncheon organizer Betty Phillips, 73. "When he told the crowd of how he first decided to become a football player after watching Grange play at Illinois, well, you could have heard a pin drop. That is, if Charley (Davis, an attendee) hadn't had his coughing fit."

Testaverde told of how his desire to be an NFL quarterback came from watching the league grow from its infancy.

"They needed fellas who could throw the ball," Testaverde said. "The forward pass was just coming to the forefront in the pro game. So I kind of jumped in one day at practice.

"The rest, as they, is history."

Testaverde further impressed the crowd by informing them that he would stay to sign their prescription pill bottles, and pose for photos -- though he showed his age in doing so.

"Who wants an autographed daguerrotype?," Testaverde said.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Canadiens Regain Power In NHL After Bloodless Coup

Seize Stanley Cup After 15-Year Exile

New York, NY (Dec. 3) - The Montreal Canadiens, that tradition-rich hockey franchise, returned from a 15-year exile and reclaimed the Stanley Cup in a bloodless, swift coup yesterday at league offices.

"Le Cup du Stanley est avec les Habitants!," shouted defenseman Mathieu Dandenault as he held aloft hockey's Holy Grail inside the office of commissioner Gary Bettman, which was seized by Dandenault and his teammates, who were dressed as the 1965 Canadiens for effect, yesterday around 1:45 P.M.

The Montreal Canadiens, disguised as the 1965 champions, pose with their newly seized Stanley Cup yesterday

The Canadiens, who last won the Cup in 1993, had been dormant for so long that many hockey observers figured they were either seceding their rights to the trophy and league supremacy, or were plotting a return to power. Obviously, yesterday's actions confirmed that it was the latter.

"We have the Stanley Cup. We hereby declare ourselves hockey's new power," forward Saku Koivu announced, speaking thru a megaphone to the bystanders below in Manhattan. "The most glorified trophy in all of sports is now where it deserves to be."

"The Montreal Canadiens stormed the league office at approximately 1:30 this afternoon," according to a statement released by the NHL. "They were heavily armed with hockey sticks and skate blades, but there was no violence. Mr. Bettman surrendered his office, and the Stanley Cup, about three minutes after their arrival."

"This confirms the chatter that I'd been hearing," said hockey analyst Bill Clement of the Versus Network. "We'd been getting intelligence that the Canadiens were plotting an overthrow and a return to their past glories."

The reigning Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks, also weren't injured in the coup.

"I'm fine," said captain Chris Pronger. "So is everyone else. We were practicing when we heard about it. " He then added, "Well, it (being Cup champs) was fun while it lasted. I think everyone suspected the Canadiens would rise again. It's been too long."

Yesterday's seizing of the Cup now gives the Canadiens franchise 27 championship trophies in their illustrious history.

After spending some time filling the Cup with beer and champagne and drinking from it, Koivu and his new championship teammates planned to return to Montreal for a parade, which will be held Tuesday afternoon.

Bettman was briefly detained by Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who held Bettman at arm's length by gripping the commissioner's forehead while Bettman flailed uselessly with his arms. Then he was hung on a coat hook by the back of his jacket before the players fled.