HILL: Steve, margin of victory doesn't matter

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Randy Hill

Veteran columnist Randy Hill is a frequent contributor to
Steve Spurrier fired the first shot across the Good Ship NFL¿s bow by announcing that his Washington will be using the Stableford scoring system. But it still looks like the ol¿ Fun ¿N' Gun to me. Many Spurrier scholars think dragging this highfalutin offense into the NFL is as cheeky and compelling as suiting up Martha Stewart for the next Survivor. And while we¿re nursing Fun ¿N' Gun theory, I suppose the final score of Steve¿s first dress-rehearsal victory should be reported as 38-7. For the record, checking in with 7 were the Rope-A-Dope San Francisco .
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  • The event was billed as the ¿American Bowl,¿ and mustered mediocre interest in Osaka, Japan, where fans have accrued enough football savvy to know that ¿preseason¿ translates to ¿exhibition.¿ But Spurrier wasn¿t quite as hip to cultural translation. When he was informed that the very first play date of the NFL season would occur indoors at the Osaka Dome, Steve was worried that both teams might have to play in their socks. Fortunately, everything went lovely enough for Spurrier and the to initiate this episode of The Weekend Condition. Now, the disclaimer: ¿Nobody¿s going to give a darn five weeks from now,¿ Spurrier said of the exhibition victory. Amen. But considerable darn will be handed out when the visit San Francisco in seven weeks. The Niners, who triumphed in 12 real games last season, used big-deal quarterback for only two series at Osaka. One Japanese fan felt a bit, well, ripped off. ¿Two series?¿ said the unidentified (and quite possibly unreal) fan. ¿I think that¿s just one more series than we attach to the acting credits of Bob Golic.¿ Osaka¿s football-watching public also was disturbed by the absence of ¿The Hogs,¿ those lovable, dress-wearing, snout-accessory-using fans. It was hoped that The Hogs would square off with baseball¿s Nippon Ham Fighters. Anyway, on the field, Spurrier received fine performances from quarterbacks and . OK, I remembered Wuerffel as the ex-Gator who won the Heisman Trophy while pitching for Steve in Gainesville. But I thought was a potpourri your wife trots out when company¿s coming over. Sage, now two seasons removed from Iowa State, demonstrated his ability to not stink up the joint by flipping a couple of TD passes. Rosenfels' only serious miscalculation occurred when he attempted to call an audible and received a 20-volt shock from his Spurrier-issued helmet. Anyway, it¿s so far, so good for Steve, whose game plan called for another touchdown. However, Spurrier¿s reverie returned when somebody reminded him that Jeff Sagarin wouldn¿t care.


  • The tax-evasion case of Boris Becker achieved some good news when the three-time Wimbledon champion and the government reached an early pay-back accord. What made Boris great was that booming serve. What made Boris unlawful was that underhanded return.
  • Lindsay Davenport was the target of hecklers during Saturday¿s overwhelming loss to Venus Williams in the Acura Classic. According to Davenport, at least one fan encouraged her to ¿Give our money back.¿ Fat chance. Thanks to that Venus serve, Lindsay wasn¿t returning anything.
  • Anna Kournikova¿s run of fine tennis ended Saturday in the semifinal round of the Acura Classic. But her hard-fought loss to Jelena Dokic probably didn¿t impress British critics, who think Anna could have nabbed her first tournament title in the less-competitive Kia Classic.


  • In what qualifies as a blockbuster trade, the Milwaukee Bucks sent Glenn ¿Big Dog¿ Robinson to the Atlanta Hawks for Toni Kukoc, Leon Smith and a first-round draft pick. This deal seems potentially bountiful and risky for both teams. In Robinson, the Hawks receive a high-scoring, small forward who recently was the star of a domestic dispute co-starring his ex-fiance. Smith, you may recall, made several demonstrations of cuckoo behavior — including a girlfriend-related incident — three years ago. And, according to several witnesses in Atlanta, Kukoc has been stealing money from the Hawks for two years. But the Hawks are convinced they can survive any bite from this ¿Big Dog¿ deal. They have a case. After checking his statistics in Milwaukee, it¿s obvious that Robinson has had all of his shots.
  • Arvydas Sabonis allegedly told a few cronies that the L.A. Lakers don¿t possess salary-cap room sufficient for his employment as Shaquille O¿Neal¿s stunt double. But, thanks to the financial potential in Portland, Sabonis wouldn¿t mind reclaiming his old gig as towel rack for Rasheed Wallace. Despite coming-season salaries of $16.2 million for Wallace, $12.3 million to Damon Stoudamire, $19.7 due Scottie Pippen and $21.5 million aimed at Shawn Kemp, the Trail Blazers could pay Arvdas substantially more than L.A.¿s legal limit of $1.4 million. Like the rest of the league, Portland can sign its own players (Sabonis still qualifies) for bonus loot, because there is no a hard cap. The Blazers don¿t even seem to have a soft cap. They have owner Paul Allen. And that means they operate under a Microsoft cap.


  • WBC president ¿No Weigh¿ Jose Sulaiman is suing heavyweight pals Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson for $56 million. Jose is holding Lennox and Mike responsible for the fracas that erupted during their pre-rout press conference. Sulaiman claims to have been knocked out, spat on and threatened. But he still doesn¿t know the name of the writer who allegedly assaulted him.


  • Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden was fined a reported $50,000 for insensitive remarks that likened a potential players-union strike to last year¿s 9-11 tragedy. Only history can judge if his is the most disturbing remark in franchise history, but Bowden did give it his best Schott. To help prevent such poor behavior in the future, MLB will screen its management personnel through the use of mental detectors.
  • I¿m not sure how long it took his private jet to get there, but L.A. Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown did make a rehab start on Saturday in Las Vegas. Things turned out well, but it seemed pretty risky to me. Never take a chance on pitching rehab in town defined by two nasty words: Hit me.


  • The weekend¿s box-office hopes were pinned to Signs, the latest nail-biter from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Premise: Mel Gibson stars as an ex-priest/farmer whose pristine cornfield is sabotaged when ¿Shoeless¿ Joe Jackson escapes his cryogenic coffin just in time to make a few crop circles. The movie¿s big ¿swing away¿ payoff can be credited to three things: A baseball bat, a scary alien and actor Joaquin Phoenix. But if Shyamalan really wanted to go for action-packed greatness, he would have embraced my suggestions: A baseball bat, a toilet and scary ex-pitcher Joaquin Andujar. Randy Hill can be reached at his e-mail address,
  • Tagged: 49ers, Redskins, Jeff Garcia, Sage Rosenfels, Hawks, Lakers, Bucks, Trail Blazers, Reds, Dodgers

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