The Sports pages

Knicks Put on Hiatus

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Brent Schrotenboer calls up John Feinstein, the author of A Season on the Brink, to see what Feinstein thinks of ESPN’s forthcoming docudrama treatment of the book, which the network is relentlessly promoting. “Half-fiction,” Feinstein says. He “accuses the script of having characters that never existed, an inaccurate opening scene in Normandy and a halftime tirade from Knight that never happened that season,” Schrotenboer writes. The Kansas City Star’s Blair Kerkhoff follows up on the story, and Feinstein tells him that he may give his tickets to a New York screening of the movie to Keith Olbermann, “probably the only guy ESPN hates more than me.” The movie airs March 10.

Capital punishment: Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis found a city willing to host their championship tilt: Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams explained: “We’re trying to bring our hospitality and tourism back, and this is a big part of it. If you look at all sports, there are people who have troubled histories.” Noting that a recent Tyson fight sparked a brawl that shut down a casino, the Washington Post’s William Gildea counters: “Everyone who cares about the District wants a boost for the local economy. But to me, no amount of money is worth the possibility of a spectator or a bystander being hurt by just being in the wrong place.” The New York Post points out that the June 8 fight will coincide with D.C.’s annual Girl Scout convention.

But what about Elvis Grbac? Who’s the best available quarterback this off-season, Drew Bledsoe or Trent Dilfer?’s Don Banks proffers this statistical comparison: “In their past 20 starts, Dilfer has bettered Bledsoe in touchdowns (26 to 20), quarterback rating (85.8 to 76.1), yards per completion (12.93 to 10.34), yards per attempt (7.50 to 6.07), percentage of touchdown passes (5.46 to 3.11), average length of touchdown pass (31.3 yards to 14.2), number of TD passes of 20 yards or more (15 to 3), number of TD passes of 40 yards or more (10 to 2), and won-loss record (19-1 to 6-14).” Furthermore, “over his past 20 starts, Dilfer’s 12.93 yards per completion average is better than the 12.88 mark turned in by the NFL’s 2001 league leader in that category, St. Louis’ Kurt Warner.”

Super Bowl or bust: In exchange for coach Jon Gruden, the Oakland Raiders received two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million in cash from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The trade “almost rivals the one-sided deal in which Dallas sent Herschel Walker to Minnesota for eight draft picks and five players,” the New York Times’ Mike Freeman writes. “To get a better idea of how big a steal it was, one needs only to examine three recent similar deals—for [Mike] Holmgren, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. They are three of the best coaches of the past 15 years, with six Super Bowl appearances as head coaches among them. The Jets gave up third- and fourth- round picks in 1997, a second-rounder in 1998 and a No. 1 pick in 1999 to get Parcells. New England gave the Jets a first-rounder to get Belichick. (The teams also exchanged later-round picks that basically canceled each other out.) And Seattle gave Green Bay a No. 2 draft pick to get Holmgren. The price for the three coaches was six picks, including two No. 1’s, two No. 2’s, a No. 3 and a No. 4. For one coach, Davis got close to the same compensation.” Add the $8 million to the deal, and “the Buccaneers will also be paying the salary of the next Oakland head coach.”

Is Miller time over? USA Today’sRudy Martzke reports that Fox can no longer afford the services of top color man John Madden. Madden made $8 million last year, and the network has lost about $400 million on its NFL contract. Where will Madden take his act? If Fox frees him from his contract, he’ll join Al Michaels in the booth of ABC’s Monday Night Football as early asnext season. Dan Fouts and Dennis Miller can start looking for work.

NBC and TNT put the Knicks on hiatus: NBA fans, rejoice. The dreadfully boring New York Knicks have been dropped from four national TV broadcasts. “Now, you often hear of soap operas or sitcoms being canceled by the networks,” the New York Times’ Ira Berkow writes. “But basketball games due to anticipated dullness?” Does this make 2002 Knicks the basketball equivalent of Cop Rock?