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Sports Fans Revel In Seasonal Riches

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IT'S the time of year when even the most avid sports enthusiast may reach the saturation point: Basketball and hockey playoffs under way, the baseball season a month old, and even off-season football news muscling into the picture - not to mention the annual renewal of golf, tennis, the Kentucky Derby and2 the Indy 500.

This spring's headlines have concerned the gridiron even more than usual, starting with the dilemma of Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. What to do when the architect of four Super Bowl titles recovers from two injury-filled years while his replacement, Steve Young, evolves into the game's top quarterback? Something had to give, and Montana moved on.

So the man who has arguably been the game's biggest star over the past decade will try to work his Super Bowl wonders in a Kansas City uniform next season. And as he heads into the twilight of his career, two young quarterbacks prepare to launch theirs as this year's top draft choices.

Drew Bledsoe from Washington State and Rick Mirer of Notre Dame are the "heirs apparent," and it was a guessing game until the last minute as to which would be No. 1. It was Bledsoe, who went to the struggling New England Patriots, after which Seattle selected Mirer.

Now for the irony of ironies: This was not the first time a Washington State quarterback was drafted ahead of a Notre Dame rival. It happened in 1979, when Cincinnati selected Jack Thomson and later the 49ers took a young signal-caller named ... Joe Montana.

Another item of interest was that Heisman Trophy-winner Gino Toretta of Miami lasted until Minnesota finally called his name in the seventh round. This isn't as surprising as it might seem, however, as pro teams aren't looking for exactly the same attributes that make great college players. If Toretta needs any consolation or inspiration, he can note that 30 years ago another Heisman winner wasn't picked until the 10th round, yet did pretty well for himself. His name: Roger Staubach. Baseball starts out topsy-turvy


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