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Cup runneth over for athletes, coaches, fans

This is a delectable week in which our sports plate runneth over. Seldom in history and never recently has there been such a delicious panoply of major events in such a short period of time. For all of us for whom our three favorite things in life are sports, sports, and sports, we feel like we do when we approach a buffet that includes 13 salads and 43 desserts. We are overwhelmed and addled because it all looks so fascinating. As do sports in this time. We've got Michael Jordan retiring. All he has done is define excellence; all he is is the best basketball player ever. Yup, better than Magic and better than Bird. He led the league in scoring 10 times. His last shot ever torched Utah in the NBA finals, wrapping Chicago's sixth NBA crown in eight seasons. To go on and on about Jordan does him a disservice. Jordan was about action, not words. He dazzled us. Was he the fortunate one, to be making more than $30 million a year? Naw, we were the fortunate ones because we got to watch. Then, at the same time, the Washington Redskins were being sold to three investors for $800 million, the highest price ever for a sports team in North America and $270 million more than the expansion Cleveland Browns cost last year. Not bad for a franchise that was 6-10 in 1998 and hasn't been to the playoffs in six years. Jack Kent Cooke, the venerable owner who died in 1997, ordered the proud Skins sold with a charitable trust to be established to help children. This meant his own son, John Kent, became a child without a team. There's a lesson there boys and girls: Be very nice to your parents, especially if they're rich. Then, the baseball Mark McGwire hit for the record-setting 70th home run last season was auctioned off to an anonymous bidder for $2.7 million, plus a $305,000 commission. That's 23 times the previous record. The ball that runner-up Sammy Sosa hit for his 66th homer, went for $150,000, quantifying how much more we like winning over second place. Then there's the growing and increasingly disgusting disclosures about the skullduggery Salt Lake City engaged in to get the 2002 Winter Olympics. There's an array of accusations and admissions involving cash, gifts, scholarships, medical care, and more, all under the broad umbrella of bribery. The president of the organizing committee, Frank Joklik, resigned, saying it was all terrible but he, of course, knew nothing about it. Bosses always seem to be out of the loop when things go awry. There are many more chapters to be written on this burgeoning mess. Then, abruptly, John Thompson, for 27 years the Georgetown basketball coach, resigned. He said he needed to work on his marriage. Okey-dokey. But his team also happens to be at the bottom of the 13-team Big East. And the suspicion is that as soon as he is offered an NBA coaching job, Thompson will conclude he has worked on his marriage long enough and will return courtside. Then, all the major football coaching moves this week are teaching us that to move ahead, fail first. Colorado's Rick Neuheisel, who in his four years took the Buffs from a national championship contender to oblivion, doubled his salary by going to the University of Washington for $1 million a year for seven years. He said with a straight face it wasn't the money, an assertion that passed nobody's giggle test. What is wrong with saying, "I did it for the money and so would you?" Dennis Erickson failed as the NFL Seattle coach (31-33 in four years), which struck Oregon State as just what it was looking for. Philadelphia fired Ray Rhodes after he coached the Eagles to 3-13 this year with the 30th-ranked offense in the league; Green Bay said that was just what it was looking for and rewarded Rhodes with $1 million a year. Conversely, former Packer coach Mike Holmgren went to Seattle for $40 million over eight years, making him the highest-paid coach ever. Holmgren is very good. Seattle may have gotten him cheap. Then, Marty Schottenheimer, Kansas City Chiefs coach for 10 years, quit. All this on the heels of the NBA owner lockout ending. Then, millions of fans are approaching full flutter about the upcoming Super Bowl between Denver and Minnesota. You say, hey, what about the Jets and Atlanta? What about them? Whew. Send comments to

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