Who's No. 1? Maybe Leaf, maybe FSU

January 07, 1998|By John Eisenberg

Opinion: It won't be a surprise if Ryan Leaf gets drafted ahead of Peyton Manning. Leaf has a big arm, thinks fast, hung tough in the Rose Bowl and looks like the better long-term prospect.

Fact: The AFC championship game is being played at Three Rivers Stadium for the third time in four years.

Opinion: Broncos 23, Steelers 20.

Fact: The average National League game (2: 48) was nine minutes shorter than the average American League game (2: 57) in 1997.

Opinion: If I'm either of the college football champs, Michigan or Nebraska, I'm just glad I didn't have to play No. 3 Florida State, which lost one game, by three points at Florida.

Fact: Brady Anderson was among the AL's best road hitters in 1997, his .320 average behind only Frank Thomas, Bernie Williams, Edgar Martinez, Paul O'Neill and Manny Ramirez.

Opinion: Al Davis and Bill Belichick, now there's a happy couple.

Fact: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Orioles' newest AL East brothers, have sold 23,000 season tickets.

Opinion: The New Orleans Saints, whose quarterbacks threw 51 interceptions in 1997, are particularly desperate to trade for Manning or Leaf. It's a splashy move Mike Ditka would make.

Fact: If rookie 49ers coach Steve Mariucci beats the Packers on Sunday, he will have gone from the Aloha Bowl to the Super Bowl in one year.

Opinion: Packers 27, 49ers 20.

Fact: The Packers are 8-1 against teams with winning records this season. The 49ers are 2-3.

Opinion: Hey, you Penn State fans who think Joe Paterno, 71, is losing it? (You know who you are.) His Citrus Bowl loss to Florida was his first bowl loss in five years.

Fact: The baseball postseason will begin this year on Sept. 29. (So, if Reggie Jackson were still playing, he would be known as Mr. September-October.)

Opinion: Deserving NBA All-Star starters: Michael Jordan, Tim Hardaway, Grant Hill, Shawn Kemp and Dikembe Mutombo for the East; Nick Van Exel, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and David Robinson for the West.

Fact: Shaquille O'Neal's New Year's resolution: "Have better luck. 1997 was an unlucky year for me. [Two injuries.] Not monetarily, but who needs money?"

Opinion: The Wizards' Chris Webber and Rod Strickland deserve to make the East All-Star team as reserves.

Fact: A horse recently was claimed at Santa Anita for $125,000, the highest claiming price ever at that track.

Opinion: It looks like the Olympic figure skating competition is going to be vanilla unless someone whacks someone else on the knee pretty soon.

Fact: Rick Fox on Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant: "I guard him every day in practice, and you ain't seen the half of it yet."

Opinion: He still has to mature, but, at 19, Bryant is closer to JTC Michael Jordan on sheer talent than any other player in the NBA.

Fact: The U.S. Olympic Committee says it'll ship enough red, white and blue food to Japan to keep U.S. athletes from having to eat sushi or eel.

Opinion: I hate the idea of a 2-year-old Horse of the Year, but, in the absence of any other logical candidate, this year's winner is undefeated Favorite Trick. (Silver Charm was injured too long, and Skip Away didn't win often enough.)

Fact: Two American Leaguers other than Cal Ripken played in every game in 1997 -- Chicago's Albert Belle and Detroit's Brian Hunter.

Opinion: Expansion is responsible for NHL teams combining for a paltry 5.3 goals a game this season, the lowest total in 42 years. There simply isn't enough goal-scoring talent to go around.

Fact: The Coppin State basketball team has already played games in eight states this season. (Connecticut, Missouri, Iowa, Arizona, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Delaware and Maryland. Whew.)

Opinion: A big thumbs-up to retiring Bills coach Marv Levy, who won and lost with dignity.

Fact: "I think 99.9 percent of the people forget that I'm 21," Tiger Woods says.

Pub Date: 1/07/98

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