Deion's road back to the NFL comes with warning sign: use caution

September 12, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

WHEN I HAD my midlife crisis, I went out and bought a sleek, sporty car and started putting gel in my hair. It was a nice look, but nobody was particularly impressed and I soon became that pathetic old guy who still thinks he could date one of the Ravenettes if the wife would just have an open mind.

This should be a cautionary tale for Deion "Part Time" Sanders, even though he is much better looking than I am and - I hope - can still beat me in the 40.

The guy is 37 years old, has lots of money and is remembered as one of the greatest defensive backs ever to play professional football. So what exactly was he thinking when he let Ray Lewis and Corey Fuller talk him into making a comeback three years after looking so human in a Redskins uniform?

"Honey, I think I'll go out and let a bunch of young guys beat the crap out of me. You may have to feed me through a straw when I get home."

"That's fine dear, have a good time."

Couldn't he have gotten the same rush by showing up unarmed at one of Fuller's high-stakes poker games?

Obviously not, since Deion trumpeted his return by calling out Cleveland Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia and focusing the Opening Weekend national spotlight squarely on himself.

Now it's put-up-or-shut-up time for the neon nickel back who never fails to put in his two cents.

"I don't call attention to myself," Sanders said on Thursday, leaving us all to wonder just what kind of circus would be in town if he weren't such a humble guy. "I just try to do what I can do ... and try to entertain you a little bit."

When's kickoff?

Hartford Courant deliveryman Mark Guthrie couldn't figure out what was going on when Tribune Co. made a series of payroll deposits totaling more than $300,000 into his checking account ... and Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Guthrie couldn't figure out why he went more than a month without a paycheck.

Turns out, Tribune - which owns the Courant and the Cubs - got its two like-named employees mixed up, and now is trying to untangle the situation.

Tribune also owns The Sun, but it's just my luck that there are no Schmucks on the Cubs roster - unless you count irritating reliever LaTroy Hawkins.

Former Orioles pitcher Jason Johnson learned a valuable lesson the other day:

Don't wish too hard for something or you might get it.

Johnson complained recently that he was not being treated like a No. 1 starter because manager Alan Trammell removed him from a game after he had given up five runs. Said something about being around long enough to have earned the benefit of the doubt.

So, when Johnson was getting drawn and quartered by the Kansas City Royals in Thursday's 26-5 loss, Trammell left him out there to give up 11 runs. He certainly had earned the opportunity.

Virginia Tech fan David Vovakes has been stirring for a fight ever since I took a cheap shot at his team's nickname before the Black Coaches Association Classic against the top-ranked (and rightfully so) USC Trojans.

"When the Hokies beat Maryland on Nov. 18, I'm sure you will find good things to say about the outstanding Virginia Tech football program," Vovakes chided me in an e-mail. "What is the big sport at Cal State Fullerton? Badminton? Marbles?"

Low blow. Cal State Fullerton doesn't even have a football program, but if it did, I'm sure the Hokies would be clamoring to schedule the Titans for next year's opener.

Everybody's funnier than me this week. Orioles color commentator Jim Palmer watched Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez use a gardening tool to dig the mud out of his cleats in the third inning on Friday night and couldn't resist.

"Looks like something Don Sutton used to keep in his back pocket," he said.

Proving that football fans will bet on anything, an Internet gambling site (WagerWeb) has posted odds on which player will be the first to be penalized under the NFL's new excessive celebration rule.

If I were Terrell Owens, I would bet $1 million on myself, since he figures to be dancing in the end zone a lot today.

Sorry, I think I inadvertently said something positive about the Eagles in the previous item. Won't happen again.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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