From The Cheap Seats

You're Robert Edwards, a young running back from the University of Georgia. You're not the most highly rated running back coming out of college, but because the Patriots have no incumbent tailback, you get a chance to play and you win the job. You run for over 1,000 yards and the season is just an appetizer. You are with a young team that is within hailing distance of the Super Bowl. The glory and the big money are all in front of you. You get to go to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, to play a little flag football game on the beach for ESPN to show, a showcase for the top rookies. No contact, just for fun.

You're Robert Edwards, and someone has just landed on the back of your leg, and even though it's on the sand, you know you're hurt bad, because you can't stand up. What thoughts are going through your mind at that moment? In a sport where head-on collisions are a routine activity, where people play on hard-as-rock artificial turf, you've torn up your knee playing on the beach.

You're Robert Edwards and you've torn three ligaments in your knee. You have nerve damage and there's virtually no feeling in your foot. You're out for the whole 1999 season and may never play again. You've trained your whole life for this, you've sacrificed and prepared to be a professional football player and just like that, on the beach in paradise, it's all been taken away from you.

I don't know Robert Edwards. I have no idea what kind of person he is. But what has happened to him shouldn't happen to anybody. Injuries in football are common, and this is why I don't begrudge football players the money they make. More than any athlete the professional football player sacrifices his body for his sport. Their careers can end at any moment and with them, all their hopes and dreams since they were old enough to have hopes and dreams. Let's say a quick prayer for Robert Edwards recovery. Your dreams shouldn't die in paradise.


The Oscar de la Hoya - Ike Quartey fight is one of those few special fights that show up only a few times each decade. Great, unbeaten fighters, champions going head-to-head. Sometimes it's hard to follow boxing, with all the mismatches and corruption, the multiple "champions" in every weight class, refusing to meet because neither wants to risk his meaningless title. The great ones rise up to the challenge, they test themselves against the best. That is what de la Hoya is doing here. He could make all the money in the world just picking and choosing his opponents, the way

Julio Cesar Chavez did. These are the fights that make the sport and make the fighters as well.

This should be a rough fight for Golden Boy, but I think he'll prevail. I think he's underrated by the writers and fans. I also think he's good enough that any fighter would have to be at his best to beat him and I can't believe Quartey is. He hasn't fought since October of 1997, where he fought an uninspired draw. This can't be good for a fighter's reflexes. Also, at 29, fighters in the lower and middle classes start to lose a little, some lose a lot. If I were betting on this, I'd put my money on the younger fighter with a little less rust on him. De la Hoya by a knockout in the 8th or 9th.


No sooner do I mention the possibility of Shaq being injury prone and he's out of the lineup. What is ominous is that it's the same injury that kept him out 21 games last year, a pulled stomach muscle. His career injury rate is divided in two coming into this season. The first three years he missed a total of 5 games, the second three he missed 81, with a high of 61 games played. He's a great athlete with a magnificent body, but perhaps he strains it beyond its limits. Not that he shouldn't play as hard as he does, since his hustle and constant work for position is what makes him great. Yet maybe a man that huge and fast has simply pushed the human body beyond its limits. Just a thought, one which I hope is completely wrong.



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