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Felser's greatest hits

Thoughts jotted in a notebook

On Jim Schoenfeld: Schoenfeld was a roughneck kid from the German neighborhoods around Kitchener, Ont. He wore a Dutch boy haircut and a certain, malevolent look in his eye. Hans Brinker with an attitude.

On Ronnie Harmon: Ronnie Harmon Speaks! At least he speaks to the Phoenix media. Maybe he should have made do with closed captions, because he still says he didn't drop Jim Kelly's touchdown pass that would have won the playoff game at Cleveland.

A modest suggestion: Despite what John Muckler thinks, (Grant) Fuhr isn't able to play every night. Besides, playing Dominik Hasek isn't such a big risk.

On building a new hockey arena: New rink? This team should be playing in the Franklin Street parking ramp.

On Digger Phelps: There was a standing ovation when Notre Dame made it clear that Digger Phelps would return next season as Irish basketball coach.

The ovation came from those rival coaches who have Digger on their schedules.

On tennis: Report me to some Un-American Activities Committee, but my pulse did not quicken with patriotic fervor when Andre Agassi met John McEnroe in the Wimbledon semifinals.

On the Seahawks' offense: Watching the Seattle Seahawks use a version of the run-and-shoot offense was like watching Margaret Thatcher dressed up like Madonna.

On Mark Rypien: Mark Rypien, most valuable player in the last Super Bowl, went up to Canada to play contract leverage, pitting the Toronto Argonauts against the Redskins. When Rypien crossed back over the border, his quarterbacking had been devalued by 30 percent.

On the NHL: What's this about the "dignity of the NHL" being violated when the Disney Corp. named its new hockey team "The Mighty Ducks?" You can't violate something that doesn't exist.

On football minicamps: For the most part, minicamps are a bunch of guys running around in their underwear. What takes place is the sharpening of timing, the getting-acquainted period in which the new players begin to meld with the Bills' veterans.

It's like the first week of rehearsals for a Broadway musical. The idea is to not bump into the furniture.

On Mike Ditka: If Mike Ditka doesn't have enough moonlight projects going for him, he should think about selling video cassettes of the Chicago Bears' offense.

He could make a fortune marketing his stuff on late-night cable TV, alongside Boxcar Willie, Zamfir's Pan Flute and Swiss Army carrot peelers.

I can hear it now:

"Do you toss and turn in bed? Now you can have a full night's rest, just by inserting your personal cassette of the Bears' offense into your VCR. In the time it takes Brad Muster to plunge into the line for a gain of 3.5 inches or for the first Mike Tomczak overthrow, you'll be snoring like a wart hog. . .

On coach Dick Vermeil's dedication: Then there was the time a rock concert was scheduled for Veteran's Stadium and Vermeil fretted about what damage it might do to the turf and the distraction it might be for his team. The group scheduled to perform was the Rolling Stones.

"Do you know who the Rolling Stones are?" a sportswriter asked Vermeil.

"No I don't," admitted Dick, "but my kids get their magazine."

On Jim Kelly's final game: The Bills' "Golden Era" officially ended at 3:24 Saturday afternoon when Jim Kelly, the noblest quarterback who ever put on a Buffalo uniform, was carted from the field with a concussion. We may not see his like for a long, long time.

On fantasy sports: Rotisserie leagues are harmless enough, I suppose, and they do keep the participants off the street corners, but I blame them for the maddening outbreak of esoteric and useless statistics in the new boxscores. Baseball is becoming bloodless enough without turning it over to computer freaks.

On the NBA: It's Groundhog Day, so that means five more months before the climax of the NBA playoffs. In case you can't stand the suspense, I'll let you in on the ending: Everyone dies except the Chicago Bulls.

On Pete Rose: The worst part of marshmallow heads fuming over Jim Gray's tough interview with Pete Rose is their insistence on making Rose a martyr. Betting on baseball is the one unthinkable taboo in the sport. Rose was guilty as sin.

Baseball has the evidence, including phone records of him calling his bookie during games in which he was managing the Reds. A manager pulling a pitcher too early or too late is the easiest way to fix the outcome of a game. Pete's defenders suffer from a serious case of celebrity worship.

On the World Cup: Let the reigning Ayatollah crow about Iran's glorious 2-1 victory over the Great Satan. Us? We put it in the same category as the results of the fifth race at Thistledown. It's soccer, and for most Americans, soccer is a recreation, like bowling or billiards, not something over which you paint your face.

On Pete Carroll: Patriots coach Pete Carroll is a man whose job is in immediate jeopardy. Yet Sunday he was like an accident victim whose broken body lay in the middle of a busy highway while his companions, bad Samaritans all, look on with interest. Mild interest.

On a Sabres playoff loss aided by poor officiating: But bad officiating is part of the game, a pothole in the highway. Nevertheless, the result of that game nestled in Sabre bellies like a 2 a.m. pizza with everything on it.

On the Buccaneers: Tampa Bay's drafts, which used to be a joke, have been so productive the Bucs made the playoffs last year after a couple of generations in the kitty litter.

On NHL clutching and grabbing: Now that Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman have been eliminated from the playoffs, is there anyone who would seriously argue that mugging is now legal in Lord Stanley's tournament?

On bad judgment: The Bills' own judgment on the Lawrence Phillips affair is under serious doubt. Yes, Phillips dominated NFL Europe, but so what? That's like winning a contest as the best short-order cook. Rue Franklin still isn't going to hire you.

On baseball: Apparently the Florida Marlins remain torn between pursuing Barry Bonds in a trade or signing Albert Belle as a free agent. Why don't they do both? Then they could play Bonds in right field, Belle in left and sign Andrew Dice Clay to play center.

On the Sabres: Like a lazy schoolboy who fails to do his homework all during the semester, then crams at the last minute for the lowest possible passing grade, the Sabres made the playoffs Sunday afternoon. The result is good for the fans and good for the owners, the Rigas family. It's good for the downtown parking lot operators and the guy who sells peanuts outside the main gate.

But let's hold the civic celebration.

The last time we celebrated the Sabres, for their "No Goal" nice try, they went on a bender which lasted from Oct. 2 to mid-March. There are people who claim the hockey season lasts too long. Not this one. The Sabres' actual season lasted about six weeks.

On Iron Mike: Mike Tyson performed so creakily in his victory over Francois Botha, the South African tomato can, that we'll probably see his boxing career last no longer than the year 2020. I can see it now: 'Tyson vs. Larry Holmes; The Rumble in the Rest Home.'

On Jeff George: I'm not going to get upset over Jeff George being dumped on the unemployment roles. I'm confident he'll find some other team to quit on.

On Doug Flutie: I've been watching so many Christmas fantasy shows on television -- "The Nutcracker Suite,"" It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" -- that I dreamed the other night that people were actually trying to crown Doug Flutie as the Bills' once and future quarterback.

On the possible upgrading of UB's football schedule: Considering what happened to the Bulls Saturday, if the UB administration doesn't cancel the Virginia game, the Humane Society should. Ambition is one thing, foolhardiness is another.

On Darryl Strawberry: I care not a whit about the Straw Man. I think he's a nasty, unreliable, irresponsible, blame-shifting, undisciplined, lying mope who happened to be blessed with great athletic ability and squandered it.

On the Bills: There was a lot of dangerous talk coming from the Buffalo Bills this week in the wake of their embarrassing loss in Miami. It ranged from "I'd like to play them again right now" to "They aren't that good." There were variations of the same theme that, seen on film, the running attack that put up shoddy statistics against the Dolphins and the pass protection that put the quarterbacks in jeopardy weren't that bad at all.

A magic place, that Buffalo film room. Maybe the team should sell tickets to the film reviews. Apparently what is seen on tape is a lot better than what was seen in person or on television in the last three games.

On Wade Phillips: Few people were staggered by the news that Wade Phillips had finally been fired, but the reason Ralph Wilson gave for pulling the trigger was startling. Phillips might still be the coach of the Bills today except that he made a goal line stand for Ronnie Jones.

Friendship is nice, but how could Wade fall on his sword for the coach of the worst special teams in the history of the Bills? Maybe in the history of the NFL? Jones was an object lesson in not hiring your friends.

On Ray Lewis: The first thing that strikes you about Ray Lewis is not the tattoos which snake down his massive biceps, or the glittering collection of diamonds in his earring. Those are standard equipment today for superstars in any professional sport.

It's Lewis' eyes. He has dead eyes, like a shark.

Position for position, he may be the best player in the NFL. . . . There is something that makes that distinction almost beside the point. It's the smell of blame for the stabbing deaths of two men the night of last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta that hangs over him like a shroud, despite his guilty plea only to reduced charges of obstruction of justice.

That shroud is the background for Super Bowl XXXV.

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