January 9 , 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 55  

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Day of infamy: Goats of the year

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photos
AND THE JACKASS OF THE YEAR IS.... (from top) Bud Selig, Joe Namath, Rush Limbaugh and Pedro Martinez all had their 15 minutes of fame for doing or saying something stupid.

Ah, the beloved goat. Where would professional sports be without you?

2003 had its fair share of goats, jackasses and other assorted barnyard animals. In no particular order, here are The Gazette's most infamous athletes, spectators and bystanders from the past year:

Namath, the former New York Jets quarterback, was invited to the team's "our decade team" celebrations last December. And so it came to be that a visibly intoxicated Namath was interviewed on the sidelines by ESPN's Suzy Kolber during the Patriots-Jets tilt. When asked what the recent struggles of the Jets meant to him, Namath replied, "Iwant to kiss you." Kolber responded by saying "Thanks, Joe. A huge compliment." After he again said he wanted to kiss her, the interview was cut short. Namath subsequently apologized.

Ostensibly trying to out-do the 49ers' Terrell Owens for most egotistical touchdown celebration ever, the Saints' wide receiver was fined $30,000 for his Dec. 16 antics. After scoring the second of an eventual four touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over the New York Giants, Horn made a call from a cell phone hidden in the padding of the end zone uprights. After learning of the penalty, Horn? agent called the fine excessive and remarked that "this is not a murder case."

During 2003's ALCS featuring the Red Sox and Yankees, the bad blood between the rivals surfaced. The clearest example was the bench-clearing pseudo-brawl after a series of bean-balls and brush backs. As Yankees' bench coach Don Zimmer ran towards Martinez to confront him, Martinez threw Zimmer to the ground. The sight of a wounded Zimmer summarily ended the scuffle, as Yankees players rallied around the senior citizen with concern. The incident only furthered Martinez's reputation as a vindictive goon.

Do we really need to set this one up? If you were following the baseball playoffs at all, you know who "The Bartman" is. After getting in the way of Cubs' outfielder Moises Alou -who was attempting to run down a foul ball late in Game 6- Bartman became the latest scapegoat in the Cubs' painful folklore. Within hours of the Cubs' demise, it was clear Bartman had become the best known baseball fan since Jeffrey Maier.

Selig could make this list for years to come without even trying. It seems MLB's commissioner is constantly mismanaging the league in negotiations or on-field decisions, such as the 2002 All-Star game that ended in a tie. This year, though, Selig found himself in the cross-hairs for funnelling approximately $13 million of his own money into the Milwaukee Brewers.

With a view to increase ratings, ESPN gave Limbaugh a chance to return from obscurity to a new job as a football analyst. Instead of using his position to give insight, Limbaugh immediately alleged that Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback, was given preferential treatment by the league and the media because of his race (McNabb is black). Following the comment, controversy predictably erupted and Limbaugh was forced to resign.




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