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Much ado about a nobody: Let Tyson fade away

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By HUBERT MIZELL, Times Sports Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002

When do we, the media, become sufficiently embarrassed to loudly discredit or wholly ignore animalistic boxing promos that have all the seamy style of Jerry Springer outtakes, especially if one of the perpetrators is low-class, over-the-hill, felonious lunatic Mike Tyson?

Good for Nevada, putting a muzzle on Mad Mike. Tell me that no state will stoop to licensing this flesh-gnawing creep. He had a blessed existence, including a famous, gifted, gorgeous wife. More money, mansions and automobiles than anybody needs for a lifetime.

Tyson blew it. He's a boneheaded pig meriting nobody's sympathy. We should allow him to slide, as quietly as possible, into oblivion. No more fights. No more huge paydays. No more adulation, even by the most shallow of minds.

Officials at ESPN, CNN, Fox, et al. have been notably, frequently duped by crummy mentalities long ago perfected by another of boxing's ex-cons, Don King.

Historic artistry crafted by old champs like Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard gets smaller and smaller in the world's sporting rear-view mirror.

When do you, if prone to being suckered into buying pricey admission to pay-TV heavyweight shakedowns, vow never to be dragged through the messy, macho mud of King, Tyson and their slimy sort?

Years ago, I was anything but antiboxing, writing often from Aii, Leonard, Bob Foster, Jimmy Ellis, Tommy Hearns and Joe Frazier fights, having big fun with colorful characters, but eventually sickened by an oft-brutal sport and its latter-day implementers.

If there had come a Congressional ban on boxing, I would have cheered. At grass roots levels, it does gobs of good for many youngsters, but the louder, more expensive wings of a shamefully disorganized and weakly governed business often are beyond odious.

Skilled, well-meaning chaps -- Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones Jr., Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad and Bernard Hopkins -- appear to make honest attempts, but their profession now is more of a bloody shame than a manly art.

HAYMAKERS: My old Lake City pal Pat Summerall, who is working his au revoir football telecast with John Madden at today's Super Bowl, tells me, "I like your rule, Hubert, for working as a semi-retiree, doing it only when it's for fun. If we bump into each other at a number of golf tournaments, that'd be wonderful." ... Jailed financier Robert Brennan's $40-million golf playpen on his 221-acre New Jersey estate, Due Process Golf Course, is up for sale in bankruptcy court. ... Jacksonville radio host Joe Cowart said of Jags owner Wayne Weaver extending coach Tom Coughlin's contract, "Sticking with Coughlin instead of courting Steve Spurrier is like dating Aunt Bea and blowing off Penelope Cruz."

READER'S SHOUT: E-mail from Jeffrey Erb of Ocala says, "Thanks for making the sports section worth reading for me. I'm 30, moved from New Jersey to attend USF, living in Florida since 1989. ... I want to say that there's something I just can't live with.

"It is a subject you write about a lot: the decline of American sports. You do write on both positive and negative people, but the Tank Blacks, Rae Carruths and now the Glazers' handling of one of the few truly respectable men in sports (Tony Dungy) leaves the balance tilted toward the negative side."

HUBERT'S REPLY: There are more good people in 2002 athletics than you realize, Jeffrey, but a majority do not get equal public/media attention of the oddballs, showoffs and jerks. I could (but won't) walk through the Bucs locker room and point out maybe 20 extraordinarily good guys as well as a half-dozen who function in crummy ways. Too often, screwballs get more attention. Who's most to blame, public or media? A tossup, I'd say.

QUICKIES: In his first chance as a PGA Tour regular, 17-year-old Ty Tryon had a Phoenix Open entourage that included two swing coaches, a yoga instructor, trainer, image consultant, sports psychologist, agent and two massage therapists, plus a tutor via cell phone. Short stay for all, as Ty missed the 36-hole cut. ... Speaking of Summerall, he was once Florida high school champion in tennis singles and his biggest moment as an NFL placekicker was a 49-yard field goal for the Giants that beat Cleveland 13-10 in the 1958 regular-season final. If he had missed and the Browns had won, New York would not have made the championship and an overtime classic against Baltimore never would have happened. ... Bucs fans disappointed over first-round playoff failures have fellow sufferers in Miami: The Dolphins have made their past four postseason departures by a combined score of 147-13.

Whatever happened to Norm Evans?

-- To contact Hubert, e-mail or mail to P.O. Box 726, Nellysford VA 22958).

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