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Tomorrow's Ventura: pigskin picker or Springer clone?

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By HUBERT MIZELL, Times Sports Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002

What's next, Guv?

Figuring the overmuscled, undercoiffed Minnesotan must have gone cyber, I called up on the Internet where, alongside his stately bald portrait, was the advisory, "We are undergoing the final stages of development. Please be patient."

Patience, a Minnesota necessity.

Guv Ventura may not have been re-electable without Vince McMahon or Palm Beach County counting votes. Let's hope there will be no mat comeback, like matching the Old Body with a similarly over-the-hill Hollywood Hogan in some Wrestlemania AARP.

Four years ago, when Ventura entered the gubernatorial race, the prime intent was to enhance his visibility as a talk-radio host. Joke was on him. Ventura got elected. Instead of on AM/FM, you could find him in the State House.

The Body's term hasn't made the state forget Hubert Humphrey or even Walter Mondale, but none of Minnesota's famed 10,000 lakes has gone dry on the Ventura watch and even the baseball Twins have avoided MLB contraction.

Jesse's no-run decision has impacted Broadway. A musical, Body Ventura, based on his life from Minnesota boyhood to Navy Seal to wrestling fame to chief exec, was scrapped after the Governing Body opted to retire from politics.

So, how about a job?

Don't bet against a network hiring Ventura as a pro football analyst. Frankly, he knows the game better than many well-aired old jocks. Of course, such a profession would make him one of us even with Ventura's roar last week that "the media is about personal assassination."

Ventura spent one season as a commentator on the Bucs network before moving home to Minnesota to do several years of Sunday yapping on Vikings radio.

While his wrasslin' time is apparently done, except as a promo gimmick, the Ventura talk-show schtick, after a quadrennial of rest, might well be reborn to cash in on his broadened notoriety.

If a former mayor of Cincinnati (Jerry Springer) can become a queasy icon of daytime sex and slop, what might be the possibilities for an outgoing Minnesota governor? Imagine audiences chanting, "Jess-ee! Jess-ee!"

You just never know. ...

How about Gov. Gene Deckerhoff?

CHOKE HOLDS: In his book, You Cannot Be Serious, the ever-intriguing John McEnroe writes of using drugs along with former wife Tatum O'Neal as well as tennis pals Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis, but leaves many questions unanswered, such as the possible use of performance enhancers in tournaments. You wonder, were championships won on stuff beyond skill, sweat and effort? ... New York columnist Jimmy Breslin, covering a recent Catholic bishops meeting in Dallas, suggested, "The church's problem with sex is almost as big as the NBA's." ... Whom do you think will make the Baseball Hall of Fame first: Pete Rose, Jose Canseco or Esteban Yan? ... I'd like to open coffee houses called The World Cup. ... ESPN's Sports Reporters will never be the same, nothing close, without Dick Schaap.

READER'S VOICE: E-mail from Bill Craft of New Port Richey:

"Thanks for your warm words on the passing of Jack Buck, but as a native St. Louisan, I believe it's a subject on which the Times should have pushed you to write 10,000 more.

"Beneath the Gateway Arch, there is so much history along the mighty Mississippi, but St. Louis has never had mayor, athlete or citizen more important than Buck.

"He was embraced by the people more than Gussie or any of the other beer-making Busches. He was bigger than the Cardinals franchise. Well ahead of local baseball greats Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith and Bob Gibson or latecomers like Mark McGwire or quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk of the Super Bowl-winning Rams.

"Jack was a war hero with a Purple Heart. A fabulous patriot. He raised fortunes for charities, mostly to help children. Buck was the best emcee in America with talents beyond even your talented friend who emceed the Mizell retirement roast, Bob Costas, and frankly rivaling those of Johnny Carson. What a man. Father of eight; daddy to millions.

"Thanks for a lifetime, Mr. Buck."

Whatever happened to former University of Tampa quarterback Jim Del Gaizo?

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

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