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Janikowski should wise up before it is too late

By HUBERT MIZELL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 23, 2000


Under "international rules," which FSU football coach Bobby Bowden frivolously implemented to keep Sebastian Janikowski eligible for January's national championship game, let's give the perplexing Pole his multiple-choice Tallahassee collegiate final. Seb, are you

(A) talented?

(B) stupid?

(C) arrogant?

(D) naive?

(E) an embarrassment?

(F) all the above?

It is, of course, an F, the grade Janikowski deserves for much of what he has done in 2000, except for heroically toe-hammering footballs through upright pipes, helping the 'Noles be No. 1 and getting drafted in the first round by an NFL rehab center in Oakland.

Five times, Janikowski had been sacked by Florida cops. Fights. Rowdiness. Worst of all, a charge of trying to bribe an officer. His luck nonetheless retained a magic, the bald bonehead being acquitted June 13.

Common sense says, Sebastian should finally get it. Comprehending what he has to lose. Deciding to grow up, working to be the NFL's most prodigious field-goal specialist, allowing a golden life that pals back in Poland couldn't even imagine.

Wide right!

I mean wide wrong!

Somewhere during the draft/acquittal process, Janikowski would coo, "I just want to put everything behind me. Show people what kind of person I am." Well, maybe he's done just that.

Wednesday, in wee and woozy hours, the 22-year-old jock was arrested again, this time on suspicion of felony possession of GHB, an illegal substance known as the "date-rape drug."

So what, Bobby, is your "international rule" now? Let's hope Bowden, at 70, can still learn. Janikowski's wrongdoing at the Sugar Bowl wasn't exactly safecracking or manslaughter, but the coach's take on his megakicker's busting of FSU team rules was too permissive and comical.

This is dead serious.

Instead of NFL fame, plus oceans of money, Janikowski could be deported. It's a federal long shot, but Seb should be made to worry. To understand. To appreciate. Some attorney or so-called friend or football coach needs to penetrate a thick, slick-shaven skull with a message: You CAN blow it, Seb, and wind up making $8 a game playing semipro soccer in Warsaw!

It is quite apropos, FSU deciding recently to name its football arena for Bowden, or at least the day after the 25-year wonder quits or whatever. Never has a coach in any sport done more total good for a university. But this is an aching bruise for Bobby.

During the week of the mighty New Orleans conquest of Virginia Tech, he was widely chastised by media commentators from across the republic, most saying Bobby was too lax in discipline for off-field actions of players.

Expect a rekindling of that stabbing spirit. San Jose Mercury News columnist Ann Killion now refers to FSU as "Federally Stupid University." Always, No. 1 is an easy target. Especially when No. 1 drops its guard.

All through FSU's national championship season, it didn't take Clark Kent ears to hear the disturbing stories. Janikowski was constantly skipping classes. Majoring in football with a minor in vodka. Instead of the FSU library, his favorite study sites were Potbelly's and other Tally booze depots.

Wouldn't it have been warming had Janikowski oozed with appreciation for an extraordinary opportunity, being granted a U.S. college education in exchange for kicking a football. Being cheered by Seminole Chopping multitudes. Becoming famous across America. Creating a whopper of a job.

How sweet if Seb had come to use Yakov Smirnoff's line "What a country!" to describe the United States. So many joys evolving for Janikowski, with a Sunday sundae served as dessert, being selected for instant seven-figure riches by the Raiders.

Seb was unquestionably popular among FSU teammates. Despite his immature and damaging acts, Janikowski doesn't appear to be a jerk, unless you're a cop.

Janikowski's personal misfires, especially in his early U.S. days, could maybe be laid to language problems or poor understanding of American ways. But the young stud should've learned long before now. Surely there was some measure of Tallahassee education beyond placekicks and cocktails.

Chris Weinke, the 27-year-old quarterbacking elder of FSU's football colossus, showed up at Janikowski's bribery trial. Displaying support. Indicating that fellow 'Noles deeply care. But now, I'm sure, Weinke is disgusted and angry with his placekicking pal.

Has the kid now learned? Will this be the last major dumbo for Janikowski? Or will trouble mushroom to uglier heights when Seb gets a few hundred thousand American dollars in his account? Allowing faster cars, stronger alcohol and who knows what else? Seb should be sure to withdraw from the Ray Lewis School of Picking Friends.

Get him a psychiatrist.

Get him a caretaker.

Get him straight.

Or else.

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