Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on September 3, 2000 · Page 119
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 119

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Chicago, Illinois
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Sunday, September 3, 2000
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Page 119
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WBMim Sunday, September 3, 2000 Section 3 Wild Cubs walk 11, force in 5 Giants. Page 3. NASCAR, Gordon (right) hint at boycott. Page Kournikova ousted from U.S. Open. Page 13. Skip Bayless In the wake of the news -13; '-,- Sox's Us lave it (: "'"V This Culpepper backer isn't backing down 'm fighting mixed emotions Sunday I am certainly not a Vikings fan. But as you might remember, I was a Daunte Culpepper fan before the 1999 NFL draft. I tried to do my homework on Central Florida quarterback Culpepper. I was told the Vikings had him No. 1 on their draft board and that Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy was so taken by Culpepper's arm, touch, size, speed, maturity and football IQ that he was trying to trade over the Bears at No. 5 to land Culpepper. John Wooten, who blocked for Jim Brown and scouted for Dallas, Philadelphia and Baltimore, told me: "This is the most impressive young man I've been around since Ernie Davis. Great character and temperament. He could take the quarterback position to another level." Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton had just joined the Bears from Louisiana Tech, where he had twice coached against Culpepper. Crowton said: "He's so big (now 266 pounds) and fast that our defensive backs were afraid to tackle him." I heard that several members of the Bears' scouting and coaching staffs favored Culpepper but that personnel director Mark Hatley had his heart set on UCLA's Cade McNown. The call was strictly Hatley's. He's a country boy from the Texas panhandle, a former undersized linebacker who coached defense at TCU and Baylor. McNown was just the kind of pepperpot competitor Hatley had always admired from across the line an undersized linebacker of a QB. But USC's Paul Hackett, one of football's most respected QB coaches and a favorite of Joe Montana's, told me he wasn't a big fan of sidearmer McNown. Not enough deep-out velocity, overall accuracy, height or pocket poise. Terrific college QB, but about as good as he'll get. Finally, two agents who failed to acquire McNown as a client told me he had a behind-the-scenes reputation for being a cocky little jerk who occasionally alienated teammates. So I wrote that Hatley would make his biggest career mistake by far if he didn't take Culpepper. McNown, I said, wasn't bad. But while he'll always be scrambling to get a team into the playoffs, Culpepper could eventually take you back to 1985. Of course, Hatley traded down to No. 12, adroitly acquiring picks that turned into D'Wayne Bates, Warrick Holdman, Jerry Wisne, Khari Samuel and Dustin Lyman. Minnesota gleefully took Culpepper at 11. Hatley gleefully took McNown at 12. Last season I took a beating from Bears fans. Playing in 15 of 16 games and starting six, McNown had his bombs-away moments. He threw 235 passes, completing 127, eight for touchdowns. Culpepper looked lost in brief exhibition-game stints and didn't throw a single regular-season pass. Vikings coach Dennis Green tried to talk Dan Marino into playing one more season, then handed the job to Culpepper. Green basically handed his job to Culpepper too. It's said to be on the line. The first surprise came when Culpepper won over two of the NFL's most outspoken QB critics, Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Culpepper asked to attend their off-season camp and impressed them with his work ethic and humility Then Culpepper pleasantly shocked Vikings fans by displaying far more calm command during exhibitions than battle-tested backup Bubby Brister. Culpepper has a velvet cannon for an arm, throwing underneath as effectively as he goes deep. He completed 43-of-74 five TDs, three interceptions and ran for 109 yards on 10 carries. Carter, who initially complained he was too old (34) to break in a new QB, now says: "In three years we'll all laugh about how we ever had any doubts." No, Culpepper didn't see many preseason blitzes. Yes, Carter and Moss could turn on him at the drop of a, well, Hatley. But now Bears fans get a first look at what could be their worst nightmare. Believe it or not, I'm rooting for McNown. Everything I write about the Bears is in the spirit of hoping they'll get better. Shane Matthews and Jim Miller threw coming-out parties on the Vikings last season. Now McNown should. Here is his silver-platter opportunity to begin proving he can do more than panic and fling prayers occasionally answered by Marcus Robinson. This team and coaching staff still aren't sold on his leadership ability. This time McNown should outplay Culpepper, who should make first-start mistakes. But in the long run? If I'm wrong, I'll gladly take my crow with salt and Culpopper. More than evr, I fear I'm not. ms Irish, Illini get acts together in 2nd half I D L . TiK.,,- " .',."-..,'4 r- ;. -i ' ;infi 1" ' , , r i." .. ....!' v:;,;-i --Sir JY .. .. - If i ii in nt i -i i i ' ii i liTi i in if n nil i ii fiirtin imiiiii ii imi tnMt ri-rr ' r -nil" ' " Tribune photo by John Lee Dan O'Leary (86) watches teammate Joey Getherall score Notre Dame's first TD in Saturday's 24-10 victory over Texas A&M. Notre Dame gets in tune for Nebraska By Malcolm Moran Tribune Staff Writer SOUTH BEND, Ind.-They admitted the start had been ragged, an understandable problem for a football team that had Notre Dame 24 gone far too long with no positive Texas A&M 10 reinforcement. When the moment finally arrived for Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon, the Fighting Irish acknowledged that they had strayed from the script. But by the end, with the old feeling back, the Irish functioned in concert the way they knew they could. They were talking about the song, not the game. The rules are simple for the young people beneath those gold helmets. You'd better go to class, and you sing the Victory March only when you win. The Irish revived that tradi- Tribune photo by Bonnie Trafelet Illinois QB Kurt Kittner (left) congratulates Greg Lewis after the first of his three TD catches. INSIDE Morrissey: Davie's future remains iffy. Page 9 Toledo makes point, routs Penn State. Page 11 See Irish, Paof. 8 UCLA surprises third-ranked Alabama. Page 12 r . ?1 3 Tllini as hnt as the weather in Champaign By Gary Reinmuth Tribune Staff Writer CHAMPAIGN Just for fun, somebody stuck a thermometer into the Memorial Stadium turf Saturday. The mercury kept ris- 1 Illinois 35 ing until it regis- tered a sizzling 128 Middle Tenn. 6 degrees. The weatherman said the air temperature was 94, the heat index 104. All that was nothing, though, compared to the heat generated by the dancing feet of tailbacks Antoineo Harris and Rocky Harvey and flanker Greg Lewis in Illinois' tough but convincing 35-6 season-opening rout of Middle Tennessee State. Before the game, Illini fans rocked to the sounds of Kool & the Gang. During the game, they rocked to the moves of Harris, who ran 21 times for 128 yards and an 11-yard touchdown; See Illinois, Page 9 Johnson in7th heaven Career night is mixed blessing ; By Bill Jauss : Tribune Staff Writer All hitters love to have a big u ning with lots of hitting and scon ing. Charles Johnson of the White Sox is no exception. But Johnson also is a catches He has his pitchers' best interests at heart. Saturday, on the night he set a personal high White Sox 13 Angels 6 of seven runs batted in in the Sox's 13-6 victory over the Anaheim Angels, Johnson saw a downside to the last half of the fifth inning when the Sox sent 10 men to the plate, had five hits and scored five runs to take a 10-0 lead. "I really hate long innings as far as my pitchers are con-cerned," said Johnson. "They have to sit, and their bodies get cold. Sometimes it's hard fttf them to get back on track and focus when they come out to pitch again. "I'm not making excuses, but maybe that's what happened tonight to Jim Parque." After five innings, winning pitcher Parque (11-6) was on track to share hero-of-the-game honors with his batterymate. Parque went into the sixth with a 10-0 lead, a two-hit shutout and four strikeouts, including Mo Vaughn twice. But Parque walked the first three batters he faced in the sixth. That gave him five walks for the night and 28 in his last 32 innings. And it brought manager Jerry Manuel to the mound to replace Parque with Mark Buehrle. Manuel agreed with Johnson that Parque's long time on the bench in the last of the fifth inning may have contributed to his wildness in the top of the sixth. "When we have long innings at bat, pitchers are going to have to learn how to come out and adjust," said Manuel. "Jim's been a good pitcher for us for the most part. He's struggling. He just has to sustain a little longer." Asked if he lost his touch during the long inning on the bench, See Sox, Page 2 O O O- THE 2000 SUMMER GAMES Cellblock cornermen c. - i t Tribune photos by Stacey Wescott Earl Good's nickname is "Mongoose," bestowed on him, he says, by the legendary light-heavyweight Archie Moore. i Michael Bennett will represent not only America, but also the dreams of his boxing mentors. By Michael Hirsley Tribune Staff Writer Rehabilitation is the narrowest and most difficult path out of prison. Recidivism, the trip that becomes a U-turn back to the cellblock, is the broader and more traveled road. Michael Bennett has stayed on the route less traveled since he was released from Hill Correctional Center in Ga-lesburg, 111., on July 28, 1998. He has followed it to the threshold of the Olympics. He earned a college degree in general education while in the penitentiary. But his rehabilitation was shaped in a different "classroom," learning a manual skill that is as violent as it is scientific. Where there once were teams of practicioners and instructors, boxing has been dropped from Illinois prison programs. Bennett's teachers were three inmates convicted of murder or attempted murder and serving sentences See Cornermen, Page 16 I - J f f -i V. - I ir- : . ' I , -i 1 ;.' , ' h ' V ' 5 MM,l.,.m.,,,,,,wltliMw,im.nw

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