Will Infamous SI Jinx End Winning Streak?

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Daly

The Redskins must have mixed emotions about being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. After all, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch was featured the previous week, and his Heisman Trophy hopes quickly went poof.

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Fortunately, none of the Redskins is in the running for the Heisman.

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The SI jinx can be traced to the magazine's first issue in 180 A.D., when it made Maximus its cover boy before his gladiatorial grudge match against Commodus.

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FYI: The Snydermen aren't the only football team to lose their first five games this season, then turn around and win their next five. North Texas did the same thing - and is going to the inaugural New Orleans Bowl as champ of the Sun Belt Conference.

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It's eerie how many other connections there are between the Redskins and Mean Green. For instance:

*The Redskins allowed 144 points in their first five games (scoring 32). North Texas gave up 145 (scoring 56).

*The Redskins are led by Marty Schottenheimer, who used to coach the Kansas City Chiefs. The Mean Green are led by Darrell Dickey, who used to quarterback at Kansas State.

*The Redskins' David Terrell and Dickey were at UTEP together. Terrell played safety for the Miners, and Dickey was an offensive assistant.

*The Redskins have a defensive lineman named DeLoach (Jerry). North Texas has a defensive coordinator named DeLoach (Gary).

*Both teams have retired No. 33. Sammy Baugh wore it for the Redskins, and Ray Renfro (later a Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns) wore it for the Mean Green. (Note: North Texas has also retired the number 28 - made famous by Abner Haynes, one of the early stars of the American Football League. The Redskins may retire the number, too, when Darrell Green hangs 'em up.)

*Both teams lost eight times last season - and had identical results in their final three games (two losses, then a win).

(I feel like I'm comparing the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations or something. Still, there are an amazing number of similarities, you have to admit.) * * *

Carolina and Jacksonville made the conference title game in their second season. Cleveland is in contention for a playoff berth in its third. The pressure is definitely going to be on Charley Casserly in Houston.

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News item: ABC's remake of "Brian's Song" to air at 7 tonight.

Comment: What's next, "Something for Joey II"?

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A much better use of your time is NFL Films' "The Game of Their Lives," a documentary on pro football in the '50s that will premiere Tuesday at 10 p.m. on HBO.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm in it.

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Seriously, the '50s were a fascinating decade in pro football, maybe the best. Offenses opened up, speed became a bigger part of the game and players were never rougher or tougher. The program looks at the period unblinkingly, splicing together great action footage with comments by Art Donovan, Chuck Bednarik, Sam Huff and even movie star Jane Russell (ex-wife of Hall of Famer Bob Waterfield). Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

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ESPN.com polled its readers last week on the best quotes from sports movies. The Top 10 included Tom Hanks' "There's no crying in baseball" scene in "A League of Their Own" and Kevin Costner's "I believe in . . ." soliloquy in "Bull Durham," both worthy choices. …