Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

June 15-29, 2005

Issue #77

  .........................Buffalo's Best Fiend

Free to Agree
Sensenbrenner's Sensibilities

by Allan Uthman

Gettin' Rucky in Pyongyang
Kim Jong Il gets his fleak on
by Matt Taibbi
Dean Was Right
Hey Howard, Keep Up the Good Jerk
by William Pitt

Throat Job
Newsweek Still Gagging on Unnamed Sources

by Matt Taibbi


8-Step Summer Makeover
by Dan Devine


Goth Kid's Summer Survival Guide
It's not fun for everyone

Hallmarks of Summer
What makes Buffalo summers so darn special?


The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime

Sports Desk
Sporting News

Lake Erie Surfin'
People Really Do This

Cover Page
Buffalo in Briefs
Page 3
Blind Date Scenario
Kino Korner - Movies
[sic] - Your Letters
The BEAST Blog


ISSUE#77PDF FILE (right-click & "save target")


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by Matt Higgins



NFL Going to Pot

It will be high times in Miami again real soon if running back Ricky Williams returns to the Dolphins. The team most despised by Bills fans fell far in 2004 (4-12) after Williams retired rather than face a one-year suspension for testing positive for marijuana—a third time. Williams simply walked away from a multi-million dollar contract before last season, then traveled to India and Australia, and studied holistic medicine in California.

Now Williams wants to return to Miami, according to his agent Leigh Steinberg. Probably something to do with a judge’s ruling that Williams owes the Dolphins $8.6 million for breach of contract. In order to be reinstated, however, he will have to prove he’s cannabis-free and serve a four-game suspension.

I was assigned to interview Williams after New Orleans traded him to Miami prior to the 2002 season. Some hanger-on who played video games with NFL players was supposed to set it up, but weeks went by and all he provided were excuses. My editor threatened to cancel the story, and the fixer finally admitted that the NFL star was in a “deep drug haze.” What? I had a good laugh imagining Williams in a stupor somewhere, and wrote him off. But a few days later he called and gave a thoughtful interview. Then during his first season in Miami, he rushed for 1,853 yards and 16 TDs.

In a related matter, Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith has been suspended for the entire 2005 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy a third time. On April 21, Smith was busted at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with vials of dried urine and “The Original Whizzinator” in his luggage. He said it belonged to his “cousin,” but the NFL was skeptical given Smith’s history, which includes getting booted out of the University of Tennessee for testing positive for weed. All of which is a blow to the Vikes; Smith led the team in rushing (544 yards) during 2004 even though he missed four games for violating the NFL’s, you guessed it, drug policy.

I guess the moral of this story is that although there is ample anecdotal evidence that pot makes people stupid, it may not necessarily affect productivity. The ganja fuss seems unwarranted, however, since it’s definitely not a performance-enhancing drug, unless you’re a musician.

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The Bills recently unveiled a third “throwback” jersey and helmet that recalls the team’s 1964-65 season. The old-school design is a 40th anniversary celebration of the Bills AFL Championship, and more important a ploy to crowbar more dollars from die-hard fans who will wear this sort of thing to games and dress-down Fridays. The Sabres, too, have a plan to return to the gold, blue, and white that defined the team from 1970 to 1996. That is, if the NHL ever resumes. Of course the Sabres marketing department has mucked up its throwback scheme by not waiting long enough before switching. After all, who’s going to buy an old-school sweater when, as everyone who’s been to HSBC Arena lately already knows, most die hard fans are still walking around in their original Mike Foligno jerseys.



Russert Bobblehead Very Agreeable

A season record 13,220 fans turned out at Dunn Tire Park June 5 for a Bisons’ game, and 4,000 of the luckiest were awarded a free Tim Russert bobblehead doll. The South Buffalo native, NBC News Washington Bureau Chief, and host of “Meet The Press”, threw out the game’s first pitch, and by all accounts sang a stirring “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch. The bobblehead likeness feature a dry erase board that reads, “Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo,” and is amazingly lifelike, even nodding obsequiously when George Bush lies and says all records related to his service in the National Guard had been released in 2000.

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NHL Games Pre-empted by Spelling Bee

It was bad enough that the NHL missed the entire 2004-05 season due to a lockout over terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. But then the cash-strapped league lost a $60 million TV deal with ESPN for broadcast rights during the 2005-06 season. And now big-time sponsors such as Ford, Molson Coors, and Sony have threatened to pull advertising money.

Under the ESPN deal, each team was to receive $2 million. The Sabres won’t miss the money, according to managing partner Larry Quinn. "ESPN (pulling out of negotiations) didn't register with me at all,” he told The Buffalo News. “I'm not worried about it.

"Sixty-million bucks was $2 million a team. If we're worried about $2 million a team, we're looking at it completely the wrong way,” Quinn continued. “I think we should be looking at a national TV contract of $400 million, not $60 million. I think we can get there. I really do."

That is big talk from a confused man. Wasn’t the whole lockout about a small chunk of change, Quinn? I mean, how much does each team stand to save under the salary cap structures being bandied about right now – an average of $10 million? Worse, cable TV doesn’t want your league at $60 million, Quinn! Which other network would ever offer you $400 million?

Even the terminally myopic leadership of both the players’ union and the NHL recognize that they are at a critical stage of negotiations. As a result, bargaining has evolved and a deal could happen soon – in time to save next season. Not, however, in time to nab $60 million or to prevent usurpation on ESPN by grade-school spelling bees. How do you spell “Clueless?” Q-U-I-N-N!

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Pre-Cambrian Discovery: Boxing Causes Brain Damage

Joe Mesi’s brain scan is like a Rorschach Ink Test – some see death; some see brain damage; and Mesi and his old man see a future of fame and riches, as Baby Joe becomes heavyweight champ of the world.

On June 9, Mesi got caught with a shot he didn’t see coming – the Nevada State Athletic Commission unanimously rejected his appeal to have the suspension of his boxing license lifted. One official told Mesi, “It is the job of your handlers and your trainers to protect you. Maybe, at the end of the day, it’s the job of this commission to throw in the towel for you when nobody else will.” Mesi, however, is not done fighting. He is willing to risk death for a title shot, and penury in order to pay uber attorney Paul Cambria and five expensive yes-doctors to appeal the commission’s decision.

The background: Mesi suffered three brain bleeds during a March 2004 fight with Vasiliy Jirov. The Town of Tonawanda native was battered during the last round and barely on his feet at the final bell. As a result, his boxing license was suspended in Nevada, and federal law requires that it be upheld in every other state.

Brain bleeds are the No. 1 cause of death among boxers, but Cambria’s legal strategy has been to claim that there’s no proof that someone who’s had brain bleeds in the past is at greater risk to have them again. He fails to point out that’s because those who have them are either dead or forced to retire. Cambria also claims that the burden of proof lies with the state if it intends to take away Baby Joe’s right to earn a living.

Living? Dying? What’s the difference? Cambria intends to appeal the commission’s decision. And Mesi has vowed: “They’re going to have to let me box.” If they do, Mesi just might have the stuff to win a world title, because right now the heavyweight division is in shambles. For example…

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Mike Tyson has promised to retire after throwing in the towel following the sixth round of his recent fight with Kevin McBride, an unheralded heavyweight only slightly stronger than a tall glass of Guinness.

Tyson has now lost three of his last four fights versus two dented tomato cans – and Lennox Lewis -- and his days of terrifying other boxers are long gone. With his facial tattoo and high-pitched lisp he will have to settle for scaring the shit out of women and small children.

In his prime, Tyson devastated the best heavyweight boxers. He electrified fans, winning a world title in 1986 by knocking out Trevor Berbick in two rounds, and becoming the youngest champ ever at age 20. Perhaps, though, he will be best remembered for having served three years in prison for rape during the mid 1990s, and for biting off a piece of heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield’s ear during a 1997 bout.

After his defeat to McBride, Tyson said, “I most likely won’t fight anymore. I’m not going to disrespect the sport by losing to this caliber of fighters.” Yes, Mike, don’t persist. You would only sully the good image of boxing that you’ve done so much to promote.

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