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Madden: Raiders won't copy Patriots' game plan

Saturday, September 14, 2002

And now, a special Saturday edition of "Ask Mark Anything."

Q: What can I write for today's column when no single issue seems particularly compelling?

A: What about refreshing sports notes?

Once again, the sage wisdom provided by "Ask Mark Anything" solves the problem.

If Tommy Maddox didn't get on the field for garbage time at New England because Bill Cowher wanted Kordell Stewart to get more reps after being injured for much of the preseason, that's fine. But if Maddox didn't play because him posting a good performance would have manufactured a quarterback controversy that might bruise Stewart's fragile psyche, that's bad. Can you believe that Stewart is 29 and we're still discussing his fragile psyche? But, at this point, the Steelers have held Stewart's hand far too long. Like Peter Pan, Kordell will never really grow up.

Don't worry about Oakland mimicking New England's offensive scheme tomorrow night at Heinz Field. The Raiders don't use the shotgun formation, a necessary component of the no-huddle spread.

Don't worry about Bill Callahan outcoaching Bill Cowher tomorrow night, either. Callahan is beholden to the playbook left behind by Jon Gruden, now boss at Tampa Bay. He's also beholden to the whims of Al Davis, something Gruden refused to be. That makes Callahan the football equivalent of a substitute teacher, and we all know how ineffective they are. Callahan won't make any bold moves.

Larry Foote starting in place of the injured Kendrell Bell says a lot about the coaching staff's faith in the undersized rookie from Michigan. It also says a lot about the coaching staff's lack of faith in John Fiala, whose status as career backup now seems written in stone.

OK, so Wayne Gandy didn't really illegally proceed when the Steelers had first-and-goal at the 1 against New England. And maybe Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala pulled a bonehead move when he shoved Lawyer Milloy. But the real goat of that particular trip into the red zone was Plaxico Burress. Burress has got to get his feet down in the end zone.

Allen Iverson allegedly threatened someone with a gun. Darrell Russell allegedly videotaped a gang rape. Neither of those cases are even going to trial. Jerome Bettis hasn't got a worry in the world. Athletes are largely above the law. I don't know whether Bettis can ever get his good name back, though. Iverson and Russell took the precaution of losing their good names years ago.

If the media were going to use Bettis' name when reporting his sexual assault case, his accuser's name, should have used, too. Or, at the very least, Bettis' name should not have been used until charges were filed, which they won't be. It's just another example of women getting preferential treatment under the guise of equal treatment.

John Madden's regular-season debut on Monday Night Football got the exact same rating as last year's Monday Night Football regular-season debut. Maybe the American public isn't as dumb as I thought, which is more than I can say for Madden. And somewhere, Dennis Miller smiles.

Eric Crouch is a wimp. He didn't mind basking in collegiate football glory at Nebraska, but the minute things got tough in the pros, he retired. Listen, punk, you didn't retire. You have to accomplish something before you can say you retired. All you did was quit. Give back your Heisman.

Someone like Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich shouldn't be considered for the Heisman. If he were truly that good, he wouldn't be at Marshall. That was confirmed Thursday when Leftwich was rendered totally ineffective by Virginia Tech until garbage time set in with the Hokies up, 33-0.

I read where Mario Lemieux might start the season with Aleksey Morozov and Randy Robitaille on his wings. I can only assume that Lee Giffin and Steve Gatzos aren't available.

If Lemieux plays 60 games, and if Martin Straka gets back by Christmas, and if Alexei Kovalev remains healthy and happy, the Penguins will not only make the playoffs, but they'll finish in the top five of what looks to be a very weak Eastern Conference. And yes, those are a lot of big ifs.

If hard work alone can get you a roster spot, Eric Meloche is a lock to be on the Penguins' fourth line.

Baseball isn't on strike. But it's still OK to hate it. If you need a reason, check out this stunt by Boston Red Sox pseudo-star Manny Ramirez: The Red Sox recently honored the Worcester, Mass., team that won the Little League World Series. Each Worcester player accompanied his Red Sox counterpart to his position before the start of a game at Fenway Park ... except the Worcester left fielder, who jogged out to the Green Monster alone when Ramirez refused to participate in the ceremony. That's right, Ramirez showed up a 12-year-old kid. Major League Baseball: Winning the fans back one at a time.


Mark Madden is the host of a talk show from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays on WEAE-AM (1250).

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