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Monday, July 12, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Sideline Chatter
Wristwatch wrestler had comedic timing

By Dwight Perry
The Seattle Times

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Not many players can say they cashed in during the World Football League's ill-fated 1½-year existence in the early 1970s, but Birmingham Americans lineman Paul Costa did one night.

Americans players, to break the monotony of training camp, once staged an arm-wrestling competition. Running back Art Cantrelle was proving unbeatable, and his pile of betting cash kept growing as the evening wore on.

Costa, looking sleepy and disinterested, eventually wandered into the room, and onlookers goaded him into challenging the champ. Costa just shrugged, not even bothering to take off his wristwatch, and sat down.

As team trainer Drew Ferguson told the Birmingham News, during a 30-year reunion of the WFL's one and only championship team last weekend: "Costa was expressionless while the veins in Cantrelle's neck were bulging. Art was straining not to stand up.

"Then someone asked Costa, 'Paul, what time is it?'

"Bam! He slams Cantrelle's arm flat, looks at his watch and says, 'It's past curfew! I gotta go!'

"And he rakes up all the money and leaves."

Gotta pass Da Bills

With a sudden Republican vacancy in one state-senate race, some Illinois politicos are pushing for ex-Chicago Bear Mike Ditka to throw his helmet in the ring.
 
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Buddy Ryan, biding his time until Ditka gets the ultimate political calling, reportedly has first dibs on Secretary of Defense.

Devil's advocate

Former tennis star John McEnroe was once known as "The Brat." McEnroe's wife, Patty, was once married to musician Richard Hell.

Said reader Jim Barach, connecting the dots for the San Francisco Chronicle: "Only someone who has already gone through Hell could put up with McEnroe."

Bring in the stopper

If you happen to know of a baseball team in need of promotional gimmicks as its season is going down the toilet, here's an idea:

The minor-league Birmingham Barons, teaming up with Roto-Rooter, will reward 1,500 lucky fans on July 30 with "Plunger Giveaway Night."

Talking the talk

• Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, on the highlights of his big-league playing career: "I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets."

• Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun, on the Boston Bruins' Joe Thornton becoming the first of likely many players to sign overseas as a hedge against an NHL lockout: "Any chance CBC will bring us 'Hockey Night in Switzerland' on Saturday nights?"

• Jack Nicklaus, in the Chicago Tribune in 1988, when a gushing reporter asked him to share the secret of his uncanny ability to negotiate a golf course: "The holes are numbered."

• Bill Scheft of Sports Illustrated, on the celebration in Tampa after the Devil Rays became the first team in baseball history to reach .500 after being 18 games under: "Lou Piniella was seen kicking a party hat."

Just wondering

Are the baseball gods really Ken Griffey Jr. fans, or are they just pulling his leg?

Dwight Perry: 206-464-8250 or dperry@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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