Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 21, 1998

L’Observateur / March 21, 1998

A few random thoughts before the Sweet 16 tips off on the tube.

* Much has been made about salaries in the NBA and major league baseball.

But what about the skyrocketing deals being signed by NFL players.

Warren Sapp signed a six-year, $36 million contract extension this week with Tampa Bay, making him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. Sapp is a pretty good player but few would acknowledge that he isthe best defensive player in the game right now. Just think what PeytonManning and Ryan Leaf will now command when they sign their first paychecks.

To put it in perspective, Pat Swilling caused a stir a few years back when he signed a million dollar contract for three years. And some players stillsay that the new television contracts have not affected salaries.

* It is often commented that the final seconds of a close basketball game seem to take forever. Just ask the UCLA Lady Bruins. (Somebody needs toput a sign up on the Alabama border – “Now entering Alabama. Please setyour clocks back .8 seconds.”)* Hey, Panthers, remember Sam Mills and Wesley Walls? How does it feel to be on the other side of New Orleans-Carolina shuttle? For once, it was the Saints doing some nifty work with incentive clauses.

* A Jerry Tarkanian-coached team in trouble again? Why that happens about as often as an upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

* It looks like you can go home again. Clyde Drexler, an University ofHouston alumnus, is returning to lead the Cougars as head coach.

Hopefully, he will bring back memories of Phi Slama Jama, one of the most exciting teams in recent history.

* I have to laugh when people say that Tiger Woods is in a slump because he has not won a PGA Tour event since July. All he has done this year is win$500,000 and place second in scoring average. And it is not like he ischoking in the final round. Woods has the lowest scoring average onSundays on the tour.

When people were predicting that Woods would dominate the tour, they overlooked that there are a number of great players in the PGA, perhaps the finest group of players to play at one time from top to bottom. Andjust give Woods time. The Tiger Woods Invitational (a.k.a. The Masters) isjust a few weeks away.

* There is an excellent article in The Sporting News this week on the Detroit Lions’ trainers who saved Reggie Brown’s life last December. Itwas good to see team trainers, whose work on and off the field is invaluable, finally get the recognition they deserve.

* I still think Kentucky will win the national championship this year but in my heart I am cheering for Valparaiso.

* Finally, good bye Risen Star. You were an honor to the city of New Orleansand will be missed.

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