The 2008 Hooties are Out!

From the pages of the Austin (TX) American-Statesman, Dec. 26, 2008.  Ya gotta love it!


Mark Duncan
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Astute lip readers could see LeBron James uttering an expletive to his mother.


Tony Gutierrez
ASSOCIATED PRESS

After Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones’ numerous run-ins with the law, the Cowboys hired a security detail to keep the troubled cornerback out of trouble. That worked well – until Jones got in a fight with one of his own bodyguards.


Seth Wenig
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A YouTube video surfaced showing Josh Howard dissing the national anthem while it was being played.


David Karp
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Plaxico Burress was arrested after shooting himself in the leg in a New York nightclub.


COURTESY AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT

Cedric Benson’s June 7, 2008 mug shot.


COURTESY AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT

Cedric Benson’s May 3, 2008 mug shot.

2008 HOOTIE AWARDS

Our annual awards for sports stupidity

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, December 26, 2008

We usually scour the world to compile our annual Hootie Awards for stupidity and absurdity in sports.

This year, we didn’t even need to leave the state.

In Dallas, the Cowboys’ troublesome Pacman Jones got in a fight with his own bodyguard, the Stars suspended Sean Avery for using some, um, sloppy language when discussing his ex-girlfriend, and Josh Howard caused embarrassment for the Mavericks with his stance on the national anthem (and with his penchant for pot – and his drag-racing arrest – and his birthday party for himself while his team was losing in the playoffs).

In Houston, a hunter was shot by his own dog, and Astros fans were probably wanting to shoot baseball’s commissioner after his hurricane relocation plan sent their playoff hopes right down the drain.

Here in Austin, the Longhorns were redfaced over a player’s Facebook page and a coach’s stepson running onto the field. Cedric Benson spent the summer clearing his name — and looking for a new team – after being subjected to a pair of Paul Revere arrests: oneth by land, twoeth by sea.

Yes, stupidity continued to abound in 2008.

College football brought us the recruit who wasn’t really a recruit, the coach who fired his own son and a handful of banner-bearing airplanes buzzing the stadiums of the Big 12.

And then there was Chad Johnson, who gave himself a new name that was really a number; LeBron James, who cussed out his mother; and Plaxico Burress, who accidentally shot himself.

Those are just a few our esteemed nominees this year. For the full accounting of the year in sports infamy, read on.


THIS TIME, WE SHALL RENAME HIM HIT-MAN JONES

After Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones’ numerous run-ins with the law, the Cowboys hired a security detail to keep the troubled cornerback out of trouble. That worked well – until Jones got in a fight with one of his own bodyguards.

THEIR RELATIONSHIP WAS ON THIN ICE

The NHL suspended Sean Avery , above, of the Dallas Stars not for some violence on the ice, but for making an off-color remark. Before a game in Alberta, he called the media together and made a dig at Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf, who is dating Avery’s ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, inset. “I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds,” he said. Video

SPECIAL DELIVERY FOR MACK BROWN’S STEPSON

Two parachutists jumped from their airplane with the game ball for the University of North Carolina’s season-opening football game. Problem was, they landed in Duke University’s football stadium by mistake.

TAKE ME OUT AT THE BALLGAME …

When pitcher Julio Castillo of the Single-A Peoria Chiefs hit the first two batters of the game, one of them in the head, and then threw at the third, the benches emptied in a brawl between the Chiefs and the Dayton Dragons. Castillo, it seemed, had one more pitch left in him. Amid the melee, he threw a ball toward the Dragons’ dugout – but missed and struck a fan in the stands. The fan had to be treated at a hospital, and Castillo was hit with a felony charge of assault by Dayton police. Video

YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT HE DOES DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard had a busy year. He created a stir in the spring by talking openly about his ongoing use of marijuana. Then he angered his coach when he threw a birthday party for himself in the midst of a playoff series that his team was losing. Next, he was arrested in July when police said he was drag racing at 94 mph in a 55 zone. Finally, a YouTube video surfaced showing him dissing the national anthem while it was being played. “‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is going on right now,” he said on the video. “I don’t even celebrate that (expletive). I’m black.” Video

HEY, THEY’RE JUST TRYING TO BE THE NEXT JOSH HOWARD

Rookies Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley were fined by the NBA after flunking out of a league-sponsored symposium designed to help new players handle-off-the-court issues. They were caught violating the symposium’s rules by having women in their room, which also reeked of the smell of marijuana.

THEY PULLED OFF THE OL’ QUARTERBACK SNEAK

During a playoff game between the Giants and Cowboys, TV cameras caught a glimpse of Jessica Simpson, the singer and girlfriend of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. But it wasn’t the real Jessica. Instead, it was a Romo-jersey-wearing lookalike hired by the New York Post newspaper to possibly distract Romo. Given the final score – Giants 21, Cowboys 17 – it apparently worked.

WATCH ME PULL A SCHOLARSHIP OUT OF THIS HAT

When offensive lineman Kevin Hart decided to announce his decision to accept a football scholarship from Cal, it was such a big event that his school in Fernley, Nev., held an assembly to hear the news. Two TV stations showed up and watched Hart pick up a Cal cap over one from Oregon. The only problem was that neither Cal or Oregon had actually offered a scholarship or even recruited Hart.

Hart filed a police report suggesting he was duped by someone impersonating the school’s coaches; then, a few days later, he admitted to making up the entire story. Video

THERE GOES THAT NICE FATHER’S DAY GIFT

After a poor year by the Virginia Cavaliers’ offense, head football coach Al Groh, above, decided to fire his offensive coordinator – who also happened to be his son, Mike.

WHERE’S AL GROH WHEN YOU REALLY NEED HIM?

The Texas Longhorns appeared to have made a momentum-changing fumble recovery during the Holiday Bowl.

But before the loose ball could be picked up by a player, several members of the Longhorns’ sideline staff excitedly wandered onto the field, and one of them – coach Mack Brown’s stepson – was flagged for illegally touching the ball. The ball reverted back to Arizona State, which scored a touchdown on the next play. Video

HE WASN’T SAYING, ‘HI, MOM’

After Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics intentionally fouled her son on a fast break, LeBron James’ mother – in the parlance of the times – got up in Pierce’s face. Astute lip readers could see James uttering an expletive to his mother. “I told her to sit down, in some language that I shouldn’t have used,” James said. “Thank God today wasn’t Mother’s Day.” Right. It was the day after Mother’s Day. Video

HEY, HOUSTON, THIS BUD’S FOR YOU

The Houston Astros had won six in a row and 14 of their last 15 – and the only things that could stop them were Hurricane Ike, the Chicago Cubs and commissioner Bud Selig. With the hurricane bearing down on Houston, Selig, below, stepped in and moved the Astros’ next two home games against the Cubs to a supposedly neutral field in Milwaukee. Thousands of Cubs fans made the short drive from Chicago, while the sleep-deprived Astros made the flight from Houston after trying to arrange for their families and houses to ride out the storm.

The Cubs swept the two games, including a no-hitter by Carlos Zambrano, above, to start a five-game losing streak that sunk Houston’s season like, well, a hurricane.

BY JUST WINGING IT WITH THE PLANE TRUTH, THEY HOPED TO AIR THEIR GRIEVANCES AND PROPEL THEIR TEAMS TO GREAT HEIGHTS

Passes weren’t the only things flying around Big 12 stadiums this year. With the Big 12 South football race headed toward a controversial three-way tie, University of Texas fans hired a plane to circle Stillwater, Okla., where the rival Oklahoma Sooners were playing that day, with a banner celebrating Texas’ 45-35 victory over Oklahoma earlier in the season. One week later, a banner-pulling plane advising Texas coach Mack Brown to “quit whining” was spotted circling Austin for two hours, above.

Days later, another plane buzzed the Big 12 championship game in Kansas City, reminding the Oklahoma and Missouri teams that the Longhorns had defeated them both.

HE’LL JUST HIRE A PLANE NEXT TIME

Two Austin radio stations ran with the news breaking out of Oklahoma: Two Sooner football players had been arrested on drug charges. But the story wasn’t true. It had been made up by a Nebraska football fan and posted on the Internet to look like a news story from the Daily Oklahoman newspaper.

The publisher of the newspaper wasn’t amused and filed a copyright lawsuit against the man who posted the story – a man who happened to be an employee of the University of Texas and operator of a Web site called http://www.darthhusker.com.

THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL (BUT THERE SURE IS A LOT OF CURSING)

Seattle Mariners manager John McLaren, below, was (expletive) tired of (expletive) losing games. So he told us how he (expletive) felt about it. Here’s his own (expletive) words. “We’re playing our (expletive) off every day and got nothing to show for it. I’m tired of (expletive) losing. I’m tired of getting my (expletive) beat, and so are those guys. We’ve got to change this (expletive) (expletive) around. Get after it, and only we can do it. The fans are (expletive) off, and I’m (expletive) off, and the players are (expletive) off. And that’s the way it is. There’s no (expletive) easy way out of this. Can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to (expletive) buckle it up and get after it. I’m tired of (expletive) losing (expletive) every night, and we bust our (expletive). It’s got to be a total (expletive) effort to turn this thing around, and that’s it.”

(Expletive) right. Video

SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS AT A MARINERS PRESS CONFERENCE

Broadcaster Dana Jacobson was suspended for a week from her ESPN show after getting a little tipsy at a celebrity roast and, with the Notre Dame coach in attendance, declaring, “(Expletive) Notre Dame. (Expletive) Touchdown Jesus. (Expletive) Jesus!” Among those not amused was the Christian Defense Coalition, which picketed outside ESPN’s offices.

NO WONDER HE LOBBIED FOR A PLAYOFF

When presidential candidate Barack Obama, above, came to Austin to debate Hillary Clinton, he decided to make a stop at the true power center of Texas politics. The Texas Capitol? The Governor’s Mansion? Nope, Mack Brown’s office.

THERE’S A JOKE HERE ABOUT POOL CUES AND BILLIARD BALLS BUT WE’RE JUST NOT GONNA GO THERE

A German national champion was suspended after testing positive for a masking agent for the banned blood-booster EPO. Did we mention his sport? He’s a billiards player.

SPELLING ‘WISCONSIN’ TOOK TOO MANY GUYS, ANYWAY

The sportsmanship committee of Wisconsin’s high school athletics governing body recommended banning fans with bare or painted chests from indoor games. In the end, the governing body, um, backed off.

THAT’S WHAT WE CALL TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens applied for a trademark for the phrase, “I love me some me.”

MAYBE HE SHOULD BLAME IT ON HIS DOG

New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress was charged with illegally possessing a weapon after that weapon accidentally discharged and shot Burress in the leg at a nightclub.

MAYBE THE DOG SHOULD BLAME IT ON PLAXICO

A Houston-area man was killed in an accidental shooting while hunting. His shotgun had fired from the back of his pickup – after his dog stepped on the trigger. Investigators found the dog’s paw prints on the gun.

WAIT TILL I GET YOUR HANES ON ME

When the Detroit Lions informed running back Tatum Bell that he was being cut in favor of the newly acquired Rudi Johnson, Bell, left, got back at his successor. He was caught on videotape taking Johnson’s luggage from the locker room. Johnson soon recovered the two Gucci bags but not the contents. “I got the bags back – empty,” he said. “So he’s got a bunch of my underclothes. What he’s going to do with that, I don’t know. He’s got some socks and boxers.”

THE REAL A-ROD WOULD’VE SWATTED THAT BIRD RIGHT OUT OF THE AIR (UNLESS IT WAS DURING THE PLAYOFFS, WHEN HE WOULD’VE SWUNG AND MISSED)

A red-tailed hawk living in Fenway Park swooped down and sunk its talons into a 13-year-old girl who was touring the home of the Boston Red Sox. Of all the middle school students on the tour, the only one attacked was Alexa Rodriguez – known as A-Rod to her friends. Video

IT WAS EITHER THAT OR SIC A HAWK ON HIM

A Massachusetts man was charged with beating a vacationing New Yorker in Cape Cod with an aluminum baseball bat because he thought he was a Yankees fan.

CAN HE GET KICKED OFF THE TEAM? YES, HE CAN

The Texas Longhorns dismissed their backup center from the team after he posted a racially charged comment and veiled threat about Obama on his Facebook page on election night.

THEY’LL BE FRIENDS WHEN PIGS FLY

Several high school swimmers in Iowa were suspended after they impaled 15 car antennas with fetal pigs and smeared crawfish on hoods and windshields in their rival school’s parking lot. It was justified, of course.

After all, the rival swimmers had lobbed snowballs at them.

HE THOUGHT IT WAS DEERLY DEPARTED

A Missouri hunter was pretty pleased after bagging a nine-point buck. The buck, however, wasn’t pleased, nor was he dead. The deer rose up, knocked the hunter down and attacked with its antlers in what the veteran hunter called “15 seconds of hell.” The story has a happy ending, though (unless you’re the deer). The deer ran a short distance before falling down, at which point the bloodied hunter finished it off with two more shots.

THEY HUNG THEMSELVES

Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman was engaged in a little on-air banter about what Tiger Woods’ competitors could do to defeat the world’s top golfer when she offered this suggestion: “Lynch him in a back alley.” Golfweek magazine added fuel to the controversy when its coverage of the story featured a drawing of a noose on its cover. Video

THOSE WHO CANNOT LEARN FROM HISTORY …

Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson began celebrating his 61-yard touchdown reception a little early, tossing the ball aside as he crossed the goal line. Officials ruled the play a fumble, saying he dropped the ball at the 1.

Unfortunately for Jackson, above, it was his second such premature celebration. In a high school all-star game four years earlier, he broke free for a long run and tried to cap it by making a showy flying flip while approaching the goal line – only to land at the 1. Video

HOW ‘BOUT OCHO LOCO INSTEAD?

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, No. 85 in your program, legally changed his last name to “Ocho Cinco” so that he could wear his nickname on the back of his jersey.

HE WAS TRYING TO CEMENT HIS PLACE IN HISTORY

A fan of the Boston Red Sox who also happened to be a construction worker building the new Yankee Stadium buried a Boston jersey in concrete being poured for the stadium in an effort to curse the rival team. Yankees officials unearthed the jersey, cleaned it up and sold it on eBay for $175,500 – and donated the proceeds to the Red Sox’s official team charity. Video

GUESS THAT’S WHAT YOU CALL A DEAD GIVEAWAY

The Grand Prairie AirHogs minor-league baseball team came up with a well-grounded promotion: One fan won an all-expense paid funeral as part of its “All Hogs Go to Heaven” night at the ballpark. The winner was a 60-year-old wearing a neck brace who’d undergone about 20 surgeries. “God still has me around for a reason,” she said. “To win a funeral.”

SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE (WITHOUT THE SEX)

The day before the New England Patriots played in the Super Bowl (and lost), the Boston Herald reported that the team had secretly videotaped the St. Louis Rams’ practice before their Super Bowl matchup six years earlier. Three months later, the newspaper said its story was in error and issued an apology under the headline, “Sorry, Pats.”

HE THOUGHT HE COULD, BUT THEY THOUGHT HE COULDN’T

Fired Syracuse football coach Greg Robinson used his final news conference to preach the value of optimism by giving a plot summary of the children’s book, “The Little Engine That Could.” Video

NOW, WAS THAT BIRDIE OR AN EAGLE?

PGA Tour golfer Tripp Isenhour was annoyed with a red-shouldered hawk that wouldn’t stop making noise while he tried to tape a “Shoot Like a Pro” video segment. So, Isenhour started hitting balls at the bird, which was safely 300 yards away. When the bird moved to within 75 yards of the golfer, he said, “I’ll get him now” – and he did. After about 10 shots, Isenhour nailed the bird, which is a protected migratory species, and found himself facing an animal cruelty charge.

NEXT TIME, HE’LL JUST SHOW UP IN THE BUFF

The University of Colorado apologized for an “insensitive, unfortunate and thoughtless” display from the university’s costumed buffalo, Chip, at a Denver Nuggets game. The buffalo showed up in a gang-themed outfit featuring baggy pants, a do-rag, fake gold teeth and a teardrop tattoo below one eye. “It was, basically, every stereotypical thing you could think of,” a remorseful university spokesman said.

IT WAS A CASE OF HE CED, HE CED

Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson became an ex-Chicago Bear when he was arrested twice on alcohol-related charges in a month – oneth by sea, on his boat at Lake Travis, and twoeth by land, in his car in downtown Austin. He still didn’t get his job back when the charges were dropped by grand juries for lack of evidence.

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