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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Look Out, Patrick Ramsey

Yes, I know the first three installments of Just Off-Camera have been about hockey, the fourth "major" sport. Sadly, hockey got more attention on this website than it did at ESPNEWS the past week. That's an exaggeration, of course, but not by much. I'm somewhat savvy, though, so I'll pander to the masses and ditch my thoughts on Rick Nash (if you don't know who he is, he's 19 years old and leading the NHL in goals) for now. Ladies and gents, I present to you the first non-hockey column on this esteemed web site...

The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx, the Campbell's Soup Jinx, and the Madden Cover Jinx have all become well-known bad omens in the world of sports. Witness Michael Vick, who appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2004 and went down in the preseason with a broken leg, Kurt Warner and Jerome Bettis, who shilled for Campbell's and saw their careers take a turn for the worse, or - most recently - Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb's appearance on the cover of two recent issues of SI, both of which directly preceded their teams' elimination from the playoffs.

Now, pay close attention. Not only does this column not deal with hockey, it is also a landmark because for the first time in Just Off-Camera history, I'm going to break news. There exists a new jinx whose powers have yet to be fully comprehended. I speak, of course, about the ESPNEWS Jinx.

Fear it.

On January 10, the Oklahoma men's basketball team, in the Nutmeg State for a game against Connecticut, visited the ESPNEWS studio. Head coach Kelvin Sampson, center Jabahri Brown, and forward Kevin Bookout were interviewed on the set, and the rest of the team looked on. Innocent enough, right?

The next day, the Sooners took their 10-0 record onto the Huskies' floor and got themselves smacked upside the head, 86-59. One loss, no big deal, right? It was to UConn, after all, and UConn's a pretty good team.

Oklahoma's troubles didn't stop there, though. They then started their Big 12 conference schedule with games against Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas Tech - and lost all three. They lost to State by 21, they lost at home to a Missouri team that has struggled to beat much lesser teams, and they lost to Bobby Knight's squad by 20. What in the name of Cindy Brunson is going on here?

I did a little background checking and asked about other teams that visited the studio and found out that the '97-98 Stanford team visited Bristol U. Guess how they followed up their visit? A 20-point trouncing at the hands of UConn. Of course, Stanford then only lost two more games the rest of the way, including an overtime defeat in the national semifinals...so that's kind of a wash.

Oklahoma will try to get the ESPNEWS monkey off its back today with a home game against Kansas State at 1:30 ET. Win or lose, the damage has been done by their visit.

So where does Patrick Ramsey come in? I heard that the Redskins' QB was in the house today, tempting the Jinx. Ramsey won't be in action for a while - it's still January, and as any football fan can tell you, the Ball Coach erased any chance the 'Skins might have had to play football in January. But keep an eye on Ramsey when the first minicamps roll around. If he blows out a knee, you'll know why...


Another note about working at ESPN: Our NHL guru gets off the phone earlier this evening sounding very disgruntled. When I asked him what was going on, he told me it was some guy calling him from a bar to settle a dispute.

Apparently, this happens fairly frequently. A couple buddies get together at their local pub, one guy says something incorrect about the sporting world (it's a fair bet that this guy is a Yankees fan), and another guy tries to correct him, and they get into an argument, which a third guy decides would be best resolved by calling the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

ESPN ain't the local library. But apparently it's possible to call information, get ESPN's number, ask to talk to someone in the research department, and then harass the staff. Don't do this. We don't like it.

However, the real question here is why didn't I ever think of this before ESPN hired me?


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