Sports Final was hosted by Steve Burton and Dan Roche. The Toni Smith story was the lead, with her stand to turn her back to the American flag during the National Anthem before her college basketball games. Opposing views but also the views of those who support her were shown. Then they read emails from viewers responding to the controversy. Michael Smith and Steve DeOssie were on first. DeOssie says she’s young, she just doesn’t understand everything that the flag stands for, that it is more than the current administration. She’s making a mistake. Roche says she has no idea what she is doing, it’s her right to protest. Smith has no problem with what she’s doing, she’s being very American by doing it, exercising her first amendment. He might agree with her stand, it’s extreme, there’s no middle ground. DeOssie thinks she needs a few more courses in American history. Burton thinks she’s not out for attention, the media has come to her on this one. They all agree that she is sincere in her stand. DeOssie says this country is about dissenting opinion, but she’s over her head here. It’s gone beyond what she probably expected, likely didn’t think they would be taking emails on a sports show in Boston about this. They talked about other political stands taken in sports. Ali was brought up. Roche says Ali later realized his mistakes and he thinks Smith will later as well. The next topic brought up by Roche was Robert Person. Smith said this sort of thing has happened to him before, he doesn’t have a fancy car like that, but it’s happened, the police think that car doesn’t belong to the driver, and the driver automatically assumes that the police are picking on him because of his race. Gordon Edes joined the show via satellite, to comment on the situation. Edes noted Person admits he sometimes has a problem with authority. He knocked him for claiming he didn’t know he could play his stereo loud at 2:00 AM. But he does sympathize with situations that happen like that. Roche then wanted to knock him for being out that late, and Smith interjected not agreeing that it was that big a deal. Edes is a little mystified that the Red Sox are excusing him because he didn’t know what the curfew was. He said if they were going fine every player who was out beyond curfew, they would have quite a pool at the end of spring training. Burton than asked about the events in Yankees camp…a certain picture of a naked Wells in his book involving sheep was mentioned by Edes, as well his claims of being drunk during his perfect game.
After a break, Patriots talk was up next, draft position, Emmitt Smith talk, is he that much of an upgrade over Antowain Smith to make it worth pursuing him. Michael Smith doesn’t think it’s the proper solution, it would just be a stopgap solution. Roche joked about the first priority being locking up that long snapper. Smith says it’s actually a miracle they finished 9-7, they have so many holes. They need help everywhere. DeOssie wants pass rushers. Be it a big lineman, or a middle linebacker to allow Bruschi to move to the outside again. Smith looks at the offensive line as having taken a step back last year as well. DeOssie doesn’t look for any big free agent signings. Maybe a little more than last year, but not much. Next topic Terry Glenn to Dallas. He should be better there, needs an authority figure. This has been in the works for some time. The Dallas/Patriots game next year in Foxboro is looking huge. The last segment had more viewer emails on the subject of Toni Smith.
On Sports Xtra highlights of the days’ action in sports was followed by a look at the Bruins reversal of fortune. Ties these days are a cause for celebration, as Gary Gillis notes. Robbie Ftorek is on the hotseat and the rumor about Ray Bourque taking over as coach was mentioned…and dismissed. Kip Lewis reported from Las Vegas on the Ruiz/Jones fight. Jones’ skill was just too much for Ruiz. In the press conference after the fight Jones said that the first time he watched tapes of Ruiz, he didn’t know how he could beat him. But it all came together after working on things. Ron Borges then joined Gene Lavanchy in studio, happy to be back on Xtra, said when you make mistakes you try to rectify them. He talked about the fight, Ruiz’s performance was really bad, didn’t do anything in the fight that he trained to do, after he took the jab to the nose, he completely went away from what he was supposed to do. Jones’ speed really overwhelmed him. Ruiz wasn’t able to react to the speed. Borges said he lost a lot of dignity after the fight by complaining about the referee and not coming out to speak afterwards. He won’t make much off of this fight. He’s having some personal problems as well. Will probably take some time off. It’s going to take a lot for him to get another shot like this, another big fight. His actions after the fight are a clear indication that other things are on his mind these days. As Borges was leaving Lavanchy once again said he was glad to have him back on Xtra and Borges said “This is home”.
Michael Holley and Jackie MacMullan were in studio next to talk about Toni Smith and then Vin Baker. As for Smith, Holley has no problem with what she is doing and how she is doing it. College is the place for what she is doing, a learning experience. MacMullan disagrees with her stand, but doesn’t think she is grandstanding, thinks she is courageous, even though she doesn’t agree with it. Lavanchy brought up coaches who have spoken out saying they would not have her on their team for what she is doing. Holley says they are flat out wrong for that. College is for ideas, for this type of thinking. She’s being respectful, she’s not burning the flag or anything. MacMullan said that as much as she dislikes what Smith is doing, she disliked even more what the gentleman did who went onto the floor and confronted her with a flag. Onto Vin Baker, will he be back this year? Should the Celtics have been aware of this when they traded for him? MacMullen says they should’ve down their homework, guys like Chris Ford and Paul Westphal said this week they would’ve told them all about him. MacMullan feels that Wallace’s first choice was to bring everyone back from last year, but couldn’t do all that, so decided to roll the dice on this. Holley said no one in their right mind looked at this trade and thought it was good for the Celtics. Rift between coach and GM? MacMullan says O’Brien clearly didn’t want the trade, will be come back this year? She hopes he takes this seriously for himself and his kids and gets it right. Holley says this is the benefit of playing at home his family likely had big input in this. Holley thinks he can play again, but never at his prior level. As for the level of coaching on this team, MacMullan said that Mark Bryant who has been with 10 different teams in the league says this team has the most complicated schemes of any team he’s been with. The last segment was a look at the Microsoft charity game with the Bruins alumni from yesterday.
Sports Sunday on Fox25 with Butch Stearns led off with Chris Wallace on hot seat, but a good game by Kedrick Brown today starting for Paul Pierce could ease the harsh spotlight somewhat…but Brown had only two points and a critical turnover in the Celtics loss today. Then onto Red Sox highlights from today’s game with the Twins. Jerry Remy falling in the booth was a highlight. Patriots news was up next, contracts restructured, Ted Johnson happy and surprised with the Patriots deal he got. Free agency is on, Richie Anderson is a target, but he wants to visit Parcells in Dallas first.
After Tiger highlights, the spotlight turns to Chris Wallace and Robbie Ftorek. Stearns reports a rumor that Gerry Cheevers will take over as coach soon. Levan Reid’s segment looks at the Vin Baker disaster, Chris Wallace acknowledges that being the guy that makes the trade turns him into the lightning rod, and Reid says Baker and Wallace should both be gone. As for Ftorek, the team after being the number one seed last year, they may not make the playoffs, Reid doesn’t say whether he should be gone. Stearns then mentioned Bill Guerin possibly being lost for the season after emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding in his thigh.
A short bit on the Ruiz/Jones fight last night was followed by a look at the Bentley Women’s basketball team which is an annual power under coach Barbara Stevens. They’ve been in the NCAA Div II tournament every year since she’s been there. A spoof of Joe Millionaire followed. “The lost episode” which included clips from a Seinfeld episode with Elaine’s date the NJ Devils fan. (“Joe’s” twin brother) Stearn’s Last Blast was against the Red Sox and Robert Person. Stearns blasted him for his incident this week and said he has a history of episodes with the police and then blasts the Theo Epstein and Grady Little if they don’t punish him harshly for this episode.