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It ain't easy wearin' green

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Sometime late Sunday afternoon, someone will don the famous Masters green jacket that will forever identify him either as a winner of this country's most prestigious golf tournament or as a clerk at the National Car Rental counter.

Tiger Woods
"Tiger, you just won the most prestigious golf tournament and your first major in 1997, here's a gaudy jacket."
It is fitting that a golf tournament should present its champion such a reward, for who other than an elderly club member, an athlete or a sportswriter would consider a green sports jacket even remotely fashionable? (Actually, if a sportswriter was truly behind the jacket, it would have mustard stains on the sleeves.)

Still, more males dream of one day slipping their arms through those sleeves than slipping Charlize Theron out of her dress.

That's the beauty of the jacket. Bellbottoms, Afros and puca shells come and go (and sadly, come again) but Augusta's green jacket remains as much a fashion staple as khaki slacks or a black cocktail dress. Craig Stadler could wear the coat and look like he belonged on the cover of GQ. Not only is it the most coveted piece of clothing in American sports (with the possible exception of Brandi Chastain's sports bra), it is believed to be the only thing Tiger Woods has worn in the past five years that didn't have a swoosh.

But is the Masters green jacket the best accessory to a sports championship? Given the choice, which championship award would you most want to wear for a night on the town?

In addition to the jacket, here are the possibilities:

Super Bowl, World Series and NBA championship rings: These are the sports equivalent of a peacock's tail feathers, a red Ferrari or a set of sixpack abs, worn less to commemorate than to impress. Over time, the rings have grown so heavy and jewel-encrusted that wearing one must feel like having a bowling ball dangling from your finger. Were Michael Jordan to wear all six he has won, his knuckles would scrape the pavement.

As garish as they are, these rings provide one distinct advantage for athletes who insist on wearing them in public. They distract women from noticing that the player also happens to wear a wedding ring on another finger.

(Fashion don't: Like shorts and flipflops in the winter, such rings are never worn in Buffalo.)

Olympic gold medal (any event, except perhaps rhythmic gymnastics): These precious medals not only contain precious metal, they represent a lifetime of training, dedication and sacrifice. To the athletes who work so long and strive so hard to wear them from their necks, these hunks of gold are considered priceless. To the Olympic officials who distribute them, they are considered an insultingly low bribe.

The Tour de France yellow jersey: Due to this event's recent drug scandals, a tie-dyed Grateful Dead shirt might be more appropriate, but even so, the shirt remains so revered an item that the French breach their normal hygiene routines by actually washing it on occasion.

Heavyweight championship belt: Some see this as the ultimate fashion statement. A big, bold and loud belt of jewels and metal glittering so bright that the glare would make David Duval squint behind his wraparound sunglasses. A belt that practically shouts, "I'm the toughest SOB in the bar." A belt so substantial it could hold up Gilbert Brown's pants.

Chris Weinke
Chris Weinke holds the award most coveted by Jim Caple.
People in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, however, consider it a trifle understated.

My choice? Easy. I would select the Heisman Trophy, unquestionably the most impressive award in all sports. What's that, you say? A trophy, technically speaking, isn't an article of clothing? Only if you choose not to wear it as such. As my mentor, Rickey Henderson, might say, there are no pieces of jewelry too big to wear, only chains too weak to hold them.

So if Bjork can wear a swan to the Oscars, I could strap a gold chain around that stiff-arming, leather-helmeted, scowling little guy and wear him as a necklace.

Archie Griffin, meanwhile, could wear his two as a pair of very funky earrings.

Jim Caple is a regular contributor to Page 2.

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