Feasting on the big turkeys
By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

When we made a call out at ESPN asking for nominees for the biggest sports turkeys of 2003, we expected a good meal, but instead got such an incredible feast of nominees that, well, just like we do at Thanksgiving, we had to make a separate list just for the little gobblers.

While you're getting ready to roast your T-Day turkey, check out our list and help us select the Biggest Sports Turkey of 2003.

1. The University of Washington
For employing the likes of

Rick Neuheisel
And we haven't even mentioned Neuheisel lying about interviewing for the 49ers job.

Former head football coach Rick Neuheisel, fired for betting in a high-stakes college hoops pool ...

... and Keith Gilbertson, Neuheisel's replacement who coached the team to its worst season since 1976 (including a 54-7 loss to Cal in which the Huskies gave up 718 yards) and is being investigated by the state ethics board for using a booster's private plane to fly his family to the season opener at Ohio State ...

... and other assistant football coaches who were also involved in basketball pools ...

... And a (now former) team doctor who is under investigation by the U.S. DEA, among others, for handing out thousands of prescriptions for narcotics to athletes, coaches, trainers and even parents, and also reportedly supplied the women's softball team with steroids ...

... not to mention that the men's basketball team was placed on NCAA probation for recruiting violations ...

... and despite all this, athletic director Barbara Hedges was just given a nine-month contract extension.

2. Dave Bliss
For attempting to coerce assistant coaches and players into making false statements to Baylor officials investigating the death of Patrick Dennehy, and for other illegal payments and NCAA violations that landed the basketball program on a self-imposed two-year probation.

3. Larry Eustachy and Mike Price
For being just a little too old to be partying with college students and strippers ...

Ricky Davis
Sorry, Ricky, an alley-oop to yourself does not count as an assist.

4. Ricky Davis
For his pathetic attempt to achieve a triple double by shooting at the wrong basket and grabbing the rebound.

5. Neal Taylor
For making a deal with an opposing coach so that his Southeast High (Springfield, Ill.) star quarterback, Nate Haasis, could break a conference passing record. Haasis immediately disowned the tainted record.

6. St. Bonaventure
For failed leadership in the basketball program that went from the top (school president Robert Wickenheiser resigned), to the middle (head coach Jan van Breda Kolff and AD Gothard Lane departed), and all the way to the players, who decided to skip the final two games of the season. It all started with a welding certificate and what about those Franciscan values?

7. Bill Singer
For his ethnic slur aimed at Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng. That might not have been quite enough to make the list, but when the now ex-Mets special assistant/superscout blamed chemical imbalances caused by a mix of the Atkins Diet and alcohol, he became a top gobbler.

Don Zimmer
The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry hit a new low when Zimmer charged Pedro.

8. Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez
For their front-and-center senseless actions during the ALCS Game 3 Red Sox-Yankees brawl

9. Bill Romanowski
For his cheap KO of teammate Marcus Williams during practice and for Romo's idiotic comment during a meaningless "apology" two days later: "I hold myself accountable." Oh, and later testing positive for THG (not that we're surprised).

10. Steve Bartman
For not getting the heck out of Moises Alou's way.

11. William "The Refrigerator" Perry
For making a mockery of the sport of speed eating, downing only four hot dogs in the Nathan's Famous eat-off.

Little Gobblers
Manny Ramirez
For socializing when he was too sick to play, then skipping an a appointment with the team doctor, all when the Red Sox were in the thick of the pennant race.

Grady Little
For letting Pedro manage him, when it should have been the other way around. And also for picking up the habit of referring to himself in the third person.

Jan Stephenson
For her dumb (and insensitive, and unfounded) comments about Asians on the LPGA Tour.

Eric Dybas
For coming out of the stands and attacking umpire Laz Diaz during a game at Comiskey.

Jim Harrick and Jim Harrick Jr ...
For well, gee, it's hard to point to just one thing ...

Kellen Huston
For slugging a Missouri fan who was on the field with hundreds of others enjoying a postgame celebration. The Nebraska cornerback apologized while also claiming self-defense.

The New York Jets
For lack of fan appreciation, slamming fans who want season tickets with a $50-a-year charge just to be on the waiting list.


Jeff Merron Archive

The List: Biggest Turkeys of 2002

The List: Greatest teenage athletes

The List: Controversial MVPs

The List: Worst No. 1 picks of all time

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