What exactly is a Turducken? John Madden explains

While surfing for something else the other day, I found a John Madden byline story from 2001 in the Chicago Tribune about Thanksgiving.

In the piece, he actually explains the Turducken, which he made famous during his days calling Thanksgiving games for CBS and Fox.

Turducken has become part of our meal, too. Turducken is a New Orleans thing we found years ago. There’s a butcher down there who makes it for us. Turducken is a deboned chicken stuffed in a deboned duck stuffed in a deboned turkey. And between the layers of meat are layers of dressing. So you slice it and you get turkey, dressing, duck, dressing, chicken. That’s really good.

So now you know. Actually, it does sound pretty good.

Happy Thanksgiving, John.


Flashback: Recalling impact of Dick Young, who changed everything for sportswriters

I only heard Dick Young speak only once. During my first World Series in 1986, I squeezed into the back of the room during the baseball writers’ meeting at Fenway Park.

I recall Young gave a speech in which he implored writers to continue to fight for their turf. To not give to the bastards, etc.

The fiery New York sports columnist could see where things were going in regards to sportswriters, and he didn’t like it.

It turned out to be Young’s last speech to the writers in a World Series. He died in 1987 at the age of 69.

If you never heard of Young, or need a refresher on what he meant to the business, you must read this 1985 profile written by Ross Wetzseon for Sport Magazine. Deadspin posted the piece on its site this week.

Wetzseon writes:

In the evolution of sportswriting from adolescent mythologizing to tell-it-like-it-is honesty, Dick Young was arguably the single most important transitional figure. There’s a better way to describe the arc of Dick Young’s career than to say he was a street-smart kid who rose to patron saint who degenerated into crotchety old man. And that’s to say that while his politics may be as reactionary as Louis XIV’s, his professional role has been as radical as Robespierre’s. What his detractors fail to understand is that there are many battles they don’t have to fight because Dick Young has already fought them—and won.

There’s this exchange:

“Gimme a beer,” says Dick Young. “Whadda ya wanna know?”

Some of your younger colleagues think. . .

“Shit, those young guys. They don’t work hard enough, they don’t work the phones, they don’t have any respect for themselves as professionals. I remember when the New York Times started giving days off in spring training! They’re in Florida, for Christ’s sake, and they want a day off! Me? I only write five columns a week these days. Piece of cake.”

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News says. . .

“Mike Lupica? He’s a newspaper version of a spoiled-brat ballplayer,” Dick Young snaps. “He writes bullshit based on his lack of experience.”

Dick Young’s not an off-the-record guy. Skipping all over the place, talking just like his Friday column, “Clubhouse Confidential,” a sentence, three dots, on to something else, three dots, on to something else. Next question?

Murray Chass of the New York Times? “He’d sell his soul for access.” Maury Allen of the New York Post? “Careless with facts and quotes.” Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times? “Just a gagster.” Dick Young is the same with nearly all his colleagues. Not angry, not even sarcastic, just matter-of-fact rat-tat-tat. Next question.

Howard Cosell? “Howie the Shill? A fraud. An ass. A pompous ass. Those are the good things I can say about him. Now what about the other side?”

Then there’s this rant about sportswriters. Remember, this is 1985:

“Today’s writers don’t have enough guts,” he says. “They let themselves be pushed around. The players give them all that crap and they accept it”—it’s hard to tell who ticks him off the most, the players or the press. “They even have ropes around the batting cage in spring training! Jesus Christ, how’m I supposed to do my job?”

After reading it you can’t but wonder if things would be better if Young still were around.



Flashback: 20 years ago today, John Paxson’s 3 against Suns gives Bulls third title

A little something to get you in the mood for tonight’s Game 7.

On June 20, 1993, John Paxson, not Michael Jordan, hit the clutch three-pointer during Game 6 of the Bulls-Phoenix final.

Couple interesting points. The Suns opened the door for the Bulls, missing 6 of 7shots down the stretch.

The Bulls, though, also were shaky. Prior to that final possession, they only had 9 points in the fourth quarter, all scored by Jordan.

Here’s the shot we’ll never forget in Chicago.

Flashback: Sports Illustrated 1971 cover story on Esposito brothers; ‘I’m not Tony’

From the Sports Illustrated vault, I found this classic on the Esposito brothers from March 29, 1971. With Chicago and Boston in the Stanley Cup Final, it seems fitting to recall the days when Phil tried to beat Tony, and visa versa.

The story, written by Jack Olsen, features this opener:

In the arena seats an attractive dark-haired lady pummeled her husband’s arm in a frenzy of partisan excitement. “Come on, Phil! Come on! Come on!” On the ice below her a bulky hockey player in the uniform of the Boston Bruins executed a rink-long rush with the inexorability of a high-speed freight train. Seconds later he shot. The puck went into the net, the light flashed on over the Chicago goal and the lady’s expression changed completely. “Why, that dirty rat,” she said. “He scored on his brother!”

The anguished lady was Mrs. Pat Esposito of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The player who made the goal was her No. 1 son, Phil Esposito (see cover), the highest-scoring player in NHL history. The sprawled and (momentarily) defeated goalie was her No. 2 son, Tony, one of hockey’s finest goaltenders and the holder of a few records of his own.

For Mrs. Esposito, hockey games between the Bruins and the Black Hawks have become exercises in agony. The last time her heavyset steelworking husband Pat took her to see Chicago play Boston she opted instead to sit out the game in a hotel room watching Art Carney score on Jackie Gleason.

Later, Phil Esposito reveals there is no love between the future Hall of Fame brothers when they are on the ice.

Brother Phil touched his lucky turtleneck shirt, patted the medal stitched inside his thigh pads, blew a kiss in the direction of the inverted horns and the four-leaf clover over his locker, carefully uncrossed a couple of crossed hockey sticks down the row and said, “My brother is my best friend and the greatest goalie in hockey, but when we get on the ice he’s not my brother, he’s just another goaltender we have to beat.”

Bas-reliefs of both brothers stand at two approaches to their hometown. “Welcome to Sault Ste. Marie, the home of the Esposito brothers,” the plaques say. Heroes to the hometowners, Tony and Phil are also heroes to each other. But their relationship is far more complex than mere hero worship. It is a curious mixture of old-country Neapolitan warmth, sibling rivalry and all-out war.

“My name is Phil,” says Phil Esposito heatedly. “Don’t call me bleeping Tony.” Phil saw several shades of heliotrope last month when the California Golden Seals’ program listed the leading NHL scorer as “Tony Esposito.” “Ain’t that a new high in stupidity?” Phil announced. “They’ve made my brother the highest-scoring goalie in hockey history.”



Sunday flashback: 40th anniversary of Johnny Miller’s 63 at Oakmont

I have Johnny Miller to blame.

As a young kid, I watched Miller do the impossible in 1973. He shot a 63 during the final round on Oakmont, perhaps the hardest course in the world, to win the U.S. Open.

In my mind and others, it is the greatest round in golf history. And in the process, it got a 13-year-old kid hooked on golf, leading me to a lifetime of torture on the golf course.

Thanks Johnny.

It is hard to believe that 40 years have passed. The anniversary of Miller’s great feat surely will be mentioned several times during ESPN and NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Open next week.

Adam Lazarus, a friend of this site, passed along a 40th anniversary post based on his 2010 book, Chasing Greatness: Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer, and the Miracle at Oakmont, co-authored with Steve Schlossman.

Lazarus and Schlossman write:

A number of mythologies — some generated by Miller himself — persist about the 1973 U.S. Open, all of which should be re-examined and, wherever possible, clarified. There are also several features of Miller’s extraordinary athletic achievement that haven’t been sufficiently appreciated.

Refuting the notion that Oakmont played soft that day:

Johnny Miller shot 63 and Lanny Wadkins shot 65 in the final round at Oakmont in 1973, but very few others shot low scores that day. In fact, Nicklaus and Ralph Johnston (both shot 68) were the only other two players to break 70 on Sunday.

 Beyond that, scoring in Sunday’s final round was not statistically different from the scores that these same players (i.e., the qualifiers) had posted on Thursday. Therefore, contrary to what is often claimed, Oakmont did not play unusually easy on Sunday, when Miller shot 63 and Wadkins shot 65. Two players renowned throughout their careers for the ability to “go low” truly played lights out on Sunday. (And until Wadkins’s right foot slipped on his tee shot at # 18, leading to a bogey, he too believed that he had a realistic chance to win the championship by shooting 63 on Sunday.)

Refuting notion that Miller didn’t feel any pressure:

Some commentators continue to believe that Miller felt no pressure in shooting his final round 63 because he finished several hours before the leaders. This is just not true. He was in the seventh-to-last twosome, teeing off at 1:47 p.m., so he was not a morning starter, an also-ran. And at six shots behind (3-under) and in a tie for 13th place, Miller wasn’t so far back that it would be unprecedented for him to win; recall that Palmer won the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills from seven shots behind in 1960.

Furthermore, after his four consecutive birdies to start the round, Miller immediately jumped into the mix well before the four leaders (Palmer, John Schlee, Julius Boros and Jerry Heard) teed off. He knew precisely where he stood on the leaderboard as he walked to the fifth tee: -1 for the championship, only two shots behind the leaders as they prepared to play the toughest opening hole in all of American championship golf. Miller (quite reasonably) assumed that that it was the leaders who might begin to tremble on the first tee when they learned what he had already done.

Arnold Palmer’s disappointment. At age 43, it was his last run at winning a second U.S. Open:

Palmer was in genuine disbelief. Miller had played poorly from tee to green when they were paired together in the first two rounds. Only stellar putting had kept Miller in contention. It simply never occurred to Palmer that Miller could become a factor in the final round at Oakmont. (Tom Weiskopf — who finished third, two shots back — facetiously remarked Sunday evening that “I didn’t even know Miller had made the cut”[4])

Palmer did his best to fight through the shock, but he couldn’t. Even 36 years later, when we interviewed him in Latrobe, Pa., the defeat and bewilderment that he felt at the time projected through his words and pained facial expressions. Only his collapse on the back nine at The Olympic Club in 1966, he told us, haunted him more deeply than his collapse at Oakmont in 1973.

There’s much more. Definitely worth checking out Lazarus’ post.


Saturday flashback: Classic covers from ESPN The Magazine; Remember Ricky and Ditka?

ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary this week. Check out my interview with editor Chad Millman.

I thought I would roll out a few of the more memorable covers.

When it comes to all-time bizarre, nothing beats the beautiful couple of Ricky Williams and Mike Ditka. By the way, how long did that marriage last?

Here the first cover in 1998 featuring the next crop of sports superstars. Kobe Bryant and ARod did alright for themselves. Eric Lindros dominated, but his career got cut short. Kordell Stewart? Not so much.


This one just makes me laugh. Who should go first in the 1998 draft: Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?

Here was a true Next: LeBron James’ first cover in 2002.

The full Serena from the first Body issue.

Sometimes you just need to run a cover with a unicorn.

Saturday Flashback II: ESPN analysts rap Dolphins selecting Dan Marino

A young Chris Berman speculates that Miami might want to take a quarterback with its pick late in the first round, but he says, “The guys they wanted might already be gone.”

Then at the 3-minute mark, Paul Zimmerman goes crazy when the Dolphins pick Dan Marino.

“I don’t understand it,” Dr. Z says.

Bud Wilkinson says, “I hope Dan would calm down considerably.”

He did, and everyone understands the pick now.