As 2005 Signs Off, An ‘OFFf’ Sounds Off On What Was Good

By A. Renee' West
Updated: December 30, 2005

While everyone mashes over what was obviously bad in sports in 2005, here’s what made the bells, of a clinically diagnosed O(bsessive) F(anatical) F(aniac) of sports, go ring a ding ding.

T.O. and the Super Bowl

Yes, my year started with Terrell Owens trash talking the impossible – playing in the Super Bowl. And 6 1/2 weeks after ankle surgery T.O. made nine catches for 122 yards earning my short-lived Superman title. He also would have been the MVP if the Eagles had just played in the fourth quarter. Sigh.

Bengals’ Chad Johnson

Not always as inventive as T.O., he got better. But after awhile, it’s hard to get more and more creative. But there’s definitely less drama with him.

Master Tiger Woods

Winning a fourth green jacket was nowhere near his first ‘Rosa Park’ win, but the game did contain the shot of the year – Tiger’s ball held on the lip of the 16th’s cup, Nike swoop smiled for camera, crowd roared, ball then dropped into the cup. It also contained drama – Tiger then bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes, Chris Dimarco missed an easy birdie on the 18th, can we say playoff. And for those who wrote off Woods, tiger’s back and tigers bite.

Keith Clinkscales & Stephen A. Smith

In the four months since Clinkscales was appointed senior vice president and general manager of ESPN publishing, ESPN The Magazine has kicked butt with eerily timed ‘must read’ stories and hot cool visuals. Sheryl Swoopes announced she was gay. Kobe and Phil – Take 2. Tony Dungy on the cover the week his son died. With circulation dropping in the industry, Clinkscales ‘Vibe’ may give the #2 sports magazine a boost and roost to #1.

As for Stephen A., quite frankly, his show ‘Quite Frankly’ on ESPN2 is the best sport shows on any channel, network or cable, for one simple reason, Stephen A. is Stephen A. … and they pay him to get away with that mess. He’s honest and frank, eats crow when needed, and asks the questions we’re dying to ask. And keeps asking when the guest he asked to come on gives him a bull crap answer. Okay, at least 97% of the time he does that. But that’s better than the suck up 53% of the time we get from most other Black analysts, except Michael Irvin and John Salley who are crazy.

Also let me give shout outs to Scoop Jackson, of ESPN Page 2, and Jason Whitlock, who occasionally writes and analyzes for ESPN, for also doing fine jobs.

At Avis, We Try Harder – Ken Williams & Frank Thomas, Dontrelle Willis

There’s nothing wrong with being #2.

Ken Williams, the general manager of the Chicago’s #2 team White Sox, hired an outspoken Latino manager and together they brought a World Series championship to Chicago’s South side, forcing this die hard Cub fan to root for her uncle’s team when her also beloved Yankee’s were out. Then, to prove he was serious, Williams resigned most of his pitching staff and fronted the Cubs saying, “the defeatist attitude that we will always be Chicago’s second team just doesn’t fly with me.” Well Ken, I’m sticking with my Cubs but dang, I give you props.

Then, after 16, not always joyful, seasons with the White Sox, 2005 gave me Frank Thomas holding a World Series trophy. Injured for most of the season, Thomas’ performance was still instrumental in getting those rings.

Finally, there’s the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis. With 22 wins, and 10 losses this season, I hoped he would win the National League’s Cy Young over the Astros’ Clemons (who I love since he was a Yankee) or the Cardinals’ Carpenter, because Willis just makes me happy. On the mound when that leg raises up, he looks off-centered and gangly. But then the ball releases and zam bam thank you ma’am it sizzles across the plate. He’s also got a grin like a two year old receiving his first Radio Flyer red wagon, and when you hear him talk you really feel his love for the game. It breaks my heart that the Marlins are now decimated, but at least he’ll be a free agent soon. Dontrelle get with a contender (like my Yankees) and get that bling bling ring.

Lakers Heat My Pistons

I’m a Laker fan. But Kobe’s antics required mama to show some tough love. So Laker rah rah shifted to the Heat who had Shaq. And there was nothing more exciting than the 7th game of the East final between the Heat and Pistons, at least until the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th games of the NBA finals between the Pistons and the Spurs. The East were counted out last year, but they proved down did not mean out.

Hurricane Katrina, Tony Dungy, Quentin Richardson, Michael Redd, et al

There were nonphoto op moments during Hurricane Katrina that touched my heart. Joe Horn’s anguish over the conditions in New Orleans and the Saints. Stephon Marbury weeping uncontrollably about “little babies floating in the river” and pledging $500,000 and $1 million. Kevin Garnett pledging $1.2 million to Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network to build a house a month for the next 2 years for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Then seeing the support of the sports community for Dungy, Richardson, and others on the lost of loved ones. Michael Redd fulfilling his promise to his father and building him a church. And always Shaq buying gifts for kids. He’s a big kid himself. Bottomline, if more of this was publicized, dress codes wouldn’t be needed.

So it was a good year. It’s now a new year. Auld lang syne to all.