“IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE – EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.”
Thus bloggeth crackpot evangelist and caps lock connoisseur David Wilkerson last week, one of any number of religious zealots and Chicken Littles who are utterly convinced that the end of it all is right around the corner. Wilkerson, specifically, has us dying in a big fire.
Now I, having seen that Kirk Cameron movie several years ago, consider myself as qualified as anyone when it comes to picking out the telltale signs of impending Armageddon. And just between you, me and the bed post…I’m a little bit nervous.
Those of you who know your Book of Revelation undoubtedly are aware of the significance of the number seven – seven seals, seven bowls, seven angels, seven plagues, the beast with seven heads, and so forth. Well, wouldn’t you know that the first seven days of March – Sunday to Sunday, to continue the religious theme – have yielded seven odd and mysterious storylines in the wide world of sports? Only instead of famine, pestilence and earthquakes, it’s more like, you know, football stuff. I call them: Hoop’s Seven Signs of the Sports Apocalypse:
Sign No. 1 – Lost at sea
It’s not out of the ordinary every couple of years to hear at least one tragic tale involving the death of an NFL player. However, few can match the strange, sorrowful tale of NFL players Corey Smith and Marquis Cooper, who, along with friend Will Bleakley, are all presumed dead after their small boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean two weeks ago. The group’s lone survivor, former South Florida football player Nick Schuyler, was found clinging to the overturned boat two days after the accident. He claims that the two NFL players quickly gave up hope of surviving, took off their life vests and allowed the sea to claim them. Bleakley died later from exposure. Why Smith and Cooper gave up so quickly – after only a couple of hours according to one report – remains a mystery.
Sign No. 2 – The five-year window
Just seven years removed from a crippling NCAA probation that ushered in a period of intense malaise for the University of Alabama football program, the Tide is back under the NCAA microscope. The governing body of major college athletics is expected to hand down punishment any day now relating to a 2007 scandal involving shenanigans between athletes and their textbooks. The sentence probably will not be particularly harsh this go around, but if the Tide commits another violation within the next five years, then the NCAA hammer will fall. Hard.
Sign No. 3 – Man from the East
Speaking of the NCAA, a hard rain’s gonna fall in Tallahassee and soon. More than 60 athletes in 10 sports at Florida State have been implicated in a massive academic fraud scandal, which will cost FSU, among other things, several wins from the 2006 and 2007 football seasons. That will likely put Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden well behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno in the race for winningest Division I-A head football coach. Since both aren’t far away from dropping dead on the sidelines, you’ve got to give JoePa the nod here, meaning that he – a man from the East, as it was foretold – will reign over college football’s record books for at least a thousand years.
Sign No. 4 – Two for the road
Before Feb. 28, the Alabama men’s basketball team had put together quite an impressive streak…of defeats. The Tide had dropped 18 consecutive conference games on the road. That day, however, Bama exorcised its away game demons and trounced Ole Miss in Oxford, 90-69. Had to be a fluke, right? Wrong. Last Sunday, the Tide downed Tennessee in Knoxville by way of Anthony Brock’s buzzer-beater and thereby opened the door to a potential NIT appearance.
Sign No. 5 – Shuffle off to Buffalo
Terrell Owens’ reign of terror in Dallas is over. Terrell Owens’ reign of terror in Buffalo has just begun. From the team that brought you three consecutive years of Super Bowl defeats…the Bills have decided to bring the mercurial wideout into the fold, signing him to a one-year, $6.5 million deal, despite the fact that he has decimated every locker room he’s ever hung his jock in. Tim Russert’s spinning like a gyroscope right now.
Sign No. 6 – A-Cyst
Alex Rodriguez admitted a couple of weeks ago that he cheated the game of baseball by taking performance enhancing drugs, and for a while it looked as if it he was going to get by with it. Still making big bucks with the Yankees, hitting homers in spring ball, prepping for the World Baseball Championship…it just wasn’t fair! After all, where’s karma in all this? As it turns out, the answer was in his hip. The three-time MVP is suffering from a torn labrum and a cyst, forcing him under the knife and off the opening day roster. That karma’s a harsh mistress, isn’t it A-Rod?
Sign No. 7 – The multitude
The Davis Cup has wrapped up in the Magic City – and, by all accounts, it appears we pulled it off! In fact, I can’t remember another time when this city hosted a big event where everything came together perfectly and harmoniously for everyone’s benefit. They rioted at the Davis Cup in Sweden, for goodness sakes! Do you realize how good we must have looked after the other country started rioting? You can’t buy P.R. like that! We even set the Davis Cup record for first-round attendance when 15,118 fans showed up for the final match. That’s right – Birmingham set an attendance record for a tennis event. I’d have bet one of my kidneys against that.
Now the Good Book says that no one can foretell when the world will end – presumably that includes David Wilkerson, and unfortunately, myself as well. Seven strange occurrences in seven days could simply be just seven strange coincidences, nothing to fret over. But if, as Johnny Cash once sung, the whirlwind is in the thorn tree and the multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettledrum, you’ll know for sure on Feb. 7, 2010…when the Bills when the Super Bowl.