LOS ANGELES—Sources within the Red Wings organization confirm that goalie Chris Osgood, who is currently engaged in accompanying the Stanley Cup on a victory tour of talk shows and publicity events, has repeatedly and insistently claimed to have gotten as far as third base with hockey's championship trophy during the past week.
On Tuesday night Osgood, teammate Nicklas Lidstrom, and the Stanley Cup made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno during which Osgood was seen repeatedly touching and attempting to hold the Cup. Witnesses say that after the segment had taped, Lidstrom left for the airport, while Osgood and the Cup left together for the Four Seasons Hotel.
Housekeeping staff said Wednesday morning that the Cup's room had not been slept in.
When asked for comment, Osgood himself initially refused to give details.
"Listen, it's tradition for us to all kiss the Cup. But I'm not one of those hockey players who are always saying 'I'm gonna (expletive) that Stanley Cup,'" Osgood told ESPN's Jim Rome when asked about his involvement with the trophy on Wednesday's Jim Rome Is Burning. "I mean, everyone dreams of winning the Cup, that's only natural. But it's not like that with me. Come on, man."
However, when Rome attempted to change the subject to Osgood's long and tumultuous Detroit career, Osgood, apparently warming to the subject, continued to talk about his relationship with the Cup.
"Okay, now, I'm not saying there isn't—it's a powerful feeling, when you win the Cup, and sometimes that leads to other feelings that are just as powerful," Osgood continued. "Things happen, but you and the Cup both want them to happen, and you go back to the hotel and ask it to watch Dirty Dancing, and eventually maybe you get into some up and over, or there's some up and down and underneath, or maybe—I'm not saying this happened, but you know—maybe there's more than one way to kiss the Cup."
"A better way," a grinning Osgood added as an evidently stunned Rome remained mute. "A way that brings the Cup as much pleasure as the Cup brings you. Or the great city of Detroit, for that matter."
Reaction from the world of hockey has, predictably, been mixed. Although the Stanley Cup is more revered than other trophies, perhaps because of its accessibility, not everyone is comfortable with the prospect of it being involved in mild to moderate sexual contact with a player.
"I know that every player on the winning team gets a day with the Cup. That's just tradition," said Detroit hockey fan Roy Wertree. "And no one deserves that day more than Chris, because he really got us through the Finals. And I know he and the Cup are both old enough to make their own decisions, but I don't know. Something about Osgood and the cup gratifying one another in a sensual fashion is just weird."
"Why would he even want to?" asked Grosse Point's Meg McEntyre. "I mean, the Stanley cup is older than he is, for one thing. And do you know how many guys must have kissed it over the years?"
Although the NHL has not officially commented on the event, sources within the organization say that Osgood's experience may not be unique.
"For years there have been rumors that the Stanley Cup had been involved in unusual relationships with top players," said ESPN's Barry Melrose. "Mark Messier was rumored to appear late at night outside the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in the offseason, shouting the Cup's name until the police could escort him home. Wayne Gretzky was once seen standing between his furious wife Janet and the Stanley Cup in the corridor of the Edmonton Hilton, clad only in a towel and repeatedly denying that the Cup was destroying their marriage. And Gordie Howe's career was haunted by rumors that he allowed the Cup to tie him to seedy hotel beds. It's all part of why this is the greatest sport in the world."
NBA To Honor Red Auerbach By Playing Defense
BOSTON—Commissioner David Stern announced at a press conference Monday that, in order to honor recently deceased basketball legend Red Auerbach, all NBA teams would play good, fundamental defense during the first weekend of play this November. "Though this will be a sacrifice for many players, I think this is something Red would have wanted," Stern said. "He always liked when players guarded the passing lanes, kept their hands up, and remained in front of their opponents even if it meant expending a little more energy in the process. Basically, he liked activity on the basketball court." Though the majority of NBA players seem to agree the tribute is fitting, many have said that because they haven't played defense in such a long time, they really hope they remember how.
Man Who Used Stick To Roll Ball Into Hole In Ground Praised For His Courage
SAN DIEGO—A man who used several different bent sticks to hit a ball to an area comprised of very short grass surrounding a hole in the ground was praised for his courage Monday after he used a somewhat smaller stick to gently roll the ball into the aforementioned hole in fewer attempts than his competitors. "What guts, what confidence," ESPN commentator Scott Van Pelt said of the man, who was evidently unable to carry his sticks himself, employing someone else to hold the sticks and manipulate the flag sticking out of the hole in the ground while he rolled the ball into it. "You have to be so brave, so self-assured, so strong mentally to [roll a ball into a hole in the ground]. Amazing." The man in question apparently hurt his knee during this activity.
Tank Johnson, Pac-Man Jones Killed While Arguing Over Who Inspired NFL Code Of Conduct
CHICAGO—The short, turbulent, and controversial lives of NFL cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and defensive tackle Terry "Tank" Johnson ended in a Chicago-area strip club last Tuesday night when an argument over which player had the greatest influence on the NFL's proposed code of conduct escalated into horrific but predictable violence. "We already had the club under surveillance as a possible hub for drug dealing, arms trading, prostitution, gambling, and counterfeiting, so when Jones and Johnson arrived around 11 p.m. we weren't surprised," FBI agent Ronald Murchowski told reporters on the scene. "They had no sooner ordered their bodyguards to throw money on the stage when the question of who had in fact inspired the new NFL player-conduct policies brought them to blows, stabbings, personal arson, and finally, gunplay." The NFL has not yet announced how it would deal with such tragedies in the future under the proposed "Jones/Johnson" or "Johnson/Jones" rules.
NASCAR To Kurt Busch: 'Keep The Drunk Driving On The Racetrack'
PHOENIX—Nextel Cup Series driver Kurt Busch, who was detained on suspicion of driving drunk and cited for reckless driving near Phoenix International Raceway last Friday, has been sternly warned by NASCAR to "save the drunk driving for the racetrack." NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter, who said Kurt "was only given a standard traffic ticket as far as we know," also noted that, as far as NASCAR higher-ups were concerned, reckless driving and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol should be saved for race day. "We built our reputation for family-friendly motor-sports entertainment on three things: sponsorships, crashes, and high-speed danger," Hunter said. "Drunk driving is good for all three, as long as it stays on the racetrack where it belongs." The makers of Crown Royal, who sponsor Busch's Nextel Cup car, say they may consider removing their sponsorship from the series if they find evidence that drivers have been driving drunk outside of NASCAR-sanctioned race events.
George Steinbrenner Dies While Telling Sons Secret To Running Yankees
TAMPA, FL—While on his deathbed in his Tampa home, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ordered his hospice nurse out of the room, motioned for his sons Hal and Hank to come closer, and began whispering the generations-old secret to making the Yankees a winning ballclub before abruptly dying mid-speech. "He just said, 'All you have to do to ensure the continued success of the Yankee franchise is…is…yell... at…' and then he was gone," Hank Steinbrenner told reporters Monday morning. "I kept banging his chest and screaming 'Yell at who?! Who are we supposed to yell at? Wake up, you old bastard!' but it was too late. We did, however, find this mysterious golden amulet in his pocket…but that can't be it, can it? Can it?" He then announced plans to fire every employee in the company one by one until the Yankees return to first place.
Reggie Bush Claims He Made $100,000 Through USC Work-Study Program
NEW ORLEANS—Saints running back and former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush refuted charges Monday that he accepted gifts, money, and other benefits exceeding $100,000 in value while playing football for the University of Southern California, claiming he earned that money "fair and square through constant hard work" at various on-campus work-study jobs.
"During my time at USC, I managed not only to carry a full 12-unit course load every semester while playing Division I football, but I also worked as many as 15 simultaneous work-study jobs that allowed me the opportunity to provide food, clothing, and shelter for my family with a little spending money left over," Bush said, reading from a prepared statement at the Saints training facility. Bush also added that, on average, the university's work-study jobs paid $6.50 an hour. "I did not, I repeat, did not earn a dime for my play on the field."
Bush added: "I used the same focus, intensity, and relentless effort to shelve over 450,000 books as a librarian's assistant at the East Asian Library, Gerontology Library, and Hoose Library Of Philosophy that I did to help lead the Trojans to the 2004 national championship."
According to Bush, the librarian's assistant jobs, along with transporting television sets, DVD players, and overhead projectors across the campus for the school's audio-visual department, allowed Bush to purchase new suits for his stepfather and brother, a makeover for his mother, and limousine service to and from the Downtown Athletic Club for his Heisman Trophy ceremony.
"Whenever I would show a clip and the sound wouldn't work, it was always Reggie who would sprint the 40 yards from the audio-visual center in 4.2 seconds flat," said history professor Niles Langford. "And since I'm a real dumbbell with these electronics, believe me, he earned his money."
Bush said that he was able to purchase a 45-inch high-definition flat-screen television, rent his posh downtown apartment, and buy his friends the newest pair of Air Jordans by "working [his] butt off at the Carl's Jr. in the student union, taking lecture notes for disabled students six times a week, and working the Sunday-morning shift as a security guard at Trojan Hall."
"Reggie paid strict attention to those who entered and exited the dorm, making sure the guest policy was upheld and honored," said dorm supervisor Alex Valinsky. "Under his watch, nearly 17,000 guest violations were recorded."
"Easily a school record," Valinsky added. "Better even than O.J.'s work guarding faculty parking."
In addition, Bush said he worked after football practice from midnight until 5 a.m. for USC's Campus Cruiser Program, in which students who were out late and fearful of their general safety could call Bush's brand-new Motorola Razr cellular phone and be driven back to their dormitories in Bush's 2005 Cadillac Escalade with headrest television monitors.
"He was always very kind, polite, and never asked any embarrassing questions about what we had been doing," said USC junior Rebecca Meuthing, adding that in each of the nearly 1,160 times he escorted her home, Bush waited outside the dormitory listening to the newest rap CDs until he was sure she got in safely. "Sometimes we talked about football, but he mostly talked about how, after he dropped me off, he had to get to his work-study job entering grades into the USC School of Architecture database."
The money from that particular job, Bush insists, went a long way in providing his relatives with round-trip airfare so they could watch him compete on game day.
The biggest charge against Bush—the question of his family's ability to move from their small San Diego apartment to a $757,000 home in Spring Valley during Bush's junior year—could, according to Bush, be explained by his "cushy" job in the Student Activities Office, which Bush admits was "pretty easy," saying he "literally did nothing for $11 an hour."
"When I find the shoebox with all of my time sheets and pay stubs, I will be vindicated of any wrongdoing," Bush's statement concluded. "Unfortunately, most of these hundreds of boxes seem to contain new pairs of shoes, but they have to turn up sooner or later."
Trojans head coach Pete Carroll, who took reporters' questions as an opportunity to praise his former running back's "impeccable work ethic," said he was unaware the running back was making so much money, adding that he assumed the Hummer limousine in which Bush arrived at practice every day was simply provided by his agent.
Linebacker Faces Suspension For Genocide
MINNEAPOLIS—In the latest legal complication for an NFL player, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Antwone Evans may receive a fine and possibly even a suspension for his role in the mass slaughter of the Lithuanian people in a Sunday pogrom. "In cruelly rounding up and exterminating more than three million Lithuanian men, women, and children, Evans seriously violated the behavior standard to which we hold all our employees," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. "We are currently deliberating on whether to suspend him pending the verdict of his U.N. tribunal."
Goodell Tells Bills To Use Bye Week To See If Football Is Something They Really Want To Be Doing
BUFFALO, NY—Following another devastating loss to the Dallas Cowboys Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the 1-4 Buffalo Bills to take time during their upcoming bye week to reflect on their season thus far and ask themselves if playing professional football is what they really want to be doing with their lives. "I'm not trying to push them in any particular direction," Goodell told reporters after the game, which the Bills lost despite forcing six turnovers, ultimately finding themselves unable to field a last-minute onside kick. "As commissioner, it's my job to put a quality product on the field each and every week and see that there is some kind of parity amongst the teams. I'll be curious to hear, especially if they decide to continue playing, where the Bills think they fit into an NFL that is continuously getting more and more competitive." Though most Bills fans were still too demoralized by Monday night's loss to comment on Goodell's request, those who talked to the media after the announcement said they "wouldn't give a flying (expletive) if those losers played another (expletive) football game ever."
Mike Lowell Second In All-Star Voting But Leads In All-Star Superdelegates
BOSTON—As the polls close on the first month of All-Star voting, the race to represent the American League at third base is a dead heat with the Yankee's Alex Rodriguez leading Boston's Mike Lowell in the popular vote by a 2-to-1 margin, but Lowell edging Rodriguez with two-thirds of the crucial, if controversial, MLB superdelegates. "This is exactly what I've been warning people about for years—a few hundred people in the American League National Committee have more influence on the All-Star game than thousands of fans, and that's not right," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "And look who these highly placed American League figures are—Peter Gammons, who never saw a Sox infielder he didn't like. And Terry Francona, for God's sake, their manager! I thought baseball was supposed to be a democracy." Girardi said that he was prepared to take his grievance all the way to the office of AL National Convention chairman George Steinbrenner.
Tearful Rex Grossman: 'I Was Intercepted A Lot As A Child'
CHICAGO—Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, responding to being benched following his three-interception performance in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, had to stop speaking in order to wrestle with his emotions at a post-game press conference Tuesday in which he tearfully admitted to reporters that as a child his friends and family would abuse him mercilessly on the football field by repeatedly picking off all of his throws. "I grew up terrified of what my mother or father would say if I took a sack, so I'd just throw the ball up for grabs as hard as I could," said Grossman, recalling a post-Thanksgiving-dinner outing in which his parents intercepted every pass meant for his friends and vice versa. "My first memory is playing touch football in my backyard and just wishing that the game would end, but they just seemed to go on forever. I'd just close my eyes and throw the ball and pray it would reach the right person, but my dad, uncle, creepy older cousin, or best friend always seemed to take advantage of my poor throws." A sobbing Grossman also confessed that his childhood pet Rocky, an elderly cocker spaniel, would often come up from behind him while he was holding the ball and nuzzle it with such force that he would fumble.