Sports stories that fly under the radar


Life is full of interesting sports stories—so many stories, so little time. It’s impossible to catch them all, and some fly under the radar. The following items may not have made headlines, but they are interesting nonetheless.

And we would do well to remember, as someone once said, “In the department store of human affairs, sports are, after all, the toy department.”

• “Our mascot is tougher than your mascot!”

Consider the student from Ohio University, aka the school’s Bobcat mascot, who tackled Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye, touching off an impromptu wresting match before a football game at Ohio State.

The Bobcat went after Brutus as the OSU mascot led the Buckeyes onto the field for the game. But the Bobcat didn’t stop there, climbing on the back of Ohio State’s mascot and riding him to the ground. The two tussled in the end zone while fans booed.

The student in the Bobcat costume was banned from any further affiliation with Ohio athletics, and Ohio University apologized to Ohio State and its fans for the premeditated mascot misdeed.

Meanwhile, Brandon Hanning, formerly known as Ohio University’s Rufus Bobcat, said, “I tried out about a year ago, and the whole reason I tried out was so I could come up here to Ohio State and tackle Brutus.”

Really?

Ohio University’s football coach summed it up when he said, “Obviously, we needed to tackle the guy with the ball, not the mascot.”

If Hanning had any remorse, it was well disguised. He said, “I think I planned it pretty well… and I definitely would have done it again.”

For what it’s worth, Hanning has since transferred to nearby Hocking College.

• “There’s more to life than professional football.”

Athletes leave the NFL for a variety of reasons, usually because of injuries, age, an arrest or scandal. In a more unusual case, running back Glen Coffee announced an end to his professional football career after just one season because of his faith.

“I found Christ in college. It changed my views on everything,” Coffee said. “His will, I felt, wasn’t football.”

Coffee was a promising running back, too, selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Before joining San Francisco, he was a starter for the University of Alabama and was named to the Associate Press All-SEC first team.

Mike Singletary, head coach of the 49ers, who himself is a man of faith, respected Coffee’s decision and did not try to change his mind.

“I appreciate his honesty and I appreciate him not coming out here going through the motions,” Singletary said.

As for Coffee, he plans to return to the University of Alabama to get an undergraduate degree in consumer affairs, before pursuing a master’s.

• “Hold the champagne; pour on the ginger ale.”

This distinction goes to Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and his teammates.

Hamilton, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction, said it’s best for him not to be around champagne.

After the Rangers defeated Tampa Bay in the playoffs, a clubhouse attendant told Hamilton to get his goggles on. Hamilton was a little worried.

He walked into the clubhouse to find his teammates waiting on him and holding bottles of Canada Dry ginger ale. They doused him with it.

“It was the coolest thing for my teammates to understand why I can’t be a part of the celebration, and for them to adapt it for me to be a part of it says a lot about my teammates,” Hamilton said. “The guys really doused me good. This stuff burns your eyes just like the alcohol does.”


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