Tuesday, January 07, 2003

STEP AWAY FROM THE INJURY REPORT: If you're a fan of college sports and wonder why it's more difficult than it used to be to find out the nature of a player's injury, this posting from TarHeelBlue.com, the official UNC sports Web site, offers the answer: It's against the law.

Here's writer Lee Pace, answering a query about the medical status of two current hoopsters:

"This seems like an easy question to those of us used to simply asking the trainer about medical ailments of college athletes. However, it's no longer quite that easy. The NCAA recently adopted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The legislation is complicated but essentially boils down to the fact that a college trainer (in this case, head hoops trainer Marc Davis) can no longer discuss the nature of an athlete's injuries with anyone. Our understanding is that Davis would be breaking the law if he even uttered which body part might be holding back Grant or McCants, although we know through other mediums that it's the big man's knees and McCants's right index finger. Even if Grant was standing before you with a colossal cast on his left knee and you asked Davis what was wrong with the big guy, all he could say is, 'Injured.'
"That's a longwinded way of saying that it's very difficult under the new rule to get a medical explanation for injuries."

PEP TALK: Julius Peppers, fellow Tar Heel and a graduate of Southern Nash Senior High School near Rocky Mount, the same institution from which my lovely wife matriculated, is the NFL's defensive rookie of the year. The naysayers who argued that the Carolina Panthers should have selected Joey Harrington or Quentin Jammer with the No. 2 pick in last year's draft -- rather than the awesome Mr. Peppers -- should be properly admonished. The Panthers improved from 1-15 last season to 7-9 this year on the strength of the defense, which went from a sieve to the league's second-best, thanks in large part to Peppers' 12 sacks (in 12 games), his ability to stop the run and his overall intimidation of opponents. Think Lawrence Taylor (another Heel) only larger (6'6", 290#), stronger and quicker. My only regret is that Pep's football career has kept him off the hardwood, where he would have prevented the Heel hoopsters from losing 20 games last season and would be be a godsend as an inside scorer, defender and rebounder on this year's squad ... particularly since they've lost another big body with terrific basketball IQ, Sean May, to a broken foot.

MORE ON JOHNNY: Geitner Simmons, who was an editorial writer in North Carolina during John Edwards' Senate campaign and conducted an extensive interview with the candidate, has some interesting observations about the presidential hopeful. An excerpt:

"I'd say the key to Edwards' political fortunes is his public persona. It's what I call the Boy Scout persona: dear, sweet John -- of course we can trust him!

"In that sense, Edwards reminds me of Oliver North. In the summer of '87, the national press and a lot of Washington politicians piled on North (rightly, in my view) for helping run a covert foreign policy operation without the slightest public accountability -- but it was all for naught. At the much-awaited investigative committee hearings, North used his God-and-country-good-soldier persona as an impenetrable shield against the nitpicking by Inouye and all the others. Same thing with Edwards. His persona is his shield: Dear, sweet John as an opportunistic, sleazy lawyer? No way -- he's a decent-minded fellow just standing up for people's rights for redress. It's the American way."

Just like John Hood, Geitner doesn't think Edwards will necessarily win the Democratic nomination, much less the White House, but again, Edwards' challengers would be wise to take him very seriously.