Mondays With Murray: He Does Everything Else Right

  It used to be known simply as the Bob Hope. Now the Desert Classic is sponsored by American Express, and it runs from Thursday through Sunday at PGA West in La Quinta CA.

  Today, we take you back to 1992 when Jim Murray took to his Sunday column to write about Phil Mickelson, the lefty from San Diego.






He Does Everything Else Right

 CARLSBAD — You can tell right away what Phil Mickelson is doing wrong over the golf ball. He’ll never get anywhere that way.

 He’s standing on the wrong side of it. He’s got it all mixed up. Someone should have straightened him out.

 Look! What’s the first thing they tell you on the lesson tee? Keep your left arm straight, right?

 Phil Mickelson’s is as loose as a wet noodle. You have to figure he’s hopeless.

 I can hear Jack Nicklaus telling me now, Lesson 2: “Put your weight on your right side going back, shift to your left side coming down.”

 Mickelson’s got it absolutely in reverse.

 You know, you listen to golf aficionados in the better locker rooms and, for a couple of mondaysmurray2years, they’ve been telling you Phil Mickelson is the next great player. John Daly is the wild card. He’s either going to make a 2 — or an 11. But Mickelson is the full house. He’ll make a 2 — or a 3.

 His credentials are impressive. He won consecutive NCAA championships.

Only two other guys have done that. He won the U.S. Amateur. That’s a major. He won the NCAA and the Amateur the same year. Only one other has done that — fellow named Jack Nicklaus.

 Then Mickelson won a pro tournament as an amateur. In the modern era, only Gene Littler, Doug Sanders and Scott Verplank have brought this off.

  So, you can see why golf has been telling you this is the New Nicklaus, the Next Palmer, the messiah, the throwback to the monarchy years.

 Then I went to see this pretender to the throne down here at the Infiniti Tournament of Champions at La Costa Spa and Resort.

 I was shocked. This guy plays the game backward.

       You’re amazed they let him get this far this way. He is — come closer — a left-hander!

 He’s the only left-hander who has ever won the U.S. Amateur. But the only other left-hander who has won a major is New Zealander Bob Charles, who grabbed the 1963 British Open in a playoff.

 Golf is tough enough without playing it backward.

 Now, I don’t know about you, but my teachers used to whack me across the knuckles if I wrote or ate with my left hand. It’s been considered bad luck or bad form since time immemorial.

 It’s nonsensical, I admit, but remember the word sinister comes from the Latin word for left-handed. (The word dexterous comes from the Latin word for right-handed — dexter — which gives you an idea what the ancients thought of southpaws: They were cursed.)

 It is the notion of your correspondent that fully 50 percent of the world population is left-handed. Some have been bullied out of it, others have bowed to custom.

 But golf has been as inhospitable to left-handers as a medieval soothsayer. It all but outlaws them, excommunicates them. Would you believe Ben Hogan, no less, was left-handed?

 You couldn’t get left-handed clubs hardly anywhere then, and particularly not if you were dirt-poor and caddying in Texas. Ben had to change over. Golf had no accommodation for left-handers. Change or get a job on a truck.

 Baseball has always been receptive to lefties. The bats were ambidextrous — there’s that word again — and the grand old game was replete with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Ted Williams — all great left-handers. Left-handed pitchers, more often than not, threw harder than righties. Tennis was slow to get on the bandwagon, but left-handers from McEnroe to Martina have sprung up all over the ad courts.

 So, you might say Phil Mickelson is an advance party for a rash of left-handed players and the toast of the Left-handers of America.

 Except, Phil Mickelson isn’t a left-hander!

 It’s a perfectly astonishing story. The only thing Phil Mickelson does left-handed is play golf. Otherwise, he’s as orthodox as a bishop. He eats, writes, scratches and dials phones with his right hand.

 It all happened when he was either 1-1/2 or 2 years old. His father was demonstrating the proper way to swing a golf club, and it was as if his young son were standing in front of a mirror. He did exactly what he saw his father do, swing the club from left to right.

 By the time his father realized what he had done, it was too late. His son had gotten comfortable over the ball swinging in reverse.

 It’s interesting that circumstances forced a natural left-hander such as

Hogan to strike the ball right-handed — and he became almost the premier striker of the ball in history. Accident turned Mickelson into a left-hander — and he bids fair to become one of the premier strikers of the ball of his generation.

 Whatever the genesis, Mickelson’s success is sure to set off a boom in lefty golf. There must be some golfing Cobbs, Stan the Mans, even Babe Ruths out there waiting to hit the ball naturally from the port side.

 Mickelson departs from the stereotype in another particular.

Left-handers, as a class, are supposed to be so flaky you could put bananas and cream on them.

 To be sure, Phil passed up the $180,000 he won for taking the Tucson Open last year. For remaining amateur, he couldn’t collect. But his reasons are as sound as a banker’s. He wants to stay in college. He wants a career to fall back on when the putts stop dropping. He figures that without competitive golf in college, his attitude — and his aptitude — will atrophy. To play college golf, he needs to remain amateur. To play pro golf, he would have to leave college.

 Bobby Jones remained amateur all his life. Jack Nicklaus, believe it or not, seriously considered it.

 But that was back when a U.S. Open victory paid $3,500 or $5,000, and the total purse money for the year was like $820,000. Now it’s $48 million.

 Mickelson will turn pro. He won’t say when for the record.

 But he’ll never turn right-handed. He’ll continue shifting his weight to the right at address with the Vees pointing to his right shoulder.

 He sees no reason he should have changed, no reason he can’t be a major success. There’s only one other left-hander on tour right now, Russ

Cochran, but if Mickelson starts adorning magazine covers, it should be like the spring breakup on the Yukon.

 Mickelson sees no problem with being left-handed. Doglegs go both ways on golf courses. Putts don’t care which side the golfer stands on.

 With a U.S. Amateur under his belt, Mickelson joins an august list on the tour — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Littler, Lanny Wadkins, Mark

O’Meara, Craig Stadler. Mickelson doesn’t worry about which side of the ball he stands on at address. He worries about which side he’s standing on after he hits it. He would like to be directly behind it. He usually is. He has a chance not only to be the greatest left-hander in history, but one of the greatest players in history. And the game sees nothing sinister in that.


Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116


What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website,


A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

Yukon politicians need to do better with dialysis file . . . More on Zach Tremblay . . . Fraser Valley hotdog king makes great decision

Allow me to throw a few words in the direction of politicians in the Yukon: Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) isn’t going away. In fact, as time goes on medical advancements are going to mean more diagnoses, meaning CKD is only going to take a bigger and bigger bite out of your population, as it is everywhere else. . . . In the medical community, it is generally accepted that one in 10 Canadians is living with kidney disease or is at risk, and most of those people are unaware of their situation. . . . I would suggest that Yukon isn’t a statistical anomaly, so I also would suggest that the fact there isn’t a community dialysis unit in your area of our country is something of an embarrassing tragedy. . . .

If you are a regular here, you will be aware that Terry Coventry, 74, died in Whitehorse General Hospital on Jan. 3. He had kidney disease and was doing hemodialysis in Vancouver until, plagued by loneliness, he chose to return home even though he knew he was facing certain death.

He invited media to visit with him in hospital in Whitehorse on Dec. 10, telling them: “I’m not afraid (of dying). I’m just kind of pissed off that there’s nothing they can do for me . . . I sure hope it’ll help the next person, you know? For whatever reason, we should have a dialysis here at the hospital. We don’t.”

Jackie Hong of Yukon News has reported that Coventry’s sister, Kelly, is picking up the torch that her brother had been carrying.

“Terry has gone peacefully and the way that he wanted to, and that gives me a great deal of joy,” Kelly told Hong earlier this week. “It also gives me a great deal of joy knowing we were able to kind of tick all of the boxes that he wanted to get accomplished before his passing, and the only thing left is getting a hemodialysis machine here in the Yukon. . . .

“The success is going to have a hemodialysis machine here in the Yukon so that people don’t have to experience what he experienced and when that happens, and I say when, not if . . .  then Terry’s last wish will be completed.

“Hopefully things will move quickly once everything is settled and I can sort of get the push on again.”

Here’s hoping that there are politicians in the north country who are paying attention and prepared to make a difference.

Hong’s complete story is right here.

Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, finally got to Vancouver on Monday. You will recall that they are from Robson, B.C., and that Zach, 16, is in need of a kidney transplant. Late last week, he began having some issues and the decision was made to get him to

Zach Tremblay is 16 now, and he still needs a kidney. The phone numbers will get you to the Live Donor Exchange Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Vancouver so his medical team could take a look.

Just to complete the story that began then. . . .

Unable to fly out of Trail, B.C., due to inclement weather in various locations, Zach and Jana ended up making the trip to Kelowna via ground ambulance. Jana posted late Sunday night/early Monday morning:

“Kelowna — safe and sound — BUT, and that’s a mighty big butt, there’s nothing nice to be said about travelling facing backwards and not being able to see where we were going. 🤢

“Settled in for the night , and onward to Van tomorrow

“We truly love you all.”


On Monday morning, she posted:

“We are still in Kelowna. We woke to a huge snow storm and I don’t think planes are moving right now. His BP was pretty stable overnight and he’s resting well . . . no idea when we will get to Van but eventually we will.

“Thanks for staying on this crazy ride.

“Love to you all.”


Later Monday, she wrote:

“We have FINALLY arrived in Van — no real updates — he’s getting the care he needs and we are where we need to be for now.

“We thank you all for the love and support and for just loving our boy and our family.

“#TeamZach is one of a kind of and we are blessed to have each and every one of you a part of it.”


On Thursday night, Jana told me that Zach’s medical team has decided that peritoneal dialysis “isn’t working well for him anymore and he will be having a hemo catheter placed” on Friday.

Once Zach’s situation stabilizes, he and Jana will return home, after which his care will be placed in the hands of the staff at a hospital in Trail, B.C., which is about 30 km south of Robson.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, perhaps to help Zach or anyone else in need of a kidney, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873


“Skully White is known around Abbotsford as a charitable guy,” wrote Vikki Hopes of the Abbotsford News. . . . Hopes then went on to chronicle many of White’s contributions to the community and, believe me, there are a lot of them. . . . Now, though, Hopes is taking charity to a whole new level. . . . “He’s donating a kidney to one of his customers, Tim Hiscock,” Hopes wrote. . . . Hopes’ story of how this all came about is right here.

Scattershooting on a Monday evening while wondering how many ex-WHLers have been Saran-wrapped to pillars . . .


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, has written a piece involving former Spokane Chiefs player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer. It has to do with a hazing incident that Sawyer says occurred with the Chiefs early in the 2005-06 season.

At that time, Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs; Jared Spurgeon was a freshman defenceman who hadn’t yet had his 16th birthday.

“Sawyer, for those who haven’t been introduced, is a former hockey goon and coach who now wears rose-tinted glasses and prattles on endlessly about the do-no-wrong Winnipeg Jets on TSN3,” Swansson writes, “and he attained unparalleled standards in stupidity by sharing his ‘favourite’ Jared Spurgeon story on Saturday.

“ ‘He was a 15-year-old . . . two months into the season we Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air. He was tiny. He looked like he was 12. So smart,’ Sawyer informed viewers.

“Seriously. Sawyer engaged in the boys-will-be-boys hazing of a 15-year-old kid while an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs and now, in today’s climate of zero tolerance and retro-punishment for bullying, he’s bragging about it on TV?

What part of ‘you have the right to remain silent’ does he not understand?”

Spurgeon, an Edmonton native, played five seasons (2005-10) with the Chiefs. He now is into his 10th season with NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs from 2004-06, and again in 2013-14.

Bill Peters was the Chiefs’ first-year head coach in 2005-06 when the incident of which Sawyer spoke would have taken place.

This kind of behaviour, and worse, was rather commonplace in the WHL back in the day, which, when you think about it, wasn’t that long ago. There are a lot of former players out there, like Sawyer, who don’t see anything wrong with this kind of thing. Because it happened to them, the seem to think, it should happen to even today’s first-year players.

In fact, the way some of them see it, those who play hockey at the junior level have become a lot softer due to the elimination of hazing and the decrease in the number of fights.

I fail to understand how Saran-wrapping someone to a post, stuffing naked teenagers into a bus washroom and cranking up the heat, making those same players run up and down the aisle in a bus while whacking them in the area of the genitals with various items such as coat hangers, urinating on teammates while they sit naked in a shower, or shaving a young player’s genitals and painting the area with shoe polish had anything to do with someone’s degree of toughness. And, no, not everyone enjoyed it; in fact, there are players out there who lost their love for the game after being hazed.

Anyway . . . Swansson’s complete piece is right here.

If you haven’t yet read about the Russian people who thought their boys had won yesterday’s WJC final because they were watching a game from another year, well, Check out the thread on Slava Malamud’s tweet . . .

It wasn’t long after Canada had wrapped up its 4-3 championship game victory over Russia at the World Junior Championship on Sunday that Hockey Canada posted a message to social media: Get your gold medal-winning merchandise here.

Just wondering, but how much of the money from the merch goes to the players?

The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer. Canada, of course, will play its games in Edmonton where the arena is almost three times larger than the Centrium in Red Deer.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has looked at some numbers and determined that based on the prices being charged for ticket packages, the tournament “has the potential to generate about $38 million in revenues before it sells a single advertisement, corporate sponsorship package or replica sweater.”

In a column that is right here, he suggests the time has come to pay the players — not just the Canadian players, but all of the players.

Reese Kettler, 19, suffered a catastrophic injury while playing for the St. Vital Victorias of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League in Winnipeg on Dec. 19. He was left with four fractured vertebrae and is paralyzed from the chest down. . . . His father, Trevor, has told Winnipeg radio station CJOB that the family is taking things one day at a time. “We’re celebrating the small victories as they occur,” Trevor said. . . . There is a whole lot more right here, including a link to a GoFundMe page.

Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history, died on New Year’s Day. He was 90. . . . Larsen’s perfect game came while he was with the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series. . . . But there was more, a whole lot more, to Larsen than his right arm. It was outfielder Mickey Mantle who once referred to Larsen as “easily the greatest drinker I’ve known, and I’ve known some pretty good ones in my time.”

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle reminisced about Larsen:

“In 1956, the Yankees were startled to learn that Larsen had a secret marriage. In July ’55 he had left his wife, Vivian, only three months after she had given birth. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, ‘Don insisted that the marriage be kept secret; he was marrying her only for the sake of the child. He left her with no intention of returning because he was not ready to settle down.’

“Such matters do not remain private for long. In October ’56, Vivian filed a complaint over Larsen’s failure to pay child support. A judge had ruled that Larsen’s World Series share was at risk of being seized by the Bronx Supreme Court — and there was a court order at his locker on the day he took the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series.

“Rattled? Not exactly. Larsen pitched the only perfect game in Series history. Up in the press box, New York Daily News writer Joe Trimble experienced a bit of a freeze, unable to find the appropriate beginning to his story. As the story goes, legendary colleague Dick Young leaned over and typed these words into Trimble’s typewriter: ‘The imperfect man pitched a perfect game.’ ”

I happened to stumble across a rebroadcast of Game 5 from the 1956 World Series on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Sunday afternoon. Oh my, what a treat to be able to spend some time listening to Mel Allen and Vin Scully.

Referee Mike Dean booked Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho during a recent 1-0 loss to Southampton. “I clearly deserved the yellow card, as I was rude,” Mourinho told reporters. “But I was rude to an idiot.”

General manager Alan Millar announced Monday afternoon that the Moose Jaw Warriors have fired head coach Tim Hunter. The Warriors are 2-15-1 since they last won MooseJawWarriorstwo straight games on Nov. 8 and 9. . . . Hunter, 59, was in his sixth season with the Warriors. In his first season, the Warriors went 32-35-5. This season, they are 11-22-2 and 15 points out of a playoff spot. In between, he never had a losing regular season, but wasn’t able to get past the second round of playoffs. Hunter had a 189-134-33 regular-season record in Moose Jaw. . . . Mark O’Leary, who had been the associate coach, is the new head coach. . . . O’Leary, a 34-year-old native of Owen Sound, Ont., is in his seventh season with the Warriors. . . . Millar is in his 10th season with the Warriors. He was the director of hockey operations for two seasons before being named general manager. Millar said that he chose to make a decision now because Hunter was in the last year of his contract and a new one wasn’t going to be offered. . . . Hunter leaves as the winningest coach, with those 189 victories, and second in games coached (356). . . . O’Leary takes over with a 24-6-5 record, having filled in while Hunter fulfilled Hockey Canada commitments, including a stint as head coach of the national junior team just one year ago. . . . The Warriors, who are scheduled to entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday, are the first WHL team to make a coaching change during this season.

“Maddon’s Post — the Wrigleyville restaurant co-owned by Joe Maddon — closed after just seven months in business and just three months after Maddon was fired as Cubs manager,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Repeat customers figured something was amiss when the bar ran out of relief pitchers.”


One more from Perry: “Useful household hint making the rounds on the internet — ‘Remember, every time the Cleveland Browns fire a head coach, you should change the air filter in your furnace.’ ”

JUST NOTES: Just wondering but how long before there is a t-shirt available the front of which is that TV camera with a gold medal hanging from it? . . . Having survived another year of pre- and post-Christmas shopping and a Sunday afternoon trek to Costco, I have reached the conclusion that it is time for big box stores to make shoppers hand over their phones before entering. That is sure to cut down on the near mid-aisle collisions involving those who make sudden stops to check/use their phones. . . . It appears that Dan Lambert, a former player and coach, has survived something of a coaching purge in Nashville where the Predators dumped head coach Peter Laviolette and associate coach Kevin McCarthy, himself a former WHLer, on Monday. Lambert spent the past two seasons as head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs before signing with Nashville over the summer. . . . Thanks to Gary Bettman and the NHL’s regional telecasts, four of the TSN channels available in my home were blacked out on Monday evening. Yeah, that’s the way to market your game.

Mondays With Murray: Two for the Price of One

  Today, we take you back to a time in the NFL when seeing a female reporter in the locker room was not quite as commonplace as it is today,  and it caused a big problem for the then-owner of the New England Patriots.

  Because of the importance of this subject matter, we offer two columns. The first from June of 1990 and the second from October 1996.






Taking the Wraps Off Stupidity

  I guess I have to address the Lisa Olson-locker room sexual harassment issue. Everyone else has.

  The party line, we journalists’ stance, is: How dare these scumbag athletes harass this sportswriter in the dressing room just because she’s a female? OK, I’ll buy that. I’m a mondaysmurray2journalist. I’m on her side.

  And sexual harassment of any kind is unconscionable whether it takes place at the office water cooler or Central Park. It’s ugly, dangerous. It’s criminal. Do it in Central Park and you go to jail. Do it in the New England Patriots’ locker room and the owner profanely defends you.

  OK, to sum up, here is my view:

  1) Lisa Olson, as an accredited journalist, had every right to be in the football locker room. As a woman and a citizen, she had every right to be free from sexual harassment by a gang of allegedly naked bullies. Anywhere.

  2) Harassment of journalists by athletes in locker rooms is not new and predates women in the locker room by about a century. It went on before women went in locker rooms. It’ll go on after.

  Item: Sam Wyche, Cincinnati coach, was fined $30,000 for denying a female reporter access to his locker room. Jim McMahon never even got a reprimand from the league for blowing his nose in the direction of a reporter in another locker room in San Diego.

  Like most sportswriters, I have been abused, vilified, threatened and ignored in locker rooms, even thrown out of one once by a ballplayer who didn’t like something I wrote. It’s one of the hazards of the business. If you put out oil-well fires, you expect to get burned. You deal with athletes who have just lost a ballgame — or a World Series — you expect to get abused.

  When the harassment takes on sexual overtones, it becomes ugly, although there were jeers along those lines even in the all-male days.

  I am old-fashioned enough to have been shocked when the first women appeared in locker rooms. And, frankly, if I were an athlete, I would not want a chorus of strange women watching me take a shower. I do not look good in a shower. I don’t work out often enough and I prefer to meet women in a tuxedo if possible.

  However, having said that, I must admit that I have never seen a female reporter behave in anything but a highly professional manner in a locker room. I have never heard one tell a leering, off-color joke about it afterward. I have heard plenty from male reporters.

  The interesting point about equal access is that most of the time male reporters are not permitted to enter women’s locker rooms, so female reporters have to be barred (from women’s locker rooms), too. In other words, if men can’t go in, neither can women.

  So, tennis and golf and volleyball and track dressing rooms are generally off-limits to all reporters, and the cognizant associations require their athletes to consent to a news conference immediately after the competition in a neutral site where dress is not optional.

  It’s come to this anyway in major athletic events. A Super Bowl. With upward of 1,500 sportswriters on hand, the league has had to resort to the postgame tactic of bringing the star performers to a mass interview staging area where they stand on platforms to field questions from the media. The World Series has had to do that, too, although in both cases the locker rooms are also open.

  The rub is, in this day of super-saturation of an event by television, print reporters have to come up with another dimension to the story, other than who-won-and-how. To do this, they need the one-on-one, locker-side interview.

  It wasn’t always this way. Back in the old, pre-TV days, plenty of beat reporters never bothered with the locker room. Jim Brosnan, who pitched for several seasons in the old Coast League, was at my house and I idly mentioned a writer who had covered the team for years. “You know so-and-so?” I asked Brosnan. He shook his head. “But you must have seen him in the locker room in all those years?” “Never,” said Brosnan. “He never came in.”

  You can’t do that today.

  The Constitution guarantees equal rights for all. There are laws to protect women from sexual harassment. These are facts that should have been known by the owner of the New England Patriots.

  To me, the reactions of the owner are as reprehensible as those of his players. Victor Kiam, as an owner, should know how important the media is to his sport. You don’t expect rookie players to realize that they’re getting $2 million a year to bounce a ball upcourt or fall on a fumble because of the millions of words of free publicity given to their sport. Owners should know it. Owners should also know the Constitution. Football players sleep through classes. Guys who own electric-razor companies presumably don’t. Kiam’s insensitive remarks smacked of those guys who cheered a rape in a Massachusetts bar.

  Equal access has been court-ordered by a federal judge (and a woman at that), Victor, and you and your team better get used to it.

The social scientists tell us we are trending toward a unisex society anyway. Well, the hell with that. On that, I’m on the side of the French, Vive la difference!

  But the relationship between athlete and journalist in a locker room is, too often, an adversarial one. There are mature adult athletes who recognize the value to their profession of publicity. Then there are those who refuse to talk to the media at all. Their privilege.

  Then there are the cretins who profanely and obscenely knock you out of their space. It’s probably good news for everybody that they have been called to account, and Lisa Olson may have taken a big step toward promoting civility to all in the locker room. If you still have confidence in the system, that is.

  As Lincoln said, “To give any man (or woman) freedom is to give it to yourself. To deny any man freedom is to deny it for yourself.


JUNE 30, 1996 SPORTS



As Owner, He Wasn’t the Victor

  Well, don’t talk to Victor Kiam unless you want to be disenchanted. He owned the Remington electric razor company and a few other lucrative and thriving businesses when the ownership of the New England Patriots pro football team was up for grabs. The Sullivan family, which had owned it since inception, came on hard times — mostly through sponsoring a Michael Jackson concert tour.

  Victor Kiam bought the Patriots. He thought it would be a nice hobby, might get his picture in Sports Illustrated. Movie stars promoting their pictures might be coming through and would like to see the Patriots play the Cowboys on a Sunday. They’d ring him up.

  Then came the day when Kiam, so to speak, found himself on the Bears’ five-yard line. Standing there with the ball and no one open and a 350-pound lineman with a bad temper trying to get at him.

  Pro football can be a very dangerous game. I mean, how’d you like to find yourself on the Chicago Bears’ five-yard line, third and goal, with a minute to play and the Bears four points ahead?

  Or would you prefer to be fading back to pass with a guy they call the Refrigerator bearing down on you?

  But if the game is tough on the field, it’s supposed to be a piece of cake in the front office. You know. You sit in your luxury box and entertain a dozen of your best corporate friends. You get the best tables at restaurants. Secretaries of state try to get on your jet to go to the Super Bowl, maybe even the vice-president.

  It’s the good life, right? The American Dream, owner’s division.

  It looked like the good life. Money as far as the eye could see. The product was expensive, but depreciation was generous and compared to making razors, a glamorous way to make a living.

  It all happened because of the league’s press rule. The one that said female sportswriters had the same access to men’s locker rooms after the game that men had. This was somehow thought to be because men had an unfair advantage in being able to get to the athletes before they had time to cool down, collect their thoughts. It’s a highly dubious proposition, but political correctness doesn’t always depend on reason.

  What happened next was a now-infamous confrontation between Lisa Olson of the Boston Herald and tight end Zeke Mowatt of the Patriots. Kiam was about to be tackled for a big loss.

  In a postgame session in the locker room, Mowatt made what is, by all standards, a disgusting gesture toward Olson. She was outraged and she said so loudly and publicly.

  Well, it became a cause celebre. Some athletes fled into the night recognizing the affair for the ticking package it was. Some sided with Olson, others sided with Mowatt.

  Journalism rallied around Olson. After all, freedom of the press was at stake here.

  Soon, Kiam got drawn in. Not surprisingly, he sided with his player. He found himself quoted as calling the reporter “a classic bitch.” His denials — “I don’t use those words!” — were too late.

  Lawyers came from everywhere. So did women’s groups. Depositions flew around like leaves in a high wind. Kiam’s public image was a shambles. Some of Olson’s depositions seemed to leave questions.

  In this one, it seemed, everybody would be a loser. The league levied fines, but there is some question as to whether they were ever collected. Olsen eventually took a newspaper job in Australia.

  Meanwhile, back at the counting house, Kiam was like a guy in a bunker. Women’s groups called for a boycott of his razors and other products. Since he also owned Lady Remington jewelry company, this was not funny.

  Lawyers’ fees were crippling. So was public obloquy. The more Kiam protested Olson’s version of events, the more he emerged as a villain.

  Kiam had always been an impetuous entrepreneur. After his wife had given him a Remington razor one Christmas, he liked it so much he bought the company. He did its TV commercials himself.

  He didn’t always fare so well. He tells of mistakes he made. He had a chance to buy a product featuring a fabric that adhered to itself re-usably without zippers or tracks but he turned it down. It became known as Velcro. He also sold 1,000 shares in a computer chip company called Intel. He sold for $23,500. If he held, those shares would be worth $5 million today.

  But he leaped at the chance to buy the Patriots. “I lost $30 million,” he ruefully confessed the other day. He tried twice to move the franchise, he says. He was turned down. He is currently suing the league because at least one of the owners who blocked him has since moved himself.

  He finally had to sell the Patriots. He also had to sell part of his Remington holdings to make up for losses. The guy with the ball on the Bears’ five-yard-line had it easy by comparison.

  Kiam, back to entrepreneurship, was in town with his newest product, EarPlanes, a device to banish ear discomfort on airline landings and takeoffs. He has kicked football.

  In the musical ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, there is a lugubrious character playing the part of Sitting Bull whose constant complaint and refrain to those around him is the advice “No put money in show business!”

Victor Kiam wishes he had been listening.


Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116


What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website,


A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

A mother’s love, courage needed to deal with son’s illness . . . Calgary MP continues to push organ donor bill

ZachIt takes a whole lot of courage to deal with kidney disease on a daily basis while doing dialysis, either peritoneal or hemo, and waiting and hoping for a phone call telling you that a match has been found and, yes, it’s your turn.

I can’t imagine what it must be like when the person with kidney disease is your child.

Consider the situation in which Jana Tremblay of Robson, B.C., finds herself as she waits and hopes and searches for a kidney for her son, Zach, who is 16 years of age.

As has been detailed here on previous occasions, Zach has experienced one failed transplant and now, on top of everything else, has anti-body issues that make finding a match a bit more difficult. And then, this weekend, there were more issues.

On Saturday morning, Jana wrote:

“Because life just likes to keep us on our toes, we are currently sitting in Trail Hospital, awaiting air transport to Vancouver. Zach has very high BP, and needs some TLC from his team.

“And just to throw an extra kink into things, weather in Van and Kelowna has our flight on hold . . . that’s a switch. 😜

Keep good thoughts for our boy.”


On Sunday morning, Jana greeted us with:

“Mornin’! We are still in Trail, awaiting transport or an update from them . . . gotta love winter in BC.”


Later Sunday came this:

“Captain’s log — Day3

“We are still in Trail — no big enough windows for us to move (Sunday). Today’s delays brought to you by Mama Nature and winter in the Koots!

“BP is slowly coming down, and he’s a little more like our boy.

“Backup plan for (Monday) is ambulance to Kelowna and hopefully fly from there.

“Join Team Zach and we can promise you it’s never a dull moment!!

“Much love and thanks to you all, for loving and supporting us the way you all do — indescribable and amazing.”


Then, just before 10 p.m., Jana wrote:

“And JUST like that things change. We are currently on our way to Kelowna via ambulance. Hopefully fly from there tomorrow fingers crossed.”


There really is nothing like a mother’s love, and the courage they show in times like this is off the charts. . . . Now if only Jana’s phone would ring . . .

When the Canadian government begins to debate private members’ business late next month, the first bill on the agenda will deal with organ donation. . . . Len Webber, a Conservative Member of Parliament from Calgary, won a lottery that gives him the first slot in that debate. He will use the time to revive a bill that that came close to becoming law in 2019. . . . “Webber’s office cites research that suggests that while 90 per cent of Canadians say they support organ donation,” writes Janyce McGregor of CBC News, “only about one in four or five Canadians (has) signed up with their provincial or territorial registries. Without more donors — including donors from diverse ethnic groups — patients die before transplant matches become available. Webber’s bill would make it easier to register by adding the option to the bottom of the federal tax return, similar to the question there now that seeks consent to update Elections Canada’s voters list with the tax filer’s current address.” . . . The bill actually was passed in Parliament late in 2018, but wasn’t able to get through the Senate before the 2019 federal election. . . . “The bill is about giving people who require a life-saving organ a second chance and this drawing has given my bill a second chance of life, too,” Webber told McGregor. “I believe that there’s a God up there, and even more so now.” . . . McGregor’s complete story, including why Webber is so committed to his bill, is right here.

Robin Warshaw of has written an interesting piece that is headlined: You’re Never Too Old To Be An Organ Donor. . . . That piece is right here.

Zach’s search for kidney continues . . . Coventry hoped his death will bring change to Yukon

Gord McIntyre of Postmedia chatted with Jana Tremblay the other day and the result — a story on Jana’s son Zach — was in Vancouver’s two daily papers on Friday. . . . The hunt is on for a kidney for Zach, 16, who spends 14 hours a day undergoing dialysis. The Tremblays live in Robson, B.C., just across the Columbia River from Castlegar. . . . McIntyre’s story is right here.

I first wrote about Zach in October. That piece is right here.

NOTE: Just as I posted this on Saturday morning, Jana Tremblay was putting a note on Facebook . . .

“Because life just likes to keep us on our toes, we are currently sitting in Trail Hospital, awaiting air transport to Vancouver. Zach has very high BP , and needs some TLC from his team.
And just to throw an extra kink into things , weather in Van has our flight on hold … that’s a switch 😜
Keep good thoughts for our boy.”

We’re thinking about you, Zach.

Terry Coventry lived in Whitehorse for 61 years; he died of kidney failure in Whitehorse on Friday at the age of 74. . . . Coventry died four weeks after a final dialysis treatment. . . . He had ended up at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in July and spent four months there. With dialysis treatment unavailable in Whitehorse and not wanting to relocate to Vancouver, Coventry returned to the Yukon city to die.

On Dec. 10, Coventry called reporters to his bedside in Whitehorse General Hospital. “Maybe my death, and my complaint here, will trigger something in the government so the next guy coming along can be here and won’t be shipped down south,” Coventry told reporters. “I’m going to die. That’s it . . . I’m not afraid, I’m just kind of pissed off.”

Steve Silva of CBC News has more right here.

Gabrielle Pivonka of the Whitehorse Star was among the reporters at Coventry’s bedside on Dec. 10. Her story, which is right here, helps to explain why hemo-dialysis isn’t available in Whitehorse.

Those involved with The Kidney Project feel that they are moving ever closer to eliminating the need for dialysis. . . . The team reported in November that U of California — San Francisco “scientists have successfully implanted a prototype kidney bioreactor containing functional human kidney cells into pigs without significant safety concerns. The device, which is about the size of a deck of cards, did not trigger an immune reaction or cause blood clots in the animals, an important milestone on the road to future human trials.” . . . Team member Shuvo Roy, PhD, said in a news release: “This is the first demonstration that kidney cells can be implanted successfully in a large animal without immunosuppression and remain healthy enough to perform their function. This is a key milestone for us. . . . Based on these results, we can now focus on scaling up the bioreactor and combining it with the blood filtration component of the artificial kidney.” . . . The complete news release is right here.

Picard looks at the Chopped Livers . . . Toronto reporter details her kidney transplant


André Picard, a healthy reporter and columnist with The Globe and Mail, had an interesting story on Saturday. The print story was headlined ‘Giving life, and a bit of liver, to a stranger,’ while online it carried this headline: ‘Meet the Chopped Livers — altruistic Canadians who have donated a part of their livers to strangers to save lives’ . . . The story mostly deals with people who have chosen to donate a piece of their liver to those in need. . . .

Picard’s story included this:

“Given the dire shortage of organs for transplant — there are 3,150 Canadians waiting for a kidney and 527 waiting for a liver — public appeals are on the rise.

“That makes many clinicians and ethicists uncomfortable. They worry that desperately needed organs will go to those with compelling stories rather than those most in need, as illustrated by the case of Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Ottawa Senators, who received a liver transplant in 2015 after a public appeal.

“More than 500 people offered to donate a part of their liver to Mr. Melnyk, and 20 of them actually continued with the process to become living donors.”

After the response to Melnyk’s appeal in 2015 and the ensuing successful transplant, I sometimes wondered how many of the potential donors had gone ahead even after not being selected to help him. Now I know.

Picard’s story is right here.

We’ll be back next year! Happy New Year!!!