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Let sleeping dogs lie or Griese will trip on them

BY STEVE JACKSON
The SportsMonday Column
Published September 29, 2002

If you ever get drunk and hurt yourself, don't bother asking Brian Griese for advice on drafting a story to explain it. The former Michigan and current Denver Bronco quarterback is obviously out of ideas. This week he claimed that his random ankle injury was caused by his dog, a golden retriever named Bella.

"I was walking down the stairs and my dog came barreling down the stairs after me and clipped me, and I kind of twisted my ankle on the stairs," Griese told reporters at his weekly press conference. "These things happen. Unfortunately, it happened to me."

I'd be tempted to give Griese the benefit of the doubt; after all, he did lead the Wolverines to a national title in 1997. But given his history, I'd say it's much more likely that this ankle injury was the result of some sort of drunken mishap.

While at Michigan, he was arrested after he shattered the main window at Scorekeepers bar in Ann Arbor. Witnesses said he was more liquored up then the coach who recruited him, Gary Moeller.

Back in May, Griese claimed that he was sacked for a loss by the driveway of teammate Terrell Davis. If you want to believe his story, Griese fell down because the driveway was too steep. Regardless of how the injury occurred, the fact remains that Griese was knocked unconscious and an ambulance was called to the scene. He needed seven stitches on his face and he chipped his tooth.

This wonderful story took place at a barbeque, during which Griese had consumed "a few beers." A few beers to Griese might be a half-barrel to the rest of the Denver community.

"It was a barbeque, and it wouldn't be a barbeque without (beer)," Griese told ESPN in May. "But that had no bearing on whether I fell or not."

Oh, I beg to differ. If not for alcohol, I think that a reasonable person would catch his fall with something other than his teeth. When sober people fall, they hurt their wrists, not their faces. Oh, and last time I checked you could grill without beer - unless you're an alcoholic.

Last year, Griese pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and was placed on 12 months probation after failing a breathalyzer test when he was stopped for speeding.

Griese is listed as probable for tonight's game against Baltimore. His backup, Steve Beuerlein, has two little yippy Shih Tzus dogs in his house. The Denver coaches will make sure he wears a helmet at all times.

Unfortunately, stories of ridiculous injuries are all too common in the world of sports. Dogs, driveways and alcohol are only a few of the many everyday items that our athletic heroes can injure themselves with. Despite the best efforts of all the other athletes, major league baseball dominates the discussion of random and ridiculous injuries.

Former San Francisco Giants' manager Roger Craig cut his hand on a bra strap. I imagine that he "played" through that injury. One of his best players, Kevin Mitchell, missed a few games because of an unknown mishap that occurred while he was eating a cupcake.

Wade Boggs will be in the Hall of Fame some day, and while many will remember him for his self-proclaimed "sex addiction," his trainers will never forget the time he threw out his back while trying to put on his cowboy boots.

Ricky Henderson, a.k.a. the best leadoff hitter of all time, missed a game because of frostbite - in August. Atlanta Braves' closer John Smoltz burned himself while ironing his clothes - while he was still wearing them. Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine gave new meaning to the term "star hurler," when he broke a rib while vomiting up airline food.

Amazingly, every single one of those moronic injuries took place without the aid of any mind-altering substance. So, when you think about it, Griese was capable of just about anything.

No one will ever know for sure exactly what took place in the Griese house Wednesday. Only the quarterback and his dog know the truth, and the dog is more likely to urinate on a Denver newspaper than to talk to one.

Steve Jackson can be reached at sjjackso@umich.edu.


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