After This, How About a Little Nerf Jousting?


Throughout America and in parts of Beverly Hills, Christmas shopping season traditionally begins the day after Thanksgiving.

Toys R Us got a jump on the kid-sports retailing field Wednesday, laying down the ceremonial first gauntlet.

The company’s full-page color advertisement in Wednesday’s USA Today sports section read:

“What do you get for feuding fourth graders?

“Nerf fencing, en garde!

“Modern day swordsmen can settle their differences the safe Nerf way. The foam blades allow kids to ‘parry-parry-thrust’ and safely jab back the specially-marked targets on their opponents’ sword hilts.


“This action-packed contest of skill and speed is for two players ages 8 and up.”

Trivia time: Name the former Minnesota Viking kicker who originally patented the Nerf ball.

Chapter 11 1/2: At the news conference to announce next April’s George Foreman-Evander Holyfield heavyweight championship bout at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, co-promoter Dan Duva said:

“There is one major problem with the fight. (Donald) Trump had to go to his bankers and get permission for one more major expenditure--George Foreman’s meal allowance.”

Face off: Do you believe in documentary evidence?

If so, a passage in Lawrence Martin’s new book, “The Red Machine,” might lead you away from a notion that has been frozen in the minds of most North Americans for more than a century.

Martin contends that ice hockey was played in Russia “before the first recorded Canadian exhibition.” He is bucking conventional wisdom, which says hockey originated from a game played by Englishmen on the ice-covered harbor at Kingston, Ontario, in 1860.

According to Martin, there is “documentary evidence that Russians were playing the game in the middle of the 19th century” in Leningrad, then known as St. Petersburg.


He added: “We live under this myth that it is a Canadian game.”

Rookie of the century: From Alan Robinson of the Associated Press: “Mickey Mantle’s 1952 salary was $5,000. His baseball card from that season is now selling for $8,000.”

Shotgun start, or what?: Persian Gulf crisis or no Persian Gulf crisis, the Desert Golf Classic in Dubai, scheduled for February 7-10, is a go.

The Dubai Aluminum Company had something to do with that, coming forward with $700,000 in prize money for the opening event on next year’s European tour.

Addressing obvious concerns, Ian Livingstone, the company’s chief executive, said Wednesday: “Dubai is geographically remote from the crisis in the Northern Gulf. Business is continuing normally here and the Dubai Desert Classic will help to emphasize this point by attracting top players from Europe and other parts of the world.”

A Dawg’s life: From Steve Hubbard of the Pittsburgh Press: “In his passion to put the Browns in the Super Bowl before he dies, (Cleveland owner) Art Modell ought to remember this: They appeared in 11 NFL or All-America Conference championship games in the 15 years before he bought them--and none in the 30 years since.”

Trivia answer: Fred Cox.

Quotebook: Washington State football Coach Mike Price, discussing the effects of a 3-8 record, a 55-10 loss to Washington in the Apple Cup game and his being criticized publicly by Cougar players: “Hopefully, the guys I recruit in the state can read, so I don’t think that helps our image very much.”