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This Dude Is All Dat

Charger defensive end Marcellus Wiley has a degree in sociology from Columbia.

He acts more like a marketing major.

Wiley, whose 71/2 sacks rank him second in the AFC behind Baltimore’s Michael McCrary, is becoming something of a cottage industry in San Diego. He has a Web site, T-shirts, personalized license plates, even a rap song, all of which refer to him as “Dat dude.”

“Everybody wants to be ‘the Man,”’ said Wiley, a former Santa Monica St. Monica High player. “I don’t want to be ‘the Man.’ I want to be ‘Dat Dude.’ To me it means something special, greatness. When they see me on the field, I want people to say, ‘Man, who’s Dat Dude?”’

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San Diego fans already know. Wiley, who spent his first five seasons with Buffalo, has quickly emerged as one of the most recognizable players on a defense that includes Pro Bowl players Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison.

His sack dances are getting more elaborate by the week. And, while working out a leg cramp by riding a stationary bicycle on the sideline during a loss to Kansas City last Sunday, he serenaded the crowd with his theme song, “Dat Dude Anthem,” pumped through the Qualcomm Stadium sound system. The number is performed by Alien, a New York rapper, but Wiley has a recurring line.

“It goes, ‘Who’s Dat Dude?’ And I say, ‘Marcellus Wiley,”’ he said. “You know, with rapping, I’m walking before I run. But believe me, I’m going to run.”

Having attended an Ivy League school gives Wiley plenty of latitude. He’s crazy, but calculated. Silly, but sly about it.

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“At every level, I want to be the biggest and best I can be,” he said. “I have the opportunity to stand up before 80,000 people every week and control emotions. I have to take full advantage of that because one day it’s going to be over. I don’t want to leave with any regrets.”

Can’t question dat.

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The 49ers are 4-0 this season in games in which they’ve trailed at halftime. That points to good coaching and the ability to fix problems on the fly.

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The Raiders signed cornerback James Hasty on Friday--more than six years after they tried to get him the first time.

In the spring of ’95, Hasty was an unrestricted free agent from the New York Jets. Al Davis flew him to Los Angeles for a workout with the Raiders and was bowled over. He wanted to sign him right away, but Hasty flew to Kansas City for a previously scheduled workout with the Chiefs.

The Chiefs pulled a fast one, booking Hasty into a hotel room under an assumed name to buy them time to bargain. He wound up signing with them and tormenting the Raiders on several occasions, with a game-winning interception return for a touchdown in 1995, a fumble return for a touchdown in ’96, and another scoring interception in January 2000.

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Don’t worry, though, the secret maneuverings didn’t damage relations between the Raiders and Chiefs. There was no love to lose.

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If you can’t beat them, needle them.

That’s the philosophy of Denver Coach Mike Shanahan, who found a roundabout way Monday to get in his digs at Davis and the Raiders before his Broncos lost an AFC West showdown at Oakland.

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“My gut feeling is, Jon Gruden is one of the top coaches in the league,” Shanahan told the Denver Post in unsolicited remarks, referring to the Raider coach whose contract is up after next season.

“I’m hoping with the situation like it is, that Al doesn’t pay him the type of contract he deserves when his contract is up. So we can get him out of the AFC West. [Davis has] always been tight when it came to head coaches. I’m hoping [Davis] doesn’t take care of him.”

Shanahan and Davis have feuded for more than a decade, ever since Davis fired him as Raider coach four games into the 1989 season. They have argued bitterly over a $250,000 contract discrepancy. Shanahan says the Raiders still owe him; they say that’s nonsense.

Anyway, Gruden will make $1.2 million this season, and his deal will expire Feb. 1, 2003. There are several indications he could wind up elsewhere:

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* Unlike Seattle’s Mike Holmgren, Green Bay’s Mike Sherman or Philadelphia’s Andy Reid, Gruden will never run the entire show as coach and general manager. Not with Davis around.

* Oakland’s roster is loaded with aging stars--Rich Gannon, 35; Tim Brown, 35; Eric Allen, 35; Trace Armstrong, 36; Jerry Rice, 39--meaning the Raiders have to hurry before the Super Bowl window slams shut.

* Typically, the Raiders don’t pay coaches as well as other teams, and losing its lawsuit against the NFL did nothing to help a franchise that’s already financially strapped.

* As successful as they have been on the field the past two seasons, the Raiders still have a lousy stadium situation and can never count on selling out Network Associates Coliseum.

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Some reports have even speculated that Davis might try to trade Gruden for draft picks. Unlikely? Highly. Bizarre? Of course. But, hey, welcome to Oakland.

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Last season, Tennessee ranked first in total defense and first against the pass.

Now, the Titans are 27th in total defense, giving up 354.1 yards a game, and 30th against the pass, 257.6 yards.

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It looks as if “Da Bears” will remain in the past. There are no plans to revive the famous “Saturday Night Live” sketch--the round table of rotund Mike “Dikka” worshipers--even though Chicago is 6-1 for the first time since 1990.

“I don’t want to do it without Chris Farley,” said SNL writer Robert Smigel, who came up with the concept. “We’ve done it on a smaller scale. We went to a Mike Ditka roast and George Wendt and I did it last June. We did it on the ESPYs and accepted the team of the decade for the Chicago Bulls. But we won’t be doing it on ‘Saturday Night Live’ without Chris [who died in 1998].”

Smigel, who writes and produces the cartoons on the show, doubles as a writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” He’s a New Yorker who studied for three years in Chicago during the mid-1980s, the Bears’ heyday.

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“I love Chicago and its obsession with sports,” Smigel said. “The uniformity of it all--the guys with the walrus mustaches and aviator shades. It was a badge of cool machismo, and the walrus mustache indicated virility.”

No one embodied that more than the follicular Ditka, around whom most of the jokes revolved. One of Smigel’s favorite exchanges:

Wendt: “Who would win: Dikka or a hurricane?”

All, without hesitation: “Dikka.”

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Wendt: “But what if the hurricane was name Hurricane Dikka?”

No answer: Silence. Looks of confusion, fried circuit boards. Farley’s character clutches his chest and keels over.


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