SN archives: Reflecting on 9/11 and ‘the darkest of weeks’

This text initially appeared within the Sept. 24, 2001, version of The Sporting Information.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 12:15 p.m. (sharp), Tom Coughlin has made his manner down a protracted hallway at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville. It is a brisk stroll with scarcely a blink — that is Tom Coughlin’s manner — as is the customary 90-degree flip across the final nook and into the room and up the lectern the place he addresses the media 3 times per week at 12:15 p.m. (sharp). 

On at the present time, September 12, 2001, the Jaguars’ coach talks in unemotional, staccato bursts — that is Tom Coughlin’s manner, too — about Tuesday’s for an NFL coach, that they are crucial of the week. The gamers are off and the teaching employees begins to place the sport plan in place for Sunday’s opponent. You arrive early and depart late. That is a soccer coach’s manner You propose, plan and plan for each eventuality on the approaching Sunday.

Inevitably, although, a coach will inform you there are issues for which you do not account, for which you’ll’t account. The way you reply determines dropping from successful.

How did Tom Coughlin reply, then, when his Tuesday, crucial day for an NFL coach, was interrupted by a telephone name from his daughter?

“Daddy,” Keli Coughlin requested, “have you learnt what is going on on?”

Coughlin did not, and the outline of occasions unfolding on the southern tip of Manhattan poured via the road. How did Tom Coughlin — unflinching, unbending, all the time centered — reply when Keli stated these 5 phrases: “Timmy’s within the second tower”?

“We do not know something,” Tom Coughlin says, “besides the truth that the second tower hadn’t been hit but.”

Tim Coughlin, a bond dealer from Morgan Stanley, started making his manner downstairs as quickly as the primary aircraft hit the World Commerce Middle’s different tower. For 45 minutes — 45 lengthy minutes — Tom Coughlin not was a coach however simply one other father whose total household was making an attempt to succeed in Tim by cellphone. It was one other of Coughlin’s sons, Brian, who made first contact. Lastly, minutes later, Tom talked to Tim, who was unaware a aircraft had hit the second tower as he was exiting the stairwell and shifting into the foyer.

Tom Coughlin’s teaching intuition took over. “Be very cautious,” he instructed his son, “you do not know what you are coming into.”

This household’s story, not like hundreds of different’s, has a cheerful ending. Tim Coughlin is alive. So Wednesday, Tom Coughlin, centered and training once more, stands earlier than the assembled media and says, “Please do not single me out. How about America? Our nation? Our private story has a cheerful ending. I want it might be that manner for all Individuals.”

It is going to be a very long time earlier than this story ends, of that we’re all positive. It continues to unfold earlier than us this week after the world of sports activities completed an unprecedented darkish weekend, out of solemn and becoming respect for the darkest of weeks.

For now, there are the easy points — when video games shall be made up, which schedules will change, how groups shall be affected. Baseball merely will lengthen its season by per week, as will NASCAR; faculty soccer groups will combine rescheduled video games on open dates with an extension of the season; and the NFL was to determine early this week between a full 16-game schedule with an abridged playoff or a 15-game season with a full playoff schedule.

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There are also the not-so easy problems with air journey, safety and a way of security — for athletes and followers alike — which may not exist.

Definitely, commissioners and league presidents determined to postpone or cancel video games out of respect for the scores of victims and their households. However make no mistake, the query of safety, of putting hundreds of individuals in a single location, additionally performed a component within the selections.

When baseball resumed its video games Monday and soccer resumes this weekend, displaying up on the gate and sitting within the stands meant and can imply higher scrutiny, from checking tote baggage and coolers to being recorded extra usually on surveillance cameras.

Slowly we decide ourselves up and transfer ahead, making ready for the long run whereas acknowledging this terrible week.

The NFL’s hottest scheduling choice getting into the week gave the impression to be rescheduling Week 2’s video games on the weekend that wild-card video games have been scheduled to be performed. These wild-card video games could be eradicated, and the league would take one wild-card workforce as a substitute of three from every convention.

The NFL Gamers Affiliation endorsed this feature, assuming the Tremendous Bowl in New Orleans couldn’t be moved again from January 27 to February three. Nonetheless, the league nonetheless was checking into the potential for shifting its championship, a transfer commissioner Paul Tagliabue stated was theoretically doable, however one he dismissed final week as unrealistic.

“I believe the entire cause we go to coaching camp in July is to succeed in the playoffs and have a shot on the championship,” Packers president Bob Harlan instructed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “so that you hate to see groups eradicated from playoff potentialities.”

The prospect of eliminating for wild-card berths was no small merchandise, nevertheless. The previous two AFC champions — the Ravens and the Titans — have been wild playing cards, although they nonetheless would have certified even on this decreased discipline.

By way of economics, retaining a 16-game schedule appeared the least disruptive various. If one recreation is eradicated, the gamers’ salaries would be reduce by one-sixteenth. Groups compelled to cancel a house recreation might lose as much as $eight million, though the league is insured in opposition to lack of enterprise.

A lot of the NFL took a protracted weekend off to ponder the occasions of final week. The lingering results of the tragedy certainly shall be evident because the season continues, particularly in New York and Washington, however Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis talks of getting a “renewed spirit” this week. “As soon as the choice to not play was rendered, that psychological burden was lifted,” he says. “You may see the reduction. This wears you out, and it pales to what the people who find themselves dwelling are going via. I can not even think about.”

Loads of time, 12 hours or so, to suppose as 850 miles of I-20 unfurls earlier than you. Braves pitcher John Burkett, unable to get a flight out of Dallas or hire a automobile, punched radio buttons within the Pathfinder he borrowed from ex-teammate Rusty Greer to get to Atlanta final week.

Burkett punched buttons on the lookout for information, extra information, on the assault as Shreveport, La., Jackson, Miss., and Birmingham, Ala., clicked by like seams within the pavement. “I’ve calluses on the top of my finger,” he says.

Loads of time to suppose, 14 hours to be precise, for Braves president Stan Kasten, who flew to Milwaukee for an homeowners assembly that Tuesday however drove again to Atlanta the subsequent day.

The eventual high-quality print by The Related Press learn: “Philadelphia at Atlanta, ppd., terrorist assaults.”

Loads of time to suppose for baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who final week postponed six days of video games — not since World Struggle I has so many video games been referred to as off — pushing the Fall Basic deeper into the autumn. By Recreation 7, which could not be performed till November four, a matchup of, say, Cubs vs. Yankees may be higher contested in parkas as a substitute of pinstripes.

In making his choice to postpone video games via the weekend and finally to increase the season, Selig says he thought of that almost all of contenders reside in hotter climates or can routinely slide a roof over their yards. Although he took two days — lastly asserting it Thursday, 4 hours after the NFL referred to as off Week 2 — Selig says he was positive of 1 factor all alongside: The season wouldn’t be shortened.

“I consider within the sanctity of a 162-game season,” Selig says.

Nonetheless, enjoying baseball on Monday wasn’t any simpler than it will have been enjoying final Friday or subsequent Friday, Dodgers second baseman Mark Grudzielanek instructed the Los Angeles Occasions. “I believe it may be arduous to play Friday, Sunday, Monday, subsequent week, two weeks,” he stated. “I imply, as soon as you place it on once more and it is like, OK, we’re enjoying, you have to return to work, you have to focus. It’s important to attempt to cope with this in a way of being skilled once more.”

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Transferring final week’s video games to the primary week of October ends in a schedule that may give Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn the chance to finish their Corridor of Fame careers in entrance of their residence crowds, or as Ripken places it, “the individuals who have been right here the entire time.”

It means Barry Bonds, who has 63 residence runs for a pennant contender, is not going to be restricted in his try to change into the single-season residence run king. It means the Mariners nonetheless have the identical likelihood to interrupt the file of 116 wins in a season. It means the Nationwide League’s wild-card chase — one of many closest playoff races ever — can play itself out the way in which it ought to.

Among the many N.L. contenders, no workforce was helped by the schedule shift greater than the Cubs, and never solely as a result of aces Kerry Wooden and John Lieber wanted the remainder greater than most. The Cubs now will shut the season with 10 video games at residence. What was anticipated to be a season-ending showdown with the Astros at Wrigley Subject will begin the house stand. The primary-place Astros as a substitute will go to Busch Stadium for a season-ending sequence with the contending Cardinals that has the identical potential for drama.

The six-day layoff additionally might need tilted the N.L. West within the Diamondbacks’ favor as a result of it permits supervisor Bob Brenly to pitch aces Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in 9 of Arizona’s final 19 video games, together with three of seven remaining in opposition to the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks, who resumed play with a 1½ -game division lead, entered the week with a 45-16 file in video games began by Schilling and Johnson, who’s 48 strikeouts shy of breaking Nolan Ryan’s season file of 383.

Reality be instructed, almost each contender had a tired-arm pitcher or a high participant who was capable of profit from the unscheduled time without work: Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile had been experiencing tightness in his elbow, the Dodgers’ Kevin Brown is pitching with a torn muscle in his elbow, Braves slugger Chipper Jones has been enjoying with a sore shoulder and the Cubs’ Fred McGriff had missed time with a hamstring harm.

Within the American League, the playoffs have been all set since early this month. Know this, although: If the Yankees make it via the A.L. and finish up enjoying of their fourth straight World Collection, it seems Recreation three could be October 30 in Yankee Stadium. At Madison Sq. Backyard that Tuesday night time, the Knicks will open the NBA season in opposition to a Wizards workforce that’s anticipated to start out Michael Jordan at small ahead.

By that point, that might be a welcome diversion for New York, the electrical energy of the 2 occasions warming even the frostiest autumn night time.

Not surprisingly, America’s most regional and fragmented sport, faculty soccer, struggled to clear its throat final week — not to mention discover a unified voice — and for a time, seemed silly for it. The Southeastern Convention, saying it needed to “deliver our individuals collectively in a typical expression of sympathy and mourning,” and the Huge 12 initially determined their video games could be performed as scheduled.

Final Thursday, after the NFL’s announcement, the SEC and Huge 12 backtracked, that means all 58 major-college video games have been postponed or canceled, the ramifications of which might be far-reaching, on the sphere and off.

Among the many video games not performed Saturday have been not less than three — Washington at Miami (Fla.), Tennessee at Florida and Georgia Tech at Florida State — that may have an effect on the Bowl Championship Collection, which by advantage of its principals (ABC TV, the 4 bowls and 6 main conferences) is the de facto governing physique of Division I-A soccer.

Though the NCAA was anticipated to make legislative allowances for the season to be prolonged into December, makeups shall be left to the person conferences and colleges.

“We’ll take a look at the schedule and see what’s greatest for Georgia Tech,” stated Yellow Jackets coach George O’Leary, whose faculty presents a main instance of the problem going through athletic departments that inevitably have their greatest pursuits in thoughts. December 1, per week past the normal finish to the season, gave the impression to be the date many makeups might be performed. Nonetheless, Georgia Tech, ranked No. 11 by TSN, was anticipated to push for a December eight make-up date in opposition to No. eight Florida State to keep away from the very actual risk of enjoying for the Atlantic Coast Convention’s BCS berth the week after enjoying in-state rival Georgia.

Both manner, Georgia Tech should face a Florida State workforce that may have time on its aspect. FSU quarterback Chris Rix, a redshirt freshman, can have 10 video games below his belt, barring harm, as a substitute of two. And FSU’s final recurrently scheduled recreation is November 17 in opposition to Florida.

Others level out, too, that the high-profile video games pushed to late within the season have the potential for giving the winners an even bigger increase and the losers a double defeat within the polls which are a part of the BCS’ hyper-complicated system. “As a result of human beings vote within the polls,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford instructed USA As we speak, “I think what’s newer tends to have extra impression than what passed off three or 4 months earlier.”

Some colleges with professional nationwide title hopes — amongst them Texas, Virginia Tech and Oregon — have been scheduled to be off final Saturday, so their on-field work wasn’t disrupted, though certainly they have been affected, as have been all Individuals. Others are scheduled to be off this Saturday, that means, as an example, will probably be a full three weeks between video games for Oklahoma, Miami and Georgia Tech. Nonetheless others, compelled to reschedule Saturday’s postponement to December 1, find yourself with a tougher street to the Rose Bowl. Florida, for instance, faces the potential for enjoying South Carolina, Florida State and Tennessee on consecutive weekends, and that is a mere prelude to an SEC championship recreation that might be pushed again per week to December eight.

“I am positive everybody’s desire could be for all times to be regular and subsequently play the video games that have been scheduled,” the ACC’s Swofford stated. “However life is not regular.”

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Throughout America, throughout sports activities, life is not regular.

In Los Angeles, Glen Murray walked into the Kings’ NHL coaching camp realizing he would not be greeted by a detailed pal. Ace Bailey all the time got here into the dressing room every morning with a pleasant greeting, fast to joke with the gamers. Bailey, 53, the workforce’s director of professional scouting, and Mark Bavis, 31, an newbie scout for the Kings, have been aboard one of many airplanes that crashed into the World Commerce Middle.

In Atlanta, Tennessee assistant basketball coach Kerry Keating was one in all a far-flung legion dotting the nation, as a result of though faculty basketball isn’t in season, it was not an idle week for coaches. The recruiting contact interval throughout which coaches conduct their in-home displays for prospects and their households had begun Sunday.

Dozens of in-home recruiting visits have been postponed, as have been prospects’ official camp visits. “Does it trigger some logistical issues?” says one Division I coach. “Sure, however I might count on that everybody’s going to be versatile.”

Versatile, certainly. About to depart Hartsfield Atlanta Worldwide Airport for Knoxville, Tenn., Keating’s aircraft was referred to as again to the gate. With all flights grounded, he reserved a rental automobile for the drive to Knoxville. On the Hertz counter, he discovered a whole lot of stranded vacationers ready. As he bought his automobile, two males who seen the orange “T” on his shirt requested if he was going to Knoxville. Keating, to 2 strangers, stated sure and drove them residence to Tennessee.

In Loudon, N.H., as a result of there was no open weekend on the Winston Cup schedule between final Sunday and the season-ending race November 18 in Atlanta, NASCAR was compelled to make a tough alternative: cancel the New Hampshire occasion and have an effect on the factors race or transfer it to a date when pit crews might wrestle with the query: “Racing rubber or studded snow tires?”

Although drivers supported the choice, response was blended concerning the make-up date, November 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving. “I imply, come on, they open the ski slopes that weekend in North Carolina,” driver Rusty Wallace says. “What do you suppose the climate goes to be like in New Hampshire?”

The circuit strikes this weekend to Dover, Del., the place Wallace and teammate Jeremy Mayfield say their groups will donate to the Crimson Cross’ Catastrophe Aid Fund $20 for each lap accomplished by every driver Sunday within the MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400. They’re asking different drivers to do the identical. Within the race at Dover final September, drivers mixed to finish 13,470 laps. At $20 per lap, that might be $269,400.

The NBA, which has workplaces a mere 20 blocks from floor zero, referred to as off its annual rookie orientation program, which was to be held this week in Lansdowne, Md., about 45 minutes from Washington, and its league assembly this weekend. However the league’s — even sports activities’ — largest story was faraway from our nationwide consciousness on that horrible Tuesday morning.

Sure, ultimately we’ll know if Michael Jordan will play for the Wizards, and sooner fairly than later. However who amongst us might’ve divined the chilling, unintended that means the day earlier than the assault, when throughout a curbside dialog outdoors his Chicago restaurant Jordan stated, “Profitable is not all the time championships.”

Yankees normal supervisor Brian Cashman lamented final week to the Bergen (N.J.) Document: “My daughter goes to develop up in a special world than I did. Our lives have modified.” Certainly, she is going to and, certainly, they’ve. However as baseball resumed its scheduled this week, we might keep in mind that it was a recreation first organized within the 1840s in and close to New York and gained its recognition via the mists of one other profound check for America. Accomplice and Union troopers alike performed the sport as a diversion from a most horrible battle, then carried it forth afterward to popularize it as our nationwide pastime.

Without delay trivial divisions and some extent of parochial satisfaction, our video games — all the time our video games — have been companions via tragedies and triumphs. We dwell, we wrestle, we ache, we die, we mourn. We grieve. However ultimately we win.

Managing editors Stan McNeal and Paul Grant, senior writers Mike DeCourcy, Dan Pompei and Ken Rosenthal, employees author Tom Dienhart and Braves correspondent Invoice Zack contributed to this story, which additionally comprises writing and reporting from The Related Press, the Fort Value Star-Telegram, the Los Angeles Occasions, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury Information.

(SN)

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