Racing photos a safety issue

Friday, March 9, 2001 at 1:00am

I think right now my views on the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photos are in the minority. But if people would just step back and look at this realistically, I believe those views would be held by the majority.

Under Florida's public records law, the Orlando Sentinel newspaper has requested those autopsy photographs be made available to forensics experts. Thousands of people have been irate over this request. The problem is, people think the Orlando Sentinel has plans to publish those photographs. That is not the case. The Sentinel is asking for an independent investigation of Earnhardt's injuries from the photographs and the autopsy report.

Folks, we've had four racecar drivers die in nine months from basically the same injury, according to NASCAR. Now I'm sure NASCAR is very reliable and diligent in their investigation, but if you think about it, that's sort of like after an airplane crash, when only the airline involved does the investigation.

Of course that's not the case, because Federal agencies and other participants conduct a thorough investigation after such a crash. It would appear to me that Earnhardt's fans above all would want to know exactly what killed this legend and if it could have been prevented.

It would also appear to me that other NASCAR drivers would demand to know what actually happened. The conclusion of outside experts might be the same as NASCAR's. And then again, it might not. As with an airline crash, you'd want to know every minute detail, always with the idea of preventing that from ever happening again.

The Orlando Sentinel is one of the country's outstanding newspapers. I'm sure their investigation is legitimate, and an agreement could be worked out where nothing could be used for printed sensationalism. But now the politicians are getting involved in this matter, so bottom line is, we'll probably never know the exact cause of Earnhardt's death and whether it could have been prevented. What a shame.

As March Madness gets into full swing, two legendary coaches are grabbing the spotlight from college teams and players. Sound a little familiar ... like Clinton during Bush's first weeks? It would appear that Rick Patino would be in line to succeed Denny Crum at Louisville.

Of course Patino is worshiped at Kentucky from his coaching days at the University of Kentucky. How ironic that he would return to the state as coach of that "other" team. Although Patino failed in his efforts to rebuild the Boston Celtics, there is little doubt that he is a phenomenal college coach.

If I were at Louisville, I'd do everything within my means to sign him to a contract as soon as possible.

The other legendary coach grabbing the headlines is "General" Bobby Knight. Word from Lubbock, Texas, is that Texas Tech is close to signing him as head coach.

We all know about Bobby's exploits at the University of Indiana, and I agree that Indiana should have fired Knight. But something tells me this might work at Texas Tech. I have a feeling that Bobby might have mellowed out and could end his career on a successful note in the West Texas badlands.

When we think of college basketball powers, Texas Tech doesn't exactly jump out at you. What the heck have they got to lose? Go for it, Tech!

Also here in the midst of March Madness, the NFL continues to grab headlines. If you were a travel agent and had the exclusive rights to NFL quarterbacks, you could make a fortune.

Elvis Gerbac leaves Kansas City and signs with the Super Bowl Champions Ravens. That means the Titans have to see Elvis twice this season. Odd that a Super Bowl Championship team would want to change quarterbacks, but I think the Ravens made the right move. I know they won the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at quarterback, but in reality, Trent didn't contribute to their success. They won it with defense.

Dilfer, by the way, could wind up in Cincinnati, which means the Titans would face him twice a year. But hey, that's not scary.

I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a great decision in signing former Redskin Brad Johnson. Tampa Bay's defense is already sensational

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