San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci was fired after the 2002 season. He later went on to coach the Detroit Lions. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY REYES--02/12/2003 Dennis Erickson is introduced as the new Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers during a press conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco in 2003. He signed a five-year contract worth $12.5 million, but his tenure was largely forgettable.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a column by Bay Area News Group Sports Editor Bud Geracie that originally ran in the Mercury News in January 2004 -- 10 years ago -- and wraps up the best of 2003. This is the first in a series of archived columns taking a look back at the sports world as he saw it then. The man who fired Steve Mariucci did not attend the news conference, making Dr. York Mr. Hide. Suggested headline after Dennis Erickson was hired away from Oregon State: "49ers Leave it to Beaver." In the Super Bowl, neither the Raiders' offense nor the Raiders' defense proved to be Tampa-resistant. The surprise wasn't that Jerry Jones hooked The Tuna, but that he swallowed enough pride to bait the hook. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, the Ottawa Senators should have contacted the law offices of Stephen M. Moskowitz. Petco Park is where those dogs, the San Diego Padres, will play in2004. The Great Lakes Storm of the Continental Basketball Association signed center Marvin Gay. I heard it through the grapevine. If convicted, Kobe Bryant's next team will be a prison-yard dynasty. The Arizona Cardinals wasted 320 pages worth of tree for a season review that could have been put this simply: 5-11. Only logical explanation for the poor outing by UC-Santa Barbara pitcher Eric Posthumus: dead arm. On the other hand, David Wells was half-sober when he pitched his perfect game. Livan Hernandez ate up a lot of innings, in addition to a lot of everything else. Houston's Minute Maid Park actually was constructed over a longer period of time. Roy Williams isn't in Kansas anymore. There weren't many dumb mistakes when Stanford played Yale. Talk about poor judgment: Larry Eustachy was photographed drinking a Natural Light. Mike Price met his Destiny.
Our Man of the Year, succeeding the guy who saved his son by shooting a bear with a bow and arrow, is the guy who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder that had fallen on him. Four months after the Super Bowl, Rich Gannon threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Twins game. It was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Bill Callahan is the guy on the Raiders sideline with the shirt that reads: "I'm with Stupid." John Elway's Arena Football League team fired Coach Bobby Beers and offensive coordinator Bobby Beers Jr., leading to the headline: "Elway Downs Two Beers." I don't care what Tiger says, he's in a Major slump. An A's fan threw a cell-phone at Texas Rangers outfielder Carl Everett. Can you hear me now?
Former Raiders head coach Bill Callahan once said his Silver & Black squad had to be "the dumbest team in America." Photo by Jim Gensheimer/San Jose Mercury News.
Put a cork in it, Sammy. The price of ballpark food is out of control. Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon knocked down one Italian sausage in Milwaukee and it cost him $2,432. This is your brain on drugs: Damon Stoudamire allegedly wrapped his marijuana in aluminum foil before going through the metal detector. If only rednecks watched auto racing, the new sponsor would change its name to Necks-tel. Owen Pochman, shanks for the memories. They should just call the bike race the Tour de Lance. The U.S. Field Hockey Association announced the resignation of executive director Amy Frankenstein. She's going to pursue her doctorate. The WNBA made strides as a legitimate basketball league; in one week, it had a player charged with sexual assault and another suspended for drug use. You won't have women's professional soccer to kick around anymore. Grady Little's hook on Pedro Martinez was slower than Don Zimmer's. Joe Angel, let go by the Giants, can put that one in the loss column. Wave him bye-bye.Follow Bay Area News Group sports editor Bud Geracie at www.Twitter.com/WakeofWeek.
Former San Francisco 49ers kicker Owen Pochman was little more than a footnote in team history -- and not a good footnote. (AP Photo/Roy Dabner)