CABBAGES AND KINGS
After the game, the two coaches walked off the field together. Joe Bugel, who always seems like a particularly ambitious used-car salesman, kept grabbing at Mike Ditka, hugging him, patting him, smiling up at him. Ditka, the embodiment of the bohunk bartender in a seedy saloon, seemed embarrassed by Bugel's puppy-dog display of affection, but suffered the hugs with a grim smile.
They are a pair of aging greasers who grew up in the football country of Pennsylvania and who have some similarities. Both wear their long hair dyed and brushed straight back to avoid the appearance of aging. Both hold their hair in place with pounds of hair ointment, much of which had melted during the heat of the game and run down the backs of their necks, staining the collars of their shirts with deep grease marks.
Ditka has become a millionaire, not only through football but also on the outside, with his business interests as well as his television commercials. He won a Super Bowl a few years back, but has since made a practice of alienating his players and now seems to have lost the ability to win important games, especially in late season.
Ditka's philosophy is to degrade and demean his players. If they complain of injuries, he derides them. If they play hurt, he finds a way to blame them for that, too. On the sidelines, Ditka is often out of control. He continually curses his own players. You would not be surprised to see him attack them with his fists or his clipboard as they jog off the field to the bench.
He is a thoroughly unpleasant human being, as well as a consummate bully boy. For both of these reasons, he has become one of Chicago's outstanding citizens and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. Bugel doesn't make much money compared to other coaches around the league. But then he doesn't deserve much, either. If he gets fired sometime during this season, he will never be the head coach of any professional team again.
He will go back to being a line coach somewhere, because he was apparently good at that while with the Washington Redskins. But there is a question mark. How old can you be before you are too old to be a line coach in this league?
So despite his outward enthusiasm, Bugel's position would appear to be a desperate one. It is no wonder that his joy seemed uncontrolled after beating the Bears last weekend. Bugel's style of coaching is that of a cheerleader who keeps whooping it up and praising his players. This is ironic, because the Cardinals have not demonstrated the slightest desire to win games during their entire stay in Arizona. As far as anyone can tell, their only reason for playing so hard in the exhibition season is because they must make the team in order to take the free ride that playing with a losing team can actually become. But Bugel's record so far shows that he is a loser, and his reactions to defeat indicate he is also a whiner. This doesn't make him different from other coaches. But Bugel's teams never lose because of Bugel. They lose because of penalties or injuries. They never suffer defeat because Bugel has no consistent philosophy for winning. This summer is the same as last summer for Bugel. Then he walked around in a state of euphoria because the Cardinals won all their games during the exhibition season. Then the regular season began. It was a complete and total disaster.
The Cardinals lost Timm Rosenbach, their first-string quarterback, and decided to spend the rest of the year using a punter to play the quarterback position. The results should have been anticipated. Tom Tupa was an average punter and a mediocre quarterback. Their dismal performances, week after week, drove fans away from Sun Devil Stadium. It wasn't that the season ticketholders stayed away. The problem was that the season ticketholders found they weren't even able to give their tickets away.
Now Rosenbach is back and apparently healthy. The Cardinals have won their first two exhibition games, but neither was a real test. There will not be a real test until the regular season starts.
Bugel seems to think he has enough quarterbacks on hand this season to make it through. But he is wrong.
Even if Rosenbach turns out to be a man of iron, that won't be enough. This is a team that isn't deep enough at the other positions to be a contender.
In Bill Bidwill, the Cardinals have an owner who is content to be a loser. During recent court hearings, it was revealed that he pays himself $1.3 million in salary for being owner. This is a man who has reason to be content with things just the way they are. Don't look for a change. The Cardinals will find ways to start losing once the regular season gets under way. They always have. @rule:
@body:"I'm moving to Las Vegas," Max Hawkins said over the telephone. "Why should anyone take notice? What's the big deal? I'm not a public figure anymore."
Just like that. The man who made Evan Mecham governor of Arizona in 1986 was blowing town.
He started out as a Republican, switched to the Democrats for 22 years and then rejoined the Republicans. He worked in the administrations of five different governors. He left in irony. It was his great friend Rose Mofford who first brought him into government from the hotel business. And it was one of her first acts as governor to fire him.
"My old pal Rose," Hawkins said. He didn't need to explain.
Max Hawkins has always been a controversial character. On a personal basis, he is quick-witted, with a finely honed sense of humor.
But his enemies, and they are many, fear Hawkins for his sarcastic tongue. In High Crimes and Misdemeanors, author Ron Watkins summed him up by calling him "a vindictive, mean-spirited man with a consummate belief in conspiracies."
He can be all of those things when he's in a fighting mood, a condition which has been his usual public stance.
But if you were perverse enough to enjoy the madcap humor of the Mecham reign, Hawkins is the man you should thank for it.
After all, it was Hawkins who had both the gall and the imagination to seek out Mecham; it was Hawkins who realized Mecham has a certain following that will never desert him. Mecham was already a four-time loser as a gubernatorial candidate when Hawkins suggested that Ev enter the Republican primary against Burton Barr.
"At first Ev didn't want to run again," Hawkins said. "He even offered to lend me $25,000 if I would run for governor instead of him."
What Hawkins now admits is that before approaching Mecham, he had gone to Rose Mofford, then secretary of state, and tried to get her to switch parties and run. Mofford turned him down. Then Hawkins went to Bob Corbin, then attorney general, and tried to convince him to run. Corbin declined, too.
Only then did Hawkins make the pilgrimage to Glendale and to Mecham. Not surprisingly, Mecham felt the ineluctable call to run. Recently, Ev has been convinced he once again hears a clarion call for him to run, this time for the United States Senate. But come this donnybrook, the acerbic tongue and pen and wicked imagination of Max Hawkins won't be around.
Few understand that Mecham was really Hawkins' creation. Hawkins was Dr. Frankenstein. Mecham was the inert monster confined to his Pontiac dealership in Glendale, awaiting the bolts of energy that would place him in charge of Arizona state government.
Hawkins supervised the gathering of the 10,000 Mecham petitions to put him on the ballot. Hawkins has since admitted how tough they were to get. He even admits they probably would not have withstood scrutiny, if checked closely. Mofford was every bit as incapable as secretary of state as she later proved to be as governor.
It was Hawkins who devised the campaign against Barr that labeled him a crook and a fixer who ran the state legislature. But Barr was overconfident. He laughed at Mecham's challenge. So did everyone else. An Arizona Republic poll showed Barr had an approval rating of 42 percent to Mecham's 5 percent. The rest of the voters were undecided.
On election day, it rained. Many people stayed home, believing the election would be a walkover. At that time, Barr was a household name in Arizona. Who knew Mecham? He was a character from the past. He had no chance.
But Mecham won. He got 54 percent of the votes to just 46 percent for Barr.
And then Mecham went on, in a three-way race, to become governor of the state. He didn't even get 50 percent of the vote. But he did get a television endorsement from Barry Goldwater that was the key to his victory. The rest was a series of unforgettable events. There was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday fiasco, the recall campaign, the so-called threat on Donna Carlson's life by fellow staffer Lee Watkins and the piäce de rsistance, the televised impeachment proceedings.
Through all of these days, Hawkins was Mecham's loyal adviser. Now, as Hawkins leaves town, he has one final barb to deliver. He says what brought Mecham down was actually Sam Steiger, because it was Steiger who brought Donna Carlson into the Mecham camp.
What Hawkins forgets is that it was Hawkins who hired Watkins, the unstable lout with a lengthy police record, and gave him a key position in the administration.
I always figured the death threat by Watkins against Carlson was something the Department of Public Safety pounced on for political reasons. But what isn't done for political reasons, in this or any other state?
Hawkins talks about his reasons for leaving.
"My wife has taken a job with the school board in Las Vegas. We've lived in our home here in the vicinity of Camelback and 44th Street since 1968. We have fixed it up real nice and will try to lease it."
Hawkins says his family ties here date back to John Wesley Powell's survey of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon by boat in 1869. "One of my ancestors was a cook on the exploration and he later settled in Phoenix."
Hawkins has spent the last several years, he says, writing three books on Arizona politics, none of which has yet been published. He has titles for two of them, Stealing Arizona and The Forty Thieves of Arizona. So it's all over for Hawkins in Arizona now. He is moving on. There was no farewell party thrown by Mecham. The monster is out of the dungeon again, too busy running for office again.
@body:If you asked, I would have told you: For the rest of this week the right-wing nut cases will take charge of the Republican National Convention in Houston . . . John Chancellor has become the stuffiest of TV's commentators . . . C-SPAN's dissection of Ross Perot's reasons for quitting the race were fascinating. . .John McCain is in far deeper trouble at the polls than he realizes . . . The sight of Burt Kruglick arriving at the Republican convention as an honored guest tells you all you need to know about Arizona politics. . .
Once again, the Indian School land swap is being run by the Barron Collier Company. If it doesn't have the money to pay the Indians, the deal should be canceled . . . I would buy a new computer if I didn't think it would become outdated a week later . . . Doesn't it seem strange that former mayor Terry Goddard turns up as the lawyer for the downtown hotel that stalls on paying its water bills? . . Jay Leno's show isn't going to make it. . .
Something will happen to halt the San Francisco Giants' move to Florida . . . Gene Hackman should get an Academy Award for his portrayal of the crazed sheriff in Unforgiven . . . Don't make any reservations to fly home for Thanksgiving on America West Airlines . . . Isn't it odd how George Bush always gets incensed when asked questions he dare not answer? Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel is must-reading for people who appreciate good writing . . . I don't know why, but Eddie Murphy isn't as funny anymore . . . We haven't heard the last of Ross Perot . . . Why are people begging for food on street corners if these are the best of times?
Baseball's become so predictable, I actually relish the return of George Steinbrenner . . . If you want to understand Serbia, read Rebecca West's Black Lamb, Grey Falcon . . . Not until Barbara Bush sounded off about abortion did I realize how desperately frightened the Republicans are of losing in November. . .
Despite Timm Rosenbach's recent completion records, I still haven't seen a better passer than Neil Lomax . . . Tom Agnos is the best sheriff Maricopa County has had since I came to town a dozen years ago . . . The federal government's Prescott trial against Peter MacDonald is not only a railroad job but an enormous waste of money . . . I watched Joe Stedino on the Larry King Show and realized Stedino's actually a better on-the-air presence than King or any other talk-show hosts you see. . .
I'd enjoy going to movies at AMC Town & Country a lot more if they'd use the air conditioning . . . I wonder if the area under the offensive basket is going to have enough room for both Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley . . . Tim McDonald of the Cardinals is as good as any defensive back in the league . . . An entire week has gone by without Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley making a grandstand play for attention. . .
Nobody can afford the price charged for beer at Cardinals' football games . . . Only those with a real sense of humor can think it's all right for Dan Quayle to be vice president . . . Why does the Phoenix street-maintenance department think it's necessary to tear up Indian School Road every six months?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.
- Legal Marijuana in Arizona Would Generate $72M Yearly in Tax Revenue, New Report Says
- John McCain Claims to Be Unaware of Arizona's Anti-Islam Movement and That Planned...
- Phoenix Nativist Michelle Dallacroce Bashed "Anchor Babies" Before Donald Trump and...