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KICKING A TOUCHDOWNTHE STORY OF A MAN WHO IS OBSESSED WITH DICK MAHONEY'S FOOTBALL CAREER

We are tired of hearing that the media is too negative, and so we want to bring you the thrilling story of a man who was inspired.

We are not entirely sure what it was that inspired William Chrisman, however, unless he saw an image of Carl Bernstein when he was looking at a tortilla. First and foremost, Mr. Chrisman's story is one about taking aggressive action. Chrisman wrote indignantly to New Times following the publication of an October story called "A Groovy Kind of Politician." He was riled because of an interview in "Groovy" with Dick Mahoney, then a candidate for Secretary of State, wherein Mahoney had claimed that during his college days at Princeton he was the leading scorer in Ivy League football.

Actually, Mahoney had not claimed this at all. He had claimed to our reporter that he was the leading freshman scorer. Our reporter apologizes profusely for her ignorance about the hierarchy of college football that allowed her to remain unaware there was a difference. She knows it is her fault that Mr. Chrisman first became aggravated.

For aggravated he was. Himself a graduate of Harvard, class of '55, Mr. Chrisman has remained a follower of Ivy League football. He says he was sure that if Mahoney had ever been the league's leading scorer, he--Bill Chrisman--would have heard about it. Just to make sure, he phoned the Princeton sports office, which confirmed that no one named Mahoney had ever played on Princeton's varsity football teams.

Mr. Chrisman sent all this information to us. He also sent it to Mahoney, who was not the sort of candidate to miss a chance to make a convert. You may remember that during a campaign fund raiser, Mahoney stood near the entrance of the women's restroom handing out leaflets because he'd heard that the ladies were running short of toilet paper.

He wrote Mr. Chrisman a schmoozy letter. "I was the kicker and starting split end on Princeton's 1969 freshman team. We were undefeated and I led the Ivy League in scoring that year. That was the only year I played," wrote Mahoney. "Since it appears that you may be a fellow Princetonian, I'll take the liberty of sending along a campaign brochure."

This explanation did not satisfy Mr. Chrisman (although it satisfied us). He decided that he needed to dig deeper. The decision cost him. In fact, it cost him $114.73--the substantial sum he forked over to Princeton coed Jennifer Kim.

Kim is the young woman whom Mr. Chrisman located through the Princeton office of student employment. For $114.73, she devoted ten hours of her time to researching Mahoney's college football career. This was fairly complicated work, since she had to pore over decades-old copies of the Daily Princetonian, tallying the totals for touchdowns, field goals, conversions. Then she had to write a detailed summary for Mr. Chrisman.

It is a marvelous document. It is as technically dazzling and deeply considered as a surgeon's report. It is also just about that interesting. It starts out, "This statement is to certify that on October 26, 1990, Mr. Chrisman retained me . . . ." It concludes with, " . . . has not been altered or distorted in any way." We think that is probably all you'll want to know about it, beyond the fact that, according to Kim's painstaking calculations, Mahoney was not the highest freshman scorer in the Ivy League. He was the second-highest scorer on the Princeton freshman team.

Mr. Chrisman sent us a copy of Jennifer Kim's report, and we were at last moved to phone the man. We just wanted to get to know him better. We felt some strong emotion toward him that may or may not have been admiration. That's why we called. We are not very personally interested in Mahoney's past football standing, although we are by now quite confused about it.

When we reached Mr. Chrisman, he was feeling a wee bit of pressure, since it was the eve of the election and a lot of people were predicting Mahoney would scoot right into office. (He did.) Mr. Chrisman was so eager to get out the word about Mahoney's unreliability that he felt he couldn't wait on New Times' lackadaisical publication schedule: He had already mailed copies of Jennifer Kim's report to R&G columnists E.J. Montini, Sam Lowe, John Kolbe, and Keven Ann Willey.

We are worried that the failure to take action before the election by every one of these columnists suggests collusion with Mahoney. This fear is balanced by relief, though. Had they not colluded, we would have had to read about these silly charges four different times.

It turns out that Mahoney's purported football prowess offended Mr. Chrisman for a different reason than we could have imagined. Mr. Chrisman appears to be not so much a stickler for truth-telling during elections as he is put out by personal inexactness.

He said, "I do not like the idea of people being imprecise. I am a person who tries to speak precisely when he is attempting to be serious. The fact that Mahoney would not be able to be accurate, for whatever reason, I personally feel is rather insightful."

Mr. Chrisman is a property tax consultant; he represents Arizona taxpayers in their attempts to minimize their property taxes. We heartily recommend him to you, should your property tax assessments ever require re-evaluation. We know he will perform with exactitude and that he'll get right to the bottom of things.

He also will probably be able to fit you quickly into his schedule, since it is apparent that he needs compelling ways to occupy his time. His number at work is 230-9900.

As for Mahoney, we are a little disillusioned with him. He claims that Kim added up his record of touchdowns and conversions badly, and that he was at least the highest scorer on his Princeton team. We don't care about any of that. We don't even want to discuss football with Mahoney in great detail, since he is descended from a political family that relishes its past connections to John and Robert Kennedy and drops constant references to them. We suspect that the Kennedys' love of football may have been the entire reason Mahoney was attracted to the sport as a boy. Now that he holds public office, we are afraid that too much talk about football will inspire him to organize scrimmages on the Capitol lawn.

What disappoints us is that this is the sort of "scandal" we can expect out of Arizona's young, new breed of politician. Now that Arizona is being commandeered by a squad of privileged princes who know all about ethics, it may be decades before any of us reads about kickbacks, misuses of funds, extortion or the other interesting abuses of power. These guys may not be capable of much more in the way of magnificently alarming behavior than exaggerating their tales of athletic prowess.

This is the consequence for the American public now that they have begun to demand that their leaders must be squeaky clean.

Why, already these sports-story accusations are a trend! Not long ago, we were interviewing Terry Considine, one of Fife Symington's closest friends and a former classmate at Harvard, and he was burbling that Terry Goddard was exaggerating his involvement with the Harvard crew team! He said that Goddard had only rowed as a freshman, not the full four years Goddard has claimed throughout the campaign! Considine, a state senator in Colorado, became very excited about this prospect and began firing off the phone numbers of former Harvard jocks who were sure to know the details.

The problem is not just that our snooty yuppie politicians are too unimaginative to err in fascinating ways. It's also that their informants come from the same social set, and they, too, take intercollegiate sports very seriously. We may have to hear a great deal about intercollegiate sports before this political age is over.

Considine phoned back a few weeks later to apologize profusely for having accused Goddard; he had discovered for himself that Goddard was as fully involved on the Harvard crew team as he had claimed. This was clearly a faith-restoring matter to Considine. We, on the other hand, are feeling about it the way that Mahoney was feeling after Jennifer Kim's long report on Princeton football was read aloud to him. Sometimes a reaction is so succinct that nothing more needs to be said.

Mahoney mumbled, "I dunno. Shit, I dunno. Good God." "The fact that Mahoney would not be able to be accurate, for whatever reason, I personally feel is rather insightful.