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ARENA / Rozelle "Most Powerful" Sports Figure of Century

Rozelle 'Most Powerful'Sports Figure of Century

Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, who spearheaded the growth of

professional football in the last 30 years, was named the most powerful sports

figure of the 20th Century yesterday by The Sporting News.

The influential Rozelle, who engineered the AFL-NFL merger and brokered the

first major television contracts for the league, was selected by the magazine's

editors and writers to lead its Top 100 sports figures. The list is dominated

by commissioners, owners, agents, labor leaders and TV executives.

The highest-ranked athlete on the list-at No. 10-is Muhammad Ali. The next

highest were Babe Ruth at 15 and Michael Jordan at 20.

The four current commissioners of the major sports leagues, who appeared at a

Manahattan luncheon announcing the awards, made the list: the NBA's David

Stern, (6) the NFL's Paul Tagliabue (34), the NHL's Gary Bettman (67) and

major-league baseball's Bud Selig (84). Two women made the list: Billie Jean

King (33) and University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt (86).

Among the movers and shakers were three owners of New York franchises: the

Yankees' George Steinbrenner (37), Wellington Mara of the Giants (73) and the

late Jets founder Sonny Werblin (96).

The rest of the top 10: Kenesaw Mountain Landis (2); former ABC Network

executive Roone Arledge (3); Branch Rickey, who signed Jackie Robinson (4);

baseball union leader Marvin Miller (5); Fox' Rupert Murdoch (7); former IOC

chairman Avery Brundage (8), and American League founder Ban Johnson (9). About

the only questionable inclusion was No. 100: The San Diego Chicken.-Steve Zipay

TENNIS: Budge Injured in Accident. Tennis great Don Budge broke his leg and was

injured critically yesterday when his car hit trees after skidding off a wet

road in the Pocono Mountains at 9:30 a.m. near his home in Milford, Pa. Budge,

84, had to be cut from the wreckage by rescue crews. He may have suffered

internal injuries. He was airlifted to St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie. In

1938, Budge was the first player to win all four of the Grand Slam

tournaments. He was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964 and also was

selected as one of Tennis Magazine's 20 greatest players of the century.

BASEBALL: Cordero Signs With Pirates. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed free-agent

outfielder Wil Cordero to a three-year, $ 9-million contract a day after

acquiring outfielder Bruce Aven from the Florida Marlins. Cordero batted .299

with eight home runs and 32 RBI during 52 games with Cleveland last season.

Brian Johnson Joins Royals. Free-agent catcher Brian Johnson signed a one-year

contract with the Kansas City Royals. Terms weren't released. The Royals hold

an option for the 2001 season. Johnson hit .231 in 45 games for the Cincinnati

Reds last year.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Auburn Coasts. Tasha Hamilton scored 18 points to help the

eighth-ranked Auburn Tigers rebound from their first loss of the season with a

96-71 victory over UAB. The Tigers (6-1), who lost, 77-65, at No. 9 Penn State

on Saturday, shot a season-high 60 percent last night as five players scored in

double figures.

Auburn shot 65 percent in the first half while opening a 55-27 halftime lead.

"Our first half of basketball was the type of basketball we need to play,"

Auburn coach Joe Ciampi said. "We did all the things we need to win games."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Ex-Jet O'Brien Resigns. USC assistant coaches Ken O'Brien and

Mike Wilson have resigned, the school said. O'Brien had been relieved of his

duties as quarterbacks coach, a position he held the last two years, and opted

not to accept the position of tight ends coach. O'Brien, 39, was an NFL

quarterback from 1983-93 with the Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. Wilson, a

receiver with the San Francisco 49ers from 1981-90, left after three years as

receivers coach to pursue an opportunity in private business.

BOXING: Moorer Sued by Grandfather. Michael Moorer's grandfather is suing the

former heavyweight champ for up to $6.9 million, claiming he didn't get what he

deserved for guiding the boxer's amateur career as a trainer. At issue at the

trial in federal court in Pittsburgh are contracts signed in 1986 and 1988.

Under the first contract, Moorer was to give Henry Smith a quarter of his

lifetime earnings; the second called for 10 percent while Smith worked for

Moorer. Smith was fired in 1992. Moorer beat Evander Holyfield for the IBF and

WBA titles in 1994 but was knocked out by George Foreman later that year. He

has not fought since 1997.

POLICE BLOTTER: Brown's Motion Rejected. Former football great Jim Brown was

rebuffed in an attempt to disqualify the judge who sentenced him to domestic

violence counseling as punishment for misdemeanor vandalism of his wife's car.

Brown had filed a motion accusing Hollywood Municipal Court Judge Dale S.

Fischer of bias against black men because she was chief executive officer of

the Los Angeles chapter of American Inns of Court, which he termed extremist.

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