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Dungy: Chris Pizzello/AP • Ryan: Kevin Rivoli/AP

Jet stream

Sports | A blustering media fanned Dungy's innocuous views into 'reality' news

Issue: "Rocks in their heads?," Sept. 11, 2010

National media have a way of fanning gentle breezes into tornadoes. So it was with recent comments from coach-turned-broadcaster Tony Dungy. Appearing on Dan Patrick's radio show, the football analyst expressed mild discomfort with the profane language of Jets coach Rex Ryan during an episode of the HBO documentary Hard Knocks.

With that, the media spin machine plastered headlines across sports pages, casting Dungy as a judgmental moralizer. New York Daily News columnist Bob Raissman accused him of "hypocrisy." Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel maligned Dungy for deciding to "play the prude." Bloggers suggested the NFL good guy had morphed into an obnoxious Mother Hen.

Did anyone actually listen to what Dungy said? Asked by Patrick what he thought of the HBO documentary, the former coach said he was "disappointed with all the profanity. I think Rex can make his points without all that. But he's trying to endear himself to his team, and he's doing a great job of it." Later, when pressed by Patrick if he would hire a foul-mouthed coach as an assistant on his staff, Dungy said he wouldn't because "it's hard for me to be around that."

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Of course, such comments required that media seek a response from Ryan, who dutifully provided more headline-filling fare, saying Dungy had "unfairly judged" him: "Just because somebody cusses doesn't make him a bad person." Enterprising reporters then moved on to seek comment from Ryan's father, former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, who willingly pushed the story forward: "It's none of Dungy's business."

And so the manufactured fracas dragged on, leading to a phone conversation between Dungy and Ryan and a scheduled in-person visit at Jets training camp. Now if only some quick-thinking network executive could convince the pair to live under the same roof and share kitchen and laundry facilities.

Coarse rulings

Dustin Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty during the final round of the PGA Championship for failing to treat a trampled patch of grass and sand like an official bunker. The ruling dropped him out of a playoff and into fifth place.

He is far from the first to suffer a cruel fate at the hands of golf's obscurities. Here's a look at some of the most maddening cases:

• At the 1957 U.S. Women's Open, Jackie Pung outplayed all her competitors but signed a scorecard with one incorrect hole. Though the total score on the card was correct, she was disqualified.

• At the 1960 Masters, Dow Finsterwald casually retrieved his ball from the fifth hole, dropped it onto the green, and putted it toward the sixth tee. Not until the next day did he recall that any such extracurricular putting was forbidden. He informed tournament officials of his mistake and was assessed a two-stroke penalty. Finsterwald finished the tournament two strokes behind the winner, Arnold Palmer.

• At the 1968 Masters, Roberto De Vicenzo signed a scorecard that his playing partner Tommy Aaron had recorded incorrectly. Aaron had credited De Vicenzo with par on the 17th hole when, in fact, the Argentinean had made birdie. Because he signed the card, he was forced to accept the higher score, which dropped him out of a tie for first place.

• At the 2008 State Farm Classic, Michelle Wie was in second place after two rounds but left the scoring area without signing her scorecard. Volunteers chased her down immediately, and she returned to sign the card. But the violation was already committed. She was disqualified from the tournament.

• At the 2010 Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup, former U.S. Open champion Inbee Park appeared to win the tournament by a single stroke. But reports that her ball had moved slightly on the first green during the final round forced officials to investigate and ultimately enforce a two-stroke penalty that cost Inbee the victory.

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