Ron Agostini

Telling sports fact from fiction

Facts look fine on paper, but the truth is power:

Fact: There will be no tie Friday night between Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa and Oakdale.

The Truth: Blame can be assigned to all corners after the Cardinal Newman-Central Catholic deadlock two weeks ago. The matter should have been settled long before kickoff. The larger issue, however, is oversight from the California Interscholastic Federation. Now that state championship games are in order, the CIF must adopt a simple statewide rule -- no more tied games, unless you're a big fan of coin-flips deciding who advances to the finals.

Fact: The 49ers have gained less than 400 yards but are still 2-0.

The Truth: The 49ers have exhausted a season's worth of good fortune in two weeks. But this is a fact of life in the NFL where three-quarters of the league fights on virtually equal terms. Tiny things separate teams on Sunday, and the 49ers have forged an advantage with newcomers Patrick Willis at linebacker and Nate Clements at corner. We also know coach Mike Nolan, when left to his own devices, will play safe on offense. That idea almost will guarantee a loss this weekend at Pittsburgh.

Fact: The Cowboys' Terrell Owens, fined for using a football as a post-touchdown prop last week, said, "It's like you can't do nothing no more."

The Truth: Our beloved T.O. may have stumbled upon something truly profound here. Owens, Chad Johnson and others might refer back to the deportment of one Jerry Rice, merely the best wide receiver in NFL history. Rice scored the touchdown, celebrated with his teammates and trotted off the field. He realized that football was a team game, and that he was the final extension of an 11-man effort that reaped the TD. Rice understood that the camera already honed in on him, and that he didn't need the look-at-me act. How quaint. How classy.

Fact: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned there will be stiffer penalties for the Patriots if they refuse to turn over evidence that they cheated.

The Truth: If I'm Patriots owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick, I'm personally sending papers and tapes to Goodell's office today. Goodell already has proven his bona fides on personal conduct. Michael Vick, who lied to Goodell's face last spring about dogfighting, will be lucky to call another signal in the NFL, Belichick might be fired ... by Kraft, not Goodell.

Fact: For about one second, the Raiders thought they had beaten the Broncos last week.

The Truth: Everyone understands the blood feud between the Broncos' Mike Shanahan and his former boss Al Davis, but never has Shanahan tormented the Raiders quite like his late timeout that erased Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning field goal. Even for Davis bashers, this stunt -- though legal -- was cruel punishment for a franchise struggling to gain traction. Simply, The Rat found a Davis-like way to win.

Fact: The Americans won their group and meet England on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup.

The Truth: Abby Wambach, the U.S. star, literally has bled through games, such is the rough treatment she's received from opposing defenses. The consensus from China calls for a raising of the Americans' game to advance past the British and, surprisingly, the Brazilians led by Marta, the game's next superstar. So far, the games have been marred by rain and even a typhoon that suspended play. If nothing else, tune in to wave a sentimental farewell to Kristine Lilly, the last remaining member of America's Team of 1999.

Fact: Modesto bull rider Ted Bert sits in seventh place in the PRCA standings and is in good shape to advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

The Truth: There are no rules against payback in rodeo. Bert is getting even for what happened in 2004 to brother Thomas, who missed a trip to Las Vegas by only $7,000 in prize money. If Ted stays in the top 10, he'll become the first local bull rider in 12 years -- since former world champion Ted Nuce -- to qualify for the national finals. And that, buckaroos, is a big deal in the cowboy world.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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