Down and dirty

LAS VEGAS – As dinner conversations go, it was a doozy, devolving into the type of deadpan discourse you might expect to hear in a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch.

Sitting at a Sin City sushi bar last Tuesday night with his statuesque girlfriend, Supriya Harris, and a friend, Sean Hendler, Rams halfback Steven Jackson somehow got drawn into a discussion about the alternative-health procedure he experienced for the first time last March.

"I had a colonic," Jackson said, referring to the trendy colon-cleansing therapy that is akin to an extended enema on steroids. "My girlfriend had the bright idea: 'Let's go get your system cleaned out.' It lasted about 45 minutes, and by the end, I (expletive) wanted to cry. Let's just say I got stabbed in the (rear) six times."

For those of you who'd prefer to be spared the details of Jackson's ordeal, one which added new meaning to the term "What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas," I'll save them for the latter part of the column. I'll warn you, too, so you can decide for yourselves whether you're up to learning whether everything comes out OK in the end.

Besides, as Jackson is the first to admit, the colonic wasn't the only time he felt violated this offseason.

Coming off a frustrating, injury-marred '07 campaign and approaching a contract year that could trigger his becoming the NFL's highest-paid runner, Jackson learned last month that agent Gary Uberstine had fired him . Upon reading an email from Uberstine informing him that their representation agreement was being terminated, Jackson says, "I was in a state of shock. Where was the loyalty? The crazy thing is, I'm not a high-maintenance guy. Gary's done a lot of good in my life, and I at least thanked him for doing it before I started negotiating with the Rams. But I didn't see that coming at all."

Players switch agents all the time, but because they're almost invariably the ones initiating the breakups, Uberstine's 'Dear Steven' letter took on a man-bites-dog novelty. Throw in the fact that Jackson, whose breakout 2006 season stamped him as one of the league's brightest offensive stars, stands to land a lucrative long-term deal that will likely carry a seven-figure commission, and the whole thing seems downright stunning.

What prompted the move? Jackson says Uberstine was upset about the player's decision to use a former associate of Uberstine's as his marketing representative, among things. "It was a power move," says Jackson, who has since signed with Eugene Parker. "It was his way of saying that I need him more than he needs me."

Uberstine, in a telephone conversation on Thursday, declined to discuss the situation in specific terms, saying of Jackson, "I wish him and his sister Rhonda (an informal business adviser to the halfback) the very best, and I really don't want to go into the factors that went into my decision. I have no doubt that he will soon be the highest-paid running back in football."

To Jackson, such an eventuality is no sure thing. After St. Louis's disastrous 2007 season, in which the Rams lost their first eight games (four of which Jackson missed with a partially torn left groin) and sputtered to a 3-13 record that put second-year coach Scott Linehan's job in jeopardy, he sees his and his team's futures as shrouded in uncertainty.

"It's a one-year bid for everybody," Jackson says. "It could be Scott's last year, and my last year, and even the franchise is in jeopardy – the team could get sold and leave St. Louis. There's a lot riding on this year, and we all know that. Just as much as the Rams need me, I need them."

A 6-2, 231-pound specimen who runs with speed, power and elusiveness, Jackson took over the offense formerly known as the Greatest Show on Turf in '06 after future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk went on injured reserve with what turned out to be a career-ending knee injury. Jackson responded by gaining 2,334 yards from scrimmage, the fifth-highest total in NFL history, with 90 receptions, the sixth-highest single-season total by a back.

In '07, Jackson caught just 38 passes while running for 1,002 yards, 526 less than his '06 total. Those numbers were hardly shameful given his health issues, the team's struggles and St. Louis's decimated offensive line, but the experience was nonetheless a miserable one. Before the season, Jackson had said publicly that his goal was to gain 2,500 yards from scrimmage.

"I predicted a number based off of a perfect season," Jackson says. "I learned something – things will come up. Two things killed me: My offensive line was just decimated, and our receivers didn't block. You look at Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson or anyone who has a ton of yards, and those guys on the perimeter block. For me, I wasn't only looking at eight in the box, but if I happened to get through the line and out to the perimeter, the defenders were all over me."

A National Honor Society member in high school, Jackson is smart enough to know that when he makes politically incorrect statements such as that one, his employers are far from thrilled. But he tends to speak his mind anyway, believing he is obligated to be true to himself and his principles.

When Jackson flashes back to a pair of dismal defeats to Green Bay and Pittsburgh last December at the Edward Jones Dome, he doesn't hold back, saying, "You've got to love those Rams fans who showed their loyalty by selling their tickets to Packers and Steelers fans, so half the people in the stadium were rooting against us. It was like playing road games. We ran out of the tunnel and got booed. It was ridiculous. I was livid. In St. Louis, it's one of two things. They either love me or they (expletive) hate me. I'm not a diva, but if I'm pissed, (the Rams' PR staff) won't let me talk, 'cause they're scared of what might come out of my mouth."

As for what came out of another orifice in Jackson's body on that uncomfortable afternoon last spring – and yes, this is the official jumping-off point for those of you screaming "Too much information!" – Jackson still sounds scarred by the experience.

"I went in there and put on a hospital gown and lay there face up on a table with a hole underneath, and I was totally nervous," he recalled Tuesday between exotic raw-fish rolls, pausing to watch the Lakers force another shot in their Game 6 drubbing by the Celtics.

"My hands were covered in sweat, and the (colon therapist) lady comes in and starts talking my ear off. There's this thin hose-type-thing that you put up there that shoots water into you and sucks everything out, but I had trouble getting it in, and then it kept coming out. The lady had to come back six different times and put it back in there. It was brutal."

Interjected Harris: "Trust me, she didn't mind. I was having mine done in the next room, and she kept coming in to tell me how fine he was. I was like, 'Could you please stop hitting on my boyfriend while you're cleaning out my colon?' When we got done and he walked out to the waiting room, I said, 'Steven, are you OK?' He said, 'I don't want to talk about it.' I swear to God, he looked like a kid who'd been in there with R Kelly."

Jackson laughed at the memory and shook his head in mock disbelief. "I can't believe we're talking about this," he said. "But I will say this: Once you get it all out of you, your body feels great. You get a boost of energy, and you feel like you can accomplish anything."

Now that's something the Rams and their fans will be happy to hear.


Chad Johnson's surgically repaired ankle will be a lot more stable than his moods when the Bengals report to training camp … The next time I visit the Broncos's training facility, I will greet wideout Brandon Marshall by shaking (or fist-bumping) his right hand … I will continue to get emails from readers upset that I devoted an entire column to English soccer because "your job is to cover the NFL," and I will offer the same, two-word response to each of them: Yes, boss.


1. In addition to requesting that he be referred to as "Adam Jones," the Cowboys cornerback we've previously known as Pacman wants to do away with the term "making it rain" and replace it with "throwing lots of cash into the air at a strip club."

2. Miffed at being upstaged by ex-teammate Kevin McHale, Pacers president Larry Bird will call Celtics GM Danny Ainge and offer to trade Jermaine O'Neal for Brian Scalabrine and a 22-year-old bottle of Jack Daniels autographed by Steven Tyler.

3. After firing manager Willie Randolph just after midnight Tuesday at the Westin South Coast Plaza, Mets GM Omar Minaya switched the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on Randolph's door to 'Maid Please Make Up This Room' and filled out a breakfast card requesting an anchovy and pineapple pizza at 5:30 a.m.


So let me get this straight: Javon Walker, in an exclusive interview with – and can we all pause for a moment and marvel at that?) – claims that three gun-toting robbers knocked on the door of his hotel room at 5:30 a.m. last Monday and "cracked me in the head a few times, knocking me unconscious. Then they robbed me of everything I had … Somehow they got me to a car and dropped me off in the street. That's what happened." Really? Who were those assailants? The Mod Squad? And what was going through their minds as they decided, after stealing Walker's money and jewelry, to carry their 6-3, 215-pound, somewhat-famous victim out of a hotel presumably full of still-awake gamblers, 24-hour restaurants and hundreds of security cameras? Did they use a luggage cart? Did they also make a sign that said, "We just robbed this guy, who is now unconscious. And now we're going for a drive. Please arrest us?" Not even Walker's employers could come up with something that implausible and try to pass it off as truth. Well, perhaps they could, but this is right up there.


Charlie Jones, the accomplished sports broadcaster who died of a heart attack last Thursday at the age of 77. Many remember Jones for his fine work on NFL games, the Fiesta Bowl and the Olympics, but to me his crowning achievement will always be his stirring call of the 1980 Olympic Trials in the '82 film "Personal Best." Jones brought the movie home with his dramatic rendering of Tory Skinner's opening-lap bust-out on gangly Charlene Benveniste in the 800 meters, allowing hottie heptathlete Chris Cahill (Skinner's ex-girlfriend) to sneak onto the team. Then, as we pondered the emotional ramifications a full 26 years before Katy Perry graced us with "I Kissed A Girl", Jones signed off by reminding us that, like the rest of the '80 Olympians, our lovely heroines could be described as "all dressed up and nowhere to go." Spectacular. And if I told you that a quarter-century later Jones made a cameo in an episode of "The L Word," is there any way you'd believe me?


Danny Ainge another day at office


PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will be singing the blues until his sport's star attraction returns from reconstructive knee surgery – and, in his private moments, will be tempted to belt out this reworking of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger":

Risin' up, at Torrey Pines
Sucked it up, won the Open
Went the distance limpin' on the back nine,
Just a man and his will to achieve

Two days later, a kick to the rump
He's having major knee surgery
No FedEx Cup, no big crowds, no fist pumps
No red shirts with those tight, fitted sleeves

I will cry without Tiger
I won't sleep through the night
Missin' out on a champion with no rival
Left with a bunch of rich guys who are boring and white
Hoping somehow the Tour can survive without Tiger

Hole to hole, on a bum wheel
Wouldn't let Rocco be Rocky
Pitying fools like Sly made Mr. T feel
I'd give him my ACL if I could

I will cry without Tiger
I won't sleep through the night
Missin' out on a champion with no rival
Left with a bunch of rich guys who are boring and white
Hoping somehow the Tour can survive without Tiger

Concealed his injury for almost a year
Made Belichick seem forthcoming
Something to ponder on my seventh beer:
Do golf writers know how to report?

They will cry without Tiger
They won't know what to write
Missin' out on a champion with no rival
Left with a bunch of rich guys who are boring and white
Hoping somehow the Tour can survive without Tiger

Survive without Tiger?
I think we'll die without Tiger …