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Dead Lines

The Denver dailies change the way they handle obituaries -- for better and for worse.

That's not the kind of thing Rivers's defenders want to hear, and they'll be equally unhappy to learn that their requests for Estes-Cooper to replace him with someone who shares his mostly liberal stances are likely to go unheeded. The program director says she won't apply an ideological litmus test to replacement candidates, one of whom she hopes will be behind the microphone beginning on April 29. "I don't care what somebody's political bent is," she stresses. "If they can be interesting and compelling, they'll get the job."

As for Rivers, he'll continue writing columns for the Denver Post and contributing sports programming on Channel 4, and he wants to complete a second novel. He'll also provide commentary for at least three college football games next year on ABC and hopes that total will expand as the season grows closer. "The guy at ABC recommended that I talk to ESPN regional TV to see if I can get some Big 12 or Mountain West games, and he offered to call them on my behalf," he says.

Interpreting passing routes would clearly be less taxing than dealing with the folks who've been burning his ears since last year. "For a long time, I've been the lone voice in the media talking about certain things, so all the anger of the people who were opposed to them tended to funnel toward me. Now, I'm a stubborn person, and the more people attacked me, the more I'd dig in my heels and say, 'You're not going to intimidate me out of my beliefs.' But eventually I was just exhausted. I used to really enjoy going to work every day, and over the past four or five months, I haven't.

"I'm sure I'll miss the show. It's nice to have this forum for my opinions. But I know deep down the person I want to be, and this wasn't really fitting."

More of the Best: It's been two weeks since the appearance of Westword's annual Best of Denver issue, and many of you are probably still digesting it. After all, the mammoth edition contains a dumbfounding 666 blurbs, prompting insiders here to dub it "the Beast of Denver."

Even so, a handful of awards had to be sacrificed for production reasons. The following item -- "Best Michael Jordan Prediction," which singled out the Fan's Mitch Hyder and high school student Aaron Milner for praise -- was one of them. Here's the director's cut:

Colorado-based Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly is credited with being the first media type to report that retired basketballer Michael Jordan was planning a comeback. But Reilly was actually beaten on the story, not once but twice. In February 2001, Mitch Hyder, best known for providing sports updates on the Fan, traveled to Miami with the University of Denver basketball team to cover a contest against Florida A&M. Afterward, Charles Barkley, the onetime "Round Mound of Rebound" who's now an outspoken commentator on TNT, met with members of the team, then coached by his friend Marty Fletcher. During the session, Barkley told the squad that he and Jordan would be making a comeback with the Washington Wizards, a claim that proved half accurate (Barkley gave up his goal before the season started). Several DU players mentioned this bolt from the blue to Hyder, who shared their story on the Fan a full two weeks before the Sports Illustrated revelation. The magazine was also edged out by an article in the Lakewood High School Spectator that Milner had written based on Hyder's information. Add a couple new chapters to the life of Reilly.

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