More Messages: Trojan Corpse

Today's Spotlight section of the Rocky Mountain News included a regular feature -- one of David Letterman's signature top-ten lists. In this instance, the topic was "Top 10 Signs You Watched Too Much College Football," and the final item read, "In bed, your wife says, 'Get a Trojan' -- and you come back with USC kicker Mario Danelo."

Funny stuff -- unless, that is, you'd heard that Danelo (pictured) was found dead over the weekend. As noted in this Associated Press article, Danelo's body was discovered over a hundred feet down a cliff near a lighthouse in San Pedro, a community not far from the University of Southern California's Los Angeles location. In early reports, police said there were no signs of foul play, suggesting either an accident or suicide.

The mistake wasn't Letterman's. The top-ten roster in question ran as part of the January 3 edition of his weeknight program, The Late Show, days before Danelo's death. Apparently, the person in charge of collecting this material for the Rocky isn't a sports fan, or he didn't bother to check the week-old copy for potential problems. Like, for example, a punchline about a guy who'd died in the interim.

Mere months ago, the Rocky committed a very similar gaffe. As noted in this More Messages blog item from August, the tabloid published a scouting report about the Horizon High School Hawks football team that read in part, "The Hawks need to find a quarterback, but the go-to guy in the backfield will be running back Devon Knight, who also was a first-team all-league defensive back." Turns out, though, that Knight died the previous April in a car crash immediately following the school's prom -- a tragedy the Rocky had covered extensively.

No doubt the Rocky braintrust hopes this trend ends with Danelo, who, unfortunately, is no longer alive and kicking. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts