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Volume 27 No. 5
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SPORTS ON THE WEB: FALSE ESPN.COM TRADE RUMOR CAUSES FLAP

          A "young computer hacker" yesterday sparked the rumor
     mill after he took the design of ESPN.com, put it up on his
     personal Web site, and added a "phony" trade report with the
     byline of ESPN reporter Sean Salisbury that had Patriots QB
     Drew Bledsoe being traded to the Jets, according to Ron
     Borges of the BOSTON GLOBE, who writes that the Boston
     Globe, ESPN, Boston's WEEI-AM, the Patriots and the Jets
     were all "bombarded with phone calls and e-mails asking if
     what 'ESPN.com' was 'reporting' was true."  ESPN.com Exec
     Editor John Marvel said that he "knew immediately" that the
     report was false: "Sean's never broken a story, so we were
     suspicious right off the bat."  Marvel, on the prankster:
     "The guy obviously reads our site because it was done like
     he knew what we do, with the exception of his misspelling
     Bill Belichick's name."  But Marvel stressed the user "never
     hacked into the ESPN site."  Marvel: "I want to make that
     clear.  He took our design and made his story look like us. 
     That can be done on the Web."  Marvel said ESPN.com was
     "disturbed enough" with the incident "to call the person in
     question and our legal people."  Marvel: "You can find the
     registration for personal Web sites pretty easily, so we
     knew who had started it only moments after we saw the
     'story.'  When he answered the phone and I told him who I
     was, the first thing he said was, 'Oh (expletive).'  But he
     was immediately cooperative" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/10).
          ONLINE NOTES: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports that
     the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which raises money to fight
     cystic fibrosis, will become a sponsor of ClickThings!com,
     "a new Internet company that lets businesses create, manage
     and edit their own Web sites free" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/10).
     ...ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on the future of Jets Dir
     of Football Operations Bill Parcells and stated that team
     Owner Robert Wood Johnson has given Parcells "the green
     light to pursue his own lucrative Internet deal, even as he
     serves the club this year" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/9).