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Brad Rock: Not all memories are meant as keepers

Published: Thursday, Jan. 6 2011 11:27 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — I see where actress Marilu Henner is one of six people on Earth with a condition called superior autobiographical memory, which means she can recall every day of her life.

She told "The Early Show" on CBS she can remember what she wore on specific occasions, decades ago. When tested by the interviewer, she accurately remembered which day of the week every holiday fell in 1975.

She said it's fun having such a memory, almost like time travel.

But to me, she's living a nightmare. There are a lot of days I'd like to forget. For instance, the time Mike Rowberry threw up, first day of seventh grade, and I got assigned to help the janitor with cleanup.

Beyond that, there are numerous sports memories I'd like to erase. I wish I could forget Greg Ostertag's false teeth clattering across the court. I'd like to forget Rafael Araujo's fadeaway. And I really, really wish I had never seen Rick Majerus busting out of a Hawaiian shirt.

If I had my way, I'd forget Hale Irwin shouting at me in the Thanksgiving Point clubhouse, and a minor league ballplayer spitting on my feet. I'd probably be better off forgetting the second half of Utah's football season in 2010, and the first half of BYU's.

I'd prefer to draw a blank on my 21-hour drive in a blizzard from Laramie after a 2008 football game, and the steak in Wisconsin that gave me food poisoning. I could also do without the off-key medley Cybill Shepherd sang at the 2003 Liberty Bowl. It wouldn't make me feel bad if I blanked out on the night the guy from Air Supply forgot the words to the national anthem, either.

I'd like to forget the time I got so sick in Wyoming that I slept through a game I was supposed to cover.

Actually, I wish I could forget every Wyoming trip.

Some things I'd prefer forgetting just because they were sad, such as the memory of Larry Holmes jabbing at an aging Muhammad Ali, but urging the champ to quit so he wouldn't get hurt. I'd love to forget the time a college football player beat up on an official, and the week I was in L.A. for the Rodney King riots.

Honestly, there are a few things I wish I could remember better, like the brief interview I had with Ali and what Henry Aaron said to me one winter afternoon in the Braves' locker room. I'd like to better recall what Warren Spahn said the times we talked at Derks Field, and why I liked Pete Rose when he came to Salt Lake. (All were retired at the time.)

I may not be Marilu Henner, but there are some things permanently in my memory. You can ask me in 30 years and I'll still recall Jim McMahon bringing BYU back in the 1980 Holiday Bowl, and Danny Ainge driving to beat Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA Tournament. I'm sure I'll never forget the Jazz's 1992 triple-overtime win over Chicago at the Delta Center, when Michael Jordan stormed off in a huff. And the night John Stockton's shot put the Jazz in the NBA Finals.

I doubt I'll ever forget Jordan walking into the United Center before a game, his head, fingernails and earring gleaming. I suspect I'll always remember Ali working the audience before a fight at Caesars Palace. The memory of Utah's Scott Mitchell bouncing a pass off a lineman's helmet and back to himself is a keeper, as is the time BYU's Mike Smith passed the basketball off the glass to himself.

I hope to never forget the day a wide-eyed airport security worker in New Jersey gushed to Stockton, "I don't know if you're a basketball fan, but Karl Malone just walked through here!"

I'll forever recall Beck-to-Harline, Ratliff-to-LaTendresse, Hall-to-Collie, Ryan Kaneshiro's miss, Brandon Burton's block, and the first 11 minutes of the 2009 Utah-Alabama Sugar Bowl.

They're all there in the vault. But unlike Henner, my memory isn't all that perfect. I'm just hoping I never start thinking McMahon's miracle pass, Stockton's shot against Houston and my wedding all happened the same day.

e-mail: rock@desnews.com

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