The flame has been extinguished, but the memories of the Barcelona Olympics will live on -- Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Pablo Morales, and that dent in my couch pillows where I was parked for two weeks.
With the Games ending, the easy thing, the cliched thing to do would be to look back over NBC's coverage and give out medals. That would display no original thought. It's a real no-brainer.
Sounds as if it's right up my alley.
* The Jim McKay Gold Medal for Host: This gold was as much of a lock as the Dream Team's. Bob Costas was the perfect prime-time host. With him around, you knew the Olympics telecasts never would become stultifyingly serious -- and they didn't. He always had the right touch, from joking that a 10-man coup attempt in Madagascar succeeded only in changing a radio station's format to comparing a possible scramble for the Olympic-flame-lighting arrow with the chase for a home run ball on Waveland Avenue in Chicago.
* The Howard Cosell Silver Medal for Telling It Like It Is: Chris Marlowe and Paul Sunderland sometimes seemed to be speaking a kind of California beach language understood only by MTV's Pauly Shore, but the parts that were in English revealed the two volleyball announcers to be quite candid. When someone was stinking up the joint, they would say so -- usually in just those terms.
* The Wes Unseld Bronze Medal for Solid Minutes: Whether at diving or track and field, Tom Hammond put in a professional effort while logging a lot of time on air.
* The George M. Cohan I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy Tin Medal for Unabashed Rooting: It's not that Charlie Jones has anything against athletes from other countries, but why do foreign athletes have to be so foreign? Why ask why? Let's go, USA!
* The Gallo Brothers Fine Whine Cork Medal for Constant Complaining: All right, the Olympic boxing scoring system was a farce, but everyone probably got the message after about the 10th time Bob Trumpy and Al Bernstein criticized the system. Bernstein's otherwise excellent analysis suffered from this whine stain.
* The Is It Live or Is It Memorex Chromium Oxide Medal for Rewound Commentary: Diving analyst Michele Mitchell never tired of repeating information. This diver loves to perform for the crowd. So-and-so really needs to get this dive in the water. And it's not as if she told us anything the first time around.
* The Who's Mad at Him Zinc Medal for Barcelona Banishment: One of the most underused announcers at the Games was Joel Meyers, a talented sportscaster relegated to rowing and canoeing events, sports that received little air time.
* The ? and the Mysterians 96 Tears Cotton Hanky Medal for Oh So Sensitive Commentary: Sorry to get kind of choked up here, but John Tesh worked so hard for this medal. Gymnastics was transformed into a fairy-tale land of goddesses, swans and mother hens. And the hens weren't the only ones to lay an egg.
* The Bob Dylan How Does It Feel Rolling Stone Medal for Non-Thinking Questions: This goes to all of the NBC announcers who felt obliged to ask competitors how they felt after they exited the pool, track or court.
* The More Than a Feeling Silver and Black Medal for Questioning Effort: Todd Christensen, stationed at track and field, did his best to ask questions beyond "How do you feel?"
* The Lloyd Price You've Got Personality Platinum Medal for Distinctive Commentary: Did any announcer have more fun at the Games than Bud Collins at tennis? So he's a little goofy -- so BTC what? Any man who enjoys his work this much deserves a medal.
* The Bobby Vinton Sealed With a Kiss Red Lipstick Medal for Heartfelt Goodbyes: Dick Enberg took the buss to say farewell to morning show co-host Katie Couric, kissing her goodbye.
* The Right Said Fred I'm Too Sexy for My Shirt Glow in the Dark Radium Medal for Hip Presence: I'm jealous of Jim Lampley. He's just too cool and was a perfect choice as co-host of NBC's late-night show.
* The Casey Kasem Feet on the Ground Keep Reaching for the Stars Solid Gold Medal for Striking the Same Note: This goes to me, for setting an Olympic record for pop-music references in one sports TV column.