Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping someone will splash water in my face after  staying up late several nights to watch the FINA World Swimming Championships:

Head shaking

The medical journal JAMA delivered a devastating hit on the National Football League on Tuesday with the revelation that 99 percent of the brains of deceased players who had numerous concussions showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The fact that CTE damage was found in 110 of 111 brains in the clinical study was a wake-up call for dozens of players, including Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Knowing the health risks of  extending his career much longer, Roethlisberger has indicated that 2017 may be his last season.

“If you want to mess with your brain, you can’t put a new one in, you can’t have a brain transplant,” Roethlisberger said. “If you want to mess with your brain, go ahead. I’m not going to. I love my family and kids.”

A 13-year veteran, the Steelers QB said his greatest fear was suffering from depression and dementia at some point.

“I want to play catch with my kids. I want to know my kids’ names. As much as I want my kids to remember what I did and watch me play the game, I also want to remember them when I’m 70 years old,” he said.

 Overall, CTE damage was discovered in 177 of 202 (87 percent) cases when the brains of college and high school players were added to the study.

 Headlines “Area man installs home pull-up bar to absentmindedly tap while passing through hallway.” “NFL offers 10% off all merchandise on NFLShop with promo code “CTE.” “LPGA star deemed too sexy for golf.” “Cavs fans stockpile lighter fluid to prep for LeBron leaving again.”; ‘Area stingray dreaming of making it to Tropicana Field touch tank.”

 War of words

No doubt Conor McGregor is one tough dude. But there’s also no denying the Irish mixed martial arts fighter will find himself on the green side of things when he steps into the ring next month with boxer Floyd Mayweather.

But no, not that kind of green. While McGregor may believe he has Hulk-like punching power, he’s sadly mistaken, according to former boxer Paulie Malignaggi.

Malignaggi, who was the IBF junior welterweight champion from 2007-08 and held the WBA welterweight belt from 2012-13, has sparred with McGregor. But more importantly, he knows how it feels when an opponent lands a punch hard enough to make your ears ring, teeth rattle and your eyes grow heavy.

“(McGregor’s power is) definitely above average. I wouldn’t say it’s ‘Oh my God’ power,” Malignaggi said. “… With small fight gloves he will hurt you. But it’s not ‘Oh my God’ power where every time he touches you you’re like, ‘My goodness, this is very uncomfortable.’ It’s not that kind of power, but it’s good enough.”

The two fighters have been on a world tour of boxing hyperbole, dancing and weaving on stage while throwing dozens of verbal shots at each other, many below the waist. But come Aug. 26 in Las Vegas, the only thing that will matter will be the judges’ scorecards.

As for the war of words, here’s a sampling from their trash-talking promos:

McGregor: “There’s no other way about it. His little legs, his little core, his little head — I’m gonna knock him out inside four rounds, mark my words.”

Mayweather: “I’m an old man. I’m not the fighter I was 20 years ago. But I got enough to beat you.”

  They said it

— Washington State football coach Mike Leach, revealing that he prefers rollerblading over running for exercise: “I don’t know what my top speed is. Fast enough you don’t want to fall down, I know that.”

— CBS comedian James Corden on people being upset that swimmer Michael Phelps only raced a computer-generated image of a great swhite shark during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week:  “What do people expect? You can’t get a shark to have a race on command. It’s a shark.”

— R.J. Currie of “I told my wife to buy Tom Brady’s upcoming self-help book: not because it’ll make me a gifted QB, exceptionally handsome or very rich, but because I live with a supermodel. She said: “We’re still not getting an 80-inch TV.”

— Janice Hough of “Lamar Odom has written about his drug struggles & nearly dying for Players’ Tribune. Title summed-up in four words? – Don’t date a Kardashian.”

— Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The perfect golfing foursome for a par-5 hole? Donald Driver, Chip Kelly, J.J. Putz and Eddie the Eagle.”

— Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald, after Forbes ranked the Dallas Cowboys as the world’s most valuable sports team. “I believe No. 7 is a high-school football team in Texas.”

 Girl trouble

After his girlfriend was pulled over for speeding, Los Angeles Clippers rookie Sindarious Thornwell told a police officer in Columbia, S.C. that he “don’t have a job” when the officer asked where he worked.

We should point out that Thornwell signed a $3.8 million contract earlier in the week and was wearing a Clippers T-shirt, which he tried to hide by leaning over his car. While he may have been trying to avoid publicity, Thornwell was back in the capitol of his home state where he’s quite the celebrity after leading South Carolina to the Final Four three months ago.

With the traffic stop shown on a local access channel, “Live PD,” Richland County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant Danny Brown reported that the woman had some of Thornwell’s clothes and personal belongings in her car and that she was following him because she didn’t want him to go to a party. But if that’s the worst run-in Thornwell will have with police now that he’s an NBA player, the Clippers will be quite happy.

Foul Ball

The entitlement syndrome is deeply rooted within LaVar Ball’s psyche.

That’s to be expected, I suppose. He’s the father of the Los Angeles Lakers’ prized draft pick Lonzo Ball. And yes, he has two other talented sons, LiAngelo and LeMelo, who are projected to be NBA-bound after one season at UCLA.

But then again, anyone who has seen the elder Ball’s frequent appearances on ESPN, knows his ego needs no stroking. It has long been out of control, but he apparently believes that having three basketball phenoms living under his roof gives him the currency to promote himself and his fledgling shoe company.

Having spent several months saying that Lonzo was better than Stephen Curry, Ball has now proclaimed himself the “best coach ever … because I said so.’’

Would a “best coach ever” forfeit a game his team was winning because of poor officiating? I don’t think so.

Ball has done that twice in the past couple of weeks, including at a Las Vegas AAU tournament where his troubles began when he forced sponsor Adidas to replace a woman referee after he was given a technical. Then near the end of the game he got a second technical and refused to leave after being ejected. He tried to suggest that he was being tossed as payback because the referee was a woman.

“I get that she’s trying to break into the referee thing. But just giving techs and calling fouls, that’s no way to do it,” Ball told Yahoo sports. “I know what she trying to say: ‘I gave LaVar, I gave him a tech, I’m strong.’ That ain’t got nothing to do with it. Just call the game.”



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