From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while pointing out that morning and afternoon World Cup games, that’s soccer y’all, is drawing better TV ratings than baseball’s College World Series:

Bad boy, bad boy

Jameis Winston was often the best player on the field when he played at Florida State, which is why he won the 2013 Heisman Trophy and finished sixth in voting in 2014.

But he also had to navigate the kind of public relations crisis no Heisman winner should ever face. And now he’s dealing with the kind of allegations you would hope a starting quarterback in the NFL would never experience.

While that may sound Pollyannaish, the truth is Winston can’t stay out of trouble. He’s his own worst enemy.

The latest incident, which is expected to earn him a three-game suspension from the NFL, is the alleged groping of a woman Uber driver in Arizona last November. Winston denies he’s guilty. But the NFL, after conducting its own investigation, believes otherwise.

With a history of misdeeds, not all of which are misdemeanors, Winston has left a trail of warning signs.  Whether it’s stealing cups of soda from a fast food restaurant, shoplifting crab’s legs from a grocery store, causing thousands of dollars of damage with a pellet gun at a residence hall, or shouting an obscene meme in a student union, Winston is no stranger to trouble.

Boys will be boys, ya know?

But by mid-November of 2013, Winston was being investigated for an alleged sexual assault a year earlier. The fact he was never charged speaks to the impact of football at FSU, although he did settle a civil lawsuit out of court and FSU had to fork over a small fortune in a Title IX lawsuit.

Now we know that in March 2016, less than a year after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him No. 1 overall, Winston was apparently behaving like a Donald Trump understudy.

You know, grabbing women by the p—ssy.

I’ve never been prouder that Winston didn’t get a Heisman vote from me in 2013 or 2014.

The Bucs still consider him the face of the franchise, but they’d be smart to start trying to squeeze some trade value out of Winston before its too late.

Mixed signals

There’s no crying in soccer.

Tom Hanks didn’t say it, but Brazil’s largest newspaper, O Globo, did when star Neymar Jr. was seen sitting on the field covering his face with his hands as he shed tears following a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica on Friday.

The camera lingered on him uncomfortably long, capturing the emotion the win generated.

Both goals for Brazil came in stoppage time, including a forceful tap-in by Neymar, so it was a hard-fought victory against a well-organized Costa Rica team.

But for Brazilians, who like to dance in the stands to their soccer, the sight of Neymar breaking down is a cause of concern. Especially when the team has only played two games.

“A team needs to demonstrate mental strength, not fragility. Genuine or not, Neymar’s crying is worrying,” wrote 0 Globo.

Brazil is tied with Switzerland atop Group E with four points each, but it hasn’t cleared a path to the knockout stages going into Wednesday’s match with Serbia.

They said it

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “I had a dream last night that Phil Mickelson shows up at the College World Series, races onto the field during a slow roller back to the mound, and bats the ball twice.”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien after President Trump said the North Korean dictator was invited to the White House: “Unless, of course, Kim Jong Un wins the Super Bowl or the NBA championship.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was given an honourary doctrate from the Medical College of Wisconsin. And like many a doctor in private medicine, he can really hurt you in the pocket.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “CWS visitors are learning that “Omaha” is an old Indian word meaning “rain delay.”

NBC comedian Seth Myers on the Golden State Warriors championship parade: “And to add insult to injury, they held it in Cleveland.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Wake Forest, citing an undisclosed violation of team rules, has suspended starting quarterback Kendall Hinton for the first three games of the 2018 season. Or as Demon Deacons apologists tried to spin it, three-and-in.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Argentina and Messi would like to thank Melania Trump and her jacket for making sure they weren’t the most embarrassing story of the day. #WorldCup”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Happy Father’s Day. My dad died when I was young, but taught me to swim “army-style” by tossing me into a lake. I got to shore, but had a tough time getting out of the duffel bag.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Red-hot Nationals rookie Juan Soto debuted on May 20. Today in continuation of a May 15 interleague game against NY, he hit a 2 run game winning homer. So the hit and RBI count before his actual first game..AND against the Yankees?!   Amazed MLB didn’t somehow disallow it.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “If Avis is looking for a modern-day spokesman for a tried and true ad campaign, Gronkowski was No. 2 in Belmont Stakes as well as No. 2 in the Super Bowl.”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “The U.S. will host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico. Players can either travel from the U.S. to Mexico by plane or just walk past the wall that still won’t be built.”

Comedy writer Jim Barach: “San Francisco Giants reliever Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door after a blown save. Since he forgot to open the door first, he officially loses his status as a closer.”

Brady bunch

Tom Brady has negotiated playing at least two more years. It’s in his contract with the New England Patriots, and sealed with a kiss with wife Gisele Bundchen.

But while Brady, 41, playfully suggested during an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday that he’d like to stick it out in the NFL until he’s 45, there are other voices who may get a vote. His three children.

“I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there driving my kids to their games,” Brady said. “I think my kids have brought a great perspective in my life, because kids just want the attention.

“You better be there and be available to them, or else they’re going to look back on their life and go, ‘Dad didn’t really care that much.'”

Fire sale

Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in the Cleveland area are selling LeBron James jerseys at half price, gambling that the time to unload King James merchandise has arrived.

Thus, a No. 23 jersey that normally retails at $110 can now be had for $55.

We won’t know if Dick’s is correct in believing that the four-time league MVP is prepared to bail on his hometown Cavaliers for the second time in eight years until after July 1.

The last time he left – taking his “talents to South Beach” – Cleveland fans burned his jerseys. So by buying the discounted merchandise it may make it easier to torch a few more jerseys.

World Class Tweets

Rehastagging my top Tweets from a week of watching World Cup soccer @Randy_Beard11:

  • Iceland, you don’t need more fans to do the wave. You need more skilled, quick defenders who don’t just wave at attacking players going to goal.
  • Nigeria’s Musa > Argentina’s Messi. At least in this World Cup but they can settle it on field when they play each other Tuesday.
  • World Cup update: Ronaldo 3, Messi 0.
  • Croatia: “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”
  • Diego Maradona looks worried. Argentina needs “Diego” Messi to arrive because Lionel Messi isn’t getting it done at moment because Iceland’s defensive focus

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Overly enthusiastic Cristiana Ronaldo accidentally rips off upper-body skin after scoring goal.”

Fark.com: “Tom Brady has given a hint on his retirement age. Let’s just say it’s an age most of us want to retire at.”

TheOnion.com: “Ovechkin hopes to inspire other athletes to power through month-long bender.”

Fark.com: “A new contestant for sports injury of the year: Brandon Morrow goes on the DL for throwing out his back taking off his pants.”

TheOnion.com: “Lionel Messi pissed after forgetting to wear Fitbit during last game.”

Fark.com: “Mikal Bridges was drafted by the Philadphia 76ers, the team his mother works for. Then he was traded.”

TheOnion.com: “Has the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team earned the right to watch the World Cup?”

Real whopper!

Hey, it could be argued that Russia’s Burger King division was only trying to do its part in helping to build a stronger national soccer team.

With the country hosting the World Cup, the burger joint had ads on social media offering 3 million rubles and a lifetime supply of Whoppers to women who were impregnated by members of one of the World Cup teams.

To quote the ad: “For these girls, it will be possible to get the best football genes, and will lay down the success of the Russian national team on several generations ahead. Forward! We believe in you!”

Burger King’s Russian division is no longer running the ad on social media and has apologized.

Family affair

Meanwhile, rather than focusing on the act of impregnating, Denmark’s players turned their attention to the finished product. When defender Jonas Knudsen’s wife, Trine, delivered their daughter ahead of schedule, his teammates took up a collection to pay for him to fly home.

“We wanted to look at the human side,” said goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. “There are lots of fathers in the squad. You have to remember we are human beings as well as footballers.”

So, after Denmark beat Peru 1-0 last Saturday, Knudsen made a quick trip home courtesy of a private jet. He was back in Russia on Monday.

Ratings game

The web site, newarena.com, likes to rate the greatest players in various sports and skills, like their recent rankings of the 25 greatest hitter in baseball: 1. Ted Williams, 2. Babe Ruth; 3. Stan Musial; 4. Ty Cobb; 5. Rogers Hornsby; 6. Lou Gehrig; 7. Roberto Clemente; 8. Mickey Mantle; 9. Willie Mays; 10. Tony Gwynn. 11. Hank Aaron; 12. Barry Bonds; 13. Pete Rose; 14. Honus Wagner; 15. Ichiro Suzuki; 16. Rod Carew; 17. Joe DiMaggio; 18. Frank Robinson; 19. Jimmie Foxx; 20. Ken Griffey, Jr.; 22. Alex Pujols; 23. Shoeless Joe Jackson; 24. Alex Rodriquez; 25. Mike Trout.

Maybe baseball really is America’s PASTTIME.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while wondering if FIFA colluded with Russia in scheduling the host nation’s 5-0 rout of Saudia Arabia in Thursday’s opening match of the 2018 World Cup:

Thrice as nice

For a World Cup that doesn’t include the United States, Holland or Italy – half the teams I expect to see something special from every four years – I’m good.

That’s because the world was treated to something truly special Friday when Ronaldo and Portugal clashed with rival Spain in a Group B game Friday afternoon at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia.

Ronaldo finished  a hat trick outing with a tremendous free kick goal in the final minutes of regulation to secure a 3-3 draw. It was his first spot kick goal in a major international tournament, and it sent a message that he’s looking to secure his legacy on the world’s greatest stage.

Ronaldo delivered with a penalty in just the fourth minute when he was taken down  by Nacho Fernandez. It wasn’t the worst of fouls, but it was enough to get the match off to a frenetic start.

Spain’s Diego Costa made it 1-1 just  20 minutes later by asserting himself in front of goal. But just before halftime, and after another 20 minutes, Ronaldo made it 2-1.

Costa equalized again 11 minutes into the second half and Nacho redeemed himself to give Spain its only lead three minutes later with a canon blast inside the left post.

Then it happened. Ronaldo made certain Portugal left the field with at least one point from its opener by tucking an incredible  shot over the wall and inside the upper right post. For new Spain manager Fernando Hierro, it had to be a crushing blow for his debut on the world stage.

But for Ronaldo, it was pure joy.

“I am very happy. It’s a personal best, which is beautiful,” said Ronaldo. “It’s one more record in my career.”

But Ronaldo also knows that he alone can’t deliver the goods, as evidenced by Portugal’s European title two years ago when the team had to find a different way to squeeze out the right combination of  wins and draws.

“It’s more important to highlight what the team has done, playing against a favorite for the World Cup,” said Ronaldo. “In my opinion it was a fair result … and a hard fought game.”

If nothing else happens in this World Cup, at least we were treated to something remarkable by two of my other favorite national teams to follow.

We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see if Brazil can work out the organizational kinks against Switzerland.

Viking power

I should confess that with the United States sitting out this World Cup (further proof of no collusion with Russia), my underdog loyalties will switch at least briefly to Iceland.

They’ll need to possess some of their Viking spirit with Lionel Messi and Argentina providing the opening round test in Group D test Saturday.

Athlete rights

The revolution is gaining steam.

Two rules were passed this week that will give student athletes more control of their futures starting this fall.

It’s a huge change for college football, which arguably has been impacted more than any other sport by NCAA participation rules as it affects redshirting as well as unfair transfer rules.

With the changes, football players can now participate in as many as four games and not lose a year of eligibility.

That means that if a player gets injured within the first four games, there will be no need to petition for a medical redshirt. It also means that if a player who was being redshirted is forced into action in the final four games of a season, they won’t lose an entire year of eligibility. Or, if an injury to another player happens early in the season, a redshirted player could be activated for as many as four games while the coaching staff manages the roster.

The player would still have four full seasons of eligibility as long as he didn’t participate in more than four games.

The other change oversees the transfer process.

Previously, a student/athlete had to ask permission to transfer and also abide by restrictions that might limit where he or she could transfer. Thus, a school could prevent a player from transferring to another conference school or to a state rival.

It’s a petty policy that too many schools abused without any concern for how it affected a student-athlete, who might  just wish to transfer to another in-state school to remain close to home.

Now any student-athlete who wishes to transfer only has to inform their current institution of their decision. Starting Oct. 13, the student-athlete’s name will be entered into a database that other schools can see. Then any interested schools may contract the player.

That said, players will still have to sit out a season abd conferences can still choose to restrict a player from transferring to another conference school.

But putting up a nonsensical roadblock isn’t likely to happen with the way student-athletes rights are evolving.

They said it

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Tiger Woods made a triple-bogey on his first hole today. Does this mean ESPN is likely to give up this weekend’s U.S. Open coverage?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Serena Williams said a pec injury affecting her arm forced her to pull out before a French Open match with Maria Sharapova. Surprising. I thought she only needed one arm to beat Sharapova.”

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel: “Alabama football coach Nick Saban says he didn’t run out of gas while spending an afternoon on the lake with some of his Alabama players last week, the boat just had a faulty fuel pump. Personally, I think UCF AD Danny White drained the tank!”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Dennis Rodman has arrived in Singapore for the North Korean summit. OK, there’s another in a looooong list of sentences that I never thought I’d be typing.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “In NFL news, Coastal Carolina bestowed an honorary doctorate on alumnus and Washington cornerback Josh Norman. It was reportedly a Doctor of Humane Letters with a trash-talking minor.”

Norman Chad on Twitter: “I once was at a drive-in one car behind James Harden and they called a foul on me while he was ordering.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com on the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green’s habit of running his mouth: “I’m thinking he must have been vaccinated as a child with a phonograph needle.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Thanks to Steve Chapman for this comment last night ‘Justify turned down an invitation to the White House. When asked why, the Triple Crown winner said, “If I wanted to see a horse’s ass I would have finished second.”

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “Yale beat Duke to win the NCAA title for lacrosse. It was a hard-fought game. At one point, a fight broke about between the players’ butlers and chauffeurs.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Warriors star Steph Curry has twice headed to the links between games of the NBA Finals, GolfChannel.com reported, and shot a 71 both times. Which is even more impressive, golf wags say, when you consider he’s wired to shoot every 24 seconds.”

Golfer  Tim Herron to the St. Paul Pioneer Press on what he may do with the more than $160,000 he won after tying for 11th at the Fort Worth Invitational: “Probably put it in my kids’ college fund – it might cover a year when they’re all going to school.”

Bucks’ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo on Twitter after trying some American junk food: “Just tried a corndog for the first times … Man, God bless America!”

Royal pain

We can debate all summer whether LeBron James broke a hand punching a white board in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but that certainly isn’t why the Golden State Warriors won another title.

I am convinced, however, that King James banged his head against a locker room wall. Why? Because after being swept in the finals, James still has an inflated sense of self.

No, not financially. Egotistically.

He used ESPN in 2010 to announce he was “taking his talents to South Beach” when he left Cleveland for Miami. Then he struck a deal with Sports Illustrated in 2014 to let it be known he was headed back to Cleveland.

Now, another four years later, the rumors are flying that James may again be on the move. Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Boston?

Or will he stay put in Cleveland?

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons is floating a theory that James is filming a documentary to announce where he will play next. The natural landing place for that documentary is on James’ own podcast site, UNINTERRUPTED.

Mark me down as UNINTERESTED.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Moscow officials deny accusations of money laundering after World Cup game played in $1.2 billion gravel lot.”

Fark.com: “Super Bowl champions finally get their rings, 30 years later.”

TheOnion.com: “Ovechkin knocks out rest of teeth while kissing Stanley Cup.”

Fark.com: Gronkowski bet $69 on Gronkowski He won $950.”

TheOnion.com: “Cash-straped FiveThirtyEight lays off dozen of top algorithms.”

Fark.com: “Russia’s World Cup corruption is so massive, it can be seen from orbit.”

TheOnion.com: “Justify, Bravazo get into skirmish during Belmont Stakes weigh-in.”

Fish tales

Records are made to be eaten.

At least that’s the mindset Ahmed Majeed had after he caught a channel catfish last Saturday at Green Lake in the Seattle area. He knew he had a big fish by just looking at it, but it also weighed in at a whopping 45 pounds.

Only one problem. He weighed it on a home scale.

The Washington state record for a channel catfish is 36.2 pounds. To officially beat that, Majeed was told by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that he had to have the fish’s weight confirmed by a certified scale.

Majeed had other priorities that a listing in a record book.

He told Q13 Fox that he chose not to wait because he didn’t want the fish to spoil, so he carved the fish into fillets.

“I gave some to my mom, my brother and I still have a bunch in the freezer,” Majeed told Q13 Fox.

Despite his meal plans, Majeed, 35, says he hasn’t given up on his record quest.

The WDFW has shared photos of the catch on Instagram.

Dripping sarcasm

Now we know Tom Brady will do anything to have his way.

During an interview with Vogue, Gisele Bundchen revealed how the New England Patriots’ quarterback proposed to her.

“He made up this whole story how my apartment was flooding and I ran over there to try to fix the situation,” she said. “When I got there the whole apartment had candles and rose petals everywhere.’’

Pretty snarky of ol’ Tom.

But the real lesson from that confession is that if you ever have any plumbing issues, you need to have Giselle on speed dial.

Checking in

It’s been rather hectic two weeks, which explains why I didn’t blog last week.

I split the week between Indiana and South Carolina.

Sold the house in Evansville, although closing isn’t for another month.

Learned our banker in S.C home purchase was fired, so our paperwork is behind. Bank assigned new mortgage loan officer, and we’re making up for lost time.

And because of a bulging disc that has me on meds that make me drowsy, I’m having my car transported from Indiana to South Carolina.

But I will have a blog post this week. So good news, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while noting that we still have to wait another week to find out if Justify can win the Belmont Stakes and join the exclusive Triple Crown club:

Untypical owner

So, let’s get this straight. The Carolina Panthers were in the market for a new owner because their previous owner, Jerry Richardson, was an older white guy who was prone to making sexist and racist remarks to office employees.

Now they are owned by another white rich guy, not as old mind you, who has a history of making his own sexist remarks, including this comment about his wealth to a writer for New York Magazine. When pondering how to spend his money, the 60-year-old David Tepper said he could buy an island, a personal jet or “a 22-year-old.”

A Pittsburgh native, he previously owned a 5-percent share of the Steelers. He has a net worth that is around $11 billion dollars, which makes him the second richest owner of an NFL team behind Seattle’s Paul Allen.

Allen rarely gets into public spats and mostly stays out of the way as the NFL conducts its business. That won’t be Tepper’s style. He doesn’t often think before speaking and when he feels strongly about something he can be rather loud and forceful in expressing his opinions. He once kept a large set of brass testicles on his desk at Appaloosa Management.

“He’s not afraid to speak his mind. That’s for sure,” Steelers owner Art Rooney told the Washington Post’s Kent Babb.

Still, his purchase of the Panthers was approved unanimously by the other owners.

Tepper joined the billionaire club by 2003, cashing in on distressed companies such as Enron and WorldCom. In 2010 his company pocketed $7 billion on a single deal. According to Babb, prior to gaining attention of cable financial news shows, Tepper was known to verbally abuse employees and fling breast implants around the office.

“I’m just a regular upper-middle-class guy who happens to be a billionaire,” Tepper told New York Magazine.

He also said he has “a great appreciation for how stupid I am.”

Need proof. He sometimes lets his grudges get the better of him — at least financially. He once bought a beachfront mansion of a Goldman Sachs supervisor who had passed Tepper over for a promotion. Tepper paid $43.5 million for the home and had it demolished. He also once considered buying a restaurant so he could fire a waiter who had been rude to him, according to the Post story.

And when it comes to politics, he’s not afraid of President Trump, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appears to be. After the recent flap over whether NFL players are disrespecting our flag and anthem by kneeling to protest criminal injustice, the players may have another owner on their side.

That’s not certain since Tepper hasn’t weighed in publically on the NFL’s new policy, that wasn’t negotiated with the player’s union. But he has made his feelings known about Trump, who has so far managed to spin the debate for his supporters, claiming the players are un-American if they don’t stand for the anthem.

Those are largely black players, we should note.

In 2016, he said of the then Republican nominee as someone who “masquerades as an angel of light, but he is the father of lies.” He’s also said Trump is a “demented, narcissistic and a scumbag.”

It should be an interesting, bumpy ride.

Best crossover

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, an MLB Hall of Famer and current TV baseball analyst, has qualified for the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament at a qualifying tournament in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Smoltz, 51, won his spot by winning a three-man playoff at Planterra Ridge Golf Club. He shot a 69, and then earned his ticket on the third playoff hole.

The U.S. Senior Open Championship will begin June 29 at the Broadmoor-East Course in Colorado Springs.

Tweet of week

From the Vegas Golden Knights’ official account on May 19:

“On this day in Golden Knights history: Actually, not much happened. We didn’t have a team yet. Probably just had meetings.”

They said it

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: According to a new study, getting extra sleep on Sundays can help prevent premature death. Finally, some good news for Cleveland Browns fans.

Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson on whether he’s still capable of playing Gold Glove defense at third base at age 81: “I can still dive and catch ‘em, but I can’t get up.”

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel: “No (Steve) Clifford is not a sexy hire, but, let’s be honest, the Magic don’t exactly have a sexy job. As far as sexiness goes, the Magic job is Chris Christie.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson: “Sports gambling may soon be legal. Millions of Americans will abandon playing the Powerball Lottery to bet against the Cleveland Browns.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Cowboys offensive line coach Paul Alexander says he judges his players’ mental acumen by the way they pour ketchup out of a bottle. Our condiments to the coach.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Warriors do live a charmed life. In 1015, Kyrie Irving was injured in Game 1. In 2017, Kawhi Leonard was injured in Game 1. And in 2018, JR Smith WASN’T injured in Game 1.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again, after a Japanese kayaker was banned for eight year for spiking a rival’s drink: “I’m pretty sure that’s legal at the Tour de France.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm wound up in the ER after he got a fish hook stuck in his leg. Bulldog apologists immediately blamed it on his line.”

Currie of SportsDeke.com: “The U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports gambling across all states. This just in from Pete Rose: “It wasn’t cheating. I was ahead of my time.”

Norman Chad of the Washington Post on Twitter: “Jerry West dribbling should be replaced as the NBA logo by LeBron James with both arms extended questioning a non-call.”

Seahawks broadcaster Steve Raible on late Chuck Knox’s superstition of changing hotels if his team had lost there during previous seasons: “We stayed every place but the YWCA (in) Kansas City.”

Comedy writer Argus Hamilton: “The NFL has just slapped a 15-yard penalty on players who don’t watch Fox News in their hotel room.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Lakers indicating they won’t draft LiAngelo Ball. Gosh, wonder why they wouldn’t want a mediocre player who’s already been arrested for theft and would double the team’s fun with dad LaVar.”

Bolt denied

Usain Bolt, officially, won nine Olympic gold medals. But he’ll only be credited with eight by the International Olympic Committee after it stripped Jamaica’s 4×100 relay team in 2008 of its gold medal because of a failed drug test by Nesta Carter, who ran the first leg of the race.

But here’s the thing: Carter’s failed test came during retesting in 2016. Carter’s sample allegedly contained the banned substance methylhexaneamine, a stimulant.

Carter appealed but on Thursday, the IOC’s Court of Arbitration for Sports denied his challenge.

Bolt participated in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100 relay in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics and won each of the events. It gave him a perfect gold medal record – nine for nine – until the CAS stripped Jamaica of its world record win in 2008.

Eight years, and one Olympic Games, after the fact.

The IOC now says Bolt wa 8 for 9 in his golden attempts.

Meanwhile, now that Bolt is retired from his career as a world class sprinter, he has turned his attention to soccer. He currently is training with Norwegian club, Stromsgodset, for a charity match he will participate later this month in Manchester, England. His end game is to  attract attention from a top European club.

The 6-foot-5 Bolt, 31, has already trained this year with Borussia Dortmund of Germany and Sundowns in South Africa.

“It’s something I really want to do and pursue,” Bolt said. “That’s why I’m really training to make sure when I get to this charity match, I’m at my best and focused. And hopefully everything will come together, a team will see what kind of talent I have.

“You never know, I might get picked up. We’ll see what happens.”

To the rescue

Deliah Cassidy was stuck. Traveling home to Arizona from London, she was about to board a connecting flight in Los Angeles when an American Airlines gate agent told her she needed to pay a $50 baggage fee for a carry-on.

The college student didn’t have the cash, and was maxed out on her credit cards. So she begged. And begged. And kept being told, “No.”

She was at wit’s end, and tearing up, when a stranger stepped forward to offer to pay the fee. She tried to decline, but he insisted. And then he boarded the flight.

When she boarded, she saw him sitting in first class, and stopped to give him a hug.

Cassidy, 22, tweeted about it during the flight even though she didn’t know who he was. She later learned from a flight attendant that the “her angel” was a professional football player.

An aspiring sports lawyer, she was able to identify him as Arizona Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham.

Once they landed in Phoenix, she approached Gresham again, told him she knew who he was and asked to take a selfie with him.

“He said, ‘If I was in that situation and I was gonna miss my flight, I would hope someone would do the same thing for me,’ she told People magazine. “I was stunned. I want everyone to recognize how amazing it was that this guy did this! He didn’t expect anything to come from this. He never told me his name. He did it anonymously. It was so honest and pure.”

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Puma researcher has nagging feeling he left Usain Bolt running at office.”

SportsPickle.com: Second quarter layup pushes LeBron James past Michael Jordan as best player of all-time.”

TheOnion.com: “Supreme Court votes 7-2 to legalize all wordly vices.”

SportsPickle.com: “Kevin Durant silences all the critics who said he could never help a 73-9 team win a championship.”

Fark.com: “1-31 Browns to be on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks.’ Seems appropriate.”

TheOnion.com: “Yankees fans pack stadium for ‘Asshole Heritage Night.’ ”

SportsPickle.com: “Roy Moore reminds voters that many of Alabama’s top recruits have also tried to have sex with teenage girls.”

 Signs of time

Top Five Snarky Signs from NFL fans from Tiebreaker.com:

Cleveland Browns: “Rebuilding since 1964.”

Green Bay Packers: “We’re going to the Super Bowl Pro Bowl! Go Pack Go!

Baltimore Ravens: “Don’t strike, where else can I get 6 beers 4 $35.”

Detroit Lions: “0-16 … We did it first.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: “My dad says run the ball.”

Stick with me

My wife and I are living out of suitcases, stuck in a suites hotel with two maltese, while we make our move to South Carolina.

Closing on the home we are buying has been tentatively set for June 25. We stiil have a home for sell in Evansville, Ind,, and I’ll be making at least one more trip north to take care of some things.

Anyway, I mention this because my blogging time has been limited. But fear not, when the move is complete I will have a writing cabin out back where I can be alone with my thoughts. May even  churn out the next great American novel.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while trying to gather my wits and regain my strength from the exhausting challenge of moving back to my home state on an expediated timetable:

Dykstra drama

I was getting worried about Lenny Dykstra. After all, it’s been a while since he last drew the attention of the police.

But he’s back now, making up for his silence his week with the kind of bad-boy drama we’ve come to expect of Lenny Dykstra.

The three-time 1990s All-Star and a member of the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets, Dykstra was arrested in Linden, N.J. in the wee hours of May 23 for terrorizing a Uber driver. The driver abandoned his car in front of the police station after Dykstra allegedly put “a weapon” to his head and threatened to kill him.

Dykstra was also charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. So yeah, the player who was once known as “Nails” hit for the cycle.

True to form, Dykstra disputed the driver’s claims and insisted he wasn’t arrested – even though the police issued a news release on the incident. Instead, Dykstra claims the driver “kidnapped me and almost killed me going 100 mph.”

Whatever, just add it to a long, growing list of sexual misdeeds and financial fraud that trace Dykstra’s fall from baseball glory. In 2012, he was even sentenced to three years in prison after he and associates bought cars from various dealerships using falsified bank statements and stolen identities. After only serving six and a half months of the sentence, Dykstra was released on probation and ordered to undergo weekly drug testing.

If he was ever drug-free, it didn’t stick.

Stay tuned. Dykstra won’t disappoint.

They said it

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon on fans watching competitions between gamers at e-sports arenas: “It combines the thrill of going to a live sporting event with  the thrill of having an unemployed roommate.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Can’t see things going well for new Browns quarterback and first overall pick Baker Mayfield. I give him six games before he changes his name to Mayday.”

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel: “New FSU coach Willie Taggert says he’d like to see college football players who earn a degree be awarded a “trust fund” to get a head start on life. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the college degree itself was your head start on life.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “In just the past eight months, the Kansas cheer team has been suspended and three KU fraternities shut down amid hazing allegations. Turns out the least-threatening thing on campus is the football team.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Matt Harvey refuses to go to a AAA team, and ends up with 8-27 Reds.”

Currie of SportsDeke.com, again, after Mets starters Jacob DeGrom didn’t allow a run despite throwing 45 times in the first inning “I worked in advertising for 10 years and made fewer pitches.”

Comedy writer Tim Hunter on Moscow saying it will limit alcohol sales at this summer’s World Cup: “We do that over here with something called the $16 beer.”

Blogger TC Chong on golfer Lucas Glover’s wife getting arrested for getting physical with his mother: “Now there’s a Mother’s Day story you’ll have a tough time topping.”

Skipping reality

Before he became a talking airhead, Skip Bayless made his coin spewing nonsense in print. Now he has mastered the art of talking crap on Twitter.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers lost Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue suggested that LeBron James appeared to be fatigued late in the game, Bayless quickly made a big deal of King James chugging water  at the scorer’s table.

Undisputed’s Bayless quickly pounced via Twitter: “This is just pathetic, LeBron is sitting on the scorer’s table chugging water trying to show the gullible witnesses he’s “dehydrated.” Next we’ll hear he’s suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Unreal.”

James says he’s just fine, and we have no reason to doubt that he’ll find his extra gear again.

Meanwhile, I’ve long suffered from the malady I call “Chronic Fatigue from Skip Bayless’ Rants.”

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “New NFL policy requires all players to honor patriotic spirit of subservience American flag represents.”

Fark.com: “NFL used polling firm to get public opinion on Colin Kaepernick.”

TheKicker.com: “Remember when Miami had a pro baseball team?”

Fark.com: “What kind of American coaches soccer in another country?”

TheOnion.com: “New alternate-history drama examines what would have happened if Nazis won 1991 NBA Finals.”

Fark.com: “Fargo man mistakenly runs full marathon instead of the half he’d signed up for, probably in attempt to run completely out of North Dakota.”

TheOnion.com: “Pink jersey proves that woman is sports fan, yet also retains a certain femininity.”

TheOnion.com: “Jerry Jones offers to pay players’ fines for domestic violence.”

TheOnion.com: “MLB reminds teams to properly dispose of all torn elbow ligaments.”

Fark.com: “Nick Foles preferred being second-string in Philly to starting in Cleveland.”

TheOnion.com: “HBO selects Cleveland Browns to appear on new season of ‘Big Little Lies.’”

Nasty, nasty

Former bad boy of tennis, Ilie Nastase, also chose the wrong way to create headlines this week.

The 71-year-old Romanian was arrested twice in six hours in Bucharest. The first time he was detained after 4 a.m. on suspicion of drunk driving and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. He was handcuffed, had his license suspended and was notified that he was under investigation.

That didn’t slow down Nastase

A few hours later he was charged with running a red light while on a scooter. The second time was the charm. Bucharest police say his blood alcohol level of 0.55 mg per litter carries a maximum five-year prison sentence, but he was only fined $253 and his license has only been suspended for three months.

The former U.S. and French Open champion was also caught on film mocking the police. He did admit he had been drinking beer.

Good to know.

Coming soon

The NHL has announced that it will add Smart Puck technology for the 2019-20 season – possibly sooner.

The technology will allow the league to track the movement of the puck at a rate of 200 times per second. That means the coaches and other NHL officials will be able to gather more information on possession, shot placement, shot distance and passing accuracy.

.

Heading South

Quick note to remind readers that I may not have a blog up until Saturday or this could even be a blog free week.

Movers came and are holding our furniture hostage. We are heading to S.C. on Saturday and will be “homeless” for at least a month while we are searching down there and have our home for sell.

Just tune in for updates.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while congratulating Florida State coach Mike Martin for becoming the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I baseball with 1,976 wins:

It’s time

I’ve been a Milwaukee Bucks fan since the days of Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor, and have a basketball signed by the Big O to prove it.

The first time I met Dick Vitale, he sought me out at a juniors tennis tournament in the 1970s because I was wearing a Bucks cap. I also owned a Don Nelson fish tie, so we’re talking nearly 50 years of looking dapper and being a devoted fan.

Careful, now. I consider myself experienced and wise, not ancient and senile.

Which makes me qualified to say it’s time to hire Becky Hammon as Milwaukee’s next head coach. Let her be the woman to break the glass backboard …, uh, ceiling in the NBA.

Sooner or later there is going to be a female head coach in the league and Hammon deserves to be the first. She’s already won an NBA title, even if it was a Las Vegas Summer League championship with the Spurs in 2015.

That gamble turned out OK and maybe that’s the point.

If San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich believes she can coach men, that should be more than enough to get her foot in the door. Being on Pops’ staff since 2014, she’s received a coaching internship that’d be hard to top.

It’s time for her to make the leap to the top job.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry also have endorsed her, and if those two respect Hammon’s basketball IQ, why should anyone else have any doubts.

Giannis Antetokounmpo might even welcome Hammon’s hiring because of her extensive international connections, including playing for teams in Spain and Russia.

Pau Gasol, 37, wrote an essay in The Players Tribune this week endorsing Hammon as a coach. The 7-footer said any suggestions that a woman NBA coach would face a difficult locker room and be at risk of losing the trust and respect of individual players when things didn’t go well on the court are ideas “almost too stupid to include” in any discussions about Hammon’s coaching ability.

At worse, that means she faces the same risk as any other coach, right?

“To me it would be strange if NBA teams were not interested in her as a head coach,” wrote Gasol, a six-time NBA All-Star from Spain who has played with the Spurs since 2016.

“I’m telling you, Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”

High times

Speaking of Don Nelson, he’s now enjoying the good life, buying property in Hawaii, hosting poker games and using weed for medicinal purposes.

He blames another famous Wilson – first name, Willie – for getting him started with marijuana. But seriously, what do you expect when he’s frequently playing poker with potheads Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson.

“It’s not that I smoke all the time,” Nellie told the New York Times. “I usually just smoke at night during poker games. Like Willie told me, it’s hard to be depressed when you’re smoking pot.

“I don’t drink anymore, because I like pot better. It’s about the same as alcohol, except you don’t have the after effect. There’s no hangover,” said Nelson.

In Hawaii, it’s legal to grow 10 plants of marijuana for your personal consumption.

They said it

R.J. Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Danica Patrick said on the Rachel Ray Shows she has a lot in common with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Presumably, we can rule out being good at passing.”

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel on NASCAR’s dwindling popularity: “NASCAR’s season is too long, the races are too long and our attention span is too short. Ironically, a sport that is based on speed is becoming obsolete because it lasts too long.”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien on a report that Boston Red Sox player Mookie Betts is related to Meghan Markle, who is marrying Prince Harry next Saturday: “This means that there’s a chance that one day there will be a ‘King Mookie.’”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Games due to corruption and links with organized crime. Well, if that’s the criteria for banishment, then why is the IOC still in existence.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Next time you think your boss has overly high expectations … Dwayne Casey of the Toronto Raptors. Named NBA Coach of the Year by fellow coaches 2 days ago. Fired today.”

Don Nelson, who won five NBA titles as a player with the Boston Celtics, on what made him a successful player: “I could ball a little bit. I was a slow runner, so I was a perfect trailer guy. I could rebound, I could pass, I could shoot. I could do a lot of things to fit in, you know, if you need an extra guy. I was just kind of an average guy that fit in with a really great team.”

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg after Russian president Vladimir Putin, 65, scored seven goals in a pickup hockey game: “Now, I don’t want to say the goalie did not try to stop Vlad’s shots, but I’ve seen Kardashians reach harder to pick up a book.’’

Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Astros reliever Ken Giles slugged himself in the face after giving up a game-winning homer. Dolphins QB Jay Cutler once threw a punch at his own face — it went over his head.”

Mackey Taggart of Global News Toronto on Twitter after the NHL ordered the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand from licking opponents: “Ripped from the headlines of a kindergarten newspaper.”

N.Y. Giants quarterback Eli Manning on taunting he’s heard from Philadelphia fans: “Philly, you just gotta get used to because you’re not used to seeing a 9-year old cursing at you and talking about my mom and stuff.”

Perspective needed

Sir Alex Ferguson had to be placed in an induced coma last weekend after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

But to no one’s surprise, the first thing the 76-year-old legendary British soccer manager wanted to know when he woke up was whether his son’s team had won its game.

Darren Ferguson is the manager of the Doncaster Rovers of League One and they had a game against defending champion Wigan.

“So, how did Docanster get on?” asked the former Manchester United manager.

Told Doncaster had lost 1-0, Ferguson began pressing doctors for whether he would be able to attend the Champions League championship in Kiev on May 26 to see his former star forward Cristiano Ronaldo play for Real Madrid against Liverpool.

“Ronaldo sees Sir Alex as a father figure,” said a Man United spokesperson. “But Sir Alex needs plenty of rest and will have to follow his consultant’s strict instruction to recover fully.”

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Roethlisberger upset Steelers didn’t ask for his consent before drafting quarterback.”

Fark.com: “ESPN shows how the Browns could make the playoffs: Locusts, plague, supervolcano, meteor strike, apocalypse.”

TheOnion.com: “Rockets’ mop guy can tell this game going to be a sweaty one.”

Fark.com: “Tom Brady prepares for his career after football. Either figure skater, Vegas magician or James Bond villain.”

Fark.com: “According to a recent survey, the NFL offers paying customer the worst game day experience of the major U.S. professional sports, including MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA, MLS, WNBA and ATP.”

TheOnion.com: “Mark McGwire claims he would have hit 70 home runs without help of bat.”

TheOnion.com: “Derek Jeter denies tanking allegations after Marlins field 4 players.”

Going slow

There’s still a hitch in his giddy up when it comes to Andrew Luck’s preparations with the Indianapolis Colts.

The quarterback hasn’t thrown a pass – at least for public consumption – in 16 months. And yet the Colts insist he’s recovering from shoulder surgery as expected.

Head coach Frank Reich said Luck will play for the NFL team this season.

And just last month at the NFL meetings the first-year Colts Head Coach praised Luck for his toughness and composure in games.

“He’s exhibited all those characteristics throughout his whole career, not just with the Colts, but in college,” said Reich, “It’s exciting because you know he’s not only a talented player, but he’s got the kind of character, the kind of backbone, the kind of toughness that you really want to be part of the leadership of the team.”

Indy fans may just have to wait until the summer to see how well Luck has recovered from shoulder surgery before they can get to excited about having their franchise quarterback healthy again.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while noting that one of the biggest disappointments about being retired is not having a working gig during today’s Kentucky Derby:

Stirring it up

Sometimes Charles Barkley is the biggest knucklehead in the TNT studio. He just can’t help himself.

Such was the case after Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Rajon Rondo of the New Orleans Pelicans went nose-to-nose while engaged in “some unfriendly chatter” Tuesday night.

During TNT’s halftime show, Barkley suggested Green deserved to pay a price for trying to intimidate and provoke Rondo into fighting.

When Ernie Johnson asked the panel for their thoughts, Barkley said, “I just want someone to punch him in the face. I really do. I just want someone to punch him in the face.”

After the game when Green was asked to respond to Barkley’s comments, the war of words was on.

“He’s seen me a million times,” said Green.” If he feels that strongly about something, then punch me in my face when you see me. If he’s not going to punch me in my face when he sees me, then shut up. It’s no different than someone sitting behind a computer screen and tweeting, “I’ll knock you out, and you never see them in your life.”

Green continued his rant by suggesting Barkley should have the guts to follow through on his threat.

“Punch me in my face when you see me. If not, no one cares what you would have done. You’re old and it is what it is,” said Green. “If you aren’t going to punch me when you see me, then stop talking about it. Period.”

When he initially had trouble putting the microphone back on its base, he looked at the reporters in the room and said, “Drop the mike.” Then he got up and left the interview session.

Meanwhile, Rondo laughed off the incident and said it was essentially gamesmanship between the two. He said he wasn’t trying to “bait” Green, but he wasn’t going to back down, either.

For the record, the Warriors lead the West semifinal series, 2-1, after the Pelicans bounced back for a 119-100 win Friday night. Neither Green or Rondo was much of a factor scoringwise in that game, combining for 15 points. But Green did have 12 rebounds and nine assists and Rondo had 21 assists and 10 rebounds.

So, no title?

For the record, Scott Frost, now the head football coach at Nebraska, doesn’t claim he won a national championship at UCF last season after completing a 13-0 season by leading the Knights past Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

Sure, he understands why UCF athletic director Danny White scheduled a title parade, hung banners around campus and purchased championship rings for the team. Heck, Frost and his coaching staff even accepted the championship bonus checks – and then all bolted for jobs with the Cornhuskers.

Not a bad way of double-dipping on your football salary, if you can manage it.

“All I’ll say is if I had stayed there, I would have had a hard time getting behind it,” said Frost. “I think it was smart by them because it has kept UCF in the media and in the conversation. But you know, like our rings, I kind of wish my ring just said ‘Undefeated Season’ and ‘Peach Bowl Champion.’”

All the media fuss the championship claim has created is reportedly been worth $200 million in publicity for UCF. And it hasn’t cost UCF anything but the expense of the parade, banners, rings and coaching bonuses.

“I do think it was almost criminal how low (the CFB Committee) kept UCF in the rankings, and I think it was intentional,” Frost told USA Today. “But at the end of the day, the playoff system  is that the national champion is the team that wins the playoff.”

So while White sticks to his assertion that UCF has a championship claim because it beat both Alabama and Georgia – the two teams that played for the title in the same stadium in Atlanta – Frost recognizes the Crimson Tide as the true champions.

’Skins game

The New York Times reported this week that several Washington Redskins cheerleaders were forced to go topless or wear only body paint during a 2013 calendar shoot in Costa Rica. Since there was no nudity in the calendar, the real problem is that the women allege corporate sponsors and other men were on the trip and were invited to watch the photo shoots. The story also alleges that the cheerleaders were then required to escort those men to a nightclub.

It took a few days, but the team is now finally, and predictably, pushing back on those charges. Two former squad captains who were on the Costa Rica trip dispute that the team was “pimping us out.”

“Those terms — ‘pimped out,’ ‘escort’ — they just need to stop, because it’s absolutely not what happened,” Rachel Gill said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show alongside fellow ex-team member Charo Bishop.

The Times, which interviewed five former cheerleaders, stands by its reporting. The women remain anonymous because they were required to sign confidentiality agreements to go on the trip.

While none of the cheerleaders have alleged they were required to have sex, they do claim that the squad’s director, Stephanie Jojokian, used them “as sex symbols to please male sponsors.”

Bishop, however, said she didn’t see anything wrong with the cheerleaders’ roles at the team’s corportate events. She also told NBC that going topless at the photo shoots was, “All optional, voluntary. Some girls were excited to do those things.”

The Times report also alleges that during a 2012 private boat party the men were allowed to shoot liquor into the mouths of cheerleaders with turkey basters” and “handed out cash prizes in twerking contests.”

Team president Bruce Allen said in a statement Thursday that the team is investigating the allegations.

“I can promise that once we have completed looking into this matter, if it is revealed that any of our employees acted inappropriately, those employees will face significant repercussions,” Allen said.

Of course, what’s really needed is for the NFL to get serious about its diminished image and realize that a growing percentage of its fans are female. So where is the side of beefcake?

Right step

Meanwhile, over in the NBA, another step in the right direction toward women’s rights comes the news that the Milwaukee Bucks plan on interviewing Becky Hammon for their vacant head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

Hammon already has been a trailblazer in the league, serving as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. In 2015, she coached the Spurs’ Las Vegas Summer League team and won the championship.

Despite being undrafted in 1999, the former standout at Colorado State played 16 seasons in the WNBA with the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars and was named as one of the league’s top 15 players all-time in 2011.

The Bucks interviewed Hammon for their general manager job in 2017 but she wasn’t a finalist

For the coaching vacancy, Milwaukee is expected to interview several other candidates, including former Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer, former New Orleans coach Monty Williams and former Cleveland coach David Blatt.

They said it

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel on the report that some Washington Redskins cheerleaders were forced to pose topless during a 2013 calendar shoot in Costa Rica:  “New team motto: “We’re a sexist organization with a racist nickname!”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “You can slip us this Mickey anytime: A 1952 Mantle baseball card has sold for $2.88 million — or 384 times the $7,500 he was paid to play that season.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “FIFA called out Trump on ethics after he tweeted about not supporting countries who don’t support North American World Cup 2026 bid. Give Donald Trump credit – who else could give FIFA the moral high road?”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien: “A study reveals that the best way to add years to your life is to exercise, lose weight, and not drink too much. To which all of America replied, “What else you got?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Two ex-cheerleaders who filed NFL discrimination suits said if Commissioner Roger Goodell met with them, they’d settle for $1 each. Or twice their old salaries.”

Dwight Perry, again: “Scientists in Singapore created a robot that can put together an Ikea chair in roughly 20 minute. So now it’s on to even tougher challenges, like assembling a roster for the Cincinnati Reds.”

Age-old problem

Jerry Richardson is clearly not smarter than a fifth-grader.

The 81-year-old owner of the Carolina Panthers is being forced to sell his NFL team because of numerous harassment complaints, including sexually suggestive comments he made to female employees.

One such incident even borders on middle-school hijinks since Richardson allegedly passed a note to at least one woman that sought to determine if she had any interest in having a relationship with him.

“Do you think of me as: 1. Your grandfather; 2. Your second father; 3. Your second husband; 4. Your friend; 5. Your boyfriend; 6. Something else.

 Gridiron grandstanding

When NewArena.com compiled its listing of the top college football coaches, the Big Ten surprisingly came out on top with  nine of the 33 ranked coaches. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer led the way for the league at No. 2, while Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh was No. 5.

Meanwhile, the ACC had the second most coaches on the list with seven, giving the league two more than the SEC. But despite those overall numbers, it’s interesting to note that Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was the only ACC coach ranked among the Top 10.

Alabama’s Nick Saban was No. 1 overall to lead the SEC’s three coaches in the Top 10, including Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M at No. 7 and Gus Malzahn of Auburn at 10.

But based on numbers, the Pac-12 could claim dominance with UCLA’s Chip Kelley ranked No. 4, Washington’s Chris Petersen at No. 6 and Stanford’s David Shaw at No. 8.

We should also note that Fisher bolted from Florida State of the AC at the end of the season to take the Aggies’ job. If that hadn’t happened, the Pac-12 would have been the only league with three coaches ranked in the top 10.

The list: 1. Nick Saban, Alabama; 2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State; 3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson; 4. Chip Kelley, UCLA; 5. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan; 6. Chris Petersen, Washington; 7. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M; 8. David Shaw, Stanford; 9. Gary Patterson, TCU; 10. Gus Malzahn, Auburn; 11. Bobby Petrino, Louisville; 12. Mark Richt, Miami; 13. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame; 14. James Franklin, Penn State; 15. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; 16. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State; 17. Kyle Whittingham, Utah; 18. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin; 19. Mike Leach, Washington State; 20. Bill Snyder, Kansas State; 21. Dan Mullen, Florida; 22. David Cutcliffe, Duke; 23. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy; 24. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech; 25. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech; 26. Tom Herman, Texas; 27. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; 28. Clay Helton, Southern Cal; 29. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa; 30. Scott Frost, Nebraska; 31. Mike Norvell, Memphis 32. Matt Campbell, Iowa State; 33. Jeff Brohm, Purdue.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Don Mattingly yelling at Marlins for leaving dome open with AC on.”

Fark.com: “Boston Marathon gets to keep some of the prize money because three of the top 15 runners lack Y chromosones.”

Onion.com: “LeBron James credits teammates with providing 4 bodies necessary to avoid forfeiture against Pacers.”

TheOnion.com: “Joe Maddon saves up all his mound visits for one long trip in 8th inning.”

Fark.com: “There are dumb people in the world but until today I didn’t know there were people dumb enough to say, ‘let’s put a Super Bowl in London.”

TheOnion.com: “White Sox promotion puts first 9 fans at ballpark in starting lineup.”

Fark.com: “High school baseball player sues third base coach for telling him to slide.”

Fark.com: “Stay classy, Redskins management.”

TheOnion.com: “No (expletive) chance kid who bought mitt to 400 level getting near foul ball.”

TheOnion.com: “Gym patron just resting for a second until will to live returns.”

Higher expectations

Josh Rosen wasn’t pleased that he fell to the 10th pick of the first round of the recent NFL Draft.

“I thought I should’ve been picked at 1, 2 or 3,” said Rosen, who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals. “I dropped, and I was pissed. I was really, really angry. I wasn’t really showing it. I was trying to keep calm, cool, composed.”

So much for projections that Rosen was the top quarterback in the draft. Perhaps the problem with that evaluation is that it caused ‘Chosen Rosen’s” head to further swell, and then burst when he was drafted 10th.

One team GM said Rosen was psychologically a combination of Jeff George and Jay Cutler, two polarizing quarterbacks who can divide teams. It was a way to suggest that Rosen doesn’t have the leadership skills to last in the NFL

But what he did demonstrate in college was that he can make the quick, short-yardage throws that keep the chains moving in a West Coast offense.

Rosen responded to the criticism he’s heard by saying that he would make it a goal to be a leader. “I’m not going to come in and be an a–hole and think that my s— don’t stink,” he said.

Replacement player?

Ben Roethlisberger may have been merely voicing his desire for more help in getting the Steelers to another Super Bowl when he criticized Pittsburgh for taking Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Randolph in the third round. But by bringing it up during a KDKA radio interview on the Cook and Poni Show, he sounded territorial.

Roethlisberger is entering his 15th season in the NFL and he wouldn’t mind sticking around for another few years. Since Big Ben has had a knack for playing through injuries, starting an average of 14 games a season, he thought the Steelers could have used a lower draft pick on a quarterback and gotten help for another position of need.

“I thought that maybe in the third round, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” he said.

Personal note

I haven’t fully decided, but this blog may go into hibernation for a few weeks because my wife and I are in the process of relocating from Indiana to South Carolina.

If I can still manage the time to write, I will. You’ll just have to tune in during this transition, but I shall return at some point.

Personally, it’s a good time to take a break since I was kicked to the curb by Gannett one year ago during one of the company’s many downsizing moves. It came less than two weeks after I was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists with two 2016 writing awards, including second best columnist in Indiana.

As always, you can always reach me by email at randy.beard@yahoo.com

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while waiting for the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo to even the score against the Cavaliers’ LeBron James while supporting Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsetts’ executive order “banning” goaltending:

2020 vision

Finally, the days of one-and-done players in college basketball are numbered.

Although details have yet to be ironed out, the NBA and the NBA Players Association are laying the groundwork for the league to once again draft high school players.

It appears that the 2020 recruiting class will be the first to have the option of going straight to the NBA again –  although there has been talk of requiring those players to start the season in the developmental G League.

The recently convened Commission of College Basketball, chaired by Condeleezza Rice, has taken the position that if the NBA doesn’t change its rules, it would pressure the NCAA to declare freshmen ineligible to play varsity.

The Commission would prefer future McDonald’s All-Americans and other 5-Star recruits who choose college to invest at least two years toward earning a degree. To protect players who attempt to make the jump to the NBA, but are undrafted, the committee wants them to be able to maintain their eligibility.

Currently, the NCAA allows underclassmen to receive input on their draft potential but to remain eligible they can’t sign with an agent and they have to withdraw from the draft 10 days before the NBA Combine.

This year there are a record 236 players, up 30 percent from a year ago, who are testing the evaluation system. Of those, 181 are college underclassmen and the rest are international players.

Kentucky’s John Calipari, who perhaps has benefitted from one-and-done players more than any other college coach, would prefer for the NCAA and NBA to agree to remove all restrictions on players.

“If they want to go (to the NBA) out of high school, go. If they want to go to college and then leave, let them leave when they want to leave,” Calipari said. “Why would we force a kid to stay?”

Rice and the committee also looked at issues surrounding the influence of AAU coaches, agents and shoe company representatives who have allegedly worked with some college coaches to pay top recruits. That FBI investigation led to Louisville firing Rick Pitino.

They said it

Humor writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Ratchet your enthusiasm down half a notch, OK? It’s Scott Frost’s staff with mostly Mike Riley’s players. #Buzzkill.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Because of a scheduling logjam, the telecast of Game 4 of the Devils-Lightning playoff series got moved to the Golf Channel. Disoriented broadcasters never did figure out whether Nikita Kucherov’s hockey stick was a sand wedge or a 9-iron.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “NBA admits last night they missed goaltending on LeBron James at end of Cavs-Pacers game 5. Silly league. Don’t they know superstars NEVER goaltend? Or travel for that matter.”’

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, drafted by Baltimore with last pick of first round: “(My mom) always wanted me to strive for greatness. She’s always seen a lot more in me than I probably see in myself sometimes.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “It’s hard to believe quarterback Mark Sanchez got caught using a performance enhancing substance. If ever a guy should demand a refund.”

CBS comedian James Corden: “A 20-year-old man from Colorado recently survived a shark bite in Hawaii. Less than a year before that, he was attacked by a 300-pound black bear. And a few years before that, he was bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking. Based on these incidents, we do know a lot about this man. For example, he must taste delicious.”

The envelope …

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, after Jalen Hurts’ father told Bleacher Report that his son would likely transfer to another school if he doesn’t retain the starting quarterback job at Alabama: “And the winner of the 2018 LaVar Ball Trophy is …”

Hurts, of course, was replaced at halftime of January’s national championship game by freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who led the Crimson Tide from 13-0 deficit to a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia in Atlanta.

With that kind of attitude, Saban will probably pack Hurts’ luggage.

Heavy lifting

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt hasn’t forgotten that he can better the lives of L.A. sports fans. He has dreams of building a gondola system to make it easier to get to Dodger Stadium.

It’s actually the company of McCourt’s son, Drew, that has proposed having an overhead gondola system operational in time for 2022 opening day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It will be constructed with private funding and would not be built by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. But if constructed, it would provide another mass-transit option for Dodgers fans. Currently, there is the Metro express bus.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Tom Brady reveals that humanity will perish long before he retires.”

Fark.com: “Track meet cancelled due to aggressive geese nesting near track.”

Onion.com: “Jerry Jones hoping to use 2018 draft to find long-term solution at mistress.”

SportsPickle.com: “FBI agent friend adamant that North Carolina won’t make it past Sweet 16 in his bracket.”

Fark.com: “Baseball player removed from game after hitting himself in the head with his bat during warmups.”

TheOnion.com: “Is Andrew Luck recovered from his quadruple-amputation surgery?”

Fark.com: “Attention seeking father takes his Balls and goes home.”

SportsPickle.com: “Draft prospect says Eagles asked him if his mother is ‘woke.’”

TheOnion.com: “Should the Browns use the first overall pick on a once-in-a-generation long snapper?”

Scripted living

It’s been more than 1,000 days since Ronda Rousey won a fight that wasn’t scripted, and she’s OK with that.

She’s now building a WWE wrestling career and also making more cameos in movies. She’s even hired a publicity manager to help her navigate interview requests, teaching her how to reveal only what she wishes to make public.

Once a publicity hound willing to answer nearly every question posed to her, everything about her WWE career has been scripted. She did, however, open up about her life during a recent Q&A session with Hollywood director Peter Berg.

“We live in an age of trial by Twitter,” Rousey said. “What is really gained by stating opinion on anything? … Why should I talk? I believe hearing me speak is a privilege and it’s a privilege that’s been abused, so why not revoke it from everyone?”

Before walking away from UFC, Rousey admits she shed a lot of tears while her husband (Travis Brown) consoled her after the second loss. But her feelings of failure run much deeper than that.

“My parents expected me to be special, so I expected to be special,” Rousey said. “But one thing my mother never taught me was how to lose. She never wanted me to entertain it as a possibility. She’d say: ‘Let it suck. It deserves to suck.’”

Loose Balls

LaVar Ball’s latest headline-grabbing move was to pull sons LiAngelo and LaMelo away from Lithuanian professional team BC Prienu Vytautas because of a dispute over playing time.

Never mind dad’s irrational ways already have cost LaMelo his senior year of high school and LiAngelo his freshman year of college. Granted, he pulled  LiAngelo out of UCLA after he was suspended for shoplifting designer sunglasses in China.

While their older brother Lonzo is experiencing his ups-and-downs in the NBA as a rookie with the  Los Angeles Lakers, LaVar’s master plan of one day having all three sons suiting up for the Lakers is quickly falling apart.

LiAngelo isn’t projected as an NBA talent, at least  not this year. And LaMelo won’t be eligible to declare for the draft until the 2019. And, let’s face it, he’s not the hoops talent his dad imagines.

Considering the two youngest Ball brothers are going to need another soft landing spot soon in order to keep up the basketball life, dad LaVar may need to feed his ego and fund his own minor league team. Maybe even the geographically challenged Premier Basketball League that once had a team in Owensboro, the Kentucky Mavericks, would be an option.

The PBL even has a link on its web page soliciting new ownership. It’s currently a five-team league.

If he’s really making money off his Big Baller Brand shoes, he might even be able to afford it.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Ravens have interesting first round, getting productive tight end with South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst and potential QB of future with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
  • Where’s Baker Mayfield going to get his Rodney Dangerfield “no respect” material now that Browns picked him No. 1. Oh yeah, the last-place, 0-16 Browns picked him No. 1
  • It will still take a lot of donuts to get UE students to Ford Center dozen or more times next season..
  • Eagles win Super Bowl and still get a winning draft pick with RB Rashaad Penny with 27th pick? Smart drafting.
  • Can’t believe UK football had more fans at spring game than Gamecocks. Wildcats must have been hosting a biddy basketball game and an Elvis Impersonator at halftime.

Visa wars

Donald Trump is nothing but a walking contradiction.

As tough as he wants to be on immigration policy, and as much as he wants to limit visas to our South and Central American neighbors, we now learn that he’s supportive of the United States Soccer Federation’s bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada.

He does realize the Cup will inspire soccer fans South of the Border to be drawn to our country, right? Can you build a wall for that?

In a Tweet on Wednesday, Trump stated: “It would be a shame if countries that we always support would lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations.)

Morocco is also pushing to host the games in eight years, which will be the first to feature a 48-team tournament.

Russia is hosting this summer’s 32-Team tournament in which the United States failed to qualify. Qatar has been awarded the 2022 rights.

All FIFA member nations will vote for the 2026 host on June 13.

 Long shot

Despite his effort to tease his summer plans by saying he would be at the World Cup in Russia this summer, Zlatan Ibrhimovic will not be playing for Sweden.

That didn’t stop the ultra-confident striker from teasing the audience during a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

“I’m going to the World Cup, yes. If I say more, they will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say,” said the Swede.

Sweden’s football association quickly put those rumors to rest, saying the 36-year-old player would not be returning to duty with his country’s national team. Ibrahimovic, who recently left Manchester United to play for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, last played internationally at Euro 2016.

Lars Richt, head of the Swedish FA, said he talked to Ibrahimovic on Tuesday and confirmed that playing for the national team is no longer something Ibrahimovic is focused on.

“He announced he did not change his mind about the national team – it is no.”

Before that declaration was made, Ibrahimovic had generated some excitement by leading the Galaxy back against the Columbus Crew with two goals, including one from 38 yards.

Considering his knack for coming through in the clutch, Sweden would be wise to keep Ibrahimovic’s availability to the national team this summer as a “long shot” option.

Year of the QB

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the first pick of the NFL Draft Thursday night. He was soon joined by three other quarterbacks, all taken among the first 10 selections of the first round.

That made it an historical moment for the position.

After Mayfield went No. 1 overall, Southern California’s Sam Darnold was selected third by the New York Jets. Then with the seventh pick, Wyoming’s Josh Allen went to the Buffalo Bills and UCLA’s Josh Rosen fell to No. 10 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

But it may have been the 33nd pick that will turn out to be the steal of the draft. The Baltimore Ravens managed to claim Louisville’s Lamar Jackson with the last pick of the first round.

While much was made of how upset Rosen was to be selected as the fourth QB of the draft. Jackson also is determined to prove himself. Thankful to get his shot as an NFL quarterback, he said he would report to Baltimore with “two chips on his shoulders.”

In terms of development, it will prove to be a good thing that he will have a chance to settle in before taking too many body shots from some of the NFL’s  fiercest pass rushers.

For now, Jackson will get to be the understudy for veteran Joe Flacco, who has led the Ravens to one Super Bowl win. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner will have some packages that will get him on the field this season and, if everything goes as planned, he’ll be ready to step in next season.

The Ravens also have Robert Griffin III to help prepare the 6-foot-3 Jackson, who is viewed as a bigger, stronger and faster Michael Vick. It also helps that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg coached Vick in Philadelphia and Greg Roman was in San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick.

“They’re going to get a Super Bowl out of me,” said Jackson.

He and Mayfield became the first two Heisman winners to be drafted in the same year.

Pizza pick

The 14th pick of the third round – No. 78 overall – came with a bonus this year. The “Pi Pick (3.14)” – Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson — was awarded a year’s worth of pasta pies from Pizza Hut when he was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals 78th overall.

The Bengals got the pick in trade involving Kansas City and Washington.

Pizza Pick II

Freetail Brewing, a craft beer company, is offering Kawhi Leonard free beer and pizza for life if he agrees to sign a new contract with the San Antonio Spurs.

But its doubtful that pizza alone will keep Leonard in San Antonio. Leonard is currently rehabbing a right quadriceps injury, but he’s eligible for a big raise that will pay him roughly $219 million over five years starting next season.

Trivia time

Florida State’s Charlie Ward (1993) and Oklahoma’s Jason White (2003) were Heisman winners who went undrafted, by the NFL, although Ward played in the NBA and White signed with Tennessee as a free agent.

But which Heisman Trophy winner fell the deepest in the NFL Draft?

Naval Academy running back Joe Bellino won the Heisman in 1960, but wasn’t taken until the 17th round by Washington. After four years in the service, he played in the AFL with the Boston Patriots, who had drafted him in.19th round in 1961 because of his service commitment.

Three years later, Roger Staubach also went undrafted until the 10th round in 1965 because of his commitment to the Navy. He was 27 when he was a rookie with Dallas, but it didn’t stop him from enjoying a hall of fame career.

From Sidelines to punchlines.

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while wondering why anyone cares about setting attendance records for spring college football games:

Farewell tour

I once had a pet squirrel, but sadly, no rodent training skills.

All Squiggy learned to do all those years ago in Spartanburg, S.C. was how to eat out of my hand without nipping a finger. I should have tried harder. Much harder.

That was my first thought after reading that Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel is retiring after 39 years.

That’s the life Chuck and Lou Ann Best envisioned for Twiggy after they came across their abandoned squirrel.

Chuck, who owned a skating rink, had taught a chimpanzee how to skate, so he at least had experience training animals. While that wasn’t his intent when he bought a remote-control boat for the pool, his thoughts made that leap when friends started kidding him. It wasn’t long after that that he started teaching Twiggy how to water ski.

Voila! The water-loving rodent was an instant hit at outdoor shows, state and county fairs and on television. He even made an appearance on David Letterman’s show.

Well, at least one of the Twiggy’s did. Eight different squirrels have assumed Twiggy’s identity through the years, including several after Chuck died in a 1997 boating accident. Lou Ann nearly retired the act then, but Twiggy had built such a following that it would have been foolish for her to do so. Instead, she re-envisioned the show as a way to promote water safety.

That all ends this year.

After a stop this weekend in Sarasota, Fla., Twiggy’s final tour will end with bookings in Lake Mary, Fla., Indianapolis and Huntsville, Ala. Then  Twiggy and trainer will retire to the good life in a Florida retirement village.

But wait, there’s more.

Twiggy will become a publishing star when Lou Ann starts diving into a series of children’s books.

“I’m excited and scared to death,” Best said. “Physically, doing the physical work and the riding for so many hours on the road, it’s getting harder for me as I get older. I want to write some books.”

For the record, Sguiggy and I became acquainted in 1986 – only 32 years ago – when he fell out of a nest in my front yard.

He became so tame that he’d eat out of my hand months after we released him into the wilds of our yard. We even have a family portrait taken in the driveway with The Wife and our three kids.

But about six months after he moved out on his own, Sguiggy was murdered by a cat and left on our doorstep (I assume for a proper burial).

He would have been better off living a life of fame, fortune and water skiing.

Come to think of it, so would I.

Stolen glory

The University of Central Florida — yeah, it prefers to be called UCF — handed out large rings Saturday to its football players for the self-proclaimed national championship the school claimed after finishing the season unbeaten at 13-0.

It completes  an egotistical march to claim a title the Knights really didn’t win.

Since January the school has held a championship parade, marked the Orlando campus with  title flags, hung a national championship banner at Spectrum Stadium and raised thousands of index fingers.

All in an attempt to declare an athletic version of Stolen Vaor.

But if all you had to do was declare something true, Lamar Jackson would have won the Heisman Trophy for the second consecutive season.

And that would have been more believable.

They said it

Humor writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “If Bill Moos’ extensions of Tim Miles’ contracts get any shorter they can be measured with a shot clock.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Patrick Reed has been spotted seemingly everywhere since winning the Masters, still wearing his green jacket. The movie-theatre stop proved a bit awkward, however, when patrons wouldn’t stop handing him their tickets.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Quarterback Mark Sanchez has been suspended for the first four games of the 2018 NFL season for Performance Enhancing Drug use. Well, whatever he took, it didn’t work.”

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Did you see where the Jacksonville Jaguars are building a dog park at their football stadium? I’m thinking this might not be such a great idea … I guess those growing number of NFL critics have a point when they say the league has gone to the dogs.”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien: “Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski bought a stake in a Kentucky Derby racehorse that was named after him. The million-dollar animal bred for its ability to run fast says he’s excited to own a share in a horse.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Note to Notre Dame basketball hero Arike Ogunbowale when she competes on Dancing with the Stars. ‘Don’t wait until the last 10 seconds to score with the judges.'”

Norman Chad of the Washington Post: “If the future of sports viewing is millennials watching 90-second video clips on YouTube, cricket is in a world of hurt.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Does anyone else find it bizarre that, right after the NFL finally clarified its definition of what constitutes a catch, the Cowboys drop Dez Bryant?”

Pedaling Phelps

Michael Phelps is no longer swimming competitively, but he is still competing athletically – even if he isn’t doing it for all the world to see.

Competing online in Pelotron cycling classes, Phelps has been logging hundreds of miles and burning thousands of calories under an assumed identity.

“I’ve had somebody next to me racing every single stroke of my life I’ve ever taken in the pool. It’s good for me to kinda be able to push myself,” Phelps told Business Insider.

“We got a Peloton maybe last July, last August, and I’ve kinda just been really hammering bike rides when I’m home.”

Now that he’s not beginning every day swimming laps, Phelps said he’s motivated by watching the digital “leaderboard” as he rides at home.

For now, he likes having a secret identity

Different view

Tired of being penalized for helmet-to-helmet hits, Micah Hyde thinks quarterbacks who try to hook up with receivers in the danger zone across the middle are the ones who should be penalized and possibly fined.

“They’re the ones who are throwing the ball right there,” said Hyde. “It’s tough for us to be able to adjust last second to get our head to one side, the other side — up, down. We’re trying to make a play like the receiver is. It’s the sport of football.”

The NFL did tweak the rule book last month so that any player – offensive or defensive – can be penalized 15 yards and potentially ejected if they lower their head to make helmet-to-helmet contact with an opponent no matter where they are on the field.

“It’s a violent game, it’s a violent sport,” said Hyde. “They’re trying the best they can do to make it as safe as possible, but at the end of the day, those bang-bang plays, they’re hard to get out of the sport.”

The previous rule limited penalties to situations when any player initiated contact outside the tackle box with the crown of their helmet,

This is the first of many steps toward the formation of the NFFL –  National Flag Football League.

Midwest synergy

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has joined forces with the Milwaukee Bucks, which makes him the only active NFL player to be a limited partner of an NBA team.

Besides the show of community support for another professional team in the area, the investment comes with some nice perks. Like courtside seats at the Bradley Center, which Rodgers shared with girlfriend, Danica Patrick, Friday night during Milwaukee’s Game 3 rout over Boston in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Rodgers is a huge Bucks’ fan, calling the investment opportunity “a dream come true.”

Hmmm. I wonder how that makes Danica feel?

 Headlines

Fark.com: “Bryce Harper’s bat died a hero last night. Godspeed, Wonderboy.”

TheOnion.com: “Michael Jackson attacks softness, lack of competitiveness in modern blackjack players.”

SportsPickle.com: “Tough break for Browns getting 16 games again – that’s their unlucky number.”

TheOnion.com: “Carmelo Anthony struggles to get rhythm back after making shot.”

Fark.com: “Lance Armstrong settles his lawsuit with the U.S. government for $5 million, a livestrong bracelet and his remaining testicle.”

TheOnion.com: “College equestrian clearly coming to class straight from practice.”

Fark.com: “Michael Phelps shows how to get pot stains off your teeth.”

SportsPickle.com: “America sick of Aaron Rodgers’ cocky behavior after learning he is 1/16th black.”

Lighting it up

In an interview with the Bleacher Report, former NBA player Kenyon Martin said that he believes 85 percent of the league – and not just players – were smoking marijuana during his 15 years in the league.

‘It was a lot of people who you wouldn’t think (smoked),” said Martin, who played in college at Cincinnati.

Another former player, Matt Barnes, said he wouldn’t dispute those numbers based on his 14 years in the NBA.

When it comes to pot use, Barnes said league officials display a certain level of hypocrisy. He claims there were coaches and general managers who were known to regularly smoke weed who managed to keep a straight face when they suspended or fined players for failed drug tests. He said that’s still an issue.

“Some of the people that are cracking whips and suspending us are smoking weed,” said Barnes.

Not surprisingly, the NFL doesn’t get off the hook in the article. Pot use is estimated to be used at an even higher rate in professional football – maybe as high as 90 percent.

Former NFL defensive lineman Shaun Smith said he used to smoke “two blunts before every game” over the span of his 10 seasons in the league.

“Shoot, coaches do it. Personnel does it, people upstairs do it,” Smith said. “Quarterbacks, guys that are your captains, leaders of the team smoke. Everybody has their reason. They do it for their pain.”

Philly closure

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who went from backup to Super Bowl MVP when starter Carson Wentz was injured,  has a revised contract that will keep  him in Philadelphia.

At least for now.

NFL Media has reported that the team has agreed to terms with Foles on a 2018 contract that includes an option for the 2019 season. Foles reportedly received a $2 million signing bonus and could earn other lucrative bonuses if he beats out Wentz for the starting job.

Doesn’t add up

Prognosticating 101 states that if one team wins, another has to lose.

That concept was forgotten by ESPN’s team of experts when they got together to predict the records of all 32 NFL teams for the 2018-19 season. They managed to come up with 289 wins and 223 losses. There should have been 256 wins and 256 losses.

None of the ESPN experts are apparently ready to declare any of the league’s teams horribly bad.

(Pause here for a flashback to the 0-16 Cleveland Browns.)

Last year 11 teams finished with six or fewer wins. But this year the World Wide Leader’s brainiacs believe 26 teams will finish no worse than .500 with 19 clubs posting at least nine wins.

You can’t even do that in Fantasy Football.