From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping the Braves can give me reason to jump on the baseball bandwagon this postseason:

Knockout punch?

HBO’s decision to eliminate live boxing coverage from its sports programming was another body blow to the sport.

Based on its stockpile of Emmy’s for original programming, the network no longer needs sports programming to increase its viewership numbers. But that doesn’t mean it’s abandoning sports, altogether.

HBO just plans to concentrate on doing more feature coverage of athletes, like its recent series on Serena Williams returning to tennis after having a baby, its documentary on Muhammad Ali, LeBron James’ “The Shop” and the NFL reality series “Hard Knocks.”

The final boxing card for HBO will be on Oct. 27, featuring former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs and Russia’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.

HBO first tested the boxing waters with its coverage of the 1973 heavyweight championship fight between George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

Peter Nelson, a vice president for HBO sports, didn’t rule out the network bidding on a future fight if it generates significant interest among average sports fans, but he said lower than expected ratings for boxing figured into the decision.

“We have a tremendous heritage to point to in regard to the road map we provided on how to humanize these fighters and their communities … that aspect of storytelling is one we look to continue,” said Nelson.

Former HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant had this take on the decision, comparing HBO to a fighter who hung on too long: “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ.”

What’s shaking?

Last week’s college football drama in the Palmetto State centered on the quarterback position at Clemson.

That focus is now in play at South Carolina.

Gamecock starter Jake Bentley sprained a knee late in last week’s game at Kentucky. But it was also his poorest effort in three seasons. He finished with three interceptions and only had nine yards passing in the first half against the Wildcats, who opened up a 24-3 lead at the break.

If Bentley can’t play this week against Missouri, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is prepared to start fifth-year senior Michael Scarnecchia. Muschamp is going to take his time making that decision with the noon start on Saturday his only deadline.

But frankly, what do the Gamecocks have to lose by making a change. Even if it is only temporary, it might be enough to shake things up. Maybe even light a competitive fire in Bentley.

Meanwhile, at Clemson, Dabo Swinney is still facing season-long concerns after  senior Kelly Bryant decided to transfer prior to last week’s game against Syracuse.

Bryant made his decision after Swinney announced that freshman Trevor Lawrence would get the start against Syracuse. Based on Lawence’s ability to get the Tigers into the end zone with his passing accuracy, it was the right decision.

But it was enough to upset Bryant, and he quickly took advantage of the NCAA’s new transfer rule to preserve his senior season. He’ll be able to transfer with no penalty while using this season to sit out, even if he has played in four games.

But that decision could have proven costly to the Tigers, who had to rally in the final minutes to avoid losing to Syracuse for the second consecutive season.

When Lawrence suffered a concussion, there were Clemson fans hoping Bryant was at the stadium and would come running out of the locker room any minute to save the day. Didn’t happen.

What did happen was the emergence of redshirt freshman Chase Brice as a legitimate backup to Lawrence. Maybe even a fill-in starter in combo with tailback  Travis Etienne, who rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in the 27-23 win.

Brice, meanwhile, completed 7 of 13 passes for 83 yards and scrambled for 17 yards on the winning 94-yard drive.

Brice said one of the first people to congratulate him after he left the stadium was Bryant, who wasn’t second-guessing his decision to transfer.

“Yeah, he sent me a text congratulating me and all that,” said Brice. “I saw him after the game and he was happy for me and he gave me a hug … I’m happy for him that he’s gonna be happy. Hope he finds the right spot.”

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Last night I was watching the local news and it was one depressing story after another. And that was just the sportscast.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Richard Sherman says that new NFL rules make quarterbacks ‘unstoppable.’ Jets fans are thinking, can somebody tell Sam Darnold?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Hear about the minor-league pitcher who split his pants in a couple of places while throwing a 100-mph strike? I’m guessing it was a two-seam fastball.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Fans of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, MLB’s  San Diego Padres and NFL’s Cleveland Cavaliers came in 1-2-3 in ESPN’s Fan Misery Index Ratings, based on championships, playoff appearance/wins, heartbreaks and rival teams’ success. Mariners fans – merely 17th – have never been so happy to finish out of contention.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com:  “A report says soccer organization FIFA spent $11.7 Million on private jets and sightseeing trips for top officials. What were they doing, auditioning for a position in Donald Trump’s Cabinet?”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again:  “Bill Murray was at the Nebraska football game. Based on the 8 straight losses I believe he was doing research for “Groundhog Day II.” (III?).”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Nick Saban is upset that Alabama student section was only half full for last weekend’s game, a 56-14 win over over Louisiana-Lafayette. Uh, here’s a suggestion, schedule a real opponent that would give the game more drama than Lions vs. Christians.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “This just in: the Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch set for December may be in jeopardy. One of them has tested positive for Poligrip.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “It’s 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and the referees just called another penalty on Nebraska.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Meanwhile, University of Georgia dismissed star 1st baseman Adam Sasser from the baseball team for allegedly shooting racist slurs at Georgia QB Justin Fields during last week’s game. Kudos to the Bulldogs for doing the right thing. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that for Georgia fans, football rules!”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Richard Mietz of Germany broke a Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a guy dressed as a landmark. It was a monumental achievement.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “If you’re big on stats Kade Warner is the all-time Husker leader in receptions among sons of guys who used to work at grocery stores in Cedar Falls.”

Greg Cote of The Miami Herald on the Browns winning for the first time in 635 days: “And now, a few words from Cleveland Mayor Baker Mayfield.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again,  on the 106,000 packing Michigan Stadium for the Nebraska game: “It looks like the last time I went to the DMV on a Saturday.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith will reimburse a fan after throwing their cellphone. Not only that, he threw it so far he has to cover the roaming charges.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Purdue could’ve been called for having 14 men on the field including the officials.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again:  “A report says golf fans like the one at the Ryder Cup who was injured by a Brooks Koepka tee shot probably have no legal recourse. Although hopefully she can pay for a few medical bills by selling the autographed golf glove Koepka gave her on eBay.”

Nice catch, Mom

As reported by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

Julie List, 78, found quite the $1.49 bargain at a thrift store in Jupiter, Fla. When she discovered her son Christopher’s Little League glove with his name still written on it. He’d lost it 40 years earlier in Willoughby, Ohio – 1,000 miles away – amid the postgame celebration after hitting two home runs in the season-ending game. “He was thrilled, he was jumping up and down,” she told the New York Times. “He just said, ‘Mom, bring it home.’ He plans to pass it on to a grandson someday.”

Rough outing

After whiffing during last week’s Ryder Cup, Phil Mickelson has decided that he no longer has any interest in playing on golf courses that have “brutal rough.”

The American golfer failed to win a match for the United States, which was defeated 17.5 to 10.5 by the European team.

Mickelson also had to bear the additional embarrasment of being selected for only two matches at Le Golf National in Paris. He lost his only singles match to British Open champion Francesco Molinari and also was defeated in a foursome match in which he was paired with Bryson DeChambeau.

Mickelson, 48, said his game isn’t suited for courses with narrow fairways and deep rough.

“I’m not going to play tournament golf with rough like that anymore. It’s a waste of my time,” Mickelson said. “I’m going to play courses that are playable, and I can play aggressive, attacking, make lots of birdies.”

 Juvenile behavior

TheOnion.com: “Let’s avoid the Brett Favre comparisons until Patrick Mahomes can consistently send dick pics to reporters.”

Fark.com: “Iowa bar offers to unlock fridge full of beer for Nebraska fans when the Huskers get their first win of the season.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL player rewarded for butt wiping celebration with an endorsement contract. Other players excited by the news that Tri-State Colonoscopy is still searching for a spokesman.

SportsPickle.com: “If you are a fan of dorky celebrations, there is no better entertainment than Ryder Cup golf.”

Safety first

South Carolina football fans could find themselves being scanned by metal detectors at Williams-Brice Stadium for Saturday’s football game against Missouri.

Although the metal detectors won’t be at every gate this weekend, Gamecock fans better get used to it. The school prides itself on being a leader in security procedures.

When the SEC mandated two years ago that it would have a clear bag policy in place for this season, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner made that a policy at USC facilities last season.

So  now the SEC’s Working Group on Event Security has mandated that metal detectors will be used at the conference’s football stadiums by the 2020 season. USC, which is making a test run this weekend, plans to have the devices at all gates by next season.

Tanner said that the school will welcome any additional security measures that make the game day experience safer for fans.

The school has already been recognized for its security procedures at Williams-Brice. The stadium is only one of three college facilities to receive the Facility of Merit for Safety and Security Award from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.

Seriously, that’s a real thing.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Polite high school football team runs around banner that took hours to make.”

Sportspickle.com: “Kliff Kingsbury should probably be fired for never winning more than 7 games with Patrick Mahomes.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “A whole lot of media thought Grant Wahl’s Twitter joke about U.S. Soccer waiting for Jose Mourinho was a serious report.”

TheOnion.com: “Should the Houston Texans change their crude, offensive nickname?”

Sportspickle.com: “Credit to the Falcons for playing every game like it’s the Super Bowl.”

TheOnion.com: “High school kicker finds it helpful to imagine football as object that needs to be kicked through goal posts in order to gain points.”

SportsPickle.com: “It costs too much to play sports nowadays. The Detroit Lions’ parents couldn’t even afford to buy them real uniforms.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Paul Finebaum’s pick to win Oklahoma State-Boise State: the Oklahoma Sooners.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Europe won Ryder Cup 17.5 to 10.5, giving them 9 of last 12 showdowns. You’d think we’d be better than this since golf is so important to our president.
  • Guess Tiger Woods’ comeback is on hold after 0-4 performance in Ryder Cup. But he wasn’t alone in playing disappointing golf for USA. Only Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson had winning records, going combined 11-5.
  • Gamecocks threaten to pull within one score but end 20-play drive with goal-line interception that costs them a scoreboard opportunity. That’s not easy to do, but then, that’s not something you want to do.
  • South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, often touted as one of best QBs in SEC, completed 3 of 11 passes in first half vs. Kentucky for 9 yards. I could be wrong but I don’t even think that’s considered elite in Pop Warner.
  • Uhh oh, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is shaken up. Is it too late for incumbent QB Kelly Bryant to change his mind about transferring?
  • Clemson needs most of first quarter to take 7-6 lead over Syracuse. If this was Big Ten, not ACC, this would be a trophy game. The Orange JULIUS Bowl? Hey, Dairy Queen now owns the frothy drink and a DQ is always right down the road.

From Sidelines to punchlines

Clearing my mind and notebook while still not caring who wins the much hyped fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather.

Friday Night Light

The opening night of high school football on Friday was a non-event for me for the first time in four decades. I didn’t mind taking it easy.

I’m calling it Friday Night Light.

As many of you know, I’m now retired from newspaper journalism, having transitioned into the lifestyle of an inconsistent blogger.

That means my final Friday Night Misery memories are all from last season in Evansville, Indiana.

My routine was to arrive at the office by 1:30 for the start of a 12-hour shift. Never mind that most of the high school football production work for me was done during a hectic 45-minute span leading up to 11 p.m. CT. That’s when four to five staff writers would file their stories in the rush of deadline, which I then edited (some more than others).

Then came the final maddening sprint to complete a roundup of games that hadn’t been staffed. Most nights I had  help with the roundup, but that wasn’t a guarantee.

Finally, if I was lucky, the computer system hadn’t malfunctioned and the design center (located 100-plus miles away in Louisville) had received all the stories and photographs to complete the latest nightly miracle. (Note: before last year the Courier & Press had a local copy desk.)

Regardless, it wasn’t until I had confirmation that the designers and copy editors could do their jobs that I could then move on to step nine: breathe.

Here’s what I won’t miss:

  • Agate clerks calling in sick an hour before the start of their shift.
  • Agate clerks who fail to check that the score by quarters and stats add up correctly.
  • Lightning delays that last longer than a half hour.
  • Writers who were assigned an early game but still missed deadline.
  • Team statisticians who didn’t bother to get an opponent’s roster, so all they have are the jersey numbers of players who scored against them in a 45-8 rout.
  • Coaches who can’t provide additional details on a player of the week candidate because the scorebook is at the office.
  •  Coaches who refuse to help you because they are miffed you didn’t send a writer to their game.
  • Coaches who can’t provide anything but a final score because they compile their stats while breaking down game film on Saturdays.

And then there are the additional headaches caused by the social media revolution  which now requires writers and editors to post to Twitter, ScribbleLive or Facebook. Oh yeah, writers also have to be part-time videographers with their smartphones.

Multi-media journalists have to be able to multi-task, but unfortunately the actual journalism can suffer as a result.

In reminscing about my career as a sports editor, I found myself viewing my time in Anderson, S.C. from 1988 to 1999 as the good ol’ days. All I had to do then was to produce three zoned editions with different stories and photographs on the section fronts and jump pages in a span of an hour.

So yeah, my Friday Nights are now light. I can sit back and watch TV, go to a movie, scream at Nazis on Facebook or play with my dogs. The closest I come to doing anything work related now is writing a blog for your reading pleasure.

Note: for more on how publishing giant Gannett is killing high school football coverage, and sports sections, go to end of this blog,

 

Buckeyes to rule?

The 2017 Beard Composite College Football Poll features six teams from the Southeastern Conference, five teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (plus Notre Dame) and four teams from the Big Ten in the top 25.

But upon further review, the Big Ten wins the preseason pick as the toughest conference based on the fact that all four of its teams are ranked among the top 12 with Ohio State and Penn State both making the Top 5.

Which team will win the national championship? I’m going with a revamped Ohio State, with former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as Urban Meyer’s new offensive coordinator.

I’m foolish enough to predict that they’ll beat Southern Cal in the title game.

But yeah, Nick Saban will probably prove me wrong again.

Beard Consensus Preseason Poll: 1. Alabama. 2. Ohio State; 3. Florida State; 4. Southern Cal; 5. Penn State; 6. Clemson; 7. Washington; 8. Oklahoma; 9. Oklahoma State; 10.  Michigan; 11. Auburn; 12. Wisconsin, 13. LSU; 14. Georgia; 15. Florida; 16. Louisville; 17. Stanford; 18. Texas; 19. Miami; 20. South Florida; 21. Kansas State; 22. Tennessee; 23. Virginia Tech; 24. West Virginia; 25.  Notre Dame.

The Magazine Polls

Alabama is the consensus pick in the main preseason college football magazines.

Lindy’s: 1. Alabama, 2. Southern Cal; 3. Ohio State; 4. Florida State; 5. Oklahoma State; 6. Penn State; 7. Clemson; 8. Washington; 9. Oklahoma; 10. Auburn; 11. Wisconsin; 12. Georgia; 13. Louisville; 14. Michigan; 15.  LSU; 16. Florida; 17. South Florida; 18. Stanford; 19. Miami; 20. TCU; 21. Northwestern; 22. West Virginia; 23. Texas; 24. Boise State; 25. Utah.

Athlon’s: 1. Alabama; 2. Ohio State; 3. Florida State; 4. Washington; 5. Southern Cal; 6. Penn State; 7. Clemson; 8. Oklahoma; 9. Auburn; 10. Michigan; 11. LSU; 12. Wisconsin; 13. Texas; 14. Oklahoma State; 15. Georgia; 16. Florida; 17. Stanford; 18. Louisville; 19. Tennessee; 20. Notre Dame; 21. Oregon; 22. Kansas State; 23. Miami; 24. South Florida; 25. Virginia Tech.

Street & Smith’s: 1. Alabama; 2. Ohio State; 3. Florida State; 4. Southern Cal; 5. Clemson; 6. Oklahoma; 7. Penn State; 8. Washington; 9. Michigan; 10. LSU; 11. Oklahoma State; 12. Wisconsin; 13. Florida; 14. Georgia; 15. Louisville; 16. Auburn; 17. Stanford; 18. Virginia Tech; 19. Miami; 20. Kansas State; 21. Texas; 22. West Virginia; 23. South Florida; 24. Tennessee; 25. Utah.

They said it

R.J. Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Washington Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson has changed teams 11 times in the last nine seasons. Now there’s a pitcher with location issues.”

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on troubled University of Florida receiver Antonio Callaway: “I keep hearing how Callaway is hanging out with the wrong crowd. After a while doesn’t Gator Nation have to come to the conclusion that Callaway is the wrong crowd.”

Brad Dickson of Omaha (Neb.) World Herald: “The Texas Rangers sold minor league pitcher Ernesto Frieri to the Seattle Mariners for $1. The good news is, there may be a Dollar General endorsement in his future.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Wouldn’t it be nice if biggest controversy on social media this summer was about if it’s really stupid to talk about “exit velocity.” in Major League Baseball?”

Steve Spurrier on a Daytona Beach reunion with  his former players at the University of Florida from 1990-2001: “John Wooden once said that if you’re a good enough coach, your players will want to come back and hang out with you someday.”

Joe Biddle of WKRN.com on NFL preseason games: “What you want to see is the projected starters from each team competing against each other. Fans need to look quick. They will be on the field about as long as the lunar eclipse.”

Simply criminal

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but crime does pay. Especially celebrity crimes.

That appears to be all the motivation that Adam Papagan needed to start a cottage industry off the “trial of the century” in which O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Papagan’s latest venture is an O.J. Simpson Museum that will be on display at the Coagula Curatorial Gallery in downtown Los Angeles through Tuesday. The doors opened Friday with an admission price of $4.

The collection contains mostly pop-culture related items like books, apparel and board games that commemorated the trial. Some of the T-shirts that were sold outside the courthouse make up one display.

Papagan’s capitalistic shame doesn’t end on Tuesday. He also plans to still offer an O.J. tour around Brentwood in a white Bronco similar to the one the former football player/actor led police in on a slow highway chase.

While O.J. escaped a criminal conviction in those murders, he did lose a civil lawsuit to the families of Goodman and Brown.

Of course, Nevada granted parole to Simpson last month after he had served minimal time for his 2008 conviction on armed robbery charges. He will be incarcerated at Lovelock (Nevada) Correctional Institute until at least Oct. 1 and plans to move back to Florida.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Girlfriend surprises Rob Grokowski with relaxing couple’s CAT Scan.”

SportsPickle.com: “Divided America agrees that RG3 statue should probably come down.”

Fark.com: “Cristiano Ronaldo suspended five games for using his hands.:

TheOnion.com: “MLB unveils memorial for runners stranded on base.”

SportsPickle.com: “Andrew Luck expected to be out six weeks due to lice.”

Tough life

No one ever said balancing athletics and academics would be easy.

Neither is the debate over whether student-athletes should be paid a living wage.

UCLA quarterback Jeff Rosen is the latest to make the dual workload an issue, telling Bleacher Report that it’s “like trying to do two full-time jobs.”

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plasche pointed out that a 2015 study revealed that the average Pac-12 student-athlete spent 50 hours per week meeting the demands of their sport, which is why more than half of them contended they often didn’t have sufficient time to study.

The NCAA has slowly made revisions of its rules, allowing schools to pay the “full cost of attendance.” That opens the door for athletes at power conference schools to receive stipends of up to $5,000 in addition to tuition, room and board.

But at least you don’t have to feel too sorry for the star athletes who don’t mind bending the rules by willingly accepting $100 handshakes from unscrupulous boosters.

Former University of Texas quarterback Chris Simms told Dan Patrick that for him it usually would happen after he had been asked to sign several jerseys, hats or other memorabilia. For taking the time to sign his name, Simms said he’d be slipped cash.

“For people to think that doesn’t happen, that’s just stupid,” said Simms. “Get over it, it’s not a big deal. It’s happening everywhere. It’s happening at Harvard, it’s happening at Division II schools. It’s going on everywhere.”

Indeed, at the heart of the most serious of the alleged NCAA violations against Mississippi and former football coach Hugh Freeze is a booster accused of giving at least one recruit cash and free food.

Homer parade

Albert Pujols hit his 609th home run on Friday night to give the Los Angeles Angels an early 2-0 lead over Baltimore.

It also tied him for eighth on the all-time list with Sammy Sosa. He and Sosa are also tied for most homers by a foreign player in MLB.

Gannett strikes again

Sadly, as  many of you have discovered, the coverage of high school football is likely no longer included in your Saturday morning newspapers. Evil publishing empire Gannett made sure of that in Evansville and most of its other newspapers by going to 7 p.m. deadlines.

In Evansville, this has been going on since April (just in time for the NCAA Final Four), but this is the first  season its affected the high school football coverage. While you can still read game coverage online late Friday night using your smartphones, tablets or home computers, you’ll have to wait until Sundays to read it in print.

Sorry about your scrapbooks, moms.

And yes, the space high school coverage takes in your Sunday paper is going to reduce any coverage of college football. It’s a lose-lose situation.

We’ve known that day was arriving but it got here much quicker than I anticipated. I had planned on working another two or three years before retiring since I’m only 63. But with the earlier deadlines, who needs a sports editor who can also write award-winning stories and columns, right?

I could have moved on and started life as a sports editor at other newspapers, including one in SEC country, but The Wife and I decided we’d rather make a move for once that isn’t dictated by my career. Within six months, perhaps sooner, we’ll be resettling in Anderson, where our daughter and her family have relocated.

As much as I enjoyed the job and living in Indiana,  I actually consider myself fortunate to no longer be the sports editor in Evansville. Mainly, it means I’m not guilty of being an accomplice to delivering what I believe will be the murderous blow to what was once a solid sports section.

It’s bad enough that readers can’t get scores from professional and college sports on a timely basis in their morning paper. But local high school football coverage not being available until Sundays? That’s a broken promise, at least in my view.

The Gannett bean counters have won. The readers of some 100 newspapers have lost. But I  have my Friday nights back.

From Sidelines to punchlines

 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

TheOnion.com: “Area man installs home pull-up bar to absentmindedly tap while passing through hallway.”

SportsPickle.com: “NFL offers 10% off all merchandise on NFLShop with promo code “CTE.”

Fark.com: “LPGA star deemed too sexy for golf.”

TheKicker.com: “Cavs fans stockpile lighter fluid to prep for LeBron leaving again.”

TheOnion.com; ‘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 SportsDeke.com: “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 LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “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.”