A – Al Michaels. In a previous life the NBC commentator must have been a degenerate gambler. Always mindful of the point spread and willing to discuss it on the air, Michaels apparently even follows preseason football point spreads. His reaction along with color commentator Chris Collinsworth was almost as stunning as the shocking ending in the San Francisco/Minnesota preseason game Sunday night. With San Francisco up 13-10 and favored by 3.5, Vikings quarterback Joe Webb (who?!) was sacked for an eight-yard loss somehow. The sack resulted in a safety on the very final play of the game to give Minnesota bettors one of the worst beats of their lifetime. This was the following exchange between Michaels and Collinsworth:
Al: That will create a safety and end the game, hahaha, you know who I am laughing, don’t you?
Al: Of course you do.
Chris: There are some people happy and some not so happy.
Al: And there are some going I can’t believe what just happened…
Chris: …to me or for me.
B – Blount, LeGarrette. Blount force trauma was at it again. The Oregon Duck who famously sucker punched a helmetless Boise State player after a loss last season has brought his amateur boxing career to the NFL with him. He punched a helmet-wearing Eric Bakhtiari at Tennessee Titans training camp earlier this week and reports surfaced recently that while in college Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti was on the business end of one of Blount’s right jabs.
C – Chris Johnson. Fantasy football participants have gathered around the country and conducted their drafts and with about half of the drafts completed, a consensus has been reached and Adrian Peterson is no longer the average No. 1 pick. That honor goes to Chris Johnson, who was drafted on average at position 1.6. Peterson was second with an average drafting position of 2.4. He should not feel bad, though, as other former top picks have fallen even further including LaDainian Tomlinson (No. 90) and Larry Johnson (No. 170).
E – ESPN Romance. Kenny Chesney, the unofficial country singer of choice for ESPN, is now fist deep in the Bristol, Conn. all-sports television network. Chesney has been a guest on numerous ESPN productions including “College GameDay” and the “ESPYs” and he even launched his song “Boys of Fall” on Sportscenter last month. Now he has began to date ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown, who also happens to be the official spokesperson for Icehouse Beer. I believe that is called Synergy. This is a relationship made in ESPN heaven.
F – Favre, Brett. All summer long we heard that the veteran quarterback had not made up his mind about a potential return to the NFL and we heard how it was not about the money. Well it was about the money and Favre knew all along he was returning it just conveniently happened as his team broke camp and with another $7 million potentially thrown his way. Scheduled to make $13 million this coming season, Favre recently acknowledged that the Vikings sweetened the pot to get him to return for a 20th NFL season. His salary is now reportedly $16 million with another $4 million in incentives. One of the incentives is rumored to be $2 million for not ending the season with an interception.
G – Gillies, Tyson. Because he is a minor league baseball star, this following arrest was discussed on most sporting shows. If he were not an athlete this would be on “World’s Dumbest Criminals”. Early Friday morning, a cop spotted Gillies walking down a road waving a white shirt looking for a ride home. The pitcher, who was acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, somehow did not have enough money for a cab so the cop drove him to his hotel. Upon exiting the police cruiser, the officer noticed a bag of cocaine on the floor of the backseat. Of all the places to leave your blow, a cop’s backseat is probably not near the top.
H – Horned Frogs. The up-and-coming football program is taking another big step with a $105 million renovation to Amon G. Carter Stadium where the Horned Frogs play football. The renovation will be as drastic as it is necessary. The antiquated stadium has not undergone significant renovations since 1956. The work on the stadium begins after the home schedule this season and will be ready for the 2012 football season although TCU will be able to use the stadium in 2011 as construction is ongoing.
I – Iowa. For whatever reason, the University of Iowa has picked this fall as a time to begin enforcing long established rules against open alcohol containers and public urination. The University promises to crack down on it, but the police are actually concerned now. No longer can they turn a blind eye to someone relieving themselves in public. This will keep cops busy and they are worried that instead of Kinnick Stadium overflowing, the county jail will overflow.
J – Jay Mariotti. The former newspaper columnist in Chicago is taking this whole celebrity thing to heart. Now an ESPN personality living in Los Angeles, Mariotti was arrested on a felony domestic abuse charge against his girlfriend Friday night. The couple was seen having a heated argument at a club in Santa Monica after Mariotti alleged that his girlfriend was flirting with another man. The argument continued in Mariotti’s apartment where things turned physical. Mariotti allegedly pushed, shoved and grabbed his girlfriend and when police arrived she had noticeable cuts and bruises. Mariotti was released on $50,000 bail and nobody at ESPN is commenting. Discussing Jason Kidd’s issues with domestic abuse in a column in 2002, Mariotti wrote: “A domestic abuser is not a hero in any arena.”
K – Kelly Hall. The University of Georgia cheerleader may have established herself as the coolest NFL girlfriend when recent photos of her surfaced dominating a keg stand on a party boat. Hall was joined by other bikini clad cheerleaders and boyfriend Matthew Stanford, who was donning a “Get Tanked” shirt.
L – Lou Piniella. The Cubs manager had announced his retirement after the season a month ago, but the skipper’s hand was forced on Sunday with his ailing mother not doing so well in a hospital. In a summer of what can go wrong has gone wrong, Piniella had to move his retirement up five weeks and his team sent him off with an embarrassing 16-5 loss.
M – Maurice Clarett. The rollercoaster life of the former Ohio State Buckeye may make its next stop in the UFL. With a criminal past, Clarett not only has to make the team in tryouts but first he must be granted permission to leave the state of Ohio to tryout with the Omaha Nighthawks. He cannot leave the state without clearance from the courts based on his 2006 arrest for aggravated robbery and assault that landed him in a Toledo prison for 3 ½ years. See “S” for more information.
N –Nordegren, Elin. What started with an SUV crashing into a fire hydrant and a tree on the night of Nov. 27 officially ended on Monday when Tiger Woods and the Swedish-born Nordegren finalized their divorce. The divorce was granted in Spring Break hot spot Panama City, Florida, although no reason was given for the choice of location.
O – Ozzie Guillen. You can take Guillen’s name off the list of potential managers to replace Lou Piniella on the north side of town. He was probably on no one’s list in the first place, but this week Guillen made it known that he had it much easier managing the White Sox and he said it as he says most things, in the worst possible way. Guillen said, “I think it’s easy to manage this side because they don’t expect us to win.”
P – Profitable Pirates. In the standings they are clear losers, but in financial terms the Pittsburgh Pirates are winners. The Bucs have been raking in the bucks. Reports indicated that the Pirates, who are mired in a stretch of 18 consecutive losing seasons, made $29.4 million while losing 189 games in 2007 and 2008. The opening of the financial books in Pittsburgh also shows that the team is making more than $5 million this year while on a crash course with 100 losses. While the fans suffer the owners are lining their pockets with money in a way that would make even the most cutthroat Pirate envious.
Q – Quinn, Brady. I think we all know how this movie ends. Quinn, now with the Denver Broncos, looked lost and confused in his preseason debut. After being traded from Cleveland in the offseason, Brady was supposed to challenge Kyle Orton for the starting job, but now it looks like Brady is helping Tim Tebow’s pro career as Tebow may actually overtake Quinn for the backup role. In a new offense Quinn had trouble reading the defense, threw a pick-six and most scary of all, had Denver fans grateful to have Orton on the roster.
R – Ryan Mallett. The 6-foot-7 quarterback went from a backup at Michigan to a Heisman candidate at Arkansas. Fleeing Richard Rodriguez’s offense at Michigan, Mallett is thriving under Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. He is listed at 9/1 on Bodog to win the Heisman. Only Terrelle Pryor (4/1) and defending Heisman winner Mark Ingram (5/1) have better odds.
S – Sundquist, Ted. File this one under “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” category. As general manager with the Denver Broncos, Sundquist drafted Clarett to the surprise of everyone in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Clarett was cut before the season started. Now as director of player personnel with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL Sundquist is trying to lure Clarett over to his new team. Considering the drafting of Clarett is one of the main reasons Sundquist is working in the UFL and not the NFL, one would think he has learned from his mistakes. Guess not.
T – Tyler Thomas Tased. Thomas, an Oregon State offensive lineman, just etched his name in the collegiate football police blotter hall of fame. In an incident too unbelievable to be made up, Thomas found a way to have the following words appear on one citation: nude, three-point-stance, tased. In case you can’t put the three together and figure out what happened, here is a brief rundown of Thomas’s Sunday morning. At 4:51 a.m. a 32-year old women phoned the Corvallis Police Department to report a naked man in the upstairs office of her residence. When the cops showed up on the scene they ordered Thomas to get on the ground but he refused. Then the offensive lineman, who reportedly had been drinking excessively, got into a “three-point-stance” and lunged at the officers who promptly tased him. Thomas has been kicked off the team. Leave it to a Beaver.
U – UFC 118. A dual main event headlines UFC 118 Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. Randy Couture is a heavy favorite at -575 in his bout against James Toney (+350). The other feature bout is B.J. Penn (-325) vs. Frankie Edgar (+250).
V – Vincent Jackson. The biggest fantasy draft blunder this year has been the drafting of San Diego Chargers fantasy stud Vincent Jackson. He is only a fantasy producer when he is not suspended and he will likely be suspended six games this season and he will only play if San Diego can work out a trade with another team. In other words try to not make the same mistake fantasy owners across the country have made by drafting Jackson. This is not as bad as past fantasy draft blunders like drafting an imprisoned Rae Carruth, a retired Shannon Sharpe or a deceased Steve McNair.
W – Walker, Javon. The two most hated people in Minnesota in 2004 are now the two newest additions to the Minnesota Vikings preseason roster. Favre made his extremely predicable late arrival to the Vikings this past week and now sources report that he will be reunited with his former Green Bay teammate, Walker. Favre and Walker had their best year together in 2004 when both made the Pro Bowl.
X – Xavier Nady. The latest Cub to be put on the trading block is the veteran journeyman outfielder. Nady has been traded three times in less than three years and a recent hot streak has players inquiring about him. Nady is one of only 18 players in major league history to go directly to the major leagues without playing in the minors since 1965. The Cubs have already traded Derek Lee, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Ted Lilly in the past few weeks.
Y- Yellow Jackets. In a case of college football voters and oddsmakers not agreeing, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets checked in at No. 16 in the AP and No. 17 in the coaches’ preseason poll. However, Paul Johnson’s team only has the seventh-best odds to win its own conference. Favorites Miami at 5/2 and Virginia Tech at 3/1 are the only teams ranked ahead of Georgia Tech (10/1) in the polls. Unranked Clemson has the same odds as Georgia Tech and unranked Boston College at 8/1 actually has better odds than Georgia Tech.
Z- Zorn, Jim. The Ravens have established a tradition of drenching assistant coaches with Gatorade who have failed miserably as head coaches. Zorn, who was fired after two dismal years in Washington, was the latest victim of a Gatorade shower near the end of a preseason game this week. Last season offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, he of 1-15 Miami Dolphins fame, also left a preseason game drenched.