A – Awkward Around the Horn. “And now let’s get awkward,” that is how “Around the Horn” host Tony Reali introduced the segment on Monday when the panelists on ESPN discussed their colleague Jay Mariotti, who was accused of domestic assault last weekend. The discussion focused on the reaction in the media to the allegations against Mariotti and it was awkward indeed but good television nonetheless as the panelists did not pull any punches in discussing their friend.
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B – Bears. According to Forbes, the Chicago Bears are the most neglected brand in football. With the second-largest television market at their disposal and being one of only two original NFL teams, the Bears are only the ninth most valuable franchise ranking behind many small-market teams. Their performance in the market has resembled their dismal performance on the field.
C –Cowlishaw, Tim. The Dallas Morning News columnist put the Cow in his last name when he tried to beat everyone else to the scoop by tweeting that, “Revis and Jets announce new deal, probably Wednesday. You heard it here first. Inside information!” It was inside alright, apparently no one heard this news but Cowlishaw. Revis remains in a contract holdout.
D – Danica Patrick. To the delight of many auto racing fans, the Danica Patrick experiment is failing miserably. Trying to split her team and time between IndyCar and Nationwide has backfired as the 28-year-old Patrick is struggling in both. Still, she insists she will attempt to try both series again next year.
E- ESPN. With ESPN joining an ongoing fray with BYU and three conferences -- the WAC, the WCC and the MWC -- we have collegiate alphabet soup at its best. Just when you thought all the college football conference alignment news had passed and we could start talking about football, BYU finds itself stuck between the WAC, the non-football WCC and the MWC. ESPN is the reason BYU is trying to become an independent in football and compete in either the WCC or WAC in other sports. That would only work if BYU can negotiate a football deal with ESPN, who is trying to lure BYU away from their current conference, the Mountain West Conference, and sign an exclusive deal with the Cougars kind of like Notre Dame. The conference fired back by adding two WAC members, Nevada and Fresno State to the MWC. Stay tuned.
F – Favre, Brett. This is about the time when the veteran quarterback is second-guessing his decision to return for another NFL season. After Saturday’s preseason game against Seattle Favre had to receive an injection of lubricant in his surgically repaired left ankle that almost kept him in retirement. This sounds more like a fix for an antique carburetor, but considering Favre’s age he might as well be one.
G – Glenn Beck. The political commentator is seemingly everywhere these days after his recent “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C. attracted hundreds of thousands of people and attention from around the world. Beck makes the A-Z countdown thanks to a controversial appearance by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and slugger Albert Pujols. Perhaps the manager and slugger were hoping to restore their team’s spot atop the NL Central. Through Monday the Cardinals are six games back of the Cincinnati Reds.
H – Hayden Panettiere. The young actress turned 21 last week and celebrated with her “Scream 4” castmates near the campus of the University of Michigan. Noticeably absent from the party was her boyfriend, Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion. He is currently training for an upcoming fight against Samuel Peter in Germany. His appearance would have created a great photo-op of the 6-foot-6, 34-year old Ukrainian with the petite 21-year old Hollywood blonde.
I – Ingram, Mark. The curse of the Heisman Trophy? A year after Sam Bradford won the 2008 Heisman Trophy and watched most of the 2009 season from the sideline with his arm in a sling, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram left practice on Sunday with a knee injury. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI and Alabama coach Nick Saban has already ruled him out of the opener against San Jose State. All this on top of the news that 2005 Heisman winner Reggie Bush may be forced to part ways with his award.
J – Jimena Navarrete. The oddsmakers are dead on even when it comes to the Miss Universe pageant. Miss Mexico, Jimena Navarrete, was crowned Miss Universe last week in Las Vegas. The 22-year old was listed as the favorite on most sportsbooks, including BetUS, where she was a co-favorite with Miss Russia at +700. Navarrete finished ahead of runner-up Miss Jamaica and second runner-up Miss Australia.
K – K. Jered Weaver surpassed 200 strikeouts this past week, the first MLB pitcher to do so. He is only 11-10 with a respectable 3.12 ERA, but Weaver has managed to lead the majors in strikeouts even though he has pitched less innings (182) than most of the elite pitchers.
L – Locker, Jake. The Washington Huskies gunslinger is favored to lead college football in passing yards this season. BetUS has Jake the Snake listed at +400 to lead the country in passing yards, just ahead of quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Kevin Riley who are all listed at +500.
M – Michael and Miss California. Olympic legend Michael Phelps was spotted with current girlfriend Miss California Nicole Johnson hanging out by a pool (where else) in Maui this past week. The relationship has been on-again/off-again, but it clearly appears to be on again.
N – Nadal, Rafael. Not only is Nadal Lil Wayne’s prediction to win the U.S. Open (see W), but Nadal is one of the favorites once again to win the major. Rival Roger Federer is listed at 11/5 on Bodog with Nadal close behind at 3/1 and Andy Murray listed at 7/2.
O – Opening Night. Christmas for college football fans is approaching this Thursday night when a primetime lineup of games takes us from South Carolina, where the two-touchdown favorite Gamecocks host Southern Miss at 7:30 p.m. ET, to Pitt at Utah (-2.5) at 8:30 p.m. and USC (-21.5) at Hawaii capping the night at 11 p.m.
P – Packers Picks. Under Brett Favre the Packers were known as the team throwing the most interceptions. Now on BetUS, the oddsmakers have the Packers, along with the New York Jets, listed as the teams mostly likely to intercept other teams. Both the Green Bay and New York defenses have a total set of 20 for total interceptions this regular season. On the other end of the spectrum is the Detroit Lions defense that has an ‘over/under’ of 12 interceptions.
Q – Quentin Richardson. The NBA star’s brother, Lee Richardson Jr. was murdered in 2005 and two weeks ago a Chicago judge ordered his killer to serve 180 years for the murder. Quentin Richardson will now attempt to refocus on the upcoming basketball season. In July the 30-year old swingman signed with the Orlando Magic.
R – Romo’s Romance. The latest in the line of Tony Romo’s girlfriends is Candice Crawford, the 2009 Miss Missouri. Crawford fits the bill of many past flings for the Cowboys’ quarterback in that she is blonde and she can’t add. In a recent interview with radio station KTCK in Dallas, Crawford deduced that 23 minus 17 equals 5.
S – Stephen Strasburg. It was only a matter of time, but nobody expected the news to come this soon. The Washington Nationals most prized possession is headed for the dreaded Tommy John surgery. A combination of overwork in college and an unusual delivery spelled doom for the 2009 top overall draft pick.
T –Troy Polamalu. The Steelers safety does not have to worry about anything happening to his precious locks of hair. The Head and Shoulders shampoo brand recently insured his hair for $1 million. Polamalu is a spokesperson for the shampoo and they are protecting their investment.
U – UFL. The fledgling football league added another name people actually recognize when the Omaha Nighthawks signed former Ohio State and Denver Broncos running back, 26-year old Maurice Clarett to its roster. Clarett joins Jeff Garcia as the two most marketable players on the team.
V –Vachon, Luna. The former professional wrestling valet was found dead in her mother’s Florida home this past week with crushed Oxycodone and a straw near her body. She is just one in a long line of former professional wrestlers to pass away too young. Other recent wrestling deaths include, Umaga, 36 (heart attack); Test, 33 (heart failure); Brian Adams, 44 (overdose); Chris Benoit, 40 (suicide); Owen Hart, 33 (fell from rafters at pay-per-view event); Yokozuna, 34 (heart attack); Eddie Guerrero, 38 (enlarged heart from drug abuse); Rick Rude, 41 (heart attack); Miss Elizabeth, 42 (overdose); Big Boss Man, 42 (heart attack); Earthquake, 42 (bladder cancer); Dino Bravo, 44 (murdered); Mr. Perfect, 44 (cocaine intoxication); Bam Bam Bigelow, 45 (overdose); Andre the Giant, 46 (heart attack); Sensational Sherri, 49, (death under investigation).
W – Wayne. Sports Illustrated’s latest tennis analyst is locked up behind bars. Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. aka Lil Wayne, responded to SI from his jail cell when asked for his thoughts on the upcoming U.S. Open. Wayne, serving an eight-month prison term on Rikers Island stemming from a weapons charge back in 2007, predicted Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters to win the tournament.
X – Xavier Henry. The Memphis Grizzlies and their 12th overall pick in this summer’s draft continue to grow further apart. After not being able to come to a deal with Henry, the Grizzlies are starting to receive trade offers. The two sides are at a stalemate over compensation but the Grizzlies deny trying to shop their first round pick. Memphis is clearly to blame here as they are trying to tie 20-percent of the contract to performance-based bonuses, which no rookie has agreed to since 1995.
Y –Young, Vince. Could one of the greatest collegiate football careers add another distinction? If it is up to Texas coach Mack Brown it will. With Reggie Bush possibly being forced to vacate his 2005 Heisman Trophy, Mack and many others think the next logical step is to award the trophy to the runner-up in voting, Young. Of course, many will say Young deserved the award regardless after outclassing the Trojans that season in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship.
Z – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker is on the move again as Barcelona tries to rid itself of the damaging gigantic contract it signed Ibrahimovic to last year. Barcelona ships him off to AC Milan where he will compete head on with his former team, Inter Milan, in Italy’s Serie A.