OK, it’s not, but wow it feels like it. This week we have the Super Bowl, dating bombshells, reptiles, temper tantrums, murder, Beyonce, bear hugs, flying tomatoes, and more. Read on… (And for a quick review on the philosophy behind this blog, click here.)
The Australian Open concluded this weekend with Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka beating China’s Li Na, and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic defeating Great Britain’s Andy Murray. Djokovic is the first male to win three Aussie titles in a row. The win is great for his “Novak Café” chain, for which Djokovic recently purchased a large part of Serbia’s donkey milk to make, yes, a cherished cheese known as pule. Sorry, McDonald’s.
But the women provided the real drama (yeah, women, drama, ha ha). Serena Williams was predicted to win the Open, but disintegrated (demolishing her racquet Jimi Hendrix-style) against another rising African-American star, Sloane Stephens, 19. Stephens later lost to Azarenka, whose 10-minute injury timeout was jeered as fake. Fair or foul? You decide.
Out of hundreds, here are just a few Super Bowl headlines you should know:
BALTIMORE: Fans mostly cheer linebacker Ray Lewis (#52—he does the big dance before each game). But you’ll also hear “controversy” and, well, “fatal stabbings.” In 2000, Lewis was allegedly involved in an unsolved double homicide during an Atlanta nightclub fight. He was acquitted after a plea agreement, but his role remains a mystery. He is retiring after this season, and victims’ families take comfort in that.*
On a lighter note, watch for offensive tackle Michael Oher (#74, he’s a big boy), of “The Blind Side.” Oher grew up on the harder side of my hometown, Memphis, but was adopted by the Tuohy family, who ensured his education at Briarcrest Christian School (my volleyball nemesis!) and Ole Miss. Sandra Bullock received the Best Actress Oscar for her role as mom Leigh Anne.
SAN FRANCISCO: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (#7) ranks third in the NFL (32 teams) in “quarterback rating” (QBR), a subjective but important measure from 1-100 based on factors like completions, mistakes, and general contributions to a win.
His 76.8 is only behind the two best QBs (who just missed the Super Bowl–Peyton Manning and Tom Brady). Kaepernick took over for injured starter Alex Smith, then set the NFL QB record for most rushing yards (181) in his first playoff game. Maybe it’s from lifting “Sammy,” the tortoise Kaepernick got at age 10—and is now 115 pounds.
Even experts struggle to follow 22 people on the football field. Here are two easy tips:
Who’s Who? When I was a peewee cheerleader, a coach offered this advice after we encouraged the defense to “do it again, first and ten!” Simply, the team huddling farther from the ball is the offense. They make their plan while the defense just has to wait and see. This is especially helpful if you leave the room and need to know who has the ball.
Offside: One frequent football penalty is “offside”—basically, when a player on either team crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. The ref will signal by placing his hands on his hips like a ticked-off teacher. Similar penalties are “encroachment,” “false start,” and “illegal motion.” We won’t get into those nuances, just look for the guy who jumps too soon.
Curves Ahead? Danica Dating
Aside from Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf’s post-tennis marriage, this one may be a sports first. NASCAR driving diva Danica Patrick, 30, has confirmed she is dating JR Motorsports teammate and competitor (NASCAR is schizophrenic that way) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
The news has jump-started (sorry) Danica’s career, which struggled last year, though she was voted “Most Popular Driver.” Her November divorce from Paul Hospenthal is pending; Stenhouse is 25, the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, and adorable.
NASCAR Notes: NASCAR is rooted in the souped-up Prohibition “rum runner” cars moonshiners used to outrun the law…NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing…NASCAR has some 75 million fans, nearly 1/3 of America…The first 2013 race, the Daytona 500, is Feb. 24.
Tiger on the Prowl?
Maybe as big as “RickDan” (not my acronym, and I’m glad) is the rumor of “TigVonn”–golfer Tiger Woods dating champion U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn (back on the slopes and winning after a debilitating bacterial illness). Both deny it, of course, but word is they have been together since November. Both are divorced, Vonn from skier Thomas Vonn and Woods from wife Elin Nordegren after he reportedly cheated on her with more than a dozen women. And she reportedly took a golf club to his SUV more than a dozen times.
Then again, other sources (well, the Enquirer) say the whole Vonn thing is false, to win Elin back. Maybe Tiger should talk to Manti Te’o.
Say Their Name, Say Their Name
SPOILER ALERT!!! We’ve known for some time that Beyonce will perform the Super Bowl halftime show. Now it seems she won’t be alone. After opening with “Crazy in Love,” she is expected to be joined by fellow Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and…the other one.* Those who have stood by Beyonce will be thrilled (as long as there is no lip-syncing); those politicians who stood behind her at inauguration will wish they could again.
OK, every week I hear this one from athletes and commentators–male, female, white, black, purple, rich, poor, and it DRIVES ME BATSH*T CRAZY! And it is: “Was” vs. “Were.” As in, “We was so excited to win!”
Come on people, you know better. Most athletes/commentators attended college, at least for awhile, and Lord knows there is enough controversy over college athletics already, so just try a little. Was is singular past tense, for one person: “I was at the game today.” “DWade was shooting the lights out.” Were is plural past tense. “We were cheering for the Nationals!” (Because who wouldn’t?) “They were sitting in our seats.” OK? OK.
I Love You, Man!
After eighth-grader Owen Groesser’s hoops performance last week despite his Down syndrome, I didn’t think I could be more touched. But then Miami Heat fan Michael Drysch hit a $75,000 half-court shot and was literally tackled by Heat star Lebron James in a massive bear hug. No bodyguards, no agents, just full-on athlete adoration.
And that’s why I write this blog—for the triumphs and trials not just of the players, but of the everyday fan, the armchair quarterback, the wild-for-the-Minnesota-Wild wife. It’s not the stats, it’s the stories that weave sports into the American fabric. I hope to continue to show you here day after day.
- 6-8 Baylor women’s basketball center Britney Griner set two records this week, dunks—yes, dunks (11) and career blocks (665).
- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o admitted to Katie Couric that he knew Facebook girlfriend Lennay Kekua didn’t exist, but continued the ruse to protect his reputation and family.
- Extreme sports megastar Shaun “The Flying Tomato” White struggled in the Winter X Games, placing fifth in the highly hyped Snowboard Slopestyle battle with Canadian rival Mark McMorris, who won. But White finished on top with a “six-peat” gold in the Snowboard Superpipe.
- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL.
- A number of top men’s hoops teams fell this week, including Louisville, Syracuse, and Duke in a staggering surprise loss to Miami, 90-63.
- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has been reinstated after the “bounty” scandal in which coaches and players were implicated for accepting money in exchange for intentionally injuring opposing players.
Coming soon this week: Someone’s in the kitchen with Super Bowl recipes…(not me, thank goodness!)
*Washington Post, Jan. 24, Ray Lewis’ Ties to Atlanta Murders Now a Footnote, But One Victim’s Family Still Struggles to Cope
*93.9 WKYS Washington, DC