High Five: Serena Is Thirty-One-derful, Puppies, and Robert! Griffin! The Third! Returns!

From quarterback brilliance to tennis upsets to the Ottoman Turks, what a week it’s been for sports. Here are five of the biggest stories for the office, the other half, and the offspring…

1) The first week of the NFL season did not disappoint–well, unless you’re a Baltimore fan. Here are a few highlights based on headlines you might have heard in recent months:

–The reigning champion Ravens fell, hard, 49-27 Thursday night to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning (seven touchdowns!) and pint-sized powerhouse (and super-adorable) receiver Wes Welker, formerly a Patriots legend.

–The New York Jets defeated Tampa 18-17—not particularly noteworthy except it gives rookie quarterback Geno Smith a 1-0 start after two years of daily discussion over starter Mark Sanchez, who injured his shoulder in a pre-season game. Sanchez versus backup Tim Tebow (traded to New England, now released and seeking a new team); Sanchez and the “butt fumble.” We’ll see what happens when he returns.

Colin Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Green Bay, whose Aaron Rodgers is pretty much agreed to be the NFL’s best quarterback. But the better story was Anquan Boldin—traded in March to the 49ers from their Super Bowl opponent, Baltimore. Boldin finished with 208 yards receiving and a 10-yard touchdown.

On behalf of pit bull puppies everywhere, you know who we're pullin' for tonight!

“On behalf of pit bull puppies everywhere, you know who we’re pullin’ for tonight!” (Rudy and Roxy, Humane Society foster pup-leaders) 

–Sunday night’s Cowboys-Giants matchup saw New York’s Eli Manning (brother of Peyton) throw Victor Cruz (the one who “salsas” after each score) three TD passes—yet the Giants fell 36-31 after six turnovers.

But the BEST is yet to come tonight (and yes as a DC resident, I am a tad biased)…

2) That rumbling sound you’re hearing is thousands of Washington Redskins fans geeking out to finally finally watch our quarterback Robert! Griffin! The Third! return tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles, new coach Chip Kelly, and QB Michael Vick (of the pitbull-fighting-ring infamy) in the first game of Monday Night Football.

Griffin was named 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year despite a soul-crushing knee injury in the Skins’ first-round playoffs loss to Seattle. Now after daily media debates, blame-gaming (who decides if a hurt player can play—the athlete, the coach, or the doctor?), surgeries, speculation, and, oh, his July wedding to his college sweetheart Rebecca Liddicoat, RGIII is set to be the Washington starter–and hopefully stay there, but fans and detractors alike wonder if his brashness will re-injure him.

Tonight’s second game features the Houston Texans and AFC Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt (see him “SHUT YOU DOWN!” in a Yahoo! commercial below) versus the San Diego Chargers, who will be without rookie linebacker Manti Te’o of the Facebook-fake-girlfriend scandal. T’eo is out with a sprained foot.

3) Serena Williams, 31, won her 17th Grand Slam title Sunday, defeating Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 to defend her US Open title. The win puts her only one Grand Slam title behind Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert all-time. And she’s done it after two retirements and a near-fatal blood clot. She has now played in 21 Grand Slam finals, winning all but four.

"First Istanbul, now Constantinople, then it's Istanbul..." No wonder they lost.

“First Istanbul, now Constantinople, then it’s Istanbul…” No wonder they lost.

4) As for the men’s U.S. Open final, world #1 Novak Djokovic will play in his fourth straight final tonight at 5 p.m. ET against beloved hottie Rafael Nadal of Spain. It will be the third time the two have met in the final in four years. “Rafa” sat out last year with a hurt knee. Scotland’s Andy Murray won in 2012—and famously Britain’s first Wimbledon title in over 70 years this year—but was eliminated in earlier play.

5) Tokyo beat out Istanbul and Madrid Saturday in a vote for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, despite worries over radioactive water leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe personally promised Tokyo’s safety. Personally, I loved my Turkey visit and would have loved to see Istanbul win—a modern, Muslim city (well, today – Turkey has been occupied by so many cultures, its Hagia Sophia cathedral bears markings of Ottomans, Christians, and even Vikings) with fantastic transit and welcoming citizens. Not to mention the Grand Bazaar’s six centuries of shopping—clothing, spices, art, and…even leeches. Oh well, maybe 2024.

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