Tag Archive | tom brady

High Five Headlines! The Denver Dumbledores, Aussie Open Closes for 2 Stars, & PUPPY. BOWL. PREDICTIONS!

–1– Unless you are a vampire, or whoever those “Twilight” werewolf dudes in the jean shorts were, you may not be aware the Australian Open is going on because Melbourne is 14 hours ahead of us (or in my Australian travel experience, five glasses of chardonnay and 1 Ambien). It’s the first of tennis’ four yearly Grand Slams (also French, Wimbledon, and U.S.), and although #1 seed Serena Williams stormed through her first two matches—setting an Open record with 61 wins—she fell Sunday to #14 Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic had been #1 herself in 2008 but has not won a Grand Slam event since.

Serena, as it turned out, had been struggling with back pain. She and sister Venus had already withdrawn from doubles play due to a leg injury to Venus. But experts say Serena, at 32, is playing some of the best tennis of her life. At least the sisters can rest now from a record Melbourne heat wave. Also ousted in unlucky Round 4 was #3 Maria Sharapova to #20 Dominika Cibulkova.

"Lily" whose goal is "not to step on own ears."

“Lily,” whose goal in life is simple yet profound: “not to step on own ears.”

–2– “Really CBS? Brady/Manning—it’s not the moon landing.” – My Friend Camilo.

Yeah, you might have heard there were a couple of NFL games yesterday, like the AFC Championship in which Denver’s Peyton Manning and New England’s Tom Brady, interchangeably labeled “best quarterback,” met for perhaps the last time in their wizened careers (Brady is 36; Manning is 37, which pretty much makes you Dumbledore in football). And they did not disappoint in perfect 60-degree Denver weather. Maybe that’s what threw the Patriots off, that weird yellow sphere-thing in the sky instead of Boston snow. Losing cornerback Aqib Talib to a knee injury after a questionable hit from Wes Welker, a former Patriot, didn’t help, because Manning was the victor, throwing 400 yards and two TDs for the 26-16 win. It will mean the first Super Bowl for cornerback Champ Bailey in his 15-year career (another Dumbledore at 35).

The opposite matchup played out in the NFC Championship between Seattle’s Russell Wilson, 25, and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, 26. After a stunning National Anthem from Ann Wilson of Heart—a nod to a Seattle music heritage as rich as its coffee—The 12th Man cheered its Seahawks to a 23-17 win, despite a Wilson fumble on the first play of the game that resulted in a 49ers field goal. But the first play has been long forgotten after the last play, when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman tipped the ball away from receiver Michael Crabtree, in the endzone, sealing the win. What followed became more “Real Housewives” than pro football. Sherman tried to shake Crabtree’s hand, and Crabtree shoved Sherman away by the facemask. Then, while interviewed by Fox’s Erin Anderson, Sherman went off, forcing a confused Anderson to throw back to the announcers when it seemed Sherman might go too far.

“I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get!”

The two men have taken their beef to Twitter now, which will surely keep us all entertained as we take a week off before the Super Bowl Feb. 2.

–3— It’s bad enough I will be traveling for work Super Bowl Sunday (although it is to Vegas), but I know I must be really busy if I missed the announcement of the lineups for PUPPY. BOWL. X. Yes, last week, Animal Planet announced the 40-odd pups who will tackle our hearts on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, three hours before kickoff. Don’t miss Suri the Siberian Husky who “thinks they should cut Miley Cyrus some slack” or Tyga the pit bull, who “knows what the Fox says.” It will also be the first year of the Kitten Bowl, airing on the Hallmark Channel.

–4– Remember hurdler Lolo Jones? Who tripped and fell during the Beijing Olympics 100-meter final, an event she was sure to win? And then finished fourth in the London Games? Now she has another shot at an Olympic medal—as a bobsledder in Sochi. Jones and sprinter Lauryn Williams were named to Team USA Sunday night, two of only a handful of athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Games. Aja Evans was the third choice in the “push” position, rounding out the team with “drivers” Jamie Greubel, Elana Meyers and Jazmine Fenlator.

Will the third time be the golden charm?

Will the third time be the golden charm?

–5– Kevin Durant scored 54 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 127-121 win Friday night over the Golden State Warriors. It was the first individual 50-point game of this season, and good evidence that the NBA scoring leader might have an MVP title in his future.

Not doing so well despite starting the week with the traditional White House trophy presentation, were the reigning champion Miami Heat, who then lost three games in a row, including one to the Washington Wizards who at times led by as much as 32 points. They seemed to turn things around by their stop in Philly, though, winning 101-86 after the 76ers beat them in October.

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High 5 Headlines! Rose Wilts, Worries for Winston, and Puppy Snuggles Cost Me the BEST NFL GAME EVER!

chester

Football, or fuzzy kisses? Chester is the clear winner, no OT.

1) It is a testament to the snuggliness of my dog (and maybe some wine) that I fell asleep with him on the couch last night and missed the end of an incredible NFL comeback. Denver visited Boston and brought along many storylines: two of the best quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady squaring off again; Denver receiver Wes Welker returning to play his former Patriots for the first time, and coming off a concussion last week; and temperatures colder than polar bear poop. Denver led 24-0 at the half, but Tom Brady returned reborn in the second,  completing more than 80 percent of his passes to erase the deficit–that Manning shredded with one last touchdown, sending the game into OT. Boston won on a field goal 34-31. Brady inked his 38th career game with 3+ TD passes and no interceptions, the second-most all-time to–guess who–Peyton Manning (42).

2) By the way, the Patriots’ Bill Belichick isn’t the only coach in the family. His daughter Amanda, a Wesleyan University grad, is the head women’s lacrosse coach at Wesleyan, where Dad himself played lacrosse in the early 70s. Both Belichicks were captains of their teams as seniors.

3) That slapping sound you are hearing is Chicago NBA fans’ collective foreheads this week as Bulls star (aka Michael Jordan 2.0) Derrick Rose is once again out for the season, requiring surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee. He missed last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee. Rose has been Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and an NBA All-Star, so his frustration must be only slightly worse than Adidas, who just launched his new shoe collection and “The Return of D Rose” campaign. (Or the frustration of Memphians like me, who had our national-runner-up 2008 season erased by the NCAA over allegations that Rose had someone else take his SATs for him. Sigh.) But Rose is only 25, having turned pro after just one year of college play (otherwise snarkily known as a “one and done”). Steve Nash (39, Lakers) and Manu Ginobli (36, San Antonio Spurs) are just a couple of superstar starters playing for super teams well into their 30s. And Chicago still has their NHL champion Blackhawks, currently among the top of the Western Conference.

4) The slapping sound you are still hearing is me. My forehead. Because it just couldn’t be a football season without a sexual assault case. Oh wait, my bad. Just before the season, a group of Vanderbilt players were indicted on counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery against a victim in a dorm room. (The case is ongoing and getting uglier). Now, Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Jameis Winston is at the center of a potential rape charge stemming from an encounter in December 2012. Details are still unclear, but we at least know the following: 1, The victim reported the event a year ago and asserts it was not consensual. 2, The case was only referred to the Florida State Attorney General two weeks ago. 3, There is a DNA evidence match confirmed. 4, Some affidavits support Winston; others support the alleged victim. And 5, Winston is a redshirt freshman leading the Seminoles to their first potential championship since 1999. Whatever the outcome, we can hope whoever is telling the truth will see justice, and that the athletes of a storied program won’t see their hard work overshadowed by scandal. But I have to wonder if either will happen.

5) OK, let’s end on a funny note. If you missed it last weekend (and I did because I haven’t found “Saturday Night Live” reliably funny since 1982. Yeah, I said it. Except for episodes with Justin Timberlake, also from Memphis. Naturally.), SNL really did come through with a parody of “The Red Zone” channel. Each Sunday, Red Zone allows fans to see any potential NFL scoring play–when the ball is within 20 yards of the goal line, aka “the red zone.” (I must admit I do have this channel.) But if you’re not into sports, you now have “The Rosé Zone“–a women’s channel with all the best (worst?) reality TV moments without the charity benefits and fashion shows. As one “viewer” puts it, “B*tches be crazy. But not all the time. Sometimes b*tches just be standin’ around and thinkin’.” <cut to Kim Kardashian staring vacantly>. “And mama ain’t about that.” Hilarious.

Toto, I Don’t Think We’re in Brazil Anymore

Athletes are people too, and love to celebrate their silly sides. And since most Halloween costumes are “sexy” in some way, why shouldn’t the nation’s best bodies wear them? Not surprisingly, our male and female sports stars from across the U.S. tweeted Halloween pictures aplenty this week:

tom giselleNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady braved a Cowardly Lion costume, along with supermodel wife Giselle Bundchen as Dorothy.

alex morgan sydney leroux

U.S. Olympic soccer stars Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux went as the ubiquitous (but still hilarious) Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke.

kevin-durant-halloween

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant dressed up as an especially tall “Jason” from “Friday the 13th.”

nathan

And And Nathan MacKinnon, Jean Sebastien Giguere, and Jamie McGinn of the Colorado  Avalanche did this group shot as England’s Royal Family (including new baby Prince George).

Finally, a guest post from my much smarter, much funnier sports fan friend Geoff Woliner of “Winning Wit”: “10 Things We’ve Learned at the NFL Midseason.” Enjoy!

High Five: Jordan Returns? And Putting Pink in the Past

I have an NFL record. And a very jaunty hat.

I have an NFL record. And a very jaunty hat.

Happy Monday! After another incredible sports week, here are just some of the headlines to share with the office, the other half, and the offspring…

1) Tom Brady’s streak of consecutive games with a Patriots touchdown (52, or roughly three years) ended in a 13-6 loss against Cincinnati Sunday. Brady’s record is second only to New Orleans’ Drew Brees (54), whose Saints are still unbeaten at 5-0, along with Kansas City and Denver. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 51-48 nailbiter win over Dallas Sunday, but brother Eli wasn’t so lucky–his New York Giants are a stunning 0-5 for the first time in a non-strike year since 1979–when gas was 90 cents a gallon and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” was number one (Eli wasn’t even born yet). Also still winless: Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay.

2) Unfortunately for Tampa, its baseball team is also still winless in the post-season. The National and American League Divisional Series are underway (NLDS and ALDS for short). As of this writing, here’s where the five-game series stand:

–National League: Pittsburgh 2, St. Louis 1; Los Angeles 2, Atlanta 1

–American League: Oakland 1, Detroit 1; Boston 2, Tampa Bay 0

3) Apparently hockey players aren’t the only ones who duke it out. In the first game of the season, and his first game as Colorado Avalanche head coach, Hall-of-Fame goalie Patrick Roy engaged in a shouting match with Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau over a penalty call. Roy began pushing the glass separating the two boxes, which wobbled precariously before the fight ended with $10,000 fine for Roy, but a 6-1 victory.

4) No you don’t need to adjust your TV set – the pink you’re seeing on NFL players’ uniforms and equipment is the yearly October tip of the helmet from our football guys to breast cancer survivors, victims and research that will hopefully someday make all that pink a thing of the past. (Need Christmas gifts for football fan family members? Go to NFL.com/auction to bid on pink game-worn gear by your favorite players and “Finish the Fight Against Breast Cancer.”)

5) For a moment I did try to adjust my radio the other day when I thought I heard Michael Jordan might be making a return to the NBA at age 50. It was actually a hypothetical the local sports DJs were examining, based on comments Jordan made during a recent video game promotion. Jordan claimed her could have beaten Lebron James (2013 MVP) in his prime. He jokes he’s not sure about Kobe Bryant, who “steals all my moves.” Julius Erving, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade are other stars he would have liked to go one-on-one with.

Well, if he came back, your kids could see a legend. And if he stunk, maybe you won’t have to buy those expensive shoes anymore.

Salaries, Soccer, and “So, Are You Into Girls, or What?”

Soccer Moms Listen Up
Pro soccer is gaining ground in the U.S., but the heart of futbol still lies overseas. And believe it or not, David Beckham is no longer its most recognizable star. In Spain, FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo are soccer’s modern gods with stats that stagger (well, everywhere but in America).

Ronaldo

Cristia…um, nevermind, I forgot.

According to Forbes, the two men have the most Facebook fans of any athlete (43 ad 55 million respectively), and are roughly the ninth and 11th highest-paid in the world. Messi, who just tied the record for most goals in the two teams’ years-long rivalry (think Red Sox/Yankees or Edward/Jacob) is considered the slightly better player, but Ronaldo’s model looks make the female fans swoon. Remember their names–you’ll see much more of both during the buildup to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And for some fun, check out Messi and Kobe Bryant in this ad for Turkish Airlines (I admit when I saw it I didn’t know who Messi was either). 

900 Club Gets a New Member
Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer reached the historic 900-win mark Tuesday night as the Scarlet Knights defeated South Florida 68-56 at home. Stringer, whose record is 900-330 overall, joins Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt, and Sylvia Hatchell–who achieved her 900 mark with North Carolina last month. Three men’s coaches have 900+ victories: Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, and Jim Boeheim. (Krzyzewski began his career as a player and assistant at Army for Knight.)

Speaking of Krzyzewski…
It was an intense week for #3 Duke, whose team lost at unranked Virginia, then had to dodge Cavalier fans storming the court. With a number of major basketball upsets this season, court-storming has become a daily occurrence, and so far without incident. But Krzyzewski has had enough, demanding in a post-game press conference that home teams be courteous enough to let the losing team leave the floor first. I think Coach K is right—but also frustrated with an unstable season. You can’t control that kind of group exuberance.

Personally, I am more concerned with the evolution (?) of traditional student taunts beyond “Air Ball!” and into sexual and even cruel realms. Maryland students recently chanted something at Duke’s Mason Plumlee that even Richard Pryor wouldn’t type here. If you’re going to pay $50,000 for your kid’s college education, I hope you don’t have to see them acting like a jerk on national TV.

European soccer is currently so embroiled in controversy due to fan racism that AC Milan literally left the pitch on Thursday in support of their black players who were met with monkey chants. Monkey chants. In Twenty-Freaking-Thirteen. College students: you are America’s future. Let’s set a better example.

Anyway, Duke did end the week with a win, getting revenge against Miami on Saturday, 79-76, for a 90-63 thumping earlier this season.

Dr. RGIII?
Seniors at Ashburn, Va.’s Broad Run High School have launched a social media campaign petitioning Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to speak at their graduation ceremony. The school is near the Skins’ practice facility and even sports the same burgundy and gold. Hopefully Griffin, who earned a political science degree from Baylor in only three years, can take time off from rehabbing his knee (torn vs. Seattle in a Jan. 6 playoff game, thereby pretty much doubling DC-area AA attendance) to offer some wisdom.

Don’t Ask, Don’t…Just Don’t.
[Head banging sounds here.]

I don’t know why I’m surprised. After Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (of the Facebook fake-girlfriend scandal) had a sub-par performance at last week’s NFL Combine tryouts, the conversation quickly expanded beyond whether the scam is affecting his performance to…whether or not he is gay. Reportedly, NFL representatives asked him directly about his sexual orientation; other players complained of the same.

Regardless of your position on gay rights, think of it this way: You are a BOY who finds a GIRL on Facebook. Turns out you are being digitally stalked, then are publicly exposed, at the very crux of your young career, for your naiveté (oh and you were a mere teenager when the dupe began). Then, because the stalker happens to be your same sex, your intimate life is suddenly questioned by those who could determine your future. Are smoking, drinking, and felonies less important to your highly-paid performance on the field than who you date? Because that’s what these types of questions imply.

Media can ask athletes whatever dumb things they want, but the NFL collective bargaining agreement prohibits such questions from its own employees. Legally, a hiring manager cannot ask you your sexual preference, if you plan to become pregnant, or if you have a disability, and the NFL Combine is, essentially, a job interview for young men who have worked their entire lives for this opportunity. Let’s hope some enlightenment comes out of this.

Salary Negotiation…Donation?
Springtime is when pro football re-evaluates its player contracts—even Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco must be analyzed (he’s doing just fine. The Ravens reportedly are re-signing him for $120 million over six years, making him the highest-paid NFL quarterback ever).

But even multi-million dollar franchises face limits in order for budgets to be fair across all 32 teams. New England got some help from a surprising place last week—its own QB, Tom Brady, who agreed to less money annually in order for the Patriots to meet the “salary cap.” But don’t worry about Tom either—the contract guarantees him a job through age 40 (at which most QBs don’t play anyway), and he’ll actually make more money in the end.

Center of (Unwanted) Attention
Indiana center Roy Hibbert was suspended (along with Warriors forward David Lee) after last week’s brawl between the Pacers and Golden State, centered around Hibbert (7-2) and Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (6-3).

Even more fascinating than poor Curry’s ragdoll treatment was the involvement of the NBA’s only female referee, Violet Palmer, who attempted to remove some bodies but eventually had to step away and let the boys duke it out. Still, Palmer is the first female ref to reach and establish a career in the highest level of a U.S. professional sport. Dee Kantner also briefly worked as an NBA ref in 1997. And last September, Shannon Eastin was the first woman to referee an NFL regular-season game, working as a “replacement” during a Rams-Lions matchup.

By the way, Curry redeemed himself in his next game vs. the Knicks, scoring 54 points.

Parting Shot
The Gonzaga University men’s basketball team has made history by being voted an overwhelming #1 in the AP poll for the first time. The Spokane, Wash. school has only 5,000 undergraduates (#2 Indiana has 90,000), but for the last decade has become one of the most feared and respected teams. We’ll see if they can carry the momentum into “Selection Sunday,” during which the NCAA Tourney brackets are set, 6 p.m. ET March 17.