Speed Read: Even In Sports, It’s All About Obama

Let’s face it: For the next four years, the most important man in the free world will be Barack Obama. Yes, it sounds like Osama, and his middle name is Hussein, but as of slightly past noon today, he’ll be the president of the United States. So it shouldn’t be a shock to any of us that prominent athletes are jumping on the unstoppable Obama gravy train, taking advantage of the best ticket in town right now — single seats at the inauguration are going for upwards of $20,000 at the moment — and whether they played a role in getting him elected or not, they’re all happy to celebrate a moment in history.

Barack Obama

As we reported right here last week, Tiger Woods was first to get in on the action, speaking at the free “We Are One” concert extravaganza put on by HBO on Sunday in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It should come as no surprise that El Tigre spent most of his comments genuflecting upon his own childhood and his father’s military background, but that was still a positive contribution to an important day, and one small step toward a more politically relevant best golfer in history. Still, the best line of all came from the crowd. If you listen to the background chatter, there are isolated exclamations of “Fore!” in the video below.

That’s more than we can say for Dexter Manley, who’s hopping on this Obama bandwagon awful late. The legendary Redskins star voted for Obama, but that’s the first Democratic vote he’s cast in his entire life.

dexter manley barack obama poster
(This is all an odd joke. Dexter Manley actually did vote for Obama.)

That shouldn’t be surprising, considering the fact that Manley was practically an unofficial drug czar for the Reagan administration in the ’80s. Yet you wouldn’t know it from this quote Manley gave to THE WASHINGTON POST’s Dan Steinberg:

“I think it’s a divine thing,” Manley said. “I think it’s divine. It’s the way God wanted it. This is bigger than political stuff. As Sam Cooke said, ‘Change is Gonna Come.’ Change HAS come, but it’s not gonna happen in one administration. It’s gonna take many administrations. It’s easy to put people in office, but it’s difficult to change attitudes, and people here must change attitudes, because it’s a new America.”

So there you go. Evidently it’s ok to be a major backer of multiple Republican administrations, then flip the script as soon as it’s politically expedient to do so. Or maybe he’s legitimately changed. Whichever, Manley’s transformation has brought about some significant action, even if it’s only for one man.

And just as the Tiger Woods-Dexter Manley regression was a step down on the influence ladder, so too is Dexter Manley to Philadelphia 76ers point guard Andre Miller. Despite not voting in the last presidential election, Miller is making a full day of the inauguration and all its assorted festivities. Here’s the full synopsis from the DELAWARE COUNTY TIMES:

Miller, who didn’t vote in the November election, is off to Washington, D.C., to see President-elect Barack Obama sworn in as the first black president of the United States. The tickets came through a contact at the University of Utah. He plans to make a full day of it, too, from the swearing in, to the celebrations. … “I think I’m supposed to be going to a Hillary Clinton function, like a night function, like a formal dinner or something,” Miller said. “I’m not sure yet. I’ll find out more.” … Miller said he has followed politics for a long time, even if he doesn’t actively participate. But he finds this occasion truly special.

Also worth noting on the Miller front: He’s buddies with extremely elderly Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Yup, another politically expedient athlete. What a shock.There’s little doubt that both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were Obama backers last November. That didn’t mean they had to get along when facing off last night though. Kobe’s crew got the best of the matchup, but it wasn’t primarily because of No. 8 No. 24 himself. Instead, Pau Gasol’s 22 points and both Sasha Vujacic and Andrew Bynum’s 14 points apiece helped make up for Bryant struggling through a dislocated ring finger. We use the term “struggling” liberally, since he still scored a whopping 20 points while adding 12 assists.

Oh, that LeBron guy? He chipped in 23 points and nine rebounds, though he suffered through yet another really poor shooting night (9-of-25). Do Cleveland fans have to start worrying about a Bron-Bron slump? Maybe, though games like last night against almost any team except the Lakers will still probably yield a win. It’s worth noting. Also worth noting: You’ll probably get something more from Brooks about this puppy a little later today. We hear he had good seats.

Caca may be Spanish for poop, but Kaka has become the Brazilian embodiment of the Portugese phrase for brilliant. Still, there’s something that seems less than brilliant about turning down the opportunity to earn $150,000 a week. That’s exactly what the Brazilian who openly claims he belongs to Jesus did yesterday, turning down a massive transfer bid by British side Manchester City because, quite frankly, he really didn’t want to play for a mediocre team.

kaka milan
(Kaka: What belongs to Jesus will stay in Milan.)

In the sum total of sports, this should be a great, borderline heartwarming story. But it also seems like a crazy one, too. Kaka not only turned down a massive weekly salary to stay in Italy, he also cost his team, A.C. Milan, some $150 million in the process. That is an unbelievable boatload of cash in a recession, particularly when your club is owned by the country’s president who may or may not have mortgaged a lot of his wealth to fund a re-election campaign. Good luck getting that back, Meeeelan.

Which athlete is most likely to make a TV cameo appearance during today’s inauguration?

View Results

Speed Read: Black Friday Turns To Boring Sunday

Football games are long, long endeavors. Battles of attrition. Game of inches. Field position. And such. The previous week, the NFL set a league record for most combined points in a weekend, which is exciting on paper. But this week, and last, a lot of games were simply horrible.

Fans asleep

Half the games were won by more than two touchdowns. The average margin of victory was 15½ points. The “closest” Thanksgiving game was the Cowboys’ 25 point squeaker over Seattle. Week 12 wasn’t much better; last week’s points-a-palooza had an average victory of almost 17 points, with only three games featuring a single-digit victory. In a season where the median margin of victory is 10 points, the last two weeks have had median wins of 16 and 18 points. Hey, football’s fun. And it’s a never-ending cycle to find the good ones. You have to watch the 41-17 clunkers to find the 31-28 photo finish. Good thing I skipped the action today to go Christmas shopping.

Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis - Armageddon

(”It’s funny ’til somebody gets SHOT IN THE LEG.”)

If it wasn’t for the human tendency to honor anniversaries, not many people would connect the diametrically opposite incidents of Plaxico Burress and Sean Taylor. (Also, their teams were, y’know, playing each other.) A year ago, Taylor was murdered in his home. Last Friday, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg. The location of the bullet wounds might have been remotely close, and they were both football players, but that’s pretty much all the two things had in common. Was Burress carrying a gun to protect himself in light of the Taylor murder? Well, maybe, but isn’t that what friends and bodyguards are for? He ought to be rich enough not to have to actually handle one of those firearms. We’ll all find out more when he surrenders tomorrow and talks to police about potentially carrying a weapon without a legal permit.

Dabo Swinney, new Clemson coach

What’s Dabo Swinney looking at, other than seeing the “interim” diamond-encrusted plate being taken off his Clemson head coach office door? He’s trying to figure out who first reported it. ESPN! Multiple sources told them. WYFF GREENVILLE! Multiple sources told them. CHARLESTON POST AND COURIER! Multiple sources told us, but they told us first. Put them all together, and multiple sources have told SPORTSbyBROOKS that Dabo Swinney will be the new head football coach at Clemson University. You (might have) heard it here first.

Moneyball

  • Arbitration time! Today is the deadline for MLB teams to offer cash to their free agents and potentially scrap some draft picks out of the process in the event the free agent leaves. Milwaukee could offer it to Sabathia. Boston might give it to Captain Varitek. The Royals could … let anyone with talent sign elsewhere and bring up some young people.
  • Old-ish news, but it’s new to you! Warren Moon was on TV and mentioned that maybe the Patriots should trade Tom Brady and keep Matt Cassel. Yes, and maybe they’ll turn Bill Belichick into a French sous chef. That’ll show them.
  • David Chalk of BUGS AND CRANKS weighs the odds of who will be SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Sportsman Of The Year. David’s a Rays fan, so you know who’s the odds-on-favorite.
  • THE 700 LEVEL watches Derrick Rose block the tar out of Andre Miller’s shots last night. Chicago won 103-92.
  • THE STAR LEDGER reports on Devin Harris’s 47-point barrage to help the Nets beat the Suns. 21 of the points were in the final quarter.
  • Peyton and Tom have huge games against each other! No, not those ones. Hillis and Jones. They both ran for over 120 yards but Hillis’s Broncos trounced the Jets 34-17.
  • With the Browns down to their last Dorsey this season, Browns fans are praying to Santa Claus and the Kwanzaa Llama for Bill Cowher as a head coach.
  • The woman who had bathroom sex in the Metrodome (what a way to be named) is claiming she was victimized and would never ever have drunken sex if it was up to her. Hey, wouldn’t we all. That would be absolutely disgusting if she was date-raped, but there doesn’t seem to be any proof other than she’s embarrassed. Let’s all move on.
  • So Lane Kiffin is the new Tennessee Volunteers coach. Neat. But will his daddy Monte, a Buccaneers assistant, follow him to Knoxville? PFT can’t get a word out of the senior Kiffin about it. He’s not talking. Lips. Sealed. (For now.)
  • And finally, the Michigan State basketball game was delayed by rain. Wait… what?

What should the Giants do with Plaxico Burress?

View Results