Cheerleader Dodges Death, Makes Calendar Cover

Back-to-back titles — so rare in the NFL, except if you’re Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Adriene B. The Ravens don’t give out full names of their cheerleaders (although Adriene was a cheerleader at South Carroll High and the University of Maryland, so any of you Cavaliers or Terrapins who know her might want to check in). Anyway, she made back-to-back covers of the Ravens’ cheerleader calendar, a great accomplishment indeed.

Adriene B Ravens cheerleader

But professional cheerleading is also fraught with danger. Aside from the clumsy groping of drunken fans and of course Joe Flacco’s scattershot passing accuracy, there’s also the terror of wild deer! Leaving her home home town of Mt. Airy, MD, to catch a flight for the calendar shoot in the Dominican Republic last year, she hit a deer, which went through her windshield.

(More pics after the jump - of Adriene, not the deer.)

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Steve McNair Is Not Bound For The Hall of Fame

I’m pretty sure that over the coming weeks, months and possibly even years we’re all going to learn a lot about the life of the late Steve McNair. Maybe more than any of us ever really wanted to know, but as the details of his murder become clearer it’s bound to happen.

Unfortunately there’s a possibility that during all this we may forget just how good of a football player the man was. There’s also a chance that his accomplishments on the football field may become exaggerated. So with that in mind the BALTIMORE SUN recently ran a poll with 24 NFL Hall of Fame voters to see whether or not McNair is bound for Canton once he’s eligible in 2013.

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Kazemi’s Sister Believes ‘A Third Person Involved’

Obviously, the details will end up shaking themselves out in the coming days and weeks, but the past 24 hours have seen a confusing mess of conflicting details regarding the murder of Steve McNair and the as-yet-unclassified death of Sahel Kazemi.

Sahel Kazemi Photo Steve McNairs Girlfriend Photo

Many high profile murder-suicides (if that’s what this is) tend to feature troubled, unhappy relationships and disturbed individuals (think Chris Benoit or Phil & Brynn Hartman). But if Sahel Kazemi’s family is to be believed, nothing could be further from that profile. That leaves one possibility, in the family’s mind: there must have been a third person involved.

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Ravens CB Part Of Scummy Foreclosure Scheme?

In the rough economic times we’re in, it’s always heartwarming when you see the story of an NFL player and a pastor joining forces to rip off a bunch of people facing foreclosure.

Anwar Phillips

(should we be encouraged that NFL crimes are getting more cerebral?)

That’s what Ravens cornerback Anwar Phillips is accused of doing. The former Penn State star and the as-yet unidentified pastor were allegedly telling homeowners in the San Diego area that they could avoid foreclosure by letting them put someone else on the title temporarily. But instead of helping out, they were just interested in gaining ownership of the house so they could take out a new mortgage and cash out the equity.

The whole plot’s a bit confusing (to me, anyway) and some red flags should have been showing up for the scammed homeowners, but it goes to show how desperate people can be to get out of financial trouble these days.

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Speed Read: Is Haley Ready For Chiefs Hot Seat?

It guess it’s not just to the victor that go the spoils: despite his team falling just short in the Super Bowl, Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley was rewarded for the team’s miracle run, as the KANSAS CITY STAR reports that he has reached an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs to become their new head coach. Now, with the absolutely mess that the Chiefs are right now, it’s debatable how much of a “reward” this job is. But hey: it’s not the Raiders.

New Chiefs coach Todd Haley

Clearly, by resurrecting the career of Kurt Warner and turning the Cardinals into a fearsome offensive machine, Haley’s proven that he can coach an offense. But can he be the leader? After all, this is someone who never played college football (instead playing and later coaching college golf) and only got into football as a scout in 1995. Can he earn the respect of the players with such little experience?

I don’t want to raise any red flags here, but when you think of “head coach with no college playing experience,” who do you think of? Charlie Weis? And if Haley commands the type of respect and admiration from players and fans that Weis does - yikes. It might even have Chiefs fans longing for the halcyon days of Gunther Cunningham. (Note: this will never happen.)

But I had an inkling this was going to happen. A source (a teammate on my kickball team) mentioned earlier this week that his father spotted Chiefs GM Scott Pioli having a lengthy meal with Todd Haley’s representatives at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in St. Louis, hurriedly shooing away waiters and looking out for spies (apparently not well enough).

Ruths Chris Steak House

Which brings up an interesting point: Ruth’s Chris Steak House? Really? There was no better place in St. Louis to conduct an important, secretive conversation about your next head coach than a chain steak house? Granted, it’s not Sizzler or Golden Corral, but St. Louis has to have dining options with red leather chairs and lots of dark corners - don’t they have Italian restaurants there? And why not have the meeting in Kansas City? Can someone point him to Yelp, please?

In other news: it turns out that corporate sponsors don’t like it when the person they are using to sell breakfast to millions of kids is pictured taking a rip from a bong. Who knew? CNBC details how Kellogg’s has decided not to renew Michael Phelps’ endorsement contract, which is set to expire at the end of the month. Which was probably going to happen anyway - except very quietly versus with a public statement from the company admonishing Phelps for behavior that “is not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”

Michael Phelps bounced by Kelloggs

At least Phelps can always count on USA Swimming to have his back in their usual, clumsy way. The organization decided to crack the whip on their poster child by giving him a three-month ban, during a time when he wasn’t expected to compete in any meets of significance. (He will miss one meet, but let’s be serious here - if it’s not the Olympics or World Championships. does it really matter?) It’s the equivalent of a five-game baseball suspension for a pitcher, which just means that his next start is pushed back a game.

While all this was going on, there were actual games being played last night. And none were more important - or exciting - than the clash between the Lakers and the Celtics in Boston. The last time the Lakers were seen at the Garden, they were dodging green and white confetti as they exited the court to lick their wounds after having the Celtics pound them like a two dollar steak in their Finals-clinching 131-92 victory.

Los Angeles Lakers celebrate win over Boston Celtics

That didn’t happen this time. Despite Kobe Bryant having an off shooting game (10 of 29 from the field), the Lakers found a way to prevail 110-109 in a seesaw overtime thriller. The key for the Lakers was defense - a concept many thought they had abandoned about a month ago - even without injured center Andrew Bynum, and the scoring of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (a combined 44 points).

But if you want to talk about winning, you have to start with Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. After missing at her first attempt earlier in the week against Oklahoma, she notched her 1,000th career win on Thursday, with her Lady Volunteers thumping Georgia, 73-43.

Say what you will about women’s basketball, but that’s an incredible feat. Consider this: in all team sports, only Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has recorded more wins with one team. The difference, of course, is that Summitt actually knows how to win championships (although to be fair to Sloan, she never had to game plan for Michael Jordan.) In other news:

Based on the last few nights, who do you have winning the NBA Finals?

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Cardinals, Steelers to Tangle in Tampa For SB XLIII

• NFL Conference Championship weekend in review: The Cardinals soar over the Eagles, while the Steelers pluck the Ravens.

Cardinals Eagles Steelers Ravens

• But who cares about this year’s Big Game when you can already bet on next year’s?

Rex Ryan is your next Jets coach to be fired after a few seasons.

• The Red Sox are spending money on everything else - why not snatch up a fickle fan’s loyalty, too?

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It’s Never Too Early To Bet On The Patriots In 2010

Everyone and their mother puts a little money down on the Super Bowl. From absurd prop bets like the length of the National Anthem to casual pools at the office, you don’t need to be a degenerate to let money decide your rooting interest. It’s like a gambling bandwagon.

NFL Gambling

But that can turn veteran degenerate gamblers off. People who don’t know what they’re doing, moving the line in unexpected ways. It can be infuriating. But never fear: there are still ways to put that second mortgage to good use. While betting on Super Bowl 43 is passé, how about betting on Super Bowl 44?

The Patriots are the clear favorites to win the 2010 Super Bowl at 8-1, at least according to the offshore odds, which are just as good as Vegas but with better tax laws. But there are some more curious frontrunners. Those, and a look at last year’s odds (i.e. how much you could have made off the Cardinals), after the jump.

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Steel Curtain Descends To Host AFC Title Game

Now it’s official: If you want to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC, you better play really, really good defense. And you’ll have to do it by playing in chilly Pittsburgh next week, after the Steelers’ 35-24 win over San Diego.

lamar woodley steelers
(LaMarr Woodley’s Riverdance celebration.)

With a chance to host the AFC Championship Game on the line, Pittsburgh’s defense dominated when it needed to, its offense controlled possession — San Diego only got off one play in the third quarter — and the Steelers looked, at times, an awful lot like the teams that dominated football with a future failed GOP governor’s candidate (Lynn Swann) and a surprisingly telegenic TV pitchman (Mean Joe Greene).

In the process, Pittsburgh also proved that the Chargers really may need a healthy LaDanian Tomlinson to make a serious playoff push for a title. Sure, they can get by perennial chokers Indianapolis with a super-human effort from Might Mouse Darren Sproles, but without Tomlinson’s transcendent versatility — and without his health — they looked like just another team overwhelmed by hard hits in the cold.

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Quoth The Ravens: We Win Since You Never Score

The 2008 Ravens are starting to look an awful lot like the 2000-01 Ravens, and that’s just about the best compliment you could pay them.

matt stover
(Matt Stover is relevant again. Must be playoff time.)

With a suffocating defense and a quarterback who didn’t make any major mistakes — which is more than could be said about his veteran counterpart, Kerry Collins — Baltimore slipped past Tennessee in Nashville, ruining a once-promising campaign for another top-seeded Titans team before it could even get started.

Still, while Ravens rookie passer Joe Flacco may end up being the same everyone eventually associates with this Baltimore win — after all, Matt Stover had the second-most significant hand in the team’s offensive success on Saturday — this was really a classic defensive struggle, an old-school football game that was all about hits, not about speed or flash, particularly after Tennessee lost rookie speedster back Chris Johnson to an ankle injury.

More than one player lost his helmet, and the first one to go hat-less was a bruising back with a double-thick chin strap; Titans fullback Ahmad Hall. Those hits set the tone for a brutal game that saw more injury breaks than TV timeouts. Or at least something close to parity.

Just check out the video from the supershot from Ray Lewis: Read more…

Ravens Lineman Sells Screenplay To Movie Studio

When thinking about pro athletes pursuing a second career in the arts (rapping), one can’t help (rapping) but notice (rapping) that there’s (rapping) a certain familiar element (rapping) to it all (please make them stop rapping). So it’s pleasant to see the Ravens’ stalwart on the defensive line, Trevor Pryce, taking the game to a new, less immature level; as the BALTIMORE SUN reported, Pryce is an accomplished screenwriter, having sold his first script to Sony.

Trevor Pryce lounging
(No, the movie is not about barbecue potato chips. But it should be.)

So what’s Pryce’s movie going to be about? A football team full of drug addicts and womanizers, on the brink of calamity? Life on the street for a drug dealer? Rocky VII? Well, close; how about a children’s movie about wishes?

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