Speed Read: Eagles Take Gamble On Michael Vick

In a lot of ways, the Michael Vick saga is coming to an end today. In a couple of hours, the Eagles will announce that they have signed Vick to a contract, and the dogfighting thing will be behind us, and he’ll just be another NFL player again.

Michael Vick drinking wine

Sure, there will be Rachel Nichols following his every move at practice for a while, then everyone will get all excited when he breaks off a 14-yard run from the Wildcat formation in a preseason game. But then he’ll fade away for a while as he serves his suspension, and by the time he is eligible to play in week six or so, he’s just going to a backup who comes on for a gimmick play every once in a while.

Philly was one of a long list of teams that reportedly had no interest in Vick as he was seeking a new job. In fact, many theorized that he’d have to resort to signing with the new UFL to have a chance to play. After all, what NFL team was going to be willing to absorb the PR hit, be willing to wait out his suspension, and be able to actually use him? The Eagles seemed unlikely on all fronts. They’ve already got two decent backup quarterbacks in Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.

UFL logo

(You know things don’t look good for this league when they’re disappointed that they didn’t get the dog killer.)

So why add Vick to a team that doesn’t really need him? Andy Reid talks about wanting to give the guy a second chance, and even mentions the plight of his own children as a factor in the decision. The Eagles did use DeSean Jackson in the Wildcat on occasion last year, so maybe they want to expand that facet of their offense. Maybe they’ll try to turn him into a receiver, kick returner, or both. But can he learn to do those things at an NFL level in a matter of weeks?

None of that seems important right now, as most of the attention will be focused on the moral implications of signing a guy who just got out of prison two weeks ago for killing dogs. The PHILLY INQUIRER’s John Gonzalez sums up the struggle, and gives a very reasonable argument in favor of giving Vick another chance:

If you’ve already dug in and joined the anti-Vick camp, I won’t blame you or try to change your mind. People love dogs. I’m one of them. I’m a sucker for just about any animal, but the ones that roll over and play fetch and slobber all over me - even when I’m not at my best (which is most of the time) - are by far my favorite. What Vick did to those dogs was cruel and terrible and indefensible.

But I’m not going to kill the Eagles for signing him, and I’m not going to attack Vick or ascribe some pejorative label to the guy. I don’t know the man. I don’t know why he got involved with dogfighting. But I do know that he went to prison, and he lost his job, and he’s been beaten up quite a bit over the last two years. He’s been beaten up almost endlessly. And for good reason. Don’t get it twisted, he deserved his punishment - all of it. But after doing his time and losing almost everything he’d worked so hard to achieve, hasn’t he paid the price required of someone looking to purchase a second chance?

Ultimately, I think NFL fans will be OK with Vick. Everything he’s said and done recently indicates that he’s remorseful about what he did and that he’s committed to rebuilding his image. But for now, even the fans in Philly are split on this – a poll on PHILLY.COM shows that they are about 53-47 against signing Vick.

michael vick 60 minutes

As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was pelted with vomit and urine while attempting to take a corner kick at Azteca Stadium on Wednesday, word comes now that U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan played the entire game with the swine flu.

Landon Donovan

Ironically, Landon didn’t pick up the illness in Mexico, where the latest epidemic of the ol’ H1N1 originated. Instead, he got it from two staff members of the L.A. Galaxy, Donovan’s MLS team. The L.A. TIMES reports that the staff members picked it up during the Galaxy’s match with the New England Revolution in Foxboro. That’s right, Pats fans. Swine flu is just stewing in your stadium. Good luck with that, Brady.

Tom Brady, first day of training camp

(”So, if there’s swine flu on Bernard Pollard’s helmet…”)

Donovan admits that he felt crappy during Wednesday’s game, but chalked it up to the elevation and poor air quality in Mexico City. He is unlikely to play in the Galaxy’s home game tomorrow against Seattle, and more unlikely to ever come within 25 feet of David Beckham the rest of this season (which isn’t much of a change — he just has a medical reason now).

I suppose it’s shouldn’t be surprising if we hear of athletes starting to come down with the virus. MLB pitcher Vicente Padilla came down with it a couple of weeks ago, and as many as 1 million people nationwide have probably been infected at some point. While there is little danger of any serious repercussions (Donovan is sick, but nothing beyond your average flu bug), it could be devastating to a team if multiple players were to suffer from the illness at the same time. NFL teams in particular need to be careful, or at least plan on catching it the week they play the Lions.

swine flu

Michael Phelps is going to be just fine after he was involved in a car accident last night. The sack of 10 from White Castle? Sadly, they didn’t make it.

• BC and BU will play hockey at Fenway Park a week after the Winter Classic.

Rick Sutcliffe throws Jose Mesa under the bus for failing to hit somebody with a pitch 20 years ago. Sut just didn’t realize that the opposing batter needs to have “Vizquel” written on his back for Joe Table to plunk him.

Jeff Francoeur thinks the reason he’s going to look “like a clown” next year is these new batting helmets, and not his inevitable .285 on-base percentage.

new batting helmet

• Well, the Wrigley beer-tosser has been apprehended and he apologized publicly to Shane Victorino, the Cubs, and his own family. But not to the guy who took the fall for him and got tossed out. That’s like the main guy who needs an apology!

Adrian Beltre might want to reconsider his decision to not wear a cup, as he’s now on the DL because of the quite horrifying “bleeding testicle.” Yeah, you heard that right. He somehow played five innings after the injury.

• Quentin Richardson has been traded — for the fourth time this offseason. The T-Wolves sent him to Miami yesterday for Mark Blount. That means he has now been swapped for Darko Milicic, Zach Randolph, Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen, and now Blount. That’s a lot of headcases and one terrible dancer.

Royals great Willie Wilson has signed a one-day contract to start a game for the Kansas City T-Bones of the Independent League next week. Wilson apparently didn’t want to subject himself to something as embarrassing as appearing at an actual Royals game.

God knows what Bronson Arroyo was hopped up on last night when he threw a two-hit shutout against the Nationals.

•  The DAILY MAIL has a story today about Kirsty Gallacher, girlfriend of rugby player Paul Sampson, daughter of golfer Bernard Gallacher, and former Sky Sports personality. Just wanted to establish a sports-related reason to run this photo:

Kirsty Gallacher

Are you surprised that Michael Vick got an NFL job this year?

View Results

Nastia Liukin Knows How to Tweet Sweet Self-Pics

• Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin puts Twitter to very good use - by putting up pretty pictures of herself.

Nastia Liukin

• Don’t you worry, Michael Vick - Chris Rock has got your back!

• Cyclists & joggers, be on the lookout for the Delaware Blow-Dart Bandit.

• Roadrunner’s revenge: A NASCAR driver going 190 mph gruesomely gets a coyote embedded in his grill.

• Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Ben Burley is banned from blogging after writing about the woman he woke up to in his bed.

Read more…

Bronson Arroyo Loves His Drugs, You Bet He Does

When last we left Bronson Arroyo, he was telling the world on the eve of the trading deadline that he took androstenedione and amphetamines back in 2003, and that he wouldn’t be surprised to see his name pop up on baseball’s “secret” steroids list. The Reds, who were trying to trade him, were then shocked to learn there were no takers. So Arroyo remains on his yacht, strumming his guitar as a member of the Reds. Wait, they have yachts in Cincinnati?

Bronson Arroyo and friend

Anyway, our long-haired hero — who seems more like he should be a character in “John From Cincinnati” than a pitcher for Cincinnati — is amplifying his steroids remarks, even though no one is asking. Seems smart to me!

Read more…

Bronson Arroyo Has Those Androstenedione Blues

It’s just one day before the trading deadline, and your team, the Cincinnati Reds, are trying to trade you. So if you’re pitcher Bronson Arroyo, you do the logical thing: Tell a major newspaper that you were using both androstenedione and amphetamines in 2003. That should grease the wheels.

Bronson Arroyo

With the news that his then-Red Sox teammates David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are among the 104 players on MLB’s confidential doping list, Arroyo told the BOSTON HERALD that he wouldn’t be shocked to see his name on the list as well. OK then. Read more…

Cowboys Scout Left Paralyzed From Tent Collapse

• The collapse of the Dallas Cowboys’ practice tent has caused scouting assistant Rich Behm (inset) to be paralyzed from the waist down.

Rich Behm Cowboys practice tent collapse

• The family of b-ball recruit Renardo Sidney were expecting to be paid big bucks for steering their star son toward USC.

• Rehab or TV reunion? Which one do you think Dennis Rodman chose?

• The banishment of TCU student reporter Brian Smith from Mountain West TV was actually the work of Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson.

• The best thing about being named NBA MVP? Getting a brand new Kia! LeBron James must be thrilled.

Read more…

Ex-MLBers To Play Drug Dealers In Upcoming Film

Imagine you’re a small-time actor who wants to make a mob movie. You’ve written a script, you’ve borrowed a camera, you’ve got moxie out the wazoo. All you need now is money and actors, and you’re well on your way to an Academy Award. Where to go from there?

Bronson Arroyo
(Crappy pitcher, crappy musician, soon-to-be crappy movie producer)

If you’re actor William Demeo, you turn to the group of people with the best combination of money, delusions of grandeur, and free time - that’s right, professional athletes. Demeo’s making a mob movie called “The Sixth Family”, and apparently it’s going to star half of Major League Baseball.

Read more…

Speed Read: A Very Sane Start To March Madness

If the early games in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday were kind of a bust (except for the Memphis vs. Cal State Northridge game; sorry, no love for the “scrappy underdogs” - way to blow it, Matadors!), then the late games were … marginally more exciting. There was an actual upset, with No. 12 Western Kentucky taking down No. 5 Illinois, 76-72.

Western Kentucky celebrates win over Illinois

But then again, most experts were predicting that Western Kentucky would win this game ahead of time, due to the loss of the Illini’s starting point guard Chester Frazier with a broken hand, and the return of Hilltopper’s mascot from a broken right … orange blobby thing.

Western Kentucky mascot

No, the late games were more notable for the near misses than the upsets. Take No. 6 UCLA, which almost fell apart completely against Virginia Commonwealth, nearly blowing a 10-point halftime lead and having the ball in the hands of Rams star Eric Maynor with time expiring and a chance to win the game. (Not the person you want with the ball if you’re UCLA - just ask Duke) Fortunately for the Bruins, Darren Collison came to the rescue, forcing a hurried, off-balance miss from Maynor to hold on to a 65-64 win.

Darren Collison of UCLA and Eric Maynor of VCU

Speaking of blowing a lead … poor American. Just like their namesake economy, their 14-point second half lead against Villanova went into a deep recession, and there was no bailout package coming from the government. Playing in front of a partisan Philadelphia crowd (thanks, seeding committee!), the No. 3 Wildcats rallied later to survive a scare from the No. 14 Eagles, 80-67.

(Note to American University: nice try in attempting to gain our sympathy with your name: the American Eagles. Why don’t you just call yourself the American Heroes Who Died On 9/11 Who Will Weep In Heaven If You Root Against Us? It’s about as subtle.)

Not having trouble advancing was No. 2 Oklahoma, who trounced No. 15 Morgan State 82-57 behind 28 points and 13 rebounds from star Blake Griffin. However, Griffin did have one moment of problems: specifically, when the Bears’ back-up center Ameer Ali decided to practice his armbar takedown on Griffin after they got tangled up together:

It should go without saying that Ali was ejected, and then immediately escorted to St. Louis for the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Ali says the whole incident was unintentional and “a misunderstanding,” which I would only believe if I was Billy Packer and he was a Duke player who just shattered Tyler Hansbrough’s face.

(Not only has Griffin had to deal with this and sustaining a concussion a few weeks ago, but remember the cheap shot he received from USC’s Leonard Washington at the start of the year as well. Either Griffin in such a pacifist than he makes Gahndi look like Genghis Khan or he’s going to snap and pummel someone to death with his sneaker by the end of the tournament. Maybe this explains why he feels the need to lash out at society by peeing in bushes.)

For those of you who are part of the 80 percent of American males who managed to come down with a 48-hour bug starting yesterday morning, your slate of games today look good enough to help you cope with your “debilitating illness”. There are several games that have “Upset Special” written all over them, which probably means that the games will go chalk all day.

In other sports news from last night you might have missed as you polished up your…ahem…resume for a Rhode Island strip club’s job fair:

  • Martin Brodeur might be the winningest goalkeeper in NHL history, but the CBC reports that he might be the losingest ex-husband in the history of hockey: an appeals court ordered him to pay $500,000 a year in alimony to his ex-wife Melanie DuBois until 2020.
  • Martin Brodeur

  • It might be a sport played by drunk men with pot bellies, mullets and porn mustaches, but damn it, you must respect the rules of etiquette in bowling! The SACRAMENTO BEE reports that a dispute about who had right of way to bowl turned into a brawl at a Rocklin, CA, bowling alley featuring one man knocking out another man’s tooth with a bowling ball. <RUN FUNCTION TO READER: INSERT “BIG LEBOWSKI” JOKE HERE>
  • BUGS & CRANKS is focusing their considerable hatred on Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and his decision to spend Spring Training living on a houseboat. Apparently, if there was ever a movie made about Arroyo’s life, it would star Matthew McConaughy. And it would probably suck, but your significant other would drag you to it because he’s so “dreamy” and “laid back.”
  • Your semifinals for the World Baseball Classic are set (yes, that’s still going on) after Japan’s 6-2 victory over Korea. The defending champion Japanese will take on the U.S. in one game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, while Korea faces off against Venezuela.
  • Speaking of the WBC and your apparent apathy to it, LARRY BROWN SPORTS says that Red Sox slugger Kevin Youklis is very upset with American fans for not showing up to the team’s games at the World Baseball Classic. This means you, Joe Six-Pack: even if you’ve lost your job, your house is being repossessed and your kids are being forced to share the same pair of shoes, that’s no excuse for not coughing up $45 a person for cheap seats.
  • How about a hearty welcome to the MLS for the Seattle Sounders, as Drew Carey’s expansion team drubbed New York Red Bull 3-0 in the team’s inaugural game. But I don’t care how many games this “new” Sounders team wins: I doubt they’ve have a music video of their highlights as cool as this collection of highlights from the NASL team in 1975 set to “The Hustle”:

  • I know he’s only been on the job for a couple of months, but here’s a friendly bit of advice to President Barack Obama: it’s probably not a good idea to make jokes about the Special Olympics, as the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR says you did on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last night.
  • I guess they are teaching Hawaii Warrior football players to not quit on a play, but this is ridiculous: the HONOLULU ADVERTISER says that cornerback JoPierre Davis was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the same female student twice within a four month period, and then knocking her unconscious at a nightclub. Big surprise: this isn’t his first run-in with the law.
  • While we wait to find out what athletes named come up as clients in the Houston prostitution ring, the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER has news of another brewing scandal: a secret, late-night warehouse that offered sex, drugs and high-stakes card games to its clients. When the club was raided, at least one former NFL player was there, and other athletes are said to be “frequent patrons.”
  • Yawn: another day, another LeBron James triple-double, going for 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. His feat led the Cavaliers to a 97-92 overtime victory over Portland as Cleveland tied an NBA record by committing only two turnovers - and one was at the end of overtime.

Which team has the most fans at Dodger Stadium for the World Baseball Classic this weekend?

View Results

Speed Read: Eli Manning’s Brother Is OK QB Too

Remember way back in October, when the Indianapolis Colts were 3-4 and their playoff hopes looked completely dead in the water? What a difference a couple of months make. Last night’s 31-24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was the team’s eighth straight, clinching a playoff berth and as the INDIANAPOLIS STAR notes, made them the first team ever to win 11 or more games in six straight seasons. And Tony Dungy became the first coach since the merger to make the playoffs in ten straight years.

Peyton Manning vs the Jacksonville Jaguars

All impressive, but the star of the night was Peyton Manning. You might not have noticed, but after struggling a bit during the team’s early slump, Peyton’s stepped out of his little brother Eli’s shadow, putting together a string of great performances despite not having a run game to speak of. And last night might have been his best yet: 364 yards and three touchdowns, including completing his first 17 passes in a row.

If he keeps this up, he might get some endorsements in the future. The game was a bit of a letdown for Jaguars fans, but their highlight had to come before the game, when paralyzed lineman Richard Collier took the field in a wheelchair with his teammates. No jokes there, just a Christmas wish that no other NFL players (or athletes) are the victims of needless crime in 2009.

Meanwhile, the NFL wants you to become a narc. Not about drugs (so please stop following Ricky Williams around, thanks), but about unruly fan behavior. USA TODAY reports that NFL teams are giving fans a way to report obnoxious fans to stadium security by sending a text message.

Text message sign for unruly NFL fans

It’s more discreet than having to find a security guard and point someone out, but it does lend itself to “prank texts” of people wanting to kick people out of the stadium. For example, Buffalo fans shouldn’t text message security and demand that Dick Jauron is kicked out of the stadium for “impersonating an NFL head coach.” Note: the Saints, Rams and Titans don’t offer this service, so feel free to act like complete cretins at these games.

You can choose one QB at their peak to build your dream team around. Who’s your pick?

View Results

Blog-O-Rama: Arroyo Has Baseball On His Mind

• POPO IN MY CRIB can see that despite suffering through another rotten Reds season, Bronson Arroyo still has baseball on his mind.

Bronson Arroyo Reds baseball on mind

Mark Cuban tried to explain Josh Howard’s Star-Spangled Slam over on his blog, but the Mavs owner didn’t realize what a firestorm he unleashed.

• Stephanie Stradley of AOL FANHOUSE wonders if the Texans can do for Hurricane Ike victims what the Saints did for Katrina victims.

• UNI WATCH looks back on the career of sports illustrator Lon Keller, the guy who created the Yankees’ famous hat logo.

Read more…

Kim K. Cuts Calendar For Reggie, Pics ‘Leak’ Out

Never mind Jessica - not even *Homer* Simpson could have helped Tony Romo’s wrangling Wrigley rendition of the 7th inning stretch.

Kim Kardashian cut together a “private” calendar for Reggie Bush - and wouldn’t you know it, some of the photos have leaked out to the public!

Kim Kardashian red lingerie

• Were the Atlanta Hawks secretly loaded up with extra liquor the night before Game 7 vs. the Celtics?

• Think we’ll skip out on the peanuts & Cracker Jack next time we’re out at the ol’ ball game.

• Dog gone! A curious canine gets crushed on a Turkish F1 track.

John Challis, the high school baseball player fighting terminal cancer, got to meet Mario Lemieux & Ben Roethlisberger at Sunday night’s Penguins game. He even had time to toss a quick zinger at the Pirates.

Read more…