Usually, Tony Romo saves his worst for last, shining as the season begins but falling apart in December and January. But hey, last night was kind of a big game - it was the first “official” game at the new Cowboys Stadium, and it was a national TV audience against the arch-rival New York Giants. So I guess you can’t blame Romo for reverting to his late-season form and throwing up all over himself in the Cowboys’ 33-31 loss.
Romo threw three picks - including one that was returned for a touchdown - and generally looked more spooked than a race horse that’s just been hit with a firecracker. But despite this, the Cowboys actually led late, and it looked like Dallas might pull out an improbable victory. Read more…
Since the NFL — indeed, the world — is not yet ready for Michael Vick and Maurice Clarett trying to catch on with a team at the same time, the latter is going to stay in prison. For now. Clarett, the former Ohio State running back who led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2003, has withdrawn a request for early release from prison that would have allowed him, he said, to pursue an NFL career.
For someone who hasn’t played a meaningful down of football since his freshman year in college, Clarett has spent an alarming amount of time in the public consciousness. He’s hung out with Los Angeles rap stars, been drafted in the NFL, been involved with drug running and the Israeli mob, and was even the subject of a case ultimately decided by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor. Even though he’s only 25, he’s seemingly been everywhere and lived two lifetimes — sort of an evil Forrest Gump.
Although he’s now locked up, we have not forgotten about Maurice Clarett. One reason is that he’s blogging from lockup — or at least we’re led to believe that he is. Clarett isn’t allowed Internet access in prison, but he phones in his writings to a relative, who then posts them on a blog entitled The Mind of Maurice Clarett; a sort of orange jumpsuit poetry jam in which he dwells on his feelings more than the day-to-day details of life behind bars (which has led some to believe that he’s not even the one writing it). There’s no entry so far on his decision to withdraw his request for a pardon by Gov. Ted Strickland.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien opposed Clarett’s request for pardon, saying his conduct off the playing field did not warrant special consideration.
“My observation was then and is now he had no chance of obtaining clemency under the statute or by action of the governor so it’s probably wise” that he withdrew the request, O’Brien said.
Clarett hasn’t played football since 2005, when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round — a surprise move after an unimpressive NFL combine performance in which he was dubbed “Slo Mo” by the media.
He’s serving 7 1/2 years at the Toledo Correctional Institution after being convicted in 2006 of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, a chain of events that ended with his arrest while wearing a bulletproof vest with four weapons in his car, less than a mile from one of the robbery victims. He must serve at least 3½ years of that sentence, and although he pulled his request for early release, he still becomes eligible for judicial release in March of 2010.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Clarett was on top of the world, rushing for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns in helping lead Ohio State to a 14-0 record in 2002-03. The season culminated with Clarett scoring the winning touchdown against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. But he was released from Ohio State for a variety of NCAA rules violations, then migrated to Los Angeles, where he hung out with rap stars, and began spiraling more and more out of control. He eventually tested the NFL’s eligibility rules in an attempt to enter the 2004 draft — an initially successful challenge that was overturned by United States Court of Appeals judge Sotomayor.
So Clarett has lost his latest battle to return to the free world, but has never lost his struggle to remain in the public eye. And I suppose that it’s good that we hear from him from time to time. If for nothing else, his presence serves as a cautionary tale.
“I’m a man and I struggle. I’m not speaking of anything specific. I’m just talking in general,” he wrote in his latest blog entry, dated Aug. 3.
“Depression comes and depression goes. Inspiring thoughts come and they flee as fast as they come. Sometimes my spirit is in balance and at others it runs wild. I’m not afraid. I just get a little confused at times. I know which way is up and I know how to identify a weasel from a mile away. I know who I love and I know why I love them. I don’t claim to be omniscient but I do claim to be a survivor of the urban circumstances and experiences. … I’m Youngstown’s own.”
We now lighten the mood and bring you back to the 18th hole at the Buick Open, where MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reopens the Tiger Woods Fartgate investigation. If you haven’t seen, and thus heard, the infamous video of Woods allegedly farting while sizing up a shot during the tournament, you’re in luck, because Olbermann has rescued the footage from the abyss.
More interesting than the alleged emission itself — which now that I hear it sounds more like a Whoopee Cushion — is the fact that the PGA pulled all YouTube evidence of the video off the web moments after it happened. Folks, that’s the really hilarious part. Don’t make me come back here and explain this again.
“Tiger broke 70 yesterday, perhaps after breaking something else. We can’t say for sure that it was The Tiger that roared … he might have had one of those Leslie Nielsen machines, or maybe John Daly stepped on a duck.”
If there was a second farter on the grassy knoll, kudos to him. Because that was some excellent timing.
We mentioned this briefly on Tuesday, but I feel that MAXIM’S take on David Ortiz’s Gmail inbox needs further scrutiny. It appeared Monday on their site and immediately won the Internets, delighting us with sample emails such as:
Erin Adrews: I know an ace PR guy …
Crate and Barrel: Fall is right around the corner! …
Alyssa Milano: Offer still stands — Bj, Hj, whatever you …
And the always hilarious:
C.C. Sabathia: FW: Red Lobster All-You-Can-Eat sampi!
And speaking of that fine magazine, let’s dive into this morning’s links, as we ponder why a 12-year-old boy would tell his mother that his subscription to ELECTRONIC GAMING had been somehow switched to MAXIM.
- The Reading Phillies set an attendance record on Wednesday for Pedro Martinez’s rehab start, in which he pitched decently, earning the win in an 8-4 victory over Trenton. Martinez struck out 10 of the first 17 batters he faced, finishing with 11 strikeouts over six innings. He gave up four runs, three earned. Fun fact: It was his first win at the AA level since 1991.
- So you’ve taken the summer off to visit every Major League Baseball park? That’s become somewhat of a cliche, don’t you think? The Taviano family of Columbus, Ohio has invented the new hotness: Visiting 52 zoos in 52 weeks. Marla Taviano, her husband and three daughters began their 22,000-mile quest last August, and ended it on Saturday at their hometown Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. That’s a lot of monkeys.
- Not sure what level of Little League the above video is from, but you can bet that Scott Boras has it playing on an endless loop in his office as you read this. As you can see, Jason Moody hits five home runs, including hitting for the home run cycle (watch the catcher, who is not amused). And in yet another example of this, a West Virginia Little Leaguer also hit for the home run cycle. Eli Canterbury, 12, of Barboursville, went 4-for-4 with four homers — solo, two-run and three-run homers, and a grand slam in his final at-bat — as Canterbury’s Barboursville District I All-Stars beat East Huntington 19-1. No Major League player has ever hit for the homer cycle; the only time it’s happened in pro ball was by Tyrone Horne of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in a 13-4 win over the San Antonio Missions on July 27, 1998.
- The Denver Broncos are one of the several NFL teams who prohibit players or personnel from using Twitter, but you’d never know it by listening to head coach Josh McDaniels. “I don’t really have a Twitter policy,” McDaniels said. “I don’t know what it means; I don’t know what it is. I don’t know MyFace, Spacebook, Facebook stuff. I don’t know what that is either.”
- Now let’s check in on your Chicago Cubs, who are locked in a death struggle with the Cardinals atop the NL Central. So surely when the Reds trotted out 32-year-old right-hander Justin Lehr on Wednesday — who was making only his second big league start — the Cubs would take advantage. D’oh! Lehr pitched a shutout, 4-0, as the Reds broke an eight-game losing streak.
- The Charleston RiverDogs will present “Illegal Use of Your Ed Hochuli Night” on Aug. 11, which will include “flex-offs,” and a Hochuli lookalike roaming the stands throwing penalty flags. So I would get your tickets now.
- Koren Robinson has had a troubled career; run off the tracks due to dropped passes, drinking and a run-in with the cops. The former Seahawk, Viking and Packer may be playing for the Orlando Tuskers of the UFL this season. Robinson was the ninth pick overall in the 2001 draft, the year that the Falcons chose a young man named Michael Vick with the No. 1 pick.
- Brandon Roy’s five-year contract extension will likely keep him in Portland for the rest of his career, and since he was born in Seattle, that’s OK. Roy has agreed in principle to the deal, with the fifth year, ending in 2015, as an option. Pending salary cap issues, it could be worth more than $80 million, the second-richest in Portland’s history.
- Meanwhile, here’s Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, arriving at training camp and displaying what he thinks of a certain NFL rival. Suggs wears the shirt under his practice jersey.
- Who would have thought four years ago that Eli Manning would be making more money than Peyton Manning? Or Cooper Manning, for that matter? With his new $97.5 million contract, Eli will be making about $15.3 million annually, to Peyton’s $14.17 million.
• Smoking pot, partying with coeds, choking out assistant coaches - Percy Harvin sure knows how to sell the Florida Gators to recruits.
• Tiger Woods ends the Buick Open with a big bang - from his pants! And like Nike did with the LeBron dunk, the PGA tries to remove all video.
• Beer pong with babies & shotgunning brewskis with toddlers - now that’s good parenting!
• Time to go outside, as the Arena Football League is officially folding.
• Fergie Jenkins recalls the fun traveling with the Cubs during the days of segregation - such has having to sleep at funeral homes & bordellos.
It’s hard to say which is more ridiculous: the logo creep on practice jerseys in the NFL (hardly an outfit that needs to squeeze moneyblood from rocks), or Eli Manning’s high-level endorsement deal with Citizen watches. And now, those trains collide in yet another indication that the NFL is only tangentially about football.
(One time in high school, I was playing football and I forgot to take off my watch before I went on the field. The little dial on the side dug into my arm on a play and I did some bleeding. I hope Eli doesn’t make the same mistake because it didn’t really hurt much, but it sure was embarrassing.)
You see, the Giants have inked a practice jersey ad deal with Timex. It makes sense, since Timex’s slogan is “takes a self-inflicted bullet to the thigh and keeps on ticking” and all - oh, but didn’t the Giants waive Plaxico? Now I just don’t know what to believe - which creates a bit of a conundrum for the quarterback.
Remember that 80s movie “The Best of Times” with Robin Williams as the nerd who dropped the big touchdown pass from Kurt Russell that would have given Taft High the win over arch-rivals Bakersfield, and how he convinces both teams to replay the game years later? Probably not, because it wasn’t a huge hit, although I remember since I was actually living in Taft that summer (not a highlight of my life), and it was just about the biggest deal ever in town (that and the Circle K opening in town).
It looks like we have a sequel brewing, only this time in real life: RIVALS.COM says that members of the 1993 teams from bitter foes Easton (PA) and Phillipsburg (NJ) are going to be replaying their 7-7 tie on April 26. This is all part of a program called Gatorade REPLAY which spotlights some of the best rivalries in high school football, which of course meas there are special perks for the players, such as special training sessions to get in shape. And having Peyton and Eli Manning as the honorary coaches.
(If that’s the case, shouldn’t the two teams be settling this the manly way: in the Double Stuff Licking League?)
This story comes straight from the “There’s no way this is going to last” file, but there’s a particular Olympian who is scheduled to appear at a handful of motivational speaking gigs in California later this month. And, as you might guess (since you’re reading it here, after all), that particular Olympian has earned himself a bit of criticism for toking away on some old school marijuana.
Yup, by now you guessed it: Bongtastic Michael Phelps is going to give speeches to burgeoning capitalists in Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland in late February — his first Sacramento date is Feb. 24 — and March. A company called Get Motivated! is responsible for the business seminar where Phelps and a host of others will speak, which begs the question: What does Phelps know about business except that money flocks to him when he wins? That’s all he’s got to go on, right?
In a continuing series of unlikely outcomes in the NFL playoffs, the NFC Championship Game will be the second home playoff game ever for the Arizona Cardinals franchise as the New York Giants failed to muster anything resembling a professional offense in a 23-11 loss in the Meadowlands.
It’s not quite like the Cardinals’ road to success, which has been paved with hands clenching throats in the form of six turnovers in Charlotte and three by the Falcons. The Giants only turned the ball over twice (though two fourth-and-shorts had the feel of ball dispossession).
The Eagles’ defense just slammed the door on Eli Manning and an overpowered offensive line and cleared the way for an NFC title match in an unlikely locale: the Aviary in Glendale, recreating Turkey Day’s matchup, a 48-20 win for Philly.
It’s not often that a 35-14 game can be classified as “not as close as the score indicates,” but mere numbers can’t describe the level of butt-kicking that the Giants put on Dallas for 60 minutes today.
It got so bad that on the final scoring play of the game, a 17-yard draw by Derrick Ward, the Cowboys’ Mike Jenkins (who returned an errant Manning pass for Dallas’ first score) just plain didn’t bother tackling Ward; Jenkins was in position, but watched without so much as lifting an arm in defense as Ward ran right past him. It was emblematic of a team that knew it was beaten and just wanted the game to be over long before it actually was. Read more…
Yup, Greg Oden hurt his foot less than three minutes into his first regular season game against the Lakers. That’s not a punchline to a joke, but the sad truth. He played through the first half before throwing in the towel. ESPN.COM reports that Oden suffered a mid-foot sprain, which sounds like a made up injury you would use to get out of work, but apparently you can get if you are made out of peanut brittle.
Not that Oden was tearing the joint up. His stat line for the game: 0-4 from the field and five rebounds in 13 minutes. Which puts him about on par with the rest of the Blazers, as they were thumped by Los Angeles 96-76. As for Oden…he has a trip to the MRI machine scheduled for later today, or as he calls it, “The Mother Ship.”
Having a much better NBA debut was Derrick Rose, who scored 11 points and had nine assists as the Bulls stuck it to their ex-coach Scott Skiles by beating the Bucks 108-95. Meanwhile, that clanging you heard in Boston was LeBron James rattling free throws all over the place against the Celtics. He missed four of eight free throws, all in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland fell 90-85.
Here’s some more of last night’s news, but be forewarned: Bud Selig says that he has the power to suspend this after six links.
- CBS analyst Gary Danielson thinks that Texas runs a “junk offense” and that Georgia’s Matthew Stafford would be putting up Colt McCoy-type numbers in that offense, says the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. No SEC homerism there at all.
- The man who saved the NBA during the lockout in 1999, according to the DETROIT NEWS? Not David Stern. Not Billy Hunter? Nope, it was Michael Curry.
- Relax, says the DENTON RECORD-CHRONICLE: it turns out that those 15 North Texas football players tested positive for recreational drugs, not steroids. Which is great, because we wouldn’t want their run at an 0-12 season to be tainted.
- The AP has a tip for Eli Manning - don’t let the defense read your lips when you call a play on fourth down. It kind of helps them know what to do.
- The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS estimates that only 20,000 people will be on hand to see Stanford take on Washington State this Saturday, even though the Cardinal are 3-0 at home this year and fighting for a bowl berth.
- Even after having beaten the Chargers in a thriller on Sunday, the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE says that Saints coach Sean Payton was less than thrilled with the experience of playing in London.
- The BOSTON GLOBE reports that Patriots’ nose tackle Vince Wilfork is going to be getting called to the Principal’s office - in this case NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - for his blow to the head of Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler. Wait, I thought the Patriots were perfect schoolboys who never, ever committed any penalties?
- Will the expansion Seattle Sounders get more from signing Swedish star Freddie Ljungberg than the LA Galaxy did from David Beckham? Arash Markashi of SI.COM thinks so.
- Why would Isiah Thomas apparently continue to lie about his alleged sleeping pill overdose? The local police chief speculates to NEWSDAY it might be because of his contract. “If he takes drugs or whatever they may not owe him the $18 million. I have no idea.”
- Remember when Joe Tiller said that Rich Rodriguez was a “snake oil salesman” after Purdue lost a big recruit to Michigan? The DETROIT FREE-PRESS says that there’s really no bad blood there. Really.