Speed Read: Steelers Salvage Opening Night Win

If anyone wanted to know the difference between college football and the NFL, you just needed to watch the two games last night. (At least the two that anyone cared about - sorry, Florda A&M at Winston-Salem State on ESPNU.) If you like offense, crazy plays and wild comebacks, then the Clemson at Georgia Tech game was for you. But if you prefer low-scoring, hard-hitting football that’s kind of not very exciting until the final five minutes, then the NFL kickoff game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee was for you. (Sorry, is my bias showing?)

Steelers vs Titans

First let’s talk about the Steelers’ 13-10 overtime victory. Plainly put, Pittsburgh had no reason to win this game. They could not run the ball, gaining a whopping 33 yards. (Note to the guy in my fantasy league bragging about “stealing” Rashard Mendenhall: eat it.) And between Jeff Reed almost shanking the game-tying 32-yard field goal into the offensive line’s backsides and Hines Ward fumbling after a reception took him inside the Titans’ five with a minute to go, they were teetering on disaster. Read more…

Did Steelers Blood Dope Before The Super Bowl?

A currently unregulated medical procedure done by a handful of athletes is being put under a little scrutiny. It’s a procedure that does exactly what Human Growth Hormone allegedly has done for MLB stars: it dramatically speeds up recovery from injury. And it’s a procedure that two Pittsburgh Steelers in particular apparently did two weeks before the Super Bowl.

hines ward steelers media day super bowl

(Hines Ward at the Super Bowl: Brought to you by PPT.)

According to a story in THE NEW YORK TIMES by Alan Schwarz, Steelers stars Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu both used a controversial procedure called Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy before last month’s Big Game. What does PPT do, you ask? Well, when the platelet-rich blood is re-injected into an injured region of the player’s body, it speeds up the healing process and, in some cases, may even allow them to avoid surgery.

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Speed Read: LeBron’s Turn To Shred The Knicks

You have to give Mike D’Antoni credit for trying something innovative, even if it didn’t work out. For the second straight game, the New York Knicks rolled out their “Box and Zero” defense, which essentially challenges the other team’s best player to beat them by refusing to cover him under any circumstances. But just like against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Monday night, somehow it didn’t work out against the Cavaliers either.

LeBron James vs Knicks

Actually, I’m not sure what defense D’Antoni had his team running the last two games, but “none” comes to mind: a game after giving up 61 points to Bryant, the Knicks did the impossible: made another superstar have an even more incredible performance, as LeBron James scored 52 points in the Cavaliers’ 107-102 victory and became the first NBA player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to score 50+ points as part of a triple-double.

LeBron James vs Knicks

James also joined Michael Jordan as the only players to have multiple 50 points games in the new Madison Square Garden. Any time you’re mentioned in the same breath as Kareem and Jordan, you are doing something right. And did I mention that this was the tail end of a back-to-back? And that the Cavaliers were without three of their players due to injury and illness?

And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t get any easier for the Knicks. Their next opponent to come into the Garden? The Boston Celtics on Friday night. I can’t imagine what Kevin Garnett could possibly do to upstage Kobe and LeBron - perhaps pick Nate Robinson up and slam him through the basket while clutching the ball?

Raiders running back Justin Fargas wasn’t breaking any records last night, unless it was “Stupidest Appearance in a Hip-Hop Video.” Because if you are an NFL player, and you know the league is on the warpath about its image and substance abuse, I would think that appearing in a video with someone called “Yukman” as he smokes a blunt that would make Cheech & Chong quiver in their tie-dyes isn’t such a great idea.

But PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that’s exactly what Fargas did. And honestly, are we shocked by this? Not that an NFL player would be so brazen about assoicating with potheads, but that it would be Fargas. I mean, his dad was Huggy Bear, for crying out loud.  Just look at his dad:

Antonio Fargas

Being shocked that his son is involved with marijuana is like being shocked that one of Bob Marley’s kids has a taste for the ganja. The video is up at WORLD STAR HIP HOP: go grab some Fritos and see it yourself.

While you pick the seeds out of your buds, here’s some more sports wackness from last night:

What was the single greatest performance at the new Madison Square Garden?

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The People Of China All Agree: “Let’s Go Steelers”

I know the Pittsburgh Steelers have fans everywhere, but this is starting to get a little bit ridiculous. Steeler Nation has now apparently reached all the way into another nation - China.

Chinese Steelers fans

And, being China, it wouldn’t be proper to root for anything unless several thousand people were doing it in unison. That’s just how they roll. So get ready to cue this up, Pittsburghers, when your boys take on the Titans on Sunday.

(Video after the jump.)

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Speed Read: 24 Hours Of (Mostly) Lousy Hoops

So, did you survive ESPN’s 24 Hour College Basketball Orgy 2008? For the most part, it was a Marathon of Blowouts - nothing gets me pumped up for the season like watching a quality team like Baylor blow out some scrubs like Centenary. Or, like watching a powerhouse like North Carolina destroy an obviously outmatched and undermanned opponent like Kentucky.

Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie

Ah yes, the Wildcats - first another embarrassing loss to a non-conference minnow (VMI in 2008 replacing Gardner-Webb from 2007) and now a shellacking on national TV against North Carolina without the services of Tyler Hansbrough. Maybe it’s not enough for Kentucky fans to be sending “We’re Sorry We Ran You Out Of Town” cards to Tubby Smith, but head coach Billy Gillispie has got to be feeling more and more heat every day.

Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin

The game of the night was on opposite the Wildcats’ mauling, and featured a pair of preseason All-Americans in Davidson’s Stephen Curry and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin.  And for once the game and the key players lived up to the hype: Curry scored a career-high 44 to (almost) lead the Wildcats back from a 21-point hole, but Griffin’s 25 points and 21 rebounds were enough for the Sooners to survive, 82-78.

Meanwhile, in the world where they pay you to play basketball (up front), the Lakers kept their dream of 81-1 alive by turning back the Bulls 116-109. The hero? For once, it wasn’t Kobe Bryant but Pau Gasol, who had an impressive 34 points on 14 of 21 shooting.

Other sports news that happened last night as you recovered from the shock of hearing a hoax that Miley Cyrus, like, had totally been killed in a car crash, and OMG you just had to go on MySpace with your friends to see if that had happened. LOL.

Which college basketball conference is the most overrated?

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Ward Makes Rookie RB’s Fumbles Uber Awkward

Rashard Mendenhall is a rookie, so fumbling is going to happen some. But he’s still a first-round draft pick and the purported goal-line RB for the Steelers, so it would be kinda nice for Pittsburgh fans if he wrapped it up (insert your own Lindsay Lohan joke here).

Mendenhall and Parker

Of course, all of this may explain why Hines Ward is giving the youngster a hard time. The PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE - REVIEW (via MONDESI’S HOUSE) carries the news that Ward put a football in Mendenhall’s locker which he has to carry around. If he loses the ball, he has to pay whoever took it $100. Sounds like fun times for rookie Rashard:

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Mike Ditka’s Restaurant Expanding Into Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh diners, better prepare yourself emotionally for mustache envy: Mike Ditka’s coming to town!

Mike Ditka Flipping the Bird

(Ditka passing in front of Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36)

Rumors are popping up that “Iron Mike” is getting ready to open the 3rd namesake restaurant in his very-slowly-expanding empire in Pittsburgh.

The PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW is reporting that the restaurant has been advertising for its first group of employees, even though no one’s exactly sure where the restaurant is going to be located.

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Blog-A-Rhythm: Getting Behind Beach Volleyball

• THE WORLD OF ISAAC gets to the bottom of their choices for the 10 best backsides in beach volleyball.

Brazil volleyball butt

• T.O.’s not the only receiver to bust his acting chops on the small screen, as MONDESI’S HOUSE tunes in to see Hines Ward guest star on a Korean TV show.

• And DEADSPIN catches fellow NFL star Matt Leinart hitting the game show circut - as the question to “Jeopardy’s” Final Answer.

• SPORTAPHILE rolls tape on a younger Bill O’Reilly approaching Chris Berman levels of off-the-air in-studio anger.

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Blog-O-Rama: Daniel Synder Is Al Davis Version 2.0

• SIGNAL TO NOISE believes Redskins owner Dan Snyder is the second coming of Al Davis.

Dan Snyder Al Davis

• Darren Rovell of CNBC bets how many times Peyton Manning’s name will be invoked at the Super Bowl.

• Meanwhile, BRAHSOME gambles on what tunes will be in Tom Petty’s halftime repetoire.

• BULLZ-EYE dribbles up a nice chat with Curly Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters.

• WITH LEATHER gets an eyeful of Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner posing nude.

Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner poses nude

• AOL FANHOUSE learns Gilbert Arenas is a big fan of Will Leitch’s new book.

• Michael Smith of ESPN rings up some stories behind certain Super Bowl jewelry.

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