Crabtree To Start For 49ers Sunday … Wait, What?

So Mike Singletary all but confirmed to the SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT that Michael Crabtree would start against the Texans on Sunday. This was a ludicrous notion as recently as 12 hours ago, when Crabs was still wearing the helmet seen below so that teammates could identify him.

Michael Crabtree

Also potentially troubling to 49ers fans: Their team’s playbook evidently can be learned with one night of light cramming. But here’s the lost amazing part of this tale. Crabtree hung around team headquarters over the bye weekend being tutored by fellow receiver Josh Morgan. In other words, Morgan helped Crabtree take his job.

I thought I lived in a land where giant-egoed Terrell Owenses, and Braylon Edwardses roamed in great wide receiver herds, chewing up all the attention and playing time for themselves. Morgan is an entirely different animal indeed. Read more…

Spotting-a-Liar-101: People Who Say ‘I Never Lie’

Deion Sanders appeared on NFL Network today to talk about his involvement with now-suspended Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant and his possible role in tampering with now-49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. Sanders was in rehearsed, hyper-defensive mode, which made for a plethora of unintentionally hilarious moments.

(Watch entire interview here)

Early sampling:

NFL Network interviewer Jason La Canfora to Sanders: He’s (Bryant) ineligible because he lied (to the NCAA) about what when on in your house.”

Sanders: “(interrupts) No, no, he’s not ineligible because of what went on in my house, he’s ineligible because he lied.


Sanders was sure to mention that Oklahoma State approached him about “mentoring” Bryant: “When I first started mentoring Dez, the first thing I did was call his receivers coach. His receivers coach told me everything about Dez. … So we have an ongoing relationship.”

Now, if Sanders is so close with Bryant’s position coach, why doesn’t he name that coach? Maybe, perhaps because that coach, the much-traveled and since-departed Trooper Taylor, wasn’t exactly on head coach’s Mike Gundy’s Christmas card list when he left? (That’s what sources have told SbB.)


Sanders: “Now the problem was, someone, um, they wanted to question Dez about our relationship, and Dez was nervous about — Why these NCAA people have me in this room with a closed door, questioning me? Now, had I been liar, or falsified any incident or evidence, my story would have collaborated with Dez. We talked three times a week and they didn’t, because I don’t lie, and the kid said he didn’t come to my home, and in actuality, he did.”

La Canfora: “In terms of your dealings with him though, the fact that Dez lied, does that go against what you told him? (Deion: ‘Yes”) And did you have a chance to intervene before he spoke to the NCAA and say hey man (Deion: ‘No) you have to tell the whole truth?”

Sanders: “I don’t have to prepare a person to tell the whole truth. The truth is what it is, so the fact that he got nervous and falsified the truth, he had thought he had done something wrong. When there’s somebody there, ‘Were you at the house of Deion Sanders? Were you there were you there?’ The kid got nervous, and I don’t know why he falsified the truth, but I must … if I was a liar, my story would have collaborated with his. Just think about that.”

Collaborated or corraborated?

And now the surest way to spot a liar: find the guy who says he never lies. Read more…

49ers Formally Present Our Hero, Michael Crabtree

We covered all the bases on the Michael Crabtree signing yesterday, but I had to show you this photo from today’s 49ers press conference. The look on Mike Singletary’s face; the No. 15 practice jersey (sponsored by Visa!); the aw-shucks demeanor that belies a 71-day holdout. It’s all there. I smell Super Bowl!

Mike Singletary, Michael Crabtree

That is officially the most hilarious photo I’ve seen this week. And following the jump, an actual shot of Crabtree catching an NFL pass. And you thought you’d never see that. Plus some yummy Crabtree quotes, and when Singletary expects him to make his game debut. Read more…

49ers Sign Crabtree With Help Of ’80s Hip Hop Star

Sometime early this morning in a San Francisco hotel suite, with FOX SPORTS’ Jay Glazer lurking outside behind a large potted plant, the 49ers and receiver Michael Crabtree finally came to terms. First a “Seinfield” reunion, and now this? What miracle will God next bestow?

Michael Crabtree

First of all I’d like to thank the St. Louis Rams for making this all possible. Without your suckitude, the 49ers would not have scored a convincing 35-0 victory on Sunday, thus going to 3-1 and forcing Crabtree to realize that, as George Costanza would say, he has “no hand.” Also, what popular ’80s hip hop star inexplicably showed up at the negotiations with Crabtree? The answer of course is … Read more…

Lou Holtz Has Some Advice For Michael Crabtree

The scene: Lou Holtz’s office. Michael Crabtree knocks, and opens the door. LOU: “Ah, the pizza is here. Finally.” MICHAEL: “No, it’s me, Mr. Holtz. Michael Crabtree.” LOU: “You were wise to come to me, son. Please, sit down.” (There are no chairs in the office; only a tackling sled and a bowl of walnuts). LOU (still wearing bib from lunch): “Now what seems to be the problem, Matthew?”

Lou Holtz

The problem of course, is that the 49ers are 1-0, and Crabtree is still as far from being a 49er this season as Jerry Rice. In fact, as the ex-Texas Tech receiver’s holdout enters Week 71 (actual facts may vary), there’s talk of him sitting out two seasons before reentering the draft (which he’d have to do before being eligible for free agency).

Our favorite neighborhood coaching TV pundit thinks that’s crazy talk, of course. See the video below, in which Holtz addresses the whole mess in response to a question by Crabtree himself. Read more…

Speed Read: Cutler Crappy As Packers Stuff Bears

It’s been a while since the Bears have had a good quarterback. And it’s a shame, considering they’ve had some pretty good teams that were ultimately sabotaged by guys like Jim Miller and Rex Grossman. So we all know what a huge relief it was for the people of Chicago that they finally would have a real, legitimate star under center.

Jay Cutler

So, anyone missing Orton yet? In what is always a monumental game for the Bears, Jay Cutler was Brian Griese-esque as he threw four interceptions in a 21-15 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau Field. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s David Haugh says that Cutler wasn’t exactly keeping a cool head while everything crumbled around him:

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We Have A Crabtree Sighting … Seymour? Um, No

So Michael Crabtree is perfectly healthy and working out in the San Francisco Bay Area, playing catch in an undisclosed location with Trent Dilfer. Hmm, is that in itself cause for alarm?

Michael Crabtree, Richard Seymour

More importantly: Could the 49ers’ reticent No. 1 draft pick be on the verge of caving in and accepting the team’s offer? Playing catch in Dilfer’s Santa Cruz backyard — when you live in Texas — are not exactly the actions of a man preparing for a six-month holdout. Meanwhile, the nearby Oakland Raiders are asking the musical question, where the %$&! is Richard Seymour?!?!

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Speed Read: Chris Rock Stands Up For Mike Vick

So Michael Vick is seeking salvation, but what will it take to wash away his sins? I’ve seen enough Lassie movies to know that the dog always triumphs in the end, while the mean puppy mill owner is hauled off to jail, then on to eternal obscurity. Or, in this case, to “60 Minutes,” where Vick will appear on Sunday in his latest attempt to rehabilitate his image. Hey, where’s the remote? Patches! Bad dog!

Michael Vick, Chris Rock

Vick’s goodwill welcome-me-back-to-non-dog-electrocuting-society tour hit kind of a snag last week, when he told some kids that “other people” were responsible for him going to prison. He’s hoping to repair that damage on Sunday, when he chats with James Brown about his future in the NFL, his past, and whatever else comes up. In discussing the interview with “NFL Total Access,” Brown said that he asked Vick repeatedly if he had remorse, and that Vick “answered the question very sincerely,” and was “very steadfast in answering the question,” whatever that means.

It sounds like we’ll get no more information on Vick’s true feelings than we would at a typical Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing, so I probably won’t tune in. Meanwhile, PRO FOOTBALL TALK is reporting that Vick is so sure of landing with an NFL team this season that he’s refusing to take a backup role. PFT surmises that there are at least 12 NFL teams which could benefit by installing Vick as their starter. The question is, would any of them accept his baggage? Tony Dungy says he should be signed within a week.

Then we have comedian Chris Rock, who thinks that the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. “Everybody Hates Michael?” Rock talked about Vick on Dan Patrick’s radio show on Wednesday.

“Dogfighting’s very prevalent in the South,” Rock said. Rock also pointed out that we hunt, and many people consider that wrong. “Why is a dog so much better than a deer?” Rock asked. “I see no difference between a dog and a deer.”

Rock said look at marijuana … it’s illegal now, but who knows. “In our lifetime, pot will be legal,” Rock said. “I don’t think marijuana is any different than selling beer,” Rock said. “We know there’s more deaths related to alcohol than marijuana.”

Rock said the NFL doesn’t care about animal rights. That’s not what this is about. “The ball is made of pigskin,” Rock said. “They don’t care about animals.”

I’m pretty sure that footballs are made from leather, and that none of the cows were forced to fight to the death before being slaughtered. But Rock’s point has been brought up by others, — I know that Whoopi Goldberg has also said it — that Vick should get a pass because dog fighting isn’t seen as bad in some neighborhoods; especially in the south. Hey, he grew up that way.

But we’re all conditioned by the environments we grew up in. We don’t become adults, and society doesn’t move forward, until we stand up and decide for ourselves what’s right and wrong. Otherwise we’re just half-naked children chasing the pig with spears in “Lord of the Flies,” or, you know, disrupting town hall health care meetings on marching orders from Glenn Beck.

Hmm, given that, one wonders what Rock thought of the first O.J. Simpson verdict — was he in the “O.J. was innocent” crowd? Apparently not — in the intro to the DVD of his “Chris Rock Show” on HBO, circa 1998, he proved himself ahead of his time. One of the bits featured an O.J. Simpson video entitled “I Didn’t Kill My Wife, But If I Did, Here’s How I Did It.” O.J. himself would try to market a similarly-titled book in 2006.

Michael Crabtree

As the San Francisco 49ers approach their preseason opener, the Michael Crabtree standoff only gets uglier. He’s missed 22 practices so far, if you’re counting, and I was going to use a Branch Davidian comparison, but I’m told that’s in poor taste. So let’s say that the Texas Tech receiver’s refusal to accept the money the team is offering is like Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon,” demanding pizzas and a jet to South America before he’ll release the hostages. You know it’s never going to happen, but Crabtree has taken it this far, and he has to play it out ’til the end.

What numbers are we talking about? The Raiders’ Darrius Heyward-Bey, the first receiver taken in the draft (No. 7 overall), got $38 million ($23.5 million guaranteed), and Crabtree wants at least that. His agent, Eugene Parker, said that his client will sit out the season if necessary. That’s an idle threat; even if the 49ers don’t give in, Crabtree will show up once he starts missing paychecks. But forget about seeing him in the preseason, and probably for the opener at Arizona. Parker is establishing his own tough-guy negotiating status, and there’s no way he’s going to cave now. The thing is, neither side is in any sort of a rush. Crabtree isn’t especially jacked about catching passes from Shaun Hill or Alex Smith, neither of whom will probably be around next season anyway. And the 49ers consider themselves flush with receivers even without Crabtree.

For their part, the 49ers coaching staff is willing to forgive and forget, if and when Crabtree shows up.

“Obviously, he’s missing an opportunity to join his teammates to bond and learn what we are doing,” offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said. “It’s a detriment at this point, but we’ll embrace him when he comes. It’s not him. It’s the business that he’s involved in. When he gets that fixed, then we’ll fix him.”

Crabtree, however, didn’t forsee this: He could be playing in the 49ers’ new version of the Wildcat offense, which Raye has dubbed The Taser. I’m not sure who is going to end up crying “Don’t taze me, bro!” — the opposition, or the 49ers themselves. But it should make for some fun headlines.

Hopefully Crabtree took some time out last night to gaze at the sky and view the Perseids Meteor Shower, the heavens’ way of reminding us just how insignificant we really are. Your agent may tell you that you’re worth many millions more than that NFL team is willing to pay, but just remember that God is watching, and at any moment he might throw a big space rock right at your head to keep you humble. That’s what meteors are; purpose pitches from The Lord. And meteors are just the pesky brushback variety; there’s also killer asteroids out there. Just last month an asteroid hit Jupiter and created an earth-sized hole that is still spreading, and no one saw it coming. If that rock had been on a trajectory toward earth instead, by the time we saw it it would have been too late to do anything about it. Something like that would stop the Patriots’ next run at a 19-0 season right quick.

Of course it’s all a moot point anyway, because what leading astronomers fail to tell you is that Mark Mangino is on a collision course with Earth, and if their calculations are correct, will smash into our planet before the year is out. The Kansas football coach has become so large that his orbit is decaying, and there’s not much we can do to avoid total devastation. This leaves precious little time for Tim Tebow to lose his virginity, have a baby, and then send that child into space on a rocket ship to escape our doomed world. Of course that baby will eventually become a Superman on another planet.

Today’s links contain dangerous moving parts; please use extreme caution.

Shane Victorino

  • Overshadowing Pedro Martinez’s winning effort in his return with the Phillies on Wednesday was this unfortunate incident, as Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino is doused with beer while trying to catch a fly ball at Wrigley Field. What really made the incident full of Fail was Cubs security’s inability to catch the perpetrator — they ejected the wrong fan from the game, even though TV replays showed the real beer thrower celebrating his deed with other fans. Lou Piniella apologized to the Phillies for the incident, and now the police are even involved. Stay classy, Cubs fans. Here’s the video:

  • Billie Jean King was awarded the Medal of Freedom at the White House on Wednesday, and all went well except for the statistics. The economy may be on the rise, but President Obama was bearish on King’s career numbers. “They didn’t get any of my facts right,” King lightheartedly noted afterward. “Did you see all the … how many titles I won? I was cracking up. Not even in the ballpark.” Obama said that King had won 12 Grand Slam titles. In reality, she’s won 12 Grand Slam singles titles (that’s where the confusion lies), 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles — 39 in all. “I thought it was adorable,” she said. “That’s not what’s important. I go, ‘Oh that’s really sweet.’ Like, just move on, get off the tennis stuff. Tennis was a platform.” 
  • How can the NFL fine thee? Let Chris Cooley count the ways. The Redskins receiver took time out from blowing things up recently to let folks know via his blog what the league is docking players these days for rules infractions. Sample: It’ll cost you $5,000 if your pants don’t cover your knees; if you’re wearing the wrong nasal strip; or if your hand towel is longer than eight inches, or has tape on it.  Playing with your chinstrap undone will cost you $7,500. And it’s a $10,000 fine for wearing non-Reebok brand apparel 90 minutes previous to and following a game, or for wearing a tinted visor without a doctor’s note. In the comments section, a helpful reader let him know that the fines are tax deductible.


  • And now it’s psycho fan time here at Speed Read, with today’s psycho fan coming from Bolivia. The South American Cup match between Blooming of Bolivia and River Plate of Uruguay was abandoned, as they say, when a fan invaded the field and attacked River Plate’s Henry Gimenez with a knife during the 65th minute. Once the game was called, angry Blooming fans pelted the pitch with flares and other objects, injuring at least one person, suddenly making a knife-wielding maniac seem quaint and benign.
  • In case you’re wondering what Ken Griffey Jr. has been up to lately, he lined a single off the right-field wall in the 14th inning on Wednesday to end the longest non-scoring game in Mariners history, 1-0 over the White Sox.
  • SF manager Bruce Bochy and bench coach Ron Wotus were both ejected — Bochy’s second ejection in three days — as the Giants beat the Dodgers 4-2 in 10 innings on Wednesday. The game also included a benches-clearing brawl mixer after San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval objected to being grazed by a James McDonald pitch in the fifth (which the home plate umpire failed to notice hitting Sandoval at all).
  • The International Olympic Committee selected golf and rugby today for proposed inclusion in the 2016 Summer Games, rejecting bids from baseball, softball and three other sports, among them squash. Rugby was last an Olympic sport in 1924. Tiger Woods says he’s ready to play (golf, not rugby).

Should Michael Vick get a pass because he grew up in a neighborhood where dog fighting was considered normal?

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Speed Read: The End Of The Road For Smoltz?

One of the sadder sights in sports is watching a legend come to a realization that, despite still having the desire and the will, they just don’t have it anymore. You could see it in John Smoltz‘ eyes when he was staring blankly out of the Red Sox dugout last night, stewing in the crushing reality of getting battered by the Yankees for eight runs and nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings of a 13-6 loss.

John Smoltz

It was the first time the Yankees have beaten the Sox this year, and maybe the last time we’ll see Smoltz on the mound. He’s now 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. He’s given up at least five runs in six of his eight starts. He has zero quality starts and hasn’t gone more than six innings in any game. More importantly, he’s pitching for a team that’s struggling to stay ahead in the wild card race and can’t afford to give the guy charity starts, even if he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. In some ways, it’s probably better to be Tom Glavine — a guy who wanted to go out on different terms but might be better off that he didn’t have to go out this way.

As for the Sox, it can’t be good knowing that you’ve won eight of nine from your biggest rivals and you’re still 3 1/2 games out of first. The Yankees are 10 1/2 games better than the Sox in games in which they haven’t played each other. And with A-Rod back in the lineup, it’s hard to see the Sox winning eight of the next nine the teams play. In fact, the Yankees haven’t seemed so in control of the AL East since 2006. And any time you have Muhammad Ali wearing your cap in the stands, that can’t hurt:

Muhammad Ali Yankee hat

And now, I bring you what may turn out to be the lamest sports feud ever. Seems that former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent has drawn the ire of John McEnroe’s father (who also happens to be named John McEnroe). To the point where the elder McEnroe felt compelled to write a letter to the PALM BEACH POST about a column Vincent wrote that was supposed to be a tribute to Walter Cronkite. Yes, the combined age of the people involved in this dispute is about 341 years (and one of them’s dead!).

Fay Vincent

(A fine baseball historian, but a total hack when it comes to tennis)

Vincent’s original column was a nod to a comment Cronkite supposedly made after the senior McEnroe was seen shouting at CBS president Tom Wyman because a network cameraman accidentally ran onto the court to capture the end of the 1985 US Open Final a point early:

Mr. Cronkite and I had sat silently through all this, but with Wyman’s explanation, the cultured and civil Cronkite whispered in my ear, “Fay, a real block off the old chip.” I laughed loudly and told him he had it just right.

For many years after, whenever I saw Cronkite at a gathering or in a restaurant I always made it a point to remind him of the event and to congratulate him for such a perfect and witty comment. Interestingly, he always admitted he remembered.

Somehow I recall Cronkite more fondly and respectfully than I do either of the two McEnroes. By the way, the father was a successful partner in a major New York law firm.

Old Mac isn’t having any of that noise.

John P. McEnroe

(”You cannot be serious, Fay!”)

Quoth Mac Sr.:

I write in response to Fay Vincent’s recent column, which centered on a comment from Walter Cronkite and involved my son and me. He recalls sitting next to Walter Cronkite and Tom Wyman, president of CBS, at an unidentified final match at the U.S. Tennis Open. I held Mr. Vincent’s tenure as the commissioner of Major League Baseball in high esteem, but must reconsider after reading his unflattering and virtually totally inaccurate account.

BOOM! Take that, Vincent. I bet you’ll think twice the next time you consider spinning a yarn about the 1985 US Open final like nobody’s gonna call you on your bullcrap. In McEnroe’s defense, it appears as if Vincent completely botched not only the most basic aspects of the match (for example, he contends that the younger McEnroe dispatched of Ivan Lendl easily when Lendl actually won in straight sets). But McEnroe’s real anger is directed at Vincent’s accusation that he directed a profane tirade at Wyman. He then goes on to essentially say that Vincent made up the “block off the old chip” quote and even gets in this weird comment about Cronkite:

Personally, I had two brief encounters with Walter Cronkite over the years. The first was in the men’s room at the Yale Bowl one year at halftime of the Yale-Harvard game where we briefly spoke (but did not shake hands). A similar incident happened in the men’s room at a Manhattan restaurant a few months later and I said something like “we have to stop meeting like this,” at which he chuckled and agreed.

It’s a shame Cronkite isn’t around anymore, if for no other reason than the inevitable “I’m pretty sure we shook hands” rebuttal that would’ve been in the paper on Monday.

grumpy old men

Andre Ethier hit his third walk-off homer of the season last night against the Braves. By comparison, Ichiro has one walk-off hit in nine years.

• The Patriots have acquired Raiders holdout Derrick Burgess, who led the NFL in sacks four years ago.

• Remember when Freddy Adu was a big deal? 19-year-old American soccer phenom Jozy Altidore has joined English Premier League team Hull City, and should be in their lineup for the opener against Chelsea next week.

Jozy Altidore

• YAHOO!’s Dan Wetzel has an interesting take on the Michael Crabtree situation (which we covered yesterday), specifically on the notion that Crabtree is trying to negotiate based on where he was going in mock drafts, and not the actual one.

• THE WIZ OF ODDS says sports betting is back on again in Delaware.

• Hockey season may seem far away now, but those Red Hot Flames will make the wait a little more palatable. I’m guessing that what happens at the 0:55 mark won’t be included in the montage at Brett Hull’s Hall of Fame induction:

Julio Castillo, the minor-league pitcher who was convicted of assault for throwing a ball into the stands last year, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation yesterday.

• As a huge Guided By Voices fan, I have to tip my cap to WALKOFF WALK for building a post around comparing Robert Pollard and Roger Clemens.

• Topps has signed an exclusive deal with MLB to become the sole licensed manufacturer of baseball cards starting next season. This comes as quite a shock to those of us who thought they stopped making baseball cards in 1991.

John Hughes hadn’t directed a movie in 18 years, but his death is still a shock to any of us who grew up in the ’80s. He had his hand in a few clunkers over the years, but where would any of us be today without Ferris Bueller or The Breakfast Club? How would we know how to properly chatter?

Should the Red Sox give John Smoltz another start?

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Ex-MLBer’s Ex-Wife Offering Herself as an Escort?

• The career route of Troy O’Leary’s ex-wife Annette: From elementary school assistant principal to escort-for-hire?

Annette Gray OLeary

Maurice Clarett decides he needs to spend more time in prison.

• A Rays fan takes a 40-foot drop at the Trop from an escalator.

• Hey, you Ole Miss Rebels - Mississippi State’s got two words for ya.

• The Titans will wear a special helmet decal in honor of the late Steve McNair. But some Tennessee fans aren’t so touched by the tribute.

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