Speed Read: Collapse Paralyzes Cowboy Staffer

Over the past week, the sports world has gone from a sadly predictable near-tragedy to a shockingly real one. While most NASCAR fans and drivers could have told you that a scene like Carl Edwards’ car almost flying into the packed stands at Talladega was almost inevitable, no one could have predicted what happened during a freak windstorm at the team’s practice facility on Saturday afternoon: the entire thing collapsed, trapping players, coaches, staff and media inside.

Cowboys Dome Collapse

When first reports came out about the accident on Saturday, it looked like any major injuries had been avoided. But Sunday brought additional news, and most of it not good: the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAPH says that scouting assistant Rich Behm has been paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident. Among the 11 other people who received medical attention, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered a broken vertebra but somehow was not paralyzed, while assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither has a broken right leg.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

And as horrific as the situation was, it apparently could have even been worse, if eyewitness reports from players and media members who were there for a rookie minicamp (welcome to the league, rooks). Such as former kicker and fifth-round draft pick David Buehler, who wound up with a concussion and various cuts and scrapes.

“My initial thought was, how many people are dead in this?” Buehler said tonight. “I thought I was the lucky one.”

(It should be noted that Buehler became the kicker at USC after incumbent Mario Danelo was killed in a drunken fall from a cliff after the 2007 Rose Bowl, so he’s seen enough football-related tragedies for his lifetime.)

Somehow Buehler suffered the most severe injuries of the players (I guess that armor does help), and many of the players acted as rescuers immediately after the collapse. Two players might have helped save DALLAS MORNING NEWS reporter Todd Archer from further injury after he was pinned down by falling debris:

Then I saw two pairs of cleats near me and two blue jerseys, so I knew they were defensive players. Later, I was told it was cornerback DeAngelo Smith and linebacker Brandon Williams. Eatman said Williams pushed him out of the way so he could help get me out.

With whatever was on me raised a few inches, I was able to turn on my back and inch my way out. I remember seeing players hurdle over pieces of the wreckage to make sure their teammates – strangers to most of them just a week ago – were all right.

I ran into the team’s Valley Ranch complex. Blood trickled down my right elbow. My right shin had some road rash. My left knee was sore, and as the time went by, my left shoulder and right ribs became sore.

It all took about 25 seconds, but it seemed much longer. 

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cut his trip to the Kentucky Derby short and returned Sunday morning to grimly look at the resulting carnage. As you could expect, OSHA is investigating; but while you might question the safety of having a 85,000 square-foot inflatable tent in an area hit by occasional huge thunderstorms, chances are this will be just an incredibly fluky situation that had tragic consequences.

Ducks vs Red Wings

Getting back to more positive news: I know it’s a cliche that there’s “nothing like playoff hockey,” and that’s a lie: mint chip ice cream is better than playoff hockey; finding “Caddyshack” on HBO at 3:30 a.m. when you can’t go sleep is right up there as well. But yesterday’s three-OT thriller between the Ducks and the Red Wings was a reminder: the Celtics vs. Bulls series had some great games, but no one does extra time like the NHL.

Why? Because of getting a set amount of time to complete a period, the end of an OT playoff game could come at any second, on a power play, shorthanded or completely against the run of play. It’s that “lightning in a bottle” moment that makes it so unique, and often times the game-winner comes from an unusual source.

On Sunday, that unlikely hero was Todd Marchant. The ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER says the third-oldest player on the team came through when it was needed, putting away a shot from the top of the face-off circle (after breaking up a Detroit rush) to give Anaheim a dramatic 4-3 three-OT road victory to level the series at 1-1.

Think about it: this game went three overtimes - and we’re not talking fake NBA five-minute OTs either, but honest-to-God 20-minute periods. Basically, the Ducks and the Red Wings played 2/3s of an extra game, but most casual fans are too jaded (and expect this every NHL playoff time) to appreciate it. Meanwhile, the Bulls and Celtics go three five-minute overtimes and everyone freaks out.

Tony Jackson

(Now-former Dodgers beat writer Tony Jackson, enjoying a power nap.)

Finally, in baseball news: for a fundamentally flawed team, the Dodgers sure do look pretty good. They beat San Diego 7-3 on Sunday, which the LOS ANGELES TIMES says is their franchise-record 10th straight home win to start the season. Not bad for a team that supposedly lacks the pitching depth to be a contender. Now if there was only more than one beat writer covering the team.

  • Take a deep breath, Red Sox fans: the BOSTON GLOBE say popular commentator and former second baseman Jerry Remy has Twittered (does everyone Twitter?) that he missed the four-game series with the Rays as a precaution, and should be back in the booth soon.
  • Jerry Remy

  • New York Islanders owner Charles Wang tells NEWSDAY that he “regrets” buying the team nine years later. I guess looking at putting $23 million a year into the team with no hope of a new arena in sight will do that to you. What’s the return policy on a broken NHL franchise, anyway?
  • Another week, another Tiger Woods final round falling flat. The NEW YORK TIMES says he shot a 72 on Sunday, finishing two shots back of winner Sean O’Hair at the Quail Hollow Championships in Charlotte, NC. Can we just revoke this bum’s Tour Card now?
  • The SOUTHTOWN STAR says that 19 players from the St. Rita baseball team in suburban Chicago were suspended from their game on Wednesday against De La Salle. Their crime? Stopping to get breakfast after a TV taping for WGN. It’s not their fault Waffle House is so deliciously tempting!
  • For anyone looking to get into the endless grind that is sports talk radio, JOURNALISM JOBS says the Jim Rome Show is looking for a writer. You’re telling me that his riffs aren’t all off the cuff? Rack him!!! Also valuable skills for the job: having a take, not sucking.
  • Former Arsenal and Barcelona soccer star Marc Overmars came out of retirement four years ago to help Go Ahead Eagles -  the club he started his career with and is currently director of - try to make the Dutch first division. After snapping his leg in a game this weekend, OFF THE POST says he probably wishes he had stayed in the boardroom:

  • Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf tells the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS that he has “no comment” on rumors about Brett Favre coming to the team, but that “we’re always improving“. Translation: get ready for FavreWatch 2009 any day now.
  • No matter your personal political beliefs, we can all agree that anyone from Alaska is just too goofy to be near the Presidency. Case in point: the AP says that two people have won an annual betting contest and will split a jackpot of almost $284,000. What were they guessing? When the ice on the Tanana River would crack. Nope, no excess pork spending getting into the economy here.
  • While the Ducks and Red Wings were having a mini-marathon game yesterday afternoon, MLB.COM says the Mariners and A’s were doing the same thing, with Seattle gutting out an 8-7 win in 15 innings after having to rally from three runs down in the 13th to tie the score. These guys can’t possibly be for real, right?
  • The NEW YORK TIMES says that owners of Kentucky Derby-winner Mine That Bird will now “listen to the horse” to decide if it runs in the Preakness Stakes. Guys, I’m pretty sure the horse is going to answer no, or at least “neigh!” I’ll be here all week, folks!

Which “historic” sporting event is the most overhyped and overrated?

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Speed Read: Thabeet Survives, UConn Doesn’t

It was billed as the biggest face off between supreme big men we’ll see all season, but it never materialized. Instead, Pittsburgh’s first-ever win over a No. 1 team devolved into a one-man gun show, with DeJuan Blair scoring 22 points and pulling down a career-high 23 rebounds in front of 7-foot-3 UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, proving that you don’t always have to be the tallest player to have the biggest impact.

hasheem thabeet

(Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.)

In fact, Blair proved that you don’t even have to be the strongest, though he probably is. Really, you just need to get the other guy in foul trouble.

Thabeet was never a factor because he was constantly in foul trouble. He picked up a third foul early in the second half, then exited halfway through the latter frame with a cheap fourth foul while tussling with Blair. In fact, he had nearly as many fouls as points; the African export finished with a measly five points. The Pitt power forward, meanwhile, took an elbow straight to the eye, continued to stick his butt out to box out for rebounds and eventually finished with an NBA-Draft making performance and a puffy eye to show for it.

As much as the win may resonate with the NCAA Tournament Committee, it’ll linger longer in imaginations because of one play early on. With the game’s momentum still being fleshed out, Thabeet tried to reach over Blair for a rebound. Instead of getting the ball, he got a WWE-style takedown, complete with an awkward painful landing and amazement that his arm didn’t rip out of its socket. In fact, we’re still stunned that his shoulder is in one piece.

Sam Young also had 25 points for Pitt, proving that the trick to beating UConn, even with Thabeet a clear standard-setter among the country’s blocked shot stars, is to pound the ball inside. Forget that UConn lost perimeter stalwart Jerome Dyson to a season-ending knee injury. Just pump the ball inside.

Well, we can all say goodbye to the “Brett Favre to the Vikings” storyline. According to a pretty reliable source — Vikings owner Zygi Wilf — Favre won’t be playing in Minnesota next season.

“I would have been interested 15 years ago,” Wilf said. “No, I’m not interested. No way. I think he’s done well, he retired, it’s good. He’s a great guy. I’m just happy that we don’t have to keep on facing him.”

Look, we all knew that the Jets thought he was washed up, and clearly the entirety of the knee-jerk New York media did, too. But Zygi Wilf insinuating that Favre is a full 15 years beyond his prime? That’s kind of harsh, don’t you think? Especially for a team that seems like a likely landing spot for recently non-tendered free agent Jeff Garcia. Think about it: Favre is done at age 39 (going on 40) but Garcia can still play a week before his 39th birthday? All quarterbacks are not created equally, and we, for one group, have never been willing to put Garcia in the Favre category.

brett favre retires

(Sorry Peter King, no Vikings comeback.)

People keep throwing Alex Rodriguez under the bus after his steroid revelations, with Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer the most recent to call any validity thrown his way into question. More interesting, however, has been the reaction of managers and players alike to call for even harsher penalties for positive tests as the sport moves forward.

David Ortiz training

(Big Papi: Steroids = missed year.)

That’s exactly what both David Ortiz and Ozzie Guillen did on Monday, which is interesting since both allegedly are friends of A-Rod (can we call them FOARs from now on?). Ortiz offered particularly strong statements when asked about how he would fix the game by ESPN’s roving baseball Larry King figure, Peter Gammons.

“I would suggest everybody get tested, not random, everybody,” he said. “You go team by team. You test everybody three, four times a year and that’s about it.”

And if a player tests positive for steroids?

“Ban ‘em for the whole year,” he said. “I think you clean up the game by the testing. I know that if I test positive by using any kind of substance, I know that I’m going to disrespect my family, the game, the fans and everybody, and I don’t want to be facing that situation. So what would I do? I won’t use it, and I’m pretty sure that everybody is on the same page,” he said.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? So will it happen? Not a chance. Even if Bud Selig pushed the absolute limit of his authority (and we’ve seen the limits of that in the past week) to get the change through, there’s little to no chance the MLB Players Association would give in to the demands in the middle of a renegotiated collective bargaining agreement that already includes penalties which are harsher than they want. And all they have to do to ram home the possibility of gross inequity is cite J.C. Romero’s current grievance. Suddenly, an entire year for an accidental GNC purchase makes Major League Baseball look preposterously over-aggressive.

arod banquet

(Hey, he’d have more time for banquets with a year off.)

There’s no safe zone here for baseball, and while that’s sad, it’s also appropriate, considering what the sport got away with in the 90s. Karma can be a bitch, and it’s being one right now for the national pastime. If you need more evidence, tune in to A-Rod’s Yankee press conference this afternoon. It’ll be on just about every frequency at 1:30 p.m. EST. The scrolling coverage ticker on ESPN has already started.

  • Somehow this went completely overlooked during the NBA’s All-Star weekend, but the Slam Dunk contest may have been host to outright xenophobia on Saturday night. Not only were the dunks by Trail Blazer Rudy Fernandez impressive, they included a touching tribute that actually had significant sentimental resonance. That’s more than you can say about Gerald Green’s jersey tribute to Dee Brown or Josh Smith’s tribute to Dominique Wilkins, but commentators gushed about those efforts. And the inability to capture what Fernando Martin meant to basketball in general? This piece from THE PAINTED AREA does it a lot more justice.

  • One more from soccer: Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a ref, no matter how much it actually pays. Just check the video from an Italian Serie A game above.

If A-Rod tests positive for steroids again, how long should he disappear for?

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Total Exposure: Viking Pantless In Locker Room

After a comeback win that could be key to Minnesota’s playoff hopes, FOX got its cameras to go into the Vikings locker room for what it thought would be a touching moment of total access. Instead, the moment is bound to live in TV infamy for an incident of total exposure.

tsb shiancoe penis

(Screen grab from The Sporting Blog.)

As television cameras panned the locker room while team owner Zygi Wilf presented a game ball to coach Brad Childress — whose son has enlisted with the Marines and is awaiting a deployment to Iraq — they caught a few Vikings unprepared to be seen on live, national TV. One, in particular, happened to be missing, well, his pants. According to THE SPORTING BLOG, the exposed Viking covered up quickly, but not before TiVos everywhere snapped back to capture the moment forever. Hey, at least he knows he has Chris Cooley for company.

Yes, that is the poor, unsuspecting Vikings junk you see obscured by our masterful use of the Photoshop paintbrush tool (blurring of image may not be to scale). And who is the unsuspecting victim of Rupert Murdoch’s impetuous cameramen? After extensive research (i.e., clicking through every single player listed on the Vikings online roster), we’ve determined it’s none other than Visanthe Shiancoe: Morgan State grad, tight end and, we assume, decent human being who fell prey to the camera lens.

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Vikings Give Up, Name Gus Frerotte Starting QB

So, all you people out there who picked the Vikes to win the NFC North — how you feeling right about now? It seemed odd, I thought, that so many people were willing to support a team that had, uh, a bit of a question mark at the quarterback position. A question mark that is now so big that he can’t even keep Gus Frerotte off the field.

Gus Frerotte's head through a wall

Frerotte, the NFL’s equivalent to Ted McGinley, is coming off a stellar season with the Rams in which he posted a lofty 58.3 QB rating in eight starts. Apparently, that’s good enough for Brad Childress to send Tarvaris Jackson to the rails. And really, after you’ve been displaced by Gus, is there any future for you in the NFL?

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Brog: Vikings Rebuff LA Billionaire NFL Wannabe

Two of the primary guys trying to bring the NFL to L.A., Ed Roski and John Semcken, have been out banging pots and pans this week, trying to get the local media to bite on their latest claim that an NFL team will move to L.A. in time to play the 2009 season.

NFL Wannabes Ed Roski Jr.

Like lemmings, the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY (CA) TRIBUNE picked up comments by Semcken today, as part of an essentially baseless report:

Developer Ed Roski Jr.’s business partner says he has “no doubt” a National Football League team will play in Los Angeles in 2009, most likely at the Rose Bowl. Majestic Realty Vice President John Semcken also said he believes there is a possibility two NFL teams could wind up playing in the $800 million stadium Roski wants to build in Industry.

“We are going to have a team here next September,” Semcken said Tuesday afternoon.

There’s absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that an NFL team is poised to move to Los Angeles anytime soon. If there was, I’d know about it, or it would’ve leaked by now.

Not coincidentally, the MINNY STAR-TRIBUNE and ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS report tonight that new-stadium-less Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf was recently contacted by Roski about moving the team to Los Angeles - and had no interest. (Heritage clubs like the Vikes will never move - see Cleveland Browns.)

That’s not to say that a team moving here in the next couple years is outside the realm of possibility. But baseless bellowing by Roski and Semcken will do nothing to speed the process. I still bet that the fine gents over at AEG may have a role in bringing a team here before it’s all over. Their biggest problem? They won’t grab their ankles for the league and egomaniacal local yocal politicians.

Sports blogs like SbB have forever been accused by main media of going overboard with the T & A. Usually, when posting photos of the female form, we have a legit sports angle. (OK, not always.) But I find it rather ironic that many of those same (rapidly-fossilizing) finger pointers are now doing what we’ve long been accused of.

Detroit News' Traffic Grab(a$$)

Take for instance the venerable DETROIT NEWS, and its “Sideline Satire” section. I’ll bet you didn’t know that an enormous collection of cropped-off pics of female Olympic athlete a$$es qualified as satire these days.

Apparently it does in Detroit.

Olympic Fatty

Whoops! How’d that get through?

And just how serious is the editorial staff at the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES about servicing their readers in the middle of the night when the wife is asleep with football about to hit?

Jenn Sterger

(Reminds me, where’s that sock I left the orange in?)

They’ve hired Jenn Sterger to do football picks. I’m assuming she’ll be steering clear of Jets games, seeing as all the inside team hotel rooms info she’ll be privy to.

Seriously fellas, if you’re going to try to post random, gratuitous girlie pics with a laughably flimsy sports connex, step aside and let a professional show you how it’s done:

Busty Baseball Girl

TMZ has been cornering the sports celeb gossip market lately, this time with an exclusive on Tom Brady’s recent Brentwood real estate purchase. Brady, along with his girlfriend Gisele Bundchen, just dropped $11M on a residential lot in the city O.J. made (in)famous.

The two are planning a 20,000 square foot home together, which is apparently intended to allow Brady to be closer to the infant son he had with Bridget Moynihan (Moynihan’s reps denied the assertion).

Meanwhile, in another QB-related land grab, Tony Romo just spent a paltry $699K on his new DFW spread.

Gisele Bundchen Jessica Simpson

Let’s see, $20M+ to live with Gisele Bundchen or $699K to live with Jessica Simpson?

Earlier this week, Ticketmaster said it planned to attempt to expand its business (a “major push“) in China.

L.A.-based Barry Rudin, the largest ticket broker on the west coast and SbB sponsor, told me Wednesday, “I don’t think there is much to sell in China. There is however a lot of money there. I would have to see what events will sell well. I think certain concerts and sporting events could work. However, you are completely at the mercy of the government.

Last sentence is something the IOC and the accompanying media came to realize the last couple weeks.

FYI: I’ll be at the UCLA-Tennessee game at the Rose Bowl on Barry’s dime this Monday night, with a live blog on SbB (and a SbB Girl in tow!).  Don’t be a stranger.

A.J. Daulerio of DEADSPIN tracks down an interoffice letter apparently from Roger Ebert of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES to the dearly departed Jay Mariotti.

Ebert: “On your way out, don’t let the door bang you on the ass.

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