Friday, September 29, 2006


That’s right! The Cowboys actually have a game this week

Officially, Owens is listed as questionable on the injury report for Sunday's game at Tennessee. Parcells said a final decision on whether Owens will play will come Saturday night.

The Cowboys have contingencies in case Owens does not play. Sam Hurd, a rookie free agent, said he worked some with the first team Thursday, and Parcells added Patrick Crayton into the mix of possibly taking turns in Owens' spot.

"You wouldn't know he had a hand injury," said cornerback Nate Jones, who worked against Owens some in practice. "He was out there doing what he does."

What will Parcells have to see in today's practice and the Saturday walkthrough to make a decision on Owens?

"The same thing I need to see from every player – that he looks like he's functional and prepared with the game plan," Parcells said.

Owens politely declined comment Thursday. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was not made available for comment. And Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not return phone calls.
As Owens sat alone on one of the blue couches in the center of the Cowboys' locker room, cameras filmed and clicked. He read a copy of Dallas Cowboys Weekly and wore a black t-shirt that read, "U big dummy," with a picture of comedian Redd Foxx.

Police Department drops “attempted suicide” label …which has really been my only beef with everything to begin with.

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said that the incident had been reclassified as an accidental overdose Thursday – but he was emphatic that officers who initially responded to the call acted properly and correctly reported what they saw and heard.
"We have great confidence in the accuracy of the original officers' offense report," he said during a Thursday afternoon news conference where un-redacted copies of the original incident report were distributed, as well as a narrative detailing the follow-up investigation.

"We'd have to get inside Mr. Owens' head to know whether it was an attempted suicide or an accidental overdose," he said. "What I'm saying is, I don't know what happened."

Right. They don’t know what happened. I don’t know what happened. And you don’t know what happened.

So isn’t the issue here this: Why did the entire world label it as a suicide for the entire day on Wednesday? Owens will never live that down, and now all that happens is a small, qualified retraction?

I am not saying the officers did not report exactly what happened. What I am saying today is what I was saying on Wednesday. He wasn’t trying to kill himself. Now, let’s move on with our lives.

And his trainer is now available

James "Buddy" Primm, Terrell Owens' personal trainer, said Thursday that the Cowboys wide receiver had relieved him of his services and was no longer speaking to him.
In a telephone conversation with The Dallas Morning News, Mr. Owens acknowledged as much and said Mr. Primm "had no business" discussing details of his private life with the news media.

Mr. Primm, 55, said Wednesday that Mr. Owens had been distraught over not being able to see his son, who celebrated his 7th birthday Monday. Hours later, he said, the receiver's fiancée, a woman he had dated for three years, ended their engagement.
"He shouldn't have been telling you anything about my personal life anyway," Mr. Owens said. "That's where it stops – right there. He should have never said anything remotely involving me or my personal life, especially my son or even my ex-girl."

LA Times looks at the media’s role, including Deion and Mike ….

Frogs, this is no way to act when you are on “elite probation”. Yet again, TCU whips the Big 12, then trips against others …BYU looks like a nice team, but you got to beat them in Fort Worth…

Losses always sting, and the soul searching that follows does, too.

TCU coach Gary Patterson said blame starts with him for the Horned Frogs' 31-17 loss Thursday night. Senior quarterback Jeff Ballard declined compliments for a 296-yard passing night, countering instead with instances when the offense failed.

BYU beat No. 17 TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium on four days' rest, snapping the nation's longest winning streak at 13 games and putting in jeopardy the Frogs' goals of winning the Mountain West Conference and advancing to the BCS.

"I am a pretty good person to close the door and move on," Patterson said. "We've done it every time we ever played before. The bottom line to it is, you've got to go find a way to win."

The Frogs play again Thursday at Utah in another crucial conference game, and another loss would all but close the door on the Frogs defending their 2005 conference title. A BCS bowl would become a goal for next season's team.

Where it went wrong last night

No, the rubble of this unexpected defeat showed evidence of missed tackles, of an offense that sputtered and of a pass defense that allowed too many BYU receivers to roam free.

"When you throw long balls, you've got to make plays," Patterson said of his defense.
"In the first three games, we made plays. Tonight, we didn't make plays."

TCU's freshman cornerbacks, for once, played like freshmen.

Shoddy tackling sometimes suggests an inattentive week of practice. Not so, Patterson said. He claimed to have seen no hangovers from the giddy 12-3 victory over Texas Tech.

"I didn't think so," Patterson said, when asked whether his team's thoughts were still stuck on the Tech game. "At least, we tried not to.

"Every time we seem to have a big win here in the last two years, we've followed with a loss."

No, this wasn't Texas Tech, a neighbor that needed no introduction. This was BYU, a
Mountain West Conference rival that was running a variant of Tech's offense.

And with one telling difference -- Tech's quarterback was inexperienced sophomore Graham Harrell. BYU's was senior John Beck, whose maturity and poise were apparent.

Jimmy Burch Big 12 Insider focuses on Aggie/Red Raider

The Aggies head into Saturday's matchup (2:30 p.m., WFAA/8) against Tech (3-1) with a new defensive coordinator, a fresh scheme and some lingering nightmares about past matchups against the Red Raiders' pass-happy offense. They also enter with a fresh resolve.

Players have been pointing to this game for months, safety Melvin Bullitt said during Tuesday's news conference in College Station.

"Right now, this is our bowl game," Bullitt said. "We want to go out there, beat Tech and show everyone we're for real this year."

With a victory Saturday at Kyle Field, the Aggies build on their budding confidence and boost bowl hopes. Another loss reinforces the notion that little has changed since last year's 56-17 blowout in Lubbock, the Red Raiders' fourth victory in the past five meetings in this series.

Warren, a senior, understands Saturday's significance for players and coach Dennis Franchione, who is 20-19 overall and 10-14 in the Big 12 since taking over at A&M.
"We're four years into this program, and the sense of urgency right now is very high," Warren said. "People realize we've only had one winning season out of the last three. So, we really want to get back to a bowl game...and just be the old Texas A&M that used to be up there with Oklahoma and Texas."

That requires passing Tech in the South standings. To do that, A&M must contain Tech's passing game. That's been a daunting challenge for the Aggies, who have surrendered an average of 47 points per game in the past four matchups. Last year, 433 of the Raiders' 627 total yards came through the air.

Even though you are well aware of my inability to predict football results, here are my Predictions for this week:

Texas Tech 31, Texas A&M 24

Aggie is going to have to show me they are still capable of beating good programs. Tech is no world beater, but they were almost 6 Touchdowns better 11 months ago.

Dallas 21, Tennessee 17

The Titans have a lot of talent, and if Kerry Collins hits his open receivers, they can beat you. This is a very important focus point for the 2006 Cowboys.


In honor of playing the Titans, here is the Music City Miracle - 5:58

The Peter Crouch Bicycle kick

Steve Carrell learns to play goalie – 1:55

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Did You Think We Would Blog About Today?

Well, here we are 24 hours later, and the smoke is supposed to be clearing by now. But, here I sit, reading what everyone already knows from various newspapers across the fruited plain. And I still am not positive about what has happened.

In case you missed our 3 hours from yesterday, here is what I believe:

I am skeptical that it went down as the Police Report claimed. I do not believe he would attempt suicide. As many people said yesterday, he loves himself way too much to end it all.

I am sure that it did not go down as Owens and his publicist claimed.

Owens needs to fire his publicist immediately based solely on the “he has 25 million reasons to live” comment.

I don’t think he is suicidal, but I do think it shows that it is always something with this dude.

The media makes me giggle with their bold claims early in the day followed by tempered enthusiasm as the day goes on. But, it is tough to make the media the bad guys here (although it appears many are still doing it) since they were reading directly from a police report.

Did the 2006 Cowboys season implode yesterday? I don’t think so, but it can’t be ruled out as the potential “beginning of the end”.

Stay tuned.

And now, a million different opinions from a million different people:

Tim Cowlishaw

Believe these people at your own risk. And by these people, I mean any of these people.

Believe the police report that says it was a suicide attempt? That may have been how it looked initially. But then why did the authorities at Baylor University Medical Center release Terrell Owens less than 16 hours after he had been admitted? Where were the psychiatric tests to confirm that Owens was not at risk of harming himself?

Believe Bill Parcells when he says he has no clue about what's going on, that the media is more informed than he is? The Cowboys head coach knows what's going on in the lives of practice-squad linebackers, and yet he's completely in the dark about a possible suicide attempt by one of his marquee players? That makes real sense.

Mostly, believe Terrell Owens and his publicity agent, Kim Etheredge, when they discredit police and say this was nothing more than an allergic reaction to a combination of hydrocodone and supplements? Well, there's actually some degree of logic to that explanation, but then...

Believe that one at Owens' risk.

Here's hoping that the Cowboys, who may never publicly acknowledge any concern about Owens' mental state, work overtime behind the scenes to learn what might be wrong with their new wide receiver.

Pat Forde

No matter which side you believe, there was no obvious sign of physical or psychological distress from Owens on Wednesday afternoon when he held a news conference to refute the cops' report and tamp down hours of ongoing media hyperventilation. That's the positive news.

Keep that in mind, because it's too easy to view Owens as a caricature of himself, a cartoon figure, rather than a real human being. The best possible outcome is that Owens is A-OK and never had any intention of harming himself. In the final analysis, it would be good to file this story in the Much Ado About Not Much file.

But there are still questions to answer before that's 100 percent believable.

Namely, why would Dallas police officers author a report that said Etheredge told them Owens was "depressed" when they responded to her 911 call? She says she never said that, but it seems hard to believe that they would concoct that out of thin air.

Perhaps Etheredge made an inaccurate assumption when she found Owens "non-responsive," in his own words. But whether it was an attempt at suicide or merely a bad reaction, it's a good thing she called in emergency personnel.

Thing is, when you combine a 911 call, the word "suicide" in an official document, the star power of Owens and a ravenous 24-hour multimedia news cycle that sustains itself on breaking news -- and never waits long before leaping from fact-gathering to analysis and sweeping judgment -- you have an absolute carnival.

Screaming A Smith

Owens said he suffered an allergic reaction after taking painkillers and nutritional supplements. His publicist said he appeared disoriented. Only after his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, showed up in Dallas and the Cowboys organization got a hold of him did some plausible explanation miraculously come to light.

That means there was no plausible explanation, just spin-doctoring.

Unless you're one of the few confidants T.O. has in this world, or a fly on the
wall, you have no knowledge of what transpired. But here's one thing that's undeniable, even for those closest to Owens:

The man has problems he simply hasn't fixed.

I remember being at Owens' home in New Jersey two seasons ago, just days after T.O.'s ankle surgery. There was no way he was expected to be available for the playoffs. A Super Bowl appearance - one the Eagles would make - appeared to be out of the question for him. Yet Owens was working out in his home, lifting weights and doing ankle exercises, with only two things on his mind.

The Super Bowl.

And Donovan McNabb.

Aside from being able to make it back for the Eagles-Patriots showdown in 2005, McNabb was Owens' focus. He kept lamenting how McNabb had vowed that the Eagles would make it to the Super Bowl "without T.O.," failing to ask himself: What else was McNabb supposed to say?

One harmless phrase was all it took to set T.O. on a path of destruction.

Bill Walsh

"I believe what Terrell said, that it wasn't a suicide attempt," Walsh said. "But unfortunately, you can have all sorts of things like this every week with Terrell. It will always be something else with him, some distraction, every day, every week. It's just ongoing.

"It'll be a distraction all year (for the Cowboys). Now, he may make some great plays. But the way he is, because of who he is, there will always be some distraction."

Dan Lebretard …guess which side he is on…

I believe Terrell Owens. No matter how noisy this all gets. No matter how loud the voices of publicists and agents and friends and coaches and psychiatric experts and police officers rise in unison into a tower of babble. No matter how many people come to this conversation with their own baggage and their own version of the truth, which isn't the truth at all. And no matter how contradictory and complicated even the voice of T.O. can be much of the time. I believe Terrell Owens.

I've seen too many things a lot less complicated than this get confused and clouded and misdiagnosed when it comes to the very famous Terrell Owens and the spinning swirl that perpetually surrounds him. So on the subject of whether he really tried to kill himself -- Owens adamantly denies it -- I'm siding with the only guy who was inside his head at the time, and I'm doing so even if that head was clouded at the time by too much pain medication.

Maybe that makes me very naive. Or maybe it makes me fair. Maybe it makes me a stupid player apologist. Or maybe it makes me nonjudgmental about the way I cover sports. Either way, we're all a little clouded when it comes to T.O. and his behavior, so I guess it just took too many pills to make him more like the rest of us.

My first reaction to news of a suicide attempt? I didn't believe it. I'm not talking about disbelief or shock. I literally didn't believe it. I believed it was the pills talking. I believe there was some sort of adverse reaction to the medication that made Owens loopy. I've seen people very close to me become something else, something unrecognizable, when chemically altered by the wrong medicine. Owens is many things -- complicated, defiant, stubborn, moody -- but he is not a liar. If he tried to kill himself, I believe he'd tell you. He doesn't do spin control. Doesn't even know how, I believe. He'd avoid an awful lot of his messes if he did.

Tired yet? Here is some non-TO stuff…

Evan Grant looks at 2007 Rangers Payroll

Here is the Rangers' situation:

• Committed contracts: The Rangers have $17.25 million committed to Hank Blalock, Mark Teixeira, Michael Young and Kevin Millwood (and that's if you count Millwood's actual salary for next year rather than his larger average annual value).

• A-Rod dead weight: That's another $6 million Tom Hicks will pay George Steinbrenner so his fans can boo Rodriguez.

• Pocket change: Estimating conservatively, the Rangers have eight players who aren't yet eligible for arbitration that should be on the 2007 team (Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Gerald Laird, Scott Feldman, Frank Francisco, Wes Littleton, Josh Rupe and Robinson Tejeda). That group will run them a total of just under $3 million.

• Arbitration guys: Figure it gets offered to Brad Wilkerson and Akinori Otsuka and not to Rick Bauer or Joaquin Benoit. Wilkerson made $3.95 million this year and will make at least that next season; Otsuka will probably jump from $1.75 million to the $3 million range. So, chalk up another $4.75 million.

• Guys with options: Ron Mahay has a $1.2 million option. If the Rangers had cheaper options in the bullpen, they'd go for them. As it is, they may have no choice but to bring Mahay back. For our purposes, let's count him in the fold.

Calculators, ready?

OK, that's at least $32 million.

And all we need to finish out the roster are three starting pitchers, a center fielder, a DH, a backup catcher, one experienced reliever and a bench.


The Rangers are trying to assure that Matthews doesn't consider the possibility of playing for the Angels. They have until mid-November to re-sign him before other clubs can start talking to him. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with Matthews' agent, Scott Leventhal, during the Angels series and the sides mapped out some parameters for a potential deal.

But no serious conversation will take place until next week at the earliest. Matthews and Leventhal expressed to the Rangers earlier this year that they'd prefer to wait until after the season to talk nuts-and-bolts of a contract. The Rangers don't intend to wait long after the final out of the season Sunday to start more serious talks.

"Gary is an important part of the club," Daniels said. "He's somebody at the top of the list for our off-season priorities."

If he gets to free agency, Matthews, whose salary this season is $2.49 million, will be on many teams' priority lists. The Angels, Chicago Cubs (who will likely lose Juan Pierre to free agency), Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis and Boston could all be seeking center fielders. Matthews, 32, and Pierre, 29, are the two highest-profile cen- ter fielders who will be free agents.

Big Game Tonight in Fort Worth …Go Frogs. See? I welcome TCU to the college football elite, but they are on probation…

An explanation is in order for today's 5 p.m. kickoff, though finding an answer that appeases the masses might be too tall a task.

The crucial Mountain West opener between TCU and BYU was originally scheduled to start at 6 p.m., not great but an hour friendlier. The game was to be televised on CSTV.

But because CSTV has limited distribution in Dallas-Fort Worth, officials for the conference, CSTV and Comcast planted the game on Versus. The former OLN, though, had previously scheduled a live boxing card for tonight and didn't want it bumped by college football.

Hence, a 5 p.m. kickoff.

There's also concern in Provo that BYU played Saturday while TCU did not. That was not in the plan, either, but became reality when Grambling State dropped out of a Sept. 23 game at TCU.

"We have several scheduling parameters, and one of them was that we make it a mandate that both teams must play the previous Saturday for a Thursday game," MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said. "The [athletic directors] and joint council said there's no way you can get there, because some of these things are out of an institution's control, for instance Grambling dropping TCU."

A crowd of around 35,000 is expected at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Aggie vs. Red Raider just 2 days away

Showdowns between Texas A&M and Texas Tech reflect a complicated dynamic. The Aggies lead the all-time series, 34-29-1, but the Red Raiders have won eight of the last 11 meetings. Tech's superior record in recent years hasn't changed the perception of many outsiders that A&M is more of a powerhouse program.

"If we keep the trend going and keep getting better every year, maybe we'll be mentioned up there with them," Red Raiders defensive tackle Chris Hudler said.
Aggies debate whether they consider Tech a rival, yet the last two times A&M hosted the Red Raiders at Kyle Field, it drew its largest crowd of the season.

Aggies defensive end Chris Harrington called the series "a good, healthy rivalry," then added, "I think they look at us as their rival, whereas we look at Texas as our rival."

Stars send all the kids to Iowa

while it would be easy to be depressed on a day they were sent down, the players who were assigned to the Stars' American Hockey League affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, were optimistic.

"It was closer this year, more real," winger Loui Eriksson said. "But I think that is good because now I feel better about my chances to return."

Eriksson was joined by fellow forwards Junior Lessard and Joel Lundqvist, along with defensemen Niklas Grossman and Vadim Khomitski and goalie Dan Ellis. Those six are a heartbeat away from returning in case of injury or a trade.

"It was a good experience because I truly feel I can play at this level," said Dan Ellis, who lost his battle with Mike Smith to become the team's backup goalie. "Now it's just go down and get refocused and be ready for anything."

Ellis and Lessard each have to clear waivers because they are older prospects.

However, if they are selected by another NHL team, they have to immediately be put on that team's 23-man roster. If they clear waivers, they can be called up in the future without further exposure.

Brilliant goal from Crouch helps Liverpool bag a Champions League win


Do you Really want your Girl to like Sports? – 3:34

Oh Glory! - 1:21

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Duty Calls

As you may imagine, the news of the day has trumped my blog entry for the day. I am off to do what I do, but please feel free to comment away on the T.O. O.D. Thread.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cool Night on MNF

This blog is my confessional. I am not a Saints fan, nor am I someone directly affected by Katrina. And, I did not sports-cry, but I did sports-well-up when Joe Horn was in the tunnel ready to run on the field. That was pretty cool.

Saints 23, Falcons 3

When Jimmy and Marilyn Felder walked into the Superdome at 5 p.m. on Monday, they were like anyone else trying to find their seats.

But the Felders were not simply looking for the seats where they would watch the football game. They were also looking for the seats where they lived last August.
On the morning of Aug. 29, 2005, as Hurricane Katrina peeled back the Superdome’s 9.7-acre roof, the Felders were curled up in the field level, trying to sleep with little success. They could not block out the stench or the noise in the stadium.
They could not stay dry with the rainwater dripping through the roof.

They returned Monday, as new Saints season-ticket holders. The Felders, who fled the Superdome one day after the hurricane, wading through knee-high water to escape, were among the first fans rushing into the stadium when it reopened.

“A lot of people who were here are going to be afraid to come back,” Jimmy Felder said. “But we wanted to be here.”

The Falcons never had a chance

In an earsplitting return to their rebuilt stadium, the Saints gave the Big Easy something to cheer about — an undefeated football team that made it look easy with a 23-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.

This one couldn't have been scripted any better for a team that spent all of last season on the road, and it couldn't have come at a better time for a city that is still struggling to overcome the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

"From the moment I signed with the Saints, I was looking forward to this," said quarterback Drew Brees, who joined New Orleans during the offseason. "It was a great night. It's something we'll never forget."

After a Super Bowl-like pregame show that included a performance by supergroups U2 and Green Day, the Saints wasted no time turning their welcome-home party into Mardi Gras: The Falcons' first drive went three-and-out, and special teams demon Steve Gleason sliced through the middle of the Atlanta line to smother Michael Koenen's punt.

The ball skidded across the goal line, where Curtis Deloatch fell on it for a touchdown — the first given up by the Falcons this season. Just like that, Saints sent an emphatic message to the NFL and the entire country: New Orleans is open for business.

DeLoatch ran over to the stands and pointed at the crowd of 70,003, as if to say, "Take that Katrina!" Undoubtedly, many more were cheering around this still-recovering city, some of them vowing to set up televisions outside government-issued trailers that pass for homes more than a year after the storm blew ashore, the levees broke and the water poured through.

Volquez is off to a very tough start

Volquez fell to 1-6 for the season, 1-10 for his career, but the really ugly number is his career ERA, which is 9.20 for 14 games (11 starts). Since 1900, no pitcher with at least 10 career starts has finished with an ERA of nine or higher.

The Rangers don't expect Volquez to finish with such unattractive numbers, either. But in two short auditions over the last two seasons, he's seemed to be overwhelmed by major league hitting.

I bet you were wondering how the Dallas Morning News was going to replace its lost columnists…Well, here is your answer: JJ Taylor is now a columnist who may write about potential Rangers targets

Terry Glenn cut his hand? …Did anyone happen to ask him how he did this?

Cowboys receiver Terry Glenn cut his hand on Monday and his status for practice today and Sunday's game against the Titans is unknown, according to a source. The cut is not believed to be serious. Glenn leads the Cowboys with 10 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys already are without receiver Terrell Owens, who broke a bone in his right hand against the Redskins.

Since you know we love Cowboys blogs that don’t suck, Here is Know your Dallas

Madden Curse knocks Alexander out with broken foot

Add Shaun Alexander to the list of athletes injured the year they appear on the cover of the popular "Madden" football video game, as what began as a coincidence has come to be characterized as a curse.

Alexander is the sixth consecutive athlete featured on the cover to suffer an injury that forced him to miss at least one game.

"It's unfortunate," said Chris Erb, who is the director of marketing for EA Sports. "We work so close with these athletes, and we root for them to succeed."
Erb has more than a simple rooting interest in Alexander. Erb is from Seattle, attended Washington, and was at Sunday's game against the New York Giants, having flown here to watch the Huskies on Saturday and the Seahawks on Sunday.

"Both personally and for work," Erb said. "I'm really bummed to see Shaun go down."

And now Matt Leinart will start and begin to make everyone pay for not taking him in the draft…Tennessee, are you listening?

ESPN, citing team sources, reported that Leinart will start.

When asked if he remained committed to Warner, Green said: "I've not thought about who the starting players are right now. Normally, personnel is something we do on Tuesday."

Asked later if he had not ruled out changing quarterbacks, Green said: "I'm not talking about it is what I'm not doing right now."

Avery – Mavs talk continues

The Mavs didn't go into the off-season looking for a massive overhaul. They didn't need one.

What were needed were tweaks here and upgrades there. Battle-tested veterans Devean George, Greg Buckner, Anthony Johnson and Austin Croshere join the Dirk Nowitzki-Jason Terry-Josh Howard core when camp begins Oct. 3 in Denton.

Johnson may have a new contract in place before the first practice at the University of North Texas, though owner Mark Cuban and Johnson's agent declined to comment on negotiations. Johnson's current deal runs for three more years, and he is among the lowest-paid coaches in the league.

That's hardly his focus now. If all goes to plan in Johnson's second full season as coach, another lengthy run toward the title is ahead.

"We go in it for the long haul," he said. "That's what we said all through the regular season [last year], that we would love to get the best record but we're more concerned with the big picture. That's not an arrogant statement. That's just the vision that we have."

Revo takes the words right out of my mouth

Hmmmm, seven goals by the Tampa Bay Lightning against Stars goalie Marty Turco on Sunday night. It's good to know that Marty is already rounding into postseason form....

Finally, some college football conference matchups that get us excited! Aggie and Red Raider!

Aggie owned recently by Raider

If it doesn't, even winning eight non-conference games by a combined 400-0 margin would not have mattered. This is the most important game of the year -Êthe biggest in Franchione's tenure. That's something we've known for months. But now that it's here, the ramifications are magnified.

The winner will be a Top 25 team and have a good chance to win the Big 12 South. The loser will need to reel off a few victories to regain respect, which still might not come in a conference that's not as highly regarded as it was a few weeks ago.

And there's more pressure on A&M than Tech, much more. Tech's program has moved ahead of the Aggies, at least on the field, if not in the minds of A&M faithful.

In the last four years Tech has several signature victories - Oklahoma, California, Texas, Clemson and Nebraska (twice). Texas was ranked third when it lost to Tech, and Cal was fourth.

A&M last beat a ranked team two years ago, a 32-25 overtime victory over the 25th-ranked Red Raiders. That was the Aggies' third victory that season over a ranked foe.
It might be an omen that the Red Raiders, 3-1, re-entered the USA Today Top 25 poll Sunday at No. 24. That just adds national attention to the showdown.

The game is listed as pick 'em by the oddsmakers, thanks to Kyle Field.

That means the Aggies have improved 39 points since last year's 56-17 drubbing when Tech rolled up 627 yards, 433 of them in the air.
Is A&M that much better? It better be.

Tech has found several ways to win, always frustrating the Aggies:

• In 2002, there were the two missed extra points in a 48-47 overtime loss.

• In 2001, A&M had two costly turnovers in a 12-0 loss.

• In 1999, a holding call wiped out a 20-yard A&M completion to the Tech 10 late in a 21-19 loss when the Aggies were ranked No. 5.

• In 1997, a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left gave Tech a 16-13 victory.

• In 1995, Tech linebacker Zach Thomas returned an interception 33 yards with 30 seconds left for a 14-7 victory over the eighth-ranked Aggies.
A&M fans have forgotten the statistics from those losses. What they remember are the losses.

That's why it doesn't matter how A&M beats Tech, just as long as it happens.

Meanwhile, before Longhorn meets Sooner next week, They must play Sam Houston

If Texas coach Mack Brown has his way, UT's game this week against Sam Houston State will be its last against a Division I-AA team.

When the NCAA officially added a 12th game to the schedule last fall, it left UT scrambling to fill a very specific date — Sept.30. UT officials say Sam Houston State was the only taker the schedule-makers in the Longhorns athletic office could find on short notice.

Brown spent much of his news conference Monday deflecting questions about the game, which will pit the Longhorns against a I-AA foe for the first time in 14 years.
"I didn't schedule it, (the players) didn't schedule it," Brown said. "But we still have to play it."

All Texas out of state team

Here's the team of former Texas high-school standouts who could challenge for football supremacy if they were linked on the same squad.

QB Chase Daniel, Missouri, 6-1, 220, So., Southlake (Carroll)
RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma, 6-2, 218, Jr., Palestine
RB Justin Forsett, California, 5-8, 186, Jr., Arlington (Grace Prep)
WR Terrence Nunn, Nebraska, 6-0, 185, Jr., Houston (Cypress Falls)
WR Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma, 6-4, 217, So., Longview

Week 5 College Football TV schedule ….

Champions League Football Today:

Manchester United wants revenge

ALEX FERGUSON has warned Benfica he is after Champions League revenge.

Benfica dumped Manchester United out of the competition at the first stage last season with a 2-1 defeat in Lisbon that left them bottom of their group.

Fergie roared: “It will be a bloody different result this time you can believe me about that.”

United return nine months later on the back of a 3-2 opening game win over Celtic.

Boss Ferguson also believes Portuguese star Ronaldo is ready to make up for that result last December.

Ronaldo had an awful game in the defeat, was jeered by fans and then subbed.
He also gave the Benfica fans a one-finger gesture that earned him a ban for the Celtic game at Old Trafford.

Tue Sep 26 01:30PM Central LIVE
UEFA Champions League - Match Day 2
Benfica (Portugal) vs Manchester United (England)

Tue Sep 26 01:30PM Central LIVE
Setanta Sports USA
UEFA Champions League - Match Day 2
Arsenal (England) vs Porto (Portugal)


Matthew Barnaby or "Bam Bam" may very well become a fan favorite in Dallas. A few people I know from one of the Stars message boards were at training camp this weekend and asked Barnaby to send a message to a Wings fan friend of theirs.. This is the result. I'm sure you'll get a
kick out of it.


Here it is!


Little Superstar – 1:28

Clemson Fan – 0:51

Monday, September 25, 2006

Do We Really Need Our Spleen?

Simms out for a while; without his spleen

How tough is Chris Simms?

We were still trying to figure out when his spleen was damaged because, you see, he played the whole game, unless you count when he dropped to one knee from cramps late in the third quarter and was helped out of the brutal heat and replenished by I.V.s.
It should be noted he'd already led his team back from a 17-0 hole for three scores.
Still, when he left, some Bucs fans, the true goobers, could only think to cheer Simms' replacement, Bruce Gradkowski.

Chris Simms?

He came back after the I.V.s.

He stood up until he could stand no more.

He had put the Bucs ahead for the first time this season at 21-20 by running in for a touchdown. He was smashed in the back by a Panther as he reached for the end zone.
Is that when it happened?

Or was it a little later, on that late hit by Carolina's Al Wallace that wasn't called?

It might have been earlier than that, a lot earlier. Before the cramps, before Simms vomited, before he left the field for the I.V.s and before he came back. Bucs receiver Michael Clayton said Simms was woozy quite early in the game.

The best guess is that Chris Simms led his team to those touchdowns, to that comeback, with the pain growing every play. He looked every bit as tough as he did last season. He was finally the Bucs quarterback again. A leader.

Media waited for Simms outside the Bucs locker room.

He always talks, win or lose, no matter what kind of day he has.

Not Sunday.

He was already at the hospital.

They were getting ready to operate.

Chris Simms isn't tough?’s story To Hell and Back

Lebreton on the return to New Orleans

If you were anybody in anything, New Orleanians once proudly believed, you played the Superdome. Frank Sinatra sang in the Superdome. Muhammad Ali fought Leon Spinks there. The pope himself, John Paul II, spoke to 80,000 at the Superdome. And countless kings and queens -- albeit of the Mardi Gras variety -- held court there.

For 30 NFL seasons, the New Orleans Saints had called the Superdome home.

Suddenly, after Hurricane Katrina, the Saints were orphans. Owner Tom Benson's initial overtures to San Antonio, New Orleanians will tell you, were the unkindest cut of all.

How long, if ever, before the city could feel that it was coming back, locals and TV commentators alike wondered? How long before New Orleans could truly feel it was on the road to recovery?

Tonight, tonight, my dear aunt and cousins and ladies and gentlemen.

Tonight, the Saints come marching home. Tonight, the people of New Orleans can start to feel whole again.

Because of a football team. Silly, I know.

But New Orleanians are always doing silly things, like dancing at funerals and adding cayenne pepper to anything already called hot sauce.

The NFL Saints and New Orleans have long been a perfect match for one another. Both are likely to induce indigestion and a pounding hangover.

Can we play Detroit every week? …And Favre joins only Marino in the 400 club…

Brett Favre sprinted toward the end zone, signaled touchdown and then pumped his right fist. The 36-year-old quarterback had just become the second player in NFL history to throw 400 career touchdown passes.

He added two more scores to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 31-24 win over Detroit on Sunday for their first victory of the season.

Favre said he felt like a kid while celebrating after each TD, bouncing on his toes and leaping into teammates' arms, but his body quickly reminded him that he's not.
"I've got to stop doing that because I get so tired," said Favre, who turns 37 next month. "I have to be smarter. Mike (McCarthy) said, `Great job, but you have to quit running around like that,' because I couldn't talk to him, I couldn't breathe.

"I was able to recover a lot easier back in the old days, but there's nothing like throwing touchdown passes."

Favre would know.

With his first TD pass of the game -- a 75-yarder to Greg Jennings -- Favre joined Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to reach 400 touchdown passes. Marino has 420.

"We needed a win a lot more than I needed 400 touchdown passes," the three-time MVP said.

Here is the list of QB’s who have 300 or more Touchdown passes in their career: 1462 Touchdown passes and only 3 rings among them. Also, look who is at #12. Manning will break all of these records within five years, but will he get a ring?

1. Dan Marino 420
2. x-Brett Favre 402
3. Fran Tarkenton 342
4. John Elway 300
12. x-Peyton Manning 249

Meanwhile, in other sports news, The US cannot even make it competitive at the Ryder Cup

Evidence that the Americans are getting a little wimpy by nature is the distressing play in yesterday's singles. It has become a given that the Europeans are superior in both forms of team play. But the US has fallen apart in the mano-a-mano Sunday matches, where the tally in '04 and '06 has been Europe 16, USA 8, and that's only because yesterday Ireland's McGinley graciously conceded a putt that created a ceremonial halve with J.J. Henry.

If you're the American golfing powers-that-be, is there anything on which to hang your hat? Start with Tiger. He had his best Ryder Cup ever, winning three matches and losing two. Stewart Cink was phenomenal yesterday, burying Garcia with four birdies in the first five holes. Rookies Zach Johnson, Henry, and Vaughn Taylor had their moments, but do any of them have a Ryder Cup future?

World No. 2 (or 3, depending on the week) Phil Mickelson was next to useless, winning one half-point in five matches. The fact is the Euros came into this knowing they could count on Monty, knowing they could count on Sergio, and knowing they could count on Clarke. And so it was, the Big Three delivering nine individual points. The Americans came in counting on no one. Tiger's improved play was a bonus.
The whole thing was (yet another) struggle from Friday morning until yesterday afternoon.

Truly. The second shot of the 2006 Ryder Cup was a Woods drive into the water on the first hole. The last shot of the 2006 Ryder Cup was a Chris DiMarco shot into the water on the 18th. There's no need for me to supply a punch line.

Matt Hughes made me proud Saturday night …If you only see one MMA fight in your life, please try to find Hughes-Penn 2…

In the 2nd round, again Penn defended well against the takedown but eventually ended up with Hughes on top. The Miletich trained fighter moved cautiously inside Penn’s guard trying not to get caught in a submission and never really landed any solid shots but did eventually get caught in an oma plata shoulder lock that through numerous transitions ended with B.J. Penn on top of Hughes and then ended with a rolling triangle choke/armbar combination that looked to put the champion into some serious trouble.

Hughes survived the round but was now seemingly down 2 rounds to none to the last fighter to put a loss onto his record. The third round was pivotal for Hughes if he hoped not only to survive but to have any chance to win the fight by decision if it went that far. As the round started it looked like B.J. Penn had completely gassed and was out of energy. With his hands almost at his sides, Penn poked at Hughes while standing and eventually ended up on the ground with almost no effort to stop the takedown. While no one doubts Penn’s ground game, his cardio was his downfall as Hughes took minimal effort to pass his opponent’s guard and in doing so, trapped Penn’s arm in a similar position that he had Carlos Newton in during their rematch some years ago.

With Penn’s arm trapped and no easy way to defend or roll out of the position, Hughes started to reign down punches to a basically unguarded face and head of B.J. Penn. After multiple shots that saw Penn wince and shake trying to avoid, referee John McCarthy had no choice but to step in and stop the fight. Matt Hughes, once again proved his dominance and this time his perseverance, in winning his 6th fight in a row and another notch on his championship belt.

More on Hughes

In what was eerily reminiscent of his bout with Carlos Newton at UFC 38, Hughes, from side-control, locked up Penn’s left arm with his legs and pinned his right arm with his left. This left Hughes right hand free to pound away at Penn’s head. After a number of powerful shots landed, referee McCarthy was left with no choice but to rescue the defenseless challenger. “Matt’s a gamer,” said Hughes boxing coach Matt Pena, “so I knew Matt was going to come back.”

Pena went on to detail the effects grappling with Hughes tends to have on his opponents and why they felt they could wear Penn down.

“I told people from the beginning, I mean if Matt has him on the ground … he puts a lead blanket on him. People don’t realize what its like to get back up and I think they kind of seen that as [Penn] started to go back to his corner at the end of the second round.”

“I still love competing,” Hughes stated. “I get to compete, I get to provide for my family. That’s why I do it.”

It seems Hughes will be back in there competing sooner than most anticipated, as it was announced that he will be facing UFC 170-pound No. 1 contender Georges St. Pierre on November 18 at UFC 65.

Here is a real odd tidbit in an NHL preview

I was told to write an introduction to the NHL on season preview.

Before I get to it, this is a must mention:

Did any of you happen to see the Halftime Studio Show on ABC's coverage of the Ohio State/Texas game last week?

If you did, you may have caught a treat:

At one point ESPN College Football Analyst Lee Corso was doing his usual Lee Corso thing: Very animated and affable. Talking about the "key players". Suddenly I looked behind him and noticed someone holding a sign that said this:

"Lee Corso Has A Baby Arm"

It may have been the funniest thing I have seen on TV this year.

Hughes - Penn (Watch it quickly, because it won't be on Youtube for long):

Friday, September 22, 2006

Short and Sweet on Friday

Morrow is locked in through 2013

Morrow signed a six-year contract extension Thursday for $24.6 million. Starting next season, he will earn $4.1 million a season through 2012-13. The deal also includes a no-trade clause.

Morrow will earn $2.2 million this season with a salary cap hit of $2.05 million.
"I was probably 90-10 with 10 percent interested in looking at the free-agent market," said Morrow, 27. "But, you know what? I just decided that this is where I want to be, and this is the team I want to play for."

Morrow's agent, Brad Devine, said his client's talks always seemed to come back to one thing.

"He wants to win a Stanley Cup more than anything, and he is convinced this is the best place for him to do that," Devine said.

Morrow said the two-year, $8 million contract recently signed by teammate Jere Lehtinen sent the message that the Stars' core skaters are at about the same pay level. Mike Modano signed a long-term deal that allows the Stars to carry a salary cap hit of $3.45 million, while Sergei Zubov is at $4 million a year in salary cap cost.

Excellent capology from Andrew’s Page

At Thursday's news conference on the Morrow signing Armstrong said the team is operating under a philosophy that ideally no fewer than five players should get about 50 percent of the team's cap costs.

"The rule of thumb that we are working with is 50 percent of the cap goes on how many players," he said. "We felt comfortable that about five players will consume about 50 percent of your cap and then you are going to have to build the rest."
His five players for 2007-08 are Morrow, Marty Turco, Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano. Those five total about $21.25 million in cap costs.

Armstrong said some teams have gone with as few as three players taking up 50 percent of the cap, but he thinks that is too risky.

Armstrong said he has also tried to structure the five big contracts so that they expire at different times to give the team some flexibility in the free agent market. But he said the Stars may not be major players in next summer's free agent market.

"What we have now is we have continuity with five players. Four of the five players' contracts expire at different times," he said. "We are always going to be able to play in the free agent market, probably except for next summer. All the five core players have contracts through at the least the following season. But we are going to have some flexibility. I think Brenden and everyone is hoping that [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman is correct that this pie is going to get bigger and we'll be able to take advantage of that moving forward."

Rangers and their finances

The Rangers will finish at approximately 2.38 million fans in home attendance this season, a drop of about 140,000 from 2005. Club president Jeff Cogen said Thursday the team will effectively break even financially though the possibility for a statistically insignificant loss remains. Any loss would probably be less than $1 million.

Nevertheless, Cogen said, the Rangers will be graded on attendance. And that has declined measurably.

"I wouldn't characterize this year as successful for us," Cogen said. "The benchmark we are measured by is attendance, and I can't just ignore a drop of 140,000 people. I'm mad about it, but I'm absolutely and fully accountable for it."

The Rangers' payroll jumped from $55 million in 2005 to approximately $68 million for this season after owner Tom Hicks showed a profit for the second consecutive year. Hicks, who asked Cogen to speak for the organization, has said that future payroll will be player specific without going into details. Cogen said the 2007 payroll will probably be affected more by revenue projections for the year than by the 2006 bottom line.


The decline in walk-up sales seems to suggest a lack of buzz about the club.

"Our core fans, I think, are excited about us," Cogen said. "I think as you go out from that core, I still think our secondary group has buzz. It's the outer part of that circle. I don't think fans are alienated, but it has been reported that way. I think we're making some steps towards bringing them back. We're going to build a plan this winter that is poised for success."

Does it take a genius to figure out why fewer people bought tickets?

Longhorn Mailbag

Is Texas still the frontrunner to play Nebraska for the Big 12 title?
– Josh, San Antonio

Sure. Especially if the Longhorns can finagle Pac-10 referees for the Oklahoma game. The big test for UT is still going to be back-to-back trips to Nebraska and Texas Tech in October. If the Longhorns can at least split those games, they can probably book Kansas City.

That said, we're not sure Nebraska is a mortal lock to meet the Longhorns there. Almost everyone in the Big 12 North has a shot to win the division. Everybody's a frontrunner. Except Colorado, which at this point wouldn't even be the frontrunner in the Big Sky.

When does Major Applewhite take over as Tampa Bay's quarterback?
– Bret, El Paso

Easy now. Chris Simms is due for a big, breakout game someday soon. When do the Buccaneers play Baylor?

Aggie Mailbag

I was wondering when someone was going to go to him, and it finally happened: Bob Knight was asked about what he thought of Duck/Sooner

On Jan.20, 2003, the Sooners won 69-64 in overtime after two clock controversies in the final seconds of regulation. The clock paused for about a second at the 6.7-second mark even though play continued. After a foul call stopped it legitimately at 0:04.5, it was an estimated half-second late starting on the inbounds play, enabling Oklahoma to get off the tying shot.

Knight call for the Sooners to forfeit, but to no avail.

"Maybe now those people at Oklahoma understand what I was talking about," he told The Oklahoman of Oklahoma City. "Had Oklahoma forfeited that game against us like I suggested, they would have gotten far more positive publicity out of that than if they had gone to the Final Four that year. Now I guess the 'duck' is swimming in the other pond."

After two blown calls went against Oklahoma in its 34-33 loss to Oregon on Saturday, school President David Boren asked Big 12 Conference commissioner Kevin Weiberg to pursue having the game stricken from the record book. Weiberg said it would stand.

In other Sooner news, a fan of justice emailed me that controversial call from the UAB game that could have led to a major upset in Norman in week 1. Of course, the outrage from the North was not heard on this play, but please review:

So, I guess blown calls occasionally benefit your team, too, Sooner. That is why on this blog I always say, “The Calls even out”.

Email from Sooner:

Victory is yours Bob Sturm.

I promised (after last football season) that I wouldn't be drawn offsides by your swigging of the Sooner hatorade. But I'm back like a miserable mutt asking to be kicked again (expecting my "thanks for listening chump" response directly).

I can admit that the Sooner nation has a large share of ignorant, redneck fans that've never set foot on a college campus. I've been embarrased many times at road games by other Sooner road warriors. But having been to road games in every Big 12 South city, OU/TX and varous bowl games I can say that it's the same thing in Lubbock and College Station (and the cotton bowl is notoriously out of control), etc.

But to the point; I admit that Boren asking for the records to be changed is rediculous. I completely agree that (alleged) death threats to a referree is way over the line. I agree with you on these points.

Likewise I would very much like for Bob to just consider the possibility that last weekend's game was so far from a run-of-the-mill 'bad call'. This really is akin to the 5th down incedent. I don't even see how anybody can disagree (I mean you know it's bad when legions of Longhorn fans are weighing in on the side of Sooners).

Let's get beyond the onside kick which you can't even deny was a bad call twice (OU recovered the ball!) But the Ducks don't even score that go ahead touchdown if the refs don't call pass interference on the tipped ball. Even you can't deny that Bob.

And there it is. This is what's driving me crazy. In Bob's zeal to kick all his Sooner listeners while we're down, he harps on the yards put up against OU's defence. Never mind that OU's defensive troubles were the big story going into the game. Never mind that Oregon's defence was also terrible or that OUs offence played very well.

And now Bob is all about "but they still had to score a touchdown". Enter the refs and ANOTHER bad call. On top of the phantom illegal formation (that cost OU a legit touchdown), on top of the onside debacle. Then add in the tipped ball/pass interference which put the Ducks in the red zone. And finally during the blocked field goal, Ducks were standing on each other! That's not legal in college football either but at that point the rules really didn't matter anymore. That officaiating crew did everything in their power to ensure the Ducks victory.

Sure you're going to discount what I say because I'm a Sooner but do you think it would be any different if it were UT or A&M? It would be worse and I think you know it. And I'm trying to just get plast last weekend myself but Bob keeps rubbing salt in the wound.

And sure I admit that I'm too emotionally wrapped up in college football. I can admit that. After this week-long dog pile I'm a little disappointed that sports-bully-Bob can't see past his obvious dislike for the OU program and see that this is so far beyond bitching about one (so obviously bad) call. What's the point of playing organized sports if rules are interpreted differently for each team?

It's like saying "if the scoreboard says you lost, you lost" but is that true if the score keeper can't count?

Anyway I doubt this even gets read but in the narrow event that it does; Bob, man, myself and many like me have been loyal listeners for a long time (I used to call your night time show for frigs sake). I'm not asking you to pick up a crimson pom pom (far from it) but could you just ease off the hate a little? If this has happend to the Aggies, Horns, Frogs, Mustangs, Cowboys, or any team in the area besides OU you would take a different stance on this game. Do you deny it?

Yeah probably. Of course had this exact same thing happened to the Packers or somebody Bob gives a shite about we'd likely be hearing why it's the biggest travesty in sports history.

Young Andrew in Fort Worth.

My Response:

I disagree about your conclusion, brother- No one was cheering harder for the Mavericks than me. But you did not hear me cry one time in the NBA Finals about all of the shite calls for D-Wade, did you?

I make it my mission in life to not blame the refs. I am just trying to be consistent. But, I will admit, the Sooner has annoyed me in the past. That being said, I still think the refs do not decide games. Players do. Even when Refs really screw up. And they did this time.

Youtube to leave you:

The New Elmo 1:14

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday Sports

On Thursday, I begin to look ahead to the football weekend. Ouch.

This week’s slate of college football appears to be weak. Real weak.

But, this allows for a few things to creep into the sports weekend:

Ryder Cup 2006 where the USA has lost 7 of the last 10, hasn’t won since Ben Crenshaw told us he’s a big believer in fate, and he had a good feeling about this:

What is the Ryder Cup?

The Ryder Cup is a golf trophy contested biennially in an event officially called the Ryder Cup Matches by teams from Europe and the United States. The Ryder Cup was born in 1926, with the US competing against Great Britain on the East Course, Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, Great Britain. After more than 45 years of US dominance (Britain won only once between 1935 and 1973) it was extended to Britain and Ireland in 1973 and then Europe in 1979, which made the Cup considerably more competitive. Currently, the Ryder Cup Matches are jointly administered by the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour.

And, for those of us who are blood-thirsty cavemen, UFC 63 is another chance to watch Matt Hughes destroy a human…

UFC 63 Promo – 10:00

Sherrington on Horned Frog

Outside the team in Austin, who's better this year in Texas?

Besides Tech, the Frogs have already beaten Baylor.

Texas A&M? The Aggies have their hands full with the schedule they've got, and you can hardly blame Dennis Franchione for avoiding any TCU reunions.

Houston? Another 3-0 team; another Aggie-type schedule. Until the Cougars get to Miami, anyway.

SMU? Still not sure how the Mustangs pulled off that 21-10 win last year.
Even with that slip-up, TCU has the nation's longest winning streak at 13.
But here's the problem, Gary: People don't always know what it means.

Sure, you're kicking Mountain West butt. But beating a team from the old SWC tops a victory over anyone in a league that fans still don't know well.

SWC alums are more likely to be your neighbors. Beating teams from a league in your back yard is easier to quantify.

Not that TCU can do anything about history. Unless it's to avenge a world-class snub by the Big 12 at every opportunity.

Check. Patterson has a four-game winning streak over Big 12 teams. Coming into this season, he'd beaten Iowa State in a bowl and Oklahoma in the game that cost Paul Thompson his job, if only temporarily.

And Saturday's game avenged the 70-35 loss in Lubbock two years ago.

But Patterson couldn't wait for Sunday's headlines to make his point, and maybe you couldn't blame him.

Mavs must get Josh Howard done

The Mavericks continue to talk about a contract extension for Josh Howard, owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday, and the parties will have a good chance to take negotiations further this weekend.

Howard, Cuban, coach Avery Johnson and president Donnie Nelson will represent the Mavericks in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the dedication of a new basketball court in Howard's hometown Saturday. The outdoor court is at the recreation center where Howard grew up playing.

The court will be emblazoned with Howard's signature and the initials of his mother and grandmother, for whom the court is dedicated.

Howard has one year left on his rookie contract. The Mavericks have the option of extending it. If they cannot agree on an extension, Howard would become a restricted free agent July 1.

Niinimaa assures us he only sucked because his ankle hurt last year

Janne Niinimaa knows his standing with the Stars is shaky. But he also knows he's standing on two strong ankles for once.

The veteran defenseman is one of eight blueliners on the Stars' roster with an NHL contract. That's one more than most teams will carry during the regular season. Niinimaa is well aware one defenseman could be traded before the season begins Oct. 4.

"I think we're all aware of the situation," said Niinimaa, 31, "but we all also know that there's not much that we can do about it other than play our best."

Niinimaa said he believes he can play his best this year, as his surgically repaired right ankle is finally starting to feel better. The ankle bothered him much of last season. It was clear after a Jan. 10 trade from the New York Islanders that he wasn't the same player who tallied 46 and 44 points in consecutive seasons with Edmonton in the early 2000s.

"This is a game that's played with agility, and a big part of his game is agility," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "I think we'll get a true read on him now."

Niinimaa became a whipping boy among Stars fans not only for his play (only six points and a minus-5 rating in 22 games) but for his apparent bad luck around the team. After acquiring Niinimaa, the Stars were 10-11-1 with him in the lineup and 13-1-2 when he was hurt or a healthy scratch. Niinimaa started the playoffs as a healthy scratch and played the final four games.

2 things about this story: as the Rangers 2007 schedule is considered by Evan Grant

1) – Evan claims some advantageous things about the 2007 schedule suggests he must be reminded how tough the Devil Rays and Royals have been on our heroes.

2) – For the first time since I have lived here (9 seasons), The Brew Crew is coming!

The interleague schedule will not include a game against a team that currently has a winning record. The Rangers visit “natural rival” Houston May 18-20 and will host the Astros June 22-24.

The Rangers’ other interleague games will be at Pittsburgh (June 12-14) and Cincinnati (June 15-17) and at home against Milwaukee (June 8-10) and the Chicago Cubs (June 19-21). It will be the Cubs’ first regular-season visit to Ameriquest Field.

The return of Doug Melvin, Doug Davis, and Kevin Mench!

Sorry, Sooner: The Replay official will sit out the rest of the season, but he will be allowed to live

The instant replay official whose failure to overturn a bad call helped Oregon beat Oklahoma has been granted a leave of absence for the remainder of the football season by the Pac-10 Conference.

The league announced Wednesday that official Gordon Riese, who already has been suspended for a game by the Pac-10, requested a leave of absence.

The All New NBA Game Ball

The great Gregg Easterbrook TMQB

This Fulfills My Obligation to Say Something About the San Francisco-St. Louis Game: First-overall draft pick Alex Smith has now thrown twice as many touchdown passes in 2006 (two) as he did in 2005 (one).

Easterbrook mailbag

Liverpool 2, Newcastle 0 as we finally show a little something. And a goal that will be long remembered is scored…

Liverpool's season was ignited by the Spaniard's moment of genius and a game which might otherwise have been notable only for its snarl at the death had a flash of inspiration by which to be better remembered. The last time Alonso scored for the Merseysiders was at Kenilworth Road back in January, the visitors' fifth goal in an amazing FA Cup third-round tie speared from inside his own half with the Luton goalkeeper Marlon Beresford upfield seeking reward at a corner. The Basque does not score often but when he does it takes the breath away.

This was a glorious effort, even if it owed much to Harper's stumble and slip as he turned, eyes fixed on Alonso's attempt from the edge of the centre-circle. Had he stayed on his feet he would have caught the shot with disdain. Instead the prone goalkeeper ended up pawing desperately in the direction of the ball as it dipped cruelly into the bottom corner. "Steve was distraught but nobody at Newcastle is blaming him," said the United manager Glenn Roeder. "If he doesn't slip it's a great long pass into his hands, but it's still a hell of a bit of skill [from Alonso]."

From then on in the Liverpool midfielder's every touch prompted a chorus of "shoot" from those delirious on the Kop, their team's season picking up new-found momentum born of their midfielder's opportunism. Harper departed with head bowed and, no doubt, cheeks burning.

Check out the goal of the year from Xabi Alonso last night

Jeremy Piven – “Detroit Sucks” - :31

Wee Man skateboards – 1:23

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Let's do this one more time

I am nearly beaten by the topic, but I think we can squeeze one more morning out of Sooner-Duck. I was sent some very interesting columns that should be read by both sides, I think.

The first one is Pat Forde; I am not sure I could say it better myself: Presidentially Preposterous

The Dash understands why Sooner Nation (2) lost its collective mind after the officiating fiasco at the end of the Oregon game, which was won by the Ducks 34-33. The non-call on the onside kick stunk. The inept review of the call was worse. The Pac-10's one-game suspension of the offending officials was completely justified.
But the Oklahoma reaction has become an overreaction. In fact, it has transitioned from righteous indignation to outright insanity.

The actions of school president David Boren (3) make you wonder whether he isn't actually the booster club president instead of the guy running an institution of higher learning. The former governor and U.S. senator pushed out his pouty lip and dashed off a petulant letter to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg (4) that is embarrassing on multiple levels. "… The Big 12 should request that the game should not go into the record books as a win or a loss by either team in light of the level of officiating mistakes," Boren's letter said.

And strike the Kansas City Royals' 1985 World Series title from the record books because of that terrible call at first base by Don Denkinger, too!

"It is truly sad and deeply disappointing that members of our football team should be deprived of the outcome of the game that they deserved because of an inexcusable breakdown in officiating," Boren concluded.

What's truly sad and deeply disappointing to The Dash is the fact that Boren should have such an inexcusable breakdown in perspective.

Is there really nothing better for the president to do at the University of Oklahoma? Like, maybe check in on the college of arts and sciences? Or, if he's that terribly concerned about the football program, perhaps he could lend a hand to the compliance office and help monitor players' jobs at local car dealerships. Y'know, make sure they actually show up and do some work.

If the president can put down his pompon for a minute, he'll realize a couple of things:

1. Bad calls happen. In every game. A few times a year, they can play a critical role in a game's outcome. Are we going to set a precedent of presidential hissy fits after each critical blown call?

2. The game did not end on this bad call. Oklahoma still had the lead, still had a chance to win. It didn't get the job done.

But instead of absorbing this as an object lesson -- life is not fair, but you have to deal with it -- the school president is setting the sore-loser tone.

Coach Bob Stoops (5) went off shortly after Boren, all but declaring the officials and the Pac-10 unforgiven for the damage done to Oklahoma's season. (Bob: You can still win the Big 12 title and go to a BCS bowl. And you weren't going to win anybody's national championship anyway. You might have sustained the illusion for another few weeks by winning this game, but it wasn't going to happen.)

When asked about Boren's letter, Stoops thanked the prez for taking time away from reviewing game film to join in the bitchfest.

"We have a great administration," Stoops said. "President Boren is the absolute best president a head coach can have."

Clearly. The question is whether he's the best president a math professor can have.
Then again, maybe Boren is simply following presidential precedent at Oklahoma. It was OU prez George Cross who once explained to the state legislature a need for more funding because, "I would like to build a university which the football team can be proud of."

In closing, The Dash will take the obnoxious step of quoting itself, just to help the honorable president Boren. This was from an August column enumerating 23 new rules of conduct for college football fans:

If the scoreboard says you lost, you lost. That's not going to change. Take an hour to vent postgame, then try to regain your sanity. Do not diminish your quality of life -- and the quality of life of those around you -- by spewing for days about the refs who cheated your team, the flagrant league bias against your team or the complete lack of class displayed by the team that beat your team. Your team l-o-s-t.
Try to deal.

Here is more on the replay official’s experience

first you should know that Riese didn't see the ABC television feed that viewers watched at home, which you, your spouse and your children know showed an Oregon player touching the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards. And you should know that Riese will not talk about specifics on the call, but said: "My supervisor knows what happened up there and that's all that matters."

A source in the replay booth on Saturday said that Riese found himself crunched for time, pressured by television and the on-field referee for a rapid decision, and there was such a delay in getting the video feed to Riese that he never even got to properly review the play.

The Pac-10's coordinator of football officiating confirmed that Riese didn't get all of the replays that ABC was providing.

With all the cameras working the game that one half of the country was watching, Riese saw only a single frame of video, the source said. The angle was bad. But it appeared to show an Oklahoma player touching the ball with his helmet before it hit the Oregon player. (From other angles, clearly, it hits the Ducks player first.)
With no other video immediately available, and television waiting, Riese did what he's told to do when he's out of time and has no conclusive evidence.

He upheld the call on the field.

The university president wants this to go down as a no-contest. Some Oklahoma fans want retribution. Some conference officials just want this to quietly go away because it smacks of a serious problem with the replay process. And what we're really probably entitled to any regular American fifth grader would tell you is a playground do-over.

Adults don't do those things, though.

Kill the umpire, right? Zebra hunt?

This is probably a good time to remind ourselves that sports isn't war. It's not life or death. College football is supposed to be a pleasant, passionate weekend diversion, void of death threats for sure. There's just something that doesn't feel right about villifying Riese, especially after further review.

And even noted Sooner homer Berry Tramel reminds Bob Stoops of his mantra:

No excuses.

That's what Stoops proclaimed the day he was hired and that's how he's coached these eight memorable seasons. Such a mantra has served him well.

Now Stoops teeters on the edge of excuse-making. Yes, the refs rooked him Saturday in Eugene. Yes, barring miracle of miracles, the game is over with the proper onside kick call.

Yes, it's accurate to say that Mister Gordon Riese of Portland, Ore., cost the
Sooners the game.

But so did a blocked field goal. So did OU's sudden allergy to pass defense. Riese's brain lock, or whatever caused this scandal, did not end the game. This was not Lubbock.

The Sooners had time to recover from this and darn near did.

Stoops began his press conference Tuesday with a short acknowledgement that the Sooners were accountable for part of their demise. He ended his informal sortee with writers the same way.

Stoops assured that he and his players have moved on, and the actions of his players backed him up. The young among us are resilient. They bounce back.

In news that had nothing to do with Sooner-Duck
Bradie James is now locked in, too

First the Cowboys took care of two-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten. Then they took care of three-time Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams.

On Tuesday the Cowboys took care of inside linebacker Bradie James, who they hope will be a Pro Bowler. The team signed James to a five-year extension worth $20 million that includes an $8 million signing bonus.

Since 2003, the Cowboys have guaranteed nearly $35 million to linebackers in bonus money as part of free-agent or rookie deals to James, Bobby Carpenter, DeMarcus Ware, Akin Ayodele, Kevin Burnett and Al Singleton.

The Cowboys have six other players who could be unrestricted free agents after this season: center Al Johnson, defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Marcus Coleman (who is on the suspended list), right tackle Marc Colombo, center Andre Gurode and linebacker Al Singleton. Punter Mat McBriar will be a restricted free agent.
Farther down the road, the Cowboys will have to work on a deal for cornerback Terence Newman, who is signed through 2007.

Last night in Denver, Marty Turco and the Avalanche trio of Sakic, Brunette and Hejduk reminded us of late April, But isn’t this the biggest story?

Briefly: When Colorado's Andrew Brunette opened the scoring at 1:49 of the first period the musical selection confirmed that the Avalanche is among the many teams in pro sports that has junked the song, "Rock and Roll Part 2" as a celebratory anthem in the wake of Gary Glitter's conviction on molestation charges in Vietnam. That's especially significant because the old NHL Colorado Rockies team introduced the song to major league sports back in the late 1970s. The Avalanche now is using Blur's "Song 2."

Players come to your house to watch the game

Former Vikings John Randle and Chris Doleman and ex-Bear Shaun Gayle are part of an eBay auction in which the winning bidder will get all three to come to their house -- snacks and beverages included -- to watch the game. Bidding, which goes through 11 a.m. Thursday, had climbed over $1,000 by Tuesday afternoon. Proceeds will go to the Jimmy V Foundation, and bidders must be 21 or older and live within 75 miles of either the Metrodome or Soldier Field. Go to to bid.

"Fans are a part of what makes the game great," Randle said Tuesday afternoon. "This is one way to give back. I'm psyched about it."

Randle said there's no real plan other than watching football and hanging out. The one guarantee: He won't be wearing his trademark face paint.

"That's been retired," he said with a laugh.

Ebay Link is here for the Miller Lite auction ….

Coach Fran’s decision is defended in San Antonio

So it wasn't the smartest decision. I liked it.

Last Saturday night, Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione chose to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 31-yard line, while nursing a 28-24 lead against Army in the Alamodome.

Everyone inside those four tall walls — apparently except for No. 94 on the defense, end Cameron Craig — figured 275-pound Jorvorskie Lane would earn that yard with 2:58 remaining. And the four-touchdown favorite Aggies would run out the clock on a narrow victory.

It didn't quite go that way, with an amped-up Craig busting past an A&M offensive line collectively yelling, "Ole!" and planting a startled Lane backward in the fake grass. Lane said Tuesday he never saw Craig coming.

Fortunately for the Aggies, A&M's defense held on a goal-line stand and saved the victory — and Franchione from his most embarrassing defeat as Aggies coach — 77-0 at Oklahoma notwithstanding. That loss came in Franchione's first season. This is his fourth.

Franchione said he went for it because he believed in his players. Presumably he still does, and said Tuesday he'd go for it again.

People have asked if Franchione rolled the dice on offense because he didn't believe in his defense. If that was the case, he'd rather have his defense face an 80-yard drive late in the game, than one from 30 — so that argument doesn't make sense.

Actually, it does make sense. If you go for it and make it, you don’t have to send your defense back out there. I believe that goes a long way in telling you he doesn’t want his defense to decide the game…

Revo tells us Showalter should stay …and his mole in the clubhouse makes another triumphant appearance…

I keep reading and hearing that the Rangers are uptight, that the clubhouse is tense because of Showalter's micro-managing.

Horse hockey.

Is that why they've been playing some of their best baseball of the season lately? Or is it because the Rangers have suddenly been getting solid pitching from four starters and the bullpen?

"Players whine, that's how it is," a Rangers staffer told me Tuesday. "They're not thinking about Buck when they're playing defense or at the plate.

"This clubhouse isn't tense. There's nothing to be tense about."

When Oakland was in town, the A's players were grousing about manager Ken Macha. Some Angels players had choice words for manager Mike Scioscia. But not to his face, of course.

"Hey, Joe Torre's been fired. Tony La Russa's been fired. I got it," Showalter said. "I want to rise above it."

In any clubhouse there are a handful of players who think the manager is great, a handful who can't stand him and maybe 15 riding the fence.

"The secret of managing," Casey Stengel once said, "is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided."

That's a tough job.

There's no question that Showalter's style wears on players, especially veterans. It's just little stuff, mostly petty, but it's cumulative. It happened in Arizona, too.

It's not like Showalter doesn't know this about himself, and that he hasn't tried to ease back some. But he needs to do even more.

If he gets the chance.

He needs to take another giant step back next year and turn the clubhouse over to his veterans, like Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and Mark DeRosa. Tell them what's expected and then leave it to them.

Today’s A-Rod is a jerk story from the New York Post and Sports Illustrated

This will be on our show today or tomorrow I think:

Steve the Grape Guy’s website

He has caught a grape thrown by hand – 177 feet

He has caught a grape shot by a slingshot – 267 feet

He has caught a grape dropped from the 22nd floor of the Sahara hotel in Las Vegas for the longest outdoor catch.

He has caught a grape dropped from the 15th floor of the World Trade Center in Dallas for the longest indoor catch.

He has caught 1189 grapes in 30 min. from 15 feet away.

Today’s email bag:

I am listening to you guys on the Internet right now and you are talking about the football game on Saturday. I am obviously an OU fan but I try to come to the table logically, and I mostly agree with everything you said (not Dan, who obviously didn't see the game at all). The flaw I have with your argument is that it was blown on the instant replay, which is actually ridiculous, in my opinion. I have yet to hear anyone who has seen the replay on the onside kick who thought that (A) the ball wasn't touched by the Oregon player before the 10-yard cushion and (B) it wasn't recovered by the OU player. I realize that the onfield crews have to make split second decisions that can go either way and can be wrong against one team or the other. That is why we now have instant replay.

The problem is that after 59 minutes of getting the calls relatively right on both sides (and keep in mind that OU had two TD's brought back due to a penalty and a reversal of an onfield call due to the player stepping out of bounds), the officiating was decidedly in Oregon's favor when it was clutch time. If nothing else was called right, it was very important that the replay official see what everyone else in the world saw - penalty on the Oregon player for illegal touching and OU ball after a recovery of the onside kick. OU could decline the penalty and easily run out the clock at that point. The choking by the OU defense aside, OU deserved to win the game.

Also addressing the comparison to OU/Texas Tech basketball game, I agree 100 percent. Many OU fans were smug in telling Knight to go home and insisted that there was nothing wrong with the clock - there obviously was. However, Texas Tech more than evened the score on that last year when that final drive had several calls that went against OU (a fourth down spot of the ball that was a yard past where the player was down, a questionable catch in the end zone that was juggled all the way to the tunnel, and the final game-winning touchdown in which the running back for TT has still not scored).

Given that the last two true road games played by the Sooners (TT was the last true road game for OU last year if I remember correctly) were lost on a last-minute failure of instant replay officials to make the call as it appeared to everyone else, it must be difficult for OU coaches to get their players to believe they can win on the road when they have to take on the "12th man" in the instant replay booth. I know it sounds like sour grapes, but I question whether Oregon would have won that game had there been no officials on the field at all. My guess is that they would have lost 33-27, which is the score as it should have been.

And lastly, if OU deserved to lose because of the horrendous play of their defense (which forced four turnovers, by the way), then how do you feel about the play of the homefield Oregon defense who forced no turnovers and allowed Peterson to dominate running the ball in the fourth quarter (I heard 147 yards but I can't prove that)? Both teams deserved to win, but only one team earned the win on the field. Oregon should have their instant replay official win taken away and take pride in winning on the turf and not in the booth.

Sooner Jeff
1st – In response to your Hollis Price and your comparison to officials or home cooking, you have to agree that Hoops and their 35 games season and college football and their 12 game schedule has nothing to do with each other. Yes it happened in Norman, but it was a conference game that each team plays 16 of them, and it didn’t effect both teams opportunity to play in the NCAA’s and chance at a championship.

2nd – In response to your President Boren argument…you are dead wrong….OU is football and the entire country relates to the State of Oklahoma as a football state……he is stepping up and doing what the million of fans want him to do………..have a voice and represent your fans and alumni with a voice that can make a difference.

3rd – This has never happened in college football……….and don’t mention the Missouri-Neb 5th down play because they didn’t have instant replay during that season.
This is unprecedented and that’s the reason why the uproar……….

4th – And the part that hurts the most…..Most experts think OU could go undefeated if they win 2 games..Oregon and Texas……..They were half way there until they were robbed of a win……..

5th – This has nothing to do with the porous defense…..Did Texas deserve to win the Rose Bowl when they gave up 600 yds of offense?
Saying “they should of played better defense” is a cop out and has nothing to do with the argument. If the official make the correct call, OU wins by 6 and are undefeated.

Since the PAC 10 says it was the wrong call….there you have it………….The only RIGHT thing to do is take the loss away from OU so that their National Championship dreams aren’t ruined by two guys who made wrong decisions last Saturday……

Browns tight end Kellen Winslow spoke out in the locker room Monday, saying the coaching staff is holding back the offense and it's time to unleash it. He also said he doesn't understand why he's not on the field on third down.
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

I took the above quote from the Truth & Rumors section of today. Dude, this guy is either crazy, or has the biggest set of man marbles I have ever seen. Let me get this straight. You come out of college as a loudmouth, brash, but supremely talented player, only to get injured forthe entire year in your first NFL game. You then follow up that stellar year with another complete season lost to injuries, this time by pretending you are Evil Kneivel.

So here we are in year three, and after the second game of your third season, your THIRD game ever as an NFL player, and you have the audacity to call out your coaching staff??? Seriously, is this really happening??? What say you Bully Sports Sturm?

Eric Brigance

Steve Young: on today’s show at 1:30

Being a Saints fan is summed up in 1:36:

Will Ferrell for Ipod