Chicago Sun-Times
A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

November 2010 Archives

Thumbnail image for drewbrees.JPGDrew Brees had an eventful year.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback won the Super Bowl MVP, served as a Madden cover boy, melted hearts everywhere by appearing in photos with his young son and brought joy to a city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

For all that, plus his generous off-the-field contributions, he's been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

Brees will receive the honor tonight in New York City.

One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better choice ...

Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson was lackluster in a 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last night. He was also quite animated during his post-game interview session with the media.

Anderson was repeatedly asked about a televised shot of him sharing a laugh with guard Deuce Lutui in the fourth quarter.

"I'm telling you right now what I do every single week! Every single week I put my heart and soul into this!" Anderson responded, his voice gaining volume. "I don't go out there and laugh. It's not funny. Nothing's funny to me. I don't want go out there and get embarrassed on Monday Night Football in front of everybody."

That, of course, has been sanitized for language.

The outburst was reminiscent of another Monday night meltdown in Arizona a few years ago by Dennis Green after a loss to the Bears.

Here that is, as if Bears fans need any reminder.

erik-spoelstra.jpgThis year, the Miami Heat were supposed to threaten the 1995-96 Bulls' NBA record of 72 wins in a season.

OK, maybe not everyone thought that.

But few expected them to stumble out of the gate to a 9-8 start.

Now we get a report that there is some dissension in that locker room, with players questioning if Erik Spoelstra is the right man to coach.

The most compelling item included in the report is the fact that the 40-year-old coach has taken a hard line with his stars.

"He's jumping on them," one source said. "If anything, he's been too tough on them. Everybody knows LeBron is playful and likes to joke around, but Spoelstra told him in front of the whole team that he has to get more serious. The players couldn't believe it. They feel like Spoelstra's not letting them be themselves."
This only adds more fuel to those who think this bump was no accident at all, but rather a sinister omen of things to come.

Or something dramatic like that ...

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson took it to Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan yesterday In one of the most legit on-field fights we've seen in a long time.

The two have a history of getting into it. Then again, who doesn't have a history of getting into it with Finnegan?

After a long day of battle, the cornerback pushed up Johnson's facemask at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter.

It was the last straw. The last haymaker-yielding straw.

After the game, Johnson apologized to his teammates, the orginization and fans for his actions, which are out of character for a player known for being soft-spoken.

We'll soon know if his punches will earn him a suspension ...
Josh-Hamilton-MVP.jpgAs expected, Josh Hamilton added another impressive chapter in his redemption story today by winning the American League MVP.

The Texas Rangers center fielder received 22 of the 28 first-place votes. Miguel Cabrera, of the Detroit Tigers, received five first-place votes and finished second, while Toronto's Jose Bautista got one nod, finishing fourth. New York Yankees' Robinson Cano finished third.

The selection comes after a year in which Hamilton led the league in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging. He missed 24 games after a September injury, but still helped his Rangers win their first division since 1999 ...

Gold medalist Lindsey Vonn has channeled her inner Sharon Stone for an upcoming cover of ESPN The Magazine.

Interested parties can get their hot little hands on the periodical on Friday, when it hits newsstands.

Vonn does indeed look a lot like Stone, but is missing one key element --a cigarette.

The re-creation is part of the magazine's movie edition.

Insert your own Kyle Korver-Ashton Kutcher observation here ...

The Bears are for real.

Wait, that can't be right. Typing it just seemed so awkward.

But after dominating -- yes, dominating -- the Miami Dolphins last night, Lovie Smith and company sit atop the NFC Central at 7-3.

Everything went right for them.

The defense shut down "Tyler Thigpen" -- a professional quarterback, I guess. The offense was not spectacular, but extremely proficient. Robbie Gould kicked field goals with such accuracy that Matt Millen was proud to be a fellow Penn State grad.

And, of course, this exchange between Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler went down.

Perhaps it was the most enjoyable minute or so of all for some of you.

Walk proud, Chicago. You have a first-place football team for the day ...

Finally, an eight-year-old-gets-tackled-by-a-drunk-fan story with a happy ending. Or, at the very least, an attempt at a happy ending.

The New York Jets have offered to fly the boy, who suffered scrapes and bruises to his ankle after being taken down by an over-served Browns fan Sunday in Cleveland, out to the Meadowlands for a Gang Green game.

This violence, of course, is not the best example of Clevelanders being great people. But they are. They really are. Even Punchy.

The family declined the offer, which included some autographed merchandise, because they are "done with this story."

eva-longoria.jpgThe most famous couple in San Antonio is no more.

Eva Longoria filed papers in Los Angeles Wednesday to end her three-year marriage to San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker.

The New York Post is reporting that the "Desperate Housewives" star discovered her man had been texting Erin Barry, the estranged wife of former Spur Brent Barry.

"There's no physical relationship between Tony and Erin," the source said. "There was texting that went on for a while and probably crossed the line. Eva found out by looking at his phone."
Parker was able to focus enough last night to score 21 points and dish out seven assists in a win against the Bulls ...

Southern Mississippi linebacker Martez Smith is paralyzed from the waist down, according to a source close to the player.

Smith and two of his teammates, Tim Green and Deddrick Jones, were shot outside a nightclub this weekend following the team's victory over 25th-ranked Central Florida.

All three are listed in fair condition, but the source told the Associated Press that Smith's spinal cord had been severed.

Police say they have arrested two women in connection with the shooting and are searching for a man.

So that happened.

Michael Vick authored one of the most impressive quarterbacking efforts, well, ever, last night in a 59-28 laugher.

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback threw for four touchdowns, ran for two more and piloted the offense to 45 first-half points.

No road team has ever taken that many into halftime.

Vick was a one-man fantasy dynamo. He singlehandedly erased what looked like an easy personal victory. Surely, thousands of others suffered this fate around the country. It's hard to be mad, because it was just too much fun to watch.

The question of the moment is a fair one: Is Vick the league's best player?

Before you answer, consider his video-game-like stats this season.

He's compiled a sky-high 115.1 passer rating, thrown for 11 touchdowns without an interception and added another 341 yards rushing ...
wrigley-field-football.jpgWell, this just looks dangerous.

Saturday's clash between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field should be entertaining for a variety of reasons, and the end zone of death is just one of them.

Here is the east end zone, located in a Tyler Colvin-less right field. Look closely at the back line. It practically runs into the brick wall, which is thankfully padded.

Still, it's hard to imagine any fades, posts or flys being run at full speed down in the red zone while going that way.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had their prayers answered yesterday in the form of a game-winning Hail Mary as time expired in a 31-24 win over the Houston Texans.

David Garrard's 50-yard heave was batted down by Glover Quin ... right into the waiting hands of receiver Mike Thomas.

It was just the fourth time in league history that a game has ended in regulation on a touchdown pass of 50-plus yards.

"It was the Thank You, Jesus play," Garrard said. "My wife's name is Mary so I always love to call the Hail Mary, but really when it works like that, it's beyond words."

Perhaps it's time to update the whole "bat it down" mantra employed by defensive backs in these situations. It's a good idea, sure, but if it's just as simple to catch the ball, that's not an entirely poor strategy either .

Anyone with me on that ... 
New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is being accused by his alma mater of giving collegiate players improper benefits.

The university claims the sure-handed Nicks dropped around $3,300 into the lap of the program.

The "impermissible benefits" given by Nicks, the two players, and two others, "includes the estimated value of lodging provided in their homes," the release stated, "some of which was repaid by the involved student-athletes before they or their hosts knew that receipt of the benefits violated NCAA rules."

Thumbnail image for s-CARRIE-PREJEAN-KYLE-BOLLER-large.jpgHave you heard the day's biggest news? Wait for it ...

Oakland Raiders backup quarterback Kyle Boller and former Miss California Carrie Prejean are reportedly expecting their first child.

The couple will not know the sex of the baby until next week.

Boller and Prejean wed last July.

She made national headlines after being stripped of her crown after being accused of breaching her contract. He has not attempted a pass this season.

But none of that will stop this baby from having perfect, straight teeth ...

Garnett-Noah.jpgJoakim Noah used to have a picture of Kevin Garnett in his room. The big man was someone the future Bull looked up to.

But those days are gone.

Speaking on ESPN Radio yesterday, Noah said that the trash-talking Boston Celtics stalwart wouldn't be getting any Christmas gifts from him this year.

"I don't like him," he added. He's a very mean guy. Where's the love? None at all. Ugly, too."

Garnett, of course, was recently accused of calling Detroit Pistons' Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient." Garnett denied the claim, instead saying he told Villanueva that the youngster was cancerous to his team.

Even so, there's been plenty of debate about Garnett's "bully" act.

Noah seemed to echo sentiments that the veteran goes after those, well let's just say, more apt to be intimidated.

"He was very mean to me my rookie year. And he's only mean to the young guys and the [European players], for some reason. I don't know why, but that's who he doesn't like. He's not nice. I talk a lot of trash out there, but c'mon, be a little sensitive. Be sweet."

I guess not every trick play can be as successful as the one we brought you this morning.

For every newfangled gadget that gets air time on all the nationally-broadcast morning shows, there is one that falls flat on its face.

This, clearly, is one of those.

Not only was the back-flipping player flagged for excessive celebration, he was ejected from the game, along with his coach.
Terrell Owens hauled in his 150th and 151st touchdown receptions of his career, but it wasn't enough for the Cincinnati Bengals last night in a 27-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But if it had been a dancing competition instead of a football-playing one, Owens would have single-handedly powered the hometown team to victory.

Observe the grace and precision with which he executes this mine routine after his first touchdown grab.

Flawless. Powerful. Buster Keaton-like.

Then, just to show all the pantomiming hasn't made him too soft, he trucks over a security guard on his second one.

NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton had a little disagreement about how yesterday's AAA Texas 500 should have been contested.

That disagreement resulted in this physical altercation, which was capped by the deliciousness of them being forced to ride together in an ambulance.

This came after driver Kyle Busch was assessed a two-lap penalty for an obscene gesture directed at a race official.

And you were probably wasting your time with something boring like football ...

Few things are more debasing than spitting at another human being, so it's no surprise the passions surrounding what allegedly happened in Baltimore yesterday.

Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder went on a profanity-laced tirade in which he accused Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain of spitting in his face during Baltimore's 26-10 victory.

"Y'all can write it down," Crowder told reporters. "The [expletive] punk Le'Ron McClain spit in my face. Keep writing -- he spit in my face, and that's why I got mad. The refs told me they didn't see nothing, they didn't see the spit hit my face.''

McClain denied the claim.

"I guess he got a little frustrated,'' he said. "We got into a little head-butting conversation, but no spit, man. Probably me talking, but all the spitting, that ain't my game. I play ball between the whistles. I got that crazy penalty against New England [a personal foul in overtime] and learned from that. Why would I spit in his face? That's crazy. We were right in each other's face. I don't know what he was saying. He thought I spit on him. I sure wasn't trying if I did. I don't see no spit coming out of my mouth.''

More mouth-watering links after the jump ...
Things were going so well for Cam Newton.

He is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman, is master and commander of the undefeated Auburn Tigers and the subject of a recent "Sports Illustrated" feature chronicling his unusual path to this point atop college football

But now, reports of a man claiming to represent the quarterback during the height of his recruitment from junior college last year trying to solicit a six-figure payment have surfaced.

One-time Mississippi State quarterback John Bond said he was contacted by a former teammate who "said it would take some cash to get Cam."

Newton's father, minister Cecil Newton, denied having any knowledge of the alleged offer.

The NCAA has not yet commented on the situation ...

Former Dallas Cowboys lineman Nate Newton has lost a remarkable 175 pounds, leaving him unrecognizable to fans familiar with the larger-than-life version.

After swelling to 400 pounds, the three-time Super Bowl champion underwent a surgical procedure called vertical gastrectomy, which removes up to 75 percent of the stomach.

Newton, who said he hasn't been this svelte since he was in 10th grade, has a hard time getting discounts and paying with a credit card because clerks don't immediately believe the transformation.

He's not entirely upset about that, though.

"Feels good," he said of the change. "You can pop out of bed; you can get up without groaning. It just feels better, lighter." ...
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who is collecting his paycheck by playing football despite threatening to retire earlier this year, met with NFL commissioner Roger Goddell two days ago in New York to talk about helmet-to-helmet hits.

Harrison says the get-together was "semi-productive."

You'll remember Harrison spent a day away from his team pondering his future after being fined for a hit on the Cleveland Browns' Mohamed Massaquoi on Oct. 17. That was the Sunday that prompted the increased emphasis on dangerous hits from the league.

Harrison is appealing that fine.

"I came away with a better understanding and I guess they got a better understanding of how I see things,'' Harrison he said of his trip to the league's offense ...

charlie-villanueva-garnett-cancer.jpgNoted trash-talker Kevin Garnett may have taken it too far against Charlie Villanueva and the Detroit Pistons.

Villanueva tweeted that the Boston Celtics big man said he looked like a "cancer patient".

Villanueva, who suffers form alopecia universalis, which causes hair loss, went on to say he'd like to see Garnett in a fight.

This, of course, is not the first time that people have noticed Garnett's efforts to get under an opponent's skin. In fact, here's a full post chronicling his penchant for picking on anyone but the toughest guy on the court.

And, predictably, some are saying his tough-guy act needs to be retired ...

jon-runyan.jpgIt was a big night for athletes-turned-politicians.

Former NFL offensive lineman Jon Runyan was victorious in a New Jersey House race. The 14-year league veteran ran as a Republican and rode to victory on a wave of voter frustration.

Voters frustrated? That never happens.

Meanwhile, former NBA player Chris Dudley is locked in a virtual dead heat in the Oregon gubernatorial race.

After the jump, some non-political links to go with your morning coffee.

Tim Lincecum challenges our long-held theories about what it means to be a man's man.

He has Anthony Kiedis' hair. He wore this snazzy bow tie to his Game 5 start against the Texas Rangers last night.

Then, he went out and dominated, clinching the San Francisco Giants' first World Series since 1954, when they were still playing in New York.

Over the next couple of days, you'll read about how this plucky, ragtag crew of misfits and knuckleheads someone pulled off an improbable championship run to the point of exhaustion. Still, it's hard not to be happy that such a technologically advanced city got the opportunity just what a new-media-centric celebration looks like.

Oh, and Juan Uribe. Never a bad thing when he is happy ...
Randy-Moss-waived.jpgRandy Moss continues to star in a soon-to-be-ripped-from-the-headlines full-length feature film.

A day after praising the New England organization (which he doesn't play for anymore) and criticizing the Minnesota Vikings (which he did), the temperamental wide receiver was waived.

So if you're keeping score at home, that's two teams up, two teams down in eight weeks of play.

It goes without saying that picking up Moss is a risky proposition, but if you think that's stopping Bears fans from taking to the Internet in droves to recommend they do just that, think again ...
brady-moss.jpgRandy Moss, who was earlier fined for not cooperating with the media, conducted a press conference yesterday in which he asked himself questions, then answered them.

Or something like that. It's pretty hard to understand the inner machinations of that man's mind.

Here, read for yourself about his new philosophy:

"Well, I am going to go ahead and start this thing off. I am going to go ahead and say this - I said this a couple of weeks ago - but I got fined $25,000 for not talking to you all," Moss said after his Minnesota Vikings fell to the New England Patriots. "Me, personally, I really don't care, but at the same time, I do answer questions throughout the week, and for the league to fine me $25,000 ... I am not going to answer any more questions for the rest of this year.

"If it is going to be an interview, I am going to conduct it. So, I will answer my own questions and ask myself the questions and give you the answers. So from here on out, I am not answering any more questions the rest of this season."

Then he went on to laud former coach Bill Belichick and criticize his current coach, Brad Childress.

The confusing video after the jump ...

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