As I sit still basking in my Father's Day glow, I started thinking about the things that are making me feel good in sports right now.
Some are "feel good" stories. Some are not pleasant but also show how the worm can turn. All of them, when I close my eyes , either make me giggle, smirk, or mutter to myself "I told you so..."
I decided to take a second to give one man's opinion of sports happiness. Whether you agree or not is unimportant. Hopefully it will cause you to say "That boy is a fool...Here's a better list!" I would prefer to not see my list get shot down by the comment board , but to see what 10 things are working for you.
Thanks for looking in and let's get started in no particular order...
Will you look at that picture! Even though that was taken the day after, that is truly a wonderful Father's Day moment. A lot of pain led to this pleasure. Welcome back, David Duval!
Being that I live in Jacksonville, Flo., I am very familiar with Duval. His father, a club pro in near Ponta Vedra and Champions Tour member, raised his son on the golf course.
The upbringing caused David to excel in golf very early in life. Eventually, after a successful collegiate career, he joined the PGA. He went on to become the No. 1 golfer in the world...and yes...Tiger was around then.
Much like George Foreman's early career, success didn't give him fulfillment. He never smiled. He was aloof with both the press and the galleries. He let it be known that he would rather be on a mountain snow skiing than playing golf sometimes.
This manifested in him making abrupt changes in his life. Upon hearing way too many comments about his weight, along with pressure to be more like Tiger, he began a workout regiment that not only changed his body type completely but also affected his swing mechanics.
Tinkering with his swing, changing equipment, long hiatuses away from the tour...he tried everything. None worked. Before he knew it, David Duval, who once shot a 59 in a PGA event, was spoken in the same breath as Ian Baker-Finch. Outstanding golfers who mysteriously lost their "Mojo".
After a few more years of spraying drives all over galleries, David Duval took some time away. He moved to Colorado and fell in love. He married into a family that wasn't about golf. The pressure started lifting, His priorities got in order. And David Duval discovered something. He missed golf.
Many false starts and mis-fires occurred. Missed cuts and erratic play fueled earlier thoughts that his talent had disappeared. 2009 was the last year Duval had PGA exception. It had to happen this year.
After one top-five finish, Duval was feeling very good about his game coming into the U.S. Open tourney. Nobody else was really noticing. I noticed changes immediately. His original build has returned. He seemed relaxed yet focused. Most importantly...I saw a smile on the first tee.
The fact that David Duval was tied for the lead with two holes remaining was both amazing and inspiring. The fact he didn't win was a sidebar. He told us he would contend. We ignored him.
He stayed on the leaderboard as we waited for his game to implode. It didn't. It all led to a tie for second place finish and this heartfelt moment with his son.
If Phil Mickelson was the sentimental favorite this weekend, David Duval was the inspirational favorite. I really enjoyed watching him shine again. I feel it won't be short-lived.
It was music to my ears. From a very unexpected source. And it made complete sense.
Fran Tarkenton is potentially the greatest Minnesota Viking of all time. He led the Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances. Though he didn't win any, he retired one of the NFL's best QBs of all time. He is in both the college & professional Hall of Fames.
During his playing days, he was known for his scrambling skills and his improvisational skills. Some could have labeled him a "gunslinger."
So you would think he would welcome Brett Favre to the Vikings with open arms to finish what he wasn't able to do in his tenure: Win a championship.
Au contraire, mon frère!
Mr. Tarkenton is not on board. He is not driving the "Welcome Wagon". If anything, he just backed it over Brett Favre. Why, you say? Let's try to figure it out.
He doesn't want Favre breaking his records? That's not it. Favre has broken every NFL record Tarkenton held and won't be in Minnesota long enough to touch any Vikings records.
He doesn't want Favre stealing his thunder? Nope. Tarkenton has been a Viking supporter all through his retired life. He still attends games and speaks at many Vikings-related events. Why wouldn't he want Minnesota to win a Super Bowl, regardless who is behind the center?
The reason Fran has come out and blasted Favre is for all the right reasons (and not just because it supports a few things I spoke of in my previous article on Favre).
No, it's because he is a TRUE Minnesota Viking and he doesn't want some DAMN Green Bay Packer player coming to his team. Rivalries run deep in the NFC Central. Feuds are not easily forgotten.
Tarkenton thinks not only is it sacrilege to have Favre in the purple uniform but the way he has the franchise waiting on his every daily feelings is making him sick. Unlike many who are afraid of the "Favre mystic", he stated his feelings, LOUDLY, on ESPN Radio...for all to hear. I loved every hate-filled word.
I applaud Mr. Tarkenton. Any really good sports fan understands rivalries. For there to be good, there must be evil. I'm a Georgia Bulldog fan. The fact that Fran graduated from there just makes me prouder.
People ask me who else I pull for in college football and I say NO ONE! It's just the Bulldogs. My aim is true. I love the Dawgs and HATE everyone else.
I never forget either. As an NFL fan, I always hated Tony Dorsett, Robert Smith, Dan Marino, Duce Staley, Todd Blackledge, and any DAMN Florida Gator. It took eight seasons before I grew to accept Fred Taylor on my beloved Jaguars.
It also, in turn, kills me that my favorite Bulldog players tend to get drafted by teams I hate. Herschel Walker to the Cowboys, Hines Ward to the Steelers, and David Pollack to the Bengals have been three of the worse cases.
This is what I mean by respecting Fran...He doesn't want Favre to fail because he's jealous, he wants him to fail because he's a Packer. And that's OK by me!
When Rex Ryan was hired as head coach of the New York Jets, I thought it was pretty cool. He was a very serviceable defensive coordinator over the years. His dad was freakin' Buddy Ryan. Pretty cool indeed.
I had no idea how cool he'd end up being. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, in this case. In the last couple of weeks, Ryan has thrown verbal missiles at Bill Belichick and basically challenged Miami Linebacker Channing Crowder to a brawl. Pretty cool!
He's running with the players during OTA's. Looking like a big black tick. He's keeping the media in stitches with his offhand comments. He's doing something you don't see often in coaching. He appears to be speaking to the press honestly. VERY cool!!!
I am not a Jets fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I will subconsciously be pulling for them this year so I know that the COOLEST coach in football will stick around awhile.
I'm kind of being sarcastic here. What makes me happy is it appears that this is a pretty significant accomplishment in the sport and yet my country could care less.
I keep going back to something said by the comedy genius that was Gallagher. "Soccer", he said, "is not a sport. Anytime something hits you in the head...that's dumb!" I couldn't agree more.
Is it a coincidence? Or are the "Baseball Gods" trying to make things right for the purists out here like me. It just seems like everything is going wrong for the admitted and suspected performance-enhanced athletes in baseball.
A-Rod is hitting .213 average. Jason Giambi, a .207 BA. Manny Ramirez is in the midst of a 50-game suspension. No one will touch Barry Bonds or Roger Clemons though both would kill to play again.
The best case is the Sammy Sosa situation. Sammy, along with another suspected steroid-user, Mark McGuire, single-handedly saved Major League Baseball in 1998. Many were still hurt by the strike of 1994 that deprived everyone of a World Series. For that, baseball will always be thankful to Sammy Sosa.
The senate hearings on steroid use in baseball could have gone a long way towards getting the story straight. Mcguire refused to speak of the "past" as he was now retired.
Rafael Palmeiro slammed his hand on a table, pointed at the committee and stated he had never used steroids "period." We all know how that ended.
The worst interaction was from Sosa, which wasn't expected. Suddenly a man who spoke freely to reporters after every game lost complete grasp of the English language. He just stopped short of saying over and over again "Bazaball been berry berry good to me."
No longer in the MLB, Sosa stated recently that he fully expected to be voted into the Hall of Fame and there was no reason for voters to vote otherwise.
Then the report came out last week that he had also tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. I think that will close the book on Mr. Sosa's legacy.
May I state that though I'm glad the truth is finally coming out, the innocent kid in me that admired Sosa is a little hurt. The cynical part of me feels justified. All I need now if for a report to confirm that Brady Anderson was on steroids in 1996 so I can lay that conspiracy to rest.
Ana Ivanovic & Caroline Wozniacki. Serena and Venus. And don't ever forget Maria Sharapova. Should be a fine week to watch tennis. In high definition, of course. I hear men play in this tournament also so...good for them.
It's coming is waves. The reality of sports. These athletes that we admire and adore are just human beings. They have heartache. They deal with tragedy. So because of their public persona, we as fans probably know more than we should. But every once in awhile, the athlete invites us to share their pain.
Phil Mickelson, who already has most golf fans in the palm of his hand, goes public with his wife's cancer challenge. He pulls out of some events to be by his wife's side and we miss him. But we also understand.
He came back for the US Open at his wife's request. He spoke post rounds of his wife and his eyes tear up. So did mine. My mother is dealing with cancer right now.
I have sympathy and feel a bond with anyone who is currently dealing with it or has in the past. I felt strength from Phil this weekend and for that, I will always be a fan.
Sergio Garcia and Dirk Nowitzki have both talked to reporters about how heartbroken they are over ended relationships. It's an admission of weakness that most athletes fight hard to avoid.
Sergio's relationship with Morgan-Leigh Norman ceased in March and he says it has coincided with a drop in his golf performance. It was a departure for an athlete known more for being the lady's man. It made him look vulnerable and quite sympathetic.
Nowitzki's relationship ended with much more calamity. It appears that Dirk hooked up with a con artist. He had gotten close enough to this young woman that he purchased a quarter of a million dollar ring.
He was advised to do a background check for prenuptial purposes and discovered his beloved's criminal past. His lawyers advised him to break up with her immediately and contact the police, which he did.
This could have all ended there but he is a public figure so it came out in the press. Again, it could have ended there with most people just thankful he got out without much damage done. But then something interesting happened.
Dirk spoke to a reporter and expressed sadness about his relationship being over. Not that he missed her, but he missed being in a relationship. He also said he can't wait until he finds the right girl so he might have "little Dirks" running around.
That is a powerfully open statement by an athlete who has been mostly shy with the media. I guess love conquers all.
So why does all this make me happy?
I know things are tough out there. Hell...They are tough in my own house. So sports become a place where we can escape. Sometimes we don't want any reality in our escape.
I can't help thinking though that when athletes show their human sides, it brings us closer together. It helps us enjoy their successes more. Isn't that what sports is all about anyway.
This was HUGE. As I have written on many of my Jaguars articles, I blame our injuries for the difficulties we had last year. We lost three of our offensive linemen before the first snap of the season opener. So it was with a leery eye that I watched this year's practices.
No one was carted off the field. Tory Holt stopped wearing his knee brace. Even John Henderson, who was publicly called out by coach Del Rio for being soft, resumed practicing within a few days.
I have gone on record stating I believe the Jags will return to playoff contention this year but it will require a HEALTHY squad. There is a lot of time until September, but we just jumped our first hurdle.
It was recently announced that Kimbo Slice, the You-Tube Brawler, would be a contestant on the tenth season of Spike's & UFC's "Ultimate Fighter" series. This should be GREAT!!!
While I'm no expert on MMA, I found Kimbo interesting. It was obvious that he was not as talented as his competitors in the martial arts arena. He just wanted to get in the octagon and knock the crap out of you.
CBS saw the potential. They wanted to show MMA on prime time TV. The UFC was way too expensive. A young upstart called EliteXC was making waves on the splash that was Kimbo Slice.
A former homeless man from Miami who gained prominence by having his unsanctioned fights shown on You-Tube, Kimbo was quite a character. Big and bald, with muscles on top of muscles, he walked into rings with a hairy beard that made him look like he just came from an alley.
He stalked his foe around the ring until he could unleash the most powerful punch since "Bald Bull". CBS decided Kimbo Slice was the guy to bank an entire sport around.
It went pretty well at first. The original telecast scored great for a Saturday night telecast. Kimbo got in the cage and beat the snot out his opponent. The fighter, who had obviously been fighting for some time without much success, will always be remembered because one of his "cauliflower" ears literally exploded during the fight, turning everything into a bloody mess.
It was GREAT television.
Then came the second telecast. By then a lot of MMA experts were calling Kimbo a hack, a joke, and bad for the sport. Kimbo signed to fight Ken Shamrock, a former UFC champ who's best years were behind him.
A big paycheck heals all wounds though. The day before the fight, Shamrock pulls out because of injury.
Because CBS had hyped the hell out of this, a replacement fighter was sought. Seth Petruzelli was a OK fighter with a disappointing record who was available to step in the last minute.
The difference was that this was an experienced fighter who was still young. He proceeded, to CBS's horror, to knock out Kimbo Slice in 14 SECONDS.
It killed the EliteXC. CBS got out of the MMA business. Kimbo Slice was thought to be exposed for the fraud he was, and to never be heard from again.
That's what makes this news so interesting. One of Kimbo's biggest critics was UFC president Dana White. Kimbo wouldn't have been invited to the show if White didn't approve it.
The Ultimate Fighter won't air until September, so we got a long time to speculate on whether Kimbo can "Slice" his way out of obscurity...sorry...it was too easy!!!
This last weekend, I got an e-mail from CBS Sportsline informing me that my fantasy football league dues have been received and that our homepage is open for viewing. AHHHHHH!!!
That is the first thing that really gets my blood rushing for the next year of football. I love football. I always have. But it's fantasy football that is my passion.
My fantasy football league, the DSSFL, is about to celebrate it's 16th year. Many of the owners have been members since it's inception. I was granted a franchise 13 years ago and have been faithful ever since.
A 12-team league, we hold our draft the weekend before the season opener. We book a clubhouse room at a resort in St. Augustine, Flo. Owners fly in from as far as New York State to attend the draft. We all know each other. We joke. We DRINK.
It is usually the best weekend of my year, especially now that I'm married with children. It's my one weekend that's just about me. I am now starting to feel the butterflies.
Soon my first Fantasy Forecast magazine will arrive. Before you know it...it will be August and the draft will be near. It's a truly good time to be alive!!!
I hope you liked my list. I'm sure I missed something so please let me know what it is. Thanks for reading my stuff!!! See YA!!!!