The Thursday 13—a rundown of the sports' headlines that moved one writer's needle this week in the world of sports.
1) I can't tell you how disappointed I am in this year's NFL Pro Bowl. Granted, it's never exactly been considered a quality event. It's usually just a bunch of guys going through the motions so they can head back to their hotels and enjoy the rest of their vacations. Players duck it, the media tolerates it at best, and nobody at home watches it. Still, the NFL missed a golden opportunity to do something thoughtful and meaningful with this season's event.
With players dropping out like flies and the list of replacements longer than ever thanks to the two best teams being excluded from the field, this was finally the year to show Miami Sharks QB Willie Beamen some love.
With the game being held in "South Florida's" Dolphins Stadium, making hometown-favorite Beamen the AFC starting quarterback would have brought so much more excitement to the usually ho-hum contest. It also would have been the icing on the cake for a guy who came off the bench early this season and led his squad to a Pantheon Cup appearance. You can't tell me that with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Phillip Rivers out that there's a more deserving quarterback sitting around.
What exactly does Beamen have to do to get thrown into the Pro Bowl discussion? Actually exist?
2) Sticking with pro football, there were two actual NFL playoff games last weekend and they were both pretty good. I'm not sure if anyone saw them, and I doubt that they got any record-setting ratings or anything, but I feel like they should be discussed.
The early game, Colts-Jets , went just about as expected. The Jets had trouble putting points on the board in the second half and Peyton Manning didn't, so despite trailing 17-6 at one point, the Colts won handily, 30-17.
There's been a lot of sports-talk discussion about what a second ring would mean to Manning's legacy, especially versus Brady's. I can't say that at this point Manning has proven that he's anything less than the greatest quarterback of this era, no matter how this or any future Super Bowls shake out. You cannot ever bet against him, and he showed it again against New York; he was dominant.
3) It worked out well for the NFL and Fox that the even better game was the late game between the Vikings and Saints . It was a contest that Minnesota dominated in every statistical measure except the one that mattered.
Everybody in white and purple fumbled a few times each and just for good measure, Prince went out there and fumbled , too. Favre threw his standard late-game pick and New Orleans pulled it in overtime after being the only squad to touch the ball.
For me, this outcome was the best of both worlds. My father is a die-hard Packers fan and I think it put at least six months back on his lifespan to not have to worry about Favre hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Also, how many times can the NFL's asinine overtime rules decide a playoff game before they put their heads together and come up with something more equitable? I would wager that Brett Favre getting cheated out of a chance with the ball is probably more offensive to the NFL than any other player, so let's hope this is the year.
4) Kurt Warner 's camp has been leaking all week that the 38-year-old Arizona quarterback is going to retire...maybe. Or maybe not.
Either way, this is bigger news than casual fans realize. Despite starting his NFL career late and having a down period in the middle of it, Warner has been fantastic the last few seasons and has to be considered an NFL Hall of Famer in waiting. He's been to three Super Bowls with two different teams, has a ring, and has been the dominant statistical force on all of his greatest teams.
More important is the effect his departure would have on the Cardinals. Matt Leinert has proven, finally, that he cannot be counted on to succeed Warner as the quarterback of the future in the desert. So, do they go after a QB in the draft, maybe trade for a guy like McNabb? It isn't April yet, so don't ask me.
5) Senior Bowl update! Tim Tebow fumbled some practice snaps! Well, thank goodness we got that news. Carry on everybody.
6) I'm sure by now everybody's heard about the Kansas high school hoops coach who ruined a prank the students were trying to pull on him by doing exactly what they asked him to. They set him up by telling him they'd get him Final Four tickets if he hit a blindfolded half court shot.
So he did.
Awkward. Imagine the nervous student who had to go give the guy a gift certificate to a Mexican restaurant instead of March Madness tickets they were certain he'd never earn. I might of slapped that kid in the head, but the coach played it cool and eventually some tickets were donated to the guy and everything worked out.
Next time though, kiddies, try not to promise something you can't deliver. Or go the other way and promise one hundred billion dollars!
7) Gilbert Arenas ' suspension finally came down and he's going to be out for the rest of the regular season. The suspension is in response to the conduct he displayed after the news of his gun-toting locker room pranks became public.
I'm much more interested in how he went about duking in his teammate's shoes. Did...did he just squat over them, or did he take them into a stall and bend over? And how is it possible, when guns are involved in your locker room politics, that dropping a deuce in somebody's shoes did not result in anybody getting blasted? That should have brought it to defcon one.
8) The man who has complained many times about people trying to put him in a box has made the sensible decision to play basketball in China. Good luck Stephon Marbury and good luck China.
9) The New Jersey Nets remain on pace for the league's all time worst record despite winning big last night over the Clippers. Never good when you win a game and your win percentage remains under .100, or when you lose to a team who remains under .100. Way to go Nets and Clips , keep crapping in America's refrigerators.
10) It has become clear in the last few years that Raphael Nadal is the only guy who can stand up to Roger Federer in the exciting world of men's tennis. However, Nadal's injuries have begun to ruin the Spanish star's prime.
This is the time for Nadal to be collecting titles and making Federer consider retirement, but after pulling out of the Aussie Open earlier this week, it seems Federer will continue to rack up majors and Nadal will continue to spend six months to a year rehabbing. Must be those Capris!
11) Andy Roddick is who he is. Let's all be satisfied with his advancement to the quarter finals and move on. He's all American men's tennis has, but that doesn't mean he's going to win anything.
12) Let's also congratulate the New York Yankees and Johnny Damon on handling his contract negotiations so well.
It now appears he won't be in New York despite the fact that they could use him and he needs a job, and all of the reports coming out of New York over the last month and a half have shown that neither side has any idea what they're doing.
This leaves the door open for my favorite team, the Oakland A's to overspend and get him. Fan-effing-tastic. Can't wait for him to hit .260 with nine home runs again.
13) Sticking with Oakland, because I can't bear to talk hot stove unless I have something invested, the green and gold signed Ben Sheets to a one year, $10 million deal.
I actually like this move a lot. When healthy, Sheets has been a great pitcher. He has allowed the second fewest walks per inning of any active pitcher, once struck out over 250 batters in a season, and routinely posts ERAs in the threes.
Of course, his health is anything but guaranteed. He missed all of last season and missed parts of several others. And when added to a team that has more crystal palaces than Krypton, it's not exactly all that comforting. Still, it's better to have a chance at a great pitching staff than not.
There, I think I talked myself into that one.