(F&G) From life-saving heroics to bankruptcies, babies and life behind bars, here is First & Girl's Top 10 list of the off-season dirt you may have missed.
1. T.O. makes headlines…for being a hero
A few hours after the ESPYS ended, ESPN reporter Sam Alipour was hailing a cab when he was hit by a Honda Civic. The first man on the scene to help him was none other than Terrell Owens. T.O. was on his way to an after-party when he witnessed the accident and rushed to the reporter’s side. Owens then helped Alipour to safe ground and didn’t leave his side until the paramedics arrived. In return, ESPN promised to write something nice about T.O. this year.
Kansas City tight end and our favorite vegan and new daddy, Tony Gonzalez, saved the life of a fellow patron at a restaurant in Huntington Beach over the summer when the man began to choke. Tony leaped to his rescue and performed the Heimlich maneuver despite the fact that he had never actually practiced it before, prompting the Chargers fan to proclaim himself Gonzalez’s No. 1 fan.
2. Ocho Cinco and Pacman worked on their reps, and we don't mean their routes
Let's start with Ocho Cinco. Bengals receiver and then-named Chad Johnson claimed he could outswim Michael Phelps and challenged him to a race during an interview on Pardon the Interruption. Apparently #85’s prowess on his middle school swim team was all he needed to declare the only reason Phelps was winning so many medals was because he didn’t have any real competition in Beijing. Phelps reportedly accepted the "challenge," but we think the NFL should take it one step further. Forget the dancers, singers, light shows, fireworks and flyovers and drag a pool into the middle of the field for Super Bowl halftime. One length is all it’d need for ratings-busting entertainment.
Johnson also legally changed his last name to “Ocho Cinco” so he can actually put it on his jersey without being fined anymore. Speaking of which, Johnson is basically playing for free this year due to his very long list of them.
And from the "Players Who Don't Know how Good They Have it" file we have Adam "Pacman" Jones, whose antics are less entertaining but just as riveting. He'd had his fair share of troubles with the law since college, but an incident last February was the icing on the cake. Jones, who then played for the Tennessee Titans, was in a VIP booth at a Vegas strip club watching rapper Nelly and music producer Jermaine Dupri “make it rain” dollar bills over the course of a few songs. Jones wanted to make some “rain” himself and asked an employee to convert $3,400 into dollar bills – bills that he proceeded to shower over club-goers from the stage. Chaos ensued, and when all was said and done, a club bouncer ended up on the floor, shot and paralyzed by a shattered spine. Although Jones was not the shooter, club owners blamed Jones for the incident. Jones was suspended from the league.
His trouble seemingly did not end there despite Pacman’s insistence that he would shape up. Pacman was accused of hitting a woman at a strip club in Atlanta in January – the woman, however, later withdrew the warrant. In May, he was ordered to pay $20,000 in gambling debt back to Caesars Palace, not long after he put his Nashville home on the market for $1.8 million. He defaulted on the mortgage in June and the property was auctioned off by the bank for $1.1 million.
Notwithstanding his off-field reputation-building activities, Pacman was traded this spring to the Cowboys and was notified in June by the NFL that he could participate in training camp. He was reinstated in August and will start for the Cowboys this season.
3. Favre saga almost overshadows the Olympics
Thank heavens for Michael Phelps. If it weren’t for him, we might have had to endure even more stories analyzing Brett Favre’s every move, word, breakfast selection, fingernail health, etc. A quick Lexis Nexis check shows over 2,400 newspaper stories were written between July 3rd – the day rumors started flying about his return – and August 6th, the day he was traded to the Jets. Granted, this story probably should be No. 1 on our list, but we knew you might throw up a little in your mouth if that’s the first thing you had to read.
4. Football-celeb couples shack up, push marriage, and get pregnant?
Supermodel Giselle Bundchen and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seem to be cozier than ever. After a summer of surfing in Costa Rica and visiting his son in L.A, they both put their New York pads on the market and moved in together. Another thing they did together? Bought about $11 million dollars worth of property in L.A.
Saints running back Reggie Bush’s other half, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, has been talking a LOT about marriage lately. We mean, A LOT. She’s supposedly even already planning their wedding even though they’re not engaged. Reggie remains mum on the subject. She’s preparing for a run on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ claiming Reggie has been helping her prepare.
Dallas’ favorite, or not-so-favorite, football couple survived the off-season, but not without their fair share of controversy. As Jessica performed at the Country Thunder USA festival in Randall, Wisconsin this summer, audience members booed while Tony Romo and his family sat near the front. The booing came on the heels of reports that Jessica was an expert at performing stripteases for Romo via webcam while they are apart. Then, enter Romo’s ex-fling Carrie Underwood who opened up to Allure Magazine and dished on her ex in an exclusive interview. She told Allure that Tony Romo still calls her, and that she will “maybe not answer.” Feeling bad for the couple yet? Their latest rumored debacle was when she and Tony delightedly told his family she was pregnant. The family was less than thrilled about their grandchild being born out of wedlock. Fortunately for them, Jessica apparently misread the pregnancy test.
5. Michael Vick files for bankruptcy
Oh Michael Vick, what a legacy you have left behind. Despite being one of the NFL’s highest-paid players and earning more than $20 million in NFL bonuses as a quarterback, Vick could not find the money to pay his bills while behind bars. After admitting guilt in the dog-fighting case, federal agents demanded even more money in restitution – about $1 million. Unfortunately, turns out the business manager he hired embezzled just about that much from him. In desperation he turned to another manager, who took one of Vick’s cars, money and left him with a phony resume. This was followed by lawsuits from a sports marketing firm that Vick hired in 2001. All the while, Vick sits behind bars for another year, trying not to worry too much about what is going to happen to him when he gets out.
6. Elisha Nelson Manning gets hitched
Apparently winning the Super Bowl doesn’t make you immune to pre-wedding jitters. On the morning of his nuptials on April 19th, self-proclaimed "mama's boy" Eli Manning was seen lifting weights, running feverishly on the treadmill and doing push-ups for an hour and a half. At sunset, he and his college sweetheart, Abby McGrew, exchanged vows on the beach in front of the multitude of guests they had flown in to the swanky resort of The One & Only Palmilla in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico. As the minister joined their hands in marriage, he looked down at Eli’s hands and said, “These hands are quite large.” The low-key couple managed to keep their wedding plans under wraps and only spent a “modest” $500K. Too bad their photographer mistakenly put their wedding and reception pictures up on a public website.
7. Randy Moss does NASCAR
Patriots receiver Randy Moss has an impressive resume, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, six-time Pro Bowl selection, four-time All-Pro selection, and now he has something else to add: team owner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Moss partnered up with team owner David Dolla, and the team debuted the Moss Motorsports No. 81 (Moss’s jersey number) at Kentucky Speedway on July 19th. Willie Allen, the driver, returned to Nashville for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, but left with a disappointing 27th-place finish. Randy, don’t quit your day job.
8. Peyton has minor surgery. Panic ensues.
On July 15th, 2008, the sports world held its breath as Colts quarterback Peyton Manning underwent surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his left knee. The surgery went well and it looks like Peyton will be able to make the September 7th opener against the Chicago Bears. The initial prognosis was for Manning to miss between four and six weeks. Fortunately for Manning, the Brett Favre drama kept him out of the spotlight. Pray for Manning’s full recovery; Jim Sorgi, who has backed up Manning the past four seasons, has never started a regular season game.
9. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Tara Reid's ex-boyfriend, and Dancing with the Stars Runner-up get traded, while Michael Strahan and Rod Smith retire
Somehow, Chad Pennington managed to be the only casualty of the Favre trade to the Jets, and was quickly picked up by the Dolphins where, to the great delight of Dolphins fans, he has looked promising. Jeremy Shockey, went to the Saints and was “relieved” to be out of New York and away from the “circus,” while Jason Taylor danced his way over to the Washington Redskins. On June 9th, Michael Strahan retired from the NFL and told Fox Sports “It’s time, I’m done.” A month later, Rod Smith also announced his retirement. Smith left with two Super Bowl championships, three Pro Bowl appearances, and a spot-free career.
10. There are a lot more good guys than morons in the NFL
Ocho Cino and Pacman make hundreds of headlines while guys from all around the league make very few while they quietly and selflessly give back. To name a handful the hundreds of good things NFL players have done over the past couple of months…
--Saints QB and bona-fide nice guy Drew Brees and Giants defensive end and boyfriend-of-a-Victoria's-Secret-supermodel, Osi Umenyiora, accompanied NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on a USO tour in Afghanistan. Goodell told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, "What impressed me so much is of all the men and women we met at so many different bases, not a single one complained about anything - not their missions, not about how long they were there, nothing. It's inspiring." The trip marked the first time a commissioner of a sports league visited U.S. troops overseas as part of a USO tour, and it made us all the more sad when Osi’s entire season was ended before it even began with a knee injury in the preseason.
--Iowan and Colts tight end Dallas Clark raised $18,000 for Iowa flood relief by signing autographs for four hours straight.
--During Bears training camp, defensive star Brian Urlacher set aside time for his biggest fans – the athletes from Special Olympics Illinois.
--Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse brought along barbers to a back-to-school event to help make sure students looked sharp on their first day of class.
--The Eagles organization held “Military Day” during training camp, taking pictures and chatting with about 300 fans from all brances of the military.
--At all of 21 years of age, Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye launched a children's foundation.
--Dallas tight-end and Tony Romo's BFF, Jason Witten, did so many charitable events in the offseason he needs his own article.
We could go on and on, but here's something to think about next time you read about some idiot getting a DUI or causing a ruckus during a strip club visit: 198 players in the NFL have charitable foundations benefiting everything from lupus to literacy, and the league awards $1 million in grants each year to these foundations.