In Case You Live In A Cave

This just in from the Associated Press: athletes don't have to pass the same academic requirements to be admitted into college as regular students.

Read the story.
I'm not kidding, that's basically what it says.

Sure, sure there's a lot of good research done by the writer and it goes a little more in depth, but is there really anything in that 2,000-word-or-so report that even the most casual sports fan didn't know? I mean, did anyone think the criteria to get into school was tougher for freaks of nature who can run 4.4 40s, do reverse windmills or hit tape-measure home runs?

These loosely-termed scholar athletes make their schools millions and millions of dollars. Thus, when evaluating that 4.4 speed versus a 1.7 GPA, what do you think usually wins out?

The report was worth reading, however, just for the particular details on the University of Texas, whose football team will face another beacon of knowledge, Alabama, for the national championship Jan. 7. Texas was one of seven division I football schools to say it doesn't have any "special admissions programs." That's obviously just a technicality, though, since its freshmen football players averaged a 945 on their SATs from 2003-2005, a whopping 320 points below the average freshman longhorn.

The other six schools refusing to admit that they lower their standards to raise their athletic programs were Air Force (interesting), Connecticut and Kansas St. (shockers), Purdue, Virginia and Tennessee, which apparently only admits potential or prior felons to play football.

Another highlight was the fact that the study found that athletes at California, a highly-regarded institution of higher learning, were 43 times as likely to receive special admissions treatment. Anyone who's ever seen the school's former standout running back Marshawn Lynch give an interview, however, would instantly be able to tell the guy wasn't exactly being asked to tutor fellow classmates in physics lab.

This doesn't just happen with the big sports (where it makes financial sense) either. I once heard an announcer during a Final Four field hockey game (don't ask) comment that a star player had gotten a 1200 on her SAT and that she had even turned down going to Harvard. I found it funny since I thought you needed a 1300 to even be a janitor there.

But alas, that's the system that exists today in college sports. People who aren't qualified get into schools and then get passed through the system in order to stay eligible.

If you didn't realize that long ago, though, you're just as dumb.


What a Shock

Wow - Brett Favre is making a mess again. I'm stunned.

We've learned over the last few days that Favre has been in a little tiff with Brad Childress primarily over the control each has over the offense. Former teammate Leroy Butler called Favre a diva today as if that's some kind of breaking news.

It amazes me that Favre continues to get away with this stuff. He's become insufferable over the last few years between the fake retirements, throwing the Jets under the bus before this season and now this. He acts like he's Michael Jordan, and while I admit he's a great player and an obvious hall-of-famer, he's not on the Jordan level.

I'm sure people like Mr. Buckner will tell me how crazy I am, that Favre is the man. I'm sorry, but to me he's become a whiny jerk. Don't look now, but Minnesota, who many people thought was the best team in football a few weeks ago, has looked very average in recent weeks.

As Favre continues to be a distraction and his level of play declines late in the season as it has in recent years, I'll be looking forward to watching him ride out of the playoffs and into the sunset.

Until he un-retires again.


Mets: When beggars are losers

There will be plenty more thoughts to add about the pathetic, lowly and inept Mets as this farce of an offseason continues to unfold for them. Personally, I anxiously await the day they bag the pursuit of Jason Bay and Matt Holliday because the ungrateful louts seek more than four years, then lock up Angel Pagan to a five-year extension after a strong six weeks to start the season. That would be (will be?) classic Jeff Wilpon/Omar Minaya.

People say the rich get richer when it comes to the Yankees. Well, the dumb grow dumber in Flushing. According to this wonderfully executed column by Mike Vaccaro in the Post, salespeople have called prospective season-ticket holders and questioned their loyalty as fans because they are hesitant about re-upping plans.


I "question" watching a new Chris O'Donnell movie or stuffing my face in dog poop because, well, these things stink. So do the Mets. The pathetic, inept Mets — the team that ranks third across baseball in earning power yet turns the hat upside down every winter like a beggar.

Why should I fork over my hard-earned cash to an owner who has made the following significant financial additions to his payroll since the team launched its own network (SNY) and moved into a brand-spanking-new stadium (Citi Field):

2006: Billy Wagner (but traded for Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca, good)
2007: Moises Alou
2008: Johan Santana, Luis Castillo
2009: Frankie Rodriguez (traded for J.J. Putz — again, good)
2010: Henry Blanco, Chris Coste, Ryota Igarashi, R.A. Dickey — the last one's not official yet, so cross your fingers

So does this club deserve your money? No, no, one-thousand times no. Just your eternal disdain.

Look at the major transactions. The Mets signed two closers out of necessity and each received around $10 million a year — fine, but hardly bottom-line busters for a club with its own network. So they have really made one major signing in five offseasons (Santana) and nothing else out of the ordinary.

Think about that. Now think about the next time you hear them talk about "playing aggressively in the market," and do me a favor: DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.

The Mets lie. Their owners are frauds who should sell to people willing to run one of the top three earning teams (Yanks, Red Sox, Mets) like it deserves to be run. The Wilpons may be nice men, but you can't tread water in the deep end of this pool. You either swim or get out.

All these Mets want is your money. But they do not deserve your cash or your respect until they prove worthy of it.


Nick Snake-ban

I just heard Nick Saban snap at the media during a press conference, talking about how he isn't concerned about winning a national title, he just wants his team to play "its best football." He added, with a nasty edge in his voice, that he wishes the media wouldn't ask his team about winning the championship.

Who is he kidding? He wants reporters to ask his team about something other than the possibility of winning the title before they play in the title game? The "I'm going to act like a jerk to take pressure off my team" act is really old.

This guy really rubs me the wrong way. He takes himself way too seriously, and he just oozes slime. If you get a chance to watch Sportscenter tonight, look out for the clip from his press conference and tell me it doesn't make you mildly furious.

Texas vs. Alabama...wow. I'll be rooting against both.

Dear Fans...

Merry Christmas,
Daniel Snyder and The Washington Redskins


Oh, Fu#%


Time to go, Wade

Tonight is the night. Finally, it appears Wade Phillips finds himself one loss from ensuring his pink slip, and tonight's date with the unbeaten Saints provides the perfect exit strategy for Jerry Jones. Cowboys lose, Giants swoop in and steal the last playoff spot. I can picture it now. Wade may as well be standing on the trap door.

Jones' finger has been firmly resting against the button ever since Phillips came to Texas. He hired Jason Garrett as a de facto coach-in-waiting when he brought Phillips in, but Mr. Botox seems to have soured on Garrett since. Still, the offensive coordinator plays the Bruce Gradkowski to Phillips' JaMarcus Russell, the superior option. But what kind of business model is this? A model of imminent failure, that's what.

Not surprisingly, Jones behaves like the Cowboys are the Yankees, a team destined to compete for a championship every year. Instead, Dallas last won a playoff game with Troy Aikman under center, making Jones' expectations laughable at best, delusional at worst.

Now, trust me, Phillips is awful. But the Cowboys have been beset by problems every season dating back to before Bill Parcells. Their lack of mettle reflects poorly on superstar QB Tony Romo, a Jay Cutler-level flake without the babes. Romo piles up yards in Garrett's offense, lobbing the ball to wide open receivers crossing the middle of the field. But the Cowboys are front-runners. Their offensive line (Marc Columbo) is banged up. Their running game flops every second half. They simply can't play from ahead.

On defense, Jones' collection of big-name, no-game defensive backs has cost the Cowboys for years. Finally, Roy Williams was jettisoned. Too bad they kept the other one.

Now DeMarcus Ware may miss tonight's game. He's their best player, but the Cowboys won't touch Drew Brees anyway. It would require exactly the type of grit, fight and physicality this team lacks every year, this one included.

Frankly, I can't wait for tonight. Phillips' boys will flop, the local and national Cowboy-loving media will pin yet another December loss at his feet and Jones, once Dallas misses the playoffs, will drop the ax. So predictable, so typical. Really, the fault should fall on Romo, the players and the unrealistic culture in Dallas. Big stadium, big money, big dreams — small results.

Blame Wade. Bring in some new eight-figure clown to put you over the top.

Then watch the top stretch even further out of reach.


The worst sports villains ever

I love top 5 and 10 lists, and earlier today I came up with an idea - the top 10 most evil sports figures. Obviously I wasn't alive when some of these people were around, so some of this is based on reputation. I also tried to include only athletes who were/are at least fairly well-known. Here we go:

10. Roger Clemens - What a snake. Anyone who follows baseball at all knows he did steroids, but more than that, how could he throw his wife under the bus during in front of Congress to save his own neck? In addition, he's an unabashed head-hunter and may have very well slept with a 15-year-old girl.

9. Ty Cobb
- Unapologetic racist who used to sharpen his spikes in plain view in order to better cut up opponents.

8. Marge Schott
- Former Cincinnati Reds owner kept a swastika armband in her house and referred to some of her black players as million-dollar n***ers. A fan of Hitler, Schott was upset when umpire John McSherry collapsed on the field and later died on opening day,because the umpires had the gall to postpone the game.

7. Lawrence Phillips - Former Nebraska standout assaulted his girlfriend in college, but he wasn't nearly done. In '05, Phillips ran his car into three teenagers after a dispute and was eventually convicted on seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

6. Pacman Jones - Spitting on and hitting women are just the start. The Las Vegas shooting case Jones was involved in led to one man being paralyzed.

5. Ugueth Urbina - Urbina went after workers on his farm - with a machete - because he believed they stole a gun from his house. A machete.

4. Mel Hall - The former Yankee outfielder was convicted of having sex with several minors and is serving 45 years in prison. Rot away, Mel.

3. Mike Danton - I didn't know much about about this former member of the St. Louis Blues until I did a little research for this post. He tried to have his agent murdered. Enough said.

2. Rae Carruth
- Arranged a drive-by shooting of a woman pregnant with his child. Only one guy could top this...

1. O.J. Simpson
- We all know he stabbed two people to death, one of whom had young children sleeping upstairs while Simpson was murdering her. He then committed a robbery at gunpoint which finally landed him where he always belonged - prison. He also pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge in 1989. Good guy.

Don't get crazy

After listening to New York media over the past few days I have to say, the Roy Halladay trade to the Phillies is being blown a little out of proportion.

Halladay is a terrific pitcher, no doubt. But in case anyone missed the World Series this year (or the last two regular seasons), Cliff Lee doesn't exactly stink. Halladay is better, but I heard someone say on the radio today that he will make the Phillies seven games better this year, and I don't see it.

As a Mets fan, I'm not crazy about the idea of Halladay to Philadelphia, but it's not the end of the world either, because Lee is gone. (The Mets themselves are another story. I don't know what the plan is, but right now I could argue they're the fourth best team in the division).

Had Halladay been dealt to the Phils and Lee had stayed put, I would have made the Phillies the favorite to win the title next year over even the Yankees. But that isn't what happened.


Just plain sad

This isn't a rip, I just wanted to say a few quick words about Chris Henry. It's a sad, sad thing that the Bengals WR is fighting for his life after finally seeming to put his demons in the past.

If Henry doesn't come through this incident, he'll leave three children he was raising behind, and that's awful. As someone who had a close family member go through a life-threatening car accident I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

This may be an incident that could have happened to anybody. I have no idea. But I can't help but think, once again, that some athletes, especially football players, just don't place enough importance on their own health and well-being.


Peter King: "Struggling" to understand good football

Peter King, the senior football scribe of SI.com, is at it again. Mr. Starbucks stuck yet another dagger into the side of Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

If you read King's legendary and prolific Monday Morning Quarterback, you know it's among the best reads in football journalism. King routinely culls quotes from key players while sitting in his 30 Rock "Sunday Night Football in America" pad and has first-hand word from them in MMQB. He also watches a ton of football, and has a very strong take on all things NFL.

Make that all things but one.

King has routinely peppered insults at the younger Manning, treating him different than big bro Peyton. Today came another. King said "you don't give a struggling quarterback like Eli Manning a 391-yard night" in Tuesday edition of MMQB.

Puke time.

I'll admit, overall King's Eli opinions are often justified. Brother Peyton may be the greatest QB ever. Eli probably ranks somewhere in the second half of the top 10 in today's NFL at the very best. There's no comparison, and Eli looks second-rate by comparison.

But just like the rest of the talking heads (Aikman, Moose, I'm looking at you "guys"), King still slays Eli like that centaur A-Rod does enemy horses, er...I mean, middling relievers. In 2009, this is lazy reporting from one of the hardest working men in sports journalism.

As a Giants fan, Manning bashing is the norm. No matter how well Eli plays over the course of a game, announcers and writers talk about one inaccurate pass or one wounded duck. A friend who will remain nameless (Buckner) believes Manning played poorly on the final drive of Super Bowl XVII. Buckner, like Bill Simmons, pointed to the dropped interception by Asante Samuel. Hello, guys? Do you not remember the "Tuck Game?" Without that call, Tom Brady is not Tom Brady. He's bagging B-level actresses, not Giselle. But these lucky plays happen. They change history. We choose to look at the body of work (i.e. the entire game-winning drive) and judge him on that. Bottom line: He rocked, the Giants won. Move on.

I will admit: Eli is NOT accurate. But even the most honed-in are not forever perfect. Brady has been downright awful at times this year. I'm still waiting for people to pick apart his game on a weekly basis. Tick, tick, tick...

While I wait, here's the difference with King: Most major media personalities are complete blowhards unable to admit a mistake; he's largely an open-minded man. Sure, King has his man-crushes on Brett Favre, Mike Tomlin, Tony Romo, etc., but he typically changes his opinion if so provoked, altering it if a player's performance proves worthy.

So these days I find it truly remarkable that SI's top football evaluator has missed the steady ascension of the QB on the biggest team in the league's No. 1 market. It is completely inexcusable.

Peyton Manning played through pain after a risky knee surgery last preseason. King praised his season, and chronicled Manning's recovery in detail in his book. Likewise, Eli has played much of this season with plantar fascia. The injury to his foot caused him to overcompensate, and led to a stress reaction that reportedly causes even more pain. Here's a story from the Star-Ledger's excellent reporter Mike Garafolo.

I imagine King has read these reports. I imagine he can put two and two together and realize Manning's injury coincided with a terrible three-game stretch. And I imagine he's a cagey football evaluator who realizes an offensive line that has declined faster than Tiger Woods' rep and a putrid D have hurt Manning over the Saints-Eagles-Cardinals fiasco-of-a-stretch.

I guess not. King wrote this week the Eagles' D had to generate more of a pass rush. They picked up three sacks and had a fourth before Manning shoveled a pass out of trouble. That's not a middling pass rush. Sorry, guy.

But I digress. ... If you throw those three stinkers out, Manning has posted a quarterback rating of 88.9 and above in all but one game. That's nine out of 10, and, to be fair, nine out of 13 for the year. Include them all and Eli has posted a career-high rating of 93. He's a cinch to finish with the best numbers of his career.

Some won't trust QB rating, which is fine. So let's compare these two seasons:
Season 1: 4,002 yards, 68.1 completion percentage, 7.2 yards/att., 27 TD, 12 INT
Season 2: 4,081 yards, 60.4 completion percentage, 7.95 yards/att., 28 TD, 14 INT

So which season is better? Can you even tell? Does King watch football?

OK, enough rips. Let's get to the facts: The first season is Peyton Manning, circa 2008, a year he won MVP. The second are the projected totals of a "struggling" Eli Manning in 2009, as he tries to lead the Giants, who can't run, block or play defense, to the playoffs.

In any final analysis, the younger Manning clearly is not struggling. Yes, "struggle" was just one little word on SI.com today, but enough is enough.

If you want to bash Eli, wait until the future. Another day, another year, will provide you and your boys enough fodder. But please watch the Giants this season before writing another word about them.

Bush is no longer president. The Sopranos is over. You live in Boston, not Jersey.

No, Pete, it's not 2006 anymore.


Rips from around the league

I got so caught up in the early games last week that I ripped a few people and then neglected to write this post in full. But, I'm back.

Philadelphia 45, NY Giants 38:
What is there to say? The Giants have absolutely no defense. Eli Manning played a nearly flawless game and the G-men still didn't have enough.

New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23: Crazy, crazy fake FG by Sean Payton late in this game, but it doesn't come back to haunt his team as the Saints squeak by to stay unbeaten.

Green Bay 21, Chicago 14: Jay Cutler has now thrown more picks than any Bears QB since 1949, and there are still three games to go. Ouch.

Indianapolis 28, Denver 16: Peyton Manning actually let the Broncs back into this one with three picks in the second half. Then he remembered he was Peyton Manning, threw his fourth TD of the day and went home a winner.

Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10: Wow, what a completely uninteresting game.

Minnesota 30, Cincinnati 10: All my friends who are Favre fans are ripping me for rooting against him this year. No matter. I'm still waiting for that crushing interception he's bound to throw at some point in the playoffs.

New England 20, Carolina 10: A win for the Pats, but New England doesn't look good, especially Tom Brady.

NY Jets 26, Tampa Bay 3: Jets have made a nice recovery to put some meaning back in their season. Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman put up a 12.1 passer rating on the strength of 93 yards and three picks. Right now the Bucs are the worst team in football.

Baltimore 48, Detroit 3: Did I just say the Bucs are the worst team in football? Let's give the Lions their due and call it a tie.

Washington 34, Oakland 13: An injury to Bruce Gradkowski forced JaMarcus Russell to enter the game. Expected results followed.

Miami 14, Jacksonville 10: Boring game, good win for the fins.

Houston 34, Seattle 7: Andre Johnson had almost 200 yards receiving and two TDs...in the first half. Nice job Seahawks.

Tennessee 47, St. Louis 7: At this point both the Giants and Steve Spagnuolo might be better off with Spags as Big Blue's defensive coordinator.

San Diego 20, Dallas 17: Does any team in sports have less guts than the Cowboys? That was rhetorical. The answer is no.


The Rod Marinelli League

I posed this question to W.F. Skinner on Thursday night:

Who is the second-best coach in the NFL? (Obviously Belichick is first.)

He was stumped. Jeff Fisher? Yawn. Tom Coughlin? He's alright. Andy Reid? Somehow I don't think Johnny K. Woo would think so. Mike Tomlin? His team has lost five straight, including the last two to the Raiders and Browns.

At this point, Sean Payton would probably be the popular choice.

My choice for the second-best coach...Tony Sparano...and I ripped him earlier this year. He's mentally challenged regarding two-point conversions. But at least I can say for sure he knows how to get the most out of his talent.

I'm not suggesting that Herm Edwards should be getting his resume updated, but my god, the current crop of NFL coaches are just absolutely awful.

They go by the names Zorn, Phillips, Cable and Mangini. And the list goes on.

Cowher, Shanahan, Gruden, Holmgren...HURRY BACK! The NFL needs you.

And of course, this legend is still out there...don't think he isn't thinking about it. Early prediction, he'll be leading the Texans to the Super Bowl next season.

Jeff, come back to us

I always liked Jeff Van Gundy. He was an underdog, a diminutive guy in a sport of giants, and I thought he did a good job coaching the Knicks.

But the longer he's on the air the crazier he sounds. Here are some of his recent gems:

- Last year he said he'd rank Tracy McGrady as the second best two-guard in the league, behind Kobe and ahead of Wade.

Oh, where to begin. Dwayne Wade might have been the best player on the U.S. team in last summer's Olympics. Wade carried a team to a final four. He carried a team to an NBA title. McGrady has done none of those things. He did once say that he was happy to finally be in the second round of the playoffs during a seven game series his team led 3-1.

McGrady still has never won a playoff series. Dagger.

Van Gundy also said LeBron should go to L.A. and play for the league minimum so that he can win a title with Kobe. Again, so lost it's scary. First, why would LeBron give up tens of millions? I'd like to see Van Gundy do that. Second, great players and competitors in their primes usually don't take the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach. That doesn't do wonders for your legacy.

Van Gundy said Steve Nash should win the MVP this year. He said the NBA should do away with fouling out. Tonight he suggested Rashard Lewis take himself out of a game after he missed three consecutive shots.

I don't think Van Gundy is a stupid guy (I've been wrong before), so my best guess is that he's trying to be edgy and different.

Unfortunately, all he's being is an idiot.


Can't leave well enough alone

Jerry Jones has a bad habit. He seems to like to meddle at the worst possible times, and now, he's done it again.

Remember when Jones left tickets to NFC championship game in his players' lockers before the Cowboys and Giants met in the divisional round two years ago?

Now Jones is publicly questioning his staff's use of Marion Barber. Maybe I'm missing something, but what could possibly be gained here? He owns the team, so if he really couldn't live with the way Barber is being used, all he'd have to do is tell Wade Phillips privately the exact role he wanted the back to play.

Publicly questioning Phillips only brings more heat on a guy who most people think will be gone at season's end, and it's certainly not going to help the team pull together amid the talk of its pathetic December record in recent years. Jones' comments serve absolutely no productive purpose.

Don't get me wrong - I love this. I hope Jones keeps this up all month and the Cowboys take a nose dive right out of the playoffs. But Jones should take a page out of George Steinbrenner's book. The Boss mellowed out in his later years running the Yankees, and lo and behold they started stacking up titles. Steinbrenner was still passionate and occasionally popped off, but he chose his spots better.

Jones should do the same, but man, I hope he doesn't.


The root of the problem

I usually make it my business to make sure there is something new up here every day, but it's taken me until now because I have the dagger of all daggers, a major toothache that will require a root canal tomorrow.

With the help of a fistful of Advil, however, I'm feeling well enough to rip Kerry Rhodes. The Jets safety is unhappy because his role isn't clearly defined right now. In reality the guy should be counting his lucky stars that the Jets haven't cut him - that's how badly he's played this season.

My fellow Rippers and I have all witnessed this guy shy away from contact, get trampled by running backs and make weak attempts to push guys out of bounds all season. It's so bad that you don't even have to look for it, his tentative play jumps out at you on replay.

So Kerry, until you get back to playing the way you did your first few years in the league, be quiet. You've been an embarrassment, the last thing you should be doing is drawing attention to yourself.


Schooling Tiger

The time has finally come for me to do the unthinkable. It's time for me to rip Tiger Woods.

Never did I ever imagine the day would arrive when I would have strong enough feelings to take a shot at my favorite sports figure of all-time. I also never thought I'd see the day when perhaps the most dominant athlete in the history of sports would be in the news more for the size of his, um, shaft, than for what he does with the golf clubs he wields on the course.

I'm sorry, Tiger. I love you, but you are officially an idiot.

Look, I've said for years that I think about 80% of professional athletes cheat on their wives. In no way am I saying that makes it okay, but it really is the ultimate don't-judge-someone-until-you're-in-that-situation situation there is.

It turns out, Tiger is an ordinary (bad) guy when it comes to going after women. Am I surprised? No. Am I surprised how stupid he was about it? Yes.

It's one thing to do this stuff when you're not married (See: Derek Jeter -- SI Sportsman of the Year and holy figure in New York despite his playboy ways), but once you tie the knot, the number of mistresses needs to go down. At least to single digits.

I mean seriously, how could Tiger think that not even one of his female playing partners would ever say anything about having slept with one of the most famous people in the history of the planet? Especially ones that were supposedly working for barely more than minimum wage at glorified Waffle Houses? As Tony G. Dagger mentioned previously, there are a lot of money-grubbing hoes out there. I guess Tiger's Stanford education didn't cover him that.

Tiger's buddy, Michael Jordan, couldn't give him a few pointers on sneaking around? Like have a separate, secret phone for dealing with side-pieces. Or don't actually call yourself and leave an embarrassing/incriminating voicemail. How stupid can you be? You could have afforded to pay a different person to handle each of your mistresses. Police found $235 in your crashed SUV? That's like a couple pennies slipping out of my pocket and into the crack of my car-seat.

For nearly 15 years, this guy has been in the spotlight as much as any other athlete and the public hasn't seen one sloppy-drunk picture of him or even heard about a single speeding ticket. It appeared that either Woods was genuinely the "boring" person he categorized himself as or he was just as good as guarding his private life as he was at slingling a little white ball around the golf course.

Apparently, he wasn't being so careful this whole time. As a result, it was just a matter of time before some of this stuff started to come out. Like his stunning loss to Y.E. Yang at this year's PGA Championship, it was inevitable that Woods' off-the-course behavior would eventually be exposed. Yet somehow, Mr. Swoosh never saw it coming.

I'm sure it was tough for him to turn off the "playa" switch upon marriage and I'm sure he was super careful at first. But the more these guys get away with -- and when you're Tiger Woods you can probably do just about anything you want -- the more they think they are bulletproof.

Yes, his agent Mark Steinberg and whoever else is in charge of the Tiger Woods machine deserves blame for letting this get out of control. But unlike a lot of other athletes who have faced controversies, I thought Tiger was smart enough to never let it get to this point.

Wrong. Instead, the whole saga (Mysterious accident, multiple affair allegations, possible foul play, prescription drugs and alcohol, his mother-in-law being taken to the hospital days after) seems like a never-ending story. I half expect to wake up tomorrow and find out that he has gone missing after being abducted from his Orlando mansion by aliens.

Tiger, the seemingly indestructable force, has become the continuous butt of jokes around the world (Got to admit, Wanda Sykes had some pretty funny lines). How did Tiger's people let it come to this?! How did Tiger let it come to this?!

So please, Tiger, I'm begging you. Do Oprah, do 60 Minutes. Let us see you apologize for everything, let us see your vulnerable side. Provide us with some concrete answers about what happened that night with the Escalade escapade and a own up to the "transgressions" that are true.

If you're addicted to pain-killers or sex (What guy isn't?), tell us! It's the only way to make this mess go away and get this National Enquirer/TMZ (plenty to rip with those "media" outlets too) circus to stop. It's also the only way to possibly save your unparalleled global popularity.

Bill Clinton, the freaking President of the United States, cheated on his wife while in office. Brett "The Media Can't Get Enough Of Me" Favre was once addicted to pain-killers. Jordan's gambling problems, as well as his own infidelity, have been well documented. Kobe Bryant was accused of far worse, yet right now there are thousands of parents out there buying his jersey as a Christmas present from Santa.

Athletes have come back from far worse and sometimes their problems even draw sympathy and an increased fan base (Again, Kobe). Outside of an alledged double-murder (I'll never forget hearing that verdict while sitting in home economics class in 7th grade), and the recent bonehead handlings of being caught for cheating the sport and using steroids by Roger Clemens (Looks stupid for not admitting to it) and Mark McGwire (Looks pathetic for not saying anything), these guys usually recover.

For someone like Tiger, who has maintained that squeaky-clean image until this point, getting out of trouble should be about as difficult as a long bunker shot. It certainly won't be easy, but the best player in the world can pull it off.

If only he would get his head out of the sand.


Quick hitters...

And by "hitters" I mean rips. Here we go...

• Peter King picked Aaron Smith of the Steelers over Michael Strahan for his all-decade team. I mention the team Smith plays for because it's 50-50 on if you've heard of him. Strahan needs no introduction. King, on Twitter, said Smith "had to be on there" and that Strahan didn't play the whole decade. True dat, Pete. And in his meager eight-year run he managed more sacks, tackles, forced fumbles, interceptions and passes defended than Smith. And please don't tell me Strahan didn't eat up blockers. For that, consult the following: bank account, Umenyiora, Osi.

• Despite reports that the Brewers signed Randy Wolf for three years and anywhere between $27 and $31 million, Omar Minaya keeps putting logs on the fire, telling reporters the Mets are "still in" the Wolf sweepstakes. And get this, as of this afternoon, Minaya still wants to sign Wolf to a two-year deal, or one less than the Brewers have offered him.

Wait, let's get this straight. Someone offered Wolf a four-bedroom house, so Minaya wants him to take the two-bedroom condo instead? The Mets are a complete joke.

First thought: Why Wolf? He stinks. Just block out some time in May for elbow discomfort now. Second thought: If Minaya is not playing coy, he is wasting quality time at the winter meetings chasing a man who's already caught. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, Jon Heyman says their attempts were "fruitless." So is rooting for the Mets.

• Tiger: The story of a man who is rich, famous, wildly successful, and has absolutely no standards.

Don't be afraid to discriminate next time, guy.

• So the Tigers decided their best bet moving forward was to trade a 28-year-old center fielder coming off a 30-homer year who is two years removed from one of the best leadoff seasons in baseball history and a 26-year-old power righty who ranked among the best pitchers in the AL in '09? Sick rebuild, Dumb-rowski.

Maybe if their lucky Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson can develop into players as good as Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson. Maybe. So why risk it?

• Turns out the NFL fined Chad Ochocinco $30 G's for donning a sombrero on Sunday after he made a diving touchdown catch. Hmmm. What has Esteban done this year? Only personalize a soulless league with his personality, make people laugh and stay 100 percent off the police blotter. He entertains us again and the NFL flips him upside down and shakes him out.

This from a league that continues to employ criminals like Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth and cheats like Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo.

Giants fans = Ingrates

This rip goes after an unusual target for me: fans. Specifically, fans of the New York Giants.

Unappreciative and misguided Giants fans who like to boo the greatest offensive player in franchise history.

Tiki Barber returned to Giants Stadium on Sunday, honored along with fellow 2000 NFC champion teammates. He had his No. 21 jersey on -- a number that should be retired -- and should have received a standing ovation. A long one.

Instead, he was booed, like he always is when his (many) highlights are played at Giants Stadium.

Let's quickly go through Tiki's "crimes."

1: He attacked Tom Coughlin, saying he was outcoached in a 23-0 playoff loss to Carolina. (He also said the Giants didn't run the ball enough in a loss to Jacksonville during the 2006 season.)
2: During the middle of the 2006 season, he didn't deny that he was planning to retire at season's end when asked about it by the New York Times.
3. He said Eli Manning's leadership was comical when asked about it in an NBC broadcast in August, 2007.

Of the three, the only one that fans should even be remotely annoyed about is the third one. If fans want to make a case that Barber shouldn't have blasted a former Giant, fine. To some extent, I can understand that. Fans want to feel like they are supporting Manning, and some likely feel that they are backing Manning by booing Barber.

Of course, then he wouldn't be giving any real honest or inside insight as a member of the media. Calling Manning's leadership "comical" was a harsh choice of words, no question, but it shouldn't erase all the amazing things he did in his career. It's time to let it go.

As for the first two things on the list, it's incredible that those are actually considered grievances. But make no mistake, they are considered just that.

The Giants' performance against Carolina in the 2005 playoffs was one of the most pathetic displays ever given in football history. It's a pretty safe bet that every fan thought Coughlin was grossly outcoached by John Fox. So in a fit of frustration -- in a season-ending loss no less -- Barber didn't hold back. If players laugh after losses, fans go crazy, and make hilariously stupid claims that they care more about winning and losing than the players do. If a player criticizes a coach after loss, then he's being disloyal. The players can't win.

And the fact that Barber didn't keep his pending retirement to himself? This became a big story because WFAN's Mike Francesa and Chris Russo made it into one, and talked about it endlessly. It started a myth that Barber was all about putting himself ahead of the team, that he wasn't giving his all, etc. Of course, he put forth another incredible season, and had the greatest game of his career in leading the Giants to the playoffs in the final game of the regular season, rushing for 234 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries against the Washington Redskins to lead the Giants to the playoffs.

(Oh by the way, he saved Coughlin's job in the process.)

Here's what really is going on. Barber wasn't on the Giants' Super Bowl championship team and there is this belief in the minds of many Giants fans that the team improved because he left.

Wrong. Very wrong.

The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 for a variety of reasons, and those reasons have nothing to do with the team's best player retiring. Tiki Barber's departure didn't allow David Tyree to make an amazing catch, didn't help the Giants' defensive line manhandle the Cowboys (which led to this) and Patriots, didn't give Tom Coughlin the idea of firing Tim Lewis and hiring Steve Spagnuolo, didn't help Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress to play masterfully in the NFC Championship, etc. etc, etc. etc, etc.

Those, along with many other factors, were the reasons why the Giants won Super Bowl 42.

It's understandable for Giants fans to love their Super Bowl winning team. And I'm not suggesting that Barber should be as beloved as Michael Strahan, Manning, or any of the other key players that led the team to a championship.

But he should still be applauded for a fantastic career.

Rex Ry-wrong

Now that Joey Porter has been put in his place by the Tuna, the loudest mouth in the NFL belongs to Rex Ryan, the new coach of the Jets. Ryan talks so much it's a wonder people still listen. He guarantees victories — claiming he can sense a big performance ahead — and the team goes out and loses, crushing the hopes of its pathetic, groveling fans yet again.

Look, I like Rex's act. It's all in the name of confidence. On the field, the guy clearly knows defense, and players are bound to play hard for him judging on his unbrideled — and often misguided — faith in them alone.

Having said that, you simply can't coach a .500 team and say what Ryan said on Monday:

"This team is close. We’re close to being a special football team. Nobody can deny that. The facts are what they are, the number one ranked defense in the league learning a brand new defense. That’s pretty good." — Ryan

Rex, you wanna see me deny it?

I find it remarkable that a coach could stand at a podium a few days after his team eeked out wins over the mighty Panthers and Bills and proclaim his team close to anything "special" but a special offseason of sunbathing and snorkeling in the tropics.

For starters, the Jets can no longer allow their kiddie quarterback to play without his swimmies. Secondly, arguably the team's best offensive player (Leon Washington) and defensive player (Kris Jenkins) are out for the season, leaving them without a playmaker on offense and down a difference-maker on D.

Basically, the Jets right now are Revis and Harris and pray the other offense can't scare us. And there's nothing special about beating mediocre teams by a couple field goals. Sorry Rex.


Mr. cheap shot

Flozell Adams has proven to be a bigger loser than even I thought. Again yesterday he showed his what a tough guy he is when he shoved Justin Tuck in the back at the end of the first half as Tuck was ready to head to the locker room.

In the first Cowboys-Giants tilt, Adams, who has long had a reputation as a dirty player, leg-whipped Tuck and kicked Osi Umenyiora. After yesterday's game, Adams had this to say about his latest punk-out.

"I ain't talking about him. He's a nobody."

I'll tell you what he is - he's a better player than you are, moron. He's also won a championship and played an incredible Super Bowl against the greatest offense in history. Where do you keep your rings, Flozell?

Once again, completing the sweep of the Cowboys yesterday was as good as it gets. For the past few years bad guys like Adams have gone unnoticed because the Cowboys employed the chivalrous Pacman Jones. Now, however, Adams' true colors (are fat and lazy colors?) are coming out.

Quick addition
: Justin Tuck, the "nobody" was 1st team All-Pro last season. Not just a pro-bowler, 1st team ALL-NFL!

Cop out

Once again, college football lets us all down. Why on earth is Boise St. matched with TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, while the teams from the "power" conferences do battle in the other BCS bowl games?

It's bad enough that we can't ever get a true national champion, but even when it has an opportunity to create an intriguing game in one of the non-title BCS games, college football is too dumb to do it.

Wouldn't you have loved to see TCU play Florida? An upstart with big talent against the best team in the country over the last five years - that would interest me.

Instead we get yawners like Florida-Cincinnati, Ohio State-Oregon and the ultimate sleep-aid, Iowa-Georgia Tech. Boise and TCU played in the Poinsettia Bowl LAST YEAR! Can't we get something different?

Of course we can't, because college football is a joke.

A ray of sunshine

Between the Yankees winning it all, the Mets finishing a miserable season and the Giants free-falling after a 5-0 start, the last couple of months have been unkind.

Until today.

As I've stated before, the Cowboys rank second behind the Yankees on my list of despised franchises, but because I root for the Giants, beating the Cowboys ranks right up there with any loss the Yankees could ever suffer.

(Winning the World Series in 2000 would have been the greatest, but alas the Mets pissed that away).

In recent years, the Cowboys talk big and play small. They yapped this week about Eli "disrespecting" them by signing his name in the visiting locker room in Week 2. I guess the motivation from that complete non-story wasn't enough to push them over the top.

The Giants are flawed, and they may still miss the playoffs. Obviously I hope the Giants can get hot and make an impact in the NFC. But today's win, at least for me, will make this season a lot easier to swallow even if it has a less than spectacular ending.


Early rips

I'm sorry, I can't wait until later to start ripping. I've never seen anything like this.

The Texans, on first-and-goal, ran a halfback toss that was picked. Comical.

The Redskins just missed a 23-yard field goal that would have sealed the Saints' first loss of the year. Disaster.

Tony Sparano, again, goes for two in a questionable situation but gets bailed out with a late field goal.

The Steelers, who stink, can't stop the Raiders all day and give up a touchdown with nine seconds left and drop to 6-6.

The daggers of incompetence are flying like never before!



Colt McCoy played a pathetic game against Nebraska today, and if he wins the Heisman I will no longer consider it a legitimate award.

Nebraska was literally one second from winning. I really wanted Texas out. Such a dagger.

We were so close to getting either TCU or Cincinnati into the BCS title game, but instead Boise, Cincy and the Frogs will all get screwed as Texas and Alabama go to the big game. I'm sorry, Alabama was very impressive today, but you can't tell me that those other three teams wouldn't have a chance to play with Texas, especially TCU which destroyed two ranked teams and won at Clemson this year.

Once again, college football really stinks. On a day where the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country played and there were three other games - UCONN-USF, Texas-Nebraska, Clemson-Georgia Tech - that went down to the wire, all we're left with is a feeling of emptiness as the computers (think about that) will likely put two powerhouses in the title game.

How is that the college football hasn't been able to create a better system than this? I won't consider watching anything but the title game, and even that's a sham, because again, three undefeated, very good teams are left out in the cold. Yawn.

Playing 5 on 8

I'm watching St. John's (the closest thing I have to a rooting interest in college bball) play at Duke, and the Johnnies really are playing against Duke and the refs. I mean Duke gets every freakin' call. It's pathetic.

Duke is better than St. John's, I'm sure they would win the game fairly easily even if they weren't playing on Coach K Court. But do they have to call an offensive foul on any St. John's player who enters the paint?

I can't wait to hear Duke Vitale talk about how good Kyle Singler is, when I'm sure by the end of this year he won't even be the best player on the team.


In what can only be described as a combination of stupidity and just plan weirdness, the Vikings have had another player get pulled over doing upwards of 100 mph.

Two days after Adrian Peterson got nailed going 109 in a 55, WR Bernard Berrian got stopped crawling along at 104.

I'm not going to go crazy with this, because my driving record is far from perfect. Like New York to Hong Kong far from perfect. But going that fast really is a little crazy. I only say that because often times when someone is pulled over it's because they either don't realize how fast they're going or the road is so open they just try to push a little too hard. There is no way, however, that a person could be doing over 100 and not realize it.

In a weird way, I think this relates to the culture of football players. I think guys like Berrian and Peterson probably feel pretty close to invincible. I can't really blame them for that, because they're young guys making a ton of money in a sport they excel at (this goes double for Peterson) despite its brutality. But these guys aren't invincible, in fact they've proven to be more vulnerable than most.

The new concussion rule is a positive step for the league, and it shows an effort to help protect its players. Still, an astounding 78 percent of players are broke or close to it within TWO YEARS of retiring from football. The culture has to change. I know the NFL tries to get these guys to think about their futures, but it has to try harder. Somehow, some way the league has to get through to these guys that if they're not careful life after football is going to hit them like a defensive end from the blind side.

Maybe it's a stretch to connect speeding tickets to the myriad problems NFL players have when their careers end. Maybe not. All I know is these players have to start thinking long-term, whether it's on the road or at the bank.

Notre Shame

The Golden Domers put forth another disgraceful display. Only this time, it came off the field.

Notre Dame announced yesterday that its football team will opt not to play in a bowl game, even though the team is "bowl eligible" with its pitiful 6-6 record (The criteria for being bowl eligible is the subject for another rip another time, but for now, I'll stick with skewering the Flighting Irish). Notre Dame hadn't locked into a specific game yet, but you can be sure they would have gotten into a better one than they deserved based on their gigantic fan base.

Seriously, who does Notre Dame think it is? The team has been mediocre for nearly two decades but yet it seemingly considers itself too good to show its face in the GMAC Bowl?

I guess playing in the postseason is old hat for this team after that monumental victory over Hawaii in last year's, you guessed it, Hawaii Bowl. Nevermind the fact that the Irish had lost nine straight bowl games before that, an incredibly anemic span stretching all the way back to 1995.

In other words, get over yourself Notre Dame! You're not a big deal anymore!

What makes this story even more distasteful is the fact that the players themselves had a say in this. This pervasive sense of unwarranted entitlement must have spread all the way down as the team took a vote in the past week.

Don't you have to question the mindset of a squad of college-aged kids that wouldn't want to take a group trip somewhere, get a lot of free stuff and get cheered on by screaming coeds to go play a football game on national TV? Man, am I thankful I don't have to do that.

Maybe Charlie Weis wasn't such a bad coach after all. Maybe his team was just a bunch of spoiled brats.

Well, check that. It was obviously a combination of those factors and others since Weis clearly stinks when running the show. He knows how to put up points (It helps to have Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate -- best name in sports?), but when it comes to everything else, he is as lost as they come.

I would say I wish I could watch the fat fraud lose one more time, but he's already gone anyway. Hopefully, the football program will ditch its snotty attitude next.


Empty Nets

I tried to give them a break for as long as possible, but tonight I have to touch on the Nets. New Jersey already broke the record for consecutive losses to start a season, and now they're trailing the Bobcats at halftime.

They had a lot of bad injuries early in the year, but now the Nets have most of their guys back. I had the Nets over 28.5 wins in a pool, and that's over. I mean, can they win a freakin' game already? How long is this gonna go on? 0-40? 0-50? A team with Brooke Lopez and Devin Harris should not be this bad.

Update: Hey, they got one!

Get off the road

It's time to get on my high horse. Preacher Norwood Buckner is here ready to pass judgment.

For the past week, we've been subjected to all the various critiques about Tiger Woods. Is it interesting? I guess to a point. His clean image and role model status took a hit...and he hurt his family. Deeply. That was about the extent of the damage.

But I'm way more bothered by Adrian Peterson getting pulled over for going 108 mph.

It's not only his reckless act that bothers me...it's that this won't get the type of attention that it deserves.

His cavalier attitude is also disgusting. He said, "I got a little speeding ticket. I need to be more aware of the speed I was going and not let it happen again."

Try again. Something like this: "I apologize for being reckless. To be going that fast is absolutely unacceptable. I'm embarrassed. I feel lucky no one was hurt. It will never happen again."

We won't hear much more about this story. Speeding tickets aren't juicy. It's not as good as Ron Artest drinking booze at games or Tim Lincecum smoking a joint.

Adrian Peterson put innocent lives at risk. 108 mph? Ridiculous. Criminal.

Sheriff Roger Goodell suspended Shaun Ellis for a game this season for using pot. Adrian Peterson should get more than that.

(He won't.)

No mo' Mangino

Well, it turns out a coach can't use the near-death of a loved one as a threat to motivate one of his players. Who knew?

Thankfully, we found out today that one of the biggest snakes in college football is gone. Mark Mangino has resigned as the coach at Kansas.

Read those last two sentences over. To rank someone among the top snakes in college football is saying something, considering the likes of Bobby "Turncoat" Petrino, Nick "The Backdoor Negotiator" Saban and Urban "Fleece My School for Every Last Penny" Meyer still roam sidelines across the country.

But let's be real. If Mangino never resigned, maybe he'd have some (severely-indented) ground to stand on. Once he skips Lawrence, he has basically admitted many of the allegations against him were true, and boy were they doozies.

I will not bore you with the whole laundry list, just the dirtiest, most disgusting item, one allegation I sincerely hope is not true but will repeat for your reading pleasure.

After watching former wideout Raymond Brown drop a pass in practice, Mangino had this delightful response to an apologetic Brown: "'Shut up!' He said, 'If you don't shut up, I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies."

This is the story Brown told ESPN.com's Joe Schad last week. Brown happens to be the same guy whose younger brother had been shot in St. Louis. Oh, that silly Mangino.

So, to Mangino, the man with more chins than the Octomom's nursery, goodbye and good riddance.

Yes, the eateries in greater Kansas will miss you, but we sure won't.

UPDATE: Oops. Missed another story about Scum-gino's madness. The Raymond Brown story shows the coach's lack of humanity. This story proves it in another way entirely. Disgusting.


Feelings hurt?

Eli Manning acknowledged that he indeed signed his name in the visiting locker room at the Cowboys' new stadium in the Giants' visit there earlier this season.

Now the Cowboys are upset. Awww. Poor wittle babies.

Get out.

A team that has consistently harbored the biggest jerks, phonies and idiots (this side of Oakland and Cincinnati, anyway) shouldn't throw stones in its new glass palace.

Wade Phillips didn't approve of Eli's John Hancock.

"Things tend to come around in this league," the consistently over-matched coach said.

What things would those be, Wade? Maybe he was referring to the dirty leg-whip that snake Flozell Adams put on Justin Tuck in Week 2. Or maybe he was referring to the fact that his mediocre coaching usually "comes around" to dagger the Cowboys in December and January.

I'm a Yankee-hater, but when baseball season ends the Cowboys do a nice job of filling in as the object of my antipathy.

Privacy for Tiger? Never

So through three skanky mistresses, three prepared statements and one crumpled SUV, the best golfer outside of Kim Jong-Il asks that we, the sporting public, do him one simple deed: respect his privacy.

Check that. He put it better.

"But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family," a statement on Tiger Woods' website reads. "Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions."

Should it? Should a famous man who runs afoul on his marriage be forced to plead at the feet of fans? No, probably not. But apparently Woods has been too busy having his shaft shined the last two decades to realize this is how celebrity works.

The man's success and fame has been equaled in sports by just three men, guys named Ruth, Ali and Jordan. For a legend of that ilk, privacy is the fountain of youth, a figment he'll never see no matter how long he waits, no matter how many Bermuda-sand bunkers he sifts through to find it.

Woods struck this deal shortly after he began to shave, once he became an August star on NBC at 18, once ol' Earl compared him to men like Ghandi and once the kid himself waxed poetic about chasing the Bear whose posters adorned his boyhood walls. No one brought into public with so many balloons and streamers would have privacy. When he followed through on the hype (Ghandi aside), Tiger's privacy vanished.

The post-Thanksgiving criticisms have torn down all sorts of actors in this drama. The girls are ho's. Elin Woods a domestic abuser. Tiger a pimp, a fraud and an obstructor of justice.

The great Jason Whitlock picked apart the last few arguments on Wednesday night, using all his bombast to craft a reasoned and biting portrayal of mainstream media members as frauds and hypocrites. Whitlock's stuff can be so damning, so pointed that it's hard to quibble. But in at least one sense he's wrong. Just like Tiger.

No, Woods is not beholden to explain his mess because he sponsors products or hits a golf ball better than those before him. And, yes, as Whitlock surmised, in a dagger thrown toward the Post's Sally Jenkins, any man would massage the law to ensure the wife he already embarrassed avoided persecution. There are a pair of valid statements.

But no one here should wear blinders. Woods and his wife created this story. They are rich, famous, beautiful (Elin is) and interesting. It involves sex, clubs in Vegas and enough sexting to make a quasi-prude 16-year-old blush. Some people may demand these answers, which they are not entitled to. But can't they desire them? And if the public thirsts for them, shouldn't folks pursue answers until they're found?

This is where Tiger will prove to have hit the ugliest shank. By seeking to maintain some semblance of privacy, the firestorm, or, as Mr. Buckner called it, the "curiosity," will only swell. When Woods speaks, the world will watch, even the men and women who've never worn an argyle sweater or bucket hat.

Whitlock said the media made Barry Bonds into a pariah because he failed to participate in their game. True. But that's not why people chase him still. Enough mystery surrounds Bonds to keep him relevant.

Take Mark McGwire, a man light years more popular, who slunk away from public life after cowering in front of congress. He will return, four long years later, at Cardinals spring training and people will sit in Jupiter waiting for him, wanting their answers.

And McGwire — he's no Tiger Woods.


Tiger madness

We tried to stay away, but it's become impossible. I'm sure by now most of you are sick of the Tiger stories, so I'll keep this short.

This is a rare case where pretty much everyone is rip-able. Let's begin with Tiger.

Listen, it's not my job to comment on where adultery ranks among human transgression. But how could a smart, image-conscious guy like Tiger be stupid enough to leave so much evidence behind? Voicemails, text messages, etc. The message he left Jaimee Grubbs actually sounds a little pathetic, as he pleads for her to change her recorded greeting. I'm not a Tiger hater. I'm a huge fan, but this whole thing has become so messy that he needs to be ripped.

Now, the media. The main problem I have with the media is not the stories about his affairs, but the handling of the accident. Has there ever been a non-story pumped up like this one? I know Mr. Buckner said he felt Tiger should have had a press conference, but I disagree. I understand he's the most famous athlete in the world, so naturally everything he does is a big deal. But the guy hit a fire hydrant near the end of his driveway. Is that really worthy of round-the-clock, stake out his house coverage? Once the police said he hadn't broken any laws and the injuries were deemed minor, I think the frenzy could have been toned down a notch.

Finally, people in general who have sexual relationships with married people or other shady dealings, then sell their story. Again, I'm not commenting on the fact that they sleep with married people. That's not my place. But do they have to sink to the point of shopping their dirty laundry to the highest bidder?

I think a lot of these people sleep with celebrities for the express purpose of blackmail or selling the story, and that's pathetic. If you're doing that, sorry, you're a prostitute. If you don't start the relationship intending to make money but then eventually sell, that's still pretty lame. I mean, can you go out and make a real living?

All in all, I find this whole thing annoying. If Tiger was caught using PEDs, that would be a monster story. But I'm just not interested in this.

Maybe I'm the only one.

Never enough

OK, fine, I'll be the bad guy again.

Derek Jeter was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year yesterday, and good for him. Jeter had a great year, he's captain of the World Series champ, etc. But SI editor Terry McDonell just had to go the extra step.

One of the problems I've had with sports media recently is that it's not good enough anymore to praise somebody, now people feel the need to one-up each other with absurd statements and honors. It's not enough to give Jeter the award because of his squeaky clean off-the-field record, his improved defensive play, his dynamite offensive year and because he's a surefire first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Here's a quote from McDonell.

"This verifies my idea that he is on the level of Ruth and Gehrig."

Um, nope. First of all, Gehrig isn't even on the same level as Ruth. The Yankees were not the Yankees before Ruth, and baseball wasn't baseball the way we know it before he began clouting. Ruth started all the Yankee winning and tradition, he was the first real slugger and he pretty much defined the term 'larger than life.' Here are the American athletes on the same level as Ruth in the last 100 years. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson. That's it.

McDonell also called Jeter the greatest shortstop of all-time. This isn't as ridiculous a statement, but one could also argue that he's not even the best shortstop on his team. ARod played eight full years at short, and let's be honest, his career dwarfs Jeter's.

Let me be clear. I have NO PROBLEM with Jeter winning this award. No one else had a great enough year for me to debate it. But why can't giving him the award for all his good attributes and great accomplishments be enough?


Talk and say nothing

Brian Kelly won't comment about interest from Notre Dame. Tiger Woods won't answer any questions from the media. Roy Halladay needs any trade resolved before Spring Training so he can avoid the "distraction" of a possible trade.

It's pathetic and funny at the same time. The media really isn't that scary. Even the big bad New York media.

Athletes and coaches should take a page out of the Derek Jeter book if they don't want to be forthcoming. He is in front of his locker before and after every game and "answers" every question. Even the annoying ones. In reality, he never says anything other than cliches, yet no one ever really gives him a hard time for his boring answers. He doesn't raise his voice, doesn't appear exasperated, and doesn't create and adversarial situation.

All these athletes and coaches who refuse to comment and lecture the media about what is important and what isn't just put more attention on themselves.

When Brian Kelly is asked about Notre Dame, he shouldn't give a soliloquy on why it's NOT a distraction. He should just answer the question. Even if he isn't forthcoming, the media won't press him. Any answer will suffice.

Tiger Woods should have held a brief press conference following his car accident. If there were questions about possible marital problems, he could just answer by saying he doesn't want to talk about personal issues. Once he says that in a calm voice, there won't be follow ups. Releasing a statement on a Web site just adds to the curiosity.

It's very easy to reveal virtually nothing in an interview. And if it's done tactfully, no one will get the sense that there is anything to hide.


Belated rips from around the league

As I said, this weekend was a little crazy, but I could never neglect my favorite weekly post. Here we go:

Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 17: The Bucs give up a late touchdown to drop to 1-10 in what is now officially a complete disaster of a season.

Buffalo 31, Miami 14: Good win for the Bills, although it's always unfortunate to have to listen to T.O. after he has a decent game.

Cincinnati 16, Cleveland 7: Brady Quinn, 16-34, 100 yards, 51.3 QB rating. Need I say more?

NY Jets 17, Carolina 6: Jake Delhomme, who threw another four picks, is the only guy threatening Quinn as the most ineffective QB in the league.

San Diego 43, Kansas City 14: The Chargers look more and more like a Super Bowl contender, while the Chiefs look more and more like a lost franchise.

Indianapolis 35, Houston 27: Houston led 20-0 after the first quarter, so this was about as daggerous a loss as a team could ever have. People keep talking about how overrated the Colts are, as they continue to win every game they play.

Tennessee 20, Arizona 17: People laughed when Vince Young said he'd be in the Hall of Fame one day, and he's certainly a long way from Canton, but he looks pretty damn good right about now.

San Francisco 20, Jacksonville 3: Jack Del Rio might be on his way to Daggerville (aka being fired) pretty soon.

Philadelphia 27, Washington 24: Once again, the Redskins play just well enough to lose.

Minnesota 36, Chicago 10: A thoroughly embarrassing performance by the Bears in every way.

Seattle 27, St. Louis 17: I saved this game for last because I have nothing to say about it. Wait.....nope, still nothing.

Tears of a clown, or clowns

Listen closely. That uncontrollable sobbing you hear is coming from the corner known as the national football media. This group of Not Woodwards and Not Bernsteins was dealt a mighty blow right around midnight when the Steelers lost to the Ravens 20-17 in OT thanks to an interception by Dennis Dixon.

Now, Dixon, in his first NFL start, filled in for Big Ben, who, going against the desire of some people he should never again consider friends, managed to wait at least one more week before putting his mental well-being on the line. Good for him. Good for Dixon, too. He played admirably, if a little uninspiring. Even though he lost the game — and don't get it twisted, he did — this rip is not for him. No, we devote this space to the poor boys who are unable to waive their Terrible Towels this morning.

Just imagine: Joe Flacco throws a pick, Rashard Mendenhall runs for a couple of first downs, Jeff Reed kicks an OT field goal and Pittsburgh wins. Would Dixon even have room to walk with all the knee-pad jobs given to him by the national football media? Game-manager. Stepped up. Cheered on every step of the way by the starter. All the cliches these clowns love were there. It had the potential to be a nauseating Monday.

We still may hear enough to get the bile bubbling in our stomachs. Take Cris Collinsworth, Mr. Buckner's boy, who raved about Dixon during his postgame thoughts. Wait, isn't Dixon the same player who tossed a pass directly into the hands of a Ravens' defender in overtime? Yes. Yes, he is.

Not to be mean, but I'm sorry folks. You cannot throw an interception that leads almost immediately to the winning score and have played well. That's like Tim McCarver saying Bill Buckner had a good World Series in '86.

Anyway, this speaks to a larger point about the national football media. Unlike in baseball or basketball where the narratives change, they never do in football. A numbers of these clowns still trumpet Shawne Merriman as a "great" defensive player. They wondered earlier this season when the Chargers' LB would pick it up. ... Hmmm. Tough question. Maybe when he starts using whatever he used in 2006 again.

Bottom line: National football media — get out.

Ripping ourselves

I want to apologize for being a little light on content this weekend. In a stroke of bad luck we all got bogged down in that pesky thing they call life. No excuses, just an explanation.

However, I can promise the ripping will be stronger than ever this week. The list of potential rippees is long and juicy.

Stay tuned.

Morris miscue

The Falcons-Bucs game might not have been one of Week 12's marquee matchups, but I'm going to write about it for two reasons:

1) I was there
2) Raheem Morris gave me material for a rip

Fans who saw highlights know that Chris Redman (filling in for the injured Matt Ryan) hit Roddy White on fourth-and-goal from the five with 26 seconds left in the game. Had the Bucs made a stop on that play, they would have won.

But what will never get mentioned is that there was a play two minutes earlier that also would have won the game for Tampa. The problem is, Morris didn't allow his team the opportunity to win.

Leading 17-13, Tampa had the ball on Atlanta's 33-yard line with 2:30 left and faced a fourth and four. Morris elected to try a 51-yard field goal. Wrong decision.

If Tampa makes the field goal, Atlanta gets the ball back trailing 20-13 with 2:20 left at whatever field position it would get following the kickoff.

If Tampa misses the field goal, Atlanta gets the ball back trailing 17-13 on its own 41. (That's what happened, and the Falcons ended up driving down the field for the winning score.)

What Morris should have done is tried for the first down. If Tampa makes the first down, assuming the play didn't end out of bounds, the game is over. Tampa qb Josh Freeman would just have to take a knee three times.

Assuming the probability of making a fourth-and-4 is similar to that of making a 51-yard field goal Morris made a misguided decision.

The benefit of making the first down is infinitesimally better than making the field goal (a guaranteed win vs. a 7-point lead with 2:20 left) and the downside of failing to convert wasn't as bad (opposition gets the ball trailing by four at its own 33 compared to its own 40). And even if a 51-yard field goal is more likely, it certainly doesn't make up for giving up an opportunity to end the game.

Another NFL Sunday. Another blunder by a clueless head coach. And this one may have cost his team the game.