Posted on: May 8, 2008 4:43 pm
NEW YORK—Hoping to address the issue of long hair obscuring players' names and numbers, NFL owners passed a new rule wherein players would be restricted to one of three league-approved hairstyles. "People don't come to games to watch tufts of hair make tackles and score touchdowns; they come to watch the colorful uniforms do it," said 49ers coach Mike Nolan of the new rule, which will limit players to No. 2 grade buzz cuts, No. 1 grade "high-and-tight" cuts, and Johnny Unitas-style flattops. "These three haircuts embody the class, dignity, and discipline that has always been associated with NFL football players. Frankly, I thought three was too many; buzz cuts hint at a sense of individuality that has absolutely no place in football." NFL owners will next vote on a rule proposal that would strike names from players' uniforms, contracts, and birth certificates.
Posted on: May 3, 2008 4:16 pm
IRVING, TX—Upon hearing that team owner Jerry Jones had traded draft picks to the Tennessee Titans for troubled cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens held a press conference to discuss his personal misgivings over acquiring a troubled player whose me-first personality and history of off-the-field issues could potentially damage the team.
"I think my character speaks for itself," Owens told reporters after arriving late to the press conference in his custom Hummer, which he parked on the sidewalk directly in front of the Texas Stadium press entrance. "You all know what I think of players who are locker-room distractions, who can't play with the team, who always have to be in the spotlight. I'm warning you—this 'Pac-Man' guy has the reputation of being one of those self-centered types no one can stand."
"You heard it here first," Owens added, taking time to glare at each camera present for at least 10 seconds. "From me, TO. No need to ask any else. That's it. That's all. That's the final word, everything the best wide receiver in the NFL has to say. Period."
Owens then spent 25 minutes reading aloud from a list of every problem Jones had experienced during his troubled three-year tenure in the NFL.
"He's been in fights at nightclubs, he's been implicated in a shooting at a strip club—a strip club!—in Las Vegas. Las Vegas!" Owens said after finishing the list. "Several times he's been around people who were involved with drugs. Drugs, man. Drugs. And he has been observed on more than one occasion being openly disrespectful to women. And now he's a Dallas Cowboy? It doesn't make any sense. I'm just glad that Michael Irvin isn't around to see this."
Owens then fell silent for several minutes, his anger evidently transformed into sadness, before suddenly producing a large bottle of painkillers and attempting to swallow the contents. Upon being restrained by security, Owens addressed what the acquisition of Jones would mean to the team as a whole.
"The Cowboys have always been the good guys, the character team, the class act, the golden boys of this league, the one everybody cheers for, the underdog, the nice guys, the pillars of the NFL community, the symbol for hard work and clean living, the team player's team, the modest and humble ones—in short, everything I've tried to stand for as a player," Owens said, punctuating each word he spoke by forcefully striking the lectern with a custom-made, Swarovski-crystal bedecked "T.O." water bottle. "How could Jerry Jones—how could the Cowboys—how could the NFL—how could God in Heaven let this happen to me? To me!"
Owens then repeated the word "Me!" at the top of his lungs roughly 20 times before bursting into tears and collapsing to the floor.
"I just think it's sad that I should have to put up with it, not to mention Tommy [sic] Rommell [sic], who tried so hard to throw me the ball last season, and the, the defense, the defensive, you know, players, and coach… Coach… Yeah, and Coach, too, and I. No one wants to deal with a guy who doesn't even know other people exist. Ask anyone, or better yet, ask me. I am not that guy."
Owens then indicated that he would take five questions from reporters, but became angry upon being asked if he thought Jones should have been banned from the NFL for life.
"I don't want to hear anyone talking bad about Jones," Owens said, his voice breaking as tears streamed down his face. "That's my teammate. That's my cornerback. Mine. Mine. Mine."
Posted on: April 8, 2008 10:56 am
LOS ANGELES—Bill Walton, the former NBA Most Valuable Player and popular current NBA broadcaster, spent the entire running time of Tuesday night's Milwaukee Bucks–Los Angeles Lakers game lavishing praise and affection on his son Luke, a Lakers small forward.<!--[image:55876]-->
"Just look at my big boy Luke standing tall and proud," Walton said during the visiting team introductions, ignoring the on-screen graphics displaying the career stats of Bucks All-Star guard Michael Redd. "While my mentor, shaman, and spirit guide John Wooden taught me 99.999 percent of almost everything I knew about the greatest sport in the world, Luke taught me everything else—and even more about that greatest game of all—the ceaseless jubilant dance of the great ever-turning mandala of Life. Truly, the boy is father to the man. The boy is father to the man."
"Nice pass!" Walton added, as Luke found himself boxed in at the post and kicked the ball back out to the top of the key, where Kobe Bryant's jump shot put the Lakers up 11-9. "Nice pass indeed."
"It does my old heart good to see Luke keep on truckin' in this big old City of Angels, where I made such fond memories in a different era and learned for myself, like the great poet Bob Dylan once asked a heartbroken nation, how many roads a man must walk down before they could call him a man," Walton continued, as the second quarter of play began with the score already an astounding 67-44 in favor of the Lakers. "Yes, I may indeed be suffering from a 'touch of gray,' as the great Jerry Garcia once said, but with the sight of my pride, my joy, and my only true immortality before me, I will get by."
"Oh, yes! Throw it down, big man! Throw it down!" Walton said in a rare acknowledgment of on-court events as Luke Walton scored two of his 14 points on a wobbly lay-up. "It's just possible that that was absolutely the smoothest and most fundamentally sound shot that I've witnessed yet this decade. Truly, the student has become a master in his own right, and the apple has not fallen far from the gnarled, wizened tree with two bad ankles I've become."<!--[image:55875]-->
"Why, it was just a week or so ago, I was watching the great John Fogerty sing 'Fortunate Son' for the good people during the halftime show of our Thanksgiving holiday," Walton continued, as Kobe Bryant collided with Milwaukee center Dan Gadzuric, suffered brutal compound twin spiral fractures of his right fibula and tibia, and was carried off the floor with his career almost certainly over and his prospects of walking again in doubt. "And I thought to myself: Neither you nor I, Mr. Fogerty, you faded sage of a more innocent yet equally doomed epoch, neither you nor I are fortunate sons. But I hope my Luke is."
"Looks like we're ready to get going again after the interruption," Walton added as the last of Bryant's blood was mopped up and the younger Walton inbounded the ball. "Nice pass."
"I couldn't give him the world without war my generation wanted so badly for his, but I tried to raise that boy right, and I share this with all the fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, and—and everyone out there with a family," Walton added as play stopped for almost 15 minutes while a Bengal tiger, brought in as part of the Lakers' floor show, escaped and brutally savaged seven audience members. "We are all fortunate to have one another. Your team can be your family, and I played on a lot of close teams, but Luke, Adam, and Nathan, and Chris, they're my Omega Point. And what's more, they're my actual family."
"Yes, I'm their father," Walton added. "They're my sons. And Luke, my son, is playing his heart out tonight."
"Thanks for joining myself and Snapper Jones for this meeting of the Bucks and Lakers, the team for which my boy Luke has become a man right before your very eyes and mine—eyes he'll steal right off your face if you're not careful, but that's all right… the future belongs to him," Walton said as the broadcast concluded. "To him and all the fine young men everywhere, blessed be them all. Amaste."
The Bucks won the game, 109-105. Luke Walton finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of play.
Posted on: March 24, 2008 5:24 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2008 5:25 pm
NEW YORK—Though the NCAA's postseason consolation tournament began play earlier this week, National Invitational Tournament selection committee chairman C.M. Newton issued a nationwide call for more basketball teams, or even individual players, saying the NIT is still trying to round up enough guys to fill out the 32-team field.
"Whether you are 7 years old or 70, male or female, or just happen to be in the neighborhood, we at the NIT would love for you to play in our tournament," Newton told reporters at a press conference, adding that last-minute entrants would only have to pay half of the NIT's customary $150 entry fee. "The NIT's a really fun, no-pressure tournament. Nobody cares that much, and the skill level isn't that high, so even if you haven't picked up a ball in years you'll fit right in."
"It's laid-back," Newton added. "It's cool, and it's healthy for you. You'll love it. Come on over."
According to Newton, since several teams either rejected the NIT's initial invitation or made an informal commitment to the tournament but never bothered to return follow-up phone calls, there were six empty spots remaining prior to Tuesday night's opening tip-off. That number increased to 10 when Morgan State, UNC-Asheville, Elks Lodge #368 from Mesquite, NV, and the team representing the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh, PA canceled at the last minute.
"In order to participate in the NIT, all you have to do is show up with five guys, some basketball sneakers, and a good attitude," Newton said. "Or, if you are a single and just want to play some B-ball, don't feel embarrassed. Just show up and we can probably fit you in somewhere."
"I think Ohio State and the 10th Street Y's over-50 league only brought four guys each this year," added Newton, who also wanted potential players to know that they can call their team whatever they want no matter how silly or crazy the name. "Please come out and play."
Newton later stated that because he is having difficulty getting in touch with facility operators at the tournament's various venues, which consists of the Scottsdale YMCA, Ben Franklin Elementary School's cafeteria/gymnasium, and the outdoor courts behind St. Rita's Church, those who ultimately decide to play would be doing tournament organizers a huge favor by bringing their own basketballs.
Reports from last night's first-round contest between Creighton University and the University of Rhode Island indicate that the entire game was played with a volleyball.
According to tournament officials, the desperate call for players is not an uncommon practice for the NIT, which is now in its 50th, 34th, or 22nd year depending on who you talk to. Last year's selection committee was only able to get 25 collegiate teams to participate in the postseason playoff. In 2004, only 10 NCAA teams were willing to play in the consolation tournament, making it possible for "The Montana Bar Bears," a squad consisting of five lawyers from Missoula, MT, to win the entire tournament. The Bar Bears defeated Rutgers University in front of a record NIT crowd of 278 people.
"Anything can happen in the NIT, baby," ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said. "And this year should be no different. Opponents better watch out for [New York real estate agent] Rick Nelson's super, scintillating, sensational baby hook. And you can't forget [56-year-old] Mort Feldstein's unbelievable presence down low. He's a PTPer, baby."
Vitale later admitted that he could not name one college basketball team participating in this year's NIT.
"Once the field is complete, we are going to play NIT basketball as usual," chief official Art Hyland said. "Half-court games to 11, win by two, loser's outs. And it's important for those new players unfamiliar with NIT rules to remember that if you don't call 'check ball,' the other team can just take it in for an easy lay up."
Hyland said that once teams are eliminated, there would be a hoop open at the other end of the gym so players could to get a "big game of knockout going."
"Looking at the field, I think we have a pretty good chance," said 52-year-old David Holtz, who will play for the Greensboro County Rotary Club. "Sure, the University of Dayton has guys who are younger and faster than us, but they lost to La Salle in February. Christ, I could beat La Salle by myself. The team to watch is definitely the Freemasons from Danville, CT. They have this one guy who is 6-foot-4."
Tournament organizer Christine Fallon said that players thinking about participating in the playoff should be aware that the prize of winning the NIT is the same this year as it was last year, with the championship team receiving $200 in cash and gift certificates good at local merchants.