Sunday, September 30, 2012

49ers' Colin Kaepernick scores Wildcat TD against Jets

San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, scored his first NFL touchdown by surprising the New York Jets with a Tim Tebow-style Wildcat play.

The Jets head coach, Rex Ryan, the Wildcat's biggest advocate, had been touting the possible challenges his Tebow-led Wildcat would cause opposing teams ever since the former Broncos QB arrived in the Jets camp this summer.

Ironically, Ryan's own defense didn't look ready for the scheme and the Jets ended up being the opposing team in this instance.

The rarely used Kaepernick, a second-year backup, ran the ball in for the seven-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 7-0 first quarter lead after an eight play, 68-yard drive engineered by starter Alex Smith.


Kaepernick, who has a total of four pass attempts under his NFL belt, came in for Smith for a couple of formations during the game and out-Wildcatted Ryan and his Jets.  The 49ers blockers cleared a nice path for their QB after he took the snap and scooted left.  The Jets' D looked like it had never seen anyone run it before.

On the other side of MetLife Stadium, Tebow threw his first pass as a Jet.  It was complete to Dedrick Epps but fumbled by the tight end.

The 49ers took a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

WVU makes anti-couch burning PSA video

West Virginia University students have a reputation for burning couches in the street after their Mountaineers win a football game or an international despot like Osama Bin Laden is killed.

To remind the residents of Morgantown that couches are an important part of our lives, the WVU student government has put together a PSA anti-couch burning video aimed at saving more sofas from a sinister fate.

The 30-second video shows students the importance of a couch — a place where you sit,  find loose change and your lost remote — then warns viewers that burning a couch could cost you jail time, fines, expulsion and (gasp) moving back home with mom and dad.

The tongue-in-cheek spot features the Mountain Man mascot, lounging students, and one brave couch. The PSA condemns the dangerous tradition by saying:

"Burning a couch isn't cool.  Don't be stupid.  Be smart.  Celebrate with class."

The local IKEA probably isn't behind this message.

Keegan Bradley compares Ryder Cup atmosphere to Patriots game

If anyone has set the tone for the Ryder Cup this year it's Keegan Bradley.  The St. John's alum might be the perfect person to lead the U.S. over Europe in the 39th Ryder Cup and he got things started yesterday.

The rookie was paired with veteran Phil Mickelson and together the two lefties looked like a couple of kids on the last day at school.

Bradley's exuberance and clutch play sparked the U.S. to a 5-3 lead after the first two sessions — going 2-0 with Mickelson in taking down two of Europe's best teams.

The 2011 PGA Rookie of the Year made big shot after big shot in between high-fives and chest bumps with his idol Mickelson.

Bradley called it the best day of his life and afterwards the Vermont-raised golfer said the Medinah Country Club atmosphere was like seeing his favorite football team at Gillette Stadium.

"[We were] running down the fairway, arms around each other, we were screaming," said Bradley.  "It was like a Patriots game out there."


The 46-year old Mickelson echoed the sentiment and said he "felt young again playing with Bradley."

Bradley was superb on Friday.  He made clutch shots and didn't wilt under the boisterous Chicago-area crowd while on the greens.  His long putt on the 15th hole, all but clinched the win.

"There's a simple reason why Keegan is perfect for the Ryder Cup," said Mickelson, who went 2-0 on the same day for the first time in nine Ryder Cup appearances.  "The more pressure the situation, the better he plays, the better he sees the shot, the better the result.  There's no higher pressure situation than the Ryder Cup."

Bradley's energy might have rejuvenated his partner's game and it sounds like there's plenty more lightning left inside the former Red Storm star.

While the two players were enjoying a rousing ovation from the fans after yesterday's final victory, Bradley exclaimed, " Oh baby, I wish I could go 36 more."

Jay-Z opens Barclays Center wearing Brooklyn Nets jersey

Brooklyn's own Jay-Z opened up the new downtown Barclays Center with a bang.  The first event ever held in the new arena was a hometown showcase for the singer who promoted its newest tenants — the Brooklyn Nets — by sporting a No. 4 team jersey.

Jay-Z made his dramatic Barclays Center debut — the first of eight concerts — wearing a Nets cap and the the old school-style black uniform jersey that the team had been keeping under wraps until recently.  Yup, there it was underneath all the gold chains for everyone to see.

The 19,000 fans at the venue's housewarming party included an roster of celebrities and sports stars.  The Nets star point guard, Deron Williams,  even made the trip from Manhattan to see his boss perform.  Also spotted in the crowd were New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, NBA legend Magic Johnson and even NBC weatherman Al Roker.

While the borough's most famous rapper wore his Brooklyn on his sleeve — well his arm at least — Jay-Z paid homage to the genre's Brooklyn pioneers.  He insisted on a moment of silence for Notorious BIG and later had Big Daddy Kane come out for an high energy encore.

"Tonight is a celebration of the borough where I'm from," Jay-Z told the crowd.  "Welcome to my house."

Jay-Z's fingerprints are all over the place. From the 40/40 Club to the unis to the music, it is his house.

"I've been on many stages , been all around the world, but nothing feels like like tonight," he exclaimed to his fans about the thrill of performing in the state-of-the-art arena in front of his hometown fans.

The minority owner of the Nets is proud of his Brooklyn roots and satisfaction that he helped bring the borough its first major professional sports team in 50 years.

If last night's opening was any indication, the Brooklyn Nets are going to give the Knicks a run for their  money or, at least with Jay-Z as the front man, they might be the biggest attraction in New York this winter.

Friday, September 28, 2012

St. John's mascot rappels down 470-foot building

St. John's mascot, Johnny the Thunderbird, might not be the coolest mascot in college sports but it is probably the ballsiest.

The big-headed bird was probably hoping its wings were functional when it rappelled down the side of the 470-foot Harborside  Financial Center Building No. 5 as part of the "Over the Edge" fundraising  initiative on Friday.

Johnny joined Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice  and other fundraisers help raise money for the American Cancer Society by lowering themselves down the glass structure which rises up from the Jersey City waterfront.

After the fearless Red Storm mascot got his feet firmly planted back on the ground, he tweeted about the stunt on Twitter.

You can have your Leprechaun looking for a fight, Sooners in a wagon or Trojan on a horse but when it comes flat out mascot toughness — try lowering yourself down a 50-story building wearing a giant ten-pound bird head.

The Over the Edge event helped raise over $250,000 for cancer research.

Falcons' DeCoud plays 'meow' game during 'Sportscenter' interview

Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud pranked ESPN's "Sportscenter" during a live phone interview Friday afternoon.

The Falcons player couldn't resist having a little fun with his host and played the "meow" game — made famous by the 2001 film comedy "Super Troopers," while answering questions.

In the classic comedy bit, two police officers pull over a car and confuse the driver by sneaking in the word "meow" every time they mean to say "now."

In the nearly four-minute interview, DeCoud manages to slip in 14 "meows" without cracking up.

The first one can be heard at around :45 of the video.

It's not clear if the ESPN anchor was aware he was being pranked, but knowing the frat-boy humor at ESPN, I'm sure he did and just went with the flow.

Tiger Woods drills Ryder Cup fan in head

Tiger Woods got a favorable 40-yard bounce off the head of a fan during the morning matches on the opening day of the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

The unlucky young man was hit on his head while watching Woods drive on the seventh hole during the golfer's morning foursome Friday morning.

Woods was steered to the dazed fan by his caddie, Joe Lacava.  The fan, who was bleeding from a cut on his head, sat on the ground while Woods offered words of encouragement.  He lost a brewski, along with the blood from the stray drive, but managed to continue watching from the gallery with a towel on his head.

Woods was appreciative of the fan's involuntary assist and gave the wounded spectator a customary signed glove for his headache.

Woods and his partner Steve Stricker won the 7th hole with a birdie, but lost their foursome match 2-and-1 to Team Europe's pairing of Ian Pouter and Justin Rose.

NFL fans get apology letter from Roger Goodell

It was nice waking up this morning knowing that the NFL was back in the hands of real referees and everything in the world order was back in place.  A nice added touch from the league was when I received a letter from Roger Goodell via email apologizing for the lockout and more excuses for the inconvenience of putting  amateurs on a professional field.

That's a good start.  Now we can get back to talking about what's really important — Bountygate and Tim Tebow's Wildcat.

The NFL Commissioner's letter read in part:

"I believe in accountability, not excuses.  And I regret we were not able to secure an agreement sooner in the process and avoid the unfortunate distractions to the game.  You deserve better."

By "you" he means us.

Goodell added:

"As a lifelong fan, this wasn't an easy process for anyone involved.  I particularly want to thank commend the replacement officials for taking on an unenviable task and doing it with focus and dedication in the most adverse of circumstances."

The commish starts with how the "focus is on the players and the action on the field"and not labor negotiations and ends with him praising the returning refs.

Still, no mention of the Green Bay Packers.

Favre's unbeaten HS team loses on Hail Mary pass

Brett Favre's success as an NFL player carried over to his gig as a high school offensive coordinator until last night.  Favre's unbeaten Oak Grove (Miss.) took on Petal in a battle between two powerhouses on a national cable television station.

Things didn't go so well for for the 5-0 OG squad who couldn't even muster 100 yards of total offense but still had the game in hand when Petal — looking at a fourth-and-17 — scored on a Hail Mary pass to win the game.

The best part of this clip might be the announcers enthusiastic call of the incredible play.  Even more amazing is the fact that there is a Jumbotron on a high school field.


Check out Favre's reaction to the play on Deadspin.

Vick warns Giants defense: 'I can switch it up'

Michael Vick may have 32-year old legs and his coaches are telling him to resist scampering down the field at the first white of a defensive lineman's eyes. But that doesn't mean the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback still can't run.

The Eagles' scrambler has a warning for anyone who thinks his best days as an athlete are behind him and he can't make a big play with his legs.

"Any time, I can switch it up," Vick told the New York Daily News on Thursday.  "I can put on them light shoes and run around still. And you never know when.  It could be this week."

Those words sound like they are directed straight at the vaunted defensive ends of the New York Giants — who take a ride down the Turnpike into Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday night.

It's curious that Vick — a quarterback who's been sacked nine times and endured 27 QB hits — would tempt fate by running with the ball.

The 10-year veteran insists he can still take a pounding.

"I take care of my body," he said.  "I'm careful what I put into it.  The hits don't hurt any more than they used to."

Vick might be in for more than a pounding from the Giants front line.  Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck will go full force at their familiar No. 7 target that is protected by an offensive line that will start backup left tackle Demetress Bell and second string center Dallas Reynolds.

The Giants can almost taste blood already.

Vick says he is hardly concerned that he is on pace to throw 32 interceptions, fumble 11 times and get sacked nearly 50 times.  This is a game that could set the tone in the NFC East early in the season.

"We have the same record as the team we're going against," he said.  "We're playing for the division."

Vick should do the math.  Ten years as a scrambling NFL quarterback is like 70 as a pocket passer.

Martellus Bennett: Romo not in same league as Eli

Martellus Bennett has never been one to keep his opinions to himself.  Now the one time plus-sized New York Giants tight end revealed his recent success is due to the fact that he's not playing with Tony Romo.

The 6-foot-6 Bennett drooped by Manhattan's Old Homestead Steakhouse the other night with teammate Michael Coe and was overheard telling a waiter that he now has a better quarterback throwing to him, according to Page Six of The New York Post.

"Romo isn't even in the same league as Eli Manning. Not even close," said Bennett, according to the source.

Bennett, who is enjoying a resurgence with Big Blue after a disappointing season with the Dallas Cowboys, already has 15 catches and three touchdowns with Manning at the helm.  He had no touchdown catches last year with Romo calling the shots.

Manning's new favorite third-down option came into training camp weighing a whopping 291 pounds but now Bennett looks like Tim Tebow in a Vogue photo spread.

After dishing on Romo and Eli, Bennett was seen signing napkins and receipts for customers at the famous eatery.

They don't call him Mar-Tell us for nothing.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Keith Hernandez shaves off his iconic mustache for charity

There has been two constants hanging around the New York Mets for almost three decades — disappointment and Keith Hernandez's mustache.  Now one of them is gone and — too bad for Mets fans — it's the former first baseman's iconic 'stache.

The same caterpillar that was above the first baseman's lip when he came to Shea Stadium in the mid-80's, charmed both Jerry and Elaine on "Seinfeld" in the '90's and was his trademark while calling games for the Mets in the new millennium is gone.

Hernandez's famous facial hair met its maker Thursday afternoon during a public shaving in front of Citi Field Thursday.

Hundreds of fans came early to see the freshly-shaven Hernandez show off his glistening upper lip and watched as their memories of better times fell onto his lap.

"I feel like I'm on the guillotine here," joked Hernandez as he settled into the makeshift barber's chair.

On a platform surrounded by a barber pole and various shaving accessories, Eliot Chester, the Las Vegas barber to the stars, did the honors.

"Am I nervous?" asked Hernandez from the stage.  "No."

The five-time All-Star said he has only shaved his mustache three times and when his contract for "Just For Men" hair coloring ended, he felt he needed to make a change.

Shick Hydro donated $10,000 to the Jacquelyn Hernandez Health Center in Brooklyn  for the honor of providing the tools that shaved off the facial hair that was named the best mustache in sports history by the American Mustache Institute in 2007.

Hernandez has committed to remaining clean-shaven for the rest of the Mets season.  He will decide in the offseason whether it will reappear.  That lip might get pretty cold come November.

"I want to thank all my fans who supported my mustache over the years," he said in a statement.  "But it's time to take a back seat and give my upper lip some time to shine."

Remember.  He's Keith Hernandez.

Travis Snider makes one of the greatest catches you'll ever see

The big news around CitiField Thursday was Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey going for his 20th win of the season and Mets legend Keith Hernandez getting his iconic mustache shaved off in the parking lot.

That was until Pittsburgh Pirates rightfielder Travis Snider made one of the greatest catches you will ever see a player make — robbing the Mets Mike Baxter of what looked like a sure home run.

The Pirates led 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Baxter's shot looked like it was going to clear the left field fence.  That's when Snider used the chain link fence as a launchpad to get his glove about 13 feet in the air and make the remarkable catch.

Pirates starter Kevin Corriea just stared in shock that Baxter didn't launch his pitch over the wall.

Even Mets fans were cheering the acrobatic catch.


Snider was playing his first game in Flushing and must have scouted the chain link fence before the game.

Snider's amazing play is one for the ages.

Goodell tells fans 'We're sorry' about replacement refs

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is apologizing to fans for having to use replacement referees during a lockout of the regular officials.  The three-month impasse led to three weeks of controversial officiating — culminating with a questionable call that cost the Green Bay Packers a victory Monday night.

Goodell apologized Thursday during a conference call about 12 hours after the two sides came to an agreement.   The referees' union and league finally shook hands on a tentative eight-year deal that will allow the regular refs to return beginning Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens-Cleveland Browns game.

"Something like this, it's painful for everybody," said Goodell.  "Most importantly, it's painful for fans.  We're sorry to have to put fans through that."

The use of replacement refs during the lockout was a public relations disaster for the NFL that saw multiple games affected over the first three weeks of the regular season.

A deal was finally struck after the Seattle Seahawks debatable last-second win over the Packers Monday night in which the replacement referees missed a call.

UFC star Chael Sonnen makes cameo in 'Always Sunny' spoof

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" returns for its eighth season on Oct. 11, and the irreverent series — which has never followed the rules of comedy or political correctness — has decided to switch up the entire cast if you believe the commercials running on the FX network.

FX has released spoof commercials with new actors and actresses playing the arrogant "Always Sunny" characters we've come to know and shake our heads at.

One of the character changes is controversial MMA star Chael Sonnen who is playing the role of  Dennis on the behind-the-scenes commercials. The egotistical light heavyweight is a good fit for the part of the narcissistic Dennis.  Sonnen's casting might be a tie-in to the UFC which broadcasts on FX.

The other replacements are Xzibit as the new Dee, Haley Joel Osment as Mac (he even has the beard), Candace Cameron as Charlie and Andrew Dice Clay as Frank.

Expecting anything less than from television's most warped bar owners is to be expected.

Adrian Beltre says Eric Gagne should have 'named names'

Eric Gagne claims in his upcoming biography that 80% of the Los Angeles Dodgers took PEDs when he was with the team.

Former Dodgers teammate Adrian Beltre — who people have speculated  about using PEDs in the past — took offense to Gagne's statement and was forthright in his answer when someone asked him about it yesterday:

"He should have named names.  I don't know what you want me to tell you ... For him to say something liken that, he should have come out with names instead of percentage."

It was understandable that Beltre would bristle at the assumption he was part of the 80%.  He has heard the talk before.

Beltre was teammates with Gagne when the French-Canadian pitcher won the Cy Young in 2003.

Gagne, whose book is in French and titled: "Game Over: The Story of Eric Gagne," admitted using human growth hormone over five cycles in a three year period toward the end of his career.

What better way to stir up publicity for a book than saying up to 30 players on a major league team used PEDs.

If Gagne is trying to fire up interest in his story, Beltre — currently playing for the Texas Rangers — is one person who won't be giving it a read.  Especially when he found out it was in French.

"My French is not good," said Beltre.  "Everybody has the right to say whatever they say.  If they feel the need to write a book about it, what can I say?"

Justin Tuck: Real referees are going to be 'rusty'

The New York Giants don't exactly expect a smooth transition going from the replacement referees to the real ones this week.

Despite the regular referees returning Thursday — after reaching an agreement between the NFLRA and the league — Giants defensive end Justin Tuck thinks the officiating on the field may still be a little tentative.

"It's still going to be an issue when the real guys come back," said Tuck.  "They are going to be rusty; they haven't had a preseason to practice their craft.  It would be like me coming to play a regular-season game, having not practiced or having a pre-season game."

The Giants are probably hoping that the real refs have, at least, been practicing on their Madden '12 as the team heads into the unwelcoming confines of Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's nationally-televised game.

We all know how well the last nationally-televised NFL game ended.

The Giants face their division rival in a important early season game and are thankful they will have a strong and experienced — if only a little out-of-shape — officiating crew calling the game.

"It is especially difficult with a running quarterback like [Michael] Vick; it creates problems," said linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka.  "You don't know if he is running the ball.  Is he looking to pass?  Is he defenseless player?  Is he a runner?  Those kinds of plays are difficult for anybody in real time and they are not always revealed in plays."

The Giants players won't blame the rent-a-refs for affecting how they played any games but some claim that the players could help persuade how the replacement refs called some.

Tight end Martellus Bennett claims it's not only the controversial rulings like Monday night's highly-publicized Packers-Seahawks fiasco that affected the quality of play, it was the intimidation of the fill-in refs by the players and coaches throughout the game.

"Nobody really respects the replacements.  Guys get in their face and do things guys wouldn't do to regular refs they do to these guys," Bennett said.  "They go up to the replacement refs and say, 'Hey, he's holding. You need to call that.' With the regular refs, they would just go up and say, 'Did you see that holding?'

"It works a little bit, if you're persuasive — and a star.  If (Cardinals receiver) Larry Fitzgerald comes up to you and you're a replacement ref and he says, 'Hey, this guy is holding me the whole time,' it's Larry Fitzgerald.  What's a replacement ref gonna do?"

NFL reaches agreement with officials to end lockout

After five straight days of of negotiations — spurred on by Monday night's Packers-Seahawks Hail Mary fiasco — and the slate of Week 4 games creeping closer, the NFL and its referees' union finally came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Team owners lifted the three-month lockout, allowing the regular referees to return to the field for Thursday night's Ravens-Browns game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

The settlement came after the marathon negotiations went on since last Friday and picked up intensity after the Seahawks defeated the Packers on Monday night's nationally televised blown call in the end zone.

Emotions ran high after the controversial call — one of the many replacement referees' flubs over the first three weeks of the season. The fill-in referees were universally criticized by the players, fans, coaches, gamblers and politicians.  Even President Obama called Monday's play "terrible."

"We are glad to be getting back on the field," NFLRA president Scott Green said after the eight-year deal was pushed through 48 hours after the Packers-Seahawks debacle.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — who's leadership was questioned throughout the lockout — took a lot of the blame for allowing inexperienced referees to officiate games that many did not have the skills or training to handle.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the league had 'tarnished" the league by putting inferior refs on the field and apologized to fans for the NFL.

"We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion," said Goodell of the agreement.  "Now it's time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs."

The 121 regular referees' average salaries will increase from $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013 rising to $205,000 in 2019.

The timetable for the final signing off on the deal is expected to be minimal.  The officials need to meet to ratify any proposal accepted by  the NFLRA's board of directors.  They are expected to vote on it in Dallas on Saturday.

A day after the real referees came out looking like winners, the other beneficiaries are the fans and the players — even after suffering through weeks of the rent-a-refs.

Meanwhile, the owners came out looking like arrogant Scrooges.

But the big loser was Goodell — who came out looking unsympathetic to the fans and player's gripes about the poor officiating that had head coaches steaming.  The NFL fined four coaches — including New England's Bill Belichick and Denver's John Fox — for demonstrative acts against the replacements.  Belichick drew a $50,000 fine for grabbing an official after the Patriots lost.

For the Green Bay Packers, the agreement came three days too late.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autistic basketball hero Jason McElwain qualifies for Boston Marathon

Add another chapter to the amazing athletic exploits of the autistic Rochester, N.Y. man who made national headlines by scoring 20 points in four minutes in the only high school game he ever played in.

Six years ago, Jason McElwain came off the bench to become a YouTube sensation and inspiration for millions.  This weekend, the 23-year old McElwain qualified for the Boston Marathon by finishing the MVP Health Care Rochester Marathon in 3 hours, 1 minute and 41 seconds — the first marathon he has ever competed in.

McElwain finished in 15th place and qualified for the Boston classic by finishing in under 3:05.  The supermarket baker, known as J-Mac, hopes to run in Boston in 2014.

McElwain was the student-manager of the Greece Athena High School team when coach Jim Johnson put him in the final game of the season in 2006.  With four minutes left, J-Mac hit six 3-point shots and two free throws sending the crowd into a wild frenzy.

The video went viral and has been viewed millions of times.  The inspirational McElwain went on to meet then-President George W. Bush and appear with Oprah Winfrey.  The movie rights were bought by former NBA star Magic Johnson.

About his unforgettable game,  the unflappable McElwain explained that he was "hotter than a pistol."

Besides working in the bakery, McElwain  is an assistant JV basketball coach.  He began his marathon training about a year ago.

This is one guy that's never been out of the running anyway.

Aaron Rodgers rips NFL, apologizes to fans

The NFL released a statement Tuesday with a double-discount excuse for what most people concede was an atrocious ruling at the end of Monday night's Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game.  In case you've been living under a rock, the NFL said it agreed with the decision not to overturn the touchdown on replay although it never said the initial call of a simultaneous catch was correct.  Got it.

A few hours later, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was more direct on his radio talk show on WAUK-AM Milwaukee.  Rodgers was more animated than at his press conference following his team's shocking loss.  He opened up the show by joking to host, Jason Wilde, "I'd say this is a highly anticipated show today."

Rodgers took a more angry tone after the opening crack while discussing the game-winning Hail Mary pass that gave Seattle the debatable victory.


"First of all, I've got to do something that the NFL is not going to do: I have to apologize to the fans," Rodgers said.  "Our sport is a multi-billion dollar machine, generated by people who pay good money to come watch us play.  The product on the field is not being complemented by an an appropriate set of officials.  The games are getting out of control.

"My thing is I just feel bad for the fans. They pay good money to watch this," he continued.  "The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a bit."

Rodgers called the NFL's backing of the controversial call "bold" — and not in a good sense.

Rodgers went on to read the NFL statement in a harsh and sarcastic tone and noted how it was worded: "the officials determined both [Golden] Tate and [M.D.] Jennings had possession of the ball" when the players fell to the ground.

"I call bull on that because they say 'officials,'" Rodgers sniffed.  "There was zero communication between them."

The bitter quarterback went on to rip the simultaneous rule — who has the ball on their chest first.

"That's garbage, obviously," said Rodgers. "They're covering their butt here ... I mean, come on.  That's embarrassing."

Rodgers went on to rip the officials for coming into the Packers locker room to pull out players for a meaningless extra point claiming they "got kind of a rude welcome."  He also beefed about the crowd on the field after the fiasco in the end zone.

"How did all those people get on the field?  It was a mob scene over there," he said.  "It's unbelievable.  It was chaos."

Not as chaotic as it is in the NFL offices right now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Victor Cruz: I would not take credit for Golden Tate's controversial catch

You can't look anywhere today without seeing replays of Monday Night Football's controversial touchdown call — or non-call, if you prefer — that gave the Seattle Seahawks a last second victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson's Hail Mary pass as time expired was credited as a touchdown to his receiver Golden Tate — even after Packers cornerback M.D. Jennings came up with the ball.  In the mad scramble for the ball on the play,  one replacement referee signaled "touchback" and another raised his arms showing "touchdown."  After a review, the TD call stood.

While Tate told SiriusXM NFL Radio he had no problem saying he deserved credit for the touchdown catch.  "I know I had the ball," he said in the  postgame interview.  Jennings said if Tate was asked to take a lie detector test, he would fail.

On ESPN's Mike & Mike Morning Show Tuesday, New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz told his hosts that he doesn't think he would have taken credit for the touchdown catch like Tate did.

"Probably not.  I would have been honest," said Cruz.  "Obviously, the film shows, the video shows that I obviously didn't catch the football.  I wouldn't have owned up to catching it, if I didn't catch it."

The salsa-dancing Cruz thought the replacement referees made the wrong call.

"I thought it was a tough play," said Cruz.  "Obviously the refs at least have to agree on the call at the very end.  But obviously I felt like it was the wrong call.  We hated it, we wished it wouldn't come down to something like this with the replacement refs, but unfortunately it has.  And it cost Green Bay the game."

Cruz went on to confess that players are getting more physical and getting away with more infractions because of the replacements.

"I feel like the defenders — and I would do the same thing, if they're seeing that some of the refs aren't calling some of these downfield holding calls or pass interference or whatever the case may be.  I would start using that to my advantage, start holding a little bit and stuff like that."

And the frustration goes beyond the New York Giants' players.

The blown call even has New Jersey politicians calling for the rent-a-refs' heads.  Just hours after the Packers were victims of the inept referee crew,  a State Senator wants to block replacement referees from working pro football games in New Jersey.

They take their football seriously — and honestly — in the Garden State.

Jets linebacker clarifies remark on injured Reggie Bush

A day after New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace's remarks made it sound like his team had put out a bounty on Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, Pace claimed his comments were taken out of context and misunderstood.

Bush injured his left knee right before halftime and didn't take the field for the rest of the game.  After the Jets emotional 23-20 overtime victory over the Dolphins, Pace was asked about Bush's injury and said, "I guess he was doing his thing for a quarter or two.  We had to put him on out.  I didn't see him again."

On Monday, Pace threw out the notion that the comment was referring to a New Orleans Saints-like "bounty" arrangement.

"I wasn't trying to say it as if we were trying to hurt him," Pace said.  "I'm sad to see him get hurt.  We aren't running any kind of bounty system or anything like that.  Actually, just looking at the play, somebody just kind of fell on his knee.  It wasn't anything malicious ... I guess I need to say things in a different manner.  I'll do a better job of it next time."

Pace sounded like he was trying to say that Gang Green's defense had to keep hitting Bush to wear him down.  Bush gained 61 yards on 10 carries before he got hurt running out the clock before the half.

An MRI showed that Bush knee suffered no structural damage but his return to the field is unclear.  He could suit up this Sunday against Arizona if his the swelling goes down.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Calvin Pace on Reggie Bush: 'We had to put him on out'

Following the New York Jets dramatic 23-20 overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Jets' linebacker Calvin Pace had this to say about Reggie Bush after the running back injured his knee right before the second half: "I guess he was doing his thing for a quarter or two.  We had to put him on out.  We didn't see him again."

On Monday, Pace's quote now asks the question of whether the Jets sought to injure the Dolphins' rusher — especially after Rex Ryan joked that the Jets might have to "put some hot sauce" on Bush, in the days leading up to the Week 3 Game.

"Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground," Ryan joked last Wednesday.  "Put some hot sauce on him, if you will."

The implication of Pace's quote, some may feel, is that the Jets defense intentionally sought to injure Bush.

Bush suffered the left knee injury trying to run out the clock before the half.  He did come out of the locker room in full uniform, ready to play in the third quarter.  He had already gained 61 yards on 10 carries but did not take the field in the second half.

The Dolphins running back was coming off a 172-yard performance in Week 2 but did not handle the ball in the second half or overtime.

Replays of the play that knocked Bush out of the game didn't reveal any cheap shots or illegal plays by the Jets.  He could play again by Sunday against Arizona, according to ESPN, and the injury is not considered season-ending.

Still, in Roger Goodell's NFL, players have to watch what they say.

Yankees rookies dress up as 'Star Wars' characters

The New York Yankees rookies prepared for the final road trip of the season by dressing up as some of the best-known characters from the "Star Wars" films after Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Oakland A's.

This year's hazing of first year players may be a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor because the team is universally known as "The Evil Empire."

Last year's rookies had to dress up as pop stars.

There were no booming strains of "The Imperial March" when the players posed for cameras but there was Adam Warren as Hans Solo, David Phelps as Princess Leia, Cody Eppley as Luke Skywalker and Melky Mesa as Darth Vader.  Mesa probably wishes he had that mask and helmet to hide his face after missing third base Saturday but that episode seems like it's in a galaxy far away right now.

New assistant trainer Mark Littlefield and Hiroki Kuroda's translator, Kenji Nimura, dressed up as the smallest Chewbacca and biggest Yoda ever, respectively.

New York is battling Baltimore for the top spot in the AL East, so Yankees fans are hoping the Force, or at least some power in the middle of the lineup, is with them.

Dolphins 'icing' timeout backfires against the Jets

Hopefully Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin's decision to "ice" the kicker at the last second will be a lesson to all coaches who plan on using a spare timeout to make an opposing kicker "think" about making a game-winning kick right before the snap.  But, after yesterday's strategy backfired, I still don't think it will stop anyone from using the annoying bush-league tactic.

Philbin tried it yesterday to devastating results when the New York Jets kicker Nick Folk was staring at a 33-yarder in overtime.  Philbin waited, then waited some more before calling the timeout — about a half-second before the Jets snapped the ball.  Too bad it was a second before the Dolphins' Randy Starks busted through the line and blocked the kick — which officially was not a play since Philbin had already formed a "T" with his hands — nullifying the play.

Folk's second attempt sailed through the uprights and gave the Jets an ugly 23-20 win with 6:04 left in OT.

Even if you aren't a Jets fan, you had to like the karma of the whole thing.


"I thought it was the right call," said Philbin, the rookie head coach. "I was planning it all along to call timeout right before he kicked the ball.  I really had no reaction whatsoever on that.  I knew that was the plan, that was the thing to do, and we did it."

The Jets themselves called an icing timeout five minutes earlier when Miami's kicker Dan Carpenter lined up for a game-winning 47-yarder and he missed.

The Dolphins looked dazed after they had — and blew — two chances to win the game in overtime.

"You never see that happen," said Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.  "I've never even heard of that happening before.  It wasn't meant to be."

Hard Knocks continues for the Dolphins.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nets dancers unveil new black leather look

If you thought the new plain black uniforms of the Brooklyn Nets were intimidating wait until you get a look at the Brooklynette dancers' outfits.

The dancers' pompoms and and colorful pleated skirts have been replaced by studded fingerless gloves and black faux-leather shorts.  The sexy, but scary, outfits look like they could have been designed by Gemma from the "Sons of Anarchy."  The only thing missing is gang colors on the back.

If the Nets get beat, maybe the other team better watch their own when they leave the Barclays Center.

"The uniforms are feminine and strong," said the costumes' designer, David Dalrymple, who has worked with fashion icon Patricia Field, collaborating on outfits for "Sex and the City and "The Devil Wears Prada."

"This isn't palm trees and sunshine.  It's New York City, and it's Brooklyn.  It's a different sensibility.  We go hard," he said.

Dalrymple designed the more traditional red and blue costumes of the Nets when they were in New Jersey.

The Brooklynettes collection consists of seven full costumes.

"They have a jumpsuit, a neoprene scuba blazer, with sequin leggings, a little cropped warm-up jacket and painted sequin leggings," said Dalrymple.

It sounds like the Nets are trying to lure that "50 Shades of Grey" crowd — and a few Olivia "Let's Get Physical" Newton-John fans —  over to Brooklyn.

"For these costumes, we needed things that these women can dance and move in, but we wanted to bring in street elements," he added.  "We needed to find that bridge of street fashion that can actually work on the court."

As an added bonus, the women won't even have to change if they decide to catch an Oakland Raiders game.

Yankees pinch-runner misses third base and almost loses game in major league debut

In a 14-inning game that lasted nearly six hours, Joe Girardi put everything in the hands — more specifically the feet — of a rookie pinch-runner who, on what should have been a game-winning hit,  missed third base and almost cost the New York Yankees a win in the craziest game of the season.

Melky Mesa's base-running fail almost cost the Yankees a game that could have turned an improbable comeback against the Oakland A's into an ugly loss — all in his major league debut.

Mesa, stood at second base with the score tied at 9-9 when Alex Rodriguez slapped what looked like the game-winning hit through the infield.  Mesa went to round third but missed the bag by about a foot but the rookie had the sense to turn back and get back to the base.

After his Yankee teammates leaped out of the dugout with their arms raised in victory and A-Rod clapping his hands thinking he had the game-winning hit, Mesa sheepishly stood at third base when they all realized the game wasn't over because of his flub.  That 12 inches probably felt like a mile to the kid.

Luckily, for the Yankee, Girardi can file this base running gaffe under "W" for We can laugh about it now thanks to the generosity of the A's defense.  Mesa was thrown out in a force at home plate in the next at bat, but A's first baseman Brandon Moss failed to handle Eduardo Nunez's two-out grounder allowing Ichiro Suzuki to score for the Yankees 10-9 win.


It was the wildest game of a normally eventful New York Yankees campaign.  The fans who toughed out the marathon contest were treated to everything from missed calls at first, collisions at home plate, comebacks by both teams and finally the dramatic moment that could have defined the 25-year old Mesa's Yankee career.

Luckily for the embarrassed rookie, the Yankees won and Mesa even got the ultimate form of Yankees absolution — a hug from Derek Jeter.

After the game, Girardi smoothed things over by praising Mesa for having the sense to get back to third base and not getting tagged out.

"That would have been a tough one for the kid to swallow," Girardi said of Mesa.  "A lot of the guys gave him hugs.  We told him keep your head up.

"It just happened in his debut.  He won't forget it."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Justin Tuck leads Roll Call with Bleacher Creatures

It looked like Justin Tuck was still celebrating Thursday night's big win over the Carolina Panthers and brought some of that cheer out to the bleachers in Yankee Stadium Friday night.

The New York Giants defensive end  is a big Yankees fan and had a little time to kill before the Giants next game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  Tuck was spotted hanging out with Bald Vinny and the rest of the Bleacher Creatures in section 203 before the game against the Oakland A's.

Tuck, wearing pinstripes,  even got to lead the Creatures in calling out the pre-game Yankees Roll Call.

"It's something I think every Yankee fan should experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it," said Tuck.

The All-Pro Tuck got to see the Yankees own version of a victory formation.  Russell Martin's walk-off solo home run in the 10th inning gave the home team a 2-1 win.

Jeter calls talk of leaving Yankees 'comical'

Derek Jeter isn't going anywhere — that is unless the New York Yankees organization isn't prepared to whip out its wallet and pay the Yankee-for-life.

Last night Jeter clarified comments he made about leaving the Yankees a day after stories surfaced about that possibility when his contract expires after the 2013 season.

In an interview with ESPN's Rick Reilly, Jeter was asked, "Peyton Manning changed teams this season after 14 seasons with one team.  Could you see yourself doing that?"

Jeter responded," Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes.  It's a business.  People forget that."

The Captain's simple answer set off a maelstrom of panic in the Yankee Universe.  What did he mean by that?  Is he leaving?  Is he retiring?

Jeter set the record straight Friday night before playing the Oakland A's at Yankee Stadium and put his fans at ease.

"I'll tell you what went down. I was asked about Peyton Manning, going from Indianapolis to Denver," Jeter told reporters.  "The question was in reference to if the organization doesn't want you around anymore, do you still want to play?  You have no choice but to go to another team, I think it's common sense.  I'm glad you guys had fun with it.  It was about Peyton Manning.

"I think it's comical that we're talking about it after I told you guys time and time again, I can't picture myself playing anywhere else, have fun with it.  It's a business; there are two sides to a business, that's what the reference was.

"I've been asked this question 100 times and I told you guys the same thing."

Asked again if he wants to finish his career wearing pinstripes Jeter said," That's what I told you my whole focus has been since Day 1 so why are we even talking about it?  I think its comical after I've been pretty vocal every time [I've been] asked the same question.  It's eve more amusing that we're talking about it now."

Are the contentious negotiations with the Yankees before the 2011 season still a sore spot with Jeter?

"Come on now," said Jeter.  "There was joking around the whole interview.  It's not really a big deal.  Have fun with it as much as you like.  I understand I was on the front page, back page.  Then you guys wonder why I don't tell you anything.  I don't answer any questions because something like this happens."

The 38-year old Jeter, who extended his hitting streak to 15 last night, is swinging the bat like he was a decade ago.  By the end of this season, he should only be about 700 hits short of his quest for 4,000.

Don't expect Jeter to pass anymore milestones wearing anything but pinstripes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ichiro gets a hit when ball goes down pitcher's shirt

Ichiro Suzuki has been on a tear lately but even the streaking Yankees outfielder couldn't foresee himself getting a hit this way —  a routine come-backer to the mound going down the opposing  pitcher's shirt.

Oakland A's righthander Jarrod Parker was the unlucky recipient of Ichiro's third-inning grounder and, when he couldn't get the ball out of his shirt, the Yankees hitter had his 10th hit in his last 13 at-bats.

It looked like Parker was trying to unbutton his uniform to get at the ball and, under the rules if he was quick enough, Parker could have run over to first base and touched the bag for the out.


Ichiro's bizarre hit kept his average at around .330 since he came over to the Yankees.

The home plate umpire confiscated the ball after the play.

Bruce Springsteen's daughter, Jessica, buys medal-winning show horse

Bruce Springsteen's daughter has bought a gold medal-winning horse from the London Olympics with hopes of her own glory days by competing for the United States in showjumping at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

And baby, this horse was born to run and jump.

Olympic gold medallist Peter Charles' horse Murka's Vindicat W has been sold to 20-year old Jessica, the daughter of the rock star for an undisclosed price.  Charles rode the horse in a jump-off to clinch the Olympic team title for Britain last month.

The 10-year old gelding,  who also goes by the Jersey-sounding nickname "Vinnie," probably won't be sprung from cages out on highway 9 or graze anywhere near the swamps of Jersey though.

On his Facebook page, Charles posted, " I wish Jessica the best of luck with him and I'm sure he will make her proud."

Springsteen, an American international showjumper, started riding at age 5 and missed the cut for the U.S. equestrian team for London.

She represented the U.S. on the Young Rider Tour of Europe last summer.

It's no surprise that Jessica and her famous dad are part of the horsey set.  After all, the Boss did get his start at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

Bart Scott nearly comes to blows with reporter in locker room

The strained relationship Bart Scott has with the media took a bizarre turn for the worst Friday.

The New York Jets linebacker reportedly was prepared to lay out New York Post reporter Dan Leberfeld after he angered Scott by taking a photo of him with his cell phone.

Right before the near-scuffle, Scott was reportedly talking to an ESPN reporter and Leberfeld took the snapshot to mockingly "document" the moment, according to Bart Hubbuch, who provided the nearly blow-by-blow account  via Twitter.

Scott then told Leberfeld "to get a life."  Tensions escalated and Scott threatened to punch Leberfeld, who responded by saying, "Yeah, I'll sue you!"

According to Hubbuch, Scott said, "I don't care," but Jets PR rep Bruce Speight stepped in and used two hands to restrain Scott while calling for help from other Jets staffers.

Scott has long feuded with the media, blaming it for the circus-like atmosphere that seems to follow the team around.  Scott holds reporters in such disdain, he declared a "media mutiny" after the Jets win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1.  What he really meant to call it was a media boycott, but they got the point until this episode.

It sounds like this heated exchange was already a pot ready to boil over and, if Leberfeld was trying to get a rise out of Scott, he got it.

Leberfeld reportedly took a photo of Scott without a shirt Wednesday which got the surly linebacker yelling profanities at the reporter from across the locker room.  The next day media members complained that Scott blasted his music so loud they couldn't interview other players.

Looks like the circus is back in town.

Shamed Cam Newton won't give Giants credit for Panthers loss

Cam Newton faced the media — after Thursday night's 36-7 blowout of his Carolina Panthers by the New York Giants — and, with closed eyes and bowed head, he apologized to the Carolina fans for the his team's lousy performance.

At the same time, Newton didn't exactly give the Giants defense much credit for the rout.

The second-year quarterback finished the game with three interceptions and completed only 16-of-30 passes.  Yet, he still thinks it had to do more with the Panthers than the Giants preparation and execution.

"It was nothing they did; it was all on us," said Newton.  "Of course, they have elite defensive linemen and elite players on their defense, but it wasn't so much what they did as what we didn't do."



Whatever the reason Newton thinks the Panthers were beaten like a Grand Canyon mule, he admitted it was embarrassing.

"Who wants to support something that puts on a performance of embarrassment?  If I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers, I would be holding my head down in shame of the product that was out there today."

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wasn't as gloomy as his quarterback — nor as uncomplimentary.  He conceded that the Giants outperformed his team from top to bottom.

"They were the better  football team.  That's then truth of the matter," said Rivera.  "They out-coached us and out-played us.  That's the bottom line.  We came out, we didn't execute well.  Then we self-destructed in a couple of different ways.  You can't do that against a very good football team.  That's who we played — a very good football team."

Exonerated football player gets signed by UFL team

It's been a long road that Brian Banks has been following in his quest to become an NFL player.  Banks — who went from high school football standout to falsely-accused suspect to prison inmate — has now signed a pro football contract with the Las Vegas Locos of the United Football League.  The team announced the move with a beaming Banks at a press conference Wednesday.

Falsely accused of rape at age 16, the high school linebacker spent five years in prison and another five years on probation before he was exonerated in May after his accuser recanted her story.


Banks, who lost 50 pounds and almost all hope for a pro football career while he sat in a prison cell, received interest from  several pro teams when he was released — including Pete Carroll who received a verbal commitment from Banks 10 years earlier when he was the coach at USC.  Carroll invited his old prospect up to his Seattle Seahawks camp to workout.  Other NFL teams interested in giving Banks his shot were the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins.

The 27-year old rookie attended some summer minicamps and the list of suitors was impressive — but 10 years of hardship had taken its toll.  Banks went back to Los Angeles and kept working out and waited.

The consensus among Carroll's people was that Banks exceeded all expectations considering the circumstances.

"Size-wise, strength-wise, and all that kind of stuff, he's in the right kind of profile," said Carroll.

Banks went away without an NFL contract but signing with the UFL is a step in the right direction. There is talk in Seattle of Banks hooking up with an NFL practice squad in midseason.

"Does he look like a ballplayer? Yes. Does he move well? Yes. Is there a chance? Absolutely," said Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.. "I liked the first impression he left."

It's impossible to root against this guy.