I Want Real Sports News to Return to Sports News

MIKE on Sports BadgeI want real sports news to return to sports news.

Sounds like an odd statement. But, in light of this week’s sports headlines, my plea makes perfect sense.

If you’re a diehard sports fan like me, you probably check your Twitter feed and log onto your favorite sports site before taking your first sip of morning coffee.

We’re eager to be updated on standings, teased with current trade rumors and educated by coaches’ moves or players’ decisions. We covet the very latest on our favorite NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS or NCAA college team.

However, what we don’t want is to be inundated by the seemingly endless information emanating from police blotters, court records and league disciplinary hearings that have dominated sports news this past week.

I say it’s time for something else.

Instead of reading reviling media reports of NFL players like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray McDonald and Greg Hardy belting their wives, sons and pregnant fiancés, I want to relish in stories about Major League Baseball’s Beltway franchises battering their opponents on their way to division pennant races.

Instead of being disgusted with NBA news about another team management’s callous views on race, I want to be overwhelmed by ultra-competitive playoff races.

Instead of being sullied, yet again, by the immature, irresponsible and insensitive tomfoolery of Florida State University’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, I want to be immersed in the best of NCAA football.

Instead of being appalled by a petulant, potty-mouthed diva whose song was snubbed by CBS Sports’ Thursday Night Football (in lieu of a needed dialogue surrounding our nation’s unspoken scourge of domestic violence) that voiced her off-put remarks with 37 million of her Twitter followers, I want to be entertained by the song, pageantry and excitement of big time sports events.

Instead of reading whether an upstate New York grand jury will indict NASCAR great Tony Stewart and force him to stand trial, I want to witness an athlete’s trial by fire on the field.

Instead of learning about another athlete’s personal fall, but I want to read about events like the Fall Classic.

Instead of cringing at the latest player’s episode of physical abuse exercised in his personal life, I want to know that a player’s last best hit was inflicted upon a competitor on the field.

Instead of reviewing videos of court room arguments, I want to see indisputable video evidence applying to the latest NFL games.

Instead of reading about drug and alcohol arrests, I want to be intoxicated by mesmerizing plays and last second scores.

In a word, I want real sports news to return to sports news.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Heisman Winning QB Tim Tebow Scores Big in GMA Debut

heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow

QB Tim Tebow

Heisman winning QB Tim Tebow scored big yesterday as he made his first appearance on Good Morning America – the nation’s top morning news show – as host of a new Motivate Me Monday series.

Though Tebow didn’t “motivate” studio hosts Robin Roberts and George Stephanopolous enough yet to have them “Tebowing” on set, the former Denver Broncos, New York Jets and New England Patriots QB’s debut was far smoother than naysayers expected. As a matter of fact, he demonstrated himself to be a natural.

An ESPN and SEC Network college football analyst, Tebow seemed totally at ease on camera. The former Florida Gator may not be the most articulate athlete to hold a mic on camera, but he fluidly walked into his new, surprising television gig.

Tebow’s 15 minute segment, in which he interviewed 10-year double amputee Deven Jackson, revealed the former NFL QB’s maturity as an interviewer and compassion as an individual.

The trustworthy Tebow seems to be the perfect choice for GMA’s new Monday segment that highlights stories of personal triumph. Ol’ #15 comes across as genuine on camera with a fresh, unscripted delivery.

Though I’m personally not a fan of morning talk shows, I’m motivated, pun intended, to tune into to Tebow in one of the coming weeks.

Last week, Good Morning America’s ratings topped all other competitors and emerged as the number one morning program with 5.36 million television viewers and 17 million on Yahoo.

With Tebow now a part of the team, expect GMA to continue holding that number one ratings spot.

However, don’t expect fellow ESPN football talking heads like Merrill Hoge, Stephen A. Smith, Tom Jackson and others to be “motivated” enough to watch Tebow on camera.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Monday Sports Monologue: Wrigley Field Ivy

MIKE Small Circular BadgeMention Wrigley Field and references to ivy will immediately follow.

Watching a game here will top every baseball fan’s bucket list.

The iconic venue ranks among the most legendary locations in all of sports.

Its cherished reputation softens fans’ frustrations over the losing ways of the franchise that plays there.

Mentioned in the same breath as Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field is a must visit for every baseball fan in America.

Sitting in the famed bleachers, noshing on a grilled brat and admiring the ivy planted on a Major League Baseball field comprises the ultimate experience for baseball loving fans.

Listen to my Monday Sports Monologue on the ivy at Wrigley Field and start your work week with some clever sports humor.

Planted in 1937 at the behest of Chicago Cubs’s General Manager Bill Veeck, the combination of Boston ivy and Japanese bittersweet has withstood harsh Chicago winters for nearly a century.

Click on the yellow cover below to hear.

MIKE Reporting on Sports!Even though the Cubbies haven’t won a World Series title since 1905, Wrigley remains a beloved destination for Chicagoans. Overflowing with baseball history, Wrigley lore is legendary.

On October 1, 1932 Babe Ruth purportedly pointed to the outfield stands and called a home run shot.

On August 8, 1988 lights finally got turned on for a night game.

Oct. 1, 1969 the Cubs fell to the New York Mets 6-5. It was their 18th loss in 30 days, as their 9 and 1/2-game lead over the Mets on Aug.19 turned into an eight-game deficit. History views it as one of the most significant collapses in pro sports.

Oct. 14, 2003 With the Cubs leading 3-0 and five outs from their first World Series in 58 years, Moises Alou fails to catch a ball hit just into the stands down the left-field line. Among the spectators attempting to snag the souvenir is loyal Cubs fan Steve Bartman. The team seemingly comes apart for the rest of the game, allowing the Florida Marlins to score eight unanswered runs. No pennant for the Cubs that year. The Cubs have reached the postseason twice since, getting swept in the NL Division Series in 2007 and ’08.

Thanks for the memories.

And, may your loyal fans enjoy their beloved park today on its 100th anniversary and not have to “wait ‘til next year” as the clever Chicago Cubs’ jingle goes.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!baseball footer

 

Players Association Agrees on New NFL Drug Policy

Late last week, the NFL Players Association announced that its players voted to agree upon a new NFL drug policy.

According to Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer of NFL Media, the revamped NFL drug policy will allow HGH testing in the 2014 season.

The new NFL drug policy will also raise the existing threshold for marijuana violations and evaluate first time off-season amphetamine usage under the league’s Substances of Abuse policy.

The NFL Players Association new drug policy affords some reprieve to previously suspended NFL players like Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos, Orlando Scandrick of the Dallas Cowboys, Josh Gordon f the Cleveland Browns and both Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones of the Miami Dolphins.

However, upon further contemplation of the serious matter of drug testing in sports, I started thinking about the people who’re responsible for drug testing of athletes.

This morning I experienced one of those “aha moments!” I actually laughed aloud when I realized that there are professional careers for those who need to implement the new NFL drug policy.

Plus, purposed professionals in similar roles make certain that swimmers, cyclists, runners and horses aren’t doped up on drugs before they race.

In no way was I looking to minimize the importance of this invaluable practice which protects the integrity of sports. But, I thought closely about the drug testers, thinking, what an interesting career choice.

As I ruminated a bit more, I chuckled. I wondered when that special moment occurred in a young person’s life when he or she decided to pursue a career in sports as a urine tester.

With that thought, I dusted off this one minute animated short that I created a couple years ago about urine testers in sports.

I titled the sophomoric spoof Worst Job in Sports!

You know, fans, saying you’re really swamped at work – or – that you can’t keep your head above water takes on a whole new meaning when your job is that of a urine tester – the worst job in sports!

Yes, a most interesting career choice.

But, thanks to those who do it in order to keep our sports clean.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head in sports!

MIKE on Sports Badge

 

 

Fewer Fans Will Be in Floyd Mayweather’s Corner Tonight

pretty boy floyd

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr

Once undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. enters the ring for tonight’s highly anticipated rematch against Marcos Maidana, he should expect that fewer fans will be in his corner.

The 37 year-old with the usually bumptious bearing found himself back pedaling during a recent pre-fight interview that will more than likely garner new found support for Mayweather’s opponent in tonight’s title bout on Showtime Pay Per View.

Likeable CNN journalism Rachel Nichols jabbed and poked the little 5’7” and 151 lb. fighter normally known for his cocksure demeanor and clever confident retorts.

Without doubt Nichols won her encounter with a very cautious and evasive Mayweather by decision by quizzing him on his personal domestic abuse history.

Per USA Today Sports’ columnist Nick Schwartz, “Floyd Mayweather will put his record on the line Saturday night against Marcos Maidana, who nearly defeated Mayweather four months ago. The emergence of the Ray Rice video and his subsequent suspension from the NFL has put Mayweather’s history of domestic violence issues back in the spotlight. Mayweather was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2011 after pleading guilty to a domestic battery charge. Mayweather was released after serving two of the three months in 2012, and has since been the highest-paid athlete in the world.

Mayweather defended Rice this week, saying “I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households,” and later apologized for his comments. In an interview with CNN, Rachel Nichols asked Mayweather on the issue, and Mayweather did his best to dance around the questions.”

In light of Mayweather’s abusive past abusive with his wife and kids, coupled with this week’s startling video of Ray Rice’s brutal assault and Adrian Peterson’s unnecessary disciplining of his son, expect a chink in Mayweather’s armor.

Could this be Mayweather’s first loss as a pro? Time will shortly tell the outcome of that question.

However, any random poll taken today will reveal that because of the flamboyant fighter’s abusive past, fewer fans will be in his corner.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Boxing Footer

 

Ray Rice Story Opens Door for Domestic Abuse Dialogue

MIKE Small Circular BadgeJust watch television, listen to the radio, read any sports blog or check Twitter.

Former NFL RB Ray Rice’s sickening assault continues to dominate headlines across sports and non-sports media platforms.

And rightfully so!

Even last night, CBS Sports’ James Brown delivered an impassioned Thursday Night Football pre-game speech that both gripped and educated a national television audience.

Brown’s prime time message forced viewers to focus on a topic that has caused far too many of us to not only wince, but also embarrassingly avoid discussing in a public setting.

Brown’s words were a clarion call signaling that it’s now time for the muffled cries of battered women and children to be heard.

His message served as further proof, that because of Rice’s inexcusable actions, the plight of domestic violence in our country must be addressed – strongly, wisely and without impunity.

For all of our nation’s apparent greatness, our society has sadly been exposed for failing to properly protect our women and children from the reprehensible actions of bigger, stronger, angry men.

SafeHorizon reports that as many as three million children witness domestic violence each year and that one in four women will be affected by it during their lifetimes. These statistics are frightening.

In spite of the apparent botched way the NFL has handled the Rice case, former FBI chief Robert Mueller’s new independent investigation will unearth the facts. And, as a result of its public bumbling in this matter, the NFL should emerge as the champion of change in this incredibly important societal issue.

In a hard hitting, spine altering, concussion conscious league, it was evident that Commissioner Roger Goodell originally went soft, very soft in dealing with Rice. He fumbled badly on an agonizing topic that begs for national dialogue.

However, there is good on its way, and it’s a long awaited silver lining powerfully peeking out of the very dark cloud. The unspoken, ugly issue of domestic violence is now seriously being discussed across all levels of society. Remedial action is on the horizon as is the safety of so many whose cries have gone unheard.

Like the league’s annual comprehensive campaign of building awareness about women’s breast cancer, expect the NFL to also mandate education and awareness for the scourge of domestic abuse.

And, going forward, may the sting of Ray Rice’s cowardly knock out punch be metaphorically felt by those who would lift their fists to inflict violence on women and children.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: America’s Team Dallas Cowboys

America's Team

The Dallas Cowboys – The Original America’s team

Today’s #TBT sports blog may painfully seem like NFL ancient history to Dallas Cowboys fans.

Several years have passed since their Cowboys have been to the playoffs. And, not too long ago their fantastic franchise, widely known as America’s Team, was the envy of the NFL.

After all, the Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers were tied with eight Super Bowl appearances, and the Cowboys also held the NFL record for 20 consecutive winning seasons.

Though the Jerry Jones owned franchise is currently America’s highest valued professional sports team at $3.2 Billion, the Dallas Cowboys have experienced their share of criticism for what they’ve done both on and off the field.

However, in spite of Tony Romo’s ill-timed fumbling, Dez Bryant’s incoherent mumbling and Jerry Jones’ irresponsible personal stumbling, it’s good to reminisce in today’s #TBT sports blog with a chapter excerpt from my NFL Favorites sports comic book.

NFL FavoritesEnjoy this quick #TBT trip down memory lane as I recall a little history about what made the Dallas Cowboys America’s Team.

…..I’m certain that calling the Dallas Cowboys’ America’s Team will immediately start a bunch of arguments.

Fans in all sports have their favorite teams.

In basketball, there are as many Los Angeles Lakers lovers as there are Miami Heat diehards.

In soccer, there are legions of FC Barcelona backers and Manchester United faithful.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty doesn’t run much deeper than followers of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

And, in football, New Englanders pay homage to the Patriots, and Cheese Heads in Wisconsin are equally as crazy about their Packers.

However, in spite of a few recent mediocre seasons, the Dallas Cowboys are still known as America’s Team.

Back in 1978, NFL Films innocently referred to the Cowboys as America’s Team. The nickname stuck. The Dallas Cowboys deserved the honor that NFL Films gave them because of their dominance and innovation on the football field.

Most fans loved the team’s exciting offense, stingy defense and colorful players. And, all football fans credit the Cowboys for the new, clever additions they brought to the game.

Legendary coach Tom Landry introduced the more up tempo shot gun offense, pre-snap movements and a swarming flex defense never before seen in the NFL.

The Cowboys were pioneers in the game of football that they dominated for nearly three decades in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

America’s Team won five Super Bowl titles. They also boasted some of the NFL’s greatest stars, like QBs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, RBs Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith, WRs Bob Hayes and Michael Irvin and DEs Ed Too Tall Jones and Randy White.

During recent years the team has not been the dominating force it had been. Many can argue that the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers are more worthy to carry that title.

However, the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s earned the nickname America’s Team because of their unrivaled success.

They also set the standard for great American professional sports franchises.

That’s why the Dallas Cowboys, or America’s Team, lassos the #9 spot in NFL Favorites.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Today in 1988: Steffi Graf’s Tennis Grand Slam

Frauline Forehand Steffi Graf

Former tennis great Steffi Graf

On this day in sports in 1988, German tennis star Steffi Graf became the last female to complete the Grand Slam of Tennis by winning the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.

To commemorate that historic event, I’m sharing a chapter I penned on Frauline Forehand in one of my sports comic books.

Enjoy this “look back” on Steffi Graf, arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of all-time.

…..This statuesque blue-eyed blond burst onto the women’s world tennis scene in Germany in October 1982 at the ripe age of thirteen. She quickly began her dominance of the sport.

That’s why Steffi Graf easily holds service at #3 spot in Favorite Female Athletes.

Favorite Female AthletesIn addition to the poise, athleticism and enduring stamina that she displayed on the tennis court, Graf packed a powerful, precise serve to compliment an equally forceful forehand.

It’s easy to understand why Steffi Graf was labeled with the enviable tennis nickname Frauline Forehand and why sports fans around the globe who admired her knew this German simply as Steffi.

The 5’9” and 130 lb. Graf is arguably the greatest female tennis player ever. A native of Bruhl, Germany, Graf stayed atop the women’s world tennis rankings for an unprecedented 374 consecutive weeks.

In addition to 107 career singles titles, Steffi won an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, Korea in 1988 as well as 22 major tennis tournaments. Her wins included 7 Wimbledon titles, 6 French Open titles, 5 U.S. Open titles and 4 Australian Open titles.

Along with Australian Margaret Court, Graf is the only other female to win all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments in one year. Serena Williams (2002-03) and Martina Navratilova (1983-84) won four consecutive Grand Slam events, but not in the same calendar year.

Unfortunately, ailing knees forced Steffi Graf into an early retirement at age 30; otherwise, she probably would have surpassed both legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in career wins on the women’s professional tennis tour.

Many may now recognize this graceful German beauty today as mother of two, respected Las Vegas socialite and philanthropist and Andre Agassi’s wife.

However, those in the know will always acknowledge Frauline Forehand as the greatest women’s player to ever pick up a tennis racquet.

That’s why this famous female tennis player, simply known as Steffi, deserves the #3 spot in my book Favorite Female Athletes.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

JayZ Should Not Get Free Pass From NFL, MLB and NBA

Jay-ZSince the official launch of Roc Nation Sports in spring 2013, Shawn “JayZ” Cater’s management company has signed an impressive roster of marquee NFL, MLB and NBA athletes.

Stars like the NBA’s Kevin Durant, WNBA’s Skylar Diggans, NFL’s Ndamukong Suh and MLB’s Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia have aligned with JayZ’s agency. They all share the same expectation of signing lucrative, long term contracts and extending personal brands through rich sponsorship deals.

Durant’s stratospheric $275M contract extension with Nike and Cano’s colossal $250M free agent signing with the Seattle Mariners are two examples of JayZ’s emerging clout as a high profile sports businessman.

However, has this hip hop artist been given a free pass in our nation’s sports culture?

Since his first album in 1996, Carter has flexed his recording muscle in ways now reflective of our culture. We as parents, teachers, managers, leaders and even respectable sports fans have quietly allowed JayZ to fill the psyche of our youth with dehumanizing lyrics strung behind catchy music. We’ve acquiesced as the hip hop artist has seeded the minds of young male adults with a warped, perverse attitude concerning women.

And now we’re painfully confronting its outcome.

As a society, we’ve given JayZ and other miscreant musical artists carte blanche to poison our minds and those of our growing sons.

We’ve blindly excused these entertainers, cowardly giving them unfettered access in our culture. Their reward has been whopping sales figures in the name of modern day artistry?

The NFL’s indefinite suspension of Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice and the NBA’s banishment of former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling bring the social question to light. Now that professional sports leagues appear to be shouldering greater social responsibility, should the Roc Nation Sports CEO’s lyrics finally become more closely scrutinized?

Today, JayZ finds himself in the boardrooms of franchise owners and corporate sponsorship giants. As a result, should the NFL, MLB and NBA tolerate JayZ’s past and present wretched rhymes?

Has anyone from the NFL, MLB or NBA offices ever delved into JayZ’s recording history to determine whether his catalog of songs best represent the spirit of their sports? More specifically, do JayZ’s musical messages extol women in a positive light or denigrate women to testosterone-infused men who think of them as meat for their sexual appetites or punching bags for their frustrations?

If pressed to investigate, league executives would likely discover that Carter and his wife Beyonce don’t lullaby their child Blue Ivy to bed each night to lyrics made famous by JayZ, Roc Nation Sports’ CEO.

Certainly, JayZ’s songs are protected by our nation’s constitutional free speech clause. But, given the physical and sexual abuse leveled by pro athletes against an increasing number of their wives and girlfriends, why hasn’t the NFL, MLB or NBA spoken up about the hip hop artist’s misogynistic lyrics?

JayZ may be one of the most successful and wealthiest music artists in the entertainment industry. But, now that he’s also negotiating some of the biggest pro athlete contracts, why aren’t the heads of pro sports leagues giving a questionable glance at JayZ?

If Roger Goodell is sanctioning the player who did the deed, what about glancing backward at the hip hop artist turned super agent whose pervasive rants have indirectly contributed to misbehavior toward women?

Further, JayZ’s Roc Nation enjoys a growing roster of talent. Should we assume then that Kevin Durant, CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, Geno Smith and especially Skylar Diggans condone their agent’s lyrics? Or are they, too, remaining silent about the impossible-to-ignore messaging which devalues women and the bullying behavior of some of our nation’s most popular athletes? Are we celebrating the music and ignoring the consequences of its outworking?

Why haven’t more people acknowledged the downward, guttural pull of lyrics like those of JayZ’s that refer to women as “b#tches” and “h#es” that are referenced in far too many songs.

I’m curious to know. How many JayZ songs did Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice, Charlotte Panthers’ Greg Hardy and San Francisco 49ers’ Ray McDonald have on their playlists? Researching the matter might make for an interesting university sociology study.

Did these athletes choose from rhymes like “That’s My B#tch” from JayZ’s 2011 Watch the Throne album or “2 Many H#es” from his 2002 The Blueprint 2: The Gift and Curse? Or, did they perhaps refer to “Money Cash H#es” from JayZ’s 1998 Hard Knock Life album before lashing out at their wives and girlfriends?

The NFL, MLB and NBA are currently embarking upon a new era of social oversight in managing their hugely successful leagues.

Zero tolerance for domestic violence has rightfully become their collective rallying cry.

Likewise, zero tolerance should be equally applied toward musical artists like JayZ or others with ties to the NFL, MLB and NBA if their songs contain misogynistic lyrics or foster callous, dismissive portrayals of women.

Money, music and sports resonate loudly throughout all sectors of our society. That’s why the growing influence of Roc Nation Sports’ CEO so disturbs me and needs to be addressed.

And, the NFL, MLB and NBA should no longer give JayZ a free pass.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!Basketball footer

 

NFL Week 1: Already “Wait Til Next Year” for Some Fans

MIKE Vintage logoNFL Week 1 officially kicked off this weekend, and for some football fans like me, it’s already time to start singing “wait til next year.”

Because like last year and the year before and even the year before that, I foolishly fell into the same trap.

As a “famished” NFL fan, I’m desperately hungry to root for a winner.

My NFL diet of late has been “feasting” on a local perennial cellar dwellar whose woefully attended home games have regularly been blacked out in our home town television market.

Plus, this same franchise has provided its fans with a revolving door of coaches, recalcitrant players and under performing free agent signings.

As I’ve done in previous years, I started yesterday anew with a fresh outlook on a team budding with possibilities.

Convinced that 2014 would be the breakthrough year for my home town team, I eagerly plopped in front of my big screen television yesterday afternoon only to painfully and quickly witness my football hopes dashed again.

Showcasing a first half of miserable play, my squad wallowed in ineptitude offensively. To make matters worse, my team also struggled defensively against a back-up quarterback who hadn’t played in an NFL game in several years.

By halftime, as I resigned myself to the fact it would be another tough season, my hunger pangs for a winner groaned more loudly.

In spite of its first year, high profile coach at the helm, an upgraded roster and swanky new uniforms, this year’s team was supposed to be better, much better.

But, by every indication in the season opener, it wasn’t.

Poor decision making, ill-timed turnovers and an inability to make a big play at a crucial time in the game proved to me that achieving a .500 record would be a huge stretch.

However, I pledged that I would still support my local guys even though it was extremely evident to me during NFL Week 1 that the playoffs would be a long shot.

Buoyed by the fact that I wasn’t a Cleveland Browns fan or an Oakland Raiders rooter, I basked in the realization that Tampa Bay may be a tough place to cheer on a home town sports team.

But, its beaches are gorgeous, the cost of living is affordable and the weather for most of the year is heavenly.

After turning off yesterday’s game, I ironically found myself borrowing a tune for my Buccaneers that Chicago Cubs fans know too well.

Smiling, I started humming, “Wait ‘til Next Year!”

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Sports Adage: That’s Why We Play the Games!

MIKE on Sports BadgeIn 1965 legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp popularized the famous sports adage, “That’s why we play the games to see who wins.”

Rupp’s basketball quote surprisingly found its way onto the DecoTurf tennis surface of Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday, ringing especially true at this year’s US Open men’s semifinals.

No one predicted #14 seed Marin Cilic’s upset of #2 seed Roger Federer, nor #10 seed Kei Nishikori’s shocking victory over #1 seed Novak Djokovic to reach tomorrow’s finals.

The unexpected Cilic – Nishikori match will mark the first time in 38 major finals in nearly a decade that Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray will not be represented.

Can tomorrow’s US Open men’s final be the harbinger for a changing of the guard in men’s tennis? Only time will tell. Tennis fans will look back a few years from now at the landscape of the men’s game to see whether tomorrow’s final will serve as a bellwether for the sport.

However, it was only a few years ago that the landscapes of other sports were totally different than where sports fans find them today.

In the shocking way tennis fans could not have comprehended both Djokovic and Federer being upset in the US Open semis, football, basketball, baseball, golf and soccer fans have also found themselves incredulous by what has transpired in their sports in recent years.

Without doubt, a Djokovic-less, Federer-less, Nadal-less, Murray-less US Open tennis final is pretty mind boggling.

Well, how about NBA Playoffs without perennial powerhouses Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics?

Or, NFL Playoffs without former Super Bowl winning franchises like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants?

Or, Tiger Woods failing to show up on a leader board or, worse yet, missing the cut at a PGA event?

Or, dominant cyclist Lance Armstrong not being allowed on a bike again in a sanctioned race?

Or, the most decorated Olympian ever Michael Phelps failing to qualify for a swimming race?

Or, favored Brazil getting walloped 7 – 1 by eventual champion Germany on its home pitch in this summer’s FIFA World Cup?

Or, Spain, the 2010 World Cup champion, failing to advance from group stage in this summer’s tournament?

Or, recent World Series entrants like the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox falling so fast from the Fall Classic to bottom of their respective MLB divisions in just a few years?

Yes, a Cilic – Nishikori finals in the grandest tennis event on the tour is as unexpected as it is fabulous.

The US Open finals pairing is also as improbable as the Butler Bulldogs advancing to back-to-back NCAA basketball championship games, the Curse of the Bambino being lifted in Boston, Appalachian State beating Michigan in the Big House, the Miracle on Ice in the 1980 Winter Olympics and innumerable other upsets across all levels and types of sport.

And, that’s why Adolph Rupp’s famous sports adage is equally as applicable today as when he originally coined it in 1965.

Yes, coach, “That’s why we play the games.”

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

Is Serena Williams the Greatest Female Athlete Ever?

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams

Tennis star Serena Williams

In her recent USA Today Sports’ column, Christine Brennan raises the question whether tennis star Serena Williams should be considered the greatest female athlete ever with a win tomorrow in the US Open finals in New York.

I’m curious what other sports fans think about Brenna’s bold proclamation about this remarkable athlete and top prize earner (male or female) ever in the sport of tennis.

Does she deserve the regal title of greatest female athlete ever?

However, before we rush to crown her queen over all other female athletes throughout the ages, check out my sports comic book detailing my all-time Favorite Female Athletes. It’s available for download on Amazon for only 99 cents.

Serena and her tennis exploits may be featured in chapter 8, but there are plenty more extraordinary ladies who are equally worthy of ours and Christine Brennan’s consideration when determining who should be labelled the greatest female athlete ever.

Favorite Female AthletesIn addition to Williams’ brilliant career, I chronicle other incredible athletes like soccer’s Marta and Mia Hamm, track and field’s Flying Housewife and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, basketball’s Lisa Leslie as well as the Mother of Gymnastics Olga Korbut and arguably the greatest female boxer ever, undefeated Laila Ali.

Per Brennan’s brilliant essay today, Serena makes a compelling case as perhaps the best women’s tennis player ever.

However, the aforementioned ladies all boast decorated careers and their fans may want to challenge Brennan’s bold assertion.

Certainly, Serena Williams is to be rightfully recognized for her exceptional tennis career.

However, tomorrow’s other US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki will speak loudly with her racquet tomorrow as the two square off at center court of Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

And, should Williams prevail and capture her 6th US Open title, Brennan’s brazen statement may resonate so loudly that even loyal fans of other great females in other sports may also agree.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

 

On This Day in 1960: Muhammad Ali Wins Olympic Gold

Formerly Cassius Clay

Former Heavyweight Champ Muhammad Ali

On this day, September 5, 1960, sports history was made at the XVII Olympic Games in Rome.

Cassius Marcellus Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali, won the gold medal in boxing’s light heavyweight division by defeating Zbigniew Pietrzykowski from Poland.

The victory helped catapult Clay in a career where he would eventually become an international sports superstar as well as controversial cultural figure here in the United States.

In Rome, the 18 year-old teenager from Louisville, KY Clay unwittingly captured another title outside the ropes. Because of his magnetic personality, Clay became known as the Mayor of the Olympic Village.

Clay’s outgoing personality was equally on display in Italy as his incredible speed and agility in the ring.

All sports fans surmised that the loquacious and gifted boxer was destined for greatness. However, few knew the overall magnitude of the boxing success, polarizing publicity and iconic celebrity that would eventually envelop him.

54 years later, I remember one of the sports world’s most recognized figures today by sharing this chapter excerpt, simply called Ali, from my sports comic entitled Favorite Single Named Athletes.

Favorite Single Named AthletesEnjoy the read…..

The Greatest, The People’s Champ, Mr. Phantom Punch and The Louisville Lip are several nicknames that Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. acquired during his time as a professional boxer.

But, when people hear the name Ali, there is only one man who comes to mind. Appropriately, he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee into the #11 spot in Favorite Single Named Athletes.

Muhammad Ali, as he became known later in his career, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. A local cop named Joe Martin introduced him to boxing. After Clay Jr. reported his bike stolen, Martin recommended that he learn to box to guarantee that no one would ever mess with him again. Few did.

Ali’s unique boxing style made him an extremely tough opponent to face. Known as a headhunter boxer, Ali rarely executed body shots. He intentionally made every hit count in his favor by looking for the opportunity to get a clean shot at his opponents’ heads.

Also, his movement inside the ring and style of boxing were quickly dubbed the Ali Shuffle. Those watching him fight compared his motions to that of a dancer. He adopted this fast-paced style as a kid and continued to develop his technique as his boxing career evolved.

By age 18, Ali had collected six Kentucky Golden Gloves and two National Golden Gloves. He also gained a great deal of exposure by winning two National AAU Titles Matches.

In 1960, the 18-year old Cassius competed in the Olympic Games in Rome and won the gold medal. He proved to his fans and the world at large that he was young, talented and spirited. People instantly fell in love with his athleticism, bold style of boxing and, of course, his mouth. During a time when boxers seldom spoke with reporters, Ali made it a point to engage with the media.

While Ali was training for his fight against Sonny Liston, he met a Nation of Islam minister by the name of Cap’n Sam. Cap’n Sam introduced Ali to Nation of Islam Spokesman Malcolm X and the two became instant friends. Ali was so impacted by his friendship with Malcolm X, he credited his upset victory over Sonny Liston to the support and guidance of the Nation of Islam.

By beating Liston, Ali was named the 1964 Heavyweight Champion of the World. Directly following his winning match, he publicly announced his decision to join the Nation of Islam. Soon after, he legally changed his name to Muhammad Ali. The name change honored his commitment to the Nation of Islam and Ali demanded others recognize him by his new name.

In 1967, Ali refused to join the Armed Forces and aid in the United States’ efforts in the Vietnam War. By doing so, Ali received a great deal of attention, not in the most positive light. He strongly believed that fighting in war directly opposed his religious beliefs.

In true Ali fashion, he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He competed in a handful of fights following his public disapproval to join the war. Shortly after, most states chose to revoke his boxing license and he took a hiatus from the sport.

During the boxer’s 3½ year break from boxing, he traveled the nation speaking out against war. He quickly emerged as a national figure. He was the first famous athlete of his generation to raise such a topic publicly.

Finally, as the country was beginning to change, Ali sought to stage his comeback. The first fight following his exile was tough. While the people saw some aspects of their former champ, they also recognized he had lost some of his former speed and fluidity.

Just when the people were beginning to lose hope, Ali announced the biggest fight of his career that he called The Rumble in the Jungle. This highly anticipated matchup against defending Heavyweight Champion George Foreman was set to take place in Africa.

Ali was smart. He knew his Ali Shuffle would tire him quickly. He couldn’t afford to dance in that heat. Therefore, Ali developed a new method called The Rope-A-Dope. Ali submitted to allowing Foreman to beat up on him for seven rounds, causing Foreman to exhaust. In the 8th round Ali came off the ropes and scored a knock out. By defeating Foreman, Ali found himself back on top in the #1 spot.

Ali concluded his career with an overall record of 56 wins and 5 defeats. 37 of his 56 wins were won by knockout! He fought to obtain the crown three different times during his professional career, a feat that that had never been accomplished before that time.

Ali has earned many honors and has been recognized for his athleticism and overall contributions to the sport. Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year. The BBC honored him as its Sports Personality of the Century. Even GQ Magazine recognized him as Athlete of the Century.

There’s no surprise why Ali is a real knock out at #11 in Favorite Single Named Athletesavailable for only 99 cents on Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Boxing Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: The Galloping Ghost Red Grange

Fomer Illinois running back Red Grange

Red Grange The Galloping Ghost

My #TBT sports blog features an incomparable running back and kick returner with a fantastic nickname. ESPN.com called The Galloping Ghost Red Grange the greatest college football player ever.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from my sports comic book NCAA Football Favorites that honors this incredible athlete.

MIKE NCAA Football Comic CoverA Chicago sportswriter first called Red Grange The Galloping Ghost.

The name was given because of Grange’s race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11″ and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football. Against their fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football. Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

The Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927.

The highlight of #77′s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s #TBT sports blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Though Red Grange passed away in 1991, ESPN honored his memory in 2008 by voting Grange the best college football player of all time.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NHL Star Sidney Crosby NOT Arrested

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby

Canadian hockey star Sidney Crosby

NHL superstar Sidney Crosby was NOT arrested last night in Canada.

However, conflicting Canadian media reports about the Pittsburgh Penguin’s arrest are currently being sorted out.

The Ottawa Sun initially reported that the NHL star was being finger printed and photographed for a mug shot by Ottawa Police on driving-related charges late Tuesday.

AM980 Sports Talk Radio in London, Ontario referenced the Ottawa Sun when breaking the news to its listeners. However, the Ottawa Sun has removed the article from its site.

Another media outlet, The Chronicle Herald News, reported a different take on the story this morning and quoted Sgt. Steve Hodgson of the Ottawa Police who called the report untrue.

“This is a total, out-and-out blatant lie, as far as I know,” Hodgson said on Wednesday at about 6:20 a.m.

While the Canadian press sorts out the facts of the story, sports fans can enjoy a chapter excerpt from my Hockey Favorites sports comic book about the remarkable Crosby – cleverly known in hockey circles as The Next One. The book is available for 99 cents on Amazon.

Hockey favorites…..A Pittsburg Penguins center jumps into my #8 spot of Hockey Favorites for everything he accomplished before his 25th birthday.

Wayne Gretzky’s incomparable play during his dazzling NHL career easily warranted his being referred to as The Great One.

However, another Canadian named Sidney Crosby, whose hockey brilliance at a young age has been regularly compared to Gretzky’s, birthed the clever nickname The Next One.

The number one overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, this 5’11’ and 200 lb. Nova Scotia native has excelled at every level of hockey in his young life. Once he turned professional, this 2005 World Junior Hockey Champion made an immediate impact on the sport.

Crosby followed a stellar rookie season in 2005-06 with a spectacular campaign in 2006-07. In addition to winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL Most Valuable Player in 2007, Sid the Kid also won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. By winning the Ross trophy at age 20, Crosby became the youngest player ever in any North American professional sport to win a scoring title.

The fast and physical Crosby guided the Penguins to the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship over the Detroit Red Wings and became the youngest NHL team captain ever do so.

The Sporting News selected him as their top athlete under age 25. It came as no surprise that the then 23-year-old Crosby led Canada to the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver when he scored the winning goal in overtime.

A four-time ESPY Award winner for best NHL player, Sidney Crosby also signed the most lucrative endorsement deal in NHL history with Reebok.

It’s no wonder why www.JockBio.com describes Crosby, “one part Gretzky, one part Howe and several parts Lemieux.”

Sidney Crosby is one great hockey player at any age.

Hockey fans remain eager to see the next great accomplishment on the ice from this amazing talent on skates known as The Next One!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

US Open Women’s Tennis: A Very Loud Sport!

loud groans in women's tennis

Grunting in Tennis

Until I watched coverage of the US Open Women’s Tennis action last night, I never thought tennis was such an obnoxiously loud sport.

I always thought tennis, especially professional women’s tennis, was dignified, cultured and relatively quiet with polite clapping for pretty pony-tailed girls sporting shapely short skirts.

Well, that’s NOT the tennis I experienced while watching a couple pretty girls square off against each other at the US Open.

The normally distracting drone of JFK jets overhead couldn’t drown out the irritating racket on the court below.

My only expectation of noise at a tennis match was the bop of the ball off the racquet or the squeak of sneaks on the hard true surface. But, I never anticipated the unanticipated grating, grunting and groaning of a statuesque Russian blond careening around the court.

Witnessing Victoria Azarenka methodically manage her match sounded like a wounded deer extricating itself from a bear trap. Oddly, every serve seemed like the Belarusian’s last.

Grunting doesn’t add another 25 mph to your serve and doesn’t perfectly place a return volley. I’m happy with the WTA’s plan to levy fines on any volleying vixen who punishes her opponents and fans alike with gruesome grunts and groans instead of exemplary play.

I’m all for cheering on pretty pony-tailed girls sporting shapely short skirts, but let me be clear that the grunting’s gotta go in tennis!

That’s why grunting in tennis starts my FREE sports comic book title Worst About Sports

FREE Worst About SportsClick on the yellow cover to safely download Worst About Sports!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

Labor Day: Honoring “Hardest Working College Mascots”

MIKE on Sports BadgeAs we officially celebrate Labor Day, I think it’s only fitting that we recognize the “hardest working mascots” in college sports.

With noses constantly kept toward the grindstone, these “laboring” university and college  mascots just don’t get the credit they deserve for the sweat, toil and labor that their clever nicknames represent.

 

Often overlooked by sexier sounding animal, weather and spiritually themed mascots of the super-conference schools, my top 10 under-the-radar favorites for “hardest working mascots” in college sports need to kick back and relax today.

And, here are my picks:

10. Lumberjacks – Stephen A. Austin, Humboldt State and Northern Arizona share the name of this rugged moniker honoring this industrious, noble forestry profession. A very neat nickname!

9. Miners – University of Texas at El Paso brings awareness to the dangerous, drudging career of digging for gold, copper, coal and other minerals beneath the surface of the earth. Talk about guys with calluses on their hands and dirt under their fingernails!

8. Mules – everyone knows that the mule is one of the hardest working beasts of burden on the planet. Let’s give a big shout out to both Muhlenberg College and Central Missouri University who proudly wear Mules on their uniforms. Careful not to stand behind one of the guys who really like to kick.

7. Trailblazers – Vincennes College honors the trailblazing spirit and incredible work ethic of those early Americans who defied odds and courageously settled the west by forging paths or trails that had never been blazed before. Onward ho!

6. Beavers – Oregon State University perfectly personifies the “busy as a beaver” work ethic as it competes against more recognized and established athletic programs in the highly competitive Pac 12 Conference. Yup, beavers work “damn” hard!

5. 49ers – Long Beach State University brandishes the 49ers name on their uniforms with the same unbridled enthusiasm as the tireless prospectors from the California Gold Rush that began in 1849.

4. Leathernecks – just the name alone of Western Illinois University screams of endless hours doing manual labor in the torrid sun while warding off sand blowing in your face and on your exposed neck without the benefit of a hat or sunscreen.

3. Engineers – MIT, RPI and Lehigh University may graduate some of the most brilliant minds in our country, but they also challenge students with an incredibly rigged curriculum that keeps them burning the midnight oil at all times of the school year.

2. Huskies – Uconn may be the most recognized of many schools that proudly showcase Huskies, arguably the hardest working dog breed and the main participants in the annual 10+ day and 1,100+ mile Iditarod Dog Race in Alaska. Now, that’s a busy work week!

1. The Fighting Pickles – Yes, this is the actual nickname of the school mascot at North Carolina School of Arts. The number one spot on my list goes to The Fighting Pickle and the school’s students because I’m certain the mascot, along with the entire student body, works hard every day of the year to fight off the snickers and barbs associated with its rather odd nickname. Ouch!

If I missed a “hard working nickname or mascot” that you think should have made my list, email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com.

There may be a follow-up list sooner than I think.

In the meantime, enjoy Labor Day!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

NBA TV Doc “Wilt 100″ on Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain NBA

NBA great Wilt Chamberlain

While enjoying a restful Labor Day Weekend flipping channels from the comfort of my couch, I stumbled upon the terrific March 2012 NBA TV doc Wilt 100 about the late Wilt Chamberlain.

Immediately, the diehard basketball fan in me became restless on a weekend devoted to rest. I thought it sacrilegious that I had never watched the tale until today.

Then, I spent the remainder of the early afternoon captivated by a film that chronicled Wilt Chamberlain’s historic night in Hershey, PA when he set the NBA record by scoring an incredible 100 points.

I thought the timing of my tuning into this excellent film was rather unique because I just recently published a sports comic book and devote an entire chapter to Chamberlain’s amazing accomplishment.

Here’s an excerpt from Favorite BIG Things in Sports about the Big Dipper, Big Unit, Big Fella, Big Appliance, Big Wall and other big things in the world of sports…..

Book 13 - Favorite BIG Things in Sports…..Few athletes so totally dominate a sport that their professional league must enact rule changes to make the games fair for the other 99.9% of the players.

Wilton Norman Chamberlain, simply known as Wilt, so altered NBA games that the league instituted new rules.

Today’s wider lane in the NBA and goal tending penalties were imposed because my #6 choice in Favorite Big Things in Sports vanquished all opposing basketball players.

Wilt overpowered basketball opponents whenever he stepped onto the hardwood. The 7’1″ and 260 lb. player effortlessly prevailed over all smaller, less physically gifted competitors. His towering size, strength, scoring ability and stamina empowered him to become the greatest player the NBA ever witnessed when he entered the league in 1959.

Wilt unanimously earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1960 for posting remarkable numbers of 37 points per game (a league best) and 27 rebounds per game. He continued his scoring assault on the NBA by leading the league in scoring for the six consecutive years.

Also known as The Big Dipper, Wilt the Stilt and Goliath, Wilt reigned as an unstoppable force in the pivot – in spite of being regularly double and triple teamed during games.

This Philadelphia native and University of Kansas product now ranks as one of the NBA’s top 50 players ever. A 1978 NBA Hall of Fame inductee, Wilt’s gaudy NBA resume includes 13 All-Star selections, 4 Most Valuable Player awards, 11 rebounding titles and 2 World Championships. The first occurred in 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers and the second in 1972 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Wilt may best be remembered for becoming the only NBA player to score 100 points in a single game.

On the memorable night of March 2, 1962 Wilt reached the century scoring mark against the New York Knicks in front of only 4,124 fans at the old Hershey Sports Arena. Ironically, the game was not televised. No video footage of that historic night was ever taken.

Wilt retired in 1973. His record included staggering NBA career statistics of 30.1 points per game, 22.7 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game. Oddly, his career FG% of 54.0 was higher than his FT% of 51.1.

Wilt also battled his career long nemesis Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. Many sports fans regard this as the greatest individual rivalry in all of team sports. Russell’s Celtics bested Chamberlain’s teams (Warriors, 76ers and Lakers) seven out of eight times they squared off against each other in the NBA Playoffs.

Wilt’s incredible dominance as an NBA player prompted many fans to root against this giant of a man. The fans’ treatment of him led Chamberlain to famously respond, “No one ever roots for Goliath!”
Sadly, Wilt passed away in 1999.

Whether you were a fan of the Big Dipper or not, no one can argue that Wilt Chamberlain was a dominating Goliath as a basketball player.

We can all celebrate the single named legacy of this NBA giant.

Because there may never be another dominant, rule altering player quite like this big dipping NBA star named Wilt.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NCAA Football’s Unique Mascots

NCAA sports mascotsNCAA college football officially kicks-off this Labor Day Weekend.

Highly heralded players, marvelous marching bands, beautiful bouncing cheerleaders, inventive in-game entertainment and endearing school mascots give expectant viewers every reason to tune into the endless array of televised games.

Without doubt, fantastic individual performances and expertly crafted team play on the field make college football a wildly popular sport.

However, there exists more than spectacular catches, bone jarring hits and perfectly executed screen plays that contribute to the overall popularity of college football.

One of the unmistakeable joys of being a fan of college football is embracing the story behind each school’s unique mascot.

Every college and university not only boasts its own individual football tradition, but also is identified by its very own mascot.

Mascots capture the purity of college sports. They make college football fun and help distinguish one school from another.

Nothing epitomizes college football like the likeable mascots parading the sidelines of stadiums, encouraging loyal fans to cheer, clap, stomp, yell, do the wave and, sometimes, even do the ridiculous.

Fans, both young and old, are attracted to the creativity and childlike fun of mascots and to their back stories.

From Navy’s Bill the Goat to the University of Texas’ Bevo the Long Horn Steer, and from the University of California at Santa Cruz’s Sammy the Slug to Big Al the Alabama Crimson Tide elephant, mascots bring smiles to the faces of sports fans of all ages.

Mascots come in all shapes, sizes, colors and animal species. They even represent all kinds of weather.

Color palettes range from Ace Purple at the University of Evansville to Buzz of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and from the Orange of Syracuse to Blue the Bobcat of the University of Kentucky.

Weather-conscious fans are entertained by Gael Force the Knight of the St. Mary’s of CA, Husky of the St. Cloud State Blizzard and Sebastian the Ibis of the Miami Hurricanes.

Every form of animal species on the planet is represented by a colorful, creative mascot singing, dancing, clapping and hamming it up on the sidelines during college football games.

Fans love UGA – the University of Georgia bulldog. Klawz – the University of Northern Colorado bear. Mario – the Drexel University dragon. Big Stuff – the Winthrop University eagle. And Zippy – the University of Akron’s beloved kangaroo.

Whether they’re a Lion (Columbia), Tiger (LSU) or Bear (California); a Pirate (East Carolina), Vandal (Idaho) or Rebel (UNLV); a Demon (Wake Forest) or a Devil (Arizona State); a Chanticleer (Coastal Carolina) or a Commodore (Vanderbilt); a Blue Hen (Delaware), Blue Hose (Presbyterian) or even a Blue Devil (Duke), mascots bring out the kid in all of us.

That’s why these fun mascots also make my list at #4 in my sports comic book NCAA Football Favorites.

MIKE Sports Comic Book: NCAA Basketball FavoritesJust click on the blue cover above and safely download NCAA Football Favorites for 99 cents from Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!Football footer

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Domestic Abuse

MIKE on Sports Badge

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell exercised the extraordinary power of his office yesterday and brought down his huge hammer with thunderous force.

And, the shocking sound of his proposed bold new sanctions for offending players resonated all across America today.

 

Goodell announced the NFL’s new domestic abuse policy that should sting all repugnant, battering players with the same shocking wallop as their unexpected, abusive physical attacks perpetrated upon physically weaker women and children.

NFL players will now be suspended for six games for their first domestic abuse offense and banished from the league for life if a second offense occurs.

When the NY Daily News asked about his enacting these harsher penalties in the wake of the ridiculous leniency he showed toward Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice with a mere two game suspension for knocking out his fiancé in an Atlantic City elevator, Goodell responded, “I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

This week, Roger Goodell certainly did get it right.

Kudos to the Commish for raising not only the NFL’s personal conduct policy, but also raising our nation’s societal bar for valuing and protecting women and children.

As our country’s most popular professional sports league, the NFL, along with its seemingly ubiquitous television coverage, represents the best vehicle to raise national awareness of the hideous, but far too pervasive, subject of domestic abuse.

According to a USA Today report, “Every year, 1.3 million women are victims of domestic abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Almost a third of women who are murdered are killed by what the NCADV calls “an intimate partner.”
It’s not just women who suffer the consequences, either. According to the NCADV, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to become abusers as adults.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft seized the moment to praise the Commissioner’s bold and courageous decision.

Incredulously, not all NFL fans and even the NFL Players Association supported Goodell.

According to the NY Times, the N.F.L. Players Association, which has often been at loggerheads with the commissioner over his penalties for players, did not publicly endorse Goodell’s tougher stance. In a statement, the union said only that it was informed of the NFL’s decision and that “if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”

The NFLPA statement is terribly unsettling. The players’ union should have immediately vocalized support and validated Goodell’s need to implement a new policy. The union should have issued a statement to decry domestic violence and to acknowledge that its players understand the importance of the Commissioner’s bold social statement. However, they failed to concur with the Commish on a topic brimming with critical social consequence.

I applaud the Commissioner’s action. It’s the right move. Goodell’s gumption should be seen as a clarion call, a provocative social message and a late but much needed statement demonizing the ugly, odious behavior that lurks beneath the surface in volatile relationships and sadly hurts too many families in our country.

Though the Commissioner’s office has come under intense scrutiny over the past few years, Goodell’s stringent new policy sends the strongest of messages from our country’s most powerful professional sports platform that domestic abuse will NOT be tolerated.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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