Friday Sports Funny: Tank McNamara and “Norts Spews”

Tank McNamara

With a name that perfectly captures his comic strip persona, Tank McNamara barrels into today’s Friday Sports Funny with the “norts spews!”

Boasting a 40 year run as a syndicated comic strip character, big mouthed, broad shouldered broadcaster Tank McNamara easily bogarts his way into today’s blog with his “norts spews” or sports news.

Sure, I may have personally given Tank a mulligan – or two – or thirty when considering this bumbling, brash and bumptious local television reporter of comic strip fame.

But, his inclusion in today’s Friday Sports Funny blog as well as in my sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters stems from the brilliance of two men who brought this imperfect talking head on sports to life.

Creators Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds

Until his 2012 passing, writer Jeff Millar and artist and now writer Bill Hinds gifted the American sports loving public with this magnificent creation.

Since 1974 Millar and Hinds have employed the overly confident Tank McNamara to lampoon the absurdity of sports.

However, the square jawed reporter, famous for his fumble mouth pronunciations like “norts spews” instead of sports news, quickly and frequently gets cut down to size.

Millar and Hinds expertly crafted the seemingly self-assured sportscaster into a buffoon of a former football player, beloved by readers of as many as 300 American newspapers.

In spite of his warts and easily deflated bravado, Tank McNamara remains a fan favorite. Loyal readers can easily recite the brute’s football bio from his fictional alma mater – Enormous State University – to the same #55 jersey number he wore as a college Sandcrab player and later as an NFL defensive lineman.

Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, the Tank McNamara character seamlessly weaves commentary and illustrative artwork into American culture while furnishing a biting satire of today’s sports world.

Tank McNamara Pricks Societal Ills

From gambling to steroids, domestic disputes to felonious arrests and from breaking news on DUIs to sexual misconduct stories, Tank McNamara poignantly pricks all societal ills.

Tank McNamara’s snarky humor reaches its annual peak when creators ask readers to nominate their choice for Sports Jerk of the Year.

In the less-than-perfect world of sports entertainment, there is usually no shortage of candidates.

And, with a flawed former football player named Tank McNamara reporting on the winner of Sports Jerk of the Year, it’s easy to understand why this likeable lunk finds his way into my sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters.

Click above to download the book from Amazon to read about Tank and other “norts spews.”.

MIKE on sports! Football footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Super Bowl 50 vs. The First Super Bowl

The Vince Lombardi NFL Super Bowl Trophy

Today’s #TBT sports blog rewinds football fans’ love affair with this weekend’s Super Bowl way back to January 15, 1967.

That’s the notable day that the now most watched television event in American history made its debut.

However, the initial metrics surrounding Super Bowl I pale in comparison to the pageantry and digital deluge that Super Bowl 50 will foster.

Given the NFL’s unparalleled growth into a $10 Billion per year enterprise, it’s hard to fathom that its 1967 experiment to pit the vaunted NFL against the upstart AFL in a winner-take-all championship game was not an immediate hit with advertisers and the general public.

Let’s replay the video and learn more.

Compared to the whopping $5 million per 30 second advertising spot that CBS Sports commands for SB50 coverage, Super Bowl I ads collected only $42,000 in revenue for each half minute spot.

In addition, the first Super Bowl was simulcast by two major sports networks. Both CBS and NBC held broadcast rights for the two (NFL and AFL) respective leagues at the time and reported a much lower than expected combined viewership.

Only 51.1 million American viewers witnessed the first big game on television, compared to an estimated 190 million fans anticipated to watch Sunday’s contest between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

However, a less than auspicious Super Bowl debut becomes evident upon greater scrutiny.

Securing a spot in the Los Angeles Coliseum for the historic contest between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs was as easy as a chip shot field goal. A decent seat only set fans back $12. That’s right, just 12 bucks!

Amazingly, the 61,940 announced attendance in Los Angeles was nowhere near a sellout. More than 33,000 seats in the cavernous stadium were empty.

No wonder why the NFL can’t seem to locate the actual footage from Super Bowl I.

Average Price for a Super Bowl 50 Ticket

By comparison, Seat Geek claims that the average broker price for a Super Bowl 50 ticket commands $4,957. That’s correct! It now can take thousands of dollars just to enter the gates of the gleaming $2 billion+ Levi Stadium where a well heeled crowd exceeding 75,000 fans is expected.

For those cash fat fans who can afford to get into the game, no expense is now spared on entertaining them. Instantly recognized super star entertainers, or at least their agents, vie for the unprecedented exposure SB50 affords individual brands.

But, today’s SB50 entertainment is a far cry for the league’s first title contest, and it should be. Back in ’67, the halftime entertainment comprised of the University of Arizona Marching Band, 300 pigeons and 10,000 balloons, along with Al Hirt blasting away on his trumpet.

An American Cultural Phenomena

Certainly, the spectacle of modern era Super Bowls has morphed dramatically over the years to become an American cultural phenomena.

Today’s #TBT post recalls how television’s greatest single event has transformed over the course of the past half a century.

And, why, as football fans, we couldn’t be happier.

That’s because we’re all counting down the moments to Sunday’s kick-off.

MIKE on sports!

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A Super Bowl 50 Story to Trump All Others

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog spotlights what I believe is the best story surrounding this weekend’s Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, CA.

No, it’s not about Denver Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning’s probable swan song.

Nor does it concern Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton’s flamboyant attire or anticipated showboating.

And, it won’t even center on the spectacular new Levi Stadium and the unprecedented technology it will showcase during the sports world’s biggest single event in television history.

That’s because the Super Bowl 50 story to trump all others focuses an incredibly generous gift of thanks, about which, the giver won’t even comment.

For the second time in Carolina Panthers history, the team is going to a Super Bowl and franchise owner Jerry Richardson is footing the bill for his entire organization to witness the big game in person.

That’s right! Just like in 2004, all the executives, salaried employees and interns in Richardson’s Panthers organization are headed to Santa Clara’s spectacular new Levi Stadium on his dime.

Generous Jerry’s only quote about his magnanimous move was to say in a prepared statement on the team’s website, “Our going to the Super Bowl would not be possible without harmony and a complete team effort.”

Wow!

Knight him now! Crown him King of the Carolinas! Give him a speedy pass to Sainthood.

Richardson’s gesture put his own money where his mouth is. His generosity, coupled with a incredible leadership statement to value and recognize those who have contributed to his franchise’s success, overwhelms me.

Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and other deep pocketed, but tightly fisted pro sports team owners need to take note.

This is how you reward your organization.

What reasonable, smart individual wouldn’t want to work for a guy like Jerry Richardson?

Whether his Panthers win Sunday’s big game or not makes no difference to me or countless other football fans.

That’s because Richardson is already a big winner, and his incredible story rightfully trumps all others surrounding Super Bowl 50.

Now, that’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on Sports!

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NCAA Basketball’s The Palestra in Philadelphia

MIKE sports comic - The Palestra

As the NCAA basketball season inches towards tournament time, allow me to brag about my favorite place on the planet to watch college hoops.

Perhaps Philadelphia’s most revered sports venue, the Palestra is appropriately called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

Recognized as the birthplace of college basketball, this hallowed arena opened its doors on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 1, 1927. On that seminal day, Ivy League rivals Penn and Yale tipped off in what would become the first of thousands of games held in this building.

Named after an ancient Greek rectangular enclosure, the sparkling new facility was designed to house 8,722 spectators. However, more than 10,000 excited fans crammed into the Palestra to witness Penn beat Yale 26 – 15 on its opening day.

Since then, the Palestra has hosted more NCAA college basketball games than any other arena in the country.

Since 1955, the Palestra has also served as the home court for the round robin of Big 5 college basketball games. Though not an official league or athletic conference, the Big 5 boasts five successful college basketball programs located within a 17 mile radius of center city Philadelphia.

Each year, the Big 5’s Penn, LaSalle, Temple, St. Joe’s and Villanova compete against each other in the city’s iconic Palestra. No other metropolitan area in the country can make the college basketball claim to have five programs this good, this close to one another and also this willing to schedule games each season.

In 2007, an ESPN Classic documentary chronicled the Palestra’s enduring legacy by featuring its iconic building and its storied basketball tradition.

In 2000, the Palestra enjoyed a welcome renovation and the addition of a Philadelphia college basketball museum.

The documentary highlighted the concourses surrounding center court of this beautiful brick building, with nearly a century of memories adorning the walls. Banners, trophies and even pictures of mascots capture die hard college hoops fans.

However, it’s the Palestra’s Hall of Fame that totally enraptures visitors. The glass enclosed photos and awards cases recognize Big 5 coaches and players as well as the city’s greatest high school player ever – Wilt Chamberlain – who hailed from center city’s Overbrook High which is just a short cab ride from the gym.

Worthy coaches such as Penn’s Chuck Daly, LaSalle’s Tom Gola, St. Joe’s Dr. Jack Ramsey, Temple’s John Chaney and 1985 NCAA National Championship coach Rollie Massimino of Villanova are also recognized.

The unique commaraderie of the Philadelphia college basketball coaching fraternity has long been admired. Traditionally, Big 5 coaches eagerly share game film on opponents whose schools were located outside Philadelphia. Ironically, or even admirably, this Big 5 coaching cabal would never offer coaching tips or game film on any of the Big 5 rival schools.

“Easy” Ed Pickney of Villanova, Jerome Allen of Penn, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant of LaSalle, Norman Black of St. Joe’s and Bill “The Owl Without the Vowel” Mlkvy of Temple are some of the best Big 5 players that laced ‘em up at the Palestra.

In addition to Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Eugene Banks are other high school prodigies who never played college basketball at the Palestra. However, they were known to ran up and down the pristine hardwood court during high school all-star and playoff games.

Because fans are able to sit so close to the court, the Palestra lives up to its billing as one of the best places to watch a college basketball game.

And, the plaque that greets Palestra visitors once they enter its hallowed basketball halls reinforces the aura of the place.

It reads: “To win the game is great. To play the game is greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all.”

I doubt few would argue.

MIKE on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Visitors Never Win at CHS

MIKE Sports Comic: Visitors Never Win at Central HighToday’s Friday Sports Funny sheds new light about visiting teams playing in supposed “hostile environments.”

Sports fans may recognize how tough it can be for their favorite teams to win away games at places like Duke’s Cameron Indoor Arena or LSU’s Death Valley Stadium.

However, just consider how impossible it would be for a visiting swim team to win a meet at Central High School’s pool.

It just won’t happen!

This may be an exaggerated view of an opponent’s home field advantage.

During away games and meets, players think the odds of winning are purposely stacked against them.

Well, at Central High, they certainly are. The barriers placed in the visitors’ swimming lanes make it impossible for anyone, even dolphin, to successful navigate in order to compete.

This comic actually serves as my #20 choice in my sports comic book aptly named Favorite Sports Comics.

That’s because it perfectly captures how visiting teams feel when competing against their fiercest opponent – on their rival’s basketball court, football field, baseball diamond or, in this case, in their swimming pool.

Favorite Sports ComicsJust click on the yellow cover above to safely download the book for only 99 cents from Amazon.

I’m certain NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, FIFA and NCAA teams look upon their away games this way, too. They just need to find ways to work past the fictional buoys and avoid those metaphoric circling sharks!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Olympics Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Broad Street Bullies’ Bobby Clarke

Former Philadelphia Flyers Bobby ClarkeToday’s TBT sports blog remembers my favorite hockey player of all-time – Bobby Clarke – who once starred for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Seems like only yesterday that Clarke was skating effortlessly up and down the old Spectrum Arena ice in Philadelphia in his orange, black and white #16 Flyers jersey.

Now, long since retired and 66 years-old, this Flin Flon, Manitoba native became a three-time NHL Most Valuable Player and skated his way into the hearts of hockey fans everywhere.

That’s because Bobby Clarke personified old-school hockey. He played without a helmet and hit about as hard as any player who ever took the ice. The Flyers captain was easily recognizable by his wide, toothless smile, long curly blond hair and incredible skill on skates.

The 17th pick of the 1969 NHL Draft, Clarke played his entire career for the Flyers franchise. Even after retiring, Clarke continued with the organization for many years first as General Manager and most recently as a Senior Vice President. He’s still Philadelphia’s greatest player ever, holding team records in total points and games played. He also appeared in eight NHL All-Star games.

As the Flyers captain, Clarke excelled during the 1970s. In both 1974 and 1975, he led the notorious Broad Street Bullies to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.

Known for winning face-offs and for relentlessly checking opponents, Clarke also teamed with Reggie Leach and Bill Barber to form one of the best lines in hockey history. The Flyers’ LCB Line scored 141 goals in the 1975 – 1976 season and was instrumental in the Flyers’ championship seasons the two previous years.

Clarke also distinguished himself individually. The NHL awarded him the Hart Trophy three times as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

This 1987 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee’s greatest accomplishment may be the fact that he brilliantly played the rough and tumble sport for 15 years.

A diabetic, Clarke suffered several serious seizures early in his career. He was also prone to exhaustion and infection. The NHL feared that it wouldn’t be safe for him to play in the league.

But, #16 showed his resilience and proved the league wrong. Bobby Clarke strictly followed a diet to manage his diabetes and played brilliantly for a championship franchise during his lengthy NHL career.

That’s why this fearless Philadelphia Flyer also checks in at #9 in Favorite Flyers in Sports available for 99 cents on Amazon.

Favorite Flyers in SportsClick on the red cover above and safely download Favorite Flyers in Sports from Amazon. Read about former Philadelphia Flyer Bobby Clarke as well as basketball high flyers Vince Carter, Herman “The Helicopter” Knowings, track’s Jesse “The Buckeye Bullet” Owens, the sports world’s iconic Goodyear Blimp and many more.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

International Opposites Day: Peyton Manning and Cam Newton

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

For today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog, I’m calling an audible about Super Bowl 50 QB’s Peyton Manning and Cam Newton.

That’s right, as savvy QB’s do at the line of scrimmage, I’m veering from the way I normally do things to compose today’s blog about numbers 18 and 1 to celebrate this week’s little known international holiday.

For the uninformed out there, yesterday marked International Opposites Day. It’s a designated 24 hour of time in which participants are encouraged to do things entirely differently than normally accustomed.

However, I think the timing to celebrate International Opposites Day could not have been more fortuitous for football fans.

Considering all the press surrounding Super Bowl 50’s starting quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Cam Newton of the Charlotte Panthers, my 2 Cent Tuesday blog should be deemed highly appropriate for this peculiar holiday.

That’s because it extols the wonderful differences of two popular, but polar opposite quarterbacks who ironically share and demonstrate the same level of excellence as leaders and All-Pro athletes.

NFL QB Peyton Manning

Besides the obvious differences in age and race, let’s take a closer look at what football fans observe about these highly profile passers:

Peyton Manning          Cam Newton

ah, shucks grin           mega-watt smile

modest & measured    electric & flamboyant

pocket passer             read-option threat

a bit hobbled              no visible chicks in armor

5X NFL MVP                certain 2015 1st time MVP

iceberg quick              insane athletic

humble demeanor       self-aggrandizing showman

weary wobbly armed    cocky Gunslinger

Super Bowl Champ       prodigy knocking-on-the-door

Pick your QB.

They may both be as dissimilar as the Broncos’ garish orange uniforms and the Panthers’ regal blue and black jerseys.

They may be as different as the Mile High City of Denver and the Queen City of Charlotte.

And, they may be as opposite their personal musical preferences of country and hip-hop.

But, make no mistake. Peyton Manning and Cam Newton are alike in that they’ve both led their teams to Super Bowl 50 in the most unlikely ways.

Acknowledging this week’s International Opposites Day, that’s my 2 cents about two quintessentially opposite quarterbacks.

MIKE on Sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Boxer Mike Tyson’s Famous Quote

Retired boxer Mike Tyson

Today’s Friday Sports Funny focuses on one of my favorite funny sports quotes of all-time.

Upon hearing the words uttered, sports fans would instantly recognize the squeaky voice and pronounced lisp of former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.

“I guess I’m going to slide into Bolivia.”
~ Mike Tyson, retired champ, who meant to say “oblivion.”

No surprise here. Great athletes may be able to run faster, jump higher and put a ball in a basket better than others.

However, there are no guarantees that they are smart or know the meaning of common words or geographical location of South American countries.

Mike Tyson’s quote proves my premise.

The once mega-rich athlete, formerly known as the Baddest Man on the Planet, was not exactly the smartest guy, either.

Yet, Tyson fortunately found new life outside the ropes. Tyson was a huge hit in Spike Lee’s Broadway show Undisputed Truth.

Plus, he performed wonderfully in the FOX reality series Being Mike Tyson: The Real Deal. Engaging, fragile, complex and even childlike at times, Tyson revealed himself both genuine and candid on stage and before the camera.

With a 50 – 6 lifetime record, this once hard-hitting champ acknowledged his mistakes of the past. Mike Tyson confessed to feeling desperate and irate, admitting he’s now learned what not to do in life, thus insuring he now may avoid sliding into Bolivia. Lol

MIKE on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Boxing Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: NFL “Slot Machine” Wes Welker

MIKE Comic 44 Slot MachineThis weekend’s AFC Championship Game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots beckons me to feature NFL “Slot Machine” Wes Welker in today’s #TBT sports blog.

Only a couple years ago the undersized, NFL star receiver known as the “Slot Machine” paid huge dividends for both AFC teams.

Welker served as a valuable weapon that elite QB’s Tom Brady and Peyton Manning relied upon when #83 suited up for the Pats and more recently with the Broncos. Brady and Manning probably wish they still had Welker lined up in the slot as the #1 and #2 seeded teams take the field at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium on Sunday.

Unquestionably, Welker’s brilliance as a receiver helped bolster the stellar careers of both Brady and Manning.

For a dozen years, Welker wowed football fans with an indomitable spirit and incredible ability to catch footballs.

However, that wasn’t always the case.

Wes Welker Went Undrafted in 2004

NFL scouts originally thought he was too small. They also thought he lacked the necessary speed and athleticism to play professionally.

But, just like a casino slot machine can unexpectedly pay out big dividends, the talented slot receiver Wes Welker did the same. He proved all the so-called NFL experts wrong.

Undrafted out of Texas Tech University in 2004, Wes Welker consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic and high football IQ wherever he played the game. He also repeatedly got open. Welker regularly caught the football when thrown his way during his first three NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

The New England Patriots took note of Welker’s consistency and surprising athleticism and traded for him in 2007. Once he became a Pat, Wes Welker starred in Coach Bill Belichick’s pass oriented offense.

The “Slot Machine” Has Defied NFL Odds

At just 5’9” and 185 lbs. the undersized slot receiver known as the “Slot Machine” defied all NFL odds. He became a two-time NFL All-Pro first team wide receiver and went on to set 15 individual NFL receiving records.

Twice a member of New England’s AFC Championship Teams in 2007 and 2011, Welker set an NFL record by catching more than 110 passes in four different NFL seasons. He also holds the record of 99 yards for the longest NFL pass play.

Once considered one of the NFL’s best overall receivers, Welker caught a pass in every game he wore a Patriots’ jersey.

Without doubt, he was New England QB Tom Brady’s favorite target.

NFL scouts have certainly regretted overlooking the undersized Wes Welker in the 2004 NFL Draft. They never imagined the football jackpot this undersized slot receiver would become.

Wes Welker’s exceptional hands, great football instincts and consistent work ethic have served him well. They helped him become a five-time NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver and one of the league’s most popular players.

In 2013, the Denver Broncos signed Welker to a free agent contract. It afforded perennial All-Pro QB Peyton Manning another talented, and dangerous, receiver in the Broncos’ line-up.

NFL fans also witnessed big things from this undersized Broncos receiver in the Mile High City until the Broncos released him in 2014.

St. Louis Rams Sign Welker in November 2015

In November 2015, the St. Louis Rams surprisingly signed the concussion prone Welker to a one-year deal, hoping the “Slot Machine” can pay off big for them, too, in 2016. Here’s hoping he does and stays healthy in the process.

Though Wes Welker won’t be playing in this weekend’s AFC Championship Game in Denver, references to the “Slot Machine” and the impact he’s had on both QB’s legacies are sure to surface.

And, that’s a payout all NFL fans will enjoy hearing.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Cleveland Cavaliers Still Not NBA Championship Caliber Team

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog exposes the obvious to every hoops fan who tuned into TNT last night to watch the Golden State Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The LeBron James led Cavs are still not an NBA championship caliber team.

After witnessing yesterday’s brutal beat down in Cleveland by last year’s NBA champion, Cavs fans have every reason to worry.

Unless the Cavs immediately improve several facets of their game, NBA title hopes will once again elude the championship starved city.

The NBA Eastern Conference’s top team was once again over matched by another front running Western Conference opponent.

Last night’s 132 – 98 Golden State drubbing denuded a listless Cleveland Cavaliers squad and divulged to the league just how clunky and cumbersome last year’s NBA runner-up could be at times – both offensively and defensively.

Twitter Shows “No Love” to Kevin Love

The Twiiter-verse lit up early in yesterday’s contest as callous fans ridiculed a slow-footed Kevin Love as he awkwardly attempted to guard against a beautifully designed Warriors pick and roll.

Love was not only a liability defensively for the Cavaliers last night, but he only scored 3 points and seemed overwhelmed by the superior athleticism of the Warriors’ Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

Even the Cavs’ unquestioned leader, LeBron James, appeared at times to sulk and take plays off.

And, scintillating guard Kyrie Irving gambled too often on defense and dribbled entirely too much on offense, causing an already anemic Cavs’ offense to grind to a halt.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Big 3 Need to Lead Defensively

The Cleveland Big 3 needs to step up soon.

James, Love and Irving need to lead by example, especially defensively, if they expect to compete with the Warriors or the equally talented San Antonio Spurs for the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.

LeBron James tried to shake off last night’s performance as “one of those nights!”

However, NBA fans could clearly sense James’ frustration and see firsthand the Cavs’ vulnerability defensively. Plus, the team’s preponderant dependence on James was evident, too, leaving many to wonder if the 31 year-old superstar can carry his teammates again as he brilliantly displayed during last year’s title run.

Expect the Cavs’ front office to be working overtime to correct last night’s ugly loss by shopping for more athletic components to compliment James.

With a much ballyhooed and healthy Big 3 in its lineup last night, the Cavs were expected to make a much better showing in a what TNT touted as a possible prelude to the 2016 NBA Finals.

However, what Cleveland delivered was an entirely unanticipated outcome. And, that’s because even with a reunited Big 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers still are not an NBA championship caliber team.

That’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on Sports!

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Celebrating Jesse Owens on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

the Buckeye Bullet Jesse Owens

Olympic Champion Jesse Owens

 

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, allow me to acknowledge one of the greatest athletes of all-time. This amazing individual will soon be featured in the major motion picture Race, scheduled for release on February 19th.

Before MLB’s Jackie Robinson, the NFL’s Jim Brown, the NBA’s Wilt Chamberlain or boxing’s Joe Louis, track star Jesse Owens was regarded as the USA’s first ever African American sports icon.

On our country’s national holiday, let’s remember this extraordinary American who flew past his competitors on the track and soared above the hate and discrimination that he faced away from it.

The son of an Alabama sharecropper, James Cleveland Jesse Owens battled pneumonia as a sickly child before his family moved north to Cleveland, Ohio.

Years later, a much stronger and healthier 5’10” and 165 lb. Owens blossomed as an outstanding track and field athlete at Ohio State University.

Named the Buckeye Bullet for how quickly he flew around the track, Owens shattered sprint and long jump records during his college days. He won eight individual NCAA individual championships.

Owens’ Incredible 1936 Olympics Accomplishment

Perhaps the greatest single day accomplishment in track and field history occurred on May 25, 1935. Owens tied the 100 yard dash world record and broke three other world records in the long jump, 220 yard dash and 220 yard low hurdles.

What makes Jesse Owens’ feats so amazing is that his incredible performances in all four events took place in the time span of less than one hour.

Owens’ success continued after his college days.

He is best remembered for his magnificent performance at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. Jesse Owens captured four gold medals. He won the long jump, 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash and anchored the USA’s 4 x 100 meter relay team.

Wins aside, the most dominant athlete at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games may be more admired and respected for the way he excelled on the world stage.

In spite of German dictator Adolph Hitler’s desire to showcase what he believed was white Aryan supremacy, this black skinned American athlete blasted past all would-be competitors.

Jesse Owens’ success at the Berlin Olympics even prompted a German sports apparel maker to present him with the first ever sports sponsorship contract for a black athlete.

Sadly, Owens’ respectability and celebrity status in Europe wasn’t similarly honored when he returned home. In a gathering at a New York landmark before the start of a ticker tape parade, Owens was forced to take a freight elevator to meet up with his victorious fellow Olympic athletes – simply because of his skin color.

Following the 1936 Olympics, Owens found employment by racing against cars and horses in carnival type events. He played briefly with the Harlem Globetrotters and later served as a motivational speaker. Often when he traveled, this great Olympic champion was forced to stay in separate black only hotels and eat in black only restaurants.

One of the greatest athletes of the 20th Century, Jesse Owens was eventually acknowledged for his accomplishments.

Jesse Owens Acknowledged

In 1976, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Gerald Ford. In 1980, former President George H. W. Bush presented Owens with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award.

Oddly, Jesse Owens chain smoked cigarettes for 35 years and died of cancer in 1980. This remarkable Olympian may be remembered as one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time.

Equally importantly, the Buckeye Bullet will always be loved and respected for the way he utilized his athletic fame to break through the scourge of racism.

Owens is also an easy choice at #7 in my sports comic book Favorite Flyers in Sports available for only 99 cents on Amazon.

MIKE on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Olympics Footer

Friday Sports Funny: Celebrating National Hat Day

MIKE Sports Comic: A Hockey Hat Trick

Today’s Friday Sports Funny blog on the Hat Trick is a no brainer.

That’s because jubilant number seven in the blog’s comic has two reasons to celebrate.

One – he just slipped another puck passed the goalie and recorded his third goal, or a hat trick, for his Bears team.

Two – he’s spinning three large hats on his finger that he can wear, once he takes off his helmet, to celebrate National Hat Day.

Yes, January 15th of every year is National Hat Day. Seriously!

As Americans, we designate the unofficial, non US Congress sanctioned National Hat Day on the 15th of this month every year.

Sure, it’s a totally different day to acknowledge, but so is celebrating a furry rodent who climbs out of his hole to look for his shadow on National Ground Hog Day.

Speculation always surfaces when determining the genesis of this special day. Research dates back to the late 1800’s when the craft of millinery, or the design, manufacture and distribution of hats, reached a plateau. To boost stagnant sales shrewd marketers more than likely created this fun, but meaningless day. And, their notion to acknowledge noggin ware has stuck.

Now, each January, clever ad campaigns energize lid lovers to race to their favorite retailer to buy another New Era, Kangol, Stetson, Bailey or Jaxon product to not only cover their heads to retain the escaping heat, but also to sport their individual panache.

Today’s unofficial national holiday doesn’t discriminate either.

You may prefer a ball cap in lieu of a skull cap, a stevedore over a sombrero or a cowboy hat instead of a coolie hat.

Maybe you can’t decide between a bowler and a beret or you simply fawn over fedoras. Don’t worry!

National Hat Day celebrates you and your very own statement of style.

So, athletes and fans, tip your ball cap, headband, do rag, beanie or helmet and celebrate along with the hat trick scoring number seven in this comic by recognizing National Hat Day.

MIKE on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: The NBA Showtime Lakers

NBA Los Angeles LakersToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers a talented tinsel town team that perfectly fit the Hollywood hype of its Showtime nickname.

This once dominant NBA franchise now sports the second worst record in the league. However, a fast break down memory lane should buoy the sunken spirits of its proud Purple and Gold fan base.

Check it out…

With their quick paced form of fast break basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s electrified NBA fans. Their style of play entertained the many movie, music and television celebrities who attended their home games at the old Great Western Forum.

Much of the Showtime nickname is credited to Lakers star Earvin Magic Johnson. This 6’9” point guard and overall number one pick in the 1979 NBA Draft became famous for his no look passes and extra bright smile. He led the Showtime fast break like an expert director of a major motion picture.

Johnson handled the basketball like his namesake – a magician. His recipients were Hall of Fame forward James Worthy and a tireless group of smart, athletic teammates. His fellow Lakers included Jamaal Wilkes, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon and Kurt Rambis.

Magic Johnson was also as good a passer in the half court game. He smartly fed fellow Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul Jabbar for easy points in the paint.

Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley scripted and managed the widely admired Showtime attack. The Lakers flourished in the 80s and advanced to the NBA Finals eight times during the decade.

The Showtime Lakers captured five NBA crowns during that popular era. They were so popular a draw, that the most popular celebrities of the time like Jack Nicholson, Dyan Cannon, Arsenio Hall, Walter Matthau and assorted members of the Jackson singing family sat courtside to cheer them on.

The surroundings of the Great Western Forum, both on and off the court, transformed the Showtime Lakers. They went from being an entertaining basketball team to a team of star-studded Hollywood entertainers who also happened to play basketball.

Nearly 30 years later and with 16 titles to their credit, the Lakers remain one of the NBA’s most successful franchises.

Thanks in a major way to Magic Johnson and his Showtime Lakers teammates, the Lakers are ranked as the league’s most valuable team.

With an estimated worth now of $2.6 Billion+, the Lakers’ Showtime teams of the 1980s helped create a Hollywood blockbuster by any industry standard.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s Priceless Quote

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog spotlights Alabama coach Nick Saban’s priceless quote that ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit quickly referenced before last night’s national championship game.

Caught up in the pomp and circumstance of ESPN’s pregame coverage, many viewers may have missed what Herbstreit said.

But, others, like me, savored Saban’s words and vowed to employ them again during moments in our lives when simple, sage counsel is required to inspire teammates, family and friends.

Just before kickoff, Herbstreit quoted Alabama coach Nick Saban as telling his players, “You deserve to be here tonight, but you are entitled to nothing.”

Wow! What a wise quote from an extraordinarily successful coach. Saban showed the maturity and practicality to recognize that his team needed to hear and comprehend such a catalyzing comment.

Now, sports pundits can add the Alabama coach’s modest, motivational quote alongside anything ever uttered by other college football luminaries Paul “Bear” Bryant, Frank Leahy, John McKay, Jimmy Johnson and Urban Meyer.

Saban’s simple statement smacked of brilliance and served as impetus for his surging, yet still underdog Tide team entering last night’s championship contest.

Certainly, Alabama deserved to be there in the University of Phoenix Stadium. However, as Saban so clearly elucidated, college football’s most successful program was not entitled to this year’s title based on its unrivaled history of success.

They needed to grab it all by themselves against the previously undefeated, first ranked Clemson Tigers on college football’s biggest stage. That was Saban’s message, and the 45 – 40 outcome proved it.

Tide fans, and even college football followers who despise the obsessive, workaholic Saban, should all agree with the poignant words spoken by the now five-time national championship winning coach.

The Tide may not have been entitled to the title going into last night’s game. However, based on how they played, Alabama deserves being called national champions.

Nick Saban’s simple, but profound pregame quote was priceless!

And, that’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on Sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: XOXO is a Football Play!

MRO 82 XOXO is a playToday’s Friday Sports Funny sheds new meaning on the term XOXO.

Any reasonably intelligent individual can determine that the XOXO’s pictured above refer to a football play.

However, red faced football player in the comic appears confused. He doesn’t realize that all the XOXO references on the chalkboard combine to form a totally different meaning than the abbreviated definition for hugs and kisses.

NFL and NCAA offensive coordinators routinely design intricate plays with lots of X’s and O’s to catch their opponents off guard.

When viewed on the chalkboard, sophisticated plays might look more like advanced math equations than routine football plays.

With offensive audibles at the line of scrimmage, zone reads and blitz schemes cover two coverages on defense, it’s understandable how some players can get confused about what coaches write on the chalkboard.

That’s because not all of today’s NCAA and NFL players aced the Wonderlic test or scored perfectly on their SAT’s.

Check out my podcast on the Wonderlic to give you a better feel for the obligatory test administered to prospects before each annual NFL Draft.

Click on Yellow Cover to Listen to Wonderlic Test Podcast

MIKE on sports podcast

More than likely, many players with more brawn than brain may struggle in understanding the complexity of expertly diagrammed football plays.

But, this exaggerated XOXO cliche can give every football fan a hearty laugh.

XOXO is a Football Play!

Any gridiron player should know football is a game of X’s and O’s and that hugs and kisses are the last thing to expect on the playing field – especially if JJ Watt or Richard Sherman are lined up opposite the quarterback.

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Former NHL Embalmer Alf Pike

Former NHL player Alf PikeToday’s #TBT sports blog takes a look back into the NHL at former New York Rangers’ player Al Pike.

Most hockey fans who did not know Alfred Pike would think he was just a goon or on the ice because of his creepy nickname.

The New York Ranger was called The Embalmer.

During the off-season, this NHL player worked as a licensed mortician preparing the dead for burial.

He’s featured in my new sports comic book Deadly Sports Stuff along with other frightful favorites like Death Valley, Coffin Corner, The Executioner, The Undertaker and Lethal Language in Sports.

Just click here or on the red cover below and be directed to Amazon to safely download my sports comic book Deadly Sports Stuff.

Deadly Sports StuffNow, back to Alf Pike.

The talented and likeable Alf Pike spent his entire sports career with the New York Rangers organization.

Because of the Embalmer’s versatility on the ice, Pike skated in three different positions for the Rangers: center, defenseman and left wing. Playing three totally different positions on a professional hockey team made him a rare talent.

The Embalmer’s career highlight came in 1940. His play was instrumental in the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup Championship against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hockey is a popular violent sport where bullying defensemen use big hits to metaphorically bury their opponents on the ice. Yet, the likeable Alf Pike literally buried people while away from the ice.

Pike helped the deliveries of the recently deceased to their final resting places. In doing so, he bore one of the sports world’s all-time best fitting nicknames – The Embalmer.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Time for NBA Suns Markieef Morris to Grow Up

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog examines the brouhaha surrounding NBA Phoenix Suns’ majority owner Robert Sarver and one of the team’s talented players – Markieff Morris.

Sarver recently attributed his team’s woes on a pervasive “millennial culture” in society that has impacted his team and cited Morris as one of the recipients of that millennial malaise.

Certainly, the Baby Boomer Sarver could have more deftly addressed the growing, public discontent exhibited by him much younger, millennial player whom his Suns management recently signed to an $8 million per year salary.

However, cursory Google searches will assist interested observers in this “he said, then he said, then he’s not talking cat fight” among grown men to determine what most needs to be done to squelch this needless nonsense.

Simply, it’s about time Markieff Morris grows up.

The millennial Morris couldn’t have chosen the era in which he was born. But, he could have demonstrated a lot more maturity over the past half dozen years in how he’s handled the privilege he’s been afforded as a major college athlete and now as a handsomely paid professional.

Markieff Morris’ Checkered Past

Morris’ recent resume is checkered with the exact immaturity and ungrateful spirit the impulsive Suns’ owner decries.

In addition to being suspended for two NBA games and fined a whopping $145, 455 for throwing a towel at his coach, Morris has also aired his laundry openly in the Phoenix media. Squawking over being separated in a trade from his twin bother Marcus, Markieff immediately earned a fine of $10,000 for failure to curb his tongue.

The physically talented Morris has shown aplomb on the hardwood with enviable numbers of 10.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg in 23.4 mpg. Not bad, Markieff.

However, personal responsibility and controlling one’s temper are definitely not his strong suits.

In addition to his public pouting with the Suns owner and foolishly demeaning Suns fans in the press last season, Markieff, along with brother Marcus, is facing felony aggravated assault in a Phoenix court. They took umbrage to 36 year-old Erik Hood’s tweet about what they thought was an inappropriate text about the Morris’ mother.

Furthermore, documented incidents during his time at Kansas University could also be throw on an already tinder box to prove Sarver’s reckless rant about the millennial Morris and his casual approach to discipline.

My 2 Cents

However, in spite of being pampered and mollycoddled for most of his life as a star athlete whom his boss (Sarver) thinks can’t handle setbacks, my 2 cents is that Markieeff Morris has the strength and ability to grow up.

He’s shown the discipline and work ethic to become a well-paid NBA player and just needs to challenge that same energy and drive to take control of his emotions as well as his tongue.

The metaphorical ball is now in Morris’ hands.

And, I say, you can do it, Markieff.

MIKE on Sports!

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Bo Jackson: Greatest Dual Sports Athlete Ever

NFL and MLB star Bo JacksonNow, he’s the most entertaining star of television’s Heisman House football commercials.

But, back then in the late 80’s, this fabulous football and baseball player was all the rage.

Because of his exploits, many sports fans regard him as the greatest dual sport athlete ever.

A 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, Bo Jackson not only dominated on the football field for the Auburn University Tigers. He also excelled at two other sports – baseball and track.

Voted #8 on ESPN’s list of the top 25 NCAA football players ever, Jackson dazzled as a fast and powerful running back while at Auburn. The 6’1” and 230 lb. Jackson rushed for an amazing 6.6 yards per carry. He amassed a staggering 4,575 career yards and scored 45 total touchdowns (43 rushing and 2 receiving).

This Heisman Trophy winner became the number one overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, because the Bucs inappropriately contacted Jackson outside of NCAA rules and regulations, the running back became ineligible for baseball during his senior season in 1986. As a result, Jackson chose not to sign with Tampa Bay and agreed to play professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals organization instead.

While at Auburn, Bo Jackson starred in two other sports. The football star qualified for the United States Summer Olympic Trials twice in the 100 yard dash. Jackson’s incredible speed became extremely evident during the spring of 1985 when he recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time ever at 4.12 seconds at the NFL Combine.

In addition to track, the former Auburn Tiger excelled on the baseball diamond. In 1985 he batted .401 with 17 home runs and 43 runs batted in while starring defensively in the outfield as well.

After graduating from Auburn, Jackson played eight years in Major League Baseball with the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox and the California Angels. He also left his mark in the NFL while playing four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

This phenomenal athlete is still the only athlete ever to be voted an all-star in two different professional sports – Major League Baseball and National Football League – and NOT be voted into either sport’s Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Bo Jackson’s brief but memorable dual sport career ended prematurely.

Without his hip injury, he undoubtedly could have been a Hall of Famer in two professional sports…..

…..a fact that, thanks to the 2012 ESPN Films 30 for 30 “You Don’t Know Bo” documentary, every sports fan now knows. And not just Bo!

MIKE – on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: 2X Heisman Winner Archie Griffin

MIKE Comic 130 Archie GriffinFormer Ohio State University Buckeye Archie Griffin rushes into today’s #TBT sports blog.

The only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, Archie Griffin led the Big Ten in rushing for three consecutive seasons.

The 1974 and 1975 Heisman recipient is also the only player in Big Ten history to win four Big Ten football titles and start in four individual Rose Bowl games.

Legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes called Archie Griffin the best football player he had ever seen. Few people, even Michigan Wolverine diehards, would disagree.

Despite his short 5’9” stature, Griffin utilized incredible speed and power and consistently broke multiple tackles every time he carried the football.

Griffin’s Ohio State Debut Was Forgettable

Ironically, Griffin did not begin his storied college career as one might expect. In his first game as a freshman running back in 1972, the Buckeye fumbled his only possession of the game and returned to the sidelines.

However, the OSU running back bounced back quickly. In his second game as a freshman, Griffin ran for an amazing 239 yards. He proceeded to rush for 100 yards or more for 31 consecutive games, an NCAA record.

Archie Griffin’s incredible college career culminated in 1976 when he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 24th pick in the 1st round. He played for the Bengals for seven seasons.

Soon after, Griffin returned to his home town of Columbus, OH where Ohio State is also located. The modest two-time Heisman winner was immediately welcomed into the school’s administration and eventually became President of the School’s Alumni Association.

Archie Griffin’s Famous Quote

Archie Griffin’s apparent toughness, speed and power are best remembered in a quote credited to this former Buckeye, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

College football history clearly shows that this former Ohio State Buckeye possessed a whole lot of bark and bite whenever he carried the football.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon: Sports Needs More Like Him

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogFormer Harlem Globetrotter icon Meadowlark Lemon passed away yesterday at age 83.

He will certainly be missed because the world, and not just the world of sports, needs more people like him.

Universally known for his infectious smile, basketball skill and amazing ability to entertain people of all ages, races and backgrounds, Meadowlark Lemon was graced with the endearing nickname “The Crown Prince of Basketball.”

The 6’6” native of Wilmington, North Carolina lit up every gymnasium, arena or stadium he ever entered with his beaming smile. The undisputed leader of the Globetrotters emanated trust while carrying unbridled joy whenever and wherever he played the game he loved. He performed selflessly, wholesomely and brilliantly on the basketball court.

Fans flocked to watch him perform. In his 26 year career with the Harlem Globetrotters, Lemon played in an astounding 16,000 games and traveled an estimated 5 million miles to more than 100 countries to lace ‘em up and entertain before heads of state, royalty, clerical leaders, basketball fans and especially kids.

Beloved, admired, sought after, color blind, caring, talented and flat out funny are only a few of the adjectives to describe this basketball showman. Known to sign every autograph and not leave the arena until every fan photo was taken, Lemon truly embodied his message.

In his nationally syndicated column, Los Angeles Times Sports Writer, Jim Murray, described Meadowlark Lemon as “an American Institution whose uniform should hang alongside the Spirit of St. Louis and the Gemini Space Capsule in the halls of the Smithsonian Institute. He did more for basketball than 10 seasons of the Boston Celtics.”

Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, Lemon’s entertaining ability was matched by his basketball talent. In addition to his famous no-look, behind-the-back-passes, Lemon perfected an incredibly accurate half-court hook shot he effortlessly made against the Globetrotters’ hapless opponent the Washington Generals.

Widely regarded for both his kindness and comedy, Lemon will always stand tall as one of the sports world’s most beloved figures.

During an era of self-aggrandizing athletes like Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Conor McGregor, Cam Newton, Dez Bryant, Kobe Bryant and more, Meadowlark Lemon will certainly be missed.

Because the sports world needs more people like the “Crown Prince of Basketball.”

And that’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on sports!

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