#TBT Halloween Sports Blog: The Nigerian Nightmare

former Kansas City Chiefs RB Nigerian Nightmare Christian Okoye

The Nigerian Nightmare Christian Okoye

NFL defensive players lost plenty of sleep the night before they faced this Enugu, Nigeria native on the football field.

Unlucky for them, he’s the focus of today’s special #TBT Halloween sports blog. He’s also #5 in my book Scary Sports Comics.

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian Okoye’s incredible combination of size, athleticism and strength instilled intense fear into those he faced on the football field. That fear earned him the nickname Nigerian Nightmare.

And rightfully so! The quick and fast 6’ 1” and 265 lb. running back regularly ran over or shed most would-be tacklers. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Okoye led the NFL in rushing in 1989. He was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Year.

The 1991 video game Tecmo Super Bowl popularized Okoye’s punishing running style by featuring the Chiefs ball-carrier as impossible to tackle.

Until a nagging knee injury pre-maturely ended his career in 1992, the Nigerian Nightmare played six NFL seasons. He scored 40 touchdowns and averaged a respectable 3.9 yards per carry.

Ironically, Okoye got his football start strictly by happenstance. He was a seven-time college track and field champion in the shot put, discus and hammer throw at Azusa Pacific.

#35 only reluctantly joined the school’s football team after his native Nigeria overlooked him for a spot on its Summer Olympic Team.

In addition to his track and field accolades, the NFL awarded Okoye the 1988 Ed Block Award for inspiration, sportsmanship and courage.

Christian Okoye may have been a nightmare for defenders to bring down on the football field.

But, this Nigerian Nightmare’s electric smile, gentle spirit and engaging personality have served him well off the gridiron where his life plays out more like a pleasant dream.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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A Crucial Catch: NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

NFL A Crucial Catch

Thanks again to the NFL for making A Crucial Catch.

The league’s A Crucial Catch campaign will conclude at the end of the month, and the NFL needs to be acknowledged for its support of this critical cause each October.

Media and fans have been quick to criticize the NFL for the botched manner in which it unintentionally handled some of the egregious off-field incidents of its players.

From the Josh Gordon suspension to the Ray Rice fiasco, America’s most successful professional sports league has been microscopically evaluated on every decision it’s made and action it’s undertaken.

Despite many valid criticisms, the NFL needs to be recognized for the positive social message it annually evangelizes on behalf of the American Cancer Society with its A Crucial Catch marketing campaign.

Since 2009, the NFL has designated October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and has actively promoted the distinct symbol of a pink ribbon entwined with its iconic logo.

During the month, NFL players are allowed to skirt the normally stringent NFL uniform standards by donning pink gloves, cleats and socks. The league also sells officially licensed NFL pink merchandise and even auctions off player gear to raise funds for cancer research.

By promoting the pink ribbon and encouraging players to wear pink apparel on the football field, the NFL has publicly, and admirably, promoted a most worthy social cause.

All 32 NFL teams actively participate in this month long promotion.

In partnership with the American Cancer Society, A Crucial Catch raises awareness for early detection of breast cancer for women 40+.

In the past three years, the NFL estimates that the A Crucial Catch message has educated 72,000 women, facilitated 10,000 free screenings and raised more than $7 million. And that’s good news from the NFL.

Though the NFL has made positive strides in promoting awareness for breast cancer with its A Crucial Catch campaign, the league can still do far more, not just with cancer education, but also with other serious social issues like domestic violence.

With Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appointment of several socially conscious, educated and successful women to his staff, expect more positive social change from the league.

With ubiquitous television coverage, the NFL can be a powerful force for awareness and change concerning the ugly issues that afflict far too many people in our society.

May the popularly accepted A Crucial Catch serve as the example of the an admirable public service campaign that the NFL has launched and serve as a harbinger for many more.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Sudden Death Overtime: Morbid Sports Expression

sudden death

It’s one of the most morbid expressions in sports.

Not only does it serve as a fitting blog during Halloween Week, but it also finds a sport in my sports comic book Deadly Sports Stuff.

Sudden Death Overtime is the designated period of time that follows after regulation time when the score of the game is still tied.

This added, tie-breaking time provides a knock-out stage in a game where the next score wins.

The NFL, NHL and PGA all have their versions of Sudden Death Overtime, while FIFA recently changed theirs to a new format only a few years ago.

New FIFA rules call for Sudden Death penalty kicks when two 15 minute periods and five regular penalty shots still result in a deadlocked match.

In other sports, the NHL playoffs have utilized Sudden Death Overtime since 1919.

In the PGA, when a tie calls for another 18 hole round, it’s always followed by a Sudden Death Overtime hole-by-hole playoff if the players are still tied.

In the NFL, a Sudden Death Overtime has recently been updated beginning with the 2011 playoffs.

When it comes to Sudden Death Overtime in any sport, one certain similarity remains; suspenseful, nail biting action is guaranteed to bring fans to the edge of their seats.

The threat of an abrupt ending to anything in life, especially in sports, always grabs our attention.

It certainly may be a callous and morbid way to describe the tie-breaking action to conclude a game.

However, all sports fans are magnetized by the excitement that comes out of Sudden Death Overtime.

For more “frightening or morbid” stories, click on the red cover below and safely download Deadly Sports Stuff from Amazon.

Deadly Sports Stuff

Enjoy the read.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Not Black Enough?

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Where is the public outcry?

Why hasn’t the media gotten to the bottom of the ugly accusation?

When will NFL commissioner Roger Goodell launch an investigation with the same vigor NBA commissioner Adam Silver demonstrated in dealing with the crass ignorance of Donald Sterling?

How come the Seattle Seahawks’ locker room has been given a free pass by fans, the press and the league office?

No penalty flags have been thrown, no booth reviews of player crudity have been scrutinized and no Seahawk players have been beckoned to the commissioner’s office to elaborate on their racist remark why they believe their star QB Russell Wilson isn’t black enough.

What an affront to not only Wilson, but to handsome, well-spoken and successful black men everywhere!

Per CBS Sports, Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman reported last week that the Seahawks’ locker room was in turmoil. He quoted unnamed sources that Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson was at fault for the team’s recent troubles because teammates said he was not black enough.

Not black enough? What exactly does that mean? Is there a level of black only standards that must be adhered and Wilson fell short of the bar? Was the comment directed at the actual hue of Wilson’s skin? Or, was the careless comment meant to address an unwritten and unspoken code of conduct, dress and language black men are required to follow to qualify as being black enough?

Furthermore, are there musical preferences that black men must strictly follow? Is there a certain denomination of church that black men must attend? Must black men only date women of one race and must they, too, be considered black enough? With whom can black men hang out? Can black athletes select agents or financial advisers of other races?

Freeman’s “not black enough” comment begs for follow up. It oozes with ugliness and screams for clarification. It demands dialogue no matter how uncomfortable it may be. It deserves to be unmasked, dissected and discussed. Most importantly, it must not be ignored.

However, few seem to care. Some Seattle players have already dismissed the racist comments as fictitious, a media ploy to divide a highly charged locker room struggling to deal with immense pressure of repeating as Super Bowl champs.

Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll deftly skirted the issue and downplayed any talk of his QB not being black enough.

But, as fans, as credentialed media and as an ever evolving culturally diverse melting pot known as America, should we tolerate this purported racist attitude within our nation’s most popular sport?

Absolutely not!

The only recognized media personality who weighed in on the Russell Wilson controversy was the always colorful NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. He was quoted.

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough,” Barkley said. “If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person.”

Thanks, Charles Barkley, for speaking up and speaking out against those who embrace thug culture and criticize others for not being “black enough.”

Russell Wilson is to be admired. He’s articulate, intelligent and poised. As a supposedly undersized QB, he’s defied historical NFL odds and broken stereotypes. He’s become huge as a leader, product spokesperson and team leader of a Super Bowl championship team.

Russell Wilson is a role model. He deserves better – from fans, from the NFL and most importantly from his teammates – no matter what race or shade of color some Seattle players think he is.

MIKE – thee ultimate head on sports!

NFL Halloween Highlight: Coffin Corner

coffin corner

Football’s Coffin Corner

Here’s a creepy sounding NFL highlight to kick off Halloween Week.

Wedged between the end zone pylon and the 5 yard line of any football field sits a small area of turf.

It’s cleverly called Coffin Corner.

Along with sudden death overtimes, suicide squeeze plays, killer curve balls, deadly three point shooters and linemen who bury quarterbacks, this phrase further supports my claim: The lethal language of sports is riddled with references to death.

Buried in the #9 spot of my sports comic Deadly Sports Stuff, Coffin Corner comes into play whenever a punter attempts to kick the football out of bounds between the 5 yard line and the end zone.

This risky directional kick can result in very bad field position for the receiving team. A successful Coffin Corner punt can dramatically limit the opposition’s field position by pinning their offense just outside its own end zone.

Oft overlooked, precise punters have proven to be valuable special team players for their squads.

Former NFL punters Sean Landeta and Jeff Feagles lasted 19 and 22 years, respectively, in the league because of incredible hang times on their punts and their skill to place punts in Coffin Corner. Feagles retired as the NFL’s greatest punter ever with 71,211 total yards.

In 2014, former Oakland Raiders Ray Guy will become the first punter ever to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Guy’s selection proves how valuable a great punter can be on a football team.

An opposing team starting a drive inside their own 5 yard line may never witness actual caskets at their end of the field.

However, a team’s bad field position may prove the kiss of death at a crucial time in the game when they desperately need good field position in order to start a drive.

That’s when Coffin Corner can be one of the deadliest places in a crucial NFL game.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Death Valley History: A Halloween Treat for NCAA Football Fans

Clemson's Death Valley

Clemson University Football Stadium

Resting peacefully in my book Deadly Sports Stuff is the name of one of college football’s most daunting places for visiting teams to play.

With Halloween less than a week away and key football games on tap today for both schools which call Death Valley home, check out this excerpt from one of my favorite sports comic books.

Two prominent universities lay claim to the mortal title. And both schools routinely spar over who owns the genuine birthright to their individual stadium’s deathly name.

Aptly named Death Valley, the first is Clemson University’s football stadium. It’s ironically situated between a cemetery on a hill and a plain with a valley beyond.

Clemson claims its stadium is the genuine Death Valley of college football because it can clearly identify the genesis of its deadly sounding name.

In 1948, former Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillian bemoaned the fact that his teams rarely scored and never won when playing in Clemson’s Death Valley.

McMillian’s comments hold true for most other NCAA FBS teams as well. Clemson’s Death Valley boasts a remarkable home field advantage.

It’s here that the Clemson Tigers have won an impressive 71% of their home games. It’s also where their boisterous 81,500 seat stadium reaches a deafening decibel level of 133db.

Death Valley is famous for Howard’s Rock. Named after legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard, this actual rock originated from Death Valley Park in California. It serves as a landmark in the stadium.

Since 1967, Clemson players and coaches have traditionally touched the rock before each game amid fireworks and a raucous crowd.

Opposing teams have often become intimidated while witnessing this amazing spectacle, acknowledged as one of the richest in college sports. The lore and legend of Death Valley causes these would-be rivals to succumb to the Tigers on their notoriously scary home field.

About 1,000 miles southwest of Clemson, SC stands the football home of the LSU Tigers. Coincidentally, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA is also known as Death Valley.

However, the birth of LSU’s Death Valley stadium remains a mystery to most fans. There exists no clear cut agreement on when and where LSU’s Death Valley moniker was originally coined.

Some fans attribute LSU’s Death Valley name to the local Baton Rouge dialect’s pronunciation of Deaf Valley, which, ironically, is a gas station situated next to the actual football stadium where LSU played.

Fans near the gas station not only remember that it was impossible to hear when games were played in the monstrous stadium located next to the Deaf Valley gas station, but they also recall few visiting teams ever won at LSU.

When Louisianans described this experience to others outside the state, they sounded as if they said Death Valley instead of Deaf Valley.

Their unique dialect transformed the “f” into a “th” sound as they did when saying breath as “breaf”.

Tiger Stadium, or LSU’s Death Valley, is just as tough a place to play as Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC.

LSU’s 95,542 seat stadium was named the scariest place to play in college football by ESPN in 2007, and the NCAA called it the loudest in FBS stadium in 2013.

Whether you believe LSU’s theory about the origination of its Death Valley or hold true to the media facts supported by Clemson’s claim, let’s agree on this one unwavering detail.

Both college stadiums are not only incredibly loud.

But, based on both schools’ impressive home winning records, they’re also metaphoric graveyards for opposing teams who come to visit either Death Valley.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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LA Lakers Steve Nash: Latest to Lose to Father Time

MIKE on Sports Badge

Two-time NBA MVP and Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash just learned first hand why Father Time is impossible to beat.

From time immemorial, the old man’s record remains unblemished and quietly he’s posted an unrivaled unbeaten record in every sport.

Though many athletes, including perennial all-stars like Nash, have risen to challenge him, no one has ever emerged victoriously.

A certain NBA Hall Fame inductee, Nash has struggled physically since signing with the Lakers two seasons ago. During his long and stellar career, Nash has played in 1,217 games and logged an incredible 38,069 minutes. However, in the past two years, he’s only suited up for 65 total games.

Since joining the Lakers, he’s painfully endured two injury riddled seasons. Chronic nerve damage in his back will sideline him for this year’s NBA campaign and likely force his retirement.

With the eight time all-star Nash now gone, Father Time still stands undefeated. And the old guy shows no sign of relinquishing his perfect record.

Incredulously, many like Nash have tried to defeat him, but none have ever prevailed. Father Time remains resolute. He’s strengthened by the knowledge that no one will ever beat him.

Despite their superiority in their sports, some like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan in the NBA and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the NFL still try. However, if they continue too long past their primes, their fates will inevitably mirror what Nash is currently experiencing.

As illustrious careers start to dim, some athletes insist on trudging on in a sport that they once so easily dominated. What are these aging athletes thinking when they go toe-to-toe with the ageless man named Father Time?

Are their egos that big? Has overweening pride clouded their thoughts? Did their own limelight disorient them? Sadly, too many pro athletes lose grasp of reality and continue to play the same sport after enjoying long, injury free, successful careers.

Many sports fans claim that their heroes’ egos always need to be tested. They argue that these stars possess an overwhelming unction to compete against the best – even if he’s Father Time himself.

That’s why they do what they do even when their actions seem confusing or foolhardy.

Take hockey icon Gordie Howe. He skated admirably against Father Time for five decades. But, he eventually lost, finding himself checked right off the ice at age 52.

How about New York Yankees great Mariano Rivera? At age 42, he continued giving it a whirl from the mound, too. Unfortunately, the pitcher suffered a debilitating achilles injury, probably influenced by Father Time himself. The injury closed out Rivera’s incredible career.

Ageless QB Brett Favre courageously fought Father Time in a brutal sport. Inevitably Favre succumbed to Father Time, suffering from chronic injuries and, more importantly, listening to common sense.

Even the indomitable Michael Jordan took a shot at the undefeated old man known as Father Time. Despite his former prowess, Jordan met the same consequence. Instead of the brilliant basketball player effortlessly rising above the rim, His Airness ultimately looked like a struggling, aging baller tethered to the hardwood floor below.

Sadly, our sports heroes eventually display their humanity. Living on athletic borrowed time, these proven athletes can no longer outrace their fleeting mortality.

Tomfoolery beckons many to continue. It constantly woos them into believing they will be the first to defeat Father Time.

They may be confused to believe the endless adulation from fans as well as the poppycock of their own purported immortality in sports.

But, they’re even more foolish to think they can prevail against undefeated and universally unchallenged Father Time.

Steve Nash just learned this lesson first hand. May he enjoy retirement and prosper in his next endeavor.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: 1927 New York Yankees Murderers’ Row

1927 New York Yankees Row

As we enjoy baseball’s World Series this week and prepare for Halloween next week, it’s only fitting that I recall this scary sports reference.

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the greatest and frightening World Series champions ever – the 1927 New York Yankees also known as Murderers’ Row.

Baseball historians have called the 1927 New York Yankees the best Major League Baseball team ever.

Yet, back in the 1920s, fans, opposing players and the media that covered them referred to the key members of this frightening, famed squad as Murderers’ Row.

With a chilling name like that, it’s easy to see why I booked these baseball “murderers” in the #1 spot of my sports comic book available on Amazon called Deadly Sports Stuff.

Deadly Sports Stuff

The first six batters in the Yankees’ line-up (no pun intended) in 1927 posted the most staggering statistics ever witnessed during a single Major League Baseball season.

The Murderers’ Row batters simply killed opposing pitchers. Their dizzying numbers included a remarkable .307 team batting average, a whopping .489 slugging percentage and an incredible 975 total runs scored. That’s 371 more runs than the teams they faced.

The Yankees easily ran away with the American League pennant that year by a 19 game margin with a 110 – 44 record. They also swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series.

As a team, the 1927 New York Yankees were written about in a 1962 book entitled Murderers’ Row and were featured in a 1966 film by the same name. The team’s amazing 1927 performance included stellar individual seasons by American League Most Valuable Player Lou Gehrig who hit .373 and drove in an MLB record 175 runs.

That same year Babe Ruth posted similar MVP numbers. Ruth batted an impressive .356, batted in 164 runs, belted a league record 60 home runs and recorded the highest slugging percentage ever at .772. League rules barred him from being included in the 1927 MVP voting because he had won the same award the previous year.

A list of other “murderers” in the 1927 New York Yankees line-up contributed mightily to the team’s overpowering success. These players also had eye-popping batting averages. Earle Combs batted .356, Mark Koenig .285, Tony Lazzeri .309 and Bob Muesel .337.

Along with their manager Miller Huggins and pitchers Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, Ruth, Gehrig, Combs and Lazzeri were all inducted into Cooperstown.

The 1927 Murderers’ Row continued their tormenting ways for a second season. It resulted in their sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1928 World Series.

In 1927, the death knell may have come quickly on the baseball diamond to those pitchers who faced them. However, this super team of New York Yankees lives on in baseball lore.

It’s arguably the best team ever.

With a team nickname as frightening and deadly as the line-up that comprised it, the 1927 New York Yankees, also known as Murderers’ Row, is home run for today’s #TBT sports blog.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Worst About Sports: “Sports” That Really Aren’t Sports

Rudolf Wanderone Minnesota Fats

Pool hustler Minnesota Fats

Calling “sports” sports that really aren’t sports is without question my number one peeve about what’s worst about sports!

The list of these non-sports sports is far longer than it needs to be.

It spotlights roaring races, organized parlor games and quirky contests that involve little or no athletic ability.

Skill and discipline are evidently involved, but none of an athletic nature.

Yet, these non-sports sports are openly called sports by major sports media outlets.

These non-sports are packaged and marketed like the real deal on ESPN and the other major sports networks. They’re treated with the same respect as real sports played by accomplished athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS.

That’s why the subject of non-sports claims the #4 spot in my FREE sports comic book Worst About Sports.

FREE Worst About Sports

This mix of non-sports sports shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as actual sports like football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, boxing and Olympic sports.

However, entertaining games, races and contests like NASCAR, bowling, poker, sailing, pool, curling and others don’t qualify as sports.

A prerequisite to qualify as a real sport should be sweating and breathing heavily while engaged in actual physical, athletic competition that you’ve trained for since your Little League, Pop Warner or biddy league basketball days.

Sure, I respect what non-sports sports’ participants do and applaud them for pursuing their passion for their game, race or contest.

But, I’m sorry. No one can convince that a NASCAR driver, PBA bowler or sunglass wearing poker players are athletes.

Worse yet, I’ll never accept skinny Norwegian glee club members clad in red, white and blue argyle pants swooshing brooms across an ice skating rink as genuine Olympic athletes. Olympic participants yes, but Olympic athletes no!

The sport of curling, like bowling, sailing, poker and pool, scandalously skirts the sanctity of real sports by not requiring the remotest semblance of athleticism.

If you want to argue my point, just look at the comic of Minnesota Fats that starts this chapter.

Now there’s a “real athlete” playing a “real sport” for you!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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LA Lakers Feeling Kobe Bryant’s Black Mamba Bite

NBA star Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers are now finding out that Kobe Bryant’s, or the Black Mamba’s bite, is a lot worse than they ever imagined.

In Henry Abbott’s lengthy, unflattering piece in this week’s ESPN The Magazine, the columnist portrays Kobe Bryant as the seismic fault line in the Southern California team’s foundation.

And, few NBA insiders differ with his assessment.

Abbott writes about Bryant, “He is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Lakers’ franchise. He is also destroying it from within.”

Another NBA reporter commented in the ESPN piece. “Peek behind the banners,” says one longtime NBA agent, “and it’s rotten.”

Abbott’s detailed analysis of Bryant’s negative impact focuses on how the Black Mamba has snake bitten the Los Angeles franchise.

Abbott points at Bryant for not only gobbling up a disproportionate percentage of the Lakers’ salary cap by agreeing to a two year $48 million contract. But, the ESPN writer also accuses Bryant of chasing away potential marquee free agent signings because of their unwillingness to team up with Kobe on the LA stage.

Other anonymous agents have reluctantly confirmed Abbott’s assertions that Bryant has unwittingly torpedoed the Lakers’ efforts to sign top free agents, like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh and Paul George) to play along side the fourth best scorer in NBA history. Simply, these NBA stars don’t want to play with the aging Bryant, now listed 40th in a recent poll of NBA players.

Unfortunately, NBA fans are also growing weary of the negativity surrounding Bryant and are now finding out what NBA players, coaches, agents and media have always known – the Black Mamba is as biting, underhanded and lethal as his namesake suggests.

So, you may think I’m a Kobe basher, unfair and too harsh in my critique? Read a quote from another NBA agent.

“I’ve had a lot of clients in the last five years, good players, who didn’t want to play with Kobe,” says an agent who has had numerous NBA stars. “They see that his teammates become the chronic public whipping boys. Anyone who could possibly challenge Kobe for the spotlight ends up becoming a pincushion for the media. Even Shaq.”

Just ask Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol or Smush Parker who all sought one-way tickets out of LAX and aren’t expecting Christmas cards from their former teammate.

The Lakers have lived by Kobe Bryant and now they are wilting, nearly dying, because of Kobe Bryant. As the 36-year-old former superstar’s level of play has declined, so has the Lakers winning percentage from .695 to .621 to .549 to a woeful .329 last season.

This year may not be much better. With no other top NBA talent on its roster, the Lakers will once again struggle to reach the playoffs. ESPN currently ranks the team 28th overall in its latest poll.

The purple and gold seem as if they’re spiraling into an NBA vortex with no immediate reconstruction plan in sight. With five coaches in four years and an aging superstar’s tail wagging the franchise dog, the free fall will certainly continue.

Abbott’s pointed ESPN expose has proven that the Black Mamba’s bite has been far more painful on the franchise’s future than any Los Angeles Lakers faithful could have ever envisaged.

Ouch!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning Breaks NFL Record

NFL QB Peyton Manning

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning

Two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and current Denver Broncos’ General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway and 76,273 fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium sprung to their feet and cheered.

Millions of fans watching at home more than likely followed suit. Regardless of team affiliation, every football fan had to join in the celebration and gush with admiration and respect for an incomparable quarterback accomplishing an incredible feat.

With about three minutes remaining in the second quarter of last night’s game between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, iconic QB Peyton Manning connected with WR Demaryius Thomas on his NFL record setting 509th touchdown pass.

Manning’s 8-yard strike enabled him to surpass Brett Favre as the all-time touchdown leader in NFL history. The 38-year-old Manning needed 246 games to reach this milestone, 56 fewer than Favre.

However, only a few years ago it seemed unlikely that Manning would be able to bask in such a big night. He shared openly, “I’ve discussed with some family and friends recently that [I] certainly didn’t think this would even be a possibility a couple of years ago.”

Amazingly, potential career ending neck surgery cast doubt on the elite QB’s future less than three years ago. However, serious spinal fusion seemed to infuse new life and greater purpose into a QB who had already proven himself over and over again as a winner and indomitable competitor on the football field.

Since returning from surgery, Manning has defied logic, silenced critics and lit up scoreboards. He’s started all 38 games since joining the Broncos and has performed brilliantly, albeit for one blowout Super Bowl loss less than a year ago.

Last night, his record breaking night could not have been better scripted. Playing on Sunday Night Football against a formidable foe, Manning enjoyed an epic moment that may never have happened, but for magnificent medical care, a little luck and the grace of God.

I loved watching the genuine reaction of teammates, coaches, officials, fans and even competitors to Manning’s historic night.

Following Manning’s 509th TD, the surprise game of keep away by Broncos’ receivers Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas served as an exclamation point in paying homage to an exceptional athlete, expertly prepared QB and fun loving teammate.

The Denver receivers proved successful at keeping the ball away from the record breaking QB.

But, their playful game stood in stark contrast to that of opposing teams who’ve been unsuccessful at keeping Manning out of the end zone – now 510 times and counting!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Another Jameis Winston “Signature” Win for FSU QB

MIKE Vintage logo

Another Jameis Winston “signature” win for Florida State last night mitigated the star QB’s latest controversy surrounding purported NCAA “autograph” violations.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner was brilliant against a stout Notre Dame defense when the Seminoles needed him most in the second half. Amazingly, he excelled once again in the midst of the latest cause célèbre he brought upon himself and his university.

The QB led the #2 ranked team in the nation to its 23rd straight victory by besting the #5 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 31 – 27 before 82,000+ fans at Doak Campbell Stadium’s Bobby Bowden Field in Tallahassee, FL.

The Seminoles remained unbeaten with a little luck normally reserved for the Irish. An Everett Golson 2-yard touchdown pass to Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson on the game’s last play was nullified due to an offensive pass interference call.

Though some fans, especially Fighting Irish faithful, may dispute the game defining call, no one would argue that Florida State’s good fortune loomed large on a national stage once again last night.

Plus, few, except diehard Seminole backers, would disagree that the Seminoles’ “teflon QB” proved for what seems like the umpteenth time that self-imposed problems may circle around Winston. But,  they never preclude him from shining when the spotlight is brightest, the pressure hottest and the public criticism most stringent.

I’m amazed at the 20-year-old’s poise under immense pressure and his excellence on the football field in light of his lack of common sense and simple maturity away from it.

Because of his poor decisions and checkered off field behavior, I am not a Jameis Winston fan. Sure, he can really play.

However, petty thievery, vile language in a public setting, reckless behavior with a bb gun and the unsavory rape accusation have sullied my opinion of the certain first round NFL draft pick.

In spite of the aforementioned black eyes he’s foisted upon Florida State and in light of his recent “autograph” brouhaha, the reigning Heisman winner and national champion QB proved his brilliance last night against a formidable component with another “signature” win.

Now, that’s a win worth writing home about.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NCAA College Football’s Scary RB Called The Earthquake

Earthquake Bill Enyart

Oregon State RB Earthquake Bill Enyart

As college football fans tune into the tube today with Halloween quickly approaching, I thought this flashback was fitting.

Today’s blog is a chapter from my FREE book Scary Sports Comics and features a frightening running back named Earthquake.

Few college football fans outside Oregon have heard of thunderous running back Bill Enyart who played during the 1960s.

A Richter Scale rating was never formally attached to this football playing Earthquake. However, would-be tacklers have never forgotten the terrifying magnitude of their collisions on the field with bruising running back Bill Enyart.

Oregon State University Sports Information Director John Eggers originally nicknamed Bill Enyart Earthquake when the big, fast and powerful 6’3″ and 245 lb. converted linebacker starred for the Beavers. He regularly churned through defenders with the ground breaking force of shifting tectonic plates.

The NFL has popularized cleverly named and immensely talented individual players like The Nigerian Nightmare, Mean Joe Green and Jack Hacksaw Reynolds.

If not for his career ending knee injury, the rugged, scary and appropriately named Earthquake Bill Enyart, would have been another one of pro football’s cleverly named seismic stars.

The Earthquake is one of 25 sports comics and accompanying short stories featured in Scary Sports Comics.

Safely download the FREE book by clicking on the title above.

Enjoy the read.

Boo!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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October: Best Time of Year to be a Sports Fan

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October always ranks as the best time of the year to be a sports fan.

The breadth of exciting games across multiple sports on television doesn’t get any better at any other time of the year.

Summer is officially over and some sports fans find it impossible to break away from their televisions and venture outside.

Wise sports fans add new batteries to their remotes, stock up their refrigerators with necessary beverages and snacks and make certain that all essential household duties are complete before planting themselves comfortably before their big screens.

Temptations to consider alternative forms of entertainment are quickly dismissed. That’s because everything a serious sports fan needs is available in stunning HDTV clarity in the comfort of his living room or man cave.

Simply, October for sports spectators offers a cornucopia of non-stop entertainment, not to be replicated at any other time of the year.

Here are some examples:

After the Major League Baseball ALCS and NLCS champions are determined, baseball fans enjoy the highlight of their season- the World Series.

Even though the Fall Classic may top the sports network ratings charts, professional baseball isn’t the only game in town to watch on the tube.

By late October each year, NCAA basketball is getting started, while NCAA football nears fever pitch as few unbeatens remain, perennial powerhouses jockey for position in the polls and Heisman hopefuls display their mettle.

Plus, all five professional leagues can be ubiquitously found on television. That’s because MLS, MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL are either swinging into high gear or launching new seasons.

Major League Soccer action is at its peak. Contending teams vie for the last remaining playoff spots.

Nightly NBA and NHL preseason games tempt fans of what to expect in each league’s pending campaign. If hockey or hoops are in your blood, then viewing these preseason contests is obligatory.

And lastly, NFL games and news dominate headlines. From Sunday Night Football to Monday Night Football to Thursday Night Football to comprehensive Sunday coverage, NFL fans are inundated with highlights, injury updates as well as pregame and postgame analysis on ESPN, FOX Sports 1 and the NFL Network.

October may be the highlight of the year for those who love cooler temperatures, changing colors of leaves or trick or treating.

But, for fans, October is universally known as the best time of the year for the most comprehensive coverage of sports on television.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Mr. October Reggie Jackson

Mr. October Reggie Jackson

MLB Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson

Today’s #TBT sports blog looks back on the incredible Fall Classic exploits of Mr. October Reggie Jackson.

This Hall of Fame baseball slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees.

He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

However, Reggie Jackson flourished on the baseball field during the fall. That’s when he earned his nickname Mr. October.

Yankee teammate Thurmon Munson first used the title when questioned during the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Munson told a reporter to interview Jackson. He referred to the Yankee right fielder’s history of fantastic post-season games and said, “Go ask Mr. October.”

A 1999 Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee, Reginald Martinez Jackson enjoyed a stellar 21-year Major League Baseball career. He retired in 1987. Jackson was a 14-time All-Star who hit 563 dingers, drove in 1,702 runs and batted .262 with 2,584 total hits.

The 1973 American League MVP also had his number 9 jersey retired in Oakland and his number 44 jersey retired in New York. Pretty great accomplishments, indeed!

A clutch hitting right fielder, Jackson had the ability to perform his best during post-season play. Mr. October ranks as the only baseball player ever to be named World Series Most Valuable Player for two different teams. Jackson first won the award in 1973 with the Oakland A’s. He won it again in 1977 with the New York Yankees.

Jackson’s World Series numbers are incredible. In 27 Fall Classic appearances, Mr. October belted 10 home runs, drove in 24 runs and batted an impressive .357. He won five world titles. In the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three consecutive first pitch home runs off of three different Dodger hurlers.

Baseball fans will never forget this amazing Oakland A’s and New York Yankees’ right fielder and his Fall Classic heroics.

In a Boys of Summer sport, this Hall of Fame star rightfully earned his fitting autumn nickname – Mr. October.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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25 Years Ago Today: Wayne Gretzky Becomes All-Time NHL Scorer

The Great One Wayne Gretzky

The NHL Great One Wayne Gretzky

25 years ago today, hockey’s Wayne Gretzky, simply known as The Great One, surpassed another hockey legend Gordie Howe as the most prolific scorer in NHL history.

On the anniversary of that momentous event, allow me to share an excerpt from my sports comic book Hockey Favorites about one of the most amazing athletes ever, no matter what the sport.

…..Regardless of the sport, the subject of great games, great teams and great players always triggers debate.

However, no one will argue that only one great athlete could lay claim to this title – The Great One.

Wayne Gretzky’s amazing NHL success may never be duplicated. His Great One nickname may never be challenged by any player in any sport at any time.

Legendary NHL players like Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Phil Esposito may have excelled and even dominated during their careers. But, their hockey achievements pale in comparison to those of Wayne Gretzky’s.

The Great One’s hockey dominance dwarfs not just NHL Hall of Famers, but celebrated athletes in other professional sports as well.

He’s my undisputed choice at #1 in all-time Hockey Favorites.

Hockey favorites

The 6’ tall and 185 lb. Canadian won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player an unbelievable nine times.

Gretzky completed his career as the all-time leader in nearly every statistical and awards category.

This is an accomplishment that gods of other sports, like Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Lionel Messi, Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Tom Brady, will never come close to achieving.

The Great One shattered Phil Esposito’s record 76 goals in a season by putting the puck in the net an unheard of 92 times.

Gretzky also totaled 212 total points in a single season, one of four times he surpassed the remarkable 200 point mark.

No athlete in any professional league has ever dominated his sport like Wayne Gretzky reigned over hockey.

Gretzky’s career leaves no sports fan to doubt that this amazing hockey player will always be the only athlete known by the deserved lofty label – The Great One.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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ESPN MNF Remembers St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf

Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams

The NFL Greatest Show on Turf

More than 100 years ago P.T. Barnum, James Anthony Bailey and the Ringling Brothers built their famous traveling circus into the world’s greatest entertainment event. Traveling about the country under a big top tent, it was coined the Greatest Show on Earth.

These circus masters could never have guessed that a century later, an NFL team from the Midwest would borrow most of their nickname.

The St. Louis Rams did just that. They played their games on Astroturf under a modern day big top known as the Edward R. Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO. The Rams’ fast and entertaining style of play on the football field gave new meaning to the original traveling circus nickname Greatest Show on Earth.

The electrifying Rams were honored yesterday in St. Louis. Head Coach Dick Vermeil and several dozen players were on hand to recall their incredible football exploits from 15 years ago.

Last night on Monday Night Football, the current Rams sported the same uniforms the players on the Super Bowl XXXIV winning team wore. The bright blue and yellow jerseys sparked recollections of the team’s incredible season.

Chris Berman once remarked on ESPN in 2000, “Forget Ringling Brothers: the Rams are the Greatest Show on Earth.” After that, a new and faster moving traveling circus emerged – this time in sports.

Berman’s comment was soon changed to Greatest Show on Turf because of the artificial surface, or turf, in the Edward R. Jones Dome.

The Astroturf greatly increased the speed of the Rams’ already speedy receivers Tory Holt, Isaac Bruce, Ricky Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakin, and star running back and 2000 NFL MVP Marshall Faulk.

Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz expertly called plays for two-time NFL MVP QB Kurt Warner. The QB masterfully directed the Rams’ passing game that ESPN.com Page Two named the best NFL offense of all time.

With the accurate Warner at QB, the Rams set NFL total yardage and passing records. They also scored 500 or more points in three consecutive seasons, still a league record.

Warner’s pinpoint passing on precision timing patterns to blazing receivers made them un-coverable, especially on Astroturf.

Warner’s throwing ability and the Rams’ talented wide-outs led the team to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory in 2000.

Circus legends P.T. Barnum, James Anthony Bailey and the Ringling Brothers might have created the original Greatest Show on Earth.

But, NFL football fans will always remember the exciting traveling troupe known as the St. Louis Rams.

With Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and speedy receivers performing under the lights of the Edward R. Jones Dome, the Rams will always be known in sports lore as the Greatest Show on Turf.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant Injured

OKC forward Kevin Durant KD35Trey

NBA All-Star Kevin Durant

Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant carries two of the more colorful nicknames in sports.

The clever Slim Reaper and Durantula monikers have not only paid homage to Durant’s uncanny basketball ability, but they have also carried a foreboding peril for those who face the Oklahoma City star on the basketball court.

Sadly, with yesterday’s unexpected news, both catchy names now unwittingly portend peril for Durant’s immediate basketball future.

OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti announced that Durant will miss at least six to eight weeks due to a Jones fracture in his right foot. Surgery is scheduled for this week, and Durant will be more than likely miss 19 games.

Few NBA fans foresaw this grim news coming for the beloved Slim Reaper. Even fewer expected the surprising sting of Presti’s announcement that will sideline an indispensable player known as the Durantula who has only missed 16 games in his brilliant seven year career.

Durant’s injury report startled NBA observers, especially in light of his stepping away from Team USA this summer in order to rest and heal his taxed body that logged an NBA most 3,122 minutes last season.

The somber news signals an uncertain future for both Durant as well as the OKC franchise. Other NBA players Brook Lopez, Glen Davis and C.J. McCollum suffered the same Jones fracture and missed considerable time away from the court. Lopez required a second surgery and had to sit out the entire season.

The Thunder cannot afford to be without its star. The resilient team has excelled in recent years in spite of injuries to two key other players at the most inopportune times.

Durant carried his Thunder squad the past two seasons while All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and All-NBA defensive standout Serge Ibaka were limited due to injury.

Certainly, the Thunder has shown grit and determination the past couple injury marred seasons. However, without Durant in the line up, success will not be as assured as when KD35 is on the court.

Simply, no matter how grim or stinging it sounds, there is simply no replacement for the fabulous Durant in an OKC uniform.

Here’s wishing Kevin Durant a speedy, total recovery.

Like all NBA fans, the game is simply more entertaining and exciting to watch with the Slim Reaper and Durantula on the court.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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My All-Time NFL Favorites Sports Comic Book

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Here’s a look back at Volume 1 of the MIKE Sports Comic Book Series featuring my all-time NFL Favorites.

These football favorites include six famous players, three legendary teams and the single greatest play in NFL history.

My choices may not all be Hall of Fame players; however, they have all earned a spot in this book for their positive impact on the sport or lasting legacy with football fans, most notably me.

The three teams on my list have always been fan favorites.

The Dallas Cowboys, or America’s Team, introduced clever formations on both sides of the ball more than 30 years ago that most NFL teams still utilize today.

The St. Louis Rams, or Greatest Show on Turf, brought new meaning to the circus term “greatest show on earth” for their unprecedented offensive production under the modern day big top known as the Edward R. Jones Dome.

And, the NFL’s only community based franchise, the Green Bay Packers, top off my list of NFL Favorites because of their championship success and the intense loyalty of their Cheese Head fan base.

In addition, this book chronicles former stars and current NFL play makers who have become household names.

You’ll read about a quick, but sure handed Slot Machine and a future Hall of Fame quarterback who routinely passes for huge numbers.

You’ll smile as you recall the immensely (in more ways than one) popular defensive tackle and fullback known as The Refrigerator.

And, you’ll admire two Hall of Famers who never shied away from the spotlight on the biggest of stages – Prime Time and Broadway Joe.

Lastly, the heavenly heave from 40 years ago during an NFL Playoff Game still ranks as the most incredible moment in NFL history.

Plus, each of my top 10 NFL Favorites includes a special sports comic that captures the nickname of the player, team or play.

In addition to the comics, I include a little history in each chapter about my selection and explain why I chose it for NFL Favorites.

NFL Favorites

I’m certain you’ll enjoy my picks. And, email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com with your own favorite football choices.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NFL WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson Listed as Doubtful

NFL receiver Calvin Johnson

Detroit Lions’ WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson

NBC Sports’ Mike Florio listed Detroit Lions WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson as doubtful for Sunday’s NFC Central game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Johnson missed the entire week of practice after displaying an inability to plant and cut on an aggravated ankle during last week’s Lions loss against the Buffalo Bills in which he had only one catch.

However, no NFL fan has ever doubted Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s incredible ability and well documented toughness during his eight year career. Surprisingly, the All-Pro WR has only missed eight total games.

Following the 2013 season, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson and DE Ndamukong Suh were voted as the most feared players in the NFL, according to an ESPN.com survey of 320 players.

Upon learning about the physical struggles of the amazing Lions wide out last season, Johnson immediately earned my vote, and probably those of the same 320 NFL players polled by ESPN, as the most respected player in the league.

Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew commented on his star receiver’s ailments following surgeries to #81’s knee and finger.

“Johnson played the entire season with a finger really that was pointing perpendicular from his body. He tried to catch the ball like that. He would never complain about that, but certainly that was a factor, I think, in the way he played.”

In spite of injuries that would sideline most other players, Johnson lived up to his clever Megatron nickname. The 6’5” and 245 lb. wide receiver played as if built like titanium. He also demonstrated that, in spite of his nagging injuries, he could regularly transform himself, like the Hasbro robot for which he was named, into the NFL’s most dynamic and feared offensive player.

Knee and finger surgeries may have contributed to his injured riddled 2013 campaign. But, Megatron still posted impressive numbers: 84 catches, 1,492 receiving yards and 12 TD catches. His 4.3 second speed and 44” vertical leaping ability enabled him to easily soar over frustrated defensive backs unable to guard him.

However, what impresses me most about the high flying Megatron is his consummate professionalism on and off the field. I never hear him complain. Nor does he ever make excuses that his lingering ailments limited his always expected electric performances on the football field.

Calvin Johnson gets my vote for most respected NFL player. In a star powered position that usually attracts double team defensive coverage as well as intense media scrutiny, the Lions star set a new standard for the wide out position that normally induces narcissistic personalities.

Most NFL fans grumble at the tantalizing talent, raw athleticism and elusive speed of wide-mouthed wide-outs like Dez Bryant, Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson.

But, let’s face it.

Who is really going to miss the boorish behavior, petty pouting, childish on-field antics and tiresome, off-field self-promotion of those football divas?

When you’ve got a guy like Calvin Johnson, it’s easy to cheer for Megatron who’s easily transformed the wide out position in the NFL.

Let him sit this weekend and rest his ankle and other assorted injuries because fans want to see a healthy Megatron lead his Lions team deep into this year’s NFL Playoffs.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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