2 Cent Tuesday: Ice Cube’s BIG3 Basketball

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog weighs in on the newly launched Ice Cube inspired sports league cleverly named BIG3 Basketball.

The appropriately named BIG3 Basketball League combines rapper, actor, entrepreneur Ice Cube’s concept of former “big time” NBA players playing competitive 3 on 3 half-court games.

When learning about the BIG3’s debut, the hoops junkie in me just had to watch coverage of the games on FOX Sports.

Last night, I finally got my chance, and I was certainly entertained, but not how you might think. Basketball purists were probably mildly offended, but sports minded entertainment seekers were certainly satisfied.

Checking out the BIG3 action served up all the predictable, but entertaining content of Ice Cube’s top movies: Fist Fight, Ride Along and Barbershop.

Not Oscar worthy flicks, but the new BIG3 production was definitely worth watching especially if you’re a round ball fan.

The BIG3 Play Was Sloppy, But…

The quality of play and level of athleticism most commonly attributed to basketball players with NBA resumes was underwhelming.

The BIG3 play was sloppy, the players’ skill level had noticeably waned and the physicality of the games was ponderously ugly at times. Some players even failed to recognize the nuances of the 3 on 3 games for their advantage.

And, most of the players were big, much bigger physically than during their heyday. Most now tip the scales generously above their last known NBA playing weight. Yet, they still displayed a passion for the game and offered plenty of off-the-cuff remarks within earshot of microphones eager to pick up their comments.

Thankfully, no future Hall of Famers or recent All-Pro players suited up, thus keeping my fond memories of those legends safely in check.

However, former NBA “stars” now highly coveted BIG3 picks comprised the BIG3 rosters on display last night as they tussled with fellow former pros.

A much chubbier Rashad McCants was clearly the star of last night’s quadruple header. He dominated from the perimeter as well as off the dribble.

A heavier and greyed Cuttino Mobley showed little mobility, but still offered a whole bunch of scoring skill.

A very girthy Lee Nailon was even more unrecognizable in a BIG3 uniform than he was when few fans once knew him in an NBA jersey.

Former first pick in the NBA Draft Kwame Brown showed off the same raw athleticism with little accompanying skill as he did in a Lakers uniform.

And, a super-sized and absurdly immobile Michael Sweetney looked totally gassed after just a few half court possessions.

Congratulations to Ice Cube on BIG3 League

Congratulations to Ice Cube and his team for creating a buzz of excitement around the newly minted BIG3 league.

Though the level of play failed to meet my expectations, the quality of entertainment value exceeded them.

Last night’s electric atmosphere at the University of Illinois at Chicago reminded me of watching great summer pick-up games with friends at the local park. The buzz seemed palpable and the authenticity of the audience was genuine. Quite simply, people were having fun.

As a couch bound viewer, I was entertained by Ice Cube’s BIG3 Basketball games in the same vein as witnessing a WWE bout.

For example:

I laughed when I immediately noticed how Brian Scalabrine barely squeezed into his BIG3 team uniform.

I chuckled as I watched a chubby cheeked Allen Iverson actually attempt to coach his team. Imagine that? Allen Iverson coaching!

I grimaced when a few talentless players struggled to draw iron from the 3 point line or whiffed like cape wielding matadors attempting to guard their opponents.

I winced when I saw former NBA bully Kenyon Martin enter the game and get into a scrum on his very first possession and proceed to unnecessarily jaw about it for the next several possessions.

And, I covered my eyes when the refs swallowed their whistles and allowed a slug fest to take place on just about every possession.

However, I watched all four games last night and went to bed grinning.

Ice Cube’s new entertainment endeavor made me smile.

The same swarms of people normally seen at Las Vegas prize fights came out in style in Chicago. Chance the Rapper, Minister Farakkan, legendary Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys Rick Mahorn and Mark Aguirre, wormy Michael Rappaport, actresses, street hoods, oddsmakers, playground wanna-bees, wives, girlfriends, former mistresses and basketball lovers of all shapes, sizes and colors were in attendance.

The play may have left me wanting.

But, the sense of a developing new community, a desire for a new basketball fraternity, a chance for folks of all kinds to be seen, a profound love for an ever evolving game and the overall entertainment value of Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball made me a fan.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

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MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Fans Are On Their Feet

MRO 37 Fans on FeetToday’s Friday Sports Funny lampoons the common sports expression: “the fans are on their feet.”

My post’s comic depicts what sports fans witness at nearly every game in every sport.

Rabid fans acknowledge their team’s exemplary play.

For example:

In the NBA, Golden State fans are passionate for their Warriors, and they have transformed Oracle Arena into the loudest in the NBA.

In the NFL, Cheeseheads are crazy for their Packers. Amazingly, the waiting list for Green Bay season tickets exceeds 100,000 and Packer Backers sell out Lambeau Field even during the harshest of winter weather.

In Major League Baseball, New Englanders fill up Fenway for their beloved Boston Red Sox. The iconic park holds the record for 820 consecutive sell-outs which ended back in 2013.

In the NHL, New York Rangers faithful religiously cram Madison Square Garden to root on their beloved home town team.

And, in FIFA play, rabid Bayern Munich fans pack stadiums and belt out their team song. It’s no wonder why Bayern Munich is mentioned in the same breath as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea as one of the world’s greatest clubs.

Much like diehards from Northern California, Green Bay, Boston, New York and Munich, this comic captures similar enthusiasm, while it lampoons the notion of actual fans rising to their feet.

A figurative family of fans – box, portable, ceiling and oscillating – are all on their feet rooting on their favorite home team.

In addition, this silly comic is one of 25 sports comics I include in my FREE ebook Clever Sports Comics. 

MIKE Vol 7 CleverJust click on the purple cover above to safely download this FREE sports comic book. Also, email me any suggestions of sports comics that I can include my future sports comic books.

Enjoy the read and feel free to share the pdf of the book with others.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: MLB’s Wizard of Oz Ozzie Smith

Former St. Louis Cardinals' Ozzie SmithToday’s #TBT sports blog features one of my favorite MLB players ever – former St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Ozzie The Wizard of Oz Smith.

If Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow were baseball fans, they’d be off to find Major League Baseball’s wonderful Wizard of Oz. He played not too far from the Gateway Arch in the old Busch Memorial Stadium in St, Louis, MO.

Ozzie Smith’s incredibly quick reflexes, unparalleled aptitude with his glove and accurate arm contributed to his magical, wizard like play at shortstop. Smith’s skills made him a most worthy recipient of his clever Wizard of Oz nickname.

The Wizard of Oz is Also Featured in Favorite Sports Nicknames on Amazon

The Wizard of Oz is also included in the #19 spot in my sports comic book titled Favorite Sports Nicknames available for only 99 cents on Amazon.

Osbourne Earl “Ozzie” Smith retired in 1996 as arguably the greatest shortstop in Major League Baseball history. A 1982 World Series champ with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozzie Smith ended his stellar 19 year career as the all-time leader in career assists (8,375) and double plays by a shortstop (1,590). The “Wizard of Oz” also set a National League record of 2,511 consecutive starts at his position.

The 5’10” and 175 lb. magician with a glove captured the National League Gold Glove Award an unprecedented 13 years in a row. He was named National League all-star shortstop an incredible 15 times.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame Inductee: Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz’s defensive brilliance, coupled with an impressive 2,460 career hits and a lifetime .262 batting average, enabled him to whisk down baseball’s proverbial “yellow brick road” directly into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2002.

The St. Louis Cardinals retired Ozzie Smith’s #1 jersey in 1996. The Sporting News recognized his amazing defensive play and 2,000+ career hits by naming him #87 on its list of the top 100 greatest baseball players ever.

Baseball fans everywhere, even Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow would do back flips of excitement, just like the Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith, while watching this dazzling Wizard of Oz perform on the baseball field in St. Louis.

Remembering the Wizard of Oz in today’s #TBT sports blog is as easy as Ozzie Smith handling a ground ball from his shortstop position in a Cardinals’ uniform.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Hey, Sports Fans, Happy National Hot Dog Day!

Racing Weenies at Miller Park in MilwaukeeHey, sports fans! Get out your mustard, ketchup and relish.

It’s time to celebrate.

Today, July 19th, is annual National Hot Dog Day.

That’s right! Sports fans get to lift their glasses of iced tea and lemonade or even raise a bottle of their favorite adult beverage and toast the undisputed king of packaged meats – the hot dog.

Sure, it’s self-serving that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council originally spearheaded this annual monthly celebration. But, what sports fan, or non-vegetarian American can’t applaud the council’s ambitious yearly promotion and prudent market awareness campaign?

Not just sports fans, but Americans of every shape, size, color and creed love their tube steaks. From time to time, even ultra health conscious individuals can;t resist 100% natural hot dogs with zero preservatives and no nitrates.

Americans Consume 8 Billion Hot Dogs a Tear

According to www.hot-dog.org , Americans typically consume 7 billion, yes 7 billion, hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. That’s 818 hot dogs every second!

Dating back hundreds of years, Vienna and Frankfurt may still dispute the genesis of the beloved hot dog.

However, these famous franks have undoubtedly become the American sports fan’s favorite food at the ballpark for more than a century.

And, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council boast the numbers prove it.

Major League Baseball alone sold a staggering 21 million hot dogs in 2014, while Los Angeles surpassed all other US cities with a total consumption of 39 million hot dogs.

Whether consuming a chili dog, corn dog, cheese dog or foot long ball park hot dog with other toppings, the average America noshes on 60 frankfurters per year, making condiment companies French’s and Heinz happy, too!

The hot dog has always ranked as the top food choice at ball park concession stands across America since introduced in 1901 at a baseball game at the old New York Polo Grounds. Sports cartoonist Tad Morgan called the then hot dachshund sausage a hot dog and the name stuck.

Now, undoubtedly one of America’s most cherished comfort foods, the former hot dachshund sausage spawned a burgeoning industry of packaged meat brands; namely, Nathan’s, Hebrew National, Ball Park Franks, Dietz and Watson and arguably everybody’s favorite – Oscar Meyer Wieners.

You may prefer Nathan’s over Hebrew National, but you’re a liar if you don’t admit you, too, once sang along to, “I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer Wiener!”

Come on’ how can you not love the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile?

MIKE on Sports! Podcast on “Racing Weenies”

Also, here’s a popular podcast I wrote a while ago about my favorite packaged meat mascots racing around the baseball field at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

I refer to these in-game entertainers as “real wieners!”

MIKE on sports podcastSo, pass me the Heinz ketchup and hold the mustard and relish!

And, Happy National Hot Dog Day to you!

MIKE – the ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Coach Pleading Case with Umpire

MIKE Sports Comic: Coach Pleading Case with Umpire

Today’s Friday Sports Funny depicts the obvious as a baseball coach is frantically pleading his case with an umpire.

In spite of the large LCD screen in the background showing a clear replay of what just transpired on the field, it does not appear as if the judge, er umpire, is being persuaded to see what the coach had seen.

Ironically, the home plate umpire pays no heed to the coach’s defense and lifts a red mallet to pronounce his verdict.

Major League Baseball Needs a Review Policy

Until Major League Baseball enacts a reasonable review policy like the NFL and NBA, the scene depicted in this comic will always yield the same predictable result.

A baseball coach can passionately and correctly plead his case with the umpire.

However, in the case of Major League Baseball action, unlike an NFL or NBA official, the ump’s original ruling will always stand!

The pleading coach in this comic demonstrates that when it comes to baseball, the umpire is the judge, jury and prosecuting attorney – and he’s always right.

Case closed – but as this clever Friday Sports Funny reveals, it was really never open in the first place. Shop.MLB.com The Official Online Shop of Major League BaseballFor baseball fans interested in authentic Major League Baseball merchandise and collectibles, click on the MLB Shop ad above.

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So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Boxing’s Raging Bull Jake La Motta

Raging Bull Jake LaMottaMost fighters would think twice before squaring off against an angry bull of a guy.

But, for opponents in the ring facing the focus of today’s #TBT sports blog, no better nickname expressed the fear and intimidation he wielded as boxing’s Raging Bull.

The always snarling Jake La Motta charged opponents like a bull exploding out of a pen to attack a matador.

This Raging Bull’s bullish boxing style, along with incredible stamina to survive severe beatings in the ring, contributed to his boxing success.

A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, La Motta reached the pinnacle of his profession when he knocked out Frenchman Marcel Cerdan in 1949. He captured the World Middleweight Title, a championship that he successfully defended twice.

Named by Ring Magazine as one of the top ten middleweight fighters ever, La Motta retired in 1954 with a career record of 83 wins (30 by knockout), 19 losses and 4 draws.

La Motta’s most notable fights pitted him six times against Sugar Ray Robinson, one of boxing’s all time greats. Their February 14, 1952 bout became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The bloodied Raging Bull ferociously fought the superior Robinson for 13 rounds before the fight was mercifully stopped and awarded to Sugar Ray.

This fighter’s life outside the boxing ring is as controversial as his accomplishments inside the ropes.

La Motta Autobiography Raging Bull: My Story

Chronicled in his autobiography Raging Bull:My Story, La Motta’s father forced him into fighting at an early age in order to entertain neighbors for money and subsidize the family’s income.

Complex and troubled, La Motta also threw plenty of punches outside the ring. He once confessed to beating up a bookie and left him for dead. He also admitted to hitting his first wife Vikki so hard that he thought he had killed her.

In addition, the menacing Raging Bull admitted to throwing a November 14, 1947 fight against Billy Fox. He supposedly wanted to endear himself to the Mafia.

Accomplished Hollywood Director Martin Scorsese eventually adapted La Motta’s autobiography. The critically acclaimed movie, in which Robert De Niro played the real Raging Bull, won an Academy Award.

In my sports comic book on Favorite Boxers, I feature La Motta in chapter 10.

Favorite BoxersThough I cringe when learning about La Motta’s bad behavior, violent temper and poor decisions in life, I also admire his indomitable spirit to overcome a horrific childhood and excel as a professional boxer.

In his post boxing days, Jake La Motta married seven times. He also pursued other surprising entertainment endeavors like stand-up comedy and ownership of a baseball team.

Since hanging up his gloves five decades ago, La Motta has relentlessly attacked every new venture as if it where one of his former opponents in the ring.

However, anyone who comes close to this colorful, complicated character knows to be as cautious around him as a matador.

And, that’s no bull.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Sports Cliches Need to be Retired

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog bemoans outdated sports cliches that need to be retired.

That’s because over the years, much has changed in sports.

Super talented athletes have gotten bigger, faster and stronger.

Player salaries have skyrocketed.

And, ESPN media coverage has become ubiquitous.

However, some sports expressions, which should have succumbed to obsolescence or political correctness, still remain in sportscasters’ collective vocabulary.

Sports Cliches That Need to Be Retired

These dated clichés, especially in football, need to be retired. I think they represent what’s worst about sports because sportscasters insist on utilizing sophomoric language from a by-gone era.

In addition to referring to the Hail Mary Pass, here are a few other football related examples:

While in pass protection, offensive linemen should surround Humvees and M5 Tanks around their QB instead of circling covered wagons.

Interception prone quarterbacks should be said to post their obvious attempted pass on Facebook instead of telegraphing it.

Talented receivers should stop on a $50 bill instead of a worthless piece of currency – a dime.

Cornerbacks and safeties should no longer be complimented for covering receivers in what are now obsolete phone booths.

Lame quarterback passes should never be described as wounded ducks for fear of animal rights activists picketing NFL stadiums on Sundays in the fall.

And, once complimentary, but now frowned upon references like a player shooting himself in the foot, rifle armed quarterbacks or teams with lots of weapons should be eradicated before sensitivity experts blame such harmful language for societal ills.

Old, outdated football clichés should join leather helmets, the Statue of Liberty play and horse collar tackles as a thing of the past.

Let’s challenge sportscasters to keep up with the times and refine their collective sports vocabularies to reflect more modern, relevant ways to report on the action.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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MIKE Sports Comic Book: Surprising Sports Favorites

MIKE Surprising Sports Favorites

Volume 9 of the MIKE Sports Comic Book Series focuses on my all-time Surprising Sports Favorites.

And, they should surprise you, too!

My diverse choices are called surprising because they’re not all the typically expected picks for a sports fan’s “favorites” list.

Some aren’t real athletes and others aren’t athletes at all.

My selections may not all be Hall of Fame players; however, they all earned a spot in this book for their positive impact on a sport or their lasting legacy with sports fans.

Ironically, even though not all are athletes – at least real athletes – for that matter, sports fans can immediately identify them.

Check Out These Surprising Sports Favorites

A famous marathoners’ hill easily makes the list and as does the holiest, most intimidating place in golf.

Boston Marathon landmark

One of my choices is a conniver who doesn’t hustle on a playing field, but in a pool hall, instead. However, ESPN considers this chubby guy’s “non-sport” a real sport.

Rudolf Wanderone Minnesota Fats

Another is a pleasantly plump opera singer whose name is known by no one, yet her presence is absolutely required for a long game to end.

My sports favorites list also includes a once embarrassingly bad football team that eventually turned its ineptitude into a Super Bowl title.

Struggling 1980 New Orleans Saints

I share about an unusual 1906 World Series winner even if though they couldn’t hit worth a lick – during the regular season, that is.

And, for chocoholics out there, I chronicle a ridiculously athletic basketball player who surprised everyone with his off-court entertainment ability and not his expected on-court basketball skill.

Chocolate Thunder Darryl Dawkins

Other picks include an athlete of movie picture fame and a celebrity both inside and outside the wrestling ring.

Topping my list is an urban legend and perhaps the greatest high flyer never to have played in the NBA.

Herman The Helicopter Knowings

In this book, each of my selections includes a special sports comic which captures the nickname of the player, team or location of my Surprising Sports Favorite.

In addition to the comics, I include a little sports history in each chapter about my selection and explain why it belongs on my list even though a few of my picks may surprise you, too!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: English National Team’s David “Calamity” James

MIKE Comic 42 Calamity JamesToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers former English National Team soccer goalie ignominiously named David “Calamity” James.

Though David James may have not possessed the most flattering nickname in sports, this good natured goalie easily laughed off the unwarranted title of Calamity James.

The genesis of the Calamity James nickname began when James was in goal with Liverpool in the 1995 season: he allowed 20 goals in 11 games.

The cheeky nickname reached new heights when, ten years later, James allowed four second half goals to the Danes in England’s disastrous 4 – 1 loss.

The talented David James played in the English Premier League for five teams before retiring in 2011. He once held the EPL record for 536 total appearances as well as for a remarkable 173 clean sheets.

Now admired for his charity work off the pitch, this likeable and more than capable goalie is anything but a calamity.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: High Cost of Attending a Game

Cost of Attending a Game

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog cites the obvious.

The high cost of attending a pro sports game is ridiculous.

That’s because player salaries have soared.

Franchise values have ballooned.

And, television rights have skyrocketed to financial heights that no sane person could have possibly imagined.

These days, the high cost of attending a professional sporting event, regardless of the sport, has vaulted to stratospheric heights.

Few fans will argue how going to an NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL or MLS game can financially set you back a bunch.

Plunking down what feels like a jumbo mortgage payment to watch your favorite team play comes at a very steep price these days.

Ticket prices to pro games are so outrageous that they’re now dizzying to the financial senses!

Forget about V.I.P. or Executive Suites at the park. So called budget priced tickets can pinch you, too. Even pigeon heaven seats can cost you an arm and a leg and maybe even your first born. Plus, you’ll still need to squint from your seat to see the action way below.

Ticket Prices Alone Won’t Blow Your Budget

It’s just not ticket prices alone that will blow your budget. But, it’s the entire experience of attending a game. Here’s what I mean.

Park your car and plan to empty your wallet of at least $60.

Buy a beer and brace yourself to shell out the minimum of a $10 bill.

Enjoy that bag of peanuts and a soft drink and expect to hand over to the concessionaire what amounts to the price of a decent dinner.

Go to any Major League Baseball game across the country and quickly learn that America’s favorite pastime now feels more like America’s biggest fleecing.

High Cost of Attending a Pro Sports Game is Ridiculous

I love watching big games in person, but the high cost of attending a game has now become exorbitant.

But, if I’m biting the bullet to go, I now load up on liquids and gorge myself before entering the park.

Hey, I’ll even wait to return home for dessert before forking over a small fortune for a little cup of Dippin’ Dots. They’re the tiny, cryogenically frozen candy coated ice cream treats with prices guaranteed to leave a huge hole in anybody’s wallet.

Some NFL, MLB and NBA players make megabucks, but they’re lifestyles are way above those of their fans.

These high paid jocks pocket more suiting up for a single game than most fans will make in a whole year teaching school, fighting fires, policing our neighborhoods, driving delivery trucks or even working arenas and stadiums.

Watching pro sports on television instead of forking over a ransom payment to see the action live may become the new normal.

It’s no wonder that a growing number of fiscally prudent fans choose to stay home and save their hard earned cash – instead of dealing with the ridiculously high cost of attending a game in person.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

Shop for Official Game Day Gear at Fanatics!Also, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise and with a little money left over after attending a game, simply click on the Fanatics logo above.

Note that if you opt to purchase a Fanatics product, we earn a small commission from each sale. So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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