Game 5 of the World Series vs. MNF

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
9:07
AM PT
ST. LOUIS -- If you had two TVs Monday night -- side by side -- you could see the difference between baseball and football.

Game 5 of the World Series versus "Monday Night Football." Both within 10 blocks of each other in this town.

And what would you have discovered was the biggest difference?

Well, baseball is still slower than your tax refund check. And yet, somehow, football is becoming even slower.

The baseball game, a 3-1 Boston Red Sox win over the St. Louis Cardinals, took 2 hours and 52 minutes. The football game, a 14-9 Seattle Seahawks win over the St. Louis Rams, took 3:10. And the Red Sox are the slowest team in MLB! They're slower than the line at the Beijing Complaint Dept.

More and more football games like this are what has my wife coming in the living room and yelling, "You're STILL watching football???"

The 4 p.m. game keeps getting longer and longer and longer. Did you know "60 Minutes" is now down to 37 minutes?

Why?

So, so, so many penalties: There have been 12.7 penalties called per game so far this season. There were 18 penalties in the Seahawks-Rams game. Eighteen. I have seen less yellow at a British dental office.

And why so, so, so many penalties? Because there are so, so, so many rules. Field goal pushing? Really?

And with so, so, so many penalties, we end up seeing so, so, so much huddling of referees. Refs have spent more time in huddles this season than the Denver Broncos.

I suppose this is the price we pay for a safer NFL. I get that. I'm for that.

But I used to say baseball is slower than the last day of school.

But football is getting slower than summer school.

Sam Berns' story moved us all

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
8:13
PM PT
It has been an unforgettable week in the remarkable life of Sam Berns, the now 17-year- old Patriots fan I wrote about last Thursday.

At only 40 pounds, Sam looks 80, has the heart of a child and the brain of a genius. He's aging at eight times the normal rate on account of a disease called progeria. And yet he seems to have zero self-pity.

Since the piece ran, donations have poured in. Sam has appeared on radio shows, witnessed the premiere of an HBO documentary about himself “Life According to Sam” and has been invited to speak to the prestigious TedX convention in Washington, D.C. this week. Oh, and he sat in a luxury box at Game 1 of the World Series as his beloved Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-1. They even showed him on the scoreboard.

His fight for life moved me and, apparently, thousands of you ...

 

Not very often a "sports" article can move one to tears. Yours on Sam Berns was just such an article. Hats off to to Mr. (Bob) Kraft and the Patriots and thank you for bringing this wonderful, poignant story to our attention. Your close was classic! Let's all say a prayer that young Sam makes it to one of those universities.

-- Mike Trodden (San Antonio, Texas)

Progeria researchers believe they are on the trail to a cure. They've discovered the gene that controls a protein that when, in overabundance, causes insanely fast aging symptoms in these kids. But they need $4 million to conduct the clinical tests that might solve it. This is where Kraft's $500,000 for the Progeria Research Foundation -- and the matching $500,000 that they were able to raise through readers like you -- comes in. Congratulations to every person who contributed even $1, but there is so much farther to go.

I have been Sam's history teacher since he came to the high school two years ago. In the past two years Sam has inspired and surprised me over and again. He really is one of the most gracious, energetic, and intelligent people I have met. The best day is when you get a laugh out of him in class- because he has the best laugh!

-- Kristen D'Errico (Foxborough, MA)

Sam is a testament to the power of what a person can accomplish in life!

-- Cam (Toronto)

Fantastic story! I choked up reading it. Sam's challenges certainly puts things in perspective and you just gotta love his mindset. I've been a long time follower of yours and avid sports fan. Thank you so very much for sharing Sam and Robert's heartfelt story that brings out the best in humankind.

-- John Fisk (Seattle)

What an inspiring person and courageous journey Sam is on. His words demonstrate that clearly age and wisdom are not always relative.

-- Nicole Provo (Washington, DC)

The kid is eloquent far beyond his years. Listen to how he talks in this interview with Boston radio hosts Dennis & Callahan.

You could not have written a better article about Sam and Mr. Kraft. He is truly an inspiration and a hero.

-- Joe X (Toronto, Ontario)

Just wanted to say your article on Bob Kraft and Sam Berns was beautiful. I have had the pleasure of meeting Sam myself as he has been to every one our nephew Kristian's Walk for Progeria Research. Kristian was not as fortunate as Sam, but like Sam he was an unbelievable soul who lived his short life to the fullest. Your touching article will touch many. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful to have both of these boys touch my life.

-- Jules (East Bridgewater, MA)

Kids with progeria live, on average, to 13. Sam, now 17, is an outlier. He's a junior in high school. His odds of making it two more years are slim. That's why the money to fund the clinical trials is literally life and death for him.

The Sam Berns article provided a great pick me up today for myself. I'll be honest, I don't normally go for your articles (nothing against your journalism, just don't have a regular interest in your kind of themes), but this was knocked out of the park.

-- Rocky (Morristown, NJ)

Thank you?

I am glad you focused, as Sam himself seems to do, on the amazing positive side of his journey, rather than dwelling on what many would consider the tragedy of it. I would argue, as I imagine Sam would also do, that he is one of the lucky ones, to be given the chance to truly appreciate what he is given in this life, rather than take it for granted and complain about what is missing.

-- Colby Balch (Atlanta)

I'm not sure I'd call Sam "lucky." I'd definitely call him "aware" and wide open to swallowing as much of life as he can eat. If you think life goes by fast, imagine it from behind his eyes.

This is eloquent! You absolutely nailed this article. It's the perfect blend of the hard truth of Sam's illness, his stunning spirit, the true passion of Mr Kraft, and their awe-inspiring attitudes. Bravo!

-- Kristin Todd (Foxboro, MA)

Five years ago I applied to journalism schools because of what you had been doing with Sports Illustrated, taking your last word in a sports publication and bringing light to other worldly issues. In every application to schools I wrote about your "Nothing But Nets" story and how this incredible blend of sport and society could achieve great things. I am in my first quarter as a grad student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and reading your article today reminded me of that first moment I realized I could combine my passions of sports, journalism and social justice into something truly transformational. I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to pursue this track so long ago, and reminding me today that what we do as journalists can be so important, even life-changing for thousands in Africa, or one Sam Berns.

-- Connor Walters (Chicago, IL)

Thank you and please don't take my job.

Rick Reilly Mailbag: Sept. 25, 2013

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
10:01
AM PT
My inbox flowed red this week after my column on the flap over the Washington Redskins name. You’d have thought I shot a boxful of kittens. Or saved a boxful. Some thought I should be fired. Some thought I should be elected. Some called me racist. Some thanked me for honoring a race.

I still don’t know whether “redskin” is a racist term, I just know that on many Native American reservations, they don’t think so. Three reservation high schools I spoke with, in fact, use “Redskins” as their team name and wear it with pride.

This whole Redskins thing is an exposed nerve. It triggers passion on every topic from race relations to political correctness. Everybody and their cabbie seems to want to weigh in on it, sometimes like anvils through bay windows.

I’ve even felt strongly both ways. In 1991, for Sports Illustrated, I wrote that it was time to change the name. But in the 22 years since, I’ve grown to understand that it’s not up to me. It should be an issue decided by Native Americans, not this sudden wave of almost entirely white, politically correct sports writers.

For some of you, if even one person is insulted, that’s enough to dump it. For others, it’s a non-issue that only smokescreens so many real problems Native Americans have. For still others, it’s just further proof that I should bathe in quicksand.

I know one thing, though. The larger the social media tsunami grows, the easier it comes for people to react easily and quickly, the more I notice a backlash against any stance that doesn’t fit the Consensus Opinion. Is that what you want from your sports columnists, someone to simply parrot what the cool kids are saying? Because that will never be me. There’s a word to describe fish that only float with the current: “dead.”

Thank you for standing up for the right of white people to call native Americans “redskins.” I mean, African-Americans call each other the N-word, so why would anyone object if an NBA team called itself the N's? Everyone is just too politically correct. I mean, in the 1930s there was a colorful term for every ethnic group. But there certainly was no prejudice; it was just good clean fun. Thank goodness we have people like Rick Reilly who recognize that since many women seem comfortable with the B-word, no one has any right to consider it offensive. Thank you, Rick Reilly for standing up for the right to call any group any name you want as long as there are some members of the group who don’t mind.
– Eric Schenk (Mill Valley, Calif.)

Well played, sir.

Now why did you have to bring facts into our nice mob mentality over the Redskins moniker? What, we should just put out our torches and go home?
– Jim Trageser (San Marcos, Calif.)

Just because a few groups DON’T find Redskins offensive doesn’t mean we ignore the groups that DO.
– Shawn (Los Angeles)

As someone who is proudly part Choctaw and has actually lived in Wellpinit, Wash., I very much appreciate you giving a forum for the true opinions of natives on this issue. These are names which promote pride within our people, and I thank you again for giving that opinion, the one that should matter, a voice.
– Kyle (Seattle, Wash.)

When I hear Redskins, I think football, NOT American Indians. The meaning of Redskins has changed over the years. It’s just a name, not meant to offend anyone.
– James Zeller (Wylie, Texas)

Thank you for this. My heritage is mainly Iroquois. I grew up in D.C. and have a sister who was a Redskinette for six years. Lifelong Redskins fans and just sick of all the PC BS. Nobody has really bothered to ask a majority of Indians what they think.
– Andrew (Charlotte, N.C.)

Would you feel comfortable going up to someone of Native American descent and asking them, “Hey, are you a redskin?”

– Michael (Tucson, Ariz.)


That’s just the point. “Redskins” is not a word that comes up on reservations, according to the people I interviewed. They only hear it as part of their own schools’ teams or the NFL team in Washington. Most have no idea where it came from. (Linguists disagree.) It only symbolizes their teams and the pride they feel in their school. To take that away just because a few find it offensive? I’m not convinced that’s fair.


This is the Internet. You’re not allowed to write well constructed pieces that promote a reasonable point of view. Don’t you know anything?
– Bryan (Houston)

I am a member of the Tuscarora Nation and currently studying at Dartmouth College. Our Native Community is very diverse in that some students that have grown up on a reservation (like me) and others that have not even stepped foot on one. And most of the time, it is the group that have not known their reservation that becomes the vocal majority and makes decisions regarding whether something is offensive to us. I believe that a very large majority of American Indians that live on their reservation do not care about the Redskins’ name. Others that are not so involved in their reservation have been influenced by a sort-of white-man mentality that it is their duty to do what they think is best for “their” people -- even though they have not been raised or been involved in their reservation.
– Aaron Gilbert (Hanover, N.H.)

You do realize that in arguing that “we” (whites?) shouldn’t make father-knows-best decisions on behalf of all Native Americans, and leave "Redskins" alone, you’re kind of speaking on behalf of all Native Americans?
– Matt (Tuckahoe, N.Y.)

Read the piece again. Nowhere in it did I say don’t change the name. Nowhere did I say “leave Redskins alone.” I’d be all for changing the name if the majority of Native Americans believed it was a slur. So far, that’s not true.

This is exactly what I was thinking of writing. Thank you, Rick Reilly, for beating me to it. Couldn’t agree more. As someone who grew up at RFK Stadium, not one time have Redskins fans disrespected American Indians. They do not tomahawk chop like Atlanta Braves fans. They do not sing a war chant like Kansas City Chiefs fans or Florida State Seminole fans. Their mascot is not the Cleveland Indians’ cartoonish Chief Wahoo. The Redskins make no mockery of American Indians. Their fans sing only: “Hail To the Redskins.” Their emblem is one of honor. It is, in fact, almost identical to what is on the side of an Indian Head nickel -- which was a collector’s item when I was a boy. … If there are high school teams on Indian reservations that go by the name “Redskins,” then why can’t the team in D.C.?
– Tom Friend (ESPN Magazine, via Facebook)

Your opinion about the name “Redskins” is way off base. Your closing sentence is awful, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for writing it. You seem to be a fairly sensitive person. What the heck has happened on this issue?
– Jay Kepley (Richmond, Va.)

That final line -- “Kind of like a reservation” -- seems to have either infuriated people or delighted them. A lot of readers said it was insulting to Native Americans. Some said it opened their eyes to a new way to look at the problem. One blogger wrote that it was “a fireable offense.” Oh, please. Largely white media deciding what’s best for Native Americans, putting up verbal borders to “protect” them, as though they can’t stand up for themselves, has a scent of it, which is all I alluded to.


I found the last paragraph of your article the most insightful. By far the majority of anything said about the Redskins is by white men doing their “civic duty” and standing up for the Native Americans. Whether they like it or not. I found it to be a good old boys club of similar thought making themselves the moral authority, all other opinions be damned.
– Ian Hill (Seattle)

(1) How many natives would need to be offended by the name before you thought the name was offensive enough to change? (2) Why is it so important to you that the name remains the same?
– Maggie Lindstrom (Seattle)

2) Not important to me at all. I don’t think I should have a say. Your first question is what’s important to me. Answer: I’d want to see more Native American voices calling for a change before I’m convinced. Now, I only hear a few.


Finally a journalist in a profession of “sheeple.” Glad to see there’s still a man in your profession. PC wuss country we live in, drives me nuts.
– Brad (Odenton Md.)

Your argument that some Natives have accepted the name and made it their own is flawed, because it still does not mean that this name is not offensive. Being a tribal member from the Chippewa Cree tribe in Rocky Boy, I take offense to the name. I have been to a Washington game and that was the last time I will ever set foot on their corporate land. The things I saw at the stadium and surrounding community are extremely demeaning to Native Americans. Having people play “dress up” with replicas of sacred cultural items is insulting and it gives our children a cartoon version of who we are. I know it’s my job to teach my children right from wrong, but for this garbage to be allowed in our country is embarrassing. The people you interviewed are not representatives of all Native Americans, and your presentation of such is one-sided. I hope you don’t ever have to sit down with your child and explain why other people are playing dress up with what your people consider respected aspects of your culture. Then you can tell your child, “Nothing’s wrong, because those people say they’re honoring us.”
Zane Rosette (Rocky Boy, Mont.)

This is the best argument to get rid of the name — all the offending costumery and store-bought face paint and Halloween headdresses that go with it. More than the name itself, the Native Americans I spoke with were most offended by the inconsiderate fan hoopla that rides shotgun with it.


Try dressing up in blackface, put on a grass skirt and a bone through your nose, carry a shield and spear, and tell your African-American friend that you are honoring his African heritage, and let me know how he/she reacts.
– John Frisch (Atlanta)

Back in the '90s when the Twins were playing the Braves in the World Series and groups were protesting the Braves nickname, I was tutoring students on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. I remember approaching a 16-year-old wearing a Redskins jacket and asked him why he was wearing it. His answer: “Because it’s cold.” When I explained the controversy and why he was supposed to be outraged by the nickname, he put me in my place. “What team do you want me to support,” he said, “the Cowboys?”
– Lawrence Baden (St. Louis)

In Oregon, all high schools with any reference to Native Americans must be changed by 2017 or lose state funding. We have so many other issues going on in our state, but our Board of Education listened to a few people who had a problem and made a law. Most all tribes in Oregon are not offended by the local school district having a name like Indians or whatever, but we the people seem to know best.
– Matthew Rubrecht (Portland, Ore.)

I have zero doubt the Redskins will change the name sooner or later. This idea that “It just SOUNDS like an insult,” right or wrong, is not going to go away. And the PC pressure never lets up, it only doubles and re-doubles. The irony is that the Redskins' much-reviled owner, Daniel Snyder, will make millions on the new name, the new logo and the selling of hundreds of thousands of new shirts, hats and license plate holders. Who’s ready to buy a Washington Presidents toilet seat?


As a quick follow up to your story. The University of Utah, nicknamed the “Utes,” has gone to the Ute tribe, asking them if they are insulted by the nickname. The tribe has repeatedly said that they are proud of the school using the name. However, people who are not part of the Ute tribe, and are not Native Americans, are still pushing for a change. Please, people, go find another cause. I understand PETA is looking for helpers.
– Zac S. (Salt Lake City)

I’m afraid you’ve really lost your way. I am a proud Muscogee Creek Native American living in Marin [County], Calif. I am offended by your editorial on the Redskins name. There is no way you can draw a comparison between a team that is 99 percent native -- and likes the Redskin name and probably chose it purposefully -- and a national sports franchise that uses cartoon images of our people to promote their team. It hurts me. Maybe your relatives don’t mind but I do. Every time the Braves do their tomahawk chop I want to throw up. Why can’t we just realize we’ve evolved, we’re more civilized, we recognize now that people of different ethnic backgrounds, sexual preferences, religions, etc., are equal and shouldn’t be discriminated against. It’s just time to put this behind us and rise above it. Just because you can find Natives that don’t mind the name doesn’t make it right. If we went with that theory we wouldn’t have had the civil rights movement, suffrage or gay marriage. Things change and it’s time for this to change too.
– Karen Righthand (San Anselmo, Calif.)


I get that, but why is the pressure only on the Redskins to change? Why not your stomach-turning Braves, the Cleveland Indians, and Florida State Seminoles, whose foam tomahawk chant is purely Hollywood and has no origin in Native culture.

I do not think you can compare the Washington Redskins to high schools that are predominately Native American with the nickname Redskins because in those high schools’ cases, they are the people that their moniker is about, whereas the Washington Redskins were named not by Native Americans, but instead by white people. This also applies to the history of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish nickname. A sportswriter insulted Notre Dame by saying they were nothing but a bunch of Fighting Irish, and then the students of Notre Dame (who were predominately Irish Catholic) adopted the name as a badge of honor. I just think it is a different ballgame when a group of people are using their own ethnic identity as a moniker versus someone else’s.
– Eli Langson (Notre Dame, Ind.)

There is a pro soccer team in Amsterdam -- Ajax -- that began letting itself be known unofficially as “The Jews,” supposedly because many of its fans were Jewish. The nickname caught on. Their fans began tattooing the Star of David on themselves and carrying giant 100-feet-wide banners with the Star of David on them. Predictably, fans of their opponents began baiting them with anti-Semitic chants and signs, and it all got even uglier. Who thought of the name doesn’t matter. What matters is how many Native Americans feel they’re being insulted. A few? Maybe it’s not worth changing. A lot? Get rid of it.


Redskins should keep name, just change mascot to a redskin potato.
– Bill McCan (Davao City, Philippines)

'Skins Get Mashed?


An overlooked point in the debate over the continued use of the name Washington “Redskins” is the fact that many other teams have mascots which are HISTORICAL PEOPLES OF THE PAST. “Vikings” (as in Minnesota Vikings) are Nordic people of centuries ago. In Los Angeles County, we have the “Normans” of Beverly Hills High School, the “Romans” Of Los Angeles High School, and the “Trojans” of USC. There are also the “Celtics” of Boston, the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame (which really could be interpreted as offensive if one buys into stereotypes of the Irish), and the “Scots” of Highland Park High School in Texas. As a Jew, I wish the New York Jets would change the letter “t” to “w” so that people would be cheering for the “Jews” for a change!
– Mark Mendlovitz (Beverly Hills, Calif.)

I have NO IDEA if you’re serious.

If there were no teams that had ever been named Indians, Redskins, Seminoles, etc., but many named Cowboys, would the PC crowd today be demanding that every sports league add a Native American team name in the pursuit of equity? I’m just wondering.
John Costacos (Seattle)

Don’t.

I wish this article would get National attention! Redskin fans needed to read something like this and it’s nice to finally have a person in the “media” report the facts instead of creating them. … Well Done!
Victor Corado (Manassas, Va.)

This is either a beautifully carved “insult” or you somehow think ESPN has an office in every city.


Your article was very informative and convincing to this liberal Washingtonian. One question, however: After watching the NFL Redskins play the last two weeks, do they STILL think the name isn’t insulting???
Dan Frisch (Washington)

The Baltimore Ravens' biggest mistake

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
9:05
AM PT
And now for the three worst deals in history:

1. Babe Ruth to the Yankees for "No No Nanette."

2. Russians sell America Alaska for $7 million.

3. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh trades Anquan Boldin to his BROTHER for a sixth-round draft pick.

A SIXTH-ROUND PICK! You usually can't get a blocking sled for a sixth-round pick! A sixth-round pick is, in actual dollars, equal in value to a Subway Frequent Eater card with nine punches.

Just to repeat: Older brother John GAVE younger brother Jim his best receiver a month after beating him in the Super Bowl.

Did he feel THAT bad?

And now look ...

Week 1:

The Ravens go into Denver, a team they BEAT last season in the playoffs WITH Boldin, and get splattered WITHOUT him, 49-27.

The 49ers host the Packers and fricassee them 34-28 behind Boldin's THIRTEEN catches for 208 yards.

And Roger Goodell isn't looking into this?

Sure, the Ravens said they HAD to let Boldin go. Why? Because he wouldn't take a $2 million per year pay cut.

Just to repeat: They wanted the guy who helped lead them to a world championship to take a $2 million pay cut! And what else? Sweep out the boxes afterward?

And what did the Ravens do with all the money they saved on Boldin? They spent it on defense. That defense then went to Denver and gave up the most points in franchise history.

It may be the worst trade in NFL history.

And it could've been only one person's idea.

Their mother's.

Mailbag: Kaepernick, NFL MVP and Armstrong

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
4:28
PM PT

I'm grateful to all of you who wrote emails to me in reaction to my columns lately. Yes, many of them were hateful and venomous and involved me acquiring nose cancer, but a full 17 percent of you spelled every word correctly, up 3 percent from the last mailbag. (By the way, mega-tool is not spelled with a “u”.)

We begin with my Colin Kaepernick column, which was about as popular with most readers as gout.

In this one, I told the story of how Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers star quarterback, was born to a white mother from a black father and then given by that mother to be raised by a white couple, Rick and Teresa Kaepnerick.

The birth mother, Heidi Russo, of Denver, has tried to contact Kaepernick for more than four years, but he has declined all in-person and phone contact with her. This is totally his choice, of course. I just pointed out that my adopted daughter's experience meeting her birth mother has been nothing but healing for both parties. Same goes for my wife, Cynthia, who was adopted off the Blackfeet Indian reservation of upper Montana, and has now become friends with both her birth parents.

The reaction was furious. Almost 90 percent of those who wrote said it was absolutely none of my business. Said I was putting my nose where it doesn't belong. Said I was bullying the kid. I wasn't. I was just relating my life experiences with adoption.

But we start with an email from the birth mother herself:

    (Sigh) Thank you for writing this story. Had I known your angle I would have been happy to talk with you ... it's close to both of our hearts. The criticism (I've received) has been brutal. Some people will never understand, and it's OK. I'm so very proud of Colin and my story will be told in the positive, inspiring, honest manner I want it told. I applaud you and your family. Adoption is a true blessing and Colin has had the life I wanted for him and more! God Bless, Rick!
    -- Heidi Russo

    I am adopted and have no interest in meeting my birth parents. If Colin Kaepernick doesn't want to meet his birth mother, that's his business and you should leave him alone. That's his choice. I'm happy that it worked out for your daughter, but he is not her. Whatever his feelings are, they are none of your concern. If the birth mother wanted to be a part of his life, she shouldn't have given him up. Period, end of story.
    -- Dave (Huntington, W.V.)

    I am adopted as well, and have also chosen not to see my birth parents. Just because seeing your daughter had it work out for her doesn't mean it's the right move for everyone. I think you overstepped your boundaries publicly outing Colin Kaepernick. His decisions with his family is the epitome of an athlete's private life, and you stepped into it for no good reason. You owe that young man an apology.
    -- Rick, (Las Vegas)


 

How can I “out” a half-black player who greets his white parents after every game with a hug and kiss? It’s pretty much “out” that he’s adopted, don’t you think?

    I too am adopted and at 58 years old have never met my biological parents. I never pushed too hard -- my adopted parents were the best, period. I did not want to send them any signal other than that they were meant to be my family.
    -- Dan Breton (St. Simons Island, Ga.)


 
    Don't understand why you had to write about his decision. A very poor choice on your part.
    -- John Shaw (Madison, Ala.)


 

Didn’t have to write about his decision, I wanted to. I’ve written often about adoption, and because of my daughter and my wife, we hear stories constantly about reunions with birth parents and how wonderful it is for all parties. I don’t think I’ve ever heard one case when it went south. Of course this is Colin’s choice, 100 percent, and I’d never criticize him for not meeting with her. I’m just saying that so many young people wrongly think it’s a slap in the face of their real parents to even meet with birth parents. It almost never is. The Kaepernicks are wide open for their son to meet with Heidi Russo. They’ve met with her recently themselves.



 
    Your message is a powerful testament to the gratitude that adoptive parents have for a birth parent's supreme act of love. I hope Colin Kaepernick reads this article. You know firsthand the richness and joy that reaching out can bring. Your daughter Rae is a beautiful, loving young woman.
    -- Judie Martinez (Napoleonville, La.)


 

Got boatloads of feedback on my admission that Lance Armstrong had been lying to me for 14 years and I'd been a fool to pass that lie along to my readers. My boiling point came when he sent me a two-word apology: "I'm sorry." I suggested it was me who was the sorriest.

Readers did not let me off the hook for being so gullible.


    Lance lied and you bought it. Trust should always be given until the person proves they are not worthy. And he's not worthy. But in all fairness, you need a refresher course in Journalism 101. … "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." …
    -- Sean Curry (New York, N.Y.)


 
    You sum up what is wrong with most sports media today, namely that they are too close to their subjects. If Lance had told you in one of your long off-the-record chats that he was cheating, what would you have done?
    -- Mike


I would've tried like hell to prove it another way, through another avenue. I’d have begged him to go on the record with it. And in the meantime, I’d have stopped backing him in the columns, radio, TV, tweets, etc.



 
    Stop your crying!! The guy came out and admitted to [he's] doping. Give the guy a break! This is step one to the process so get off his back and forgive him. He's also going to have to face the court system. He didn't have to apologize but he did. Accept his apology and forgive him and get over your selfishness.
    -- Jeremy Pickens (Auburn, Ala.)


 

If you say so. By the way, how are you feeling about Harvey Updyke Jr., the Alabama fan who poisoned Auburn’s on-campus trees? Did you accept his apology?



 
    … Do you really need to report "off the record" comments just because Armstrong lied? Couldn't you hold yourself to a higher standard instead of, now, having been dragged down to his level. I thought "off the record" was the holy grail of journalists. … Never, never, ever forsake it. Now, you've jeopardized future off the record discussions (but probably not) because you feel betrayed. I believe you're bigger than this and won't make such mistakes again.
    -- Tyler Seboe (Milwaukee, Wis.)


 

Just for the record, I’ve never used a single off-the-record quote Armstrong gave me. Not sure whose column you read. I said he’d told me, both on and off the record, that he never did it. He was consistent all the way. He consistently lied to my face.



 
    I am a high school coach and athletic director. If one good thing can come of the demise of Lance Armstrong it's that I have been following these events with players at my school. Maybe the young people will learn from all this. Sorry he played you.
    -- Mike Walker (Tennessee)


 
    I have a question. Should I take off my Livestrong bracelet? I have been wearing it for 8 years. I was inspired by what Lance was doing with the foundation and all the help Livestrong gave to people suffering with cancer. I followed his accomplishments on the tour and was amazed each and every year. I mean he beat cancer and was winning. Now I feel betrayed. I am conflicted. Wearing the bracelet may seem that I am supporting Lance, but the reality is I am supporting the fight against cancer.
    -- R.J. Wilkins (Baltimore, Md.)


 

Keep it on. The Livestrong bracelet means more than Lance Armstrong now. Most people I know who wear one wear it for their mother, their brother, their uncle who battled cancer. That bracelet and the foundation it represents were the best -- and most honest -- things that Lance Armstrong ever did.


    There once was a cyclist named Lance


    Who rode all doped up through France


    After a media beating


    He admitted his cheating


    And Asked Oprah for "Just One More Chance"
    -- Jimmy Stoltz (Austin, TX)


 

First Mailbag limerick I’ve ever received. Bravo



 

Speaking of things Irish, Notre Dame football fans were leprechaun-gleeful about the two-day crow-eating trip I took to South Bend to polish helmets after admitting I was wrong about them in a previous column. But they're not always in the right. Consider the column I wrote about Notre Dame's famous sign: "Play Like a Champion Today."



 
    Funny how Lou Holtz thinks the sign "belongs" to Notre Dame. The phrase "Play Like A Champion Today" was at Oklahoma when Bud Wilkinson coached there, because he put it there. About 30 years or so before Lou Holtz co-opted.
    -- J.W. Weeks (Newberg, Ore.)


 

This is half-true. To be clear, Holtz never claimed invention of the phrase. He only remembers seeing it in an old college football photo book and admiring it. The first person to use that exact phrase on a sign is unknown. But Wilkinson did use it in the late 1940s at Oklahoma. And though Wilkinson's son, Jay, says he's sure his dad didn't come up with the phrase, it certainly didn't start in an athletic tunnel at Notre Dame.



 
    Just a brief comment to you on the article you did on my sister-in-law, Laurie Wenger. Thank you for a wonderful job on the article. It has made me so much more proud of her and the things she has accomplished in life. Laurie not only has MS she had also been diagnosed with a brain tumor and three years ago had it removed. You can see why she is an inspiration to us all here at home.
    -- Susan Schmuhl (South Bend, Ind.)


 

A lot of NFL fans had their boxers in a bunch over my decree that Peyton Manning should've been the MVP, not Adrian Peterson.


    RICK REILLY: I hate campaigning for MVP! Now here's a quote from John Elway clearly campaigning for MVP for Manning!
    -- Shaun (Minneapolis)


Sorry, I missed the news about John Elway inhabiting the body of Peyton Manning. Thought they were two different people. Is this Heaven Can Wait, Part II?



 
    For the last month I've been hearing how Adrian Peterson was a one-man gang who dragged the Vikings to the playoffs on his back, but that was proven to be untrue in the wild-card beat-down versus the Packers. Without [Christian] Ponder, the Vikings couldn't do anything offensively. During the Vikings' last two regular-season wins, Ponder played very effectively and that's why they won. Even with a great running back, the quarterback is still the most important position on the field because he runs the offense. If he doesn't play well, the team doesn't win, no matter what the running back does. After their first six games, the Vikings were 4-2 despite Peterson having only a decent season to that point. They can win without their running back playing great, but they can't win without their quarterback playing well. The MVP (should have gone) to Manning, who runs the Broncos offense perfectly and led them to the No. 1 seed.
    -- Peter Anderson (Boston)


 
    The Broncos advanced to the second round of the playoffs WITHOUT Manning last season.
    -- Paul Ladd (Chicago)


 

Speaking of MVPs, a lot of you agreed with me that Jacoby Jones of the Ravens should have been the MVP of the Super Bowl on the back of his two long touchdowns, one on an under-thrown ball by Flacco, the other on a back-breaking 108-yard kickoff return. I realize this flies in the face of my QB-heavy MVP philosophy, but Jones is the exception.



 
    Good to know somebody else thinks Jacoby Jones should have been MVP. His TD reception, all his. He got open, ball was under thrown, kept his concentration and made the catch and finally hustled to the end zone, all his. The kick return, not only a great run and blocking, but a great decision. I am sure the Niners were caught off guard when he started out of the deep end zone.
    -- Jorge (Mexico)


 

Well, uh, actually, a lot of readers pointed out that it wasn’t all Jones on that return



 
    … It was the two Ravens holding the hell out Bruce Miller at the 26-yard line and hanging on until Jones had gone from the 18 to the 50. Watch the replay and be absolutely amazed that it wasn't called by the refs or noticed by any sports pundits.
    -- DRJ (San Jose, Calif.)


 

Hold the phone. That wasn’t holding up. That was kidnapping. They might as well have tied Miller up and put him in their trunk.

But it’s still not as bad as what happened at the Arizona-Pittsburgh Super Bowl in 2009. James Harrison was just about to be tackled by Larry Fitzgerald on his end-of-the-first-half interception TD return when Fitzgerald’s own knucklehead teammate, Antrel Rolle, comes off the bench and onto the field and accidentally blocks his own man from making the stop! It happens at about Arizona’s 30-yard line. Harrison ended up scoring a touchdown and the Steelers won by four points, 27-23. I know I keep bringing this up, but nobody ever mentions it!



Speaking of mistakes, many of you thought I made one when I dared to write a column about the mass murders in Newtown, Conn., decrying the nation's obsession with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, when they're not needed by most sportsman and many NRA members. This fired up many of you to fire back (verbally, that is).



 
    I've read my last of your writings as of this morning. I have always enjoyed your work, both in print and in video. However today you used your platform with ESPN to spew leftist, anti-gun chatter in an arena not designed for such debate. You are entitled to your opinion and I realize that your opinions are your bread-and-butter, but this is not the place for such rhetoric. You conveniently found the most anti-gun, pro-gun people you could find to provide quotes for this article. As a longtime gun owner and advocate, it makes me sick to hear fellow gun owners cower from their Second Amendment rights. If your next book tanks, will you blame the computer you wrote it on?
    -- Jesse (SE Ohio)


 

Let me get this straight. I’m going to lose a fan who defends a gun-crazed culture that continues to kill thousands of our kids every year? I’m crestfallen.



 
    I am a military member that has been to the Middle East eight times, including Afghanistan and am a lifelong hunter. Change is needed and the changes that need to be changed will not affect my rights as an American or an avid outdoorsman. You have my support, sir.
    -- Jeff Hargis (Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.)


 
    Love your columns. Hate your politics. The Sandy Hook shooting was a monstrous act by a deranged kid. The problems of this country are so much deeper than assault weapons. These firearms have been around for decades. The gun doesn't cause the crime. It is society's ills that lead to these shootings. Easy to blame guns, tough to fix the real problems. Sad.
    -- Danny King (Harlingen, Texas)


 
    Good piece. I can't argue with the desire to tighten gun laws in the wake of Newtown, but you're only addressing the symptom, not the cause, of these massacres. Guns don't pull their own triggers. How do you legislate against a popular culture that has become desensitized to violence? How do you legislate insanity out of existence?
    -- Bruce Baskin (Chehalis, Wash.)


 

There’s no way to legislate insanity out of existence. That’s my point. Deranged people will always be among us. The problem is, when they finally burst, they have free and easy access to weapons that are designed purely to hunt humans.



 

Lastly, here is your Cynic of The Century -- a Mr. Tony Cote, of Ottawa.

Mr. Cote had a bone to pick with my column about Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A) shortstop Vance Albitz and his goal to send 1,000 gloves and baseballs to American troops in Afghanistan. It's Albitz's way to inject a little home into the dismal and lonely life, a life that's led to a skyrocketing suicide rate for soldiers and vets.

 

    I would never put down the thought and caring that goes into things like sending ball gloves to soldiers in war theaters, but I kind of wonder why it is necessary. Shouldn't that sort of thing be done by the Army, Marines, etc.? And it seems to me that the soldiers involved are being paid a pretty decent salary so why not buy their own gloves and balls? There are millions of underprivileged kids in the western world that could sure use some of that largesse. It seems the money, time and effort would be better spent helping the truly needy.
    -- Tony Cote (Ottawa, Canada)


 

I totally agree. American soldiers overseas should stop squandering their fat-cat salaries ($18,194 per year for an Army private) on things like extra protective equipment and care for their wives and kids back home. They need to go to the local Dick's Sporting Goods in Kabul and buy their own. Thank you and please let me know if they ever find your heart.



Not everybody agrees with Mr. Cote, however.



 
    I am a captain in the Army, and am currently deployed. I had the pleasure of tossing the ball around with a lieutenant and sergeant last week. Nothing beats that feeling, even halfway across the globe. Albitz's donations have undoubtedly gone a long way to raise the morale of soldiers.
    -- David Struwe


 
    I just returned from Afghanistan this January and our Marines received gloves from Vance and his program. The first thing we did was warm up the arm and show off our fastballs. You miss the little things like that when deployed. Please thanks Mr. Albitz for being the positive American he is and let him know he has a group of Marines that are rooting for him.
    -- Nicholas Regopoulos (San Diego)


 
    Vance Albitz is already a big leaguer whether he spends a day in The Show.
    -- Bruce Baskin (Chehalis)


 

By the way, Albitz was set to leave for the St. Louis Cardinals’ spring training on Feb. 17. But thanks to readers like you, he’s got more than enough money, (well more than $30,000) and gloves to reach his goal of 1,000 shipped. In fact, he’s got so many gloves, his dad’s garage overflowed and he had to move his entire operation to his old high school in Torrance, Calif. There, with the help of “20 or 30” of his friends, he was on track to make it.

(There was no truth, however, to the rumor that he was going to send the extras to the Colorado Rockies, the worst fielding team in baseball last season.)

#cashtag: newtigerphrases

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
12:36
PM PT
Among the things I hate most in golf are (a) fried-egg lies, (b) plumb-bobbing from the fairway, and (c) this hideous new "Light the candle!" thing people shout after Tiger hits his drive.

Light the candle? What is he, an altar boy?

So my 11 Twitter followers and I set out to find something better to yell after Tiger hits, and not the so-worn-out-you-want-to-club-yourself-in-the-forehead-with-your-6-iron "Get in the hole!"

I suggested, "Friend me!" or "Oh, the humanity!" or, in a very high voice: "ComPRESSion!"

You suggested all kinds of things. We turned it into a #cashtag, in which the best tweeted submission gets $7.93, the approximate cost of a grilled cheese lunch at Denny's.

That turned out to be "Get to the Choppa!!!" by @RKalland, who is actually a person named Robby Kalland of Atlanta.

Bathe in your cheesy victory, Robby.

The rest were mostly dirty, but there were some printable ones, too.

For instance:

"Prenup!"

@Treppekind

"POPSICLE!"

@adamrehberg

(This refers to Hank Haney's book about coaching Tiger. You had to read it.)

"Waffle House!"

@SeanGannon2

NIGHT PUTTING!!

@SohoSpyder23

"Bangers and Mash!"

@JollyMichael

"Are you my dad?"

@davidmichael10

"You wont pass Jack!"

@ITFred

'Reee-cola!'

@Gordon432

"Good job! Good effort!"

@mattcarps and @cademadison

(This is a reference to something a Miami Heat fan yelled during the ... oh, never mind.)

"Mashed Potatoes!"

@ZHildy89

"Shankopotomus"

@kylebarnett5

"It's a process"

@Vitamin_G_Kush

"He's on fire....hydrant."

@adam_kimbro

"Hold the pickles!"

@DWDixon81

"Nurse shoes!"

@trenns42

"Can't touch this!"

@BonosBrownhole

"Be The Bald!"

@Mangino8MyBaby

"Bang Biscuit!"

@j0ebanks

"That's a clown shot, bro"

@zekeburger

"Hide your kids, hide your wife!"

@thestreaker

"Thanks for the memories!"

@tonyhooper3

And finally there was this ...

"'C'mon GUYS! ... Who has the camera?!?' Oh, my bad, that's what Tiger says."

@ekovar

Postscript: Somebody actually did yell "Yabba dabba doo!!!!" after one of Tiger's drives on Sunday at the Open.

Let's hope it puts out the candle.

Mailbag: Nothing but nice

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
11:52
AM PT
Lately, readers have accused me of publishing only negative emails and tweets (@ReillyRick) in order to stir up controversy and get attention. I'm also getting ripped for being falsely modest.

Therefore, this mailbag will feature only people who think I'm wonderful and talented and smell of lavender.

We begin:

U.S. OPEN

Do us all a favor: If Tiger starts birdie-birdie at the British Open, save the "Tiger is back" montage clip until he actually makes it through the weekend with a number less than 75. Keep up the good work.

Kevin (Columbus, Ohio)

Very kind of you. I will.

How are your ankles? Did you break either one of them jumping off the Tiger Woods bandwagon? "There's no way Tiger can lose this tournament." Nice call.

Stacy Applegate (N.C.)

Appreciate you noticing. Thanks.

Do you feel the slightest bit stupid after your piece on Tiger Saturday? HE IS NOT BACK. HE IS NOT WINNING OPEN. HE IS FALLING APART. This is not the first. You are wrong a lot.

FH Race, (Westerly, R.I.)

Thanks for noticing how often I'm right. I appreciate it.

STOP HATING LeBRON

In your article on LeBron, you pick all the facts from one side of the argument and completely ignore the facts from the other.

Brad Klabik (Cleveland, Ohio)

I was hoping you'd notice that. It's taken 35 years to learn that skill. Articles that present both sides of an argument are called news stories. Articles that present only the writer's side are called opinion columns. This is what you read.

I really hope you didn't get paid more than $20 for that last article.

Pat (address withheld)

My tax strategies to avoid climbing into higher tax brackets are between me and my accountant. Thanks for worrying about me, though!

I would have loved to hear an audio narration of the "LeBron being LeBron" article as only you can do. Maybe ESPN should start audio narration of some articles? Now that would be cool!

Ray Williams (Alabaster, Ala.)

Each Tuesday and Friday night, I read my columns aloud at my home to any fan who wants to hear them. This is a free service. By sheer coincidence, these two nights happen to be my wife's Girls Night Out evenings. Come over!

LeBRON VS. DURANT

Really? You like James and the Heat over Durant and the Thunder? This I PROMISE you....the Big 3 from OKC will outplay the 3 from Miami.

Jonathan Anderson (Austin, Texas)

Thank you. You made my Tiger prediction look very smart by comparison. I'm impressed, and I like your shoes.

MICHAEL PHELPS

In over 15 years of reading your articles, I think this is the first one that I just completely disagree with! Feel sorry for Phelps? Feel sorry for the millionaire who spent his life playing a sport? Come on Rick, you're better than this!

Paul (Baltimore, Md.)

Thanks for agreeing with every single column I've written for almost 15 years! That's a huge achievement by me!

He's only 26 and he wants to spend the rest of his life playing golf and traveling? How about using his celebrity to help legalize medicinal marijuana? Nobody ever put a gun to his head and said "swim."

Michael (San Francisco, Calif.)

I agree. More celebrities like Phelps need to use their status in life to promote controlled substances. And not to disagree with you, but Phelps has been in many races that began with starters' pistols, so, in a way, they DID put a gun to his head and say "swim." Thanks for being a fan!

JERRY SANDUSKY

Well done sir. A new low for biased, poorly written and opined reporting, known as ESPN.

Brendan Westfall (Richmond, Va.)

You're welcome.

You are a superlative writer. In such a concise manner, you captured the essence of this awkward and tormented situation of Monster vs. children. I shall be a fan of yours for life. No one could have done it better.

--Meg Kimmel (Donalds, S.C.)

Agree.

I'm as disgusted with Sandusky as anyone (but) I'm disappointed with your conclusion. Essentially you hope Sandusky is raped in prison. Really? Don't be so flip. Think about what you're writing. Good column, horrific conclusion.

Wes Lukowsky (Geneva, Ill.)

Glad you enjoyed the column!

BRIAN BANKS

Why in the hell did (the girl) accuse Brian Banks of raping her? It sounded to me they were friends, going on a date. Did she ever say why she came to her actions?

Taco Jans (Netherlands)

a) You don't meet a lot of guys name Taco in Holland.

b) Banks says the woman merely told him, "I was immature back then." Sure, sure. But believing the man you sent away to prison will want to be your Facebook "friend?" Nine years later? Now that's mature.

I just finished your article on Brian Banks. If you're half as good at being a human as you are at capturing human stories, you're one of the best of us.

Clinton Carlson (Denton, Texas)

I am.

NEW GOLF GLOSSARY

Great article Rick! ... I don't know why my golf scores are so bad. I have five or six good shots every hole.

Steve (Pontiac, Mich.)

Reading your golf term column I figured you might like these:

A Diego Maradona -- a very nasty 5-footer

A Salman Rushdie -- an impossible read

A Cuban -- needs one more revolution

A Kate Moss -- a bit thin

A Princess Grace -- should have taken a driver

A Princess Di -- shouldn't have taken a driver

A circus tent -- a BIG top

Bryan Reid (Vancouver, B.C.)

GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT MY MAGNIFICENCE

I miss you in the back of SI, dude. I grew up with that column every week. I'm sure you're told this all the time. Any chance you ever make a guest appearance?

Dave Fite (Glastonbury, Conn.)

I occasionally still write under an assumed name at Sports Illustrated: Gary Smith.

I was wondering, do you display your 11 National Sportswriter of the Year awards in the same kind of case Phil Jackson stores his 11 championship trophies? Show us a picture, Zen Master Jr.

Jim Beaver (Freehold, N.J.)

When you win the NSOTY award the first time, you get a gold ring with your name on it, engraved with the year you won. You also get a plaque with your name and year on it. Each time after the first, you only get the plaque. So I decided to box up the plaques and just keep engraving the years on the ring. No idea where they are now. I hope people are not upset at me for this. But this is not as bad as Red Smith, the late, great sportswriter, who used to burn plaques he won for firewood.

And no, I'm not going to post a picture of the ring. That would be bragging.

#cashtag: Athlete sandwiches

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
8:12
AM PT
At the Stage Deli in New York City, there are 31 sandwiches named after celebrities, but only five of those are in homage of athletes -- The Derek Jeter, The Alex Rodriguez, The Pedro Martinez, The Paul LoDuca and The Tiger Woods. Thanks to #cashtag, the Twitter game that's sweeping the nation (@ReillyRick), we can change all that.

I asked my followers to invent new sandwiches for jocks, and I started with a few suggestions:

The John Daly: Hamburger, double cheese, triple mayo -- toasted.

The Tim Tebow: You order one and, suddenly, it serves 500.

The Curt Schilling: It spills ketchup on your sock.

The Brian McNamee: You eat it and then save the napkin for 10 years.

The Manu Ginobili: Ham on ham topped with ham on two slices of floppy ham.

We got hundreds of them, but the best was this one from Mark Brantner (@OneArrogantSOB):

The Warren Sapp: No bread.

As such, Mr. Brantner, you just won $7.93, the exact price of the grilled-cheese sandwich plate at Denny's, plus beverage. Your arrogance, in this case, is well deserved.

These entries were not quite sandwich worthy, but tasty just the same:

The Kevin Na: Hold the mayo, hold the mayo, hold the mayo, hold the mayo. I guess I will have mayo.

@SLUCWells

The Ryan Braun: You order it Saturday, but it doesn't get there till Monday.

Matthew Tiffany @matthew_tiffany

The Roger Goodell: You have no say in what goes on it.

Derek Lippincott @derrrrrique

The Wilt: Over 20,000 served.

MayJason Martens @wbbcoachmartens

The LeBron James: Voted best-looking sandwich but guaranteed you can't finish the whole thing.

@ls_0nly

The Jean Van De Velde: Classic French dip.

@sri52280

The Marshawn Lynch: PB and Skittles with no crust.

Jace Magavern @JaceMagavern

The T.O.: A delicious BLT, but you drop it on the way to the table.

@MotrinAbel

The Erik Spoelstra: It gets stale.

Travis Reed @doreedo1420

The Bobby Petrino: Comes with a side dish.

Thomas Moore @MooreJunk

The John Calipari: After one, you're done.

Michael Kaplun @MichaelKaplun

The Roger Clemens: You order it and the waiter brings it to your wife.

@TravisLay_BSB

The Jamie Moyer: First sandwich with no expiration date.

Jordan Coffey @JCoff10

Sadly, there was no entry from my brother, who's on a diet.
Tags:

#cashtag

Let's get straight to the griping, shall we?

TIGER AND HIS HALF BROTHER

... in which I described how the body and finances of Tiger Woods' 53-year-old half brother, Kevin Woods, are being ravaged by MS, and how his family is exasperated at not being able to contact Tiger for the past six years.

This should be your last column about Tiger. This column just proves that he is an arrogant, self serving [expletive]. It is so sad that some people still worship him.

-- Jim. M.

You have written columns that have made me laugh, and some that have made me cry, but nothing you have written has ever touched me like Monday's column about Kevin Woods. I was diagnosed with MS in 2007 and my entire family has been supportive of me. I have not had nearly as many problems as Kevin has, but the past five years have still been difficult enough that I could not have made it without them. ... I hope Kevin gets to keep his house and that his doctors get his disease under control.

-- Mary Koppenhofer

Your column on Tiger Woods' half-brother was irresponsible. Unless you have half-siblings, this is a family dynamic that you simply cannot understand and thus territory upon which you should not tread. ... This one crossed the line.

-- Randy Helmy

Why does Tiger Woods' step family need Tiger to help? They have each other and a mother to help. Step children are not necessarily close to each other, especially when different mothers are involved. Once the step children grow up, why would they be interested in the step family? Maybe Kevin can move in with his real brother/sister or mother.

-- Esper

First of all, this is not a step family. These are half siblings. Tiger and these three people had the same father, Earl Woods.

Second of all, these people contend they have not asked Tiger for money. What they want is to let Tiger know how bad Kevin has gotten with MS and how he may lose his San Jose home. Of course, they'd love financial help for him, but they all maintain that the most important thing to them, and especially to Kevin, is being able to update him, to speak to him, to hear from him.

Thirdly, Kevin can't move into his brother Earl's house, because he lives in Phoenix. And he can't move into his sister Royce's house because it has stairs and Kevin has a dog that wouldn't work there. And he can't move into his mom's house because she lives in Modesto. Kevin is at a crossroads.

I was trying to find out why Tiger won't return their calls, but Tiger wouldn’t return MY calls. He may have a very good reason, but the half-family has no idea what it is. Tiger's people said he couldn't talk to me because he was "preparing for the Masters." But the request went out four days before the Masters began, on that Sunday. By not commenting -- his right, of course -- he risks looking guilty of the very thing his half family is accusing him of -- indifference.

A lot of Tweople (@ReillyRick) condemned the timing of the column, as it came out the Tuesday before the Masters. But this column was not delayed for any disingenuous reason. I was given a tip on this story on Saturday, March 24, in Phoenix, at the Sweet Sixteen. I began working on it that next Tuesday, after I'd written the Rick Pitino column, and it took five days to get the half-siblings' side of the story before I knew what to ask Tiger.

TEMPEST IN THE TIGER

...in which I seem to have become the national clearinghouse for people disgusted by Tiger's temper tantrums on the golf course.

Why don't you and fellow announcers quit brown-nosing Tiger and comment on his inappropriate behavior at the Masters for throwing and kicking clubs when he makes a poor shot? [Gary] McCord gets banned from Augusta for a comment that the [Augusta] hierarchy deems inappropriate. [But] Tiger, because he adds to your ratings, can do whatever he pleases and just be called a competitor, a warrior and a man fighting to reclaim his greatness. Give us a break and report the truth.

-- Woody

It's bizarre how people see me when it comes to Tiger. I'm some kind of human Rorschach test. It runs about half ("All you do is kiss Tiger's butt!") and half ("Why don't you get off Tiger's butt?").

But this letter made me slap my forehead so loud they could hear it at the back of the plane.

I was one of the first voices -- and by far the loudest -- to call Tiger to the front of the classroom for his increasingly vile behavior on the course, which started to get disgusting at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. I did a video essay on it then (comparing him as a kind of Goofus to Tom Watson's Gallant). I've criticized him dozens and dozens of times on "SportsCenter" and in columns for his language, his petulance and his bratty ways. I've begged for anybody to do anything, up to and including a spanking. He is, by far, the best-known golfer to kids, and plenty of them now think it's cool.

Now, after Tiger kicked his 9-iron on the 16th tee Saturday at the Masters, and was caught swearing by microphones Sunday, I think it's up to Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National. Payne needs to issue a public rebuke of him. He has criticized Tiger's behavior before, in front of the world, over the sex scandal. It's time to issue a statement again, which should read:

"Be advised all Masters competitors: Augusta National will NOT tolerate the throwing or kicking or slamming of clubs on our grounds, nor the abuse of bags or balls, during the Masters, or at any time. Those who do will be asked to leave the premises immediately and will not be invited back." That would do it.

TEBOW OUT, MANNING IN

... in which I described how Broncos exec John Elway found the perfect way to Jet-tison Tim Tebow without hurting any feelings and land the biggest fish in NFL free-agent history, Peyton Manning.

In Peyton's first year, he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, his completion stat was 56% and his rating was 71 (lower than Tebow's in 2011). So, in your opinion, Manning should have been dumped in Year 2 or never given an opportunity to improve? Why not give Tebow the benefit of the doubt? How about a team that invests in him the way Indy invested in Manning, not half-assed like Denver did? And let's face it, Mr. Ed Elway never did. If you are not going to personally give Tebow a fair shake, then how about report on Tebow fairly?

-- David Gallagher

Slanderous accusations at me aside, (A) Tebow is not one-half as talented as Manning, not in his second year, not now, not ever; (B) Manning was a No. 1 overall draft choice whose promise was immense while Tebow was a stretch at No. 25 overall; and (C) I have an idea that Elway, who has watched nearly every NFL practice and game Tebow has ever had, knows what he's seeing. And you're welcome for cleaning up your spelling. You, too, hit about 56 percent.

How are you going to write one column all about advising Peyton to go to Denver and then give Elway all the credit [when] Peyton listens to you?

-- T. Newmyer

Good point. I deserve 10 percent of the $96 million.

You got this one wrong, Rick. Elway is NOT getting a free ride on bringing Manning in and booting Tebow. He WILL be blamed if this doesn't work out and we are left with nothing. He better hope Tebow never gets it, because even if Manning plays for the next few years (I doubt there will be a Super Bowl, we still have a terrible team) and Tim is successful elsewhere, we will crucify him. No statues for John.

-- Donna Yost

I'm going to wince every time Manning takes a hit. I've had five spinal fusions, count 'em, five, on my lumbar vertebrae -- all five of which have come within the span of six years. There's a reason I've had five surgeries, and that's because each one preceding the next hasn't worked. My point is that, like the United States, Denver is only one shot away from Plan B, and if that were to happen at least they'd have a proven winner, in Tebow, to take the helm. I think the Broncos would've been better off keeping Tebow, and giving Peyton two or three years to mentor him.

-- Roger

It wouldn't have worked. The first interception Manning threw wearing the Predominantly Orange, the fans would've been screaming for Tebow. Manning would've had no chance to get used to his new receivers, his new system, his new team. Chaos would've reigned in the locker room. You want the Broncos to start a QB who won five games last season by scoring 18 points or fewer? Over Peyton Freaking Manning? Tebow's 2011 season was shocking, I admit, but more than half of his wins were due entirely to the defense and kicker Matt Prater.

You seem to give Elway the lion's share of the credit for this situation. However, I suggest Elway was far more lucky than good. Manning leaving the Colts and becoming available at the time Elway wanted to guide the Broncos away from Tebowmania was simply fortuitous. As Elway himself commented, he had no Plan B and, in fact, if Manning had not become available, no Plan A for leaving Tebow. Nothing wrong with Elway being lucky -- after all, the detective's mantra is: it's good to be good and better to be lucky -- but at the same time, does not warrant erecting a statue of Elway.

-- Kenneth

Of course Elway got lucky. He might as well have gold monkeys popping out of his mouth. Luck was all over this deal. If the Colts had won two more games, the Colts probably wouldn't have released Manning because they wouldn't have had the first pick to take Luck and this doesn't happen. If Manning's favorite QB as a boy isn't Elway, this probably doesn't happen. If Denver doesn't have the same low-media, hometown feel of Indianapolis, this probably doesn't happen. If Elway hadn't won two Super Bowls after 36, as Manning aches to do, this probably doesn't happen. But are you people saying even if all this hadn't happened, there shouldn't be a statue of Elway? Are you smoking shrubbery? Of course there will be a statue of Elway in Denver. If there can be a demonic blue horse with red eyes menacing visitors at Denver International Airport, a statue that fell on and killed its sculptor, then there will surely be a statue of Elway somewhere.

It is amazing how quickly you guys are willing to write off Tebow. Your logic is that you should rather do a five-year contract with a one-time Super Bowl quarterback with very dubious health issues, give him $96M, and say, "Elway will not be blamed for trying, rather than keep hold of an up-and-coming quarterback with exceptional WINNING mentality?!! Granted, Manning was an extraordinary quarterback and I hope he will not get seriously hurt when he will get hit with this Broncos defense. If Manning does not get injured, and the fans in Denver don't chant Tebow's name next season, I'll send you a case of my favorite French wine.

-- Sig Fusk

Too late. You just sent me a whine.

PEYTON MANNING TRIBUTE

... in which I thanked the legendary QB for the effort he gave, the manners he showed, and the loyalty he had to his franchise, even if it wasn't, in the end, returned.

Thank YOU for the wonderful article on Peyton Manning. As a 20-year resident of Indy, Peyton and I have crossed paths on occasion. He was always gracious, down to earth and classy. One time in particular I literally bumped into him at the Final Four at the Dome. I stepped out of the suite to use the restroom, and walked right into him. He was walking with Eli, and took the time to introduce himself to me and to Eli. I'm 6-foot-7, so he made some comment about running into a tree, then patted my back and walked on. I will never forget how friendly he was.

-- Wes Van Bruggen

OK, Mr. Manning was a terrific footballer. A pretty decent multimillionaire, as self-obsessed professional athletes go, these days. BUT, HONESTLY, after four neck/cervical spine operations don't you think prudence (and surgeons) would urge retirement? What is it with celebrities, anyway? So few ever know when to get off the stage. This player doesn't need the money and there's little more for him to achieve in the sport. Who is Mr. Manning listening to? Or, maybe the question should be, who is he kidding?

-- P.J. Andros

Hey, P.J., how would YOU like to be told when to retire by Peyton Manning? And not just retire from work, but from the greatest passion of your life, from the most-fun thing you do, from all your friends? And do ... do ... do what? Play golf the rest of your life? At 36? Don't tell people how to run their lives. That's my job.

I guess now I have to relinquish the boycott I imposed on reading your articles (this is the first time I've done it since the Jimmer article and I'm glad I did).

-- Daniel Field

So my forking over $5,000 to Jimmer's charity wasn't enough to earn your forgiveness? Tough reader.

CAREER-PATH ADVICE FOR MANNING

... in which I objectively and comprehensively rated the four cities Manning had to choose from -- Nashville, Phoenix, Miami and Denver -- and decided the best bet would be Denver, which happens to be my hometown. Manning took the advice. And do I get any thanks? No. All I get is thrown tomatoes from you people.

Crime rate. On the Manning situation ... about 25 years ago they did a study about cites with clean air and murder rates (in the Miami Herald ). Its results were that Miami had clean air and the highest murder rate in the country. So the Herald stated that if you are in Miami and have trouble breathing, don't worry, it's not the air, you have been shot.

-- Mike Grysko

You said that the Titans didn't have any receivers that people recognized in uniform. I don't how you can get that when they have Kenny Britt. Yes, he got hurt last year, but he was having another amazing season till he got hurt. Then Nate Washington stepped his game up and had the best statistical season he has ever had. Then the last few games of the season Jared Cook became a huge target and go-to guy. The Titans, in my opinion, have the best group of receivers and tight ends out of the three teams left.

-- Ryan Markham

Yes, Jared Cook is definitely a go-to guy. As in, "I've got to go to somebody else."

ANDREW LUCK

... in which I described how watching Luck work out at his home campus of Stanford was an astonishing experience, how NFL assistant coaches come to watch him the way people used to come to watch Bo Jackson hit in the cage, and how I hadn't seen such a sure-fire NFL QB star since I made the same trip to see John Elway at Stanford in 1983.

You wrote ...

Well, after reading your article on Andrew Luck, who I admire as a person more than a player, just a simple question: Do you believe Luck will impact the NFL on the field as quickly and as powerful as Cam Newton did?

-- Jerry Pitts

Well, the Colts are a de facto expansion team right now. He's going to need a few dozen players. But I think Luck will, in the end, be even better than Newton, and I think Newton has a chance to be great.

RGIII and Luck are both amazing prospects and are sure to have some success in the NFL, they seem to be practically even on most quarterbacking aspects, but RGIII did win the Heisman, is a better athlete and seems to be slightly better than Luck in some ways. So my question is if RGIII was white, do you think that Luck wouldn't be the presumed slam dunk for the first overall pick?

-- Edwin

Wow. Thought we were past all that. So you think winning the Heisman entitles the player to be No. 1 in the draft? Or do you just think it's the color of his skin that demands it?

LARRY AND MAGIC

... in which I shared the highlights of a one-hour conversation I had with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird at an event in Beaver Creek, Colo., near Vail.

I really enjoyed the article on Larry and Magic, because it showed how two competitors like those two can really relate to one another as human beings off the floor.

-- Richard Evitts

What were Magic and Bird doing in Beaver Creek?

-- Jerry Butler

It was a corporate event.

Great interview!! How does it stack with some of the other interviews you've done in the past?

-- Gregory Jerrell

I've been lucky to do so many great ones: All three Mannings at once, interviewing President Clinton while playing golf, having Muhammad Ali pretend to fall asleep on me and then suddenly having him jump up and choke me, the Josh Hamilton "Homecoming" interview (gripping), the Magic "Homecoming," writing books with Charles Barkley and Wayne Gretzky, and hundreds of other hilarious and sentimental ones along the way. But that one has to be in the top 10. Bird was just so deadpan funny, staring at his feet while amazing things came out of his mouth. And Magic jumping up out of his chair every five minutes to expound on some point he was making about Bird's greatness and introversion. And backstage you couldn't get them apart.

MAGIC AND THE DODGERS

... in which I asked in a "SportsCenter" video essay, "What American athlete has meant more to a city than Magic Johnson to Los Angeles?"

The comment you made that Magic buying the Dodgers was more important than Mario Lemieux and the Penguins is just ridiculous. The Dodgers might be having some attendance issues but they would never be a threat to relocate. Mario bought the Penguins out of bankruptcy and got the team a new stadium so they could stay in Pittsburgh. I recognize that to sell a story you have to speak with some hyperbole but you come off clueless when you make a comment like that.

-- Cullen Hagan

I disagree. The Dodgers were in the darkest days in the 50 years since they moved to Chavez Ravine. But let's grant your point that Mario Lemieux bailed the Penguins out of a bigger hole. How many championships did Mario bring to Pittsburgh, vs. Magic? Two vs. five. Did he ever coach them? No. Did he revitalize their inner-city with hundreds of millions in investments? Hire gang members? Open an inner-city health clinic? Have a profound effect on two of Pittsburgh's pro teams? No.

Granted, Mario established the Mario Lemieux Foundation, which raises money for cancer research. He was also a founder of Athletes for Hope, which seeks to help other athletes in their effort to contribute to their communities. Still, Magic’s impact has been greater over all.

A SOFTER RICK PITINO

... in which I describe how coach Rick Pitino has mellowed with age in Louisville, and the team he brought into the Final Four in New Orleans was his favorite since his 1987 Providence squad.

I have been one of many who always looked at Pitino as a little too slick and a little too arrogant. After the infidelity/blackmail scandal, the small part of me thought he finally got his comeuppance. Your article not only made me a little ashamed of myself (he whose slate is clean and all that), but also renewed my commitment to be a little less judgmental and a little more forgiving of folks.

-- Jim Cleveland

I am not familiar with the Biblical phrase, "He whose slate is clean ..." Is it in the Book of Comeuppance?

I find it stunning that you wrote an article supporting Pitino while you still bash Tiger Woods. Don't get me wrong, I love that someone in the media shows dislike for Tiger's off-the-course actions. But weren't Pitino's actions bad as well? I'm not defending Tiger. I'm not bashing Pitino. I'm just curious how you can have empathy for one and not the other?

-- Tyler Miller

Pitino was tarnished with one alleged act of infidelity. Tiger had 14 of them.

I think referring to Kentucky as "Voldemorts" is terribly unjust and horribly inappropriate. By using this analogy, you imply good against evil and to the kids on the Wildcats team, that is grossly unfair. They are not evil. Just a group of kids who happen to be extremely talented and unselfish enough to play together in beautiful harmony. Call them Goliaths, or Juggernauts or the Best Team in the Land, but DON'T you dare refer to them in any way as evil just because you may not be a fan. Shame on you!

-- Judith Flickinger

Oh, just chillax, Aunt Bea.

THE HESLIP AFFAIR

... in which I asked people to guess which one of 15 Sweet Sixteen storylines was fake. It was the one about Baylor sharpshooting guard Brady Heslip looking so unlike a basketball player that he missed a game this season when security arrested him outside the arena for trying to "sneak" in. Many of you are not careful readers.

Why would you fabricate an untruth about Brady Heslip like that? Is this what is supposed to pass for journalism or just an inside look at your journalistic integrity? Excuse me, I mean lack thereof.

-- Mike Whitis

I believe your piece about Brady Heslip is incorrect. He is 6-foot-2, not 5-foot-6 and he was not arrested before the Baylor-Missouri game. I can't find any reliable article that even says he was stopped by a security guard.

-- Conrad

Oy.

WRITING

... in which I ... oh, hell, you'll see.

What is the biggest secret in becoming a great sports writer?

-- Eric Jackson

As a 19-year-old aspiring sportswriter, I've been having trouble coming up with creative metaphors and analogies .... Whenever I read others' works, such as yours, I can understand the references right off the bat, and more often than not, get a quick chuckle out of myself while doing so. The problem is, as soon as I finish the sentence, I usually find myself thinking, "There is no way I would've thought of that in a million years." Do you have any tips and advices for me?

-- Michael Peng

My No. 1 goal when I write is to come up with sentences that jump off the page and poke you between the eyes, sentences that create an immediate word picture in your mind. For instance, you might write, "There is no way I would've thought of that if I were trapped for a year in a closet with a keg of Red Bull." Coming up with sentences that have never been written before may leave you sitting in the media room while everybody else is fast asleep, but it makes your writing fresh and different.

I became homeless about six weeks ago. I used to work about 60 to 70 hours a week until I was laid off. I never had time to read a lot of books. As I'm sitting in my car feeling sorry for myself I started reading your books -- all of them. I came to realize that a lot of people had it worse than I do. You have a way of writing that made me feel like you were in the car seat next to me telling me these stories. Thank you again as you have brought my spirits up. I get to come to the library two hours a day to look for work on the Internet so I'm hoping things will change quickly.

-- Mike McCart

Library? Go BUY my books, you cheapskate!

(Kidding! Anybody got a job for this guy?)

#Cashtag: ToplayAugustaIwould

April, 9, 2012
4/09/12
8:32
AM PT
This week's #cashtag on Twitter was #ToPlayAugustaIWould ...

Apparently, you people would do a lot of sketchy things to yourself to play Augusta National, home of the Masters. Many of them were unprintable and also un-doable. You were cutting off body parts that I'm not sure exist.

Anyway, Randy Wilson (@uncrandy) is the winner of $7.93 (equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich meal at Denny's). Randy, my wife will send you a check, which actually do still exist.

THE WINNER OF A CHEESE SANDWICH

#ToPlayAugustaIWould ... Play the round with 3 women members .................oh wait.

-- Randy Wilson @uncrandy

NEARLY THE WINNERS OF CHEESE SANDWICHES

... Ride on a motorcycle with bobby petrino

-- kyle amy @kja5073

... swim in a kiddie pool of John Daly's sweat

-- BlouWaffle @BlouWaffle

...Escort lebron james through the streets of Cleveland, with art modell

-- cmaiden07 @cmaiden07

...give Craig Stadler a sponge bath

-- oneofmanymikes @oneofmanymikes

... tell Mike Tyson his tattoo is ugly

-- justinhackman @justinhackman

... become one of the top 50 golfers in the PGA. It's a little unconventional, but it just might work.

-- ryanrichter8 @ryanrichter8

STILL PRETTY GOUDA

...let Charles Barkley give me pointers

-- wmiller1245 @wmiller1245

... run naked across the 18th hole.

-- ilovesports7 @ilovesports7

... reject Kate Upton.

-- NSF_Alex @NSF_Alex

... be the pool cleaner for the Jersey Shore hot tub

-- Brad Watson  @watty14

... answer all of your hate mail for a month.

-- Chris Yates @The_ChrisYates

... trade hairlines with Lebron

-- whatsthatsmELLE @whatsthatsmELLE

... watch a game of catch between sanchez and tebow

-- mulroy23 @mulroy23

... get a foot massage from rex ryan

-- BrettDietrich @BrettDietrich

... let Tiger treat me like the 9-iron he just kicked on the 16th tee at Augusta.

-- bardel @bardel

... challenge Jessica Simpson 2 an all u can eat buffet battle

-- Paytodd1 @Paytodd1

... Wear a pink suit on national television.

-- will lane @willlaneII
Tags:

#cashtag

#cashtag: Sports would be better if

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
10:49
AM PT
This week, for absolutely no reason, I'll be making small, sometimes snarky comments after some of this week's notable #Cashtag entries, which was #SportsWouldBeBetterIf.

These will be denoted with an asterisk.

But first, you need to know that #Cashtag will take this coming week off for National Farm Safety Week.

You people should be declared Commissioners of All Sports and then we'd finally get some things done. Many ideas were actually brilliant and useful. Those aren't the ones we picked, of course, but thank you.

And now, the winner of $7.93 (equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and Coke at Denny's):

Steroid users' punishment was shots of estrogen.

Tyler Miller @tbidness27

*By now, Jose Canseco would be Gloria Estefan.

Send me your address, Tyler, and you'll get a check out of my personal account for $7.93. If you pay the Mitt Romney rate, you'll owe $1.11 in taxes on this income.

Very good tries and yet winners of $0 of my money

Instead of the long ball, chicks dug fat guys sitting around watching people hit the long ball.

Thomas Cochran @TFCochran

The bounties for each NFL player were listed on the Jumbotron.

Todd228 @Todd228

*This would be especially helpful to the targeted players.

Every time a soccer player dove you got to actually kick them where they claimed to be injured.

Ben Wakely @bwakes4

You could vote players off the court.

Andrew Doran @apdoran

Owners bare-knuckle boxed each other before every game.

Leland Mitchinson @lsmitch14

*I'd take Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

The only lockouts were on Charles Barkley's fridge.

Lucas Giampa @lucasgiampa

Rex Ryan had to lose one pound for every prediction gone wrong.

Adam E. @DrKnafa

*By now, he'd be Gloria Estefan.

I didn't grow up in Cleveland

Kyle Trent @kyle_trent

At every press conference, the player said, "Of course it was about the money."

Scott Warden @scott_warden

*I especially enjoyed Irsay saying, "This isn't about the money" at the Peyton Manning press conference, one day before he would've had to pay him $28 million.

The thunderstick and vuvuzela had never been invented.

mark steenback @steenback2

If a #16 seed upset a #1 seed, they had to switch schools the following year.

Ben Holling @BenHolling

*"I'll be attending Harvard-at-Chapel Hill this semester."

Still Pretty Gouda

Lucky seat of the game plays CF for Mets

Ed Ahearn @MolsonMailman

*Somebody saw this and tweeted, "No, that would make the Mets themselves better."

They yelled 'Get in the hole!' at every event other than golf.

LB @dr_mistermann

*Would work at hockey, billiards, basketball, but not funerals.

Being an owner was an elected position.

Rusty Nail @RustyNail215

The Cubs would have let the Billy Goat in.

Kevin Vedder @vedderkj

Football teams were allowed one invisible player

Nick Seiler @nick_seiler

*Except for the Redskins, who already have Rex Grossman.

I could get a cheese sandwich at the game for less than $7.94

Wade @footewade

The PGA outlawed white orthopedic golf shoes

Lucas Giampa @lucasgiampa

*Yes! Thank you!

There was a 4-point line in basketball.

Kyle Stroud @leviticus65

Losing teams faced Mayan penalties.

Reilly Capps @ReillyCapps

*One of the penalties was death to the loser. You think instead of booing, they hollered, "Get in the hole!"?

MLB allowed one player on steroids per team.

Adam Grmusa @Orange15

*As opposed to five?

The cheerleaders of each team in the tourney played dodge ball at halftime.

rick garland @rickgarland

Halfway through a race, NASCAR required everyone to do a u-turn

Justin Ebert @jebert19

NFL water boys were mic'd up.

Rob Kelly @Br0ccoliRob

*Also, they should hide a microphone under the pitching mound, in the goalie's mask and on every caddie.

Peyton was signed by Denver & Tebowed after his 1st TD pass there.

Scott Jones @jscottjones

All the figure skaters competed at the same time. Full contact triple axels!!

Josh @jwshack

*I'd take Jim Irsay.

Kobe trusted his teammates

AJ Riney @Mr_Riney

If the Refs, officials and umps had to answer questions from the media after every game

Todd Amerman @Paytodd1

*Would've come in especially handy after the Syracuse-UNC Asheville game.

NBA regular season games start in the fourth quarter...when players start trying.

Sean Gannon @SeanGannon2

The national anthem was easier to sing.

Michael Aumock @mjaumock

If athletes had to renegotiate contract after a bad year

Shawn Pinsent @spin033

NASCAR had demolition derby.

Brian Baughman @doublebizzle

*I'd take Danica Patrick.

Beer at the ballpark made you more polite.

Michael Aumock @mjaumock

*And went straight to your biceps.

NCAA football had playoffs

Curtis Hajec @CurtisHajec

*OK, now you're just getting ridiculous.

#cashtag: #SportsWouldBeBetterIf

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
2:27
PM PT
Before we announce the winner of last week's #cashtag -- sentences that have #NeverBeenUttered -- we need to tell you what happened to the winners from the last two weeks.

1) The guy who won for #LamestJockMoment, Wes Katagi ... ("7th grade swim meet. I won the 50M freestyle race only to be informed it was the breast stroke event") ... donated his $7.93, plus another $13.07, for a total of $20, to Nothing But Nets, our anti-malaria bednet campaign in Africa. Genius!

2) The guy who won for #WorstSportsMascot ... (Mindy, the Pregnant Groupie) ... Jay Bellwoar, actually DID buy a grilled-cheese sandwich at Denny's with his money and tweeted this picture to prove it. This is history, people. Photo by Rose Covalesky.

Furthermore, you need to know that this week's #cashtag is #SportsWouldBeBetterIf.

For instance, if you wrote, "#SportsWouldBeBetterIf ... You got to hit again after a home run" you might win $7.93!

Or if you wrote, "All of Cleveland's teams were switched with all of Boston's teams" you might win $7.93.

Or if you wrote, "Swimsuit models delivered the magazine directly to your house" you might win $7.93.

#NeverBeenUttered, meanwhile, proved to be a fertile ground for your odd minds. It was our most successful #Cashtag ever, in terms of making me blow cereal milk out my nose. As usual, the best ones were too dirty to print.

WINNER OF $7.93 (taxable income)

"Tim Tebow... You ARE the father."
Jake Snyder @JakeSnyder1865

EXCELLENT YET WINNERS OF NO CHEESE SANDWICH

"What are your academic standards, Mr. Calipari?"
Jim Bucher @JimBucher70

"How much to ship the Lombardi Trophy to Cleveland?"
Nick Chastain @fetus45056nc

"Rex Ryan was speechless."
Josh @jwshack

"I can't go out tonight guys, there is a WNBA game on."
Luke Daugherty @lukedaugherty11

"Ripken playing today?"
Brian Green @greenmobe

"Lucas Oil Stadium: The House that Irsay Built."
Jefferson Boswell @jeffersonboz

"Mr. Kobayashi, would you like a box for your leftovers?"
Dayton Martindale @DaytonRMartind

"I'm full." - Charles Barkley
Adam Evans #BCSsucks @AdamHashtagEvan

STILL PRETTY GOUDA

"Antonio Cromartie.....you are NOT the father!"
Ian Michael @DieFacingTheSun

"Polamalu, get a haircut!"
Alex K. @Number1CSUFan

"And Blake Griffin goes up for a layup."
David Manners @DavidManners

"Peyton Manning was such a d*ck for leaving Indy the way he did."
Travis Reed @doreedo1420

"Please give a warm welcome to our keynote speaker, Leon Spinks."
Dean Smith @Deanmsmith

"Carmelo Anthony is really trying to get his teammates involved tonight."
Brandon Adams @superbranman

"Mike Vick, would u mind dog sitting for me this weekend?"
Elle Hagedorn @whatsthatsmELLE

"Not tonight, Wilt, I have a headache"
Scott Coe @scoutcannon

"The safety's on, Mr. Burress."
Adam Mack @AdamAMack

"The ball really jumps off the bat here at Petco Park."
Bob Brainerd @BobBrainerd

"Welcome to the Palms Mr. Dykstra, can we offer you a line of credit during your stay?"
Randy @965Randy

"I simply must know who your tailor is, Mr. Sager."
Jeff LeMaster @TheJeffLeMaster

"The Bulls would have been nothing without Bill Wennington."
Derek Lippincott @derrrrrique

"Yo Lebron, great fourth quarter"
Judd Liebman @Juddtl

"Thank god we're still paying Bobby Bonilla."
Dan Beach @themagicrat88

"Jamie Moyer officially retires."
Dustin schemmel @schem_hut

"We couldn't keep up with Ben Crane's group."
Curt Goodwin @CurtOU

"Congratulations Danica, you passed the defensive driving test with flying colors!"
Nick Seiler @nick_seiler

"Michael Jordan for NBA Executive of the year!"
Chris Burns @burnsbleedsblue

"Thanks for the pass, Kobe"
Ross MacPherson @RossMacPherson8

"Sorry Mr. Zuckerman, your credit card has been declined..."
Jay Stalnaker @jaystalnaker420

"My bracket has Northwestern going to the sweet sixteen!"
Jeffrey Aday @JeffreyAday

“I’m really looking forward to working with Todd Haley."
mendo_matt @MileHiBroncoGuy

"What a dunk by Derek Fisher"
Dhruv Madeka @DhruvMadeka

"We never should've gotten rid of Jamarcus Russell.
@billadelphia14 ... billy Grenfell

"Saints defense reportedly kept secret "Build-a-Bear" fund"
Nicolas Lewis @DoctorGeeves

AND THE WEEKLY ONE FROM MY BROTHER
"Augusta National is offering a Buy One, Get One Free deal (includes cart)."
John Reilly @peachrules

#Cashtag:  #NeverBeenUttered

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
8:40
AM PT
This week's #Cashtag is sentences that have #NeverBeenUttered. For instance, "Shaq, go shoot the technical for us."

Or, "Ran into Tim Tebow at FlashDancers last night."

Or, "Tiger, I'd like you to meet my sister."

Tweet a good one to me @ReillyRick and you could win a whopping $7.93, the approximate cost of a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and Coke at Denny's. (Tip not included.)

Be sure to include the #NeverBeenUttered hashtag or I won't see it. And it's got to be sports or you've got no chance. Because while "My moral compass is Lindsay Lohan" is a good one, this is a sports deal.

And now for the winner of last week's #Cashtag -- #MyLamestJockMoment.

FIRST PLACE
7th grade swim meet. I won the 50M freestyle race only to be informed it was the breast stroke event.
Wes Katagi @WesKatagi

I'm following you now Wes, so DM me your address and my wife will send you a check out of our account for $7.93. If you actually do get a cheese sandwich somewhere, please have the decency to send me a picture of you eating it.

VERY GOOD BUT WINNERS OF ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
In 9th grade, I was all alone on a fast break, and I passed it up to a teammate, who ended up being the ref.
Nick Hanson @hanson_nick

1983 pickup game in Seattle. Went up for jumper; Danny Vranes blocked it off my head. Still have mark.
Greg Howard @GregoryHoward

The time I was flirting with a girl at baseball and than made a great catch...with my left eye.
Phillip Resnick @PhillipResnick

When my coach benched me and said "It's not your fault. It's my fault for having you in there."
Jerry Larkin @jerry_larkin

The time in HS I made all 3 outs of the inning as my team batted around
Nick Hodgins @NickHodgins

College Golf match, first hole, my practice swing divot knocks ball off tee—of my opponent mid-swing.
Rob Kemp @rfk2012

I airmailed a throw to first and hit a grandma in the face from shortstop. They didn't start the inning until the ambulance left
Adam Korson @scotslb32

Cruised in for an easy layup on my own basket in a JV basketball game. Wondered why there was no defense...
Bennett Evan @bennettevan

FAKE BUT FUNNY
The time I struck out looking in teeball.
Tyler Woods @W_Toods

(via Ahmad Bradshaw) When I scored the Super Bowl winning touchdown
Nick Sirois @siroisn

"I sneezed, threw my back out, refused a PED test and forgot the English language" -Sammy Sosa.
Zak! Failla @zakfailla

Having my golf ball retriever regripped...
Dan Dal Degan @Triple_Deee

STILL PRETTY GOUDA
My first triple double. (turnovers, minutes played, shots blocked)
Graham Waldrop @GrahamWaldrop

During halftime football coach speech, I got up to grab a water bottle. Coach yelled "40, did you even play?"
@pawnstar10 @pawnstar10

Playing football in front of my middle school, I caught a pass, turned up field and ran into a HUGE tree! 1 concussion later....
Jesse Brown @jesserb306

HS BBall tie game ... thought clock said 3sec, but was 13. Heaved long 3, fast break other way for layup & loss
Nate Golomb @nategolomb

The fact that my throwing up before every football game became a good luck ritual for my team
Chase Harris @ChaseNTheHole

Playing Bethpage and shot one under car. Sliced into parking lot.
kayden deratter @kayden_knows

Playing street football last week, laid out a 4 year old. Lamest moment ... for her. For me it was awesome.
@ReillyCapps

On senior night I tore off my warmups.. forgot to put my bball shorts on. In front of the student section.
Thomas Kierl @kierl_t

I got frustrated with my play in street bball. Slammed ball down. It bounces up. nails my nose. Blood everywhere
Ethan Grau @TUBBSHawks

Hit for the anti cycle: strikeout, groundout, flyout, lineout. More than once
sam lubman @samlubman59

Right fielder makes amazing catch, coach says to me: "Wow. Glad I took you out. Aren't you?"
Brian Wallheimer @wally3298

I was throwing BP in high school and threw the ball over the entire backstop.
Richard Bazemore @pheasant_hunter

When I pulled my right hamstring running to first base followed by me pulling my left hamstring rounding for second.
Preston Young @pyou10

I had more sportsmanship awards than baskets in High School Basketball
Troy Heffron @troy_tweets

I was cut from the h.s. golf team after the first 3 holes of tryouts. Tryouts were supposed to last 3 days
Josh @jwshack

AND, OF COURSE, THE TRADITIONAL ONE FROM MY BROTHER
My brother's team lost the game when I miscalled a "foul" ball "fair" ... Mom hollered "kill the ump!"
@Peachrules (John Reilly)

His entire umpiring career lasted that one game.


#Cashtag

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
9:01
AM PT
You people are sick, twisted and definitely out-of-round. This is why I like you so much.

Approximately 93 percent of your answers to this week's #Cashtag: #WorstSportsMascots were so dirty, awful and disgusting that I laughed for hours. Also, my editor said I couldn't use them.

We did have a winner, but, before you find that out, you must learn what this week's #Cashtag is. This week's #Cashtag is #MyLamestJockMoment.

These are your most embarrassing moments in sports. For instance, if you send, "The time I stole second base only to find my teammate already standing on it," you might win $7.93 (approx. price of a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and Coke at Denny's)!

Or ... "The time I set up for a free throw and the cheerleaders sang, 'Brian, Brian! He's our man! If he can't do it! Nobody can!' Except my name is Scott," you might win $7.93!

Or, if you were former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth and you tweeted, "The time I ran into Bo Jackson," that might be worth $7.93!

Remember to tweet me @ReillyRick or your very-possibly-winning answer will float away to Pluto and perhaps Uranus.

As for me, #MyLamestJockMoment was probably the time I took my position at second base for infield practice for a Boulder (Colo.) High School game and my coach called me back to the dugout. I was sure he was going to give me some intricate piece of strategy for the coming game. Instead, he whispered, "Your pants are inside out."

WINNER #WorstSportsMascots

Mindy, the Pregnant Groupie

-- Jay (@BellsIT)

Jay, DM me your address and my wife will write you a check for $7.93 out of our personal account. As always, please do not hack our account and take everything in it.



VERY GOOD ANSWERS BUT PAYING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Tommy Tapeworm

--TheAmusedGeek (@TheAmusedGeek)


Phil, the Floating Hypodermic Needle

--Scott Lee (@SleeTweets)


The Boston Buckners

--Jake Barge (@abduljabbarge)


The Phillie Religious Phanatic

--Tim Dwyer (@T_Dwyer)


The Pitt Stain

--Nathaniel Green (@greenpun)


"Punchy" The Philadelphia Crowd Safety Bear

--Rich Kamm (@blueNorangeNY)


Splatz, the formerly flying squirrel

--Scott Hunter (@hunters281)


Penn State Knitting Lion

--Mike Rohr (@mikerohr12)




ALSO GOUDA ...

The WV Mountain Ear

--Jeremy Ratliff (@jratliff3456)


Oral Roberts University's Stretch, the Fighting Dental Dam

--Scott Lee (@SleeTweets)


The Las Vegas Escort

--Joey Ramirez (@Jramirez17)


The Indiana Pacemaker

--John Klaassen (@JohnMKlaassen)


Santa Barbara Neverland Rancher

--Justin Mark (@Justinmarkmusic)


Boston Stranglers

--Andrew Hauschka (@freidasboss)


San Francisco Giant Bottle of Clear

--ProfessorDoel (@ProfessorDoel)


TCU Bongfrogs

--Seth Haselhuhn (@SethHuhn)


The New Jersey Snooki

--Todd Amerman (@Paytodd1uy)


The Taipei Personality

--wolffystyle (@wolffystyle)


The Intercourse, PA Trojan

--n8mcclafferty (@n8mcclafferty)


The Notre Dame Hunchbacks

--Dave K (@dkalmqt)


Santa Monica Lewinskis

--Dean Fagan (@Dffagan)


The Sports Hernia

--MattMoore131313 (@MattMoore131313)


The Cleveland Drives

--Mike Flick (@Flickerbock)


LA Smog

--Schutt (@MikeSchutt1)


The Cincinnati Cellmate

(I lost the name of the person who sent this -- sorry. You also will not be receiving any money.)


Follow me on Twitter! @ReillyRick

#Cashtag

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
10:55
AM PT
And now for something Jeremy Lin didn't do:

Lin didn't win $7.93 (the exact cost of a cheese sandwich, fries and Coke at Denny's) in our first-ever Twitter #Cashtag contest. The #Cashtag subject was #ThinnestSportsBooks.

But before we announce who DID win, we must first announce this week's #Cashtag subject: #WorstSportsMascots.

For instance, if you were to tweet me (@ReillyRick) with "The Cincinnati Cyst" you might win $7.93!

Or if you were to send in, "Sammy the Dyspeptic Seal" you might win $7.93!

Or ... "Mincing Barry" might do it. Think of what you might do with $7.93! Buy 17 Natty Lights?

While you're thinking up those (deadline is Thursday, noon), be inspired by this week's cheesy winner, and the other worthwhile efforts (other worthwhile efforts get no money).



WINNER

"Into Thin Hair" by Troy Polamalu

-- Andrew Luria (@AndrewLuria)

Congrats, Mr. Luria -- Go buy yourself a cheese sandwich! (And look for a check, written by my wife, in your mailbox. Please do not hack our account.)



VERY NEARLY WINNERS:

"Minimizing Turnover in the Workplace" by Jim Irsay

-- Sean Gannon @SeanGannon2



"A Blank Canvas" by Pete Rose's Barber

-- Derek Lippincott @derrrrrique



"Shots I Wouldn't Take: The Kobe Bryant Story."

-- Dan Reidy @DR3IDY



"Knowing When to Walk Away" by Brett Favre

-- Bryon Meyer @bryonmeyer



"A Brief Explanation" by Ed Hoculi

-- Kirk Reuter @donkeyhoatie



"Abstinence" by Antonio Cromartie

-- Bobby Maxwell @theGreatBobino



"Asian Hockey Greats"

-- TheSportsIlluminati @SportIlluminati



"My Life as a Champion" by Anna Kournikova

-- Steve Kniss @stevekniss



"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Malfunction" by Janet Jackson

--Andrew Luria @AndrewLuria



"Clutch When it Counts: The Billy Cundiff Story"

-- Ditty @theDittyLama



"Knowing Your Team's Potential" by Mike D'Antoni

-- Justin Lang @jlang20



"Basketball Practice Drills" by Allen Iverson

-- Zachary Botelho @zbotelho66



"My Life as a Laker" by Chris Paul

-- John ryan @rjohn8106



STILL PRETTY GOUDA:

"It's Not You, It's Me" by Milton Bradley

-- Dave Heraty @Haggerty11



"The Complexity of My Mind" by Ochocinco

-- Scott Palmer @ScottPalmer11



"My Fourth Quarter Heroics" by LeBron James

-- Lewis Addison @lewis_addison



"Field Goal Specs" by Scott Norwood

--Kittens O'Connor @Duquetter



"My Time at Notre Dame" by George O'Leary

-- Jeff Grantz @jefeusc



"Between the Sheets" by Tim Tebow

-- J. Wickham @jawickham



"What Heaven Looks Like" by Al Davis

-- Art Thiel @Art_Thiel



"Sexism and the Media" by Danica Patrick

-- Tim 'Patch' Rogers @Patches_OfLight



"Genetics" by Jimmy The Greek

-- Jason Rowland @firstfireeater



"Weekend at Stevie's" (a pop-up book) by Tiger Woods.

-- John Schnettgoecke @JohnSchnett



"Above The Kim: My Married Life As A Kardashian" by Kris Humphries

--Scott Lee @SleeTweets



"Rich Rodriguez: A Michigan Man."

--Taylor DesOrmeau @TDesOrmeau



"Deep Thoughts" by Rob Gronkowski

-- Dan Hajek @luvboatcptn



"Bad Things John Wooden Did"

--Madeline's Dad @WAMK



"Charlie Weis: Salad My Way"

-- Zack Woodrich @zackwoodrich



"Facial Expressions: Excitement of Variety!" by Bill Belichick

--bradley gillespie @bscottgill



"Pebble Beach on $5 a Day"

-- John Reilly @peachrules

(That last one is my brother. He's funny.)

Follow me on Twitter! @ReillyRick

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