Belichick ... Oden ... and more good news from Nebraska
Respect, wrote the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam, is what Bill Belichick craves most. If so, then Belichick's part in a calculated and clumsy New England Patriots effort to cheat just cost him some of that hard-earned respect.
Michael Vick and dogfighting. Pacman and Tank. A Sept. 18 Senate hearing on NFL disability and pension benefits. Belichick cheating. Concussion controversies. Sweating out a Tim Donaghy copycat. Hey, Rog, you think Paul Tagliabue is enjoying retirement?
Imagine, say, the Chicago Bears telling the league they're going to skip the NFC Championship Game because they "want to spend more time with their families." That's the FedEx Cup "playoff."Imagine what the Bears would do if they won the Super Bowl and Goodell told them they'd get their player shares in 2017. (You'd find him taped to a goal post. In Tangiers.) That's the FedEx Cup "playoff." And I defy anyone (with the exception of CPAs or arbitragers) to explain the FedEx Cup "playoff" points system. Or how you can have 30 players in the final "playoff" tournament, but only six have a mathematical chance (and only four -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Rory Sabbatini -- have an actual chance) at winning the deferred $10 million bonus.
For all those who happily mock the NL Central, just a quick reminder that the St. Louis Cardinals won last year's World Series after finishing the regular season just five games above .500 (83-78). Meanwhile, the two teams that finished 32 games above .500 (the New York Yankees and Mets) never made it to the Series. What does it all mean? Absolutely no clue. The thought of the Chicago Cubs or Milwaukee Brewers reaching the World Series makes me want to get a CAT scan.
I want to thank the Philadelphia Eagles for carpet bombing No. 94 on my recent list of top 100 NFL preseason predictions. I said the Eagles would be the last remaining undefeated team before losing to the Patriots on Nov. 25. The stiffs couldn't even make it past Week 1 and the Green Bay Packers.
But I'm looking good on the Atlanta Falcons going winless.
The happiest franchise in America today? The Seattle/Oklahoma City SuperSonics.If the Portland Trail Blazers had taken Kevin Durant with the No. 1 pick instead of Greg Oden ...
Here's what Gene Upshaw, the staggeringly arrogant and clueless NFL Players Association executive director, said when informed by USA Today that a mass-use blood test for human growth hormone could be available within months: "There's no way I'm having my guys punched for a blood test every time they walk into a locker room."Here's what he should have said: "Our players have nothing to hide. If the test is proved reliable -- and I understand our friends at the World Anti-Doping Agency say it is -- then the NFLPA is anxious to add HGH testing to our collective bargaining agreement. After all, the credibility of our sport, as well as other sports, is at stake."
The McLaren F1 racing team was fined $100 million and forced to forfeit its standings points after the World Motor Sports Council ruled it had used leaked secret technical documents belonging to rival Ferrari. McLaren team chief Ron Dennis referred all questions to Belichick.
- "I have a ticket for Matthew O'Brien if he wants to go to the Nebraska/USC game. I don't know if he can get back or not. I don't know how to contact him either, but we owe this man more than we could ever pay. This will be the first time a number one team has come to Lincoln in the last 30 years. I would love for him to see this game, so if he can get back he can have my ticket. God Bless Matthew O'Brien."
U.S. Army Spc. O'Brien is a 22-year-old infantry paratrooper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now is suffering from vision loss in both eyes. He is currently receiving tests and treatment at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. I wrote about O'Brien earlier this week.O'Brien, whose father and younger brother are also serving in Iraq, was raised in tiny Oshkosh, Neb. He grew up idolizing Nebraska football. He's never been to a Cornhuskers game at Memorial Stadium. Until now. Thanks to the kindness of Barges, O'Brien, as well as O'Brien's mom (whom he hasn't seen in several years), will have tickets to Saturday evening's USC-Nebraska game in Lincoln. And thanks to Omaha radio station AM 590 -- and the Nebraska fans who donated cash during an impromptu fundraising session -- O'Brien has a plane ticket, a hotel room and limo arranged for him. He's also received offers to meet with specialists at the Mayo Clinic and at the University of Texas clinic in Houston. You don't think sports matters? Try telling it to Matt O'Brien. Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He co-authored Jerome Bettis' autobiography "The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet," which is available now.