January 31, 2006
Terrell Owens:
It wouldn't be a Super Bowl without some T.O. talk! He was reportedly in Denver talking with the Broncos. Plummer to Owens? It could work.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

The annual tradition continues!

So here are a few questions in honor of Super Bowl media day, when at least 90 percent of the quotes and footage you'll see (and see... and see...) the rest of the week is collected:

Who gets this year's Mandy Moore Award -- the hottie celebrity interviewer whom players dismiss bitter, dumpy-looking reporters for?

What disruptive cable-channel antics will cause no-fun sportswriters to whine, "They let anyone in here these days!"

When will the awkward foreign reporter provide the hilarious Malaprop of the Week, such as "Shaun Alexander, are you proud of winning Most Vulnerable Player?"

Where will the biggest crowd of reporters gather? Around Jerome Bettis? Nah, too easy. Maybe around Joey Porter, who makes Stephen A. look like he has a filter. (See "Big 5," right.)

How many Snoop Dogg sightings will there be? And will that be more or less than the number of Chuck Klosterman references to obscure rock trivia in his Page 2 blog?

Which enterprising reporter will ask players about their feelings about the "Fire Millen!" campaign? We must know!

Why does the media insist on asking the same questions over and over? Why does the media insist on asking the same questions over and over?

Don't forget to send your own media day questions to ESPN.com.

XL: Latest Storylines
Have you heard Jerome Bettis is from Detroit? That's the early leader for the title of Most Overplayed Super Bowl Story Line. Hasselbeck's hair, Cowher's chokery and Holmgren's inability to win without Favre are going to have to have a big media day to jump back into contention.

Anti-anti-Seattle backlash: It will happen. There's too much Seattle marginalizing. But Seahawks players would be wise not to play the "dis" card. Let uncommitted fans find their way to a rooting interest after being force-fed the Eastern Establishment's man-love for all things Pittsburgh.

XL Fashion: Speaking of Bus, a bunch of Steelers players arrived in Detroit wearing green Bettis Notre Dame throwback jerseys. I know he had a big Sugar Bowl in that jersey back in 1992 (150 yards), but this is ridiculous.

XL Party Scene: The NFL media party is tonight. With so many ESPNers in Detroit, there have to be a few stories that trickle out Wednesday morning. Perhaps we'll see Scoop and Klosterman act out a scene from "You Got Served."

Super Poll XL: In a SportsNation poll, 63 percent of fans said they think the Steelers will win, with 60 percent of fans rooting for the Steelers and 58 percent thinking either Bettis or Roethlisberger will win MVP.

Check out the state-by-state results, in which only Washington, Oregon and Idaho had a majority rooting interest in Seattle. (But the map showing Steelers dominance is oddly Seahawks blue ... omen?)

(By the way, take this poll to help decide the reverse-order that ESPN2 will broadcast the annual NFL Films marathon of every Super Bowl.)

XL: Page 2 Coverage
In case you missed Monday's kickoff coverage of the Super Bowl on Page 2:

Klosterman is at 10,000 feet.
Murph's obsessed with... hair?
Gallo pulls Frey-like fakery.
Skip must read the Quickie...

Remember: There's still time to sign up for the Daily Quickie's "Big Game Showdown" Super Bowl picks contest. Click here to sign up, and find the group Daily Quickie Readers.

LeBron James: Will participate in All-Star Skills comp
Nate McMillan: Wins in return to Seattle as Blazers coach
Shaun White: Lands 3 1080s, winning X Games halfpipe gold
LeBron James: Turns down All-Star Dunk comp for 3rd time
Louisville: Loses to 'Nova, the Cards' 5th loss in 6 games
Windsor, Ontario: If SB XLers will find trouble, it's here
CBB Top 25: N. Iowa!
Northern Iowa is this season's "sexy" mid-major team. After early statement wins over Iowa and at LSU, they had been hanging around the "Also Receiving Votes" periphery of the Top 25 all season and finally broke through this week, ranked for the first time in school history.

UNI (I call 'em "NIowa") is the class of the Mo Valley Conference, which is ranked 6th among conferences by RPI. Frankly, if you only consider the top 5 or 6 teams, then the MVC is probably nastier than any conference outside of the Big East. Without a rep to carry its teams, they play scrappier.

As we head into the final 6 weeks before Selection Sunday, one of the biggest questions will be whether the MVC can snag more invitations than traditional (and less-deserving) "power" conferences like the Pac-10, SEC or Big 12.

Related: NIowa is a headliner of ESPN's annual "Bracket Buster" slate of games among top mid-major conference teams. They drew the schedule's toughest matchup: Against 2005 NCAA Tournament upstart Bucknell. (Feb. 17/18)

Kobe Watch
"Embarrassed" is how Kobe says he feels about the hoopla over his 81. Let's examine his analysis a little more closely:

"I think it's exciting for the game and the organization because of all the buzz, but personally it's a little embarrassing."

I have a hard time believing he doesn't like having his 81 discussed in the same breath as Wilt's 100.

"The concept is not about going out there and putting on a show or going out there and scoring points. It's to win games."

Fair, but disingenuous. The proof is in the box score: He must think the only way to win games is by shooting a lot. (Of course, with those weak teammates, he might be right.)

Meanwhile, Kobe plays his first and only game of the season at Madison Square Garden tonight. Channeling MJ, will he put up a double-nickel?

WBC Mania
I've been arguing since its inception that the World Baseball Classic will be huge -- even if fans and naysaying critics don't know it yet.

One key factor (in addition to not competing too directly with the NCAA Tournament) is distribution: Tuesday's announcement that ESPN will broadcast live games -- including the semis and finals -- will help give the tournament the exposure it needs to become a phenomenon.

Other key factors: Plenty of can't-look-away "mercy rule" games; dynamic U.S. team lineups; cool jerseys that fans will want to wear; and a collision-course championship between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

Sex vs. Augusta
Best. Survey. Ever. In two magazine polls, 32 percent of men (and 31 percent of women) said they would give up a year of sex in exchange for a tee time at Augusta National.

Kudos to the 68 percent who had the good sense to take schtupping over putting. Can you imagine coming home to your spouse and saying, "We won't be having sex for a year; I'm holding out for Amen Corner."

Augusta National's clubhouse might be nice, but it can't possibly be worth the doghouse you'd be in. That's a lot of cold showers and Tom Brady-style Internet usage in exchange for four and a half hours on a golf course.

(And if you're single, if you are choosing golf over sex -- I don't care where you're getting to play -- then you probably were not a contender for sex that year anyway.)

State of Sports Union
In honor of the real State of the Union speech tonight, I present my own annual "State of the Sports Union":

For three straight Januaries, I've argued that the state of sports has never been better. For the first time, I'm wondering whether that has taken its toll.

Are fans as excited about this Super Bowl matchup as they were for the last few years of the Pats dynasty? No. As compelling as the White Sox's story was, it couldn't measure up to those other Sox. And despite an amazing 7-game NBA Finals, the general fan consensus was "Zzz...."

What's happening? My theory is that fans were spoiled by the hyper-drama (or perhaps just hyped drama) of Kobe and Shaq, of the Red Sox and of the Pats dynasty). But the superlative is unsustainable.

It wasn't all underwhelming: Last year's NCAA Tourney provided as sensational an Elite Eight weekend as the sport has ever seen. And in college football, the Rose Bowl was as hyped as any game ever -- and exceeded it.

If there's hope for 2006, look internationally: Between the Winter Olympics, the World Baseball Classic and the World Cup, there will be plenty of excitement -- but only if fans in the U.S. are willing to embrace it.

Recruiting "experts":
Top prep FB prospect Myron Rolle made some harsh accusations to the Knight Commission about the sleaziness of recruiting "experts." Tracking ...
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Page 2 Index
Media Day Topics
"How does it feel...?"
"Tell us again about..."
"What worries you...?"
"If you were a tree...?"
"Talk about..."

Clemens pitches BP to Astros, but remained coy about his future. No hurry; Unlike Favre/Packers, Houston doesn't have a salary cap to manage.

Wolves beat Celtics: Minny led by ex-C's Marcus Banks (20p, 6a), Mark Blount (16p, 10r), Ricky Davis (9p, 5r, 5a). Ex-Wolf Wally had 22.

MLB Stove: In anticipated move, Red Sox land Marlins refugee Alex Gonzalez to replace Theo's biggest mistake as GM (now-exiled Edgar Renteria).

Confirmation Ron Artest is full-on crazy: "Once this team gets adjusted to each other, I feel like we're one of the better teams in the league."

More Northern Iowa love: UNI's football team made it to the Division 1-AA championship game. Nice 2005-'06 athletic year for the school!

Nothing more annoying than sports columnists boasting about how many Super Bowls they've covered. Watching it on TV is the superior experience.

Sad news about the death of Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr. Condolences to her family, friends and many admirers.

Don't forget to sign up for the "Big Game Showdown" to compete with me and other fans. See Q It Up and find group name "Daily Quickie Readers."

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