Sept. 4, 2003
Britney Spears:
As if macking with Madonna wasn't enough, career revival continues tonight as headliner at NFL Kickoff party (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
THURSDAY.  COUNTDOWN.

As long as Britney's on the brain, hum along to an NFL season preview.

* (You Drive Me) Crazy: For all the complaints about it, parity rules. Surprise playoff teams of 2003: Chargers, Ravens, Redskins. More competitive than you think: Bengals, Lions, Seahawks.

* Oops! I Did It Again: Looking for players who will repeat stellar 2002 seasons? Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis; but: having a top RB meant zilch for '02 playoffs. Breakout in '03? Browns RB William Green, Lions QB Joey Harrington, Texans WR Jabar Gaffney.

* Overprotected: "Avoiding a QB controversy" is totally overrated; competition is a great thing. QB situations to watch: Rams' Bulger is better than Martz pet Warner; Vinny and the Jets; pro Boller's tour in Baltimore; anything involving Bill Parcells in Dallas.

* ... Baby, One More Time: Hope you like your Sapp served chatty -- Bucs will repeat as Super Bowl champs.

Manny Watch
With Ramirez back in the lineup, Red Sox beat White Sox 5-4: Let's clarify the position on Manny -- Boston doesn't need him to keep winning (they need, oh, pitching and more timely home runs, like the one from Wednesday hero David Ortiz). But it certainly won't hurt to have Manny in the cleanup spot.

MLB Races
The Twins' winning finish over Anaheim was too gloriously freaky to describe; track down the wild SC highlight ...

Bowa's a fiery genius as long as Phillies win, a nutjob if they don't ...

Depending on how you feel about Moises Alou this week, his 5-for-5

FALSE IMPRISONMENT? LAST SEASON'S NBA FINALS
THE SET-UP: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR THE WEEKEND
1 Jets at Redskins: NFL season opener; 'nuff said
2 Cards at Cubs: Wild (and endless) series continues
3 US Open: Ha, ha ... yeah, right.
THE SIT-DOWN: DROP THESE FROM YOUR HOT LIST
1 Lance Armstrong's marriage: He and wife getting divorced
2 L. Milloy on market: Bills' gain; Pats' loss
3 Tiger reportedly disliking women drivers: Oh, please
 
in Cubs' 6-run comeback win over the Cards was due or (spit) an injustice ...

Well, the A's had to lose sometime ...

What happened to the Expos? Must be distracted by next season's hazy home schedule ...

Meanwhile, the mid-season fave Marlins are quietly hanging around.

Clarett's Future
It's not that Maurice's Clarett's punishment shouldn't follow him to whichever school he is enrolled (be it Ohio State, Florida State or Ball State ... ahh, dream on, Whitlock!); but it begs a question over hypocrisy why a college coach can skip from school to school, leaving scandal in his wake.

Yet here come the coaches (hoops, at least), holding a mandatory "emergency" meeting (in mid-October ... feel the urgency?) to discuss the ethics

problem in their profession. Previous working title: "The Dave Bliss Celebrity Roast"; Keynote speaker: Larry Eustachy; Refreshments provided by: Sneaker companies.

BCS on Hill
Your tax dollars at work: The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Thursday about potential antitrust issues surrounding the college football BCS, because -- in a sport gratuitously about money -- teams that don't drive any of that money want a piece of that money. Funny, all the non-BCS teams happily take that BCS cash to be early-season road-patsies.

US Open:
Today's forecast: Scattered Thunderstorms. (Arm-out-apt-window Index: Doesn't feel promising.)
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Sports Guy's NFL preview
P2: Tennis fashion mistakes
NFL: Week 1 matchups
 
"NFL MVP Contenders" Edition
RBs
Ricky, LT, Portis (But no SB)
 
Favre
There's an "aging vet" bonus
 
McNabb
Gets Favre-like respect
 
Sapp
Why not, if Bucs' D runs amok?
 
Vick
Would be hell of 1/2 season
 

Read between Larry Bird's lines: "If we had players that weren't happy here, we would try to do our best to move them somewhere" ...

Underpaid or not, Priest Holmes got a pretty sizeable deal extension for someone no one's sure can make it through the season ...

Kudos to Bill Cosby for performing at Baylor tonight for free ...

First chance to whiff an NFL pick this season: 'Skins 17, Jets 16 ...



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