Commentary

I'm a sports celebrity; get me outta here!

Originally Published: June 18, 2009
By Thomas Neumann | Page 2

NBC is promoting the living daylights out of "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," its latest entry into the overexposed world of reality television. Strangely enough, the show has given us an epiphany for the sports world.

If you're unfamiliar with the show, here's a thumbnail sketch: It's a "Survivor" knockoff featuring a smattering of B-listers and 14:59ers as contestants. Participants are stuck in the unforgiving Costa Rican jungle, performing a series of grueling tasks until viewers vote them to safety. Unless you're a childish, talentless celebutard, in which case you can simply quit and fly home first-class.

The show's cultural significance cannot be overstated. After all, its Wikipedia entry is three times longer than the one for the Teapot Dome scandal. Need we say more?

Unfortunately, only one member of the sports world appears on the show: four-time NBA champ John Salley, who's no stranger to dubious television appearances. So since trade demands are almost as old as pro sports themselves, we think its only fitting to help the following sports figures out of trying situations.

Meet our contestants:



 Blake Griffin, Clippers


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Scenario: Oklahoma basketball star is poised to be selected No. 1 overall in the draft and tied to the Los Angeles junior varsity with a four-year sentence contract.

Advice: Griffin should send brother Taylor to the draft in his place. Although Taylor is three years older and has thinner hair, we're convinced the Clips won't notice. There's a reasonable chance Griffin could send Courtney Paris and the team still wouldn't have a clue.




 Calvin Johnson, Lions


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Scenario: As if Johnson didn't have enough sanitation experience before being drafted No. 2 overall in 2007, the former Georgia Tech star suffered through the filth of the first 0-16 season in NFL history.

Advice: Johnson should show up to work wearing a sweater like this and driving one of these. If that doesn't get him his outright release, nothing will.




David Beckham, Galaxy


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Scenario: The star midfielder/global icon is due back in MLS next month and remains under contract until December. It's no secret he wants to return to Europe.

Advice: Feign injury. This is the best opportunity for Beckham to gain his release and still collect his salary. He should tell team doctors he threw out his back lugging around a tractor exhaust pipe. After all, back pain is difficult to diagnose, and the cause frequently fails to show up on CT scans and MRIs.




Shaquille O'Neal, Suns


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Scenario: The experiment in the desert hasn't worked out as planned, and Phoenix would love to dump the Big Tweeter's $20 million salary. Meantime, the Cavaliers could use an intimidating big man -- even a 37-year-old one -- to fortify their interior defense.

Advice: Beg. Borrow. Steal. Acquire compromising photos of GM Steve Kerr. Do whatever you need to do to get to Cleveland, so we can be entertained by a puppet dressed like this next postseason.




 Stephen Strasburg, Nationals


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Scenario: San Diego State pitcher was selected No. 1 overall in this month's amateur draft by the Nationals after being touted as one of the most highly acclaimed pitching prospects ever.

Advice: Allowing the Aug. 17 signing deadline to elapse probably isn't a viable option for Strasburg, because the Nats have the inside track to acquiring the No. 1 pick again next season and would get the No. 2 pick as compensation. Instead, Strasburg should start working on his hitting stroke and sign a massive deal on the eve of the deadline. Clearly, he will be the staff ace before long. He also could probably hit fourth or fifth in that lineup, so he needs to insist on incentive clauses for leading the team in hits, runs and RBIs.




  Nick Saban, NCAA probation


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Scenario: Mere months after bringing the storied Alabama football program back to national prominence with a 12-2 season that included a No. 1 ranking at the end of the regular season, Saban's program is slapped with three years of probation.

Advice: Raise hell publicly. After all, nothing happened to Ohio StateNothing happened to USC … Where's the justice? Oh wait, the NCAA isn't taking away any scholarships? It's only making you erase a few lines in your media guide? Sweet! Never mind.




  Michelle Wie, LPGA


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Scenario: The wunderkind of women's golf has earned tens of millions of dollars in endorsements and appearance fees despite never winning a professional tournament.

Advice: Are you kidding? Retire at age 19.




  Ryan Leaf, the long arm of the law


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Scenario: The biggest sports flop of the ESPN era ran afoul of the law earlier this year. He was arrested Wednesday at the U.S.-Canada border, and faces a July 16 court date in Texas.

Advice: Two words: insanity plea.




Adam Morrison, professional basketball


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Scenario: He won a ring while playing zero minutes for the Lakers this postseason. What's left to accomplish?

Advice: Petition the NCAA for fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth years of eligibility. Exhibit A: inability of mustache to grow beyond the wispy stage.




Terrell Owens, Bills


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Scenario: After burning yet another bridge, this one in Dallas, the talented but aging wide receiver signed a one-year deal with the Bills in March. Owens said he won't buy a house in western New York, and it's beginning to appear as if he won't rent there either.

Advice: Channel your inner Duane Thomas, circa 1971. Then, after proving you can play nicely with others, sign a one-year deal with a contender in 2010.



Also receiving votes: Brandon Marshall, Broncos; Dany Heatley, Senators; Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, Timberwolves; David Lee, Knicks; Jason Campbell, Redskins; Roger Clemens, federal grand jury; Vince Carter, Nets; LeBron James, if Shaq shows up; Brady Quinn, Browns; Phoenix Coyotes, creditors; New York Rangers, Sean Avery; Jose Canseco, financial ruin; Julius Peppers, Panthers; Jake Peavy, Padres; America, Brett Favre.


Thomas Neumann is an editor for Page 2.

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