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Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Updated: August 10, 8:42 AM ET
Page 2 Quickie: August 9, 2006

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Welcome, Roger Goodell.
Here's your mandate:

Don't screw it up.

NFL commissioner is the most important job in sports. He has way more power than the MLB commish; he manages an operation way more valuable than the NBA commish. (Don't even ask about being head of the NCAA.)

Make no mistake: Goodell's job is to protect the game and make money for the owners ("health" and "wealth" are often intrinsically tied).

But the NFL has become a public institution, arguably as (or more) important to American culture -- sports or otherwise -- as anything else out there. That's pressure.

Back to "Don't screw it up."

Goodell basically has three jobs:

(1) Avoid a labor war.
(2) Keep fans happy.
(3) Milk the cash cow.

It's simple: Goodell's focus on No. 1 will maintain No. 2 which, in turn, sustains No. 3.

Len P. has a must-read about the state of this dynamic.

From a fan's perspective, all that matters is what happens on the field. That's why many might call NFL commissioner the best job in sports, not just the most important.

But when "don't muck it up" is the job description, "best" can often end up way more difficult than "worst."

Welcome, Mr. Commissioner!

Landis on Leno
Another day, another excuse:

Eat me. (Literally.)

Of all the previous excuses (dehydration, Jack Daniel's, conspiracy, the media), the one Floyd Landis told Jay Leno last night might be the lamest:

"Now there's also the possibility -- and it's an argument that has been used by other people -- at this point, I don't know if it's somehow or someway I ingested something that caused the tests to be that way."

The most pathetic part is that even if Landis didn't cheat (or, according to his latest excuse, cheat on purpose), his latest effort during this week's P.R. blitz of self-defense is actually making things worse.

Parcells Cracks?
If you had Aug. 8 in your pool for the day when Bill Parcells would finally figure out having T.O. on his team stinks, today might be the day to try to claim your prize.

Parcells didn't completely freak out on the media over T.O., but he definitely showed signs that he's reaching a breaking point. Here's a summary of yesterday's camp interview between the media and Parcells:

Media: "T.O., T.O., T.O., T.O., T.O."

Parcells: "I'm getting the sense that most of the media is just waiting for something to be controversial in that regard. And I'm here to tell you, it's not going to happen from me. So you need to get that in your head. OK?"

Media: "T.O., T.O., T.O., T.O., T.O."

Parcells: "The situation is the same as I told you the other day. We are hopeful we can get the work in and get him into the program and up to speed with what we do as soon as possible.

"It hasn't changed. I said it yesterday. I said it today. I said it the first day. It's not going to change."

Media: "T.O., T.O., T.O., T.O., T.O."

Bengals Crackdown?
Kudos to the Bengals for setting up a hotline for fan complaints about the team's embarrassing run-ins with the law.

Wait: The hotline is for fans in the stands on game days to report other, obnoxious fans to stadium security?

That's a great idea, too. But again: Where's the hotline for fans to gripe about the ridiculous behavior of the team's players?

The number is 513-381-JERK, which is inspired. But don't crank-yank them, say, to turn in Matt Leinart. They claim they have Caller ID.

MLB GM Cat Fight!
Jim Bowden vs. Wayne Krivsky: Has emerged in the past 24 hours as something as close to a full-blown feud as we get in the normally buttoned-up world of baseball GMs.

At issue: Relief pitcher Gary Majewski.

Since being traded from the Nats to the Reds, the guy has stunk, and was sidelined this week with a sore shoulder. There's no structural damage, only "fatigue" (which could simply mean "Wow, I stink").

The Reds' Krivsky complained that perhaps there were some injury issues that Bowden didn't reveal; Bowden says all the paperwork was turned over and, essentially, caveat emptor.

The story comes down to this one detail: Majewski said Monday he got a cortisone shot for his shoulder just before the All-Star break; Krivsky said that was the first he'd heard of it. Whoops.

Presumably Krivsky wouldn't lie about something like that. But the solution is simple: Provide the medical records that the Nats turned over for Majewski; if the shot is in there, Krivsky is stuck.

But if it ISN'T, Bowden should have to take back his player and, obviously, MLB should punish him. Hoodwinking in a trade is one thing; leaving out key information is another.

LiriaNO! (Cont'd)
Prediction: At least one of the GMs in your fantasy baseball league will pick up Liriano fill-in Matt Garza and win your league.

Garza is yet another stud from the Twins' farm system: 3-1, 1.85 ERA with 33 Ks in 5 Triple-A starts (18-8, 2.73 ERA, 243 Ks in 37 total minor league starts).

USA Hoops: Whew!
Yesterday was a wake-up call for all of you USA Hoops homers out there who thought thumping Puerto Rico by 46 or China by 45 meant anything.

Team USA played a real team (Brazil) and barely escaped an exhibition game with a four-point win. That margin should be close enough to scare the bejesus out of even the most jingoistic supporter.

(Oh, and Carmelo Anthony had to leave the game with a hyperextended knee; he has been USA's most consistent -- and motivated -- performer. He had 16 points in less than two quarters before being injured. He'll be OK.)

CFB Loophole
Florida football executed its best trick play of the season on Tuesday; fans of every other top team should pay attention to it.

With a depleted secondary, the Gators took in transfer Ryan Smith, a very talented cornerback from Urban Meyer's old Utah program.

Here's the twist: Smith didn't have to sit out the usual year.

Under a new rule, players graduating with eligibility left can bolt to new programs to pursue graduate study -- and play immediately.

Smith, who actually graduated with two years of football eligibility left, will instantly help the Gators. And perhaps spark a hot new trend.

(Speaking of new rules, THIS is a dumb one.)

Wie Fires Caddie
I don't have a problem with Michelle Wie firing her caddie, Greg Johnston; Tiger Woods fired Fluff Cowan, and no one had a problem with that.

Wie's top 5 finishes this season were book-ended by the ball-drop fiasco at the start of her season and her 26th-place finish at the British last week.

My problem is that, apparently, she didn't do it herself. That's a little too "diva-ish" for me. Particularly (or perhaps EVEN) if she's only 16. This isn't an episode of MTV's "Super Sweet 16."

If she wants to play as a pro, she should act like a pro and be classy enough to fire her caddie herself. Bet she'd learn as much from that as from anything he might be able to teach her.

MLB: No Fantasy?
The most relevant court case of the year for sports fans came down yesterday:

Ruling: Fantasy companies don't have to pay MLB a license fee to operate fantasy leagues.

Winning argument: Players' names and stats are in the public domain, not property of MLB.

Implication: While it probably won't affect your fantasy baseball experience, there's no barrier to entry for new companies to enter the marketplace, which should increase fantasy-league innovation.

(It also means that MLB -- and presumably the NFL and NBA -- can't necessarily charge for fantasy rights, an expected source of significant income. MLB paid its players $50 million for fantasy rights. D'oh.)

Lingering questions: Does this apply to video games, too? And what about college sports? Traditionally, no actual names have been able to be used (Brady Quinn is "Notre Dame QB No. 10"). How does this change things?