With one decrepit farmhand already on the roster, the Vikings moved to double-down today and signed former Texas State quarterback Paul Blake to backup Brett Favre.
“It’s not big secret that we were not happy with Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson and John David Booty,” said head coach Brad Childress. “So even with Brett in the fold, we still thought we could improve the position even more and Paul Blake gives us pretty much a carbon copy of Brett. He’s experienced. And very old. And perhaps, coincidentally, he also knows his way around a tractor.”
Blake, now in his early fifties, helped turn around the Texas State Fightin’ Armadillos in 1991 when they were trying to rebuild from a slew of NCAA sanctions. He hadn’t played for years then – and he hasn’t played since. But Childress feels he is a perfect fit in Minnesota.
“If we wanted someone who is young and mobile and still has the arm strength to make the strong, accurate throws required to be successful in the NFL, we wouldn’t have signed Brett,” said Childress. “We think this team needed something different. And if Brett would get hurt, Paul Blake brings those same things.”
Childress says Blake has yet to report to camp.
“I don’t have the heart to break it to coach that Paul Blake isn’t a real person. He’s from a movie,” said running back Adrian Peterson. “Paul Blake is fictional. He is no more real than coach’s idea that Brett Favre is still a great quarterback and a great leader.”
Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari promised Wildcats fans today that he would bring the program a national title that will quickly be stripped by the NCAA within the next five years.
"I know taking a program to the top and then destroying in such a short time is a bold goal," said Calipari. "But I am confident I can do it. I feel my whole career has been preparing me for this goal."
Calipari has almost done it before. He took UMass to a Final Four in 1996, although that appearance was later vacated due to payments made by an agent to star center Marcus Camby. In 2008 he took Memphis to a Final Four, the championship game and to within seconds of a national title. But that season's accomplishments were completely wiped from the record books due to the Tigers using an ineligible player: star point guard Derrick Rose, whose SAT exam was taken by someone else.
Calipari says the Memphis lost hurt the most.
"I knew we were going to have that whole season vacated eventually because we cheated our asses off," he said. "But we would have had something to show for it had we won the title. Losing in the last seconds meant we had nothing. They can take a win wins, but they can never take away the pride you feel in your heart over fraudulent success."
With that bitter taste in his mouth and a new $31.65 million contract lining his pockets Calipari is more determined than ever to cheat his way to a title.
"I will cut every corner, not dot any I's, not cross any T's," he said. "I was brought here to win a title and I will do anything to make it happen and fast. The NCAA is a completely toothless organization, but even they might kick me out at some point. So I have to get moving."
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is excited about Calipari's vow and determination.
"A vacated NCAA title wow, that would be awesome!" he said. "It's hard enough to win an NCAA title as is, winning one on the up-and-up is almost impossible. That's why we brought Coach Cal in. We think he has the right mix of basketball smarts and total lack of ethics to bring us the trophy. So what that the NCAA will take it back soon after? We'll make replicas."
Calipari says his first step is improving the talent at Kentucky.
"Lebron James is a free agent after this season and he has all of his college eligibility left," said Calipari. "I think I can get him here. I think he'll be interested to learn that, unlike in the NBA, my players aren't subjected to a salary cap."
AVOID: Brett Favre, QB, VikingsOkay, so this one may seem fairly obvious. But there is always someone in every fantasy league who doesn't know what they're doing. At all. And maybe that person is you. Every year that person drafts someone who is dead, suspended or out for the season with an injury. Technically, Brett Favre is not any of those three things. He just happens to play like it.
August 20, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
Two-year prison sentence finally gives Plaxico Burress a reason not to shoot himself in the leg again
Thanks to an upcoming two-year stint in a state penitentiary, former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress says he finally has a solid reason not to shoot himself in the leg. "The excruciating pain gave me pause," said Burress. "And the nine months of humiliation and being a national punchline stopped me from going right out and shooting myself again, i guess. But I still had that urge to shoot myself again. Now, though, thanks to the justice system, I have seen the error of my accidental-shooting ways." Burress says that once he finishes his sentence near the end of 2011, he wants to speak to youth about not shooting themselves. "I got trapped in that culture of accidentally shooting yourself when carrying a gun for personal protection," he said. "I don't want to see other people go down that road. I have learned my lesson: always shoot others before yourself. You will spend much less time in prison that way."
Detroit Lions draft pick Roger Jordan reported for training camp today after a 22-year and 3-month holdout. The Lions first round pick in the 1987 draft said he felt it was time to get on the field.
“Woooh, boy! I’m sore,” said Jordan after his first practice. “I’ll admit – I tried to workout while I was waiting for my contract to be resolved, but I think I’m a little bit out of shape. This 22-year holdout was longer than it felt.”
Jordan felt he had to report to camp after contract negotiations had broken down.
“I had received an offer from them in, oh … I don’t know – I remember ‘The Cosby Show’ was still on at the time,” he said. “So it’s been a couple years, I guess. I also hadn’t heard from my agent in a while about where things stood. Turns out he passed away in 1995.”
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said he was unaware the team had a holdout from the 1987 draft class, but welcomed Jordan’s arrival.
“We can use all the help we can get,” said Mayhew. “This guy has been out of football for a couple of decades. His hunger must be stronger than ever. Sure, he’s 44 now and a bit flabby and arthritic, but I think he can start for us at several positions right now.”
Jordan said he will gladly accept the team’s most recent offer: 3 years, $240,000. “That’s a lot of money and I can use it,” he said. “I thought I was going to be signed long ago and I’ve been borrowing for years, promising everyone I was good for it because I’d have a big NFL contract soon. And now that day has arrived. Woooo! I’m rich $80,000 a year!”
Fran Tarkenton is not a big Brett Favre fan. The former Vikings quarterback hates him so much he may never wear jeans or mow his lawn again. And he's proud to tell the world.
"I really have no interest in what Brett Favre does. He kind of lost me a few years ago by retiring and unretiring and here and there," Tarkenton said on "The Opening Drive" on Sirius NFL Radio."I asked a few friends here, maybe 10 or 12 people we were out with last night. I said, 'What do you think about Brett Favre going back to the Vikings?' You know who cared? Nobody. It's good news for you guys. It's good news for television and so forth but the last time I heard football was a team sport, isn't it? It's not just about the quarterback."
Next Tarkenton spoke with ESPN's Outside the Lines have responsibilities we're just not athletes that are in it all for ourself, football, is it not a team game? Isn't it all about team and here comes Brett Favre riding in on his white horse, doesn't go to training camp, doesn't come to offseason workouts and he's gonna come on his white horse and bond with all these players."
Wow. Tough words. Tarkenton clearly believes the Favre-Vikings experiment is not going to end well.
But if it would go well? Perhaps even end with a Super Bowl title? Why, that would be INCREDIBLE!
You know, for someone who apparently advocates the live-boiling of kittens, Tarkenton should probably keep his opinions to himself. Even Michael Vick wasn't that depraved.
August 20, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
100x4 relay not very exciting
The first-ever 100×4 relay at the track and field world championships was met with mixed reactions today after the opening heats.“It’s great to get so many more athletes involved – 96 more than in the regular relays,” said IAAF president Gilles Moncrief. “That format really stresses teamwork. But it looked a bit muddled out there with all of the constant handoffs.”U.S. sprinter David Gant, who runs the integral 51st leg in the 100×4, said that despite winning the preliminary heat, he didn’t have his best race.“The handoff wasn’t clean from the guy before me – I can’t remember his name,” said Gant. “And then after that, I never really seemed to get up to top speed. I only felt like I was just getting going by the time I got to the next runner. But, hey, it’s the world championships and I’m glad to be here.”
August 19, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
Usain Bolt wins drag race in Flintstones car
Jamaican track star Usain Bolt won an NHRA drag race championship today while holding a car frame on his body, Flintstones-style. "This was a little bit more of a challenge than the 100 and 200 is. The extra weight forced me to give 85 or 90-percent instead of my usual 70 percent," he said. "It felt good to be tested a little bit." Bolt hit 364.15 mph as he ran his crude vehicle across the finish line, crushing his fellow drivers. Second place finisher Dale Hawgood said he has nothing to be ashamed of. "Sometimes it's not skill. Sometimes it just comes down to who has the best equipment," he said. "And Bolt's car clearly had a better engine than my 7,000 hp ride." If he competes in a drag race again, Bolt says he will likely run with a car lighter than the Ford F-150 he hauled today.
JohnDaly, the overweight, substance-abusing professional golfer who has been married four times, is still a fan favorite on the PGA Tour, despitewinning only a single Tour event in more than 14 years. Also,he’swhite.
“I loveJohnDaly.He’smy favorite player,” said Jake Welch, aDalyfan. “He’soverweight, has women troubles, drinks a bit too much booze, he's lazy –he’san everyman. But, oh yeah, if he wasblackI’d definitely hate him.”
Jack McClintock, the editor of Golf Monthly, agrees. “Dalyis one of golf’s most beloved players even though he never wins and often doesn't even make the cut. But put some melanin in him and he’d be a total punk thug – a Cincinnati Bengal walking around with a club; a weapon. He’severything that’s wrong with sports, except, of course,he’swhite.”
Golf insiders say Daly’s alcoholism and four marriages – including one to Sherrie Daly, who was indicted on a charge of laundering drug money – as well as his police record, weight problem, frequent suspensions, flashy clothes and poor play matter very little to a public who love the big blonde’s self-effacing manner and grip-it-and-rip-it approach on and off the course.
“Daly’s whiteness actually makes all of those negatives positives for him,” said McClintock. “It’s really quite an interesting phenomenon.”
Daly, like manyblackfootball and basketball players, even has recorded an album. But Daly’s is a country album, with songs such as “All My Exes Wear Rolexes,”notrap or hip hop. “Rap is horrendous. We didn’t need another athlete with no musical talent yelling into a mic,” said Welch. “But John’s album is just about having fun.”
Even Tiger Woods, professional golf’s poster child, has noticed the benefit of the doubt that Dalyreceives as a white guy.
“Johnis an everyday reminder for me that I can’t screw up in my personal life,” said Woods. “He's sort of a role model for me in that way. Can you imagine if I did all the stuff he has done? People would look at me like I was some kind of gangbanger. That’s why I just try to keep my mouth shut and smile a lot. Heck, I get criticized if I pump my fist too much or let a curse word slip.”
August 19, 2009 Column
Stuff You Might Have Heard
Hipster pitcher gives up home run to be ironic
San Francisco Giants pitcher and noted hipster Barry Zito surrendered a home run in his latest appearance a loss for irony, he says."There's so much emphasis in our sport, in the culture of baseball, on getting batters out," said Zito. "At least that is the pressure they put on pitchers. And I try to push back against that by giving up a lot of hits. And a lot of runs. And home runs. I do it to be ironic." Zito says many people don't quite get his point of view primarily his teammates, coaches, Giants fans and the team's general manager who signed him to a huge contract. "If they don't get what I'm doing, they need to open their minds, man. The statement I'm making is bigger than wins or losses. Okay, maybe not losses. But definitely wins."