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January 17, 2014

It's NFL Champ Sunday! Who'll win? Poll. Vote!; plus Charlotte mocks Heat fans, LeBron's b-day words for Wade, IOC's 'anti-American' ruling & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 19. Marlins avoid arbitration with Giancarlo Stanton, sign him to one-year, $6.5 million deal. Smart for both sides. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins hire Lazor as OC with poll, Lauren Tannehill's gun, Heat lose 3rd straight as Oden debuts, LeBroning, Heat White House visit, Clark the Cub & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Click on Super Sunday Twice for today's column by me previewing the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Also click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes-column package leading with the Heat. 

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF PIX: 2 GAMES, 2 UPSETS. OY!: The NFL delivers us Champ Sunday, the best day of football of all. Start with Patriots-Broncos and the 15th edition of Tom 1aa1fripix 1aa1afcnfccgBrady vs. Peyton Manning. Continue with 49ers-Seahawks and the best and most brutal rivalry in the sport. Delicious! Betting odds portend a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl. But I'm predicting a 49ers-Patriots SB with road-'dog upets in both the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Click on Playoff Championship Gems for the expanded prediction capsules on both games. Our usual Friday Page NFL column previewing Sunday's games will appear this week in Sunday's paper (Saturday online). Meantime, I'm curious how many of you agree with me that both Sunday games will be upsets. (I doubt many). Tell me in this poll. This is not asking who you want to win but who you predict will. Vote, say why and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Niners-Seahawks preview from Taiwan: Click HERE for a short Taiwanese animation video on the NFC title game. Strangely, it all makes sense to me.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS MOCK HEAT FANS: Charlotte's arena played a scoreboard video mocking "bandwagon" Heat fans during last night's game, a Miami win. The club has since removed from YouTube the video that meant to embarrass the Heat but embarrassed the home team instead. Seriously, Charlotte? Really!? Yours is one of the worst franchises in sports history. You are in a position to mock no one about anything.

LEBRON'S BIRTHDAY MESSAGE TO D.WADE: Dwyane Wade turns 32 today and Heat teammate LeBron James posted a photo collage of the two of them on Instagram along with this message, shaded 1aa1heat2and verbatim: "Happy Bday to my running mate, homie, brother, and most of all straight up friend! The friendship we've created our rookie year at pre draft camp was pure and that's why we stuck together from that point on! Obviously didn't know we would eventually become teammates and do the things we've done so far. I came to Miami for 2 reasons. To play with U and to win championships and I can't thank u enough for the sacrifice you've made since I arrived homie! No matter what happens in the future we stuck together like brothers for life. And no matter what they say, u still a BAD Mutha-Shut-Yo-Mouth out there on that court! @dwyanewade. Oh almost forgot u old as dirt! Boy you look 40. Hahaha! #TreyBallBDay #YouASuckaOnYoBDay" That's not friendship you can fake. That's real. The chilling part for Heat fans: "No matter what happens in the future..." 

IN DEFENSE OF OLYMPICS' 'ANTI-AMERICAN' RULING: The International Olympic Committee told U.S. women's hockey goalie Jessie Vetter she can't wear her stylized helmet with the words 'We The People' (pictured) during the upcoming Sochi Games. The immediate reaction of any patriotic American might be 1aa1vetterhelmetrighteous indignation, but wait a second. The IOC has a rule against athletes engaging in all forms of "publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise," which makes sense and must be broadly applied to have any weight. Do I personally consider quoting from the preamble of the Consitution to be a play for publicity or to be propaganda? No and no. But it's a short leap from 'We the People' to 'In God We Trust' to 'Right to Bear Arms' to 'Viva Fidel' to 'Pro-Choice' to 'Support Gay Rights' to 'Run Hillary Run!' to 'Hi Mom' to 'Yankees Suck.' You get me? Better to not allow any sort of "statement," however benign, than to have to decide what's OK and isn't from a proliferation of them. Me, I think what it stands for makes 'We The People' one of the greatest phrases ever, but in the context of an international gathering, it is a poltical statement. I do think the Olympics can be a platform to espouse free expression. For example, I encourage U.S. Olympic athletes to criticize host Russia's anti-gay law in interviews if they are of a mind. But I can also see why literally wearing a message on one's sleeve (or hockey helmet) during competition might be prohibited.

Poll result: Broad support for Lazar as new Dolphins' O.C.: Call it Bill Lazor's first win as a Dolphin. We asked in the last blogpost and you answered overwhelmingly in support of Miami hiring Lazor as offensive coordinator. Approval topped 90 percent with 46.7% "leaning favorable" on the hire and 44.5% "very favorable." Only 5.7% (leaning) and 3.1% (very) were unfavorable.

FINDING JEFF GILLOOLY: With the Winter Olympics near and a new documentary out on Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding, reporter Amy K. Nelson tracked down Jeff Gillooly, who infamously masterminded the knee-capping of Kerrigan on Harding's behalf. Gillooly is now Jeff Stone, living in Oregon. Fascinating piece. Read it HERE.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

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