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14 posts from February 2010

February 26, 2010

Chuck Liddell and girlfriend's nude workout (with video); plus Carlos Arroyo arrest, fantasy baseball rankings, Heat/Panther playoff odds, Mandich illness & more

1aachuck LIDDELL, GIRLFRIEND DUPE THE MASSES -- NAKED: This is the way it goes now. A 42-second video of UFC star Chuck Liddell and his girlfriend working out while nude (right) suddenly appears on YouTube. Predictably the vid goes viral because, well, Chuck Liddell and a voluptuous blond are working out nude. But then (of course) it turns out to be a plant by Reebok. One might not notice when seeing the video for the first time -- too much else to look at? -- but Chuckie and Boobie are wearing nothing but ... Reebok ZigTechs! We present the nudie guerilla ad here, but be warned. Even though private parts are fuzzed out, youngsters and the easily offended should probably not watch. By the way, as a counter to my guilt for promulgating this subliminal ad, let me mention that I have heard that Reebok ZigTechs cause foot odor and bunions.

1aaaroyo CARLOS ARROYO ARREST: Heat guard busted by Coral Gables cops this morning after he refused an order to pull his car over, refused at first to exit his vehicle, then resisted arrest without violence, all according to a police report that called him "confrontational and challenging." Police mugshot at right. Reserving judgement until more is known, but geez, c'mon, athletes! Y'all are the most fortunate, overpaid people on Earth, so pardon us for expecting that, in exchange for that money, the club might get not only your athletic skill but maybe a little law-abiding citizenship, too?

1aacanada OMG, CANADA!: Canadian women won hockey gold, defeating the U.S. 2-0 Thursday, and now the players have been wrist-slapped by the humorless IOC for going back on the ice 30 minutes later (the crowd had left) and celebrating with beer, champagne and cigars (see photo). I encourage this behavior. It's a bleepin' gold medal! Plus, since it's up in Vancouver, chances are the cigars were fine Cubanos.  

HEAT, PANTHERS PLAYOFF ODDS: Checking in with the coolstandings.com site we like, which uses a formula to continually update teams' playoff chances. Heat playoff chances as of today register as a near-lock at 88.7 percent. Panthers are registering as dust-off-the-golf-clubs at 4.5 percent.

1aahanley FANTASY BASEBALL REARS HEAD: ESPN The Mag's new issue lists its top 100 fantasy picks for 2010, and predictably it's Albert Pujols and Marlin Hanley Ramirez 1-2, with Hanley pictured at left indicating, "I'm No. 2!" Alex Rodriguez is a somewhat more surprising (at least to me) third. Other Marlins listed: Starting pitchers Josh Johnson (74) and Ricky Nolasco (86).

1aajimON MANDICH'S ILLNESS: WQAM radio fixture (and former Dolphin) Jim Mandich, right, continues off the air as he battles what is being described as a serious illness. To his fans and listeners and to my media brethren, let's please respect his privacy. Best wishes, Jim.

A NEW YORK SUPER BOWL?: There are strong indications the 2014 Super Bowl, to be awarded next month, will go to the new Giants/Jets complex at The Meadowlands. I'm not sure which excites me more: The idea of a snow-covered Super Bowl Week? Or the warm hospitality so personified by Jets fans and New Yorkers in general? 

POT CALLS KETTLE BLACK: This story amused me. It's about students from a tiny township in Pennsylvania wearing overalls and John Deere caps to a girls high-school basketball game to make fun ("Farmers!") of students from an even tinier township in Pennsylvania. Reminded me of a story in The Onion (here) about a Target shopper mocking Wal-Mart shoppers.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this post throughout ther day.

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 22, 2010

The Tiger Column; plus Brandon Marshall in aqua (with poll), Winter Olys, Dalai Lama, Serena nails new career & more

[Thanks to all who tapped into Live-Chat Wednesday! Do it from 1-2 p.m. every week. Click here to join live or to post questions any time throughout the week].

THE TIGER COLUMN: Today's column by me defending Tiger Woods -- not on the philandering (!), but on his Friday mea culpa -- is drawing a huge response. It is the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com today, and it is generating a ton of email as well. Therefore I thought I'd invite commentary in this blog forum as well. Click here to read the column. Weigh in if you'd like.

1aadomranch HANLEY RAMIREZ: GENTLEMAN RANCHER: The Marlins star alerted the media today at spring training that he has built a working ranch 35 miles outside Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Pictured at right is an exclusive photographic depiction of what Hanley would look like overseeing his Dominican ranch if he looked like this guy.

1aatamiami [Joyful Tuesday update: Tamiami has been named the safest neighborhood in Greater Miami by neighborhoodscout.com. Tamiamians have only a 1 in 370 chance of being a crime victim in any one year. I didn't say this was an intersting update. Only a joyful one]

THREE AND A HALF QUICK DOLPHIN THOUGHTS: 1. Peter King, who knows as much about the NFL as anyone, says estranged Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall (pictured) can be had for a second-round pick. Miami happens to have both a second-round pick and a throbbing need at WR. Snap! Get it done, Tuna. Remember, a big talent who's high maintenance is preferable to Ted Ginn with a great attitude. Git'r done! Your thoughts welcome. Take a dip in our poll.

[Blognote: The above is our latest poll to blast past 1,000 votes in its first day. Thanks and keep 'em coming!] 

2. Chad Pennington is a wanted man. Various speculative reports indicate he could be wanted as a backup by the Jets, Lions or Bucs, and possibly as a starter in St. Louis or Arizona, where trust in Matt Leinart would fit in a thumble. Part of that is that this year's free-agent QB crop is so weak that Pennington looks good by comparison. The thing is, Miami had better compete to keep him as Chad Henne's backup, because the alternative is two of the scariest words imaginable to a Dolfan: Pat White.

3. Cornerback Will Allen, arrested for DUI after allegedly driving drunk up to a police blockade and mentioning he needed to get past. Wow. If the bust is legit, I think ol' Will has just provided a fresh new answer in the category, How To Know If You Are Driving Impaired.

3.5. The Pats franchise-tagging nose tackle Vince Wilfork and removing him from free agency is not a huge loss for the Dolphins, in that Miami likely would not have spent the millions required to sign a guy turning 29 this season.

P.S., Chargers released LaDainian Tomlinson late this afternoon. Don't go there, Dolfans. Guy's on fumes.

SORE-LOSER CANADIANS: There are media reports that some bitterly disappointed Canadian fans were chanting "[Bleep] USA! [Bleep] USA!" toward the end of Sunday's 5-3 upset hockey loss to the Americans in the Vancouver Olympics. I am surprised the Canadians are such sore losers, having had so much practice at losing and all.

WE HATE THE WINTER OLYMPICS: The Miami/Fort Lauderdale TV market ranks 54th of 55 monitored U.S. cities/regions in Vancouver Games viewership. Dead last is New Orleans because, between Super Bowl hangover and Mardi Gras, the entire city is too drunk to find the remote. Loved this line by Jimmy Kimmel: "Skiing. Snowboarding. Ice skating. These are not sports. They're vacation activities. I feel like I'm watching someone's home movies."   

1aadanish2 AND YET, SUDDENLY, I LOVE CURLING: Used to hate curling like anybody else, because nothing involving brooms and women five months pregnant can possibly be considered a sport. But now I love curling. That's because I now have a favorite player, Madeleine Dupont of Denmark, who has raised eyebrows by posing topless for a European curling-federation calendar. I personally do not care to know the dates of any upcoming curling matches, but would be pleased to have the calendar just in case.

MORE BIG NUDES: MICHAEL VICK: Nude curling. That reminds me. Playgirl magazine has offered a $1 million donation to PETA if Michael Vick will pose nude in the magazine.

1aamardigras DALAI LAMA ON TIGER WOODS: Tibet's exiled spiritual leader said (click here) that he had never heard of Tiger Woods in a brief weekend interview from his hotel suite in Beverly Hills. Still trying to decide what's more ludicrous: That anyone who spends a great deal of time in the U.S. hasn't heard of Tiger Woods. Or that a spiritual leader would require the lavish trappings of a Beverly Hills suite. (Pictured left, apropos of nothing, a Tiger Mardi Gras float lampooning his infidelity and fall from grace).

1aaserenaw SERENA'S FALLBACK CAREER: Palm Beach-based tennis star Serena Williams reveals on her Twitter site that she is taking classes (pictured right) to learn how to be a nail technician. As in giving manicures. As in trimming other people's toenails. This is either an inventively orchestrated gag or just about the most bizarre thing I can recall a millionaire athlete doing since Ricky Williams quit the NFL to go live in a tent in the Australian outback. Either way, points to Serena.

CAN DOWN SYNDROME EVER BE FAIR GAME FOR HUMOR?: This is about a scene from Family Guy in which Chris is dating a young woman with Down Syndrome -- the voiceover done by an actress with Down Syndrome, if that matters. Click here for a bit of the scene, which needles Sarah Palin, and for Palin's reaction.

HEADLINES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D SEE (one in a series): Click here. The other possibility is to keep the design like it is, and teach your young child the concept of taking small bites and chewing.

1aawillywonka DEAR GREG...: ..."Your blog's OK, but would be better if occasionally you would show an airline safety-card depicting Willy Wonka making an emergency exit. Thank you."

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 19, 2010

What local coach should be most worried about his job? (with poll); plus Tiger's extraordinary mea culpa, World Cup reality show & more

1aaadeboer 1aaagonzalez 1aaahaith 1aaashannon 1aaaspoelstra FIVE OF OUR BIG-SIX COACHES FEELING HEAT: My latest column (click here to read) contends that, while the Dolphins' Tony Sparano is safe, all five of our other biggest-team coaches are feeling job-heat for various reasons I detail. Talking about (alphabetically) Pete DeBoer/Panthers, Fredi Gonzalez/Marlins, Frank Haith/UM basketball, Randy Shannon/UM football and Erik Spoelstra/Heat, pictured here in reverse order. Take a dip in our poll and tell us which man you think should be closest to the firing line or feeling the most heat. Vote, and drop a comment making your case why. (Or am I way off and none of them should be worried?)


TIGER SAYS SORRY, LEAVES RETURN TO GOLF UNDEFINED: It's Tiger Woods Contrition Day in America. Watched and heard his 15-minute statement from PGA Tour HQ near Jacksonville, and was enormously impressed by his candor. This was a major, positive step in the rehab of his image since being shamed by reports of serial infidelity. It was a non-press conference, fully orchestrated and sans questions, but was extraordinarily significant anyway. He admitted everything: "I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated." He said, "I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I felt I was entitled." He asked people "to find room in your hearts to one day believe in me again." Woods accepted full responsibility and apologized with what seemed genuine honesty. As for golf, he left his return ill-defined, only saying, "I don't rule out that it will be this year." Clearly, we can rule out Doral in March. Neither is the Masters in April, once assumed, now seeming likely. I thought Tiger handled Friday's mea culpa extremely well. Your thoughts welcome.

1aausa CALLING SOCCER NUTS: Are you the biggest fan of international soccer you know? Are you a ham who'd like to be on TV? Is going to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa a goooooaaaaalllll of yours? If you answered yes-yes-yes, click on Bud House and have at it. I dislike reality shows as a genre but this actually sounds like a promising premise.

1aadick FUNDRAISER: I know the timing isn't great, what with so much money deservedly going toward Haiti relief and all. But I would today like to announce an effort to raise a lot of money for the purpose of paying Dick Cheney to shut the [bleep] up and go away. Who's with me!

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 17, 2010

No Heat deal for Stoudemire or Boozer; plus Tiger's statement leaked (with related poll), cornhole contest, Dolphins lose on Stallworth & more

HEAT STRIKES OUT ON DEADLINE TRADES: Miami's ardent efforts to acquire Suns power-forward Amare Stoudemire were for naught as Thursday's NBA trade deadline passed with no Heat deal. Miami reportedly also made a late play to acquire Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, again with no success, although Pat Riley denied that attempt. The effort was to appease Dwyane Wade and not leave fortifying the roster to free-agency chance this summer. I like that Miami didn't have to part with the great potential of Michael Beasley. Now, though, the onus is even greater on the Heat to re-sign Wade and also score a high-impact free agent such as Chris Bosh this summer. Can they do it? Will they?

TIGER'S FRIDAY STATEMENT REVEALED: An Asheville, N.C. radio station reported today it received a leaked copy of Tiger Woods' planned Friday statement. It has not been verified but it presented here as simply a reported script. Here is a major excerpt:

“Directly to the point there is no one to blame but me for the mess I have put my wife and family through. I accept total and complete responsibility. My wife and I have been trying to work things out but sadly things have not worked out.

Again all the blame is upon me. We have decided to live apart with me having mutually agreed upon times when I can be with our children. I know that the world wants all the details of what transpired in our marriage but that is between my wife and I and will remain that way. I have to get on my life and that means playing golf again.

I have contacted The Masters and have informed them that my plan is to resume The Masters and they have said that they would welcome me with open arms. For that I am most grateful for I deserve nothing. Finally I want to thank all my fans around the world for standing by me when I let you down horribly. I failed all of you about as badly as a person can.

I apologize to everyone of you. I promise all of you that you will see a new Tiger Woods, a better Tiger Woods and I will not let you down. Now I’d like , by the grace of God and with His help, to get back to what I do best and that is playing golf. See you all at The Masters. God Bless you all. Tiger Woods”

WHAT SHOULD TIGER SAY?: Tiger Woods finally speaking on Friday (see item below) has spawned a trending Twitter topic called 'Tigershouldsay.' Entries are mostly profane but some are mildly amusing, such as: "Thought they were my wife because all white girls look alike" ..... "I blame Nike. They said just-do-it" ..... "I'm no longer Tiger. I'm a cheetah." Lame? OK. Do better. Add your own Tigershouldsay here, mocking, serious or both.

TIGER COMES OUT OF HIDING (IN A WAY): It is announced today that Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, silent since revelations of his mass adultery drove him off the PGA Tour and into hiding, will finally speak publicly on Friday, offering an apology and discussing his past and future with a small, select group of associates, friends and "pool reporters." I put the latter in quotes because supposedly Tiger will field no questions, meaning the reporters will be there as props, human tape-recorders. Sounds as if this non-press-conference will be Woods' managed, on-his-terms entree back into public life and golf. The question now: How will fans accept him? Will he be forgiven and embraced? Or is his once-pristine reputation damaged for good? Take a dip in our poll and 'splain your vote if you'd like.

[Update: Ernie Els' slams Tiger as "selfish" for the timing of his Friday press-conference, saying it detracts from Accenture Match-Play event getting underway in Arizona. Accenture happened to have been the first major sponsor to dump El Tigre, oh by the way].

1aaamercornholeassoc HEAT TO HOST 'CORNHOLE' EVENT: Among the dozens of publicity-seeking emails I receive per day was this that caught my eye. The following in quotes is verbatim from the press release: "On March 20th, 2010, American Airlines Arena and the Miami Heat will play host to the first Heat It Up Pre-Game Tailgate and Cornhole Tournament held on the grounds of the Arena. Corntoss, also known as cornhole or bean bag toss, has become the nation's fastest growing recreational sport." Evidently this event is under the auspices of (see right) the American Cornhole Association. (Click here for more info. God I only wish I were making this up). How do I put this gently in a family blog such as mine? Let me simply suggest the Googling of "urban dictionary" followed by a search of the phrase "cornhole." Followed by a strong suggestion that the ACA change its middle name, pronto. Corntoss we can live with. Oy!

[By the way our who-should-the Heat-get poll is still rockin' the vote in the blogpost just below this, with well over 1,000 votes and counting. Chris Bosh dominating, but Amare Stoudemire narrowing the gap. Heat pushing hard to acquire Stoudemire. NBA trade deadline is Thursday so we'll all know soon enough].

DONTE STALLWORTH TO RAVENS: I'm not presupposing that Stallworth will prove to be a great signing for Baltimore, but he's certainly an upgrade who should help. For now it's fair to say the Ravens and Dolphins had the biggest need for help at wide receiver, Stallwortth was available cheap, and Miami didn't get him. Like to see the Dolphins more agreressive with guys like this especially if the price is right.

CANES HANGING ON: UM's blown-lead loss to Duke last night all but assured Miami will struggle to earn an NCAA Tournament invitation. Huge opportunty lost. Click here for today's column by me off the game. 

MASCOT DEVOURS CHEERLEADER WHOLE: Is this kind of thing legal? Click here for the video and judge for yourself.

1aakc KC JOINS DOLPHIN EXTENDED FAMILY: KC (of the Sunshine Band) is featured in a new commercial by Dolphin Stadium name-buyer Sun Life Financial, in which it is suggested the name of the group be changed to KC & the Sun Life Band. Art imitates life or vice versa, because I have no doubt whatsoever that Harry Casey (pictured right, about 40 pounds ago) would make that change for the right price. I also think that, the way the Dolphins' new ownership works, the KC/Sun Life partnership will segue into KC becoming a part of the Dolphins "home game experience" in 2010. ("Miami has the Dolphins, the greatest football team, they shake their booty down the field like no one's ever seen...") The new commercial isn't very good but the part when Sun Life brags about never taking a U.S. government bailout is [bleep]ing hilarious. Bulletin: IT'S A CANADIAN COMPANY!

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 16, 2010

What's so great about silver and bronze?; plus who-should-Heat-get poll, Hannah on nudity, NASCAR's potholed start & more

[Thanks to all who joined our live chat today. We do it every Wednesday from 1-2 in the Q&A Forum. Tap in live or post questions any time by clicking on ChatTown].

WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT SILVER AND BRONZE?: Tell me if you know. I always find it 1aavancmedalsweird (albeit somewhat charming in a quaint sort of way) that the Olympics celebrates not winning in a way we don't otherwise see. The team on the wrong end of the Super Bowl score is the biggest loser in sports. Serena Williams drops the final of a tennis major and she's every shade of unhappy. But finish second in an Olympic event -- or even third, like Bode Miller on Monday -- and you are celebrated. You're up on the podium. You get a medal! (Even though it's misshapen like the Vancouver medals pictured). I must be conditioned because if somebody tells me an American just won the silver or bronze in something, my gut reaction is to be disappointed for them. If somebody's Olympic career includes a fistful of medals but no golds, well, as far as I'm concerned they're Jim Kelly.

FANTASY BASKETBALL: Dwyane Wade's MVP All-Star show before more than 100,000 at Cowboys Stadium was a great advertisement for the NBA ... and a delicious what-if for the Heat. D-Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the court together, and Amare Stoudemire on the other side. Call it Pat Riley's wish-list come to life. This summer, and how it plays out for Miami, will be the final triumph (or disappointment) by which the Riley era is judged.

HEAT POLL: This poll presumes that Miami will re-sign Wade but won't fulfill Riley's ultimate fantasy by also getting LeBron. So which of the two likeliest scenarios would you prefer: A) Miami trades now for Amare Stoudemire. This might cost the Heat Michael Beasley but would be a statement that this season matters and be a hedge against whatever might or might not happen this summer. Or, B) Don't make a trade and risk being able to sign Chris Bosh this summer. Vote now!   

1aahannahp HANNAH TETER DEFENDS NUDITY!: U.S. winter Olympian Hannah Teter, the snowboarding champion, is enduring criticism for participating in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and agreeing to photos such as this one at left. She defends herself here. I particularly like the quote, "Guys with bigger boobs than I have walk around [topless] and they're fine. If women were to do that they could go to jail. That's totally wrong." But when has Hannah seen me shirtless? Hmm. 

1aapothole panic 1aapothole NASCAR'S EMBARRASSMENT: "Gentlemen, start your ... season badly!" Has the Daytona 500 ended yet? It took a month, with two long delays because of potholes on the track. POTHOLES! The season opener and crown jewel of the NASCAR season is bedeviled by potholes. Wow. That'd be like the seventh game of the World Series being interupted because all of the sprinkler heads pop up and start spraying in the middle of an inning. What an embarrassment. A win by Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have redeemed the whole thing but then he finishes second to Jamie McNobody. Do-over! (By the way, the man to the right to me resembles a slimmer Peter Griffin). 

PANTHERS DROUGHT-O-METER: Today/Tuesday is the 4,685th day since the Panthers last won a hockey playoff game on April 17, 1997. It's gotten pretty bad when the fans' rallying cry is, "Wait 'til next decade!"

1aadougfieger DOUG FIEGER, R.I.P.: Never heard of him? He was the frontman (left) of The Knack, whose one big hit, "My Sharona," dominated radio in 1979.

1aabacon TODAY'S LUNCH: I have a hankering for a BLT. Pictured is how I imagine it in my mind. Pretty sure the lettuce and tomato are under there somewhere.

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 12, 2010

Dolphins release Joey Porter (well, sort of); plus the delicate handling of Dwyane Wade, Winter Olympics preview with video of Cote skating & more

[Oops say the Dolphins! First the club announces today in a brief statement that it has released disgruntled veteran linebacker Joey Porter. Oopsie. Couple hours later the club announces that roster move was an "invalid termination" related to NFL salary cap rules, and that Joey is back on the roster. OK fine. But obviously ol 'Joe has no future in Miami. He has burned bridges as if equipped with a flamethrower. Maybe Miami can now exact a low-round draft pick for him in trade? Doubt it. Good riddance, Joe. Sooner or later. Gripe somewhere else. Eventually].

[Todd McShay's latest mock draft on ESPN.com has Dolphins selecting Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McCalin 12th overall. Upside: He's excellent at a position of need. Downside: possibility I'd find myself having to talk to Nick Saban again].

KEEPING DWYANE HAPPY:

The Heat's best chance to attract a major free-agent prize such as 1aadwadeLeBron James (ideally) or Chris Bosh this summer is to keep Dwyane Wade here so that Miami can sell a championship-contending package deal. The best way to keep D-Wade is to keep him happy. The best way to do that is to involve him in major decisions such as A) whether to trade for Amare Stoudemire in a deal that would sacrifice Michael Beasley; B) whether Erik Spoelstra remains as coach or a veteran such as Byron Scott is brought in; and C) which guys to target in free agency. I know this is giving a player a lot of influence, but basketball is different, and keeping Wade is that important. Click on Keeping Dwyane for today's column by me. (The column leads all of MiamiHerald.com in hits today; thanks for that). Am especially interested in whether you agree with my premise that Spoelstra -- fairly or not -- must be a sacrificial lamb if it means a better chance to keep Wade and add a major free agent.

[Wade postscript regarding his divorce: I alluded in the above refernced column to Wade's contentious divorce. Well, his ex-wife Siovaughn appeared on a "Basketball Wives" episode of E! True Hollywood Stories last night and said of the marriage: "It didn't take us very long before I'd say we had forgotten God, our marriage vows and everything. I started fussing at him for staying out late at night. I started saying out late at night. No one would every say 'no'." Wade in turn sent out a Tweet that advised, "Don't believe everything u read or hear." It's sad for the both of them. Fidelity and strong marriages are so damned rare in sports].

1aalvonn WINTER OLYMPICS PREVIEW: American skiier Lindsey Vonn -- supposedly set to be the female, wintry Michael Phelps in the Vancouver Games commencing today/Friday -- has a bum shin, imperiling her competing, let alone winning multiple gold medals. Lindsey is pictured here in happier times, posing on then-healthy shins for Sports Illustrated's new swimsuit issue. Lindsey says she injured her shin during a recent training run. I believe she tripped over a tripod. A big theme for these Games is how the U.S. women might not win a figure-skating medal for the first time since 1964. I might have to rethink my citizenship! Our favorite Winter Olympic sports: biathlon (involves guns, so Miami can relate); curling (involves brooms; traditionally dominated by custodians); and skeleton (unique competition involving people who died many years earlier).

1aacote-harding ODD PAIRS FIGURE-SKATING: Not a lot of people know it but I recently learned to skate and have teamed with disgraced 1990s Olympian Tonya Harding to represent the U.S. in the Vancouver Winter Olympics in the new Odd Pairs category of figure-skating. We are pictured at right. Click on Cote-Harding to watch a brief video from one of our recent training sessions.

1aabiba BIBA TIME! NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND: Tonight in Dallas as part of NBA All-Star Weekend, D-Wade hosts "8 Ball Challenge," a celebrity billiards tournament benefitting Alonzo Mourning and Magic Johnson charities. Normally this would not rate our blog, except that the event also features Biba, the one-name table tennis sensation. Biba (left) is our all-time favorite table tennis player, based on the fact we can't name another table tennis player, plus she's a hottie.

1aapork PORK NEWS: Emmitt Smith appeared on behalf of the National Pork Board at a pre-Super Bowl luncheon, and poses here with a woman who won SB tickets from the pork board. Pork: The 'Other' White Meat. Emmitt: Looking as if he's thinking to himself, "Do I need the money this badly? It is OK to turn down an occasional appearance fee, fool!"

1aaarnold 1aaarnold2 MARISA MILLER'S OOPSIE: I find this even more interesting than Emmitt Smith pimping pork. Tom Arnold "accidentally" imposed a wardrobe malfunction upon model Marisa Miller during a Super Bowl celebrity flag-football event.

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 09, 2010

Dolphins' 2011 Super Bowl odds; plus Donte Stallworth, Jimmy's enhanced Johnson, dancing jockeys & more

A hostage to Super Bowl Week, the blog returns! And all across the country, people who produce TV commercials have crawled back into their abyss, disregarded at best, scorned in some cases, seen as purveyors of nuisance time, and already pining for next Super Bowl Sunday, the one day they get to be something other than low man in the creative food chain. By the way, what it is about a Clydesdale befriending another animal that we love so much? I was in St. Louis a few years ago and visited the Clydesdale farm and my vivid memory is that one of the horses stood in his stall in a state of arousal and, well, use your imagination. Then double it.

1aahawkeye The Saints-Colts Super Bowl was the most-watched program in American television history with 106.5 million viewers, exceeding the 106 million who watched the MASH farewell episode in 1983. However, Hawkeye Pierce is not happy and has demanded a recount.

DOLPHINS' 2011 ODDS: Bodog.com works fast. Its 2011 Super Bowl odds are out and the Colts are fravorites at 13-2, followed by the Chargers 8-1, Patriots and Saints 10-1, Steelers 11-1, and Cowboys, Packers and Vikings 12-1. In AFC East, after Pats, Jets check in at 25-1 and Dolphins are 45-1 -- tied for 20th overall. In other words, expectations for next season are modest, Miami.  

1aadonte THE CASE FOR DONTE STALLWORTH: Defrocked wide receiver Donte Stallworth (seen at left praying for another chance) is free after killing a Miami man with his car last year, settling with the victim's family to get only a wrist-slap sentence, then serving a season's NFL suspension. The Dolphins should look into him because he'd be cheap, he's in his physical prime (age 29) and presumably he'd be motivated to prove he has a career left. He can be a game-breaker when used right, having averaged 19.4 yards one season for the Saints and 19.1 another year for the Eagles. In only 60 career starts he has 32 TD catches. Is Stallworth the answer? Not totally. It shouldn't preclude the Dolphins from considering a WR in the draft or looking hard for a greater-impact guy in free agency. But Donte is worth considering as a part of an overall upgrade.

1aajj JIMMY JOHNSON FOR EXTENZE: We mentioned this is an earlier post but it is is too delicious not to reprise. Former UM and Dolphins coach-turned-Fox broadcaster Jimmy Johnson -- pictured right either clapping or indicating the size of something -- is the new spokesman for ExtenZe, the "male enhancement" pill. TV ads will begin airing this month. J.J. will be at the Daytona 500 romoting the ExtenZe No. 37 Ford. "I believe in using every performance edge you have," reveals Johnson. One of the ads has our man trumpeting, "I go long. So can you!" My question: What three words best capture the essence of this partnership: Johnson for ExtenZe? Or ExtenZe for Johnson?

1aacotepic CANDID CAMERA: Colleague David J. Neal snapped this one at the Super Bowl. I am either in the throes of concentration or nodding off into a power nap. Beside me are Susan Miller Degnan, Linda Robertson and Michelle Kaufman, with Dave Barry in the row behind.

MIAMI'S BIG WEEK: Super Bowl overnight ratings of 46.4 with a 68 share are the highest for the game since 1987. (So the network sends out an email with this headline: "CBS Sports' coverage of Super Bowl XLIV scores highest rating in 23 years." Dear CBS: It wasn't your coverage. It was the matchup. It was the game). That bookended a huge crowd and great ratings for the Pro Bowl game, too. That makes Miami as host look good. So did Sunday's absolutely gorgeous weather. Do not believe the teeth-gnashing about how this might have been our last time hosting. The NFL loves Miami, and should. No other city attracts the celebs and starpower. Miami will be right back in the mix -- stadium overhaul or not -- when the next site for 2015 is voted on.

THE U's FORGETTABLE WEEK: Bryant McKinnie, booted off the Pro Bowl team for bailing on practices. Michael Irvin, accused in a civil suit of a rape. Warren Sapp, arrested for domestic violence. Then, on the field, Reggie Wayne, hobbled and a nonfactor for Colts. Jeremy Shockey's TD catch and Jonathan Vilma's defense for the Saints offsets it somewhat, but all in all not a particularly proud week for the Canes. (And I wasn't even including UM's modestly judged signing-day bounty...)

1aajockeyDANCING JOCKEYS: Gulfstream Park has taught several of its jockeys to dance to help promote its racing season. I think it's working. Click on Dancing Jockeys for the video. Jockeys dancing are not as funny as midgets dancing or E-Trade babies talking, but still.

1aasnack SNACK FOOD STADIUM: No, that is not the latest in the long line of names for Dolphin Stadium. It is a stadium replica made entirely of snack food. My question. Is it so detailed that the restrooms contain tiny little Tootsie rolls? I'm just asking!

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 07, 2010

SUPER BLOG: Saints 31, Colts 17 (Final)

Super Blog wraps up with a Saints-Colts gameday post. Click back; we'll add and update thoughout the day and blog live -- as much as we can, given our column deadline -- during the game...

1aanos SUPER BOWL XLIV in MIAMI: Saints 31, Colts 17 (Final):

Quick apology. My intended live game blog went bust because I was having awful Internet connectivity issues with my Herald laptop all night long. A nightmare. I can only update this now, around 12:30 a.m., because I am finally back from the game and on my home PC.

I though it was an interesting, close and in many ways compelling Super Bowl, although I think the final 14-point margin alone may prevent it from being called a classic. I was happy for the outcome. Happy because I'd picked the Saints, and happy for that city and its fans.

Click on Wait and Weight Lifted for tonight's column by me off the game, online now and shipping to Monday's paper.

I'll blog more tomorrow about what this result means for Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. 

Pregame: Munching on popcorn, I just chipped a tooth. Ah, the glamorous life of a sportswriter!

Am expecting a pro-Saints crowd based on visual evidence outside the stadium, but I must say most of the fans already in their seats are Coltsies based on all the blue jerseys.

(By the way, I didn't write the Mackey/Unitas item referred to in a comment here. Someone else contributed that to the package. I wrote only the main column). 

Pregame post: Welcome to The Miami  Herald's Unmarked Live Blog. Unmarked, unpromoted, unloved, but I am here for you! Even if it's only you. It's 2:30, I am in the stadium already, in an outside seat and it's in the 60s and I'm an idiot because I'm in short-sleeves and brought no jacket. I am at risk of filing a game column that chatters. 

Original post: Many of you know I picked New Orleans to win in an upset 31-27. I am confident in that pick? Not in the least. If I were a Saints fan I would be terrified what Peyton Manning might do to my susceptible defense. It's a hunch pick all the way, so we'll see.

Warren, Warren, Warren...: Warren Sapp arrested for domestic violence around 5 a.m. Saturday (click here for news story) and booted off today's Super Bowl coverage by the NFL Network. Teams have curfews for their players. Thinking maybe networks should, too.

[Click on Legends & Near Misses for today's Super Bowl special-section cover column by me. Click on Smirk VII for today's final installment of our Super Bowl With a Smirk series. Click on Random Evidence for our Sunday notes column leading with the SB].

Twitter.com/gregcote

February 06, 2010

SUPER BLOG Sat-6: Seven elected to Hall; plus Super Poll: What's been greatest Super Bowl in Miami?, Pool Reports, SB streaker, Who Dat Bat & more

It's Saturday, which means welcome to Super Blog Day 6 (that's VI to your Romans). Big game almost here, and thank God. Click back; we update throughout the day...

[Colts' and Saints' Saturday Pool Reports are at bottom of this post]. 

HALL OF FAME ADDS 7: Obvious choices Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith are joined in the 2010 Canton class by Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson (of Palm Beach), John Randle and senior nominees Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau. Surprised by Jackson. Shocked by Little. The denied include ex-UM'er Cortez Kennedy and briefly-a-Dolphin Cris Carter.

1aareadcote PLANNED SUPER BOWL STREAK?: One of our longtime blog readers passes along this cartoon. Much appreciated, OC! I think the streaker is supposed to be me. OY!

1aaocho THE ROUGH LIFE OF CHAD OCHOCINCO:

The thing about a guy like Miami's Chad Ochocinco (left) is, other than being young, handsome, rich, famous, adored by women and blessed with mad skills, what's he got that I don't have!? Also, apparently he is modest, too, based on this photo of himself posted on his Twitter site. 

SUPER POLL: GREATEST SUPER BOWL IN MIAMI: Best. Most memorable. Favorite. However you define it, what to you have been the greatest of the nine Super Bowls played in Miami? We invite you to select your top TWO. Hut one, hut two, vote!

IT'S JERRY AND EMMITT AND, AND...: Today's Super Bowl With a Smirk column by me is not in the newspaper but is exclusively online and it primarily is a preview of who's in and who has no shot in today's Pro Football Hall of Fame vote. I handicap the 17 finalists. After obvious picks Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, it gets interesting. Sneak peek: Who the hell let Don Coryell in the room!? Click Smirk VI to partake.

1aahumanred HUMAN RED CARPET: Jermaine Dupri (left) taking picture of "human red carpet" at last night's Rock 'n Soul party hosted by agent Drew Rosenhaus at Hard Rock. Somethin' 'bout that ain't right! 

1aabat WHO DAT BAT: A company is manufacturing Who Dat Bats, unaware, evidently, that the Saints do not play baseball but, rather, a different sports called football. Note: Anyone attempting to bring a Who Dat Bat into It's-Still-Dolphin Stadium-To-Me on Sunday will be swarmed by security personnel and federal agents and never heard from again.

1aacongress WE'RE WATCHING YOU, CONGRESS!: A political watchdog group called ProPublica.org invites you to snap a candid photo of your Congressman at Sunday's game or preferably at play, like at a Super Bowl party, perhaps in the throes of inebriation and -- if it isn't asking too much -- surrounded by Snoop Dogg, two buxom, rented women and a haze of smoke.

SUPER LIST: Super Bowl single-game records:

Passing yards: 414, Kurt Warner, Rams, 2000

Rushing yards: 204, Timmy Smith, Redskins, 1988 

Receiving yards: 215, Jerry Rice, 49ers, 1989

COLTS SATURDAY POOL REPORT: Not a great deal changed in the health department for the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, as the team held its final practice of the week before Super Bowl XLIV. Defensive end Dwight Freeney sat out once again, making his absence a clean sweep for the week as he spent Saturday’s entire session on a golf cart. Cornerback Jerraud Powers once again did light work, and wideout Reggie Wayne returned to his duties with the first team offense, showing no effects of a minor fat pad injury to his right knee on Thursday.

The light 35-minute walkthrough was held in gentle breezes and the mid 70’s, and the Colts moved swiftly through their final tune-up. Freeney spent the session circling different personnel groupings in a cart, wearing his standard practice dress, including cleats. After practice, he exited his cart and walked gingerly into the locker room, however his right ankle was not wrapped and he didn’t receive treatment of any form during the short session. Colts coach Jim Caldwell said that Freeney had improved since Thursday, but wouldn’t comment on his availability for Sunday’s game.

“He’s better than yesterday,” Caldwell said. “He and Powers both are better than yesterday. It’s still day to day.”

Powers was limited to light work.

Wayne left Friday’s practice 20 minutes early after injuring the fat pad in his right knee, but he was available for the full session Saturday. The fat pad is the soft tissue below the kneecap. Wayne has been playing much of the season with some irritation in the pad. But he moved without restriction Saturday, and at the conclusion of practice ran about 40 yards to the locker room without favoring the knee in any way.

With the slate of practices wrapped, Caldwell said he was pleased with the week and that all of the work “went according to plan.” Caldwell also said the team’s overall health had improved during the course of the week, and was pleased with the slightly varying conditions, which included some gusting wind and rain at various times.

“The weather has been great,” Caldwell said. “Obviously yesterday we got a little taste of rain, which was good, just in case we have some. A shower could pop up at any time. The wind has been fairly consistent. We got a chance to throw with the wind, against the wind. That’s all been good.”

“We’ve done extremely well and been attentive. The [players] have been very, very focused and our practices have been sharp as well. Overall we’ve been moving in the right direction.”

SAINTS SATURDAY POOL REPORT: Under a sunny sky and with the wind whipping across the field, the New Orleans Saints held their final walk-through of the season at 12:30 p.m. today at Sun Life Stadium in preparation for Super Bowl XLIV. All 53 players on the active roster were present.

Wearing shells and shorts, the players opened the 45-minute walk-through by running and stretching. The first-team offense ran through a handful of plays, followed by the first-team defense and special teams. Drew Brees wore a red No. 9 jersey, and he laughed with Reggie Bush after one particular play.

“I’m excited, just excited,” coach Sean Payton said afterward. “You get to this point and your concerns are always the scheduling and the logistics and the travel, and all of that was pretty smooth. So it’s good. At this point, everyone’s ready. It’s been two weeks already, so we’re ready to go.”

Reserve cornerback Randall Gay, who was absent from Friday’s practice with an illness, was on the sideline during the walk-through. Payton said that Gay had had a cold, with congestion, but said he would be ready to go tomorrow night. Reserve running back Lionel Hamilton, who missed practice the entire week, also watched from the sideline. When asked Hamilton’s status for tomorrow, Payton said “we’ll see how he does on Sunday.”

Payton said it will be business as usual leading up to the game, with meetings scheduled for tonight and tomorrow morning. Payton set curfew at 11 p.m. Although he has had guest speakers address the team at times during the season, Payton was noncommittal about whether he would do so again tomorrow, when the team has its final formal team meeting leading up to the game.

As is customary on Saturdays during the season, Payton invited all sons of players to attend the walk-through. About two dozen did – more than usual – and while the players practiced, the boys posed for a group photo and played touch football on the sideline. After almost everyone had left the field, Payton’s 9-year-old son Connor attempted five field goals with a black-and-gold football and with his father acting as his holder. Connor hit the cross bar once and the upright another time before making his last attempt from the nine-yard line.

“There’s a lot of challenges with coaching, in regards to family time,” Payton said. “Every once in a while, you get one of these opportunities, and it helps make up for it.”Twitter.com/gregcote

February 05, 2010

SUPER BLOG Fri-5: Jimmy Johnson pimps for male enhancement; plus Pool Reports, my SB pick, your pick in Super Poll, The Who, Michael Irvin & more

Welcome back to American football command central, which we like to call Mi-a-muh, and Super Blog Day 5. Click back; we update throughout the day..

POOL REPORTS: Saints' and Colts' for Friday is at bottom of this post.

1aajj JOHNSON GOES LONG: Former UM and NFL coach turned broadcaster Jimmy Johnson is now a spokesman for ExtenZe, a male enhancement product, and in a series of commercials that will begin airing Monday (story here) he declares, "Go long with ExtenZe. I do!" Not that there'sanything wrong with that. 

 

1aadiddy ERIN ANDREWS AND DIDDY: Evidently ESPN peeped-on sideline reporter Erin Andrews will attend Diddy's postgame party (right) Sunday at LIV. I don't give a crap, personally, but thought you might.

SUPER BOWL MVP ODDS: The latest via BetUs.com, at 10-1 or better: Peyton Manning 10-11; Drew Brees 5-2; Joseph Addai 8-1; Pierre Thomas 8-1; Reggie Wayne 10-1.  

LEBATARD BROTHERS UPDATE: The Miami Herald reported back on Monday in a front-page story that radio man Dan Le Batard and his brother Dave, the artist known as Lebo, would "chronicle Super Bowl week in South Florida," in a joint arts-and-words project for the paper. Friday ... still nada. Have the Le Batard brothers been taken hostage? Has there been skullduggery? Wait! Super Blog has inquired and learned exclusively that the Le BaBros will have something in Saturday's paper! Seriously.

1aagreg COTE'S SB PICK: SORRY COLTSIES: I am not usually steered by intangibles or emotion. Loathe the whole "team of destiny" crap. And while I do think emotional issues favor New Orleans here, I like the Saints (31-27) because Drew Brees is as good (at least this season) as Peyton Manning and has better balance around him; because N.O.'s special teams are better; because I like Sean Payton in the coach matchup; and because, while Indy's defense is better overall, the Dwight Freeney/ankle matter offsets that somewhat. Click on Saints Go Marching In for today's column by me on a very special team/city relationship and why that will matter Sunday. Click on SB Gem: Who Dat! for the prediction capsule.

SUPER POLL: YOU PICK THE WINNER: Ran a poll when the SB teams were first decided and Colts narrowed edged Saints with 52.9 percent. Be interested to see if that changes much. Weigh in!

1aawho THE WHO, CARRIE & QUEEN WEIGH IN: It is interesting listening to Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend (pictured) try to pretend they know anything about, or care about, American football. I did that yesterday. Also sat in on the Carrie Underwood/Queen Latifah pregame-show press conference. By the way, although the halftime-performing Who is down to its last two original members, their current band includes Townshend's son and on, drums, Ringo Starr's kid. Click on Smirk V for this and more SB stuff from the offbeat side.

MICHAEL IRVIN: Now a woman has filed a civil suit accusing him of a 2007 rape. I look at this neutrally. Have no idea what the truth is. Irvin is no angel but neither do I presume his guilt here. My initial, gut reaction? That the timing of the suit, happening during Super Bowl Week, is not coincidental and does not reflect well on the woman and her attorney.   

SUPER LIST: Super Bowl MVPs: There have been 44 SB MVPs, including one tie, and fully half have been quarterbacks. Anybody doubt Peyton Manning or Drew Brees will likely continue the trend? The breakdown by position:

22 QB

7 RB

6 WR

2 LB, S, DE

1 DT, DE, KR/PR

SAINTS FRIDAY POOL REPORT: The Saints, who plan to conduct a final walk-through practice at Sun Life Stadium tomorrow, concluded their practice preparations at the U. of Miami with an hour and 50 minutes of work, focusing on red-zone offense and defense, plus short-yardage and goal-line situations. It was their shortest practice of the week.

“I think we had a good week of work,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Reserve cornerback Randall Gay was absent because of stomach illness, Payton said. Reserve running back Lynell Hamilton continued to simply watch practice and not participate in any of the drills. The Saints list Hamilton as questionable for Super Bowl LXIV.

However, all of the injured Saints, who are listed on the injury report and are also game-day starters, participated fully in all team drills for the third consecutive day, although some on a limited basis. Tight end Jeremy Shockey (knee), safety Darren Sharper (knee), defensive end Will Smith (groin), defensive end Bobby McCray (ankle/back) and linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) seemingly worked in every important drill and all of them appeared to be in good shape, not favoring any injury.

The Saints didn’t conduct Friday’s practice at game speed, but Shockey and Sharper didn’t appear to miss a snap in most drills for the third consecutive day.

As is customary for home games, the players and coaches were going to eat charbroiled oysters from Drago’s Restaurant in New Orleans after practice.

Payton said his players will have a midnight curfew tonight and an11 p.m. curfew on Saturday night. “We prepared for this game like it’s a Sunday night game,” Payton said, referring to the late kickoff. “At halftime, because it’s longer than usual, we will want the guys to maybe eat a little and also remove their shoulder pads and get a dry T-shirt.”

COLTS FRIDAY POOL REPORT: On a day when defensive end Dwight Freeney did not practice but cornerback Jerraud Powers got in some work, another player had to leave the Colts’ third Super Bowl practice of the week after aggravating an existing injury: Indianapolis all-pro wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

Wayne pulled up short running a pass-route late in the workout and left Colts’ practice 20 minutes before it ended Friday with what coach Jim Caldwell said was an injury to the fat pad in his right knee.  

Caldwell said he didn’t believe the injury was serious, and Wayne walked off the field unassisted into the trainers room at the Miami Dolphins practice facility. Backup wideout Hank Baskett took his place in the remainder of the 1-hour, 25-minute workout, covering mostly short-yardage and red-zone work on a typical Friday practice day for the Colts.

“He just irritated the fat pad in his knee,’’ Caldwell said.   

The fat pad is the collection of soft tissue below the kneecap that protects the underlying structure of the knee. Wayne has had the injury much of the season and played through it, and it apparently was quite manageable: He finished his second all-pro season in the last three years with 100 catches for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns, playing all 16 regular-season games and both so far in the playoffs.

In other Colts’ injury news, the team got a boost with the limited practice work done Friday by Powers. It’s the first time Powers has practiced or played since injuring the foot in the first quarter of the Jan. 16 division playoff victory over Baltimore. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be out there Sunday,’’ Powers said on Wednesday, but the team listed him as questionable in its final injury report of the week.

Wayne was listed as probable to play against the Saints on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIV, while Freeney was listed as questionable. Caldwell said Freeney “may do’’ a little running or simulated practice work later Friday afternoon, and though Freeney had said Thursday he would try to practice some on Friday, Caldwell said, “This is right in line with our plans. He’s making very good progress.’’ Freeney suffered a third-degree ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game victory over the Jets on Jan. 24 and has not practiced in the 12 days since.  

The Colts will have their customary 40-minute walkthrough practice Saturday at noon, but for all intents and purposes, this was the team’s last serious pre-Super Bowl practice. Caldwell said he was satisfied with the quality of work and the site of team practices while in south Florida.

“We get spoiled because we practice so well all year long,’’ he said. “Overall, these practices were right in line with what we’ve done all year, and we’re pleased. The Dolphins have a first-class facility and have given us an open-arms reception. We’re grateful for it.  Things have worked out great for us here.’’

Twitter.com/gregcote