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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Shooting from the lip
What's so funny about Michael Vick and marijuana?
By TOM JONES
Published January 22, 2007
What's so funny about Michael Vick and marijuana? Who might be the most powerful woman in the NFL? Who needs a new haircut? And who was the weekend's best reporter? (Hint: you'll be surprised.) The answers to these questions and more as we look back at a weekend of televised sports.
Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler must have thanked the comedy gods when they found out Michael Vick was nailed at Miami International Airport last week for trying to carry a water bottle through security that smelled like marijuana and contained a substance in a hidden compartment. During their hilarious "Weekend Update" commentary, the two pointed out that, hey, didn't Vick sign a contract for $137-million? Can't he buy more pot? And he was on his way home - doesn't someone who likes pot have pot at home? And the best part: He was trying to carry something illegal onto a plane inside something that is illegal to carry onto a plane.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith isn't exactly Buddy Hackett, but he ripped off a good line about Ron Artest's first trip to Detroit since the infamous brawl. Stephen A. said, "If you want a news item at the end of Saturday night's game ... they might be talking about the ugly haircut he's got. My goodness, it looks bad. Somebody needs to talk to Ron."
Question of the day
How come at the end of every Sports Reporters on ESPN they stare into the camera as if they just saw Bambi get shot, especially Mike Lupica. Lighten up, fellas, it's just sports. They all look like they're about to get on a plane bound for Baghdad.
Who knew Fox's Terry Bradshaw could pass as a reporter? He might have turned in his best work since retiring from football with his Fox NFL Sunday feature on New Orleans and some of the people still rebuilding their lives since Hurricane Katrina.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver both reported the Steelers were about to name Mike Tomlin as coach. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported it was going to be Russ Grimm. And the Steelers said they had not made any decisions. In an effort to be first instead of right, somebody is going to be wrong and somebody is going to be flat-out lucky.
ESPN's Outside the Lines did a flattering and well-deserved piece on Rita Benson LeBlanc, the 30-year-old granddaughter of Saints owner Tom Benson. Well, officially, she is now part-owner and the story revealed how much she had to do in repairing relationships in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Eventually, if not already, she will be the most powerful woman in the NFL and, judging from her work, that's a good thing.
Prediction of the weekend
ESPN college football insider (By the way, how does one become an "insider"? Is there some sort of exam?) Todd McShay gave his prediction on the top five NFL draft picks, assuming Cleveland wins the coin toss to get the third pick. Here it is:
1. Oakland: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU.
2. Detroit: Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame.
3. Cleveland: Alan Branch, DT, Michigan.
4. Bucs: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech.
5. Arizona: Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin.
Stat of the weekend
Wisconsin sure looks like a Final Four team to me. It is 19-1 for the first time since 1916. My other Final four picks right now? UCLA, Pitt and North Carolina. Operative phrase: right now.
Hockey Night in Canada's "Satellite Hotstove" segment had plenty of gems. Among the highlights:
This week at the All-Star Game, the NHL's board of governors might fix this horrible schedule so that every team will play every other team at least once a season. Right now, the teams are split on the subject, with the teams in the northeast (no surprise) loving the current schedule because they can take short bus rides to most of their away games. But look for commissioner Gary Bettman to get involved. He's smart enough to realize it isn't right for some cities to go years without seeing, say, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby or Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
Also, expansion has been moved to the back burner, but if it heats up, look for the NHL to think about adding a team in Canada.
Yeah, the Australian Open is going on, but it's still just a week old. I'll start paying attention to tennis in the second week - of the French Open.
How important is it to pick a quarterback high in the first round of the draft? As Rick Bozich pointed out on ESPN's The Sports Reporters, of the four in the conference championships, only one was a high draft pick. Indianapolis' Peyton Manning was the first overall pick in 1998, but look at the others. New England's Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick. Rex Grossman was the 22nd overall pick. And Drew Brees was a second-round pick and is playing for his second team.
Most overused phrase
He told me. Television reporters, particularly in-the-field football reporters for ESPN such as Ed Werder, Bob Holtzman and Rachel Nichols, love that phrase. As in, "Rex Grossman told me ... " and "Tony Dungy told me ..." Why say that other than to sound important? Just say, "Grossman said ..." or "Dungy said ..." Cut the self-serving, big-shot line.
Sure he's biased, but Lightning GM Jay Feaster, during Saturday's Lightning broadcast, said: "I think Vinny Lecavalier might very well be the best player in hockey, bar none." Personally, I'd take Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, but Lecavalier has played well enough that Feaster has a pretty good argument.
When does Beckham get here?
Hey, anyone catch the U.S. soccer match against Denmark? Me neither.
To me, this isn't even close. Hockey Night in Canada's Bob Cole is the best play-by-play guy in any sport. The guy is nearly 75 years old and he has been calling HNiC since 1969. And he hasn't lost one step. When you listen to him, you don't feel like you're listening to a game, but to an event. He made Pittsburgh's 8-2 victory against Toronto on Saturday feel like the best hockey game ever played, and he does that week after week after week - year after year after year.
Worst no comment
During Fox NFL Sunday's "Rapid Fire" segment, a viewer e-mail asked what the crew thought of LaDainian Tomlinson's feud with the Patriots. Howie Long said, "That's (the question) we picked?" Before Long even finished, host Joe Buck skipped to the next question. Yeah, Howie, that was the question and, personally, I'd like to hear the answer. Shame on Howie for dismissing the question, and thumbs down to Buck for allowing him to do so.
Best of the weekend
Part of my job is to watch sports on the weekend, so what was I watching Sunday before the football games? Well, I flipped back and forth between a marathon of the best show in TV history (Law & Order) and the best show of the past year (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). Sorry, it was either that or motorcycle racing.