- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2009

In case you’re wondering, the NFC is a 2 1/2-point favorite over the AFC in Sunday’s Pro Bowl. Honestly, how do oddsmakers come up with a point spread for such a game? Do they multiply the number of missing starters by the minutes Kurt Warner is expected to play and divide it by the total practice sessions for the two squads?

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Or is that the over/under?

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Did you see Todd Haley, the new coach in Kansas City, was a golfer in college, not a football player? In fact, he used to be an assistant pro at Burning Tree Country Club in Bethesda.

Which raises the question: Who did he beat out for the Chiefs job, Butch Harmon?

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Surprisingly, Haley, the former Cardinals assistant, wasn’t interviewed for the Colts opening, even though one of his children is named Peyton.

Oh, wait, now I understand. The child is female.

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Erstwhile Redskin Dana Stubblefield has been singing like Pavarotti, apparently, to BALCO investigators. Indeed, he’s been showing such vocal range that he got a mere two years’ probation for lying to authorities earlier in the proceedings. The judge who gave the sentence said Stubblefield has been “extremely cooperative.”

Now that’s the Stubby we all remember. During his time in Washington, opposing blockers always found him to be “extremely cooperative.”

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Reports that the Texans conducted illegal contact drills during their May 2008 minicamp brought the following comment from ex-Redskin Matt Bowen at nationalfootballpost.com:

“Let me take you back to Washington in 2004, when head coach Joe Gibbs first came back to the ‘Skins. Our spring ‘voluntary’ workouts, or OTAs, were anything but. Guys did anything they could to avoid the new culture that Gibbs brought with him, but what were we going to do, blow the whistle on a Hall of Fame coach because we were doing ‘one-on-ones’ and butting the ball carrier with only helmets on? Sure, we were upset - we had every right to be. Guys were beat up after mini-camp practices. How that was beneficial to the success of the team is beyond me. That… is complete garbage, folks.

“I understand these new coaches want to change the ‘culture’ of their teams. OK, then get better players or better coordinators. Don’t subject your own guys to drills that are against union policy and put them in situations where knees and shoulders get blown out. … Luckily for us in Washington, our veterans did blow the whistle. The union was brought in, and our last week of OTAs was canceled because the coaching staff had broken the rules. Yes, the coaching staff wanted to know who made the phone call, but no one had to own up to it because, in this business, if you break the rules, you pay for it.”

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Nice to know Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, late of the Oakland Raiders, has memorized the SEC recruiting manual. Maybe he’s waiting for the CliffsNotes version.

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The kid has only been in Knoxville a few months, and already he’s accomplished the near-impossible: He’s made Urban Meyer look like a victim.

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News item: The NBA takes a triple-double away from LeBron James after it’s discovered he was credited with a rebound that should have gone to Cavaliers teammate Ben Wallace.

Comment: In other news, the league has reviewed the tapes and determined that Wilt Chamberlain slept with just 19,994 women.

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Big Ben, twice the NBA’s Chairman of the Boards, must be thrilled about the change. It means he only got outrebounded 13-2 in the game by that legendary leaper, Wally Szczerbiak.

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Seriously, when you think of players in basketball history who could elevate, really sky, you think of Herman the Helicopter, you think of the young Julius Erving and you think of Wally Szczerbiak.

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My 18-year-old e-mails from college: “I love going to Ernie Els’ Web site and reading how well his wines are doing in international competition. It’s kind of sad, though, when an Els Bordeaux finishes first and Ernie misses the cut.”

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Director Steven Soderbergh might direct a film adaptation of “Moneyball,” Michael Lewis’ best-seller about the Oakland A’s‘ attempt to keep up with the Steinbrenners by using computer analysis. Brad Pitt, one of the stars in Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” movies, has already signed on, presumably to play general manager Billy Beane.

Too bad Bernie Mac, another “Ocean’s” regular, isn’t still around. For comic relief, Soderbergh could have had Beane sign “Mr. 3000.”

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This doesn’t have anything to do with sports, but I thought I’d mention it anyway: Does the lesser half of Brangelina have a thing about alliterative names? In his most recent screen performance, he’s Benjamin Button. In the “Ocean’s” trilogy, he’s Rusty Ryan. He’s also been Jesse James (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) and Heinrich Harrer (“Seven Years in Tibet”). And now he’s drawing a bead on Billy Beane.

Who’s next, Sammy Sosa (in Billy Crystal’s sequel to “61*”, “73*”)?

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Here’s hoping Michael Phelps turns out to be a One-Hit Wonder.

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Still, the fallout from his inhalations has been substantial. USA Swimming has suspended him for three months for conduct unbecoming a 14-time gold medalist, and Kellogg is dropping its endorsement deal with him.

It’s the biggest scandal for the cereal maker since Tony the Tiger tested positive for human growth hormone.

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Another of Phelps’ sponsors, Omega watches, hasn’t bailed on him yet - though, naturally, the company is a little ticked off.

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A headline that’s still waiting to be written:

Bong Voyage!

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If I were Omega, I’d try to capitalize on the situation by using the Infamous Photo of Phelps in an ad.

I can practically hear the voice-over now:

“Omega… for those moments when you com-PLETE-ly lose track of time… those moments when you forget what SEMESTER it is.”

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Broadcaster Al Michaels looking back on The Moment That Made Him A Star, the United States’ upset of the Soviet Union in the ‘80 Winter Olympics (in an interview with The Big Lead): “If you were to say to me, envision a scenario which would top this, I couldn’t. What do you come up with? You can’t. It’s a different world right now, the Olympics will never be the same, and I don’t think we’ll have an archenemy such as the Soviet Union was in 1980. You can’t go out and play a game against al Qaeda, right?”

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And finally…

I hear prosecutors have a tape of Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’ trainer, talking about injecting Bonds with performance enhancers “all over the place.”

A truly shocking development. I mean, who knew Anderson could talk?

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