- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

Can’t make up my mind which football brainstorm was battier:

1. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, leading the Colts by six with just over two minutes left, going for it on fourth-and-2 at his 28.

2. Titans owner Bud Adams flipping off Bills fans with both hands (when one is usually sufficient).

3. Network TV execs deciding it would be a good idea to broadcast five Jay Cutler games in prime time this season - three Sunday night (including this week when Cutler’s Bears host the Eagles), one Thursday night and one Monday night.

I used to think Cutler was just overrated. Now I’m convinced he’s overexposed, too.

Quote of the week comes from a Wall Street Journal story on Jim Harbaugh, Stanford’s rising-star football coach (written by the deft Darren Everson):

“From the time he was ‘5 or 6,’ Mr. Harbaugh says, ‘I’ve wanted to play as long as I could, then coach, then die.’ ”

A few weeks ago, it was the Celtics’ Glen “Big Baby” Davis who was talking about giving the NFL a shot. Now it’s LeBron James saying, “If I dedicated myself to the game of football, I could be really good.”

Hey, why not? LeBron has already had experience wearing a face mask (after suffering a broken cheek in 2005).

The Browns would be happy to work him out, coach Eric Mangini says. Of course, the Browns are so desperate, they’d happy to work out Rick James… if he was still alive.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the players association has asked for the removal of a doctor as co-chairman of the league’s committee on concussions. The union is bothered by his attempts to downplay studies linking players to an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

Or as the New York Post might put it:

NFLers Think Concussion Doc Should Have Head Examined.

Did you see the story about rowdy students at the University of Minnesota having to take Breathalyzers before they’re allowed into football games? Heck, if they had that in baseball, David Wells never would have pitched.

Speaking of the “national pastime,” couldn’t help noticing that this year’s Cy Young winners, the Royals’ Zack Greinke (16) and the Giants’ Tim Lincecum (15), won as many games combined as Denny McLain (31) did when he captured the Cy in 1968.

And on top of that, neither of them can play the organ worth a darn.

Denny, in case you weren’t aware, was a whiz at the keyboard. He’s also the only Cy Young recipient, as far as I know, who ever had his name appear in the same sentence with John Gotti’s.

Is it just me, or is the bar for the Cy Young Award set awfully low these days? I think back to another great Giants pitcher, Juan Marichal. Only once in his Hall of Fame career did he get any votes at all in the Cy balloting (one in 1971). Yet he won 25 or more games three times (1963, ‘66 and ‘68) and had two other seasons when he threw 10 (1965) and eight (1969) shutouts.

This is what happens when Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver are your contemporaries (among others).

Baseball, by the way, plans to tighten up the postseason next year so there’ll be fewer off days. Let’s face it, the last thing MLB wants is the World Series going head-to-head with the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Getting back to LeBron, he’s been all over the news lately. When he hasn’t been reminiscing about his exploits as a high school wide receiver, he’s been suggesting the NBA should retire Michael Jordan’s No. 23 leaguewide.

I’ve gotta admit, I like the Jordan idea. Besides, what other league is going to retire Michael’s number? Certainly not the Southern League.

Jordan said he appreciated James’ “compliment” but that “Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell - all those guys should have their jerseys retired, too.”

Oh, that’s just beautiful. LeBron, after all, says he’s going to switch his number from 23 to 6 after the season - and Russell wore No. 6.

When the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings scored 55 points against the Warriors last weekend - the most by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe, the erstwhile Baltimore Bullet, went for 56 in 1968 - well, I just had to find out more about The Pearl’s Big Night. The details (or some of them, anyway):

- It came in a 119-116 overtime loss to the Jerry West-Elgin Baylor Lakers, who reached the NBA Finals that season. The Bullets finished last in the Eastern Division and missed the playoffs.

- Monroe broke the Baltimore Civic Center scoring record of 51, held by Wilt Chamberlain.

- The Pearl had 37 in the second half and OT, including 12 of the Bullets’ final 16. He shot the ball 55 times (33 field goal attempts, 22 free throw tries). And lest we forget, he didn’t have the benefit of the 3-point line (which didn’t come in until 1979). Jennings sank seven 3-pointers.

- West nearly matched Earl with 47 points. Baylor added 32 and, more significantly, passed Dolph Schayes to become the NBA’s third all-time scorer.

- On the Baltimore roster were three future NBA head coaches (Kevin Loughery, Ray Scott and Johnny Egan), one future general manager (Bob Ferry, who didn’t play in the game) and the father of a future No. 1 overall pick in the draft (Ed Manning, Danny’s dad).

- The next day, the new Madison Square Garden - where Monroe would later play with the Knicks - opened.

- The Pearl never scored that many points in an NBA game again.

Fearless prediction: A year from now, Jim Larranaga’s George Mason hoopsters will be in the top 20.

If you don’t believe me, check out the box score from the Patriots’ 69-68 loss to sixth-ranked Villanova in Puerto Rico. All but one of their points were scored by freshmen (25), sophomores (29) and juniors (13).

Our old friend Joe McKeown, who put GW women’s basketball on the map, is off to a 2-0 start in his second season at Northwestern. But here’s the best part: One of his freshman recruits, 6-foot-5 Dannielle Diamant, is Jerry Tarkanian’s granddaughter.

She’s also a keeper. In Friday night’s blowout of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, she had a team-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

And finally…

Too bad about the LPGA Tour’s Incredible Shrinking Schedule - from 34 events in 2008 to 27 this year to 23 next.

What on earth is TV going to fill the time with - full-contact women’s college soccer?


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