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Thursday, August 7, 2008

7 Reasons why Americans SHOULD like Soccer

With David Beckham trying, and to some extent failing, to excite the masses into a fervour over the lovely game of Football, here are SEVEN reasons why the U S of A really should give the game a chance!

Every mention of football has been changed to soccer in order to further appease the American market!

7) Soccer manages to not pander to advertising overload, sure the game is getting more attuned to the money machine but at least it doesn’t break every few seconds for some words from our sponsors. Surely Americans are sick and tired of the constant breaks of play, be it for an inning break or timeout.

It begs the question, do the big sports in the US do so well because of the constant stop start nature of the games or are they just big because advertising has helped finance their success. The old chicken and egg syndrome if you like.

6) 2002! The USA’s performance at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea should have been the springboard to success for the sport. The achievements of that side should not be undersold. Bruce Arena’s side were not expected to progress from their group stage but started with a bang, going 3-0 up in the first half hour of their match against Portugal they then battled past Mexico in the second round and were extremely unlucky to lose to the Germans in the Quarters a result that really didn’t reflect the American’s superiority a point echoed by German legend Franz Beckenbauer who said, “America were clearly the better team for 90 minutes.”

It’s worth noting that had they triumphed over Rudi Voller’s side they would have probably eased past South Korea and found themselves in a World Cup final against Brazil!

5) It sounds like an old cliché, but Football really is a sport that unites all. It’s a sport that needs little in the way of finance to play. No need to buy a baseball bat and a mitt, or steel platted armour and also no need to be Eight foot tall to be any good at. All you need is a sphere shaped object, like a football, and you’re away!

4) 1950! If ever there was an awe inspiring shocking triumph of the human spirit an effort of David vs. Goliath proportions that should have shot the sport of Soccer into the national consciousness then that should have been it. The moment that the US beat an English team who were thought of as the best in the world was best summed up by American defender Harry Keough who said “Boy, I feel sorry for these bastards. How are they ever going to live down the fact we beat them?”

3) Soccer is simply far more entertaining that any other sport in the world. Why, I hear you ask? Well it’s the world’s most popular sport, simple. As a sport it is far less predictable than most. It’s a sport where upsets can and do occur on a regular basis.

2) The US has already proven how they are number one, or close enough, in the big four sports they love (American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey) and soccer could be their next big challenge? A country the size of the US, and it’s big, should really be much better than it is in the field of soccer. Sure the MLS is getting bigger and crowds are increasing but it really hasn’t exploded but if it did, boy would it make a big bang!

1) Everyone on the planet loves Soccer, not just one nation. Therefore when soccer (I mean football of course) plays its World Series (or World Cup as we call it) it really does include the WHOLE world and not just one nation. The game of football is played by more worldwide than any other sport (unless you count fishing which surely can’t be considered a sport) so surely the US would love to join the footballing family and attempt to conquer the world!

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The heartbreaking impact of a worldwide Internet ticket scam is only now becoming clear, as victims arrive in Beijing without the Olympics tickets they thought they had purchased months ago. Among the victims is a California man who may now be unable to watch his 16-year-old daughter compete in swimming events. The father of a U.S. softball team player also says he was scammed after he paid $3,500 for tickets to the opening ceremony.

The victims thought they had purchased their tickets from a Web site named BeijingTicketing.com. The authentic-looking site has been selling Olympics tickets for months before it was shut down this week. The site was named in a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the International Olympic committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee on July 22.

Gerald Lim, a dentist from of Rancho Mirage, Calif., is among those who say they spent thousands of dollars at the site but now have nothing but broken dreams to show for it. Lim's daughter, Lynette, is a high-school swimming phenom who qualified for Singapore’s swim team thanks to the family's status as dual citizens.
Gerald Lim said that in June he spent more than $3,000 on 3 tickets for himself, his wife and his other daughter to attend preliminary rounds for three events – the 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle races -- where his daughter would compete.

"I contacted a travel agent who recommended the site," he said. "The agent said swimming tickets are hard to get, even harder than the opening ceremony." When Lim found tickets for sale at BeijingTicketing.com, he said the agent told him the site was "100 percent reliable." The site was the first link provided by search engines like Google when he went online looking for Olympics tickets, Lim said.

But Lim -- and perhaps thousands of others -- found out last week that they weren’t going to get the tickets they paid for.

Lim received an e-mail on Monday from the site, saying, "We regret to inform you that our suppliers have not been able to honour their commitments to us in supplying tickets for the Summer Olympics, despite having received written assurances from these suppliers. We are given to understand that they have placed themselves in to bankruptcy."

In a cruel irony, Lim holds tickets for several of the women's swimming finals, thanks to the Singapore Olympic team. But his daughter is unlikely to reach the finals, and he now lacks tickets for the preliminary events.

Remarkably, Lim seemed to be taking the bad news in stride when contacted Tuesday by msnbc.com in Singapore, just before he left for China.

"I have my daughter competing in the Olympics, and that's really great," he said. "Everything has to be kept in perspective."

Lim said he has heard from other victims, including the family of another Singaporean swimmer who was taken by the site.

David Lowe of Tustin, Calif., fortunately has tickets to see his daughter, Caitlin, chase the gold medal as part of the women's softball team, which he purchased from an official U.S. ticket seller, CoSports.com. But he wanted to see her march with her fellow U.S. Olympians during the opening ceremony. CoSports.com was sold out, so Lowe found his way to BeijingTicketing.com in December and spent $1,850 each for two tickets.

BeijingTicketing.com offered a realistic database of ticket choices
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The company was thorough, he said, even requiring him to send in passport photos for the tickets – standard practice for this Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies.

Lowe said he "thought the prices were high," but figured that was standard for a ticket broker service.

Web site for vicitms
Houston-based attorney Jim Moriarty is another victim. He paid $12,000 for tickets to many high-profile events, including the opening and closing ceremonies.

Unlike Lowe, he now finds himself holding plane tickets to China, but not much else. He still plans to leaves for Beijing on Wednesday, having spent thousands of dollars on a two-week trip there, without a single ticket for any Olympic event.

"It's not the money," said Moriarity, who like most victims will likely be reimbursed by his credit card company. "It's that I planned for two years for this trip, spent tens of thousands of dollars to be there, spent vacation time, and now instead of packing my camera for the opening ceremony all I can do is go there and read a newspaper."

Furious over the scam, he set up a Web site called BeijingTicketScam.com, which went live Saturday night. Already, he has heard from 38 other victims, including the Lim family.

"The real harm here is this girl has spent eight years of her life getting ready to be on the world stage, and she needs to be thinking about that, and instead she's thinking about how her mom and dad got screwed out of tickets. That's not right," he said.

If the Web site ultimately proves to be a scam, it's unclear how its makers profited from it. In other Web site scams, con artists set up fake merchant accounts along with fake Web sites to collect credit card payments, then quickly move payments into untraceable accounts. By the time consumers complain about the scam, it's too late for banks to recover the money.

'Don't know what I'm going to do in China'
Another victim, Johnny Wang of Cupertino, Calif., said his wife and son are already in Beijing expecting to see the U.S. Olympic basketball team play. He stayed behind to complete a few remaining tasks at work and will join them, -- and share the bad news -- later this week.

U.S. Olympian Caitlin Lowe (David Morris/Killeen Daily Herald via AP)
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"I am going to have to tell my son next week that we will not be able to go to the Olympics basketball game to cheer his stars, Kobe, LaBron ... that I had promised to take him to," he said. "Telling him this is going to be harder for me than losing the money."

Victims appear to come from all over the world. A writer identifying himself as Cassio Eduardo from Brazil said he bought 10 tickets from BeijingTicketing.com and planned his trip across the world accordingly. He arrives in Beijing on Thursday.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do in China," he said.

Asking for help from IOC
Moriarity has called on the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee to help victims make arrangements with Chinese officials to obtain tickets once they arrive in China. He blames them for not stepping in sooner. Earlier this year, questions were raised about "unofficial" ticket sites like BeijingTicketing.com, including a scathing story that appeared in the British newspaper The Guardian. That story concluded that the group behind Beijingticking.com had been involved in other fraudulent online ticket scams in Britain, sellikng consumers tickets to high-profile rock concerts and soccer matches that never arrived.

"The (International Olympic Committee) knew about this in March and didn’t do much," he said.
Tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies are carefully guarded, and include microchips printed with the ticket holder's photograph and passport number. The tickets are not transferable now, so even those scam victims willing to pay top dollar for scalped tickets in Beijing will be locked out, Moriarity said.

"A lot of people can still be accommodated, if there were some adjustments to the transfer rules." he said.

U.S. Olympic Committee officials who can speak about the ticket controversy are all in Beijing, according to a spokeswoman for the committee. A message left for the officials was not immediately returned.

BeijingTicketing.com was sued by the IOC and USOC in both Arizona and California. But Moriarity said those lawsuits will not get far; the U.S. addresses are fake he said, and he believes the operators of the ticket scam are actually in the United Kingdom.

Last week, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers issued a consumer warning about the site after receiving several complaints from consumers.

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Beijing Olympics: US swimmer in naked protest

Glamorous US swimmer Amanda Beard became the first athlete to cross the boundary between sport and politics at the Beijing Olympics today when she took part in a naked protest against the international fur trade.

Amanda Beard holds a poster of herself posing naked for an anti-fur campaign

Ms Beard, a double Olympic Champion, posed for a nude picture as part of a publicity campaign run by the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The swimmer, who is no stranger to showing a little skin - she posed naked for a centerfold in Playboy Magazine last year - said she was determined to use the Olympic platform as a stage for her views.

"What happens with animals when their skin is ripped from their bodies when they are still alive, it's heartbreaking for me," she told reporters.

The Chinese authorities did their best to limit the impact of her protest, shutting down a press conference which PETA had planned on the terrace of a hotel overlooking the 'Water Cube' Olympic swimming venue.

After police turned organisers away from the hotel citing 'safety concerns', Ms Beard was forced to present her message from the side of the main road outside the Athlete's Village.

"It was very disappointing," said Jason Baker, PETA's Asia-Pacific director, "We weren't making a political attack on the Chinese government and had sent our press release in advance to the Beijing Committee, but apparently that was not enough."

Ms Beard, 26, said she had no intention of upsetting the Chinese authorities, but wanted to convey her anti-fur message in China which is the world's leading fur exporter.

"I'm not trying to be in everybody's face and be harsh or negative. I want to be calm and yet get my voice out there. I'm doing it for all those animals who don't have a voice," she said.

Although the Olympic rules prevent athletes from making political statements, Swimming USA said that Ms Beard would not be censured for her actions.

"Each athlete has been allowed to do one pre-competition publicity appearance and Amanda was only endorsing a campaign which she had signed up to before the Games," a spokeswoman for Swimming USA said.

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Bush To Olympians: 'Bring Back Lots Of Valuable Gold'

President George W. Bush delivered an encouraging motivational message to Beijing-bound Olympians Monday, urging them to "compete swifter, higher, and stronger in their pursuit of gold" so that they may achieve not just the glory of victory but the hard cash value of the much-needed commodity. "Truly, victory and pride are beyond price, but gold is currently going for $916.78 a troy ounce," Bush said in the Rose Garden speech, delivered just hours after he was unable to secure an agreement with the Chinese ambassador to forge the Olympic medals out of debt-relief certificates. "In striving, you uplift the hearts of all Americans, but in victory alone will you actually get something that can help us out of the current economic slump. I mean, silver is barely over 17 bucks. Might as well drop out at that rate." Bush later held a closed-door Oval Office meeting with swimmer Michael Phelps, whose possible eight gold medals could potentially help the Olympic team break even on travel costs.

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Deadly earthquake hits China ahead of Games

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck China's Sichuan province on Tuesday, killing at least one person and seriously injuring five others, a local emergency official told CNN.

The official said another 18 people suffered minor injuries.

The Sichuan region is still recovering from the after-effects of a devastating 7.9-magnitude temblor in May.

The quake's epicenter was located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north-northwest of Guangyuan, near Sichuan's border with neighboring Gansu province.

Hours before the quakes struck, the Olympic torch relay made its way through parts of Sichuan, on its way to the Summer Games, which get under way Friday in Beijing, some 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away.

The earthquake occurred at 5.49 p.m. local time (0949 GMT), news agency Xinhua said -- striking a few hours after the relay made its final stop in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu. iReport.com: Did you feel the quake? Share your story

That tremor killed almost 70,000 people and left 18,000 missing and 5 million homeless. There had been 22,019 aftershocks detected since then -- including three in the past four days before the last incidence.

Tuesday's casualties were in Yaodu Township, which was also severely affected by the May 12 quake, a Qingchuan County official told Xinhua.

The quake also disrupted communications in Yaodu, Xinhua said, but details of other damage were not yet available yet.

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The epicenter of the initial quake was about 290 kilometers (180 miles) southwest from Tuesday's temblor.

It was felt in the cities of Hanzhong and Xi'an, both in neighboring Shaanxi province, as well as Chongqing. Many people rushed out of buildings in those cities, Xinhua reported.

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A 10 IsnТt Necessarily Perfect in New Scoring System for Gymnastics

In one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history, the American gymnast Mary Lou Retton received a perfect 10.0 on her vault at the 1984 Los Angeles Games to clinch the all-around title.
10 May No Longer Be Perfect in Gymnastics

No gymnast will repeat that feat at the Beijing Games, guaranteed.

The gymnastics scoring system based on a top mark of 10.0 will not exist at these Olympics. The system, which had been in use for about 80 years, was replaced two years ago with one that has no ceiling.

Some gymnastics purists, including Retton and her former coach, Bela Karolyi, are still mourning.

At the United States women’s Olympic team selection camp in July, Retton explained why she “hates” the new scoring. “It’s hard to understand,” she said. “I don’t even understand it.”

Nostalgic for the old system, she said: “It’s simple. People get it, and you don’t have to explain it. Everybody could relate to it. I miss it, and I think other people will, too.”

Karolyi was less genteel about losing the perfect 10.0: “It’s crazy, terrible, the stupidest thing that ever happened to the sport of gymnastics. How could they take away this beautiful, this most perfect thing from us, the one thing that separated our sport from the others?”

Spurred in part by the judging errors at the 2004 Olympics, the international gymnastics federation, known as the F.I.G., changed the system to better differentiate one gymnast’s routines from another’s.

Gymnasts now receive separate marks for degree of difficulty and for execution in each event. The two are added to obtain the overall score, which usually ranges from 14 to 17 for top-level gymnasts.

It is only possible, but not probable, for a gymnast to score a 10.0 in the execution appraisal.

“At first, it was very hard to make the transition, but now I think we’re used to it, even though the fans might not be,” said Chellsie Memmel, a member of the United States women’s team. “I do think a lot of people who watch these Olympics might be kind of confused.”

The new system is heavy on math and employs two sets of judges, an A panel and a B panel, to do the computations. Two A-panel judges determine the difficulty and technical content of each routine. Six B-panel judges score routines for execution, artistry, composition and technique.

The A-panel judges’ scorecards start at zero, and points are added to give credit for requirements, individual skills and skills performed in succession.

The A panel counts only the gymnast’s 10 most difficult skills, which are ranked from easiest to most difficult (from A to G for women and from A to F for men). An A-level skill, like a back handspring in the floor exercise, is worth one-tenth of a point. The value increases by one-tenth of a point for each subsequent level, meaning a B-level skill is worth two-tenths and an F-level is worth six-tenths.

Required elements add a maximum 2.5 points to the score. Extra points, either one-tenth or two-tenths, are given for stringing skills together.

Each judge adds the marks, then the two reach a consensus. Elite gymnasts usually have a difficulty score in the 6s; the toughest routines will have difficulty scores in the high 6s or 7s.

Nastia Liukin of the United States team, for example, performs a routine on the uneven bars that has a sky-high difficulty value of 7.7. Her father and coach, Valeri Liukin, crunched numbers last year to invent the complex, high-scoring routine.

He did the calculations on a Post-it before handing it to his daughter at practice one day. She gasped.

“I was like: Wow, you want me to do all of that? Is that possible?” Nastia Liukin said. “But then I realized that I need to do all that with this new scoring, if I even want to think about a gold medal. I said: OK, cool. I’ll learn it.”

At the United States championships in May, Liukin nailed her performance and scored a 17.1, the highest score by any gymnast from the United States since the system changed. She said she expected to score even higher at the Olympics.

Liukin could do just that if she is able to pull off the routine, which is filled with risky skills. At her best, Liukin seems as if she is weightless as she floats above and between the bars.

“In one segment, back to back, she does six D or E elements, which is pretty amazing,” said Pat Panichas, a United States gymnastics judge who will be working the Olympics. “That’s why her start value is one of the highest, if not the highest, anywhere. The system rewards difficulty.

“But the mistakes are also more costly.”

Which is where the judges on the B panel come in. They rate the execution, artistry and technique of a routine, starting at a score of 10.0 and deducting for errors.

This score, called an execution score, is where the perfect 10.0 still exists. But reaching it is unlikely.

A slightly bent knee can be a deduction of one-tenth of a point. A more drastically bent knee can cost three-tenths. In this system, the deductions jump from one-tenth to three-tenths to five-tenths. A fall costs a gymnast eight-tenths. In the old system, a fall was a five-tenths deduction.

The highest and the lowest of the judges’ scores are thrown out. The remaining four scores are averaged to obtain the final B-panel score.

On the scoreboard, the final score appears in big numbers, just above the gymnast’s marks for difficulty and execution.

“I like it because it separates the good gymnasts from the really, really good gymnasts,” said Paul Hamm, who was confirmed as the true Olympic champion in the all-around at the 2004 Athens Games — after two months of scoring controversy.

The new scoring system came about after the Athens Olympics, in which the South Korean team said that its gymnast Yang Tae Young — not Hamm — deserved to win the gold medal. The South Korean federation filed a protest two days after the medal ceremony, saying that Yang’s routine on the parallel bars had been mistakenly underscored by a tenth of a point.

The South Koreans insisted that the extra tenth would have moved Yang into first place.

Two months later, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the medal belonged to Hamm, who will miss these Games with a hand injury. It said that the judges would have had to review the results of the entire all-around competition, not just Yang’s, to determine if the outcome would have differed.

The South Koreans also filed their complaint too late. And in the new system, the time limits remain the same. If a coach protests a difficulty score before the next gymnast competes, then officials will review the routine. If a dispute lingers, a written request for inquiry must be submitted before the start of the next rotation.

Under the new scoring system, if coaches have a problem with an execution score, they can do nothing. No inquiries or protests are allowed.

“It’s still not a perfect system,” said Martha Karolyi, the United States women’s national team coordinator. “It’s still judges deciding to give a credit to a skill or not. It’s still going to have errors because human beings are making the decisions.”

Some coaches say that the system was put in place too hastily after the Athens Games, and that it does not address many of the problems that cropped up there. Some have said that this system has its own problems, which include putting an emphasis on more challenging routines.

Miles Avery, who coaches Paul and Morgan Hamm, said the new system might encourage some athletes to perform perilous routines before they were ready.

“The possibility is there that athletes will think, I’ll put so much difficulty into my routine that it won’t be possible for anyone to catch me,” Avery said. “That’s when people get hurt.”

Some gymnasts seem willing to take the chance more than others.

The Chinese national team has routines with very high difficulty — so high that the team is already ahead of every other, on paper, before the Games begin, said Ron Brant, the United States men’s national team coordinator.

The more daring the routine, the greater the risk that errors will be made.

“When nerves kick in and the pressure is up, it tends to even things out,” Brant said.

In the new system, some events are more valuable toward the team total than others. For the men, the difficulty values for the vault and the still rings are usually higher than for other events. On the women’s side, the balance beam and the uneven bars usually have higher difficulty values.

For Bela Karolyi, it is unnecessarily complicated.

He recounted his first 10.0. Nadia Comaneci finished her initial routine on the uneven bars at the 1976 Games. The judges saw it as flawless and awarded the first perfect score in Olympic history.

“I had tears in my eyes because it was so gorgeous,” Karolyi said.

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Packers trade Favre to Jets

The Brett Favre era in Green Bay is now officially over. But his legendary career is not.
The month-long saga has finally come to an end, with the Packers agreeing to trade their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback to the New York Jets, FOXSports.com first reported Wednesday night.

"We're going to take this one year at a time," Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said on a conference call early Thursday morning. "We're excited to have Brett on the team this year."

Reports heated up throughout the day Wednesday with both the Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers emerging as clear-cut frontrunners to land Favre, who will bring a long list of winning credentials to a franchise in need.

"Brett has had a long and storied career in Green Bay, and the Packers owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for everything he accomplished," the Packers said in a press release. "It is with some sadness that we make this announcement, but also with the desire for certainty that will allow us to move the team and organization forward in the most positive way possible."

In return, the Packers will receive a conditional fourth-round pick that could end up as high as a first-rounder depending upon how the Jets perform during the 2008 season.

"I am looking forward to seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets uniform," Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson said in a statement released by the team. "He represents a significant addition to this franchise, and reflects our commitment to putting the best possible product on the field."

Favre's new No. 4 Jets jersey already was for sale on the team's Web site about an hour after the trade was announced.

As a result of the trade, the Jets will likely release a quarterback. Signs have been pointing to Chad Pennington as the probable candidate because the team will need to free up space to fit Favre's contract under the salary cap, a possibility Tannenbaum all but confirmed Thursday morning.

"It's a bittersweet moment for us," Tannenbaum said. "I have all the respect in the world for Chad as a person, as a player. We've accomplished a lot of good things with Chad ... He gave his heart and soul to this organization for a long, long time. I really appreciate everything he's done."

Tannenbaum said an announcement on a transaction involving Pennington would come Thursday.

The Jets went into training camp with an open competition between Pennington and Kellen Clemens after neither established themselves during a 4-12 season. Pennington was 1-7 as the starter and was benched midway through the season. Clemens went 3-5, but Pennington actually had the better season statistically.

The Jets — who've spent more than $100 million this offseason overhauling their roster — were much more aggressive than the Bucs in their pursuit of Favre all along. The bigger issue was getting Favre on the same page as the Packers' front office in terms of being amenable to a trade to the Jets.

Finally, late Tuesday, Favre talked to Jets head coach Eric Mangini and others in the organization for the first time as they tried to convince Favre he would be a good fit in New York.

"He's coming to a new city," Tannenbaum said. "He's been in one system for a number of years. He doesn't have a lot of connections to our coaching staff. We were able to talk through moving to the Northeast and other issues."

The Packers had been hopeful of getting a deal done with the Jets for two reasons. One, it was the better offer on the table as far as the quality of the compensation. Two, it sends Favre out of the NFC.

This trade caps a roller-coaster offseason ride for Favre — the 38-year-old owner of nearly every meaningful passing record in NFL history — and the franchise that became synonymous with his No. 4 jersey. Favre's on-again, off-again retirement has monopolized headlines for the past two months as news began trickling to the media that Favre was second-guessing both his retirement decision and his status in Green Bay.

The Packers decided to move forward with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback after Favre announced his retirement in March. Given their commitment to Rodgers, team officials weren't particularly receptive when Favre decided a little over a month ago that he might want to play after all — the latest development in several years' worth of flip-flopping about his football future.

Favre announced his retirement at a press conference on March 6. At the time, the decision seemed somewhat of a surprise considering the success of Favre's 2007 campaign — 4,155 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes, plus career-highs in both completion percentage (66.5 percent) and yards per attempt (7.8).

Even Favre admitted at the press conference that he still knew he could play — and that he would want to play again at some point before training camp began.

Thus began the long road to Wednesday's trade. He requested a release from the team in early July, then gave a TV interview criticizing Packers management a few days later. The Packers filed tampering charges against the Minnesota Vikings, the NFC North rival that they believed was trying to lure Favre away.

Favre applied for reinstatement to the league nearly two weeks later, and rumors swirled about his possible fate — anything from a trade to a backup spot behind Rodgers on the Packers bench.

After some hope for reconciliation between the franchise and perhaps its most beloved player earlier this week, the final split between the Packers and Favre became obvious Tuesday evening.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that after approximately six hours of what he called "brutally honest" conversations over two days, the coach had determined that Favre doesn't have the right mind-set to play for the Packers.

McCarthy said Favre couldn't seem to get past emotional wounds that were opened as tensions mounted in recent weeks — even with the chance to win his starting job back potentially on the table.

"The train has left the station, whatever analogy you want," McCarthy said Tuesday. "He needs to jump on the train and let's go. Or, if we can't get past things that have happened, I have to keep the train moving."

McCarthy spoke to Favre again Tuesday night, but there was no indication that their conversation did anything to change the fractured relationship between Favre and the franchise.

"It was just very general," McCarthy said of the conversation with Favre, who was excused from practice Wednesday. "Just how he was doing, where he was with the process, things like that."

McCarthy said he was happy the rest of his players were getting a chance to move forward.

"We talked about it last night," McCarthy said. "The players want resolution, they want what everybody wants. To come out here every day and talk about somebody that is not here and then shows up, it's gone on too long, and understandably so. They want to play football."

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Goodbye, Green Bay: Favre traded to Jets

With 'some sadness,' Packers deal unretired quarterback to New York


Brett Favre’s journey from retirement and back has ended in New York.

The Green Bay Packers traded their three-time MVP and Super Bowl-winning quarterback to the Jets on Wednesday, ending an emotionally grinding month of indecision over Favre’s future.

The move ends a remarkably ugly split between Green Bay and one of its most beloved players, allows the Packers to move forward with new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and gives Favre a fresh start — although not exactly the one he wanted, as Favre’s first choice was widely believed to be the Minnesota Vikings.

“It’s like a marriage that ends,” Packers president Mark Murphy said at a news conference Thursday. “It happens. Neither party is at fault.”

Favre was scheduled to leave Hattiesburg, Miss., Thursday morning and the Jets said he would be at a 6 p.m. EDT news conference in Cleveland, where New York plays the Browns in a preseason game later Thursday.

According to NFL.com, the Packers will receive a fourth-round draft pick in 2009. The selection would turn into a third-rounder if Favre plays in 50 percent of the plays this season, a second-rounder if he plays in 70 percent and the Jets make the playoffs, or a first-round pick if he plays in 80 percent and the Jets make it to the Super Bowl.

“I am looking forward to seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets uniform,” said Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson in a statement issued early Thursday. “He represents a significant addition to this franchise, and reflects our commitment to putting the best possible team on the field.”

Green Bay had been talking with the Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers since deciding earlier this week that they could no longer coexist with Favre.

The Packers decided to move forward with Rodgers after Favre retired in March. Given their commitment to Rodgers, team officials weren’t particularly receptive when Favre decided just over a month ago that he might want to play after all — the latest development in several years’ worth of flip-flopping about his football future.

“I think all parties involved felt this was the best result for a difficult situation,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said.

Thompson said the Packers will review how the situation was handled, saying “I’m not sure we didn’t make mistakes.”

The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports on its Web site.

“We just felt like this was an opportunity to go get somebody of Brett’s stature and what he’s accomplished,” Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said during a conference call early Thursday morning. “We felt it was in the best interest of the team and when the opportunity presented itself, we felt it was the right move for us to make and we went ahead and did it.”

A number of fans made it clear throughout training camp that they wanted Favre on the Jets with signs and “Get Brett!” chants. Favre’s new No. 4 Jets jersey already was for sale on the team’s Web site about an hour after the trade was announced.

Tannenbaum, who said he had a “good” conversation with Favre, wouldn’t speculate whether the quarterback will play in New York beyond this season.

“We had discussions with him and his agent, Bus Cook,” Tannenbaum said, “and we’re going into this and we’re going to take this one year at a time and we’re excited to have Brett on the team this year.”

The arrival of Favre signals the end of Chad Pennington’s career with the Jets. Tannenbaum said there would be another transaction regarding Pennington, who spent his first eight seasons with the Jets.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for us,” Tannenbaum said. “I have all the respect in the world for Chad as a person, as a player. We’ve accomplished a lot of good things with Chad ... He gave his heart and soul to this organization for a long, long time. I really appreciate everything he’s done.”

Favre left Green Bay on Wednesday, boarding a private plane that left for Hattiesburg with his wife, Deanna, and Cook. Favre’s family home is near Hattiesburg.

The 38-year-old Favre holds most major NFL passing records and led the Packers to the NFC championship last season, where they lost to the New York Giants. Favre threw what would prove to be the decisive interception in overtime.

“We wish him the best,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “There’s no ill feelings. He has a positive reputation within this organization.”

The Jets went into training camp with an open competition between Pennington and Kellen Clemens after neither established themselves during a 4-12 season. Pennington was 1-7 as the starter and was benched midway through the season. Clemens went 3-5, but Pennington actually had the better season statistically.

After some hope for reconciliation between Favre and the Packers earlier this week, the final split became obvious Tuesday evening.

McCarthy told reporters Tuesday that after approximately six hours of what he called “brutally honest” conversations over two days, the coach had determined that Favre doesn’t have the right mind-set to play for the Packers.

McCarthy said Favre couldn’t seem to get past emotional wounds that were opened as tensions mounted in recent weeks — even with the chance to win his starting job back potentially on the table.

“He wants to play,” McCarthy said Thursday. “He should play and we got to a tough spot, and that’s why we’re here today.”

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20 Years Of Madden Covers

As you probably know, the newest installment of the Madden video game series comes out next week. And since it’s been around for 20 years, here’s all 20 of the covers, starting when that handsome devil himself was the one who graced the front of our favorite video game ever.

JOHN MADDEN FOOTBALL - 1990

This was also the cover for “John Madden’s Kool-Aid Man Impersonation” video game (which wasn’t nearly as popular.)

JOHN MADDEN FOOTBALL - 1991

As you can see from this cover photo, John Madden really likes football.

JOHN MADDEN FOOTBALL ‘92

The third installment of Madden is also the first to incorporate the soon-to-be-iconic date into the title. Oddly, it was Friday The 13th Part III where Jason got his iconic hockey mask. Coincedence?

JOHN MADDEN FOOTBALL ‘93

‘93 was the first to use the “no huddle offense” and “player taunting.” Which meant every 15-year-old who played this spent more time getting in the face of his opponent than figuring out how to complete a skinny post.

MADDEN ‘94

When 1994 rolled around Madden dropped the John and got a new sleeker look. If only his body could’ve done the same.

MADDEN 95

In a controversial move, EA drops the apostrophe before the year. Leaving everyone to wonder, “Is this Madden 1895?”

MADDEN 96

The first year for the “Create A Player” feature, which saw NFL Teams sign many new players with such colorful last names as “Ass,” “Champ” and “Ass Champ.”

MADDEN 97

John isn’t pointing at you on this cover. He’s pointing at the turducken behind you.

MADDEN 98

On this cover, Madden is clearly saying “What can I say? I just love Turducken.”

MADDEN 99

Awesome glitch: Anytime Terry Glenn makes a catch or a play, John Madden will refer to him winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award.

MADDEN 2000

Madden football entered the new millenium by releasing a version of the game for both Mac and PC computers, causing a new generation of nerds to say, “Mac is better.”

MADDEN 2001

This was the year that Madden trained really hard in the offseason and re-entered the league under the name “Eddie George.” Or…this was the year they stopped putting John on the cover and started using players.

MADDEN 2002

This was the last Madden to be released on N64. A moment of silence, please.

MADDEN 2003

Using Madden Cards, Andrew WK and the guys in Good Charlotte can become players you can sign. I assume that even in pixelated form, Andrew WK’s player still really enjoys partying.

MADDEN 2004

Some guy named Michael Vick was on this cover. Apparently he used to be a football player.

MADDEN 2005

Fun fact: Ray Lewis is the first and only defensive player to ever appear on the cover of Madden.
Funner fact: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is listed as “Ben Roethlisbergr” because of the letter limit.

MADDEN 06

This year featured the QB Vision Control, which meant you had to have your receiver in your field of vision to make an accurate pass. Which also meant I never threw an accurate pass.

MADDEN 07

Because this is an E rated game, the beer concessions were replaced with coffee in this edition. Which may explain why there were 99% less pukings and 100% more excited, chatty ramblings in the stands that year (I made that stat up.)

MADDEN 08

This is the last version to ever be released on the Gamecube. A moment of silence, please.

MADDEN 09

Some up and coming young gunslinger named Brett Favre is on the newest cover. He’s bound to lead the Packers…or Buccaneers or Vikings or Bears or Packers to a great season this year.

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The Insane Tribal Bungee Jumpers of Vanuatu

Imagine taking a nose-dive from the top of a 75 foot bamboo tower, plummeting to the ground with nothing but vines attached to your feet. Hundreds of your fellow tribesmen stand patiently in awe and expectation, jeering at your demise. Well, that’s exactly what happens during the Naghol festival on Pentecost Island, Vanuatu.

Long before western civilization decided that scaring themselves shitless on gaint rubber bands was a great pastime, the people of Vanuatu had been doing their own version of what we call bungee jumping, for, oh, about 1,500 years. And it makes our so called ‘extreme’ version look like a day out in Disneyland.

Instead of strong rubber cords to absorb the force of the fall the Vanuatu tribes use intricately woven vines thethered to the jumpers legs and in place of a huge deep canyons to jump into, their impact is absorbed by a mere few layers of vines spread across the ground.

Giant wooden towers are built in the southern villages of Pentecost Island, their joints lashed together with natural vines. No nails, bolts, screws or other manmade building materials are used. The tower is flexibile yet completely anchored to the hillside with even more vines. Divers take a leap from a 25 meter (75 feet) high bamboo tower and crash towards the ground below while around 300 members of their tribe frenetically cheer them on.



The diving itself is an annual land-based tradition and is celebrated around the same time as the yam harvest. Traditionally, the goal of the Naghol divers is to bless the soil for the coming year by skimming the earth with the top of his head; the ritual is said to guarantee fertile soil for the farmers and a bountiful harvest. Today, the festival is also rite of passage for young boys who demonstrate their courage by hurling themselves off the towers. Of course, some do it to impress the chicks, like any society, and others do it just for the hell of it.

During the daredevil ceremony, as many as 20 divers have their ankles wrapped in traditional woven mats and tied with plaited vines and liana strands. The vines are meticulously measured to be the right size - too long and they will slam to the ground, too short and they will crash back into the bamboo tower. The height of each diver’s jump is dictated by his age and experience. The youngest members of the tribe start the ceremony and each successive jump means the next jump will be performed from an even higher platform.


Before the jump, it’s common for those that jump to settle disputes with family and friends, well, in case they die. But thankfully few do. However, there have been a few damaged spleens and other various injuries. And just in case they’ve struck a deal with lady luck, the divers must take off any lucky charms and refrain from having sex with a woman the day before he jumps, otherwise the dive could go drastically wrong.

The most experienced and flamboyant diver is chosen to close the ceremony; when he lands safely the crowd go wild and the festivities begin. The end of the Naghol is celebrated with enough cooked pig for all and dancing late into the night.


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Can Carmelo Anthony and Team USA bring home the gold?


Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, along with fellow superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, have one goal for the Beijing Olympics: to bring home the gold. Men's Fitness caught up with Carmelo to get his thoughts on this year's Games.

You were only eight years old when Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson took home the gold in 1992. What impact did that Olympic team have on you?
Just knowing the history and the foundation those guys made for us was the biggest impact. I know it's kind of hard to follow in their footsteps and do what they did, but this is our chance to put the U.S. back where they belong.

Do you think this 2008 team has the potential to rank alongside the 1992 Dream Team?
Yeah, I think so. We have all the tools to be ranked up there, but the only thing that's going to determine that is winning. We keep in mind what they did, but we want to make our own identity. I think we're on the right track with doing that.

The 2004 team practiced together only 15 times and played six exhibitions. The 2008 team has already worked out more than 66 times and played 24 games. How has that helped you gel as a team?
The more time you spend with each other, the more you get to learn from each other and get comfortable around each other. I truly believe that just by winning together and being in tough situations together, you know what to expect from one another.

Do you have any favorite exercises?
When you're working out, I don't think any exercise is your favorite [Laughs.] I pretty much do it all. I started incorporating boxing a couple of years ago. That's intense. I have the utmost respect for any and all boxers.

What's your diet and nutrition like?
I have a personal chef. He can bake chicken and make it look like it's fried or make a low-carb spaghetti. The goal is to keep me at 8% body fat. I stay away from the red meat. I eat a lot of seafood and chicken. Sometimes I lose too much weight, and then I need to start eating red meat, carbs, rice, and pasta.

How important is fitness when it comes to either winning or losing a basketball game?
It all comes down to being fit. At the end of the game, it's what helps you beat the other team. Fitness is the key when it comes to anything in life.

Parting thoughts on the upcoming Summer Games?
Everyone will be coming at us with their A-game. You have Spain, Argentina, and China. Other countries are really getting better. In my mind, we're still the best. But we gotta go out there and prove it now. We have to bring back the swagger. We're far from cocky, but we're a very confident team. Anything less than a gold will be a disappointment.

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Is The MLB Ready For Another Scandal?

In the past few years, there has been numerous scandals involving almost every professional sport, some worse than others, others worse than some. Athletes like Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, and Tim Donaghy do not need their stories retold as the dark cloud above their heads called “the media” hasn’t left any details unsung.

Steroids in baseball, referees betting on games they officiate, and killing dogs were suppose to take the cake right? I thought so, until I came across a few baseball news sites early this morning, that paint the picture of the MLB trying to hang themselves. Reports are now beginning to surface about another possible scandal in Major League Baseball that has potentially equal or more “fire power” than the steroid scuttlebutt. However in this case, it seems as though Major League Baseball is the one being scammed.

According to the Bleacher Report, it was reported in March that White Sox Director of Scouting, David Wilder, was caught by United States Customs attempting to smuggle $40,000 cash into Miami. Since then, Wilder has been cooperating with FBI and MLB officials and has been fired by the White Sox.

Why the smuggling? Fortunately for investigators, Wilder has sung like a canary. Apparently, many scouts have been scouting players in Latin America and other surrounding territories. If the scouts see an ounce of star potential in a player’s performance, the player is bribed with huge dollar salaries and signed with inflated bonuses. I’m not sure what the best part is; the fact that the players suck or the fact that the scouts then force the players to give them a cut of their own offer. Now that’s hot stuff!

The Bleacher Report is not the only source of information on this shocking story. Wait! Was that really shocking? According to Market Place Public Radio, last week, the top Dominican scout for the Boston Red Sox was fired over accusations involved in the skinny dipping of bonuses. Tough one buddy! You won’t have to ask Arizona catcher Chris Snyder about what it feels like to shatter a nut! ESPN has reported that as many as 20 people could be implicated in this scandal involving more than a dozen ball clubs.

Controversy is also surrounding the fate of Yankees Prospect OF Kelvin DeLeon. Kelv “the man” is only 17-years old and from the Dominican Republic. He signed a deal in July of ‘07 for 1.1 million total watermelons. The problem is-the salary and bonus contracted does not match his talent or ability. SCAM!

Scouts are reportedly up to no good. I stress the word “reportedly” because in America you are innocent until proven guilty. For all we know the media could have it backwards, sideways, upside-down or out when its suppose to be in. However, if these reports are correct, the MLB is going to take another shot to its image, and have a few more problems other than steroids.

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