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Thursday, October 23, 2008

- ELITEXC INSIDER DETAILS COMPANY'S DOWNFALL

by Tom Hamlin - MMAWeekly.com

EliteXCDownfall.jpg
Icon Sport founder T.Jay Thompson, in an interview with MMAWeekly.com Monday evening, said crisis management, or lack thereof, brought ProElite, Inc. down.

Thompson's history with EliteXC began in August of 2007 when he sold his Hawaiian MMA promotion, Icon Sport, to the then-expanding company. As part of his deal, he entered into a five-year consulting contract with the Los Angeles-based company and participated in many strategic talks with its executives.

A 15-year industry veteran who got his start promoting fights in the backrooms of bars to a couple hundred fans, Thompson got a call Monday morning from EliteXC Head of Fight Operations Jeremy Lappen, who informed him that the company had filed for bankruptcy and everyone in the company would be let go.

Thompson said it was CBS, not Showtime, who backed out of an impending deal to purchase the ailing fight promotion. Last Tuesday, he spoke with EliteXC CEO Chuck Champion, who said the company had a fifty-fifty shot of surviving.

“His opinion was that the deal was either going to close in the next two to four weeks, or it was going to crash a lot faster than that,” Thompson said.

Though he was not present during negotiations between EliteXC and CBS, Thompson believes the handling of EliteXC’s third CBS televised card, “Heat,” sealed its fate.

“I was there cageside and watched the whole thing happen,” he said. “I think (CBS) got cold feet watching. The way the Ken Shamrock pullout was handled, all the way from the beginning to the end with Seth Petruzelli. Watching Jared Shaw jumping up and down and screaming as a representative of the company, I think was disgusting and embarrassing.”

Almost as quickly as Heat was over, the Oct. 4 show was mired in controversy over comments Petruzelli made to an Orlando radio show. During his interview, Petruzelli implied that EliteXC officials had attempted to influence the outcome of the fight. Subsequent outcry from fans and media caused the Florida State Boxing Commission to open an investigation, another reason Thompson believes CBS pulled out of talks with EliteXC.

“I don’t have a smoking gun, (but) I’ve been around long enough; I’ve talked to enough people that were there, I won’t name names of executives in the company that I know. Seth was paid to stand up. I’m confident of that. If the commission wants to talk to me, I’ll tell them what I know.”

Thompson believes his company and other MMA promotions under the ProElite banner are destined to languish in bankruptcy court, along with EliteXC’s fighter contracts. On Tuesday, he will meet with his lawyers to determine whether it’s possible to free Icon Sport from its parent company. He’s not overly optimistic.

“(The promotions are) there for creditors to go after, really,” he said.

As a promoter, Thompson says he’s made hundreds of mistakes in his 15-year career. Elite’s size and visibility did not give them that luxury.

“When things are going good, anyone can promote a show,” he said. “Kimbo Slice knocking someone out, it’s pretty easy to get good ratings. It’s when crises happen that you earn your money as a promoter. It isn’t an exact science. The people that have been at the helm of EliteXC didn’t have the years of experience that are needed to promote MMA shows.”


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Giants' Manning still compared to Steelers' Roethlisberger

By Mike Dougherty

Giants quarterback Eli Manning says he's not concerned with comparisons to this week's rival quarterback, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning says he's not concerned with comparisons to this week's rival quarterback, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. (Bill Kostroun/The Associated Press)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The comparisons began to pick up demoralizing momentum three years ago when the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.

He jumped right to the head of a noteworthy class.

In many respects, Eli Manning did not measure up before he spotted Plaxico Burress in the end zone last February and got hold of the Lombardi Trophy for the Giants.

So whose ring has more diamonds?

"They're always going to compare quarterbacks who come in at the same time," Manning said yesterday. "When we're done playing, they'll probably compare who's done what, but it's nothing for me to be concerned with."

Mostly, it's a source of annoyance.

"It's just something people are probably always going to talk about," Roethlisberger said. "People always talk about draft classes and quarterbacks. I feel honored to be in the same class as him and Philip."

That would be San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, the odd man out at this point, with no rings.

Manning probably thought he moved beyond all of the side-by-side comparisons when he orchestrated perhaps the greatest drive in Giants history in Super Bowl XLII. But he's going head to head with Roethlisberger this week in Pittsburgh.

And both teams own 5-1 records.

The quarterbacks will be staring down impressive defensive units, and the postgame numbers will undoubtedly be scrutinized in office cubicles and on bar stools.

"We know it is going to be a great game," Roethlisberger said. "They are the defending champs and they are a very, very good football team. We know how important this game is. And it is by no means going to be easy. So I guess it will help us kind of figure out where we are and where we are headed."

It's an opinion shared by the Giants.

Manning was the first player drafted in 2004, and Roethlisberger went 10 picks later. There was plenty of second-guessing as Big Ben took over for an injured Tommy Maddox and drove the Steelers into the AFC title game.

He was named offensive rookie of the year along the way.

The next season, Roethlisberger won the Super Bowl at the age of 23 and seemed destined for stardom.

"You can look at quarterbacks and what they've done, but it all comes down to who's around you," said Manning, whose three interceptions in a wild-card loss to Carolina that winter overshadowed a solid year. "I think we both work hard and try to put our teams in position to win games."

There was more playoff disappointment before Manning broke through.

"I'm not comparing myself to Ben," Manning said. "It doesn't really matter what I've done or what he's done."

Not this week, anyway.

"I think that the player just kind of went down through the stretch and proved a lot of things last year," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Manning.

Still, it's always fun to kick around the stats.

Roethlisberger has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,163 yards. He's thrown nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Manning has completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,389 yards. He's thrown eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

"They are both extremely competitive and well-documented winners," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "I think that they are great for this game because of that. They are young, emerging guys and that's what they have in common."

Roethlisberger might lead all quarterbacks in grass stains. He's been sacked 18 times already. Manning has been taken down just three times.

Coughlin believes the Steelers were lacking experience on the line early on.

"I think the other thing is that the quarterback does such a great job of hanging in there," he said. "You have to recognize that part as well. He will wait until the absolute last second before he throws the ball."

Despite being part of a small fraternity, the quarterbacks do not know each other well.

"Ben and I were at the draft together," Manning said. "Actually, I haven't seen him in a couple of years. There's no real relationship. But obviously I have a lot of respect for him and the way he plays the game."

And they live in completely different worlds.

"I think he is probably scrutinized more, obviously, because of the media up there," Roethlisberger said. "But obviously we have both won a Super Bowl, and so far have had pretty good careers. I don't mind where I'm at. I don't want to be out there like that. Football is what I do. It is not who I am, and that is the mentality that I take."

Notes: Left tackle David Diehl was unable to practice yesterday because of a sore back. He is expected to go today. ... Burress spent at least part of the workout today on a stationary bike. He was out because of a stiff neck. ... Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce was able to practice. He noted a sore quad has improved.

Reach Mike Dougherty at mdougher@lohud.com.

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Texas QB McCoy says he will return for senior season

Does Colt McCoy Play Like Tony Romo?

Texas might be able to announce "Heisman Trophy winner Colt McCoy" next season.

The front-runner for the award told the Sporting News on Wednesday that he will return for his senior season.

"I'm going to play here for four years," McCoy said, according to the Web site. "I've been blessed to be able to play here. Not very many people get to [start] here for four years, so what an opportunity. And if the NFL is there for me, then I hope that I'll get to keep playing, because I love to play this game. Hopefully, it will work out."

McCoy completed a team-record 90.6 percent of his passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday as the No. 1 Longhorns beat then No. 11 Missouri 56-31.

This season, McCoy has thrown for 1,894 yards and 19 touchdowns, with only three interceptions, for 7-0 Texas.

Despite wanting to stay at Texas all four years, McCoy feels he is on pace for an NFL career and sees himself in the mold of a pretty good signal-caller.

"I play a lot like Tony Romo," McCoy said, according to the Sporting News. "Maybe not as risky now, but he's a playmaker. He can make some yards with his feet, but he's also right on the money. He's accurate and he's smart with the ball."

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Will Leach set sail for Jamaica?

Chuck Carlton

Texas Tech's ever-curious Mike Leach may have found a new area to recruit: Jamaica.

OK, Leach was (presumably) joking during his appearance on Fox Sports Radio's syndicated GameTime Live on Wednesday. The subject turned to Olympic sprinter extraordinaire Usain Bolt and what Leach's offense could do with that speed.

"I got to be honest, I've been thinking about recruiting Jamaica since I saw that stuff," Leach told hosts Andrew Siciliano and Krystal Fernandez. "I've been to Jamaica and let me tell you something ... here's the extent that I've thought about that subject, there's approximately 2.8 million people in Jamaica, which is approximately the size of the state of Iowa or Kansas, or the city of Houston.

"It's almost like the country of Jamaica is sitting there saying, 'If you would have just told us that this was important we could have won a lot of this stuff a long time ago.'"

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Armstrong could race in '09 Tour if he feels 'welcome'

PARIS -- Lance Armstrong could still race in the 2009 Tour de France, as long as race organizers make him feel welcome, Astana team director Johan Bruyneel said Tuesday.

"For the moment, we are going to determine his program based on where he is really welcome and invited ... and we will see about the rest," Bruyneel told The Associated Press. "So the main thing is that he is definitely not excluding riding in the Tour, but it would have to be in an atmosphere that is serene and respectful."

The seven-time Tour champion, who is scheduled to race the Giro d'Italia for the first time in 2009, expressed doubts last week over whether he would try for another Tour title because of the problems he might encounter with "the organizers, journalists and fans."

Bruyneel said the organizers' stance must soften somewhat for Armstrong to come back.

"At the end of the day, I always go to a party I'm invited to," Bruyneel said in an interview at a hotel in Paris ahead of Wednesday's unveiling of the 2009 Tour route.

The 37-year-old Armstrong is returning to cycling after a three-year retirement, and he wants to draw more attention to his global campaign to fight cancer, a disease he survived before winning seven straight Tours from 1999 to 2005.

Armstrong has feuded for years with Tour officials over drug-testing issues, but Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said he and the Astana team will be allowed to race next year -- as long as they avoid doping problems. Astana was banned from this year's Tour.

Bruyneel, who helped guide Armstrong on each of his seven Tour wins, said Prudhomme should have been more welcoming.

"Prudhomme said immediately that Lance would be welcome ... but there was always a 'but,'" Bruyneel said. "[Prudhomme said Armstrong] will have to comply with all the tests and regulations. That is definitely something that was not necessary to say. They [ASO] create that controversy, and ultimately it's in the interests of everybody that that controversy goes away."

Bruyneel said Armstrong has nothing to prove by gunning for an eighth Tour win.

"One thing has to be sure, clear. Lance does not need to win an eighth Tour de France, that stands above everything," Bruyneel said. "Of course, if he is making a comeback he would like to compete at the highest level. But he can do without it."

Bruyneel said Astana's training program starts in December in Tenerife, Spain, and Armstrong is for now only certain to race in the Jan. 20-25 Tour Down Under in Australia, the Tour of California and the Giro d'Italia.

"There has been a strong interest from the Giro to have Lance in the race," Bruyneel said. "Normally he would do a program of racing to get ready for the Giro and some recon in the mountains because he never did the Giro."

Since his retirement, Armstrong has kept in shape running marathons and more recently mountain bike racing. Bruyneel is surprised by Armstrong's physical shape.

"If we compare his condition now in the month of October compared to the years he was preparing the Tour ... he is a little bit better, because he was out of shape on the 20th of October in those years," Bruyneel said, laughing. "It all depends on how he can do that extra few percent."

Whichever race Armstrong enters -- the Giro, the Tour or both -- Bruyneel would not rule out another win.

"I think if he's determined about a comeback it's because he thinks there is possibilities at the very highest level," Bruyneel said. "We don't know exactly how high that can be, but I think he can be competitive."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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- ANDERSON SILVA TRULY IS EYEING RETIREMENT AT 35

by Damon Martin - MMAWeekly.com

AndersonSilva_UFC82PrePresser-002.jpg
Despite a title fight just around the corner, all of the attention on UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva lately has centered around his recent talk of retirement from the sport he is currently dominating and considered best in the world at.

The champion first talked about his desire to retire a few weeks back and his manager, Ed Soares, addressed the situation recently to set the record straight.

"Even before Anderson came into the UFC his goal has always been to retire at the age of 35," Soares stated. "He's actually talking about it much sooner than all of us would have liked, but the reality of it is that his goal it to retire at 35. He's got 18 months before he turns 35 and it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to retire right when he turns 35, that it would just be his goal."

Regardless of the set goal, Soares reassured everyone that Silva will indeed fulfill his current UFC contract, which spans his next six fights, but understands how his talk of retirement comes across to the general public.

"He's still got six fights left on his contract, the first of the six being against Patrick Cote, so I think that he's just talking about it, but at the end of the day I know for sure he's going to be fighting six fights in the UFC," said Soares. "He's talking about it, but I don't think he's very perceptive on how this is coming across to the media."

Soares is quick to point out that Silva isn't bored or tired of fighting, but just sticking to a goal he's had in mind long before his championship run in the UFC.

"He loves fighting, it's just that his goal has been to retire at 35," he said. "He's always had that goal set."

In his time with the UFC, Silva has become known as one of, if not the best fighter on the planet, and his exit could only be seen as a major loss to the promotion. Soares still remains hopeful that something could change, but is confident in at least the current deal Silva signed being fulfilled.

"What I believe is going to happen is when he gets to 35 he's going to see how he feels at that point in time. I told him, let's achieve your goal of getting to 35 and being in a position where you could retire and at that point in time you make your choices. If you feel like you've got a few more fights in you then lets go a few more fights," Soares commented.

"But I can guarantee you you're going to see Anderson Silva for at least six more fights."

UFC president Dana White addressed Silva's retirement talk with fans at UFC 89 in England on Friday as well.

"You never know what a fighter's thinking or what he wants to do," White commented. "One of the funny things is everybody's always talking about how much we pay our fighters, 'oh they don't pay your fighters enough.' Anderson Silva's the best fighter in the world, he's a young guy, and he's talking about retiring.

"You know why? Because he's (expletive) rich, that's why. If I was Anderson Silva, I'd retire too."

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Two-handled tennis racquet developed in US

By Alex Starritt

Tennis playing brothers Brian and Dann Battistone and the double-headed racquet
Brothers Dann and Brian Battistone play with the innovative creations in competition Photo: Wenn

The racquet has two handles positioned at a right-angle to the head, allowing players to play two-handed open-stance forehand shots from both sides.

Its use is being permitted but it has raised eyebrows in the traditional sport.

Two American brothers, Dann and Brian Battistone, play with the innovative creations in competition.

One of them uses a volleyball-style jump serve, switching the racket from hand to hand mid-leap.

However, the racquet brothers take an International Tennis Federation (ITF) certificate to every game they play, proving that the racket, named 'The Natural,' is match-legal.

"We knew some people would be against the racket," said Brian, 29, from Las Vegas. "There's a lot of tradition in tennis so this is quite radical."

The designer of the racket, Lionel Burt, said that it had been easy to convince the ITF to approve the racket: "Their basic position is, 'If you can beat Roger Federer with a snow shovel of that dimension, go ahead and do it."

The double-hitter has already brought the brothers success. They had previously languished in the 800s in the world rankings and Brian had left tennis in 2000 to serve a mission for his Mormon faith. They have now risen to 206th and 207th in the doubles rankings using the racket, even beating world doubles number 11 pair Lukas Dlouhy and partner Tomas Zib.

Burt says that the racket took him 18 years to develop, and was inspired by his permanent back problems caused by always playing on one side. However, it is not the first time a racket of this type has been used and there are rumours linking 'The Natural' to a racket designed by a Florida-based mechanical engineer and over-50s player called Elie Boukheir.

Around five years ago, the 'Logix' racket was also developed, a two-handled racket where the second handle was used as a counterweight. The head was tilted at a 20 degree angle to the handle, supposedly allowing the player to hit a topspin shot by moving the racket parallel to the ground.

The most famous tilted-head rackets were designed by tennis company Snauwaert in the 1980s and were endorsed by former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe, a byword for tennis controversy. The Snauwaert rackets never caught on, but Burt says that now they have the financial backing and the players to make it happen.

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Official: Beckham To Join Milan

Beckham will join the Italian side in January while the MLS season takes a break, and he will stay at Milanello until the end of the European season, possibly then making this a permanent move.

"Beckham wants to train and play with Milan," Galliani told Il Corriere Della Sera.

"We want him. He will arrive in January and we will sign him for the rest of the season.

"It's not just a shop window deal, it's a great deal. He will be available for Ancellotti for Serie A and the UEFA Cup.

"Football today is not just about tactics and technical abilities. It's about full stadiums and sponsors. No-one can beat the 65,000 fans we had on Sunday.

"The stadiums will only fill up with superstars like Beckham who has asked Milan for hospitality, not another club.

"With him, Kaka and Ronaldinho, it will be a dream team."

The English midfielder is still under contract with LA Galaxy but it seems as if Galliani has concrete ideas already in place in trying to land Beckham on a permanent deal.

Salvatore Landolina

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A second NHL team in Toronto?

DAVID SHOALTS

TORONTO — NHL governors are talking informally about placing a second hockey team in Toronto alongside the Maple Leafs, The Globe and Mail has learned.

“Why shouldn't we put another team in the best and biggest market in the world?” one of several NHL governors who spoke with The Globe anonymously said of the Greater Toronto Area.

According to this governor, one idea floated is for prospective owner Jim Balsillie to be rewarded with an expansion team in Toronto after helping to restore financial ballast to the Nashville Predators.

“I've heard this exact scenario,” a second governor said.

Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss, a former chairman of the NHL board of governors, is also aware of the Balsillie movement.

“I've heard bits and pieces of this scenario, although not in that kind of detail,” he said. “Our priority is to have the existing franchises solid.”

“[It is] an interesting scenario,” Mr. Hotchkiss added, “ but I can only speak generally.”

Richard Peddie, president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said the organization would not automatically reject the idea of a second team in Toronto.

“When and if the league brings expansion to the table, we'll listen and decide what is best [for hockey],” he said.

As to the potential impact on the Maple Leafs, the first governor dismissively waved his hand. “The Maple Leafs would not be hurt one bit. In fact, it would help them. They could make all kinds of money renting the Air Canada Centre to the other team.”

Richard Rodier, a Toronto lawyer who acts as spokesman for Mr. Balsillie on hockey matters, declined to comment. Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, did not respond to a request for comment.

Two more NHL governors said the league should put a second team in Toronto, although one of them said it should be by relocating an existing franchise rather than expanding.

“I don't think it can be an expansion team,” a governor said. “We can't expand because we would be the laughingstock of professional sports.

“We've got too many troubled franchises. We've got to look at relocating a couple of them. These franchises were troubled long before the economic downturn and next year is going to be worse on them.”

Mr. Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion Ltd., angered league executives by attempting to buy the Nashville Predators with the intent of moving the franchise to Hamilton.

The league will never allow Mr. Balsillie to put a team in Hamilton for two reasons, according to one governor. One is that the city would be a tough sell for U.S.-based teams, and the other, more significant reason, is the belief it would ruin the Buffalo Sabres.

“It's a minor-league town,” the governor said of Hamilton. “How could we sell a team from Hamilton? Do you think the New York Rangers want to put the Hamilton Steelers on their marquee at Madison Square Garden? Do you think anyone in Manhattan would buy tickets to see them?”

He also said a team in Hamilton would mean thousands of fans in the Niagara Peninsula who attend Sabres games would simply drive to Hamilton to avoid border lineups.

“We do not want to kill the Sabres,” the governor said. “But if there was a second team in Toronto, that would not hurt Buffalo.”

A comparable situation exists in Los Angeles, where the Staples Center houses three professional teams – the Kings of the NHL, plus the Lakers and Clippers of the NBA.

A third governor thinks the Buffalo Sabres might accept a second team in Southern Ontario as well if it made business sense. He said that means charging Mr. Balsillie as much as $700-million (U.S.) for an expansion franchise.

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Favre: I’m a little bit angry

Today, Brett Favre finally addressed the report that he gave strategic Packers information to the Lions. He said he took a call from Matt Millen that week, and talked casually about what the Packers did last year about the Lions, but that he didn’t breech any confidence.

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Favre said the call lasted about 15 to 25 minutes and he was only speaking to Millen, although he wasn’t sure he was on speakerphone since he was using a speaker in his own truck as he drove home. Millen started the call by saying he had land near the Jets facility that Favre could use to hunt.

(That’s what Woody Johnson said too! I guess if you have huge tracts of land and Favre’s cell phone number, that’s a great conversation starter.)

What did he say about the way the Packers played the Lions in 2007?

“We went empty formation,” Favre told Millen. “We just kept throwing completion after completion.”

images3.jpeg In fact, Favre had 20 to start that day. Whatever he said, the Lions lost to Green Bay again, 48-25, so the conversation didn’t really help Millen. And Favre said he didn’t have a Packers playbook on his lap for reference.

“It happens more than you know,” Favre said. “Don’t think for a second that, you know, when Mike McCarthy left in ‘99, went to the Saints, the next year we played them, they put it to us, that he didn’t tell his guys what they thought. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Favre said it has been made into a much bigger deal.

“I guess I’m a little bit angry because I think my reputation has been well respected throughout the years,” Favre said. “Any time that’s questioned, the type of teammate I am, it does anger me, I’m not going to lie to you.”

The story originally broke on Sunday when Fox’s Jay Glazer, who has sources in the Green Bay front office, reported it. A day later, Favre answered a text from S.I.’s Peter King saying the report was “bs.”An NFL spokesperson said that even if Favre had talked to Millen about the Packers, it didn’t violate any NFL rules.

“Believe me,” Favre said, “I’m trying my best to help this team win, the New York Jets. Spending no time trying to make the Packers lose. I got enough on my plate, believe me.”

In the audio clip here, Favre talks about the ugly breakup between himself and Green Bay, and he also talks about himself in the third person, which is always neat according to Jane McManus.

Download:

Favre also said that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo called him last week on how to handle the pinkie injury, not the other way around. He also said the Jets asked Calvin Pace about his old team before the Arizona game.

Despite the blow back, Favre said he would continue to take calls from players and coaches around the league.

There you have Favre’s side of the story. With all the sniping, name-calling and Eric Mangini’s assertion that everybody does it, I’m starting to feel like I’m back in junior high.

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What happens when a team has two players with the same name?

Lukas By Paul Lukas

When Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck decided to have his players wear their names on their road jerseys in 1960, it probably didn't occur to him that a football player named Roy Williams would one day be traded from the Detroit Lions to the Dallas Cowboys, or that Dallas would already have a player named Roy Williams on its roster, or that this would result in a blizzard of activity in the Uni Watch inbox as readers clamored to know how the Cowboys would handle this unusual state of affairs on the players' jerseys.

Uni Watch

But that's exactly what happened. And contrary to what many fans think, the NFL has no rules for this sort of situation. True, every player is required to wear his last name (well, usually), but the rules requiring same-surnamed teammates to wear first initials, and same-surnamed and -initialed players to wear their full names, were scrapped prior to the start of last season. There was never any official explanation, but Uni Watch's understanding is that the move was prompted by the Patriots' signing of Kyle Brady back in March of 2007: If a "T." had suddenly been added to Tom Brady's nameplate, fans with Brady jerseys would have been left with a choice of either wearing an inaccurate "Brady" nameplate (clearly unacceptable to most Pats fanatics) or having to drop a few hundred bucks on the new version. The NFL honchos are greedy, but they're not that greedy (or at least they don't want to be perceived that way), so they changed the rule. Tom and Kyle have both worn "Brady" with no initial, and teams now have the option to handle these situations however they like.

Which brings us back to the Cowboys and their two Roy Williamses. Speculation was rampant during the first 24 hours after the trade. Would they wear their full names with middle initials (as ESPN.com is now listing them on the Cowboys' roster page)? Would they go with "DEF Williams" and "OFF Williams" to indicate which side of the ball they play on? Or maybe "Williams OU" and "Williams UT," as a shout-out to their colleges?

No, no, and no. "They're both just going to wear 'Williams' on their jerseys," says Cowboys spokesperson Jancy Briles. "They play on opposite sides of the ball and have different uniform numbers, so that should be enough to tell them apart."

Well, that's no fun. Unfortunately, this cop-out approach appears to be standard procedure for same-named teammates. Here's a timeline of such instances, and how the players' names appeared on their jerseys:

1962: Two different pitchers named Bob Miller -- this one and this one -- play for the Mets, appearing in the same game five times. But the Mets, like almost every other MLB team, aren't yet putting player names on jerseys, so it's a non-issue from a uniform standpoint.

1973: One of the Bob Millers returns to play for the Mets. Fans have a hard time keeping track of which Bob Miller he is, and finally give up after someone points out, "Y'know, they both kinda sucked, so what's the difference?"

1976-78: Two players named Johnny Jones play for the Texas Longhorns (wearing uni numbers 25 and 26, just to make things extra-confusing). They become known as Ham Jones and Lam Jones, nicknames that refer to their Texas hometowns of Hamlin and Lampasas, but the Texas jerseys don't include player names during this period, so it's a moot point uni-wise. (A third Jones, nicknamed Jam, is added to the mix in 1978, but his first name is A.J., not Johnny.)

1990: Ken Griffey Sr. is released by the Reds and signs with the Mariners, where Ken Griffey Jr. is in the middle of his second big-league season. Father and son both end up wearing "Griffey" -- no "Jr." or "Sr."

2000: The Mets corner the market on Bobby Joneses by adding this Bobby Jones to a roster that already includes this Bobby Jones. Despite a flood of speculation (well, at least in Uni Watch's house) about both players possibly wearing their first names and middle initials, they both simply wear "Jones." (Fortunately, the Mets fail to acquire this Bobby Jones, thereby averting a space-time fissure that would have surely swallowed the entire solar system.)

2001: The Expos grant Tim Raines Sr.'s request to be traded to Baltimore for the last game of the season so he can play in front of more than 17 people alongside recent Orioles call-up Tim Raines Jr. Following the Griffeys' example, the Raineses simply wear "Raines."

2002: In a fairly amazing coincidence that threatens to warp the fabric of reality, the two Bobby Joneses end up on the same team again -- this time the Padres. Once again, they take the boring approach and both wear "Jones." Sick of all the "keeping up with the Joneses" jokes, they instruct their agents to make sure they never ever end up on the same team again.

2006: Pitcher Javier Lopez joins the Red Sox, who already have catcher Javy (short for Javier) Lopez on their roster. In a tragic managerial misstep, Boston skipper Terry Francona never has them appear in the same game, thereby wasting a golden opportunity for an all-Javier Lopez battery. Even worse, the Sox don't wear player names on their home jerseys, and both players just wear "Lopez" on the road.

Realistically, same-named teammates don't really leave a team with many options. Same-surnamed teammates, however, offer a wealth of possibilities, from the relatively tame first initial (a phenomenon explored in greater detail here) to somewhat more exotic approaches like the first two letters of the first name, roman numerals, "Jr." and "Sr." designations, and the somewhat bizarre first initial after the surname. (Hey, shouldn't there be a comma between the name and the initial?)

But the most interesting nameplate variation is the FNOB -- short for "full name on back" -- which is usually employed when teammates have the same surname and first initial, like Bracy and Brian Walker a few years back. It's not clear when this format debuted, but over the years it's appeared in the NFL, the NBA, MLB (Mr. October simply wore "Jackson"), the NHL, college football, high school football, soccer, and probably every other sport where players wear their names on their backs. Fringe presidential candidate Ron Paul even went FNOB for a Congressional baseball game back in the 1980s.

FNOBs can present a challenge for equipment managers, who have to figure out how to fit all those letters on the jersey without having them spill over the sides. The coolest solution to this problem is the stacked or double-decker FNOB, a style pioneered by Jim and Jack Youngblood in the 1970s (additional examples here and here). Other approaches include tight kerning, tiny lettering, small caps for the first name, shortening the first name, a straight first name with an arched surname, and even splitting the first and last names around the uniform number.

Can't get enough of this stuff? Here's some bonus material:

• The NFL's rules about initials and full names routinely caused havoc during training camp. With so many extra players suiting up before the final roster cuts, players who normally just wore their last name during the regular season sometimes found themselves forced to go FNOB for preseason games.

• When the Alberta Oilers (forerunners of today's Edmonton Oilers) debuted in 1972, they spent part of their inaugural season with the entire team wearing FNOB (with a round-edged nameplate and a goofy font to boot!).

• Another WHA team, the Cincinnati Stingers, took a similar approach in the 1977-78 season, when they had the entire team wear first initials (additional pics here).

Finally, here's a thorny question: What if your first name is just a pair of initials? Does that qualify as FNOB, or is it a separate category (maybe TIOB, for "two initials on back")? If you'd care to weigh in on this critical issue, or if you have any additional examples of nameplate shenanigans involving similarly monikered teammates, you know what to do.

Down on the Farm, Continued
Our ongoing list of ballparks with tomato patches -- which had previously included Shea Stadium, Fenway Park, and Memorial Stadium -- has a new addition: Tiger Stadium. A couple more ballpark tomato patches and we should be able to feed an entire famine-stricken village (or at least David Wells). Special thanks to reader Steve Migala for the tip, and to Don Sherman for tracking down the photo.

Paul Lukas has never been on a team with anyone else named Lukas. His Uni Watch blog, which is updated daily, is here. Want to learn about his Uni Watch membership program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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Vick to plead guilty to dogfighting charges

By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press Writer

In this Aug. 27, 2007 file photo, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick makes a AP – In this Aug. 27, 2007 file photo, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick makes a statement after pleading …

SURRY, Va. – Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick plans to plead guilty to state dogfighting charges, a step that could allow him to qualify for an early release from federal prison and into a halfway house, court papers show.

In a motion filed Oct. 15 in Surry County Circuit Court, Vick's attorneys asked to have him enter his plea by video teleconference. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Oct. 30, Surry County Circuit Court administrator Sally Neblett said Tuesday.

The court papers note that allowing Vick to appear on two-way video would save the government the considerable expense of transporting him from prison in Leavenworth, Kan., to Surry County. His guilty plea would also allow him to pursue a halfway house program.

Under federal rules, Vick is ineligible to be released to a Residential Re-entry Center in the federal system until any pending charges against him are resolved.

In a statement, Vick attorneys Billy Martin and Lawrence Woodward said their client "is committed to taking responsibility for his actions. He is hopeful that, through this motion, the trial court will allow him to finally resolve these matters and put the charges behind him so that he can begin to focus on his future and to prepare to be reunited with his family."

The plea deal, if approved, also would satisfy the county's need to hold him accountable for the grisly crimes he bankrolled and participated in at a rural house he owned there.

"I'm not trying to make him suffer," Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter said in a telephone interview. "I'm just trying to make him account for what he's done."

Vick pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges tied to the dogfighting operation last summer and is serving a 23-month term. Three convicted co-defendants also face local charges. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons lists Vick's projected release date as July 20, 2009.

Vick will have three years of federal probation upon his release from prison, and the deal offered by Poindexter would tack on an unspecified jail sentence, which would be suspended, and an additional year of probation in the county, he said.

Poindexter said he's not sure how quickly the judge would rule on the motion.

If permitted by a judge, Vick's video participation in the plea hearing would not be the first time he has participated electronically. Prison officials in Kansas have allowed the former Atlanta Falcons star to listen via telephone line to each of his several bankruptcy hearings in recent months.

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Skateboard Breaks

Getting a few scrapes and knocks is part of skateboarding as caffeine is part of your Coke. But when guys below are getting into some serious bone crunching, ball breaking, skin ripping stuff you gotta ask yourself. Is skating worth it?

Hell yeah.

Yuck Shocking Skateboard Accident

Worst Skateboarding Fall ever

Worst Skateboard Bail Ever

Tony Hawk bails and gets busted

The scariest skateboard fail ever. A Near Death Experience

Skater injures Balls

Skater falls off the roof

Skateboard crash at 40MPH

Skateboarding Broken Ankle pops out

Alex Cole Epic Skateboard Bail

Bam Margera Skate Accident

Skateboard Bails

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The Top 14 Best Basketball Backboard Breaking Dunks

14. Robert Traylor (current: Cleveland Cavaliers summer league in NBA) brings this one down when playing for the University of Michigan.

13. D.J. Magley (current: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in NCAA) makes a hell of a dunk when playing for Bradenton Christian. Listen to that glass shatter!

12. Darvin Ham (current: Austin Toros in NBA Development League) made this killer dunk when playing for Texas Tech.

11. Daniel Orton (current: Oklahoma City Bishop McGuinness high school) broke the backboard, but missed the shot.

10. Jerome Lane (current: retired from NBA) looked like Superman when breaking the backboard on this shot. This was done when he was playing for the University of Pittsburgh and was assisted by Sean Miller.nbsp; Notice how he knocks down another player with his family jewels.

9. Kevin Love (current: Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA) broke glass when he was at Putnam High School.nbsp; “This is something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

8. Arinze Onuaku (current: Syracuse Orangemen) makes the audience go wild with this one.

7. Michael Jordan (current: retired from NBA) shattering the backboard during an exhibition game in Trieste, Italy

6. Jason Keep (current: retired from PBA) makes it rain glass when playing for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

5. Bryant Reeves (current: retired from NBA) does a backwards dunk when playing for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

4. Nigel Dixon (current: Denver Nuggets in NBA) shatters the backboard and walks away casually. “I think it’s fair to say that we’re going to have a lengthy delay…”

3. Three high school basketball players at Hamilton High School in Memphis, Tennessee breaks the backboard in one dunk. “There will be a delay of game.”

2. Darryl Dawkins (current: retired from NBA) didn’t even have to hang on the rim to shatter the backboard when he played for the Philadephia 76ers.

1. Shaquille O’Neal (current: Phoenix Suns in NBA) brings down the house when he was playing for the Orlando Magic.


Posted by RTL Staff

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Canseco regrets naming names in his book about steroids

Jose Canseco Regrets Tell-All Book

Jose Canseco, whose book "Juiced," which focused attention on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball and led to congressional hearings on the subject, now says he never should have written the book and named names of alleged steroid users.

During the A&E Network's one-hour documentary, "Jose Canseco: The Last Shot," Canseco said he "regrets mentioning players [as steroid users]. I never realized this was going to blow up and hurt so many people."

During the program, the 44-year-old Canseco said he "wanted revenge" on Major League Baseball because he believed he had been forced out of the game. The book was his means of getting even, and he named names "to show I was telling the truth" about steroids in baseball, he said.

Canseco last played in 2001 and retired in 2002 with 462 career home runs, a .266 batting average, 1,407 RBIs and 200 stolen bases for eight major league clubs.

Among the players Canseco named in "Juiced" as alleged steroid users were Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. All three addressed the March 2005 congressional hearing on steroids, with McGwire's testimony damaging his chances of being voted into Cooperstown, and Palmeiro's unequivocal denial of steroid use haunting him when he later tested positive and was suspended.

"If I could meet with Mark McGwire and these players, I definitely would apologize to them," Canseco said, according to the New York Daily News. "They were my friends. I admired them. I respected them."

During the A&E program, according to the newspaper, Canseco also said he is scared for his health and living "check to check." He's been a hard-core user of performance-enhancing drugs for more than two decades and, he claims, only recently kicked his addiction.

At one point in the television program, Canseco is shown at an appointment with a Santa Monica physician asking to be weaned off steroids for good to restore his testosterone levels.

"My body forgot how to make testosterone," Canseco said, according to the Daily News. " ... Steroids and the use of steroids destroyed my life completely. Maybe [steroid use] will change some things chemically in me. I don't know what's going to happen."

Earlier this month, Canseco was detained at San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing after agents searched his vehicle and said they found human chorionic gonadotropin, which is illegal without a prescription. The drug is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for use in males. The drug helps restore production of testosterone lost in steroid users.

He was charged last week in San Diego federal court with a misdemeanor offense of trying to bring a fertility drug across the border from Mexico. He is charged with introduction into interstate commerce of a misbranded drug, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. He has a Nov. 4 court date.

His arrest was not shown as part of the A&E program.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported Tuesday that Canseco, still seeking steady work, has agreed to fight Danny Bonaduce in January as part of a Celebrity Boxing Federation bout. In July, Canseco was knocked out by former Philadelphia Eagles return man Vai Sikahema in Atlantic City, N.J.

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," Bonaduce said, according to the Philadelphia paper.

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