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Deep Routes

LeBron James is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. Lee Jenkins writes:

And so, less than 29 months after he sat on a stage at a Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn., and incurred a nation’s wrath, LeBron James is the Sportsman of the Year. He is not the Sportsman of 2010, when he announced his decision to leave Cleveland in a misguided television special, or 2011, when he paid dearly for his lapse in judgment. He is the Sportsman of 2012. “Did I think an award like this was possible two years ago?” James says. “No, I did not. I thought I would be helping a lot of kids and raise $3 million by going on TV and saying, ‘Hey, I want to play for the Miami Heat.’ But it affected far more people than I imagined. I know it wasn’t on the level of an injury or an addiction, but it was something I had to recover from. I had to become a better person, a better player, a better father, a better friend, a better mentor and a better leader. I’ve changed, and I think people have started to understand who I really am.”

He muted his on-court celebrations. He cut the jokes in film sessions. He threw heaps of dirt over the tired notion that he froze in the clutch. “He got rid of the bulls—,” says one of his former coaches, and he quietly hoped the public would notice. When James strides into an opposing arena, he takes in the crowd, gazes up at the expressions on the faces. “I can tell the difference between 2010 and 2012,” he says. Anger has turned to appreciation, perhaps grudging, but appreciation nonetheless. James has become an entry on a bucket list, a spectacle you have to see at least once, whether you crave the violence of sports or the grace, the force or the finesse. He attracts the casual fan with his ferocious dunks and the junkie with his sublime pocket passes. He is a Hollywood blockbuster with art-house appeal.

In Sports on Earth, Mike Tanier blasts the NFL Hall of Fame voting process and evaluates candidates’ chances:

I know several members of the committee, and individually they are knowledgeable and passionate about the NFL and its history. As a group, though, the committee acts like Congress, except with no transparency and bigger egos. Veteran observers of the Hall of Fame selection process know that for players who fall below the Joe Montana level of obviousness, enshrinement rests on uneasy truces among Balkanized fiefdoms of experts fiercely loyal to certain regions, eras, or players.

Grudges linger forever, and idiosyncratic table tendencies linger longer. There are “pet project” players who never fall off the ballot. There is lobbying. There are nutty assertions and backwards attitudes. Worst of all, there is a huge backlog of worthy players, and it is only getting larger.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has been re-running old Packers articles. Here’s a great Bob McGinn profile on Brett Favre’s first training camp with the team:

Brett Favre sat in reflection as the names of some of the great quarterbacks of the National Football League – Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman and Jeff George – were cited for his consideration. Surely, he was asked, you lack the pure physical talent needed to be included with that crowd, don’t you?

“I can be,” Favre said, and when his startled interviewer looked up, Favre didn’t change his impassive expression. “I can do anything they can do. I just haven’t proven it yet.”

Meet irrepressible Brett Favre, who wants all of Wisconsin to get to know him, support him and ultimately celebrate with him after he leads the Green Bay Packers back to the Super Bowl. Sooner rather than later, mind you.

“I was sitting out there today by myself on the field and I said, ‘This is going into my second year; I’m still a backup quarterback,’ and I was surprised,” Favre said.

“I expect to be a starting quarterback. I’m looking to be a starting quarterback here soon if Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf feel I’m ready to play,” he said, referring to the Packers’ coach and general manager, respectively.

Quick Reads

- 25 things everybody thinks about hip-hop, but no one will say [Complex]

- 9 great American whiskeys not named Pappy Van Winkle [Grubstreet]

- Musicians’ last words, including Kurt Cobain, George Harrison, Bob Marley, James Brown, and Tupac [Guardian]

Food Porn

Turducken and veal brats from Paulina Meat Market + bacon cheddar, German, red pepper provolone, and apple brats from Superior Meats. These are a few of my favorite things.

Chicken tenders from Lucas Oil Stadium. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do chicken tenders and these ones are done right–seasoned and thick. There’s little worse than ordering chicken tenders at a new restaurant and having them be thin and bland but that doesn’t stop like half the bars in the world from serving them that way.


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