The NCAA basketball Player of the Year debate has been infiltrated by a man named Jodie. Jodie Meeks, that is, a junior guard from the University of Kentucky. The 6’4″ shooter erupted onto the national scene last night with a 54-point outburst against the University of Tennessee, in Tennessee, on ESPN’s Tuesday night primetime game. The 54 points broke a 39-year school record for single-game scoring held by Dan Issel (53 points). In the process, Meeks also set a school record for three-pointers in a game by knocking down 10.
You probably haven’t heard about Jodie Meeks (I hadn’t, prior to yesterday), but this isn’t the first time this year he’s had a scoring explosion like this. In Kentucky’s first game of the season, a 111-103 loss to the unheralded Virginia Military Institute, Meeks poured in 39 points on 13-27 shooting (Kobe numbers). Four games later, a 74-72 victory over Kansas State, he contributed 37 on a much more respectable 11-17 shooting. On December 20th, in a matchup with Appalachian State, Meeks totaled his previous season-high of 46 points on 14-21 shooting, including nine treys.
For the record, Meeks has recorded double-figures scoring in every game this season. His season-low is 10 points. In the Wildcats 17 games thus far, Meeks has scored more than 15 points in all but two contests. He’s currently averaging 25.9 points per game, after averages of 8.7 PPG and 8.8 PPG in each of his first two seasons.
All of this has combined to put Meeks in the national eye and in the thick of the college Player of the Year race. Along with bigger names like North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, and Arizona State’s James Harden (among many others), Meeks has to be considered as one of the nation’s best. For this week, at least, he’s managed to push the big guys aside and turn “Jodie Meeks” into a household name. Get to know him.
Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree made a bold decision yesterday, opting to declare himself eligible for this year’s NFL Draft knowing full well that the Detroit Lions have the first overall selection. Uh oh. Crabtree, one of the Draft’s biggest names, is a surefire Top 10 selection and will probably garner the interest of the Lions, whether he (and Detroit fans, for that matter) likes it or not.
- 2007: Calvin Johnson, WR, #2 overall pick
- 2005: Mike Williams, WR, #10 overall pick
- 2004: Roy Williams, WR, #7 overall pick
- 2003: Charles Rogers, WR, #2 overall pick
Of that quartet, only Johnson is still with the team, and he’ll remain in a Lions uniform (barring trade or release) until 2013 thanks to his six-year, $64-million rookie contract. Roy Williams was traded during the ’08 season to Dallas, and Mike Williams and Charles Rogers are currently out of the NFL.
So what’s to stop Detroit from picking Crabtree? Well, nothing really, save for the fact that the NFL’s worst franchise is currently under new management. Embattled general manager Matt Millen was canned midseason, and without his iron grip on the team’s personnel decisions, the Lions may actually stand a chance at having a good draft this year (meaning no Crabtree, if you’re scoring along with us at home). Somewhere, you can picture poor Millen being held back by two bouncers in a bar, sobbing uncontrollably as he learns of Crabtree’s decision to turn pro. We know you want it, Millen, but it’s time to move on.
Marvin Harrison will kill you. He will f—ing kill you, and that’s no joke. He is Denzel in “American Gangster,” Pacino in “Scarface,” Pesci in “Goodfellas,” Wayne Brady in “Chappelle’s Show.” He might lead a respectable life during the day, but once darkness falls, you better get your ass away from Marvin Harrison or he will kill you.
Marvin Harrison with malice in his eyes.
Ever since last Spring, when a story surfaced alleging the Colts wideout had pulled the trigger on patrons of his car wash in Philly, I’ve had a hunch that Harrison is a closet murderer. Think about it: if Harrison applied the same work ethic he utilizes in football to anything else in his life, just think how good he’d be at it. Killing is no exception. Based on what I’ve seen from Harrison on the gridiron, he’s probably a Hall of Famer killer, too.
The reason I bring this up now is because Marvin Harrison’s Gungate is once again big news. After months of stagnation, a second witness to the melee emerged yesterday and reported seeing Harrison fire the gun he had been accused of shooting back in April. The witness’ story matched details provided by the first witness, who had come forward when news of the shooting initially broke.
Harrison plotting revenge against the cornerback that just jammed him at the line.
So what does this mean? It means defensive backs and safeties better watch out, for one, because a cheap shot to the aging Harrison’s increasingly fragile body may mean death in the long run, and it’s probably not worth it. Same goes for anyone who simply has beef with the receiver. Chances are, he’s forming a hit list as we speak.
I’m not going to mince words or fabricate the truth: I am legitimately afraid of Marvin Harrison. He has all the tools to be a first-class gangster/murderer. He’s intelligent, a hard worker, quiet, keeps to himself, has an offseason of down time with which to fill, owns his own businesses to launder money, and possesses at least one deadly weapon. Don’t be fooled. Marvin Harrison may seem like a nice guy, but if you’re not careful, he’ll get you, and he’ll kill you.
*Side note: I have a suggestion for next year’s Madden. Let’s have a cheat code where, upon scoring a touchdown, Harrison reaches under the goalpost, pulls out an AK, and takes out the opposing team’s mascot. We’ll need some dialogue from Madden at this point, of course:
John Madden: Holy crapola! Did you see that, Al? I think the mascot from the other team just fainted. I’ll tell you what, I saw that guy in the locker room standing there naked the other day, and he’s as big as a horse!
Al Michaels: No, no, John. I don’t think he fainted at all. I think Marvin Harrison just shot him! Marvin Harrison has just shot the (fill in team’s name) mascot! With what looks to be an assault rifle that he pulled from beneath the goalpost! I can’t believe what I just saw!
Madden: I dunno, Al….I don’t see Brett Favre anywhere.
Michaels: John, no one is talking about Brett Favre right now! Favre isn’t even playing in this year’s edition of the game! Don’t you realize what is happening?! Harrison scored a touchdown for the (fill in whatever team’s name he’s on now) making the score (fill in the blank with score, probably something like 84-3 if you’re a real man), just shot the (fill in team’s name) mascot, and has now turned the gun on the defensive secondary!
Madden: Well you don’t have to yell, Al. I’ll tell you what, uh…well let me just, uh…you know what, Al? Let me tell you something here. Last night I spoke with Favre–
Michaels: Dammit, John! You’re way too old to be doing this anymore! I don’t know how Pat Summerall put up with your crap for all those years! We are witness to what appears to be a quadruple homicide at this point and you have no idea what’s going on! What the hell is wrong with you?! I’m leaving for 2KSports, peace!
Madden: Where’s Al? What’s going on here? Who are you? Where’s Favre?
Joe Buck (stepping into the booth for Al): Hello America, it’s me! That’s right, it’s Joe Buck, your favorite broadcas–holy sh-t! What’s going on here? Is that Harrison with a gun?!
Madden: Buck? You Jack Buck’s son? Let me tell you something ’bout your dad….
Point of Contention is a new segment where we will weigh in on controversial topics in today’s sports world. As always, we encourage you, our readers, to provide your opinions as well.
I don’t have a say in which ex-players are elected to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame, but if I did, I would vote Mark McGwire in every single chance I got. Blasphemy, I know. I don’t even really like McGwire, nor am I a fan of any of the teams he played on, but the fact that the media has so blatantly warped our perception on one of the greatest first basemen to ever play the game is a tragedy and speaks to society’s tendency to believe anything they hear on the radio, read in newspapers, or see on TV. Why elect a man who so many have turned against, you ask? Simple: besides giving a wishy-washy testimony about steroids in front of a judge, McGwire never did anything that was explicitly wrong during his playing career. And because of that reason alone, it’s unfair of the people given the task of turning mortal men into immortal legends to stick their noses in the air at one of the game’s greats, simply because it’s the popular choice.
Allow me to elaborate, if you will. In my mind, I’d say there’s about a 99% chance that Mark McGwire used steroids in some form or fashion during his playing career. That said, he never tested positive for steroid use, nor was convicted of using any form of steroids after his playing career was over. But one look at the physical transformation he made from beanpole to goliath during a short period around the late-1980’s to early-1990’s would insinuate that something beyond nature was taking its toll on the Oakland first baseman. The fact that McGwire has opted not to discuss steroid usage over the years doesn’t help his case either, nor does his admitted use of androstenedione (andro), a steroid-like substance that is now banned by most sports leagues, including Major League Baseball (though it wasn’t banned when McGwire was using it). Even under the strictest interpretation of the law, McGwire is guilty of nothing more than possession of a weak moral code, perhaps, for not standing up and admitting any wrongdoing. Beyond that, the man is innocent and should be viewed as such by our holier than thou society.
Secondly, take a look at the players who preceded McGwire in the game of baseball. In books and articles chronicling the game as far back as the 1950’s, former players have openly admitted to using substances which would now be considered steroids. Many of those players are in the Hall of Fame (Mickey Mantle, a known abuser of “greenies”–aka today’s ‘roids–may be the most notable). Many more Hall of Famers, I’m sure, have used steroids and simply not owned up to it. We can overlook the faults of these ex-greats because they played in an era in which media was limited to primetime television news and daily newspapers. Now, however, in an age where information is up-to-the-second and everyone (myself included) has an opinion on everything, we see a man like McGwire, who twenty years earlier would be a lock for the Hall, being scrutinized and torn down by individuals who want only to destroy his reputation and nothing more. He can’t provide them answers, so he becomes the enemy.
Amidst the constituency of the modern era, amongst his peers, McGwire was simply one of the guys when it came to using steroids (that is, if he used steroids…there’s always that doubt). So many players used steroids, that for us to assume the role of judge and jury and accuse these individuals of wrongdoing years after the fact is just wrong. We’re doing nothing more than forming opinions on people who, in reality, we know nothing about.
The way I see it is, if players were a) allowed by the league to use steroids (which they were) b) encouraged to enhance their game by using steroids or any other means necessary (which they were) and c) provided with game-enhancing substances like steroids in order to achieve b), then why the hell not do it? When a female actress gets plastic surgery to prolong her acting career, the gavel does not come hammering down on her. When a golfer gets laser-eye surgery to cure his failing eyesight, we do not call him a cheater for seeking out a competitive advantage over his foes. When football players in our very NFL are convicted of steroid usage and sentenced to a four-game suspension for doing so, we simply turn a blind eye to their transgressions (ahem, Shawne Merriman). But when a baseball player, holiest of the holy, is even suspected of committing the same crime that guys like the Chargers Merriman have been convicted of, we can’t handle it. We break down, we start throwing accusatory haymakers, we tear apart whoever we can get our hands on. It’s a product of the media, it’s a product of our hypocritical society, and unfortunately for guys like Mark McGwire, it’s what will ultimately keep him, and others like him, from being immortalized the way they properly should. It’s a travesty, and it needs to be stopped.
Okay, so here’s the deal. Yesterday, I did a rundown of three sports reporters who need to be silenced, guys who are below average at their jobs and make every fan out there question how easy it is to break into the business of journalism. Regrettably, I erred in creating that list, committed a gaffe, if you will. My faux pas was so egregious that I had to go back to that one episode of Family Guy where Peter calls a professor to get the definition of “faux pas,” and reference exactly how to use the term in its correct manner. I also had to Google “egregious” to make sure it made sense in the previous sentence. The egregious faux pas-gaffe I committed was in omitting ESPN’s Skip Bayless from that very list, a tragedy if there ever was one. So to atone for my mistake, I bring you this column, a featured look at the man who personifies the frowny face, who can make even the brightest day cloudy, who makes you question your love of sport every time he speaks. Without further ado, ladies and gentleman, I give you Skip Bayless.
I have a dream. In that dream, I am sitting across the table from Skip Bayless on the set of ESPN’s “First and 10.” I am providing a plethora of insightful knowledge on some meaningless topic that pertains to the day’s news. As soon as I finish my point, an unseen audience begins cheering wildly, a dove flies by, a Palestinian hugs an Israeli, all is well with the world for that brief moment in time. Then Skip Bayless speaks. As if by some divine force powered by the sound of Bayless’ voice, the crowd groans in unison, the flying dove is shot down by Elmer Fudd sporting an AK-47, the Palestinian and Israeli begin fighting again, and the world stops spinning as productivity reaches an all-time low. But this is no nightmare. Before Bayless can tell me about how great Tim Tebow is, or how overrated Lebron James is, or dare I say how much he hates black people (because let’s face it, he does), I reach across the table, grab him by his buttoned-up shirt collar and cold-cock him across the grill, knocking out all but one of his teeth in the process. As soon as my punch lands, a message flashes across the vision plane: “Finish Him.” Except all of a sudden, my legs cannot move and I am frozen in place. Desperately seeking answers, I am saved when Ryu from Street Fighter walks on stage, places a hand on my shoulder and says, “Don’t worry, brother. I’ve got this.” With a groggy Bayless stirring from the knock-out punch, Ryu walks over to him, yells “Haroken!,” shoots an electric blue flame of disaster right at his target and connects, sending Skip flying backwards in slow motion where he lands on the other side of the stage. It’s a great dream.
Skip Bayless is what Spencer is to The Hills, or Voldemort to Harry Potter. He’s pure evil packaged in a tightly-wound Poindexter frame. Each time I see Bayless, I see a kid on the playground being ostracized by his peers; if nothing else, it explains the bitterness which he carries with him like a loaded briefcase. Bayless hates everyone, and has been given a half-hour show in the form of “First and 10” to vent his hatred. The show’s premise is simple: a moderator presents topics for Bayless and his counterpart to debate. About 90% of the time, Bayless’ opponent is a black man, leading many to believe that Bayless must hate blacks. For one half-hour, Bayless uses these topics to undress his opponents, tearing them down on a personal level, insulting their mothers, criticizing their appearances, and generally just being a big, flaming a-hole. Even if you take the time to listen to Bayless’ analysis, the words rarely make sense and only serve to legitimize the show as an actual debate about sports. For example, earlier this week Bayless had rapper Lil’ Wayne in the seat opposite him (after all members of the media rejected offers to be on the show, ESPN turned to musical artists for help). Wayne out-debated Bayless simply by not doing anything out of the ordinary. The rapper sat there and spoke when spoken to, making safe predictions about the week ahead, and letting Skip embarrass himself from start to finish. Bayless, for his part, picked the Chargers to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, among other things.
I hate Skip Bayless. He’s an insult to his profession, and moreover an insult to humanity. He takes life and puts a negative spin on it. He takes a smile, flips it on its ass, and turns it into a frown. Skip Bayless shouldn’t be allowed on air and definitely shouldn’t be allowed into the wonderful world of sports. Bayless is the bug in your cereal, the stain on your t-shirt, the bad apple that invaded Utopia. We all dream of a perfect reality, but until Skip Bayless is no more, we will always just be chasing a dream.
Oh and in case you were wondering, Tim Tebow is staying in school, opting to return to Florida for his senior season rather than take an early stab at pursuing a backup quarterback job in the NFL. The guy who most experts (and I use that term loosely) have deemed a “bad pro” for his inability to showcase a prototypical skill set for an NFL quarterback, Tebow was projected by many to be a third- or fourth-round pick in the ’09 Draft. That, combined with the fact that he has the opportunity to become a two-time Heisman Trophy winner and three-time National Champion, probably helped nudge Florida’s superman back into his orange-and-blue cape for one more season.
Not that anyone cares or anything. Tebow would have obviously been hard-pressed to justify bolting for a professional career, but that didn’t stop him from making a show of his announcement to come back. Amidst the hubbub of UF’s championship ceremony, Tebow backtracked after finishing a speech on stage, grabbed the microphone, and announced he was “coming back.” Fans cheered, girls squealed, Erin Andrews renewed her contract for one more year, it was great. Good luck with that Tebow. Maybe in your senior season, you can get some reps in at running back or possibly tight end, both positions that guys like Mel Kiper, Jr. (about as reliable as Wikipedia) say you’ll end up at in the pros. Until then, the fourth round of the draft will be waiting for you in 2010.