Speed Read: Is Big Ben Lying About Broken Ribs?

So, what’s the deal with Ben Roethlisberger? We all know now that he told Peter King that he played in the Super Bowl with two broken ribs, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found on the official injury report in the lead up to the game, and there hasn’t been any independent confirmation that this is true. Would Big Ben lie about broken ribs just to seem like a bigger man? ESPN.COM notes that he has “previously exaggerated or misstated injuries he supposedly suffered during his five-season career.”

Ben Roethlisberger

PRO FOOTBALL TALK seems to have the biggest problem with all of this because, if it’s true that he had bad ribs and had in fact had an x-ray prior to the Super Bowl, it should have been on the injury report because NFL rules require teams to disclose injuries (for gamblers, of course). All Ben admitted to was having an x-ray “somewhere”, and Mike Tomlin said he “hadn’t heard” anything about an x-ray. This all was probably concocted to keep the Cardinals from going right after his ribs and forcing Byron Leftwich into the game. But the point of the injury disclosure rules are to identify which players are injured. If the Steelers deliberately misled the media and the league about Roethlisberger’s injury — even if he 100% intended to play in the game — doesn’t that break league rules?

PFT’s Mike Florio has a lot to say about the matter, and here’s a summary:

The reality, however, is that the individual teams are more concerned about competitive advantage or, more importantly, disadvantage.  If, as it appears, the Steelers took pains to conceal the fact that Roethlisberger received an X-ray on his ribs and that, as Roethsliberger said, “I knew all along there was something wrong,” they did so in order to prevent the Cardinals from targeting his midsection early and often, in the hopes of knocking him out of the game.

It appears, then, that the NFL is striking the delicate balance between the integrity of the game and notions of competitive disadvantage by making the injury report an issue of availability only, not of effectiveness and/or potential for aggravation.

Thus, there’s a loophole in the injury report.  A player can be injured, and his team can avoid reporting it.

And, consequently, there’s an incentive for folks inclined to place and/or accept wagers, legal or otherwise, to attempt to develop relationships aimed at getting to the truth.

The way the Steelers are reacting to this news, it’s hard to figure out if they’re trying to avoid embarrassing their QB by not calling him a liar or if they really were covering up a possibly serious injury. It begs the question, though: if the public knew that Big Ben had fractured ribs, what would the line have been? Might it have been less than, say, four? The decision to keep it under wraps may have cost Steeler bettors a bunch of cash.

Ben Roethlisberger Lombardi Trophy

In Indiana, the Pacers stunned the Cavs 96-95 in one of the more bizarre endings you’ll see. It was so contentious that it caused Cleveland coach Mike Brown to say this afterward:

“I went back and I watched the last two plays and that last call on LeBron was the worst call I’ve ever been a part of… We didn’t play particularly well. But that was a bad call that was predetermined that determined the outcome of the game. Simple as that. They can fine me for this crap. I don’t care. That was the worst call I’ve ever been part of. I’m talking from little league on up.”

Mike Brown

The call? LeBron James was called for a phantom foul on an alley-oop pass to Danny Granger with 0.1 seconds remaining in a tie game. Granger made a free throw and the Pacers won the game. But with 0.8 remaining and the Cavs trailing by two, Granger was called for a nearly identical foul on James that enraged the Pacers and the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd. Brown implied that referee Joey Crawford deliberately called the foul on James to compensate for what he felt to be a bad call by Bernie Adams on the other end.  Here’s the video:

Antonio Margarito isn’t going to be fighting Shane Mosley again anytime soon. In fact, he isn’t going to be fighting anyone anytime soon as he’s been banned for a year by the California State Athletic Commission for using illegal hand wraps in his fight with Mosley last month.

• The final round of World Cup qualifying starts tonight, and the U.S. is attempting to resume its recent dominance of Mexico on American soil. Luckily, tonight’s game is in Ohio, so only about half the crowd should be rooting for Mexico, as opposed to the 99.7% if the game were played in California.

• Another brutal hockey attack has made its way to the internet. PUCK DADDY has this video of Oshawa Generals captain and Florida Panthers prospect James Delory slashing and attacking Nathan Moon of Kingston. Although, it should be noted that Moon gave Delory a shot first:

• Remember that Bud Light ad from the Super Bowl where a guy is thrown out of the window of a conference room because he suggests that his office give up drinking Bud Light during the work day? Well, it turns out that the creative director of the agency that created the ad actually did jump out of a window and kill himself last year, according to BNET. So maybe that wasn’t very funny after all.

Sean Avery is now one step closer to starting a sloppy second stint with the Rangers. He’s joined the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford, but still remains under contract with the Stars.

• Hey, remember how everybody ridiculed Jose Canseco for saying that he introduced A-Rod to a steroids dealer? Uh, oops. Now Jose is saying he wants to help MLB move beyond the steroids era. And, oddly, he might actually be one of the only people who can make it happen.

• Does Danica Patrick still race cars, or does she just do this for a living now?:

Danica Patrick

• Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford is sorry that he called one of his players a f***ing idiot on Saturday, says the AP.  Ford might want to consult Cowboy football coach Mike Gundy about how to deal with any lingering criticism.

• GRANEY & THE PIG (whoever they are) would like everyone to boycott Kellogg’s for dropping Michael Phelps. Yeah, I’m sure a stoner boycott of cereal will go really well.

• BASEBALL PROSPECTUS has come up with its projections for the 2009 season. Oddly, the Pirates are not projected to do well. Even more oddly, the Yankees are not picked to win the AL East.

• Thankfully, all in the cricket world is well after India battered Sri Lanka by three wickets in Colombo. The hosts posted a formidable 171/4 after Tillakaratne Dilshan put up 61 runs on just 47 balls. But the partnership of Yusuf and Irfan Pathan rescued India with 59 late runs, after the visitors had limped to 115/7 and looked to be a little on the ropes. I have no idea what I just wrote.

Do you think Ben Roethlisberger is lying about playing with broken ribs in the Super Bowl?

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Mosley’s Trainer Calls Margarito A Dirty Cheater

You might have thought that the only suspected cheater boxing Saturday night was Shane “BALCO” Mosley. But it’s looking like his opponent might have been engaging in the type of shenanigans usually found in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that the California State Athletic Commission is investigating Antonio Margarito’s hand wraps, which were removed from his hands before the fight, to see if they had been doctored to give him an unfair advantage.

Shane Mosley pounds Antonio Margarito

It turns out that Margarito needed every advantage he could get, as Mosley stopped him in the ninth round. What Margarito is being accused of is making his wraps thicker with extra padding and heavier by dipping them in plaster. In boxing, this is beyond a big no-no - it’s about the worst thing a boxer can be accused of.

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Did De La Hoya Get $5 Million To Attend Affliction?

Last weekend Oscar De La Hoya showed his face in public at a sporting event for the first time since he had it pounded in by Manny Pacquiao in December.  Of course, it wasn’t where most people would have figured Oscar would show up.  Considering that his good friend and business partner Shane Mosley was fighting Antonio Margarito for the welterweight title in Los Angeles, you would have thought Oscar would be in attendance to show his support.

Instead, De La Hoya was down the street in Anaheim attending Affliction: Day of Reckoning, where Fedor Emelianenko was knocking out Andrei Arlovski in the first round as he continued his “Knock Out All The Former UFC Heavyweight Champions Tour.”  But why was De La Hoya at the Affliction show instead of supporting his good friend Mosley?  Well, if you were to ask Larry Merchant it’s because Affliction was paying Oscar $5 million to be there.

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Speed Read: Jim Leavitt Has Totally Lost His Mind

Being a college football coach is a high-pressure business - maybe not being an air traffic controller or a heart surgeon, where if you screw up people die, but it can be pretty intense. And if your team is getting a nasty reputation for late-season collapses, it might start getting to you after awhile. Witness South Florida coach Jim Leavitt: THE WIZ OF ODDS has video of him losing his mind during a press conference:

This is exactly how my cousin Aldo used to act, right before he took to chasing after the ice cream truck with his pants off and trying to recruit local children to “help repel the Huns.” Despite the lack of blustery, screaming theatrics, I’d still like to suggest that Leavitt ask his doctor if Paxil is right for him.

If ever there was an appropriate way to recap a ridiculously high-scoring (i.e. actually fun to watch) Week 12 in the NFL, the Saints’ 51-29 thrashing of the Packers was it. New Orleans became the 12th team to score 30 or more points this week, more than during any other week this season.

Saints fan before game vs Packers

Drew Bress continued his assault on the NFL record books, throwing for 323 yards and four TDs, but the Saints’ MVP might have been Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers, who had a very Brett Favre-like performance on Monday night, except this was the bad Favre of 2005-2006. Translation: Rodgers threw three interceptions and the Packers had no chance.

And finally, a word to the wise - if you are going to shoot someone flashing a random group of tailgaters before a Cowboys game, try not to do it from directly behind them. Then again, if the flasher in question looks like a 45-year-old high school softball coach, maybe it’s for the best:

Here are some other stories you might have missed last night as you, like the rest of the US, were an emotional wreck after hearing about the Hannity and Colmes divorce:

  • Not even Tiger Woods is recession-proof: BLOOMBERG says that GM is pulling out of its endorsement deal at the end of the year, meaning that he’ll get to quit pretending that he really loves driving a Buick.
  • Tiger Woods and GM

  • Retired NHL goon Claude Lemieux is attempting a comeback, as the CANADIAN POST reports that the 43-year-old has signed a tryout contract with the San Jose Sharks. He’ll be heading to the AHL first to work on his baiting and sucker punching.
  • RIVALS.COM has a depressing look at Northwestern, the worst basketball program of the major conferences and the only which which has never been to the NCAA tournament. But at least their football team has a rich history of…ugh, never mind.
  • Your usual video of a student’s first trip to the Montana/Montana State rivalry, including drinking, push-ups…and a pretty solid catfight at about 1:05 in. (The problem with catfights in Montana in November: too much clothing to rip off.):
  • Despite this week’s performance, THE GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS would like to see all the Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers comparisons stop, thanks.
  • The Clippers/Knicks trade is in limbo because of questions about Cuttino Mobley’s heart, says David Aldridge on NBA.COM. Literally - the Knicks have concerns about a possible pre-existing heart condition.
  • Mike Shanahan tells the AP that he’s OK with players taking out idiot fans who run out onto the field during games. How does he expect his team to tackle rowdy fans if they can’t even stop the Raiders?
  • Bob Arum confirms to ESPN.COM that the fight between Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley is back on for Jan. 24 in Las Vegas, as boxing continues to respond to rumors of its demise by putting out decent fight cards.
  • Eric Thomas, who helped lead Kent State to the Elite Eight back in 2002, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for burglary and assault. The DAILY KENT STATER says that’s enough to get a banner with his accomplishments pulled off the rafters, but not enough for his number to be unretired.
  • Roger Goodell tells BROADCASTING & CABLE that despite the BCS package going to ESPN, we shouldn’t expect NFL playoff games on cable anytime soon. Also of note: the BCS considered a package that would have put all the BCS games on FX, which is just weird.

When you think “historically inept sports teams” you think about…

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Mosley Beats Mayorga But Not Public Indifference

Big-time boxing returned to Los Angeles on Saturday night, as a local hero and one of the most popular boxers of his generation in Shane Mosley took on the colorful Ricardo Mayorga. And Los Angeles boxing fans responded by staying at home in droves, with only 5,798 showing up to the Home Depot Center.

Shane Mosley KOs Ricardo Mayorga

To put that into context, that’s about three times less than the crowd who showed up to the Chivas USA soccer game at the big stadium that night. Those who did show up had some excitement in the final round, as Mosley knocked Mayorga down late and then finally out with one second left in the fight. (You can see video of the final round after the jump:)

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