Speed Read: Clarett Stops Early Release Request

Since the NFL — indeed, the world — is not yet ready for Michael Vick and Maurice Clarett trying to catch on with a team at the same time, the latter is going to stay in prison. For now. Clarett, the former Ohio State running back who led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2003, has withdrawn a request for early release from prison that would have allowed him, he said, to pursue an NFL career.

Maurice Clarett

For someone who hasn’t played a meaningful down of football since his freshman year in college, Clarett has spent an alarming amount of time in the public consciousness. He’s hung out with Los Angeles rap stars, been drafted in the NFL, been involved with drug running and the Israeli mob, and was even the subject of a case ultimately decided by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor. Even though he’s only 25, he’s seemingly been everywhere and lived two lifetimes — sort of an evil Forrest Gump.

Although he’s now locked up, we have not forgotten about Maurice Clarett. One reason is that he’s blogging from lockup — or at least we’re led to believe that he is. Clarett isn’t allowed Internet access in prison, but he phones in his writings to a relative, who then posts them on a blog entitled The Mind of Maurice Clarett; a sort of orange jumpsuit poetry jam in which he dwells on his feelings more than the day-to-day details of life behind bars (which has led some to believe that he’s not even the one writing it). There’s no entry so far on his decision to withdraw his request for a pardon by Gov. Ted Strickland.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien opposed Clarett’s request for pardon, saying his conduct off the playing field did not warrant special consideration.

“My observation was then and is now he had no chance of obtaining clemency under the statute or by action of the governor so it’s probably wise” that he withdrew the request, O’Brien said.

Clarett hasn’t played football since 2005, when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round — a surprise move after an unimpressive NFL combine performance in which he was dubbed “Slo Mo” by the media.

Maurice Clarett game simulation

He’s serving 7 1/2 years at the Toledo Correctional Institution after being convicted in 2006 of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, a chain of events that ended with his arrest while wearing a bulletproof vest with four weapons in his car, less than a mile from one of the robbery victims. He must serve at least 3½ years of that sentence, and although he pulled his request for early release, he still becomes eligible for judicial release in March of 2010.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Clarett was on top of the world, rushing for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns in helping lead Ohio State to a 14-0 record in 2002-03. The season culminated with Clarett scoring the winning touchdown against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. But he was released from Ohio State for a variety of NCAA rules violations, then migrated to Los Angeles, where he hung out with rap stars, and began spiraling more and more out of control. He eventually tested the NFL’s eligibility rules in an attempt to enter the 2004 draft — an initially successful challenge that was overturned by United States Court of Appeals judge Sotomayor.

So Clarett has lost his latest battle to return to the free world, but has never lost his struggle to remain in the public eye. And I suppose that it’s good that we hear from him from time to time. If for nothing else, his presence serves as a cautionary tale.

“I’m a man and I struggle. I’m not speaking of anything specific. I’m just talking in general,” he wrote in his latest blog entry, dated Aug. 3.

“Depression comes and depression goes. Inspiring thoughts come and they flee as fast as they come. Sometimes my spirit is in balance and at others it runs wild. I’m not afraid. I just get a little confused at times. I know which way is up and I know how to identify a weasel from a mile away. I know who I love and I know why I love them. I don’t claim to be omniscient but I do claim to be a survivor of the urban circumstances and experiences. … I’m Youngstown’s own.”

Tiger Woods

We now lighten the mood and bring you back to the 18th hole at the Buick Open, where MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reopens the Tiger Woods Fartgate investigation. If you haven’t seen, and thus heard, the infamous video of Woods allegedly farting while sizing up a shot during the tournament, you’re in luck, because Olbermann has rescued the footage from the abyss.

You can see/hear it here.

More interesting than the alleged emission itself — which now that I hear it sounds more like a Whoopee Cushion — is the fact that the PGA pulled all YouTube evidence of the video off the web moments after it happened. Folks, that’s the really hilarious part. Don’t make me come back here and explain this again.

Olbermann:

“Tiger broke 70 yesterday, perhaps after breaking something else. We can’t say for sure that it was The Tiger that roared … he might have had one of those Leslie Nielsen machines, or maybe John Daly stepped on a duck.”

If there was a second farter on the grassy knoll, kudos to him. Because that was some excellent timing.

Maxim's David Ortiz email account

We mentioned this briefly on Tuesday, but I feel that MAXIM’S take on David Ortiz’s Gmail inbox needs further scrutiny. It appeared Monday on their site and immediately won the Internets, delighting us with sample emails such as:

Erin Adrews: I know an ace PR guy

Crate and Barrel: Fall is right around the corner! …

Alyssa Milano: Offer still stands — Bj, Hj, whatever you …

And the always hilarious:

C.C. Sabathia: FW: Red Lobster All-You-Can-Eat sampi!

And speaking of that fine magazine, let’s dive into this morning’s links, as we ponder why a 12-year-old boy would tell his mother that his subscription to ELECTRONIC GAMING had been somehow switched to MAXIM.

  • The Reading Phillies set an attendance record on Wednesday for Pedro Martinez’s rehab start, in which he pitched decently, earning the win in an 8-4 victory over Trenton. Martinez struck out 10 of the first 17 batters he faced, finishing with 11 strikeouts over six innings. He gave up four runs, three earned. Fun fact: It was his first win at the AA level since 1991.
  • So you’ve taken the summer off to visit every Major League Baseball park? That’s become somewhat of a cliche, don’t you think? The Taviano family of Columbus, Ohio has invented the new hotness: Visiting 52 zoos in 52 weeks. Marla Taviano, her husband and three daughters began their 22,000-mile quest last August, and ended it on Saturday at their hometown Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. That’s a lot of monkeys.

  • Not sure what level of Little League the above video is from, but you can bet that Scott Boras has it playing on an endless loop in his office as you read this. As you can see, Jason Moody hits five home runs, including hitting for the home run cycle (watch the catcher, who is not amused). And in yet another example of this, a West Virginia Little Leaguer also hit for the home run cycle. Eli Canterbury, 12, of Barboursville, went 4-for-4 with four homers — solo, two-run and  three-run homers, and a grand slam in his final at-bat — as Canterbury’s Barboursville District I All-Stars beat East Huntington 19-1. No Major League player has ever hit for the homer cycle; the only time it’s happened in pro ball was by Tyrone Horne of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in a 13-4 win over the San Antonio Missions on July 27, 1998.
  • The Denver Broncos are one of the several NFL teams who prohibit players or personnel from using Twitter, but you’d never know it by listening to head coach Josh McDaniels. “I don’t really have a Twitter policy,” McDaniels said. “I don’t know what it means; I don’t know what it is. I don’t know MyFace, Spacebook, Facebook stuff. I don’t know what that is either.”
  • Now let’s check in on your Chicago Cubs, who are locked in a death struggle with the Cardinals atop the NL Central. So surely when the Reds trotted out 32-year-old right-hander Justin Lehr on Wednesday — who was making only his second big league start — the Cubs would take advantage. D’oh! Lehr pitched a shutout, 4-0, as the Reds broke an eight-game losing streak.
  • Koren Robinson has had a troubled career; run off the tracks due to dropped passes, drinking and a run-in with the cops. The former Seahawk, Viking and Packer may be playing for the Orlando Tuskers of the UFL this season. Robinson was the ninth pick overall in the 2001 draft, the year that the Falcons chose a young man named Michael Vick with the No. 1 pick.
  • Brandon Roy’s five-year contract extension will likely keep him in Portland for the rest of his career, and since he was born in Seattle, that’s OK. Roy has agreed in principle to the deal, with the fifth year, ending in 2015, as an option. Pending salary cap issues, it could be worth more than $80 million, the second-richest in Portland’s history.
  • Who would have thought four years ago that Eli Manning would be making more money than Peyton Manning? Or Cooper Manning, for that matter? With his new $97.5 million contract, Eli will be making about $15.3 million annually, to Peyton’s $14.17 million.

Should Eli Manning be the highest-paid player in the NFL?

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Speed Read: Like You Are Working Today Anyway

O Glorious Day! The zenith of nascent spring has arrived! Today, you can call in sick to work (tell them you need to prep for your World Series-winning colonoscopy), crack open a beer before 9:30 am on the West Coast, and stare intently at teenagers in short pants for four straight days without so much as a cocked eyebrow from your loved ones.

Final Four Memphis Tigers fans

(2008 Final Four coverage from SPORTSbyBROOKS)

(Hint: timing’s everything on this one. One weekend in the wrong direction and you’re stuck programming your GPS to stay 200 yards from schools for the next five years.)

Here’s what you need to thrive today:

Television schedule
Watch online
Watch on your iPhone
Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

Final Four Tickets

(2007 teaser from SPORTSbyBROOKS coverage)

Here’s your morning NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament storylines:

Since you now have a few hours to kill, here’s the hail of bullet points to distract you while considering why you’re getting sex advice from China’s last eunuch (and how they tested for this):

Francisco Rodriguez of Venezuela

Manny Ramirez

Which #1 seed falls first?

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Danica Puts Pedal To The Metal, Gets Pulled Over

• Whether racing ’round the track or cruising your neighborhood streets, Danica Patrick is not a girl that likes to take things slow.

Danica Patrick Bikini

(She’s so fast, the clothes zip right off her!)

• In a blow to male fantasies everywhere, the courts have ruled that cheerleading is not a contact sport.

Ed Hochuli strikes again - this time costing a Packers RB $1.35 million.

• As an NU fan, I personally do not want to remember the Alamo Bowl.

Read more…

Broncos And Chargers To Play For “Division Title”

After San Diego rolled the Bucs today, the Broncos needed to beat the Bills at home to avoid a winner-take-all AFC Worst matchup next week at Qualcomm. But they couldn’t even pull that off. The Bills overcame an injury to Marshawn Lynch and the fact that Dick Jauron is their coach and still beat Denver 30-23. I know one guy who’s going to sleep much easier tonight:

Ed Hochuli

You’re off the hook, Ed.

If San Diego wins next week, they will make the playoffs at 8-8, while the Patriots could still go 11-5 and be left out if the Dolphins also win.

Meanwhile, Eagles fans are not having a very good evening right now. Video of that crazy ending after the jump.

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NFL Referees Doing Pretty Darn Good, Stats Say

For all the grumbling about football officiating this season, has anyone bothered to actually check out accurate the refs have been? The NFL has, and the refs have been really, really good.

Ed Hochuli

According to the league’s grading, 97.64 percent of all plays have been correctly officiated. Since about 150 plays are run in the average game, that’s about 4 missed calls per game. If you want to compare it to all the times you leaped off the coach to protest a clearly biased call against your favorite team, only to see on the replay that they got the call right, then the refs are doing a pretty damn good job.
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South Carolina Should Heed Zebra Crossing Signs

It hasn’t been a pretty conference schedule for South Carolina. As if facing defending champs LSU wasn’t enough Saturday, they had to deal with some extra shenanigans. In a crucial red zone possession late in the first half, the Gamecocks had to line up against 12 defenders. Why didn’t the ref throw a flag? Because the ref was the 12th man.

[UPDATE: We have an ID on the ref. It’s Wilbur Hackett, Jr., and he was a linebacker at Kentucky.]

Ed Hochuli

(”Referee mad…referee smash!”)

USC QB Stephen Garcia might have had an easy path to the end zone, if not for one zebra who got a little too caught up in the bloodlust that is American Football. (You might’ve seen this already. But have you seen it in Super-Slo-Mo-What-The-Heck-Is-He-Thinking-O-Vision?)

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Speed Read: Well, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

Brushing up on the SAT, or just looking to get your GED? Then let’s help you with some standardized testing.

“Billy watched four NFL games won in the final minute of regulation. Which one did he like the best?”

a) Ryan Longwell’s 26-yard field goal to help the Vikings beat the Lions 12-10
b) Jason Elam’s last-second kick to give the Falcons a 22-20 win over the Bears
c) Josh Brown flexing with pride after kicking the Rams to a 19-17 victory against Washington
d) Matt Schaub lifting the Texans to a 29-28 win over the Dolphins on a last minute scramble

NFL exciting finish quiz

Of course it’s “D.” (Even though on most Scantron tests it’s more than likely “C.”) The discussion of kickers overusing their worth has been a curious one from time to time, with Skip Bayless perhaps being most famous for being their No. 1 enemy (“Eliminate place kicking altogether.”), which might be why nobody’s ready to warm up to that idea. But suppose if field goals were outlawed in the final two minutes and overtime, then we’d have Gus Frerotte, Matt Ryan and Mark Bulger try to win it with their arms … or legs.

Arizona Cardinals block Cowboys

The counterargument, though, is that if you couldn’t kick field goals after the two-minute warning. We wouldn’t have had this game, where the Cardinals’ Sean Morey practically blocked the Cowboys’ overtime punt with his clavicle to ensure a 30-24 win over the Dallasites. To get to OT, Nick Folk had to blast a 52-yard three-point shot to tie the game, which — again — almost didn’t happen, because the first attempt was blocked but re-kicked after AZ head man Ken Whisenhunt whistled for a timeout. Hey, that’s another good idea. No defensive timeouts in the final two minutes. Who’s with me?

NLCS - Kuroda vs. Manny

It sure was nice of Major League Baseball to lift the ban on talking about the NLCS without talking about Manny Ramirez, if only for one game. The highlight of the Dodgers’ 7-2 rout of the Phillies — besides maybe that five-run first inning that essentially kept the Dodecahedrons in the series — was a series if high-and-in pitches that came to a head when Hiroki Kuroda, smack dab in the middle of owning the Philbins, tossed one where Shane Victorino’s head was located split-seconds earlier. Bedlam! Scuffle! Hootenanny! Benches cleared, and Victorino kept the bad blood feud through press quotes that will surely trickle into Game 4, right? Right?!

“I think it’s over.”

Yeah! Take their heads off! Kick their … huh? It’s over? Pssttthththth. Guess we’re back to talking just about the baseball games themselves and how the Dodgers have halved their NLCS deficit and got their bats going, their pitchers locating, and their fans into the series. Just two things. If this game is decided by a field goal, there will be hell to pay. Same if the Dodgers win the series and play the Red Sox in the World Series.

It’s also a new NFL rule that Ed Hochuli is scrutinized after every week of the NFL playoffs:

Joey Porter and Ed Hochuli

  • Now Hocks is getting called out by players. The PALM BEACH POST says the enigmatic Joey Porter isn’t happy at all with Hochuli and his officiating crew after his hit on the aforementioned Matt Schaub, causing him to drop the ball, was ruled an incomplete pass and not a fumble. “It’s the same referees’ staff. Something always happens out there.” For once, Porter is right.
  • Also fuming at the refs is the Lions’ Leigh Bodden for a pass interference call against the Minnesota Vikings that led to their winning field goal. DETROIT FREE PRESS says Bodden wants an apology from the NFL. Hey, good luck with that.
  • Staying with winless teams in the Rust Belt, don’t count on the Bengals getting their first win anytime soon. The CINCINNATI POST has their OC channeling Napoleon Dynamite on his own team: “We’re pretty much inept.”
  • A blogger at OPEN SPORTS says the NHL might be going overboard with ads, perhaps even too political? I’m Matt Sussman, and I something something.
  • 12-year-old Tampa Bay Rays fan Zachary Sharples is so hardcore, he was suspended from school for his Rayhawk hairdo, and was rewarded with meeting the team.
  • Racist slurs in soccer? Sure, maybe in Europe, but in our quaint little country? The WASHINGTON POST reports D.C. United goalie Louis Crayton had a confrontation with a Houston Dynamo fan after their 0-0 draw. The fan in question called the black goalkeeper a monkey who should go back to the jungle. Crayton jumped a barrier to confront the fan, and as a result the fan was given the MLS banhammer.
  • PUCK DADDY shares CBC’s newest theme song for Hockey Night in Canada, affectionately titled “Canadian Gold.”
  • When KISSING SUZY KOLBER takes screenshots of Bill Belichick’s face during a beatdown of a game, everyone wins.
  • Tim Stephens of the ORLANDO SENTINEL eyes Penn State and Alabama as the teams with the best chances to run the table. Clearly he’s short-changing the MAC daddies, Ball State.
  • And finally, here’s a guy I keep forgetting to read every week and instead tune into maybe every other month, but here’s Norman Chad praising old, old coaches Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden because, hey, why not?

After this weekend, what new sports rule needs to be put into place?

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Speed Read: Manny vs. Sox In WS? Don't Fight It

Okay, sure. There’s a Tampa Bay and Philadelphia in the way of this World Series matchup. But it’s a sports reporter’s dream, and the closer we come to living it, the more we have to grin and bear the cold reality that Manny Ramirez will probably return to Fenway Park, not in some dumpy Interleague series, but in the World freaking Series. The sooner you come to accept it, the less painful it will be to watch the myriad of sports columns be churned out surrounding Manny v. Boston, a Supreme Court case which will set dangerous precedent on how much one perplexing superstar can overshadow a baseball team. (Especially one with Nomar Garciaparra.)

Manny Ramirez (and Dodgers) vs. Red Sox?

The Los Angeles Dodgers got to sit on their laurels and watch the Boston Red Sox clinch their side of the ALDS with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, thanks to midseason call-up Jed Lowrie driving in midseason pick-up Jason Bay in the ninth inning on a seeing-eye ground ball. It could have been the play of the game. Or maybe Bay’s double two batters earlier was the play of the game. Or maybe…

Mike Scioscia arguing

…it was Jason Varitek tagging out Reggie Willits, then dropping the ball. Here’s what happened. Willits pinch ran for Kendry Morales, who smashed a leadoff double in the ninth. Willits then advanced to third as the potential go-ahead run. But Erick Aybar’s missed bunt resulted in Cpt. Varitek chasing down Willits, tagging him off the base, falling to his knees, falling to his side, and having the ball dislodged from that big glove of his. Poor Mike Scioscia. All the arguing in the world won’t solidify that guarantee.

Hmm. How can we smoothly transition from controversial calls in late games to this man?

Ed Hochuli

It is guaranteed, unfortunately, that a certain referee and accentuator of abs and cloits will be scrutinized week-to-week. NFL whistleblower Ed Hochuli was at it again on Monday Night Football’s Vikings-Saints showdown. THE CRITICAL FANATIC notes that Hocks didn’t flag down a face mask penalty inflicted on Reggie Bush — a mask grab that resulted in a fumble and change of possession.

It’s really gotten to the point at which Hochuli & Co. will have all their calls sifted through with a very thin and thorough comb, while high school football referees run wild and free. By contrast, the nation probably hasn’t met Bill Carollo the way they’ve met Hochuli, but Carollo was the center of a controversial call, the BALTIMORE SUN reports, on the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs that partly led to the Titans’ 13-10 win over the Ravens. Carollo’s not getting much heat, but namely because he didn’t whistle dead Jay Cutler non-fumble fumble. (Even though Carollo’s call, like Hochuli’s, did help an unlikely undefeated team stay undefeated.)

So here’s another sentiment you can throw onto the pile to ensure that Hochuli is fairly and critically graded exactly like the rest of his peers. Meaning: they should ALL get beer bottles thrown at them.*

Hopefully Hochuli doesn’t get downgraded all the way down to officiating games in the Lingerie Football League. Actually, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Lingerie Football League (LFL) tryouts

  • 1190 KEX reports on the LFL tryouts: things seem to be going … um … good?
  • And now for an excitable report on the Washington Redskins from YOUTUBE and owner Daniel Snyder: WE BEAT PHILLY! WE BEAT DALLAS!” They sure did, Mr. Snyder. They sure did.
  • BASKETBAWFUL isn’t just about the Web. Oh no. They also scour the print edition of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES and found WNBA agate placed near massage parlors and strip clubs.
  • Colombian soap opera star Elisa Sanchez was shot down by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, because she thought he was gay. Know what this means? You have a better chance at her than he does.
  • Know what we haven’t had in a while? Lyrical poetry on Lawrence Phillips’s recent sentencing. Ah, there we go.
  • Connecticut football might be out of the Top 25, but UConn lineman Rob Lunn is still ranked among hilarious college football bloggers, notes USA TODAY’s GAME ON.
  • Mentioned in yesterday’s SBB SPEED READ, Regan Smith’s DQ in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race could be the straw that broke DEI’s back, reports SPORTSTICKER.
  • THE EXAMINER talks with Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson’s wife Joy about October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  • THE SCORES REPORT makes a good connection. 32 teams in the NFL, 32 reasons to love the season so far. One for each team? Well, sorta. The Lions, Rams, and Raiders share one spot, because combined, they are one hell of an NFL team.
  • THE GREENVILLE NEWS leaves no fact out of the story. Two South Carolina high school football players were arrested after a Waffle House skirmish, but the lede is buried by sharing their season stats to date.

Tonight is the second US presidential debate, a town hall format. What would you ask of Sens. McCain and Obama?

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Blog Expo-Fest-O-Rama:You’ll Be My Cowboy Man

Emmitt Smith defends the legacy of the Dallas Cowboys by declaring Terrell Owens to be a non-Cowboy, according to FANHOUSE. What’s wrong, Emmitt; not enough hookers and blow to meet the minimum requirements?

George Teague and Terrell Owens

(George Teague agrees)

• This young lady would like to find marital bliss with Korean pitching star Kim Kwang-hyun. EAST WINDUP CHRONICLE has found as a clear visual definition of ‘moxie’ as we’ve ever seen.

Kim Kwang-hyun has a bride waiting for him after the game

(White seems a bit presumptuous here)

Matt Loede of NFL GRIDIRON GAB has spotted another Hochuli Hiccup in today’s action. We bet you hear more about this later.  Just a guess.
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Chris Cooley Sorry For Showing Special Little Guy

Chris Cooley is sorry for accidentally posting pics of his penis online - but not as sorry as we are for seeing it.

Chris Cooley short shorts

(OK, last shot we’ll show of Chris Cooley in short shorts - we promise)

• Turns out DeSean Jackson’s penchant for celebrating TDs prematurely is nothing new.

• Meanwhile, Tony Kornheiser celebrates NFL Hispanic Heritage Month in his own special linguistic way.

Lane Kiffin is still the Raiders’ coach (as of this writing). But if Al Davis does ditch him, Lane could secure employment in Syracuse.

• Maybe Charger fans can take some small consolation knowing that ref Ed Hochuli has been downgraded by the NFL.

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