The Count apologizes for today’s late arrival. He was a presenter at the Atlanta Sports Awards last night and woke up feeling less than Count-like, not because he drank too much plasma but almost certainly because he didn’t drink at all. Mrs. Count was watching me. But it was a splendid evening, and where else can Derrick Favors, Zach Bogosian and The Count pose together for a photograph, setting up the possibility that 25 years from now many will look at that picture and wonder, “Who’s the old guy in the rented tux standing with the NBA and NHL Hall of Famers?” By the way, Carl Edwards was not in attendance. Turns out, the Atlanta Sports Council offered was no trophy for road rage. Nope. That’s NASCAR’s job. Fraud time! We count down . . .
10. You know you’re hurtin’ for business when …
Covered the Kobalt Tools 500 the other day. Watched as Carl Edwards slam into the car of another driver, Brad Keselowski, at 190-ish from behind, sending Keselowski into the air, upside down, against the sometimes-protective fence between the track and the grandstands and then back down on its tires. Edwards was “parked” for the race. That’s NASCAR’s version of an NHL game misconduct. But suspend Edwards? Hah! Haven’t you heard? NASCAR wants its drivers to have fun again. So now comes word that Edwards will NOT be suspended. Nor will he fined. Nor will he be penalized any points in the standings. Instead, he’s going on three-race probation! Wow! Wait. What? Probation? What is that? Does he have to check in with a probation officer during pit stops? NASCAR: You just dropped the monkey wrench.
9. Right intent but the wrong decision
Yes, NASCAR needs personality again. Yes, that means fightin’ and yellin’ and spittin’ and slammin’ and wreckin’ And damn’t! More trophy girls, too! Can we start a movement to bring back Miss Winston? Because I’m sorry but Miss Smart Phone With Unlimited Texting just doesn’t sound right, you know? But back to NASCAR: This was the wrong call. I’m not saying Edwards should’ve been suspended for the season. Or even a month. But at least one race? I mean, can you give me Bristol? Martinsville? That incident was kinda ridiculous. The race was nearly over. Edwards (170) was 152 laps behind Keselowski (322). This wasn’t about going for a win. Keselowski wasn’t injured. Fortunately, neither were any fans. But a question: Is that what it’s going to take for NASCAR to take action? NASCAR clearly is desperate for sold out grandstands and fat TV ratings again. It believes fans want wrecks again, even at the possible risk of a fender landing on their cheeseburger, or possibly in their left ear. But this was weak, boys. Really weak.
Judge for yourself: A replay of Edwards’ road rage
8. NFL draft countdown: Brian Bosworth
The NFL draft is coming up. So The Count figured it was a good time to send a Happy Birthday to Brian Bosworth, who turned 45 today. Bosworth is a consensus member of the all-time top 10 NFL draft bust list. He had three great steroid-juiced years at Oklahoma. Then we all watched his body fall apart with the Seattle Seawhawks. Of course, it was pretty funny, especially since he is one of the most obnoxious creatures ever to walk the earth. He was run over by Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football. After calling out Jackson the week of the game, the former Auburn star ran for 221 yards and three touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders. On one, he just took Bosworth with him into the end zone. Here’s your video memory, via YouTube.
7. Forget RPI. Big 12 basketball just moved up in power rankings
OK, so The Count missed this story last week. But I’m sure it will please our resident Kansas alum at the AJC, David O’Brien. It turns out Samantha Ryan, porn star, apparently is a huge Jayhawks fan, and she even went to school there for at least, I dunno, five minutes. She was given four floor seats to the Kansas-Kansas State game by Jayhawks assistant coach Kurtis Townsend. We know this because Ms. Ryan Tweeted about it, and sent along the picture on the left. Now, for what it’s worth, Townsend said he met her on a flight in December and, “I had no idea she was a porn star. She was Jamie [Doe], a former KU student who said she was a big fan of the Jayhawks. I was just being nice and gave her my card and told her to call me if she ever wanted to go to a game.” That’s history and he’s sticking to it. For the record, IMDB says Ms. Ryan has appeared in 202 movies. While I can’t actually report the names of any of them, I’m pretty sure, “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU!” is not included in any of the dialogue. Assuming there is dialogue.
6. Just like Butkus would’ve done
What does a $91.5 million contract buy you? At least 25 bottles of $350 champagne, and maybe a little honeymoon period with Chicago Bears fans. Julius Peppers, whom The Count believed would’ve looked fine in a Falcons’ uniform, apparently felt a little giddy at 2:30 a.m. at a Chicago club following his signing. So he purchased 25 bottles of Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne for the house. This memory will linger for several months with Bears fans, or at least until Peppers misses a tackle against Adrian Peterson.
Peppers buys bubbly for the house
5. Eagles pay $1.5 million to a player they’re going to trade?
Also celebrating today: Michael Vick. The Philadelphia Eagles were due to pay him a $1.5 million roster bonus today. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Few believe Vick will be playing for the Eagles next season. He wants to start and that’s almost certainly not going to happen in Philadelphia. Nor can it be stated that the experiment of using him as a gimmick option worked (except against the Falcons). But clearly the team hasn’t been able to trade him, at least not for what it wants. So the Eagles pay him $1.5 million now, hoping draft pick compensation goes up in the next few weeks? And I thought $160 for a Tim Tebow autograph was a strange investment. Oh look, transition …
4. Cost of Tim Tebow’s autograph: $20 per letter
You might have heard about this: Tim Tebow charged $160 for his autograph at a Jacksonville mall last week. I believe half the state of Florida showed up, something the Jacksonville Jaguars no doubt are taking note of in their NFL draft meetings. Yeah, I’m not completely comfortable with this, either. $160 seems a little steep for a guy who may get drafted in the third round. But there are some extenuating circumstances here. A significant portion of the money is going to Tebow’s foundation. Knowing his background, I think we can safely assume this foundation doesn’t exist to launder his slush fund so he can buy cars, boats and a tropical island. But safe to say Tebow might want to also hold a few man-of-the-people autograph sessions here or there at no charge, otherwise Wonderboy’s reputation might take a few hits. For the record, The Count has never paid for an autograph. Actually, I only recall asking for two autographs in my life: 1) President Jimmy Carter. I was sitting next to on a flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta; 2) Muhammad Ali. I met him at a function probably 20 years ago. Neither charged me. Nor punched me. Nor had their Secret Service attack me. On a related note, I will be signing autographs Wednesday outside of the Waffle House by Holcomb Bridge and 400, for the cost of scattered-and-smothered.
The scene in Jacksonville
3. We’re not talking about ‘practice’ any more
Stephen A. Smith, who is often lampooned, nonetheless had a fascinating column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, quoting sources as saying that Allen Iverson had serious alcohol and gambling problems. After seeing Iverson’s response on Twitter, I can’t quite figure out if it’s a denial, a confirmation or somewhere in between. But either way, I feel sorry for the guy. (I know. I’m getting soft.) “To my fans: You all know that my life isn’t perfect. I am going through some very tough times right now, like I am sure that we all dofrom time to time. However, I will stand tall like always with “rhino” thick skin. Even though I have become used to hearing people say about things about me that aren’t true, it still hurts. I encourage you to continue your ongoing support and I want you to trust that this is about another obstacle in my life that, with God’s help I will overcome.” Safe guess: Career done.
2. The Ron Artest story: Hair today, gone . . .
Just when I was about to seek out Ron Artest as my spiritual guide, he went and shaved his head. On the left you, you see the word “defense” in Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese carved into his hair, at least according to his barber, the Maharisi Mahesh “Boogie.” Artest and Boogie were so proud of this that they posted a video on Artest’s Twitter link (@ThugRaider37). But now comes the photo on the right, taken Monday in practice. The clippers (electric, not Los Angeles) took down Artest’s defense with no problem. Nobody’s sure why. Maybe he just stopped channeling Dennis Rodman.
Artest breaks down his new defense
1. And finally, Helton speaks on Edwards
NASCAR president Mike Helton just released this statement on Edwards: “We made it very clear to [Edwards] that these actions were not acceptable and did go beyond what we said back in January about putting the driving back in the hands of the drivers.” When asked about the seeming contradiction in his ruling, Helton referred reporters to Sportscenter highlights.
Also posted today: Do Mark Fox and Georgia have a miracle in them in the SEC tournament?