Archive for July, 2009

ESPN: Goodell could let Vick attend an NFL training camp

Citing sources, former colleague Chris Mortensen and Sal Paolatonio of reported Tuesday night that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could meet with Michael Vick as early as this week. And Goodell, ESPN also reported, could allow Vick to join a NFL team in training camp. From ESPN:

“Under a scenario involving conditional reinstatement, Goodell would reserve the right to extend or further define Vick’s indefinite suspension but allow him to attend training camp if he is signed with an NFL team, sources said. A conclusive reinstatement, or additional suspension, for the 2009 season would be expected before Sept. 1, the first mandatory date for roster cuts.”

The belief here has been that Goodell would allow Vick to play in the NFL at some point this season, but I didn’t think we’d see No. 7, who was released from federal custody only Monday, back under the league umbrella this summer. Assuming Goodell sees the desired “genuine remorse” from Vick in their meeting, a …

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Yunel Escobar: “I don’t believe I’m that person”

Three days in the life of Yunel Escobar: On Saturday he didn’t swing on a hit-and-run and told inquiring reporters: “Talk to me when I get three hits.” On Sunday he got three hits and declined to speak. On Monday he was named the National League’s player of the week and did, with coach Chino Cadahia translating, speak with reporters and come across as a nice enough guy.

And that’s Escobar. (Or, as Cadahia calls him, “Esky.”) He makes you want to curse, and then he makes you believe he is, as Chipper Jones said Tuesday, both “an All-Star shortstop in the making” and “a great kid.”

Is this 26-year-old with the streaks in his hair a typical buttoned-down Braves? Well, no. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t worth keeping. Chipper again: “You do not want to get down on Yunel Escobar. He’s way too good.”

His mistakes and excesses, voluminously chronicled, aren’t solely a function of youth. There’s also a cultural disconnect. He’s Cuban, and he speaks only a bit of English. (He’s much …

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Bound for the Braves’ game, wondering about Escobar

I’m headed to the ballyard for tonight’s titanic tilt — if I sound like an old-time sportswriter, it’s probably because I am an old-time sportswriter — and my plan is to write a little something about Yunel Escobar. This might not be easy, given that Mr. Escobar has been declining interviews. (Though he did speak to reporters Monday night.) But there is, in the biz, generally a workaround:

When someone doesn’t care to talk, talk to those around that someone.

And here’s what I hope to be asking: Is Escobar a bad guy or just misunderstood? Has the language barrier become an in-house issue? Is he coachable? Is he a good teammate? And, most important, who does his hair?

This seems to me a propitious time to address the Escobar Enigma — sounds like a spy novel, doesn’t it? — given that on Saturday he didn’t swing on a hit-and-run but on Monday was named the National League’s player of the week. Which is pretty much the way of all things Escobar, if you ask me. Frustrating to watch …

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Greatest college player ever? Not Tim Tebow, I’m afraid

A kerfuffle arose last week when esteemed colleague Mr. College Football noted the sainted Tim Tebow was not — repeat, was not – a unanimous choice on the SEC coaches’ preseason all-conference team. Not that anyone should ever care about a preseason all-conference team. But I digress.

We are about to embark on a season in which the debate will rage: Is Tim Tebow the greatest college player ever? Thom Brennaman touched off the discussion during the broadcast of the BCS title game, and essentially every broadcast of every Florida game in 2009 will include some variation thereof. And I should stipulate that, not so long ago, I wrote that Matthew Stafford was a better college quarterback than Tebow.

I was, as often happens, wrong. And I became a massive Tebow believer during his bravura performance against Alabama in the SEC championship game. I would have no trouble putting him in the all-time top five among college players, alongside or slightly ahead of Red Grange, O.J. Simpson …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN likes Tech in Coastal, but not Ga. Tech

On her ACC blog, Heather Dinich makes three predictions regarding Georgia Tech. First, that the offense will be even better. Second, that junior Jonathan Dwyer will turn pro after this season. Third, that the Jackets, even with this upgraded offense and with Dwyer on his farewell tour, won’t finish first in their division. Virginia Tech will.

To be fair, most people pick VPI — we old folks still remember Virginia Tech as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute — to win the Coastal. I’m not among them. (Then again, I’m often wrong.) I’m picking G-Tech over V-Tech because V-Tech plays at G-Tech on Oct. 17. But Ms. Dinich offers a compelling reason for her forecast: The newness of GT’s offensive and defensive lines.

“It’s the most glaring weakness for Georgia Tech,” she writes, “and one that only time and game experience can overcome. Having to replace three of four starters on the defensive line will be no easy task, and the offensive line continues to be a work in progress. …

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Erin Andrews! Nude video! Better cool those jets, hotshot

This one’s for Mrs. Lou Bradley of Maysville, Ky. Or, as I like to call her, “Mom.” And Mom always said — and I mean always — that “your sins will find you out.”

Last week a video of Erin Andrews, of whom you’ve heard, surfaced on the Internet. It was shot through a peephole in a hotel room and it featured — and here the hearts of 10 million fanboys go all a-flutter — footage of Ms. Andrews unclad. Her lawyer acted quickly to have such footage removed from the Web.

“While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent,” wrote her attorney, Marshall P. Grossman of Santa Monica, in a statement released on PR Newswire. “She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future. Although the perpetrator or perpetrators of this criminal act have not yet been identified, when they are identified she intends to bring both civil and …

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The top prospect? Baseball America says he’s a Brave

Baseball America, which covers the minor leagues like Willie Mays used to cover center field in the Polo Grounds, has already seen its top four preseason prospects reach the majors and make impacts. No. 1 was Matt Wieters, the Baltimore catcher from Georgia Tech. No. 2 was David Price, the Tampa Bay pitcher. No. 3 was Colby Rasmus, the St. Louis outfielder. No. 4 was Tommy Hanson, of whom you’ve heard.

So now, this being midseason, BA has a new No. 1 prospect (link requires registration), and you’ve heard of him, too. He’s Jason Heyward, who just moved from Myrtle Beach, the Braves’ highest Class A affiliate, to Mississippi, and the pride of McDonough, Ga., is tearing it up in Class AA. Writes Baseball America: “A promotion to Double-A Mississippi made it possible that Heyward could jump to the majors in 2009, just two years after being drafted.”

Last week Buster Olney of’s Insiders raised the same issue: Could Heyward, who doesn’t turn 20 until Aug. 9, be summoned to …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Michael Vick goes free, but to do what?

Is the Wildcat the wild card in Vick’s future?

As of today, Michael Vick will no longer be in federal custody. The obvious and much-debated question: What’s next? The non-answer: Nobody knows.

In Sporting News Today, Albert Breer breaks down the now-familiar issues and Vinny Iyer lists six NFL teams that might be willing to hire Vick. (San Francisco, Miami, Jacksonville, Washington, Oakland, Seattle.) Two weeks ago Sports Illustrated, in an article by L. Jon Wertheim and Jack McCallum, examined the bigger picture: Hasn’t Vick already paid a higher price than most erring athletes?

But a key question can only be answered by Vick: Is it more important for him to play quarterback as he once played quarterback or to play in the NFL? Because those aren’t necessarily the same things anymore.

Vick’s best chance to find quick NFL employment might be to agree to serve as a designated implementer of the Wildcat formation. (This assumes Roger Goodell clears Vick to play, which the guess …

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Jim Donnan reconsidered: Not a bad ‘Old Coach’ after all

I never thought Jim Donnan was a bad coach. I thought he was a good coach who never got the one break he needed. And don’t think for a moment that breaks don’t make/unmake a coach’s career. Where would Phillip Fulmer had been if Arkansas’ Clint Stoerner hadn’t put the ball on the ground in 1998? Where would Mark Richt be had Horace Willis knocked down the pass to Michael Johnson that cold day at Auburn?

The “Old Coach” — Donnan liked to call himself “Old Coach” — was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, and I was glad to see it. I was one of the few people who seemed to like Jim Donnan, and that was another part of his undoing. After the curious failed season of 2000, he had no real allies other than Vince Dooley, and about all the AD could say in Donnan’s defense was that he deserved one more year.

(I agreed then, and I agree now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that Georgia upgraded with Richt.)

Donnan intrigued me. He loved game-planning …

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Cink sinks history, and for that he deserves our sympathy

If it’s possible to feel sorry for a guy who just won his first major tournament, I feel sorry for Stewart Cink. Because 10 years from now, maybe 10 days from now, nobody outside Atlanta will recall the 2009 British Open as Cink’s breakthrough. It will forever be the one Old Tom Watson almost won.

And that’s a shame. Facing the onrushing tide of history, what was Cink to do? Jump out of the way and grant the watching world its fervent wish? On ABC, Paul Azinger said afterward: “This would have been the greatest feat in the history of sports,” and a listener’s first thought wasn’t, as is always the case when confronted with such absolutes, to yell, “Heck no!” but “Well … maybe.”

But Stewart Cink didn’t pull a Tonya Harding and club Watson with a mashie. Cink simply played winning golf when Watson’s body remembered that, 46 days hence, it’ll turn 60. Watson missed an eight-foot putt on the 72nd hole and Van de Velded the playoff, and the Georgia Tech man was a six-shot winner …

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