Rick Reilly Go Fish: Tim Tebow

Let's get straight to the griping, shall we?

TIGER AND HIS HALF BROTHER

... in which I described how the body and finances of Tiger Woods' 53-year-old half brother, Kevin Woods, are being ravaged by MS, and how his family is exasperated at not being able to contact Tiger for the past six years.

This should be your last column about Tiger. This column just proves that he is an arrogant, self serving [expletive]. It is so sad that some people still worship him.

-- Jim. M.

You have written columns that have made me laugh, and some that have made me cry, but nothing you have written has ever touched me like Monday's column about Kevin Woods. I was diagnosed with MS in 2007 and my entire family has been supportive of me. I have not had nearly as many problems as Kevin has, but the past five years have still been difficult enough that I could not have made it without them. ... I hope Kevin gets to keep his house and that his doctors get his disease under control.

-- Mary Koppenhofer

Your column on Tiger Woods' half-brother was irresponsible. Unless you have half-siblings, this is a family dynamic that you simply cannot understand and thus territory upon which you should not tread. ... This one crossed the line.

-- Randy Helmy

Why does Tiger Woods' step family need Tiger to help? They have each other and a mother to help. Step children are not necessarily close to each other, especially when different mothers are involved. Once the step children grow up, why would they be interested in the step family? Maybe Kevin can move in with his real brother/sister or mother.

-- Esper

First of all, this is not a step family. These are half siblings. Tiger and these three people had the same father, Earl Woods.

Second of all, these people contend they have not asked Tiger for money. What they want is to let Tiger know how bad Kevin has gotten with MS and how he may lose his San Jose home. Of course, they'd love financial help for him, but they all maintain that the most important thing to them, and especially to Kevin, is being able to update him, to speak to him, to hear from him.

Thirdly, Kevin can't move into his brother Earl's house, because he lives in Phoenix. And he can't move into his sister Royce's house because it has stairs and Kevin has a dog that wouldn't work there. And he can't move into his mom's house because she lives in Modesto. Kevin is at a crossroads.

I was trying to find out why Tiger won't return their calls, but Tiger wouldn’t return MY calls. He may have a very good reason, but the half-family has no idea what it is. Tiger's people said he couldn't talk to me because he was "preparing for the Masters." But the request went out four days before the Masters began, on that Sunday. By not commenting -- his right, of course -- he risks looking guilty of the very thing his half family is accusing him of -- indifference.

A lot of Tweople (@ReillyRick) condemned the timing of the column, as it came out the Tuesday before the Masters. But this column was not delayed for any disingenuous reason. I was given a tip on this story on Saturday, March 24, in Phoenix, at the Sweet Sixteen. I began working on it that next Tuesday, after I'd written the Rick Pitino column, and it took five days to get the half-siblings' side of the story before I knew what to ask Tiger.

TEMPEST IN THE TIGER

...in which I seem to have become the national clearinghouse for people disgusted by Tiger's temper tantrums on the golf course.

Why don't you and fellow announcers quit brown-nosing Tiger and comment on his inappropriate behavior at the Masters for throwing and kicking clubs when he makes a poor shot? [Gary] McCord gets banned from Augusta for a comment that the [Augusta] hierarchy deems inappropriate. [But] Tiger, because he adds to your ratings, can do whatever he pleases and just be called a competitor, a warrior and a man fighting to reclaim his greatness. Give us a break and report the truth.

-- Woody

It's bizarre how people see me when it comes to Tiger. I'm some kind of human Rorschach test. It runs about half ("All you do is kiss Tiger's butt!") and half ("Why don't you get off Tiger's butt?").

But this letter made me slap my forehead so loud they could hear it at the back of the plane.

I was one of the first voices -- and by far the loudest -- to call Tiger to the front of the classroom for his increasingly vile behavior on the course, which started to get disgusting at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. I did a video essay on it then (comparing him as a kind of Goofus to Tom Watson's Gallant). I've criticized him dozens and dozens of times on "SportsCenter" and in columns for his language, his petulance and his bratty ways. I've begged for anybody to do anything, up to and including a spanking. He is, by far, the best-known golfer to kids, and plenty of them now think it's cool.

Now, after Tiger kicked his 9-iron on the 16th tee Saturday at the Masters, and was caught swearing by microphones Sunday, I think it's up to Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National. Payne needs to issue a public rebuke of him. He has criticized Tiger's behavior before, in front of the world, over the sex scandal. It's time to issue a statement again, which should read:

"Be advised all Masters competitors: Augusta National will NOT tolerate the throwing or kicking or slamming of clubs on our grounds, nor the abuse of bags or balls, during the Masters, or at any time. Those who do will be asked to leave the premises immediately and will not be invited back." That would do it.

TEBOW OUT, MANNING IN

... in which I described how Broncos exec John Elway found the perfect way to Jet-tison Tim Tebow without hurting any feelings and land the biggest fish in NFL free-agent history, Peyton Manning.

In Peyton's first year, he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, his completion stat was 56% and his rating was 71 (lower than Tebow's in 2011). So, in your opinion, Manning should have been dumped in Year 2 or never given an opportunity to improve? Why not give Tebow the benefit of the doubt? How about a team that invests in him the way Indy invested in Manning, not half-assed like Denver did? And let's face it, Mr. Ed Elway never did. If you are not going to personally give Tebow a fair shake, then how about report on Tebow fairly?

-- David Gallagher

Slanderous accusations at me aside, (A) Tebow is not one-half as talented as Manning, not in his second year, not now, not ever; (B) Manning was a No. 1 overall draft choice whose promise was immense while Tebow was a stretch at No. 25 overall; and (C) I have an idea that Elway, who has watched nearly every NFL practice and game Tebow has ever had, knows what he's seeing. And you're welcome for cleaning up your spelling. You, too, hit about 56 percent.

How are you going to write one column all about advising Peyton to go to Denver and then give Elway all the credit [when] Peyton listens to you?

-- T. Newmyer

Good point. I deserve 10 percent of the $96 million.

You got this one wrong, Rick. Elway is NOT getting a free ride on bringing Manning in and booting Tebow. He WILL be blamed if this doesn't work out and we are left with nothing. He better hope Tebow never gets it, because even if Manning plays for the next few years (I doubt there will be a Super Bowl, we still have a terrible team) and Tim is successful elsewhere, we will crucify him. No statues for John.

-- Donna Yost

I'm going to wince every time Manning takes a hit. I've had five spinal fusions, count 'em, five, on my lumbar vertebrae -- all five of which have come within the span of six years. There's a reason I've had five surgeries, and that's because each one preceding the next hasn't worked. My point is that, like the United States, Denver is only one shot away from Plan B, and if that were to happen at least they'd have a proven winner, in Tebow, to take the helm. I think the Broncos would've been better off keeping Tebow, and giving Peyton two or three years to mentor him.

-- Roger

It wouldn't have worked. The first interception Manning threw wearing the Predominantly Orange, the fans would've been screaming for Tebow. Manning would've had no chance to get used to his new receivers, his new system, his new team. Chaos would've reigned in the locker room. You want the Broncos to start a QB who won five games last season by scoring 18 points or fewer? Over Peyton Freaking Manning? Tebow's 2011 season was shocking, I admit, but more than half of his wins were due entirely to the defense and kicker Matt Prater.

You seem to give Elway the lion's share of the credit for this situation. However, I suggest Elway was far more lucky than good. Manning leaving the Colts and becoming available at the time Elway wanted to guide the Broncos away from Tebowmania was simply fortuitous. As Elway himself commented, he had no Plan B and, in fact, if Manning had not become available, no Plan A for leaving Tebow. Nothing wrong with Elway being lucky -- after all, the detective's mantra is: it's good to be good and better to be lucky -- but at the same time, does not warrant erecting a statue of Elway.

-- Kenneth

Of course Elway got lucky. He might as well have gold monkeys popping out of his mouth. Luck was all over this deal. If the Colts had won two more games, the Colts probably wouldn't have released Manning because they wouldn't have had the first pick to take Luck and this doesn't happen. If Manning's favorite QB as a boy isn't Elway, this probably doesn't happen. If Denver doesn't have the same low-media, hometown feel of Indianapolis, this probably doesn't happen. If Elway hadn't won two Super Bowls after 36, as Manning aches to do, this probably doesn't happen. But are you people saying even if all this hadn't happened, there shouldn't be a statue of Elway? Are you smoking shrubbery? Of course there will be a statue of Elway in Denver. If there can be a demonic blue horse with red eyes menacing visitors at Denver International Airport, a statue that fell on and killed its sculptor, then there will surely be a statue of Elway somewhere.

It is amazing how quickly you guys are willing to write off Tebow. Your logic is that you should rather do a five-year contract with a one-time Super Bowl quarterback with very dubious health issues, give him $96M, and say, "Elway will not be blamed for trying, rather than keep hold of an up-and-coming quarterback with exceptional WINNING mentality?!! Granted, Manning was an extraordinary quarterback and I hope he will not get seriously hurt when he will get hit with this Broncos defense. If Manning does not get injured, and the fans in Denver don't chant Tebow's name next season, I'll send you a case of my favorite French wine.

-- Sig Fusk

Too late. You just sent me a whine.

PEYTON MANNING TRIBUTE

... in which I thanked the legendary QB for the effort he gave, the manners he showed, and the loyalty he had to his franchise, even if it wasn't, in the end, returned.

Thank YOU for the wonderful article on Peyton Manning. As a 20-year resident of Indy, Peyton and I have crossed paths on occasion. He was always gracious, down to earth and classy. One time in particular I literally bumped into him at the Final Four at the Dome. I stepped out of the suite to use the restroom, and walked right into him. He was walking with Eli, and took the time to introduce himself to me and to Eli. I'm 6-foot-7, so he made some comment about running into a tree, then patted my back and walked on. I will never forget how friendly he was.

-- Wes Van Bruggen

OK, Mr. Manning was a terrific footballer. A pretty decent multimillionaire, as self-obsessed professional athletes go, these days. BUT, HONESTLY, after four neck/cervical spine operations don't you think prudence (and surgeons) would urge retirement? What is it with celebrities, anyway? So few ever know when to get off the stage. This player doesn't need the money and there's little more for him to achieve in the sport. Who is Mr. Manning listening to? Or, maybe the question should be, who is he kidding?

-- P.J. Andros

Hey, P.J., how would YOU like to be told when to retire by Peyton Manning? And not just retire from work, but from the greatest passion of your life, from the most-fun thing you do, from all your friends? And do ... do ... do what? Play golf the rest of your life? At 36? Don't tell people how to run their lives. That's my job.

I guess now I have to relinquish the boycott I imposed on reading your articles (this is the first time I've done it since the Jimmer article and I'm glad I did).

-- Daniel Field

So my forking over $5,000 to Jimmer's charity wasn't enough to earn your forgiveness? Tough reader.

CAREER-PATH ADVICE FOR MANNING

... in which I objectively and comprehensively rated the four cities Manning had to choose from -- Nashville, Phoenix, Miami and Denver -- and decided the best bet would be Denver, which happens to be my hometown. Manning took the advice. And do I get any thanks? No. All I get is thrown tomatoes from you people.

Crime rate. On the Manning situation ... about 25 years ago they did a study about cites with clean air and murder rates (in the Miami Herald ). Its results were that Miami had clean air and the highest murder rate in the country. So the Herald stated that if you are in Miami and have trouble breathing, don't worry, it's not the air, you have been shot.

-- Mike Grysko

You said that the Titans didn't have any receivers that people recognized in uniform. I don't how you can get that when they have Kenny Britt. Yes, he got hurt last year, but he was having another amazing season till he got hurt. Then Nate Washington stepped his game up and had the best statistical season he has ever had. Then the last few games of the season Jared Cook became a huge target and go-to guy. The Titans, in my opinion, have the best group of receivers and tight ends out of the three teams left.

-- Ryan Markham

Yes, Jared Cook is definitely a go-to guy. As in, "I've got to go to somebody else."

ANDREW LUCK

... in which I described how watching Luck work out at his home campus of Stanford was an astonishing experience, how NFL assistant coaches come to watch him the way people used to come to watch Bo Jackson hit in the cage, and how I hadn't seen such a sure-fire NFL QB star since I made the same trip to see John Elway at Stanford in 1983.

You wrote ...

Well, after reading your article on Andrew Luck, who I admire as a person more than a player, just a simple question: Do you believe Luck will impact the NFL on the field as quickly and as powerful as Cam Newton did?

-- Jerry Pitts

Well, the Colts are a de facto expansion team right now. He's going to need a few dozen players. But I think Luck will, in the end, be even better than Newton, and I think Newton has a chance to be great.

RGIII and Luck are both amazing prospects and are sure to have some success in the NFL, they seem to be practically even on most quarterbacking aspects, but RGIII did win the Heisman, is a better athlete and seems to be slightly better than Luck in some ways. So my question is if RGIII was white, do you think that Luck wouldn't be the presumed slam dunk for the first overall pick?

-- Edwin

Wow. Thought we were past all that. So you think winning the Heisman entitles the player to be No. 1 in the draft? Or do you just think it's the color of his skin that demands it?

LARRY AND MAGIC

... in which I shared the highlights of a one-hour conversation I had with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird at an event in Beaver Creek, Colo., near Vail.

I really enjoyed the article on Larry and Magic, because it showed how two competitors like those two can really relate to one another as human beings off the floor.

-- Richard Evitts

What were Magic and Bird doing in Beaver Creek?

-- Jerry Butler

It was a corporate event.

Great interview!! How does it stack with some of the other interviews you've done in the past?

-- Gregory Jerrell

I've been lucky to do so many great ones: All three Mannings at once, interviewing President Clinton while playing golf, having Muhammad Ali pretend to fall asleep on me and then suddenly having him jump up and choke me, the Josh Hamilton "Homecoming" interview (gripping), the Magic "Homecoming," writing books with Charles Barkley and Wayne Gretzky, and hundreds of other hilarious and sentimental ones along the way. But that one has to be in the top 10. Bird was just so deadpan funny, staring at his feet while amazing things came out of his mouth. And Magic jumping up out of his chair every five minutes to expound on some point he was making about Bird's greatness and introversion. And backstage you couldn't get them apart.

MAGIC AND THE DODGERS

... in which I asked in a "SportsCenter" video essay, "What American athlete has meant more to a city than Magic Johnson to Los Angeles?"

The comment you made that Magic buying the Dodgers was more important than Mario Lemieux and the Penguins is just ridiculous. The Dodgers might be having some attendance issues but they would never be a threat to relocate. Mario bought the Penguins out of bankruptcy and got the team a new stadium so they could stay in Pittsburgh. I recognize that to sell a story you have to speak with some hyperbole but you come off clueless when you make a comment like that.

-- Cullen Hagan

I disagree. The Dodgers were in the darkest days in the 50 years since they moved to Chavez Ravine. But let's grant your point that Mario Lemieux bailed the Penguins out of a bigger hole. How many championships did Mario bring to Pittsburgh, vs. Magic? Two vs. five. Did he ever coach them? No. Did he revitalize their inner-city with hundreds of millions in investments? Hire gang members? Open an inner-city health clinic? Have a profound effect on two of Pittsburgh's pro teams? No.

Granted, Mario established the Mario Lemieux Foundation, which raises money for cancer research. He was also a founder of Athletes for Hope, which seeks to help other athletes in their effort to contribute to their communities. Still, Magic’s impact has been greater over all.

A SOFTER RICK PITINO

... in which I describe how coach Rick Pitino has mellowed with age in Louisville, and the team he brought into the Final Four in New Orleans was his favorite since his 1987 Providence squad.

I have been one of many who always looked at Pitino as a little too slick and a little too arrogant. After the infidelity/blackmail scandal, the small part of me thought he finally got his comeuppance. Your article not only made me a little ashamed of myself (he whose slate is clean and all that), but also renewed my commitment to be a little less judgmental and a little more forgiving of folks.

-- Jim Cleveland

I am not familiar with the Biblical phrase, "He whose slate is clean ..." Is it in the Book of Comeuppance?

I find it stunning that you wrote an article supporting Pitino while you still bash Tiger Woods. Don't get me wrong, I love that someone in the media shows dislike for Tiger's off-the-course actions. But weren't Pitino's actions bad as well? I'm not defending Tiger. I'm not bashing Pitino. I'm just curious how you can have empathy for one and not the other?

-- Tyler Miller

Pitino was tarnished with one alleged act of infidelity. Tiger had 14 of them.

I think referring to Kentucky as "Voldemorts" is terribly unjust and horribly inappropriate. By using this analogy, you imply good against evil and to the kids on the Wildcats team, that is grossly unfair. They are not evil. Just a group of kids who happen to be extremely talented and unselfish enough to play together in beautiful harmony. Call them Goliaths, or Juggernauts or the Best Team in the Land, but DON'T you dare refer to them in any way as evil just because you may not be a fan. Shame on you!

-- Judith Flickinger

Oh, just chillax, Aunt Bea.

THE HESLIP AFFAIR

... in which I asked people to guess which one of 15 Sweet Sixteen storylines was fake. It was the one about Baylor sharpshooting guard Brady Heslip looking so unlike a basketball player that he missed a game this season when security arrested him outside the arena for trying to "sneak" in. Many of you are not careful readers.

Why would you fabricate an untruth about Brady Heslip like that? Is this what is supposed to pass for journalism or just an inside look at your journalistic integrity? Excuse me, I mean lack thereof.

-- Mike Whitis

I believe your piece about Brady Heslip is incorrect. He is 6-foot-2, not 5-foot-6 and he was not arrested before the Baylor-Missouri game. I can't find any reliable article that even says he was stopped by a security guard.

-- Conrad

Oy.

WRITING

... in which I ... oh, hell, you'll see.

What is the biggest secret in becoming a great sports writer?

-- Eric Jackson

As a 19-year-old aspiring sportswriter, I've been having trouble coming up with creative metaphors and analogies .... Whenever I read others' works, such as yours, I can understand the references right off the bat, and more often than not, get a quick chuckle out of myself while doing so. The problem is, as soon as I finish the sentence, I usually find myself thinking, "There is no way I would've thought of that in a million years." Do you have any tips and advices for me?

-- Michael Peng

My No. 1 goal when I write is to come up with sentences that jump off the page and poke you between the eyes, sentences that create an immediate word picture in your mind. For instance, you might write, "There is no way I would've thought of that if I were trapped for a year in a closet with a keg of Red Bull." Coming up with sentences that have never been written before may leave you sitting in the media room while everybody else is fast asleep, but it makes your writing fresh and different.

I became homeless about six weeks ago. I used to work about 60 to 70 hours a week until I was laid off. I never had time to read a lot of books. As I'm sitting in my car feeling sorry for myself I started reading your books -- all of them. I came to realize that a lot of people had it worse than I do. You have a way of writing that made me feel like you were in the car seat next to me telling me these stories. Thank you again as you have brought my spirits up. I get to come to the library two hours a day to look for work on the Internet so I'm hoping things will change quickly.

-- Mike McCart

Library? Go BUY my books, you cheapskate!

(Kidding! Anybody got a job for this guy?)

I wrote, you wrote

January, 17, 2012
1/17/12
1:47
PM PT
TIM TEBOW
We've had about 2,000 comments about this article already -- and over 90,000 Facebook shares -- and 98 percent of them are positive. That's preposterous. You could opine that people not stick sharp things in the eyes of children and you'd get only 95 percent positive reaction. Naturally, we start with the negative ones.

Tebow is all about grandstanding to highlight political-religious issues. He combines lucking into a few wins with this "tourist community service" -- always in plain view of photographers and video cameras -- to push his concerns. The sad part is that so many people (whose number now includes you) have been fooled. There are hundreds of thousands of people doing real service, not photo ops, around the globe, helping people with real, long-term contributions rather than seeking to promote their "brand."
--John (Columbia, Mo.)

You're not just wrong, you're loud wrong. Tebow spends an hour with these kids and their families after the game in a private room off the Broncos Family Room. No photographers or media are allowed. He does the five minutes before the game on the field just to give the kids the thrill of it, but most of the time is private. Tebow constantly makes children's hospital visits and doesn't allow media in the rooms with him. I know because people write and tell me about it. You question his "long-term contributions"? The kid is the son of missionaries! He's been giving time to perfect strangers since he was a small boy in the Philippines. He's trying to build a hospital there now. I'm not a religious person, don't want to be saved, but how can you not be impressed by somebody this bent on helping others?

Those folks Tebow spends time with; I wonder if any of them are LGBT?
--Lester Ballard (Wheeling, W.Va.)

He doesn't ask.

Were any of those sick people non-Christians?
--Rex Hannigan (New York)

He doesn't ask.

Is Tim Tebow nice to anyone who ISN'T terminally sick? How about just regular, everyday schmucks? It's easy to feel sorry for people who about to die.
--mistercrispy (Denver)

Since you asked -- with such charm, I might add -- Tebow is unfailingly polite, kind and friendly to everybody I've seen him interact with, whether it's at a party or in a hallway. I take that back, he's startlingly polite, kind and friendly. Put it this way -- the guy is respectful with sportswriters! Believe me, brother, I was as skeptical as you, but there's not a gram of fake in this kid. I've looked everywhere.

As both a lifelong (62 great years worth) Chicago Bears fan and a confirmed atheist, I should despise Mr. Tebow. As clearly shown by your article, nothing could be further from the truth.
--Dave Grossfeld (Chicago)

Some of my children are curious to know: How does Tim Tebow pick which person gets to come to a game? My (special needs) son asked me, "Mama, does Tim Tebow know us?"
--Kristi Schache (Dunlap, Ill.)

Mostly, Tebow picks from among people suggested to him by W15H, his charity that runs the game trips. W15H is run by his foundation, which is timtebowfoundation.org. But sometimes, Tebow reads about kids he wants to host, like the kid who "Tebowed" during chemotherapy, and makes sure they get invited.

I am an agnostic. I don't know whether God exists, but, if so, I think that God would really like Tim Tebow. I do too.
--Gary Owen (Calgary, Alberta)

Great article on Tebow, but why couldn't you at least give a mention to Tim's belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior as being the motivation behind his actions?
--Steve Edmondson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

I purposely didn't use the words "God," "Jesus" or "faith" in the column because I wanted people to see that this kid gives of himself tirelessly purely because he cares about others. Whenever you bring religion into it, some people immediately reject whatever comes next. Yes, most of the guests turn out to be Christian simply because a vast percentage of Tebow's most ardent fans are Christian and they write him. But from what I've seen, Tebow's generosity and selflessness to the sick and suffering have no religious borders.

TEBOW VS. BRADY
You forget...Tom has 9 seconds to throw. Tim has 2.
--pipo16 (Detroit)

You forget. It just seems that way.

Tom Brady is not a sex symbol for all, nor does Tim Tebow lack sex appeal. My girlfriends and I consider Tebow a far sexier man than Tom Brady because he is genuine, confident, and resonates sincerity. Sticking to one's beliefs has got far greater sex appeal than Brady could ever have for us.
--Jillian (Corvallis, Ore.)

I get that women find Tebow sexy, but to what end?

Are you really comparing Tim Tebow as a pro with Tom Brady? Seriously? That would be insane.
--Kelley Whitmire (Atlanta)

Yes, I was comparing them. You can compare a Humvee to a hummingbird if you want. Doesn't mean they're the same.

TEBOW AND FOX
Really? You think Broncos coach John Fox deserves credit for playing Tim Tebow? Seems like nothing could be further from the truth. He and John Elway only did so grudgingly in hopes he would fail so they could tell the Denver faithful, "See? He's no good. Now can we go and get us a 'real' NFL quarterback?"
--Brian McNulty (Dallas)

Must be wonderful to know everything. And from Dallas no less! Do you read the paper in the morning to see what they left out?

The only reason Fox played Tebow is because Kyle Orton was playing like such crap and they had to do it to keep fan interest. Strictly a PR move in my opinion. Now Tebow and that ridiculous defense are making Fox look like a genious. As a Raider fan living in Denver, this is brutal to watch.
--Adam Pope (Denver)

That's poetic -- a Raider fan misspelling "genius."

49ERS KICKER DAVID AKERS
Great piece on Akers. So often in sports we cheer and boo without considering the human sides of our heroes and villains. At the end of the day, we all have our dreams and demons, and the trifecta of a sick child, financial chaos and professional ambiguity would fell many, if not most. To follow that up with a record-setting achievement and high recognition among your peers is an inspiration and a half -- and, I can't stand the Niners.
--Jay Cooke (Alameda, Calif.)

When you said the fans booed Akers and sports radio blasted him, you forgot to mention that none of the fans knew about his daughter's condition. As soon as that news became public, there was no bashing of Akers.
--Andrew Mackenzie (Philadelphia)

You're right. I should've mentioned that.

You also fail to mention that he loved the city of Philadelphia enough to pay for a billboard, out of pocket, thanking the fans for their support throughout his career.
--Flare f'orDramatic (Philadelphia)

I try to keep all my columns under 900 words so people don't have to quit their jobs to read me. It's just sports, not the American Medical Journal. Not everything fits in 900 words. I never insinuated that Akers had any hard feelings towards the city or the fans, did I? So I think you're wrong. I didn't need to mention that.

Touching blog about David Akers.
--David F (Worcester, England)

No, no, no! Not a blog. It's a column. For some of us, there’s a big difference.

KOBE
C'mon! Kobe is averaging 6.0 assists per game {at time of writing} this year, which is good for 18th in the league, third best among shooting guards. Heck, that total is better than some starting point guards! To not bring up that part of the equation is shortsighted. Fact is, Kobe shoots that much, and still manages to be a better passer than most of the league.
--Andrew (San Francisco)

I agree. Somehow people got the idea that I think Kobe shoots too much. This is because Kobe does shoot too much. But he's Kobe and he'll never change so why mention it? It's like asking a cheetah to go vegan. He's always shot too much and he has five rings. He gets to shoot as much as he wants. He will still be shooting three years after he retires. This year, though, is beyond the pale. He's averaging six more shots per game than his career average. Then again, he's shooting better than he has since the 2001-2002 season. My question is: What happens when he cools off?

BENGALS
Any chance we can get an apology column for your single-handed dismantling of the city of Cincinnati, the Bengals, and their owner? [Ed note: Reilly predicted Bengals wouldn't win a game this season.] Now that Mike Brown has won executive of the year, lowered season ticket prices, won back (some) of his fan base, and re-energized the least successful franchise in professional sports? If not for Harbaugh in San Fran, Marvin Lewis would be coach of the year. If not for Cam Newton, Andy Dalton would be rookie of the year. And if not for Andy Dalton, AJ Green would be rookie of the year. Any chance you might apologize for being SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wrong?
--Sam Dobrozsi (Philadelphia)

Did it on Cincinnati radio, but I'll do it here. Didn't count on the Red Rifle. Didn't count on Mike Brown finally making a good move. Didn't count on A.J. Green being the reincarnation of Art Monk. So, yes, I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRY!


UNFAIR NFL RULES
Why isn't there more questioning of the NFL's playoff seeding? Isn't it time the NFL ditch the "win division rule"? The Titans were 9-7 to Denver's 8-8, they scored more points, allowed less points, and beat them head-to-head. Why should Denver be a 4 seed? Just like last year, the team with the much better record has to go on the road. It just doesn't make sense. Pittsburgh lost the tiebreaker to the Ravens, and by doing so, they dropped from a 2 seed to a 5?
--Eric H (Joliet, Ill.)

I've railed against this rule on Twitter (@ReillyRick). Pittsburgh was 12-4 and had to go on the road to play 8-8 Denver. In doing so, the Steelers lost their fastest safety, Ryan Clark, who couldn't play at altitude or risk life-threatening illness. So what happens in overtime? Demaryus Thomas outruns the Steelers' Clark-less secondary 80 yards for a game-winning touchdown. Dumbest rule in the NFL.

GUARANTEES
I am sick of the "guarantee". Every year Rex Ryan or some other big mouth guarantees a "Super Bowl" or a victory, and then doesn't deliver. And then they either pout or say, "I have no regrets" and then "guarantee" again. From now on, it should cost them significant dollars, or dress up in a ballerina outfit, or work for free.
--Gary Groenewold (Villa Park, Ill.)

Genius! I'm behind you. Here would be my schedule of fines for reneging on a guarantee that ...

... you'll win a game: Duct-tape mouth for one day.
... you'll win a series: Wear opponent's jersey, mouthpiece and slippers for four days.
... you'll sweep a series: Sweep opposing coach/manager's driveway wearing page 6 from Victoria's Secret catalogue for a week.
... you'll win the World Series: Work as beer vendor at opponent's stadium, one month, unpaid, in SCUBA fins.
... you'll win a championship: Shave head, take vow of silence, move into Tibetan monestery for a month.
... you'll win a Super Bowl: Buy plane, get pilot license, and skywrite every day for one year: (Your Name) Is A Big Hairy Incontinent Liar!
... Jimmer Fredette will not start an NBA game his rookie year: Pay $5000.



JIMMER
Re: Your $5000 pay-up. I like people who keep their word. Now, I'll keep mine and start reading your column again.
--Thomas Bigham (Yorktown, Ind.)

Thanks Reilly. Jimmer started a PRESEASON game. It doesn't count. Our office bet was that he wouldn't start his "first" game. Because of your article my betting friends think that preseason games suddenly count. You're killing me Reilly.
--Matt Jensen (Brigham City, Utah)

Yeah, sorry about that. But he was going to start a regular-season game sooner or later and it turned out to be sooner -- the 10th game of the season (20 minutes, 4 points.) What's weird is he was SO much better in the preseason. Since the regular season began, he seems to be sleeping in a refrigerated truck. He's shooting only 34 percent from the floor, and 28 percent from 3-point range. He seems a little lost and timid. Maybe virginity and the NBA just don't mix?

Your column showed up in some spam, work was slow and so I thought I'd read it. You are an unmitigated class act. I have never heard of anyone in your profession with such a degree of honor ($5K??)...and relentless humor.
--Steve Brown

Spam? (Large sigh.)

ROSE BOWL DONOR FLOAT
Thanks for writing about this float in the Rose Bowl Parade. I am one of the lucky ones that actually received my new kidney from my junior high school girlfriend. Who knew that 33 years later she would wind up saving my life?
--Eric Leviton (New York)

Eight and a half years ago I received the gift of life from unknown hero. The kidney I received then allowed me to watch my son swim in high school and now allows me to be able to coach my daughter.
--Brett Swihart (Evansville, Ind.)

Thanks for the column. I'm a 2-time kidney recipient, now 72, who was given 6 months to live when I was 21. I am a lucky lucky guy.
--Bill Sharp (Long Beach, Calif.)

As a transplant recipient myself, I thank you many times over for the sensitivity you brought to our cause. If it were up to me you would be voted SOTY for the 12th time.
--Gary Foxen (Orange, Calif.)

It IS up to you. Go get a job in the business and cast a vote.

You are everything that is wrong with ESPN these days. If I wanted to read your "Feel Good" stories I would tune in to CNN. I want to read about sports, not the sensationalized, drama based articles that you and your network continue to publish.
--Don McGrew (Phoenix)

I know. I feel terrible about myself when I try to tell compelling stories that inspire people to help each other and help themselves. I suck. I'll go back to writing about pro athletes knocking up women by the half dozen and angrily rejecting $100 million offers. Btw, what's for breakfast? Boiled kittens?

RODGERS VS. FAVRE
Trying to compare Brett Farve with Aaron Rodgers is almost like comparing Babe Ruth with Lou Gehrig - except Rodgers isn't yet anywhere near Lou Gehrig.There is no question that Brett Farve is the Babe Ruth of professional football.
--Bob Patterson (Picayune, Miss.)

If he's the Babe Ruth of football, why can't you spell his last name?

FANDOM
I'm soon to be the father of a baby boy. I've always been a die-hard Cubs fan. However, I've relocated to central Florida. I'm not sure I want my future child to endure the life of "We'll get them next year" and the agonizing feeling when next year never comes. Should I raise him to be a Tampa Rays fan to save him from the pain I have felt, or continue the line of Cubs fans?
--Mat Steckman (Ocala, Fla.)

I'm sickened that you're even asking this question! You'd turn your back on your team just because you MOVED? When American soldiers fought at Normandy, you think they suddenly started liking soccer? What's wrong with you? Of course your kid should be a Cubs fan! There's no choosing! He's born into it! Just as you were! Fandom is not about switching teams just because you're going through a little 104-year championship drought. Have a vinegar and water and man up! You'd trade Tampa for the Cubs? Tampa fans only go to games in hopes of SEEING the Cubs! Tampa is a football town first and a Matlock town second! The Rays might not even BE in Tampa in five years! And when they're gone, it will be another TWO years before the papers notice! But the Cubs will always be in Wrigleyville! And Cubs fans will always have a community blanket of heartache and hope and passion-against-all-odds to warm themselves. It's what binds them together in a bittersweet, wholly inescapable concept called loyalty. Loyalty is what you sorely lack, sir. Tampa? Please. When your kid grows up, I'm going to recommend he seek adoption.



I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong. I said $160 for Google when it first launched was a rip-off. Wrong. I thought "Occupy Wall Street" was a condo development. Wrong. This fall alone, I was wrong when ...

*I said Cincinnati would go 0-16. I was wrong. Gunned down by Andy (The Red Rifle) Dalton.


*I said Arkansas would win the national championship. I was wrong. At 6-1, though, they could still win the SEC.



*I said I'd never be on Twitter. I was wrong. Follow me @ReillyRick and I promise to try and tweet pictures of me with all the porn stars Rob Gronkowski missed.


Here's even more ways you said I've been wrong lately:

A TRUTHFUL AL DAVIS EULOGY

To bring out the guy's faults and shortcomings (no matter how long that list is) after he has passed away is crossing the line. While nothing you pointed out is untrue, it didn't need to be spelled out for the world to read about so shortly after his death.
--Tyler Reese (Pittsburgh)

You're a sentimental idiot. Everything you say sounds like the opinion of a mildly educated suburban housewife on mood stabilizers. Al Davis ruled with the cold, dispassionate efficiency of a dictator, which is exactly what an NFL owner should emulate.
--Andrew Brent (East Lansing)

Hey, I resent that. My mood stabilizers are never mild.

On the other hand ...
Finally an article which tells the rest of the story about someone who did some great things for football but in either the wrong way or for the wrong reason.
--Ed Stevens (Cypress, CA)

I have to applaud you for your Al Davis column. We are far too willing to over-memorialize those who have died, to the point where you start to wonder whether or not it's the same person you remembered ... I don't know a single Raiders fan that wasn't counting down the days until he gave up his control of the Raiders or died ... He regularly treated people like garbage.
--DG (Washington, DC)

I'm not a heartless person. I understand it can be a sad time when someone you know has passed away. But what good does it do to lie about the guy? For the last two decades, Al was described as a cold, arrogant, ass of a man. Then he passes away and becomes God's gift to football. I had been wondering when someone on the national stage would have the stones.
--Terrence Grom (Chicago IL)

I'm happy you had the guts to ignore the normal post mortem political correctness in order to deliver the truth in a more timely and deserved fashion... Just a wild guess... You won't be covering Raiders home games anytime soon will you???!!!
--Tim Dillard (Houston TX)

Just the opposite. What they do now, freed from hysterical and tyrannical rule, will be far more interesting.

To paraphrase Howard Cosell, "you are either a whore for the NFL or a pariah." You may be on your way to being a pariah, but the world needs some pariahs. There are a lot of whores out there. . .
--Kurt Jacobus

I know. I follow Gronkowski's Twitter feed.

And one comedian:
At least I have a legacy. You are just the guy who people didn't like when you wrote in SI and don't like you now.
--Al Davis (Hell)

THE JERSEY RULES

You do realize that you are insulting probably 90% of the people that log onto espn.com right? Most of those people probably wear jerseys to the games.
--Scott

Imagine if Jack LaLanne felt that way when he started calling Americans fat and out of shape in the 1930s. We'd all be -- wait. Never mind.

You're delusional. Wearing your favorite player's jersey is fun and a way to show your support for that player. You cannot put an age on being a fan. You need to lighten up.
--Cindy (Amelia Ohio)

I can't put an age on being a fan, but I can put an age on when a fan can put on a jersey and 30 is where it stops.

I am sick of all these so-called "man rules" about what and what not to wear or do past a certain age. I am a GROWN ASS MAN! (yeah, that's me yelling). I work in a legitimate, high-powered profession, which I busted my ass in high school, college and grad school to get, without a damned dime from my parents or relatives. So I can wear any clothing, which I paid for, whenever and wherever I damn well please. And I dare anyone to make me take it off. Go ahead. Try it!
--Jaymee Stahrr (El Paso, TX)

You should wear a Mike Gundy jersey. :

On the other hand
By the same token, grown men should never bring a baseball glove to the ballpark. Same concept, even less cool. No woman in her right mind wants to hang out with a guy if his baseball mitt is going to be the third wheel.
--Phil (Haddonfield, NJ)

"I'm not going if you're going to bring Wilson!"

And one comedian:
I was at MNF night before last and I had no idea Dallas had 24,536 players on their roster! Gee whiz there were Cowboys everywhere. I think I was sitting next to Jason Witten and behind me Dez kept spilling his popcorn on me.
--Lee (San Antonio)

SUCK FOR LUCK

Stop being such a grouchy old man! Why don't you have faith in Tebow and your Denver Broncos?!
--Lee (San Antonio)

Playing four good minutes against a Miami Dolphins team that couldn't beat the Nashville Barber College does not an NFL QB make.

"There haven't been this many dedicated losers in one place since Comic Con."

That was a nice unprovoked shot at an entire subculture of people who are, in some cases, also big fans of sports. How many comic book conventions have you actually been to, Mister Reilly? How many comic book fans do you know? Are you speaking from experience or are you just going for a cheap, easy joke? Please explain to me how someone who goes to a Pats game wearing a Wes Welker jersey and red & white face paint is less of a "loser" than someone who goes to a comic book convention.
--Brendan Johnston (Brooklyn, NY)

OK, you got me. Jersey-wearing thirtysomethings ARE losers just as much as you are. And, yes, I'm coming to Comic Con this year. I'll be in the Scott Pilgrim costume.

And one extra way I was wrong, no charge:

"Donovan McNabb is the Queen of Hearts of the NFL. He's worth minus-13 points to any team that starts him." Surely you meant the Queen of Spades, Mr. Reilly. One reckons it's been a while since you played an exciting game of Hearts.
--Daniel Muller (Waltham, MA)

No wonder I can never shoot the moon.

TIM TEBOW ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH YET:

Tebow will be the starter by game 7 of the season.
-- Bryan Quinn (Carrollton, GA)

Bryan Quinn, you're not helping your cause. Tebow was the starter in week 7, but it was GAME 6. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Problem with (Kyle) Orton is, he's a known quantity, and the quantity isn't very much. Tebow may well go on to accomplish more in the League than Orton ever will.
--Wade (Rebuck Pa)

Might already have.

On the other hand ...

Never missed a Tebow College game. Even saw him in high school. But you speak the cold, hard truth. I do so hope he masters the drop-back. His joy for the game, his energy and those wild, crazy plays that turn into something is fantastic entertainment. And after all, what is football to me, Joe Fan, but entertainment. Good Luck Tim.
--Richard (Douglas, Ga)

ROOT FOR THE BREWERS

Making Nyjer Morgan out to be some sort of likable anti-hero is absurd. The guy is a joke. Grade A moron.
--Joseph Stiger (Pittsburgh/PA)

I disagree. Morgan fills up a sportswriter's notebook faster than any MLB player. I honestly believe I could just leave my notebook on his locker chair and he'd write funny things in there. Love that guy.

Just curious to know how someone (Brewers' Ryan Braun) can be half Jewish?
--Dan Quinn (Green, Ohio)

Because being Jewish isn't just a religion -- it's also cultural and ancestral. By the way, my list of the best active Jewish players -- half, three-quarters or 2 percent:
1. Ryan Braun, Brewers, The Hebrew Hammer
2. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. Did he drink Mogen David in the clubhouse?
3. Ian Kinsler, starring in this World Series for the Texas Rangers


CARSON PALMER DESERVES BETTER THAN MIKE BROWN
(Note: These were written before Bengals owner Brown finally gave in and ripped off the Raiders for possibly a first round pick and a second round pick in exchange for Palmer last week.)

Wrong. Just because Mike Brown is an incompetent owner does not mean that he should feel compelled to grant the trade request of a player under contract.
--Robert (Lancaster, SC)

Why are you giving Palmer a pass? You kill other players for asking to be traded.
--Brooks (Huntsville, AL)

Carson Palmer quit long before he retired.
--John Mcgraw (Portsmouth Ohio)

On the other hand ...

Honestly, Mike Brown is a genius. He got the county to build him a stadium, he gets profit shares from all of the events held there, the county is now going to pay for improvements and repairs, the fans in this fair city can do nothing except avoid the Bengals and that really has no consequence because someone will almost always buy a cheap ticket to a game they can't see on television and he still gets money from the Jones and Snyder ilk when the NFL passes its profit sharing money around. Is he a heel? Sure. Do fans here hate Mikey Boy with every fiber of their being? Sure. Does he make tons of money and do almost nothing for it? Definitely.
--Jason Hoffman (Cincinnati, OH)

I have an idea: Let's start a rule in the NFL where OWNERS can be fired! That's right. Who takes the fall at the end of a losing season in just about any NFL franchise? The head coach, the GM, just about anyone EXCEPT the owner. GMs and coaches can be fired, players can be released. Why not have an annual "cut" each off season where owners who have continued to mismanage their franchises, as determined by a set of pre-established rules, W-L record, personnel matters, return on investment (ROI/ROE), etc. are escorted to the exit door. If his report card is bad enough, he is FORCED to sell the franchise.
--Greg Florko Cincinnati, OH (with a bag over my head).

And one comedian:

Personally, I think Mike Brown was adopted!!
--John Burgess (Cherokee NC)

STOP THE RACE

Well, Rick, are you happy now? They finally stopped the freaking race. In the wake of the Vegas race, cancelled by Dan Wheldon's death, a friend reminded me of your column on Ken Fox, killed at Michigan in '98. Continuing the race isn't about fan enjoyment or getting what you paid for. It's about a group of people ... who are drawn to a dangerous sport and know the risks ahead of time. They didn't stop the Olympics when the bobsledder was killed, or when downhill racers have died. They don't stop flying airplanes when one goes down. We move on in this country; wipe our eyes and move on. Ask A.J. Foyt what it felt like to climb back in that roadster in '64 after two of his friends were incinerated at Indianapolis. You finally got your wish; they stopped the freaking race. Is Dan Wheldon better off for that?
--Gary Ellis

No, but his family is. And no, they didn't stop the Olympics when the luger (not bobsledder) died, but they did stop the luge for the day. And yes, they do stop ski races when somebody dies. Remind me, when did you start chugging raw blood for breakfast?

THINK THRICE BEFORE YOU PLAY HOOPS IN TURKEY

Your column about DWill playing in Turkey is absolutely absurd. Do you really think he's going to shack up in an apartment the team provides when he's a multi-millionaire? Do you really think he'll actually be practicing with the team or just showing up at game time? Do you believe he won't have six personal bodyguards who look like they should be playing offensive line in the NFL with him at all times?
P.S. What do you have against hummus and olives for any meal?
--Matt (Boise,ID)

*To suggest that players who "are not pleasing the team's ownership" ... have their hot water, electricity and internet cut off is staggeringly ridiculous as well as totally untrue. Basketball is a large and professional sport in Turkey and the behavior of our clubs, management and players reflect this ...
*We were highly surprised by claims that Turkish women are habitually dressed in burkas and that our streets are awash with people at prayer ... Turkey is a secular country in which religion and state are clearly separated. ...
*The Muslim practice which calls for the sacrifice of a male sheep or cow certainly exists as one of the fundamental traditions of our faith ... we appreciate that this may be out of kilter with traditions of other cultures.
Should you be visiting our country in the future, pleas let us know as we would love the chance to show you the real Turkey as well as our passion for Basketball.
-- Dr. Emir Turem
Dir. of International Relations
Turkish Basketball Federation

Finally, here's one time when I was right, and I have the court order to prove it:

Comments: Almost 4 years ago [in Sports Illustrated], you wrote a story about Carlos Barragan's neighborhood boxing gym and how National City, CA, wanted to use eminent domain to seize their property in order to build condos. Not sure if you are aware but Carlos won. Pretty much a shutout. Just wonder what the city will do with the buildings they did buy. Maybe sell and help Carlos pay the wonderful attorneys that worked pro bono.
--Steve Cohen

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