January 26, 2006
Tiger Woods:
New decade (he just turned 30), new driver (SasQuatch 460 Max), new season: Golf's biggest draw starts 2006 season today at the Buick Invt'l.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
40.  TIME.

Inspired argument-starter tonight on ESPN: Picking the Ultimate Super Bowl 40-man roster, which can be summed up in a single, obscure question:

Are you a fan of Timmy Smith?

After talking with fans in the Morning Quickie chat Wednesday, it's obvious there's one dominant qualifier to the debate:

Do you reward one-hit wonders, or do you give an advantage to players who had extended Super Bowl careers?

Some of the "career" players are locks: Joe Montana at QB (though I'm not sure whether he's the starter or the backup); Jerry Rice at WR; Emmitt Smith at RB; and Adam Vinatieri at K.

But where do you fit in the most notable one-hit wonders?

Call it the "Timmy Smith Effect": How can you exclude the players who only had a single game to make an impact, like the Redskins RB who set the Super Bowl record for rushing yards in a game?

But if you consider Smith, how can you not consider fellow one-hit wonder Marcus Allen, who had the single-greatest running play in Super Bowl history? The argument gets complicated quickly, and that's only between two guys at one position.

And it's impossible not to pick other one-hit wonders who earned MVPs: Richard Dent on the D-line or Desmond Howard as your return specialist.

How can you not choose Lynn Swann to line up alongside Jerry Rice? His memorable moments in Super Bowl X single-handedly vaulted him into the Hall of Fame.

(Swann's X game got three mentions in the Top 50 of Page 2's list of the Top 100 Super Bowl Moments of all time, a fantastic reference for your debates.)

Meanwhile, you can't ignore the career contenders: From the '60s Packers (LB Ray Nitschke? DB Willie Wood?), '70s Steelers (C Mike Webster? DL Joe Greene?), '80s 49ers (DL Charles Haley? DB Ronnie Lott?), '90s Cowboys (FB Moose Johnston?) and '00s Pats (LB Tedy Bruschi?)

In the last few paragraphs alone, there are already more arguments than you can count. The beauty of a 40-man roster is that you are forced to cut some of the best Super Bowl players of all time.

Undoubtedly, your own list will skew based on your age and which players you saw firsthand. (Short shrift to players of the '60s and '70s is nearly as much of a lock as the inclusion of Rice on everyone's list.)

But as you sketch out your own roster, argue with your friends or co-workers and watch experts debate it tonight (ESPN, 9 ET), keep in mind the most critical factor: Who, where, when, why and how you choose to line up on the One-Hit vs. Career divide.

Who's your Timmy Smith?

Artest to Sacto
Ron Artest accepted the trade from the Pacers to the Kings, so all that's left to be seen is whether Sacramento fans hold it against him for reportedly being, uh, hesitant to embrace their burg.

My bet is that Kings fans fall into exactly the same trap as the Pacers fans and Bulls fans before that:

Lofa Tatupu: SEA rookie LB replaces Urlacher in Pro Bowl
Earl Watson: Underrated Nuggs trade bait 7-0 as PG starter
Frank Thomas: Well, if A's GM Billy Beane likes him ...
New Orleans: Byron Scott wants Hornets to stay in OK City
Konerko as ChiSox captain: Declines Ozzie's offer of 'C'
Denny Neagle: Gets 40 hrs of comm. service in hooker plea deal
He might be crazy, but he's OUR crazy. This type of self-delusion also worked (with varying levels of success) for Bonds fans in San Francisco, T.O. fans in Philly and Rodman fans anywhere.

Here's a hint for Ron-Ron:
Winning soothes everything.

CBB: Parity Watch
So much for West Virginia: After I argued Monday that WVA might be the best team in the country, Marshall promptly snapped WVA's 12-game win streak. Never discount the in-state rivalry.

Speaking of in-state rivalry, Michigan hasn't been able to compete with Michigan State for years, but last night the Wolverines proved they're a Big Ten contender, tied for 2nd in the conference and 14-3 overall.

Yes, the Big East is nasty: NC State is ranked 14th, unbeaten at home and near the top of the ACC. Seton Hall is unranked and in the lowest tier of the Big East. So of course the Hall would beat NC State in Raleigh. It's just that kind of year for the Big East.

Even the ex-Big East teams can enjoy a little halo effect: After an 0-3 start in the ACC, Boston College has won 3 straight, including a win last night at UNC. BC's forward combo of Jared Dudley (17 pts, 8 reb) and Craig Smith (16 pts, 7 ast) is one of the best in college hoops.

Florida: Wheels come off? Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, I was with fans who were talking about claiming the No. 1 spot. The Gators promptly lost to Tennessee, followed by a second straight loss, at South Carolina on Wednesday night. Right now, UF seems overrated at No. 5.

Isiah, Day 2
Things aren't looking so great for Isiah Thomas right now in New York. He's already on the P.R. defensive (reportedly against advice from his lawyers) about his innocence of allegations of sexual harassment. But his accuser, Anucha Browne Sanders, a former team executive, isn't backing down.

Before battling the lawsuit in the courtroom, Thomas and his accuser already are lashing out to the media.

Isiah's guilt or innocence has been eclipsed by public mockery -- and Isiah hasn't banked much cred with fans up to this point to stop it.

The most hilarious detail of the suit remains the allegation that Zeke worked with local hotels to steer visiting players to certain bars and strip clubs to tire them out the night before a game. Some enterprising blogger will check the game scores, but I'm betting that tactic didn't work.

Senior Bowl Watch
I spent Wednesday afternoon watching Senior Bowl practice on TV, following the chats on SportsNation and reading Mel Kiper's and Scouts Inc.'s practice notes. (What? Weren't you? No? Oh. It must be me.)

Here's my question: What must it be like to be Mel Kiper at the Senior Bowl? Are you treated like the Godfather? Are the other Draft Experts (TM) catty? More questions:

*Can someone give me the names of the two NFL scouts who rated Vandy QB Jay Cutler over Matt Leinart and Vince Young?

(By the way, count me among the Cutler fans; drafted lower and by a better team than Leinart or Young, he's going to be the next Big Ben.)

*On the ESPN.com evaluations, there's a category for intelligence and DeAngelo Williams is rated "adequate." Is that on a curve?

*Has any curious academic ever examined the homoerotic subtext of a bunch of middle-aged men eyeing the "hip swivel" of a 22-year-old guy?

LeBron vs. Laser
Today's scolding: LeBron complained that a fan flashed a laser pointer near his eyes last night.

It's this simple: Fans in sports arenas who flash laser pointers at the players should be booted from of the stadium. Taking one of those in the eye is a quick way for a player's vision to get messed up.

Don't let one fan ruin it for everyone; if you see someone using a laser pointer at a game, tell a security guard (who should be smart enough to know to kick the offender out).

Marc Stern:
You think your seats were bad? At least you went. Stern had tickets to both the Wilt 100 game and the Kobe 81 game, but passed on both. (via L.A. Times)
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Senior Bowl
Page 2 Index
Ranking All-Time Super Bowl QBs
Joe Montana
MVPs based on clutch TDs
Tom Brady
Closest comp to Montana
Terry Bradshaw
2 MVPs, back-to-back
Doug Williams
Best quarter ever?
Steve Young
Sorry, Elway, Starr, Simms

MLB Stove: That Piazza-to-Yanks rumor sounds just like the kind of wishful or provocative thinking that keeps fans buzzing but never pans out.

Vick ticked at VA Tech: Doesn't like how they treated Marcus. In other gripes, doesn't like that the Falcons changed QB coaches without asking.

Don't expect Peja Stojakovic to have an instant impact. Jermaine O'Neal is out for 2 weeks (groin). Peja will be a lot better playing with J.O.

Which is the more impressive start: Pistons' 35-5 in 2006 or Tigers' 35-5 in 1984? Both were unexpected, but hot MLB starts have more juice.

WBC Watch: Trash talk heats up as Damon (surprise, surprise) says the U.S. is the team to beat. I still think the D.R. will surprise 'em.

Interesting XL rumor: The Bears reportedly are targeting versatile Steelers WR Antwaan Randle-El, a native Chicagoan. Break up the Steelers?

Want to join in the most entertaining chat anywhere online? Join me every weekday from 9 to 10 a.m. ET for the Morning Quickie.

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