By Tim Keown
In preparation for Sunday, 6:30 p.m. EST:
Odds that Bill Belichick will fall asleep at the podium after he is told to "talk about the dynasty" for the 789th time: 1:3.
Number of times writers and broadcasters will use the words "Talk about ..." as a preface to a question that is phrased in the form of a demand: Infinity.
Number of times an expert analysis will say, "Corey Dillon is the key to this game," as if he's the only one who's ever thought it: 1,909.
Number of active players who will take the field Sunday believing that you -- you with a name, you sitting there reading this -- do not respect them and their abilities as much as you should: 90.
Number of times Bill Parcells will be mentioned by the New York press, just because they always do: 154.
Odds that the announcers calling the game will say a wide receiver is good "in space": 2:5.
Odds that a defensive linemen will be described as having "a good motor" or "a motor that doesn't stop": 1:3.
Number of reports from the Super Bowl, print or broadcast, that will not include a reference to Terrell Owens: 0.
This Week's List Props to Freddie Mitchell for self-promotion, but I'm left with a question: Is he good enough to be talking like that? From the reports from Jacksonville, I'm wondering: Tom Brady -- God, or simply immortal? One team that looks like it'll play late into March, maybe even early April: Louisville. He failed to mention that his dreams included Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley and Willis Reed, with Dean Meminger off the bench: Larry Brown, dreaming of coaching the Knicks. One reason why, in college basketball, there's always a bright side this time of year: Your team is either winning or racking up some all-important "quality losses." Just for the heck of it: Gerald Irons. The X Games are great theater, but I'm left with a question: Is it really a sport if you can compete while listening to your iPod, or am I just old? A few tips to counter oldness, as gleaned from the X Games: 1) Make hand signal -- hook 'em Horns-style -- indicating your willingness to "rock on"; 2) Use the word "stoke" as adjective, adverb, noun, verb, and -- in a little-used feat -- conjunction; 3) drink Mountain Dew by the vat. Oh, and one other thing: Learn to identify a "McTwist." Right, and no pesky BALCO questions, either, but that probably wasn't a consideration: An Associated Press story on Barry Bonds' knee surgery, which will apparently keep him out of spring training for at least four weeks, says, "Bonds often tires of the day to day grind of spring training, both mentally and physically, and his rehabilitation might even provide a respite." To review: 1) Bonds' "minor arthritic cleanup" = six weeks; 2) Terrell Owens' broken leg and ankle ligament tears = 5½ weeks. Every year about this time, when thoughts turn to the cut grass and pastoral simplicity of spring training, it's always best to remember two simple words that never fail to bring a smile to your lips and a tear to your eye: Operation Shutdown. The most amazing thing is, the next time the Blazers have a home game, there will be people in the stands: Darius Miles, throwing racial slurs and other nastiness at coach Maurice Cheeks, and getting only a two-game suspension from the team. Sure, great idea, 'til you realize that teams aren't required to reveal their revenue, and what they do reveal is routinely a lie: Jim Bowden, the Nationals' GM, says Major League Baseball should arrange its divisions by revenue. In a way, though, Bowden's idea might be a boost to the economy: All the mid-range teams would fall over themselves trying to hire all the old Arthur Andersen guys to cook the books long enough to get them into the same division with the Devil Rays and Pirates. Reinforcing their tradition of spending too much for too little, for all the wrong reasons: The Baltimore Orioles, acquiring Sammy Sosa. And finally, somewhere Dennis Rodman is firing his agent for not thinking of this first: Richard Hamilton struck an endorsement deal with Goodyear tires in which he agreed to braid his hair like a tread pattern.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.