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Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Extra Point/Sportsbeat Index for Feb. 1-15, 2002

Wingo: Button up these schmoes
Febuary 15, 2002
Extra point (morning) -- Trey Wingo: "Is there anything more comical than the figure skating scandal ravaging the Winter Games right now? I'm trying to decide who's more comical: the president of the skating union, who admitted on Wednesday that he "really doesn't know figure skating" or the French Olympic team president who said a French judge was pressured to act in a certain way in the pairs judging but then said, hey this little lady did nothing wrong. And then just for fun he admitted to the world that the French judge is an emotionally fragile person who is easily manipulated. STOP IT! My sides hurt. I guess this is what you get when sequins and artistic impressions are just as important as a Triple Axle or a Lutz. Whatever the difference is between the two. Look, it's stupid to say figure skating is NOT a sport, clearly it takes major skill to do what these people do on a steel blade across a sheet of ice. But every time an Ottavio opens his mouth or a Marie Rene- Legoo opens his mouth they turn the entire sport into a bunch of goons. Sadly we now long for the days of yore and Dick Button."
Extra point (afternoon): Bob Stevens: "So figure skating's put a Band-Aid on its judging fiasco by awarding a second gold medal to the Canadian pair. But a long term solution is next to impossible. The amazing thing is that so many are just realizing that there's a problem here. Hello? Any sport that's decided by subjective judgments, your opinion, anyone's opinion, is ripe for a fiasco like this, and politics have been a part of this sport since the first Greek gave a Roman a 4.8 for artistic impression. Anyone who's watched it knows that in figure skating, there's a script that has to be followed and if it's not your turn, or you miss your turn, tough. Last night, American Tim Gobble did things on Olympic ice that had never been done before, but it's not his turn yet. I daresay it sometimes looks like the only difference between figure skating and rasslin is that the competitors in the rink haven't read the script. Imagine if such a politically motivated call were made in a Super Bowl, or a World Series, because it could happen. We should just be thankful it hasn't yet."
Sportsbeat - Brent Musburger : "Now that we've dispensed with the preliminaries, let's get down to some real business. The big six have arrived in Salt Lake City, and they've begun their stage of the Olympic hockey tournament. The first night of Round Two will be capped off tonight when Team USA faces off against Finland. Teemu Selanne is always a threat, but he hasn't looked like his old self this season. And when it comes to goalies, I'll take Mike Richter over Yonnie Hermee ANY day. As for the rest of the tournament, it's hard to look past the defending gold-medalists from the Czech Republic. Dominik Hasek is back between the pipes, and Jaromir Jagr will dominate up front. With Patrick Roy skipping his turn with Team Canada, look for the Czechs to be playing for the gold medal a week from Sunday. As for their opponent, let's not forget 1932, 1960 and 1980. Each of the first three times the United States has hosted the Winter Olympics, our hockey team has won gold. Let's put it this way, folks: The winning country will be waving a red, white and blue flag. If you know your flags, you KNOW I'm saying this one is too close to call."

"It used to be a race for the good ol' boys. But Sunday, a couple of 26-year-olds will be in the front row to lead off the Daytona 500. Rookie of the Year candidate Jimmie Johnson has the pole, and Kevin Harvick will be right alongside. When asked about his lack of experience up front, Johnson smiled and said, 'Could be one heck of a wreck, couldn't it?' Actually, there's not as much youth here as you might think. Johnson is driving for Hendrick Motorsports, and Harvick is carrying the Richard Childress flag. That's about as good as it gets in NASCAR. By the way, there's one important thing Johnson and Harvick have in common: the make of their car. While Chevrolet dominated pole qualifying last weekend, the Ford teams were squawking long and loud that they've had an aerodynamic disadvantage. Bottom line: Look for a Chevy to take the checkered flag on Sunday."

Wilson: Some things we love
February 14, 2002
Extra point (morning) -- Chuck Wilson: "On this Valentines Day, what we should love in sports and what we do love in sports. We should love teamwork, unselfish play, grace, humility, sportsmanship, Stanley Cup handshakes, drawing a charge, a well-executed rundown, Jeff Gordon and Jerry Rice. . We should love a simple bounce pass, Bob Knight as teacher, giving credit, effort over winning, a good short game, a long triple, the joy of playing without keeping score and a lay-up on a 2-on-1 fast break. What we do love: tennis tantrums, hockey fights, In your face attitudes, car wrecks (without the injuries), judging controversies, End Zone dances, brushbacks, paybacks, Randy Moss and Mike Tyson. We love behind the back passes, Bob Knight losing his temper, taking credit, winning over effort, long drives off the tee, home runs, the joy of playing while running up the score, and a 3-point shot on a 2-on-1 break."
Extra point (afternoon) -- Chris Moore: "Call it a rip-off, a downer, a really bad call, whatever. Call it an injustice of Olympic proportions. This Canadian pair of skaters now destined to be the most famous silver medalists of all time. Still, for all the controversy, Salay and Pelletier have handled this extremely well. The basic sentiment that they have expressed, they can deal with a silver if it was bad judgment, but not if it was predetermined. Makes sense, and its far from sour grapes. But I will say one other thing, and that is this. The performance of the Canadian pair was outstanding, it's what they prepared for, hoped for, trained for and dreamed about. They pulled it off flawlessly on the grandest world stage of all. That success deserves a gold label, I agree, but just because they did not stand atop the podium for the medal ceremony, that does not in any way tarnish the fact that performance was as good as it gets. And the moment that performance ended, the feeling they has inside, no one will ever be able to take that moment away. I don't know for sure, but I'd bet that feeling beats any hardware around your neck."
Sportsbeat (Brent Musburger): "They call him the king of the quads. Tim Gable, a native of suburban Chicago, was the first American ever to complete a quadruple jump in a major competition, the first anywhere to complete three quads in a single program. But when it comes to tonight's free skate in the Winter Olympics, Gable may have his toughest leap yet when he tries to jump over two other skaters and win a gold medal. Russia's three-time world champ Alexei Yagudin is in first, and I know what you're thinking. If it's close, the Russian judge will give Alexei the win. Wait just a minute; there IS no Russian judge tonight. But there are a couple from former Soviet republics, so I guess you can fire up the conspiracy theories. Face it, folks. After Monday's fiasco that saw the Russians rob the Canadians in the pairs, you have to think the Cold War is still raging -- if only on the ice."
"Oh, here's a message to Michael. That team you're playing tonight isn't the pushover it used to be before you retired the first time -- or the second time. After having their five-game win streak snapped Tuesday by Phil Jackson and the Shaq-less Lakers, Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards will be tested by the Sacramento Kings. Despite a seven-point loss at Washington last week, the Kings still have the best record in the NBA, and this time, they're playing in Sacramento, where they've held serve 26 of 27 times this season. By the way, the biggest challenge for the Kings won't be Michael. It'll be Richard Hamilton, who overmatched the Kings guards to the tune of 33 points last week, his biggest game since he came off the injured list last month. By the way, while the Kings have been conquering the West, you might not have noticed the Wizards have played themselves within striking distance of a top-four spot in the East. Who would have believed that back when they were 3-and-10? Maybe that whole message about not being a pushover should apply to the Wizards."

Scott: Long live the dunking contest
Wednesday February 13, 2002
Extra point (morning) -- Stuart Scott: "Can anybody figure out a way to get Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and Jason Richardson in the slam dunk contest? I disagree with all the hatas who said the dunk should be eliminated, the ones who thought this past weekend's slam job was boring. Playa, that stuff that Richardson did was off da charts. His last dunk, was just sick, body going one way, reverse it in mid-air, come on. T-Mac's dunk in the All-Star game, off the backboard, weaving between folks, cradling and rocking the rim might have won in a slam dunk competition without any defenders. Problem is, $25,000 for first place just makes guys like Kobe, Vince and T-Mac yawn. Hey, ESPN, ABC and Turner just antied up about $4.6 billion for the rights to televise the NBA, we can't find a million, winner take all to entice the best dunkers and let fans vote on it. Tougher to say no to fans than it is to say no the league. The dunk's not dead, it just needs the best guys to breathe life into it."
Extra point (afternoon) -- John Anderson: "Don't mean to rain on anybody's patriotic Olympic parade here, but should I really be excited about the Americans 1-2-3 finish in snowboarding? It's like the French sweeping the podium in soufflé baking or the Egyptians dominating pyramid building. Face it: snowboarding is a sport we invented and kind or sorta horseshoed into the Olympics a few years back so we wouldn't feel as bad about getting our tails kicked and frozen off every four years. Sorry, but as a whole, we are just not a Winter Games kind of country like Norway or Austria. We're losers, not lugers. We cross-country ski for exercise not, say, as transportation to and from work. We ice skate for recreation not as a means of picking up dry cleaning. We ski jump& well& no we don't ski jump& at least not very well. And you know what? It's okay. It's the trade we make here in the good ole US of A for not having to spell Liechtenstein as part of our return address on envelopes or having to learn how to put umlauts over our vowels. Ski on Sweden& if you need me I'll be at spring training."
Sportsbeat (Brent Musburger): "Nothing gets America interested in the Olympics like having them in our own back yard. In case you hadn't heard, the TV ratings for NBC have been huge, and there's one man who really hopes Winter Olympic fever rubs off into springtime. It's none other than National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman. After tonight, all his star players will be headed to Salt Lake to join in the chase for the gold medal. But will a big run by American professionals translate into bigger TV ratings for the NHL? Recent history makes you wonder. The 1980 'Miracle on Ice' didn't rub off on the pros. The Rangers' Stanley Cup eight years ago was supposed to be a breakthrough, but that was only true in New York. Then came the Nagano Olympics four years ago, but the only thing Team USA won was a gold medal in vandalism. Even if Chris Drury, Mike Modano, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter can capture our attention over the next two weeks, I wouldn't expect a 'Miracle on the Nielsen Box.' But you have to admit, it couldn't hurt."

"If it's February in an Olympic year, then there must be a figure-skating controversy. You might have heard the reports that indicate two of the judges of Monday's pairs competition -- one from Russia and one from France -- made a secret deal. Something like, 'You take care of my countrymen in the pairs, and I'll take care of yours in the dance.' So two Canadians get the shaft in the free skate. There's talk of an investigation. There's talk of reform. In the end, nothing will change. Not only will the gold medal stay with the Russians, but this story will be repeated. Folks, I know it isn't right, but it also isn't new. Until they figure out a way to remove the human element from subjective judging, we'll have controversies like this every four years. If you REALLY want to solve the problem, then just eliminate judging altogether. In fact, there's one sport that already did that. How soon can we put bullfighting on ice?"

Wingo: Philly gets five in sin bin
Tuesday February 12, 2002
Extra point (morning)-- Trey Wingo: "Just exactly what does someone have to do in the city of Philadelphia to get a little love. In a place called the city of BROTHERLY love? Kobe Bryant comes home to Philly for the All-Star game, gets the MVP award and as he's hosting the trophy, gets booed as much as cheered. Absolutely ridiculous. Of course it's Kobe's fault that when he entered the draft the Sixers DIDN'T draft him, so clearly that's a reason to rip into the guy. We're not saying the Sixers made a mistake in the '96 draft, they took Allen Iverson, which has worked out pretty well for them. But again, exactly why is that Kobe's fault again? I'm sure there are plenty of well meaning, even- tempered sports fans in Philly, but the problem is they tend to be the SILENT majority. Whether it's booing Kobe, cheering Michael Irvin paralyzed, throwing things at Santa or just getting into fights with hockey players sitting in the sin bin. The goofball factor is certainly not doing the good guys any favors. If right thinking Philly fans want to change the city's image, they need to shut down the goofballs."
Extra point (afternoon) -- Bob Picozzi: "There will be nine games tonight in the NHL. The next to "last" night before a 12-day break for the Olympics. The best players in the world will leave their respective teams to join "other" teams. It ought to make for compelling hockey in Salt Lake City. But at what cost to the NHL season? Exactly how cohesive do you suppose teams will be after not playing a single shift together in nearly two weeks? Smack in the middle of the season? The NHL is trying to do its part to see the game grow. But I'm not a fan of anything which can dramatically alter the competition or the integrity of a season. NHL teams rarely have more than two consecutive nights off. Never 12 nights off. Teams on a roll now deserve the opportunity to continue that momentum. We all remember how exciting it was to see college kids at the Olympics in Lake Placid. How could anything beat that? Let's go back to the old way. Don't disrupt the NHL season. Let the amateurs play in the Olympics."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: "We Americans certainly love our home cooking, especially in the Winter Olympics. In 1932, we won a record six gold medals at Lake Placid. In 1960, the US hockey team authored a miracle on ice at Squaw Valley, 20 years before the more renowned sequel in Lake Placid. But that's nothing. This year, we could actually WIN the medals race. Yesterday, it was Ross Powers leading the sweep in the halfpipe. Just another example that Team USA will no longer tolerate European anthems, especially not in our house. But there's something wrong with this Olympic picture. You know what it is? We don't have 'The Herminator' to chase around the Wasatch Mountains. He won the slalom and giant slalom after surviving a downhill crash on the slopes of Japan four years ago. I got to know him in last year's 'Superstars' competition, and he told me he was really looking forward to Salt Lake City. But a summertime motorcycle accident cost him a chance to compete in Utah. It's too bad, too. Maier may not be in these Olympics, but he should not be forgotten."

"Believe it or not, it's completely legal to scalp tickets in Utah. Plenty of Olympic visitors were surprised to learn that this week. In fact, Utah is a great place to find those impossible-to-get tickets for everything from sold-out Broadway musicals to big games at Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center. You might want to use the '8-0-1' area code to find a couple seats for tonight's game in Los Angeles between the Lakers and the Washington Wizards. That's right, folks. Michael Jordan is back in Hollywood, and this is one tough ticket. With the Shaq Man on the shelf, the marquee matchup pits M-J against All-Star M-V-P Kobe Bryant, who made Michael look a little old in Philly on Sunday. Let's see. Michael has a score to settle tonight? I think the price of that ticket just went up a few more dollars."

Le Batard: Bizarre media food chain
Monday, February 11, 2002
Extra point (morning) - Dan Le Batard: "Here's a true story. It happened to me recently and tells you just about all you need to know about the state of sports today. You know Jay Mohr? The comedian? He's a huge sports fan, and he called an Indianapolis radio station during the football season to say that the Colts had forced running back Edgerrin James to play with a serious, career-threatening injury. A serious accusations, obviously. ESPN asked me to get a comment from James, who, like me, is from Miami. Whenever I need to reach James, I always call his friend and fellow Miamian Luther Campbell, who also happens to be a rap star. So, anyway, to summarize and symbolize, here's where we are today in sports: A man who covers athletics for a living has to call a rapper to get an athlete to respond to something said on the radio by a COMEDIAN."
EXTRA POINT (PM) -- Jeremy Schaap: "It's one of the most enduring legends of the Olympics. The gesture of sportsmanship that has been elevated to myth. At the 1960 games in Squaw Valley the U.S. Olympic hockey team going for it's first ever gold medal, trailed the Czechs 4-3 after 2 periods, the Americans were winded. Before the 3rd period Nikolai Sologubov the captain of the Soviet team which had already lost to the U.S. entered the U.S. locker room. Gesturing he advised the Americans to take oxygen. Several did and the U.S. scored 6 goals in the final period to win the gold. A lovely story, all of it true. But much of the story is often left unsaid. The Americans appreciated Sologravov's advice, but many were already planning to take oxygen. The six goals in the 3rd? Not one by a player who did take oxygen. None of this detracts from the generosity of the gesture, only from the impact of the outcome of the game."
SPORTSBEAT -- Trey Wingo: "Is there ANYBODY that came out of the whole Marvin Lewis fiasco unscathed? In case you've missed any of it....and that's quite understandable. Here's a recap: Marvin Lewis to get the head coaching job in Tampa Bay. Marvin Lewis does NOT get the head coaching job in Tampa Bay. Instead, an upset Marvin Lewis decides to go to Washington to be the Skins' defensive coordinator. No, change that, on second thought he decides to stay on with the Ravens as their defensive coordinator. No wait, upon further review or on 3rd thought, Lewis decides to bag Baltimore after all and go to Washington for buckets of money. My head hurts. Several points here. 1) Marvin Lewis SHOULD'VE gotten the Tampa Bay job. 2) After saying he was staying in Baltimore, he probably SHOULD'VE stayed in Baltimore. 3) It's certainly Lewis' right to go for the cash, it's a free country but by grabbing the coin, Lewis lost the right to say he's on higher ground in all of this. Let's just hope at this point it's over."

"So NBC and the Olympics are off and running with the highest rated opening ceremony of all time. After the disaster of Sydney, NBC swore that the idea of "plausibly live" would be trashed. Games on American soil, in a decent time zone, would be live live live, so the country could feel the drama. Nice idea, too bad they're not doing it. 9 hours.. 9 hours..after the downhill was done it finally showed up on NBC television. While American snowboarder Kelly Clark was taking the first gold of the games in Salt Lake, NBC was busy showing us cross country skiing, won by Lkausen Von Hoofen Bratten of Slovatina. Excuse me? If you're gonna say the games will be live then the games should be live. Like everything else in this life, make a decision and stick to it. Plausibly deniability for plausibly live coverage again is a joke."

Moore: No time to hate
Friday, February 8, 2002
Extra point (morning) Chris Moore: "The Olympics are here again and although no one can deny we are in a heightened patriotic state, these are not the games, or the emotions of my youth. Theories as of why? There are a million of them, be it over exposure via television, the diverse choices for our leisure time, a less divided world or just apathy in general, it seems like we don't root like we once did. Now, maybe it's a good thing we don't hate the Russians, the Czechs, the Germans, we don't hate any of them. That can't be bad, but still. There's that little piece of us that takes delight -- not only in our success-- but in the failure of our nemeses as well. Maybe the Yankees still elicit that emotion for some, they certainly haven't lost their popularity in Boston. But the hated is a dying breed in sports these days, and I'm trying to convince myself that this is a good thing. But I gotta isn't easy."
Extra point (afternoon) -- Bob Stevens: "If all the flag-waving and U-S-A chanting finally gets to you a little this weekend, remember, at least those athletes will actually be competing. Unfortunately, this is also the NBA's and NFL's all-star weekends, two games that have outlived their usefulness. Shaq and Vince Carter, the two top vote-getters in the hoop galaxy have begged off, and I'm not gonna argue whether they're really hurt or not, but very few of the all-stars really want to COMPETE against the other great players, just guarantee their all-star bonus and not get hurt. Even a free trip to Hawaii, with family, isn't enough to fill up the NFL's pro bowl rosters. The season's just too long and guys who are just nicked up would rather miss the Pro Bowl than their first mini-camp. At least at last weekend's NHL all-star game, most of the guys who have had their schedule jammed together this season showed up anyway, even though they still had nearly two weeks of games that COUNTED before the Olympic break, that's when you'll see some All-Star games worth getting the gang together for. Hopefully baseball will put together a similar international tourney, soon."
SPORTSBEAT -- Brent Musburger: "Just about five months removed from September 11th, and we are about to embark on 'The Healing Games.' That's how folks around Salt Lake City are referring to the Winter Olympics. Opening ceremonies are tonight at the University of Utah, and for the next 17 days, we will try and forget about the unprecedented security protecting these Games. You might think it will be impossible to ignore the daily reminders, especially since they take the form of a visible military presence throughout Utah's Wasatch Front, but what about the bribery scandal that has gripped these Games? You'd forgotten about it, right? My point is these Winter Olympics WILL go on, and while there may be distractions as there are every four years, the athletes really WILL take center stage."

"Five stars will emerge from the 19th Olympic Winter Games in Utah. We'll start at number five with Mario Lemieux. Somehow, some way, Super Mario will turn back the clock, make his Olympic debut and deliver Team Canada its first hockey gold medal in 50 years. The number-four star: Jim Shea, who is competing in the skeleton, which is high-speed, face-down sledding. Shea will be a sentimental favorite. His 91-year-old grandfather, the oldest living Olympic gold-medalist from America, was tragically killed in an auto accident less than three weeks ago. At number three, it's Apollo Ohno. This 19-year-old from Seattle will defy the S-I cover jinx to sweep all the gold in the demolition derby known as short-track speed skating. The second star will be Bode Miller. A brash skier from New Hampshire, Miller may very well win gold in the slalom and the giant slalom less than a year after he tore up his left knee. And the number-one star? Following in the footsteps of Fleming, Hamill, Yamaguchi and Lipinski, she'll become the latest homegrown skater to strike gold. In 13 days, the queen of ice will be America's own Michelle Kwan."

Wilson: Behavior modification in order
Thursday February 7, 2002
Extra point (morning) -- Chuck Wilson: "Poor behavior and poor sportsmanship: it's on the basketball court and in the stands. And too many colleges and universities aren't dealing with it. It's an "In Your Face" mentality that needs to be changed. Coaches: rein in your players' "look at me" approach. Giving them the freedom to express their "personality" and "individuality" is nothing more than allowing them to show off. This is, after all, a "team" sport. Officials: Take a stronger stance against all forms of taunting. Crack down on the trash talking, finger pointing and gesturing that demeans opponents and antagonizes fans. Athletic Directors: send the message to your athletes, student body, and fans that taunting, foul language and other poor behavior simply will not be tolerated. Then back it up. And College Presidents: It all starts with you. You set the tone. Are you embarrassed by some of the behavior you're seeing? Uncomfortable with seeing close-ups of your coaches "cursing" officials? Want to see your athletic events serve as a positive reflection on your school? Good. Then take a stand.
Extra point (afternoon) -- Dan Davis: "Hey getcha Twins and Expos tickets here!!! Tickets!!! That's what they are saying now at the home parks of the Twins and Expos, a couple days after baseball called off the contraction dogs. In Minnesota, sales are slightly ahead of last year and one senses that fans will continue to support the franchise, hoping to save it beyond this year. In Montreal, a little help please. We need some promotional ideas as Baseball itself tries to sell tickets to watch the Expos play. It might help if they leave something more than batboys and a public address announcer behind after moving key people off to Miami. Promotion! Let's see!!! Maybe Frank Robinson could start up a barbershop quartet to entertain between innings. Or perhaps Expos players could sell kisses for $5 apiece down under the grandstand. Maybe build a THIRD dugout for fans who pay a little extra. There MUST be some way to get fans to show up for baseball in a lame duck town where they don't even LIKE baseball. Good luck."
SPORTBEAT -- Brent Musburger: "Folks in Eugene have to wonder what it takes to get noticed. First, the B-C-S gave the Oregon football team short shrift. Now the Ducks are alone in first place in the Pac-10 basketball standings. Even so, and despite a 10-point ROAD win at Arizona last month, Oregon finds itself ranked only 15th -- two places BEHIND Arizona. Here's why. Folks, I dare you to name the coach of the Ducks and even ONE of their players. While I'm waiting for your answer, I'll tell you Oregon is on the road tonight to play Stanford. Now back to the question. The Ducks' coach is Ernie Kent, who played in Eugene in the mid-70s, and his team has moved to the front of the Pac-10 class by firing away from behind the arc. And even if you can't remember names like Luke Ridnour, Luke Jackson and Freddy Jones, you SHOULD know they are the sharpshooters who may yet have Oregon as high as a TWO seed in the N-C-A-A Tournament. If nothing else, at least THESE Ducks will not be denied a chance to prove themselves in THEIR postseason."

"The defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers are already on their All-Star break. But there's no rest for the San Antonio Spurs, who are struggling to climb into the Western Conference's top four. Tonight, Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors host the Spurs, who continue to ask themselves one big question: Will David Robinson ever return to all-star form? While Tim Duncan has been getting his 25 points and dozen-plus rebounds a game, he isn't getting the help he once did from the Admiral. At 36, Robinson is barely scoring in double figure these days, and we cannot forget how mortal he and the Spurs looked last year when they were swept away by the Lakers. Still, something tells me we haven't heard the last of the Admiral."

"After tonight, the N-B-A shifts its focus to All-Star Weekend. E-S-P-N Radio will provide exclusive, live coverage starting tomorrow and culminating with the All-Star Game in Philadelphia on Sunday."

Scott: A few words for Pats fans
Wednesday February 6, 2002
Extra point -- Stuart Scott (morning) "You wanna hear it Patriots fans? Here it is: congratulations. You happy? Dan Patrick, Sean Salisbury, and I had a discussion Sunday night in New Orleans, then Monday too. Patriot fans don't know how to be happy, they don't know how to win. Sunday night we're at Patty O'Brien's on Bourbon Street, just one Hurricane. OK, two. And huge crowds of Pats fans are yelling, screaming 'you don't respect us, eat your words, we proved everybody wrong.' They were angry. OK, so I picked the Rams to win, I thought they would, so did most people. So what? We were wrong. It's not that I don't like the Patriots, I underestimated them and I'm happy for them. But to the 7 people who called my voice-mail complaining about, among other things, 'you didn't show any Patriot highlights on SportsCenter after the game.' I say, get a grip, be happy and if Ty Law's pick, and Brady's TD pass, and McGinest's sacks aren't highlights, then you need help." Extra point -- John Anderson (afternoon): " Now that Super Bowl 36 is over we can finally look forward to the scariest, most demanding sports event on earth -- Men's Olympic Downhill XIX this Sunday. First guy leaves the start house at high noon eastern time, alpine angels willing, he'll trip the timer at the bottom of the hill around 12:01:50. Basically we're talking two miles in less than two minutes. Strap on some skis and take that my horseshoed friends at the Kentucky Derby. The cajones competition between football's biggest game and the downhill isn't even close. Instead of playing in the Superdome... start by skiing off it. {The Olympic course drops steeper and faster than Enron stock.} Pads? How about skintight bodysuits to reduce protection and increase speed. Astroturf? Downy soft compared to the ice covered run in Salt Lake City. Danger? Ball carriers knocked out of bounds and what?... hit an NFL Films camera man. How about taking an 85 mile an hour tumble for a 1/4 of a mile before crashing through two snow fences and into a birch tree. Tweet, tweet. Keep your sissy Western Pennsylvania quarterbacks... if I want tough I'll get me a fearless Austrian downhiller with good wax and a sharp edge."
Sportsbeat -- Brent Musburger: " Who's your pick for college basketball coach the year? You can always round up the usual suspects who hover near the top. There's Mike Krzyzewski, not to mention both Roy and Gary Williams. But inevitably, we look to those teams we might expect to rank this high, like Alabama's Mark Gottfried, Cincinnati's Bob Huggins or Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson. But I might just submit one of Sampson's Big 12 rivals. How about 'The General' ? Is it overstating his accomplishments this season at Texas Tech by even considering Bob Knight for national coach of the year? I think not. Tonight, Knight and his 25th-ranked Red Raiders are in Stillwater to face No. 12 Oklahoma State. So why is he a coach of the year candidate? First of all, he had to overcome his personal demons, then go some place, start fresh and win the right way. So then he rolls into a football town, ran off three veteran leftovers, recruited a couple juco players, introduced the famous Indiana-Knight system: a lot of passing to get a good shot and a lot of man-to man defense. The kids bought in, the arena is full, and he has big-time wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Can this team win a big game on the road? It's going to be tough, especially tonight in Stillwater. But I wouldn't bet against it.

They came close to making half the Final Four a Los Angeles affair last year. Now, like everybody else in the Pac-10, USC and UCLA are wondering if they'll ever get back on a roll. USC coach Henry Bibby has been muttering about his team's inconsistency. Meanwhile, UCLA's Steve Lavin is just trying to keep his big man Dan Gadzuric out of foul trouble. Whichever one succeeds tonight will indeed be on something of a roll. That's because the 18th ranked bruins host the number-24 Trojans at Pauley Pavilion. I don't know about you folks, but just watching the Pac-10 this year, I get the feeling three consecutive wins by ANYBODY will be about as close as ANYONE will come to getting on a roll."

Wingo: Team introduction is way cool
Extra Point -- Trey Wingo (morning): "How could we miss it? How could most of us not see what was apparently so obvious from the third week of the season. Looking back at it, the masters of the universe were dropping hints from above that the Patriots would be champions of the world. Think about it. They start the season 0-2, their franchise, $100 million quarterback goes down, their best receiver did his best to poison the team. So of course, they win it all by taking their last nine games, wrapping up their first Super Bowl title in 42 years. And those items aren't even the half of it. Pats lineman Joe Andruzzi has three brothers who work in the New York City fire department. Three brothers he thought he lost on Sept. 11 he didn't. When the NFL resumed play, it was the Andruzzi brothers who were honorary captains. Before the Super Bowl started Sunday, the Patriots proved one more time they play together. Quoting Pat Summerall, 'The New England Patriots have chosen to be introduced as a team.' That was about the coolest thing I've ever seen in 36 years of Super Bowl history, and Sunday it was the perfect way for the Patriots to make history."
Extra Point -- Bob Picozzi (afternoon): "Here's the windup and the pitch. Wait a minute. A man in a bad suit and unusual haircut running out to the plate waving some papers. What's he yelling? It sounds like 'contraction.' By golly, it's Bud Selig. Is that what we can look forward to on Opening Day? Did you hear the latest? The state Supreme Court in Minnesota has refused to consider an appeal of an injunction which forces the Twins to play this season at the Metrodome. Yet not a peep of reaction from Major League Baseball, which said as recently as last week that they could wait right until Opening Day and still contract two teams. Is this some innovative marketing plan to convince fans to buy season tickets? 'Hey, Agnes, did you hear they might close down the Twins? We better rush out and buy 20 along the first-base line.' By the way, the Twins open their season on April 1. That's right. April Fools Day. Seems only fitting when you consider who is behind all of this contraction nonsense."
SportsBeat -- Brent Musburger (afternoon): "What's the No. 1 topic of conversation in the NBA? Folks, for the first time this season, it isn't Michael Jordan's return. Now it's all about the New Jersey Nets. Can the Nets keep winning? Can the Nets actually win the Eastern Conference? Yes and yes. Last night's convincing, 34-point victory over the team with the best record in the NBA -- the Sacramento Kings -- showed me that the Nets possess the talent and the desire to keep pushing. If you exclude Shaquille O'Neal -- who, in my opinion, is always the NBA's MVP -- the No. 1 player in the league this season is Jason Kidd. By bringing his great playmaking skills east, suddenly Keith Van Horn and the rest of the Nets are living up to expectations. Richard Jefferson, a mid-first-round pick out of Arizona, is the most surprising rookie in the league with attacking moves at the basket that are almost impossible to defend. And the person who has put this team together is a general manager by the name of Rod Thorn. Yes, the same Rod Thorn who used to hand out fines and suspensions from the NBA's front office. What is easily forgotten is that he was the general manager in Chicago when a fellow by the name of Michael Jordan was drafted number three. Now Thorn is responsible for elevating Byron Scott to the head coach's job, orchestrating the trade for Kidd and also acquiring workmanlike pivot man Todd Macculloch. Defending conference champion Philadelphia is a head case, and the Milwaukee Bucks are soft. Make no mistake: Right now, the Nets are the best team in the East on merit.

"I was in St. Louis this weekend, and all I heard over and over on the radio was that Monday's victory parade would start at Union Station at 4:30, and that the team logo was already painted on the street. Secondly, I heard an interview with Isaac Bruce on how he was going to be the game's MVP. Third, the Post-Dispatch proclaimed a Super Bowl victory would make this Saint Louis offense the third-best of all-time. Folks, how do you spell overconfidence? 'R-A-M-S.'"

Le Batard: Pain is name of game
Extra Point -- Dan Le Batard (morning):
The body screams. It groans, begs, cries for the football player to please slow down, please stop, please listen. Pain is the body's voice asking for help, but football players ignore it. The needle helps. It turns down the volume. It muffles and mutes the screaming, drowning it in science -- for three hours, anyway. The needle pumps fake healing into the bloodstream, and it mixes with all of Sunday's good adrenaline to soften the edges. The screaming will be back soon enough, though, and far louder upon its return. Rams All-Pro Adam Timmerman can bench-press 450 pounds with his gnarled hands but needs to call his wife over to open a jar of pickles for him. Patriots linebacker Roman Phifer gets so little use out of his shoulders that he needs his girlfriend to lift a pitcher of water after games. They make the trade, though, without remorse, in exchange for triumph.
Extra Point -- Jeremy Schaap (afternoon): "Drew Bledsoe deserves his Super Bowl ring-and not just because he helped lead the Patriots to a win in the AFC Championship game. Bledsoe deserves his ring as much for the things he didnt do as for anything he did. What didnt he do? When he was benched, Bledsoe didnt whine. He didnt attempt to undercut his coach or his understudy. He didnt divide the Patriots. What did Bledsoe do? He continued to mentor Tom Brady. He practiced as if he might play. He gave the Patriots peace of mind. Perhaps Bledsoe shouldnt be celebrated for simply doing the right thing. But these days in sports, those who simply do the right thing are the exceptions. Bledsoe didnt take a snap in the Super Bowl, but he has every right to savor the victory. New England might still be waiting for its first title-if not for his professionalism."
SportsBeat -- Chuck Wilson (substituting for Brent Musburger (afternoon): "So what do you think? Best Super Bowl ever? Better than Rams-Titans, Broncos-Packers, Giants-Bills, Steelers-Cowboys? Let's just say the New England Patriots' victory over St. Louis was entertaining. Maybe it wasn't a nailbiter through the first three quarters, but what kept you watching was the waiting. You kept waiting to see when the Rams would figure it all out, and they never did. I had predicted the Patriots would stay in the game through the first half. But with a long intermission for U2, Mike Martz and his staff had time to figure out how to combat the Patriots' bag of tricks. The only problem is Bill Belichick never ran out of tricks. Take that defense. It's one thing to have five, six, seven defensive backs in the game, but the combination of being able to jam the receivers off the line and an effective scheme in the secondary kept Kurt Warner from ever finding his primary receiver open down field. Sure, Tom Brady won the award, but the real MVP was Romeo Crennel's defense. So was it compelling football from the opening kickoff 'til the final gun? Maybe not. But just like watching Freddy Krueger, you keep waiting for the inevitable, and in Super Bowl XXXVI, 'Friday the 13th' never arrived.

"It'll be a fun game to watch tonight when the Sacramento Kings visit the New Jersey Nets. It doesn't hurt that they're also the NBA's surprising conference leaders. Why? Well, you can thank their guards. There's been a lot of talk about Jason Kidd and the MVP-type season he's turning in for the Nets, but let's not overlook Sacramento's Mike Bibby. He has brought a controlled brand of creativity to the Kings. Take his game-winning basket yesterday at Minnesota, a high-arching shot over Kevin Garnett that wasn't exactly the sort of thing Sacramento would have expected from Jason Williams last year. As for tonight, the Nets have had a day of rest. Between that and the home court, it's advantage New Jersey."

Jackson: Healing game
Extra Point -- Jason Jackson (morning): "When you are watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, I hope you keep a few things in mind. This country is still at war. While most of our lives have returned back to normal, life in America is far from it. Last night, I received an email -- a wonderful yet saddening email with an attachment that turned into a tear-jerking tribute to the heroes and victims from Sept. 11. For whatever reason, the first thought that entered my mind was Sunday's 36th edition of the Super Bowl. No game plans or Bledsoe vs. Brady analysis. I couldn't even muster a vision of Marshall Faulk making men look like children or the Pats shocking the world. I just wondered should this game be played? However, it was a fleeting thought. Of course this game should be played. The effort of the Secret Service to keep the participants and the observers safe says so. This nation's ability to recover and heal says so. The memory of those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we hold dear says so."
Extra Point -- Bob Picozzi (afternoon): "Are you surviving the mid-winter blahs? You cant possibly be bored. Hockey All-Star Game tomorrow, Super Bowl on Sunday, opening of the Olympics one week from tonight. But since this is the eve of Groundhog Day, I cant help but feel like Punxsutawney Phil. I mean didnt the Olympics just end a few hours ago? I understand why they decided to stagger the Summer and Winter games. Give each one more exposure. But it reminds me of the Davis Cup. It seems one Olympics begin before the previous Olympics end. Not that Im not chomping at the bit at the prospects of watching the biathlon and the Nordic combined. By the way, I always felt the biathlon would be infinitely more compelling if it combined marksmanship with ski jumping. Guess its simply been too long since my buddies and I grew up luging in our New Jersey neighborhood. As Archie and Edith would say, those were the days. Ah, yes, the winter Olympics. Please, somebody wake me up when theyre over."
SportsBeat -- Brent Musburger from Las Vegas (afternoon)

"Here in Las Vegas, you stand around. You analyze. You over-analyze. You second-guess yourself. Then you contribute liberally to the construction of yet another casino. Then you search for advice. You wind up here. Super Bowl XXXVI is at hand, and for what it's worth to you, I'm going to go with the team that seems blessed with the magic dust. Fourteen points are an awful lot for anyone to cover, even the St. Louis Rams, and since they've answered every question so far this postseason, I'm taking the New England Patriots and the 14 points that go with them. I'm a big believer in special teams, and no one has been more special in this category than the Patriots. Against the Raiders, it was Adam Vinatieri's 46-yard field goal in the blizzard. Against the Steelers, the player who really came up big in MVP fashion was Troy Brown. If you're taking the underdog, you love to have confidence in your kicker and your return men. They can keep you in the middle of the action all day long, and that's just what they'll do for New England on Sunday. But what about the final score? We'll talk about it in a minute.

"Sixty-one bookies were polled here in Las Vegas about Sunday's Super Bowl. Thirty-nine of the 61 landed on the favorite, but 45 of them said the combined final score would go over the target number of 52½ set by the sports books. Given Kurt Warner and his magnificent skill players for Saint Louis, we agree to that. When they met in New England, they scored a combined 41 points, but that was outdoors, on grass and in the cool of the autumn night. When you raise the temperature and roll out the green carpet for the likes of Faulk, Bruce, Holt, Hakim, Proehl, just let the fireworks begin. No team has ever been as good on the carpet as the St. Louis Rams, but no conference champion has rolled into the Super Bowl quite like the very 'special' New England Patriots. Final score of Super Bowl XXXVI: Rams 34, Patriots 30."