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Favre’s Retirement Opens NFC North for the Bears

When training camp started, I had a mental list of where I thought each team would finish in the NFC North division. I believed the Green Bay Packers would finish in first, followed by the Minnesota Vikings, the Chicago Bears and lastly, the Detroit Lions. But when news broke on Tuesday morning that Brett Favre planned to retire, the division picture changed dramatically.

I could not believe my ears when I heard that the Minnesota Star Tribune said Favre told teammates he planned to retire. Wasn’t he just saying that he feels more at home in Minnesota than he did during his time with the Packers?  If Favre does not return — which I’m not convinced until the season begins without Favre around — the race for second place becomes much tighter.

Favre had a career best 2009 season with only seven interceptions thrown. His dominant postseason play gave the Vikings a real shot at bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Minneapolis until the New Orleans Saints shut them down in the NFC Championship game. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will have to fill big shoes this season if indeed Favre decides that 19 seasons are enough for him. I don’t believe that Jackson or Rosenfels are capable, at least not yet, of leading the Vikings to a Super Bowl let alone an NFC North title. And this is good news for the Bears.

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Blackhawks Should Have Spent the Money to Keep Antti Niemi

The Chicago Blackhawks lost their arbitration case with goaltender Antti Niemi and would have had to pay him $2.75 million in salary. They had the option to keep him, trade him or release him as a free agent. Their decision? They let him walk away.

I think this was a horrible decision. I was fine with the team trading Dustin Byfuglien and company to the Trashers, but I am not OK with this.  If it was not for Niemi, the Blackhaws would not have won the Stanley Cup. I’m not saying that the rest of the Blackhawks’ roster wasn’t stocked full of talent– because it was– but if they would have had Cristobal Huet in goal instead of Niemi they wouldn’t have made it past the Vancouver Canucks.

The part that upsets me most about this deal is the fact that they agreed to sign Marty Turco to a one-year deal. First off, Turco is like 100 years old. Fine, he’s 34, but Niemi is only 26, so it seems like he’s much older. Plus, I don’t think Turco has much juice left in him. I mean yes, he’s a three-time All-Star and was once one of the highest-paid goalies in the league, but that was in the past. He did have 30 wins in the 2009 season, I’ll give him that. I just don’t think it’s enough.

The thing that might make this OK is if the Blackahawks start preparing Corey Crawford for his role as an NHL goalie. He saw a little ice time last season, but since Turco is only locked in for a year they should be preparing Crawford for his role as the 2011-2012 starter. You can’t really have a more important role than a goalie. You can score all the goals you want, but if there’s no one there to stop the other team from scoring too, you aren’t going to get too far. I really hope the Blackhawks know what they’re doing but I think that chances of a repeat just went down with Niemi’s release.

Sources:
Blackhawks drop Niemi, sign goalie Turco [Chicago Tribune]
Blackhawks agree to terms with three-time All-Star Marty Turco [Chicago Blackhawks]

Former Eagles’ Cheerleader to Marry Eddie Munster

Ready for the weird story of the day? Former Philadelphia Eagles’ cheerleader, Donna McCall, is engaged to her childhood crush. Now that wouldn’t be so weird if her childhood crush wasn’t Butch Patrick, a.k.a Eddie Munster from The Munsters.

I’m not one to judge people on who they fall in love with, but does anyone else think that this is a little creepy? McCall has had a crush on Patrick ever since the show was on the air in the 60s.  She wrote him a love letter in 1964 and continued writing even after the show ended because she was so infatuated with the actor. One day Patrick decided to write back and gave McCall his phone number. When she called him she immediately felt “at ease” and even spoke to his mother too. Uh, OK?

That’s not even the weirdest part about all this. They finally met at DraculiaCon II in May of this year and shortly after got engaged. Yes, I said May as in just over two months ago. This is a story where all stereotypes fly out the window. McCall may have been a cheerleader, but she was a cheerleader with an odd crush that she never let die. Hey, I guess she could say that she beat everyone to the whole vampire obsession because she’s been crushing on little Eddie Munster for almost 50 years. Well, kudos to the happy couple.  I hope married life doesn’t suck. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Sources:
Donna McCall to marry Eddie Munster actor Butch Patrick, a love story 46 years in the making [Examiner]

Haynesworth Gets Karma at Camp by Failing Second Conditioning Test

albert-haynesworth-redskinsI couldn’t help but smile on Thursday when I heard that Albert Haynesworth had failed the conditioning test that he needs to pass in order to participate in training camp. You can only imagine my joy when I heard that Mr. Haynesworth failed again on Friday morning. In my opinion, it’s all just Karma for the Redskins defensive tackle.

2010 has been quite the year for Haynesworth. It all started when he decided he didn’t want to be a team player and show up for two voluntary minicamps. Apparently, he thought his absence would suddenly change the mind of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and he would leave their defense at a 4-3 instead of the 3-4 that Haynesworth doesn’t like. Well think again. Then he had some baby mama drama with his ex-girlfriend who is apparently pregnant with his child. If things weren’t bad enough with this guy, he not only took the $21 million bonus the team gave him on April 1st, but then it looked as if he was trying to destroy the Redskins too.

So I say Ha! Haynesworth’s behavior is finally catching up to him. When he finally decides he wants to play with the Redskins, he can’t pass the test. It’s awesome. The funniest thing about Friday’s failure was that he needed to complete the first part of the test in 70 seconds or less — and he finished in 71 seconds. Just a thought, but maybe you wouldn’t be in this situation if you showed up for minicamp like the rest of your teammates? Oh well, what goes around comes around.

Sources:
Haynesworth fails 2nd conditioning test [AP/FOX Sports]

A-Rod 600th Home Run Means Little

Raise your hand if you care that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez is on the verge of hitting his 600th career home run? Yeah, me neither. Yes, there are only six other players who are ahead of him on the all-time home run list, but I still think it’s pretty meaningless to care about this “achievement.”

I never really liked A-Rod to begin with. But I did respect him. I respected him because he was a great athlete who was one of the true players we had left. However, when he admitted that he had taken steroids even after repeatedly saying he hadn’t, that’s when all that respect went down the drain. It was a complete disgrace to the game of baseball and I think that if anyone opens their mouth and says how amazing A-Rod’s 600th homer is I will punch them. Honoring this “achievement” is insulting to the greats who got to this mark in their career with pure talent. I’m sorry, but I won’t insult Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth or Willie Mays by saying this is something to get excited about.

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Cubs Should Make Ryne Sandberg Their New Manager

With the announcement of Lou Piniella’s retirement, Chicago Cubs fans have once again picked up their talks as to why former Cub and current manager of the Triple-A affiliate Iowa Cubs, Ryne Sandberg, should be their new manager. And you know what? It makes perfect sense.

1. Sandberg understands the Cubs. As a former player, Sandberg knows what being a member of the Cubs is all about. I have to hand it to Cubs fans for being so loyal when their team is a terrible as they are. Even though attendance at Wrigley Field is down, Cubs hats and t-shirts are still worn with pride. Sandberg understands that the “lovable losers” will stand by the Cubs no matter what their position in the standings is. But more importantly he knows how badly they want to win.

2. Sandberg has been preparing for this job. He hasn’t spent four years in the minor leagues for nothing. Sandberg took the job in Iowa so that he would have the proper seasoning when the Cubs job opened up. He even says he’s been preparing for this opportunity.

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NHL was Right to Reject Kovalchuk’s Deal with the Devils

The NHL announced Wednesday that Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils circumvents the salary cap and therefore will not be allowed.  The contract would pay Kovalchuk $98.5 million throughout its first 11 years and only $550,000 per year each year after that.  Anyone see how that could present a problem?

If Kovalchuk and the Devils really believed that he would play out the last five years of his contract, there’s no way he’d take a pay cut like that.  It’s all about the money.  You make as much as you can for as long as you can.  If he really believed he would still be playing at age 44, he wouldn’t settle for $550,000 a year.  The NHL is right to call shenanigans on this one.  We all know they’ve messed up in the past.  I love Marian Hossa, but do you really think he’s going to play out the length of his contract?  I doubt it.

It’s about time the NHL made it a point to shoot down one of these ridiculous deals.  What’s the point of having a salary cap if they aren’t going to enforce it? The Devils could say the reason Kovalchuk’s contract is so front-loaded is that he’s bound to be more effective in the early years, when he’s making $11.5 million per season. If that’s the case, why bother signing him to such a lengthy deal?  I understand wanting to hold on to your best player for as long as you can, but the Devils need to adhere to the rules of the cap.  They’re in place for a reason.

Sources:
NHL Rejects Kovalchuck Deal [ESPN New York]