Mike Richards’ Determination Punches Philadelphia’s Ticket to Cup Finals

A lot of people don’t like the Flyers.  That comes with the territory of being a Philadelphia team, in the same way it does with Boston, New York and sometimes even Chicago teams.  People hate the teams where the fans are the craziest and most obnoxious.  Those four cities probably top that list.  However, you can’t discredit what the Philadelphia Flyers have been able to accomplish, regardless of your opinion of their team and/or fan base.  Any time a No. 7 seed is able to reach the Stanley Cup Finals — even if it meant only having to beat a No. 8 seed in the Conference Finals — you have to tip your hat to them and realize that they must have wanted it more than the other seven teams.

That certainly showed in their series with the Boston Bruins, when Philadelphia somehow managed to rally from three games down (and three goals down in Game 7) to defeat the Bruins, who were arguably the hottest team in the playoffs at the time.  Leadership takes on an enhanced role in postseason play in any sport, and Philly captain Mike Richards has shown he is more than willing to live up to the challenge.  Thanks in large part to his will to win, his Flyers are now headed to the Stanley Cup Finals to take on the Chicago Blackhawks.  Check out this video of Mike Richards laying it all on the line with a shorthanded goal and an assist in the clincher of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal, courtesy of The Sporting Blog.

Mike Richards’ Amazing Short-Handed Goal Propels Flyers To Finals, Likeability [The Sporting Blog]

Source: USC May Challenge NCAA’s Ability to Sanction Them

It’s been over three months since the NCAA Infractions Committee met with USC officials for a hearing. The typical lapse between an infractions hearing and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA is six to 10 weeks, but this case has taken much longer. The LA Times suggests the long wait is due to logistics and there’s no question the NCAA wants to get it right. Why might they be taking extra time to ensure their sanctions are well reasoned? They could be facing an unprecedented legal response from USC in appeals if the penalties are too harsh.

Even though the Trojans are optimistic as they await word from the NCAA, I’m told they have a backup plan in case things don’t work out as well as hoped. Sources close to the USC athletic program and familiar with the legal proceedings say the school’s attorneys are planning to challenge the NCAA’s ability to sanction them. The source noted that USC has the legal and financial resources to put up this type of “groundbreaking” effort.

The obvious question at this point is: under what grounds could USC possibly challenge the NCAA’s sovereignty in the matter? It’s possible that USC would file their appeal under the umbrella of the public policy doctrine, if not something else. Should USC appeal the sanctions handed down by the NCAA under these grounds, they wouldn’t be the only ones challenging the NCAA’s power; Ed O’Bannon is leading a class-action suit against the NCAA regarding the use of former athletes images and likenesses for profit.

Chad Ochocinco’s Relationship with Cheryl Burke Ruins His Dating Show

Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (he does still play football, doesn’t he?) planned one of the busiest off-seasons we’ve seen for an athlete lately. Ocho booked himself a spot on Dancing with the Stars (angering me in the process) and landed a dating show on VH1 where 85 women vie for his love. While Chad probably figured that he had struck gold with his dual shows, he admitted the dating show — Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch (or Perfect Catch, I’ve heard both) — has unfortunate timing because of his interest in his dancing partner, Cheryl Burke.

Chad and Cheryl have apparently become quite affectionate towards each other and Ocho even bought her a $10,000 diamond ring. The two have denied that they are dating but Chad is making it seem like he’s not interested in anyone else. Here’s what he said on Live with Regis and Kelly when asked about his new dating show:

Unfortunately, this was already in place before I did Dancing with the Stars, before I met Cheryl. If I wasn’t doing that, she would have probably been the one.”

Not that I would ever watch such pointless drivel, but I have to imagine that this is the last thing the producers at VH1 wanted to hear. They gave Chad his reality show thinking he would play the role of the ultimate bachelor. What good is his dating show if he’s already taken? The two probably are dating but they just can’t reveal it otherwise it would officially make the dating show a sham. I’m just hoping his new lady, whether it’s Cheryl or some VH1 skank, has a Kate Hudson-like effect on him.

Jonathan Toews Won’t Touch Trophy Yet

On Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup for the first time in 18 years.  After the Blackhawks became the Western Conference champions, 22-year-old captain Jonathan Toews was presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl for winning the Western Conference, and he stayed the heck away from that thing.

Good move, Captain Serious. When it comes to my sports, I am extremely superstitious. I believe in growing playoff beards , always watching the game at the same bar, and wearing my favorite jersey for games. Back when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series, it was because of my lucky black and white socks. But to see the Hawks captain be as superstitious as me is pretty awesome.

The best thing about Toews not touching the trophy is the meaning behind the action. For him not to touch that trophy means that he won’t settle for less than the Stanley Cup. Toews wants it so bad apparently he loses sleep over it:

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Steve Phillips: I’d Trade Strasburg for Roy Oswalt

As time passes, I find that my opinion of Steve Phillips worsens.  He obviously has very few morals, as evidenced by the not one, but two, extramarital affairs we know of Stevie involving himself in.  While placing himself in those situations may have been the stupidest thing Phillips has ever done — even more mind-boggling when you consider the physical appearance of the women involved — the stupidest thing he may have ever said was aired on live radio today.  When discussing the Roy Oswalt situation and his desire to be traded, Phillips apparently remarked that if he were the Nationals, he would trade Stephen Strasburg for Oswalt straight up.

Yes, the same Stephen Strasburg who is one of the most hyped prospects of all time, has not yet reached his 22nd birthday, and is currently 6-1 with a 0.89 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 40.1 innings combined between AA and AAA this season.  I didn’t even believe this news when I heard it, but then it was confirmed by two Twitter users —  JimmyTraina and GaryArmidaFCP — that he indeed said it on Mike Francesa’s radio show.

Basically, Steve is all for the Nationals wagering their entire future to acquire a pitcher on the downside of his career for a year and a half.  Oh, and do it during a time span where your team has no shot at a World Series, or probably even making the playoffs.  It’s days like these that Mets fans need to rejoice that the man who brought them Mo Vaughn is no longer in control of their franchise’s future.

There’s a reason why Steve Phillips is no longer a GM [Hardball Talk]
Steve Phillips on with Mike Francesa [WFAN]

NFL Loses Antitrust Case

The NFL missed out on what could have been a huge money-maker for the league this morning and given them a tremendous amount of power with not only licensing and apparel deals; but also labor negotiations.  The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 to overturn a district court decision that had ruled that the NFL was a single organization, not 32 separate organizations (its teams).  Here is what Justice Stevens of the Supreme Court said in lieu of the decision:

Although NFL teams have common interests such as promoting the NFL brand, they are still separate, profit-maximizing entities, and their interests in licensing team trademarks are not necessarily aligned.”

The issue dated back to 2002, when American Needle — a company that had produced NFL merchandise for over 50 years — sued the NFL claiming its exclusive deal with Reebok was a violation of antitrust laws and a result of 32 teams monopolizing the licensing of merchandise.  Deadspin, which created a detailed account of what the Supreme Court decision could mean, points out that the decision to call the NFL a collection of seperate entities could have ramifications for the NFLPA, as well as all companies who have licensing deals with the NFL.  Here are a few snip-its from the Deadspin piece that outline the trickle down affect that could be felt as a result of the Supreme Court ruling:

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Jason Williams Spazzes on Reporters

If Orlando Magic guard Jason Williams took chasing down loose balls half as seriously as he takes reporters crowding his space, he may have prevented Rajon Rondo from making him look like a fool during Game 3.  I’m sure he was plenty frustrated after the Celtics embarrassed he and his team on Saturday night, and I guess you could say it showed.  What really managed to shine through is how much of a white trash thug Williams is.  Check out the video of Jason Williams going off on reporters after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, courtesy of Sports by Brooks.

Note to Jason Williams: Try not to let opposing players make you look like an idiot during a playoff game, and reporters will have no desire to ask you any questions.  You certainly aren’t going to affect the outcome of a game in such a positive way that writers and reporters will be itching to question you after it.

“Don’t get smart, Buzz”?  Or else what? I almost feel bad for Matt Barnes for having a locker next to this guy after seeing this.

Can We Plz Get Randy Moss In Here To Translate? [SPORTSbyBROOKS]