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Michael Vick Remains an Excellent Pitchman for Sports Companies

Michael Vick may still be a hated man by many people in the country, but his popularity is undeniable. Students at his high school were leading a movement to have his jersey put back up on display, and Vick was named the Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL. He became an MVP candidate with his stellar play last year and even earned an endorsement deal with apparel company Unequal Technologies, angering one of our writers. Even if you disagree with Vick being a company’s spokesman based on moral grounds, you cannot argue that the man can’t sell.

The Wall Street Journal had a story recently about Unequal’s decision to take a gamble on Vick by making him their spokesman. Vick apparently wanted stock in the company rather than money, making the decision to hire him even more difficult. The bold choice by Unequal paid off in a 1,000% increase in sales, and the announcement of the partnership led to 10 million hits on their website.

The whole article is worth a read, and it shows that at least one company was rewarded for believing in Vick and making the right call. I’m just disappointed we didn’t tab him to help pimp LBS. 10 million hits? Yeah, we could have lived with that.

Ryan Leaf Is Maturing and Proud of What He Did, Admits Money Changed Him

Ryan Leaf’s name will almost assuredly be forever associated with some of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. Luckily for him JaMarcus Russell is working hard to supplant him for the top honor, but even some of Leaf’s off-field issues post-football haven’t helped his reputation. Leaf is now 34, working on writing three autobiographies, and after hearing him speak during a recent interview, I’m convinced he’s starting to really “get it.”

Leaf joined Darren Smith’s show on Double X 1090 in San Diego Thursday to talk recruiting, quarterbacks, and the draft. He really showed a sense of maturity given the way he talked about things and answered some of the questions. Amongst the highlights from the interview, Leaf talked about what it’s like being labeled a bust, how money changed him as a player, and how he feels about his playing career. Here are some of his answers to great questions asked by Smith (you can listen to the interview here).

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JaMarcus Russell Life Coach John Lucas Gives Up on Him

When the topic of draft busts comes up twenty years from now, it would be hard to imagine the name JaMarcus Russell going unmentioned.  Russell was the top overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.  He signed a six-year, $62 million deal with the Raiders that included $31 million in guaranteed money.  A 65.2 career passer rating later, he and Oakland have absolutely nothing to show for it.

Russell has been called a “binge eater” and had his jersey torched by Raiders fans.  When Hall of Fame wide receiver and fellow Raider Tim Brown tried to give him guidance early in his career, JaMarcus refused.  Between the purple drank scandal and no NFL team even wanting to speak to the former LSU Tiger, Russell’s career was as close to dead as it could get.  Now that his life coach, John Lucas, has given up on him, the end has likely come.

Sources told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday that Lucas has parted ways with Russell and asked him to leave Houston.  Considering Lucas has helped plenty of athletes with drug addictions and other problems, he must really view Russell as a lost cause.  JaMarcus worked hard when he started meeting with Lucas but his motivation started to slip and began wearing on his life coach back in December, according to the sources.

The idea of a life coach is to help a person out of a tough time that they can’t get themself through.  When a life coach gives up on you, that is the ultimate signal that you’re all alone.  I don’t wish the worst for Russell by any means, but I think it’s safe to say his NFL career is completely over.

Larry Fitzgerald Batting Practice Video: He Should Stick to Football

We hear so much about guys like Drew Brees killing it in celebrity softball games and others like Tim Tebow, Sidney Crosby, and Bryan Buluga mashing during batting practice that we tend to forget not all athletes have perfected every sport.  Going pro in one sport doesn’t necessarily mean you can hold your own in another, and Larry Fitzgerald recently became walking proof of that.  Have a look at the Larry Fitzgerald batting practice video, courtesy of SBNationArizona:

That is one ugly swing. Scratch baseball off the list of things Fitzy can do during an NFL lockout next season.  “I struck out about seven, eight times out there,” Fitzgerald told the Arizona Republic after the poor display. “It was embarrassing. This is definitely a gift I don’t possess.”

Kenny Britt Sacked by the LBS Nut Bag for Leading Police on Car Chase

If we were taking bets on which NFL wide receiver would be the next one to get arrested, I’m pretty sure I would have thrown money on Kenny Britt. If you run such a deranged pool, step on down because you can now collect your winnings. FOXSports.com reported late Tuesday evening that Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt was arrested on three charges after leading police on a chase in his hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey.

A sergeant at the Bayonne police department confirmed the arrest to LBS and told us Britt was charged with eluding a police officer (a felony), lying to an officer hindering apprehension, and obstructing governmental function (both misdemeanors). According to the police report which was described to LBS over the phone, Britt was doing 71mph in a 50-mph zone when an officer tried to stop his vehicle. Britt, who was driving a blue Porsche, kept driving and began weaving in and out of traffic. He later exited the freeway, and when police caught up to the vehicle, both Britt and his passenger were walking away from the car.

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Giovanni Carmazzi Is a Yoga-Exercising Farmer Who Owns Five Goats

Former Hofstra quarterback Giovanni Carmazzi was one of the six quarterbacks drafted ahead of Tom Brady in 2000, making him one of “The Brady Six” featured prominently in ESPN’s documentary. ESPN was able to interview five of the six quarterbacks selected ahead of Brady for their hour-long program, but Carmazzi, the former 3rd round pick of the 49ers, declined the interview.

Because they were turned down for the interview, ESPN decided to embarrass Carmazzi and ruin his reputation by slipping in a completely unnecessary nugget of information. At the end of the documentary, they explained that Carmazzi declined the interview he “does not own a television and declined to be interviewed. He lives two hours north of San Francisco, and describes himself as a yoga-exercising farmer. … He has five goats.” Here’s the video:

That is one of the lowest blows possible. Just because the dude didn’t want to talk you have to embarrass him like that? Nobody would have thought anything of Carmazzi (except that he’s a recluse) until the goats line was added. Now? He’s a national punchline amongst sports fans. I’m not even joking.

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Ray Lewis Says He Would Easily Beat Tom Zbikowski in Boxing Match

Everyone wants a piece of Tom Zbikowski.  Check that — everyone wants to act like they want a piece of him.  Football players hate the thought that they would lose a fight to someone or that there is someone out there that’s tougher than them.  Last month, it was Chad Ochocinco running his mouth (what else is new) and challenging Zbikowski, a professional boxer, to a fight.  Now, teammate Ray Lewis is getting in on the act.

Lewis told the NFL Network, via Pro Football Talk, that he would win a fight against Zbikowski hands down because of their weight differences.  In fact, he said it has been discussed in the locker room before and Tommy agrees with him.

“Zbikowski would lose,” Lewis said. “We’ve already talked about that. Zbikowski is a realist when it comes to the sport. The locker room talk is always that about who can beat who. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s not going to get in the ring with a 250-pound person. That’s crazy!”

No doubt Lewis could do some damage if he landed a haymaker or two, but let’s not forget Zbikowski is a legit boxer who is 3-0 in his career and 2-0 since the lockout.  He’s also scheduled to fight again in two weeks.  My guess is he would find a way to beat Lewis.  Considering he has a legitimate career going in the sport, there’s probably no need to waste his time trying.