Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone here's my Top 5 for January 6, 2012 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits
  • The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with four games scheduled.
  • The Jets fined linebacker Bart Scott $10,000 for shooting the bird to a photographer when the Jets were clearing out their lockers.
  • Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will succeed Joe Paterno as Penn State football coach.
  • Off a 2-5 start, the Sacramento Kings fire coach Paul Westphal and then overcome a 21-point halftime deficit to stun the Milwaukee Bucks 103-100.
  • $240 million doesn't buy what it used to. Among the perks in Albert Pujols' Angels contract are four free season tickets for the next decade.

2. The Playoffs

So are these the NFL playoffs or a month-long exercise to see which AFC team loses the Super Bowl? The NFC seems stacked; a handful of NFC teams could win it. I can't see anyone in the AFC, even Tim Tebow. Then again, ya never know. Just ask Eli Manning and David Tyree. Would you buy a New Orleans/Baltimore Super Bowl?

3. The Good Old Days

Does anybody else yearn for a simpler time when they played the Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange Bowls on New Year's Day? No, you haven't missed it. The Cotton Bowl is being played tonight. It's Arkansas against Kansas State. The bowl games and their attendant hoopla have seemingly lost their luster. I know, time marches on. They'll never go back to daytime World Series games either. But 25 years from now, will they refer to this current mishmash of college football games as the "good old days?" Doubtful.

4. Friday eMailbag

With Serena Williams saying she "never actually liked sports," R.K. writes, "Why should athletes have to love their jobs more than anyone else? I'm pretty confident that once you are there, in this TMZ age, being in the public eye isn't all that much fun and glamour."

When I mentioned Lou Carnesecca's 87th birthday yesterday, C.A. wrote, "I was always amazed that Lou never had a sweater endorsement deal. He is to sweaters what Bill Belichick is to hoodies."

When I wrote "Red Sox owner Harry Frazee defends selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees calling Ruth 'one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men ever to put on a baseball uniform,'" R.F. wrote, "It sounds like Jets tight end Dustin Keller describing Santonio Holmes."

As for Jets coach Rex Ryan doing away with captains for next season, S.L. writes on Facebook at "Len Berman's Top 5," "The Jets don't deserve to have captains. Their last real captain was Joe Namath."

And S.H. wrote, "Too bad the captain of the Titanic went down with the ship, he'd be a perfect fit."

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight helps get you ready for the NFL playoffs. Not a bad kick. Even better when you consider he's Jack Wilson, a free agent Major League infielder.
Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up, Thursday, January 26th in the 8:30 am half hour.

Happy Birthday: Golfer Nancy Lopez. 55.
Bonus Birthday: Brooklyn Dodgers great Ralph Branca. 86.

Today in Sports: Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was whacked on the knee after practice. The ex-husband of rival Tonya Harding was involved in planning the assault. 1994.
Bonus Event: And for you history buffs, Joan of Arc was born 600 years ago today. 1412.

To sign up for Len's free daily Top 5 email click here.

testPromoTitleReplace testPromoDekReplace Join HuffPost Today! No thanks.