Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone here's my Top 5 for January 20, 2012 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The NFC and AFC Championship Games are Sunday.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals continue to lead the league in miscreants. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson was indicted for marijuana trafficking, a felony.
  • Jets owner Woody Johnson says both Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be back despite their differences. Guaranteed money has nothing to do with it, wink wink.
  • The game of the night, LeBron James shook off flu-like symptoms scoring 31 points as the Heat beat the Lakers in Miami 98-87.
  • Champion freestyle skier, Canadian Sarah Burke, has died from injuries suffered in a training accident last week. She was 29.

2. The Final Four

To drop a name, Phil Simms once told me the entire game of football is the pressure or lack thereof on the quarterback. Of course that was from the perspective of a quarterback. But using his yardstick, that's how Sunday's games should be decided. Can Baltimore pressure Tom Brady? If not, game over. And in the NFC, which defense pressures which quarterback more? I'm not making predictions here. The ball and ref's flag (not to mention blown calls and replays) can take funny bounces. But when they start talking about keys to the game, sure establishing a running game is nice. And yes you don't want to turn the ball over. But most of all, you want the opposing quarterback to run for his life.

3. Gary Carter

Gary Carter's brain tumors have taken a turn for the worse. How sad. It seems like only yesterday he started that game six 10th-inning rally for the Mets in the 1986 World Series. He was quoted as saying, "I wasn't making the last out of the ----ing World Series" There was no more affable or cooperative athlete. Most of all, his niceness was genuine. Keep on swinging Gary. And let's say a prayer for "The Kid" who's only 57 years old.

4. Friday eMailbag

I asked yesterday if abusive fan behavior is all about alcohol? P.V. responded, "I think there is more than alcohol involved. It's related to a general loss of civility in our society. Read any comments posted about any article on any website -- the vast majority is of little intellectual value and are more the rants and insults of an anonymous society against one another."

K.F. didn't care for the NFL's press release trying to justify the blown replay in Green Bay last Sunday. He writes, "The incredible, intelligence-insulting statement from the NFL attempting to justify the screw-up reminded me of those tobacco executives who, with straight faces, told Congress that they didn't believe cigarettes are addictive."

As for Joe Paterno's first interview in the Washington Post, H.G. writes, "Still feel the same...he was more worried about his image and the school, not about a child his grandkid's age."

Subscriber M.S. clearly favors one of the two New York football coaches. He writes, "In the Giants-Cowboys game, with the whole season on the line for both teams, and with Tom Coughlin's job in jeopardy, he benched Ahmad Bradshaw for the first half. (For breaking a team rule.) What would Rex Ryan have done? He pretended he didn't know that Captain Holmes was sitting on the bench after he acted up. Ryan likes to talk tough, but Coughlin is the real deal."

And when I wrote that some New Zealand farmers think that sheep shearing would make a good Olympic sport, S.B. wrote, "Saw the sheep shearing video, and I actually thought it was more exciting than the second half of the Patriots-Broncos game. So don't try to pull the wool over our eyes."

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from Kentucky. Lindsey Wilson College beats Georgetown College at the buzzer. The announcer gets a tad excited.
Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up: Thursday January 26th in the 8:30am half hour.

Happy Birthday: The new manager of the Miami Marlins Ozzie Guillen. 48.
Bonus Birthday: Comedian/Commentator Bill Maher. 56.

Today in Sports: Matt Bahr's field goal with no time left against the champion 49ers propels the Giants to Super Bowl XXV. 1991.
Bonus Event: President Bill Clinton is sworn in. 1993.

Fun Fact: The Top 5 email was opened this week in China, Portugal, Indonesia, Vietnam and 49 states. But again not once in Montana.

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