Another set of the Olympic Games have come and gone. I very much enjoyed watching the London events even if I didn’t catch as much as I wanted to. The neat thing about the Olympics is how we’re all on the same team. Your entire country is rooting for your team, it’s not just your city. It’s amazing how these games bring us together as fans.
Back in the Beijing Olympics, our hometown hero, Michael Phelps (Baltimore represent), was poised to make history. Mark Spitz owned a 36-year-old record with seven gold medals captured in a single Olympic Games. It was common knowledge Phelps went to Beijing with one goal, to sweep his events with gold medals.
On August 17, 2008 the Baltimore Ravens hosted a home preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. As far as preseason games go, crowds tend to thin out almost completely after half time. Not that night, the Ravens organization planned to simulcast Michael Phelps’ final event, the 4x100-meter medley relay, on the jumbotron at the conclusion of the game.
Thousands endured a heated battle between Tarvaris Jackson and Kyle Boller. It turned out to be worth it. Watching Michael Phelps win his eighth medal with thousands of cheering fans is something I’ll never forgot. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I tried my best to capture the sentiment in the accompanied video. There are many skills I can list on my resume, cinematographer is not one of them.
“Every memory I have from when I was a kid involves basketball.”
— Kevin Durant
It’s cliche but this kid eats, sleeps and breathes basketball. It’s good to see KD and crew get their gold.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet
— Foster The People, Pumped Up Kicks
Gail Devers. Those fingernails. How can an Olympic athlete have finger nails that long? Well, when you Gail Devers you can do just about anything you want.
Devers came out of high school ranked as one of the top hurdlers in the country. She set a national record in the 100 meter hurdles and earned a spot on the 1988 Olympic team. While training for the Seoul Olympics she started to experience muscle pains and drop in weight. She was eliminated in the semi-finals with her slowest time since high school. Experts said that she practiced too hard, she put too much strain on her body.
But after the Olympics she felt worse. She started to lose her hair and hearing, her nails stopped growing and her skin fell away from her face. For the next two years nobody could diagnose her illness. Eventually she was treated for Graves disease and underwent radiation therapy. Complications from the radiation led her unable to walk. Doctors considered amputating her feet.
Gail Devers overcame all odds and recovered in time to compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She qualified for the 100 meter sprint and captured the gold in an unbelievable photo finish. Four years later she represented the USA in Atlanta and took home another two gold medals. Like I said, Gail Devers can do whatever she wants.
And I’m back to tear it up
Haters, start your engines
I hear ‘em gearin’ up
People talk so much shit about me at barbershops
They forget to get their haircut
— Kanye West, Everything I Am
All this talk about how he isn’t the same Michael Phelps we saw in Beijing. They’re right, this isn’t the same swimmer. But you’d be crazy to expect a 2008 repeat of eight gold medals or a 2004 haul of six gold and two bronze.
Michael Phelps is four years older and by all accounts less medal hungry. Yet Phelps just anchored a gold-medal relay to capture his Olympic-record 19th medal. The reports of Phelps’ death are greatly exaggerated.
At the risk of sounding corny I am going to admit John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” gives me goosebumps. We’ve been waiting for this. Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte, Usain Bolt on a fast track, T-Rex, teenaged Tom Daley, and these guys — I’m all in. And what better compliments than Joe Posnanski’s blog from London and NBC Olympic Live Extra for my iPad?
Baseball is in full swing (the trade deadline is only a week away), the NBA’s offseason thus far has been a circus and the Summer Olympics are starting. Meanwhile I can’t stop reading about training camps.
I’m a slave to the shield.
T-Rex isn’t her real name. Her real name is Claressa. Friends and family just call her Ressa. She’s from Flint, Michigan, and next year she’ll be a senior in high school. The first day we met, it was her 17th birthday. She had a water balloon fight and a big, yellow cake. She carries her money around in a plastic bottle. She wears her hair in braids (sometimes). She takes the bus to school. She likes Twitter. She likes boys. She writes in her journal. Pretty everyday for a teenager. But this is hardly an everyday story. Six years ago her dad took her to a local boxing gym. She said she wanted to box. He said, “Hell no. Boxing is a man’s sport.” She ignored him. Next month, women will box in the Olympics for the first time ever. Claressa will be the youngest among them. And that’s just where her story begins.
I cannot wait to watch her in the Olympics.
Happy Friday the 13th. Happy birthday Jason Voorhees. It was actually last month, June 13, 1946. So a belated happy birthday to Mr. Voorhees.
Jason was an unstoppable silent killer and in my book the coolest movie monster of all time. He died time and time again but was always coming back. Jason was reanimated by lightning, telekinesis, electricity (again) and Freddy Kruger. At one point Jason didn’t even have the need for a physical body, the FBI blew his old body apart in Jason 9. Anyways, I think you get it — coolest movie monster ever.
One can only assume that former Eagles cornerback, Sheldon Brown, is in the same camp (Camp Crystal Lake). See what I did there? In 2009 the Philadelphia Eagles hosted a home game against Drew Brees and the Saints. During pregame introductions Sheldon emerged from the smokey tunnel wearing a Jason mask. It wasn’t Friday the 13th or even Halloween, rather a normal Sunday game during late September. Everyone was kind of puzzled and Sheldon didn’t help offer any explanation. When asked why he wore the mask he responded with the following.
“I don’t want to talk about it. That’s the way my career has been and I’ll let you figure that out.”
Deep stuff but I tend to think he was just paying homage to the unstoppable slashing machine that is Jason Voorhees. That or he was just calling back to the time he almost ended Reggie Bush’s life.
Just like I remembered only this time it’s six stories tall. For the Los Angeles X-Games, Hot Wheels built a real life Double Loop Dare track. 125 tons of steel and neon orange plywood set a record for world’s largest double loop. Cars reached a top speed of 52 mph which equated to a G-Force of seven. It’s no Hell Track but it’s certainly a read representation of the toy inspiration.
Randy Johnson was a nasty, gritty, durable pitcher. He pushed down cameramen and exterminated birds with extreme prejudice but above all else he was intimidating. The Big Unit stood 6-foot-10, with a low release point and a biting slider that was truly terrifying.
The 1997 All-Star Game took place in Cleveland’s Jacobs Field. One of the hottest hitters in the league was the Rockies all-star representative, Larry Walker. Earlier in the season the Rockies met the Mariners for a regular season Interleague game. In this particular game Larry Walker was hitting at .398 clip and Randy Johnson was scheduled to pitch. Flirting with four hundred, Larry declined to face mean old Randy and secure his red hot average. However, in the second inning of the All-Star Game there was no avoiding Randy Johnson. Larry, a left-handed hitter himself, stepped up to the plate and met the tall lefty on the mound. The first pitched sailed right over his head.
“It was kind of humid out there. The ball just slipped out of my hand. You saw it. I went right to the resin bag. I guess it was kind of apropos that it slipped while Larry Walker was up.”
— Randy Johnson
Larry got the gag and knew just how to play it. He stepped out of the box, turned his batting helmet backwards and moved into the right side of the box. The joke was on Randy, Larry took three more balls and eventually drew a walk.
(Source: Sports Illustrated)
In 1964 I was sitting in the back seat of his car on the way to Bears training camp at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana while he and my father were discussing personnel and objectives for the team. I caught him staring at me in the rear view mirror, noticing how intently I was trying to follow the conversation. He turned to me at one point and said: “That’s great you want to learn about the team, I think it’s time you learn your first cuss word.”
After a slight pause, Halas looked at my father for approval (not that he needed it). He continued: “You can only use this word on a really bad person, someone you really hate or who did something very very bad.” He then made me acknowledge that I understood, to which I responded: “Yes, Coach!” After what seemed like the longest minute ever, he turned around and said one word with an intensity that I had never seen: “PACKER.” And then he added: “Don’t tell your mom I told you!”
Sports Illustrated’s senior football writer, Peter King, is on vacation and Washington Redskins GM Bruce Allen filled in this week. Bruce shared this childhood anecdote about the late, great George Halas teaching him his first cuss word.
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report