Sorry I haven't written in awhile, folks. Last week, I was in not-so-sunny San Diego for a Special Olympics meeting. This past week, the flu bug hit me--and hit me BIG. But now I’m back and, hopefully, better than ever.
*Saturday, February 16, 2008 was the re-airing of the 2007 Ironman Triathlon World Championship from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. For those of you who are unaware, the Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and finishes off with a full 26.2-mile marathon run. The Ironman is the greatest test for any athlete, but the real stories involve the "average Joes" that come from all walks of life to cross the finish line. You see, you have to get to the finish line before the course is closed at midnight to be considered an "Ironman." This year, the show focused on four remarkable stories: a person with Cystic fibrosis, another who is blind, and also a person who was born with no feet. The last person was a young man who was in a car accident and was on the brink of death--but came back to become an Ironman. The Ironman is the best-written event all year and has won 14 sports Emmy awards over the years. As I've said in this column beofre, I cry each year I see it and it gives me more motivation than any other event I watch on a yearly basis.
*The NBA slam-dunk contest is back! Dwight Howard and Gerald Green truly put on a show. Green’s 'birthday dunk' featured him placing a cupcake (with a lit candle) on the back on the rim and then blowing the candle out before doing a dunk--which was so creative. I thought it was a 10! Howard is a man beast; the 'superman dunk' was just so awesome. He didn't even dunk the ball; he threw it in and jumped SO high. This was the best dunk contest in many years. You'd have to go back to the late ‘80’s with Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Spud Webb to see any slam dunk contest quite like the most recent one during the NBA's All-Star weekend. I hope these kids come back next year to put on an even better show.
*Breaking News: Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers is retiring after 13 seasons and 3 MVP awards. Brett Favre is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. I'll have more on this in a later column.
*The question on ESPN last week was this: If you were an NFL GM, would you build your team through the draft or free agency? I would build through free agency because the draft is such a crapshoot these days. In fact, the NFL draft is the biggest unknown in sports. You can evaluate players all you want but no one ever quite knows how good a player will be as a pro. There are so many stories of first-round draft busts that I would trade all my first day picks to get more on the second day. Remember, Tom Brady was a fifth-round pick. On a side note, it was good to see Randy Moss re-sign with the Pats. He and Brady have unfinished business--like winning a championship.
*This week’s spotlight comes from Dave Reynolds of the Inclusion Daily Express:
CHERRY HILL, NEW JERSEY--His teammates call him "B-Rad." Nineteen-year-old Brad Hennefer is a celebrity at Cherry Hill East High School. He's one of a growing number of examples of what can happen when students with disabilities are included in their schools and school athletics. Hennefer is also believed to be the only student-athlete with Down syndrome in the country to earn letters in two varsity sports --basketball and golf. "I'm a very good shooter, good behind the black lines," he told WPVI-TV recently. He's not joking, either. This week, ABC News ran video from a recent game, showing the 5-foot 10-inch, 155-pound Hennefer making a clean three-pointer at the closing buzzer. "All the kids in basketball, they look at me and are proud of me," he said. In golf, Hennefer has a mean 280-yard tee shot that his teammates envy. Hennefer said that after high school, he plans to go on to college to work in business or on computers. "Nothing Brad does surprises us," said his dad, Bob. "Being a part of a team is always a kid's dream. And it's been great for him."
That’s my take, I like to hear yours.