#bears WR Alshon Jeffrey is a beast on the field, but a gentleman with lovely ear bling in the real world where the rest of us live.

Interviewed #colts kicking legend Pat McAfee today. Not only is Pat hilarious, but he can bust a move. #9amDanceOff

                        2010 Gold Medal Game: Ecstasy and Agony 

In the newsroom at CSNNE just outside of Boston, I sat at my desk intently watching the United States and Canada duking it out for Olympic gold.  The place was Vancouver, the year 2010.  The task for the U.S., enormous.  The pressure for the Canadians to win the gold medal on home ice, insurmountable. 

Four years later, it remains the best hockey game I have ever seen.  The intense pace, paired with a display of both physical and finesse style from the world’s best on skates created a palpable, electric energy that shot right out of the Rogers Centre, through the television set and into the veins of those watching at home.  

Even when the Canadians led by a score of 2-0, there was never a feeling that the U.S. was out of the running, it was just that close.  When Zach Parise’s goal with a mere 24 ticks on the clock tied the game for the U.S., our skeleton weekend crew at the office erupted in the newsroom.  The feeling of exhilaration for the game itself, and the success of one’s country was phenomenal.  

U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller took a beating in the overtime period, somehow diverting shot after shot, away from the net thus preserving the game and giving his team a chance to pull a massive, upset win.  Miller had, after all, been the most outstanding player throughout the hockey tournament.

There would be no second “Miracle on Ice,” at least not that Sunday afternoon.  Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal in overtime.  The best player in the world scored an incredible goal in the most exciting hockey game ever played in the country that birthed the sport.  It was the only way, right? Right.

I sat at my desk, in tears.  

The tears were not because my nation’s team lost.   No, not at all.  The tears were two-fold.  They represented the joy that sport is capable of eliciting and also, the sorrow that it couldn’t last forever.  All good things must come to an end, and boy, that game was fun while it lasted.  

Four years later, just a few days before the Olympic hockey tournament begins, players from both teams reflect back to that Sunday in February.  They remember it as if it were yesterday… 

It’s been real Oklahoma. Thank you to Naismith and Wooden Award winner, and of course 1988 NCAA National Champion Danny Manning for sitting down with me and taking a stroll down March Madness memory lane. Huge thanks to Eric Hollier and the Tulsa athletic department as well as our local camera/audio crew. It was fun!

Well, I finally got mad on TV. Yikes!!! If you’re in LA, check out Going Roggin on KNBC Ch4 here in LA. Tim Cates of Fox Sports Radio’s Petros & Money show and I didn’t exactly agree on much of what’s happening these days in the sports world. I promise you one thing about this episode. You’ll be entertained. Tune in at midnight tonight, aka Sunday/Monday morning for debate about the Super Bowl, all things hockey, Friday Night Tykes, the Olympics and much more! As always, thanks for watching.

                The Sherman Effect: The Proof Is In The Pudding 

Richard Sherman.

If you’ve had enough, or aren’t interested in yet another Sherm discussion, feel free to take a pass on this blog post.  Countless media outlets have covered some angle relating to the Seattle Seahawks cornerback’s on-field interview with Erin Andrews following the NFC Championship game over the last several days, so I fully intended on staying out of the cluster.  Why bother, right?

Well, I now feel compelled to jump in on the action for two reasons. 

A) new “evidence” has emerged as to what exactly went on between Sherman and 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree on the last play of the NFC Championship game, prompting Sherm’s jacked-up mini-rant, and

B) the vocabulary used to describe Sherman says a lot about our country in general and specifically, certain individuals who used such words.  

The above video comes to us care of NFL Films and NFL Network.  As you know, NFL Films places microphones on coaches and players during games throughout the season, creating a “Sound FX” segment that gives viewers a great insight as to what really went down between the hash marks.  

If you start 40 seconds into the video above, you’ll see that Sherman approaches Crabtree after the game-ending play, pats him on the butt and says, “hell of a game.”  Crabtree’s response was to shove his hand in Sherman’s face.  

Someone in Crabtree’s corner knows a hell of a lot about excitedly greeting an opponent after you’ve beat them.  Remember when 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh gave then-Lions head coach Jim Schwartz a bit of an aggressive good-game-smack on the chest back in 2011?  If your memory of the ensuing brawl is a bit fuzzy click this link to watch the video.

Many, many things were said about Harbaugh and Schwartz after that debacle, but one word I don’t recall hearing about either coach was “thug.”  

Sherman, on the other hand, has been absolutely hammered for his excited utterance into the lens of a Fox camera within seconds of earning his first trip to the Super Bowl (to be played against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2).  

Thug, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a violent criminal,” and “a brutal ruffian or assassin.”  

Deadspin posted a story showing usage of the word “thug” on television went through the roof on Monday, following the NFC title game Sunday evening.  The article even broke down usage of the word by television market.  In the least surprising part of the story, Boston led the nation in “thug” chatter, with WEEI radio’s good’ol boys Dennis & Callahan dropping a thug-bomb assault on their listeners during a discussion about Sherman.   Those dudes…SMH.  

So…. Harbaugh and Schwartz are jerks, loud mouths, out of control, etc.  Sherman is a thug (which by definition, is a murderer).  Why the distinction?

Common sense tells us that two of these things are not like the other.  The aforementioned coaches are white, and Sherman is black.  It’s a fairly simple (and upsetting) truth. 

Richard Sherman agrees with that assessment and pointed out the hypocrisy in a recent press conference. 

Sherman said that some folks are now using “thug” as a substitute for the N-word, and by golly, he’s right!  When Sherman retires from football, he should immediately jump into the sports media business because he’s entertaining, intelligent, and comes up with great talking points.  

"There was a hockey game [Flames vs. Canucks] where they didn’t even play hockey,” Sherman said on the subject of his new “thug” label during the press conference.

"They just threw the puck aside and started fighting.  I saw that, and said, ‘Oh man, I’m the thug? What’s going on here?’"

Sadly, I think we all know the answer.  

                      Eddie the Eagle Soars To Olympic Fame

Eddie Edwards’ journey to the 1988 Calgary Games is one of my favorite Olympics-related stories.  Eddie was basically the worst ski jumper of all the athletes participating in the competition in ‘88, yet he’s easily the most memorably jumper from those Games.

Remember when the Olympics were kinda, sorta, about true amateurs representing their nation and a passion for the sport?  Ok, I don’t either, but if I did, Eddie would epitomize that ideal.  

Watch and enjoy the video above in which Yahoo Sports catches up with Eddie, who after all these years, remains a hero in the UK and beyond.

From Yahoo Sports:

Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards did not land a medal at the 1988 Calgary Games, but losing at the Olympics made him a winner in the end as the world fell in love with the comically inept British ski jumper.

These two couldn’t care less about football. They are fans of the @dodgers blanket though. #SDvsDEN

Memorable Moments: Katarina Witt skates for gold during turbulent times

Yahoo Sports’ “Memorable Moments” franchise is back in action with 10 mini-doc episodes featuring the best moments in Winter Olympics history.

The first episode of the series is about Katarina Witt, one of the greatest figure skaters in the history of the sport.  

"Witt captivated the world with warmth and grace on Olympic ice despite a cold political climate in her native East Germany. During a storied skating career that included heated rivalries and close finishes, Witt transcended athletics becoming a figure of German diplomacy." 

Original Link:  http://sports.yahoo.com/video/memorable-moments-katarina-witt-skates-214837821.html?soc_src=copy

                       Happy New Year From PepperOnSports

KTLA in Los Angeles will be broadcasting the 125th Rose Parade live from Pasadena on New Years Day.  Shortly before the 6:30pm newscast on New Years Eve, KTLA reporter Kacey Montoya tweeted this photographic gem.  

Yep, this little Lakers fan and his puppy are spooning on the sidewalk, both fast asleep on Colorado Blvd resting up for an early morning full of excitement, flowers and fun.  

I’m not sure what, if any attachment the rest of the country has to Rose Parade, but here in Southern California, the unique annual event brings a sweet and special feel to L.A. natives like myself.  

I wanted to share this photo because it includes two of my favorite aspects of life; sports and animals (you’re cute too, kid!). 

Thanks to everyone who reads PepperOnSports.com.  I sincerely appreciate your support, interest and interaction.  I hope you all enjoyed 2013 and that 2014 turns out to be even better.  Have a safe and happy New Year :) 

#lakers lost 4 straight heading into tonight’s game vs 76ers. If they keep it up, maybe there’s a chance…

The 2013 MLB season was the steepest of roller coasters for the Los Angeles Dodgers as the team was down in the dumps with Matt Kemp injured and manager Don Mattingly on the verge of being kicked off the ride completely…until rookie phenom Yasiel Puig was called up from the minors in June.  Everything seemed to click for the boys in blue once Puig showed up as the then 22-year-old injected life into the clubhouse by way of hits, incredible plays in the outfield, home runs, wins and laughter.  With Puig on the roster, his teammates Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe each hit their stride.  The Dodgers were riding the highest of highs for nearly the remainder of the regular season.  It was truly magical. 

Before arriving in Los Angeles, the Cuban defector who had been signed by the Dodgers to a $42 million contract, ran into legal trouble while driving recklessly in Chattanooga, TN, the town where he played for the minor league affiliate Lookouts.

Puig took a pounding in the media after taking the old boys club (aka MLB) by storm, walking into the big league like he owned the place, which rubbed many folks the wrong way. 

During the height of Puigmania in August, I appeared on KNBC’s sports news and debate show “Going Roggin,” hosted by legendary L.A. sports anchor Fred Roggin.  Naturally, Fred posed several Puig-related questions to 710 ESPN Radio’s J. Woodfin and I, most of which concerned his behavior and the potential risk assumed by the Dodgers with Puig on the roster.

The video clip above while from August, has once again become relevant as Puig was recently arrested (yet again) for reckless driving, this time in Florida.

I hate to say “I told you so,” but my Mom totally called this.  As you’ll see in the video, my Mom was concerned for Puig in the way that mothers are.  It wasn’t about x’s and o’s for her, but instead, about protecting Puig from turning into a young, rich, ego-maniacal idiot.  Ugh. 

Having watched the entire Dodgers season from beginning to end, I can without hesitation say that Yasiel Puig was easily the best thing to happen to baseball last season.  Love him or hate him, Puig was incredibly entertaining, giving fans (and his teammates and manager) butterflies every time he stepped up to the plate, or saw a deep ball heading his way. 

It would be a shame for the sports world if the Dodgers can’t find a way to help Puig stay out of trouble and focus his energy in a positive way. 

P.S. Paging Mark McGuire… do you have a couch Puig can sleep on?  I think it’s time for a “host family” right about now.  If you’re confused, just watch the video. 

It’s that time of year again.  You know, that point in which NBA center Andrew Bynum’s name finds its way back into the headlines with a seemingly purposeful mission to smear the person and talents he once possessed.  For example…

Kobe’s grocery store insult.
The clothesline.
Bad knees.
Operator-error car trouble.
Bad hair day(s).
Bowling.
Crappy neighbors.

The list goes on and on, which brings us to the present.  Bynum,  a former All-Star and two-time NBA Champion has been suspended indefinitely by his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers for conduct detrimental to the team.

Gotta love how Bynum was able to sneak one last scandal in before 2014.  Kudos.  

Anyway, Yahoo Sports is reporting that a big issue with the 26-year-old is the fact that he just isn’t interested in playing basketball anymore.  The game isn’t his cup of tea, a notion those of us in L.A. who watched Bynum with the Lakers have considered for years.

The man who perhaps best understands this situation is Laker-legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  One of the best big men to ever play the game, Abdul-Jabbar coached Bynum from the time he was drafted by the Lakers right out of high school in 2005 until 2009, when the organization reduced the six-time NBA Champion’s role with the team

Abdul-Jabbar took to his Facebook page Sunday, addressing the situation surrounding his former pupil.

"I believe Andrew has always had the potential to help a team when he puts his heart into it. He just doesn’t seem to be consistent with his commitment to the game. That can lead to a lot of frustration for any team that has signed him.

"When I worked with Andrew I found him to be bright & hardworking but I think he got bored with the repetitive nature of working on basketball fundamentals day in and day out… but they are the keys to long term success.

"In my opinion Andrew is the type of person who walks to the beat of "a different drummer". So we won’t know the facts until Andrew decides to tell us what actually is the issue and shares his thoughts. @KAJ33"

This strikes a few chords.  Abdul-Jabbar had the reputation of beating to “a different drummer” for decades and like Bynum, hails from the East Coast.  While playing for the Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar buried himself in books and literature while Bynum spent free time building computers in the home he shared with his mother. Both men were considered unconventional NBA players when it came to off-the-court personality.

A fundamental difference between the two is love for the game of basketball, which became apparent to Abdul-Jabbar while working with Bynum (and doing a damn fine job if I may editorialize).  

After Bynum was shipped to Philadelphia in the Lakers’ trade for Dwight Howard in 2012, Abdul-Jabbar told Lakers beat writer Mark Medina, “Andrew has been up and down on that issue [of commitment and winning]. There are times he wants to play, do a great job and he goes out and does it. Then there are other times where it seems like he’s not focused.”

Any professional athlete will tell you that without the proper incentives (enjoyment of the sport, public notoriety, and big-time paychecks, just to name a few), the strenuous physical and mental dedication to the craft just ain’t worth it.  

It appears that the benefits of being a professional basketball player are no longer worth the time and effort for Bynum.  For the sake of his teammates, fans, and Bynum himself, hopefully the still-young man will set his sights on a new, more enjoyable career that keeps him out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons.  

 

Park City trip was a success. Great crew w/ RJ & Mike and a fantastic interview w/ Olympic legend Dr. Eric Heiden. The best thing about Eric is the fact that what he did in the 1980 Games was just the beginning of a career in athletics and more importantly, helping people using medicine and surgery. His story embodies the epitome of the Olympic spirit.

You know what time it is… Another episode of Going Roggin on KNBC channel 4 is coming your way this weekend. FS1 analyst and former Florida St. QB Chris Rix and I will duke it out with Fred Roggin officiating. We’ll grade all of LA’s sports teams for the year of 2013 plus talk about how Kobe’s top dollar contract will impact the Lakers’ future. Plus we’ll debate baseball’s proposed rule change, the new sport of Chess Boxing and much more! Tune in at 3pm this Saturday and again at midnight on Sunday/Monday. As always, thanks for watching :)