Thursday, October 30, 2008

Detroit Lions "Encouraged" After Pass In Practice Gains 20 Yards

Allen Park, MI. (Oct. 30) - The winless Detroit Lions expressed guarded optimism after a pass in yesterday's practice from quarterback Dan Orlovsky to receiver Calvin Johnson gained a "good" 20 yards.

"It might have been more -- like maybe 22, 23 yards," said head coach Rod Marinelli. "But it was a good 20 yards, for sure."

After a succession of passes resulted in drops, interceptions, or just plain being thrown nowhere near a receiver, Orlovsky yelled, "Let's try one more!" before fading back in the pocket. He then let loose with a "pretty decent" spiral, according to Marinelli, which was slightly behind Johnson. But the second-year receiver, in an effort praised by those who saw it as "top notch", "brilliant", and "amazing", managed to catch it despite the pass's less-than-perfect location.

Though the pass came in "non-contact drills", meaning that no defenders were on the field at the time, the Lions released a statement in which the team said it was "encouraged" by the pass completion.

"This afternoon in practice, quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed a 20-to-25 yard pass to receiver Calvin Johnson. While we are encouraged by this achievement in the offense's development, there is still much work to do," the statement said.

After a series of chest bumps, high-fives and hugs, some of the offensive players dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Marinelli's head.

Practice, however, was extended moments later when the field goal unit failed to execute a snap. But Marinelli pointed out that punt returner Mike Furrey fair caught a punt "without incident", and that the team would keep "working hard."

When asked about his team's chances this Sunday at Chicago, Marinelli said, "Let's just see if we can do a damned handoff first, then come talk to me."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bad Economy Forces NBA To Charge For Foul Shots

New York, NY (Oct. 28) - Citing itself as another victim of a sluggish economy, the NBA announced yesterday that, effective immediately, it would be eliminating free throws.

Starting with tonight's regular season openers, players whistled for fouls will be charged a "nominal" fee for every foul shot taken as a result of their infractions.

"The NBA hasn't charged for foul shots since the league's inception in 1946," said league spokesman Mark Harrison. "We think that's pretty good. But these trying economic times have begun to effect us as a league, too. That means looking for other revenue streams."

The free throw has been a basketball institution since the sport's beginning. Harrison said he appreciates the shot's history, but "that and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee. Correction: that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee, nowadays."

Under the plan, hastily arranged amidst the release of the league's third quarter numbers, which showed a severe lack of basketball-generated revenue during games -- that is, revenue not tied to concession or beer sales -- every foul shot awarded before a team is in the penalty situation will come at a cost of $2.00 to the fouling player. After the penalty (fifth team foul in a quarter and beyond), each foul shot will cost the offending player $3.00.

Harrison said this would add anywhere from $50-60 into the NBA coffers per game. Multiplied by the 1,230 games played in a season league-wide, this amounts to anywhere between $61,500 and $73,800 per season.

"That's some change," Harrison said.

When reporters challenged him, wondering how $70,000 could make much of a difference in a league whose players salaries are in the millions, Harrison snapped, "Oh, so I guess you're all economy experts now, huh? Why don't you fix this financial crisis, economy experts?"

Early response to the elimination of free throws has been mixed.

"That's fine, but what about the guys on the bench?," wondered little-used Detroit Pistons guard Arron Afflalo. "We don't have the dough that the big dogs do, and we're the ones who commit the most fouls, per minute played. This sounds like trickle-down economics at its worst."

But Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James had another viewpoint.

"I'm tired of getting hacked all the time, man. Maybe now, those guys will think twice about bothering me as I go in for a layup," he said. James also scoffed at the notion that the fee is too small to make a difference. "NBA players are cheap. Trust me," he said.

The plan will also include cash registers on press row, complete with debit/credit card machines for convenient, on-site payment of fouling fees. To cushion the blow, Harrison said, each player will be allowed to choose which funny cartoon character appears on his Foul Card, ranging from Scooby Doo to Porky Pig. Fees will be collected after every quarter, with ball boys being assigned the additional duty of swiping all players' cards through the machines.

Harrison said that, depending on the success of the new fouling fees program, the league might consider charging TV analyst Bill Walton for every inane, self-contradicting thought that spills out of his mouth. Harrison said that such a move is attractive because of its "unlimited potential as a moneymaker."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chad Ocho Cinco To Change Number To 86

Cincinnati, OH. (Oct. 21) - Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco, formerly Chad Johnson, has changed his uniform number to 86, according to team officials.

"Eighty-five's not workin', ya know?," Ocho Cinco told reporters who gathered at his locker after the change was announced. "We don't got no wins, man."

The Bengals are 0-7.

Johnson earlier this year changed his name, legally, to Ocho Cinco in honor of the Spanish pronunciation of his uniform number, 85. When asked what this means now that his number is 86, Ocho Cinco stopped applying his underarm deodorant, gazed off into the distance for several seconds, then scowled.

"Aww, man! Damn!," he screamed, tossing the deodorant onto the floor.

Ocho Cinco was then seen scrambling toward his car, mumbling something about "calling my damn lawyer again."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Red Sox Hire Stephen King To Write Rest Of ALCS

Boston, MA. (Oct. 14) - Frustrated with their inability to shoo away the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox have struck a deal with horror story author and longtime Red Sox fan Stephen King to pen the remainder of the best-of-seven series.

The series, which the Rays now lead, 2-1, thanks to a 9-1 win in Game 3 in Boston, will now head for a bone-chilling, gripping climax that "only Stephen King can provide," according to Red Sox spokesman Matt Stewart.

"It's going to be something you'll never forget," Stewart said this morning at team headquarters. "There'll be internal struggles set as a backdrop to some pretty freaking scary plot devices," Stewart said, referring to King's script, which is "in process."

The best-selling author got the hurry-up call in the sixth inning of Game 3, instructed by Red Sox owner John Henry to "whip something up" in time for tonight's Game 4. Sources close to King said that the writer was up all night working on the treatment for the script of the rest of the series.

Red Sox fan and horror writer Stephen King does some research for his new ALCS project, set to debut tonight on Fox Sports

Insiders indicated that Rays outfielder B.J. Upton and rookie third baseman Evan Longoria will make a bad turn and wander into a dark, desolate part of the Tampa Bay clubhouse, where they will meet a "grisly yet ironic demise." The sources also told reporters to look for a crazed, deranged Red Sox fan who "will stop at nothing to further his agenda", as well as a subplot featuring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz's relationship with a female friend "careening out of control." Several different players, wives, girlfriends, and team officials will all have their lives intersect during the climactic Game 7 -- a game in which spectators will not be allowed admittance after the fourth inning.

King has told insiders that his vision for the rest of the series includes some of the games being played in thunderstorms and in the woods.

"This will be the Red Sox's best ALCS ever," Stewart crowed of King's involvement in the outcome.

Any Ray player or official, or umpire, who tries to interfere with King's version of the rest of the series will be captured and confined to a bed by Kathy Bates, Stewart said.

King's vehicle, titled Stephen King's ALCS: No Rays Of Light, will open at 8:07 p.m. tonight on Fox Sports.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rams' Punter: "Just Give Me the Damn Ball!"

St. Louis, MO. (Oct. 10) - St. Louis Rams punter Donnie Jones, frustrated over his team's 0-4 start, has issued an ultimatum to his teammates and coaches: Just give me the damn ball.

"I'm all about winning, man," Jones told reporters at an impromptu press conference after practice yesterday. "This isn't about Donnie Jones. Donnie Jones just wants to win. Donnie Jones wants what's best for the St. Louis Rams."

In that spirit, Jones says that the Rams' best chances of beating the Washington Redskins in Washington this Sunday lie on his right foot.

"I'll pooch punt those guys (Redskins) to death," Jones said, speaking animatedly. "Just get me to the 45 yard line. That's all I need. Then the game of field position will be ours. Totally. I'm not even joking."

Jones calls himself the Rams' "best chance" at victory

Jones said that as long as the Rams keep failing to convert third downs, the better off the team will be.

"I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this: Donnie Jones will win the game for the Rams if they just give Donnie Jones the ball on 4th down," Jones said before adding, "But you gotta get off the field, now. Donnie Jones can't help by standing on the sidelines."

Jones went so far as to make a suggestion "out of the box."

"If we have to punt on third down, second down, whatever, then I'm OK with that," he said. "Donnie Jones is ready, no matter what down it is."

Jones reasons that the more he punts, the less tired the Rams' offense will be, setting them up for some late-game heroics.

"The Redskins won't have no field position, that's for sure," Jones said brashly. "Then, late in the game, Donnie Jones is willing to stand on the sidelines on fourth down for a game-winning field goal."

When it was pointed out that the Rams have been outscored, 147-43, and haven't lost a game by less than 17 points thus far, Jones refused to back off his statements.

"That was before Donnie Jones asked for the ball, gentlemen," he said. "I got me some coffin corner kicks in my bag -- you just wait."

Jones then joined his Rams teammates in the locker room, who, upon being told of the punter's comments, savagely beat him. He's listed as "day-to-day."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

DeMarcus Ware: "I Don't WANT To Sack Anyone, But I Will If I Have To"

Dallas, TX. (Oct. 2) - Dallas Cowboys linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who was third in the NFL last year in sacks, says that performing that role is one that he doesn't relish, but realizes is necessary.

"Look, I don't WANT to sack anyone," Ware said after practice yesterday. "But I will if I have to. If quarterbacks would just learn to get rid of the damn ball. And if those offensive linemen would only learn how to handle my spin move and bull rush -- then none of this sacking business would be going on."

Ware expressed remorse at the number of sacks he has been accumulating -- 37.5 and counting in his young, four-year career -- and knows it must have a "terrible" effect on the quarterbacks, the linemen, and their families.

"I usually tell the dude after I've slammed his sorry ass into the turf after a sack: 'This hurts me a lot more than it hurts you'," Ware said. "But it's tough love, you know?"

Ware says he sometimes fantasizes of a world "where there would be no need for sacking and we could all just co-exist peacefully but competitively on the football field for all to see." But, he acknowledged, "That world is probably not likely in my lifetime. Maybe my children or grand-children will see it, though."

In Dallas's game against Washington last Sunday, Ware sacked Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.

"He felt awful," Campbell said of Ware. "His eyes welled up and he kind of choked out, 'Damn you, Jason Campbell! Why'd you make me go and do that?'"

Redskins tackle Chris Samuels, who Ware beat with an "up and under move" to sack Campbell, said Ware was quite apologetic.

An emotionally distraught DeMarcus Ware forces himself to sack another quarterback, much to his chagrin

"On the way back to the huddle he said, 'Chris -- please jam me under my neck with your forearm next time. Please -- I beg you'," Samuels said, recounting Ware's words. "He was really shaken. You could tell that sacking the quarterback gives him no pleasure at all. None."

Ware reiterated that yesterday. In fact, when shown video of the Campbell sack, Ware took a deep breath, sighed, looked skyward, and then squeezed his nose, between the eyes, to stop the stem of tears. Then he asked for a moment to compose himself before commenting.

"Look at me -- I'm a damn monster! A monster! Oh God, what have I done?," Ware screamed as he kicked over the television monitor. Moments later, Ware was hugged/restrained by head coach Wade Phillips, who was heard cooing, "It's OK, big guy" as Phillips stroked Ware's head.

"When I came to the Cowboys, I told them, 'I'm a good sacker, but I only do it if absolutely necessary'," Ware said, adding that he had hoped "other arrangements" could be made to stall the other team's passing attack.

"DeMarcus sees sacking the quarterback as an ostentatious display of his God-given speed, strength, and cat-like quickness," Phillips said after calming Ware down. "He feels like he shouldn't be exploiting what God has empowered him to do; in other words, a sack should be a last resort."

Ware said he can't believe the NFL hasn't come up with a "viable alternative" to the quarterback sack.

"What are we waiting for? For someone to get hurt?"

Ware said he would continue to do his job, but that he wishes it wouldn't have to come at the expense of anyone.

"I mean, those dudes are people, too," Ware said. "They have families. But don't they see that, before they let me bust through their weak protection schemes?"

Ware added that he almost wishes the NFL would outlaw the forward pass, thus eliminating the need for quarterback sacks altogether.

"A man can dream, can't he?," Ware said before strapping his helmet on and returning to the practice field, where he was later seen kicking backup quarterback Brad Johnson into unconsciousness, as punishment for failing to scramble out of Ware's grasp.