There is something in the air. A virus of sports weirdness, perhaps. I’m not looking for a vaccine because it’s fun. Different.
I mean, how often does the national sporting conversation get hijacked by a controversy over whether a team about to play in a Super Bowl deflates footballs slightly below regulations? It might be the biggest ridiculous faux scandal since that time President Barack Obama was photographed drinking a beer.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have played the Three Wise Monkeys less one, standing in front of the gathered media to impart that they see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and deflate no footballs.
A frustrated Brady declares, “This isn’t ISIS. Nobody is dying,” alluding to the murderous Islamic State jihadists.
Never miss a local story.
Now the deflated ball is in the NFL’s court as the beleaguered league dutifully investigates whether in this case sportsmanship is dying, and weighs notorious incidents of players’ domestic abuse against a Super Bowl team cheating on the embarrassment scale.
Meanwhile, “Deflategate” provides the media another handy “-gate” reference as the ghost of Richard Nixon says, “You’re welcome.”
If only the virus of sports weirdness was confined to this.
Golfer Robert Allenby tells a tale of being robbed, beaten and dumped in a park miles away after missing a cut in Hawaii. Then out come details of hours of drinking at a wine bar, and then a strip club, and then a homeless witness suggesting a drunk Allenby fell beak first onto a large rock and then made up a story.
You don’t hear that every day. Or often enough, really.
And then Hope Solo gets suspended by U.S. Soccer for being in the vehicle when her husband was stopped for DUI. Which might not have been that bad if they weren’t in a U.S. soccer team van at the time. Or if you didn’t wonder how drink-y Hope might have been if hubby was the designated driver.
Did I mention that Tiger Woods’ front tooth went missing under mysterious circumstances? He says a cameraman accidentally knocked it out while in Italy to watch girlfriend Lindsay Vonn in a World Cup ski race. But then a race official insisted no such incident occurred.
It is a strange week when the estranged girlfriend of NASCAR star Kurt Busch files a restraining order, questioning his mental state, and Busch counters with a claim that the woman is a hired assassin — and that isn’t the oddest thing you heard this week.
Keep the weirdness coming, sports!
▪ Dolphins owner Stephen Ross touted the $350 million stadium renovations now under way are designed to attract Super Bowls and other events. Dear Steve: The only change in the stadium Dolfans really want is a winning team in it.
▪ The Jets hired away Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. And Miami’s best rivalry — any sport — gathers a little more steam.
▪ Former Hurricanes football star Calais Campbell donated $1.6 million to UM athletics, the most ever by an ex-athlete. Perpetually dissatisfied Canes fans complained it wasn’t enough.
▪ A UM fan standing courtside shoved a North Carolina State player during a Miami win here last week. See, not all Canes fans are complainers. At least one of them is just an idiot.
▪ Rob Manfred officially takes over Sunday from Bud Selig as MLB commissioner. Selig did well in his 23 years other than having the Steroids Era bloom, which is a little like saying Nixon was a good president other than Watergate.
▪ The NFL will experiment with longer extra points with narrower uprights in Sunday’s Pro Bowl. By the way, so many players drop out of the Pro Bowl with lame injuries that the starting AFC tight end is you. (Hopefully they told you.)
▪ A Seattle company offers a “Beast Mode Sausage” with Skittles in honor of Marshawn Lynch’s favorite candy. One side effect, though. Eat one and you refuse to answer questions.
▪ The NBA fined Dwyane Wade $15,000 for a middle-finger gesture at heckling Charlotte fans. The league didn’t buy his explanation that he was complimenting the hecklers by telling them, “You’re No.1!”
▪ The Heat, struggling to stay on a playoff pace, is back in action Sunday at Chicago after beating the Indiana Pacers here Friday in the How the Mighty Have Fallen Bowl.
▪ Looks as if Kobe Bryant might miss the rest of the season with a shoulder issue. Doctors have ruled out that the injury occurred from excessive passing.
▪ The Panthers resume NHL play Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings on a four-game losing streak and seven points off the playoff pace. Lord Stanley can still see the Cats on his radar, but he’s squinting.
▪ Congrats to retiring FIU women’s basketball coach Cindy Russo on a successful 36-year career at the school. Perspective? That’s 10 more years than that slacker Don Shula coached the Dolphins.
▪ Parting thought: Madame Tussauds on Saturday unveiled a Dan Marino wax statue. It’s an exact likeness down to every detail. For example, the wax Marino isn’t wearing a Super Bowl ring, either. (Ouch! Too soon?)
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Today: All-stars. The NHL All-Star Game and NFL’s Pro Bowl both are Sunday. The Dolphins and Panthers who have been selected the most:
QB Dan Marino
QB Bob Griese
OT Richmond Webb
LB Zach Thomas
Six each: Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Langer, Jason Taylor
G John Vanbiesbrouck
RW Pavel Bure
D Sandis Ozolinsh
D Jay Bouwmeester
G Roberto Luongo
What South Florida sports fans are talking about:
“Deflategate” dominates buildup to Super Bowl: It’ll be New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in the 49th Super Bowl, but the buildup has become an NFL nightmare with the Pats’ underinflated-footballs controversy. At least attention is diverted away from whether Marshawn Lynch will be fined again for grabbing his crotch.
Wade’s streak of All-Star Game starts ends: Forbes surprised many when its rank of best NBA fans had Miami No. 1. That was just before Heat fans allowed Dwyane Wade’s streak of nine All-Star Game starts to end as a late flurry of votes by Toronto fans pushed Kyle Lowry ahead. No word on whether Forbes will now reconfigure its rankings.
Active offseason continues as Fish add Ichiro: With the Feb. 20 start of spring training looming, the Marlins continued an active and successful offseason by signing 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year contract as a fourth outfielder. Granted, Ichiro is 41 now and this signing would be more exciting if it were 2005, not ’15. But still!
4. ALL-STAR GAMES
NFL, NHL stars showcased Sunday: Hockey’s All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, and the football Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, have more in common than the fact both are being played Sunday and each has undergone format changes. For example, they are also alike in that the leagues pretend they are big deals but fans don’t really care.
Annual Miami Marathon was Sunday morning: OK, you got me. Nobody is talking about this except the runners themselves. But there were some 25,000 of those setting off early Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon starting at 6:15 a.m. Too bad it’s not in South Beach so the runners could stampede over all the drunks leaving SoBe clubs at about that time.