Memo to those vacationing in New York: leave your piece at home. Former New York Giant wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Plaxico Burress was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of an unlicensed firearm. He’ll likely serve at least 20 of those 24 months. The penalty may seem excessive when compared to Michael Vick, who served two years for running an illegal dog ring, and Donte Stallworth, who was imprisoned 24 days for killing someone while drunken driving, but New York’s gun laws are the strictest in the union. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was adamant that the state not make an exception for Burress simply because he won them a Super Bowl. With the Vick, Burress and Stallworth cases finally reaching resolution, Commissioner Roger Goodell likely can’t wait for the season to start so we can discuss final scores instead of final verdicts. Commissioner, neither can we.
The aptly named Usain Bolt has done it again. He’s breaking records at a Phelpsian pace and doing so without the bong photos. In Berlin this week, on the same track where Jesse Owens represented the US in the 1936 Olympic Games, Jamaican-born sprinter shattered the 200 meter world record, finishing in 19.19 seconds and breaking his own world record by .11 seconds. Days earlier, he set the world record in the 100m, finishing in 9.58 seconds. To put things in perspective, Owens ran the 100 meter dash in 10.3 seconds. Somewhere, Jesse would be proud.
In Memphis, basketball coach John Calipari has left the building. Unfortunately for University of Memphis fans, so have the school’s 38 victories in 2007-2008. The NCAA has charged Memphis with suiting up an ineligible player. Allegedly, their former freshman phenom, Derrick Rose, had a family member take his SAT exams to ensure academic eligibility. Athletic Director R.C. Johnson pledged there were no deliberate violations and has appealed the charges. This marks the second time a John Calipari coached team has been stripped of its Final Four appearance. His 1995-96 UMass Minutemen were penalized when Marcus Camby admitted taking money from an agent. Both Rose and Camby were top NBA draft picks, Rose going first in 2008 and Camby drafted second in 1997. Memphis will be forced to return all revenue from their Final Four run that season. Several hundred miles away, Calipari, who makes over $4 million at the University of Kentucky, and Rose, who makes over $5 million dollars with the Chicago Bulls, go unpunished. All’s fair in love and recruiting violations. Calipari won the Naismith National Coach of the Year those same seasons. In the future, the Naismith board of selectors may want to choose their winners more wisely or at least place a Bonds-like asterisk next to those two.
They don’t call it the wild card for nothing. With only forty games remaining in baseball’s regular season, wild card races are heating up in both American and National Leagues. Many teams have distanced themselves from the pack. The Cardinals, Phillies, Angels and Yankees all hold healthy leads in their respective divisions. In the NL, the Rockies, Giants, Braves, Marlins and Cubs are all fighting for the lone wild card spot. In the AL, the Red Sox, Rangers, Ray, Mariners and White Sox compete for the other. Meanwhile, the New York Mets and the second highest payroll in baseball are under .500 and might not be relevant again until Plaxico Burress is a free man.
Come on shake your body, baby, do that conga. Venus and Serena Williams are now partial owners of the Miami Dolphins. The Williams sisters, who could not find an NFL team to invest in in their hometown of Los Angeles, join Jimmy Buffett, Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan as the most recent celebrities to own a piece of the South Florida franchise. No word on whether the sisters will soon tour with Miami Sound Machine.