posted: Jan. 30, 2006  |  Feedback

Some of you seem confused why I skipped the Super Bowl this year. Four reasons why:

1. I'm going to the NBA All-Star Game and spring training instead.

2. I've been to three Super Bowls in the last four years and wrote everything there was to write about the "fan at the Super Bowl" experience. Seriously, it's the same sequence every year -- same parties, same events, same schedule, same everything. How much can be said? For God's sake, I probably wrote 60,000 words combined in New Orleans, Houston and Jacksonville. Maybe I could have gone down there and played "real reporter" for a year, but who the hell wants to read me pretending to be a real reporter? Please. I'm taking the year off, refueling my Super Bowl batteries and coming back strong for 2007.

3. (This is a mystery reason that I will reveal in due time.)

4. It's in Detroit.

(By the way, I have nothing against Detroit. The Super Bowl shouldn't be held in Chicago, either. Or Boston. Or Philly. Or Washington. Or New York. Or anywhere else where it's cold and hard to get around. For the umpteenth time, I'm suggesting San Diego, Miami, New Orleans as the only three cities, unless Vegas sucks it up and builds a state-of-the-art football stadium and houses the event every year. No other city should host a Super Bowl. Ever.)

In the mean time, welcome to Cowbell Week! They don't need me for Page 2 because we're loaded with Super Bowl stuff, so I'm writing Cowbells every day.

Today's topic: Two subjects from the weekend that didn't deserve their own column but deserve some sort of mention ...

Subject No. 1
Because ABC had a doubleheader yesterday, I wasn't allowed to watch the Celtics-Bucks game (blacked out in all markets). Forget about the fact that I'm shelling out $189 for the NBA package so I can see every game ... what's the logic behind blacking out everything else because ABC is showing a national game? Do they honestly think that blacking out my favorite team means that A.) they're going to get a huge rating bump from all the NBA fans who planned on watching their favorite team, and B) we're going to ignore the other 500 channels on our cable package and gravitate towards some crappy Heat-Rockets game on ABC because we're in the "Well, my heart was set on watching an NBA game, and since the Celts are blacked out, this will have to do" mindset? Who thinks like that? I can't speak for everyone else, but I ended up watching "Dazed and Confused" on the AMC channel and taking my dogs for a long walk.

Here's the best way to describe how dumb this blackout policy is: Imagine you went into Dunkin Donuts every morning for coffee. This happened every day for like four months in a row. Then, you walk in there yesterday and they tell you, "We're not serving coffee today, the coffee has been blacked out ... instead, we're serving green tea." Do you buy the green tea, or do you go somewhere else for coffee? You know what you do? YOU GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR COFFEE!!!!! I hate professional sports sometimes.

Subject No. 2
I like Coco Crisp. I think he will be better in every respect than Johnny Damon over the next four years (and at two-fifths the price). I loved the fact that he turned it up a notch last September when the Indians were trying to catch Chicago. I really love the fact that he's 26 years old, with three full major league seasons under his belt ... and everyone who plays fantasy baseball knows that hitters usually make The Leap in their fourth full season. I really, REALLY love the fact that the Sports Gal heard me talking on the phone about him, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Wait, his name is Coco Crisp? Coco Crisp? That's really his name?" And considering the other available options, I was delighted that the Sox acquired a first-rate centerfielder.

One problem: They overpaid for him. Crisp was worth more to the Red Sox than he was for the Indians, the Indians knew it ... and they squeezed the Sox in the process. Cleveland's GM Mark Shapiro, (not the same Mark Shapiro who once greenlighted "ESPN Hollywood") even said as much, explaining that they knew Crisp has the most value as a centerfielder, but since they already had Grady Sizemore there, Crisp was stuck in left field (diminishing his intrinsic value as a player). But since the Sox desperately needed a centerfielder, and since the organization didn't want to look bad after the whole Theo-leaves-Theo-waffles-Theo-returns soap opera, they wanted to get this trade done so everyone back home would stop complaining, "It's almost February, we don't have a centerfielder or shortstop yet!" So they overpaid for a guy Cleveland didn't really need. Shapiro even said as much, telling reporters this weekend, "It was too much to turn down."

Here's the problem: To obtain Crisp, the Sox gave up a package including young third baseman Andy Marte, who's considered one of the best prospects in the league and someone with Scott Rolen's ceiling. Trading Marte straight-up for Crisp would have been slightly overpaying the Indians -- Crisp has a B-plus/A-minus celing, while Marte has an A/A-plus ceiling. But because the Indians were holding them hostage, the Sox had to sweeten the deal even beyond Marte (it turned out to be a 7-player trade). Everyone in Boston seems to be okay with this. In fact, I was okay with it ... until I read Shapiro's "it was too much to turn down" quote.

That got me thinking. The reason I wasn't attached to Marte was because the Sox only had him for seven weeks (when they acquired him from Atlanta in the bizarre Renteria trade). Unlike any other Hot Boston Prospect, I didn't have a history with him. Usually with these things, you start hearing about Hot Boston Prospect early on, either after they draft him or Gammons drops his first "the Red Sox think that Andy Marte has a chance to become the next Mike Schmidt" comment. Then the process begins. You start checking his minor league stats, checking out the various Top 100 lists to see if he made any of them, getting excited every time someone mentions him on a message board. It's almost like a courtship process. You need a few dates before you're hooked. And by the time Hot Boston Prospect is ready for the majors, you feel like YOU'RE ready for him.

The Marte thing unfolded differently -- when he randomly landed on the Sox mid-December, it was almost like getting a $10,000 plasma TV accidentally delivered to your house. Wait, are you sure? That's mine? Nobody had a chance to digest the fact that, "Hold on a second, we have one of the top prospects in baseball on our team right now." We didn't get to see him play, read any of those "Holy crap these guy's good!" quotes from spring training, ogle his minor league stats or anything else. So when the Sox traded him, most fans found this perfectly acceptable. Like never opening the box with the $10,000 plasma TV, then trading it for $7,500 worth of stereo equipment. After all, we needed the stereo equipment (in this case, Crisp). We didn't need the plasma. So the trade was done and that's that.

I just wonder if, at some point down the line, it's going to sink in that the Great Andy Marte belonged to the Red Sox for seven weeks ... and then they traded him away in a package for Coco Crisp that was so loaded, it resulted in the other GM saying, "It was too much to turn down."

Because that would suck.

posted: Jan. 27, 2006  |  Feedback

My father was delighted about Thursday night's Celtics trade because he likes any trade where his team gets the best player AND a No. 1 pick. He has also liked Wally Szczcerbiak going back to college because he's "one of those guys who's done it in big games." When you're like 5-55 in close games, you need as many of those guys as you can get.

But here was Dad's favorite thing about the trade, hands down: "If I could have picked any four guys on the team to get rid of, I would have picked those four guys!"

The four guys: Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, Mark Blount and Justin Reed. Here's why they drove my Dad crazy ...

• As I have written before in this space, Reed was one of those "What does he do?" guys, where I'm talking to Dad during a game and Dad says, "What does he do? Does he do anything? What are his skills supposed to be? I can't figure it out. It just seems like he runs up and down the court." I'm not a huge fan of the plus-minus stat, but Reed's was the lowest on the team by far (-14.2). Best-case scenario, he becomes a very poor man's George Lynch. Does that sound enticing to you?

• Banks has a slim chance to be one of those Robert Pack/Antonio Daniels-type players down the road, but it wasn't going to happen in Boston, and there's a 90-percent chance that he will never grasp even the basic principles about playing point guard. As someone who loves and values that position, watching Banks run the team was always a harrowing experience. He needed to go.

• Blount duped the Celtics into signing him to a 6-year, $40 million deal during the last three months of the 2004 season, when he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds and resembled a poor man's Robert Parish. That summer, when they re-signed him, I wrote a column defending the decision (after all, it was market value for a starting center) while leaving the door open that he had hoodwinked the team with his contract push. Of course, my father was horrified and thought they made a terrible mistake, screaming, "It's Mark Blount! He's got bad hands! He'll always have bad hands!"

As it turned out, that was the least of our worries. Blount simply checked out after the contract -- indifferent on the court, indifferent off it, the kind of guy who watched the Jumbotron during timeouts and walked on the court for a noon practice at 11:59:59. This season he averaged an astonishing 4.2 rebounds a game -- to put this in perspective, Nate Robinson averages more rebounds per minute. Throw in his contract (four excruciating years after this one), youngster Kendrick Perkins (who needs to play) and the immortal Doc Rivers (who kept throwing Blount in there even after his bosses agreed, "Hey, Perkins needs to play!"), and getting Blount off the team was Danny Ainge's number-one goal before the deadline. Mission accomplished. Minnesota should be perfect for Blount -- it's cold and depressing, and so is he.

• As for Ricky Davis (the key for Minnesota), he matured over the last three seasons from "selfish me-first gunner who partied like a madman off the court" to "team-oriented guy who worked his butt off and wanted to get better." But there's a ceiling with him -- some habits just can't be broken, especially for guys who came into the league when they were 19 and bounced around for the next few years. For instance, he's an atrocious defensive player. Just atrocious. He TRIES hard, and he'll get to a couple loose balls every game, and he rebounds and stuff, and maybe he'll pick off an occasional cross-court pass ... but if there's anyone in the league who could have used a few more trips to basketball camp as a kid, it's Ricky. You know the whole concept of "move your feet, keep your body in front of your guy and the basket?" Totally foreign to Ricky. He'll help you out on defense, but he's always a second late. You can pick-and-roll him to death because he'll invariably make the wrong choice. If you're a good shooter, he'll forget this five-six times per game and give you a wide-open shot. And so on and so on. Again, because he's trying hard, it seems like he's a good defender. He's not.

Offensively? He's explosive in the open floor (it's a shame that he spent his whole career playing without a real point guard) and someone who can wake up a dead crowd in three seconds. In a halfcourt offense, if you're running him off screens, nobody's better at curling around to the top of the key and making open 18-footers. Against poor defenders, he can beat them off the dribble and create his own shot. But that's about it. If you're not specifically running plays for him, he stands around and watches everyone else. Any good defensive team could shut him down -- just look at what happened in the Indiana series, or some of the Detroit games this season.

Honestly? I was tired of watching him. He gets 0.05% worse every time you see him, the kind of player who looks better on John Hollinger's computer than a 40-inch Sony Wega. On Minnesota, where he's going to be asked to carry its perimeter offense and score at the end of games, I think he's going to struggle. Mightily. If Ricky ever plays for a contender, it will be in the role of "Sixth man off the bench who carries your second team and occasionally catches fire in crunch-time," almost like how Phoenix uses Eddie House right now. He will never be the second- or third-best player on a 50-win team. Please believe me.

So the Celtics dumped four guys who needed to go. Here were five other reasons why they made the trade:

1. For this particular team, Szczerbiak was a better fit than Ricky. Now they can move Paul Pierce back to shooting guard, where he's a much tougher matchup for teams. And they needed another reliable shooter, someone who could spread the floor -- along with Delonte West (who's quietly emerged as one of the best outside shooters in the league), Wally makes it impossible for teams to collapse on Pierce now. This team desperately needed an identity, and now they're moving closer to one -- with West, Wally and Pierce, suddenly they're looking a little like the 2005 Sonics with three guys who shoot 40-percent on 3's.

2. Wally was having a career offensive season on Minnesota -- 20 points a game, 50 percent from the field, 41 percent on 3-pointers, 89 percent from the line -- and playing better than more respected guys like Peja Stojakovic and Rashard Lewis, for example. He's a below-average defender, but you know what? So was Ricky. And he's turning 29 in March, so he's clearly in his prime right now. The biggest Wally issue is his contract ($36 million for the next three years after this one), but the Celtics would have been paying Blount and Ricky the same amount of money over the same time. And besides, if Wally became a free agent this summer, wouldn't he command Mobley/Simmons money, something like $45 million over five years? So he's overpaid by 25 percent. That gives him something in common with everyone else in the league.

(One other bonus: By all accounts, Wally doesn't have any baggage off the court that could potentially sink the team. For example, when Chris Wallace traded for Vin Baker's max contract back in the summer of 2002 -- which would have been the single-worst move by an NBA executive this decade if Rob Babcock didn't give away Vince Carter last season, but at the very least, gives Wallace two of the top five since he also drafted Joe Forte over Tony Parker -- he answered the age-old question, "What would it be like if an NBA team willingly traded for Reverend Jim from "Taxi?" And that's why Chris Wallace is no longer gainfully employed as an NBA decision maker. Wally might be overpaid, but at least you know what you're getting from him every night, and at least you don't have to have clubhouse attendants sneak into his hotel room to hide the mini-bar key.)

3. Because Doc Rivers was playing too many guys -- and just for the record, he played all 12 guys in the first half again last week -- it was up to Danny Ainge to pare down the rotation because Doc obviously couldn't handle the responsibility. Now they have five starters (Perkins, Jefferson, Pierce, Wally and West) and a set-in-stone bench (LaFrentz, Scalabrine, Greene and Allen). Wouldn't you know ... it's a nine-man rotation where everyone knows their roles! Doc couldn't possibly screw that up, could he? That's why I would buy out the final year of Olowokandi's contract over keeping him -- you don't even want to tempt Doc here. Reduce his options, Danny. Please. I'm begging you.

4. With Blount's contract off the books, and Olowokandi's contract done after the season, the Celtics will be under the cap this summer. Now Danny can sign another white guy to go with Wally, Raef, Scalabrine and Dan Dickau for an official Whitewash. Bring back the tight shorts from the '80s, Danny! Let's take this thing all the way!

5. After losing back-to-back games to Detroit and Memphis by a combined 44 points, the T-Wolves had officially entered, "All right, we have to shake things up, we have to do it, we have to do it right now!" mode. I mean, if you're Danny Ainge, what's a better trading partner than an underachieving playoff contender with a maligned GM and unhappy superstar that just got blown out in back-to-back games? What could be better? It's like the Perfect Storm of trading opportunities.

In closing, I have three predictions ...

Prediction No. 1: The Celtics will lose their next two games, then start hitting their stride and making a run for the eighth playoff spot ... despite having a coach that makes decisions like, "Should I send a second guy at Gilbert Arenas on the final play of the game and make someone else on the Wizards beat us? Nahhhhhhh, let's just cover a 30-point scorer with a below-average defensive player like Ricky Davis and see what happens!"

Prediction No. 2: Wally will make a legitimate challenge to Tom Brady as the Boston athlete that local girls will openly ogle during games, leading to their annoyed boyfriend making a saracastic remark like, "Yeah, like Wally would ev-ah want to be with you," followed by the girl yelling, "Why, you don't think I could get Wally if I wanted to?" and everything escalating into a vicious screaming match. It's always fun to have those guys in town.

Prediction No. 3: Because of this trade, Kevin McHale will be fired in Minnesota within the next three months.

(Hey, at least he thought of the Celtics on the way out.)

Four other notes while we're here:

1a. Thanks for all the feedback on the Schilling piece yesterday. I even enjoyed the sarcastic e-mails like "Did you have to put on a pair of kneepads before you started the interview?" and other more graphic ones that I'm not allowed to print. My only thought behind that column was that it would be fun to exchange e-mails with an actual professional athlete, especially one that I happened to like. I just hadn't read anything like that before. If you're looking for Schilling's take on Boston's offseason and the team heading into spring training, ran a transcript of Schilling's interview with the Dennis and Callahan show on WEEI this week.

1b. Some readers wondered how we could exchange e-mails where we seemed to be interrupting each other, almost like we were IM-ing one another. Here's what happened: because he's a busy guy, I was sending him two or three paragraphs at a time, but with his responses, he kept jumping in and responding to certain things in the paragraphs instead of waiting until the end to write one big response. So that's why it looked that way at times.

3. Congratulations to Josh Schwartz for turning every guy in this country into R. Kelly with the introduction of Marissa's sister on "The OC." I'll let Rob from Manhattan Beach explain: "Have you seen Marissa's little sister on the OC, Willa Holland? My roomates and I were watching last night's episode and couldn't get over how hot she was (schoolgirl outfit). We figured she was at least 18 playing a 14-year-old. Then today at work my friend sends me link to her bio and I find out she was born in 1991! I feel dirty."

(Welcome to the club, Rob. Not since Anna Kournikova broke onto the scene in 1997 has the country been tested like this.)

4. Finally, a TV recommendation ...

Tonight on E! at 2 a.m., and again on NBC at 3 a.m. on Saturday night, they're replaying the greatest musical performance in "Saturday Night Live" history: The Crash Test Dummies singing two songs on a 1994 show hosted by Martin Lawrence. I don't want to ruin it. Just cue up your TiVo or DVR and watch a performance that has ...

A) Held "Save Until I Delete" for me since last October.
B) Earned a retroactive 100 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale.

So you're not disappointed, just know that it's not a home run the first time like the Namath-Kolber kiss or anything. You need to watch it a few times and soak everything in. But it will keep getting funnier and funnier. I promise. Years from now, this Crash Test Dummies performance will define the early '90s just like Journey's "Separate Ways" video defined the early '80s.

And on that note, enjoy the weekend.

posted: Jan. 25, 2006  |  Feedback

Just an FYI: Stay tuned for an extra-special edition of "The Curious Guy" running tomorrow. I'm proud of this one.

In the mean time, you may remember my riff in Friday's mailbag about not caring about spoiling "24" plot twists in my column, and only because a real "24" fan would watch a new show within 72 hours unless they didn't care that much in the first place (my logic at the time). Well, the e-mails have been pouring in. Some readers pointed out that it's much more fun to TiVo the show for like 10 weeks, then watch the episodes all at once. I can certainly understand this because the Sports Gal and I watched all four seasons in about five weeks last spring, including a stretch when she was days away from giving birth and battling pre-labor, "I feel like I'm about to burst" agony ... but insisted we keep watching the episodes even though she could barely see straight. I think there was one day where we watched like 15 episodes in a 24-hour span. So I can see why someone would tape the shows and play them that way.

Also, readers in foreign countries pointed out that Season Five won't be airing overseas for a few more months. Whoops. Wasn't aware of that. While we're here, I was amazed by some of the postmarks on these e-mails -- Brazil, Amsterdam, Japan, you name it. I need to run an all-foreign mailbag one of these days.

But here's the biggest reason why I screwed up ...

Yeah, I know it's a bit late. But in response to your "What real 24 fan hasn't seen the new season yet" question: my answer: ME. And many other men and women deployed to Iraq that don't have TiVo or any other access to mainstream America besides our limited Internet time. Thanks for blowing this new season. Love the columns, wouldn't stop reading them for the world. Just thought I'd let you know that there are fans out there who enjoy the show but are unable to watch it.
-- Zach Mott, FOB Warhorse, Iraq

All right, all right... I feel terrible. The thing is, I get e-mails from our troops from time to time, so I know they're reading, and it's pretty safe to say that some of them also got hooked by "24" before heading overseas. I blew it. Terrible job by me. Please accept my apologies. In the future, I will confine all "24" talk to the "Cowbell," with a giant "SPOILER ALERT" in bold caps before anything's revealed.

As an apology to everyone fighting overseas, I want to write an All-Troops mailbag for everyone over there. Feel free to send along any potential mailbag questions, or even an e-mail describing your life over there that we can run in a separate column. Sometimes I feel like people aren't thinking about you guys (and girls) enough ... it's pretty easy to go through everyday life without remembering each and every day that there are people out there fighting to protect your safety. For instance, when I was signing books on my tour and thinking about things like, "I can't feel my right hand anymore" or "I think my back is going to go out any minute," invariably, someone would bring up a book and say, "Can you sign this for so-and-so, he's over in Iraq, we're gonna mail the book to him, he loves your columns" and snap me right back into reality. And Zach's "24" e-mail was a little like that for me this week.

So for all the troops out there, we created a special mailing page for you: CLICK HERE. We would love to hear from you if you have the time. Thanks for reading, stay safe out there and we're thinking about you.

posted: Jan. 18, 2006  |  Feedback

We were finally able to obtain an audio copy of Isiah Thomas's interview with Stephen A. Smith on 1050-AM in New York, which confirmed all the reports from various readers on Monday afternoon. In the interest of accuracy, we're running it at the end of this post.

I went through all my columns and couldn't find one excerpt where I attacked his character -- I only judged him from the way he played on the court and the way he's coached and run basketball teams, and every comment was made for a reason. For instance, I once called him "an incredibly poor sport." Well, he was. This is the guy who convinced the 1991 Pistons to walk off the court before the Bulls swept them in the Eastern Finals. I once called him "spiteful and manipulative" -- if you don't believe me, read up on how MJ was frozen out of the 1985 All-Star Game, or the details behind the Dantley-Aguirre trade, or how he was bumped off the original Dream Team strictly for personal reasons, even though he was clearly one of the best 10 players in the league. I once called him a "cheapshot artist" -- well, he was. That's the way he played. By the way, John Stockton was just as dirty.

You know what else I found as I searched these old columns? I have written that Isiah was the best pure point guard of all-time. I have written that he's a surprisingly astute judge of talent when he's drafting players. I have written that I would take him over Magic on my All-Time NBA Team. I have written that he got completely boned over when the Dream Team Committee left him off. I have written that his performance in Game 6 of the 1988 Finals was one of the greatest and most heroic in NBA history. And I even wrote about how the Pistons got screwed in Game 7 of the 1988 Finals when the Lakers and their fans started storming the court with three seconds left, then Magic clearly fouled Isiah as he was dribbling to get off a game-tying three (and absolute outrage if you watch the tape).

The bottom line is Isiah is a lousy coach and an even worse GM -- maybe one of the three of four worst GM's ever, actually. He's an out-and-out apocalypse for the Knicks. With their current roster, cap problems and remaining draft picks, it would be impossible for them to become a 50-win team in the next 5 years unless A.) someone signs there for half their market value, or B.) someone in the league is dumb enough to make the equivalent of Rob Babcock's Vince Carter trade again. I thought about writing a column about this, but frankly, it wouldn't be that interesting. The Knicks are screwed.

Two more notes on the transcript ...

• I think we can all agree that Isiah was dreadful as a studio analyst and broadcaster for NBC. No shame in that -- tons of great ex-players couldn't make the transition. But in the interview, it seems like Isiah feels like he WAS good, only he just didn't get a fair chance. Or something. I didn't even fully understand the point he was making. Which makes me think he's somewhat delusional. And if he thinks Knicks fans are happy with the direction of this team -- with the exception of the 2005 draft picks and the Larry Brown signing -- he's fooling himself. Trust me, I received about 800 e-mails from yesterday, almost all from angry Knicks fans who wish he would go away ... with about exactly 12 defending him.

• As for Stephen A. pretending not to know me, I thought this was interesting since one of his producers asked me to fly to New York and appear as a featured guest on his TV show in September.

Here's the transcript ...

SAS: "Isiah Thomas, you as an executive, one of the few African-American executive[s] in the world of sports, I mean, obviously there's a few of them in basketball, but compared to other sports, I mean, basketball looks like a haven for African-American executives and we know there's not that many. How much do you feel, when you think about being [in] an executive position ... how much do you feel the paucity or the small number of African-American sports editors influences coverage where somebody like you or Joe Dumars or Billy King is concerned? Your thoughts."

Isiah: "Well, those ... you know, we ... we kind of say those are the silent assassins. Those are the guys that, you know, can hide out, and, you know, they make all the edits and everything else and they shape your image."

SAS: "You're talking about copy editors, editors, people like that, yes."

Isiah: "They shape the images of what people read and think and say about you. And regardless of what you may say in the interview or how you may present yourself, at the end of the day it's really judged by what they show on television and what they write in the newspapers, and the producers and the editors and everything else behind the scenes control that. And I really found that out when I worked in television. You can take a guy on television and make him look as good as you want him to or make him look as bad as you want him to, and it really depends a lot on how that producer feels that day about that person ... That's true (laughing)."

SAS: "Wow. Yeah, because you use to work with NBC, during the NBA on [NBC] before you went to Indiana."

Isiah: "Well not only did I work with NBC, but I also did some work with TNT also. I mean, it's just ... you know, the images that are portrayed and what is written in the newspaper, again, they can say anything and take shots at you personally. You know, you don't mind people critiquing your basketball play. And I've heard you say this on your show, Stephen A., you'll call guys out about their ability but you don't ever get into personal attacks."

SAS: "Never."

Isiah: "Because that's when you cross the line and most athletes can understand that. But when you've got little guys, you know, sitting behind the desk, you know 5 feet 2 and you never get a chance to see them and they take shots at your character and what you are as a man. If somebody would say those things to you on the street, and would walk up to you and just start saying that to any person in the street ... "

SAS: "We know what would happen."

Isiah: "Oh, there'd be a problem. And I'm gonna tell you, if I see this guy Bill Simmons, oh it's gonna be a problem with me and him."

SAS: "Who? Well, I don't (laughing) ... I don't know that (laughing) ... I'll figure it out. I'll figure it out. Stephen A. Smith ... I got you."

Isiah (at same time): "It's gonna be a problem ... "

SAS: "Stephen A. Smith in the house, 1050 ESPN Radio, we're with Jim Brown, Oscar Robertson, and Isiah Thomas. We're gonna be back in a minute. Isiah Thomas has got to go at the top of the hour because he's got to go and talk to Larry Brown before the Knicks play the Minnesota Timberwolves. But Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson will be staying with us to take your phone calls.

posted: Jan. 17, 2006  |  Feedback

Up until this month, my list of top-10 career highlights looked like this:

1. Went to the Pats-Rams Super Bowl, sat in the same end zone where Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal landed, got relatively drunk on Bourbon Street, handed in a column read by tons of people.

2. Made fun of contestants on "Real World/Road Rules Challenge," provoked angry Internet response from Theo.

3. Went to Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS, stayed up until 5:30 a.m. writing about it, ended up with a column read by tons of people.

4. Convinced Luke Perry in the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" green room to reenact the scene where his dad on "90210" was blown up.

5. Once provoked Elgin Baylor to say the words, "That guy's an [rhymes with bassbowl]."

6. Nearly completed fantasy baseball trade on cell phone while walking down ESPYs red carpet.

7. Broke news of Celtics-Lakers trade involving Gary Payton and Chris Mihm, then sent taunting e-mail to Ric Bucher.

8. Appeared on the "Rome is Burning" forum with Roger Lodge.

9. Wrote a book that new Sox second baseman Mark Loretta admitted reading in NESN interview last month.

10. During the 2005 NBA All-Star Weekend, I was recognized by the members of Kyle Korver's posse, who then bought me a drink.

Well, now I have a new career highlight: During a New York radio interview Monday, Isiah Thomas threatened to make trouble for me. Talking to Stephen A. Smith he said, "I'm gonna tell ya ... if I see this guy Bill Simmons, oh, it's gonna be a problem with me and him ..." I thought it was ironic he threatened me on Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- I'm sure MLK would have been proud. Given that this was the same guy who sucker-punched his best friend on the Pistons (Bill Laimbeer) during the 1992 season, I am thinking about travelling with a full-time bodyguard, or at the very least a can of mace or one of those tasers that you can get in a stalker catalog.

Here's my question for Isiah, who's very angry with me ...

Right now, you have a roster that costs something like $120 million. You completely overhauled the Knicks' roster in 14 months, and now you're trying to overhaul it again. There's no rhyme or reason to anything you're doing. Your team doesn't have a first-round pick next summer, and in the summer of 2007 -- widely considered to be the deepest draft in 20-plus years -- the Bulls have the right to exchange first-round picks with you (most of your fans don't even know this). You also have to give another first-round pick to Phoenix before 2010. And you have at least eight or nine players on your roster who are completely, utterly, totally untradable, including someone with a possible heart defect and someone whose back is in such bad shape nobody would insure his contract. Your team also has one of the worst records in the league. And your fans are downright traumatized at this point, to the degree that you went into hiding until your recent winning streak. Now you're available to talk to the press again, of course.

So why shouldn't you be criticized for any of this? Why should you be immune? Why should the fact that you destroyed the CBA, then coached an underachieving Pacers team that came within two possessions of making the 2004 Finals one year after you left ... why isn't this relevant in some way? I would love to know the answer to this. So either you can e-mail me, have one of your PR people call me to explain it, or tell me as while you're making trouble for me on the street.

Or, I can fly to New York and we can have a dignified conversation about this stuff. Followed by you beating the living hell out of me.

It's up to you.

And just for the record, in the summer of 2004, I wrote a nice column about you and your old Pistons team; maybe you missed it. So I couldn't really be "out to get you," right? You're a public figure. When you screw up, people are going to write about it. Get over yourself.

Anyway, here are the e-mails about the interview we received Monday:

I'm just praying that I'm the first person to send you this even though it's possible thousands have already in the five minutes since the moment. Stephen A. Smith was interviewing Isiah Thomas on 1050 ESPN Radio New York, and Isiah was complimenting Stephen A. on not crossing the line by insulting players personally while critiquing them. So they went on about the ethics of it, and then Isiah said that if he ever saw Bill Simmons on the street, there would be a problem for you two. Too bad there's no TiVo for AM radio, because that would be save until I delete status. So how does it feel to be called out by Isiah Thomas? Maybe you're one step closer to playing for the Knicks now, assuming that he naturally confuses you in a couple days with Shaq.

P.S. Stephen A. responded by asking "who?"
-- Jeremy, New York

Just an FYI, on Stephen A. Smith's ESPN (1050 AM, NY) radio show, Isiah Thomas just ranted about sportswriters without any athletic ability making personal attacks on athletes. He went so far as to say that if he were to meet you, Bill Simmons, on the street, there would be a problem. Maybe you should watch your back. Just wondering, you have the Clippers GM and the Knicks GM who want to meet you in an alley, alone. Anyone else?
-- Alex, Kearny, N.J.

Sports Guy, I think you'd like to know that Isiah Thomas is planning to take revenge on you. Today on the Stephen A. Smith show on ESPN Radio here in New York, Thomas said if "I ever meet this guy Bill Simmons, it won't be good for him." In other words, I think he's planning on signing you.
-- Dan Goodman, New York

Don't know if you've heard about this yet, but Isiah Thomas was on Stephen A. Smith's radio show this morning on 1050 AM in NY with Oscar Robertson. I only caught the tail end of it, but I believe it was a discussion centering around MLK day. Again, don't know the context, but at the end of the interview, Isiah called out and said that there would be problems if he saw "this Bill Simmons" on the street. Stephen A. Smith said that he didn't know who you were.
-- Nick, New Jersey

Isiah just called you out. I was listening to ESPN radio out of NYC and they had Isiah, Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson on for MLK day on the Stephen A. Smith show. Isiah was talking about how the media decided how to present you, and that's what type of legacy you have. He then said it's OK to knock a guy's skills or the way he plays the game and that players understand that. If you get personal then there's trouble. He then said that if he ever sees Bill Simmons, there will be trouble. Out of the blue ... calling you out. I guess it's OK to knock a guy's on-court skills, but don't dare present the facts to knock his GM ability.
-- Rob O, Neptune, N.J.

In the midst of the Stephen A. Smith show on Martin Luther King Day, the GM of the "surging" Knicks calls you out and wants to meet you on some street corner, yada, yada, yada. ... That's right, Isiah doesn't have bigger things to worry about. The Knicks are now 13-23 in the midst of four games in five days, including yesterday's brutal display at Toronto and the champs coming to town on Thursday, but he specifically mentions you during a phone interview. Shouldn't he be more focused on improving the Knicks?
-- Drew, Summit, N.J.

Monday on the Stephen A. Smith radio show, Isiah Thomas called you out. To paraphrase, he mentioned your name and said you'd be in trouble if you guys ever were to meet. The topic was the lack of black editors in the print media and Zeke brought up your name. I am not sure if the Stephen A. Smith show is nationally syndicated or if it is just a show for metro NYC area. Try to listen to the interview. It was with Zeke, Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson celebrating MLK day. Good Stuff!!!
-- Chris, Scarsdale, N.Y.

I might be the 97th person to e-mail this to you, but I heard Isiah Thomas threaten that "if I see him in the street there's gonna be a problem." This morning on the radio. So you apparently have the league's worst GM looking for you.
-- David Michlin, Jericho, N.Y.

Was listening to Stephen A Smith's radio show. He had on Oscar Robertson, Jim Brown and Isiah. Isiah was speaking about how people in the press take cheap shots because they are not man enough to go face to face with someone. He then proceeded to say, he was waiting for the day that he ran into Bill Simmons. Stephen A. Smith quickly changed the topic.
-- Mike, Long Island, N.Y.

posted: Jan. 3, 2006  |  Feedback

You know how I was slacking a little over the holidays? Well, that's over.

Looking at the landscape of these next four months, I don't have a book to promote anymore, although I would love if you (A) still bought it, or (B) recommended it to your friends if you liked it. Not only am I skipping the Super Bowl in Detroit this year, I have only one prolonged trip scheduled for the next four months (the NBA All-Star Game in February, which could be the weekend I finally get run over by the Light Rail in Houston). I already had my severe winter cold that sidelined me for a week. My baby has settled into a solid sleeping schedule (knock on wood). I don't have any other major projects to sideline me for the foreseeable future, other than these two:

1. Getting ready for this summer's World Series of Poker (yes, I'm going) by making some quickie Vegas trips.

2. For comedy's sake, I might start playing golf again.

(Note: I used to play golf fairly regularly into my early-20s, right up until the famous 37/53 in Falmouth, which was one of the greatest stories that I have never written about on and nearly caused a Jim Pierce/Mary Pierce-level estrangement between my father and me. And sure, even though Dad was an absolute jerk that day and deserves partial blame for driving me from the game I loved, the real problem was that I wasn't mentally stable enough to play 18 holes without melting down like the 2000 Trail Blazers somewhere along the line. Now I'm older, calmer and more stable -- relatively speaking -- and solved all my Trevino-like back issues. So the time is ripe for a comeback. Stay tuned.)

Here's the point: For the next few months, I'm going to be cranking out columns, columns and more columns. Prepare for a Larry Johnson-level hot streak or your money back. All right, you're not paying anything. But you know what I mean. For this week, I have new columns coming Thursday and Friday, as well as the possible premiere of the SG Glossary, an SG Vault featuring a column you already read, and maybe even some nude photos of my eight-month old daughter. We're pulling out all the stops in 2006.

(FYI: I did write two columns last week in case you missed them, one on "Monday Night Football", one on Week 17 of the NFL.) In the meantime, the readers came through with an impressive array of dopey Fantasy Football Awards (after I got the ball rolling in Friday's column). Here were some of the best ones:

The Tara Reid Award (for the one fantasy player who looked good at first but was eventually passed around the most during during the season without anybody really admitting they were with the player) goes to Jamal Lewis, I think just about every person in my league had a fling with Jamal Lewis this season, but after Week 3, everybody acted like they did not own him by placing him deep on the bench. I had a two week fling with him in the middle of the season, but I never showed him off, even though I was desperate.
-- Jermaine, Richmond, Va.

The Vince McMahon "No Chance In Hell" Award goes to Mike McMahon, clearly a nephew of Vince, whose Monday night performance against Seattle on the final week of most fantasy regular seasons couldn't have looked more staged if "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan was swinging the 2x4 and yelling "HOOOOOOOOOOO" in his corner. How many owners felt fairly secure with something resembling my 39-point lead and only the Seattle defense in the way, only to watch McMahon throw a pair of touchdown passes to a lousy road defense, get sacked eight times, have tag-team partner Ryan Moats fumble away a third touchdown and then make zero credible attempts at scoring the rest of the night? I'm almost sure if somebody like L.J. Smith ad-libbed and broke away for a score, McMahon would have attacked Reid to steal the challenge flag and, while the play was being reviewed, drilled the head official with a steel chair while he was under the review tent and had twin brother Earl reverse the play on some unknown technicality. I would have felt better if McMahon immediately signed with Seattle after the game, or at least pile-drived Brian Dawkins immediately afterwards, a la Paul Orndorff ... instead, like Teddy KGB after seeing the jack come up on the turn, I was left feeling so unsatisfied, and so out of the playoffs.
-- Craig Sachson, Bensalem, Pa.

The Alvin Harper Award for "Worst breakout season by a 'new' star" goes to Nate Burleson. During the draft you had to fight people off with a stick from getting this guy, you jump on him, you think you've got the next Randy Moss ... and you find out you're getting Harper after he jumped to the Bucs.
-- Elliot, New York

The Arlen Harris Memorial Award for "Best Unknown Running Back Who Has to Play Because of Six Injured Players in Front of Him on the Depth Chart, Then Puts Up 2-3 Games of Monster Numbers" goes to Samkon Gado (honorable mention to Ryan Moats).
-- Mark S., Baltimore

The Tiki Barber Award for "The player everybody swore they wouldn't pass up at the end of the prior season, only to talk themselves out of taking him for five rounds this year, until some schmuck of an owner took him and watched as he led his team to a fantasy championship, causing everybody to swear they won't pass him up next year" ... this goes to Tiki Barber. I've played fantasy for years -- never took Tiki and never won a championship. This year -- I took Tiki. I won the championship. Coincidence? I think not. You even said as much in your fantasy preview column -- you compared him to a Reuben sandwich. You never order it when it's on the menu, but the second your friend gets it, you suddenly wished you had gotten it, too.
-- Michael Byrnes, Las Vegas

How about the Aaron Brooks Award for "Worst real-life quarterback who has a great fantasy season"? I think it would go to Drew Bledsoe this year -- 3,400 yards and 24 total TDs heading into Week 17. He's a top-10 QB in any conceivable scoring system, even top-five in some leagues. The best part about this is that Aaron Brooks is so terrible, he can't even win an award that's named after him.
-- Chris M., Bowmanville, Ohio

What about the Aaron Brooks Award for "The guy who manages to single-handedly kill you every week with his disgustingly consistent inconsistency"? He'll throw 15 picks in three weeks, which most likely caused you to bench him at some point for the flavor of the week. Then, your scrub hangs up five points, while Brooks hangs up 20. You think he finally gets it, then he screws you again. Yet somehow, at the end of the season, you look at the position rankings, and he's in the top 12 quarterbacks (he is 15th in my league THIS year). You see the ranking and figure he can't be that bad, and then you draft him again the next year as your steal in Round 10, thus cementing your losing season. As the namesake of the award, Brooks receives a pass. My nominee for this year's recipient is Willie Parker. Although he did not have the trademark Brooks brain-farts, he would routinely play Houdini by disappearing, then managing to reappear at inconvenient times. If Parker gets the nod again next year, owners beware.
-- Neal Cope, Knoxville, Tenn.

I would like to propose the "Kevin Jones Week 17 Fluffer Award" for the player who was mediocre all season but in a meaningless Week 17 matchup has a killer stat-padder game. This year's award goes to Randy Moss, who almost single-handedly destroyed my team this year, then goes out and puts up a 7 for 116 and two TDs after my team is 6 feet under. Kerry Collins looked like he had those horse blinkers on his right eye during most of the season! After a summer of tanning, you look at your FFL magazine in August and say, "Randy Moss, 60-1005-8, not bad!"
-- Josh, Newtown, Pa.

Don't forget the Michael Pittman Memorial "Most Yards Gained Without Scoring a Single Fantasy Point," which would have to go this year to Reuben Droughns. The guy runs for 1,200 yards, but in our league he only had six more points than Priest Holmes (who split carries for 7 weeks and then broke) ON THE SEASON.
-- Jim McDonnell, Avon, Conn.

The Fred Taylor's Groin Award (injury that sidelines/nags Fred Taylor for weeks without him actually going on IR) goes to ... Fred Taylor's ankle.
-- Jim, Albany, N.Y.

The Mushin Muhammad award for "Aging Vet Thought To Be Irrelevant For Fantasy Football That Busts Out a Big Season" goes to both Joey Galloway and Mike Anderson, who scored 10 and 12 TDs this season at ages 32 and 34, respectively. Lucky for me, I drafted both players.
-- Eric Bent, Gaithersburg, MD

The Ollie the Manager Award for "Player least likely to make a play to knock you out of the playoffs" goes to ... Kyle Boller. OK, here's the scenario. After being down 68 points (after Saturday's games) in our semifinal game (thanks to Tiki Barber's and Larry Johnson's monster games), my team cut the deficit to three points going into the Monday nighter. I have Donald Driver and my opponent has Todd Heap. I figure I have a decent chance, since the person throwing the ball to Heap is Kyle Freakin' Boller. So what happens? Kyle plays the greatest game of his life, throws for three touchdowns, with two of them going to Heap. I fell asleep watching it and didn't see the stats until I got to work the next morning. It was 7:45 in the morning and I wanted to start drinking heavily.
-- Patrick, Fairfax, Va.

The "Bad Idea Jeans" award goes to any owner who looked at the Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson tandem and thought "Holmes looks sturdy and those bench spots are too impersonal, I'll just cut Johnson." In my league, we'll call this guy "Tim." Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, "When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?"
-- Garnet, Fredrick, Md.

How about the award for "The biggest piece a crap that is just good enough to keep in your lineup every week?" For me this year it was Lamont Jordan. He was heading to the bench, I kept him in for the Bills game and then he killed me the rest of the year.
-- Steve, Rochester, N.Y.

The Grant Hill award for "Season That Most Closely Mirrored Grant Hill's Career" goes to the Green Bay Packers running corps(e). After thinking you had the comeback player of the year and a third round steal, Batman Green produced four weeks of nothing but a season ending injury. So, you decide to spend $5 on a transaction and pick up his backup, Najeh Davenport, who proceeds to tear his ankle up after one week. Another $5 goes to Tony Fisher, who produces 51 yards and a fractured rib. However, this is a blessing in disguise, as your next $5 goes to some guy named Gado, who carries your team to the playoffs. Boom, Torn MCL. So in a futile attempt to revive your Super Bowl chances, you spend $10 on a playoff transaction for Noah Herron, who ran himself and your bank account into an offseason of what could have been.
-- Mark Rothschild, New York

There should be a "Second stringer who is teased to start every freaking week but never does till it's too late in the season" award. I had Chester Taylor AND DeShaun Foster on my team.
-- Donovan, New York

The "Surreal Life" Award for "Too Little, Too Late" goes to Corey Dillon, who scored five touchdowns in weeks 14-16, ensuring big weeks for his owner's teams. These are the same owners that missed the playoffs and were out of action for those weeks because Dillon took the entire month of November off. Thanks, Corey.
-- John M., Waterbury, Conn.

The Anquan Boldin Award for the best receiver who gets 70% or more of his stats during garbage time. (Larry Fitzgerald)

The Kenneth Davis Award for the Backup running back who you keep on your roster all year in case the guy ahead of him gets hurt, AND NEVER DOES. (Maurice Morris)
-- Jonathan Wagner, Chicago, IL

THE ROY HORN "INJURY BUST OF THE YEAR" AWARD -- I'm still mad at myself for never seeing the Sigfried and Roy show in Vegas before Roy had his head gnawed on by Montecore the Tiger. (Winner: Donovan McNabb)

THE KATIE HOLMES "GONE CRAZY" AWARD -- This one goes to the established player that totally blows away all expectations and has a completely unexpected 2005. In January 2005, Katie Holmes was a virgin and engaged to Chris Klein. Now she's Kate Holmes, engaged to Tom Cruise and pregnant. Now THAT'S a year! (winner: Santana Moss.)
-- Jaime Mather, Roanoke, VA

"The Buddy Walker, where were you in the middle of the season Award" To Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who mysteriously disappeared in week 4 with a foot injury only to reappear suddenly in week 11. Aren't 23 year-olds supposed to have indestructible bodies? Isn't that in fact the chief virtue of having a rookie RB on your fantasy team? My god, even Eddie George was a paragon on good health in his first few years in the league. I found it singularly frustrating that this otherwise excellent acquisition was compromised by injury -- the one thing he should have been immune to. Fumble a lot, have trouble integrating yourself into the passing game, don't pick up your blocking assignments, but for the love of god, stay healthy.
-- Ben Dimock, New York, NY

The Alex Rodriguez Award for "Piling up huge numbers in a Week 16 game that's irrelevant because all of your fantasy owners have been knocked out of contention by your awful play" to Julius Jones for his 194 yard, 2 TD performance against the Panthers. Just go to hell, Julius. And take Marion Barber with you.
-- Mike Cincotti, Bellingham, Mass.

How about the inaugural Jake Plummer QB Award for "I can't believe how not bad he's doing," which of course would go to the Snake this year, with David Carr and JP Losman as early front runners for next year. I'd also give the Scottie Pippen Award for "Most success due to playing opposite a superstar" which goes to TJ Houshmandzadeh with a bow to Santa Claus Johnson.
-- Nicolas LaMont, Springfield, Va.

The Frank Reich Award for the most unprecedented performance by a guy who was only in fantasy lineups by default ... to Chris Cooley, for his 71-yard, 3-TD performance two weeks ago. When he scored his first TD and the "He only needs 70 more yards and 2 more TDs" joke was busted out, due to the fact that my buddy PJ was playing Cooley by default and down 24 points in his playoff game with Cooley being the only player left to go on either team. Greatest fantasy swing ever.
-- John Walsh, Boston

The Peter North award for "Most Explosive Finish" goes to Larry Johnson.
-- Chris, Carrboro, N.C.

I would like to nominate Todd Heap for the "Tim Duncan: Never Been Screwed by a Nicer Guy" award. In Week 15, I was ready to knock off the No. 1 team in our fantasy league with only Todd Heap and a "Monday Night Football" game between me and the Championship game. With a 10-point lead, I was walking around Boston with the 1997 Rick Pitino "This situation can't lose" face on. I didn't even watch the game I was so confident. The next morning I was shocked to see that I lost after Heap blew up for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Too make matters worse, I don't know how to hold a grudge against an above-average tight end that just goes out and plays every week. I supposed this is what it feels like to actually be licked to death.
-- Joey, Boston

The Chris Tucker Award for "What the [bleep] happened to him!" goes to both Michael Clayton and Andre Johnson for promising seasons early in their careers that suckered you into selecting them in your second round and then turning into complete flops.
-- Sam, Boston

I'd like to recommend the Kristy Swanson "Best Immediate Fall From Grace" award" for Mike Anderson, who in back-to-back games, ran 26 for 113 and three TDs vs. the Jets and in the following week, versus the Cowboys, ran 11 times for 31 yards, managed a fumble, and gave up his day job to Ron Dayne (who inexplicably had a career game that night). Anderson's performances meant a 31 point difference in my fantasy league; I don't know anyone else who could've pulled that off this season.
-- Joe Nihiser, Cincinnati

The Brooks Hatlen memorial award for "Guy who'll never be the same after getting out of the joint" goes to Jamal Lewis.
-- Jeff M., Minneapolis

I have a couple of quickies ...

The Kelly McGillis "Attractive but Stuck in an Amish Family" Award: Reuben Droughns.

The Mike Demone "Scores Quickly but Doesn't Last Long Award": Stephen Davis.

The Paris Hilton Award for "The player who moves fast, isn't attractive, is highly contagious and yet remains incredibly popular": Michael Vick
-- Brandon Trissler, Iowa City

Don't forget The Peter King "Vote of Confidence" Fantasy Curse Award for 2005 goes to RB Julius Jones. He was my second round pick this year. Damn you, Peter King. Damn you.
-- Joe K., Auburn, Mass.

You need an award for Willis McGahee, the man who killed me in the playoffs. I think the "Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction'" Award would be appropriate. Anyone who owned Willis McGahee this season is like Michael Douglas. He had the affair with Glenn Close, got some really hot sex out of it, but us watching knew that at any moment she was going to turn psycho on him and make life a living hell for him. You could see it coming. In the beginning of the season, he was my first round pick as my keeper from the previous season. Everyone was touting him as one of the elite backs. Before the bye week, he had weeks where he gave me 15, 24, 16, 15, 26, and 18 points. I felt like I was on cloud nine racking up all of these points, just like Douglas' character must have felt with Glenn Close. It was exciting stuff. But after the bye it was suddenly weeks of 5, 3, 5, and 9 points. But I stuck with him in week 14 for my playoff game. He proceeded to drop a big fat goose egg on my head with 0 points that week, making me lose the playoffs. He ruined my fantasy football life. And I have this feeling like most of the fantasy football world saw this coming with McGahee, except me. If I try to drop him next year, I feel like McGahee will show up at my door step with a butcher knife saying, "I will not be ignored!"
-- Steve Skalish, Philadelphia

How about "The player that has an amazing Week 1, causing owners and friends to fight over him but sucks for the rest of the year" Award. I think this is a tie between Frisman Jackson and Chris Baker (yeah, he got injured, but his last 6 games were nowhere near his Week 1 performance). In my 13-team league, there were 12 waiver requests for each of them. I sat back, laughed and picked up Larry Johnson.
-- Ken Capperell, Rochester, N.Y.

The Kurt Warner Memorial "Replacement Pickup of the Year" Award -- for when an unknown, undrafted player replaces an injured solid player and some crap team gets lucky to pick him up and save their season goes to ... Willie Parker.
-- Matt R., New York

The 2005 Michael Westbrook Award for "Wide Receiver who had a decent year and then fell off the face of the earth" goes to Michael Clayton. He's the Clayton from the Bucs. The fact that I needed to clarify that for at least 50 [percent] of your readers says it all.
-- Kupe, Washington, DC

The Donte Stallworth Award for "Promising sophomore wide receiver who goes in the tank" to Michael Clayton. I swear on the lives of my family that I was thinking about Stallworth's postbreakout season when I drafted Clayton instead of Larry Fitzgerald (go ahead ... laugh). I went ahead and drafted him anyway, figuring I was overthinking it. Nope.
-- Pete Lacombe, Somerville, Mass.

The Thurman Thomas Super Bowl Killer Award for "The player to whom without there would be no way your fantasy team would get to the Super Bowl, only to watch him kill you once you're there" goes to LaDainian Tomlinson, who led two of my Yahoo teams to the Super Bowl and absolutely killed me in the playoffs thanks to his combined 8 Yahoo points in Weeks 15 and 16 and no TDs the last 4 weeks of the fantasy season. Quite frankly, I'm still reeling from this. I mean, how did it happen?
-- Tom Cammalleri, Westlake Village, Calif.

The Mia Sara award for "The guy who comes out of nowhere to dazzle, then disappears into obscurity" goes to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nobody had heard of him, he tosses 310 in 3 quarters, everyone grabs him ... and he disappears.
-- Evan, New York

The Clubber Lang Award for "Most feared player heading into a fantasy matchup" goes to Steve Smith, Chad Johnson and Santana Moss. Although they didn't have stud games every weekend, just the knowledge that they could put up three touchdowns was enough to ruin a Saturday night.
-- Eric Lubochinski, Stamford, Conn.

The Charlie Garner Award for the "Guy who puts up great yards but has an astounding lack of TDs" goes to Warrick Dunn.
-- Ed Garrett, Harrisburg, Pa.

The "Best Artificial Fishing Lure" Award goes to Plaxico Burress who, after scoring four touchdowns through the first four weeks of the regular season had every fantasy owner willing to trade their best running back for him, then he proceeded to score a measly two touchdowns over the next 12 games!
-- Spencer Wideman, Chicago

The Chong Li Award for "Betting Way too Much on a Player I Knew Was Going to Fizzle Out at the End of the Year" goes to Drew Bledsoe -- an absolutely pathetic finish to a season where he was the top rated passer in the NFC for the first 10 weeks. You just know in everyone's league there was one diehard Bledsoe or Cowboys fan who thought Drew could pull it out, and you could have easily (and should have) traded him for someone, but that voice inside his head kept telling him, "Hey, Keyshawn is looking good. Jason Witten is an All-Pro TE. Once Julius Jones gets healthy, the Cowboys' play action attack will be clicking." Just like those poor Korean businessmen in "Bloodsport" who kept betting on Chong Li until the end, even though he was obviously evil and destined to lose to the quicker, more flexible American, you fell victim to the "What if's" in the world and couldn't listen to your common sense.
-- Rob Grundlock, Stratford, N.J.

January 2006