Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Glen Suitor, Don Narcisse and the Riders? 1988 music video

While quite humourous on its own, it's worth pointing out that the Saskatchewan Roughriders' cereal celebrating quarterback Darian Durant is a long way from the wackiest promotion they've ever done. A strong contender for that title is their 1988 music video,�Eleven That's Enough (found via Twitter user @MouradB). Here it is:

Put together by Rob Bryanton and Don Hewitt of CKCK TV in Regina, that video features a legendary cast of vocalists: noted receiver Don Narcisse (whose career is quite applicable to the current Roughriders), defensive back Harry Skipper, defensive back Mike "Scooter" McGruder (who went on to a famed NFL career) and defensive back Glen Suitor, who many today probably know more for his work as a TSN analyst (the role he's pictured in at the top of the post) than his memorable career with Saskatchewan. The combination of rock, rap, electric guitar, drum machines, video highlights, repeated audio clips and 1980s hairstyles simply has to be seen to be believed.

The point of the song's titular reference was the Roughriders' 11-year absence from the playoffs, and it did turn out to be quite enough. In 1976, the team won the West Final but lost in the Grey Cup to the Ottawa Rough Riders, the last recorded act of Roughrider-on-Rough-Rider violence in the Grey Cup. They then went on to miss the playoffs for 11 straight seasons, never finishing better than fourth in the West during that time and only finishing above .500 once (when they put up a record of 9-7 in 1981). That led to this being recorded in 1988, and much like the Chicago Bears' famed Super Bowl Shuffle, it worked; the Riders went 11-7 that year and made the playoffs for the first time since 1976. However, they lost in the West Semi-Final to the B.C. Lions.

Full success would have to wait for another year, when Saskatchewan went 9-9 in the regular season but blazed a path through the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos before taking down the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the iconic 1989 Grey Cup. Skipper, Suitor and Narcisse were all around for that, but McGruder had already left for the NFL. The video he helped record lives on, though, and it sets a promotional legacy that's going to be tough to top for today's Roughriders.

Nichole Robinson Monet Mazur Rozonda Thomas Rachel Weisz Miranda Kerr

Monday, July 18, 2011

Isner missed brother?s wedding to play in Newport semifinals

Wedding invitations tend to have two reply options that are something like "accepts with pleasure" or "declines with regret." John Isner could have used a third: "It depends on whether I make the semifinals of the only major grass court tournament in the United States."

The 26-year-old American was planning on going to his older brother's wedding on July 9 until he received a wild card into a tournament in Newport, R.I. Isner debated whether to take it and skip the nuptials. Ultimately, he did accept the entry to the tournament but had a contingency plan that would have allowed him to play in the event and make the wedding.

He said to reporters:

"I told myself I was going to take the offer here and the only way I was going to miss the wedding was if I got to the semifinals. "If I'm in the semis, that's great. It's going to stink that I'm going to miss the wedding, but if I'm not in the semis, I can make the wedding. It definitely turned out to be a great decision.

Isner got to the semifinals and missed the wedding. Any disappointment was erased the next day, when he defeated Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6 to win the tournament. It was the second championship of his professional career.

If I'm Isner, I'm making sure my other older brother schedules his wedding for the second weekend of the U.S. Open just in case there's something to this. Baptisms can be slated for potential round of 16 matches, Bar Mitzvahs for Davis Cup ties. Any match that isn't a first-rounder at Wimbledon against Nicolas Mahut should have a family function fall on the same day.

For what it's worth, Isner said Nathan was cool with the whole thing.�"He understands," Isner said. "His fianc�e, his wife now, maybe not."

Her disappointment might be curbed by the fact that Isner has said he'll be paying for the newlywed's honeymoon. Plus, while having John there doubtlessly would have been nice, the bride can take comfort in the fact that her brother-in-law's 6-foot-9 frame would have made for some asymmetrical wedding pictures.

Ana Paula Lemes Vanessa Simmons Chyler Leigh Julie Berry Lori Heuring

San Jose keeper scores on West Brom from his own box

Kicking off the preseason as it prepares for a second straight year in the Premier League, West Brom traveled thousands of miles to California to have its goalkeeper shown up by his 21-year-old counterpart with a fluky 90-yard goal.

San Jose Earthquakes rookie goalkeeper David Bingham booted the ball from the edge of his own box in the third minute of play during a friendly against West Brom and the result was something even he didn't expect. West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill, who was facing the setting sun, clearly didn't expect it either as he was left flat-footed while the ball took a big bounce in front of him, went right over his head and into the back of the net.

San Jose eventually won 2-1 and after the match, Bingham admitted that he wasn't trying to score at all (via the AP):

"I didn't even see it go in," Bingham said. "I hit it and I knew I overhit it, so I just turned around and walked back. And then everyone started yelling? . Sometimes it's good to be lucky."

And sometimes it's even better to not know your own leg strength.

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Minnesota Viking Ray Edwards wins his boxing debut

Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski is off to a solid start in the squared circle, so Ray Edwards thought he'd give it go. The Vikings defensive end made his boxing debut last night a successful one by rolling to a unanimous decision victory, 40-34, 39-35 and 40-34, over T.J. Gibson at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn.

Edwards knocked Gibson down twice in the fight. Once in the first and again in the fourth.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Edwards found out boxing is no easy craft even against a 5-9, 210-pound opponent.

"I definitely stayed behind my jab and just keep working. He got a couple of good shots off and [it was]�a little rougher than I expected but I rush 300-pound guys all day so I'm used to it. Guys trying to be rough," Edwards told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Earlier in the week, the 26-year-old Edwards was challenged by promoter Jared Shaw, who represents former street fighter and MMA practitioner Kimbo Slice.

Slice, 37, last fought for the UFC in May of 2010 and wants to try his hand at boxing. Shaw said Kimbo is open to a fight against Edwards.

"I have no idea [if that will happen]. I don't know if they want to fight MMA�or fight in a back alley. I�have no idea. But whatever they want to do, we're just going to keep training right now and just keep going forward," said Jeff Warner, Edwards' trainer. "[...] If they want to call me, give me a holler, we'll sit down and the bottom line is you put some numbers together we'll do it."

Vikings writer Judd Zulgad said Edwards needs some work:

I am�certainly not a boxing expert,�but�it�should come as no�surprise that Edwards remains very much a work in progress as a boxer.�It will be interesting to see who he�ends up facing on�June 24 in his next fight. That also is scheduled to be at Grand Casino Hinckley and if the opponent is a step up from Gibson (both in size and in quality) Edwards is going to need to be an improved boxer at that point.

Warner was a little more critical.

"Bottom line is he's a great football player and he's a great boxer. He's going to do both. I just want him boxing, I�want him working off his jab and moving. There were times out there he looked incredible tonight and there were times he looked rough. I'm going to be honest with you. I'm not happy," Warner said. "We're going to go back and we're going to work hard on Monday, we're going to work on some things. But overall I was happy. He did about 75 percent of his ability."

Edwards was paid a guaranteed $5,000 and got half of the gate. If nothing changes with the NFL lockout, Edwards is contracted to fight again next month.

Unlike Zbikowski, Edwards has zero amateur background as a boxer. Zbikowski, now 3-0 in his latest pro boxing stint, had over 90 amateur fights before concentrating on his football career at Notre Dame and now the Baltimore Ravens.

Tila Tequila Tamie Sheffield Kelly Monaco Gisele Bündchen Jennifer Aniston

Video: The Stanley Cup is an essential prop for any wedding

We can see no reason why passing around the Stanley Cup can't join the dances with parents, removal of the garter and tossing of the bouquet as essential components of the modern wedding.

Hell, make the wedding party create a tin-foil replica so the bride and groom can suck down some kind of champagne/beer/backwash concoction from it like they're Milan Lucic in the Boston Bruins locker room after Game 7.

From Julia & Patrick's Wedding at the Springhill Marriott in Devens, Mass. ... in case you couldn't tell from the Marky Mark song.

Rachel Weisz Miranda Kerr Sarah Shahi Anna Paquin Diane Kruger

Sharapova is Wimbledon?s new favorite and next upset possibility

Busted Racquet previews the women's quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

We knew the women's field at Wimbledon was wide open, but this is ridiculous. Consider: there are only two repeat quarterfinalists from last year. Eight different European countries are represented, the first time that's ever happened in a Grand Slam. And each of the top three seeds have been eliminated in addition to the two sisters that accounted for nine of the 10 tournament championships held by the field.

Top half

The upsets are good news for Maria Sharapova, a pre-tournament favorite and the only woman left in the draw with a major victory. With Caroline Wozniacki's fourth-round loss, Sharapova's road to her second Wimbledon title is clear. Whether she can get there will depend on three things: her serve, her serve and her serve.

Given the tumult of this year's women's draw, Sharapova's status as presumptive tournament favorite probably makes her its next victim. Dominika Cibulkova is a tough quarterfinal matchup (maybe even tougher than Wozniacki would have been) and a semifinal against either the big-serving Sabine Lisicki or former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli is ripe with upset chances. Still, this is Sharapova's tournament to lose.

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Bottom half

Take a dart and throw it at any of the names on this side of the draw. As long as you don't hit the name of 80th-ranked Tamira Paszek, your pick is as good as any. Even Tsvetana Pironkova, who entered Wimbledon with a 6-15 record this season and only one career appearance beyond the third round of a Slam, could continue her unlikely run if her serve keeps cracking. More likely though, it will be either Victoria Azarenka or Petra Kvitova emerging from this side and playing for their first Grand Slam title. Though Azarenka is the highest remaining seed, Petra Kvitova has to be considered the favorite. Her booming groundstrokes got her to last year's Wimbledon final and a repeat engagement could be in order.

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The winners and the losers: setting up Friday?s games

Week Two's Friday Night Football doubleheader should be an interesting one, as each game features a pair of teams with identical records. The first one should feature a battle of terrific running backs, as Cory Boyd and the Toronto Argonauts (1-0 after a close 23-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders in Week One) head to Winnipeg to take on Fred Reid (pictured above taking a handoff from �quarterback Buck Pierce last week) and the Blue Bombers (7:30 p.m. Eastern, TSN), who also picked up a win in their season-opener on the road in Hamilton. The late game features two teams in the opposite situation, with the aforementioned 0-1 Stampeders travelling to B.C. to face the Lions (10:30 p.m. Eastern, TSN), who narrowly fell 30-26 to Montreal in their first game. Regardless of who emerges victorious in these games, unless there are one or more ties, we'll have a 2-0 team, two 1-1 teams and a 0-2 team, or binomial theorem-endorsed results.

Does that really mean all that much, though? From the point of view of the standings, winning games in Weeks One and Two is no more important than winning games in Weeks Eight and Twelve. A win is a win is a win, and a loss is a loss is a loss. What's in a win? That which we call a win in any other week would be as important to determine who makes the playoffs, and every team's still going to have 16 games to play after this week. It's worth noting that the defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes went 1-1 in their first two weeks of play last season. They were 2-0 after two weeks en route to winning in 2009, but the eventual champion Stampeders were only 1-1 after two weeks in 2008. Saskatchewan was 2-0 in 2007, but B.C. was only 1-1 in 2006. Thus, sweeping the first two games is hardly a prerequisite to lifting the Grey Cup, although it's probably best not to lose your first two games.

It is possible that the first two games of the CFL season have a larger effect than your average two games, though, as there are potential morale and momentum implications to consider. That's particularly true in Winnipeg, where the Bombers haven't won their first two games since 2003. Winning the first two might help the team's confidence and convince the players to buy into the team's systems and philosophies, which is certainly a possible outcome in Toronto as well. Losing the first two might raise major questions, especially for a team that was highly-touted heading into the season, which could apply to either Calgary or Vancouver. There's a long way to go after this still, but the start to the season certainly doesn't seem to be insignificant.

In Winnipeg, expect a game with plenty of ground-and-pound action, as the CFL's top two backs from a yardage perspective last season (the Bombers' Reid and the Argonauts' Boyd) are both expected to feature heavily. Both teams also have solid defences; Toronto held Calgary's vaunted attack to just 21 points last week, while Winnipeg only conceded 16 against Hamilton. Both of these squads have quarterback issues as well. �Pierce may have survived a massive hit last week, but he only threw for 151 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 46.2 per cent completion rate. Cleo Lemon led the Argonauts to victory, but looked more like the sour old version than the supposedly new-and-improved model, completing 16 of 30 passes for 187 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Thus, we might not see a passing shootout.

Out in B.C., we may see a higher-scoring match. Both teams have dominant aerial attacks, with Travis Lulay (pictured leaping for a touchdown in last year's playoff game against Saskatchewan last year) throwing for 366 yards and a touchdown in the Lions' first game (with a 57.8 per cent completion rate) and Henry Burris throwing for 293 (with a 70.3 per cent completion rate and an interception). Calgary also has a strong rushing game with Joffrey Reynolds, Jon Cornish and Burris' own mobility, while B.C. has more questions there; Jamal Robertson and Andrew Harris are talented, but weren't used much in Week One.

Both defences in the late game have some question marks, especially in the secondary, but the Lions would appear to have the special-teams edge with outstanding veteran kicker Paul McCallum and promising returner Tim Brown (the CFL's special-teams player of the week in Week One). Calgary returner Larry Taylor's certainly accomplished plenty in the CFL to date as well, but wasn't quite as impressive in the first week; he did pick up 121 yards on five kick returns and 95 yards on nine punt returns, but did lose a fumble. The Stampeders have a great punter in Burke Dales, but will be relying on unproven kicker Rene Paredes thanks to an injury to Rob Maver. Each of these squads will do all they can to avoid an 0-2 start, but only one will be likely able to (barring a tie). We'll see who triumphs under the Friday night lights.

Veronica Kay Mýa Natalie Imbruglia Patricia Velásquez Jennifer Morrison