Today's Names to Know: Keith Fitzhugh, Cliff Lee, Albert Haynesworth, Syracuse hoops, Dave Wannstedt, Mike Tyson, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Simmons, Bomani Jones and More.
Programming note: I'll be going on The Score sports radio with my old friend Bomani Jones at 9 a.m. ET to compare and contrast Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. Link to listen here.
Story of the Week: Keith Fitzhugh was given an offer to join the Jets, but turned them down to remain a railroad conductor, to maintain the stability to support his family.
I suspect that Fitzhugh will now get a lot more attention than he would have had he joined the Jets, where he would have merely been a "train-conductor-gets-a-shot" story.
I'm curious that the economics of the NFL mean he would make less money (or more unstable money) than working for the rail; wouldn't the RR take him back if/when his NFL job was over?
He obviously didn't want the uncertainty of being an NFL player at the margins. (If you've read Fatsis' "A Few Seconds of Panic," you know that life at the margins of the NFL basically sucks.)
Hopefully, Fitzhugh can gain extra economic stability from marketing gigs that come with this choice. (Of course, that would mean he wouldn't have time to do his full-time job.)
This story gets even more punch when played in comparison to the Albert Haynesworth suspension (see below).
CBB: Big wins for Syracuse (over Michigan State) and Kansas (over Memphis) last night at the Jimmy V Classic in NYC.
Particularly impressed by the Orange; this win is a signal that they should be taken very seriously as a contender to win it all. (Then again, I said that about Syracuse last year; late-season injuries on the interior killed their chances.)
As for Kansas, who needs highly touted frosh guard Josh Selby when you have the Morris twins inside? I want to see the Morris twins vs. Duke's Plumlees in a tag-team match.
NFL: Albert Haynesworth suspended 4 games -- the rest of the season -- by the Redskins, bringing to a close the DC career of one of the biggest free-agent mistakes ever.
(Note to the Redskins: Good luck with his appeal. They'll end up paying him something for those four weeks; no way they get away free on this.)
MLB Hot Stove: Why hasn't Cliff Lee signed with the Yankees or Rangers yet? Possibly because another team would offer Lee a 7-year deal where the Yankees say they will stop at 6.
(I don't know why the Yankees would be worried about throwing another year on top. 7 years out, it is very possible that $20M a year could be a bargain. It's not like they'll miss the money.)
FWIW: Nolan Ryan seems pretty confident that Lee will re-sign with the Rangers. If he is willing to go up to 7 years -- and he should be -- then he can be confident in re-signing him, too.
NBA: Whither NOLA? Just because the league says it WANTS to keep the Hornets in New Orleans doesn't mean it will. Just ask Sonics fans in Seattle.
CFB: The Dave Wannstedt Era is over at Pitt. Awkwardly, he's not even leaving -- he is stepping aside and taking a new job inside the athletic department.
Replacement? They would be crazy not to make their first call to Al Golden across the other side of the state at Temple, where Golden worked miracles.
Hall of Fame Watch: Mike Tyson, Sly Stallone and J.C. Chavez were inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame, which makes that induction ceremony the Greatest. Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Ever.
Media: Reportedly, my old ESPN colleague Bill Simmons will be doing ESPN's NBA broadcast of the Heat and Warriors on Friday night. Love this idea. Aren't you intrigued enough to tune in, just for Bill?
Hopefully, he will incorporate Twitter in an innovative way; he is savvy enough about it that it could really layer in something new and exciting to the broadcast. (Can you imagine what Mark Jackson would say about that?)