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  1. You think all jerseys should be bedazzled – much, much better than just plain jerseys.

  2. You love football in October because the players wear pink on their uniforms.

  3. Your friends can tell at least one story over and over again about something you said or did during a sporting event, and EVERYONE laughs!

  4. You’ve ever stood up and cheered when the OTHER team scored.

  5. You really don’t know the names of any players unless they’ve been in an underwear commercial or appeared on the cover of GQ.

  6. Your boyfriend or husband rolls his eyes when you say ANYTHING about sports.

  7. You think football games in January are ridiculously cold – who cares about the play-offs?

  8. You cringe when your boyfriend or husband wants to have people over to watch “the game”. Who wants to watch a silly game when you can watch Lifetime or reruns of Glee?

  9. You’ve sat at home at least one time when EVERYONE you was at a game or at a bar watching a game.

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By Lisa Welz

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In an unusual past-meets-the-present moment, Bobby Hull, one of the best Chicago Blackhawks players ever to grace the ice, and a current great, the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, met this month in a move that had been anticipated more with each game.
No, they didn’t slap each other on the back or have a beer at the local hotspot. They met metaphorically when Kane tied Hull’s record of scoring in 21 consecutive games, and then blew right past him as he continued scoring in subsequent games, to his current 26 game streak.
According to Kevin Allen, writing for USA Today, “The next milestone in the streak for Kane, who plays against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday (Dec. 15), would be 30 games, which is what Mats Sundin reached in 1992 while playing for the Quebec Nordiques and is the fourth-longest streak in NHL history. Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL record with at least a point in 51 games in 1983-84.”
Hull, who earned the nickname “The Golden Jet” thanks to his blonde hair, good looks, the slap shot he perfected, and speed on the ice, was born in Canada in 1939, one of 11 children. He played minor and Jr. “B” hockey before joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957 at the age of 18.
It didn’t take long for him to be seen as a rising star, even as a rookie while he was acclimated to the new team and environment. He played as numbers 16 and 7 before settling on his to-be-famous number nine, a nod to his childhood idol, Gordie Howe.
The left wing may not have been a big guy, standing at 5’10”, but he made up for it with his impressive speed and swagger on the ice. “Hull had a remarkable physique with his muscular torso and powerful legs. His slap shot was a blur, often traveling more than 100 mph as he terrorized goaltenders with its speed and accuracy,” wrote Larry Schwartz for ESPN.com.
“Goalie Les Binkley was quoted by Charles Wilkins in “Hockey: The Illustrated History” as saying, “When the puck left his stick, it looked like a pea. Then as it picked up speed it looked smaller and smaller. Then you didn’t see it anymore.” Hull’s 39 goals won him the Art Ross Trophy for most goals in the 1959-60 season,” noted biography.com.
In addition to helping his team bring home the Stanley Cup in 1961, Hull has impressive stats, including: 913 career goals, 895 career assists, 1808 career points, was the first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season.
“Hull finished second in the Calder Trophy voting for the NHL’s top rookie in 1957-58 and quickly helped return a struggling Chicago franchise to prominence,” Biography.com added. “He topped the NHL with 39 goals and 81 assists in 1959-60, and the following season led the Black Hawks to the Stanley Cup championship (and was) renowned as part of Chicago’s ‘Million Dollar Line’ with Murray Balfour and Bill Hay. Hull tied the single-season record of 50 goals in 1961-62, and reached that plateau four more times over the next decade, with a high of 58 in 1968-69. He also won back-to-back Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player in 1966 and ’67, and was named a first-team NHL All-Star 10 times.”
Then came the day that Hull, due to years of arguments with Blackhawks’ management over salary, signed to be a player/coach with the Winnipeg Jets in the new World Hockey Association. The year was 1972. He went on to lead the team to three Avco Cup championships in addition to claiming two MVP awards.
In the 1979-80 season, Hull divided his time playing for the Jets and the Houston Whalers, retiring at the end of the season. A brief comeback was attempted in 1981 with the New York Rangers, but both sides decided, after five exhibition games, that it was best to end it. Two years later, in 1983, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and became the second player to have his number retired by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hull has been married three times, with the last two women alleging abuse from Hull. He has a total of six children with the youngest, Jessica, from a relationship between his second and third marriages. His son, Brett, finished his career with the third highest goal total in the NHL and with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, makes them the first father/son duo to be inducted. They are also the first father/son pair to both have 50 goals in a NHL season, more than 600 NHL goals. And are also the only father-and-son tandem to win the Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy.
Hull summarized his career, saying, “It was the greatest time of my life. I’ve really never, ever had a job. I played hockey. And if you like what you’re doing, it’s not a job. And there were times in there when everything didn’t go my way, but no one ever said that life was all a bowl of cherries.”

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By Lisa Welz

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The world of professional baseball is rife with so-called curses and superstitions, something that isn’t nearly as common in other sports. While the Chicago Cubs seem to have the most curses following them, their competitors have their own to deal with. It seems as though any lackluster season or hated trade or failure to win this game or that pennant is grounds for the blame game, and what’s more fun than blaming it on some curse?
Perhaps the most amusing is the spreading of the well-known Cubs’ curse to other teams by way of the “Ex-Cubs Factor,” a theory that freelance journalist Ron Berler developed in 1981 when he declared it would decide the World Series winner that year.
The premise he stood on applied, he said, to any team with three or more former Cubs players on its roster, post 1945. It would be the kiss of death to any team playing in the World Series. He pointed to several games as proof: 1958 Milwaukee Braves, 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers, 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 1980 Kansas City Royals.
“This seems a trivial observation,” Berler wrote, about the game that pitted the New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Dodgers, “But it will spell the Yankees’ doom should they reach the World Series. According to The Ex-Cub Factor, it is utterly impossible for a team with three or more ex-Cubs to win the series. No doubt this comes as startling news to the betting public: Behind every major failure in the sport stands a Chicago Cub.”
He added, “It’s no secret that Cubs have always been ‘different’ from other major leaguers. In fact, some say that the Cubs are the Moonies of baseball, that the ball club possesses eerie, bewitching powers over its players.”
The only exception to his theory, he said, were the 1960 Pittsburg Pirates. Since his article was published, the list has been added to with: the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, and the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
Columnist Mike Royko added his own, modified Ex-Cub Factor when he declared, “A team with no ex-Cubs probably has an edge on a team that has even one.”

Curse of the Bambino

The “Curse of the Bambino,” depending on who you talked to, of course, was generally not taken too seriously by Boston Red Sox fans. It’s said to have its roots in famed player Babe Ruth, who was sometimes called “The Bambino,” when he was sent to the New York Yankees during the 1919-1920 off-season.
The result was an 86-year stretch that ended in 2004, where the team would fail to bring home a World Series win. Prior to that, the team had brought home World Series titles, making them one of the most successful teams to that point. The curse continued as the success shifted from the barren Red Sox to the triumphant Yankees, and only added to the two teams’ rivalry.
The curse had become so accepted as a part of Boston’s culture that a road sign on Longfellow Bridge had been decorated with graffiti reading, “Reverse the Curse” and was not cleaned off by the city. When the team won in 2004, the graffiti was changed to “Curse Reversed.”
The “Curse of the Colonel” is often compared to the Bambino curse and was supposedly done by Colonel Harland Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, because he was mad that fans of the Hanshin Tigers in Japan tossed his statue into the canal while celebrating their win in 1985. They have returned to the Japan Championship Series three times since then, losing each time.

Curse of Rocky Colavito

In another trade-inspired curse, this one is attached to the Cleveland Indians and began in 1960 when they traded right fielder Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn. It was a trade of the “The Rock,” their beloved home run champion of 1959 for the Detroit Tigers 1959 hitting champion.
The curse was first trotted out in print as a possibility by sports writer Terry Pluto in his 1994 book, “The Curse of Rocky Colavito: A Loving Look at a 33-Year Slump.” In the book, he said the trade, made by general manager Frank Lane, was the catalyst in denying the Indians the ability to finish a season within 11 games of first place since 1960 until the year his book came out. At that time, the team had not won a pennant since 1954 or a World Series since 1948.
Since then the Indians have won seven division titles and two American League pennants, but have not won a World Series Championship. It is that failure that leads some to believe the curse is still in place.

Curse of the Yankees

While there is no official “Curse of the Yankees,” there are several different people or actions that have had some declaring a curse is in place. They range from player/coach Don Mattingly to the 1912 road uniform.
Robert A. George, a New York Times editorial writer who blogs on Ragged Thots, wrote in 2007, “Mattingly IS the ‘curse’ of the Yankees. He is the best player the Yankees have ever had WHO NEVER WON ANYTHING. I made this point in one of my earliest RT posts. Time has proven my point even more: The Yankees haven’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs since Mattingly returned to the team as a coach.”
The Yankees’ road uniform from 1912, when they were still called the Highlanders, saw what have been the worst season ever, finishing the season with 50-102, 55 games behind the champion Red Sox.
100 years later they reprised the uniform for their 2012 game against the Red Sox and might have broken any curse that existed with a 6-2 win that day. It was the first time in Yankee history that the team wore a “throwback” uniform of any type.

Curse of Taylor Swift

Proving that anyone can be blamed for a team, or teams, losing games is this year’s Curse of Taylor Swift. Fans claim it has hit the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, and the San Diego Padres.
Rachel Handler, writing for Time, pointed out, “Pre-Swift concert, the Houston Astros were 55-45 and held the first wild-card spot. But since Swift blew into town in September, Houston has turned in a lackluster 7-11 record, including losing seven of the eight games that followed her appearance. As ESPN—which calls the situation a “curse”—points out, ‘When was the last time the Astros missed the postseason after being at least 10 games over .500 at the halfway point of the season? In 1989. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.’”
Another time, two nights after Swift was in Washington’s National Park, the lights went out and play was suspended. The Nationals then blew a lead in the NL East. Similarly, the Padres went 11-17 since Swift appeared at Petco Park.
Max Scherzer, a pitcher for the Nationals, on July 17, 2015, tweeted, “Well who was the last one to use Nationals Park last? Taylor Swift..I blame her for the power outs tonight. We now have #BadBlood.”

Baseball has weird superstitions

It’s certainly possible that other sports have their own superstitions, but baseball has a lot of really weird ones. Bleacherreport.com generously outlined 50 of them. The most amusing of the bunch cover a wide range, beginning with New York Yankees’ Jason Giambi, who wears a gold thong when he is in a slump.
They also report: that Moises Alou, who battled Steve Bartman for the foul ball while playing for the Cubs, was said to pee on his hands to make them tougher; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher R. A. Dickey names his bats; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Matt Garza goes to Popeye’s Chicken every day he is scheduled to start; Ryan Dempster, when he played for the Chicago Cubs, always ate the night before a home game at a favorite Italian restaurant; Wade Boggs, the third baseman who played most of his career for the Boston Red Sox had several superstitions that led him to take batting practice at 5:17 p.m. when playing a night game, only accepting exactly 150 grounders during warm up, and writing the Hewbrew word chai, which means life, in the dirt of the batters box with his bat.
her amusing superstitions include: Kevin Rhomberg who would tag back any player that tagged him out; Turk Wendell who jumped over the foul line when entering or leaving the field, chewed four pieces of black licorice each inning he pitched, would brush his teeth between innings, wore 99 on all his jerseys, signed a contract in 2000 for $9,999,999.99, and wore a necklace made of teeth from hunted animals as a good luck charm; and Charlie Kerfeld, a pitcher with the Astros for almost his whole career, insisted he be given 37 boxes of orange Jello with his contract (his number was 37) and he wore his favorite Jetsons t-shirt under his uniform at every game.

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By Lisa Welz
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Dick Butkus is the stuff legends are made of. Although he was 6’3” tall, he seemed taller. While 245 pounds, he seemed bigger. Faster. Meaner. And, boy, could he jump higher. Maybe the resolve to be the best burned brightest in him.
Butkus once said, “”I want to be recognized as the best-no doubt about it. When they say all-pro middle linebacker, I want them to mean Butkus!”
According to ChicagoBears.com, “Players, coaches, journalists all struggled for years to come up with an appropriate nickname for the dynamic Butkus. But no one moniker—‘The Enforcer’… ‘The Maestro of Mayhem’… ‘The Robot of Destruction’… ‘The Animal’–could adequately describe his brand of football.”
Butkus was the youngest of nine children who grew up in a modest home on Chicago’s south side with parents who emigrated from Lithuania. He played collegiate football for the University of Illinois from 1962 to 1964, earning both MVP and player of the year titles. Since then he has been named sixth-best ever college football player by College Football News and 19 of the top 25 college players by ESPN.
When it came time for the 1965 draft, he was drafted in the first round by both the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears. Choosing the home team, he made 11 unassisted tackles in his spectacular first game, helping the team turn the tide from the first three game losses to winning nine of their last 11 games, with Butkus leading in both opponents’ fumble recoveries and pass interceptions.
ChicagoBears.com noted, “He won his first game ball in the season’s sixth game and Associated Press named him the all-NFL middle linebacker. His only challenger for Rookie of the Year honors came from his offensive counterpart with the Bears, halfback Gale Sayers, who burst onto the NFL offensive scene with the same impact Butkus created around the league defensively. Such honors were to be an every-season thing for Dick.”
According to ChicagoBears.com, statistics for his nine seasons on the turf show he stole the ball 47 times, a team record; recovered 25 opponent fumbles, an NFL record at the time, intercepted 22 passes, returned 12 kickoffs, once rushed 28 yards on a fake punt play, twice caught passes after fumbled snaps.
“If records were kept of fumbles forced, he would undoubtedly own all-time high mark…In fact, he calls his leaping catch for the extra point that beat Washington, 16-15, in 1971 the favorite play of his career,” they wrote, adding, “He had drive, meanness, a consuming desire to pursue, tackle, butt and manhandle-anything he could do to thwart the enemy on every play. Still he was a clean football player, fantastically devoted to his career, a man who by his own admission played every game as though it were his last one. He had the speed and quickness to make tackles from sideline to sideline and to cover the best tight ends and running backs on pass plays. He had instinct, strength, leadership, and, maybe most important of all, anger.”
In the end, it was a right knee injury in 1970 that began Butkus slide toward retirement. He had surgery in the off-season, but played while in pain the next two seasons. The 1973 season was a short one for him as he, for the first time, took himself out of a game because the pain was too much for him to handle. A few weeks later his career was over.
He later sued the Chicago Bears, alleging improper handling of his injury. The suit was settled out of court for $600,000 and, according to Gannett News Service and sports.jrank.org, in 1997 underwent reconstructive knee surgery.
In 1979, the first year he was eligible, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Off the field, Butkus married his high school sweetheart, Helen, in 1963, and they had three children, Ricky, Matt and Nikki. Sometime after his induction he moved his family to Malibu, California.
It was from there he was able to enjoy a second career as an endorser, broadcaster, and actor. His film credits are rather lengthy, including the well-known movies of “The Longest Yard,” “Johnny Dangerously,” “Gremlins II,” and “Necessary Roughness.” Some of his many television credits include: “My Two Dads,” “Brian’s Song,” “Rockford Files,” “MacGyver,” and served as an analyst on “The NFL Today.”
Butkus also served as head football coach for Montour High School in McKees Rock, Pa. That was the same year the team made it to ESPN’s reality show “Bound for Glory.”
The Butkus Foundation includes several programs, from the “I Play Clean” program that encourages teens to train hard, eat well and play with attitude rather than drugs, to the Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness, and the premier Butkus Award, honoring linebackers at high school, college and pro levels.

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By Lisa Welz

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After a long wait in line, you’re finally reaching your goal, a front row seat on a roller coaster with a big reputation for thrills. The lap bar snaps into place, the coaster takes a long time to climb the first hill, and then it crests. As your hair streams back, you catch your breath in a gasp, and then let out a scream as you plunge down 200 feet of rail at 73 miles an hour.
Three minutes later, you’ve survived the mile-long steel track of steep hills and hard-banking twists of Great America’s Raging Bull, the coaster with an altitude. You step off, breathless and energized, heart pumping, and ready to jump on again.
Sometimes people experience those extreme highs and lows, twists and turns, over the course of their life. Former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly is one of them, as his football career twisted and turned, and afterward, as he has endured some of the biggest personal highs and lows possible.
Kelly grew up in Pennsylvania, played high school football, and had high hopes of playing for Penn State during his college years, and he could have, if he wanted to play as a linebacker instead of quarterback. He turned them down and went to play for University of Miami. He recalled that time during an interview with Thomas Neumann for ESPN in 2010, saying, “My first start my freshman year was at Penn State, and coach [Howard Schnellenberger] didn’t tell me I was starting until about three hours before the game. First thing I did was I threw up…But we upset Penn State.”
In 1983, Kelly was drafted as the first round, 14th pick, by the Buffalo Bills, one of the teams he had hoped wouldn’t pick him because he dislikes the cold. It was a moment that almost didn’t happen, though. He had a shoulder injury during the Miami vs. Virginia Tech game and was told that not only would it end his collegiate career, but also that he would never throw the ball again. He proved them wrong and the Bills took a chance on a guy with rods in his arm.
Talking with Neumann, he recalled, “No, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t think Ralph Wilson was going to bring in the people it took to build a championship team there. So, I went to the USFL for two years. To be honest, I was very, very, very close to signing; if it wasn’t for a secretary interrupting our meeting, I would’ve been a Buffalo Bill in 1983. She interrupted the meeting, and it was Bruce Allen, George Allen’s son, [on the phone] and he told my agent, ‘Tell Jim, do not sign anything; we’ve got a deal he cannot refuse.’”
After playing with the USFL Houston Gamblers for two years and earning MVP in 1984, Kelly joined the Buffalo Bills in 1986 after the USFL folded because the Bills had retained his NFL rights. He played for them until he retired after the 1996 season. During those 11 years, he helped lead the team to four consecutive Super Bowls and six divisional championships.
Other notable accomplishments, as listed on JimKelly.com, include: five Pro Bowl selections, including one MVP award; fifth fastest quarterback to reach 30,000 yards passing; 500th player ever drafted by the Bills; and his career passing rating of 84.4 is the sixth highest in NFL history. He was also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame his first year eligible, in 2002, joining only seven other quarterbacks to do so.
Life changed dramatically post-retirement, although not quite the way Kelly had expected. He and his wife, Jill, with their daughter Erin a toddler, were expecting another child. Hunter was born on Kelly’s birthday, Feb. 14, 1997, and within a few months he was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, a fatal disease.
Hunter died at the age of eight, having never spoken a word, yet, as Kelly said to Neumann, “Impacted so many lives. It taught us a lot about never giving up, never quitting. My son never did.” He inspired the Kelly’s to begin the Hunter’s Hope Foundation, making a commitment to give hope to families and those afflicted with Krabbe Disease through information, research, support and encouragement.
In the last few years, Kelly himself has had another personal fight on his hands, against cancer in his upper jaw in 2013, which they thought was gone following surgery. It recurred a year later, prompting additional treatment and a declaration in Aug., 2014, that he was once again cancer free. He didn’t have long to relax, however, before he was diagnosed with a MRSA infection in his bones that took another three weeks to battle before being freed of it.
He has also founded Kelly For Kids, to, in his words, “Help kids that are less fortunate and to make their tomorrows a little brighter and to, hopefully, make their dreams come true.” They work to help disabled and disadvantaged kids of western New York through grants. To date they have distributed close to $5 million.
The Jim Kelly Football Camp is another passion of his, serving over 10,000 campers since 1988 to teach them about football fundamentals, health, nutrition, drug awareness, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
Visit JimKelly.com to learn more about the legendary player and find links to the organizations he runs, a list of appearances and speaking engagements, pictures of his outdoor adventures, and much more.

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By Lisa Welz

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Flashback to July 19, 1965. The latest issue of Sports Illustrated has just come out, and there’s a rookie quarterback from the New York Jets on the cover. The lights of Broadway shine behind him, while the caption reads, “Football Goes Show Biz.”
The title would earn Joe Namath the nickname “Broadway Joe,” thanks to teammate Sherman Plunkett and his sense of humor. Years later, Namath would earn the moniker with his second career, his confidence, and his fashion sense, leading him to wear fur coats that somehow seemed to suit him when others would simply look stupid in them.
Fast forward another 50 years, to July, 2015, and Namath was on hand while the iconic image was recreated with the Jets cornerback, Darrelle Revis. He played part of the entourage in the reprised image and the timing invited interesting comparisons between 1965 and 2015.
For instance, the median price of a new house in 1965 was $21,000 while today it is $275,000. A gallon of gas then was 31 cents per gallon while today it slides between $2.15 and $2.60. Most fitting, given Namath’s second career in showbiz, was the comparison of the top box office summer flick—“Sound of Music” in 1965 and “Jurassic World” this year.
The media darling with the cleft chin that had women swooning in the 60’s, got his start in Beaver Falls, Penn., and played not only football, but baseball and basketball as well. Offers came in from several MLB teams, including the Yankees, Mets, Indians, Pirates and Phillies, but Namath would ultimately choose football.
He has been quoted saying he chose football because his mother wanted him to get a college education. Denied admission to University of Maryland, despite their recruitment of him, Namath chose to play for Coach Bear Bryant and the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide on a full-ride scholarship. He left the school early to enter the world of professional football and didn’t receive his degree until 2007 when he returned to complete the requirements.
Drafted on Nov. 28, 1964, by both the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and the AFL’s New York Jets, Namath chose the Jets for a reported salary of $427,000 for three years, then a record, and he was named Rookie of the Year, having helped win five of the last eight games his first season.
He was also well known throughout the league for making bold predictions and the one remembered by most people came in 1969 when he said the Jets would defeat the Buffalo Colts in Super Bowl III. It was a bold statement because they were 19-point underdogs, but he was proved right when they won 17-6 and Namath took home MVP honors.
Namath played for the Jets from 1965 to 1976 and then played in 1977 for the Los Angeles Rams before retiring. He was plagued throughout his career by knee injuries and eventually had knee replacements in both legs post-retirement. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
According to BroadwayJoe.tv, Namath’s personal website, he has some solid career stats: 3,762 pass attempts, 1,886 pass completions, a 50.1 percentage, 173 touchdowns, 220 interceptions, 27,663 passing yards, and a QB rating of 65.5.
Never suffering from a lack of confidence, Namath is quoted by profootballhof.com as saying, “I’m convinced I’m better than anybody else. I’ve been convinced of that for quite a while. I haven’t seen anything out there that I couldn’t do and do well…I get annoyed with myself for doing something wrong…I tell myself, ‘You’re the best, damn it, do it right.’”
It’s that confidence, and showmanship, that likely contributed to his second career in the entertainment industry. He appeared in a number of memorable television commercials, most notably for Ovaltine, Noxema (where he was shaved by Farrah Fawcett), and Hanes pantyhose. It resulted in his becoming what some might consider a pop icon.
He is also credited on IMDb.com with roles in movies and television series, as well as guest appearances. The long list includes many notable shows, including, “Here’s Lucy,” “The Brady Bunch,” “The Flip Wilson Show,” “Laugh-in,” “The Dean Martin Show,” “The Simpsons,” “The A-Team,” and “ALF.” He was a guest host on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” several times, hosted his own show, “The Joe Namath Show.”
Namath was also a commentator for NFL games, including “Monday Night Football” in 1985. He is credited with a role playing himself in this year’s “The Wedding Ringer” and is a host on the current show, “The Competitive Edge with Joe Namath.”
Married and divorced, the father of two adult girls, he has not always been on a clean-cut path. Following a disastrous interview on ESPN, when he told interviewer Suzy Kolber on-air that he wanted to kiss her, Namath checked himself into rehab for alcoholism, a battle he talked about in his book, “Namath” that was released in 2004.
He has also been involved with a number of philanthropic projects, including The March of Dimes, The Marty Lyons Classic, Joe Namath/John Dockery Football Camp, and Children First Foundation. This summer, he also posted a reward of $100,000 for the safe return of two 14-year-old boys who disappeared while fishing off the Florida coastline.

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By Lisa Welz
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For more than 70 years the Chicago Cubs have lived under “The Curse of the Billy Goat.” Despite fervent hopes, fueled by a young, energetic team with a new manager and prediction made in the movie “Back to the Future” that the Cubs would break the curse and win the World Series in 2015, the season ended with the now-traditional “Wait ‘til next year” mantra.
According to BillyGoatTavern.com, the curse happened on Oct. 6, 1945. The Cubs were about to play game four of the World Series and were leading the Detroit Tigers, two games to one. The last four games, of which they only needed to win two, were to be played at Wrigley Field.
It was at that game, they said, “A local Greek, William “Billy Goat” Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to game four. Hoping to bring his team good luck he took his pet goat, Murphy, with him to the game. At the entrance to the park, the Andy Fran ushers stopped Billy Goat from entering saying that no animals are allowed in the park. Billy Goat, frustrated, appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley.”
Having no idea what would come next, “Wrigley replied, ‘Let Billy in, but not the goat.’ He asked, ‘Why not the goat?’ Wrigley answered, ‘Because the goat stinks.’ According to legend, the goat and Billy were upset, so then Billy threw up his arms and exclaimed, ‘The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.’”
And so the curse was born. And the long history of trying to lift the curse began. First, Sianis, in 1969, claimed he was satisfied and the curse was lifted, to no avail. Then, in 1973, his nephew, Sam Saianis, the new owner of the tavern, tried to lift the curse by bringing the goat to Wrigley Field in a limo and given a red carpet entrance to the park.
Sadly, the tavern reported, ushers at the entrance once again denied entrance to the goat, this time named Socrates, a descendent of the original goat, Murphy. A repeat attempt in 1984, when the Tribune Company, new owners of the Cubs, invited the goat and Sianis to walk the field. This time the goal was achieved, but 31 years later the curse seems to live on.
This year, the curse of the goat was given a new face, thanks to its original name, except it wasn’t fuzzy, nor did it have horns. It came to life in the form of the New York Mets player, Daniel Murphy, an infielder with a hot hitting streak who not only hit a big homer in every game of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs this year, but had 13 runs for 18 hits in the post season.
Asked what he made of the whole curse thing, Murphy said, “Is that the name of the goat? Is that what it is? Somebody told me that today…What do I make of that? A unique coincidence.”
It does lead to the question, What now? Will the Cubs have to invite Daniel Murphy, together with the Billy Goat, to a red carpet event next year to attempt to lift the curse that has taken on far more importance in the minds of fans than William Sianis ever dreamed of? Or is it all just a bunch of so-called malarkey?

Black cat

The 1969 Cubs team was thought to be one of the greatest ever with a team roster that included legends Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, and Billy Williams. Then, in September, they blew a nine game lead to the Mets in what sports writer Anthony McClarren, writing for the New York Daily News wrote was “One of the most infamous pennant collapses in history.”
Was it just a bad day, simple poor luck, or something more? Superstitious folks believe that a black cat, who ran onto the field during play, and ran around Ron Santo as he was standing in the on-deck circle, was instrumental. The cat then slunk under the stands and was not seen again.

Bartman

Murphy isn’t the only name Cubs fans detest. Just utter the name Bartman and see what reaction you’ll get. A grimace. A glare. Maybe a phrase not to be repeated around kids. Is Bartman a curse on the Cubs history and to its future? Unlikely, but what he did is certainly a reminder to other fans to keep their hands to themselves until a foul ball is well out of range of any player trying to catch it.
The day it happened, Oct. 14, 2003, it wasn’t just any game being played, but a playoff game against the Marlins, where the Cubs were just one playoff game away from the World Series. The fated moment happened when left fielder Moises Alou seemed to climb the wall in an attempt to catch a ball.
He almost had it, and most people think he would have caught it if not for a 26-year-old man from Chicago’s north suburbs, Steve Bartman. Just as Alou’s mitt was about to snag it out of the air for a second out, Bartman reached out and deflected the ball. What could have stopped the momentum the Marlins had found that game instead led to the Cubs’ collapse as the game unraveled despite the three to zero lead. Once again the Cubs lost.
For protection from the irate fans, Bartman was escorted away by security. Later he apologized to fans, saying, “”There are few words to describe how awful I feel and what I have experienced within these last twenty-four hours. I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan’s broken heart. I ask that Cub fans everywhere redirect the negative energy that has been vented towards my family, my friends and myself into the usual positive support for our beloved team on their way to being National League champs.”
On Feb. 26, the ball at the center of the incident, dubbed the “Bartman Ball” was blown up after three pops of light and one loud bang. The media spectacle, was organized by Harry Caray’s, who bought the ball for $113,824 and hoped the action would lift the curse off the Cubs team.
According to USA Today writer, Mike Dodd, “Hollywood special effects expert Michael Lantieri engineered the destruction, which he said was carried out with a combination of heat, pressure and high explosives. He drilled a tiny hole in the bottom of the ball to place the explosives inside and attached shock-tube detonators on the outside…The pre-explosion setup looked like something from Frankenstein’s lab in a grade B Hollywood movie. The ball sat in a bullet-proof tank in front of three pipes topped by softball-sized metal balls ‘just to make it look good,’ Lantieri said.”
Dodd quoted Alou at that time as saying, “I don’t care about the ball. That wasn’t the reason why we lost.” No Cubs player, nor Bartman, was present when the ball was destroyed.

Moving on

There are other minor events over the years that some will claim are curses, but really read as stupid errors made by baseball players who are human and will make mistakes no matter how much they practice or who the coach is.
Even so, the fans this year cheered their team on, even when it was clear they were not going to advance, and after that final game against the Mets, the players came on the field and showed their fans some love. Then they disappeared into the locker room to regroup and begin planning their strategy for next season. After all, next year is going to be their year, the one where the curse is broken and they win the World Series.

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By Lisa Welz

It’s an intense game of Neighborhood Charades, the finals, and your team just needs one more point to win bragging rights for the next year. Finally, you have the chance to wrestle the trophy from that team from the opposite block, the one that wins every year.Reading the card, you turn back to face your team and a smile stretches from ear to ear. You pose in your best frozen-action stance, one knee raised and bent, an arm outstretched, and the other cradling an invisible ball. You give them the side eye and say, “They call me Sweetness.” Boom! Mic drop.The other team groans, knowing it’s all over as your team erupts off the couch, yelling the name of football’s greatest player, Walter Payton. In that momen...

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By Lisa Welz

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“There are thousands of people who have played in the National Hockey League over the years, but there has been only one Wayne Gretzky,” wrote Malcolm Gladwell in his article, ‘The Physical Genius’ for The New Yorker. “Thousands of cellists play professionally all over the world, but very few will ever earn comparison with Yo-Yo Ma…They’re what we might call physical geniuses. But what makes them so good at what they do?”
Gladwell contends that “physical genius” is not only having the skills to do something, but knowing what to do on an instinctive level, or having the ability to pick up on subtleties that others don’t—and maybe can’t—see.
He added, “This is what we mean when we say that great athletes have a ‘feel’ for the game, or that they ‘see’ the court or the field or the ice in a special way. Wayne Gretzky, in a 1981 game against the St. Louis Blues, stood behind the St. Louis goal, laid the puck across the blade of his stick, then bounced it off the back of the goalie in front of him and into the net. Gretzky’s genius at that moment lay in seeing a scoring possibility where no one had seen one before. ‘People talk about skating, puck-handling, and shooting,’ Gretzky told an interviewer some years later, ‘But the whole sport is angles and caroms, forgetting the straight direction the puck is going, calculating where it will be diverted, factoring in all the interruptions.’”
“The Great One,” as Gretzky was nicknamed, has long been touted as the greatest hockey player ever by sportswriters, other players, and, surprisingly, the National Hockey League.
Born in 1961, it might be said that Gretzky began his career many years before he was drafted into the NHL, when he learned to skate at two years old on a rink built by his father, Walter Gretzky, at their home in Brantford, Ontario. Then, at the age of six, he joined a team of 10-year-old players, scoring one goal in his first season and ending his final minor league season with 378 goals scored.
He began his professional hockey career at 17 with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association in fall of 1978, according to his personal website, Gretzky.com. Then, 25 games later, the franchise folded and his contract was sold to the Edmonton Oilers. He remained there until 1988 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a move that shocked and dismayed hockey fans all across Canada. Seven years later he went to the St. Louis Blues for one year and then to the New York Rangers for three years before retiring in 1999.
He was the ninth player to be immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame upon his retirement and the first in hockey history to have his jersey number, 99, retired league wide. He chose that number as a teenager when the number nine, a number made popular by Gordie Howe, was taken by another player and used it from that point forward.

Statistically speaking

Gretzky has an impressive number of NHL records. John Kreiser, writing for NHL.com, outlined 25 of them a couple years ago. Among those making the list were: most career points at 2,857; most career goals of 894; most career assists of 1,963; most goals in a season of 92; most points in a season at 215; longest point-scoring streak at 51 games; most 100 point seasons at 15; most shorthanded goals in a career at 73; fewest games to reach 500 goals at 575; fewest games to reach 1,000 points at 424; most playoff points in a career at 382; most MVP titles at eight; and most consecutive scoring titles with seven.
Gladwell noted, “(Gretzky) made hockey look easy, even as he was playing in a way that made it more complicated…He sees not so much a set of moving players as a number of situations…When he sends a pass to what to the rest of us appears an empty space on the ice, and when a teammate magically appears in that space to collect the puck, he has in reality simply summoned up from his bank account of knowledge the fact that in a particular situation, someone is likely to be in a particular spot, and if he is not there now he will be there presently.”
Gretzky put it a little differently, saying, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is at. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Off the ice

Gretzky married American actress Janet Jones in 1988 after meeting her on the set of “Dance Fever,” where he had been a judge. The couple has five children and their oldest daughter, Paulina, an actress and model, is engaged to professional golfer Dustin Johnson. Their son, Trevor, signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2011, was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in 2014, and in June was sent to their minor league team, the Orem Owlz.
Gretzky purchased the Hull Olympiques in 1985 and sold them in 1992, bought the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League) with Bruce McNall and John Candy in 1991, and sold them in 1994. He also owned a portion of the Arizona Coyotes, a team he coached from 2005 to 2009 before stepping down amid then owner, Jerry Moyes, filed for bankruptcy. The team had a record of 143-161-24 during his coaching tenure.
On the business side, he is the owner of Wayne Gretzky’s, a popular bar and restaurant in Toronto, Ontario, and Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery. He also operates, and participates in his annual event, Fantasy Camp, where those 21 and over pay $14,999 to spend a week hanging with NHL greats and playing five days of hockey that is intended to replicate playing in the NHL. From the social media postings from 2015 participants, it seems to come pretty close, thrilling those who attend. Proceeds from the event go to the Wayne Gretzky Foundation.
According to Gretzky.com, “Over the next five days, you’ll shoot, pass, and trash talk your way through an intense contest against some of the NHL’s most diehard fans and distinguished alumni–all in an effort to have your name permanently etched onto the Wayne Gretzky Cup (on display at the Great One’s restaurant in downtown Toronto). From professional trainers and medical rooms, to practice sessions and coaches, every essential detail of life in the NHL has been replicated in an effort to create the ultimate fantasy hockey experience. Simply put, it’s a week you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

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